COVID-19: Death toll crosses 80 thousand; India amid row of exporting drug | The Background

Saturday, October 16, 2021

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COVID-19: Death toll crosses 80 thousand; India amid row of exporting drug

The Background:

There are 508 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours in India, taking the total to 4,789 while the death toll is 124. The growth rate of infection is a bit slower compared to Monday. So far, India has been able to avoid a big surge in cases. With the lockdown coming to an end next week, there is ample anxiety throughout the country.

Across the world the death toll has crossed 80 thousand now. The latest figure is 80,759. Number of confirmed cases is 1,407,123.

Meanwhile, India has agreed to lift an export ban on hydroxychloroquine, a drug a possible cure for Covid-19, despite lack of proof. It will allow limited exports of this anti-malaria drug, to “nations that have been badly affected” by the pandemic, the government said today. Earlier US president Donald Trump made comments about “retaliation” if India declined to ship the medicines.

News Agency ANI tweeted, “I spoke to him (PM Modi), Sunday morning & I said we appreciate it that you are allowing our supply (of Hydroxychloroquine) to come out, if he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be okay, but of course, there may be retaliation, why wouldn’t there be?” US Pres Donald Trump.

India, which supplies more than a quarter of the world’s generic drugs, had last month restricted exports of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them to ensure enough domestic stocks amid rising COVID-19 cases. The government said India would export hydroxychloroquine and the pain-reliever, paracetamol, on a case-by-case basis to countries which have already placed orders for them after meeting the domestic requirements.

Hydroxychloroquine which treats auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus – has also attracted attention over the past few decades as a potential antiviral agent.

However in an article in the Medical journal Lancet, it has been warned that the drug can have dangerous side effects if the dose is not carefully monitored.

Opposition parties in India has criticised the move.

The CPIM tweeted, “Govt’s capitulation to Trump’s brazen blackmail undermines the vital concerns in our battle against the #COVID19 pandemic. CPIM Politburo demands that this decision is rescinded in the supreme interest of our people’s health and safety.” It has also issued a statement.

Search for COVID-19 cure continues

The discovery of a possible weak spot in the coronavirus has buoyed the search for therapies and vaccines. Scripps Research reported on Friday that a specific area of the virus could be vulnerable to drugs.

The spot “is a possible Achilles heel”, said Ian Wilson, the biologist who led the team that made the finding. This area is crucial in the spread of the pathogen, and its chemical composition indicated a vulnerability, giving rise to hopes that drugs could target the area. Scripps scientists also believe the discovery could also help develop a vaccine, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Cover photo- Getty Images

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