Lex Reporters

– Dikshit Chawla, Dinesh Eshwar, Anagha

  • AYURVEDA STUDENTS REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE IN COUNSELLING BY REASON OF LOW NEET PERCENTILE

Due to the low NEET exam percentile, two ayurvedic students were rejected admission to Ayurveda courses by the Delhi HC. The court declined the plea which stated it unfair for the students to sit in the same examination which is for admission to MBBS courses by arguing that the whole point was to “raise the standard” of the Indian system of medicine. Animesh Kumar, representing the petitioners urged for a separate entrance examination for students willing to take admission in such courses, which was also denied by the court.

  • MAHARASHTRA MBBS STUDENTS BARRED FROM EXTERNSHIPS TO OTHER COLLEGES

This comes after a directive from NMC, that MBBS students from Maharashtra, following this year, won’t be allowed to take externships in other colleges of the state, as stated by the circular of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS). The new rule is applicable from the date of issue of the circular. While the authorities defend the decision by saying that the option was misused by many as students tend to skip externships for their NEET-PG, the masses argue that it was a great option to reduce the workload and provided better exposure to local interns.

  • HUGE RELIEF FOR FOREIGN MEDICAL STUDENTS STUCK IN INDIA

After a harsh decision by the Supreme Court to not allow foreign medical students stuck in India due to COVID and the Ukraine Crisis to complete an internship in India before completion of their clinical training, the Apex Court has bought jubilation to their faces by directing the NMC to frame a scheme as a one-time measure. The bench debates the fact that qualifying in an OMR-based screening examination in no way justifies the competency of a candidate in clinical practice.

  • COVID BOOSTER DOSE TIME GAP SLASHED BY 6 MONTHS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS

After a plethora of requests received by the centre, the Health Ministry has now finally decided to cut down the COVID booster dose time gap from the earlier 9 months to 3 months. Mandaviya tweeted that the latest updates and facilities will be available on the Co-WIN portal and no proof of travel will be required to book the 3rd dose. The decision has bought a tremendous delight to the numerous as many foreign countries have made it mandatory to be vaccinated with a booster dose.

  • EMERGENCY USE GRANTED TO CORBEVAX FOR 5-11 GROUP

Biological E’s Corbevax vaccine is finally granted a nod for its emergency use in the 5-11 age group. DCGI’s final approval is expected soon. While Bharat Biotech is asked to put more data from its trial on the desk to review the application seeking approval for emergency use of Covaxin in the 2- to 11-year-old age group. A good number of 2.5 Crore children in the 12-14 age group have kicked off their vaccination process while 4 Crore individuals in the 15-18 age group are fully immunized.

  • PRESIDENT BIDEN CO-HOSTS THE 2ND COVID SUMMIT AFTER WE CROSS THE 1 MILLION DEATH TOLL

The summit was focused on preventing complacency and recognizing that the pandemic is not over yet. The key highlights of the discussion were protecting the most vulnerable, including the elderly, immunocompromised, frontline and health workers, and recognizing that this is the time to secure political and financial commitment for the pandemic preparedness. Financially, leaders committed to providing 3.2 billion USD in new Funding. “Leaders must agree to pursue a coherent strategy to end the pandemic instead of a fragmented approach that will extend the lifespan of this crisis,” said Gayle Smith, CEO of THE ONE CAMPAIGN.

  • MEDTRONIC SPINE ROBOT TO REVOLUTIONIZE ORTHOPEDIC INNOVATIONS

The Mazor X Stealth Edition™, a new surgical robot from Medtronic, is all set to refashion the expanse of spinal surgery and precision. The robot is coming to the Yale-New Haven Hospital, Saint Raphael Campus and the first surgeries will be performed in May 2022. Peter Whang, MD quotes “Currently, the new robot will be used primarily for spinal fusions, which involve stabilizing two or more levels of the spine using implants such as screws and cages to alleviate back pain and address symptoms of nerve compression,”. According to Daniel Rubio, MD, innovations in personalized medicine and preoperative planning are where this robot will bring about some eminent benefits.

