Ahmedabad Vaccine News

Amit Shah says Ahmedabad has clean air, targets AAP for Delhi pollution
The Indian Express | 2 days ago | |
The Indian Express
2 days ago | |

Targeting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in New Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said that during winter he wished to be in Ahmedabad which had cleaner air compared to the national capital.Shah was addressing an election rally in Amraiwadi locality of Ahmedabad.“Ahmedabad was one of the top five most polluted cities during Congress rule. Narendra Modi brought CNG rickshaws and even provided loans. I live in Delhi. When it is winters, I wish to be in Ahmedabad, as I choke (in Delhi). Under AAP’s rule, the air in Delhi is not breathable and when you come here, you breathe in good air and in a good environment,” said Shah.“From December, India is going to head G-20. This G-2O will become a bog reason for the progress of India,” Shah added claiming that the country’s image across the globe has improved.He said state government in Gujarat is already planning to host Olympic Games in 2036.The BJP has worked a lot in East Ahmedabad and bridged the difference in infrastructure that it had with West Ahmedabad, the Union Minister added. He also asked local residents in Amraiwadi to call 20 people up in their area and ask them to vote for BJP.Addressing another election rally at Thasra in Kheda district, Shah said that neither Hindus nor Muslims benefit from communal riots“The Congress has no other work other than making Hindus and Muslims fight. BJP government ended communal riots in the state. Neither Hindu nor Muslims get any benefit from communal riots,” he said.During the rally, he alleged that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi used to warn people against taking the Covid-19 vaccine terming it “Modi vaccine”, but later got vaccinated himself secretly.Shah also reiterated that rioters were taught a lesson in 2002 by the then chief minister Narendra Modi.-PTI inputs

Amit Shah says Ahmedabad has clean air, targets AAP for Delhi pollution
Congress doesn’t respect tribals, didn’t support Droupadi Murmu, says PM Narendra Modi in Bharuch
Times of India | 3 days ago | |
Times of India
3 days ago | |

NETRANG (BHARUCH): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday accused that the Congress of not having respect for the tribal community and said that the party opposed candidature of Droupadi Murmu in the presidential election held earlier this year. He was canvassing for the BJP in Netrang, a tribal area of Bharuch district. Modi also said that the entire world was amazed at how India managed to come out Covid-19 pandemic in such a short span. "Congress has no respect for tribals in the country. When we proposed to make our tribal daughter (Droupadi Murmu) the president of the country, the Congress opposed it. We put all our might and made the tribal daughter win the election," Modi said. "Be it Birsa Munda or Govind Guru, the Congress never gave the due respect to the tribal leaders," he further alleged. The PM said the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in a big country like India was terrifying. "We faced the pandemic and came out of it. The entire world is amazed how we did it," Modi said. During pandemic factories were closed, people had to go back to their villages. "In such circumstances, our first concern was to provide enough food to poor people. We have been providing free ration to 80 crore people for the last three years," Modi said. He said that when many countries are still struggling to vaccinate their entire population, India has provided more than 200 crore doses of anti-coronavirus vaccine to its people. "After two doses, we provided a booster dose also free," Modi said.

Congress doesn’t respect tribals, didn’t support Droupadi Murmu, says PM Narendra Modi in Bharuch
Dr Subeer S Majumdar to steer GBU’s growth
Ahmedabad Mirror | 1 week ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
1 week ago | |

Gandhinagar, Gujarat, November 18- Gujarat Biotechnology University (GBU), India’s first biotechnology university, recently announced the appointment of Dr. Subeer S. Majumdar as Director General. Dr. Majumdar is a well known scientist and leader, and has started in his new role this week (14 Nov 22). Other recent appointments were of Mr. Dilip Shanghvi, MD, Sun Pharmaceuticals as Chairman to the University and Mr. Sudhir Vaid, Chairman & MD, Concord Biotech as Chairman, Advisory Council.Dr. Subeer S. Majumdar’s research focus is on animal biotechnology, livestock genomics, therapeutic proteins, and transgenic animals. He did his Doctoral Research at the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi and has trained at the School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, USA and at the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of Pittsburgh, USA. He is a fellow of all three Academies of Sciences, Tata Innovation fellow (DBT) and JC Bose fellow (SERB) and is a council member of INSA.Dr. Majumdar’s livestock genomics project delivered the ‘IndiGau’, the world’s largest SNP chip for cattle that can help conserve indigenous cow breeds with highly valued characteristics including heat, drought and disease resistance. The chip was released by Hon’ble Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh in August 2021.A key achievement by Dr. Subeer’s group was a new technique of transgenesis, easing the development of humanized disease models. During COVID-19, Dr. Majumdar led a DBT funded One Health programme drawing together AIIMS Delhi, AIIMS Jodhpur, medical colleges in Chennai, Hyderabad, Meghalaya, ICMR regional centers, wildlife health providers, veterinary universities (IVRI, GADVASU, MAFSU, TANUVAS etc.), to address animal to human disease transmission.From 2016 to 2021, Dr. Subeer steered the development of the youngest DBT institute, the National Institute of Animal Biotechnology (NIAB), Hyderabad. Under his leadership, several kits to detect veterinary diseases have either been transferred or are in process of transfer to industries for commercialization. Based on this success, the PM Cares Fund entrusted NIAB with the responsibility of developing one of two vaccine batch testing facilities for Covid 19 in India, and this is now notified by the Drug Controller of India,Dr. Majumdar has achieved remarkable success in the production of therapeutic proteins in the milk of small animals using biotechnology, and is working on affordability and accesibility to the population at large in India. His lab developed technology around SARS-Cov2 virus which allows for rapid antiviral screening in a minimum biohazard environment.A member of various professional societies, advisory committees, national and international bodies, Dr. Subeer has also worked on multiple socio-economic projects. He has authored more than hundred papers, publications and books, and has filed five patents. Dr. Subeer says, “My aim is to ensure the implementation and execution of a growth-fuelled roadmap for Gujarat Biotechnology University.I believe that the commitment and support of the state government will definitely yield remarkable results soon, making GBU a globally competitive institution for manpower as well as resource generation”.The University delivers post-graduate programmes in five biotechnology domains - Plant Biotechnology, Animal Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology, Medical Biotechnology, and Industrial Biotechnology. GBU welcomed the first batch of MSc students in August 2022, and will soon launch PhD programmes.The Gujarat Biotechnology Policy 2022-27, unveiled this year, is likely to attract capital investment of overRs 20,000crore. The Gujarat government is all set to revolutionise the biotechnology sector, and the Gujarat Biotechnology University will be a pioneering catalyst to realise this vision.

