TECH MAHINDRA STARTS COVID-19 SCREENING SERVICE FOR 1,200 PER PERSON
IT company Tech Mahindra on Aug 03, 2020, started a coronavirus screening service ‘Mhealthy’, which can also detect COVID-19 antibodies, said a senior official of the company. The firm said the platform is clinically tested and compliant with all government- mandated regulations, guidelines, and has been approved by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
“Mhealthy not only does an instant risk assessment on COVID-19, but also additionally screens multiple factors that may contribute to risk,” Tech Mahindra Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer C P Gurnani said in a statement. The company added that the Mhealthy service comprises over 32 screening tests on a single platform and detects antibodies with 96% accuracy.
“Mhealthy can detect antibodies. We have done screening of our employees and results have been 96 per cent accurate. A lot of people were not even aware of other problems like blood glucose and hypertension,” Tech Mahindra Global Chief People Officer and Head of Marketing Harshvendra Soin said. Soin added that once the result is out, the people can follow up with doctor consultation through an app. The Mhealthy platform will categorise individuals opting for the screening under L1, L2 and L3.
“L1 means that the person is healthy. L2 means the person has had some exposure. If the person is L3 then the person is most likely to be a COVID-19-positive case,” Soin said. He also added that just checking the temperature will not give any result. “There is no other test like this. Some people do only COVID-19 antibodies test or antigen test but this one is a comprehensive test that takes into account all the comorbidity factors like hypertension and blood glucose,” Soin said.
The company will provide this service for 1,200 per person. The Mhealthy team will visit premises of societies and companies for the screening with portable devices and trained nurses for the service. “People can directly connect with a doctor for consultation through an app. Going to hospital is a big risk. We are equipped for testing a large number of people,” Soin said.
MODI ANNOUNCES DIGITAL INDIA HEALTH MISSION, HEALTH ID FOR MEDICAL RECORDS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day (August 15,2020) speech from Red Fort announced the National Digital Health Mission. As per the mission, every Indian will have a health ID. He said that this will revolutionise the Indian health sector. PM Modi added that the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) will ensure seamless healthcare services will be provided through the health card.
The NDHM had recently received in- principle approval from the Cabinet. The platform would have health IDs, personal health records, Digi Doctor and a health facility registry. Once it is rolled out, the platform would also expand to include e-pharmacy and telemedicine services, as stated by earlier reports. The digital health ecosystem would be a voluntary one and would be up to the user, hospitals and doctors to enrol. Health records of individuals could be accessed but only after authorisation. Users would also be able to link their Aadhaar with the health IDs. The IDs could be put to use at hospitals, pharmacies and labs across the country.
The platform would also allow doctors to sign up and show their details and contact numbers. They would also be assigned a digital signature for prescriptions. The National Digital Health Mission has been created to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of the health service in India.
The force behind the National Digital Health Mission is the National Health Authority that brought the Ayushman Bharat scheme to fruition. While the Ministry of Finance has approved a budget of Rs 470 for the National Digital Health Mission, the platform is likely to seek around Rs 400 crore from the government.
CENTRE CALLS FOR DUAL TB-COVID SCREENING
The Union health ministry on Aug 27, 2020, directed authorities to conduct bidirectional covid-19 and tuberculosis (TB) screening, citing studies indicating that a history of active and latent TB is a risk factor in SARS CoV-2 infection. This leads to a higher susceptibility and show severe symptoms and disease progression, the government said. The prevalence of TB among covid-19 patients has been found to be 0.37% to 4.47% in different studies, said the Union health ministry. “TB is associated with a 2.1-fold increased risk of severe covid-19 disease. In addition, TB patients tend to have comorbidity or unhygienic living conditions leading to health issues such as malnutrition, diabetes, smoking, HIV, which increase their vulnerability,” the ministry said in a guidance note.
As per the proposed report,there has been an overall decline in TB notification by 26% in January-June 2020 as compared to the previous year due to the pandemic. To address this dual morbidity of TB and Covid-19, the Covid-19 screening was done for all patients diagnosed with TB and TB screening for all Covid-19 positive patients. According to Ministry of Health,TB screening should also be done for influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infections.
Cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in India with 75,090 fresh cases. India’s case count was at 3,377,404, with 61,636 fatalities. The last 24 hours of August 27, saw a record of 1,005 deaths. India’s fatality rate is 1.83%. Union cabinet secretary Rajiv Guaba and other officials held a meeting on Covid-19 management and response strategy with chief secretaries and health secretaries of different states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
As per the verdict of Health Ministry there was 89% of the deaths in last two weeks which were reported in the aforementioned 10 states and Union territories hence, these states and UTs need to have continued and rigorous vigil to restrict the spread of infection.
