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Russia confirms 35,681 new COVID-19 cases



Nov 22, 2021 14:41 IST

Moscow [Russia], November 22 (ANI/Sputnik): Russia has confirmed 35,681 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the cumulative total to 9,331,158, the federal response center said on Monday.
“Over the past 24 hours, 35,681 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 85 regions in Russia, including 2,319 cases (6.5%) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase fell to 0.38%.

Moscow registered 2,786 new COVID-19 cases. The Russian capital was followed by Saint Petersburg with 2,215 new cases, and the Moscow region with 1,784 new cases.
The response center reported a record 1,241 deaths linked to the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 265,336.
In the same 24 hours, 28,713 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, bringing the total to 8,053,643. (ANI/Sputnik)


US President Joe Biden addresses nation in wake of new Covid variant, says Omicron is a ’cause for concern, not panic’



US President Joe Biden took to podium on Monday to share his thoughts about the newly emerged Covid-19 variant Omicron. President Biden told Americans that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was a “cause for concern,” not a “cause for panic” and urged Americans to get vaccines and booster shots as cases of the fast-moving variant were reported around the world.

‘We’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion,” he said.

Suggesting that no cases of the new Omicron variant have been reported in the US, the president said that it is only a matter of time. “Sooner or later, we are going to see new cases of this new variant here in the United States and we’re going to have to face this new threat just as we have faced the ones that came before it,” he said while addressing the Americans through the podium.

He reiterated his plea for Americans to get vaccinated as a way to protect themselves against COVID.

“If you are 18 years and older and got fully vaccinated before 1 June go get the get booster shot today,” Joe Biden said today. “They’re free and they’re available at 80,000 locations coast to coast. A fully vaccinated booster person is the most protected against Covid,” he further said.

The President’s remarks come the same day his administration’s new travel restrictions in response to the omicron variant went into effect.

(with agency inputs)

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Published on: Monday, November 29, 2021, 11:17 PM IST

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‘They’re all begging me’: Trump’s 2024 veep tryouts get underway



“A lot of times, a presidential candidate will pick a running mate to balance out wings of the party. But with Trump, that’s not the issue. He is the party, basically. It’s so united behind him,” said John McLaughlin, one of Trump’s campaign pollsters. “So his choice, if he runs, will come down to what he wants. It would be a much more personal decision this time.”

Trump hasn’t made his 2024 bid official. He’s expected to make a decision after the 2022 midterms. But he has been building a campaign-in-waiting that is already laying groundwork, and the question of a running mate is surfacing with increasing frequency.

He’s name-dropped Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as one possible running mate. Veepstakes speculation rose among insiders who saw him interact recently with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his Mar-a-Lago club.

“They’re all begging me. They all come here,” Trump boasted to one adviser, who shared the account anonymously with POLITICO.

The issue of a running mate, advisers and allies say, has taken on a new dimension in Trump’s mind as he stews over his decision to pick Pence in 2016, only to watch the vice president help certify the election of Joe Biden as president in January. Though it was Pence’s legal responsibility, Trump considered him disloyal and recently went so far as to say it was “common sense” that the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters chanted “hang Mike Pence.”

The considerations that led Trump to name Pence as his ticket mate in 2016 — an evangelical conservative, Pence was a Rust Belt governor at the time of his selection — are no longer as relevant, Trump’s advisers say. They say Trump is far more likely to go with his gut instinct next time around. Trump partly relied on his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, during the selection process last time, but the two are not expected to play the same role if he runs in 2024.

“Once you get past those two issues — loyalty and Trump going more with his gut — Trump has a lot of leeway in who he would pick,” said Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s lead pollster in 2016 and 2020.

“He’s not necessarily looking to balance the ticket geographically, but what he can do is pick to balance gender, race, ethnicity — a lot of different lanes there,” said Fabrizio, who is polling for a Trump-affiliated super PAC. “It could be everything from a Tim Scott in South Carolina to an Asian American in California, somebody Hispanic in Texas. There are so many choices and paths. And there’s lots of time to go.”

Those familiar with Trump’s thinking say his prospective vice president selection would likely draw from three general lanes of candidates: women, conservatives of color or a trusted adviser — or a “consigliere,” as one adviser described it.