Dr Subeer S Majumdar to steer GBU’s growth
Anxiety disorders have no effect on vaccine hesitancy, reveals study
Ahmedabad Mirror | 1 month ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
1 month ago | |

Individuals who deal with anxiety are no less hesitant to get the Covid-19 vaccine compared to those without anxiety, according to new research. The new study led by the University of Waterloo in Canada aimed to investigate the relationship between vaccine hesitancy, psychological factors associated with anxiety, and individuals’ reasoning for and against getting the vaccine.“People with anxiety difficulties were not more hesitant about the vaccine. Rather, the more discomfort they had with uncertainty, the less hesitant they were,” said Dr Christine Purdon, professor of Clinical Psychology at Waterloo in a paper published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders.“The opposite was true of those without anxiety, suggesting that discomfort with uncertainty may be an important factor when addressing vaccine hesitancy,” Purdon added. To conduct the study, the researchers surveyed 148 participants with and without anxiety disorders. All participants completed an online questionnaire examining Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy along with other related variables such as conspiracy beliefs, individualism, and intolerance of uncertainty.They also surveyed the top reasons why individuals were motivated to get the vaccine and the top reasons why they were hesitant. The most common reasons that participants were hesitant to get the vaccine were related to the vaccine’s effectiveness and novelty, and fear of adverse effects. In contrast, the most frequent reasons that participants were motivated to get the vaccine were to protect others, to protect self, and to return to a sense of normalcy. The researchers found that anxious and non-anxious participants did not differ in vaccine hesitancy. However, discomfort with uncertainty predicted greater vaccine hesitancy in non-anxious participants, and in both groups’ vaccine hesitancy was predicted by individualistic worldviews, conspiracy beliefs, and a lack of trust in authority.The researchers hope that their findings will help aid in future research that continues to explore vaccine hesitancy and interventions to promote vaccine uptake.IANS

Anxiety disorders have no effect on vaccine hesitancy, reveals study
Covid shots not taken, confirmation texts fired
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

VADODARA: The familiar story of persons who have not taken a Covid-19 vaccine dose getting messages that they had done so continues a year after the issue had first surfaced. Last year, several persons got such messages for the second dose of Covid-19 even when they had not taken it and this year people are getting similar messages for the precautionary dose. An interesting case is that of Manjalpur resident Ravi Barot who got the message of having taken the second dose in September last year even when he had not done so. This year he got the message for the preventive (booster) dose as well. “I know of several others who have received messages for the preventive dose even when they have not taken the vaccine,” he said. A similar message was sent about Kadambari Patel, a senior citizen residing in the Harninagar area of the city, even when she had not taken the preventive dose. Last year, it was her granddaughter Diya Patel who had received a message confirming that she had taken the second dose. Congress member Sai Dhekane and his cousin sister both received messages showing that they had taken the preventive dose even when they had not done so. “I do not believe that this is an error. These are not isolated cases,” he said. Officials claimed that such incidents may be isolated ones and could be a result of errors in entering the details of beneficiaries. “This is the only possibility. The system has been made much better now,” said Vadodara Municipal Corporation’s medical officer (health) Dr Devesh Patel. Patel said that it was due to such possibilities that the option of revoking a dose had been given to beneficiaries in the Cowin portal or application. “They can exercise this option once and take the vaccine,” he said. The penetration of preventive doses has been low in the city. While senior citizens have taken the dose, only 45% of the target had been achieved in the 18 to 44 years age group and 35% coverage was achieved in the 45 to 60 years age group till Tuesday.

Covid shots not taken, confirmation texts fired
Lumpy disease strain in Guj more fatal: Study
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

AHMEDABAD: The strain of lumpy skin disease (LSD) virus that affected lakhs of bovines in Gujarat and Rajasthan in the recent outbreak differed from the strain observed in 2019-20, indicated research carried out by Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) researchers. The teams had collected scores of samples from both living and dead animals after the outbreak in August-September. "The strain indicated higher infectivity and mortality than its predecessor. The virus' roots can be traced to eastern Africa, from where it travelled to southern Europe, countries like Iran, and then to Pakistan before entering India," said a researcher. 'Study will help improve LSD vaccine' The lumpy skin disease (LSD) that affected close to 1 lakh heads of cattle in Gujarat and caused the deaths of 3,800 animals in August-September is a more infectious and virulent strain of its predecessor, indicated a study carried out by researchers from Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC). The study is part of the report submitted to the Gujarat government in the aftermath of the outbreak. Out of 33 districts, 24 had reported the infection among animals. According to government figures, the widespread drive for vaccination covered over 4 lakh heads of cattle. Experts said that the findings would help improve the existing vaccine or aid in developing a new one to counter the spread. "Compared to viruses found in humans, LSD - one of the pox of proxiviridae viruses - is over two times bigger and is found in cows, oxen, and buffaloes. It was not found outside of Africa when first reported in the 1980s. Over the decades, the virus that causes multiple nodules and affects mucous membranes in animals spread in southern Europe, the Middle East, and finally reached Iran and Pakistan before coming to India," said a researcher. The journey of the virus caused multiple genetic mutations, indicated by the genomic sequencing of the virus at GBRC. The samples were collected from both living and dead animals by the researchers. The results showed that compared to earlier samples taken in 2019-20, the virus got more virulent with higher infectivity and mortality. Experts believe that ticks could have been the primary carriers of the virus over international borders.

Lumpy disease strain in Guj more fatal: Study
Lumpy skin disease: Worry over vaccine duopoly
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

EVEN AS lumpy skin disease has already killed nearly 1 lakh cattle and infected over 20 lakh animals across 15 states, governments are having to depend on just two companies for the vaccine whose use has been authorised against the virus.At present, Ahmedabad-based Hester Biosciences Ltd and the National Dairy Development Board’s Hyderabad-based subsidiary Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL) manufacture goatpox vaccine.Goatpox, sheeppox and lumpy skin disease viruses belong to the same capripoxvirus genus. The vaccines developed for the first two, and already being commercially produced in the country, offer up to 60-70 per cent cross-protection against lumpy skin disease in cattle.But as of now, only goatpox vaccine has been authorised for administering against lumpy skin disease. In an advisory issued to states on September 2, 2021, the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying (DAHD) said that “cattle and buffaloes should be vaccinated with available Goat pox vaccine”. At the time of authorisation, Hester Biosciences was the sole manufacturer of goatpox vaccine in the country; IIL launched its goatpox vaccine in December 2021.On the other hand, there are a dozen or so manufacturers of sheeppox vaccine, including six state-owned manufacturers.Asked why only use of goatpox vaccine has been authorised for control of lumpy skin disease, Praveen Malik, Animal Husbandry Commissioner at DAHD, said the decision was taken based on IVRI’s recommendations. “Scientists there recommended that goatpox vaccine (Uttarkashi strain) is effective against lumpy skin disease. It is for scientists at IVRI or NIHSAD to recommend whether or not sheeppox vaccine can also be used,” Malik told The Indian Express.In a reply to an RTI query filed by one Sandeep Kumar Gupta from Hisar, the Centre for Animal Disease Research and Diagnosis at IVRI-Izatnagar stated that “none of [the Centre’s] scientists was involved in advising use of goat pox vaccine in cattle and buffaloes to control lumpy skin disease”.

