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2.4 lakh doses of Covaxin found abandoned in truck with running fridge

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A truck containing 2.40 lakh doses of Bharat Biotech-made Covaxin was found abandoned for nearly 12 hours after its driver went missing under mysterious circumstances in Madhya Pradesh’s Narsinghapur district on Saturday. It is estimated that the truck carried vaccines worth Rs 8 crores.

The matter came to light when the police were informed about a truck with the name Bharat Biotech written on it parked for over 12 hours near the Kareli bus stand, about 16 km from the district headquarters. According to Narsinghpur superintendent of police Vipul Shrivastava, the police found that the Tamil-Nadu registered truck was lying abandoned in the parking and the driver was missing.

On inspection, the police officials found that the truck was carrying the much sought-after COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, which is manufactured by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech. Police found that the engine of the vehicle was running, and as a result the refrigerator on the truck was also running, therefore it was assumed that the vaccine doses were safe.

“As the engine of the vehicle was on, its refrigerator with vaccine doses was functioning. So, I feel that vaccines were safe,” Shrivastava said.

The police contacted the transport company TCI of Gurgaon and informed them about the driverless truck. The company said that they were also worried that they couldn’t contact the driver after finding out that the GPS system showed that the vehicle remained stationary at Kareli for a long time.

The company then arranged a new driver to fulfil the delivery order. The truck left for Karnal on Friday evening at around 8 pm.

Meanwhile, the police are yet to ascertain the whereabouts of the driver Vikas Mishra, who had gone missing after parking the truck at the roadside. The phone of the driver was found at a place 16 km from the spot.

When Shrivastava was asked if the area was prone to truck robberies, he denied saying road robberies are almost negligible in the region.

The police official further said the circumstantial evidence hint that the truck was not robbed. He also added that efforts are underway to track down the driver, who is in his early 20s and is from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh.

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Madhya Pradesh Woman Killed for Giving Birth to 4 Girls, Over Dowry

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A 28-year-old woman was killed allegedly by her husband and in-laws for giving birth to four girls, last of which was born just three months ago, and also over dowry in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district, police said on Friday. Savitri Baghel was strangled to death allegedly by her husband Ratan Singh, his father Kilold Singh and mother Benoo Bai at their home in village Dindoli, some 80km from the district headquarters, on Thursday, Police Inspector Ramraja Tiwari said.

He said according to the deceased’s brother Krishna Baghel, Ratan Singh and his parents used to harass his sister for giving birth to four daughters and not bearing a male child. Krishna Baghel told the police his sister had given birth to the fourth daughter just three months ago, he added.

The family would also harass the woman for dowry, Tiwari said. The accused have been booked under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 304B (dowry death), but no arrest has been made so far, the police officer said.

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Pune Municipal Corporation receives consent to float global vaccine tender

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The Pune Municipal Corporation has finally received the consent of the state government to float global tenders to vaccinate its citizens. The approval from the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government came after the PMC threatened to move ahead with the process without their consent.

The consent by the Maharashtra Government comes more than three weeks after it was initially sought. The Pune Municipal Corporation had earlier decided to move ahead with the process saying that lives were more important.

Siddharth Shirole, BJP MLA from Shivajinagar constituency in Pune, on Thursday had slammed the state government for granting permission to the BMCV to float global tenders within 24 hours but not awarding the same to Pune despite 23 days having passed.

The Leader of the House in Pune Municipal Corporation is Ganesh Bidkar from the BJP. The BJP had accused the state government of discriminating against Pune. Pune wants 25 lakh vaccines to inoculate its citizens against Covid-19.

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Took Your Covishield Jab Before Govt Extended Gap Between Doses? No Need to Fret: Panel Member

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Amid criticism on increasing the duration of the second dose of Covishield, a member of the group that recommended the huge change said that the decision was based on science and not vaccine shortage. Comparing the benefits of increasing the duration, the government has launched a detailed study to compare the benefits, said NK Arora, chairman of the Covid working group.

On Thursday, the government announced that the gap between two shots of Covishield should be 12 to 16 weeks- earlier, which was six to eight weeks.

A member of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, Dr Arora, rejected speculation that the decision was spurred by vaccine shortage that has halted inoculations of those between 18 and 44 in parts of the country, NDTV reported.

“If I increase the gap by one month, then what difference will it make? It will make a difference of about four to six crore doses. So giving the second dose after a month is hardly going to address vaccine shortage. Increasing the gap is beneficial,” he added.

He further emphasised that scientific data states that if the second dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine- officially known as Covishield in India was given after three months of the first dosage then the chances of protection from infection is 65 to 88 per cent.

“Initial studies on the vaccine had even talked about a 44-week gap. Canada has made it four months,” he added.

He also stated that the antibodies to fight the virus increased substantially after the second dose, but the degree of their impact was not yet known. “But data shows if the gap is increased, the antibodies increase by 40 to 50 per cent,” he added.

Addressing concerns of people who stated that they have taken shots within a one-two month gap, he said that “those who have taken the shots within a one or two month gap do not need to worry and the production of antibodies will be good.”

On comparing the effectiveness of the vaccine for a 28-day gap, a four-six week gap or 12-16 week gap, Dr Arora said there was no data so far but the government had planned a study.

“How much protection will increasing the gap give? How much will it protect from the severity of infection or death? In the next four weeks, data of this study will start coming and will be released in regular bulletins,” he disclosed.

So far, the data has revealed a 0.02 to 0.04 per cent chance of reinfection after both doses, and the chances of a severe infection or death were “very rare”, he said.

According to him, around 95 per cent of adverse effects after full vaccination were mild and only a fraction was severe. “But our data has shortcomings. Most adverse impact cases are reported only in the first three-four days. We have asked for data on problems experienced even after 28 days.”

Taking cognizance of cases of death in patients who had administered both the dosages, Dr Arora told NDTV these were still being examined and they have to see whether those are from Covid or from the vaccine.

“We don’t know much about Covaxin yet but from international reports, we know that there can be problems four to 20 days after a Covishield shot. There could be clotting or bleeding. We haven’t seen this problem here so much, only about 0.61 per cent. About six persons in a crore can experience clotting or bleeding. That is far less than European numbers,” he added, asserting that the vaccines were completely safe.

Responding to the query on door-to-door vaccinations, Dr Arora said that the reason why door-to-door vaccinations had not been allowed was that in case of a severe allergic reaction if there was no immediate treatment, it could cause death.

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