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Insurance scheme for frontline health workers fighting Covid-19 extended for 6 months

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NEW DELHI: The Rs 50-lakh insurance cover to frontline health workers fighting Covid-19 has been extended for six months and till date, 61 claims have been processed and payments made, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.

As many as 156 claims are under examination by the New India Assurance (NIA) Company Limited, and in 67 cases claims forms are yet to be submitted by the states, it said.

The ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting Covid-19′ was announced on March 30 for 90 days. It was extended further for a period of 90 days i.e. up to September 25. The scheme has now been extended for another 180 days ie six months,” the health ministry said in a statement.

This central scheme provides an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of Covid-19 patients and therefore at risk of being infected.

It also includes accidental loss of life on account of contracting Covid-19, the ministry said.

The scheme also provides cover to private hospital staff, retired, volunteer, local urban bodies, contract, daily wage, ad hoc, outsourced staff requisitioned by states, central hospitals, autonomous hospitals of centre, states, Inion Territories, AIIMS and INIs, hospitals of central ministries drafted for coronavirus-related responsibilities.

The insurance provided under this scheme is over and above any other insurance cover being availed of by the beneficiary. There is no age limit for this scheme and individual enrolment is not required, the ministry said.

The entire amount of premium for this scheme is being borne by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The benefit and claim under this policy is in addition to the amount payable under any other policies.

The health ministry has collaborated with the New India Assurance (NIA) Company Limited for providing the insurance amount based on the guidelines prepared for the scheme, the statement said.

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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Around 10 nations contacted education ministry showing willingness to implement NEP: Ramesh Pokhriyal

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NEW DELHI: Around 10 countries have contacted the education ministry showing their willingness to implement India’s new National Education Policy (NEP), Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said on Friday.

He was speaking during a webinar on “NEP 2020 – The Brighter Future of Education” organised by ASSOCHAM.

“Around 10 countries have contacted us, with their education ministers showcasing the willingness to implement India’s new education policy in their countries,” Pokhriyal said.

“The government is seeking paragraph-wise suggestions on how to go about implementing the NEP. So far 15 lakh comments have been received and we are open to receiving more suggestions,” he added.

The minister lamented some people are arguing that to make progress on international level one needs to learn English.

“I must say we are not against English but mother tongue as a medium of education would help strengthen Indian languages. The government does not intend to impose any language on any state. We are in the favour of strengthening 22 Indian languages and we want to promote all of these languages,” he said.

“People need to understand that English is not an Indian language. I would like to tell those people who argue that if we do not learn English we cannot progress on a global level, we need to look at countries like Japan, Russia, Israel, France, USA that all provide education in their language,” the minister added.

The NEP approved by the Union Cabinet in July replaces the 34-year-old National Policy on Education framed in 1986 and is aimed at paving the way for transformational reforms in school and higher education systems to make India a global knowledge superpower.

Choice between 3 or 4 year undergraduate courses, multiple entry and exit options in degree courses, adding 3.5 crore seats in higher education institutions, which will now have a single regulator, discontinuation of MPhil programmes and fixation of fees are among the higher education reforms outlined in the new NEP.

“The main objective of NEP 2020 is to develop good human beings and not machines. It is a nation-centric policy, full of human values and with regards to innovation, knowledge, research, science and technology, it will be on the top on international level,” Pokhriyal said.

“Perhaps it is the first such policy in the world which has seen such huge consultations with over 1,000 universities, 45,000 degree colleges, 15 lakh schools, 1 crore teachers and professors along with 33 crore students and their parents, politicians, state governments and their education ministers, chief ministers, parliamentarians and industry bodies,” he added.

The minister said that they have incorporated most of the 2.25 lakh suggestions received from across the country.

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What is active & passive vaccination: Can it help against Covid-19?

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NEW DELHI: Researchers across the world are conducting experiments in race to produce the most effective vaccine for coronavirus. There are new studies being published everyday as human understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus improves. In this global phenomenon, we are now reading about active and passive immunizations. Here is what you need to know about it:

What is active vaccination

There are some illnesses that a person can become immune to having the disease. For example, in case of chickenpox or measles, the immune system of the person creates antibodies to fight the disease. This process of gaining immunity against a certain disease where the immune system creates antibodies is called active vaccination.

In other words, active immunity results when a person’s immune system works to produce antibodies and activate other immune cells to certain pathogens. If the person encounters that pathogen again, long-lasting immune cells specific to it will already be primed to fight it.

