Binayak Dasgupta

Binayak Dasgupta

Binayak reports on information security, privacy and scientific research in health and environment with explanatory pieces. He also edits the news sections of the newspaper.

Articles by Binayak Dasgupta
Researchers also say that the evolution of Sars-Cov-2 at present does not pose a major risk since the changes seen even till now do not make existing immunity (from older infections) or vaccines completely obsolete.(REUTERS)
Researchers also say that the evolution of Sars-Cov-2 at present does not pose a major risk since the changes seen even till now do not make existing immunity (from older infections) or vaccines completely obsolete.(REUTERS)

Covid: South African, Brazilian strains raise new fears on vaccines, immunity

UPDATED ON JAN 21, 2021 04:57 AM IST
The first major mutation of the Sars-Cov-2 virus was reported from the UK in the so-called B.1.1.7 variant (also called VOC202012/01) ; authorities said in December that it was more infectious, and it was later seen as a factor in leading to the country’s worst wave yet.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

SA, Brazil strains raise new fears on vaccines, immunity

By Binayak Dasgupta, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 21, 2021 12:09 AM IST
Mutations of the Sars-Cov-2 virus found in South Africa and Brazil have begun worrying authorities and scientists who say that these – they are distinct from the new variant first found in the UK – could trigger more re-infections, even reduce vaccine efficacy, though more tests are underway
Close
The concerns surfaced on Saturday, when at least two doctors groups – the Tamil Nadu doctors’ association and a group of doctors in Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital – indicated they were reluctant to take Covaxin.(HT_PRINT)
The concerns surfaced on Saturday, when at least two doctors groups – the Tamil Nadu doctors’ association and a group of doctors in Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital – indicated they were reluctant to take Covaxin.(HT_PRINT)

Experts warn against partial immunity, mutation risks

By Binayak Dasgupta, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2021 02:47 AM IST
The two experts also said that it is important to ensure that immunisation programmes avoid controversy that could fuel vaccine scepticism. For instance, the approval to a vaccine without efficacy data “was not a good idea”, according to John P Moore.
Close
Conspiracy theories are a part of what motivated the mob at the US Capitol. While belief in conspiracy theories is not new, technology has helped bridge the distance between the fringe and the centre-stage (AP)
Conspiracy theories are a part of what motivated the mob at the US Capitol. While belief in conspiracy theories is not new, technology has helped bridge the distance between the fringe and the centre-stage (AP)

At stake, the future of democracy

PUBLISHED ON JAN 10, 2021 09:24 PM IST
The roots of the attack on the Capitol can be traced to an alternative, fact-free, conspiracy theory based narrative, fuelled by technology
Close
A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) gets out of the ambulance outside the Southend University Hospital, as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hospital admissions rise in the UK, in Southend-On-Sea, Britain.(Reuters)
A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) gets out of the ambulance outside the Southend University Hospital, as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hospital admissions rise in the UK, in Southend-On-Sea, Britain.(Reuters)

Large-scale study in UK finds new strain could be tougher to control

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 03, 2021 05:20 AM IST
The variant has 23 changes in its genetic code, with some that experts say makes it more transmissible. Its outbreak forced several countries to stop travel to and from the UK in the days leading to Christmas.
Close
The coronavirus strain(Unsplash)
The coronavirus strain(Unsplash)

2021: Year of the shot in the Arm

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 01, 2021 03:17 AM IST
The experiences in the US, the UK, and several European countries over 2020 have demonstrated that the factory-to-syringe process can throw up several challenges, and that even the most resourceful of nations can struggle with a process that can be as labyrinthine as it needs to be precise.
Close
A medic administers COVAXIN, an Indian government-backed experimental Covid-19 vaccine, to a health worker during its trials, at the Gujarat Medical Education & Research Society in Ahmedabad, India, November 26, 2020.(REUTERS)
A medic administers COVAXIN, an Indian government-backed experimental Covid-19 vaccine, to a health worker during its trials, at the Gujarat Medical Education & Research Society in Ahmedabad, India, November 26, 2020.(REUTERS)

