Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Snifer dogs at Airport to detect Covid 19 affected !!

What do you do when you arrive in an airport – at Helsinki, after collecting their luggage, arriving international passengers are asked to dab their skin with a wipe. In a separate booth, the beaker containing the wipe is then placed next to others containing different control scents .. .. ..  baffling !!

The picture took the Twitter by storm.  A tan dog in a tactical vest, sitting up at the position of attention, perky ears framing a black face. The mouth wide open, the tongue hanging out the side of the mouth, the dog looks happy, almost goofy.

It was tweeted by the US President Donald Trump – and it was the dog that   chased down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late October, leading to al-Baghdadi's death when he detonated a suicide vest he was wearing.  The “wonderful” Belgian Malinois was injured   in the blast, but has since returned to duty. Assigned to Delta Force, the dog's identity is classified, even as the dog is being hailed as a hero,  and named  Conan.

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell which have made them useful in the detection of diseases for decades.  The complex folded structure of their nasal cavity - which results in a huge surface area - is home to over 300million scent receptors compared to 5milllion in a human, according to researchers at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).  A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to use its senses to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics such as illicit mobile phones. The sense most used by detection dogs is smell. The smell from the detection dogs are more enhanced than the average dog. They are trained to have this great sense of smell. A police dog is essentially a detection dog that is used as a resource for police in specific scenarios such as conducting drug raids, finding missing criminals, and locating stashed currency.

Frequently, detection dogs are thought to be used for law enforcement purposes; however, they are also used as a valuable research tool for wildlife biologists. In California, detection dogs are trained to discover quagga mussels on boats at public boat ramps because they are a harmful invasive species for the environment. Detection dogs also tend to be employed for the purposes of finding and collecting the feces of a diverse array of species, including caribou, black-footed ferret, killer whale, and Oregon spotted frog. This process is known as wildlife scat detection. .

And in July, researchers in Germany found trained sniffer dogs can detect the coronavirus in human swab samples with 94 per cent success rate. LSHTM, in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) and Durham University, have been rigorously testing whether six dogs can detect coronavirus smells through an intensive training programme, which was announced in May. The researchers collect odour samples from people who are infected with COVID-19, and people who are uninfected. Then, they use those odour samples with six medical detection dogs.  If successful, the clever dogs could be deployed to places like airports within eight to ten weeks after training, the researchers said, where each dog can 'screen' 250 people per hour.

Canine scent detectors have been working at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport since 22 September in a pilot study to see if they can speed up the detection. Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that Finnish researchers hope will provide a cheap, fast and effective alternative method of testing people for the virus. A dog is capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus within 10 seconds and the entire process takes less than a minute to complete, according to Anna Hielm-Björkman of the University of Helsinki, who is overseeing the trial.

In UK, the Secretary of State (Matt Hancock) visited them in order to get an update on that trial. Health Minister Lord Bethell has previously said the method might provide speedy results as part of a wider testing strategy.  The team, who began testing the dogs in May, collect odour samples from people who are infected with Covid-19 as well as ones who aren't, and then train the dogs to tell the difference between them.  'Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour, and with MDD, we successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria,' he said. 'This, combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour, makes us hopeful that the dogs can also detect Covid-19. 'If successful, this approach could revolutionise how we detect the virus, with the potential to screen high numbers of people.' The dogs, a mixture of Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, can already identify deadly diseases including cancer, malaria and Parkinson's disease.  

Research has revealed the dogs are able to detect the odour of disease at the equivalent dilution of one teaspoon of sugar in an astonishing two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water. Dogs can pick up the scent in the tiniest shifts in hormones or 'volatile organic compounds' that are released by diseased cells in the body. Human scent consists of a mixture volatile organic compounds that are found in the blood, saliva, urine or breath. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is thought to be the first country to put the method into trial after deploying sniffer dogs to airports in August.

It is hoped that some of the dogs - which have demonstrated they can pick out a positive result within 0.5 seconds from someone who isn’t even showing symptoms of the illness - could be employed in airports, train stations and sporting venues across the country as early as the new year. Camilla, who has backed the charity’s work since 2014, described the dogs as ‘simply remarkable, so impressive’.

Before concluding read that there are dogs that can detect diabetes.  A diabetic alert dog is an assistance dog trained to detect high (hyperglycemia) or low (hypoglycemia) levels of blood sugar in humans with diabetes and alert their owners to dangerous changes in blood glucose levels.  This allows their owners to take steps to return their blood sugar to normal, such as using glucose tablets, sugar and carbohydrate rich food. The dog can prompt a human to take insulin.When owners with diabetes begin to experience hypoglycemia, the detection dogs perform a predetermined task (e.g. bark, lay down, sit) to inform the person.

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Monday, October 26, 2020

US Elections .. .. .. did Joe Biden forget the name of the President ?!?!

A few decades ago ~ elections in Tamil Nadu were different.  Before you read further – Thiru : A Subbarayalu; Panagal Raja; Dr P Subbarayan; P Munuswamy Naidu,  Ramakrishna Ranga Rao(Raja of Bobbili), PT Rajan,   Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu, C Rajagopalachari [Rajaji], Tanguturi Prakasam &   O P Ramaswamy Reddiyar – were the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu prior to Indepedence and general elections in free India.

Remember in my younger days there would be public meetings at street corners, cycle rallies, candidate canvassing in open jeeps and some orators reeling out statistics and qualities of the candidate on the mike in auto rickshaw (I myself have spoken on that mike traversing the electoral village consisting of many a streets).  For every candidate, election manager, campaigner, speakers – good oratorical skills, eloquence, knowledge of the area, candidate, capabilities of the party and more were required .. .. (perhaps not any longer !) – remember what could happen if the candidate makes a guffaw in calling wrongly the name of Chief Minister himself ! – for sure, he would become object of ridicule.

Miles away, US elections are on the anvil.  The American presidential elections are always held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Americans vote for people called "electors" in their state who are supporting the candidate they want to become president - this process is called the electoral college. The more people who live in a state, the more electors there are for that state. So California for example, with a population of 38.8 million, has 55 votes - while Delaware, (population 936,000), has just three votes. There are currently 538 electors in total, corresponding to the 435 Representatives (Congress men and women) and 100 Senators, plus the three additional electors from the District of Columbia. The Constitution prohibits any federal official, elected or appointed, from being an elector. The candidate with the most electors wins all the state's electoral college votes and the first candidate to win enough states to get to 270 electoral votes is elected to that office.

