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Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 July 2021

'We saw how common man suffered', SC won’t stay proceedings against Gambhir foundation in COVID-19 drugs case

 Gautam Gambhir 

On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to entertain a plea by BJP MP Gautam Gambhir’s foundation to stay the proceedings in a case of illegal procurement and distribution of COVID-19 drugs, saying individuals cannot monopolise the distribution of drugs during the pandemic when medicines were scarce.

“People were going helter-skelter to procure drugs during the second wave. And then suddenly, one person started distributing drugs. This is not done,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud observed orally.

Justice M.R. Shah, also on the Bench, objected to the submissions of the foundation's lawyer, senior advocate Kailash Vasdev, that his client was working for people.

Mr. Vasdev sought a stay of the proceedings initiated under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

We saw how the common man was suffering. Individuals cannot distribute drugs... Do you want us to go into the merits of this case?,” Justice Shah asked the lawyer.


Justice Chandrachud expressed the court’s puzzlement of the sudden coming of existence of a foundation that assures people of life-saving COVID-19 medicines.

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Justice Shah said, “We do not want to say anything... We too have our ears to the ground”.

‘Move HC for relief’

The Bench advised the foundation to move the Delhi High Court for relief. Mr. Vasdev withdrew the case.

 

The Delhi government’s drug controller had accused the foundation in the High Court of unauthorisedly stocking, procuring and distributing the Fabiflu medicine for COVID-19 patients.

The High Court had deprecated the manner in which a huge quantity of the drug was procured. It had said how genuine patients who needed the medicine at that particular time could not get it as the bulk stock was taken away by cricketer-turned-politician Gambhir.

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Friday, 23 July 2021

One Year Rural Service Bond for MBBS Doctors Reasonable: Karnataka High Court

 Doctors approach HC over discrepancies in exam results 

Observing that the petitioner doctors are unable to demonstrate that by way of introducing compulsory rural service, the standards of medical education as prescribed by the Union legislation is diluted or lowered down, the Karnataka High Court recently declared the rural service bonds as "reasonable".

Denying granting any interim relief, the HC bench comprising of Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum noted, "The service bonds calling upon the fresh doctors to undergo one-year Rural service appears to be reasonable."

The High Court single judge bench was listening to a plea filed by 180 MBBS doctors who challenged the State Government's June 8 notification which asked the 2021 MBBS graduates securing Government seats to register online for the Compulsory Rural Service under provisions of the Karnataka Compulsory Service to Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act 2012 (Compulsory Act).

Medical Dialogues had recently reported that the High Court, in an interim relief had previously directed the State Government not to compel those doctors from registering online for the Compulsory Rural Service for a period of two weeks.

The petition claimed that the Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Act, 2012 is void and the same should be struck down on the ground that the 2012 Act is repugnant to the National Medical Commission Act, 2019.

 

Contending that 2012 Act is a State legislation whereas the NMC Act is a legislation Act passed by the Indian Legislature, the counsel for the petitioner, Shri K.G.Raghavan appearing for one of the petitioners submitted before the High Court that under Article 254(1), any provision of law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to the provision of law made by the Parliament to which Parliament is competent to enact.

He further pointed out that although under 2012 Act, the registration of a candidate in a State Register is conditional upon the completion of compulsory rural service, the NMC Act on the other hand permits license to any person who clears the National Exit Test to practice medicine. This way, under the NMC Act, a candidate has a choice to get enrolled either on the National Register or the State Register.

It had been further contended by the petitioners that the 2012 Act which is repealed by the NMC Act even otherwise is repugnant and therefore, has to be declared as void. The counsel for the petitioners thus submitted that "there is direct conflict between the State and Union legislations and therefore, the 2012 Act must be held to be repugnant to the NMC Act."

 

Referring to the judgments of the Apex Court in the case of Thirumuruga Kirupananda Variyar Thavathiru Sundara Swamigal Medical Educational and Charitable Trust vs. State of Tamil Nadu and Others, the counsel for the petitioners also argued that the NMC Act repeals the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and creates overarching scheme to regulate medical education and medical profession.

Finally, the counsel for the petitioners submitted that there is a sea change in the scheme of registration under the NMC Act. Although the previous regime under the IMC Act required a person to first be registered on the State Register to get registered under the Indian Medical Register, no such criteria is mentioned under the NMC Act. "Post NMC Act, a person need not satisfy the conditions laid down by the State Government in order to secure registration and obtain a license to practice medicine," he argued.

On the other hand, advocate N. Khetty representing the National Medical Commission (NMC) contended that the main ground of attack by the petitioners that the 2006 Rules are repugnant to the NMC Act, which has brought about a sea change pursuant to its replacing by the IMC Act is misconceived.

 

He argued that the NMC Act has brought about changes in the realm of academia and the medical profession. "The application and operation of the NMC Act is prospective," he said.

He further informed the Court that even under the IMC Act, the MCI, and Central Government did not frame a uniform law relating to compulsory service and probably in this background, the Apex Court in the case of Association of Medical Superspeciality Aspirants was pleased to issue a direction to frame laws relating to compulsory service. While issuing such directions, the Apex Court was pleased to uphold the previously obtained Bonds in all the States including Karnataka, he submitted.

"There is absolutely no change, let alone a sea change, was brought in by bringing the NMC Act with regard to compulsory service. Therefore, it is within the domain of State to frame law relating to compulsory service under Entry 25 and Entry 26 of List III and therefore, there is no repugnancy," he contended.

 

Meanwhile, the Additional Advocate General submitted before the Court that the 2012 Act is not at all applicable to the present petitioners and it is 2006 Rules which would bind the petitioners since they have executed Bonds under Section 11 of 2006 Rules.

"The present petitioners who have completed medicine have voluntarily executed the bond that they will provide service in Rural areas of Karnataka and now they cannot turn around and challenge the same," argued the AAG.

After listening to the contentions of all the parties, the HC bench examined as to whether the NMC Act has brought changes in the realm of academia and medical profession.

At this outset, the Bench observed, "The object of introducing NMC Act can be traced from the judgment rendered by the Constitution Bench of the Hon'ble Apex Court in the case of Modern Dental College & Research Centre. Therefore, if the IMC Act is compared with the new regime under the NMC Act, this Court would prima facie find that there is no sea change under the Act as contended by the learned Senior Counsel and other learned counsel appearing for the petitioners."

