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New Ebola Outbreak Declared in Guinea

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Guinea has declared a new Ebola disease outbreak with 3 cases already confirmed in the West African country.

“Three cases have been confirmed in the rural community of Gouéké in N’Zerekore prefecture,” according to the Guinea authorities.

This is the first time the disease has been reported since the last outbreak ended in 2016.

World Health Organization (WHO) said its staff are already on the ground, supporting the Government of Guinea in: -disease surveillance activities -ramping up infection prevention and control in health facilities -reaching out to communities as they have key role in the response -Ebola vaccine procurement.

WHO also said it is working with health authorities in neighbouring countries to strengthen Ebola preparedness, such as disease surveillance in the border districts as well as strengthening their capacity to test for Ebola and conduct surveillance in health facilities.

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Asia

India Celebrates National Science Day

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On February 28th, India celebrates the annual National Science Day commemorating Indian physicist C V Raman’s discovery in 1928 of the Raman effect, the scattering of photons or light particles by matter.

India has registered notable advances in the missile, space technology, medicine, IT and many other fields with this former British colony now emerging as a leading country in the comity of nations.

This is a moment to celebrate the progress that India has made in science and technology research, thanks to its science policies.

Science and technology has assumed great significance and the theme for the current year is : Future of STI-Impacts on Education, Skill and Work”.

The event is now organized with seminars, conferences, public debates and discussions in schools, colleges, universities and other academic, scientific, technical, medical and research institutions all over the country.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a top scientist who had served as the 11th President of India in his book “India 2020” had strongly advocated for an Action Plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and developed nation.

He had worked on high positions in DRDO, ISRO and was popularly known as the Missile Man of India for his work on the development of ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology as also India’s Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.

India is on the right tract of science and technology highway and it must now go with quick and sure steps.

Key to Advancement The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been underscoring the role of scientific knowledge, technology and innovations through bold initiatives for overall speed development so that India emerges as a safe and super strong nation.

Some positive signals are emerging with leading advanced educational and other institutions already in place coupled with lot of promise, scope and talent .

India has made tangible strides it has still to move forward for transformation of society to attain the status of super power with a mission of working for peace, progress and spiritual enlightenment for humanity.

The report published by the National Science Foundation of the U.S. in December 2019, India was the third largest publisher of peer-reviewed science and engineering journal articles and conference papers, with 135,788 articles in 2018.

This milestone was achieved through an average yearly growth rate of 10.73% from 2008, which was greater than China’s 7.81%.

However, China and the United States had about thrice and twice the number, respectively, of India’s publications.

According to Stanford ranking, hope for Indian science The not-so-good news is that publications from India are not impactful.

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CORONA VIRUS

She Was Demoted, Doubted And Rejected. Now, Her Work Is The Basis Of The Covid-19 Vaccine

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(CNN)Covid-19 vaccines are starting to roll out in several countries, a momentous breakthrough that hopefully signals a light at the end of this dark pandemic. For Katalin Karikó, the moment is particularly special.

Karikó has spent decades of her career researching the therapeutic possibilities of mRNA, a component of DNA that is considered to be one of the main building blocks of life.

Through multiple setbacks, job losses, doubt and a transatlantic move, Karikó stood by her conviction: That mRNA could be used for something truly groundbreaking. Now, that work is the basis of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Karikó, 65, began her career in her native Hungary in the 1970s, when mRNA research was new and the possibilities seemed endless. But the call of the American dream (and more researching and funding opportunities) took root.

In 1985, she and her husband and young daughter left Hungary for the US after she got an invitation from Temple University in Philadelphia.

They sold their car, Karikó told The Guardian, and stuffed the money — an equivalent of about $1,200 — in their daughter’s teddy bear for safekeeping.

“We had just moved into our new apartment, our daughter was 2 years old, everything was so good, we were happy,” Karikó told the Hungarian news site G7 of her family’s departure. “But we had to go.”

She continued her research at Temple, and then at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. But by then, the bloom was off the rose of mRNA research, and Karikó’s idea that it could be used to fight disease was deemed too radical, too financially risky to fund. She applied for grant after grant, but kept getting rejections, and in 1995, she was demoted from her position at UPenn. She also was diagnosed with cancer around the same time.

“Usually, at that point, people just say goodbye and leave because it’s so horrible,” she told Stat, a health news site, in November. “I thought of going somewhere else, or doing something else. I also thought maybe I’m not good enough, not smart enough.”

From doubt to breakthrough

But she stuck with it.

Eventually, Karikó and her former colleague at the University of Pennsylvania, Drew Weissman, developed a method of utilizing synthetic mRNA to fight disease that involves changing the way the body produces virus-fighting material, she explained on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”

That discovery is now the basis of the Covid-19 vaccine, and some have said both Weissman and Karikó, now a senior vice president of the Germany-based BioNTech, deserve a Nobel Prize.

“If anyone asks me whom to vote for some day down the line, I would put them front and center,” Derek Rossi, one of the founders of pharmaceutical giant Moderna, told Stat. “That fundamental discovery is going to go into medicines that help the world.”

While recognition, after all of this time, must be nice, Karikó says scientific glory isn’t what’s on her mind right now.

“Really, we will celebrate when this human suffering is over, when the hardship and all of this terrible time will end, and hopefully in the summer when we will forget about virus and vaccine. And then I will be really celebrating,” she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.

Karikó said she plans to get the vaccine soon, along with Weissman, and she said she’s “very, very confident” it will work. After all, it was their discoveries that contributed to it.

In the meantime, Karikó said she allowed herself a little treat to celebrate the vaccine news: a bag of Goobers, her favorite candy.

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CORONA VIRUS

Rwanda Launches COVID-19 Vaccination

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Rwanda has started vaccinating high-risk groups against COVID-19 nationwide, notably frontline healthcare staff, with limited vaccine doses acquired through international cooperation, said the Health Ministry on Sunday.

It is the initial phase of COVID-19 immunization in Rwanda and will be followed by a wider roll-out later this month with supplies expected from COVAX and the African Union’s Africa Medical Supplies Platform, it tweeted.

According to the ministry, the central African country’s COVID-19 vaccination plan is ready, with infrastructure, protocols and personnel all in place.

As of Sunday, Rwanda has recorded a total of 17,343 cases with 14,792 recoveries and 239 deaths.

The Rwandan government plans to inoculate at least 60% of its population in two years, or some 8 million people, to achieve herd immunity against the virus in the country, said Tharcisse Mpunga, minister of state in charge of primary healthcare in the health ministry.

The government is also trying to acquire more vaccines for the whole population, Mpunga said.  

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