Heads of United Nation agencies called on countries to take action to protect children from food supply problems sparked by Covid-19 pandemic.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is threatening access to food by some of the world's most vulnerable -- children, according to a new white paper written by the heads of four United Nations agencies, including the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The white paper was published in the scientific journal The Lancet and released by FAO on Tuesday
It was jointly written by FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, along with David Beasley, executive director of the Rome-based World Food Program (WFP), Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), and World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Qu is a former vice minister of China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
The paper, entitled "Child Malnutrition and COVID-19", calls for five specific actions aimed at protecting children from malnutrition during the global coronavirus pandemic: safeguarding and promoting access to "nutritious, safe, and affordable diets"; investments in maternal and child nutrition initiatives; reactivating and expanding early detection services for low body weight among young children; maintaining access to healthy school meals for vulnerable kids; and expanding social protection programs to guarantee access to food and other essential services.
"Our teams in countries everywhere stand ready to support governments and partners in implementing these five actions now," the co-authors wrote. "We must step forward together with sustained action and investments on nutrition today, and deny the COVID-19 crisis an inter-generational legacy of hunger and malnutrition in children."
The British government has reached a deal with GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur for securing 60 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine.
The vaccine could beging rolling out in the first half of next year, reports AP.
Britain’s GSK and France’s Sanofi have the largest vaccine manufacturing capability in the world.
The vaccine prospect is based on the existing DNA-based technology used to produce Sanofi’s seasonal flu vaccine.
UK said that if the vaccine proves successful, then priority groups, such as health and social care workers, could be given the first doses as early as the first half of next year.
Human clinical studies of the vaccine will begin in September followed by a phase 3 study in December.
This is the fourth deal the British government has signed for potential coronavirus vaccines, worth a combined 250 million doses.
Russian officials said they are working toward a date of August 10 or earlier for approval of Covid-19 vaccine, aiming to become the world’s first country to have a novel coronavirus vaccine approved.
Russian officials including the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev, revealed the information, reports TASS.
The Russian officials are going to approve Covid-19 vaccine, which has been created by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Institute, according to CNN.
"Russia will have got there first," it quoted Dmitriev as saying. "Our scientists focused not on being the first but on protecting people."
The second phase of clinical tests of an anti-coronavirus vaccine developed by the Gamalei National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology is nearing completion, the press service of the Russian Health Ministry said on Monday.
The vaccine’s state registration will be addressed after the tests are over.
The Center’s director Alexander Gintsburg said earlier that it was planned to finish the second phase of vaccine tests before July 28. Later, chief of Russia’s Direct Investment Fund Dmitriev said that the second phase would be over on August 3.
According to data provided by Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Russia’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have reached to 822,060 as of Wednesday while 13,483 people have died of Covid-19.
Europe's tourism revival is running into turbulence only weeks after countries opened their borders, with rising infections in Spain and other countries.
European countries started opening up to each other's tourists in mid-June, but recent events have shown that the new freedom to travel is subject to unpredictable setbacks.
Now authorities are worried about people bringing the coronavirus home from their summer vacations.
Over the weekend, Britain imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers arriving from Spain, Norway ordered a 10-day quarantine for people returning from the entire Iberian peninsula, and France urged its citizens not to visit Spain's Catalonia region.
In Austria, the lakeside resort town of St. Wolfgang shortened bar opening hours after an outbreak was detected on Friday. By Monday, 53 people had tested positive, including many interns working in the tourism industry.
In Germany, officials decided last week to set up testing stations at airports to encourage people arriving from a long list of countries deemed high-risk — including traditionally popular destinations such as Turkey — to get tested. They will also allow people to get tested elsewhere for free within three days of arrival.
“We are still very concerned about holidays,” Bavaria's governor, Markus Soeder, said Monday. “My worry is not that there will be one big Ischgl, but that there will be many mini-Ischgls,” he added, referring to the Austrian ski resort that was an early European hot spot in March.
“We are already seeing this in Spain, but also in other places,” he said, adding that German residents' trips to visit families abroad are also a concern. Soeder called for tests of returning vacationers from risky areas at airports to be made obligatory, something that the federal government is considering.
“Mostly it is the considerate people who have behaved very cautiously on vacation anyway who take up the voluntary offers, while those who are more careless don't take a voluntary test,” Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Helge Braun, told RBB Inforadio. New infections in Germany have been creeping higher from a low level.
Tourism employs 2.6 million people in Spain and generates 12% of the country’s economic activity.
