India COVID-19 Latest News: Government leverage in vaccine pricing explained.
Illustrative photo.

During the hearing on issues related to the pandemic on Tuesday, the Supreme Court flagged differential pricing for vaccines, and directed the central government to clarify in its affidavit the basis and rationale for pricing.

One of the three judges on the Bench, Justice Ravindra Bhat, called on Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to explore legislative measures to address the issue, reported by The Indian Express.

To ensure accessibility, the pricing of essential drugs is regulated centrally through The Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Under Section 3 of the Act, the government has enacted the Drugs (Prices Control) Order. The DPCO lists over 800 drugs as “essential” in its schedule, and has capped their prices.

The capping of prices is done based on a formula that is worked out in each case by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which was set up in 1997.

Regulation through DPCO is not applicable for patented drugs or fixed-dose combination (FDC) drugs. This is why the price of the antiviral drug remdesivir, which is currently in great demand for the treatment of serious cases of Covid-19, is not regulated by the government. Last week, a notification by the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers said that on the intervention of the government, major manufacturers/marketers of the remdesivir injection had reported a voluntary reduction in the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).

Globally, the American biotechnology firm Gilead Sciences owns the patent for the drug. Several pharma companies have obtained a license from Gilead to manufacture remdesivir.

To bring vaccines or drugs used in the treatment of Covid-19 such as remdesivir under the DPCO policy, an amendment can be brought.

Counting the Covid dead in the capital: on paper, at the pyre, and in between

The alarming rise in daily Covid-19 cases and deaths in India continued on Wednesday even as the number of active cases crossed 3 million for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. In the past 24 hours, 3.79 lakh fresh cases and 3,596 deaths were recorded in the country, the highest in a single day, according to the Times of India

International comparisons show that the US has 6.8 million active cases which is the world’s highest. With over 3 million such cases, India has the second-highest number, followed by Brazil, where over a million Covid patients are deemed active. France too has nearly a million active cases while the count is half a million for Turkey.

Since the start of the second wave, Maharashtra is reporting the country’s highest cases and Wednesday’s case count of 63,309 was no exception. Uttar Pradesh reported 29,824 cases while the count was 25,986 for the national capital. Maharashtra continues to lead the country in deaths. On Wednesday the state reported 985 fatalities, its highest so far.

It is also alarming to note the rate at which active cases are increasing in the country. On February 16 there were 1.38 lakh active patients – the lowest for this year. It took 40 days for these cases to increase from that level to cross 5 lakh. The next milestone of 10 lakh was covered in just 12 days and since then the increase has been unprecedented. India added the next 10 lakh active cases in 10 days and another 10 lakh in just nine days.

Record 985 COVID-19 Deaths In Maharashtra, 63,309 New Cases In 24 Hours

Maharashtra on Wednesday night reported a record high of 985 COVID-19 deaths - a ten percent increase from yesterday. The state also reported 63,309 new cases - a five percent drop from yesterday - to take its active caseload to over 6.73 lakh.

The positivity rate - the number of tests per 100 that are confirming COVID-19 - is 16.86 percent and the case fatality rate - the ratio of deaths compared to total infections - is 1.5 percent.

The state's recovery rate is 83.4 percent; 61,181 people were discharged today.

Pune remains the worst-affected district, recording 9,472 new cases and 169 deaths, followed by Nagpur (7,984 cases and 83 deaths), Mumbai (4,966 cases and 78 deaths), Nashik )4,739 cases and 40 deaths), Thane (1,933 cases and 92 deaths) and Aurangabad (1,472 cases and 81 deaths).

Of the 985 deaths reported today, only 392 occurred in the last 48 hours, cited from NDTV.

Final Phase Of Bengal Polls Today As Covid Cases Hit Record High

India COVID-19 Latest News: Government leverage in vaccine pricing explained.

The eighth and final phase of voting is being held in Bengal today amid the growing menace of Covid that is spreading fast in the state. The election is being held on 35 seats lying across Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Kolkata.

Covid has had a big impact on this phase, with one candidate battling the disease and one dead. Independent candidate at Malda's Baisabnagar has succumbed to Covid. Voting is being held as the rules say polling can be suspended only if a candidate of recognised political party dies. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, BJP candidate from Englishbazar who tested Covid-positive, is admitted to a hospital at Kolkata.

Bengal Assembly Election 2021: Bengal logged 17,207 new cases over the last 24 hours, of which 3,821 cases surfaced in Kolkata.

The Worldometer has updated the top 10 countries with the highest Coronavirus cases in 04/28/2021:

Country, Other Total Cases New Cases Total Deaths New Deaths
. World 149,366,498 +47,304 .3,149,675 .+1,478
1 USA 32,927,091 . .587,384 .
2 Brazil 14,446,541 . .395,324 .
3 Mexico 2,333,126 .+3,592 .215,547 .+434
4 India 17,997,267 .+8,630 .201,187 .+22
5 UK 4,409,631 . .127,451 .
6 Italy 3,981,512 . .119,912 .
7 Russia 4,779,425 . .108,980 .
8 France 5,534,313 . .103,603 .
9 Germany 3,326,778 . .82,698 .
10 Spain 3,496,134 . .77,855 .

Modi's pandemic response

Before its own coronavirus crisis, India assumed a leadership position in the global effort to end the pandemic, BBC reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised millions of doses to the COVAX initiative, and earlier this year donated vaccines to other countries, including Guyana, Guatemala, the Seychelles and the Maldives.

The Prime Minister's generosity, however, has not shielded him from public anger at home over his alleged role in exacerbating the domestic health crisis.

For example, Modi allowed a massive weeks-long Hindu pilgrimage to proceed with millions of attendees traveling across numerous states, and his political party held large rallies for upcoming elections in four states and one union territory.

Members of Prime Minister Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held rallies despite rising Covid cases.

Members of Prime Minister Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held rallies despite rising Covid cases.

The Prime Minister has acknowledged the scale of the crisis, and is trying to speed-up the nationwide vaccination program. From May 1, state governments and private providers will be allowed to vaccinate those who are 18 and older.

The cost of each vaccine dose is dropping too, after the Serum Institute of India (SII) said it would charge less per dose so the states can vaccinate more people. Effective immediately, each dose will cost Rs.300 per dose, down from Rs.400, the equivalent of a drop from $5.30 to $4 per dose, the SII said.

But with hundreds of thousands of new cases each day, India needs much more help to contain the outbreak.

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