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Science Monitor: 01 August 2020

Science Monitor: 01 August 2020


1. International Symposium on ‘Novel Ideas in Science and Ethics of Vaccines against COVID-19 Pandemic:


Traditionally the development of any vaccine can take about 10 to 15 years but the pandemic of COVID 19 is pushing the researchers and the pharmaceuticals companies to develop a vaccine in the shortest possible time frame and this calls for new ideas in science to develop a vaccine ethically, to ponder on such ideas Indian Council of Medical Research conducted an international symposium on novel ideas in science and ethics of vaccines against COVID 19 pandemics on 30th of July.

                                         Novel coronavirus: The hunt for a virus killer - The Economic Times

About the Vaccine:

  • Covid-19 vaccine candidates have reached various stages of clinical trials in many countries including India but there are many doubts surrounding the process of rapid vaccine development.
  • To address these doubts an international symposium was organized on 30th July under the ages of the Indian Council of Medical Research where some of the best minds in the field of vaccine development came together virtually and discussed the new and strategic ideas and science for developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The experts presented their views on ensuring the safety of the vaccines, ethics of human challenge trials which involves affecting healthy humans with the live virus equitable distribution of vaccine and the potential danger of vaccine nationalism.
  • The principle of distributing vaccines between population roughly countries should be based on the need for that vaccine and the potential of the vaccine to improve health given the impending risk that a number of people have already mentioned of vaccine nationalism whereby wealthy countries attempt to monopolize supplies for their own population or powerful countries of various sorts.
  • During the symposium, India assured the best scientific and ethical principles will be followed to develop a vaccine in the country and the International experts exhibited their confidence in India for large scale production of a potential vaccine to meet the demand of the whole world


  • MoES was formed in the year 2006 by the merger of the Indian Meteorological Department, The National center for medium-range weather forecasting, Indian Institute of Weather Forecasting, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, The Earth Risk Evaluation Development and The Ministry of Ocean Development.
  • India is the only country which has a dedicated Ministry for Earth Sciences.
  • The MoES also launched a Knowledge Resource Centre Network (KRC Net) to integrate all MoES knowledge resources and databases in this field set up under the Digital India Flagship.
  • The aim of KRC Net is to provide the entire knowledge resources of the ministry and its institutions to the public 24/7 on a single web portal.
  • This will involve updating the traditional library system into top-notch digital one providing online access to hundreds of journals and magazines, books, videos, news and publications under quality control and ISO certified system.
  • The MoES had many significant achievements since its inception. Currently, India is offering the world’s best weather service for disaster management with an accurate warning of tropical cyclones, heat waves and floods.
  • India has also developed for the first time an Earth System Model for future climate projection and going to start the first phase of instrumentation to set up the atmospheric research test beds in 2021, the unique facility in tropics.

2. ‘Mausam’ app to provide city-wise weather information in five service areas:


On 27th of July on the occasion of its foundation day, the Ministry of Earth Sciences launched a new weather app called Mausam. The day also saw the launch of Knowledge Resource Centre Network (KRC NET) for researchers interested in Earth Sciences. The function was held at Prithvi Bhavan in New Delhi and was attended by Union Minister Dr. Harshvardhan along with other officials and scientists.

About the App:

  • Accurate prediction of weather conditions not only helps sectors like agriculture, utility market and Etiqueta #màusàm al Twittertourism but also saves lives from impeding disasters. Therefore, to provide up to date weather information in multiple cities of India, a new weather app called MAUSAM was launched on 27th July on the occasion of the 14th foundation day of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • This app will have forecasts of the next seven days for about 450 cities of the country and weather information of the last 24 hours.
  • Apart from this, other information including temperature humidity level, wind speed, and direction of about 200 cities will be updated 8 times a day.
  • In addition, the meteorological department will issue warnings of bad weather and its impact at the district level from 800 stations through the app.
  • The app has been developed by the International Crops Research Institute for semi-arid tropics, ICRI, SAT, India Institute of Tropical Meteorology, IITM Pune and Indian Meteorological Department.

