23:25 GMT04 August 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s COVID-19 tally is close to hitting the one million mark, with new cases pushing the total number to 93,6181 on Wednesday. However, the South Asian nation has fast-tracked its efforts in producing a vaccine against COVID-19, with two of its candidates Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila, getting the nod for human trials.

    Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus Healthcare on Wednesday announced that it has started human trials on its potential COVID-19 vaccine ZyCov-D, as country’s caseload continues to mount.

    ZyCoV-D, its plasmid DNA vaccine, will be enrolling over 1,000 subjects across multiple clinical study sites in India to further study the vaccine, the firm said on Wednesday.

    India’s first attempt at a vaccine, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, already began phase I and II vaccine trials on 3 July.

    Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balaram Bhargava stressed in a press briefing on Tuesday that India has prioritised its vaccine development efforts, as more than half a million people have succumbed to COVID-19 around the world.

    “Experts are working day and night to do these experiments and it is their moral duty to develop vaccines as fast as possible as more than half a million people have succumbed to COVID-19 across the world. So 'fast-tracking' the development of COVID vaccines is more important," said Dr. Balram Bhargava during the daily press briefing of the Indian health ministry.

    He informed that their sites for testing are ready and they are performing the clinical study on approximately on 1,000 volunteers each at different sites.

    Out of the 140 companies around the world racing to produce a vaccine for COVID-19, five other Indian companies are also working on vaccine development. Russia has also fast-tracked a vaccine which is in the second phase of tests, which are expected to last until 28 July. Oxford University’s AstraZeneca and Biotech firm Moderna Inc, as well as 19 others, are undertaking key trials, according to WHO.

    Meanwhile, over 12 Indian states have gone under lockdown once again due to the surging number of cases. After a strict lockdown of three months the Indian government approved a phased reopening of the economy. Bihar, with cases rising over 1,000 for the third consecutive day, announced complete lockdown for 15 days.

    Besides Karnataka, states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Srinagar, and West Bengal have already begun a full to partial lockdown. 

    With 29,429 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, India has 319,840 active cases. The country saw the highest number of recovered patients in a single day with 20,572 patients declared free of COVID-19.

    India’s recovery rate stands at 63.23 percent, with 86 percent of the total active cases confined to 10 affected states.

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    lockdown, coronavirus, vaccine, COVID-19, India
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