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Covaxin generated excellent safety data, says Bharat Biotech

Amid the criticism of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for granting approval for emergency use of Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin, its manufacturer Bharat Biotech claimed on Sunday that its vaccine generated excellent safety data with robust immune responses to multiple viral proteins that persist.

Covaxin is a highly purified and inactivated 2 dose SARS-CoV2 vaccine, manufactured in a Vero cell manufacturing platform with an excellent safety track record of more than 300 million doses, the Hyderabad-based company said in a statement.

“The evaluation of Covaxin has resulted in several unique product characteristics including long term persistence of immune responses to multiple viral proteins, as opposed to only the spike protein, and has demonstrated broad spectrum neutralising capability with heterologous SARS-CoV2 strains, thus potentially reducing or eliminating escape mutants,” it said.

“It has also shown to generate memory T cell responses, for its multiple epitopes, indicating longevity and a rapid antibody response to future infections. Its most critical characteristic is the demonstrated safety profile, which is significantly lower than several other vaccines with published data,” it added.

DCGI has come under flak from various quarters for approving Covaxin even before the completion of Phase 3 trials. Critics wondered how the regulator could approve the vaccine in the absence of the data from Phase 3.

The DCGI’s approval to Covaxin came a day after the Subject Expert Committee of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) made the recommendation.

Bharat Biotech said it submitted all the data to the DCGI and CDSCO as per the regulatory guidelines.

The product development and clinical trial data thus far has generated 5 publications, which have been submitted to international peer reviewed journals, 4 of which have been accepted and will be published soon. The publication of Phase 2 trial data is undergoing the peer review process, the company said.

The DCGI stated that Bharat Biotech generated safety and immunogenicity data in various animal species. “All these data has been shared by the firm with CDSCO. Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials were conducted in approx 800 subjects and the results have demonstrated that the vaccine is safe and provides a robust immune response. The Phase 3 efficacy trial was initiated in India in 25,800 volunteers and till date, 22,500 participants have been vaccinated across the country and the vaccine has been found to be safe as per the data available till date,” the regulator said.

“The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) has reviewed the data on safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine and recommended for grant of permission for restricted use in emergency situation in public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, to have more options for vaccinations, especially in case of infection by mutant strains. The clinical trial ongoing within the country by the firm will continue,” it added.

India’s indigenous Covid vaccine by Bharat Biotech has been developed in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Virology (NIV).

It is inactivated intramuscular vaccine that works by injecting the inactivated version of Sars-Cov-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, into the body to develop an immune response.

According to the vaccine maker, Covaxin has been evaluated in approximately 1000 subjects in Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials, with promising safety and immunogenicity results, with acceptance in international peer reviewed scientific journals.

The Phase 3 human clinical trials of Covaxin began mid-November, targeted to be done in 26,000 volunteers across India. This is India’s first and only Phase 3 efficacy study for a Covid-19 vaccine, and the largest Phase 3 efficacy trial ever conducted for any vaccine in India.

This indigenous, inactivated vaccine is developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3 (Bio-Safety Level 3) bio-containment facility, one of its kind in the world, said Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Dr Krishna Ella.

It was in June that Bharat Biotech had announced that it successfully developed Covaxin in collaboration with the ICMR and the NIV.

The SARS-CoV-2 strain was isolated in NIV, Pune and transferred to Bharat Biotech.

The Phase 1 trials began in July while Phase 2 trials started in September.

Sai Prasad, Executive Director, Bharat Biotech had told IANS in November that Covaxin was found to be safe without any major adverse events in the first two stages of the trials.

“We follow a well-designed vaccine development protocol, and ensure each stage of our vaccine development is driven with a sole goal to attain a strong immune response rate in our clinical trials. When we do a trial design, we take into account the attack rates, the disease type, the ability of us to detect the disease and then the recruitment timelines,” the official had said when asked about the comparison with vaccines being developed by several companies around the world.

The company has already built capacities to manufacture 200 million doses of vaccine and plan to further enhance to 500 million doses.

