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Ranveer Singh brings home Lamborghini Urus Pearl Capsule edition

Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh has purchased a Lamborghini Urus Pearl Capsule Edition, which was launched in India this March. The Gully Boy star is fond of the Raging Bull considering he bought a red-colored Urus in 2019 as well. Singh’s car is finished in an Arancio Borealis (orange) shade and rides on 22-inch Nath wheels. It was delivered to him by Lamborghini Mumbai.

Lamborghini Urus Pearl Capsule has a 5-seater cabin with dual-tone Alcantara seats, black anodized trim bits, ‘Urus’ branding on the backrest, Lamborghini logo embroidered into headrests, and a multifunctional flat-bottom steering wheel. It packs a touchscreen infotainment console with support for the latest connectivity facilities. For ensuring the passengers’ safety, multiple airbags, crash sensors, and an optional Parking Assistance Package are available.

Singh bought the Lamborghini Urus Pearl Capsule for a hefty Rs. 3.43 crore (ex-showroom). Last month, actor Kartik Aaryan purchased a standard Urus. Some other celebrities and businessmen who own the popular SUV are director Rohit Shetty, Mukesh Ambani, and Adar Poonawalla.

 

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India Latest News

Delay in vaccine export by India to deal blow to poorer nations

New Delhi: Covid-19 vaccination programmes across Africa and much of the developing world will suffer big delays after India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, said that it would not be exporting the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine until the end of the year, The Guardian reported.

The decision is likely to leave the Covax global vaccine-sharing facility, which helps poor countries, facing a shortfall of hundreds of millions of doses, the report said.

“We continue to scale up manufacturing and prioritise India … We also hope to start delivering to Covax and other countries by the end of this year,” Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of Serum Institute of India (SII), said.

SII had paused deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March, diverting for domestic use doses that were to be distributed across the developing world. It had been widely hoped that supplies of the AstraZeneca shot, which is suitable for use in countries with weak infrastructure and many poorer countries, would begin again in June or October, the report said.

However, India is battling a wave of infections that has killed more than 283,000 people, according to official figures that many experts believe are substantial underestimates, the report said.

Bangladesh said it urgently needed 1.6 million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine to provide second doses.

Nepal, which started its vaccination drive in January with 2.35 million AstraZeneca doses provided by India and Covax, also said it had no stocks and more than 1.55 million people were awaiting second doses.

US President Joe Biden said that the US would export at least 20 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, on top of 60 million AstraZeneca doses he had already planned to give to other countries.

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Latest News USA

Why Biden delayed offering help to India

By Frank F Islam

On April 24 the US announced that it will immediately make available raw materials requested by vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) and will also send supplies of therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators and PPE  to India.

A statement released by the National Security Council, after a telephone conversation between US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, said additionally that Washington is “pursuing options to provide oxygen generation and related supplies on an urgent basis.” The statement, which came after two overnight tweets by Sullivan and secretary of state Antony Blinken, both indicating that help was on the way, put an end to a period of speculation on whether the US was abandoning India during what may be its worst humanitarian crisis since Independence.

The period of uncertainty began after Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII (Serum Institute of India), appealed to President Joe Biden in an April 16 tweet to lift an “embargo of raw material exports out of the US so that vaccine production can ramp up” in India.

Six days later on April 22, a state department spokesperson answered in a way that sounded like Washington might not allow the export. The next day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki clarified, stating that the US is “working cl e osely with Indian officials at both political and experts’ level to identify ways to help address the crisis.”

Yet,  an impression was created that the Biden administration might not help India. On social media, there was speculation that US-India relations were strained. A few Indian analysts questioned the reliability of the US as a partner and suggested Russia may be a better ally.

While many of these theories have since been put to rest, questions arise as to why there was this period of uncertainty about what relief and support the US would provide to India.

There are three possible reasons for this: America’s own unfinished battle with the virus. The deliberative nature of the Biden White House decision-making process. And, the understandable desire to avoid a political controversy in the middle of the pandemic in the US.

First, even though Biden has exceeded his vaccination targets for his first 100 days in office, the US is still not out of woods. On April 24, more than 50,000 Americans tested positive for the dreaded virus and around 750 lives were lost.

That is why state department spokesperson pointed out on April 22, that the country “has been hit harder than any other country around the world” and the administration has “a special responsibility to the American people.”

Second, when it comes to decision-making, Biden is an institutionalist. He believes in getting feedback and inputs from different stakeholders before making a commitment to action.

