Demand surges for Regeneron drug that Trump claims ‘cures’ Covid-19

Doctors say patients are seeking to participate in drug’s trials as Regeneron’s stock soar after president touts treatment

Doctors are reporting a spike in enquiries by patients for an experimental Covid-19 drug cocktail after Donald Trump called the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals drug “a blessing from God” that is a “cure” for the virus.

Two doctors involved in the trial of the drug told Reuters that more patients are asking to participate in the drug’s trials, though medical experts have pointed out the drug, REGN-COV2, is still too early in its trial period to confirm that it can help treat Covid-19.

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Provider of Trump Covid drug is president’s golf friend

Link to drug company boss raises questions about ‘cure’ claims and exclusive access

New questions have emerged over the circumstances in which Donald Trump was given an experimental antibody drug cocktail produced by a golfing acquaintance to treat his coronavirus infection.

As Trump wrongly hailed his treatment – which included a drug called REGN-COV2 produced by Regeneron – as a “cure”, it emerged that the company’s chief executive, Leonard Schleiffer, is a member of the Trump National golf club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, and had met the president in May to talk about drugs his company was developing.

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NHS coronavirus tests threatened by Roche supply chain glitch

Pharmaceutical firm reports ‘significant drop in processing capacity’ of reagents, kits and swabs

Concerns have been raised over the supply of vital testing materials for a range of conditions, including Covid-19, following a supply chain problem with the pharmaceutical company Roche.

On Tuesday, Roche said it had experienced a “very significant drop” in its processing capacity due to a problem with its Sussex distribution centre, the only one in the UK. It has been reported that the shortage includes vital reagents, screening kits and swabs.

Related: UK government ‘thwarting independent labs’ efforts to step up Covid-19 testing’

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GSK tells UK staff: turn off Covid test-and-trace app while at work

Drugs company says infection controls at some of its sites are so secure the app is not needed

The pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline has told staff to switch off the contact tracing function that allows the NHS test-and-trace app to monitor the spread of Covid-19 while at work in case it is “disruptive” to business, the Guardian has learned.

GSK, which is among the companies working on a vaccine for Covid-19, sent the instruction to employees at its research and development labs and some of its manufacturing sites.

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Trump’s steroid Covid treatment adds to confusion over health

Dexamethasone ‘normally reserved for people going into respiratory failure’, says expert

The latest intervention from Donald Trump’s medical team has been to put the president on dexamethasone, a steroid that is proven, thanks to the UK’s Recovery trial, to benefit Covid-19 patients who are having breathing difficulties.

But the decision to administer the steroid now has only added to the confusion surrounding the president’s state of health. Normally, dexamethasone is reserved for patients who have been ill for at least a week and whose oxygen levels are low.

Related: Trump doctors say he had two oxygen dips but is ‘improving’ and may return to White House tomorrow – live

Related: Trump and Covid: what we now know about the week he caught the virus

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Anti-Covid treatments being given to Trump are still unproven, say experts

Neither remdesivir nor REGN-COV2 have completed large-scale randomised trials, say UK scientists

Scientists still lack conclusive proof that the two anti-Covid drugs given to Donald Trump are clinically effective.

UK researchers point out that both medicines – remdesivir and REGN-COV2 – have still to complete the large-scale, randomised trials needed to demonstrate fully their ability to counter Covid-19 in patients. And many have criticised US authorities for their failures to carry out such trials. This has undermined efforts to find effective medicines to treat people affected by the disease.

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UK doing more than most to help poor get Covid vaccine, study finds

Campaign scoring countries for global access efforts calls for more British transparency

The UK is doing more than most countries to support access to Covid vaccines for the poorest populations in the world, but it is not transparent enough about the deals it is doing at home, according to an international aid organisation launching a tracker.

The One campaign has given countries and pharmaceutical companies scores for the efforts they have made to ensure the poorest get vaccines. In the vaccine access test no country or company scores green, the top rating, classed as aiding global access to vaccines.

