Covid-19 cases neared the 5-million mark in India on Tuesday with the tally at 4,984,260. According to the health ministry, four states—Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh—account for more than 50,000 active cases each, while 18 states have 5,000 to 50,000 active cases and 14 states and UTs have less than 5,000 active cases.

“Five states that account for 60% of total active cases are Maharashtra (29.5%), Karnataka (9.9%), Andhra Pradesh (9.4%), Uttar Pradesh (6.8%) and Tamil Nadu (4.7%)," said Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, ministry of health and family welfare. He said Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are seeing a surge in cases, the load is stabilizing in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu since the last three weeks with initial signs of a decline in the number of cases. So far, 81,498 people have died due to covid.

The ministry analyzed daily average deaths on a week-on-week basis across the top five states. “A rising trend of deaths is also observed in Uttar Pradesh, while Andhra Pradesh is showing early signs of decline over the last three weeks and Tamil Nadu is showing signs of decline over the last four weeks," said Bhushan.

When the number of tests is studied in tandem with positivity rates of respective states, it is found that Maharashtra has a positivity rate of 21.5% and, hence, needs to increase testing. States having high positivity rates will have to further ramp up testing and must aspire to keep their positivity rate below the national average of 8.4%, Bhushan added.

More than 3.9 million covid patients have recovered in India. According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, this has been the highest number of recoveries in the world.

Assuring that there was no shortage of oxygen for handling critical covid-19 patients, the Centre said around 6% of covid patients required oxygen support. Bhushan said India has a capacity of manufacturing 6,900 metric tonnes of oxygen daily, while around 2,800 metric tonnes of oxygen is required for covid-19 and non-covid health use. Around 2,200 metric tonnes are used for industrial purposes. Hence, at the national level, there is no shortage of oxygen. “This morning, there was a surplus of 1,900 metric tonnes of oxygen," he said.

“Cadila and Bharat Biotech’s phase 2 trials are underway, while Serum Institute is about to start its phase 3 trials at 15 sites in India," said Dr Balram Bhargava, director general, Indian Council of Medical Research.

He said talks are on between the high-level committee on vaccines and Russian diplomats about the mechanisms for conducting a phase 3 trial of the vaccine developed by Russia, in India.

India is also studying the efficacy of plasma therapy in covid patients.

“Randomized control trials conducted on 464 patients at 39 hospitals in 25 districts across 14 states/UTs have shown that it does not reduce mortality or prevent progression from moderate to severe disease. However, these findings are under peer review," Bhargava added.
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