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Covid may remain like common cold: Dr. Nageshwar Reddy


Eminent physician Dr. D. Nageshwar Reddy on Friday hoped that by next year, life will come back to normal and while Covid-19 may remain, it will become like a common cold.

The chairman and Founder of AIG Hospitals said that while doctors see death every day, what they saw during the pandemic was different as in some cases, and entire families were wiped out.

The leading gastroenterologist recalled doctors themselves did not know how to deal with it. “We were frightened. It was like a soldier going to war without weapons. To add to it, WHO predictions were like our weather predictions,” he said.

Dr. Reddy, whose hospital treated 30,000 Covid patients in the last two years, said they found from the experience that mask and social distance were more important than hand hygiene. He called for making public health accessible and economical.

He was speaking at Public Health Innovations Conclave Expo 2021, an exclusive expo on public health which began on Friday.

The expo features innovation, technology and best practices in public health to deal with ‘Life after pandemic’.

Organized by Hitext in association with the Infection Control Academy of India (IFCAI), the expo has 75 stalls.

World Health Organisation (WHO) technical officer Dr. Anuj Sharma said life after the pandemic was still unpredictable.

“Initially, our recommendations went wrong. But WHO doesn’t make any recommendations on its own. We do so based on the recommendations by the experts. When something is new and evolving chances of errors are there,” he said.

Dr. Ranga Reddy Burri, President of Infection Control Academy of India said that every crisis provides significant learning and an opportunity.

He said Covid-19 also provided us with the opportunity to discover new innovative approaches for healthcare delivery to promote accessibility, availability, and affordability of quality care.

Dr. K. Shankar, Director of Preventive Medicine, Government of Telangana, said all government hospitals in Telangana are equipped with oxygen pipelines.

Vaccines will not protect from the virus but protect from death. By 2022 January, we will have a normal life, he said.

Dr. GVS Murthy, Director of the Indian Institute of Public Health revealed that when he was asked to remove mask and speak at the 1st PHIC Conclave last year he was hesitant. “Today, I can remove my mask and speak. That is the change from last year to this year. Public health needs incubation time. Smallpox and Polio took some time to disappear. Covid also needs such time,” he said.

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With Molnupiravir, India to get affordable weapon against Covid


With six Indian pharma companies working to manufacture antiviral pill Molnupiravir, healthcare experts say the game-changing drug will give India an effective and affordable weapon against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The oral drug, which is likely to get Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) in India in the coming weeks, is expected to help the country fight future waves, if any.

Molnupiravir, developed by global pharma major Merck, inhibits replication of multiple RNA viruses including SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of Covid-19. It is reported to have potential to completely eliminate SARS CoV-2 from the body within 5 days.

Earlier this month, the drug regulator in the UK gave approval to the pill, which will be given twice a day to vulnerable patients recently diagnosed with Covid-19.

It was in June that five major pharma companies announced collaboration for the clinical trials of Molnupiravir for the treatment of mild Covid-19 in an outpatient setting in India. It was the first such collaboration in the Indian pharma industry.

Hetero Pharma also has a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Merck to manufacture and supply Molnupiravir in India and over 100 low and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Hetero announced in July the interim clinical results from Phase 3 clinical trials of Molnupiravir in mild Covid-19 patients conducted across multiple Covid-dedicated hospital sites across India.

According to the company, the trials demonstrated statistically significant fewer hospital admissions, faster time to clinical improvement, and early negative SARS CoV-2 RT-PCR results with Molnupiravir treatment in mild Covid-19 patients compared to Standard of Care alone.

While the India companies remained tight-lipped about the current status of the trials, experts expect the rollout early next year.

“Six Indian companies have the license to manufacture the generic Molnupiravir. It provides a great opportunity for global supplies. India will have another affordable and convenient weapon in addition to vaccines to fight future waves if any,” distinguished cardiologist and health systems expert Dr Krishna Reddy Nallamalla told IANS.

He believes Molnupiravir may emerge as the game changer in the fight against Covid as the studies show it can reduce the risk of hospitalisation or death in newly-diagnosed patients.

Dr Reddy who is the president of InOrder, a nonprofit institute working to strengthen systems to secure health and also regional director (South Asia) of global health nonprofit, ACCESS Health International, said Molnupiravir as an effective oral drug for treatment of Covid-19 assumes significance at a time when the world continues to witness daily positive cases of half a million despite the development of vaccines, which are not as effective against the spread of the virus and which lower efficacy against certain variants.

