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Dexamethasone: Is This Cheap Steroid A Breakthrough For COVID-19 Treatment?

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Dexamethasone: Is This Cheap Steroid A Breakthrough For COVID-19 Treatment?

The generic steroid, Dexamethasone, which is usually administered in low doses is the next drug on the list of several being used in clinical trials to find a vaccine or cure for COVID-19 which has caused over 4.8 lakh deaths worldwide. A commonly used anti-inflammatory drug for the treatment of diseases like arthritis, dexamethasone has shown to reduce one-third of the mortality rate for patients on ventilator support and one-fifth of the rate for patients requiring oxygen.

The information regarding the success of the drug in the case of severely affected patients gathered through one of the several RECOVERY (Randomized Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy) trials conducted by Oxford University, was declared in a press release on June 16.

On June 17, the United Kingdom (UK) Government approved the usage of the steroid to treat those severely affected by the virus and the Department of Health approved its usage.

How effective is Dexamethasone in treating COVID-19 patients?

Dexamethasone is a medical drug that falls under the family of corticosteroids which imitate the human hormone, cortisol. It is used to treat inflammation or damage in the body, commonly caused due to a dysfunctional immune system. The drug is capable of healing kidney, lung, or eye inflammation and treat diseases like arthritis or lupus.

A generic medicine that is cost-effective, Dexamethasone is a significant breakthrough in the lookout for a cure for the coronavirus. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is effective only in some instances where the virus has severely inflamed a patient’s lungs, or the patient is dependent on ventilators or external supply of oxygen. It is not advised for patients suffering from a milder affliction of the virus as it could lead to harmful side-effects.

According to a news report in Business Today, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at WHO, said that while the results are significant enough to change WHO guidelines, several other trials are going on as well. Since this was just a press release, and the actual data is expected to come later this month, information from all the trials will be gathered and put together before making significant changes to the guidelines.

The report further stated that the effectiveness of the drug was not a surprise to Indian doctors as a few of them were already prescribing it to their patients.

“It is a very commonly used drug, inexpensive too, and is probably being used by the doctors in a different part of the world on critically ill patients. What makes a difference now is that you have the evidence that it affects,” confirmed Dr Swaminathan to Business Today.

Other Drugs on Trial

As Dr Swaminathan had mentioned, there are at least another ten undergoing trial under RECOVERY, with medical researchers trying several other authorized drugs commonly used to treat other infections on COVID-19 patients.

The human-challenge method, where people volunteer to willingly be infected with the coronavirus and be part of a trial testing for a new vaccine, is being carried out by 1DaySooner. It is a group that works on behalf of the people supporting the controversial method of research.

Over thousands of people have lined up for such trials, which are useful in countries where the number of diseased people has gone down, making it difficult to test on patients. Most of the volunteers are from countries like Brazil that have been severely affected by the disease.

Some of the repurposed vaccines used in the trials are the polio vaccine and the Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN), which is used to treat tuberculosis. Several studies point towards previously used vaccines being effective against newer viruses and Indian doctors and researchers also feel this is one of the safest ways to find an immediate cure to the coronavirus.

In a recent Hindustan Times report, Hydroxychloroquine, the malaria vaccine, which was advocated by the US President Donald Trump and previously declared ineffective in stopping deaths by WHO might be useful in preventing the infection, according to Dr Swaminathan. She also mentions that whether the drug has a role in decreasing the severity of the illness in early stages or whether it can be used to prevent its onset is still unclear.

Remdesivir, another drug that has been approved for ‘restricted emergency use’ by the Drug Controller General of India for severely affected patients- relying on oxygen support. Remdesivir is an anti-viral therapy created by Gilead Sciences, which holds the patent. The company received permission to market and import the drug in India and has already got requests from Six pharmaceutical companies to manufacture it in the country.

Dexamethasone in the Indian market

Dexamethasone, which is on the WHO’s essential list, is a common drug manufactured and exported by Indian Companies. The market leader is Zydus Cadila, who owns 83 per cent of the market share, followed by Wockhardt, Sun Pharma, Cipla, and Glenmark, among others. There are said to be at least 20 established brands selling the drug in India, in both tablet and injection forms.

In tablet form, it is available for a cost of less than Rs 3 per a strip of ten tablets. The injections cost around Rs 10 for a dose of 2 ml. It is also readily available and listed in online pharmacy sites like Netmeds.

