BHUBANESWAR l wednesday l june 23, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l JEYPORE 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 NCLT nod for Kalrock-Jalan bid for Jet Air aRSHAD KHAN @ New Delhi The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) 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. According to the resolution plan of Kalrock Capital and UAE-based NRI Murari Lal Jalan, which was approved by the Committee of Creditors in October 2020 by 97% vote share, around `1,100 would be paid in tranches in five years. The resolution professional of Jet Airways – Ashish Chhawchharia – had received claims of `44,000 crore out of which he admitted claims of around `15,400 crore. Resolution Professional Ashish Chhawchharia said he is hopeful of the airline reviving and that if everything goes well, Jet Airways could return to the skies by the end of 2021. continued on: P10 NATIONWIDE june 21 june 22 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths odisha Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 53,256 78,190 1,422 42,640 81,839 1,167 june 21 june 22 3,031 4,587 43 2,957 4,159 38 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 pr e ss N e w s S e 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 Central team flags paddy purchase lapses, suggests detailed audit days at Sohela Regulated Market Committee (RMC), 40 days at Salebhata Finding serious lapses and irregular- RMC, 43 days at Dungripalli RMC and ities in the decentralised purchase of 90 days at Keranda Tangi RMC (Ranpur paddy in Odisha during the current block) instead available time of 151 kharif marketing season, a Central days. “As observed during visit to varifact-finding team has recomous market yards, procuremended the Ministry of Conment window was opened for sumer Affairs, Food and much less period. Also, it Public Distribution for a dewas found that substantial tailed audit of the procurenumber of allotted tokens ment operation. got lapsed,” the report said. The four-member team led The period of procurement by the Union Additional Secin Odisha was valid from Noretary (Policy and FCI), Devember 1, 2020 to March 31, partment of Food and Public 2021. Distribution in its report to Similarly, the quality conThe entire the Ministry said, “The findtrol process was almost nonings substantiate the general procurement process existent and the inspector, complaint that farmers were was found to be miller- appointed on contract, gendriven. Surprisingly, not issued sufficient tokens the State government erally filled up the paramethereby disabling them from has allowed millers to ters as per whim and fancy bringing their produce to the without actual analysis. perform all mandi market yard and denying “The entire procurement operations such as supply of used them the opportunity to sell process was found to be millgunnies, their produce within the proer-driven. Surprisingly, the transportation of curement period.” State government has alpaddy, loading and The team, which underlowed millers to perform all other labour works. took a tour to Odisha during mandi operations such as This is against the March 23-25 following comsupply of used gunnies, guidelines of the plaints from the State BJP transportation of paddy, Centre MPs on alleged mismanageloading and other labour Central team ment of procurement, inworks. This is against the spected four market yards in guidelines of the Centre,” Bargarh, Balangir, Sonepur and Naya- the team observed. Distribution of paddy amongst millgarh districts to get first-hand informaers was not found transparent as it tion from the ground. The window for paddy procurement was at the discretion of PACS CONTINUED ON: P5 . operation was made open only for 75 secretary B i j o y P r a dh a n @ Bhubaneswar Cluster plan for students deprived of online edu S u d a rs a n M a h a r a n a @ Bhubaneswar Faced with a situation where lack of internet access is rendering online education, including the latest initiative of live streaming classes on You Tube, largely ineffective, the State government is mulling an alternative teaching programme to be implemented in offline mode. The government is planning to mobilise teachers in rural areas of districts where Covid infection has receded to reach out to students at their villages and conduct classes in small clusters with adequate social distancing in place. Besides, video content on learning would also be created and shared on different platforms including WhatsApp, which students not having immediate access to internet will be able to watch later. The move comes following realisation that the various online modes of teaching along with the latest YouTube live streaming have not been able to attain maximum student coverage, mainly due to lack of internet access or possessing a computer or smartphone. Only around 10 lakh students are accessing the l ive s t re a m i n g o f cl a s s e s o n YouTube. “We are working out a plan for students who do not have access to online education. We will launch the pro- gramme soon,” said School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash. The modalities of how the leftout students will be taught till classes start in physical mode are being worked out. “While we have plenty of options for students having access to e-learning, we are trying our best to reach out to those who are deprived of learning due to unavailability of mobile phone, computer and internet,” the Minister said. Sources in the SME department said though live streaming of lessons on YouTube has started for students of Class I to X to provide them classroom lear ning experience, only around eight to 10 lakh students are CONTINUED ON: P5 able to access it. 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 rm 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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