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Professor debunks Economic Times claim that Centre was in denial

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On Friday (April 30), an IIT-Hyderabad Professor named M Vidyasagar slammed the Economic Times (ET) for quoting him out of context and insinuating that the Centre ‘deliberately’ ignored the warning signs of the 2nd wave of Coronavirus outbreak in India.

In an article titled, “Panel red-flagged onset of 2nd wave in March 1st week,” and published on Friday, ET had quoted the head of the National Coronavirus supermodel committee Professor M Vidyasagar. “We did highlight the fact in the first week of March that the second wave was on its way and the government should prepare. It was red-flagged to the appropriate people in the government,” the article quoted the IIT Professor as saying.

Furthermore, the article read, “Vidyasagar, however, feels now that people were in ‘denial’ about the second wave. “Around March 8-9, we found that the beta ‘contact’ parameter was growing very high and accordingly started flagging it to people in the government. The pandemic in its second wave had already set in by March and was on course. People were in denial about the second wave,” he said.”

Screengrab of the Economic Times report

ET claimed that the government was in a ‘denial’ mode and thus responsible for the increasing Coronavirus cases in India. To bolster their misleading claim, the newspaper attributed the quote to the IIT-Hyderabad Professor heading the National Coronavirus supermodel committee. Being well aware that such an unverified and outlandish claim will generate widespread public resentment against the incumbent government, the Economic Times went ahead with the publication.

IIT Professor debunks claims that the Union govt was in a ‘denial mode’

Within a few hours, Professor M Vidyasagar took to Twitter to debunk the allegation that the Centre was in a state of denial. While attaching the image of the report, he tweeted, “Since I am quoted in this article, I would like to clarify a few things. First, I never said anyone was “in denial.” It is perhaps a paraphrase but sounds like an accusation, which was never made by me. The rest of my comments (quoted accurately) make that clear.”

ET had also quoted the Secretary of Department of Science and Technology, Professor Ashutosh Sharma. He had drawn a distinction between ‘sounding an alert’ about the 2nd wave and predicting the extent of the surge in Coronavirus cases. He had emphasised that none could predict that the surge in cases during 2nd wave would be 5-10 times higher than that of last year’s peak surge.

Although Economic Times presented the points raised by Dr Ashutosh Sharma as being antagonistic and contradictory to the claims of Professor M Vidyasagar, the latter clarified the same in his subsequent tweets. “Second, Prof. Sharma (Secretary DST) is perfectly right. We did NOT manage to project the correct values for the second peak, because the parameters of the pandemic were changing rapidly, even wildly, until about a week ago,” Professor Vidyasagar said.

He further added, “It is only during the past week that the model parameters stabilized, and we could make reliable projections. These have been shared by Mahindra Agarwal (IIT Kanpur Professor). We now project that the peak is very close at hand, perhaps even next week, at 4 lakhs plus or minus 0.1 lakhs.”

“While we were appointed by DST, we were contacted for inputs by higher authorities in GoI (Government of India) only about three or four times from July last year until now. Each time we gave whatever inputs we had. The last such occasion was April 2nd…Finally, the GoI would be doing a great service to the modelling community if it were to place all data in its possession in the public domain. These include: ratio of hospitalizations to positive tests, sequence data to of patients identify the virus variant, etc,” he concluded.

Economic Times tries to single out ‘political rallies’ and ‘Kumbh’ for rising Coronavirus cases

Besides trying to pin the blame of the second Coronavirus wave in India on the Modi government, Economic Times also attempted to attribute the rising cases to political rallies in West Bengal and the annual Hindu festival of Kumbh. However, Professor M Vidyasagar had clarified that it was difficult to establish ‘clear-cut links’.

On whether election rallies and the Kumbh Mela contributed to the spread, Vidyasagar said it was difficult to establish ‘such clear cut links’ between the two events and the surge in Coronavirus cases. “The second wave was itself triggered because people ignored the Covid-19 protocol, there was reckless socialising, including many weddings. Please note, that spike in Covid cases preceded election rallies by many weeks. Even the Kumbh started on March 11,” he had emphasised.

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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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More Than 24 Covid-19 Patients May Have Died in Chamarajanagar Due to Oxygen Crisis: HC Panel

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The number of deaths of Covid-19 patients for want of oxygen at Chamarajanagar district hospital in Karnataka could be higher than 24, according to a high court-appointed panel.

The three-member panel confirmed that 24 Covid-19 patients died in the hospital on the intervening night of May 2-3 as oxygen was not available for four hours from 10.30 pm, The Times of India reported.

Headed by retired HC judge Justice AN Venugopala Gowda, the panel noted that 62 died in the hospital between May 4 and May 10, and at least 36 were in-patients on May 2.

The panel, which submitted its report before the court on Tuesday, said the death of these 36 in-patients could be attributed to non-availability of oxygen supply during the night of May 2 and early hours of May 3.

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday said it would consider the report on Thursday.

Chamarajanagar DC failed ‘miserably’

The HC panel also flagged the absence of guidelines that day, and noted that recording case-sheets maintained by doctors and nurses at the hospital on the two dates looks sketchy.

The panel, however, absolved the Mysuru deputy commissioner of any anomalies, and pinned the blame on the deputy commissioner, Chamarajanagar, saying he “has not exhibited the dynamism and leadership qualities expected of a district head in a dire crisis situation…”

It said as the chairman of the District Disaster Management Committee, “he has miserably failed to guide and supervise the crisis situation arising out of the extreme demand for oxygen”.

“On the contrary, he has indulged in an unsavoury blame game accusing the DC of Mysore of causing hindrance for oxygen supply without any basis,” it added.

Although refilling plants on which the district hospital was dependent for its oxygen replenishment are located in Mysuru, which comes under the jurisdiction of Mysuru DC, the panel said that only on that basis it cannot be said that the Mysuru DC had any control over supply of oxygen to other districts.

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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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