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Explainer: Where are we in the Covid-19 vaccine race? - DAWN.com
India on Friday became the fourth country to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.
India on Friday became the fourth country to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, authorising the vaccines rollout in coming weeks in the country with the second highest number of infections. The following is what we know about the race to deliver vaccines to help end the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.8 million people worldwide: Who is furthest along? US drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech have been the Covid-19 vaccine trailblazers. On Nov 18, they became the first in the world to release full late-stage trial data. Britain was the first to approve the shot for emergency use on Dec 3, followed by Canada on Dec 9 and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec 11. Several other countries, including Saudi Arabia and Mexico, have also approved it. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the shot on Dec 21 and India is accelerating its review. The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday listed the vaccine for emergency use, in a move seeking to speed access to it in the developing world. What about Moderna? Moderna Inc was a close second to Pfizer in many countries after it released a full data analysis for a late-stage trial on Nov 30 showing a 94.1 per cent efficacy rate for its vaccine. The United States authorised Modernas vaccine on Dec 19, while Canada approved the shot on Dec 23 and the EMA will do so on Jan 6. AstraZeneca Indias approval of a two-dose version of AstraZenecas vaccine, Covishield, which has also been given the green light by Britain, Argentina and El Salvador, is a major win for a shot seen as crucial for mass immunisations. Questions about the robustness of its trial data have complicated the approval process. The British company announced interim late-stage trial data in November showing two full doses were 62pc effective while a half-dose followed by a full dose had a 90pc success rate but UK regulators said the more successful outcome had not stood up to analysis. AstraZeneca is also in discussions with the EMA, which is conducting a rolling review of the vaccine. Who else is in the running? US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson plans to deliver trial data in January, teeing it up for US authorisation in February if its shot is effective. It reduced the enrolment target for its clinical trial to 40,000 volunteers from 60,000 on Dec 9, potentially speeding results that are tied to how quickly participants become infected. US firm Novavax is running a late-stage trial in Britain with data due in the first quarter of 2021. It expects to start a large-scale trial in the United States this month. Frances Sanofi and Britains GlaxoSmithKline, however, announced a setback on Dec 11 in their attempts to develop a vaccine. The drugmakers said that it showed an insufficient immune response in older people in mid-stage trials and that they would start a new study in February. What happens in the trials? The companies usually test their vaccines against a placebo typically saline solution in healthy volunteers to see whether the rate of Covid-19 infection among those who got the vaccine is significantly lower than in those who received the dummy shot. How are volunteers infected? The trials rely on subjects becoming naturally infected with Covid-19, so how long it takes to generate results largely depends on how pervasive the virus is where trials are being conducted. Each drugmaker has targeted a specific number of infections to trigger a first analysis of their data. How well are the vaccines supposed to work? The WHO ideally wants to see at least 70pc efficacy. The FDA wants at least 50pc which means there must be at least twice as many infections among volunteers who received a placebo as among those in the vaccine group. The EMA has said it may accept a lower efficacy level. What about Russia and China? Although Pfizers shot was the first to be rolled out following the publication of full Phase III trial data, Russia and China have been inoculating their citizens for months with several different vaccines still undergoing late-stage trials. China on Dec 31 approved its first Covid-19 vaccine for general public use, a shot developed by an affiliate of state-backed pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm. The company said it is 79pc effective against the virus. Russia said on Nov 24 its Sputnik V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya Institute, was 91.4pc effective based on interim late-stage trial results. It started vaccinations in August and has inoculated more than 100,000 people so far. India plans to make 300 million doses of Sputnik V next year and Argentina has given the green light for emergency use of the shot, with some 300,000 doses arriving in the country on Dec 24. China launched an emergency use programme in July aimed at essential workers and others at high risk of infection. It has vaccinated about one million people as of mid-November using at least three shots - one developed by the state-backed China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and one by Sinovac Biotech. Trial data on a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinas Sinovac Biotech has varied: interim data from a late-stage trial in Turkey showed its CoronaVac shot is 91.25pc effective, while researchers in Brazil say the shot was more than 50pc effective. The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, said on Dec 9 that one of the CNBG vaccines was 86pc effective based on interim results from a late-stage trial in the Gulf Arab state.
