Archive | Travel

image

Mutated virus may reinfect people already stricken once with covid-19, sparking debate and concerns

The Washington Post
Reprint

 Carolyn Y. Johnson, William Wan 

a person standing in front of a brick building: Volunteers deliver coronavirus test kits Thursday west of London as part of surge testing for the virus variant discovered in South Africa.
© Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images Volunteers deliver coronavirus test kits Thursday west of London as part of surge testing for the virus variant discovered in South Africa.

A trial of an experimental coronavirus vaccine detected the most sobering signal yet that people who have recovered from infections are not completely protected against a variant that originated in South Africa and is spreading rapidly, preliminary data presented this week suggests.

The finding, though far from conclusive, has potential implications for how the pandemic will be brought under control, underscoring the critical role of vaccination, including for people who have already recovered from infections. Reaching herd immunity — the threshold when enough people achieve protection and the virus can’t seed new outbreaks — will depend on a mass vaccination campaign that has been constrained by limited supply.

Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that it appears a vaccine is better than natural infection in protecting people, calling it “a big, strong plug to get vaccinated” and a reality check for people who may have assumed that because they have already been infected, they are immune.

In the placebo group of the trial for Novavax’s vaccine, people with prior coronavirus infections appeared just as likely to get sick as people without them, meaning they weren’t fully protected against the B.1.351 variant that has swiftly become dominant in South Africa. The variant has been detected only a handful of times in the United States, including a case reported Friday in Virginia, which became the third state to identify the presence of the virus variant.

The preliminary finding from the South African vaccine trial, based on a data set with limitations, stirred debate and concern among researchers as results first hinted at in a news release last week were revealed more broadly this week.

“The data really are quite suggestive: The level of immunity that you get from natural infection — either the degree of immunity, the intensity of the immunity or the breadth of immunity — is obviously not enough to protect against infection with the mutant,” Fauci said.

Even if they don’t agree on the scope of the threat, scientists said reinfection with new variants is clearly a risk that needs to be explored more. There is no evidence that second cases are more severe or deadly, and a world in which people may have imperfect protection against new versions of the virus is not necessarily a world in which the pandemic never ends.

“I worry especially that some of these premature sweeping conclusions being made could rob people of hope,” said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security. “I worry the message they may receive is that we’re never going to be rid of this. When in fact that’s not what the data suggests.”

She and others emphasized the apparent lack of severe health repercussions from reinfection — and the lack of evidence that reinfection is common.

When Maryland biotechnology company Novavax first disclosed results from two international vaccine trials last week, the company noted in its news release that some people in the trial with earlier infections had become reinfected, probably with the variant B.1.351, which had become dominant during the trial.

On Tuesday, details of the Novavax trial were presented at the New York Academy of Sciences.

About 30 percent of the people in the South African trial had antibodies in their blood at the start of the trial showing they had recovered from an earlier infection.

But that previous exposure didn’t necessarily appear to afford protection. Among those who got saltwater shots, the people with a prior infection got sick at the same rate as study participants who had not been previously infected — a surprise because they would have been expected to have some immunity. Nearly 4 percent of people who had a previous infection were reinfected, an almost identical rate to those with no history of infection.

“It’s awful strong data,” said Larry Corey, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who is co-leading the federal clinical trial network testing coronavirus vaccines in the United States. “Basically, it’s saying vaccination actually needs to be better than natural immunity. But vaccination is better than natural immunity.”

The study found that two shots of the experimental vaccine did provide protection against the variant.

The reinfection result was incidental to the main objective of the study, which was to determine the vaccine’s efficacy and safety. It was not designed to test the likelihood of reinfection, and others argued that it can’t be used to draw firm conclusions and cautioned against assuming that the previous infection provided no protection.

It also shows the risks of a strategy to reach herd immunity pushed by Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and adviser to President Donald Trump, who is said to have endorsed allowing the virus to spread mostly unfettered, while protecting nursing homes and other vulnerable populations. Atlas has repeatedly denied backing such a strategy.

The study backs up recent laboratory data from South African researchers analyzing blood plasma from recovered patients. Nearly half of the plasma samples had no detectable ability to block the variant from infecting cells in a laboratory dish. In a separate study, scientists at Rockefeller University in New York took blood plasma from people who had been vaccinated and found that vaccine-generated antibodies were largely able to block mutations found on the B.1.351 variant.

Novavax did not provide a breakdown of mild, moderate, and severe cases, but severe cases of covid-19 were rare in the trial, suggesting that reinfection is unlikely to send people to the hospital.

“It is not surprising to see reinfection in individuals who are convalescent. And it would not be surprising to see infection in people who are vaccinated, especially a few months out from vaccine,” said Michel Nussenzweig, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology at Rockefeller University. “The key is not whether people get reinfected, it’s whether they get sick enough to be hospitalized.”

Reinfection has always been a possibility, but scientists who design disease models had assumed that natural infection would convey some level of immunity for at least a few months. That figured into some earlier calculations for how America could start approaching herd immunity by this summer or fall. Even with limited vaccination supply and delays in distribution, the hope was that people previously infected would factor in the drive toward herd immunity.

