BIRAC has announced that ZyCoV-D, the plasmid DNA vaccine designed and developed by Zydus and partially funded by the Department of Biotechnology has initiated Phase I/Phase II clinical trials in healthy subjects, making it the first indigenously developed vaccine for COVID-19 to be administered in humans in India.
About ZyCoV-D –
- In the pre-clinical phase, the vaccine was found to elicit a strong immune response in multiple animal species like mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits.
- The antibodies produced by the vaccine were able to neutralise the wild type virus in virus neutralisation assay indicating the protective potential of the vaccine candidate.
- No safety concerns were observed for the vaccine candidate in repeat dose toxicology studies by both intramuscular and intradermal routes of administration. In rabbits, up to three times the intended human dose was found to be safe, well tolerated and immunogenic.
- The platform is also known to show much improved vaccine stability and lower cold chain requirements making it easy for transportation to remotest regions of the country.
- Furthermore, the platform can be rapidly used to modify the vaccine in couple of weeks in case the virus mutates to ensure that the vaccine still elicits protection.
About National Biopharma Mission –
- It is the Industry-Academia Collaborative Mission of Department of Biotechnology (DBT) for accelerating discovery research to early development for Biopharmaceuticals approved by the Cabinet for a total cost US$ 250 million and 50% co-funded by the World Bank is being implemented at Biotechnology Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
- This program is dedicated to deliver affordable products to the nation with an aim to improve the health standards of India’s population.
- Vaccines, medical devices and diagnostics and biotherapeutics are few of its most important domains, besides, strengthening the clinical trial capacity and building technology transfer capabilities in the country.
About BIRAC –
Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Section 8, Schedule B, Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT) as an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs.
About Zydus –
Zydus Cadila is an innovative, global pharmaceutical company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of healthcare therapies, including small molecule drugs, biologic therapeutics, and vaccines.
Shrinking world population
A new analysis published in The Lancet has projected that the world population will peak much earlier than previously estimated. It projects the peak at 9.73 billion in 2064, which is 36 years earlier than the 11 billion peak projected for 2100 by last year’s UN report World Population Prospects. For 2100, the new report projects a decline to 8.79 billion from the 2064 peak.
For India, the report projects a peak population of 1.6 billion in 2048, up from 1.38 billion in 2017. By 2100, the population is projected to decline by 32% to 1.09 billion.
Why there will be a fall in population?
- The paper suggests that continued trends in female educational attainment and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow population growth.
- For a generation to exactly replace itself, the replacement-level total fertility rate (TFR) is taken to be 2.1, representing the average number of children a woman would need to have.
- In the study, the global TFR is predicted to steadily decline from 2.37 in 2017 to 1.66 in 2100. The TFR is projected to fall below 2.1 in 183 countries. In 23 countries including Japan, Thailand, Italy and Spain, it is projected to shrink by more than 50%.
Key takeaways for India –
- The total population will increase and peak just before mid-century, followed by significant declines. Similarly, the working-age population will also increase in the first half of the century, and then decline in the second half. These declines are driven by fertility rates, which will continue declining over the next few decades.
- India’s TFR was already below 2.1 in 2019. The TFR is projected to have a continue a steep decline until about 2040, reaching 1.29 in 2100.
- The number of working-age adults (20–64 years) in India is projected to fall from around 748 million in 2017 to around 578 million in 2100. However, this will be the largest working-age population in the world by 2100. In the mid-2020s, India is expected to surpass China’s workforce population (950 million in 2017, and 357 million in 2100).
- From 2017 to 2100, India is projected to rise up the list of countries with the largest GDP, from 7th to 3rd.
- India is projected to have the second largest net immigration in 2100, with an estimated half a million more people immigrating to India in 2100 than emigrating out.
- Among the 10 countries with the largest populations in 2017 or 2100, India is projected to have one of the lowest life expectancies (79.3 years in 2100, up from 69.1 in 2017).
State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 Report
SOFI 2020 Report has been released recently.
What does the report say?
- Between 8.3 crore and 13 crore people globally are likely to go hungry this year due to the economic recession triggered by COVID-19, warns the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report.
- Estimates drawn from data available till March 2020 show that almost 69 crore people went hungry in 2019 — up by 1 crore in 2018.
- The report says that five years after the world committed to end hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, we are still off track to achieve this objective by 2030.
- Asia remains home to the greatest number of undernourished (38 crore). Africa is second (25 crore), followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (4.8 crore).
- According to current estimates, in 2019, 21.3% (14.4.crore) of children under 5 years were stunted, 6.9% (4.7 crore) wasted and 5.6% (3.8 million) overweight.
- The report highlights that a healthy diet costs more than ₹143 (or $1.90/ day), which is the international poverty threshold. The number of people globally who can’t afford a healthy diet is at 300 crore people, or more than the combined population of China and India.
About SOFI Report –
- It is produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- Its first edition was brought out in 2017.
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
Indian Council of Agricultural Research has recently celebrated its 92nd foundation day.
About Indian Council of Agricultural Research –
- It is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
- It was established on 16 July 1929 and was formerly known as Imperial Council of Agricultural Research.
- It is a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
- It is headquartered at New Delhi.
- It is the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country.
Union Minister of State for Shipping has flagged off the first container ship from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram Port of Bangladesh. This has been done under the agreement on use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for movement of India’s transit cargo through Bangladesh.
- The trial runs highlight the efforts that both sides have undertaken to strengthen the connectivity between Bangladesh and the North Eastern states of India.
- It will reduce distance and time taken in transportation of goods for India and is a win-win for both the economies.
- Job creation, investment in the logistical sector, enhanced business services and revenue generation are advantages that will accrue to Bangladesh. Bangladeshi vessels and trucks will be utilised to move the Indian cargo.