Coronavirus live updates | Over 4.5 lakh individuals vaccinated so far, concerns about vaccine’s efficacy unfounded: Health Ministry

A cumulative 580 adverse events were reported till Monday, said the Health Ministry. “Two deaths have been reported so far and while one is not related to vaccination, post-mortem report of the other is awaited,’’ said Manohar Agnani, Additional Secretary, Health Ministry.

The Ministry said three of the seven cases reported from across the nation requiring hospitalisation were reported from Delhi. Two have been discharged whereas one case with reported fainting is under observation

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are live updates:

New Delhi

Nasal vaccine will be a game changer: Niti Aayog member

Vaccines have been distributed to the States/UTs based in a proportion in which the Union Government got the supplies. Secondly, which vaccine will go to which vaccination session was a decision left entirely to the States, said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan

On a query about low vaccination percentage in Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Puducherry, Health Secretary said vaccine hesitancy has been there in all countries, it has got nothing to do with COVID-19, probably the degree in case of Covid-19 would be slightly more. According to him, the only way of addressing it is by engaging repeatedly with beneficiary group and trying to address their concerns

“There are discussions and there will a decision, which will be communicated at the right time, says Dr. Paul on a query about supply of vaccines to neighbouring countries,” he said.

If nasal vaccine works, it could be a game changer, says  Niti Aayog member Dr. Paul, adding that one such vaccine candidate is being looked into

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

Authorities to bear cost of treatment for individuals adversely affected by vaccine: Health Secratary

On a query about compensation to those who involving adverse events, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said: “There are two vaccines, one given emergency use authorisation and another given emergency use authorisation under the clinical trial mode, The second one is accompanied by three documents, including a fact sheet, consent form (available in regional language) and adverse event reporting form, to report any such event within seven days after immunisation.

“There it is clearly mentioned that if there is any causal relationship between immunisation and the adverse event, whether severe or serious, the hospital cost will be borne by the authorities,” he added.

Dr. Bhargava said there is a system in place to ensure a follow-up for the people in adverse-event cases. Health Secretary added: “In Covishield vaccine there is passive monitoring, the onus is on the beneficiary to report any adverse event. In case of Covaxin, there is active follow-up. A doctor rings you up on daily basis.”

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

Both vaccines are very safe, invaluable in breaking chain of transmission: ICMR DG Balram Bhargava

ICMR DG Balram Bhargava said: “As we approach half a million number of vaccinations in the last three days, it is clear that both the COVID vaccines are very safe

“Vaccine does not cause COVID-19, it prevents Covid-19 and it prevents Covid-19 deaths. Time to take the vaccine is now, we can break the chain of transmission, ” he asserted

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

Non-COVID health care service will resume once the healthcare professionals are vaccinated: Niti Aayog

“In a matter of few days, all the non-COVID health care service will resume once the healthcare professionals are vaccinated. I too have been vaccinated and there is no side effect, said Dr. Paul

“We must be ready for any eventuality, given that after a sharp decline in cases in other countries, there was a huge surge there. Therefore, we should accept vaccination. The cases of beneficiaries who are healthy even after vaccination should also be highlighted.”

“In a matter of weeks, with the ongoing vaccination drive, a vaccine induced herd immunity cover will start developing,” he assured.

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

Vaccine administered at over 3,500 sites: Niti Aayog

Member (Heath), Niti Aayog, V.K. Paul said: “At over 3,500 sites the vaccine is being administered, it is being carried out in an expeditious and smooth manner.”

“The concerns about adverse effects, serious problems, as of now seems to be unfounded, negligible, insignificant. There is no doubt that the platforms on which the vaccines have been produced are very safe and immunogenic. They have negligible side effects,” he claimed

“Those of us who are fortunate to have been listed for vaccination should not refuse, reason being that after vaccination you (healthcare workers) can perform their duties without fear of contracting COVID-19, it will protect your family. Also, one an individual is protected, the virus cannot cross the individual, ” stressed Dr. Paul

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

States/UTs with less than 50% vaccination coverage are Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Punjab: Health Secretary

“The board of doctors  are analysing post-mortem reports. At the national level also there is a national AEFI committee,” said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

Among the better performing States are Lakshadweep (89.3%), Sikkim (85.7%), Odisha (82.6%), A&N Islands (81.9%), Telangana (81.1%), Dadra & Nagar Haveli (80.8%), Arunachal Pradesh (75.4%), UP (71.4%) and Rajasthan (71.3%)

States/UTs with less than 50% vaccination coverage are Tamil Nadu (34.9%), Puducherry (34.6%) and Punjab (27.9%)

“We are in constant with all these States on a daily basis to address various issues,” he assured.

