SATURDAY KERALA ON HIGH ALERT OVER FLOOD, CYCLONE THREATS MAY, 2021 With heavy rains pounding Kerala for the past two days, the state govt has started evacuating people from low-lying areas 15 epaper.morningstandard.in ALBIN MATHEW RAINS LASH STATE, SEA SWALLOWS HOUSES facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard While non-stop rains have led to waterlogging and uprooting of trees, high waves and sea incursion damaged several houses in coastal hamlets across the state. Chellanam, a coastal village in Ernakulam district, which is already reeling under Covid load with test positivity rate way above the state average, was among the worsthit as tidal waves entered homes SHOOTOUT IN JAIL THREE CRIMINALS DIE IN GUNFIGHT Incident takes place in high-security barrack of Chitrakoot jail in UP A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 SOUTHWEST MONSOON TO ARRIVE A DAY EARLIER THAN ITS NORMAL ONSET Gulf between projection Govt working day and night, says PM and production capacity M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi Experts not sure of Centre’s promise of 2 bn vax doses by year-end S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi A day after the promise by the Union government, that over two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be available in India in the last five months of 2021, experts expressed scepticism over the numbers, saying that they look “impractical”, if not “impossible”. The country right now produces 2.3 million doses of vaccine daily, but the figures projected by the gover nment suggest that this will rise sixfold between August-December. In a press briefing on Thursday , V K Paul, member of Niti Aayog, who also heads the National Covid-19 task force, said 216 billion doses of vaccines are set to be available between AugustDecember, enough for nearly 95 crore of the adult population. Projected figures include 75 crore doses of Covishield, 55 crore doses of Covaxin and 15.6 crore doses of Sputnik V local , production for which will begin in July The estimates also . include 30 crore doses of vaccine by BioE, 5 crore doses of Zydus Cadila vaccine, 20 crore doses of Novavax by Serum Institute of India, 10 crore doses of Bharat Biotech-Washington University’s nasal vaccine and 6 crore doses of Gennova vaccine. All these are still in various phases of clinical trials. Those tracking Covid vaccine developments, however, have a concern. How can production be ramped up so quickly? “It’s an ambitious target. I would be happily surprised if it is achieved, but I’m not sure how it will happen,” said microbiologist and immunologist Sudhanshu Vrati. According to R Ramakumar, economist with Tata Institute of Social Sciences, as per the projections, SII will have to raise the production of Covishield by nearly three times NATIONWIDE MAY 13 MAY 14 Fresh cases 3,62,727 3,43,144 Recoveries 3,52,181 3,44,776 Deaths 4,120 4,000 JAB-O-METER April 13 TAKE YOUR SHOT April 14 19,75,176 doses 10,79,759 doses TOTAL DOSES: 18,04,29,261 DELHI COVID WATCH MAY 13 MAY 14 Positive cases 10,489 8,506 Recovery 15,189 14,140 Active cases 77,717 71,794 Deaths 308 289 Containment zones 57,550 56,470 Tests 73,675 68,575 Positivity rate 14.24% 12.40% per day. “SII is already struggling to meet the promise of 3.3 million doses of Covishield per day by July How are they going . to make 6.4 million doses per day by December?” To meet the target of 55 crore doses of Covaxin in five months, 3.7 million doses will have to be produced per day Ra, makumar also pointed out, wondering how will that be possible, given that the three un- dertakings the government has tied up with for production, will not start producing soon. Vrati said, given that the undertakings roped in include BIBCOL, a firm which has no experience of vaccine manufacturing, it may take 36 — not 6 months — before it can start shelling out the vaccine. “Even if work starts on a war footing to create biosafety level 3 labs in these companies required for Covaxin production, it may take six months for the batches to roll out from these plants”. It’s not only experts raising doubts. The government, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court last week, said Covaxin production per day will rise from 0.3 million doses to 3.3 million “in the next 8-10 months”. It’s not only about capacity escalation of these two, most others projected to be available are yet to even prove their efficacy “These vaccines first have . to show trial results and get regulatory approvals,” said K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India. “The government must have had discussions with manufacturers before coming up with the projections. Let’s wait and see,” he concluded. IN his first public comment after the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the world is facing an invisible enemy and that “every government department is working day and night to ease the pain of the nation”. “India is not a nation that loses hope in tough times. This challenge will be overcome with strength and dedication,” said the Prime Minister, while interacting with farmers on the occasion of transferring the eighth instalment of PM-Kisan Nidhi scheme. At the same time, he cautioned the