NEW DELHI 03 JANUARY 2021 SUNDAY `9 PAGES 24 facebook/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard https://epaper.morningstandard.in Dark is Beautiful PLUS: 12 PAGES MAGAZINE In the Pickle of Health EXCLUSIVE VOICES TJS George Shankkar Aiyar Ravi Shankar Anirban Ganguly Forces of Nature Shinie Antony Anand Neelakantan Amar Bhushan A Rann to Remember Made for Manhattan Confronting the Silent Scourge SADHGURU SPEAKS Get Shorty A Different Kind of Superpower Expert panel holds unscheduled meeting to clear Biotech vaccine Experts question move as home-grown jab is still in phase 3 trials, efficacy yet to be proven Akhilesh Yadav refuses ‘BJP’s Covid vaccine’ S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi A government appointed panel of the apex drug regulator on Saturday recommended emergency use authorization for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, India’s first homegrown vaccine against Covid-19, a day after it approved a vaccine against coronavirus by AstraZenecaOxford University . The committee said the recommendation for the vaccine’s restricted use in emergency situations was in the “public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, especially in the context of infection by mutant strains.” Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the ICMR, has developed Covaxin from inactivated SARS CoV 2, isolated at the NIV Pune. And though the vac, cine has demonstrated good safety and immunogenicity in phase 1 and 2 clinical trials, it is still undergoing phase 3 trials and therefore its efficacy remains to be established. The Centre also issued a statement that the subject expert committee of the Central Drugs Standards Control Organization, following its meetings on Friday and Saturday, recommended the vaccines for consideration and final decision of the Drugs Controller General of India. “Grant of permission for restricted emergency use of vaccine (is being given), subject to multiple regulatory conditionalities, to Serum Institute of India, Pune,” said the Health ministry . The back-to-back permission granted to the vaccines could mean they will be rolled out simultaneously in about a week. N A M I TA B A J PA I @ Lucknow A vaccination dry run under way in Daryaganj, Delhi, on Saturday | SHEKHAR YADAV WHY IT GOT THE NOD Arguments made in the favour of Covaxin included its use of a familiar platform, capacity to make antibodies against multiple proteins, promise of 6-12 months protection and T-cell response implying immune memory. Sources said the unscheduled meeting of the SEC on Saturday to reconsider Bharat Biotech’s application was called under government pressure after the panel had refused permission a day earlier citing insufficient data. The arguments made in the favour of Covaxin included its use of a familiar platform, capacity to generate antibodies against multiple proteins, promise of six to 12 months protection and T-cell response implying immune memory . “The company also argued that antibodies against multiple proteins instead of spikes alone raise hope that it might have a better chance against the mutated variants,” a source in the committee said. A senior member of the national task force on Covid-19 expressed astonishment at the development. “There may be theoretical advantages such as potential benefits. But the rules of the game must be honoured under any circumstances,” he said, adding that the move may draw backlash internationally , especially from bodies like the World Health Organization. “There seems to be a political desire to release an Indian vaccine ahead of the visit of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and there was pressure from local groups,” confirmed a member of the National Expert Group on Vaccine AdminP8 istration on Covid-19. FORMER Uttar Pradesh chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday kicked up a row saying he will not take the Covid-19 vaccine as he didn't trust the BJP government. “I will not get vaccinated as I don’t trust the BJP government. When we (SP) will come back to power, we will ensure that everyone gets free vaccine against the deadly coronavirus,” Yadav said on a day when India carried out a dry run of the vaccine and hours after an expert panel cleared the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot for rollout later this month. The SP chief alleged that the BJP government got concerned about the coronavirus only when opposition parties raised the health emergency. “Money is being extorted in the name of the pandemic. This government is concerned about corona only when opposition parties do something. The same BJP government wanted to get rid of corona by clapping and banging of plates,” he said, adding that the government had also failed to ensure that people wear masks to curb the spread of the virus. Covid tally below 500 after seven months in Delhi E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @New Delhi FOR the first time in