New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) Pakistan may be getting Chinese Covid vaccine shots in return for its approval of projects linked to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).In a report on vaccine diplomacy, thee EIU said that China may also seek to reward Cambodia and Laos with vaccines for their support on territorial disputes in the South China Sea. EIU said when it comes to donations, which are led by state-owned Sinopharm, the Chinese government has prioritised participants of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese authorities have not released complete data as to where vaccines have been sent, probably in an attempt to prevent comparisons among countries. News reports indicate particularly large donations have been pledged to Cambodia (1.7 mn doses) and the Philippines (1 mn). China will also provide loans for recipient countries to purchase vaccines; the Chinese government has pledged to extend a $1bn loan to Latin American and Caribbean countries for this purpose. Such donations serve several purposes. They aim to create a positive environment for future bilateral economic and political co-operation, facilitate the economic recovery of BRI countries (which are in some cases suppliers of commodities for China), and expand China's soft power through positive local media coverage, the report said. The Chinese authorities are able to pursue domestic and overseas vaccination drives in parallel because they face less urgency to vaccinate their own residents; China has consistently kept new daily cases under 200 since April 2020. China has shipped or plans to export or donate Covid-19 vaccines to a total of around 90 countries as of April 22. The number of countries that China supplies will expand if a Chinese vaccine candidate is approved by the WHO and can therefore become part of the COVAX programme. EIU said Russia and China are aiming to take advantage of a "vaccine vacuum" - a perceived failure of Western states to help in the provision of vaccines. They are also seeking to leverage resentment against Western countries, which have secured access to more than half of the global supply of vaccines this year and are prioritising immunising their own populations. China and Russia are using this situation to their own advantage by presenting themselves as the "saviours" of emerging countries, providing vaccines on an often (although not always) affordable basis to countries that would otherwise struggle to vaccinate their populations. However, China and Russia are not sending vaccines in equal numbers to all emerging countries. Some, such as Brazil, Chile, Indonesia and Mexico, will get millions of doses. Others, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will get only a few thousand vaccines, suggesting that this is more of a public relations exercise than a genuine attempt to fill an urgent need. China and Russia are focusing their efforts on regions where they are courting favours from emerging countries (for instance, Asia for China), directly competing with Western powers for influence (such as eastern Europe, and in particular the western Balkans, for both China and Russia), or where they have only a limited presence so far (as is the case for Latin America, which is traditionally within America's sphere of influence), the report said. China and Russia have been sending millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines to (mostly) developing states in recent months. Through this "vaccine diplomacy" operation, Russia and China aim to establish themselves as reliable suppliers of vaccines, strengthen their global presence, and boost their bilateral relations with the many emerging countries where Western influence is declining. China is also trying to restore its global reputation, which took a hit in the early stages of the pandemic, the report said. "Russia and China are playing a long game with vaccine diplomacy. Their intention is not only to win plaudits for fulfilling a short-term need, but to cement their influence over the long term. Both countries are establishing vaccine facilities across the world and training local workers from emerging countries, betting that such a strategy will boost their presence on the ground for decades to come," the EIU report said. In doing so, Russia and China are gaining leverage on the cheap while fulfilling commercial goals. In most cases, they are not donating vaccines, but selling them; in China's case, state-owned firms are competing with private ones for the supply of shots.Assistance in the form of vaccines will often come with economic or political strings attached. For instance, Russia started discussions with Bolivia about access to mines producing rare earth minerals and nuclear projects shortly after delivering a consignment of its Sputnik V vaccine. Vaccines may also prove to be a reward for countries that have proved to be reliable partners in the past, EIU said. --IANSsan/vd
Seoul, May 22 (IANS) As the pandemic fuels demand for online activities, tech companies here are bolstering efforts to develop ‘metaverse platforms that allow users to shift their physical experiences to a virtual space.Metaverse refers to a virtual space, often incorporating augmented reality (AR) technology, in which users interact with others through digital versions of themselves. The platforms can be found in the form of online games or social networking services.SK Telecom, the largest mobile carrier, partnered with K-pop girl group STAYC to produce digital versions of its members on its Jump AR mobile app, allowing users to take photos or videos next to the members as if they were physically there.The mobile carrier said the move is part of its K-pop metaverse project, which aims to allow fans to interact with K-pop groups using the latest AR technology, reports Yonhap news agency.The telecom operator has recently taken steps to create alternate digital realities, holding a welcoming ceremony for new students at Soon Chun Hyang University using digital avatars on its VR platform in March.Telecom operators have been at the forefront of developing the technology as they see the data-intensive platforms as killer content for their high-speed 5G networks.While South Korea commercialised 5G in April 2019, user migration from previous generation networks has been sluggish, with 5G users accounting for around 20 percent of the country's total mobile subscriptions in March.Other South Korean tech companies have also built up metaverse platforms, betting on creating an alternate digital reality, and have racked up substantial followings from the younger, tech-savvy Generation Z.Naver Z, under the country's top online portal operator Naver Corp., launched its mobile-based metaverse platform Zepeto in 2018, which has over 200 million users globally as of February.Zepeto allows users to create digital avatars based on their photos and to interact with others in a virtual world.The platform has enjoyed popularity among teenagers globally, with 80 percent of its users age 10 to 19, while 90 percent of its users are from outside South Korea.Zepeto has quickly expanded with its own virtual economy, where users can create their own digital items that can be sold online. The platform has even partnered with Gucci to offer the luxury brand's products within the virtual universe.The company has also collaborated with K-pop girl group BLACKPINK, allowing users to meet digital avatars of the group on the platform.--IANSna/
The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH has initiated a special drive to identify the patentable projects which were / are sponsored under the ‘Research and Development Component’ of Central Sector Scheme (CSS) on “Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants”. NMPB generally sponsors various R&D programs under CSS to both government as well as private organizations across the country.