Noting that the young doctors should not spend their valuable time in litigating and questioning the vires, the HC bench observed that the notification calling upon fresh doctors to undergo compulsory rural service for a period of one year is a product of executive action of the State under Article 162 of the Constitution of India and the same is exercised within the scheme of the Constitu

Noting that the Supreme Court in the case of Association of Medical Superspeciality Aspirants had directed the Union of India and erstwhile Medical Council of India to bring in uniform policy regarding compulsory service, the HC bench noted that "The Union of India has not brought any legislation regarding compulsory rural service even under the NMC Act and therefore, this Court does not find any sea change under the NMC Act."

 

Bond rules are applicable to petitioner medicos: HC

Further mentioning that the Apex Court had upheld the legislative competence of the State Government to issue executive instructions imposing condition of service bonds and it had held that all doctors who have executed the compulsory bonds shall be bound by the conditions contained therein, the bench added,

"Therefore, the principles laid down by the Apex Court in the aforesaid judgment are squarely applicable to the present petitioners who have executed bonds while taking admissions for undergraduate course in medicine."

Ruling that the petitioners are unable to demonstrate that by the introduction of compulsory rural service, the standards of medical education as prescribed by the Union legislation is diluted or lowered down, the HC bench refused to grant any interim order and observed,

"Currently 'Community Medicine' is a subject which is cursorily taught to medical students in their early years. Therefore, this Court is of the view that the rural service, in all probability, would sensitize them to the miserable health conditions in rural India and infuse a spirit of voluntary service within them. Therefore, compulsory rural service has to be undergone on priority basis. The medical students are also paid decent remuneration for compulsory rural service and therefore, most students should be willing to put in a year's rural service as they would acquire valuable practical experience."

The court also considered the present situation of Covid-19 and asked the doctors to understand the concept of responsibility amid the pandemic,

"We are in the midst of a global pandemic and the experts are anticipating a third wave.Therefore, the duty of care from a legal perspective distinguishes it from broader notion of duty of professionals and personal levels. Therefore, it is high time that the medical professionals understand the concept of duty in their response to COVID-19. The Doctors have a duty to treat and the State is looking upon the Doctors and is expecting them to come forward and counter this pandemic. It is high time that fair and responsible colleagueship, diverse medical specialties needs to be promoted in the prevailing circumstances. We have already seen a disaster which has threatened humanity and valuable lives are already lost. Therefore, the fresh graduates in the present context are a ray of hope for the public at large and if the State calls upon the fresh graduates to compulsorily serve for one year with substantial remuneration and if the State ensures that the Doctors and other health workers stay at their workplace, the threat to the public at large would be taken care of."

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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

India reports 3,998 deaths as another state corrects data – latest updates

 

Covid-19 pandemic has claimed at least 4.1 million lives infecting more than 192.1 million people around the world. Here are updates for July 21:

A woman walks past a painting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day before the inauguration of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, on a street in Mumbai, India, January 15, 2021. 
 
A woman walks past a painting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day before the inauguration of the Covid-19 vaccination drive, on a street in Mumbai, India, January 15, 2021. (Reuters)

Wednesday, July 21:

India reports 3,998 deaths after state corrects its data

India reported its highest death toll in a month, at nearly 4,000 after its richest state reconciled its death count with 3,509 previously unreported fatalities, the health ministry said.

Maharashtra, home to the financial capital of Mumbai, has reported 130,753 of the country's 418,480 coronavirus deaths, and added 3,509 earlier deaths to its tally, the federal health ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry did not give a reason but authorities have in the past attributed other instances of deaths going unreported to administrative errors, before the mistakes are discovered and the numbers appear in official data.

Last month, the poor northern state of Bihar raised its death toll by more than 5,000 in a day when it included some unrecorded data.

The sudden appearance of previously unrecorded deaths has lent weight to suspicion that India's overall death tally is significantly more than the official figure..

India's tally of infections stands at 31.22 million, with a death toll of 418,480, according to official data.

But the Washington-based Center for Global Development estimated said in a report on Tuesday that India's real death toll could be as high as 4.9 million. 

On Wednesday, the government reported 42,015 new coronavirus infections in the previous 24 hours, health ministry data showed. 

Japan's cycling Saitama Criterium cancelled over pandemic

The Tour de France's Saitama Criterium has been cancelled for the second straight year over rising Covid-19 cases, organisers said, days before the Tokyo Olympic opening ceremony.

"We have reached the conclusion that our priority is ensuring the safety and security of the people of Saitama, athletes and other participants, and fans," organisers said in a statement late Tuesday.

"Various anti-infection measures are being taken... but the expanding spread of infections in Japan remains unpredictable," the statement said.

The annual autumn race features winners and stars from the Tour de France and attracts some 100,000 fans to Saitama region, north of Tokyo.

But the pandemic forced the event's cancellation last year for the first time since it started in 2013.

Taiwan bumps BioNTech vaccine order to 15M with Buddhist donation

A major Taiwanese Buddhist group said on Wednesday it had signed a deal to buy 5 million doses of BioNTech SE's Covid-19 vaccine via the German firm's Chinese sales agent, bumping the island's order for the shot up to 15 million doses.

The Tzu Chi Foundation said it June it was bidding to get the vaccines, and Taiwan's government said it would allow the group to negotiate on its behalf for the shot. The vaccines will be donated to the government for distribution.

In a statement on its Facebook p age, Tzu Chi said it had signed the deal with a Hong Kong subsidiary of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co Ltd, which has the right to sell the shot in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

"After successfully signing the vaccine procurement contract, all the purchased vaccines will be donated to the competent authority for use by the public," it added, without saying when the vaccines would arrive.

Australia, under lockdown, sees jump in cases

Australia's two largest states reported sharp increases in new cases, a blow to hopes that lockdown restrictions would be lifted with more than half the country's population under stay-at-home orders.

New South Wales (NSW) state, home to the country's most populous city Sydney, logged 110 new cases, up from 78 the day before, nearly four weeks into a lockdown of the city and surrounding areas to contain an outbreak of the virulent Delta variant.

Victoria state clocked 22 new cases, from nine the day before, its biggest increase since the outbreak began this month, as it nears its second week of statewide lockdown.

"Had we not gone into the lockdown a few weeks ago, the 110 number today would undoubtedly have been thousands and thousands," said NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at a televised news conference.