3. IIT Kharagpur develops portable device to detect COVID-19:

Context:Coronavirus | IIT-Kharagpur develops technology for rapid COVID-19 ... 

Scientists and researchers of the country constantly working to develop new solutions for the diagnosis of COVID-19. The researchers at IIT, Kharagpur have developed a new portable device for the rapid diagnosis of COVID-19 infection. With the new device, the test result becomes available within one hour in a customized Smartphone application.

About the Device:

  • The IIT Kharagpur has developed a new device for the rapid diagnosis of COVID-19, which does not need Rt pcr machine or laboratory infrastructure. The institute’s school of bioscience and department of mechanical engineering have collaborated to develop the first of its kind device to diagnose the viral infection.
  • This device is to be usable at locations where resources are extremely limited, the environment is absolutely uncontrolled and so that needs of the underserved community can be catered.
  • In this particular protocol three different checkpoints are added. In the first step specific probes which is called Primers which can specifically detect the viral RNA and then convert it into millions of copies of DNA. Subsequently in the second step those DNA molecules get detected specifically by the second probe. Finally, these reaction mixture applied on the paper cartridge, where the third probe has been added which can detect the probe which has been used in the second step.
  • So, these three probes acts as specific checkpoints which ensure high precision and accuracy of the test result.
  • Since this innovation has reduced the need for complex setups and expensive machines, rapid testing can be done at a total cost of Rs 400 and interestingly while the Rt pcr machine costs around 15 lakhs this device costs just 2000 rupees.
  • The device has been validated for the diagnostics of COVID-19 but it can also detect any other kind of RNA virus by following the same generic procedure.

4. 25 years of Mobile Revolution in India:


The first mobile call in India was made on the 31st of July 1995. Within 25 years of this historic development, India has seen unprecedented progress in this sector and today country is at the threshold of adopting 5G technology.


The Tele-density in the country:

  • Today India has more than billion cell phone subscriptions. In fact, just 25 years back the number of wired telecom subscriber were under 15 million and many of the people in the country did not have access to phones and it used to take more than a year sometimes to get the landline connections.
  • With the advent of cellular mobile communications, it has become the primary voice communication device for almost each Indian.
  • India has become the second-largest telecom market in the world.
  • The overall tele-density in the country has become significant but the rural tele-density is still low and the broadband penetration in the rural area is also requires a significant push.
  • 2G brought mobile voice revolution, 3G added some internet data, 4G brought the broadband communications and the 5G is actually going to make an all-pervasive digital world. It is going to enable massive machine type communications Internet of Things.
  • The requirement of India is a bit different from the requirement in the western world, for example, we don’t need high-speed mobility.
  • The cellular mobile communication has become the primary device even from broadband connectivity.
  • Post-COVID it can be also seen that the use of online access has become even more important whether it is for the e-government services or whether even for educations. Therefore it is extremely important that in a scenario where a large population is working from home, it is accessing the e-government services, a large population of students is also accessing the school and colleges online we have everyone digitally empowered.

Facts and figures

  • Total telephone connections in India, both mobile and landline, grew 19% to 119 crores in 2018-19 from 99 crores in 2014-15. 98% or 117 crores of these are mobile connections, as of September 2019. Teledensity in India is now 90%, urban teledensity is 161% and rural is 57%.
  • Internet subscribers, both broadband and narrowband, stood at 67 crores as of June 2019, up from 25 crores in 2014.
  • Of this, 64 crores were mobile internet subscribers, and the only 2.1 crore was wired subscribers.
  • Broadband connections increased 10 times to 59 crores in June 2019. Data usage reached 4.62 crore terabytes in 2018.
  • India is the leader in monthly data consumption with average consumption per subscriber per month growing to 9.8 GB in June 2019, an increase of 157 times from 62 MB in 2014.


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