It is investing about Rs 350-400 crore for the development of vaccine and the new manufacturing facilities, which includes investments for conducting the Phase 3 trials.

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24 UK returnees to two Telugu states test corona positive

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Six returnees from the United Kingdom to Andhra Pradesh have tested coronavirus positive so far while such flyers in neighbouring Telangana number 18, health officials said on Saturday.

Authorities in Andhra Pradesh have identified 1,214 people who returned to the state from the UK so far. The Health Department has traced 1,158 while efforts are on to trace the remaining 56.

In all, 1,101 UK returnees were shifted to quarantine centres, of which six tested positive.

The samples of positive cases have now been sent to the National Institute of Virology at Pune and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) for genome sequencing to find out if hey are infected by the new strain of the virus found in the UK.

Of the positive cases, two are from Guntur district while one each was reported from East Godavari, Krishna, Anantapur, and Nellore districts.

Meanwhile, in Telangana, two more UK returnees tested positive, taking the total such cases to 18. Samples of the infected persons have been sent to CCMB for genome sequencing.

Out of 18 positive patients, four are from Hyderabad, six from Medchal Malkajgiri district, two from Jagtial district and one each from Mancherial, Nalgonda, Rangareddy, Sangareddy, Siddipet, and Warangal Urban districts.

Public Health Department Director Dr G Srinivas Rao said that those found infected were kept in special wards in different hospitals.

According to officials, 1,200 persons have travelled to Telangana from the UK since December 9. Of them, 926 were identified and COVID tests conducted on them.

A total of 92 returnees were from other states. After landing in Hyderabad, they left for their respective states. The Health Department of Telangana informed the states concerned.

The health authorities also traced 76 contacts of those who tested positive. They have been quarantined and their health condition under close observation.

The Health Department is on high alert in the wake of new coronavirus strain in some countries. It is tracing, testing, and treatment method to prevent the spread of the virus.

The department has requested all those who have came directly to the state from the UK after December 9 or have travelled through the UK to provide details by calling on 040-24651119 or by texting on WhatsApp to 9154170960. Staff from Health Department will visit their homes for health check-ups.

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Covid variant: India suspends flights from UK till Dec 31

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India on Monday suspended all flights to and from the United Kingdom till December 31 in the wake of the new mutant strain of novel coronavirus.

The suspension will start with effect from 23.59 hours on December 22.

All flights from India to UK shall also stand temporarily suspended during the period, said a Ministry tweet.

At present, Vistara, Air India, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways operate flights between the two countries.

These airlines operate about 40 weekly flights from eight Indian destinations to and from the UK.

“In view of the emerging Covid-19 situation in United Kingdom, the competent authority has temporarily suspended flight to and from United Kingdom with effect from 2359 hrs IST of 22 December, 2020,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a circular.

“Therefore, no flights from United Kingdom will land in India after 2359 hrs IST of 22 December, 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure. Consequently, flights from India to United Kingdom shall also remain suspended.”

“Airlines operating flights to or from India from other countries shall not board any passenger travelling from United Kingdom to India and shall ensure that no passenger coming from United Kingdom is boarded in a flight for any destination in India either directly or indirectly.”

However, the restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

Besides, the circular said as a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights should be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at the airports in India.

“All medical costs incurred shall be borne by the passengers,” the circular said.

“This is a temporary measure and shall be in force till 31. December, 2020.”

India’s bar on passenger flights follows similar steps by several European countries on Sunday.

“There are about 40 weekly flights from eight Indian destinations to and from the UK. On an average around 11,000 people travel between the two countries per week using these air services,” Nishant Pitti, Co-founder and CEO, EaseMyTrip.com.

A British Airways spokesperson said: “We are sorry that, like other airlines, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic and global travel restrictions we are operating a reduced and dynamic schedule.”

“We will be contacting customers whose flights are cancelled to offer refunds….”

A Vistara spokesperson said: “Vistara will comply with the government’s decision to suspend all flights originating from UK to India.”

