China approves first homegrown COVID antiviral

The country’s drug regulator has granted conditional authorization for an HIV drug to be used to treat COVID-19.

Yvaine Ye

Nature | July 26, 2022

A temporary hospital for people with COVID-19 in Shanghai. The country has approved the first antiviral for the disease made in China. Credit: Ray Young/Feature China/Future Publishing/Getty

China’s drug regulator granted conditional approval on Monday for an HIV drug to be used to treat COVID-19. The drug, Azvudine, developed by Chinese drugmaker Genuine Biotech, is the first oral antiviral for the disease made in China.

Genuine Biotech, headquartered in Pingdingshan, applied for regulatory approval earlier this month. In an announcement, the company said that 40% of people with COVID-19 who were given Azvudine for a week in a phase III clinical trial showed “improved clinical symptoms”, compared with 11% of those given a placebo. However, detailed data from the trial, including whether the treatment reduced the risk of hospitalization or death, have not been released.

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China, Cuba Present Jointly-Produced ‘Pan-Corona Vaccine’

teleSUR | June 03, 2022

Cuba and China present the first patent for the Pancorona vaccine, result of the collaboration between both countries in the biotechnological field. | Photo: Twitter @EmbacubaChina

Cuba managed to develop five COVID-19 vaccines and inoculated 95% of its population against the COVID-19 virus, despite the burden of the U.S. blockade. China, likewise, produced a massive amount of two different vaccines for its 1.4 billion-strong population and much of the Third World.


Cuba and the People’s Republic of China jointly filed the first patent for a vaccine against  COVID-19 and its many variants, which could also be effective against several related viruses, the Cuban daily Granma reported on Thursday.

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Most US kids have caught the coronavirus, antibody survey finds

Study shows that infections in very young children doubled during the Omicron wave.

Smriti Mallapaty

Nature | May 05, 2022

Credit: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Shutterstock

Roughly two in every three children aged between one and four years old in the United States have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, according to a nationwide analysis1. Infections in that age group increased more than in any other during the Omicron wave, which researchers say demonstrates the variant’s high transmissibility.

Researchers looked for COVID-19 antibodies in blood samples from more than 86,000 children under 18 years old — including some 6,100 children aged between one and four. In the youngest children, the number of infections more than doubled, from 33% to 68% between December 2021 and February 2022.

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Reason for hope? Analysis of first Omicron patients in Gauteng, South Africa paints encouraging picture

Taran Deol

Down to Earth | December 08, 2021

Photo: @GautengProvince / Twitter
Photo: @GautengProvince / Twitter

The Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was first detected in the Tshwane district of South Africa’s Gauteng province between November 21 and 27. Now, a leading health professional has prepared a detailed profile of the first patients. And the picture that emerges is encouraging.

Fewer people have been administered specialist care than previous waves of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The in-hospital death-rate has been significantly lower. There has also been a decline in the average length of stay in the hospital.

The results offer reason for hope even as the Omicron variant has now spread to all South African provinces and triggered the fourth wave of COVID-19 in the COVID-19. It has also spread to 40 other countries.

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HM Online 2021: Crisis, Pandemics, and Right-Wing Populism: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Neoliberalism

Morbid symptoms: The political economy of authoritarian neoliberalism

Adam Fabry, Universidad Nacional de Chilecito, Argentina

‘The Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization and the Global Rise of Authoritarianism in the 21st Century’
Berch Berberoglu, University of Nevada, Reno, USA

‘A Model State of Authoritarian Neoliberalism? An Analysis of the Orbán Regime in Hungary’
Attila Antal, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Hungary

‘Authoritarian Neoliberalisms, Social Reproduction and Social Policy in Croatia, Hungary and Poland’
Noemi Lendvai-Bainton, University of Bristol, UK
Paul Stubbs, The Institute of Economics, Zagreb , Croatia

Neoliberalism and Authoritarianism: A Long-term Perspective from the Southern Cone of Latin America

Hernán Ramírez, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Brasil

Links to associated literature by panellists:

Antal, A. (2019). The Rise of Hungarian Populism: State Autocracy and the Orbán Regime, Bingley: Emerald Publishing. Available on: https://www.emerald.com/insight/publi….

