India should be leading research into the mixing and matching of different Covid vaccines in a single patient, a leading WHO scientist has said, given its huge population and constraints on supplies.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan’s comments come as discussion of Covid is set to dominate the opening of a new parliamentary session in India on Monday, with opposition parties seeking to target the Modi government over its handling of the devastating second wave.
The pace of India’s vaccination drive will also likely be among the issues raised. About 23 per cent of India’s population has received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and only about 6 per cent is fully inoculated, according to a Reuters vaccine tracker. The government has said it aims to vaccinate the entire adult population by the end of this year, a target that seems increasingly out of reach.
India reported 38,164 new coronavirus infections in the 24 hours ending Monday morning, and deaths rose by 499.
Meanwhile, the UK prime minister Boris Johnson has urged the public to remain cautious as England braced for the lifting of all remaining lockdown restrictions.
Experts have warned of the risks of unlocking as the Delta variant of Covid-19 — which was first detected in India — spreads. Professor Neil Ferguson, a scientist on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told the BBC that the unlocking would lead to 100,000 daily cases, with about 1,000 hospitalisations.
Government ‘doing the right thing’ in lifting restrictions, says vaccines minister
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said he was “confident” the government was “doing the right thing” in lifting most coronavirus restrictions in England.
He told Sky News: “We have to be careful, we have to remain vigilant.
“Our border controls remain in place, our expectation and recommendation that people in crowded places continue to wear masks and take both personal and corporate responsibility, and it is great to see TfL and others doing that.
“It is a step forward, an important step forward – there is no perfect time to take this step, this is as good a time as any as (Professor) Chris Whitty has said, with the summer holidays and schools being out, which will hopefully bear down on the R number, the transition rate.
“So, I’m confident that we are doing the right thing.”
Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 08:22
Boris Johnson pleads with people to ‘stick to rules’ – hours after trying to escape self-isolation
Boris Johnson has been accused of undermining his own pleas for caution from the public as remaining Covid lockdown restrictions are lifted today after attempting to dodge an instruction to self-isolate.
The prime minister and chancellor Rishi Sunak were forced into a U-turn after announcing they would sidestep 10 days’ quarantine as contacts of Covid-positive Sajid Javid by joining a pilot scheme trialling daily testing as an alternative to isolation.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more details:
Chiara Giordano19 July 2021 07:58
India working on buffer stock ahead of third wave
The Indian government is working to procure a buffer stock of essential medicines amid predictions that a third wave of Covid-19 could hit the country as soon as August.
The government plans to have a 30-day stock of important drugs whose shortage was reported during the second wave of the pandemic, sources told Business Standard.
This includes Remdesivir, a drug that studies suggest can reduce the recovery time in patients hospitalised for Covid. Shortages of the drug forced people to turn to the black market during India’s second wave, paying exorbitant amounts.
Akshita Jain19 July 2021 07:16
Covid-19 outbreak aboard South Korean military ship worsens
More than 80 per cent of the personnel aboard a South Korean military vessel on anti-piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden have tested positive for Covid-19.
Authorities said that only 50 of the over 301 personnel have tested negative and they are now being airlifted back to South Korea.
None of the personnel were vaccinated. The first cases aboard the ship were reported last week when six service members tested positive.
Akshita Jain19 July 2021 07:10
Record number of doctor deaths reported in Indonesia
Indonesia’s doctors association has said that a total of 114 doctors died in the country due to Covid-19 between 1 and 17 July, the highest number reported for any period of similar length.
The medical body also expressed concerns that the healthcare system might not be able to cope.
Triggered by the Delta variant — first identified in India — the number of coronavirus cases and deaths have surged sharply in Indonesia.
The country has vaccinated 95 per cent of its healthcare workers, but the rising number of deaths among doctors has prompted the government to give a dose of the Moderna vaccine as a booster to those inoculated with China’s Sinovac, according to Reuters.
Akshita Jain19 July 2021 06:25
Zero Covid deaths reported in Delhi for first time since 2 March
India’s national capital Delhi reported zero deaths due to Covid-19 on Sunday for the first time since 2 March.
Delhi added 51 new cases and the active cases have come down to 592.
This comes as the national capital said it’s grappling with a shortage of vaccine supplies which has slowed down the inoculation drive. The number of daily doses administered fell by 50 per cent in Delhi last week.
Akshita Jain19 July 2021 05:59
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic for Monday 19 July, 2021.
Akshita Jain19 July 2021 05:11