Dr K. Shivaraju, head, internal medicine, KIMS Hospitals, Hyderabad, points out that the oral drug has the potential to change the course of treatment by replacing Remdesivir. Unlike Remdesivir, Molnupiravir will not only be more effective but will be affordable.

While Remdesivir is injectable and has to be given to patients in hospitals, Molnupiravir is an oral pill which can be given in an outpatient setting.

According to him, the most significant outcome of the development will be the drop in the cost of treatment. “The cost of each vial of Remdesivir is very high and compared to this the cost of the oral drug will be low and its efficacy is also good enough,” he said.

Shivaraju also pointed out that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there is no evidence that Remdesivir improves survival among Covid patients.

“The results (of Molnupiravir) are encouraging. We have been discussing this for the last six months or a year. We did not have a choice then. Remdesivir had to be given. Definitely Molnupiravir should be effective and useful. The most important aspect is that the cost will come down for the patient,” he said.

Shivaraju said effectiveness of any anti-viral drug will be better when double-blind randomised clinical trials are conducted with participation of over 1,000 patients.

“From a medical point of view, double-blind randomised trials will have lot of significance. It gives a boost that this drug can be given to patients without much discomfort,” he added.

Hetero had commenced a phase 3, comparative, randomised, multi-centre clinical trial on 1,218 mild Covid-19 patients. These clinical trials were aimed at evaluating the efficacy and safety of Molnupiravir plus standard of care (test arm) versus standard of care alone (control arm), in mild Covid-19 patients with a positive SARS CoV-2 RT PCR test for Covid-19 and randomised within 5 days of onset of symptoms.

Patients in the clinical trial were randomised to receive either Hetero’s Molnupiravir capsules 800 mg (4 x 200 mg) every 12 hours (twice daily) for 5 days along with standard of care as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines or, in the control arm, to receive standard of care alone.

The company said the interim results from 741 mild Covid-19 patients revealed encouraging outcomes.

Under the licensing deal with Merc, Hetero will be allowed to expand access of Molnupiravir in India and in other low-and middle-income countries, following the approvals for emergency use authorisation by local regulatory agencies.

“We are vertically integrated to manufacture and commercially ready to supply this product to patients swiftly across the country,” Dr B. Partha Saradhi Reddy, Chairman, Hetero Group of Companies had said.

Molnupiravir will be manufactured in Hetero’s world-class formulation facility in Hyderabad, which has been approved by stringent global regulatory authorities such as USFDA and EU, among others.

Cipla Ltd, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, and Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd announced the collaboration to conduct clinical trials in June. This was the first such collaboration for a clinical trial within the Indian pharma industry.

Between March and April this year, these five pharma companies individually entered into a non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreement with Merck to manufacture and supply Molnupiravir to India and over 100 low and middle-income countries.

Under the collaboration agreement, the five pharma companies will jointly sponsor, supervise and monitor the clinical trials in India.

As per the directive of the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, Dr Reddy’s will conduct the clinical trial using its product, and the other four pharma companies will be required to demonstrate equivalence of their product to the product used by Dr Reddy’s in its clinical trial.

The trials were expected between June and September across India with the recruitment of 1,200 patients.

On successful completion of the clinical trial, each company will independently approach the regulatory authorities for approval to manufacture and supply Molnupiravir.

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Covid saves TRS in Assembly!


Covid-19 pandemic might have caused severe hardships to all since March 2020 due to lockdowns and economic crisis. It has not spared any individual, any state, any country or any government.

But for the TRS government in Telangana, Covid came as a blessing in disguise. TRS is coming under attack from all opposition parties in the ongoing session of Legislative Assembly for its failure to release funds, for failure to complete pending works of roads, buildings, infrastructure etc.

However, the TRS is countering opposition parties with Covid. For every criticism, the TRS is putting the blame on Covid saying that due to Covid it could not release funds to various welfare schemes and development programmes and due to Covid it could not complete pending works.

Strangely, for arrears of schemes and projects that are prevailing as long as since formation of Telangana in 2014, the TRS is blaming Covid conveniently ignoring the fact that outbreak of Covid was witnessed in March 2020 and not in 2014.

Opposition parties are strongly raising objections at TRS trying to escape from all its responsibilities and trying to cover up all its failures in the Covid.

They said lakhs of students in Telangana are awaiting arrears of fee reimbursement and scholarships since 2018 and question how Covid would be held responsible for arrears in 2018.

