WHO: India's 4.7 Million Excess Deaths Account For Nearly One-Third of the Global COVID Death Toll

The World Health Organization estimates that India had 4.730 million COVID19-related  deaths in 2020-21, nearly a third of 15 million global excess deaths attributed to the pandemic. India is followed by Russia with 1.073 million deaths and Indonesia with 1.03 million deaths. The United States with 933,795 deaths and Brazil with 681,219 deaths round out the top 5 countries that suffered the heaviest losses of life believed to be related to the pandemic. Mexico (625,923 deaths), Peru (289,654 deaths), Turkey (264,279 deaths) Egypt (251,635 deaths) and South Africa (238,893 deaths) are ranked number 6 through 10 in the world for excess deaths in 2020-21 period. Although Pakistan too had 8 times the official figure, it still does not figure in WHO's top 10 list for total number of COVID deaths. 

Total Excess Deaths Recorded During the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020-21. Source: WHO

Excess deaths measure how many more people died than expected compared with previous years. Although it is difficult to say with certainty how many of these deaths were due to Covid, they can be considered a measure of the scale and toll of the pandemic, according to the BBC. 

Although the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi disputes the WHO estimates, the scenes of desperation and death all over India, including the streets of major cities during the pandemic, offer significant anecdotal evidence to support the WHO claim. Although Pakistan too had 8 times the official figure, it still does not figure in WHO's top 10 list for total number of COVID deaths. 

List of Countries with excess deaths during COVID19 pandemic. Source: WHO

Prime Minister Modi's mishandling of the COVID19 pandemic has left a lasting effect on India's economy. Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the top decision-making body of India's Hindu right-wing RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), says that “the young generation is suffering from unemployment and the pandemic has made things even grim... We cannot turn a blind eye to unemployment. It is a crisis and it needs to be addressed.” The RSS was apparently reacting to the falling labor participation rate in India relative to Pakistan and the global averages. The RSS leadership wants the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to focus on helping small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to create jobs.  RSS likes Modi government's ‘Make in India’ initiative “but it needs to be sharpened even more and get more investment.” The resolution is titled, ‘The need to promote work opportunities to make Bharat self-reliant’. The solution offered by ABPS resolution: Take agro-based local initiatives to promote rural areas and create jobs, according to Ram Madhav, a member of the RSS executive committee. 

Falling Employment in India. Source: CMIE


India's labor participation rate (LPR) fell to 39.5% in March 2022, as reported by the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It dropped below the 39.9% participation rate recorded in February. It is also lower than during the second wave of Covid-19 in April-June 2021. The lowest the labor participation rate had fallen to in the second wave was in June 2021 when it fell to 39.6%. The average LPR during April-June 2021 was 40%. March 2022, with no Covid-19 wave and with much lesser restrictions on mobility, has reported a worse LPR of 39.5%.

Labor Participation Rates in India and Pakistan. Source: ILO/World Bank

In spite of the headline GDP growth figures highlighted by the Indian and world media, the fact is that it has been jobless growth. The labor participation rate (LPR) in India has been falling for more than a decade. The LPR in India has been below Pakistan's for several years, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO). 

Indian Employment Trends By Sector. Source: CMIE Via Business Standard

Construction and manufacturing sectors in India have been shedding jobs while the number of people working in agriculture has been rising, according to CMIE. Job losses have caused a hunger crisis in India which now ranks 94th among 107 nations ranked by World Hunger Index in 2020. Other South Asians have fared better: Pakistan (88), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (75), Sri Lanka (64) and Myanmar (78) – and only Afghanistan has fared worse at 99th place. The COVID19 pandemic has worsened India's hunger and malnutrition. Tens of thousands of Indian children were forced to go to sleep on an empty stomach as the daily wage workers lost their livelihood and Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the South Asian nationPakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan opted for "smart lockdown" that reduced the impact on daily wage earners. China, the place where COVID19 virus first emerged, is among 17 countries with the lowest level of hunger. 


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Comments

Anonymous said…
Why did you leave out the numbers for Pakistan from this chart?

https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/methodology-of-data-collection-questionable-pakistan-on-whos-covid-19-deaths-report/article65391460.ece
Riaz Haq said…
Anon: "Why did you leave out the numbers for Pakistan from this chart?"


Because Pakistan does not figure in the top 10 nations with highest COVID related death toll. It's way down on the list.
Riaz Haq said…
Governments have undercounted the COVID-19 death toll by millions, WHO says

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2022/05/05/1096842429/governments-have-undercounted-the-covid-19-death-toll-by-millions-the-who-says

India reported 481,000 COVID-19 deaths in 2020 and 2021. But William Msemburi, technical officer for WHO's department of data and analytics, said on Thursday that the toll is vastly higher, with 4.74 million deaths either directly or indirectly attributable to the pandemic — although Msemburi said that figure has a wide "uncertainty interval," ranging from as low as 3.3 million to as high as 6.5 million.

The data behind the staggering figures promise to expand the understanding of the pandemic's true effects. But the findings are also a flashpoint in debates over how to account for unreported coronavirus deaths. India, for instance, is rejecting WHO's findings.

India "strongly objects to use of mathematical models for projecting excess mortality estimates," the country's health ministry said on Thursday, insisting that WHO should instead rely on "authentic data" it has provided.

10 countries accounted for a large share of deaths
Deaths were not evenly distributed around the world. The WHO says about 84% of the excess deaths were concentrated in three regions: Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas.

And about 68% of the excess deaths were identified in just 10 countries. WHO listed them in alphabetical order: Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States.

Overall, WHO found the number of excess deaths was much closer to reported COVID-19 deaths in high-income countries than in lower income countries.
Riaz Haq said…
The Indian economy is being rewired. The opportunity is immense And so are the stakes

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2022/05/13/the-indian-economy-is-being-rewired-the-opportunity-is-immense

Who deserves the credit? Chance has played a big role: India did not create the Sino-American split or the cloud, but benefits from both. So has the steady accumulation of piecemeal reform over many governments. The digital-identity scheme and new national tax system were dreamed up a decade or more ago.

Mr Modi’s government has also got a lot right. It has backed the tech stack and direct welfare, and persevered with the painful task of shrinking the informal economy. It has found pragmatic fixes. Central-government purchases of solar power have kick-started renewables. Financial reforms have made it easier to float young firms and bankrupt bad ones. Mr Modi’s electoral prowess provides economic continuity. Even the opposition expects him to be in power well after the election in 2024.

The danger is that over the next decade this dominance hardens into autocracy. One risk is the bjp’s abhorrent hostility towards Muslims, which it uses to rally its political base. Companies tend to shrug this off, judging that Mr Modi can keep tensions under control and that capital flight will be limited. Yet violence and deteriorating human rights could lead to stigma that impairs India’s access to Western markets. The bjp’s desire for religious and linguistic conformity in a huge, diverse country could be destabilising. Were the party to impose Hindi as the national language, secessionist pressures would grow in some wealthy states that pay much of the taxes.

The quality of decision-making could also deteriorate. Prickly and vindictive, the government has co-opted the bureaucracy to bully the press and the courts. A botched decision to abolish bank notes in 2016 showed Mr Modi’s impulsive side. A strongman lacking checks and balances can eventually endanger not just demo cracy, but also the economy: think of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, whose bizarre views on inflation have caused a currency crisis. And, given the bjp’s ambivalence towards foreign capital, the campaign for national renewal risks regressing into protectionism. The party loves blank cheques from Silicon Valley but is wary of foreign firms competing in India. Today’s targeted subsidies could degenerate into autarky and cronyism—the tendencies that have long held India back.

Seizing the moment
For India to grow at 7% or 8% for years to come would be momentous. It would lift huge numbers of people out of poverty. It would generate a vast new market and manufacturing base for global business, and it would change the global balance of power by creating a bigger counterweight to China in Asia. Fate, inheritance and pragmatic decisions have created a new opportunity in the next decade. It is India’s and Mr Modi’s to squander. ■
Riaz Haq said…
Rajeev Matta
@RajeevMatta
India’s total debt in March 2014 was 53 lac crores. In March 2023 it will be 153 lac crores. He has added 100 lac crore in 8 years.
India’s debt to GDP ratio was 73.95% in Dec 20.
(1/n)

https://twitter.com/RajeevMatta/status/1525346057122885632?s=20&t=Zyx1zQAQBBPBZOtbnnbWNg

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Rajeev Matta
@RajeevMatta
Foreign reserves are under 600 billion dollars. The trade deficit in March 22 alone was 18.51 billion when we exported the most (an increase of 19.76%); the import too that month increased by 24.21% (they don’t highlight that).
(2/n)

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Rajeev Matta
@RajeevMatta
Besides paying for the trade deficit, the foreign reserves need to provide for 256 billion dollars of debt repayment by Sept 22. Imagine, with imports getting costlier where we will be then.
(3/n)

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Rajeev Matta
@RajeevMatta
Indian banks, specially the govt ones are making merry. In FY 21, they wrote off loans worth Rs 2.02 lac crore and since 2014, a whopping 10.7 lac crores. 75% of this is by public sector banks. We all know who all borrowed and scooted or not paying back.
(4/n)

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Rajeev Matta
@RajeevMatta
Finally, the GDP. We were going well at 8.26% in March '16 after which he punctured the tyres of the running car. Remember demonetization? We came down to 6.80 in 17; 6.53 in 18; 4.04 in 19 & -7.96 in 20. Who says pandemic and world economy are responsible for our halt?
(n/n)
Riaz Haq said…
Research article
Open Access
Published: 29 May 2020
A comparison of the Indian diet with the EAT-Lancet reference diet
Manika Sharma, Avinash Kishore, Devesh Roy & Kuhu Joshi

https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-020-08951-8

The average calorie intake/person/day in both rural (2214 kcal) and urban (2169 kcal) India is less than the reference diet (Table 1). In both rural and urban areas, people in rich households (top deciles of monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE)) consume more than 3000 kcal/day i.e. 20% more than the reference diet. Their calorie intake/person/day is almost twice as high as their poorest counterparts (households in the bottom MPCE deciles) who consume only 1645 kcals/person/day (Table 1).



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The average daily calorie consumption in India is below the recommended 2503 kcal/capita/day across all groups compared, except for the richest 5% of the population. Calorie share of whole grains is significantly higher than the EAT-Lancet recommendations while those of fruits, vegetables, legumes, meat, fish and eggs are significantly lower. The share of calories from protein sources is only 6–8% in India compared to 29% in the reference diet. The imbalance is highest for the households in the lowest decile of consumption expenditure, but even the richest households in India do not consume adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables and non-cereal proteins in their diets. An average Indian household consumes more calories from processed foods than fruits.

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The EAT-Lancet reference diet is made up of 8 food groups - whole grains, tubers and starchy vegetables, fruits, other vegetables, dairy foods, protein sources, added fats, and added sugars. Caloric intake (kcal/day) limits for each food group are given and add up to a 2500 kcal daily diet [7]. We compare the proportional calorie (daily per capita) shares of the food groups in the reference diet with similar food groups in Indian Diets.
Riaz Haq said…
Our total consumption of wheat and atta is about 125kg per capita per year. Our per person per day calorie intake has risen from about 2,078 in 1949-50 to 2,400 in 2001-02 and 2,580 in 2020-21

By Riaz Riazuddin former deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan.


https://www.dawn.com/news/1659441/consumption-habits-inflation

As households move to upper-income brackets, the share of spending on food consumption falls. This is known as Engel’s law. Empirical proof of this relationship is visible in the falling share of food from about 48pc in 2001-02 for the average household. This is an obvious indication that the real incomes of households have risen steadily since then, and inflation has not eaten up the entire rise in nominal incomes. Inflation seldom outpaces the rise in nominal incomes.

Coming back to eating habits, our main food spending is on milk. Of the total spending on food, about 25pc was spent on milk (fresh, packed and dry) in 2018-19, up from nearly 17pc in 2001-01. This is a good sign as milk is the most nourishing of all food items. This behaviour (largest spending on milk) holds worldwide. The direct consumption of milk by our households was about seven kilograms per month, or 84kg per year. Total milk consumption per capita is much higher because we also eat ice cream, halwa, jalebi, gulab jamun and whatnot bought from the market. The milk used in them is consumed indirectly. Our total per person per year consumption of milk was 168kg in 2018-19. This has risen from about 150kg in 2000-01. It was 107kg in 1949-50 showing considerable improvement since then.

