COVID-19 in India Today: Vaccination, Oxygen and Infection

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Vaccination of 18-plus begins in MP

A campaign began in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday to vaccinate people above 18 years. The vaccination of people between 18-44 years was scheduled to begin from May 1 but due to non-availability of vaccines, the drive was postponed to Wednesday.

Archana Mundir, Deputy Director of Madhya Pradesh Health Information, Education Communication (IEC) Bureau, informed that vaccination is being done in a phased manner in the state as per the availability of vaccines. Individuals who have just completed 18 years are eligible for vaccination. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday are the days fixed for vaccination.

For the vaccination process, the beneficiaries have to enter their registered mobile number on the Co-WIN portal following which an OTP of six digits will appear on their mobile phones. After submitting the OTP, the beneficiary’s details will appear from which one has to select the nearest vaccination centre and book the time slot for getting vaccinated. Photo ID would be required for registration such as Aadhaar card, PAN card, driving license etc.

Maharashtra’s first ‘drive-in’ vaccination centre starts giving jabs

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday launched Maharashtra’s first ‘drive-in’ vaccination centre at the multi-storey Kohinoor Parking Lot near the Shivaji Park in Dadar.

The drive-in facility is for senior citizens, specially-abled, expectant mothers and other citizens who are not able to wait in queues at vaccination centres, said a civic official.

The facility has a capacity to give the jabs to around 5,000 people per day in seven booths, of which two have are kept aside for the drive-ins, and has proved to be an instant hit.

More than 200 people drove down to the drive-in vaccination centre on Tuesday, got their jabs, and waited the mandatory 30 minutes in their vehicles before driving out.

“Drive In facility for 45+ specially-abled. BMC G-North Ward has started a new vaccination centre at Kohinoor Parking Lot for citizens coming for their 2nd dose of Covid vaccine,” the BMC said in a statement.

Two local BMC Corporators Vishakha Raut and Preeti Patankar, both of the ruling Shiv Sena, had demanded such a facility for the people in both their wards – Shivaji Park and Dadar – after the BMC decided to start vaccination centres in each corporators’ ward for public convenience.

For the ongoing vaccination, those using it would pay the regular parking charges of Rs 60/hour but avail a hassle-free jab in the safety and comfort of their own vehicles as per the Covid-19 protocols, said the official.

Interestingly, last year, the Kohinoor Parking Lot was utilised for conducting mass RT-PCR tests and proved immensely popular as it afforded physical distancing, adequate ventilation and accommodate a large number of people simultaneously.

Fresh stock of Covid-19 vaccine arrives in Chennai

With shortage of Covid-19 vaccines reported in Tamil Nadu, about two lakh doses of Covishield and 75,000 vials of Covaxin arrived here on Tuesday.

The additional stock arrived here following a request by the state government to the Central government.

The daily Covid-19 infection rate has gone up to about 20,000 in Tamil Nadu and the demand for vaccination from the people is good.

Rs 15 Crore still needed to take IISc’s vaccine studies further

The Covid-19 pandemic has not just battered the healthcare sector, but it has also resulted in financial crisis across sectors.

Mynvax, a startup incubated by the Society of Innovation and Development (SID) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), is trying to develop a vaccine which could be effective for a large number of strains, according to the institute’s website.

IISc’s website also said that the project requires around Rs 15 crore to carry out further studies like creating first generation vaccine candidate in four months, production technology in next eight months and initiate phase-1 human clinical trial in 12 months.

“The goal is to develop a rapidly producible vaccine for protection to front-line health workers, senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” IISc said.

With critical, catalytic funding and support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a number of spike protein derivatives have been designed and characterised at IISc.

“These are being tested in animal models through the IISc incubated start-up, Mynvax. The design which shows the best results in animals will be advanced to development of production technology, safety and toxicity testing, followed by GMP manufacturing for use in Phase-1 clinical trials,” the research team of Mynvax said.

The immunisation with a vaccine should provide significant protection to individuals at high risk of aggravated illness upon contracting the infection.

“Previous studies have shown that antibodies against the spike glycoprotein found on the surface of the earlier 2003 SARS-CoV virus inhibit viral infection in cell culture, and confer protection against infection in animal models. Hence, we and others are attempting to design and test variants of the spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2 as vaccine candidates,” the team further said.

