DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |14 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS (UPSC) |14 Jan 2021| RaghukulCS

UPSC News Analysis

Tejas Mk­1A fighter aircraft

Context: CCS approves 83 Tejas fighters for Air Force

Topic in syllabus: Prelims – Defence

About Tejas Mk­1A fighter aircraft:

·      Desi air-to-air missile Astra Mk1 will be integrated on Tejas Mk1A, giving an edge to the fighter over its contemporaries in BVR warfare.

·      With the introduction of podded self-protection jammer (SPJ) and AESA on Tejas Mk1A, the survivability of the aircraft is further enhanced.

·      Besides, Astra and ASRAAM (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile), the fighter will also carry missiles for long-range as well as short-range operations. This is in addition to prevailing store configurations to increase offensive capability,” an official overseeing the programme said.

·      The AESA radar will give Tejas improved range with near-simultaneous missile-firing options on multiple targets and increased situational awareness with mode interleaving.

·      The AESA radar will be electronically scanned agile beam radar based on transmit/receive modules (TRM) and supports multimode operation. The radar is having capability to track multiple targets at a time in air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea modes.

·      The unified electronic warfare suite (UEWS) will provide capabilities for electronic countermeasures (ECM) and ECCM (electronic counter-countermeasures), with extended band of operation for threat detection and jamming capability.

·      The EW capability will increase survivability of the aircraft in a networked environment. With the integration of an external jamming pod, the aircraft will be able to do its duty as offensive air combat platform.

·      Additional features that are getting on board Tejas Mk1A, boosting its precision warfighting capabilities, include a digital moving map with 2D maps and 3D perspective view, provision for GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System), the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)-based positioning system, GAGAN (GPS-aided geo-augmented navigation) and SBAS (Satellite-based Augmentation system).

Tejas Mk¬1A fighter aircraft

Important news in short

·      The Delhi Commission for Protections of Child Rights (DCPCR), in an order on Wednesday, recommended that the Delhi government should declare a ban on medically unnecessary, sex
selective surgeries on inter sex infants and children except in the case of life-threatening situations.

·      SC takes cognisance of contamination of rivers – “Deterioration of quality of fresh water has a direct correlation with the quality of public health… The right to clean environment, and further, pollution free water, has been protected under the broad rubric of the right to life,” a three judge Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde said.

·      The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a working group on digital lending — including online platforms and mobile apps — to study all aspects of digital lending activities in the regulated financial sector as well as by unregulated players.

o   The working group will evaluate digital lending activities and assess the penetration and standards of outsourced digital lending activities in RBI regulated entities; identify the risks posed by unregulated digital lending to financial stability, regulated entities and consumers; and suggest regulatory changes to promote orderly growth of digital lending.

o   It will also recommend measures for expansion of specific regulatory or statutory perimeter and suggest the role of various regulatory and government agencies. It will also recommend a robust fair practices code for digital lending players.

·      National Security Adviser Ajit Doval held talks on Wednesday with the Afghan leadership in Kabul
on the security scenario in Afghanistan, ahead of the arrival of the Biden Harris administration in Washington DC.

There are no Examples related to Ethics (GS-4) in today’s newspaper

UPSC Editorial Analysis

(The Hindu & The Indian Express)

Care & caution | Getting the vaccine right

Source: The Indian express

Written by: K. Sujatha Rao | Bibek Debroy, Aditya Sinha

Topic in syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health. (GS-2)

Analysis about: This editorial talks about issues and solutions regarding COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Introduction:

·      The fight against COVID-19 is possibly entering its final stages, with the Prime Minister announcing the kick-off of the vaccination drive from January 16. This announcement precedes a herculean task ahead, in which 300 million Indians will be vaccinated in the first phase of the drive.

Issues associated with the vaccination programme:

In the COVID vaccine roll out, there is no clear data for either of the two vaccines proposed for use in the programme. We do not know if they provide protection for  life, for a year or six months, its efficacy among the elderly or the very sick or in stopping new infections.

·      Getting such data requires at least three years and cannot be obtained in a few months. India also does not have any advance purchase agreements for vaccines that have some of this data due to the completion of Phase 3 trials.

·      The two vaccines to be used in India, have not completed the Phase 3 that confirm safety and efficacy when tried out on a large sample.

·      The government has drawn up strategic guidelines for implementing an ambitious vaccine programme covering 30 crore people by July. The guidelines are ideal but do not reflect the real world of the health system that is full of flaws, defects, inconsistencies and cracks.

·      Of the 28,932 cold chain points, half are in the five southern states, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The eight states in the North and Odisha that account for over 40 per cent of the country’s population have only 28 per cent of the cold chain points.

·      Combined with poor human resources — doctors, nurses, pharmacists — a weak private sector, poor safety and hygiene standards, frequent power outages, poor infrastructure in terms of physical space, the capacity to implement with the expected speed, quality and accuracy is daunting.

