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The impossible Rana Ayyub | Mint.

[02 Oct 2020]

“Her significance is that she has been consistently brave and outspoken about all of the pivotal issues in India’s recent past,” says Mukul Kesavan, historian and author. Portrait by Avani Rai.
“Her significance is that she has been consistently brave and outspoken about all of the pivotal issues in India’s recent past,” says Mukul Kesavan, historian and author. Portrait by Avani Rai.

Journalist Rana Ayyub's no-filter critique of New India make her impossible to ignore. In a year of international awards and honours, Lounge catches up with her as she prepares to receive an award from the US-based Muslim Public Affairs Council next week.

Priya Ramani writes:

Rana Ayyub feels happiest when she’s on the move. It’s more than that. She needs to be on the move. It’s when she pauses that she must grapple with anxiety, isolation, and the burden of being a relentless no-filter critic in New India. Make that Muslim woman critic though she has often been told, even by the liberal establishment, to not make it about religion. But at a time when even conservative commentators like Tavleen Singh agree that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term, “whether intentionally or not, seems to have the singular purpose of showing Indian Muslims that they are inferior citizens", Ayyub is unapologetic about her identity.

The award-winning investigative journalist will be honoured on 10 October for her “tenacious reporting on the rise of authoritarian Hindu nationalism" by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a US-based non-profit that works to promote pluralism.

In February, she won the 2020 McGill Medal for journalistic courage. In April, she was shadowed for an HBO documentary—produced by American journalist Ronan Farrow—which investigates threats to four journalists across the globe.

Until the pandemic shut down airports, Ayyub, 36, was zipping through countries with the ease of a tech company CEO, packing and unpacking her largely black-ivory-grey speaking wardrobe. Last year, for example, she was the keynote speaker at international journalism conferences in Norway, South Africa and New Mexico. She closed a conference in Greece; gave a talk at a journalism conference in Italy; addressed UN special rapporteurs in Geneva; gave lectures and talks in the US; and was interviewed by at least two Pulitzer-winning journalists.

The year ended with her on the cover of The New Yorker as journalist Dexter Filkins told the story of Modi’s rise through Ayyub’s eyes. The magazine’s award-winning editor, David Remnick, emailed her to thank her “for all the time and heart and soul you put into your extraordinary work".

In a world where journalists are under siege, Ayyub’s relentless critique, large public following and reporting chops make hers a voice that’s impossible to ignore. Every time a big story breaks, she messages me, “I’m going. Are you coming?"

Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic—when her international travel came to a standstill—she raised ₹1.75 crore on a crowdfunding platform and drove across the country, spearheading her own relief drive. Along the way, she contracted the virus and found herself in yet another controversy on Twitter.

Ayyub raised <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1.75 crore on a crowdfunding platform and drove across the country, spearheading her own covid-19 relief drive.

Ayyub raised ₹1.75 crore on a crowdfunding platform and drove across the country, spearheading her own covid-19 relief drive.

She may be among the most popular Indian invitees to global journalism conferences but when I asked an organizer of a local conference if they had ever invited Ayyub to their annual jamboree, he wasn’t sure. Later he messaged to say she hadn’t ever been at their event. Some of her detractors point out that other media critics of the government do their work quietly and don’t turn themselves into the story like Ayyub does. Others say the West has a saviour complex about her.

“Her significance is that she has been consistently brave and outspoken about all of the pivotal issues in India’s recent past," says Mukul Kesavan, historian and author. “She has been not just on the right side but ahead of the curve in calling the state out."

Kesavan believes Ayyub’s outspokenness deprives non-Muslims of “behalfism", namely the need “to speak like Galahads on behalf of Muslims".

One thing is clear: If the global media didn’t have her back, she would be even more vulnerable in an India that’s increasingly cracking down on any form of dissent. The fact that she’s a Muslim woman only makes her courage shine brighter.

Truth and dare.

The tidal wave of international invitations began in 2016 after the release of her self-published book The Gujarat Files: Anatomy Of A Cover-Up. “The book opened the floodgates more than anything else…suddenly the world discovered me," Ayyub says.

