Where Covax, the Vast Global Vaccine Program, Went Wrong

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Dr. Seth Berkley, the chief executive of Gavi, the nonprofit at Covax’s heart, said insufficient early financing made supply shortages inevitable. When distribution problems of the type in Chad Benin emerge, Covax tries to “move those vaccines to other countries, but then to work with those countries to try to improve capacity,” he said.

Supporters critics agree that the program must improve, rapidly. As of early July, confidential Covax documents indicated that 22 nations, some with surging fatalities, reported being nearly or entirely out of doses from the program.

“The way Covax was packaged branded, African countries thought it was going to be their savior,” said Dr. Catherine Kyobutungi, who directs the African Population Health Research Center. “When it didn’t meet expectations, there was nothing else.”

In the frantic early months of 2020, health experts strategized on how to equitably inoculate the world. Covax was the answer, bringing together two Gates-funded nonprofits, Gavi the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI; the World Health Organization; UNICEF, which would lead delivery efforts. It hoped to be a major global vaccine buyer, for both rich poor nations, giving it the clout to bully vaccine makers.

But if rich nations pledged donations, they did not make obliging partners. Britain negotiated for wealthier participants to be given a choice of vaccines to purchase through Covax, creating delays, said Kate Elder, senior vaccines policy adviser for Doctors Without Borders’ Access Campaign.

Most important, rich nations became rivals in a vaccine-buying race, paying premiums to secure their own shots while slow-walking financial pledges that Covax needed to sign deals.

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Auto industry postpones Auto Expo Motor Show 2022 owing to coronavirus fear

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In a first, India’s auto industry is postponing the Auto Expo – The Motor Show 2022 in view of the pandemic the uncertainty ahead, auto industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam) said in a statement. Scheduled to be held from 2nd – 9th February 2022 at India Expo Mart in Greater Noida, the show is being postponed keeping in mind the safety of exhibitors, visitors, all stakeholders involved.


This is the first time that the industry body is postponing the bi-annual annual auto show since it started organizing it in 1986. India’s auto industry is not the only one to do so. Several marquee international auto shows have been postponed in view of the global pandemic.


“The Indian automobile Industry Siam recognises the inherent risks in organizing the Auto Expo due to the on-going Covid-19 Pandemic the apprehensions of a possible 3rd Wave. There is uncertainty around how COVID-19 would develop in the coming months at the same time organizing Auto Expo would need a lead time of preferably a year,” said Siam.


“Auto Expo, it added, is like a festival of celebration, for the industry the hosts look forward to receiving maximum people with no fear of spreading of infection. The magnitude of the risk of spread of infection is extremely high in a business-to-consumer show like an Auto Expo which is visited by large crowds maintaining social distancing would be difficult. It has therefore been decided to postpone the Auto Expo – The Motor Show for now, it said.


The exact date for the next edition of Auto Expo would be finalised later this year keeping in view the Covid situation in alignment with the OICA Calendar of global Auto shows, said Siam.

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Birla tells govt he is willing to give up promoter stake in Vodafone Idea

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Kumar Mangalam Birla has told the government he his willing to offer his stake in Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) to any state-owned or “domestic financial entity” to keep the stressed telecom company afloat.


Birla, VIL’s promoter chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, made the suggestion in a letter to union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba on June 7. VIL has a debt of around Rs 1.8 trillion, which includes deferred spectrum obligations adjusted gross revenue liabilities. Its board had last September announced a plan to raise Rs 25,000 crore but investors have not been forthcoming in the absence of government support.





Birla’s letter highlighted the need for urgent measures from the government while offering to give up control of the company. “It is with a sense of duty towards 27 crore Indians connected by VIL, I am more than willing to hover my stake in the company to any entity-public sector/government/domestic financial entity or any other that the government may consider worthy of keeping the company as a going concern,” Birla said in his letter.


Birla owns over 27 per cent stake in VIL, while Vodafone Plc holds over 44 per cent. The current market capitalisation of VIL is over Rs 24,000 crore. The two promoters have decided against infusing fresh funds in the company. Vodafone Plc has already written off all its investment in VIL following continuous


losses.


