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Sunday, September 13, 2020, 17:45
AstraZeneca resumes UK trials of COVID-19 vaccine
By Agencies
Sunday, September 13, 2020, 17:45 By Agencies

Laboratory technicians handle capped vials as part of filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, conducted on a high-performance aseptic vial filling line on Sept 11, 2020 at the Italian biologics’ manufacturing facility of multinational corporation Catalent in Anagni, southeast of Rome, during the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (VINCENZO PINTO / AFP)

LONDON / ADDIS ABABA / ALGIERS / SAO PAULO / OTTAWA / BOGOTA / PRAGUE / CAIRO / PARIS / BERLIN / TBILISI  / TRIPOLI / RABAT / MEXICO CITY / MOSCOW - AstraZeneca  has resumed British clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, one of the most advanced in development, after getting the green light from safety watchdogs, the company said on Saturday.

Brazil registered 814 new deaths from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the last 24 hours, which brought the death toll to 131,210, the Ministry of Health reported

The late-stage trials of the experimental vaccine, developed with researchers from the University of Oxford, were suspended this week after an illness in a study subject in Britain, casting doubts on an early rollout.

“On 6 September, the standard review process triggered a voluntary pause to vaccination across all global trials to allow review of safety data by independent committees, and international regulators,” AstraZeneca said.

It added that safety reviewers had recommended to Britain’s Medicines Health Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that it was safe to resume the British trials.

The patient involved in the study had been reportedly suffering from neurological symptoms associated with a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.

AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, said it could not disclose further medical information.

“The Company will continue to work with health authorities across the world and be guided as to when other clinical trials can resume to provide the vaccine broadly, equitably and at no profit during this pandemic,” AstraZeneca said.

It declined to elaborate further on when other global trials were expected to restart.

The Serum Institute of India said it would restart its trials once it had permission from the Drugs Controller General of India.

Brazil’s health regulator ANVISA said on Saturday evening it had approved the resumption of trials after reviewing data sent by the MHRA.

The Federal University of Sao Paulo, which is conducting the paused trials, said in a statement that 4,600 of the planned 5,000 volunteers have been recruited and vaccinated without any of them reporting any serious health issues.

Governments around the world are desperate for a vaccine to help end the pandemic, which has caused more than 900,000 deaths and global economic turmoil. The World Health Organization (WHO) had flagged AstraZeneca’s as the most promising.

The vaccine is in late-stage clinical trials in the United States, Britain, Brazil and South Africa and additional trials are planned in Japan and Russia.

Almost 8 million Britons will be subjected to tighter lockdown restrictions next week after fresh measures were imposed in the West Midlands and Scotland, local media reported Saturday.

From Tuesday, households in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull will be banned from mixing after the region reported a surge in coronavirus cases, according to the Evening Standard newspaper.

ALSO READ: Virus spreading exponentially in UK for first time since March


The number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent reached 1,339,117, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said Saturday.

The continental disease control and prevention agency said in a statement that death toll related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic also rose to 32,356 as of late Saturday afternoon.

The Africa CDC, which noted that the virus has so far spread into the 55 African Union (AU) members, also said that some 1,076,207 people who have been infected with COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far.

The most affected African countries in terms of the number of positive cases include South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia and Nigeria respectively, according to the Africa CDC.

According to the Africa CDC, Africa's total COVID-19 cases represent about 5 percent of all cases reported globally.

The Africa CDC also disclosed that nine African countries account for 81 percent of the new COVID-19 cases reported during the past week, including South Africa at 27 percent, Ethiopia at 17 percent, Morocco at 16 percent, Libya at 5 percent, Algeria at 4 percent, Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia and Egypt at 3 percent each.

In terms of reporting the highest cumulative incidence COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in Africa, South Africa placed first at 1,079, Cabo Verde second at 647, and Djibouti at 539, according to the Africa CDC. 


Algeria on Saturday reported 255 new COVID-19 cases and six new fatalities, bringing the total infections to 48,007 and the death toll to 1,605, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

It is the lowest daily infection increase since June 29, according to the ministry statement.

