COVID-19: Death toll keeps climbing; a ray of hope on Potential Vaccine | The Background

Sunday, September 19, 2021

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COVID-19: Death toll keeps climbing; a ray of hope on Potential Vaccine

The Background:

Across the world, total confirmed cases in the COVID-19 pandemic stand at 1,066,706. It has well crossed the million marks now. The death toll is also climbing- 56,767. Total recovered cases, so far, is 223,697.

In India, as per the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, confirmed cases stand at 2322 and number of death is 62. According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine confirmed cases stand at 2567 and the death toll reads 72. 192 patients have recovered so far, according to their data.

Number of confirmed cases in the United States is increasing rapidly- 258,214. Number of death in Italy is nearing 15 thousand now. It is 14,681. But in Spain casualties are increasing fast. The number is 10,935.

In the morning, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on Television and asked the fellow citizens to light candles and switch on their mobile phones for nine minutes on April 5. This announcement has drawn much criticism, anger and ridicule.

The CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury criticised this announcement and said through twitter, India needs more testing. Centre’s protocols have been limiting the tests from the start. This hasn’t helped identify, isolate those infected, defeating the purpose of a lockdown. If we don’t test more, what happens when lockdown ends? Begin large scale tests now. He also tweeted that for a 21-day country-wide lockdown, there was a 4 hour notice. For clapping 2 days, and now for candles a 2.5 days notice. The Centre must act and be accountable on specific points that merit immediate attention.

CPIML-Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya lambasted through a tweet. “After releasing unprecedented sound energy through just 5 minutes of clapping, we are now all set to dispel Corona darkness by lighting torches. If #COVID19Pandemic is unprecedented, so is this #LightAndSound show. Extraordinary crisis calls for extraordinary measures, Mitron”!

Congress party tweeted that and asked the Prime Minister, You’ve asked us to switch off lights & light a candle, we’ll do that, but some questions need to be asked. Doctors & medical staff for whom we clapped deserve personal protection equipment. Their lives matter.

Meanwhile, amidst gloomy news world over, there is a ray of hope. The race for developing a vaccine is on a breakneck speed, which we had reported earlier. And now, scientists from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine announced a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing COVID-19 pandemic.

 Microneedle array, a novel approach to deliver the drug. This array is a fingertip-sized patch of 400 tiny needles that delivers the spike protein pieces into the skin, where the immune reaction is strongest. The patch goes on like a Band-Aid and then the needles — which are made entirely of sugar and the protein pieces — simply dissolve into the skin. Courtesy UPMC

When tested in mice, the vaccine, PittCoVacc, delivered through a fingertip-sized patch, produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be sufficient for neutralizing the virus. The paper was published in EBioMedicine, which is published by The Lancet.

The authors are now in the process of applying for an investigational new drug approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in anticipation of starting a phase I human clinical trial in the next few months.

In India, Bharat Biotech is getting into development and testing of a vaccine against COVID-19 called CoroFlu as part of an international collaboration of virologists and vaccine makers, reports The Hindu. 

CoroFlu is a one drop COVID-19 nasal vaccine built on a flu vaccine “backbone” that has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated in humans, in Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, the Hyderabad-headquartered vaccine maker said.

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