March core sector output slumps 6.5%

  • Output at India’s core sector contracted by 6.5% in March, Commerce Ministry data show, reflecting the early impact of the COVID­-19 pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.
  • Leading the contraction at the core industries were a 13% decline in steel output, and a 7% fall in electricity generation. The two sectors account for almost 40% of the index. Cement production crashed 25%, while natural gas production slid 15%, the data showed. Fertiliser production also fell 12%, while crude oil production slipped 5.5%.
  • Coal was the only core sector which saw some growth, with output up 4%. The largest component of the index — refinery production — also dipped by only 0.5%.


DCGI nod to Glenmark for trials of Favipiravir on COVID­19 patients

  • Glenmark Pharmaceuticals on Thursday said it had received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct clinical trials of Favipiravir antiviral tablets on COVID­19 patients.
  • A generic version of Avigan from Japanese firm Fujifilm Toyama Chemical Co, Favipiravir has demonstrated activity against influenza viruses. It has been approved in Japan for the treatment of novel influenza virus infections.
  • Glenmark said that having internally developed the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and the formulations for the product, it had filed for clinical trials with the DCGI. The regulator gave approval for conducting the trial on mild to moderate patients.


Activists seek testing of Ganga water for COVID-19 treatment

  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), an arm of the Jal Shakti Ministry that deals with the Ganga clean­up plan, has forwarded to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) a proposal to undertake clinical trials and examine if Ganga water can be used to treat COVID­-19 patients.
  • COVID­19 is caused by SARS­CoV­2 virus infection. “There’s no evidence that viruses can, even in principle, be used to destroy other viruses. Phage therapy has its uses in experimental medicine and has been used to treat infections from antibiotic­resistant bacteria,” Sunit Singh, virologist, Benares Hindu University, told The Hindu.


Approach ICMR, SC tells NGO

  • The Supreme Court on Thursday asked an NGO to approach the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) with its reservations about seriously ill COVID­-19 patients in intensive care units being subjected to “controversial, unproven, non­-specific and potentially toxic off­-label” use of anti-­malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine and broad­spectrum antibiotic Azithromycin.