“In order to minimise inconvenience to our customers, we will enable one-time free-of-charge rescheduling of affected bookings to any date until 31 December 2021.”

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Telangana crosses 60 lakh-mark in Covid sample testing

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Telangana crossed a milestone on Friday in its fight against Covid-19 as the state so far conducted over 60 lakh tests.

With 56,178 samples tested during the last 24 hours, the cumulative tests mounted to 60,29,209.

Samples tested per million population ratio rose further to 1,61,988.

The daily testing target for the state is 5,600 per day as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) benchmark of 140 per million per day, officials said

Eighteen government-run laboratories, 54 private laboratories and 1,076 Rapid Antigen test centres are conducting the tests in the state.

During the last 24 hours, 56,178 samples were tested — 52,718 in government-run laboratories and 3,460 in private labs.

According to the director of public health and family welfare, the state reported 612 positive cases, taking the cumulative tally to 2,76,516.

Out of the total positive cases so far, 70 per cent (1,93,561) were asymptomatic while the remaining 30 per cent (82,955) were symptomatic.

The data shows that 63.9 per cent of those tested positive so far were aged between 21-50 years. As many as 22.91 per cent were aged above 51 years. The positive cases include 13.18 per cent who were below 20 years.

Of the total cases, 60.44 per cent were male and 39.37 per cent female.

Three more persons succumbed to the virus during the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 1,485.

The fatality rate stands at 0.53 per cent against the national average of 1.5 per cent. According to the director of public health and family welfare, 44.96 per cent of the deaths were due to Covid while the remaining 55.04 were on account of comorbidities.

Officials said 502 people recovered from the virus during the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative recoveries to 2,67,427.

The recovery rate stands at 96.71 per cent against the national average of 94.8 per cent.

The state now has 7,604 active Covid cases and of them 5,511 were in home or institutional isolation.

During the last 24 hours Greater Hyderabad logged 144 new cases. Rangareddy district saw the second highest number of new cases at 73 followed by Medchal Malkajgiri (60), Warangal Urban (29), Karimnagar (28), Nalgonda (21) and Khammam (18).

Over 90 per cent of beds in the government-run hospitals treating Covid-19 in the state remained vacant.

Out of 8,561 beds available in 61 government hospitals treating Covid, 7,774 beds were vacant. A total of 787 people were undergoing treatment in these hospitals.

Similarly, in 220 private hospitals treating Covid, only 1,306 beds were occupied. Out of 8,476 beds, 7,170 were vacant.

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Chiranjeevi’s coronavirus shock for KCR, Ram Charan and Nag

Megastar Chiranjeevi left everyone in deep shock after he announced that he is tested positive for coronavirus. The actor is currently in home quarantine. Three days ago, Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna met Telangana Chief Minister KCR. The released pictures showed that KCR, Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna had no masks during the meeting. Soon after this, Chiranjeevi’s son Ram Charan participated in Green India Challenge yesterday in his Hyderabad residence.

Chiranjeevi along with Charan and Telangana MP Santosh Kumar posed for the pictures and are spotted together without masks. The pictures are now viral across the social media circles. Chiranjeevi urged all the people who are in contact with him to get the coronavirus tests done. Charan is shooting for RRR currently and this may impact the shoot of the film if Charan tests positive for coronavirus. Nag recently completed the shoot of Wild Dog and he is shooting for Bigg Boss 4. All the celebrities who met Chiranjeevi are currently tensed.

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AP Covid cases cross 6 lakh mark, deaths 5,177

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Coronavirus infections continue to rise at an alarming rate in Andhra Pradesh. The total virus cases crossed 6 lakh land mark with the total death toll reaching 5,177 now. In the past 24 hours, over 8,702 new Covid cases were reported which is 11.22 per cent of the total 77,492 virus tests conducted all over the State.

The total number of Covid cases rose to 51.18 lakh with the total death toll put at 82,198 as on today. Over 97,894 new cases were reported from all over the country in the last 24 hours. Andhra Pradesh is making a significant contribution with over 8,700 cases during this period. The Government is still attributing this high number of virus cases to the higher number of tests being conducted in the State when compared to other States. Over 77,492 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours.

