News: June 28, 2020

Sub: Science And Technology
Topic: Physics And Chemistry
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 1/7

COVID Control

Drugs

  • Dexamethasone
    • Is an anti-inflammatory drug, and has gained traction for its success against corona virus
    • UK's 'RECOVERY Trial' study showed success with low doses of Dexamethasone to target lung inflammation
    • As per Clinical Management Protocol, it can be used as an alternative to methylprednisolone for managing moderate to severe cases.
    • Dexamethasone is part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM)
  • Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)
    • Anti-malarial drug, which was seen as part of preventive treatment against COVID
      • WHO in June said HCQ shows very limited success in reducing mortality rate of COVID patients. Following this, India lifted all bans on its export.
    • Cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients under emergency use
  • Methylprednisolone - anti-inflammatory drug used in COVID-19 treatment
  • Favipiravir
    • Sold under brand FabiFflu, is an anti-viral drug for COVID-19 patients from age group 18-75 with mild to moderate symptoms
    • Originally developed to treat influenza
  • Itolizumab 
    • From biocon, approved by ICMR for patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress
    • Normally used to cure skin ailment psoriasis
  • Remdesivir
    • Antiviral drug, cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients under emergency use for patients in moderate stage requiring oxygen support
    • As part of the agreements, the drugmakers will receive technology transfer of the manufacturing process for Remdesivir, and get to set their own prices for the generic product they produce.
    • The licenses are royalty-free until the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding COVID-19 or until an alternative is approved to treat or prevent COVID-19, whichever is earlier.
  • Tocilizumab
    • Antiviral drug, cleared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for treatment of COVID-19 patients with moderate disease with progressively increasing oxygen requirements and in mechanically ventilated patients not improving despite use of steroids
    • Thwarts pro-inflammatory cytokines released by immune system
  • Covaxin
    • Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) has permitted phase-I and II of human clinical trials of ‘Covaxin’, the country’s first vaccine candidate for COVID-19, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR-National Institute of Virology
    • It is an inactivated vaccine, wherein a dead virus is injected into the body to generate an antibody response
  • Sputnik V
    • The vaccine is based on an adenoviral vector which normally causes respiratory viral infections. Vectors are vehicles, which can induce a genetic material from another virus into a cell.
    • The gene from adenovirus, which causes the infection is removed, while a gene with the code of a protein from another virus spike is inserted. This inserted element is safe for the body but still helps the immune system to react and produce antibodies, which protect us from the infection.
    • Sputnik V uses two vaccines using two different vectors, the second vaccination takes place in 21 days for long lasting immunity

Initiatives

  • Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19
    • By Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
    • Symptoms - fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, sore throat and diarrhoea. They have also complained of loss of smell (anosmia) or loss of taste (ageusia)
    • Risk factors - For ages more than 60 years, and in those with underlying non-communicable disease like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac arrest, etc.
    • Treatment
      • Mild COVID-19 cases - may be given symptomatic treatment such as antipyretic (Paracetamol) for fever and pain.
      • Moderate COVID019 cases - patients will be isolated in Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC) or District hospital or Medical College hospitals.
      • Severe - Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) may be considered for any of those having high risk features for severe disease
  • Policy Responses to COVID19: Policy tracker by International Monetary Fund, summarizes the key economic responses, governments are taking to limit the human and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Index (CESI)
    • By Columbia University and World Bank, the index standardises the economic responses taken by governments, thus allowing use to study cross-country differences in policies
    • The two main components of index are: fiscal stimulus package (as a percentage of GDP) and the interest rate cut by the monetary policy authority 

Terminology

  • Pre-symptomatic spread - Pre-symptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who don't look or feel sick, but will eventually get symptoms later. 
  • Asymptomatic spread  - Asymptomatic spread is the transmission of the virus by people who do not have symptoms and will never get symptoms from their infection.
  • Spike protein / S protein - A protein that protrudes from the surface of SARS-CoV-2 virus that attaches it to human enzyme ACE2 receptor, after which the virus enters the cell and makes multiple copies of itself.

