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India clears Russian vaccine for emergency use amid vaccine shortfall, Maharashtra delays board exams

Maharashtra Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said state board exams for classes 10 and 12 will now be held in May and June respectively.

India has authorised the emergency use of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V after reports that the country’s vaccination efforts are coming a cropper due to the shortage of Indian-made vaccines Covishield and Covaxin.

While Covaxin is made by Bharat Biotech of Hyderabad, Covishield is the AstraZeneca once developed by the University of Oxford and manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India. Emergency use authorisation usually precedes a formulation’s approval as a vaccine. The other big vaccines yet to be okayed for use in India are the ones made by Pfizer and Moderna, which are both double dose. Johnson and Johnson has also developed a vaccine which is said to be a single-dose product.

With almost a week-long incidence of over a lakh fresh cases being recorded, the vaccination efforts seem to have been hit. While the Government has insisted there is no vaccine shortage, social media is awash with posts of people being returned from hospitals without being vaccinated. The Centre has blamed a few states for the spike including Maharashtra, which has applied the brakes on state board exams as a result of the spike in cases.

Maharashtra Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said state board exams for classes 10 and 12 will now be held in May and June respectively.

In an announcement on Twitter, the state education minister said, Given the current COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra, we’ve postponed state board exams for class 10th and 12th. The present circumstances are not conducive for holding exams. Your health is our priority.

The announcement was made after the consultation with the state chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, teachers, parents, and elected representatives from across parties, she said. In a video message, Gaikwad said that Covid cases have been on the rise for the past few days. She went on to state that there has been stress about preparing for the exams among the students and the pandemic affecting the health of stakeholders. 

The safety of the stakeholders is our utmost priority and hence have decided to postpone the board exams. The SSC exam is likely to be conducted in June and the HSC exams could be scheduled at the end of May so that a student’s higher education is not impacted, she added. 

The HSC and SSC exams in Maharashtra were slated to begin from April 23 and April 29 respectively.

Gaikwad said that various alternative assessment options were also evaluated during the consultation, keeping in mind the well-being, health, and future of our students. Thanking CM Thackeray for his guidance, she mentioned that postponing the exams seemed to be the most pragmatic solution amid the Covid-19 surge in the state. 

She said the government would also request other education boards to adopt similar solutions under the prevailing circumstances. We’ll also be writing to the CBSE, ICSE, IB, Cambridge boards, requesting them to reconsider their exam dates, she added.

Last week, the Maharashtra government had announced for all students in Class 9 and Class 11 that they will be declared to be passed without taking exams, while a similar decision for the students of Class 1-8 was taken earlier in the month.

Read Also: Deepika Padukone steps down as MAMI chairperson, says she has way too much work

Meanwhile, Maharashtra logged its highest-ever single-day spike of coronavirus cases on Sunday with the addition of 63,000 fresh cases in the last 24 hours. With 63,294 new Covid-19 cases, the state’s caseload has reached 34,07,245 since the outbreak of the pandemic. Also, 349 new deaths in a single day have increased the total fatalities to 57,987 in the state.

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