India on Wednesday recorded 32,080 fresh cases of novel coronavirus and 402 deaths, taking the caseload to 97.35 lakh, including 1,41,360 deaths and over 92 lakh recoveries. While the national recovery rate has improved to 94.66 per cent, the fatality rate stands at 1.45 per cent. Meanwhile, Britain’s medicines regulator has issued a warning for people with “significant” history of allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines to not have the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, a day after the first set of patients were administered their first of two doses of the vaccine against Covid-19. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), on the other hand, has said a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the federation of sheikhdoms is 86 per cent effective, though it released few details.
Here are the top Covid-19 developments that you need to know today
CDSCO expert panel seeks more data on Covid vaccines from Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech
An expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on Wednesday sought additional safety and efficacy data for COVID-19 vaccine candidates of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, after deliberating upon their applications seeking emergency use authorisation for the shots, news agency PTI reported citing its official sources.
The application by the Indian arm of US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer was not taken up for deliberation on Wednesday as the firm sought more time for making presentation before the committee, the report said, adding that the applications of both Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India are still under consideration.
Quixplained: Vaccine cold chain network
Covid-19 vaccine: First-shot list has frontline staff, those over 50, young at risk
One crore health care workers, two crore frontline workers including the police and armed forces, and about 27 crore people above the age of 50 years and those less than 50 years with associate comorbidities — these are the three groups who should be simultaneously vaccinated on priority depending on the availability of a vaccine, a high-level expert committee has recommended to the government. “Every single Indian who needs to be vaccinated will be vaccinated,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, who co-chairs the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of Covid-19 (NEGVAC), said, talking about the recommendations.
NEGVAC Chair V K Paul said a proposal to include teachers in the priority group is under consideration. Read our report here
UK regulator issues allergy warning for Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
Britain’s medicines regulator has issued a warning for people with “significant” history of allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines to not have the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, a day after the first set of patients were administered their first of two doses of the vaccine against Covid-19. The warning comes after two National Health Service (NHS) workers experienced “anaphylactoid reaction” symptoms shortly after being injected, but are now said to be recovering well.
NHS England said all its trusts involved with the mass vaccination programme have been informed and from Wednesday, all patients scheduled to receive the vaccine will be asked if they have a history of allergic reactions. “As is common with new vaccines, the MHRA have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely,” said Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for the NHS in England.
An anaphylactoid reaction tends to involve a skin rash, breathlessness and sometimes a drop in blood pressure and both the NHS workers who experienced this are said to have a history of serious allergies and carry adrenaline pens around with them.
Hyderabad: Envoys of 70 countries visit Bharat Biotech facility to check on Covaxin progress
A delegation of 70 Ambassadors and High Commissioners visited the Bharat Biotech facility Wednesday at Genome Valley in Hyderabad for a briefing on the progress of Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin. The delegates interacted with team Bharat Biotech and extensively discussed the Covaxin. The project update on the vaccine was presented to the delegates by Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Biotech.
Covaxin is India’s indigenous Covid-19 vaccine by Bharat Biotech and is developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV). This indigenous, inactivated vaccine is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) bio-containment facility.
After approval from UK, Pfizer aims to make vaccine available globally
Global pharma major Pfizer has said it will have differential pricing on its vaccine for different countries, as the company aims to make the Covid vaccine available across the world. The company’s Indian arm has sought emergency use authorisation (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against the virus in the country from the Indian drug regulator.
After the UK approval for the vaccine, Pfizer and BioNTech are anticipating further regulatory decisions across the globe in the coming days and are ready to deliver vaccine doses following potential regulatory authorisations or approvals, Pfizer had earlier said.
US regulators have released their first scientific evaluation of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine and confirmed it offers strong protection, setting the stage for the government to greenlight the biggest vaccination effort in the nation’s history. Meanwhile, Mexico plans to begin vaccinating its people at the end of the third week of December. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the vaccines will be “universal and free” and also “voluntary” and he hopes the full population will be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
UAE says Chinese vaccine 86% effective
The UAE, home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, conducted a trial involving 31,000 volunteers from 125 nations. Volunteers between 18 and 60 years old received two doses of the vaccine over 28 days. The UAE’s Health and Prevention Ministry announced the results via a statement on the state-run WAM news agency, saying they “have reviewed Sinopharm CNBG’s interim analysis of the Phase III trials.” “The analysis shows no serious safety concerns,” the statement said.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw says will take COVID-19 vaccine
Biotechnology industry veteran Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on Wednesday said she will get vaccinated though its durability is not known as of now. The Executive Chairperson of Bengaluru-headquartered biotech major Biocon supported the unprecedented speed in taking the vaccine from the development stage to approval process.
Biden vows 100 mn vaccinations in first 100 days of his administration
US President-elect Joe Biden has said that in the first 100 days of his administration, he would mandate everyone to wear a mask, ensure 100 million Covid vaccinations and reopen the majority of schools as he assured Americans that his “crisis-tested” team of experts will deliver better healthcare and revive the economy. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that prioritises Americans’ access to vaccines before the US potentially begins helping other nations.
Explained today: What is Molnupiravir, the drug shown to stop Covid-19 spread in 24 hours?
A new drug called Molnupiravir has been shown to stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in 24 hours. Results of the research by scientists at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Georgia State University, have been published in the journal Nature Microbiology. And Indian researchers plan to apply to the drug regulator to conduct human trials with the drug.
The antiviral drug Molnupiravir, or MK-4482/EIDD-2801, is taken orally. Molnupiravir is being developed by the biotechnology firm Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in collaboration with pharmaceutical firm Merck. The research team repurposed MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against SARS-CoV-2 and tested it on ferrets. We explain it here
(With inputs from AP, PTI)