With virus infections continuing to spread fast, most of the patients were taking treatment at home quarantines. Only in critical cases, they are getting admitted to hospitals. Over 175 workers at Polavaram project site also fell ill with Covid virus. They were mostly spread over various Covid centres in West Godavari district. Workplaces were functioning with staff wearing face masks and observing physical distancing, yet infections are spreading wide.

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Legendary singer tested positive with COVID-19

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The impact of COVID-19 is huge in India and the cases crossed 19 lakh mark in the country. Several celebrities, film stars and businessmen are tested positive with COVID-19. The latest one to join the list is legendary singer SP Balasubrahmanyam. He is tested positive with coronavirus and is admitted to Chennai’s MGM Healthcare hospital today morning. SP Balasubrahmanyam himself informed the news through a video byte posted on his official social media page.

SP Balasubrahmanyam said that he wasn’t comfortable from the past three days. He got the tests done and SP Balasubrahmanyam was tested positive with coronavirus. The doctors advised for self-quarantine as he had mild symptoms. But SP Balasubrahmanyam got admitted to the hospital to stay away from his family members. He said that he is in good hands and asked people not to worry. SP Balasubrahmanyam, a recipient of multiple awards sung 40,000 songs in 16 Indian languages.

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Tollywood stressed with the further delays

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After the Telangana government granting permission for the shoots, most of the filmmakers decided to resume the shoots. Soon they realized that it will not be possible anytime soon. Some of them fixed the deadlines as August and September, but the situations across the Telugu states are completely worrying. All the star actors and directors decided to wait further until the vaccine for coronavirus arrives. With the stars making sure about this, the producers too are restricted to their homes and are waiting for the vaccine.

Most of the filmmakers guessed that the theatres would reopen for Dasara but it is not turning true as per the current trend. The financial stress for the producers is mounting up badly and they are left puzzled. Movies like V, Red, Aranya, Nishabdham and Uppena aimed Dasara release but it is clear that they would not hit the screens for Dasara. Some of the filmmakers are now back to talks for a digital release as the wait would be long for the theatres to open.

Tollywood witnessed hundreds of crores loss because of the coronavirus pandemic. The crucial summer and Dasara seasons are gone. Tollywood hopes to bounce back at least for Sankranthi 2021. Tollywood will be back to business only after the vaccine arrives.

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Not hiding Covid cases: CM Jagan on 1 lakh milestone

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AP chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has sought to defend his government in the face rising Coronavirus cases in the state. Alarmingly, AP is contributing 6,000 to 8,000 cases each day these days to the rising virus numbers in the country. Criticism is rising that AP Covid situation is slipping out of hands.

Whereas, Jagan Reddy has now asserted that AP tops all other states in conducting the highest number of tests. This was why the AP state was reporting more cases than other states. Interestingly, the CM said that their government was not hiding facts about the new cases being reported. Recalling the reports given by officials, the CM said that over 6,000 new cases were reported in a single day yesterday.

CM Jagan once again asserted that Covid comes and goes and that the people would have to coexist with the disease. He said that AP is the only state in the country to carry out 50,000 tests per day. In every million people, 31,000 tests were being conducted. Nearly 90 per cent coverage was achieved in testing in the Coronavirus tests.

The CM pointed out that though AP crossed one lakh mark, half of the patients have fully recovered.

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Kesineni’s alarming tweet on ex MLA brother’s Covid death

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The Coronavirus problems were multiplying day by day in Andhra Pradesh. As of now, nearly 7,000 new cases were being reported each day on an average. In every district, over 300 new cases were being reported daily. Apart from these shaking numbers, another disturbing factor is the lack of beds and facilities for virus patients at the hospitals.

