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Novavax begins clinical trial of Covid-19 vaccine in Australia

US biotech firm Novavax begins Covid-19 vaccine trials on Australian volunteers after getting $388mn from Bill Gates-backed fund

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Bill Gates Covid Vaccine

Sydney, May 26 : US-based biotechnology company Novavax is testing a new coronavirus vaccine on human subjects for the first time, launching a phase one clinical trial with a massive grant from an agency founded by Bill Gates, kicking off a storm of concerns online.

Preliminary immunogenicity and safety results from the Phase 1 portion of the trial are expected in July 2020, Novavax said on Monday.

“Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global Covid-19 pandemic,” said Stanley Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax.

“We look forward to sharing the clinical results in July and, if promising, quickly initiating the Phase 2 portion of the trial.”

The Phase 1/2 clinical trial is being conducted in two parts. The Phase 1 portion of the trial is enrolling approximately 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age at two sites in Australia.

The Phase 2 portion is expected to be conducted in multiple countries, including the US, and would assess immunity, safety and Covid19 disease reduction in a broader age range.

The trial is being supported by the recently announced funding arrangement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organizations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.

NVX-CoV2373 includes Novavax’ proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance immune responses and stimulate high levels of neutralising antibodies.

Novavax said it identified NVX-CoV2373 as its lead SARS-CoV-2 candidate following pre-clinical testing that demonstrated high immunogenicity and high levels of neutralising antibodies.

The availability of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 is well-recognised as a key tool to control the pandemic. At the same time, the efforts needed to rapidly develop, evaluate and produce this at scale are enormous.

According to the WHO, it is important to evaluate as many vaccines as possible as we cannot predict how many will turn out to be viable.

To increase the chances of success, it is critical to test all candidate vaccines until they fail, the WHO said, adding that it is working to ensure that all of them have the chance of being tested at the initial stage of development.

Over 120 vaccines have been proposed across the world including in India.

There are currently several vaccines in clinical evaluation, and about 70 in pre-clinical evaluation.

India’s Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said that at least four of the 14 candidate vaccines for novel coronavirus in the country may enter the clinical trial stage very soon.

Disaster

Congress leader Sushmita Dev tests Covid positive in Assam, tally 14,032

Gogoi’s legal counsel Santanu Barthakur told the media, “In the morning, I received the news that Gogoi has tested positive for Covid-19.”

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Sushmita Dev

Guwahati/Silchar, July 9 : While former Congress Lok Sabha member Sushmita Dev has tested positive for coronavirus, the Assam government refuted the media reports that Akhil Gogoi, jailed top farmers leader, tested Covid-19 positive.

On Thursday, Covid-19 death toll rose to 24 and number of cases jumped to 14,032 in the state.

All India Mahila Congress (AIMC) chief and the party”s national spokesperson Dev, daughter of former Union Minister Santosh Mohan Dev, was on Wednesday admitted to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital after she tested nCoV positive.

“I have tested positive for Covid-19. I am asymptomatic as of now,” the 48-year-old Congress leader tweeted. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra inquired about her health.

On Akhil Gogoi testing Covid-19 positive, Inspector General of Prisons Dasarath Das said he had not received any such report from the health department.

Gogoi’s legal counsel Santanu Barthakur told the media, “In the morning, I received the news that Gogoi has tested positive for Covid-19.”

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (KMSS) founder is lodged in the Guwahati Central Jail for the past seven months for his role in the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

On Wednesday, two associates of Gogoi, who are in the judicial custody, tested Covid-19 positive.

Meanwhile, during the day two more Covid-19 deaths were reported in the state, taking the toll to 24, while the number of cases rose to 14,032.

Two more Covid-19 patients, aged 70 and 56, succumbed to the infection this morning at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, tweeted Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The Health Department is conducting door-to-door Covid-19 testing in Guwahati from Tuesday. The campaign in the Pandu area of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation is being personally monitored by Sarma.

According to the health officials, the number of Covid-19 cases in Assam has climbed to 14,032. Of this, 5,279 are active as 8,726 people have been discharged, three migrated to other states and 24 died.

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Three-day lockdown in UP from Friday night

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Lucknow, July 9 : The Yogi Adityanath government on Thrsday announced a three-day lockdown in Uttar Pradesh from 10 p.m. on Friday to 5.a.m. on Monday.

All markets, food grain markets and other establishments will remain closed during this period and the supply of essentials will be ensured through doorstep delivery.

The movement of trains and air services will continue but road transport will be shut down. Buses, however, will be made available to air and train passengers.

Petrol pumps and hospitals will function normally.

The three-day lockdown is being enforced in view of the spurt in number of Corona cases in the state.

An official statement said that goods carriers will be allowed to operate and construction activities will also continue.

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Disaster

UN chief highlights need for decent jobs to fuel Covid-19 recovery

“But let”s be clear: it”s not a choice between health or jobs and the economy,” he said. “They are interlinked. We will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts.”

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, July 9 : UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has highlighted the need for decent jobs to fuel the Covid-19 recovery. In a video message, the UN chief told heads of state and government and others attending a virtual meeting that they are essential to global efforts to “build back better” after the pandemic.

“Together, we can emerge from this crisis stronger, with decent jobs and a brighter, more equal and greener future for all,” he said on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

More than 50 heads of state and government, alongside global employers” and trade union leaders, have been taking part in an online discussion on Wednesday looking at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the world of work.

The summit is part of a five-day virtual event organized this month by the International Labour Organization (ILO), to examine issues that include countering the economic and social impact of the crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the extreme vulnerability of millions of workers and businesses worldwide. It has led to a 14 percent drop globally in working hours during the second quarter of this year: equivalent to the loss of 400 million full time jobs, according to data from the ILO.

Furthermore, most of the world”s workers — a staggering 93 per cent — continue to live in countries that have implemented some form of workplace closures.

As of Wednesday, the World Health Organization reported more than 11.6 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide, and nearly 540,000 deaths.

The UN chief pointed out that while some countries are just entering the worst days of the pandemic, others are struggling to open up their economies amid the threat of a resurgence in cases.

“But let”s be clear: it”s not a choice between health or jobs and the economy,” he said. “They are interlinked. We will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts.”

The UN chief underscored the importance of global solidarity as no country can solve the crisis alone.

“This global summit is an opportunity for governments, workers and employers” representatives to shape winning responses,” said the secretary-general.

“Responses that stimulate the economy and employment. Solutions that support enterprises, decent jobs and incomes. Approaches that safeguard workers and expand social protection. Plans that promote gender equality and reinforce social cohesion. Proposals that protect the most vulnerable and invest in essential workers — such as those in health and care services — who are on the frontlines of the response. And above all, initiatives that are grounded in unity and solidarity.”

Leaders addressed the summit via video messages, outlining how their countries or organizations are responding to the crisis.

The summit was preceded by five regional virtual events held last week looking at the challenges of recovery and building a better future of work after the pandemic.

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