"But we need to work harder and, of course, all of us need to be on guard," she added.

Germany's cases rise by 2,203

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 2,203 to 3,748,613, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by 19 to 91,416, the tally showed. 

South Korea reports new daily record

South Korea reported a daily record of 1,784 cases, breaking a mark set last week, as the country grapples with Delta-driven outbreaks, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

World in early stage of another wave of infections - WHO

Warning that the world is in the early stages of another wave of infections, World Health Organisation (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said Covid-19 is a test and the world is failing.

Speaking to the International Olympic Committee members at their session in the Japanese capital, Tedros said that the Tokyo games should go ahead to demonstrate to the world what can be achieved with the right plan and measures amid the pandemic.

Emphasising that profits and patents must come second, the WHO chief criticised the vaccine discrepancies between countries, saying the pandemic could be ended if G20 economies showed collective leadership and there was a fairer distribution of vaccines.

South Korea reports new daily record of 1,784 cases

South Korea has reported a daily record of 1,784 coronavirus cases, breaking a mark set last week, as the country grapples with Delta-driven outbreaks, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.

Half of Australia hit by lockdowns as Victoria cases rise

More than half of Australia's 25 million population came under hard Covid-19 lockdowns as the highly infectious Delta variant, that was first discovered in India, spread across three of the country's major cities.

With South Australia state joining all of Victoria and Sydney in lockdown, strict stay-home orders have been enforced for large swathes of the country as officials rush to stem the worst coronavirus outbreak of the year.

Sydney, Australia's largest city, is in the fourth week of a five-week lockdown while Victoria and its capital Melbourne extended stay-home restrictions for seven days until early next week. South Australia announced week-long tough curbs on Tuesday as cases spread across its capital Adelaide.

Meanwhile, Victoria reported the biggest daily rise in locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in more than a week. Twenty-two local cases were detected, up from nine a day earlier, taking the total cases in the latest outbreak to more than 100. All new cases are linked to the current outbreak.

Australia has registered more than 32,100 cases and 915 deaths.

Brazil posts 27,592 new coronavirus cases, 1,424 deaths

Brazil has registered 27,592 new coronavirus cases and 1,424 more deaths during the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Mexico reports 13,853 new cases, 341 deaths

Mexico's Health Ministry has reported 13,853 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country and 341 fatalities, bringing the country's total to 2,678,297 infections and 236,810 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll could be 60 percent more than the official count.

Tunisian premier criticises ousted health minister

Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi has accused the dismissed health minister of making "criminal" decisions that led to overcrowding and chaos at coronavirus vaccination centres.

The centres opened for young people on Tuesday and tens of thousands flocked to them only to find out that small quantities of vaccine were available, leading to some violence.

"The decision to summon all Tunisians for vaccination on the day of Eid is a populist decision and can be described as criminal and threatens the health of Tunisians and social peace," Mechichi said in a statement.

Mechichi had sacked Health Minister Faouzi Mehdi earlier on Tuesday, amid an exchange of accusations over performance in the fight against an increase in Covid-19 cases and the slow pace of the vaccination campaign.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies
 

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Saturday, 17 July 2021

Covid-19: Bombay HC asks Maha Govt to form Policy on door-to-door vaccine for elderly

COVID vaccine.jpg, pic by cnbc 

On Friday, the Bombay High Court told the Maharashtra Government to frame a policy or guidelines for door-to-door vaccination of those bedridden, and senior citizens.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation by two city-based advocates — Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari — seeking door-to-door vaccination for those above 75 years and wheelchair bound.

Senior counsel Anil Sakhare appearing for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation informed the court that it conducted a survey for in-home vaccination and identified 2,780 bedridden patients across 24 wards.

As per the database shared by the civic body, as on July 14, R Central Ward had the highest number of bedridden people at 297. The survey till now is conducted in seven wards and is still going on in 17 wards.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni informed the court that till date, they have received 13,584 responses via social media by those seeking vaccination at home. The court, however said, the number was not big and that the government must publicise the proposal widely.

 

The bench said, “We are not satisfied with the progress. The advertisement needs to be published in newspapers. You should come with a policy otherwise the vaccination drive will get delayed.”

Advocate Kapadia meanwhile sought for the State to set up a helpline number for the bedridden and publicise it widely. The matter will be heard again on July 20.

source ;  https://www.thehindu.com

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National COVID-19 recovery rate reaches 97.3 percent

 


 
@COVIDNewsByMIB

More than 39 crore 53 lakh Covid Vaccine Doses have been administered so far in the country under the Nationwide Vaccination Drive. The Health Ministry said, over 38 lakh 78 thousand vaccine doses were administered in the last 24 hours.

The National covid-19 Recovery rate stands at 97.3 per cent. The country reported 38 thousand 949 new cases in the last 24 hours. Country's Active Caseload currently at 4 lakh 30 thousand 422 and constitute 1.39 per cent of total cases. 542 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Till now 4 lakh 12 thousand 531 people have lost their lives due to the pandemic.

 

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Friday, 16 July 2021

It would be disaster if COVID-19 vaccines administered to Children without proper research: HC

 Delhi High Court

On Friday, the High Court of Delhi said that if COVID-19 vaccines are administered to children without proper research then it may be a disaster while objecting to the submission of the petitioner seeking research on vaccines for children in a time-bound manner.

A division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel & Justice Jyoti Singh said, "It would be a disaster if vaccines are administered on children without proper research."

Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Kailash Vasudev argued that there shall be a specific timeline as to when the vaccine trials for children would conclude.

The Court warned that it would dispose of the matter if the petitioner makes such kinds of submissions & said that there cannot be a timeline for the research.

Pharmaceutical major Zydus Cadila's COVID-19 vaccine may be available in the near future for children in the age group of 12 to 18 years, the Centre in an affidavit told the High Court of Delhi on Friday.

 

Zydus Cadila has concluded its trial for children between the age group of 12 to 18 & is subject to statutory permissions, the Centre added.

The Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical firm had on July 1, requested emergency use approval for ZyCoV-D, its three-dose COVID shot - the world's first Plasmid DNA vaccine.

However, it will be a few more days before the country's drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) gives it emergency use authorisation, sources told ANI on Monday.

