Positive cases in India keep on rising; in China number of patients under treatment fall below 100 | The Background

Monday, November 29, 2021

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Positive cases in India keep on rising; in China number of patients under treatment fall below 100

The Background:

 The number of positive coronavirus cases reported from India stands at 85,760 and the death toll is 2,753. Globally, more than 4,508,435 infections have been reported, with at least 3, 05,395 fatalities. Maximum number of death is reported from the United States, where 86,744 deaths have been reported so far.

The number of patients undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in China has fallen below 100 for the first time since January. Meanwhile, Wuhan- the epicentre of the pandemic- launched a massive drive to test all its 11 million residents, to detect asymptomatic cases, officials said on Friday.

In India, more detail about the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus packages has come up.  Finance Ministser Nirmala Sitharaman today spoke about measures targeted at agriculture and allied sectors. The steps announced may yield positive results as and when they are faithfully implemented but it remains unclear how they would be of immediate help in alleviating the distress in the farm sector because it largely relies on the migrant workers. Here are highlights:

  • The government will amend the Essential Commodities Act to deregulate food items, including cereals, edible oil, oilseeds, pulses, onion and potato. The amendment, besides deregulating production and sale of food products, will provide for no stock limit to be imposed on any produce.
  • A Rs1 lakh crore agri-infrastructure fund for farm-gate infrastructure to be set up. It will be used for building cold chains and post-harvest management infrastructure.
  • The Centre will establish a legal framework that will enable farmers to engage with processors, aggregators, large retailers, and exporters in a fair and transparent manner.
  • A Rs10,000 crore scheme for formalisation of micro food enterprises (MFE) will be launched to help 2 lakh MFEs.
  • A Rs15,000 crore Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund will be set up to support investment in dairy processing, value addition, and cattle feed infrastructure.
  • As much as Rs10,000 crore will be provided for fishermen through Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).
  • For promoting herbal cultivation, a Rs 4,000 crore National Medicinal Plants Fund will be started. It will help bring 10 lakh hectares under herbal cultivation.
  • For beekeepers, Rs 500-crore scheme for infrastructure development and post-harvest facilities.

The government of India is getting another loan of $1 billion from the World Bank to support its COVID-19 relief measures. The money will also be used for reforms in social security, making it more integrated, portable, and focussed on the urban poor. Last month the bank had approved $1 billion to support the health sector.

Meanwhile, researchers are working furiously to test a wide variety of potential COVID-19 treatments. Those therapies span the gamut of complexity, from familiar generic medications such as the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, to experimental small molecules like remdesivir, which was previously trialled against the Ebola virus. Scientists are also exploring antibody treatments that tamp down the body’s immune response when it becomes destructive, which happens in some critically ill coronavirus patients. And if the history of infectious disease is any guide, it will take a combination of drugs — each with a distinct, even if relatively minor, impact on the disease — to tame the novel coronavirus, reports Nature.

Each treatment will face different challenges when scaling up production, says Stephen Chick, who studies health-care management at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. “If it’s successful and the technology is then adopted, you need to be prepared to deliver,” says Chick. “And if you’re not, you’re in trouble.”

Cover photo: Production of remdesivir, an antiviral drug approved to treat COVID-19, is ramping up. Getty image

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