The book—an account of an eight-month-long undercover sting that investigated the Gujarat riots and its aftermath—has sold 750,000 copies and been translated into 15 languages. Ayyub just signed on with leading Beverly Hills-based talent agency William Morris Endeavour (WME) for the documentary and feature film adaptation.

WME will also market her next book, a personal history, due to be published in end-2021. In this book, about growing up Muslim, she looks back at key events in her life, from the impact of getting polio at the age of 4 to the murder of her dear friend, human rights lawyer Shahid Azmi, in 2010 and her subsequent depression.

“Write about the mental health pandemic," Ayyub, who regularly battles anxiety and insomnia, urges me every few weeks.

These days, she jokes, when she wants to feel calm she squeezes sideways into her four-year-old nephew Zulfiquar’s battery-operated BMW toy car and answers calls. “When I sit in it, I feel like things are working, things are going to be fine," she tells me.

She wants me to inform readers that she’s single and looking for love, ideally something lasting. “It’s the only space in my life where there’s a void," she says. Ayyub’s writing may be grim but her friends know she is full of joie de vivre.

At the International Journalism Festival in Italy in April, where we shared a stage, I got a ringside view of her ability to hook an audience as she shared the story of her book, and the harassment that followed. She introduced me to the who’s who in the world of global press freedom organizations.

Ayyub as lone warrior is an enduring image for many.

“She has been pretty much alone in her trying to get to the truth about Modi, past and present, despite all threats and obstacles," Filkins tells me. “…not letting go until she gets answers to her questions."

Political commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta says he finds Ayyub’s “Ekla chalo re courage" inspirational. “She has singlehandedly braved the entire might of the right. But the impact of her work has been more outside India. This is partly due to censorship and fear; partly because 2002 ceased being a live political and legal issue, especially after the Supreme Court’s interventions; partly because in India it was easy to construct her as a polarizing figure rather than a crusader for truth.

“It is a tribute to her that even in India the right completely loses its mind over her. It would have to invent someone like her if she did not exist to satisfy its victimhood," he adds.

In recent years there have been death threats, rape threats, threats to her family, hateful fake tweets attributed to her, and even a deepfake pornographic video in 2018. She handles this onslaught with the support of family and friends but the video (briefly) broke her spirit. Ayyub was in Delhi when the video broke and thatnight, she called an editor friend and said she might need to go to a hospital. She was having a panic attack. Her brother Arif flew in from Mumbai the next day. For a few days, the trolls had won.

South African editor Ferial Haffajee, who met Ayyub at a conference a few years ago, flicks away Ayyub’s critics. “As a third-world global citizen that can happen to any brown or black woman who dares to stake a place on the global stage. She clearly understands where she’s from—she’s Indian, she’s Muslim and she’s also a citizen of the world." Haffajee says she was drawn to Ayyub for her “no bullshit view of the world".

“She tells it straight, without embroidery."

Home and away.

In addition to frequent appearances on international media and the conference circuit, as a Global Opinions writer at The Washington Post since September 2019, Ayyub has had access to another important platform to show the world how India is changing.

Her audience may be varied but her topics are consistent: Islamophobia, the rapid erosion of press freedom and India’s rising majoritarianism. Abroad, many see her as the Indian equivalent of Rappler founder Maria Ressa, who makes Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte see red. “In the most contemporary form of violence against women journalists, along with Maria Ressa, Rana is our totemic figure about how to fight this latest scourge to media freedom," says Haffajee.

Ayyub’s appeal is not restricted to an overseas audience—she’s a favourite with students at home too. She’s equally comfortable talking about the parallels between Kashmir and Palestine and the plummeting standards of television news at a posh south Mumbai school as she is discussing her Marathi-medium education, her childhood polio, which made her an introvert, and her early inferiority complex when addressing a women’s college in Kozhikode with mostly Muslim students. “I become their best friend. I talk in a language they understand," she tells me in one of many conversations for this piece.

Young women often ask her how they can convince their parents to allow them to lead similarly independent lives. Ayyub has never really had to try too hard to convince her family about her life choices; they are her biggest cheerleaders and her strongest support. “If it wasn’t for my family…" her voice trails off. She lives in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, with her homemaker mother Safia, her father Waquif, a prolific Urdu author and former school principal, and her brother Arif’s family.

