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UN chief voices appreciation for India”s leadership in fight against COVID-19, vaccine assistance

(Asian News Hub) – India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti on Saturday said that UN chief Antonio Guterres, in a letter dated February 17, “extends his personal gratitude” to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar for “India’s offer of 200,000 doses” of COVID-19 vaccines for UN peacekeepers.

Guterres has voiced appreciation for India’s leadership in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its efforts to bring a “much-needed supply” of the COVID-19 vaccines to the world market.

The Secretary-General says “India has been a global leader in pandemic response efforts”, Tirumurti tweeted, expressing his gratitude to the UN Chief.

In an excerpt of the letter tweeted by Tirumurti, Guterres says, “Indeed, India has been a global leader in pandemic response efforts having provided critical medicines, diagnostic kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment to more than 150 countries.

“Efforts by India in developing and manufacturing one of the two vaccines currently granted Emergency Use Listing by the World Health Organization bring a much-needed supply to the global vaccine market. I also appreciate your continued efforts to support and strengthen the COVAX Facility to ensure more equitable access.”

COVAX is is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

On Wednesday, India, which has been hailed as the pharmacy of the world, announced the gift of 200,000 COVID-19 doses for UN peacekeepers.

“Keeping in mind the UN Peacekeepers who operate in such difficult circumstances, we would like to announce today a gift of 200,000 doses for them,” Jaishankar said, addressing the UN Security Council open debate on the implementation of resolution 2532 (2020) on the cessation of hostilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quoting the Bhagavad Gita, Jaishankar had said “Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.”

He told the meeting that it is this spirit in which India approaches the COVID challenge and urged the Council to work collectively to address its different dimensions.

The 200,000 doses essentially mean that it will be possible to administer the required double doses of COVID vaccines to all UN peacekeepers across missions.

According to UN Peacekeeping, currently, a total of 94,484 personnel are serving in 12 peacekeeping operations across the world led by the Department of Peace Operations.

A total of 121 nations are contributing uniformed personnel to the UN peacekeeping missions.

India is traditionally among the largest troop-contributing countries to peacekeeping missions.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, had told PTI in response to a question on the Secretary General”s thoughts on the announcement by India, said that Guterres is “extremely grateful” for the gift of 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for UN peacekeepers and the distribution will be operationalised by the UN”s Department of Support.

“We are extremely grateful for this donation announced today by the Indian delegation. The distribution will be operationalised by the UN”s Department of Support,” Dujarric had said.

Earlier this week, two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine were given WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL). The versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, produced by AstraZeneca-SK Bioscience (AZ-SKBio) and the Serum Institute of India (AZ-SII), are now available for global rollout through the COVAX Facility.

The vaccine Covishield is the version of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. Covaxin is the indigenously developed vaccine by pharma company Bharat Biotech.

Jaishankar said these two vaccines have already been granted emergency authorisation and additionally, as many as 30 candidates are under various stages of development.

Under the initiative “Vaccine Maitri”, which translates into Vaccine Friendship, India is providing vaccines to the world.

Last month, Guterres had said that the vaccine production capacity of India is “one of the best assets the world has today”, and had applauded India for supplying COVID-19 vaccines to nations around the world.

I would like to say how much we count on India. I mean, India has one of the most advanced pharmaceutical industries. India played a very important role in the production of generics for use that was a very important element of democratisation of access to medicines all over the world,” Guterres had said.

PTI

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World’s Most Vaccinated Nation Activates Curbs as Cases Rise

(Asian News Hub) – Seychelles, which has fully vaccinated more of its population against Covid-19 than any other country, has closed schools and canceled sporting activities for two weeks as infections surge.

The measures, which include bans on the intermingling of households and the early closure of bars, come even as the country has fully vaccinated more than 60% of its adult population with two doses of coronavirus vaccines. The curbs are similar to those last imposed at the end of 2020.

“Despite of all the exceptional efforts we are making, the Covid-19 situation in our country is critical right now with many daily cases reported last week,” Peggy Vidot, the nation’s health minister, said at a press conference Tuesday.

The Indian Ocean archipelago, which has a population of about 98,000, is dependent on tourism for much of its foreign exchange and acted quickly to begin vaccinations in January using a donation of Chinese vaccines from the United Arab Emirates. It has procured other vaccines since.

By April 12, 59% of the doses administered were Sinopharm vaccines and the rest were Covishield, a version of AstraZeneca Plc’s shot made under license in India.

To date 62.2% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. That compares with 55.9% for Israel, the next most vaccinated nation.

Officials at the press conference gave little detail on what could be behind the infection surge other than to say people were taking fewer precautions against the virus than before and the surge may be due to celebrations after Easter.

The number of active cases in the nation rose to 1,068 on May 3 from 612 on April 28, according to health ministry announcements.

Bloomberg

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International

Devastating impact of the pandemic on media, deplorable situation in India: PEC

(Asian News Hub) – The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the media, the Switzerland based media rights and safety body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) lamented on Friday in preparation for World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.