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Pharmacies in England pause online flu jab bookings as demand soars

Boots, LloydsPharmacy and Well Pharmacy report unprecedented take-up and many chemists run out of stock

Pharmacies across England are struggling to keep up with the demand for the flu vaccine, pausing online bookings and limiting it to those most in need.

The country’s three largest pharmacy chains – Boots, LloydsPharmacy and Well Pharmacy – have all reported unprecedented demand after a government vaccination campaign to reduce the pressure on the NHS during a second wave of Covid-19.

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Australia’s drug regulator TGA approves Covid tests that deliver results in 15 minutes

Healthcare workers and health departments will be among the first to use the rapid antigen tests

Australia’s drugs regulator has approved four rapid antigen Covid-19 tests for distribution throughout the country with health workers and departments among the first to use the tests than can deliver results in 15 minutes.

The Australian pathology and pharmaceutical companies approved to import and distribute the tests are required to provide the Therapeutic Goods Administration with data about the efficacy of the tests over time. Supply of the tests will be limited to accredited laboratories, medical practitioners, healthcare professionals in residential or aged care facilities, and to government health departments.

Related: NSW lifts more Covid restrictions as border reopens with South Australia

Related: Covid map Australia: tracking new cases, coronavirus stats and live data by state

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Beware of big pharma in rush for Covid-19 vaccine | Letter

Heidi Chow on why the pharmaceutical industry must not be left in the driving seat to supply an effective Covid-19 vaccine

The biggest gamble that governments are taking is not on specific vaccine candidates, but on the pharmaceutical industry itself (The Covid-19 vaccine gamble: where bets have been placed and why, 11 September). The pharmaceutical industry has long been criticised for defending intellectual property rights and profiteering. For decades, countless patients the world over have been denied access to life-saving treatments and vaccines because of high prices propped up by patent monopolies.

Once an effective vaccine is discovered, we will need open sharing of the technological process so that as many suppliers as possible can make it, to ensure an adequate supply across the world. This is not a time for monopolies. While governments leave big pharma in the driving seat, there will be vaccine scarcity and the global race to hoard vaccines will deplete global stocks, leaving very little – if any – for the WHO to supply to poorer countries. This is not just morally wrong, it is also counterproductive, because we will only be safe if everyone is safe.
Heidi Chow
Global Justice Now

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Oxford University resumes Covid-19 vaccine trials

Trials of vaccine being developed with AstraZeneca had been paused after participant fell ill

The closely watched trial of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine that was halted after a participant fell ill is to resume in the UK.

The University of Oxford, which has partnered with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to pilot the study, said that the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had recommended that its trials resume after an independent committee review of safety data triggered a pause last week.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

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Show more empathy to boost confidence in vaccines, scientists told

Expert behind vaccine confidence report points to halting of Oxford Covid trial as example

Doctors and scientists need to show more empathy towards volunteers in coronavirus vaccine trials who fall ill if the public is to have full confidence in the safety of the vaccines being developed, say experts.

The temporary halting of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca trial after one volunteer in the UK was admitted to hospital was good news, not bad, said Heidi Larson, who leads the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as it showed that scientists and the company were putting safety first.

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Oxford Covid-19 vaccine is still possible this year, says AstraZeneca chief

Pharmaceutical firm’s boss says 2020 deadline possible if regulators move fast

AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine could still be available by the end of the year, or early next year, according to the company’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, despite clinical trials being paused after a volunteer fell ill.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which are jointly developing the vaccine and testing it on 50,000 to 60,000 people around the world, halted trials on Wednesday to investigate the “potentially unexpected illness” of one participant.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

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Oxford Covid vaccine trial suspension: what happens next?

Tests have been paused after a UK volunteer became ill. How will it affect the search for a cure?

One of the volunteers in the UK has become ill and it is crucial that the researchers find out whether this could be related to the vaccine. This is not uncommon in vaccine trials – and in fact it is said to be the second time it has happened with this vaccine . Very large trials are essential to pick up any rare side-effects. Something that affects one in 10,000 people, for instance, will probably not be detected in the early trials of just a few thousand.

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The Oxford University AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial has been paused – should we be worried?

