India recorded 19,740 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, ending at 8 am on Saturday. The active caseload in the country has dropped to 2.36 lakh (2,36,643), the lowest in 206 days, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.
With 284 people succumbing to the deadly infection, the death toll has crossed 4.5 lakh.
Kerala remains the biggest contributor to the national caseload, adding 10,944 fresh cases. With 120 new deaths, the state is also reporting the highest number of daily covid fatalities.
Amid criticism for alleged under-reporting, the Kerala government has decided to add 7,000 deaths to the states death toll. The addition would take the state’s Covid-19 death toll from 26,000 to 33,000, as on Saturday.
Announcing the decision, state Health Minister Veena George said 7,000 cases had gone unreported in official data for want of relevant records. “If complaints exist about omissions in the list, the Health Department is open to look into them,” she said.
Nearly every eligible beneficiary has been given at least one dose of the Covid vaccine in Delhi’s Gautam Buddh Nagar, officials said. The focus is now on vaccinating the remaining — about 12,000 beneficiaries in the 45+ age bracket.
Last week, the health department had started a special drive to administer the first dose to those in this age group.
Two Indian drugmakers, Aurobindo Pharma Ltd and MSN Laboratories, have requested permission to end late-stage trials of their generic versions of Merck & Co’s promising experimental oral antiviral drug molnupiravir to treat moderate cases of Covid. This comes a week after Merck said its own trial had succeeded for mild-to-moderate patients.
According to a spokesperson for Merck, Merck and the Indian companies had defined “moderate” disease differently. Merck’s trials are based on US Food and Drug Administration definitions, which for moderate Covid describe blood oxygen levels as no lower than 93 per cent.