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Intelligent Testing Strategy For Being ‘Ahead Of Virus’: ICMR

New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday said that India developed an Intelligent Testing Strategy to remain ‘ahead of the virus’ by developing testing infrastructure that is laboratories and other means of testing.

According to ICMR, the country now has a capacity of testing 2 lakh samples per day. “India now has 610 total labs (432 public, 178 private) and is currently testing 1.1 lakh samples in a day and has the capacity to test 1.4 lakh samples per day, which is being raised to 2 lakh samples per day,” said the ICMR.

The apex medical research body in the country said most states have been working with the National Tuberculosis Elimination Program (NTEP) to deploy TrueNAT machines for COVID-19 testing. Through this machine, testing is done in such areas or districts where modern virological laboratories in private or public sectors don’t exist.

This also results in relief to the testing infrastructure as it is not overwhelmed in any state to date. “No state has a significant backlog of samples to be tested,” said the ICMR, adding, “More labs are being set up and additional machines are deployed in states like UP, Bihar, West Bengal as well as rest of the country to meet possible higher requirements.”

With around 7,000 new cases in a day, India’s tally of novel coronavirus cases surpassed that of Iran’s as it recorded 1,38,845 till Monday, experts say, among other reasons, more number of tests per day is an important factor responsible for more number of cases.

50% Chance Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Will Yield ‘No Result’

Due to a decline in infection rate, the team at Oxford University developing a Covid-19 vaccine believe that the chances of the trial yielding “no result” is now 50 per cent, The Telegraph reported.

The University of Oxford last week announced that the advance human trial of the vaccine will involve up to 10,260 volunteers across the UK.

While explaining when the results of the trial will be available, the university said that to assess whether the vaccine works to protect from Covid-19, the statisticians in the team will compare the number of infections in the control group with the number of infections in the vaccinated group.

For this purpose, it is necessary for a small number of study participants to develop Covid-19.

“How quickly we reach the numbers required will depend on the levels of virus transmission in the community. If transmission remains high, we may get enough data in a couple of months to see if the vaccine works, but if transmission levels drop, this could take up to 6 months,” the university said

This is the reason why recruitment of those who have a higher chance of being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is being prioritised, such as frontline healthcare workers, frontline support staff and public-facing key workers, in an effort to capture the efficacy data as quickly as possible.

“It’s a race against the virus disappearing, and against time,” Professor Adrian Hill, director of the university’s Jenner Institute, told the Telegraph.

“We said earlier in the year that there was an 80 per cent chance of developing an effective vaccine by September. But at the moment, there’s a 50 per cent chance that we get no result at all.”

The professor told the newspaper that if fewer than 20 of the 10,000 volunteers in the trial test positive, the results may be useless.

However, Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, last week assured that “the clinical studies are progressing very well”.

Earlier, drugmaker AstraZeneca finalised its licence agreement with Oxford University for the recombinant adenovirus vaccine.

The licensing of the vaccine, formerly ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and now known as AZD1222, follows the recent global development and distribution agreement with the University’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine Group.

(IANS)

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