A dredger bearing the brunt of high waves due to cyclone Tauktae at Surathkal Beach near Mangaluru on Sunday | PTI HYDERABAD MONDAY MAY 17, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 28 LATE CITY EDITION TAUKTAE POUNDS WEST COAST, GUJARAT LANDFALL ON MAY 18 It has intensiﬁed into a very severe cyclonic storm, with wind speed reaching 175 kmph. Orange alert in three Kerala dists KERALA DAMS OPENED, EVACUATIONS IN K’TAKA GUJARAT COAST BRACES FOR IMPACT Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday virtually met chief ministers of states on the west coast to discuss preparedness. Faced with copious inflow, Kerala opened floodgates of dams, while downpour in Karnataka, where four deaths were reported in rain-related incidents, prompted large scale evacuations. Response teams on the Maharashtra coast on high alert ■ ■ ■ Squally winds and heavy rains reported in Goa. Mumbai officials shifted Covid patients, fearing power failure due to the cyclone Tauktae to make landfall between Porbandar and Mahuva in Bhavnagar district; fishers, coastal residents being evacuated Huge tidal waves, strong winds, heavy downpour predicted | P5 High alert OFFICIALS WORKING TO ENSURE UNINTERRUPTED COVID CARE 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 Slow off the starting blocks for Covaxin mass production Except Delhi, lockdown Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were the most common medical conditions linked with all Covid-19 deaths reported in 2020 in Canada. The brain disorders were the most common comorbidity among women (41%), while among men, it was the second most common comorbidity at 31%, CTVnews.ca said, citing a new report from Statistics Canada. 16 NATIONWIDE MAY 15 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 16 3,26,098 3,11,170 3,53,299 3,62,437 3,890 4,077 JAB-O-METER May 15 TAKE 17,14,247 doses YOUR May 16 SHOT 17,33,232 doses TOTAL DOSES: 18,22,20,164 Chief of Centre’s Covid advisory group resigns Shahid Jameel was critical of govt’s Covid response during the ongoing second wave S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi ter concerns over B117 variant, first detected in the UK, having SENIOR virologist Shahid reached India. Jameel on Sunday resigned as Under the consortium, 10 nathe chair of the scientific advi- tional laboratories equipped to sory group of Indian SARS- study virus variants were CoV-2 Genomics Consortium brought under the aegis of the (INSACOG), a forum estab- National Centre for Disease lished by the Centre in Decem- Control. The regional genome ber last. It was set up for lab sequencing labs, which are part and epidemiological surveil- of the project, include CSIR Inlance of strains of the Covid-19 stitute of Genomics and Intevirus circulating in India. grative Biology in Delhi, CSIR It is not clear why Centre for Cellular Jameel, who is the and Molecular Bioldirector of the Triveogy in Hyderabad, di School of BioDBT National Instisciences at Ashoka tute of Biomedical University, stepped Genomics near Kolkdown as the chief adata, DBT- Institute of visor to the forum, Life Sciences in Bhubut sources pointed b a n e s w a r, D B T out that he had been NCBS in Bengaluru, ‘Stubborn critical of the CovDBT-Centre for DNA response’ id-19 policies of the Fingerprinting and government. Jameel, Jameel was critical D i a g n o s t i c s i n formerly the CEO of of the government’s Hyderabad. the Wellcome Trust Covid policies. Most It also includes recently, he had DBT India Alliance NIV and DBT Nawritten a piece in and known for his retional Centre for Cell search on hepatitis E the New York Times, Science in Pune, Navirus, confirmed to saying scientists in tional Centre for DisIndia were facing this newspaper his ease Control in Delhi decision, but refused “stubborn response and the National Into evidence-based to comment further. stitute of Mental policy making”. No response was reHealth and Neuroceived to a request Sciences in Bengalufor comment from health secre- ru. The forum has been marred tary Rajesh Bhushan either. by severe fund crunch since the INSACOG was set up by the beginning as a result of which Centre less than five months the work it was tasked to do has ago, mainly to detect genomic progressed on a much lesser variants of the SARS CoV 2 af- speed than projected. WITH THIS ISSUE THE ESSENTIAL CAMPUS DIGEST YOUR LIFE COACH 28 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF edex (TABLOID) newindianexpress com l WHy iS tHiS iMportant? senior Bharat Biotech official. duction and hitting the market UK confident vaccines can How viruses are contained in labs Sudhanshu Vrati, a virolowill take more than 6 months.” shield against gist, told TNIE, “The governEminent virologist Dr Jacob India variant ment laboratories we have at John concurred. He said even 4 present across India is only if the Centre ropes in additionmeant for research and are not al labs to produce vaccines, it 3 designed for production. Even may take from three to six 2 if a pharma company starts months for the vaccine to be 1 work to set up a BSL-3 lab, it produced.