Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing Chief Ministers online on Thursday, April 8, 2021, pointed out that during the last year when the pandemic first hit, the country was facing challenges of not having either enough testing labs, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, ventillators and oxygen. Intensive testing, testing 100% in well-defined micro containment zones, tracing at least 30 contacts of every positive case and ensuring that all eligible people were vaccinated was the strategy required, Mr. Modi said.
“Now, at least we have the experience and access to these resources when we take on this second wave,” he said.
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Australia restricts AstraZeneca shot, doubles Pfizer order
Australia has doubled its order of the Pfizer Inc COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, April 9, 2021, as the country raced to overhaul its inoculation plan over concerns about the risks of blood clots with the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine.
Until late Thursday, Australia based its vaccination programme largely on AstraZeneca shot, with an order for 50 million doses – enough for the required two shots for its entire 25 million population – to be made domestically by biopharma CSL Ltd.
But Australia has now joined a host of countries in restricting use of the vaccine due to clotting concerns. Local health authorities have changed their recommendation to say the country’s nearly 12 million people aged under 50 should take the Pfizer product instead.
As a result Australia has doubled an earlier Pfizer order to 40 million shots, enough for four-fifths of the population, which would be delivered by the end of the year, Morrison said. The policy change to Pfizer effectively ending plans to have the entire population vaccinated by the end of October.
“It is not a prohibition on the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra after a national cabinet meeting to discuss the virus response. For those who are over 50, there is a strong encouragement to be taking this AstraZeneca vaccine.”
Health Secretary Brendan Murphy called the policy change “highly precautionary” given the low rates of possible adverse effects associated with the AstraZeneca shot. “I’ve had it, I’d have it again, I’d recommend it to any member of my family,” Murphy said.
More than a dozen countries have at one time suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but most have resumed, with some, including France, the Netherlands and Germany, recommending a minimum age.
Man caught with 12 Remdesivir injections in Mumbai
A 22-year-man was caught with a dozen 12 vials of Remdesivir, a key medicine in treatment of coronavirus, here, police said on Friday. With Maharashtra witnessing a spurt in COVID-19 cases, Remdesivir injections are in high demand in the state.
Fatalities after vaccine
180 deaths following vaccination reported in India
According to a presentation made to the National AEFI Committee during a meeting held on March 31, there have been 617 severe and serious (including deaths) adverse events following immunisation (AEFI). As on March 29, a total of 180 deaths (29.2%) have been reported following vaccination across the country. Complete documentation is available only for 236 (38.3%) cases.
With no stock, all vaccination centres in Navi Mumbai to remain shut today
Twenty-five out of the 84 COVID-19 vaccination centres in Raigad district and 37 out of the 41 such centres within the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) limits were shut on Thursday, owing to the lack of stock of vaccine doses.
Only 3,780 doses were available for Thursday’s vaccination. “For Friday, the remaining stock would be meagre with hardly 10-50 doses available at each centre, which is capable of administering the jab to 100 people. The turnout of beneficiaries is good but unfortunately the supply has gone low. There is a chance of more centres being shut on Friday,” Raigad Collector Nidhi Choudhary said.
South Korea orders closure of nightclubs, karaoke bars
South Korea will reimpose a ban on nightclubs, karaoke bars and other nightly entertainment facilities, authorities said on Friday, April 9, 2021, after the number of new coronavirus cases surged, fanning fears over a potential fourth wave of outbreaks.
New Indian variant
Indian ‘double mutant’ strain named B.1.617
The ‘double mutant’ virus that scientists had flagged last month as having a bearing on the spread of the pandemic in India, has a formal scientific classification: B.1.617. Other than a place on the coronavirus’s evolutionary history, it also brings focus on the role the variant may be playing in the pandemic, which is now seeing nearly 100,000 fresh infections daily and a conflict between the Centre and some States on the availability of vaccines.
The variant is common in India — how much in every state though is unclear — and has a couple of defining mutations, E484Q and L425R, that enable them to become more infectious as well as evade antibodies. Though these mutations have individually been found in several other coronavirus variants, the presence of both these mutations together have been first found in some coronavirus genomes from India.
SII refunds South Africa for undelivered COVID-19 vaccines
The Serum Institute of India has fully refunded South Africa for the 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, which were not delivered to the country after it decided not to use the vaccine because it was not effective against a new variant of the virus.
A million doses from the institute, which had already been delivered, have been sold on to other countries in the African Union.
“Treasury has confirmed that the Serum Institute of India has fully refunded us for the remaining 500,000 doses that had not been delivered to South Africa and the money is already in our bank account,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said at a televised media briefing on Thursday.
(With inputs from our Correspondents and agencies)