Russia on Wednesday urged U.S. President Joe Biden’s new administration to take a “more constructive” approach in talks over the extension of the New START treaty, Washington’s last arms reduction pact with Moscow.
“We expect that the new U.S. administration will take a more constructive approach in its dialogue with us,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“We are ready for such work on principles of equal rights and taking mutual interests into account.”
The agreement, which caps the number of nuclear warheads between the two powers, is set to expire on February 5.
The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the administration of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump of “deliberately and intentionally” dismantling international arms control agreements.
Moscow accused the previous U.S. administration of not planning to extend New START, referring to its “counterproductive and openly aggressive” approach in talks.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the treaty should be extended in its current version and “without any pre-conditions,” adding that prolonging the arms pact for five years would be “preferable.”
“This would allow Russia and the United States to seriously begin a joint search for responses to the issues of international security and strategic stability that are now arising,” the ministry said in the statement.
“At the same time the current level of transparency and predictability in relation to New START would remain in place which would be in the interests of security of both our countries and the whole world.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin last year proposed a one-year extension on New START.
President Donald Trump’s administration had unsuccessfully sought to expand the treaty to bring in China, which has a fast-growing military that remains significantly smaller than those of Russia and the United States.
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The Trump administration says it is releasing millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses it had been holding back for second shots and has urged states to offer them to all Americans over age 65 or with chronic health conditions.
US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said during a news briefing that the pace of inoculations had risen to 700,000 shots per day and is expected to rise to 1 million per day within a week to 10 days.
Releasing doses that have been held back should bring the total number of doses that have been made available for use in the United States to roughly 38 million, Mr Azar said.
States have already received about 25.5 million doses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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Two Republican senators now say U.S. President Donald Trump should resign in the wake of deadly riots at the Capitol, while support for the House drive to impeach him a second time is gaining momentum.
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey on Sunday joined Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in calling for Trump to “resign and go away as soon as possible” after a violent mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol building on Wednesday. Murkowski, who has long voiced her exasperation with Trump’s conduct in office, told the Anchorage Daily News on Friday that Trump simply “needs to get out.”
Toomey said even though he believes Trump committed impeachable offences in encouraging loyalists in the Capitol siege, he did not think there was enough time for the impeachment process to play out. Resignation, Toomey said, was the “best path forward, the best way to get this person in the rearview mirror for us.” The senator was not optimistic that Trump would step down before his term ends on Jan. 20.
House leaders, furious after the violent insurrection against them, appear determined to act despite the short timeline.
Late Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, sent a letter to her colleagues reiterating that Trump must be held accountable. She told her caucus, now scattered across the country on a two-week recess, to “be prepared to return to Washington this week” but did not say outright that there would be a vote on impeachment.
“It is absolutely essential that those who perpetrated the assault on our democracy be held accountable,” Pelosi wrote. “There must be a recognition that this desecration was instigated by the President.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, said that “it may be Tuesday, Wednesday before the action is taken, but I think it will be taken this week.”
Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina and a close ally of president-elect Joe Biden, suggested that if the House of Representatives does vote to impeach, Pelosi might hold the charges — known as articles of impeachment — until after Biden’s first 100 days in office. Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has said an impeachment trial could not begin before Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
“Let’s give president-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running,” Clyburn said. “And maybe we will send the articles some time after that.”
Clyburn said lawmakers “will take the vote that we should take in the House” and that Pelosi “will make the determination as when is the best time” to send them to the Senate.
Another idea being considered is to have a separate vote that would prevent Trump from ever holding office again. That could potentially only need a simple majority vote of 51 senators, unlike impeachment, in which two-thirds of the 100-member Senate must support a conviction.
Toomey indicated that he might support such a vote: “I think the president has disqualified himself from ever certainly serving in office again,” he said. “I don’t think he is electable in any way.”
The Senate is set to be split evenly at 50-50 but under Democratic control once vice-president-elect Kamala Harris and the two Democrats who won in Georgia’s Senate run-off last week are sworn in. Harris will be the Senate’s tie-breaking vote.
WATCH | Trump and the future of the Republican Party:
CBC News speaks with Chris Galdieri, associate professor of politics at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, for his take on the state of the Republican Party. How divided is it, where does it go from here and how much influence will Trump and Trumpism have? 4:10
While many have criticized Trump, Republicans have said that impeachment would be divisive in a time of unity.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said that instead of coming together, Democrats want to “talk about ridiculous things like `Let’s impeach a president’ who isn’t even going to be in office in about nine days.” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said Trump’s actions “were clearly reckless,” but “my personal view is that the president touched the hot stove on Wednesday and is unlikely to touch it again.”
