There are two aspects to news. Knowing the Headline and understanding the intricacies of it. We at The Connectere focus on both. While The First Forum edition gives a brief about the headlines, The Weekly Analysis Edition is meant to educate the reader on what do various news mean and what are their intricacies. This initiative is meant to educate the reader on how to understand the important news. In the Sixth Edition we are covering the following news:
1. Free COVID-19 testing in Private Labs, orders Apex Court
2. Bernie Sanders exits Presidential race, what went wrong?
3. Hydroxychloroquine- India’s New Global Strategy is “potential Corona Vaccine”
4. US alleges WHO of allegedly Politicising COVID-19
5. A rich man’s virus making the poor suffer
6. Battling COVID-19 using locational intelligence

By Ankita, Divyansh and Mehak

Free COVID-19 testing in private labs, orders Apex court

The Supreme Court asked the government to make Covid-19 testing by private laboratories free of charge in an interim order. The bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and Ravindra S Bhatt said that it found prima facie substance in the claim by petitioner advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi that the charges may not be affordable for most people.

The petition came after the advisory of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which capped Rs 4,500 for testing of Covid-19 in private hospitals or labs, including screening and confirmatory tests. However, the factors to be considered are:

  1. Data says, India tests just 0.04% of its population. By comparison, Spain and Italy test a massive 18.3% and 15.8% of their respective populations. Germany and the UK have tested around 8%. Thus, free testing in labs is a big step to increase the number of tests conducted.
  2. However, the capping of the prices of the testing facility of Covid-19 in private hospitals/labs strikes at the Article 14 of the Constitution of India as being arbitrary and unreasonable.
  3. While private labs await further clarity by the government of India, the labs are worried because they were already barely able to recover costs at the government-mandated cost of Rs 4,500 and free testing increases the pressure further.

Private labs are still not clear regarding the allotment of financial modalities needed so that testing in private laboratories remains sustainable. This has also become a major concern for the traders, dealers and retailers of PPEs to these labs as the payment structure falls in a delay. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease and the cause of worldwide pandemic crisis. The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.

Bernie Sanders exits Presidential race, what went wrong?

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders officially dropped out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders’ exit from the race makes former Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic Presidential in the race against Donald Trump. While most of his ideas seemed nothing less than perfection such as healthcare for all, Climate change is real, free college education, background check on gun ownership he still had to drop out. Let’s see why:

  1. Slim chances of winning: There stood little chance of catching Biden and was reportedly looking to stay in the race until late April, when several states were slated to hold primaries before they were rescheduled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Through the early contests, as Biden faltered, Sanders performed well, blazing a path to the nomination. The results of the caucuses and primaries before and on Super Tuesday left Sanders trailing Biden by 83 pledged delegates — a significant, but not insurmountable, deficit. Later, Sanders lost 8 of the 11 primary contests after Super Tuesday, and most were Biden blowouts.
  2. Theory of class politics didn’t work– The core of Bernie’s support comes from voters with interest in the social-democratic programs he proposes, and class struggle that he brought fore. However, Biden, not Sanders, assembled a multiracial working-class coalition in key states and won every single county, regardless of income levels or racial demographics. Sanders had strong support among younger voters, but they did not turn out in overwhelming numbers.
  3. Lack of support of older and Black voters- While Sanders succeeded in expanding his coalition among some Latinos, his failure to win over black and elderly voters proved costly. Congressman James Clyburn’s endorsement helped Biden win 61% of the black vote in South Carolina and served as a springboard for the former vice-president. Some say Latino voters from the Caribbean and South America associate socialism, even Sanders’s “Democratic socialism” with totalitarian dictatorships. While the older voters said they wanted a more pragmatic approach.

Despite dropping out, Sanders said that he would continue to stay on the ballot in upcoming primaries to continue to gather delegates. It’s a move that will help exert influence at the Democratic convention scheduled for August.

Hydroxychloroquine- India’s New Global Strategy is “potential Corona Vaccine”

Hydroxychloroquine, a drug nobody much cared for decades, was like any regular commodity. But after Donald Trump’s White house address, the medicated tablet suddenly turned into a global strategic asset, essentially for India. During his White House coronavirus briefing, US President Donald Trump declared hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a seven decade-old anti-malarial drug, as a Covid-19 “game-changer” the world had been waiting for.

The high drama that followed the ban — the Trump-Modi phone call, the US President’s ‘retaliation’ threat, the Modi government’s relaxation for exports to friendly countries, and then the exchange of ‘thank you’ tweets — made headlines this entire week. At least 30 major countries, at the highest levels, asked India for hydroxychloroquine after Trump’s declaration. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro famously invoked the legend of Lord Hanuman and ‘Sanjivani Booti’.

Thus, it becomes all the more important to know more about this drug and its manufacturing in India.

