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In Maharashtra’s Wardha, Signs of Community Transmission in Rural India – The Wire Science
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In Maharashtra’s Wardha, Signs of Community Transmission in Rural India – The Wire Science

A medic arranges samples to test for COVID-19 with an antigen test kit, in Kolkata, August 2020. Photo: PTI/Swapan Mahapatra. New Delhi: Dr S.P. Kalantri, the medical superintendent of a hospital in rural Maharashtra, has said in an interview with IndiaSpend that there has been a sudden increase, by nearly 40%, in the fraction of people who test positive for COVID-19 at the hospital, in Wardha district, Maharashtra. Dr Kalantri said in the interview that this and other factors pointed to the presence of community transmission of the novel coronavirus in villages – where a paucity of data and the threat of monsoon diseases has always threatened to exacerbate the COVID-19 problem. Dr Kalantri is the medical superintendent at Kasturba Gandhi Hospital at Sevagram ...
CDC’s Warning on Aerosol Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Disappears From Website – The Wire Science
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CDC’s Warning on Aerosol Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Disappears From Website – The Wire Science

A view of CDC′s Tom Harkin Global Communications Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: CDC/Wikimedia Commons. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on September 21 that it had posted its guidance on possible transmission of the new coronavirus through airborne particles “in error” and that it will be updating its recommendations. “A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website,” the CDC said. The organisation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters on when the guidance would be updated or to what effect. The now-withdrawn guidance, posted on the agency’s website on September 18, had said the novel coronavirus is ferried through the air principally b...
Study suggests dengue may provide some immunity against Covid-19 – Times of India
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Study suggests dengue may provide some immunity against Covid-19 – Times of India

RIO DE JANEIRO: A new study that analyzed the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil has found a link between the spread of the virus and past outbreaks of dengue fever that suggests exposure to the mosquito-transmitted illness may provide some level of immunity against Covid-19. The not yet published study led by Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University, and shared exclusively with Reuters, compared the geographic distribution of coronavirus cases with the spread of dengue in 2019 and 2020. Places with lower coronavirus infection rates and slower case growth were locations that had suffered intense dengue outbreaks this year or last, Nicolelis found. "This striking finding raises the intriguing possibility of an immunological cross-reactivity between dengue's Flavivirus serotypes and S...
Drug used to treat coronavirus infections in cats may be effective against Covid-19: Study – Times of India
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Drug used to treat coronavirus infections in cats may be effective against Covid-19: Study – Times of India

TORONTO: A drug used to treat deadly coronavirus infections in cats could potentially be an effective treatment against SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the global coronavirus pandemic, according to a study. The finding, published in the journal Nature Communications, paves the way for human clinical trials of the drug, a protease inhibitor called GC376. "This drug is very likely to work in humans, so we are encouraged that it will be an effective treatment for Covid-19 patients," said Joanne Lemieux, a professor at the University of Alberta in Canada. However, the researchers said clinical trials will need to run their course before anyone can be sure that the drug is both safe and effective for treating COVID-19 in humans. In cats at least, GC376 works by interfering with a virus' ability...
Botswana Says Cyanobacteria Cause of Mysterious Elephant Deaths – The Wire Science
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Botswana Says Cyanobacteria Cause of Mysterious Elephant Deaths – The Wire Science

Featured image: A dead elephant is seen in this undated handout image in Okavango Delta, Botswana May-June, 2020. Photo: Handout via Reuters Gaborone: The deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana this year which had baffled and alarmed conservationists were caused by toxins produced by cyanobacteria in water, officials said on Monday. Cyril Taolo, deputy director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told a news conference that the number of dead elephants had risen to 330, from 281 last reported in July. The department’s principal veterinary officer Mmadi Reuben told the same conference that there were, however, still many unanswered questions. “Our latest tests have detected cyanobacterial neurotoxins to be the cause of deaths. These are bac...
Acquired Immunity Against Novel Coronavirus May Be Short Lived, Study Finds – The Wire Science
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Acquired Immunity Against Novel Coronavirus May Be Short Lived, Study Finds – The Wire Science

A transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in this colour-enhanced image. Photo: niaid/Flickr, CC BY 2.0. New Delhi: With many countries now reporting instances of COVID-19 reinfection, a new study suggests that acquired protective immunity from the novel coronavirus may not last more than 12 months at a time. The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, used serum samples originally collected for a study that began in the 1980s to investigate the prevalence, incidence and risk factors of HIV. The authors used the samples to look for cases of reinfection of four seasonal coronaviruses – HCoV-NL63, HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1 – which all cause respiratory tract infections but are “otherwise genetica...
India: If People Lose Trust in a COVID-19 Vaccine, We Will Lose Everything – The Wire Science
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India: If People Lose Trust in a COVID-19 Vaccine, We Will Lose Everything – The Wire Science

