Author Topic: Covidcare:  (Read 2287 times)

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Re: Covidcare: Remdesivir clinical trial shows no benefit
« Reply #30 on: April 24, 2020, 01:23:43 PM »
Remdesivir clinical trial in China shows no benefit for Covid-19 patients: WHO
Antiviral drug Remdesivir was found to be ineffective in speeding up the recovery rate of patients suffering from Covid-19 or protecting patients from death, clinical tests in China have shown, according to a report on the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which was later withdrawn.

According to the report, researchers studied 237 patients, administering the Gilead Sciences drug to 158 patients and comparing their progress with the remaining 79, who received a placebo.

After a month, 13.9 per cent of the patients taking the drug had died compared to 12.8 per cent of those receiving the placebo. The trial was stopped early because of side-effects.

WHO later took the report off its website.

A spokesman for Gilead Sciences said the drug testing programme was cancelled shortly after launch since there were too few patients participating and hence a significant statistical conclusion could not be drawn.

However, she stated that Remdesivir tended to help treat patients in the first stage. - nationthailand.com

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Re: Covidcare: Fact versus fiction
« Reply #31 on: April 25, 2020, 03:59:20 PM »
Coronavirus and COVID-19: Fact versus fiction

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's musings about whether disinfectants and ultraviolet light can be inserted into patients' bodies to treat COVID-19 have alarmed doctors and drawn warnings from the makers of Lysol, Dettol and Clorox.

Here are some other claims that have circulated about how to treat COVID-19 or stop the transmission of the new coronavirus, and the facts according to doctors and health experts:

TREATMENT

Fiction: Disinfectant injected into people infected with the new coronavirus could help clear COVID-19, the disease it causes.

Fact: Drinking or injecting bleach or other disinfectants is extremely dangerous and could result in death.

Fiction: Ultraviolet light inserted into the body could help kill the virus and speed recovery.

Fact: While UV light is known to kill viruses contained in droplets in the air, doctors say there is no way it could be introduced into the human body to target cells infected with COVID-19.

Fiction: Antibiotics can prevent and treat the new coronavirus.

Fact: Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. They will not prevent or treat infection with the new coronavirus.

There are currently no specific proven medicines for COVID-19 infection, but those infected can relieve and treat mild symptoms with over-the-counter fever-reducing medicines such as acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, and aspirin.

TRANSMISSION

Fiction: The new coronavirus can be spread by mosquito bites and in Chinese food.

Fact: No. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus that spreads primarily via droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes out, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

PROTECTION

Fiction: Regularly rinsing your nose with saline can prevent infection with COVID-19.

Fact: There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people. There is some weak evidence that the practice can help some people recover more quickly from the common cold, but it does not prevent respiratory infections.

Fiction: Some social media posts suggest that spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body can protect against COVID-19 infection, or that gargling bleach or drinking excessive amounts of water can somehow "flush it out."

Fact: There is no evidence to back these claims.

Good hygiene practices including frequent hand washing and avoiding close social contact can help reduce the risk of infection.

Fiction: Hand dryers are effective in killing the new coronavirus.

Fact: No. Hand dryers are not effective against COVID-19, but frequently cleaning your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub, or washing them with soap and water, is. Clean hands should be dried thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer.

Fiction: Cold weather, hot weather, snow, eating garlic or taking a hot bath have also been suggested as ways people can prevent themselves from becoming infected.

Fact: There is no evidence behind these claims and no evidence as yet to suggest that COVID-19 will be affected by weather or the seasons.

The best way to protect yourself is by washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with anyone who might be infected. This way, you can eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that might occur by touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland in London and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Howard Goller)

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US stays out of global plan to speed up Covid-19 drugs, vaccine
World leaders pledged on Friday to accelerate work on tests, drugs and vaccines against COVID-19 and to share them around the globe, but the United States did not take part in the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa were among those who joined a video conference to launch what the WHO billed as a "landmark collaboration" to fight the pandemic.

The aim is to speed development of safe and effective drugs, tests and vaccines to prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19, the lung disease caused be the novel coronavirus - and ensure equal access to treatments for rich and poor.

"We are facing a common threat which we can only defeat with a common approach," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as he opened the virtual meeting.

"Experience has told us that even when tools are available they have not been equally available to all. We cannot allow that to happen."

During the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009, there was criticism that distribution of vaccines was not equitable as wealthier countries were able to purchase more.

"We must make sure that people who need them get them," said Peter Sands, head of the Global Fund to Fight on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. "The lessons from AIDS must be learned. Too many millions died before anti-retroviral medicines were made widely accessible."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the objective at a global pledging effort on May 4 would be to raise 7.5 billion euros ($8.10 billion) to ramp up work on prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

"This is a first step only, but more will be needed in the future," von der Leyen told the conference.

"COMMON FIGHT"

Leaders from Asia, the Middle East and the Americas also joined the videoconference, but several big countries did not participate, including China, India and Russia.

A spokesman for the U.S. mission in Geneva had earlier told Reuters that the United States would not be involved.

"Although the United States was not in attendance at the meeting in question, there should be no doubt about our continuing determination to lead on global health matters, including the current COVID crisis," he said by email.

"We remain deeply concerned about the WHO's effectiveness, given that its gross failures helped fuel the current pandemic," he later said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has lambasted the WHO as being slow to react to the outbreak and being "China-centric" and announced a suspension of funding.

Tedros has steadfastly defended the WHO's handling of the pandemic and repeatedly committed to conducting a post-pandemic evaluation, as the agency does with all crises.

Macron, Merkel, Ramaphosa, and Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were among those voicing strong support to WHO.

Macron urged all G7 and G20 countries to get behind the initiative, adding: "And I hope we'll manage to reconcile around this joint initiative both China and the U.S., because this is about saying 'the fight against COVID-19 is a common human good and there should be no division in order to win this battle'."

Merkel said: "This concerns a global public good, to produce this vaccine and to distribute it in all parts of the world."

Ramaphosa, chairman of the African Union, warned that the continent - with its generally poor standards of healthcare - was "extremely vulnerable to the ravages of this virus and is in need of support".

VACCINE TRIALS

More than 2.7 million people have been infected with COVID-19 and nearly 190,000 have died from it since the new coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, according to a Reuters tally.

"As new diagnostics, treatments and vaccines become available, we have a responsibility to get them out equitably with the understanding that all lives have equal value," said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, which was WHO's second largest donor last year.

More than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are being developed, including six already in clinical trials, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, a public-private partnership that leads immunisation campaigns in poor countries.

"We need to ensure that there are enough vaccines for everyone, we are going to need global leadership to identify and prioritise vaccine candidates," he told a Geneva news briefing.

Yuan Qiong, senior legal and policy advisor at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Access Campaign welcomed the pledges but called for concrete steps. "There shouldn't be any patent monopoly and profiteering out of this pandemic," she told Reuters. - Reuters

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Re: Covidcare: Medical mask vending machine
« Reply #33 on: April 26, 2020, 06:08:41 PM »
there should be one on every corner or 7-eleven, every corner  ;)

Medical mask vending machine opens in Samut Prakan  nationthailand.com
 It is the second mask vending machine after one for cloth masks opened on the Airport Link train route in the beginning of April. People in Samut Prakarn shared a photo of the medical mask vending machine, creating excitement among netizens.

