Visiting Modi’s home state of Gujarat, Trump and First Lady Melania visited independence hero Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, where Modi gifted him a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” three wise monkeys statue.The billionaire and the tea seller’s son then headed to a new cricket stadium — the biggest in the world — where Trump heaped praise on Modi as an “exceptional leader, a great champion of India” in front of a crowd of around 100,000.”America loves India. America respects India, and America will always be faithful and loyal friends to the Indian people,” Trump told the ecstatic crowd, many in Trump-emblazoned baseball caps.Name-checking Bollywood films and Indian cricketers, Trump — with an eye on elections in November — paid tribute to the four-million-strong Indian-American diaspora as “truly special people”. “President Trump’s visit opens a new chapter in our relationship — a chapter that will document the progress and prosperity of the people of America and India,” Modi said.”The whole world knows what President Trump has done to fulfil the dreams of America.”Excited spectators had queued from 4:00 am for the “Namaste Trump” rally, reciprocating a “Howdy Modi” event in Houston last year where Trump likened Modi to Elvis.Workers rushed to finish the stadium and a wall that locals said was to hide a slum. Stray dogs, cows and monkeys were also kept away.”Events like these will galvanise people to start to cooperate in new initiatives,” said Pramit Maakoday, an Indian-American in the stadium.Later Monday Trump and Melania — dressed in an off-white jump suit and Indian sash alongside her husband in his usual suit and tie — flew to the Taj Mahal for sunset before the main official talks on Tuesday.Parts of the white marble “jewel of Muslim art”, according to UNESCO, were given a mud-pack facial to remove stains, while efforts were made to lessen the stench of the adjacent river.’Tariff king’ Behind the platitudes and blossoming bromance between the two leaders lies a fraught relationship worsened by the trade protectionism of both governments.Trump has called India the “tariff king”, and said before his visit that Asia’s third-largest economy had been “hitting us very, very hard for many, many years”.Rather than a wide-ranging trade deal, reports said Trump and Modi may instead sign smaller agreements covering products such as Harley-Davidson motorcycles and US dairy products.”We are in the early stages of discussions for an incredible trade agreement,” Trump told the rally, calling Modi a “very tough negotiator”.The two men were expected to sign a number of defence deals during the visit, and to discuss the supply of six nuclear reactors.Russia, however, remains India’s biggest supplier in arms, with India having agreed to buy Moscow’s $5.4-billion S-400 missile defence system despite the threat of US sanctions.The US has pressured India to stop buying Iranian oil, while US businesses have raised concerns over New Delhi’s plans to force foreign firms to store Indian consumers’ personal data inside the country.In Washington, India has faced criticism over its clampdown in restive Kashmir, and the recently passed citizenship law that has led to ongoing protests across the nation, including in New Delhi on Sunday and Monday.A senior US administration official told reporters Trump would raise concerns about religious freedom in the Hindu-majority nation during the trip, “which is extremely important to this administration”.Trump also ridiculed Modi last year for “constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan”.”That’s like five hours of what we spend… And we are supposed to say, ‘oh, thank you for the library’,” Trump said.”I don’t know who is using it.”Topics : US President Donald Trump received a red-carpet welcome in the world’s biggest democracy Monday, addressing a huge rally at a mega cricket stadium on a maiden official visit to India that is big on photo opportunities but likely short on substance.Trade tensions have grown between the US and India, the world’s fifth-biggest economy, as Trump’s “America First” drive collides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s protectionist “Make in India” mantra.While sharing concerns about China and deepening their defence ties, India has bristled at Trump’s offer to mediate in the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan, and at unease in Washington over a citizenship law criticised as anti-Muslim.
The Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital (RSPI) in Jakarta has quarantined six new patients suspected of having been infected with the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of people being treated for the illness at the hospital to eight – including two who earlier tested positive for COVID-19, the disease resulting from the novel coronavirus.”We have isolated six new suspected COVID-19 patients since [Monday] night. Two people, who were referred to us by another hospital, arrived this morning,” said RSPI president director Mohammad Syahril, as quoted by Antara on Tuesday Of the four people admitted to quarantine on Monday evening, three were found to have had direct contact with the country’s first two COVID-19 patients – a 31-year-old woman and her 64-year-old mother, also referred to as Case 1 and Case 2 respectively – who have been quarantined separately in the hospital since Sunday. The RSPI has tested all six patients for COVID-19. “The test results will be available [on Wednesday],” he added. Indonesia announced its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo saying that Case 1 and Case 2 caught the disease after having been in contact with a Japanese citizen who tested positive in Malaysia on Feb. 27 after visiting Indonesia early last month. Syahril went on to say that the conditions of Case 1 and Case 2 had been improving. “They can communicate well, their fever has gone down, their coughs are getting better, they don’t experience shortness in breath and they have good appetites as well,” he said. The global death toll from COVID-19, a disease caused by a coronavirus first discovered in Wuhan, China, rose to more than 3,100 people on Tuesday. The far-flung virus has infected nearly 90,000 people in more than 60 countries, AFP reported. (nal)Topics : “The other one is a foreigner who recently visited a foreign country with a coronavirus outbreak,” Syahril said, although he refused to name the exact country. All four patients had shown symptoms of coronavirus infection, including fevers, coughs and sore throats, he added.Read also: Indonesia monitors dozens in contact with first two COVID-19 cases in Greater JakartaThe other two patients, who were admitted to the RSPI on Tuesday, had been transferred from another hospital in Jakarta, Syahril said without revealing the name of the initial hospital where the patients had been treated.
“We will be introducing the new policy on Monday until Saturday. It will come into effect on April 12,” said MRT Jakarta corporate secretary division head Muhamad Kamaluddin in a press statement.Passengers who travel on LRT Jakarta will also be required to wear masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus.“Passengers without masks will not be allowed to enter the stations,” said LRT Jakarta corporate secretary general manager Arnold Kindangen on Sunday.LRT Jakarta will be operating from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic with 30-minute headways and a maximum of 30 passengers in each car to implement physical distancing. Jakarta is the hardest-hit province in Indonesia with the most cases of COVID-19. The capital city has recorded 1,124 confirmed cases, nearly half of the cases in the country, with 95 fatalities.Topics : As part of the aggressive effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the capital city, the Jakarta administration has instructed all residents to wear masks when engaged in activities outside the home and in particular when using public transportation services.Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has sent out a memo to all city-owned public transportation operators to implement the policy for all passengers. The memo to the president directors of MRT Jakarta, LRT Jakarta and Transjakarta noted that passengers not wearing masks should be refused service.“Anyone not wearing a mask may not board public transportation. Please widely promote this policy among passengers and the public at all bus stops, stations and on board [vehicles],” he said as reported by tempo.co. on Sunday. The public dissemination of the policy starts on Monday, with enforcement starting on April 12, the memo stated. The memo followed Gubernatorial Regulation no. 09/2020 on mask usage issued by Anies on Friday, in which he urged all residents to wear masks anytime they are outside. The governor also strongly suggested residents wear washable two-layer cloth masks and not the medical masks prioritized for medical workers.The city-owned public transportation operators started implementing the policy following the memo.“For the next six days, Transjakarta urges to all customers to bring their own masks. Anyone not wearing them may not enter bus stops or ride on buses,” spokeswoman for Transjakarta Nadia Diposanjoyo said.MRT Jakarta also requires passengers to wear masks upon entering stations and while using MRT Jakarta services.
