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India is ‘very inspiring’; its research, manufacturing critical to fighting Covid-19: Bill Gates

He also said although the RT-PCR test has high specificity, a lot of challenge is about the logistics.

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Bill Gates Covid Vaccine

India’s research and manufacturing will be critical to fighting Covid-19 especially for making vaccines on a large scale, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said on Monday.

Addressing the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2020, Gates delved upon the difficulties in vaccine development and diagnostics of Covid-19.

The American business magnate said India is “very inspiring” as it has made huge strides in improving the health of its people in the last two decades.

“And now, India’s research and manufacturing will be critical to fighting Covid-19 especially when it comes to making vaccines at large scale,” he said.
Gates said scientists all over the world are involved in a particular ‘grand challenge’ — ending the current pandemic.

He said researchers are breaking down silos and rather than waiting to go through the publication process, they are sharing data on a daily basis.

“Since the pandemic began, scientists have shared 1,37,000 viral COVID-19 genomic sequences,” the Microsoft Corp co-founder said. Even the pharmaceutical companies are cooperating on production ways that really have never been seen before, he added.

Talking about the challenges in vaccine development, he said mRNA vaccine is an area where many have seen “great promises”.

“Probably, the first approved vaccine for COVID-19 will be mRNA,” he said but added that the vaccine cannot be counted on alone because it is very hard to scale up and has a logistical problem because it requires a proper cold chain.

Gates expressed hope that the mRNA platform matures in the years ahead so that its vaccines can be scaled up that can bring down the costs as well the cold chain requirement.

He also stressed on the need for innovation in diagnostics platforms.

“Even when sometimes people are tested, results come back negative because some of the tests are not sensitive to the small nano virus,” he said, adding, this also leads to infection.

“So, the diagnostics are letting us down,” Gates said, stressing on the asymptomatic nature of the infection.

“Right now, the current business model is identifying people with symptoms and we need to change that. We need sensitive and specific diagnostic tests which matter and we need to make it easy to access,” he said.

He also said although the RT-PCR test has high specificity, a lot of challenge is about the logistics.

Gates suggested that there should be test kits that can be spread out into the community and can be stocked in medicine cabinets, community centres and pharmacies.

On cooperation by the scientific fraternity, he noted that international teams of scientists are collaborating with full speed on the vaccine clinical trials.

“One or more of these vaccines will be available by early next year and as there will be multiples vaccines, it is necessary to make sure to understand how exactly and where to use each of them,” he said.

Gates said the pace of science in fighting the pandemic has been remarkable.

“But despite all this work, right now, as fast as the science has moved…the pandemic is still ahead of us. The first COVID-19 vaccine will probably be the fastest that humans have ever gone from identifying the new disease to be able to immunise against it,” he said.

“Still we all know this virus has managed to plunge the entire global economy into a deep recession,” he added.

Disaster

US sets record with 225,201 single-day Covid-19 cases

The country on Wednesday had set a world record of single-day case count, as 196,227 new cases were reported and hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Washington, Dec 5 : Setting a new grim record, the US reported 225,201 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic in the country, currently the worst-hit in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The new figure on Friday increased the overall caseload to 14,343,430, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update on Saturday.

In the same period, the country also reported 2,506 new fatalities, which increased the total coronavirus death toll to 278,605, according to the CSSE.

The two tallies are the highest in the world.

The country on Wednesday had set a world record of single-day case count, as 196,227 new cases were reported and hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

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Kerala on high alert for Cyclone Burevi: Vijayan

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Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 2 : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said that the state is on a high alert in view of Cyclone Burevi.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi called to find out about the state’s preparedness. We informed him that all possible steps have been taken… we are waiting for more weather updates and accordingly the necessary action would be taken,” he said.

Vijayan said that according to the present updates, it is expected to enter Kerala by Friday noon.

“Districts like Thiruvananthapuruam, Kollam, Pathanamthittta, Kottayam, Alappuzha Ernakulam and Idukki districts could have the impact of very heavy rains besides heavy winds also. People should not venture out at all. The seas also would turn very rough. Winds with speed ranging from 30 kms to 60 kms are also expected,” he added.

Vijayan said that eight teams of the National Disaster Rescue Force have already arrived, besides the Air Force base at Sulu, near Kovai is already on high alert, while the Indian Navy also is ready.

“In case of a need, we have identified 2,849 relief camps and by now 13 are already functional. If the situation warrants, depending on the weather updates, people will be evacuated. All the district authorities have been told to take appropriate action depending on the needs and none need to wait for clearance. The ongoing Sabarimala pilgrimage will be regulated, if a situation arises,” he said.

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Amid cyclones, Andhra Police lends hand to disaster management

Policemen also took boats from the Fisheries Department to reach out to stranded people and also engaged the local revenue officials to supply food.

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Cyclone Nisarga

Amaravati: In the recent heavy rains, floods and very severe cyclonic storm Nivar, Andhra Pradesh Police was on the forefront to save lives, feed stranded people and bring order amid the chaos, officers said.

The state witnessed torrential downpours in October and November powered by back-to-back cyclones, resulting in almost all the water bodies overflowing, causing much trouble to the common man and farmers alike.

Amidst these conditions, police personnel from constables to Superintendents of Police were working round the clock to help people.

“We had deployed almost 1,500 people from the district force for cyclone duties. We also got one platoon of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). We were deployed continuously for almost 72 hours,” Prakasam’s Superintendent of Police Siddharth Kaushal told IANS.

Amid incessant rain, policemen were deployed at all spots where the streams and water bodies were overflowing, at coastal villages, and to assist the district administration in evacuation.

“We assisted district administration in crowd control. At least 10 rescue operations were carried out in the district to save lives,” said Kaushal.

The SP said a special control and command post, equipped with radio communication, was set up in case mobile phones stopped working.

“Even till today (Monday) morning, we had deployed police in some places, preventing vehicles going in certain roads which were still under water,” he said.

Policemen also took boats from the Fisheries Department to reach out to stranded people and also engaged the local revenue officials to supply food.

In Nellore district, which bore the brunt of Nivar, along with Chittoor and Kadapa, three policemen carried a two-month-old baby to safety in Nellore town.

Policemen manned the Midatalavagu, a water body in spate near Kondapuram village to secure people and their movement.

They also monitored the rainwater inflows and outflows at Somasila dam where three gates were opened.

On National Highway 16 (NH 16), near Janardhan Reddy colony in Nellore, police supervised repairs to the road to prevent disruption of vehicle movement.

In similar fashion, police have also enabled the repair of a damaged bridge near Baghat Singh colony on NH 16 and also cleared many trees which were uprooted.

They also rescued two farmers from the middle of a raging water body after they were stuck there.

Not just the elements, police were also compelled to battle rumours.

On Monday, a Nellore district police official busted some rumours circulating claiming that the Kundaleru dam was breached.

–IANS

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