Representative image: A nurse fills a syringe with a vaccine before administering it at a children’s clinic in Kiev, Ukraine, August 2019. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko. Enrico Bucci is a professor of systems biology at Temple University, Philadelphia. He describes himself as – among other things – a fraud-buster. On September 7, he published a ‘note of concern’ on his blog, co-signed by 36 other scientists and academics and copied to the editor of The Lancet, the well-regarded medical science journal, raising serious concerns about data presented in a paper it had published. That data pertained to the results of phase 1/2 clinical trials of a Russian candidate vaccine against COVID-19, dubbed Sputnik V by the Russians. The vaccine, the paper concluded, was...
Maharashtra’s crumbling urban infrastructure | HT Editorial
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Maharashtra’s crumbling urban infrastructure | HT Editorial

In less than a month, another urban disaster has hit Maharashtra, with the collapse of a 30-year-old building in Bhiwandi, Thane, with at least 10 casualties. The building collapsed on Monday at 3:04 am. This comes after the Mahad building collapse which killed 16 people. The period between 2015 and 2019 saw 1,472 incidents of building collapses in Mumbai alone, with 106 people having lost their lives. This number is alarming.Maharashtra has been infamous for its urban infrastructure which is the result of a domino effect. With rapid urbanisation, buildings are often haphazardly constructed, flouting regulatory norms. The absence of planning often forces citizens to move into unregulated, unsafe buildings, and face the consequences of crumbling infrastructure. Older buildi...
The vaccine protocol | HT Editorial
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The vaccine protocol | HT Editorial

The developers of the most promising coronavirus vaccines are making a concerted effort to convince people they will uphold scientific standards in their clinical trials. First, they signed what was described as a historic safety pledge. They declared they will seek emergency approval for their candidates only after a phase 3 trial is complete, and the priority would be to ensure the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals. Last week, some of them went a step further, disclosing granular protocols and yardsticks for these trials. The information is typically considered a trade secret.History is littered with examples of what happens when scientific process is victim to public anticipation and political pressure. The earliest of this was the Cutter Incident of the m...
How Untested AYUSH Medicines Threaten India’s COVID-19 Response – The Wire Science
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How Untested AYUSH Medicines Threaten India’s COVID-19 Response – The Wire Science

Representative image: dertrick/pixabay. Recently, the Ministry of AYUSH directed the Ayush Society of Uttar Pradesh to use a kit of four supposedly Ayurvedic medicines to treat COVID-19 infection and distribute it to all districts in the state, which is India’s most populous. Patients with COVID-19-like symptoms are supposed to follow the regimen prescribed for the kit’s use for seven days, with the implied promise that they will get better in this time. To test the kit’s efficacy, the AYUSH ministry started a clinical trial in May 2020. However, the details of this study remain obscure – apart from the fact that an exceptionally large sample size of 50 lakh patients was selected. Moreover, one of the drugs in this kit, AYUSH-64, was based on the premise of a ...
To Dam or Not To Dam? Floods in Eastern Vidarbha Revive an Old Debate – The Wire Science
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To Dam or Not To Dam? Floods in Eastern Vidarbha Revive an Old Debate – The Wire Science

Floods in Bhandara. Photo: Ashu Gondane In the past few weeks, four districts of eastern Vidarbha region in Maharasthra flooded. This is a region with four major rivers, dozen-odd dams, almost 50 percent river basin area covered with lush green forests, amid the Satpura hill ranges of Madhya Pradesh – everything that otherwise is a prized asset with economic value. Extremely heavy rainfall in the region induced floods that left a trail of devastation along the riverine towns and villages. Already in distress over the increasing cases of COVID-19 and loss of livelihood for many, thousands of people from four districts of eastern Vidarbha – Nagpur, Bhandara, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli – battled floods, following the substantial downpour on August 28 and 29. Whi...
Rapid blood protein test could detect brain injury in minutes – Times of India
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Rapid blood protein test could detect brain injury in minutes – Times of India

WASHINGTON: In a breakthrough study, researchers discovered that a blood protein test could detect the severity of head trauma in under 15 minutes. The new research was published recently in the Journal of Neurotrauma. By showing that glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) can accurately determine the severity of a brain-injury" through a blood test, the research team working on this study, led by author David Okonkwo, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center at UPMC and professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, advanced the development of a point-of-care testing device designed to help clinicians assess traumatic brain-injury" (TBI) in minutes. For the rapid test, the vision included using a hand-held device with a cart...
The govt’s rush to pass key farm bills and the Opposition’s conduct were wrong
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The govt’s rush to pass key farm bills and the Opposition’s conduct were wrong

On Sunday, the Rajya Sabha passed The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. This newspaper has supported the government’s efforts to bring about a new legislative and policy architecture for agriculture as a method to empower farmers. But as far as legislation is concerned, there is both content and process. And on Sunday, there is little doubt that the process was undermined, reflecting poorly on India’s parliamentary democracy.The reforms are significant, affecting a range of stakeholders, particularly farmers. They have also generated a political backlash, with even partners in the ruling coalition such as the Shiromani Akali Dal...
At the UN, the quest for new multilateralism
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At the UN, the quest for new multilateralism

