News Digest: Security and Hot Button Issues (September 08 – 15, 2021)

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Covid-19 Issues

Nepal Health Research Council is preparing to study the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines currently administered in the country. The study will help understand the efficiency of vaccines by testing the neutralizing antibodies. The neutralizing bodies are pro

duced as an immune response to both infection and vaccination and are responsible to defend the cells from pathogens. The study will also determine if a third dose of booster shot is needed.

Three hospitals are awaiting approval from the government authorities to start the third phase clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sanofi Pasteur, a French multinational company. The two hospitals that have been identified so far for the trials are Dhulikhel hospital and Nepalgunj Medical College. The trial will begin once the Department of Drug Administration issues a license to import new vaccines for the trial. Along with Sanofi Pasteur, two other Chinese companies have also applied to conduct clinical trials in the country. The government can set conditions to receive prior access to the vaccinations when they get into manufacturing. However, they should also ensure the health and safety of the participants, and work to prevent any potential manipulation of data during the trials.

Miscellaneous Issues

Ministry of Health and Population has activated an early warning and reporting system following an outbreak of Nipah virus in the state of Kerala in India. Like coronavirus, Nipah is also a zoonotic virus and spreads in humans through animals. The symptoms are also similar to those of coronavirus, but Nipah is deadlier in terms of mortality rate (around 75 %). The ministry has identified 118 high risk zones throughout the country and has asked the health workers in these areas to send samples of the suspects to the National Public Health Laboratory. Although the virus was detected back in 1999, there is still no treatment.

High risk of measles among children of Jajarkot as the infection is found among children. Although Nepal targeted to eliminate measles by 2019, cases were found in several districts in 2020 as well. The experts suggest that the suspension in the vaccination campaigns due to pandemic might increase the number of cases in future.

The cases of viral fever and pneumonia are increasing in remote Mugu. Children below the age of five are mostly affected by the viral fever and pneumonia. The continuous rainfall and dip in temperature are the leading causes according to the experts.

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