Amid this, the latest tweet of TDP MP Kesineni Nani raised political temperatures all of a sudden. He said the very of this was sending shivers down the spine of everyone. The situation in Vijayawada city was horrible. No hospital could provide a bed to the Covid infected brother of a former legislator. They used all their influence with all political parties but could not find admission for the patient. Eventually, the ex MLA’s brother remained confined in the ambulance outside a hospital for hours together. As no help came, it finally led to the death of the patient in the ambulance itself.

Narrating this story, the MP asked what the suffering of the common man would be if a former MLA could not get support for his own brother. This comes amid debates going on about the lack of enough facilities at the Corona isolation centres. The government is depending more on the private hospitals but there are not enough beds available.

Analysts say that a great human tragedy awaits in AP if the government does not open exclusive Covid hospitals with a considerable number of beds.

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1,284 new COVID cases, 6 deaths in Telangana

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COVID-19 cases in Telangana mounted to 43,780 with 1,284 more people testing positive on Saturday.

The state also reported six fresh fatalities, taking the death toll to 409. According to the director of public health, the mortality rate is 0.93 per cent.

The state saw more people recovering from the infection than the new cases. The official said 1,902 people recovered in a single day. With this the cumulative number rose to 30,607.

The recovery rate of Telangana is seven per cent higher than the national average at 70 per cent.

The active COVID cases stands at 12,765, which is 29 per cent of the total cases reported so far.

On Saturday, the state conducted 14,883 tests. With this 2,52,700 tests have been conducted so far. The tests per million population is 4,945.

According to the health department, the state’s cumulative sample positivity rate is 17 per cent.

The state has 39 testing laboratories including 23 in the private sector. Out of 17,081 COVID beds in government hospitals, 15,169 beds are vacant.

Of the fresh cases, 667 were reported in hotspot Greater Hyderabad. The districts bordering the state capital continued to see the spike. Sangareddy recorded 86, Rangareddy 68 and Medchal 62.

The officials said 58 new cases were reported from Karimnagar, 46 from Nalgonda and 35 from Vikarabad.

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1,676 new COVID-19 cases in T’gana, tally touches 41,018

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As many as 1,676 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Telangana on Thursday, taking the number of affected in the state to 41,018, health officials said.

Ten more deaths were also reported in the state, taking the toll to 396 so far.

The state on Thursday tested 14,027 samples, the highest in a single day since the outbreak of COVID-19. With this the state has conducted 2,22,693 tests.

After ramping up the tests in the last few days, the state health authorities on Thursday changed the format of the daily media bulletin, providing all the vital statistics.

The tests per million population stand at 5,350. According to the bulletin, 18.85 per cent of the samples tested have found to be positive.

The media bulletin also mentioned that the state has 39 testing laboratories – 16 in the government sector and 23 private.

The state has a recovery rate of 67 per cent. On Thursday, 1,296 people recovered from COVID-19, taking the number of people recovered to 27,295. The state now has 13,328 active cases.

Out of 17,081 COVID beds in the government-run hospitals, 15,389 beds are vacant. Gandhi Hospital, which is designated as the centre of excellence for treating critical COVID cases, has 1,890 beds but 635 patients.

Greater Hyderabad remained the worst hit among 33 districts, accounting for 788 cases. Indicating the spread of the virus, the number of infections has increased in other districts. Ranga Reddy stands second with 224 cases and Medchal 160.

Karimnagar district reported 92 new cases, Nalgonda 64, Sangareddy 57 and Wanaparthy 51.

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Hyd’s Biophore ramps up Favipiravir production

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Hyderabad-based Biophore India Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday announced that it has successfully completed the validation of Favipiravir and scaled-up its production.

Favipiravir is the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) that can be used in the finished formulation of an antiviral drug approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for mild to moderate cases of Covid-19.

Biophore has received the DCGI license to manufacture the API in India and has been cleared for export as well. It has also received approval in Turkey in collaboration with a local Turkish partner. The company said that it is in talks with several Indian partners to commercialize the product in India and with Bangladesh and Egypt-based companies for its export,

Biophore is also awaiting DCGI approval for a Favipiravir finished dosage form.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for pharmaceutical companies to step up and develop effective solutions quickly, without compromising on safety. We have ensured that our favipiravir meets the highest standards of quality,” said Dr. Manik Reddy Pullagurla, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Biophore.

