Daily Current Affairs: 5th November 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. Covaxin
  2. Excise Duty
  3. Facts for Prelims

1. Covaxin

Context: India’s first indigenous COVID19 vaccine, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization (WHO).

About Covaxin

  • Covaxin is a whole virion-inactivated vaccine against SARS-CoV2, developed in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
  • It has been granted EUL for use in persons 18 years and above, over two doses spaced four weeks apart.
  • The vaccine is developed using Whole-Virion Inactivated Vero Cell derived platform technology.
  • Inactivated vaccines do not replicate and are therefore unlikely to revert and cause pathological effects.
  • They contain dead virus, incapable of infecting people but still able to instruct the immune system to mount a defensive reaction against an infection.

Whole virus Vaccine

  • Whole virus vaccines use a weakened (attenuated) or deactivated form of the pathogen that causes a disease to trigger protective immunity to it. 
  • There are two types of whole virus vaccines. Live attenuated vaccines use a weakened form of the virus, which can still grow and replicate, but does not cause illness. Inactivated vaccines contain viruses whose genetic material has been destroyed by heat, chemicals or radiation so they cannot infect cells and replicate, but can still trigger an immune response.


  • COVAXIN includes the following ingredients: COVAXIN contains 6µg of whole-virion inactivated SARSCoV-2 antigen (Strain: NIV-2020-770), and the other inactive ingredients such as aluminum hydroxide gel (250 µg), TLR 7 /8 agonist (imidazoquinolinone) 15 µg, 2-phenoxyethanol 2.5 mg, and phosphate buffer saline up to 0.5 ml.
  • The vaccine thus has been developed by using inactivated/ killed virus along with the above mentioned chemicals.

Key Attributes

  • COVAXIN is included along with immune-potentiators, also known as vaccine adjuvants, which are added to the vaccine to increase and boost its immunogenicity.
  • It is a 2-dose vaccination regimen given 28 days apart.
  • It is a vaccine with no sub-zero storage, no reconstitution requirement, and ready to use liquid presentation in multi-dose vials, stable at 2-8oC.

COVAXIN Effective Against Variants of Concern:

  • It has proven to neutralize the variants – B.1.1.7 (Alpha) first isolated in UK, P.1- B.1.1.28 (Gamma) & P.2 – B.1.1.28 (Zeta) first isolated in Brazil, B.1.617 (Kappa) first isolated in India, B.1.351 & B.1.617.2 (Beta & Delta) first isolated in RSA & India.
  • Efficacy data demonstrates 65.2% protection against the SARS-CoV-2, B.1.617.2 Delta variant.

2 . Excise Duty

Context : The Government on Wednesday finally bit the bullet on runaway fuel prices and slashed excise duties on petrol and diesel by ₹5 and ₹10 per litre respectively, citing the need to help farmers for the rabi crop, ease inflation and give the economy a consumption boost.

Petrol Pricing in India

  • There are four components to this price: the cost to the dealer, which includes
    • The crude oil price and other processing charges,
    • Excise duty charged on per unit basis by the Centre
    • A dealer commission to the fuel station
    • VAT imposed by the state. VAT rates vary across states—being outside the GST ambit—and accounts for a rather wide variation in prices across regions.
  • The price for petrol and diesel is revised at 6 am every day and the price of crude oil in the international market directly influences fuel prices in India. As international prices rise the import cost also increases.
  • While international crude oil prices determine the cost of fuels in India, it is only one factor contributing to the rise in petrol and diesel. The main reason for this hike is central and state government taxes.

Excise Duty

  • Excise duty is a form of tax imposed on goods for their production, licensing and sale.
  • An indirect tax paid to the Government of India by producers of goods, excise duty is the opposite of Customs duty in that it applies to goods manufactured domestically in the country, while Customs is levied on those coming from outside of the country.
  • At the central level, excise duty earlier used to be levied as Central Excise Duty, Additional Excise Duty, etc. However, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), introduction in July 2017, subsumed many types of excise duty.
  • Today, excise duty applies only on petroleum and liquor. 
  • Excise duty was levied on manufactured goods and levied at the time of removal of goods, while GST is levied on the supply of goods and services. 
  • Alcohol does not come under the purview of GST as an exclusion mandated by constitutional provision. States levy taxes on alcohol according to the same practice as was prevalent before the rollout of GST. 
  • After GST was introduced, excise duty was replaced by central GST because excise was levied by the central government. The revenue generated from CGST goes to the central government.