The affidavit further submitted that vaccination is the Centre's topmost priority & all efforts are being made to achieve 100 per cent vaccination in the shortest time possible, keeping the availability of vaccine doses in mind.

It further submitted that on May 12, 2021, the Drug Controller General of India permitted Bharat Biotech to conduct clinical trials on healthy volunteers between 2 to 18 years of age, for its vaccine - Covaxin.

The affidavit was filed in the Delhi HC by the Union Health Ministry on a plea filed by a minor, Tia Gupta, seeking immediate vaccination of minors between 12 to 17 years.

SOURCE ;  ANI NEWS

 

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Over 38 lakh 78 thousand Covid vaccine doses administered across country in last 24 hours

  

More than 39 crore 53 lakh Covid Vaccine Doses have been administered so far in the country under the Nationwide Vaccination Drive. Health Ministry said, over 38 lakh 78 thousand vaccine doses were administered in the last 24 hours. 

Testing capacity have been substantially ramped up and over 44 crore tests have been conducted till now. Yesterday, more than 19 lakh 55 thousand tests were conducted.
 

 

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MoU signed between Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) and Government of Gujarat

 

An MoU was signed between Jamnagar based Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda (ITRA) under Ministry of Ayush and the Government of Gujarat in the presence of the Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Nitinbhai Patel and Secretary, Ministry of AyushVaidya Rajesh Kotecha on 15th July 2021. Through this MoU all the institutions functioning in the Ayurveda campus in Jamnagar have been brought under the umbrella of ITRA, the only institution under the Ministry of Ayush that has been accorded the status of Institute of National Importance (INI). Underlining the importance of the MoU, shriNitinbhai said that this will pave the way of the strengthening of the education system in all branches of Ayurveda.

The MoU was exchanged between the Director, ITRA, Prof. Dr. Anup 

Thakar and Shri H.P. Jhala, I/C Registrar, Gujarat Ayurveda University.

https://static.pib.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/image/image001JSTF.jpg

“This arrangement will result, in due course, in the opening of new doors in the fields of education, research and medicine,” said the Deputy CM on the occasion of the signing ceremony. It is hoped that in the field of Ayurveda, it will be easier to prepare new teaching, medical and research methods and the study-research process will be intensified, expanding the overall scope of Ayurveda education and research.

 Addressing the gathering, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said that in the field of Ayurveda, it will be easier to prepare new teaching, medical and research methods. He said that the study and research process can be made more in-depth and ITRA will be an exemplary institution for Ayurveda education and reshaping research institutes across the country.

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Monday, 12 July 2021

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

 

Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, inaugurates 2 PSA Oxygen Plants at Sir Takhtasinhji hospital, Bhavnagar, Gujarat



The plant will ensure no shortage of Oxygen supply for next 20 years in the hospital: Shri Mandaviya

Country is working in spirit of Lok-Bhagidari through a “whole of society” approach to keep everyone safe from COVID

Comprehensive plan and capacity building in the next 6 months is being taken up through the COVID package of Rs. 23,000 Crore

 

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, and Minister of Chemical and Fertilizers, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya today virtually inaugurated two PSA plants at Sir Takhtasinhji hospital, Bhavnagar in the presence of Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways. Along with 2 Oxygen Generation plant of 1000 LPM capacity each, copper piping network and associated facilities like fire fighting system and automatic oxygen source changeover system were also inaugurated.

The occasion was also graced by Shri Shantanu Thakur, Union Minister of State for Ports, Waterways and Shipping and Shripad Yesso Naik, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

 

 

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya said, “This facility is dedicated to the people of Bhavnagar. Similar such facilities inaugurated recently would help the country in times of crisis.” Reiterating Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision for the country, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya said that the country is working in the spirit of Lok-Bhagidari through a “whole of society” approach to keep the country safe from COVID. The Union Health Minister noted the cooperation people showed during lockdowns in maintaining COVID Appropriate Behaviour and social distancing norms to beat the first COVID-19 wave. “It is an evidence of sheer cooperation among different stakeholders from both public and private sector that we ramped up our oxygen capacity that was mere 4000 MT (metric tonne) to more than 12,000 MT in a short span of time’, he stated.

On the continuing challenge of COVID-19 in front of us, Shri Mandaviya mentioned that “We have learnt a lot from the second wave like oxygen supply, hospital beds and medicines. We have now ensured adequate funds in every district for buying critical care medical requirements in emergency. The Cabinet has recently approved Rs. 23,000 crore package for Covid-19 emergency response. We have made adequate provisions for paediatric care in all hospitals to provide the most effective healthcare for children. We are also developing a system of buffer stock at State and centre level that can be used in case of any health crisis. Thus, a comprehensive plan and capacity building in next 6 months is being taken up through this COVID package.”

The Deendayal Port Trust through its Corporate Social Responsibility has installed the two Medical Oxygen PSA units at Sir Takhtsinhji Hospital, Bhavnaga, run by Govt. of Gujarat, at the total cost of Rs. 2.53 crores. The installed PSA oxygen generator unit have the capacity of 1000 LPM (litres per minute) each, i.e., 60,000 liters/hr at 5-6 bar pressure of each unit totalling to 1,20,000 liters/hr, which can be utilized for treatment of COVID as well as other patients of all mankind in the locality, at the hospital. The system will eliminate the hardship of frequent refilling the cylinders for treatment of patients, and will ensure smooth and continuous oxygen supply to the hospital.

The PSA Oxygen generation unit generates pure oxygen gas by the continuous process of pressure swing adsorption & desorption methods through imported Molecular oxygen sieves in pressurized & de-pressurized state in the unit and finally delivers oxygen of minimum 93% purity.

Shri Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary, Ministry of Ports was present virtually. Dr. Bharatiben Dhirubhai Shiyal, MP, Bhavnagar, Ms. Kirti Danidhariya, Mayor, Bhavnagar were present on the occasion in person along with Presidents of District Panchayat and senior officials from the Gujarat government.

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Sunday, 11 July 2021

India hit by wave of new Covid cases – latest updates

 

Covid-19 has infected more than 187 million people and killed more than 4 million. Here are the latest coronavirus-related developments for July 11:

A municipal worker drives an auto-rickshaw decorated with mock syringes through the streets to boost awareness on the importance of Covid-19 vaccination in Chennai on July 3, 2021.
A municipal worker drives an auto-rickshaw decorated with mock syringes through the streets to boost awareness on the importance of Covid-19 vaccination in Chennai on July 3, 2021. (AFP)

Saturday, July 10:

India reports 41,506 new daily cases

India reported on Sunday 41,506 new virus cases and 895 deaths due to the virus in the last 24 hours, according to data from the health ministry, with active cases at 454,118. 

