India recorded 36,652 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the country’s tally to 96,08,211. The toll rose to 1,39,700 with 512 more deaths, while the number of active cases stood at 4,09,689. So far, 90,58,822 people have recovered from the disease in the country.
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus. The 67-year-old leader has been admitted to the Civil Hospital in Ambala. Vij, who is also the state’s Health Minister, was one of the participants in the phase three trial of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine.
Soon after Vij’s announcement, Hyderabad-based biotechnology company Bharat Biotech issued a clarification that the efficacy of its vaccine could be determined only 14 days after a second dose, ANI reported. “Covaxin clinical trials are based on a two-dose schedule, given 28 days apart,” it said in a statement. “The phase-3 trials are double-blinded and randomised, where 50% of subjects [participants in the trial] receive vaccine and 50% of subjects receive placebo.
The Union Health Ministry also said that Vij only took the first dose of the vaccine, according to IANS. “The antibodies against the infection build up in a human being only after a specific number of days pass after the second dose of the vaccine is taken,” it said in a statement. “Since, this is a two-dose vaccine. The minister in question has taken only one dose of the vaccine.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an all-party meeting on India’s coronavirus situation. He said experts believed that a coronavirus vaccine could be available for roll out in the next few weeks.
“As soon as scientists give a green signal, the vaccination process will begin in India,” he said, adding that frontline healthcare workers and those with comorbidities would be given priority during the vaccination process. He said eight vaccine candidates were being manufactured in India and three were being developed indigenously. Following the all-party meet, the Congress said that the Centre has no roadmap for vaccinating the poor.
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research said that it has tested 14,58,85,512 Covid-19 samples so far, including 11,57,763 on Friday.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 6.58 crore people and killed over 15.18 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Over 4.23 crore people have recovered from the infection.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday noted that the positive results from several vaccine trials mean the world “can begin to dream about the end of the pandemic”, according to AP. However, he cautioned rich countries from not trampling poor nations and added that “the path ahead remains treacherous”.
Here are other top updates from across the world
- Bahrain approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, AFP reported. It is now the second country after the United Kingdom to approve the drug.
- World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that the body hoped to have half a billion doses of vaccines ready to be distributed by the Covax initiative in the first quarter of 2021, according to Reuters. The Covax initiative aims for equitable distribution of the vaccine and is backed by the WHO. As many as 189 countries have joined it so far. “The goal is to get at least 2 billion doses by end of 2021 which will be enough to vaccinate 20% of the populations of countries that are part of COVAX,” Swaminathan said.
- US President-Elect Joe Biden said Americans would not be forced to take the vaccine even as he added that he would be open to get inoculated publicly to easy safety concerns, PTI reported. “I don’t think they [vaccine] should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory, but I would do everything in my power just like I don’t think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide,” Biden said.
- Tedros praised former US presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton as well as Biden for volunteering to take a coronavirus vaccine on camera if it will help promote public confidence, and said that he would also be willing to do so, AFP reported. “It’s a good idea... I think it’s very good that they already have shown their commitment. They can influence,” he said. “They are influencers.”