Since milk is the single largest contributor in expenditure, its contribution to inflation should be very high. Thanks to milk price behaviour, it is seldom in the news as opposed to sugar and wheat, whose price trend, besides hurting the poor is also exploited for gaining political mileage. According to PBS, milk prices have risen from Rs82.50 per litre in October 2018 to Rs104.32 in October 2021. This is a three-year rise of 26.4pc, or per annum rise of 8.1pc. Another blessing related to milk is that the year-to-year variation in its prices is much lower than that of other food items. The three-year rise in CPI is about 30pc, or an average of 9.7pc per year till last month. Clearly, milk prices have contributed to containing inflation to a single digit during this period.

Next to milk is wheat and atta which constitute about 11.2pc of the monthly food expenditure — less than half of milk. Wheat and atta are our staple food and their direct consumption by the average household is 7kg per capita (84kg per capita per year). As we also eat naan from the tandoors, bread from bakeries etc, our indirect consumption of wheat and atta is 41kg per capita. Our total consumption of wheat and atta is about 125kg per capita per year. Our per person per day calorie intake has risen from about 2,078 in 1949-50 to 2,400 in 2001-02 and 2,580 in 2020-21. The per capita per day protein intake in grams increased from 63 to 67 to about 75 during these years. Does this indicate better health? To answer this, let us look at how we devour ghee and sugar. Also remember that each person requires a minimum of 2,100 calories and 60g of protein per day.

Undoubtedly, ghee, cooking oil and sugar have a special place in our culture. We are familiar with Urdu idioms mentioning ghee and shakkar. Two relate to our eating habits. We greet good news by saying ‘Aap kay munh may ghee shakkar’, which literally means that may your mouth be filled with ghee and sugar. We envy the fortune of others by saying ‘Panchon oonglian ghee mei’ (all five fingers immersed in ghee, or having the best of both worlds). These sayings reflect not only our eating trends, but also the inflation burden of the rising prices of these three items — ghee, cooking oil and sugar. Recall any wedding dinner. Ghee is floating in our plates.
Riaz Haq said…
#India taught the world the art of collecting #data. Now the country is staring at a credibility crisis with data - from #Covid deaths to #jobs to #GDP. The Economist recently warned that the country's "statistical infrastructure is crumbling". #Modi #BJP https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-61870699

Indian data is staring at a credibility crisis with official numbers on a range of subjects - from Covid deaths to jobs - being questioned by independent experts. But not too long ago, the country was seen as a world leader in data collection, writes author and historian Nikhil Menon.

Soon after India became independent from British rule, the country took inspiration from the Soviet Union to organise its economy - through centralised five-year plans. This made it imperative for policymakers to have access to accurate, granular information about India's economy.

Here, India faced a problem - as its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru put it, "we have no data", because of which "we function largely in the dark". Setting up a vast data infrastructure was meant to turn on the lights.

Perhaps the most transformative of the changes introduced was the National Sample Survey, which was established in 1950. It was intended to be a series of sprawling, nationwide surveys that captured information on all aspects of the economic life of citizens.

The idea behind this was that since it would be impossible (or prohibitively expensive) to collect statistics from every household across the nation, it was better to develop a robust and representative sample so that the whole could be calculated from a small fraction.

It was, according to an assessment published by the Hindustan Times newspaper in 1953, "the biggest and most comprehensive sampling inquiry ever undertaken in any country in the world".

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But today, Indian data appears to be in crisis. As the world surges into the era of "big data", India risks being left behind. The Economist recently sounded the alarm, warning that the country's "statistical infrastructure is crumbling". Official figures on issues ranging from Covid mortality to education to poverty are all increasingly distrusted by independent observers and experts - which has alarming implications for policymaking and government accountability.

What makes this especially unfortunate is that India was once a trailblazer in this field. The country would do well to take pride in that inheritance and restore its lost lustre.
Riaz Haq said…
Arnaud Bertrand
@RnaudBertrand
Wow­čś»Prof. Jeffrey Sachs:

"I chaired the commission for the Lancet for 2 years on Covid. I'm pretty convinced it came out of a US lab of biotechnology [...] We don't know for sure but there is enough evidence. [However] it's not being investigated, not in the US, not anywhere."

https://twitter.com/RnaudBertrand/status/1543259218995687424?s=20&t=0xpg8cE1A6Q0_-m81hPC6w

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Did US Biotechnology Help to Create COVID-19?
May 27, 2022
NEIL L. HARRISON
,
JEFFREY D. SACHS

https://www.project-syndicate.org/onpoint/did-us-technology-help-create-covid-19-in-china-by-neil-l-harrison-and-jeffrey-d-sachs-2022-05

While blaming China exclusively for COVID-19's apparent emergence in Wuhan, US authorities have suppressed inquiries into the role that US scientific research institutions may have played in creating the conditions for the pandemic. Yet if the coronavirus did indeed come from a lab, US culpability is almost certain.

