USA administers its first COVID-19 vaccine

USA has administered its first COVID – 19 vaccine to a critical care nurse, Sandra Lindsay at Long Island Jewish medical centre in Queens, New York. She received the shot live on television.

The distributor of the vaccine is Pfizer in collaboration BioNtech, a German firm. UK was the first country to administer Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York, monitors the hospitals in the USA administering the first dosages of the vaccines.

As of now, the USA has a death toll of over 300,000. The news of the vaccine comes as a relief for everybody who has been suffering. The vaccine has been distributed to 636 locations till now.

The vaccine which is being distributed by FedEx and USP is a challenge to transport and distribute while storing it at -70 degree Celsius as it needs to be stored in ultra-cold freezers at near-arctic temperatures.

‘Senior citizens, health care workers and first responders will be the first to get the vaccine’ said President Donald Trump days after the media criticized that White House senior officials will get the vaccine within 10 days.

Food and drug administration of the USA have authorized the vaccine last Friday, and the shipments have been sent out to each state of the USA with their respective zip code. The governor decides the priority of the group to be administered first. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended the vaccine for those aged 16 years and older in the USA.

Essential and healthcare workers are at immediate risk, which is why they will be given priority in each state to get the vaccines.

The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine is given as two shots within 21-day gaps, although the vaccine has proven to be effective from the first dosage itself.

Although the vaccine has come as a silver lining during these dark times, people are still advised to wear masks and maintain social distancing while they are in public places. It is still a long road to go before the vaccine is administered to a majority of the US population.

World war

Is a Third World War lurking around the corner?

A video surfaced on November 18th, with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), having done an all-out assault at the Taiwan Strait. This may lead to a full-blown war between Taiwan and China. The Chinese state media claimed that the Chinese president Xi Jinping is preparing for war at multiple points. This comes when China and India are at logger’s heads with each other at Pangong Tso. Troops have been deployed at both the sides and dialogues are going on to deescalate the tensions. There is also a trade war going on between the US and China. For instance, India, America, Japan and Australia have signed a pact to not let Chinese company Huawei operate in these countries due to privacy concerns. This may irk China even more against India and the US. There are tensions in Kashmir with Pakistan as well which has been going since the partition.  There is also escalated tensions between China and Japan in the South China Sea over the Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands. China has over the years, has been increasing its presence in the South China Sea.

As China prepares to go to war, in the West the outgoing US president had asked the White House officials for “options” to solve the Iran nuclear problem. His advisors, as per reports have been talking him out of it for now. Tensions have been escalating between Iran and the US after the top general of Iran Qassem Soleimani was killed in the US airstrikes in January.

With a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, fighting may have stopped for now. But the peace brokered by Russia has tilted power towards Azerbaijan. As other countries also have their stakes in this geopolitical conflict, tensions may escalate again in this region. Turkey, Pakistan and China strongly supported Azerbaijan, while Russia had its stakes on Armenia.

In the middle east with the Syrian Civil war raging for over 9 years now, more countries have got involved. With Russia and Iran backing the Syrian government, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are supporting the rebels. France, the UK and some other western countries are supporting what they call ‘moderate rebels.’  This tension in the middle east has caused a deterioration in the relationship between other countries like the tensions between the US and Turkey and even Iran and Israel.

With a stalemate between the US and North Korea over North Korea’s constant tests of nuclear missiles despite strict warnings from the US, maybe a cause for worry for another brimming war. In 2018, Trump was the first US president to visit North Korea but despite the Trump administrations offering a peace deal with North Korea, the country has shown little interest in peace negotiations. Earlier this year, North Korea said it will give the US a “Christmas present”, which has many worried as it may be a nuclear missile test, however unlikely it may seem.

In August 2020, Russia said that it will perceive any ballistic missile attack on its territory as a nuclear attack and will retaliate with a nuclear weapon. This harsh warning was in the official military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) and may have been directed at the US which has developed long-range non-nuclear weapons. Russia may give a nuclear response to a conventional attack on its government or military. Russian interference in the 2016, and 2020 US elections and its annexation of Crimea and war with South-Eastern Ukraine has made the relationship between US and Russia very toxic. The war between Ukraine and Russia has entered its seventh year and there is no end in sight. Even though there are regular ceasefire treaties the war may not be over very soon.

Almost every major country in the world seems to be involved in some form of conflict, escalated tensions or war which is becoming worse as the days pass. A world war seems inevitable if the tensions keep escalating as time passes. With nuclear missiles, modern ammunition and bioweapons, if this war happens, it would be more devastating than the first two World Wars. We can only hope that a peace treaty and other adequate measures are taken by countries before it reaches the threshold.

Despite being the only country in the South Asian region with e-waste legislation, India only recycles about 1.5% of the total e-waste that it generates every year.

The E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 define e-waste as electrical and electronic equipment, whole or in part discarded as waste by the consumer or bulk consumer as well as rejects from manufacturing, refurbishment and repair processes. Some examples of e-waste include discarded computer monitors, motherboards, mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, television sets, air conditioners, refrigerators, radio sets, kitchen appliances, etc.
According to the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020, 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2019. This was up by 21% in just five years. Another worrying statistic was that out of the total waste, only 17.4% was being recycled.
This meant that gold, platinum and other high-value recoverable critical raw materials (cobalt,
palladium, indium, germanium, bismuth, and antimony), worth US $57 billion, would be dumped or burned. The scenario in India was that, out of the 3.2 million metric tonnes of e-waste generated every year, only about 1.5% is recycled.
Satish Sinha, domain expert and associate director at Delhi-based policy advocacy group, Toxics Link says, “India needs to view e-waste as a precious and strategic resource since it contains 69 elements from the periodic table and some of these are highly precious and strategic in nature.”
On e-waste management in India, he cited implementation and compliance deficits as the major issues. He also raised concerns over several inadequacies in regulatory mechanism and the ground realities which need to be plugged.
A UN report on e-waste management in India also said that enforcing rules remains a challenge, along with other aspects, the lack of proper collection and logistics infrastructure, limited awareness of consumers on the hazards of improper disposal of e-waste, the lack of standards for collection, dismantling of e-waste and treatment of it, and an inefficient and tedious reporting process being some of them.