“By that time, the will take at least three to six pandemic itself would be over. months to do so, after which it We must have done this by Ocwill require certification.” tober 2020, so that there was “Even if we assume that gov- out home-grown Unusual heart ON sheds light on best aspirin dose enough vaccine by January ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW study cuba rolls ernment does the certification stillBIOSAFETY STANDARDS | P12 this year,” Dr John said. vaccines in trial phase CONTINUED ON: P8 in a week’s time, vaccine proFile Regular checks is carried out in BSL 3 and 4 labs to ensure the facilties are functioning properly. No objectthat is brought into the lab from the outside world returns to it again, particularly clothes and jewellery The inactivated version of the coronavirus that is used in the Covaxin shots needs to be processed in laboratories that have a Biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) classifcation, said Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul, recently. Dr Paul, who heads the national task force on Covid, also said "none of the other companies in India" have BSL 3 standards right now, making the technology transfer of Covaxin (to increase vaccine production) difficult. We look at what these biosafety levels are inFraStructure requireMentS BioSaFety riSk Scale The pyramid shows the risk group associated with the biosafety level of a lab Medicine Isolation of laboratory Room sealable for decontamination ventilation: Inward airflow Controlled ventilating system HEPA filtered air exhaust Double door entry Airlock Airlock with shower Anteroom Anteroom with shower Effluent treatment autoclave (heated container): On site In laboratory room Double-ended Biological safety cabinets Personnel safety monitoring capability*** A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease and can be readily transmitted from one individual to another, directly or indirectly. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available l BS hi Gh Ri SK Mi CR oB eS LONDON: Britain is confident that existing vaccines will provide protection from a more transmissible Indian coronavirus variant now spreading across the country, Heath Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday . Hancock told Sky News the government had a “high degree of confidence” that vaccines would stand up to the B1.617.2 variant, following new early data from Oxford University . Britain, one of the countries the worst hit by in the world with over 1.2 lakh deaths, has also seen a rapid deployment of vaccines with nearly 20 million people fully vaccinated. According to government data the case numbers of the Indian variant have risen from 520 to 1,313 this week. Hancock warned because of the high transmission of the Indian variant it could “spread like wildfire amongst the unvaccinated groups” and because of this the government “need to get as many people vaccinated as possible”. A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease but does not ordinarily spread from one infected individual to another. Effective treatment is available l BS A pathogen that can cause human or animal disease but is unlikely to be a serious hazard. Though lab exposures can cause serious infection, the risk of spread is limited. Effective treatment is available l oB eS BS A microorganism that is unlikely to cause human or animal disease l BS BioSaFety leVel 1 No No 2 No No 3 Yes Yes 4 Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No Desirable Desirable No No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes/No Yes No No Yes Yes/No** Yes/No** Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No No Desirable No No Desirable No Yes Desirable Desirable Yes Desirable Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes **Depending on agents ***Glass windows, closed circuit television, two-way communication BSL=BioSafety LeVeL Risk gRoup Source: Text largely based on guidelines from India’s National Centre for Disease Control and the WHO’s Laboratory Biosafety Manual, third edition Biosafety LeveL (BsL) LaBoRatoRy type LaBoRatoRy pRactices 1 BSL 1 Basic teaching, research Good microbiological techniques (GMT) None, open bench work safety equipment 2 BSL 2 Primary health services, diagnostic services, research GMT, protective clothing and biohazard sign Open bench plus Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) for potential aerosols 3 BSL 3 Special diagnostic services, research Level 2 plus special clothing, controlled access, directional airflow BSC and/or primary devices for all activities 4 BSL 4 Dangerous pathogen units Level 3 plus airlock entry, shower exit, special waste disposal Class III BSC, or positive pressure suits in conjunction with Class II BSCs, double ended autoclave (through the wall), filtered air reSearcH World is closely watching the only Latin American nation to develop own Covid vaccines, which could do much to ease global shortages calling its own shots WASHINGTON: An unusual study that had thousands of heart disease patients enroll themselves and track their health online as they took lowor regular-strength aspirin concludes that both doses seem equally safe and effective for preventing additional heart problems and strokes. But there’s a big caveat: People had such a strong preference for the lower dose that it’s unclear if the results can es- tablish that the treatments are truly equivalent, some independent experts said. Half who were told to take the higher dose took the lower one instead or quit using aspirin altogether. “Patients basically decided for themselves” what they wanted to take because they bought the aspirin on their own, said Dr. Salim Virani, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who had no role in the study . Still, the results show there’s little reason to take the higher dose, 325 mg, which many doctors assumed would work better than 81-mg Results were published on Saturday by