India Coronavirus dispatch: Science, health likely to be key focus in 2021

Topics Coronavirus | healthcare | Lockdown

The pandemic has been a reality check for the government in terms of being self-reliant since India was not even producing simple items like ventilators at the start of the outbreak.
What we can expect in 2021 from health and science

No doubt the Covid-19 pandemic was a disruptive event of mammoth proportions. However, it does also provide an opportunity to make structural changes that were necessary. This report in The Indian Express talks about the factors that will likely impact the fields of science and technology, and health.

The pandemic has been a reality check for the government in terms of being self-reliant since India was not even producing simple items like ventilators at the start of the outbreak. There is likely to be a push towards supporting domestic manufacturing of components and instruments. Collaboration between government, academia and industry is likely to gain further momentum. Strengthening of the public health infrastructure and empowerment of primary healthcare staff is also expected, the report said.

A new Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy is also expected to be unveiled in the next few months. It is expected to do to science what the National Education Policy seeks to do for the education sector, the report said. Read more here

SpiceJet health firm draws up Covid vaccine delivery plan

SpiceHealth plans to use a combination of drones, ultra-cold containers and a group of aeroplanes to deliver Covid-19 vaccines across India, its CEO Avani Singh told ThePrint. 

SpiceHealth is a company that was started by Avani and her father Ajay Singh, who owns India’s second-largest airline SpiceJet, to make Covid-19 testing more accessible and affordable. The company has been in talks with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other government agencies which are testing the company's drones service technology for the delivery of vaccines, the report said.

The firm is also developing temperature-controlled containers for storing and delivering vaccines. The temperature range achievable currently is minus 40 degree Celsius to 25 degree Celsius. SpiceHealth is working to get it down to minus 70 to minus 80 degrees to be able to accommodate Pfizer’s vaccine. The company also plans to work closely with SpiceJet’s cargo division, SpiceXpress. The cargo arm has a dedicated fleet of 17 aircraft, including Airbus A340, Boeing 737 and Bombardier Q400, the report said. Read more here

Lockdowns, the migrant crisis, social isolation & death — the year in photographs

The Covid-19 pandemic has likely upended millions of lives in India. As an unprecedented year comes to a close, this report in ThePrint gives you a broad overview of how the pandemic unfolded in the country, but through a series of captivating pictures. From the nationwide lockdown imposed in March that took the country by surprise, the following migrant crisis, the lives lost, the transition to working from home, online schooling and an economic crisis of mammoth proportions, 2020 saw it all, the report said. See here

No more ‘Covid leave’ without proof in Delhi police: Report

“Coming in contact with a Covid-positive patient” is no longer a valid excuse to take time off from work for persons employed in the Delhi police force, according to a report in The Hindu.

Home quarantine was allowed earlier as a precaution. But, that provision was being misused and other police personnel who were regularly exposed during deployment could not take time off, a senior police officer told The Hindu. There will be stricter scrutiny over the processing of leave applications and only those that can provide paperwork for being Covid-19 positive can take time off, the report said.

A total of 7,393 Delhi police personnel have tested positive so far. 6,806 of those have recovered and resumed duty. The rest are undergoing treatment at hospitals or are under home quarantine. A compensation package of Rs. 1 lakh that was given to policemen who get infected with Covid-19 while on duty has also been rolled back, the report said. Read more here

UK variant is not deadlier, does not cause more severe Covid: British govt study

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, according to a report in ThePrint. The variant is also less likely to cause more reinfections. Read more here

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