When US President Joe Biden asked the United States Intelligence Community to determine the origin of COVID-19, its conclusion was remarkably understated but nonetheless shocking. In a one-page summary, the IC made clear that it could not rule out the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) emerged from a laboratory.

But even more shocking for Americans and the world is an additional point on which the IC remained mum: If the virus did indeed result from laboratory research and experimentation, it was almost certainly created with US biotechnology and know-how that had been made available to researchers in China.

To learn the complete truth about the origins of COVID-19, we need a full, independent investigation not only into the outbreak in Wuhan, China, but also into the relevant US scientific research, international outreach, and technology licensing in the lead-up to the pandemic.

We recently called for such an investigation in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Some might dismiss our reasons for doing so as a “conspiracy theory.” But let us be crystal clear: If the virus did emerge from a laboratory, it almost surely did so accidentally in the normal course of research, possibly going undetected via asymptomatic infection.

It is of course also still possible that the virus had a natural origin. The bottom line is that nobody knows. That is why it is so important to investigate all the relevant information contained in databases available in the US.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES
Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, the US government has pointed an accusatory finger at China. But while it is true that the first observed COVID-19 cases were in Wuhan, the full story of the outbreak could involve America’s role in researching coronaviruses and in sharing its biotechnology with others around the world, including China.
Riaz Haq said…
Did US Biotechnology Help to Create COVID-19?

https://www.project-syndicate.org/onpoint/did-us-technology-help-create-covid-19-in-china-by-neil-l-harrison-and-jeffrey-d-sachs-2022-05

US scientists who work with SARS-like coronaviruses regularly create and test dangerous novel variants with the aim of developing drugs and vaccines against them. Such “gain-of-function” research has been conducted for decades, but it has always been controversial, owing to concerns that it could result in an accidental outbreak, or that the techniques and technologies for creating new viruses could end up in the wrong hands. It is reasonable to ask whether SARS-CoV-2 owes its remarkable infectivity to this broader research effort.

Unfortunately, US authorities have sought to suppress this very question. Early in the epidemic, a small group of virologists queried by the US National Institutes of Health told the NIH leadership that SARS-CoV-2 might have arisen from laboratory research, noting that the virus has unusual features that virologists in the US have been using in experiments for years – often with support from the NIH.

How do we know what NIH officials were told, and when? Because we now have publicly available information released by the NIH in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. We know that on February 1, 2020, the NIH held a conference call with a group of top virologists to discuss the possible origin of the virus. On that call, several of the researchers pointed out that laboratory manipulation of the virus was not only possible, but according to some, even likely. At that point, the NIH should have called for an urgent independent investigation. Instead, the NIH has sought to dismiss and discredit this line of inquiry.

HEADS IN THE SAND
Within days of the February 1 call, a group of virologists, including some who were on it, prepared the first draft of a paper on the “Proximal Origin of SARS-CoV-2.” The final draft was published a month later, in March 2020. Despite the initial observations on February 1 that the virus showed signs of possible laboratory manipulation, the March paper concluded that there was overwhelming evidence that it had emerged from nature.

The authors claimed that the virus could not possibly have come from a laboratory because “the genetic data irrefutably show that SARS-CoV-2 is not derived from any previously used virus backbone.” Yet the single footnote (number 20) backing up that key claim refers to a paper from 2014, which means that the authors’ supposedly “irrefutable evidence” was at least five years out of date.

Owing to their refusal to support an independent investigation of the lab-leak hypothesis, the NIH and other US federal government agencies have been subjected to a wave of FOIA requests from a range of organizations, including US Right to Know and The Intercept. These FOIA disclosures, as well as internet searches and “whistleblower” leaks, have revealed some startling information.

