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New Corona Cases Lowest in Three Months, Oxford Vaccine Experiment Encouraging

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Oct 27: After continuously showing downward trend for the last few days, for the first time in three months India’s new COVID-19 cases has come down to 36.470  on Tuesday, just marginally higher than 34,884 cases recorded on July 18. Only 488 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours.

A statement issued by the union health ministry said “with a high number of COVID patients recovering every day and the sustained fall in the mortality rate, India’s steady trend of registering dipping active cases continues.”

In another positive for the country, the active cases have drastically declined to 6.25 lakhs, constituting only 7.88 per cent of the total cases registered. Of the total active cases, more than 35 per cent have come only from 18 districts including the mega cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, while 76 per cent of the new cases have been recorded in 10 states and union territories which had remained the worst affected from the beginning. Kerala and West Bengal have contributed the maximum to the new cases with more than 4,000 cases each. Maharashtra, Karnataka follow with more than 3,000 new cases.

“These encouraging outcomes are the result of a collaborative, focussed and effective implementation by States/UTs under the Centre’s strategy of comprehensive and consistently high countrywide testing, prompt and effective surveillance and tracking, quick hospitalization and effective adherence of the Standard Treatment Protocol issued by the Union Government. This success also owes to the selfless service and dedication of doctors, paramedics, frontline workers and all other COVID-19 warriors across all parts of the country,” the statement said.

The slide in active cases in supplemented by an exponential rise in the recoveries. The total recovered cases have crossed 72 lakhs (72,01,070). This has widened the gap between active cases and recovered cases and stands at 65,75,213 on Tuesday.

As many as 63,842 patients have recovered and discharged in the last 24 hours. The national Recovery Rate has further grown to 90.62%. Maharashtra is leading with more than 9,000 single day recoveries followed by Karnataka with more than 8,000 recoveries.

Along with steady decline in the number of positive cases, the human experiments of the Corona vaccine developed by the Oxford University has also brought about encouraging results, particularly for the elderly.  According to a spokesman of the British drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, which has the contract to manufacture the vaccine, it triggers lower adverse responses among the elderly as well as young adults,

In the given pandemic situation in the world, a vaccine that works is seen as a game-changer in the fight against the disease that has taken more than 1.15 million lives and shattered the world economy people’s normal lives world over.

Even though a volunteer experimenting on the vaccine died in Brazil, presumably due to its adverse reaction, the AstraZeneca spokesman said, “It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher.”

AstraZeneca did not say when it would publish eagerly awaited late-stage phase III trial data, which would show whether the vaccine works well enough in large scale trials for it to be approved.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be one of the first from big pharma to secure regulatory approval, along with Pfizer and BioNTech’s candidate.

The news that older people get an immune response from the vaccine is positive because the immune system weakens with age and older people are those most at risk of dying from the virus.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said a vaccine was not yet ready but he was preparing logistics for a possible roll out mostly in the first half of 2021.

Asked if some people could receive a vaccine this year he told the BBC: “I don’t rule that out but that is not my central expectation.”

The work on the Oxford University vaccine had begun in January. The viral vector vaccine is made from a weakened version of common cold virus that causes infections in chimpanzees.

Immunogenicity blood tests carried out on a subset of older participants echo data released in July which showed the vaccine generated “robust immune responses” in a group of healthy adults aged between 18 and 55.

AstraZeneca has signed several supply and manufacturing deals with companies and governments around the world as it gets closer to reporting early results of a late-stage clinical trial.

It resumed the U.S. trial of the experimental vaccine after approval by U.S. regulators. A London hospital has been told to be ready to receive the first batches of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, some media reports said.