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22.5.21 English Editorials from The Hindu ,BS

🛑Pursuing a policy of spreading the interval between two doses of vaccine, the Centre has now outlined more scenarios of second dose deferment. While lactating women are now encouraged to get vaccinated, those who have recovered from an infection ought to be getting vaccinated three months hence — the recommendation earlier was four to eight weeks. Those inoculated but who have tested positive should defer their second dose by three months after clinical recovery from COVID-19. The recommendations follow from earlier ones that advise increasing the interval from 12-16 weeks for Covishield, the more widely available vaccine. But there are two underlying principles behind these recommendations, the first being a vaccine shortage. Until early April, India had a very different scheme for its vaccination roll-out, appearing to take stock of availability as well as prioritising those at greater disease risk. It was the ferocity of the second wave that caused the government to panic and ‘free up’ vaccine supply applying a ‘to each his own’ approach. While this benefits a fraction of the privileged, it has not improved access as seen by the stagnation in daily inoculations and a fall in second dose recipient numbers.

The second principle is that the timing of the second dose for an optimal boost to the immune system is not clear. A general policy for childhood vaccines in India is a four to eight-week interval. However, clinical trials of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.K (18-55 years) showed that binding antibodies (the ones that actually block viruses) were nearly twice as high in those who got their shots 12 or more weeks apart than in doses had within six weeks. The vaccine also appeared to be more protective in those above 18 with a longer dose interval. While antibody levels are a key marker of protection, they are not the only ones. Cell-based immunity, whereby the immune system confers long-lived immunity, counts too. Given that SARS-CoV-2 has been around for less than 20 months, there is uncertainty about the duration of protection. There are also documented cases of breakthrough infections as well as deaths even after a second dose. Though they fall within expected statistical boundaries so far, it is only more inoculations from now that will shed greater clarity on the degree of protection. Put together, these recommendations do buy policy makers time to stagger doses until more vaccines become available from August. On the other hand, the toll from India’s second wave continues to surpass similar daily figures from the U.S. and Brazil. Given that many Indians have still not been exposed to the virus and newer threatening variants abound, there is no reason to be complacent that people will be protected from future waves. The aim of vaccines is to prevent severe disease and death and all policy recommendations must be geared towards that goal. There is no room for knee-jerk reactions that can compromise this objective.


1.Deferment (N)-the act of delaying something until a later time. विलंब

2.Lactating (Adj)-producing or secreting milk.

3.Inoculated (V)-treat with a vaccine to produce immunity against a disease; vaccinate. टीका लगाना

4.Free Up (Phrasal Verb)-to make something available to be used.

5.Stagnation (N)-a state of inactivity. गतिहीनता

6.Abound (V)-exist in large numbers or amounts. प्रचुर होना

7.Complacent (Adj)-satisfied with one's situation or life. आत्मतुष्ट

8.Knee-Jerk (Adj)-(of a response) automatic and unthinking.


🛑Air India servers hacked; passengers' passport, credit card data leaked

Arindam Majumder |

A major cybersecurity attack targeting Air India’s passenger service system has exposed the personal information of lakhs of passengers, including their credit card and passport details, the company said on Friday.

The breach involved personal data registered with the airline between 26th August, 2011 and 3rd February, 2021, with details that included name, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information as well as credit card data. However, the airline clarified that CVV/CVC data of the credit card holders were not stored in their data.

The incident has affected around 45 lakh data subjects across the globe.

“This is to inform that SITA PSS our data processor of the passenger service system (which is responsible for storing and processing of personal information of the passengers) had recently been subjected to a cybersecurity attack leading to personal data leak of certain passengers. This incident affected around 4,500,000 data subjects in the world," read a statement released by Air India.

The national carrier received the first information regarding the data breach on February 25, and the identity of the affected data subjects was received on March 25 and April 5.

🛑RBI's higher payout to help govt tide over revenue losses: Analysts

Press Trust of India |

After the RBI surprised the Centre with a record Rs 99,122 crore in surplus transfer for FY21, analysts said this will help the government tide over the revenue losses from lockdowns and extend more support to the pandemic hit industries and to the poor people.

In fiscal 2020, the RBI had paid only Rs 57,128 crore in dividend to the government and the finance minister had budgeted only Rs 45,000 crore from the central bank.

The higher payout followed the Bimal Jalan panel report that had set a new economic framework capital buffer for the central bank along with the contingency risk buffer at 5.5 per cent.

So far, in response to the second wave of the pandemic, the government has set aside only Rs 26,000 crore for free food distribution to 80 crore people.

Barclays India chief economist Rahul Bajoria said the upside surprise increases the spending bandwidth of the fiscally stretched government, giving it more room to provide more reliefs to alleviate the impact of the second wave of the pandemic.

The dividend payout of Rs 99,122 is 0.5 per cent of GDP, more than double of the budget estimate of Rs 45,000 crore, and has been enabled by the increased returns from the RBI's domestic assets and changes in its accounting practices -- the RBI recently allowed itself to book profits on its forex transactions from a weighted average cost perspective.

Our estimates show that this move could have helped the central bank boost yields on its foreign asset holdings. Further, increased holdings of Gsecs likely further amplified the central bank's income for the year, he said.

The record dividend payout will relieve some of the fiscal pressure on the government, providing it with more room to spend in the current fiscal. This could be particularly helpful in alleviating the impact of the second wave, Bajoria added.

Aditi Nayar, the chief economist at Icra Ratings, said this considerably higher surplus transfer will offer the government a buffer to absorb the losses in indirect tax revenue that are anticipated in May-June due to the impact of the lockdowns on the level of consumption on discretionary items and contact-intensive services.

Moreover, high commodity prices at a time when demand and pricing power are subdued will dent the margins of corporates in many sectors, compressing the growth in direct tax collections, Nayar warned and said this higher dividend will help cushion some of this revenue shock.

After this dividend payout for the accounting period of nine months ending March 2021 (July 2020-March 2021), the RBI is left with a contingency risk buffer at 5.50 per cent of its capital.

With thanks to sources

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