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T’gana partners with IIT-Hyd’s VoW for Covid inoculation in remote areas


Aiming to complete vaccination of all marginalised sections in the state, the Telangana government has partnered with IIT-Hyderabad start-up VaccineOnWheels. Under the arrangement 50 mobile vaccination clinics will reach out to those who are in the periphery zone.

VaccineOnWheels creates hospital-like sterile setups near communities to provide vaccination services.

Community based Mobile Vaccination Clinic will help India in achieving higher immunization penetration by getting faster acceptance towards vaccination, giving higher convenience with reduced cost of seeking service with zero travel cost, zero travel time, lost wages, and many more, an IITH statement said.

Centre for Healthcare Entrepreneurship, IITHyderabad’s incubated startup, VaccineOnWheels had introduced India’s first Doctor-based Mobile Vaccination Clinic in 2019, in association with IITH, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and CfHE.

To reduce inequality and increase immunization penetration, VaccineOnWheels takes vaccination facility near to the community, giving higher convenience while ensuring access to all economic strata.

Prof B. Murty, Director IIT Hyderabad, said, “The innovative and first-of-its-kind approach by VaccineOnWheels to vaccinate India’s “unreached population” is need of the hour for both Covid-19 & Non-Covid-19 vaccination. VaccineOnWheels and team have already saved more than two lakh lives and will indeed save millions in the coming months.”

Under the unique PPP, vaccination is administered free of cost for beneficiaries with vaccines provided by Government and vaccination is administered by VaccinOnWheels.

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Special drive launched to make Hyderabad 100% vaccinated


A special mop-up vaccination drive was launched in Greater Hyderabad on Monday to administer Covid-19 vaccines to all the people left over.

On the first day of the 10-day drive, 26,892 people were vaccinated in the limits of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had directed the authorities to undertake the drive in all 4,846 colonies and slum areas in Hyderabad to make it a fully vaccinated city.

Officials presented appreciation certificates to 264 colonies which have become 100 per cent vaccinated.

On the first day, 175 teams conducted special camps in 448 colonies. According to officials, 23,651 people took the first dose while 3,241 people were given the second dose in the drive undertaken by the GHMC with mobile vans.

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, Health Secretary S.A.M. Rizvi, GHMC Commissioner Lokesh Kumar, District Collectors of Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, and Medchal Malkajgiri districts, and other senior officials supervised the drive.

The Chief Secretary visited a vaccination centre at the Old CIB quarters in Khairatabad to oversee the arrangements made for the special vaccination drive.

During this special drive, a team would visit each and every household and identify those who have not been vaccinated. The team will motivate the people to get vaccinated and they will be informed of the vaccination centre in their area together with date and time in advance. A sticker will be pasted on the door of every household in which all residents have been vaccinated.

Somesh Kumar said that the main objective of this special mop-up vaccination drive is to make Hyderabad a 100 percent Covid vaccinated city. An event will be held in the colony after successful completion of the vaccination drive in the presence of colony office bearers to encourage and motivate the colonies to go for 100 per cent vaccination.

He congratulated the GHMC and health officials for taking up the special vaccination and asked them to make it a success. He also appealed to the people to utilize the opportunity provided by the government and get themselves vaccinated.

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Covid second wave ended in Telangana, says official


Covid-19’s second wave has come to an end in Telangana and this is the time to reopen educational institutions in the state, a senior health official said on Wednesday.

Director, Public Health and Family Welfare, Dr. G. Srinivasa Rao told reporters that Covid pandemic is under control in all the districts.

He said that this is the time to reopen schools, colleges and universities in the state. Only vaccinated teachers and staff will be allowed, he added.

Rao said they would ensure that Covid-19 tests are conducted regularly.

He said Covid R-factor in the state is 0.7 per cent, and there are more number of people in hospitals with post-Covid complications.

Pointing out that 1.65 crore doses of Covid vaccines have been administered in the state, he said 56 per cent of the people received the first dose at least while 34 per cent have received both the doses.

Rao also revealed that 90 per cent of the beneficiaries in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area have received at least the first dose.

He said the Health Department was taking all steps to check the spread of seasonal diseases. Anti-larva measures were being taken to in coordination with some other departments.

Some districts were recording large number of malaria cases. Dengue cases were reported in Hyderabad, Khammam, Rangareddy, Bhadradri Kothagudem, and other districts. A total of 1,200 dengue cases were reported from across the state.