Lumpy skin disease: Worry over vaccine duopoly
India to get its second high security BSL-4 lab in Gujarat
Ahmedabad Mirror | 2 months ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
2 months ago | |

After Covid-19 showed how unprepared the world was for a pandemic, India is set to get its second high security disease research facility in Gujarat.The state government has identified 14 acres of land near Pethapur in Gandhinagar district to set up a Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab according to international standards, which will give the state a headstart on any future pandemic. To be set up under the aegis of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the centre will give scientists a highly-controlled and state-of-the-art facility to study, culture and biobank some of the most infectious and virulent pathogens like the smallpox virus.Gandhinagar collector Dr Kuldeep Arya confirmed the development saying that the process to measure and evaluate the land and liaison with the R&B department is underway.The only other such facility in India is the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune. While another BSL-4 lab was planned at CCMB in Hyderabad, the plan was eventually abandoned, suggested reports in 2021.On Wednesday, officials from the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) in Gandhinagar and the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in Anand signed an MoU for Consultancy Service Agreement and PMC services for the development of the greenfield BSL-4 lab with ABSL facility. NDDB has previously worked on similar projects in Bhopal and Bhubaneswar.Apart from the BSL-4 lab, the centre will also have other modules of BSL 3 and BSL-3+ safety levels for researchers to work with less dangerous pathogens.The inclusion of Animal Biosafety Level 4 (ABSL-4) facility at Gujarat’s proposed BSL-4 laboratory indicates that the laboratory will have the capability to also study major diseases affecting animals. Currently, there are only two institutions in India studying the major zoonotic diseases — the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (ICAR-NIHSAD) in Bhopal with BSL-3+ rating and the International Centre for Foot and Mouth Diseases (ICAR-ICFMD) in Bhubaneswar, with a BSL-3Ag rating.The Detailed Planning Report Committee (DPRC) to draw up the configurations of the facilities, equipment required and manpower necessary for the undertaking was formed back in 2021 itself with experts from other major labs in India and independent experts, when Gujarat was still reeling from the drastic loss of lives as a result of the second Covid wave led by the Delta variant.Sources in the DST told Mirror that Rs250 crore have been proposed as a new item to be allocated for the project in the state budget for FY 2023-24. It is expected to be completed in 30 months from start of construction, with officials hoping to begin operations by mid-2025. However, the name of the centre is yet to be decided.Independent researchers and companies will also be able to conduct animal trials, research and vaccine studies at the facility on a shared basis.GBRC has already floated a tender for a biosafety consultant and proof engineering consultant. It is shortly expected to float a tender to find a construction management agency to build a structure with BSL-4 level requirements of containment.Vijay Nehra, secretary of DST, remained unavailable for comment.

India to get its second high security BSL-4 lab in Gujarat
Intranasal vaccine will be global game changer: Krishna Ella
Ahmedabad Mirror | 2 months ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
2 months ago | |

Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL), a global leader in vaccine innovation and developer of vaccines for infectious diseases, announced that iNCOVACC (BBV154), has received approval under restricted use in emergency situations for ages 18 and above.iNCOVACC has the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery that enables mass immunisation to protect from emerging variants of concern. It promises to become an important tool in mass vaccinations during pandemics and endemics.With the receipt of approval, the product will be launched and available for use in due course of time, the company said.”We are proud to announce the approval of iNCOVACC, a global game changer in intranasal vaccines technology and delivery systems. Despite the lack of demand for Covid-19 vaccines, we continued product development in intra nasal vaccines to ensure that we are well prepared with platform technologies for future infectious diseases,” Ella said.iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilised spike protein. This vaccine candidate was evaluated in phase I, II, and III clinical trials with successful results.iNCOVACC has been specifically formulated to allow intranasal delivery through nasal drops. The nasal delivery system has been designed and developed to be cost effective in low- and middle-income countries, the Hyderabad-based firm said.iNCOVACC was developed in partnership with Washington University, St. Louis, which had designed and developed the recombinant adenoviral vectored constructs and evaluated them in preclinical studies for efficacy. Product development related to preclinical safety evaluation, large scale manufacturing scale up, formulation and delivery device development, including human clinical trials were conducted by Bharat Biotech. Product development and clinical trials were funded in part by the Indian government through the Department of Biotechnology’s Covid Suraksha programme.”We thank the Ministry of Health, the CDSCO, Dept of Biotechnology, Govt of India, and Washington University St. Louis for their support and guidance. iNCOVACC has been designed for efficient distribution and easy administration,” Dr Ella said.Clinical trials were conducted to evaluate iNCOVACC as a primary dose schedule, as heterologous booster dose for subjects who have previously received 2 doses of the two commonly administered Covid vaccines in India.Phase III trials were conducted for safety, and immunogenicity in about 3,100 subjects, in 14 trial sites across India.Heterologous booster dose studies were conducted for safety and immunogenicity in about 875 subjects, with BBV154 intranasal vaccine administered post 2 doses of the two commonly administered Covid-19 vaccines. The trials were conducted in 9 trial sites across India.Immunogenicity was evaluated through serum neutralising antibodies by PRNT assays and serum IgGs through ELISA’s. To evaluate vaccines taken through the intranasal route, IgAs were evaluated by ELISA in serum and saliva. Evaluation was also carried out for ability of iNCOVACC to elicit long term memory T and B cell responses against the ancestral and Omicron variants.iNCOVACC was evaluated to determine its impact on safety. The reactogenic events and adverse events that were documented during the trial were highly comparable to published data from other covid-19 vaccines. Product development data will be submitted to peer reviewed journals and will be made available in the public domain, BBIL said.The intranasal vaccine is stable at 2-8 degrees Celsius for easy storage and distribution. Bharat Biotech has established large manufacturing capabilities at multiple sites across India, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Telangana.

Intranasal vaccine will be global game changer: Krishna Ella
India’s stand on Ukraine war, China, Covid handling hailed, says Jaishankar
Ahmedabad Mirror | 2 months ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
2 months ago | |

External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Saturday said that India’s independent stand at the UN during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had the world take note of India, also its resolute approach when China challenged India at the border in amidst Covid and ‘invent in India’ Covid vaccine jab given to 2 billion people through the COWIN platform. These have transformed and strengthened India’s brand globally.Jaishankar, who interacted with IIMA students, faculty members and alumni at its campus, elaborated on 10 factors that have changed how India is perceived globally in his speech on the topic ‘Indian Foreign Policy: A Transformational Decade’. Stating that people may have heard of ‘Make in India’ in wake of GoI’s AatmaNirbhar Bharat campaign, but “Invent in India” has got the world’s attention.Presenting an example of India’s stand in the UN, he said that the world is a polarised place referring to the Ukraine-Russia crisis. “The fact that we have taken an independent stand, which we believe is right for our people, the world has noted the independence of India’s position and balance. And it is not just about us, we are also articulating sentiment of other countries which may not be confident enough to express their opinion. Reason for (India’s) brand improvement is really that a strong, confident and independent voice on global issues…how resolute we have been when challenged on the border area, in the middle of COVID. We had Chinese move forces in violation of agreement. We stood our ground and were vocal in terms of putting our interest,” he said, adding that India has emerged more innovative in the last few years when it comes to diplomacy.Hailing India’s fight against Covid, be it making indigenous vaccines, giving 2 billion people jabs and developing the COWIN platform, has also grabbed the world’s attention.The external affairs minister also referred to India’s expected economic recovery and said that there were questions of judgment in crisis. “We focused on building a social safety net. We used this period to actually execute a lot of reforms and changes. The fact is today we are poised for an economic recovery of 7% to 8%,”he said.

