The drug BGR-34 is available to patients in the country since 2015. The formulation was developed and required scientific studies were carried out by the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), research units functioning under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The tests include standardization, product validation on the basis of modern scientific parameters, antioxidant activity determination, optimization of herbal components for best activity, assessment of anti-diabetic activity and safety studies etc.
Availability of the Ayurvedic drug BGR-34 in Government Hospitals and Dispensaries in the country falls under the domain of procurement agencies of the concerned State Government/Public Sector Undertaking (PSU’s)/Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS)/Municipalities/Employee State Insurance (ESI)/New Delhi Municipal Corporation(NDMC) etc.
Since BGR-34 is licensed under the proprietary Ayurvedic Medicine category and its availability is possible only through tenders. Inclusion of drug BGR-34 in the tender depends on the responsive bid, price and qualifying approved Standard Operative Procedure (SOP) for procurement norms of the concerned procurement agency.
NDMC and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)make availability of Medicine for any resident of Delhi. In ESI the availability of the drug is subject to having a valid ESI Health card by the individual and their family. In CGHS the Medicine is made available to CGHS beneficiaries through local chemists as it does not come through tender.
The government of India has adopted a strategy of Co-location of AYUSH facilities at Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs) and District Hospitals (DHs), thus enabling the choice to the patients for different systems of medicines under a single window. The engagement of AYUSH Doctors/ paramedics and their training is supported by the Department of Health & Family Welfare.
While the support for AYUSH infrastructure, equipment/furniture and medicines are provided by the Ministry of AYUSH under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission (NAM). Similarly, Ministry is also doing efforts for the operationalization of AYUSH Health & Wellness Centres by upgrading AYUSH dispensaries and existing Sub health centres through NAM under the collaboration of the Department of Health & Family Welfare.
This information was given by the Minister of Ayush Shri Sarbananda Sonowal in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.
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Implementation Committee of National Education Policy 2020 formed by the Department of Higher Education, which includes experts from the Ministry of Ayush. As per the meeting held on 19th July 2021 of the Implementation Committee, an action taken report has been shared by the Ministry of Ayush regarding inputs for implementation of the New Education Policy.
Further, a team of experts from the National Institute of Ayurveda (NIA) a deemed to be a university Under De-novo Category has drafted an outline of syllabus based on Ayurveda and Yoga for School Children from 1st to 10/12th Standard including Nursery, LKG and UKG levels which has been sent Department of School Education and Literacy.
The All India Institute Ayurveda (AIIA) has developed an immunity-boosting ‘Bala Raksha Kit’ for Children up to the age of 16 years. This kit has been made under the strict guidelines of the Ministry of AYUSH. This fights common infections and keeps them healthy. The kit is comprised of Syrup Bal Ayu Raksha Kwatha (Consisting base) which have medicinal qualities, a part from Anu Oil, Samshamani Vati and Chywanprash. It has been manufactured by Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited (IMPCL), a Government of India enterprise, at its Uttrakhand based plant.
This information was given by the Minister of Ayush Shri Sarbananda Sonowal in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.
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As fear grows over a new Covid variant now known as Omicron, doctors in South Africa have observed first symptoms of this new and deadly strain that are different from the Delta one.
Although yet to be officially listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), patients infected with this strain show extreme tiredness, among other noticeable symptoms.
"This is not limited to any age group. Young patients also show extreme tiredness," according to Angelique Coetzee, Chairperson of the South African Medical Association.
There is also no major drop in oxygen saturation levels, Coetzee said in media reports.
The Omicron patients also reported mild muscle aches, a scratchy throat, and dry cough, according to the doctor.
The patients that Coetzee treated were mostly men, aged under 40, and around half of them were even vaccinated.
Although in a ray of hope, the doctors in South Africa said most patients of Omicron strain have recovered without hospitalisation.
The overall global risk related to the new Covid variant, Omicron is assessed as very high, said the World Health Organisation on Monday.The WHO said on Monday that Omicron is a highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations, including 26-32 in the spike, some of which are of concern and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility.
However, there are still considerable uncertainties, added the global health body. "Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possible transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high," said the WHO.
Read More► WHO Classifies B.1.1.529 As 'Variant of Concern' Named Omicron
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the new Covid variant detected in southern Africa this week as the 'Variant of Concern' following the Technical Advisory Group meeting on Friday.
"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a Variant of Concern and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron", said the global health body in a statement.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9, 2021.
The WHO has asked the countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database. The WHO has reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of Covid-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.
The WHO said that this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern.
Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa. Current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect this variant. Several labs have indicated that for one widely used PCR test, one of the three target genes is not detected and this test can therefore be used as marker for this variant, pending sequencing confirmation. Using this approach, this variant has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection, suggesting that this variant may have a growth advantage, said the WHO.
The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is an independent group of experts that periodically monitors and evaluates the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and assesses if specific mutations and combinations of mutations alter the behaviour of the virus. The TAG-VE was convened on 26 November 2021 to assess the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. (agency)
Read More► How Covid Affects Pregnant Mothers And Babies
New York- Covid-19 infection during pregnancy leads to distinct immune changes in mothers and babies, according to a study.
The researchers found that Covid-19 dysregulates maternal immune response, with different immune signatures between mothers with asymptomatic and severe disease.
