Vaccine rollout: Government framing norms to manage tricky issues

New Delhi: The Centre is framing detailed guidelines for addressing technical and scientific questions, such as the number of days a person who has already recovered from Covid-19 should wait before getting vaccinated, ahead of the first phase of vaccine rollout in the country.

The health and family welfare ministry has already released standard operating procedures to be followed at vaccination centres, number of beneficiaries to be covered in a day, and the protocols to be followed in case of adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) in the first phase of vaccination, covering 10 million healthcare workers.

However, there are technical questions on inoculation which have to be addressed, officials said.

“An expert group has been formed to address several scientific questions that have been raised,” a senior official told ET.

One of the main aspects of inoculating 10 million health workers would be whether to inoculate people who have recovered from the disease and how long should the person wait before getting the Covid shot.

The expert group is looking at international practices to frame the guidelines, officials said.

Both the UK and US, the first two countries to begin Covid vaccination drives, had addressed tricky questions like should recently-recovered healthcare workers give up their place in the queue as they have antibodies against the disease.

The UK’s vaccination policy recommends a waiting time of four weeks after onset of symptoms or four weeks from the first positive test before a vaccine could be administered.

India has already clarified that all healthcare workers, including those who have recovered from Covid, will be inoculated.

The guidelines would specify how much time should a healthcare worker who has recovered from Covid wait before getting a vaccine.

The guidelines would also specify vaccination of healthcare workers who have experienced prolonged Covid-19 symptoms and if they have undergone specific therapies like plasma therapy or taken antiviral medicines, officials told ET.

“If a person has taken plasma therapy, it could interfere with immune response to the vaccine,” a senior official said. “These aspects are being studied properly and these guidelines would be issued to the states to guide them through the vaccination process.”

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Breaking Judicial Norms: A History

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is widely reported to have told his Democratic colleagues on Saturday that “nothing is off the table for next year” if Republicans confirm a Supreme Court nominee in this Congress. He means this as a threat that Democrats will break the filibuster and pack the Court with more Justices in 2021 if they take control of the Senate in November’s election.

So what else is new? Democrats have a long history of breaking procedural norms on judges. While packing the Court would be their most radical decision to date, it would fit their escalating pattern. Let’s review the modern historical lowlights to see which party has really been the political norm-breaker:

The Bork assault. When Ronald Reagan selected Robert Bork in 1987, the judge was among the most qualified ever nominated. No less than Joe Biden had previously said he might have to vote to confirm him. Then Ted Kennedy issued his demagogic assault from the Senate floor, complete with lies about women “forced into back-alley abortions” and blacks who would have to “sit at segregated lunch counters.” Democrats and the press then unleashed an unprecedented political assault.

Previous nominees who had failed in the Senate were suspected of corruption (Abe Fortas) or thought unqualified (Harrold Carswell). Bork was defeated because of distortions about his jurisprudence. This began the modern era of hyper-politicized judicial nominations, though for the Supreme Court it has largely been a one-way partisan street.

No Democratic nominee has been borked, to use the name that became a verb. Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose left-wing legal views were obvious upon her nomination, received a respectful GOP hearing and was confirmed 68-31 with nine GOP votes. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed 96-3, Stephen Breyer 87-9, and Elena Kagan 63-37.

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New norms give e-tailers a month to address consumer plaints

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NEW DELHI: Users of e-commerce platforms will now feel greater confidence in their shopping experience with new norms for grievance redressal in these entities kicking in from this weekend. E-tailers and sellers on such platforms will have to appoint executives for addressing consumer complaints and they won’t be able to impose any cancellation charge from buyers, unless the companies concerned pay similar charges when they cancel an order unilaterally for any reason.
All sellers using e-commerce platform for marketing of their products will also need to display the country of origin of the items. Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the rules with provisions to protect the e-commerce consumers will be notified on Friday and the mandatory norms will come into force immediately.
The rules also say that the products delivered to consumers must be the same as provided in descriptions and images. While sellers and inventory e-commerce will need to comply with this, e-commerce marketplaces will have to take such undertakings from the seller using their platforms.
The rules prohibit e-commerce companies from manipulating the price of the goods or services to gain unreasonable profit through unjustified prices.
The rules framed under Consumer Protection Act will be applicable to both domestic and foreign e-commerce firms offering service or selling items to Indian consumers. Failure to comply with these norms will amount to unfair trade practice and the Central Consumer Protection Authority can take action in such cases.
The finalised rules say that the executive tasked for grievance redressal will have to acknowledge the complaint within 48 hours and will need to resolve it in 30 days.
The rules have specified duties and liabilities of e-commerce marketplaces where sellers use online platforms for selling their products. Similar provisions have been made for inventory e-ecommerce entities, which buy products in bulk and then sell them online. There are strict norms even for sellers using the e-commerce marketplace.
The rules specify that sellers cannot refuse to take back goods or withdraw services or refuse refunds, if these are found defective, deficient, delivered late, or if they do not meet the description on the online platform. Exception for delay in delivery will be only in case of force mejeure such as lockdown or natural disaster.

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