Tag Archives: vaccine

COVID-19: Scepticism ahead of Africa vaccination campaign.

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African governments need to proactively engage vaccine-hesitant citizens, he said, in a sentiment echoed by other public-health experts.

Conspiracy theories, mistrust and patchy communication have contributed to a flourishing of scepticism about Covid-19 vaccines in African countries, experts say, posing potential dangers to future immunisation campaigns.

Anti-vaccine sentiment, often fed by rumours spread on social media, is already thriving in the West.

But a similar dynamic is at play across Africa, according to public health experts on the continent, with people warier of Covid-19 jabs than they would be of other vaccines.

“There’s a high level of scepticism,” said Ayoade Alakija, the chief Africa strategist for Convince, a campaign to encourage confidence in Covid-19 vaccines.

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Explanations for the wariness vary, she explained, noting that suspicion of government elites and vaccine misinformation play a role.

One prevalent conspiracy theory, for example, holds that the Covid-19 vaccines are designed to quell Africa’s population growth.

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Skepticism extends to the tops of some governments too. In late January, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli dismissed Covid jabs as “dangerous for our health”.

Andry Rajoelina, the president of the island state of Madagascar, has also touted an untested herbal remedy for Covid-19.

Many African countries are currently battling a surge in coronavirus cases, but few have seen outbreaks as large as in the West, which some argue has led to a decreased sense of urgency.

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Most African countries are also months away — at best — from beginning vaccinations, with wealthier countries hoovering up supplies in the global vaccine race.

Misinformation
Moise Shitu, a 28-year-old who works as a driver in Nigeria’s capital Lagos, told AFP he would refuse a vaccine.

“Our government is into fraud,” he said. “They are saying there is coronavirus in Nigeria to make money”.

Health workers hope governments can combat vaccine misinformation, but people in many African countries won’t take their rulers’ word for it JOHN WESSELS AFP/File

In the northern Nigerian city of Kano, 41-year-old Zainab Abdullahi also said she’d refuse a jab.

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“We are seeing reports of serious side-effects from people who took the shot in the West and they still want to bring the vaccine to us,” she said.

The picture isn’t uniform. Waiters interviewed by AFP in a cafe in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa were keen to receive a vaccine because of their risk of contracting the virus, for example.

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Although hesitancy about new vaccines is common, Mamadou Traore, a vaccination advisor for Medecins Sans Frontieres, said the phenomenon has grown “much worse”.

“People told themselves this isn’t an illness that affects black people,” he said. “It is governments’ job to dispute all this misinformation”.

‘Spread like wildfire’
There are few reliable studies on Covid-19 vaccine attitudes in Africa, but preliminary surveys suggest that large groups of people are wary.

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In December, the Africa Centres for Disease Control released the results of an 18-country survey showing that only a quarter of respondents thought Covid-19 vaccines would be safe.

Still, the study found few vaccine denialists: about 79 percent said they would take a “safe” shot.

Richard Mihigo, the World Health Organization’s vaccination coordinator in Africa, pointed out that the continent has historically seen high levels of vaccine acceptance — which he said bodes well for future Covid-19 campaigns.

But rumours linked to the Covid-19 vaccine have also “spread like wildfire” online, he said, and are a “real issue”.

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In a television interview in April, for example, two French scientists suggested that companies trial vaccines in Africa first — igniting a racism row and feeding longstanding fears about medical exploitation.

“People said: ‘Yeah you see, now we can confirm that Africans are guinea pigs,’” Mihigo said, noting that the affair did “a lot of damage”.

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Ousseynou Badiane, the head of Senegal’s vaccination programme, said that alongside access to vaccines, “fake news” posed one of the largest challenges to his country’s future campaign.

Much of the misinformation shared in Senegal originates in France, he added, which is the West African state’s former colonial ruler and one of the world’s most vaccine-hesitant countries.

Low trust
Cheikh Ibrahima Niang, a Senegalese professor of medical anthropology, said that the brutal legacy of the slave trade, plus a history of heavy-handed governments, may explain vaccine hesitancy.

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Scandals such as the deaths of 11 Nigerian children in 1996, after they were administered an experimental meningitis vaccine by Pfizer, have not been forgotten either, he told AFP.

African governments need to proactively engage vaccine-hesitant citizens, he said, in a sentiment echoed by other public-health experts.

Some are already doing so: Last week, Ethiopia launched a vaccine information campaign to allay concerns.

Some national leaders, such as Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, have also broadcast recordings of themselves receiving jabs.

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Ayoade Alakija, the vaccine-confidence campaigner, warned of particular difficulties in tackling misconceptions in countries where trust in government is low.

“There hasn’t been enough information,” she said.

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#Newsworthy

COVID-19: Russia aims to produce millions of vaccine doses by 2021.

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Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.

The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one trialled by the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development and is about to pass state registration, officials said.

“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” Industry Minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by state news agency TASS.

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“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.

The head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which finances the trials, said he expects official registration of the vaccine to be complete “within ten days.”

“If this happens in the next ten days, we will be ahead not just of the United States but other countries too, it will be the first registered coronavirus vaccine,” RDIF chief Kirill Dmitriev said in televised remarks.

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Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on Saturday.

Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding the needed immune response into cells.

Gamaleya’s vaccine is based on the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.

