What made the news in health and environment in 2022

The year 2022 has seen key events in two crucial times – health and the environment – ​​dominate front pages and headlines for days.

Wire reporters covering both areas sum up the year and its highlights for readers.


The start of 2022 saw the emergence of the fourth variant of the novel coronavirus, Omicron.

The first emergence saw some spike in cases, but cases started to drop gradually. Many sub-variants of Omicron appeared, mainly BA.2.75 and XBB, but no overloading of hospital infrastructure was observed. However, what shocked public health experts and scientists towards the end of the year was the hype created around BF.7, another Omicron sub-variant.

As the government held a series of meetings with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing one, TV stations dubbed BF.7 as new even though his first case was recorded in June. China was experiencing a massive surge, but the disease dynamics in China are very different from those in India. Despite a steadily declining graph of cases as well as the positivity rate, the amplification of panic has reignited people’s fear of the lockdown and at least one state – Karnataka – has brought back mask mandates. The emergence of panic remains a mystery


The World Health Organization issued a product alert on October 5 against four drugs made by Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited, linking them “potentially” to the deaths of 70 children in The Gambia due to the presence of two toxins – the diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. The Indian government, in its own investigation, cleared the name of the company and said it found no contamination in the samples it tested and accused the WHO of making “premature inferences”, in December.

The Wire, however, looked at a report from a lab in Switzerland where the WHO had sent samples for testing, and reported on December 19 that the four products had a DEG ranging from 1% to 21% – a whopping amount. which could be fatal. On December 20, a parliamentary committee in The Gambia presented its report to parliament on the investigation it had carried out.

He found Maiden Pharma responsible for the deaths and said he was guilty and responsible for the deaths. He demanded legal action against the company, but the Indian government has not responded to either that report or the Swiss lab report leaked by The Wire.

In December, Uzbek authorities announced that 18 children died after consuming a cough syrup made by a Noida-based company whose manufacturing operations have been suspended, according to the Union Health Ministry. However, details of why the CDSCO investigations led to the closure have yet to be revealed.


India rolled out its booster doses, known as precautionary doses, against COVID-19 in January 2022, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement to that effect in his televised address on December 25, 2021. The Minister of the Union had told Parliament, ahead of the announcement, that any decision on recalls would be taken solely on the basis of expert advice.

However, an investigation by The Wire, carried out through a series of right-to-know applications, found that no expert body – including the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) which includes government officials and independent expatriates – had given the go-ahead. The government has declined to share minutes of any meeting where precautionary doses were officially approved.

Worse, the country’s drug regulator responded that it had never approved the doses because no data to that effect had been presented to it.

– Banjot Kaur


On September 17 this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed eight African cheetahs from Namibia to Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, India as part of the Cheetah Project. The program aims to introduce cheetahs to selected grassland habitats in India, areas where the Asiatic cheetah – once native to India but hunted to extinction in the 1950s – was once wild.

However, the Cheetah project has been repeatedly criticized.

Scientists who have studied big cats and grassland habitats have pointed out that the whole exercise may be unable to achieve its goal – to build a viable population of big cats in India or protect their grassland habitats – for several reasons. These include insufficient space (cheetahs have huge home ranges), predation by leopards, and the fact that grasslands, many of which are outside protected areas, continue to be listed as wasteland. India also abstained from voting on reopening trade in ivory for the first time at the CITES Conference of the Parties in November this year, raising doubts over claims by Namibia that it reportedly requested India’s help in overturning the ban on global ivory trade as part of its transfer agreement African cheetahs may indeed be real.

– Aathira Perincerise

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