April 10, 2009

Paramount Airways to launch operations to Kolkata

CHENNAI: The city-based Paramount Airways is set to launch its operations in the Chennai-Kolkata sector by the end of this month. Paramount Airways Managing Director Thiagarajan recently met West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and discussed its proposal to make Kolkata as its gateway to northeastern operations, a release here said. The airline would launch operations of daily flights in the Chennai-Kolkata route connecting Guwahati and Agartala by the last week of April, a Paramount Airways official told PTI. The flight from Chennai would take off at 7:05 am and arrive Kolkata at 9.10am and from there proceed to Guwahati and Agartala. The return flight would leave Kolkata at 1.25 pm and reach Chennai at 3:30 pm. Paramount Airways launched its operations in October 2005 and has since achieved a market leadership of 27 per cent in southern India, the release added.

BJP for creation of smaller states: Jaswant Singh

SILIGURI (WB), 10 April: BJP candidate from Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat Jaswant Singh on Friday said his party was in favour of smaller states but refrained from saying if it was for creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland. He said BJP in principle favoured creation of smaller states and the NDA government had created three states in the country. Without uttering the word 'Gorkhaland', Singh told a press conference that his party would 'sympathetically and appropriately' examine and consider the long-pending demands of Gorkhas, adivasis and other people of the area. Later addressing an election rally at Sukhiapokhri in Darjeeling, Singh, describing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's demand for a separate seat as 'constitutional', said he would raise the matter on the floor of Parliament and do everything possible for the development of the district. The former external affairs minister, who is supported by GJM, accused West Bengal's Left front government for neglecting the district and the hills, in particular. He charged the Left Front government, during its 32 years of rule, had failed to provide the people of the district with minimum facilities like health, education, and road communication.

New oral cholera vaccine holds promise

New Delhi, April 10: A new low-cost oral vaccine against cholera, whose production technology has been transferred to India, could soon be made available to the people in the country’s endemic areas to help them gain immunity against the disease, which kills about 120,000 people globally every year.
“After 38 years of drought in cholera vaccination and cholera outbreaks not abating, it is very heartening to know that there is an affordable orally administered vaccine available now,” health ministry advisor N.K. Ganguly said Friday. He was participating in a policymakers’ meeting here Friday on the “Introduction of cholera vaccination using new-generation oral cholera vaccines in India”.

The vaccine, after trials and evaluation on a sample size of 70,000 people in Kolkata “has been found to provide over 60 percent protection and no decline in protection over two years”, John D. Clemens, director general of the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute (IVI), said at a press conference after the meeting.

Half of those in the sample size were given the new vaccine while the others were given placebos.
The IVI, which developed the vaccine, Feb 24 transferred its production technology to Hyderabad’s Shanta Biotech after the Drugs Controller General of India licensed this. “It is a simple vaccine that can be delivered orally through a syringe. It is well adapted and cost effective as on bulk production, its cost comes down to a dollar per dose,” Clemens pointed out.
“It has been found to be effective in all age groups,” he added.

According to Health Secretary V.M. Katoch, the policymakers’ meeting was a “scientific open forum which debated the various aspects of vaccine and recommended that the health ministry first introduce it in a guided manner in cholera endemic areas of West Bengal and Orissa. “Based on the experience gained, it could be expanded to other areas,” Katoch, who also heads the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), added.

He also pointed out that the vaccine would be recommended as a supplement to conventional tools like safe drinking water and sanitation in the battle against cholera and not its replacement to prevent cholera.

Describing the vaccine as “very innovative”, Ganguly, a former ICMR chief, said it incorporated all the important genes required to make it very selective and more effective without harming the intestines in any way.“It is designed to prevent even severe infections caused by various mutants of the cholera virus,” he added.

According to Clemens, the new vaccine meets international good manufacture practiced and the standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).And, with the new vaccine having global applications, India could become one of its four to five manufacturing hubs, Clemens pointed out. Representatives of ICMR, the health ministry, the Department of Biotechnology, the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases and IVI attended the policymakers’ meeting.