LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (04/01/2021)

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Now  Storage Centers  For Vaccine Needed

Vaccine in India is ready for roll out after DCGI gives nod for two indigeneous  Covaxin and Covishield by Oxford and Astrazeneca. The country  witnessed dry run on Saturday with states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Assam  and Goa. The state organised the dry run as preparation for the same. The Indian government has decided to roll out in three phases. The health ministry has declared that in the first phase all frontline  workers will be given vaccine and then followed by comorbid patients and those above 50 years of age. The state will require all logistics and storage capacity to store the vaccine in cool temperature from  2 degree to 8 degree celcius. Serum Institute of India has confirmed the safety use of vaccine thus giving  a country relief from the covid-19 situation. The states are expected to gear up with the facility centers  to give vaccine. The vaccine by Bharat Biotech has received nod for the use and hence wait for the emergency vaccination is over. Though there is hesitation from some politicians the  approval by the authorities  cannot be questioned as the decision is not without trials and tests. The country should welcome the vaccine developed in India without giving a political angle to the said issue. It is now upto states to make use of it by proper arrangements to roll out. The government has issued documentation and  to be used for emergency purpose. It is a great matter of pride for India to get its own vaccine within 9 months of the pandemic.

RAJU RAMAMURTHY, VASCO 

UK’s Eleventh-Hour Vaccination Mix

Although UK is in the grip of an heightened emergency scenario with the Covid-19 new infected cases hovering around the 50,000 mark daily due to the new variant of the coronavirus which is 70% more transmissible, the decision by the British government to use a mix of the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines as an emergency measure is a gamble that may have serious consequences. Even if the two vaccines are based on the same messenger RNA concept, still the clinical trials of these respective vaccines have been done only for 2 doses of the same vaccine within a 21-day period and the efficacy has been determined only for inoculation with the same vaccine that are coincidentally about 95% effective. UK could have used both the vaccines but subjected those inoculated with the same brand shots. This would have reduced the unknown factor of mixing the two vaccines as an emergency measure which could have unknown untested effects. It would have been definitely better to vaccinate people with the same shots of each vaccine instead of trying a combination of the two which has unknown degree of clinically untested efficacy of use in tandem. Anyway the number of shots will only totally add up to the number of shots of each vaccine that can be manufactured for deployment at the particular time. Even a small difference in the composition of the two vaccines could have unknown consequences and be a gamble on the lives of the recipients. Also efficacy of the respective vaccines has been tested for previous strain of coronavirus and not for the new strain which is 70% more transmissible.

Elvidio Miranda, Panaji

Tourism Versus Pandemic Concerns

For a state that has been fighting the bane of tourism for years now, the manner in which this sector has opened up in a big way to attract business after the ease of restrictions post lockdown throws a big question mark over Goa’s pandemic-related concerns. Hence, the decision by an expert committee to recommend to the government to consider taking action against tourism-related establishments which have failed to implement within their premises standard operating procedures and COVID-19 norms does make sense! The frenzied celebration and chaotic partying that described the ushering in of the New Year in the coastal state hardly justifies the decision by Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant to overrule a move to impose night curfew in Goa on the eve of New Year’s Day. The inability of the Goa Police to handle the massive influx of tourists into the state was an obvious consequence of this blunder! Beach belts, especially in the north, were teeming with visitors soaked in the festive mood unmindful of the looming peril. While many states and metros preferred to tone down celebrations emphasizing on health concerns of its citizens, we had the CM of Goa in a rare exhibition of magnanimity leaving it to the discretion of the tourists to exercise and follow the statutory safety guidelines prescribed. Understandably, after mining, tourism constitutes the major economic lifeline for Goa. However, the fallout of night curfew on the financials of an already battered economy cannot be proffered as excuses for condoning the sort of crowd behaviour witnessed during the grand galas organized. As a caution against possible surge in the outbreak of COVID in the state brimming with tourists, it is for the government to ensure that it clamps down on the unruliness that has become a predictable aspect of tourism in the state today. With an obliging administration which has no compunctions about looking the other way even when gross irregularities are observed, Goa is bound to become a haven for party hoppers who wouldn’t think twice about flaunting the COVID norms to have a good time. Quite evidently, the corona scare has been unable to put a leash on the enthusiasm of the celebrating crowds in Goa. But should the government be endangering the lives of Goans by discounting the pandemic.

PACHU MENON, Margao