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Coronavirus Outbreak

One Year After WHO Declared COVID-19 A Global Pandemic, The World Continues To Be Under The Threat Of Coronavirus Variants

According to experts, during the one year of COVID-19 outbreak being declared a global pandemic, people around the world including scientists, healthworkers, policy makers and citizens have learnt a lot about the novel coronavirus including ways to prevent the transmission and developing effective vaccines against it

One Year After WHO Declared COVID-19 A Global Pandemic, The World Continues To Be Under The Threat Of Coronavirus Variants
Highlights
  • COVID-19 outbreak was declared as a pandemic by WHO on March 11, 2020
  • WHO is currently tracking 3 coronavirus variants- B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1
  • There are currently 4.8 crore active cases of COVID-19 worldwide

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO), on March 11, 2020, declared COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as a global pandemic. This official declaration of the global pandemic changed the course of actions being taken to fight the outbreak and various countries announced lockdown in the subsequent days to break the chain of transmission. One year later, the world is still facing the rage of coronavirus, more so as it has been mutating, multiplying and some of its variants becoming even more contagious.

Also Read: COVID Vaccination: Experts Answer Queries Related To Coronavirus Vaccine And Comorbidities

While announcing the first-ever pandemic caused by a coronavirus, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom said,

Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.

According to the WHO’s COVID-19 data for March 12, there are 4.8 crore active cases of COVID-19 worldwide. While 6.7 crore people have recovered, 26.29 lakh people have died due to COVID-19 globally.

With over 2.8 crore active cases and more than 5.3 lakh fatalities, the United States continues to remain the worst affected by the global pandemic. In terms of active cases, the United Kingdom is second (41.17 lakh), followed by France (36.83 lakh), Spain (29.55 lakh), Netherlands (11.2 lakh), Brazil (10.2 lakh). India has over 1.97 lakh active cases and suffered the death of over 1.58 lakh people because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India said on March 11 during its weekly press conference that the state of Maharashtra is currently facing the most concerning situation. It said that the reduced testing, tracing and lack of COVID appropriate behaviours have led to the surge in active cases in the state. Apart from Maharashtra, the other states that have high number cases are Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. These six states are responsible for 85.91 per cent of the new coronavirus cases reported in the past 24 hours.

Also Read: COVID-19 Pandemic: Are New Coronavirus Variants More Contagious? WHO Expert Answers All FAQ About SARS-CoV-2 Mutations?

Keeping Up With The Changing Virus

Since the outbreak has stated, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been mutating which is a normal phenomenon in viruses when they try to multiply but end up producing erratic copies of themselves, says Dr Preeti Kumar from Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). She further said that there are thousands of strains of coronavirus are floating across the world but out of those, some are more dominant. According to Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Epidemiologist and Technical Lead, COVID-19, WHO along with its partners, is currently tracking three virus variants – from the UK (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B.1.351) and Brazil (P.1) – that are circulating around the world.

The B.1.1.7 variant has been detected in more than 100 countries since it was first detected last September in southeast Britain. While answering key questions on SARS-CoV-2 variants, their transmissibility and severity, Dr Kerkhove said,

So far, the information that we have is that there is increased transmissibility in the B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 virus variants. This is resulting from a mutation that allows this virus variant to bind to the human cell more easily. We do not see an increase yet in transmission with the P.1, but that is currently under investigation.

Ramping Up Of Testing

When the pandemic hit the country, it had only the National Institute of Virology (NIV) as a testing centre. The testing facilities were expanded exponentially in the months following the declaration of the pandemic and as of now, there are over 2,400 (2,410) testing centres across the country and over 22.4 crore samples have been tested. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country has been testing over 7 lakh samples every day. These include the RT PCR test, the rapid antigen test and the antibody tests.

Also Read: ‘Coronavirus Pandemic In Its Endgame’, Says Union Health Minister, Experts Weigh In With Precautions

Vaccine Revolution

In the one year of the pandemic, vaccine development saw a revolution where the scientists and pharmaceutical companies worked on a ‘break-neck speed to come up with the right molecule for an effective vaccine against COVID-19. The massive scale of production of the vaccines, vials, syringes and needles was another challenge that the world is trying to address. According to Dr Aviral Roy, Consultant, Critical Care, Medica Superspeciality Hospital, Kolkata, a vaccine, on average, takes at least 10 years to undergo all trails and pass the required standards for getting approved for immunization. However, to fight the ongoing pandemic, vaccines against coronavirus have been developed within a year.

