kochi l Sunday l november 22, 2020 l `8.00 l PAGES 24 l late city edition tibet’s leader-in-exile visits White House, A first in 60 yrs The head of Tibetan government-in-exile Dr Lobsang Sangay visited the White House on Saturday and met US officials Dr Lobsang Sangay Robert Destro meets u.s. coordinator for Tibetan issues u.s. acknowledgment of govt-in-exile? Sangay, who is the President of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), was invited to the White House to meet the newly-appointed US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Robert Destro. The move is likely to enrage China, which has already criticised Destro’s appointment, saying it amounted to political manipulation aimed at destabilising Tibet ■ ■ For the last 60 years, the head of CTA was not allowed to visit the White House as the US did not recognise the Tibet’s govt-in-exile Appointment of a Special Coordinator for Tibet and the US engagement with Sangay are being read as Washington tacitly lending legitimacy to the government-in-exile Sangay Had visited the U.S. state department last month CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Govt wields bar bribery stick to beat Oppn Vigilance given nod to launch investigation against Chennithala, other Cong leaders on Biju Ramesh’s allegations E x p r e s s N e w s S e r v i c e @T’Puram Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and UDF convener M M Hassan sharing a light moment at the M I Shanavas memorial meeting in T’Puram on Saturday | Vincent Pulickal I had denied the allegations raised by Biju Ramesh six years ago. Let the vigilance probe happen as I am ready to face any investigation as my hands are clean Ramesh Chennithala Biju Ramesh’s allegation Last month, hotelier Biju Ramesh had alleged that the bar owners had altogether given Rs 20 crore to leaders and ministers of the previous UDF government, including then KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, former excise minister K Babu and former health minister V S Sivakumar, to reduce the bar licence fees THE state government has decided to give its vigilance bureau the approval to initiate a probe into the allegations levelled by hotelier Biju Ramesh against Congress leaders, including Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala, that bar owners had paid them bribe during the previous UDF government’s tenure. While it is understood that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has given his approval, the investigation can begin only after getting necessary approvals from the Governor and the Speaker. Sources said the gover nment has already approached them. The agency is likely to start the investigation next week after it receives a final approval, said sources. Along with Chennithala, former Congress ministers V S Sivakumar and K Babu could face the probe. Reacting to the development, the Congress leadership lashed out at the government, saying it was targeting them after being cornered in the face of investigation by multiple central agencies into gold smuggling and other corruption cases. “I had denied the allegations raised by Biju Ramesh six years ago. Let the vigilance probe happen as I am ready to face any investigation as my hands are clean. Mr Pinarayi, you can’t scare the Opposition by coming up with false cases,” said Chennithala. KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran demanded to know why the government is shying away from slapping a vigilance case against Kerala Congress(M) leader Jose K Mani over Biju Ramesh’s allegations. Last month, Biju Ramesh had alleged that the bar owners had altogether given `20 crore to leaders and ministers of the previous UDF government, including then KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, former excise minister K Babu and former health minister V S Sivakumar, to reduce the bar licence fees. Biju also alleged that he was offered `10 crore by Kerala Congress(M) leader Jose K Mani to settle the bar bribery case. Vigilance investig ators had submitted a report to the home department on Biju’s allegations after a complaint was lodged by CPM leader P K ● More on P4 Raju. Trump’s AIADMK & BJP will bid to hang on to power weakens In a major blow to US President Donald Trump’s efforts to hang on to the presidency, Michigan lawmakers from his own party said on Saturday they will not oppose the state certifying Joe Biden as the winner. Trump was expecting them to back his bid to overturn the election results in the state. Earlier in the day, Georgia had dealt another blow to Trump by certifying Biden as the state’s winner. fight polls together T Mu r u g a n a n d h a m @ Chennai THE alliance between BJP and AIADMK will continue for the upcoming Assembly elections, in which the battle will be between ‘dynasty’ and ‘development’. This was the message conveyed during Union Home Minister and BJP’s election strategist Amit Shah’s visit to the state, which was turned into a celebratory event by its ally the AIADMK. , Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami got a high-octane start to his party’s election campaign, with the Home Minister terming TN the best-gov- erned State in the country . Shah was accorded a grand welcome at the airport. Overwhelmed by the crowd that had gathered by the roadside on his way from the airport to hotel, Shah stepped out of his motorcade to interact with the public. Shortly afterwards, he declared open the Kannankottai-Thervoy Kandigai reservoir and laid the foundation for infrastructure projects worth `67,378 crore at an event held in Kalaivanar Arangam. Speaking here, Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said their party’s alliance with the BJP would Union Home Minister Amit Shah waves at people who gathered outside the Chennai International Airport to greet him on Saturday | DEBADATTA MALLICK continue for next elections. Amit Shah assured the Centre’s support for all the development schemes and welfare measures being implemented by the Palaniswami government. Shah also lauded the Tamil Nadu government’s Covid containment strategies and measures, which have brought down the case numbers by a substan- tial measure in