Sunday’s announcement came following days of intense intra-agency discussions at the highest level, involving NSA officials, the department of state and the office of the US Trade Representative. Interestingly, until the Sullivan-Doval call, there was no official statement from the Indian side on the issue, indicating that those discussions were going on. Finally, in these divisive times in the US, the administration must be mindful of potential attacks from the nativist “America First” crowd if it appears to chart a course in the international arena that suggests that it cares more about foreign nationals than its own citizens. It is true that there is a bipartisan support for relations with India. But there are some elected officials who could exploit  the administration’s humanitarian and completely appropriate support for India and the world.

The good — and I should add expected — news is that the US is doing the right thing in lifting the embargo on vaccine ingredients and sending other critical supplies to India. The surprising thing is that there was ever any doubt or question that it would. The Biden administration also brings a compassion and moral understanding to the table that empowers it to do this as the right thing to fight this virus globally.

Frank F Islam is an entrepreneur, civic leader, and thought leader based in Washington DC.

 

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Health Latest News

Indian vaccine makers decry US use of wartime powers to protect supplies

Two of India’s top vaccine manufacturers making AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson shots have warned that the world’s vaccine production is being threatened by America’s pandemic export controls.

Mahima Datla, chief executive of pharmaceutical company Biological E, said US suppliers claim they may not be able to fulfil orders to global clients because of Washington’s use of the Defense Production Act.

Calling for urgent international intervention, Datla told the Financial Times: “It’s not only going to make the scale up for Covid vaccines difficult, but because of this it’s going to make manufacturing of routine vaccines extremely difficult.”

Both US President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump have invoked the Korean war era DPA during the pandemic to secure priority supplies of materials needed to control the disease. But with the US having ordered more than enough doses for every adult in the US, American suppliers are struggling to make enough to fulfil contracts outside the country.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson said last week: “The president is deeply focused on the issue of expanding global vaccination, manufacturing, and delivery, which will all be critical to end the pandemic.”

Drugmakers around the world are struggling to increase production as countries trade accusations of “vaccine nationalism”. Last week, European Council president Charles Michel said the UK had introduced a ban on vaccine exports, a claim denounced by Boris Johnson’s government. The EU has urged the US to allow free flow of drug supplies to address its vaccine shortage.

The White House said in response it was “in close touch with the EU regarding our shared concerns regarding vaccines.”

On Friday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization director-general, also warned of global shortages of vital components, which were limiting the production of Covid-19 shots but also jabs used for routine childhood immunizations. He said some countries had imposed legal restrictions, which was “putting lives at risk” and called on nations not to stockpile supplies. “We’re all interdependent,” he said. “No country can simply vaccinate its way out of this.”

Datla, whose company is manufacturing Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, said the DPA meant suppliers were “reluctant to commit that they will stick to their delivery timelines”.

“The supply chain challenges are going to make scaling up extremely difficult.”

Biological E, a family run pharmaceutical business based in Hyderabad, supplies vaccines to WHO and Unicef for distribution around the world.

It is developing a Covid-19 vaccine in partnership with US pharmaceutical company Dynavax Technologies Corporation and the Baylor College of Medicine with a target of producing 1bn doses. The company is also manufacturing at least 1bn doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by the end of 2022.

Datla’s remarks come after Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, warned that the Defense Production Act could undermine the global vaccination effort. 

“The Novavax vaccine, which we’re a major manufacturer for, needs these items from the US,” Poonawalla said. “We are talking about having free global access to vaccines but if we can’t get the raw materials out of the US — that’s going to be a serious limiting factor.”

Datla said she was hopeful that after a Friday meeting between the Quad — a diplomatic and security initiative between the US, Japan, India and Australia — that the supply situation could be resolved. (ft.com)

Mahima Datla, MD, Biological E (Image courtesy: ANI)
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India Latest News

