COVID-19 Updates: COVAXIN 65.2% effective against Delta variant, says Bharat Biotech; Karnataka eases lockdown curbs

According to health ministry, the active COVID-19 caseload stood at 4.95 lakh as of Saturday, dipping below the 5-lakh mark after 97 days

India has been witnessing a steady fall in single-day COVID-19 cases reporting 44,111 infections on Saturday, while 738 died of the virus in the last 24 hours, according to the Union health ministry.while

With this, the overall count of COVID-19 increased to 3.05 crore cases and toll rose to 4,01,050. According to ministry data, the active caseload stood at 4.95 lakh as of Saturday, dipping below 5 lakh after 97 days.

This marks a net decline of 14,104 in active cases in the past 24 hours. The recovery rate has improved to 97.06 percent.

No weekend curfew in Karnataka from Monday: BS Yediyurappa

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa Saturday announced further relaxations in COVID-19 induced lockdown in the state. While the night curfew will continue to be in place from 9 pm to 5 am, there will be no weekend curfew starting next week.

The relaxations would be in place for the next 15 days from 6 July, Yediyurappa said after chairing a meeting with his Cabinet colleagues and senior officials on Saturday.

However, all educational institutions, tutorial centres, and colleges will continue to remain shut until further orders, a government order said.

Theatres, cinemas and pubs would remain closed while swimming pools would be opened only for competitive training purpose.

Weddings and family functions are permitted with the presence of not more than 100 people. Places of worship are allowed to open only for darshan.

“Shops, restaurants, malls, and private offices have to enforce COVID-appropriate behaviour failing which action will be initiated under the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” Yediyurappa said.

Centre sanctions funds from PM-CARES for new vaccine-testing lab

The Centre has sanctioned funds from the PM-CARES Fund for setting up a vaccine-testing laboratory in Hyderabad, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said on Saturday.

“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji for sanctioning funds for setting up of vaccine testing lab at Hyderabad. A big step forward towards comprehensive development of pharma sector in Hyderabad, which will also boost production of COVID-19 vaccines,” Reddy, a Lok Sabha member from Secunderabad, tweeted.

The increased focus on vaccine production against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated more vaccine-testing laboratories in the country, Reddy said in a press release.

At present, there are two vaccine-testing laboratories in the country – the Central Drug Laboratory at Kasauli and National Institute of Biologicals at Noida, he said.

Coronavirus will be reduced to an endemic in future, say experts

Cases of coronavirus infection might be declining steadily but as the virus is mutating, attaining that magical zero figure in Delhi is unlikely, experts have said, and predicted that coronavirus will be reduced to an endemic in the future.

The Centre, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his cabinet colleague Satyendar Jain had said last year that one will have to learn with coronavirus and make its prevention norms a part of our lives.

Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital said there will always be a few cases of the virus. “Zero is an unlikely figure. The virus is mutating and it is difficult to predict its future behaviour,” he said.

Explaining why the virus has posed such a challenge, Dr Sanjeev K Singh, resident medical director, Amrita Hospitals in Faridabad said it is an mRNA virus which keeps changing its structure.

Pfizer, J&J vaccines more effective against Delta, say South African experts

The anti- COVID-19 vaccines by US pharma majors Pfizer and Johnson&Johnson (J&J) that are being used in South Africa are more effective against the Delta variant of the coronavirus than the Beta strain, experts have said.

The Beta variant, which was first detected in South Africa, caused a second wave at the beginning of this year whereas the Delta variant, first detected in India, is driving the current third wave in South Africa, resulting in increased lockdown restrictions as the number of infections and deaths have already surpassed those of the previous two waves.

In a media briefing led by Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi on Friday, experts said that results in both laboratory research and field studies had shown that the vaccines were effective against the Delta virus.

COVAXIN 77.8% effective, provides 65.2% protection against Delta variant: Bharat Biotech

Bharat Biotech’s COVAXIN has demonstrated 77.8 percent effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 and 65.2 percent protection against the new Delta variant.

The company on Saturday said it concluded the final analysis of COVAXIN efficacy from Phase 3 trials.

The efficacy analysis demonstrates COVAXIN to be 93.4 percent effective against severe symptomatic COVID-19 cases while safety analysis shows adverse events reported were similar to placebo, with 12 percent of subjects experiencing commonly known side effects and less than 0.5 percent feeling serious adverse events.

The efficacy data demonstrates 63.6 percent protection against asymptomatic COVID-19 , a release from the city-based vaccine maker said.

Phase 3 clinical trials of the vaccine was an event driven analysis of 130 symptomatic COVID-19 cases, reported at least two weeks after the second dose, conducted at 25 sites across India.

Progressive decline in COVID-19 cases in northeast: Jitendra Singh

Union minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday said there is a progressive decline in COVID-19 cases in all eight northeastern states but cautioned that the fall in active cases must be followed with greater thrust on vaccination and strict observance of relevant protocols.

At a review meeting with health secretaries of all the eight northeastern states Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim, Singh expressed satisfaction that they were catching up with the national average in terms of the decline in positivity rate.

Meghalaya is the only exception which witnessed a surge due to the COVID-19 cases at a prison in Ri-bhoi district, he said.

There is a progressive decline in COVID-19 cases in all the eight north-eastern states, the minister added.

Singh, Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), was informed that in the northeastern region, the positivity rate, which was 3.96 percent on 30 June, has gone down to 2.94 percent on 2 July.

This is in tune with the national average declining from 2.34 percent on 30 June to 2.09 percent on 2 July, an official statement said.

With inputs from agencies

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