 The machine sells disposable medical masks at Bt100 per pack consisting of 10 pieces. The three-layer surgical mask offers 95 per cent protection against bacteria, and is located in front of Serm Suk Market 2, Bang Bo district.
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Thai firm set to test Covid-19 vaccine candidate on humans
A Thai-French firm says its development of a vaccine for Covid-19 is at an advanced stage, with human trials set to begin in the next few weeks.

Bio-tech corporation BioNet-Asia is currently testing whether the candidate vaccine is effective in mice. If so, the firm will begin conducting two vaccine trials on humans, said company founder Vitoon Wonghanku.

The Public Health Ministry is supervising the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, while the results of the project are being passed on to the World Health Organisation (WHO), he added.

The candidate vaccine was injected into mice on April 9. It will take scientists around five weeks to measure whether it has been effective, with results of the animal trial expected in May.

So far, between Bt100 million and Bt200 million has been invested in the project. A further 500 million to 1 billion will be spent on the next phases, including human trials and product registration.

nationthailand.com
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CM University making 3D-printed face-mask ‘enhancers’



Chiang Mai University is manufacturing 3D-printed face-mask “enhancers” for medical staff to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection.

The university’s Biomedical Engineering Institute (BMEi) has announced that it has designed a face-mask enhancer, a specialised apparatus that can help snap a sanitary face mask to a wearer’s face and reduce the open space through which viruses and germs can enter.

“The BMEi face-mask enhancer will help increase safety for medical staff, who have to be in close contact with infected patients for long hours,” said the institute. “It is made of plastic from 3D printing and will come in three sizes – S, M and L – to suit the wearer’s face structure.”

In the early stage the institute will manufacture the enhancers in limited numbers for medical staff at selected hospitals before letting private manufacturers produce them in high volume for the general public.

“At present we still have not perfected the mass production technique and therefore have to make it one by one from the printer, resulting in slow manufacturing and high cost,” said the BMEi.

The institute had previously designed a reusable face shield for health workers and the public with the aim to reduce waste, which it predicted would lead to a serious environmental impact after the Covid-19 situation returns to normal.

For more information on the product, you can visit: http://bmei.cmu.ac.th/read.php?id=119

nationthailand.com
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Re: Covidcare: Department advises people on using public transport
« Reply #36 on: April 29, 2020, 12:14:15 AM »
Department advises people on using public transport

The Department of Land Transport has instructed all public transport operators to strictly comply with the government and Transport Ministry measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, director-general Jirut Wisanjit said today (April 28), while advising people on ways to prevent the risk of infection while travelling.

“We advise passengers who travel by public transport such as buses, taxis, pick-up truck taxis or motorbike taxis to wear masks, refrain from making telephone calls while travelling, and wash your hands with alcohol gel after touching public surfaces,” he said.

“For taxis, we recommend that passengers sit in the back to maintain a safe distance from the driver.”

He advised all public transport drivers to first undergo self-quarantine to observe if they have any Covid-19 symptoms such as fever, coughing or sneezing.

“We have recommended that they, too, wash their hands regularly with alcohol gel or water and wear a mask while providing services,” Jirut said. “If any passengers cough or sneeze, the driver must turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to prevent the virus from circulating in the vehicle.”

He said that public transport companies must have hand-sanitising gel, open windows for good air ventilation and undertake a thorough cleaning before and after providing services.

“They must use 70 per cent alcohol for cleaning public vehicle interiors if any passenger coughs or sneezes while travelling,” Jirut said.

He said public transport operators must see that passengers keep a safe distance of at least two metres between each other by arranging seats accordingly and marking areas for standing in buses.

“Every passenger terminal must screen all passengers, drivers and staff before they are allowed to travel,” Jirut warned.

“Operators have the right to refuse service to any passenger whose temperature is higher than 37.5 degrees Celcius or to those who do not wear masks or do not comply with the government’s measures to contain the spread of the virus,” he added.

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Gilead's remdesivir improves recovery time of coronavirus patients in NIH trial
The government's first rigorous clinical trial of the experimental drug remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment delivered mixed results to the medical community Wednesday - but rallied stock markets and raised hopes that an early weapon to help some patients was at hand.

The preliminary results, disclosed at the White House by Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which led the placebo-controlled trial, found that the drug accelerated the recovery of hospitalized patients but had only a marginal benefit in the rate of death.

That falls short of the magic bullet or cure that many were hoping for in Gilead's drug. But with no approved treatments for Covid-19, Fauci said, it will become the standard of care for hospitalized patients and serve as a key building block as clinicians hone their approach.

The drug accelerated the recovery time of infected patients by 31%, from 15 days in patients who got a placebo to 11 days in people treated with remdesivir, Fauci said. But it only reduced the death rate from 11% to 8%, which Fauci said lacked statistical significance.

"The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,'' Fauci said. "Although a 31 percent improvement doesn't seem like a knockout 100 percent, it is a very important proof of concept.'' He said it shows that the virus is vulnerable to drug treatments that use the remdesivir approach, which is to block enzymes that allow the virus to replicate.

Fauci's remarks boosted speculation that the Food and Drug Administration would seek emergency use authorization that would permit doctors to prescribe the drug.

In addition to clinical trials, remdesivir has been given to more than 1,000 patients under compassionate use.

The study, involving 1,000 patients at 68 sites in the United States and around the world, offers the first evidence from a large, randomized clinical study of remdesivir's effectiveness against covid-19.

The trial was launched in February in record time, with the first patient recruited from infected passengers evacuated from the cruise ship Diamond Princess on Feb. 17. That patient went to the University of Nebraska, which is home to the National Quarantine Center.

The drug must be given intravenously over 5 to 10 days and the NIAID trial results only apply to hospitalized patients. Remdesivir is not intended for use in the majority of patients, estimated to be 80% or more, who are infected with coronavirus but do not require hospitalization.

Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, said that remdesivir "isn't a breakthrough drug," and that the totality of evidence, with its mix of good and bad results, offers a "confusing picture." But he said the drug is a "good start. It has efficacy and it's safe."

A number of leaked trial results and small remdesivir studies without placebo controls have whipsawed stock markets in recent weeks, highlighting the intense desire among investors and political leaders for a therapy that can beat back the virus.

Speeding recoveries and reducing the length of hospital stays can ease the burden on the health system and give business and political leaders greater confidence as they seek to relax social distancing and economic lockdowns across the country.

nationthailand.com
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Health sector stocks hit hard by Covid-19 shutdown measures

Stocks in the health industry as of April 28 have slid by 18.13 per cent compared to the same period last year and are down by 19.3 per cent from end of 2019, Yuanta Securities Ltd reported.

“Bumrungrad Hospital [BH], the industry leader, reported Bt4.179 billion profit for the first quarter of 2020, a 11.7 per cent drop year on year, due to a 2.5 per cent decrease in Thai patients and a 16.4 per cent drop in foreign patients,” said the company. “The main reason for this is the Covid-19 outbreak that has led to the government shutting down international and inter-provincial borders and limiting travel."

