The Delhi High Court asks the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government to immediately implement measures for containment of COVID-19, indicating the surge is at an alarming rate. Court further questions the motive of state government’s implementation of night curfew in entire Capital or some parts of it, considering deadly third wave.
The court wants a detailed report on the measures by December 3. Indian Capital on Thursday registered 5,475 new coronaviruses with a rise of 99 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily fatality rate has been below 100 mark for five consecutive days. However, health experts indicate that the third wave is more deadly with Delhi witnessing 2,364 deaths in just a month.
Amidst the Delhi COVID-19 surge, thousands of farmers from Haryana are marching towards the Capital in protest against the farm laws causing another hurdle Infront the state government.
On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “The high severity of the third wave is due to many factors. Pollution is an important factor” as stubble-burning season is here.
Health experts predict that the third wave is likely to last a few more weeks. Although the last week offered some signs of a slowdown in new COVID cases in Delhi compared to the previous five weeks, the resurgence cannot be said to be over yet, according to doctors.
Keeping in light the increase in cases, Delhi HC is hearing the plea seeking to increase the COVID-19 testing facilities in the state. There have been a few restrictions imposed, and decision for a lockdown is yet to be taken. There is, however, no sign as to when the COVID curve will flatten.
Delhi COVID-19 numbers are worrisome:
From November 1 to 16, Delhi recorded over one lakh new cases and nearly 1,200 deaths, and almost 94,000 COVID- 19 patients recovered during the time. The highest single-day spike was recorded on November 11 with 8,593 new cases. On November 12, the daily death toll was all-time high at 108. According to the health department, November recorded 1,01,070 coronavirus cases so far, and 93,885 patients have recovered since the beginning of this month.
Causes of third wave in Capital:
Although the Coronavirus cases and death rates had reduced since September nationwide, the Delhi COVID-19 situation is very different. Since mid-May, Delhi had begun to lift the restrictions gradually and reopened the markets and public transportation. Nearly 20 million people celebrated Diwali in the city, marking a comeback of daily life on track without precaution.
As Delhi COVID-19 is going through the third wave, in a live broadcast, CM Kejriwal requested everyone to wear masks and adhere to social distancing as there was a warning of the cases to increase.
Pollution hits severe zones:
New Delhi’s low air quality seems to have added to the spread of the virus. The city has a history of pollution, and doctors have warned weakening of the inner lining of the lungs, which will help the COVID-19 to spread.
Past few weeks recorded Delhi’s air quality index between 12 to 14, which is beyond the safety level of WHO. Delhi’s pollution levels have worsened over the months as coolers temperatures have set in. The stubble-burning in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana and a decreased wind speed has also added to the pollution levels in the state and turned it into a gas chamber.
According to Health Minister Satyendra Jain, the peak of Delhi’s COVID-19 third wave has passed. He says that the first wave was in June and the second wave was in September. He added that with the increase in the positivity rate, Delhi had entered the third wave of the COVID- 19 pandemic.
Presently, positive rate sees a downfall to 8.5 per cent.
Measures Taken by Delhi Government:
Considering the current COVID-19 situation, the Delhi Government has increased the penalty for not wearing masks from Rs 500 to Rs 2000. The number of guests allowed at wedding events has reduced to 50.
Mr Kejriwal mentions that lockdown is not the ultimate solution because it just delays the spread of the virus. Private hospitals have also been directed to increase the percentage of non- ICU beds from 50 per cent to 60 per cent. Arrangements are also being made for 1,400 ICU beds, including 663 in Delhi government hospitals and 750 in the central government facility.
Hospitals have also been asked to postpone the non-critical planned surgeries, for the time being, he added. The government said that there would be an increase in the number of RT- PCR tests to 27,000 a day and MBBS students and interns will engage in tackling the COVID- 19 situations.
Since November, Home Ministry has sent a large number of doctors, paramedics, health experts, equipment, ICU beds, testing facilities to Delhi government. Regular Meetings have been conducted and coordinated between Delhi CM and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
The Union health ministry on November 19, told that Delhi accounted for 22.39 per cent of the fatalities reported across the country in 24 hours, making it the largest contributor of single day COVID- 19 deaths in India. Even in terms of new available day cases, Delhi has reported the highest number, followed by Kerala and Maharashtra.
According to Mr Kejriwal, he received assurance for cooperation from various political parties at an all-party meeting, on the present situation of Delhi. He also praised the doctors and the government employees for their COVID- 19 management in Delhi.
India has been amongst the worst-hit countries during the pandemic, but significant younger population and higher recovery rate, have reduced worst of worst situation. Delhi aches in triple burden from rising protests, deadly COVID-19 and severe pollution. As directed by the High court, the AAP government needs to act faster before the Delhi COVID-19 situation worsens.
Hypocrisy of Federalism: Reply on Oxygen Related Deaths
On Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry reported to the Parliament that no deaths were recorded due to a lack of oxygen across the country during the second wave of the pandemic.