— Delhu Bureau

New Delhi

Instances of adverse effects from vaccine lowest in India in first three days: Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan claimed said the adverse events following immunisation is 0.18% of the total vaccinations, and  among hospitalised cases is 0.002%, it is the lowest in the world so far in the first three days

“We have an extremely robust system of reporting and management of adverse events following immunisation cases. Every vaccinator team is given a kit to manage adverse events at the site itself. Each vaccination centre is mapped to an adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) manage centre, usually they are medical facilities at the block level,” said Mr. Bhushan

He added: At the district level, there is a district AEFI committee consisting of domain knowledge doctors. At the State level also there is a committee which recently met in UP and Karnataka, where deaths were reported but were found not to be connected to vaccination

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

India ahead of countries like U.K., France in distributing vaccine on first day: Health Secretary

On vaccination roll-out, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Tuesday was the highest first day distribution of vaccines in the world. While in France it was 73, UK: 19,700, US: 79,458, in India it was 2,07,229

Vaccination days wise break-up: Two days per week in Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh; three days per week in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Odisha,

four days in a week in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, J&K, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Ladakh, MP, Maharashtra, Manipur, Puducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal

Five days a week in Mizoram and six days a week in Andhra Pradesh and Lakshadweep

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

Two states with more than 50,000 cases faccount for 60% of all national cornavirus cases: Health Secretary

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan claimed only two States/UTs with more than 50,000 cases contribute 60% of the total national cases. These include: Kerala (68,617) and Maharashtra: 51,887

“Daily new cases are about 10,000 after seven months, the peak of 96,551 was around September 24. Daily deaths are less than 140 after eight months, the maximum of 1,133 daily deaths was reported around Sept 20,” he informed.

According to him, five States account for 72% of total active cases, Kerala: 34.22%, Maharashtra: 25.88%, UP: 4.30%, Karnataka: 4.02% and West Bengal: 3.44%

— Delhi Bureau

New Delhi

4,54,049 individuals immunised so far, cumulative positivity rate now 5.63%: Health Secretary

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan at a press conference said: : “Till today morning, a total of 4,54,049 people have been immunised. Active cases are around 2 lakh after seven months and they are declining. Daily number of deaths less than 140 after eight months and it is also declining. The cumulative positivity rate is 5.63%, while the positivity rate during last week is 1.99%”

According to him, total cases so far are 1.05 crore, while 1.52 lakh deaths have been reported. A total of 18.7 crore tests have been conducted so far. The case per million population stands at 7,668, while death per million population is 110. The case fatality rate (overall) is 1.44% and in the last week it was 1.20%

— Delhi Bureau


Centre issues Letter of Comfort to Bharat Biotech for 45 lakh doses of Covaxin

Bharat Biotech has secured a fresh Letter of Comfort from the Centre for another 45 lakh doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, sources said.

Out of the 45 lakh doses, the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker will be supplying over eight lakh to some of the friendly countries such as Mauritius, Philippines and Myanmar, free of cost as good will gesture sources added.



Covishield not to be taken by people severely allergic to any of its ingredients: Serum Institute

People who are severely allergic to any ingredient of COVID-19 vaccine ‘Covishield’ are advised not to take it, Serum Institute of India said.

According to the fact sheet for the vaccine recipient by the Serum Institute of India, one should not get the Covishield vaccine if the person had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of this vaccine.

The vaccine maker also said that the vaccine recipient should also tell the healthcare provider about all the medical conditions before getting the Covishield vaccine including, “if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after any drug, food, any vaccine or any ingredients of Covishield vaccine”.


New Delhi

India records 10,064 new cases

India reported the lowest number of daily coronavirus infections in over seven months with 10,064 new cases, which took the caseload to 1,05,81,837, while recoveries have surged to 1,02,28,753, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on January 19.

The country’s death toll increased to 1,52,556 as 137 fatalities, the lowest in around eight months, were recorded in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,02,28,753, pushing the national COVID-19 recovery rate to 96.66%, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.44%.


Lakshadweep reports first COVID-19 positive case

The first COVID-19 case was reported in the Lakshadweep Islands on Monday, nearly an year after the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.

The man, belonging to the India Reserve Batallion, had left for Kavaratti by ship from Kochi on January 3 and tested positive on Monday. He is not a resident of the islands, official sources said.

