Vaccines Effective against B.1.617.2 Strain in Varying Degrees: It’s the old question of whether you see the glass two-thirds full or a third empty. The latter could be the case with the AstraZeneca vaccine. An investigation by Public Health England has found that the two principal vaccines administered in Britain, AstraZeneca and Pfizer, both are effective against the B.1.617.2 variant of the virus to varying degrees. But there lies the problem. The AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be 66 per cent effective after two doses, Pfizer 88 per cent effective, also after two doses. This does suggest that one in three given two Covishield jabs in India will not be shielded by vaccination. After one dose with this, the protection chances are one in three.
Germany Clips Wings of British Flyers: Given the spread of B.1.617.2, the coronavirus strain first found in India, it was always likely that many EU countries would do with Britain what Britain did with India – red-list it, even if they do not use such vividly colourful language. As of Sunday, Germany has restricted travel from Britain. Similar to the India red-listing, German citizens and residents can still enter the country, but endure a two-week quarantine first. France and several other EU countries are planning similar measures.
India Hardens Stance in Cairn Case: The jurisdictional dispute between Cairn and the Indian government has taken a new twist after the Indian finance ministry said it did not and would not accept arbitration over a national tax matter. India did participate in hearings at a tribunal in The Hague in The Netherlands that awarded Cairn 1.2 million dollars in compensation plus 500 million dollars in interest and costs. India has now taken the position that it put its views across at the arbitration meeting, but that does not imply acceptance of its findings as a legal order that it would be bound by. Cairn has already begun proceedings to attach the assets of Indian public sector companies, first over Air India in the US. Now foreign courts in several jurisdictions will rule on the remit of the arbitration panel in The Hague. India will have to defend its position in these courts – at a cost.
Queen Flags Off Elizabeth: Queen Elizabeth visited the ship named after her over the weekend to flag off its journey to India and several other countries. The British fleet led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to carry out joint exercises with the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean. The expedition marks a symbolic military underlining of the new foreign policy of the British government placing the Indo-Pacific region as its top priority. India is at the centre of the new geopolitical push. It is emerging as a key military ally in the region for Britain, the US, the larger NATO force that includes several EU countries; and in the east with Japan, Australia and South Korea. That places India at the heart of a powerful alliance aiming to limit China’s influence in the region.
No Change in Team India’s Itinerary, Says ECB: In the face of some reports suggesting a change in India’s Test schedule in England, the ECB has clarified that it has received “no official request” from the BCCI for any change in dates with a view to bringing the matches forward. As the present schedule stands, the dates for the India-England Tests are: first Test, Trent Bridge, August 4-8; second Test, Lord’s, August 12-16; third Test, Headingley, August 25-29; fourth Test, Oval, September 2-6; and fifth Test, Old Trafford, September 10-14. This year spectators are due back in the stands – unless last-minute changes in the spread of the virus cancel those plans. England played Tests against West Indies and Pakistan past the peak of the pandemic last year, but without spectators.