Italy's tally of new cases drops below 200 | The number of new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Italy fell below 200 for the first time in a week, with 159 cases registered today, according to Health Ministry figures. That brings the total number of cases in Italy to 248,229 and deaths to 35,166.
A worker checks a traveller's temperature at Dadar Railway Station. (Reuters)
Meanwhile, Congress MLA Rakibul Hussain has become the seventh legislator in Assam to contract coronavirus infection. Hussain, the MLA from Samaguri in Central Assam and a former state minister, said in a Facebook post that he tested positive for the virus along with his wife Nazreen Hussain. His son, however, tested negative. “I have tested COVID-19 positive.... Request everyone who came in contact with me in the last four days to get themselves tested," he said in the post. The former minister is the first Congress legislator to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Another prominent politician of the party, All India Mahila Congress president and former Silchar MP Sushmita Dev, had earlier tested positive for the virus. All the other MLAs of the state, who had tested positive for COVID-19, were from the BJP. They are Assembly Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar, Atul Bora, Krishnendu Paul, Naryan Deka, Bolin Chetia and Nabanita Handique.
In some positive news, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given nod to the Serum Institute of India (SII) for conducting phase 2 and 3 human clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, developed by the University of Oxford, in the country. Government officials said the approval for conducting phase 2 and 3 clinical trials by the SII was granted by DCGI Dr V G Somani late Sunday night after a thorough evaluation based on the recommendations of the Subject Expert Committee on COVID-19. As a rapid regulatory response, the expert panel at the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on Friday, after a detailed deliberation and considering the data generated on the vaccine candidate in phase 1 and 2 of the Oxford University trial, had recommended granting permission for phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the potential vaccine, 'Covishield', on healthy adults in India, the officials said.
"The firm has to submit safety data, evaluated by the Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), to the CDSCO before proceeding to phase 3 clinical trials," a senior official said. "As per the study design, each subject will be administered two doses four weeks apart (first dose on day one and second dose on day 29) following which the safety and immunogenicity will be assessed at predefined intervals," the official said.
Currently, phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine candidate is going on in the United Kingdom, phase 3 clinical trial in Brazil and phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in South Africa. The officials said that the SII had submitted a revised proposal on Wednesday after the expert panel on Tuesday, following deliberation over its application, had asked it to revise its protocol for the phase 2 and 3 clinical trials besides seeking some additional information.
The panel has also recommended that the clinical trial sites which have been proposed for the study be distributed across India.
According to the revised proposal, 1,600 people aged above 18 years will participate in the trials across 17 selected sites, including AIIMS Delhi, BJ Medical College in Pune, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS) in Patna, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, AIIMS-Jodhpur, Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur, Andhra Medical College in Visakhapatnam and JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in Mysore.
"According to the application, it would conduct an observer-blind, randomised controlled study to determine the safety and immunogenicity of 'Covishield' on healthy Indian adults," the official said.
The SII, which has partnered with AstraZeneca, for manufacturing the Oxford vaccine candidate for COVID-19 had submitted its first application to the DCGI on July 25 seeking permission for conducting the phase 2 and 3 trials of the potential vaccine.
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