If it turns out that previously infected people could be susceptible to reinfection by variants, that could have implications for when the nation reaches herd immunity.

“Everyone’s still trying to digest this and asking, is this really what’s happening? Because the implications are pretty huge,” said Chris Murray, who leads the modeling team at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “If the data holds true, it means we will need to walk the public back on the idea of how close we are to the finish line for ending this pandemic.”

Others are less sure. Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, said he couldn’t draw clear conclusions from the data because it remains limited and preliminary.

“The pace has been dizzying, and several times today, I have learned new things that significantly change my view of those data,” Lipsitch said.

Projections created by data scientist Youyang Gu — whose pandemic models have been cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — suggest that about 65 percent of America’s population will reach immunity by June 1. But built into that 65 percent is roughly 20 percent having immunity from past infections only. Scientists are unsure how the potential for reinfection might influence their projections. They are eager to see if other vaccine trial data in the coming weeks will corroborate the trend from the Novavax trial.

“The sample size so far is small,” Gu said. “We need much more data before we can draw conclusions.”

More data from South Africa will help clarify how common reinfection is and whether it results in severe disease. Researchers are following up with certain groups, such as health-care workers, to quantify reinfection, said Anne von Gottberg, co-head of the Center for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

“Several individual cases of reinfection have been confirmed,” Gottberg said in an email. “We may be able to learn from seasonal coronaviruses and the fact that reinfection for these viruses are not uncommon, and start to occur 6 to 12 months after the previous infection.”

The good news is that vaccine trials from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax show that vaccines can work — even against the B.1.351 variant, and particularly in preventing severe illness.

“I think the fact that we … now have data from two vaccines indicating that we can prevent serious disease, even against the new variant, is hopeful,” Penny Moore, a scientist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, said in an email. “We need to keep monitoring sequences as these won’t be the last lineages.”

A future concern needing close monitoring is whether the reformulation of vaccines to keep up with the evolving virus could drive the virus to continue evolving. There is also a concern that subpar immunity could allow new resistant variants to emerge. That possibility, Nussenzweig said, is one reason that people should get both doses of a vaccine, on time.

In the News today –

Biden says ‘erratic’ Trump should not receive intel briefingsWorld’s most terrifying airport landings

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

<p>Boris Johnson provided a Friday update on Government

Boris Johnson says he will unveil ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ on Feb 22

Barney Davis – Evening Standard – 05 February 2021

<p>Boris Johnson provided a Friday update on Government's intentions</p>

Boris Johnson says he plans to unveil the “roadmap” out of the national lockdown to the public on February 22.
British officials are also said to have started working on a “vaccine passport” that would allow people to travel for a holiday this summer.
The Prime Minister has urged the public to continue following the rules despite successes with the vaccine rollout which has seen nearly 11.5 million jabs given in the UK so far.

Posting a video on Twitter, Boris Johnson said on February 22 he would “set out the beginnings of our roadmap for a way forward for the whole country as the vaccine programme intensifies and, as more and more people acquire immunity, a steady programme for beginning to unlock.”
He added: “I want to stress that it is still early days and we have rates of infection in this country (that are) still very, very high and (have) more people – almost twice as many people – in our hospitals with Covid now than there were back at the peak in April.

“So, do remember how tough it still is, how high that rate of infection is, and that we must, must work together to get it down – that’s the fundamental thing to get right. Stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

Coronavirus – In pictures

A sign advertising a book titled "How Will We Survive On Earth?" is seen on an underground station platform
Customers wearing face masks shop at the pork counter of a supermarket following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province
Westminster Bridge is deserted in London the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown
Canadian passengers Chris & Anna Joiner ask for help onboard the MS Zaandam, Holland America Line cruise ship, during the coronavirus outbreak, off the shores of Panama City
A man crosses a nearly empty 5th Avenue in midtown Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City

Lockdown measures in England are set to remain in place until at least March 8, after the Prime Minister announced the date for the earliest reopening of schools.

Following a scientific review of data on the UK vaccination programme and the impact of the lockdown on reducing infections and hospitalisations, ministers will gather in the Commons on February 22 to establish a plan for taking the country out of lockdown.

Government sources told the Times that there were “tentative” plans to prioritise outdoor activities such as golf and tennis and limited social gatherings outside, for the first phase out of lockdown.

Outdoors markets are expected to reopen before high street shops.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, International, Local, News, Travel0 Comments

express_logo_christmas

UK heading for post-Brexit BOOM after signing 62 new trade deals worth £900 billion

express_logo_christmas
Reprint

BRITAIN is heading for a post-Brexit boom after securing trade deals worth a staggering £900 billion.

By Martyn Brown, Senior Political Correspondent Tue, Dec 29, 2020

Boris Johnson: Brexit deal is ‘glad tidings of great joy’

https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/1377528/brexit-news-UK-EU-trade-deal-latest-boris-johnson-trade-deal-US-canada-australia-liz-truss?utm_source=express_newsletter&utm_campaign=politics_newsletter2&utm_medium=email&jwsource=cl

The colossal figure comes as Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed off a new £18.6 billion tie-up with Turkey, meaning the UK now has new agreements in place with 62 countries around the world. And there are multi-billion free trade deals with America, Canada, and Australia in the pipeline for 2021. Together they could boost the UK economy by at least £100 billion over the coming decade, according to analysts.

