PM Modi’s G7 Summit Visit Officially Called off: This was always about when this announcement would be made, not whether it would be made. Prime Minister Modi’s planned visit to the G7 summit in Cornwall in the UK has been cancelled. The ministry for external affairs tweeted: “While appreciating the invitation to the Prime Minister by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attend the G7 Summit as a Special Invitee, given the prevailing COVID situation, it has been decided that the Prime Minister will not attend the G7 Summit in person.” The furore that arose after two members of the Indian delegation accompanying external affairs minister S Jaishankar to the recent G7 finance ministers’ meeting showed up Covid positive cannot have helped. All sides seemed keen on cancelling an in-person visit, as these have now come to be classified.
Mixing Different Vaccines May Not Be a Good Idea: Preliminary data arising from research conducted by the University of Oxford indicates more than average adverse reactions arising from inoculation combining different vaccines. The research looked at mixing the Covishield with the Pfizer vaccines in varying doses. The findings could sound caution also against combining other vaccines such as Covishield with Covaxin in India – though this particular combination has not been tested yet. The mixing of Covishield with Pfizer showed mild to moderate symptoms higher than from giving any one vaccine in two doses. The symptoms were short-lived, and passed in a day or so. What mixing the two vaccines means for immunity will be known some months down the line.
Concerns over Rapid Spread of B.1.617 Strain: Chief Medical Officer for England Prof Chris Whitty has warned that the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus, which was first found in India and later in other parts of the world, could be more transmissible than the Kent variant that hit Britain from December last year. Studies on this are well under way, and are consistent with the alarming facts on the ground in India where this strain of the virus has spread faster and further than anyone anticipated. Verification of this in the UK is proving a challenge for the best reason – almost the entire vulnerable population of Britain has been vaccinated already. But the UK government is still making extensive efforts to stop the spread of this strain of the virus. The fundamental fear remains that the more any strain is around, the more it could mutate past its present form.
Greensill Boss Apologises for Company’s Collapse: The boss of financial services firm Greensill Capital has apologised for the collapse of his company that has had a strong knock-on effect on the Liberty Steel Group headed by Sanjeev Gupta. Lex Greensill told a group of MPs he faced on Tuesday that his firm was, in turn, let down by the insurer Tokio Marine which refused to cover loans to Greensill due to the coronavirus crisis. After losing his principal financier, Sanjeev Gupta sought a bailout from the UK government which was refused. He is currently struggling to keep Liberty going through finances generated through non-UK arms of his business.
Relief for Brits Stranded around Bengaluru: Air India is set to resume flights from Bengaluru to London from May 15. The flights had been suspended in view of the severe Covid crisis in Karnataka. That has left a large number of British citizens and Indians with residency rights in Britain stranded around Bengaluru. Many of these people will now be able to return to the UK. They will have to take tests before departure, then upon arrival, before a ten-day quarantine at a government-designated hotel following arrival in London.