Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare responded to questions posed by his social media interactors on the fourth episode of Sunday Samvaad. The COVID Vaccine seems to have been a dominant theme in the mind of those who chose to submit questions for the episode. He also patiently explained related topics like the use of Plasma Therapy in COVID, the eradication of TB by 2025 in light of the COVID pandemic and the opening up of India’s schools. On the questions of prioritising the distribution of vaccines, Dr. Harsh Vardhan answered that the Health Ministry is currently preparing a format in which States will submit lists of priority population groups to receive vaccine, especially health workers engaged in the management of COVID19. The list of frontline health workers will include both government as well as private sector doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitary staff, ASHA workers, surveillance officers and many other occupational categories who are involved in tracing, testing and treatment of patients. This exercise is targeted to be completed by the end of this October and the States are being closely guided to also submit details about cold chain facilities and other related infrastructure which will be required down to the block level. The Centre is also working on plans for building capacities in HR, training, supervision etc on a massive scale and roughly estimates to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses covering approximately 20-25 crore people by July 2021. He further informed that the Government is also keeping an eye on immunity data with regard to COVID-19 disease while finalizing these plans. He stated that there is a high level committee under the chairmanship of Niti Aayog Member (Health) Shri VK Paul which is drawing up the entire process. Vaccine procurement is being done centrally and each consignment will be tracked real time until delivery to ensure it reaches those who need it most. He added that these Committees are working on understanding the timelines of availability of various vaccines in the country, obtaining commitments from vaccine manufacturers to make available maximum number of doses for India inventory & supply chain management and also on prioritisation of high-risk groups. This is work in progress which will be completed by the time the vaccines are ready to ensure the swift roll-out of the immunisation program. Clearing glaring misconceptions that seem to have captured the imagination of rumour mongers in pockets of Punjab, Dr. Harsh Vardhan strongly rebutted allegations that the COVID-19 pandemic was a government conspiracy to enable organ harvesting of healthy individuals. He stated that the Government is not tied to fiscal considerations from financing agencies for implementation of the COVID-19 emergency response in light of the recent loan from the World Bank- Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank and the Asian Development Bank to the tune of Rs 15,000 Crores for managing COVID. The Minister assured another respondent that there would be no diversion or black-marketing, “Vaccines will be distributed as per pre-decided priority and in a programmed manner. To ensure transparency and accountability, details of the entire process will be shared in the coming months.” He stressed the need to prioritize health care workers and adults or those have underlying health conditions. Answering similar questions, he said that it is not possible to comment on the superiority of one vaccine over the other although he would ensure “that even if we have multiple vaccines available, they will all be safe and will elicit the requisite immune response against novel coronavirus”. He said that all vaccines that have proven to be safe, immunogenic and efficacious in clinical trials outside India need to undergo bridging studies to prove their safety and immunogenicity in the Indian population as well although these studies can be conducted with much smaller sample size and end quickly. While tackling a question on the level playing field for various clinical trials, Dr Harsh Vardhan shared that all proposed clinical trials in India are designed using set principles and are stringently reviewed by the Subject Expert Committee set up by the Drug Controller General of India. Recently, the DCGI has also formulated draft guidelines on regulatory requirements for licensure of COVID-19 vaccines in India. On a question regarding Phase 3 Clinical Trial of Russia’s “Sputnik-V” vaccine in India, Dr Harsh Vardhan clarified that the matter is still under consideration, and no decision has been taken as yet on the Phase 3 trials. Stating that adverse events developing after vaccination are common, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that adverse events after vaccination include local reactions such as pain at the injection site, mild fever and redness, anxiety-related such as palpitations, syncope or fainting and that these events are transient, self-limiting and do not affect the protective response of the vaccine. In a related question, he detailed on the ethical concerns of Human Challenge Experiments, “India is not planning to venture into such trials until the method is proven to have an established benefit as per global experience. India has robust processes in place to ensure the vaccines that successfully complete the clinical trials are safe and effective against the novel coronavirus.” “When conducted, human challenge studies should be undertaken with abundant forethought, caution, and oversight. The