Bangladesh secures vaccine boost after virus cases pass one million

Bangladesh has sealed deals for 17.5 million more vaccine doses, the health minister said, as the country battles record deaths and its caseload passed one million.

The country of 169 million people has imposed its harshest ever lockdown as it seeks to curb a major surge in cases and record numbers of deaths.

The lockdown has been in place for two weeks and is backed by troops on the streets to keep people in their homes.

It is expected the restrictions will be extended past the current end date of July 14.

US administers nearly 333.6M doses of vaccines – CDC

The US had administered 333,565,404 doses of vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 386,985,420 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on its website.

The figures were up from the 332,966,409 doses the CDC said had been administered by Friday out of 386,058,070 doses delivered.

The Atlanta-based agency said 183,836,917 people had received at least one dose while 158,954,417 people were fully vaccinated as of Saturday.

Myanmar caught off guard as cases surge, oxygen dwindles

Consumed by a bitter and violent political struggle since the military seized power in February, Myanmar has been slow to wake up to a devastating surge in cases since mid-May. It has left many of the sick to suffer at home if they cannot find a bed at an army hospital, or prefer not to trust their care to the widely disliked government.

Under Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader ousted by the military, Myanmar had weathered its second virus surge beginning in August last year by severely restricting travel, sealing off Yangon, and curbing election campaigning in virus hot spots where lockdowns were imposed.

TSMC says it is in the process of signing a deal for BioNTech vaccines

Taiwan chipmaker TSMC said it was in the middle of the contract signing process to buy vaccines from Germany's BioNTech SE , part of a drawn out and highly politicised process for Taiwan to access the shot.

Taiwan's government has tried for months to buy the vaccine directly from BioNTech and has blamed China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own territory, for nixing a deal the two sides were due to sign earlier this year.

China denies the accusations.

Tokyo 2020 CEO says Tokyo Olympics will create model for pandemic Games

The Tokyo Olympics will provide a model for hosting the Games during a pandemic after rising infections forced organisers to ban spectators at most events, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said on Sunday.

"This will be the first Olympics held during a pandemic, and Tokyo will provide a model for how that is done," Muto said on a political debate program aired by public broadcaster NHK.

Athletes will not have to compete in completely empty venues because Olympic officials and journalists will be there, he added.

Germany's confirmed cases rise by 745 – RKI

The number of confirmed virus cases in Germany increased by 745 to 3,736,165, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. The reported death toll rose by 6 to 91,231, the tally showed.

Australia records first death in Sydney virus outbreak

Australia announced its first virus-related death in the current Sydney virus outbreak, as the country's biggest city struggles to bring the Delta variant under control.

The woman in her 90s died Saturday, hours after testing positive for virus, and was also the first death from a locally-acquired infection in Australia this year.

It came as authorities announced a record 77 new cases, and warned that numbers were expected to spike above 100 on Monday.

Elderly woman infected with 'two virus variants at once'

A 90-year-old woman who died after falling ill with Covid-19 was infected with both the Alpha and Beta variants of the coronavirus at the same time, researchers in Belgium said, adding that the rare phenomenon may be underestimated.

The unvaccinated woman, who lived alone and received at-home nursing care, was admitted to the OLV Hospital in the Belgian city of Aalst after a spate of falls in March and tested positive for Covid-19 the same day.

While her oxygen levels were initially good, her condition deteriorated rapidly and she died five days later.

Brazil reports 1,205 more deaths

Brazil has registered 1,205 Covid-19 deaths and 48,504 additional cases, according to data released by the nation's Health Ministry.

The South American country has now registered a total of 532,893 coronavirus deaths and 19,069,003 total confirmed cases.

Brazil has the second highest coronavirus death toll in the world, with only the United States reporting more fatalities.

South Korea reports 1,324 new cases

South Korea has reported 1,324 new coronavirus cases as of midnight on Saturday, Yonhap news agency reported, down from a record 1,378 the day before as the country battles a surge of infections, though with fewer serious cases than earlier waves.

Mexico reports 9,581 new cases 

Mexico's health ministry has reported 9,581 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the country and 232 more fatalities, bringing its total to 2,586,721 infections and 234,907 deaths.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published recently suggested the actual death toll could be 60 percent higher than the official count.

Algerian prime minister infected with Covid-19

Newly appointed Algerian Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane is infected with Covid-19, Algerian state TV said.

The prime minister, who had just formed his new government on Wednesday, will quarantine for seven days, but will continue performing his duties virtually, state TV said.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies
 
 

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Thursday, 8 July 2021

Will Harshvardhan's Exit Undo the Wrongs of Modi Govt's Inept Handling of COVID?

 With Harshvardhan shown the door, the question now remains of what happened to empowered groups headed by senior bureaucrats and the Prime Minister's Office which took charge of COVID-19 management. 

 Will Harshvardhan's Exit Undo the Wrongs of Modi Govt's Inept Handling of COVID? 

New Delhi: The departure of health minister Harshvardhan from the Union cabinet was the one that stood out when Prime Minister Narendra Modi effected major changes on Wednesday. Though Harshvardhan was one of the 12 ministers who resigned ahead of the reshuffle, his moving out of the council of ministers was somewhere given the hue of punishment or an admission of the Centre’s failure in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, especially the devastating second wave.

However, while Harshvardhan was gradually sidelined and kept out of several key meetings after the wave had struck in March and intensified in April, it is unclear if he alone should shoulder the blame for not seeing it coming and preparing for a surge in cases just around the same months when the country had seen the first wave develop in 2020. The months of March-April in both the years were when the cases rose sharply.

So has Harshvardhan been made the scapegoat to protect the BJP government at the Centre at large and the Prime Minister in particular from taking the blame for the fiasco of not projecting and preparing for the second wave?

A look at some of the issues and how and why the government failed to prepare the infrastructure, especially in relation to the availability of hospital beds, oxygen and medicines, would reveal that it was not the failure of just one man but of the entire system which allowed India to slide into a crisis. At a time when some states, like Maharashtra, had already shown signs of the number of cases rising sharply, little attempt was made to prepare the other states for a coming crisis.

