Daily Briefing: Variant in India needs 2 vaccine doses for more safety, says UK govt; First signs of O2 crisis waning

Early signs of the waning of the oxygen crisis are visible in the country with liquid medical oxygen supplied to hospitals over the last 72 hours showing a decline for the first time in almost a month.

Good morning,

The Second Wave 

As the country continues to grapple with a severe shortage of vaccines, a study carried out by the UK health department on the efficacy of Covishield on the predominant Covid strain found in India has revealed that two vaccine doses are needed to provide “strong protection”. A single dose offered only 33 per cent protection. 

Meanwhile, early signs indicate that medical oxygen being supplied to hospitals has dropped to “8,000 MT a day from around 8,900 MT”. However, it is still more than double the demand recorded during the first wave.

Facing criticism for its government’s handling of the second wave, the BJP has asked its leaders to step up their “social activities”. BJP leaders, including MPs and MLAs, have been asked to visit hospitals and families in their constituencies who have lost any members during the pandemic.

Only in the Express

A key meeting that will be chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today will discuss the CBSE proposal to conduct the Class 12 Board examination only for “major subjects”. The Board has forwarded two proposals: exams will be held in the “existing format” or students will sit for exams in their own schools and each examination will be of one-and-a-half hours instead of three hours.

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal talks to The Indian Express on the government’s handling of the pandemic, the role of the Opposition and the judiciary’s response to Covid-related issues.

As the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the country, P Chidambaram writes on what went wrong: “It has overwhelmed many governments. Some have responded with courage and efficiency, while others, like the Indian government, have collapsed.”

Must Read 

In Delhi’s urban village of Ghitorni, a team of over 13 volunteer doctors are running what they call a ‘chaupal OPD’ out of a nearby ‘baraat ghar’. Over the last 10 days, residents of the village who have either tested positive for Covid or are showing symptoms  line up through the day for consultations with the doctors. The idea is the brainchild of retired Navy officer Narender Kumar. 

In villages across Jharkhand’s East Singhbum district, a crisis is unfolding as  Covid patients and their relatives grapple with a broken system and inadequate medical infrastructure amidst the debilitating second wave. The Sunday Express visited six of East Singhbhum’s 11 blocks and found multiple issues affecting infrastructure, as well as an outright lack of empathy.

By May 16, a day before Cyclone Tauktae, 94 of 99 vessels in the Mumbai High area had returned to the shore. Among the vessels  that did not was barge P305. From the SOSs that went out, to the hopelessness and fear that gripped many of the barge’s over 700-strong crew, we delve into what happened that fateful night. 

And Finally 

When the coronavirus-induced lockdown was announced in March 2020, Mumbai’s entertainment industry came to a standstill. Over a year later, the aftershocks are still being felt by some of the industry’s lower-rung artistes, technicians and crew. While some are still out of work, many have had little choice but to return to their hometowns, unable to keep pace with the expenses of living in Mumbai.

Inside Track: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s recent call for collective action over individual leadership was read as criticism of PM Modi by some. But seasoned observers see it as an appeal to BJP leaders to take decisions through consensus. 

Until tomorrow,
Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

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