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Wednesday, 13-01-2021

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Today, the Centre was schooled. The farm laws it passed, stayed. “We are going to stay the implementation of the three farmer legislations. Stay till further orders,” said Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. And that was that.

A new committee will now look into farmers' grievances against the laws. “We are forming a committee so that we have a clearer picture. We don't want to hear arguments that farmers will not go to the committee. We are looking to solve the problem. If you (farmers) want to agitate indefinitely, you can do so.” The four members of the committee are Pramod Kumar Joshi of International Food Policy Research Institute, agriculture economist Ashok Gulati, Bhupinder Singh Mann of Bhartiya Kisan Union and Anil Ghanwat of Shetkeri Sangathan.

“This committee will be for us. All of you people who are expected to solve the issue will go before this committee. It will not pass an order or punish you, it will only submit a report to us... The committee is part of the judicial process in this case. We are planning to suspend the laws but not indefinitely,” Justice Bobde said.

And what about the protesting farmers? The Court has issued notice to farmer associations on the Delhi Police application seeking to stop the proposed tractor rally on Republic Day by protesting farmers. When Attorney General KK Venugopal said if farmers are allowed to enter the city, then no one can say where they will go. “The police are with you (government)... Entry to the city will be a decision of the police,” said the CJI.

The farmers are adamant. They plan to continue with their protests.

On the vaccine front, the first consignment of Covishield vaccines was rolled out of the Serum Institute of India facility in Pune early on Tuesday and reached Delhi, Chennai and Ahemdabad in Gujarat a few hours later, setting in the process a massive pan-India inoculation drive against Covid-19 that begins on January 16.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the regulators are looking at four more Covid-19 vaccines. Among these are the vaccines developed by Zydus Cadila, Russia's Sputnik-V, Biological E and Gennova.

Zydus Cadila completed the Phase 2 clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine in December of last year and has been granted approval for Phase 3. Similarly, the Phase 2 clinical trials of Russia's Sputnik-V Covid-19 vaccine have also concluded and Phase 3 trials are being carried out by its Indian partner Dr Reddy's Laboratories.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India), Adar Poonawalla on Tuesday said his firm has decided to sell the first 100 million doses of Covishield vaccine at a special price to the Indian government. Poonawalla said SII will be selling these 100 million doses at Rs 200 per dose, following the government's request.

However, following this, the Serum Institute of India will sell the vaccine at Rs 1,000 per dose to private players. “We have given a special price of Rs 200 for the first 100 million doses only to the Government of India on their request that we want to support the common man, vulnerable, poor and healthcare workers. After that, we'll be selling it at Rs 1,000 in private markets,” Adar Poonawalla said.

Now, the Covid scare that wasn’t! London Olympic bronze medalist Saina Nehwal will be allowed to play at Thailand Open 2021 from Wednesday. The Badminton World Federation said on Tuesday that the Indian shuttler had tested positive for Covid-19 and was asked to be in isolation for 10 days at a Bangkok hospital.

However, the Badminton Association of India said that Saina's positive Covid-19 test in the third round of mandatory testing done on January 11 was false and she should be allowed to open her campaign on Wednesday. That’s a relief.

With that, it’s a wrap.

See you soon.

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