Scott, the first elected Black senator from the South since the Reconstruction era, recently met with Trump in Palm Beach.

“It was a really warm interaction,” said one Republican observer in the room. “Scott was appropriately deferential without being gross, like some people are. What he said was thoughtful, and it was appreciated by the president. There was definitely chemistry there.”

Scott, who is running for reelection in 2022, has proved to be a prodigious fundraiser as well, pulling in $8.4 million in the last quarter. He hasn’t denied his own interest in a presidential bid in 2024, but he has said he wouldn’t run if Trump does. The South Carolina senator has already begun visiting other early presidential nominating states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone said the shadow presidential campaigns from Scott and so many others double as a sort of vice-presidential tryout for Trump.

“This is an audition. And Trump is paying attention,” Stone said. “There’s no question that people running for president are really running for vice president all the time. The key is to make it look like you’re not running for vice president.”

Within Trump’s orbit, there is a belief that a Black running mate could eat into Democratic margins in key swing states, and that Hispanic voters are showing more signs of being up for grabs — especially in crucial battlegrounds like Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Texas.

Among some Trump advisers, Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez is viewed as a promising future star. They say Trump likes her and raved about her speaking role at his nominating convention last summer. But her public and political footprint have been limited under DeSantis, who’s widely seen as an heir apparent to Trump. The two men have a cordial and respectful public relationship, but privately Trump sees the younger DeSantis as a potential rival.

When Trump recently mused about picking DeSantis as a running mate, many in Trump circles said he was putting the governor in his place, not seriously floating him as a name.

“Trump feels he made DeSantis. Trump sees him as a competitor. And he’s not going to have someone with better numbers,” one Trump adviser said.

Yet there is one wrinkle that could potentially limit either Florida politician from getting the nod: a quirk in the Constitution that suggests a presidential candidate would face a unique hurdle with a running mate who hails from the same state.

The former president is also less likely to be concerned with Florida because he perceives it as Trump country after his three-point win last year in his newly adopted home state. And he’s not as concerned about ginning up conservative turnout as he was in 2016, given his strong standing with the party base.

However, Trump is keenly aware that he had a problem with women voters, increasing the likelihood that he might look to strike a gender balance on his ticket. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn have risen in the way-too-early veepstakes chatter because both are “tough as nails and conservative as hell,” one adviser to Trump said.

“Reynolds and Blackburn are definitely in the hunt,” the source added.

One early vice presidential favorite — Nikki Haley, Trump’s former United Nations ambassador and a former South Carolina governor — appears to have been frozen out after she criticized him over the Jan. 6 riot. There’s also relatively little enthusiasm among Trump insiders, they say, for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who was being advised by Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, until he left the public eye amid a harassment scandal.

If Trump picks another white male as a running mate, those who know his thinking say it’s likely that individual would play the role of a close adviser, a super chief of staff of sorts. That could even include Mark Meadows, Trump’s last White House chief of staff, said one Republican who recently discussed the vice presidential issue with Trump in passing.

“Don’t rule out a consigliere lane for vice president, a Meadows-type,” the source said. “There were times when Pence occupied that role. No one wants to admit it now. But I observed it. But obviously Jan. 6 changed everything in that relationship.”

Trump’s former acting national security director, Ric Grenell, has also risen in the estimation of Trump insiders, as has another potential presidential candidate, Mike Pompeo, who was Trump’s secretary of state and Central Intelligence Agency director.

“Don’t sleep on Ric. Trump loves him, and unlike Pompeo or anyone else, he has no interest in running for president. That’s a big issue for Trump,” another adviser said of Grenell, who recently joined the board of directors for Trump’s super PAC.

Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign staffer who worked in his administration, said it’s hard to forecast whom Trump might pick because there’s so much time to go. Whomever is chosen “will have to be loyal, and they’ll have to denounce what happened in 2020. If they don’t, they’re disqualified.”

Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, echoed Caputo.

“Who should he pick?” she asked. “Whoever he wants.”