the New England Journal of Medicine. Aspirin helps prevent blood clots, but it’s not recommended for healthy people who have not yet developed heart disease because it carries a risk of bleeding. Its benefits are clear, though, for folks who already have had a heart attack, bypass surgery or clogged arteries re- quiring a stent. But the best dose isn’t known, and the study aimed to compare them in a real-world setting. About 15,000 people received invitations to join through the mail, email or a phone call and enrolled on a website where they returned every three to six months for follow-up. A network of participating health centers supplied medical infor mation on participants from their electronic records and insurance claims. Brick kiln owner beats up two migrant workers for demanding pending wages If any of Cuba’s vaccines get the final green light, it will be the first Covid vaccine developed in Latin America 5 People wait to be vaccinated in a socially-distanced queue in Havana, Cuba | aP Medicine HAVANA: Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have begun receiving new, locally produced vaccines against COVID-19 in the past few days as the socialist government has ramped up an inoculation campaign — even before releasing formal Phase III data on the vaccines’ effectiveness and safety . The island’s health minister, José Angel Portal Miranda, announced on May 7 that officials are still processing information from the large Phase III trials of the two vaccine candidates (see right sidebar). But he said that beginning mass vaccines now “has more benefits than risks. ... The number of sick and deceased is going to decrease.” The vaccines are a point of pride for a small and relatively poor nation of 11 million people that has prioritised its medical sector and has long boasted of exporting its own pharmaceuticals across the globe. Officials say they pushed forward wide-scale inoculations due to early evidence that the vaccines are safe and work and because of a recent upsurge in coronavirus infections. Cuba has a long tradition of making its own vaccines, dating back to the 1980s. Change in plan Initially, the government had planned to roll out its vaccine program to the public in June, after authorization. “If it were not for this epidemical situation, (the authorities) would have waited longer,” said molecular biologist and researcher Amilcar Perez-Riverol of the Sao Paulo University re, ferring to the infection surge. Portal said between 1.7 million of the 2.1 million inhabitants of Havana, the epicentre of the outbreak, will be vaccinated between now and August. Of the island’s total population, 22.6% should have received both shots by June, 33.5% by July and 70% by Aug, he said. , “We have had very few adverse events. Some patients experience a little tiredness,” said Dr. Naicy Guzmán, director of Space weather mystery solved CoroNAVIruS VACCINES CuBA IS workINg oN reSearcH that there isn’t yet enough data to say when exactly booster shots will be needed, and officials will have to wait a few months to see whether protection against the coronavirus weakens in some groups. But he stressed that “the virus won’t leave us again” and so the vaccinations currently under way won’t be the last. He added: “In principle, we have to prepare for everyone possibly having to refresh their vaccine protection next year.” Nearly 30.4 million people in Germany or 36.5% of the popu, lation, had received at least one vaccine shot by Friday. More than 9 million, or 10.9% of the population, had been fully vaccinated. LONDON: Scientists have long questioned why the bursts of hot gas from the sun do not cool down as fast as expected, and have now used a supercomputer to find out. When the solar wind hits the Earth, it is almost 10 times hotter than expected, with a temperature of about 100,000 to 200,000 degrees Celsius. The outer atmosphere of the sun, where the solar wind originates, is typically a million degrees Celsius. Using these simulations, the team, led by University College London (UCL) researchers, deduced that the solar wind stays hot for longer because of smallscale magnetic reconnection that forms in the turbulence of the solar wind. This phenomenon occurs when two opposing magnetic field lines break and reconnect with each other, releasing huge amounts of energy This is the . same process that triggers large flares erupting from the sun’s outer atmosphere. “Magnetic reconnection occurs almost spontaneously and all the time in the turbulent solar wind,” said lead author Jeffersson Agudelo of UCL. Gavin Smith, a viral evolutionary biologist at Duke–NUS Medical School in Singapore, told the outlet: Sequencing has always been important, but it is critical now, because we are getting to a stage where more and more new variants are cropping up.” “We need sequence data to see what is going on.” Bangladesh’s coronavirus surge has been linked to broad detection of the B.1.351 variant, which was first found in South Africa and has been known to reduce the effective- ness of the Covishield vaccine. This is particularly worrying for Bangladesh because most of its vaccine stock is Covishield. Nature reported that researchers in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have not yet found the Indian variant, B.1.617, in their countries, though the strain may be circulating undetected due to a limited infrastructure for genome sequencing. But Nepal has reported at least 11 cases of B.1.617 variant, suggesting that it is in circulation. Genome sequencing is not easy and takes time to process. Malavige’s lab uses a shortcut by employing RT-PCR tests that “detect three widely circulating variants of concern: B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P But kits .1. that detect B.1.617 have only just been developed and they cannot identify newly emerging variants,” Nature said. “We are at a critical point where we need to keep sequencing to identify anything as soon as possible,” Malavige was quoted as saying. 