3rd Dec, 2020

Third stimulus package for Mission Covid Suraksha

The Indian Government recently announced the third stimulus package of Rs. 900 Crore for the Mission COVID Suraksha – The Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission.

This grant will be provided to the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) for Research & Development of Indian COVID-19 vaccines.

Mission COVID Suraksha – The Indian COVID-19 Vaccine Development Mission

The COVID-19 Vaccine development Mission with end-to-end focus from preclinical development through clinical development and manufacturing and regulatory facilitation for deployment would consolidate all available and funded resources towards an accelerated product development.

Led by: Department of Biotechnology 

Implemented by: Mission Implementation Unit at Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC)

The existing activities under National Bio Pharma Mission (NBM) and Ind-CEPI Mission will provide complementary strengths to this Mission.

MARCOS being deployed in the Eastern Ladakh

MARCOS are being deployed in the Eastern Ladakh alongside the Indian Army against the Chinese military. 

They are present in the vicinity of the Pangong Tso lake where they will soon be conducting missions using boats.

The Marine Commandos are abbreviated as MARCOS and officially called the Marine Commando Force (MCF).

It is the special forces unit of the Indian Navy that is responsible for conducting special operations.

MARCOS was founded in February 1987. 

MARCOS are capable of operating in all types of environments; at sea, in air and on land.

The force has gradually acquired experience and an international reputation for professionalism. 

The MARCOS regularly undertake specialised maritime operations in Jammu and Kashmir through the Jhelum River and Wular Lake.

Migrant workers engaged in Honey Mission

Responding to the Prime Minister’s call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) engaged hundreds of migrant workers in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with its flagship scheme like Honey Mission.

The distressed migrant workers who were engaged with KVIC’s Honey Mission in Uttar Pradesh in the month of August, have reaped their first honey harvest and are awaiting a bumper yield.

Honey Mission

Aim of the Honey Mission: Creating employment for farmers, Adivasis, women and unemployed youth by roping them with beekeeping and increasing India’s honey production.

Launched by: KVIC 3 years ago

Under the Honey Mission, KVIC provides training and 10 bee boxes with live colonies to beneficiaries including farmers, beekeepers and unemployed youth. 

KVIC also runs beekeeping training programmes and courses.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) 

It is a statutory body formed in April 1957 (as per an RTI) by the Government of India, under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’. 

It is an apex organisation under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. 

Vision – To plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.

In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board.

Head office: Mumbai

Six zonal offices: Delhi, Bhopal, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati. 

US drugmaker Moderna applies for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA)

US drugmaker Moderna said it was applying for emergency use authorisation for its Covid-19 vaccine. 

In India, Serum Institute of India, which is trialling a version of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, has said it expects to seek emergency use authorisation within the next two weeks.

Vaccines, medicines, diagnostic tests and medical devices, require the approval of a regulatory authority before they can be administered. 

In India, the regulatory authority is the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

For vaccines and medicines, approval is granted after an assessment of their safety and effectiveness, based on data from trials. 

This is a long process, designed to ensure that a medicine or vaccine is absolutely safe and effective.

In emergency situations, like COVID-19, regulatory authorities around the world have developed mechanisms to grant interim approvals if there is sufficient evidence to suggest a medical product is safe and effective.

Final approval is granted only after completion of the trials and analysis of full data; until then, emergency use authorisation (EUA) allows the medicine or the vaccine to be used on the public.

Apex Committee For Implementation Of Paris Agreement (AIPA) constituted

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has constituted a high-level inter-ministerial Apex Committee for Implementation of Paris Agreement (AIPA) under the chairmanship of Secretary, MoEFCC.

Purpose: To generate a coordinated response on climate change matters that ensures India is on track towards meeting its obligations under the Paris Agreement including its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).

Senior officials from fourteen ministries will serve as Members to AIPA who will oversee the progress in implementation of India’s NDC

Key functions:

(1) Operate as a National Authority to regulate carbon markets in India under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement;

(2) Formulate guidelines for consideration of projects or activities under Article 6;

(3) Issue guidelines on carbon pricing, market mechanism, and other similar instruments that have a bearing on climate change and NDCs.

World Malaria Report, 2020 released

The World Malaria Report (WMR), 2020 was recently released by WHO. 

It indicates that India has made considerable progress in reducing its malaria burden.

India is the only high endemic country which has reported a decline of 17.6% in 2019 as compared to 2018.

The Annual Parasitic Incidence (API) reduced by 27.6% in 2018 compared to 2017 and by 18.4% in 2019 as compared to 2018. 

India has sustained API less than one since year 2012.

India has also contributed to the largest drop in cases region-wide, from approximately 20 million to about 6 million. 

The percentage drop in the malaria cases was 71.8% and deaths was 73.9% between 2000 to 2019.

India achieved a reduction of 83.34% in malaria morbidity and 92% in malaria mortality between the year 2000 and 2019, thereby achieving Goal 6 of the Millennium Development Goals (50-75% decrease in case incidence between 2000 and 2019).

States of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Madhya Pradesh disproportionately accounted for nearly 45.47% of malaria cases and 70.54% of falciparum Malaria cases in 2019. 

64% of malaria deaths were also reported from these states.

WHO has initiated the High Burden to High Impact (HBHI) initiative in 11 high malaria burden countries, including India. 

Implementation of HBHI initiative has been started in four states i.e. West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in July, 2019.

National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) was launched in India in 2016 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (2017-22) was launched by the Health Ministry in July, 2017 which laid down strategies for the next five years.


Following years of public outcry and campaigning, the “world’s loneliest elephant” embarked on a mammoth move from Pakistan to retirement in a Cambodian sanctuary.

Kaavan is dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant” after languishing alone for years in a Pakistani zoo.


Britain became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use.

It will be rolled out from early next week.

The British regulator Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) declared that the vaccine offers protection of up to 95% and is safe to be used for immunisation against Covid-19.

The American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech last month concluded phase 3 study of their mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b2, meeting all primary efficacy endpoints.

It is an RNA vaccine composed of nucleoside-modified mRNA encoding a mutated form of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, and is encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles.