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News18 Daily Digest: India’s Coronavirus Vaccine Hope and Nine Other Top Stories

Representational Image. (AP) There is the big challenge of being able to scale, distribute and allocate fairly around the world without letting the rich countries corner the limited doses.

Representational Image. (AP) There is the big challenge of being able to scale, distribute and allocate fairly around the world without letting the rich countries corner the limited doses.

Hope for India as Coronavirus vaccine race intensifies; Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon passes away; Ashok Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot battle in Rajasthan High Court. 

Good Afternoon. News18 gives you a leg-up on the news of the day thus far.

Top Story: Three Coronavirus Vaccines Deliver Promising Initial Results

The race for developing a vaccine against the novel coronavirus has intensified as three competing laboratories released promising results from early trials in humans.

Two vaccine developers — the first, a partnership between Oxford University and the British-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca and the second, the Chinese company CanSino Biologics — published their initial results as peer-reviewed studies in The Lancet, a British medical journal. A joint venture between the drug giant Pfizer and the German company BioNTech shared results online before peer review.

All three developers said their vaccines had produced strong immune responses with only minor side effects.

The most closely watched of the three is the partnership between Oxford and AstraZeneca, which has emerged as the frontrunner. It was also the first vaccine to enter Phase III trials.

Antibody and T Cell Response: The preliminary data from Oxford University’s Phase-1 and Phase-2 trials on their Covid-19 vaccine showed that it triggered both arms of the immune system as it induced a strong antibody and T cell immune response among participants. The study had analysed a thousand participants who had received the vaccine. Of those, only 10 received a booster shot, and they showed the most promising immune response.

The Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccine maker in the world, has a manufacturing deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture doses of this vaccine for India. The institute is planning to begin human trials for the vaccine from August and has sought permission from the drug regulator of India. However, concerns about greater access remain.

Related: India recorded 37,148 Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours till 8am on Tuesday, pushing its tally to 11,55,191, according to Union health ministry data. But Delhi, which has the highest per capita cases in India, reported more positive figures, as cases dipped below the 1,000 mark after 49 days. The findings of a serological survey conducted has suggested as many as 23 per cent of the city’s population may have antibodies against the virus.

Curious Data from South and South East Asia: The 19 nations of the region, with a population of over 252 crore, have reported just 43,158 Covid-19 fatalities. Compare this with the 1,94,889 deaths reported from the 19 worst-hit European nations, with a total population of approximately 66.5 crore. Nikhil Narain decodes why.

Four More Big Stories

  1. MP Governor Lalji Tandon Dies at 85: The veteran of Indian politics breathed his last on Tuesday morning after a month-long struggle against acute illness, comprising multiple organ failures.

News18’s Pranshu Mishra recalls Tandon as one from the “Atal school of politics”, among that fast-thinning breed of politicians who had good personal relations across the political spectrum. A case in point: his relationship with BSP supremo Mayawati, who tied a 'rakhi' to the saffron soldier every year.

  1. Team Pilot Says Speaker Gave 3 Days to Reply in Time of Covid-19: The Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday resumed hearing a plea filed by rebel Congress leader Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the state Assembly Speaker.

Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of the MLAs, said the Speaker had shown ‘tearing hurry’ and given no reasons while serving notices to disqualify Sachin Pilot and others after they skipped two meetings. “In the middle of the pandemic, only three days' time was given to the MLAs to respond to the notice.”

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot held the third meeting with Congress MLAs at a resort in Jaipur, where he is guarding his flock of loyal legislators. Follow all the live updates of the Rajasthan political crisis here.

  1. Course Correction in School Books Continues: The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has now revised a chapter in the intermediate political science textbook to remove all content on the birth of separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and has instead introduced a chapter on the scrapping of its special status.

The move comes just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and may rekindle a debate among academics and thinkers on tinkering with inconvenient histories in social sciences.

Comparing the two versions of the text book, Eram Agha notes that the new version has also removed the term “Kashmiri identity,” which was used in the older version.

