Will Centre spend Rs 80,000 crore to provide covid-19 vaccine for every Indian, asks SII

News Network
September 26, 2020

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Mumbai, Sept 26: Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said that it could well be a whopping Rs 80,000 crore to purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccine for every Indian, highlighting the challenge and indicating the tough road ahead for the government.

“Quick question; will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that's what the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle,” Poonawalla tweeted.

In the social media post, the SII chief tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“I ask this question, because we need to plan and guide, vaccine manufacturers both in India and overseas to service the needs of our country in terms of procurement and distribution,” said Poonawalla, who heads the world’s largest vaccine maker.

The SII has partnered with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to manufacture the experimental Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford.

It has registered for Phase II/III clinical trials on the Covid-19 vaccine candidate, Covishield, being developed by Oxford University-AstraZeneca, with the Clinical Trials Registry of India (CTRI) – and trials are underway across the country. The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is following up on the process.

Serum Institute of India said on Sept 12 will resume clinical trials of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate after getting the permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), the Pune-based vaccine maker.

 "Once DCGI will give us the permission to restart the trials in India, we will resume the trials," Serum Institute of India (SII) said in a statement.

In a tweet, Poonawalla said: "As I'd mentioned earlier, we should not jump to conclusions until the trials are fully concluded. The recent chain of events is a clear example why we should not bias the process and should respect the process till the end. Good news, @UniofOxford."

The human trials resumed days after a pause had been announced in the trials after an adverse reaction in one of the participants.

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Agencies
October 27,2020

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Patna, Oct 27: More than two crore voters in Bihar will decide the fate of 1,066 candidates on Wednesday across 71 assembly segments in the first phase of elections.

Guidelines have been issued by the Election Commission for safe conduct of the electoral exercise, which takes place in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

These include lowering the cap on the maximum number of voters for a polling booth from 1,600 to 1,000, staggering of polling hours and postal ballot facility for those aged above 80, or those afflicted with or suspected to be carrying the contagion.

Besides, sanitisation of electronic voting machines, wearing of masks and other protective gear by polling personnel and availability of thermal scanner, hand sanitiser, soap and water will be ensured.

Of the 2.14 crore voters who will exercise their franchise, 1.01 crore are women and 599 belong to the third gender, according to data provided by the Election Commission.

The candidates include 952 men and 114 women, the maximum number (27) being in the fray at Gaya Town and the minimum (5) at Katoria in Banka district.

Among the major political parties, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U) is contesting in 35 of the 71 seats, followed by its ally BJP (29), while the opposition RJD has fielded its candidates in 42 and its coalition partner Congress is in the fray in 20 assembly segments.

Lok Janshakti Party, headed by Chirag Paswan, is in the fray in 41 seats, which include all the 35 contested by the JD(U), in keeping with the call given by the young party president, who recently pulled out of the NDA in the state, to "dislodge" the chief minister from power.

Prominent candidates include Shreyasi Singh, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist shooter who is making her debut at the age of 27 as the BJP candidate from Jamui.

Chirag Paswan, who represents Jamui Lok Sabha and insists that he remains loyal to the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has assured full support of his party to the young debutant.

Shreyasi Singh is pitted against Vijay Prakash Yadav of the RJD, the sitting MLA whose elder brother Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav is a former Union minister and a close aide of party supremo Lalu Prasad.

Notably, the former Union minister's 28-year-old daughter Divya Prakash is also making her debut in the adjoining Tarapur constituency as the candidate of her father's party.

Six members of the state cabinet Prem Kumar (Gaya Town), Vijay Kumar Sinha (Lakhisarai), Ram Narayan Mandal (Banka), Krishnanandan Prasad Verma (Jehanabad), Jaikumar Singh (Dinara) and Santosh Kumar Nirala (Rajpur) are in the fray in the first phase.

Of the six, Verma, Singh and Nirala belong to the JD(U), while the remaining are from the BJP. The JD(U) ministers seek to win their seats contending with the LJP factor.

Moreover, Verma, who has held key portfolios like education and social welfare, faces the additional challenge of wresting an RJD bastion for his party, having been asked to shift base from Ghosi where the JD(U) has fielded Rahul Kumar.

Kumar's father Jagdish Sharma, disqualified upon conviction in the fodder scam, had formerly represented the Ghosi assembly seat as well as the Jehanabad Lok Sabha constituency.

The reserved Imamganj seat in Gaya district, which falls under Aurangabad Lok Sabha constituency, will see a proverbial clash of titans.

Former chief minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha president Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is the NDA candidate, is the sitting MLA.

His bid to retain the seat is challenged by his predecessor Uday Narayan Chaudhary who had been associated with the JD(U) till a few years ago but is now in the fray as the RJD nominee.

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News Network
October 17,2020

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The war of words between the LJP and the BJP is now getting shriller. A day after senior BJP minister Prakash Javadekar slammed LJP chief Chirag Paswan and called him a ‘vote-katwa’ (vote-cutter), the LJP has hit back at the BJP.

“If I am a vote-cutter, why have they (BJP leaders) aligned with us since 2014?,” asked Chirag, adding that the unsavoury statements issued by the BJP leaders for the last few days were being made at the behest of Nitish Kumar.

“I had not expected such statements from the top BJP leaders. They should exercise restraint while making such remarks. I am of the clear view that Nitish has to be ousted this election. If he becomes Chief Minister again, I will quit the NDA and prefer to sit in the Opposition,” said the LJP chief, whose father Ram Vilas Paswan passed away recently.

The LJP, though part of the NDA at the Centre, is contesting Bihar election on its own and has fielded 143 candidates, mostly against the JD (U) nominees.

“I have full faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is my idol and I am his Hanuman,” said Chirag, reiterating that his sole aim was “defeat of Nitish” and establishment of a BJP-led Government, backed by the LJP.

The BJP, meanwhile, has suspended nine senior party leaders who are contesting Assembly elections on the LJP ticket.

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Agencies
October 30,2020

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Jammu and Kashmir, Oct 30: The National Conference (NC) on Friday claimed that authorities in Jammu and Kashmir prevented its president Farooq Abdullah from leaving his residence to offer prayers at the Hazratbal shrine here on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi.

No official from the administration was available for comments on the issue.

"J&K administration has blocked the residence of Party President Dr Farooq Abdullah and stopped him from offering prayers at Dargah Hazratbal. JKNC condemns this infringement of fundamental right to pray, especially on the auspicious occasion of Milad Un Nabi SAW," the NC said on its Twitter handle.

Farooq Abdullah, who represents Srinagar in the Lok Sabha, was supposed to visit the Hazratbal shrine, on the banks of the Dal Lake, to pray there on the occasion.

Milad-un-Nabi marks the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad and it is observed in the month of Rabi' al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar.

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