Let’s go back

Ashok Karania

Let’s go back
Let’s go back

The city of dreams has failed us
Covid & system has jailed us

The city is divided in multiple zones
Almost all hearts have turned stones

Kind-hearted NGOs indeed show humanity
Though how long can we live on charity?

Labourer, driver, vendor, helper, plumber
All are just a statistical number

Human relations are ephemeral
Selfish interests are eternal

The hands that built villas, offices and malls
Struggle lifetime to get their own four walls

The hands that drive people in imported cars
Often buy more sadness than goods from bazaars

The hands that work tirelessly in factories and shops
Miseries of their heart never stops

The hands that help on farms and break stones
Live a life that is cut to the bones

Let’s go back
Let’s go back

Does a long term future exist?
Is Gandhi’s village economy a myth?

Maybe we will have to return again
Maybe we will have to burn again

Maybe we will have financial stress again
Maybe we will embrace distress again

But today’s separation is a greater pain
Heart has replaced the brain

Let’s go back
Let’s go back

Bribing and begging with the fixer
Stuffing life’s belonging in a concrete mixer

Going back is filled with unpredictability
Reaching home is not a certainty

Tracks have seen many brethren die
Unable to even say final good-bye

Highways are painted with fresh blood red
Rolling suitcases are children’s new bed

May we survive the danger
May we survive the hunger

It will end our tyranny
It will bring rewards many

Mother’s face will shine
Kids’ embrace divine

Life with hope 
Life with unity
Life with dignity
Life with humanity

[I was pained to read about the suffering of migrants in India. It prompted me to write a small note]

e.mail : [email protected]

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / Features

Human ingenuity & perseverance

Durgesh Modi

In times of this pandemic genuine good news are hard to come by. This is one of them. Race for a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 is like a marathon that is being run at the pace of a 100 meter sprint. With more than 100 vaccine candidates in the pipeline, vaccine developed by the Jenner Institute of the Oxford University is the clear front runner. The institute, named after Edward Jenner, the English physician who developed the small pox vaccine & revolutionized the field preventive medicine, is currently headed by professor Adrian Hill. Prof Hill has been at the forefront of vaccine science for many years with most of his research for malaria, ebola & MERS vaccines.

Instead of the classical way of viral vaccine making where the weakened version of a virus is used to trigger an immune response, this vaccine uses different approach. First, a different virus, in this case a respiratory virus found in chimpanzees, is modified to neutralize it's effects. Later the same virus was tweaked to mimic the SARS-CoV-2. Initially it was developed to fight the MERS virus, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2. When cases began to increase in China in late January, with full viral genome sequence being released by the Chinese scientists, Jenner institute decided to alott some resources for a small vaccine project for this novel coronavirus. Little did they know that their small project, in just 2 month's time would spreadhead the search for a vaccine against the deadliest pandemic in over 100 years.

In the preclinical phase of the trial, 6 rhesus macaque monkeys vaccinated with this vaccine showed no signs of illness even after 28 days after being exposed to large quantities of SARS-CoV-2 virus. Similar exposures consistently caused infections in other monkeys. Phase I is already underway with 1100 people in randomized placebo controlled clinical trial. Aside from measurements of antibody production - i.e. body's response to the vaccine, this is the phase in which safety & tolerability between the actual vaccine & a placebo are measured in a relatively smaller group of healthy human subjects.

Multicenter combined phase II & III trials consisting of more than 5000 participants is expected to begin before the end of May, 2020 which may also include Indian collaboration. This larger scale part of the trial will see researchers continually monitor vaccine's efficacy, along with it's immunogenicity & toxicity. If all goes well, this vaccine may get it's fasttrack FDA approval by September of this year. The Jenner institute has already made clear that it will not sell it's exclusive rights/patent to any company to prevent profiteering in these distressing times. 6 asian & european firms have already signed up for the mass production of this potential vaccine, pune based Serum Institute of India being of them. Serum institute is even going to invest a substantial amount of money & resources on starting the vaccine production by May end, so that if the vaccine gets FDA approval by September, world doesn't have to wait for further 2-3 months to start deploying it.

Even if this vaccine doesn't succeed, it will teach us a great deal more about this devious virus which in turn will be helpful in all future vaccine making efforts. Humankind will win the fight against this treacherous virus & it will not be by god's grace or some miracle but by human ingenuity & perseverance

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / Features