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This is a news laundry podcast and you're listening to and I'll have the ungrazed up Nelligan or Nusantara up Nahata Cabinet Ch'orti. Welcome to the second last episode of Haaften. The Year 2020. The year 2020.
My dad and I have one more of that to go to boast that I did not miss a single Hofstadter's this full year. That means I haven't taken a day off this full year. Just want to rub it in the face of money.
Who's back from? Why, yes, I'm back. She's nice and tanned as we are recording this episode of N.L. Hafter on Thursday, the 24th of December at four thirty in the late afternoon, all evening.
So about I think three weeks ago, we had promised our listeners that we'll have a covered special episode. And it's taken us a while to get our panel. And we have a remarkable panel for you.
We have someone who is both a public health expert and has studied medicine as a doctor.
And we have someone who has been referred to me by people who I hold in very high.
But your very esteem regard the person who's on the best supporting health, public health reporting in India.
So before I introduce the two guests, let me introduce our in-house panel, which is romancer. Our managing editor, Manisha, was Bill.
And I have a couple of announcements that I shall make in a bit.
But first, our panel we have joining us from London, which is, I think five and a half hours behind us, Dr Germany and Rao. Hi, Dr. Drew. Hello.
Hi there. Good morning, everybody. Good afternoon.
Yeah, it's yeah, it's early evening. It's like what they might call in your part of the World Cup of tea and muffins.
I mean it I here in a couple of blocks of time. Right.
So Doctor, always an independent public health physician and epidemiologist. He has over 25 years experience in Britain's National Health Service and five in the senior civil service with the Department of Health. He has particular skills and data science, medical research, ethics, evaluation of research proposals, critical appraisal of clinical evidence and health policy development.
He's a visiting professor in public health at Staffordshire University and he's also a columnist for us. And he's also written for the Wired, I believe. And we have got a lot of phenomenal feedback for his pieces. Welcome, Doctor.
Thank you very much. Also joining us is Brian Coppola. Priyanka is a freelance journalist who writes on science policy and medicine. She she's written for science, the British Medical Journal, Forbes, India, Nature, India, The Wire and Mint, and in the past has also worked with The Hindu. She has won the Red Ink Award for Journalism to Science and Innovation category. Hi, Priyanka. Hey, thanks for having me.
No, thank you for making the time. Which part of the world are you in right now, Branka?
I'm based in Bangalore, ISI, and also joining us is our very own editor. And where are you this week, by the way?
Yes, I'm in Chennai. Only one time.
I was in Bangalore the rest of the time and I'm always OK then maybe we have a little bit also on important development in South politics and a lot of people, Apollonian, in fact, the same people who are out on the Farmers Bertus of Punjab telling us about not politics being influenced by the entry of Rajinikanth.
So maybe you can give us a better perspective.
Yeah, I'll happily give you some gion as well. Excellent. Before we jump into the discussions, here are the headlines of the week.
New coronavirus variant identified in the UK. There's also a more infectious coronavirus strain discovered in South Africa. These new strains are not yet in India, says the Indian government. We have issued a Sobeys for visitors from UK coronavirus has reached the end of Earth as first outbreak hits Antarctica. AstraZeneca says its vaccine should be effective against new coronavirus variant.
So we have a lot of coronavirus related news and I'm so glad we finally have the panel we do today to give you the most amazing and hopefully informative covid discussion.
Yep, Hindi NewsChannel Republic Parrot was fined by UK regulator Ofcom for hate speech.
Yes, 20 Lack's APR's. Watch the fine. But for them don't get Hartke mail here.
Yeah, 14 members of Muslim Man's family arrested under anticonvulsant law in Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, a yuppy Muslim teenager met the little girl for a pizza outing and landed in jail under anticonvulsant law again and up to dead and 15 sick after a gas leak in IFFCO plant in Prague, Raj C.M.A did not. As the probe, Honda has discontinued two of its high end models, CRV and Civic, and it has shut its Scrutinizer plant.
In fact, if you were to see the data on what the industrial capacity of yuppy is and you'll get the not seeing that, he'll turn it over to two trillion dollars or whatever economy.
I mean, the data just doesn't back it. And what's happening in Europe definitely doesn't.
The Google Alliance has secured over a hundred seats and is in emotion. The single largest party in the District Development Council elections that were held in Jammu and Kashmir and everyone is claiming this is a victory, BJP saying it was the single largest party, the Gopalan saying that we won the most seats. But next week when we have our fellow panelist and colleague Maharaj back, we will talk a little more about this.
We shall not discuss this in this.
Weeks after protesting farmers should black flags durians Yemen and M'bala, 13 of these farmers will book for attempted murder and writing too much democracy where were allowed to remain in another hospital till January 7th.