Bollywood mourns the demise of Sholay icon Jagdeep - DAWN.com
The veteran actor passed away on Wednesday at 81
Veteran actor Jagdeep passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81. According to a family source, the comic icon - father of Javed Jaffrey and Naved Jaffery - had not been well due to several age related issues. The icon's repertoire includes over 400 films but many remember him as Soorma Bhoali in 1975's classic Sholay. After all who can forget his lines like "Mera naam Soorma Bhopali aise hi nahi hai." Speaking to PTI, Javed Jaffrey - who followed the footsteps of his father and joined the industry - shared, "My father was a child when he was looking for a job after Partition. When someone asked him if he wanted to work in films, he said all he needed was a job. He was chosen from the streets to star in a film as a child actor. He was destined to be in the industry, it was fate." Fellow comics, actors and other members of the fraternity took to social media to express their sorrow at Jagdeep's passing and honoured his memory.
Can we please leave Adele's weight alone? - DAWN.com
People can't stop discussing Adele's weight loss, when the singer herself hasn't said anything about it.
Remember when Adele started off her music career and was an instant hit? How could she not be? She's always had her beautiful vocals and profound, heartfelt lyrics that get our eyes all misty. Over a decade later, she's still a queen. However, when the singer recently resurfaced on social media after being MIA for months to thank essential workers at the frontlines and everyone who wished her happy birthday, the internet was only focusing on one thing. Yep, you guessed it. Her weight. We understand you can't exactly ignore it; it is a somewhat drastic change. But why are we discussing Adeles weight again when she herself hasnt commented on it? Oh right, because that's what the internet's been doing to her since she was 19. For years now, people have been comfortable judging her on the one thing that has nothing to do with her talent: her body. Shes been at the receiving end of fatphobic comments and jokes like 'she turns her weight into Grammys' throughout her career; anytime her weight fluctuates, there are new memes. Like a human being is expected to stay one size forever Unsurprisingly, this time around though, its all compliments. And it's rather irksome the way it's being celebrated over social media. Here's a look at Adele's accomplishments; 15 Grammy Awards, nine Brit Awards, 18 Billboard Music Awards, an Oscar and a Golden Globe, just to name a few. A few. This is hardly the most memorable thing she's ever done. For people to say she's 'finally' beautiful, as if to place all her value and worth on her figure, to imply it as her biggest achievement is an insult to the past decade that was her successful career. As if her old body was wrong. Not to mention, celebrities who succumbed to different illnesses - both physical and mental come out better but comparatively overweight, definitely dont get the same kind of affirmation. Lets be honest, people dont care about Adeles glow-up in the context of her own happiness and well-being, they just care that shes skinny. The past few years have seen an increase in discussions around body positivity and acceptance but there's still a lot more ground left to cover. We have set unrealistic and damaging standards of beauty and weight by using this odd label of thin as healthy and anything above that as unhealthy when that's just not the case. It's time we acknowledge that weight loss isnt always warrant celebration or praise and while it can be a positive thing, that isn't always the case. For now, let us just say that while we're happy for Adele (who's smiling and sounds well!), we'd rather not see all her worth placed on that alone. And from previous conversations that shehas had, we can assure you that neither does she. In her own powerful words at 23 to People Magazine: Ive never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines... I represent the majority of women and Im very proud of that. Leaving you with this key reminder:
Chelsea opt against pay cut, tell players to donate to charity - DAWN.com
Newcastle and Norwich are currently the only two Premier League clubs using the furlough for some of their staff.
English Premier League side Chelsea have said they won't impose a pay cut on their first-team squad in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But the club added on Saturday they had asked players to continue donating to charities during the ongoing pandemic. It has been reported the west London club have been in talks with their players about a salary reduction of around 10 per cent in a bid to reduce costs at a time when football has been suspended because of the virus. That figure, however, is significantly lower than the Premier League's suggestion of 30pc for all clubs. But that has not stopped the Stamford Bridge side from taking their own course of action as they highlighted the #PlayersTogether initiative launched by Premier League players earlier this month, which aims to raise and distribute funds for charities supporting Britain's National Health Service (NHS). "Representatives of the Chelsea board have recently held extensive talks with the men's first team to discuss how they can contribute financially to the club during the coronavirus crisis," said a club statement. "The objective of these talks has been to find a meaningful partnership around ensuring we preserve jobs for staff, compensate fans and participate in activities for good causes. "We are grateful to the team for having played their role in assisting the club with community activities as well as all the charitable causes they have been supporting in their respective home countries and through the Players Together initiative supporting the NHS." The statement added: "At this time, the men's first team will not be contributing towards the club financially and instead the board have directed the team to focus their efforts on further supporting other charitable causes. "As this crisis develops the club will continue to have conversations with the men's first team regarding financial contributions to the club's activities." Meanwhile the Blues said they would not be taking advantage of the British government's coronavirus job retention or furlough scheme, with casual workers and matchday staff being compensated by the club through to June 30. Newcastle and Norwich are currently the only two Premier League clubs using the furlough for some of their non-playing staff, while Liverpool, Tottenham and Bournemouth were all forced into U-turns after their plans to use the scheme were met with widespread criticism.
