Singapore reports 7 new COVID-19 cases, including 6 imported infections - CNA
SINGAPORE: Singapore reported seven new COVID-19 infections as of noon on Tuesday (Oct 27), including six imported cases.
SINGAPORE: Singapore reported seven new COVID-19 infections as of noon on Tuesday (Oct 27), including six imported cases. One case in the community was reported and none in the foreign workers' dormitories, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a preliminary daily update. Advertisement Advertisement All 6 imported cases were placed on stay-home notice upon their arrival in Singapore, said the ministry. The new infections take Singapore's COVID-19 tally to 57,980. Details of the new cases will be announced on Tuesday night, MOH said. Advertisement Advertisement TRACETOGETHER TOKEN COLLECTION AT COMMUNTIY CENTRES From Tuesday, those collecting their TraceTogether tokens will be able to do so only at their constituency community centres, said the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO). Residents had previously been able to collect their tokens at community centres outside their own constituencies. Advertisement The TraceTogether programme, which comprises both the app and the token, is aimed at improving Singapore's contract tracing efforts. TraceTogether-only SafeEntry will be progressively implemented by the end of the year at popular venues including workplaces, schools, malls, food and beverage outlets and hotels. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
Italian teenage computer whiz beatified by Catholic Church - CNA
Italian teenage computer whiz beatified by Catholic Church
ASSISI, Italy: A 15-year-old Italian computer whiz who died of leukaemia in 2006 moved a step closer to possible sainthood on Saturday (Oct 10) with his beatification in the town of Assisi, where he is buried. Carlo Acutis is the youngest contemporary person to be beatified, a path taken by two Portuguese shepherd children living in the early 1900s who were proclaimed Catholic saints in 2017. Advertisement Advertisement At the beatification ceremony in the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, a portrait of Acutis was slowly unveiled, revealing a smiling teen in a red polo shirt, his curly dark hair illuminated by a halo of light. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal legate for the Assisi basilicas, kissed each of the boys mask-wearing parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, after reading the proclamation decreed by Pope Francis. Already touted as the patron saint of the Internet, Acutis created a website to catalogue miracles and took care of websites for some local Catholic organisations. Advertisement Advertisement While still in elementary school, Acutis taught himself to code using a university computer science textbook, and then learned how to edit videos and create animation. Carlo used the Internet in service of the Gospel, to reach as many people as possible, the cardinal said during his homily, adding that the teen saw the web as a place to use with responsibility, without becoming enslaved. Acutis was born in London on May 3, 1991, to Italian parents and moved to Milan as a child. Already as a small child, he showed a strong religious devotion that surprised his non-practising parents. His mother told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that from age three he would ask to visit churches they passed in Milan, and by age seven had asked to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, winning an exception to the customary age requirement. Advertisement There was in him a natural predisposition for the sacred, his mother said. His curiosity prompted her to study theology in order to answer his questions, renewing her own faith. Carlo saved me. I was an illiterate of faith. I came back thanks to Father Ilio Carrai, the Padre Pio of Bologna, otherwise I would have felt discredited in my parental authority. It is a path that continues. I hope to at least wind up in purgatory, she told the Milan daily. Acutis died of acute leukaemia on Oct 12, 2006. He was put on the road to sainthood after Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Acutis: The healing of a seven-year-old Brazilian boy from a rare pancreatic disorder after coming into contact with an Acutis relic, a piece of one of his T-shirts. I was sure he was already a saint while alive. He healed a woman from cancer, praying to the Madonna of Pompeii, his mother told Corriere. Another verified miracle is necessary for sainthood, although Pope Francis has waived that on rare occasions. Acutis was buried in Assisi at his own requests, having become an admirer of St Francis of Assisi for his dedication to the poor. The Umbrian town was one of his favorite travel destinations. His body, clad in a tracksuit and sneakers, has been on display for veneration in a sanctuary in the town, and his heart will be displayed in a reliquary in the St Francis Basilica. Acutis told his mother that he would give her many signs of his presence after death. Before he left us, I told him: If in heaven you find our four-legged friends, look for Billy, my childhood dog that he never knew, the mother said. One day she got a call from an aunt who was unaware of the mother-son pact, saying: I saw Carlo in a dream tonight. He was holding Billy in his arms.
