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No evidence to validate claims on multiple focal points for COVID outbreak

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said there is no evidence that can validate claims on global multiple focal points for the COVID-19 outbreak, amid China claiming that the coronavirus broke out simultaneously in several countries last year.

During an interaction with his social media followers on the sixth episode of “Sunday Samvaad”, Mr. Vardhan said the reported outbreak of COVID-19 from Wuhan in China remains recognised as the first report worldwide.

Responding to a question, he said China has claimed that there was a simultaneous outbreak of the disease across many nations.

“However, to validate this claim that there were multiple focal points across the world requires data of uniform and timely reporting of the occurrence of confirmed and diagnosed cases from various countries at the very same time. No such clinching evidence is as yet available regarding this. Therefore, the reported outbreak of COVID-19 from Wuhan in China has been recognised as the first report worldwide,” the minister said.

Responding to another question on the market being flooded with oximeters made in China, he said, “Consumers should look for FDA or CE-approved products with ISO or IEC specifications while purchasing a pulse oximeter from the market or from online retailers.”

However, he made it clear that a dip in the oxygen saturation level is not a COVID-19 symptom, as it may happen due to other underlying medical conditions as well.

Mr. Vardhan further said as yet, no mutation of the coronavirus has been detected in India, which is either more transmission efficient or more pathogenic.

In response to another question, the minister said although there are no intranasal COVID-19 vaccines under trial in the country at the moment, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are expected to pursue clinical trials of such vaccines in the coming months on receiving the regulatory approval.

He clarified that the phase-3 clinical trial is generally with thousands of participants, sometimes even close to 30,000 to 40,000. It is possible that from a specific city or hospital, a couple of hundred participants are selected at a given time, but in general, the overall phase-3 participant pool is much larger.

Sharing details of the special Drive for Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) reporting and monitoring of drugs used in COVID-19, Mr. Vardhan clarified that the drive is not because of an adverse reaction reported with an existing drug, but is part of a proactive COVID-19 preparedness programme.- PTI

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