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Why Covid vaccine producer India faces major shortage of doses From “International: Top News And Analysis”



People aged 18 and over waiting to be inoculated against Covid-19 at a vaccination centre at Radha Soami Satsang grounds being run by BLK-Max hospital on May 4, 2021 in New Delhi, India.Hindustan Times | Hindustan Times | Getty ImagesWith India experiencing a devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, questions are being asked about how the country — which is home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — got to this tragic point.India continues to report massive numbers of new infections. On Tuesday, it passed the grim milestone of having reported over 20 million Covid cases and at least 226,188 people have died from the virus, although the reported death toll is believed to be lower than the actual death toll.In the meantime, India’s vaccination program is struggling to make an impact and supplies are problematic, despite the country having halted vaccine exports in March in order to focus on domestic inoculations.The sharp rise in infections seen in India since February has been attributed to the allowing of a large religious festival and election rallies, as well as the spread of a more infectious variant of the virus. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his governing Bharatiya Janata Party have been criticized for a lack of caution and preparedness, and accused of putting politics and campaigning above public safety.A war of words over the government’s vaccination strategy has also ensued. Ruling lawmakers have been criticized for allowing millions of doses to be exported earlier in the year.To date, India has administered around 160 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine (the predominant shots being used are the AstraZeneca shot, produced locally as Covishield, as well as an indigenous vaccine called Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech). In April it approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use although it has not yet been deployed.Only 30 million people have had the complete two doses of a Covid vaccine in India so far, government data shows. That’s a small number (just over 2%%) of India’s total population of 1.3 billion people — although around a quarter of that total are under 15 years old and, as such, are not eligible for a vaccine yet.Since May 1, anyone aged 18 or over is eligible for a Covid vaccine although this expansion of the vaccination program has been hampered given the shortages of doses that have been reported throughout the country by national media.People receive their Covid-19 vaccines from medical workers at a vaccination centre set up in the classroom of a government school on May 04, 2021 in New Delhi, India.Getty Images | Getty Images News | Getty ImagesDr. Chandrakant Lahariya, a doctor based in New Delhi who is also a vaccines, public policy and health systems expert, told CNBC Wednesday that India’s large adult population makes the immunization effort difficult.”Even if the projected supply was available, India has opened the vaccination to a far bigger population than probably any setting can expect the vaccines (to cover). It is essentially an outcome of limited supply and a vaccination policy which is not mindful of supplies. No amount of advanced planning could have assured that sort of supply, which is needed now with the opening of vaccination for 940 million people in India,” he said.Vaccine supplies are “unlikely to change drastically,” Lahariya said. “India needs anywhere between 200 to 250 million doses a month to function Covid-19 vaccination drives to full capacity and it has around 70-80 million doses a month. Clearly, there is a long way to get (to) that kind of supply,” he noted.Vaccine warsThe shortcomings in vaccine supplies has inevitably led to a deflection of blame with vaccine manufacturers in the firing line. Questions over vaccine prices, manufacturing capacity and the destination of supplies have beset the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech, the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company that manufactures Covaxin.Both have had their vaccine price structures (that is, different prices for doses destined for central government, state governments and private hospitals) criticized, which led the SII’s CEO to later reduce prices amid a public backlash.Adar Poonawalla, CEO of the SII which produces the Covid vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, said Sunday that the institute had been blamed for a vaccine shortage and scapegoated by politicians, but said it had not boosted capacity earlier because of an initial lack of orders.”I’ve been victimized very unfairly and wrongly,” he told the Financial Times on Monday, adding that he had not boosted capacity earlier because “there were no orders, we did not think we needed to make more than 1 billion doses a year.”Poonawalla noted that the Indian government had ordered 21 million doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute at the end of February but didn’t indicate when or if it would buy more, then it ordered an additional 110 million doses in March when infections started to rise.People wearing protective face masks wait to receive a dose of Covishield, a coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a vaccination center in New Delhi, India on May 04, 2021.Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty ImagesPoonawalla said that the Indian authorities had not expected to confront a second wave of cases and had, as such, not been prepared for the onslaught in new infections in late winter.He said that the country’s shortage of vaccine doses would continue through July, when production is expected to increase from about 60 to 70 million doses a month, to 100 million.For its part, the Indian government insists that it has, and is, ordering more vaccines to meet demand. On Monday, the government issued a statement in which it refuted media reports alleging that it had not placed any fresh orders for Covid vaccines since March, stating that “these media reports are completely incorrect, and are not based on facts.” It said it had advanced money to both the SII and Bharat Biotech for vaccines to be delivered in May, June and July.On Tuesday, Poonawalla issued a statement in which he sought to calm tensions between the government and SII, noting that “vaccine manufacturing is a specialized process, it is therefore not possible to ramp up production overnight.””We also need to understand that the population of India is huge and to produce enough doses for all adults is not an easy task … We have been working with the government of India since April last year. We have got all kinds of support be it scientific, regulatory and financial,” he said. Poonawalla said that the SII had received total orders of over 260 million doses, without specifying the buyers.Asked whether the government had got its approach to vaccine procurement and production wrong, Lahariya noted that the government had become complacent, although the trajectory of the pandemic had been hard to predict.”To be fair, I believe there have been two surprises. Unlike a year ago, when Covid-19 vaccine availability was being forecasted around mid-2021, the vaccine became available a bit earlier. Second, the lull in Covid-19 cases in India sort of set the complacency at all levels,” he noted. Lahariya added that while many months were spent on prioritizing the target population for vaccination, the program had then been opened to all adults “too soon.””It has been an issue of hurried and arguably, politically influenced planning, while this should essentially be a public health decision. That’s why a written plan with details on various aspects, such as supply forecast, could have made the difference.”Modi’s futureHow the vaccination strategy will impact on Modi’s ratings long term remains to be seen. But there is already evidence that Modi’s ruling BJP are being made to pay for the Covid crisis at the polls.Modi’s party failed to win the key state of West Bengal at a regional election last weekend, and failed to win in three other state elections in April, although it retained power in the state of Assam.Dr. Manali Kumar from the Institute of Political Science at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland noted that “this second wave is a disaster created by the complacency of the Indian government, which is now busy controlling the narrative rather than tackling the problem.””Maybe the worst of the disaster that is now unfolding in India could have been avoided if restrictions on public and private gatherings had been left in place,” she noted, adding that “decades of neglecting investments in healthcare infrastructure and an electorate that has not prioritised public services are also to blame.”Prime Minister Modi has defended the government’s vaccination strategy, telling ministers in April that “those who are in the habit of doing (playing) politics, let them do so … I have been facing various allegations. We can’t stop those who are hell bent on doing politics. But we are committed to service to mankind, which we shall continue,” he said, the Times of India reported.He also noted that a previous peak in infections, last September, had been controlled at a time when vaccines were not available and track and tracing cases and mass testing had been relied upon.







