India Coronavirus Dispatch: Experts remain unconvinced about Covaxin nod

Covid-19 vaccine
Top virologist says will not take Covaxin until efficacy data is out

India's national drug regulator has approved the Covid-19 vaccines of both Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech for restricted use in the country. However, experts have severely criticised the regulator for clearing Bharat Biotech's Covaxin even though the efficacy data is available yet. Noted Indian virologist Gagandeep Kang shares her views in a report in The Hindu.

Kang said Bharat Biotech has data from animal challenge studies that are "supportive" of efficacy, but that doesn't automatically imply human efficacy. From humans, the drugmaker must be following up their Phase I and Phase II participants for safety and immunogenicity and may have some data, but that is not going to be sufficient. Bharat Biotech will need efficacy data from its Phase III trial which may take a few weeks or months to come as the company is still in the process of recruitment, vaccination, and data collection.

Kang said she would be happy to volunteer for the Covaxin trial, but would not take the vaccine if it is offered to her under conditions of "restricted use" or in "clinical trial mode". Kang said she would wait for the efficacy data to become available and reviewed by the regulator. Read more here

No reason yet to believe Covaxin will protect against mutant strain: Immunology expert

Concerns of the new UK strain of the novel coronavirus are not valid grounds for approving a vaccine for emergency use, immunologist Dr Vineeta Bal told The Hindu.

The justification is not reasonable on a scientific basis. As the trial for Covaxin has not reached a stage where it can show protection from the existing strains of the virus, there is no reason to believe that it will do so for a mutant strain, Bal told The Hindu. Bal is part of the faculty at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and a former scientist at the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi. Read more here

Online tool identifies Covid-19 patients at risk of deterioration

A team of researchers have built a new tool which can predict the likelihood of deterioration in people hospitalised with Covid, according to a report in edexlive. The online tool could help clinicians make decisions in their efforts to improve patient outcomes and save lives, the report said, citing the researchers. Read more here

‘Covid-19 vaccine doses to be guarded like ballots during polls’: Delhi police officer

As India prepares to kick off the vaccination drive on January 16th, the inoculants will be guarded with as much caution as ballots during elections, a senior Delhi police officer told The Hindu. Police personnel are expected to guard around 600 centres in the city round-the-clock. Read more here

Post-Covid effects on six key organs

Dealing with post-Covid symptoms can increase the time spent in a hospital or away from work. This report in The Indian Express lists 6 organs which can be affected by lingering symptoms even after recovering from the disease. 

Respiratory system: A few patients experience fatigue and shortness of breath. This could be due to lasting damage to the air sacs.
Heart and blood vessels: Despite being Covid-negative, patients have experienced abnormal heart rate, palpitations, and lasting heart muscle damage.
Kidneys: The presence of high blood pressure and diabetes worsens the risk of developing kidney dysfunction post-Covid.
Liver: Moderate to severe infections can lead to elevated levels of liver enzymes and abnormal liver function. For some patients, the liver function test does not return to normal levels.
Brain: Covid-19 may increase risks of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease in some patients.
Digestive system: Covid-19 can disrupt nutrient absorption by the gastrointestinal system.

The long-term effects of  Covid-19 are still being researched and there are many unknowns, the report cautioned. Read more here

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