Trending

Writing in the Daily Express, former Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, says that the UK’s ability to secure its own trading agreements, free from EU interference, means that the “sunlit uplands” are on the horizon.

She says Boris Johnson’s “phenomenal” £660 billion trade deal with Brussels is the “catalyst for the UK to redefine our place in the world”.

“Let us seize the opportunities that our new position brings,” she says. Let’s use this as a positive push for our post-COVID recovery. The Roaring Twenties can now truly begin!”

Promoted Story

With just three days to go until the Brexit transition period ends Boris Johnson yesterday (Mon) hailed a “new starting point” for the UK’s relationship with the EU.

 Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed off a new £18.6 billion tie-up with Turkey

Trade Secretary Liz Truss signed off a new £18.6 billion tie-up with Turkey (Image: EXPRESS)

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

In a call with European Council president Charles Michel, the Prime Minister welcomed the agreement as a fresh start “between sovereign equals”.

“We looked forward to the formal ratification of the agreement and to working together on shared priorities, such as tackling climate change,” the prime minister added.

It came after ambassadors representing the 27 EU member states unanimously approved the trade deal, which was secured on Christmas Eve just days before the 31 December deadline.

The approval means the trade deal can take effect provisionally, though the European Parliament will formally vote on it in January.

READ MORE: Brexit rebellion: DUP to vote AGAINST Boris trade deal

There are multi-billion free trade deals with America, Canada and Australia in the pipeline for 2021

There are multi-billion free trade deals with America, Canada, and Australia in the pipeline for 2021 (Image: GETTY)

Related articles

MPs will be recalled to parliament to vote on the agreement tomorrow (Wed) and currently, only 10 Tories are expected to rebel.

But Tory grandee Lord Heseltine has urged MPs and peers to abstain from the vote, warning the deal would inflict “lasting damage” on the UK. Labour has also criticised what it described as a “thin” deal.

However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said his party will support it, meaning it is expected to be approved and come into force on 1 January.

The agreement with Turkey, which will be formally signed later this week, will provide a major boost for the British car industry, manufacturing, and steel industries and lays the groundwork for an enhanced relationship in the future.

DON’T MISS
‘Sore loser’ Lord Adonis blasted as he calls on UK to get back in EU [VIDEO]

Merkel backs Johnson’s Brexit deal as Germany gloats over EU27 unity [REVEALED]
How UK will have to negotiate with EVERY EU country in 2021 [INSIGHT]

Boris Johnson secured a trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve

Boris Johnson secured a trade deal with the EU on Christmas Eve (Image: GETTY)

Ms. Truss and her team have now agreed to trade deals with 62 countries, alongside the new EU deal – accounting for around £885 billion of UK trade.

More deals with Albania, Cameroon, and Ghana could be agreed in the coming days.

Announcing the deal the International Trade Secretary said: “We now look forward to working with Turkey towards an ambitious tailor-made trade agreement in the near future, as we aim to open new global markets for great British businesses, drive economic growth and improve people’s lives across both countries.

“It will provide certainty for thousands of jobs across the UK in the manufacturing, automotive and steel industries.”

The deal with the EU came just before the UK's transition period ended

The deal with the EU came just before the UK’s transition period ended (Image: GETTY)

The UK is Turkey’s second-biggest export market but Ankara’s customs union with the EU meant that a free trade agreement could not be finalised until a Brexit deal was in place. That raised fears among Turkish producers of white goods, cars, and textiles that their products could face hefty import tariffs and UK border delays if Britain crashed out of the 27-member bloc.

The deal seeks to replicate the trading terms that currently exist between the UK and Turkey, with tariff-free trade on all non-agricultural goods, according to British officials.

The UK has also agreed to roll over the preferential tariffs that Turkey enjoys on some agricultural products under its customs union with the EU.

It follows hot on the heels of a bumper £17.6 billion tie-up with Singapore that will help Britain become a major tech-hub.

Another £15 billion deal was signed with Japan, paving the way thousands of new jobs

Another £15 billion deal was signed with Japan, paving the way for thousands of new jobs (Image: EXPRESS)

Another £15 billion deal was signed with Japan, paving the way for thousands of new jobs. Crucially it gives Britain a foot in the door to joining a wider 11-nation trade deal, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Once fully operational it will account for around 14 percent of global GDP and is worth more than £112 billion.

Boris Johnson has promised Britain will “prosper mightily” outside the EU and Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week said that the new trade deal secured with the EU will usher in a “new era for global Britain”. 

Brexiteer John Redwood, who has indicated he will support the deal in tomorrow’s (Wed) vote, said the opportunities for Britain outside the EU are huge.

The EU had expressed its reluctance to back down to the UK's fishing demands

The EU had expressed its reluctance to back down to the UK’s fishing demands (Image: GETTY)

And he questioned the so-called “economic boost” of being in the bloc, suggesting there was only 1.66 percent per year since 1993.

“If we look at the 28 years 1993 to 2020 when we were in the single market and customs union, total growth was 59 percent. 