Tests

  • Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay antibody test (ELISA)
    • developed by National Institute of Virology in Pune along with Zydus Cadila. 
    • The blood sample is placed inside the small wells of an ELISA plate. These plates are coated with the antigen or the inactivated form of the virus. If the blood contains antibodies, it binds to the antigen and a substrate solution is added to the well. The reaction usually produces a colour change, thus detecting antibodies.
    • In India, the ELISA test for Covid-19 is only approved for serosurveys - which estimate the proportion of the population exposed to infection, and for surveys in high-risk areas and segments like containment zones
  • Rapid Antigen Detection Test (RADT)
    • Approved by ICMR. RADT checks for antigen production from a nasal swab.
      • An antigen means any toxin in the body which produces an immune response.
    • It takes about 30 minutes to give result. However rapid test has been found to have a higher chance of false negatives.
  • Real Time Reverse Transcription–Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR)
    • Real time RT–PCR is one of the most precise (and expensive) laboratory methods for detecting the COVID-19 virus.
    • Cleared by ICMR, it takes about 1 day to get result
    • Once the swab is taken, RT–PCR checks for virus's RNA
    • RT–PCR cannot be used for detecting past infections, only for active infections.
  • TrueNat
    • Commonly used for tuberculosis and HIV 
    • Cleared by ICMR, it works on same principle of RT-PCR. It involves taking nasal or oral swabs
    • The TrueNat machine is small and portable, mostly running on batteries, and provides result within 60 minutes.

A positive result from ELISA or rapid antibody test may not mean the person needs isolation or is infectious; it may simply mean the person was exposed to the virus and has developed antibodies. These two tests, being cheaper than RT-PCR, are employed in large-scale population surveys

Treatment

  • Convalescent plasma therapy
    • Convalescent plasma therapy is a passive immunisation process. It is simply the transfusion of plasma containing antibodies from immune survivors of infectious diseases to the affected individuals
    • As per protocol by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare , Convalescent plasma therapy may be considered for patients with moderate illness with no improvement in condition despite the use of steroids.

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • SARS-COVID 2, COVID-19
    • Drug approvals
  • July, 20
    • Russian vaccine clears first phase clinical trial.
    • ICMR cautions itolizumab, tocilizumab over claims of significantly reducing mortality rates
    • A new research shows spike protein changing its shape to hairpin form after attaching to ACE2 receptors
  • Aug, 20
    • Russia registers first COVID-19 vaccine

Sub: Society
Topic: Human Development Health
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 2/7

Disease Handling And Prevention

Organizations

National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)

  • NCDC, erstwhile National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), was established to function as a national centre of excellence for control of communicable diseases
  • The Institute is under administrative control of the Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC)

  • Established in 1953 by the Government of India, with the primary objective to promote, develop and commercialise the technologies 
  • Under the administrative control of the Dept. of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology
  • NavRakshak - NRDC has licensed the manufacturing know-how of a PPE (personal protective equipment) suit named - ‘NavRakshak’ - to five MSME clients to meet the demand for quality PPE kits.

Initiatives

Infectious disease diagnostic lab (I-Lab)

  • Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare launched the country’s first mobile I-Lab (Infectious disease diagnostic lab) for last mile COVID-19 testing access.
  • It will be deployed in remote, interior and inaccessible parts of the country and have the capability to perform COVID-19 RT-PCR tests, ELISA tests, additional tests for TB, HIV etc. as per CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) rates.
  • I-LAB is supported by the Department of Biotechnology and Ministry of Science & Technology under the COVID Command strategy.

Sero prevalence surveys

  • Sero prevalence surveys are designed to look for the presence of antibodies in the blood, produced in response to the coronavirus.
    • The coronavirus, in general, diminishes after 21 days. Antibodies, for a host of other viral infections, are normally expected to linger for many months.
    • It is different from RT-PCR tests or antigen tests which scan for the presence of the coronavirus in the body
    • The results of surveys are only for surveillance purposes and not for diagnosis of individual patients. 
  • The surveillance is conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in collaboration with key stakeholders and state health departments. 
  • The agencies use a combination of RT-PCR and Elisa antibody kits for these surveys. Throat and nasal swabs are collected for RT-PCR tests. In addition to RT-PCR tests, blood samples are collected for detecting IgG antibodies for Elisa testing
  • Results
    • In first sero survey across country, it was found that 0.73% of surveyed population had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2
    • In second sero survey across vulnerable spots in Delhi, it was found that 9-11% of surveyed population had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • NCDC to conduct a serological survey to analyze spread of COVID-19 in Delhi
  • July, 20
    • HC tells NCDC to submit results, analysis of sero-survey

