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FreeTheVaccine Campaign US Lawmakers Support India, SA; Urge WTO To Waive Anti-COVID Vaccine Patents Temporarily

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Amid the accute crunch of Covid-vaccines, top US lawmakers have stepped forward in support of India and South Africa by launching #FreeTheVaccine campaign, urging World Trade Organisation to temporarily waive the medical drug patents to boost its supply. 

More than 100 Democratic Congressmen, along with a large number of policy activists and rights bodies, launched the campaign on Tuesday, a day before the crucial meeting of the WTO General Council in Geneva.

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“The horror in India could play out again and again in other countries if we don’t act now. Blocking access to vaccines is anti-humanitarian, anti-diplomatic, and weakens American influence for good on the global stage, Congressman Lloyd Doggett tweeted.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee also echoed similar sentiments.

“India is seeing devastation right now, which could be helped if we would #FreeTheVaccine. The time is now to do what is right, she said.

“India’s public health system is collapsing. This is no time to keep vaccines and vaccine technology from the developing world #FreeTheVaccine, Congressman Andy Levin said.

Last week, a group of Democratic lawmakers met Tai and White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients over the issue and urged her to support the proposal.

The group of lawmakers included Jan Schakowsky, Lloyd Doggett, Rosa DeLauro, Earl Blumenauer, Jes s Garc a, Barbara Lee, Adriano Espaillat, and Andy Levin.

“Much of the required vaccines should be manufactured abroad near those in greatest need using American technology. We need more urgent action by the administration to remove any objection to the TRIPS waiver and permit sharing of the intellectual property required for vaccine manufacturing to get underway immediately, the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“To underscore the need for action now, we hope that more taxpayers, public interest advocates, religious and business leaders will join our call on the administration. With an increasing public outcry, the administration must act, they said.

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Joining the #FreeTheVaccine campaign, Congressman Mark Pocan said India is being devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I joined 110 of my colleagues demanding President Joe Biden to support a TRIPS Waiver, so the world has access to life-saving COVID vaccines, he said.

“We must put people’s lives over Big Pharma’s profits. #FreeTheVaccine, Pocan said.

Indian American politician from New York Jaslin Kaur also appealed to President Biden to support the proposal by India and South Africa.

“Tomorrow is your chance to support #TRIPSWaiver before the WTO to save millions in India, she said.

“COVID-19 is killing 120 Indians per hour 3,000 people dying daily, while global superpowers hoard the vaccine + refuse to release the patents. It’s apartheid, it’s genocide. I’ll be standing with dozens of organizations + allies tomorrow to demand a free #PeoplesVaccine for all,” tweeted another Indian American politician from Virginia Karishma Mehta.

Dozens of non-profit organisations have scheduled a rally for vaccine access for all at the National Mall on Wednesday.

Prominent among them are People’s Action, Justice Is Global, Amnesty International, Public Action, Africans Rising, Oxfam and Association for Concerned Africa Scholars.

“We know governments can do much more to end the global pandemic, including sharing vaccine recipes and helping the world make billions more doses, said the rally organisers.

“The Biden administration has an opportunity to make vaccines available by supporting the TRIPS Waiver at the World Trade Organisation, as proposed by India and South Africa. Furthermore, the US can and should invest money in scaling up global vaccine manufacturing. Join the call to #FreeTheVaccine!” they said.

(With agency inputs)

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Israeli actress Gal Gadot wishes for safety for Israel, gets hate from Islamists and ‘liberals’ in return

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Amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihadis, Israeli actress Gal Gadot put up a tweet praying for peace.

She tweeted that her country (Israel) is at war and she worries for her family and friends and the people of Israel. “This is a vicious cycle that has been going on for far too long. Israel deserves to live as a free and safe nation. Our neighbors deserve the same. I pray for the victims and their families. I pray for this unimaginable hostility to end, I pray for our leaders to find the solution so we can live side by side in peace,” she tweeted.

However, soon the ‘liberals’ and Islamists descended upon her timeline with angry, hateful tweets, accusing her of being a genocide enabler.

Despite the fact that the Palestinian terrorists were attacking Israel with rockets and missiles, the Islamists accused Israel of ‘perpetrating a televised and documented ethnic cleansing’.

They also gave a call to boycott her movies and called her a ‘murderer’.

Some Islamists even claimed that Israel as a country does not exist and hence there is no ‘my country’ that she mentions in the tweet.