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Pune Administration Gears To Deal With Omicron COVID Cases, PPCR Convenes Meeting – Punekar News



Pune, 29th November 2021: Maratha Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture (MCCIA) backed Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response (PPCR) today organised an interaction with experts and senior officials of Maharashtra State Government and Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporations and District Administration, in the backdrop of emerging threat due to omicron, the new variant of Coronavirus.

Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, a former Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientist, stated that this variant has accumulated 50 mutations and has caused a lot of concern. He stated that the number of mutations by itself should not cause panic if the hospitalisations and deaths do not register a substantial jump.

He suggested that we should not look at the increase in infections as a worry but closely monitor the hospitalization and deaths. He mentioned that fully vaccinating a larger number of people is very important. The new variant may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines but those would still be effective. This is evident from the decline that we have observed over the last few months when the vaccination drive has picked up and the number of infections has gone down.

He added that :
1. There is a need to increase the number of people who are fully vaccinated. Then we would be better prepared to deal with the new variant
2. Need to ensure Covid-Appropriate Behaviour among people
3. Unless we have data – we would not be able to suggest that the new variant is very worrisome. However, we need to exercise caution and follow all the prescribed norms. – wear the mask and other Covid appropriate behaviour.

4. There is a need to motivate people to get tested if they observe something abnormal, Contact Tracing, Isolation and other measures to reduce the spread of the new variant
5. After about a week, we will have some more clarity about the infectivity and other data of the new variant

6. In terms of steroids and other prescribed medicines- we should be prepared well
7. For now the variant appears to be stable, with high transmissibility but low virulence which perhaps explains the lack of a surge in hospitalisations and deaths where it was earlier reported
8. There is no clarity on whether the present RT-PCR or Antigen Tests will be able to detect the new variant.

9. We have to be careful while deciding whether to reduce the gap between two doses of vaccines (currently 84 days). He said that reducing the gap may lead to reducing the efficacy of the vaccines and affect the immunity of people.

10. Booster shots should be introduced in India only after sufficient data about the new variant – in effect, the booster shots should be administered only of second-generation vaccines or at least a combination of presently available vaccines.

He thought it is a good thing that India did not start on the booster doses as yet. It is better to wait for sufficient data to emerge before we start administering the booster doses.

MCCIA president Sudhir Mehta stated that there are four important points to consider and act upon :
1. Lot of discussion about which tests will be able to detect infections from the new variant
2. Whether the symptoms will be the same for infections from the variant – as they were for the earlier ones
3. Response to Immunity
4. What is needed to support the Government machinery
5. How do we encourage everyone who is eligible to be fully vaccinated

Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao stated that :
1. Even though the new variant is a cause of concern, people should not panic
2. There is no doubt ambiguity about the nature of the variant, but there is absolute certainty about the need for
a. Quick detection
b. Extensive Contact Tracing
c. Timely Testing
d. Quick Treatment

He stated that with the support of partners/stakeholders like PPCR, the hospitals are prepared to tackle a surge in infections to the extent of 100%. However, if the infections go up 5 to 6 times, then we will need to worry. The administration is already preparing the facilities which were designated as Covid Treatment centres, with audits for Oxygen Supply and availability, maintenance of critical equipment etc. Compared to April/May 2021, the medical facilities across Pune Division have added close to 100% capacity in the Oxygen availability in terms of Oxygen Plants / other means of supply. International Experts have trained close to 5000 Doctors and Medical staff of Government Hospitals. Contractual Staff will be redeployed as per the need in the Pune division to deal with a possible increase in Covid patients.

He suggested that the communication with people has to be intensified to instill confidence and also to encourage them to vaccinate themselves as well as come forward for testing in case of flu-like symptoms/possible infections.

He stated that the rate of infections may be high due to the variant. However, it is unlikely to register a huge spike in infections, if we go by the trend we observed after Ganeshotsav and Deepavali celebrations.

Rao stated that the four prominent institutions in Pune – National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), National Institute of Virology (NIV) and Sassoon Hospital, are engaged in genome sequencing of the variant of the virus.

He stated that the administration will reactivate the Dashboard about bed availability to the fullest extent possible to boost the confidence of people. He hoped that Pune would come out stronger in its fight with the latest variant, based on our earlier experiences with the two waves of infections caused by the coronavirus.

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