With an Rp 852 trillion budget deficit, nearly triple the initial plan, the government will prioritize the use of accumulated cash surplus (SAL) worth Rp 70 trillion and the endowment fund for education worth Rp 60 trillion. The deficit is equivalent to 5.07 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared with 1.76 percent in the initial budget.“The government’s first line of financing will come from an endowment fund and accumulated cash surplus but it will not be enough,” Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told the House of Representatives Commission XI overseeing financial affairs in a video conference.“Therefore, we need to issue government debt papers to look for the best financing sources. We will be very careful in navigating these uncharted waters.”Consequently, debt issuances have tripled to Rp 1 quadrillion in the revised 2020 state budget, consisting of new Rp 449 trillion pandemic bonds and Rp 549 trillion government debt papers. Pandemic bondsThe government will issue Rp 449 trillion worth of the so-called pandemic bonds to finance the country’s efforts to combat the health crisis and economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.The purchase of the pandemic bonds is likely to be dominated by Bank Indonesia (BI), which under a new regulation is now allowed to buy government bonds at auction if the market is unable to fulfill the government’s financing target.The stipulation in the new Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu) No. 1/2020, issued March 31, revokes a 1999 law on the central bank, which only allowed BI to buy government bonds in the secondary market.“It is likely that, during this period, the ownership structure of government securities will change to some extent with foreign investors’ lowering their holdings considerably and BI seen to expand its balance sheet,” according to a research note by Fitch Solutions’ country risk and industry research team.Yields on the benchmark 10-year government bonds rose to 8.322 on March 8, the highest in 1.5 years, indicating higher risks of investment perceived by investors in the bond market. Yields move in the opposite direction of prices.Foreign investors had sold Rp 148.76 trillion (US$9.04 billion) in Indonesian assets as per April 1, including Rp 135.08 trillion in government bonds and Rp 9.71 trillion in Indonesian shares, BI data shows.“The financing of pandemic bonds may be dominated by the central bank as foreign investors tend to avoid risky assets,” Bank Permata economist Josua Pardede said. “We expect that this will speed up the recovery of economic sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”The timeframe, indicative yield and other details surrounding the pandemic bonds remain unclear.Asia’s first 50-year dollar bondThe government has also increased the target of issuance for Indonesia’s regular government debt papers to reach Rp 549 trillion, from the initial Rp 389 trillion target, to finance the nation’s COVID-19 battle.On April 6, the government surprised markets with the issuance of Asia’s longest-tenure dollar debt papers at 50 years to help aid the government’s fight against the coronavirus. Indonesia raised a total of $4.3 billion during the offering, consisting of $1 billion for 50-year maturities and $1.65 billion each for the 10.5 year and 30.5 year tranches, Reuters reported.“Against the backdrop of global financial market turbulence, this is the biggest issuance of US dollar bonds in the Indonesian government’s history,” Sri Mulyani said. “We make use of the 50-year tenure because global investors’ preference for longer tenure bonds is quite strong.”An aerial view of Mega Kuningan business district in South Jakarta. (kompas.com/Hilda B Alexander)The longer the tenure the higher the yields, therefore more attractive for investors, said Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) Indonesia research director Piter Abdullah.“A 50-year global bond is meant to provide buyers with incentives as their investment appetite has significantly declined amid the global uncertainties caused by the virus,” Piter said.Economists are expecting that despite a significant jump in the government’s debt issuances, the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio will not surpass the 60 percent legal ceiling.“We expect the debt-to-GDP ratio to increase to around 34 to 35 percent this year, from last year’s figure of 29.8 percent,” Josua said.$7 billion loanIndonesia will receive around $7 billion in loans from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to finance the country’s fight against COVID-19. The amount is equivalent to Rp 111 trillion as stipulated in the revised 2020 state budget, more than double the initial budget of Rp 48 trillion.BI Governor Perry Warjiyo has said that the funds will be used to finance the country’s widening budget to prevent a greater health crisis and economic meltdown from the COVID-19 outbreak.“The AIIB, ADB and the World Bank planned on around $7 billion [in loans] during an investor teleconference. We will maximize it,” Perry told House of Representatives Commission XI overseeing financial affairs. “The Finance Ministry has also said that it will maximize the government’s budget.”Debt burden heightens riskEconomists agreed that Indonesia’s financing scheme to fight COVID-19 increased the debt burden and risks of repayment in the longer run, although they all have faith in the government’s fiscal discipline.Jokowi has pledged to bring Indonesia’s state budget to its normal state by 2023 by bringing back the budget deficit cap of 3 percent of GDP. During the three years of recovery, Sri Mulyani said the government would ensure transparency to maintain budget credibility.“We will be very transparent so as to maintain the credibility of our fiscal and monetary policies,” she said.Fitch Solutions was of the view that, if the rupiah continued to depreciate rapidly as BI extends its government bond holdings, the Indonesian economy could enter a sovereign debt crisis, as the central bank bled foreign reserves.