One Twitter user, whose heart apparently pains for ‘Palestine’, wished death upon Gal Gadot for wishing for peace upon her country.

Some also used this opportunity to hate on Jews.

Some ‘liberals’ also felt that her pray for peace for her country was ‘meaningless’.

All this while choosing to overlook the terrorism inflicted by Hamas on Israeli people. Gadot served as a soldier in the Israel Defence Forces for two years before taking a plunge into modelling and acting.

In December 2020, Gadot had hailed the ‘Shaheen Bagh Dadi’ Bilkis Bano, who was one of the prominent faces in the anti-CAA protests which culminated into anti-Hindu riots in February 2020. Bilkis was a prominent part of the protests that were organized as India decided to give citizenship to religiously prosecuted people from neighbouring Islamic countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

However, she soon deleted her Instagram story hailing Bilkis while the post continued to be up on her profile.

Israel-Palestine conflict

Conflict between Israel and Palestine escalated when Palestinian terror unit Hamas fired multiple rockets at Jerusalem, and the Israeli Defense Forces responding back in kind. The main reason behind the current conflict is the Sheikh Jarrah property dispute, a dispute which can lead to the evictions of around 300 Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood.

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For Those Recovering from the Virus, Here is How Long to Wait Before Taking the Covid-19 Vaccine

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With India’s vaccination drive slowly gathering pace and the number of infections refusing to die down, there are many who are testing positive for the virus after being partially inoculated. There are others who are recovering and need to be vaccinated.

The concern now is on the number of days that recovering individuals need to wait before going for the jab.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a wait for 90 days from the day one tests positive for Covid-19 if he/she has not received the vaccine.

A report by The Indian Express quoted immunologist Dr Vineeta Bal from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), infection-triggered immunity is likely to last for a few months, and it would be advisable to wait for 6-8 weeks after recovery.

Vaccine scientist Dr Gagandeep Kang told Indian Express that data from the UK shows there is 80% protection following a natural infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is fine to even wait up to six months, she said.

This is in line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) which reviewed data and said it was all right to delay vaccination for six months after a natural infection, as natural antibodies are likely to persist in the body until then.

For those infected after the first dose, the second dose can be given eight weeks after the person tests positive.

The body starts producing antibodies after the infection and it is akin to getting a vaccine. However it is advisable to wait for at least eight weeks before taking the second dose, experts recommend.

Scientists are still learning about natural and vaccine-induced immunity. According to the CDC, it typically takes two weeks for the body to build protection after vaccination, and hence it is possible to get infected.

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Karnataka Temporarily Suspends Vaccination For 18-44 Age Group, Will Prioritise Second Dose

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Owing to the short supply of Covid vaccines, Karnataka on Wednesday decided to ‘temporarily suspend’ vaccination drive for those aged between 18 to 44 years.

In a series of tweets, the Karnataka Health department said that the state government has decided that the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 and 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for the second dose.

“Therefore, all vaccines available with the state government i.e. supplied by union government and procured directly by state will be utilized for vaccination of beneficiaries due for second dose,” the Karnataka health department tweet explained.

The Health department added that vaccination drives for the 18 to 44 age group, including those who have already booked appointments will be temporarily suspended from May 14 till further orders.

According to the health department, the state government on May 7 had decided to utilise the complete supply of vaccines provided by the union government for vaccination of persons above 45 years, for vaccinating beneficiaries who were due for second dose.

“But under the changed circumstances and severe shortage of vaccine, the vaccine procured directly by the state government for vaccination of persons between 18 to 44 years too will be utilised for vaccination of beneficiaries who are due for second dose,” a senior health department official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.

The health department added that this order will be applicable for Covid vaccination at all state-run Covid vaccination centres in the state.

As of now, only two vaccines manufactured by Pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) and Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech are allowed in India for mass inoculation programme, but these companies are struggling to meet the country’s overwhelming demand for vaccines amid the ferocious second wave that has seen India’s Covid burden go up manifold.

Karnataka symbolically launched anti-Covid vaccination drive on May 1 but ever since it has failed to take off due to short supply of vaccines.

Karnataka Health minister, K. Sudhkar was first to state on April 30 that it was better to put off the launch of the drive on May 1 as the state had not received required stock and this was even endorsed by Chief Minister, B.S. Yediyurappa on that day. But, Yediyurappa the next day launched the vaccination drive symbolically on May 1.

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