chennai l wednesday l june 09, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l late city EDITION ‘China’s vaccine was ready even before the pandemic’ Eminent virologist Dr T Jacob John told TNIE it is possible that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was created in the Wuhan virology lab Beijing is hiding something: Dr John Jacob ‘Work on vaccine started a year ago’ “There is something mysterious about the Chinese episode (the suspected leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology). China’s Covid-19 pandemic was unique in the world. That means they are hiding something… or they are different… or China had prepared for this in advance. Everything is not what meets the eye,” said Dr John, ex-professor of Virology, CMC Vellore ■ ■ “There are smoking gun evidences in molecular biology that point to the possibility that it is a lab-manipulated virus,” Dr John said China must have started work on Covid vaccine at least a year earlier. Having a vaccine almost ready helped China curtail the virus spread right from the early days, he added | P5 Feb 24, 2020 China applied for vaccine barely two months after Covid outbreak 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 States empowered to prioritise age groups for jabs Walk-in registrations allowed for all age groups starting June 21; Centre urges people to go to private vax centres if they can afford to pay S u m i S u k a nya D u tta @ New Delhi TN fixes cap on sanitiser, mask; given essential tag E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Chennai The State government has declared 15 medical items, including masks and hand sanitisers, as essential articles and fixed maximum retail prices (MRP) for them under the Tamil Nadu Essential Articles Control and Requisitioning Act. A notification to this effect was published in the Tamil Nadu gazette on June 4. The notification said that the Director of Drugs Control had informed the government that it was necessary to declare certain items as essential articles and fix MRP for them in order to ensure their availability at reasonable prices to the public. price list New essential items Hand sanitiser (200ml) N95 mask Surgical mask (2 ply) Surgical mask (3 ply) Surgical mask (3 ply with melt blown non-woven fabric) PPE kit Disposal apron Surgical gown Sterile gloves Examination gloves Non-rebreather mask Oxygen mask Flow meter with humidifier Fingertip Pulse Oximeter Face Shield tamil nadu Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths june 7 19,448 31,360 351 MRP `110 `22 `3 `4 `4.50 `273 `12 `65 `15 `5.75 `80 `54 `1,520 `1,500 `21 june 8 18,023 31,045 409 A day after the Centre rolled back its controversial Covid-19 vaccination policy and decided to procure 75% of the total doses in India for all adults, it said it will continue to prioritise highly vulnerable sections for the inoculation drive. But it allowed states to decide their prioritisation within the 18-44 age group, after factoring in the vaccine supply . For the Union government, the priority population groups include healthcare and frontline workers, those above 45 years of age and beneficiaries whose second dose is due. The 18-44 group is last on its pecking order. The revised policy that will come into play from June 21, also provides the option of onsite registration at all government and private vaccination centres for all age groups, apart from advance booking on the CoWIN portal. The four-page document said vaccine doses will be provided to states based on factors like population, disease burden and the progress of vaccination, also warning that wastage of vaccine will affect the allocation negatively . Covaxin dose costliest at pvt hospitals Vaccine Price per dose as declared by manufacturer (J)* GST@ 5% (J) COVISHIELD COVAXIN SPUTNIK V 600 1,200 948 30 60 47.40 Maximum Maximum service charge price that can per dose, be charged by inclusive of all private taxes (J) hospitals (J) 150 780 150 1,410 150 1,145 Note: These rates will be effective from June 21 Some experts saw in the latest advisory an underlying message that vaccines in government hospitals should continue to be given to the high priority population till their full vaccination coverage is achieved. “And that I think is a pragmatic thing to do,” said health systems specialist Chandrakant Lahariya. “In fact, I would have preferred it if the vaccination for the 18-44 age group would have Vax shortage brings curtains down on drive in 34 TN dists E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Chennai Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, his deputy Ajit Pawar (right) and minister Ashok Chavan, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Delhi on Tuesday Thackeray’s one-on-one with Modi sparks curiosity E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Mumbai Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi to discuss a range of issues from Maratha quota to reservations in promotion and GST compensation. He had along with him Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Congress minister Ashok Chavan. But the juicy political talking point was his one-onone meeting later with Modi. Responding to a question on the one-on-one, Thackeray