- India’s rotavirus vaccine to combat diarrhoeal deaths launched
- India, China led investments in renewable energy in 2015: UN
Environment & Ecology
- Noyyalai Nokki project begins
Science & Technology
- Sun may produce devastating superflares, say scientists
India’s rotavirus vaccine to combat diarrhoeal deaths launched
Union health ministry has launched the rotavirus vaccine-Rotavac- as part of its universal immunisation programme to prevent diarrhoeal deaths due to the virus which claims lives of nearly one lakh children every year.
The vaccine has been developed indigenously under a public-private partnership by the ministries of science and technology and health and family welfare.
- The vaccine will be initially introduced in four states– Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha. Its coverage will be expanded to the entire country in a phased manner.
- An estimated 8.53 lakh children under the age of one will be administered the vaccine annually at 6, 10 and 14 weeks.
Significance of Rotavac vaccine:
- Adding this life-saving vaccine to Universal immunisation programmewill not only improve the health of children but also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea due to rotavirus such as malnutrition and delayed physical and mental development among children. Besides, reduced hospitalisation eases the economic burden on the family and the health cost burden on the country.
- While the vaccine was already available in open market, the local manufacturing and free distribution under the centrally-sponsored immunisation programme is expected to further bring down prices.
- The Rotavacis in addition to three new vaccines that have been introduced in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) including Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Measles, Rubella (MR) vaccine, and Adult Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine. With these new vaccines, India’s UIP will provide free vaccines against 12 life threatening diseases, to 27 million children annually, the largest birth cohort in the world.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe vomiting and diarrhoea among infants and young children less than five years of age.
- Nearly every child in the world has been infected with rotavirus at least once by the age of five.
- There are eight species of this virus, referred to as A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H. Rotavirus A, the most common species, causes more than 90% of rotavirus infections in humans.
- The virus is transmitted by the fæcal-oral route. It infects and damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis (which is often called “stomach flu” despite having no relation to influenza).
In 2014, nearly 80,000 children died due to to rotavirus, whereas about 9 lakh were hospitalised due to episodes of severe diarrhoea.
India, China led investments in renewable energy in 2015: UN
According to the recent Report published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), India and China have led the developing countries in investments made in renewable energy in 2015.
- The title of the report is ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment’.
Key findings of the report:
For the first time commitments of emerging economies in solar, wind and other renewables’ capacity have surpassed those by wealthy nations.
- Within the developing-economy category, the “Big Three” of India, China and Brazil saw investment rise 16%.
- In contrast, renewable energy investments by developed countries were down by 8 per cent in 2015.
- A large part of the record-breaking investment in developing countries took place in China, with its investment commitment up by 17%.
- India was also among the top 10 investing countries in renewable energy with its commitments rising 22% to USD 10.2 billion.
- It for the second time since 2011, India enjoyed a second successive year of increasing investment, breaching the USD 10 billion.
- United States, Japan, UK Brazil, South Africa, Mexico and Chile also made it to the top 10 investing countries in 2015.
Environment & Ecology
Noyyalai Nokki project begins
Noyyalai Nokki project, a people’s initiative to restore the 160-km long river Noyyal River and its tributaries, has been launched.
- Stakeholders in Coimbatore, Tirupur, and Erode and Karur Districts will jointly take efforts to restore the river through this initiative.
- The restoration project includes installation of decentralised sewage treatment plants, developing parks where space is available and laying walking paths along the river.
- The project will be implemented on divide-distribute-developmodel by forming committees for every 500 metres of the river.
- The initiative will involve educational institutions, businesses, the public and the Government.
About Noyyal River:
The Noyyal River rises from the Vellingiri hills in the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu and passes through Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode and Karur to join the Cauvery at Noyyal village.
Science & Technology
Sun may produce devastating superflares, say scientists
Scientists have indicated that the Sun is capable of producing monstrous eruptions or ‘superflares’ that can not only break down radio communication and power supplies, but also affect Earth’s ability to support life.
Incident of eruption on Earth:
Superflares have been a mystery since the Kepler mission discovered them in larger numbers four years ago.
- The largest observed eruption from the Sun took place in September 1859. Telegraph system worldwide went haywire, and ice core records from Greenland indicate the Earth’s protective ozone layer was damaged by the energetic particles from the solar storm
- Earth is often struck by solar eruptions. These eruptions consist of energetic particles that are hurled away from the Sun into space. But, when the Sun pours out gigantic amounts of hot plasma during large solar eruptions, it may have severe consequences.
Effects of superflares on:
- Loss of most radio communication because of increased ionisation in the atmosphere.
- Airline passengers on trans-polar flights would receive high radiation doses from the energetic particles (as would any astronauts or the crew of the International Space Station).
- Damage to or loss of all artificial satellites.
- In the strongest cases there would be severe damage to the biosphere, especially to primary photosynthesis in the oceans.
- Significant depletion of the ozone layer with increased risk of cataracts, sunburn and skin cancer, as well as damage to growing plants. The recovery time would be of the order of months to years.
- Failure of the electricity distribution system, possibly with damage to transformers and switching equipment.
- Loss of power to the cooling systems of spent fuel rods stored at nuclear power stations.