ABBOTT WINS U.S. APPROVAL FOR RAPID COVID-19 TEST
Abbott Laboratories on Aug 26, affirmed its approval from U.S.goverment for marketing Covid-19 portable test which claims to deliver results within 15 minutes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the approval under its emergency use authorization program.
The portable test, BinaxNOW Covid-19 Ag Card, is for use by healthcare professionals at hospitals and labs, and Abbott plans to sell the tests for $5 each. The United States now has more cases of the coronavirus than any other country, and hospitals and labs have struggled to meet the demand to test thousands of people.
Abbott expects to ship tens of millions of test kit in September, ramping to 50 million tests a month from the beginning of October. Since March, the company has got U.S. authorizations for five coronavirus tests, including one that can deliver results within minutes and is also used by the White House.
‘COVID ANTIBODIES MAY LAST JUST 50 DAYS’
Covid-19 antibodies may not last more than a couple of months, according to a study carried out on affected healthcare staff of JJ Group of Hospitals.
“Our study of 801 people included 28 who had tested positive for Covid (on RT-PCR) seven weeks prior (in late April- early May),” said the study’s main author Dr Nishant Kumar. None of them showed any antibodies in a sero survey done in June, says the pre-print of the study that will appear in the September issue of the ‘International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health’.
The sero survey had 34 others who tested PCR positive three weeks and five weeks prior respectively. “While 90% of those in the three-week group had antibodies, just 38.5% in the five-week group had antibodies,’’ he said . Covid antibodies are being widely discussed at the moment because of the vaccine trials and the re-infection case in Hong Kong. Antibodies can guard patients against repeated infections and those vaccinated against first infections. An analysis of the JJ survey’s results showed that antibodies decayed quickly.
However, some public health experts were skeptical with the early decay hypothesis. “We don’t know if the 28 patients had an asymptomatic form of Covid or if they had symptoms,” said epidemiologist Giridhar R Babu. Studies have shown asymptomatic patients don’t have the same level of antibodies as patients who have had a prolonged or severe Covid infection. “Patients who had longer symptomatic disease have antibodies for at least 3-4 months,” he added.
Another doctor said, “There is emerging evidence that it is not IgG (Immunoglobulin G is the most common type of antibody) but T cells or neutralising antibodies that may help build immunity against Covid.” The decay in IgG levels, he added, isn’t too worrisome then.
Source: www.health.economictimes. indiatimes.com
EU PAYS 336 MILLION EUROS TO SECURE ASTRAZENECA’S POTEN- TIAL COVID-19 VACCINE
According to a spokesperson, the European Commission has made a 336 million euro ($396 million) down payment to British drugmaker AstraZeneca to secure at least 300 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine The deal covers development, liability and other costs faced by the vaccine maker. The EU has also secured an option to buy 100 million additional doses of the vaccine under development. The 27 EU states could buy it at a later stage, should the vaccine prove successful.
The overall price they will pay to acquire the doses has not been revealed, but under an earlier deal struck in June with AstraZeneca by Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, all members of the EU, AstraZeneca agreed to sell 300 million doses for 750 million euros ($843 million). The EU deal completed the preliminary accord reached with the drug maker by the four countries, the Commission said in a statement.
“We cannot indicate at this stage the specific pricing per dose. However, a significant part of the overall costs are funded by a contribution from the overall ESI funding for vaccines,” the commission spokesman said, referring to the 336 million euros paid through the bloc’s so- called emergency support instrument. It is the first contract signed by the EU with a maker of potential COVID-19 vaccines.
AstraZeneca has already agreed the supply of 300 million shots of the same vaccine to the United States for $1.2 billion, and of up to 30 million doses to Britain for 65.5 million pounds ($86.5 million). Brussels has previously said it is also in advanced talks with Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, Moderna and CureVac for their potential vaccines.
EU officials told Reuters in July the bloc was also talking with Pfizer and BionTech for the shot they are developing together. The contract with AstraZeneca follows an advance purchase agreement signed by Brussels with the company earlier in August. Part of the money the EU pays for supply deal covers legal risks faced by vaccine makers if their shots have unexpected side effects. These risks are increased by the hastened process to develop a vaccine in the race against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In order to compensate for such high risks taken by manufacturers, the Advanced Purchase Agreements provide for member states to indemnify the manufacturer for liabilities incurred under certain conditions,” the commission said.
“Liability still remains with the companies,” it added. This issue has been one of the stumbling blocks in talks with other vaccine makers, officials told Reuters, as companies prefer to have a broader shield.
