TUESDAY Alibaba founder Jack Ma missing for two months 05 JANUARY, 2021 Ma is under the Chinese govt’s scrutiny since the suspension of Ant Group’s $37-bn IPO epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard SKIPPED FINAL EPISODE OF HIS OWN SHOW Curiously, the abrupt suspension of the IPO came a month after Jack Ma publicly criticised Chinese regulators for “lagging the times”. While Ma has not been seen in public for the past two months, reports say he did not even show up for the final episode of his own talent show, Africa’s Business Heroes, and an Alibaba executive had taken his place BENGAL SHOE HURLED AT BJP CONVOY BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s vehicle was the target during a roadshow PAGE 8 A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 Different Oxford jab dosing for tests and actual rollout in India S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Narendra Tomar and Som Prakash observe 2-minute silence in memory of farmers who died during the ongoing protest | PTI Talks fail again on repeal pitch, next meet on Fri Both sides refuse to yield, unions say they are unifocal on withdrawal of three laws EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi/Chandigarh THE seventh round of talks between the Centre and farmers ended in a stalemate on Monday as both sides stuck to their positions on the issue of repeal of the three contentious farm laws. While the two sides agreed to meet again on Friday, the farmers said they would hold a meeting on Tuesday to discuss ways to intensify their protest. Sources said the talks began with the government categorically stating the laws cannot be repealed but amendments can be made, if needed. The unions rejected this saying their demand of repeal of the farm laws is non-negotiable. The government, then, attempted to hold discussions on the MSP, but the protesters would have none of it as they insisted the government must first address their demand to repeal the objectionable laws. The bitterness continued during the lunch that followed, with the farmers refusing to break bread with the ministers. “You eat your food, we will eat ours,” sources quoted the union leaders as saying. This is in a sharp contrast to the camaraderie displayed on December 30, when agriculture minister Narendra Tomar and commerce minister Piyush Goyal shared the food brought by the farmers. “The government repeated everything and asked us for a point-wise discussion. Our demand is that there can no negotiations on repealing the new laws,” f ar m leader Harmeet Kadiyan said. “The government claimed many farm organizations were supporting the laws while we mentioned that an RTI has revealed the laws were passed without discussion with any farmer organization. We will go ahead with our programmes scheduled between January 6 and 20,” he added. Sources said it was Minister of State for Industries Som Parkash who convinced the farm union leaders to agree to meet again on January 8. After the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “The fact that the farmers are talking to us shows that they trust the government. We are hopeful all issues would be resolved after the next meeting.” Harinder Singh Lakhowal of BKU Punjab said the only agenda for the January 8 meeting is the repeal of laws. Hannan Mollah of All India Kisan Sabha said, “The agitation will not be withdrawn unP5&7 til laws are repealed.” A day after the drug regulator greenlighted Covishield, a vaccine against Covid-19 produced by Serum Institute of India that could be the mainstay of the country’s immunisation drive at least initially, it emerged that the approval was for a dosing regimen that has not tested in India so far. In the phase 2 and 3 trial design of the vaccine, originally developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford University two doses were , given 28 days or four weeks apart in India. But the regulator accorded permission for the second dose to be administered 4-12 weeks apart in its letter to the company . Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin were granted restricted emergency use (REU) authorisation in India on Sunday. “The second dose should be administered between 4 to 6 weeks after the first dose,” the Drug Controller General of India’s letter said. “However there is data available for administration of the second dose up to 12 weeks after the first dose from the overseas studies,” the letter added. Experts pointed out that by allowing duration flexibility of up to 12 weeks, the regulator just followed the UK permission model to AstraZeneca’s vaccine. “Clearly, a lot of rules have been relaxed in granting the REU to the vaccine and this may also be one of them,” said an ICMR scientist who did not FROM March 2020 till November, the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi spent `71.17 cr (`7117.64 lakh) towards novel coronavirus, reveals the institute on queries through Right to Information Act. An RTI query filed by this correspondent, AIIMS Finance Division responded with a break-up without many details that the ‘head expenditure’ over Covid-19-related purposes stood at `7,117 lakh. The amount is divided in