CMYK TUESDAY www.thestatesman.com 05 JANUARY 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 |` 5.00|LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR JACK MA MISSING AFTER CRITICISING CHINA’S ECONOMY PELOSI RE-ELECTED SPEAKER OF HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES P10 Mainly clear sky with mist/fog in the morning. Temperature likely to be in the range of 28-15 degree Celsius. RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY TEMPERATURE P9 P4 P12 Political slugfest over vaccine roll-out WEATHER Max.99% THE HABITUAL SCORER OF CENTURIES STALIN WILL NEVER BECOME CM: ALAGIRI Min. 42% Max: 28.2°C (3) Min: 14.1°C (1) SUN RISES SUN SETS 06:17 hrs 17:05 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 22:06 hrs 10:12 hrs Next moon quarter on 06 January THUMBNAILS West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar visits the Sarbamangala temple in East Burdwan on (P3) Monday. SANJOY KARMAKAR Three held over Ghaziabad crematorium mishap: Three civic officials were arrested on Monday over the collapse of a crematorium roof that claimed 24 lives in Ghaziabad as tension spiralled in the area with the families of the victims blocking the Delhi-Meerut highway by placing two bodies on the road to press for their demand for higher compensation. They lifted the blockade and agreed to cremate the bodies after officials agreed `10 lakh compensation and a government job for each victim's family, Superintendent of Police (Rural) Iraj Raja said. Sensex above 48,000: Rising for the ninth straight session, the BSE Sensex closed above the 48,000-mark for the first time on Monday as investor sentiment got a boost after India approved two coronavirus vaccines over the weekend. A strengthening rupee, positive global cues and encouraging macroeconomic data gave further impetus to risk appetite, traders said. The 30-share BSE Sensex ended 307.82 points or 0.64 per cent higher at 48,176.80 P8 points. World’s biggest Covid vaccination drive to begin in India soon, says Modi; Opposition demands PM should take first shot SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY rime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that the world’s biggest inoculation drive against coronavirus is set to begin in the country, a day after the drugs regulator approved two vaccines for restricted emergency use. Lauding the scientists and technicians for the ‘Made in India’ vaccines, he said the country is proud of them. “World’s biggest Covid19 vaccination programme set to begin in India. For this, the country is proud of the contributions of its scientists and technicians,” Modi said. India’s drugs regulator on Sunday approved Oxford Covid-19 vaccine Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute, and indigenously developed Covaxin of Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive. Addressing scientists at the National Metrology Conclave, Modi said it must be ensured that ‘Made in India’ products not only have global demand but also global acceptance. “Quality is as much important as quantity, our standards should rise with our scale in our quest for Aatmanirbhar Bharat,” he said. The Prime Minister said in any progressive society, research is key and effective and its effects are commercial and social. They also help widen approach and thinking. “Past teaches us that more a country concentrates on science, the more its technology gets P Quality is as much important as quantity, our standards should rise with our scale in our quest for Aatmanirbhar Bharat 38 samples found to be Covid-UK strain positive NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MohFW) on Monday said that a total of 38 samples have been found to be positive with the new Covid-19 UK variant genome across India. According to MoHFW, there are 10 cases in Bengaluru’s NIMHANS, 3 in CCMB (Hyderabad), 5 in NIV (Pune), 11 in IGIB (Delhi), 8 in NCDC (New Delhi) and 1 in NCBG (Kolkata). The MoHFW said that the NCBS, InSTEM, Bengaluru, CDFD Hyderabad, ILS Bhubaneswar, and NCCS Pune have so far found no UK mutant virus. 597 fresh Covid cases in Bengal: Bengal today registered 597 fresh Covid cases and 25 deaths due to infection. The total Covid case count is 5,55,572 and toll is 9,817 in the state strengthened. This technology in turn helps new industries and promotes research. This cycle takes the country ahead,” he 1,03,40,469 2,43,953 16,504 19,557 1,49,649 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. MONDAY 04 JANUARY 2021 till now while there are 9,671 active cases. Kolkata recorded 152 cases and 1,347 patients were discharged in last 24 hours. SNS said. “We do not want to fill the world with Indian products, but we must win the hearts of every customer of Indian prod- ucts in every corner of the world,” he said. Quality of services in our country and products, both public or private sector, will determine India’s strength in the world, he stressed. Later a political slugfest over Covid-19 vaccination drive began on Monday as BJP maintained a stoic silence over Opposition demand that Prime Minister Modi should take the first injection of Covid 19 vaccine to reassure masses over its safety. The controversy started after Bihar Congress leader Ajit Kumar pitched for Prime Minister Modi to take the first shot of Covid 19 vaccine. “This will help win the trust of the people in the backdrop of prevailing doubts in people’s mind about the vaccine.” “We are happy to have two vaccines in the New Year. But there is also doubt among people about them. In order to remove this doubt, head of state in Russia and America have taken the first shot of the vaccine. I believe PM Modi and senior BJP leaders should win the trust of the people by taking the first vaccine shot,” he said. Congress senior leader Sashi Tharoor had on Sunday termed the emergency approval of Covid 19 vaccine~ Covaxin as “premature”. He had also said that the vaccine could be dangerous as it was still