Is this the end for hopes of an early breakthrough in the race to find a coronavirus drug?

The halt in development of the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine due to a possible adverse reaction in a trial participant has triggered fears of a delay in finding a solution to coronavirus restrictions.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca, the company working with the academic team to produce the vaccine, said the voluntary pause is “routine”.

Related: Oxford University Covid vaccine trial put on hold due to adverse reaction in participant

Related: Why are Australian church leaders opposing the Oxford coronavirus vaccine?

Related: Covid-19: ‘possible’ Oxford vaccine data will be put before regulators this year

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Oxford University Covid vaccine trial put on hold due to possible adverse reaction in participant

A spokesman for AstraZeneca, the company working on the coronavirus vaccine, said pausing trials was common during vaccine development

The development of a promising Covid-19 vaccine has been put on hold due to a possible adverse reaction in a trial participant.

A spokesman for AstraZeneca, the company working with a team from Oxford University, told the Guardian the trial has been stopped to review the “potentially unexplained illness” in one of the participants.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

Related: Let’s get real. No vaccine will work as if by magic, returning us to ‘normal’ | Jeremy Farrar

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GSK and Sanofi to start human trials of potential Covid-19 vaccine

World’s largest vaccine makers to begin testing on people in US with eye on rollout in early 2021

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are to start testing their protein-based Covid-19 vaccine on humans for the first time, following promising results in earlier studies.

GSK, the world’s largest vaccine maker, and the French drugmaker Sanofi joined forces in April to work on an effective treatment to halt the devastating pandemic.

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AstraZeneca expands Covid-19 vaccine deal as final trials begin

UK drugmaker and Oxford Biomedica to produce more of potential coronavirus product

AstraZeneca has expanded an agreement with Oxford Biomedica to scale up production of its potential Covid-19 vaccine, as the race continues to find an effective prevention for the deadly virus.

Under the supply agreement, the Oxford-based cell and gene therapy firm said it would produce tens of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s potential vaccine, AZD1222, for 18 months, which could be extended by a further 18 months into 2023.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?

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Best not to look like your passport photo | Brief letters

AstraZeneca | Sizes of cities | Starlings | Mickey Mouse degrees | Passport photos

As a participant in the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine trial, I’d be put out if AstraZeneca rushed through a deal with Donald Trump in time for the US presidential election (Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine firm says it is not in talks with Trump, 24 August). AstraZeneca must issue a less ambiguous rebuttal of the reports of such a deal. If it doesn’t, I’ll withdraw from the trial.
Paddy Clark
Chiddingfold, Surrey

• Britain’s most populous city in its own right is in fact Birmingham (Letters, 24 August). While Greater London is Britain’s biggest urban area, only the City of London and Westminster have city status. Manchester comes fourth (after Leeds and Sheffield), though this may depend on which boroughs you include – not Salford, surely?
Matthew J Smith
New Malden, London

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Oleandrin: Trump allies pitch extract from poisonous plant to fight Covid

Experts raise concern over compound that has not been proven safe but could reach public as dietary supplement

Allies of Donald Trump have promoted a plant extract called oleandrin to people seeking to ward off Covid-19. The plant the extract is derived from, oleander, is poisonous and there is no proof the compound is either safe or effective to treat or prevent Covid-19, experts say.

But unlike other unproven and potentially dangerous Covid-19 “cures” pitched by Donald Trump and his supporters, including the prescription antimalarial hydroxychloroquine, experts fear this compound could easily reach the public as a dietary supplement.

Related: What is blood plasma therapy and does it work for Covid-19?

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AstraZeneca starts Covid-19 antibody drug trial in UK

Volunteers are receiving doses of drug, which has potential both as a vaccine and a treatment

The pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca has started a clinical trial of a drug to help prevent and treat Covid-19, with the first volunteers already receiving doses.

The company, which is separately developing a potential Covid-19 vaccine together with scientists at Oxford University, said the drug, known as AZD7442, is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies.

