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COVID-19: New Guidelines Preclude Tests for Those Finishing Home Quarantine – The Wire Science
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COVID-19: New Guidelines Preclude Tests for Those Finishing Home Quarantine – The Wire Science

Featured image: Chennai municipal corporation workers paste notice outside houses of people placed under home isolation, March 24, 2020. Photo: PTI New Delhi: With a large number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 showing no symptoms of the viral infection, the Union health ministry has revised home isolation guidelines to include asymptomatic positive patients in the list of mild or pre-symptomatic coronavirus infection cases. However, immuno-compromised patients (included HIV, transplant recipients, cancer therapy) are not eligible for home isolation, state the revised guidelines released on Thursday. Elderly patients aged above 60 years and those with co-morbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung/liver/kidney disease and cerebro-vascul...
COVID-19: ICMR’s Rush to Produce ‘Indian Vaccine’ Suggests Politics is Driving Science – The Wire Science
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COVID-19: ICMR’s Rush to Produce ‘Indian Vaccine’ Suggests Politics is Driving Science – The Wire Science

Bengaluru: July 2 turned out to be an unexpectedly tumultuous day for the Indian medical community. Director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargava sent a letter to various institutions around the country asking them to begin human clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine named COVAXIN, to be manufactured by Hyderabad-based drugmaker Bharat Biotech (BB). BB had announced on June 29 via a press release that it had received permission from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to begin these trials, as well as touted a claim that COVAXIN was India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. In his July 2 letter, Dr Bhargava urged the institutions – specifically, 12 hospitals and research centres around the country – to begin enrolling participants for the ...
What Moral Philosophy Teaches Us About Eliminating Drug Tests on Animals in India – The Wire Science
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What Moral Philosophy Teaches Us About Eliminating Drug Tests on Animals in India – The Wire Science

Representative image. Photo: Olga/Pexels. Many drug and cosmetics manufacturers across the world currently test the safety and potency of their products on animals. As a result, thousands of animals like rabbits, rats, mice, monkeys and dogs are frequently kept in subpar conditions in laboratories, and suffer physical and psychological trauma. Sustained campaigns by the global animal rights movement have resulted in corporations and governments considering alternatives. India was the first South Asian country to ban animal testing for cosmetics, and was lauded by commentators across the world. However, animal testing becomes murkier when it comes to testing for drugs, particularly life-saving drugs. No country in the world has completely banned animal testing for drugs. In India, the ...
How Indigenous is Bharat Biotech’s New COVID-19 Vaccine, Covaxin? – The Wire Science
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How Indigenous is Bharat Biotech’s New COVID-19 Vaccine, Covaxin? – The Wire Science

Representative image. Photo: Reuters. Earlier this week, Bharat Biotech announced that it had developed a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, named Covaxin, together with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune. The company had also received permission from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to begin human trials, expected to commence in August. On Thursday, the ICMR’s Balram Bhargava said in a letter to Bharat Biotech, “It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials.” Bharat Biotech is a reputed drug manufacturer that delivers four billion doses around the world for infections like rotavirus, hepatitis, Zika, Japanese encephalitis and oth...
Who Should Foot the Plastic Pollution Bill? – The Wire Science
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Who Should Foot the Plastic Pollution Bill? – The Wire Science

Photo: Krizjohn Rosales/Pexels. The recent announcement by Amazon India to phase out single-use plastics packaging under its extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a much-delayed but nevertheless welcome proposition. It sets a precedent for the e-commerce sector as well as for the FMCG, electronics and other sectors that use plastics for packaging. Of the glut of life-altering ecological issues facing the planet, plastic pollution is perhaps the most enduring. It represents a complex problem with intercalated issues of economic interests, consumer behaviour, governance and policymaking. While simultaneous interventions are essential across the board, certain areas are crucial for achieving lasting change. Specifically, corporate behaviour is key when it comes to the plastic crisis, ...
Botswana Investigating Mystery Deaths of at Least 275 Elephants – The Wire Science
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Botswana Investigating Mystery Deaths of at Least 275 Elephants – The Wire Science

