Drones could soon be used for delivering COVID-19 vaccines in remote and hard-to-reach geographies in the country.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex medical research body, has invited expressions of interest from drone operators to “develop a delivery model” using unmanned aerial vehicles for transporting vaccines and medicines.
According to ICMR’s Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, Dr. Samiran Panda, the aim is to develop a model through a pilot project which can be emulated and adopted by State governments for delivery of vaccines. The ICMR has already conducted a feasibility study in collaboration with IIT- Kanpur.
Here are the latest updates:
Assam not to hold school board exams
The Assam Cabinet on Wednesday recommended the cancellation of the Class 10 and Class 12 board examinations.
A final decision would be taken on June 18 at a meeting between the Education Department and various stakeholders.
UK expands COVID-19 vaccination drive to cover all over-21s
Around 1 million people in the UK aged 21 and 22 will begin to be called forward on Wednesday to book their coronavirus vaccine, as the National Health Service (NHS) led COVID-19 vaccination programme expanded the age-based rollout to cover further younger categories.
The latest expansion leaves only 18 to 20 year olds yet to be contacted for their first doses, even as the second doses for all those aged 40 and over and being encouraged to be brought forward as part of efforts to control the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19. The NHS has said that by the end of this week it is expected that all those aged 18 or over would also be able to book their jabs.
“We’re almost at the final hurdle of offering lifesaving jabs to all UK adults, with both vaccines providing the fullest possible protection against symptoms, serious illness and hospitalisation from this awful virus and moving us a step closer to beating this pandemic,” said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock. – PTI
No newborn calf serum in Covaxin final product: Health Ministry
The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday refuted some social media posts on the composition of Covaxin, where it has been suggested that it contains newborn calf serum. It said that newborn calf serum was used only for the preparation/ growth of vero cells. The final vaccine did not contain newborn calf serum, it asserted.
Nagaland extends lockdown till June 30
The Nagaland government on Wednesday further extended the ongoing State-wide lockdown till June 30, a senior official said. The restrictions were scheduled to end on June 18.
“The high-powered committee on COVID-19 headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, in a meeting today, decided to extend the lockdown till June 30,” Government co-spokesperson and advisor Mmhonlumo Kikon told PTI.
Assam relaxes COVID-19 curfew
The Assam government has relaxed the COVID-19 curfew across the State from June 16 barring five districts where the positivity rate has increased.
Government employees who have taken both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have also been asked to attend office from June 17. But the restrictions on inter-district movement would continue till June 22. – Rahul Karmakar
Cases fall below 1,000 in Bengaluru
For the first time after the second wave hit Karnataka in March, Bengaluru Urban reported less 985 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. It was last on March 18 that this district had reported 925 cases.
Overall, the State reported 5,041 new cases of COVID-19, taking the total to 27,77,010. With 115 deaths, the toll rose to 33,148. This is apart from 21 deaths of patients due to non-COVID-19 reasons. As many as 14,785 persons were discharged on Tuesday, taking the total recoveries to 25,81,559. The State now has 1,62,282 active patients. While the positivity rate for the day touched 3.80%, the Case Fatality Rate touched 2.28%.
Covishield dose interval under discussion: NTAGI working group chairman
Discussions are underway whether India should revert to four or eight weeks interval for Covishield vaccine and the emerging evidence regarding efficacy of partial versus full immunisation is also being considered, Chairman of India’s COVID-19 Working Group of NTAGI, Dr. N.K. Arora said.
He stressed that the decision to increase the gap between two doses of Covishield from 4-6 weeks to 12-16 weeks was based on scientific decision and there was no dissenting voice among the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) members.
Standing Committee to discuss COVID-19 vaccine next week
The Standing Committee on Science and Technology headed by Jairam Ramesh will hold a meeting on vaccine development for COVID-19 in a meeting scheduled for June 23.
The committee, sources said, was likely to discuss the vaccine shortage and fewer options in terms of vaccines. The slow roll-out of the vaccines will also be a point of deliberations. So far, India is trailing behind the world, with just 3.5% of the whole population receiving both doses of the vaccine.
The other subject on the agenda is the genetic sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and its variants.
India reports 62,224 fresh cases
A single day rise of 62,224 new coronavirus infections were reported taking India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,96,33,105, while the active cases were recorded below nine lakh after 70 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.
The COVID-19 death toll climbed to 3,79,573 with 2,542 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed The active cases further declined to 8,65,432 comprising 2.92% of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 95.80%.
A net decline of 47,946 cases has been recorded in the COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. – PTI
All applications for Haj 2021 cancelled: Haj Committee of India
The Haj Committee of India on Tuesday announced that all the applications for the pilgrimage this year stand cancelled as Saudi Arabia has stated that only a limited number of people residing in the Kingdom will be allowed to perform Haj due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a circular, the committee said that the Ministry of Haj and Umrah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has issued a statement informing that due to coronavirus pandemic conditions it has decided to allow citizens and residents inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia only to attend Haj this year in limited numbers and international Haj has been cancelled.
“Hence it has been decided by the Haj Committee of India that all the applications for Haj-2021 stands cancelled,” the circular signed by Haj Committee of India’s Chief Executive Officer Maqsood Ahmed Khan read. – PTI