India's coronavirus case count crossed 50 lakh on Wednesday with 90,123 new cases being reported in the 24 hours since 8 am on Tuesday.
According to the COVID-19 database maintained by the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), India is the second country in the world after the US to have reported over 50 lakh cases. The US has recorded 66,06,674 COVID-19 cases as of 16 September.
Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India (SII), which had paused recruitment of volunteers for the phase 2 and phase 3 trials of the Oxford University's vaccine candidate following reports of adverse reactions to the vaccine in the UK, received the go-ahead from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to resume the trials.
India records 10 lakh cases in 11 days
The total number of coronavirus cases in the country mounted to 50,20,359 on Wednesday, while the toll climbed to 82,066 with a record 1,290 fatalities registered in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry's latest update.
This comes just 11 days after India's caseload surged past 40 lakh.
According to news agency PTI, it took 110 days for the COVID-19 cases in the country to reach one lakh and another 59 days to surpass 10 lakh. The total coronavirus cases jumped from 10 lakh to 20 lakh in 21 days and raced past 30 lakh in another 16 days. It took 13 days more to cross 40 lakh and 11 days to go past 50 lakh.
However, recoveries have also been on a rise and a total of 39,42,360 persons have so far recuperated from the virus. According to the Hindustan Times, India reported its highest daily recoveries on Wednesday with 82,961 having recuperated from the disease.
The recovery rate now stands at 78.53 percent, up from 77.77 percent a week ago (9 September), showed the health ministry's data updated at 8 am. The fatality rate is now at 1.63 percent, the ministry said.
The country now has 9,95,933 active cases of COVID-19, comprising 19.84 percent of the total caseload. As per the ministry's data, Maharashtra has the highest number of active cases (2,92,174) followed by Karnataka (98, 555), Andhra Pradesh (92,353), Uttar Pradesh (67335) and Tamil Nadu (46,806).
Chhattisgarh follows at the sixth position with 35,909 active cases.
According to the Indian Express, Chhattisgarh is currently showing the fastest growth in new cases in the country. The state's case count has doubled since the start of September, the report stated. Chhattisgarh on Tuesday recorded its highest single-day spike of 3,450 coronavirus cases, taking the state's total cases to 70,777,
Of the 1,290 new deaths reported on Wednesday, 515 were from Maharashtra, 216 from Karnataka, 113 from Uttar Pradesh, 90 from Punjab, 69 from Andhra Pradesh, 68 from Tamil Nadu, 59 from West Bengal and 36 from Delhi.
Of the total 82,066 fatalities due to COVID-19, Maharashtra accounts for the highest with 30,049 fatalities followed by Tamil Nadu with 8,502, Karnataka with 7,481, Andhra Pradesh with 5,041, Delhi with 4,806 and Uttar Pradesh with 4,604.
According to the ICMR, a total of 5,94,29,115 samples have been tested till 15 September, of which 11,16,842 samples were tested on Tuesday.
SII gets DCGI nod to resume vaccine trials
Even as the country's coronavirus count continued an upward trend, the Centre on Wednesday said that three potential vaccine candidates against the novel coronavirus infection are in the advanced stage of trials while four are in advanced pre-clinical development stage.
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai informed the Rajya Sabha that 13 clinical trials of repurposed drugs have been also undertaken to build a portfolio of therapeutic options for COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the DCGI allowed SII to resume the phase 2 and 3 trials of the vaccine jointly developed by Oxford University and Swedish firm AstraZeneca but instructed Serum to scrupulously follow additional conditions, including exercising care while screening potential volunteers and providing additional information to them.
The regulator also instructed the Pune-based firm to closely monitor volunteers who receive the shot for any adverse reactions.
The DCGI had on 10 September issued a show-cause notice to the Serum Institute of India, which had chosen no to halt the clinical trials in India even though trials had reportedly been paused in various countries like US, Brazil and South Africa. The countries had halted the trials after the Swedish firm had reported an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers in the UK.
Russia strikes deal with Dr Reddy's Laboratoeis to distribute 100 million doses of Sputnik V
In another development on the vaccine front, Russia has entered into an agreement with drug company Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd to to distribute 100 million doses of the Russia's experimental Sputnik V vaccine in India.
" Russia in India (@RusEmbIndia) September 16, 2020
Press secretary Arseniy Palagin told news agency The Asociated Press that the 100 million doses of the experimental vaccine were meant for "population-wide use" as long as they met regulatory requirements and clinical trials were successful.
According to the Indian Express, the Hyderabad-based company will also help conduct the final-stage human trials of the vaccine in India.
"The Phase 1 and 2 results have shown promise, and we will be conducting Phase-3 trials in India to meet the requirements of the Indian regulators. Sputnik V vaccine could provide a credible option in our fight against COVID-19 in India," DRL Co-Chairman and Managing Director GV Prasad told the Indian Express.
Palagin also said that the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) was in talks with several other Indian companies for manufacturing the vaccine.
Last week, Dr VK Paul, NITI Aayog member who also heads the national task force on COVID-19 vaccines, had said that India was considering Russia's requests for conducting the phase three trials in India and that an agreement will be "good for both the countries."
The coronavirus pandemic, which began in China's Wuhan last year, has claimed 9,35,898 lives and affected 2,96,10,479 people across the globe, according to the JHU's coronavirus tracker.
With inputs from agencies