China giving experimental coronavirus vaccines to high-risk groups since July, says official - International - World - Ahram Online
China has been giving experimental coronavirus vaccines to groups facing high infection risks since July, a health official told state media. No vaccine has yet passed final, large-scale trials to prove it is safe and effective enough to protect people from contracting the virus that has led to almost 800,000 deaths worldwide. The aim is to boost the immunity of specific groups of people, including medical workers and those who work at food markets and in the transportation and service sectors, Zheng Zhongwei, a National Health Commission official, told state TV in an interview aired late on Saturday. Authorities could consider modestly expanding the emergency use programme to try to prevent possible outbreaks during the autumn and winter, added Zheng, who heads the Chinese government-led team that coordinates state resources for coronavirus vaccine development. The guidelines for emergency use of potential coronavirus vaccines, approved on June 24 according to Zheng, have not been made public. State media Global Times reported in June that China had been offering candidate coronavirus vaccines to employees at state-owned firms travelling overseas. Some countries are sceptical about China's use of experimental vaccines. Papua New Guinea has denied entry to Chinese nationals who participated in a coronavirus vaccine trial, according to the Australian newspaper. China's coronavirus vaccines will be priced close to cost, Zheng said. "It does not mean that companies cannot make profits," Zheng said. "Companies should decide on moderate profits, or reasonable profits based on costs." A potential coronavirus vaccine being developed by a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) could cost no more than 1,000 yuan ($144) for two shots, Sinopharm chairman Liu Jingzhen told state media last week. "[The price] will definitely be lower than what Liu said," Zheng said.
FACTBOX: Latest on the spread of the coronavirus around the world - International - World - Ahram Online
More than 1.7 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 109,519 have died, according to a Reuters tally, as of 1400 GMT.Deaths And Infections Europe * British Prime Minister Boris Johnson left hospital and thanked staff for saving his life from COVID-19, but his government was forced to defend its response to the pandemic as the national death toll passed 10,000. * Pope Francis called for global solidarity in fighting the pandemic and its economic fallout, urging the relaxation of international sanctions, debt relief for poor nations and ceasefires in all conflicts. * Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said any further loosening of the country's lockdown restrictions would depend on more progress in the fight against the coronavirus, a day before some companies plan to reopen their doors. * The death toll in France rose at a slightly slower pace on Sunday than a day earlier, the French public health authority said, adding that the lockdown was producing its first effects. Americas * Americans spent Easter Sunday on lockdown as the US toll from the pandemic surpassed 21,300 deaths and more than half a million confirmed cases. * The United States needs to ramp up testing for the coronavirus as the White House considers when and how to lift stay-at-home restrictions and lockdowns, US health experts said. Asia And the Pacific * Chinese cities near the border with Russia said they would tighten border controls and quarantine measures on arrivals from abroad after the number of imported cases of COVID-19 hit a record high. * Indonesia imposed curbs on public transport ahead of the annual exodus to home villages that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month, seeking to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the world's fourth most populous country. * India said its hospital network is adequately prepared to tackle the spread of the virus, with over 100,000 beds ready to cater to a potential surge in patient numbers. * Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prompted an angry response from some Twitter users after sharing a video of himself lounging on a sofa with his dog, drinking tea and reading, along with a message telling people to stay at home. Middle East And Africa * Thousands of displaced Syrians have begun moving back to their homes in war-torn Idlib province despite the risk of renewed conflict, some driven by fear that the coronavirus could wreak havoc on crowded camps near the Turkish border. * African ambassadors in China have written to the country's foreign minister over what they call discrimination against Africans as the country seeks to prevent a resurgence of the coronavirus. * South Africa, which banned the sale of all alcohol and cigarettes under a lockdown that triggered a wave of lootings of liquor shops, said on Sunday it had caught police officers who were complicit in illegal alcohol sales. Economic Fallout * Smithfield Foods, the world's biggest pork processor, said it will shut a US plant indefinitely due to a rash of coronavirus cases among employees and warned the country was moving "perilously close to the edge" in supplies for grocers. * India and other South Asian countries are likely to record their worst growth performance in four decades this year due to the pandemic, the World Bank said.. * JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest lender in the United States by assets, is raising borrowing standards this week for most new home loans as the bank moves to mitigate lending risk stemming from the coronavirus disruption.