Managing the rollout: On addressing vaccine hesitancy

Nearly a fortnight after it won approval for Covaxin under ‘restricted emergency use’ conditions, Bharat Biotech has formally informed, via its website, that the vaccine is inadvisable in those with a history of allergies, fever and bleeding disorders. Those on medication or blood thinners and whose immunity has been compromised have also been told not to take the vaccine. This is along with a recommendation that the vaccine is not to be given to the pregnant or the lactating. A similar set of restrictions has been given to prospective recipients of Covishield too, the vaccine now available in greater numbers and developed by the Serum Institute of India. Ordinarily, a fact sheet as well as product insert — a note that accompanies every vial of a vaccine — is a mandatory formality. However, the context in which the two vaccines are being administered in India imbues them with magnified significance. Covaxin has been rolled out with insufficient evidence of its efficacy, or whether it

Polls apart: On Uganda under Museveni

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s 76-year-old leader who has been in power since 1986, won another five-year term in the January 14 presidential election, but the contested result has pushed the country into its worst political crisis in decades. According to Uganda’s Electoral Commission, he won nearly 59% of the vote, while his main rival, Robert Kyagulanyi, a pop musician better known by his stage name Bobi Wine, secured 34%. Mr. Wine has alleged voter fraud, which the government was quick to dismiss, while putting him and several other leaders of his National Unity Platform under house arrest. The government cracking down on the opposition is not new, but this time, there were widespread reports of state repression of Mr. Wine’s movement in the run-up to the election. He was detained several times, his rallies broken up by security personnel, and the Internet shut down and social networks blocked before the election. Mr. Museveni’s government refused to accredit election monitors from the
Editorial

In bad faith: On the ongoing farmers agitation

The NIA’s decision to summon people associated with the ongoing farmers agitation as ‘witnesses’ in a sedition case is definitely out of the ordinary, even if not entirely surprising. Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu and farmers’ leader Baldev Singh Sirsa are among 40 people it has summoned in connection with a fresh case registered on December 15, 2020 against Sikhs for Justice, a U.S.-based organisation that is banned by India. Others summoned include functionaries of Khalsa Aid, a Sikh charity that provided material support to agitating farmers, and those who organised a community kitchen for them. The insinuation of the NIA in the very act of summoning them as ‘witnesses’ follows statements by BJP leaders that linked the agitation to Khalistani separatism. Law officers of the government told the Supreme Court last week that anti-national forces that had infiltrated the protests were misleading the farmers. This portrayal of critics of a government policy as either misled and ignorant or

Editorial

Top of the heap: On India's series win against Australia

On a magical Tuesday, India’s cricketing history gained a luminous chapter even as the shadows lengthened at Brisbane’s Gabba. When Rishabh Pant’s winning four aptly concluded a tense pursuit of 328 on a nerve-wracking fifth day of the fourth Test, Ajinkya Rahane’s men seized the series at 2-1 to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. As far as role-reversals go, this was stunning in its execution and jaw-dropping in its impact. It was a verdict that seemed improbable after India’s 36, its lowest ever Test score, during the debilitating loss in the first game at Adelaide. But India progressed despite losing personnel to injuries or personal reasons. Skipper Virat Kohli took paternity leave while other regulars had to be benched following a spate of injuries. Yet, Rahane’s men persevered, right from the established Cheteshwar Pujara and R. Ashwin to the latest rookies in the squad — Shubman Gill and Washington Sundar. At various points, the experienced professional and the fresh debutant

Editorial

Whatever it takes: On govt. powers to combat vaccine hesitancy

Faith in entities is often an act of personal commitment not amenable to falsification, but trust in a scientific process can be established with confidence-building measures and full disclosure of all relevant data. Any mass campaign that involves voluntary effort on the part of the public can succeed only when transparency and open communication channels are the tools of choice. If the poor rate of uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine in most of the States in the country is any indication, the government has not taken the people of the country along, in what is a purely voluntary exercise, but one vested with great power to retard the pace of the epidemic. For instance, Tamil Nadu, a State perceived to be largely health literate, and relatively well-equipped with health infrastructure, achieved only over 16% of its targeted coverage on the launch day. On the second day of vaccination, the compliance further dropped; in some States, vaccination was suspended. A marked favouring of the

Poison and prison: On political importance of Navalny

Injecting confidence: On India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive

Update debate: On WhatsApp and privacy

Terror trail: On Pakistan action against terrorists

Final blow: On U.S. policy reversal on Cuba

Imposing a compromise: On courts and laws

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