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Corona roundup: 3 vaccines at clinical trial stage, oxygen shortage in states & more




TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Sep 15, 2020, 19:54 IST

NEW DELHI: Three Covid-19 vaccines are at a clinical trial stage in the country and two indigenous vaccine candidates have completed phase one trial, Indian Council of Medical Research DG Dr Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday.

“Three vaccines are at the clinical trial stage in India. Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed phase-I trials. Results are being analysed. They have started recruitment for the second phase,” Dr Bhargava said at a press conference.

Here are the top developments:


  • The Covid-19 death toll in India crossed 80,000, with the country recording the highest fatalities in the world over the past fortnight. The last 20,000 deaths have come in just 19 days, at an average of more than 1,000 per day. There were 1,070 deaths reported on Monday, taking the total toll to 80,737, as per data collated by TOI from state governments.

  • As Covid cases surge across India, some states already face an oxygen shortage. Many others are dependent for part or most of their oxygen supply on units outside the state.

  • Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has said India’s willingness to play a “big role” in manufacturing Covid-19 vaccine and allow it to supply to other developing countries will be a critical part in containing the pandemic globally. In an interview, Gates, whose foundation is focusing on fighting the pandemic, called it the “next biggest thing” the world has been confronted with after the World War.

04:14TOI Exclusive: Bill Gates on India’s key role in vaccine manufacturing

TOI Exclusive: Bill Gates on India’s key role in vaccine manufacturing

  • The government said 1.04 crore migrant workers returned to their home states during the coronavirus-induced lockdown, but that it has no data of migrant workers who died, or were injured during the lockdown period.

  • The government prevented 14-29 lakh coronavirus cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths due to the disease by imposing the nationwide lockdown that was announced on March 24, the Lok Sabha was informed. Rai said by imposing the countrywide lockdown, India successfully blunted the aggressive spread of Covid-19.
  • Amid a spurt in Covid-19 cases, the government said India learnt from the experience of nations that suffered high mortalities and was able to “distribute the curve” of coronavirus infection due to a “very effective” lockdown and avoid the “huge peak” those countries had in terms of deaths. Asserting that India has one of the largest number of Covid-19 recoveries, the government said there are 14 states and Union territories where the number of active cases are less than 5,000.
  • India’s Covid-19 recovery rate has risen to 78.28 per cent as a total of 38,59,399 people have recuperated, exceeding the active cases of coronavirus by 28,69,338 as on date, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday. There are 9,90,061 active cases of Covid-19 in the country which comprise 20.08 per cent of the total caseload, according to the health ministry data.


  • Maharashtra: Faced with a massive surge in active cases, civic authorities have asked the city’s major private hospitals to divert patients coming from Mumbai Metropolitan Region to jumbo Covid care centres. It has also asked the private hospitals to urgently discharge all asymptomatic positive patients if they are clinically stable.

  • Arunachal Pradesh: Chief minister Pema Khandu said that he tested positive for Covid-19 and is presently in home isolation in New Delhi. “I have undergone Covid test RT-PCR and have tested positive for Covid19. I am asymptomatic and feeling healthy,” Khandu wrote on Twitter.
  • Rajasthan: The Rajasthan government revised the rates for Covid-19 tests conducted by private labs in the state from Rs 2,200 to Rs 1,200. Health minister Raghu Sharma said the prices of RT-PCR testing kits, reagents, VTM kits and other consumables have reduced and therefore it was decided to provide the testing facility to people at lower prices.
  • Telangana: The rapid increase in Covid cases has not only created a huge demand for oxygen cylinders but has also triggered an increase in prices. According to manufacturers, price of liquid oxygen, which was Rs 10 per cubic metre before the pandemic, has now gone up to Rs 50 per cubic metre.

  • Delhi: A sero-prevalance survey conducted in the first week of August in Delhi has found that 79 of the 257 people who recovered from Covid-19 did not have antibodies against the virus. About 15,000 representative samples were taken in the August 1-7 survey from 11 districts and tested for antibodies (IgG) against the virus.
  • Tripura: At least 531 more people tested positive for Covid-19 in Tripura, pushing the tally in the state to 19,718, a health department official said. The death toll rose to 207 with seven more fatalities.
  • Uttarakhand: A steady surge in Covid-19 cases in Uttarakhand has led to a greater need for ICU admissions and thereby, a rise in the demand for oxygen support. State officials told TOI that the oxygen supply to Covid-19-dedicated hospitals increased to 6,000 cubic metres in July as against 2,000 cubic metres in June.

  • UP: The highest single-day spike of 113 Covid-19 fatalities took the death toll in Uttar Pradesh to 4,604, while the tally of coronavirus cases in the state rose to 3,24,036 with 6,895 more people testing positive for the viral disease. The state now has 67,335 active COVID-19 cases.
  • Goa: The already strained Covid funeral management system in South Goa is now bursting at the seams following a spike in deaths and not enough space to cremate the bodies.