two categories: M & E (Monitoring and Evaluation) which is ` 2,368.91 lakh (`23.68 cr) and M & S (Maintenance & Support) which is `4,748.73 lakh (`47.48 cr). As per the reply to the query over funds received from the Centre for assistance on expenditure related to Covid-19, the administration said “no separate funds/grant was provided by a ministry for COVID 19.” “At present the institutes may meet their funds requirements from normal budgetary provisions,” it said in a reply . However, as per the reply the , Ministry of Health and Family Welfare under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana had said that the additional financial support to the indi- WHY REGULATORY NOD TO VACCINES IS UNDER PUBLIC SCRUTINY COVISHIELD Serum Institute of India submitted immunogenicity data of only about 185 people from phase 2 trial wish to be named. “Normally, vaccines or drugs are approved under the same dosing schedule under which they have been tested in the country .” In the UK, the regulators decided to give the Oxford vaccine to people as one shot, followed by another up to 12 weeks later to extend protection to as many people as possible. But experts questioned the decision since there isn’t sufficient evidence to extend the time between injections to 12 weeks. In India, SII presented to the regulator only the immunogenicity data from 185 of the proposed 400 volunteers as part of its phase 2 trial and no efficacy data from phase 3 trial, as per publicly P7 available information. No efficacy data from the vaccine’s phase 3 trial in India Dosing schedule with 4-12 week gap permitted but the vaccine has been tested at a gap of only four weeks in India so far COVAXIN Current enrolment for phase 3 trial is around 22,000 but no phase 3 efficacy data available or submitted The regulator said that the rollout of the vaccine will be in ‘clinical trial mode’ but there is no explanation yet on what it means A claim is being propagated that the Whole-Virion inactivated vaccine will be effective against mutations but this is not being supported by any evidence Fierce fightback by Bharat Biotech, says it doesn’t deserve the backlash EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi BHARAT Biotech’s head Krishna Ella, whose Covaxin has been approved for restricted use as a Covid-19 jab, hit out at critics on Monday, including competitor Serum Institute of India’s (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla, saying his firm did not deserve the backlash. Poonawalla on Sunday had said that vaccines by only Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca had proven efficacy while all other vac, cines including Covaxin, were “safe, just like water”. Addressing a virtual press conference, Ella said his company had carried out “200 per cent honest clinical trials”, had an established track record of producing 16 safe and efficacious vaccines, and was transparent with all data. As for Poonawalla’s barb, he said, “Covaxin has shown less than 10% adverse reactions, while others have 60-70% adverse reactions. AstraZeneca was giving 4g paracetamol to volunteers to suppress such reactions. We haven’t given paracetamol to any volunteer,” ANI quoted him as saying. I don’t know what is back up, there is no back up. People should be responsible in giving statements like these Krishna Ella critiquing AIIMS, Delhi boss Randeep Guleria’s remark Amid concerns regarding Covaxin’s efficacy, Ella said it is safe and the company is conducting trials in more than 12 countries apart from India. Taking a nationalistic pitch, he said, “I don’t know why Indian companies are targeted by everyone in the world.” Tearing apart Poonawalla’s claim that his risk in stockpiling 500 million doses of Covishield had paid off, Ella said it was his company that had actually taken the biggest risk. UK judge blocks extradition of ‘suicidal’ Julian Assange to US I-T conducts searches on Zee Group offices Mumbai: Income tax officials on Monday conducted a search and survey on the offices of media firm Zee Group for alleged tax evasion. Confirming the development, a company spokesperson stated, “Officials from the tax department have visited our offices, with certain queries. Our officials are providing all the required information”. The surveys were done at all offices of the Group. vidual institutes to meet their expenses on these counts would be provided later. Also, for dealing with the pandemic crisis related to accessibility for ICU beds with ventilators, the AIIMS did not have to purchase any ventilators for Covid treatment from March till November last year. In an RTI query AIIMS was , asked as to how many ventilators were purchased from March 2020 till November and the purchase price of each ventilator. The authorities replied that the hospital store has not purchased any ventilators from that period. CONTINUED ON P4 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE WHITE AS SNOW A jeep moves on a hail covered field after rain in Rajasthan’s Sikar on Monday. Rain was reported in Delhi-NCR | PTI TESTING STATUS 30,296 RTPCR/CBNAAT/ TrueNat tests conducted 89,26,806 Total tests done so far 4,69,831 Tests per million DELHI COVID WATCH