India has volunteered to participate in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ongoing solidarity trial for developing vaccines for Covid-19, as the number of cases in the country ballooned to more than 804.
WHO with its partners is organizing a study called the solidarity trial in many countries in which some of the untested treatments are compared with each other. The study has been designed to generate the robust data needed to show which treatments are the most effective.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Friday said that India had not taken this decision so far as there weren’t enough cases in the country to participate in the trial.
“We have indicated our willingness to become a part of vaccine trials as and when they start for our population. Earlier our numbers were small and our contribution would have been minuscule,” said Raman R. Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR.
“We are at present developing the repurposed molecule for vaccine. We have asked the department of biotechnology to take up the vaccine trials because they have ample infrastructure for vaccine development,” said Gangakhedkar.
Many countries, including Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand, have already confirmed that they will join the solidarity trial, according to WHO. WHO has also created a Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, to help provide protective equipment for front-line health workers, equip diagnostic laboratories, improve surveillance and data collection, establish and maintain intensive care units, strengthen supply chains, accelerate research and development of vaccines and therapeutics, and take other critical steps to scale up the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the last 24 hours, 75 new positive cases and four deaths have been reported in the country, Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, said on Friday. India reported 101 fresh cases on Friday.
Kerala on Friday confirmed 39 more Covid-19 cases, the biggest spike in a day for the state with the highest number of cases in the country in a signal towards the community transmission. There are 164 active cases in the state, according to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. So far 13 people have recovered, including one a day ago, he said. It is not immediately clear whether the new cases are all people who returned from overseas or natives.
The number of Covid-19 patients in Maharashtra rose to 153 with the state reporting 29 new cases on Friday. “Covid-19 patients who have good immunity and are managing the treatment properly are recovering,” said state health minister, Rajesh Tope.
Nine new cases and one death have come to light in Karnataka on Friday, taking the total number of cases in the state to 64, while Telangana reported 10 more cases.
“As there have been reports of shortage of ventilators in the hospitals for treating critical Covid-19 patients, we have ordered 10,000 ventilators through a PSU. Bharat Electronics Ltd has also been requested to purchase 30,000 additional ventilators in one-two months amid a shortage of the machines in the country,” Aggarwal said.
Several migrant labourers are facing livelihood problems because of the lockdown. The Centre has asked states and Union territories to make arrangements for food, water and sanitation for them, said Punya Salila Srivastava, joint secretary in the home ministry home affairs. “At present there is no plan to ferry stranded migrants across cities or states.” Meanwhile, the ministry of social justice and empowerment on Friday issued “Comprehensive Disability Inclusive Guidelines” for protection and safety of persons with disabilities in light of the pandemic.