The 2020 US election is a week away. With the presidential debates over, we are into the final days of campaigning. But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown many aspects of the race into uncertainty. The virus has already dramatically affected the running of the election, including the chaos caused by Donald Trump being diagnosed with Covid-19. It is also unclear what election day itself will look like, given the risk of catching the virus by voting in person. A record number of people are expected to vote before November 3 by opting for postal votes. Election experts suggest this could mean the result may not be declared on election night, but may take several days - or even weeks - to emerge.   With the coronavirus pandemic expected to impact public life well into the autumn, the 2020 election is likely to go down in history as one of the most unconventional US presidential races ever held.

Media reports may not be conclusive in saying whether it would be Joe Biden or  Donald Trump in the national polls for the presidential election.  The leads as shown in the Press any way  doesn’t guarantee the candidate’s  victory. Hillary Clinton also had a clear lead over Trump in the polls for almost the entire 2016 campaign. She ended up losing in the electoral college. Because the presidential voting system assigns each state a number of electoral college votes, which go to the state’s victor regardless of the margin of victory, a handful of swing states will probably decide the election and be targeted heavily by campaigners.

In order to track how the race is developing in the areas that could decide the election, six of the eight states we focused on were those that flipped to Trump in 2016 after backing Barack Obama in 2012. Arizona and North Carolina were also added due to what they might tell us about a shifting electoral landscape – they could emerge as vital new swing states this year.

Donald Trump has mocked 'Sleepy' Joe Biden for apparently forgetting who was president after the Democrat candidate said 'we need to stop four more years of George.'  Biden was addressing a virtual concert when he said: 'Four more years of George, er, George, er, he - we're going to find ourselves in a position where, if Trump gets elected, we're going to be in a different world.' The 77-year-old appeared to receive a prompt from his wife Jill who was sitting beside him, muttering 'Trump' under her breath.

Hours later President Trump blasted Biden, tweeting: 'Joe Biden called me George yesterday. Couldn't remember my name. Got some help from the anchor to get him through the interview. The Fake News Cartel is working overtime to cover it up!' Many speculated that Biden was thinking of George W. Bush, president from 2001-09, or perhaps George H.W. who was in office from 1989-93.  Democrats however said that Biden was speaking to George Lopez, one of the hosts of the rally.  The blunder once again was used by Republicans to raise questions about Biden's mental capacity - a topic Trump has repeatedly referenced in the run-up to the election.  

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Covid 19 ~ India has handled the situation better - reveals statistics !

Congress MP TN Prathapan has written to Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja as he sought action into the alleged lapses in the treatment of a 67-year-old woman, a Covid patient. According to the patient's family, she was found lying on the floor - injured and bleeding - at the Thrissur Medical College. While the family has alleged her hands were tied to the hospital bed, the hospital administration has denied lapses, stressing the patient "was not tied down, but was physically restrained on the advice of a psychiatrist, so that she would not remove her cannula".

Though too early to celebrate, there are some good signs in the Covid 19 front in India.  As per the data released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India on October 26 reported single-day spike of 45,149 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. 480 deaths in the same period, pushing the COVID-19 toll in the country to 1,19,014. India’s confirmed cases of coronavirus stand at 79,09,960 which include 6,53,717 active infections after a decrease of 14,437 in last 24 hours.  Today (26.10.2020)  is the 217th day since India implemented a nationwide lockdown, to help curb the novel coronavirus pandemic. So far, India has recorded 79,09,960 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 1,19,014 deaths. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have reported the highest number of cases.  India’s recovery rate continues to rise and now stands at 90.2 percent.  

There was a time when couple of States were blamed and couple appreciated even winning awards. Now today’s statistics reveals the real picture .. .. one can see which States are badly affected  .. .. ..please see the new cases curve !

Globally, many countries are suffering in what is stated as second wave.  Britain is now recording more Covid-19 deaths each day for the size of its population than the US for the first time since June, data has revealed. Both countries are currently recording around two Covid-19 deaths for every million people — but Britain's rate stands slightly higher at 2.63, compared to 2.4 in the US. The UK suffered far higher daily death counts in the spring, relative to its population. But over the summer, while Britain's outbreak fizzled out, America's failed to improve.  Coronavirus cases have picked up once again in Britain as it battles a 'second wave' and deaths are climbing at a fast rate. Around 180 Covid-19 patients are dying every day, double the rate ten days ago. It can take infected patients several weeks to fall seriously ill and die, meaning there is always a lag between cases and fatalities.

The US currently has the highest cumulative death toll in the world at 228,477. And researchers warned last week that the grim tally could pass half a million by February, in a worst-case scenario. When looking at the total coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began, the two nations are on par with almost 700 deaths per million people so far. This is because the UK — which has endured around 45,000 Covid-19 deaths — is home to around 66million people, whereas the US' population stands at around 330million. The figures come amid soaring cases in both nations, with officials in the US posting a record-high of 83,757 new infections on Friday. Britain also posted its highest ever daily number of cases tally last week, registering 26,688 positive tests on Wednesday.  Officials in both nations have been highly criticised for their handling of the crisis. Donald Trump's administration was blamed for 'one of the greatest losses of American life in history' by his presidential election rival Joe Biden, while Boris Johnson was accused of failing to act quickly enough in March.

The Czech Republic is facing a 'catastrophic' Covid-19 outbreak and needs a 'miracle' to avoid new restrictions, its prime minister said last night with its infection rate now the highest of any major country in the world.  Andrej Babis said the current lockdown measures 'are not working yet' after the country's coronavirus deaths doubled in the space of two weeks. Like many countries which escaped lightly from the first wave, the Czech Republic is now seeing record numbers of fatalities, with average daily deaths rising from 14 at the start of October to 111 today - after a peak of just 10 in the spring. When adjusted for population, the Czech Republic's current rate of deaths is around four times higher than Britain's.  The light death toll in the spring means that many older and vulnerable people in the Czech Republic had yet to be exposed to the disease when the second wave struck.   The spike in deaths could also be linked to the rising average age of patients - with over-50s now making up 35 per cent of new infections compared to 22 per cent in early August.

