Coronavirus updates | February 4, 2021

An elderly woman sports a mask in Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Vaccine hesitancy in India is dropping significantly, according to a nation-wide survey, which found that the percentage of citizens willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine immediately has increased from 31% to 42% in a month.

The survey, which was conducted by the community social media platform LocalCircles, received 25,000 responses from residents of 289 districts. It found that vaccine hesitancy in India dropped by 16% within a month, though 58% still remained hesitant even as close to 5 million healthcare workers were vaccinated.

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:

Alternate dosing vaccine trial

UK begins world-first alternate dosing COVID-19 vaccine trial

Health chiefs in the UK on Thursday began what they have described as a world-first clinical trial of patients who will receive different COVID-19 vaccines for their first or second dose, to detect its impact on immunity against coronavirus.

The study, backed by 7 million pound of government funding, will determine the effects of using different vaccines for the first and second dose – for example, using Oxford University/AstraZeneca’s vaccine for the first dose, followed by Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine for the second.

It is being run by the National Immunisation Schedule Evaluation Consortium (NISEC) across eight National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) supported sites and also gather immunological evidence on different intervals between the first and second dose for a mixed-vaccine regimen against control groups when the same vaccine is used for both doses. - PTI

COVID briefing

Vaccines are 'superbly safe'

NITI-Ayog Member - Health Dr. V.K. Paul once again vouches for the safety of vaccines.  "These vaccines are superbly safe, they are probably the safest vaccines that can ever be built. That's a headline that needs to be amplified," he says.

8,563 adverse event following Immunisation have been reported so far. This is 0.18% of the total number of vaccinations administered, says Rajesh Bhushan.

There are 19 deaths among vaccinated people. There are committees at the district, state and Central level analysing whether vaccines were a cause of death. The Central level committee is expected to meet shortly and whatever they say (regarding the causative role of vaccines) will be shared publicly, he adds.

COVID briefing

Third survey shows 21.4% seroprevalence

ICMR head Balram Bhargava presents the results of third serosurvey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

In addition to those in 700 villages, spanning 70 districts fro 21 states, 100 healthcare workers per district working in taluk hospitals/community health centres and other public facilities were also checked for antibodies.

The prevalence in the general population among adults was 21.4%.

In urban slums it was 31.7%, urban non slums: 26.2% and rural it was 19.1%.

In women, it was 22.7%, men 20.3% and children (10-17 years) it was 25.3%.

These were findings in the general population of 28,859 people.

Among healthcare workers (7,171 individuals) the seroprevalence was 25.7%.  It was 26.6% among doctors/nurses; 25.4% among paramedical staff: 25.3% among field staff and 24.9% among admin staff.

The message is that a large proportion of the population remains vulnerable, vaccines are necessary and there can be no complacency with regards to masks, social distancing and hand hygiene.

COVID briefing

Just two States with over 35,000 cases

There are only two states with more than 35,000 cases and are contributing to 70% of the case load. These are Kerala and Maharashtra, says Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Health Ministry at a press briefing.

There are eight States that are over India's average positivity rate of 1.82%. This includes Puducherry, Chandigarh, Ladakh, Nagaland, Goa and Chhattisgarh, in addition to Kerala and Maharashtra.

Our trend in daily new cases is continuously declining and as of yesterday we've added only 12,899 new cases. There are 47 districts with no new cases and 251 districts with no new deaths, he says. - Jacob Koshy

COVID-19 vaccine doses

About 4.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in 19 days: Health ministry

Nearly 4.5 million (44,49,552) beneficiaries have received COVID-19 vaccine shots in merely 19 days, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

India became the fastest country in the world to reach the 4 million COVID-19 vaccination mark, achieving this feat in 18 days.

"Many other countries have had a head start of almost 65 days. India launched the countrywide COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16. The number of beneficiaries being vaccinated every day has also shown a progressive increase," the ministry said.

In a span of 24 hours, 3,10,604 people were vaccinated across 8,041 sessions, it said, adding that 84,617 sessions have been conducted so far. - PTI

China provides cooperation

WHO team in Wuhan says discussions open, meetings frank

One of the World Health Organisation investigators looking for clues into the origin of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan said that the Chinese side has provided a high level of cooperation.

In a tweet, zoologist and team member Peter Daszak praised Wednesday's meetings with staff at the key Wuhan Institute of Virology, including with Deputy Director Shi Zhengli, a virologist who worked with Daszak to track down the origins of SARS that originated in China and led to the 2003 outbreak.