under phase 3 trial, urging Union Health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to wait till the completion of full trials. The BJP however did not react to the Congress leaders’ remarks regarding the vaccination. There was also no official statement on the issue. No breakthrough in farmers-govt talks SNS & PTI NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY The seventh round of talks between protesting unions and three Central ministers got underway here on Monday afternoon to resolve an overa-month-long impasse over farmers’ agitation against the three farm laws, but representatives of farmer groups stuck to their demand for the repeal of the Acts. As the two sides took a lunch break after about one hour of talks, sources said the government also remained firm on not repealing the laws and is believed to have suggested a panel to take the matter forward. In the first hour of talks, the two sides were yet to discuss another key demand of farmers for a legal guarantee to the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement system. The representatives of protesting farmers had their own food, arranged from langar (community kitchen), as they have been doing for the last few times. However, unlike the last round of talks on 30 December, the ministers did not join the union leaders for the langar food and were seen hav- ing their own discussion separately during the break, which lasted for more than one and half hours. The two sides got back together to resume their discussions at around 5.15 p.m. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait, who is participating in the meeting, told PTI over the phone during the break that the first hour of discussion remained focussed on the three laws. “Our demand is the repeal of the laws. We will not agree to any alternatives such as the setting of the committee,” he said. Asked if there could be a concrete outcome from the meeting, Tikait said, “I don’t think so. They have to take back the laws for us to end the protest and go back to our homes.” Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various Delhi borders for over a month against the three laws. They have stayed put despite heavy rains and waterlogging at protest sites over the last couple of days, besides severe cold weather conditions prevailing in and around the national capital. The talks are still on and there has not yet been any discussion on the second agen- Bharat Biotech head stoutly defends Covaxin efficacy ANINDITA CHOWDHURY HYDERABAD, 4 JANUARY Bharat Biotech today stoutly defended the indigenously developed Covaxin saying it was “no backup but another vaccine in the market,” following criticism over the emergency authorisation it was granted despite the lack of phase three trial data. Bharat Biotech chairman cum managing director Dr Krishna Ella openly hit out at detractors and said his company was a globally reputed one with adequate vaccine experience boasting of the only BSL-3 production facility in the world. Dedicating their success to the volunteers, he claimed the phase III trial would be over in the next two-three days and the data will be available by February and March. Phase III trials will also involve children over the age of 12. Dr Ella cited the case of Ebola vaccine which was granted authorisation for emergency use by WHO in countries like Liberia without any clinical trials. He argued that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation guidelines issued in 2019 state “If your platform is proven, safe and phase I and phase II clinical data is available then you can license the product,” and Bharat Biotech had applied under this guideline. He also lambasted AIIMS director Dr Ranadeep Guleria for stating that Covaxin will be the back-up. He retorted: “I don’t know what CLEARING THE AIR Bharat Biotech chairman cum managing director Dr Krishna Ella openly hit out at detractors and said his company was a globally reputed one with adequate vaccine experience boasting of the only BSL-3 production facility in the world Dedicating their success to the volunteers, he claimed phase 3 trial will be over in the next twothree days and the data will be available by February and March. Phase III trials will also involve children over the age of 12 Dr Ella cited the case of Ebola vaccine which was granted authorisation for emergency use by WHO in countries like Liberia without any clinical trials is backup? There is no back up for humans, no back up for virus. It will be another vaccine in the market.” He said that Bharat Biotech did not get any funds from Gates Foundation or Government of India but took the risk alone to manufacture 20 million doses. “Covaxin has shown less than 10 per cent adverse reactions while others like AstraZeneca were giving 4 gram paracetamol to suppress such reactions,” claimed Dr Ella. He further stated that in hamsters and monkeys Covaxin has shown remarkable result providing 100 per cent protection to upper lung and lower lung. When it came to publication, the Indian vaccine was no way inferior to Pfizer. The company aims to roll out 700 million doses capacity in its four facilities including three in Hyderabad and one in Bengaluru despite encountering problems of logistics and so on. Denouncing the poli- tics over the vaccine he claimed he was a scientist and not a businessman nor a politician. “India can innovate. We are not a copycat country. We don’t deserve a backlash because we are an Indian company, we do everything systematically yet we get bashed by the media.” He said: “A company has branded our vaccine as water. It hurts as a scientist and we don’t deserve that.” As he wondered about Serum Institute’s vaccine which was given license based on UK data, “Where is their Indian data?” he asked. While adding that he admires the Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, Dr Ella wondered why didn’t he talk about the “lousy clinical trial of the vaccine from