Among the 109 samples analyzed at Lucknow’s King George medical college, two cases of the Kappa variation of COVID-19 were found. It has been present in the Indian community for a few months, but little was said about it because the dominant strain in circulation was the ‘Double Mutant’ Delta. The World Health Organization has only recently named the Kappa variety (WHO).
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is actively monitoring another COVID-19 variant, the Lambda variant, although no cases of this variant have yet been documented in India.
Here are some things you need to know about these two COVID-19 versions.
- The Kappa version, like the Delta variant, is a double mutant.
- The Kappa strain was discovered in India for the first time in October 2020, according to the WHO. B.1.617.1 is the code for it, and B.1.617.2 is the code for Delta.
- The Kappa variant was designated as a ‘variant of interest’ by the WHO on April 4th, rather than a ‘variant of concern.’
- It’s a “variant with genetic modifications that are expected or known to affect virus features such as transmissibility, illness severity, immunological escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape,” according to the definition. It’s worth noting that “variants of concern” represent a far bigger threat, according to WHO.
- Antibody-neutralizing double mutations in the Kappa form have raised worries that the vaccine’s effectiveness, as well as the natural immunity generated by COVID infection, could be harmed.
- Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s vaccines were found to be broadly effective against the Kappa variation in a study released in June.
- Lambda was first discovered in August 2020 in Peru. In December 2020, the first sample was taken.
- It has so far spread to 31 nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as numerous South American countries.
- The spike protein of the Lambda version has seven mutations. One of these alterations, L452Q, could make it more infectious (it’s related to the Delta variant’s L452R mutation, which made it more virulent).
- Due to its unique mutations, the Lambda variety may have enhanced transmissibility and increased vaccination resistance, according to the WHO. It’s also possible that the strain can avoid the body’s immune system.
- Existing mRNA vaccines can neutralize the Lambda form, according to the small number of experiments done thus far. More research is needed, however, to prove that immunizations are effective against it.
Gates Foundation boosts access to Covid-19 drug for lower-income countries
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged up to $120 million as part of its Covid-19 response effort to help lower-income countries gain access to the investigational antiviral medication Molnupiravir, which some say might be a gamechanger.
The Gates Foundation’s co-chair, Melinda Gates, said: “To put an end to the pandemic, we must ensure that everyone has access to life-saving health services, regardless of where they live on the planet. Low-income countries, on the other hand, have had to wait for everything from personal protective equipment to vaccinations. That’s not good enough.”
Concerned about lower-income countries’ struggles to access Covid-19 vaccinations and the risk of being left behind once again when it comes to medicines, the Gates Foundation is urging other donors to commit money to hasten the implementation of Merck’s experimental drug Molnupiravir, if it is approved.
Merck expects trial tablets fto reach low-income countries by early next year. Regulatory authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and national governments are in charge of deciding whether or not to approve the drug for usage. The Gates organization said it aims to significantly reduce the time it takes for new drugs to arrive in low-income regions after they become available in wealthier markets. That gap can be at least 12 months, it said.
The organization has already granted money to assist generics firms in developing low-cost production procedures that lower raw material costs and boost product yields. Some wealthy and middle-income countries, such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, have either obtained or are in the process of obtaining the therapy.
The right pricing will be crucial for the launch of Zydus Cadila’s vaccine.
The destiny of Zydus Cadila’s Covid vaccine is in doubt, as the vaccine’s price appears to be delaying its introduction into the vaccination program. The business has received emergency use authorization from the FDA to inject its Covid vaccine, ZyCoV-D, to children aged 12 to 18.
Zydus Cadila, located in Ahmedabad, has imported the pharmaJet, a needle-free applicator for painless intradermal vaccine delivery.
Each jet is responsible for delivering a specific amount of vaccination.
As a result, a single dose is split into two shots, one for each arm. “It’s an expensive device and hence jacks up the overall price,” a government official said.
Around 20,000 dosages can be administered with the jet injector.
The government has been purchasing Covaxin at 225 per dosage and Covishield, another Covid vaccine developed in India, at 215 per dose.
The price of the Zydus Cadila vaccine, according to Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, will be significantly more than that of existing vaccines.
The next wave of healthcare innovation
Healthcare industry is currently one of the leaders in this race of startups. From Practo to Netmeds, India has seen companies go progress exponentially.
Launched in March 2021, Know Your Prescription (KYP) is a patient-centric product that explains the prescription and addresses general, treatment-related queries in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, and Malayalam.
KYP assists in the understanding of medical prescriptions. All a patient has to do is visit the AI-enabled portal (QR code), which, after proper diligence, connects them to a WhatsApp number. They are paired with pharmacists or retired medical professionals in order to fully comprehend what their prescription entails. This reduces medication errors while also improving patient compliance and adherence.
The product is specially designed keeping the general population in mind, and the startup is eyeing a pan-India audience “with a major focus on Tier II and III cities”.
The Delhi-based startup, with a team size of 12, has also signed a three-year contract with Centre for Sight, which is one of the largest chains in India with more than 47 centres.
It hopes to develop an app soon that will allow users to submit their questions, as well as onboard qualified pharmacists and doctors to assist them.
As of now, KYP has over 5,000 unique paid clients. By Diwali, SiCureMi intends to implement a Rs 299 yearly membership scheme. Users will be able to upload prescriptions an unlimited number of times as a result of this.
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