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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Daily Briefing: Centre to pay Rs 1,500 crore to reserve 30 crore doses of new vaccine; Worst of 2nd wave is over

Two months since the second wave peaked, the Covid curve, after claiming a devastating toll of at least 1.76 lakh lives, is finally falling into a zone where the disease could be handled by existing health infrastructure, experts say.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
June 4, 2021 8:04:52 am
A look at the top news today, June 10, 2021.

Good morning, 

The Second Wave 

At a time when the country is fighting against a shortage in vaccine supply, the Centre, for the first time, has placed an order with a vaccine manufacturer before the product has been granted emergency use authorisation by the regulator. The government said that it would make an advance payment of Rs 1,500 crore to Hyderabad-based manufacturer Biological E to reserve 30 crore doses of its under-development Covid-19 vaccine.

Days after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met key officials in the Biden administration in Washington DC, the US announced that it will distribute Covid-19 vaccines to India as part of its “strategy for global vaccine sharing”. President Joe Biden made the announcement and Vice President Kamala Harris called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding Washington’s plans to make the shots available to other countries, including India.

April 4 was the first time India’s daily Covid case count crossed 1 lakh setting off the most explosive phase of the pandemic during which the daily count of new infections reached as high as 4.14 lakh on May 6. Two months since that milestone, the Covid curve, after claiming a devastating toll of at least 1.76 lakh lives, is finally falling into a zone where the disease, experts say, could be handled by existing health infrastructure.

Only in the Express

This day, exactly 10 years ago, Narendra Modi, as Gujarat Chief Minister, moved a resolution titled “UPA — a Grave Threat to our Federalism”, accusing the Congress-led Centre of usurping law-making powers of the states, misusing investigative agencies, exploiting statutory and constitutional bodies to undercut states and getting Governors to work as political agents. Cut to today, the shoe’s on the other foot as state governments have come out to criticize PM Modi of the same.

From the Front Page 

The decision to book 30 crore doses of Biological E’s Covid-19 vaccine before it has launched marks a major shift in the government’s stance on procurement for mass immunisation against the coronavirus. The advance order is the government’s first at-risk investment on vaccines so far and is significant as it has put its money on a novel platform for a Covid-19 vaccine that is yet to receive regulatory approval.

Stressing that “a citizen has a right to criticise or comment upon the measures undertaken by the government and its functionaries, so long as he does not incite people to violence, the Supreme Court has quashed the FIR registered by Himachal Pradesh Police against journalist Vinod Dua for sedition, public mischief and other offences over the contents of a talk show broadcast on YouTube last year.

Must Read

In a reversal of fortunes from before the West Bengal Assembly elections, which saw high-spectacle desertions from the TMC to the BJP, it is the BJP’s turn now to watch the exit door. While some leaders have made their desire to return to the TMC known, in plaintive appeals to Banerjee, others have dropped hints of their “remorse” via social media.

In what could be a first for any state, the Bihar government has proposed to reserve 33 per cent seats for girls in medical and engineering colleges. The Nitish Kumar-led government has been planning to bring two new Bills — the Bihar Engineering Universities Bill and Bihar Medical Education Bill — in the next Assembly session to give formal shape to the proposal.

While the country grapples with a shortage of oxygen cylinders amid the second wave, Bikaner’s only government hospital has been steadily reducing its oxygen consumption, to a point where now its per patient oxygen use is among the lowest in Rajasthan. How, you ask? Well, under its innovative ‘Oxygen Mitra’ initiative, nursing students are assigned to supervise oxygen beds. They have helped halve the hospital’s daily oxygen intake per patient to 2.1 cylinders. 

WhatsApp users, who haven’t accepted its updated 2021 privacy policy, “are being bombarded with notifications,” the Centre told the Delhi High Court. According to the government, the messaging platform is trying to “trick consent” to ensure its users accept its updated terms and conditions before the Personal Data Protection Bill becomes a law. WhatsApp later clarified that the update does not change the privacy of people’s personal messages. 

And Finally

There are no brick and mortar exam halls equipped with strong wifi connections for students virtually appearing for their university examinations in the remote village of Mawhrei in Mizoram. Instead, they have been trekking 3 km uphill through a thick forest to the only place with a steady internet connection near their village, where a temporary bamboo shelter has been set up for them to write their tests. 

Delhi Confidential: Remembering former PM and President of Mauritius, Anerood Jugnauth, 91, who died on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him “a tall leader and statesman”, who was the architect of modern Mauritius. 

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we look at the government’s decision to scrap CBSE class 12 board exams, and what it means for students.  

Until tomorrow

Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi 

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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