Hyderabad has reported the maximum number of cases (447), followed by 128 in Khammam, 114 in Rangareddy, 89 in Medchal Malkajgiri, 69 in Adilabad, 49 in Kothagudem, 39 in Nizamabad, and 30 in Nirmal.

He said malaria and dengue fever cases were reported from 13 districts and the department was closely monitoring the situation.

The officials said 20 Telangana diagnostic centres were conducting 1,500 tests a day for dengue.

He appealed to people not to treat all fever cases as Covid-19 cases. He suggested that people having fever immediately undergo the diagnostic tests. He said in case of symptoms like fever, diarrhoea and dizziness, people should approach the hospitals. He also urged them to avoid self-medication.

For the treatment of dengue, 24 platelet extraction machines were kept ready. Fever clinics have been set up in major hospitals.

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Unpredictable Third Wave puzzles Tollywood


After the restrictions are lifted in the country, the film industry reopened and the shoots are happening at a fast pace. Almost all the actors resumed the shoots of their upcoming projects. But there is no clarity about the reopening of the theatres though the governments of the Telugu states granted permission to screen films. A series of discussions are currently happening in Hyderabad between the producers and the distributors. Top producers of Telugu cinema met recently about the same. Some more meetings are planned this week.

What’s worrying so much is the third wave of coronavirus after the experts predicted that it may hit the country by the mid of August. Some of the distributors and exhibitors are not in a mood to reopen the theatres if there is a possible third wave. Screening films at this time will leave the makers in huge losses. Some of them say that the audience will not rush to theatres during these tense situations. The second wave of pandemic too is yet to calm down completely. For now, the discussions are going on and things will be finalized before this weekend.

Some of the filmmakers are keen to release the completed films as the interests are heaping up. More details awaited.

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AP records 2,930 more Covid infections, tally 18.9 lakh


Andhra Pradesh on Saturday logged 2,930 new Covid cases, pushing the state’s overall tally beyond 18.9 lakh, even as its active caseload dropped to 35,871.

As many as 4,346 persons recovered from the disease in the past 24 hours, raising the state’s total number of recoveries over 18.5 lakh.

East Godavari district reported the highest number of cases at 591, followed by Chittoor (443), Prakasam (363), West Godavari (338), Guntur (236), Krishna (204), Nellore (185), Kurnool (119), Kadapa (117), Srikakulam (105), Anantapur (100), Visakhapatnam (70) and Vizianagaram (59).

Except for Vizianagaram, all the other districts of Andhra Pradesh have now reported more than 1 lakh Covid cases, though Vizianagaram is also drawing closer towards that mark, just shy of 20,000 cases.

East Godavari tops the chart with more than 2.6 lakh cases, followed by Chittoor with 2.2 lakh cases.

Meanwhile, 36 more persons succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the state’s overall Covid death toll to 12,815.

With 90,532 more tests conducted in the past 24 hours, the total number of tests carried out in Andhra Pradesh so far has crossed the 2.21 crore-mark.

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Need to fast-track genome sequencing of new coronavirus variants: VP


Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said that there is a need to fast-track genome sequencing of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 to speed up development of suitable vaccines and drugs.

He stressed the need to intensify international collaborations by research institutions and to study feasibility of developing a universal vaccine that can neutralise various variants.

“Specialised research focusing on sequencing would help in timely interventions during the ongoing pandemic. Sequencing, as an adjunctive tool, plays a critical role in identifying the emergence of new viral mutations and thus, helps combat the spread of Covid-19,” he said while addressing scientists at CCMB’s LaCONES (Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species) facility.

“With SARS-CoV-2 mutating frequently, we are seeing the emergence of new variants that are causing faster transmissibility. This is a cause for concern and calls for stepped up efforts from scientists to neutralise its ability to spread rapidly,” he said.

Naidu said the need for genome sequencing of new variants becomes crucial in the light of reports of big cats contracting Covid-19 in a few zoos in the country. Species jump of a virus – from humans to animals or vice versa – can lead to new variants and pose fresh challenges in the ongoing fight against the pandemic, he added.

He opined that LaCones is rightly positioned to make these linkages at both national and international levels, to understand the emergence of infectious diseases, and prevent such pandemics in the future.

He noted that LaCONES is one of the four centres in the country that can test animal samples for Covid-19 infection. It recently released guidelines in collaboration with the Central Zoo Authority and Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change for the zoo frontline workers on Covid-19 investigation for captive animals.