In addition, the spread of the virus among doctors and nurses is worsening the strain on Czech hospitals, with as many as 1,000 medical workers being infected every day and medics having to be drafted in from abroad.  Saturday saw a new record of 126 deaths along with 15,258 cases, and the current Czech infection rate is the highest on the planet except for tiny Andorra. 

~ not everything is bad.  Down under, after New Zealand, Australia too is faring better.  Melbourne will finally exit lockdown this week after nearly four months as Australia's second biggest city today recorded zero new infections or deaths. The city will exit its coronavirus lockdown under onerous restrictions, authorities announced Monday, as zero cases were reported for the first time since June 8. Stay-at-home orders for Melbourne's five million residents will be lifted from midnight Tuesday into Wednesday while restaurants, beauty salons and retail stores will be permitted to throw open their doors.  Australia's Victoria state has spent months under tight restrictions after becoming the epicentre of the country's second wave of coronavirus infections

Melbourne and the surrounding Victoria state recorded the first 24-hour period without any new Covid-19 cases since June 8 - before security bungles at quarantine hotels housing returned international travellers sparked a major outbreak in July.  Victoria has seen 20,341 total Covid-19 cases and its coronavirus death toll stands at 817. Announcing the much-anticipated relaxing of restrictions, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews' voice cracked as he declared it an 'emotional day'.

Looking at all these Indian Government has certainly handled the crisis better.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26.10.2020 @ 10.55pm



will KKR take a preposterous decision of dropping !!


On Apr 27, 2019, United States of America played Papua New Guinea in ICC World Cricket League and lost the ODI  ! ~ Khan made his debut .. .. will KKR take a preposterous decision of dropping DK ??

Today on Vijayadasami day, we will watch the 46th IPL 2020 match at Sharjah with CSK only team out of contention for play-off.  Today Kolkata Knight Riders play  Kings XI Punjab.  KX1 were  at the bottom of the pile only 10 days ago. Suddenly, they have won  four games on the trot, and looking for a fifth that will vault them into playoff contention.  Kolkata Knight Riders will move up to 14 points with a win, and will open up a four-point lead between them and the fifth-placed Kings XI Punjab. If they lose,  KKR can still get up to 16 points if they win their two remaining matches, but Kings XI can also get there with two wins, and they will do so with a better NRR. Incidentally, both teams will play Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings in their last two matches.  If  KKR win only one of their remaining two games, then they will finish on 14, and will be at the mercy of other results going their way. If it comes down to NRR, they will probably lose out.

At this stage, will team management try any new face ? – unlikely it would appear .. .. there was a stray suggestion that they might drop Dinesh Karthik and bring in NZ Tim Seifert who has just joined them .. .. how ? is a long story !

Five days after his 28th birthday in Dec  2018, Ali Khan (who ?) was sitting on the front steps of a Florida mansion known as the Cricketplex Resort, sobbing. Minutes earlier, Khan and three friends - Maq Qureshi, Shawn Qureshi, and former Pakistan Test batsman Faisal Iqbal - had been watching the IPL auction on a giant plasma screen with climactic excitement. After waking up at 5am for the auction coverage from Jaipur, Khan and his pals had waited more than four hours for the moment his name would be put up. It only took another 29 seconds for the auctioneer to turn Khan's dream into a nightmare, slamming down his gavel to shout, "Unsold!"

Khan had performed well for  Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) coming in  as a replacement for Ronsford Beaton in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).  He took   16 wickets in a title-winning campaign.  .. .. then KKR roped   in USA's 29-year-old fast bowler Ali Khan as a replacement for the English seamer Harry Gurney. Gurney  was scheduled to have surgery related to a shoulder injury, and pulled out of both the IPL and England's Vitality Blast last month. Khan's signing made him the first USA player to feature in the IPL.

Muhammad Ahsan Ali Khan, was born in   Attock, Punjab, Pakistan and had hoped to play in IPL just as   Rashid Khan has done for Afghanistan.  Nicknamed 'The Yorker Machine' for his pinpoint accuracy, the 29-year-old was picked up by KKR after impressing in the Caribbean Premier League for the Trinbago Knight Riders. Born in the Attock region of Pakistan, Khan and his family moved to USA when he was 19. The idea of playing elite-level cricket was nothing short of a pipedream and then   flying with West Indies' Sunil Narine and coach Brendon McCullum in a private jet   was a surreal moment."

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the world's number one ranked T20 bowler, has undeniably put Afghanistan cricket on the map.  Khan wanted to replicate his success for America !   but all that hope fell flat as a   side strain that he had carried with him from the CPL to the UAE has forced him to return home.   New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Seifert has been roped in as Khan's replacement.

A report in Stuff on Friday had mentioned that Northern Districts, Seifert's domestic team, had "confirmed" that the cricketer "was another absentee [for the Plunket Shield] in coming weeks, summoned to the IPL as a replacement player". Seifert, is a short-format specialist, who has turned out for New Zealand in three ODIs and 24 T20Is, and averages 22.85 with a strike rate of 139.75 in the latter.

IPL is no doubt interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26.10.2020 @ 18:50 hrs.


opportunities do not come easily ~ when they come, make best use !!

Long ago, in 1970s – Tamil Nadu Ranji openers were V Sivaramakrishnan & V Krishnaswamy ~ they made runs playing for the State perhaps never got the fame or money that modern day Cricketers enjoy .. .. life was different those days – IPL catapults young guys to fame and more importantly ‘money’

B u t  .. .. even in modern times, life is not all that easy, success does not come that easily and even most talented do not get their due – to me, one of the shining examples is Kieron Pollard, the towering Cricketer from West Indies who generally comes when 20 odd balls are left and scores 3 or 4 sixers – good that he is leading MI in the absence of Rohit Sharma – he is one of the most underrated captains too ! .. .. not many would have noticed that the Caribbean all-rounder Kieron Pollard created history on Sunday (25th October) night as he became the first fielder to take 300 catches in T20 cricket history.

The 33-year-old Trinidad cricketer Kieron Pollard is already holding the record of most matches in T20 cricket history as he is still the only cricketer to appear in 500+ T20s. Captaining  Mumbai Indians (MI)   in the 45th match of the IPL 2020 against Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium (Abu Dhabi), it was the 523rd T20 match for Pollard.  The big burly six hitter,  Pollard reached another milestone in his T20 career as he became the first fielder or non-wicket-keeper to take 300 T20 catches.  