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Six of the most promising treatments for Covid-19 so far

While a cure-all drug or therapy is a long way off, there have been some breakthroughs

Many different drugs and therapies are being trialled and used on patients with Covid-19. There are some positive results, which may be beginning to bring the hospital death toll down, but there is still a long way to go towards something that will cure all comers. These are some of the most promising.

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Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine firm denies Trump talks

AstraZeneca says it has not discussed ‘emergency use authorisation’ with the US

The company manufacturing the Oxford University coronavirus vaccine has denied it is in talks with the Trump administration about fast-tracking its vaccine for emergency use ahead of November’s presidential elections.

With both Russia and China pressing ahead with inoculations involving experimental vaccines yet to pass final efficacy and safety trials, the Trump administration has become increasingly frustrated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which the president has tried to suggest is slowing approval of a vaccine for “political reasons”.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will we have a coronavirus vaccine?

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Here’s everything you need to know about the potential Oxford University Covid vaccine

The vaccine is designed to mimic the coronavirus and train the immune system to react if a person is later infected

The vaccine developed and tested by a team at Oxford University is one of the most promising of the many candidates being developed around the world to protect against Covid-19. Australia has now signed a letter of intent with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to supply Australians with the vaccine if it clears safety and effectiveness trials, with the prime minister now saying it won’t be compulsory but will be encouraged.

Here’s what you need to know about the vaccine.

Related: Covid vaccine tracker: when will we have a coronavirus vaccine?

Related: Global report: WHO warns against dangers of ‘vaccine nationalism’

A Phase II/III trial aims to enrol up to 10,560 adults and children across the UK.

A Phase III trial in the US is looking for 30,000 participants.

Brazil started a Phase III trial of the vaccine in June, which will enrol 5,000 volunteers.

A team in South Africa is looking to enrol 2,000 people to trial the vaccine.

Related: Will a vaccine or recovery from the virus give us long-term immunity to Covid-19?

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‘Vaccine nationalism’ stands in the way of an end to the Covid-19 crisis | Stephen Buranyi

Russia is not the only country pursuing domestic politics over global cooperation in the fight against coronavirus

We’re all waiting for a coronavirus vaccine, but when Russia announced earlier this week that it would be the first country to approve one, nobody rejoiced. Scientists pointed out clinical testing wasn’t complete, the vaccine had been tested on fewer than 100 people. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he had “serious doubts” it would work. It was a transparent and potentially dangerous PR stunt. “It’s ridiculous,” the head of Russia’s Association of Clinical Research Organizations told the magazine Science, “I feel only shame for our country”.

The mysterious vaccine may turn out not to be dangerous. The technology is similar to several approved vaccines, and Russia has said its release will be limited to healthcare workers and other at-risk populations until further trials are completed. China similarly approved an in-trial vaccine for military use with essentially no fanfare. But it’s unlikely to work – most vaccines don’t. The point for Russia appears to be to pass off a limited-release in-trial vaccine as completed in order to score a little nationalistic dopamine hit. (The project is even named Sputnik V, suggesting it is a successor to the Soviet rockets that bested the US in the space race.)

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UK agrees deals for 90m doses of two potential coronavirus vaccines

Government secures early access to those being developed by Novavax and Janssen

The UK government has reached agreements it says will give British citizens early access to 90m doses of two more potential Covid-19 vaccines.

The vaccines are being developed by the US biotech company Novavax and the pharmaceutical business Janssen, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson and has its headquarters in Belgium.

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The Guardian view on Brexit bureaucracy: tied up in red tape | Editorial

Businesses already struggling with the fallout from Covid-19 will be forced to deal with a mountain of new bureaucracy in the middle of a deep recession

The government did not quite achieve the Brexit breakthrough it was seeking on Friday, when there was hope that a fast-tracked trade agreement with Japan might be reached. But it seems likely that a deal, essentially replicating one signed by the EU and Japan last year, will be done by the end of the month. Some kind of morale booster for Britain’s battered and bruised businesses would certainly be welcome.

