Russia becomes first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine, says Putin

first_imgPresident Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia had become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.The vaccine still has to complete final trials, raising concerns among some experts at the speed of its approval, but the Russian business conglomerate Sistema has said it expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year.Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated in the coming weeks, a source told Reuters last month. Speaking at a government meeting on state television, Putin dismissed those concerns, saying the vaccine, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, was safe and that it had even been administered to one of his daughters.”I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks,” said Putin.He said he hoped mass production would start soon.Phase III trialThe vaccine’s approval by the health ministry comes before the start of a larger trial involving thousands of participants, commonly known as a Phase III trial.Such trials, which require a certain rate of participants catching the virus to observe the vaccine’s effect, are normally considered essential precursors for a vaccine to receive regulatory approval.The Moscow-based Association of Clinical Trials Organizations (ACTO), a trade body representing the world’s top drugmakers in Russia this week urged the health ministry to postpone approval until that final trial had been successfully completed.In a letter to the ministry, it said there were high risks associated with registering a drug before that happened.”It is during this phase that the main evidence of a vaccine’s efficacy is collected, as well as information on adverse reactions that could appear in certain groups of patients: people with weakened immunity, people with concomitant diseases and so forth,” it said.Some international experts have also questioned the speed at which Russia approved its vaccine.”Normally you need a large number of people to be tested before you approve a vaccine,” said Peter Kremsner from the University Hospital in Tuebingen, currently testing CureVac’s COVID-19 vaccine in clinical trials.”In that respect, I think it’s reckless to do that [approve it] if lots of people haven’t already been tested.”Duncan Matthews, a professor of intellectual property law at Queen Mary University of London, said news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine was to be welcomed, “but safety must be the priority”.”The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have fast-track approval procedures for emergency humanitarian use and we need to see evidence that Russia is adopting an equally prudent approach,” Matthews said in an emailed comment.More than 100 possible vaccines are being developed around the world to try to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. At least four are in final Phase III human trials, according to WHO data. Topics :center_img Regulatory approval paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population and authorities hope it will allow the economy, which has been battered by fallout from the virus, to return to full capacity.Kirill Dmitriev, head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, hailed the development as a historic “Sputnik moment”, comparable to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first satellite.The vaccine will be marketed under the name ‘Sputnik V’ on foreign markets, he said. State media have trumpeted the news.But the speed at which Russia has moved, approving a vaccine before the final stages of clinical trials to test safety and efficacy are over, has worried some scientists, who fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety.last_img read more

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Ready-to-buy home hunters hit record high amid FOMO

first_imgHome buying intentions have reached a record high, according to CBA. Picture: iStock.THE number of people wanting to buy a home has hit a record high, with hundreds of potential buyers flooding through the doors of the first Brisbane open homes of 2020.Data from the nation’s biggest bank reveals early signs of a positive ‘wealth effect’ in the housing market and suggests the residential construction downturn should reach a bottom mid-year. RELATED: Brisbane auction market fires up Real estate agents are reporting huge numbers through open homes so far in 2020.Commonwealth Bank chief economist Michael Blythe said the lift in home buying intentions suggested the pick-up in dwelling prices in the second half of 2019 would continue into the first half of this year.“Past cycles show that leading indicators like building approvals turn about three months after home buying intentions start to lift,” Mr Blythe said. “A bottoming in the construction cycle would remove a major growth drag on the economy, and also helps retailing.” Commonwealth Bank Australia chief economist Michael Blythe. Photo: Hollie Adams.Home values in Brisbane have been slowly increasing since May, following the re-election of the Coalition government, interest rate cuts and the loosening of lending criteria by APRA.They rose 0.7 per cent in December, on the back of a 0.8 per cent increase in November, according to CoreLogic.Home building in the Queensland capital is also turning a corner, up 3 per cent in the September quarter — the highest growth in the country, according to the Bureau of Statistics. Large crowds have been attending auctions and the numbers of registered bidders are increasing. Picture: Andrew Henshaw.Selling agent Joanna Giannotis of Place Bulimba said she was seeing a significant change in buyer mentality.The current sales campaign of a five-bedroom house at 10 Weal Ave, Tarragindi, attracted more than 80 viewings in the first week.“They are definitely more in ‘buy mode’,” Ms Giannotis said.“I think it’s confidence. Confidence that the market is going in the right direction and they need to get into the market now.” MORE: Home sold in days as buyers return to market More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus10 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market10 hours ago This house at 50 Park St, Kelvin Grove, had huge numbers of people through its doors at its first open home.Another four-bedroom house at 50 Park St, Kelvin Grove, saw 90 viewings in the first two days and 10 offers at the first open home. At the weekend, a two-bedroom apartment in the Elystan Court building in New Farm sold at auction for $925,000 after 25 bids from six bidders and a campaign that attracted 80 viewings. The ground floor unit in this complex at 38 Elystan Rd, New Farm, attracted huge interest.Marketing agent Tom Lyne of Ray White New Farm said two of his recent auctions also attracted six registered bidders, which was well above the Brisbane average.Mr Lyne said he had also noticed buyers were more willing to engage at auctions.“Buyers are putting their hand up a lot earlier (at auctions) and we’re seeing massive numbers at inspections,” Mr Lyne said. “Given interest rates are staying at the level they’re at … and what’s happening in Brisbane as a whole, people are more confident and don’t want to miss out.”last_img read more

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