Under these sponsored / financially supported research projects, NMPB so far identified three unique projects which are novel in nature and patentable. They are: (1.) Bio-production of secondary metabolites from Aegle marmelos which is commonly known as Bel (R&D/TN-04/2006-07); (2.) In vitro production of secondary metabolites from tree species of Dashmoola (10 roots used in Ayurveda) through hairy root cultures (R&D/TN-0112013-14-NMPB); and (3.) Development of anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents from Dioscoria floribunda (R&D/UP-04/2015-16). While the first two projects belong to the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB), Coimbatore, the third project was carried out by Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow. The CIMAP filed patent is titled as “A synergistic polyherbal formulation exhibiting potential cancer activity.”
The CEO-NMPB reiterated that this is just the humble beginning for NMPB’s team and will file more patents in the coming times. The Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH congratulated the NMPB team for filing three patent applications in collaboration with the partner organizations. (Source - PIB)
Washington- A total of 530,000 to 559,000 Covid-19 deaths will be reported in the US by March 13, according to the latest projections of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new forecast predicts that 8,400 to 18,500 new deaths will likely be reported in the week ending March 13, Xinhua news agency reported.
The CDC predicts that the number of newly reported Covid-19 deaths will likely decrease over the next four weeks.
Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to trend downward in the US. But the CDC warns that coronavirus variants may lead to a "rapid rise" in Covid-19 infections.
The US has recorded over 27.83 million cases with more than 491,000 related deaths as of Thursday noon, according to the real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University. (IANS)
Washington- Nearly 90,000 people in the US may die from Covid-19 in the next three weeks, according to the latest projections of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Friday's CDC forecast predicts that 16,200 to 29,600 new deaths will likely be reported in the week ending February 6, Xinhua news agency reported.
A total of 440,000 to 477,000 Covid-19 deaths will be reported by this date.
As of Saturday morning, the country, currently the worst-hit in the world, has recorded 23,520,563 confirmed Covid-19 and 391,922 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
States reported 23,259 Covid-19 deaths this week, 25 percent more than in any other week since the pandemic began, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
Arizona has the worst per-capita new case numbers in the world.
Meanwhile, more than 38,000 Americans died due to the disease in the first two weeks of the new year, said a CNN report.
According to the tracking project, in the first week of 2021, nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities reported 6,423 deaths among staff and residents and 67,271 new cases.
"This is the highest number of deaths and the second-highest weekly case number in our dataset," said a report of the tracking project.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 hospitalizations in the US has risen for 16 weeks, throughout the fall and then straight through the data disruptions around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day, said the tracking project.
Currently, nearly 129,000 people are hospitalized with the virus, according to the tracking project.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County, the most populous in the US, recorded nearly 2,000 Covid-19 deaths in one week as the disease is "running rampant".
It is estimated that more than 3 million residents in the county have been infected with the Covid-19, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The astonishing estimate, based on scientific modeling, means that one in three Los Angeles County residents have been infected with the coronavirus. (IANS)
New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stones of rural drinking water supply projects costing more than Rs 5,500 crore in Vindhyachal region of Uttar Pradesh."The region was a victim of neglect for decades after Independence. This entire area became one of scarcity even though it had resources. Despite having so many rivers, this region has been identified as the most thirsty, drought-affected region," the PM said while laying the foundation stones of the projects in Mirzapur and Sonbhadra districts through videoconference. The projects will provide tap water connections in all rural households in 2,995 villages, benefiting about 42 lakh individuals living in these districts."When a big problem of life begins to be solved, a different kind of faith starts to appear. I can see that faith, enthusiasm in you. How much sensitivity you have to water is also visible."He stressed that it has been more than a year now that the campaign to supply water to every household has begun. During this time, he added, more than 2.60 crore families have been ensured tap water supply at their homes.The Prime Minister said that the projects will ensure 'atmanirbhar villages'. Reaching out to the area residents Modi said: "Like other villages in the country, there was a huge power problem in this area too. Today, this area is becoming a world leader in solar energy." He added that Mirzapur's solar power plant is "writing a new chapter of development" there.Modi also praised UP employees for successfully implementing government schemes in the state. "Today, the way the schemes are being implemented one after another in Uttar Pradesh, the image of Uttar Pradesh, its government and its employees is changing completely," he claimed.The projects estimated to cost Rs 5,555.38 crore are planned to be completed in 24 months.--IANSabn/tsb