Worst is not yet over, 100 cr vaccinations is a safety net: VK Paul

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By Avinash Prabhakar
New Delhi, Oct 21 |
“The worst is not over yet. We have created a safety net of 100 cr vaccinations but those who have not been vaccinated yet should come forward to get the vaccine to complete this safety net”, said V.K. Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, in an exclusive interview with IANS. He said that talks with WHO for Covaxin EUL approval are in the final stage.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: India has achieved 100 crore vaccinations. Can we say the worst is over now?

A: This achievement is a momentous landmark for the country. But the worst is not over yet. We have created a safety net of 100 cr vaccines around us, but those who have not been vaccinated yet should come ahead to get vaccinated and complete this safety net.

Not many in the world would have thought India could administer vaccines to a billion people in 9 months. And, that too with two vaccines made on the soil of India. It is a grand example of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. Apart from providing protection against the deadly disease, this success has given us confidence that we can handle a crisis of this magnitude on our own. Going forward, I am optimistic, that not only can we change the course of the pandemic globally, but also revolutionise the research and development to address other diseases effectively.

Q: How has been India’s journey to achieve this milestone?

A: To reach here, the country overcame people’s apprehensions about safety and usefulness of the vaccines. Vaccine hesitancy due to ignorance, bias, misleading propaganda has been largely overcome. Challenges of vaccine supply, transportation, cold chain dynamics and vaccine centre logistics were met building on the invaluable experience of the universal immunization program. Communication efforts were directed to educate, assure, motivate and prepare the public through transparent, science-driven, consistent and multi-pronged messaging. CoWin IT platform emerged as the master enabler for beneficiary interface, session planning, certification and data management.

Our scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, industry leaders have all contributed to this effort. They have been fighting social and geographical odds at various levels to bring people to the vaccination centres. The 100 crore mark demonstrates the reach and resilience of our public health system.

Q: What did the government do to facilitate, support and encourage research and development of the vaccines?

A: For a nation that is admired as the ‘pharmacy of the world’ and that delivers two-thirds of all the world’s vaccines for children, to pick up the challenge to develop/manufacture COVID-19 vaccines was a given. Prime Minister guided and mentored this journey from the very start.

The government established a task force as early as in April 2020 to oversee, support, encourage and monitor R&D initiatives amongst the research organizations and in the industry. Potential candidate vaccines were tracked and supported with research and development grants. Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) opened their laboratories for complex assays by research groups and industry. ICMR provided the vaccine virus strain to the industry to develop Covaxin. DBT readied eighteen vaccine trial field sites that were used by industry for trials. Government launched a 900 Cr Mission COVID Suraksha to fund multi-level R&D efforts.

At least eight entities have received large grants. Government also made outright advance purchase commitment for a vaccine still under development. National Expert Group on Vaccine Implementation (NEGVAC) provided guidelines on the vaccine program. Government teams have been in touch with manufacturers on a continuous basis, Regulatory steps were streamlined and all facilitation was ensured.

Today, made-in-India Covishield (serum) and Covaxin (Bharat) have been the bedrock of our program so far. But our industry has lined up four other vaccines for potential use in the coming months: a DNA vaccine (Zydus, already licenced), a mRNA vaccine (Gennova), a protein sub-unit vaccine (BioE) and an intranasal vector vaccine (Bharat).

Q: What are India’s concerns at this stage?

A: The country is at a critical juncture right now. We have to accomplish a high vaccine coverage with the full 2-dose course. We need to remain vigilant and keep looking for new virus variants. Occurrence of the variants of concern is unpredictable. A dangerous new variant in any part of the world is a threat to all; and that is the real worry. It is the biggest unknown over which we have little control except to reduce transmission by all means. Our surveillance teams have to keep track of new variants, and our vaccine scientists and industry have to be ready to tweak the vaccines if required. In addition, the search for an effective drug that averts progression of early infection into serious disease is an urgent need. This virus can only be defeated by scientific tools and products.

Q: What is causing delay in granting WHO emergency use approval to Covaxin?

A: Talks with the World Health Organization are in the final stage now to grant EUL to Covaxin. We respect the WHO procedure which is totally science and evidence based in granting the approval to vaccines. The final meetings are scheduled and we hope to get good news soon from WHO.

(Avinash Prabhakar can be reached at avinash.p@ians.in)

Source: IANS

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Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Does MBA really help in getting a better job offer ?

Most students pursuing an MBA come with the sole objective of having a decent job offer or a promotion in the existing job soon after completion of the MBA. And most of them take loans to pursue this career dream. According to a recent survey by education portal Campusutra.com  74% MBA 2022-24 aspirants said they would opt for education loans.

There are exceptional cases like those seeking master’s degree or may have a family business to take care of or an entrepreneurial venture in mind. But the exception cases are barely 1%. For the rest 99%, a management degree is a ticket to a dream job through campus placements or leap towards career enhancements. Stakes are high as many of them quit their jobs which essentially means loss of 2 years of income, apprehension and uncertainty of the job market. On top of that, the pressure to pay back the education loans. Hence the returns have to be high. There is more than just the management degree. Colleges need to ensure that they offer quality management education which enables them to be prepared for not just the demands of recruiters and for a decent job but also to sustain and achieve, all along their career path.

  • So, what exactly are the B Schools doing to prepare their students for the job market and make them industry ready ?
  •  Are B schools ready to deliver and prepare the future business leaders to cope up with the disrupted market ?  

These are the two key questions every MBA aspirant needs to ask, check and validate before filling the MBA application forms of management institutes. And worth mentioning that these application forms do not come cheap. An MBA aspirant who may have shortlisted 5 B Schools to apply for, may end up spending Rs 10,000.00 to Rs 15,000.00 just buying MBA / PGDM application forms.

While internship and placements data of some management institutes clearly indicates that recruiters today have specific demands. The skill sets looked for are job centric and industry oriented. MBA schools which have adopted new models of delivery and technology, redesigned their courses, built an effective evaluation process and prepared the students to cope with the dynamic business scenario, have done great with campus placements despite the economic slow down.

However, the skill set being looked for by a consulting company like Deloitte or KPMG may be quite different from FMCG or a manufacturing sector. Institutes need to acknowledge this fact and act accordingly.

  • Management institutes should ensure that students are intellectually engaged, self motivated and adapt to changes fast. In one word ‘VUCA ready’.
  • B Schools should encourage students to participate in national and international competitive events, simulations of business scenarios.
  • Institutes should have the right mix of faculty members with industry exposure and pure academics.

The placement records of 2021 across top management institutes indicated the fact that recruitment is happening, skilled talent is in demand and certain management institutions continued to attract recruiters even in the middle of an ongoing crisis.

It is time, all management institutes rise to the occasion, understand market realities and identify areas of improvement at both ends – students and faculty.

After all, the stakes are high at both ends. B Schools taking corrective measures will stay while those which are lagging will end up shutting down.

Author Name : Nirmalya Pal

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