News in numbers, Feb 4, 2016: Two possible zika vaccines from India, annual cost of OROP…

 

2

What is it? Number of possible vaccines Bharat Biotech, an Indian biotechnology company is working on to fight zika virus.

Why is it important? There is currently no cure or treatment for the virus declared as a global health emergency by the World Health Organisation, and linked to birth defects. France-based Sanofi and Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical have recently announced they are working on developing a vaccine for the disease.

Tell me more: The virus spreading in Americas can also hit Africa and Asia, according to WHO. The Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body for biomedical research, has assembled a team of experts to validate Bharat Biotech’s findings. The company says they are probably the first ones in the world to file for global patents for zika vaccine candidates.

 

54.3

What is it? Nikkei’s Services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in January, a composite indicator of India’s services based on a survey by Markit, a financial information and services company. It increased from 53.6 in December.

Why is it important? This is the highest in 19 months. However, it’s below the levels before the 2008-09 global financial crisis, indicating India’s vulnerability in the wake of economic slowdown in Asian and emerging markets.

Tell me more: The growth in new business was at a 11-month high of 54.1 in January from 53.8 in the previous month.

 

300-400

What is it? Number of physical bookstores Amazon plans to open, according to a US mall operator.

Why is it important? Amazon has been the predominant force behind putting physical bookstores out of business.

Tell me more: Traditional bookstores’ online ventures have proven to be no match for Amazon so far. It remains to be seen if Amazon can do well in a segment that it helped destroy. It opened its first store in Seattle last November and stacks books based on customer ratings and popularity on its website. At that time, the company had said it had used its 20 years of bookselling experience to “build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping”. Barnes & Noble, one of the few biggest chains of bookstores in the US, has 640 retail outlets.

 

50 years

What is it? The age below which women are advised not to go for mammography (specialised imaging system to examine breasts), according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Why is it important? Mammography tends to cause harm due to false positive results, overdiagnosis and possibly radiation-induced cancer. But evidence show it is effective in reducing breast cancer mortality in women aged 50-69 years and not in the younger age band of 40-49 years. The benefit of reduced mortality extends for women aged 70-74.

Tell me more: Women in the lower age group could continue to do breast self-examination and an annual clinical examination but there is no proof that these had helped in reducing breast cancer mortality, according to Dr Surendra Shastri, who heads the WHO Collaborating Division for Cancer Prevention.

 

Rs 7,500 crore

What is it? Annual cost of implementing the one rank, one pension scheme (OROP), according to the government.

Why is it important? Earlier it was estimated by the government to cost Rs 8,300 crore. Analyst estimates in September last year were even higher – HSBC (Rs 16,000 crore) and Nomura (Rs 10,000 crore). Both had said the OROP scheme would add to India’s fiscal burden, while the Indian government has maintained that it will not have a huge cost burden. Analysts will pore over the documents to see how the present estimates are lower.

Tell me more: The government has said it will pay arrears from July 2014 as against April 2014 (as demanded by the ex-servicemen) and this adds up to Rs 10,900 crore until December 2015.

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