Musk's SpaceX wins Pentagon award for missile tracking satellites - CNA
Elon Musk's SpaceX won a US$149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon, the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA) said on Monday, in the company's first government contract to build satellites.
LONDON: Elon Musk's SpaceX won a US$149 million contract to build missile-tracking satellites for the Pentagon, the US Space Development Agency (SDA) said on Monday (Oct 5), in the company's first government contract to build satellites. SpaceX, known for its reusable rockets and astronaut capsules, is ramping up satellite production for Starlink, a growing constellation of hundreds of internet-beaming satellites that chief executive Elon Musk hopes will generate enough revenue to help fund SpaceXs interplanetary goals. Advertisement Advertisement Under the SDA contract, SpaceX will use its Starlink assembly plant in Redmond, Washington, to build four satellites fitted with a wide-angle infrared missile-tracking sensor supplied by a subcontractor, an SDA official said. Technology company L3 Harris Technologies Inc., formerly Harris Corporation, received US$193 million to build another four satellites. Both companies are expected to deliver the satellites for launch by fall 2022. The awards are part of the SDAs first phase to procure satellites to detect and track missiles like intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which can travel long distances and are challenging to track and intercept. SpaceX in 2019 received US$28 million from the Air Force to use the fledgling Starlink satellite network to test encrypted internet services with a number of military planes, though the Air Force has not ordered any Starlink satellites of its own. Advertisement Advertisement
NASA chief warns Congress about Chinese space station - CNA
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine told lawmakers Wednesday it was crucial for the US to maintain a presence in Earth's orbit after the International Space Station is decommissioned so that China does not gain a strategic advantage.
WASHINGTON: NASA chief Jim Bridenstine told lawmakers on Wednesday (Sep 23) it was crucial for the US to maintain a presence in Earth's orbit after the International Space Station is decommissioned so that China does not gain a strategic advantage. The first parts of the ISS were launched in 1998 and it has been continuously lived in since 2000. Advertisement Advertisement The station, which serves as a space science lab and is a partnership between the US, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada, is currently expected to be operated until 2030. "I'll tell you one thing that has me very concerned - and that is that a day is coming when the International Space Station comes to the end of its useful life," said Bridenstine. "In order to be able to have the United States of America have a presence in low Earth orbit, we have to be prepared for what comes next," he added. Advertisement Advertisement To that end, NASA has requested US$150 million for the 2021 fiscal year to help develop the commercialisation of low Earth orbit, defined as 2,000km or less from the planet's surface. "We want to see a public-private partnership where NASA can deal with commercial space station providers, so that we can keep a permanent uninterrupted human presence in low Earth orbit," said Bridenstine. "I don't think it's in the interest of the nation to build another International Space Station - I do think it's in the interest of the nation to support commercial industry, where NASA is a customer." Bridenstine warned the lawmakers this was critical to maintain US space supremacy in the face of a planned Chinese space station that Beijing hopes will be operational by 2022. The station is named Tiangong, meaning Heavenly Palace, and in June Chinese state media announced it was partnering with 23 entities from 17 countries to carry out scientific experiments on board. These countries included both developed and developing countries, such as France, Germany and Japan, as well as Kenya and Peru, according to Xinhua news agency. "China is rapidly building what they call the 'Chinese International Space Station', and they're rapidly marketing that space station to all of our international partners," said Bridenstine. "It would be a tragedy, if, after all of his time, and all of this effort, we were to abandon low Earth orbit and cede that territory." He explained that the microgravity of ISS offered great potential for scientific advances, from innovations in pharmaceuticals to printing 3D human organs to the creation of artificial retinas to treat people with macular degeneration. Bridenstine said that it was therefore necessary to fund NASA to pay companies to set up a space station, where it would be one of several customers in order to drive down its own costs. This, he added, was vital to "ultimately not cede that territory to another country that doesn't have our interests at heart".
COVID-19 infection higher in hospital cleaners than ICU staff: Report - CNA
Intensive care medics were significantly less likely to have been infected with Covid-19 than cleaners and other healthcare workers in departments deemed lower risk, according to a study of several British hospitals at the peak of the pandemic.