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Germany bans Muslim group over alleged terror donations From “World”




The German government has banned a Muslim organization that it accused of supporting “terrorism globally with donations.”







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US seen as bigger threat to democracy than Russia or China, global poll finds | World news From “World news | The Guardian”



The US faces an uphill task presenting itself as the chief guardian of global democracy, according to a new poll that shows the US is seen around the world as more of a threat to democracy than even Russia and China.The poll finds support for democracy remains high even though citizens in democratic countries rate their governments’ handling of the Covid crisis less well than people in less democratic countries.Inequality is seen as the biggest threat to global democracy, but in the US the power of big tech companies is also seen as a challenge.The findings come in a poll commissioned by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation among 50,000 respondents in 53 countries.The results will make stark reading for the G7 foreign ministers as they hold a final day of talks in London in which they have collectively assumed the role as bulwarks of democratic values determined to confront autocracy.The survey was carried out by the Latana polling company between February and April, so a hangover effect of Donald Trump’s “America first” foreign policy may linger in the findings. Overall the results show perceptions of the US starting to improve from last year.Whereas in the spring of 2020 people in both more democratic and less democratic countries were equally satisfied with their government’s pandemic response (70%), a year later the approval ratings have dropped down to 65% in less democratic countries, but in more democratic countries the rating has fallen to 51%. In Europe the figure is 45%. Positive ratings reach 76% in Asia.In perhaps the most startling finding, nearly half (44%) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is by contrast 38%, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28%. The findings may in part reflect views on US comparative power, but they show neither the US, nor the G7, can simply assume the mantle of defenders of democracy.Since last year, the perception of US influence as a threat to democracy around the world has increased significantly, from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14. This increase is particularly high in Germany (+20) and China (+16).The countries still overwhelmingly negative about US influence are Russia and China, followed by European democracies.The study shows an attachment to democracy globally, with 81% of people around the world saying that it is important to have democracy in their country. Only a little more than half (53%) say their country is actually democratic today – even in democracies.The single biggest cited threat to democracy is economic inequality (64%).In almost every country surveyed save Saudi Arabia and Egypt limits to free speech are seen as less of a threat to democracy than inequality.China: just the right amount of democracy, according to 71% of respondents there. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty ImagesBut half the people surveyed (48%) say the power of big tech companies, as opposed to the simple existence of social media, is a threat to democracy in their country. Among democracies, the US is the most concerned about big tech (62%), but wariness is growing in many countries compared with last year, reflected in broad support for greater regulation of social media.Voters in Norway, Switzerland and Sweden are most confident their country is democratic, but so are the Chinese, where 71% agree that China has the right amount of democracy. In Russia only 33% think their country is democratic. Global support for Joe Biden’s plans to stage a Democracy Summit is high in every country save China and Russia.The findings will also make disturbing reading for the eastern European democracies such as Hungary where only 31% of voters think their country is democratic – on a par with findings in Nigeria, Iran, Poland and Venezuela.Anders Fogh Rasmussen, chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, former Nato chief and Danish prime minister, said:“This poll shows that democracy is still alive in people’s hearts and minds. We now need to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering more democracy and freedom to people who want to see their countries become more democratic.“The positive support for an Alliance of Democracies, whether the UK’s D10 initiative or President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, shows that people want more cooperation to push back against the autocrats. Leaders should take note of these perceptions and act upon them.”







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Kim Kardashian Must Forfeit an Ancient Roman Sculpture That Experts Say Was Looted From Italy From “World News”



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F-16’s pilots receives unprecedented level of situational awareness From “Defence Blog”



Defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp. said in a statement that its LITENING advanced targeting pod has been fielded for the first time with full-color, digital video capability with the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, giving pilots of the service’s F-16s an unprecedented level of situational awareness and targeting certainty.“LITENING’s color video capability gives pilots a clearer picture of the battlespace, making targeting faster and more accurate,” said James Conroy, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability, Northrop Grumman. “The LITENING pod can display up to three different views simultaneously, allowing operators to see color and infrared video side by side, and in different fields of view. The result is a clearer view of an area of interest only available when flying with LITENING.”LITENING has been continuously upgraded over four generations and has logged more than three million operational flight hours. Northrop Grumman’s Agile methodologies and digital design expertise are accelerating the pace of change to deliver new capabilities to the field rapidly in response to evolving requirements. – ADVERTISEMENT – CONTINUE READING BELOW – Built with a modular design, any LITENING pod can be upgraded to the color configuration. The upgrade also includes the ability to record simultaneous video feeds from all sensors for post-mission analysis, automatic laser code display and an eye-safe mode that allows for more realistic training while using the laser.Northrop Grumman has delivered more than 900 LITENING pods to the United States and international partner nations. The pod has maintained an availability rate in excess of 95 percent.







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US seen as bigger threat to democracy than Russia or China, global poll finds From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



