Coronavirus News Updates: COVAXIN is 81% effective, claims Bharat Biotech as India grapples with rising cases

FP Staff
·6-min read

As several states continued to battle with an uptick in coronavirus cases, India reported two major developments on the vaccination front. Firstly, the Centre allowed round-the-clock inoculation at private hospitals to cover more base quickly in a 125-billion strong population. Secondly, the indigenously grown Bharat Biotech's coronavirus vaccine posted interim data from its phase 3 clinical trials, which found it to be 81 percent effective against the novel coronavirus.

Fresh surge continues in six states

Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka continue to report a surge in fresh COVID-19 cases and they account for 85.95 percent of the cases reported in a span of 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday. The ministry said that 14,989 new cases were registered in a span of 24 hours.

Based on the figures released by the Centre on Wednesday morning, Maharashtra reported the highest daily new cases at 7,863, followed by Kerala with 2,938, while Punjab reported 729 new cases.

These figures, however, have changed with the state health departments reporting 9,855 new cases in Maharashtra and 2,765 cases in Kerala in the evening.>

"Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Karnataka have shown the maximum increase in new cases on a week-on-week basis," the ministry had said earlier today.

Maharashtra alone accounted for a weekly increase of 16,012 cases. In percentage terms, Punjab reported a weekly increase of 71.5 percent (1,783 cases).

The Central Government has also rushed high-level teams to Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir to support them in their fight against the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. The three-member teams are headed by joint secretary-level officers in the Health Ministry.

They will ascertain the reasons for the surge and coordinate with state health departments in COVID-19 control and containment measures.

Based on the figures released in the morning, India's total active caseload reached 1,70,126 on Wednesday while the active caseload stands at 1.53 percent of the total positive cases.

Showing the change in active cases for states/UTs in a day, the ministry said that while Kerala, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir show a reduction in the active cases in a span of 24 hours, Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Karnataka and Gujarat display a rise in the active cases during the same period.

Eight States €" Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Karnataka and Haryana €" are displaying an upward trajectory in daily new cases, the ministry highlighted.

More than 1.08 crore people have recovered from the disease so far. As many as 13,123 patients have recovered and got discharged in the last 24 hours. Of the new recovered cases, 86.58 percent are concentrated in six states.

Maharashtra has reported the maximum number of single-day recoveries with 6,332 newly recovered cases. As many as 3,512 people recovered in Kerala in the past 24 hours, followed by 473 in Tamil Nadu. Ninety-eight deaths were reported in a span of 24 hours.

Four states account for 88.78 percent of the new deaths. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (54). Kerala follows with 16 daily deaths and Punjab reported 10 deaths in a span of 24 hours.

Mumbai makes institutional quarantine must for travellers from Brazil

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday announced that a seven-day institutional quarantine will be mandatory for those arriving from Brazil even if they have obtained a COVID-19 negative report prior to the journey.

In a fresh circular, the civic body included Brazil in the list of countries under quarantine rules, citing the latest guidelines of the Union Ministry of Health about international arrivals.

The BMC said this rule will also be applicable to travellers from Maharashtra arriving at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in the city.

Institutional quarantine for seven days and another seven days of home quarantine is already mandatory for persons arriving from the UK, Europe, South Africa and West Asia.

Govt allows 24x7 vaccination at private hospitals

The government has lifted the time restriction on receiving COVID-19 vaccine jabs so as to increase the pace of immunisation, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.

"The government has lifted the time restriction to increase the speed of vaccination. People can now get vaccinated 24x7 according to their convenience. Prime Minister Narendra Modi understands the value of health as well as the time of citizens," Vardhan tweeted in Hindi.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told a press conference on Tuesday that the timeline of vaccinating the beneficiaries from 9 am to 5 pm has been done away with and it is up to the hospitals to decide whether they want to continue administering the vaccines even after that.

Interim analysis shows Covaxin has 81% efficacy

Bharat Biotech, whose COVAXIN vaccine had triggered a row after it was approved for "emergency use" without finishing final-stage testing, claimed its vaccine has an 81 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 based on an interim analysis of phase three clinical trial data.

The first interim analysis, released Wednesday, is based on 43 cases, of which 36 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 7 cases observed in the COVAXIN group, resulting in a point estimate of vaccine efficacy of 80.6 per cent, Bharat Biotech said.

The result is likely to boost prospects of the vaccine's usage.

Covaxin, which was shunned by some health workers due to lack of final trial data, showed efficacy better than the company's previous guidance of around 60 percent.

In a statement, Bharat Biotech Chairman Krishna Ella said Covaxin has "demonstrated high clinical efficacy" as also shown "significant immunogenicity" against rapidly emerging variants.

The drug regulator in January had allowed Covaxin as well as the vaccine made by AstraZeneca's local partner, the Serum Institute of India Ltd. But the lack of final trial data inhibited the use of Covaxin, which made up for only about 11 percent of the more than 1 crore vaccines administered till last week.

Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, had shown an efficacy rate of 70 percent after two full doses. However, one of the regimens with a half dose and a full dose showed 90 percent efficacy against the virus.

The company expects to share further details of the trial results as additional data becomes available, it noted.

An additional interim analysis is planned for 87 cases, and the final analysis is planned for 130 cases, the company said.

All data from the second interim and final analyses will be shared via pre-publication servers as well as submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, it added.

With inputs from PTI

Also See: Coronavirus updates: Maharashtra reports more than 9,000 new COVID-19 cases today; recovery rate now 93.77%

Coronavirus LIVE updates: India logs 17,407 new COVID-19 infections, 89 deaths in a day; active cases over 1.73 lakh

India reports 10,584 new COVID-19 cases, 78 fatalities in a day; tally crosses 1.1 cr

Read more on India by Firstpost.