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India to soon participate in WHO 'solidarity trial' for developing potential COVID-19 drugs: Govt

"We are soon likely to participate in the WHO solidarity trial for developing potential drugs for COVID-19. Earlier we did not do it because our numbers were small and our contribution would have looked minuscule," Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR, said.

March 27, 2020 / 05:49 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

India is soon likely to participate in the WHO's "solidarity trial" for developing potential drugs for COVID-19, officials said on Friday. At a press briefing on coronavirus at 4 pm, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said 75 new cases of coronavirus and four deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours.

"We are soon likely to participate in the WHO solidarity trial for developing potential drugs for COVID-19. Earlier we did not do it because our numbers were small and our contribution would have looked minuscule," Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR, said.

Agarwal said that a PSU has been ordered to provide 10,000 ventilators while Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has been requested to purchase 30,000 additional ventilators in one-two months amidst a shortage of the machines in the country.

Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), said that states and union territories (UTs) have been requested to make arrangements for food, water and sanitation for migrant labourers. Hotels and rented accommodation should stay open and functional.

She, however, ruled out any plan to ferry stranded migrants from across cities or states, saying that the whole idea of a lockdown was to ensure no movement of people from their present places.

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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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Agarwal also said that keeping in mind that hospital OPDs are being shut, the government has issued national telemedicine guidelines.

"This facilitates the process wherein doctors sitting at their homes can provide services to the patients. We urge and request citizens to take advantage of it and doctors to utilise this," he said.
PTI
first published: Mar 27, 2020 05:45 pm

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