Yuanta Securities estimated the first quarter turnover of seven companies in the health industry -- BDMS, Bangkok Chain Hospital (BCH), Vibhavadi Medical Center (VIBHA), Praram 9 Hospital (PR9), Ekachai Medical Care (EKH), Ladprao General Hospital (LPH) and Thai Nakarin Hospital (TNH) -- to average Bt2.615 billion, a 26 per cent drop year on year due to the outbreak.

“Hospitals that rely on income from social securities can still make profit as normal,” said the company. “Although the number of customers paying in cash is declining, the increase in social security compensation rate at around 5.6 per cent will help make up for the lost revenue.”

However, the company warned that hospitals relying on income from foreign customers will be heavily affected. “We estimate BDMS to turn in Bt2.024 billion profit, a 31 per cent decrease, PR9 to report Bt69 million profit, a 20 per cent decrease, and EKH will have only Bt17 million profit, a 61 per cent drop.”

“The situation in the second quarter could worsen due to lockdown measures that Thai government has used since early April and will persist until end of May,” said the company. “However, the situation in the second half of the year could improve as the number of confirmed cases in Thailand is declining at a steady rate.”

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What hotels are doing to sanitize rooms during the pandemic

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the travel industry is adapting to meet new health and safety concerns. Airlines are starting to require passengers to wear masks on flights. Airbnb has introduced mandatory vacancy periods between guest stays. Cruising is on hold, thanks to a no-sail order from the CDC.

Hotels, too, have begun dealing with covid-19 on a number of fronts. Changes are being made to housekeeping procedures, food safety, and guest check-in and check-out.

Industry giants Hilton and Marriott both announced new efforts over the past week at their combined 48 brands, spanning more than 100 countries, to consult with experts and implement new ways to enhance guest safety. Hyatt, for its part, had already set up "cross-functional, global response teams" to supply guidance on cleanliness and health issues, according to its website.

As with most global restrictions right now, we don't yet know whether these changes will be temporary or stay in effect long term. But here's a look at what hotel brands are doing to take extra precaution for now.

- Enhanced disinfecting protocols

The most basic (and expected) changes that hotels are implementing? More cleaning.

Marriott's new Global Cleanliness Council, for instance, is requiring the use of "hospital-grade" disinfectants in public spaces and guest rooms. Among the proposals for Hilton's program, a partnership with the Mayo Clinic and Lysol maker Reckitt Benckiser that's launching in June, are requirements that public spaces and 10 specific "high-touch" areas be cleaned even more frequently.

Beyond that, hotels are experimenting with new sanitation technology, too.

Both Hilton and Marriott are in the process of introducing equipment like electrostatic sprayers and testing ultraviolet-light technology on hotel items. In Texas, the New York Times reported, the Westin Houston Medical Center is using "LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots."

- Making cleaning clearer

Some hotels now may be more visible in their cleaning procedures as well.

"We've heard this idea of 'housekeeping theater,'" said Phil Cordell, Hilton's global head of new brand development. "You go to a Benihana and they're cooking the meal right in front of you. So maybe it's not that dramatic, but customers want to feel like they can sense what's up. They walk through the commercial area of a hotel and they see the frequent cleanings with a well-known product of high-touch areas in the lobby."

As part of that push for more transparency, the Hilton housekeeping procedures will include the placement of a room seal on the door to indicate that a room has been cleaned and left vacant since.

- More sanitizing tools for guests

Marriott is stocking guest rooms with disinfecting wipes and installing more hand-sanitizer stations in communal areas of its hotels.

"Marriott is also evaluating adding partitions at front desks to provide an extra level of precaution for our guests and associates and is working with supply chain partners to make masks and gloves available to associates," a company statement said.

Hilton is adding stations of disinfecting wipes in "key high traffic areas," including at elevators. But it's also strategically subtracting: Hotels will remove pens, paper and the guest directory from rooms, with digital alternatives "available upon request."

- Contact-free check-in and room access

With social distancing so pivotal in preventing covid-19's spread, reducing contact with others is a priority. For hotels, that means tweaks to the check-in process are, too.

More than 3,200 Marriott hotels are offering guest check-in and room access through their smartphones. Those guests can also use their phones to order room service or make other hotel requests.

Hilton, meanwhile, is expanding its Digital Key service, allowing guests to check in and enter their rooms using their smartphones.

- Employee health precautions

Under its new initiative, Hilton workers will "be provided with personal protective equipment and enhanced training," the chain said. Marriott says it is "working" to provide masks and gloves to its own employees; as an extra barrier for staff and guests alike, it is also looking into adding partitions atop its front desks.

As for other countries? Hotels in Singapore, for one, are abiding by the government's "SG Clean" certification program, which mandates temperature and health screenings for employees. At the moment, no major stateside hotels are considering the same.

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Thailand goes full steam ahead in hunt for Covid-19 vaccine
Several health organisations in Thailand and other countries have speeded up operations to find a way of dealing with the Covid-19 contagion, with up to 70 candidate vaccines being developed by companies registered with the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Vitoon Vonghangool, president of Thailand’s BioNet-Asia, said if the vaccine currently being tested on rats proves to be effective, tests on humans will be held before it is put in for registration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“This operation will be under the supervision of the Public Health Ministry, though the progress will also be reported to WHO,” he said.

He added that the company has spent about Bt200 million on materials for the vaccine development, and expects to spend another Bt1 billion on human trials and to register with the FDA.

“We initially aimed to only produce the vaccine for medical personnel before cooperating with the authorities to expand the production,” he said.

Dr Nakorn Premsir, director of the National Vaccine Institute (NVI), said the institute has signed a contract with a leading university in China to conduct tests on the vaccine, which should be completed in the second half of this year.

“This university has already developed many vaccines,” he said. “We are also negotiating cooperation in vaccine development with other organisations in China, South Korea, Japan, US, and Germany.”

He added that NVI in collaboration with the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT) has granted funds for vaccine research in Thailand as well.

Meanwhile, Dr Marut Jirasetthasiri, director-general of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Department, has said that the herb kariyat (Andrographis Paniculata) is believed to ease the symptoms of Covid-19.

“The department’s human research ethics committee will first consider this before it is proposed to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute’s human research ethics committee within this week,” he said, adding that the herb will be tested on six patients for five days first.

“We will study the patients’ symptoms, safety and effectiveness,” he said. “The department will also cooperate with the Chulabhorn Research Institute to investigate the cause of lung and heart failure in Covid-19 patients.”

Dr Yong Poovorawan, an expert virologist at Chulalongkorn University, said that of 230 people who have recovered from Covid-19, eight are eligible to donate blood plasma.

“Each former patient can donate up to 600cc of plasma based on their body weight. Up to three 250cc bags of blood plasma will be needed to treat one Covid-19 patient,” he said.

He added that the donors must be between 17 and 60 in age, weigh more than 50 kilograms and must be free of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high-blood pressure.

“The donors must also test negative for Covid-19,” he added.

Separately, Sirikul Matevelungsun, deputy managing director of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO), said that Thailand is set to receive 303,860 tablets of Favipiravir within May.

“Of the shipment, 103,860 tablets will come from Japan, which was originally scheduled to be delivered in April, while another 200,000 tablets will come from China,” she said.

“GPO and the Department of Disease Control recently procured 187,000 tablets of Favipiravir from different sources.”

