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Pakistan Seeks Bangladesh’s Help With COVID-19; Signs Pact For Importing Medicines

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With growing cases of COVID-19, Pakistan has signed a pact Bangladeshi firm to supply a generic version of remdesivir — a broad-spectrum antiviral medication that has shown to lessen the recovery time in coronavirus patients, reports the Dawn.

The drug – remdesivir, has been permitted emergency use authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and authorities in Japan and the UK to treat patients with severe signs of COVID-19.

According to a statement released by Searle Company Limited, Pakistan, the company has signed an exclusive pact with Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Bangladesh.

It’s the first firm in the world to introduce the generic variant of the drug. Our pact will provide an instant supply of the drug at an economical rate and will assist the medics to treat COVID-19 patients without any delay, said Mohammad Sajid, officials ar Searle.

Remdesivir is a direct-acting viral drug that represses viral RNA (Ribonucleic acid) synthesis. It is administrated intravenously and is approved for the treatment of hospitalized patients with severe COVID-19 infection – the Dawn report says.

Searle, Sajid said, was aggressively taking the matter with the government officials of Pakistan for required approvals and was positive that in the current pandemic, the authorities would treat this matter on an urgent basis to support the drug availability.

The report acknowledges that Bangladesh has made extraordinary progress in the pharmaceutical sector in recent years. Some Bangladesh-based pharmaceutical corporations, they said, were approved by the FDA and exported their products to the US.

Remdesivir is presently undergoing clinical trials around the world. Early research indicated it can cut recovery time by about four days, but so far there has been no concrete proof that it will save more lives.

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COVID-19: WHO experts in China to probe origins of Coronavirus

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Two World Health Organization (WHO) experts are travelling to China to talk to scientists to investigate the transmission of COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic from animals to humans, WHO chief said on Friday.

Addressing a webinar, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the global health experts will also prepare a scientific plan with their Chinese counterparts to identify the zoonotic source of the COVID-19 virus.

“As we continue to tackle the pandemic, we are also looking into the origins of the virus,” he said.

Adhanom said the scientists want to learn about the progress made in understanding the animal reservoir for COVID-19 and how the disease jumped between animals and humans.

“This will help lay the groundwork for the WHO-led international mission into finding the origins,” he said.

The team comprising an epidemiologist and an animal health specialist are flying to China to try and identify the pandemic’s animal source, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said a UN press conference in Geneva.

Harris said the aim is also to examine from which species of animal the virus originated and then transmitted to humans.

On April 20, WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib had said that so far, all available evidence suggests the virus has an animal origin, and it was not manipulated or manufactured in a lab, or somewhere else. She was responding to allegations that the virus spread from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“It most probably has its ecological reservoir in bats, but how the virus came from bats to humans is still to be discovered,” she said.

Missing intermediary host

“There was certainly an intermediary host or another animal that transmitted this virus from bats to this other animal, to humans, “she said.

Adhanom told international diplomats on Thursday that the member states at the 73rd World Health Assembly held in May had adopted a landmark resolution urging the WHO to initiate an independent and comprehensive evaluation of the lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19.

“This is a time for self-reflection, to look at the world we live in and to find ways to strengthen our collaboration as we work together to save lives and bring this pandemic under control,” said the chief of WHO.

“The magnitude of this pandemic, which has touched virtually everyone in the world, clearly deserves a commensurate evaluation,” he said.

The WHO had waited for seven months to investigate the source of the virus and this has led to criticism of the organization and American officials accused Adhanom of being too lenient to China.

An earlier WHO mission led by a Canadian doctor Bruse Aylward that went to China in February was criticized in the US for praising China’s in its fight against COVID-19.

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The Curve Of Coronavirus Cases In India All Time High Despite Stern Lockdowns

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The cases of coronavirus India has reported the large single-day hike with 24,879 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The total tally of COVID-19 cases in India stands at 767,296 and death toll rose to 21,129 with 487 new fatalities.

Meanwhile, the tally of casualties in the financial capital Mumbai — the capital of Maharashtra — crossed 5,000 on Wednesday with 62 new casualties, said a statement by the Municipal Corporation.

