India took six months to reach the first million Covid-19 cases, but has gone from four to 4.9 million in
Meanwhile, the race for the Covid-19 vaccine is also gathering pace.
Amongst three ongoing clinical trials for the vaccine in India, Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed recruitments for phase two trial, while Serum Institute is expecting clearance to start phase three trial across 14 sites on 1,500 individuals.
“Serum has done its phase II-b trial on the first 100 patients. They paused it for a week and want to start the third phase soon,” Balram Bhargava, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, said.
One-fifth of the total cases are active in India, according to the health ministry, with 3, 573 cases per million people. The government is expected to release the results of the second national serosurvey conducted across 70 districts by the end of this month.
The daily average of new cases has been rising in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh, while there are initial signs of a decline in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. These are the top five states with the highest Covid-19 caseload.
The test positivity of cases is highest in Maharashtra, with 21.5 per cent of patients testing positive against a national average of 8.4 per cent. “If, in spite of large-scale testing, a state is seeing higher positivity, then it needs to ramp up testing further,” Rajesh Bhushan, health secretary, said.
As on Tuesday, 3.69 per cent patients were on oxygen support, 2.17 per cent were in the ICU and 0.36 per cent were on ventilators, according to the health ministry.
“There is no shortage of oxygen in the country. We have a headroom of about 1,900 metric tonnes daily extra capacity. States have to ensure proper inventory management in hospitals so that they can alert whenever there is a shortage,” said Bhushan. He was responding to a question on shortage of oxygen in hospitals with the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
On whether India will authorise emergency use of vaccine, Bhushan said that such provisions are there in the regulatory framework of the country and provide for accelerated permissions, which is distinct from market authorisation. “No one has applied for emergency authorisation for the vaccine yet,” Bhushan added.