He said their manufacturing facilities comply with US and EU regulations and have stringent internal impurity controls and quality checks. “Meeting Favipiravir needs in India is our priority, and we have the capacity to scale up production of Favipiravir to meet local requirements, without compromising on our export commitments.”

Favipiravir is an antiviral agent that was initially discovered and developed because of its activity against another RNA virus, the influenza virus. Apart from India and Turkey, it has already been approved for use against Covid-19 in RussiaAand parts of the Middle EastAand advanced stage trials are currently underway in other parts of the world.

“Biophore’s Favipiravir is 100 per cent Made in India. This is what sets us apart from many other suppliers of this API. We are not dependent on any imports to produce Favipiravir. All starting materials and complex intermediates are either sourced locally or have been developed in-house for use. We are confident that this API will help our country move several steps forward in our united fight against Covid-19,” said Jagadeesh Babu Rangisetty, CEO, Biophore.

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Home Minister Mahmood Ali’s son, grandson contract Covid-19

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After Telangana Home Minister Mahmood Ali who was contracted Covid-19 and admitted in a private hospital on Monday, members of his family were tested positive for the infection on Tuesday.

It is learnt that Mahmood Ali’s grandson Mohammed Furqan Ahmed was tested positive for Covid-19. Furqan Ahmed has been admitted to Apollo Hospital where Mahmood Ali is also currently undergoing treatment. Further, Mahmood Ali’s son Mohammed Azam Ali Khurram was also tested positive for coronavirus. Initially, he was in home quarantine, but later shifted to Apollo Hospital on Monday night.

Mahmood Ali, a known asthamatic, is believed to have contracted the infection from his gunman who was tested positive. Mahmood Ali was admitted in Apollo Hospital after he complained of breathlessness, cold and cough. Mahmood Ali recently took part in the government’s pet Haritha Haram programme where Hyderabad city police commissioner too was present.

Earlier, three TRS leaders – MLAs Jangaon legislator Muthireddy Yadigiri Reddy, Bajireddy Govardhan (Nizamabad Rural) and Ganesh Gupta (Nizamabad Urban) were tested positive for coronavirus.

Telangana is seeing an alarming surge in coronavirus cases, with nearly 1,000 new infections per day, prompting the Telangana government to likely reimpose complete lockdown Telangana is one of several states that has seen a surge in new Covid-19 cases after the state had rolled back complete lockdown. The percentage of positive tests has nearly doubled in the past few weeks.

On Thursday, the state reported 975 new cases taking the corona tally to 15,394 and six new deaths taking the total number of fatalities to 253. Of the 975 new cases, a whopping 861 positive cases were reported in GHMC limits. With an alarming rise in infection rates, Telangana is likely to impose lockdown in Greater Hyderabad for at least 15 days with the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad reporting the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the state. A decision to this effect will be taken in a Cabinet meeting.

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Telangana Home Minister tested positive for Covid-19

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After three TRS MLAs, Telangana Home minister Mahamood Ali was tested positive for covid-19. Mahmood Ali is known asthmatic. It is learnt that when his family took him for a medical check up, Mahmood Ali was detected with corona virus. Currently, three MLAs including Jagoan legislator Muthireddy Yadagiri Reddy, Nizamabad Rural and Urban MLAs Bajireddy Govardhan and Ganesh Gupta were tested positive for corona virus.

The state has been reporting a three digit spike in the number of cases each day. With alarming rise in corona cases, the TRS government may extend lockdown in Hyderabad after June 30 depending on what the status of novel coronavirus cases after two to three days.

The state government also added that they were examining the situation keenly and if the need arises, Cabinet will be convened in three to four days to discuss proposals for the lockdown, alternatives and other related issues and a decision will be taken.

In the last 48 hours, Telangana reported nearly 2,000 new corona positive cases, taking the state tally to 14,000.

