With about 240 million people, India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh—with more people than all of Brazil—has seen a marked decrease in COVID-19 cases since instituting a population-wide ivermectin program. In just several days, the new cases have dropped from 33,531 on April 26, the apex of new daily cases recorded to 18,023 on May 12 based on data from Johns Hopkins University. Officials here know that transcending this crisis will involve therapeutics (population-wide ivermectin, etc.), behavioral and social measures (e.g. isolation for the sick when possible, masks, hand washing, plus more oxygen and supplies etc.), and targeted vaccination. Now for the latter situation, the state government prepares a large procurement of vaccines in an effort, again in combination with the other efforts, to not only control the spread of the virus but reduce the severity for those that eventually become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19. Time is of the essence as the country is facing an unprecedented crisis with over 4,000 deaths for a second straight day with a health system on the complete edge. Interestingly, while the death rate in Uttar Pradesh appears to have peaked at 372 on May 7 (and now total daily deaths are on the decline), this is a small fraction of the total deaths in the nation despite its population size—the nation’s most populous. With local vaccine shortages reported, the state is prepared to spend up to $1 billion on vaccines and as part of that process, state officials now meet with representatives from various companies this week, including those from Pfizer for its mRNA-based vaccine and the local distributor of Sputnik V. Apparently, the state’s officials already had pre-bid discussions with local vaccine producers, including Serum Institute of India (licensee of AstraZeneca/Offord as well as Novavax vaccines), Bharat Biotech, and Cadila Healthcare as part of another tender to buy 40 million doses in the next few months. It appears that none of the Chinese vaccine firms were invited to the bid.
No Money Problem
So, apparently, the Indian government is positioning a large tender, meaning some kind of competitive bid process rather than, say, selecting what they consider to be the top three candidates and work to negotiate a deal directly. With a population larger than that of Brazil at about 240 million, a senior state official Navneet Sehgal shared with Reuters that “Money is not an issue, we have a huge budget,” noting, “We will spend up to 100 billion rupees ($1.36 billion)” on the vaccines as reported in Healthworld.
Dramatic Turnaround with Ivermectin Not Reported
While the Indian press is announcing big vaccine procurements, what’s not being reported is a dramatic turnaround in the COVID-19 crisis here in the north of India.
The state issued an aggressive population-wide ivermectin home health program that appears to be working well. As reported by TrialSite, Ivermectin was included in the national COVID-19 treatment guidelines by April 22, 2021, and shortly after TrialSite shared Uttar Pradesh had instituted the population-wide ivermectin-based program.
What’s the impact? The spike of new cases in a day at 33,531 occurred on April 26. Since then, there’s been a steady decline, and while TrialSite cannot prove that ivermectin is the direct cause of this decline, it’s certainly the case that the decline corresponds with the mass ivermectin program.
By May 9, the new cases were down to 23,175 in one day and just days later on May 12, the estimated count was 18, 023. Since the state instituted the Ivermectin program, a steep, precipitous drop in COVID-19 cases has been recorded according to data from the COVID-19 Data Repository by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
Moreover, the death tolls, which have been lower here many argue because Ivermectin was already available to the population via a public health scheme, is now on the wane. As of May 12, while Uttar Pradesh represents about 17% of India’s total population, its 277 deaths represented 6.9% of the total deaths in India at 4,033.
Of course, here, Ivermectin is part of a therapeutic regimen needed to help contain the contagion, and the combination of other behavioral measures (e.g. isolation, masks, handwashing, etc.) plus vaccination is necessary to help society beat COVID-19 once and for all.