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First human bird flu case reported from Gurugram

 

An 11-year-old child has been reported as the first human case of Bird Flu (H5Nx) from Gurugram, Haryana, an official release by the Health Ministry informed.

The male child was diagnosed with AML in the Paediatrics department, AIIMS, Delhi in June 2021. He developed symptoms of fever, cough, coryza, and breathing difficulty, soon after induction therapy for AML. He was diagnosed as AML with febrile neutropenia with pneumonia and shock, which progressed to ARDS. He was admitted to AIIMS, New Delhi on 2nd July 2021. The boy suffered from multi organ dysfunction and died on 12 July 2021.

Department of Microbiology AIIMS received the Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) for respiratory panel testing on 7 and 11 July 2021. The sample has tested Positive for both Influenza A and Influenza B. It was also negative for SARS COV-2 and other respiratory viruses. Subtyping for Influenza A remained inconclusive with available reagents for H1N1 and H3N2 at AIIMS. So, the samples were sent to NIV on 13th July 2021

At NIV, both the samples were tested for Influenza A and Influenza B along with Influenza A seasonal (H1N1, H1N1 pdm09 and H3N2), non-seasonal avian subtypes (H5, H7, H9 and H10) by Real time PCR. The result showed that the sample is positive for A/H5 and Type B Victoria lineage. Whole genome sequencing and Virus isolation is in process.

NCDC, Delhi received information on July 16th, 2021 from AIIMS, Delhi along with a lab report from NIV Pune. The information was communicated to the IDSP State Surveillance Unit (SSU), Haryana to initiate an epidemiological investigation into the case. The matter was also reported to the Animal Husbandry Department. A team from NCDC composed of Epidemiologists and Microbiologists was constituted and the team immediately visited AIIMS, New Delhi and Gurugram for undertaking an epidemiological assessment. The State health department and the animal husbandry department officials are also involved in the investigation.

Based on the available information, the team of doctors and nurses treating the patient are being monitored since 16th July 2021 for the development of any influenza-like illness with no one reported symptomatic till date. Contact tracing was undertaken and family members, close contacts and health care workers are under close surveillance. None of the close contacts has any symptoms. Contact tracing, an active search for any symptomatic case has been carried out in the hospital and area where the boy resided.

Further, epidemiological investigation by NCDC, involving animal husbandry department and State government surveillance unit, is underway and appropriate public health measures have been instituted.

#BirdFlu
22-July-2021
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Dr Reddy's announces commercial launch of 2 DG

 

Dr. Reddy's Laboratories today announced the commercial launch of 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG). 

Dr. Reddy's will supply the same to major Government as well as private hospitals across India. In the initial weeks, the Company will make the drug available in hospitals across metros and Tier 1 cities, and subsequently expand coverage to the rest of India.

According to a press release issued by Dr. Reddy's, the 2-DG manufactured by them has a purity of 99.5 per cent and is being sold commercially under the brand name 2DGTM. The maximum retail price (MRP) of each sachet has been fixed at Rs 990, with a subsidized rate offered to Government institutions. 

2-DG was developed by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), in collaboration with Dr. Reddy's. 2-DG is an oral drug. It can be administered only upon prescription and under the supervision of a qualified physician to hospitalised moderate to severe COVID-19 patients as an adjunct therapy to the existing standard of care.

Emergency use approval for anti-COVID-19 therapeutic application of the drug was granted on May 1, 2021.

#DrReddys
28-June-2021
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PM announces launch of MYoga app

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the M-Yoga app on the occasion of the seventh International Yoga Day, today. 

Speaking on the occasion, PM Modi said, "India and WHO have taken an important step today. The world is getting the M-Yoga app which will provide many videos of yoga training based on common yoga protocol in many languages. This is a great example of the fusion of modern technology and ancient science and I hope that m-yoga app will help in spreading the yoga world over and will contribute to the efforts of One World One Health."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that despite the pandemic, this year's theme for International Yoga Day - "Yoga for wellness" has raised the morale of people and he wished for the health of every country, society and individual and hoped that we will be united and will strengthen each other. 

