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India is known as the pharmacy of the world, but the country has also been battling the challenge of counterfeit drugs for long. While the list includes many life-saving drugs and currently fake Remdesivir and oxygen concentrators, a fake Covid-19 vaccine can dampen the efforts of governments and add to the already overwhelming healthcare system in India, says an expert.
The second wave of Coronavirus in India has had a greater impact on the country’s healthcare system. People have been running helter-skelter to get medicines, oxygen cylinders, concentrators, masks, PPE kits, and other essential life-saving things. The sudden surge in demand, unfortunately, boosted the trade of fake medicines and other essentials for Covid treatment.
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Early this month, four people were arrested in Pune for selling fake vials of Remdesivir for Rs 35,000 — a price far above the official Rs 2,000 price cap for the original medicine. Police said the men had sold at least seven vials filled with liquid paracetamol to a relative of a coronavirus patient. In Mysuru, a nurse at a private hospital was arrested for selling Remdesivir vials that had been refilled with antibiotics and saline solution. There are many such cases.
But what if the Covid vaccine gets adulterated?
“We have strong immunisation networks, however, we need to be extra vigilant in this case, as any adverse situation will have a long impact. The Covid vaccine can save a life, but a falsified vaccine will kill human beings as well erode public confidence in healthcare systems, healthcare professionals, and government agencies,” Nakul Pasricha, Chief Executive of Pharma Secure, a company that offers drug verification technology to pharmaceutical companies in India, told IANS.
“Greater risk of harm to consumers will result in greater liability for healthcare providers. Circulation of falsified or fake vaccines will add to the already overwhelming crisis that the country is facing thus hampering the efforts of our governments, healthcare organisations, and our frontline warriors,” he added.
What causes these rampant counterfeits?
“Scarcity breeds falsification and counterfeiting, that is a fact. Adding to that, the absence of anti-tampering, anti-counterfeiting and traceability measures is making their task quite easy,” Pasricha noted, adding “counterfeiters are becoming smarter, and we need to stay one step ahead of them”. Similar to global companies, measures must be taken at brand level to ensure the product supply chain integrity, safety, and security, he said.
While physical solutions, such as tamper-evident packaging, eradicate product tampering, digital solutions such as QR codes or barcodes ensure supply chain integrity along with data intelligence. At the regulator level, most of the countries in the world have anti-counterfeiting regulations for pharma and healthcare, Pasricha said.
“Protecting Covid-19 vaccines and other essential products from falsification and diversion require cutting-edge authentication and traceability solutions, public-private collaboration, and national-level support,” he said. To secure the vaccine supply chain, Pasricha recommends three steps: (a) Implementation of serialization-and-traceability authentication on product packaging; (b) Training staff at healthcare centers to differentiate genuine vaccines from falsified ones; (c) Contingency plan to alert stakeholders in case falsified products are discovered in the supply chain.
“It is high time that we must implement these regulations within India the way we have been doing while exporting vaccines and drugs for almost a decade. We have to start now, and we have the ways and means to do it,” emphasised Pasricha, who is also the President, Authentication Solution Providers’ Association (ASPA), a non-profit organisation.
Counterfeiting is also not just confined to India, but is a global problem, causing a tremendous impact on public and economic health. The World Health Organisation, in March, issued a warning about counterfeit and stolen Covid-19 vaccines being sold on the dark web. Doses of AstraZeneca, Sputnik, Sinopharm and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are being offered for prices between $500 and $750 on the dark web, according to media reports.
From about 20 dark web vendors in November 2020, the number grew to 600 in January and more than 1,200 by March this year, showed a report from the cybersecurity firm Check Point. Besides the Covid-19 jabs, vaccine passports and faked negative test papers are also being sold. While Covid-19 is a current pandemic, counterfeiting is an ongoing menace and every stakeholder’s role is important in combating it. (IANS/JC)
Over the last one-and-a-half-year, people have been vocal about both mental and physical health in relationships. Even while miles away from one another, people kept checking on the health and well-being of their loved ones. However, one issue, i.e., breast cancer has been affecting women throughout the world, and it still needs much more focus and attention.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2020 itself, there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer in the world. A report published by National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) estimates that breast cancer cases are likely to increase by nearly 20 per cent. Throughout the world, the tenth month of the year is recognized as the month of "Pink October" to raise awareness about breast cancer. The month should also be a celebration of encouraging the women in our lives to take the first step in this journey of staying in "Pink of Health". happen, an international dating app, conducted an in-app survey to understand how Indians discuss health issues like breast cancer with their partners. The survey gave a glimpse of whether health issues are impacting the life and relationships of singles.
41 per cent of users are not aware of examinations related to women's health
Forty-one per cent of users shared that they did not encourage the women in their life (mother, sister, friend, etc.) to go for checkups for issues related to health. Sixteen per cent of the respondents confessed that they did not remind women in their life to take examinations for their own health. It is important to note that regular self-examination is likely to detect breast lumps early. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. If it is detected in time, it will be cured in nine out of 10 cases.