He complimented the CCMB for its contribution to the cause of Covid-19 mitigation that includes the establishment of rapid diagnostics, genome sequencing and surveillance. “Research done at the CCMB has also shown that coronavirus spreads through air and that it can be detected in sewage and wild animals. The easy transmission of this virus poses many challenges, and the way in which it might infect new hosts or other species will be an important area of research. This is where the CCMB can take a lead and shed some valuable light,” he added.

He said that it is now imperative that India pays greater attention to zoonotic diseases that impact both animals and humans. There are many reports that connect climate change to emerging infectious diseases. He hoped the CCMB, the LaCONES, and other research institutes and public health organisations in India would expand their facilities to perform surveillance using rapid genome sequencing platforms.

Naidu also appealed to people to shed vaccine hesitancy and take the required doses of the vaccine. The need of the hour is to create awareness among people that vaccines would provide a high degree of protection and even if infected, the disease will be less severe, he said.

At the same time, people should not lower their guard. Everyone should follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour by avoiding large gatherings, maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and remaining in well-ventilated areas, he added.

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Preparing for 3rd wave, Telangana sets up Covid Command Centre


The Telangana government has set up a state of the art Covid Command Centre as part of its preparedness to fight the potential third wave of the pandemic.

The facility is equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)-based insights on Covid cases, and vaccination data among others.

Information Technology and Industry Ministry K. T. Rama Rao on Friday inaugurated the centre at the Indian Institute of Health and Family Welfare (IIHFW) in Hyderabad.

He stated that the control room would enable the administration in taking complete control of the situation by aggregating and handling all the data related to Covid-19. It will also provide citizens a reliable forum where they can air their apprehensions and seek medical guidance.

The officials briefed the minister about the executive dashboard which can provide an overview of all the key metrics to track.

The facility has data analytics and artificial intelligence driven system which can help the officials in taking decisions regarding all Covid related demand, supply status and optimal allocation mechanisms.

Officials said this control room consist of a command centre, call centre and telemedicine.

Later, the minister also inaugurated the call centre set up in the same premises. Citizens can dial 1905 and get information about all the Covid related services like testing and vaccination centres, ambulance services, hospitalisation requirements etc. He congratulated the service providers and the staff manning the call centre for their support.

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, Principal Secretary Industries Jayesh Ranjan, Health Secretary S.A.M. Rizvi, Secretary Disaster Management Rahul Bojja, IIHFW Director Alugu Varshini and other officials were present on the occasion.

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Indian Cinema worried about the Third wave of coronavirus


The second wave calmed down in the country and the states issued relaxations. Some of the states granted permissions to reopen and screen films in theatres. The shoots of several Indian movies resumed and the shoots are happening at a fast pace. Tollywood is reopened completely and the shoots are happening at a faster pace. But none of the filmmakers are yet to announce the release dates of the completed projects. Several experts are warning of the third wave of coronavirus and there are predictions that the wave may hit the country in October. Several cases of the Delta Plus variant are reported in some of the states of India.

All these are worrying the filmmakers who are in plans to release their completed films at the earliest. As of now, the entire Indian cinema is puzzled about the releases. With the warnings of the third wave, most of the filmmakers will now wait for weeks before announcing the films. There are predictions that some of the completed films may hit the screens during August. The September and October releases will be finalized based on the situation and the third wave of coronavirus. As of now, Indian cinema is scared about the third wave of coronavirus.

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Producer Suresh Babu cheated by man promising Covid vax


Leading Telugu filmmaker D. Suresh Babu has been cheated by a man, who collected Rs 1 lakh from him for promising to arrange Covid-19 vaccination for employees of his production house.

The producer, who is actor Rana’s father, through his aide, registered a complaint in Jubilee Hills police station on Monday against one Nagarjuna Reddy, who has already been arrested by the police for duping a television channel.

The man called up the producer and offered to arrange 500 Covid vaccine doses for people working in his Suresh Productions. The accused asked Suresh Babu to transfer Rs 1 lakh to bank account of his wife. After withdrawing the amount, Nagarjuna Reddy switched off his mobile phone.

After realizing that he has been cheated, he lodged a complaint with the police through his aide.

Hyderabad Cybercrime police had arrested Nagarjuna Reddy on June 14 on charges of cheating a TV channel in the guise of providing vaccination to its employees at a cheaper rate.

Reddy called the entertainment TV channel and identified himself as a personal assistant of Telangana minister K.T. Rama Rao and offered to arrange Covid-19 vaccines for its staff members at Rs 100 per dose.