2 candidates — Abdala & Soberana 2 — have either completed Phase 3 trials or are soon to complete them 4 lakh people covered by the Phase 3 trials — an unusually large number of Covid-19, the produce could not be sold off, due to which New booster shots needed in 2022: German expert had not received their TWO migrant workers from they Chhattisgarh working in a payments. b r i c k k i l n a t Ju k a l o f As a result, the workers had Shamshabad mandal in Ranstayed put and were residing at gareddy district were beaten the work site. On May 13, some India’s neighbours scramble to sequence genomes amid sharp increases in Covid cases and Naik conblack and blue by their emof the workers ployer after they demanded sumed alcohol at the site, after him to clear their dues. The powhich an argument broke out lice have registered a case between them. The workers deagainst the owner, Redya Naik, Injury marks visible on the ear and back manded that Naik clear their and detained him for question- of the two workers who were beaten up dues so that they could leave ing. The incident occurred on the kiln immediately. A total May 13. Around 26 migrants from of `5.80 lakh was due to all the Shamshabad Inspector Y Chhattisgarh had started 26 workers. Prakash Reddy said Naik had working at the kiln at Jukal In a fit of rage, Naik assaultbeen booked under Section 324 during mid 2020. Recently they ed two workers and beat them, , of the IPC. Further investiga- were about to leave for home. causing them injuries on their tion is ongoing, he said. But owing to the second wave ears, limbs and back. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Hyderabad 3 doses while most other vaccines have relied upon a two-dose regime, Abdala requires three doses to be applied at 14-day intervals, news reports indicated a clinic in Havana’s Habana del Este neighborhood. “All this is moving for me,” she said. The clinic uses the Abdala vaccine, Guzmán said. “My people, my brothers, my community will be vaccinated against this disease that has really shaken us. It has been a long and intense fight.” Volcano touriStS People venture dangerously close to a lava eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland | aP Medicine THE head of Germany’s independent vaccine advisory panel says it’s likely that everyone will have to get vaccinated a g ain next year a g ainst Covid-19. Thomas Mertens told the Funke newspaper group in comments published Sunday Hunting vaRiants Science Researchers in South Asia are racing to scale-up their highly limited genome sequencing abilities to find out whether India’s coronavirus wave is spilling over into their countries. The news section of the prestigious Nature journal reported the researchers are also working to identify which variants are in circulation. Neelika Malavige, who runs Sri Lanka’s only lab that sequences coronavirus genomes, found in the middle of April that 66 out of 78 Covid-19 swab samples sequenced by her team had the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant — the strain first detected in UK and classified as a variant of concern by the WHO. Malavige warns that the “situation in Sri Lanka is looking very grim”, with hospitals filling up fast, Nature reported. “It’s important to ramp up our sequencing to make sure we detect these variants in the community as soon as possible,” Malavige was quoted as saying. She is doubling the av- erage number of samples sequenced every month from May to nearly 200. In Bangladesh, too, scientists are worried about variants. “We all have the question of why is it happening? Why is this wave now? And why is it so bad?” asks Senjuti Saha, a molecular geneticist in Dhaka. Labs in the country are increasingly getting involved in sequencing genomes, though Bangladesh’s coronavirus cases have fallen from their midApril peak of 7,000 a day, Nature reported. NO INJURIES ON RAJU’S BODY, SAYS MEDICAL BOARD E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Vijayawada THE Medical Board constituted by the Andhra Pradesh High Court to examine the injuries on the body of rebel YSRC MP K Raghu Rama Krishnam Raju of Narasapuram, has concluded that there were no new injuries on his body . The report of the board stated that the MP is in good health. Even before the board submitted its report to the court, the MP was shifted to prison in Guntur. The HC directed the CID to shift Raju to Ramesh Hospital in Guntur. The HC asked the board headed by the Superintendent of Guntur Government General Hospital, to check the veracity of the MP’s allegation that he was beaten during the custody of CID. Raju was arrested on Friday for his alleged hate speeches against certain communities and spreading disaffection against the government. The board’s report was submitted to the HC by the district court. When the matter came up for hearing, the division bench of Justice C Praveen Kumar and Justice K Lalitha read out the report, which stated that there were no injuries on the body of the MP and his health condition is good. Raju’s counsel