"We know that pregnancy increases maternal risk for Covid-19, but relatively little is known about the long-term consequences of in-utero exposure for infants," said Jae Jung, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Global Center for Pathogen & Human Health Research.
The study highlights "how important it will be for long-term follow-up after pregnancy to catch and hopefully prevent any unforeseen long-term health conditions related to prenatal infection,"Jung added.
For the study, published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, the team involved 93 mothers with Covid-19 and 45 of their infant children who were exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The research team studied immune profiles for more than 1,400 cytokines and other inflammatory proteins collected from peripheral and cord blood samples.
The researchers compared maternal blood specimens collected close to the initial detection of SARS-CoV-2 and at different time points throughout pregnancy and delivery.
They found that compared to mild or moderate disease, pregnant women with severe Covid-19 exhibited significantly more inflammation and elevated levels of a protein called IFNL1 (interferon lambda 1) and the receptor it binds with, IFNLR1, which plays a critical role in protecting against viruses.
"This increase in interferon lambda signaling may help explain why we see relatively little direct transmission of Covid-19 between mother and baby during the period right before or after birth -- what we call vertical transmission," explained Suan-Sin (Jolin) Foo, a research associate in Dr. Jung's lab and co-first author on the paper.
Despite the lack of evidence for robust vertical transmission, the researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 infection alters maternal immunity at delivery and that gestational SARS-CoV-2 exposure alters infant immunity at birth.
At delivery, the women exhibited dysregulated levels of several cytokines that are associated with pregnancy complications, including MMP7, MDK, ESM1, BGN and CD209.
Among infants, prenatal exposure induced the expression of cytokines related to T cells, which are a type of immune cell involved in recognising and attacking specific antigens.
The majority of births within the cohort were healthy, but there was a high incidence of some complications, including preeclampsia and foetal growth restriction.
More research will be necessary to understand the extent to which the observed immune changes are related to these clinical outcomes, the team said.
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While wearing double masks, which helps create a strong barrier against Covid-19 infection spread via airborne viral particles, has become the new normal, prolonged wearing of masks can develop hydration issues or other nagging breathing troubles, health experts said on Wednesday.
There has been enough evidence through the pandemic to show the importance of masks for effective pandemic control. At the start of the pandemic, it was seen that countries (primarily Asian nations) which enforced early masking had lesser mortality rates as compared to countries in the West where compulsory mask wearing was introduced quite late.
"Prolonged mask wearing can be associated with certain problems the most common being headaches, dehydration, acne and difficulty in breathing," Radhika Banka, Consultant Pulmonologist at P.D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.
Breathing issues are "usually seen in mouth breathers and in people with underlying respiratory problems such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)", she added.
According to Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and HOD, Pulmonology, at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, wearing double mask for long hours can also lead to dryness.
"It is because natural humidification of nasal mucosa gets impaired," Jha said.
There are various masks available in the market, including cloth masks, surgical masks and respirators such as N-95s.
The cloth mask has the least protection and the US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a disposable surgical mask along with a cloth mask for additional protection. For surgical masks, the knotted technique (that is knotting the ear loops to provide better fit and prevent leakage from the sides) is recommended.
But with full vaccination rolled out in most countries, are double masks still required?
"Even after double dose vaccination, people can get breakthrough infections and can still be asymptomatic carriers and spread the infection. Hence masking is important even after double vaccination," Banka said.
The health experts stated that for people living in India, double masks become more important as vaccination of children has not yet begun in the country, and asymptomatic transmission is the highest from children. Added to this is a high population density, where social distancing is not practically possible in many cases.
Most of the countries which have made masks voluntary are those in the West with low population density, where social distancing is feasible. These countries have managed to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of their population with two doses. Also, masks in these countries are still recommended in enclosed spaces, public transports, healthcare facilities etc.
"With only 48 per cent of our population being vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent being vaccinated with two doses, I do not think India can yet take the risk of removing the mandatory use of masks," Banka said.
However, according to Jha, "A single mask, if worn properly, is sufficient."
"People who wear double masks, have this tendency of adjusting their masks repeatedly due to breathing issues, and that way the whole purpose of wearing a mask is defeated," he said.
Jha added that for someone like a healthcare worker, who is in an area with high concentration of Covid viral droplets, an N-95 mask should be worn all the time. For other situations, a normal surgical mask (single) is sufficient.
"We need to ensure that masks are worn properly, with proper seal at nose. Improperly worn masks are more dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that a mask alone may not protect. One needs to follow hand hygiene as well as maintain social distancing," Jha advised.
Although several countries have loosened mask restrictions citing vaccine efficacy, various studies and health experts have stressed on the need for continuing wearing masks, even after being fully vaccinated, including booster shots; and following other protective measures such as physical distancing and handwashing.
A recent study led by researchers from the Monash University and the University of Edinburgh analysed more than 30 studies from around the world and found a statistically significant 53 per cent reduction in the incidence of Covid with mask wearing, and 25 per cent reduction with physical distancing. Handwashing also indicated a substantial 53 per cent reduction in Covid incidence.
Most people are able to wear masks fairly well for a few hours, but if your job requires you to wear masks for a prolonged period, it is essential to take adequate breaks to hydrate oneself and prevent any skin problems, Banka suggested. (Agency)
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