Coronavirus LIVE: Two-day vaccine dry run to begin in four states on Monday

Coronavirus India live updates: India reported 18,574 new Covid-19 infections on Saturday, according to Worldometer, taking the total count to 10,188,392. The death toll mounted to 147,659 with 280 new fatalities. Total discharged cases stands at 9,760,848.

The central government is planning a dry run for administering the Covid-19 vaccine in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Punjab next week as a prep before the actual inoculation. Seperately, the Delhi Police geared up for Covid-19 vaccination and directed all its personnel to register their mobilephone numbers. The personnel will be informed about the date, time and place of vaccination as the inoculation drive begins.

World coronavirus update: The global tally of coronavirus cases stands at 80,675,745, and a total of 1,761,185 have lost their lives. Meanwhile, the new strain of the coronavirus has been detected in eight European countries, the WHO regional head said, adding that agency is monitoring the situation.

Follow LIVE UPDATES here


Europe rolls out 'new weapon' vaccines in bid to slay Covid

Europe launched a mass Covid-19 vaccination drive on Sunday with pensioners and medics lining up to get the first shots to see off a pandemic that has crippled economies and claimed more than 1.7 million lives worldwide.
"Thank God," 96-year-old Araceli Hidalgo said as she became the first person in Spain to have a vaccine at her care home in Guadalajara, near the capital Madrid.
"Let's see if we can make this virus go away." In Italy, the first country in Europe to record significant numbers of infections, 29-year-old nurse Claudia Alivernini was one of three medical staff at the head of the queue for the shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
"It is the beginning of the end ... it was an exciting, historic moment," she said at Rome's Spallanzani hospital.
The region of 450 million people is trying to catch up with the United States and Britain, which have already started vaccinations using the Pfizer shot.
The European Union is due to receive 12.5 million doses by the end of the year, enough to vaccinate 6.25 million people based on the two-dose regimen. The companies are scrambling to meet global demand and aim to make 1.3 billion shots next year.
The bloc has secured contracts with a range of drugmakers besides Pfizer, including Moderna and AstraZeneca , for a total of more than two billion vaccine doses and has set a goal for all adults to be inoculated during 2021.
With surveys pointing to high levels of hesitancy towards the vaccine in countries from France to Poland, leaders of the 27-country European Union are promoting it as the best chance of getting back to something like normal life next year.

France's new coronavirus infections up as vaccine roll out begins

The French health ministry reported 8,822 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Sunday, sharply up from Saturday's 3,093 as the country, in unison with most of the EU, started its vaccination programme.
France's cumulative total of cases now stands at 2,559,686, the fifth highest in the world.
The seven-day moving average of new infections, which averages out weekly data reporting irregularities, stands at 12,333, an 11-day low.
The death toll was up by 173, at 62,746.

Delhi records 757 fresh Covid-19 cases; positivity rate 1%

Delhi recorded 757 fresh Covid-19 cases and 16 more fatalities due to the disease on Sunday, even as the positivity rate stood at 1.01 per cent, authorities said.
The city's infection tally mounted to 6,22,851 and the death toll reached 10,453, they said, adding that over 75,210 Covid-19 tests were conducted on Saturday.
On Monday, 803 coronavirus cases were reported. A total of 939 cases were recorded on Tuesday and 871 on Wednesday.
However, 1,063 cases were reported on Thursday. The number again dropped to 758 on Friday and 655 on Saturday, the lowest in over four months.
The 757 fresh cases on Sunday came out of the 75,210 tests conducted the previous day, including 40,742 RT-PCR tests and 34,468 rapid antigen tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.
On August 17, the national capital had recorded 787 Covid-19 cases. The city had reported 652 coronavirus cases on August 16.
The tally of active cases in the national capital dropped to 6,713 on Sunday from 6,921 on Saturday.
The highest single-day spike in the city till date -- 8,593 cases -- was reported on November 11.

Guidelines for New Year celebrations will be issued on Dec 28: Karnataka Minister

The Karnataka government will issue guidelines for new year celebrations on December 28, to prevent further spread of coronavirus, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Sunday.
Addressing media, Bommai said, "The guidelines will be issued tomorrow (Monday). The objective is to avoid huge congregation of people at public places giving room for coronavirus to spread rapidly."
To a query, the minister said organising large parties at public places will be prohibited.
The state, which has witnessed substantial reduction in the Covid-19 cases, is on the guard following the emergence of new variant of the virus in Britain.

