'India's vaccinated population very small, shouldn't lift lockdown yet': Virologist Ian Lipkin

News Network
October 10, 2021

The percentage of India's population vaccinated against Covid-19 is very low, renowned virologist Dr W. Ian Lipkin said on Saturday and opined the country does not yet have the sort of safety armour needed to start reopening.

Addressing India Today Conclave 2021, he said that India has the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world which the country should be proud of.

"Serum Institute of India is poised to lead here. I think this is something that India should be proud of and should acknowledge and promote," he said.

About the reopening procedure, Lipkin said that the percentage of India's population that is vaccinated is very small.

"Less than 20 per cent of your population that's vaccinated. Then 30 per cent of your population under the age of 18 are not yet eligible for vaccination. So this means that you don't have the sort of armour that you need to safely reopen in that way," he said.

Warning about the long-term effect of Covid-19, the virologist said that people usually don't talk about it "which I think is going to be extraordinary in terms of its impact," he added.

"These are not people who necessarily have acute disease, they may have an only mild form of it, but they remain permanently or at least for a long period, crippled with cognitive dysfunction, shortness of breath, fatigue. This can represent as many as 30 per cent of people who become infected," Lipkin said.

"These individuals, even if the virus were to magically disappear, might continue to be infected and have a huge impact on their lives for decades to come," he said.

Lipkin said there were many lessons from the Spanish flu of 1918 which have not been carried forward.

"I hope we will revise our approach in the future. But I'm not even confident that this is the worst of potential pandemics. We need to make sure that whatever we've learned here carries forward into the next months and years," he said.

He warned there are several more variants of SARS-CoV-2 which are circulating.

"There are variants, already circulating, don't have names. Will they be more capable of transmission? We don't know. Delta variant seems to be extraordinarily well adapted to spread in humans," Lipkin said.

He said that the world needs to start thinking not only about vaccines to prevent severe disease, but also that can prevent transmission.

"We need to improve our public health infrastructure, be able to track and trace individuals who have been exposed so that we can adopt a ring vaccination strategy, which was so successful in India in eradicating smallpox.

"Masking, even if these masks are not what I would consider state-of-the-art can also be useful. But people need to change the way they think about themselves and others and be less selfish," Lipkin added. 

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News Network
October 23,2021

Jammu, Oct 23: Security has been beefed up across Kashmir ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s maiden visit to the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370 on Saturday, officials said.

They said a thick security cover has been thrown around the BJP office at Jawahar Nagar in the city where Shah is likely to pay a visit.

Similarly, roads leading to Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) have been made off-limits for three days from Saturday as the Union home minister is expected to attend an event there, they added.

It will be Shah’s first visit to Kashmir after the Centre revoked J-K's special status and bifurcated the erstwhile state into union territories in August 2019.

The officials said additional deployment of security forces has been made across the valley, especially in Srinagar.

Official sources said 50 companies of additional paramilitary forces are being inducted into the valley in the wake of the recent spate of civilian killings.

Bunkers manned by paramilitary CRPF have come up in several areas of the city as well in other parts of the valley, the officials said.

They said the aim of constructing new bunkers and putting more personnel on the ground was to cut the free movement of militants.

The officials said barricades have been put up on the roads across the valley, especially in the city, while frisking and checking of people has been intensified.

The mobile internet services on a dozen towers -- mostly in the areas where non-local labourers were killed in the past week -- were snapped three days ago as part of the security measures, they said.

The officials said police have started stringent checking of documents of two-wheelers plying on the roads and many have been seized by police.

However, IGP, Kashmir zone, Vijay Kumar had said these steps were purely related to terror violence.

"Seizing some bikes and shutting down of internet of some towers is purely related to #terror #violence. It has nothing to do with visit of the Hon'ble HM," he tweeted on Thursday. 

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News Network
October 15,2021

Dhaka/New Delhi, Oct 15: The Bangladesh government has promised swift action against those behind attacks on Hindu temples and Durga Puja celebrations amid criticism that the Muslim-majority country hasn't done enough to protect minorities.