said: “There is nothing wrong to meet (Modi) one-on-one. I had not gone to meet (former Pakistan Prime minister) Nawaz Sharif. What is wrong if I have to meet him personally (one-on-one)?” He said during the last one year, there have been various instances when he had such conversations with Modi, adding, “Today politically we are , not with them but that does not mean our relationship has ended.” Thackeray described the overall discussions as cordial. “We discussed various issues. He has assured to look into them. We discussed the transfer of the Kanjur Marg plot for Metro car shed as well.” Thackeray said they requested Modi’s intervention to remove the 50% cap on reservation reiterated by the Supreme Court. “We requested the prime minister to press this demand in court. The 50% cap is affecting various reservations, including OBC quota in elections,” pointed out Ashok Chavan. Just a week after it suspended and restarted its vaccination drive against Covid, Health Minister Ma Subramanian in Chennai on Tuesday said that 34 of the State’s 38 districts had run out of doses. Experts feared the disruption would affect disease control in Tamil Nadu. According to the minister, as of Tuesday afternoon, the State had only 23,000odd doses left, of which 16,000 were in Chennai and 4,000 in Coimbatore. Yet, Coimbatore, as well as Tiruchy and Madurai, have suspended the drive for a few days for want of stock. By Tuesday evening, the State still managed to vaccinate 14,928 people. According to the 830 vaccine doses illegally diverted Tiruppur: At a time when thousands run from pillar to post in search of vaccines, a few Tiruppur City Municipal Corporation officials allegedly diverted 830 doses of Covid vaccines earmarked for primary health centres to garment units on June 5 | P4 schedule sent by the Central government, Tamil Nadu is expected to received 63,370 doses of Covaxin for the 18-44 age group on Wednesday, 40,000 doses of Covaxin for the above 44 age group on Thursday and 3,65,800 doses of Covishield for the 18-44 age group on Friday . P Ramdas @ Kochi tients abroad. But when he tried to do so in Kerala, state health officials threatened him with action under the Disaster Management Act. The court directed the government to ensure the petitioner is not obstructed in any manner from practising homoeopathy as per the guidelines issued by the AYUSH ministry and the Supreme Court. Assistant Solicitor General of India P Vijayakumar submitted that the Centre had issued recommendations on using homoeopathy for preventive purposes and symptom management of Covidlike illnesses. However, the court held that advertisement by a homoeopathic physician is prohibited in view of the Homoeopathic Practitioners Regulations, 1982. NATIONWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths june 7 june 8 1,00,636 86,498 1,74,399 1,82,282 2,427 2,123 Jab-o-meter June 7 Take 31,04,989 doses your June 8 shot 25,58,652 doses Total doses: 23,88,40,635 World Bank cuts FY22 GDP forecast to 8.3% Retired UP bureaucrat appointed as EC Washington: The World Bank on Tuesday slashed its 2021-22 GDP growth forecast for India to 8.3% from 10.1% estimated in April, saying economic recovery is being hampered by the devastating second wave of coronavirus infections | P10 New Delhi: Former UP-cadre IAS officer Anup Chandra Pandey was on Tuesday appointed as an election commissioner. He fills the vacancy created by the departure of Sunil Arora, who demitted office as chief election commissioner on April 12 E x p r e ss N e ws Se r v i c e @ New Delhi Fire on the hill A building on fire near the Vaishno Devi shrine at Trikuta hills in Katra, J&K on Tuesday. Yatra to the temple remained unaffected | pti Study to help virus spread in animals finds no support @ Chennai Well before the novel coronavirus made its entry into India, Chennai-based Advanced Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) had proposed to conduct studies on zoonotic transmissions and genome sequencing of emerging strains. The project was, in fact, approved by TN Planning Commission at the end of 2019. However, no funds were released till date. Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Special Secretary at Environment and Forests Department and the man who built AIWC from scratch, told Express: “It’s very important to study zoonotic diseases to strengthen surveillance for early and effective diagnosis, which helps us in timely containment. In India, the huge human and animal population increases the probability of human-animal con- Zoonotic diseases The WHO defines it as those which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man, and infections shared between vertebrates and man vide vaccines directly to private hospitals,” it said. It said states need to aggregate the demand of private hospitals keeping in view equitable distribution between large and small private hospitals and regional balance, based on which the Union government will facilitate supply to the private hospitals and their payment through the National Health Authority’s e-platform. “This would enable the smaller and remote private hospitals to obtain timely supply of vaccines, and further equitable access and regional balance,” the