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India’s vaccines and therapeutics can prevail over Covid-19

Until there is sufficient herd immunity, there is little choice except to continue with social distancing, patient isolation, face masks and hand hygiene. This is a war that the world can and must win, a war in which India can play the lead role in both vaccines as well as therapeutics.

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Based on discussions with medical experts, in India, 9.2 million people have been so far diagnosed with Covid-19. Many may have been undiagnosed. Covid-related deaths are 135,000. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, this is easily the lowest death rate of any country that has been hit badly by the novel coronavirus. Only a certain proportion of the population needs to be immune to an infectious agent for large outbreaks to be prevented. What is that proportion is a key question and depends on the disease. Herd immunity is often created in epidemics through natural infection, but it may also be created by vaccines. Diseases like the deadly Spanish Flu and many influenzas have disappeared entirely through natural infections conferring immunity (albeit after a death toll). Another example is Japanese B encephalitis, which is nearly eradicated in Japan because most people were immunised and the vaccine is highly effective. Japanese encephalitis is mostly seen in non-Japan Asian countries.

According to medical experts, herd immunity is in place when one infected person in a population generates less than one secondary case on average. The effective reproduction number R is the average of persons infected by a case. Ro is the original number who got infected by one infected person on average when the epidemic started. In a recent October 2020 paper in Nature Reviews Immunology, Arnaud Fontanet and Simon Cauchemez of the Institut Pasteur’s Emerging Disease Epidemiology Unit estimated that for France, with Ro at 3 for France (worldwide, Ro is between 2.5 to 4), it will require 67% of the French population to be immune to stop outbreaks. How different might that number be for India? This would be a worthwhile study for the Health Ministry to consider, in the light of reports that the incidence of Covid-19 in some locations where mass sampling has taken place is far higher than initially estimated. Further there are localised factors.

It is postulated that because Delhi is having what appears to be a raging epidemic, the high PM 2.5 pollution level might be a factor in that respect. So too the severe density of population in some parts of Delhi. Also, the reality that for people doing manual or related work, it is very difficult to use masks and indeed social distancing. It has been observed that masks are still not in common use in several places in the capital. Fontanet and Cauchemez also stated that depending on the immunity already in place through the epidemic, if it is assumed that 1 in 3 are already immune, transmission rates only need to be lowered to 50% to ensure safety from the disease. Another factor are super-spreaders—those likely to spread to many because they have interaction with multiple contacts due to the nature of their work or location. Many might already have been infected, and hence could have low probability of spreading to further people.  This might lower the rate of spread.

This is also relevant in terms of age groups: Those older than 80 have much less contact with non-family than those in the age group 20-40 years. By managing the level of contacts in most vulnerable age groups, several epidemiologists project that 50% population immunity might be sufficient. Super-spreader events such as mass meetings and festivals are also important. Unlike Joe Biden, who took care to adhere to safety protocols in holding meetings, President Donald Trump threw caution to the winds by addressing crowded groups of people, many of whom had no masks and were not tested. Such neglect of public safety may have cost him a second term in the White House.

It is not just super-spreading individuals when calculating what level of herd immunity can stop outbreaks. Children less than 10 years of age are less susceptible, and are also less contagious, and so may be partly eliminated from the calculation. Population immunity is generally assessed through properly conducted cross-sectional surveys of representative samples that record immunity (antibody tests). However, it is postulated that for SARS-CoV-2, the full spectrum of immunity is in fact greater after the first wave of infections, because of T-cell (T-lymphocytes) immunity (otherwise described as cellular immunity). Other unknowns include the extent to which prior immunity to common coronaviruses might confer some level of cross-protection. BCG immunisation against Tuberculosis has also been postulated to provide some degree of immunity. However, these may only protect against severe disease rather than prevent infection entirely. Interestingly, there was no sterilising immunity through common cold or BCG etc cross-protection during the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in April 2020 on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, where 70% of young adult sailors got infected before the epidemic stopped on the Aircraft Carrier (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_on_Charles_de_Gaulle). This number (70%) on an isolated aircraft carrier, served in some respects as a laboratory test for a natural experiment on herd immunity.

Given all the above, there is little reason to believe that SARS-CoV-2 will stop being a problem before at least 50% of the population is immune through natural or vaccine-induced herd immunity. A complicating factor is that immunity to seasonal coronaviruses generally is not life-long, and is relatively short-lived, but how short is still unclear. Will it take several rounds of infections, or vaccine shots and booster doses to achieve the desired result? Even after more than a year since the disease manifested itself, much about it remains unclear. There is significant mutation taking place in the virus, and that is a further complicating factor that would naturally impact on the efficacy of vaccines, helpful though they may be in preventing numerous cases. Different vaccines are being rushed through. There can always be a few incidents when large populations are immunized, hence it is wrong to oppose a vaccine on such grounds. Overall, vaccines have helped to either reduce or stop the spread of several illnesses that were once deadly. Sufficient evidence on efficacy and safety will be generated in populations. Making vaccination compulsory in the above scenarios may need to follow assessments on data availability, and in some cases, reliability of some of the vaccines being developed abroad.