Juan Molas, the head of a national association of tourism companies, Mesa del Turismo, said Spain’s tourism sector has on average lost 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion) a week since March.
Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said the Spanish government is trying to persuade the U.K. to exempt the Balearic Islands, which have a relatively low infection rate, from the quarantine rule.
The head of the Valencia regional government, which includes the popular Costa Blanca, also said he wanted an exemption.
“The tourist season has already been very difficult,” Ximo Puig told Cadena Ser radio. “We had some hope of salvaging something in August, but this is a very hard blow.”
The northeastern Catalonia and Aragón regions have Spain's most worrying virus clusters, prompting authorities to tighten restrictions in Barcelona, in a rural area around Lleida and in Zaragoza that were relaxed only a month ago.
Elsewhere in Europe, authorities in Belgium said that COVID-19 cases are growing at an alarming rate amid a surge of infections in Antwerp. Greek authorities said they are likely to extend the mandatory use of masks at churches and shopping malls, citing worsening public adherence to safety guidelines.
And in north Africa, Morocco banned most travel to and from some major cities — including Tangier, Casablanca and Marrakech, usually a popular tourist destination — to try to stem a small spike in cases.
In the Asia-Pacific region, many countries are still essentially banning foreign travelers or, if they do allow them to enter, requiring them to submit to tests and strict quarantine. That includes Australia, where the premier of Victoria state, Daniel Andrews, said the biggest driver in the region's current outbreak is people continuing to go to work after showing symptoms.
A tally by Johns Hopkins University shows more than 16.2 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide and more than 648,000 deaths. The actual numbers are thought to be much higher due to limits to testing and other issues.
The World Health Organization said the pandemic continues to accelerate, with a doubling of cases over the past six weeks.
The U.N. health agency's emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, stressed the need to “keep pressure on the virus.”
"Every single country where pressure has been lifted on the virus, where virus is still at community level, there’s been a jump back in cases,” he said.
Three professors at the University of Southampton school of medicine have become millionaires after making a “major breakthrough” in the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
As soon as the clinical trial of their drug’s results was published on the morning of July 21, the shares had risen by 540 percent by lunchtime, reports The Guardian.
The trial also found that 79 percent of patients given the drug are less likely to be seriously ill.
Almost two decades ago professors Ratko Djukanovic, Stephen Holgate and Donna Davies discovered that people with asthma and chronic lung disease lacked a protein called interferon beta, which helps fight off the common cold.
They worked out that patients’ defences against viral infection could be boosted if the missing protein were replaced.
The academics created the company, Synairgen, to turn their discoveries into treatments. It floated on the stock market in 2004 but its shares collapsed after a deal with AstraZeneca to treat viral infections in asthmatics fell through.
But when the need for any potential therapeutics for breathing difficulties are in high demand during the coronavirus pandemic, suddenly the professors' discovery was seen as a game changer.
Richard Marsden, Synairgen’s chief executive, said the company had been deeply involved in a trial using the interferon beta drug to help people with chronic bronchitis or emphysema. “[But] when the coronavirus pandemic emerged, even back in January we realised that we might have an important role to play in defence against this virus,” he said.
“So we set about getting a clinical trial set up in February and March in anticipation of the virus coming to the UK, [and] it did. The trial was in place when people started to fill the hospitals up."
Results of the initial trial, published this week, showed that coronavirus patients in hospital given a special formulation of the professors’ interferon beta drug, called SNG001, delivered directly to their airways via a nebuliser, were two to three times more likely to recover than those given a placebo.
The study of 101 people showed that the odds of patients developing a severe version of the disease were reduced by 79 percent, and their breathlessness was also “markedly reduced”, the company said.
So far this year, Synairgen’s shares have risen by more than 3,000 percent, to 204p at market close on Friday, valuing the company directors’ combined 2.6 percent stake at more than £7m.
Synairgen, which is still based at Southampton general hospital, is now presenting its findings to medical regulators around the world to seek approval for the next stage in bringing the treatment to market.
New drug approval procedures often take months, but governments have promised to speed up the process to get promising coronavirus treatments approved.
The company has also expanded the trial to patients suffering from milder coronavirus infections at home.
Synairgen has already ordered the drug manufacturer Rentschler to start producing supplies, with the aim of getting more than a million doses ready for a possible second wave of coronavirus in the winter.
In the future the drug could be given to healthcare workers and vulnerable groups prior to a second wave of Covid-19 or another new virus.