As Bombay High Court adjourns, has BP, Kerala Catholic priest and nun get life imprisonment in sister abayas case? They were convicted after 28 years thanks to the work of Bridgen. He's a journalist who's currently the Times of India, and it was his reporting in 2007 that reopened this case and sided conversation. And he reported that the forensic had been tampered with in this case.
So don't lose hope in good journalism. Yeah, and there are still plenty of journalism happening driven by public interest and leading to some some kind of.
Yeah, just to keep the faith. Congress delegation, including Rahul Gandhi, meets President Galavant, then seeks withdrawal of families. Earlier that day, Congres delegation led by Priyanka Gandhi, was detained and put in preventive custody for trying to match up to the president's house. Workers at an iPhone manufacturing unit in Connecticut school district went on a rampage. They broke glass windows and did other things. And they said the reason was pent up anger because of delayed salaries for the attendance reports and outstanding payments for overtime workers.
Some very dramatic visuals, like one week breaking a window and other employees cheering home.
And finally, what we discussed two, three weeks ago that Nixon said he launches a new party. He won't even leave until now. He's clearly said that he will. But now there's all sorts of speculation will come along and join him, will agree. Join him, who is the brother of Stalin who was kicked out of DMK, suggest he will hopefully have some ground to give on this development in the politics of Tamilnadu.
But first, covid the biggest story of the year.
The week. The month, the decade.
Yeah, possibly the decade. OK, guys, before we carry on a very important announcement, Hafter is now behind the paywall.
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So let me start off with Dr. Allfirst. There were two or three significant developments this week, or one was that there is a strain in UK where you are, which is this new, more infectious strain. But we are told let's not I mean, it isn't necessarily more virulent. Then there is also strain in South Africa.
I have read one report which suggests that the same strain in South Africa, which has made its way to London. So it is that the case? B, is it that it is found there because you have the most advanced labs in your part of the world? Because that is what one doctor suggested, at least on the panel that I was watching on one of the Indian channels.
And will this have any impact on the vaccine that is being made? Because AstraZeneca has said it has no impact.
The best information that we have at the moment is that, yes, it is the case that there is a new variant spreading rapidly in London and the southeast, but not confined to those two parts of Britain. It's all over. Every region in Britain has got a few cases, at least of the new variant. It is also true that Britain has had a long record of studying the genome pattern of coronavirus for public health. The four countries, there are four countries in the UK, all the four public health services combined with the academic departments and the Sanger Institute in Cambridge who have special expertise in genome analysis and indeed some of the the Million Genome Project and so on have been tracked.
The genome constitution of the coronavirus specimens that they have been collecting since April 2020, and since then they have done about one hundred and fifty thousand samples have been analyzed. The only country that is doing that amounts to about 10 percent of all specimens that have been that have been collected, i.e., the people who tested positive samples have been collected. So Britain has been doing for 10 percent of all coronavirus samples have been genome sequenced. The only country doing more is Denmark, and Denmark is doing it because of their field problem.
You know, they had a problem with the SEAL Athene's variant of a dominque variant of it.
Yes, they have a lot of minka color. Something I read about that is that they were they are doing 20 percent of the specimens are being genome sequenced. Some other European countries are doing under one percent and some countries don't have the capacity at all. Now, I don't have any good data about what other countries are doing. Certainly South Africa is doing because they have picked up a few specimens, a few, a few, a few variants. But this is not the first variant to be detected.
There have been loads of other variables that have been detected and have gone virtually unnoticed. The reason this is important is that for the first time, this this particular variant involves no less than 10 or 12 particular amino acids have been replaced. Another or cannot have been have undergone mutation mutation to the natural process that happens all the time with all sorts of viruses.
The second thing is that there has been a rapid rise in the proportion of cases that have this new variant. So it used to be around twenty five point seven percent as recently as September, October and in early December it touch 70 percent. So of every 100 cases picked up in the southeast, about five of the old variant of of of coronavirus.
And in a period of six to eight weeks, it has now become 70 percent. So it is spreading faster. It is more transmissible. And the best estimate they have we have now is that it is 70 percent more transmissible. The South African strain is even more transmissible than the new variant UK.
You can see then it's not the same in the country is different in South Africa and South African. One is probably more transmissible. That's the latest information that we have. But it needs confirmation. It needs confirmation because, you know, if you find about 10 cases, you really can make a story out of it. But if the pattern is repeated and if if that is spreading even faster, if an even greater proportion of new infections are found to be of the new South African mutation, then that then they can show that it is spreading even faster.
So we have two problems. One is there has been a growth in cases in the south, the south east of England, particularly in London. And most of those cases now, most of the new cases now are definitely of the new mutant coronavirus.