Experts say that the vaccine due to be produced in India seems to be among the most reliable, and this has been made possible both by the local manufacturer as well as the way in which PM Modi has put the push towards safety from the novel coronavirus on a war footing. This was manifested by Modi from the start, with the record lockdown of the entire country soon after the banning of international flights. India has gone much further than almost any other country in the comprehensive nature of its lockdown, as also the length of time. Covid-19 has a fatality ratio of 0.3-1.3% but of course even such a small percentage results in vulnerable sections with co-morbidities losing life as we see daily. This highlights the importance of herd immunity, including through vaccination.

If all goes well, the next few months may witness steady improvement in cases and in a reduction of the fatality rate. India has led the way in therapeutics, and the same is possible with Covid-19. Improved patient management is essential, especially early diagnosis and therapeutics. There is sufficient evidence already that therapeutics can lower case-fatality especially in otherwise healthy individuals who do not have concurrent illnesses and risks such as diabetes, cardiac disease, chronic respiratory disease or being overweight. Highly exposed populations would naturally need to be prioritised for vaccines such as health professionals and those with customer-contact.

There is a reason in favour of good and effective vaccines. This is that post infection, patients sometimes complain of complications, so a vaccine would be a safer way to confer immunity than natural infections. But that would especially be in the case of a very good vaccine that is well-monitored for continued efficacy and safety. India’s record in this is impeccable, especially when everyone is rushing through the process at unprecedented speeds.

Therapeutics, especially antiviral drugs, that reduce viral loads and therefore decrease transmission risk, and medicines that prevent complications and death, should also be an important weapon against SARS-Cov-2 (the virus) and Covid-19 (the disease). It must be remembered that as PM Modi repeatedly warns, until there is sufficient herd immunity, there is little choice except to continue with social distancing, patient isolation, face masks and hand hygiene. This is a war that the world can and must win, a war in which India can play the lead role in both vaccines as well as therapeutics. Such is the lesson learnt from the expertise of the medical fraternity in India, which is on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

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EROS HOTEL CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF HOSPITALITY

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The date 6th December 2021 marks the silver jubilee year for Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place. The hotel began its journey in the year 1996 with the vision of delivering the finest Indian hospitality experiences to the guests. Today, Eros Hotel stands tall as an iconic stand-alone 5-star deluxe property offering contemporary design and comfort paired with old-world hospitality charm.

Eros Hotel.

“Anniversary is a great occasion of recollecting and cherishing memories. This one is more special, as today we celebrate our hotel’s 25th anniversary” said MD of the company, Satish Sood.

“Going back in history, I would like to bring forth the vision and foresight of Late Mr. J. R. Sood. The organisation started with millions of dreams, hope and immense enthusiasm and for me, it’s a matter of great pride to see our company growing, embracing good value system and achieving milestones as we thought of,” he added.

“Over these years, CSR campaigns, sustainability initiatives, celebrating key occasions with team members and families, delivering wow experiences to our patrons through exceptional customer services, have created great memories for all of us and have contributed to hotel’s glorious journey,” he added.

Davinder Juj, General Manager of the hotel, said “We are delighted to carve a host of activities on 25th anniversary, which will be offered to make our guests and team members feel special. This is to express our heartfelt gratitude for their continued patronage and loyalty and for our teams to offer the best of the services”.

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Odisha tourism conducts 12th International Sand Art Festival

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The 12th edition of five days International Sand Art Festival that started on December 1 is underway at Chandrabhaga beach in Konark, Odisha.

Every year, the tourism of Odisha conducts the Chandrabhaga International Sand art festival for the sand artists to show their art and talent to the world to see. Here the immense beach is a canvas and an artists’ deft is the palette. Artists from all over the world participate in the festival, but due to Covid-19, strict protocols were followed.

Sudarsan Patnaik, organiser of the festival told ANI that due to Covid-19 fear, this year international artists couldn’t participate but a total of 100 artisans from Odisha and 12 other Indian states including Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and more have participated with full enthusiasm.

He also informed that different themes were provided to the artists every day and on December 3, Friday, the theme assigned to them was ‘eco-tourism and environment’.

Gauri, a sand artist from Odisha who is participating in the festival for the second time in her life said, “It’s a very good topic. We have to understand nature is very important and we have to save it too.”

She also told that this is her second time participating in this event, after ten years. “I am glad to see how the event has developed in the meantime. It is only stated to organise such festival where all sand artists get exposure and we are able to show our art.”