farmers against the spread of the pandemic in rural areas. The Prime Minister’s remarks that “India isn’t a nation that loses hope in tough times” seemingly came at a time when the Centre and the states are seen sparring over the availability of vaccines, while there is an unending political slugfest over high fatalities and lack of medical support to the affected people. While the Prime Minister refrained from fixing accountability for lapses, leading to an explosive second wave of the pandemic, he stuck to the theme that the Centre and states are closely dealing with the situation. “The Central government and all the state gover nments together are making continuous efforts to enable more and more countrymen to get vaccinated at a rapid pace. While around 18 crore vaccine doses have been given across the country, free vaccination is being done in government hospitals across the country,” said the Prime Minister, in a counter to the criticism of the Centre’s policy decision that the states will have to procure vaccines for the 18-44 age group of people. While the Prime Minister as a routine had been live streaming his remarks during the video conferences with the chief ministers, he had withheld broadcast of his com- The Central government and all the state governments together are making continuous efforts to enable more and more countrymen to get vaccinated at a rapid pace Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Kejriwal promises free education for Covid orphans, assistance for families EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi CHIEF Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Friday that the Delhi government will bear the cost of raising and educating children who have lost their parents to Covid-19. He said he was there for these children and that they are not orphans. The government will also extend financial help to families and senior citizens who have lost earning members in the pandemic. “The last few days have gone in despair. Despite several efforts, we could not save our people of Delhi. Some families had to face the deaths of more than one person. I know of many kids who lost both their parents. They have no one left. I went to tell such kids that I can understand their grief, but not to worry you are , not orphans. I am there for you,” Kejriwal said. “No child will have to leave their education in between. Education will be provide d t o eve r y ch i l d . T h e government will take the responsibility (of these children). There have been many old people with young children who used to earn. Now, those earning children are no longer alive. I want to tell all such old people that you have lost your kids and I feel extremely sorry But this son of . yours is alive. All those families who have lost an earning member will be helped by the government,” he said. Kejriwal urged neighbours and relatives to be empathetic towards the aggrieved families. “The two crore people of Delhi, we are a family In these . times of despair, we need to help each other,” he said. “Even now ICU beds in Delhi are almost full. Your government is working in this direction. Around 1,200 new ICU beds are now ready to be utilised,” added the CM. EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi A Delhi Police Crime Branch team on Friday questioned Indian Youth Congress (IYC) president Srinivas BV over Covid-related material, including medicines and oxygen cylinders, being provided by him to people. The team reached the IYC headquarters, questioned Srinivas for about 20 minutes and sought details of the source of his supplies. The questioning was done following a Delhi High Court order, the police said. The court had on May 4 directed the police to examine politicians allegedly procuring and distributing Remdesivir and take steps for lodging FIRs in case of an offence. BJP leaders, including East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir and Delhi unit spokesperson Harish Khurana, who have also been questioned by police in connection with distribution of relief material, said the issue should not be politicised. “The police called me and came to my office. They said someone filed a petition in the court against politicians helping people and providing Covid assistance. Following the court’s direction, they have to conduct an enquiry said Srini,” vas. “We are not scared of anyone. We are not doing anything wrong, we are saving people’s lives. We have nothing to hide. I have answered them orally and am also giving a written statement,” he said. Gambhir said he, too, had been questioned. “Opposition should not indulge in needless politicisation. Three days ago, Delhi Police came to my office in Jagriti Enclave and enquired about how medicines and other essentials were arranged. I provided all details in writing, like where medicines, oxygen cylinders or concentrators were purchased from. We also shared details of the distribution process.” Supreme Court advocate Krishna Kumar Sharma said it’s a matter of normal questioning and valid in the eyes of the law. “But this type of probe acts as a deterrent for people doing selfless work for the public,” he said. “Police is entitled to enquire and satisfy itself that such actions do not involve profiteering or artificial shortage. However, if they escalate the matter and that prevents those acting for public good from filling the void brought about by the government’s failure, it would be unlawful,” said Supreme Court advocate K V Dhananjay . 