Photograph: Getty ImagesThe US faces an uphill task presenting itself as the chief guardian of global democracy, according to a new poll that shows the US is seen around the world as more of a threat to democracy than even Russia and China.The poll finds support for democracy remains high even though citizens in democratic countries rate their governments’ handling of the Covid crisis less well than people in less democratic countries.Inequality is seen as the biggest threat to global democracy, but in the US the power of big tech companies is also seen as a challenge.The findings come in a poll commissioned by the Alliance of Democracies Foundation among 50,000 respondents in 53 countries.The results will make stark reading for the G7 foreign ministers as they hold a final day of talks in London in which they have collectively assumed the role as bulwarks of democratic values determined to confront autocracy.The survey was carried out by the Latana polling company between February and April, so a hangover effect of Donald Trump’s “America first” foreign policy may linger in the findings. Overall the results show perceptions of the US starting to improve from last year.Whereas in the spring of 2020 people in both more democratic and less democratic countries were equally satisfied with their government’s pandemic response (70%), a year later the approval ratings have dropped down to 65% in less democratic countries, but in more democratic countries the rating has fallen to 51%. In Europe the figure is 45%. Positive ratings reach 76% in Asia.In perhaps the most startling finding, nearly half (44%) of respondents in the 53 countries surveyed are concerned that the US threatens democracy in their country; fear of Chinese influence is by contrast 38%, and fear of Russian influence is lowest at 28%. The findings may in part reflect views on US comparative power, but they show neither the US, nor the G7, can simply assume the mantle of defenders of democracy.Story continuesRelated: ‘We no longer fear the tweet’: Biden brings US back to world stage in first 100 daysSince last year, the perception of US influence as a threat to democracy around the world has increased significantly, from a net opinion of +6 to a net opinion of +14. This increase is particularly high in Germany (+20) and China (+16).The countries still overwhelmingly negative about US influence are Russia and China, followed by European democracies.The study shows an attachment to democracy globally, with 81% of people around the world saying that it is important to have democracy in their country. Only a little more than half (53%) say their country is actually democratic today – even in democracies.The single biggest cited threat to democracy is economic inequality (64%).In almost every country surveyed save Saudi Arabia and Egypt limits to free speech are seen as less of a threat to democracy than inequality.China: just the right amount of democracy, according to 71% of respondents there. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty ImagesBut half the people surveyed (48%) say the power of big tech companies, as opposed to the simple existence of social media, is a threat to democracy in their country. Among democracies, the US is the most concerned about big tech (62%), but wariness is growing in many countries compared with last year, reflected in broad support for greater regulation of social media.Voters in Norway, Switzerland and Sweden are most confident their country is democratic, but so are the Chinese, where 71% agree that China has the right amount of democracy. In Russia only 33% think their country is democratic. Global support for Joe Biden’s plans to stage a Democracy Summit is high in every country save China and Russia.The findings will also make disturbing reading for the eastern European democracies such as Hungary where only 31% of voters think their country is democratic – on a par with findings in Nigeria, Iran, Poland and Venezuela.Related: Is capitalism really coming to the rescue of American democracy?Anders Fogh Rasmussen, chair of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, former Nato chief and Danish prime minister, said:“This poll shows that democracy is still alive in people’s hearts and minds. We now need to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering more democracy and freedom to people who want to see their countries become more democratic.“The positive support for an Alliance of Democracies, whether the UK’s D10 initiative or President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, shows that people want more cooperation to push back against the autocrats. Leaders should take note of these perceptions and act upon them.”







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Global economy rests on cutting vaccine inequity: US trade chief | Business and Economy News From “Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera”



Many in US president’s party want him to waive vaccine intellectual property protection, allowing them to be copied.United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai says that making vaccines more widely available throughout the world is needed to end the coronavirus pandemic and foster economic recovery.
In remarks to a Council of the Americas conference on Tuesday, Tai said the world had made real strides towards ending the pandemic but that a lot of work lies ahead.
“That includes making the vaccine widely available and addressing the global inequity in vaccine access,” she said. “This is not just a public health requirement. Our economic recovery depends on it.”
Tai is due to discuss demands from developing countries for a World Trade Organization (WTO) waiver of intellectual property rights on coronavirus vaccines during a WTO General Council meeting later this week.
She has been meeting with the chief executives of the large vaccine manufacturers in recent days to discuss the waiver proposal and ways to boost vaccine production and distribution.
Wider distribution
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said on Sunday that Tai would “start talks on how we can get this vaccine more widely distributed, more widely licensed, more widely shared,” adding that more details would be offered in coming days.
A majority of Democrats in the US House of Representatives and many liberal Democratic senators have urged President Joe Biden’s administration to support the vaccine intellectual property waiver, arguing it would help save lives and prioritise people over drug company profits.
President Biden’s US trade representative Katherine Tai [File: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Bloomberg]The pharmaceuticals industry sees the proposed waiver as too broad and would set a precedent that would erode incentives to develop future vaccines.
Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer, the head of the Ways and Means trade subcommittee, told reporters that Tai and other US officials were trying to develop a path forward and narrowing the scope of the proposed waiver could help reassure industry.
Representative Rosa DeLauro told reporters she spoke with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo earlier on Wednesday and saw “some positive signs” the Biden administration was committed to aiding other countries in the current humanitarian crisis.
A dozen Republicans in the House of Representatives wrote to Tai on Tuesday to urge her to continue opposing the intellectual property rights waiver, arguing it would not meaningfully improve vaccine availability.
“The scope of the requested waiver is overbroad and unjustified in light of the economic harm it would cause and the negligible benefits it would provide,” wrote the members, led by House Judiciary Committee senior Republican Darrell Issa.