  • Ladakh: The novel coronavirus toll in Ladakh rose to 41 with another death, while the number of cases climbed to 3,419 with 74 new infections, officials said. There are 903 active cases of the coronavirus disease.
  • Jharkhand: The district administration directed the Bokaro General Hospital to increase the number of Covid bed and assign newly-appointed doctors on Covid duty to check the rising number of infections in the district.

  • Nagaland: Single-day recoveries outnumbered new Covid-19 cases in Nagaland as 30 people were cured of the infection and 15 tested positive for the disease, Health minister S Pangnyu Phom said. The Covid-19 recovery rate in the state is 75.1 per cent. It had gone up to 87.82 per cent on August 8.
  • HP: Himachal Pradesh recorded eight more deaths due to coronavirus, pushing the toll to 89, while the infection count mounted to 10,060 with 143 fresh cases being reported. Of the new fatalities, three were reported from Mandi, two from Una and one each from Kangra, Shimla and Solan.
  • Puducherry: The Puducherry government tested 5,496 blood and swab samples, the highest ever in the Union territory, and identified 380 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally of infections to 20,601.


  • A China-developed coronavirus vaccine could be ready for the public as early as November, a Chinese official has told state television, as the global race to clear the final round of trials heats up. Chinese manufacturers have been bullish about development, with companies Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm even putting their vaccine candidates on display at a trade fair in Beijing this month.

  • The novel coronavirus has killed at least 929,391 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December. At least 29,329,390 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 19,536,900 are now considered recovered.
  • Germany says it is providing up to 750 million euros ($892 million) to support three domestic pharmaceutical companies that are developing vaccines against the new coronavirus. Science minister Anja Karliczek said that the government has already agreed to provide BioNTech and CureVac with 375 million euros and 230-million euros respectively to develop their mRNA-based vaccines.
  • An estimated 87 million women and girls are living in extreme poverty in 2020 in India and this number is expected to increase to around 100 million by 2021 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as per new data released recently by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme.

  • After a break of nearly five months, Pakistan began its phased reopening of schools, in view of the falling number of new cornavirus cases in the country. While high schools, colleges and universities reopened on September 15, classes VI to VIII would start from September 23. Primary school will start from September 30, officials said.
  • A small coronavirus clinical study has been launched in the UK this week to explore the effects of delivering vaccines directly to the body’s airways using an inhaler. Imperial College London researchers said they will assess the safety and effectiveness of two of the UK’s coronavirus vaccines in development when inhaled into the lungs.
  • Israel to set to impose a national lockdown for the second time beginning from September 18, in view of the surge in coronavirus cases in the country. According to The Times of Israel, Israeli ministers on Sunday approved a three-week national lockdown as the country is reporting around 4,000 Covid-19 cases everyday.
  • Nepal will be resuming both domestic flights and inter-district vehicular movement from September 21, said Yogesh Bhattarai, minister for culture, tourism and civil aviation. Meanwhile, the health ministry has reported 1,170 new coronavirus cases till Monday, taking the national tally to 55,329.
  • The United Arab Emirates has announced it approved the emergency use for healthcare workers of a coronavirus vaccine still in the final phase of human trials. “The vaccine will be available to our first line of defense heroes who are at the highest risk of contracting the virus,” said the government.

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The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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Maratha quota: Post SC stay, Maharashtra announces sops for community




MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government on Tuesday took several measures to give relief to the agitating Marathas, including giving community members benefits meant for EWS, in the light of the Supreme Court staying the implementation of quota in jobs and education for the community.

According to an official statement, the Maharashtra Cabinet also decided to offer jobs in Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation to heirs of those who lost lives during the Maratha quota protests.

It said action will be taken on proposals in this regard within a month of their submission.

The government’s decisions came after the Supreme Court earlier this month stayed the implementation of the 2018 Maharashtra law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs.

This was followed by community members staging protests on the issue in several parts of the state.

The Maratha community members will get the benefits announced by the government on Tuesday till the Supreme Court vacates the stay on quota, the statement said.

The Maharashtra government on Monday filed an application before the larger bench of Supreme Court, seeking to vacate the apex court’s stay on implementing the quota, the statement said.

“The benefits meant for economically weaker section (EWS) will be given to those from socially and economically backward category (SEBC),” the statement said.

The government said the Rajarshi Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Shikshan Shulkh Shishyavrutti Yojana, a scholarship scheme earlier meant for SEBC students, will now be made applicable to EWS students too.

“The state government has approved Rs 600 crore fund for the current fiscal. Provision will be made if there is a need for additional funds,” the statement said.

Similarly, the Panjabrao Deshmukh Hostel Maintenance Allowance Scheme meant for SEBC students will be applicable to the EWS students, the statement said.

“Rs 80 crore fund has been approved for the same. More funds will be made available if need be,” it added.

