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Govt launches country’s first Omicron specific mRNA booster vaccine; needle-free injection

Union minister Jitendra Singh announced the launch of GEMCOVAC-OM, India’s first mRNA-based booster vaccine specifically developed to tackle the Omicron variant.

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Govt launches country's first Omicron specific mRNA booster vaccine
(Representational Image)

New Delhi: In a significant stride towards combating the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, Union minister Jitendra Singh announced the launch of GEMCOVAC-OM, India’s first mRNA-based booster vaccine specifically developed to tackle the Omicron variant. The innovative vaccine was unveiled on Saturday and is expected to play a crucial role in the country’s ongoing vaccination drive.

GEMCOVAC-OM was created using indigenous platform technology by Gennova, with financial support from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). Recently, the vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the office of the Drug Control General of India (DCGI).

As the fifth vaccine developed under the Mission COVID Suraksha initiative by DBT and BIRAC, which falls under the Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 package, GEMCOVAC-OM represents an accelerated effort in the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

Union minister Jitendra Singh emphasized the future-ready nature of this technology platform, noting that it holds the potential for expediting the development of other vaccines in a relatively shorter timeframe. This promising feature sets the stage for advancements in India’s vaccine research and development capabilities.

A distinguishing characteristic of GEMCOVAC-OM is its thermostable nature, eliminating the requirement for ultra-cold chain infrastructure necessary for other mRNA-based vaccines currently in use. This breakthrough allows for more convenient deployment of the vaccine, as the existing supply chain infrastructure is deemed sufficient for its distribution.

Furthermore, GEMCOVAC-OM introduces a needle-free injection system that delivers the vaccine intra-dermally. This innovation not only enhances ease of administration but also demonstrates significantly higher immune responses, as observed in study participants. The vaccine’s unique method of delivery further contributes to its accessibility and effectiveness.

The clinical outcomes obtained thus far highlight the importance of variant-specific vaccines in eliciting the desired immune response. GEMCOVAC-OM’s development represents a proactive approach in addressing the specific challenges posed by the Omicron variant, marking a significant milestone in India’s fight against the evolving Covid-19 landscape.

With GEMCOVAC-OM joining the arsenal of vaccines available in India, the nation is better equipped to safeguard public health and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, particularly amidst the emergence of new variants. The launch of this indigenous mRNA-based booster vaccine represents a significant step forward in India’s ongoing efforts to combat the global pandemic.

Karnataka

Anil John Sequeira became Karnataka civil judge at the age of 25

Anil John Sequeira, aged 25, from Borimar village, Bantwal, appointed Civil Judge, Karnataka, fulfilling father’s dream.

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Anil John Sequeira became Karnataka civil judge at the age of 25
Anil John Sequeira

Anil John Sequeira, a native of Borimar village in Bantwal taluk, has achieved a remarkable milestone by securing the position of Civil Judge through direct recruitment at the age of 25. His selection among the 33 candidates for the esteemed role of Civil Judges was based on merit, as determined by the Competitive Written Examination conducted in November 2023 followed by a viva-voce interview. This announcement was made in a notification issued on Friday by the Registrar General and Secretary of the Civil Judges Recruitment Committee at the High Court of Karnataka.

Anil, an alumnus of SDM Law College, Mangaluru, expressed his joy in fulfilling his father’s aspirations. “Becoming a judge was not just my dream, but also my father’s wish for me,” shared Anil. His father, Everest Sequeira, works as an agriculturist, while his mother, Ivy Sequeira, is a homemaker. Anil, the youngest among his siblings, including his brother Ashwin and sister Ashna, proudly mentioned that he is the second individual from Borimar village to achieve this prestigious position, following in the footsteps of Manohar Poojari.

Anil’s journey to success has been marked by consistent academic excellence. He commenced his education at St. Joseph Higher Primary School in Borimar, pursued his secondary education at Karnataka High School in Mani, and completed his pre-university education at St. Philomena PU College in Puttur. Taking a hiatus from legal practice, Anil devoted two years to preparing for the examination, ultimately succeeding in his second attempt.

Prior to his appointment, Anil actively participated in the legal community as a member of the Mangalore Bar Association, where he practiced civil law alongside esteemed legal professionals such as Deepak D’Souza and Naveen S Pais. Additionally, he was involved in the Indian Catholic Youth Movement (ICYM) and served as the ICYM President of Mangalore Diocese in 2022.

Reflecting on his accomplishment, Anil hopes to inspire fellow ICYM members and emphasizes the significance of their involvement. His brother, Ashwin, highlighted the transformative impact of ICYM participation, dispelling misconceptions about its productivity and underscoring its potential to shape the future of youth.