Four people were killed in violence after some Hindu temples were vandalised during Durga Puja celebrations, prompting Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to deploy paramilitary force in 22 districts on Thursday.

"The incidents in Comilla are being thoroughly investigated. Nobody will be spared. It doesn't matter which religion they belong to. They will be hunted down and punished," she said while exchanging greetings with the Hindus during an event at Dhakeshwari National Temple in Dhaka, news agency PTI reported.

"We are getting a large amount of information. This is an era of technology and those involved in the incident will definitely be tracked down with the use of the technology," Ms Hasina said.

India has sought action against the people behind the violence unleashed during the Durga Puja celebrations.

Videos on social media show large mobs breaking Durga Puja installations, throwing stones and vandalising Hindu temples. Some show idols of Goddess Durga broken by mobs.

India has called the reports of violence "disturbing". "We have seen disturbing reports of untoward incidents, involving attacks on a religious gathering in Bangladesh. We note the government of Bangladesh has reacted promptly to ensure the control of the situation including deployment of law enforcement machinery," foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, news agency ANI reported.

The authorities in Bangladesh enforced a ban on rallies in Haziganj where officials confirmed the deaths of four people with gunshot wounds, adding that two others were critically injured in the clashes, PTI reported.

According to officials in Bangladesh, the police were alerted about an alleged blasphemy incident at a Durga Puja pavilion in Cumilla, about 100 km from Dhaka, after which an investigation was launched. However, violence erupted after a mob attacked temples in parts of Cumilla, neighbouring Haziganj, northwestern coastal sub-districts of Hatia and Banskhali. Social media was used largely to instigate the communal tensions.

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News Network
October 25,2021

New Delhi, Oct 25: Kolkata-based business tycoon Sanjiv Goenka's RPSG Group claimed the Lucknow franchise for a whopping Rs 7,090 crore while international equity investment firm CVC Capital won the bid for Ahmedabad with a Rs 5,600 crore offer as the eagerly-awaited two new IPL teams were unveiled in Dubai on Monday, PTI reported.

The BCCI was expecting a windfall in the range of Rs 10,000 crore but to their surprise, earned Rs 12,690 crore from the two new teams that will take part in the 2022 IPL.

"Yes, RPSG had the highest bid of INR 7090 crore while CVC had the second highest bid at Rs 5600 crore. The BCCI stand to earn around $1.7 billion from the deal," a senior BCCI source present in Dubai told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

IPL will be a 10-team league from 2022. The two cities were favourites in terms of stadium capacity as Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera has more than 100,000 capacity while the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow has 70,000 capacity. The other cities in the hunt are Indore, Guwahati, Cuttack, Dharamsala and Pune.

"For BCCI and the cricket world, the addition of two new IPL teams -- Lucknow and Ahmedabad -- is a great value addition. It is a great achievement for us. UP got its first team & Ahmedabad also got a team, they've the best stadiums," said BCCI Vice-President Rajeev Shukla.

"We're extremely happy that Indian cricket is growing forward. That is what is important for us. We look at Indian cricket and that's what our job is. The more Indian cricket prosperous, the better it is," said BCCI President Sourav Ganguly on the addition of two new IPL teams

The mega auction for the 15th edition of the Indian Premier League, IPL 2022, will be held later this year in December.

22 companies had picked up tender document worth Rs 10 lakh but with base price for new teams pegged at Rs 2,000 crore, there were expected to be only five to six serious bidders in fray.

The BCCI had also allowed a consortium of up to three companies/individuals to bid for a franchise.

However, in case of an individual or company, that particular entity's annual turnover should be minimum Rs 3,000 crore and in case of consortium, each of the three entities should have an annual turnover of Rs 2,500 crore.

Goenka owned the Pune Franchise Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) for two years and is also the owner of ISL franchise ATK Mohun Bagan.

There has been buzz that Lancer group, which is owned by Manchester United owner Avram Glazer, has also picked up the bid document. Gautam Adani and his Adani Group were also expected to bid for the Ahmedabad franchise.

The other notable companies which are in fray comprise Kotak group, pharmaceutical majors Aurobindo Pharma and Torrent group.

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