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Covid-19 - Devastating Second Wave in India - Updates and Discussion

Dalit

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MUMBAI, April 17 (Reuters) - India reported a record daily increase of 234,692 COVID-19 infections over the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Saturday.

It was the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days.

Total cases reached nearly 14.5 million, second only to the United States which has reported more than 32 million infections.

India's deaths from COVID-19 rose by 1,341 to reach a total of 175,649, the data showed. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Kim Coghill)

It is imploding. Modi sarkaar is now in COVID damage control.

LOL

Kumbh Mela should now only be symbolic to strengthen Covid-19 fight', says PM Modi

Amid a huge number of people testing positive from the Kumbh Mela area in Haridwar, PM Modi on Saturday morning urged that the Kumbh Mela "should now only be symbolic" amid rising Covid-19 cases. PM Modi stressed that it will give a boost to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.


How are the RSS sanghis going to respond to this?
 
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FuturePAF

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I can’t find the video right now, but there was a quote by Bill Gates, who’s foundation has done a lot of work in public health in India, said he was glad the pandemic first appeared in China instead of India. The logic was the limitations of the Indian healthcare system wouldn’t be able to handle the burden. Unfortunately, it looks like the pandemic is surging in India.

The fatigue over this pandemic is real, but without sustained effort and vigilance not only will the virus spread but mutate into a potentially more contagious variant.
 

CAPRICORN-88

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It never ran out of control as it was never in control in the first place.

Modi Government has placed and depended too much in herd immunity.
 

Maira La

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When Muslims had some small gathering early last year when people barely knew about covid, they called it corona jihad and started killing Muslims.

Now you have these mega Hindu events with millions of crowds aka super spreader events in the midst of the pandemic. Can we call it hindu corona super jihad?
 

Dalit

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Indian coronavirus variant has potential to ‘scupper’ lockdown easing, says professor of immunology

India should be placed on the UK’s “red list” for travel after the discovery of a new coronavirus variant, according to a leading scientist.

Prof Danny Altmann, from Imperial College London, said it was “mystifying” and “confounding” that those flying in from the country were not required to stay in a hotel.

He warned that the Indian mutation of the virus could “scupper” the UK’s path to further easing of restrictions, despite the lockdown and vaccine programme leading to cases falling to a seven-month low.

Public Health England reported that 77 cases of the B.1.617 variant, which was first discovered in India, have been found. The first were detected in specimens dating back to February, the Guardian reported on Friday.

Officials have designated the new strain a variant under investigation rather than a variant of concern, such as the Manaus (Brazilian) or South African variants.

However, Altmann said he suspected it would be escalated to a variant of concern as, like the South African variant, it holds properties that allow it to evade the coronavirus vaccines currently on offer, and because it is more transmissible, similar to the Californian version of Covid.

“I think we should be terribly concerned about it,” the professor of immunology told the BBC.

“[Variants of concern] are things that can most scupper our escape plan at the moment and give us a third wave. They are a worry.”

India is not on the government’s “red list” for travel, which refuses entry into the UK to people who have been in those countries in the previous 10 days.

British and Irish nationals, or people with UK residency rights, are able to return from red-list countries but must isolate in a quarantine hotel for 10 days.

A Downing Street spokesperson said the government’s red list of travel ban countries was “under constant review” when asked why India did not feature on it.

They added that Boris Johnson’s trip to India – his first major international visit since securing a Brexit trade deal with Brussels – was “still happening later this month”.

It was announced earlier this week that the trip would be “slightly shorter” than the initial four days planned, with most of the meetings expected to be shoehorned into a single day.

Prof Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said coronavirus variants were unlikely to set lockdown easing back to “square one” because immunity gained from vaccines “won’t just disappear”.

He said he expected a “gradual erosion” of vaccine protection as the virus evolved but not enough to “scupper” the prime minister’s roadmap.

He told Times Radio: “We’ve all expected evolution of this virus to occur from the start. I also think that we know from other viruses and previous experience that the immunity that vaccines give won’t just disappear.

“It will be a gradual erosion. It won’t be back to square one. I would be really surprised if that happened. So, I think, possibly, that interpretation is a bit pessimistic.”