India’s stand on Ukraine war, China, Covid handling hailed, says Jaishankar
Ahmedabad records 80 corona cases
Times of India | 3 months ago | |
Times of India
3 months ago | |

AHMEDABAD: The city on Tuesday reported 80 new Covid cases. With 114 patients discharged, the number of active cases reached 521. Across Gujarat, 225 new cases were reported and with 337 discharges, the number of active cases reached 1,755. One Covid death was recorded, in Rajkot city. The other cases included 29 from Vadodara city, 25 from Surat city, 11 from Dang, and 9 from Rajkot city. In the past two days there has been a reduction in overall cases, according to state health department figures. Eight patients are on ventilators. Two of the state's 33 districts have no active cases. Gujarat in the past 24 hours administered 2,081 first doses of Covid vaccine and 5,222 second doses. In all, 5.43 crore persons have had at least one dose and 5.39 crore have had two doses.

Ahmedabad records 80 corona cases
  • Ahmedabad records 39 Covid cases, one death
  • Times of India

    AHMEDABAD: After six days, the city again recorded sub-50 daily Covid cases at 39 – recording 84-day low daily tally. With discharge of 49 patients, active cases in Ahmedabad reached 555. The city also recorded death of a Covid patient. Across Gujarat, 158 Covid cases were recorded. Other cases included 20 from Vadodara city, 19 from Surat city, and 12 from Gandhinagar. Active cases in Gujarat reached 1,868 as discharges improved over new cases after two days. Out of 33 districts, 11 had 10 or less active cases. Gujarat in 24 hours vaccinated 1,411 persons for the first dose and 4,604 for the second. In all, 5.43 crore are administered first and 5.39 crore second dose of Covid vaccine.

  • Gujarat tops in custodial deaths with 69 cases
  • Ahmedabad Mirror

    Amid much talk of police reforms in the state, something seems to be going very wrong on that front — Gujarat has recorded the highest number of custodial death cases over a period of five years, reveals data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The data also reveals that the total number of custodial deaths in the state has been increased by 120% from 2017 to 2021.In terms of custodial deaths registered in the country, Gujarat tops the list with 69 cases among all the states and Union Territories, followed by Maharashtra with 39 cases and Andhra Pradesh with 26 cases.Among the major instances of custodial deaths reported in the state, one was from back in December 2019 when Telangana native Babu Nisak Shaikh (65), a bedsheet seller who was visiting Vadodara for business, went missing from the Vadodara railway station area. A missing person complaint was filed with the Sayajigunj police station by Shaikh’s son and a habeas corpus petition was filed in the Gujarat High Court. Subsequently, an FIR was registered against six cops of Fatehgunj police station who had detained Shaikh and tortured him to make him confess to a theft. Shaikh died due to torture meted out to him. Later, his body was thrown in a canal. Shaikh’s body is yet to be foundeven though the entire canal was drained out.In another case, three cops of Bopal police station were booked for allegedly killing Naroda resident Surubha Zala (35), who was a suspect in a gold theft case.

  • Ahmedabad: 66 new Covid-19 cases
  • Times of India

    AHMEDABAD: On Sunday, the city recorded 66 new Covid cases. With discharge of 76 patients, the active cases reached 558. Across Gujarat, 251 cases were recorded, and with 208 discharges, the active cases reached 1,954. Navsari district recorded death of a patient.Other cases included 39 from Vadodara city, 23 from Surat city, and 23 from Rajkot among others. Out of 33 districts, three had zero active cases.

  • Gujarat: 76 new Covid cases, 1 death
  • Times of India

    AHMEDABAD: On Saturday, the city recorded 76 new Covid cases, making it the fourth consecutive day of fewer than 100 cases. The city also reported one of the two Covid deaths in Gujarat, the other was in Gir Somnath. Across Gujarat, 314 cases were reported. After nearly a week, the active case tally rose with more new cases than patients who recovered. On Saturday, Ahmedabad had 579 active cases and Gujarat 1,912. The other cases included 46 from Vadodara city, 25 from Surat city, 20 from Gandhinagar, and 14 each from Rajkot city and Valsad. Gujarat in the past 24 hours administered 1,857 first doses of Covid vaccines and 6,776 second doses. In all, 5.43 crore people have had at least one dose and 5.39 crore have had two.

  • Two Covid deaths reported in Ahmedabad
  • Times of India

    AHMEDABAD: For the third consecutive day, the daily Covid cases in Ahmedabad city remained below 100 as the city saw 95 cases on Friday. The city also recorded the death of two Covid patients. In the past two days, the city has recorded three deaths. Across Gujarat, 290 positive cases were recorded. Other cases included 33 from Vadodara city, 21 from Surat city, 19 from Rajkot, as well as 17 from Rajkot city and Surat among others. Out of 33 districts, three districts had zero active cases. Gujarat in 24 hours vaccinated 2,581 persons for the first dose and 8,182 for the second. In all, 5.43 crore were administered the first dose and 5.38 crore were given the second dose of Covid vaccine. The state administered booster doses to 35,676 senior citizens, taking the total to 53.77 lakh. The state also administered 3.34 lakh booster doses to 18-59 years population, taking the total to 91.49 lakh.