The International Sand Art Festival was started in 2015 on the Chandrabhaga beach, a short distance from Konark. It was a part of the Konark Dance Festival that is organized during the same time. Every year, the theme for the Artists hover around the burgeoning issues of the Earth.

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RAHUL MITTRA BECOMES ARUNACHAL’S BRAND ADVISOR, SANJAY DUTT IS BRAND AMBASSADOR

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On the occasion of the golden jubilee celebrations which mark the 50th year of the naming of the state—the BJP led Arunachal Pradesh Government has appointed former journalist, award-winning filmmaker and branding expert Rahul Mittra as Brand Advisor, and Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt as Brand Ambassador.

This announcement was made by Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Assembly Speaker Pasang Sona Dorjee at a packed function in the presence of both Sanjay Dutt and Rahul Mittra. On Monday afternoon both these personalities arrived from Mumbai by chartered flight to Dibrugarh and then by helicopter to the picturesque valley of Mechuka. On the arrival of Sanjay and Rahul, hundreds of residents made a beeline to get a glimpse of the celebrities.

A big media campaign conceptualised and executed by Rahul Mittra Films and shot by top ad-filmmaker and drummer Pentagram Shiraz Bhattacharya was kickstarted on this occasion, featuring Sanjay Dutt as a youth icon, nature lover, de-addiction proponent and an ever-evolving individual catering to the niche target audience for Arunachal tourism. Filming is currently taking place on a large scale across the state covering Ziro village, Pakke valley, Dambuk, Namsai, Parshuram Kund, Pasighat, Mechuka and Tawang. The campaign will be unveiled on the occasion of the month-long celebrations commencing on January 20 next year at Ziro where Arunachal Pradesh first got its name and Union Territory status in 1972.

The young CM Pema Khandu thanked both Sanjay and Rahul for their support and spelled out the various activities being undertaken by the state government for the 50-year celebrations. Sanjay Dutt urged the youth to stay away from drugs and get high on life while Rahul Mittra promised to put Arunachal on the world map in terms of visibility through this campaign, amidst a thundering response from the audience.

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CROWN GROUP REAFFIRMS ITS COMMITMENT TOWARDS ‘ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT’ FOR INDIAN NAVY

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On the glorious occasion of Navy Week 2021, the Crown Group, which is a technology provider and a strategic partner to India’s defence sector, reaffirms its commitment to provide its best contribution and impetus to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mission for the nation as envisaged by Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi by augmenting indigenous product and services support to the Indian Navy.

The group is professionally managed, having skilled technical and operational experts, with the Group President, Vice Adm Paras Nath (Retd.), AVSM, VSM, based at the Delhi Headquarters. The Crown Group has appointed Commodore Rakesh Anand as the Head of Marine Division to spearhead and boost the division. Commodore Anand is a retd Indian Navy veteran who was also the Chairman & Managing Director of Mazagon Dock Ltd. prior to joining the Crown Group, and was responsible for the launching of three Scorpene submarines and three Destroyers/Stealth Frigates. He also delivered two Submarines, Kalvari and Khanderi to the Indian Navy besides undertaking major modernisation of the shipyard. Commodore Anand will be heading the marine companies of the group – ‘Dynatron Services Private Limited’ and ‘OSK India Pvt. Ltd’.

Speaking on the occasion, Commodore Anand said, “Keeping with the GoI vision of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, the Marine division of Crown Group has enhanced its maintenance facilities in Mumbai. The Marine division is also working towards establishing the capability for manufacturing propulsion shafting and Magazine Fire Fighting System (MFFS) for warships and submarines in collaboration with the foreign OEMs.

We can proudly claim that Dynatron Services & OSK India are one of the only organised and fully equipped players in India that are present across all the coastal cities catering to the MRO and servicing of Indian naval ships. We are also a unique Group that provides both Marine Engineering and Weapons system MRO support to Indian Navy & Coast Guard.”

Group President said, “Our Karwar facility has the biggest workshop near India’s main naval base spread over 5 acres with facilities for repair and overhauling of all aero-marine components, manufacture of spares along with Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics workshop. The workshop is supporting MRO activities for the aircraft carrier, warships and the submarines at the Naval base.”

Dynatron and OSK India, have been dedicating themselves for taking on MRO activities. OSK India has recently repaired critical weapon equipment modules for the Indian Navy. Dynatron has a long-term partnership with many foreign OEMs including JSC Sevmash. Dynatron also has sole authorisation for repairs and maintenance of Gearboxes & thrusters from ZF Marine (Germany) and an exclusive partnership with Kubota engines Japan coupled with Mase Generators, Italy.