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Podcast and Video: TWiV 668: Mice, bats, and coronaviruses with Tony Schountz | This Week in Virology.

[October 1, 2020]

Tony Schountz joins TWiV to explain the work of his laboratory showing that deer mice can be infected with and transmit SARS-CoV-2, and how his colony of Jamaican fruit bats is being used to understand their response to virus infections.

Hosts: Vincent Racaniello, Rich ConditKathy Spindler and Brianne Barker

Guest: Tony Schountz

Watch 'virtual roundtable'; discussion on YouTube video [1:46:36]:


Listen to Podcast via source article


Download TWiV 668 (64 MB .mp3, 106 min)
Subscribe (free): iTunesGoogle PodcastsRSSemail

Become a patron of TWiV!

Links for this episode

Weekly Science Picks 1:36:20

Brianne – Virus Masks
Kathy – UV in the vineyards (video)
Rich – Great White Shark Attack
Vincent – Smart WiFi garage door opener

Intro music is by Ronald Jenkees

Send your virology questions and comments to

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Polio this week as of 30 September 2020 | ReliefWeb.

[News and Press Release] [Source: GPEI] [Posted: 2 Oct 2020] [Originally Published: 30 Sep 2020] [Origin: View original]

  • “The more time you can spend getting your shoes dusty walking and working together in the field, the better you will understand the challenges,” Says Dr Sue Gerber, a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) in our latest Women Leaders in Polio Eradication feature.

  • As part of the GPEI’s ongoing research activities to help achieve and sustain polio eradication, in particular to develop Sabin-IPV and polio vaccine-like particle (VLP) development, we have issued a call for nomination of experts to serve on the WHO polio eradication advisory panel on Sabin-IPV and polio VLP vaccine development.

  • On 19 September 2019, a polio outbreak was declared in the Philippines after a 3-year-old child and several environmental samples tested positive for polioviruses. Fifteen other children have been paralyzed by polio since the outbreak started. To protect children from lifelong paralysis due to polio, vaccination rounds have been conducted in parts of the country. Meet the #HeroesEndingPolio who have been working to combat polio in the Philippines.

Summary of new WPV and cVDPV viruses this week (AFP cases and ES positives):

  • Afghanistan: two WPV1 positive environmental samples

  • Pakistan: one WPV1 case, 9 WPV1 positive environmental samples, three cVDPV2 cases and two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples

  • Cameroon: one cVDPV2 case and one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo): six cVDPV2 cases

  • Guinea: seven cVDPV2 cases

  • Sudan: one cVDPV2 case and five cVDPV2 positive environmental samples

Download document (PDF | 1.02 MB)

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The fight against polio vaccines misconception in Northern Nigeria- Professor Umaru Shehu narrates | WHO Regional Office for Africa (WHOAFRO).

[02 October 2020]

Professor Umaru Shehu.png
Professor Umaru Shehu

Abuja, 2 October, 2020 - Today Nigeria is polio-free but the country’s battle with wild polio virus has been long and complex. There have been numerous setbacks along the way to achieving wild poliovirus free status and extraordinary efforts and investments have been made to reach this goal.

In 2003, five northern Nigeria states boycotted the oral polio vaccine due to fears that it was unsafe. 90-year-old Professor Umaru Shehu was one of the legions of health experts and leaders who took up the challenge of ensuring that children were fully protected from lifelong paralysis. 

A Professor Emeritus in Public Health, Medical Doctor, Administrator, past WHO Country Representative and consultant, Professor Shehu was invited to wade in to avert the worrisome misconception about the polio vaccine. As a specialist with over 40 years of experience in disease prevention and eradication, he was one of the northern experts who certified the Oral Polio Vaccine 'safe and effective'. 

As a result of his determination, Nigeria now celebrates the victory over the wild poliomyelitis virus. Here, Professor Shehu recounts his experience during the polio eradication journey.

Crushing the polio vaccine misconception. 

I can rarely start talking about polio vaccination without recalling my participation in the smallpox eradication campaign. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated globally in 1980. 