3 . Facts for Prelims

Children’s Climate Prize

  • The Children’s Climate Prize is an international prize annually awarded to young people taking actions to bring sustainable solutions for our planet.
  • The prize celebrates and shed light on young innovators, entrepreneurs, changemakers and conservators in order to spread hope and inspire others. The Children’s Climate Foundation awards the prize annually, works for a long-term perspective and makes it possible for others to partner in the initiative.
  • The winners of the Children’s Climate Prize are celebrated at a gala event in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • They receive a diploma, medal and prize money of SEK 100,000 to continue developing their projects.
  • The Children’s Climate Prize was founded in 2016 by Telge Energi, the Swedish frontrunner in renewable energy.

Earthshot Prize

  • The Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious global environment prize in history, designed to incentivise change and help repair our planet over the next ten years.
  • Taking inspiration from President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot which united millions of people around an organising goal to put man on the moon and catalysed the development of new technology in the 1960s, The Earthshot Prize is centred around five ‘Earthshots’ – simple but ambitious goals for our planet which if achieved by 2030 will improve life for us all, for generations to come.
  • The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge unites people to tackle some of today’s biggest challenges, delivering impact on a range of issues that matter to Their Royal Highnesses and to society.
  • Launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020

Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM)

  • CAQM consolidates all agencies that monitored, investigated and planned mitigation of air pollution in the region, the commission has replaced the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) which had been running for 22 years. The EPCA also did not have penal provisions that the commission will now have.
  • The Commission is the most powerful air pollution monitoring body set up by the Centre to date. The rulings by the commission on air pollution will override anything contained in any other law.
  • The powers of the commission will also supersede that of any other body in matters of air pollution. Therefore, in cases where conflict may arise between orders or directions issued by the other state governments, state pollution control boards or even the Central Pollution Control Board, the orders of the commission will prevail.
  • The Commission will have the power to take measures, issue directions and entertain complaints “for the purpose of protecting and improving the quality of air in the National Capital Region”.
  • It will also coordinate action taken by states on air pollution and will lay down parameters for air quality and emission or discharge of environmental pollutants. It will also have powers to restrict industries in any area, carry out random inspections of any premises including factories and be able to close down an industry or cut its power and water supply in case of non-compliance.
  • It will also be monitoring the measures taken by the states to prevent stubble burning.
  • The Commission will be headed by a full-time chairperson with experience of not less than 15 years in the field of environmental protection and pollution control or having administrative experience of not less than 25 years.
  • The members of the commission will also comprise of an official from the Environment Ministry, five ex-officio members who are either chief secretaries or secretaries from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, one full-time member who is or has been a joint secretary, three full-time independent technical members who are experts in air pollution, one technical member each from the Central Pollution Control Board and Indian Space Research Organisation, three members from non-governmental organisations who deal in air pollution and one representative of the National Institution for Transforming India.
  • The commission will also have three members, being stakeholders from sectors such as agriculture, industry, transport or construction apart from representatives of several ministries, including Road Transport and Highways, Power, Housing and Urban Affairs, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Commerce and Industry. There will also be representatives of any association from the commerce or industry sector.
  • The commission will have at least three sub-committees —monitoring and identification, safeguarding and enforcement, and research and development.

Landslip and Fish death

  • Landslips caused by an earthquake of 3.4 magnitude close to the border with China led to mass fish death in the Kameng river in Arunachal Pradesh, it is learnt.
  • Officials in the East Kameng district said the earthquake on October 13 happened in the vicinity of the source of the river at an elevation of about 6,300 metres above Mean Sea Level. Kameng is not a transboundary river.
  • The landslips dumped several tonnes of mud and rock into the river, substantially reducing the flow of water. The river turned blackish due to very high turbidity resulting in low dissolved oxygen that killed the fish.

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