Maharashtra is still the worst-affected state in the country with 6,603 news cases recorded in the last 24 hours. The west Indian now has over 223,724 coronavirus cases and 9,448 deaths.

Patna, capital of Bihar, will be put under strict lockdown from Friday due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the city. “The state capital will be under strict lockdown for a week from July 10,” said Kumar Ravi, Patna district magistrate.

India continues to remain the third worst-hit nation by the coronavirus in the world after the US and Brazil and the curve of the graph only appears to be rising.

 

Chart showing India has the world's third largest Covid-19 caseload.

Chart showing India's cases went up as testing increased in June.

A comparison of countries with high per capita cases shows that their per capita testing rates are also high.

Chart showing tests per confirmed case.

Chart showing cases are rising the slowest in India, compared to recoveries or deaths.

Chart showing recoveries in India are rising fast.

Chart showing India is reporting far fewer deaths per million than badly hit Western countries.

Map showing the spread of confirmed Covid-19 cases across India.

Chart showing where India's caseload is rising.

Via: BBC

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Coronavirus In Tibet: Limited Impact Of COVID-19 In High Altitude Regions Like Tibet?

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Scientists are now investigating the link between COVID-19 and high altitude regions like Tibet after a study published in the journal Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology suggested that there is a decrease in prevalence and impact of COVID-19 in populations living at higher altitudes. 

The study takes into consideration the COVID-19 cases in Tibet and high-altitude regions of Bolivia and Ecuador in comparison to the low lying regions. It suggested that the population in Bolivia, Ecuador and Tibet living above 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) reported significantly lower levels of confirmed infections than their lowland counterparts.

In the plateau region of Tibet, Qinghai and part of Sichuan, with a population of 9 million, there are only 134 confirmed cases which are drastically low in comparison to the number of cases in rest of China.

Ecuador is one of the worst-hit countries by COVID-19 in South America with more than 40,000 confirmed cases and over 3,000 deaths. The centre of the virus is the Pacific port of Guayaquil. There are fewer infected cases in the capital Quito, which is about the same size but is 2,800 metres above sea level.

Similarly, Bolivia has over 10,000 positive cases with over 300 deaths. The cases are concentrated in Santa Cruz which is 400 metres above sea level. It is home to about 15% of the population of the country but accounts for two-thirds of the virus cases. Whereas, in La Paz and its surrounding area, which is a highland area in Bolivia, has about 500 positive cases.

The reason explored by the study includes environmental factors including dry mountain air, high levels of UV radiation and the possibility that lower atmospheric pressure reduces the virus’s ability to linger in the air.

“The reason for decreased severity of the global COVID-19 outbreak at high altitude could relate to both environmental and physiological factors,” states the study.

“At sea-level, when people get coronavirus and their lungs get destroyed, it is as if they are climbing Mount Everest in just a couple of days, without oxygen,” said Gustavo Zubieta-Calleja, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. But “the low rate of infection in Bolivia’s high-altitude population is remarkable and clearly does not follow the often exponential infection rates reported in many countries”, concluded the scientists.

However, experts have questioned these factors. “The virus likes people. It doesn’t care about altitude,” says Peter Chin-Hong, who studies infectious diseases at the University of California at San Francisco. “But we’re still learning so much about this disease, and this does provide us with some good clues to try and understand its progression,” he added.

According to Clayton Cowl, a pulmonologist at the Mayo Clinic and a former president of the American College of Chest Physicians, that the trend might be related to acclimatization, the body’s ability to adjust temporarily to altitude, than to DNA.

Just three populations in the world have been found to have genetic adaptations to altitude: Himalayans, Ethiopian highlanders and Andeans. This is why the coronavirus is exploding on Peru’s Pacific coast, particularly Lima, where most residents descend from Andean ancestors, while the country’s mountain communities are thus far not greatly affected by the virus.

Andrew Luks, professor of medicine at the University of Washington, said that while the proposed link was “intriguing”, it “by no means establishes that high-altitude residence or high-altitude locations are protective against coronavirus”.

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