The Prime Minister talked of Yoga's role during the pandemic. He pointed out that it was easy for countries to forget Yoga Day during the pandemic as it is not intrinsic to their culture but, instead, enthusiasm for Yoga has increased globally. Yoga helped people to muster confidence and strength to fight with the pandemic world over. The Prime Minister recalled how frontline Corona warriors made Yoga their shield and made themselves strong through yoga and how people, doctors nurses took to Yoga to deal with the effects of the virus. He said experts are stressing the importance of breathing exercises like pranayama and anulom-vilom for strengthening our respiratory system.

Quoting great Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar, the Prime Minister said yoga goes to the root cause of disease and is instrumental in healing. He expressed satisfaction that globally, research is being conducted on the healing properties of Yoga. 

The Prime Minister emphasized the holistic nature of yoga and said that it takes care of physical health as well as mental health. 

Quoting from Gita, The Prime Minister said we need to continue moving on the collective journey of yoga as yoga has a solution for everyone. It is important that yoga reaches every person while keeping intact its foundation and core. Yoga acharyas and all of us should contribute in this task of taking yoga to everyone, said the Prime Minister.

#Yoga
21-June-2021
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Non toxic long lasting hand sanitizer may reach the markets soon

 

A Pune-based start-up has developed an environment-friendly hand sanitizer that is gentle on the hands and does not dry them.

The sanitizer, which will soon be available in the market, is stated to be alcohol-free, aqueous, non-inflammable, non-toxic and developed from Silver Nanoparticles.

Recurrent drying up of hands due to repeated application of hand sanitizers is a challenge that people have faced during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The hand sanitizer developed by WeinnovateBiosolutions prolongs antimicrobial activity thus obviating the need for repeated applications. Silver nanoparticles give slow and sustained release of silver ions to kill microorganisms that come in contact. Besides, it can be stored in ambient conditions.

It has successfully completed Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) approved clinical trial for the hand sanitizer and demonstrated high efficiency in killing viruses.

WeinnovateBiosolutionswas supported by CAWACH 2020 grant of National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and incubated at Entrepreneurship Development Centre (Venture Centre), Pune. They developed the colloidal silver solution-based hand sanitiser. The technology operates on the ability of the silver nanoparticles to prevent the synthesis of viral negative-strand RNA and viral budding.

"We are very confident of the study outcomes and waiting to get the license for our hand sanitiser formulation from CDSCO, India. We are sure that such innovation will push India towards its 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' mission and make India a self-sustained nation to face such pandemics in future," said Dr Anupama Engineer, Co-founder and COO, WeinnovateBiosolutions.

Silver nanoparticles have been found to be effective as an antiviral that acts against many deadly viruses like HIV, Hepatitis B, Herpes simplex virus, Influenza virus, and so on. 

A study to evaluate the efficacy of hand sanitiser on different types of viruses is also currently underway by the group.

#HandSanitizer
17-June-2021
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3D printing and pharmaceuticals result in novel type of mask

 

An integration of 3D printing and pharmaceuticals has resulted in a novel type of mask which attacks the virus when viral particles come in contact with it. 

Developed by Pune-based start-up firm Thincr Technologies India Private Limited, these masks are coated with anti-viral agents known otherwise as virucides. The virucidal mask project is among the earliest projects to have been selected for commercialization, by Technology Development Board (TDB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, as part of the Government's fight against COVID-19.

Addressing the Need for High-Quality More Effective Masks

Thincr Technologies India works in the development of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D-printers to discover new pharmaceutical formulations and drug-loaded filaments of different drugs. Founder Director Dr Shitalkumar Zambad explained: "We started thinking of the problem and possible solutions, during the initial days of the pandemic. We sensed that use of face masks will become nearly universal as the most important tool to prevent infection. But we realized that most masks that were then available and within the reach of common people were homemade and of relatively low quality. It is this need for high-quality masks which led us to undertake a project to develop and commercialize cost-effective and more efficient virucidal coated masks, as a better approach to reduce the spread of infection."

