Mehar Kaur Bhatia, 2nd year, Government Medical College Patiala – Nikhita Kalra, Final year, Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi

Swaralee Khedkar, Final year, SMBT Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Nashik

Dr. Mukundhan Murali, MBBS

All about #COVID-19 in 2021

India achieved the milestone of administering 100 crore COVID-19 vaccine shots on 21st October 2021. India is only the 2nd country to reach this landmark. While it took 202 days to administer the first 50 crore vaccines, the next 50 crore target was achieved in just 76 days

WHO approves Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for emergency use internationally: This made-in-India vaccine has been approved as a valid form of protection against COVID 19 after a thorough assessment of safety and efficacy data by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). Thus, the homegrown vaccine is a part of its validated vaccines list, thus helping many poor and vaccine deficient countries to wipe the SARS-CoV2 virus. Also, the shelf life of Covaxin has been extended up to twelve months from the date of manufacture.

US company Ocugen has requested emergency use authorization of Covaxin for ages 2 to 18. This is based on the positive results of a study that included 526 children who received two doses of Covaxin 28 days apart. Though no serious adverse events were reported, the sample size of the study may not be sufficient to detect rare side effects.

The Supreme Court had adjourned the plea requesting re-vaccination with Covishield after two doses of Covaxin. The bench said that they could not allow this without the backing of scientific data and that the final decision would be made only after WHO approved the use of Covaxin.

COVID-19 cases may rise in Delhi because of the hazardous air quality. Dr. Randeep Guleria, the Director of AIIMS Delhi, has stated that air pollution has adversely affected the life expectancy of the residents of Delhi. A surge in the COVID-19 cases is possible in and around Delhi because coronavirus sticks to the pollutants and doesn’t get dispersed.

● Vaccination in just one click? Needle-free vaccine patches in the making, glints of hope for expanding the war on infectious diseases. With the size of a contact lens and easy-to-apply applicator system, the new COVID 19 transdermal vaccine delivery patches, developed by scientists of the University of Queensland can help save children’s tears at vaccine visits. These have been successfully tested and administered on mice and have a proven shelf life of 30 days. Furthermore, the transdermal route seems to elicit a stronger immune response. The patches do not have cold chain requirements, hence can be distributed easily to remote areas, thus aiding the eradication of deadly infections.

High energy X rays have shown lung vessels altered by COVID 19 – Use of high brilliance X rays supplied by the European Synchrotron, a particle accelerator, shows how severe COVID-19 infection causes shunting of blood between the capillaries which oxygenate the blood and those which supply the lung tissue. Such cross-linking prevents oxygenation of the blood and causes alteration of blood vessels

● WHO-Unitaid statement on the MPP licensing agreement for molnupiravir – In its preliminary phase III clinical studies, molnupiravir, an experimental oral antiviral medication, showed good efficacy and safety for reducing hospitalization and death in people with mild to moderate COVID 19. The drug is now being assessed for inclusion in the WHO COVID – 19 medicines’ Guidelines. (MPP – Medicines Patent Pool)

The United Kingdom becomes the first country to approve this anti-Covid pill – The drug which was developed by Merck has been approved by the UK, thus making it the first antiviral that can be taken at home for Covid-19.

Zika Outbreak in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh

● There has been a rapid surge in Zika virus infection in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The first case was reported on 23 October and as of 7 November, the tally is at 89 cases. Sanitisation and preparedness at hospitals have been stepped up. This disease is spread by the bite of a mosquito and presents with fever, rashes, muscle, and joint pains.

Latest MBBS news

The annual  MBBS fee has been slashed from ₹4 lakh to ₹1.45 lakh in   Uttarakhand. It has now become the state charging the lowest fee from students of government medical colleges across India- a sum of ₹50,000 per year for those

willing to sign a bond of service for 5 years after MBBS and ₹1.45 lakh per year for those not willing to sign a bond.