The case was reported two weeks after the Lakshadweep administration revised Standard Operating Procedures by doing away with mandatory quarantine guidelines for those arriving from Kochi.

The islands had so far not reported a single positive COVID-19 case.


Trump’s order on easing travel from much of Europe and Brazil will not stand, says Team Biden

Shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the lifting of coronavirus-related travel restrictions on parts of Europe and Brazil, the incoming Biden administration said it would reverse the move.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order on Monday removing restrictions on air travel for most non-U.S. citizens and permanent residents travelling from the Schengen Area, Ireland, the U.K. and Brazil starting January 26. The restrictions instituted last year were also applied to Iran and China — these were not reversed by the executive order.

Also starting January 26, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said that all those travelling by air into the U.S. will need to show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their flights. These tests will have to be done during the 72-hour window before departure. Mr. Trump’s order cited this and cooperation from the countries on which restrictions were removed as reasons for easing the travel rules.

Tamil Nadu

Schools reopen for classes 10 and 12 in T.N.

Schools across Tamil Nadu reopened for classes 10 and 12 on Tuesday after a gap of nearly ten months, with a host of COVID-19 safety norms in place.

The State government had issued a detailed SoP which covered various health, hygiene and safety aspects on campus, and officials from the School Education Department had briefed institutions to strictly follow them. In many schools on Tuesday, students of classes 10 and 12 had been given staggered entry timings to avoid crowding.



Theatre spaces lift the curtains in Bengaluru, but with caution

The new year has brought good news for Bengaluru’s theatre community, which was mostly dormant in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s prominent theatre spaces, including Ranga Shankara and Jagriti, have resumed, albeit with caution.

Alliance Française de Bangalore (AFB) reopened on January 2 with Theatre For Change’s stage production of renowned playwright Safdar Hashmi’s works. The cultural centre has announced a discount in the rent for its auditorium for cultural events, including theatrical productions. Jagriti staged Not just a half, a collection of anecdotes and monologues about the experience of being a woman. Ranga Shankara’s first show of 2021 included Kannada plays Shraddha and Stainless Steel Paathregalu. According to its founder Arundhati Nag, all shows were sold out.

The managements of the venues are, however, cautious. For instance, only 50% occupancy is allowed, a section of the usual theatre audience is still likely to be wary of live shows, and the performers have to rehearse with physical distancing.

“We sanitise all the seats, we provide hand sanitisers at the entrance, and we don’t let anyone in without a mask,” Ms. Nag lists the precautions being followed at Ranga Shankara. “In our case, we are filling less than half of the seating capacity. The front row is empty because it’s too close to the performers.”


Night curfew lifted in Rajasthan after decline in COVID-19 cases

The Rajasthan government on Monday announced lifting of night curfew in 13 districts and other relaxations in a phased manner following a decline in the number of COVID-19 cases.

After presiding over a review meeting, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that it would be necessary to adhere to the health protocols, failing which the number of infected persons might increase. “No situation should arise where we are compelled to take harsh measures again,” Mr. Gehlot tweeted.

The curfew, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., was imposed in eight districts on November 21, 2020. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Bikaner, Udaipur, Ajmer, Alwar and Bhilwara districts were initially under the curfew, which later got extended to Nagaur, Pali, Tonk, Sikar and Sriganganagar.


Australian Open | Players finding ways to deal with quarantine

With no way out, tennis players in lockdown are figuring out ways to keep themselves fit within the confines of their Melbourne hotel rooms as they prepare for the Australian Open.

72 players are under hard quarantine for 14 days after five positive coronavirus tests were returned from charter flights that brought here almost 1,200 players, coaches, officials and media. That means those players won’t be allowed to leave their hotel rooms or practice for 14 days, creating a two-speed preparation period for the tournament. Others in less rigorous quarantine will be allowed to practice for five hours daily.

Those outdoor sessions started on Monday in Melbourne. A smaller group of players who landed in Adelaide, including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, are also allowed outside to practice under bio-secure protocols.

Responding to unconfirmed reports that Djokovic, an eight-time Australian Open champion, had proposed a list of ideas to change the quarantine conditions for players, Victoria State premier Daniel Andrews said: “People are free to provide lists of demands, but the answer is no.”

New Delhi

Delhi Speaker reiterates promise of free vaccine

The Delhi government is considering doubling the number of COVID-19 vaccination centres in the city and will fulfil its promise of providing free immunisation to the people of the Capital over the coming days, Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said here on Monday.