– ‘Who will buy it?’ –
The state-run Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and its director injected themselves with the prototype several months ago, with specialists criticising the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.

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Vitaly Zverev, laboratory chief at the Mechnikov Research Institute of Vaccines and Sera, said it was too early to register a vaccine.

“I believe a vaccine that is not properly checked must not be registered, no matter in what country,” he said.

“It is impossible to ensure the vaccine’s safety in the time that has passed since the beginning of this pandemic,” he told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

“You can make anything, but who is going to buy it?”

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Zverev added that the three firms named as future producers of Russia’s vaccines are well-known pharmaceutical firms that do not normally make vaccines, let alone high-tech ones using DNA technology.

“No adenovirus-based vaccine has been proven effective before,” he said. “How are they going to grow it? Nobody explains this.”

Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.

At more than 850,000 infections, Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: EU reserves 300mn doses of potential vaccine

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The EU announced Friday that it had struck a deal with French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi for 300 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm which negotiated the agreement, said it would allow all 27 member countries to purchase the vaccine once it was proven to be safe and effective.

The announcement comes on the same day the US government said it would provide up to $2.1 billion to Sanofi and GSK for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, as the world continues to battle the pandemic.

As official data revealed coronavirus lockdowns had caused a devastating 12 percent economic contraction in the EU in the second quarter of 2020, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc was doing everything it could to help find a vaccine.

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“We are in advanced discussions with several other companies,” she said in a statement, adding that Europe was investing in a “diversified portfolio of promising vaccines”.

“This increases our chances to obtain rapidly an effective remedy against the virus.”

Sanofi hopes to seek marketing authorisation from the European Medicines Agency for a vaccine in June next year.

The French government welcomed Friday’s announcement as a “decisive step”.

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“This future contract will allow each EU member state to order the vaccine under good conditions once it has shown enough proof of its effectiveness and safety,” the French government said in a statement.

Six months after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 17 million people, with global daily cases now approaching the 300,000 mark.

Europe overall has nearly 210,000 deaths from 3.2 million cases, and with infections rising again in several countries there are fears a “second wave” of the pandemic could be on the way.

The highly restrictive lockdowns enforced to deal with the pandemic earlier this year has caused economic turmoil and an effective vaccine may be the only long-term solution to the highly contagious respiratory disease.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Pentagon awards Glaxo $342m contract for vaccines

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The Pentagon on Thursday announced a $342 million contract has been awarded to British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline to deliver “mass quantities of COVID-19 vaccines” to US troops.

It said GSK was the only company to make a bid for the contract, which will consist of supporting “military locations and personnel throughout the continental US and outside the continental US.”

The work will be carried out in North Carolina “with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2021,” the Pentagon said.

In this file photo taken on July 10, 2020 A photo shows vaccines in prefilled, single-use syringes before the inspection and packaging phase at the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s world distribution centre in Val de Reuil, France.  JOEL SAGET / AFP

The US Army will supervise execution of the project.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Doctors in Brazil volunteers to test vaccines

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In Brazil, health care workers are on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic in more ways than one, treating patients but also volunteering to test some of the most promising experimental vaccines.

Brazil is the country with the second-highest number of infections and deaths in the pandemic, after the United States, and the virus is still spreading quickly here.

That is bad news in every way but one: it makes the South American country an ideal testing ground for potential vaccines against the virus.

The job of guinea pig falls to medical staff who work in facilities treating patients infected by the virus, because they are the most likely to come into contact with it, enabling researchers to run a controlled experiment to see how well it works.

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“I want to contribute, and this is my contribution — through science,” said pediatrician Monica Levi, one of 5,000 volunteers in Brazil helping test one of the most promising vaccines so far, developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

Levi, 53, works at the Specialized Clinic for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases and Immunizations (Cedipi) in Sao Paulo, the epicenter of the outbreak in Brazil, where more than 2.5 million people have been infected so far, with more than 90,000 deaths.

In this file photo taken on July 10, 2020 A photo shows vaccines in prefilled, single-use syringes before the inspection and packaging phase at the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s world distribution centre in Val de Reuil, France. JOEL SAGET / AFP

“Vaccination is my cause. So I have to act on my beliefs,” she told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media).

Last week, Brazil also became the first country carrying out Phase 3 trials of Chinese vaccine CoronaVac, developed by pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech.

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Phase 3 clinical trials involve large-scale testing on humans, the last step before vaccines seek regulatory approval.

Medical workers play the starring role in testing that vaccine, too.

“They pick health care professionals because we are constantly at risk,” Levi said.

A patient affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus is treated at a field hospital set up at a sports gym, in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo state, Brazil, on May 11, 2020. Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP.

Volunteers must be between 18 and 55 years old, work in a patient care role and have no underlying medical conditions.

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Half the volunteers in the Oxford trial are receiving the vaccine and the other half a placebo.

A researcher works at the special techniques laboratory where a genetic test was developed to diagnose the new coronavirus, COVID-19, at Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 28, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP
But they will only know which a year from now.

Levi got her shot on July 21, and had a headache and chills the first day, she said.

“But I don’t even know if they gave me the vaccine or the placebo,” she added.

While she waits to find out — and to learn whether the vaccine is the exit from the pandemic that the whole world is hoping for — she goes to regular check-ups where researchers monitor her health.

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Scientists worldwide are racing to develop and test a vaccine for the virus. There are more than 150 projects so far.

