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Supply chain crisis risks taking the global economy down with it

Last year the global economy came juddering to a halt. This year it got moving again, only to become stuck in one of history’s biggest traffic jams.

New indicators developed by Bloomberg Economics underscore the extremity of the problem, the world’s failure to find a quick fix, and how in some regions the Big Crunch of 2021 is still getting worse.

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The research quantifies what’s apparent to the naked eye across much of the planet — in supermarkets with empty shelves, ports where ships are backed up far offshore, or car plants where output is held back by a lack of microchips. Looming over all of these: rising price tags on almost everything.

Central banks, already retreating from their view that inflation is “transitory,” may be forced to counter rising prices with earlier-than-expected interest-rate hikes. That poses new threats to an already stumbling recovery, and could take the air out of bubbly equity and property prices.

Behind the logjams lies a mix of overloaded transportation networks, shortages of labor at key chokepoints, and demand in the U.S. that’s been bolstered by pandemic stimulus and focused more on goods than services.

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It’s not just a problem of moving stuff around. The world is still struggling to make enough stuff too.

Producers have been caught off-guard by this year’s rebound after they slashed orders of materials last year, when consumers stopped spending.

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In Vietnam, plants that make Nike shoes had to scale back output because migrant workers had decamped to their home provinces out of fear of Covid-19. China, the world’s manufacturing powerhouse, is confronting new virus outbreaks and responding with targeted lockdowns. Its factory prices are rising at a 10% annual rate, the fastest since the 1990s.

Pulling all these pieces together, the Bloomberg Economics supply indexes show shortages just off a 20-year high in the U.S. Gauges for the U.K. and euro area are at a similarly elevated level.

The measures are based on a range of data, from factory gate prices to the ratio of inventory-to-sales for retailers, and the backlog of orders for service-sector firms. Readings of zero indicate normal conditions, negative ones mean goods are abundant, and positive points to constraints. The gauges show an abrupt shift from excess supply before the Covid crisis to today’s significant shortages.

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For global manufacturers like Toyota — which slashed September production by more than a third from 2020 levels as shortages stalled its famed just-in-time production process — as well as the firms that move their products around the globe, and the shoppers waiting for deliveries, the big question now is: when will the disruptions end?

Even giants like Amazon and Apple — used to bending supply chains to their will — don’t see the situation improving fast. Amazon said its entire fourth-quarter profit could be wiped out by a surge in the cost of labor and fulfillment. Apple said it lost $6 billion in sales because of inability to meet demand, and could lose more next quarter.

Shipping conditions should start to ease after the Chinese New Year in early February, “although disruptions could last at least till the middle of next year,” said Shanella Rajanayagam, a trade economist at HSBC. Even then, with pent-up demand and inventory restocking keeping the pressure on, Rajanayagam says it could still take some time for supply chains to fully disentangle.

What comes next is uncharted territory partly because of the sheer number of bottlenecks along the route from assembly lines to shopping baskets. As one supplier waits for another to deliver, the delays are feeding on each other.

Logistics systems usually ride the ups and downs of the global economy in a predictable pattern: Rising demand boosts trade, pushing shipping rates up and heralding good times for cargo carriers, until they over-build capacity and a bust follows.

But the pandemic has thrown that cycle out of whack. Even amid signs of slowing growth, the pipeline of international commerce has never been so clogged.

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The more than 70 ships anchored off Los Angeles, for example, are loaded with enough 20-foot containers full of goods to stretch from Southern California to Chicago if laid end to end.

And even when those vessels get to dock, their payloads will only slam into the thousands already stuck in the ports waiting for a ride inland. That will require more truckers and trailers in the short run.

A longer-term fix means getting Covid-19 under control, building new infrastructure such as more efficient ports, and improving technology for digital transactions and faster communication.

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Elsewhere in the world, shipping bottlenecks have often followed severe weather and virus outbreaks, like the recent Covid-19 flareup in Singapore. An analysis of port congestion showed the backlog Monday in that city-state center of finance and logistics was elevated, with 53 container ships at anchor, the highest count since Bloomberg started tracking the data in April.

That’s a problem for the U.S., where the clothes and home electronics that fill up shoppers’ carts rely on foreign inputs and assembly. And with vaccination rates in many Asian countries still low, it’s a problem that won’t disappear anytime soon.

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“For the supply chain to recover, it is going to require a certain amount of luck” — avoiding weather disasters or new Covid hotspots — “plus time and investment to add more logistics capacity,” said Simon Heaney, senior manager for container research at Drewry in London.