B Adinarayana said the CID did not implement the court order to get the MP examined at Ramesh Hospital. CONTINUED ON P5 BUCKING THE TREND 3 Jagtial villages free of cases in 2nd wave N A V E E N K U M A R TA L L A M @ Jagtial AT a time when Jagtial continues to record more than 100 cases every day , strict adherence to Covid-19 norms has helped three villages in the district remain free of the scourge ever s i n c e t h e s e c o n d w av e h i t Telangana. While several parts of the district have turned into Covid-19 hotspots, Dammayyapet, Turka Kashinagar and Ramsagar — three tiny villages in Kodimial mandal — have become role models, showing how teamwork can help keep Covid at bay . According to sources, sarpanches of the three villages took an active role in promoting awareness among the people on the need to follow the for any laboratory that is carrying research on pathogens, containment is top priority. Scientists are wrapped up in protective equipment and use battery-powered, air-purifying respirators in their suits. they also have several layers of materials between them and the virus while working HealtH Mi CR INDIA got off the blocks slowly to make Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin an open source vaccine within the country for its mass production, as any company that participates in it would need at least six months for the assembly line to start rolling. For, jabs such as Covaxin need highly sophisticated Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) labs, which is only available with l Ri SK @ New Delhi Bharat Biotech at the moment. BSL-3 labs work with agents that could cause serious or potentially lethal disease through inhalation to the personnel, and may contaminate the environment, hence the high safety parameters. While India has just over a dozen such labs at present, most of them are with academic institutions for testing and research. Upgrading existing BSL-3 labs to produce Covaxin is a long term process, says a 17 05 2021 Lo w EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Monday vellore Dammayyapet, one of the villages with no Covid cases during the second wave Covid-19 protocols if they wanted to stay alive. The sarpanches ensured that there would be no congregations or meetings. Maintaining social distance, over a period of time, came as a second nature for the people. “Our village Dammayyapet, which has Thirumalapur as its hamlet, has a total population of 1,070. There has not been a single Covid-19 positive case even during the first wave,” sarpanch Tuniki Narsaiah said with pride. Though Ramsagar, with a population of 662, recorded one case of Covid-19 during the first wave, it has not reported a single case during the ongoing second wave. Similarly, though Turka Kashinagar, with a population of 766, witnessed five cases during the first wave last year, joint efforts by the public representatives, officials and citizens helped the village steer completely clear of the virus during the CONTINUED ON P4 second wave. % of cases sequenced & shared through GISAID, a database of genomes India 0.05% Bangladesh 0.19% Sri Lanka Nepal 0.27% 0.005% Even as India reels under a massive surge of cases, its neighbours are experiencing their largest outbreaks yet didn’t give quick results P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi AN analysis of the partial or full lockdowns imposed to combat the Covid second wave by various states since last month shows that apart from Delhi, most states have not seen a progressive reduction of fresh cases in the initial weeks despite the curbs. The graph began tapering only after May 9. For instance, while Maharashtra had around 60,000 daily new cases from April 15 to 26, which dropped to 48,700 on April 27, the count subsequently climbed to the 55,000-60,000 range. It’s only after May 9 that there has been a progressive reduction of cases. Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said the lockdown helped bring down positive cases from the peak of 69,000 per day to below 40,000. “People should follow the lockdown restrictions strictly because it helps break the virus chain and reduce the burden on hospitals. However, in a rural area, positive cases are still rising. Selfdiscipline is very important to defeat the virus,” he said. Tope added that the state needed more restrictions to contain the virus. He was hopeful that by the end of May the , situation in Maharashtra will be much better. The positivity rate in the state also witnessed a decline from around 26% on April 15 to 16% on May 14. Dr D C S Reddy former head , of the department at the Institute of Medical Sciences at Banaras Hindu University, said to accurately analyse the data, a seven-day moving average is a better parameter as the number of cases tested and confirmed on a daily basis depends on various other factors and hence there are fluctuations in numbers. “In terms of lockdown, it was taken to ensure that transmission is slowed down both intra-state and inter-state. Also, to get a better picture of the decline, we need to wait a little longer. The rate of decline is slow in the initial phases but speeds up with time. So, we will get a clearer picture in the coming weeks,” he said. Delhi saw a progressive decline in the case count and the positivity rate. While the number of cases hovered in the 20,000-25,000 range till May 2, it fell to just over 8,500 on CONTINUED ON P7 May 14. TS FURTHER PUTS OFF VAX DRIVE FOR 45+ I P4
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