Amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, as cases inch closer to the five lakh mark, Maharashtra has emerged as the state worst affected by the deadly virus. As per the Health Ministry on Thursday afternoon, Maharashtra has recorded more than 1,42,900 positive cases. Of these, over 62,300 remain active.
On Thursday, Mumbai became the first state to take up the ICMR on it's plan to issue 'immunity certificates' to people. An Economic Times report adds that this would come in handy as people in the state return to their workplaces after undergoing tests.
What is an immunity certificate?
As per the World Health Organisation, an immunity passport or certificate is documentation that verifies that an individual is 'risk-free'. This would enable them to travel to and from their workplace, assuming of course that they were protected against re-infection. However, this plan is still at an experimental stage.
As the WHO mentions, there is not evidence as of now that denotes that people who have recovered from the virus have antibodies that prevent a second infection. Indeed, there had been murmurs some time ago that people were being re-infected in South Korea. This however had turned out to be a false alarm.
How does one get an immunity certificate?
Reports suggest that the immunity can be given on the basis of an antibody test. This test is designed to detect signs of an immune response.
What does Maharashtra plan to do?
As per the Economic Times report, the state government has asked organisations -- both government and private to use antibody tests on their employees, in keeping with the ICMR guidelines.
As per a PTI report from Wednesday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will purchase one lakh antigen testing kits to ensure speedy results for suspected COVID-19 patients. The civic body has initiated an 'Universal Testing' mission, under which it will use ICMR-approved antigen testing kits that provide results within 15 to 30 minutes. Reportedly, the kits will be used at all civic, state-run hospitals and COVID-19 treatment facilities.
Municipal commissioner I S Chahal has also urged 35 major private hospitals in the city to procure government- approved antigen testing kits and instructed chief executive officers of medical labs about using them. According to the BMC, in a government resolution dated June 22, the state government has permitted the use of rapid tests.
In related news, on Thursday, NDTV reported that drugmaker Hetero had sent COVIFOR -- a generic version of the experimental COVID-19 drug Remdesivir -- to five states, including Maharashtra.
(With inputs from agencies)