But there are no guarantees in the high-stakes race.

Brazil has a deal to make up to 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine if it proves effective.

But if it doesn’t, said Levi, “it will all go in the garbage.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Vaccine studies offer Hope

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Two studies offered new hope of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus on Monday, as the World Health Organization warned about a possible acceleration of the disease in Africa.

Seven months after COVID-19 was first identified in China and has since killed more than 600,000 people worldwide and battered economies, there is growing alarm over fresh outbreaks of the disease.

Until recently, Africa had remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic compared to other parts of the world.

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But the situation has become increasingly worrying, particularly in South Africa, where the death toll passed 5,000 mark and the number of infections reached 350,000 at the weekend.

The WHO’s emergencies chief Michael Ryan told a virtual news conference in Geneva that the situation in South Africa could be seen as “a warning” for what the rest of the continent might have in store.

“I am very concerned right now that we are beginning to see an acceleration of disease in Africa,” he said.

‘Promising option’
Meanwhile, as European leaders in Brussels struggled to salvage a 750-billion-euro (860 billion dollar) coronavirus aid package for the EU, two studies published in The Lancet medical journal appeared to show progress towards a vaccine.

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One trial among more than 1,000 adults in Britain found that a vaccine induced “strong antibody and T cell immune responses” against the coronavirus.

A separate trial in China involving more than 500 people showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response.

“If our vaccine is effective it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale,” said co-author Sarah Gilbert from the University of Oxford.

British biotech firm Synairgen also said on Monday a randomised trial of an aerosol-based treatment shows it could drastically reduce the number of new coronavirus patients dying of the disease or requiring intensive care.

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Europe has been the worst-hit continent by the pandemic with more than 200,000 deaths, but European Union leaders remain bitterly split on how to help member countries like Italy and Spain, which have suffered the highest death tolls.

On a fourth day of a summit marked by furious rows between the 27 countries, EU Council chief Charles Michel said Monday he believed a deal was in reach.

“I know that the last steps are always the most difficult, but I’m confident,” Michel told reporters.

Trump U-turn on masks
In the United States, President Donald Trump, who for months refused to encourage mask wearing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus, tweeted a picture of himself with his face covered and touted his patriotism.

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“We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance,” Trump wrote.

“There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!”

With close to 3.8 million cases and more than 140,000 deaths, US authorities are struggling to contain the surge, and Trump has been criticised for his response to the crisis.

The United States – the worst-hit country in the world — has recorded 60,000 new cases a day for more than a week.

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Brazil, the country with the second highest death toll, on Monday reached the grim milestone of 80,000 deaths.

New restrictions
Many countries in Europe had largely brought their outbreaks under control and were considering further easing of restrictions before fresh clusters were detected.

Governments are struggling to balance public health concerns against the need to open up economies crippled by months of virus lockdowns.

France has made face masks compulsory in public indoor spaces, Spain asked millions to stay at home again, while the German state of Bavaria said it would soon offer free virus tests at airports.

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Spain’s Catalan regional government has urged residents of Barcelona and its suburbs to leave their homes only for essential tasks in a bid to slow a new outbreak.

On Monday, Spain’s southeast Murcia region also closed bars and clubs without terraces, limited group gatherings and restricted visits to retirement homes.

French authorities have reported 400 to 500 active outbreak clusters but there are no signs of an imminent “second wave,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said Monday.

But an anti-mask demonstration in London on Sunday highlighted the challenge still facing governments and health experts, despite the mounting COVID-19 toll.

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Dozens gathered to protest the face mask requirement in England’s shops and supermarkets, many of them holding banners with widely discredited conspiracy theories — such as coronavirus prevention measures being used for “mind control”.

Despite the vocal and stubborn opposition to lockdowns and face masks in some parts of the world, they remain among the few options for authorities to control new outbreaks in the absence of a vaccine.

There was grim evidence of how quickly the virus can spread over the weekend, with Iran’s president saying an estimated 25 million people in the country have already been infected.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: 2 vaccines safe for Human use

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Two COVID-19 vaccine candidates have proven safe for humans and produced strong immune reactions among patients involved in two separate clinical trials, doctors said Monday.

The first trial among more than a thousand adults in Britain found that the vaccine induced “strong antibody and T cell immune responses” against the novel coronavirus.

A separate trial in China involving more than 500 people showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response.

The studies, published in The Lancet medical journal, constitute a major step on the road towards a COVID-19 vaccine that is effective and safe for widespread use.

File photo: A man sits next to beds at a newly built hospital to treat Covid-19 coronavirus patients at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse, in Mumbai on July 7, 2020. (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)

The authors of the studies said they encountered few adverse side effects from the vaccine candidates.

They did, however, caution that more research was needed, particularly among older adults, who are disproportionately at risk of dying of COVID-19.

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Co-author Sarah Gilbert from the University of Oxford said the results “hold promise”.

“If our vaccine is effective, it is a promising option as these types of vaccine can be manufactured at large scale.”

– Dozens of candidates –
The pandemic has seen an unprecedented mobilisation of funding and research to rush through a vaccine that can protect billions of people worldwide.

More than 20 candidate vaccines are currently being tested on humans.

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Both studies were phase-2 trials, which test whether the vaccine provokes an immune response and can be well tolerated by patients.

