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MUMBAI: Results of the global `Solidarity Trial’ which declared the widely-prescribed anti-viral drug, Remdesivir ineffective for saving lives or shortening duration of hospital stay, will lead to curbing its indiscriminate use for Covid-19 patients in India. With interim results of the largest global trial by the World Health Organisation published on Thursday, there is now a need for a fresh treatment protocol by the apex medical body, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), explaining the effectiveness of drugs being used, doctors told TOI.

The results of the Solidarity Trial conducted on over 11,000 hospitalised patients in 30 countries found Remdesivir, along with three other `repurposed’ drugs Hydroxychloroquine, Lopinavir and Interferon to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality.

Of these, Remdesivir and Hydroxychloroquine have been used widely for routine Covid-19 treatment in India, with both being used indiscriminately.

Worse, since Remdesivir is an expensive drug and hit the limelight as a life-saving therapy for moderate to severe Covid-19 patients, it witnessed price gouging and huge shortages across the country.

“The use of Remdesivir will get curtailed, and the perception that it‘s life-saving will be removed now. I feel the drug should be used early, in the first nine days of the illness, for the benefit of a faster recovery”, Dr Shashank Joshi member, Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force told TOI, adding, treatment (for the virus) is highly individualised, with early diagnosis and prompt treatment, being key.

It’s the end of the road for Lopinavir, while there is need for (Indian) data for HCQ and it needs validation, he said. HCQ has been unfairly beaten out, according to him, since the dose used in the Trial was toxic and too high. Drug Interferon still holds promise if Pegylated Interferon is used in mild to moderate cases, if used early in the disease.

The price of Remdesivir ranges from Rs 2,900-5,400 per dose, with patients typically requiring about six doses. In May, US firm Gilead had licensed the drug to domestic companies including Cipla, Hetero, Dr Reddy’s, Jubilant Life Sciences and Zydus Cadila to manufacture and market the generic version.

“We need to respect science and good evidence, and then apply it to the patients. Negative results tell us not to waste time, effort and resources, and help us to identify drugs which are not effective. There is need to curb the wide enthusiasm which remdesivir has generated with even non-Covid patients (those suffering from other viruses) demanding the therapy. Now that it has been shown not to benefit hospitalized Covid-19 patients, how shall we justify spending Rs 30,000 for a therapy which doesn’t work”, Dr SP Kalantri Professor of Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram pointed out.

Remdesivir had not shown statistically meaningful reduction in mortality in hospitalised patients in previous studies — Wuhan or ACTT, as well. Originally developed as a treatment for Ebola, it was granted emergency use authorisation by USFDA in May for treatment of hospitalized patients with severe Covid-19.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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India calls for complete ceasing of support to terrorist forces in Middle East




UNITED NATIONS: India has called on all concerned parties to completely stop supporting terrorist forces, like the ISIS, while urging all stakeholders in the Middle East to work constructively for peace, stability and development.

India underscored that it has invested considerably in the peace and stability of the region by deploying its personnel as part of UN peacekeeping forces, through humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, capacity building, and will continue contributing towards peace-building in the Middle East.

“India calls on concerned parties to completely stop support to terrorist forces, like ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and others. India also urges all parties in the region to work constructively and in good faith to promote peace, stability and development for the benefit of all people in the Middle East,” India said in a written statement on Monday on the Security Council’s open debate on ‘The Situation in the Middle East’.

India said the truce between Israel and the Hamas has eased the humanitarian situation in Gaza and expressed hope that the temporary truce is converted into a permanent ceasefire, which can save precious human lives on both sides and create a conducive environment for talks.

“It is an unfortunate reality that the interlinked and mutually reinforcing challenges faced by the people of the Middle East have not yet been resolved. Political instability, long-festering conflicts, sectarian divides, issue of refugees and terrorism continue to plague the region. The COVID-pandemic has only exacerbated the threats posed by these challenges,” India said.

