tirupati l wednesday l june 23, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late 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 variant of concern; is highly infectious; 22 cases found in Maharashtra, MP & Kerala; experts warn 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 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 recep, tors 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 genomic surveillance network Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Jab-o-meter Take your shot June 21 80,95,314 doses June 22 52,12,628 doses Total doses: 29,40,42,822 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 on Tuesday associated just two districts in the state with the variant. E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi Holding back doses for the big bang day? A whopping 88 lakh Covid-19 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 Two held for sexual assault on nurse E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Guntur Two persons were taken into custody on Tuesday for their involvement in the sexual assault on a nurse at the Seethanagaram Pushkar Ghat in Tadepalli a couple of days ago. It also came to know that the police warned the duo of severe action two days prior to the incident while they were roaming at the Pushkar Ghat at night. Four teams were formed by Guntur Urban SP Arif Hafeez to nab the accused. The Central Crime Station and Task Force of Vijayawada City Police have also launched a search operation for the offenders, suspected to be ‘blade batch’ members and rounded up several history-sheeters. Based on the mobile phone signals at the time of offence, the police picked up the duo P5 from Seethanagaram. NATIONWIDE june 21 june 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 53,256 78,190 1,422 42,640 81,839 1,167 state wide june 21 june 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Samples tested 2,620 4,169 7,504 8,376 44 53 55,002 74,453 helping hand Chief Minster YS Jagan Mohan Reddy releases `4,395 crore to 23.44 lakh women beneficiaries under the YSR Cheyutha scheme at his camp office in Tadepalli on Tuesday | Express APIIC to develop Biz Dist in Vizag under PPP mode S V i s w a n at h @ Vijayawada The Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) has planned to set up a Business District in 19 acres at Madhurawada in Visakhapatnam under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. According to official sources, the project is envisaged on the concept of International Financial Services Centres, including business towers for commercial offices and other support infrastructure like star hotel and facilities for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions). The APIIC has called for Expression of Interest (EoI) for Development, Operation and Maintenance of the Business District. The government, which proposed Visakhapatnam as the executive capital of the State, is planning infrastructure development projects to make it an attractive destination for IT and IT Enabled Services. Disclosing the project details to TNIE, an official said the APIIC will have 26 per cent stake in the SPV created for execution of the joint venture and the balance 74 per cent stake is to be taken by the developer, who will be selected through competitive P5 bidding. Our Govt to create an international #BusinessHub in #Vizag to attract best in IT/ITeS & financial services MNCs to start operations in business friendly environment in PortCity Project incl #Business Towers, #hotels & facilities for #MICE EOI called for on http://Apiic.in Mekapati Goutham Reddy Official @MekapatiGoutham tourist delight `35L birdwatching centre in EG village K V S a i l en d r a @ Rajamahendravaram A birdwatching tourism centre is being developed at Punyakshetram village in Rajanagaram mandal. The East Godavari district administration has prepared a master plan to set up the centre with an outlay of `35 lakh to attract tourists. Punyakshetram attracts thousands of migratory birds, including Asian openbill storks and other bird species, between June and December for nesting. Hence, it has become a popular destination for birdwatchers. Speaking to TNIE, Roads and Buildings Deputy Executive Engineer B Madhusudhana Rao said the master plan for the tourism centre includes two view points, watch towers and a walking track. Rajanagaram MLA Jakkampudi Raja said locals welcome the winged guests every monsoon in the hope of getting good rainfall. The village community has even framed rules to punish those who harm the birds. Two watchmen have also been appointed to protect the birds from poachers. “The migratory birds are taken care of as our own children,” the MLA added. Master plan approved Godavari Urban Development Authority will monitor the execution of master plan, which has been approved by the State government 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. NCP president Sharad Pawar (3rd from right) and Trinamool leader Yashwant Sinha (3rd from left) with other leaders at Pawar’s residence | Parveen Negi Oppn agrees Cong has to be in national front R i c h a S h a r m a @ New Delhi 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 nonpolitical. Among the attendees were leaders from the Trinamool Congress, Left Front, Samajwadi 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 fo r m e r U n i o n m i n i s t e r 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. The centrality of the Congress to be part of the national front, since it is in direct fight with the BJP in 200 Lok Sabha seats and is in a tough contest in another 100 seats, did come up for discussion.
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