  1. Rafale Jets to Add to Firepower in Ladakh: The first batch of five Indian Air Force (IAF) Rafale is likely to arrive in India by end July 2020. The aircraft will be inducted at Air Force Station Ambala on July 29.

Official sources said the the Rafale jets are likely to be deployed in the Ladakh sector as part of the IAF's efforts to enhance its operational capabilities along the Line of Actual Control with China in view of the border row with the country. News18’s Arjit Garg explains the operational capabilities of the fourth-gen fighter jet here.

Commentary of the Day: Method to Gehlot’s Unusual Aggression

In the Rajasthan MLA chase, chief minster Ashok Gehlot’s diatribe against his former deputy, Sachin Pilot, has surprised many. Gehlot is generally a man of few words and very cautious in his utterances even in the face of a severe crisis.

But News18’s political editor Sumit Pande says that a closer look at Gehlot’s actions reveals there is a method in his aggression this season. And a thought too. The CM’s aggression is aimed both at the defectors and his own party MLAs. He is sending a message to his own flock of MLAs that he is in control, and confident of surviving the current crisis to complete the term of office. In the process, he is also targeting the defectors, asking them to choose their side a bit wisely.

Catch up on Gizmos, Streaming Guide, Sports, Entertainment

Binge Watch or Not? A Match Made in Hell

If you’ve seen the 'Indian Matchmaking' on Netflix, you must be aware of what a cringefest it is. Created in the US, the series follows a Mumbai-based matchmaker Sima Taparia, who guides clients in the U.S. and India in the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at the custom in a modern era.

Ironically, the idea of the show was to dispel myths about the arranged marriage culture in India and break stereotypes about the Big Fat Indian Wedding. Yet, the show does just that - it portrays Indians and Indian families as an elitist, casteist, ageist, sexist and regressive bunch. While Desis knew what they were in for, and loved to hate it, white people are now discovering Indian Matchmaking. Strap on for this wild ride.

India vs Australia: A Quarantine Quagmire

India will have to abide by Australia’s 14-day quarantine requirement ahead of the test series starting in December. Australia requires international arrivals to isolate in quarantine hotels due to the Covid-19 pandemic, though some have been allowed to pass the period at home due to health reasons.

CA interim Chief Executive Nick Hockley suggested there was little prospect of India’s players having a shorter quarantine. But he said arrangements will be made to ensure their players can prepare as well as possible.

The Adelaide Oval, which has an attached hotel, has been seen as a potential venue for India to train safely while in quarantine.

Related: Cricketnext analyses the spread of the pandemic in the 9 major cricket playing nations of the world – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and the West Indies, and what impact it will have on the forthcoming series.

OnePlus Goes Back to Flagship Killer Ways

OnePlus will be officially launching its new mid-range smartphone today evening. The OnePlus Nord has been making headlines the past few months and we will finally get to see what the buzz is all about. Now we already have a lot of information about the device thanks to numerous leaks and certain teasers released by the smartphone maker it itself. We are also expecting the all-new OnePlus Buds true wireless earphones to launch alongside the Nord series.

The OnePlus Nord launch is scheduled for today at 7:30PM. You can click here as News18 will bring you all the live coverage of the launch event.

Kangana Ranaut’s Nepotism Tirade

Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut’s explosive comments on nepotism in the industry continues to evoke reactions, with director, who is said to be a good friend to the actress, in a series of tweets said he's unable to tolerate "this new Kangana".

In the wake of Sushant Singh Rajput's death by suicide, Kangna has been calling out actors and filmmakers and have accused them of promoting nepotism and favouritism in the industry. She had also referred to Taapsee and Swara Bhasker as B-grade actresses.

Actress Sonakshi Sinha, meanwhile, took to Instagram to praise Taapsee Pannu for her "dignified response" to Kangana Ranaut. Taapsee had said that she refuses to be bitter about her struggles and won't use Sushant Singh Rajput's death for her "personal vendetta."