 

After all, it should not be forgotten that the Centre already had six empowered groups working on various aspects of the management of Covid-19 when the second wave struck. Four of these were headed by departmental secretaries and two by NITI Aayog officials.

While the Niti Aayog member Dr V.K. Paul headed the group on medical infrastructure and Covid management plan, the Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant was coordinating with the private sector, NGOs and international organisations for response-related activities.

This apart, the secretary in the department for the promotion of industry and internal trade was tasked with working on ensuring availability of essential medical equipment and augmenting human resources; the secretary of the department of economic affairs headed the group that dealth with economic and welfare measures; the secretary of information and broadcasting looked after the group that dealt with information, communication, public awareness, public grievances and data management; and the union home secretary led the group that deal with strategic issues related to Covid management, and facilitated supply chain and logistics management.

Incidentally, on March 29, 2020, the empowered groups were first constituted with 11 different teams. As the first wave passed, and the issue of lockdown was dealt with, in September 2020, the Centre decided to reconstitute the eleven empowered groups into six groups in view of the “current requirements” of managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Incidentally, these groups had a large number of experts among them. Apart from the secretaries of various other departments, these also comprised health experts, senior officials of organisations like the National Disaster Management Authority, and even officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, such as OSD PMO Hiren Joshi.

So it would not be correct to say that the Centre lay largely unaware of the crisis that was brewing earlier this year – as repeated warnings from opposition leaders and others about holding assembly elections or giving permission for the conduct of Maha Kumbh Mela in Hardwar, which everyone feared could become superspreader events, were ignored and the second wave was allowed to cause widespread pain and death.

The fact that in the national capital several special Covid facilities like the DRDO-run Centre near Delhi airport or the over 10,000-bed facility created at Radha Saomi Satsang Beas Centre at Chhatarpur were closed and dismantled in February this year speaks volumes about the assessment done by these committees of the impending situation.

How Harshvardhan shot himself in the toe?

However, in Harshvardhan, the Centre appears to have found the perfect scapegoat to load all its shortcomings with. Also through his repeated statements, he brought this situation upon himself.

After all it was Harshvardhan who on March 7 declared that it was the “endgame” of Covid-19. Also, prior to that, it was he who chose to endorse the sale of Coronil, a product of Swami Ramdev’s company, Patanjali, as one that could combat Covid, evoking a strong response from the Indian Medical Association.

And as the second wave was building, Harshvardhan instead of preparing for it began taking on BJP’s political opponents for raising the issue of Centre’s inept handling of the pandemic.


In April, Harshvardhan attacked the opposition as the states demanded opening up of the vaccination saying this was a bid to “distract attention from their failures and spread panic among the people”. Then he also wrote a letter to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accusing the Congress and states ruled by it of “spreading falsehoods” and “fuelling vaccine hesitancy…playing with the lives of our countrymen”.

He charged that it were these “irresponsible public pronouncements” which were responsible for “below national average vaccination coverage of senior citizens and even front-line workers in some of the Congress-ruled states” and contributed to the “second wave”.

It is being said that as the second wave took grip over the country, Harshvardhan was sidelined and the Prime Minister’s Office, top officials of NITI Aayog, and the empowered groups on Covid-19 took charge.

 

While this may be true to the extent that Harshvardhan was not present in some of the high-level meetings, the attempt to hard-sell the notion that PMO, Niti Aayog officials and the empowered groups had no role to play before that is not likely to find many takers.

 With Harshvardhan’s exit, the Centre would be hoping that people would get the impression that everything possible has been done to correct the wrongs, which led to numerous deaths and hardship for patients during the pandemic, but if this is yet another attempt to pull wool over the eyes, only time will tell.

SOURCE ; THE WIRE

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Tuesday, 6 July 2021

India’s Vaccination Programme: Is the Government’s Timeline Realistic?

 The national record for most vaccinations was 8.6 million on June 21. To achieve universal vaccination by the year end, nearly as many persons will have to be vaccinated daily.

 India’s Vaccination Programme: Is the Government’s Timeline Realistic? 

A medical worker holds a vial of Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine that was launched in the state from today, at a private hospital in Ahmedabad, July 5, 2021. Photo: PTI

On June 7, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the Centre would be providing free vaccines to all citizens above 18 years from June 21 onwards.

It was a historic announcement, but it came only after the devastating death toll of the second COVID-19 wave. One could argue that the government should have shown more swiftness in carrying out universal vaccination as well as increasing its pace as an efficient means of preventing loss of life.

While one member of the Niti Aayog announced that 2.1 billion doses would be procured before December 2021, there is little evidence to back up the claims. Thus, without clear planning, it cannot be said with certainty that the central government will be able to procure such a large quantity of vaccines and achieve universal vaccination within the stipulated time.

It is particularly important to examine the government’s timeline and issues that might impede the vaccination progress. We begin by first discussing the existing speed of vaccination and the required rate for universal vaccination for different states. This is followed by an analysis of the expected vaccination coverage by the cut-off date based on various speeds.

We also project timelines for states to achieve universal vaccine coverage. For simplicity, we focus only on the number of doses required at the rate of two doses per person for universal vaccination. It is estimated that 938.96 million people of the age of 18 and above are eligible for vaccination, which would require 1877.9 million vaccine doses to be administered.

 

We show vaccination speeds during recent times and projections thereon with respect to vaccination target completion by end of this year along with a possible timeline of universal vaccination. Our analysis is based on states’ actual average daily doses in millions and we also double this speed for simulated projection purposes. 

Closed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) 

vaccination centre due to shortage of vaccine in Mumbai, 

Thursday, July 1, 2021. Photo: PTI/Shashank Parade

Various vaccination speed and projection dates have been used: ‘May rate’ is from the morning of May 1 to May 31, 2021 (30 days) and projected from June 8, 2021, post the PM’s address. ‘June rate’ (previous phase) is from the morning of June 1 to June 21, 2021 (20 days) and projections from the morning of June 21 before the beginning of new vaccination campaign. The current ‘June rate (new phase)’ is from the morning of June 21 to July 1, 2021 (10 days) and projections made from July 1, 2021, to show the current trend. The required rate in the table below is projected from July 1, 2021, for universal vaccination with a cut-off date of December 31, 2021. (Data is sourced from the website of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and may be provisional and subject to revision.)