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Re: Covidcare: wear masks or face Bt20,000 fine
« Reply #41 on: May 05, 2020, 08:30:36 PM »
Ayutthaya orders residents to wear masks or face Bt20,000 fine

Ayutthaya province on Tuesday (May 5) issued an order that face masks must be worn in public to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Ayutthaya officials have ordered all residents and visitors to wear face masks outside their homes. Those who fail to don masks in public face a fine of up to Bt20,000 under Article 51 of the Communicable Disease Act.

The move to make masks mandatory outside came after some people failed to cooperate with public health advice delivered on April 2.

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Genetic mutation study finds new coronavirus spread swiftly around the world in late 2019

(REUTERS) - A genetic analysis of samples from more than 7,500 people infected with Covid-19 suggests that the new coronavirus spread quickly around the world late last year and is adapting to its human hosts, scientists said on Wednesday (May 6).

A study by scientists at University College London's (UCL) Genetics Institute found almost 200 recurrent genetic mutations of the new coronavirus - Sars-CoV-2 - which the researchers said showed how it may be evolving as it spreads in people.

UCL Professor Francois Balloux, who co-led the research, said results showed that a large proportion of the global genetic diversity of Sars-CoV-2 is found in all of the hardest-hit countries. That suggests that the virus was already being transmitted extensively around the globe from early on in the epidemic.

"All viruses naturally mutate. Mutations in themselves are not a bad thing and there is nothing to suggest SARS-CoV-2 is mutating faster or slower than expected," he said. "So far we cannot say whether Sars-CoV-2 is becoming more or less lethal and contagious."

More than 3.68 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 256,000 have died, according to a Reuters tally. Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since cases were first identified in China in December 2019.

The UCL team's findings, published on Wednesday in the journal Infection, Genetics And Evolution, confirm that the virus emerged in late 2019, Prof Balloux said, before quickly spreading across the globe.

The study was not able to confirm the exact starting point or location.

His team screened the genomes of more than 7,500 viruses from infected patients around the world. Their results add to a growing body of evidence that Sars-CoV-2 viruses share a common ancestor from late 2019, suggesting that this was when the virus jumped from a previous animal host into people.

This means it is most unlikely that the virus causing Covid-19 was in human circulation for long before it was first detected, Prof Balloux said.

A study by French scientists published earlier this week found that a man there was infected with Covid-19 as early as Dec 27, nearly a month before France confirmed its first cases.

The World Health Organisation said the French case was "not surprising" and urged countries to investigate any other early suspicious cases.

Prof Balloux said the 198 small genetic changes, or mutations, that the study identified appeared to have independently occurred more than once. These may hold clues to how the virus is adapting and help in efforts to develop drugs and vaccines.

"A major challenge to defeating viruses is that a vaccine or drug might no longer be effective if the virus has mutated," he said. "If we focus our efforts on parts of the virus that are less likely to mutate, we have a better chance of developing drugs that will be effective in the long run."

straitstimes.com

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Re: Covidcare: We need a vaccine for the mind
« Reply #43 on: May 07, 2020, 12:30:24 AM »
We need a vaccine for the mind
Today the global media reports daily about the race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, but what they fail to understand is that this vaccine may not help us to overcome the severe human security crisis we face today. Rather than a vaccine for the body, we need a vaccine for the mind.

As millions of Buddhists around the world celebrate the triple Buddhist anniversary of Vesak on May 7, it will be an excellent time to reflect on how the Buddhist teachings, known as “Buddha Dhamma”, can help to overcome the humanitarian crisis confronting us.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis, but it is also a human security crisis – depriving our freedom of fear, freedom from want and freedom to live with dignity,” argued Akiko Fukushima a Senior Fellow of the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, writing in East Asia Forum’s security series in March.

“When the concept of human security was introduced in policy discussions in the 1990s, the approach was criticised for broadening security threats beyond war,” he added, pointing out that in 2020, we are learning that an epidemic, which has killed over 150,000 around the world undermines our security and safety.

In its latest report on global military expenditures, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says that global spending on arms rose to a staggering $1.9 trillion in 2019 with United States, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia, the biggest spenders. But, when COVID-19 struck these countries, they were left defenceless, and there was a mad rush to acquire surgical masks and ventilators that costs a fraction of this money to manufacture.

The world leaders, political elites and economic planners need a vaccination to treat their minds.

Mindfulness or what is known to Buddhists as “Vipassana Bhavana” has become popular in the West today. This meditation technique has become a fad in the West today. But, unfortunately, to “secularize” – development of compassion and loving-kindness, a vital element – has been taken out of the practice

It is believed that COVID-19 originated from a virus transmitted from wild animals sold in a market in Wuhan, China. The fear generated by the virus has swooped across the world, locking down virtually whole countries. The economic model based on greed, exploitation of nature, wildlife and even cheap migrant labour has been exposed to be unsustainable.

This economic system – you may call globalization or neo-liberal economics – has created the human security crisis that now needs a dhamma vaccine rather than a chemical or herbal one.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), published a report on 2009 which warned about the possibility of a global health and environmental disaster because of our greed that is rapidly accelerating the decline of the Earth’s natural life support system.

“Coronavirus pandemic is likely to be followed by even more deadly and destructive disease outbreaks unless their root cause – the rampant destruction of the natural world – is rapidly halted,” they warned, adding, “there is a single species responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic – us”.

“Recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity, particularly our global financial and economic systems that prize economic growth at any cost,” the IPBES team warned in an article published by London’s Guardian in March.

While scientists talk about a planet marching towards self-destruction because we have put economic growth above protecting the environment, the social scientists are now talking about “transformational behavioural change”. But where are the Buddhist scholars? The Buddha Dhamma is exactly that?

Last year, UK commissioned Cambridge University’s Professor Partha Dasgupta to do a study on the economic case for protecting nature. In October, China is due to host a major UN conference to draw up new global goals for biodiversity. This conference might be postponed, and that would give time for Asia’s Buddhists to mobilise with the support of China and India to bring Buddhist philosophy and perspective to design these new goals.

The three poisons in Buddhism – greed, hatred and delusion – and the concept of dependent origination ‘patitya samupada’ are essential ingredients for this new vaccine.

Dependent origination in Buddhist teachings describes the causes of suffering and the course of events that lead to it. These events happen in a series, one interrelating group of events producing another. The current COVID-19 is a classic example – the destruction of forests, killing (and eating) of wild animals giving rise to a virus that has no boundaries.

Greed could also be understood as passion or attachment. Whatever you feel good about, you want more of it – both material and emotional things. Hatred can be translated as aggression, anger, aversion – we try to repel anything we believe will hurt or threaten us and are willing to hurt others to protect ourselves, even on a massive scale.

The non-stop wars in the Middle East are an excellent example of both greed and hatred coming together.

The third poison, delusion, could be translated as ignorance or indifference – this is what enables people to prioritize their pleasure over the sufferings of billions of others.

As the global economy is beginning to feel the impact of lockdowns, we are seeing the glaring inequalities that have been created by the global supply chains that have embraced the three poisons, oblivious of the fact that this has been making a delusion of human progress.