Human cost of the pandemic is particularly high where over one thousand journalists have lost their lives due to novel corona virus aggravated ailments. India recently lost over 50 journalists in 2 weeks (3.5 per day).

Human cost of the pandemic is particularly high where over one thousand journalists have lost their lives due to novel corona virus aggravated ailments. Journalists are engaged in a profession which is particularly exposed to the virus, as many have been forced to continue working in contact with the population. Until 29 April 2021, since March 2020, within 14 months, the PEC (www.pressemblem.ch/) has counted more than 1,200 journalists who died from complications related to Covid-19 in 75 countries.

“This is an unprecedented slaughter and a great loss for the profession,” said PEC secretary-general Blaise Lempen adding, “On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we call for honoring eminent colleagues of all ages who have not survived the pandemic.” He appeals to all concerned governments to take action to help the media most affected and support the families of the victims on this auspicious occasion.

PEC also considers there is a need to distribute vaccines equally all over the world, to stop spread of the virus and its new strains in developing countries.

Vaccine production is limited and it is available for the wealthiest countries, preventing access to journalists in South America and South Asia. As long as this situation continues, deaths will keep on increasing, it added.

The rate of deceased journalists accelerated further in April with the deaths of 126 journalists in one month or four media-victims per day. Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, four countries have been particularly affected with more than one hundred journo-casualties each including Brazil (more than 183 media corona-casualties), Peru (140 dead), India (122) and Mexico (106).

There is nevertheless a positive note that the number of journalists’ deaths slowed sharply in Europe and North America, thanks to effective protection measures and the progress of vaccination. By region, Latin America tops the list with more than half of the victims, 673 in 20 countries. Asia follows with 256 in 18 countries, then Europe with 175 in 19 countries.

Africa comes next with 56 dead in 16 countries, ahead of North America with 47 in 2 countries.

India recently lost half a century journalists within a fortnight to corona-complications, said Nava Thakuria, PEC’s country representative adding that the populous country might have lost more journalists than documented, as many media outlets in India prefer to tone done the corona casualties among their journo-colleagues. India’s neighbour Bangladesh recorded 52 journo-victims to Covid-19 followed by Pakistan (26 dead), Afghanistan (9) and Nepal (7). Other tiny neighbours namely Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar etc have not reported a single corona media casualty.

The robust Indian media fraternity has lately lost Rohit Sardana, Nilakshi Bhattacharyya, Aiyushman Dutta, Bhanu Prakash Rath, Manas Ranjan Jaipuria, Amjad Badshah, Sridhar Dharmasanam, Raju Mishra, Sadanand Shinde, Kakoli Bhattacharya, Kondra Srinivas Goud, Sammi Reddy, Akash Saxena, Khwaja Mujahiduddin, Anil Basnoi, Venga Reddy, Madiraju Harikrishna Giri, Syed Shabaz, etc to the corona-pandemic. Good bye friends and rest in absolute peace around the unseen world.

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India rapidly losing scribes to Covid-19, global tally reaches 1175

(Asian News Hub) – India is fast losing working journalists to Covid-19 and crossed 100 mark, where as the global tally hit 1,175. The country lately starts losing three journalists every day.

Brazil continues to be the worst affected country with 181 media corona-casualties followed by Peru (140) and Mexico (106), stated the Switzerland based media rights & safety body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC).

India, which witnessed the death of nine journalists due to novel corona virus infection aggravated ailments in the last three days, is just behind of Mexico with 101 casualties since the pandemic broke out in March 2020. The nation with a billion plus populace comes far ahead of Italy (52 dead), Bangladesh (51), USA (47), Colombia (47), Ecuador (46), United Kingdom (28), Dominican Republic (27), Pakistan (25), Turkey (22), Iran (21), etc.

Expressing apprehensions that the situation may worsen for the safety of journalists on the ground due to the corona-pandemic, Blaise Lempen, general secretary of PRESS EMBLEM CAMPAIGN (PEC), advocates for adequate compensations to the victim families. He also emphasized on early vaccinations to media workers so that they can perform their duties as corona warriors after the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers, etc without endangering their lives.

Even after the launch of a massive corona-vaccination program covering around 13 million Indian citizens India till now in the backdrop of around three million reported infections every day mounting its cumulative Covid-19 cases to over 16 million (total casualty crosses 190,000).

Reported names of recent corona-victims include Shailesh Raval (Gujarat), Sopan Bongane, Ashok Tupe, Motichand Bedmutha (Maharashtra), P Tataiah, Chandrashekar Naidu, Srinivasa Rao (Andhra Pradesh), Ashish Yechury, Chanchal Pal Chauhan (New Delhi), Chinta Naga Raju, Ramachandra Rao (Telangana), Govind Behera, Manoj Kumar Sahu, Karunakar Sahu, Naresh Behera (Odisha), Jodu Chutia (Assam), etc.

“India has the probability to increase the number of media corona-victims as a number of States went on under-reporting about the actual figures because of various reasons,” commented PEC’s country representative Nava Thakuria adding, in many cases even the established media houses had not reported about their own corona-positive cases to avoid unwanted interferences from the authority under the health protocols.

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