 In 1989, the WHO Regional Committee for Africa adopted WHA resolution and endorsed the goal of polio eradication on the continent. At that time, many children were devastated by this debilitating disease. Many children were devastated by this debilitating disease. It was a great challenge that had to be tackled. On my part, I participated in the polio-eradication activities as a Polio Eradication Ambassador due to the misconception of the polio vaccine. The misunderstanding had created apprehension among some religious groups that the vaccine had antifertility agents which were against the tenets of the religion.

The rumours and non-compliance with immunisation activities were fuelled and festered by a combination of factors and circumstances which was compounded by a group of religious leaders, the Jammatul Nasril Islam (JNI), some Islamic sects such as the Boko Haram (BH) which had disabused the minds of many parents quoting wrong information about polio vaccination across the country. 

The problem was compounded by some religious leaders and academicians who were engaged to correct the misconceptions but were also against the polio-vaccination. They gave credence to anti-vaccine campaigners who linked polio vaccines with birth control mechanisms against the growing population of developing countries.

At that stage, I had to ensure that surveillance was strengthened to improve search for cases. I had to jump into the wagon of leadership and spearhead the fight against polio through interfacing with the religious and traditional leaders as well as the mass media. The role I played reversed the false impression about polio-vaccine being used as a birth control mechanism. 

Surmounting the odds.

The World Health Organisation headquarters in Geneva had tasked me with the responsibility of coming in to solve these problems. The key to solving the problem then was to use indigenes to intervene and find solutions. 

Aside from the important task of resolving the non-compliance issue, training of staff on vaccine administration, cold chain management supervision, monitoring of teams were additional tasks added to my terms of reference. 

Another challenge we had to combat was convincing parents to present their children for vaccination. Some parents went to the extent of denying the presence of children in their households to avoid vaccination. We had to go from door to door convincing parents on the importance of vaccines and also employed the help of some parents as community influencers to speak with other parents. 

I had to give many talk sessions to the members of the Jammatul Nasril Islam (JNI) to disabuse their minds of all the bad stuff about polio vaccination across the countries. I had to directly interface with the leaders of the Boko haram sect as they had confidence in me as an unbiased medical professional. The leader of the Boko Haram sect had earlier said he believed in Professor Umaru Shehu as a person.

It was a daunting task as it was tied up with a religious belief that the vaccine has to do with population control. To change their mindset about polio-vaccine, we had to give a descriptive analysis of how vaccines were used in other parts of the world without it harming their population.

A lot of effort was made to make the different groups see the picture of the polio burden across the world.  I drew maps that showed the whole world ravaged by poliovirus and how the virus was eradicated in the developed nations over time using the polio vaccine. 

We understood that education at the lowest level was necessary. We had to take to the streets, running after families and parents to educate them in favour of vaccination. We worked hard giving examples and illustrations to the safety and efficacy of polio vaccine.

Legacy of a hard-fought battle.

Back then, many people did not understand the importance and benefits of global efforts to rid the world of polio. A polio-free country means that children born in Nigeria will be more able-bodied and fit to achieve a means of livelihood. Such healthy children will grow up and be beneficial to others and the country at large. 

Education will be undemanding for healthy children, this would increase the workforce and productivity in the country. Nigeria will also be able to channel the saved funds into other sectors for development. 

Now wild poliovirus in Nigeria is non-existent. The eradication has worked the magic. The legacy that is left in terms of polio infrastructure can still be useful to citizens of the country. The network should not be allowed to disappear. From experience, the legacy left can be found very useful in the future, who knows? 

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and other partners have made huge contributions that were very beneficial to the nation in terms of supplies, education, training, materials, developing new methods of dealing with human behaviour and other types of support. 

The partnership is crucial in the fight against diseases. Most importantly, they have helped us successfully combat polio. If there is any danger to health and happiness, there has to be a change in human behaviour to address the problem.

Support for EPI to the Federal Government of Nigeria through WHO is made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Department for International Development (DFID – UK), European Union, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Government of Germany through KfW Bank, Global Affairs Canada, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Community Chest Korea, KOFIH (Korea), Rotary International and the World Bank.