Gabarone: Botswana is investigating a growing number of unexplained deaths of elephants, having confirmed 275 had died, up from 154 two weeks ago, the government said on Thursday. The dead elephants were first spotted months ago in the Okavango Panhandle region, and the authorities say they have since been trying to discover the cause. Poaching has been ruled out as the cause of death, as the carcasses were found intact. “Three laboratories in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Canada have been identified to process the samples taken from the dead elephants,” the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism said in a statement. In a report prepared for the government and seen by Reuters, Elephants Without Borders (EWB), a conservation organisation, said that its aerial ...
A COVID-19 Vaccine for India Is Only a Part of the Answer – The Wire Science
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A COVID-19 Vaccine for India Is Only a Part of the Answer – The Wire Science

A 3D print of a spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 in front of a print of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle. The spike protein enables the virus to enter and infect human cells. Caption and photo: niaid/Flickr, CC BY 2.0. India’s response to the coronavirus pandemic was rapid and decisive. It began with the termination of international travel and public advocacy of mandatory masking and social distancing, at a time when political leaders of many wealthier countries were still dithering on both these issues. However, the lockdown of all economic activity, cessation of domestic and local travel and curbs on individual mobility that followed – with only four hours’ notice – unleashed an economic crisis as well as the worst humanitarian crisis India has witnessed in recent times. Its impact on the hund...
Sebastian Vettel could walk away from F1 for good without right offer
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Sebastian Vettel could walk away from F1 for good without right offer

By: AP | Spielberg | Updated: July 2, 2020 11:42:25 pm Sebastian Vettel is a four-time F1 champion. (Source: Reuters) Sebastian Vettel is prepared to walk away from Formula One for good if he doesn’t get a convincing offer for next season. The four-time F1 champion will leave Ferrari at the end of the year after failing to get a new contract. He faces an uncertain future with only limited options available for 2021 and has not started discussions with other teams. The truncated season starts Sunday at the Austrian Grand Prix. “I want to make sure I make the right decision for myself and my future. I have a very competitive natu...
Lewis Hamilton says ‘silence’ criticism was not aimed at F1 rivals
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Lewis Hamilton says ‘silence’ criticism was not aimed at F1 rivals

By: Reuters | Published: July 2, 2020 6:23:21 pm Lewis Hamilton is pictured on the track. (Source: Reuters) Six times world champion Lewis Hamilton says he was not targeting Formula One rivals when he condemned the sport’s silence on racial injustice and the lack of diversity. Hamilton, who starts his bid for a record-equalling seventh title in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, has been vocal in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and racial equality. The 35-year-old Mercedes driver, who will be in black overalls and driving a black car with the message ‘End Racism’ on it this season, last month criticise...
Bringing Andrology – and Male Infertility – Out of the Shadows – The Wire Science
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Bringing Andrology – and Male Infertility – Out of the Shadows – The Wire Science

Adam Glogau knew he had reached rock bottom when, in March 2014, he found himself in his living room with a 9mm handgun in his mouth. He felt helpless and angry, with nowhere to turn. He and his wife had tried for years to have a child, but his semen contained almost no sperm, which left little room for hope. Glogau cuts a dynamic figure with glowing blue eyes and rimless glasses. Now 39, he is an eloquent speaker and a youth pastor at the Grace Downtown church in Winchester, Virginia, which is known for providing support to victims of the opioid epidemic. Six years ago, however, Glogau’s life was coming apart. He and his wife had fostered two children, but the arrangement ended badly, with the children going to another family. Then Glogau lost the job he’d held for seven years. “I fel...
Formula 1 season starts 4 months later in a different world
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Formula 1 season starts 4 months later in a different world