The channel paid Rs 1.5 lakh for the vaccination drive for 1,500 employees. However, after receiving the money, Reddy stopped responding to the calls.

The Cybercrime police booked a case on a complaint from the channel management and arrested him. He was remanded to judicial custody.

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Parents of kids need not fear Covid third wave: experts


Amid wide-spread concerns that the Covid third wave will chiefly affect people below the age of 18 years, here is a good news. The sero-prevalence, which determines the anti-bodies to any disease is more among the children and those below 18 years of age. This means they would be more resistant and would be able to effectively fight off the virus.

According to a study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which has collected samples from various hospitals across the country, the children can combat the virus better than the adults. The study says that the children would be mainly under attack in the third wave is a myth. Studies have also shown that the children were already infected in the first and second waves and were asymptomatic carriers of the Covid 10 virus They already have the bodily and physiological resistance to the virus, the scientists say

There were fears that the children would be attacked in the third wave as those below 18 have not been vaccinated. But studies have shown that the anti-bodies already present in the children’s bodies will help them fight off the virus.

Experts hope that a vaccine that works on children above two years of age would soon be available. This will help protect them from a possible viral attack. As of now, the clinical tests on the presently available vaccines have shown that they are not effective on children. Hence, the doctors and community medicine experts suggest that children should be very careful and should take all necessary precautions while going to parties, community gatherings etc. They claim that this age group is vulnerable as they tend to hang out mainly in public spaces and suffer from inherent disadvantages The parents should ensure that the children have adopted covid appropriate behaviour.

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Andhra announces Rs 25L ex-gratia for doctors falling prey to Covid


The principal secretary of Andhra Pradesh’s health and family welfare department, Anil Kumar Singhal, on Monday issued an order sanctioning an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to all the regularly employed doctors in the event they succumb to Coronavirus while discharging Covid duties.

“The government after careful examination hereby accords permission to the district collectors in the state for the sanction of an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the immediate dependents of the deceased regular employees who were drafted to Covid duties and were exposed to Covid,” said Singhal.

The government adjudged an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh for the doctors, Rs 20 lakh for the staff nurses, and Rs 10 lakh for male and female nurse orders (MNO/FNO) and other staff.

Set to benefit the dependents of the employees, this ex-gratia will be in addition to the benefit under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package insurance scheme.

“The dependents receiving any benefit under any other scheme are also eligible for the ex-gratia,” he said.

However, the deceased employee should have succumbed to Covid while discharging Covid duties inside a Covid hospital, Covid Care Centre or while visiting the home of an infected person.

Likewise, a Covid positive certificate and death certificate stating that the death was due to Covid are mandatory.

According to Singhal, dependents of the employees awaiting declaration of their probation are also eligible for the ex-gratia.

“This ex-gratia is in addition to any other benefit from insurance companies, organisations and institutions and other statutory payments by the Central/state government,” Singhal noted.

Respective district collectors have been entrusted with the responsibility of verifying the relevant documents before sanctioning the ex-gratia.

In less than a week after Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas assured the state’s junior doctors of meeting their demands, Singhal issued the order on ex-gratia.

However, there is no clarity if Kandikatla Rosy, a house surgeon at Eluru’s Ashram Hospital who succumbed to Covid while discharging Covid duties, emerged as the first beneficiary of this benefit, as was demanded by the junior doctors.

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Single dose sufficient for those already infected by Covid: Study


A single dose of vaccine is sufficient for those already infected by Covid-19, revealed a study by Hyderabad’s AIG Hospitals.

The hospital announced on Monday that it conducted a study on 260 healthcare workers who got vaccinated between January 16 and February 5 to assess the immunological memory response in all those patients. All patients were given the Covishield vaccine.

Two significant observations came out of the study, which has been published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal.

The previously infected group (people who got infected with Covid-19) showed a greater antibody response to a single dose of vaccine compared with those who had no prior infection.

It also revealed that Memory T-cell responses elicited by a single dose of vaccine were significantly higher in the previously infected group compared with those who had no prior infection.

It was concluded that higher memory T and B-cell responses in addition to higher antibody response with a single dose of vaccine given at 3-6 months after recovery from Covid-19 may be considered at par with two doses of vaccine for individuals already infected with Covid-19.

“The results show that people who got infected with COVID-19 need not take two doses of vaccine yet with a single dose can develop robust antibody and memory cell response at par with two-doses for those who didn’t get the infection. This will significantly help at a time when there’s a shortage of vaccine in the country and more people can be covered using the saved doses,” said Dr. D Nageshwar Reddy, Chairman, AIG Hospitals, and one of the co-authors in the study.