Meanwhile, 152 more patients were discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recoveries to 33,875.

Algeria has been resuming economic and commercial activities since June 7 as part of its efforts to return to normal life.

On Feb 25, Algeria recorded its first infection with COVID-19.


Brazil registered 814 new deaths from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the last 24 hours, which brought the death toll to 131,210, the Ministry of Health reported on Saturday.

The ministry also said that the number of cases rose to 4,315,687 after the incorporation of 33,523 new cases.

Similar to last weekend, high temperatures on the country's coasts brought thousands of people to the beach, particularly in the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, despite warnings to respect social distancing and avoiding crowds.

The state of Sao Paulo, which had seen a decline in the death rate from the virus for four weeks, is the current epicenter of the virus in Brazil with 32,567 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro with 16,985 deaths.

Supporters march during the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights pro gun march in Ottawa, Ontario, on Sept 12, 2020. (LARS HAGBERG / AFP)


Canada is very concerned about the steady rise in the number of the COVID-19 cases as an average of 630-plus cases were reported daily across the country over the past week.

In a statement on Saturday, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said that was more than 20 percent higher than the previous week, and more than 65 percent higher compared with four weeks ago when an average of just over 380 cases was reported daily.

There have been 135,626 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,163 deaths. Labs across Canada tested an average of 47,806 people daily over the past week with 1.1 percent testing positive, said PHAC.

The four most-affected provinces -- Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, are each reporting between 100 to more than 200 new cases per day, the agency said.

Saturday morning, Quebec reported 244 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily figure since the beginning of June while Ontario confirmed an additional 232 cases of COVID-19, also the highest daily surge.

"Increasing daily case counts signify heightened disease activity that poses a risk for accelerated or 'exponential' epidemic growth to occur," Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said in the statement.

Meanwhile, Toronto opened a center for those with COVID-19 who cannot self-isolate at home, a service the Canadian government said is open to other cities across the country.

Toronto reported 77 new cases in the province on Saturday, the highest single-day count since mid-June.

Lower-income neighborhoods were disproportionately affected by COVID-19, in part because individuals living in these communities, once they tested positive, may have experienced difficulty to properly isolate themselves, Toronto Mayor John Tory said.


A total of 6,876 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Colombia over the past 24 hours, bringing the national count to 708,964, the health ministry said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the nationwide death toll rose by 216 to 22,734, it said.

Luis Fernando Suarez, governor of the northwestern department of Antioquia, said that the mayor of the town of Taraza had died from the disease.

Miguel Vergara, secretary of economic development for Atlantico, said that beaches in the towns of Santa Marta and Puerto Colombia would be reopened on Sept. 18 with strict bio-security measures.

President Ivan Duque has announced that the Selective Isolation, Distancing, and Individual Responsibility would come into force this month in a bid to reactivate the nation's economy.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic reported its biggest single-day increase in new coronavirus infections for a third straight day on Sunday, recording 1,541 cases as the country battles a surge in the virus in recent weeks.

It was the fifth day in a row with new infections above 1,000 for the country of 10.7 million after cases began to accelerate in August.

Adjusted for population, the country has reported 94 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control data. Only Spain and France have seen a bigger spike in that time.

The Czech Republic came through an initial outbreak of the coronavirus that began in March relatively well compared to western European neighbours and has kept the death toll lower than most peers.

As of Saturday, 453 patients had died out of a total 35,401 cases, with 60% of patients having recovered.

The country was one of the first in Europe to mandate wearing masks, shut schools and retail businesses, and restricted travel to contain the spread of the virus.


Egypt registered on Saturday 148 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections in the country to 100,856, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry's statement, 20 more patients died from coronavirus on Saturday, raising the death toll to 5,627.

Meanwhile, 788 COVID-19 patients left hospitals in the past 24 hours after being fully cured, bringing the total recoveries to 83,261.

Egypt announced its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Feb. 14 and the first death from the highly infectious virus on March 8.

The most populous Arab country has been easing relevant restrictions over the past couple of months as part of a coexistence plan to maintain anti-coronavirus precautionary measures while resuming economic activities.