By: AP | Published: July 2, 2020 12:09:41 pm The truncated campaign kicks off with back-to-back races in Austria, as part of a hastily reworked schedule. (FILE) Four months after the opening race was called off at the last minute, the Formula One season finally gets underway this weekend on another continent and in a different-looking world. There will be no fans on hand at the remote Spielberg track in Austria, with the coronavirus still creating uncertainty over how many races can actually be held and where. That may not be the only unusual sight, as drivers are discussing whether to take the knee together on the grid before ...
Why Does It Take So Long to Develop a Vaccine? – The Wire Science
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Why Does It Take So Long to Develop a Vaccine? – The Wire Science

Featured image: A small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine” sticker is held near a medical syringe in front of displayed “Coronavirus COVID-19” words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic The COVID-19 coronavirus has knocked our world off its axis. We won’t return to anything approaching normal — that is, life without social distancing, quarantines, masks, school closures and other control measures — until most of the world has been vaccinated against the virus. Everyone, therefore, has the same question on their mind: How fast will a vaccine be ready? The history of vaccine development is not encouraging. “I’ve been working on vaccines for a long time,” says Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the US National Institute of Allerg...
COVID-19: With Community Support and Solidarity, Sikkim Weathers a Lockdown – The Wire Science
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COVID-19: With Community Support and Solidarity, Sikkim Weathers a Lockdown – The Wire Science

Featured image: A sight in a village in West Sikkim, on the periphery of the Khangchendzonga National Park. Photo: Rashmi Singh. Sikkim was India’s only state that was free of COVID-19 for a long time, and recorded its first case only on May 23. The state responded proactively to contain the spread of the virus. However, the number of active cases spike in late June, after students native to the state returned home from different parts of the country. On June 25, the number of active cases was more than 50. As a Himalayan state with snow-clad mountains, rich biodiversity and a diverse cultural heritage, Sikkim has always been a popular tourist destination in India for both domestic and foreign tourists. While the COVID-19 epidemic didn’t affect the people of Sikkim very much, consideri...
Health Ministry Hasn’t Shared Info on Non-COVID Disease Outbreaks Since March – The Wire Science
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Health Ministry Hasn’t Shared Info on Non-COVID Disease Outbreaks Since March – The Wire Science

New Delhi: The last time the government of India provided information on disease outbreaks that were not COVID-19 was for the week ended March 22 – around the time the lockdown was imposed – The Hindu reported. The ministry of health and family welfare’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme is supposed to issue weekly reports on disease outbreaks in various parts of the country, drawing from its surveillance network spread across 600 districts. But this year, the ISDP has not published any report beyond week 12 of the year, i.e. March 16-22, on its website. The website contains 52 published reports for each year since 2009. In addition, the twelfth week’s report reported substantially fewer disease outbreaks compared to the last few years. Between March 16 and March 22, 2020, ther...
Blood test can predict severity of Covid-19: Study – Times of India
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Blood test can predict severity of Covid-19: Study – Times of India

WASHINGTON: Doctors can examine the blood of Covid-19 patients to identify those at greatest risk of severe illness and to pinpoint those most likely to need a ventilator, according to researchers, including one of Indian-origin. The research could lead to new treatments to prevent deadly "cytokine storms" seen in severe cases of Covid-19, the researchers said. It also may help explain why diabetes contributes to worse outcomes in patients with the coronavirus, they said. The scientists, including Mayuresh Abhyankar from the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine in the US, found that the levels of a particular cytokine in the blood upon diagnosis could be used to predict later outcomes. Cytokines -- proteins produced by immune cells -- are responsible for severe overreactions ...
Patanjali Can Sell Its Drug But Not as COVID-19 ‘Cure’ – The Wire Science
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Patanjali Can Sell Its Drug But Not as COVID-19 ‘Cure’ – The Wire Science

