A look inside Serum Institute of India's manufacturing facility
Pune-based Serum Insititute of India (SII), which manufactures Covishield, is the world's largest vaccine maker by volume. Founded by Cyrus Poonawalla in 1966, the firm has sold over 1.5 billion doses of vaccines including for Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-Hepatitis B, Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines. Vaccines made by SII are accredited by the World Health Organization. They are being used in around 170 countries around the world in their national immunisation programs. A report in The Hindu provides a look inside the vaccine giant's manufacturing facility. See here
Weekly death toll less than 1,000 for the first time since May last year
For the first time since the first week of May in 2020, the country's weekly death toll from Covid-19 dropped below 1,000. The toll of fatalities in January this year was less than half of that in December and the lowest in eight months, according to a report in The Times of India.
The tally of fresh infections of the novel coronavirus is also on a downward trajectory. The count in January fell below 500,000 to 4,71,282—the lowest monthly tally since June last year. Last week, the country had reported less than 100,000 infections for the first time since the June 15-21 week. Weekly infection tally is now less than 14% of the number seen at the height of the pandemic, the report said. Read more here
False claims about Covid-19 vaccines
Various false claims about Covid-19 vaccines are doing the rounds on social media. This report in the BBC brings you some widely-shared ones.
A claim that did the rounds on social media was the vaccine will lead to impotency. There is no evidence to suggest this and India's top drug regulator called the claim "absolute rubbish". Another claim says that the vaccine is free in India, while in both the US and in England you will pay. This is not true. The US government has said that Covid vaccines will be free, and the charge for administering the jab will be covered either through insurance or by a special Covid relief fund.
In England as well, which is part of the UK's National Health Service, where there are no charges for vaccines. Conspiracy theories have also falsely claimed that the vaccines contain microchips. Read more here
How lack of technology became a hurdle to justice after pandemic hit
In April last year, the Supreme Court directed that court proceedings be held through video-conferencing as a precaution against Covid-19. But, the country's justice systems were not fully equipped to tackle the emergency, according to a report in IndiaSpend. Only 6 out of 10 jails in the country had video conferencing facilities right before the pandemic struck. Less than half of all states and Union Territories had the facilities in 90% of their jails, the article said, citing a report from Tata Trusts. Read more here
How long does vaccine-derived antibody protection last?
It is not clear if protection from antibodies can last more than six months, according to a report in The Hindu. The promoters of Bharat Biotech and scientists at the ICMR say the strength of a vaccine depends on it being a "whole-inactivated virus". That means a larger surface area of the virus is visible to the body's immune system and in turn a wider range of antibodies are produced. But, antibodies from all vaccines so far are largely aimed at the spike protein. Therefore, more does not necessarily mean better. Read more here