Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #195 - Mirage of Post-COVID world

Supply chain challenges can fail any great product. Let us check what stares at us in terms of vaccine distribution challenges. Also a reality check on penetration of Khalistani sympathy in Punjab.

(Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay)

“One heart is not connected to another through harmony alone. They are, instead, linked deeply through their wounds. Pain linked to pain, fragility to fragility. There is no silence without a cry of grief, no forgiveness without bloodshed, no acceptance without a passage through acute loss. That is what lies at the root of true harmony.” ― Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage


CSIR- Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) had first made milk powder from buffalo milk in India in the 1960s. India has more buffaloes than cows. The milk structure is different and the technology to make powder from cows’ milk does not work on buffalo milk. When AMUL started producing buffalo milk powder on a large scale, CFTRI wasn’t happy. It was their research. AMUL fought back saying it is one thing to make the powder in the lab, quite another to do it at an industrial scale.

It is one thing to make vaccines in the lab and test them. Quite another to transport, store, administer, and expect it to work as advertised on a global scale while expecting the virus will cooperate and not decide to mutate. Let us get a reality check today.

Also, those who say that sympathy for Khalistan is absent in the Punjab Sikhs, are missing the infiltration that has already happened due to the globalization of Punjabi movies, songs, and careers.


just FYI, there is NO ‘Post-COVID’ world in sight!

There is a big scramble for the creation of the COVID vaccines by many companies and then there is a fight between the countries to secure the vaccine inventory to ensure their populations are medically administered to ward off any more deaths.

But is that all to the whole situation?

What the media does not explain to us quite readily are two variables that will be critical to the vaccine programs to be administered across the world. These variables are:

  • Storage Temperature: at what temperature does a vaccine need to be stored for it to be stable and how long does it last

  • Immune Memory: how long after administering the vaccine does the immune memory in the body last before it can succumb to the virus again

But before we go into more detail, there are reports of North Korean hackers trying to steal information from the vaccine developers.

A few days ago, allegations were made against North Korean hackers for cyberattacking COVID-19 vaccine frontrunner AstraZeneca. Turns out, the British pharma wasn’t alone on Pyeongyang’s hunting list. North Korean hackers have also tried to steal information from U.S. COVID vaccine developers Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. (Source)

They have also tried to break into three South Korean COVID research manufacturing facilities at Celltrion, Genexine, and Shin Poong Pharmaceutical. They are using phishing techniques to break in.

Now, these hackers are targeting the storage facilities as well.

“A global phishing campaign” has eyes on organizations associated with COVID-19 cold chain, IBM’s cybersecurity experts said in a blog post Thursday. The Pfizer/BioNTech shot requires storage at -70 degrees Celsius, Moderna’s mRNA-1273 requires regular freezer temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius, and AZ’s AZD1222 also must be transported at normal refrigerated conditions. (Source)

Why is this so important? Because of the extreme temperatures that these vaccines require for their storage.

The temperatures needed for the different vaccines are given below. Just this one property of the vaccines makes most of the candidates workable only in rich countries.

With the information above, now see why India has gone for the candidate it has. Do you see why India is not going for Pfizer, but for AstraZeneca and Novavax?

Only rich countries with the ability to create extremely cold temperatures can afford Pfizer or Sanofi vaccines.

For the immune memory, it is vital that the body has a mechanism to remember ways to fight the virus once the initial effect wears off.

Key to the process of immunity are memory cells known as T- and B-lymphocytes. Having made antibodies to a certain virus in an initial infection, the body uses these cells to remember that pathogen, “so when you are next exposed to the virus, the antibody response kicks in much sooner”, Young said. (Source)

Some of the vaccines have stimulators or boosters, which known as adjuvants which can enhance the body response or some of them are given in multiple doses so that a higher concentration of antibodies can create stronger cell memories.

The Moderna vaccine for example gives an immune memory of 90 days

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, which was recently demonstrated to have 94 percent efficacy, causes the human immune system to produce potent antibodies that endure for at least three months, a study showed Thursday. (Source)

The experts like Anthony Fauci say that a 90 days immune memory won’t be an issue because the body knows how to produce new antibodies itself.

NIAID director Anthony Fauci and other experts have said it's very likely that the immune system will remember the virus if re-exposed later on, and then produce new antibodies. (Source)

Sound great in theory. But every American knows that come fall and s/he has to go in for the flu (influenza) vaccine. And, despite that vaccine, one can contract flu soon enough.

In the United States between 2009 and 2019, it ranged from a low of 19% to a high of 60%. And protection wanes quickly: If you live in a temperate region of the world and receive the shot in the early fall, immunity can disappear before the end of that winter. (Source)

Why can’t we have a flu vaccine that can provide long term protection like measles, for example? That is because the influenza virus evolves. And even if it didn’t, the body needs to learn to deal with the last one from scratch.