  • TIRZEPATIDE, A NEW TYPE 2 DIABETES DRUG GETS FDA APPROVAL

With its dual effect of lowering blood pressure and supporting weight loss, the FDA finally approves the use of Tirzepatide to treat type two diabetes. The dose is administered via subdermal injections once a week. The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea with some reports of severely low blood sugar in some clinical trials. The drug is a dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and GLP-1 receptor agonist. “We look forward to learning whether Tirzepatide can provide any benefit in cardiovascular disease, NASH (a form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease), and other complications, such as retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy.”, quotes Dr. Robert Gabbay, the chief science and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association.

COVID 19

  • Neuropsychiatric Risks of COVID – Results of a large study showed the risk of new-onset neuropsychological illness after severe COVID-19 infection are substantial, but similar to those after other severe respiratory infections. These sequelae need to be considered both for providing and commissioning services following severe COVID-19 as well as other SARI
  • According to a Lancet Follow-up study, half of COVID 19 survivors show atleast one symptom even two years after primary infection including fatigue, shortness of breath and sleep difficulties. Researchers suggest that there is a need to provide continued support to understand how the disease, variants, vaccines and emerging treatments affect long term health outcomes 
  • The Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) grants restricted Emergency Use Authorisation to BharatBiotech’s COVAXIN for children between 6-12 years, Corbevax for those aged 5-12 and ZycovD for above 12 year olds
  • AstraZeneca not considered a good candidate for booster doses in several European countries – Several studies have shown that a booster shot of mRNA vaccine (developed by Pfizer and Moderna) provided a stronger booster effect, regardless of the nature of the primary course vaccine. However people may still re4cieve AstraZeneca if they are allergic to the mRNA vaccines.
  • FDA restricts Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to the risk of life-threatening blood clots occurring within the first two weeks of vaccination. Also, new surveillance data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink confirmed a small but statistically significant increased risk for Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in the 3 weeks after receipt of the J&J vaccine. Under the new FDA instructions, J&J vaccine should be given to people who refuse to receive or had a severe allergic reactions to other vaccines.
  • USFDA authorises first COVID-19 diagnostic test using breath samples – InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer received Emergency Use Authorisation to be used in environments where the patient specimen is both collected and analysed, such as doctor’s offices, hospitals and mobile testing sites. The test works on a technique called gas chromatography gas mass-spectrometry (GC-MS) to separate and identify chemical mixtures and rapidly detect five Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in exhaled breath and showed 91.2% sensitivity and 99.3% specificity.
  • Outbreak of Tomato Flu in South India – 80 cases of an unidentified virus have been reported from Kollam city, Kerala with all the patients being children under 5 years of age. The Health Department states Tomato flu is a rare viral disease characterized by red coloured blisters (that look like tomatoes-hence the name), skin irritation, dehydration and generalised symptoms including fever, body ache, joint swelling and fatigue.