During a visit to the Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital in Tahirpur, Mr. Goel witnessed the ongoing inoculation drive and also interacted with healthcare workers being administered their first dose of the vaccine. “The government is considering increasing the number of centres to 175. It will also fulfil its promise of providing free vaccine to all people of the Capital soon,” Mr. Goel said.

The Speaker also appealed to those registered for vaccination to arrive at their respective vaccination centres well in time and not to believe rumours about the efficacy of the vaccine.


Ballari resident, who took coronavirus vaccine, died due to heart attack, says Health Dept.

The Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department has said the death of a person on Monday was due to a heart attack. The person had been vaccinated for COVID-19 on January 16.

Following this, the district-level Adverse Effects Following Immunisation (AEFI) met and had a detailed discussion. They concluded that the death was due to “cardio respiratory arrest secondary to acute antereo septal wall MI”. The man, identified as Nagaraju, a resident of Ballari district, was a permanent employee of the Health Department.

A note by the Department said nothing had occurred in the 24 hours after he was vaccinated. He had reported for duty on Monday. He complained of a chest pain around 9.30 a.m. and collapsed. “He was treated immediately and was admitted to the Jindal Sanjeevani Hospital at 11.15 a.m,” the Health Department note stated and added that although the best treatment was provided, he could not be saved. It also added that none of the healthcare workers who took the vaccine had any adverse reactions.

New Delhi

Give vaccine to homeless after front-line workers: CHD

The Centre for Holistic Development (CHD), which works for the rights of the homeless, on Monday appealed to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to include the homeless among the priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination after healthcare and front-line workers.

CHD executive director Sunil Aledia stated that the homeless were among the worst-hit and most vulnerable during the ongoing pandemic and the vaccine could be delivered to the homeless via government-owned and government-approved shelter homes and welfare institutions in Delhi.

New Delhi

Fewer health workers turn up for vaccination in Delhi

Delhi witnessed a dip of 16.7% in the number of healthcare workers turning up for the COVID-19 vaccination on Monday as compared to Saturday, the first day of the drive, when 4,319 beneficiaries were administered the vaccine shot.

A total of 3,598 workers were inoculated against a target of 8,136 on the second day of the drive, according to the data compiled from the 11 districts in the Capital. There are 81 centres in Delhi and the target is about 100 people per centre.

Several officials and hospital authorities said the numbers are less as many healthcare workers want to wait and watch, given the number of COVID-19 cases has dropped considerably.

Andhra Pradesh

CM moots reopening of schools for all students from Feb.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has directed officials to take a decision on reopening of schools for all classes and running classes on a daily basis from the first half of February after a thorough analysis of the situation created by COVID-19. He told them to focus on teaching in English for the 7th class students from the next academic year.

At a review meeting on the functioning of schools on Monday, Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy said the welfare assistants in village/ward secretariats should enquire about the health of students in order to facilitate necessary remedial action.

He said a special mobile application has been designed to monitor the attendance of students in schools. The attendance particulars would be uploaded in the app every day and teachers and parents could check it directly.


Registration of frontline workers to be completed by Jan. 24

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has already begun data entry of the frontline workers, who will be vaccinated in the second phase.

Speaking to reporters here on Monday, BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said the process was likely to be completed by January 24. “The second phase of vaccinations will be taken up following the directions of the State government,” he said.

The vaccinations are being administered since Saturday for the 1.82 lakh healthcare workers. The civic body had covered 65% on Saturday and 58% on Sunday. “A total of 3,569 beneficiaries, including 2,700 in Manipal Hospital alone, were vaccinated on Sunday. We hope to maintain the momentum and improve coverage,” he said.


Resident doctors want to choose vaccine

The Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors (KARD) has written to the Minister for Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education demanding that they should be given a choice to choose a vaccine.

In a letter to the Minister, the officebearers of the association have demanded that house surgeons, postgraduates and super speciality residents of government medical and dental colleges should be provided vaccines that have shown results with respect to safety and efficacy. They have also stated that the vaccines which have got results of phase III should be given.

This comes as doctors in six districts will be given Covaxin, where as other centres in Karnataka have been receiving Covishield. “Before receiving Covaxin, we have been made to take an undertaking stating that the clinical efficacy of Covaxin is yet to be established. The undertaking and the discrepancies in the distribution of the vaccine sounds very suspicious and the resident doctors are very grounded in getting vaccinated,” the letter states.


