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COVID-19: RBI Announces HUGE Relief For Borrowers, Banks

The 3-month moratorium on EMI, interest on working capital would give much-desired relief.



MUMBAI (Maharashtra): Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das March 27 announced a massive 75 basis points cut in repo rates as a measure to counter the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reverse repo rate has been cut by 90 basis points to 4 per cent. “There were some differences in the quantum of reduction and MPC voted by 4:2 majority to reduce policy repo rate by 75 bps to 4.4 per cent,” the RBI Governor said in the press meet. Das said this has been done to make it unattractive for banks to passively deposit funds with the RBI and instead lend it to the productive sectors.

The RBI governor has said that all banking institutions can offer a three-month moratorium on all loans for a period of three months. The RBI has also allowed banks to restructure the working capital cycle for companies without worrying that these will have to be classified as NPA.

The Central Bank has offered Rs 11,772 crore to banks through a 12-day variable rate repo auction.

Before the auction, the RBI enhanced the amount of auction to Rs 50,000 crore from Rs 25,000 crore, announced earlier.

In the auction, the central bank received Rs 11,772 crore of bids and allocated the entire amount at a cut-off rate of 5.16 per cent. RBI had advanced this auction to today from March 30 due to the evolving financial conditions and taking into account the impact of disruptions caused by COVID-19.

It will conduct another variable term repo auction of Rs 25,000 crore on March 31.

This announcement is big since the economy is under hardship and reeling under job losses and industrial shutdown. The three-month moratorium will permit banks to avoid a large onset of NPAs during the 21-day lockdown and keep their books healthy.

For borrowers too, the three-month moratorium will be helpful to ease the burden on their savings and avoid the fear of turning defaulters. This is the big stimulus the small industry and working middle class have been waiting for.

Measures Applauded Unanimously:

Indian shares opened higher on March 27, with the Nifty opening above the psychologically important 9,000-mark. But the market is trading at day’s low with Sensex up 518.45 points or 1.73 per cent at 30465.22, and the Nifty gained 215.65 points or 2.5 per cent at 8857.10 at 10:15 hrs IST.

The top gainers included Axis Bank and IndusInd Bank being the top gainers, jumping 9-11 per cent each. They were followed by IDFC First Bank, RBL Bank, YES Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and HDFC Bank.

“The RBI has surpassed expectations by delivering more than what the market anticipated, and its promise to ‘do whatever it takes’ has come good. The steps to ease working capital pain, reduce liquidity costs and provide a moratorium on term loans will alleviate stress across various sectors. We continue to see rates dropping to 3.50% by August 2020.” Rahul Bajoria, Chief India Economist, Barclays

RBI has announced massive liquidity boosting measures including cuts in repo rate, reverse repo rate and CRR. The Governor has also hinted about using unconventional methods if needed. In the present scenario, considering the weak sentiments in the economy, the effectiveness of monetary stimulus will be limited. Three-month moratorium on loans is a welcome step.” – Deepthi Mary Mathew, Economist at Geojit Financial Services

The RBI’s press conference comes a day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 1.07 lakh crore relief package for the poor.

The economy has been battered by COVID-19 and governments across the globe have taken measure to combat the impact. While the finance minister’s announcements were a mix of measures, including direct cash transfers and distribution of free food grains for three months to help the economically weaker sections, the RBI governor is expected provide some relief to corporate India as well.

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COVID-19: Get Help With Govt’s Official Mobile App ‘Aarogya Setu’

It is available for both Android and iOS and here’s how it can be used to detect COVID-19.



NEW DELHI: More than one crore individuals have downloaded the ‘Aarogya Setu’ mobile App. The government had launched a mobile app to bring the people of the country together in a resolute fight against COVID-19.

The App, called ‘AarogyaSetu’ joins Digital India for the health and well-being of every Indian. The App will enable people to assess themselves the risk for their catching the Coronavirus infection.

It will calculate this based on their interaction with others, using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence.

What Is It?

Aarogya Setu, which translates from Sanskrit to ‘a bridge of health.’ tells users if they can catch Coronavirus and makes use of GPS and Bluetooth to determine if a person is near or have been in contact with a Coronavirus-infected person.

The app aims to tell people about the ‘best’ practices they can follow and the apt sources they can refer to so that people can cope well with the ongoing virus outbreak.

The app is available in 11 languages including English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, among others and needs permission to access a user’s location (which is required to be on always), Bluetooth, and data. The app claims to share the user data only with the Government of India and not third parties.

How to Use It?

The Aarogya Setu app is available for both Android and iOS users and can be downloaded via both the Google Play Store and the App Store.