Sub: Science And Technology
Topic: Biology
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 3/7

Conditions and diseases in focus

Diseases

  • MRSA Super bug / Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus - MRSA super bug is a bacterium that causes infections in different parts of the body. It's tougher to treat because it develops quick resistance to antibiotics. It is naturally found in nose and on skin.
  • Canine distemper / footpad disease (CDV) - A viral disease that affect a wide variety of animal families. It is caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae, and it is highly contagious via inhalation.
  • Pneumonia
    • Caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. It is both preventable and curable.
    • India had the second-highest number of deaths of children under the age of five in 2018 due to pneumonia, after Nigeria in 2019
    • Responsible for 15 per cent of deaths in children under the age of five
    • Serum institute has developed first fully indigenously conjugate vaccine for pneumonia
  • Swine flu
    • Respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs.
    • In 2009 a strain of swine flu called H1N1 infected many people around the world.
    • Influenza viruses can transmit between human to human, human to pigs, and pigs to humans, mainly through coughing and sneezing
    • G4 flu virus
      • A new strain G4 Eurasian-Avian like (EA) H1N1 has been discovered infecting pigs in China
      • G4 strain has the capability of binding to human-type receptors (like, the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to ACE2 receptors in humans)

Tuberculosis

  • Caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TB is a contagious infection that usually attacks your lungs. It can spread to other parts of your body, like your brain and spine.
  • Symptoms include - cough, fever, blood coughing, night seats, weight loss.
  • There are two types of drug resistant TB
    • Multi drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) : MDR TB is the name given to TB when the bacteria that are causing it are resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, two of the most effective TB drugs
    • Extensively drug resistant tuberculosis  (XDR-TB) : XDR-TB is a form of TB caused by bacteria that are resistant to isoniazid and rifampicin, and other most effective anti-TB drugs. XDR-TB strains, rare, arose after the mismanagement of individuals with MDR-TB.
  • Treatment
    • Directly Observed Treatment - Short Course (DOTS) - Its a treatment strategy recommended by WHO. The strategy has five components - Government component (finance and accountability), detecting bacteria through sputum smear microscopy followed by culture and drug susceptibility test (DST), Supervised treatment, Drug supply, and Monitoring and evaluation
  • India
    • India has highest number of TB cases, about 2.7 million
    • Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) - The National TB Programme (NTP) was started by government in 1962, which was renamed to Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP) in 1993
      • Managed by Central TB Division (CTD), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s (MOHFW)
      • Released a ‘National strategic plan for tuberculosis 2017-2025’ (NSP) for the control and elimination of TB in India by 2025. 
        • NSP focuses on private sector engagement
        • Project PEET - By PATH (non-profit) and private providers which connected patients in the private sector with free TB drugs in the public sector for increased case notifications and treatment outcomes
        • Project JEET  - By CHRI (non-profit) and Ministry of Health, focusing on access to affordable TB diagnostics in the private sector, as well as helping patients to stay on treatment until it is completed, while reducing the cost of that treatment
      • NIKSHAY: Web based TB surveillance system

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • CDV that killed 36 lions in Gir, Gujarat in 2018, still prevails
  • July, 20
    • Report of a new strain of H1N1 infecting workers in china, transmitted from pig
    • Serum institute has developed first fully indigenously conjugate vaccine for pneumonia

Sub: History
Topic: Modern India
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 4/7

Historical events in focus

Treaties

  • Treaty of Sugauli in 1815-16 
    • The treaty ended the Anglo-Nepalese War
    • Nepal ceded the districts of Garhwal and Kumaon, and withdrew from Sikkim
    • It also stipulated that 'the Kali River' would mark Nepal’s western border with the British East India Company

Rebellion

  • Mappila Revolt / Malabar Rebellion 1921 - It started as agitation by muslim tenants (Mappilas) against hindu landlords oppression. It later merged with on going Khilafat movement, with leaders like Gandhi, Shaukat Ali and Maulana Azad addressing Mappila meetings. In August 1921, arrest of a local leader Ali Musaliar led to riots and soon the revolt became communal in nature and was finally subdued by December 1921.