Mynvax estimates that at least 100 million doses will be required to meet India’s requirement if the SARS-CoV-2 infection persists for the medium to long-term.

It was founded by Raghavan Varadarajan, a professor at IISc’s Molecular Biophysics Unit, and Gautham, a biotech entrepreneur, in 2017 to develop novel recombinant vaccines to fight the human influenza virus.

Delhi received Oxygen amid severe shortage in the city

Amid shortage of Oxygen for the Covid infected patients admitted in the hospitals, the national capital received 555 metric tonnes of Oxygen on Tuesday.

AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said Delhi government received 48 SOS calls regarding oxygen shortage and cylinders not being refilled, and they were addressed.

Second Oxygen Express returns to Hyderabad from Odisha

The second Oxygen Express carrying 60.23 tonnes of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) in four tankers on Tuesday reached Hyderabad from Odisha.

The train reached Sanathnagar Goods Complex, from where the empty tanks were sent on April 29.

The oxygen was transported from Odisha’s Angul for a distance of 1,334 kms in a short period of around 31 hours, with the train travelling at an average speed of 43 kmph from its starting station, the South Central Railway said.

To ensure that the train reaches the destination at the fastest possible time, the Railways have created a green corridor route for uninterrupted and fast movement of these oxygen special trains.

Further, as LMO is a cryogenic cargo, transportation of the tankers by Railways was carried out taking into consideration like limitations with regard to maximum speed at which it can be carried, maximum acceleration, and deceleration. In addition, route mapping was done so as to ensure that the movement of tankers by railways is smooth with regard to curves, adequate height clearance along the route of ROBs, RUBs, FOBs, etc.

Indian Railways have initiated operating Oxygen Express trains across the country, during these critical times, to provide safe, secure, hassle-free and fast transportation of oxygen to the different parts of the country. These trains are operated at the request of the state governments. Accordingly, both the Oxygen Express trains from Telangana were operated in both directions (empty & loaded condition) from Hyderabad area to Odisha.

SCR General Manager Gajanan Mallya complimented the officials for focused action in running the Oxygen Express trains and prompt delivery of the LMO without any delay. He advised all the divisions to be attentive and proactive to meet the needs of running the Oxygen Express trains.

The first Oxygen Express for Telangana with five tankers loaded with 124.26 tonnes of LMO had reached Hyderabad on Sunday.

Railways delivers 1,585 MT LMO, 6 more Oxygen Expresses on way

The Indian Railways on Tuesday said that 27 Oxygen Express trains have completed their journey, delivering more than 1,585 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) in 103 tankers to various states.

A Railway Ministry official said that overcoming all hurdles and finding new solutions, the railways is continuing its journey of bringing relief by delivering LMO.

“So far, railways has delivered 1,585 MT of LMO in 103 tankers to various states across the country,” he said, adding that 27 Oxygen Express trains have already completed their journey and six more loaded Oxygen Express trains are on the way, carrying 463 MT of LMO in 33 tankers.

Two more Oxygen Express to Delhi carrying more than 244 MT LMO are on its way from Hapa and Mundra and are expected to reach Delhi on Tuesday itself, the official said.

With this, Delhi would see nearly 450 MT of LMO provided in 24 hours beginning early hours on May 4.

According to the official, of the total 382 MT of LMO being delivered by Railways on Tuesday, nearly 244 MT was meant for Delhi, which is nearly 64 per cent of total load.

The official also said that Telangana also received its second Oxygen Express from Odisha’s Angul carrying 60.23 MT LMO.

“Lucknow will receive 79 tonnes from Oxygen Express from Bokaro,” he said.

The official highlighted that the Railways has delivered more than 1,585 metric tonnes LMO to six states – Maharashtra (174 MT), Uttar Pradesh (492 MT), Madhya Pradesh (179 MT), Delhi (464 MT), Haryana (150 MT), and Telangana (127 MT).

Himachal CM thanks Centre for oxygen plants

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Tuesday thanked the Centre for approving six pressure swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plants to the state.

With them, the total sanctioned oxygen plants rose to 13.

He said the plants would be set up in Palampur, Mandi, Rohru, Khaneri, Nahan and Solan towns. This would ensure adequate oxygen supply to about 1,400 beds.