“For now, this is not our core view, as we expect the recovery off the back of the COVID-19 outbreak to be robust,” Fitch wrote. “Moreover, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has a good track record of fiscal discipline, and it is likely that, once the worst is over, she will ramp up efforts to bring government spending back in line and broaden the revenue base.” Topics : Indonesia’s revised 2020 state budget highlights lower income and higher spending against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak. In addressing the widening deficit, the government is resorting to tripling the nation’s debt to Rp 1 quadrillion (US$63 billion) as tax revenue is expected to slide with businesses paralyzed and households losing income during the pandemic.The budget revision is stipulated in Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 54/2020 on the 2020 state budget changes, signed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on April 3. State spending is expected to increase by nearly 3 percent to Rp 2.6 quadrillion while revenue is seen slumping by 21 percent to Rp 1.7 quadrillion.Read also: Indonesia announces Rp 405 trillion COVID-19 budget, anticipates 5% deficit in historic move
“The researchers found that the virus transmission through a respiratory system or digestive system depends on the host of the virus,” he explained as quoted by tempo.co.Although the research suggested that the coronavirus could be spread through farts and feces, Nidom said, there was no scientific evidence of flatulence alone posing a risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, the coronavirus was uniquely hard to predict, he added. Read also: Scientists call for global cooperation, use of scientific methods in fight against COVID-19Meanwhile, Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology director Amin Soebandrio also confirmed that the coronavirus could match with receptors in the mucous membrane of the digestive system. COVID-19 might be transmitted through farts and feces, Airlangga University molecular biologist Chairul Anwar Nidom has said.According to him, the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute (HVRI) in China has tested the hypothesis using dogs and cats. Chairul explained that the researchers were conducting swab tests through the dogs’ anus – instead of through nose and throat.Nidom went on to explain that such a swab test method was normal, given that the matching protein receptor, called ACE2, was normally found in several human organs – the lungs, kidneys, heart and the gut. However, he also said the likelihood of this was low compared to the common transmission through respiratory droplets.Previously, Australian doctor Andy Tagg pointed out that farts could spread the coronavirus – the coronavirus had been found in the feces of 55 percent of COVID-19 patients. While respiratory droplets transmission could be spread through coughing and touching hands, Tagg said, small feces particles like “aerosolized feces” among fart gases could also spread the virus.What has all this farting talk got to do with the coronavirus?Well, SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in faeces and has been detected in an asymptomatic individual up to 17 days post-exposure.https://t.co/6IflYTLFWr pic.twitter.com/XuYCmYoEQ7— Andy Tagg (@andrewjtagg) April 6, 2020However, Tagg also suggested that people not throw around assumptions against “gas”, and he reminded everyone to keep their pants on.”Perhaps SARS-CoV-2 can be spread through the power of parping – we need more evidence. So remember to wear appropriate PPE at all times and stay safe,” Andy Tagg wrote on his Twitter account @andrewjtagg on Apr. 6. (trn)Topics :
New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday declared a city curfew from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am, as anti-racism protests grip the United States with regular outbreaks of violence and looting.Saying that “we support peaceful protest,” De Blasio said he made the decision in consultation with the state’s governor Andrew Cuomo, following the lead of many large US cities.In a joint statement the mayor and governor said the city would double its police presence “to help prevent violence and property damage,” especially in commercial areas including lower Manhattan that saw broken storefronts and looting overnight. Topics : Demonstrations have erupted coast-to-coast and turned violent at times.An internal investigation is underway after a video clip showed a New York City police truck ram into a crowd of protestors over the weekend.On Monday afternoon about 1,000 people gathered at Times Square for a demonstration that remained peaceful as police in riot gear looked on.”I’m here today because my life matters,” said 23-year-old Shina Moore, a black woman.”I have a right to live and they don’t think that, so I’m going to be here every day until they find that out, period.”Moore said she would defy the evening curfew, saying “people won’t adhere to it.””These protests are going to go on for as long as they need to — a day, a week, a month, a year,” she said.”It’s been too long — you can’t oppress us, and then tell us how to react.” “We can’t let violence undermine the message of this moment. It is too important and the message must be heard,” said de Blasio.Speaking on MSNBC shortly after the announcement, Governor Cuomo voiced concern that the protests drawing thousands could spread COVID-19, as a pandemic that once saw New York as its epicenter continues to flare worldwide.Saying he stands “behind the protestors and their message,” Cuomo said in the statement that “the violence and the looting that has gone on in New York City has been bad for the city, the state and this entire national movement, undermining and distracting from this righteous cause.”National unrest was triggered last week after the killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis that saw a policeman kneel on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes, after arresting him for allegedly purchasing cigarettes with a counterfeit bill.
