New Delhi: The Union health ministry said Friday that the lockdown had helped India slow down Covid-19 transmission. The number of coronavirus cases is doubling every 6.2 days now, against three days before the lockdown, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said at his daily briefing.
The “doubling rate” of Covid-19, Agarwal added, is closely monitored by the health ministry as it helps determine the strategy to be implemented in states.
However, he didn’t mention the exact dates that the ministry used for this calculation — whether the doubling rate was three in the days before the lockdown began on 25 March, or before it was extended 14 April.
According to the ministry, 1,007 fresh cases of coronavirus and 33 deaths have been reported since Thursday, taking India’s total tally to 13,835 cases and 452 deaths. As many as 1,766 coronavirus patients have been discharged or cured so far, the ministry said.
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States with lower doubling rate than India’s average
Nineteen Indian states and union territories, the ministry said, had a lower doubling rate than the national average. These are Kerala, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Bihar, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Assam, Tripura, and Jammu & Kashmir.
Agarwal added that there had also been a 40 per cent reduction in the growth factor, that is, the rate at which new cases are found each day. It has been 1.2 from 1 April onwards, down from 2.1 between 15 and 31 March.
“This is despite the fact that there has been increased testing and even influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illnesses (SARI) are being tested,” he said.
Vaccines, drugs and diagnostics under study
While India received a consignment of 6.5 lakh rapid diagnostic kits from China just this week, Agarwal said work was underway to develop indigenous innovations that can diagnose Covid-19 in 30 minutes.
India, he added, was also working on sequencing the virus to help identify mutations and epidemiological patterns.
Listing the steps being taken by India to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, Agarwal said researchers at various institutes were studying the impact of TB and leprosy vaccines on coronavirus.
Among treatments, Agarwal also cited India’s work in the area of convalescent plasma therapy — transfusing plasma from a recovered person to a sick patient to equip them with antibodies to fight the infection — as well as monoclonal antibodies, which entails the introduction of laboratory-manufactured antibodies.
A scientific task force, he said, was also looking at “repurposed drugs”, apart from the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, that have been used in other countries, like the antivirals favipiravir and umifenovir.
“We will domestically manufacture these drugs, if they are proven effective,” Agarwal said.
India, he added, was also participating in the international solidarity trial, which is aimed at finding an effective treatment for Covid-19 and seeks to test hydroxychloroquine, the “experimental” remdesivir, a combination of HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, among others.
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