Technical Contact

Dr Audu Idowu; Email:; Tel: +234 803 700 5376

Owoseye, Ayodamola Olufunto; Email:; Tel: +234 817 192 2700


For Additional Information or to Request Interviews, Please contact:

Ms Charity Warigon

Tel: +234 810 221 0093

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Pakistan: Countrywide Polio Campaign Vaccinates Around 39 Million Children | UrduPoint.

[Fri 02nd October 2020] Sumaira FH writes:

ISLAMABAD (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 2nd Oct, 2020 ) :Pakistan Polio Eradication Program on Friday said that approximately 39 million children had been vaccinated against poliomyelitis during a nationwide immunization campaign from September 21 to 25 .

The nationwide campaign was implemented by a workforce of almost 270,000 frontline workers who carried out door-to-door vaccination of children under the age of five, said an official of the programme.

He said that this was the first nationwide campaign since February due to a four-month suspension on supplementary immunization activities during the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan. He said that the campaign was inaugurated by provincial and district leadership across the country, while the Pakistan armed forces, members of medical associations, prominent religious leaders, celebrities, activists and leadership from across the political spectrum came forward to support the campaign.

Commenting on the results of September campaign, Dr Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services said that it was very encouraging to see all Pakistanis, from all walks of life, showing such great support for this national cause.

"With such level of commitment, I am confident that we are going in the right direction. We have to ensure that no child is missed during these nationwide vaccination campaigns in order to protect them against the crippling polio disease." As with smaller campaigns held in July and August, frontline workers were trained on COVID-19 preventive measures, such as hand washing, the proper use of face masks and maintaining a safe distance from others especially children during door-to-door visits.

Moreover, the programme implemented strict measures for its field staff as per the Government of Pakistan's set guidelines on COVID-19 prevention, he added.

Data from campaigns conducted between July to September show that vaccination teams have improved their outreach in each subsequent campaign. This means more children across the country were being administered the polio vaccine and building the necessary immunity against the poliovirus.

"With each campaign we have launched since July, our frontline workers have done an exceptional job at reaching vulnerable children with the polio vaccine. This would not have been possible, however, without the cooperation of concerned parents and caregivers across the country," said Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre of the Pakistan Polio Eradication programme.

"Essential immunization also needs to be strengthened to facilitate the interruption of all poliovirus transmission, and hence, the programme is focused on prioritizing essential immunization as part of the national agenda alongside upcoming door-to-door vaccination campaigns," Dr. Safdar further highlighted.

To do this, the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) has simultaneously been conducting targeted outreach activities to ensure that children are receiving essential immunization.

About 8,150 vaccination teams have been deployed across the country in order to conduct these outreach activities with communities. From January to August, around 13.6 million vaccine doses had been administered to children. Meanwhile, approximately 699,762 zero dose children, or children who had never received routine immunization, had also been identified and vaccinated.

Polio vaccination campaigns will be resumed with a sub-national polio eradication campaign in selective districts in last week of this month.

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Traditional Nutritional and Health Practices Targeting Lifestyle Behavioral Changes in Humans | Journal of Lifestyle Medicine | PubMed Central.

[Open Access] [Published online 2020 Jul 31]


In this 21st century who isn’t enticed by the glamorous and appealing life in the fast lane? We are surrounded by wonders, something we could never have imagined erstwhile. We have everything just a click or a call away. This alluring lifestyle comes with its own perils, the biggest one being concerned with health which is often compromised with check ins and home delivered food but the problem doesn’t just lie with the outside food but also with all those chemical enriched engineered expensive food items. The industry often tempers with our food to make it “More Attractive” to the consumer. However, in modern era, availability of drugs and fancy powders has led to imbalance of health and nutrition, contrary to the previous era when home gardening was very common and people preferred fresh-foods which didn’t contain added chemicals. They even used to treat some of the health problems with the natural ways that we nowadays refer to DIYs (Do-it-yourselves). Since Ayurveda used natural herbs and plant extracts for treatment, the earth was fresher and less-polluted which led to greater life expectancy. The modern era also has its own benefits like excellences in allopathy medicine has brought a cure to many untreatable diseases of the ancient times, and have even eradicated certain diseases like smallpox and polio. To summarize, both the time had their own pros and cons, so it would be better if we take both of their advantages into consideration and work ahead to live a healthy life.

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