Issue :   
May 2020 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:May' 2020


Need for an offensive war on the new pandemic

Jagdish N Singh

Bill Gates The world today in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the reports collected at the time of writing this column , global coronavirus infections have reached around 2.2 million with the death toll of about 145,000. The numbers of the infected are 667,801 in the United States, 182,816 in Spain, 168,941 in Italy, 165,027 in France and 130,450 in Germany. In the United States the pandemic has claimed over 23,000 lives. Israel has 3,865 confirmed coronavirus cases. The number of confirmed coronavirus-infected patients across India is relatively low at present. It has recorded around 17265 cases of COVID-19 and around 543 deaths. This number is likely to rise many times over when adequate tests are conducted in the country. So far only about 10 in a million people have been tested. Eminent business magnet and software developer Bill Gates has warned Africa might witness over 10 million deaths if the coronavirus spreads to the continent.

Stranded workers on the way to their native places Knowledgeable sources say such pandemics know no national boundaries. All nations must be transparent in sharing information on the pandemic and make appropriate efforts. The Modi Government needs to deal with the crisis very wisely. India needs to launch an offensive war on the pandemic. The Government must appropriately increase its budgetary allocation to the health sector. India has to be prepared to treat well all potential coronavirus cases across the country. The country has just over 70,000- 100,000 intensive care unit beds. It does not have a sufficient number of ventilators. India needs a lot more. She needs to focus on the testing, isolation and containment of specific socioeconomic segments who have been central to carrying and spreading the virus.
The current nation-wide lock-down has hurt the poor most. They are starving without any income or work . The Government must reach workers with distress allowance. The Government –fixed prices of wheat and rice per kg are Rs 21.50 and 22.50 respectively. The poor cannot afford this at present . We have about 54.2 million tonnes of food-grains in our government storage. This stock is rotting . The Government may employ its huge bureaucracy to distribute this stock free to the poor.

Search for vaccines

Henry A Kissinger In one of his recent articles, former American National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry A Kissinger has calculated a successful vaccine to treat the coronavirus patient might be 12 to 18 months away. I am, however , much more optimistic about the discovery of an appropriate vaccine to treat the new virus . According to reports, there are more than five dozen vaccines under development across the world.
Three of them are making fast progress : China's CanSino Biologics , U.S. National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals.
Inovio is working with Chinese researchers to begin a similar study in China . Pfizer is working on a vaccine alongside German firm BioNTech.
The Kansas City ( Missouri)- based Center for Pharmaceutical Research has opened a safety test of an experimental vaccine. The Los Angeles County Health Department is randomly testing the blood of the people, who have been infected by and recovered from the coronavirus, for antibodies, which are produced in human blood to fight infections. They think this may help them figure out what the blood needs to be immune to the disease. Israeli-based Pluristem has treated its first American patient suffering from COVID-19 complications . Six of the critically ill coronavirus patients in Israel were treated with Pluristem's placenta-based cell-therapy product and survived.
Pertinently, Israel is said to be developing the mobile phone app "Hamagen" ("The Shield"). This would link phones with epidemiological data and alert users if they are in the vicinity of someone infected with the disease.
Israel's BATM has developed a diagnostics kit to detect coronavirus from saliva samples in less than half an hour. The kit already detects SARS and MERS virus infections.
Israel has come up with a low-cost ventilator.
The prototype is undergoing tests at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem. The Israeli ventilator will cost per piece around $500 to $800. Currently, it is very hard to find a ventilator for less than $30,000 or 40,000.

A low- cost test kit

Minal Dakhave Bhosale Young scientist Minal Dakhave Bhosale of the Pune-based molecular diagnostic company Mylab Discovery deserves applause of the whole world for having designed and developed the coronavirus testing kit called Patho Detect in just six weeks.
This kit test is said to cost just 1,200 rupees ($16 ), a quarter of the 4,500 rupees ($60) that India normally pays to import Covid-19 testing kits from abroad. This kit gives the diagnosis in two and a half hours. The imported testing kits take about six-seven hours.
Now India must scale up screening of patients with flu symptoms to confirm or rule out the Covid-19 infection. The poor majority of India are likely to find it easier to access the new test kit.

Reaching out to America

Narendra Modi At a time when an appropriate vaccine is yet to be developed to treat the growing number of c o r o n a v i r u s - positive cases in the United States, its President Donald Trump must be finding India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu very helpful. New Delhi and Jerusalem are supplying to the United States some of the drugs that are being considered useful in absence of the appropriate ones that are under invention .

Donald Trump Last month New Delhi eased restrictions on the export of its vital generic drugs, including Hydroxychloroquine, to the United State.

Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli generic drug giant Teva is providing 10 million doses of its hydroxychloroquine drug to American hospitals free of charge. Of that, over six million doses of the drug have already been delivered. Teva has also indicated that it would conduct research to see if any other drug from out of its catalogue of 3,500 can be used to fight the coronavirus.