As the clock runs down to the end of the transition period on 31 December, ministers are no longer bothering to offer the false hope of a relatively frictionless trade agreement with the EU. Even a Canada-style free trade deal will mean a vast infrastructure of compliance and checks: permits for lorry drivers to enter Kent, huge customs clearance centres and tracking apps are all in the mix. The government estimates that, from 2021, there will be over 400m extra customs checks a year on goods going to and from the EU.

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Trump has no problem letting billionaires profit off the pandemic | Robert Reich

The president thinks that as long as they buoy the stock market, they’re helping the US economy – and that’s pure rubbish

Since the start of the pandemic, American billionaires have been cleaning up. As more than 50 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance, billionaires became $637bn richer. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth has ballooned 59%. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’s, 39%. Walmart’s Walton family has added $25bn.

Big drug company CEOs and their major investors are doing nicely, too. Since the start of the pandemic, Big Pharma has raised prices on over 250 prescription drugs, 61 of which are being used to treat Covid-19.

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Up to 750,000 UK Covid test kits recalled due to safety concerns

Products made by diagnostics firm Randox removed from care homes and individuals

the Up to 750,000 unused coronavirus testing kits manufactured by diagnostics company Randox have been recalled from care homes and individuals due to concerns about safety standards.

At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is understood to have operated a haphazard policy for obtaining testing kits and it faced criticism for the purchase of millions of kits that turned out to be significantly less effective than originally claimed by pharmaceutical companies.

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Australia experiencing critical shortage of antidepressants, contraceptives and HRT

Reasons for shortages are often unclear and substitutes, which are not subsidised by PBS, are prohibitively expensive

Australia is experiencing a critical shortage of key drugs including antidepressants, contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies, a situation that experts say highlights systemic problems with medicine supply in the country.

Most of the shortages appear unrelated to coronavirus disruptions, although in the case of the popular antidepressant Prozac, the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, cites “unexpected increase in demand” during the crisis. Other manufacturers refuse to detail reasons for the supply problems.

Related: Australian drugmakers hit by critical shortages at height of pandemic, inquiry hears

Related: Many doctors have colleagues they wouldn’t want to treat their own family | Ranjana Srivastava

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Covid-19: Gilead Sciences urged to study drug that showed promise with cats

Activists are calling on the pharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences to study a drug for the treatment of Covid-19 that showed promise in curing cats of a coronavirus.

The drug, called GS-441524, is chemically related to remdesivir, an antiviral also made by Gilead, and one of the only treatments to successfully shorten the duration of Covid-19 recovery.

Related: US secures world stock of key Covid-19 drug remdesivir

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UK warns drug firms to stockpile in case of Brexit disruption

Companies should ensure six weeks’ worth of drugs for end of transition period, DHSC says

Pharmaceutical companies should stockpile six weeks’ worth of drugs to guard against disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period, the government has said.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has written to medicine suppliers advising them to make boosting their reserves a priority.

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Coronavirus: UK signs deal for 60m doses of potential vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur could supply vaccine by early next year if it is successful

The government has signed a deal with the pharmaceutical firms GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur for 60m doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

If the vaccine proves successful, the UK could begin to vaccinate priority groups, such as frontline health and social care workers and those at increased risk from coronavirus, as early as the first half of next year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.

Related: Coronavirus vaccine tracker: how close are we to a vaccine?

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UK must ensure medicines replenished for Covid-19 second wave

The trade committee urged ministers to develop “parallel supply chains” as a solution

Britain needs to ensure its stockpile of medicines is replenished to deal with a second wave of coronavirus and any shocks to a supply chain dominated by China and India, the trade committee warned in a report released today.

The cross party committee said the pandemic had revealed that 70% of the active ingredients used in pharmaceuticals in the UK are made in China – while India manufactured “virtually all” the paracetamol in British shops.

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Covid-19 is Big Pharma’s chance to impress. But who’ll do best?

AstraZeneca and GSK both release results this week. But picking winners in the sector may be complicated

It was the press announcement heard around the world: a potential Covid-19 vaccine from the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca had not only been “tolerated” by patients, but “generated robust immune responses against the Sars-CoV-2 virus in all evaluated participants”. The project will now proceed to all-important phase 3 trials in Brazil and South Africa to test if it actually stops infection.

