chennai l monday l may 24, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 32 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 India on Sunday evening became the third nation after U.S. & Brazil to cross 3 lakh cumulative fatalities Keep essentials ready: Stalin tells district heads E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ Chennai Chief Minister MK Stalin has urged all District Collectors to ensure availability of essentials such as medicines, medicated oxygen, water and vegetables to the public during the intensified lockdown this week. Attending a review meeting with all Collectors and Superintendents of Police on Sunday, through videoconference from the Secretariat, Stalin also asked the Collectors to confirm distribution of Covid monetary relief to all ration cardholders. “Along with the Agriculture department officials and local body authorities, the district heads also should monitor arrangements for sale of vegetables on pushcarts or other vehicles. Distribution of milk and drinking water must be ensured,” the Chief Minister said. Instructing the officials to take steps to ensure availability 4,380 mobile units to supply veggies in TN Chennai: Vegetables and fruits will be supplied to through 4,380 mobile units across the State during the intensified lockdown week, Agriculture Minister MRK Panneerselvam said on Sunday | P2 of essentials in hospitals too, Stalin said, “The medical facilities in our State should have enough stock of all supplies. Patients should be transported to hospitals following protocol and without delay The vaccina. tion drive too should not face any hindrance,” he added. The CM also asked the officials to convene a meeting with elected representatives in their respective districts and elicit their views on measures needed to combat Covid. “Collectors may also appoint an officer to coordinate services of various volunteer organisations. Further, monitor stock of life-saving drugs and oxygen, and ensure that all these are efficiently used. Together, we will soon tide over this crisis,” Stalin encouraged the officials. Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu, Minister for Medical and Family welfare Ma. Subramanian and other authorities also took part in the review meeting. Major crowding a day before full lockdown Chennai: As the State braced itself for a complete lockdown from Monday, lack of physical distancing and crowding were witnessed in almost all markets on Sunday. Some even removed masks during the rush | P3 Vaccine a distant reality in rural India, shows app Chennai Abysmally low rates of vaccination in rural districts across India P r ana b M o n d a l , Ha r p r eet Baj w a , S u d h i r S u r ya w an s h i & Raje s h A s nan i @ Kolkata/Chandigarh/Mumbai/Jaipur Madurai tirunelveli All major markets in the State witnessed heavy crowding on Sunday, with people pushing each other and not wearing masks properly. Clicks from the flower market at Broadway in Chennai, vegetable market at Subramaniyapuram in Madurai, and a market street in Tirunelveli | DEBADATTA MALLICK, kk sundar, V KARTHIKALAGU Lockdown in Pondy too for another week Puducherry: Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan announced that lockdown with some relaxations will continue for one more week in Puducherry. Only the shops selling essential items will function | P3 TN revises Covid care charges in pvt hosps E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ Chennai The State Government has revised the cost of Covid treatment in private hospitals for both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CMCHIS). In a Government Order dated May 22, it stated that under the CMCHIS, non-critical cases without oxygen support will be charged `5,000 per day, noncritical cases with oxygen sup- port will be charged `15,000, patients needing ICU with invasive ventilation `35,000, patients needing ICU with noninvasive ventilation, CPAP and BiPAP oxygen devices `30,000, and patients needing ICU with only oxygen support `25,000. The cost of medicines and other ICU tests will also be borne by the government. For those not covered under the CMCHIS, non-critical patients not needing oxygen support will have to pay `7,500 per This Madurai wedding flies in the face of Covid norms V i g ne s h V @ Madurai Hoping for a ‘marriage made in heaven’ setup, or at least a good deal near to it, a big fat wedding was held in the Madurai skies on Sunday. This couple tied the knot exactly when their chartered aircraft hovered over the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple in the ‘graceful’ presence of a whopping 161 relatives in the flight, sources said. The ‘extravagant’ ceremony, held in blatant violation of the Covid protocol, comes at a time when the State is weighed down by the viral caseload. Moreover, glossing over a grave situation, where hospitals are overcrowded and healthcare workers are overworked, the wedding ceremony boasted of an inflated guest-list, far exceeding the state government’s stipulated 50 for such gatherings. Sources said that the ‘marriage flight’ took off from Madurai International Airport at 7 am on Sunday “The flight was . air-bound for two hours and the couple tied the knot when the WITH THIS ISSUE THE ESSENTIAL CAMPUS DIGEST tamil nadu Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 22 33,873 25,776 448 MAY 23 35,483 25,776 422 day at Grade A1 and A2 hospitals, and `5,000 at Grade A3 to A6 hospitals. In the same category, non-critical patients requiring oxygen support `15,000 can be charged per day, while those needing ICU with noninvasive ventilation, CPAP and BiPAP oxygen devices will be charged `30,000. Further, patients needing ICU with invasive ventilation will be charged `35,000, and those needing ICU with only oxygen support will be charged `25,000. The Government had graded the hospitals based on infrastructure, bed strength and other facilities. Patients who wish to receive treatment in private hospitals under the CMCHIS, now require no referral form from a government doctor to avail benefits, the G.O. said. P2 Abusive Chhattisgarh collector 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 Video grab of Ranbir transferred the IAS officer to the state Sharma slapping a youth 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 compensate 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. A picture that went viral on social media, of the couple tieing the knot aircraft was hovering over the Meenakshi Amman temple,” they said, adding that the photographs of the function reveal that those who attended the mid-air marriage did not even wear their masks properly and , worse, had no social distancing etiquette. The marriage photos that are being circulated in the social media received mixed feedback from netizens. P4 YOUR LIFE COACH 32 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF edex (TABLOID) , 4 of city express “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 Punjab also. Continued on: P8 skewed priority 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%) 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 Moderna shoos off Punjab, sets trend for others S u m i S u kan ya D u tta @ 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 MAY 23 2,57,299 2,40,842 3,57,630 3,55,102 4,194 3,741 (Morn) Most states favour conducting Class 12 board exams, final decision on June 1 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 deliberation will be carried out,” said an official. The states were asked to send their suggestions by Tuesday . Meanwhile, sources 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. Healing hand Bureaucrats, police officers who double up as doctors Raje s h A s nan i , Raje s h K u m a r T h ak u r & A n u r aa g S i n g 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 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 Manju Sheoran Jakhar S M Thiyagrajan 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 rationed it. Continued on: P7
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