With this aim, Thincr Technologies began to focus on developing virucidal coating formulations. It was developed with support from Merck Life Sciences located in Nerul, whose research facility was used for the purpose. The coating formulation has been utilized to coat the fabric layer and the 3D printing principle was employed to achieve uniformity of coating. The coated layer can be incorporated as an additional layer in N-95 masks, 3-Ply masks, simple cloth masks, 3D printed or other plastic cover masks, along with reusable filters. These masks thus provide additional protection beyond the protection achieved by filtration mechanisms.

The coating has been tested and shown to inactivate the SARS-COV-2 virus. The filters of these reusable masks have been developed using 3D printing. Further, Dr Zambad said that the masks have been found to have bacterial filtration efficiency higher than 95 per cent. "In this project, for the first time, we used 3D-printers to make multilayer cloth filters to precisely fit for plastic-moulded or 3D-printed mask covers."

Thincr Technologies India Pvt. Ltd. has applied for a patent for this product. Commercial-scale manufacturing has also started, informed Dr Zambad. Meanwhile, 6,000 virucidal masks have been distributed by an NGO to four Government Hospitals in Nandurbar, Nashik and Bengaluru, for use by healthcare workers and also to a girls' school and college in Bengaluru.

#COVID19
14-June-2021
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Efforts being taken to ramp up availability of Amphotericin B for treatment of Black Fungus

 

In recent days, several States and UTs have reported an increasing number of patients suffering from COVID complications in the form of Mucormycosis, popularly known as Black Fungus.

There is also a reported shortage of Amphotericin-B, an anti-fungal drug used for the treatment of the Black Fungus disease.

Union Ministry of Health along with the Department of Pharmaceuticals and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is making efforts for significantly ramping up domestic production of Amphotericin-B drug to address this shortage. The Union Government has also made efforts in supplementing the domestic availability through securing supply from global manufacturers.

There are five existing manufacturers of Amphotericin-B in the country and one importer:

  1. Bharat Serums & Vaccines Ltd
  2. BDR Pharmaceuticals Ltd
  3. Sun Pharma Ltd
  4. Cipla Ltd
  5. Life Care Innovations
  6. Mylan Labs (importer)

The production capacity of these companies was extremely limited in the month of April 2021. As a result of the handholding by the Government of India, these domestic manufactures will cumulatively produce 1,63,752 vials of Amphotericin-B in May 2021. This will be further ramped up to 2,55,114 vials in the month of June 2021.

Apart from this, efforts are being made for supplementing the domestic availability of this anti-fungal drug through import. In May 2021, 3,63,000 vials of Amphotericin-B will be imported, thereby resulting in total availability in the country (inclusive of the domestic production) of 5,26752 vials.

As many as 3,15,000 vials will be imported in June 2021. Hence, along with the domestic supply, the countrywide availability of Amphotericin-B will be enhanced to 5,70,114 vials in June 2021.

As a result of the proactive efforts by Union Ministry of Health, five more manufacturers have been given the license to produce the anti-fungal drug within the country. These are:

  1.  NATCO Pharmaceuticals, Hyderabad
  2. Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Vadodara
  3. Gufic Biosciences Ltd, Gujarat
  4. Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Pune
  5. Lyka, Gujarat

Cumulatively, these companies will start producing 1,11,000 vials of Amphotericin-B per month from July 2021. The Union Health Ministry and the Department of Pharmaceuticals are together trying to proactively facilitate these five manufacturers to prepone some of this production so that these additional supplies begin in June 2021.

Over and above this, the Union Ministry of Health in collaboration with MEA is also actively exploring other global sources from where the Amphotericin-B drug can be imported. Union Health Ministry is also trying to procure other antifungal drugs which can be used in treatment of Black Fungus.

#BlackFungus
21-May-2021
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Veteran Defence Doctors providing free online consultation across country

 

In order to mitigate the criticality of inadequate availability of specialised medical manpower, veteran defence doctors have come forward answering the call of the nation to provide free online consultation services on the e-Sanjeevani platform.

This will help on making the invaluable experience of veteran defence medical professionals available to fellow citizens of the country.

e-Sanjeevani OPD is a Govt of India flagship telemedicine platform, developed by the C-DAC, Mohali under the aegis of MoHFW, Govt of India. It facilitates free online medical consultation to all citizens of India, as well as provides for online prescription of medicines.

