Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | 5 June, 2021

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“Corbevax Vaccine” and its difference from other Covid-19 vaccines

What is the News?

India has placed an advance order to block 300 million doses of a new Covid-19 vaccine, Corbevax from Hyderabad-based company Biological E.

About Corbevax Vaccine:

  • Corbevax is a recombinant protein subunit vaccine. The vaccine is being indigenously produced by Biological E, Hyderabad-based Pharmaceutical company.
  • Made up of: The Corbevax vaccine is made up of a specific part of SARS-CoV-2 — the spike protein on the virus’s surface.
  • Administration of Vaccine: The vaccine will be administered in two doses. It is expected to be among the cheapest available in the country.

What are Spike Proteins?

  • The members of the coronavirus family have sharp bumps that protrude from the surface of their outer envelopes. Those bumps are known as spike proteins.
  • These spike proteins allow the virus to enter the cells in the body so that it can replicate and cause disease.
  • However, in Corbevax Vaccine the spike protein alone is given to the body. So, it is not expected to be harmful as the rest of the virus is absent. The body is expected to develop an immune response against the injected spike protein.
  • Therefore, when the real virus attempts to infect the body, it will already have an immune response ready that will make it unlikely for the person to fall severely ill.

Note: The technology to inject spike protein to develop immunity against a disease is not new. It has been used previously in making hepatitis B vaccines. However, Corbevax is the first vaccine made for COVID-19 to use this technology.

Different types of Covid-19 vaccines:

Vaccines are categorised on the basis of the development process adopted by scientists. For example:

  • Pfizer and Moderna vaccines developed in the US are mRNA vaccines. In this type, vaccines will carry the molecular instructions to make the protein in the body through a synthetic RNA of the virus. The host body uses this to produce the viral protein that is recognized and thereby making the body mount an immune response against the disease.
  • Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V and AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine is a kind of viral vector vaccine. In this type, a modified version of other viruses (for example, adenovirus) is used. The virus can enter human cells but not replicate inside. A gene for the coronavirus vaccine was added into the adenovirus DNA, allowing the vaccine to target the spike proteins that SARS-CoV-2 uses to enter human cells.
  • Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Sinovac-CoronaVac is categorised as an inactivated vaccine. In this type, an inactivated live virus is used to create an immune response against the disease.

How is the Corbevax Vaccine different from these vaccines?

  • Inactivated vaccines attempt to target the entire structure of the virus.
    • On the other hand, Corbevax like the mRNA and viral vector Covid-19 vaccines targets only the spike protein but in a different way.
  • Viral vectors and mRNA vaccines use a code to induce our cells to make the spike proteins against which the body has to build immunity.
    • On the other hand, in the case of Corbevax is actually giving the spike protein alone.

Source: Indian Express


“Vigilance clearance” is mandatory before offering jobs to retired Govt employee: CVC

What is the News?

Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) has laid down a procedure for employing a retired official on a contractual or consultancy basis. Under this guideline, government organisations have to get vigilance clearance before employing a retired official.

What is the Procedure?

  • The organisations owned or controlled by the Center has to obtain vigilance clearance before offering employment to the retired officers. This guideline is applicable to the retired officers of All India Services, Group A officers of the Central government or their equivalent in other organisations.
  • This clearance has to be obtained from the employer organisation, from which the officer has retired.
  • In case a retired officer served in more than one organisation, clearance has to be obtained from all of them where the person was posted in the 10 years prior to retirement.
  • Simultaneously, a communication seeking clearance should also be sent to the CVC.
  • However, if no reply is received from the erstwhile employer(s) within 15 days of sending the communication by speed post, a reminder can be sent.
  • Further, if there is no response within 21 days, vigilance clearance should be deemed to have been given.
  • But later if the employee is found involved in any vigilance-related matter or not cleared from the vigilance point of view, the erstwhile employer organisation would be responsible for all consequential actions. As it failed to provide clearance within the required time.

What was the need for this Procedure?

The procedure has been issued by the CVC due to:

  • Absence of a uniform procedure.
  • Officials with tainted past or cases pending against them were engaged by the government organisations.

What about retired Government officials taking up private jobs?

  • In the case of retired officials taking up full-time or contractual assignments in the private sector, the retired official has to maintain a “cooling off” period. If it was not observed, then that constitutes serious misconduct.
  • Hence, CVC has directed all government organisations to formulate rules to ensure a proper cooling-off period was observed by retired officials.

Source: The Hindu


Human-induced global warming causes over a third of “heat-related deaths”: Study

What is the News?

According to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, more than one-third of the world’s heat-related deaths between 1991 and 2018 are due to global warming.

