kochi l monday l may 24, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 28 l late city EDITION B.1.617 variant: Experts urge govt to rethink vax policy The two major vaccines available in India may have less efficacy against the B.1.617 strain, say experts citing a recent UK study Pfizer JAB OFFERS BETTER PROTECTION: STUDY ‘Need fresh modelling, serosurveys’ According to a recent study by Public Health England, the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine offer just 60% efficacy, while the protection after a single dose is much lower. The jab, however, has 66% efficacy after two doses against the B.1.1.7 strain, first detected in the UK. The study showed the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective against B1617 and 93% against B.1.1.7 ■ ■ According to virologist Gagandeep Kang, fresh modelling and serosurveys are urgently needed to optimise strategy for India It is better to reduce infection risk in a large number of people by offering one dose, rather than protecting a smaller group with the two-dose regimen, said virologist Sudhanshu Vrati | P7 GOVT CLAIMS BOTH cOVISHIELD AND cOVAXIN PROTECT AGAINST MOST cOVID STRAINS 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 Vaccine a distant reality First session of 15th assembly from today in rural India, shows app E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @T’Puram Abysmally low rates of vaccination in rural districts across India P r anab M on d al , Ha r p r eet B aj w a , Su d h i r Su r ya w an s h i & Raje s h A s nan i @ Kolkata/Chandigarh/Mumbai/Jaipur skewed priority “Vaccine suna hai magar hum logo ko na mila. Kaise milega na jante hain (I have heard about the vaccine but not got it. I don’t know how to get it either),” said Raghunandan Paswan, 50, a daily wage labourer in Vaishali district of Bihar. Paswan’s lament sums up the progress of the vaccination in the rural areas. An analysis of data available on the CoWin app shows that vaccination in the rural belts of most states is lagging behind urban centres. Given that the Covid-19 pandemic is now raging in the villages, it has set off alarm bells in health circles. It’s a major concern, considering that medical facilities and awareness levels are below urban standards. Take the case of West Bengal, where Covid cases are out control following the recent elections. Till May 20, 30% of Kolkata and the adjoining urban pockets spread over four districts had been vaccinated. This is in sharp contrast to the 14 rural districts in the state, where seven districts have a vaccination percentage of less than 10. In north Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, only 5.8% of the population had been vaccinated. This is followed by Birbhum with only 8.74%. Among the better performing rural districts is South Dinajpur, with 15.3%. No other rural district crosses 12%. Even in these places, the gap is big between municipal centres and gram panchayats. Around 15,488 doses were administered in the Jhargram municipality area. In the rural Gopiballavpur block in the same district, with a population three times that of the pocket in Jhargram, the figure is 8,250 only . The rural-urban divide is stark in Continued on: P8 Punjab also. Bihar About 60% of urban Bihar vaccinated. Just 5% of rural population has got the shots. 76% of new cases and deaths reported from villages madhya pradesh Vax in urban districts like Indore (27%), Bhopal (24%), Gwalior (24%). Rural districts like Agar Malwa (11%), Umaria (10%), Harda (11%), Alirajpur (8%) Maharashtra Mumbai (43.11%), Pune (47.31%), Nagpur (48.55%) as against rural districts Gadchiroli (18.65%), Palghar (18.1%), Hingoli (17.17%) Punjab Bathinda (9.79%), Ferozpur (4.51%), Fatehgarh Sahib (9.63%), Muktsar Sahib (9.62%), Mansa (7.9%), Moga (9.56%), Sangrur (7.9%) west Bengal 30% of all doses administered in Kolkata and adjoining districts. In 14 rural districts, max vaccination in South Dinajpur (15.35%) Rajasthan Sawai Madhopur (19.9%), Dausa (16.36%), Pratapgarh (17.21%), Jalore (17.25%), Tonk (17.6%), Dungarpur (18%) Lockdown extended in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan Lockdown was extended on Sunday in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Puducherry till May-end or beyond. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the process of 'unlock' will start from May 31. Rajasthan extended the lockdown till June 8, while Haryana's lockdown will stay till May 31 Most states favour conducting Class 12 board examinations E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi A high-level meeting on Sunday discussed whether to conduct Class 12 board exams at designated centres for 19 major subjects or hold shorter exams at schools but no decision was taken due to lack of consensus. The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Union ministers Ramesh Pokhriyal, Prakash Javadekar, Smriti Irani and Sanjay Dhotre, besides education ministers and secretaries of several states. According to sources, the CBSE proposed that exams be held between July 15 and August 26 and the result declared in September. Most states left it for the Centre to take the call, but Maharashtra said the examinations should be cancelled altogether, while Delhi and Kerala suggested that all students must be vaccinated before the tests. “Following detailed discussion with states, it was decided that more deliberaWITH THIS ISSUE THE ESSENTIAL