Japanese MotoGP cancelled due to Covid, Americas GP in October
The Japanese Grand Prix has been cancelled due to travel complications and logistical restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Grand Prix of the Americas to be held in Austin from Oct. 1-3 instead, MotoGP organisers said on Wednesday.
AstraZeneca, Pfizer vaccines effective against Delta variants: Study
Covid-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance remain broadly effective against Delta and Kappa variants of the Covid-19 causing virus, which were first identified in India, according to a scientific study, underpinning a continued push to deliver the shots.
Previous Pak govts did not curb terrorist financing: Qureshi
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action to curb money laundering and terror financing by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Song Joong Ki to shoot Bogota in Korea
Actor Song Joong Ki with Lee Hee Joon, and Kwon Hae Hyo, was scheduled to wrap up the last leg of their upcoming thriller film ‘Bogota’ in Colombia, however, now the makers have decided to opt for a new location, owing to the safety amid the COVID pandemic. As per the latest reports, 'Bogota' directed by Kim Sung Se will finish the rest of the shoot in South Korea, cancelling its original schedule in Colombia.
New universal vaccine may help prevent future pandemics
Scientists have developed a universal vaccine that protected mice not just against Covid-19 but also other coronaviruses while triggering the immune system to fight off a dangerous variant. The study, published in the journal Science, looked at a second-generation vaccine: one that targets sarbecoviruses. They are a part of the large family of coronaviruses and are a priority for virologists.
Lovelyz’s Seo Ji Soo tests COVID 19 positive
According to Woollim Entertainment, Lovelyz’s member Seo Ji Soo has tested positive for COVID-19. The official statement confirmed that Seo Ji Soo underwent a COVID test after her close friend tested positive for the deadly virus. Later, the test result was found positive.
Kerala COVID Update : സംസ്ഥാനത്ത് ഇന്നും 12,000ത്തിന് മുകളിൽ കോവിഡ് കേസുകൾ, മരണം 150
ഇന്ന് 12,787 പേര്ക്ക് കോവിഡ്-19 സ്ഥിരീകരിച്ചു. 13,683 പേര് രോഗമുക്തി നേടി; ചികിത്സയിലുള്ളവര് 99,390; ആകെ രോഗമുക്തി നേടിയവര് 27,29,967. കഴിഞ്ഞ 24 മണിക്കൂറിനിടെ 1,24,326 സാമ്പിളുകള് പരിശോധിച്ചു. ടി.പി.ആര്. 30ന് മുകളിലുള്ള 16 പ്രദേശങ്ങള്
14-year-old raises money for Covid relief
Amid pain and despair of several people during the peak of the 2nd wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are inspiring stories, too, pouring in from across the country. One such example is an initiative by 14-year-old Dhruv Mantri. The Class X student of a Gurugram school raised nearly Rs 7 lakh when people were scrambling for hospital beds, oxygen, medicines, amid surging Covid infections
COVID-19: 40 cases of Delta Plus variant found in India
India|: New Delhi: As many as 40 cases of Delta Plus Covid variant have been detected in India — the strain which the government has tagged as a “Variant of Concern”. A total of 21 cases of the new strain have been found in Maharashtra, six in Madhya Pradesh, three each in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, two in Karnataka and one each in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu, said sources. Delta Plus in 80 countries * According to the Indian government, the Delta Plus, much like the Delta strain that has spread to 80 countries, is highly infectious and fast spreading. * According to INSACOG, the Delta Plus shows “increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potentially reduced monoclonal antibody response”. *It may also show resistance to existing treatment protocol for Covid, experts worry. There are concerns over whether current vaccines will be effective against the Delta Plus. * The government said while the two vaccines being used in India, Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, are effective against the Delta variant, data on how they work on the Delta Plus would be shared later. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Tuesday also informed that the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 was found in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri and Jalgaon; Kerala’s Palakkad and Pathanamthitta; and Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal and Shivpur. The genome sequenced samples received from Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh as well as other states confirmed the presence of Delta Plus variant, a mutation of the Delta strain or B.1.617.2 variant first detected in India. Three states alerted Soon after findings, the Ministry alerted the three states to take precautionary measures and shared that Delta Plus has characteristics like increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells, potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response. The chief secretaries of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh have been advised to take immediate containment measures in different districts and clusters, including preventing crowds, widespread testing, prompt tracing and vaccine coverage. Delta Plus cases, still a low number, are emerging as large parts of India are ending severe lockdowns and restrictions with Covid cases on the decline after a fierce second wave ambushed the nation’s health infrastructure in April-May. People line up to register themselves to get a dose of Covishield during a vaccination drive at a mosque in Ahmedabad. Image Credit: AP INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia), a consortium of 28 labs tasked with genome sequencing of the virus causing Covid, says properties of the Delta Plus are still being investigated. It is characterised by a mutation in the spike protein, which helps the virus gain entry into human cells. “Currently the number of such Delta plus variants in India are only few but the distribution or detection in various states during past two months indicate that it is already present in some states and states may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing and priority vaccination,” it says. Very little is known about this strain, which is now in nine countries — the US, the UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Russia and China besides India.