Key Findings of the study:

  • Between 1991 and 2018, more than a third (37%) of all deaths in which heat played a role were due to human-induced global warming,
  • Region-Wise: The highest percentage of heat-related deaths due to global warming was in Southern and Western Asia (Iran and Kuwait), south-east Asia (the Philippines and Thailand) and Central and South America.
  • Country Wise: The heat-related deaths due to human-induced global warming was between 35 and 39% in the United States, Australia, France, Britain and Spain. This was roughly in line with the average across all countries.

About the Study:

  • The study was led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) alongside the University of Bern within the Multi-Country Multi-City(MCC) Collaborative Research Network.
  • The researchers analysed the data from 732 locations in 43 countries around the world from 1991-2018. They calculated the contribution of human-induced climate change in increasing mortality risks due to heat.
  • However, the study was limited to the warm season, defined as the four warmest consecutive months in each location. This is to focus on heat-related mortality alone.
  • Moreover, there were limitations of the study. There is a lack of empirical data from large parts of Africa and South Asia which are known to be especially vulnerable to extreme heat deaths.
  • The study has supported the urgent need for more ambitious mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimise public health impacts of climate change.

Source: Down To Earth


DAC approves building of 6 conventional submarines under “Project-75I”

What is the News?

Defence Acquisition Council(DAC) headed by the Defence Minister has approved a Request For Proposal(RFP) for the construction of six conventional submarines under Project-75I.

About the Construction of Six Conventional Submarines:

  • The six submarines under Project-75I will be built under the strategic partnership model.
    • Strategic Partnership Model is a part of the Defence Procurement Procedure. The model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner. Indian partner will collaborate with a foreign original equipment manufacturer(OEM) to set up production facilities in the country.
  • Part of: The submarines are part of the 30-year submarine-building programme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.
  • Features: The submarines will be equipped with air-independent propulsion(AIP) systems that will enable the vessels to stay underwater for longer periods and enhance their combat capabilities.
  • The first submarine built under the project is likely to be delivered by 2030.
  • Two Indian companies shortlisted as strategic partners are Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Toubro.
  • The foreign manufacturers selected for the project are French Naval Group, German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau, Spain’s Navantia and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company.
  • Significance of this Project-75I:
    • This is the first project to be approved under the Strategic Partnership Model.
    • This would be one of the largest ‘Make in India’ projects. It will create an industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India.
    • From a strategic perspective, Project-75I will help reduce current dependence on imports and gradually ensure greater self-reliance.

About Submarine:

  • A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation underwater. It is the quietest military platform and extremely tough to detect.
  • Their main cover is their ability to move stealthily underwater and keep an eye on the enemy movement of vessels.

Source: The Hindu


“Blue finned Mahseer” now placed under Least Concern (LC) status of IUCN red list

What is the news?

Blue Finned Mahseer which was on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of endangered species has now moved to the ‘Least Concern (LC)’ status.

About Blue Finned Mahseer:

Blue-finned Mahseer

Source: The Indian Express

  • Blue Finned Mahseer is a freshwater fish. It is also known as Deccan Mahseer or Tor Khudree.
  • It is one of the sub-species of Mahseer.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern (LC)
  • Features:
    • It is a silvery-bluish coloured fish with blood-red fins or fins tipped with a bluish tinge.
    • Indicator species: Blue finned Mahseer is very sensitive to dissolved oxygen levels, water temperature and sudden climatic changes. It just cannot bear pollution.
      • Hence, it acts as an indicator of ecosystem health because its prime requirement is a clean and pure environment.
  • Diet: The fish feeds on plants, fruits, insects, shrimps and molluscs and may be grown in ponds. They are also predatory and prey on smaller mahseer.
  • Habitat: Blue Finned Mahseer is found in the Mula-Mutha River close to the Indian city of Pune, a part of the Krishna River basin. It is also found in other rivers of the Deccan Plateau.
  • The species is migratory and moves upstream during rains

Conservation Initiative by Tata power:

  • Tata Group is involved in the conservation of the blue-finned and golden mahseer for 50 years in an Artificial Lake at the Walvan Hatchery in Lonavala (near Pune), Maharashtra.
    • The company created a huge lake by damming the Indrayani River. It is at this artificial lake where Blue-Finned and Golden species of Mahseer congregate. Once the eggs hatch, they remain in the lake for 4-6 months.
    • They are then handed over to various fisheries departments across the country, who in turn introduce them to lakes and rivers in their states.
  • Hence, due to these initiatives, Blue Finned Mahseer has now been moved to the ‘least concern’ status. However, the golden mahseer is still in danger of going extinct.

Source: Indian Express


“Anti-hail guns” and their application in preventing hail storm

What is the news?

‘Anti-hail guns’, developed indigenously, will be tested by the Himachal Pradesh government to help out horticulturists who face crop damage due to hailstorms.

What are anti-hail guns?

  • An anti-hail gun is a machine that generates shock waves to disrupt the growth of hailstones in clouds.