Still, some Republicans might be supportive.
WATCH | Former White House chief of staff says Trump should resign:
Former secretary of defense, director of CIA, and White House chief of staff, Leon Panetta, says Donald Trump should resign and allow Mike Pence to steer the final days of the administration. 8:21
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said he would take a look at any articles that the House sends over. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a frequent Trump critic, said he will “vote the right way” if the matter is put in front of him. But, he said, “I honestly don’t think impeachment is the smart move because I think it victimizes Donald Trump again.”
The Democratic effort to stamp Trump’s presidential record — for the second time and just days before his term ends — with the indelible mark of impeachment once more has advanced rapidly since the riot at the Capitol.
Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, a leader of the House effort to draft impeachment articles accusing Trump of inciting insurrection, said Saturday that his group had grown to include more than 200 co-sponsors.
Just passed 200 cosponsors on our article of impeachment. We are going to hold Donald Trump accountable for last week’s assault on the Capitol.
Lawmakers planned to formally introduce the proposal on Monday in the House, where articles of impeachment must originate.
The articles, if passed by the House, could then be transmitted to the Senate for a trial, with senators acting as jurors who would ultimately vote on whether to acquit or convict Trump. If convicted, Trump would be removed from office and succeeded by the vice-president. It would be the first time a U.S. president has been impeached twice.
Potentially complicating Pelosi’s decision about impeachment is what it means for Biden and the beginning of his presidency. While reiterating that he has long viewed Trump as unfit for office, Biden on Friday sidestepped a question about impeachment, saying what Congress does “is for them to decide.”
Trump increasingly isolated
A violent and largely white mob of Trump supporters overpowered police, broke through security lines and windows and rampaged through the Capitol on Wednesday, forcing lawmakers to scatter as they were putting the final, formal touches on Biden’s victory over Trump in the electoral college.
The crowd surged to the domed symbol of American democracy following a rally near the White House, where Trump repeated his bogus claims that the election was stolen from him and urged his supporters to march in force toward the Capitol.
A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building, and many other officers were injured. A woman from California was fatally shot by Capitol Police, and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos.
WATCH | Photojournalist recalls chaos at U.S. Capitol:
Andrew Harnik, a photojournalist with The Associated Press, recounts the moments when he sheltered in place with members of the U.S. Congress and shares some of the powerful images he took. 6:36
Outrage over the attack and Trump’s role in egging it on capped a divisive, chaotic presidency like few others in the nation’s history.
Trump has few fellow Republicans speaking out in his defence, and the White House declined to comment on the new Republican calls for resignation. He’s become increasingly isolated, holed up in the White House, as he has been abandoned in the aftermath of the riot by many aides, leading Republicans and, so far, two cabinet members — both women.
Toomey appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and NBC’s Meet the Press. Clyburn was on Fox News Sunday and CNN. Kinzinger was on ABC’s This Week, Blunt was on CBS’s Face the Nation and Rubio was on Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures.
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South Australia’s deputy coroner has recommended against dual occupancy rooms in psychiatric wards at public hospitals after one patient killed another while sharing a room at Noarlunga Hospital six years ago.
Stephen Barton was killed by Lindon Sekrst in 2014
They were sharing a room at the Noarlunga Hospital’s Morier Ward
The coroner says psychiatric patients should not share rooms
Stephen John Barton was killed by room-mate Lindon Luke Sekrst in August 2014.
Deputy coroner Anthony Schapel said that, “given the practice of dually accommodating patients”, there was a “certain inevitability” in such an incident occurring at some point in time.
“It was not so much a question of whether such an incident would occur and when, but to whom,” Mr Schapel said in his inquest findings into Mr Barton’s death.
Sekrst was found guilty of Mr Barton’s murder in 2016 but appealed against the conviction and instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
He was sentenced in 2017 to at least five years, nine months and 18 days in jail.
In 2014, Sekrst was found in the room the two men shared, in the hospital’s Morier Ward, with his foot on Mr Barton’s neck.
His lawyer told the Supreme Court he struck Mr Barton’s head and face three times and then placed him in a headlock until Mr Barton stopped moving.
Mr Schapel found he died of “blunt neck trauma” and that Sekrst’s actions “were grossly excessive, irrational and borne out of his mental disturbance”.
The Supreme Court heard in 2016 that he was “mentally competent” at the time he killed Mr Barton, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
The inquest heard that the Morier Ward at the Noarlunga Hospital was the only psychiatric facility in the public mental health system in which rooms were shared by two people.