Thakur said the Union government has also sanctioned seven oxygen plants for Dharamsala, Mandi, Shimla, Chamba, Nahan, Hamirpur and Tanda towns. Out of these plants, oxygen production has started in Dharamsala, Mandi and Shimla.

The Chief Minister said once fully functional the 13 plants would ensure adequate oxygen supply.

DRDO starts installing 5 medical O2 plants in Delhi, Haryana

In order to tackle the requirement of medical oxygen in the wake of the raging second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has started installing five medical oxygen plants in Delhi and Haryana.

Four such plants are being installed in Delhi at AIIMS Trauma Centre, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML), Safdarjung Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College, while the fifth plant is being installed at AIIMS Jhajjar in Haryana.

As per the schedule, two of these plants reached Delhi on Tuesday and are being installed at the AIIMS Trauma Centre and RML Hospital.

These have been supplied by Trident Pneumatics Pvt Ltd, Coimbatore, which is the technology partner of DRDO. The company has been given an order for 48 plants, while an order for 332 plants have been placed with the Tata Advanced Systems Limited the delivery of which will start from mid-May, the DRDO said.

The delivery schedule is being monitored very closely to ensure that the plants are installed on time. The sites are being prepared at each hospital where the plants will be installed.

These medical oxygen plants are designed for a flow rate of 1,000-litre per minute (LPM). The system can cater to 190 patients at a flow rate of 5 LPM and charge 195 cylinders per day.

The medical oxygen plant (MOP) technology has been developed by the DRDO based on the OnaBoard Oxygen Generation for LCA Tejas.

These plants will overcome the logistics issues of oxygen transportation and help the Covid-19 patients in emergency.

“The CSIR has also ordered 120 MOP plants through its industries,” the DRDO stated.

2 killed in blast at oxygen plant in Lucknow

Two people died and two others got seriously injured after an oxygen cylinder exploded during the refilling process here on Wednesday, police said.

The incident took place at an oxygen plant in the Chinhat area of the city, Station House Officer (SHO) Dhananjay Pandey said, adding efforts were on to ascertain the identity of the victims, who died on the spot.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath took cognizance of the incident and expressed grief over the loss of lives.

Andhra officials worried as new strain suspected behind Covid spike

With Andhra Pradesh reeling severely under the Covid-19 crisis, health officials suspect that the N440K variant, discovered by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), might be the reason behind the rapid deterioration of the health conditions of Covid patients in the last few days, in Visakhapatnam as well as other parts of the state.

The new Covid variant, named as the AP strain, which was identified in Kurnool district, is believed to be 15 times more deadly and stronger than other Indian variants.

The Visakhapatnam district health authorities are closely monitoring the developments.

“We are yet to confirm, which strain is in circulation right now, as samples have been sent, for analysis,to CCMB. But one thing is certain that the variant, currently in circulation in Visakhapatnam, is quite different from what we have seen during the first wave last year,” Visakhapatnam District Collector V. Vinay Chand said.

Experts said that as compared to the first wave experienced last year, this year, the virus can be acquired through a shorter exposure.

The net result is that more people can end up getting infected in a lower time frame.

According to a senior health official in the district, earlie, a Covid patient would reach the hypoxia or dyspnea stage, in about a week. However, in the current scenario, patients are reaching the serious condition stage in barely three to four days.

Experts are especially concerned about the highly unpredictable nature of the AP variant.

“The younger generation is being majorly affected. Not everyone responds to the treatment too.” the official adds.

Apart from the overall sense of panic, the net effect of the possible new Covid strain is evident in the growing demand-supply gap for beds with oxygen, and ICU beds.

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Arushi Sana is the Co Founder of NYK Daily. She was a Forensic Data Analyst previously employed with EY (Ernst & Young). She aims to develop a global community of knowledge and journalism par excellence through this News Platform. Arushi holds a degree in Computer Science Engineering. She is also a Mentor for women suffering from Mental Health, and helps them in becoming published authors. Helping and educating people always came naturally to Arushi. She is a writer, political researcher, a social worker and a singer with a flair for languages. Travel and nature are the biggest spiritual getaways for her. She believes Yoga and communication can make the world a better place, and is optimistic of a bright yet mysterious future!

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