In Table 1, the average daily doses in May were only 1.94 million. There was some improvement to 3.2 million in the previous phase of June which quickly progressed to as high as 5.57 million in the new phase of June. If the speed of vaccination could suddenly increase in the new vaccination phase, why was the initial speed so low?

More importantly still, the required average daily rate of vaccination for universal vaccination by year end comes out to be 8.38 million for India. The national record for most vaccinations was 8.6 million on June 21. There is a need to keep up the daily vaccination rate around the national record consistently. However, this momentum has not been sustained, and the average has fallen to 5.57 million between June 21 and June 30, 2021, and on June 30, 2021, only 2.7 million vaccinations were administered.

Table 1: Speed of Vaccination and Required Rate (Total Doses) 


Avg. Daily Doses May Avg. Daily Doses 

June (Previous Phase)

Current Avg. Daily Doses June (New Phase) Current Required Rate
INDIA 1.94 3.20 5.57 8.38
Delhi 0.07 0.06 0.14 0.01
H. Pradesh 0.02 0.02 0.10 0.04
Uttarakhand 0.03 0.03 0.08 0.06
NE States 0.03 0.05 0.13 0.09
Chhattisgarh 0.05 0.03 0.20 0.16
Haryana 0.07 0.07 0.15 0.18
Punjab 0.05 0.06 0.08 0.21
Kerala 0.06 0.14 0.20 0.21
Assam 0.05 0.06 0.17 0.22
Jharkhand 0.03 0.08 0.11 0.23
Telangana 0.04 0.15 0.19 0.24
Odisha 0.06 0.10 0.22 0.28
A. Pradesh 0.11 0.20 0.18 0.34
Gujarat 0.15 0.25 0.36 0.39
Karnataka 0.13 0.24 0.42 0.41
Rajasthan 0.13 0.21 0.35 0.43
M. Pradesh 0.09 0.19 0.53 0.49
T. Nadu 0.10 0.18 0.30 0.54
W. Bengal 0.11 0.21 0.29 0.67
Bihar 0.11 0.17 0.22 0.71
Maharashtra 0.20 0.26 0.47 0.82
U. Pradesh 0.18 0.36 0.57 1.43

Source: Authors calculations

At the same time, we must also look at the performance of different states vis-à-vis their required rates for vaccination. States like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, North-Eastern states, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh show a promising trend, their present rates of vaccination overtaking their required rates. In Kerala and Gujarat, the current rate is very close to the required rate. It may be assumed that these states will be able to meet the target of universal vaccination soon.

However, the remaining states still need to improve their current average rates of vaccination if they want to meet their required deadlines. Although Uttar Pradesh seems to be performing the best out of all states at an average of 0.57 million vaccinations, it is still a long way in achieving its required rate of 1.43 million. Given the vaccine hesitancy, and the risk of coordination failures in states with a poor health infrastructure, the pace of vaccination may further increase challenges in any case.

It is thus evident that many states will lag behind in achieving full vaccination coverage as they have not yet achieved the required rate. It is relevant to have a perspective of the expected coverage and shortfall expected by the end of the year going by the various vaccination speed.

 

In Table 2, we consider first the usual rate of vaccination for the months of May and June (previous and new phases) and also double these rates to see the projected coverage.

If the usual speed seen in May 2021 were continued, only 34% vaccination coverage could have been achieved by end of this year. Double this speed could have raised coverage up to 55%. Going by the usual rate in the previous phase of June, 48% coverage could be achieved in India by the end of December, doubling which could increase coverage to as high as 81%. However, since the speed increased considerably in the new phase of June, the usual speed would be expected to lead to coverage of 70% of total doses. 

Table 2: Percentage of Vaccination Coverage Expected by December 31, 2021, Based on Different Vaccination Speeds (Total Doses) 


May June Previous Phase June Current New Phase

Usual Speed Double Speed Usual Speed Double Speed Usual Speed Double Speed
INDIA 34 55 48 81 72 127
Delhi 100 100 100 100 100 100
H. Pradesh 63 100 57 89 100 100
NE States 47 77 67 100 100 100
Uttarakhand 54 90 60 99 100 100
Chhattisgarh 43 68 33 47 100 100
M. Pradesh 30 47 48 82 100 100
Karnataka 43 69 67 100 100 100
Gujarat 50 82 72 100 94 100
Kerala 44 67 73 100 94 100
Haryana 50 85 52 87 89 100
Rajasthan 43 69 60 100 87 100
Telangana 27 42 71 100 84 100
Odisha 34 55 46 77 83 100
Assam 33 56 36 61 80 100
Maharashtra 36 60 42 70 65 100
T. Nadu 26 44 41 71 61 100
A. Pradesh 42 70 68 100 61 100
Jharkhand 24 38 42 73 54 94
W. Bengal 28 44 42 70 52 88
Punjab 36 61 40 66 50 84
U. Pradesh 20 33 33 56 46 82
Bihar 23 38 32 54 39 67

Source: Authors calculations. 

At the same time again, projections for each state yields differential outcomes. Delhi is the only state which will be able to achieve the target by the cut-off date, even by the usual May speed. If the June speed (as seen in the new phase) is continued, states such as Himachal Pradesh, North-eastern states, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka will be able to achieve the target of full vaccination cover by end of this year. 

 If the June (new phase) speed is doubled, most of the remaining states will achieve the target. However, the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh will only be able to cross 80% vaccination cover of both doses by year-end even with double the speed seen in the new phase of June. Bihar meanwhile, will not able to even reach 70% coverage even at the double of the current rate.

 

Given the differential outcomes in the expected coverage by the year end, we also present in Table 3 the dates by which universal vaccination coverage can be achieved by different states. 

