FAO locust warning
India should remain on high alert against locust attack for the next four weeks, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned amid the country facing the worst locust attack in 26 years.
Spring-bred locust swarms, which migrated to the Indo-Pakistan border and travelled east to northern states, are expected to return back to Rajasthan with the start of the monsoon in coming days.
The current locust attack (2019-2020) has been categorised as an upsurge.
Difference between a locust plague, upsurge and outbreak:
Outbreak: If good rains fall and green vegetation develop, Desert Locust can rapidly increase in number and within a month or two, start to concentrate, gregarize which, unless checked, can lead to the formation of small groups or bands of wingless hoppers and small groups or swarms winged adults. This is called an OUTBREAK and usually occurs with an area of about 5,000 sq. km (100 km by 50 km) in one part of a country.
Upsurge: If an outbreak or contemporaneous outbreaks are not controlled and if widespread or unusually heavy rains fall in adjacent areas, several successive seasons of breeding can occur that causes further hopper band and adult swarm formation. This is called an UPSURGE and generally affects an entire region.
Plague: If an upsurge is not controlled and ecological conditions remain favourable for breeding, locust populations continue to increase in number and size, and the majority of the infestations occur as bands and swarms, then a PLAGUE can develop. A major plague exists when two or more regions are affected simultaneously.
Outbreaks are common, but only a few result in upsurges. Similarly, few upsurges lead to plagues. The last major plague was in 1987-89 and the last major upsurge was in 2003-05. Upsurges and plagues do not occur overnight; instead, they take many months to develop.
What are ‘desert locusts’?
Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria), which belong to the family of grasshoppers, normally live and breed in semi-arid or desert regions. For laying eggs, they require bare ground, which is rarely found in areas with dense vegetation.
How they form swarms?
As individuals, or in small isolated groups, locusts are not very dangerous. But when they grow into large populations their behaviour changes, they transform from ‘solitary phase’ into ‘gregarious phase’, and start forming ‘swarms’. A single swarm can contain 40 to 80 million adults in one square km, and these can travel up to 150 km a day.
A compulsory licence is a licence or authorisation issued by the government to an applicant for making, using and selling a patented product or employing a patented process without the consent of the patentee.
Chapter XVI of the Indian Patents Act 1970 and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights discuss compulsory licensing.
The application for compulsory license can be made any time after 3 years from date of sealing of a patent.
The following conditions should be fulfilled by the applicant:
Reasonable requirements of the public with respect to the patented invention have not been satisfied;
Patented invention is not available to the public at a reasonably affordable price.
Patented invention is not used in India.
Additionally, according to Section 92 of the Act, compulsory licenses can also be issued suo motu by the Controller of Patents pursuant to a notification issued by the Central Government if there is either a “national emergency” or “extreme urgency” or in cases of “public non-commercial use”.
When was the first license issued?
India’s first ever compulsory license was granted by the Patent Office on March 9, 2012, to Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma for the production of generic version of Bayer’s Nexavar, an anti-cancer agent used in the treatment of liver and kidney cancer.
Global Perspective on Compulsory Licensing:
This phenomenon of compulsory licensing is a hugely debated issue. Many developing countries are giving importance to the compulsory licensing because of the unavailability and unaffordability of the medicines, and they are continuously granting more and more compulsory licenses. The developed countries of Europe, USA are opposing this view as it would make innovation difficult for the pharmaceutical companies.
Why compulsory licensing is in News?
Issue compulsory licences for manufacture of an affordable generic version of Remdesivir, CPI(M) tells govt.
It said the government should invoke Clause 92 of the Patent Act that allows it to issue compulsory licences so that Indian manufacturers can produce a more affordable generic version.
Gilead Sciences’ anti-viral drug Remdesivir has shown efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients.
Media reports indicate that the U.S., which is hoarding all drugs found to be useful in combating the pandemic, has bought the entire stock of Remdesivir from Gilead for the next three months.
It will therefore not be available for the rest of the world.
Besides, while the cost of manufacturing Remdesivir for a full course — as worked out by experts — is less than $10 or ₹750 in the U.S. And about ₹100 in India. Gilead, by virtue of its patent monopoly, is holding the world to ransom by asking a price that is hundreds of times its cost.
Given the uncertainty over access to treatments for COVID-19, several countries have been laying the legislative groundwork to issue compulsory licenses for products that patent holders refuse to make accessible.
Researchers have turned to Raman Spectroscopy to detect RNA viruses present in saliva samples.
It has been reported that novel coronavirus is found in sufficient numbers in human saliva.
How was it carried out?
For the study, the researchers spiked saliva samples with non-infectious RNA viruses and analysed it with Raman Spectroscopy. They analysed the raw Raman Spectroscopy data and compared the signals with both viral positive and negative samples.
Statistical analysis of all the 1,400 spectra obtained for each sample, showed a set of 65 Raman spectral features was adequate to identify the viral positive signal.
What is Raman Spectroscopy:
Raman Spectroscopy is a non-destructive chemical analysis technique which provides detailed information about chemical structure, phase and polymorphy, crystallinity and molecular interactions. It is based upon the interaction of light with the chemical bonds within a material.
It is a light scattering technique, whereby a molecule scatters incident light from a high intensity laser light source.
Most of the scattered light is at the same wavelength (or color) as the laser source and does not provide useful information – this is called Rayleigh Scatter.
However a small amount of light (typically 0.0000001%) is scattered at different wavelengths (or colors), which depend on the chemical structure of the analyte – this is called Raman Scatter.
This conceptual framework to detect RNA viruses in saliva could form the basis for field application of Raman Spectroscopy in managing viral outbreaks, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in case of COVID 19 pandemic, it can be used only for screening. Because, the RNA virus detected could be a common cold virus as well or any other RNA virus such as HIV. It doesn’t look for COVID-19 viral-specific signature.
But, the main benefit here is that this whole process of data acquisition and analysis can be performed within a minute. Since no additional reagent is needed there is no recurring cost.
A portable (benchtop or handheld) Raman spectrophotometer installed at the port of entry such as airports or any point of care (in the field) can quickly screen passengers within minutes.
Researchers in China have discovered a new form of swine flu that can infect humans, and they believe it has the potential to cause a future pandemic.
This swine flu has been dubbed the G4 virus and it’s related to the H1N1 flu that caused widespread illness in 2009.
What is the G4 virus, exactly?
The G4 virus is a newly discovered strain of the H1N1 flu virus.
It’s basically a virus that’s found in pigs but has combined the swine flu virus with the H1N1 virus that circulates in humans.
G4 viruses bind to receptor molecules in human cells, and can replicate in the outer layer of the respiratory system.
Transmission and symptoms:
The newly identified virus can efficiently infect ferrets via aerosol transmission, causing severe clinical symptoms in them like sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and a mean maximum weight loss ranging from 7.3 to 9.8 per cent of the mammals’ body mass.
It has the potential to become a human virus.
Of concern is that swine workers show elevated seroprevalence for G4 virus.
Moreover, low antigenic cross-reactivity of human influenza vaccine strains with G4 reassortant EA H1N1 virus indicates that preexisting population immunity does not provide protection against G4 viruses.
What is H1N1 influenza?
Swine flu (H1N1) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by a type of Influenza A viruses in humans. It has been named so as people who worked near pigs (or in close contact with them) were seen getting infected by this disease. It was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation in the year 2009 as it was spreading aggressively back then.