(Asian News Hub) – India has put a temporary hold on all major exports of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shot made by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine-maker, to meet domestic demand as infections rise, two sources told Reuters.
The move will also affect supplies to the GAVI/WHO-backed Covax vaccine-sharing facility through which more than 180 countries are expected to get doses, one of the sources said.
Covax has so far received 17.7 million AstraZeneca doses from the SII, of the 60.5 million doses India has shipped in total, and many countries are relying on the programme to immunise their citizens.
There have been no vaccine exports from India since Thursday, the foreign ministry’s website shows, as the country expands its own immunisation effort.
“Everything else has taken a backseat, for the time being at least,” said one of the sources. Both sources had direct knowledge of the matter, but declined to be named as the discussions are not public.
“No exports, nothing till the time the India situation stabilises. The government won’t take such a big chance at the moment when so many need to be vaccinated in India.”
India’s foreign ministry and the SII did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
Some delays already
The SII has already delayed shipments of the AstraZeneca drug to Brazil, Britain, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
Unicef, the UN children’s agency that is procuring and distributing vaccines for Covax, had no comment.
Covax has a deal to buy 1.1 billion doses of the AstraZeneca and Novavax shots that the SII is making in bulk, mainly for low- and middle-income countries.
Unicef in Vietnam said in a statement on Wednesday that vaccine production issues had led to delays in deliveries to all countries that were due to receive vaccines through Covax.
It did not specify the origin of those delays, although Vietnam was not expected to receive doses from the SII.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet decided this week to widen its inoculation drive by including everyone above 45 from April 1, and many states battling a surge in infections have demanded that all adults be covered.
With 11.7 million cases, India has reported the highest number of coronavirus infections after the US and Brazil.
Currently, only the elderly and those over 45 with other health conditions are eligible for vaccinations in India. Health and frontline workers were first in line when India began its drive in mid-January.
India has so far administered more than 51 million doses, of which 47 million are the SII’s locally-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The rest is the Covaxin vaccine developed in India by Bharat Biotech.
The government has so far asked the SII to supply around 141 million doses. The company has also accounted for nearly all of India’s vaccine exports.
The SII plans to boost monthly production to 100 million doses from April/May, from up to 70 million now, Reuters reported earlier this month.
Railways spent INR 69.5 lakh to ‘catch rats’ in Lucknow reveals RTI
RTI Query revealed that Lucknow division of Northern Indian Railways spent INR 69.5 Lakh for catching 168 rats, India Today reported.
In a startling revelation, the Lucknow division of Northern Railways in India has spent an unbelievable INR 69.5 lakh (approximately $93,000) between 2020 and 2022 to catch a mere 168 rats. This translates to a staggering INR 23.2 lakh (around $31,000) per year or over INR 41,000 (around $550) for every rodent. The extravagant expenditure on pest control has come to light as a result of an RTI query which had been filed by activist Chandrashekhar Gaur.
According to India Today, the response to Gaur’s RTI application has raised eyebrows and left taxpayers hacing doubts about the effectiveness of resource utilization within the Indian Railways. While pest and rodent control typically fall under the category of primary maintenance, it is extremely essential to dissect the exorbitant expenses which have been incurred by the Lucknow division of Northern Railways.
The information provided in the answer to the RTI inquiry indicates that the Lucknow division spent INR 69.5 lakh between the years 2020 and 2022, yet only 168 rats were actually seized. When these figures are broken down further, they become significantly more baffling. Rats were trapped in numbers ranging from 83 in 2020 to 45 in 2021 to 40 in 2022. The decreasing numbers, in spite of continued spending, highlight the ineffectiveness of the pest control strategy.
The controversy arose after the RTI query which revealed that the division had spent a staggering INR 69.5 lakh. The division’s statement sheds light on the nature of their rat control efforts as well as tries to put the expenses, which appear enormous, into perspective.
According to Railways statement cited by India Today, the Indian Railways went on to provide additional context, highlighting that the expenditure needs to be viewed in the context of the enormous number of coaches they have the responsibility to maintain. With an average of 25,000 coaches addressed every year, the approximate cost for rodent control per coach comes to a just INR 94.
The statement further mentions that this is a “very minimal cost considering the damage and destruction which can be caused by rodents.”
However, it is important to note that the Railways declined to respond to Chandrashekhar Gaur’s question about the cost of damage that was caused by rats, citing that no damage assessment had been carried out. The claim that trapping one rat costs INR 41,000, as was previously reported, is flatly refuted by the Indian Railways division in Lucknow. The information provided has been dismissed as a misrepresentation of reality as well as distortion of facts intended to harm the credibility of Indian Railways, according to the Railways statement.
Thief fails to rob bank, leaves note praising ‘good’ security system
After failing to open the lockers, a criminal recently applauded a bank for its security. On Thursday, August 31, the burglar attempted to break into a bank in Telangana. But he was unable to open the lockers, therefore he was unable to obtain even a single rupee. The robber left a message stating that he was impressed with the security system, “My fingerprints will not be there. Great bank. Please don’t catch me because I couldn’t get a single rupee.
According to reports, the incident occurred on Thursday night at a Telangana branch of Grameen Bank. The staff of the bank found the note when they arrived on Friday morning and realised that there was an attempt to rob the bank. The burglar’s movements were captured on CCTV surveillance cameras, but the thief was cautious enough to cover his face, said police. The police suspect the thief to be a local and not a banker.
The employees of the bank confirmed that all the valuables present in the bank were intact.
Woman’s head crushed by vehicle after she sticks her head out of bus to vomit
In Delhi’s Alipur neighborhood, a 20-year-old lady trying to vomit out of a bus window was killed when her head was crushed by an approaching vehicle while she was traveling to meet her brother in Punjab for Raksha Bandhan, according to police as reported by ANI.
According to the police, the victim was identified as Babli, a resident of Pratapgarh district in Uttar Pradesh.
Police on Wednesday received the information about the incident from the Satyawadi Raja Harish Chandra Hospital (SRHC) hospital in Narela where the victim had been taken in an injured state.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (outer north) Ravi Kumar Singh said that by the time police reached the hospital, the 20-year-old was pronounced dead.
During the investigation, it was revealed that Babli was travelling from Pratapgarh to meet her brother in Ludhiana, Punjab. She had taken a Haryana Roadways bus from Kashmere Gate ISBT and was accompanied by her sister Poonam and brother-in-law Santosh, and their three children.
According to the police, the deceased felt sick near the Alipur area and stuck her head out of the bus window to vomit when an oncoming vehicle crushed her head from the driver’s side.
“A legal action is being taken in the matter. The CCTV footage is also being checked to identify the offending vehicle and its driver,” said the police.
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