For a global economy exiting the deepest recession in recent history, supply shortages caused in part by strong demand are a good problem to have. Clearly worse would be the opposite one: abundant supply because economies remained depressed, with millions more unemployed.

But this least-bad option is still creating plenty of problems of its own.

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Inflation is already running high enough to be outside the comfort zone for monetary policy makers. In the U.S., it’s at 5.4% now and could stay lodged in the 4% to 5% range next year if supply constraints don’t ease, according to Bloomberg Economics models.

That doesn’t mean the world is in for a re-run of 1970s-style stagflation. It took a decade of overheating and policy missteps to drive U.S. inflation above 10% back then. The Fed and its peers are unlikely to make the same mistakes again. And unemployment is far below its 1970s peaks, and falling.

Still, the current environment — call it stagflation-lite — is a challenging one for central bankers.

Keeping rates at their current lows would allow the recovery to continue, but risk prices spiraling higher if households and businesses come to expect more of the same. Tightening would quell inflation not by addressing inadequate supply, but rather by stifling demand. It could turn into the monetary policy equivalent of the surgeon who declares: “Operation successful, patient dead.”

Traders are currently pricing in two Fed rate hikes in 2022, two more than the median member of the Federal Open Market Committee. A Bloomberg Economics model of the Fed’s reaction function — its policy response to changes in the economy — suggests that if inflation runs strong and unemployment falls, even two hikes next year might not be enough.

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Of course, predictions of rapid monetary tightening have been consistently wrong in the past, and they could be again. Demand for goods might cool as pandemic stimulus fades or fears of tighter financial conditions erode confidence. A rotation of spending from goods back to services, already under way in the U.S., will lessen the imbalance between constrained supply and booming demand. A sustained slowdown in China might hit commodity prices.

And supply chains could unsnarl quicker than expected, too. The Bloomberg gauge of shortages in the U.S. has edged down in the latest readings — while staying at historically elevated levels. It’s just that there’s no precedent that sheds much light on when, or how, conditions will normalize.

“The current situation is unique and quite different from the more isolated disruptions the world has experienced,” said John Butler, president of the World Shipping Council, which represents the biggest ocean freight carriers. “The way in which the current congestion ultimately unwinds will also be different.”

Novel antibody reduces severity of COVID-19 infection: Study

Scientists have identified and tested an antibody that limits the severity of infections from a variety of coronaviruses, including those that cause COVID-19 as well as the SARS illness. The study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on Tuesday, isolated the antibody by analysing blood from a patient who had been infected with the SARS-CoV-1 virus, which caused the SARS outbreak, and from a current COVID-19 patient.

“This antibody has the potential to be a therapeutic for the current epidemic,” said study co-senior author Barton Haynes, director of Duke University Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), US.

“It could also be available for future outbreaks, if or when other coronaviruses jump from their natural animal hosts to humans,” Haynes said.

The researchers identified over 1,700 antibodies, which the immune system produces to bind at specific sites on specific viruses to block the pathogen from infecting cells.

When viruses mutate, many binding cites are altered or eliminated, leaving antibodies ineffectual, they said.

However, the researchers noted that there are often sites on the virus that remain unchanged despite mutations.

They focused on antibodies that target these sites because of their potential to be highly effective across different lineages of a virus.

Of the 1,700 antibodies from the two inpiduals, the researchers found 50 antibodies that had the ability to bind to both the SARS-CoV-1 virus as well as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Further analysis found that one of those cross-binding antibodies was able to bind to a multitude of animal coronaviruses in addition to the two human-infecting pathogens.

“This antibody binds to the coronavirus at a location that is conserved across numerous mutations and variations,” Haynes said.

“As a result, it can neutralise a wide range of coronaviruses,” he explained.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), US, tested the antibody in mice to determine whether it could effectively block or minimise the infections.

They found that when given before the animals were infected, the antibody protected mice against developing SARS, COVID-19 and its variants such as Delta.

The researchers also found that the antibody provide protection from many animal coronaviruses that have the potential to cause human pandemics.

“The findings provide a template for the rational design of universal vaccine strategies that are variant-proof and provide broad protection from known and emerging coronaviruses,” said study co-senior author Ralph S Baric, a professor at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

When given after infections, the antibody reduced severe lung symptoms compared to animals that were not treated with the antibody, according to the researchers.