For a global population that has seen its movement curtailed and its health threatened, it was a welcome dose of good news. It is also a large feather in the cap for AstraZeneca, whose boss, Pascal Soriot, will unveil financial results for the first half of 2020 on Thursday.

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‘Major’ breakthrough in Covid-19 drug makes UK professors millionaires

Synairgen’s share price rises 540% on morning of news of successful drugs trial

Three professors at the University of Southampton school of medicine have this week made a “major breakthrough” in the treatment of coronavirus patients and become paper millionaires at the same time.

Almost two decades ago professors Ratko Djukanovic, Stephen Holgate and Donna Davis 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.

Epidemics of infectious diseases behave in different ways but the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed more than 50 million people is regarded as a key example of a pandemic that occurred in multiple waves, with the latter more severe than the first. It has been replicated – albeit more mildly – in subsequent flu pandemics.

Very proud of my husband’s efforts!!
He is the CSO of this company. He and has team have worked their socks off over the last 5 months to make this happen.

And the results are stunning! #COVID19 #Synairgen #SNG #clinicaltrials https://t.co/NThZDV1k0O

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The world needs a ‘people’s vaccine’ for coronavirus, not a big-pharma monopoly | Helen Clark and Winnie Byanyima

AstraZeneca and others should not own a lucrative patent on a medicine that is needed by poor as well as rich nations

See all our coronavirus coverage

• Helen Clark is a former prime minister of New Zealand and Winnie Byanyima is UN undersecretary general

To bring an end to the pandemic, the world needs a vaccine. Promising early trial results for the vaccine developed by Oxford University suggest we’re inching closer to discovering one.

Related: Oxford offers best hope for Covid-19 vaccine this year, MPs told

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GlaxoSmithKline makes bold move with £130m Covid-19 investment | Nils Pratley

GSK’s share price has been left standing by AstraZeneca’s high-risk success in cancer treatments

Monday’s most important vaccine news was the promising early data from the Oxford University and AstraZeneca coronavirus trial – “robust immune responses” is encouraging. But let’s not overlook other vaccine developments. The industry has been viewed for years as a dull subsector of the pharmaceutical business; now it is a whir of deal-making activity.

GlaxoSmithKline, already one of the world’s biggest vaccine makers, leaped into action by paying £130m for a 10% stake in German group CureVac, the company that briefly registered on President Trump’s radar (he suggested the US should buy the firm for its Covid-19 possibilities).

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GSK buys £130m stake in German coronavirus vaccine maker

Stake of 10% in CureVac is part of deal that could eventually be worth more than £800m

The British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has bought a 10% stake in a German biotech company that is a key player in the global race for a coronavirus vaccine as part of a deal that could eventually be worth more than £800m.

GSK on Monday said it would pay £130m for the stake in CureVac. GSK will also make a separate payment of £104m that will fund research into CureVac’s development of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines.

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UK ‘95% sure’ Russian hackers tried to steal coronavirus vaccine research

Minister says Britain and allies confident Russian intelligence was behind cyber-attacks

The UK security minister James Brokenshire has said Britain is “more than 95%” sure that Russian state-sponsored hackers targeted UK, US and Canadian organisations involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Brokenshire said the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and its counterparts in the other countries were confident “Russian intelligence agencies” were responsible for the attacks on drug companies and research groups.

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UK government orders halt to Randox Covid-19 tests over safety issues

Care homes and members of public told to immediately stop using firm’s kits

The UK government has instructed care homes and members of the public to immediately stop using coronavirus testing kits produced by a healthcare firm after safety problems were discovered.

Randox was awarded a £133m contract in March to produce the testing kits for England, Wales and Northern Ireland without any other firms being given the opportunity to bid for the work.

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WHO says trials show malaria and HIV drugs don’t cut Covid-19 hospital deaths

Hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir not found to help patients in hospital

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir for patients in hospital with Covid-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.