“That was an annual growth rate of just 1.66 percent.”

Richard Tice, Chairman of Reform/The Brexit Party, yesterday (Mon) questioned some elements of the UK/EU deal but described it as “a giant leap forward”. 

“We are once again a free, sovereign, independent United Kingdom,” he said.

Related articles

Recommended Stories

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Features, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Technology, TOURISM, Travel, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Covid-WhatsApp-Image-2020-03-20-at-5.36.34-PM

14-day quarantine period required for all travelers to Montserrat

As the Government of Montserrat (GoM) continues its vigilance in attempting to keep the island COVID-19 (and any variant thereof) free after its demonstrated ignorance or its lacking of alertness at the beginning and before the pandemic announcement.

According to the following release of a decision, “in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe,” GoM has decreed that all persons “traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days…”

The release dated Wednesday, December 23, 2020, follows:

 –  As of 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020, all persons traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

This decision was made in Cabinet this morning, in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, and which Health Experts say can spread more quickly than prior strains of the virus. 

As a result, Cabinet has decided that, except for those classes of people who are specifically exempted under S.R.O 80 of 2020, all other individuals arriving in Montserrat must quarantine for the full 14 days, including those staying in Government approved quarantine facilities.

Those exempted from the quarantine requirement are: Non-Resident Technicians granted permission to travel to Montserrat; a member of the crew of an aircraft or ship; and a person who has been granted permission by the Minister of Health to enter Montserrat for the purpose of aiding with preparations for a disaster or after a disaster.

Individuals traveling to Montserrat are reminded that a negative PCR COVID-19 Test and pre-travel registration are still required prior to entering Montserrat.  The PCR COVID-19 Test must be undertaken no earlier than seven days prior to entering Montserrat.

Members of the public are also urged to continue practicing the recommended health and safety precautionary measures, to include wearing a face covering, social distancing, and sanitisation.

As the Government of Montserrat (GoM) continues its vigilance in attempting to keep the island COVID-19 (and any variant thereof) free after its demonstrated ignorance or its lacking of alertness at the beginning and before the pandemic announcement.

According to the following release of a decision, “in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe,” GoM has decreed that all persons “traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days,”

The release dated Wednesday, December 23, 2020, follows:

 –  As of 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020, all persons traveling to Montserrat will be required to quarantine for 14 days.

This decision was made in Cabinet this morning, in light of concerns regarding a new variant of COVID-19 which was recently discovered in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, and which Health Experts say can spread more quickly than prior strains of the virus. 

As a result, Cabinet has decided that, except for those classes of people who are specifically exempted under S.R.O 80 of 2020, all other individuals arriving in Montserrat must quarantine for the full 14 days, including those staying in Government approved quarantine facilities.

Those exempted from the quarantine requirement are: Non-Resident Technicians granted permission to travel to Montserrat; a member of the crew of an aircraft or ship; and a person who has been granted permission by the Minister of Health to enter Montserrat for the purpose of aiding with preparations for a disaster or after a disaster.

Individuals traveling to Montserrat are reminded that a negative PCR COVID-19 Test and pre-travel registration are still required prior to entering Montserrat.  The PCR COVID-19 Test must be undertaken no earlier than seven days prior to entering Montserrat.

Members of the public are also urged to continue practicing the recommended health and safety precautionary measures, to include wearing a face covering, social distancing, and sanitisation.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Environment, Featured, Government Notices, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

image

GSK actions to support the global response to COVID-19

GSK is closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and is supporting global efforts to tackle the virus. Since the outbreak, we have been actively exploring ways to help, with our science and expertise, alongside protecting the health and wellbeing of our people and managing our global supply chains to support patients and consumers who depend on our products.

Using our science, technology, portfolio, and resources to support the development of products for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and the overall global response.

Our COVID-19 solutions PDF – 698.2KB

Hear from our CEO, Emma Walmsley

Hear from our CEO, Emma Walmsley

Emma discusses GSK’s response to COVID-19 including our collaboration with Sanofi to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine, our commitment to access and investment in long-term pandemic preparedness.

Supporting research and production of candidate COVID-19 vaccines

We are collaborating with companies and research groups across the world working on promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates through the use of our innovative vaccine adjuvant technology. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and therefore contributing to protecting more people.

We announced on 14 April that GSK has joined forces with Sanofi, bringing together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies in an unprecedented collaboration to fight COVID-19. The two companies will combine innovative technologies to develop an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to enter clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and, if successful and subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021. This would be a significantly faster timeline than for normal vaccine development and teams from both companies are starting work on this urgently. 

One of the important parts of this collaboration is our combined scale. Both companies bring significant manufacturing capacity and whilst we have a lot of work to do, given this is at an early stage of development, we believe that, if successful, we will be able to make hundreds of millions of doses annually by the end of next year. Both GSK and Sanofi have a long history of making our vaccines available to people all around the world and we are committed to making any vaccine that is developed through this collaboration affordable and through mechanisms that offer fair access for all people.