He captured everyone’s admiration with his measured words and gestures.  Following the loss against Rajasthan, Pollard  credited that Rajasthan’s top order complimenting Stokes and Sanju for playing  really well, and stating  Pandya’s innings gave them a good enough total. Mumbai Indians' loss against the Rajasthan Royals has not hampered Mumbai's chances of qualifying for the playoffs. They still need to win just one of their remaining three matches to make the final four. The Royals, however, are now at sixth place with 10 points, and can reach a maximum of 14. By beating Mumbai on Sunday, the Royals have also knocked the Chennai Super Kings out of the playoff race for the first time in the history of the competition. Despite the heroics by Ben Stokes to help get the Royals over the line, their playoff spot will still depend on how the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Kings XI Punjab and the Sunrisers Hyderabad go in their remaining fixtures.

Yesterday night it was big chase well organized - Ben Stokes played so well making an unbeaten 107 off 60 balls as the Rajasthan Royals chased down Mumbai Indians' 195 for 5 with relative ease in the end in Abu Dhabi.  Earlier, Hardik Pandya's 60 not out off 21 balls, studded with seven sixes and two fours, had lit up the evening. But that didn't prove enough as Stokes and Sanju Samson added 152 off 82 balls in an unbroken third-wicket partnership to take the Royals home with ten balls to spare.  The first flame came from Quinton de Kock who has  scores of 53, 78*, 53 and 46* coming into this game. He pulled a 149.6kph Jofra Archer delivery for a six to get off the mark. Archer, however, pitched the next ball a little fuller and a bit wider, and de Kock chopped on with an angled bat.

Moving away, India has done remarkably well in ICC U19 WC but not in 2014 edition where they finished 5th.  That was the  tenth edition of the tournament. Sixteen nations competed: the ten Test-playing teams, the United Arab Emirates as hosts, and five additional associate and affiliate qualifiers (Afghanistan, Canada, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, and Scotland). India entered the tournament as defending champions, having won the title in 2012 in Australia under the captaincy of Unmukt Chand. In the final, South Africa beat Pakistan by six wickets to win the tournament. South Africa captain Aiden Markram was awarded Man of the Series.

Not many would know or remember that Monu played in that edition.  Hailing from Ranchi like his CSK skipper MS Dhoni, Monu has represented Bihar and the Indian U-19 teams as well. He's taken 25 wickets in the shortest format at an economy rate of 6.90. Monu had travelled to the United Arab Emirates with the junior India cricket team for the 2014 U-19 World Cup. He claimed four wickets in three matches back then, and was part of an outfit which included the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Kuldeep Yadav and Sanju Samson. He even featured in India's quarterfinal loss to England that year. Twelve wickets from eight games during Jharkhand's run to the 2018 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy's Super League got Monu an IPL contract with CSK.

Monu Kumar was picked up by the Super Kings in the mega-auction in January 2018. He has been part of the side since then without ever getting a game, as the Super Kings won the title in 2018 and finished runners-up in 2019. He began IPL 2020 in his now familiar role on the bench, but the worst season that the Super Kings have endured meant they were more open to changes in the playing XI, and Kumar finally got a go, having been on the bench for 44 matches: 16 in 2018, 17 in 2019 and 11 in 2020.

He ended up bowling only two overs and conceded 20 runs, including three wides and a no-ball. Off the free hit that came via the no-ball, Kumar nailed a leg-stump yorker to de Villiers to keep him to a single. Super Kings bowling coach Eric Simons said the yorker was a delivery Kumar had great confidence in.

Life does not present great opportunities for every one but when one comes on the way, one must make best possible use of it.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Tanker vessel hijacked in UK waters near Southampton ??

The Andromeda Galaxy, is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years (770 kiloparsecs) from Earth and the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way.  The galaxy's name stems from the area of Earth's sky in which it appears, the constellation of Andromeda, which itself is named after the Ethiopian (or Phoenician) princess who was the wife of Perseus in Greek mythology.  The number of stars contained in the Andromeda Galaxy is estimated at one trillion (1×1012), or roughly twice the number estimated for the Milky Way.  The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in around 4.5 billion years,  merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy ! 

The first U.S. airplane hijacking occurred in 1961. The number of such incidents, also known as skyjackings or air piracies, grew during the 1960s, with 40 attempts made in 1969. Many of the early hijacking incidents involved persons seeking to divert airplanes to Cuba, where they could gain Asylum.  The seizure of a commercial vehicle—airplane, ship, or truck—by force or threat of force is known as hijacking.

Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates, while dedicated ships that are used by them are called pirate ships. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations.  Hijacking is the modern term for "piracy."   The word gained popular currency during Prohibition (1920–33), when bootleggers commandeered truckloads of liquor from each other, and reappeared when political activists began to seize commercial airplanes in the 1960s. 

The Achille Lauro hijacking happened on October 7, 1985, when the Italian cruise ship was hijacked by four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front off the coast of Egypt, as she was sailing from Alexandria to Ashdod, Israel. A 69-year-old Jewish American man in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was murdered by the hijackers and thrown overboard. The hijacking sparked the "Sigonella Crisis". Upon learning of the hijacking and that there were Americans on board, members of the Reagan administration in Washington, D.C., in a time zone seven hours behind Egypt's, moved to take decisive action.  The ship then headed back towards Port Said, and after two days of negotiations, the hijackers agreed to abandon the liner in exchange for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egyptian commercial airliner. This plane, however, was intercepted by US fighter aircraft and directed to land in Sicily, where the hijackers were to be tried for murder, but could not be extradited. The four terrorists were sentenced to prison terms by the Italian courts, while the operation's mastermind, who had not taken part in the actual hijacking, was given passage to Yugoslavia and escaped.

A major incident is today underway after a group of stowaways were discovered hidden aboard an oil tanker as it headed into Southampton, according to reports. Police are currently dealing with the 'security incident', which reportedly involves a group of 'at least' seven stowaways, on a Libyan-registered oil tanker near to the Isle of Wight. A mayday call was made at around 9am today. Crew members are reportedly sheltering in a safe room on the vessel, named the 'Nave Andromeda'. However lawyers representing the vessel's owners, which had come from Nigeria, today told the BBC the incident was '100 per cent not a hijacking'.