There are so many examples we see around the world. But a report on Russian TV channel recently caught my attention as a classic example. British retailers – who were making hefty profits by outsourcing their production to low-cost suppliers – have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy by the shutting down of their economy. They have cancelled huge contracts with factories in Bangladesh, throwing already poorly-paid garment workers onto the garbage heap.

The plight of low-paid migrants workers around the world – left exposed to the virus in cramped dormitories and without money to feed themselves – is another example.

Thai Buddhist social critic Sulak Sivaraksa calls these the “structural violence” of the global economic system. “A critical aspect of Buddhist teachings is the non-wholesome and wholesome state of mind”, he notes. “so that, we encourage the antidotes of the three poisons – generosity, compassion and wisdom”.

Buddhist scholars and learned monks need to inject these three antidotes to the minds of politicians, development planners, economists and business people. Greed needs to be transformed into generosity, compassion into respecting sentient beings, which should transform into national animal welfare laws.

Such legislation would ban slaughtering and consumption of wild animals and factory farming, leading in turn to the protection of nature and economic development that is sustainable – not only in terms of economic growth but also the healthy environment and affordable healthcare services.

Reviving post-COVID societies and economies, thus requires a new vaccination for the minds – Buddha Dhamma. It is sometimes known as “Engaged Buddhism” where the dhamma should be incorporated into the daily economic activities of the people with proper guidance and wisdom.

By Kalinga Seneviratne (Article courtesy of Lotus News Features and IDN-InDepthNews)

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Re: Covidcare: Tests for virus cure 'promising'
« Reply #44 on: May 07, 2020, 02:44:28 PM »
Tests for virus cure 'promising'
Trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine on animals has yielded satisfactory results, according to the Public Health Ministry.

Department of Medical Sciences director-general, Opart Karnkawinpong, said the tests were conducted by scientists led by Kiat Ruxrungtham of Chulalongkorn University in collaboration with researchers from Siriraj Hospital, Ramathibodi Hospital and several regional hospitals.

The team has developed what it hopes is a DNA vaccine and administered it to mice in lab tests.

The innoculated mice have created antibodies that look promising, Dr Opart said.

The team will conduct further testing before any human trials, he said.

"This is just the first step...Even though Thailand's vaccine development still trails behind countries such as China, we hope attempts by Thai scientists to develop a vaccine will yield further results," Dr Opart said.

Meanwhile, Yong Poovorawan, head of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, has announced on Facebook the centre has been working with City Hall and the Thai Red Cross Society's National Blood Centre to understand why some patients continue to test positive for the coronavirus despite having supposedly recovered from it.

The centre checked patients who have recovered from Covid-19, using real time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (real time RT-PCR) -- the widely used method for detecting coronavirus.

It was found the presence of genetic material from the virus, or RNA (ribonucleic acid) can still be detected in people who have fully recovered, Dr Yong said.

He said the RNA forms only part of the virus and cannot be transmitted, and that detection of the virus' genetic material should not be classified as reinfection.

This means people who have recovered but appear to be testing positive, should not worry.

"It should not be surprising if the virus' RNA is detected after recovery,'' Dr Yong said.

He said South Korean and Chinese studies found the RNA can linger for 45 days after a patient maked a full recovery.

In some cases, the RNA was not detected in initial checks, but was found in later even though the patient was not reinfected, Dr Yong said.

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Re: Covidcare: discipline keeping Thais safe
« Reply #45 on: May 08, 2020, 12:12:20 AM »
Chula virologist says discipline keeping Thais safe as global contagion rages

At the current infection rate of one million new cases every 12 days, global Covid-19 cases will hit the 4 million milestone this Sunday (May 10), according Dr Yong Poovorawan, a virologist at Chulalongkorn University.

However, the general rate of global infections is falling and will continue to decline if controls are maintained, he said.

The greatest concern now is over a possible resurgence of the disease in the developing world –

especially South America, Africa and India – where there will be a huge number of unreported cases, he added.

In New York City, serology studies show a 20 percent rate of Covid-19 infection, indicating that only one in 10 patients report an infection, Dr Yong explained. Like many other places, especially in Europe, the number of reported cases will be much lower than actual infections because most patients stay at home until their symptoms get so bad they have to be admitted to hospital. So many Covid-19 infections are never diagnosed.

Thailand has been fortunate since most infected people have received good treatment in hospital rather than suffering at home, he said.

The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Thailand is far lower than in Western countries, he added.

In the United States, up to 6 percent of Covid-19 cases have died. The coronavirus death toll in the US has now surpassed the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam war.

Thailand’s current mortality rate, at 1.8 percent, is much lower than in Western countries because of strong public cooperation with official health directives, said Yong.

Turning to the economic impact of the virus, he said the important thing now was to achieve a balance that ensured every Thai had sufficient resources to thrive. Thailand is rich in food, which should be shared with patients who had no family or other support beyond the public health system, he said.

Dr Yong predicted it would take another year before medicines and a vaccine to eradicate Covid-19 were available, allowing us all to return to normal life.

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Re: Covidcare: Japan approves Gilead’s remdesivir as a treatment
« Reply #46 on: May 08, 2020, 02:22:51 PM »
Japan approves Gilead’s remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19

Japan on Thursday approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19, making it the country’s first officially authorized drug to tackle the coronavirus disease.

Japan reached the decision just three days after the U.S. drugmaker filed for fast-track approval for the treatment.

“There has so far been no coronavirus medicine available here so it is a significant step for us to approve this drug,” a Japanese health ministry official said at a press briefing. Remdesivir will be give to patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms, he added.

With no other approved treatments for COVID-19, interest in the drug is growing around the world. Administered by intravenous infusion, it was granted authorisation last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Gilead says the drug has improved outcomes for people suffering from the respiratory disease and has provided data suggesting it works better when given in the early stages of infection.

Japan, with just over 16,000 infections and under 800 deaths, has recorded fewer cases than other major industrialized nations.

However, a steady rise in cases has put pressure on medical facilities in some parts of the country, and a drug that helps patients recover more quickly could help in freeing up hospital beds.

A trial performed by the U.S. Institutes of Health (NIH) showed the drug cut hospital stays by 31 per cent compared with a placebo treatment, although it did not significantly improve survival.

On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe extended a month-long state of emergency until the end of May in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Japan as yet does not know when it will get its first doses of remdesivir or how much, the health ministry official said.

Gilead on Tuesday said it was in discussion with several companies, including generic drugmakers in India and Pakistan to produce remdesivir in large quantities.

Remdesivir, which previously failed as a treatment for Ebola, is designed to disable the ability by which some viruses make copies of themselves inside infected cells.

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Medical Tourism Drop Hits Core of Thailand’s Bumrungrad Hospital

Bumrungrad Hospital Pcl said the plunge in medical tourists traveling to Thailand amid the coronavirus pandemic has squeezed its business, as the majority of the health-care operator’s revenue typically comes from international patients.

“The Covid-19 crisis is a very tough test for all businesses,” Chief Executive Officer Artirat Charukitpipat said in a written interview on Monday. “More than 50% of our patients used to come from overseas. They’ve now disappeared. The most important question is how we will get over this crisis. At Bumrungrad, agility runs in our blood. We have great staff, and they are ready to adjust.”