the recent past. The State’s recovery rate at 97 per cent, Shah pointed out, was highest in the country The Un. ion Minister also did not miss the opportunity to train his guns on the DMK, which will be contesting for power in TN after 10 years. “The DMK would face rout in the elections, as only ‘democratic forces’ will prevail,” Shah said. voice clip row CB to initiate preliminary investigation Express News Service @T’Puram A splashy ride A child having a whale of a time at Cherai Beach in Kochi. Shaking off the Covid blues, the tourism sector is slowly getting back on track with many domestic travellers, even from other states, arriving in Kerala | Arun Angela Guv gives nod to Police Act amendment ordinance E x p r e s s N e w s S e r v i c e @ T’Puram express read Marad riot: ‘Lost’ phone key angle, says HC Kochi: The High Court has recommended that the police should get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding a mobile phone in the Marad riot case, which reportedly went missing. P5 Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Saturday signed the Kerala Police Act 2011 Amendment Ordinance which aims to curb the rising number of social media crimes, especially against women. But the proposed law raises serious apprehensions on freedom of speech as it speaks about any form of media rather than social media alone. The official notification on the newly included Section 118-A is yet to be out. But according to the government, it broadly reads, “whoever produces, publishes or disseminates content with an intention to intimidate, insult or defame a person, through any means of communication, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with a fine of up to `10,000 or with both”. Highly-placed sources said the law says about any means of communication and not just “social media” to ensure legal standing. The Cabinet meeting on October 21 had decided to recommend to the governor on ordinance promulgation. In a press note issued afterwards, the gover nment stated some recent crimes using cyber avenues had created a big concern among ● More on P4 women. STATE Police Chief Loknath Behera has ordered a Crime Branch (CB) investigation into the incident in which an alleged audio clip of Swapna Suresh, key accused in the gold smuggling case, was leaked to the media. The move comes close on the heels of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sending a request letter to the Prisons Department seeking an i nve s t i g at i o n i n t o t h e episode. In the voice clip, Swapna is heard saying that ED officials had offered to make her an approver in the case if she deposed against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Behera said in a statement on Saturday that a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which has been constituted based on the recommendation of DGP (Prisons) Rishi Raj Singh, will conduct a preliminary investigation on the matter. Singh had handed over ED’s letter to Behera earlier in the day, stating that he could respond to the central agency only after a proper investigation was ● More on P5 conducted. WITH THIS ISSUE Kid You Not PLUS 12 PAGES wait and watch Moderna, Pfizer vaccines could fizzle out for India Su m i Su k a n ya Du t ta @ New Delhi News of the successful phase 3 clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccines being developed by US biotech firms Moderna and Pfizer has cheered the world, but it may be a bit early for India to celebrate. Pfizer along with its German partner BioNTech has already applied for emergency use authorisation of its vaccine from the US drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, and if approved, it could be available for regulated use as early as next month. But, India may not stand to benefit much, at least in the near future, either from Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the one being developed by Moderna. This is because of three reasons. Firstly, a bulk of all the vaccines being developed, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna included, has been prebooked by rich countries, leaving low-income countries in the cold. Secondly, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines need to be stored at extremely cold conditions, something the cold chains in India may not have the capacity to do. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine candidate needs to be stored at -70 degree Celsius, which is impractical in India, while the one by Moderna requires to be kept at -20 degree Celsius. In India, most vaccines under the National Immunisation Programme, except the polio and rotavirus vaccines, need to be stored at 2-8 de- how many, how much Vaccine Annual Premaker capacity booked Price Moderna 500m-1b 78% $32-37 doses Pfizer 500m 70% $20 -BioNTech -800m AstraZeneca- 1.2b 80% $3-5 Oxford-SII Sputnik V 1.2b NA NA Johnson 1b NA $10 &Johnson Vaccine status in India Homegrown vaccine under phase 2/3 trial in India, one each by Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila Developed outside but under phase 3 trial in India, one each by Oxford University-AstraZeneca (Indian partner SII) and Russia’s Gamaleya Institute (Indian partner Dr Reddy’s) Biological E is latest vaccine maker to receive permission to test indigenous vaccine in humans 30 Total Covid-19 vaccines under preclinical/clinical trials in India 500 million Total doses expected by June-July, 2021 Vaccines likely to be available by JuneJuly next year Serum Institute of India 35 million doses per month Cost $3 per dose Bharat Biotech 300 million annual (as of now, to be scaled to 500 million) Cost undisclosed gree Celsius. The polio vaccine needs to be stored at -20 but once opened it can be simply refrigerated and used within four weeks. Storage of the Moderna vaccine, at -20, is difficult but not impossible. But the company has no immediate plans for distribution in India. Lastly Pfizer-BioNTech and , Moderna vaccines are expensive. While the final price is yet to be fixed, they could cost up to $20-37 per dose, which may be unaffordable for national vaccination programme. continued on: p7
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