LONDON: Intensive care medics were significantly less likely to have been infected with COVID-19 than cleaners and other healthcare workers in departments deemed lower risk, according to a study of several British hospitals at the peak of the pandemic. The research also found that people of black, Asian and minority ethnicity were nearly twice as likely to have been infected as white colleagues. Advertisement Advertisement It follows several studies suggesting race, income and allocation of personal protective equipment (PPE) create biases in the burden of infections. Researchers said the results could be because those working in intensive therapy units were prioritised for the highest level of masks and other equipment. "We presumed intensive care workers would be at highest risk ... But workers in (intensive therapy units) are relatively well protected compared with other areas," said lead author Alex Richter, a professor of immunology at the University of Birmingham. In the study, published in the journal Thorax, researchers tested more than 500 staff at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs several hospitals and employs more than 20,000 staff. Advertisement Advertisement All the staff were at work in late April, when cases were peaking around a month after the UK went into lockdown. At this time the trust was admitting five patients with serious COVID-19 infection every hour, but capacity to perform tests for infection was severely constrained even for healthcare workers. Researchers offered to give staff who had no symptoms two different tests one to see if they were currently infected and the other to test for antibodies indicating that they had previously had the virus. Nearly 2.5 per cent of staff 13 out of 545 tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19 infection. Researchers also took blood samples from 516 staff and found that 24 per cent of them had antibodies for the virus. This compares to 6 per cent generally in the Midlands region of England at the time. Ten out of 29 cleaners involved in the study or 34.5 per cent had antibodies suggesting a previous infection. The rates were similar for clinicians working in acute medicine and general internal medicine 33 per cent and 30 per cent respectively while staff working in intensive care had the lowest rates (15 per cent, or nine out of 61 participants). The authors said it was not clear from their observational study whether the higher rates of infection among some staff "arises from a greater risk of exposure to the virus, or a greater risk of infection if exposed". "Regardless of the cause, this finding demands urgent further investigation, particularly in view of the ethnic disparities in the outcome from COVID-19," they said. PROTECTING STAFF A slew of studies in the general population have highlighted how people from minority backgrounds in Britain and the United States are disproportionately more likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts. Last month a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal found that frontline health workers were more than three times more likely to test positive for the virus than the general population early in the pandemic, with the rate rising to five times for ethnic minority medical staff. Commenting on the study in Thorax, Tim Cook, an anaesthesia professor at the University of Bristol, said it adds to research suggesting those working in intensive care were at lower risk than staff in other parts of a hospital. He said the availability and type of PPE could be a factor as well as familiarity with more rigorous precautions for sterility and infection prevention in emergency rooms. He added that recent studies suggested patients were more infectious at the beginning of their illness, so may be less likely to spread the virus by the time that they are treated in intensive care. "Those caring for the patients earlier in their illness may be more at risk and this has implications for managing all patient-facing staff on the wards," he added. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
WHO says 172 countries engaging with global COVID-19 vaccine plan - CNA
Some 172 countries are engaging with the WHO-led COVAX plan designed to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday, but more funding is urgently needed and countries should now make binding commitments.
GENEVA: About 172 countries are engaging with the COVAX facility designed to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday (Aug 24), but more funding is needed and countries need now to make binding commitments. Countries wishing to be part of the global COVAX plan have until Aug 31 to submit expressions of interest, WHO officials said, with confirmation of intention to join due by Sep 18, and initial payments due by Oct 9. Advertisement Advertisement WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the facility was critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and would not only pool risk for countries developing and buying vaccines, but also ensure prices are kept "as low as possible". "Vaccine nationalism only helps the virus," he told a media briefing. "The success of the COVAX facility hinges not only on countries signing up to it, but also filling key funding gaps." COVAX is co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, the WHO and the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and is designed to guarantee equitable access globally to COVID-19 vaccines once they are developed and authorised for use. It currently covers nine candidate COVID-19 vaccines and its aim is to secure supplies of and deliver 2 billion doses across countries that sign up by the end of 2021. Advertisement Advertisement "Initially, when there will be limited supply (of COVID-19 vaccines), it's important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk around the globe," Tedros said. He said this included health workers on the front lines of the pandemic, who were "critical to saving lives and stabilising the overall health system". It also urged countries to join its plan to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines so they can work together in a coordinated manner. Bruce Aylward, senior adviser to the WHO director-general, told a news briefing that "the critical thing is to ensure that some vaccine gets to all countries as early as possible". Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
Fauci urges caution on China and Russia COVID-19 vaccines - CNA
Anthony Fauci, the United States' top infectious disease official, raised concerns Friday regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines under development by China and Russia.
