Daily Current Affairs for 18th March 2020

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51 private labs will soon be allowed to conduct tests

GS Paper III

Topic: Science and technology.

Mains: WHO criteria for community transmission

What’s the News?

The “test, test, test” prescription of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not for India as community transmission of COVID-19 has not yet occurred.

Indian case:

  • In India the ICMR was approached by several private players who want to contribute and talks are on with 51 NABL accredited private laboratories.
  • A standard operating procedure will also be maintained strict standard control.
  • 51 private laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) will soon be allowed to test for COVID-19 to enhance capacity for diagnosis and detection in addition to the 72 functional laboratories.
  • Currently there is no evidence of community transmission and India has witnessed only limited local transmission from imported cases.
  • If community transmission is documented, our testing strategy will undergo changes to evolve into stage appropriate testing strategy.
  • ICMR has released a revised testing guideline which includes testing norms for health care workers looking after patients with respiratory distress.


The WHO criteria are not country specific. While India cannot say that we have contained and avoided community transmission, India did close our international borders very early.

China gives go-ahead for human trials of COVID-19 vaccine

GS Paper III

Topic: Science and technology

Prelims: Investigational vaccine

What’s the News?

China has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine in the race to develop a shot against the COVID-19 epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide.


  • COVID-19 cases were first identified in December 2019 in China’s Wuhan in Hubei province.
  • The WHO has reported 153,517 cases of COVID-19 and 5,735 deaths worldwide.
  • More than 2,800 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 58 deaths have been reported in the United States till now.
  • Currently, no approved vaccines exist to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2.

WHO experts on vaccine:

Experts at the World Health Organization say they do not expect any fully tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of next year.


  • “Phase 1” test that will examine whether experimental shot is safe in humans aims to recruit 108 healthy people.
  • The volunteers will take part in the study to take place between March 16 and December 31.
  • The trial will be conducted by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Biologics.

U.S clinical trials:

US has begun the phase one clinical trial of an investigational vaccine designed to protect against the coronavirus disease which has claimed the lives of over 7,000 people globally.

Investigational vaccine:

  • It was developed using a genetic platform called mRNA (messenger RNA).
  • The investigational vaccine directs the body’s cells to express a virus protein that, it is hoped, will elicit a robust immune response.
  • The mRNA-1273 vaccine has shown promise in animal models, and this is the first trial to examine it in humans.


  • Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority.
  • This work is critical to national efforts to respond to the threat of this emerging virus. We are prepared to conduct this important trial because of our experience as an NIH clinical trials center since 2007.

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