PM Modi takes 3 city tour in a day to review vaccine work

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune to review coronavirus vaccine development work there.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said the day-long visit was aimed at getting a first-hand perspective of the preparations, challenges and roadmap in India’s endeavor to vaccinate its citizens.
Modi began by visiting pharma major Zydus Cadila’s manufacturing facility near Ahmedabad. Wearing a PPE kit, he reviewed the vaccine development process at the company’s research center, located over 20 km from Ahmedabad.
Modi was extensively briefed about the vaccine work at the plant by the company officials. He was briefed about the vaccine production procedure. He interacted with scientists and vaccine developers, an official said.
“Visited the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad to know more about the indigenous DNA based vaccine being developed by Zydus Cadila. I compliment the team behind this effort for their work. Government of India is actively working with them to support them in this journey,” Modi tweeted after the visit.
Zydus Cadila chairman Pankaj Patel recently said the company is aiming to complete the vaccine trial by March 2021, and could produce up to 100 million doses a year.
Modi spent over an hour at the plant, before leaving for the airport, from where he left for Hyderabad at 11.40 am.
Modi landed at Hakimpet Air Force station near Hyderabad around 1 pm and proceeded to pharma major Bharat Biotech’s vaccine manufacturing facility at Genome valley, located around 20 km from the air station, by road.
At the facility, he reviewed the progress of Covaxin, a vaccine candidate being developed by the company. He also interacted with Bharat Biotech Chairman and Managing Director Krishna Ella, scientists and senior management.
“At the Bharat Biotech facility in Hyderabad, was briefed about their indigenous COVID-19 vaccine. Congratulated the scientists for their progress in the trials so far. Their team is closely working with ICMR to facilitate speedy progress,” Modi tweeted after his hour-long visit there.
Covaxin, being developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, is undergoing phase-3 trials.
At 3.20 pm, Modi took off for Pune, where he landed at 4.30 pm. From the airport, Modi proceeded by helicopter to the Serum Institute of India (SII) at Manjari, located 17 km from the airport.
Modi interacted with scientists at the Serum Institute of India and went around the facility, taking stock of vaccine development work being carried out there, before leaving for the Pune airport around 6 pm on the way back to Delhi. 
Modi’s visit to SII was aimed at reviewing the progress of the vaccine candidate for coronavirus and to know about its launch, production and distribution mechanism, an official said. Serum Institute of India has partnered with pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University for the vaccine.

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coronavirus Latest News

Serum Institute’s Adar Poonawalla warns millions globally won’t get Covid vaccines till 2024

By The SATimes News Service

Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of Serum Institute of India (SII), has warned there won’t be enough vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for everyone in the world till the end of 2024, according to a report on Monday.

The CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has estimated that the world will need around 15 billion doses of the Covid-19 shot if it is a two-dose vaccine. “It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” Poonawalla told the Financial Times.

The Pune-based pharma firm has partnered with five international pharmaceutical firms, including AstraZeneca and Novavax, to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and committed to producing one billion doses, of which it has pledged half to India.

Poonawalla’s remarks came a day after Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said a vaccine against the coronavirus disease would be ready by early next year. “It may be ready by the first quarter of next year,” he had said.

On SII’s word to produce a billion doses, he said that the commitment far exceeded the capacity of other vaccine producers. “I know the world wants to be optimistic on it… [but] I have not heard of anyone coming even close to that [level] right now,” he told the business daily in a video call from London.

The Financial Times reported that as part of SII’s agreement with AstraZeneca, the firm will aim to produce vaccine doses that cost around $3 for 68 countries and under its agreement with Novavax, for 92 countries.

The company may also partner with Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute to manufacture the Sputnik vaccine, according to the newspaper.

Last week, human trials of the Oxford vaccine candidate by AstraZeneca were halted after a volunteer fell sick in the UK following which the Serum Institute of India also paused the trials as it was issued a show-cause notice by the Drug Controller of India. The trials, however, have resumed in Britain. (Source: hindustantimes.com)

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coronavirus Latest News

Indian-owned UK firm strikes Covid vaccine pact with India

London: An Indian-origin professor’s Oxford-based company on Tuesday announced that its Indian partner, the Serum Institute of India (SIIPL), has begun trials of a novel virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine targeting Covid-19 which has the potential to offer a groundbreaking new approach to fighting the pandemic.

Prof Sumi Biswas, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of SpyBiotech – an Oxford University spinoff company with a novel vaccine platform to target infectious diseases, cancer and chronic diseases, said the first subjects have been dosed in a Phase I/II trial.

SpyBiotech said it has signed an exclusive global licensing agreement with SIIPL for the development of the vaccine as part of the study initiated in Australia.

“Combining SpyBiotech’s unique platform technology with Serum’s extensive expertise developing VLPs and its manufacturing capability is an exciting development at a critical time, giving us the tools to produce the large volume of doses required to support the global fight against Covid-19,” said Biswas, a Kolkata-born immunologist.

“For SpyBiotech, this is an opportunity to provide an accelerated proof point for our platform technology, alongside the other candidates which we are advancing into clinical development. Our technology can be combined with multiple vaccine delivery platforms to create a plug and display vaccine which is critical for generating vaccines rapidly and safely,” she said.

Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer of SIIPL, said: “We are very excited about the collaboration with SpyBiotech to work on this novel vaccine for Covid-19.

“This new technology has the potential to be a powerful new approach to tackling the pandemic. SIIPL is looking forward to working alongside SpyBiotech to advance this candidate through clinical development.” (PTI)

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