“The therapeutic activity even after mice were infected suggests that this could be a treatment deployed in the current pandemic, but also stockpiled to prevent the spread of a future epidemic with a SARS-related virus,” said David Martinez, a post-doctoral researcher at UNC’s Gillings School.

“This antibody could be harnessed to prevent maybe SARS-CoV-3 or SARS-CoV-4,” Martinez added.

India poised to grow electronics manufacturing to $300 billion in 3-4 years

Post Covid, India has a unique opportunity to gain market share from other geographies to further cement its position as a electronics manufacturing hub and government will do “whatever it takes” in order to help attract global value chains (GVC) and manufacturing giants to the country, said minister of electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar. He was speaking at the launch of a report titled ‘Increasing India’s electronics exports and share in GVCs on Tuesday. He also said that India’s approach should not be just pricing led.

“The country has the ability to use its strengths in electronic design, system design software design, along with electronic manufacturing, which very few other countries have as a competitive advantage,” said Chandrasekhar.

MEITY Secretary Ajay Sawhney said that despite the very serious nature of the pandemic and the impact it had across all the industries, India was able to maintain its overall production at $75 billion in 2021 and aims to reach $250 billion in five years, with a CAGR of 27%. “And that is where we need to now revisit and reassess what we are attempting to do, how do we change our course? What do we do differently? To be able to sustain this level of growth,” said Sawhney.

The report by ICEA recommends a series of measures including increasing the scale of production and having an export oriented approach along with reducing tariffs for inputs and reducing policy-related operational burden and delays.

Chandrasekhar said that the government is committed to supporting the industry and will “respond very fast” to the industry recommendations. “We will look into this very seriously and (act on) what we believe is important and material to accelerating the growth of electronics.” “Our goal on becoming a significant electronics player is a very serious and real one. The opportunity is very serious and real, the timelines are very clearly defined. So whatever it takes to create those investments, to create those jobs, to create that economic activity, we will do,” he said.

He also said that rough calculations suggest that only four companies, Dell, Samsung Apple and HP, amount to $650 billion of total electronics revenues; there is no reason why at least 10% or 20% of that should not come from products manufactured in India. It will help increase the share of electronics to India’s GDP from the current 3% today.

“I think we are going to be entering in a very different competitive regime in terms of expanding a product category, in terms of new markets, new types of customers and consumers of our products. And (we have tremendous ability) to gain market share from other geographies and other countries that manufacture those products,” said Chandrasekhar.

Maharashtra logs 809 COVID-19 cases, lowest after May 2, 2020; 10 fatalities

Maharashtra on Monday reported 809 fresh COVID-19 cases, the lowest additions in a day after May 2, 2020, and ten fatalities, a health department official said. The tally of cases now stands at 66,11,887 and the death toll at 1,40,226, he said.

On May 2, 2020, Maharashtra had recorded 790 cases.

On Sunday (October 31), the state recorded 1,172 cases and 20 fatalities.

A total of 1,901 patients were discharged in the last 24 hours, taking the number of recoveries in Maharashtra to 64,52,486 so far, leaving the state with 15,552 active cases.

Maharashtra’s case recovery rate now stands at 97.59 per cent and the fatality rate is 2.12 per cent.

The cumulative number of tests conducted so far in Maharashtra rose to 6,27,52,687 on Monday with 85,476 samples being examined in the last 24 hours, the lowest in the recent past, the official said.

In Maharashtra, 15 districts and nine municipal corporations did not report any new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Several districts and municipal corporations logged new cases in a single digit.

Mumbai district reported the highest 258 new infections, followed by Ahmednagar with 74 cases.

Among the eight regions in Maharashtra, the Mumbai region reported the highest 428 fresh cases, followed by 187 cases in the Pune region.

For the first time, the Nagpur region did not report any fresh COVID-19 case.

Among other regions, the Nashik region reported 132 cases, Kolhapur 28, Latur 18, Aurangabad 10 and Akola one, the official said.

At four, the Mumbai region reported the highest number of fatalities among the eight regions. Pune region and Latur region reported two deaths each due to COVID-19. One fatality each was reported from Nashik and Kolhapur.

Aurangabad region, Nagpur region and Akola region did not report any COVID-19 death in the last 24-hours, the official said.

Mumbai city witnessed 258 new infections. Pune city added 50 cases but no fresh fatality was reported.

Among 15,552 active patients in Maharashtra, the Mumbai district has the highest 4,503 active cases, the official said.

