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Covishield Export Resumes, Serum Institute Crosses 1 Billion Vaccine Mark – dot newz

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The first batches of Covishield for exports left SII’s Pune facility this morning

New Delhi:

Covishield-maker Serum Institute of India has resumed vaccine exports for distribution to low- and middle-income nations under the global vaccine-sharing programme COVAX.

In a statement, Serum Institute of India, or SII, chief executive Adar Poonawalla said the world has largely depended on the low-cost, high-quality pharmaceuticals and vaccines that India has traditionally exported. “We are delighted to support the global vaccination effort once more,” Mr Poonawalla said.

The total number of Covishield doses manufactured so far has crossed the 1.25 billion mark, according to the Pune-headquartered company.

The first batches of Covishield marked for exports left the SII’s Pune facility this morning. The company expects its vaccine exports to increase substantially by the first quarter of 2022.

To bolster its COVID-19 vaccine output even further, SII will bring into production other vaccines under licence. These include Covovax, from US-based company Novavax, which received its first emergency use authorisations from regulators in Indonesia and the Philippines this month, SII said in the statement today.

Further regulatory reviews are pending for Covovax in India and with the World Health Organisation, and Novavax has also submitted several additional regulatory filings for its vaccine around the world.

“I want to thank our workforce for their superhuman efforts in achieving this major milestone, with 1 billion doses of Covishield now produced by SII. We started to invest at-risk in COVID-19 vaccine production back in March 2020 and Serum Institute colleagues have worked tirelessly ever since to get these life-saving doses to people. It’s a huge moment to begin exports again, for us, our partners at Covax and the low- and middle-income countries we support,” Mr Poonawalla said.

The SII chief executive also thanked the Indian company’s global partners including AstraZeneca, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gavi, UNICEF and the WHO “for their unwavering patience and confidence in our ability to keep on track.”

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the vaccine alliance which leads the Covax facility said the resumption of supplies from SII is an important development as it enters its busiest period yet for shipping vaccines to participating economies.

“While Covax’s portfolio is now much more diversified than it was earlier this year when we received our first SII deliveries, Covishield remains an important product which has the potential to help us protect hundreds of millions of people in the months ahead,” Dr Berkley said.

SII is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.5 billion doses), supplying the world’s least-expensive and WHO-accredited vaccines to as many as 170 countries. It was founded in 1966.



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Gen Rawat Was On “Very Safe” Mi-17V-5, Crash Confounds Experts – dot newz

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India owns a fairly large fleet of Mi-17V-5 helicopters that are often used to ferry VIPs.

New Delhi:

The Mi-17V-5 helicopters are extremely reliable and are the workhorses of the Air Force, several former army officers told NDTV after one of these choppers crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and several members of his family on board. The crash perplexed the experts, who said the flight from Sulur to Wellington did not involve complications.

Four people are dead and another four who survived, have been taken to a hospital. It is believed that there were 14 people on board, including the chopper’s crew and passengers.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered an inquiry into the crash.

The Mi-17V-5 is the latest twin-engine iteration of the Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter and is used regularly for high-altitude operations. One of the most advanced military transports that can be used in any topography and weather, it is one of the most powerful choppers used by Indian defence forces.

India owns a fairly large fleet of these helicopters that were purchased and inducted between 2013 and 2018.

Most experts NDTV spoke to described it as a “very reliable, safe, stable, and large” helicopter that is also used to ferry VIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.

According to information available on the website of Rosoboronexport — the Russian arms supplier — the chopper is designed to “carry personnel, cargo and equipment inside the cargo cabin or on an external sling, drop tactical air assault forces and reconnaissance and sabotage groups, destroy ground targets and carry the wounded”.

“Its armament system includes unguided rockets (up to 80 S-8 80mm unguided aerial rockets), cannons (suspended pods with 23mm cannons and 250 rounds each) and small arms,” the website says.



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‘Smartphones, Scootys, Security’: Congress’ “Women’s Manifesto” Before UP Polls – dot newz

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UP will vote for a new government in 2022, with the Congress challenging the BJP

Lucknow:

Girls studying in Classes 10 to 12 in Uttar Pradesh schools will get smartphones and female graduate students will get scooters, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Wednesday as part of a six-point “woman’s manifesto” ahead of an Assembly election in the state in a few months.