Resources reason for sharing rooms
Two doctors and two nurses “were unanimous in their view that dual accommodation in the open facility of Morier was an undesirable circumstance”, Mr Schapel wrote in his findings.
“Indeed, certain pitfalls were identified, including a general reluctance for patients to occupy a double room.
“It is also clear that Mr Sekrst, like all other dually accommodated patients in Morier, was placed into dual accommodation with Mr Barton due to resource considerations alone.”
An SA Health spokeswoman said Morier Ward still had dual occupancy rooms.
“We are reviewing the coroner’s findings handed down today and will consider the recommendation in detail,” SA Health said in a statement.
The coroner recommended that sharing rooms “should no longer be permitted”.
“I acknowledge that there was no overt indication that Mr Sekrst would harm anybody,” Mr Schapel concluded.
“However, given the practice of dually accommodating patients in the open ward of Morier, there seems to have been a certain inevitability in an incident of this kind occurring at some point in time.
“To my mind, this state of affairs continues as long as dual accommodation arrangements exist at Morier.”
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Milan: Pope Francis said on Saturday he planned to have a COVID-19 vaccination as early as next week and urged everyone to get a shot, to protect not only their own lives but those of everyone else.
“I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine,” the Pope said in an interview with TV station Canale 5.
“It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”
The Vatican City, the smallest independent county in the world, has said it will shortly launch its own vaccination campaign against the coronavirus.
“Next week,” the Pope said, “we will start doing it here, in the Vatican, and I have booked myself in. It must be done.”
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Graham Johnson has only months left to live but wants to use the time he has to secure better support for others like him.
People over 65 years old are not eligible for NDIS money
Charities help older motor neurone disease sufferers but do not receive ongoing funding
There are calls for the State Government to do more to help
The Adelaide grandfather was diagnosed with a type of motor neurone disease (MND) last year but, because of his age, still considers himself among the luckier ones.
People diagnosed with MND over the age of 65 are not eligible for NDIS support and instead must rely on charities like the Motor Neurone Disease Association of South Australia (MND SA).
“I’ve got ALS, which is the most aggressive one. I’m very keen to stay positive,” he said.
“I get well looked after because I was 62, nearly 63, when I was diagnosed.
“But a person who’s 65 and one day old — nothing.”
Mr Johnson was diagnosed with the terminal condition 16 months ago and has launched a campaign, supported by the SA Opposition, calling on the SA Government to step in to provide support.
“I wouldn’t like to be in this situation and not get any help — that’s just so wrong,” Mr Johnson said.
“The support you get from MND SA and NDIS … I don’t actually have to do anything. I just tell them what I want and they do everything for you. They’re fantastic.
“The fact the Government doesn’t support it just really astounds me.”
Funding an ‘ongoing’ challenge
MND SA chief executive Karen Percival said it was an uphill battle trying to support the hundreds of South Australians with MND in need of care.
“In South Australia, we have the challenge of funding to support people with MND,” Ms Percival said.
Ms Percival said funding of $500,000 annually could make a huge difference for South Australians with MND, ensuring there would be adequate support and services for people to access when they were diagnosed with the disease.
“We have never received State Government funding, so that’s a situation that’s been ongoing,” Ms Percival said.
Premier Steven Marshall said the Government was aware of MND SA’s situation, acknowledging some charities had done it “particularly tough” since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the Government had authorised a one-off grant payment to MND SA last month.
“We have actually made, or have authorised, a payment to MND back in the middle of December after representations from people from that sector who said they were finding it really difficult to do that fundraising during a very difficult year.
“We saw this a lot with organisations and charities [who] had fundraisers.”
The average life expectancy for those with MND is 27 months from diagnosis.
The State Opposition says four in five South Australians diagnosed with motor neurone disease over the age of 65 die before they receive proper funding and support.
“South Australians living with MND should be able to spend the time they have left with their loved ones, not languishing on a waiting list to receive basic support,” Opposition health spokesman Chris Picton said.
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FILE PHOTO: The Intel logo is shown at E3, the world’s largest video game industry convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
January 4, 2021
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Activist hedge fund Third Point LLC is pushing Intel Corp to explore strategic alternatives, including whether it should keep chip design and production under one roof, according to a letter it sent to the company’s chairman on Tuesday that was reviewed by Reuters.
Were it to gain traction, Third Point’s push for changes could lead to a major shakeup at Intel, which has been slow to respond to investor calls to outsource more of its manufacturing capacity. It could also lead to the unwinding of some of its acquisitions, such as the $16.7 billion purchase of programmable chip maker Altera in 2015.