Centre said. P7 DISTRESS SIGNALS The economy continues to reel due to the pandemic. Here’s a look Auto-debit payment failures Out of 85.7 million auto-debit transactions attempted in May, 30.8 million (36%) failed In April, out of 85.4 million such transactions initiated, 29.08 million (34%) failed Bank credit Bank credit growth hit 59-year low of 5.56% in 2020-21. It is expected to fall in 2021-22, too, with corporates deleveraging by repaying high cost loans through funds raised via bond issuances The credit availed by the Indian textiles and apparels industry fell 20% year-on-year to `1.62 lakh crore as of December 2020. This was mainly due to suspension of manufacturing activities in the immediate aftermath of Covid-19 lockdown last year, says the SIDBI-CRIF joint report In value terms, auto-debit transactions worth `22,000 crore failed in April primarily due to lack of funds | P10 VRS coming for public sector banks, Air India s q u ee z e o n f u n ds SV K RIS H N A C H AI TA N YA A health official said supply would be dispatched to all districts once the doses arrive in Chennai. “We will restart the drive after the supply reaches the districts,” the official said. The Centre had released 4,20,570 doses of Covishield to TN on June 1, hours after the State announced it would suspend vaccination. It received 50,000 lakh doses of Covaxin on June 4 to vaccinate persons above the age of 45. The State’s allocation for the month of June is 42 lakh doses, the minister said. So far, Tamil Nadu has received 1.01 crore vaccine doses from the Centre, and vaccinated 97.5 lakh people. Subramanian said nearly 3.5 lakh doses (about 3 per cent) were wasted in the first phase of the drive. continued on: p5 EXPRESS READ Homoeo doctors can prescribe, dispense Covid medicine: Kerala HC QUALIFIED physicians can not only prescribe and dispense homoeo medicines for preventing Covid, but also resort to homoeopathy for symptom management of coronavious-like illnesses, the Kerala High Court said on Tuesday . Justice N Nagaresh issued the order while disposing of the petition filed by Dr Jayaprasad Karunakaran. The petitioner said he had treated and saved serious Covid pa- been put on hold till the rest of the adult population is completed covered and the vaccine supply issue is fixed. That would have really streamlined the Covid inoculation process,” Lahariya added. The Centre also urged people who have the ability to pay, to take their jabs at private hospitals. Besides, it defended its decision to allow private hospitals to keep procuring 25% of the total Covid vaccines. “In order to incentivize production by vaccine manufacturers and encourage new vaccines, domestic vaccine manufacturers are given the option to also pro- tact and spread of zoonoses. Take for instance, the outbreak of Covid among Asiatic lions in Vandalur Zoo. We don’t have an explanation as to why a young and healthy lioness Neela died within 24 hours of showing symptoms. More research and genome sequencing of the strain that killed Neela will help us know about the incubation period in big cats.” Niraj was the director of AIWC, a State enterprise under the forest department, when the project was proposed under the Tamil Nadu Innovation Initiative. A paltry sum of `1.5 crore was all that was asked to begin the research. “The proposal got a lot of traction, but unfortunately within a couple , of months the coronavirus began playing dirty .” P4 THE Centre will soon announce a special voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for the employees of public-sector banks as well as Air India, finance ministry sources said. The decision follows the Niti Aayog’s recommendation to this effect, the sources added. “VRS is under discussion. The Niti Aayog gave similar recommendations for Air India and a state-run insurance company, ahead of their privatisation drive. Many of them are over-staffed. Short manpower makes them more attractive and easier for the change of management,” a senior FinMin official told TNIE. The government will make the VRS package attractive so that it encourages the employees to go for it, the official added. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while unveiling Budget 2021-22 on February 1, had said the government would take up the privatisation of two public-sector banks and one general insurance company. She also said the govern- Prepping the ground for privatisation According to the Central government, the PSBs being considered for disinvestment are over-staffed. The Centre wants to right-size the manpower through VRS, so that these become attractive for the private sector. A tried and tested strategy, VRS was offered ahead of the recent consolidation of some PSBs ment will conclude privatisation of Air India. According to sources, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Bank of India are being considered for privatisation. The government also plans to exit LIC-controlled IDBI Bank. Meanwhile, bank unions opposing the privatisation move had gone on a two-day strike in March. At that time, Sitharaman assured them privatisation would in fact ensure jobs are protected and that no employee would be fired.
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