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India Coronavirus Dispatch: Learnings from first dry-run

Vaccine makers point to 'recruitment' challenges, Telangana's low caseload, FAQs around vaccination answered, and more news relevant to India's fight against Covid-19

Coronavirus Vaccine | Coronavirus | Coronavirus Tests

Bharath Manjesh  |  New Delhi 

vaccine, pharma, coronavirus, medicine, drugs, medical research, covid, lab
Several drugmakers have pointed to the difficulty in recruiting volunteers for phase 3 trials of the vaccine candidates under development

Key learnings from the first Covid-19 vaccination dry-run

The key learnings from the dry-run held earlier this week across four states were to map remote locations better, report adverse events in real-time, and ramp up training, according to a report in The Indian Express.

Three issues were highlighted in the first dry run, according to the report. First, pin-codes from some villages were not mapped to the Co-Win platform, India's digital system that will track and monitor the vaccination programme. Second, “adverse events” could only be reported to the Co-Win platform after the end of an entire vaccination session – in this case, of 100 people. Third, at some sites, the five-member team did not know who was supposed to do what. These hiccups are expected to be sorted out in the second dry run underway today. Read more here

Covid-19 vaccine developers point to ‘recruitment’ challenges

Even as India is on the cusp of approving emergency authorisation of at least one vaccine later this month, several drugmakers have pointed to the difficulty in recruiting volunteers for phase 3 trials of the vaccine candidates under development, according to a report in The Hindu.

People are under the impression that the vaccine rollout is imminent, and that therefore there is no point in participating in a trial where the odds of getting the actual vaccine is only 50%. This perception has made attracting volunteers difficult, said Krishna Mohan, executive director at Bharat Biotech which is developing covaxin. The phase-3 trials involve getting a dummy shot or a real shot three-four weeks apart in so-called double-blinded placebo trials. There were press releases that a vaccine would be out by Dec 26, and that discouraged people from participating in the trials. The overlap between trials and emergency authorisation has turned out to be tricky, Mohan said, according to the report.

Pankaj Patel, chairman of drugmaker Zydus Cadilla which is also about to start testing a DNA-based vaccine candidate in 30,000 volunteers, said he expected challenges with signing up volunteers quickly but not with actually getting them, according to the report. Read more here

Low caseload in Telangana may be due to antibodies: Expert

The lower caseloads in Telangana and across the country in the last two months, especially in December, could be due to people developing discernable antibodies to the Coronavirus, according to a report in The Hindu.

Public Health Foundation of India’s Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH) - Hyderabad Director Dr G V S Murthy told The Hindu that hospitals are not strained anywhere in the country, despite elections in Bihar, and Telangana, and major festivals. A number of factors may have contributed, he said.

Telangana’s caseload hit its peak sooner than seen across the country, Murthy said. Caseload peaked between August 26-30 when the average daily new cases were 2,880. This fell to an average daily new caseload of 1,600 by November 2. This dropped further to 413 from December 24-29.

Murthy explained that while it is possible to under-report cases, it is next to impossible to hide deaths in big numbers. Therefore, the falling death toll, confirms the fact that the severity of Covid has reduced. Read more here

Most frequently asked questions about vaccination answered

How safe are Covid-19 vaccines? How serious are the allergic reactions reported in other countries that have already begun immunisations? How soon can one get a vaccine? Is one safe after the first shot and how long will the protection last? As India inches closer to rolling out the vaccine, here are answers to the most frequently asked questions around vaccination in this Hindustan Times report. Read more here

States that reopened schools partially from January 1

With Covid-19 cases declining across the country, several states have decided to reopen schools as restrictions are eased. Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim have already reopened schools partially. Here are the states that reopened schools from January 1, according to a report in Hindustan Times.

In Kerala, 10th and 12th-grade classes began with limited hours and a restricted number of students. In Karnataka, schools reopened for students of grades between 6 to 12. All schools and other educational institutions from elementary level to the university level reopened in Assam. Read more here

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First Published: Sat, January 02 2021. 14:51 IST