“If we can figure out how to help the immune system to keep building on what it has already learned, we could develop better vaccines for highly evolving viruses like the flu, or HIV, or Hepatitis C,” says Gabriel D. Victora, assistant professor at Rockefeller University. (Source)

And, that is the key.

Europe, for example, has seen different impact and variants in just the Nordic countries. So, Coronavirus is evolving.

According to this interpretation of the Sweden-Norway discrepancy, it’s not that Sweden has one version of the virus, and Norway another. It’s just that in Sweden conditions have allowed those slightly more virulent variants that already exist in the virus population to flourish. If you want a truly spectacular – if extreme – example of the same mechanism at work, look at the 1918 flu pandemic. That pandemic killed at least 50 million people, the vast majority of whom died in the second wave – in a mere 13 weeks between September and December 1918 – and though data was even sketchier then, it is considered to have been at least 25 times more lethal than any other flu pandemic in history. (Source)

A new study actually confirms that SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has mutated to spread faster. As per researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the new strain of coronavirus called D614G is the most common in Europe.

"The D614G virus outcompetes and outgrows the ancestral strain by about 10-fold and replicates extremely efficiently in primary nasal epithelial cells, which are a potentially important site for person-to-person transmission," said Ralph Baric, professor of epidemiology at the UNC-Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health and professor of microbiology and immunology at the UNC School of Medicine, in a related press release. (Source)

The second wave in Europe has been caused because of this new virulent strain.

What we are looking at is an interesting scenario.

Storage temperatures for some of the vaccines that are possible only in Antarctica and immune memory combined with the evolution that will require greater or more frequent dosages.

We have a situation that seems to make it almost impossible to come out of this COVID situation for next decade, at the very least for this planet.

So, when someone even says “Post-COVID world, " you have to wonder at their naivete!

reality check on farm bills, APMCs, and Khalistani penetration in India

Gurcharan Das is the ex-CEO of Hindustan Lever and a management guru. In his blog post on TOI, he shares some interesting perspectives on the Farm Bills and the protests. (Source)

First off, he hits the nail on the head.

Behind the protests are arthiyas, buying agents in APMC mandis, who stand to lose Rs 1500 crore a year in commissions, plus rich farmers of Punjab, who are part of the 6% of India’s farmers who benefit from the MSP regime, according to the 70th round of the NSS. Both are powerful. The arthiyas finance elections, are often politicians and leaders of farm unions. (Source)

This is something that is precisely what Minhaz Merchant tweets about.

This is the end of the political doles in terms of creating an army of corrupt forces that finance the unscrupulous in India. There is a quid pro quo between the politicians, the arthiyas, and the gangs. Now, Khalistani terrorists have been added to that combination.

Das has further observations which are bang on.

  • The main demand of Punjab’s farmers and activists supporting them is to make the minimum support price a legal right. This is a bad idea because it makes Punjab’s farmers produce what people don’t want and discourages them from growing what people do want.

  • By giving farmers freedom from irrational controls, the reforms seek to raise farmers’ incomes through higher productivity. Indian farm yields are only half or a third of our competitors

  • The answer is for farmers to organize themselves in the form of cooperatives, or farmer-producer organizations like Amul that the PM has spoken about. 

  • The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) is an obsolete institution from an age of scarcity, meant to protect the farmer but becoming his oppressor, a monopoly cartel fixing low prices for the farmers’ produce, forcing distress sales.

The maximum use of MSP or rather APMCs happens for wheat and rice in Punjab and Haryana. And, the cost of Mandi Taxes and Middlemen Fee is a whopping 32%!

Who suffers? Farmers.

But more importantly, the APMC is not a great option for farmers in other states. Even these farmers, who have been brainwashed in these states to keep up their addiction to this sub-optimal and predatory regime called APMC, are losing their old advantage. Punjab has become a hotbed of drug abuse because the gains from the Green revolution are no longer there. Why?

Because the Agri supply chain system is inherently predatory. It serves the politicians to remain in power and be rich. Not the farmers.

These politicians, when their most basic pool for plunder available to them from the mandis is threatened, even though it is built on the foundation of farmer suicides, have found it convenient to join hands with terrorists.

Like this Kisan Union for example, which wanted (just like Raghuram Rajan) to abolish APMCs is now crying foul.

These scoundrels are willing to restart Khalistan terrorism all over again. That demon that had been made irrelevant in the 90s is being dusted and brought back to life.

JazzyB is one of the Punjabi celebrities who stands by Khalistani terror ideals. Watch this song.

