Corona Letter: Tears of infected could be Covid source


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  • India’s health ministry Monday confirmed 40,134 new cases and 422 fatalities, taking the total to 31,695,958 cases (413,718 active cases) and 424,773 fatalities.
  • Worldwide: Over 199.02 million cases and 4.2 million fatalities.
  • Vaccination in India: 472,223,639 doses. Worldwide: Over 4.1 billion doses.
Should govt make money from vaccines or make them cheaper?
Should govt make money from vaccines or make them cheaper?
  • Bharat Biotech will pay a royalty of 5% on net sales of its Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin to Indian Council of Medical Research.
  • Public health experts have questioned the need for the payout, to be done on a half-yearly basis and the basis for the calculation. The pay-out reflects in the cost of the vaccine, and hence impacts affordability, they told TOI.
  • While the Centre has revised the price to Rs 225 per dose for Covaxin for the fresh order placed in July, it is the most expensive jab in the private market at Rs 1,410.
  • The government had invested in pre-clinical studies for Covaxin, and Rs 35 crore was spent on its clinical trials, according to the Centre’s affidavit filed in Supreme Court in May.
  • “The government should also verify the investments made by Bharat Biotech. If ICMR gets a royalty of 5% on Rs 35 crore funding, can the government verify that BB invested upwards of Rs 650 crore for development of Covaxin?” Murali Neelakantan, principal lawyer at Amicus said.
  • Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan alleged that there appeared to be a nexus between government and company for earning profits. “Rather than giving 5% royalty to ICMR, the Centre should order technology transfer and a compulsory licence be given to not only the government-owned companies, but to all potential manufacturers.”
  • “The royalty should have been used instead to reduce the price of the vaccine by 5% for the citizens during the pandemic, and not as a source of revenue by a government body like ICMR, entrusted for disaster management of Covid-19,” added Rohit Jain, a doctor working on patient issues. Queries mailed by TOI to ICMR went unanswered.
Tears of infected patients could be Covid source
Tears of infected patients could be Covid source
  • Tears of patients with and without ‘ocular manifestations’ can be a potential source of Covid-19 infection, suggests a study by Government Medical College, Amritsar. (‘Ocular manifestation’ refers to an eye condition that is caused directly or indirectly by a disease in another part of the body.)
  • Although the primary transmission of the infection is from respiratory droplets, the risk of transmission through other routes such as faecal-oral and conjunctival secretions cannot be ignored, according to the study that evaluated and compared the presence of Covid-19 in tears of positive patients with and without ‘ocular manifestation’.
  • The study was conducted on 120 Covid infected patients, 60 with ocular complaints and the rest with no ocular manifestations. About 37% of the study participants with ocular symptoms had moderate Covid infection, while about 63% had a severe infection. In the second group, about 52% of the patients had moderate disease and over 48% had severe disease.
  • The samples of tears were taken within 48 hours of admission from both the eyes of enrolled patients for evaluating the presence of Covid by conventional reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method of testing, considered the gold standard in the diagnosis of Covid.
  • In total, 17.5% of patients — 21 of 120 — under evaluation for RT-PCR of tears were positive for Covid out of which 11 patients (9.16%) had ocular manifestations and 10 (8.33%) did not have any ocular complaint, pointing out that coronavirus-infected patients can shed the infection in conjunctival secretions even in the absence of ocular involvement. Full story here.
Glenmark to make nasal spray for Covid prevention
Glenmark to make nasal spray for Covid prevention
  • Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has entered into a long-term partnership to make and commercialise a nasal spray developed by Canadian biotech firm SaNOtize as a preventive treatment for Covid-19 in India and other emerging Asian markets.
  • Marketed as a “hand sanitiser for the nose,” it is designed to kill the virus in the upper airways, preventing it from incubating and spreading to the lungs.
  • SaNOtize’s clinical trials in the UK and Canada showed the Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) was a safe and effective antiviral treatment to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, shorten its course, and reduce the severity of symptoms. In the first 24 hours, NONS reduced the average viral load by around 95%, and then by more than 99% within 72 hours.
  • Glenmark has been asked by the Indian drug regulators to conduct a Phase III clinical trial in the country after it sought emergency approval for the import and marketing of the nasal spray. The trials are expected to be completed, followed by the commercial launch of the spray, by the fourth quarter of this year, Glenmark said in a statement.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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