The crude oil tanker is currently to the south of Bembridge. Police have set up a five mile exclusion zone.  Home Secretary Priti Patel is being kept up-to-date on the incident, according to Sky News. Officers and coastguard crews were called after a group of stowaways were reportedly discovered on a Libyan-registered ship as it made its way to Southampton.     The Libyan-registered ship named ‘ Nave Andromeda’  is a crude oil tanker and was   seen taking a ziz-zag type path near to the Isle of Wight. The vessel was due to be heading to Southampton this morning.  According to reports, a UK coastguard helicopter could be  seen circling the tanker, as seen on Flight Tracker, while the 748-foot vessel has made a number of zig-zags in the area, according to Marine Traffic.

A restriction zone of five nautical miles is now in place around the vessel, while a coastguard helicopter is also circling the ship, according to Sky News. A spokeswoman for Associated British Ports (ABP), which runs Southampton port, said they had not had any contact with the vessel and they had no further comment. The Coastguard said: 'We are currently assisting Hampshire Constabulary with an incident on board a vessel situated off the Isle of Wight. 'The search and rescue helicopters from Lee on Solent and Lydd are in attendance.' The incident will likely lead to involvement from the Royal Navy and the Special Boat Service.  

The Nave Andromeda was built in 2011 and weighs 42,338 tonnes. It was last known to be docked in Lagos, Nigeria on October 6. It was scheduled to arrive at Southampton at 10.30am on 25.10.2020. Speaking about the incident to Sky News today, Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, Bob Seely, said marine counter-terrorism forces will likely be called in, while a COBR meeting is likely to be held, or has been already. He said: 'They will be looking at the ship's registration, who's on it, what it is carrying, how many stowaways there are, can they get in contact with the crew if they can't get in contact with the skipper.'  He said authorities are also likely to be planning how to get onto the ship.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25.10.2020 @10.43 pm. 

Thirukkural 'Impartiality' ~ நடுவு நிலைமை : Rituraj shines in CSK win and memes on MSD

For us the immortal words of Sage Thiruvalluvar ie.,  Thirukkural will always ring a bell.  To those who have not read much, “Thiruk Kural”, is a classic of couplets or Kurals (1330 rhyming Tamil couplets) authored by Sage Thiruvalluvar.  Kural literally means "short verse", and is typified by the Venpa metre that consists of two lines. Thirukkural is a great source of knowledge – 1330 couplets structured in 133 adhikarams [chapters], grouped in 3 sections – Aram (righteousness). Porul (wealth) and Kamam or Inbam (pleasure). 

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit of the oil palms, primarily the African oil palm Elaeis guineensis, and to a lesser extent from the American oil palm Elaeis oleifera and the maripa palm Attalea maripa.   In India, we have a different one – the ‘palmolein’.  The fad for this oil was so high a couple of decades ago, that the Govt. was importing them in bulk tankers and redistributing to households, who were using this oil moving away from dalda vanaspathi, groundnut oil, gingelly oil, bran oil and other cooking oils. Now refined oils like sunflower, olive, safflower, avocado have all taken over. 

Ever heard of ‘Clever brand’ ~ the other day whilst waiting at signal near City Centre, saw 3 cartons placed on a two-wheeler that was standing in front of me. The curiosity of the carton, made me take a photo and later read its contents and came to know that - Kumar Agro has been in the field of oil industry for more that three decades.  Their manufacturing of palmolein oil under the the name Clever refined palm oil  !

How biased are WE !  .. .. in this World of Social media, every second, we find posts, tweets, and memes which smack of partisan attitude !!

IPL in the Gulf has been far more interesting .. .. In its inaugural year in 2008, underdogs Rajasthan Royals had a spectacular run, winning 11 out of 14 games in the group stage. Standout efforts from Watson, Sohail Tanvir, Pathan and the captain, Warne, all through the season helped them lift the trophy, defeating MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in the final.  This year the same two teams are lying at the bottom of the table !  .. ..

This is no Cricket post as such but the ‘partiality’ that exists in human minds.  Supporting any team is OK but the amount of taunting the mercurial MSD and CSK are undergoing this year is immeasurable ! ..  they have lost matches in row but at last won today against RCB. After this win, (till the match between RR & MI) is over – RR is at the bottom most but what a team they have – the best pacer who instills fear in the batsman Jofra Archer, all rounder England Captain Ben Stokes, Internationally acclaimed batsmen Jos Butler & Steve Smith, supported by Indian batters – Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson,  Riyan Parag and big six hitting Rahul Tewatia – yet they have so far lost 7 of their 11 matches ! ~ honestly tell me, is there any meme on Steve Smith, criticism on his style of leadership ?why MS Dhoni  is singled out ?? ie., sheer partiality !

Last year read a newsitem on this boy -  "Mahi bhai, Andre Russell scoop aur paddle nahi karta. Short fine leg hataake deep square laga sakte the [Mahi bhai, Andre Russell doesn't play the scoop or the paddle. We could have removed the short fine-leg and put a deep square-leg instead]."  -  that reportedly was Ruturaj Gaikwad who had not played a single game telling his Captain MSD.   "Sharp cricket mind," Dhoni told Gaikwad!

This year he was in trouble right from the start – as CSK trained in Dubai, he had to be isolated and later returned back to   the team's bio bubble after returning two Covid-19 negative tests.  In his first match he was run out for a duck; then scored 5 against Delhi Capitals and was again out for a duck against MI .. .. but today, he played some sparkling strokes and anchored the   the chase with an unbeaten 51-ball 65 while Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu brought urgency at the other end.

In some ways, CSK were done in even before the start of the Tournament for their squad had been shaped and built  for  the slow, turning pitches at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. One must appreciate MSD for still being cool and keeping his expressions under hold.

Moving away to the theme ‘impartiality’ -  Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy recently wrote  an unprecedented letter to the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde making shocking allegations against the second-senior-most judge of the Supreme Court – Justice NV Ramana, accusing him of attempting to influence the High Courts due to his proximity with TDP chief and former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu.  In an 8-page letter written to CJI SA Bobde on October 6, the Andhra Pradesh CM has pointed out Justice Ramana’s alleged “proximity” to TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and mentioned about an Anti-Corruption Bureau investigation into the “questionable transactions of land” involving two daughters of Justice Ramana and others in Amaravati.

