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Biocon drug Itolizumab gets approved for use

By the time we see off this crisis, we would have added a few tongue twisters and medical terminology to our daily vocabulary. DGCI has approved Biocon’s existing drug Itolizumab for use in moderate to severe conditions of coronavirus. This is the first novel biological therapy to be approved for use anywhere in the world.

Now add cytokine storm to your vocabulary: Cytokine storm is a term used for the self-harming and aggressive response of the body’s immune system to a perceived threat. In covid, cytokine storm has been observed in the moderate to severe cases. The existing drug Itolizumab, developed to treat skin ailment psoriasis, helps to calm this response of the immune system.

What’s the catch? One, in the early stages of infection, patients actually need the immune system to respond. Thus, it is not a simple action of giving an injection as soon as the test shows positive. Medical supervision is required to gauge at which stage a patient might need the drug. Second, a report by Hindu claims that experts are not convinced by the number of tests undertaken for the repurposed drug before approval for use.

Gold smuggling case in Kerala kicks a political furore

Considering the numbers we are used to hearing in connection with financial scams, this sounds petty at a meagre Rs. 15 Crore. But in this case, the devil is in the details. On July 5th, the customs officials caught a baggage addressed to UAE consulate at Thiruvananthapuram airport and it revealed 30 Kg gold.

What’s the story here? Details are yet to emerge for the real value as this could just be the tip of the iceberg. Last week, the NIA arrested two main accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair in Bengaluru and brought them to Kochi this weekend. Swapna Suresh used to work in the UAE consulate in the Kerala capital. Now, it is being alleged that not only did she misuse her diplomatic immunity but her deep connections in the ministry helped her with the smuggling and escape to Bengaluru. With legislative elections less than a year away and only so much that you can play up with Covid, this case is getting all the shiny spotlight that it can.

Color of devotion remains gold: Recession? What recession? Since the Tirumala temple opened on June 11, the cash collections have touched approximately Rs. 16.7 Crores. What was also discovered was 2 Kg gold in donation by an unnamed devotee.

Old Mutual faces expulsion in the middle of Zimbabwe’s economic turmoil

Zimbabwe is not a newbie when it comes to economic and currency challenges. If anything, it is a demo case of what can happen when inflation runs wild. However, with a new government few years at the helm, new things are being tried with conspiracy theories galore.

What do you mean? The announcement to expel South African multi national and second largest insurance company in Zimbabwe Old Mutual was the latest in a series of unique actions. It is yet to be clear whether the expulsion is limited to delisting on the stock exchange or ouster from the country. If the company is indeed ousted, the question is far more complex with insurance policies and pension funds of citizens in the balance. Two weeks back stock exchange trading was halted till further notice. Most importantly, all forms of mobile payment, including the biggest player EcoCash were banned. Considering almost 85% of the transaction volume was happening through the channel in the dearth of currency notes in circulation, this hits the citizens really hard. All three, stock exchange transactions, mobile money and Old Mutual insurance have been accused of economic sabotage consequently leading to the constant devaluing of the ZimDollar. Current rate of inflation in Zimbabwe? 785.55%! No wonder the court has to swing into action to ensure acceptance of the currency within the country.

Flashback: For more than a decade now, Zimbabwe has been struggling with it’s currency. In 2009, Robert Mugabe abandoned the Zimbabwean dollar in favor of a basket of international currencies. The reason can be inferred through this line from an Al Jazeera article: “By November 2008, Zimbabwe’s peak month of inflation was estimated at 79.6 billion percent month-on-month and 89.7 sextillion percent year-on-year.In July 2019, the zimdollar was reinstated as the sole legal tender in the country rendering foreign currency savings for a lot of citizens to zero.

IN SNIPPETS

Number of Jio platforms investors hits 13: Qualcomm became the third strategic partner in Jio Platforms by picking up a 0.15% stake for Rs. 730 Crores. Clearly, RIL is pulling out all stops for their first ever digital AGM in 2 days time.

D’Mart’s numbers come tumbling down: Avenue Supermart reported it’s Q1 result on Saturday with a dent of 87.61% year-on-year in it’s profit for the quarter to land at Rs. 40 Crores. Profit margin also contracted to see a sharp fall from 5.5% to 1%. The start-stop reopening has not been helpful to their case either.

Franklin Templeton receives all dues from Vodafone Idea: Franklin Templeton India has received a payment of Rs. 1252.44 Crores from Vodafone Idea for full principal and interest, which will be duly transferred to investor accounts by 20th July. Recently, it also got approval from Delhi High Court to sell Essel group pledged shares to recover dues worth Rs. 616 Crore. At least the AMC seems to be showing some urgency to move on from this mess.

Russia claims world’s first covid vaccine: While the details and reliability of the claim is still sketchy, Sechenov University in Russia claims to be the first to have successfully completed human trials for the world’s first covid vaccine.

IMF advocates fiscal caution: With the world on track to reach a situation of global debt being more than 100% of global GDP, IMF threw out a word of caution in the most urgent manner they could – a blog post.

MARKET PULSE

Although the market closed a little in the red, Friday still capped off the fourth straight week of gains for the markets. Banks led the red while Pharma and FMCG balanced in the green.

WILD CARD

This weekend saw some news come out of Sudan worth raising a toast to. The country passed a law to criminalise female genital mutilation and allowed private consumption of alcohol for it’s 3% non-muslim population. Cheers!

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