'Ex-Defence OPD' was launched on the 7th of May 2021 in a phased manner by Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Surgeon Vice Admiral Rajat Datta, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services. Initially available for Uttar Pradesh, it was extended to Rajasthan on 10th May and Uttarakhand on 11th May as more veteran defence volunteer doctors came onboard. As of today, 85 veteran defence doctors are providing their services on the portal and have provided online consultation to more than 1000 patients.

After the successful roll out in 3 states, Ex-Defence OPD, now renamed as Defence National OPD, has been rolled out pan India today and is available on www.esanjeevaniopd.in.

The availability of veteran defence medical professionals on this Govt of India platform has provided additional impetus to the STAY HOME OPD. This initiative is expected to go a long way in obtaining necessary medical advice and consultation in the safe environment of patients' homes, avoiding unnecessary visits to hospitals and increasing the risk of getting infected with COVID and overburdening the limited health resources.

#ESanjeevani
14-May-2021
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FAQs on Oxygen Concentrators

 

The increase in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country has led to a big spike in demand for oxygen concentrators.

However, many people don't know about what oxygen concentrators are and how to use them.

Here's a quick lowdown on the same.

To survive, we need a steady supply of oxygen, flowing from our lungs to various cells in the body. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that affects our lungs and can cause the oxygen level to drop to dangerous levels. In such a situation, we would need to undergo what is known as oxygen therapy – using oxygen for medical treatment, to enhance our oxygen levels to clinically acceptable levels.

Oxygen level is measured by oxygen saturation, known briefly as SpO2. This is a measure of the amount of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood. A healthy individual with normal lungs will have an arterial oxygen saturation of 95% – 100%.

According to a WHO training manual on pulse oximetry, if the oxygen saturation is 94% or lower, the patient needs to be treated quickly. A saturation of less than 90% is a clinical emergency. Hence, to maintain an adequate level of oxygen an Oxygen Concentrator is needed.

Oxygen Concentrator – how does it work?

We know that atmospheric air has roughly 78 per cent nitrogen and 21 per cent oxygen. Oxygen concentrators are simple devices that do precisely what their name promises – they take in ambient air and increase the oxygen concentration, by filtering out and throwing away nitrogen.

These Oxygen concentrators work the same way in supplying oxygen needed by the body such as oxygen tanks or cylinders, with the use of a cannula, oxygen masks or nasal tubes. The difference is that, while the cylinders need to be refilled, the Oxygen Concentrators can work 24 x 7.

So, who can use them, and when?

Does this mean that anyone who finds their oxygen level falling below acceptable levels can use a concentrator and help oneself? Absolutely not.

Speaking to PIB on the appropriate usage of concentrators, Professor and Head of Department Anaesthesia, B. J. Medical College, Pune, Prof. Sanyogita Naik said: "Oxygen concentrators can be used only in moderate cases of COVID-19 when the patient experiences drop in oxygen levels, where the oxygen requirement is a maximum of 5 litres per minute."

The professor added that oxygen concentrators are also very useful for patients experiencing post-COVID complications which necessitate oxygen therapy.

Can we use them on our own?

The answer is a strict no. Speaking at a webinar organized by PIB on April 30th, Dr Chaitanya H Balakrishnan, Covid Co-ordinator, St. John's Medical College Hospital, Bangalore made it abundantly clear that using oxygen concentrator without medical guidance can be very harmful. "Patients with moderate pneumonia induced by COVID-19 - with oxygen saturation less than 94 - can benefit from supplemental oxygen given through oxygen concentrator, but only till they get hospital admission. However, patients using it themselves without suitable medical advice can be harmful."

Dr Chaitanya summarised saying, "So, till you get a bed, oxygen concentrator can be beneficial, but definitely not without guidance from chest physician or internal medicine specialist. It also depends on patients' pre-existing lung conditions."

Prof Sanyogita too says that both purchase and usage of concentrators is to be done only based on prescription by a medical doctor.  Depending upon the capacity, O2 Concentrators cost upwards of Rs 30,000. 