~ and miles away, in UK – BBC’s  impartiality is under threat from all sides. The corporation is in danger of commercial censorship, wrote a columnist alleging that   BBC TV news is increasingly cautious, and stating that  journalists are asking the wrong questions.  BBC has always been partial and one-sided reporting news about India.  For British, India is under-developed and land of snakecharmers, where still rustics live !  ..  .. .. many news items would showcase that British too is unsafe and lot of bad things occurring. 

The noun ‘impartiality’  - is the opposite of   equal treatment of all rivals or disputants; fairness. Read with interest an article titled ‘the biggest threat to the BBC’s independence is the corporation itself’.  However, if “impartial” means to represent the values of a notional political centre then the BBC is hardly likely to secure itself there, as this centre has been racing to the right for more than 40 years in the UK and globally.  Political power lies more firmly than ever in the grip of the hard right via its monopolies in high finance and the commercial media.  They don’t want balance, they want possession. The modern day media, the newspapers do not report the news: they create it. Every day, massive events happen: environmental disasters, theft and fraud by the very rich, power grabs and attacks on democracy. Instead of reporting them, the newspapers concoct scandals out of marginal topics, or out of thin air.  News in the UK is the propaganda of the oligarch, amplified by the BBC.

Now read this Thirukkural ~ this couplet was written on the middle carton of ‘Clever Palmolein’ that interested me .. ..

கெடுவல்யான் என்பது அறிக  தன்நெஞ்சம்

நடுவொரீஇ அல்ல செயின்.

நடுவுநிலைமை தவறிச் செயல்படலாம் என்று ஒரு நினைப்பு ஒருவனுக்கு வந்து விடுமானால் அவன் கெட்டொழியப் போகிறான் என்று அவனுக்கே தெரியவேண்டும்.

பால்: அறத்துப்பால்;   அதிகாரம்:  நடுவு நிலைமை; குறள் 116:

Thiruvalluvar says the moment one’s heart knows and feels that they are not fair and are feeling partial, it is a clear indication that he is heading for evil and bad.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Indian History ~ Gandhi's defeat in Gujarati Sahitya Parishad elections !

History was read with interest during school days .. .. it was Mughals, British colonization and how Congress got us freedom.  One feels that so many needed details were lost as they were never part of our text books.  For example, ever read of Lunavada State ? – there were Princely States and this too was one which acceded to Union of India in 1948.   

The leader who got us freedom - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar (Sudamapuri), a coastal town on the Kathiawar Peninsula and then part of the small princely state of Porbandar in the Kathiawar Agency of the Indian Empire.  Here is some history of the man himself ! .. ..

On 10 Aug 1888, Gandhi aged 18, left Porbandar for Bombay. In few months,  he sailed from Bombay to London, with his brother seeing him off. Gandhi attended University College, London which is a constituent college of University of London. Gandhi, at age 22, was called to the bar in 1891 and then left London for India, where he learned that his mother had died while he was in London and that his family had kept the news from him.  His attempts at establishing a law practice in Bombay failed because he was psychologically unable to cross-examine witnesses ! He returned to Rajkot to make a modest living drafting petitions for litigants.  In 1893, a merchant in Kathiawar named Dada Abdullah engaged Gandhi for his  distant cousin in Johannesburg as they preferred someone with Kathiawari heritage. Gandhi was offered a total salary of £105  .. ..later with the turn of events, he was to return to India in 1915.   Gandhi took the leadership of Congress in 1920 and had all been portrayed as a successful person, whom the British feared most  

The not so highlighted fact  is inside Congress, Gandhi and Nehru had a clash with Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose who had been elected President in 1938.  Despite Gandhi's opposition, Bose won a second term as Congress President, against Gandhi's nominee, Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya; but left the Congress when the All-India leaders resigned en masse in protest of his abandonment of the principles introduced by Gandhi. Gandhi declared that Sitaramayya's defeat was his defeat but by mass resignations ensured that Bose left and Congress was in their reigns.

Ever heard of - Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (Gujarati Literary Council)  ?   It was founded by Ranjitram Mehta with the aim of creating Gujarati  literature appealing to all classes of society and cultivating a literary sense among the people. Parab is the monthly magazine of the Parishad.  Rao Bahadur Hargovinddas Dwarkadas Kantawala (1844 – 1930) was a Gujarati writer, editor and  researcher  on medieval Gujarati literature. He was the president of the sixth session of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad.

Hargovinddas Kantawala was born on 16 July 1844 in Umreth, a town in Kaira district (now Kheda) of Gujarat. He started his career as a teacher, and then became headmaster.   He was later  appointed assistant deputy educational inspector, and then principal of the Teacher's Training College, Rajkot. He worked as the dewan (minister) of the principality of Lunavada State in 1905. In 1912, he started a textile mill.  Kantawala was awarded the title of Rao Bahadur by the government in 1903. He was awarded Sahityamartand by Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda State.   In the elections to Gujarati Sahitya Parishad in 1919, he  defeated Mahatma Gandhi  and presided the sixth session of the Parishad.  He wrote two novels: Andheri Nagarino Gardhavasen (1881) and Be Baheno athava Ek Gharsansari Varta (Two Sisters or A Tale of a Family Life; 1898). He wrote a poem titled "Panipat" or "Kurukshetra" (1867), which gives an account of the six battles fought on the battlefield of Panipat.  His other poetical work is Vishwa Ni Vichitrata (Strange Things of Universe; 1913).  In addition, he extensively wrote about social problems, social reforms, moral issues, worldly duties, and promotion of indigenous crafts.

Gandhi contested again won the post in 1925 but his relations with the city of Ahmebadad in Gujarat was sore. .. .. in fact, in life, he perhaps had stayed away  from the city of Ahmedabad was definitive. His last day in Ahmedabad was on 2 Nov 1936.  On 31 October that year, he had presided over the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad, a body that formally came into existence in 1905. It had required strenuous persuasion for Gandhi to assent to be the president of the parishad’s 12th session.   Neither the literary figures nor the wealthy merchant capitalists who had gathered at the Parishad were oblivious to the fact that, in 1917, Gandhi had been frustrated in his attempt to be chosen as the president of the Parishad. The literary classes of Gujarat had preferred an officer of the Baroda State.  By 1936, the Parishad was somewhat, just somewhat, embarrassed by its earlier choice.    

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Thursday, October 22, 2020

15 crore mobile sets heist .. .. cargo lost in transit - Prudence and Insurance !!