“To actively participate in the fund raising, the potential foreign investors want to see clear government intent to have a three player telecom market (consistent with its public stance) through positive actions on long-standing requests such as clarity on AGR liability, adequate moratorium on spectrum payments most importantly, a floor pricing regime above the cost of service. In the absence of definitive steps in this regard, the potential investors have understandable hesitation to invest,” Birla wrote.


Birla further said that VIL’s financial situation will drive its operations to an irretrievable point of collapse without immediate active support from the government on these three issues.


Last month the Supreme Court dismissed petitions of VIL Bharti Airtel seeking correction in alleged errors in calculating the AGR. VIL had calculated its remaining AGR dues at around Rs 21,500 crore after making a payment of Rs 7800 crore. However, the department of telecommunications concluded the company’s total AGR liability of around Rs 58,000 crore.

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Google is now offering a permanent Chromecast Stadia Controller bundle

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With Stadia becoming available on Chromecast with Google TV in June, a bundle with the streaming dongle a Stadia Controller made a lot of sense. At the time, Google offered the two at a special discount that was set to expire yesterday, but there’s good news: it’s now a permanent bundle that’s even cheaper than before, as 9To5Google reports. 

With Google’s Play Watch with Google TV Package, you can pick up Chromecast with Google TV ($50 alone) the Stadia Controller ($69) for $100, or $19 off the regular price — a bit better than the $17.25 discount offered earlier. If you prefer a hard connection, you can also get the Chromecast ethernet adapter for $10 more, for an additional $10 off.  

If you’re okay with older hardware, Google is also offering the older Chromecast Ultra in a bundle with the Stadia Controller for $80. The Chromecast Ultra is no longer sold by itself, so this is likely going to be a limited-time offer. 

With the addition of a remote, Chromecast with Google TV went from being an also-ran streaming device to one of the best out there. It’s far easier to navigate than before thanks to the new Google TV interface works with Google Assistant for voice control. The Stadia Controller, meanwhile, works seamlessly with Chromecast Google-powered TVs runs over WiFi, allowing for minimal latency.  

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Factory growth rebounded in July, hiring resumed after 15 months: PMI

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Factory activity in India bounced back in July as demsurged both at home abroad, prompting companies to create new jobs for the first time since the onset of the pandemic, a private sector survey showed on Monday.


The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, compiled by IHS Markit, jumped to 55.3 last month from 48.1 in June, well above 50-level separating growth from contraction.





“Output rose at a robust pace, with over one-third of companies noting a monthly expansion in production, amid a rebound in new business the easing of some local COVID-19 restrictions,” said Pollyanna De Lima, economics associate director at IHS Markit.


India grappled with a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections in April May but falling case numbers have allowed many restrictions to be eased.


The country is still reporting more than 40,000 cases per day, taking the total number of infections to around 31.6 million, but the economic re-opening induced higher demsales, leading to a sharp expansion in output.


New export orders grew at the fastest rate since April.


Employment rose for the first time since March 2020, breaking a 15-month chain of job shedding. However, the pace of hiring was mild, indicating a job crisis is still evident.


Growth in Asia’s third-largest economy could lose momentum, with new coronavirus variants posing the biggest risk to already weakened forecasts, while inflation was expected to rise, a recent Reuters poll showed.


A lack of raw material availability higher freight fees drove input costs higher, though the pace was at a seven-month low.


Despite higher input costs, output charges rose only slightly, suggesting companies absorbed the extra cost burden to boost sales stay competitive.


“With firms’ cost burdens continuing to rise, however, signs of spare capacity still evident, it’s too early to say that such a trend will be sustained in coming months,” added De Lima.


The Reserve Bank of India is not expected to raise interest rates until next fiscal year on predictions inflation remains within its target bof 2%-6% this year.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information commentary on developments that are of interest to you have wider political economic implications for the country the world. Your encouragement constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed updated with credible news, authoritative views incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

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