Antibodies from monkeys shows promise against Covid variants
Ahmedabad Mirror | 3 months ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
3 months ago | |

US scientists have identified antibodies in monkeys that may help in the development of next-generation vaccines which can offer additional protection against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants and other SARS-related viruses.The team from Scripps Research Institute in California identified the antibodies, from rhesus macaque monkeys, that are effective against many different SARS-CoV-2 variants, as well as other SARS viruses like SARS-CoV-1, the highly lethal virus that caused an outbreak in 2003.They found these neutralising antibodies recognise a viral spike region that is relatively more conserved, meaning that it is present across many different SARS viruses and is therefore less likely to mutate over time.The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed that certain animals are surprisingly more able to make these types of “pan-SARS virus” antibodies than humans, giving scientists clues as to how to make better vaccines.”If we can design vaccines that elicit the similar broad responses that we’ve seen in this study, these treatments could enable broader protection against the virus and variants of concern,” said senior author Raiees Andrabi, an investigator in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.In the study, rhesus macaque monkeys were immunised with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein — the outside portion of the virus that allows it to penetrate and infect host cells.Two shots were administered, resembling a similar strategy used with currently available mRNA vaccines in humans. Unlike these vaccines, however, the macaques were shown to have a broad neutralising antibody response against the virus-including variants such as Omicron.Exploring the antibody structures, the team found these antibodies recognise a conserved region on the edge of the site where the spike protein binds to host cells, called the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor binding site. This is different from the region where the majority of human antibodies target, which overlaps more with the ACE2 receptor binding site and is more variable to change.”The antibody structures reveal an important area common to multiple SARS-related viruses. This region to date has rarely been seen to be targeted by human antibodies and suggests additional strategies that can be used to coax our immune system into recognising this particular region of the virus,” said Ian Wilson, DPhil, Professor at the Institute.Further, the team said it’s important to note that the macaque’s gene coding for these broad neutralising antibodies — known as IGHV3-73 — is not the same in humans. The dominant immune response in humans is related to the IGHV3-53 gene, which produces a potent but much narrower neutralising antibody response.However, the scientists say this discovery opens the door to rationally design and engineer vaccines or vaccine-adjuvant combinations that elicit more broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 and its many variants.”According to our study, the macaques have an antibody gene that offers them more protection against SARS viruses. This observation teaches us that studying the effect of a vaccine in monkeys can only take us so far but also reveals a new target for our vaccine efforts that we might be able to exploit by advanced protein design strategies,” added Dennis Burton, co-senior author and chair of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

Antibodies from monkeys shows promise against Covid variants
Hester Biosciences Ltd reports Net Profit of Rs. 3.56 crore and Revenues from Operations of Rs. 50.7 crore in Q1FY23
Ahmedabad Mirror | 3 months ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
3 months ago | |

August 10: One of India’s leading poultry and animal vaccine manufacturing companies, Hester Biosciences Limited, has reported a consolidated net profit of Rs. 3.56 crore and Revenue from Operations of Rs. 50.70 crores for the Q1FY23. Individually, the gross margins of the vaccines and the health products have been in line with the corresponding quarter; however, the overall margins have reduced due to the increase in the proportion of health products sales which have lower gross margins compared to vaccines. Health Products sales constituted 34% of the total sales in Q1 FY23, versus 20% in Q1 FY22.Hester Tanzania recently received regulatory approvals for four products, with two additional products under approval. Hester Tanzania has just started commercial operations, and Revenues are expected to start in Q2. Hester Nepal has registered a 16% growth in domestic revenues; however, there were no tender sales in the current quarter due to delays in tendering by FAO and other multilateral institutions.Going furtherThe company is confident of arresting the de growth in Q2 as well as hopes to improve the profitability as follows:On the vaccine side:The recent outbreak of Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) in certain parts of the country since July 2022 is expected to result in additional sales in Q2 FY23.The Company was a successful bidder in a government tender for PPR vaccine for sheep & goats, the supplies for which will likely start from September 2022.On the Health Product side:It is our endeavour to improve the profitability. Over the next couple of quarters, Hester will focus on growing sales on the back of improving the sales productivity of the marketing team as well as launching new products and entering new territories.Petcare divisionThe Company launched a new division for Petcare during Q1 with ten products. Activities related to market development, field force establishment and product pipeline are ongoing. Petcare Division will emerge as a steady long-term growth driver, given the increasing adoption of pets in the country.Status on Hester’s initiatives in the Covid-19 vaccineThe Company, in consortium with Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC), Government of Gujarat (GoG), has entered into a term sheet agreement with Bharat Biotech India Limited to manufacture the Drug Substance for Covaxinunder the Mission Covid Suraksha Scheme of the Government of India.The project is to manufacture a Drug Substance equivalent to up to 7 million doses per month.The construction of the BSL-3 facility is nearing mechanical completion. Planning and preparation for commissioning are ongoing. The facility is expected to be ready for commercial operation in Q3FY23.This facility is a multi-purpose facility to handle other micro-organisms beyond Covid-19.Other developmentsThe Company is strengthening its new product vaccine pipeline by developing new vaccines like Classical Swine Fever (CSF), Sheep Pox and an improved version of Brucella vaccines.The bulk antigen production capacity expansion project is completed, and trial runs are ongoing. Expansion of Fill-Finish line capacity is expected to be completed by Q4FY23. These two expansions will double the production capacity of vaccines.The recent notification by the Government of India to allow the manufacture and sale of Avian Influenza Inactivated vaccine, the H9N2 strain, will contribute to our sales from Q3.

Hester Biosciences Ltd reports Net Profit of Rs. 3.56 crore and Revenues from Operations of Rs. 50.7 crore in Q1FY23
32k e-memos issued for over-speeding
Ahmedabad Mirror | 3 months ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
3 months ago | |

Two incidents of accidents due to over-speeding took place on Monday. In the first incident which took place at 10.45 am on Monday, a speeding Maroon colored Honda car hit a scooter from behind on Sola overbridge. Jasmit Darji, his wife Falguni and their 13-year-old son Bhomya, residents of Vejalpur, were returning from Sola civil hospital on the scooter after getting Falguni anti-rabies vaccine after she was bitten by a dog. Police said Jasmit sustained head injuries and Falguni was lying in a semi-conscious condition. Even Bhomya sustained serious injuries. They were rushed to the hospital where the three are being treated. “The boy told us that they were hit by a speeding car from behind. We are looking for the car,” said a traffic police official.In another incident which took place on Monday night, an SUV rammed into one a light pole on the same overbridge. The driver of the car was shifted to hospital for treatment. An FIR is yet to be registered.These are some of the many incidents in which over-speeding vehicles have injured or killed people on the road. A few days ago, two people died in a similar incident on the same bridge. After a series of such incidents, the city police had deployed speed guns to catch over speeding drivers.A worrying pattern of over-speeding is emerging. In just seven months from January to August 7, Amdavadis have received 32,344 e-challans for over-speeding and fined Rs 6.81 crore, the most being in June with 7,896 people challaned and a fine of Rs 1.68 crore imposed. A traffic official said most of the e-challans are generated with the help of nine speed guns mounted on interceptor vehicles detecting over-speeding. “Eight speed guns are deployed in different areas of the city, while one is deployed on the highway. We still avoid fining vehicles in which families are travelling,” the traffic cop said.Now, the police propose to get tough on over-speeding with increased fine amounts. Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Mayanksinh Chavda said, “Rs 1,500 will be fined for the first over-speeding offence, Rs 3,000 for the second time, and if caught for the third time, we will ask the RTO to suspend the offenders’ driving license.”Chavda said that on an average about 4,100 e-challans were issued every month from January to June. According to police records, there are about 212 traffic junctions which have about 2,351 CCTV cameras through which offences are detected and e-challans generated. Of these, 2,121 are functional while 34 are defunct and 196 cameras are under maintenance currently.Most commuters died in western parts of cityAccording to the figures of city police, a total of 845 road accidents took place in the first seven months of 2022. “Of these, 265 were fatal accidents, mostly due to drivers over-speeding or commuters being hit by other over-speeding vehicles. Most of the fatal accidents took place in areas such as Gujarat University, Navrangpura Naranpura, SG Highway, Vastrapur, Ghatolodia, Chanakyapuri, Sola, Sabarmati riverfront, Sindhu Bhavan Road, Satellite, Nehrunagar, Ranip, Chandkheda and walled city.