Consider, for example, a March 2018 grant proposal submitted to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) by EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) and researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and the University of North Carolina (UNC). On page 11, the applicants explain in detail how they intend to alter the genetic code of bat coronaviruses to insert precisely the feature that is the most unusual part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Although DARPA did not approve this grant, the work may have proceeded anyway. We just don’t know. But, thanks to another FOIA request, we do know that this group carried out similar gain-of-function experiments on another coronavirus, the one that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Riaz Haq said…
Did US Biotechnology Help to Create COVID-19?

https://www.project-syndicate.org/onpoint/did-us-technology-help-create-covid-19-in-china-by-neil-l-harrison-and-jeffrey-d-sachs-2022-05


In yet other cases, FOIA disclosures have been heavily redacted, including a remarkable effort to obscure 290 pages of documents going back to February 2020, including the Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research drafted that April by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Such extensive redactions deeply undermine public trust in science, and have only served to invite additional urgent questions from researchers and independent investigators.

THE FACTS OF THE CASE
Here are ten things that we do know.

First, the SARS-CoV-2 genome is distinguished by a particular 12-nucleotide sequence (the genetic code) that serves to increase its infectivity. The specific amino acid sequence directed by this insertion has been much discussed and is known as a furin cleavage site (FCS).

Second, the FCS has been a target of cutting-edge research since 2006, following the original SARS outbreak of 2003-04. Scientists have long understood that the FCS holds the key to these viruses’ infectivity and pathophysiology.

Third, SARS-CoV-2 is the only virus in the family of SARS-like viruses (sarbecoviruses) known to have an FCS. Interestingly, the specific form of the FCS that is present in SARS-CoV-2 (eight amino acids encoded by 24 nucleotides) is shared with a human sodium channel that has been studied in US labs.

Fourth, the FCS was already so well known as a driver of transmissibility and virulence that a group of US scientists submitted a proposal to the US government in 2018 to study the effect of inserting an FCS into SARS-like viruses found in bats. Although the dangers of this kind of work have been highlighted for some time, these bat viruses were somehow considered to be in a lower-risk category. This exempted them from NIH gain-of-function guidelines, thereby enabling NIH-funded experiments to be carried out at the inadequate BSL-2 safety level.

Fifth, the NIH was a strong supporter of such gain-of-function research, much of which was performed using US-developed biotechnology and executed within an NIH-funded three-way partnership between the EHA, the WIV, and UNC.

Sixth, in 2018, a leading US scientist pursuing this research argued that laboratory manipulation was vital for drug and vaccine discovery, but that increased regulation could stymie progress. Many within the virology community continue to resist sensible calls for enhanced regulation of the most high-risk virus manipulation, including the establishment of a national regulatory body independent of the NIH.

Seventh, the virus was very likely circulating a lot earlier than the standard narrative that dates awareness of the outbreak to late December 2019. We still do not know when parts of the US government became aware of the outbreak, but some scientists were aware of the outbreak as of mid-December.

Eighth, the NIH knew as early as February 1, 2020, that the virus could have emerged as a consequence of NIH-funded laboratory research, but it did not disclose that fundamental fact to the public or to the US Congress.

Ninth, extensive sampling by Chinese authorities of animals in Wuhan wet markets and in the wild has found not a single wild animal harboring the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Despite this, there is no indication that the NIH has requested the laboratory records of US agencies, academic centers, and biotech companies involved in researching and manipulating SARS-like coronaviruses.

Tenth, the IC has not explained why at least some of the US intelligence agencies do in fact believe that a laboratory release was either the most likely or at least a possible origin of the virus.

Riaz Haq said…
Did US Biotechnology Help to Create COVID-19?

https://www.project-syndicate.org/onpoint/did-us-technology-help-create-covid-19-in-china-by-neil-l-harrison-and-jeffrey-d-sachs-2022-05

TIME FOR TRANSPARENCY
Given the questions that remain unanswered, we are calling on the US government to conduct a bipartisan investigation. We may never understand the origin of SARS-CoV-2 without opening the books of the relevant federal agencies (including the NIH and the Department of Defense), the laboratories they support, academic institutions that store and archive viral sequence data, and biotechnology companies.

A key objective of the investigation would be to shed light on a basic question: Did US researchers undertake research or help their Chinese counterparts to undertake research to insert an FCS into a SARS-like virus, thereby playing a possible role in the creation of novel pathogens like the one that led to the current pandemic?