France, U.K. boost vaccine campaigns, Britain shuts travel corridors

France and Britain on Monday joined a growing list of nations starting mass vaccinations for all elderly citizens as the UK began demanding all arrivals quarantine to try and halt the spread of a new Covid-19 variant.

The French drive aims to cover all people over 75 and comes after Brazil and India, which figure among the worst-affected countries, administered their first jabs over the weekend.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said more than one million vaccinations are being targeted by January and between 2.4 and 4 million by February. France had earlier offered vaccinations to residents of retirement homes and health workers on the frontline.

Britain on Monday extended its own vaccination campaign to people over the age of 70, after first attending to over-80s, and frontline health workers and care givers. Since the innoculation campaign began on December 8, more than 3.8 million people have received a first dose of vaccine in the UK.

New Delhi

Delhi sees 8-month low in new cases

Delhi witnessed 161 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours – the lowest in more than eight months – taking the total number of cases to 6,32,590, according to a health bulletin released by the Delhi government on Monday. This is the lowest number of daily cases since April 30, when 76 cases were reported.

Also, eight more deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to 10,754. A total of 50,523 tests were done in a day.

Of the total cases, 6,19,501 people have recovered and there are 2,335 active cases in the city at present.


Coronavirus deaths rising in 30 U.S. states amid winter surge

Coronavirus deaths are rising in nearly two-thirds of American states as a winter surge pushes the overall toll toward 400,000 amid warnings that a new, highly contagious variant is taking hold.

As Americans observed a national holiday Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pleaded with federal authorities to curtail travel from countries where new variants are spreading. Referring to new versions detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil, Cuomo said: “Stop those people from coming here…. Why are you allowing people to fly into this country and then it’s too late?”

The U.S. government has already curbed travel from some of the places where the new variants are spreading — such as Britain and Brazil — and recently it announced that it would require proof of a negative COVID-19 test for anyone flying into the country.

But the new variant seen in Britain is already spreading in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection has warned that it will probably become the dominant version in the country by March. The CDC said the variant is about 50% more contagious than the virus that is causing the bulk of cases in the U.S.


U.S., China spar over the origins of the coronavirus

The U.S. and China on Monday sparred over the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest in a growing list of tensions that have left relations strained as President Donald Trump leaves office.

In recent weeks, Washington and Beijing have clashed over trade issues, the sanctioning of Chinese companies, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In a reflection of the state of relations, China’s official Xinhua news agency issued a commentary, headlined “Good riddance, Trump administration and its final madness”, hitting out over the sanctioning of six Chinese officials related to Hong Kong.

The latest spat followed the U.S. State Department on Friday releasing a “fact-sheet” linking the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, which brought another sharp response from Beijing.

The fact-sheet said while the U.S. “does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus — known as SARS-CoV-2 — was transmitted initially to humans”, it had “not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China.”

New Delhi

India, China may take lead in Asia’s COVID-19 vaccination plans, says Moody’s Analytics

India and China are expected to take the lead in driving Asia’s vaccination plans efforts, even as third waves of infections and stringent measures to curb fresh COVID-19 cases in Japan, South Korea and some South-East Asian Nations remain a dampener for Asia’s uneven economic recovery, Moody’s Analytics said in a note.

Terming India’s beginning of the vaccination programme a ‘crucial development’ for Asia, the firm said that the country’s advances on this front would soften the severity of the pandemic in Asia, especially as India is the second most-impacted country after the U.S.

“As the largest producer of vaccines in the world, with 60% of the global share, India is well-positioned to use its existing manufacturing capabilities to contribute to mass vaccine production and distribution needs for other countries in addition to meeting its domestic requirements,” the note said.

New Delhi

Covaxin not to be used in cases of allergy, fever, poor immunity

Those with any history of allergies, fever and bleeding disorder, on blood thinners and who are immunity compromised or on medication have been told by COVAXIN manufacturer Bharat Biotech not to take the vaccine.

A statement uploaded on the company website on Monday said the vaccine was also contraindicated for pregnant/lactating women, those using other COVID-19 vaccines and people with any other serious health related issues as determined by the vaccinator/officer supervising vaccination.

The statement comes amidst reports of a slow uptake of the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination in the country that began on January 16.

It said, “There is remote chance that COVAXIN could cause severe allergic reaction including difficulty in breathing, swelling of face/throat/fast heart beat, rash all over the body and dizziness and weakness.’’

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