value of the information to be gained should clearly justify the risks to human subjects,” he added. Sharing his views on single-dose vs. double-dose vaccines, Dr Harsh Vardhan accepted that for quick control of a pandemic, it is desirable to have a single-dose vaccine. However, it is often difficult to achieve desired levels of immune protection using a single dose. He added, two-dose vaccines are suitable for attaining the desired immunogenicity as the first dose gives some immune protection, and the second dose augments it further. On the opening up of schools, he mentioned the MHA Guidelines which states students may attend school only with the written consent of parents and that attendance will not be enforced upon the students. Schools that are allowed to open will have to mandatorily follow the SOPs set by government. The Minister enumerated steps taken by the government to help senior citizens; All government and non-government hospitals have been given strict instructions to treat and test any potential corona-affected elderly on priority basis; The government’s call centers were asked to listen to the complaints of the elders seriously and to give them proper advice immediately; The Ministry of Health issued special guidelines for senior citizens detailing what to do and what not to do in the pandemic; All the Old Age Homes were instructed to take all measures to protect the elderly from Corona and deploy a Nodal Officer; CGHS beneficiaries 60 years or older were provided free medicines directly to their home. Dr. Harsh Vardhan detailed steps taken to protect hard earned gains in TB from the COVID pandemic; Advance directives were issued by the Central TB Division, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and reviewed with States/Districts to ensure continuity of TB services; Guidance for TB diagnostic labs was provided for them to remain functional during the Pandemic; Provisions were made for extended duration of drugs, door-step delivery and advisory issued on extra precaution for TB patients; New surveillance strategies were developed; TB Containment Facilities were leveraged and support provided for institutional-based screening; Awareness activities that concentrated on Infection, Prevention, and control activities were focused upon. The minister restated that notwithstanding the social determinants of TB like poverty, malnutrition, poor housing conditions, community hygiene and poor health-seeking behaviour, TB will be eliminated by 2025. Answering a question related to the festival season, the Minister quoted the Hon. Prime Minister, and stated that “Jaan hai to Jahan hai”. We can enjoy festivals only when we are healthy, he said. It is a matter for the State governments to decide on allowing puja pandals in the upcoming festive season. Maharashtra has issued an advisory for the Navratri festival under which there shall be no garba and dandiya mahotsavs in the State. Gujarat has also disallowed the garba and dandiya mahotsav this year. Dr. Harsh Vardhan used the medical parlance Prevention Fatigue to describe non-adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour, rather than complacency. “People tire out when they have to constantly take precautions. Some of them also give up taking precautions for various reasons. My message to everyone is that we must all diligently take precautions”. He urged all people to follow COVID appropriate behaviour during the festival season. He also appealed to be responsible citizens. He also urged “each and every one of you to take ownership at your own levels: personal, society, RWA, colony, and office”. To watch the fourth episode of ‘Sunday Samvaad’, please click at the following links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/drharshvardhan/status/1312659867224612864 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=3281142565296376 Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fF1Vpsn4Z2w DHV App: http://app.drharshvardhan.com/download **** Around Rs 1,082 crore paid to 41,084 farmers for procurement of paddy on MSP Cotton procurement for Kharif Marketing Season 2020-21 on MSP has also started Paddy procurement for 2020-21 has commenced across the procuring States. As on 03.10.2020, cumulative procurement of Paddy in KMS 2020-21 is 5,73,339 MT. The total number of farmers benefited are 41,084 and total MSP outflow so far, is approximately Rs 1,082.464 crore. The Procurement of seed cotton (Kapas) during Kharif Marketing Season 2020-21 has started from 1st October, 2020. As on 3-10-2020, Cotton Corporation of India has procured a cumulative quantity of 147 bales under MSP for a value of Rs.40.80 Lakh benefitting 29 farmers. *** Dr Jitendra Singh releasing Coffee Table Book titled ‘ Discovering the Heritage of Assam’, with foreword by Amitabh Bachchan and published by Penguin. Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today released a Coffee Table Book on “Discovering the Heritage of Assam”, with foreword by Amitabh Bachchan and published by Penguin. The voluminous coffee table book with pictures and photographs on glaze paper presents an absorbing compilation of heritage, faith, beliefs and traditions of different ethnic tribes and subtribes living in the largest State of the North Eastern Region. While releasing the book, Dr Jitendra Singh congratulated its author Padampani Bora, who is by profession an officer of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS-2009 batch), but has over the years established himself as an accomplished author, specializing in the subjects reflecting diverse nuances of the North Eastern Region of India. Dr Jitendra Singh said, while mostly it is suggested that North East should be brought closer to the rest of India, very few understand that actually there is much more that in fact the rest of India can learn from the North East. The book by Padampani Bora, he said, will help to understand the grand splendour and glory of the undiscovered facets of Assam. Dr Jitendra Singh suggested wide circulation of the Coffee Table Book and hoped that Bora’s creation will not only remain confined to the pages of the book but would also serve as cultural and heritage ambassador of the North East for the rest of the world. A fresh low pressure area is very likely to form over north Andaman Sea & adjoining east central Bay of Bengal around 9 October 2020 It is very likely to move north-westwards towards north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts with gradual intensification into a depression during subsequent 2-3 days Isolated heavy rainfall very likely over Odisha during 04-06 October, Jharkhand on 04, 06 & 07, over Bihar on 06 & 07, Chhattisgarh from 04 to 07 October 2020 Rainfall activity very likely to increase over Odisha and coastal Andhra Pradesh during 11th to 13th Oct, 2020 Sea condition will be rough to very rough over the areas of north Andaman Sea, East central and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal Fishermen are advised not to venture into Andaman Sea, East central and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal According to the Cyclone Warning Divisionof the India Meteorological Department (IMD): Likely formation of a Low pressure area over Andaman Sea around 9th October and itsgradual intensification into a Depression over central Bay of Bengal during subsequent 2days with likely north-westwards movement towards north Andhra Pradesh and Odishacoasts Weather Systems: A fresh low pressure area is very likely to form over north Andaman Sea & adjoiningeastcentral Bay of Bengal around 9 October 2020. It is very likely to move north-westwardstowards north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts with gradual intensification into adepression during subsequent 2-3 days. The current Low Pressure Area lies over northwest Bay of Bengal & adjoining Odisha coast.It is very likely to persist there till 5 October and become less marked thereafter. However, itsassociated cyclonic circulation is very likely to move over to south Chhattisgarh on 6th Octand remain active till 7th Oct. Warnings: (i) Rainfall warning Rainfall (over Andaman & Nicobar Islands) Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy (6.5-12 cm) to very heavy (12-20 cm) rainfall atisolated places would occur over Andaman & Nicobar Islands on 9th and 10th October. Rainfall (over Odisha, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand,Gangetic West Bengal); Under the influence of current Low Pressure Area over northwest Bay ofBengal & adjoining Odisha coast, fairly widespread to widespread rainfall very likely over Odisha,Bihar, Jharkhand, Gangetic West Bengal during next 4 days. Isolated heavy rainfall very likely overOdisha during 04-06 October, Jharkhand on 04, 06 & 07, over Bihar on 06 & 07, Chhattisgarh from04 to 07 2020. Under the influence of fresh Low Pressure Area, rainfall activity very likely toincrease over Odisha and coastal Andhra Pradesh during 11th to 13th Oct, 2020. (ii) Wind warning Squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph would prevail of north Andaman Sea, East central and adjoiningsoutheast Bay of Bengal on 9th and 10th October; 50-60 kmph over central Bay of Bengal on 10th and 11thOctober and over north Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts and adjoining North Bay of Bengal on11th October. (iii) Sea condition Sea condition will be rough to very rough over the areas of north Andaman Sea, East central and adjoiningsoutheast Bay of Bengal on 9th and 10th October; over central Bay of Bengal on 10th and 11th October andover North Bay of Bengal on 11th October. (iv) Fishermen Warning Fishermen are advised not to venture into Andaman Sea, East central and adjoining southeast Bay ofBengal on 9th and 10th October; over central Bay of Bengal on 10th and 11th October and over North Bay ofBengal on 11th October. Kindly visit http://www.rsmcnewdelhi.imd.gov.in and http://www.mausam.imd.gov.in for updates on the system Contact: Cyclone Warning Division, Office of the Director General of Meteorology, India Meteorological Department, Ministry of Earth Sciences. Phone: (91) 11-24652484, FAX: (91) 11-24643128, 24623220, E-mail:email@example.com, Website: rsmcnewdelhi.imd.gov.in Spatial rainfall distribution: Isolated: Kindly download MAUSAM APP for location specific forecast & warning, MEGHDOOT APP for Agromet advisory and DAMINI APP for Lightning Warning. *** Industry leaders to address sessions on using AI for health, education, inclusion and social empowerment on 4th and 5th day of RAISE 2020 Summit Dedicated sessions to be organised on scaling AI research to solve societal problems. Telangana’s story of using AI to address developmental challenges, AI for All, leveraging AI for learning, the future of work, infrastructure for AI-led innovation on 4th day of the Summit Dedicated sessionson leveraging AI for pandemic preparednessand role of government in AI enablement are to be organised on last day of the Summit So far, more than 45,000 stakeholders from academia, the research industry and government representatives from 133 countries have registered to participate in RAISE 2020 The