Covid 19 has maimed the economy, they say ! .. .. but there are sales – and yesterday a textile showroom witnessed thousands thronging and subsequently sealed by authorities ! – it is stated that there aren’t many options if you want a smaller smartphone, with Apple’s iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone SE 2020, and the Google Pixel 5 being three of the more prominent recent examples.  In every web, am inundated with news of OnePlus 8 (6GB, 128GB)  selling at Rs. 39,999 (MRP Rs. 41,999)  

Amazon Great Indian Festival 2020 and Flipkart Big Billion Days sales kicked off last week to mark the Navratri festive season ahead of Diwali. Both Amazon and Flipkart sales promise the “lowest” prices on popular smartphones ! and high discounts in Electronics and many other items – people are on a purchasing spree !     Apart from discounts, these sales also tempt with a bunch of  bundled offers that can further lower the effective price of these deals.  Sales and market activity are good for the Nation, someone said !

Insurers  evaluate the risk and the premium is based on exposure, the probable chance of occurrence, frequency and severity.  Burglary insurance provides indemnity for loss or damage to property insured from the premises insured directly resultant from acts of burglary. There is risk of theft /burglary during Marine transits too.  From an Insurance angle, it is not the value of the goods,  alone that matters.  Goods that can be sold easily in retail and grey markets [eg. Cigarette packs / batteries] are bad risks as compared to those which cannot be sold easily [eg. Special medicines].  Smaller items with high value [eg.,diamond rings] are worser risk than bulky items like machinery. Again those who have ready market in retail [eg mobile phones] are  bad risks as compared to those which cannot be sold so easily [say precision machinery].  In contrast, exhibition items / objects with antique value are higher risks unless proper security arrangements are in place.

Goods are moved from one place to another either due to sale or otherwise – the movement involves a Carrier and insurance of such goods in transportation is ‘Marine (Cargo) Insurance’ covering perils that could affect the cargo during the transit.  The primary duty of the carrier is to transport and handover the goods at destination, much in the same manner as they were entrusted .. .. .. there could be some loss or damage occurring during transit and the Carrier would try to protect themselves through the provisions of enactments ! Goods may not be delivered at destination – risk of non-delivery : dictionary meaning :  goods as handed to carrier not received at destination i.e., not delivered by them.  It can arise out of host of factors including fire, theft, neglect, failure, refusal to deliver, wrongful acts of employees handling and more – on the part of carrier, vendor, bailee et al.

Until 1824, Lloyd's and two insurance companies, the London Assurance and the Royal Exchange Insurance, were the only entities allowed by law to conduct marine insurance business in the United Kingdom.  Lot evolved after that with the expansion in the no. of companies and types offered.  For long it was the  historic S.G. form, which had its own origins in the 17th Century.

How prudent are people ?  -  long ago (in early 1990s) a famous Manufacturing Unit at Tuticorin imported equipments worth 30 lakhs (huge value those days) and from airport, they were taken to Tuticorin being booked as parcel in ‘passenger bus’ on payment of Rs.85/-  The goods were lost in transit, the Carriers had to pay nothing and Insurers too repudiated the claim !

Though it would appear that it is the responsibility of the Carrier to deliver safely, some might be startled to know that as per  Sec 12 of Carriage by Road Rules 2011 – the liability of the Carrier for loss or damage of the goods is restricted to 10 times the freight !  If the value is declared to the Carrier and freight paid to that effect, their liability would be the value of cargo !.  Insurers thus end up paying huge value claims without recourse of recovery against the carriers, rather the value of recovery would be very small proportion of the value of the claim. Generally, Insures restrict their exposure by ‘per bottom limit’ ie., the limit per sending ie., the maximum value of a specific consignment per conveyance and there is another restriction of ‘per location’ limit too.  BUT – no such restriction would apply when the coverage is a specific transit policy ie., when value / transit / details are specific to a single transit.

With this lengthy background, now read the newsitem in Times of India and Daily Thanthi, Chennai edition.  Ten men hijacked a truck carrying Rs 15 crore worth of mobile phones from Chennai to Mumbai after attacking and tying up the driver and cleaner near Krishnagiri in the wee hours of Wednesday. The gang members, all of them heard speaking among themselves in Hindi, later abandoned the truck after transferring the loot to their vehicle and dumping the driver and cleaner.

“As many as 14,400 mobile phones in 1,440 boxes from a Redmi mobile phone unit at Poonamallee in Chennai were being transported by DHL Express,” said C Murali, Hosur DSP. K Sathish Kumar, 29, of Poonamallee was at the wheel and N Arun, 24, of Coimbatore was the cleaner. Sathish Kumar left Poonamalle around 3pm on Tuesday and after a halt for dinner at Vellore around 8pm resumed the journey around 10.30pm. Around 2am on Wednesday, when the truck neared Melumalai, a hilly area between Krishnagiri and Shoolagiri on the the Chennai-Bengaluru national highway, another truck blocked the way and six men got in. “They attacked Sathish Kumar and Arun before blindfolding them and tying their hands and feet. They then set out in the same truck,” the DSP said.  A few minutes later, the gang stopped the truck on the road side and four others from the second truck joined them and the trussed-up driver and the cleaner were taken out and dumped in a clump of bushes some distance from the road. “The two trucks then drove to Azagupavi, 8km from Melumalai, where the DHL Express truck was found,” the DSP added. The 10 men did not cover their faces and they all appeared to be from other states,” the DSP said, based on Sathish Kumar’s statement during inquiry.

A little while later, Satish Kumar and Arun managed to cut their bonds and came on to the road. They stopped an ambulance of the 108 service and narrated their plight. The driver took them to the government hospital in Krishnagiri town. Later, he helped Sathish Kumar inform the Hosur town police of the heist. Soon Murali, Soolagiri inspector Saravanan and other officers arrived at the spot. Salem range DIG Pradip Kumar and Krishnagiri SP Bandi Gangadhar reached there. “We have formed 17 teams to nab the culprits,” Pradip Kumar told TOI. The gang members had left no clue but investigators were scouring footage from CCTV cameras at the spot in an attempt to identify the truck and the thieves.The Soolagiri police registered a case.

Most likely this transit too was insured and this would result in 15 Crores + customary uplift of 10% over the value, as insured under the policy.  Most unlikely that Insurers would have sought additional details nor restricted such high value transit in a single truck or imposed any additional condition / warranty on safety / security .. .. ..

