Over 60,000 people sign up for Russian COVID-19 vaccine trial, 700 injected

Agencies
September 21, 2020

Moscow, Sept 21: The rush to find a vaccine for the deadly COVID-19 is still underway, and many have volunteered to participate in the clinical trials in the hope to find one. In Russia, for example, over 60,000 people have reportedly applied to volunteer for the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine trials in Moscow. Meanwhile, more than 700 people have been administered the vaccine.

Sputnik V, an adenovirus vector-based vaccine, was developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, along with the Russian Direct Investment Fund and registered on August 11.

"Over 60,000 people have signed up as volunteers, several thousand people have passed the required medical tests to be registered as potential candidates for carrying out the tests," Mayor Sergei Sobyanin was quoted as saying in reports on Sunday.

According to Russian Tass news agency, more than 700 people have been injected with the coronavirus vaccine. "All of them are feeling good," Sobyanin said.

The vaccine was developed on a platform that had been used for a number of other vaccines.

On August 15, the Russian Health Ministry announced the launch of the vaccine production.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr Reddy's Laboratories Limited, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in India, have also agreed to cooperate on clinical trials and distribution of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine in India.

"On regulatory approval in India, RDIF shall supply to Dr Reddy's 100 million doses of the vaccine. The Sputnik V vaccine, which is based on well-studied human adenoviral vector platform with proven safety, is undergoing clinical trials for the coronavirus pandemic," said a statement from the fund.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund said that the deliveries could potentially begin in late 2020 subject to completion of successful trials and registration of the vaccine by regulatory authorities in India.

Earlier this month, a study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet said a Russian COVID-19 vaccine has shown no serious side effects and elicited an immune response in early human trials.

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Agencies
October 25,2020

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Kabul, Oct 25: At least 18 people and dozens have been injured in a suicide bombing that took place at an education centre in a western neighbourhood of Afghanistan's capital Kabul, the BBC reported citing the interior ministry. The bombing took place on Saturday around 4:30 p.m. (local time) outside Kowsar-e-Danish, a private education centre that offers courses for students in higher education. The security guards of the facility had identified the suicide bomber and intercepted him, after which he detonated his explosive vest, Kabul police spokesman Ferdaus Faramarz told reporters via a text message.

The death toll rose from 11 to 18, including the bomber. In the preliminary assessment, 20 were wounded in the explosion. The number of casualties may change," he said. Many have been taken to hospital. There are fears the death toll may rise.

"We heard a huge blast outside an education centre in Pul-e-Khushk locality of Dashti Barchi area. The explosion triggered panic in the area in Police District 13 of Kabul," eyewitness Mohammad Nabi told Xinhua.

The casualties were transported by ambulances and police vans to hospitals.

The Islamic State group said it was behind the attack in messages posted on its social media channels, but did not provide any evidence. Several educational and cultural centers, mosques and sports facilities have been attacked in the district in recent years, and most of the attacks have been claimed by the militants of the Islamic State (IS) group. Earlier, the Taliban denied involvement in the attack. 

"A suicide bomber wanted to enter the education centre," interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said in a statement, according to a leading media outlet. The spokesman added that the attacker was identified by security guards "after which he detonated his explosives in an alley".

A local resident claimed he was standing about 100 metres from the centre when "a big blast" knocked him down.

Afghanistan has seen a rise in violence in recent weeks - with most of the attacks carried out by the Taliban. The violence threatens to imperil peace talks between government forces and the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The building (where the bombing took place on Saturday) in the predominantly Shia Muslim Dasht-e-Barchi area usually hosts hundreds of students. The Shia community in Afghanistan has previously been targeted by Sunni Muslim extremists such as the Islamic State group, which views the Shia practise of Islam as heretical.

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News Network
October 17,2020

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Washington, Oct 17: During the 2016 election campaign around this time, then-candidate Donald Trump addressed a large, glamorous rally of thousands of cheering Hindus – the first time a US presidential candidate reached out to the followers of the faith

But this time there won't be such an event.

The Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), which organised the event on October 15, 2016, in New Jersey, is scaling back its campaign for Trump and will not hold events for him unless he gives an assurance on immigration reform, according to its founder Shalabh Kumar.

Kumar said media persons that he and the group's members would continue to support Trump and urge Hindus to vote for him, but will not hold any campaign events like the one in 2016 which was attended by over 8,000 people.

In the US, electioneering based on religious appeal is legal and common at all levels.

"We are asking all our members to support Trump in their individual capacity to vote for Trump and for Republicans in general," Kumar said.