In addition to Sanofi, we are also collaborating with the University of Queensland, Clover Biopharmaceuticals and Xiamen Innovax Biotech Co., Ltd. We believe that more than one vaccine will be needed and we’re hoping that there will be a number of successful vaccines developed with our pandemic adjuvant technology. 

On 19 June, the scientific collaboration with Clover, using GSK’s pandemic adjuvant in combination with COVID-19 vaccine candidate SCB-2019, moved into phase I clinical trials. Over the next few months, we expect to see data from many of these collaborations.

On 7 July, we announced a new collaboration with Canadian biopharmaceutical company, Medicago, to develop and evaluate a COVID-19 candidate vaccine combining Medicago’s recombinant Coronavirus Virus-Like Particles (CoVLP) with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant system. CoVLPs mimic the structure of the virus responsible for COVID-19 disease, allowing them to be recognised by the immune system. The companies will use Medicago’s innovative plant-based production technology to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine antigen. This innovative technology uses the leaves of a plant as bioreactors to produce the protein for use in the CoVLP vaccine candidate. It is highly scalable and can support the production of large amounts of vaccine in a significantly shortened timeline. The vaccine candidate will enter into Phase I clinical trials in mid-July.

We have confirmed our intention to manufacture 1 billion doses of our pandemic vaccine adjuvant system, in 2021, to support the development of multiple adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine candidates. This follows the completion of a review conducted across our global supply network. We will manufacture, fill, and finish adjuvant for use in COVID-19 vaccines at sites in the UK, US, Canada, and Europe.

Overall GSK does not expect to profit from our portfolio of collaborations for COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic. As any short-term profit generated will be invested in support of coronavirus related research and long-term pandemic preparedness, either through GSK’s internal investments, or with external partners. Making our adjuvant available to the world’s poorest countries will also be a key part of our efforts, including donations of this adjuvant, by working with governments and the global institutions that prioritise access. 

Our approach to pricing and making our adjuvant available

We have announced our approach to pricing and making our adjuvant available as part of our COVID-19 vaccine collaborations. Here, we explain some of the thinking behind it.

What is an adjuvant?

What is an adjuvant?

An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, thereby creating a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. The use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it can reduce the amount of antigen required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and made available to more people. 

Screening and research into new medicines

In addition to Vaccines we are also supporting screening and research into potential medicines for COVID-19.

In April we announced a collaboration with Vir Biotechnology to use Vir’s monoclonal antibody platform technology to accelerate existing and identify new anti-viral antibodies that could be used as therapeutic or preventative options for COVID-19. Subject to regulatory review, the companies plan to proceed directly into a phase 2 clinical trial within the next three to five months.

GSK is also evaluating its marketed pharmaceutical products and medicines in development to determine if any could be used beyond their current indications in response to the pandemic. This includes medicines with potential direct anti-viral activity and those with possible utility in prevention or treatment of secondary complications of COVID-19.

Following this evaluation, we started a phase II clinical trial in May 2020 at sites in the United States (US) to assess whether one of our medicines currently in development – a monoclonal antibody – can help treat patients who are affected by secondary complications associated with COVID-19. In addition to the US, we intend to conduct the trial at sites in Europe, South America, and Africa.

GSK is a member of the collaborative research effort, the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator. The aim of the Accelerator is to bring pharmaceutical companies and expert academic institutions into coordinated research programs, with the aim of bringing the most promising molecules forward that could be used to treat cases of COVID-19. GSK will contribute by making available compounds from its libraries for screening for activity against COVID-19.

What is antibody therapy?

What is antibody therapy?

Our immune system fights infections by recognising antigens on the surface of invading viruses and bacteria. It makes antibodies to destroy antigens. Antibody therapy uses monoclonal antibodies which are produced, or cloned, from immune cells in a lab. By targeting specific antigens, they could help our immune system fight diseases such as COVID-19.

Helping frontline health workers and offering expertise

GSK is donating $10 million to The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, created by the UN Foundation and WHO, to support WHO and partners to prevent, detect, and manage the pandemic, particularly where the needs are the greatest. Amongst its objectives, the fund will enable distribution of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline health workers. GSK is also donating surplus reagents to support diagnostic testing to several countries and is preparing to do the same for surplus PPE.

We have also initiated new volunteering processes for people working at the company, to enable those with medical expertise to provide support to frontline health workers, whilst at the same time ensuring we protect supply and development of our medicines and vaccines. Initiatives have also been started to use salesforce personnel to help with the delivery of PPE and testing equipment, and for specialists, such as procurement leaders, to work with national governments on developing supply chains.

Taking action to deliver high-demand consumer healthcare products

GSK Consumer Healthcare is prioritising actions in its supply chain to deliver more products that are in high demand, due to COVID-19. This includes increasing production for pain relief brands such as Panadol and multi-vitamins and dietary supplements such as Emergen-C and Centrum.

GSK Consumer Healthcare has also entered into a collaboration with Mammoth Biosciences to develop a consumer-friendly test for active COVID-19, using CRISPR technology. The two companies have started work on the test and are aiming to have a device submitted for FDA Emergency Use Authorization before the end of 2020.