Featured image: Acharya Balkrishna and Baba Ramdev. Photo: Reuters Haridwar/New Delhi: Yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved on Wednesday said there are no AYUSH Ministry restrictions on selling Coronil, a drug the company recently launched as a cure for COVID-19 but is now calling it a product to manage the disease. The Union ministry confirmed that Patanjali can sell the product but not as a cure for COVID-19. The AYUSH Ministry has only given permission to sell this particular formulation as an immunity booster and not as a medicinal cure for COVID-19, it said. At a press conference in Haridwar, Ramdev claimed the ministry has said that Patanjali did an appropriate job for COVID-19 management . “I want to tell people who want to try these medicines that there is no restriction on the...
Coronavirus may infect heart cells of Covid-19 patients, scientists say – Times of India
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Coronavirus may infect heart cells of Covid-19 patients, scientists say – Times of India

LOS ANGELES: Researchers, including those of Indian-origin, have shown that the novel coronavirus can infect lab-grown cardiac muscle cells, indicating it may be possible for the virus to directly cause heart infection in Covid-19 patients. The study, published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, was based on experiments conducted in lab-grown heart muscle cells which were produced from unspecialised human stem cells. "We not only uncovered that these stem cell-derived heart cells are susceptible to infection by novel coronavirus, but that the virus can also quickly divide within the heart muscle cells," said study co-author Arun Sharma from the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute in the US. "Even more significant, the infected heart cells showed changes in...
A Story in Images: Why Does Bihar’s Koshi River Change Course So Often? – The Wire Science
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A Story in Images: Why Does Bihar’s Koshi River Change Course So Often? – The Wire Science

Featured image: Silt deposition at Koshi embankment at Navbhata, near Saharsa, Bihar. Caption and photo: Manoj nav/Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0. There are many articles on the Koshi river and its flooding in Bihar. I prepared this thread to visually explain it. Despite being far from the sea, most of the people in Bihar live at an elevation of less than 100 m above sea level, similar to Kerala. Topography of Bihar. Image: Raj Bhagat PalanichamyThe Koshi river is a tributary of the Ganga. Its watershed covers Mt Everest but its confluence with the Ganges is just 25 m above sea level – both within an aerial distance of 300 km! Along with seasonal rainfall, these features lead to massive erosion as well as deposition. Image: Raj Bhagat PalanichamyA cross-sectional profile of the watershed shows t...
Congo Announces End of Second-Deadliest Ebola Outbreak, in Country’s East – The Wire Science
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Congo Announces End of Second-Deadliest Ebola Outbreak, in Country’s East – The Wire Science

Moise Vaghemi (L), 33, an Ebola survivor who works as a nurse, gets dressed in a protective suit as he prepares to start his shift at an Ebola treatment centre (ETC) in Katwa, near Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, October 2, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Zohra Bensemra Kinshasa: The second-largest Ebola outbreak on record is over after nearly two years and more than 2,200 deaths, Democratic Republic of Congo said on Thursday, even as a separate flare-up of the virus continued on the other side of the country. Despite effective vaccines and treatments that dramatically boosted survival rates, the outbreak dragged on as first responders struggled to gain access to virus hotspots in Congo’s restive east. “Compared to previous outbreaks, this last one was the longest, the most complex ...
COVID-19 Is Boosting Demand for Universal Healthcare – but Won’t Get Us There – The Wire Science
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COVID-19 Is Boosting Demand for Universal Healthcare – but Won’t Get Us There – The Wire Science

Photo: ReadyElements/pixabay. With the COVID-19 exposing the fragility of India’s healthcare system and the profiteering nature of corporate hospitals, there has been some optimistic expectation of substantial change in the healthcare scenario of the country post-pandemic. However, the cynic knows that there rarely is a “trickle-up” of activist sentiments and intellectual rationale into the élite corridors of power. In fact India’s administration has its priorities sorted. The NITI Aayog is going ahead with its plans to create more private medical care centres by privatising district hospitals. Ayushman Bharat authorities seem to think it’s a good idea to allow the World Bank – the ideas of which have weakened government healthcare facilities in many countries – to influence their anal...