India has started its first human trials of a novel coronavirus vaccine candidate as the world’s second-most populous country recorded nearly 49,000 new cases.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a premier teaching hospital in the capital of New Delhi, said, it has administered the first dose of a trial COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.
The candidate vaccine, Covaxin, is among nearly two dozen that are in human trials around the world, reports AP.
AIIMS is among the 12 sites selected by the Indian Council for Medical Research for conducting the two-phase randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials of Covaxin.
Countries are making giant bets on various vaccine candidates, entering into purchasing agreements with pharmaceutical companies for delivery if and when regulators deem the doses safe and effective.
The additional infections take India’s total to more than 1.3 million on Saturday, with surges seen in a quarter of the country’s 36 states and union territories.
India has tallied 31,358 deaths, including 757 in the last 24 hours.
It has reported a much lower death rate than the world’s two other worst-hit countries, the United States and Brazil. Johns Hopkins University showed that the U.S. has more than 4.1 million cases, while Brazil has a caseload of nearly 2.3 million.
The government of Nepal has decided to formally end the nearly four-month lockdown imposed on March 24 to prevent transmission of Covid-19, said a senior cabinet minister.
The Nepali government took the decision as the country witnesses declining number of new COVID-19 cases in recent days, allowing almost all economic activities to operate.
A cabinet meeting has decided to end the lockdown from Tuesday mid-night, Yubaraj Khatiwada, Nepali government's spokesperson and the minister for finance and communication, said at a regular press meet on Tuesday.
The Nepali government had imposed the nationwide lockdown on March 24, but since June, the government had started relaxing the lockdown gradually and in phase-wise manner.
The cabinet decision comes after Nepal has been reporting a sharp drop in COVID-19 cases in the recent days from 740 cases a day on July 3 to 150 cases on Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, total cases reached 17,994 on Tuesday.
According to the cabinet decision, the Nepali government has allowed conducting most of the activities in the hospitality sector by following certain health protocols.
It has also opened the trekking, travel and mountaineering sector for service resumption.
At least three members of an Indian family were killed in a fresh ‘shootout’ between the troops of India and Pakistan in the highly militarized area of Kashmir on late Friday.
The incident also left three Pakistani civilians wounded, reports AP quoting officials of the both countries.
Lt Col Devender Anand, a spokesperson of Indian Army, said Pakistani troops opened fire on Indian positions along the Line of Control (LoC) late Friday, forcing them to retaliate in a befitting manner.
At one stage, a shell hit a three-member Indian family, leaving them dead on the spot, he said, adding that the family was cooking food during the incident, Indian Administrator Rahul Yadav was quoted as saying.
Lt Col Anand described the incident as an ‘unprovoked violation of ceasefire accord between the two neighbouring countries.
The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan issued a press release in this regard and disclosed that two pakistani women received injuries during the fight.
It also brought an allegation against India of violating cease-fire agreement and =summoned an Indian diplomat to protest the incident.
In the past, each side has accused the other of starting border skirmishes in Kashmir, which is divided between the two countries but claimed by both in its entirety.
There has been almost daily fighting between Indian and Pakistani soldiers over the last several months along the rugged and mountainous frontier, leaving dozens of civilians and soldiers dead on both sides.
India's military says Pakistan has so far this year has committed more than 2,500 cease-fire violations. Pakistan says India has violated the cease-fire about 1,700 times this year.
At least 213 people have been killed in floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains across South Asia over the past month, officials said Thursday.
More than 1 million people have been marooned in Nepal, Bangladesh and India and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes for higher ground.
Indian officials said floods and mudslides killed 16 more people in the country's northeast, raising the death toll in the country to 93.
Nepal reported at least 117 deaths over the past month.
Rains caused the Brahmaputra River, which flows through Tibet, India and Bangladesh, to burst its banks in India's Assam state late last month, inundating large swathes of the state, triggering mudslides and displacing about 3.6 million people, officials said.
Vast tracts are still underwater, with 26 of the state’s 33 districts badly affected.
Authorities rescued about 4,000 people trapped by the surging flood waters in various parts of Assam, said M.S. Mannivanan, chief of the state Disaster Management Authority. About 36,000 people whose homes were destroyed or submerged have taken shelter in nearly 300 government-run relief camps, he said.
The floods also inundated most of India’s Kaziranga National Park, home to an estimated 2,500 rare one-horned rhinos, authorities said.
In the eastern state of Bihar, at least nine rivers swollen by heavy downpours in Nepal rose beyond their danger levels and inundated many villages. One of them, the Gandak River, swept away the connecting roads of a newly built multimillion dollar bridge in Bihar’s Gopalganj district, disrupting transportation in the area.
The Meteorological Center in the state capital, Patna, forecast heavy rain over the next 48 hours.
Nepal’s Home Ministry said 117 people have died in the Himalayan nation in monsoon-related incidents. It said the rains triggered landslides in mountainous areas and flooding in the southern plains. At least 47 people were reported missing and 126 have been injured in the past month, it said.
A state-owned Chinese company has been testing their vaccines on their employees, including top executives, even before the government approved testing in people in the global race to make a coronavirus vaccine, reports AP.
“Giving a helping hand in forging the sword of victory,” reads an online post from SinoPharm with pictures of workers it says helped “pre-test” its vaccine.
The claim underscores the enormous stakes as China competes with US and British companies to be the first with a vaccine to help end the pandemic. It will be both a scientific and political triumph.
China has positioned itself to be a strong contender. Eight of the nearly two dozen potential vaccines in various stages of human testing worldwide are from China. And SinoPharm and another Chinese company already have announced they are entering final testing.
SinoPharm’s claim that 30 “special volunteers” rolled up their sleeves even before the company got permission for its initial human study raises ethical concerns among Western observers.
“The idea of people willing to sacrifice themselves ... is pretty much expected in China,” said Yanzhong Huang, a global health expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, a US nonprofit organisation.