CAMPUS DIGEST Moderna snubs Punjab, sets trend for others Sum i Sukan ya Dutta @ New Delhi Refusal by Moderna, a US based Covid-19 vaccine maker, on Sunday to directly supply doses to the Punjab government came as a reminder that global bids by individual states to procure vaccines from the international market may not yield favourable results. Experts said the international tenders floated by several state governments like UP Ma, harashtra, Rajasthan and Kerala, apart from Punjab, pit them against one another, besides sending a wrong message that the Covid response in the country is uncoordinated. In a country already reeling under an acute shortage of vaccines, this development adds to the worries of the authorities as only around 14.4 crore people have received their first dose, while a meagre 4.14 crore have got the second one. The daily vaccination number, too, has come down to just 1-2 million a day after peaking to over , four million per day in early April. The Punjab gover nment, which had approached top vaccine makers, including Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, J&J and Sputnik V for direct supply, said Moderna got back claiming it would “only deal with Government of India”. CONTINUED ON: P8 NATIONWIDE MAY 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths An official tion will be carried out,” said an official. The states were asked to send their suggestions by Tuesday . M e a n wh i l e, s o u r c e s said neither the CBSE nor the government is in favour of cancelling the examinations. “The option of holding CBSE board exams in 19 major subjects found support from many states. For other subjects, a different way such as internal assessments could be chalked out,” an official said. A decision is likely by June 1. YOUR LIFE COACH 28 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF edex (TABLOID) budget on June 4: Finance Minister K N Balagopal will present the first budget of the new govt on June 4 speaker on Tuesday While the . LDF has announced the candidature of M B Rajesh as speaker, the UDF nominee will be announced on Monday . There will be a two-day break for assembly after the speaker’s election. The governor will address the new members on Friday. Debate on the motion of thanksgiving to governor’s address will be held from May 31 to June 2. The first budget of the new government will be presented by Finance Minister K N Balagopal on June 4. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already made it clear that only Black fungus: 4 more deaths in state E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @Kochi Triggering concern amid the second wave of Covid, Kerala reported four more deaths due to mucormycosis or black fungus infection on Sunday. The victims — two Ernakulam and two Pathanamthitta natives — were undergoing treatment for the disease at hospitals in Kochi. Earlier this week, two other black fungus deaths were confirmed in Kozhikode and Kott ay a m m e d i c a l c o l l e g e hospitals. So far, around 40 cases of mucormycosis have been recorded across the state. The cases are being reported at a time when the state is witnessing a spike in deaths due to Covid. On Sunday the state re, corded the highest single-day Covid deaths of 188. “The cases of black fungus are rising and the patients are being constantly monitored. Directives have been given to all the medical colleges to stock enough medicines and be prepared to deal with any emergency situation,” said a member with the state Covid-19 task force. statewide Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 22 MAY 23 28,514 45,400 176 25,820 37,316 188 The official, however, said as of now, there is no need to panic as it is not a communicable disease. “A medical team is appointed to closely monitor the situation.” Meanwhile, Health Minister Veena George said though several cases of black fungus are being reported in the state, there is no need for concern. “The death rate due to the black fungus disease is very low in the state. The health department is closely monitoring the situation. It is not the first time the disease is being reported in the state. The first case of black fungus infection in the state was reported in 2019,” she said. MAY 23 2,57,299 2,40,842 3,57,630 3,55,102 4,194 4,452 express read Satheesan reaches out to senior leaders T’Puram: A day after he was made the opposition leader, V D Satheesan has reached out to senior leaders to garner their support. Satheesan’s first meeting was with K C Venugopal, the AICC general secretary in-charge of the party, in Thiruvananthapuram. P4 Lathika Subhash all set to join NCP The option of holding CBSE board exams in 19 major subjects found support from many states. For other subjects, a different way such as internal assessments could be chalked out The first session of the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly will begin at 9am on Monday. Pro-tem speaker P T A Rahim will administer the oath of office to newly elected MLAs on the first day Rahim was sworn . in by Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday . Among the 139 MLAs who will take oath on Monday 53 are , new faces. The seniormost MLA is former chief minister Oommen Chandy who is enter, ing his 12th term. Kerala Congress chairman P J Joseph will start his 10th term and Muslim League leader P K Kunhalikutty his seventh term on Monday . The assembly will elect the New beginning 53 