COVID-19 Updates: 9 European countries accept Covishield for travel; Zydus Cadila seeks DCGI nod for its ‘needle-free’ vaccine

India registered 48,786 fresh coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, 5.8 percent higher from the single-day COVID-19 tally on Wednesday, taking the overall count to 3.04 crore on Thursday, said the health ministry

India registered 48,786 fresh coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, 5.8 percent higher from the single-day COVID-19 tally on Wednesday, taking the overall count to 3.04 crore on Thursday, said the Union health ministry.

The number stood at 45,951 the previous day. With the death of 1,005 more patients since Wednesday, the total number of fatalities neared the 4 lakh-mark.

The daily recoveries outnumbered fresh infections for the 49th day straight with 61,588 more people getting discharged. This took the total number of recoveries in the country to 2.9 crore.

The active caseload has fallen to 5,23,257, declining by 13,807, and constitutes 1.72 percent of the total infections. India’s test positivity rate stood at 2.54 percent on Thursday, less than 5 percent for 24 consecutive days.

Nine European countries include Covishield in ‘Green Pass’ list

Amid the ongoing tussle between India and the European Union over the “Green Pass” for COVID-19 vaccines, nine European countries have added Covishield to their list of approved vaccines.

The countries that have cleared Covishield include seven EU member states: Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Estonia and Spain and two non-member states: Iceland and Switzerland. This means those inoculated with Covishield will be exempted from travel curbs and mandatory quarantine in these countries.

India had said on Wednesday that it would recognise EU’s digital Covid certificate on a reciprocal basis and would not accept it until the 27-member EU does the same for Indian vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin. New Delhi also said it will adopt a policy of reciprocity and exempt European nationals holding the ‘Green Pass’ from mandatory quarantine if its request to recognise Covishield and Covaxin vaccines are heeded to.

India had raised the issue with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and France, had also asked EU member states to individually consider extending a similar exemption.

Zydus Cadila seeks DCGI nod for its ‘needle-free’ vaccine ZyCoV-D

Zydus Cadila on Thursday requested emergency use approval with the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for its ZyCoV-D three-dose COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D. The shot is “needle-free”, says the company, and “safe for children”.

The company said that it can be ready for rollout within 45 to 60 days of getting an approval. ZyCoV-D is touted to be the first plasmid DNA vaccine against COVID-19 and it is also raising interest as it can be administered with a needle-free applicator.

An approval for ZyCoV-D would make it the fifth vaccine cleared for use in India after Serum Institute of India’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Russia’s Sputnik V and the US-made Moderna.

Dr Sharvil Patel, managing director, Cadila Healthcare, said the vaccine when approved will help not only adults but also adolescents in the 12 to 18 years age group.

ZyCoV-D is a plasmid DNA vaccine which when injected produces the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and elicits an immune response mediated by the cellular and humoral arms of the human immune system, which play a vital role in protection from disease as well as viral clearance.

India will accept single-dose Sputnik Light’s trial data from Russia: Dr Reddy’s

Hyderabad-based pharma major Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Thursday said that the single-dose Sputnik Light vaccine can submit Russian safety data for approval in India, hours after reports said they had been denied approval for the trial in the country.

Sputnik Light is a one-shot COVID-19 vaccine from the makers of Sputnik V and is yet to be approved in the country. According to its makers, Sputnik Light has demonstrated an efficacy of 79.4 percent.

If approved for use, the Sputnik Light coronavirus vaccine is likely to be priced around Rs 730 approximately.

Earlier on Thursday, the Centre’s Subject Expert Committee (SEC) denied permission to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for conducting Phase 3 trials of the Russian Sputnik Light vaccine in India.

The expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) refused to allow the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company to conduct the third phase trials for the one-shot vaccine because it did not find the “scientific rationale” for it.

Delta variant to become dominant strain of COVID-19 in coming months: WHO

The World Health Organisation has said the Delta variant of COVID-19 is now present in nearly 100 countries as per conservative estimates, and warned that in the coming months the highly transmissible strain will become the dominant variant of the coronavirus globally.

In its COVID-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update, the WHO said as of 29 June, 2021, “96 countries have reported cases of the Delta variant, though this is likely an underestimate as sequencing capacities needed to identify variants are limited. A number of these countries are attributing surges in infections and hospitalisations to this variant.”

Given the increase in transmissibility, the WHO warned that the Delta variant is “expected to rapidly outcompete other variants and become the dominant variant over the coming months.”

The world body noted that the tools that exist today to combat the coronavirus individual, community level-public health and social measures, infection prevention and control measures that have been used since the beginning of the pandemic remain effective against current variants of concern (VOCs), including the Delta variant.

Kerala, Odisha among states to extend lockdown

Several states have extended the COVID-induced lockdown that was first introduced due to the second wave of the pandemic. The cases of delta plus variant are also emerging in the country.

In view of the current situation, several state governments have extended the lockdown restrictions that were in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus .

The Kerala government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown restrictions for one more week. The new restrictions came into effect from Thursday.

Odisha also extended the partial lockdown in the state for 15 more days till 5 am on 16 July. The existing restrictions ended at 5 am on Thursday.

Narendra Modi hails ‘exemplary’ service by doctors during pandemic

On the occasion of National Doctors’ Day, Prime Minister Thursday addressed the medical fraternity and heaped praises for their contribution in the battle against coronavirus pandemic.

Equating the doctors with God, the prime minister paid tributes to all healthcare professionals who lost their lives while treating COVID-19 patients. “I want to thank all the doctors on behalf of all 1.3 billion people of India. Our doctors worked like Gods and change the course of our lives,” he said.

Modi made the remarks while addressing the doctors’ fraternity at an event organised by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Like every year, the country observed National Doctors’ Day on Thursday (1 July) to honour the contributions of the doctors community. The first National Doctor’s day was celebrated in the country in July 1991.

The prime minister said that at a time when the country is fighting a war against the pandemic, doctors have worked for 24X7 to ensure treatment to the affected.

“There have been those doctors who laid down their lives saving the lives of others. I pay homage to all those doctors who made the supreme sacrifice,” he said.

With inputs from agencies

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