Investigations into COVID-19’s origins should no longer be secretive ventures led by the IC. The process must be transparent, with all relevant information being released publicly for use by independent scientific researchers. It seems clear to us that there has been a concerted effort to suppress information regarding the earliest events in the outbreak, and to hinder the search for additional evidence that is clearly available within the US. We suggest that a panel of independent researchers in relevant disciplines be created and granted access to all pertinent data in order to advise the US Congress and the public.

There is a good chance that we can learn more about the origins of this virus without waiting on China or any other country, simply by looking in the US. We believe such an inquiry is long overdue.
Riaz Haq said…
World #SnakeDay: #India is the #Snakebite Capital of the World with one million reported snakebites every year that kill ~60,000 and leave 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh #Indians permanently disabled. There's deteriorating quality, rising costs of antivenom. #disease https://weather.com/en-IN/india/biodiversity/news/2022-07-16-world-snake-day-snakebite-a-neglected-tropical-disease-in-india

Poor waste management practices in our cities lead to a thriving rodent population, which in turn leads to a thriving population of snakes, albeit those of just commensal species such as cobras, rat snakes, Russell’s vipers and a few others. Still, the urban residents have little to fear when it comes to snakebites.

The story in rural India is vastly different — akin to two diametrically opposite ‘Indias’ within the same geographic boundary. Our country leads the world in snakebite figures, deaths from snakebite, and even cases of loss of life function.

Now, on the occasion of World Snake Day — observed annually on July 16 to increase awareness about the different species of snake all around the world — we attempt to understand the ground reality of human-snake conflict in India.

India records over 10 lakh snakebites every single year, which kill ~60,000 individuals and leave another 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh people with permanent disabilities. Studies have demonstrated that 94% of the victims are farmers, most of which belong to the most economically productive age groups.

These are staggering figures for a disease that the World Health Organisation (WHO) rightly calls a ‘Neglected Tropical Disease’. However, they are only an unfortunate fraction when compared to the number of snakes that are cruelly and brutally killed in conflict every day across the country.

One cannot help but wonder how India, one of the first countries in the world to develop antivenom over a century ago, remains frozen in time when it comes to safeguarding its citizens from snakebite. A myriad of problems surround the issue of human-snake conflict, and very few have attempted to address it, unlike the conflicts with mega-fauna such as tigers, elephants, bears and others.

Challenges that coil the human-snake conflict in India
The complexity of snakebite begins with the very fact that India, as a tropical country, is blessed with a diversity of snakes rivalled by few others. Among more than 300 species of snakes found in the country, nearly 50 are venomous, of which 18-20 are medically significant — meaning they can cause loss of life or morbidity in their victims if untreated.

Despite these many medically significant species, the lone antivenom available in India only targets the four most commonly found venomous species. This effectively ignores those parts of the country where none of these four species are found. Further, for nearly a decade now, it has been common knowledge that the venom of snakes, even within the same species, varies by region significantly enough to render the antivenom ineffective in several places.

Snake venom, produced at the lone source in the country, has been severely critiqued for its deteriorating quality and increasing costs by the antivenom manufacturers. In turn, herpetologists and venom research scientists have long been urging the pharmaceuticals to upgrade their own processes for the manufacture of antivenom, which will need significantly lower quantities of venom and at least addresses the issue of costs of venom.

Beyond all of these issues, the major hurdle at the hospital stage for the victim, is the lack of availability of antivenom, and the fact that snakebite is a medico-legal case which hoists far more bureaucratic hoops for a victim and their family to jump through. If one were to bypass these hurdles still, they are often faced with a medical fraternity that is so poorly equipped to treat snakebites that victims are often shuttled between hospitals, only for several to succumb in transit.
Riaz Haq said…
#India confirms #Asia's first #monkeypox death. The 22-year-old #Indian man died on Saturday in #Kerala. It's only the fourth known fatality in the world from the disease in the current outbreak. #Modi #Disease #BJP #Hindutva #Health https://www.reuters.com/world/india/india-confirms-its-first-monkeypox-death-2022-08-01/


India confirmed its first monkeypox death on Monday, a young man in the southern state of Kerala, in what is only the fourth known fatality from the disease in the current outbreak.

Last week, Spain reported two monkeypox-related deaths and Brazil its first. The death in India is also the first in Asia. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency on July 23.