The hospital helped pioneer Thailand’s medical-tourism industry about three decades ago. With it’s core patient base closed off, Bumrungrad has stepped up telemedicine as well as conducting at-home blood tests, vaccinations and drug deliveries, according to Artirat. The hospital operator, whose flagship is in Bangkok, also implemented new residence programs for those requiring quarantine or physical distancing, she said.

Thailand’s borders are mostly closed as part of a state-of-emergency order imposed in March that lasts through May. Foreign tourist arrivals plunged 76% in March, with arrivals for the full year seen dropping by 42%, to 15 million, according to government figures.

In 2019, Bumrungrad treated “632,000 international medical episodes from over 180 countries,” with patients from Myanmar, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait accounting for the biggest share by revenue, according to the hospital’s website. Two-thirds of revenue came from non-Thai patients.

Bumrungrad “is the most sensitive” of Thailand’s hospital operators under current circumstances because it has the highest proportion of foreign patients, said Suwat Wattanapornprom, an analyst at Asia Plus Securities Co. in Bangkok. “We recommend our clients switch to other stocks which focus on local markets.”

Among 26 brokerage ratings on Bumrungrad’s shares, three recommend buy, 16 hold and seven sell. Asia Plus is in the latter category, and forecasts a 28% revenue drop in 2020 from last year, assuming the pandemic will ease in the second half of this year, Suwat said in a phone interview.

Bumrungrad is currently the target of a pending takeover offer of about 85 billion baht ($2.6 billion) by Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Pcl, the largest hospital operator in Thailand, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bumrungrad said in a filing to the stock exchange on Feb. 27 that it was “surprised” by the bid.

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Re: Covidcare: GPO develops Favipiravir to treat Covid-19
« Reply #48 on: May 12, 2020, 01:10:48 PM »
but is expected to take approximately a year before submitting this medicine for registration  :-[  According to some forecasts, the Covid-19 pandemic will continue for a period of 1-2 years.

GPO develops Favipiravir to treat Covid-19

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) developed its version of Favipiravir – one of the drugs used to effectively treat Covid-19 – in mid-March but is expected to take approximately a year before submitting this medicine for registration, said Nuntakan Suwanpidokkul, the director of the GPO’s Research and Development Institute.

The GPO has a management plan to build a sufficient stock of Favipiravir pills to support the sustainable treatment of patients in the country.

According to some forecasts, the Covid-19 pandemic will continue for a period of 1-2 years.

FujiFilm Toyama Chemical in Japan submitted an application for production of Favipiravir tablets in Thailand in 2010, but it remains only a patent application.

If Favipiravir is granted a patent, it will have a protection period of 20 years. However, a domestic formula can be developed without being hit by any lawsuit. Still, if it is produced for the market, it could be sued for patent infringement. Therefore, a voluntary licensing agreement must be negotiated with the patent owner so the GPO can produce and distribute its drug.

Pharmaviravir drugs have been urgently imported from FujiFilm Toyama Chemical and China's Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Company, which received a production licence from Japan.

Thailand has imported 187,000 of the tablets and is purchasing another 303,860 in May. The medicines are being distributed to hospitals nationwide.

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Re: Covidcare: ThaiHealth promotes New Normal
« Reply #49 on: May 12, 2020, 02:15:13 PM »
ThaiHealth promotes New Normal as way to prevent new COVID-19 outbreak



(NNT)-Despite new COVID-19 cases being reported in only a single digit each day, the Department of Disease Control is still encouraging the general public to protect themselves by wearing a face mask and washing their hands frequently, while the Thai Health Promotion Foundation has launched New Normal guidelines for a coronavirus-free city.

In an announcement, the Department of Disease Control’s (DDC) Deputy Director General Dr Tanarak Plipat said today there is a possibility of a second outbreak should the general public fail to maintain compliance with social distancing and precautionary measures. These measures include mask wearing, frequent hand washing, and eating well-cooked meals.

He said offices should adjust their business operations by allowing employees who are not required to meet other people to work from home. Workspaces should be redesigned to allow more distance between each worker.

The DDC deputy chief said people must continue living with precautionary measures until an effective vaccine is available.

The Thai Health Promotion Foundation’s (ThaiHealth) Deputy CEO Dr Pairoj Saonuam, said today the New Normal lifestyle will limit four risky situations, by reducing crowding, reducing conversation, reducing time, and reducing unecessary travel.

ThaiHealth has published guidelines for the easing of lockdown measures without causing a spike in the number of new cases. These guidelines are focused on small restaurants and hawker food stalls, small hairdressing shops and beauty salons, motorcycle taxis, and public transport vehicles, all of which are considered places at risk of virus transmission.

The guidelines tell both operators and customers what to do to reduce their risk. It is now available online on www.thaihealth.or.th website.

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coronavirus sure is having effects on people - just yesterday the thai media reporting - one women tries to drown herself in the sea at pattaya
another, An angry, drunk boat captain climbed up a Pattaya utility pole to protest being denied government coronavirus compensation.


 

'Major' mental health crisis looming from pandemic: UN
The coronavirus outbreak risks sparking a major global mental health crisis, the United Nations warned Thursday, calling for urgent action to address the psychological suffering brought on by the pandemic.

While protecting physical health has been the main concern during the first months of the crisis, it is also placing huge mental strains on large swathes of the global population, the UN said in policy brief.

"After decades of neglect and underinvestment in mental health services, the Covid-19 pandemic is now hitting families and communities with additional mental stress," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in a video message launching the brief.

"Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities," he said.

The UN brief highlighted the mental strains on people fearing that they or loved ones will be infected or die from the novel coronavirus, which has killed nearly 300,000 people worldwide since it first emerged in China late last year.

It also pointed to the psychological impact on vast numbers of people who have lost or are at risk of losing their livelihoods, have been separated from loved ones or have suffered under drastic lockdown orders.
- 'Tremendous stress' -

"We know that the current situations, the fear and uncertainty, the economic turmoil -- they all cause or could cause psychological distress," Devora Kestel, head of the World Health Organization's mental health and substance use department, told a virtual briefing.

Health care workers and first responders -- operating under "tremendous stress" -- are particularly vulnerable, Kestel said, pointing to news reports indicating rises in suicides among medical workers.

A whole host of other groups also face particular psychological challenges brought on by the crisis.

Children being kept out of school, for instance, face uncertainty and anxiety.

Along with women, they also face a heightened risk of domestic abuse as people spend lengthy amounts of time cooped up at home.

The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions, who are considered particularly at risk from the virus, meanwhile face increased stress over the threat of infection.

And people with pre-existing psychological issues could see them exacerbated, while accessing their usual treatment and face-to-face therapy may no longer be possible.

Thursday's policy brief pointed to a range of national studies indicating that mental distress is mounting rapidly.

One study conducted in the Amhara region of Ethiopia showed that 33% of the population were suffering from depression-linked symptoms -- "a three-fold increase" from before the pandemic.

Other studies indicated that mental distress prevalence amid the crisis was as high as 60% in Iran and 45% in the United States, Kestel said.

She also pointed to a Canadian study showing nearly half of health care workers said they needed psychological support.

The UN brief stressed the need for countries to include access to psychosocial support and emergency mental care in all aspects of their response to the pandemic.