O2 Concentrators market in India

India has seen a big spurt in the manufacture and sale of Oxygen concentrators. Besides multi-national brands, several Indian start-ups, funded under the CAWACH (Centre for Augmenting War with Covid 19 Health Crisis) programme of the Department of Science & Technology, have developed efficient and cost-effective Oxygen Concentrators.

Given their usefulness during the second wave of Covid Pandemic, 1 lakh Oxygen Concentrators are being procured through PM CARES fund.

#Oxygen
01-May-2021
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Union Health Minister approves National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021

 

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister has approved the "National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021". The document of the policy, approved on 30th of March 2021, has been uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

The field of rare diseases is very complex and heterogeneous and prevention, treatment and management of rare diseases has multiple challenges. Early diagnosis of rare diseases is a major challenge owing to a variety of factors that include lack of awareness among primary care physicians, lack of adequate screening and diagnostic facilities etc. There are also fundamental challenges in the research and development for the majority of rare diseases as relatively little is known about the pathophysiology or the natural history of these diseases particularly in the Indian context. Various High Courts and the Supreme Court have also expressed concern about the lack of a national policy for rare diseases.

To address all these challenges, a comprehensive National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021 has been finalized by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare after multiple consultations with different stakeholders and experts in the area.

Salient Features of the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021:-

  1. The Rare Diseases Policy aims to lower the high cost of treatment for rare diseases with the increased focus on indigenous research with the help of a National Consortium to be set up with the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare as convenor.  
  2. The policy also envisages the creation of a national hospital-based registry of rare diseases so that adequate data is available for coming up with a definition of rare diseases and for research and development related to rare diseases within the country.
  3. The Policy also focuses on early screening and prevention through primary and secondary health care infrastructure such as Health and Wellness Centres and District Early Intervention Centres (DEICs) and through counselling for the high-risk parents.
  4. The screening will also be supported by Nidan Kendras set up by the Department of Biotechnology.
  5. The policy also aims to strengthen tertiary health care facilities for prevention and treatment of rare diseases through designating 8 health facilities as Centre of Excellence and these CoEs will also be provided one-time financial support of up to Rs 5 crores for upgradation of diagnostics facilities.                    
  6. A provision for financial support up to Rs 20 lakhs under the Umbrella Scheme of Rastriya Arogya Nidhi is proposed for treatment, of those rare diseases that require a one-time treatment (diseases listed under Group 1 in the rare disease policy).
  7. Beneficiaries for such financial assistance would not be limited to BPL families, but the benefit will be extended to about 40 per cent of the population, who are eligible under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.  
  8. Besides, the Policy also envisages a crowdfunding mechanism in which corporates and individuals will be encouraged to extend financial support through a robust IT platform for the treatment of rare diseases.
  9. Funds so collected will be utilized by Centres of Excellence for treatment of all three categories of rare diseases as the first charge and then the balance financial resources could also be used for research.

#MinistryofHealthandFamilyWelfare
04-April-2021
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Rajya Sabha passes The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2021

 

The Rajya Sabha has approved the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to amend the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 on 16th March 2021. The Bill was approved in Lok Sabha today.

Important features of amendments:

  1. Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for special categories of women which will be defined in the amendments to the MTP Rules and would include survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc.
  2. The opinion of only one provider will be required up to 20 weeks of gestation and of two providers for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
  3. Upper gestation limit not to apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by Medical Board. The composition, functions and other details of the Medical Board to be prescribed subsequently in Rules under the Act.
  4. Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
  5. The ground of failure of contraceptive has been extended to women and her partner.
  6. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is for expanding access of women to safe and legal abortion services on therapeutic, eugenic, humanitarian or social grounds. The amendments include the substitution of certain sub-sections, insertion of certain new clauses under some sections in the existing Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, with a view to increase the upper gestation limit for termination of pregnancy under certain conditions and to strengthen access to comprehensive abortion care, under strict conditions, without compromising service and quality of safe abortion.

It is a step towards the safety and well-being of the women and many women will be benefitted from this. Recently several petitions were received by the Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at a gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women. The amendments will increase the ambit and access of women to safe abortion services and will ensure dignity, autonomy, confidentiality and justice for women who need to terminate the pregnancy.

#RajyaSabha #HealthMinistry
17-March-2021