Come September, the United Nations (UN) shifts gears. Open spaces at its premises give way to tightly-configured booths for backroom diplomacy. The General Assembly Hall becomes a platform for public diplomacy. This combination of hushed conversations in backrooms and loud proclamations from public platforms attracts more than 100 Heads of State and governments. These dual forms of diplomatic endeavours make the “High Level Week” or the “Leaders’ Week” unique. While the rhetoric of the “General Debate” makes for media headlines, it is individual and group meetings, away from the limelight, that add ballast. This year, things will be different. As the UN marks its 75th anniversary, all events will be largely virtual. After much speculation that United States (US) President ...
National Board for Wildlife: Govt must follow due processes
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National Board for Wildlife: Govt must follow due processes

The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), which Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads, has not met even once in the past five years with all its 47 members in attendance, the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change ministry informed the Rajya Sabha recently. Only a standing committee of NBWL, which is authorised to exercise the board’s powers, met 23 times between 2015-16 and 2019-20. During this period, a report in this newspaper said, 680 projects were granted wildlife clearance. A full NBWL meeting is a necessity because while the committee’s function is to regulate land diversion within protected areas and eco-sensitive zones, a purely project clearance activity, NBWL has the power to deal with policy-level decisions. Wildlife conservation is a multi-discip...
Amid a Global Pandemic, Designers Aim To Reimagine PPE – The Wire Science
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Amid a Global Pandemic, Designers Aim To Reimagine PPE – The Wire Science

A man wearing a protective mask pushes a shopping trolley inside a mall after it reopened following the COVID-19 outbreak, in Mumbai, August, 5, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas In March, as Covid-19 cases spiked and supplies of N95 protective masks dwindled at the Bay Area hospital where her brother-in-law works, Megan Duong launched a local search for N95s. Along with her sister-in-law, Sabrina Paseman, Duong enlisted volunteers and tracked down 7,000 masks — barely enough to cover the needs of two hospitals for one day. “We just knew that it was not a scalable solution,” Duong said. So, Duong and Paseman, both former Apple employees, set out to invent a new tool that, they hoped, would make available mask technologies more effective and accessible. ...
New Recommendations for a Proactive Flood Policy in India – The Wire Science
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New Recommendations for a Proactive Flood Policy in India – The Wire Science

Girls row a makeshift raft past submerged houses at a flood-affected village in Karbi Anglong district, Assam, July 11, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Anuwar Hazarika/Files Just weeks after the four-month-long monsoon season commenced in June, “thousands of people are out of their homes, [and] fields and wildlife sanctuaries are under water in Assam,” said hydrologist Dulal Goswami. Goswami is a professor retired from Guahati University in Assam, a state in northeastern India that is ravaged by floods from the Brahmaputra River every year. India accounts for one fifth of global flood deaths; an average of 1,650 Indians lost their lives every year between 1953 and 2016 as a result of floods. About 40 million hectares in India are prone to flooding, and economic losses av...
ICMR Was Blocked From Sharing Sero-Survey Data From Hotspots: Researchers – The Wire Science
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ICMR Was Blocked From Sharing Sero-Survey Data From Hotspots: Researchers – The Wire Science

PM Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha on the opening day of parliament’s monsoon session, September 14, 2020. Photo: LSTV/PTI. Researchers who conducted and analysed results of India’s first national seroprevalence survey, to estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population in May 2020, have alleged that they were not allowed to include data from disease hotspots in 10 cities in the paper they published describing the survey. Sources told The Telegraph that the director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargava had asked researchers to remove the data – collected between May 11 and June 4 – because ICMR did not have the requisite approvals to publicise it. The paper was published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research this mo...
Proposed Rules for Power Consumers Could Hurt Solar Rooftop Sector – The Wire Science
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Proposed Rules for Power Consumers Could Hurt Solar Rooftop Sector – The Wire Science

Featured image: Workers carry a damaged photovoltaic panel inside a solar power plant in Gujarat, July 2, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave/Files The government of India has proposed a new set of rules for electricity consumers in the country. Among the notable ones proposed are fixing automatic compensation to consumers for delayed service and regulations for grid-interactive solar rooftop systems – a proposal that has raised concerns for the solar rooftop sector in the country. The draft Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 which were unveiled by Union Ministry of Power on September 9 stated that the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERC) shall come out with “regulations on grid-interactive rooftop solar PV (photovoltaic) system” and its relat...
India Orders States to Ensure Unimpeded Oxygen Supplies as Coronavirus Cases Hit 5.2 Million – The Wire Science
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India Orders States to Ensure Unimpeded Oxygen Supplies as Coronavirus Cases Hit 5.2 Million – The Wire Science

Featured image: A medical worker stands next to an oxygen cylinder at the Yatharth Hospital in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, September 15, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi New Delhi: India ordered its states not to hoard oxygen supplies and allow free movement amidst reports of shortages, as novel coronavirus infections hit 5.2 million on Friday, edging the country’s tally closer to the US, which is the worst-hit globally. India, which recorded 96,424 new infections in the last 24 hours, has been posting the highest single-day caseload in the world since early August, according to a Reuters tally. Oxygen supply has become scarce in some parts of India, government officials and experts said, putting critical healthcare at risk. “Any impediment ...