  • Go to either Google Play Store or the App Store
  • Look for Aarogya Setu in the search bar
  • Hit the Install option to download it
  • Once the Aarogya Setu app is downloaded, open the app on either your Android or iOS device
  • Select the preferred language from 11 language options
  • You need to go past a couple of screens that give an idea about the app
  • Following this, provide the app with device location, Bluetooth, and data sharing permissions and click I Agree.
  • Don’t forget to turn on the Bluetooth of your smartphone
  • Enter your 10-digit mobile number and verify with an OTP received
  • Fill in your personal details such as gender, full name, age, profession, travel history, and then click on the Submit option

Once all this is done, you will know if you are at the risk of getting Coronavirus, help centres, a self-assessment test, and more Coronavirus related information.

Additionally, the app asks you to use the app from time-to-time to remain updated.

It may be recalled that the last week, MeitY introduced the Corona Kavach app solving a similar purpose. However, the app is in beta as of now and is available only for Android users.

The Aarogya Setu app has a cleaner and simpler UI as compared to Corona Kavach and is available for both Android and iOS users.

Another distinguishing feature between both apps is that Corona Kavach also lists down the number of active Coronavirus cases in the country.

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COVID-19: Bharat Biotech Developing Intranasal Vaccine Against Coronavirus

CoroFlu will build on the backbone of FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate known as M2SR.



NEW DELHI: A Hyderabad-based biotech company is working on developing a nasal vaccine for COVID-19. An international collaboration of virologists at the University of Wisconsin Madison and the vaccine companies FluGen along with Bharat Biotech has begun the development and testing of a vaccine against COVID-19 called CoroFlu.

CoroFlu will build on the backbone of FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate known as M2SR, which a self-limiting version of the influenza virus that induces an immune response against the flu.

The virologists will insert gene sequences from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, into M2SR so that the new vaccine will also induce immunity against the novel coronavirus.

Bharat Biotech will manufacture the vaccine, conduct clinical trials, and prepare to produce almost 300 million doses of vaccine for global distribution. Under the collaboration agreement, FluGen will transfer its existing manufacturing processes to Bharat Biotech to enable the company to scale up production and produce the vaccine for clinical trials,” Dr Raches Ella, Head of Business Development, Bharat Biotech said.

Refinement of the CoroFlu vaccine concept and testing in laboratory animal models at UWMadison is expected to take three to six months. Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad, India will then begin production scale-up for safety and efficacy testing in humans. The company expects CoroFlu to be in human clinical trials by late 2020.

Bharat Biotech has commercialized 16 vaccines, including a vaccine developed against the H1N1 flu that caused the 2009 pandemic.


Refinement of the CoroFlu vaccine concept and testing in laboratory animal models at UW–Madison is expected to take three to six months. Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad, India will then begin production scale-up for safety and efficacy testing in humans. CoroFlu could be in human clinical trials by the fall of 2020.

Four Phase I and Phase II clinical trials involving hundreds of subjects have shown the M2SR flu vaccine to be safe and well tolerated. This safety profile, M2SR’s ability to induce a strong immune response, and the ability of influenza viruses to carry sequences of other viruses make M2SR an attractive option for rapidly developing CoroFlu as a safe and effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

“We are going to modify M2SR by adding part of the coding region for the coronavirus spike protein that the virus uses to latch onto cells and begin infection,” Gabriele Neumann, a senior virologist in Kawaoka’s lab and co-founder of FluGen, said.

“CoroFlu will also express the influenza virus hemagglutinin protein, which is the major influenza virus antigen, so we should get immune responses to both coronavirus and influenza.”

M2SR is a unique form of the flu virus. It lacks a gene called M2, which restricts the virus to undergo only a single round of replication in cells.

CoroFlu, like M2SR, will be delivered intranasally.

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COVID-19: Govt Grants More Relaxations For Agriculture And Allied Sectors

The govt has issued the 4th Addendum to its notification invoking the Disaster Management Act.



NEW DELHI: Center has granted a slew of exemptions and relaxations for Agriculture and Allied sectors in view of the 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

In order to ensure that the farmers do not suffer from any adverse fallout, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has issued the 4th Addendum to its notification invoking the Disaster Management Act.

According to the latest Addendum, shops of Agricultural machinery, its spare parts, including supply chain and repairs and shops for truck repairs on highways, preferably at fuel pumps, can remain open. This will facilitate the transportation of farm produce.

The tea industry, including plantations, can also function with a maximum of fifty per cent workers.

The Home Ministry has emphasized that the head of the organization or establishment will ensure the practice of social distancing norms and proper hygiene. The District authorities have been directed to ensure strict enforcement of the orders.

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