[In News]

  • Controversy in Kerala over a film project about Mappila revolt.

Sub: Politics
Topic: Governance Agencies and Bodies
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 5/7

Corruption

Enforcement Directorate (ED)

  • Directorate of Enforcement is a specialized financial investigation agency under the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
  • It comprises officers from Indian Revenue Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Administrative Service.
  • Enforcement Directorate enforces following two Acts
    • Foreign Exchange Management Act 1999 (FEMA) 
      • FEMA allows only authorised person (defined by Reserve Bank) to hold, transfer and exchange in foreign securities
      • It imposes a penalty of upto three times of original sum involved for contravening Acts' provision, or conditions subject for authorisation
      • Failing to make full payment of the penalty imposed under section 13, within a period of ninety days from the date on which the notice is served will make defaulter liable to civil imprisonment.
      • Section 37 empowers Enforcement Directorate to exercise the power of investigation for any contravention that may occur under FEMA.
    • Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002 (PMLA)
      • The Act came into force in 2005, and provides for confiscation of property derived from money laundering, impose penalty and prison on confiscators
      • Financial Intelligence Unit - India (FIU-IND) is the central, national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analyzing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions to enforcement agencies and foreign FIUs.
      • Investigation is to be carried by Enforcement Directorate.

State anti corruption bodies

Some states have their own anti-corruption agencies and courts

  • Anti-Corruption Bureau - Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan
  • Anti Corruption Organisation - uttar pradesh
  • Lokayukts - Kerala

[In News]

  • Rajasthan ACB to investigate MLA poaching in state
  • ED - Nirav Modi in PNB case. Sterling Biotech case

Sub: Politics
Topic: Constitution Constitutional and Statutory bodies
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 6/7

Finance Commission

Article 280 of the Constitution of India provides for a Finance Commission as a quasi judicial body. It is constituted by the president of India every fifth year or at such earlier time as he considers necessary.

  • Constitution
    • The Finance Commission consists of a chairman and four other members to be appointed by the president. They hold office for such period as specified by the president in his order. They are eligible for reappointment.
    • Constitution aloows Parliament to determine qualifications and selection process. The chairman should be a person having experience in public affairs and the four other members should be selected from amongst the following: - a judge of high court or one qualified to be appointed as one; and people with knowledge of finance, administration, and economics
  • Functions
    • Distribution between the Union and the States of the net proceeds of taxes 
    • Suggest principles which should govern the grants-in-aid of the revenues of the States (Article 275) out of the Consolidated Fund of India. The Grants-in-aid cover Revenue Deficit of States, Local Body grants (rural and urban local bodies), and grants to augment SDRF.
    • To augment the Consolidated Fund of a State, on the basis of the recommendations made by the Finance Commission of the State, for supplementing resources of Municipalities and Panchayats 
  • Recommendations made by Commission are advisory in nature.
  • The commission submits its report to the president who tables it in Parliament.

15th Finance Commission was required to submit two reports. The first report, consisting of recommendations for the financial year 2020-21, was tabled in Parliament on February 1, 2020.  The final report with recommendations for the 2021-26 period will be submitted by October 30, 2020.  

Report recommendations for the financial year 2020-21

  • Share of states in the centre’s taxes is recommended to be decreased from 42% during the 2015-20 period to 41% for 2020-21. This 1% share will be diverted to newly formed Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh
  • Grants-in-aid : Commission has proposed a framework for sector-specific and performance-based grants
    • Sector-specific grants : Guidelines for Sector-specific grants include - nutrition, health, pre-primary education, judiciary, rural connectivity, railways, police training, and housing.
    • Performance-based grants : Guidelines for performance-based grants include:
      • implementation of agricultural reforms,
      • development of aspirational districts and blocks
      • power sector reforms
      • enhancing trade including exports
      • incentives for education, and
      • promotion of domestic and international tourism.
  • Recommendations on fiscal roadmap
    • Governments should focus on debt consolidation, and disclose their extra-budgetary borrowings.
      • debt consolidation is the process of paying debts by taking loan over a long manageable period
    • Broaden the tax base, and streamline tax rates.
    • Address state dependency on Centre for GST revenue shortfalls.