The first stages of a South Korean government “Green New Deal” aiming to retool one of the world’s most fossil fuel-reliant economies is focused instead on protecting jobs as the country seeks to stimulate a virus-ravaged economy, activists say.First proposed by President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party ahead of the April parliamentary election, the Green New Deal set ambitious goals of net-zero emissions by 2050, an end to financing of overseas coal plants, and the introduction of a carbon tax.But activists say that government plans announced since then do not directly address Moon’s pledge to reach net-zero emissions, or to end to coal financing. Topics : An initial parliamentary proposal calls for an investment of 12.9 trillion won ($10.5 billion) over the next two years, with the focus on the creation of 133,000 jobs.The plan includes remodeling public buildings, creating urban forests, recycling, establishing a foundation for new and renewable energy, and creating low-carbon energy industrial complexes to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.Those proposals look “like a repackaging of already existing plans and policies,” Kim Joo-jin, managing director of Solutions For Our Climate (SFOC), a Seoul-based non-profit organization, said in a statement.”There is quite a large gap between international praise of Korea’s Green New Deal and the reality on the ground,” he said. Lee So-young, who was elected to parliament this year on a platform of environmental reform, acknowledged the concerns but said lawmakers are seeking to draft more detailed laws that will not only not boost the economy after the coronavirus crisis, but also transform the economy and society in more sustainable ways.The jobs-heavy proposals are a first, short-term phase designed to help shore up the economy after the coronavirus crisis, she told Reuters.”Green New Deal legislation is not simply a matter of injecting funding in certain projects, but rather addressing what kind of procedure, governance and regulations we will use to remodel the entire society by 2050 to prevent climate change,” Lee said.Difficult transitionsLee vowed that in the long run, the New Green Deal won’t simply be old policies that have been “green washed.”A more long-term plan will need to be drafted to regulate and end financing for coal plants, impose phased carbon taxes, increase “energy welfare” for people suffering from the effects of climate change, and to reduce overall air pollution, she said.In 2017, the last year for which data was available, South Korea was the 7th largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).Coal power is the bedrock of South Korea’s electricity supply, accounting for about 40% of the country’s total energy mix, with renewable power accounting for less than 6%.With the economic woes that are being exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, Moon’s administration has continued to subsidize and bail out companies like Doosan Heavy, which builds power stations in South Korea and overseas.But the wide victory margins for Moon’s party in the April parliamentary election, and an appetite for progress on climate, reinforces that view that voters in Asia’s developed economies and regions now equate environmental performance with government competence, said Melissa Brown, director of Asia Energy Policy Studies at the US-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.”Voters want their children to have clean air and water,” she said. “They associate environmental problems with corruption and lazy politicians.”
Indonesia was among the nations with a relaxed approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic before meeting World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for rolling back social restrictions, according to recent data from the England’s University of Oxford.The Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker collected data from more than 160 countries on measures taken by governments to respond to the current pandemic. The report looked at 17 indicators, including school closures, mobility restrictions, income support to residents and testing regime. While Oxford said its indices cannot reflect Indonesia’s risk management, Indonesian epidemiologists, who predicted the first wave would reach its peak sometime in mid to end of June, are concerned that the premature easing might stretch out the pandemic. On June 1, days before Jakarta entered a transitional phase to the so-called new normal, Oxford’s lockdown rollback checklist showed the country’s transmission control had scored 0.0 out of 1.0, while its testing and tracing capacity had scored 0.5.Transmission control is automatically set to 0.0 for any country with more than 50 new cases per day.Indonesia has recorded a high community transmission rate in the past months, with hundreds of new cases recorded each day. Starting June 9, the country consistently recorded an average of 1,000 new cases each day, totaling 54,010 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Sunday, the highest in Southeast Asia. Topics : Oxford researcher Toby Phillips said the checklist score for testing and tracing in Indonesia was 0.5 earlier this month, but it had recently gone down to 0.4.