Mosquirix was endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the first and, to date only, vaccine shown to have the capability of significantly reducing malaria, and life-threatening severe malaria, in tests on young African children. The vaccine acts against P. falciparum, the most deadly malaria parasite globally, and the most prevalent in Africa. Among children who received 4 doses in largescale clinical trials, the vaccine was able to prevent approximately 4 in 10 cases of malaria over a 4-year period.
- The disease, transmitted by the bites of infected mosquitoes, is caused by parasites.
- India alone accounted for 89 percent of deaths due to malaria in the South Asian region in the year 2006, and over half of the nation’s population was prone to the disease.
- The study also stated that malaria continues to trap countries in cycles of inequity, with 85 percent of global deaths reported in 2017 coming from 29 nations.
- One can experience symptoms like fever, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting, muscle pain and fatigue, sweating, and headaches.
- However, symptoms usually start about 10-15 days after the infected mosquito bite
- WHO has recommended that all suspected malaria cases must be validated via parasite-based clinical testing, as it only requires 30 minutes to implement this procedure.
- Only when the test is unavailable, should one diagnose via observing symptoms.
- WHO also suggests using Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) for treating falciparum malaria, and Chloroquine-based therapy for vivax malaria.
- The aim is to remove the parasite from the bloodstream, the benefits of the procedure include — high efficiency, fast action, and reduced likelihood of resistance developing.
- National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) approved the Chhattisgarh government’s proposal to declare the combined areas of the Guru Ghasidas National Park and Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary as a Tiger Reserve.
- The new Reserve is located in the northern part of the state, bordering Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
- This will be the fourth Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh, after the Udanti-Sitanadi, Achanakmar, and Indravati Reserves
- The Tamor Pingla Wildlife Sanctuary was identified as part of the Sarguja Jashpur Elephant Reserve in 2011.
- The Guru Ghasidas National Park used to be part of the Sanjay National Park in undivided Madhya Pradesh.
- Guru Ghasidas National Park was the last known habitat of the Asiatic cheetah in the country.
- Originally part of the Sanjay Dubri National Park, Guru Ghasidas Park was created as a separate entity in Chhattisgarh’s Sarguja region after the formation of the state in 2001.
- Wildlife experts and activists in the state believe that turning Guru Ghasidas into a Tiger Reserve is important because it connects Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh and provides a corridor for tigers to move between the Bandhavgarh and Palamau Tiger Reserves.
- Bhoramdeo, on the other hand, connects the Indravati Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh with the Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh
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4. Henley Passport Index
- India’s rank has slipped by six places from last year to 90 on the Henley Passport Index, which lists the world’s most travel-friendly passports.
- The Henley Passport Index comes at a time when countries are easing travel rules for international visitors after almost two years since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The index ranks the passports of countries according to the number of destinations their holders can visit without a prior visa.
- The rankings are based on the analysis of data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
- Japan and Singapore stood at the top of this year’s list, with their passports holders allowed to travel visa-free to 192 countries, while South Korea and Germany share the second position.
- For the third consecutive year, Japan has secured the top position.
- Meanwhile, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are among the least powerful.
- India, which held the 84th rank last year, fell down to the 90th position, with its passport holders allowed to travel visa-free to 58 countries
5. Nobel Prize in Chemistry
The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Benjamin List and David MacMillan for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.
- They have developed a new and ingenious tool for molecule building: organocatalysis.
- Many research areas and industries are dependent on chemists’ ability to construct molecules that can form elastic and durable materials, store energy in batteries or inhibit the progression of diseases. This work requires catalysts.
- According to researchers, there were just two types of catalysts available: metals and enzymes. Catalysts are any substance that increases the rate of a reaction without itself being consumed.
- In 2000, they, independent of each other, developed a third type of catalysis. It is called asymmetric organocatalysis and builds upon small organic molecules.
- Its uses include research into new pharmaceuticals and it has also helped make chemistry greener.
- Both these sets of catalysts (metals and enzymes) had limitations.
- Heavier metals are expensive, difficult to mine, and toxic to humans and the environment.
- Despite the best processes, traces remained in the end product; this posed problems in situations where compounds of very high purity were required, like in the manufacture of medicines.
- Also, metals required an environment free of water and oxygen, which was difficult to ensure on an industrial scale.
- Enzymes on the other hand, work best when water is used as a medium for the chemical reaction. But that is not an environment suitable for all kinds of chemical reactions.
- Organic compounds are mostly naturally-occurring substances, built around a framework of carbon atoms and usually containing hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, or phosphorus.
- Life-supporting chemicals like proteins, which are long chains of amino acids (carbon compounds containing nitrogen and oxygen) are organic.
- Enzymes are also proteins, and therefore, organic compounds. These are responsible for many essential biochemical reactions.
- Organocatalysts allow several steps in a production process to be performed in an unbroken sequence, considerably reducing waste in chemical manufacturing.
- Organocatalysis has developed at an astounding speed since 2000. Benjamin List and David MacMillan remain leaders in the field, and have shown that organic catalysts can be used to drive multitudes of chemical reactions.
- Using these reactions, researchers can now more efficiently construct anything from new pharmaceuticals to molecules that can capture light in solar cells.
- The process called asymmetric organocatalysis, has made it much easier to produce asymmetric molecules – chemicals that exist in two versions, where one is a mirror image of the other.
- Chemists often just want one of these mirror images – particularly when producing medicines – but it has been difficult to find efficient methods for doing this.
- Some molecules with mirror versions have different properties. An example is the chemical called carvone, which has one form that smells like spearmint and a counterpart that smells like the herb, dill.
- Different versions of the same molecule might have different effects when ingested. Then it becomes important to be able to make only the mirror image of a drug that has the desired physiological effect.
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