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Donald Trump to start holding rallies: Republican party head

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With elections looming just 21 week away, President Donald Trump is planning to hold rallies again this month in a move to boost his sagging support.

Trump will be holding “full rallies” with safety precautions, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told a Fox News TV programme on Tuesday.

She said that he could resume his rallies now that states are relaxing restrictions that were imposed to combat COVID-19, but did not say when he would.

Politico said that the rallies could start as soon as two weeks.

It quoted Trump’s campaign chief Brad Parscale as saying, “Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump. The great American comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You’ll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of.”

Biden, a former vice president who will be the Democratic presidential candidate, is leading Trump by 8 percentage points according to the latest aggregation of poll numbers by RealClear Politics.

He has consistently led Trump in the RealClear Politics averaging of major polls with his lead fluctuating between 4.4 per cent and 8 per cent since January.

Of the so-called battleground states, which can swing either way, Trump is expected to concentrate on six of them, which he won in 2016 but where he is now trailing Biden.

Trump is in his elements at the massive rallies he addresses and his fiery – and down-to-earth – oratory are his strongest bet to draw votes. But COVID-19 — which he calls the “China Virus” — has bottled him up for about 90 days.

A man with an obsession for superlatives, Trump boasts of the 100,000 attendance at the “Namaste Trump” rally in Ahmedabad in February, although probably only a handful of audience were American voters.

McDaniel said that there would be temperature checks and other safety precautions similar to those proposed for holding the party’s convention in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Holding of the convention at which Trump would be formally anointed as the party’s presidential candidate is up in the air because Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, has refused to say whether because of the COVID-19 restrictions he would allow it to be held in Charlotte as planned.

The RNC had said it was expecting 50,000 people for its convention and is looking at alternative sites.

Not being able to hold the convention, a national tradition that gets three days of national attention and TV time, or scaling it down will be a set-back for Trump to get his message out.

The Democrats, who have been cautious about loosening the pandemic restrictions and criticised Trump for advocating restarting the economy and society, have yet to decide if they will hold the convention scheduled for August in Milwaukee. But they have made provisions in their rules for virtual voting by convention delegates to formally nominate Biden as the party candidate.

If Trump holds rallies, it will create a dilemma for Democrats, who oppose a full opening of the country but will have to counter Trump.

But the tens of thousands of its supporters who have participated in the protests against police brutality have flouted social distancing – and even mask – guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, which may make strictly holding on to them for the convention moot.

Trump initially had a propaganda advantage after suspending his campaign rallies in March because he held centre-stage in the daily briefings on the coronavirus crisis along with experts.

But the briefings are now only held intermittently.

Trump’s campaign web site has not listed any live events as of Tuesday, but has schedules for virtual meetings but none mentioned Trump’s participation.

When Trump holds his rallies, he will face several logistical problems such as how to maintain social distancing among the tens of thousands of his supporters.

International News

India travel ban not racist: Australian Foreign Minister

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Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has denied suggestions that the government’s decision to ban travel from India amid the country’s worsening Covid-19 situation was motivated by racism.

Payne said that the “temporary” move to ban travel from India to Australia was made in response to the high number of Covid-19 infections among Australians in hotel quarantine who have returned from the country, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

“The burden that has placed on the health systems in the states and territories, including through particularly Howard Springs, is a very significant one,” she told reporters on Sunday.

“The decision which has been made under the Biosecurity Act on the basis of the advice of the Chief Medical Officer is a temporary pause on returns.”

On May 1, the government announced that anyone who enters Australia and has been in India within 14 days of the person’s time of departure may face up to five years’ imprisonment and heavy fines.

The temporary pause comes into effect on Monday and will be reconsidered on May 15 by the government following advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

Asked if the radical move was motivated by racism, Payne said “absolutely not in any way”.

Payne’s comments came as a leading citizenship expert warned that the government could face a legal challenge to the travel ban.

Kim Rubenstein from the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Business, Government and Law said that if the ban goes beyond the initial expiry date of May 15, a challenge would be more likely.

“A challenge could be made in federal court as to the lawfulness of the determination,” she said, according to Nine Entertainment newspapers on Monday.

“The longer that this goes on, the more chance there is for a legal challenge on its inconsistencies with the frameworks of the Biosecurity Act.”