477 passengers from Europe and Middle East isolated in Mumbai

A total of 477 out of the 868 passengers who landed in Mumbai from Europe and the Middle East on December 26 have been quarantined in Mumbai, an official said on Sunday.
These 868 passengers landed from 11 international flights, he said.
"Out of the 868 passengers landed on Saturday from Europe and the Middle East, 477 passengers were quarantined in Mumbai while 385 were sent to other states. Six passengers were exempted from (institutional) quarantine," the official added.
As per the revised guidelines issued by the Mumbai civic body in view of the emergence of a new coronavirus variant in the UK, all passengers arriving from England, Europe and the Middle East will have to stay in quarantine for 14 days.
India has already suspended flights to and from the UK.
As per the amended Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) issued earlier in the day, travellers will be kept under institutional quarantine after arrival and RT-PCR test will be conducted on the seventh day from the arrival at the respective hotels, institutional facilities at their own coast.

Gujarat: 12 returnees from UK test coronavirus positive

A total of 12 out of the 1,720 passengers who reached Gujarat from the UK and other European countries between November 25 and December 23 have tested positive for coronavirus, the state government said on Sunday.
Samples of these patients --11 of who tested positive between December 9 and 23 -- have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and the Gandhinagar-based Gujarat Biological Research Centre to determine whether they were carrying the mutated Covid-19 strain found in England, an official release said.
Results are expected in the next 8 to 10 days, it added.
Passengers reaching Gujarat from the UK between December 21 and 23 were subjected to RT-PCR test at various airports.
"Accordingly, the state health department started the process of testing passengers arriving from the UK and other European countries. Out of the 572 passengers who reached here between November 25 and December 8, one tested coronavirus positive.
"Additionally, out of the 1,148 passengers who returned from these countries between December 9 and December 23, 11 tested positive in RT-PCR testing. While four of them are from Ahmedabad, two each are from Vadodara, Anand, and Bharuch. One passenger was from Valsad," it said.
These patients have been shifted to various hospitals for treatment, the release said.

Cold chain doubts delay Covid-19 vaccinations in some German cities

Germany's coronavirus vaccination campaign faced delays in several cities on Sunday after temperature trackers showed that about 1,000 of the shots made by BioNTech and Pfizer may not have been kept cold enough during transit.
"When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements," the district of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany's largest state Bavaria said in a statement.
Medical staff found that the temperature in one vaccine transport cool box had risen to 15 degrees Celsius, a spokesman for Lichtenfels said, above the maximum of 8C stipulated by the manufacturers.
BioNTech was not immediately available for comment. Pfizer referred Reuters to its German partner for comment on the issue.
The vaccine, which uses new so-called mRNA technology, must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of about -70 degrees Celsius (-112°F) before being shipped to distribution centres in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.
Once out of ultra-low temperature storage, the vaccine must be kept at 2C to 8C to remain effective for up to five days. The cool boxes designed by Pfizer are fitted with GPS trackers so the companies can deal with potential storage issues en route.
The spokesman for Lichtenfels said 1,000 shots had been affected by the temperature issue and that the city and the districts of Coburg, Kronach, Kulmbach, Hof, Bayreuth and Wunsiedel in northern Bavaria were waiting to hear from BioNTech about whether the vaccine could still be used.

Haryana records 362 fresh Covid-19 cases, 9 more deaths

Haryana's COVID-19 tally mounted to 2,60,907 on Sunday with 362 fresh cases, while the death toll climbed to 2,874 as nine more people succumbed to the disease, the state health department's daily bulletin said.
Gurgaon reported 71 new cases, Faridabad 48, Ambala and Panchkula 36 each, among other districts.
The number of active cases in the state stands at 4,268. So far, 2,53,765 people have been discharged after recovery and the state has a recovery rate of 97.26 per cent, according to the bulletin.

63 fresh Covid-19 cases in Chandigarh, no new death reported

Chandigarh on Sunday reported 63 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the infection count to 19,486, according to a medical bulletin.
No death was reported due to the disease on Sunday and the death toll stands at 315.
The city has 361 active COVID-19 cases, as per the bulletin.