This is not the first time, in Aug 20,   in broad daylight, a gang of 6-7 robbers who followed a truck carrying mobile phones consignment from Chennai to Mumbai, waylaid the truck and robbed off mobile phones worth approximately Rs. 6 crore near Nagari along the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border.  According to Nagari Circle inspector, a truck with Maharashtra registration number MH 04 HD 6477, carrying a consignment of 15,000 mobile phones was on its way to Maharashtra from Sriperumbudur in Chennai.   On that occasion too, a  gang of robbers had  followed the vehicle from its originating point, waylaid the truck after it passed the last Tamil Nadu checkpost and entered the state of Andhra Pradesh, near Nagari. The gang of robbers  thrashed the driver and pushed him off the truck, tied him up and hijacked the vehicle along with the mobile phones consignment.

There are lessons to be learnt in every situation, every loss .. .. .. who learns decides their fate!  If one continues to face situations in the same manner, results could no longer be different !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Covid vaccine ~ challenges in storage, transport, administration and insurance !!

Corona, the global pandemic has already caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and disrupted the lives of billions more. As well as reducing the tragic loss of life and helping to get the pandemic under control, introduction of a vaccine will prevent the loss of billions to the global economy every month. Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defences --- the immune system--- to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target.  If the body is exposed to those disease-causing germs later, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.   Immunization currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza and measles. There are now vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases, and work is ongoing at unprecedented speed to also make COVID-19 a vaccine-preventable disease.

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease.  A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins. The agent stimulates the body's immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future. Vaccines can be prophylactic (to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or "wild" pathogen), or therapeutic (to fight a disease that has already occurred, such as cancer).  The administration of vaccines is called vaccination. Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases.

The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Edward Jenner (who both developed the concept of vaccines and created the first vaccine) to denote cowpox. He used the phrase in 1798 for the long title of his Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against smallpox

Hopefully the vaccines should be invented and hit the market in a few more months, after which mankind may be able to fight and win over the Covid.  That would also require mass production, millions of vaccines, the manufacture, pricing, handling, transportation, warehousing, distribution – are all going to be big challenges.  This would be new business for manufacturers, pharma giants, distributors, logistics handlers and Insurers too.  A couple of months ago, came the news that Lloyd’s of London, the world’s largest insurance market, plans to begin offering coverage of coronavirus vaccine deliveries. Parsyl Inc., a U.S. insurance technology company, has teamed up with Lloyd’s to provide policies covering the storage and shipping of potential Covid-19 vaccines and other medicines, according to a Lloyd’s statement.  Vaccine delivery can be expensive to insure because underwriters are concerned about the risk of medicines being spoiled by excessive heat or cold. There are possible losses due to thefts and attacks too.  The new business, known as Syndicate 1796, was developed by Parsyl together with insurers Ascot Group and a unit of AXA SA, broker McGill & Partners and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an international public health group that focuses on delivering new vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

It is further reported that  Pharmaceutical companies and health authorities will store COVID-19 vaccines in secret locations to prevent theft as vaccine makers plan to deploy GPS software to track distribution and plot fake shipments to confuse criminals.  Pfizer Inc. is among the vaccine makers that will have GPS software on shipments, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company is also planning to carry out fake shipments in dummy trucks in a bid to confuse any potential thieves.  The safeguards are being put in place amid concerns that the highly-awaited vaccines could be stolen when being distributed.  Health authorities fear criminal rings will try and steal the vaccine when it is being given to prioritized groups like health care workers and before it is made publicly available.

Moderna, another maker, says it has enhanced security as the leading candidates inch closer to having a vaccine.   'You are going to have people that will want to have access to the vaccine earlier,' said Juan Andres, who is Moderna's chief of technical operations.  Glass maker Corning Inc., which was given federal funding earlier this year to boost manufacturing of vials to store COVID-19 vaccines, will fit its vials with black-light verification to stamp out potential fake treatments.  There are also a number of other safeguards being considered across the country to protect the vaccine. Manufactures in some states plan to ship the vaccine straight to hospitals and other approved sites to prevent road stops. Empty dummy trucks and GPS locators are also an option.  Some hospitals are also increasing security within their pharmacies. Philadelphia's Jefferson Health hospital system has already committed to installing security cameras, cages and keypad authorizations for freezer rooms where the vaccine will be stored.

It comes as a Food and Drug Administration meeting on COVID-19 vaccines that is scheduled for Thursday will discuss criteria for allowing emergency use of a COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and AstraZeneca could provide early analyses of late-stage trials of their experimental vaccines as early as this month or the next.  The FDA earlier this month told coronavirus vaccine developers it wants at least two months of safety data before authorizing emergency use, a requirement that likely pushes any U.S. vaccine availability past the Nov. 3 presidential election. The meeting, which is open to the public for comments, is another example of steps health regulators are taking to assuage public distrust related to coronavirus vaccines, that are being developed at unprecedented speed.

There are no approved vaccines for the coronavirus, except two in Russia that are yet to finish Phase 3 clinical testing.

                                     Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro overruled his own health minister today, rejecting the announced purchase of 46 million doses of CoronaVac, a potential vaccine against COVID-19 being tested in Sao Paulo state. Health minister Eduardo Pazuello announced the purchase on Tuesday alongside Sao Paulos Gov. Joo Doria, a foe of Bolsonaros whose state government is participating in the vaccines development. The cost of the acquisition was estimated at 2 billion Brazilian reals ($360 million).

The Brazilian people will not be anyones guinea pig, Bolsonaro said on his social media channels, adding that the shot made by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac is yet to finish its testing phase which is true of all potential vaccines. My decision is to not purchase such a vaccine. It is common practice for governments to purchase doses of promising vaccines, to build a stockpile in case they are proven effective. That investment is usually not refundable if the shot fails. Brazil counts more than 153,000 deaths by COVID-19, second only to the United States. The South American nation also confirmed 5.2 million cases of the disease, the third biggest in the world, behind the U.S. and India.

Bolsonaro and Doria have had an adversarial relationship since the start of the pandemic, with each taking opposite stances regarding stay-at-home recommendations and restrictions on activity. The governor of Brazils most populous state heeded the counsel of public health experts and adopted such measures, which the president blasted, arguing the economic fallout could kill more than the disease.

With regards – S  Sampathkumar