India Launch “Tika Utsav” Amidst Record Surge in New Cases

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 11: Amidst yet another new record of highest daily Coronavirus cases with India topping 1,52,879 Covid-19 cases and 839 deaths in the last 24 hours on Sunday, the country initiated the four-day special “Tika Utsav” (Vaccine Festival) as announced by the prime minister Narendra Modi to give a fillip to the vaccination drive.

As the situation becoming grim on the Coronavirus front, the centre imposed a ban on the export of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir of which the country was experiencing acute shortage. In an order, the government said it has banned export of Remdesivir injection and Remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) till the pandemic situation in the country stabilises.

“India is witnessing a recent surge in Covid cases. As on April 11, there are 11.08 lakh active Covid cases and they are steadily increasing. This has led to a sudden spike in demand for injection Remdesivir used in treatment of Covid patients. There is a potential of further increase in this demand in the coming days,” the government said in a statement.

Seven Indian companies are producing Remdesivir under voluntary licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences, US. They have an installed capacity of about 38.80 lakh units per month.

To ensure more people can get Remdesivir, the government said manufactures of Remdesivir have been asked to show on their website the details of their stockists and distributors.

Drugs inspectors and other officers have been asked to verify stocks, check any malpractice and stop hoarding and black marketing.

“The Department of Pharmaceuticals has been in contact with the domestic manufacturers to ramp up the production of Remdesivir,” the government said.

The National Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19 lists Remdesivir as an investigational therapy, where informed and shared decision making is essential.

“The states and UTs (Union Territories) have been advised that these steps should again be communicated to all hospitals, both in public and private sector, and compliance monitored,” the government said.

While the union health ministry claimed that India was fastest to complete vaccination of 10 crore people, several states continue to complain of acute shortage of vaccine stock and have started closing down several vaccination centres for non-availability of the shots.

As Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala governments have reported to be running low on vaccine stocks and several opposition parties drew Modi’s attention towards the “urgent need for vaccine universalisation and vaccine nationalism,” the prime minister in a statement on Sunday morning made a four-point appeal to the people asking each person to help another person vaccinate, take safety measures and help with Covid treatment.

“We’re going to begin ‘Tika Utsav’ today nationwide. I urge countrymen to abide by 4 things – assist those who need help getting inoculated, help people in COVID treatment, wear masks & motivate others & if someone tests positive, create micro-containment zone in the area,” Modi said on Sunday.

“In the event of somebody testing positive for Corona, the society should lead in the creation of a ‘Micro Containment Zone’, he said. Even if there is a single positive case, the family and the society should create a ‘Micro Containment Zone’,” Modi said.

Overall, the country has vaccinated 10 crore people. Eight states — Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala — account for 60.62 per cent of the doses.

Modi had suggested to take the massive vaccination drive as a “festival” (Tika Utsav) apparently to help people shed inhibitions about inoculation and help people eligible for vaccination to get immunised during the period. He made the announcement during his meeting with the chief ministers on Thursday saying, “We should vaccinate as many eligible people as possible and target zero vaccine wastage”.

Even as the Maharashtra government was grappling with the problem of massive surge in cases and was contemplating total lockdown for a brief period in the entire state, the union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the Maharashtra, Punjab and Chhattisgarh governments over reports submitted by Central Health teams regarding Covid-19 testing, hospital infrastructure, healthcare workforce and vaccination, asking the states to take suitable corrective measures.

In the national capital, the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal while describing the situation as “very serious” with 10,732 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, asked the people not to go out of their homes unless its urgent and use face masks and sanitisers. He said his government does not want to impose lockdown. “I believe lockdown is not a solution to deal with COVID-19. It should only be imposed if the hospital system collapses,” he said.

India on Sunday reported 1,52,879 new Covid-19 cases and 839 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Union Health Ministry. The total number of cases in the country now stand at 1,33,58,805 and the death toll has risen to 1,69,275. There are 11,08,087 active cases at present while as many as 1,20,81,443 people have recovered from the disease. At least 10,15,95,147 people have been administered the Covid-19 vaccine.

The union health ministry said five states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala cumulatively accounted for 70.82 per cent of India’s active COVID-19 cases which have breached the 11-lakh mark for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic. India’s total active caseload has increased to 11,08,087 and it now comprises 8.29 per cent of the country’s total infections. A net increase of 61,456 cases has been recorded in the total active caseload in a span of 24 hours. Maharashtra alone accounts for 48.57 per cent of the total active caseload of the country, the ministry said.

Sixteen states — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab and Kerala — are displaying an upward trajectory in daily new cases.

Daily deaths continue to show an upward trend with 839 fatalities being reported in a span of 24 hours. Ten states accounted for 86.41% of the new deaths, the ministry said. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties (309) and Chhattisgarh followed with 123 daily deaths.

Ten states and UTs have not reported any COVID-19 deaths in a span of 24 hours. These are D&D & D&N, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Arunachal Pradesh.

As India opened up vaccination on April 1 for everyone above 45 years, Maharashtra, now reporting a shortage of vaccines at several sites, had administered 31.74 lakh doses in the first nine days of Phase 3. This was a staggering 96.39 percent increase compared with the preceding nine-day period, scrutiny of official data reveals.

Significantly, the increase in Maharashtra was higher than the national trend — which stood at 89.48 percent for the same period. This exponential increase in the state at the beginning of Phase 3 indicates that the sudden increase in the demand for vaccine as the cases started surging up was a key reason behind certain vaccination centres facing a shortage of stock in the state.

Meanwhile, the Congress party’s Srivilliputhur constituency candidate in the April 6 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, P S W Madhava Rao died on Sunday due to COVID-19 complications, his family said. Rao was 63 years old and is survived by his only daughter. He died at a private hospital in Madurai this morning where he was admitted on March 20 for treatment, Rao’s son-in-law, K Rajiv said. In case, the deceased win the elections when the counting is taken upon May 2, the seat would have to be declared vacant and a by-election held.


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