India seal women's World Cup berth after Pakistan series scrapped - DAWN.com
ICC declares that the points from the cancelled series against Pakistan will be shared.
India have qualified for the 2021 women's World Cup after the International Cricket Council declared that the points from a cancelled series against Pakistan would be shared. The series, part of the ICC Women's Championship, was unable to be played after India's governing body, the BCCI, said it could not get government clearance to host Pakistan with tensions rising between the two countries over Indian-occupied Kashmir. The ICC declared the circumstances a force majeure event and awarded the teams three points each. Two other final-round series cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic South Africa v Australia and Sri Lanka v New Zealand also saw the six points on offer shared. The decision means India sealed the final automatic qualifying spot on 23 points behind Australia (37), holders England (29) and South Africa (25) for the 50-over competition next year alongside hosts New Zealand. The technical committee concluded that the [India v Pakistan] series could not be played because of a Force Majeure event, an ICC statement said late Wednesday. The BCCI demonstrated that it was unable to obtain the necessary government clearances to allow India to participate in the bilateral series against Pakistan. The rivals have not played a bilateral series since 2012-13 when the Pakistan men crossed the border for a series of one-day internationals. With the decades-old dispute over Kashmir at a new peak, India has stopped all sports teams going to Pakistan and they have only clashed at major international events, such as last year's 50-over men's World Cup in England. Pakistan, who finished four points below India, will now seek one of the three remaining places in the World Cup at a 10-team qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka originally scheduled for July 3-19, but which could be postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Asia’s economy likely to suffer zero growth this year for the first time in 60 years: IMF - DAWN.com
"Impact of coronavirus on region will be severe, across the board, and unprecedented,” says IMF Asia Pacific director.
Asias economic growth this year will grind to a halt for the first time in 60 years, as the coronavirus crisis takes an unprecedented toll on the regions service sector and major export destinations, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday. Policymakers must offer targeted support to households and firms hardest-hit by travel bans, social distancing policies and other measures aimed at containing the pandemic, said Changyong Rhee, director of the IMFs Asia and Pacific Department. These are highly uncertain and challenging times for the global economy. The Asia-Pacific region is no exception. The impact of the coronavirus on the region will be severe, across the board, and unprecedented, he told a virtual news briefing conducted with live webcast. This is not a time for business as usual. Asian countries need to use all policy instruments in their toolkits. Asias economy is likely to suffer zero growth this year for the first time in 60 years, the IMF said in a report on the Asia-Pacific region released on Thursday. Read: Pandemic a 'perfect storm' for South Asia, World Bank says While Asia is set to fare better than other regions suffering economic contractions, the projection is worse than the 4.7 per cent average growth rates throughout the global financial crisis, and the 1.3pc increase during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, the IMF said. The IMF expects a 7.6pc expansion in Asian economic growth next year on the assumption that containment policies succeed, but added the outlook was highly uncertain. Unlike the global financial crisis triggered by the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, the pandemic was directly hitting the regions service sector by forcing households to stay home and shops to shut down, the IMF said. The regions export powerhouses were also taking a battering from slumping demand for their goods by key trading partners such as the United States and European countries, it said. Chinas economy is expected to grow by 1.2pc this year, down from 6pc growth in the IMFs January forecast, on weak exports and losses in domestic activity due to social distancing steps. The worlds second-largest economy is expected to see a rebound in activity later this year, with growth to bounce back to 9.2pc next year, the IMF said. But there were risks even to Chinas growth outlook as the virus could return and delay normalisation, the IMF said. Chinese policymakers have reacted very strongly to the outbreak of the crisis ... If the situation becomes aggravated, they have more room to use fiscal, monetary policies, Rhee said. Whether that would be needed will really depend on progress in containing the virus. Asian policymakers must offer targeted support to households and firms hit hardest by the pandemic, the IMF said, calling also for efforts to provide ample liquidity to markets and ease financial stress faced by small and midsize firms. Rhee warned that direct cash transfers to citizens, part of the US stimulus package, may not be the best policy for many Asian countries which should focus on preventing small firms from going under to stop a sharp increase in unemployment. Emerging economies in the region should tap bilateral and multilateral swap lines, seek financial support from multilateral institutions, and use capital controls as needed to battle any disruptive capital outflows caused by the pandemic, the IMF said.