On the occasion of Navy Day, Crown Group rededicates itself towards the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Navy Day is observed on December 4 every year, since it was on the day in 1971 that missile boats of the Indian Navy launched a daring attack on the Karachi harbour, paralysing Pakistan’s entire coastal defence apparatus.The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak War – the historic victory of India’s armed forces in which the Indian Army made the Pakistani’s surrender.

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VIRGIL ABLOH: AN INDELIBLE LEGACY

As the founder of the iconic brand Off-White and the artistic director for Menswear, Louis Vuitton, Abloh, a first-generation Ghanaian American, was a pioneer in the global fashion scenario— his indomitable influence as a creative prodigy transcended the boundaries of clothes.

NAMRATA KUMAR

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The terrain of fashion today credits a majority of its aesthetic sensibility to the boundless creativity of Virgil Abloh. The designer, who died from cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer, at the age of 41 on November 28 in Chicago, was called the fashion visionary, but there was no denying that his prodigious work shaped the present. As the founder of the cult brand Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, Abloh, a first-generation Ghanaian American, was a pioneer in the global fashion scenario—his influence transcended the boundaries of only clothes.

Abloh’s creative genius spread across myriad mediums and defied conformity. His mother was a seamstress which influenced him to sew his own clothes as a teenager before he set forth to pursue fashion. He also studied civil engineering and obtained a degree in Architecture.

Off-white, Abloh’s iconic streetwear brand, brought the excitement of a much-hyped collaboration to the world of high fashion and luxury. With Off-White, he collaborated with many premium brands and companies, including Rimowa, Mercedes Benz, the NBA, Levi’s, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Kith, Timberland and Byredo. His most notable collaborative relationship, however, may have been with Nike, with which he did multiple collections, one of which netted him the “Shoe of the Year” award at the 2017 Footwear News Achievement Awards. With Nike, he also designed competition outfits for Serena Williams. Abloh’s talents were also in high demand by many of his celebrity friends, who commissioned bespoke creations running the gamut from Hailey Bieber’s Off-White wedding dress and veil that read “Till death do us part” in Abloh’s signature irony quotes to Drake’s personal plane that he had Abloh customise with an ethereal blue sky and cloud pattern. Although Abloh’s body of work was often dictated by his talent to capture the essence of an era, his gift lies with his expensive curiosity and unflinching desire to create.

The Louis Vuitton Miami show was a visual tribute (and an emotional one at that) to Virgil Abloh, as friends, collaborators and fans paid homage to him under fireworks and a drone light show. The Spring/Summer 2022 Men’s show marked Abloh’s historical last as the celebrated Creative Director for Menswear.

The front row included longtime supporter Kanye West, who sat next to Kim Kardashian and their daughter North. Other front-row attendees were Rihanna and ASAP Rocky, Pharrell Williams, Joe Jonas, Ricky Martin, Venus Williams, Bella Hadid, 21 Savage and Joan Smalls.

Just before 7 PM, as the mood shifted from somber to party mode, a dazzling light show filled the sky. It began as a paper plane (a predominant icon in Abloh’s collections), before fluctuating into avatars of the Louis Vuitton monogram, a palm tree and the initials “L.V.,” which turned into “V.A.” For the finale, the drones spelled “Virgil was here” (goosebump-inducing); within moments, these mesmerising visuals of tributes went viral on social media.

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MISSION TANDRUST PUNJAB TO KICK OFF RESEARCH PROJECTS WORTH RS 7 CR

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Mission Tandrust Punjab, with a zeal to start research and development in various fields, has now planned a 360-degree chart for different research projects comprising clean air, clean water, healthy soil, waste management, green Punjab, safe food, road safety, khelo Punjab, nutrition, preventive health.

These all are the sub-missions that are spearheaded by a lead department supported with different line departments. “The mission has undertaken various activities since it was revamped and launched by the Punjab government in June 2021, under the administrative control of the Department of Science, Technology, and Environment,” IFS Saurabh Gupta, CEO Mission Tandrust Punjab, told The Daily Guardian.

To achieve the objectives of the mission, the first meeting of the Steering Committee headed by Chief Secretary Punjab was held 2nd December 2021 in which Dilip Kumar, Principal Secretary, Department of Science and Technology and Saurabh Gupta, CEO of the Mission made a presentation in which the innovative research projects for about Rupees seven crores were discussed and approved. Reiterating the importance of the mission, the Chief Secretary appreciated these research projects developed by the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change by involving prestigious institutions like IIT Ropar, AIIMS, Punjab Agriculture University, Punjab Biotechnology incubator, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. The Chief Secretary said that these interventions shall help in ensuring good health of the people through the provision of safe food, clean water, etc.

An awareness project for the Mission was also approved to be implemented in the Pushpa Gujral Science City, Kapurthala.

The Chief Secretary suggested that more such innovative research projects are required under this mission for which the State Govt. shall provide adequate funds. The projects approved have been time-lined for 18 months added Gupta.

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