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Zee Media says 28 staffers test positive for Covid-19, studio sealed

At the moment, Zee Media Corporation Ltd has 2,500 employees, by far the largest in the private sector. “We are committed to the safety of each one of them,” the statement said.

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Zee News

Noida, May 18 : Zee Media said on Monday that 28 employees have tested positive for Covid-19 and its office, newsroom and studios here have been sealed.

“The global pandemic has now become a personal story for Zee Media. Last Friday, one of our colleagues tested positive for Covid-19. As a responsible organisation, we initiated mass testing of all those who could have been in direct or indirect contact with the said individual,” Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief, Zee News said in a statement.

“So far 28 of our team mates have tested positive. Fortunately, most of them are asymptomatic and not complaining of any discomfort. We believe this is because of early diagnosis and pro-active intervention,” the statement said.

“We are following the best practices to break the cycle and contain the infection, in coordiation with all government and health authorities. All health protocols and official guidelines are being followed,” Chaudhary announced.

“Our office, newsroom and studios have been sealed for sanitisation. The Zee News team has been shifted to an alternative facility for the time being,” he said.

The testing of the rest of the employees will continue. The ICMR too has relaxed its testing norms to allow it to test asymptomatic individuals who might be Covid-19 positive and carriers of the disease.

“This might lead to a greater number of Covid-19 cases being identified, isolated and treated. We believe this is the best way to fight the pandemic,” Chaudhary said.

Since Noida has lot of containment zones, aggressive testing, isolation and treatment is the only way to ensure the safety of teammates, he added.

At the moment, Zee Media Corporation Ltd has 2,500 employees, by far the largest in the private sector. “We are committed to the safety of each one of them,” the statement said.

“These are challenging times but Covid-19 has not been able to shake the morale of the team. Zee Media is raring to go, as always. We assure our viewers that our fearless coverage will continue. Such challenges will not be able break our resolve to discharge our duties with utmost sincerity and unmatched passion. We wish all our employees a speedy recovery,” Zee Media announced.

Disaster

It takes 18 months to develop good vaccine: Ex-ICMR chief

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Vaccine

New Delhi, July 4 : A good vaccine usually takes at least 18 months, before it could be rolled out for production after fast-tracking all the mandatory regulatory approvals, said N.K. Ganguly, former director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

It is expected that India”s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin may be released on August 15 under a fast-track mechanism. According to the government”s top medical research body, a dozen institutes have been selected for clinical trials of the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine (BBV152 COVID vaccine). Ganguly said the strain of the virus was given to BBIL in May end, and in July, human trials have been scheduled.

Elaborating on the lengthy process involved in vaccine development, he insisted that after spending many months and infusing a lot of funds, the uncertainty continues to linger. “It may be difficult to say whether the vaccine is successful or not”, he added.

The ICMR in a letter said, “It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by August 15, after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL (Bharat Biotech International Limited) is working expeditiously to meet the target, however the final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project.”

Before the vaccine is tested on humans, challenge studies are done on mice and monkey, then a toxicology report is prepared, to check if the developed vaccine produces harm to cells, and it takes at least three to four months to finalize this report, said Ganguly. After this phase, the vaccine is tested on two rodents and a large animal and after successful completion of this stage the vaccine is ready for human trials.

“In Phase 1, the age group profiling is done (wherein vaccine study is done on people in different age groups). In Phase 2, nearly 600 to 700 people are vaccinated, and if the vaccine performs successfully in this phase then it progresses into Phase 3, which is called the efficacy study (in this phase, thousands of people are enrolled). Even after fast tracking regulatory approvals, it will take at least 18 months to develop a good vaccine”, said Ganguly.

He insisted that the vaccine being developed by Moderna (RNA vaccine is set to begin Phase 3 trials later this month and targets a vaccine by 2021) and BioNTech-Pfizer (Phase 3 trial is expected to begin in July). Gennova biopharmaceutical is also working on a vaccine and it looks positive, Ganguly added.

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

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Cities

Lightning kills 15 more in Bihar

The meteorological department has issued an alert for thunderstorms in more than a dozen districts, including Patna, Bhojpur, Vaishali and Nalanda in the state.

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Lightning

Patna, July 4 : Fifteen more people lost their lives due to lightning amid heavy rain and thunderstorms in seven districts of Bihar in the last 24 hours.

According to the information received from the districts, 15 persons were killed by lightning during the past 24 hours in the state. Of these, six persons died in Vaishali, two in Lakhisarai, three in Samastipur and one each in Gaya, Banka, Nalanda and Jamui districts.

The meteorological department has issued an alert for thunderstorms in more than a dozen districts, including Patna, Bhojpur, Vaishali and Nalanda in the state.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar has appealed to the people to be vigilant and follow the guidelines issued by the disaster management department for protection against lightning in the inclement weather. He suggested that people stay at home and be safe.

On Thursday, 26 persons died due to lightning striking different districts. These included six in Patna, four in east Champaran, seven in Samastipur, three in Katihar, two each in Shivhar and Madhepura and one each in Purnia and west Champaran districts.

Last Tuesday, 11 persons died as lightning fell in various districts of Bihar while on June 26, 96 persons perished as lightning struck different parts of the state.

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Disaster

Ex-French PM faces probe into COVID-19 response

Philippe’s future as Prime Minister had been in doubt for several weeks and he will now take up the post of mayor in Le Havre, after winning the local vote on Sunday.

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Edouard Philippe

Paris, July 4 : A French court has launched an inquiry into the government”s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, focusing mainly on three senior figures, including former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, following complaints from unions and doctors.

On Friday, Philippe resigned amid a cabinet reshuffle, reports the BBC.

Hours after Philippe”s resignation, it was announced that the Law Court of the Republic, which deals with claims of ministerial misconduct, would open an inquiry into the way his government handled the pandemic.

Along with thilippe, those under investigation include Agnes Buzyn, who stepped down as health minister in February, and her successor Olivier Veran, senior public prosecutor Francois Molin said on Friday.

Philippe’s future as Prime Minister had been in doubt for several weeks and he will now take up the post of mayor in Le Havre, after winning the local vote on Sunday.

His successor, Jean Castex, 55, is little known in France, but he is a senior civil servant and has played a key role in the government”s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, said the BBC report.

On Friday evening, Castex warned in a speech that “the health crisis is, unfortunately, not over” and that “the economic and social crisis is already here”.

France has so far reported 202,673 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 29,875 deaths.

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