France has had 10,561 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, health authorities said on Saturday, a new daily record as the number topped 10,000 for the first time.

The latest daily count, surpassing the previous record of 9,843 new infections reported on Thursday, highlights a resurgence of the disease in France.

The rise led the government to outline additional measures on Friday to avert a return to the general lockdown put in place earlier in the year. Prime Minister Jean Castex promised steps to speed up tests and toughen local measures in high-infection zones.

In its daily update, the French health ministry also reported that 772 clusters were being investigated, an increase of 86 in the past 24 hours.

Over the past week, there had been 2,432 arrivals in hospital for COVID-19, including 417 entries into intensive care units, the ministry said.

The death toll since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak this year in French hospitals and nursing homes has reached 30,910, with 17 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, it added.


Georgia reported 158 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, a record single-day high since the outbreak of the virus in the country, bringing its total to 2,075.

The National Center for Disease Control and Public Health said that 87 of the 158 new cases were confirmed in the western Adjara region.

As of Saturday, 1,363 of the 2,075 patients have recovered in the country, while 19 others have died, said the center.

Meanwhile, the Georgian Civil Aviation Agency announced that the coronavirus-related restrictions on regular international flights have been prolonged until Oct. 31.

Georgia reported its first confirmed case on Feb 26 and shut down air traffic on March 21 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.


The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 948, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The reported death toll rose by two, the tally showed.


The National Center for Disease Control of Libya on Saturday reported 11,922 COVID-19 recoveries following the adoption of a new recovery protocol.

The new protocol states that patients who do not show symptoms are released from quarantine following 11 days after diagnosis, while cases that show symptoms are released from quarantine after 13 days, following improvement with no need to use antipyretic. The new protocol also states that severe COVID-19 cases are only deemed recovered after performing RT-PCR tests following quarantine of 20 days after diagnosis.

The total number of recovered COVID-19 patients in Libya, after the adoption of the new recovery protocol, is 12,100, the center confirmed.

The center on Saturday reported 440 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country so far to 22,348, including 354 fatalities.


Mexico reported 5,674 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 421 additional fatalities on Saturday, bringing its totals to 663,973 infections and 70,604 deaths, according to updated Health Ministry data.

The government has said the real number of infected people is likely to be significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

So far, Mexico’s death toll from the pandemic is the fourth highest globally, and the 13th highest on a per capita basis, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The spread of the virus has ravaged an already slumping economy, which is now seen contracting by up to 13 percent this year, the deepest downturn since the 1930s-era Great Depression.


Morocco reported 2,238 new COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths on Saturday, raising the tally of infections to 84,435 and the death toll to 1,553.

The total number of recoveries from COVID-19 in Morocco increased to 65,867 after 1,673 new ones were added, said the ministry of health in a statement.

The COVID-19 fatality rate in Morocco is now 1.8 percent and the current recovery rate is 78 percent, while 252 patients are in intensive care units.

The epidemiological situation linked to the coronavirus has undergone a surge in the North African country since August with the daily new cases exceeding 1,500 on average.

Moroccan government decided on Wednesday to extend the state of health emergency for the sixth time until Oct 10.

A woman walks to cast her ballot to vote in regional polls at a polling station in Novosibirsk, Russia on Sept 13, 2020. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV / AFP)


Russia reported 5,449 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, pushing its national tally to 1,062,811, the fourth largest in the world.

Authorities said 94 people had died in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 18,578.

READ MORE: UN's Guterres calls for US$35b more for WHO vaccine program

A student has his temperature taken as he arrives at STAR Eco Station Tutoring & Enrichment Center where he will follow his remote school classes, on Sept 10, 2020 in Culver City, California. (ROBYN BECK / AFP)


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Saturday reported 6,427,058 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 46,045 cases from its previous count, and said the number of deaths had risen by 1,035 to 192,388.

The CDC's tally of cases of the respiratory illness known as COVID-19, caused by a new coronavirus, was of 4 pm EDT Sept 11 versus its previous report a day earlier.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

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