RAISE-2020 Summit, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, will witness experts likeDr. Manish Gupta, Director, Google Research, Mr. Gaurav Sharma, VP, IBM India Software Labs, Mr. BhaskarGorti, President, Nokia Software, GargiDasgupta, Director, IBM Research India and CTO, IBM India, and Mr. Henri Verdier, French Ambassador for Digital Affairs, Government of France, among others, participating on October 8 and October 9.The Government of India is organizing the Global Virtual Summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI), RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020,’ from October 5-9, 2020. Mr. Gupta and Mr. Sharma will talk about scaling AI research to solve big societal problems. Mr. Gorti will elaborate on AI for All and will detail measures to make AI accessible. Ms. Dasgupta will talk about leveraging AI for pandemic preparedness, while Mr. Verdier will share his views on AI governance and creating an institutional mechanism for collaboration and innovation. On October 8, the session on scaling AI research to solve societal problems will also be attended by Professor SunitaSarawagi, Institute Chair Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay, and Mr. VivekRaghavan, Chief Product Manager and Biometric architect at Unique Identification Authority of India. Later in the day, there will be a session detailing Telangana’s story of using AI to address developmental challenges. Mr. JayeshRanjan, Principal Secretary, ITEC Department, Government of Telangana will lead the session. Ms. Sangeeta Gupta, SVP, NASSCOM, Dr. P. Anandan, CEO, Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Professor PJ Narayanan, Director, IIT Hyderabad, among others, will be in attendance. Apart from Mr. Gorti, the session on AI for All will be attended by Mr. Balendu Sharma, Localization and Accessibility Lead, Microsoft India, and Jeffery J. Rittener, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Intel. There will also be a session on leveraging AI for learning on October 8, which will be headlined by Ms. Shalini Kapoor, IBM Fellow, Director India Software Labs. Dr. Manish Kumar, MD and CEO, National Skill Development Corporation, Ms. IndraniChoudhary, Chief Learning Officer, Microsoft India, Mr. Manav Sehgal, Head – Digital Innovation, India/South Asia, Amazon, and Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF’s India representative will also attend this session. The day will also witness a fireside chat between Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO NITI Aayog and Swedish Banker and Industrialist, Mr. Marcus Wallenberg. Running in parallel to this will be a fireside chat between Ms. Rekha Menon, Chairperson and MD, Accenture, and Mr. Abhishek Singh, President & CEO, NeGD and CEO, MyGov. The summit will also witness on October 8, a session on the future of work, which will be led by Mr. Michal Rutkowski, Global Director for Social Protection and Labor, World Bank Group and Dr. carl Benedikt Frey, Director of Work at Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. Dr. R. Ramanan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission and Mr. Sridhar Vembu, Founder, ZOHO, will also attend the session. This will be followed by a session on infrastructure for AI-led innovation, which will be headlined by Ms. Deepali Khanna, MD, Asia Regional Office, Rockefeller Foundation and Mr. Jonathan Tsuen Yip Wong, Chief of Technology and Innovation, Trade, Investment and Innovation Division at United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Ms. Nivruti Rai, Country Head, Intel India, and Dr. Aloknath De, Chief Technology Officer, Samsung R&D, will address a session on collaboration and data driven research and decision making. This session will be led by a keynote address by Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology. On October 9, Dr. GargiDasgupta, Director, IBM Research India and CTO, IBM India, Mr. VikramDendi, GM, Chief Product Officer, Microsoft Health Next and Mr. Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, CIO, Apollo Hospitals, among others, will address a session on leveraging AI for pandemic preparedness. The day will also witness two fireside chats that will run in parallel. The first one will be on creating AI innovators, between Ms. Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM and Ms. Nigel Wilson, Founding Partner at Awaken AI. The second fireside chat will be between Mr. VivekWadhwa, Fellow & Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Engineering, and Mr. Amitabh kant, CEO, NITI Aayog. Professor K. Vijayraghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India, Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Mr. Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary MeitY, Dr. Neeta Verma, DG, NIC, among others will participate in a session on role of government in AI enablement. So far, more than 45,619 stakeholders from academia, the research industry and government representatives from 133 countries have registered to participate in RAISE 2020. From agriculture to fin-tech and healthcare to infrastructure, India is witnessing rapid integration of artificial intelligence across fields. India can become the AI garage of the world and contribute to inclusive development and growth through empowerment, by delivering cutting edge technological solutions. The RAISE 2020 Summit (http://raise2020.indiaai.gov.in/) will serve as a platform for discussion and consensus building to help create a data-rich environment, which will help to eventually transform lives globally.