Supporting and strengthening UK COVID-19 testing capability 

In April 2020, GSK joined with AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge to create a state-of-the-art, high-throughput testing laboratory in Cambridge. This Centre complements the Lighthouse Centres’ testing efforts and will support the UK Government’s comprehensive COVID-19 plan of “test, track, and trace.” In particular, the Cambridge Testing Centre is introducing state-of-the-art robotics, automation, and other diagnostic innovations to optimise COVID-19 testing. In the long-term, these innovations will inform and strengthen the UK’s diagnostics capability.

Further actions and updates

We will provide regular updates on our progress and our efforts to support the global response to COVID-19. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will take further actions to develop our response to the pandemic, including ideas and support for long-term, global pandemic preparedness. In doing so, we will continue to put the needs of patients and our people first at all times.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, International, Local, Travel0 Comments

Reverse story of need for negative COVID-19 test certificate to enter Antigua

Reverse story of need for negative COVID-19 test certificate to enter Antigua

by Bennette Roach

We are pleased to say we rush to reverse a story where we hurried yesterday the headline “Travelers to face Negative COVID-19 Test to enter Antigua”, from a Montserrat GIU release.

We dutifully published,While entering Montserrat has taken on visa-styled requirements to enter the island, leaving Montserrat is equally involved as health certificates become necessary to enter Antigua.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services is notifying travelers from Montserrat to Antigua, of the need to have a negative COVID-19 test prior to traveling.

At 1.45 p.m. today Premier Farrell reiterated the information in the Government release which three hours later we discovered the following news from Antigua News Room which completely contradicts the information confirmed by the  Hon Premier Farrell in his press conference where he announced the reduction of conditions resulting in full lockdown and curfews including the closure of the borders of Montserrat to travel in and out of Montserrat.

The Cabinet has agreed to establish what is known as “a travel bubble” that will allow citizens from identified states to travel to Antigua without the necessity to have Covid-19 tests undertaken and certificates presented upon entry.

The citizens of the O.E.C.S. and Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Jamaica will be accorded the privilege of being included in this “bubble”. Reciprocity is also deemed to be a requirement. The number of infected persons in these jurisdictions is deemed sufficiently low so as not to cause a threat, although the citizens of these CARICOM countries, upon entry, will be made to undergo non-invasive temperature tests. Only two of the states have opened their borders since the Covid-19 epidemic.

All other persons of every citizenship who intend to travel to Antigua, after yesterday, July 7, 2020, are required to undertake a Covid-19 test that is no more than 7 days old prior to travel, and to have a certificate showing that they have tested negative.

 



Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Features, International, Local, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

visa-trave

COVID-19 forces Visa-styled requirements to enter Montserrat

by Bennette Roach

As the Government of Montserrat continues to remove and amend COVID-19 suppression restrictions, and the phased reopening of the economy continues, a release from the Government Information Unit (GIU) advises:  

“As of Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. the maximum number of persons allowed to gather in a public place will increase from 10 to 50.

  This is outlined in the ‘Public Health (COVID-19 Suppression) (No.4) Order, S.R.O. 44 of 2020’ which will be in effect until August 4, 2020.

Additionally, the categories of persons allowed to travel to Montserrat now “includes a person” who owns a habitable house or home in Montserrat.  However, persons traveling to Montserrat must register by completing and submitting the declaration form on the government of Montserrat website (www.gov.ms) no later than three days of their intended date of travel.”

Aircraft owners have seemingly (non-criminalised) responsibilities

The owner of an aircraft or vessel must also ensure that the person has been granted approval to travel to Montserrat prior to departing. All persons arriving on Montserrat must self-quarantine for 14-days commencing on the date of arrival.

The Order also “makes provisions for child care centers, nursery schools, primary schools, secondary school, tertiary school, and any other school(s) to open.”

“However, the Head or owner of the school must submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  The Head or owner of the school must also ensure that staff, students and customers practice social distancing, and comply with any direction or guideline issued by the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions. Failure to comply with the directives from the Minister of Health may result in the school being ordered to close.

“As it relates to the operations of gyms and sports clubs, these entities will be allowed to offer services, but must first submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  Once approved to operate, owners of gyms and sports clubs must ensure that customers maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from each other and must comply with any direction of guideline from the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions.

“Although the six feet physical distance is specified for gyms and sports clubs, the Order also makes provisions for ‘contact sporting’ activities but individuals must comply with the restriction on the number of persons allowed to gather.” 

The release concludes that all other measures which were previously announced guiding the operations of businesses such as restaurants, cookshops, barbershops, beauty salons, bars, spas and bus, and taxi operators still remain in effect.

For those so able, the full S.R.O may be downloaded at http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SRO-44-of-2020-Public-Health-Covid-19-Suppression-No.4-Order-.pdf

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

usatoday-logo

Power outages and damage reported after 5.4 earthquake hits southern Puerto Rico

Associated Press Published – May 2, 2020 – reprint

by Danica Coto

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico— A 5.4-magnitude earthquake hit near southern Puerto Rico on Saturday, briefly knocking out power and jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit at a shallow depth of 5.6 miles near the city of Ponce and the towns of Guanica and Guayanilla, where hundreds of homes were destroyed by a quake in early January that killed one person and caused millions of dollars in damage.