WASHINGTON: Anthony Fauci, the United States' top infectious disease official, raised concerns on Friday (Jul 31) regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines under development by China and Russia. Several Chinese companies are at the forefront of the global vaccine race, while Russia has said it hopes to be the first in the world to produce a vaccine for the public, with a target date of September. Advertisement Advertisement But the medicines will likely face heightened scrutiny given that the regulatory systems in both countries are far more opaque than they are in the West. Fauci, who was asked during a Congressional hearing whether the US could make use of Chinese or Russian vaccines if they arrived first, indicated that was unlikely. "I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone," he said. He added: "Claims of having a vaccine ready to distribute before you do testing, I think, is problematic, at best. Advertisement Advertisement "We are going very quickly. I do not believe that there will be vaccines, so far ahead of us, that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines." Last month, Chinese media announced a coronavirus vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics was being used to immunise the Chinese military - making it the first approved for people, albeit in a limited population. Many scientists however raised ethical concerns because the vaccine has not yet begun its final stages of testing. 'SPUTNIK MOMENT'? Two other Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm, have launched final phase three trials in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, respectively. China, where the virus originated, has largely brought its outbreak under control and has therefore had to turn to other countries to test its vaccines. The trials in Brazil and the UAE will be watched particularly closely, given China's history of vaccine and other health scandals. In 2018, more than 200,000 children were administered a defective vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (DPT) that caused paralysis in a few cases. Russia, which was once a global vaccine leader during Soviet times, aims to bring two to market by September and October, respectively. The first is being developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya institute and the defence ministry, and the second by the Vektor state laboratory near the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. Russia has released no scientific data proving the vaccines' safety or efficacy. Nevertheless, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund which is financing the Gamaleya trials, told CNN: "It's a Sputnik moment." Sputnik was the world's first satellite launched by Russia in 1957. Three Western coronavirus vaccines are in final phase three trials. One is produced by US biotech firm Moderna and the National Institutes for Health; one by the University of Oxford and Britain's AstraZeneca; and the last by Germany's BioNTech with US pharmaceutical Pfizer. China and Russia both stand accused of attempting to steal Western coronavirus research - charges they deny. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
Commentary: How did Hong Kong get to a third wave of COVID-19 infections? - CNA
After a year of dealing with protests and months fighting the pandemic, Hong Kong residents have become nonchalant, says Doris Lam.
SINGAPORE: Not even a month after Hong Kong further relaxed its social distancing requirements, the city has been hit by the third wave of new, untraceable local COVID-19 cases, prompting the government to introduce the citys strictest yet social distancing measures which came into effect starting last Wednesday (Jul 15). The latest surge emerged when a cook from a restaurant caught the virus, and may have been turbocharged after a professional caregiver who visited 10 aged care homes and accompanied more to their healthcare checks tested positive. Advertisement Advertisement There are now over 700 new cases in the span of just under two weeks, with a much older group of patients affected. The situation has become more critical as isolation wards have reached 80 per cent capacity. Hong Kong has more than 2,000 confirmed cases and 14 deaths as of Thursday (Jul 23). 86 out of the 108 new confirmed cases were locally transmitted a dramatic increase from the citys 17-day zero local case streak earlier this month. Advertisement Advertisement While the government had hoped a week of social distancing measures could keep the virus under control, it seems unlikely Hong Kongers will be going back to their pre-quarantine life anytime soon. To fight this wave, chief executive Carrie Lam announced on Sunday (Jul 19) that civil servants will work from home and laid out the citys plan to build 2,000 additional quarantine units near Hong Kong Disneyland. Citizens are also required to wear face masks in indoor public places in addition to public transportation, while the ban on dine-in services from 6pm to 5am has been extended for another week. With only a few days to prepare for the citys sweeping social distancing measures, Hong