Coronavirus updates | January 28, 2021

Health workers wait in the observation area after receiving a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Rajawadi Hospital in Mumbai.   | Photo Credit: AFP

All kinds of social, religious and cultural gatherings that were earlier restricted to a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, will now be allowed subject to the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by State governments.

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:

New Delhi

Covaxin effective against the U.K. coronavirus variant: ICMR

Covaxin works against U.K. variant, says DG ICMR Balram Bhargava. This variant is now present in 70 countries and 164 cases of this new variants have been identified in India.

Global Comparison

Faster to reach 1 million vaccinations is India (in 6 days), compared to U.S. (10 days), Spain (12), Israel (14), U.K. (18), Italy (19), Germany (20).

In U.S., 23.54 million doses were administered by Jan 26, while in U.K. it was 7.65 million, UAE 2.76 million and after that India, 2.03 million, followed by Germany (1.99 million), Italy (1.58 million), Turkey (1.52 million), Spain (1.36 million), France (1.14 million), Brazil (1.13 million), Russia (1 million) and Mexico (6,52,319).

The number vaccination sessions are increasing progressively and the number of beneficiaries as well.

On January 25, a total of 7764 sessions were held and 4,08,305 people vaccinated, compared to 3374 sessions and 2,06,985 beneficiaries on January 16.

Better performing States in vaccination coverage are Lakshadweep where 83.4% vaccination has been reported, followed by Odisha (50.7%); Haryana (50.0%); Andaman and Nicobar Islands (48.3%); Rajasthan (46.8%); Tripura (45.6%); Mizoram (40.4%); Telangana (40.3%); Andhra Pradesh (38.1%); Karnataka (35.6%); Madhya Pradesh (35.5%).

States that need to improve vaccination performance are Jharkhand (which has done only 14.7%), Delhi (15.7% so far); Tamil Nadu (15.7%); Uttarakhand (17.1%), Chhattisgarh (20.6%) and Maharashtra (20.7%).

We have issued detailed guidelines to States/UTs on how to avoid wastage of vaccines, says Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

— Devesh K. Pandey

New Delhi

25,07,556 number of vaccine doses administered till date: Centre

A total of 25,07,556 number of vaccine doses administered till 2 p.m. on January 28, said the Union Health Ministry.

Active cases are less than 1.75 lakh after seven months and they are declining further. Daily number of deaths are now less than 125 after eight months and they are also declining. Cumulative positivity rate is 5.51% and it is also declining.

Total cases are now 1.07 crore with cases per million population at 7,754; the number of active cases are 1.73 lakh with a contribution of 1.62%; so far 1.53 lakh deaths have been reported, death per million population is 111. A total of 19.4 crore tests have been conducted, tests per million population are 1,40,825.  Only two States/UTs with more than 40,000 cases contribute 67%. Kerala has 72,476 active cases and Maharashtra has 44,624 active cases.  While Kerala accounts for 41.74% active cases, Maharashtra for 25.69%, UP for 3.67%, Karnataka for 3.64% and West Bengal for 3.38%.

— Devesh K. Pandey

New Delhi

India has flattened its COVID-19 graph, says Harsh Vardhan

ast seven days, 18 districts in 14 days, six districts in 21 days and 21 districts in 28 days, said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday.

The Minister chaired the 23rd meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 via video-conferencing and noted that fewer than 12,000 cases were reported in the last 24 hours and the active caseload had reduced to just 1.73 lakh, as per a release issued by the Ministry.

Dr. Vardhan added that out of the total active cases, 0.46% were on ventilators, 2.20% in ICU and 3.02% on oxygen support. As many as 165 cases of the U.K. variant were reported and the patients were under supervised quarantine and surveillance.

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WHO team in Wuhan departs quarantine for COVID origins study

A World Health Organization team has left quarantine in Wuhan to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers, who were required to complete 14 days in quarantine after arriving in China, could be seen leaving their hotel and boarding a bus on Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t immediately clear where they were headed.

The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak. A major question is where the Chinese side will allow the researchers to go and whom they will be able to talk to.

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New Delhi

Online memorial soon for COVID-19 victims

In a unique tribute, an online national memorial for those who died due to COVID-19 across the country has been conceived. The website will go live from January 30 and is a venture by a Kolkata-based NGO consisting of medical staff and others.

“COVID-19 snatched the opportunity for families to bid a traditional goodbye to their loved ones who they lost to the virus, so this unique venture is an attempt to allow people across the country to grieve and possibly even heal together. Grief is a very private emotion but, through this website, we hope people will realise that they are not alone,” said Abhijit Chowdhury, volunteer with Covid Care Network (CCN), an NGO led by a group of doctors spearheading this initiative. - Bindu Shajan Perappadan


Enhance global cooperation to tackle Covid-like crisis in future: IMF

A huge art work depicting India’s coronavirus vaccine drive displayed at Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research centre, during the Republic Day celebration in Bengaluru.

A huge art work depicting India’s coronavirus vaccine drive displayed at Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research centre, during the Republic Day celebration in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN


As the world gradually makes its way out of the coronavirus crisis, IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath has said that countries should work on their health system and be ready to provide timely assistance to impacted segments of the society in addition to enhanced global cooperation to be better prepared for addressing such a challenge next time.

The global economy, ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, is projected to grow at 5.5 per cent in 2021 and 4.2 per cent in 2022, the International Monetary Fund said this week, reflecting the expectations of a vaccine-powered strengthening of business activities later in the year and additional policy support in a few large economies.

There are three key lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 crisis that has impacted global economic activity, Gopinath told PTI.

“Firstly, countries should prepare their health systems to be ready for any kind of a health crisis. There are many developing countries that need additional investment in their health infrastructure. That is a very important lesson to be learnt,” she said.