“While Indonesia has relevant policies in place, the actual number of tests being performed is fairly low compared to other countries,” Phillips, who is also head of research and policy in Oxford’s Digital Pathways, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.A good metric here, he said, was to see that Indonesia took nine tests to identify a new case, compared to the Philippines with 20 tests and Malaysia 470 tests, which suggests they have widespread testing relative to their caseload.On the other hand, Indonesia scored well in managing imported cases with a score of 1.0, which has remained stable until now. The high score reflects that Indonesia is stopping or quarantining any foreign arrivals, Philipps said.However, Indonesia’s score for community understanding, which is based on mobility data from Apple and Google to gauge the change in people’s behavior, has decreased to 0.6 from 0.8 recorded earlier this month.“The fact that the score has reduced means that Indonesians are moving about and interacting with each other more than at the start of the month, even though the level of transmission is still high,” he added.Along with gradual loosening of policies, Oxford’s stringency index shows that Indonesia’s coronavirus response has also loosened from 80 out of 100 recorded at the end of April to 68 in June. “The first wave hasn’t finished yet. If preventive actions are not carried out consistently and correctly, we will run the risk of experiencing greater peaks,” epidemiologist Iwan Ariawan from the University of Indonesia told the Post on Friday.Iwan condemned the low perception toward the risk of COVID-19 in communities, saying that the government had the immense task of arranging a good monitoring mechanism, besides improving public health system capacities.Epidemiologist Windhu Purnomo from Airlangga University’s School of Public Health said fellow experts predicted the first wave might end in September, but he also warned of a lengthy wave and potential rebounds amid loosening policies.“Seeing the trends of high infections, I am now less optimistic,” Windhu said.He said the government should consistent with its own policies, citing Surabaya, the capital of the worst-hit province of East Java, which had imposed a transitional phase to the new normal despite high transmission rates.Windhu said areas designated as “green or yellow zones”, especially those with more adequate transportation systems, needed territorial boundaries and isolation from “orange and red zones” to protect them from being reinfected.
As the death toll climbs, critics say the country is not testing enough — leaving many infections undiagnosed.India’s caseload is predicted to pass one million this month and not peak for several weeks. Schools, hotels, a planetarium and a stadium used to host US NBA games last year have all been repurposed, and on Tuesday four new field hospitals — including 700 beds inside the Mahalaxmi horseracing venue — were opened.The new facilities will together provide an extra 3,500 beds in the city of 20 million, where hospitals have been overwhelmed with hundreds of patients each day.Health workers have complained about severe staff shortages, with some senior doctors and nurses avoiding frontlines because of their vulnerability to the virus due to age or conditions such as diabetes.”Required medical help will be available at these four new treatment centers,” said a spokesman for the government of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital. Topics : India’s financial capital Mumbai opened four new coronavirus field hospitals on Tuesday — including one at a horseracing track — as the nationwide death toll jumped past 20,000.Hospitals in densely populated cities such as Mumbai and Delhi are struggling to cope with the epidemic, and the country now has around 720,000 infections — the world’s third-highest. The Mumbai region, which accounts for about a quarter of India’s 20,100 deaths, has suffered a new surge in infections, forcing authorities to build makeshift hospitals and quarantine facilities.
Early results of a closely watched Phase 1/2 trial published this week in The Lancet suggest the vaccine candidate is safe and induces an immune response. “We hope to be able to produce a vaccine by the end of the year… perhaps a little earlier if all goes well” on the back of phase three results expected in the autumn, Soriot added in an interview. A coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca should be available globally “at cost price” by year end, the firm’s director general said Tuesday.”Our objective is to bring the vaccine to everybody, [and] equally to do so on a not-for-profit basis so we shall be providing the vaccine at cost price,” Pascal Soriot told RTL radio.”At cost price that will be about 2.5 euros ($2.8) per unit. US group Johnson & Johnson has also vowed to deliver a vaccine at “non-profit” pricing.In contrast rivals Pfizer, Merck and Moderna confirmed Tuesday to US lawmakers they would not sell vaccine at cost.Soriot said the vaccine had performed well in stage 1 and 2 trials suggesting it offered good tolerability without serious side effects.Stage 3 trials will now be carried out on a wider sample before product can finally be rolled out.”We are working hand in hand with the regulators, we exchange our data on a daily basis to enable very swift evaluation. We are carrying out clinical trials which allows us to gain time,” said Soriot.He added the group had begun to produce product in “a number of regions” so they would be ready to start delivering “if the clinical trials are positive.”A separate trial in Wuhan, China, where the disease first emerged late last year and involving more than 500 people, showed most had developed widespread antibody immune response. The race is on in labs across the world to win the race to produce a vaccine to deal with the world health crisis the world has seen in a century.More than 200 candidate vaccines are being developed with 23 having progressed to clinical trials with human volunteers.Topics :