BREAKING NEWS
newsdailyFebruary 25, 2021
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3min350

JOHANNESBURG: The African Union is backing calls for drugmakers to waive some intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries, the head of its disease control body said on Thursday.

South Africa and India, which both manufacture drugs and vaccines, made the proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) last year, arguing that intellectual property (IP) rules were hindering the urgent scale-up of vaccine production and provision of medical products to some patients.

They have faced opposition from some developed nations, but the backing of the African Union (AU) may give renewed impetus for the push to relax IP rules. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a news conference that IP transfer was a “win-win for everybody” that would address the huge inequalities in global public health.

He gave two examples where the developing world had suffered because of restricted access to medicines: the swine flu pandemic in the late 2000s and HIV/AIDS in the 1990s.

“In 1996, HIV drugs were available, and we saw how mortality in the developed world decreased drastically. But it would take 10 years before those drugs were accessible in Africa in any meaningful way,” he said.

“In between, 12 million Africans died, so I just use those numbers to say: any IP transfer will be beneficial to everybody, because nobody wants to sit back and be proud of that sad event. We want to be on the right side of history.”

Nkengasong added the Africa CDC’s regulatory taskforce had approved two versions of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, a day after Ghana received its first AstraZeneca doses from global vaccine distribution facility COVAX. He said the developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine had submitted a “full dossier” of data to the Africa CDC and that in the coming days an expert panel would review the data and make a pronouncement.

“We have not received dossiers yet from China colleagues, but we remain optimistic that they will submit to us,” he continued. Several countries on the continent, including Egypt, Zimbabwe and Senegal, have already started rolling out Chinese COVID-19 shots.–Reuters

 


newsdailyNovember 16, 2020
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5min20

The U.S company Moderna, which is working on Covid Vaccine,  said on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine is proving to be highly effective in a major trial, the second dash of hope in the global race for a shot to tame a resurgent virus that is now killing more than 8,000 people a day worldwide.

The company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from Moderna’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

The results are “truly striking,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious diseases expert. Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a COVID-19 vaccine that was 60% effective.

A vaccine can’t come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend 1 million of them recorded in just the past week and governors and mayors are ratcheting up restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving. The pandemic has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, over 245,000 of them in the U.S.

Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.

“That should give us all hope that actually a vaccine is going to be able to stop this pandemic and hopefully get us back to our lives,” Hoge told The Associated Press. He added: “It won’t be Moderna alone that solves this problem. It’s going to require many vaccines” to meet the global demand.

The National Institutes of Health helped create the vaccine Moderna is manufacturing, and NIH’s director, Dr. Francis Collins, said the exciting news from two companies “gives us a lot of confidence that we’re on the path towards having effective vaccines.”

But “we’re also at this really dark time,” he warned, saying people can’t let down their guard during the months it will take for doses of any vaccines cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to start reaching a large share of the population.

If the FDA allows emergency use of Moderna’s or Pfizer’s candidate, there will be limited, rationed supplies before the end of the year.

Both vaccines require people to get two shots, several weeks apart. U.S. officials said they hope to have about 20 million Moderna doses and another 20 million doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech to use in late December.

Moderna’s vaccine is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real thing or a dummy shot. On Sunday, an independent monitoring board examined 95 infections that were recorded after volunteers’ second dose, and they discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.

The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.–AP

 



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