What is passive vaccination

Another way to gain immunity against a certain disease is through taking antibodies from a person whos has already been inflicted with the disease and introducing their antibodies into another person’s system to protect them from the disease.

In other words, passive immunity results when a person is given someone else’s antibodies. When these antibodies are introduced into the person’s body, the “loaned” antibodies help prevent or fight certain infectious diseases.

Key differences between active and passive vaccination

In active vaccination, a person’s immune system is triggered to produce required antibodies while in passive vaccination, the ‘ready-made’ antibodies specific to one disease are administered.

Active vaccination requires a longer period of time to be effective as it ‘only’ triggers the immune system which in turn takes the due natural process to produce antibodies.

On the other hand, passive vaccination protects the person right away as there is no waiting period for immune system to get to work.

However, active vaccination provides immunity for a long period of time as the antibodies present were produced by the immune system itself, but passive vaccine lasts only for a few weeks or months as the antibodies are introduced into the person.

Active immunization requires more time but also lasts longer, while passive immunization is quick but has a brief lifetime.

Can passive vaccination provide relief against Covid-19

Scientists have identified highly effective antibodies against the novel coronavirus, which they say can lead to the development of a passive vaccination for Covid-19.

The scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Charite – Universitatsmedizin Berlin isolated almost 600 different antibodies from the blood of individuals who had overcome Covid-19.

“Three of our antibodies are particularly promising for clinical development,” explained Harald Pruss, a research group leader at the DZNE and also a senior physician at Charite – Universitatsmedizin Berlin. “Using these antibodies, we have started to develop a passive vaccination against SARS-CoV-2,” Pruss said.

In addition to the treatment of patients, preventive protection of healthy individuals who have had contact with infected persons is also a potential application, the researchers said. How long the protection lasts will have to be investigated in clinical studies, they said.

For Covid-19, this approach is also being investigated through the administration of plasma-derived from the blood of recovered patients. With the plasma, antibodies of donors are transferred, they said.

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India’s healthcare effectively kept Covid mortality at ‘minimum’, recovery at ‘maximum’: Harsh Vardhan

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NEW DELHI: More than 5 million people have been infected with coronavirus but the healthcare system of India has shown great efficiency in providing diagnostic and management facilities as well as keeping the mortality at ‘minimum’ and recovery at ‘maximum’, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday.

He was speaking at an event to mark the 65th Foundation Day of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

He said the country’s continuously rising Covid-19 recovery rate and progressively falling case fatality rate have proven the success of the containment strategy followed by all states/UTs, the health ministry said in a statement.

“We have successfully ramped up our testing capacity which has touched nearly 15 lakh milestone today with more than 1,800 testing labs spread across the country.

“I have confidence in the scientific developments taking place in the field of treatment and vaccines for COVID-19 and soon India will achieve more success in our fight against coronavirus infection,” the statement quoted Vardhan as saying.

Congratulating the AIMS fraternity for being ranked as number one among medical institutions by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) under the Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Vardhan expressed satisfaction that AIIMS has fulfilled the objectives of its establishment by the Indian Parliament in 1956.

He also hailed the institution’s huge contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“More than 5 million patients have been infected with coronavirus but the healthcare system of India has shown great efficiency in not only providing diagnostic and management facilities but also keeping the mortality at minimum and recovery at maximum.

“I appreciate that in the last six months, AIIMS has taken a huge responsibility of providing care to patients suffering from COVID-19, for innovating in areas of research, guiding colleagues across the country and developing new methods of teaching and communication,” the statement said.

Speaking at the event, minister of state for health Ashwini Kumar Choubey praised the medical community for their endless and selfless efforts during Covid times.

“AIIMS has established high reputation and has contributed significantly in academic, research and patient care. It has attracted students from various other countries like the US, UK, Australia, Germany, among others. It is a huge achievement,” he was quoted as saying in a statement.

Choubey added that the central government was making efforts to spread the services of AIIMS to every nook and corner of the country.

Vardhan and Choubey also gave away awards and medals to faculty members and graduating students during the event.

“This is the dream of every medical student to become a student of AIIMS. On this 65th foundation Day, I request all of you to aggressively and meticulously brainstorm some ideas which will be helpful in strengthening the medical services in India and in positioning India among the top scientific nations,” Vardhan said.

The health minister also released a manual and inaugurated an exhibition titled ‘AIIMS in COVID Times’ which highlighted the contribution of AIIMS in dealing with public health emergency, the statement added.

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