Berberoglu, B. (2020). The Global Rise of Authoritarianism in the 21st Century: Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization and the Nationalist Response, London: Routledge. Available on: https://www.routledge.com/The-Global-….

Fabry, A. (2019). The Political Economy of Hungary: From State Capitalism to Authoritarian Neoliberalism. London: Palgrave. Available on: https://www.springer.com/la/book/9783….

Ramirez, H. (2019). Neoliberalismo e (neo)autoritarismo: Uma perspectiva de longo prazo a partir de casos do Cone Sul da América Latina. Available on: https://www.researchgate.net/publicat…
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Effects of covid-19 pandemic on life expectancy and premature mortality in 2020: time series analysis in 37 countries

Nazrul Islam, research fellow1,  Dmitri A Jdanov, head of laboratory of demographic data23,  Vladimir M Shkolnikov, research scientist23,  Kamlesh Khunti, professor of primary care diabetes and vascular medicine45,  Ichiro Kawachi, professor of social epidemiology6,  Martin White, professor of population health research7,  Sarah Lewington, professor of epidemiology and medical statistics18,  Ben Lacey, associate professor1

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj-2021-066768 (Published 03 November 2021)

Abstract

Objective To estimate the changes in life expectancy and years of life lost in 2020 associated with the covid-19 pandemic.

Design Time series analysis.

Setting 37 upper-middle and high income countries or regions with reliable and complete mortality data.

Participants Annual all cause mortality data from the Human Mortality Database for 2005-20, harmonised and disaggregated by age and sex.

Main outcome measures Reduction in life expectancy was estimated as the difference between observed and expected life expectancy in 2020 using the Lee-Carter model. Excess years of life lost were estimated as the difference between the observed and expected years of life lost in 2020 using the World Health Organization standard life table.

Results Reduction in life expectancy in men and women was observed in all the countries studied except New Zealand, Taiwan, and Norway, where there was a gain in life expectancy in 2020. No evidence was found of a change in life expectancy in Denmark, Iceland, and South Korea. The highest reduction in life expectancy was observed in Russia (men: −2.33, 95% confidence interval −2.50 to −2.17; women: −2.14, −2.25 to −2.03), the United States (men: −2.27, −2.39 to −2.15; women: −1.61, −1.70 to −1.51), Bulgaria (men: −1.96, −2.11 to −1.81; women: −1.37, −1.74 to −1.01), Lithuania (men: −1.83, −2.07 to −1.59; women: −1.21, −1.36 to −1.05), Chile (men: −1.64, −1.97 to −1.32; women: −0.88, −1.28 to −0.50), and Spain (men: −1.35, −1.53 to −1.18; women: −1.13, −1.37 to −0.90). Years of life lost in 2020 were higher than expected in all countries except Taiwan, New Zealand, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and South Korea. In the remaining 31 countries, more than 222 million years of life were lost in 2020, which is 28.1 million (95% confidence interval 26.8m to 29.5m) years of life lost more than expected (17.3 million (16.8m to 17.8m) in men and 10.8 million (10.4m to 11.3m) in women). The highest excess years of life lost per 100 000 population were observed in Bulgaria (men: 7260, 95% confidence interval 6820 to 7710; women: 3730, 2740 to 4730), Russia (men: 7020, 6550 to 7480; women: 4760, 4530 to 4990), Lithuania (men: 5430, 4750 to 6070; women: 2640, 2310 to 2980), the US (men: 4350, 4170 to 4530; women: 2430, 2320 to 2550), Poland (men: 3830, 3540 to 4120; women: 1830, 1630 to 2040), and Hungary (men: 2770, 2490 to 3040; women: 1920, 1590 to 2240). The excess years of life lost were relatively low in people younger than 65 years, except in Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and the US where the excess years of life lost was >2000 per 100 000.