Among 64,52,486 recovered patients in Maharashtra, the highest number of recoveries at 11,31,762 is from the Pune district.

Coronavirus figures for Maharashtra are as follows: Total cases 66,11,887, new cases 809, total deaths 1,40,226, fresh deaths: 10, total recoveries 64,52,486, active cases 15,552, total tests conducted 6,27,52,687.

Worsening shortages, high prices restrain US manufacturing activity

WASHINGTON: US manufacturing activity slowed in October, with all industries reporting record-long lead times for raw materials, indicating that stretched supply chains continued to constrain economic activity early in the fourth quarter.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey on Monday also hinted at some moderation in demand amid surging prices, with a measure of new orders dropping to a 16-month low. Still, demand remains strong as retail inventories continue to be depressed, which should keep manufacturing humming.

According to the ISM, “companies and suppliers continue to deal with an unprecedented number of hurdles to meet increasing demand.” The government reported last week that the economy grew at its slowest pace in more than a year in the third quarter because of widespread shortages tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Stress in U.S. supply chains isn’t abating, lending downside risk to our forecast for GDP growth in the near term and a clear upside risk to the forecast for inflation,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The ISM’s index of national factory activity slipped to a reading of 60.8 last month from 61.1 in September. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in manufacturing, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. economy. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index would fall to 60.5.

The ISM reported 26 commodities were in short supply in October, some for as long as 13 straight months. That compared to 24 in September.

The economy is struggling with shortages across industries as global supply chains remain clogged. Supply constraints were worsened by a wave of coronavirus infections driven by the Delta variant over the summer, especially in Southeast Asia. Congestion at ports in China and the United States was also causing delays in getting materials to factories and retailers.

The motor vehicle industry has been the hardest hit amid a global semiconductor shortage. Transportation equipment manufacturers in the ISM survey said they had perted chips “to our higher-margin vehicles and stopped or limited the lower-margin vehicle production schedules.”

Other industries are also hurting. Manufacturers of computer and electronic products reported “extreme delays” and that “getting anything from China is near impossible.” Food manufacturers said “rolling blackouts in China starting to hurt shipments even more.” Makers of electrical equipment, appliances and components said though demand remained strong, production continued “to be held back by supply chain issues.”

The ISM survey’s measure of supplier deliveries increased to a reading of 75.6 last month from 73.4 in September. A reading above 50% indicates slower deliveries. Economists and businesses expect supply chains could remain tight through 2022.

Longer waits for materials meant high inflation at the factory gate persisted. The survey’s measure of prices paid by manufacturers accelerated to 85.7 from a reading of 81.2 in September. Prices increased for 48 commodities last month, with only prices for wood falling. Prices for products like steel have increased for 15 consecutive months.

These higher costs are being passed on to consumers which, together with surging wage growth, is raising concerns that high inflation could be more persistent rather than transitory as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has repeatedly argued. The government reported on Friday that wage growth in the third quarter was the strongest on record.

Fed policymakers are due to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday. The U.S. central bank is expected to announce that it will start reducing the amount of money it is injecting into the economy through monthly bond purchases.

Stocks on Wall Street were trading higher. The dollar fell against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury yields rose.

SHIFTING PARADIGM
The ISM survey’s forward-looking new orders sub-index dropped to 59.8 last month, the lowest reading since June 2020 when COVID-19 lockdowns were in effect, from 66.7 in September. Factories have plenty of unfinished work.

“One interpretation of this dramatic fall could be manufacturers facing a shifting paradigm that accepts supply constraints as a new reality,” said Kurt Rankin, an economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Demand does not appear to be abating, raising the question of whether businesses’ patience and profitability potential is becoming exhausted and that new inventory management techniques and the promise of fewer goods on offer could be emerging.”

Factories hired more workers, with employment expanding for a second straight month. Though manufacturers said they were still struggling to find workers, there were hopeful signs.

According to the survey, “an increasing percentage of comments noted improvements regarding employment, compared to less than 5% in September.” It also noted that “an overwhelming majority of panelists indicate their companies are hiring or attempting to hire.”

This, combined with a jump in consumers’ perceptions of the labor market last month, suggests employment gains accelerated in October after the economy created the fewest jobs in nine months in September. Worker shortages, however, remain a constraint. There were 10.4 million unfilled jobs at the end of August.

The Labor Department is scheduled to publish its closely watched employment report for October on Friday.

