Dear Reader,

It has become clear to all of us that given the nature of the COVID-19 virus, developing a vaccine is the solution to combating the pandemic.

Our grantee The Lede examines how real the ICMR’s deadline of August 15 for developing an indigenous vaccine is and The Wire argues that it is politics rather than science that is driving its unseemly haste.

And, IndiaSpend investigates how black marketers and price-gougers have thwarted access to ‘life-saving’ drugs that Coronavirus patients require.

To find out more on India’s fight against the pandemic from our grantee newsrooms, read on.


Sunil Rajshekhar

To access previous issues, click here.

ICMR’s Logic: Vaccine Need Not Be 100% Efficient As Long As It Is Safe?

The ICMR’s unseemly effort to rush India’s ‘first indigenous coronavirus vaccine - Covaxin” through the trials, and make it available by August 15 has run into controversy. The Lede talks to the pro-vice-chancellor of the SRM University, the sole centre in Tamil Nadu for conducting human trials, and reports that only Phase 1 and 2 of the trials will be completed (largely on young individuals) by the deadline. And, even “if the vaccine is not 100% efficient”, as long it is safe, it is worth the effort.

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ICMR's Rush to Produce 'Indian Vaccine' for COVID-19 Suggests Politics is Driving Science

The Wire analyses the rigorous standards required in randomised controlled trials for vaccines, spread over months, and points to the gaps between the ICMR’s public proclamations and the reality on the ground. Seemingly, politics rather than science is driving ICMR’s rush.

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‘Life-Saving’ COVID-19 Drug In Short Supply, Prices Shoot Up

The breakdown of supply chains has made it extremely challenging for patients infected with COVID-19 to secure antiviral treatments which are being prescribed discretionarily by doctors. IndiaSpend investigates the plight of patients in securing one such drug called Tocilizumab, which is in short supply. Patients’ family members are having to deal with black marketers and price gougers since Swiss pharma major ‘Roche’ has a complete monopoly over deciding who manufactures the drug.

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COVID-19 relief didn’t reach Jan Dhan accounts of many women: Survey

A survey of over 12,000 women across 13 states in India found that inactive bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), largely due to lack of awareness, has been one of the primary reasons why more than 16 per cent of women have not been able to access the post-lockdown relief offered by the government. Down To Earth analyses the survey conducted by the National Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, in partnership with Oxfam India.

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In Posters: Menstruating in PPEs—Stories of Frontline Healthcare Workers

Feminism in India shares personal stories of frontline health workers who manage the struggles of experiencing periods in their personal protection equipment (PPE). Long hours, extreme sweat, coupled with an inability to use a washroom, adds to the woes of a female healthcare worker in a PPE. FII calls for hospitals and quarantine centers to make arrangements for the provision of menstrual hygiene supplies like sanitary napkins, tampons, and menstrual cups for health care workers.

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More from the grantees
Is PM-CARES diverting money away from nonprofits?
India Development Review analyses a report from India Data Insights to show that the PM-CARES Fund, which was launched by the Prime Minister to provide COVID-19 relief, is making life tougher for non-profits by cutting into the CSR pie.
Gomutra pills, turmeric extract, spice-mix - the Ayurvedic concoctions under trial for Covid
The Print reports that from cow-urine pills to panchgavya - a mixture of five cow products - at least 19 Ayurvedic combinations have received approval for clinical trials in India.
ज्योति केस में जनज्वार फैक्ट चैक के बाद साइकिल गर्ल के पिता ने अफवाह फैलाने पर दर्ज कराई FIR
Janjwar fact-checks a viral social media post claiming that Jyoti Kumari, the young girl from Bihar who rose to fame after cycling over 1,500 kms with her father in tow, had been raped and killed. The fact check reveals she is alive and well.
Amidst COVID-19, Who is Watching Over Children’s Data on Ed-Tech Platforms?
The nationwide lockdown and the closing down of schools has forced parents to turn to edtech platforms to make sure their children do not lose out on their lessons. But, this comes with concerns around data privacy of students. The Bastion presents a diverse set of opinions around these concerns.
How rural India is finding ways to bridge digital divide during pandemic
Without access to schools and online classes, and forced by necessity to maintain social distancing, a school in Haryana’s Jhamri village takes recourse to a jugaad to conduct classes for its students – through a loudspeaker. Asiaville reports.
School Fee Waiver Amid Lockdown: How Various High Courts Dealt With The Issue?
Live Law delves into various judgements passed by the High Courts that dealt with the issue of school fee waiver amid lockdown.
Viral photo does not show Bharat Biotech’s VP taking first dose of COVID vaccine ‘Covaxin’
Images on social media claiming to show a senior executive from vaccine maker Bharat Biotech being administered the first dose of an anti-Coronavirus vaccine was fake, Alt News reports.
Many Frontline Workers Have Been Left to Fend for Themselves in the Pandemic
The frontline medical staff are putting their lives on the line, administering care to the COVID-19 patients. But the system hasn’t even given them their very basic dues. The Wire reports on their dire situation.
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