Covid-19 vaccine dry run in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday

A dry run of the coronavirus vaccination programme will be held in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh on Monday.
Andhra Pradesh is one of the four states chosen by the Centre to carry out end-to-end dry run for COVID-19 vaccination on December 28.
The state government picked up Krishna district for the dry run, where it will be carried out in five locations, according to Health Commissioner Katamaneni Bhaskar.
"The dry run is aimed at testing the planned operations and the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination in the state. It will provide insights into any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the actual drive," Bhaskar said on the eve of the programme.

Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should be effective against new variant: Report

The coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca should be effective against the highly transmissible new strain of the virus, a UK media report said on Sunday.
The Oxford vaccine, which also has a tie-up with the Serum Institute of India, is expected to win approval in the UK before Thursday, speeding up the provision of the jab to the most vulnerable groups.
The first priority is to vaccinate the 12 to 15 million people who would need hospitalisation if they caught COVID. Approval for the AstraZeneca vaccine would mean we are well on course to do that by the spring, a senior government official was quoted by The Sunday Times as saying.

France starts vaccine shots as part of a Europe-wide rollout

France started its first coronavirus vaccinations Sunday at a nursing home northeast of Paris, in one of the country's poorest regions, as part of a Europe-wide vaccination rollout.
A 78-year-old woman identified only by her first name, Mauricette, was given Frances first vaccine shot in the town of Sevran. Later in the day, vaccinations will be given at the Champmaillot home in Dijon.
Polls suggest that people in France are a bit skeptical of the new vaccines, so Frances government has been cautious in its messaging and is not making the vaccines obligatory. The government hopes to be able to vaccinate up to 27 million of its 67 million people by summer.

MP: 61 Assembly staff, 5 MLAs test Covid-19 positive on eve of session

On the eve of the three-day session of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, 61 employees and officials of the Assembly secretariat and five MLAs have tested coronavirus positive.

Protem Speaker of MP Assembly Rameshwar Sharma told this to reporters on Sunday.
"As many as 61 employees and officials of the state Assembly secretariat have tested coronavirus positive so far. Besides, five MLAs were also found infected as per the reports received till now," he said, after taking stock of the preparation for the session that begins from Monday.

The employees and officials, who have tested positive for the infection, will not be allowed entry into the House and the legislators can participate in the session virtually, he said.

Ladakh reports 39 fresh coronavirus infections; caseload at 9,394

Thirty-nine more people tested positive for the coronavirus in Ladakh, taking the infection count in the Union Territory to 9,394, officials said on Sunday.
Ladakh has so far recorded 126 COVID-related deaths -- 83 in Leh and 43 in Kargil -- while 9,050 patients or 96 per cent of the total cases have recovered from the infection in the UT.
The officials said 31 of the fresh cases were detected in Leh and eight others in Kargil during the past 24 hours.

Odisha records 303 fresh coronavirus, 4 more fatalities

Odisha's Covid-19 tally on Sunday mounted to 3,28,504 after 303 more people tested positive for the infection, while four more fatalities pushed the toll to 1,861, a senior health department official said.
Of the 303 cases, 172 were reported from various quarantine centres, and 131 detected during contact tracing.

Odisha currently has 2,841 active cases, while as many as 3,23,749 people have recovered from the infectious disease.

Gujarat: Over 750 volunteers get Covaxin first dose in phase 3 trial

Over 750 volunteers have been administered the first dose of Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine 'Covaxin' as part of its phase-3 trials at a city hospital, and none of them have experienced any side effects so far, a senior doctor said on Sunday.
Bharat Biotech is developing Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Virology (NIV).
The phase-III trials of the vaccine are being conducted at Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad.

India to play key role in vaccine rollout around the world: Pharma industry

With vaccine rollout beginning in some countries, the world ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic is looking to India for the large-scale production and supply of coronavirus vaccines as it enters 2021.
As the pandemic hit the world in 2020, Indian pharma industry rose to the occasion and was able to manufacture and maintain supply chains even during the lockout period, and exported medicines such as HCQ and paracetamol to more than 150 countries, keeping its image of 'Reliable Pharmacy of the World'.

"India contributes 60 per cent of the vaccine production to the world. India is going to play a vital role in equitable distribution of vaccines around the world," Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) Secretary General Sudarshan Jain told PTI.

48 new Covid-19 cases, 1 death in Puducherry

The Covid-19 tally in the Union territory of Puducherry rose to 37,995 with the addition of 48 new cases, while one more fatality took the toll to 631, the government said on Sunday.

As many as 43 patients were discharged from various hospitals in the last 24 hours ending 10 am on Sunday, taking the cumulative recoveries to 37,005.

There were 359 active cases in the union territory, Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao said.

European Union nations kick off mass Covid-19 vaccinations

European Union nations on Sunday officially kicked off a coordinated effort to give Covid-19 vaccinations to adults among their 450 million citizens, marking a moment of hope in the continent's battle against the worst public health crisis in a century.
Shots were administered Sunday morning to the most vulnerable people. health care workers who take care of them, and some politicians to reassure the public that the vaccinations are safe.
The vaccines, developed by Germany's BioNTech and American drugmaker Pfizer, started arriving in EU countries on Friday. The EU has seen some of the world's earliest and hardest-hit virus hot spots, including Italy and Spain.
Others EU countries, like the Czech Republic, were spared the worst early on only to see their health care systems near collapse in the fall.

Germany reports 13,755 new Covid-19 cases

Germany reported 13,755 new coronavirus cases oon Sunday, bringing the national tally to 1,640,858, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
The nationwide death toll rose by 356 to 29,778, Xinhua news agency reported citing the RKI data.
Germany reported its first case of the new Covid-19 variant on December 24.

Hyderabad set to emerge as global hub for Covid-19 vaccine in 2021

As the world is set to brace for a new year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the city is poised to emerge as a 'saviour' from the killer virus, with as many as five vaccine manufacturing firms based here racing to bring out an antidote. The vaccine development process by Bharat Biotech, Biological E Ltd and Aurobindo Pharma are currently in various stages, while Dr Reddy's and Hetero have tie ups for manufacturing the vaccine.
Some of these companies have also drawn up plans to scale up their vaccine manufacturing capacities.
Besides vaccine makers, the International Airport here has also stepped up the cold-chain infrastructure for vaccine transportation.
GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GHAC is in talks with various stakeholders towards meeting specific requirements of export and import of COVID-19 vaccines.
A recent visit of over 60 envoys to vaccine manufacturing facilities of Bharat Biotech and BE establishes the fact that the city will be in the forefront in making and supplying vaccines for COVID-19 which is rocking the world with over 77 million cases and nearly two million deaths as of now.

In Uttar Pradesh, 8 UK returnees test positive for Covid, 1 missing

With eight of the 609 UK returnees, who were tracked and tested in Uttar Pradesh, testing positive to Covid-19, the Yogi Adityanath government has pressed the panic button. Out of the eight positive patients, one has been reported missing.
Even though the strain of the virus is yet to be identified, the state government is not taking any chances.
State Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed officials to maintain the effective system of contact tracing and surveillance. He said that the arrangements of the Covid-19 hospitals should be up-to-date and senior doctors should take regular rounds of Covid-19 wards.
Adequate availability of medicines, medical equipments and oxygen, including backup, should be ensured in Covid-19 hospitals and the testing work should be conducted with full capacity. He has further asked the nodal officers to visit districts and monitor the situation.

Covid-19 ups vulnerability for displaced people in Iraqi camps

The raging coronavirus pandemic has raised vulnerability levels among the Internal Displaced People (IDP) in Iraq as fewer aid agencies are engaged to help contain the contagious virus in camps.
Strict restrictions were put in place on residents in IDP camps from March to September to prevent Covid-19 infections, Xinhua news agency said in a report on Sunday.
Now as temperatures were plummeting to below zero degree Celsius, the pandemic is overlapping the flu season, creating an alarming situation for displaced families living in tents.
On an average day, the primary health facility at the Hasansham U3 Camp in Nineveh province receives 70 to 130 people with various health complaints.
The number of those seeking help for respiratory diseases, including flu, tops the list.