Reports of damage were still trickling in on Saturday, with at least one second-story balcony crashing in the southern city of Ponce, spokeswoman Inés Rivera told The Associated Press. Meanwhile, cracks in homes were reported in Guayanilla.

“Everything shook really hard,” spokesman Danny Hernández said by phone.

A police officer, wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, removes debris caused by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Saturday, May 2, 2020. The quake hit near southern Puerto Rico, jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year. Carlos Giusti, AP

Meanwhile, in Guánica, Mayor Santos Seda told the AP that no major damage has been reported so far, but noted that between five to 10 people remain in a shelter since the 6.4-magnitude quake that hit in January.

“Thank God everyone is OK,” he said. “The infrastructure is already weak.”

From January: 950 earthquakes have hit Puerto Rico so far this year. Why? Blame it on an ‘earthquake swarm’

Several aftershocks hit Puerto Rico’s southern region, including a 4.9-magnitude one.

Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, said in a phone interview that while it’s understandable many people are afraid and surprised by the most recent earthquake, it’s not unusual given the seismic activity that began in the region in late December.

“In the long run, it’s decreasing, but you can have peaks,” he said, adding that he expects strong aftershocks to continue.

The earthquake struck as Puerto Ricans are ordered to remain home as part of a two-month lockdown to help curb coronavirus cases. Gov. Wanda Vázquez tweeted that rescue crews were fanning out across the area and that she would shortly be traveling there to meet with those affected in person. 

A police officer, wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, walks past debris caused by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Saturday, May 2, 2020. The quake hit near southern Puerto Rico, jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year. Carlos Giusti, AP

“If your infrastructure is damaged, you must leave with your face mask on and your emergency backpack,” she said as she urged people to remain calm.

But nerves are already frayed in many parts of the island as Puerto Rico continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, a string of strong earthquakes and the coronavirus.

Silvestre Alicea, a 67-year-old man who moved back to Puerto Rico from New York upon retiring, lost his home in January’s earthquake and is still living with his sister in Guanica. 

“This is unreal,” he said, adding that some neighbors have left the area to stay with relatives elsewhere and that many, including a security guard who worked all night, are now sitting nervously in their balconies. “He hasn’t slept.”

Alicea, however, said he decided to knock down a couple of breadfruits from a nearby tree as the aftershocks continue: “I’m taking it easy. There’s nothing else you can do.” 

A resident, wearing a protective face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, makes photos of the damage caused by a 5.4-magnitude earthquake, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Saturday, May 2, 2020. The quake hit near southern Puerto Rico, jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year. Carlos Giusti

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Earthquake, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

COVID19-Report-April-12

Montserrat increases its Caribbean record as the highest per capita (10000) as it records two new cases and one recovery

As of April 12, 2020

Press Release: April 12, 2020 – GIU, Davy Hill, Montserrat

Montserrat has recorded its first full recovery; while two persons have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) has received the results of eight samples recently dispatched to CARPHA Reference Laboratory for testing.  The results returned with two (2) of the eight (8) samples, testing positive for COVID-19.

The new positives include one hospitalized individual while the other is in self–isolation at their residence.

Among the six (6) samples testing negative was the second repeat test of one of the islands previously confirmed cases. This means that this individual is Montserrat’s first full recovery from COVID-19.

Therefore, Montserrat has recorded 11 confirmed cases overall—10 confirmed cases on the island, nine of which are active cases, as one has now recovered.

While the recovery of one patient represents a win in the fight against COVID-19, the Ministry noted that the battle is far from over. Residents of Montserrat are therefore advised to remain aware of the symptoms of the disease, and to contact the St. Peter’s Clinic at 491- 5436 or 496-9724 or the Glendon Hospital Casualty Department at 491-2802 or 491-2836 should they experience fever, cough, difficulty breathing or any other ‘flu-like’ symptoms.

The public is also encouraged to continue to practice the highly effective public health measures of hand hygiene, social distancing and cough etiquette, and to strictly adhere to the seven (7) day full lockdown which commences tomorrow Monday, April 13 at 12:00 a.m.   These measures will keep us all safe from COVID-19.

Posted in COVID-19, Featured, Government Notices, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Premier-Farrel-on-his-birthday-

Covid – 19 fears and doubts

by Bennette Roach

MOHS national influenza committee

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has evidently touched most of the world and has taken place in many headlines with coverage throughout each day. And Montserrat no less, as the call for more action out of concern and the accusation of mismanagement.

The month began with a release from the Government Information (GIU) that said Officials from the Ministry of Health, Port Authority, Integrated Border Security, Customs and Excise, the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS), Access Division, Airport and the Office of the Premier were engaged in the discussions.

These officials made up the National Influenza Pandemic and Preparedness Committee (NIPPPC) which had met to review the government’s action plan and risk mitigation for COVID-19, and to recap the evolving global and regional situation.

The release said that the NIPPPC discussed various scenarios and further actions and mitigation measures required from the various sectors, especially ahead of the St. Patrick’s festival; which is a high tourist season for the island. That the Ministry of Health is also in communication with local non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) such as Red Cross, The Montserrat Association of Persons with Disabilities and the Montserrat Senior Citizens Association; to ensure that the most vulnerable in the community are protected.