"But in terms of major campaign events like what we did in New Jersey and what we did with 'Apki Baar Trump Sarkar' commercial which we aired every day, we are waiting for a meeting with the President to clarify his position particularly on the Green Card backlog," he said.

He asserted that the RHC had about 50,000 members and because the Hindus came from all over the world, their number in the US exceeded that of immigrants coming directly from India and their children.

While the Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden is not carrying out large campaign rallies because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Trump has been holding them and it should be possible to organise a Hindu event for him.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, has launched an outreach under its own umbrella called the 'Hindu Voices for Trump', as part of a multi-pronged drive that also separately targets Sikhs, Muslims and Indian-Americans in general.

But it has been acting low key, not organising any big campaign events for Hindus and it emphasises religious freedom and economic opportunities.

For the first time, Democrats have also reached out to members of the religion with a "Hindus for Biden" initiative spearheaded by Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House of Representatives.

In the past, the Democrats' explicit outreach had been to religions like Islam and Judaism and excluded Hinduism.

Noting the change in the Democratic Party, Kumar quipped: "We have at least made the Hindu word popular."

He said that as a "very issue-oriented, policy-oriented organisation", the RHC requires a commitment from Trump on immigration reform and clearing the Green Card backlog, which it considers is important to the community and would ramp up its campaign for him once it is received.

While Trump speaks of merit-based immigration there are about a million people caught up in the Green Card backlog and "they are in great pain", he said.

The RHC wants a commitment from Trump that he would introduce a system of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that would allow people waiting for five or more years for their Green Cards to indefinitely work and live in the US till their numbers come up for it, he said.

According to Republican Senator Mike Lee's estimate, the backlog is so bad that for some Indians the wait could take 195 years for a Green Card, which gives permanent immigrant status and puts the recipients in the pipeline to full citizenship.

The EAD would be a bridge to Green Card pending immigration reforms to clear the backlog, Kumar said.

Trump would also have to come out more clearly on the Citizenship Amendment Act that gives expedited Indian citizenship to Christian, Hindu and Buddhist refugees fleeing persecution in Islamic nations in South Asia, and on the Indian government withdrawing the special constitutional status of Kashmir.

In 2016, Kumar said "we had an agreement from Trump" on four issues that the RHC raised "before we endorsed his and went out all the way for him".

The issues were holding Pakistan accountable for terrorism, the sale of advanced weapons systems to India, the supply of liquid natural gas to India and advancing US-India relations, he said.

Candidate Trump agreed to the conditions and as president he has delivered on them, Kumar said.

That is a reason for the uptick in support among Indian-Americans for Trump, he said.

Regarding the immigration issue, he said: "There is bipartisan support and we want to make sure that that issue gets taken care of, whether Trump gets re-elected, which, of course, we want -- I am a hard-core conservative – (and) at the same time looking at the reality on the ground, if Vice President Biden become the president, we want that issue to be taken care of."

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News Network
October 31,2020

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Washington, Oct 31: The United States set a new all-time high for coronavirus cases confirmed in a single 24-hour period on Friday, reporting just over 100,000 new infections to surpass the record total of 91,000 posted a day earlier, according to a Reuters tally.

The daily caseload of 100,233 is also a world record for the global pandemic, surpassing the 97,894 cases reported by India on a single day in September.

Five times over past ten days, the United States has exceeded its previous single-day record of 77,299 cases registered in July. The number of daily infections reported during past two days indicates that the nation is now reporting more than one new case every second.

The spike comes just four days ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 230,000 people in the United States, has dominated the final stretch of the campaign.

The United States crossed 9 million cumulative cases on Friday, representing nearly 3% of the population, according to a Reuters tally of publicly reported data.

On Friday, 16 U.S. states reported their highest one-day coronavirus infections while thirteen states were at record levels of hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

So far in October, 31 states have set records for increases in new cases, including five considered key in the Nov. 3 presidential election: Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden held rallies in Florida on Thursday, showcasing their contrasting approaches to the pandemic.

The nationwide surge in cases seen in the past week is pushing the United States towards the grim mark of 100,000 daily cases. India holds the record of most number of daily coronavirus cases 97,894 cases, it reported on Sept. 17.

For every 10,000 people in the United States, over 272 coronavirus cases have been reported and about seven people have died, according to a Reuters analysis. In Europe there have been 127 cases and four deaths per 10,000 residents.

More than 1,000 people died of the virus on Thursday, marking the third time in October that milestone has been passed in a single day. The number of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 has risen more than 50% in October to 46,000, the highest figure since mid-August.

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