Coronavirus: US study on remdesivir inconclusive, says Health Ministry
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday said that a study conducted on an antiviral drug in the United States for COVID-19 treatment is inconclusive. The Ministry said that India is still waiting for "larger evidence" to support the use of the drug, called remdesivir, reiterating that there is currently no confirmed treatment protocol for the viral disease. Here are more details.
Speaking at a press briefing, Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said that the US study on remdesivir did not conclusively prove its efficacy. The US government-backed study was conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Agarwal said, "We are waiting for larger evidence to be generated for us to take meaningful action at the field level."
According to the latest update from the Health Ministry, by 5 pm on Thursday, India had reported a total of 33,610 COVID-19 cases with 1,075 deaths and 8,372 recoveries. Based on data available till Thursday morning, Agarwal said India's recovery rate has risen to 25.19% compared to 13.06% a fortnight ago. He said 630 new recoveries were confirmed over the past 24 hours.
India's fatality rate due to COVID-19 stood at 3.2%, Agarwal said, adding that men constituted 65% of all deaths. Agarwal also said that 78% of all deaths were cases involving co-morbidities. Among those who died, 14% were aged less than 45, 34.8% were aged in the bracket of 45-60, 42% in the 60-75 age bracket, and 9.2% were aged above 75.
Agarwal said that India's doubling rate currently stands at 11 days. He said several states recorded a better doubling rate than the national average. These states are as follows: 11-20 days: Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab. 20-40 days: Karnataka, Ladakh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Kerala. Over 40 days: Assam, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh.
Home Ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava shared inputs communicated by Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) deployed in Hyderabad and Chennai. Srivastava said that the IMCTs found both cities to be handling the crisis well.
The IMCT in Hyderabad recommended separate donning and doffing areas at the King Koti District Hospital, and separate corridors for staff and patients. It also advised against admitting patients in wards without attached toilets. The IMCT in Chennai recommended strengthening social distancing norms at bank branches, slums, etc. It also recommended spreading awareness in fishermen colonies, increasing use of PPEs, and screening truck drivers.
The Home Ministry was asked about the demands from several states seeking permission to transport stranded persons across India using special trains. Srivastava said that the directives issued on Wednesday only allow buses for transportation.
When asked about lockdown extension, Agarwal side-stepped the query saying, "We need to inculcate physical distancing into our daily lifestyle to break the chain of transmission. It's equally important to also focus on containment measures." The government said it will furnish new guidelines soon, which will be effective from May 4. Srivastava said the guidelines will answer queries about the operation of e-commerce platforms.