seven-anda-half months, the daily case load of Covid-19 recorded in the national capital was less than 500 on Saturday . According to the daily health bulletin, Delhi registered 494 cases while 67,364 samples were collected, taking the positivity rate down to 0.73 per cent. The last time the daily Covid tally was below 500 was on May 17, 2020. The number of active cases is also going down, with around 5,000 positives remaining. However, the death rate still remains high, standing at 3.28 per cent based on the past 10 days. “First time less than 500 cases in 7 months (since May 17). Positivity reduced to 0.73% from 15.26% on 7 November. Positivity less than 1% for the last 11 days. Active cases reduced to 5342 from 44456 on 13 November. Though the 3rd wave is going down, be careful and observe all precautions,” tweeted Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain. Though the number of dedicated Covid beds has been reduced, 10,500-11,000 beds are still vacant, said Jain, adding that only 2,000 beds are occupied at present. TESTING STATUS 39,591 RTPCR/CBNAAT/ TrueNat tests conducted DELHI COVID WATCH Rapid antigen test 88,07,759 *144 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travellers who came by Vande Bharat Mission and Bubble flights Total tests done so far 4,63,566 Tests per million Farmers up ante: Tractor rally to Delhi on January 26 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chandigarh A day after the farmers threatened to step up their agitation, the protesters on Saturday issued an ultimatum to the government and said they would take out a tractor rally to Delhi on January 26 if their demand for the repeal of the farm laws and legalising of MSP was not met. Announcing the decision of the seven-member coordination committee of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, Balbir Singh Rajewal and Darshan Pal said: “We have given a call for a tractor-trolley parade to Delhi on January 26. The parade with the national flag will be called the ‘farmers republic parade’ and will take place after the official parade.” “We intend to be peaceful. We told the Central Government long ago during our talks that it has only two options, either repeal the three central farm acts or use force to evict us.” Rajewal and Pal said the time had come for decisive action. They had chosen January 26 for the tractor rally for two reasons: Republic Day INTERVIEW STATUS OF CASES Today Cumulative RECOVERED 496 6,10,535 DEATH 14 10,571 ACTIVE CASES -5,342 TOTAL +VE CASES 494 6,26,448 PATIENT MANAGEMENT Total beds Occupied Vacant HOSPITAL 15,121 2,005 13,116 CARE CENTRE 7,922 65 7,713* HEALTH CENTRE 562 26 536 27,773 Members of the farmers’ unions present a united face at a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday | SHEKHAR YADAV 2,752 HOME ISOLATION 3,751 TOTAL NUMBER OF CONTAINMENT ZONES AS ON DATE 1,421 TOTAL NUMBER OF CALLS DISPATCHED TO AMBULANCES Source: Delhi health bulletin | January 2 SELF-SUFFICIENT JHARKHAND A self-sustaining state means that it does not have to look towards central funds, says Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren after completing year in office PAGE 7 represented the supremacy of the people while the day will also mark two months of their protest at Delhi’s borders. The tractor rally on January 6 will go ahead if there is no resolution during the talks on Monday. Lohri/Makar Sankranti on January 13 will be observed as Kisan Sankalp Diwas by burning the copies of the three laws. January 18 will be celebrated as Mahila Kisan Diwas to underline the role of women farmers and January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, will be observed as Azad Hind Kisan Diwas. Protests will be held outside all the Raj Bhavans. The farm leaders said although the government had agreed to “minor demands” on air pollution and the Electricity Amendment Bill, it was yet to give them legal shape. “On the demand to repeal the three farm laws, the government asked us to come up with alternative proposals. We responded by saying there was no alternative. The government refused to agree in principle to legal right to purchase at MSP Rajewal said. ,” CONTINUED ON P7 PROTEST PLAN January 6 Tractor rally on KundliManesar-Palwal Expressway if no resolution during Monday talks January 13 Lohri/makar sankranti to be observed as Kisan Sankalp Diwas by burning copies of far laws January 18 To be celebrated as Mahila Kisan Diwas to underline the role of women farmers January 23 Protests on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose birth anniversary outside Raj Bhavans in state capitals Protesting farmer ends life at UP Gate LUCKNOW: A 75-year-old farmer, Kashmir Singh, committed suicide at UP Gate by hanging himself from the ceiling of a mobile toilet on Saturday morning. Police said Singh, who was from Rampur district in western UP, left behind a suicide note saying his last rites should be performed by his grandson at the protest site itself. “However, it is likely that his body will be sent to his native place and handed over to his family,” said BKU national media co-ordinator Shamsher Rana. He claimed that the deceased farmer, in his suicide note, blamed the government for his action saying it was not accepting the demands of the farmers. EXPRESS READ Congress veteran Buta Singh dies NEW DELHI: Former Union home minister Buta Singh, who served under four prime ministers, died at the AIIMS on Saturday morning. He was 86. The senior Congress leader was in a coma since October last year, when he was admitted to the AIIMS after he suffered a brain hemorrhage. Singh was an eight-time former MP and also served as the governor of Bihar. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh condoled his demise. SAVIOUR RESTORING INNOCENCE In Rajasthan’s Jodhpur, Kriti Bharti and her NGO now go all-out to help girls who are forced into marriage | P4 TESTING TIMES Dine-in meal outside protocol menu V E N K ATA K R I S H N A B @ Chennai IT’S an apt example of overenthusiastic fans landing their favourite stars into trouble. It all started as a chest-thumping, over-zealous tweet of five India cricketers dining in a restaurant in front of a fan. Unfortunately it snow-balled , into a controversy. Breach of Covid-19 protocol is a serious offence and Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini are learning it the hard way after the Australian media highlighted the dine-in. Cricket Australia issued a statement on Saturday evening saying the five have been isolated from the squad and an investigation was on to see if there was any possible breach Under scanner Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini have been placed in isolation of bio-secure protocols. The urgency shown by the CA and the BCCI is understandable as the tour moves to Sydney on Monday a city which is , currently witnessing a spike in new cases. The five players had trained with the rest of the squad on Saturday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It needs to be seen if other members of the squad, too, will be monitored. As things stand, the five are expected to travel to Sydney . “The BCCI and CA are investigating the matter and seeking to determine whether the outing constitutes a breach of biosecurity protocols. In the interim, on the advice of the Australian and Indian medical teams, the aforementioned players have been placed in isolation as a precaution. This will include separating the group of players from the broader Indian and Australian squads when travelling and at the training venue,” the CA said in the statement. RELATED REPORTS ON PAGE 11 Sourav suffers heart attack, stent inserted E X P R ESS N E WS S E RV I C E @ Kolkata CRICKET and political fraternity as well as his legion of fans spent some anxious moments on Saturday as BCCI president and former Team India skipper Sourav Ganguly suffered a ‘mild heart attack’ when he was in gym. He had to be admitted to a private hospital, where doctors found multiple blockades in his coronary arteries. Ganguly underwent angioplasty and a stent was placed in one of the narrowed arteries. Doctors treating him at the Woodlands Hospital said his condition was stable. He was conscious and his condition was being monitored. “Ganguly is suffering from triple vessel disease — three blockages in coronary arteries. We placed a stent in one of the arteries. On Monday we will discuss what is , to be done to deal with the two more arteries with blockades,” said Dr Saroj Mondal, head of the five-member team formed for Ganguly’s treatment. Doctors of the healthcare facility said the cricketer arrived there within the golden hours. He complained of chest pain while doing treadmill. His wife Dona contacted BCCI president’s doctor who advised immediate hospitalisation. “After he came here, we conducted basic tests like ECG and the results showed abnormalities. An angiography revealed three blockades in Ganguly’s coronary arteries,” said Mondal. Snehasish Ganguly said his brother was stable in the afternoon. As the news about Ganguly’s hospitalisation came out, political personalities including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expressed their concern and wished him speedy recovery. Both the CM and the governor a l s o v i s i t e d h i m at t h e hospital. “He is fine now... He enquired about my health, too. I thank the hospital authority and the doctors,” Banerjee told reporters outside the hospital. Dhankhar, too, visited the hospital and met Ganguly. “Called on @SGanguly99 at Woodlands Hospital and saw the usual captivating cheerful smile on his face. Interacted with his wife, daughter and brothers,” he tweeted. BJP functionaries contacted Ganguly’s family members and expressed their concern while also visited him at the hospital. The cricket fraternity, led by skipper Virat Kohli, too wished a speedy recovery .
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