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CEOs of 40 US Companies Create Global Task Force to Help India Fight Covid-19

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In a show of solidarity, CEOs of some 40 top American companies have come together to create a global task force to mobilise resources to help India fight the battle against Covid-19. A collective initiative of the US-India Business Council of the US Chambers of Commerce, and the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum and Business Roundtable, the task force during its meeting here on Monday committed to get 20,000 oxygen concentrators to India in the next few weeks, Deloitte CEO Puneet Renjen told PTI.

The new US public-private partnership to provide India critical medical supplies, vaccines, oxygen and other life-saving assistance amid an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases is called the Global Task Force on Pandemic Response: Mobilizing for India. The first-of-its-kind country-specific global task force to address a public health crisis in another country was addressed by US Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

The conversation showed how the United States and India can leverage the expertise and capabilities of the US private sector towards solutions for India’s Covid-19 crisis, Blinken said in a tweet. “A number of American companies have come together over the weekend. We are focused on doing our very best to help in any way that we possibly can. As the prime minister said, we were very confident, our spirits were up after successfully tackling the first wave, but this storm has shaken the nation. It is up to us to help in any way possible,” Renjen said in response to a question.

Observing that the first issue is around oxygen and its concentrators, Renjen said they have commitments to get 20,000 oxygen concentrators to India in the next few weeks. The first 1,000 will arrive in the middle of this week, he said, adding that by May 5, they expect another 11,000 oxygen concentrators to reach the country.

“Our goal is to get 25,000, and maybe even a number higher than that,” he added. The second issue is to look at oxygen cylinders with 10-litre and 45-litre capacity and to get other supplies like monitoring kits, Renjen said.

“I am very pleased with the fact that these companies have come together. We’re working with the USISPF, as well as the USIBC and with the Business Roundtable to coordinate this effort to help India in any way that that is required, he said. Welcoming the call between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden and the decision of the US to urgently send supplies to India, the Deloitte CEO reiterated that the two countries are natural allies.

“I’m very heartened by the fact that the US government is going to step up and do its part,” he said. The fight against COVID-19 is personal for him. Several family members of Renjen, who comes from Rohtak in India’s Haryana, have contracted the disease.

Around 2,000 of Deloitte’s employees in India have been infected, he said. “We are facilitating individuals getting the vaccines. We are providing them medical assistance, home testing kits. This is being consistently done by all entities that have big footprints in India. That is really important to do,” Renjen said.

“We will do everything on our part to take care of our employees, like I believe every one of the multinationals that were on the call with me are committed to doing. But they have really stepped up,” he said. “This is a real kudos to Indian talent,” Renjen said.

The task force also comprises representations from retail sector, e-commerce, pharmaceutical, technology industry and large manufacturing entities. “This global crisis requires a global response, and the American business community could not be better positioned, or more determined, to help lead the way, said Suzanne Clark, president and chief executive officer of the US Chamber of Commerce.

It was wonderful to see everybody focused on making sure that they do their part, that they contribute. Out of that discussion, the first step that we came up with was these oxygen concentrators, Renjen said. Our point to the US government is to provide assistance (to India), wherever it’s requested, he added.

These US companies are coordinating with the Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu. Earlier in the week, he gave us the list of items that are of critical need, Renjen said.

The list includes oxygen concentrators, oxygen generators, two critical medicines that he wanted to see if the US government can release, monitoring kits, and encouraging the US government to ease supply of critical materials for vaccines. Responding to a question, Renjen exuded confidence that India would overcome this.

This too shall pass. I am very confident in my Indian brothers and sisters; we will overcome this, he said. I don’t think we need to panic. We listen to the scientists and listen to the people that are managing this in the country. I think we just have to navigate through it. We will have two or three weeks of very difficult times. “It is a tragic situation, particularly for people that have Covid or who have lost loved ones. My heart goes out to them, but we are going to do our part, Renjen said.

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Russian-made Sputnik V launched by Dr Reddy, to cost Rs.995 per dose

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Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, the Indian partner of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said it has commenced Sputnik V’s India rollout, with the first doses being administered in Hyderabad on Friday on a limited basis.

Deepak Sapra,, the global head of Custom Pharma Services at Dr Reddy’s Lab became the first person to receive the Sputnik V shot at Hyderabad today.

According to the reports, the Hyderabad-based company said the Russian vaccine – Sputnik V would be priced at Rs 948 per dose with an additional 5% GST to be charged on it, putting the price at around Rs 995.4.

“As part of a limited pilot, the soft launch of the vaccine has commenced, and the first dose of the vaccine was administered in Hyderabad today on May 14, 2021. The imported doses of the vaccine are presently priced at an MRP of Rs 948 + 5% GST per dose, with the possibility of a lower price point when local supply begins,” the company said in its regulatory filing.

Further, the company also said that the first consignment of imported doses that landed in India on May 1, 2021, has received regulatory clearance from the Central Drugs Laboratory, Kasauli, on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

The pharmaceutical company expects more consignments of imported doses in the upcoming months. In later months, the supply of the Sputnik V vaccine produced by the Indian manufacturing partners is also expected to commence. Currently, the Russian vaccine manufacturing company is working closely with its six manufacturing partners in India to fulfil regulatory requirements to ensure a smooth and timely supply.

“Dr Reddy’s will work closely with stakeholders in the government and private sector in India to ensure the widest possible reach of the Sputnik V vaccine as part of the national inoculation effort,” the Hyderabad-based pharma company said.

The rollout of the Sputnik V vaccine at market rates, without any subsidy or philanthropic rate slash, comes at a time when left-liberals are waging war against Indian-made vaccines over its alleged ‘higher costs’ while batting for much costlier foreign vaccines.

Propaganda against Indian vaccines

Ever since various pharmaceutical companies developed vaccines for Covid-19, the left-liberals, joining hands with the opposition parties, have launched a vested campaign against Indian companies. The left-liberals have been attacking the Indian origin Covaxin made by Bharat Biotech and SII’s Covishield over its prices while forcing both the government and manufacturers to slash the prices.

The left-liberals had accused Indian companies of making huge profits at the expense of common people by keeping the prices of their vaccines high. In realilty the Indian made vaccines are among the cheapest in the wolrd.

It is interesting to see how the opposition parties and its left-wing media ecosystem reacts to the roll-out of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccines that cost around Rs.1,000, which is nearly costlier than the two Indian-made vaccines – Covaxin and Covishield.

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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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