India Coronavirus Dispatch: Lockdowns ravage Goa tourism economy

Goa's tourism industry may have experienced losses between $273 million and $985 million due to the outbreak and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.
Goa's tourism economy bears the brunt of India's Covid-induced lockdown

The lockdown imposed in March took the general public by surprise and upended the Indian economy, sending it into a technical recession. Among the worst-hit was Goa's tourism economy, a report in Deutsche Welle said.

Goa's tourism industry may have experienced losses between $273 million and $985 million due to the outbreak and the subsequent nationwide lockdown. Job losses in the state have been estimated to be in the range of 35%-58%, according to a report published by the state's Tourism Ministry in December. The state attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors during the winter months of the year. Footfalls peak during the holiday season. International visitors come for the holidays and often decide to stay on for months at a stretch boosting the tourism economy, the report said. Read more here

Experts assure safety of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines after examining reports of allergic reactions

A review published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice has examined reports of allergic reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines being administered in the US and offered reassurance about their safety, according to a report in The Indian Express. These vaccines may enter India, but likely in the private market given their high prices and challenging storage requirements.

The authors emphasise that patients with severe allergies to foods, oral drugs, latex, or venom can safely receive the Covid-19 vaccines. The authors summarise existing knowledge and awareness about the possible allergic reactions and provide detailed advice for different types of allergies. They also provide advice on safely taking the second dose in case there was an allergic reaction to the first. The review says that allergic reactions to vaccines in general are rare, with a rate of about 1.3 per 1 million people. Read more here

The Neanderthal gene can provide some protection against the UK mutant strain: Study

The Neanderthal gene can contribute to providing some protection against the new UK strain of the novel coronavirus, according to research published in medRxiv pending peer review, a report in Wion said.

A particular protein, called OAS1, which was passed on by Neanderthals plays a role in the way the human body responds to Covid-19. People with the Neanderthal gene are less prone to hospitalisation, intubation, and death, the researchers found, according to the report.

The gene was present in sub-Saharan Africans but was momentarily lost when people migrated out of Africa into Europe. It was recovered when the population mated with Neanderthals, the report said citing the author. A study carried out by the British government said the new UK variant of the novel coronavirus does not cause a more severe illness and is not deadlier. It is however 70% more infectious, according to media reports. Read more here

Co-Win app: Documents needed to sign up

India's national drug regulator announced on Sunday that the Covid-19 vaccines of both Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have been approved for emergency use in the country. India has also launched a digital platform called Co-Win to track the unprecedented roll-out. This report in the Indian Express lists the documents needed to register oneself on the platform once it becomes publicly available. 

People will need to upload a photo identity in order to register. It can be any of the following documents—Aadhaar card, driving license, MNREGA job card, PAN card, passport, pension document, voter ID, health insurance smart card, and passbook. The government has announced that the vaccination will be free for frontline workers. The cost to the general public has not been announced yet, the report said. Read more here

OPINION: Covid-19 has made India stronger and more united

The Covid-19 pandemic has likely upended millions of lives in India and ravaged the economy but 2020 will be remembered as the year government and citizenry in the country came together to tackle an outsized challenge, writes Vikram Misri, India's ambassador to China, in a column for the South China Morning Post.

For instance, India went from an economy that previously did not make ventilators, testing kits, personal protective equipment, and N95 masks to becoming self-sufficient and also manufacturing for export. To contain the virus, more than 15,000 dedicated Covid-19 treatment facilities were set up. As the spotlight turns to vaccines, India is part of many international collaborations that give the world hope for normalcy, the opinion piece said. Read more here

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