“Once we attain the requisite number of people vaccinated for achieving herd immunity, these patients who got infected and received only one dose can take the second dose of the vaccine. At this point, all our strategies should be directed at the widespread distribution of available vaccines and to include the maximum number of people at least with a single dose,” he added.

During the second Covid wave when cases were growing exponentially; the vaccination rate took a downturn. As of April 27, when the growth rate of active infection was 5%, the growth of vaccinated people was just 1.4 per cent.

“We need to modify vaccination strategy based on scientific evidence and with the objective that a larger set of the population can be covered in the shortest duration,” he said.

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Why Covid is a boon for digital money transfers?


Prime Minister Modi made a pitch for it and actively propagated the idea. Yet, there weren’t many takers. But, then Covid happened and Modi’s digital pitch is now gaining traction by each passing day. Modi rooted for digitization of monetary transactions. Thanks to Covid, digital money transfers are growing by leaps and bounds.

Latest government statistics reveal that the unified payment interface (UPI) or digital money transfers have gone up by 1200 times. During 2020-21, the total number of digital money transfers stands at 2233.1 crore. The total value of these transfers is Rs 45 lakh crore. Despite the government’s active promotion, digital money transfers did not become popular all these years. Now, thanks to Covid, the people are afraid of hard currency transfers and are opting for digital transfers.

Most interestingly, the UPI is being used more for small transactions involving street vendors, small traders and the retail market. This means the digital footprint is expanding. This is a heartening development, say government sources.

Digital transactions were introduced in 2016-17. The year recorded 1.8 crore transactions worth Rs 70000 crore. The next year actually saw a slump in digital transactions. There was some recovery by 2018-19 when the total number of transactions had gone up to 535 crore. Last year the number of transactions went up exponentially. The biggest gain is among the lowest strata in terms of economics.

Government sources feel that Covid was a godsend opportunity in promoting digital transactions. Fears that Covid could be contacted through currency notes as Indians in rural areas smear saliva while counting the notes, have prompted more and more people to go in for digital transactions.

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Consortium of 4 cities to enhance coronavirus genome surveillance


A consortium of four Indian city clusters has been established to upscale coronavirus genomic surveillance, complementing national efforts led by the INSACOG.

The consortium comprising Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune is established with generous support and seed funding from Rockefeller Foundation. The new effort will track the emergence of viral variants correlated to epidemiological dynamics and clinical outcomes, said CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), Hyderabad, which is leading the consortium.

The consortium currently includes different partners in three other cities: NCBS-TIFR, InStem-DBT, and NIMHANS in Bengaluru; the CSIR-IGIB in New Delhi; and the Pune Knowledge Cluster, IISER-Pune, and CSIR-NCL in Pune.

The consortium aims to develop targeted sampling strategies based on granular epidemiological and clinical data. Coupled with intense environmental surveillance and advanced computational techniques, the consortium would also focus on building capabilities for real-time surveillance and epidemiology.

It will work closely with local governments, hospitals and clinicians. In collaboration with the INSACOG, the consortium aims to eventually make this a national effort by expanding to other strategic locations in India.

Dr Rakesh Mishra, Advisor at the CSIR-CCMB, will lead these efforts along with Prof Satyajit Mayor of the NCBS, Prof L.s. Shashidhara of the Pune Knowledge Cluster, and Dr Anurag Agrawal, of the CSIR-IGIB.

“Our aim is to develop strategies and capabilities to identify Variants of Concern before they spread widely and cause outbreaks. This will also help correlate with clinical symptoms and disease severity, potentially associated with emerging variants,” said the team.

“All the partner institutes have been fighting COVID-19 since its very beginning in the country. This much-needed collaboration will bring all their strengths together in a structured fashion,” CSIR-CCMB Director, Dr Vinay Nandicoori, said.

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O2 plants, financial support to Kannada & Telugu cine workers by Hombale


One of south India’s top production houses, Hombale Films has stepped up for the relief works to combat the pandemic. With second wave hitting many lives, there occurred a short supply of essential oxygen, O2 beds and claimed jobs of cine workers.

In order to make the contribution from their end, Hombale has set up oxygen plant in Karnataka’s Mandya along with a 20 bed facility. This can be used to induct patients who are in urgent need.

Then Hombale provided Rs 5000 as financial assistance to the crew of ‘Salaar’ and also a token amount of Rs 35 Lakh is donated to the associations in Telugu Film Chamber.