In Focus

  • Fiscal Council: Setting up a Fiscal Council was first recommended by the Thirteenth Finance Commission, subsequently endorsed by the Fourteenth Finance Commission and then by the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Review Committee headed by N.K. Singh.

[In News]

  •  June, 20
    • Centre deciding to take the ordinance route to push through reforms in agricultural marketing and contract farming
  • July, 20
    • Need for a "Fiscal Council" in current times, where government is required to spend more.

Sub: Science And Technology
Topic: Physics And Chemistry
Weightage:
Category: Prelims & Mains

 

News: 7/7

Physics Concepts In Focus

Energy

Solar Energy

  • Electricity can be produced directly from solar energy using photovoltaic devices or indirectly from steam generators using solar thermal collectors to heat a working fluid.
  • Photovoltaic energy: Photovoltaic energy is the conversion of sunlight into electricity through a photovoltaic (PVs) cell, commonly called a solar cell.  A photovoltaic cell is  usually made from silicon alloys and gallium.
  • Sunlight is composed of photons, or particles of solar energy.  These photons contain various amounts of energy corresponding to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum.  When photons strike a photovoltaic cell, they may be reflected, pass right through, or be absorbed.  Only the absorbed photons provide energy to generate electricity, by separating negatively charged electrons from rest of the atoms. These electron produce electrical current that can be collected.
  • Solar Constant: The solar energy reaching unit area at outer edge of the earth’s atmosphere exposed perpendicularly to the rays of the Sun at the average distance between the Sun and earth
  • In 2015, India set a target of 175GW of power generation by 2022 in UN climate conference in Paris. Of this 100GW is to be generated in solar energy.
    • Currently its upto 50GW after Rewa solar plant.

Optics

Optical Fiber

  • Working: Optical fiber work on the principle of Total Internal Reflection
  • Total Internal Reflection
    • When light passes from a medium with one index of refraction (m1) to another medium with a lower index of refraction (m2), it bends or refracts away from an imaginary line perpendicular to the surface (normal line).
    • Total Internal Reflection occurs if the angle of incidence is greater than a certain limiting angle, called the critical angle.
    • At all angles less than the critical angle, both refraction and reflection occur in varying proportions.
  • Types: Normally, fiber optic cable comes in two types, namely, single mode fiber (SMF) and multi mode fiber (MMF). 
    • Single mode fiber i: Single mode fiber is the simplest structure. It contains a very thin core, and all signals travel straight down the middle without bouncing off the edges. Single mode fiber optic cables are typically used for CATV, Internet, and telephone applications
    • Multi mode fiber: Multimode fiber is the other type of fiber optic cable. It is about 10 times larger than a single mode cable. The light beams can travel though the core by following a variety of different paths, or in multiple different modes. These cable types can only send data over short distances. Therefore, they are used, among other applications, for interconnecting computer networks.
  • Of all materials, silica (mostly SiO2) is most widely used as it has wide wavelength range, low absorption, and low scattering losses. It also has high elasticity and doesnt absorb moisture from air (hygroscopic)
    • Although light signals do degrade over progressing distances, depending on the purity of the material used, the loss is much less compared to using metal cables.
  • Raman effect:  Raman effect is the inelastic scattering of photons by matter. When a light beam propagates in an optical fiber, spontaneous Raman scattering transfers (SRS) some of the photons to new frequencies, thus modifying the wavelength of light

Space

  • Gravitational wave
    • A gravitational wave is an invisible (yet incredibly fast) ripple in space. Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light and squeeze and stretch anything in their path as they pass by. 
    • They were first detected in 2015 by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). Comprising two enormous laser interferometers (LIGO detectiors) located 3000 kilometers apart, LIGO exploits the physical properties of light and of space. There is another detector VIRGO in Italy.

 

[In News]

  • June, 20
    • LIGO and VIRGO have detected an unusual compact object whose mass falls in between that of a typical black hole and a neutron star
  • July, 20
    • Rewa Ultra Mega Solar - 750 MW solar power project in Rewa district, Madhya Pradesh
  • Aug, 20
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an undersea optical fibre cable connecting the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with Chennai 

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