Does this have any impact on the cause? AstraZeneca will say that because there will lots of you don't know because then the stock will plummet. But can we conclusively say that it will not? I mean, they will be it won't make the vaccine redundant, but we will have to redo the vaccine. Do we know?
Yeah. I mean, we of course, you can never say never in clinical medicine, particularly when it comes to new, new and emerging viruses. You can never say never. You can never say always. None of those statements are probably justified. But the best we know is that the vaccine acts upon at least three, three different sites. And therefore, even if there is a change in one part of the anti genetic makeup of the new coronavirus, it's likely that the other two will be will be will be attacked by by the vaccine.
But everybody now, all the all the labs, certainly AstraZeneca definitely. And some of the academic labs are sort of scrambling hard to test whether the antibodies that the vaccine generates is effective against the new variant coronavirus. Now, that is only, if you like suggestive evidence, you can have the antibody in the test tube, the antibody attack, the new coronavirus. So far, so good. But it has to be tested in the field that will unfortunately take at least a few weeks.
But I had a question in spirit of the year ending, you know, to kind of look back at how we dealt with this virus.
So, Priyanka, someone who's reported on it for almost nine months now, I think I wanted to know from you what you think of India's response to the virus. What were the high points, especially the Indian government?
What did we do right according to you? And what did we do really wrong?
That's a really big question. So what they did wrong, I think I'm going to talk about that first is there was too much denial and there was too much denial in their communication, regardless of what they believed in private, the Indian government, the health ministry, I see what they said in public was it was at odds with what we know they were thinking in an issue. These I mean, there's been reporting from so many people like Nathan. Article 14 about what I how I see my believed the virus would pan out in the initial days, they believe that despite airport screening, we would see community transmission very soon.
But that's not what they said in public. They would say, you know, everything is hunky dory until they have accepted that there is community transmission, which is hilarious. So I think the the communication was a big failure. And that's not a that's not a small deal. I think that's central to your outbreak response, what they did. Well, once they got down to it with with testing, et cetera. Sure. They they wrapped it up.
They brought in the private sector. But again, they were they were problems there, too. So. Yeah. What are the positive things to date? I, I'm going to mute myself for a bit and think, oh wow.
They didn't say much.
Nothing positive. I just have a quick question. So after Iraqian Deepavali, I think some people are predicting that India would see a festive surge in the number of cases, but I'm not sure if that happened. And now they're having New Year curfews and so on. Do you think we could anticipate to see something in January or because numbers are fairly stabilized right now and falling and they're falling, in fact.
And what started after the Bihar election where they were. Yeah. So the Ramdin Mabuchi thing that happened in Yuppy then Bihar election, there was so much of another protest.
I mean, Singapore was clearly said Kikuyu coronavirus non-user all got that.
And so we have had like miedo supersaturated events, but didn't really do anything.
I think it's a matter of convenience, really. When you want to do something, then coronavirus is not a disincentive to do it because, OK, that's important. We don't when it comes to parliament, of course, parliament can't function because of the fear of coronavirus. So it's expediency rather than science driving it.
I think things have happened in the past and recently sashayed, you know, above whatever has happened in the past. And I think social media has also amplified it a bit.
What I feel now, I mean, something which is happening of late, especially after 2010, whichever state, whichever the government is there, the administration, the police, everything becomes the be, you know, team of of the ruling party, party of the government. So so this is what is happening. So so if you see yuppy the case that you have just referred to this thing, we are already doing a series of stories on largemouth. Our reporters are there and I've been talking to them every day.
So these people have been telling the Hindu Masaba and, you know, Brundle. So all these outfits you have over, you know, two, three lacka membership.
So they have they are spread all over the state and how they have become assisting the police, you know, getting these kids, the police. It is not the police which is so active. These people are the ones who are active. They tell the police and the police is bound to take action. And, of course, let us in this in the cases of love jihad, I think the judiciary is still doing much better. I think whatever cases that have come up in the court that the judiciary has, you don't understand that it's that the law contravenes, you know, our fundamental freedom.
Right to freedom. So so I think in the judiciary here, particularly in love Jacki's, it is happening.
What do you think, Manisha? You want to weigh in on the intersection of all these many stories? I think with what you said that we're like in. Well, you know, we've seen that. I've been thinking a lot about this and I, I think we a complete like a completely walking backwards. If you look at this love Djihad case, I mean, Skorton, good luck.
Jadakiss, 17 year old boy, 16 year old girl, go out for a pizza. The villagers spot them and say, oh, look, they're out. And all one of the guys are Muslim. Do you know do you not know? The police jumps forces the parents father to write a complaint. The father says, I don't want to complain because they there was no talk of elopement. They just met each other. And the police are telling the father, but she could elope.