·      The immunisation can disrupt routine health service delivery — antenatal care, national programmes like those pertaining to TB or other immunisation drives and exhaust workers, particularly if we have yet another wave of the infection or other outbreaks like the bird flu that is being witnessed in some states now.

·      While data for the above-50-year-olds is available in the electoral rolls (though there are complaints of exclusions making the Census a better option), line listing of the under 50s with comorbidities can be challenging.

Disease burden of NCDs’ is much higher in southern states that also have a higher proportion of the elderly. Not only are urban-rural variations substantial, ·      but urban areas have weak public health infrastructure and a multiple number of private providers, mostly unregistered, thanks to the poor implementation of the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010.

·      Patient tracking can be problematic as many may not have been diagnosed, go to multiple providers, or have multiple addresses as in the case of migrants.

·      Fudging, false certification and siphoning off vaccines to private facilities in the event of vast price differentials cannot be ruled out.

·      The non-availability of efficacy data could also impact the procurement and supply of vaccines, result in huge wastage, and can introduce scope for errors and duplication.

What is the necessity?

·      States should be prepared for adverse events following immunisation (AEFI). Although unlikely, in some cases, untoward medical occurrences can follow vaccination.

o   States should immediately address this issue, otherwise this will undermine public confidence in the vaccine. Therefore, a team of specialist doctors should be placed at every vaccination site to deal with AEFI.

·      Initially, states should also prioritise vaccinating people with comorbidities and elderly residing in clusters affected most by COVID-19. This can be a more targeted approach in the first phase, especially when the availability of the vaccine will be scarce. those who have been vaccinated can potentially carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus and unwittingly spread the disease to others, especially to their family members who are caregivers.

·      The government might consider vaccinating caregivers and family members residing with frontline workers and the elderly who will be vaccinated. This is along the same lines as the point made above. 

o   At a time of shortage, there must be some mechanism for allocation beyond frontline workers — that identification is presently based on age and comorbidities, regardless of place of residence.

·      As things stand, we do not know whether a vaccine will have uniform efficacy rates and are not yet aware of the efficacy of these vaccines in different populations such as immune-immature infants, children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals and immunosenescent individuals aged greater than or equal to 65 years. Hence, based on the relevant data, our vaccination strategy will also have to change/evolve.

·      As the efficacy data of phase 3 trials of various vaccines are released, they should be included in the public vaccination programme for those who cannot afford the vaccines.

·      There is also a need for involving the private sector in vaccine delivery and administration. This would reduce the burden on public healthcare facilities.

o   Doctors in the private healthcare system can be a great asset in carrying out a vaccine program at such a large scale. at the same time, whoever can afford these vaccines should be allowed to buy from the open market.

o   For example, Pfizer has sought permission to import the vaccine for sale and distribution in the country. Fiscal and logistical constraints may not allow India to include Pfizer and Moderna type vaccines in public vaccination programmes immediately.

o   But the private health infrastructure should not be inhibited from creating its distribution.

·      Private sector organisations and PSUs can be allowed to hold vaccination drives for their own employees, relieving some burden from public health authorities. This is being done in the UAE. 

·      The United Nations has proclaimed December 27 as the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness. India should also prepare itself for fighting with pandemics akin to COVID-19.

o   The nationwide vaccination drive is mostly a decentralised process, where state governments are preparing the list of elderly, people with comorbidities, healthcare and frontline workers.

o   Having a national health ID could have made the task of identifying people with comorbidities much easier. This is probably the right time to push for a national health ID, so that we are better prepared in the future.

 

New research: More effective ‘nanobodies’ to fight novel coronavirus

Source: The Indian express

Topic in syllabus: Science & technology (GS-3)

Introduction:

·      An international research team led by the University of Bonn has identified and further developed novel antibody fragments against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. These “nanobodies” are much smaller than classic antibodies and they, therefore, penetrate the tissue better and can be produced more easily in larger quantities, the university said in a media release.

About the new research:

·      The researchers at University Hospital Bonn have also combined the nanobodies into potentially particularly effective molecules, which attack different parts of the virus simultaneously.

·      The new approach could prevent the pathogen from evading the active agent through mutations, the university said. 

How the research has been conducted?

·      “They first injected a surface protein of the coronavirus into an alpaca and a llama.”

·      “Their immune system then produces mainly antibodies directed against this virus. In addition to complex normal antibodies, llamas and alpacas also produce a simpler antibody variant that can serve as the basis for nanobodies.”

Why Nanobodies are more preferable that Antibodies?

·      Antibodies are an important weapon in the immune system’s defense against infections. They bind to the surface structures of bacteria or viruses and prevent their replication.

·      One strategy in the fight against disease is therefore to produce effective antibodies in large quantities and inject them into patients.

·      However, producing antibodies is difficult and time-consuming; they are, therefore, probably not suitable for widespread use.

·      The researchers instead focussed on another group of molecules, the nanobodies.

·      Nanobodies are antibody fragments that are so simple that they can be produced by bacteria or yeast, which is less expensive.

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