Who has developed these anti-hail guns?

These anti-hail guns have been developed indigenously by IIT Bombay along with Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry at Nauni (Solan). They are likely to be much cheaper than the imported ones.

How do anti-hail guns prevent a hail storm?

  • Anti-hail gun comprises a tall, fixed structure somewhat resembling an inverted tower, several meters high with a long and narrow cone opening towards the sky.
  • The gun is “fired” by feeding an explosive mixture of acetylene gasair into its lower chamber. This releases a shock wave (waves that travel faster than the speed of sound, such as those produced by supersonic aircraft).
  • These shock waves supposedly stop water droplets in clouds from turning into hailstones, so that they fall simply as raindrops.

What are Hailstorms?

  • A hailstorm is an unusual weather phenomenon in which balls of ice, called hail, fall from the sky. The ice balls are nothing more than solid precipitation that forms under certain conditions.

How are Hails formed?

  • Hails are formed by cumulonimbus clouds which are generally large and dark and may cause thunder and lightning.
  • In such clouds, winds can blow up the water droplets to heights where they freeze into ice.
  • The frozen droplets begin to fall but are soon pushed back up by the winds and more droplets freeze onto them, resulting in multiple layers of ice on the hailstones.
  • This fall and rise are repeated several times, till the hailstones become too heavy and fall down.

Previous such anti-hail guns used in Himachal:

  • In 2010, the Himachal Pradesh government had imported three anti-hail guns from the United States. They were installed in the apple-growing belt of Shimla where hailstorms in summer cause severe damage to the fruit every year.
  • Two of the machines are currently functional, while the third one was rejected by local residents.
  • State horticulture department officials maintain that since the installation of the guns, hail has occurred very few times in the villages.

Source: Indian Express


What is the “Delta variant of Covid-19”?

What is the news?

As per a study carried out by INSACOG (the consortium of labs undertaking genome sequencing in India), Delta variant of Covid-19 is the primary cause of the second Covid-19 wave gripping the country presently.

What is the Delta Variant of Covid-19?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has named B.1.617.1 variant as ‘Kappa‘ and B.1.617.2 variant as ‘Delta
    • These variants are sub-lineages of B.1.617 which was detected in India in 2021.
  • This new nomenclature for the various variants of the coronavirus using Greek alphabets was introduced to simplify public discussions and also help remove the stigma from the names.
  • Moreover, WHO has also categorized the Delta variant as a Variant of Concern (VOC).

What is Variant of Concern (VOC)? 

WHO classifies a variant as a VOC when it is associated with

  • An increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology or
  • Increase in virulence (Ability to cause severe/life-threatening disease)
  • Decrease in the effectiveness of public health measures or available diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics.

Why is Delta Variant more dangerous than other variants?

  • This variant has multiple mutations that appear to give it an advantage over other strains.
  • The most important advantage is that the mutations may make the strain more transmissible.This will make the delta variant the most dangerous variant yet.
  • One study indicated that the Delta variant may be up to 50% more transmissible than the B.1.1.7 (U.K./Alpha) variant.

What is a mutation?

  • A mutation means a change in the genetic sequence of the virus.
  • In the case of Covid-19, which is a Ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus, a mutation means a change in the sequence in which its molecules are arranged.
  • A mutation in an RNA virus often happens when the virus makes a mistake while it is making copies of itself.

Source: Indian Express


Govt launched (Seniorcare Ageing Growth Engine) “SAGE Initiative and SAGE Portal”

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has launched the (Seniorcare Ageing Growth Engine) SAGE Initiative and SAGE portal for elderly persons.

About SAGE Initiative and SAGE Portal:

  • SAGE Initiative and SAGE Portal have been launched with an aim to provide “one-stop access” for elderly care. The portal will provide access to all elderly care products and services developed by credible start-ups.
  • Launched by: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJ&E)

Key Features of the Initiative:

  • Helping start-ups: The initiative aims to help startups that are interested in the field of providing services for elderly care.
    • Selection of start-ups: Start-ups will be selected by an independent screening committee of experts.
    • Basis of selection: The committee will select the startups on the basis of their innovative products and services across sectors. Such as health, housing, care centres and technological access linked to finances, food, wealth management and legal guidance.
    • Fund: A fund of up to Rs 1 crore as one-time equity will be granted to each selected start-up.
  • Ministry will act as a facilitator: After the product is made, the Ministry of Social Justice will act as a facilitator enabling the elderly to access these products.

What was the need for this initiative?

  • There has been a rise in India’s elderly population.
    • As per surveys, the share of elders as a percentage of the total population in the country is expected to increase from around 7.5% in 2001 to almost 12.5% by 2026, and surpass 19.5% by 2050.

Hence, there is an urgent need to create a more robust elder care ecosystem in India, especially in the post-COVID phase.

Source: PIB


 

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