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Johnson & Johnson plans to start human trial of COVID-19 vaccine by Sept

Based on this work, Johnson & Johnson has identified a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate (with two back-ups), which will progress into the first manufacturing steps.

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Johnson & Johnson

Mumbai, March 30 : US-based global healthcare company Johnson & Johnson on Monday announced the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate, adding that it expects to initiate testing of the vaccine in humans at the latest by September this year.

The first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use authorisation in early 2021, the company said.

Through a landmark new partnership, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Johnson & Johnson together have committed more than $1 billion of investment to co-fund vaccine research, development, and clinical testing.

Johnson & Johnson said it will use its validated vaccine platform and is allocating resources, including personnel and infrastructure globally, as needed, to focus on these efforts.

Separately, BARDA and Johnson & Johnson have provided additional funding that will enable expansion of their ongoing work to identify potential antiviral treatments against the novel coronavirus.

As part of its commitment, Johnson & Johnson is also expanding the company’s global manufacturing capacity, including through the establishment of new U.S. vaccine manufacturing capabilities and scaling up capacity in other countries.

The additional capacity will assist in the rapid production of a vaccine and will enable the supply of more than one billion doses of a safe and effective vaccine globally, the company said.

“The world is facing an urgent public health crisis and we are committed to doing our part to make a COVID-19 vaccine available and affordable globally as quickly as possible,” Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement.

“Johnson & Johnson is well positioned through our combination of scientific expertise, operational scale and financial strength to bring our resources in collaboration with others to accelerate the fight against this pandemic,” Gorsky added.

Johnson & Johnson began efforts in January 2020, as soon as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) sequence became available, to research potential vaccine candidates. Research teams at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, in collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, part of Harvard Medical School, constructed and tested multiple vaccine candidates using the Janssen AdVac technology.

Through collaborations with scientists at multiple academic institutions, the vaccine constructs were then tested to identify those with the most promise in producing an immune response in preclinical testing.

Based on this work, Johnson & Johnson has identified a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate (with two back-ups), which will progress into the first manufacturing steps.

Under an accelerated timeline, the company is aiming to initiate a Phase 1 clinical study in September 2020, with clinical data on safety and efficacy expected to be available by the end of the year.

This could allow vaccine availability for emergency use in early 2021. For comparison, the typical vaccine development process involves a number of different research stages, spanning 5 to 7 years, before a candidate is even considered for approval.

Cities

17 die in fresh lightning strikes across Bihar

The Meteorological Department on Wednesday had issued an alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms in the next 48 hours.

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Lightning

Patna, July 2 : At least 17 more people died in lightning strikes in various parts of Bihar on Thursday, officials said.

However, according to unconfirmed reports, at least 20 people have died due to lightning strikes in the state.

According to Police, five people died after being struck by lightning in Dulhin Bazaar of Patna alone.

An official of the Disaster Management Department said that according to the information received from the districts, 17 people died due to lightning in the state on Thursday — five of them in Patna, four in East Champaran, three each in Samastipur and Katihar and two in Shivhar district.

The Meteorological Department on Wednesday had issued an alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms in the next 48 hours.

On Tuesday, 11 people had died by lightning in various districts of Bihar, while on June 26, at least 96 people died across Bihar in lightning strikes.

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‘US risks greater COVID-19 outbreak if latest surge not controlled’

“Clearly we are not in control right now,” Fauci testified, warning that not enough Americans are wearing masks or social distancing.

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Anthony Fauci

Washington, July 2 : Anthony Fauci, the top US expert in infectious diseases, has expressed his concern over the sudden spike of COVID-19 cases in the country, warning of the risk of a greater outbreak if the latest surge is not controlled.

“We got hit very badly, worse than any country, with regard to the number of cases and the number of deaths,” Fauci told the BBC on Wednesday.

“The problem we”re facing now is that in an attempt to so-called reopen or open the government and get it back to some form of normality, we”re seeing very disturbing spikes in different individual states in the US.

“We”ve got to get that under control or we risk an even greater outbreak in the US,” he added.

As of Thursday, the US accounted for the world”s highest number of infections and fatalities with 2,685,806 and 128,061, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

Comparing the situation in the US to how some European countries controlled the spread of the virus, Fauci told the BBC: “They closed down to the tune of about 97 per cent lockdown. In the US, even in the most strict lockdown, only about 50 per cent of the country locked down. That allowed the perpetuation of the outbreak.”

“We need to engender some societal responsibility in people, particularly the younger people,” he said, adding that young people were less likely to be seriously affected by COVID-19 but could still spread the disease.

Fauci”s remarks on Wednesday came a day after he told the US Senate that he “would not be surprised” if new virus cases in the country reach 100,000 per day, the BBC reported.

“Clearly we are not in control right now,” Fauci testified, warning that not enough Americans are wearing masks or social distancing.

On Tuesday, cases rose by more than 40,000 in one day for the fourth time in the past five days.

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96 killed in Myanmar jade mine landslide

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

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Myanmar jade mine landslide

Yangon, July 2 : At least 96 people were killed and many others were reported missing on Thursday after a jade mine collapsed due to a landslide in Myanmar’s Kachin state, authorities said.

Caused by the monsoon rains, the landslide occurred at the jade mining site in Sate Mu village tract of Hpakant township at 8a.m., Xinhua news agency quoted a statement from the Fire Services Department as saying.

Hundreds of miners were feared buried as the landslide took place during their work hours, but the exact number of casualties are yet to be known and rescue works are being carried out, a township police official told Xinhua.

Deadly landslides are frequent in Kachin state, known as land of jade, especially in Hpakant mining region.

A major landslide occurred in the region in November 2015, leaving at least 116 people dead.

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