Gopinath was responding to a question on lessons learnt from the coronavirus pandemic that had a devastating impact on humanity both in terms of health and economy.

“Second lesson is to remember to provide timely assistance to struggling households, businesses. We know that when the recovery has come back we've seen it to be particularly strong whether it's being supported to those who were most deeply hit by it,” Ms. Gopinath said.

Emphasising on greater international cooperation, she said, "It is still needed now for instance in making sure that vaccinations and therapies and anything else that can end the health crisis is available globally. Because otherwise we are not going to be out of this with all these new virus mutations."

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New Delhi

‘Next-gen’ vaccines needed to tackle emerging variants, say scientists 

The spread of COVID-19 variants is not an immediate problem but it’s time already for next-gen preventives to tackle them, say scientists as countries fine-tune their vaccine dissemination programmes and the race to put more vaccines in the market gathers pace.

Work on vaccines will have to continue on parallel tracks – one to tackle the SARS-CoV-2 virus with first generation vaccines and the other to prepare for possible mutations and new variants – say experts as they map the future course of the infection.

Responding to concerns on the effectiveness of current vaccines in the face of emerging variants, immunologist Satyajit Rath said vaccine-resistant virus variants are either not present or not spreading in sufficient scales and rates to be an immediate problem.

  And though the present vaccination campaign will indeed contribute to slowing the pandemic, next-generation vaccines to deal with the “most vaccine-resistant of the emerging variant viruses will need to be developed from now even as we begin to vaccinate communities with the first-generation vaccines”, the scientist from New Delhi’s National Institute of Immunology told PTI.


IMF concerned over inequitable distribution of vaccines

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines risks exacerbating financial vulnerabilities, especially for frontier market economies, even though their approval and rollout have boosted expectations of a global recovery and lifted risk asset prices. In its Global Financial Stability update released on Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund underlined that until the coronavirus vaccines are widely available, the market rally and the economic recovery remain predicated on continued monetary and fiscal policy support.

"Inequitable distribution of vaccines risks exacerbating financial vulnerabilities, especially for frontier market economies,” it said.

An ongoing rebound of portfolio flows provides better financing options for emerging market economies facing large rollover needs in 2021, it said.

Approval and rollout of vaccines have boosted expectations of a global recovery and lifted risk asset prices, despite rising COVID-19 cases and softening economic activity in late 2020, the report noted.

Policy accommodation has mitigated liquidity strains so far, but solvency pressures may resurface in the near future, especially in riskier segments of credit markets and sectors hit hard by the pandemic, the IMF said, adding that credit concerns and profitability challenges in the low-interest-rate environment may weigh on banks’ ability and willingness to lend in the future.

“Policy-makers should continue to provide support until a sustainable recovery takes hold: under-delivery may jeopardise the healing of the global economy. However, with investors betting on a persistent policy backstop and a sense of complacency permeating markets as asset valuations rise further, policymakers should be cognizant of the risks of a market correction,” IMF said.

Australia/New Zealand

New Zealand tightens quarantine

New Zealand will tighten quarantine rules after two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant were confirmed in Auckland, as it awaits an Australian decision on whether it would reopen quarantine-free travel to arrivals from the Pacific nation.

Australia suspended a one-way "travel bubble" with its trans-Tasman neighbour for 72 hours after New Zealand confirmed its first case in months on Monday.

Since then, two people have tested positive to the South African variant of the coronavirus, and all cases are linked tothe same quarantine facility in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city.

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South Africa

1 million COVID vaccine doses to arrive in South Africa from India on Feb 1

South African Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday a million coronavirus vaccine doses will arrive from India in the country on February 1.

Also read | COVID-19 deaths drop below 120 across India

After the arrival of the vaccine doses via Dubai, these will undergo some processes for 10 to 14 days, after which these will be distributed among provinces, he said during a virtual press conference.

Mkhize had earlier announced that South Africa would receive the first batch of a million vaccine doses form India by the January-end and a further 500,000 doses in February.

The vaccine will be first administered to health care workers and other priority sector staff in the first phase of the campaign, which aims to vaccinate 67 per cent of South Africa’s 58.5 million citizens to achieve herd immunity before the end of 2021.

“Receiving one million vaccines less than a year after first the COVID-19 infection was recorded is a massive achievement,” the minister said as he commended the volunteers who participated in the vaccine trials.

‘Covaxin efficiency’

Covaxin vaccine effective against the U.K. variant, says study

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has been found to neutralise the U.K. variant with “similar efficiency” as the strain used for making the vaccine and hence “dispels the uncertainty of possible neutralisation escape” following vaccination, say results posted on the bioRxiv preprint server. Preprints are yet to be peer-reviewed and published in medical journals. The work was carried out by researchers from ICMR and Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad.

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New relaxations on cinemas

Home Ministry permits cinemas’ seating strength at a higher capacity

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order on January 27 extending the COVID-19 “guidelines for surveillance, containment and caution” till February 28.

The guidelines permit the opening of cinema halls and theatres at a higher capacity than the 50% seating strength allowed till now. Swimming pools have also been permitted to open for all.

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All kinds of social, religious and cultural gatherings that were earlier restricted to a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity with a ceiling of 200 persons in closed spaces, will now be allowed subject to the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by State governments.

Vaccine competition

China says no vaccine competition, but its media takes aim at India

China’s government said this week there was “no place for malign competition” on the issue of supplying vaccines. The media it controls in China have, however, adopted a different line, from accusing India of “interference” in preventing Chinese vaccines being used in South Asia, to questioning the efficacy of Indian and Western vaccines.

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(With inputs from our Correspondents and agencies)

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 9:12:43 AM |

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