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Covid-19 drug priced Rs 5,400 per vial by Hyderabad-based Hetero

Covifor, the generic version of Covid-19 drug Remdesivir, will be available in India for Rs 5,400 per 100 mg vial, Hyderabad-based Hetero Labs announced on Wednesday.

Following the approval to Covifor by the Drug Controller General of India , Hetero Healthcare Ltd, a group company of Hetero, announced that it is set to deliver the first set of 20,000 vials.

They will be made available in two equal lots of 10,000 each. One lot will be immediately supplied to Hyderabad, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra while the other lot will be supplied to Kolkata, Indore, Bhopal, Lucknow, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Ranchi, Vijayawada, Cochin, Thiruvananthapuram and Goa within a week to meet the emergency requirements, the company said.

“Through Covifor, we hope to reduce the treatment time of a patient in a hospital, thereby reducing the increasing pressure on the medical infrastructure, overburdened currently due to accelerating Covid-19 infection rates. We are working closely with the government and medical community to make Covifor quickly accessible to both public and private healthcare settings across the country,” said M. Srinivasa Reddy, Managing Director, Hetero Healthcare.

Covifor is the first generic brand of Remdesivir which is indicated for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in adults and children, hospitalised with severe symptoms of the disease. The drug is available in 100 mg vial (injectable). It needs to be administered intravenously in a hospital, or critical care setting, under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner.

Covifor is anticipated to play a significant role in bringing down the mortality rates caused by Covid-19, given its proven positive clinical outcomes, the company added.

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YSRCP MLA tested positive for Covid-19

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After three TRS legislators in Telangana, a YSRCP MLA was tested positive for Covid-19.

YSRCP MLA from Srungavarapukota K Srinivas Rao contracted the most dreaded infection. He is the first legislator in Andhra Pradesh to have tested positive for corona virus. Srinivas Rao is under home quarantine.

The MLA’s gunman was also tested positive for the infection as the state has been reporting three digit spike in the number of cases each day.

In the last three days alone, AP reported nearly 1,500 positive cases, pushing the tally to 9,000 with fatalities around 120.

The situation in Telanagana also is worrisome with the state reporting 871 cases in the last 24 hours, the steepest single day surge reported so far. The number of cases in Telanagana too climbed to 9,000 with nearly 150 deaths reported.

Earlier, three MLAs including Jagoan legislator Muthireddy Yadagiri Reddy, his wife and gunman tested positive for Corona virus. Subsequently, Nizamabad Rural and Urban MLAs Bajireddy Govardhan and Ganesh Gupta respectively contracted the virus.

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Rational testing policy must, experts tell Telangana Guv

Telangana Governor, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan on Monday interacted with experts on combating the Covid-19 pandemic and they suggested a rational testing policy be evolved based on the local conditions, rather than strictly adhering to the broad guidelines of the ICMR.

The suggestion is significant as the state government has been coming under criticism from various quarters for not conducting adequate number of tests. The government has been maintaining that it is strictly going by the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The Governor’s interaction is also seen as significant as she is reportedly in favour of increasing the number of tests. Soundararajan, a doctor herself, is also understood to be unhappy with the state government’s response to her requests for information on Covid-19 situation while the government is also reportedly not pleased with her visit to a hospital last week.

A statement from Raj Bhavan listed out the suggestions that emerged during the interaction the Governor had with experts and eminent persons through video conference.

Most of the suggestions are similar to the directions given or observations made by the High Court and the demands raised by the opposition parties.

The participants in the video conference included former Union Health Secretary K. Sujatha Rao, former Director General of Police H.J. Dora, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Dr Rakesh Mishra, Apollo Group of Hospitals President, Dr Hariprasad and Indian Medical Association, Telanagana, President, Dr Vijender Reddy, Telangana’s first Covid patient to get plasma therapy, Vamsi Mohan, and US-based Covid-19 and kidney researcher, Dr Swaminathan.

The experts favoured an epidemiological spread-based testing and effective tracing.

Death cases which have symptoms of Covid-19 may be tested to facilitate isolation of family members and to know the epidemiological spread of disease, they added.