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Karnataka

Karnataka Cricketer Hoysala Dies at 34 from Cardiac Arrest

The Aegis South Zone tournament in Bengaluru was struck by tragedy as Karnataka cricketer Hoysala K, aged 34, succumbed to a sudden cardiac arrest.

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Karnataka Cricketer Hoysala Dies at 34 from Cardiac Arrest
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The Aegis South Zone tournament in Bengaluru was struck by tragedy as Karnataka cricketer Hoysala K, aged 34, succumbed to a sudden cardiac arrest. The competition, brimming with excitement between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, took a solemn turn with the unexpected loss of this talented player.

After the intense match against Tamil Nadu, Hoysala joined his teammates for dinner when he suddenly collapsed due to a heart attack. Despite swift medical intervention on-site, including emergency treatment by attending physicians, Hoysala could not be revived. He was swiftly transported to Bowring Hospital, but tragically, doctors pronounced him deceased upon arrival. The news sent shockwaves through the cricketing fraternity, with players, supporters, and officials mourning the untimely departure of this gifted cricketer.

Dinesh Gundu Rao, Karnataka’s Minister of Health & Family Welfare, conveyed his condolences via social media, stating, “Deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Karnataka’s emerging cricketer, fast bowler K. Hoysala, during the Aegis South Zone Tournament. My heartfelt sympathies are with his family and friends during this difficult time. Instances like these underscore the imperative of health awareness, particularly regarding cardiac health.”

Hoysala K, renowned for his prowess as a fast bowler, had previously showcased his talents with teams like Bellary Tuskers and Shivamogga Lion in the Karnataka Premier League, leaving an indelible mark on the state’s cricketing scene. His sudden departure has left a palpable void within the cricketing community.

In the pivotal match against Tamil Nadu, Hoysala played a pivotal role in Karnataka’s triumph, contributing both with the bat and the ball. His thirteen runs off thirteen balls coupled with the crucial wicket of Tamil Nadu’s opener, P. Parveen Kumar, were instrumental in securing a nail-biting victory for Karnataka. Defending a modest total of 173 runs, Karnataka clinched the win by a mere run, showcasing Hoysala’s invaluable contributions to the team’s success.

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Karnataka

Karnataka Council Passes FAR Amendment Bill

Karnataka Council approves FAR Bill amidst uproar. Premium FAR capped at 0.4%, Transferable Development Rights at 0.6%.

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Karnataka Council Passes FAR Amendment Bill
(Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar | File Photo PTI )

The Legislative Council approved the bill enabling the sale and purchase of premium Floor Area Ratio (FAR) despite the BJP members staging a walkout during the session on Thursday.

Presented by Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who oversees Bengaluru City Development, the Karnataka Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Bill 2024 received passage in the Council after its prior approval in the Assembly. This legislation permits developers to augment building floors by acquiring additional FAR through a fee payment equivalent to 40% of the guidance value, as sanctioned by local planning authorities. Furthermore, the bill sanctions the sale of FAR.

According to Shivakumar, the inclusion of premium FAR provision is anticipated to augment the revenues of local planning authorities, enabling investment in developmental endeavors. The premium FAR allotment is capped at 0.4%, with Transferable Development Rights limited to 0.6%.

The bill mandates that the proceeds from premium FAR fees be allocated towards land acquisition and the enhancement of basic amenities. Presently, FAR determination hinges on factors like road width, zoning regulations, and other pertinent parameters.

Expressing concerns, BJP MLCs cautioned against potential traffic congestion arising from the proliferation of buildings due to additional FAR. They proposed referring the matter to a select House committee for comprehensive deliberation, while some members advocated for an in-depth discussion before tabling the bill.

Shivakumar defended the legislation, asserting its simplification aimed at benefiting all stakeholders and bolstering the revenues of local planning authorities. He underscored that the previous BJP administration under Basavaraj Bommai had intentions to amend this law.

“We’ve introduced certain amendments to the law. Premium FAR has been operational in Mangaluru for some time now, generating approximately Rs 3,000 crore in additional revenue over the past six years. This amendment extends the same benefit to the entire state,” remarked Shivakumar.

However, BJP members opposed the bill and subsequently staged a walkout from the Council.

In addition, the Council ratified the BBMP Property Tax Amendment Bill, which previously received approval in the Assembly.

Shivakumar elucidated that the bill aimed to rectify an oversight from the previous government, which led to substantial penalties on property owners. He highlighted that the 15th Finance Commission stipulated the release of grants contingent upon property tax aligning with the guidance value, necessitating the introduction of this amendment bill.

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