www.freepressjournal.in | twitter.com/fpjindia Reg. No. Mcs/048/2018-20; RNI No. 1541/1957 I M.p.c.s office Mumbai-400001 AUTOMAKERS CAUTIOUSLY FIRM UP PLANS FOR 2021 Pg 9 CORONA VACCINE: DON’T UNDERMINE FAITH IN IT RICHA CHADHA OPENS UP ABOUT STARTING PRODUCTION COMPANY WITH BEAU ALI FAZAL Pg 14 280c. 180c. Sunrise: 07:13 am Sunset: 06:14 pm Both are safe Vol. 64 No. 211 | MONDAY | JANUARY 4, 2021 | 13 Pages | EDITIONS: Mumbai*, Pune, Indore, Bhopal, E-Paper HSC board exams April, SSC in May RONALD RODRIGUES / Mumbai The board exams for the Higher Secondary Certificate and the Secondary School Certificate will be conducted in April and May 2021, respectively the state , school education minister of Maharashtra Varsha Gaikwad announced on Sunday . Gaikwad said, tentatively , HSC board exams would begin after April 15 while, SSC board exams would be conducted after May 1, 2021. This announcement was much-awaited by students who are currently preparing for board exams by attending regular online classes. CONTD. ON P6 he hard work of "T Government andthe State Team BMC is paying off. I would like to congratulate the eminent citizens of Mumbai for their outstanding cooperation & support. A big salute to all the doctors and supporting frontline workers and even media which has created a great positive awareness. We have got a grip on the virus... not just the number of cases but even the number of deaths has declines. Zero is our new target.” — BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. EDIT ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES Oxford and Bharat Biotech vaccines approved for emergency use; PM Modi hails it as a ‘Made in India’ moment Pg 8 FPJ NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI/PUNE/HYDERABAD Your eternal wait for the prick of a needle is over – a prick that may add years to your life and, more important, change your outlook towards it. Redemption lies for the suffering millions in two vaccines that have been cleared by the drugs regulator for restricted emergency use in the country . While UK-based Oxford Institute's Covishield has been developed by the Pune-based Serum Institute, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is an outcome of collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research. To that extent, both vaccines are homespun. MADE IN INDIA: Hailing it as a defining moment for the scientific community and frontline Corona warriors, PM Modi tweeted, "It would make every Indian proud that the two vaccines that have been given emergency use ap- ONLY 3 DEATHS IN CITY DIPTI SINGH Mumbai Mumbai on Sunday reported 581 new cases of coronavirus infection, even as three people succumbed to the disease, the lowest single-day fatalities in the last 246 days, according to a BMC report. Mumbai had reported five Covid-related fatalities on May 1, seven on December 9 and six on December 29. With that, the Covid-19 caseload in the Maximum city has mounted to 2,95,240 and the death toll to 11,135. India’s financial capital has been consistently report- ing less than 600 cases of coronavirus on a single day , while a total of 697 patients were discharged on Sunday , BMC's public health department's bulletin said. According to the civic data, the number of recoveries in the city has increased to 2,75,464, taking the recovery rate to 93% The city currently has only 7,771 active Covid-19 cases. Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s COVID-19 tally on Sunday jumped to 19,42,136 with the addition of 3,282 fresh cases, the state health department's bulletin said. CONTD. ON P6 proval are made in India! This shows the eagerness of our scientific community to fulfil the dream of an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, at the root of which is care and compassion." Though the decks have been cleared for a massive inoculation drive, there was no word yet on when the vaccination process will begin. Allaying all doubts and misgivings that have been reinforced by a misinformation campaign, Drug Controller General of India VG Somani said: ‘‘The vaccines are 110 per cent safe. While Covishield was found to be 70.42 per cent effective, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin is safe and provides a robust immune response. CONTD. ON P6 Cong targets shortcut to Covaxin use SANJAY JOG Mumbai The Congress party has raised serious doubts over the Drug Control General's restricted emergency use approval for Bharat Biotech's Covaxin. Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh and Sashi Tharoor have argued that the third phase of testing has not been done for Covaxin and sought an explanation from the health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. CONTD. ON P6 Drug angle being probed, now NY-eve killing at Khar: Parents not informed of teen's death for 3 hrs PRIYANKA NAVALKAR Mumbai Two days after a teen was brutally murdered by her friends at a new year party in Khar, the police are probing the drugs angle in the case. Surprisingly the vic, tim, Jhanvi Kukreja, 19, was always guiding and helping the prime suspect and best friend, Diya Padalkar, 18, and the latter had dragged the victim to the party Moreover, the other parents of the . party attendees have questioned the injuries on 22-year-old Shree Jogdhankar's body and the police too have consulted experts to ascertain the cause. A senior police officer said on condition of anonymity that the circumstantial evidence collected from the spot had revealed that Shree had hit Jhanvi on the second floor of the eight-storied Bhagwati Heights building on Khar 14th Road around 1.30am, after which the latter sustained fatal injuries. "While Jhanvi and Shree were not a couple, they were more than close friends and the girl was very possessive about him. We suspect that Jhanvi saw Shree flirting with Diya, which she didn't like. Evidence points at Jhanvi being beaten up on the second floor and then was either dragged by the hair from the second floor to the ground floor or was pushed down," the officer added. Police sources said that while alcoholic drinks were consumed at the party organized to ring in the new year, they are also ascertaining if drugs were consumed as well. The police have roped in forensic experts to flesh out this angle. The body was discovered at around 2am, when one of tenants of the building stepped out with her dog, only to find Jhanvi lying in a pool of blood. CONTD. ON P6 Stick to rules or don’t come 4th test in Brisbane in jeopardy with Queensland insisting on adherence to strict bio-bubble protocol FPJ NEWS SERVICE Sydney The Australian media on Sunday claimed that the fourth Test in Brisbane is in jeopardy as the Indians are reluctant to travel there in view of the harsh quarantine rules. The new flashpoint is Queensland, which has closed its borders to people travelling from New South Wales – the venue of the third Test in Sydney . Queensland, in all fairness, was inclined to make an exception and allow Indians to play the Test match in Brisbane, provided the team ad- heres to a bio-bubble which would make for a hard quarantine (hotel-stadium-hotel routine) of around 15 days. But with reports emerging that Indian team isn't keen on travelling to Brisbane if the players are forced to undergo quarantine, members of the Queensland government have stated that the visiting team should not enter the state if they are unwilling to adhere to the protocols that have been laid out. "If the Indians don't want to play by the rules, don't come," Queensland's Health Shadow Minister was quoted as saying by Fox Sports. Queensland's Shadow Sports Minister, too, said there's no room for ignoring the protocols and that every individual would have to go through the same drill. ROW OVER GANG OF 5: The India team is dogged by another controversy – of its five players, who are in precautionary isolation after an outing and are being investigated for alleged bio-security protocol breach by them. CONTD. ON P6 2 luxury hotels in Chennai turn Covid clusters N CHITHRA / Chennai While the overall fresh COVID-19 daily average numbers have fallen below 1,000 in Tamil Nadu, Health Department authorities have been rattled by the emergence of fresh clusters in luxury hotels in Chennai. Over the last two days, 102 persons employed in a couple of star hotels in the city have reported positive for novel coronavirus disease. In one of the five star hotels belonging to the ITC group, 85 out of 609 employees ranging from chefs to housekeeping staff tested positive in a single day . CONTD. ON P6 Aurangzeb...more sinned against than sinning LAST WORD / SAMBHAJI NAGAR A SUMIT PAUL name-game has started with the onset of New Year. This time, there's a concerted and consolidated effort to rename Aurangabad in Maharashtra as Sambhaji Nagar. In fact, hardcore Shiv Sainiks have been using the name Sambhaji Nagar in lieu of Aurangabad for nearly two decades because their party founder Bal Thackeray had 'renamed' it Sambhaji Nagar (after the name of Shivaji's son) a quarter of a century ago. Now the question is: Was Aurangzeb so bad and