US endorses Covid therapy, G20 pushes for global access to vaccines

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Washington (AFP)

U.S. drug regulators urgently approved Covid-19 antibody treatment on Saturday, and G20 countries pushed for global access to vaccines as the pandemic led to further closures in parts of the world.

With cases surpassing 12 million in the United States, the highest in the world, many Americans were nonetheless heading to airports to travel for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, despite warnings from health officials to stay away. House.

Some U.S. states were imposing new restrictions, including California, where a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was in effect.

Across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce that restrictions across England are to end on December 2 as scheduled, his office said.

But the lockdown will be followed by a return to a three-tier set of regional borders.

Britain has suffered more than any other country in Europe from the coronavirus, with more than 54,000 deaths in 1.4 million cases.

In the Middle East, Iran has announced that it has closed non-essential businesses in more than half of its towns and villages for up to two weeks and introduced movement restrictions.

– Trump’s therapy –

The approval of antibody treatment in the United States offers some hope for those infected, although a relatively small number of doses will be available in the coming weeks.

The same therapy was used to treat President Donald Trump when he was sickened by the virus.

The green light for drugmaker Regeneron came after REGEN-COV2, a combination of two lab-made antibodies, reduced Covid-19-related hospitalizations or emergency room visits for patients with conditions under -jacent.

“Authorizing these monoclonal antibody therapies can help ambulatory patients avoid hospitalization and ease the burden on our health care system,” said Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Regeneron’s antibody therapy is the second synthetic antibody therapy to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA after a similar therapy developed by Eli Lilly was granted status on November 9.

The company said it expects to have doses ready for 80,000 patients by the end of November and for around 300,000 total patients by the end of January 2021.

These will be made available to US patients at no cost reimbursable under a US government program.

But with cases soaring in the United States and around the world, that means access will not be widespread. The United States has added more than 360,000 new cases of Covid-19 in the past two days alone.

– Vaccine hopes –

The American company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have also received positive news about the vaccines in recent days.

The companies requested emergency approval of their vaccine candidate on Friday, becoming the first in the United States or Europe to do so, with trials showing it to be 95% effective.

On the heels of these companies is a vaccine developed by another biotech company, Moderna, which claims its product is also around 95% effective.

But despite these developments, there are fears that countries around the world may have insufficient access to vaccines, and G20 countries meeting for a virtual summit on Saturday underscored those concerns.

“Although we are optimistic about the progress made in the development of vaccines, therapies and diagnostic tools for Covid-19, we must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all”, said Saudi King Salman, host of the summit.

“We have a duty to rise to the challenge together at this summit and to send a strong message of hope and comfort to our people by adopting policies to alleviate this crisis,” he told world leaders in the opening speech.

Advances in vaccination have raised hope in Italy, one of the countries worst affected by the pandemic.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Saturday that the country planned to launch a mass vaccination campaign in January.

The vaccination campaign “will start towards the end of January, when we hope to receive the first doses,” Speranza told a meeting of pharmacists.

Italy, like its European peers struggling to cope with a devastating second wave of the pandemic, has recorded around 1.3 million cases and a death toll of nearly 50,000 since the coronavirus spread. installed at the beginning of this year.

purse-mjs / axn

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