STATUS OF CASES Today Cumulative RECOVERED 727 6,11,970 DEATH 12 10,597 ACTIVE CASES -4,689 TOTAL +VE CASES 384 6,27,256 PATIENT MANAGEMENT Total beds Occupied Vacant HOSPITAL 14,013 1,805 12,208 CARE CENTRE 7922 47 7,749* HEALTH CENTRE 562 27 535 2,426 HOME ISOLATION *126 beds of CCC are occupied by persons under quarantine including travellers who came by Vande Bharat Mission and Bubble flights Source: Delhi health bulletin | January 4 ANGER JHARKHAND CM’S CONVOY ATTACKED IN RANCHI Cops took prompt action and Hemant Soren was taken away safely by diverting his vehicle on a different route PAGE 8 Search for abducted man leads BSF to culvert at India-Bangladesh border P R A S A N TA M A Z U M D A R @ Guwahati THE Border Security Force (BSF) has sealed a 200-metrelong culvert after its discovery on the India-Bangladesh border in Assam. The passage, which leads to the other side of the international border, was discovered by the police and the BSF during a search for an abducted man in Assam’s Karimganj district. It was covered under plants and shrubs. The BSF suspects the crimi- BSF and police teams inspect the site where the 200-metre-long culvert was found near the India-Bangladesh border in Assam’s Karimganj district | EXPRESS “We were not paid any money either by the Gates Foundation or the government but we still thought it was our moral responsibility to work on a Covid-19 vaccine and produced 20 million doses under risk manufacturing,” he said. SII has entered into a partnership with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to deliver up to 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines for India and other low- and middle-income countries. WIKILEAKS EXPRESS READ AIIMS spent over `71 crore till Nov on Covid, no separate funds from Centre S O M R I TA G H O S H @ New Delhi CHINESE AUTHORITIES AFTER MA’S EMPIRE Ant Group IPO, which was to be simultaneously listed on Shanghai and Hong Kong bourses on November 5, 2020 and was touted as the world’s biggest — was halted 48 hours before going public. China’s regulatory authorities are probing Alibaba, which has been asked to rejig its lending and other consumer finance operations nals used the passage for carrying out smuggling and other crimes. “It’s a culvert laid out there and not a tunnel. It has been sealed (on the Indian side) following its discovery by the police and BSF personnel,” a senior BSF official said. It was not immediately known who had laid it out and when. “It is a river sandbar area. We don’t know the extent of its use by the criminals. We are investigating,” the BSF official added. Dilwar Hossain, a resident of Shilua village in Karimganj, was abducted on December 28 last year. After an FIR was lodged by her family the police , launched an operation in search of the man and it led them to the site. The abductors took Hossain to Bangladesh through the culvert and demanded `5 lakh as ransom. When his family, as advised by the police, agreed to pay the amount, the abductors engaged a local in Karimganj district to receive the money but he fell in the police net. Hossain was later released by his abductors. He told the police that the miscreants often use the culvert to carry out criminal activities. Sources said there are some “gaps” on the international border in Karimganj and the BSF is working towards filling them. Cattle-lifting by Bangladeshi criminals is common in Karimganj. In June last year, three men were beaten to death by villagers who claimed the Bangladeshis had crossed over to steal cows. A British court on Monday junked the US’ plea to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, citing the risk of suicide if the 49-year-old Australian is sent to US custody where , he could face up to 175 years in jail for publishing classified military information and diplomatic cables. “I have decided that extradition would be oppressive and I order his discharge,” District Judge Vanessa Baraitser at the Old Bailey court in London said in her ruling. Assange was diagnosed in December 2019 with recurrent depressive disorder, which was sometimes accompanied by hallucinations and thoughts of suicide, the judge said. Since he was arrested at the Ecuadorean embassy in London in April 2019, Assange has been held in London’s HMP Belmarsh prison. He was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail back in 2012. Although he served the whole sentence, he was not released as the extradition case was going on. The US has said it would appeal judge Baraitser’s ruling. This means Assange is not likely to be freed from prison right away . Assange’s lawyers argued he was acting as a journalist. The US claims the WikiLeaks founder conspired with an army analyst to access a classified military computer. Assange has denied this charge and claimed there is no evidence to show anyone’s safety was put at risk.
Express Network Private Limited publishes thirty three E-paper editions of The New Indian Express newspaper , thirty two E-paper editions of Dinamani, one E-paper edition of The Morning Standard, one E-paper edition of Malayalam Vaarika magazine and one E-paper edition of the Indulge - The Morning Standard, Kolkatta.