32k e-memos issued for over-speeding
Swine flu cases to prevail till end of winter: Docs
Times of India | 3 months ago | |
Times of India
3 months ago | |

SURAT: With steady rise in number of swine flu cases, health officials predict that the figure will be more than 100 within a week. Nine fresh swine flu cases were reported on Saturday and the total number of cases is now 52 in the city. The number of swine flu deaths has reached three in the city Officials, however, say active monitoring and timely treatment will ensure controlling the disease. They claim that cases will rise up to a certain number and its prevalence will be there till end of winter. On Friday, a 54-year-old woman from Velanja village died at a hospital. She had tested positive on July 28 and had been admitted to hospital since then. She was suffering from blood pressure.“Swine flu cases are going to increase and will continue to get reported till around February next year. Due to conducive weather, the cases will rise in the city,” said a health official. Swine flu testing is not common and there is no rapid test available for it. Currently, family members and those who come in contact with a positive patient are getting tested. Further, the vaccine for swine flu is not available for free and officials also claim that it is not effective since the virus changes its train at regular intervals. “People need not worry about swine flu infection since there is medicine for it. But it is necessary to identify the infection first and for that active monitoring is required,” said a health official. “Patients can monitor their own health and consult a doctor if there are symptoms of swine flu. But it is equally important that individuals improve their immunity to fight these viruses,” said a doctor. Meanwhile, on Saturday, 42 Covid-19 positive cases were reported in the city while 48 patients were discharged. Now, there are 253 active Covid cases and nine of them have been hospitalised.

Swine flu cases to prevail till end of winter: Docs
Take precautionary dose of Covid vaccine, urges PM Modi
The Indian Express | 3 months ago | |
The Indian Express
3 months ago | |

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday urged people to take their precautionary doses of vaccine against Covid-19 at a time when India has been seeing a rise in the number of cases. “I urge all present here to take a precautionary dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. On the completion of 75 years of independence, the government has started a campaign of giving free vaccine doses for 75 days,” Modi said as he virtually addressed a huge gathering while inaugurating Shrimad Rajchandra Multispecialty Charitable Hospital in the tribal area of Dharampur taluka of Valsad Thursday.“We should ensure that everybody in our family and our area or village takes the precaution dose,” the PM added. The PM’s reminder comes as the Central government commenced free supply of the Covid vaccines for 75 days as part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ campaign.The PM highlighted that in addition to the Covid vaccine campaign, India was also carrying out a nation-wide vaccination for animals, including cows and buffaloes, against the food and mouth disease. Around “12 crore vaccinations have been done of which 90 lakh were done in Gujarat”, the PM claimed. His statements came as Gujarat has been battling Lumpy Skin Disease, a viral disease that has been spreading across cattle population in the state and has claimed at least 1,838 cattle lives until Thursday.Praising the hospital, the PM said people in the tribal-dominated Dharampur and its nearby talukas will benefit from the new facility. “The commitment to serve the poor will become stronger through such a hospital,” Modi said, adding he was “glad that doctors and staff from Surat, Ahmedabad, Mumbai and foreign countries have come here to serve the people”.The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone of a Centre of Excellence for Women and Animal Hospital in Dharampur. “The Centre of Excellence for Women by Shrimad Rajchandra Mission will change the lives of many women in the tribal areas. Shrimad Rajchandraji had emphasised more on education and skill development. At a younger age, he had pressed his views on women empowerment,” he said.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxHe said the Centre’s endeavours were directed at ensuring to remove all obstacles that “prevented our sisters and daughters from moving forward”.Modi also praised Shrimad Rajchandra, the 19th century Jain philosopher and poet, for making “huge contributions to the country’s history”. “It is unfortunate that we lost bright leaders who could have made the world aware of the knowledge and strength that India has, too soon,” Modi said about Rajchandra, who inspired Mahatma Gandhi.

Take precautionary dose of Covid vaccine, urges PM Modi
  • ‘New variant of Covid likely by November, may evade vaccine’, says Krishna Ella
  • The Indian Express

    Predicting a new variant of Covid-19 in India by November that may “evade the vaccine” and “increase hospitalisation”, chairman and managing director at Bharat Biotech (BB) International Limited Dr Krishna Ella advocated nasal vaccine as the next step for the protection of upper respiratory system as injectable vaccines can protect “only the lower part”.Speaking at the 43rd Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture on “innovation and entrepreneurship” at the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) on Saturday, Ella said, “People who took the injectable vaccines are protected in the lower (respiratory system) part so they still get the infection because upper part of the lung is not protected. The nasal vaccine gives upper lung protection… We are optimistic that both injectable and nasal strategy will work,” said Dr Ella.Phase 3 trial for BB’s nasal vaccine was announced as completed in June this year and the company is yet to submit the trial data with the DCGI.Stating that conducting clinical trials during the pandemic was a challenge, Ella emphasised that during Covaxin development, “safety” was kept as the first tenet so that “healthy people do not get into trouble”. “Even if the efficacy is a little down, it doesn’t matter, but its safety profile is very very important,” he said.

Lumpy Skin Disease: NDDB supplied 28 lakh doses of goat pox vaccine in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab
The Indian Express | 3 months ago | |
The Indian Express
3 months ago | |

In order to tackle Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) that has impacted “sporadic pockets” in the country, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has supplied 28 lakh doses of goat pox vaccine in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab.“We have sporadic cases in Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan. We have a subsidiary called Indian Immunologicals Ltd, which manufactures the vaccine… We have supplied 28 lakh goat pox vaccine doses that include 10 lakh doses vaccines for Gujarat in the past 15 days,” said Meenesh Shah, chairman of NDDB, on the sidelines of a media interaction held at the board headquarters in Anand.“Both NDDB and GCCMF (Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation) are also buying vaccines from Hester Biosciences,” Shah said, without divulging the number of vaccines being procured from the private entity.“Each vaccine dose costs Rs 3. The best way to counter the disease is vaccinate the animals. The disease will be under control in a short time,” he added.In Gujarat alone, over 1,600 cattle have died due to LSD and 58,000 animals have been infected by the virus. The government has so far vaccinated 12.75 lakh cattle.Talking about the reduction in milk procurement in Gujarat due to LSD, RS Sodhi, managing director of GCMMF, said, “The reduction is just 0.25 per cent of our daily procurement. We are seeing a dip of 50,000 litres per day of milk procurement from Kutch.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox  Sodhi said mortality among infected cattle were high in cattle-shelters such as Panjrapoles that lack adequate nutrition and medical care facilities. “The deaths are not happening at farms,” he added.When asked if NDDB is seeing any instances of milk from infected cattle affecting humans, Meenesh Shah said, “Generally it is not zoonotic unlike many other diseases. But for safety reasons we are asking people to have pasteurised milk or to have boiled milk.”