A separate report from the Commerce Department on Monday showed construction spending dropped 0.5% in September, which was blamed on shortages and Hurricane Ida in late August.

Still, the spending composition was not as weak as the government had assumed in its advance third-quarter GDP estimate last week. That led some economists to anticipate that third-quarter GDP growth could be revised up to about a 2.2% rate from the published 2.0% pace when the government releases its second estimate later this month.

Nissan reports over three-fold increase in domestic wholesales in October

Automaker Nissan India on Monday said its domestic wholesales rose over three-fold to 3,913 units in October, up from 1,105 units in the same month of last year. The company said its exports last month stood at 3,004 units, compared with 75 units in October 2020.

“The first seven months cumulative sales are higher than the cumulative sales of the last full financial year in spite of the challenges of COVID-19 and semiconductor shortages affecting supplies.

“In continuation of the positive momentum, this festive season has been very good with the channel partners delivering highest monthly retail sales on strong performance of Magnite and Kicks,” Nissan Motor India Managing Director Rakesh Srivastava said in a statement.

Going forward, on the strength of strong bookings of Magnite and the support of the supply chain, the company’s endeavour will be to maintain this growth momentum for the upcoming months, he added.

UAE approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5-11

The United Arab Emirates has approved for emergency use the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11, the health ministry said in a statement carried by state media on Monday.

Before this decision the only vaccine that had been approved for use in very young children was the Sinopharm vaccine which was approved for ages 3-17, with Pfizer shots being available to children above 12.

“The results of clinical studies indicated that the vaccine is safe and has given a strong immune response to children between the age of 5 and 11 years,” the statement said of the Pfizer shots.

It also said people with chronic diseases who previously received Pfizer-BioNtech or the Russia-developed Sputnik vaccinations can now get a third booster shot.

Previously the government had been giving booster shots to people fully vaccinated with Sinopharm vaccines.

COVID-19: Sri Lanka ends domestic travel restrictions amidst warnings

Sri Lanka’s inter-provincial travel ban, which was imposed in May due to the raging third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on Sunday despite warnings from medical professionals. The travel ban was continued despite the government ending the quarantine curfew on October 1, which was continuously in force from August 20.

Public Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama said that transport services would come into operation from Monday.

The lifting of the travel ban came as the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) warned of a possible new wave with restrictions being relaxed.

In a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the SLMA said it was more important than ever before the precise steps are taken at this point of time.

It recommended close monitoring as health guidelines are not being implemented and the general public keeps disregarding them.

They recommend a third dose or a

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vaccine booster to priority groups such as the elderly and the frontline health workers.

The SLMA cited recent studies which have shown that seven per cent of the elderly population, who had been administered with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, have not developed adequate level of immunity against the virus.

With the public movement increasing, the SLMA said that the risk of elderly people getting the virus has increased and they are more prone than other groups to severe conditions and death.

The health ministry’s epidemiology unit said that as of Saturday, over 15.4 million of the island’s 21 million population had received at least one dose. Also, 13.4 million had received both jabs.

Sri Lanka’s death toll since the outbreak in March 2020 stood at near 13,800 with over 540,000 infections.

No need for a Covid booster shot now if people behave, says AIIMS Director Guleria

Vaccination coupled with Covid-appropriate behaviour is the way forward, even as the pandemic wanes and the disease becomes endemic, says Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, in a free-wheeling interview with Prerna Katiyar. Edited excerpts:

The Subject Expert Committee on Covid-19 has recommended vaccination for children. What is the feasibility given that the two vaccines likely to be approved for kids are Covaxin with a pretty low production level, and that Zydus has not started production yet?
The thing to remember in vaccinating children is that healthy children usually have mild disease. Therefore, if we roll it out, we must focus on children with comorbidities as they have a higher chance of dying and having severe illness with hospitalisation. That strategy of prioritisation is being developed just as we did in case of adults. The basic aim of vaccination, even in children, is to avoid severe illness and deaths. Once that is achieved, the next aim will be to decrease cases of mild illness by vaccinating as many people as we can. For children too, it will start with a high-risk group.