“Extremely important meeting today with staff at WIV including Dr Shi Zhengli. Frank, open discussion. Key questions asked & answered,” Daszak tweeted. The team remained at their hotel and appeared to have no field visits scheduled for Thursday. - PTI

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Long-term supply for COVID-19 vaccines

Serum Institute of India, UNICEF enter into long-term supply for COVID-19 vaccines

The Serum Institute of India (SII) and UNICEF have entered into a long-term supply agreement for the AstraZeneca/Oxford and the Novavax vaccines, with the UN children’s agency saying it will have access to up to 1.1 billion doses of vaccines for around 100 countries.

India is one of the world's biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.

While Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield is being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute, and the Novavax is being produced by US-based Novavax Inc. - PTI

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Tracking home quarantined patients

IIT Mandi-led team develops AI app to track home quarantined COVID patients

A team led by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) based biometric application to continuously monitor and accurately detect the identity of a home quarantined COVID-19 patient.

The mobile application, dubbed LakshmanRekha, uses a combination of biometric verification, geofencing and AI so that no patient can breach the assigned quarantine space.

Geofencing technology uses GPS signals to determine when a person enters a certain boundary.

"We have developed a pilot version of LakshmanRekha mobile application and tested it over small datasets," Aditya Nigam, Associate Professor, School of Computing & Electrical Engineering, IIT Mandi, said.

"The obtained results are very good and now we are working to add more functionality, scalability and usability to make it ready for deployment,” Nigam said. - PTI

PIL for vaccination

Treat as representation PIL to include legal fraternity in phase-1 of COVID-19 vaccination: HC

The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to treat as a representation a PIL seeking inclusion of judges, judicial staff and lawyers in the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination.

A bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said deciding priority for vaccination was a policy decision and the court was not going to change it.

"We see no reason to change the priority of the government for COVID-19 vaccination because it is a policy decision based on a variety of factors," the bench said.

"Nonetheless, looking at facts and circumstances of the case, the petition be treated as a representation and the grievances in it be decided in accordance with the law, rules, regulations and government policy applicable to the facts of the case," the court said. - PTI

Karnataka

Don't lower guard: Karnataka Health officials after 49 nursing students test COVID positive

Health officials in Karnataka have appealed to people not to lower guard after 49 students from Kerala studying in a nursing college near the coastal city of Mangaluru tested positive for COVID-19.

"The news of 49 students testing positive in a nursing college in Ullal near Mangaluru is a grim reminder of how unpredictable the Covid virus is! Covid is still a threat, please continue to take necessary precautions", Health and Medical Education Minister Sudhakar K tweeted on Thursday.

The Aaliyah Institute of Nursing in Dakshina Kannada district was sealed by authorities on Wednesday. - PTI

Karnataka

‘108’ ambulance staff not paid salary for two months

Over 3,000 staff members of 108 Arogya Kavacha ambulance service including 1,556 ambulance pilots (drivers) and 1,503 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) apart from call centre employees are finding it hard to make ends meet as they have not been paid salaries for the last two months.

While officials from GVK-EMRI, that runs the service for the State government, said that the salaries have been delayed as the government is yet to release funds, State health officials said as per the agreement with GVK it is the responsibility of GVK to pay salaries on time.

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India to get 97 million vaccine doses from COVAX

India is likely to get nearly 97 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, nearly half of it by March end, under an agreement with the international COVAX facility. This is subject to the vaccine getting a pre-clearance from the World Health Organization (WHO) under a process called Emergency Use Listing.

The tranche to be made available to India will be manufactured and supplied by the Serum Institute of India. The latter has an agreement with Covax — a joint undertaking of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Global Alliance for Vaccines (GAVI) and the WHO to ensure that at least 20% of the population in Low and Middle Income Countries are vaccinated over the year.

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42% of people willing to take COVID-19 vaccine

A nation-wide survey found that the percentage of citizens willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine immediately has increased from 31% to 42% in a month, and 39% of those who were hesitant were willing to get vaccinated if senior government leaders and elected representatives got inoculated.

The survey, which was conducted by the community social media platform LocalCircles, received 25,000 responses from residents of 289 districts. It found that vaccine hesitancy in India dropped by 16% within a month, though 58% still remained hesitant even as close to 5 million healthcare workers were vaccinated.

Read more
 

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 3:33:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-live-updates-february-4-2021/article33745821.ece

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