Lumpy Skin Disease: NDDB supplied 28 lakh doses of goat pox vaccine in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab
Not got the third jab? CoWIN says you have!
Ahmedabad Mirror | 4 months ago | |
Ahmedabad Mirror
4 months ago | |

The response to the Covid booster dose may not be anything to write about, but the CoWIN platform is busy sending congratulatory messages to people for taking the precautionary dose even when they have not taken one.Several people in the city are receiving SMS from the CoWIN platform informing them that they have taken the precautionary dose when they haven’t. If that isn’t enough they are getting certificates stating the same, too.Take the case of KM Odedara who last week got a message informing him about his successful vaccination for the third dose. He even got a certificate attesting to the same. The certificate states that he was vaccinated at Vejalpur Urban Health Centre (UHC) though he never got the third dose. A worried Odedara went to the UHC to inquire and the AMC health staff admitted that a technical glitch may have resulted in the SMS and certificates being generated. They also offered to vaccinate him for the precautionary dose as and when he wanted. A day later, his wife Bhavna had a similar experience. The couple again rushed to the UHC where the amused staff told the couple that they will be given the vaccine.“There should be a system to check irregularities. It appears that the certificates are being issued to jack up the numbers,” said Odedara.He called it a serious issue as the certificates are generated on the CoWIN platform, an official site of the Central government.Another beneficiary Nehal Thakkar in Vastrapur got a certificate for her second dose when she took the precautionary dose. Nehal never got the certificate for the second dose of the vaccine that she took in April. “I am trying to log in to the CoWIN portal to get the correct certificate but without any success,”she said.A senior official of AMC’s health department admitted to receiving several complaints about irregularities in certificates. “But the certificates are generated on the CoWIN platform and we cannot do much. A person can approach the health centre and the health department can check and try to sort the matter,” said the official.

Not got the third jab? CoWIN says you have!
Why is it too early to talk about mass vaccination against Monkeypox?
The Indian Express | 4 months ago | |
The Indian Express
4 months ago | |

Dr Gangakhedker was the head of the department of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the country’s apex Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also a part of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) scientific advisory group on origins of novel pathogens. He has been working on HIV/AIDS since the 1980s, contributing significantly towards the national policies in place today. He was also instrumental in handling the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala in 2018.There have been over 18,000 cases of Monkeypox across 78 countries in the world, with 70 per cent cases being reported from Europe and 25 per cent cases from the Americas. Even though cases have rapidly spread across the world, there have only been five deaths, that too in countries where the infection was found even before the current outbreak, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). India has so far reported four cases – three from Kerala – all with a history of international travel – and one from Delhi without it.Now that we have detected a case of local transmission in India, are we likely to see more cases of Monkeypox in the coming months? Can the infection spread across the country like COVID-19?This virus does not have the classical pandemic potential. The first reason is the transmission efficiency is low. The Ro value (this is the basic reproduction number that represents the number of people who can get the infection from the affected) is far too less for a spread. It can never be like COVID-19 where the virus is transmitted rapidly through the respiratory route. This is mainly transmitted through sexual route.Second, not everyone is at an equal risk of getting the infection. The number of people at high risk is going to be smaller.Third, those with Monkeypox get skin lesions, with the symptoms starting between six to 13 days of getting the infection. If people are aware about the kind of lesions seen in Monkeypox, they will be careful about onward transmission.The WHO says that the disease is transmitted through close contact with lesions, bodily fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials. It is still unclear about the infection being transmitted through sexual routes. What does evidence suggest?The transmission of Monkeypox from animals to humans is well established; the disease manifests in people living close to forests and consuming bush meat. Over the years, there has been an increase in human-to-human transmission but we still do not know everything about it.What we have seen till now is that the Ro is higher among men who have sex with men (MSM). And the reason that perhaps happens is because most of the lesions tend to occur in the peri-genital region. Though the Monkeypox virus has been documented as being present in the semen, we don’t know if it has replication potential. The mere presence of the virus doesn’t make the infection sexually transmissible. If someone is in the incubation period and doesn’t have lesions and another person gets it from unprotected sex, then it establishes that the virus in the semen is replication competent. This is what is called a classical sexually transmitted disease.Even otherwise, if the infections are occurring only in people where you can ascribe it to sexual activity, it is quite possible that it might emerge as a sexually transmitted infection. It took us a couple of years to establish HIV as a sexually transmitted disease, but with the speed of research these days, we might know for sure in one-and-a-half months.However, every organism has a preferred route of transmission and an accidental one. As we have seen cases in children, clearly there is transmission through skin lesions as well. Hence, it is essential that those infected remain in isolation and maintain hygiene in a way that household transmission can be prevented.Most of the cases reported so far are in MSM. Is there any reason men are at a higher risk of getting the infection?We have seen fewer cases of the infection being reported in women but it isn’t unheard of. There is a case series of pregnant women who got the infection reported from Congo.The prevalent gender inequality comes into play here. Women are less likely to seek care, especially if the lesions are in the genital area. Plus, if the infection is transmitted from the husband to the wife, and she knows that it is self-limiting, she might not seek care.This is compounded by the fact that the infections were mostly reported in regions near the forest, meaning access to health facilities weren’t very good, and among the poor. After all, that’s why they consumed bush meat. We should not stigmatise the infection so that people who do have symptoms seek care.What can be done to prevent the spread of the infection?It is preferable that people avoid sexual activities with partners who are unknown or not regular. If one does have sex with an unknown partner, a condom should be used – although, we still do not know whether condom can prevent transmission of Monkeypox.Good isolation and hygiene practices will also prevent household spread of the infection. It is always a good idea to wash hands after being outdoors.As for healthcare workers, they should just adhere to protocols that are followed for any infection – such as wearing gloves while checking the lesions or ensuring proper disposal of bio-medical waste so that those collecting or transporting it do not get exposed.The US is vaccinating high-risk populations post-exposure. Is there a need for vaccines here in India as well?It is too early to talk about vaccination; we have only reported four cases. We also need to look at the impact of the disease. There is a very low risk of death – less than one per cent. And, this estimate is based on data from Africa. So far, there have been no deaths reported outside Africa in the multi-country outbreak, though the number of cases has been pretty high. Statistically, the case fatality ratio is very, very low.The disease is not very severe, so the public health systems are unlikely to be over-burdened. Data from the Western countries shows that about 13 per cent of the cases are hospitalised. If you look at the breakup of the hospitalisations, many come in for pain management. This number is likely to be lower in India – varying among different socio-economic groups with different health-seeking behaviour. Most patients can be effectively isolated at home.The disease is as it is mildest, so is there a need for getting a vaccine after exposure to reduce severity? Also, the vaccine being used was developed against small pox, which has been eradicated. So there is no effectiveness data for it, it only has immunogenicity data. Why use it unless necessary?Can the smallpox vaccine, which was given to people before the elimination nearly 40 years ago, help?Theoretically, it’s possible. But for that we have to assume that our immune system still remembers a vaccine that was given 42 years ago. We don’t have evidence for that. But, then there are vaccines like the one for measles that is needed only once.Two genome sequences from the patients in Kerala have been uploaded by India. The infections have been caused by a different sub-lineage from the one that has been most commonly found. What does this mean?I think we should not over analyse these phylogenetic data. There can be any number of mutations in a virus but unless there are any clinical manifestations of it, it doesn’t matter to people. It is still important data but it is too premature to talk about it now.