Emirates Global Aluminium in talks to refinance $6b loan
Banking|: Dubai: Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA), one of the world's largest aluminium producers, is in talks with banks to refinance and change the terms of a loan of about $6 billion it secured in 2019, according to sources. The UAE firm, which is owned equally by Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala and the Investment Corporation of Dubai, is seeking to extend the tenor and lower the pricing of the seven-year loan through a refinancing facility to take advantage of low rates, the sources said. "EGA is fortunate to have a large relationship bank group who support our business. We are always looking at ways to optimise our financing arrangements," the company said in response to a Reuters request for comment. EGA's fundraising exercise comes as borrowers in the Gulf seek to improve their financing arrangements to reflect better market conditions after last year's coronavirus-driven downturn. EGA, which produces 4% of the world's total aluminium, took a loan of over $6 billion in early 2019 to refinance a $4.9 billion loan secured in December 2015 as well as to fully repay a $1.8 billion loan raised by EGA's subsidiary Dubai Aluminium. The syndicated loan EGA is seeking to restructure was issued on Jan. 28, 2019 and totalled $6.545 billion, according to Refinitiv data. A group of around 25 international and regional banks participated in the loan. Banks leading the deal included BNP Paribas, Citi, Emirates NBD, ING and Natixis. The company said in March its annual adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the 12 months ended Dec. 31 rose to 4.1 billion dirhams ($1.13 billion) from 2.5 billion dirhams a year prior, boosted by product flexibility, cost control, and a ramp-up in new upstream projects.
COVID-19: India’s ‘Golden Baba’ gets gold mask for himself
India|: Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh): Now known as ‘Bappi Lahiri of UP’, this man from Kanpur is making news for having got himself a mask made of gold. Manoj Sengar, also known as ‘Manojanand Maharaj’ has spent Rs500,000 to get the gold mask. According to him, the mask has a sanitizer solution inside it which will work for 36 months. He has named it the ‘Shiv Sharan mask’. Manoj, like Bappi Lahiri, has a passion for gold. He wears four gold chains which together weigh around 250 grams. He has a conch shell, fish and Lord Hanuman’s locket in his possession — all made from gold. Even today, Manoj wears gold jewellery weighing nearly two kilos. Apart from this, he has a pair of golden earrings, a golden cover for his revolver and three gold belts. He is also known as the ‘Golden Baba’ of Kanpur. Manoj said that his love for gold had earned him threats from anti-social elements. “I take all precautions and I have two armed bodyguards to protect me all the time,” he said.
India’s second-wave halted Air India Express’ recovery, says CEO Alok Singh
Aviation|: Dubai: Air India Express was operating at 65 per cent of its pre-pandemic operations in March, with domestic at 80 per cent. This was before the second-wave of the COVID-19 virus led to the tightening of state-wide as well as international restrictions. “We were hit by the second way and we pretty much fell back to where we had started from, but now things are looking way better,” said Alok Singh, the airline’s CEO, during an aviation event on Wednesday. “The worst seems to be behind us, and there is a dramatic decline in the number of infections,” said Singh. “The markets continue to be restricted … hopefully in the next few months, we will see a much clearer trend, and it will be upwards” Low-cost benefits Being a low-cost carrier, Air India Express has learnt to stay afloat in a highly competitive and price-sensitive aviation market. “We entered the crisis in a better shape than many other airlines - we had five consecutive years of profits,” said Singh. “We are one of the lowest seat kilometer cost producers in the world – we are nimble and flexible, which helped us tide over the crisis” “We did pretty much what most airlines did, which is cut costs, conserve cash, look at alternative revenue streams and optimize routings,” said Singh. Long term view Although the pandemic has decimated air travel demand now, it hasn’t in any way diminished India’s prospects of being a large aviation market. Singh believes a slew of upcoming projects and initiatives will ensure the growth of the industry. Mumbai and Delhi – two of the country’s largest aviation hubs – are getting a greenfield airport each in the next couple of years. “There is a regional connectivity scheme that the government has launched, (which) is opening up scores of airports across the country,” said Singh. “Air India Express and Air India are on track to privatization… put this all together and it is a game changer,” said Singh.
Big B gets clicked on the sets of Goodbye
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is one of the few celebs who has now resumed work amid the COVID-19 outbreak across the country. Today the senior actor was spotted on the sets of his upcoming film ‘Goodbye’ in his formal look alongside director Vikas Bahl.
Saudi Aramco extends $10b loan on improved terms, sources say
Energy|Banking|: Dubai: Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco has secured a one-year extension to a $10 billion loan it raised last year, negotiating improved terms in the process, three sources told Reuters. Aramco has borrowed tens of billions of dollars in the past few years to keep up with Saudi Arabia's financing needs in an era of lower oil prices. This is in addition to a public sale of a minority stake in the company and the recent leasing of some of its pipeline assets for $12.4 billion. It has over the past few months renegotiated and extended a $10 billion one-year loan it raised in May last year, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. The loan had a one-year extension option, but instead of paying a higher interest rate to extend the deal - as agreed as part of that facility - it has asked for better terms to reflect improved market conditions, the sources said. The pricing is tighter than the original loan's due to a "COVID premium" that resulted from depressed market conditions last year, one of the sources said. Two of the sources said the extended facility pays as much as 30%-40% less than it would have paid under the original agreement. "They are very good at negotiating," another source said. Aramco did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Banks keep lending to Aramco and comply with what one banker said were "aggressive" pricing requests partly because of the new business it is expected to generate, two of the sources said. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in April that the kingdom was in discussions to sell a 1% Aramco stake to a global energy company and could sell further shares within the next year or two, including to international investors. Aramco is also looking to replicate the oil pipeline deal by selling a stake in its gas pipelines, sources have said. The $12.4 billion pipeline deal was backed by nearly $11 billion in debt underwritten by eight banks and subsequently syndicated to an additional 10 banks, two of the sources said.