For its trial, the team at Oxford used a genetically modified strain of the common cold virus that infects chimpanzees.

They manipulated the virus to train cells to recognise the viral spike protein, which helps teach the immune system to recognise COVID-19.

This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer taking samples of monkey kidney cells as he make tests on an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus inside the Cells Culture Room laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)

As well as developing antibodies in their blood, patients given the vaccine were found to have developed a robust T cell response — helping their body identify and neutralise the virus.

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“The immune system has two ways of finding and attacking pathogens — antibody and T cell responses,” said Andrew Pollard, a member of the Oxford team.

“This vaccine is intended to induce both, so it can attack the virus when it’s circulating in the body, as well as attacking infected cells.”

The Oxford team found that among the 500 or so patients given a single dose of the vaccine — developed jointly with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca — their immune response peaked around 14 days and decreased slightly by day 56, the end of the study period.

The other 500 patients were instead given a meningitis vaccine as a placebo.

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– Phase-3 next –

The second trial, led by China’s Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, used a weakened human cold virus modified to deliver genetic material that teaches cells to recognise the novel coronavirus.

Two groups of patients were given either a high or low dose of the vaccine.

More than 90 percent of people in both groups showed either antibody or T cell immune responses between 14-28 days post vaccine.

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Side effects in both trials were moderate but authors of the Chinese study said they needed to test the vaccine safety on older patients.

“Elderly people… are an important target population for a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Wei Chen, from the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology.

File photo: Medical staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) treats a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit of Lviv emergency hospital on June 30, 2020. (Photo by Genya SAVILOV / AFP)

“It is possible that an additional dose may be needed in order to induce a stronger immune response in the elderly population.”

Both studies found severe side effects from the vaccine to be rare.

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Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, said that while the two vaccines were encouraging, he cautioned there was “a long way to go”.

“It is unclear whether the levels of immunity can protect against infection — that’s what the larger ongoing phase-3 trials are designed to test,” said Ball.

“Nor do we know if this vaccine can protect those most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease.”


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: South Africa set to begin first vaccine pilot

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South Africa rolls out the continent’s first coronavirus vaccine trial this week, the university leading the pilot said Tuesday, as the country grapples with the highest number of cases in Africa.

The vaccine, developed by the Oxford Jenner Institute, is already being evaluated in the United Kingdom, where 4,000 participants have signed up for the trial.

South Africa has set out to vaccinate 2,000 people with the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Fifty of the candidates have HIV.

“We began screening participants for the South African Oxford 1 Covid-19 vaccine trial last week, and the first participants will be vaccinated this week,” said University of Witwatersrand (Wits) vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi at a virtual press conference.

Brazil is planning its own pilot, while the United States is preparing to test another vaccine in a mass trial of up to 30,000 participants.
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Wits is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute on the South African trial.

South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped to over 100,000 on Monday, while the number of deaths inched towards 2,000.

Officials implemented a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27, just weeks after the virus first hit South Africa.

But confinement measures are being gradually phased out to allow business to pick up and limit damage to an already ailing economy.

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“As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by COVID-19,” Madhi said, describing the vaccine trial as a “landmark moment”.

South African health officials have also placed high hopes on dexamethasone, a generic anti-inflammatory drug found to reduce mortality among ventilated patients.

“This is one of those medicines where we do have excellent local capacity,” said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in a statement last week.

South African pharmaceutical giant Aspen Pharmacare has said it was ready to scale up production of the steroid.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Rise in ‘Universal’ stock on Economic rebound.


Further easing of coronavirus lockdowns pushed global equities higher on Tuesday, with optimism stoked by the reopening of bars, cafes, pools and beaches outweighing China-US tensions that have hurt the dollar.

While countries including Brazil, Chile and Russia are enduring rising death tolls and infection rates from COVID-19, an increasing number of governments are seeing figures tail off.

“Once again, the markets embraced an optimistic outlook… setting aside fears over the long-term economic impact of the pandemic and the ever-growing tensions between the US and China to focus on another round of global easing measures,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at trading group Spreadex.

Adding to the broadly positive outlook was optimism about progress on a possible vaccine, which would allow the shattered global economy to start bouncing back.

But Chris Iggo at AXA Investment Managers warned, “That does not mean we should ignore the risk of second waves, prolonged weak growth and geopolitical issues.”

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Wall Street, where the New York Stock Exchange trading floor reopened after two months of closure, finished higher, with the Dow gaining 2.2 percent to 24,995.11.

“US stock markets are gearing up for a strong start to the week as further lockdown easing and some more promising vaccine news lifted sentiment after the bank holiday weekend,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe.

Key European markets were all one percent or more higher at the closing bell, with London playing catch-up after a strong eurozone performance on Monday, though its gains were capped by a rising pound.

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Earlier, Asian markets had closed higher, with Tokyo rising more than two percent, and Hong Kong up 1.9 percent as city leader Carrie Lam sought to reassure investors.

She said fears that Hong Kong’s business-friendly freedoms were at risk from a planned Chinese national security law were “totally groundless”.

But OANDA’s Erlam warned that whatever good news may be looming on the COVID-19 front stood to be undermined by worsening relations between Washington and Beijing, which he said “will be a constant headwind for stock markets”.