“Good-news stories in medicine are early detection, early intervention” – Thomas R. Insel

The most recent advancements in the field from India and around the world

● New device-aided apomorphine therapy has been approved for advanced Parkinson’s disease in India. Earlier, only oral medications were available for this movement disorder which did not improve the symptoms in the later stages of the disease. The new form of therapy can be administered through a pen device or a continuous infusion pump similar to those used for insulin

Drug for Alzheimer’s disease rolled out in China – Sodium Oligomannate (GV-971) has shown improvements in multiple cognitive markers in phase 3 clinical trials and has hit the market as a therapy for patients suffering from mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The drug promises help for millions suffering from a brain disorder and continued research will be carried out on its long-term effects and safety.

Awards and Honors – people who made the world proud with their contributions to the field

Yusuf Merchant, Founder President of DAIRRC has been awarded the Indian Excellence Award for the Best Anti – Drug Campaigner of India for his outstanding contribution to substance abuse prevention and drug rehabilitation in the country since the past 30 years. (DAIRRC – drug abuse information rehabilitation and research center)

● Americans Julius and Patapoutian win the 2021 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

● American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian won the 2021 Nobel Prize for Medicine on Monday for discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch which the award-giving body said could pave the way for new painkillers.

● Patapoutian is known for discovering the cellular mechanism and the underlying gene that translates a mechanical force on our skin into an electrical nerve signal.

● Julius found that the skin’s sense of temperature was based on how certain cells react to capsaicin, the molecule that makes chili peppers spicy by simulating a false sense of heat.

Dr. R Ravi Kannan, a noted oncologist, and director of Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (CCHRC) received the Padma Shri award for his prodigious contribution in the field of medicine, especially cancer cure. He has been associated with the hospital since 2007 and continues to be an elixir for cancer sufferers on the continent. Himself a corona warrior, he has laid special focus on the importance of early detection in the cure of a disease like cancer.

Dr. Ratan Lal Mittal, a renowned orthopedic surgeon and former HOD of the orthopedic department at Government Medical College Patiala received the Padma Shri award for his extraordinary contribution in the field of medicine. Dr. Mittal has conducted groundbreaking research on severe, rigid, and underserved clubfoot deformities, which are common in low and middle-income countries such as India. Notably, Dr. Mittal performed the world’s first S-shaped foot deformity corrective surgery on a 10-year-old child in September. He also performs these surgeries free of cost!

“Thank you for your service to humanity. We are so grateful to you!”

Catching up on what’s happening outside India…

Trials begin for the first vaccine candidate to prevent triple-negative breast cancer

● A vaccine has been designed to prevent triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) — which is currently only preventable with a prophylactic

mastectomy — in those at high risk. Ideally, it would also become a booster for people who have already survived this type of cancer.

● Initially, the trial will include 18–24 participants, all of whom have received treatment for early-stage TNBC in the past 3 years. Although doctors have declared each person tumor-free, they are at high risk for recurrence.

● What makes the vaccine revolutionary in the area is that it emulates the strategy of childhood vaccines by aiming to prevent and eradicate the disease. Therapies so far have focused on treating breast cancer after the disease has developed.

Global tuberculosis progress reversed by COVID-19 pandemic, according to WHO’s 2021 Global TB report

● With the intermittent implementation, lifting, and reimplementation of restrictions throughout the world, the progress on curtailing TB has suffered the most as the access to essential TB services was hugely hindered.

● India (41%), Indonesia(14%), the Philippines (12%), and China (8%) contributed most to the global reduction of TB cases between 2019 and 2020.

● However, amongst other things, COVID-19 has also impacted the essential services and therefore the global tuberculosis targets set by WHO.

Unexpected Antibody Type Found in People with Malaria Infections. ● According to a study conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), antibodies were found in lungs, intestines, or vagina which were primarily secreted in response to infections in the mucous membranes.

● A sample of 54 adult participants who were infected with malaria in the laboratory – either through an IV inserted directly into the blood or through mosquito bites.

● Samples of blood taken from 47 children living in Mali, West Africa were also taken. The children acquired malaria during the study period.

Afghanistan in arms against Polio – Total war. – The Taliban-run Afghan health ministry announced the start of a polio vaccination campaign aimed at eradicating polio, starting by inoculating all children under 5. For the past 3 years, they had banned UN-organized teams from doing any such campaigns in fear of espionage. Notably, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only polio-endemic countries at present.

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