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7th September 2022

India gets its first nasal (mucosal vaccines) COVID vaccine

Context

India's first nasal vaccine (Bharat Biotech’s iNCOVACC) for Covid-19 gets DCGI nod for emergency use.

Details:

  • The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the country’s first intra-nasal Covid-19 vaccine Bharat Biotech’s iNCOVACC for restricted emergency use in those aged above 18 years.
  • It’s only the second vaccine in the world, after CanSino Biologics’ vaccine in China, to get regulatory approval.
  • Around 100 mucosal (nose and mouth) Covid-19 vaccines are under development across the world.
About

What is a nasal vaccine?

  • A nasal vaccine is a vaccine administered to a person via the nose and does not require a needle. It induces immunity through the inner surface of the nose, a surface that naturally comes in contact with many airborne microbes.

Bharat Biotech’s iNCOVACC:

  • The vaccine has been developed by Bharat Biotech with technology in-licensed from Washington University-St Louis.
  • iNCOVACC is a chimpanzee adenovirus vectored recombinant nasal vaccine that has been specifically formulated to allow intra-nasal delivery through nasal drops.
  • The nasal delivery system has been designed and developed to be cost-effective in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The vaccine is stable at 2-8°C.


Mode of working of the nasal vaccine:

  • The vaccine is given nasally, it triggers an immune response in the mucosal membrane.
  • Intra-nasal Covid-19 vaccines may produce local antibodies in the upper respiratory tract which may provide the potential to reduce infection and transmission.
  • Therefore, it can stop the virus from replicating at its entry and spreading to the lungs and other parts of the body.
  • The intra-nasal vaccine stimulates a broad immune response – neutralizing IgG, mucosal IgA, and T Cell responses.
  • Immune responses at the site of infection (in the nasal mucosa) are essential for blocking both infection and transmission of Covid-19.

Significance of Mucosal Vaccines:

  • Spillover antibodies: It has the potential to induce local (mucosal) immunity at the point of entry of the virus. It could ensure the presence of spillover antibodies on the nasal mucosa. The nasal area is the spot through which the Sars-CoV-2 virus enters the body.
  • No need for Needles: With the vaccine being delivered through a nasal spray, it will do away with the need for needles and syringes currently required for all the Covid-19 vaccines available.
  • No need for trained staff: It will also reduce dependence on personnel trained to give shots.

Six States to get branches of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

Context

The Government recently set up NCDC branches in 6 states- Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

About

About National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC):

  • The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), formerly the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) had been established at Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh) in 1909 and following expansion was renamed in 1927 as the Malaria Survey of India.
  • In 2009, NICD transforms into National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) with a larger mandate of controlling emerging and re-emerging diseases.
  • The mandate of the Institute broadly covers three areas viz. services, trained health manpower development and research.
  • Presently, the Institute has 8 out-station branches located at Alwar (Rajasthan), Bengaluru (Karnataka), Kozhikode (Kerela), Coonoor (Tamil Nadu), Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh), Patna (Bihar), Rajahmundry (Andhra Pradesh) and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh).
  • Nodal Agency: It functions as the nodal agency in the country for disease surveillance facilitating prevention and control of communicable diseases.
  • Disease Surveillance: NCDC has the capacity and capability for disease surveillance, outbreak investigation, and rapid response to contain and combat outbreaks.
  • Referral Diagnostic Support: NCDC also provides referral diagnostic support, capacity building and technical support to States/UTs in the country.

Potential Role of NCDC:

  • NCDC will play a pivotal role in disease surveillance in disease prevention, control and management.
  • The NCDC branches in the states and UTs will support the State Govts in timely disease surveillance and monitoring and also add on to the PM-ABHIM (Prime Minister- Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission).
  • It will provide a boost to public health infrastructure with prompt surveillance, rapid detection and monitoring of diseases, thereby enabling early interventions.
  • The state branches will coordinate with NCDC, headquartered in New Delhi with real-time sharing of data and information aided by cutting-edge technology.
  • NCDC branches would also be crucial in ensuring the timely availability of updated guidelines so that accurate scientifically backed information can be disseminated easily.
  • It is a shift from a token to total approach where states are our partners in the spirit of collaborative and cooperative federalism to ensure quality, affordable and accessible healthcare to all.

PM-SHRI scheme

Context

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a new centrally sponsored scheme, aimed at upgrading 14,500 schools across India to showcase the components of the National Education Policy, 2020.

About

What is the PM-SHRI scheme?