Twenty years on, cricket still reeling from Cronje scandal - DAWN.com
T20 franchise leagues and development of the sport beyond top level men's cricket have created new targets for fixers.
It may be two decades since the Hansie Cronje corruption scandal rocked cricket, but even now the ripples are still being felt. This month marks the 20th anniversary of Cronje being stripped of the South Africa captaincy following an extraordinary sequence of events in 2000. In January, come the last day of a 'dead' Test against England (South Africa had already won the series) a draw seemed inevitable after rain had washed out three days' play. Yet Cronje contrived a positive result by getting England captain Nasser Hussain to agree that both sides would forfeit an innings. England were left with a target of 249 for victory after Cronje declared and eventually won by two wickets. Traditionalists were aghast at the interference with the 'proper' course of a Test, yet few were prepared for what was to come. In April, Cronje's image as a religious sportsman he wore a bracelet inscribed with the words 'What Would Jesus Do?' was shattered for all time. An AFP report, later confirmed by the New Delhi police, said the force had phone recordings of Cronje and an Indian bookmaker discussing predetermined Proteas' performances during their tour of India the previous month. Such was Cronje's standing at home and abroad, the initial reaction was one of "shock and disbelief" according to one of South Africa's leading cricket writers. It was a sentiment shared by Dr Ali Bacher, the managing director of the United Cricket Board, the forerunner of today's Cricket South Africa. "When AFP broke the story before the official press conference by the Delhi police, I remember the office receiving a call from Dr Bacher blasting the agency for ruining the reputation of one of South Africa's most iconic personalities," recalled Kuldip Lal, the Delhi-based cricket reporter behind the scoop. "He threatened to sue us. I thought to myself that if the story is incorrect, a few of us may need to look for another job." But Cronje's partial confession a few days later led to a "feeling of relief" in AFP's Delhi bureau, with Lal adding: "To his credit, Dr Bacher called the office to apologise for his earlier outburst." Cronje later confessed to several allegations at the South African government-appointed King Commission, including attempts to bribe Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams to underperform in a one-day international against India. He also admitted to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from bookmakers to prearrange certain conditions cricket's complexity means gambling coups are possible without 'fixing' the result with his Centurion effort netting him some $6,000 and a leather jacket. Cronje, who insisted he'd never thrown a game, was later given a life ban from cricket yet his reputation remained high with both his former team-mates and the South African public alike. For example batsman Daryll Cullinan, testified Cronje, who died in a 2002 plane crash, had offered the team $250,000 to throw a match before adding he still thought of him "as a great captain and a great leader". Meanwhile separate national hearings and investigations led to life bans for Pakistan's Saleem Malik and India's Mohammad Azharuddin. Yet their suspensions were among several punishments subsequently overturned, although for Malik and Azharuddin the initial sanctions effectively ended the careers of two world-class batsmen. The International Cricket Council responded by creating a new anti-corruption unit led by Paul Condon, the former head of London's Metropolitan Police. But it was desperately under-staffed and 10 years ago it was Britain's now defunct News of the World tabloid that exposed the willingness of Pakistan captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir to engage in spot-fixing. Since then a beefed-up ACU, respected for its work in educating players about the dangers of corruption, has had a greater impact, with its investigations leading to New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent receiving a life ban for match-fixing in 2014. But the rise of Twenty20 franchise leagues and the development of the sport beyond top level men's cricket have created new targets for fixers. As has happened in tennis, they can now turn their attention to less high-profile areas of the game, where the financial rewards for players are far less and the temptation to cheat potentially all the greater. One constant though is that betting on cricket in India, the sport's biggest market, is illegal, meaning there is no formal regulation, even though gambling on horseracing is not.