Coronavirus updates | December 9, 2020

Shoppers wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus navigate their way through a narrow alley at a market area in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: AP

Stating that some of the COVID-19 vaccine candidates may get a license in the next few weeks, with preparatory activities for the roll-out of the vaccine being carried out simultaneously by the Central government in collaboration with States and UTs, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday cautioned that COVID-19 appropriate behaviour should not see any relaxation with several countries across the world now witnessing another surge of the virus.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the latest updates:

Hyderabad

Foreign envoys visit Bharat Biotech, Biological E vaccine facilities in Hyderabad

A delegation of foreign envoys visited manufacturing facilities of vaccine makers Bharat Biotech and Biological E in Hyderabad’s Genome Valley on Wednesday as part a visit to familiarise them with the work underway for Covid-19 vaccines.

Bharat Biotech said a team comprising Ambassadors, High Commissioners and government representatives of 70 countries, from across the world, visited the facility and had interacted with the company officials. They “extensively discussed about Covaxin,” the company said.

Coming in the backdrop of a growing interest globally in India’s work on the vaccines, including the indigenous Covaxin that Bharat Biotech is developing with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the visit is the first of many the Ministry of External Affairs is expected to organise for members of the diplomatic corp.

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India

India leads the world in AI adoption, thanks to COVID-19

The pandemic that hit the world a year ago crippling the lives of both individuals as well as organisations, has created a winner -- high technology adoption across the globe, with Indian organisations leading such upgrades.

According to a global study by PwC India, the highest increase in use of artificial intelligence (AI) during COVID-19 times has been witnessed in India.

The study also showed that 94% of the over 200 chief executives in India surveyed said they’ve either adopted or are planning to implement AI in their companies.

While the survey for India was conducted between August and September, globally it was conducted among 670 high ranking officials in September-October.

UAE

UAE says Chinese vaccine 86% effective, offers few details

The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the federation of sheikhdoms is 86% effective, though it released few details.

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.

Supreme Court

Posters should not be affixed outside homes of COVID patients: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took note of the Centre’s guidelines and said that posters and signage should not be affixed by the authorities outside the homes of COVID-19 patients in the country.

The apex court, however, added that such posters can be affixed only in specific cases when the competent authority issues specific directions under the Disaster Management Act.

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Mumbai

Actor Kriti Sanon tests positive

Actor Kriti Sanon on Wednesday said she has tested positive for coronavirus and is currently under home quarantine. The 30-year-old actor had recently returned to Mumbai after wrapping up the shoot for her upcoming film with her Bareilly Ki Barfi co-star Rajkummar Rao in Chandigarh, following which there were reports she had contracted the disease.

In a statement on Twitter, Ms. Sanon said she is following the advice of doctors and officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

“I’d like to inform everyone that I have tested positive for COVID-19. There’s absolutely nothing to worry as I’m feeling fine and have quarantined myself as per BMC and my doctor’s advice,” the actor said.

West Bengal

Comorbidities proved fatal in most COVID-19 deaths in Bengal: Study

In most of the COVID-19 deaths in West Bengal comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems, nephrotic syndrome and COPD were found to be fatal, a study conducted by the state health department said. Hypertension was found in 30% of the females who died of COVID-19, while the same was found in 28% of the males who succumbed to the disease till the last week of November, the study said on Tuesday.

At least 24.5% of the women who succumbed to COVID-19 were found to be diabetic, while among the men it was 24.2 per cent, it said.

Other comorbidities like cardiac problems were found in 10.6 per cent men while it was prevalent among 8.3 per cent of women. Nephrotic syndrome was found higher among males with 10.2 per cent while among females it was 9.7 per cent, it said.

The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) had also affected around 5.5 per cent men and 3.9 per cent females, the study conducted across all the districts of West Bengal, said.

According to the study, COVID-19 had been more fatal in women than in men diagnosed with cancer and on dialysis.

Experts' visit to biotech firms

Heads of Missions to visit biotech firms in Hyderabad

More than 60 Heads of Missions based in India will be travelling to Hyderabad to visit leading biotech companies on Wednesday. This round of visit comes a month after the Ministry of External Affairs briefed a large number of heads of diplomatic missions about India’s preparedness to beat the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sequencing the virus genome

CFTRI to sequence SARS-CoV-2 genome

As part of various initiatives towards mitigating COVID-19, CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) signed an MoU with Clevergene, a Bengaluru-based company, for sequencing the SARS-CoV-2 genome.

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Kerala

Tourism dept. finds it tough to implement COVID-19 protocol

With most tourist centres in the district thrown open to public post the lockdown, the Tourism Department is having a hard time ensuring that the COVID-19 protocol is being adhered to. Despite several warnings from the Health Department and the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC), visitors tend to neglect some of the restrictions.

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Pact in vaccine tech

Biological E. in pact for COVID-19 vaccine tech

Hyderabad-based vaccine and pharmaceutical firm Biological E. (BE) and the Ohio State Innovation Foundation (OSIF), USA, have announced an exclusive COVID-19 vaccine technology license pact. Under this, OSIF is licensing novel live attenuated measles virus vectored vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2 developed by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, exclusively to the company.

BE will be responsible for the evaluation and further development, including commercialisation of the vaccine candidate(s), a release from the company said.

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Karnataka

Karnataka’s MR experience handy for COVID-19 vaccination

Based on its experience during the combined Measles-Rubella (MR) immunisation campaign in 2017 wherein 1.58 crore children were covered in two months, Karnataka is well-placed to implement the COVID-19 vaccination programme, said experts on Tuesday.

Participating in a webinar on ‘COVID-19 and Vaccine’ organised by the Press Information Bureau, Lokesh Alahari, Sub Regional Team Leader - Karnataka, WHO India (National Polio Surveillance Project), said Karnataka has good vaccine storage and cold chain facilities with 2,855 cold chain points and 10 walk-in-coolers and four walk-in-freezers.

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(With inputs from our Correspondents and agencies)

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