kollam l wednesday l june 23, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l city EDITION Pfizer vax in final stages of getting India approval The US pharmaceutical giant is close to inking an agreement with the Centre, its CEO Albert Bourla disclosed on Tuesday Will contribute significantly to the pool indemnity cover the sticking point “We are in the very, very final stages of finalising this agreement. First, we need to get approval of this vaccine in India to be able to import,” Bourla said. Though Covishield will continue to be the backbone of India’s vaccination drive against Covid-19, “getting the additional mRNA vaccines from us and also from Moderna will contribute significantly,” he said ■ ■ It’s not clear if the government has approved Pfizer’s request for indemnity, which is a cover against lawsuits. Health ministry is in favour of providing it to draw more vaccine manufacturers If Pfizer gets indemnity, the Serum Institute of India may step up the pressure on the government for a similar protection for it, too 7 bn doses Pfizer will manufacture cumulatively by next year-end 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 Delta Plus is India’s next big headache Covaxin efficacy 78% in final phase 3 trial Declared a variant of concern; 22 cases found in Maharashtra, MP & Kerala; experts warn if not arrested now, it could trigger a new wave S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi The Centre on Tuesday declared the Delta Plus strain of the coronavirus a variant of concern (VoC) and asked Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh – where 22 such cases were detected – to take immediate measures to curb the virus spread. The suggested steps include preventing crowds, intermingling of people, and widespread testing. Of the 22 cases detected so far, 16 are from two districts of Maharashtra (Ratnagiri and Jalgaon) in clusters and six more isolated cases in two districts each in Kerala (Palakkad and Pathanamthitta) and Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal and Shivpuri). According to experts, spread of the Delta Plus variant, if not arrested forthwith, may lead to another wave in no time. There are also fears that this mutant version of the virus may be resistant to the vaccines available in India, though this is yet to be established. “There is an indication that the Delta Plus variant may be more apt to cause severe Covid-19 and is also looking better designed to evade monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for HC stays Dweep orders on farms & midday meal NATIONWIDE june 21 june 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 53,256 78,190 1,422 50,784 68,529 1,359 statewide june 21 june 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 7,449 13,596 94 12,617 11,730 141 the infectious disease. These facts definitely are causing a lot of anxiety said an expert. ,” According to a health ministry statement, the Delta Plus variant has these characteristics – increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response. In its advisory, the Centre asked the three states to send adequate samples of positive persons promptly to the designated laboratories of Covid ge- nomic surveillance network Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) so that the clinical epidemiological correlations can be made. Among the other crucial measures are prompt tracing and vaccine coverage on a priority basis. INSACOG, a network of 28 laboratories in the country has , attached the Delta Plus variant with increased transmissibility , stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response, the Union health ministry announced. Apart from India, this variant has been identified in eight other countries – the US, the UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, China and Russia. Scientists working with INSACOG explained that the Delta Plus variant was formed by further mutation in the delta or B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India, which was largely responsible for the ferocious second Covid wave. On Monday, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope had said the spread of Delta Plus variant had been detected in 6-7 districts in the state but the Centre associated just two districts in the state with it Sharad Pawar (3rd right) and Yashwant Sinha (3rd left) with other leaders at Pawar’s residence | Parveen Negi R i c h a S h a r m a @ New Delhi The meeting was called by Yashwant Sinha, not Sharad Pawar. This was not a political meet. We called all like-minded people Majid Memon, NCP leader Representatives of a clutch of Opposition parties attended a meeting hosted at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s residence here on Tuesday, but the sense was a national front cannot be cobbled together to take on the BJP if the Congress is out of the frame. The meeting, the participants later claimed, was non-political. Among the attendees were leaders from the Trinamool Congress, Left Front, Samajwadi Parassala B Ponnammal | 1924-2021 Carnatic musician of purity who achieved several firsts E x p ress N e w s S er v i c e @T’Puram Parassala B Ponnammal was awarded Padma Shri in 2017 for her contributions to Carnatic music Parassala B Ponnammal was a symbol of traditional sanctity of Carnatic music. She was a proponent of unadulterated music. Condolences on her demise. I join in the grief of the family members Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister Holding back doses for the big bang day? A whopping 88 lakh Covid vaccination doses were administered on Sunday, but a closer look suggests states were perhaps accumulating their doses over last week to arrive at the big number. Take Madhya Pradesh, which topped the list with 17.14 lakh doses. It’s figures for Saturday, Friday and Thursday were just 692, 22,006 and 14,862, respectively Full report: P7 Oppn reps meet at Pawar’s house, agree Cong has to be in nat’l front E x p ress N e w s S er v i c e @Kochi A DIVISION bench of the High Court on Tuesday stayed the Lakshadweep administration’s orders to close down dairy farms run by its animal husbandry department and remove chicken and other meat items from