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ICMR may allow COVID-19 testing of babies born to coronavirus positive women: Report

There is increasing evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted from the mother to the foetus

August 28, 2020 / 10:45 AM IST
Representational picture

Representational picture

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) plans to allow COVID-19 testing of babies born of mothers who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The move comes amid growing evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from  COVID-positive mother to her foetus.

A task force set up under the ICMR and the joint-monitoring group led by the Directorate General of Health Services discussed the matter at a meeting on August 26 and decided to broaden criteria for COVID-19 testing, the Economic Times reported.

"It was decided to include children in the testing basket as it has been seen that children born to COVID-positive mothers are more likely to be infected. A rapid antigen test can be carried out," ET stated, quoting a person who attended the meeting.

Moneycontrol could not independently verify the repot.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The decision is likely to help mothers and newborns' battle against COVID’s. In India, children as young as 8-day-old have died due to the COVID-19 infection. According to UNICEF estimates, an estimated 20 million mothers and newborns will receive pregnancy and newborn care in India in the nine-month-period following declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNICEF estimates.

Moreover, the highest numbers of births in the nine months since the pandemic was declared are expected to take place in India, where 20.1 million babies are projected to be born between March 11 and December 16, 2020.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry on August 27 recommended that all tuberculosis patients be tested for the novel coronavirus. In a document titled 'Guidance Note on Bi-directional TB-COVID Screening and Screening of TB Among ILI/SARI Cases', the Health Ministry noted that tuberculosis is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe coronavirus infection.

Reported active COVID-19 cases in India now stand at 7,42,023. As many as 25,83,948 COVID-19 patients have been cured and discharged so far. The death toll in India due to the pandemic has risen to 61,529. Total confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen to 33,87,500, according to the latest update from the Union Health Ministry.

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Moneycontrol News
first published: Aug 28, 2020 10:45 am