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US President Donald Trump warned that Hong Kong could lose its status as a global financial center if the proposed Chinese crackdown goes ahead.

Critics fear the law could be a death blow to the city’s treasured liberties, which are crucial to making it an international financial center on a par with New York and London.

Oil prices pushed on with their recovery, having suffered a spectacularly bad April when WTI crashed below zero.

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The reopening of economies and a massive cut in output by some of the world’s top producers has helped the US benchmark WTI virtually double in value this month.

– Key figures at around 2040 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 2.2 percent at 24,995.11 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 1.2 percent at 2,991.77 (close)

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New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.2 percent at 9,340.22 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 1.2 percent at 6,067.76 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.0 percent at 11,504.65 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.5 percent at 4,606.24 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 2,999.22 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.6 percent at 21,271.17 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.9 percent at 23,384.66 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 2,846.55 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: UP 3.3 percent at $34.35 per barrel

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Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.8 percent at $36.17 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0984 from $1.0898 at 2100 GMT Friday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.54 yen from 107.71 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2335 from $1.2191

Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.04 pence from 89.39 pence.


#Newsworthy…

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Oyedepo makes declaration on COVID-19 vaccine


Pastor of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo has kicked against the bill before the House of Representatives which has been a source of controversies over its proposition on COVID-19 vaccine.

Oyedepo who spoke during a live broadcast stated that the people behind it are working on an evi which will sweep himanity.

He also questioned why rights of people who refuse to take the COVID-19 vaccine will be stripped.

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He said, “You must take a vaccine! Why will you force me to take a vaccine? For what?

“You don’t take vaccines, you don’t go outside the country! How? Where is it coming from?

“Evil scheming of evil men, gang up of agents of the devil, trying to bring a flood of evil upon humanity. And now from the vaccine: autism; from the vaccine: higher mortality rate of deaths.”

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On his recent cry against the closure of churches, Oyedepo stated that he did it for the kingdom of God.

“It’s over!! Whatever troubles God’s agenda will be troubled. The most valuable asset to God is the human life.

“If you see me screaming and crying: it’s for the Kingdom, absolutely so. You mean you keep God’s people, block their access to spiritual food for 4 weeks, 5 weeks, 6 weeks, 7 weeks and you are going to the market, buying and eating with 10 fingers. You kept students from school.

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“This is an imported virus, how has it become our own? Why must we now have it?

“There is something going on here! Something evil is being schemed by some individuals and those who are perpetrating it don’t even know,” he further stated.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Sanofi to make vaccine for all.


French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi plans to make any vaccine it develops against the novel coronavirus available to all.

“The vaccine against COVID-19 will be made available to the public at large, regardless of nationality,” the company’s director general Paul Hudson said, according to a tweet from Sanofi France on Wednesday evening.

The message came after Hudson, in an interview with Bloomberg, said the U.S. would have priority because they were the first in line to fund the company’s research.

“The US government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk,” Hudson told Bloomberg.

In April, Sanofi and the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline both said they wanted to work together on a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

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If tests are successful, a vaccine could be available in the second half of 2021.

Sanofi said in its Wednesday tweet that its teams are making efforts to accelerate the development of a vaccine.


#Newsworthy…

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China trying to steal vaccines test – US declares.


US authorities warned Wednesday that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal coronavirus data on treatments and vaccines, adding fuel to Washington’s war with Beijing over the pandemic.

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said organizations researching COVID-19 were at risk of “targeting and network compromise” by China.

They warned that Chinese government-affiliated groups and others were attempting to obtain “valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing.”

“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” they said.

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The two organizations gave no examples to support the allegation.

But the warning added to the battle between the superpowers over the outbreak that began in China and has killed at least 293,000 worldwide, and more than 83,000 in the United States.

President Donald Trump has accused China of hiding the origins of the virus and not cooperating in efforts to research and fight the disease.

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Asked on Monday about reports that the US believed Chinese hackers were targeting US vaccine research, Trump replied: “What else is new with China?… I’m not happy.”


Spies, academics targeted


The warning Wednesday also underscored that Washington believes China has continued broad efforts to obtain US commercial and technology secrets under President Xi Jinping’s drive to make his country a technological leader.

In February the US Justice Department indicted four Chinese army personnel suspected of hacking the database of credit rating agency Equifax, giving them the personal data of 145 million Americans.

On Monday the Department of Justice announced the arrest of University of Arkansas engineering professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang for hiding ties to the Chinese government and Chinese universities while he worked on projects funded by NASA.

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The indictment said Ang was secretly part of the Xi-backed Thousand Talents program, which Washington says China uses to collect research from abroad.

Also on Monday Li Xiaojiang, a former professor at Emory University in Atlanta, admitted tax fraud in a case focused on his hidden earnings from China, also as a participant in the Thousand Talents program.

Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said such cases combined with the coronavirus are forcing China to change its tactics.

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“Beijing has shifted its recruitment efforts for the Thousand Talents Program online, and it has increased efforts to hack US medical research institutes for COVID-19 information,” he said.


Race for a vaccine


Beijing has repeatedly denied the US accusations.

The FBI warning comes as dozens of companies, institutes and countries around the world are racing to develop vaccines to halt the coronavirus.

Many more groups are researching treatments for infected patients. Currently there is no proven therapy.

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An effective vaccine could allow countries to reopen and potentially earn billions of dollars for its creators.