Reading the clues from Covaxin early trial data

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 25, 2020 04:59 AM IST
Bharat Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, jointly developed with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), passed the two crucial tests in clinical trials – showing it was safe and triggered an immune response – according to early stage analysis released on Wednesday.
Close
Scientists, doctors, public health officials and pharmaceutical companies around the world have since embarked on a race against time, redirecting their collective focus and energies in a manner that has paralleled some of history’s greatest collaborative efforts such as the Manhattan Project or the Apollo programme.(Illustration by Jayachandran)
Scientists, doctors, public health officials and pharmaceutical companies around the world have since embarked on a race against time, redirecting their collective focus and energies in a manner that has paralleled some of history’s greatest collaborative efforts such as the Manhattan Project or the Apollo programme.(Illustration by Jayachandran)

Covid-19: Learning to beat a virus

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON DEC 24, 2020 11:40 PM IST
The world, scientifically and technologically, has never been better prepared to deal with a pandemic than it is right now and our efforts to tackle Sars-CoV-2 capitalise on decades of advances.
Close
A sign reads "Covid-19 Cases Very High in London. Stay at Home" near a highway in London, UK.(Bloomberg)
A sign reads "Covid-19 Cases Very High in London. Stay at Home" near a highway in London, UK.(Bloomberg)

What we know so far about the new coronavirus strain

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON DEC 22, 2020 04:57 AM IST
There is, however, no evidence yet to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness, or that vaccines will be any less effective against the new variant
Close
Covid-19 has exacerbated inequities. People who have had the most capital have had access to better health care at a time when most public utilities have been overwhelmed. People in white collar jobs have been able to quarantine, isolate and earn while working from home, while others have lost pay and employment as their workplaces shut(AP)
Covid-19 has exacerbated inequities. People who have had the most capital have had access to better health care at a time when most public utilities have been overwhelmed. People in white collar jobs have been able to quarantine, isolate and earn while working from home, while others have lost pay and employment as their workplaces shut(AP)

Don’t create a world of immunity haves and have-nots

UPDATED ON DEC 02, 2020 01:09 PM IST
Governments and businesses must chart a path out of this pandemic that minimises inequities.
Close
Outbreaks have also perplexed epidemiologists when they noticed that only a small proportion of infected people cause the most number of infections – a so-called superspreader effect.(File Photo)
Outbreaks have also perplexed epidemiologists when they noticed that only a small proportion of infected people cause the most number of infections – a so-called superspreader effect.(File Photo)

Symptomatic patients four times more likely to spread virus: Study

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 29, 2020 06:36 AM IST
The study was based on a meta-analysis – a uniform statistical review – from 45 contact-tracing studies from around the world published till mid-July.
Close
According to a top expert, in India, where the vaccine is undergoing a separate late-stage trial, the approval can be filed on the lower-efficacy, two full-strength dose, which still meets the 50% efficacy bar set by regulators.(AFP)
According to a top expert, in India, where the vaccine is undergoing a separate late-stage trial, the approval can be filed on the lower-efficacy, two full-strength dose, which still meets the 50% efficacy bar set by regulators.(AFP)

AstraZeneca plans new vaccine trial as efficacy questioned

By Binayak Dasgupta and Rhythma Kaul | Hindustan Times, New Delhi, New Delhi:
UPDATED ON NOV 27, 2020 05:36 AM IST
The announcement comes days after the vaccine developers said their two-shot inoculation was 70% effective in preventing Covid-19 in an interim analysis of their clinical trial, with a particular regimen in which the first shot was at half-strength showing a higher 90% efficacy.
Close
The researchers make a distinction on the need to test more people when they are contagious versus those who may merely be infected.(Reuters)
The researchers make a distinction on the need to test more people when they are contagious versus those who may merely be infected.(Reuters)

Test frequency, not accuracy, may be key to controlling outbreak: Study

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 23, 2020 01:08 AM IST
The findings hold significance for a city like Delhi where the proportion of tests turning positive has consistently been higher than the acceptable limit of 8% for weeks now.
Close
At present, there are no laws or autonomous bodies that have a say on the sort of content on streaming services or news websites – complaints regarding these had largely been dealt by the communications and IT ministry with laws such as the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code being invoked.(Representative Image)
At present, there are no laws or autonomous bodies that have a say on the sort of content on streaming services or news websites – complaints regarding these had largely been dealt by the communications and IT ministry with laws such as the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code being invoked.(Representative Image)

