India on Tuesday registered 10,584 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,10,16,434. Seventy-eight more deaths pushed the country’s toll to 1,56,463.

The number of active cases stood at 1,47,306, while the number of recoveries reached 1,07,12,665. As many as 1,17,45,552 health care and frontline workers have been vaccinated against the coronavirus so far. Of these, 6,28,696 were inoculated on Monday.

India is using two vaccines, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute in Pune, and a government-backed vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech whose efficacy is not entirely yet known.

However, the pharmaceutical firm’s Chairperson and Managing Director Krishna Ella said the interim data on the efficacy of the vaccine will be available in two weeks, The Mint reported. “We moved so fast, but unfortunately we missed the efficacy timepoint,” Ella said on Monday. “Had we done the [phase] 2/3 combined, we would have captured efficacy faster. But anyhow, we should be coming out with efficacy in two weeks with the efficacy point data.”

Amit Shah reviews situation amid rise in cases

After registering a downward trend for days, India is once again witnessing a resurgence of cases, though they are concentrated in a few states. Five states – Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Punjab – registered 86.3% of the 14,199 new coronavirus infections that were reported in India on Monday, according to data from the Union health ministry. Maharashtra reported 6,971 cases, followed by Kerala (4,070), Tamil Nadu (452), Karnataka (413) and Punjab (348).

In the backdrop of this, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation in the country in terms of preparedness to handle the rise in infections and the steps needed to expedite the ongoing vaccination drive, reported PTI. The review meeting was also attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and other top officials of the two ministries.

Meanwhile, Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Rakesh Mishra said there are more than 7,000 coronavirus mutations in India, of which, some could pose a serious risk, PTI reported. Mishra, however, added that not every mutation becomes a variant.

State updates

  1. An apartment complex in Bengaluru, Karnataka was sealed and declared a containment zone after 10 residents tested positive for coronavirus, NDTV reported. The cases in the colony, which has about 1,500 residents living in nine blocks, were found between February 15 and 22, the city’s civic agency commissioner N Manjunath Prasad said in a statement. Based on the findings, six contagious blocks have been declared as containment zone.
  2. Jodhpur city in Rajasthan on Tuesday imposed prohibitory orders till March 21 to contain the spread of Covid-19, reported the Hindustan Times. While gathering of four and more people has been prohibited in public places, for public gatherings such as marriages, only 100 people will be allowed. Essential services and schools and colleges will, however, remain open.
  3. Manipur made coronavirus testing mandatory for flyers from Maharashtra and Kerala from Wednesday onwards, reported the Hindustan Times.
  4. Uttarakhand has issued an order to make the tests mandatory for people arriving in the state from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh amid a surge in coronavirus cases there.
  5. The police in Maharashtra’s Amravati city urged the residents to follow coronavirus protocol. “I request the citizens of the city to stay at home and co-operate with us,” Amravati Police Commissioner Aarti Singh told NDTV. “There should be no unnecessary movement of the public otherwise there will be strict action.”

Global updates

  1. The coronavirus has infected 11,17,09,452 people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 24.73 lakh people have died of the infection. The number of recoveries has gone up to 6,30,03,355.
  2. The toll in the United States crossed 5,00,000, a number that all but matches the number of Americans killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined, according to AP. The US recorded an estimated 4,05,000 deaths in World War II, 58,000 in the Vietnam War and 36,000 in the Korean War. The country has reported over 2.81 crore infections so far.
  3. United States President Joe Biden held a sunset moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House on Monday and ordered American flags lowered at federal buildings for the next five days. “We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow,” Biden said. “We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur.”
  4. The first shipment from India under COVAX, the global initiative to ensure rapid and equitable access to coronavirus vaccines for all countries, is likely to roll out this week, WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said, reported AFP. 
  5. The World Health Organization has agreed a no-fault compensation plan for claims of serious side effects in people in 92 poorer countries due to get coronavirus vaccines via the COVAX sharing scheme, Reuters reported.
  6. Data from the Public Health England has shown the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech reduces the risk of catching infection by more than 70% after a first dose, reported AFP. That risk is reduced by 85% after a second dose. The public health body’s study also showed that hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 is reduced by over 75% in those who have received a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to the analysis.