Most expert believe it will take more than a year to get a vaccine fully approved, and much longer to produce enough of it.

Government-backed cyber operators in Iran, North Korea, Russia and China have been accused of pumping out false coronavirus news and targeting workers and scientists.

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Britain said last week it had detected large-scale “password spraying” tactics — hackers trying to access accounts through commonly used passwords — aimed at healthcare bodies and medical research organizations.

Sanctions, compensation
Increasingly US officials are discussing punishing China and seeking compensation for the costs of the pandemic.

In April the US state of Missouri sued China’s leadership over what it described as deliberate deception and insufficient action to stop the virus.

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On Tuesday Republican senators proposed legislation that would empower Trump to slap sanctions on China if Beijing does not give a “full accounting” for the coronavirus outbreak.

“Their outright deception of the origin and spread of the virus cost the world valuable time and lives as it began to spread,” Senator Jim Inhofe said in a statement.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Without Vaccine, Donald Trump Reveals What Will Happen Globally.

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US President, Donald Trump has said the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic is going to “end without a vaccine.”

Trump told the press during his daily briefing at the White House at the weekend, “This is going to go away without a vaccine, it’s gonna go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”

He added, “You may have some flare-ups, and I guess I would expect that.”

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As at Friday, the deadly virus had infected at least 1.2 million people in the US killing more than 76,000.

The leading expert on infectious diseases on the US COVID-19 task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, had repeatedly said a vaccine is still at least a year to 18 months from being produced.

Meanwhile, President Trump insists he relies on what doctors tell him, adding that doctors believe COVID-19 will go away but did not say if it was going to be this year.

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“It doesn’t mean, frankly, it’s going to be gone before the fall or after the fall, but eventually it’s going to go away.

The question is whether we will need a vaccine. At some point, it will probably go away by itself.”


#Newswworthy…

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Infectious diseases bill: Nigerian Lawmaker collects bribe from COVID-19 vaccine producers – CNPP

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The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has accused the leadership of the Nigerian House of Representatives of collecting bride from foreign producers of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.

The political group lashed out at the lawmakers, accusing them of working to impose a forced vaccination law on the country.

The CNPP warned that “it’s about time for the National Assembly got a dose of the Nigerian people’s wrath.”

The political organisation, in a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, and made available to NobleReporters on Tuesday, also accused the lawmakers of hiding under the lockdown measures to engage in impunity.

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CNPP, an umbrella body of all registered political parties and associations in THE country further accused legislators of taking bribe from vaccine producers.

“We have watched with uttermost dismay the speed with which the lawmakers are working on a bill to use Nigerians as guinea pigs for the forced testing of Coronavirus disease vaccines and endanger the lives of over 200 million citizens.

“If the lawmakers want to truly justify the bribe they have taken from foreign producers of COVID-19 vaccines, they should make a law that will provide for compulsory vaccination of all the legislators in the country as a way of proving their patriotism to the Nigerian federation. Let them volunteer to be the guinea pigs,” CNPP said.

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The CNPP said it was more shocking that the Nigerian lawmakers have not made any move to put in place a law to force electricity distribution companies in the country to compulsorily install prepaid meters in households across the country but can force citizens to be vaccinated.

“We recall that Bill for the unbundling of the NNPC, the cash cow of the nation and Bill to end gas flaring in the country are there laying fallow in the achieves of history, yet, because of insatiable appetite for wealth propelled by uncommon greed for mundane things of life, the lawmakers want to turn Nigerian citizens into testing animals for vaccines producers now and in the future,” the political parities’ group added.

It wondered why the lawmakers are opting to work against the interest of Nigerians who voted them into power and chosen to fulfill the desires of those who cultured and infected the world with Coronavirus disease for economic gains

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The group wondered if the lawmakers do not, according to them, know that COVID-19 virus ravaging the world is not natural

“Why not a Bill for an Act to compel Federal Government of Nigeria to fund research for local production of infectious disease drugs and vaccines? Are we lacking experts in any field as a country?” It queried

CNPP noted that some Nigerian scientists have claimed to have developed vaccines for COVID-19 treatment and other infectious diseases, but the lawmakers have refused to make inputs towards ensuring that every Nigerian with a claim to a cure of any infectious disease gets his or her claims verified by relevant authorities and certified rather than selling the country wholesale to the western nation and their multi-million dollar corporations.

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“They won’t because such local inventors cannot afford millions of US dollars with which to grease the filthy palms of most lawmakers.

“The Republic of Madagascar recently dared the World Health Organization (WHO) and their collaborators by developing locally made COVID Organics (CVO) for cure of Coronavirus. Right now, the use is expanding to other countries after Madagascar had only 149 cases of COVID-19 with zero death record,” CNPP said.

“In addition to the COVID Organics (CVO), already being marketed in the form of herbal tea in Madagascar, a new injectable solution of the same product is under clinical trials in the lying off the country southeastern coast of Africa with a population of just 27 million people.

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“It then beats the imagination of any sane person that the Nigerian legislators will be this greedy for material acquisition, even at the expense of the Nigerian people who elected them.

“All Nigerians, the media, and all civil society organisations with good conscience should immediately stand up against this evil legislation in the works because everyone will become their guinea pigs and a tool for testing vaccines for deadly all ailments, now and forever if the bill is passed.

“May be Nigerians have forgotten so soon how a secret trial of a pharmaceutical drug in Northern Nigeria killed several children. The company involved, Pfizer, was sued after 11 children died in the clinical trial when the northern state of Kano was hit by meningitis epidemic in 1996. But Pfizer only paid compensation after 15-year legal battle for illegal clinical trials.

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“The intolerable Bill for an Act by the Nigerian legislators to make such killing of citizens a legal act must be resisted now or we will all die in like manner someday soon”, the CNPP warned.

Recall that the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, had on Monday made a similar claim.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19 Bill: Lawmakers desperate to force vaccine on Nigerians – CSOs

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Over forty Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria, on Tuesday, alerted that the House of Representatives was acting too fast in its bid to pass the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill.

The bill to make vaccines compulsory was co-sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, Reps Pascal Obi and Tanko Sununu.

The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) already alleged that the Green Chamber of the National Assembly had been offered money to pass the bill despite no input from stakeholders.

The bill passed first and second reading at plenary under controversial circumstances.

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The CSOs, in a joint statement by Centre for Democracy and Development, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Say No Campaign, Amnesty International, Yiaga Africa, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, International Press Centre, among others, said the bill almost passed third reading in April before it was resisted by some vigilant members.

The civil society community opined that the legislative and policy measures currently being implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are inadequate to respond to and manage the challenge of infectious diseases with grave implications on the country.

The coalition lamented the House of Representatives’ attempt to give accelerated passage to such a critical legislation like the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill without consultation and inputs from relevant stakeholders and the public.

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“We understand that the House is resolute to pass the bill and it has fixed Tuesday, May 5, 2020 for presentation of the report of the Committee of the Whole and clause by clause voting on the bill without public hearing or consultation with relevant stakeholders. This runs contrary to the principles of effective and inclusive lawmaking.

“The Bill violates key principles of legislative drafting rules mandating laws to be simple, clear and unambiguous. This leaves room for significant amount of discretion on the part of the implementing authorities and limits the rights of citizens and respective institutions to question decisions taken in the exercise of the powers provided in the Bill.

“There is therefore the need to clearly define terms used, extent of powers granted, and penalties for breach. For instance, the proposed Bill makes an attempt to define ‘surveillance’ in its interpretation section but fails to provide a clear definition on the reach and extent of the power to demand public health surveillance program and regulating framework.

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“Throughout, the Bill is referred to as an “Act” implying that the proposed document is already an enacted legislation (Act). In addition, the Bill does not define who constitutes a health worker, which, as defined in the Bill, as anyone appointed by the Director General. In addition, we have concerns with Clause 74(1) and (2), which deals with the collection of fees, charges and moneys, and some payments to be made to the Consolidated Fund or the agency,” they said.

They demanded that the House of Representatives subject the bill to public scrutiny by embarking on stakeholder consultations and a public hearing to harness public inputs into the legislation.

The coalition asked the the House to utilize the opportunity provided by the reviewed lockdown policy to consult with relevant stakeholders and the people.

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They called for review of all provisions of the bill that foster inter-agency conflicts and abuse of power and undermine constitutionally guaranteed rights and are contrary to the rule of law and Nigeria’s International human rights obligations.

“It is important to note that while we understand the importance of a legislative framework that guarantee effective response to public health crises, we must do so within the rule of law and in conformity with the Constitution and Nigeria’s International human rights obligations. democratic principles”, the CSOs added.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Share Vaccine Worldwide – Pope Francis demand.

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Pope Francis has called for international scientific cooperation so that every country of the world will take share in coronavirus vaccine when it’s ready.

The Pope who was speaking from the papal library at the Vatican while delivering his Sunday service address today, said any successful vaccine developed should be made available around the world to benefit all of humanity.

Pope Francis also thanked all those around the world, providing essential services.

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“In fact, it is important to unite scientific capabilities, in a transparent and impartial way to find vaccines and treatments,” he said.

”It is also important to guarantee universal access to essential technologies that allow each infected person, in every part of the world, to receive the necessary medical treatment.”


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: WHO to commence Human Vaccine trials in Nigeria.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Nigeria has expressed interest to be part of the global solidarity trial of the vaccines being developed to tackle COVID-19 pandemic and efforts are underway to start the process in the country.

The Officer in charge, WHO Nigeria and member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr. Fiona Braka, said this on Friday in Abuja, at the 24th joint national briefing of the committee.

She also said that 89 vaccines are being developed globally, including seven in clinical evaluation and several therapeutics in clinical trials to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said, “Nigeria has also expressed interest to be part of this solidarity trial and efforts are underway to start the process in Nigeria too.”

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According to her, on the subject of vaccines and clinical trials for Covid-19, research and development is an important aspect of the response and researchers around the world are working hard on accelerating the development of vaccines and therapeutics for Covid-19.

She said the WHO has launched various working groups to accelerate various aspects of vaccine development.

“Together with global health actors and partners, over the past week, WHO launched the Access to Covid-19 Tools ACT Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate development for equitable access to new Covid-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

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“We have a total of 89 vaccines that are in development globally, including seven in clinical evaluation and several therapeutics are in clinical trials. WHO is committed to ensuring that as medicines and vaccines are developed, they are shared equitably with all countries and people.

“We do have the solidarity trial which is an international clinical trial to help find an effective treatment for Covid-19, launched by the WHO and partners. More than 100 countries have joined the solidarity trial and to date, over 1,200 patients have been randomized from the first five countries to evaluate the safety and efficacy full drug and drug combinations,” Braka said.


#Newsworthy…

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COVID-19: Australia set to try Chinese vaccine on Human, Trump glad at Italy’s recoveries.

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>>> COVID-19: Australia set to try Chinese vaccine on humans <<<


An Australian research and clinical facility is preparing to lunch human trial of COVID-19 vaccine developed by China, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.

According to the state-run agency Xinhua, Linear Clinical Research, Perth-based clinical research company, has began to recruit healthy adults for the trial within next two months.

S-Trimer vaccine, developed by China-based global biotechnology company Clover Biopharmaceuticals, is among the first COVID-19 vaccines under development.

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Linear also announced the vaccine trial on their website and called on the interested people to register with the company.

“If you’re healthy and located in Perth, WA, register your interest to participate in our upcoming COVID-19 vaccine study,” the company said.

Protein-based S-Trimer vaccine aims to help the body to produce anti-bodies to fight the virus, according to Xinhua. NobleReporters learnt

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“This is one of the most prominent trials globally and involves some of the most renowned vaccine companies,” the agency quoted Jayden Rogers, chief executive of Linear, as saying.

S-Trimer vaccine on trial showed great potential and was at the forefront of the global battle with COVID-19, Rogers added.

On April 14, Chinese authorities approved human testing of two other coronavirus vaccines developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products under the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and Sinovac Research and Development Co., Ltd, a company based in Beijing.

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Sinopharm has produced over 50,000 doses for the initial clinical trials. After production is normalized, the output could reach 3 million doses per batch with an annual output at 100 million doses, according to the Global Times, a Chinese state-run new outlet.

The Chinese pharmaceutical group last week also extended offer for clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan, however Islamabad said they asked the company for more information.

US President, Donald Trump Glad As Italy Residents Recovers From COVID-19

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>>> COVID-19: Italy is recovering, Trump’s happy <<<


United States President Donald Trump said Monday he was “happy that Italy is recovering” from the coronavirus crisis.

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Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Trump also recalled that Premier Giuseppe Conte was a “friend”.

Italy will gradually start coming out of lockdown starting May 4 after the virus contagion curve has started dipping along with the daily toll of victims.


#Newsworthy. .

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COVID-19 vaccine might come earlier than we expect – Bill Gate.


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Billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist, Bill Gates, who had warned about a possible virus pandemic since 2015, says a vaccine for the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic may come between 18-24 months.

Appearing on NBC Today Show on Friday, Gates said that there is evidence that this timeline may come to pass, though a vaccine takes over five years to develop.

“The best scientists [are] working hard on this,” Gates said.

“In fact, in the last few weeks, I’ve seen signs that we may get to the optimistic side of that time projection” for a vaccine.

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The Microsoft founder called the coronavirus crisis “a nightmare,” saying that “the human-to-human respiratory spread is the scariest scenario.”

“I wish it had come, you know, five or 10 years later, then governments might have done the preparation to move quickly as a few governments did,” Gates said.

“Many countries decided that at the national level, they would orchestrate the testing” for the virus, he said.

“That hasn’t happened in the United States. It might not happen. But, you know, the access to tests is just, you know, chaotic.”

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Asked what he thinks about moves toward reopening by some states such as Georgia, Gates said he is “afraid we’ll have some people and some states that move too quickly and have to back off.”

But, he said, “it’s going to be a while before things go back to normal.”

“I wish I could say that we’re halfway through. But I don’t think so.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been involved in battling some perennial diseases in the world.

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More To Read… | Noble Reporters Media

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#Newsworthy…

German COVID-19 vaccine set for Human testing


A possible vaccine for Coronavirus, developed by German firm BioNTech and US drug giant Pfizer, has been given the green light for human testing.

The trial will begin with 200 healthy people, aged between 18 and 55, being given the vaccine, according to informations gathered by NobleReporters.

“This is a good sign that the development of a vaccine in Germany is so progressed that we can start with the first studies,” the country’s health minister, Jens Spahn, said Wednesday.

“At the same time the advice remains important that it will take months. This is an injection in the body. Safety first is the guideline for such a vaccine.”

Only a handful of vaccine candidates have been approved for clinical testing on humans globally, and experts caution that it will take at least a year for a viable vaccine to be developed.

Scientists at the UK’s Oxford University are starting human trials of a possible vaccine this week. Other clinical trials are taking place in the US and China.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Over 50 vaccine trials ongoing – WHO.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said there are more than 50 trials for a vaccine on COVID-19.

The Country Officer for WHO in Nigeria, Fiona Braka, said there is also a multi-country trial for a drug for the virus.


Braka said while there is no vaccine for the disease yet, WHO is fast-tracking the process of producing one.

She said:


“We currently have over 50 vaccine trials that are in place, trying to work round the clock to fast-track the vaccine development process, and we continue to keep countries informed of that process.

“When it comes to treatment, WHO is leading a multi-country clinical trial. So far, 45 countries have signed up for that.”

The WHO country director added that what is being adopted is a “solidarity trial” that would “test different drugs in four different arms against the normal standard of care we are currently implementing.”


#Newsworthy…