  • The scheme will be called PM SHRI Schools (PM Schools for Rising India).
  • Under the said scheme, as many as 14,500 schools across states and Union Territories will be redeveloped to reflect the key features of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020.
  • We already have exemplary schools like Navodaya Vidyalayas and Kendriya Vidyalayas. The PM SHRI is envisaged to act as “NEP labs”.

Key Features of NEP in School Education:

  • The NEP envisages a curricular structure and teaching style divided into various stages:
  • Foundational: The foundational years (pre-school and grades I, and II) will involve play-based learning.
  • Preparatory: At the preparatory level (III-V), light textbooks are to be introduced along with some formal classroom teaching.
  • Middle: Subject teachers are to be introduced at the middle level (VI-VIII).
  • Secondary: Secondary stage (IX-XII) will be multidisciplinary with no hard separation between arts and sciences or other disciplines.

What is a centrally sponsored scheme?

  • A centrally sponsored scheme is one where the cost of implementation is likely to split in the 60:40 ratio among the Union government and the states/Union Territories.
  • Some of the important examples of centrally sponsored schemes are, the mid-day meal scheme (PM Poshan) and the PM Awas Yojana.
  • It is important to note that in the case of the Northeastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and UTs without legislatures, the Centre’s contribution can go up to 90 per cent.

How will PM SHRI schools be different from existing schools of excellence?

  • PM SHRI schools will be an upgrade of existing schools run by the Centre, states, UTs and local bodies like Kendriya Vidyalayas or Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
  • This essentially means that PM SHRI schools can either be KVs, JNVs, state government schools or even those run by municipal corporations.

Where will the PM SHRI schools come up?

  • The Centre has not yet released the list of schools that have been chosen for this purpose.
  • The PM SHRI schools will also “offer mentorship” to other schools in their vicinity.
  • These schools will be equipped with modern infrastructure including labs, smart classrooms, sports equipment, etc.
  • They shall also be developed as green schools with water conservation, waste recycling, energy-efficient infrastructure and integration of organic lifestyle in curriculum.

V.O. Chidambaram 151st Birth Anniversary

Context
  • Thousands of people gathered at the Coimbatore Central Prison to pay homage to freedom fighter V. O. Chidambaram on his 151st birth anniversary.
About

Who was V. O. Chidambaram?

  • Vallinayagam Olaganathan Chidambaram Pillai (VOC) was popularly known as Kappalottiya Tamilan (The Tamil Helmsman).
  • C Chidambaram Pillai was born on 5th September 1872 to an eminent lawyer Olaganathan Pillai and Paramyee Ammai in Ottapidaram, Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
  • He graduated from Caldwell College, Tuticorin. Before beginning his law studies, he worked for a brief period as the taluk office clerk.
  • He died on 18th November 1936 in the Indian National Congress Office at Tuticorin as was his last wish.


Why V. O. Chidambaram is called as Kappalottiya?

  • Inspired by the Swadeshi movement, he mobilized the support of local merchants, and launched the first indigenous Indian shipping enterprise, the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company, thus earning for himself the name Kappalottiya.

Entry in Politics:

  • He entered politics in 1905 following the partition of Bengal.
  • By the end of 1905, he visited Madras and was drawn closer to the Swadeshi Movement initiated by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai.
  • He was drawn towards Ramakrishna Mission and came into contact with Subramania Bharati and the Mandayam family.
  • It was not until the arrival of VOC at Tuticorin (Present day Thoothukudi) that the Swadeshi movement in Tirunelveli district began to gather force and momentum.

Role Played in Freedom Movement:

  • By 1906, he won the support of merchants and industrialists in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli for the idea of establishing a Swadeshi merchant shipping outfit by the name of the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company.
  • He established many institutions like Swadeshi Prachar Sabha, Dharmasanga Nesavu Salai, National Godown, Madras Agro-Industrial Society Ltd, and Desabimana Sangam.
  • Even before Gandhiji’s Champaran Satyagraha (1917), he took up the cause of the working class in Tamil Nadu, and thus he is a forerunner to Gandhiji in this respect.
  • He along with other leaders resolved to take out a mammoth procession on the morning of 9th March 1908 to celebrate the release of Bipin Chandra Pal from jail and to hoist the flag of Swaraj.

Some of his important Literary work can be summarized as follows:

  • Meyyaram (1914), Meyyarivu (1915), Anthology (1915), Thirukural with literary notes of Manakudavar (1917), Tholkappiam with literary notes of Ilampooranar (1928), Autobiography (1946).

More than half the funds for POSHAN Abhiyaan unutilized: NITI Aayog report

Context

It has been highlighted in the fourth progress report released by the NITI Aayog that, less than half the funds set aside for the POSHAN Abhiyaan have been utilized by India’s states.