the midday meal menu of schools on the islands. The interim fiat was issued on a plea filed by Ajmal Ahmed of Kavaratti island challenging the administration’s orders. The decision to close down dairy farms was taken as part of the administration’s efforts to implement the proposed Animal Preservation (Regulation), 2021, which bans slaughter of cows, bulls and the like and also the sale and purchase of beef. The closure of dairy farms would compel islanders to purchase the products imported from Gu● More on P4 jarat. E x p ress N e w s S er v i c e @ New Delhi Doyenne of Carnatic music Parassala B Ponnammal, 96, who enthralled music lovers for decades through her concerts and was a guru to many musicians, died here on Tuesday She was . undergoing rest at her residence in Valyasala due to age-related ailments when the end came. Ponnammal had scripted history by becoming the first woman musician to sing at the Navaratri mandapam in Thiruvananthapuram, breaking the centuries-old tradition that forbade women from performing at the famed Navaratri celebrations of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple. There was a huge fan following for her numerous concerts that were held in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Ponnammal began learning Carnatic music at the age of seven and was the first girl student to enrol in the Swathi Thirunal College of Music in Thiruvananthapuram during the early 1940s. She passed out from the institution with a first rank in ‘Gana Praveena’ and ‘Gana Bhushanam’ courses. Her career as a music teacher began when she joined the Cotton Hill Girls High School in ● More on P5 Thiruvananthapuram. Party, RLD, National Conference and Aam Aadmi Party The . Congress was not represented as some of its invited leaders excused themselves on personal grounds. Called under the banner of the Rashtra Manch floated by for mer Union minister Yashwant Sinha, the meeting discussed a wide array of issues, including the ongoing farmer agitation, spiralling fuel prices, unemployment, Covid situation and the economic slowdown. “The meeting was called by Yashwant Sinha, not Sharad Pawar. This was not a political meet. We called all like-minded people. We also invited Congress leaders. I called Vivek Tanha, Manish Tiwari, Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Shatrughan Sinha for the meeting. They couldn’t come. It’s not true that we didn’t invite the Congress,” said NCP leader Majid Memon. express read NCLT nod for KalrockJalan bid for Jet Air The National Company Law Tribunal has given approval to the Kalrock Capital and Murari Lal Jalan consortium’s bid for Jet Airways, eight months after the lenders had given a go ahead to its resolution plan. WEDNESDAY’S MATCHES Sweden vs Poland TUESDAY’S RESULTS Russia lost to Denmark 1-4 Finland lost to Belgium 0-2 9.30pm Slovakia vs Spain 9.30pm THURSDAY’S MATCHES Portugal 12.30am vs France Germany 12.30am vs Hungary TUESDAY’S RESULTS Uruguay drew with Chile 1-1 Argentina bt Paraguay 1-0 THURSDAY’S MATCHES Ecuador vs Peru 2.30am Brazil vs Colombia 5.30am An expert panel of the country’s drug regulator on Tuesday approved the phase 3 trial data of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine Covaxin, which has shown an efficacy of 77.8% in preventing Covid-19 infection. This figure is similar to the 78% efficacy claimed by the company in April based on its second interim analysis of phase 3 data, which had also said that the vaccine developed using inactivated SARS-CoV-2 was 100% effective against severe disease. The company has been facing a barrage of criticism due to its long delay in publishing final data of the late stage trials that concluded on nearly 26,000 individuals in March. Sources in the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation said that the data from the efficacy trials will now be reviewed by the Drug Controller General of India after being approved by the Subject Expert Committee on Covid-19. The data has not yet been published in a peerreviewed medical journal. Bharat Biotech, which has developed the vaccine with support from the National Institute of Virology-ICMR, had said earlier this month that the final analysis of its efficacy trials will be made public only in July . Its April data showing 78% efficacy, which came after studying 127 symptomatic cases, was lower by 3% as compared to the first interim analysis figure it put out in early March, based on 87 symptomatic cases. Covaxin is yet to receive emergency use listing by the WHO due to incomplete data. Places of worship to open partially The state government on Tuesday decided to allow places of worship to open for public in areas where the test positivity rate is below 16%. Entry will be restricted to 15 people at a time Banks will be open on all days, but public will not be allowed on Tuesdays and Thursdays Government exploring the idea of allowing people, who have received both doses of Covid vaccine, entry at tourist places 50% of staff to be allowed in government offices and banks in A (TPR below 8%) and B (TPR 8-16%) zones while staff strength is limited to 25% in C zone (TPR 16-24%) Liquor shops near the Tamil Nadu border to be closed due to lockdown in that state Exams can be conducted on all days, including Saturdays and Sundays Janasevana Kendras can function wherever Akshaya Centres are allowed to operate Classes for medical students to start from July 1 as they are vaccinated With a view to open colleges, state plans to provide vaccine to youths in the 18-23 age group by making them a special category School teachers to be included in priority category for vaccination Those coming from TN by crossing the border in Idukki will have to produce antigen test result papers Testing labs to be opened at airports with the association of HLL Life Care to provide rapid test results — four hours before departure — for UAEbound passengers Permission to start indoor shooting of serials, adhering to Covid protocol Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the Onam festive season may see a surge in Covid cases like last year and asked people to take extra vigil
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