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New therapy for flu may help fight Covid-19: Study – Times of India
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New therapy for flu may help fight Covid-19: Study – Times of India

NEW YORK: Scientists have developed a new therapy for influenza virus infections that may also prove effective against many other pathogenic virus infections, including HIV and Covid-19. In an average year, more than two million people in the US are hospitalized with the flu, and 30,000 to 80,000 of them die from it or related complications. According to the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the research team used a targeted therapy approach against virus infections. "We target all of the antiviral drugs we develop specifically to virus-infected cells," said study author Philip S. Low from the Purdue University in the US. "That way, we treat the diseased cells without harming healthy cells. We use this capability to deliver immune-activating drugs selectively into f...
Becoming a court of all citizens
Science

Becoming a court of all citizens

In 1944, at the height of the World War II, the best judge not appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Justice Learned Hand, was welcoming new citizens, who were taking the oath of citizenship. In a classic oration, which became famous as the Spirit of Liberty address, he told them: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.”Earlier this year, Sadhana Ramachandran and I were appointed by the Supreme Court (SC) to be interlocutors for the protesters at Shaheen Bagh. The first day of the interlocution was very important. We would not have a second chance to make a good first impression. While talking to the protesters, we went prepared to...
When China wanted to make peace with India
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When China wanted to make peace with India

In April 1960, Zhou Enlai embarked on an ambitious diplomatic mission to India to attempt a resolution. Let us recall the context. The previous year, Sino-Soviet differences had come to the fore, ironically because Moscow publicly broke ranks with Beijing by taking a neutral position on the India-China dispute, and by the first half of 1960, Moscow had withdrawn its experts from China and suspended all economic contracts. The year 1959 had also witnessed two border skirmishes between India and China, including an especially nasty one in the western sector in Ladakh where nearly a dozen Indian security personnel were killed during a patrol in October.As a consequence, the Chinese had come under pressure, particularly from the Soviets. In a rather heated conversation between...
Biden’s team of liberal internationalists
Science

Biden’s team of liberal internationalists

The incoming Joe Biden administration has chosen a foreign policy team of liberal internationalists in an era of hard-edged realism. The question for New Delhi is not whether they have knowledge or affection for India. There is an equilibrium in the India-United States (US) ties from which no administration will stray far. The question New Delhi needs to ask is whether the incoming Biden administration understands that the tenets of an earlier post-war global order increasingly no longer hold true. And that the primary reason for this is a powerful and pugnacious China.Mr Biden’s senior-most appointments, Anthony Blinken as secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser, are drawn from the Obama administration. The first Obama administration was a mix of...
Scientists Find Microplastics Pollution on Mount Everest – The Wire Science
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Scientists Find Microplastics Pollution on Mount Everest – The Wire Science

A porter carries goods at camp four at Everest, in this picture taken on May 20, 2016. Photo: Phurba Tenjing Sherpa/Handout via Reuters. New Delhi: Scientists have discovered microplastic pollution in snow near the peak of Mount Everest, according to studies published in the journal One Earth. Scientists found microplastics – tiny plastic fibres – within a few hundred metres of the world’s highest mountain, at a spot called the balcony, located at 27,500 feet, just a few hours climb from Everest’s summit. Their analysis showed that snow samples collected from 11 locations between base camp and the balcony on the Himalayan peak contained sufficient quantity of microplastic fibres to constitute pollution. One reason the scientists cited for the high concentrat...
Why Is the Government Afraid of Implementing the Forest Rights Act? – The Wire Science
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Why Is the Government Afraid of Implementing the Forest Rights Act? – The Wire Science

Representative photo, of trees at Fort Kochi. Photo: Firosnv/Unsplash. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), the nodal ministry for the Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA), constituted a committee earlier this year to examine and recommend model guidelines for conservation, management and sustainable use of community forest resources (CFR) under FRA. The tenure of this committee has now been extended by two months, ending this December. Headed by N.C Saxena, a former bureaucrat and member of the erstwhile Planning Commission, the committee has representatives of tribal affairs, environment and panchayat raj ministries, principal secretaries of tribal development from various states and members of some civil society organisations. Community forest resources CFR is ...
Major Study Unveils Vast Diversity of Africa’s Genetic Variation – The Wire Science
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Major Study Unveils Vast Diversity of Africa’s Genetic Variation – The Wire Science

Photo: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/Flickr, CC BY 2.0 Africa is the cradle of humankind. All humans are descendants from this common pool of ancestors. Africa and its multitude of ethnolinguistic groups are therefore fundamental to learning more about humankind and our origins. A human genome refers to the complete set of genetic information found in a human cell. We inherit our genomes from our parents. Studying the variations in different people’s genomes gives important clues to how genetic information influences people’s appearance and health. It can also tell us about our ancestry. To date, very few African individuals have been included in studies looking at genetic variation. Studying African genomes not only fills a gap in the current understanding of human g...
NGT Calls Unused Relief Funds for Industrial Accident Victims ‘Travesty’ – The Wire Science
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NGT Calls Unused Relief Funds for Industrial Accident Victims ‘Travesty’ – The Wire Science