The officials and ministers in eight states also denied fatalities due to the lack of oxygen. Whereas reports indicate that approximately 320 patients may have died in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to oxygen shortage.
The report by the Union Health Ministry to the Parliament has triggered massive criticism across the country. It has also prompted some significant accusations against the Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP].
The denial of the officials and ministers of the eight states regarding the same has also triggered a major rebuttal from within their parties, accusing them of aiding the Centre in hiding oxygen-related deaths.
According to a volunteer-driven data collation effort, DataMeet, Media from across 20 states report that there were approximately 619 deaths recorded due to lack of oxygen. However, later the cause of deaths was disputed with other factors that attributed to the fatalities.
The state health minister of Maharashtra, Rajesh Tope also sided with the Centre’s stand of no-oxygen-related deaths.
“As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we have never said that any death due to oxygen shortage,” he said to a local TV channel on Wednesday.
However, in April and May, the shortage of oxygen supply in the state had prompted the Chief Minister, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, to request the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to inspect the proposal of pressing the Indian Air Force to arrange additional oxygen supplies for the state.
A medical board in Hisar- a region in Haryana, had openly established oxygen shortage as a cause of deaths in the region.
Additionally, after an inquiry, 22 patients succumbed to Covid due to the lack of oxygen in Haryana.
According to the reports of DataMeet, figures indicated that approximately 68 deaths took place across the state of Madhya Pradesh due to lack of oxygen.
However, Vishwas Sarang, the medical education Minister, stated, “We received at least 10-12 complaints related to deaths due to oxygen supply disruption. Medical experts found the cause of death was other medical complications, not hypoxia,”
In Goa, between May 10- May 14, approximately 83 patients succumbed to death.
But according to Dr Shivanand Bandekar, the Dean of Goa Medical College and Hospital stated, “We can’t put this as a direct answer. People who come to GMC, they are all referred because we are a tertiary (care) center where criticality is high and most of the patients die because of Covid pneumonia where oxygen is a part of the treatment. So we cannot directly say this (disruption in the oxygen supply) is the reason why they have died,”
However, during the hearing at Goa at the time of these deaths, the state government had admitted that “some of the casualties may have taken place” due to supply disruption.
Within the same hearing, the Bombay High Court had said, “We have long passed the stage of determining whether patients are suffering from the lack of oxygen or not. The material placed before us establishes that patients are indeed suffering and even in some cases succumbing for want of the supply of oxygen, in the State of Goa.”
Officials and ministers of several states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh took a similar stand while siding with the Centre on their “no deaths due to Oxygen shortage” statement.
Even though various reports and data reflect a significant number of deaths due to a shortage of oxygen supply within different states, the Center and the state officials have refused to acknowledge them and have denied that these fatalities are attributed to the lack of oxygen supply.
Health Activist Amulya Nidhi from Madhya Pradesh, claims that volunteer groups from across the country have clear case studies and data that report deaths of patients across various states due to a lack of oxygen supply. “If they are so sure about it, they should allow an independent team of experts to probe the matter,” he said.
Why Are people Not Taking Covid Vaccine?
Since the beginning of the Pandemic in 2020, all people have wanted is to find a way back to normal. A way from virtual lives to real, social lives. Being trapped at home with limited movement has been fun for no one. And yet, when a solution is finally being offered, people are hesitant to embrace it. Vaccines are the solution to once and for all immunise us against this virus, but many people fail to embrace the cure. Even though the vaccination reduces risks in exposure to the mutating variants of the Novel Coronavirus, there are people reluctant to take the possibly life-saving shot.
A vaccine race began throughout the world to curb the spread of Covid, India being one of the leaders. Immunisation is proven to be the most successful means to prevent diseases. Still, there is always hesitance that follows with the process. Many reasons cause vaccine hesitancy, but three of the main reasons are inadequate knowledge and fear of side effects, the speed of vaccine development, and rumours and myths.
The biggest fear that prevents people from taking the vaccine is a fear of side effects caused by inadequate knowledge. Many of us might show reluctance in taking the vaccine, fearing the severity of side effects. This tends to happen because most people do not understand how a vaccine works and nudges our bodies to create antibodies in our system to immunise us to the virus.
Many people reason that the side effects make them sick when they have been in perfect health for so long. They believe that it is the vaccine that makes them sick. This cannot be further from the truth. The public needs to be made aware of the workings of the vaccine to promote the vaccination drive around the world.
The other cause for hesitancy is the speed at which the vaccines have been developed. Many people believe that simply because the development speed of Covid immunising shots was quicker as compared to past viruses, corners have been cut in the process. It is essential to know that this is not true as all the procedures have been followed during the development of vaccines. None of them have been permitted for distribution without clinical trials and the approval of the FDA.
The last reason is that of rumours and myths. The rural population, a key demographic in our country, is reluctant to take the vaccine due to a lack of information provided to them. The inadequacy makes them quick to believe in rumours and myths surrounding immunisation, consequently making them reluctant to participate in the process. Reports of death post the vaccine have fanned the rumour mills in rural areas regarding the fatality of the vaccine.