It called for a significant hike in investments in this area, pointing out that before the crisis, countries on average dedicated only 2% of their public health budgets to mental health support.

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Re: Covidcare: Trump coronavirus vaccine by end of year
« Reply #51 on: May 17, 2020, 12:20:54 AM »
Moncef Slaoui, who is leading President Trump's vaccine effort, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper claimed there will be a coronavirus vaccine developed by the end of 2020. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez give their reaction






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Re: Covidcare: CMU opens North’s first negative pressure room
« Reply #52 on: May 17, 2020, 11:12:45 AM »
CMU opens North’s first negative pressure room



(NNT) - The Faculty of Medicine of Chiang Mai University (CMU) has unveiled the North’s first ever negative pressure room for airborne infection isolation.

Working with the CMU’s Faculty of Engineering and alumni, the Faculty of Medicine opened the facility as part of the efforts against the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19. The room allows for rapid and systematic isolation of the virus, and is in addition to an emergency facility at Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital. It took 21 days to build, using a budget of 5.5 million baht donated via the Suan Dok Hospital Foundation CMU Faculty of Engineering Alumni Fund.

The room is able to treat and disinfect its own air supply while remaining completely isolated from other spaces. It has four internal facilities for treatment of COVID-19 patients, protecting other users of the facility from any airborne contagions. It also protects patients from other respiratory ailments such as tuberculosis and flu.

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Vaccine trial by Moderna shows promising early results

Phase 1 trial, which included 8 individuals, to be quickly followed up with further studies, says manufacturer Moderna

An experimental vaccine has shown promising early results in a trial with human subjects, manufacturer Moderna announced Monday.

The phase one trial, which was run with the US government, included eight healthy volunteers who received two doses each of the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, the Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company said in a statement.

The first dose of the vaccine was administered in mid-March, and all eight of the volunteers who took part in the study developed antibodies in levels similar to people who were infected with and recovered from the coronavirus.

"These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 µg,” Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna's chief medical officer, said in a statement, referring to the lowest dose level administered to volunteers.

“When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a pre-clinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, these data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.”

The company said it separately ran a test with mice infected with the coronavirus, and the vaccine prevented the virus from replicating in their lungs.

Moderna will now move the vaccine on to a wider phase two study for further evaluation. That will include doubling the lowest dosage level to 50 µg "with the aim of selecting a dose for pivotal studies," the company said.

A phase 3 trial is expected to begin in July.

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New drug can stop pandemic 'without vaccine': scientists in China

A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a halt.

The outbreak first emerged in China late last year before spreading across the world, prompting an international race to find treatments and vaccines.

A drug being tested by scientists at China's prestigious Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the virus, researchers say.

Sunney Xie, director of the university's Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, told AFP that the drug has been successful at the animal testing stage.

"When we injected neutralising antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500," said Xie.

"That means this potential drug has (a) therapeutic effect."

The drug uses neutralising antibodies -- produced by the human immune system to prevent the virus infecting cells -- which Xie's team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients.

A study on the team's research, published Sunday in the scientific journal Cell, suggests that using the antibodies provides a potential "cure" for the disease and shortens recovery time.

Xie said his team had been working "day and night" searching for the antibody.

"Our expertise is single-cell genomics rather than immunology or virology. When we realised that the single-cell genomic approach can effectively find the neutralising antibody we were thrilled."

He added that the drug should be ready for use later this year and in time for any potential winter outbreak of the virus, which has infected 4.8 million people around the world and killed more than 315,000.

"Planning for the clinical trial is underway," said Xie, adding it will be carried out in Australia and other countries since cases have dwindled in China, offering fewer human guinea pigs for testing.

"The hope is these neutralised antibodies can become a specialised drug that would stop the pandemic," he said.

China already has five potential coronavirus vaccines at the human trial stage, a health official said last week.

But the World Health Organization has warned that developing a vaccine could take 12 to 18 months.

Scientists have also pointed to the potential benefits of plasma -- a blood fluid -- from recovered individuals who have developed antibodies to the virus enabling the body's defences to attack it.

More than 700 patients have received plasma therapy in China, a process which authorities said showed "very good therapeutic effects".

"However, it (plasma) is limited in supply," Xie said, noting that the 14 neutralising antibodies used in their drug could be put into mass production quickly.
- Prevention and cure -

Using antibodies in drug treatments is not a new approach, and it has been successful in treating several other viruses such as HIV, Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Xie said his researchers had "an early start" since the outbreak started in China before spreading to other countries.

Ebola drug Remdesivir was considered a hopeful early treatment for COVID-19 -- clinical trials in the US showed it shortened the recovery time in some patients by a third -- but the difference in mortality rate was not significant.

The new drug could even offer short-term protection against the virus.

The study showed that if the neutralising antibody was injected before the mice were infected with the virus, the mice stayed free of infection and no virus was detected.

This may offer temporary protection for medical workers for a few weeks, which Xie said they are hoping to "extend to a few months".

More than 100 vaccines for Covid-19 are in the works globally, but as the process of vaccine development is more demanding, Xie is hoping that the new drug could be a faster and more efficient way to stop the global march of the coronavirus.

"We would be able to stop the pandemic with an effective drug, even without a vaccine," he said.

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Thailand racing to stockpile Favipiravir ahead of possible second outbreak

The government is stockpiling almost 400,000 doses of Favipiravir – an antiviral drug touted as a treatment for Covid-19 – in case of a second-wave outbreak while pushing domestic manufacture to reduce reliance on imports.

“The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation [GPO] has imported 187,000 tablets of Favipiravir from Japan and China – 100,000 have been delivered to hospitals nationwide while the GPO has stored 87,000 as a reserve, said Nuntakan Suwanpidokkul, director of the GPO’s Research and Development Institute, on Tuesday (May 19).

“By the end of May we will receive another batch of 303,860 tablets that we ordered, which will increase our reserve to nearly 400,000 tablets, enough to treat patients in case there is a second wave of outbreak.”

Treatment of each Covid-19 patient requires up to 70 tablets of Favipiravir.

Nuntakan added that the GPO is researching techniques to efficiently manufacture Favipiravir domestically to reduce reliance on expensive imports.

“We expect the semi-industrial-level manufacturing to begin by early 2021, but it will take another year or so after that to perform clinical tests and register the drug. So, the domestic version of Favipiravir should be ready for public use by 2022, at the earliest.”

She revealed the GPO is working with the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) on research into ways to synthesise raw materials to manufacture Favipiravir.

“The research is showing promising results and should complete within 3-6 months, after which we will be able to further reduce the cost of manufacturing the drug by using local raw materials,” she added. “The GPO is considering investing in more advanced manufacturing facilities to cope with high demand for Favipiravir in the future, as well as to manufacture other drugs for domestic consumption.”

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Re: Covidcare: Thai prototype vaccine to be tested on monkeys
« Reply #56 on: May 20, 2020, 04:33:30 PM »
Thai prototype vaccine to be tested on monkeys next week

Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation, revealed progress in the development of a vaccine against Covid-19 yesterday (May 19). Mice injected with a prototype mRNA vaccine at the Chulalongkorn University Vaccine Centre had produced antibody levels as high as 1:3,000, according to preliminary screening results from the University of Pennsylvania.

