Morning Digest: Covaxin phase-1 trial results promising, ISRO to launch communications satellite today, and more

Phase-1 results show that Covaxin, a proposed COVID-19 vaccine, is safe. The results find it to be well-tolerated in all dose groups, and that it generates immune response according to results released in a preprint paper titled ‘A Phase 1: Safety and Immunogenicity Trial of an Inactivated SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine- BBV152’.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch a communications satellite, CMS-01, on board the PSLV-C50 from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR on Thursday. The launch is scheduled to take place at 3.41 p.m. and the 25-hour countdown for the launch began at 2.21 p.m. on Wednesday.

A Chinese lunar capsule has returned to Earth with the first fresh samples of rock and debris from the moon in more than 40 years. The capsule of the Chang’e 5 probe landed in the Siziwang district of the Inner Mongolia region on December 17, state media reported shortly after 2:00 a.m. (1800 GMT).

The U.S. Treasury labeled Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators on Wednesday and added three new names, including India, to a watch list of countries it suspects of taking measures to devalue their currencies against the dollar.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)]-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) has managed to gain a clear upper hand in the local body elections in Kerala, even as the State gears up for the crucial Assembly polls next year.

Agricultural reforms are India’s internal matter but the protests here are part of British politics too, said the visiting British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who “discussed” the ongoing farmers protests at Delhi’s borders during talks with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

The Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday approved the National Security Directive on Telecommunication Sector mandating telecom service providers to procure equipment from sources designated to be “trusted”, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a press conference.

India dropped two ranks in the United Nations’ Human Development Index this year, standing at 131 out of 189 countries. However, if the Index were adjusted to assess the planetary pressures caused by each nation’s development, India would move up eight places in the ranking, according to the report.

The government on Wednesday approved a subsidy of ₹ 3,500 crore to sugar mills for the export of 60 lakh tonnes of sweetener during the ongoing marketing year 2020-21 as part of its efforts to help them clear outstanding dues to sugarcane farmers.

Minority shareholder Shapoorji Pallonji Group on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the removal of Cyrus Mistry as executive chairman of Tata Sons was oppressive and illegal.

India’s diesel sales fell 5.2% in the first half of December compared with the same month last year, preliminary data from state-run fuel retailers showed on Wednesday, signalling that industrial growth in Asia’s third-largest economy has not yet reached pre-COVID-19 levels.

As the country readies to implement its COVID-19 vaccination programme, vaccine hesitancy could be an issue that the government needs to address forthwith. The results of an online survey showed that there was considerable hesitation even among the medical community to take the vaccine as soon as it is available.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday denied recent media investigations that alleged the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had followed and poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

India’s GDP is expected to shrink 7.4% in FY21 on a better-than-projected recovery, SBI said in a research report, upgrading its earlier forecast of a 10.9% contraction.

A peerless Virat Kohli and his “fearless” India would look to unleash their might on an Australian team which is ready for revenge but not exactly in ‘pink of health’ ahead of the first Day/Night Test starting here on Thursday.

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