As government response and public concern over Covid-19 ratchet up, the medical community is looking at two aspects. First, how much testing is optimal — should we expand it beyond at-risk populations to fl atten the disease curve as South Korea has done, or does mass testing burden the healthcare system? Second, where do India and other countries stand in developing a vaccine?

ICMR’S TESTING STRATEGY

  • Body had earlier said there is no community transmission
  • Disease primarily in individuals with travel history to affected countries or via close contact with positive cases
  • Everyone needn’t be tested, it had said earlier
  • However, ICMR had conducted random tests on people with flu-like symptoms
  • Results likely to come in on Wednesday

SO WHOM TO TEST?

  • Individuals in close contact with laboratory-confirmed cases
  • History of travel to affected countries in previous 14 days
  • Home quarantine for 14 days
  • Symptom watch for 14 day
  • If no, no testing

THIS APPROACH DIFFERS FROM COUNTRIES SUCH AS SOUTH KOREA, WHICH DID MASS TESTING

INDIVIDUALS TESTED

  • India-6,500
  • China-320,000
  • Italy-86,011
  • South Korea-248,647
  • Korea US-13,624

SOME DIFFER

Experts such as Gagandeep Kang of Translational Health Science & Tech Institute say testing should move beyond at-risk groups

WHERE ARE TESTS HAPPENING; AT WHAT COST?

  • Govt-approved testing facilities: 71
  • Cost of PCR testing quoted by govt: Rs 5,000 per test
  • Cost at pvt diagnostic centres: Rs 8,000-10,000 per test
  • Many large pvt players say they are ready to carry out PCR tests

KERALA REVISES TESTING GUIDELINES

  • State says 70-80% of affected will develop only mild symptoms, not require hospitalisation
  • Has asked those with mild symptoms not to get tested
  • Patients with breathlessness, chest pain, fall in blood pressure, respiratory distress must go for tests

WHERE ARE WE ON A VACCINE?

  • WHO approves anti-malarial drug Chloroquine
  • Also, anti-retrovirals Lopinavir, Ritonavir, Darunavir, Ribavirin, Favipiravir, and Remdesivir (not approved yet)
  • In India, Serum Institute and Zydus Cadila have vaccines under development
  • Mumbai-based Lasa Supergenerics says it is developing Favipiravir
  • US-based Moderna’s vaccine candidate went on human clinical trials last week
  • Norway-based CEPI** has funded vaccine candidates for firms such as Innovia and CureVac, as well as University of Queensland
  • US’ BARDA# & Regeneron too working on vaccines

CORONA-METER

Over 170,000 individuals across the world have been infected by the novel coronavirus and 6,509 have died, with cases and deaths outside China overtaking those in that country…

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