Kongers were quick to accept and adapt to the new rules, learning from the citys previous round of social distancing measures from March to May. As bars, karaoke lounges and other units were ordered to close, restaurants introduced takeaway menus and delivery options to minimise losses. HONG KONG RESIDENTS NONCHALANT ATTITUDE Unlike the first time around, however, Hong Kongers seem to be less fearful of the virus despite its rising tally. Companies, for instance, have been comparatively slower to implement work-from-home arrangements, while MTR trains remain relatively packed during rush hours. Instead of staying closed-off at home, citizens have taken socialising activities outdoors by going on picnics and hikes. Though outdoor gatherings have not been identified as reason for specific clusters, such actions could hasten community spread. Some citizens even decided to break social distancing regulations to honour the one year anniversary of the violent Yuen Long attack. Dozens gathered on Sunday (Jul 19), leading to four arrests for unlawful assembly and several fined for breaking social distancing regulations. The citys new re-imposed measures take away a lot of the freedom Hong Kongers have enjoyed the last few months. After fighting against the pandemic for months, navigating through Hong Kong protests for over a year, and learning about the newly introduced national security law, Hong Kongers are almost numb to the never-ending stream of negative news, which may partially explain citizens nonchalant attitude to the new social distancing measures. While the recurrence of the epidemic in the city is within expectations currently, experts say that the third wave is the worst Hong Kong has faced so far and it seems like we have no one to blame but ourselves. As Hong Kongs COVID-19 rates remained steady for the last two months, the government introduced a suppress and lift strategy in mid-June, and allowed public group gatherings to up to 50 people, according to an exclusive report by South China Morning Post. While the majority of Hong Kong remained vigilant with wearing masks, Hong Kongers slowly and expectedly eased off on following protective measures as vigilantly as before. You can see people taking off their masks in certain places such as beaches, restaurants or group gatherings, while streets, shopping centres and public transport quickly became as packed as pre-COVID days, showing no sign of a pandemic if not for covered faces. HONG KONG GOVERNMENT TO BLAME TOO Although the Hong Kong governments management of the coronavirus in the first two waves deserves credit, with mass testing and social distancing rolled out rapidly, it too now must shoulder part of the blame for the citys third wave outbreak. Eager to lead as a success story in the fight against the virus alongside New Zealand and Taiwan, the Hong Kong government softened rules for tests and quarantine arrangements for airline and cruise crews, thus allowing citizens to return to daily lives by reopening high-risk, high-contact spaces such as gyms, clubs and restaurants. Although a mandatory 14-day quarantine is required for all inbound travellers, the government made the mistake of exempting testing and quarantine for crew staff, which allowed infections to spread, said public health experts, leading to 14 confirmed cases from airline crew and seamen. It should have learnt from the citys second wave, where most infections were imported cases of travellers in March returning from Europe, North America and Southeast Asia. Now critics have expressed concerns over whether sufficient preparations to procure a vaccine are underway. After receiving a triple-digit tally, local infectious disease experts are also warning of the possibility of a citywide curfew to battle the virus. GREATER PRESSURES ON BUSINESSES The continuation of these social distancing measures will create greater pressures on businesses even with the governments relief packages. In April, Lam unveiled an HK$138 billion (US$17.8 billion) COVID-19 relief package that creates 30,000 new jobs and ensures 1.5 million workers will still get paid during the pandemic. However, the unemployment rate continues to rise, reaching 6.2 per cent in the second quarter the highest in more than 15 years and will only get higher. US sanctions and other implications arising from the national security law have added to these economic worries. Although most companies surveyed did not have plans to leave the Hong Kong market yet, business commentators highlight some will, further impacting Hong Kongs failing economy. Even if Hong Kong is able to manage the third wave and keep the outbreak under control, its economy will suffer, especially if or when another wave of the virus hits the city. Hong Kongers should focus on the things we can take action towards and change by practising social distancing, and continuing to implement preventative measures at home and in public. This way, we can all do our part to keep our city safe. Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram Doris Lam recently graduated from the University of Hong Kong with a Bachelor of Arts.