Andamans reports no fresh Covid-19 case, tally at 4,912

Andaman and Nicobar Islands did not report a single case of Covid-19 in the last 24-hours, a health department official said on Sunday. The Union Territory's Covid-19 tally remained at 4,912, the official said.
Eight more people were cured of the disease in the last 24-hours, taking the total number of recoveries in the archipelago to 4,789, he said.
The Union Territory now has 61 active Covid-19 cases, while 62 people have died so far due to the disease, the official said.

Telangana reports 472 new Covid-19 cases, two deaths

As many as 472 new Covid-19 cases and two deaths have been reported from Telangana on Saturday, while 509 patients have been discharged during the day, the state's health department said.
The total number of positive cases in the state has gone up to 284,863.
Of these, a total of 276,753 have recovered. While there are a total of 6,579 active cases currently, 1,531 patients have succumbed to the virus till now in Telangana, it added.

Jharkhand reports 192 new Covid-19 cases, 2 more deaths

Jharkhand's Covid-19 tally mounted to 1,14,146 as 192 more people tested positive for the infection, a health department official said on Sunday.
The Covid-19 death toll rose to 1,018 as two more persons succumbed to the infection in the last 24-hours, he said.
Ranchi district registered the maximum number of fresh cases at 75, followed by East Singhbhum (45) and Dhanbad (15).

Lowest daily spike in India's Covid-19 tally since June 30

With 18,732 new Covid-19 infections, India's total cases rise to 10,187,850
With 279 new deaths, toll mounts to 147,622 . Total active cases at 278,690 
Total discharged cases at 9,761,538 with 21,430 new discharges in the last 24 hours.

Study sheds light on critical windows in pregnancy for Covid-19 vaccination

Scientists have found evidence of lower than expected transfer of protective antibodies against the novel coronavirus via the placenta from mothers who are infected in the third trimester, findings that shed light on critical windows in pregnancy that may be most desirable for vaccination.
According to the researchers, including those from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US, the findings may be explained by a process where the carbohydrate molecules in the body alter antibodies after they are produced.
They explained that altered attachments of carbohydrates to the coronavirus-specific antibodies - a process called glycosylation - may be to blame for the reduced transfer from mother to fetus.

On 55th birthday, Salman urges fans to follow Covid-19 norms

On the occasion of his 55th birthday, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Sunday said this year's celebration will be muted due to the pandemic and urged fans to follow Covid-19 norms.
"This time we will not have any birthday celebrations. Only our family will be here (Panvel) and no one else. This year we are not planning to do anything because this has been a terrible year for everybody, and people have faced a lot of difficulties," Salman told reporters at his Panvel farmhouse.
"Hopefully, next year everything will go back to normal. I hope that everyone is happy, healthy and safe," the actor said.

Brazil registers 307 more deaths from Covid-19

The Brazilian government on Saturday reported 307 deaths from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's death toll to 190,795.
Meanwhile, 17,246 more infections were recorded, taking the national tally to 7,465,806.Brazil has the second-largest number of deaths, behind the United States, and ranks third in the number of cases, behind the United States and India.
The state of Sao Paulo, the most populous in the country, has been the most affected by the virus, with 1,423,340 cases and 45,808 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro with 420,075 cases and 24,905 deaths.

France reports 146 Covid-19 deaths, 20,262 infections in past 24 hours

France reported 146 deaths caused by Covid-19 infection in the past 24 hours, according to data released by the health authorities.
In the past 24 hours, 3,093 new cases were recorded, a sharp drop from 20,262 reported the day before, due to the close of many screening places for Christmas, it is explained, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.
In total, 2,550,864 cases have been reported since the start of the pandemic and the total human loss stood at 62,573.
France is to start its vaccination campaign on Sunday. The first 19,500 vaccine doses arrived early Saturday morning, under gendarmerie escort, at the central pharmacy of Public Assistance-Paris Hospitals (AP-HP) in the Paris suburbs, and doses for other sites were also delivered during the day, reported local media.

UK records another 34,693 coronavirus cases, 210 deaths

Another 34,693 people in Britain have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 2,256,005, according to official figures.
Another 210 have died within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain to 70,405, the data on released Saturday showed, Xinhua news agency reported.
The reporting of cases and deaths has been affected by the Christmas holidays in some devolved regions and will be reported later on, which means the true total number of cases and deaths in Britain is likely to be higher.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel