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Bharat Biotech: Vaccine development moving positively, next 1 month crucial

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New Delhi, June 1 : The development of a vaccine for Covid-19 is moving in a positive direction and the next one month will be very crucial, said Krishna Mohan Ella, Chief Executive Officer at Bharat Biotech.

The company has formed a collaborative framework with the University of Wisconsin, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.

Speaking to IANS, Mohan said, “The vaccine development is moving in a positive direction. The next one month is very crucial. I am a scientist and I believe in science.”

Queried on Bharat Biotech”s plans on vaccine production in the backdrop of the statement by The Serum Institute of India, which said it plans to produce 60 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine by year-end, Mohan said the company is working very hard on the development of the vaccine.

He expressed satisfaction on the progress of the research connected with the vaccine development so far, but insisted that “in science, things can change”.

“If things were not moving positively, I would not be talking to you…we are at a very crucial stage, but I cannot comment on the number of doses (like The Serum Institute) etc.,” added Mohan.

According to ICMR, human trials could begin in at least six months.

Queried on the same, Mohan said, “Let us go by science. I cannot comment on the beginning of human trials. We are working very hard on the vaccine, which will benefit the people.”

He insisted that the global media is watching the vaccine development very closely, but refrained from making any comment on the specifics of the progress made so far or about any specific goal set for the next month.

India reported 8,390 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the country”s Covid-19 tally to 1,90,535 on Monday. India has emerged as the seventh worst hit country globally, leaving behind France and Germany. There are at least 93,322 active cases, while 91,819 people have been cured. The recovery rate in the country is 48.19 per cent now, while the death rate is 2.83 per cent.

Mohan had said last month that Bharat Biotech is collaborating with Thomas Jefferson for developing a vaccine for Covid-19 using an inactivated rabies vector platform.

He said that since the basic proof of the concept has been established by using it for other infectious diseases. The company is committed to global public health and will be involved in an end-to-end development of vaccine, including comprehensive clinical trials to achieve commercial licensure, he had said.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])

Health

UK PM Boris Johnson to join nationwide clapping for NHS

The NHS was launched on this day in 1948, with the core principle that it is free at the point of delivery and is based on clinical need.

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Boris Johnson

London, July 5 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will join a nationwide round of clapping on Sunday to pay tribute to National Health Service (NHS) staff on the 72nd anniversary of the health service.

The public are being encouraged to give a round of applause at 5 p.m. for all those who helped save lives during the coronavirus pandemic, the BBC reported.

On Saturday, UK landmarks were lit up blue in celebration and remembrance.

Downing Street, the Royal Albert Hall, Blackpool Tower, the Shard and the Wembley Arch were all illuminated and a minute”s silence was held to remember those who have died during the pandemic.

People were also asked to place lights their windows in a show of remembrance on Saturday night, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, lighting a candle in Canterbury Cathedral.

Later on Sunday, a World War Two Spitfire plane with the words “Thank U NHS” painted on its underside will tip its wings above hospitals and the homes of fundraisers and volunteers, recognising the way people have supported the NHS and local communities during the pandemic.

The NHS was launched on this day in 1948, with the core principle that it is free at the point of delivery and is based on clinical need.

In a video message to mark the occasion, Prince Charles paid tribute to staff working through “the most testing time in the service”s history”, the BBC reported.

“Despite all that has been endured, there is deep cause for gratitude, and a true reason for pride,” he said.

The Prince of Wales also said the pandemic had brought out the best in people, adding: “This renewal of our community spirit has been a silver lining during this dark time.”

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Health

Appeal to follow Kim’s order for ‘maximum alert’ against COVID-19

North Korea claims to have had no coronavirus infections so far, but many outside observers suspect that Pyongyang might be hushing up an outbreak, said the Yonhap News Agency report.

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North Korean Kim Jong un

Seoul, July 5 : North Korea’s main newspaper on Sunday made an appeal to carry out leader Kim Jong-un’s order that the country exercise “maximum alert” against the coronavirus pandemic.

Kim issued the order during a politburo meeting on June 2, warning that premature easing of anti-virus measures will lead to an “unimaginable and irretrievable crisis”.

The appeal was seen as a sign that the North’s COVID-19 situation could be serious, though Pyongyang claims there has not been a single case, reports Yonhap News Agency.

It was the second time in three months that the North has convened a politburo meeting to discuss the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said all people should rise up to carry out the leader’s order.

“In a situation where the prospect of resolving the risk is uncertain, we should be on maximum alert without becoming complacent or slackening,” the paper said in an editorial, calling for “absolute” obedience to anti-virus regulations and orders.

The official Korean Central News Agency also said the country is trying to carry out anti-virus measures in a stricter manner nationwide while redoubling monitoring and disinfection efforts in regions near the sea and land borders.

Last week”s politburo meeting shows the country puts the lives of people ahead of anything else, the KCNA said.

The Minju Joson, a cabinet newspaper, also said in an editorial that virus prevention centres across the country should try to come up with detailed and timely measures in a pre-emptive manner so as to maintain the emergency virus prevention system in a stricter way.

North Korea claims to have had no coronavirus infections so far, but many outside observers suspect that Pyongyang might be hushing up an outbreak, said the Yonhap News Agency report.

The country has taken relatively drastic anti-virus measures, including closing its borders.

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WHO discontinues hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir trial for Covid-19 treatment

WHO said this decision applies only to hospitalized patients and does not affect the possible evaluation in other studies of hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir in non-hospitalised patients or as pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis for Covid-19.

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Geneva, July 5: WHO today accepted the recommendation from the Solidarity Trial’s International Steering Committee to discontinue the trial’s hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir arms. The Solidarity Trial was established by WHO to find an effective COVID-19 treatment for hospitalized patients.

The International Steering Committee formulated the recommendation in light of the evidence for hydroxychloroquine vs standard-of-care and for lopinavir/ritonavir vs standard-of-care from the Solidarity trial interim results, and from a review of the evidence from all trials presented at the 1-2 July WHO Summit on COVID-19 research and innovation.

These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patients when compared to standard of care. Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect.

For each of the drugs, the interim results do not provide solid evidence of increased mortality. There were, however, some associated safety signals in the clinical laboratory findings of the add-on Discovery trial, a participant in the Solidarity trial. These will also be reported in the peer-reviewed publication.

This decision applies only to the conduct of the Solidarity trial in hospitalized patients and does not affect the possible evaluation in other studies of hydroxychloroquine or lopinavir/ritonavir in non-hospitalized patients or as pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19. The interim Solidarity results are now being readied for peer-reviewed publication.

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