The government said substantial funds and manpower will be made available to the SARTHI institute.

The Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj Research Training and Human Development Institute (SARTHI) is a non-profit government company for research, policy advocacy, training etc. for socio-economic and education development of Maratha, Kunbi communities and families dependent of agriculture.

“SARTHI has demanded Rs 130 crore fund for the current financial year. Provision will be made if more funds are required,” the statement said.

The statement said financial assistance is being provided to unemployed youth through the Annasaheb Patil Financially Backward Development Corporation, and the capital for its has been increased by Rs 400 crore.

Speaking on the process of withdrawing cases against Maratha quota protesters, the state government said only 26 were pending and action on them will be taken in a month.

Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting, PWD Minister Ashok Chavan said the government moved the vacation application before the Supreme Court’s larger bench after holding discussions with ministers, opposition leaders, representatives of Maratha outfits and legal experts.

Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde, who accompanied Chavan during the press conference, said, “The chief minister and the cabinet has taken a decision that there will be no shortage of funds. These decisions will give relief to the community.”

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Opposition parties to take message against farm bills across country: Derek O’Brien




NEW DELHI: Indicating that the opposition pressure on the government over the farm bills was far from over, TMC MP Derek O’Brien on Tuesday said his party along with other regional parties will spread the message of how these bills “cheat” farmers, across the country.

Briefing reporters hours after an overnight protest by eight suspended MPs came to an end, O’Brien said what happened in Rajya Sabha on Sunday was “undemocratic” and “against the idea of India”.

“Our basic rights as MPs were taken away. That was the last straw. What they did was a straight fascist methodology to demolish Indian democracy. They are trying to rewrite the idea of democracy. The bills were not scrutinised, they are anti-people and anti-farmer,” alleged O’Brien, who was among the eight MPs to be suspended.

While the eight MPs held a sit-in protest in Parliament premises, the opposition parties boycotted both the Houses over the issue.

“I’ve been in politics now with the AITC for about 17 years. I have never seen the very back of Indian democracy being broken like this. Now, let me come to the core issue. This is not about some puppet, Deputy Chairman sitting there or somebody sitting there. It’s a straight fascist, farmer bill’s politics. We have never, ever seen Parliament in this situation.

“We will not sit down and allow the country, its people and the farmers be cheated. Over the next two days, all regional political parties, I use the word regional loosely to mean parties with considerable presence in a region, will reach out to every town, every village to spread this message,” he said.

Speaking on the gesture of the deputy chairman Harivansh Singh carrying morning tea for the protesting MPs on Tuesday, the TMC leader indicated that it was just optics.

“The farmers want justice not tea. Is this child’s play? First you murder democracy and then you offer tea? If it was a personal visit, then why did he have two cameras with him?” asked O’Brien.

He also said that the opposition parties are set to meet on Wednesday at 11 am to strategise their next course of action in Parliament.

Replying to a question on the numbers that the government had in Rajya Sabha to pass the bills, O’Brien questioned the BJP why it needed to field five union ministers to defend what happened in Parliament on Sunday.

“Five union ministers used the government machinery to defend the murder of democracy,” he said.

The TMC MP also pointed out that while half a dozen bills were passed in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, four of the eight MPs had resolutions on motions against them.

“You can suspend us. You cannot silence us,” he asserted.

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Home Minister Amit Shah hails passing of J&K official languages bill




NEW DELHI: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday described the passing of the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages (Amendment) Bill by the Lok Sabha as a momentous day for the people of the Union Territory.

In a series of tweets, Shah also said under the legislation, special efforts will be made towards the development of major regional languages like ‘Gojri‘, ‘Pahari’ and ‘Punjabi’.

“A momentous day for the people of J&K as Jammu Kashmir Official Languages (Amendment) Bill was passed in Lok Sabha. With this historic bill…Long-awaited dream of the people of J&K comes true!,” he said.

I thank PM @narendramodi ji for his commitment towards restoring the culture of Jammu and Kashmir through this bill…

— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) 1600790419000

The home minister said Kashmiri, Dogri, Urdu, Hindi and English will now be the official languages of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Under this bill, special efforts will be made towards the development of major regional languages like ‘Gojri’, ‘Pahari’ and ‘Punjabi’,” he said.

Under this bill, special efforts will be made towards the development of major regional languages like ‘Gojri’, ‘Pa…

— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) 1600790418000

The home minister said along with this, the bill will also strengthen the existing institutional structure for the promotion and development of regional languages.

“I thank PM @narendramodi ji for his commitment towards restoring the culture of Jammu and Kashmir through this bill. I also want to assure our sisters and brothers of Jammu and Kashmir that the Modi govt will leave no stone unturned to bring back the glory of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

A momentous day for the people of J&K as Jammu Kashmir Official Languages (Amendment) Bill was passed in Lok Sabha.…

— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) 1600790418000

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the bill under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the language they speak should be the official language.

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