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The U.N. Children’s Fund warns that COVID-19 mitigation measures are preventing the shipment of vaccines to dozens of developing countries, putting the lives of millions of children at risk.The U.N. Children’s Fund warns that COVID-19 mitigation measures are preventing the shipment of vaccines to dozens of developing countries, putting the lives of millions of children at risk. Pixabay

By Lisa Schlein

The U.N. Children’s Fund warns that COVID-19 mitigation measures are preventing the shipment of vaccines to dozens of developing countries, putting the lives of millions of children at risk.


Lockdowns and other measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus are causing a massive backlog in vaccine shipments. UNICEF reports it had procured nearly 2.5 billion doses of vaccines last year, enough for 45% of all children under age 5 in 100 countries.

But the agency says that most of these vaccines are stuck in warehouses because of the dramatic decline in commercial and charter flights due to COVID-19 restrictions. It says dozens of countries are running out of these vaccines. It says 26 countries, more than half in sub-Saharan Africa, are at particular risk.

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UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado says the skyrocketing costs of shipping the vaccines are compounding these problems. She says freight rates are 100 to 200% higher than before, and the cost of chartering a plane is exorbitant.


A boy receives a diphtheria vaccine at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen. VOA

“Countries with limited resources will struggle to pay these higher prices, leaving children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and polio. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, measles, polio and other vaccines were out of reach for 20 million children under the age of 1 every year,” Mercado said.

Health officials report most polio vaccination campaigns have been suspended, putting the decades-long polio eradication initiative at risk. Mercado told VOA it is possible to organize immunization campaigns in the midst of the pandemic.

Also Read- Why Did China Not Invite WHO for Coronavirus Investigation?

“In DRC, which you know had the worst measles outbreak last year, we had been immunizing children against measles. Of course, respecting the social distancing and safety measures that are required now,” Mercado said.

UNICEF warns disruptions in routine immunization, especially in countries with fragile health systems, could lead to outbreaks of killer diseases this year and beyond. It is appealing to governments, the private sector and airline industry to free freight space and make the cost of transporting these vaccines affordable. (VOA)


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In the Indian atomic energy sector, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)

By Venkatachari Jagannathan

Officials of the Indian space sector, both serving and retired, are of the view that the space sector's organisational structure is expected to mirror that of India's atomic energy sector.

They also said that senior officials of the Indian space agency should address the employees on what is happening in the sector and how it will pan out so that uncertainty and confusion are addressed.

In the Indian atomic energy sector, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is at the top, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is the sectoral regulator while the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (both power companies), the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd, the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd, and IREL (India) Ltd are public sector units (PSU).

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The Bhabha Atomic Energy Centre (BARC), Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) are the premier research and development (R&D) organizations and there are several DAE-aided organizations.

While the DAE is headed by a Secretary (normally from the R&D units) who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the R&D centres and PSUs are headed by different persons.

Similarly, the government that has started the space sector reforms seems to be replicating the atomic energy model, several officials told IANS.

"The Central government's moves in the space sector seems to replicate the atomic energy model," an official told IANS.

Currently, the Department of Space (DOS) is at the top and below that, comes the private sector space regulator Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with various R&D-cum-production (rockets, satellites and others) units.

The sector has two PSUs - Antrix Corporation Ltd and NewSpace India Ltd.

Unlike the atomic energy sector, the Secretary of the DOS and Chairman of the Space Commission is also the Chairman of the ISRO.

As part of the space sector reform measures, the government has set up IN-SPACe as a regulator for the private sector players.

"Ultimately there will be only one sectoral regulator. There cannot be two regulators - one for the private sector and other for the public sector. Who will be the regulator if there is a company that is floated in public-private partnership," an official asked.

"It is good that there is a separate sectoral regulator outside of the DOS and the ISRO," an official said.

The recently-formed PSU NewSpace India has been mandated to build, own satellites, rockets and also provide space based services and transfer ISRO-developed technologies to others.

ISRO Chairman and Secretary DOS K.Sivan has been saying that ISRO will focus on high end research.

As a result, the positions of Secretary, DOS and Chairman, ISRO may not be held by the same person.

"Looking forward, there are possibilities of the government coming out with a voluntary retirement scheme for ISRO officials and merging its various production centres with NewSpace to synergise its operations," a former senior official of ISRO told IANS.

"But there is one issue in this proposition. For ISRO, the production centres are also its R&D centre. Both production and R&D are interwoven. One has to see how both will be separated to be housed under ISRO and NewSpace India."

Meanwhile, the minds of ISRO officials are filled with uncertainty and confusion about their future which is linked to that of their organization.

ISRO Staff Association General Secretary G.R.Pramod had told IANS that there is "uncertainty all around about the future of about 17,300 employees of ISRO".

"The ISRO top management that includes the Chairman and the Heads of various centres should come out openly and address the employee concerns at the earliest," an official added.

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The micro-blogging platform already covers explicit instances of abusive behaviour

Twitter has announced to ban sharing of private media, such as photos and videos, without permission from the individuals that are shown in those images.

The micro-blogging platform already covers explicit instances of abusive behaviour under its policies, the expansion of the policy will allow the platform to take action on media that is shared without any explicit abusive content, provided it's posted without the consent of the person depicted.

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"Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person's privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm," Twitter said in a blog post late on Tuesday.

"The misuse of private media can affect everyone, but can have a disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities. When we receive a report that a Tweet contains unauthorised private media, we will now take action in line with our range of enforcement options," the company informed.

Under the existing policy, publishing other people's private information, such as phone numbers, addresses, and IDs, is already not allowed on Twitter.

This includes threatening to expose private information or incentivising others to do so.

"There are growing concerns about the misuse of media and information that is not available elsewhere online as a tool to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of individuals," Twitter said.

When Twitter is notified by individuals depicted, or by an authorised representative, that they did not consent to having their private image or video shared, it removes it.

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India's IT spending is expected to reach $101.8 billion in 2022, up 7% from the previous year.

Driven by a surge in digital transformation owing to the pandemic, the IT spending in India is forecast to total $101.8 billion in 2022, an increase of 7 per cent from 2021, global market research firm Gartner said on Wednesday.

In 2022, all segments of IT spending in India are expected to grow, with software emerging as the highest growing segment.

Spending on software is forecast to total $10.5 billion in 2022, up 14.4 per cent from 2021.

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While experiencing a slower growth rate than 2021, spending on software in 2022 is forecast to be nearly double of what it was pre-pandemic.

"India has experienced one of the fastest recoveries despite being one of the worst hit regions in the second wave of the pandemic in early 2021," said Arup Roy, research vice president at Gartner.

As hybrid work adoption increases in the country, there will be an uptick in spending on devices in 2022, reaching $44 billion, an increase of 7.5 per cent from 2021.

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