MEDICAL ADVANCEMENTS

  • New Guidelines for DR-TB – TB Alliance has applauded rapid communication regarding new guidelines for treating Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (DR-TB) released by the World Health Organization. For the first time, almost all patients with DR-TB can be treated in six months with an all-oral regimen. Based on new clinical evidence, the new guidelines allow for the programmatic implementation of treating almost all forms of DR-TB with either BPaLM (a combination of bedaquiline, pretomanid, linezolid, and moxifloxacin) or BPaL (bedaquiline, pretomanid, and linezolid) regimen.
  • New methods in CAR T therapy for AML patients – Scientists developed a new method that involves a combination of Drug therapy (FDA approved drug, Azacitidine) along with CAR-T cell therapy to expand the number of targets on the cancer cells and help the CAR T cells adhere more tightly and durably to the targets, thereby reducing the “off-target” effects.
  • IIT Mandi team discovers molecule for DM treatment – The multi-institutional team at IIT used computer simulation methods to screen various small molecules that can bind with GLP1R and subsequently chose PK2 because of its good binding abilities and better solubility in solvents.  Studies showed that along with increasing insulin release, PK2 was able to prevent and even reverse beta-cell loss.
  • Technological intervention for Diabetic Retinopathy screening – Remidio’s Fundus on Phone technology – world’s first non-mydriatic smartphone-based portable fundus camera – has helped the Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) screening at 16 Family Health Centres (FHCs) across Thiruvananthapuram district in Kerala. This pilot programme showed a very high prevalence of DR and people were moved to care pathway indicating the need to implement similar cost-effective and accessible models for screening in other states as well.
  • Serum Institute of India’s Skin Test Kit for Latent TB diagnosis gets DGCI approval – The DGCI has granted market authorization to the Serum Institute of India’s Cy-Tb kit for 18 years and above following the recommendations by the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) who had reviewed the findings of the study conducted by the ICMR. The availability of this highly cost-effective kit will play a crucial role in making India TB free, as quoted by the officials.
  • Aquablation for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – A procedure that combines ultrasound imagery with precise robot-controlled, surgeon-guided waterjet ablation to remove prostate tissue appears to be safe and effective for treatment for lower-urinary-tract symptoms (LUTS) due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), regardless of prostate volume, based on the data from WATER and WATER-II studies. The procedure showed rapid and persevered clinical improvement coupled with a low rate of both complications and retreatment.

INTERNATIONAL

  • A FODMAP-Lowering Diet App introduced in Belgium for primary care IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome) patients was found superior to the spasmolytic otilonium bromide (OB) in improving symptoms. It is a FODMAP-lowering diet designed in combination with dietary recommendations from the NICE/BDA guidelines for IBS and the app showed better outcomes in terms of better adherence and improvement in the IBS Symptom Severity Score (IBS-SSS). Researchers suggest this app could be considered a first-line treatment in this setting after further evaluation in follow-up studies (including studies in other countries and and head-to-head comparison in specialist care patients, with the traditional dietitian-administered low FODMAP diet)
  • Animal virus detected in the Pig heart transplanted into man – Doctors from the University of Maryland detected the viral DNA of Porcine Cytomegalovirus in the transplanted gene-edited pig heart. However no signs of active infection due to this virus were found. The Maryland team said the donor pig was healthy and has passed testing required by FDA to check for infections. The transplant recipient died showing symptoms of infection and the pig heart became swollen with fluid and failed eventually. Investigation is still underway to determine if the virus was the cause of the heart’s condition. (This also focuses on the need for development of sophisticated tests to identify infections for Xenotransplants)

Surprise Inspections conducted at 12 private medical colleges by Health Ministry

  • Because of the COVID 19 pandemic, processes like approving the upcoming batches and recognising newly set up medical colleges (for UG & PG courses) were done through video conferences and post this, the ministry has been getting complaints.
  •  NMC Act 2019 makes it mandatory for the medical colleges to adhere to minimum standard requirements which have been set by the National Medical Commission (NMC).
  • Teams were formed by the Union Health Ministry which carried out surprise inspections at 12 medical colleges alleged to have sub-optimal training and teaching programme in Dhule, Jabalpur, Udaipur, Hyderabad and Chennai since January 15 this year. The ministry also stated that it ensured the secrecy of inspections. Fewer patients than what is necessary to run a medical college, faculty numbers not matching with what was depicted on paper and lapses in infrastructure were noted during these inspections in all the 12 medical colleges. Show cause notices have been issued to them and it is the National Medical Commission (NMC) who will make a decision regarding how to proceed against them.

NMC to help MBBS students hit by Ukraine crisis, coronavirus pandemic

  • The Supreme Court ordered NMC “to frame a scheme within two months to allow the Indian medical students who could not complete their clinical/practical training in the abroad universities due to the Covid crisis and Ukraine-Russia war

Anagha
Dinesh
Dikshit

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