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Coronavirus vaccine update: These countries are closest to finding a treatment

latest news update

The total number of coronavirus cases across the world are still on the rise despite stringent lockdown and containment measures put in place by most countries . The latest data suggests the total COVID-19 cases have crossed the 3.5 million-mark, including over 2.4 lakh deaths. The United States has been the worst affected nation with 72,275 deaths, followed by the UK, Italy and Spain. As spread of coronavirus shows no sign of slowing down, researchers and various governments are doubling their efforts to develop a vaccine.

Here's an update on COVID-19 researches across major countries

The United States: The US leads the chart with 209 active case studies going on to develop a vaccine. Pharma giant PFizer has already injected the first experimental vaccine on patients in the US. Gilead has ramped-up activities to make virus treatment drug Remdesivir, which has been showing 'very promising' results in a crucial study in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government's top expert said. Regeneron has also said its 'anti-body' treatment drug could also be available by this fall. Besides, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and several other bio-pharmaceutical companies have ramped-up efforts to develop the COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK: Scientists at Jenner Institute of Oxford University claim to have made a potential vaccine for coronavirus. Also, UK biotech company Synairgen's drug called Interferon Beta has been injected in patients as part of initial trials, which will show results by June. It's otherwise used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. UK has pledged 388 million euro to fund vaccine research, tests and treatments. About 31 active case studies for vaccine development are going on in the UK.

Israel: Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett claimed the Israel government's Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has developed an antibody to the novel coronavirus and is going to patent and mass-produce the potential treatment.

China: WHO data says four vaccines under human trials are from China. Except for the DNA-based vaccine attempted by US-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals, all the other vaccines are now undergoing Phase 1 and Phase 2 human trials together in a bid to fast track the development process. Chinese vaccines under development are from CanSino Biological Inc-Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Wuhan Institute of Biological Product-Sinopharm, Beijing Institute of Biological Products with Sinopharm, and an independent SARS platform-based inactivated vaccine from Sinovac.

Italy: There are around 59 active case studies going on in the country. A team of Italian scientists claimed to have discovered the world's first vaccine that can neutralise the deadly virus. Italian scientists at Rome's Spallanzani Hospital have claimed that they are the first to neutralise the virus via a vaccine and that the initial results were "encouraging and beyond expectations".

India: More than 30 vaccines are in various stages of development in India, scientists informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. University of Oxford's vaccine is also being developed with multiple partners including India's Serum Institute of India. The WHO document says out of the 100 projects under pre-clinical stages, Indian companies like Zydus Cadila, Codagenix-Serum Institute of India, Indian Immunologicals with Griffith University, Bharat Biotech with the Thomas Jefferson University, Biological E Ltd, and the UW Madison-FluGen-Bharat Biotech combine are also working on vaccine candidates.

Coronavirus Updates: Total cases surge to 42,533, 1,074 people cured in 24 hours, says govt

latest news update

Lockdown 3.0 begins today and India Coronavirus latest news: India's coronavirus tally has touched 42,533, including 1,373 deaths and 11,707 cured or discharged. Though cases are rising every day, the government claims it has been able to curb coronavirus spread in most parts of India. As the government allows partial opening up of the economy from today, India could, however, see a spurt in cases if social distancing norms will not be followed by people. Several visuals are coming in from different parts of the country today, especially Delhi, where people were seen queueing up in large numbers while flouting social distancing norms.

Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agrawal says historically it has been noted that if social distancing is not respected when social mobility is allowed, chances of disease transmission increase rapidly once restrictions are eased.

As of now, as many as 11,706 people have been cured. In the last 24 hours, 1,074 people have been cured. "This is the highest number in terms of cured patients noted till date. Our recovery rate is now 27.52 per cent. The total number of COVID19 cases now stand at 42,533," says Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry.

Coronavirus outbreak: Govt approves Rs 15,000 crore for healthcare to fight pandemic

latest news update

The union cabinet on Wednesday approved Rs 15,000 crore for 'India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package'. The cabinet meeting which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi sanctioned funds to limit the spread of coronavirus in the country through diagnostics and other treatment facilities. "The funds sanctioned will be utilised in 3 Phases and for immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response (an amount of Rs. 7,774 Crore) has been provisioned and rest for medium-term support (1-4 years)to be provided under mission mode approach," the government said in a statement. A major share of the funds would be used to mount robust emergency response, strengthen national and state health systems followed by boosting pandemic research, it added.

The government  has already undertaken several activities in Phase 1 including strengthening health facilities as coronavirus dedicated hospitals, health centers and care centers. "All health workers including Community Health Volunteers (ASHAs) have been covered with insurance under the "Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers lighting COVID-19". Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), N95 masks and ventilators, testing kits and drugs for treatment are being procured centrally," it said.

