Search for COVID vaccine
At a time when the delivery of a working COVID-19 vaccine has raised expectations, the recent halt to the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine trials may appear to be a setback. While the initial news was enough to cause knee-jerk reactions of doom and gloom with the AstraZeneca stocks taking a tumble, the company swiftly clarified that the halt was entirely voluntary and given the scale and importance of the task at hand, routine and expected. For developers using similar platforms and methods to the Oxford vaccine, this would mean a series of small delays as they revise consent forms and patients brochures with an updated listing of possible risks. For those using entirely separate platforms, however, there would be little to no direct spillover. The delay well give other vaccine makers the time to catch up with the front runner. Without a specific cure for COVID-19, the vaccine quest has become more than just a search along the pathway that research and pharma companies have traditionally taken. There are demands that vaccines be put into a pipeline for accelerated approval to yield political dividends, US President Trump has demanded that a vaccine be available before voting day in November. India had its moment of vaccine controversy when the ICMR harried trialists to expedite testing of Bharat Biotech's Covaxin by August 15. Russia, which is to commence its Sputnik V's Phase 3 testing, has launched a publicity blitz. The Serum Institute of India also announced a halt to the ongoing trials of the vaccine after the DGCI issued a letter asking the company why it was not informed of AstraZeneca halt. The trials have been put on an indefinite halt until AstraZeneca itself resumes its trials.
The delay itself is no cause for panic or concern. What may be problematic is the possibility that many countries may still push up the timetables for the vaccine to be brought to the market on an emergency basis with a largely political aim. The pandemic has created a wave of dissatisfaction against those in power on account of the failure to contain the pandemic and many leaders facing election will bank on the vaccine to bring them the necessary political support. For society at large, all this could mean is a bit of reality adjustment to a vaccine timetable that has been bloated by undue optimism and blatant misinformation. The halt may have the effect of allaying the escalating pressure to meet political deadlines which have been pushed up to an unsafe and unrealistic extent in many nations. India and the world will gain from a vaccine that has been critically and transparently evaluated and not one that crosses a chimerical finish line first.
Chandan Kumar Nath,
During this difficult time of the outbreak of COVID-19, the significance of the popular Ethiopian proverb- 'Advise and counsel him; if he doesn't listen, let adversity teach him' is profoundly realized by each and every individual that results in more focus on health consciousness than anything else. People seem to have developed the tendency to alter their lifestyle as a powerful weapon to combat the fatal contagion.
It's indeed a good sign that many, especially those above thirty, have taken to cycling during morning and evening time as a form of workout in order to keep themselves in perfect health. Now, people prefer a bicycle for day-to-day travel to a motorbike or a car partly due to the unusual hike in petrol and diesel and partly due to keep physical fitness intact during this unprecedented crisis. The high sale of bicycles in towns and cities and scarcity of supply as well clearly shows the mounting demand of the same. If this habit of cycling continues to be formed among the masses also in the days ahead, not only mineral resources would considerably be saved but also environmental pollution would be lessened to a great extent. Given the popularity of cycling even among the hedonists, the authorities concerned should avail themselves of the opportunity to take steps to promote cycling in the state.
The Mumbai drama
The ongoing high-octane drama orchestrated by Shiv Sena in the financial capital of India, Mumbai is unfortunate. Puppet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's action and his supporters' hooliganism are making every sensible Indian hang his/her head. Even the retired defence personnel are not spared by the unworthy son of Balasaheb Thackeray, who is out to silence his critics by an iron fist. The Editor in Chief of Republic TV and some of its reporters were taken to task by the government for raising their voices. Now those who cry with slogans like 'murder of democracy', 'facism', etc at slightest of incidence have now consumed fevicol. The famous women activists like Shabana Azmi, Shaba Naqvi, Swara Bhaskar, Arundhuti Roy who are very vocal for feminist rights are completely silent when Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut addressed Kangana Ranaut with a slang word usually associated with roadside ruffians. Those journalists who are crying for freedom of press and speech are mute even after watching how the government is using state machinery to suppress the voice of the journalists who are in bad books of the Chief Minister and also the way Kangana Ranaut office was demolished suggest that total anarchy is on in Maharashtra. It is also another matter that probably the coalition partners might be enjoying the current situation. In Indian politics nothing can be ruled out.
Shiv Sena which is founded by Late Balasaheb Thackeray stood with the nation in the crisis hours but now the same Shiv Sainiks have become goons of Uddhav Thackeray and Sonia Gandhi. The great Bal Thackeray must be turning in his grave seeing the activities of his son.
Dr. Ashim Chowdhury,
Recent skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, particularly vegetables, eggs, medicines etc., crippled the common people particularly daily wage earners. Most of the items of vegetables are now sold at not less than Rs 60 per kg, eggs are now sold at Rs 80 to 90 per dozen, medicines' cost at present are alarmingly high. I would, therefore, like to request the department concerned of State Government to fix the prices of vegetables and other items by considering all the facts as well as norms.