During the first wave, Hombale helped cine workers of Kannada for two months and they are carrying out the same initiative during the second wave too.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Telangana Congress seeks free treatment for Covid


Opposition Congress party in Telangana demanded that the state government provide free treatment for Covid-19 and black fungus for the families living below poverty line.

The party, which organised ‘Satyagrah’ to press for its demands on Monday, reiterated that the government include treatment of Covid and black fungus in Rajiv Aarogyasri, a scheme under which BPL families are provided free treatment for various ailments.

Party’s state unit chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy led ‘Satyagraha’ at Gandhi Bhavan, the party headquarters here.

The Congress leader said many people infected with Covid and black fungus were forced to sell their property to pay for the treatment. He demanded that the state government regulate Covid treatment charges in private hospitals.

He said the government should take steps to ensure reimbursement to patients who were overcharged by the private hospitals. “The government should act on the orders passed by the high court,” he said.

The Congress party also demanded universal free vaccination against Covid-19. Its leaders said it was the responsibility of the Central and state government to ensure that every citizen is vaccinated free of cost.

They alleged that both the central and state government have failed to check the spread of Covid-19

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka blamed Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for deaths due to Covid in the state.

He said it was unfortunate that the state government has still not included Covid treatment in Rajiv Aarogyasri scheme.

Member of Parliamnet Komatireddy Venkat Reddy recalled that the Chief Minister had announced in the State Assembly that treatment of Covid will be covered under Aarogyasri but he has not yet implemented this.

Senior leaders and former ministers Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Jeevan Reddy, former MLA M. Sashidhar Reddy, Sravan Dasoju, Vasmhichand Reddy and others participated in the ‘Satyagrah’ at Gandhi Bhavan.

Similar protest was organised at party offices in the district headquarters.

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Mega vaccination drive held at Hitex, Hyderabad


A mega vaccination drive was held on Sunday at Hitex, Hyderabad. Concerned about the spike in cases in the past 60 to 70 days that caused loss of lives, Medicover Hospitals, in association with the Cyberabad Police Commissionerate & The Society for Cyberabad Security Council (SCSC), planned this initiative to combat Covid-19.

The place was filled with people looking to get vaccinated since 8 a.m. when the drive began and it was slated to continue till 9 p.m. With over 500 counters for no waiting, different time slots were allocated all through the day.

Nursing stations for lactating mothers, emergency ward with 5 beds in each hangar and tea, coffee and biscuits were provided for guests who come for the vaccination.

The objective of this drive was to inoculate the maximum number of people in the tri-city. This drive was being held in the safest environment strictly observing Covid appropriate behaviour and protocols. This would not only set a trend but motivate more people to organise such drives to vaccinate the maximum population in the least possible time to fight impending waves, if any.

While many are flocking to vaccine centres, because of the increased awareness due to the second wave, still a large section of people are hesitating to get the vaccine jab. This drive will also motivate those who are still in dilemma. Camps like this will send a strong message and will also give them confidence that it is safe to take the vaccine.

All necessary arrangements are made to follow strict protocols to ensure proper hygiene and safety of the participants.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner V.C.Sajjanar said: “It is important to take all steps to prevent the surge of the pandemic. This vaccination drive will help us to control the surge as well as prevent the possible third wave.”

SCSC General Secretary Krishna Yedula said: “We are very happy to be associated with this drive as we believe vaccination is the only solution under the current circumstances. We hope maximum people take benefit out of this drive.”

Medicover Group of Hospitals India Executive Director Hari Krishna said: “Vaccination has proven to be effective in combating the pandemic in many countries. Since we are hugely populated, it is necessary to conduct such mass vaccination drives to cover the maximum population.”

Cyberabad Police, and the SCSC are known for many mega drives like this.

Among the dignitaries who attended the vaccination drive were Director of Public Health, Dr G. Srinivas Rao, Sajjanar, Director of Medical and Health, Dr Swarajya Lakshmi directorate of Medical and Health, Sherlingampally MLA Arekapudi Gandhi, Medicoover Hospitals India Chairman and Managing Director Dr Anil Krishna, Director, Clinical Services, Dr Sharat Reddy, Director, Dr Krishna Prasad, Hari Krishna, Telangana superspeciality hospital Secretary Govinda Hari, DCP, Madhapur, Venkateswarlu, Medicover Hospitals Chief Business Officer Mahesh Degloorkar, and Vice President Neeraj Lal.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.



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