UK”. According to him, Covaxin was not being tested only in India but 12 countries including the UK. Their partner in the US was also talking about vaccinating children as it is the most effective technology for vaccination. NO BACKING OFF da pertaining to giving legal backing to MSP, Tikait said during the break. Another union representative, Kavitha Kurungati of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch, said, “The standoff continues as the government is talking about benefits of the laws and we are asking for the repeal of those laws.” No discussion has yet happened on the MSP she said , about the first hour of the meeting. During the meeting, the government listed various benefits from the three laws, enacted a few months ago, but farmers kept insisting that the legislation must be withdrawn to address their apprehensions that the new Acts would weaken the MSP and mandi systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporates. Farmers during their protest against the new farm laws on a cold and rainy day, at the Singhu Border, in the Capital on Monday. SNS Ganguly to be discharged tomorrow Assange can’t be extradited to US: UK judge SNS & PTI KOLKATA, 4 JANUARY Cricket Board president and former India captain Sourav Ganguly will have to undergo another angioplasty in a “few days or weeks” but for now be discharged from hospital as his condition is “stable”, the CEO of the medical facility said on Monday. A nine-member board of senior doctors discussed Ganguly’s condition and reached a consensus that though necessary, angioplasty can be deferred to a later date as he is stable, Woodlands Hospital MD and CEO Dr Rupali Basu said. Renowned cardiologists Dr Devi Shetty and Dr R K Panda participated in the discussion through a virtual platform while another expert from the US was part of the discussion over the phone. “The angioplasty will take place for sure in a few days or weeks. He will be discharged most probably the day after tomorrow,” she said. Treating doctors will keep a constant watch on his condition and take appropriate measures at his home after he is discharged, said Dr Basu said, a member of the medical board. Dr Devi Shetty is likely to visit Ganguly on Tuesday and have another meeting with doctors about the next course of treatment. The stylish left-handed former India batsman had suffered a “mild” heart attack on Saturday. He was diagnosed with three blocked coronary arteries, following which a stent was inserted in one to remove the blockage. Meanwhile, Union minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur, also a former president of the BCCI, visited the hospital to see Ganguly and expressed hope he will soon return to his normal life. BCCI secretary Jay Shah also met Ganguly. “Dada is a hero of the country. He has seen a lot of ups and downs in cricket and defeated his opponents numerous times. He will do the same this time. PRESS TRUST OF INDIA LONDON, 4 JANUARY A British judge on Monday rejected the United States’ request to extradite WikiLeaksfounder Julian Assange to face espionage charges on mental health grounds, saying his extradition would be oppressive. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, presiding over the case at the Old Bailey court in London, ruled that Assange was likely to commit suicide if extradited to the US, where he is wanted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents a decade ago. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison. “The overall District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, presiding over the case at the Old Bailey court ruled that Julian Assange was likely to commit suicide if extradited to the US, where he is wanted on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks publication of leaked US military and diplomatic documents a decade ago impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man fearful for his future,” the judge said. The US government said it would appeal the decision and have 14 days to lodge the paperwork. This means Assange is not likely to be freed from London’s Belmarsh Prison, where he is being CMYK held, right away. Lawyers for the 49-yearold Australian activist, who was re-arrested in September last year over the espionage charges, argued that he was acting as a journalist and is entitled to First Amendment protections of freedom of speech for publishing leaked documents that exposed US military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the US indictment claims Assange conspired with army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a scrambled password, known as “hash”, to a classified US defence department computer. Assange denies plotting with Manning.He appeared at the Old Bailey as Judge Baraitser delivered her judgment. The judge rejected defence claims on the charges, saying Assange’s conduct would amount to offences in this jurisdiction that would not be protected by his right to freedom of speech”. However, she noted that he suffered from clinical depression that would be exacerbated by the isolation he would likely face in US prison. I-T dept visits Vadra’s premises NEW DELHI, 4 JANUARY The Income Tax department on Monday visited the premises of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to record his statement in connection with its probe against him under the benami assets law, official sources said. They said Vadra was asked to join the investigation at the tax authority’s office but as he cited Covid-19 restrictions, a team of officials visited his premises in Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar area. The department has been probing Vadra on charges of alleged possession of some undisclosed assets in the UK. The ED too is investigating these charges, against the businessman. Vadra had denied any wrongdoing in the past even as the Congress party had called the action PTI political vendetta.
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