Featured image: Industrial accident for representational purpose. Photo: Needpix/JensonWaldo/Public Domain. New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed concern over environment relief funds set up for victims of accidents suffered while working with hazardous substances being unused. As of March 2020, the fund amounted to Rs 881 crore. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed the Union environment ministry to take necessary action. According to the Public Liability Insurance (PLI) Act 1991, a relief fund is to be created by the owners of factories where workers handle hazardous substances. If a worker is injured or dies in the course or as a result of handling these substances, the company is to use the money to...
Diabetic eye disease associated with five-fold risk of severe Covid-19 – Times of India
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Diabetic eye disease associated with five-fold risk of severe Covid-19 – Times of India

LONDON: People with diabetes and eye disease have a five-fold increased risk of requiring intubation when hospitalised with Covid-19, suggest the findings of a new study. The study, published today in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice by King's College London, identified for the first time the risk associated with diabetic retinopathy and Covid-19. Diabetic eye disease is a common complication of diabetes and is caused by damage to the small blood vessels in the eye. In 2014, the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy was 54.6% in people with Type 1 diabetes and 30.0 per cent in people with Type 2 diabetes. The study investigated 187 people with diabetes (179 with type 2 diabetes and 8 with type 1 diabetes) hospitalised with Covid-19 at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust betwee...
Lucky Mistake in Oxford Vaccine Trial Cheers Company, Stumps Scientists – The Wire Science
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Lucky Mistake in Oxford Vaccine Trial Cheers Company, Stumps Scientists – The Wire Science

A stroke of good fortune from a dosing error will pave the way for AstraZeneca and Oxford University to submit their COVID-19 vaccine for regulatory clearance. The British drugmaker said on Monday that the vaccine could be around 90% effective when administered as a half-dose followed by a full dose a month later, citing data from late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil. “The reason we had the half-dose is serendipity,” Mene Pangalos, the head of AstraZeneca’s non-oncology research and development, told Reuters. A larger group who had received two full doses – as planned – resulted in an efficacy read-out of 62%, leading to an overall average efficacy of 70% across both dosing patterns. Around the time when AstraZeneca was initiating its partnership with Oxf...
No. of International Students at US Institutions Drops for Fourth Year – The Wire Science
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No. of International Students at US Institutions Drops for Fourth Year – The Wire Science

A graduating master’s student from Columbia University stands on campus the day before his graduation ceremony on May 15, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Kelly For the fourth year in a row, the number of international students enrolled at US colleges and universities has declined. This is according to data released this month by the State Department and the Institute of International Education. The fact that the decline largely took place during Donald Trump’s presidency is no mere coincidence. The Trump administration has tightened restrictions on who can study here and has also sent signals that students from abroad are not welcome. As the Trump administration comes to an end, the new international enrollment data serve as sort of a failing grade for an admin...
Ayurveda Needs an Intellectual Reinvention – The Wire Science
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Ayurveda Needs an Intellectual Reinvention – The Wire Science

An assortment of packaged Ayurvedic remedies rest in a store. Photo: longislandwins/Flickr, CC BY 2.0. In his address to mark Ayurveda Day, on November 13, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the setting up of a ‘Global Centre for Traditional Medicine’ in India. A couple days ago, a statutory body of the Ministry of AYUSH published a gazette notification that postgraduate scholars of Ayurvedic training institutions may perform nearly 60 types of general surgery. This possibility has been part of the body’s regulations for many years now; it has now received a new push because of the notification. But notwithstanding the Government of India’s elation about Ayurveda’s growing popularity, the fact remains that Ayurveda is widely perceiv...
MMR vaccine may protect against Covid-19, says study – Times of India
Science

MMR vaccine may protect against Covid-19, says study – Times of India

WASHINGTON: The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine may provide protection against Covid-19, according to a study that could also explain why children have a much lower case rate and death rate of the disease than adults. The MMR vaccine has been theorised to provide protection against Covid-19, and now the study, published in the journal mBio, provides further proof of this by showing that mumps IgG titers, or levels of IgG antibody, are inversely correlated with severity in recovered Covid-19 patients previously vaccinated with the MMR II vaccine. MMR II contains the Edmonston strain of measles, the Jeryl Lynn (B-level) strain of mumps, and the Wistar RA 27/3 strain of rubella, the researchers said. "We found a statistically significant inverse correlation between mumps titer levels a...
Planning for a post-Covid world | HT Editorial
Science