Wave of promising study results raise hopes for COVID-19 vaccines - CNA
CHICAGO: Early data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines released on Monday (Jul 20), including a closely-watched candidate from Oxford University, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognise and fight the novel co…
CHICAGO: Early data from trials of three potential COVID-19 vaccines released on Monday (Jul 20), including a closely-watched candidate from Oxford University, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognise and fight the novel coronavirus without serious side effects. Whether any of these efforts will result in a vaccine capable of protecting billions of people and ending the global pandemic that has claimed more than 600,000 lives is still far from clear. All will require much larger studies to prove they can safely prevent infection or serious disease. Advertisement Advertisement The vaccine being developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca along with the Oxford University, induced an immune response in all study participants who received two doses without any worrisome side effects. A coronavirus vaccine under development by CanSinoBiologics and China's military research unit, likewise showed that it appears to be safe and induced an immune response in most of the 508 healthy volunteers who got one dose of the vaccine, researchers reported. Some 77 per cent of study volunteers experienced side effects like fever or injection site pain, but none considered to be serious. Both the AstraZeneca and CanSino vaccines use a harmless cold virus known as an adenovirus to carry genetic material from the novel coronavirus into the body. Studies on both vaccines were published in the journal The Lancet. Advertisement Advertisement "Overall, the results of both trials are broadly similar and promising," Naor Bar-Zeev and William Moss, two vaccine experts from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote in a commentary in The Lancet. However, the CanSino candidate again showed signs that people who had previously been exposed to the particular adenovirus in its vaccine had a reduced immune response. The study authors called that "the biggest obstacle" for the vaccine to overcome. German biotech BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer released details from a small study in Germany of a different type of vaccine that uses ribonucleic acid (RNA) - a chemical messenger that contains instructions for making proteins. The vaccine instructs cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the coronavirus. The body recognises these virus-like proteins as foreign invaders and can then mount an immune response against the actual virus. In the not-yet peer reviewed study of 60 healthy adults, the vaccine induced virus-neutralising antibodies in those given two doses, a result in-line with a previous early-stage US trial. The burst of announcements followed publication last week of results of Moderna's vaccine trial, showing similarly promising early results. Moderna's vaccine also uses a messenger RNA platform. "It's encouraging that all these vaccines seem to induce antibodies in people," said former World Health Organization (WHO) assistant director-general Marie-Paule Kieny of the French research institute Inserm. "This proves that the science is moving forward very quickly, which is a good sign." 'LONG WAY TO GO' None of these leading contenders has shown side effects that could sideline their efforts so far, but all must still prove they are safe and effective in trials involving thousands of subjects, including those at high-risk for severe COVID-19, such as the elderly and people with diabetes. Historically, just 6 per cent of vaccine candidates end up making it to market, often after a years-long testing process. Vaccine makers hope to dramatically compress that timeline through faster trials and by manufacturing at scale even before the products prove successful. Several manufacturers have US government backing with a goal of having a coronavirus vaccine by year's end as cases continue to rise at a record pace. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is one of 150 in development globally, but is considered the most advanced. Late-stage trials have begun in Brazil and South Africa and are due to start in the United States, where the infection prevalence is highest. In its Phase I trial, the vaccine induced so-called neutralising antibodies - the kind that stop the virus from infecting cells - in 91 per cent of individuals a month after they got one dose, and in 100 per cent of subjects who got a second dose. These levels were on par with the antibodies produced by people who survived COVID-19 - a key benchmark of potential success. Oxford researcher Sarah Gilbert said the trial could not determine whether one or two doses would be needed to provide immunity. The vaccine, known as AZD1222, also induced the body to make T cells - activating a second part of the immune system that experts increasingly believe will be important for a lasting immune response. Recent studies show that some recovered patients who tested negative for coronavirus antibodies developed T cells in response to their infection. Scientists think both are important aspects of an effective coronavirus vaccine. Dr Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies programme, said the generation of both T-cell and neutralising antibody responses was positive, adding, "there is a long way to go". Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram
Crazy Rich Asians author's new book will also be turned into a movie - CNA
Kevin Kwan’s Sex And Vanity has been picked up for a film adaptation by Sony Pictures and SK Global Entertainment.