Meanwhile, India recorded 1,383 fresh coronavirus cases and 50 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the country's tally near 20,000-mark. The total number of confirmed cases now stand at 19,984 as of date, according to the Health Ministry. These include, 15,474 activecases, 3,869 cured/discharged, 1 migrated and 640 deaths. Maharashtra is at the top with 5,218 coronavirus cases, the highest in India so far, while the state's death toll is at 251. The state recorded 552 fresh cases and 19 deaths on Tuesday out of which 419 were from Mumbai. Delhi has slipped on third spot with 2,156.

Coronavirus - India Testing Multi-Purpose Vaccine In Fight Against COVID-19

latest news update

Indian scientists are testing a multi-purpose vaccine that has proved effective against leprosy and boosts immunity in hosts to see if it can help tackle the coronavirus, the chief of country's largest public-funded research institution told NDTV on Friday.

"With the approval of the DCGI (Drug Controller General of India), we have begun tests on the MW vaccine that has been successfully used against leprosy," Dr Shekhar Mande, Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said.

"Making a vaccine is a lengthy process. The research is going on. We are working on a vaccine that improves the immunity in hosts. We are awaiting two more approvals. Once we have those, we will start trials. We will know the results within the next six weeks," Dr Mande said.

The World Health Organisation has said a specific vaccine for the novel coronavirus that has triggered the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could take at least 12 months or longer.

Several countries including the US and China are working on vaccines to counter the fast-spreading respiratory virus that has affected over 21 lakh people across the world and killed nearly 1.5 lakh. In India, over 13,000 people have been infected and 437 have died.

Dr Mande said India is working on genome sequencing of the virus that will help trace its origin and spread. It can also help understand if the virus is mutating and developing resistance to drugs being used against it.

"The NIV (National Institute of Virology) in Pune has done 25 sequencing. We have done 30 sequencing in two of our labs. We do some 500 to 1,000 in the coming two weeks," he said.

"There are around six to seven strains (of coronavirus) in the world. It is too early to say how many strains we have in India. We will find that out as we perform more sequencing," Dr Mande said.

Railways plans to covert 20,000 coaches into isolation wards for coronavirus patients

latest news update

The Railway Board has told its zones that they might be required to convert up to 20,000 coaches into isolation wards as part of their preparedness to fight the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

In a letter to all the zonal general managers on Monday, the board said that initially 5,000 coaches will be converted. It also said that the railways has held consultations with the Armed Forces Medical Services, medical departments of various zonal railways, and Ayushman Bharat before taking the decision.

Five zonal railways have already prepared prototypes of coaches to be used as isolation facilities, it said.

"...As part of COVID-19 preparedness, it was advised in the video conference held on March 25 that a few rakes may be converted into quarantine/isolation coaches in consultation with the medical department, so as to augment the quarantine facilities being created. In this connection consultations were held with Armed Forces Medical Services, Medical Department of various zonal Railways, and Ayushman Bharat.

"IR (Indian Railways) maybe required to convert up to 20,000 such coaches, with 5,000 coaches to be converted initially into quarantine/isolation coaches. Only Non-AC ICF sleeper coaches are planned to be utilized after conversion into a quarantine/isolation coach," the letter said.

The letter also detailed the specifications of such isolation wards. It said that one Indian style toilet to be converted into a bathing room which can be done by placing wooden batten structure/ chequered sheet on the entire lavatory floor which also covers the squatting pan and does not create any level difference on the floor.

"The first cabin near the bathing room shall be provided with two hospital/plastic curtains transversely in the aisle so that the entry and exit to the entire eight berth cabin can be screened off. This cabin will be used as a store/paramedics area.

"Two oxygen cylinders will also be provided by the medical department for which suitable clamping arrangement on the side berth side of this cabin may be provided. Both middle berths to be removed in each cabin and extra bottle holders shall be provided in each cabin for holding medical equipment, two for each berth," it said.

It also said that extra three peg coat hooks, two per cabin, is to be provided, along with mosquito net on windows. Each cabin will be provided with three dustbins with foot operated lids of red, blue and yellow colour suitably lined with garbage bags.

"For insulation of the coaches, bamboo/khus mats may be affixed/pasted on roof and each side of coach above and below windows to shield effect of heat inside coach. All charging points for laptop and mobile to be functional. It must be ensured that all amenity fittings are in place, upholstery is in good condition and broken panels etc. are replaced, it said.

It also said that the Director General Railway Health Services will issue detailed standard operating procedure for operation and use of these quarantine/isolation coaches/trains.

The Railways has 125 hospitals in India and of that more than 70 are being planned to be kept ready to be for any contingency as and when required. Efforts are being made to designate dedicated COVID wards or floors in these hospitals. Approximately 6500 hospital beds are being made ready to meet the possible needs of patients.

The Indian Railways has already given a go-ahead to Zonal heads to explore the possibility of hiring doctors and paramedics from the market and also to re-employ retired railway doctors as a temporary measure to meet the increased requirement of medical supervision and assist the authorities in charge of COVID 19 control management in the region.

According to the Union Health Ministry, 92 new cases and four deaths due to coronavirus have been reported in India since Sunday, taking total cases to 1,071 and the number of deaths to 29.

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