Hesitancy in vaccination can also be seen in another key demographic, women. The proof for this in India is the disparity in men’s vaccination ratios which are starkly contrasting. Rumours and myths surrounding vaccines have led the population to believe that taking the jab affects fertility in women. It is essential to know that vaccinations do not cause infertility in men or women. It is this kind of rumour-mongering that causes fear in people.
Misleading tweets by prominent figures also cause vaccine hesitancy. One prime example is senior advocate Prashant Bushan, whose tweets about the efficacy and safety of covid vaccines were tagged as “misleading” by Twitter.
Misinformation being spread by prominent people is another cause of reluctance in people not taking the vaccine, which must be stopped to defeat the Pandemic.
Many people who have already suffered from Coronavirus also believe that they do not need the vaccine as they are already immune to the disease. This is a falsehood that needs to be cleared as a vaccine prolongs the effectiveness of the immunisation, keeping the person safe for a more extended period.
Vaccines are preventative medicines that allow us to acquire immunity against the virus, preparing our bodies to protect us in case of exposure to the disease. While vaccination may not provide complete safety, it reduces the severity of the infection and the chances of death.
With newer and stronger variants emerging as mutations of the Coronavirus, all of us must be fully vaccinated. It is the only way to ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us. It is also the only way to make a return slowly but surely to what we knew as “normal” and stop living life as we have known for the past one and a half years.
"No one from govt has come to visit us or order an enquiry into my wife's death.I still curse myself for persuading my wife to take the vaccine.I thought it would save us from the virus, but it killed her".
The govt is not monitoring adverse events from vaccine nor releasing data pic.twitter.com/pcJv9cqUYW
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) June 28, 2021
ZyCov-D Proposed As World’s First DNA COVID Vaccine
With the Delta Variant setting its wave globally, ZyCoV-D, India’s first Plasmid DNA Covid-19 vaccine, is in the running for an Emergency Use Authorization from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Vaccine maker Zydus Cadila, which already has anti-Covid treatments on the market, claims to have conducted the largest clinical trial in India so far at over 50 centres, with over 28,000 volunteers ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old.
According to the firm, with its 66.6 per cent effectiveness for RT-PCR positive patients in the interim study, ZyCov-D has already demonstrated solid immunogenicity, tolerance, and safety profile. It went on to say that no moderate instances of Covid-19 were seen in the vaccination arm after the third dose was administered, indicating a 100 per cent effectiveness for mild illness.
What is Zydus’ approach?
By mid-August, the business intended to be manufacturing 10 million doses each month, according to managing director Sharvil Patel. “We are currently only focusing our efforts on making sure we can make doses available for India,” Patel said in a virtual news conference. If the injection is approved, it will become the country’s sixth vaccination to be approved for use.
Patel added that data on immunogenicity for the adolescent children subgroup would be submitted in the next four to six weeks.
The pharmaceutical company has also provided data on a two-dose regimen for the injection.
What are DNA vaccines?
ZyCoV-D, if authorized, will be the world’s first DNA vaccine, according to Zydus, since it uses a piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s genetic code – DNA or RNA – to trigger an immune response against the virus’s spike protein.
How are DNA vaccines Different from mRNA vaccines?
In contrast to the viral vector vaccines or inactivated vaccines like Covishield and Covaxin, DNA and RNA vaccines trigger an immune response by using a portion of the virus’s genes.
The distinction between DNA and RNA vaccinations is that the latter is passed on to a different molecule known as messenger RNA. The DNA vaccination also uses a tiny electrical pulse to convey the message to the cell.
DNA and RNA vaccines are less expensive than standard protein vaccinations. They are praised for their efficacy and capacity to be produced more quickly. Because DNA and RNA vaccines rely on genetic code rather than a live virus or bacterium. They may theoretically be made more widely available.
According to research published in the medical journal Frontiers in Immunology in 2019, “preclinical andclinical trials have shown that mRNA vaccines provide a safe and long-lasting immune response inanimal models and humans.”
According to WHO, DNA vaccines have a variety of potential advantages over traditional methods, including activation of both B and T cell responses and improved vaccine durability.
Is ZyCov-D needle-free?
A needle-free injectable method is reported to be used to deliver ZyCoV-D. (NFIS). In most NFISs, a jet of fluid is accelerated to a high enough speed to penetrate the skin through a tiny diameter nozzle. The vaccination may have a greater acceptance rate among youngsters who are afraid of needles, according to Sharvil Patel, managing director of Cadila Healthcare.
The three doses of Zycov-D should be given on days 0, 28, and 56, according to Zydus Cadila. The firm is, however, working on a two-dose vaccination.
According to the company’s information, the vaccine candidate may be stored for a long time at two to eight degrees Celsius and for a brief time at 25 degrees Celsius.
What does the Government have to say about the indemnity of the Vaccine?
The Government is still deliberating whether vaccine makers should be indemnified, as Pfizer and Moderna have asked. While a final decision is still pending, key authorities have stated that there is agreement.
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