41 per cent of users are not aware of examinations related to women's health. | Photo by Unsplash
49 per cent of users said, "Breast Cancer is not an impediment when in love"
A disease like breast cancer is likely to affect the confidence and self-esteem of women who are diagnosed with the same. With the change in the body, they might feel scared, less confident, and unloved at times. However, when questioned if breast cancer can be a deal-breaker for men, 49 per cent of them shared that it is not a problem.
When questioned if breast cancer can be a deal-breaker for men, 49 per cent of them shared that it is not a problem. | Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash
55 per cent believe talking about physical and mental health is no longer a stigma
The past year provided users with an opportunity to be open about their health issues--both mental and physical. Fifty-five per cent of users agreed that they are comfortable talking about such issues even when they still explore the relationship. Thus, establishing how the new generation is not shying away from breaking the taboo and stigmas around the notion of keeping one's health issues secret.
Fifty-five per cent of users agreed that they are comfortable talking about such issues even when they still explore the relationship. | Photo by Unsplash
40 per cent of users believe that a couple's everyday life can be affected by some health problems
A minimal headache can disrupt our whole routine for the day, so relationships are bound to be impacted by the health problems of our partner. Users shared that health issues can bring a little bit of tension and worry in the relationship with their partners. Health issues can be overwhelming for couples; thus, it becomes essential to voice your concerns to your partner. Sharing what you feel will provide you with clarity and make your partner your biggest support system. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Indians, women health, relationship, breast cancer, mental health, examinations
One of the world's largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia, announced Saturday it aims to reach "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, joining more than 100 countries in a global effort to try and curb man-made climate change.
The announcement, made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in brief scripted remarks at the start of the kingdom's first-ever Saudi Green Initiative Forum, was timed to make a splash a little more than a week before the start of the global COP26 climate conference being held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Although the kingdom will aim to reduce its emissions, Prince Mohammed said the kingdom would do so through a so-called "Carbon Circular Economy" approach. That approach focuses on still unreliable carbon capture and storage technologies over efforts to actually reduce global reliance on fossil fuels. The announcement only pertains to Saudi Arabia's efforts within its national borders and does not impact its continued aggressive investment in oil and exporting its fossil fuels to Asia and other regions.
"The transition to net zero carbon emissions will be delivered in a manner that preserves the kingdom's leading role in enhancing the security and stability of global energy markets, particularly considering the maturity and availability of technologies necessary to manage and reduce emissions," a statement by the Saudi Green Initiative forum said.
The kingdom's oil and gas exports form the backbone of its economy, despite efforts to diversify away from reliance on fossil fuels for revenue.
The global summit COP26 starting Oct. 31 will draw heads of state from across the world to try and tackle global warming and its challenges. It is being described as "the world's last best chance "to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels. The summit is expected to see a flurry of new commitments from governments and businesses to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.
Leaked documents first reported by the BBC emerged Thursday showing how Saudi Arabia and other countries, including Australia, Brazil and Japan, are apparently trying to water down an upcoming U.N. science panel report on global warming. The documents are purportedly evidence of the way in which some governments' public support for climate action is undermined by their efforts behind closed doors.
Saudi Arabia has pushed back against the recommendation that fossil fuels be urgently phased out of the energy sector. Instead, the kingdom is touting, thus enabling nations to continue burning fossil fuels by sucking the resulting emissions out of the atmosphere, according to Greenpeace, which obtained the documents.
The kingdom repeatedly seeks to have the report's authors delete references to the need to phase out fossil fuels, as well as the panel's conclusion that there is a "need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales," according to the leaked documents
Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates - another major Gulf Arab energy producer - announced it too would join the "net zero" club of nations with a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The UAE did not announce specifics on how it will reach this target but said its Ministry of Climate Change and Environment would work with the energy, economy, industry, infrastructure, transport, waste, agriculture and other sectors on the government's strategies and policies to achieve net zero by 2050.
The UAE says it is home to three of the largest solar facilities in the world and is the first country in the Middle East to deploy nuclear power. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: UAE, Oil Producer, Carbon Economy, COP26, Saudi Arabia
Apple has updated its App Store rules to allow developers to contact users directly about payments, a concession in a legal settlement with companies challenging its tightly controlled marketplace.
According to App Store rules updated Friday, developers can now contact consumers directly about alternate payment methods, bypassing Apple's commission of 15 or 30%.
They will be able to ask users for basic information, such as names and e-mail addresses, "as long as this request remains optional", said the iPhone maker.
Apple proposed the changes in August in a legal settlement with small app developers.
But the concession is unlikely to satisfy firms like "Fortnite" developer Epic Games, with which the tech giant has been grappling in a drawn-out dispute over its payments policy.
Epic launched a case aiming to break Apple's grip on the App Store, accusing the iPhone maker of operating a monopoly in its shop for digital goods or services.
In September, a judge ordered Apple to loosen control of its App Store payment options, but said Epic had failed to prove that antitrust violations had taken place.
For Epic and others, the ability to redirect users to an out-of-app payment method is not enough: it wants players to be able to pay directly without leaving the game.
Both sides have appealed.
Apple is also facing investigations from US and European authorities that accuse it of abusing its dominant position. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Apple, App store, Epic, Games