“Since lockdown is not an affordable option for a prolonged period, the only strategy that can be adopted is test, trace and treat,” they said.

The experts called for ramping up the conduct of tests to cover all asymptomatic cases in the identified red zones and hotspots and conducting antibody tests to understand community spread.

They suggested pool testing in the hotspots, deployment of more mobile and drive-through testing laboratories and proactive and aggressive conduct of RT-PCR tests.

They also underlined the need to safeguard the frontline warriors and called for stringent action against those attacking doctors and paramedical staff.

The experts also suggested that all journalists on the field be tested “as they are the potential spreaders of infection and they are more likely to get infected, because they travel a lot and meet many people because of the nature of their work”.

The experts also mooted different protocols of treatment of Covid-19 patients, depending on the severity of illness. They also called for planning for plasma therapy.

The outcomes of the interaction will be documented and shared with the state government for consideration while planning effective containment of Covid-19, said an earlier statement from the Raj Bhavan.

The Governor had last week visited the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) to show solidarity with the healthcare workers affected by Covid-19 while discharging their duties.

She had told reporters after coming out of the hospital that she personally met medicos, nurses and paramedics who got infected and wished them a speedy recovery. The Governor has also expressed concern at the rising number of cases.

There has been a surge in Covid-19 cases in Telangana in the last few days. On Monday, the tally crossed the 5,000 mark.

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Marginal increase in Andhra’s coronavirus cases tally

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Andhra Pradesh’s overnight COVID-19 tally increased marginally, with 9 cases reported from 3 districts in the state. As per information released by the state nodal officer on Thursday morning, 3 cases each were reported from Krishna, Kurnool and west Godavari districts respectively.

The results from the tests conducted between 7 p.m. on Wednesday and 9 a.m. on Thursday take the cumulative tally of coronavirus cases in the state to 534.

With the death toll due to COVID-19 remaining at 14, and 20 people being cured and discharged from hospital, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning stood at 500.

While Guntur remains at the top of the tally count with 122 cases, Kurnool has inched closer with 113 cases, and Nellore district remained at third position with 58 cases.

On Thursday, the state government kicked off the second leg of ration delivery to white card holders. In addition to 29,783 designated ration shops, the state government also set up 14,315 ration shops to avoid a rush of people.

In the 42 mandal areas coming under the red zones or coronavirus hit areas, village volunteers began doorstep delivery of rations to the white-card holders in the 42 mandals in the red zones.

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Telangana ready to handle even 1 lakh patients: CM

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao on Wednesday said that the state has made all arrangements, which are adequate to handle even one lakh Covid-19 patients.

He told a review meeting with top officials that the government is ready to conduct tests on any number of people and offer treatment to those found infected with coronavirus.

KCR, as Rao is popularly known, said the state had adequate test kits to conduct tests on any number of people.

There is no scarcity of the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, he informed.

“We have 2.25 lakh PPE kits. The number will increase to 5 lakh shortly. We have placed orders for another 5 lakh kits. As on date, we have 3.25 lakh N95 masks. The number will increase to 5 lakh very soon. We have placed orders for another 5 lakh N95 masks.

“Besides this, ventilators, other medical equipment, number of doctors, other medical staff, hospitals, beds — all are ready. So far 20,000 beds are ready. Even if the number of patients increases to one lakh, the government has made all arrangements for their treatment,” he was quoted as saying by a statement from the CMO.

The Chief Minister said that 259 containment centres have been opened in the state and stringent measures were being taken to check the spread of the virus.

The CM made it clear that as per the guidelines issued by the Centre, lockdown in the state would continue till April 20. Later, based on the circumstances prevailing then, changes would be made.

He desired that the initiative shown by the people’s representatives, and the cooperation extended by the people for the implementation of the lockdown and assistance to the poor should continue.

Medical and Health Minister Eatala Rajender said that there are 514 active cases in the hospitals. Eight patients were discharged on Wednesday and another 128 would be discharged on Thursday.

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