Why is it too early to talk about mass vaccination against Monkeypox?
  • Why is it too early to talk about mass vaccination against Monkey Pox?
  • The Indian Express

    Dr Gangakhedker was the head of the department of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the country’s apex Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also a part of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) scientific advisory group on origins of novel pathogens. He has been working on HIV/AIDS since the 1980s, contributing significantly towards the national policies in place today. He was also instrumental in handling the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala in 2018.There have been over 18,000 cases of Monkeypox across 78 countries in the world, with 70 per cent cases being reported from Europe and 25 per cent cases from the Americas. Even though cases have rapidly spread across the world, there have only been five deaths, that too in countries where the infection was found even before the current outbreak, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). India has so far reported four cases – three from Kerala – all with a history of international travel – and one from Delhi without it.Now that we have detected a case of local transmission in India, are we likely to see more cases of Monkeypox in the coming months? Can the infection spread across the country like COVID-19?This virus does not have the classical pandemic potential. The first reason is the transmission efficiency is low. The Ro value (this is the basic reproduction number that represents the number of people who can get the infection from the affected) is far too less for a spread. It can never be like COVID-19 where the virus is transmitted rapidly through the respiratory route. This is mainly transmitted through sexual route.Second, not everyone is at an equal risk of getting the infection. The number of people at high risk is going to be smaller.Third, those with Monkeypox get skin lesions, with the symptoms starting between six to 13 days of getting the infection. If people are aware about the kind of lesions seen in Monkeypox, they will be careful about onward transmission.The WHO says that the disease is transmitted through close contact with lesions, bodily fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials. It is still unclear about the infection being transmitted through sexual routes. What does evidence suggest?The transmission of Monkeypox from animals to humans is well established; the disease manifests in people living close to forests and consuming bush meat. Over the years, there has been an increase in human-to-human transmission but we still do not know everything about it.What we have seen till now is that the Ro is higher among men who have sex with men (MSM). And the reason that perhaps happens is because most of the lesions tend to occur in the peri-genital region. Though the Monkeypox virus has been documented as being present in the semen, we don’t know if it has replication potential. The mere presence of the virus doesn’t make the infection sexually transmissible. If someone is in the incubation period and doesn’t have lesions and another person gets it from unprotected sex, then it establishes that the virus in the semen is replication competent. This is what is called a classical sexually transmitted disease.Even otherwise, if the infections are occurring only in people where you can ascribe it to sexual activity, it is quite possible that it might emerge as a sexually transmitted infection. It took us a couple of years to establish HIV as a sexually transmitted disease, but with the speed of research these days, we might know for sure in one-and-a-half months.However, every organism has a preferred route of transmission and an accidental one. As we have seen cases in children, clearly there is transmission through skin lesions as well. Hence, it is essential that those infected remain in isolation and maintain hygiene in a way that household transmission can be prevented.Most of the cases reported so far are in MSM. Is there any reason men are at a higher risk of getting the infection?We have seen fewer cases of the infection being reported in women but it isn’t unheard of. There is a case series of pregnant women who got the infection reported from Congo.The prevalent gender inequality comes into play here. Women are less likely to seek care, especially if the lesions are in the genital area. Plus, if the infection is transmitted from the husband to the wife, and she knows that it is self-limiting, she might not seek care.This is compounded by the fact that the infections were mostly reported in regions near the forest, meaning access to health facilities weren’t very good, and among the poor. After all, that’s why they consumed bush meat. We should not stigmatise the infection so that people who do have symptoms seek care.What can be done to prevent the spread of the infection?It is preferable that people avoid sexual activities with partners who are unknown or not regular. If one does have sex with an unknown partner, a condom should be used – although, we still do not know whether condom can prevent transmission of Monkeypox.Good isolation and hygiene practices will also prevent household spread of the infection. It is always a good idea to wash hands after being outdoors.As for healthcare workers, they should just adhere to protocols that are followed for any infection – such as wearing gloves while checking the lesions or ensuring proper disposal of bio-medical waste so that those collecting or transporting it do not get exposed.The US is vaccinating high-risk populations post-exposure. Is there a need for vaccines here in India as well?It is too early to talk about vaccination; we have only reported four cases. We also need to look at the impact of the disease. There is a very low risk of death – less than one per cent. And, this estimate is based on data from Africa. So far, there have been no deaths reported outside Africa in the multi-country outbreak, though the number of cases has been pretty high. Statistically, the case fatality ratio is very, very low.The disease is not very severe, so the public health systems are unlikely to be over-burdened. Data from the Western countries shows that about 13 per cent of the cases are hospitalised. If you look at the breakup of the hospitalisations, many come in for pain management. This number is likely to be lower in India – varying among different socio-economic groups with different health-seeking behaviour. Most patients can be effectively isolated at home.The disease is as it is mildest, so is there a need for getting a vaccine after exposure to reduce severity? Also, the vaccine being used was developed against small pox, which has been eradicated. So there is no effectiveness data for it, it only has immunogenicity data. Why use it unless necessary?Can the smallpox vaccine, which was given to people before the elimination nearly 40 years ago, help?Theoretically, it’s possible. But for that we have to assume that our immune system still remembers a vaccine that was given 42 years ago. We don’t have evidence for that. But, then there are vaccines like the one for measles that is needed only once.Two genome sequences from the patients in Kerala have been uploaded by India. The infections have been caused by a different sub-lineage from the one that has been most commonly found. What does this mean?I think we should not over analyse these phylogenetic data. There can be any number of mutations in a virus but unless there are any clinical manifestations of it, it doesn’t matter to people. It is still important data but it is too premature to talk about it now.