Ms Gandhi Vadra – who is leading her party’s campaign in the poll-bound state – read out a number of measures and schemes the Congress plans to implement should it win next year’s election, and demanded that all parties understand “the fact women have to bear with exploitation”.

Promises made by Ms Gandhi Vadra today include the offer of three free LPG cylinders for women – a significant offer given the skyrocketing prices of gas cylinders in the country, something for which the BJP (in power in UP and at the centre) has been severely criticised.

“I hope this women’s manifesto will put pressure on other political parties to also speak about similar issues. We want to release a women-specific manifesto so women have freedom of choice… I have seen that women ka bahut shoshan hota hai but they are fighting for their rights,” she said.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also highlighted the Congress’ promise to reserve 40 per cent of its election tickets for women; “this is not only on paper,” she said, giving late Indira Gandhi – India’s first woman prime minister – as an example of the Congress’ contribution to women in politics.

“Our attempt is to bring real women’s empowerment… at the grassroots level. Women’s empowerment is usually spoken about before elections and then mostly restricted to being on paper. We want to actually empower women on ground,” the Congress leader said.

“Parliament and legislative assemblies have an average of 14 per cent participation by women representatives. That needs to increase… we want that 40 per cent of all seats should be represented by women. This will increase their participation in policy-making,” she stressed.

Apart from smartphones, scooters and free gas cylinders, Ms Gandhi Vadra said women senior citizens and widows would get a monthly pension of Rs 1,000, and every new-born girl will get a fixed deposit in her name. All households with women will get a free internet connection.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also flagged the issue of women’s security – a serious subject given the worrying number of violent crimes against women reported from Uttar Pradesh.

“We want 25 per cent of the police to consist of women. All chowkis to have at least one woman officer and constable,” she said, reminding reporters that many crimes were unreported as the police is reluctant to file a case. “More women in the force will help the cause of women,” she said.

The Congress also promised Rs 10 lakh medical cover for women “for any kind of illness or disease”.

UP votes for a new government in a few months time.

The Assembly election here – for 403 seats – is widely seen as an indicator of how the ruling BJP might fare in the 2024 general election, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party will seek a third consecutive term in power.



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Farmer Team Meet In Delhi Today To Discuss Centre’s Offer To End Protest – dot newz

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Farmers and opposition parties have been protesting the centre’s farm laws since September 2020 (File)

New Delhi:

A five-member team of farmer leaders is meeting in Delhi to discuss the proposal sent by the centre yesterday evening – one which, if accepted, could end more than 15 months of (sometimes violent) protests against the controversial farm laws and demanding a legal guarantee for MSP.

The centre scrapped the farm laws last month – in a stunning U-turn after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union ministers had staunchly and repeatedly defended the controversial laws. The farmers welcomed the decision but indicated they would not stand down till the MSP issue was resolved.

After the Delhi meeting, the five farmer leaders will go to Singhu (on the city’s borders) – where thousands of farmers have been camped for close to a year – for a 2 pm meeting with the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of farmer unions that is leading the protest.

The farmer leaders say they have been in touch with central government officials via the phone.

Meanwhile, ahead of today’s Parliament session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting with senior ministers, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Among the points on their agenda, sources said, is the farmers protest.

In a significant development yesterday, sources said the centre had indicated its willingness to offer a written assurance on almost all of the farmers’ demands, including a committee on MSP and the dropping of all cases – those filed during the protests and those related to stubble burning.

It was understood that while the farmers were largely happy with the centre’s offer, there was one sticking point – the centre wants the farmers to stand down before police cases are dropped.

A discussion was held yesterday but farmer leaders could not settle on how to move forward.

Last week the farmers said Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to them (via a phone call) to discuss outstanding issues; this was after their protests forced the recall of the farm laws.

The farmers had then constituted the five-member panel to hold talks – talks that were to include their demand to legalise MSP and withdraw police cases against the protesters.

The centre was given a ‘deadline’, which expired yesterday. “… if a compromise is found, then there is a possibility of farmers going back,” Yudhvir Singh, a union leader told NDTV.



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