The statement made India’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, will go as part of the official record of the Council.

India said it appreciates the agreement between Fatah and Hamas for holding Parliamentary and Presidential elections and also elections for the Palestinian National Council, which will help fulfill the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.

India also welcomed the agreements for normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. “India has always supported peace and stability in West Asia, which is our extended neighbourhood,” India said.

Further, India said the commencement of discussions on the disputed border between Israel and Lebanon is a significant development, expressing hope that this will provide an opportunity to resolve the longstanding issue between the two countries.

India highlighted that Palestinian aspirations for a sovereign and independent state are yet to be fulfilled and stressed that New Delhi has been unwavering in its commitment to the Palestinian cause and continues to remain supportive of a peaceful negotiated resolution of the Palestinian issue.

“India has supported the two-state solution as a just and acceptable solution to the conflict. Establishment of a Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, within mutually agreed borders should be achieved through negotiations directly by the two parties,” India said adding that any stalemate could strengthen the hands of extremists and shut the door to cooperation thereby jeopardising the security, stability and prosperity of the people on both sides and the region.

Accordingly, India urged Israel and Palestine to resume direct negotiations at the earliest and called upon the international community to take concrete steps towards resuming and facilitating these negotiations quickly.

India noted that the decade-long armed conflict in Syria has claimed over 400,000 lives, displaced 6.2 million people internally and compelled another 6.3 million people to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

“While we are heartened to see return of normalcy to major parts of the country, we are also reminded of the enormous resources that would be required to provide urgent humanitarian aid, rebuild infrastructure, enable return of the refugees and restore a normal and dignified life of all Syrians,” the statement said.

India said in the statement that it is not only contributing to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria, but has also consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.

India voiced concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and said the recent exchange of prisoners by the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah, who had been detained in connection with the conflict, is a welcome development.

“India hopes that the parties will take more confidence building measures to provide the necessary impetus for the full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement,” the statement read.

India also hopes for peace and stability in Iraq with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India noted that in the aftermath of the August blast that brought destruction to vast swathes of Beirut and inflicted heavy loss of lives, India stood in solidarity with Lebanon.

New Delhi sent emergency humanitarian aid of over 58 metric tons to Beirut. “We look forward to the swift formation of a new government that can offer political stability and also tackle the grave socio-economic challenges being faced by the people of Lebanon,” the statement said.

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US, India must focus on threat posed by China: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo




NEW DELHI: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Tuesday stressed on the need for Washington and New Delhi to work together to counter the threat posed by Beijing to “security and freedom”

Pompeo’s comment came during the crucial 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, which saw the signing of a crucial defence agreement between the two countries.

“There is much more work to do for sure. We have a lot to discuss today: Our cooperation on the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom to promoting peace and stability throughout the region,” Pompeo said during talks with defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Pompeo was joined by defence secretary Mark Esper.

Esper too focussed on the apparent threat posed by China, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our focus now must be on institutionalising and regularising our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” Esper said.

The comments assume significance as India is locked in a border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

In June this year, 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of PLA soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, hardening the mood in India against China and driving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to seek closer military ties with the United States.

In the US, President Donald Trump has made being tough on China a key part of his campaign to secure a second term in next week’s presidential election and Pompeo has been trying to bolster allies to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

This month, India invited Australia to join naval drills it holds each year with the United States and Japan, brushing off Chinese concerns that the exercises destabilise the region.

(With inputs from agencies)

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Secretary Mark Esper meet NSA Doval




NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper on Tuesday held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, covering key aspects of growing strategic ties between the two countries.

Issues of strategic importance were discussed at the meeting, sources said.

The meeting took place ahead of the third edition of 2+2 ministerial dialogue. Esper and Pompeo arrived here on Monday for the crucial talks aimed at further boosting the defence and security ties between the two countries.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held separate talks with their US counterparts on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, both the top US administration officials visited the National War Memorial and paid tributes to India’s fallen heroes.

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