Kumbh Mela might be cut short; Remdesivir's output to be raised

The Asian Age.  | Vineeta Pandey

India, All India

Both present and past CMs of Uttar Pradesh - Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav - tested positive for Covid-19

Devotees gather to offer prayers during the third 'Shahi Snan' of the Kumbh Mela 2021, at Har ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (PTI)

New Delhi: Both present and past CMs of Uttar Pradesh -- Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav -- tested positive for Covid-19 as the pandemic spread its tentacles to infect more than 1.84 lakh persons in one day in India. The death toll too has started rising. In the past 24 hours, 1,027 fatalities were recorded as dead bodies piled up for last rites. Pressure is now rising on the government to defer the Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls.

In Uttarakhand, facing widespread criticism over the huge maskless crowds at Haridwar’s Kumbh Mela, the state government is planning to cut short the duration of the religious gathering, where thousands of pilgrims are testing positive every day.

With 10 states accounting for 68.16 per cent of the country’s total active cases, the medical health infrastructure is under tremendous pressure -- hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and facing an acute shortage of oxygen, ventilators and Remdesivir injections. Delhi’s AAP government has attached a number of hotels with hospitals to increase the bed capacity to treat Covid-19 patients.

In Odisha, Congress candidate for Pipli byelection Ajit Mangaraj died of Covid-19, while in Mumbai actor Ashutosh Rana tested positive despite having taken the first shot of the Covid vaccine.

In view of the short supply of Remdesivir injections, the government has decided to increase production and to reduce prices. “The current total installed capacity of the seven manufacturers of Remdesivir is 38.80 lakh vials per month. Fast-track approval has been given for seven additional sites having a production capacity of 10 lakh vials/month to six manufacturers. Another 30 lakh vials/month production is lined up. This would ramp up the production capacity for manufacturing to around 78 lakh vials/month. As an additional measure, Remdesivir, API and formulation were placed under an export ban on April 11 by the DGFT to increase the supply of Remdesivir in the domestic market. On the government’s intervention, Remdesivir supplies of approximately four lakh vials meant for export is being diverted by the manufacturers to fulfil domestic demand. The EOU/SEZ units are also being enabled to supply to the domestic market,” the chemicals and fertilisers ministry said in a statement.

Officials said Remdesivir’s manufacturers have volunteered to reduce the price to less than Rs 3,500 by the end of this week. They have also been directed to give priority to fulfil hospital/institutional level supplies and the enforcement authorities have been directed by the DCGI to take immediate action against any blackmarketing, hoarding and attempts to overcharge for Remdesivir injections.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Union health minister, said that the shortage of Remdesivir injections had happened because its production was reduced as Covid-19 cases were decreasing.