FDA has approved booster shots of Moderna and J&J. Are there plans to approve the same and do you think it is necessary?
Currently, I don’t think there is a need for a booster shot. If you look at data emerging from outside where there is still a surge in the number of cases, you find that if the people are vaccinated even with the initial dose, the area is not seeing a surge in hospitalisation or large breakthrough infection. This suggests that the vaccine is holding out and is still effective in preventing severe disease or deaths. So the priority should be to vaccinate as many people as we can with the first doses rather than giving additional doses to people, especially when we do not know how much it will benefit unless we find a high number of breakthrough cases in the elderly or a particular group which currently we are not. Also, this will deprive others as vaccine doses are limited. So we may need a booster dose in the future, but data suggest it is not required right now. Secondly, when we talk about booster dose, timing is important. It can’t be based on antibodies. So, should it be given after nine months or one year of the last dose? That data has to come out in a clear manner. Then should it be a repeat of the initial vaccine? What is the advantage of mix and match as some data show this can give better immune response? What combination should be there? Then what should be the priority group? Once all this is decided, only then can we move forward. Currently, we can’t say straight away that we need a booster dose.

As the vaccination rates rise, do we need to start looking at more metrics than just number of cases in order to make decisions on public health and reasonable precautions?
Yes definitely. We are now looking at different scenarios at some places where we are not seeing a large number of cases. So the number of cases can no longer be the defining factor. Defining factor could be the change in the number of cases or number of hospitalisations over a period of time like a week. Your baseline can’t be an absolute number but a trend. If one sees a trend of increasing cases, one can argue that the trend is on the upside which should alert people about the changing profile of the area. Then you should look at more aggressive testing surveillance and even genome sequencing to see if this is the same strain or a new strain is evolving.

How should people and the government look at Covid risks in a more and more vaccinated country?
There are two issues here: one, vaccination is a good protection but with immunity waning over time, it has its own limitations. Secondly, with new strains, the efficacy of the vaccine will come down because now the virus is multiplying in a vaccinated population. Previously the virus was not multiplying in a population that was vaccinated. So you were not seeing that much mutation. The number of mutations we have seen this year is much more than last year in terms of variants of concern. Also, no matter what the variant, Covid appropriate behaviour will still protect us. The chain of transmission can still be stopped this way. Vaccination is not a substitute for a Covid-appropriate behaviour but it is complement to it.

Do you think it is necessary to develop new versions of existing vaccines after taking inactivated viruses of new Covid variants?
Yes, this will happen and is happening. Lot of vaccine manufacturers are already in research. We could have next-gen vaccines which cover for the delta or beta variants. Also we could be looking at a bivalent or trivalent vaccine. Current vaccines have one strain but suppose we have a bivalent one that protects you both against delta and another variant-which is more effective. So in the near future, we may have next-generation vaccines which may cover for the new variants and may be bivalent or trivalent.

Latest serological survey shows 90% of people in Delhi have antibodies. So how would endemic be defined in case of Covid19 going forward?
Two things are important. A pandemic becomes endemic if you continue to have a few cases but it does not cause significant surge the way we saw in the first and second waves. Also, there is a good amount of immunity in the population so that the number of cases is limited. But the important thing is we will gradually reach that stage. Currently, it’s difficult to say we have reached that stage because right now we have immunity against a particular variant. This will wane with time. We are looking at antibodies present against a particular variant that may be circulating at that particular time. If you get a new variant, the efficacy of the antibodies will wane. So when we talk of good or herd immunity it is against a particular strain of the virus. If the virus changes and you get a new strain then the immunity against that strain will come down significantly and that is why we are more careful as we know the virus is still evolving – there is Delta plus variant, AY.4.2. So we need to see how it evolves but some degree of cross protection is always there. We have a good amount of immunity but a lot depends on how the virus evolves.

Teachers, staffers who haven’t got even one dose of Covid vaccine won’t be allowed in school: DoE

Teachers and staffers of schools under the Delhi Directorate of Education, who have not taken a single dose of Covid vaccine till October 15, will not be allowed to attend school, according to an order. Officials will verify vaccination status through the Arogya Setu application or vaccination certificate produced by teachers and staffers, according to the order issued by the directorate on October 28.

It also said that those who have not received their vaccine dose by October 15, will be treated as on leave till the administration of first dose of vaccine.

Heads of government, government-aided and private-unaided recognised schools of the Directorate of Education (DoE) had been directed to submit information on vaccination of teachers and staffers by October 20.

They were directed to submit the information on a Google tracker link of the directorate that provides it Covid vaccination status report of teachers and staffers.

In an order, which was issued last month, the DoE had said that unvaccinated teachers and non-teaching staffers will not be allowed to attend school from October 15, and they will be considered as being on leave.