Aren't you ashamed of yourself? You don't want to write a complaint. Like what if your daughter just goes away, etc.. So this kind of a complete and this is so in a way that this law is so good for Indians, because if you see, this is sort of an extension of what we have seen for a while. Right. Like couples being troubled by police if they sitting in a garden getting better. But they're barbacoa, but they generally neighbors being nosy.
And I think that India used to be I mean, among the nations that were colonized, India was possibly one of the few nations that were a successful democracy in. I'm wondering now if we just lucked out, like maybe we just got lucky with Ambedkar, Nehru, Gandhi, you were all foreign educated, they were liberals educated abroad. And, you know, they got with them the foreign aid, Western democracy ideas. Maybe this is a true nature of our country and this is where this is really what India is.
And we're probably going to now really see what India's with.
Again, that news report of farmers being slapped with attempted murder for waving a black flag that is nuts and brazen and and what what isn't.
So these things are happening. It's fine. But how they're normalized, there's no discussion about this anyway. It's just like hire one more person in jail. It's even stopped shocking me. Like after everything we've seen in Delhi, riots, students have been jailed, you know, almost a hundred days.
You have video evidence of police beating up kids, one of whom died. But yet that cop is not being tried for murder. And so they have there.
But the civilians in those cases, and at least in the US, you have Trump and whatever, you have a strong media that's pushed back. This love jihad thing was championed by all news anchors, including women news anchors like Undynamic.
Yeah, it was Trump.
You gotta me up tomorrow period. Don't go to jail because to me the Yugi are coming. So, I mean, what hope do we have?
What's your take us as cynical as young Maneesha here. Yeah, probably more. I mean, I, I also agree that I think this is what Indians are really like. I mean, I think it's very easy for urban elites sitting in cities to say, oh my God, like people who support in the global jihad that the rural mindset. But this is very untrue. I mean, a lot of very educated because people are not to fully support it, but no one is calling it what it is.
Right. I love jihad. Law is an anti miscegenation law. It's something that the Nazis and the KKK had supported where they wanted racial segregation at the level of marriage. And this is what we're seeing.
Republic Pilot, which is a channel in Indian channel by Arnab Goswami, our favorite whipping boy, which was fined twenty thousand pounds in UK.
I mean the channel that this was for hate speech. So it's fined over there. But in India it is amongst the most popular. It is the one that is patronised by brands and the government.
And you find a lot of people saying they do great work on the same speed, the same same programme here gets bypassed.
The government doesn't even bat an eyelid, calling Pakistani terrorists as if it's an everyday thing, not even like. Yes, it's not just an apple, does it?
I mean, why do you go so far that I know of and I know if non-resident Indians of Indian origin, people in this country who actually believe that that are not Goswami were unfairly treated by the by what's called Ofcom, the office of the Office of Communications, the the the media regulator in this country. They believe that. And you may have seen my myself. We don't read about it. When I posted a message about this, it was on me.
I got his comeuppance. Thanks to Ofcom impartiality in this country, the feedback, the pushback I got from many people on this WhatsApp group of educated doctors was to say that what has held the British got to do better off. Our numbers, like the BBC tells, is Pakistan. I got better. And the evidence for the BBC is communal nature is the fact that they don't report Diwali as much as it did for Christmas. That is that is a criticism.
But the funny thing is they do report Diwali every Diwali time. They act on the day of Diwali. The news coverage is all about how Diwali was celebrated, how the lights came on and out, all in Birmingham and London, the big parliamentary Diwali celebrations. And so then when the next complaint is that, oh, they took the wrong side of the debate when it came to the cost equality bill in this country. But the government had a consultation on where the cost should be included as one of the qualifying criteria for the equality bill.
The Hindu community in this country protested at that saying, no, no, no, there is no question Hinduism at all doesn't exist. And funding it. It was dropped because of the amount of noise that was made. They dropped it and said that existing legislation provides for that. And therefore, we don't need to include caste like race and gender and so on. So that's that evidence of brickies impartiality. So obviously is not actually a hero for having shown doing to the to the British regulator, but the fact that he is better than 30000 pound fine and the fact that he's apologized for it is completely by the by the level of that level of penetration of people like they are.
No, we do this ideology.
It's fascinating. In fact, not only is BBC not communist, you should see NASSA every really click. The picture of India offloads it all, daylighting beautifully, budgetary.
Down the valley, right? All of you listening in the short afternoon subscribers, you can listen to the entire Hafter. We will see you again next week with the tartlet. Subscribe to keep news free, because when the public pays, the public is served and advertisers pay. Advertisers are served. Thank you. Goodbye.
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