The 22-year-old Indian man died on Saturday, Kerala's revenue minister told reporters, adding that the government had isolated 21 people who had come in contact with him.

"The person reached Kerala on July 21 but visited a hospital only on July 26 when he displayed fatigue and fever," Minister K. Rajan said, adding that there was no reason to panic as none of the primary contacts were showing symptoms.

Kerala's health minister, Veena George, told reporters on Sunday that the man's family told authorities the previous day that he had tested positive in the United Arab Emirates before returning to India.

India's federal health ministry had no comment on the death, except for saying that the government had formed a task force of senior officials to monitor monkeypox cases in the country, where local media have reported at least five infections.

The WHO said late last month 78 countries had reported more than 18,000 cases of monkeypox, the majority in Europe.

It says the monkeypox virus causes a disease with less severe symptoms than smallpox and occurs mainly in central and west Africa. The disease is transmitted from animals to humans.

Human-to-human transmission happens through contact with bodily fluids, lesions on the skin or on internal mucosal surfaces, such as in the mouth or throat, respiratory droplets and contaminated objects.


Riaz Haq said…
India's Economic Situation 'Bleak'; We Know the Issue but Not the Solution: Pronab Sen
In an interview with Karan Thapar, the country's former chief statistician said that India will miss the RBI's target of 7.2% growth for this financial year and that it'll come around 6-6.5%. (real growth going forward will be around 4%)

Pranab Sen: Demonetization and COVID lockdown dried up the informal credit and killed a large percentage of small and medium enterprises.

https://thewire.in/video/watch-indias-economic-situation-bleak-we-know-the-issue-but-not-the-solution-pronab-sen

https://youtu.be/p3avEIThSN8

In an interview where he paints a bleak and disturbing picture of the state of the economy, India’s former chief statistician professor Pronab Sen has said that we can identify the problems that are retarding growth but we don’t know how to tackle them.

Worse, professor Sen says he is not sure if the government has diagnosed the problems because it has not spoken about them and its silence can be variously interpreted. Consequently, he says that India will miss the RBI’s target of 7.2% growth for this financial year and that it will growth will only come in somewhere around 6-6.5%.

However, he points out, in real terms growth will actually be just 4% which, he adds, is at least 2.5% below the growth India needs to create jobs for its population. This means, professor Sen points out, we can boast of being the fastest growing economy but it’s equally true that we are considerably falling short of the rate of growth we need (6.57%) to create sufficient jobs for our people which, in turn, will boost consumption and spending and create incentives for investment.

In these circumstances, professor Sen said that first quarter growth of FY23 at 13.5% is clearly disappointing.

In a 42-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, professor Sen, who is currently the country director of the International Growth Centre, identified two critical areas where the Indian economy faces serious problems about which we are not sure what we should do.

The first is the MSME sector which, he added, has undoubtedly shrunk in size over the last two years. The problem is not a question of encouraging and helping existing MSMEs so much as creating the environment for new MSMEs to emerge. The specific problem is that the informal credit line on which they depend has dried up and we don’t know how to revive that credit line. The government does not have a clear way of doing so.

And, the problem afflicting MSMEs, professor Sen says, is the reason why manufacturing has only grown year-on-year by 4.8% and why joblessness and unemployment are an increasing concern. Most jobs are created by MSMEs or the wider unorganised sector and that seems to have stopped or, at least, is not happening in sufficient measure.

The second problem professor Sen identified is the critical services sector of trade, hotel, transport, communication and broadcasting services, which represent 30.5% of employment but is still 15.5% below pre-pandemic levels. Once again, he said we don’t know what we need to do to boost this sector back to pre-pandemic levels. He pointed out that many MSMEs work in this sector and its future is, therefore, directly linked to MSMEs.

Professor Sen also pointed out that the global situation will not be of much help to India. Interest rates are likely to remain high and exports, which have been a support to the economy until recently, will face problems in markets like Europe and America and, therefore, fail to provide the boost to growth they have previously given. However, he believes oil prices could come down.

He believes India is clearly locked into a K-shaped recovery and the arms of the K are moving further and further apart.

Whilst scoffing at commentators and newspapers that have called for broad-based reforms, without identifying what they would be, professor Sen said that the key reform needed would be credit lines that would service MSMEs and provide funds for new MSMEs to start up.

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