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Researchers identify highly effective antibodies against Covid-19

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Scientists have identified highly effective antibodies against the novel coronavirus, which they say can lead to the development of a passive vaccination for COVID-19.

Unlike in active vaccination, passive vaccination involves the administration of ready-made antibodies, which are degraded after some time.

However, the effect of a passive vaccination is almost immediate, whereas with an active vaccination it has to build up first, the researchers said.

The research, published in the journal Cell, also shows that some SARS-CoV-2 antibodies bind to tissue samples from various organs, which could potentially trigger undesired side effects.

The scientists at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and Charite – Universitatsmedizin Berlin isolated almost 600 different antibodies from the blood of individuals who had overcome COVID-19, the disease triggered by SARS-CoV-2.

By means of laboratory tests, they were able to narrow this number down to a few antibodies that were particularly effective at binding to the virus.

The researchers then produced these antibodies artificially using cell cultures.

The so-called neutralising antibodies bind to the virus, as crystallographic analysis reveals, and thus prevent the pathogen from entering cells and reproducing, they said.

In addition, virus recognition by antibodies helps immune cells to eliminate the pathogen. Studies in hamsters — which, like humans, are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 — confirmed the high efficacy of the selected antibodies.

“If the antibodies were given after an infection, the hamsters developed mild disease symptoms at most. If the antibodies were applied preventively — before infection — the animals did not get sick,” said Jakob Kreye, coordinator of the research project.

The researchers noted that treating infectious diseases with antibodies has a long history.

For COVID-19, this approach is also being investigated through the administration of plasma derived from the blood of recovered patients. With the plasma, antibodies of donors are transferred, they said.

“Ideally, the most effective antibody is produced in a controlled manner on an industrial scale and in constant quality. This is the goal we are pursuing,” said Momsen Reincke, first author of the research.

“Three of our antibodies are particularly promising for clinical development,” explained Harald Pruss, a research group leader at the DZNE and also a senior physician at Charite – Universitatsmedizin Berlin.

“Using these antibodies, we have started to develop a passive vaccination against SARS-CoV-2,” Pruss said.

In addition to the treatment of patients, preventive protection of healthy individuals who have had contact with infected persons is also a potential application, the researchers said.

How long the protection lasts will have to be investigated in clinical studies, they said.

“This is because, unlike in active vaccination, passive vaccination involves the administration of ready-made antibodies, which are degraded after some time,” Pruss said. In general, the protection provided by a passive vaccination is less persistent than that provided by an active vaccination, the researchers said.

However, the effect of a passive vaccination is almost immediate, whereas with an active vaccination it has to build up first, they said.

“It would be best if both options were available so that a flexible response could be made depending on the situation,” Pruss added.

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Croatia announces new measures amid rise in Covid cases

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Zagreb, Oct 28 Amid surge in Covid-19 cases, Croatia’s National Civil Protection Headquarters has announced new measures.

The measures include mandatory physical distancing, a ban on all public events with more than 50 people, the new limit of the number of people attending weddings and funerals and the provision that public events and gatherings can last up to 10 p.m. while weddings until midnight, Xinhua news agency reported.

Sports competitions can be held without spectators, according to the measures, which banned the sales of alcoholic beverages from midnight to 6 a.m.

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Rawalpindi cops banned from posting on TikTok

Police officers in Rawalpindi have been banned from posting on the short video-making app, TikTok, after a video went viral, the media reported on Tuesday

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Police officers in Rawalpindi have been banned from posting on the short video-making app, TikTok, after a video went viral, the media reported on Tuesday.

The police department of the Pakistan twin city has warned that if a video of any officer goes viral on social media, irrespective of whether it is TikTok, Facebook or YouTube, strict departmental action will be taken, The Express Tribune reported.

The new rules were communicated on Monday in a letter issued by Rawalpindi CPO Ahsan Younas to divisional SPs, circle officers and station house officers.

The letter stated that posting videos on social media and going viral presents a negative image of the department.

After the video went viral, at least one officer has been suspended.

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India

India, US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security: Pompeo in New Delhi

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in the national capital said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in the national capital said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific.

Speaking at the third India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi, amidst the ongoing face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Pompeo discussed several issues from “cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region”.

As per an official statement of the US government, Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar at the meeting raised the issue of security threat India is facing from China. “In the area of defence we are challenged by reckless aggression on our northern borders,” he said at the bilateral dialogue.

The meeting assumes significance because the US secretaries of the Trump administration travelled to New Delhi amidst Coronavirus pandemic even as an intense ongoing campaigning for the Presidential elections due on November 3 was underway in the US.

“Our friendship and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific was clearly, clearly highly on display when we were in Tokyo this past week and a half for the Quad meeting that Minister Jaishankar and I had with our Australian and Japanese friends earlier this month,” Pompeo told his counterpart.

The US secretary of state said, “Today is real opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relationship. I think we’ve delivered on that over this past year. There is much more work to do for sure.”

Together, India and the US are building a better future for “our people based on our shared set of values and our cultures, our defence ties, our scientific collaboration, and mutual prosperity. I thank you for your leadership to each of you to build what ought to be a defining partnership of democracies in the 21st century,” he added.

Jaishankar, at the 2+2 Dialogue said that as the global economy has taken a massive hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government has to quickly make up for the losses as economic downturn will have both domestic and external consequences.

According to the US Department of State statement, Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, at the meeting with his counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out that Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of the first US-India Defence framework.

“We have strengthened our defence and security partnership considerably since then, especially over the past year, during which we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation. Our focus now must be on institutionalizing and regularizing our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” he said.

The two sides discussed key opportunities to expand their efforts on “regional security concerns” and to advance their “defence priorities”, to include increasing information sharing and mutual logistics operations between their militaries.

Jaishankar in his remarks said that at a time when it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the US to work closely in defence and foreign policy has a larger resonance. “Together we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, or creating prosperity,” he added.

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