Planning for a post-Covid world | HT Editorial

The Group of Twenty (G20) ended its annual summit without deliverables, but with a sense that global leaders have begun shifting their gaze to a post-Covid-19 world. The G20 has been largely missing in action through much of the pandemic. The inability to have physical interactions inhibited genuine diplomatic outreach. More dama-ging was the every-government-for-itself scramble that followed the outbreak, something that left little space for the spirit of multilateralism. The hostility between the two most powerful nations, the United States and China, did not make summitry easier. In any summit, participants reach out to their domestic public as well as lay out an agenda for their fellow world leaders. Outgoing US President Donald Trump’s decision to play golf during a s...
No Guaranteed Customers for Adani’s $6 Billion Indian Solar Project – The Wire Science
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No Guaranteed Customers for Adani’s $6 Billion Indian Solar Project – The Wire Science

Workers carry a damaged photovoltaic panel inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, July 2, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave/Files. New Delhi: Adani Green Energy’s record $6 billion solar power project announced in June has no guaranteed customer, its deal with India’s main solar-adoption agency shows, and may expose the company to higher financial risk. Shares in the firm, controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, have soared three-fold since the signing of the 8 gigawatt (GW) multi-plant deal, which Adani hailed as the “largest of its type, ever” and a landmark for India. However, previously unreported details of the agreement between Adani Green and Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd. (SECI) reveal the agency has no “legal or financial obligation” to support...
The COVID-19 Vaccine Must Be Universally Available. Anything Less Is Immoral. – The Wire Science
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The COVID-19 Vaccine Must Be Universally Available. Anything Less Is Immoral. – The Wire Science

A woman wearing a protective face mask, March 2020. Photo: Nik Anderson/vperemen.com/Flickr, CC BY 2.0. There was a collective sigh of relief at the news that Pfizer’s early results show an effective COVID-19 vaccine may be on the horizon. Pfizer’s boss trumpeted the announcement by declaring: “Today is a great day for science and humanity.” A vaccine breakthrough is indeed great news but sadly it’s not for the whole of humanity – just a small fraction. Over 80% of the Pfizer vaccine stocks up to the end of next year have already been hoarded by rich countries such as the UK, US, EU, Japan and Canada. Collectively these countries represent just 14% of the global population. If Pfizer’s vaccine is approved, the majority of the world’s population – living main...
In Nepal, how domestic politics is colliding with geopolitics
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In Nepal, how domestic politics is colliding with geopolitics

Last month, Nepal’s Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli’s government quietly issued a circular to its administration to replace “Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal” with “Nepal” in its documents. Many saw it as a matter of practicality. To others, however, the move showed Oli in his true political colour — a conservative leader, who had never owned up to Nepal’s 2006 political transformation to a secular federal democratic republic from the 250-year-old Hindu monarchy that had put a tight political leash on Nepal’s linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity.The 2006 mass movement was led by civil society groups and political parties, including Oli’s own then-Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML). But well into the second decade of the mass movement, the...
Climate Change: What’s Happening on the Largest Island in the World? – The Wire Science
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Climate Change: What’s Happening on the Largest Island in the World? – The Wire Science

Featured image: Eastern Greenland. Photo: mariohagen/Pixabay, Public Domain. Greenland is the largest island in the world and on it rests the largest ice mass in the Northern Hemisphere. If all that ice melted, the sea would rise by more than seven metres. But that’s not going to happen, is it? Well not any time soon, but understanding how much of the ice sheet might melt over the coming century is a critical and urgent question that scientists are trying to tackle using sophisticated numerical models of how the ice sheet interacts with the rest of the climate system. The problem is that the models aren’t that good at reproducing recent observations and are limited by our poor knowledge of the detailed topography of the subglacial terrain and fjords, which the...
AstraZeneca Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Has 90% Efficacy – The Wire Science
Science

AstraZeneca Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Has 90% Efficacy – The Wire Science

AstraZeneca’s logo is reflected in a drop on a syringe needle. Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo. AstraZeneca said on Monday its vaccine candidate for the novel coronavirus, developed along with the University of Oxford, showed an ‘average’ efficacy of 70% in protecting against the virus in two study segments. AstraZeneca has become the latest drugmaker to unveil positive interim data in a race to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The data was obtained from late-stage trials in Britain and Brazil. According to AstraZeneca, it indicates that the vaccine candidate was 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 when administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart. Another dosing regimen showed 62% efficacy when given as two full...
Post-Grad Ayurveda Docs Can Train To Perform Surgeries, IMA Miffed – The Wire Science
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Post-Grad Ayurveda Docs Can Train To Perform Surgeries, IMA Miffed – The Wire Science

New Delhi: The government has issued a notification authorising post-graduate practitioners in specified streams of Ayurveda to be trained to perform surgical procedures such as excisions of benign tumours, nasal and cataract surgeries, a move which has drawn flak from the modern medicine fraternity. The November 20 gazette notification by the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), a statutory body under the AYUSH Ministry to regulate the Indian systems of medicine, listed 39 general surgery procedures and around 19 procedures involving the eye, ear, nose and throat by amending the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016. The Indian Medical Association (IMA), the largest body of modern medicine doctors, has cond...