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Huawei and ZTE left out of India's 5G trials From “BBC News – World”



India has signalled a tighter approach to its mobile networks, which could affect Huawei and ZTE.







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Australian Court To Examine Contentious Travel Ban From Covid-Hit India From “NDTV News – World-news”



Scott Morrison this week banned arrivals from India, which is recording thousands of new cases. (File)Sydney: An Australian court on Wednesday agreed to hear a challenge to the country’s controversial ban on citizens returning home from coronavirus-hit India.A federal court said it would urgently hear a case brought by a 73-year-old man living in Bangalore who wishes to return.Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week banned arrivals from India, which is recording hundreds of thousands of new coronavirus infections each day.Under the measures, Australian citizens who return home face jail time and heavy fines.The move has caused widespread outrage, with Morrison’s own allies describing it as racist and an abandonment of vulnerable Australians overseas.The conservative government has argued the ban is necessary to prevent Australia’s quarantine facilities from being overwhelmed with Covid-positive arrivals.Christopher Ward, the lawyer representing the 73-year-old man, said his client was challenging the ban on several grounds of constitutionality, “proportionality and reasonableness”.Justice Stephen Burley ordered that a further hearing date would be set in the next 24 to 48 hours.Australia has no widespread community transmission of Covid-19, but has seen several outbreaks emerge from hotel quarantine facilities, causing disruptive city lockdowns.There are estimated to be around 9,000 Australian citizens in India, including high-profile cricketers playing the now-suspended Indian Premier League.Morrison on Tuesday refused to amend the ban but insisted it was “highly unlikely” the punishment would ever be meted out.The ban is currently scheduled to run until May 15.Monash University constitutional law professor Luke Beck predicted it would be difficult for the challenge to succeed, and even a temporary injunction is unlikely.”The Australian constitution doesn’t set out very many rights that individuals have,” he told AFP, adding that there is no explicit right to return home.The challenge may be trying to convince the court that the measures are disproportionate to the threat, but “judges tend to side with the government’s public health expert”, he said.”It’s quite unlikely that this challenge will succeed.”(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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Officials joke about territorial war after Belgian farmer mistakenly moves border with France — RT World News From “RT World News”



A Belgian farmer accidentally expanded his nation’s borders and violated a 200-year-old treaty with France after clearing a stone near his property. Thankfully, local officials believe war can be avoided.

The farmer, from the Belgian village of Erquelinnes, located on the border with France, reportedly moved a large stone 2.29 meters (7.5 feet) so that his tractor could pass through the area. Apparently unbeknownst to the man, the stone marked the France-Belgian border established in 1819. The farmer allegedly also repositioned some of his fences, scooping up a small area of French territory. French and Belgian officials were alerted to the marker’s incorrect location after a history buff surveyed the area with some vintage maps. The marker was installed as part of the Treaty of Kortrijk, signed after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815.Luckily, both sides of the territorial ‘dispute’ are not taking the treaty violation very seriously. 

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“I was happy, my town was bigger,” Erquelinnes’ mayor, David Lavaux, told French TV. “But the mayor of Bousignies-sur-Roc didn’t agree.””We should be able to avoid a new border war,” Aurelie Welonek, the mayor of the neighboring French village, joked.  The farmer has been asked to return the toe stone to its original location. If he refuses, officials have suggested, perhaps in jest, that the Belgian foreign ministry would need to get involved, which could in turn activate a Franco-Belgian border commission that has not met since 1930. Like this story? Share it with a friend!







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