India recorded a daily increase of 217,353 infections on Friday, the country’s second record in consecutive days, pushing its total since the pandemic began past 14.2m.

It comes amid a continuing decline in coronavirus infections across Britain.

About one in 480 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to 10 April – the lowest figure since the week to 19 September last year, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Infection rates in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland followed a similar trend of depreciating numbers, the data showed.

India continues to record over 200,000 new COVID-19 cases per day

India registered 234,692 new COVID-19 cases, the third consecutive day that the country reported over 200,000 new cases, taking the total tally to 14,526,609, said the data released by the federal health ministry on Saturday.

Besides, as many as 1,341 people died since Friday morning, as the total death toll rose to 175,649.

There are still a total of 1,679,740 active cases in the country, with an increase of 109,997 active cases through Friday, as 12,671,220 people have been cured and discharged from hospitals so far across the country.

The COVID-19 figures continue to peak in the country every day, as the federal government has ruled out imposing a complete lockdown to contain the worsening situation. While some school examinations stand cancelled, others have been postponed in the wake of COVID-19 situation.

As a precautionary measure the national capital Delhi is witnessing a weekend curfew beginning Friday night, till Monday morning.

The number of daily active cases has been on the rise over the past few weeks. In January the number of daily cases in the country had come down to below-10,000. As many as 9102 new cases were reported between January 25-26, which was the lowest in the previous 237 days.

India’s nationwide vaccination drive was kicked off on Jan. 16. So far over 119.93 million people have been vaccinated across the country.

Meanwhile, the federal government has ramped up COVID-19 testing facilities across the country, even as over 264 million tests have been conducted so far.

As many as 264,972,022 tests were conducted till Friday, out of which 1,495,397 tests were conducted on Friday alone, said the latest data issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday.

The national capital Delhi, which has been one of the most COVID-19 affected places in the country, witnessed nearly 19,500 new cases and 141 deaths through Friday.

So far as many as 11,793 people have died in the national capital due to COVID-19, confirmed the Delhi’s health department.

 

Dalit

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As India’s daily tally of Covid-19 infections surge by a record 200,000-plus cases for three consecutive days, public health experts worry that a new — possibly more virulent — coronavirus variant could be racing through the crowded nation of more than 1.3 billion people.

The new variant, which has a so-called double mutation, is thought to be fueling India’s deadlier new wave of infections that has made it the world’s second worst-hit country, surpassing Brazil, and has already begun to overwhelm its hospitals and crematoriums. The Asian nation has reported more than 14.5 million Covid cases so far and more than 175,600 fatalities.

“This is a variant of interest we are following," Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead officer on Covid, told reporters Friday. “Having two of these mutations, which have been seen in other variants around the world, are concerning," she said, adding that there was a similarity with mutations that increase transmission as well as reduce neutralization, possibly stunting the ability of vaccines to curb them.

The new strain underscores the insidious nature of viruses and threatens to thwart containment efforts in India, despite stringent measures such as the world’s largest lockdown last year. An exploding outbreak in India risks undoing a hard-won victory over the pathogen for others too, especially as this strain has now jumped to at least 10 other countries.

Here’s what we know so far:

How did the “double mutation" variant emerge?

The new variant, called B.1.617, was initially detected in India with two mutations -- the E484Q and L452R. It was first reported late last year by a scientist in India and more details were presented before the WHO on Monday, according to Van Kerkhove.

Viruses mutate all the time, as part of evolutionary biology. Some mutations weaken the virus while others may make it stronger, enabling it to proliferate faster or cause more infections.

India’s health ministry first acknowledged the presence of such a “double mutant" at the end of March, but has downplayed it since. While it’s a variant of interest, it “has not been stamped as a ‘variant of concern’ so as to say that it is more lethal or more infectious," Aparna Mukherjee, a scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, which works under the nation’s health ministry, told Bloomberg TV on Friday.

The double mutation has been found in several countries like Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Namibia, New Zealand, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S., according to an April 16 statement from the Indian government. “Higher transmissibility of this variant is not established as yet," it said.

Is it causing the record surge in infections in India?

Genome sequencing indicates the variant as a possible culprit although the Indian government hasn’t confirmed it.