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First of $100M Covid aid from US arriving in India

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A man receives a COVID-19 PCR nasal swap at a COVID-19 testing site in Washington, D.C., the United States, Nov. 13, 2020. (Photo by Ting Shen/Xinhua/ians)

Two US planes carrying oxygen cylinders, rapid testing kits and N95 masks that are the first of Covid-19 assistance totally worth $100 million were to have arrived in India on Thursday night, according to US officials.

“The planes carried the first tranche of the assistance, which includes oxygen cylinders, rapid diagnostic tests, and N95 masks to protect frontline workers,” President Joe Biden’s Deputy Principal Spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday.

“Additional flights carrying the remaining assistance, including oxygen generators and concentrators are scheduled to depart in the upcoming days,” she added.

The US is delivering supplies worth more than $100 million in the coming days to provide urgent relief to our partners in India,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.

“US government flights will start arriving in India tonight and they will continue into next week,” he said.

“Just as India sent assistance to the US when our hospitals were strained early in the pandemic, the US is determined to help India in its time of need,” he said.

In addition, “private companies, non-governmental organisations, and thousands of Americans from across the country have mobilised to deliver vital oxygen, related equipment, and essential supplies for Indian hospitals,” Price said.

Price said that the effort to help India has to be broad-based with the participation of the private sector, “the advocacy community” and civil society groups.

“Our assistance, we hope, will have a catalytic effect on society more broadly here and around the world to come to the aid of the Indian people,” he said.

“To galvanise the private sector,” he said that Secretary of State Blinken spoke earlier this week with the US Chamber of Commerce and the Department’s Coordinator for Covid-19 Response, Gayle Smith, followed it up with another call to make the point that “everyone has a role to play.”

He was asked by a reporter about reports that there were differences on aid distribution with the US wanting to do it through NGOs and local governments while the Indian Central Government wanted the aid routed only through it.

Price said, “Our goal is to see to it that this aid – and this is a goal, of course, that we share with the Indian Government – is to see to it that this aid is put to immediate and effective use.”

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Pfizer, AstraZeneca jabs: 1 in 4 suffer mild side effects

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AstraZeneca-vaccines

One in four people experience mild, short lived systemic side effects like headache, fatigue and tenderness after receiving either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, according to a new study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Most side effects peaked within the first 24 hours following vaccination and usually lasted 1-2 days, and majorly among women under 55 years of age, said researchers from the King’s College London.

“The data should reassure many people that in the real world, after effects of the vaccine are usually mild and short-lived, especially in the over 50’s who are most at risk of the infection,” Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at the varsity.

“The results also show up to 70 per cent protection after 3 weeks following a single dose,” Spector said.

The team analysed data from 627,383 users of the ZOE Covid Symptom Study app who self-reported systemic and local effects within eight days of receiving one or two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine between December 8 and March 10.

The findings showed 25.4 per cent of vaccinated people indicated suffering from one or more systemic (excluding the area where the injection took place) side effects, whereas 66.2 per cent reported one or more local (at injection site) side effects.

About 13.5 per cent of participants reported side effects after their first Pfizer dose, 22.0 per cent after the second Pfizer dose and 33.7 per cent after the first AstraZeneca dose.

The most reported systemic side effect was headache — 7.8 per cent of people after the first Pfizer dose and 13.2 per cent after the second Pfizer dose, while 22.8 per cent of people reported headache after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Nearly 8.4 per cent and 14.4 per cent people reported fatigue after the first and second dose of Pfizer vaccine, whileA 21.1 per cent reported fatigue after their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

A whopping 57.2 per cent and 50.9 per cent reported tenderness after the first and second dose of Pfizer vaccine, and 49.3 per cent after the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, the researchers said.

The study also reports a significant decrease of infection rates from 12 to 21 days after the first dose of the Pfizer (58 per cent reduction) and AstraZeneca (39 per cent reduction) vaccines compared to a control group.

The drop in infection at least 21 days after the first dose for Pfizer is 69 per cent and for AstraZeneca 60 per cent, the findings showed.

Moreover, Covid survivors were three times more likely to have side effects that affect the whole body after receiving doses of the Pfizer vaccine than those without known infection and almost twice more likely after the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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