The setback came as WHO also reported more than 200,000 new cases globally of the disease for the first time in a single day. The US accounted for 53,213 of the total 212,326 new cases recorded on Friday, the WHO said.

Hydroxychloroquine, also known by its brand name, Plaquenil, is a drug used to treat malaria. It is a less toxic version of chloroquine, another malaria drug, which itself is related to quinine, an ingredient in tonic water.

Related: Oxford offers best hope for Covid-19 vaccine this year, MPs told

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Oxford offers best hope for Covid-19 vaccine this year, MPs told

University is leading rivals but first drugs may not work fully, says vaccine taskforce chair

Oxford University is leading the world in developing a vaccine against Covid-19 and offers the best chance of having something protective against the virus as we go into winter, MPs have been told.

Kate Bingham, chair of the UK vaccine taskforce, said she expected to have a vaccine “early next year” from one or more of the candidates, although it was possible the first vaccines might only “help alleviate the symptoms” so that people have a less serious bout of disease, rather than fully protecting them.

Related: ‘I felt guilty’: volunteer on signing up for Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial

Related: The Lancet’s editor: ‘The UK’s response to coronavirus is the greatest science policy failure for a generation’

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US secures world stock of key Covid-19 drug remdesivir

No other country will be able to buy remdesivir, which can help recovery from Covid-19, for next three months at least

The US has bought up virtually all the stocks for the next three months of one of the two drugs proven to work against Covid-19, leaving none for the UK, Europe or most of the rest of the world.

Experts and campaigners are alarmed both by the US unilateral action on remdesivir and the wider implications, for instance in the event of a vaccine becoming available. The Trump administration has already shown that it is prepared to outbid and outmanoeuvre all other countries to secure the medical supplies it needs for the US.

Related: Remdesivir: US allows emergency use of experimental drug for coronavirus

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Watchdogs warn pharmacies not to hike price of face masks

Regulators also criticise sale of paracetamol and hand sanitiser at excessive costs

Two UK watchdogs have warned pharmacies they should not be overcharging customers for in-demand items including face masks, hand sanitiser and paracetamol.

With face masks compulsory on public transport and increasing numbers of people returning to work, these products remain in high demand but in a joint letter to businesses, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) said this was not an opportunity to hike prices.

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Australian drugmakers hit by critical shortages at height of pandemic, inquiry hears

Evidence given to parliamentary committee sparks new calls to develop national capability to manufacture medicines and key supplies

Australian companies were “shocked” to experience price-gouging and had trouble accessing critical supplies to make medicines and personal protective equipment at the height of the pandemic, a parliamentary committee has been told.

It has prompted fresh calls for Australia to build up its ability to manufacture critical drugs “without reliance on opaque and fragile offshore supply chains”.

Related: Paracetamol and Ventolin limited to one per customer as Australia combats coronavirus hoarding

Related: Australia needs a national centre for disease control, peak doctors’ group says

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How will the world’s poorest people get a coronavirus vaccine? | Achal Prabhala and Kate Elder

Rich countries’ governments are putting all their trust in a marriage of markets and philanthropy called Gavi

Vaccines for Covid-19 are coming. Billions of dollars are flowing in, over 100 efforts are under way, and at least 13 leading candidates are already being tested on humans. But how will these vaccines reach the poorest people on the planet? This question haunts the fate of more than half the world’s population. It is the central question of our time. The failure to address this question in the past has resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths – and yet, some believe there is a simple answer. Ask pharmaceutical corporations about how they will ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines, and they say “Gavi”. Ask the wealthiest governments in the world what they are doing to ensure global equity, and they too say “Gavi”.

Gavi, the Vaccines Alliance, is a 20-year old public-private partnership that believes the marriage of markets and philanthropy will bring vaccines to everyone in the world. The numbers are impressive: every year, Gavi sends out 500 million vaccine doses against 17 different diseases. The sums of money pumped into Gavi are equally impressive. At the Global Vaccine Summit held earlier this month, Gavi raised a record-breaking $8.8bn. With £330m committed annually for the next five years, the British government is their single largest donor, alongside other wealthy countries and the Gates Foundation. At the summit, Gavi launched its newest initiative, a fund for future Covid-19 vaccines – the Covax Facility – which invites countries to invest in a wide portfolio of potential vaccines, pool their risk, and gain dedicated access to eventual products.

Related: UK plans £38m centre to start production of coronavirus vaccine

Related: Covid-19 vaccine may not work for at-risk older people, say scientists

Achal Prabhala is the coordinator of the AccessIBSA project, which campaigns for access to medicines in India, Brazil and South Africa. Kate Elder is the senior vaccines policy adviser at the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign

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UK firms critical to public health protected from foreign takeovers

Legislation protects those needed in future pandemics who may be struggling now

The UK government has introduced legislation to protect businesses that are key to public health from foreign takeovers.

The changes give the government the power to protect companies that could be critical in helping the country in future health emergencies but which may be struggling to weather the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: Markets hit by coronavirus second-wave fears, as gold touches one-month high – business live

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‘The wondrous map’: how unlocking human DNA changed the course of science

Thanks to the success of the Human Genome Project, 20 years ago this week, scientists can track biology and disease at a molecular level

Twenty years ago this week, an international group of scientists announced it had put together the first genetic blueprint of a human being. After 10 years of effort, the team – made up of thousands of scientists working on both sides of the Atlantic – revealed it had pinpointed all 3bn units of DNA that make up the human genome.

The result was “the most wondrous map ever created by humankind”, US President Bill Clinton told a special White House ceremony to mark the event. A parallel event, hosted by Tony Blair in Downing Street, also featured glittering praise for the effort.

DNA studies have helped to develop new drugs for conditions ranging from cystic fibrosis to asthma

We are sequencing samples of Sars-Cov-2 from different sources to see if the virus is mutating significantly

Related: Human code fully cracked

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Watchdog investigates possible overcharging for hand sanitiser in UK

Four unnamed stores suspected by competition regulator of profiteering during Covid-19 crisis

The competition watchdog is to investigate suspected profiteering by four pharmacies and convenience stores for over-charging shoppers for hand sanitiser during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stocks of hand sanitiser were among the first items the British public cleared off the shelves as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the UK. The Competition and Markets Authority, which announced the investigations, has previously identified hand sanitiser as the product suffering the biggest price hike.

The coronavirus lockdown has prompted some of the UK’s most prominent companies to announce large-scale job losses. The aviation, automotive and retail sectors have been among the worst hit, as businesses adjust to dramatically reduced revenue projections.

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Demand for flu vaccine soars as countries plan for second Covid-19 wave

Manufacturers warn they will struggle to meet demand as governments seek to ease pressure on health services

Fears of a second wave of coronavirus have sparked a global scramble for influenza shots from countries that hope to vaccinate great swathes of the population to reduce pressure on their health services.

Health officials in the UK are considering whether to offer flu shots to everyone as part of planning for a resurgence of coronavirus in the autumn, but with other countries hitting on the same strategy, demand for flu vaccines has soared.

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The Lancet’s editor: ‘The UK’s response to coronavirus is the greatest science policy failure for a generation’

Richard Horton does not hold back in his criticism of the UK’s response to the pandemic and the medical establishment’s part in backing fatal government decisions

There is a school of thought that says now is not the time to criticise the government and its scientific advisers about the way they have handled the Covid-19 pandemic. Wait until all the facts are known and the crisis has subsided, goes this thinking, and then we can analyse the performance of those involved. It’s safe to say that Richard Horton, the editor of the influential medical journal the Lancet, is not part of this school.

An outspoken critic of what he sees as the medical science establishment’s acquiescence to government, he has written a book that he calls a “reckoning” for the “missed opportunities and appalling misjudgments” here and abroad that have led to “the avoidable deaths of tens of thousands of citizens”. 

In being shielded, he has learned the true significance of key workers… ‘they are making society work’

Related: UK failures over Covid-19 will increase death toll, says leading doctor

Whitty is in the middle of viral storm… it’s debatable whether he’d increase public confidence by acknowledging he got it wrong

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