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High Vitamin D levels may reduce breast cancer risk

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New York, June 16: Higher levels of Vitamin D among women may reduce their risk of developing breast cancer post menopause, claimed a new study.

The study found that women with blood levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (OH) — the main form of vitamin D in blood — above 60 ng/ml (nanograms per millilitre) had one-fifth the risk of breast cancer compared to those with less than 20 ng/ml.

Thus, researchers from the University of California-San Diego determined that the minimum healthy level of 25(OH) in blood plasma should be 60 ng/ml, instead of the earlier recommended higher than the 20 ng/ml.

“Increasing Vitamin D blood levels substantially above 20 ng/ml appears to be important for the prevention of breast cancer,” said lead author Sharon McDonnell from GrassrootsHealth, a non-profit public health research organisation.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, analysed data from two randomised clinical trials with 3,325 combined women and a prospective study involving 1,713 women with average age of 63.

Participants were free of cancer at enrollment and were followed for a mean period of four years. Vitamin D levels in blood were measured during study visits.

“This study was limited to postmenopausal breast cancer. Further research is needed on whether high 25(OH)D levels might prevent premenopausal breast cancer,” said Cedric F. Garland from UC-San Diego.

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‘There is something indicating India may be moving from Covid-19 exponential rise’

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Wuhan China

New Delhi, Aug 8 : Currently, India is experiencing the worst phase in its fight against Covid-19 with a total of 61,537 new coronavirus cases getting reported in the last 24 hours, taking the overall caseload to 20,88,611, while the death toll mounting to 42,518 with 933 fresh fatalities.

But there may be a silver lining, as V.K. Paul, Member of Niti Aayog, said that the last five-day daily cases data indicate that India may be moving away from exponential rise.

Speaking at a webinar organised by the India International Centre on the topic towards a holistic long term medi-care system — the casede of Covid-19 — Paul, citing the day wise daily new cases data, said, “If we look at the five-day moving average, we could see some kind of stabilization; I do not know whether it is true or random, that only time will tell. May be, there is something out there, which is indicating that we may have moved away from exponential rise and we may be stabilising. But that only time will tell.”

Paul said that the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic was in the most populous cities, in the western half of the nation, where the pandemic originated. It seems now that the pandemic in this part of the country is now reaching some king of peak. “As we have seen in the context of Delhi,” he added

Paul said, “We still have large swathes of our geography and large swathes of our population, which are naive to this virus….the virus loves people, the virus loves dense places, the virus loves irresponsible citizens who do not look after their respiratory secretions and do not maintain physical distance.”

Citing the data on cases per million, he added that India has 1466 cases per million, and the world average, into the 7th month of the pandemic, is around 2500 per million. Paul said the disease load is modest and warned people not to be complacent, if cases begin to decline. “The trailer is over I think, but we are still before interval,” he added.

He insisted that mortality rates in India continue to be low and in terms of response, home based isolation protocols have succeeded. “Deaths will be imprinted in pages of history, how many deaths happened in this pandemic in a given nation…. Need to keep a sharp eye number of deaths… In case fatality rate, India is currently at 2.06….some of states have below 1 per cent case fatality rate. The highest we have seen for a state is 6 per cent or little above 6 per cent…” said Paul.

He insisted that in India the mortality burden so far has been on the lower side. “We like to keep our case fatality rate below 1 per cent….and it is possible,” he added.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])

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Serum Institute to provide Covid vaccine to 92 countries at Rs 250 a dose

Partners with Gavi, Gates Foundation, will provide 100 mn doses to Covax, a WHO initiative led by Gavi and CEPI

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Bill Gates Covid Vaccine

Serum Institute of India (SII) has inked a pact with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to make 100 million doses of a potential vaccine. This is for low- and medium-income countries, and with a price cap of Rs 250 a dose.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi for supporting SII in the manufacture, the company noted.

Priced at $3 a dose, the vaccines will be made available in 92 countries, including India. These are those included in Gavi’s Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

Covax is an initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) — which is managed by Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) — to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine.

SII also has a tie-up with Oxford-AstraZeneca for its candidate AZD1222, which is under advanced stages of clinical trial. SII will supply 1 billion doses to AstraZeneca, which has already committed to 2 billion doses of AZD1222.

SII plans to make 300 million doses of AZD1222 by December, and will begin phase-2 trials soon. It has also tied up with Novavax for development and commercialisation of its candidate. It will have exclusive rights for that in India (during the term of the deal) and non-exclusive rights during the ‘pandemic period’ in all countries, besides upper-middle or high income countries.

SII said Gavi and the Foundation would provide upfront capital to help increase manufacturing capacity. The funding will aid at-risk manufacturing by SII for AstraZeneca’s and Novavax’s candidates, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO’s pre-qualification. The arrangement also provides the option to secure additional doses if the vaccines arm of the ACT Accelerator sees the need.

Serum’s tie-ups with AstraZeneca and Novavax will continue. Besides the 100 million doses it will supply to Gavi-led Covax (at Rs 250 each), it will be free to price the vaccines in India. “To make our fight against Covid-19 stronger and all-embracing, SII has partnered with Gavi and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of future Covid vaccines for India, along with low- and middle-income countries in 2021,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum.

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Lady Hardinge staff stage protest over salary dues

The employees of Lady Hardinge had recently returned to work following an order from the Delhi High Court. The contractual workers were allegedly terminated earlier.

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Lady Hardinge Staff

New Delhi, Aug 7 : Contractual workers of the Centre-run Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) on Friday protested at the hospital’s gate against non-payment of salaries in the last two months.

About 70 workers raised slogans against the hospital management on various issues, including their pending salaries.

The employees of Lady Hardinge had recently returned to work following an order from the Delhi High Court. The contractual workers were allegedly terminated earlier.

“Even during the pandemic, the attitude of both the Centre and the state government regarding the salaries and security of the employees in many hospitals in Delhi has not been right,” said a statement by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), which also took part in the protest.

The workers alleged that they have not received their salaries for months.

“During the lockdown, we were asked not to come and for two months we didn’t receive any salary. But even after we joined back and started working in covid wards, we didn’t receive any salary. So we had to raise our voice,” said Sudha, one of the protesters.

Meanwhile, Surya Prakash, the President of AICCTU, who was present at the protest, blamed the government for their negligence over the issue.

“Since the beginning of August, the campaign has been carried out by the workers and employees of different sectors. But the government is not listening. Labour laws are being abolished at a rapid pace. The AICCTU appeals to the justice-loving and democratic people of Delhi to stand firm against the attacks on the people and ensure their participation in the struggle to save the country,” he said.

A week ago, dozens of aggrieved protesters had gathered outside the LHMC, a dedicated Covid-19 facility, and protested against the hospital administration. They said that over 75 Multi Tasking Staff (MTS) at the hospital were “illegally” asked to leave from August onwards.

However, the Delhi High Court had dismissed their termination after hearing the matter on July 31.

The court had also directed a senior official of the Health Ministry to look into the matter and submit a report before the next date of hearing on October 5.

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