74 DEATHS IN GOA HOSPITAL IN FOUR DAYS NEED OF THE HOUR Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal visits the newly-constructed Covid care centre at Ramlila Maidan on Friday | PTI BEYOND DUTY IAS officer’s ‘operation oxygen’ saves lives R A J E S H K U M A R T H A K U R @ Patna A 2011-batch IAS officer has led an eight-hour ‘operation oxygen’ and saved the lives of 250 Covid-patients in Bihar’s Purnia district. On May 12, the district’s medical oxygen supply to hospitals was hardly enough to last a day. At stake were the lives of 250 Covid patients, who were on oxygen support, 40 of them on the ventilator. It was around 7 am when IAS officer Rahul Kumar, District Magistrate of Purnia, got an SOS on the abysmal level of oxygen available in hospitals. “Those were the toughest few hours,” says Kumar. “We had to optimise internal resources and I had to alert some First dose of Sputnik V administered in Hyderabad @ Hyderabad CRISIS State government sets up three-member probe panel, authorities complain of logistical problem with oxygen cylinders | P7 A beneficiary receives the Sputnik V vaccine in Hyderabad on Friday | EXPRESS EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE OPINION DIVIDED Congress, BJP spar over police enquiry into source of relief material ments in the last such meeting on April 23, after the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had aired his remarks. Modi will be speaking to 100 district magistrates on May 18 and 20. “The government is fighting Covid-19 with all its might and ensuring that every department is working day and night to ease the pain of the nation,” remarked the Prime Minister in a clear attempt to address the criticism that the Central ministries aren’t seen in action to deal with the crisis. The Prime Minister, incidentally, sought to give an account of the works being done by the various ministries of the Centre, which included the armed forces lending their weight to open hospitals, railways facilitating transport of oxygen and the availability of medicines being closely monitored. friends and colleagues posted in Katihar, Kishanganj and Supual as DMs and members of my dedicated district teams,” he recollects. Upon reaching the Sadar Hospital, he was told that the lone oxygen plant in Purnia had developed snags and supply had not reached from Bhagalpur. “I saw patients on oxygen support. I was told many were wandering around with empty cylinders. This was the time when I had to work on a war footing.” Kumar converted a part of the Sadar Hospital into a ‘war room’ and contacted neighbouring districts. Everybody Purnia District Magistrate Rahul Kumar at the temporary control room | EXPRESS got to know about it and panic spread. The DM’s first task was to stop rumour-mongering and panic. Kumar started making urgent appeals to all “Unused oxygen cylinders were rushed to Purnia from subdivision hospitals of the city DMs of .” neighbouring districts rushed to help. The director of Mata Gujari Memorial Medical College in Kishanganj, Dilip Jaiswal, sent the first 10 cylinders and then 30 jumbo cylinders to Purnia. This was followed by supplies from Katihar, Kishanganj and Supaul. The DM also contacted other hospitals in Purnia and arranged 100 cylinders. “All these were provided to the hospitals,” he said. DR Reddy’s Laboratories administered the first dose of Sputnik V vaccine in Hyderabad on Friday, a day after getting regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory . It received its first consignment of doses on May 1 and was waiting for clearance from the laboratory in Kasauli. Further consignments of imported doses are expected in coming months. Subsequently , supply of the Sputnik V vaccine will commence in collaboration with Indian manufacturing partners. The imported doses are presently priced at an MRP of `948, plus 5% GST per dose, with the possibility of a lower price point when local supply begins. The company is working closely with its six manufacturing partners in India to fulfil the regulatory requirements to ensure timely supply . Dr Reddy’s will work with stakeholders in the government and private sector to ensure the widest possible reach of the Sputnik V vaccine as part of the national inoculation effort. This is a reaffirmation of the company’s commitment to explore every avenue in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the country . GV Prasad, Co-Chairman and Managing Director, said: “With the rising cases in India, vaccination is our most effective tool against Covid-19. Contributing to the vaccination drive in India is our biggest priority right now to help Indians be healthy and safe.” Weeklong lockdown announced in Sikkim Gangtok: The Sikkim government on Friday decided to clamp a complete lockdown across the state from May 17 to 24 keeping in mind the surge in cases during the ongoing partial lockdown. Ration shops, state government offices will be closed.
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