Third Point Chief Executive Daniel Loeb wrote to Intel Chairman Omar Ishrak calling for immediate action to boost the company’s position as a major provider of processor chips for PCs and data centers. The New York-based fund has amassed a nearly $1 billion stake in Intel, according to people familiar with the matter.
Intel shares rose 6.1% to $49.95, the most in more than eight months on the news, giving the company a market value of more than $200 billion. The stock had declined about 21% this year, compared with a 43% rise in the Nasdaq Composite Index.
Intel’s most urgent task was addressing its “human capital management issue,” as many of its talented chip designers have fled, “demoralized by the status quo,” Loeb wrote in the letter.
Intel has lost its pole position in microprocessor manufacturing to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Loeb wrote in the letter.
Intel is also losing market share in its core PC and data center markets to Advanced Micro Devices Inc, Loeb added. NVIDIA Corp is dominating computational models used in artificial intelligence applications, while Intel has been largely absent in this nascent market, according to the letter.
“Without immediate change at Intel, we fear that America’s access to leading-edge semiconductor supply will erode, forcing the U.S. to rely more heavily on a geopolitically unstable East Asia to power everything from PCs to data centers to critical infrastructure and more,” Loeb wrote.
In a short statement, the Santa Clara, California-based company said, “Intel welcomes input from all investors regarding enhanced shareholder value. In that spirit, we look forward to engaging with Third Point LLC on their ideas towards that goal.”
Loeb asked Intel to retain an investment adviser to evaluate strategic alternatives, including whether it should remain an integrated device manufacturer and the potential divestment of failed acquisitions, according to the letter. Third Point believes that Intel should consider separating its chip design from its semiconductor fabrication plant manufacturing operations, according to the sources. This could include a joint venture in manufacturing, according to sources.
Intel customers, such as Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc, are developing their own in-house silicon solutions and sending those designs to be manufactured in East Asia, Loeb wrote. He suggested Intel must offer new solutions to retain these customers rather than have them send their manufacturing away.
Third Point, which has $15 billion in assets under management, has experience in pushing companies to pursue deals, including at Prudential Plc, Yum! Brands Inc, Dow Chemical and United Technologies. The firm’s Third Point Offshore fund was up 19.9% for the year through the middle of December, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Loeb said in the letter that Third Point reserved the option to submit nominees for election to Intel’s board at its next annual meeting, should it sense “a reluctance to work together to address the concerns” it raised.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given Intel a boost in the form or surging laptop sales, as employees and students work and learn from home. But the company has failed to capitalize on strong demand for semiconductors more broadly, needed to power everything from smartphones to artificial intelligence.
This is because Intel’s in-house manufacturing capabilities have often struggled with the customized chips its clients want. The ability of its rivals to use a wide network of suppliers also results in many of its offerings lagging its rivals in speed and energy consumption.
Splitting its design and manufacturing operations could help it produce better chips at a lower cost by tapping outside vendors to make its most advanced central processors, a step executives have long resisted.
But selling Intel’s factories, or even opening them up more to contract manufacturing, could pose a challenge because they are geared toward its own design process, rather than broader industry standards that other companies follow.
U.S. national security concerns could present another obstacle to a potential divestment. Intel’s most formidable manufacturing rivals – TSMC and Samsung – have their manufacturing base overseas, and it is unclear whether regulators would approve a sale of any of Intel’s chipmaking operations to a foreign entity, given its central role in the supply chain.
Intel named its former chief financial officer, Bob Swan, chief executive last year. In June, it lost one of its veteran chip designers, Jim Keller, over a dispute on whether the company should outsource more of its production, sources said at the time.
(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Jonathan Oatis)
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In his speech in Atlanta, Biden referred obliquely to Trump’s controversial phone call, saying: “Politicians cannot, assert, take, or seize power. Power has to be given, granted by the American people. We can never give that up.”
If the Democrats win both the Georgia Senate run-offs they will effectively control the Senate thanks to a tie-breaking vote from vice-president elect Kamala Harris. If either of the Democratic candidates lose then Republicans will maintain their majority.
“Georgia: the whole nation is looking to you to lead us forward,” Biden said.
“The power is literally in your hands. One state can chart the course not just for the next four years but for a generation.”
Republicans would usually be favoured to win run-off elections in Georgia but some in the party fear that Trump’s efforts to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the electoral process will suppress turnout among conservative voters.
Biden said that Americans would quickly receive $US2000 emergency relief cheques if Democrats win control of the Senate. Funding for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and for state and local governments would also flow, he said.
Trump will speak at a rally in Georgia later on Tuesday (AEDT) to motivate Republican voters and repeat his unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him.