Diljit Dosanjh, who had a nasty fight with Kangana Ranaut on Twitter had acted in a movie called Punjab 1984, where he had a song called Rangroot (Punjabi for recruit, Khalistani recruit in this case). He is seen getting training under Pakistani/Islamist terrorists.

These are the folks who are at the forefront of normalizing the Khalistani terror movement for the Punjabi Sikhs today.

Please do NOT be in the mistaken assumption that Sikhs in India are not in favor of Khalistan. Whoever - whether Harbhajan Singh Mann or Diljit Dosanjh or JazzyB - is backing the Punjab protests, have been compromised at some level. And, they have a BIG sway over the youth of Punjab! Remember just last year, after a successful stint on Indian reality shows, Hard Kaur abused India and eulogized Khalistan. (Source) The rot is much much deeper than you may want to imagine!

market corner - 10 quick bytes

  1. Halt digital launches, stop selling new credit cards: RBI tells HDFC Bank - more / RBI ban on HDFC Bank could stay for 3-6 months: Macquarie Capital - more

  2. Serum Institute likely to sell Covid vaccine in the private market by March-April - more

  3. Mastercard is moving from 'facilitation' to 'flow' biz - Demonetisation was a game-changer. It created an immediate reason for people to experience the ease, safety, and security of digital payments - more

  4. IIT KGP devices AI-based system to inspect the quality of MSME goods - more

  5. Flipkart to spin-off PhonePe, payments firm to be valued at $5.5 billion - more

  6. Microsoft Teams getting new calling interface, CarPlay support, etc - more

  7. IBM's six-year-old artificial intelligence debating system, affectionately dubbed "Miss Debater," went head-to-head with one of the world's most decorated practitioners but was adjudged to have lost to 31-year-old Harish Natarajan in a 25-minute rapid-fire exchange about pre-school subsidies - more

  8. Critical iOS bug could have given hackers complete control of your iPhone over Wi-Fi - more

  9. Two out of three borrowers in the country are unaware of their CIBIL score, an indicator of creditworthiness, despite good progress on the financial inclusion front, according to a report - more

  10. South Indian cities Bengaluru and Chennai top the branded housing supply compared to other markets such as NCR, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Of units launched in 2020 until September, a whopping 63% are by branded developers - more

nota bene

Army Reorg: As part of the reorganization of Army Headquarters, the government has approved the creation of a new deputy chief of strategy in the headquarters as per a plan first envisaged during the Doklam crisis with China in 2017. The government has also cleared the creation of the post of Director General Information Warfare in the headquarters who would be dealing with media affairs too. The government sanction letter for the creation of a new post of Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Strategy) as part of Army headquarters’ reorganization has been issued, Army sources said on Thursday. (Source)

Army Bridge reconstruction: The Indian Army has completed the reconstruction of a bridge over Irang River in Tamenglong district's Taubam village and restored the road connectivity of NH-37, the most important lifeline of Manipur. The highway connects Imphal and Jiribam and this step comes as a relief to the stranded locals. (Source)

MSP to remains says Govt: Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters, 'MSP (Minimum Support Price) will not be touched, no changes will be made to it,' adding that the next round of the meeting will be held on Saturday (December 5) at 2 PM.  Tomar said that the fourth round of talks has concluded in a very positive atmosphere, adding that there is 'no ego involved' and the government has agreed to 'discuss and consider with an open mind' all major points of concerns among farmers about the three new laws, including on strengthening of the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) mandi system, tax parity with proposed private mandis and freedom for farmers to approach higher courts for any dispute resolution.  (Source)

US Dollars spirals to a new low: The greenback is spiraling lower, probing levels last seen in April 2018, judging by a Bloomberg index. The tumble is part of a broader move across financial markets to price in brighter growth prospects for 2021 and the potential for superior investment opportunities outside the U.S., in large part as hopes for a coronavirus vaccine build. Dollar bears are feeling encouraged by the breadth of the currency’s declines this week: The euro, the Australian and Canadian dollars and the Korean won have all touched their highest levels in more than two years, while the Swiss franc is at its strongest since 2015. The pound is at the highest in roughly a year, even amid the uncertainty surrounding Brexit. (Source)

Delivery-only Ghost kitchens: Ghost kitchens are popping up all over the U.S. as food delivery soars and dining at restaurants plummets amid the pandemic. These businesses, which can host food preparation for multiple restaurants at a single location, are attracting interest from investors and restaurateurs.  (Source)

great explanation of farm bills

Here is a non-nonsense, dispassionate explanation of the farm bills. Please watch it right away. This is how any topic needs to be addressed - with both, pros and cons.

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