vicious as to be condemned as the 'Worst Mughal', to quote Indian (precisely Hin, du) historians Sacchidanand Sinha and Ishwari Prasad? In her seminal tome, 'Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court,' the Stanford Post-Doctoral researcher Audrey Truschke is of the view that Aurangzeb was the most misunderstood Mughal because his certain alleged atrocities were ampli- fied by the later-day historians, who called him a bigot of the first order and 'a humourless drybone' (to quote the late Akhilesh Mishra, the amateur but highly popular pophistorian of The Asian Age). But that doesn't mean that he was a man without flaws. As a human and that too as a supreme ruler of the subcontinent, he committed certain blood-curdling atrocities -- incarcerating his father, executing his elder brother Dara Shikoh, who was to become CONTD. ON P6 “If you get the cool breeze which is only possible when this yoga (union) takes place with the All-pervading-power, all your chakras get enlightened.” Her Holiness Mataji Nirmala Devi 'Let's hope we can vaccinate all healthcare workers, frontliners with Oxford vaccine alone' FPJ EXCLUSIVE Dr Shashank Joshi, State Covid-19 Task Force member Disclose data which was basis for nod: AIDAN SANJAY JOG / Mumbai Following the Drug Controller General India’s (DCGI) approval to Serum Institute’s Covishield, the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) has said the regulator, in the interest of transparency and public welfare, should share the rationale behind the decision along with the disclosure of the data, evidence and information reviewed by the Subject Expert Committee (SEC) and the data and analysis on the basis of which the restricted emergency use approval was granted. (AIDAN is an independent network of several non government organizations). In the case of Covaxin, the AIDAN has urged the DCGI to reconsider the recommendations of the SEC in the light of the intense concerns arising CONTD. ON P6 SANJAY JOG Mumbai In an exclusive interview with The Free Press Journal, Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the state's Covid-19 task force explains the vaccination process and speaks about its safety in the wake of the DCGI’s restrictive emergency use approval. Incidentally Dr Joshi is also a member of , the state-level coordination committee led by the Chief Secretary for the vaccination process. Q: How do you view the DCGI’s approval? A: Congratulations to Team India for having approved vaccinations for Covid-19. Let’s look at each limited drug approval from two standpoints - one is safety and the second is public health implications in a pandemic. The Serum Institute Oxford vaccine (biosimilar made by transfer of technology) is a chimpanzee-adenovector platform. There is Global Phase 3 in place in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and the USA. Indian Phases 2 and 3 are ongoing, with a limited number of 1,600. Immunogenicity data has been submitted. It has been given approval for emergency use while the clinical trials continue in India. As for the Bharat Biotech-ICMR Phase 2 data, it is public domain under peer review. In Phase 3, 15,000 patients’ interim data has been presented to the subject expert committee, based on which limited research mode emergency use approval has been granted. The vaccine is safe and also effective against the mutant strain. In the case of the Zydus Cadila DNA vaccine, Phase 2 is over while Phase 3 has commenced. DRL Sputnik is an ongoing adenovector, while Pfizer did not appear before SEC for reasons best known to them. Covishield and Covaxin have efficacies of more than 50 per cent and storage condition cold chains are economical. Safety data is possibly best in inactivated virion, followed by the chimpanzee adenovector. Possibly due to the pandemic, a decision was taken to fast-track an already fast-tracked process, to make it available for the population. Q: Are Covishield and Covaxin safe? A: Yes. Q: Are they effective? A: More than 50 per cent effectiveness meets the global regulatory requirement. Q: Do they need vigilance and research modes? A: Yes, it's already in place. Q: Is more data needed? A: Yes, it has to continue and be published in peer-reviewed journals. As I understand, Oxford will be ready and out for use. Bharat Biotech use will still be in research mode in an open-label way Cadila will be in pure . Phase 3 mode. Let's hope we can vaccinate all healthcare workers and Covid frontliners with Oxford alone, as Serum Institute claims to have stockpiles of the same.