A freelance writer and journalist-in-the-making who is currently pursuing her Master's in Communication and Media Studies

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Escalation Of COVID-19 Cases Across The Globe

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COVID Case Spike 2021 | News Aur Chai

The United States, India, and Brazil have the most confirmed cases, followed by France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. There are very few locations that have remained undisturbed.

Since the middle of last year, confirmed cases have been increasing. Although the actual scope of the first outbreaks in 2020 is unknown because testing was not generally available at the time. The 100 million COVID-19 cases were discovered at the end of January, over a year after it was first diagnosed. As of 6:30 p.m. CEST on July 30, 2021, WHO has received reports of 196,553,009 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 4,200,412 fatalities. A total of 3,839,816,037 vaccination doses has been delivered as of July 28, 2021.

After reaching a record high of over 0.9 million cases on April 28, 2021, new daily instances of the coronavirus continued to decline, reaching a low point on June 21, when over 0.3 million cases were reported. Since then yet, there has been a global increase in cases. On July 15, 0.53 million daily cases were reported, and over three million new cases were reported in the second week of the month. As of July 15, 188.9 million patients have been recorded worldwide. The transmissive Delta form accounting for most infections in 111 countries. Most instances were recorded in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and Colombia in the last week. With the steepest increases in Zimbabwe (72%), Indonesia (44%), the United States (38%), Bangladesh (35%), and the United Kingdom (30%). Many Asian nations, including Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan, have reported many daily cases. However, the spread was under control.

The number of new cases in Indonesia has been on the rise, with each day seeing a significant increase over the previous day. Indonesia is now the new Asian epicentre, with 56,757 cases recorded on July 15; India reported 39,000 patients on the same day. COVID-19 fatalities are high, according to WHO. After decreasing for nine weeks, with the highest increases in Africa and Southeast Asia. COVID-19 fatalities worldwide surpassed four million on July 7. The last million deaths occurred in under 90 days, the lowest time interval for every one million deaths ever recorded.

High vaccination coverage has been shown in the United States and much of Europe to lower fatalities and even hospitalizations. For example, United Kingdom rises in incidence. There has been fewer hospitalizations and deaths over 87% of the adult population, as they are vaccinated with one dose and over 67% with two doses. In the United States, the increase in cases is concentrated in states with low vaccination coverage, with unvaccinated people accounting for most deaths. Over 55% of Americans have received one dosage, and 48% are completely immunized. It shifts the focus back to improving vaccination coverage and achieving global vaccine equality to avoid fatalities and the spread of dangerous strains. Some nations debate a booster dosage. Even though many African countries’ healthcare professionals have not been completely vaccinated, booster injections have begun to be given to patients with weakened immune systems in Israel.

In comparison, booster shots have been ruled out in the United States for the time being. With vaccine shortages reported in many Indian states. Even among the vaccinated, rigorous adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour is the only option to postpone and mitigate the consequences of a third wave.

This spring, India and Latin America have seen a significant drop in new cases in the hardest-hit areas of the world. But the global numbers continue to grow. The Delta variety leads them to well-vaccinated regions such as Western Europe and the United States, low but rising infections. This spring, India and Latin America have seen a significant drop in new cases in the hardest-hit areas of the world. Vaccine doses have been given to over 4 billion individuals globally (52 for every 100 people), yet the discrepancy is striking. More than 80% of the population had at least one shot in some wealthy nations. In contrast, the proportion is as low as 1% in many of the poorest.

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Why Taliban Could Not Control Panjshir Valley In Afghanistan Yet?

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Taliban Panjshir | News Aur Chai

Taliban took over Afghanistan last week, and Panjshir valley in the north is the last hope for the people of Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban.

As it was 25 years ago, there is still a part of Afghanistan that tries to oppose the Taliban; it is the Panjshir valley. The villages that rebelled against the Soviets and Taliban’s, it is now that they’re fighting against the spread of the Islamic Emirate.

Valley Of the Five Lions, also known as Panjshir Valley, is in Northern Afghanistan, 150 kilometers north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush Mountain Range. Due to its location in the Hindu Kush Mountain range, the Panjshir Valley is only accessible through the narrow Panjshir River; this makes it easy for forces defending. Panjshir is also famously known for emeralds. It has been the base of operations for the Taliban since the 1990s. Since it was never under their control, the area has become a key target for the US-led forces.

Around 150,000 people live in the valley, and the majority are Pashtuns. The valley’s ethnic majority is Tajik. The area’s history has made it the base of operations for the Taliban. Panjshir has never been captured by the Taliban during their earlier rule, nor by the soviets. The resistance, therefore, chose to base its operations in the area due to its history.

After the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, a civil war broke out in the country. Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was the most notable anti-Taliban fighter, led a group of militants to fight against the separatists. He was eventually killed by al-Qaeda terrorists in 2001, just two days before the 9/11 attacks.

Following the father’s footsteps, Ahmad Massoud, the son of legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud, declared the start of armed resistance against the Taliban forming in the Panjshir. The Northern Alliance flag has been raised in Panjshir province, confirming the legitimacy of this movement, officially back since 2001. The National Resistance Front (NRF), based out of the Panjshir Valley, led by Ahmad Massoud and the former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh, leading an anti-Taliban Movement.

The Panjshir Valley stands tall against the Taliban under the leadership of Ahmad Masood. Resistance movements have begun with the formation of the Northern Alliance. Bernard Henri Levy, the French philosopher, spoke to Ahmad Massoud on a phone call and quoted saying, “I am the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, and surrender is not part of my vocabulary.” The Resistance has just begun; this is just the beginning.

The Washington Post published an op-ed on Wednesday in which Massoud reiterated his plea for help, asking the United States to supply his military with arms and ammunition. “The United States can still be a great arsenal of democracy” by supporting his fighters, he wrote.

Since President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan, Saleh has declared himself as the interim president. The Taliban has been massing its forces near Panjshir. The Salang highway has been closed. He further tweeted that the militants are avoiding any confrontations with the enemy forces.

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India Takes Rein Of UNSC For August

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UNSC August II News Aur Chai

As per procedure, India received the Presidency of the UN Security Council for August this year. The three major points that the Indian Presidency aims to focus on are maritime security, peacekeeping, and counter-terrorism policies.

What is the UN Security Council?

The security council is a body of the United Nations responsible for international security and peacekeeping. The body settles disputes and identifies unwanted threats and aggressions against member States.

There are 15 Members as a part of the council. They are obligated to abide by the decisions made by the Security Council. Out of these, there are five permanent and ten non-permanent members, India being a part of the newly elected non-permanent contingent.

India is currently serving as President of the UNSC for August and is expected to do so again in 2022. They succeed France who previously presided in July this year. The order of Presidency succession is decided alphabetically. Each member gets a fair chance to preside over the peacekeeping body.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first Indian PM to chair a meeting of the UNSC.

India in UNSC

India has joined the UNSC for the eighth time as a non-permanent member, serving a term of two years. The last time India was on the council as a member was in the year 2011-12, during the Middle East Crisis.

In the August meetings this year, the primary concern is said to be that of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy and mortality. India also aims to bid for a permanent seat on the UNSC and hence a high level of involvement is expected.

India plays an important role in the UNSC as it along with other members of the G-4 (Brazil, Japan, and Germany) are insisting on an expansion in permanent membership for countries. They want the permanent seats to be offered to countries other than the current five that hold the veto power, giving India a chance to display its potential at a global level.

India has previously chaired the counter-terrorism committee at the UNSC and introduced the concept of ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism globally. They also successfully establish the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF).

This time around, India aims at improving maritime security and peacekeeping while returning to the counter-terrorism policies establish worldwide.

India’s efforts as President in August 2021

India is expected to organise three high-level meetings for the three topics that they have decided to focus on (maritime security, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism). A traditional breakfast of PRs was held by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, T S Tirumurti. Along with the normal breakfast, Tirumurti put a display of Indian grains with items exquisitely prepared with those ingredients. A treat of Alphonso mangoes was also included in the breakfast. Tirumurti also presided over all meetings of the UNSC on day one.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a meeting of the UN Council virtually, while external affairs minister, Jaishankar will chair the meetings in person.

S Jaishankar expressed opinions on the opportunity to preside over the UNSC for August via his Tweet, saying that India looks forward to taking over the Presidency of the Global Organisation for the month.

Indian PR Tirumurti also thanked their predecessor France and announced the takeover via his Tweets while expressing his elation on the occasion.

India began their eighth term on January 1 this year. This non-permanent arrangement will span for two years, giving the possibility of another Presidency in late 2022. India has been grateful for its turn in chairing the UNSC and hopes to make decisions and resolutions that will be beneficial to the Indian Foreign Policy and countries around the Globe.

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