The average prevalence of the variant surged to as high as 52% of samples sequenced in April from almost nothing in January, according to website tracker outbreak.info, which uses data from global repository GISAID.

In some districts in Maharashtra state -- home to the nation’s financial hub Mumbai and epicenter of the current wave that’s currently under lockdown-like rules -- the prevalence of this variant was more than 60%, according to Anurag Agrawal, director of the state-run Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s genomics institute that’s conducting sequencing. The B.1.617 was present in samples from about 10 Indian states and while the percentage may vary, it was expected to rise as “it has two critical mutations that make it more likely to transmit and escape prior immunity," Agrawal said.

Both mutations are known to decrease -- although not completely eliminate -- the binding of the antibodies created by infection and vaccination, according to Jesse Bloom, an associate professor for genome sciences and microbiology at the University of Washington.

“Mutations at sites E484 and L452 have been observed separately, but this is the first major viral lineage that combines the two," said Bloom. “I do think that this new viral variant is important to monitor."

“We did the math -- we do believe that a lot of the increase in the reproduction number can be explained by these mutations," Nithya Balasubramanian, the head of health care research at Bernstein India, told Bloomberg TV this week. “So, yes, the mutations are a big cause for worry."

After being complacent in mapping virus genomes in recent months -- India did sequencing for less than 1% positive samples as of last month -- the country is now scrambling to cover lost ground. “We are attempting to do at least 5% of whatever samples are there," said ICMR’s Mukherjee.

“It looks like that it is spreading faster than pre-existing variants," said Rakesh Mishra, the Hyderabad-based director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology -- another Indian lab doing genome sequencing of Covid samples. “Sooner or later, it will become prevalent in the whole country, given the way it is spreading."

Has it been found outside India?

This variant has been detected in at least 10 other countries, including the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, according to the situation report on outbreak.info.

As of April 16, 408 sequences in the B.1.617 lineage have been detected of which 265 were found in India, the report shows. A surveillance report by the U.K. government said it has found 77 cases in England and Scotland so far, designating it as a “Variant Under Investigation."

New Zealand has temporarily suspended arrivals of its citizens and residents from India due to the spike in the number returning with Covid. Brazil was also shunned as a Covid superspreader by its neighbors who were nervous about the virus strain next door.

India’s second wave -- given its size and rapid pace -- will worry other nations that have just about managed their own outbreaks after weeks of economy-devastating lockdowns.

Is it deadlier than other variants out there?

Researchers are still trying to figure that out. The features of the double mutant variant are under investigation, but the L452R mutation is well characterized in U.S studies, according to Agrawal. It increases viral transmission by around 20% and reduces antibody efficacy by more than 50%, he said.

Globally, three worrisome variants that have so far emerged in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil have caused particular concern. Studies suggest they are more contagious, and some evidence points to one of them being more deadly while another drives reinfections.

This double mutant strain, first found in India, has begun troubling virologists everywhere.

“The B.1.617 variant has all the hallmarks of a very dangerous virus," William A. Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard Medical School wrote in Forbes on April 12. “We must do all that is possible to identify its spread and to contain it."

Do vaccines work against it?

It’s hard to know for sure without adequate data and research. India is testing whether the new variants, including the B.1.617, are capable of “immune escape or not," according to ICMR’s Mukherjee.

Immune escape refers to a pathogen’s ability to evade human bodies’ immunity response. This means antibodies created after vaccination or prior infection may not protect a person from getting infected. If the new India variant shows “immune escape" behavior, this would have deep ramifications for India’s vaccination program, which has picked up after a sluggish start and administered almost 120 million doses so far.

India has currently authorized three vaccines. Two of them are already in use while the third, Russia’s Sputnik V, was approved this week. India also fast-tracked approval for foreign vaccines this week. All of these efforts risk being jeopardized if the shots turn out to be less effective against this double mutation variant.

“It is one of the ones that’s on our radar, and in doing so, it means it’s on the radar of people around the world," said Van Kerkhove.

Not only India is in big trouble, but the whole world is. RSS pandits have intentionally spread the corona virus by amassing during holi festival.

@Salmanov Your Indian friends are in trouble. Anything to say?
 

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