first-time MLAs in the assembly 12-time MLA Oommen Chandy is the seniormost member LDF’s speaker nominee M B Rajesh is a first-time MLA Pinarayi Vijayan returns to assembly as CM for the second consecutive time Kochi: Mahila Congress former state president Lathika Subhash, who quit the party and contested as an independent in the assembly poll, will join the NCP. She told TNIE that she held discussions with NCP state president P C Chacko and an official announcement in this regard would be made soon. P4 stocking before lockdown People throng the flower market at Broadway in Chennai on Sunday to buy essential items ahead of the complete lockdown. The Tamil Nadu government has announced an intensified lockdown for seven days beginning Monday | DEBADATTA MALLICK | P4 additions and changes to the budget presented by T M Thomas Isaac in the last trimester of the previous government will be presented by the new minister. General discussion on renewed budget will be held from June 7 to 9. The government will also present a fresh vote on accounts for three months, considering that the renewed budget will be passed in the next session only after a , detailed debate. Meanwhile, strict Covid-19 protocol has been enforced in the assembly and its premises. Seats are re-arranged to ensure proper social distancing and MLAs have been advised to wear double mask/N95 masks P4 throughout the session. BevQ App? State may go back to online mode for liquor sales K r i s h na c h an d K @T’Puram With the state government planning to drop the idea of home delivery of liquor owing to practical difficulties, it may consider bringing back ‘BevQ’ app or going in for other online queue management options for selling liquor through the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) outlets. The government is likely to take a policy decision in this regard in the first week of June, said sources. The Bevco outlets and bars in the state have remained cl o s e d s i n c e April 27 following a surge in Covid cases during the second wave. However, the decision has caused a huge loss to the government as liquor and lottery sales have been the main sources of its revenue. Besides, there has been a spurt in the number of seizures of illicit liquor, arrack and other narcotic substances in the last one month. Sources said the new government is not interested in facilitating home delivery of liquor as it would invite public criticism and implementing it also has practical difficulties. Additional DGP Yogesh Gupta, chairman and managing director of Bevco, said the government is weighing various ● More on P4 options. Chhattisgarh collector slaps youth, shunted out E JA Z K A IS E R @ Raipur Following widespread outrage on social media over Surajpur collector Ranbir Sharma slapping a youth and smashing his mobile phone for allegedly flouting lockdown norms, the Chhattisgarh government on Sunday transferred the IAS officer to the state secretariat. “I am upset with this incident. I apologise to the young man and his family,” said Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who also issued directions to compen- A video grab of Ranbir Sharma slapping the youth sate the youth with a new mobile handset. Sharma, too, apologised for slapping the youth, identified as Aman Mittal. “I am satisfied with the government action. Today I received a new mobile phone from the collector,” said Mittal. Healing hand Bureaucrats, police officers who double up as doctors Raje s h A s nan i , Raje s h K uma r T h aku r & A nu r aag S i ng h @ Jaipur/Patna/Bhopal They are qualified doctors by training, but bureaucrats or police officers by profession. They had donned the white coat of medical practitioners before clearing the civil service examinations and becoming IAS or IPS officers. Now in this hour of crisis caused by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, besides Manju Sheoran Jakhar S M Thiyagrajan doing their jobs as a chief executive or a district magistrate, they take out time to visit hospitals and double up as doctors to treat Covid patients. Meet Manju Sheoran Jakhar, S M Thiyagrajan and Anil Kumar among others, the first two being IAS officers of the Rajasthan and Bihar cadre respectively, and the third an IPS officer in UP. All three had studied MBBS. They are now putting their medical training to good use, playing a double role with ease. Jakhar, a 2016 batch IAS officer, is the chief executive officer of the Udaipur District Council and oversees rural development work under the MNREGA. She studied MBBS at the Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi and also completed her MS in gynaecology before cracking the civil services exam. Given her medical background, she was assigned the work of ensuring oxygen supply to patients and to fill the gap in Covid testing facilities. During her almost daily rounds of hospitals to ensure this, she takes out time to see patients in the wards of the RNT Medical College Hospital in Udaipur, among others. Jakhar also gives phone consultation to patients. “A lot of treatment is done on the phone itself as every family has someone or other suffering from Covid. I check their reports, symptoms and track their treatment. This will continue as I am doctor,” she said. To manage medical oxygen, her team collected data from hospitals requiring oxygen and then raContinued on: P7 tioned it.
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