In his conversation with Raffensperger, first reported by The Washington Post, Trump said: “So look – all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”
He also said: “The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry. And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”
Raffensperger replied that Trump was relying on faulty information and that there were no systemic problem with the state’s electoral process.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey released a statement condemning Trump’s actions: “President Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger represents a new low in this whole futile and sorry episode. I commend Republican election officials across the country who have discharged their duties with integrity.”
Around a dozen Republican senators and over 100 members of the House of Representatives have announced they will challenge Biden’s victory when Congress meets to certify the Electoral College results on Thursday (AEDT).
They will be able to delay the certification for hours or perhaps more than a day but will not have the numbers to prevent Biden from being inaugurated as the country’s 46th president on January 20.
Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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President Vladimir Putin in his New Year’s speech on Thursday urged Russians to unite in the face of the country’s battle with the coronavirus pandemic.
Appearing in front of the Kremlin for an address to be broadcast just before midnight in each of Russia’s 11 time zones, Putin acknowledged that a second wave of infections is continuing to batter the country.
“Unfortunately the epidemic has not yet been completely stopped. The fight against it does not stop for a minute,” he said on state-run channel Rossiya 1, which broadcast the speech at midnight in Russia’s Far East (12:00 p.m. GMT).
The president, who wore a black coat over a white shirt with a red tie, added that many medical workers would be “on duty this festive night” and called on everyone else “not to retreat in the face of difficulties, to preserve our unity.”
The longtime Russian leader said in his 17th New Year’s address he was convinced that together Russians could “overcome everything” and “restore normal life.”
Unlike many European countries, Russia avoided reimposing the kind of strict nationwide lockdown it introduced this spring in the hopes of supporting a struggling economy.
While some major cities have reduced in-office workers and obliged bars and restaurants to close early, most regions have limited restrictions to reducing mass gatherings and requiring mask-wearing in public places.
But many Russians flout social distancing guidelines and fatalities from Covid-19 have ticked up in recent weeks.
Moscow, one of the country’s epicenters, saw virus-related deaths rise from 1,569 in September to 3,573 in October to 4,542 in November.
Officials this week also confirmed that the nationwide death toll from the virus is three times higher than previously reported.
But with approval ratings for Putin’s United Russia party waning ahead of key parliamentary elections next year, Russia hopes to avoid shutting down its economy.
Instead it has bet on a mass vaccination program using its homemade Sputnik V shot to reel in the outbreak.
But with Russians deeply sceptical of getting the jab, rollout has been slow.
In Moscow just 50,000 people have so far been inoculated, as several recent polls showed that only 38% of Russians plan on getting the vaccine.
Preparations are in the last stages for the vaccination programme, says Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that preparations were in the last stages for the vaccination programme against COVID-19.
Speaking after laying the foundation stone of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Rajkot through videoconferencing, he said that people would get the vaccine manufactured in India and urged people not to let their guard down and strictly abide by coronavirus preventive norms even after vaccination.
“Earlier, I said, ‘Dawai nahi toh dheelai nahi’. Now, I am saying ‘Dawai bhi aur kadaai (caution) bhi’. Our mantra for the year 2021 is ‘Dawai bhi aur kadaai bhi’ ”.
Stating that India was getting ready to run the world’s largest vaccination programme, the Prime Minister noted that India had turned into the nerve-centre of global health.
‘Watch out for rumours’
He cautioned people against rumours about the COVID-19 vaccination.
“Different people for their personal gains or due to irresponsible behaviour spread various rumours. Maybe rumours will be spread when vaccination begins, some have already begun,” he said.
“I appeal to the people of the country that fight against COVID-19 is the one against an unknown enemy. Be careful about such rumours and as responsible citizens refrain from forwarding messages on social media without checking.”
Speaking about medical education in the country, Mr. Modi said that his government was working on mission mode to improve this in India. In the last six years, work on 10 new AIIMS began and some of them are operational. “Twenty super speciality hospitals are also being built in the country,” he said.
Ayushman Bharat scheme
He added that under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, about 7,000 Jan Aushadhi Centres had provided medicines at low cost to about 3.5 lakh poor patients.
“If 2020 was the year of health challenges, 2021 is going to become the year of health solutions. The world will move towards health solutions with better awareness,” Mr. Modi stressed adding that as the diseases were becoming globalised, it was time for a coordinated global response for global health solutions.
“India has done this as a global player. India proved its mettle by adapting, evolving and expanding as per demand. India moved with the world and did value addition in the collective efforts. India is emerging as the nerve centre of global health, in 2021 we need to further strengthen this role of India,” he added.
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