1. Russian Covid Vaccine: Sputnik V

Why in News

Recently, Russia became the first country to officially register a Covid-19 vaccine and declare it ready for use.

Key Points

  • The vaccine has been called Sputnik V, named after the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik-I launched by the Soviet Union
  • It is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved.
  • However, a Chinese vaccine had been cleared for ‘limited use’ before this. It is an adenovirus vector vaccine approved to be administered only on soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army.
  • The russian vaccine has outrun other Covid-19 vaccines like Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer which are still in trials.
  • India’s Covaxin has been approved for human clinical trials. Another Indian vaccine ZyCoV-D has entered phase I/II of clinical trials.
  • This vaccine has been developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with the Russia’s defence ministry.
  • The vaccine is based on the DNA of a SARS-CoV-2 type adenovirus, a common cold virus.
  • The vaccine is administered in two doses and consists of two types of a human adenovirus, each carrying an S-antigen of the new coronavirus, which enter human cells and produce an immune response.

Adenovirus Vector Vaccine :

  • In this vaccine, adenovirus is used as a tool to deliver genes or vaccine antigens to the target host tissue.
  • Adenovirus: Adenoviruses (ADVs) are DNA viruses ranging from 70-90 nanometre in size, which induce many illnesses in humans like cold, respiratory infection etc.
  • Adenoviruses are preferred for vaccines because their DNA is double stranded which makes them genetically more stable and the chances of them changing after injection are lower. Rabies vaccine is an adenovirus vaccine.
  • However, there are drawbacks of adenovirus vector vaccines like pre-existing immunity in humans, inflammatory responses etc. these vaccines might not work for

Concerns Regarding the Vaccine:

  • Experts expressed concerns over the safety and efficacy of the vaccine due to its extremely fast production and lack of published data on the vaccine.
  • Russia has only made public the results of phase-I of the clinical trials, which it claimed were successful and produced the desired immune response.
  • The human trials, which take several years in normal circumstances, have been completed in less than two months for Sputnik V.
  • The late-phase human trials are important because the vaccine’s efficacy can differ on different population groups.
  • Russia, however, has claimed that this was made possible due to the fact that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate closely resembled a vaccine for
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) disease, caused by another coronavirus, that had already been tested extensively.

Use in India:

  • Russia has claimed that around 20 countries have shown interest in the Sputnik V vaccine, including India.
  • India has also partnered with the USA for development of Covid-19 vaccine.
  • The approval for a vaccine is given by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).
  • The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), under Directorate General of Health Services ,Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.
  • Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, CDSCO is responsible for approval of Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice.
  • CDSCO can ask Russia to conduct late-phase human trials, usually both phase-2 and phase-3, on an Indian population.
  • This is the usual requirement for all vaccines developed outside of India. CDSCO can also give emergency authorisation without late-phase trials, considering the extraordinary situation.
  • The drug remdesivir was recently granted similar emergency approval to be used as a therapeutic on novel coronavirus patients.
  • However, this is unlikely as vaccines are given to a large number of people, and the risks involved are much higher.
  • There are also issues in manufacturing the vaccine as there is no agreement for its production in India right now.

Development of a vaccine

  • The general stages of the development cycle of a vaccine are:
  • Exploratory stage
  • Pre-clinical stage
  • Clinical development
  • Regulatory review and approval
  • Manufacturing and Quality control.
  • The Clinical development is a three-phase process:
  • Clinical trials in humans are classified into three phases: phase I, phase II and phase III and in certain countries formal regulatory approval is required to undertake any of these studies.
  • Many vaccines undergo Phase IV formal ongoing studies after the vaccine is approved and licensed.

 

  1. Student Entrepreneurship Programme 2.0: AIM

Why in News

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM – an initiative by the NITI Aayog) in collaboration with Dell Technologies has launched the second edition of its Student Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP 2.0) for student innovators of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs). SEP 1.0 was launched in January 2019.

Key Points

  • SEP 2.0:
  • Objective: It will allow student innovators to work closely with Dell volunteers. They will receive mentor support; prototyping and testing support; end-user feedback; intellectual property registration and patenting of ideas, processes, and products; manufacturing support; as well as the launch support of the product in the market.

Background:

  • As many as 1500 innovations were submitted in the last season of ATL Marathon (2019). ATL Marathon is a nationwide contest where students identify community challenges and create grassroots innovations and solutions within their ATLs.
  • 50 teams were selected and mentored by Atal Incubation Centres via the Student Innovator Programme 2.0.
  • Student Innovator Programme provides training on business and entrepreneurship skills to students.
  • The top 8 will take their prototypes to product through SEP 2.0.
  • SEP 1.0:
  • SEP 1.0 was a 10-month-long programme through which the top 6 teams of ATL Marathon 2017 got a chance to transform their innovative prototypes into fully functioning products, which are now available in the market.
  • ATLs:
  • Vision:
  • AIM is establishing ATLs in schools across India with a vision to cultivate one million children in India as neoteric (modern) innovators.
  • It is aimed at disrupting the Indian education system, creating a paradigm shift where children as young as 12 years of age are being introduced to the world of technology innovation.
  • Objectives: To foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
  • Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society.
  • Financial Support: AIM provides grant-in-aid of Rs. 20 Lakh to each school that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.

Features:

  • ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills.
  • Young children get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
  • CollabCAD was launched in ATL schools to provide students experience in creating and modifying 3D designs.
  • In order to foster inventiveness among students, ATL conducts different activities ranging from regional and national level competitions, exhibitions, workshops on problem solving, designing and fabrication of products, lecture series etc. at periodic intervals.

 

  1. Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung Erupted

Why in News

Recently, Mt. Sinabung, an active volcano on Indonesia’s Sumatra island has erupted. Mount Sinabung is located in Karo regency, North Sumatra.

Key Points

Mt. Sinabung:

  • It is among more than 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire. The volcano was dormant for 400 years before exploding in 2010. It exploded again in 2014 and 2016.

Ring of Fire:

  • The Ring of Fire, also referred to as the Circum-Pacific Belt, is a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent
  • It traces boundaries between several tectonic plates—including the Pacific, Cocos, Indian-Australian, Nazca, North American, and Philippine Plates.
  • 75% of Earth’s volcanoes e. more than 450 volcanoes are located along the Ring of Fire. 90% of Earth’s earthquakes occur along its path.
  • The abundance of volcanoes and earthquakes along the Ring of Fire is caused by the amount of movement of tectonic plates in the area.
  • Along much of the Ring of Fire, plates overlap at convergent boundaries called subduction zones. That is, the plate that is underneath is pushed down, or subducted, by the plate above. As rock is subducted, it melts and becomes magma. The abundance of magma so near to Earth’s surface gives rise to conditions ripe for volcanic activity.
  • A significant exception is the border between the Pacific and North American Plates. This stretch of the Ring of Fire is a transform boundary, where plates move sideways past one another. This type of boundary generates a large number of earthquakes as tension in Earth’s crust builds up and is released.

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