The prototype vaccine would be tested on monkeys next week, said Suvit.

Preparations are now underway for manufacture of the vaccine at production facilities in the US and Canada, ahead of human trials.

Meanwhile, the research team has joined hands with Thai firm Bionet Asia, which will help manufacture the vaccine after transfer of production technology from the overseas facilities.

At this stage, Thailand would be able to produce a Covid-19 vaccine with the newest mRNA technology to help citizens fight the outbreak.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered an urgent acceleration of work on the vaccine, which is being developed by the Chula centre in collaboration with the National Institute of Vaccines and the Department of Medical Sciences. If the research is successful, Thailand will be one of the first countries to have enough vaccines for its citizens.

Countries around the world are currently testing Covid-19 prototype vaccines on more than 150 species of animals. Ten vaccine prototypes are already being tested on human volunteers in at least five countries – China, the United States, Britain, Germany and Canada.

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Re: Covidcare: Thais Score Highest in Survey for Mask-Wearing
« Reply #57 on: May 21, 2020, 12:10:24 AM »
Thais Score Highest in Survey for Mask-Wearing  khaosodenglish.com

A survey found that Thais are most likely to wear facemasks in public and use hand sanitizer among six ASEAN members.

According to a YouGov survey, 95 percent of Thais constantly wear face masks in public, followed closely by Vietnam (94 percent), Philippines (93 percent), Malaysia (89 percent), and Indonesia (87 percent) – leaving behind Singapore (66 percent).

While masks were subject to panic buying to the point of shortage when the outbreak first began in Thailand, the availability has increased significantly in recent months. Face masks even spawn their own fashion.

“Some people have many masks, some of them patterned. Let those be a few colorful spots brightening up our days,” Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration, said Tuesday during the daily briefing announcing new infection rates.

The poll by YouGov, a UK-based market research company, was conducted between March 30 and April 27 on 12,999 respondents for compensation from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand (2,024 respondents), the Philippines, and Vietnam by YouGov and Imperial College London.

The online interviews were selected by age, gender, income group and education level in order to be representative. The respondents participated in return for compensation.The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.

Elle Thailand notes that several Thai fashion brands are now producing their own branded masks that cost around 300 to 600, but cheaper ones can be found from smaller brands.

Jarauyporn Khamwan, 28, is the owner of I’m Not A Morning Person clothing brand, one of the brands that made and sold fashion masks on Instagram.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, Jarauyporn thought about what she could do as a clothing seller amid the shortage of masks, and began making masks for 290 baht each from the satin she used to make dresses.

“I don’t know if everyone is interested in fashion masks, but if in the future masks become something absolutely necessary, so much so that you can’t go anywhere without one, then I think people will choose products that make them happy,” Jarauyporn said.

“I also believe every woman wants to own beautiful things…We may even see outfits and masks coordinating,” she said.

People in Asia are thought to be more likely to wear face masks than in Western countries during the pandemic.

Across all six Asian nations surveyed, 86 percent said they always or frequently wore face masks when exiting the house – compared to a 15 percent response in the UK, 44 percent in France, and 48 percent in the US.
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Monkeys develop virus immunity after infection, vaccine

Two studies on monkeys published on Wednesday offer hope that humans can develop protective immunity to the novel coronavirus.

The studies, published in the journal Science, looked at a prototype vaccine and whether infection with SARS-CoV-2 provides immunity against re-exposure.

Both questions are critical as researchers tackle the virus, which has infected nearly five million people around the world and caused more than 325,000 deaths.

The studies were carried out on rhesus macaque monkeys to see whether they develop protective virus immunity from natural infection or from a vaccine.

"The global Covid-19 pandemic has made the development of a vaccine a top biomedical priority, but very little is currently known about protective immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus," said senior author Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"In these two studies, we demonstrate in rhesus macaques that prototype vaccines protected against SARS-CoV-2 infection and that SARS-CoV-2 infection protected against re-exposure," Barouch said.

In one study carried out by Barouch and other researchers, nine adult rhesus macaque monkeys were infected with the virus.

The monkeys developed Covid-19 symptoms but created protective antibodies and recovered after a few days.

To test their immunity, they were exposed to SARS-CoV-2 again 35 days later for what is called a "re-challenge", and they showed few to no symptoms.

The authors of the study cautioned that further research will be needed because of the "important differences" between SARS-CoV-2 infection in monkeys and humans.

"Rigorous clinical studies will be required to determine whether SARS-CoV-2 infection effectively protects against SARS-CoV-2 re-exposure in humans," they said.

The second study, involving many of the same researchers and led by Jingyou Yu, involved vaccinating 35 adult macaques with DNA vaccine candidates designed to generate protective antibodies.

They were exposed to the coronavirus six weeks later and had developed levels of antibodies in the blood sufficient to neutralize it, the study found.

The levels of antibodies, it said, were similar to those seen in humans recovering from the virus, providing hope that an effective human vaccine can be developed.

"Further research will need to address the important questions of the durability of protective immunity and the optimal vaccine platforms for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for humans," the authors of the study said.

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Hydroxychloroquine shows no coronavirus benefit, raises death risk: study

A study of nearly 100,000 coronavirus patients has shown no benefit in treating them with anti-viral drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine and even increased the likelihood of them dying in hospital.

Hydroxychloroquine is normally used to treat arthritis but pronouncement from public figures including US President Donald Trump -- who announced this week he is taking the drug -- has prompted governments to bulk buy the medicine.

Chloroquine is an anti-malarial. Both drugs can produce potentially serious side effects, particularly heart arrhythmia.

Authors of a study published Friday in The Lancet said they found that the two medicines had no effect on the outcome of patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

Looking at the records of 96,000 patients across hundreds of hospitals, they found that administering the drugs actually increased the risk of dying.

They compared outcomes from four groups: those treated with hydroxychloroquine alone, with chloroquine alone, and then two groups given the respective drugs in combination with antibiotics.

There was also a control group of patients not given these treatments.

At the end of the study period around nine percent of those in the control group had died.

Of those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine alone, 18 percent and 16.4 percent respectively had died.

And those given each drug in combination with antibiotics were even more likely to die: 22.8 percent with chloroquine and 23.8 percent with hydroxychloroquine.

The authors estimated that the drugs put patients at up to 45 percent higher risk of dying from COVID-19 compared with underlying health issues.

"Treatment with chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine does not benefit patients with COVID-19," said Mandeep Mehra, lead author of the study and executive director of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Advanced Heart Disease in Boston.

"Instead, our findings suggest it may be associated with an increased risk of serious heart problems and increased risk of death."

Despite Trump's enthusiasm for using hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 treatment, his own government's Food and Drug Administration warns against it.

Brazil's health minister on Wednesday recommended using chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat even mild COVID-19 cases.

Britain has ordered pound sterling35 million ($42 million, 40 million euros) worth of hydroxychloroquine, despite numerous studies showing it is ineffective in treating COVID-19 and may even be more dangerous than doing nothing.

"Several countries have advocated use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, either alone or in combination, as potential treatments for COVID-19," said Frank Ruschitzka, director of the Heart Center at University Hospital Zurich and co-author of the study.

"We now know from our study that the chance that these medications improve outcomes in COVID-19 is quite low."

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