CENTRE FRAMES DRAFT POLICY ON DATA PRIVACY UNDER NATIONAL DIGITAL HEALTH MISSION SCHEME
All necessary data privacy measures will be put in place to safeguard the confidentiality of sensitive health-related information of individuals under the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) programme that seeks to provide a unique ID to all citizens to map their medical history, the government has said. As per the draft proposal, everyone enrolled for the mission will get a Health ID free of cost and will have complete control over his or her data. Any personal data can be collected only after consent from individuals and they will be allowed to revoke their consent to restrict any sharing of personal data. The government has proposed a framework and a set of minimum standards for data privacy protection to be followed across the board in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The National Health Authority (NHA), the central agency responsible for the implementation of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, which has been mandated to design and roll out NDHM in the country, has released the draft ‘Health Data Management Policy’ in the public domain. The document has been put up on the official website of National Digital Health Mission seeking comments and feedback from the public till September 3. The draft policy mainly seeks to set out a framework for “secure processing of personal and sensitive personal data of individuals” who are a part of the national digital health ecosystem.
Data collected across the National Digital Health Ecosystem (NDHE) will be stored in the central level, the state or Union Territory level and at the health facility level, by adopting the principle of minimality at each point, according to the document. The federated structure necessitates the development of a framework that can be utilised throughout the NDHE to safeguard the privacy of confidential health data that has been collected from individuals in India, it stated.
Indu Bhushan, the Chief Executive Officer of NHA said, “The Draft Health Data Management Policy is the maiden step in realizing NDHM’s guiding principle of ‘Security and Privacy by Design’ for the protection of individuals’ data privacy.”
“It encompasses various aspects of health data like data privacy, consent management, data sharing and protection among others,” the officer said.
The provisions of this policy shall apply to the entities involved in the NDHM and those who are a part of the NDHE, that includes all entities and individuals who have been issued an ID under this policy, healthcare professionals, governing bodies of the health ministry, the NHA, relevant professional bodies and regulators.
It would also apply to any healthcare provider who collects, stores and transmits health data in electronic form, insurers, charitable institutions, pharmaceuticals and all individuals, teams, entities who collect or process personal or sensitive data of any individual as part of the NDHE.
The federated design of the NDHE ensures personal data of the data principals will be held at the point of care or at the closest possible location where it was created, with no centralised repository, the draft document said. As such, data storage shall incorporate privacy control and safeguards right from the foundational levels. Highlighting the significance of the policy and its potential impact, Bhushan said, “The government is working to ensure strong privacy of health data and therefore, we are circulating the Draft Health Data Management Policy of NDHM to increase awareness on the importance of data privacy and instil a privacy-oriented mindset among all stakeholders and participants of the ecosystem.
” The vision of the mission is to create a national digital health ecosystem which enables timely and efficient access to inclusive, affordable, and safe healthcare to all citizens. The National Health Authority said the NDHM will significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health services in India.
NATIONAL HEALTH AUTHORITY LAUNCHES SANDBOX TO TEST PRODUCTS FOR DIGITAL HEALTH MISSION
Indu Bhushan, CEO of Ayushman Bharat and the National Health Authority (NHA), on Thursday, Aug 27, announced on Twitter that the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) Sandbox was live. “Inviting healthcare providers, software providers, startups to join us in co-developing tech products for one of the largest digital health ecosystems in the world,” Bhushan wrote in his tweet.
On August 15, India’s 74th Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the NDHM, envisaged as a digital health ecosystem with personal health IDs for every Indian, digitisation of health records as well as a registry of doctors and health facilities across the country. The health IDs for citizens would be applicable across states, hospitals, diagnostic laboratories and pharmacies, with plans to bring aboard online pharmacies at a later stage. Further, the scheme would also make provisions for enrolment of ‘Digi Doctor’, allowing patients to avail online consultation with doctors. The recently launched sandbox will allow the NHA, the authority overseeing the NDHM, for testing new products and technologies in a contained environment for a defined period of time to eventually ensure successful full-scale deployment of tried and tested products in the market.
“Because there are boundary conditions – the risk is minimised and the emphasis is on feedback, learning and compliance to defined standards required to become a part of NDHM. This will provide an opportunity to identify, understand, adapt and respond to these disruptive new products and services in a timely and appropriate fashion,” read the NDHM Sandbox guidelines. The Sandbox is open to healthcare service providers, hospitals, healthcare software vendors and anyone who wants to build NDHM APIs (application programming interface).
The guidelines mention that the sandbox is open to all upon request. “If your request is approved, you will get access to the sandbox to build or/and expand your products in the healthcare/health tech industry. This is your chance to partner with NDHM, by enabling and empowering the products with the core building blocks of the Mission. For the government sector as well, APIs and platforms shall be available for integration with the NDHM ecosystem.
” The announcement of the NDHM, best understood as the UPI for healthcare in India — digitally encapsulating all records and history of an individual’s health and wellness — has inspired confidence among Indian startups already working in the sphere. The mission already has over a dozen companies and organisations working together, including 1mg, Practo, mfine, National Cancer Grid, LiveHealth, and DRiefcase, among others.
Composed by: Parthvee Jain, Editor, InnoHEALTH, Magazine