Govt to regulate OTT, online news platforms

By Amandeep Shukla and Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 12, 2020 06:39 AM IST
The change was made through the amendment of Allocation of Business Rules and announced through a gazette notification dated November 9 by the Cabinet secretariat.
Close
People walk by the Pfizer headquarters on November 9, 2020 in New York City. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced positive early results on its COVID-19 vaccine trial and has proven to be 90% effective in preventing infection of the virus.(AFP)
People walk by the Pfizer headquarters on November 9, 2020 in New York City. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced positive early results on its COVID-19 vaccine trial and has proven to be 90% effective in preventing infection of the virus.(AFP)

Pfizer says its Covid vaccine 90 per cent effective

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON NOV 10, 2020 03:16 AM IST
Eight months into the crisis, the preliminary results pave the way for the companies to seek an emergency-use authorisation from regulators if further research shows the shot is also safe. The vaccine may be available by the end of the month.
Close
A Covid-19 patient arrives to cast his vote for the state by-polls, at Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru.(PTI)
A Covid-19 patient arrives to cast his vote for the state by-polls, at Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru.(PTI)

Over 31 million exposed to Covid in Karnataka: Sero study projections

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON NOV 10, 2020 03:03 AM IST
The researchers collected samples from close to 3,000 households in 20 districts in the state from mid-June through August 2020 and also swabbed respondents for RT-PCR tests to determine active infections.
Close
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

In new online abuse menace, AI bot turns women’s photos into nudes

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 21, 2020 10:40 AM IST
Deepfake tracking agency discovers bot used generated over 100,000 nude images of women from regular photographs
Close
A research scientist works inside a laboratory of India's Serum Institute, the world's largest maker of vaccines, which is working on vaccines against the coronavirus disease in Pune.(REUTERS)
A research scientist works inside a laboratory of India's Serum Institute, the world's largest maker of vaccines, which is working on vaccines against the coronavirus disease in Pune.(REUTERS)

1 vaccine may have reached initial efficacy test

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 03, 2020 03:57 AM IST
Pfizer’s is among half a dozen experimental vaccines being tested in large scale (Phase 3) human trials and, according to science informatics and analytics company Airfinity, it is projected to have had enough Covid-19 cases in the trial for its first interim analysis.
Close
A Twitter spokesperson acknowledged the problem and said the company was looking into it.(REUTERS)
A Twitter spokesperson acknowledged the problem and said the company was looking into it.(REUTERS)

Racist machines? Twitter’s photo preview problem reignites AI bias concern

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi:
UPDATED ON SEP 21, 2020 06:11 AM IST
The problem was first discovered when education tech researcher Colin Madland posted about how video-calling software Zoom cropped the head out of a black person on the other side of a call, seemingly unable to detect it as a human face.
Close
To put it simply, Zhenhua’s database is akin to putting together a dossier on a person with publicly available data(SHUTTERSTOCK)
To put it simply, Zhenhua’s database is akin to putting together a dossier on a person with publicly available data(SHUTTERSTOCK)

Zhenhua Data case: How to think about Chinese surveillance

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON SEP 15, 2020 09:09 PM IST
Zhenhua Data, the reports claimed, put together a database with the personal information of over two million people of public interest — politicians, celebrities, business leaders, prominent military officials and academics
Close
Shortly after 3am, several posts were made, including some urging people to donate to a cryptocurrency wallet that the hackers said was linked to the “PM National Relief Fund”.(Reuters file photo)
Shortly after 3am, several posts were made, including some urging people to donate to a cryptocurrency wallet that the hackers said was linked to the “PM National Relief Fund”.(Reuters file photo)

Twitter handle linked to PM’s portal hacked

By Binayak Dasgupta and Smriti Kak Ramachandran | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 04, 2020 01:58 AM IST
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the page -- @narendramodi_in – associated with the PM’s website narendramodi.in, was compromised.
Close
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.(HT Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.(HT Photo)