About

About POSHAN Abhiyaan:

  • The Government of India launched its flagship programme in 2018, the POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyaan, to draw national attention to and take action against malnutrition, in a mission-mode.
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan is the Government of India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers, and adolescents.


Objectives of Poshan Abhiyaan Fourth Progress Report:

  1. Examine the progress to date on rolling out all POSHAN Abhiyaan interventions using relevant data.
  2. Discuss the importance of preserving progress on the nutrition agenda in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  3. Recommend key actions to accelerate progress toward India’s nutrition goals.

The report listed five key elements of the POSHAN Abhiyaan scheme:

  1. Deliver a high-impact package of interventions in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life
  2. Strengthen the delivery of these interventions through technology and management
  3. Improve the capacity of frontline workers
  4. Facilitate cross-sectoral convergence to address the multi-dimensional nature of malnutrition
  5. Enhance behaviour change and community mobilisation

Key Findings of the report:

  • States and Union territories (UTs) with poor distribution of mobile phones and growth monitoring devices emerged as those with low fund utilization.
  • The scheme has an earmarked three-year budget of Rs 9,046.17 crore from 2017-18. More than half the funds (60 per cent) remained unutilized until March 31, 2020.
  • Only three states had used more than 50 per cent of their POSHAN Abhiyaan funds between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. This improved marginally to 12 between 2017-2019 and FY 2019-2020.
  • Nagaland (87 per cent), Meghalaya (78 per cent), Sikkim (71 per cent), Mizoram (67 per cent) and Lakshadweep (65 per cent) had utilised the maximum proportion of funds by the end of 2019-2020.


State-wise comparison of the percentage funds utilised up to FY 2018-19 and FY 2017-18 and upto FY 2019-20

  • Punjab (22 per cent), Puducherry (22 per cent), Tripura (16 per cent), Arunachal Pradesh (9 per cent) and Odisha (8 per cent) were the poorest performers.
  • The number of funds being utilised improved across most states and UTs 30 of 35. It decreased in Telangana, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Puducherry.
  • The readiness and capabilities to deliver POSHAN Abhiyaan interventions have improved compared to previous progress reports. This has been highlighted by assessing other indicators like human resources, infrastructure, supplies, training, and capacity building.

Editorial

The next Economic Reforms

Context:

  • For a stronger economy, India needs economic reforms beyond liberalisation.

Robust Economic Recovery:

  • Indian economy recovery has been better than that of most countries. The credit in this case goes to the appropriate counter-cyclical policy but it wouldn’t have worked if the reforms might not reach a threshold of adequacy. But we need to have a balance while focussing on the structural reforms and smoothing the economic shocks.

India’s interest and concerns of citizens:

  • International institutions such as the IMF-WB are inclined to ensure advantages of India’s growth, to other countries, which includes their main financiers who are the large capital-exporting countries. IMF-WB mandate requires freer markets and fewer restrictions on all types of capital flows, which also favours India’s interests. But a democracy cannot ignore the concerns of its own citizens as in the past market-opening reforms have harmed many domestic citizens.

Liberalisation has reached a point of diminishing returns:

  • Economic success from the era of liberalisation is past now. The need of the hour is organic reform happens, that when states have healthy competition among themselves. Presently the centre policies must be guided by feasibility and pragmatism and ensure that benefits accrue to a majority.
  • A special focus on the digital aspect is a must because India has a definite comparative advantage over the others. Attention should be given to developing skills and capabilities, improving employability, augmenting infrastructure, and reducing logistics and other business costs through better Centre-state coordination. Instead of wasting political capital on reforms that encounter large resistance and shock the system, reforms should enhance favourable trends.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 7th September 2022

Mains Question:

Question.  “The quality of nutrition service delivery remains a key challenge in India”. In the light of this statement, discuss the need to enhance the quality of nutrition services and strengthening of the community’s role in delivering such services. (150 words)

Approach

  • Introduction- brief about nutrition service delivery in India & impact
    • adversely affecting nutrition outcomes for women and children
  • List down persistent challenges 
    • Undernutrition, poverty
    • quality of nutrition service delivery 
    • Lack of awareness
  • Government’s policy and programmatic efforts
    • Poshan Abhiyaan
    • National Health Mission
    • Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)
    • labour room quality improvement initiative (LaQshya)
    • MusQan (for quality assurance)
    • mothers' absolute affection (MAA) 
  • Required measures 
    • focusing on capacity building
    • improvement of service delivery
    • community mobilisation and participation
    • use of technology and inter-ministerial, interdepartmental convergent planning
    • effective review of progress
  • Conclude accordingly 
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