Conclusion More than 28 million excess years of life were lost in 2020 in 31 countries, with a higher rate in men than women. Excess years of life lost associated with the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 were more than five times higher than those associated with the seasonal influenza epidemic in 2015.

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What COVID vaccines for young kids could mean for the pandemic

Max Kozlov

Nature | October 27, 2021

A minor is inoculated with the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine in a Mexico City library.
Modellers predict that vaccinating children against COVID-19 could significantly curtail the spread of any new coronavirus variants of concern.Credit: Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty

Paediatricians and families in the United States are eagerly waiting to see whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will authorize a COVID-19 vaccine for the nation’s roughly 28 million 5- to 11-year-olds. Yesterday, an FDA advisory committee reviewed data from a clinical trial testing a low-dose version of the vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech on children in that age group — and voted nearly unanimously to recommend that the FDA grant the shot emergency approval.

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2020 Witnesses Largest Growth in Billionaires

POLITSTURM | October 02, 2021

2020 Witnesses Largest Growth in Billionaires

According to a report published by Wealth-X, 2020 witnessed the largest growth in billionaire individuals since they started recording this data. The United States has the largest share of the world’s billionaires with 29%. China and India had the highest percentage growth of billionaires at 19.9% and 19.5%, respectively. 

The growth in billionaires over the previous year was largely attributed to “expansive government support measures [which] propelled a dramatic rally in financial markets, after an initial pandemic-driven collapse.”

The report also suggested an increasing centralization of privately-held wealth, with billionaires representing 1% of the population of ultra-high net-worth individuals yet holding 28% of the cumulative wealth.

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How US Media Misrepresent the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s Laboratories and Safety Protocols

Joshua Cho

MintPress News | September 15, 2021

Lab Leak Media Feature photo

Editor’s Note | We recognize that COVID-19 coverage can inflame passions and is prone to controversy. In the past, MintPress News has published varying viewpoints on the topic (including ones that stand in contrast to those represented in the following article). We strive to provide well-researched articles representing a diversity of views to our readers in the interest of fostering healthy discussion in the public interest.

WUHAN, CHINA — While many people have already criticized the lack of evidence and scientific basis for the hypothesis that the Covid-19 pandemic originated from a laboratory, both critics and proponents of the lab-leak theory appear to have uncritically accepted false or unproven premises regarding work done at the laboratory most often implicated in these speculations, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).

Some of the most prominent accusations pointed at the WIV are that it was conducting research as part of China’s alleged biowarfare program, and was conducting its experiments in substandard biosafety conditions. The implication is that if the WIV lied about not having SARS-CoV-2 before the outbreak, the virus would also be more likely to have originated from there owing to their inadequate biosafety standards. However, after investigating these widely circulated claims and contacting several scientists, it turns out there is actually little evidence for any of these allegations.

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SARS-like viruses may jump from animals to people hundreds of thousands of times a year

Study pinpoints Asian regions that could spark the next coronavirus pandemic

Kai Kupferschmidt

Science | September 15, 2021

Horseshoe bat exits a cave at dusk
A horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis) exits a cave at dusk, in Perak state in Malaysia, one of the countries where severe acute respiratory syndrome–related viruses may frequently infect people.FLETCHER & BAYLIS/SCIENCE SOURCE

Only two new coronaviruses have spread globally the past 2 decades: SARS-CoV, which caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But that may just be the tip of the iceberg of undetected infections with related viruses emerging from bats, a new paper claims. In a preprint published yesterday researchers estimate that an average of 400,000 people are likely infected with SARS-related coronaviruses every year, in spillovers that never grow into detectable outbreaks.

Although that number comes with big caveats, “It should be eye-opening to the entire scientific community that we don’t know very much about the frequency of zoonotic spillover,” says virologist Angela Rasmussen of the University of Saskatchewan, who was not involved in the work. That needs to change, she says, “because otherwise we grossly underestimate it.”

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