Hacked PM Modi’s Twitter account to make a point on PayTM Mall breach: Hackers

By Binayak Dasgupta and Smriti Kak Ramachandran | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 03, 2020 12:23 PM IST
On August 30, cyber security firm Cyble reported that a hacking group identifying itself as John Wick “was able to gain unrestricted access to the entire databases” of PayTM Mall
Close
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg(AP file photo)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg(AP file photo)

Antisocial media: Why Facebook’s missteps threaten internet and society

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON SEP 03, 2020 05:20 AM IST
Experts say company has wielded policies opaquely, pushing the case of regulator role that could change the nature of the internet.
Close
A passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Airlines flight after landing at Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport, in Minneapolis.(AP)
A passenger wears personal protective equipment on a Delta Airlines flight after landing at Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport, in Minneapolis.(AP)

Virus spreads in aircraft but transmission risk low: Study

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 22, 2020 06:18 AM IST
Closed indoor spaces have become a particular worry for the spread of the Sars-Cov2, which can linger on as aerosols; people usually breathe out microscopic viral particles even when they speak but the volume increases drastically if someone coughs or sneezes.
Close
Migrant workers arriving from other states sit for rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 at Anand Vihar bus terminal in New Delhi on Tuesday.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Migrant workers arriving from other states sit for rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 at Anand Vihar bus terminal in New Delhi on Tuesday.(Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

Why Delhi sero survey findings do not mean you’re safe

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 21, 2020 05:29 AM IST
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said the findings indicate the city was inching towards the herd immunity threshold, but cautioned that a resurgence of the coronavirus disease cannot be ruled out.
Close
BMC Health worker and doctor conduct thermal screening and pulse test of a resident at Dharavi during Covid 19 pandemic in Mumbai(Vijayanand Gupta/HT Photo)
BMC Health worker and doctor conduct thermal screening and pulse test of a resident at Dharavi during Covid 19 pandemic in Mumbai(Vijayanand Gupta/HT Photo)

New immunity insights a boost against Covid-19

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 19, 2020 04:00 PM IST
In a study, the researchers tested 15 people who had Covid-19, once between the first 20 days since they had the disease and for a second time around 86 days later, when the researchers found stable levels of B and T memory cells.
Close
HT Image
HT Image
Close
A health worker of Pune district council collects a swab sample from test for Covid-19 infection at Sharad Pawar Bahudheshiya Bhavan, Dhankavadi in Pune on Sunday.(Rahul Raut/HT Photo)
A health worker of Pune district council collects a swab sample from test for Covid-19 infection at Sharad Pawar Bahudheshiya Bhavan, Dhankavadi in Pune on Sunday.(Rahul Raut/HT Photo)

People recovered from Covid-19 protected from virus, finds study

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 17, 2020 03:10 AM IST
The findings are significant since they are the closest confirmation yet that the world’s main strategy of using vaccines to trigger immune response could indeed work to stop the coronavirus pandemic.
Close
A party functionary, who asked not to be named, said the BJP does not subscribe to the views of Singh and has distanced itself from comments that call for violence or are not in line with the party’s stance.(AFP)
A party functionary, who asked not to be named, said the BJP does not subscribe to the views of Singh and has distanced itself from comments that call for violence or are not in line with the party’s stance.(AFP)

Report on Facebook’s leniency to BJP members’ communal posts causes row

By Binayak Dasgupta , Aurangzeb Naqshbandi and Sunetra Choudhury | Hindustan Times, New Delhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 16, 2020 08:31 AM IST
In an article published late on Friday, the Wall Street Journal cited interviews with unnamed Facebook insiders to claim that the company’s senior India policy executive Ankhi Das intervened in internal content review processes to stop a ban on BJP’s Telangana MLA T Raja Singh, who made communally charged posts targeting the Muslim community.
Close
India’s internet journey began with slight trepidation, heaps of excitement, and the collective efforts of a small but a driven group of people.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
India’s internet journey began with slight trepidation, heaps of excitement, and the collective efforts of a small but a driven group of people.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dial-up dreams to Wi-Fi wonderland

By Binayak Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 14, 2020 12:25 AM IST
Today, internet connectivity is at least 4,000 times as fast, and costs a fraction of what it did 25 years ago. It had in 1995 all of 23,500 websites (compared to 1.8 billion now, according to Internet Live States).
Close
SHARE
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • ...
Story Saved