  1. Hydroxychloroquine is in a class of drugs called antimalarials. It is used to prevent and treat acute attacks of malaria. It is also used to treat discoid or systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis in patients whose symptoms have not improved with other treatments.
  2. India currently makes around 20 crore pills of HCQ on a monthly basis even as it consumes only 20-25 lakh pills. The rest is exported. Unlike other Indian drugs, even the raw materials, or APIs, for HCQ are made in India by IPCA Labs, Zydus Cadila and Mangalam Drugs and Organics, among others.
  3. The nation currently has three-times more hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) than required and there are at least 3.28 crore tablets of the anti-malaria drug that will fulfil an entire month’s requirement.

India is now shipping the drug to all these countries, including Germany, Spain, Australia and Indonesia. Additionally, India is offering it free or preferentially to its neighbours. All this has come despite the fact that HCQ is an unlikely missile in the global war against Covid-19. There is little evidence of it working on the novel coronavirus. But preliminary reports from early clinical data and a larger trial in New York indicate there is some vigour in it.

US alleges WHO of “Politicizing” COVID-19

In a heartfelt plea for unity, the World Health Organization’s chief sought Wednesday to rise above sharp criticism and threats of funding cuts from U.S. President Donald Trump over the agency’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The vocal defense from the WHO director-general came a day after Trump blasted the U.N. agency for being “China-centric” and alleging that it had “criticized” his ban of travel from China as the COVID-19 outbreak was spreading from the city of Wuhan.

  1. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian and the WHO’s first African leader, projected humility and minimized his personal role while decrying invective and even racist slurs against him amid the organization’s response to the disease.
  2. WHO director Ghebreyesus has faced sharp global criticism for praising China’s leadership for its “determination to end the new coronavirus outbreak”. He has also been accused of conspiring with Beijing in its “propaganda” to hush-up coronavirus cases.
  3. S. agencies and departments that channel money to the World Health Organization have been asked not to send more such funds this fiscal year without first obtaining higher-level approval.

The U.S. is the top donor to the WHO; it gave it more than $400 million in 2019, according to the State Department, which noted that China gave $44 million. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. It is part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Group. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with six semi-autonomous regional offices and 150 field offices worldwide.

A Rich man’s virus making the Poor suffer

The people who are at the bottom of the economic pyramid are the ones bearing the burnt of the situation. These people fear dying from hunger rather than the virus. Unlike the deaths from the pandemic that are reported daily, there are no hard estimates of the loss of lives due to economic distress.

  1. Around 80% of people in India are employed in the informal sector. It deprives them from benefits like pension, sick leave, Provident Fund and other such befits. When everything came to a standstill there was no one to guide lakhs of people who become unemployed overnight without even a penny in their pocket.
  1. Seeing nothing around them, these people have been marching back to their villages. While there home state refused to take them back and told them to stay where they were and were made to squat like animals and were sprayed with disinfectants and even beat up with no really fault of their. It is what they thought was their only way of survival.
  1. Stocking up the pantry is an impossible financial hurdle for theunderprivileged. Many low-income children rely on free and reducedschool breakfasts and unches for their daily nutrition as parents cannot always afford it. Closed school worsened the situation for them.
  1. For the low-income group people, the only preventive measure of COVID-19- social distancing is next to impossible. Where 10 or even more people live together in one small room, how do we expect them to isolate themselves. And in a situation where sanitization product prices are on rise and there is no income in their case it is out of question that any such preventions will work.

No heed is paid to the plight of such people. A well-coordinated and planned strategy by the central and state government could have mitigated this situation. The government could have been more transparent that could have reduced panic. A well thought out, step by step plan was, what was needed.

Battling COVID-19 using Location Intelligence

The spread of COVID-19 is generating a huge disruption in our everyday activities never experienced before in our lifetime with some calling it ‘a war on an invisible enemy.’ While researchers and medical professionals are furiously engaged in developing a vaccine and effective treatment to fight the global emergency. The current situation leaves one to reflect on the inevitability of these infectious outbreaks happening at regular intervals and if there are any technological innovations that could be used to fight these. The idea of integrating technology into healthcare isn’t new. With data-rich stories and visual maps, location intelligence could emerge as our unlikely ally in creating healthy, resilient societies and communities. Location intelligence underpins the assumption that if something happens somewhere, the insight from ‘where’ is what could make all the difference in access to care, the quality of care and the possibility of achieving positive health outcomes.

  1. Using indoor maps, patients could leverage the ability to navigate throughout parking spaces around health facilities, conveniently check in and schedule appointments and locate specialized staff throughout an area, thus simplifying and enhancing their experience with the healthcare system.
  2. Location can help in geo-fencing healthy populations from high-risk areas via monitoring of physical and virtual traffic. Drones with mounted thermal cameras could help professionals to remotely screen communities.
  3. In such health pandemics like covid-19, location data could even help in surveillance and eradication. Satellites, mapping software, GPS trackers, GIS tools can be used to analyse the data to create a holistic information network for citizens highlighting where the outbreaks are, identifying vulnerable populations, and displaying the number of care givers deployed.

Using geo-spatial technology government and healthcare providers can get minute layer of details, planning and execution for creating healthier societies and developing resilient healthcare systems

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