New Delhi, Jul 4 (PTI) India's COVID-19 tally neared 6.5 lakh cases on Saturday with a record single-day spike of 22,771 new infections, even as the recovery rate further improved to 60.81 per cent.
The government said several people-centric measures taken as part of the “test, trace, treat” strategy have removed the impediments for COVID-19 testing. Facilitation of widespread testing by states or Union Territories has spurred the number of samples tested every day, the Union health ministry said. During the last 24 hours, 2,42,383 samples have been tested, pushing the cumulative number of tests to 95,40,132.
While the COVID-19 tally climbed to 6,48,315, the death toll rose to 18,655 with 442 new fatalities, according to Union Health Ministry data.
With a steady rise, the number of recoveries stands at 3,94,226 and one patient has migrated. There are 2,35,433 active cases of the novel coronavirus currently in the country, the updated data at 8 am showed.
'Thus, around 60.81 per cent of patients have recovered so far,' an official said.
The total number of confirmed cases also include foreigners.
This was the second consecutive day when coronavirus cases have increased by more than 20,000. There has been a surge of 4,57,780 COVID-19 cases from June 1 till date.
Meanwhile, as experts cautioned against rushing the process for developing a COVID-19 vaccine after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stated it plans to launch one by August 15, the apex health research body stressed that it is acting in accordance with the globally accepted norms to fast-track vaccine development for diseases of pandemic potential.
The ICMR said that the letter by Director General of ICMR Dr Balram Bhargava to principal investigators of the clinical trial sites was meant to cut unnecessary red tape, without bypassing any necessary process, and speed up recruitment of participants.
Bhargava had on July 2 written to principal investigators of select medical institutions and hospitals to fast-track human clinical trial approvals for the vaccine candidate 'Covaxin' being developed in collaboration with Bharat Biotech.
All other vaccine candidates across the globe have been similarly fast-tracked, the ICMR said, adding that the Drugs Controller General of India has accorded permission to conduct phase 1 and 2 (human) clinical trial of 'Covaxin' based on in-depth scrutiny of the available data from pre-clinical studies.
Just as red tape was not allowed to become a hindrance in the fast track approval of new indigenous testing kits or for introducing in the Indian market potential COVID-19 related drugs, the indigenous vaccine development process has also been sought to be insulated from slow file movement, it said.
'The aim is to complete these phases at the earliest, so that population-based trials for efficacy could be initiated without delay,' ICMR said in a statement.
After intense characterisation and review of all data from BBIL, the ICMR said it is supporting the clinical development as the vaccine candidate appears to be promising.
In the larger public health interest, it is important for ICMR to expedite the clinical trials with a promising indigenous vaccine, the statement said.
Faced with the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent dislocation of the normal life, all other vaccine candidates across the globe have been similarly fast-tracked, it said.
The ICMR has identified 12 clinical trial sites, including medical institutions and hospitals, and has asked their principal investigators to ensure that the subject enrolment is initiated no later than July 7.
Of the 442 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, 198 are from Maharashtra, 64 from Tamil Nadu, 59 from Delhi, 21 from Karnataka, 18 each from Gujarat and West Bengal, 14 from Uttar Pradesh, 10 from Rajasthan, eight each from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, five from Punjab, four each from Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, three from Bihar, and two each from Assam and Odisha.
Of the total 18,655 deaths reported so far, Maharashtra accounted for the highest 8,376 fatalities, followed by Delhi with 2,923 deaths, Gujarat with 1,904, Tamil Nadu with 1,385, Uttar Pradesh with 749, West Bengal with 717, Madhya Pradesh with 593, Rajasthan with 440 and Karnataka with 293 deaths.
The COVID-19 death toll reached 283 in Telangana, 255 in Haryana, 206 in Andhra Pradesh, 157 in Punjab, 119 in Jammu and Kashmir, 80 in Bihar, 42 in Uttarakhand, 29 in Odisha and 25 in Kerala.
Jharkhand has registered 15 deaths, Chhattisgarh and Assam 14 each, Puducherry 12, Himachal Pradesh 10, Chandigarh six, Goa four and Meghalaya, Tripura, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh have reported one fatality each, according to the Health Ministry.
More than 70 per cent deaths took place due to comorbidities, it said. PTI PLB ASK ANB ANB