Table 3: Timeline of Vaccine Coverage (Total Doses) Based on Different Vaccination Speed


May June Previous Phase June New Phase
  Usual Speed Double Speed Usual Speed Double Speed Usual Speed Double Speed
INDIA 02-Oct-23 05-Aug-22 02-Nov-22 25-Feb-22 03-Apr-22 16-Nov-21
Delhi 24-Jul-21 01-Jul-21 03-Aug-21 12-Jul-21 08-Jul-21 04-Jul-21
H. Pradesh 13-Jul-22 25-Dec-21 17-Sep-22 02-Feb-22 07-Sep-21 04-Aug-21
NE States 04-Jan-23 22-Mar-22 21-May-22 05-Dec-21 08-Nov-21 04-Sep-21
Uttarakhand 25-Sep-22 31-Jan-22 20-Jul-22 04-Jan-22 16-Nov-21 08-Sep-21
Chhattisgarh 20-Apr-23 14-May-22 17-Jul-24 03-Jan-23 29-Nov-21 14-Sep-21
M. Pradesh 03-Apr-24 05-Nov-22 27-Oct-22 22-Feb-22 16-Dec-21 23-Sep-21
Karnataka 21-Mar-23 29-Apr-22 17-May-22 03-Dec-21 25-Dec-21 27-Sep-21
Gujarat 24-Nov-22 02-Mar-22 21-Apr-22 20-Nov-21 16-Jan-22 08-Oct-21
Kerala 04-May-23 21-May-22 17-Apr-22 18-Nov-21 18-Jan-22 09-Oct-21
Haryana 25-Oct-22 15-Feb-22 24-Sep-22 06-Feb-22 01-Feb-22 16-Oct-21
Rajasthan 04-Apr-23 06-May-22 13-Jul-22 31-Dec-21 09-Feb-22 20-Oct-21
Telangana 09-Oct-24 07-Feb-23 16-Apr-22 17-Nov-21 17-Feb-22 24-Oct-21
Odisha 27-Oct-23 17-Aug-22 06-Dec-22 14-Mar-22 18-Feb-22 25-Oct-21
Assam 17-Aug-23 13-Jul-22 11-May-23 31-May-22 27-Feb-22 29-Oct-21
Maharashtra 24-Jul-23 01-Jul-22 16-Feb-23 19-Apr-22 14-May-22 06-Dec-21
T. Nadu 19-May-24 28-Nov-22 17-Jan-23 04-Apr-22 04-Jun-22 17-Dec-21
A. Pradesh 10-Mar-23 24-Apr-22 06-May-22 27-Nov-21 23-Jun-22 26-Dec-21
Jharkhand 29-Dec-24 20-Mar-23 29-Dec-22 26-Mar-22 01-Aug-22 15-Jan-22
W. Bengal 07-Jul-24 22-Dec-22 31-Jan-23 11-Apr-22 01-Sep-22 30-Jan-22
Punjab 23-Jun-23 15-Jun-22 22-Mar-23 06-May-22 28-Sep-22 13-Feb-22
U. Pradesh 26-Jul-25 02-Jul-23 02-Jul-23 26-Jun-22 07-Oct-22 17-Feb-22
Bihar 02-Nov-24 19-Feb-23 21-Aug-23 21-Jul-22 08-Feb-23 20-Apr-22

Source: Authors calculations. 

Going by the average May 2021 usual speed, India would only achieve full vaccination coverage by Gandhi Jayanti in 2023 and doubling this speed would only help India reach its target by August 2022. At the usual May speed, only Delhi would be able to achieve the target before the year end. Going by the June speed (previous phase), India would reach its universal vaccination target by November 2022, and even by the current June speed, it is only in April 2022 that India is projected to accomplish universal vaccination.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are expected to achieve its target by October 2022 and February 2023 respectively. Even by doubling the speed seen in June (new phase), Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are projected to achieve the target by February and April 2022 respectively.

A woman reacts as a health worker conducts COVID-19 testing before administering a dose of COVID vaccine, outside a bus terminal at Parimpora in Srinagar, Monday, July 5, 2021. Photo: PTI/S. Irfan

We have seen that there is volatility in vaccination speed and sustaining the momentum may emerge as a major issue.  It is only now that the vaccination speed has picked up to around six million doses per day, which again raises questions about the slow vaccination speed seen earlier in May at just around two million doses per day. Was this slow vaccination speed deliberate or due to supply issues? If it were just because of supply issues, wouldn’t it have been prudent to have resolved it earlier?

There are visible supply deficiencies which raise questions about the claims of achieving the target of full vaccination coverage by December 31, 2021.  The challenge of maintaining the vaccination speed is dependent upon uninterrupted supply which necessities scaling-up of the production process. However, most of the private suppliers are not able to scale up and it is very unlikely that they would be in a position to meet the supply requirement within the time frame. There is definitely a lack of production capacity by private suppliers in India. 


Bharat Biotech, which is expected to produce 550 million doses over five months, has only committed 80 million doses. Its additional plants may take at least six months before they can supply doses. Similarly, Serum is expected to supply 750 million doses between August and December, but producing 150 million doses per month does not seem feasible. Dr. Reddy’s Lab will manufacture, from August to December 2021, 35 to 40 million doses of the Sputnik vaccine. Bio E + Baylor College USA are to manufacture subunit vaccines but their Phase 3 trials, if they succeed, will scale up production only later in 2021.

Moreover, Serum Institute’s Novavax (called Covavax) faces trial and thus manufacturing delays exacerbated by shortage of raw materials. Even Bharat Biotech’s Nasal vaccines have only just completed Phase 1 trials, and there is no certainty it will be ready this year even if trials are successful. Gennova is also planning mRNA vaccine based on a new technology, which however has still not completed trials. Finally, Zydus Cadilla is to manufacture a DNA vaccine, but it is still under trials. As such, there is much uncertainty with respect to private manufacturers.

In the public sector, only Indian Immunologicals has got its wheels turning. Haffkine and BIBCOL will take a significant amount of time to start manufacture. Had Haffkine received bulk from Bharat Biotech as per the initial plans, production of finished doses could have started by June this year. This however did not happen and as a result, officials at Haffkine have asked for at least a year before production can commence.

 

But the central government has time and again emphasised that there is no shortage of vaccines. The supply side however paints a dismal picture. The only way to make good on the claims of achieving full vaccination coverage by end of this year will be by increasing the speed of vaccination with simultaneous focus on increasing and maintaining a continuous supply of doses. We also have to keep in mind the impending third wave which also necessitates faster vaccination. If some states are able to reach the target early, their excess supply can be used to fill the deficit in laggard states. The key however is to speed up production as well as the speed of vaccination. 

Santosh Mehrotra is Visiting Professor, University of Bath, UK; Rakesh Ranjan Kumar has a Doctorate in Economics from JNU.

SOURCE ; THE WIRE

 

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