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AstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in December of this year

AstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in December of this year

BY KHRISTOPHER J. BROOKS

A long-awaited coronavirus vaccine could be available in roughly two months, according to drugmaker AstraZeneca, which is developing a treatment.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker is working with the University of Oxford to develop one of the most closely watched COVID-19 vaccines, which is in late stage trials in the U.S., the U.K. and other countries to determine its safety and effectiveness. Once those results are reported, regulators will have to approve the vaccine for widespread use.

AstraZeneca said it will analyze data from its vaccine trials in November and December. If the results look promising, it will move quickly to ramp up manufacturing and obtain government approval in the U.S. and elsewhere, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said Thursday.

"We will be ready to supply hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine around the world starting January," Soriot said during an earnings conference call Thursday. 

AstraZeneca and Oxford have been testing a vaccine in the U.S. for weeks. The trials stopped in September after one participant experienced adverse reactions. AstraZeneca and Oxford restarted trials last month.

AstraZeneca and Oxford are considered the leading candidates in the race to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine. The university has also been conducting phase-three trials in Brazil and South Africa. 

WILLIAM SOE
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Demand for pharmaceuticals is on the rise worldwide

Demand for pharmaceuticals is on the rise worldwide

In recent decades the pharmaceutical market has expanded its geographical reach. This trend appears to be here to stay; in a survey of major pharmaceutical firms conducted by global consulting firm PwC’s Strategy& team, more than half of respondents anticipated that over 30% of their global sales would originate in emerging markets by 2018.

Even in the most newly opened markets, drug companies have seen growth: forecasts for Myanmar, for instance, indicate that pharmaceuticals could quickly grow into a $1bn industry.

As governments and companies continue to take note of this high-potential sector, both are pursuing development in the face of cross-cutting challenges, particularly with regard to the resources required to develop new products and the accompanying intellectual property protection concerns.

WILLIAM SOE
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COVID-19 and Conflict: Burma

COVID-19 and Conflict: Burma

 BY: Jason Tower

2020 loomed as a momentous year for Burma even before the COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions to societies and economies around the world. The country was preparing for national elections while struggling to end Asia’s longest standing civil war, and now faces these challenges alongside the added burden of the coronavirus. In this #COVIDandConflict video, Jason Tower looks at the country’s public health response, what the pandemic means for the peace process, and how it could affect the vote.

 

WILLIAM SOE
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UN in Myanmar comes together to protect people from COVID-19

UN in Myanmar comes together to protect people from COVID-19

©UNICEF/Nyan Zay Htet.

More than 20 UN agencies in Myanmar have come together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and staff are putting their lives on the line to support the Organization’s efforts to protect lives and boost livelihoods. 

“I was concerned that I might get infected. Everyone was afraid,” says 32-year-old World Health Organization (WHO) data collector Myat Mon Yee.

Since March, Ms. Mon Yee, a computer studies graduate from South Dagon Township in Yangon, has been working at the South Okkalapa Hospital in the former capital. The hospital was planned as the Women’s and Children's Hospital but has been transformed into a COVID-19 treatment centre.

Not surprisingly, she was initially quite concerned about working with an infectious disease about which very little was known, except that it was killing people and making others very sick: front line health workers throughout the world have been contracting COVID-19 at a higher rate than almost any other group, except perhaps the elderly. Many doctors, nurses and administrative staff have died.

 

    WILLIAM SOE
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