Since then a number of key exercises occurred including completion of training of emergency personnel in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), continued distribution of educational literature and continued training in handwashing and proper sanitation of special interest groups such as children and caretakers of the elderly. Situational updates and strategic response meetings also continue with local and regional partners; Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Public Health England. 

One writer on the matter got our attention: “After speaking to numerous infectious disease experts over the past few days, I’m starting to wonder: is our reaction to COVID-19 the exact reaction an adversary in an information war would hope for? Said differently: is the COVID-19 story the Information Age Pearl Harbor we’ve been expecting?

coronavirus cells…

Look at the trillions of dollars of value taken from the stock market. Look at the billions of dollars in canceled travel. Look at the interrupted supply chains. All of this for the “common cold” virus that, in truth, is deadly… but no more deadly than the flu. While the medical community will not definitively say what COVID-19 exactly is (or is not), according to the CDC, the WHO, and other credible sources, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is approximately the same as the flu, and young people are less likely to get it.

No one is less of a conspiracy theorist than I am. I’m not trying to minimize the pain and suffering caused by COVID-19. However, the more I learn about this disease, the less scared of it I get, and the more suspicious I get about the origin of the story. Is anyone else wondering about this?

Another story that caught our interest which spoke to the outbreak and how it began. It said, “Finally, you may have heard that although the disease is highly infectious, it is dangerous only to the elderly or to those who have a compromised immune system. The official lethality rate is approximately 2% or so… You will have been told that it is an influenza-like illness that can in severe cases cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death.

“All of that is a bunch of lies concocted by the Chinese state with the tacit support of the U.S. deep state and its friends in the European Union, Russia and Australia, and spread by the docile media in all of those countries…”

But on our search for the integrity and the veracity of the story, it turned out to be a well written false, ‘fake’ story. “Let them come. Let them do with me as they will. I no longer care,” the article concluded.

Soon, as the virus continued to spread to other countries first heard about in China and governments began to see this as a threat to the world’s economy and its existence; as stock markets tumbled and gatherings, sports, and cancellations of sporting games, festivals, closing of borders and travel severely curtailed, the Caribbean included and the fear of what is referred to as the dreaded virus, the Montserrat St. Patrick’s Day festivities came into focus.

Several hundreds of people began arriving with its problems of inoperable ferry trips because of high seas, the call for the consideration of canceling the festivities grew loud and louder doubts were expressed and whispers turned into questions directed at the Governor, Premier, and Ministers.

On February 28 Attorney at Law Jean Kelsick wrote to the Governor suggesting, “…immediate and serious consideration to whether St Patrick’s Week should be celebrated this year in the teeth of a deadly virus that may be on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.”

A few days later the Government released information as above about the formation of the NIPPPC. It was also after that the virus infestation grew and as we have shown mostly on our Facebook page and the website, St. Patrick’s celebrations and festivities were canceled. In Ireland, San Francisco, Boston, etc. and finally after biggest arrivals of guests for the Montserrat festival, and the announcement of the first confirmed case of the virus infection in neighboring Antigua, along with an announcement from Emerald Isle, N.C., (USA) which said: “Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival Cancelled.”

Social media lit up and the misinformation moved quickly. That got an announcement from the government, but it also brought the issue of Montserrat canceling its own festival more to the fore. That was yesterday, but it also increased the need for the possible cancellation of the festival; and, late today we received a copy of a letter signed by Dr. Lowell Lewis, the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce and the Montserrat Bar Association. It called “…on Government to take immediate steps to bring the situation under control and make a prompt and full public statement on the matter.”

It noted 16 points outlining what they called, “government’s continued mismanagement of the coronavirus problem.” See the letter on page enumerating the concerns about the virus as it relates to Montserrat.

Premier Taylor-Farrell

In late news today, Premier Taylor-Farrell issued a statement updating plans to address the growing problem or concerns which evolved out the single reported case in Antigua.

The Premier sought to comfort residents that the plans are in operation. “Although Montserrat has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, my Minister of Health, Chief Medical Officer and the entire Health Team have been working tirelessly to prevent, detect, manage and contain any potential outbreak in Montserrat as a matter of public health emergency,” he said.

He said his government is making sure that the right steps are being taken to try to prevent and minimize the impact of the virus. He stressed further: “I am keenly aware that Montserrat’s national security and economic prosperity require meaningful investment in public health security.  So, on my direction, the Government is deploying the full range of resources at our disposal to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Montserrat.”

He advised that people who have visited affected countries and subsequently developed symptoms of the coronavirus that they should stay at home and contact the Casualty Department at the Glendon Hospital on 491 2802 or 491 2836. See the letter here …

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, Legal, Letters, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

Please Support The Montserrat Reporter

This is bottom line for us! Unless we receive your support, our effort will not be able to continue. Whatever and however you can, please support The Montserrat Reporter in whatever amount you can (and whatever frequency) – and it only takes a minute.
Thank you

TMR print pages

East Caribbean Central Bank – Career Vacancies

Newsletter

Archives

FLOW - Back to School

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d