In India, the COVID-19 vaccination drive was started on January 16 with an aim to inoculate the identified healthcare and frontline workers. The country has given emergency use approval to ‘Covishield’ which has been developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and produced in India by the Serum Institute of India and ‘Covaxin’ developed by the country’s indigenous Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR. With the second phase of the nation-wide vaccination drive underway, which allows senior citizens and people with comorbidities to get the jab, as many as 26.1 crore doses of the vaccine have been administered so far.

Equitable Distribution Of Vaccines Is Must To Defeat The Pandemic: WHO

According to the WHO, with a fast-moving pandemic, no one is safe unless everyone is safe. Thus, in order to speed up the search for an effective vaccine for all countries and at the same time build supply for a fair distribution of vaccine doses among all countries, WHO had started a global vaccine-sharing initiative called COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access).

Now as more people are getting inoculates, countries around the world are looking for easing the restrictions. While vaccines are important is building immunity against the virus and controlling severe infections and mortality, WHO strongly emphasises on not becoming complacent and following all the preventive measures physical distancing, hand hygiene, wearing a mask, adopting respiratory etiquette like covering the mouth with a tissue paper while sneezing, opening the window when in a closed room, avoiding crowded places, staying at home when unwell, getting tested if needed and following the SOP (standard operating procedures) issued locally.

Also Read: COVID-19 Outbreak: New Coronavirus Strains In The Country Could Be More Dangerous, Says Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS- Delhi

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,06,78,961Cases
20,23,40,977Active
3,34,39,331Recovered
48,98,653Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,06,78,961 and 48,98,653 have died; 20,23,40,977 are active cases and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 4:17 am.

India

3,40,81,315 13,596Cases
1,89,6946,152Active
3,34,39,331 19,582Recovered
4,52,290 166Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,81,315 confirmed cases including 4,52,290 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,89,694 and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,91,697 1,715

32,230 994

64,19,678 2,680

1,39,789 29

Kerala

48,54,321 7,555

88,186 3,292

47,39,270 10,773

26,865 74

Karnataka

29,83,459 326

9,479 58

29,36,039 380

37,941 4

Tamil Nadu

26,87,092 1,218

14,814 208

26,36,379 1,411

35,899 15

Andhra Pradesh

20,60,472 432

6,034 159

20,40,131 586

14,307 5

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,028 9

119 10

16,87,011 19

22,898

West Bengal

15,80,530 624

7,421 24

15,54,132 634

18,977 14

Delhi

14,39,390 32

320 6

14,13,981 38

25,089

Odisha

10,35,077 443

4,542 68

10,22,250 508

8,285 3

Chhattisgarh

10,05,654 16

183 2

9,91,901 14

13,570

Rajasthan

9,54,390 2

42 2

9,45,394 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,290 10

207 6

8,15,997 16

10,086

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,684 5

84 12

7,82,077 17

10,523

Haryana

7,71,076 15

123 9

7,60,904 6

10,049

Bihar

7,26,026 5

48 4

7,16,317 1

9,661

Telangana

6,68,955 122

3,924 55

6,61,093 176

3,938 1

Assam

6,06,468 205

3,436 46

5,97,082 245

5,950 6

Punjab

6,02,035 27

227 8

5,85,264 16

16,544 3

Jharkhand

3,48,430 7

122 1

3,43,173 8

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,756 9

178 1

3,36,181 8

7,397

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,062 95

843 12

3,25,793 107

4,426

Himachal Pradesh

2,21,437 131

1,303 5

2,16,414 125

3,720 1

Goa

1,77,522 60

604 6

1,73,572 62

3,346 4

Puducherry

1,27,396 52

585 13

1,24,961 64

1,850 1

Manipur

1,22,737 104

1,422 0

1,19,418 102

1,897 2

Mizoram

1,12,848 249

11,633 1,143

1,00,829 1,389

386 3

Tripura

84,321 16

104 4

83,401 12

816

Meghalaya

82,953 55

845 32

80,673 86

1,435 1

Chandigarh

65,302 3

25 3

64,457 6

820

Arunachal Pradesh

54,987 7

140 30

54,567 37

280

Sikkim

31,749 4

174 8

31,184 12

391

Nagaland

31,611 40

248 12

30,689 28

674

Ladakh

20,878 2

36 10

20,634 12

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,676 1

4 1

10,668

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,641

9 0

7,503

129

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