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Blood type and COVID-19 risk: O may help, A may hurt | The Japan Times

Scientists who compared the genes of thousands of patients found that those who had Type A blood were more likely to have severe cases of COVID-19.

Source: Blood type and COVID-19 risk: O may help, A may hurt | The Japan Times

Group finds manufacturing capacity for 4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines | The Japan Times

Britain’s Prince William meets scientists during a visit to the manufacturing laboratory where a vaccine against the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is being produced in Oxford, England, on Wednesday. | POOL / VIA AFP-JIJI


An influential foundation focused on preparation and response to epidemics that is backing nine potential coronavirus vaccines has identified manufacturers with capacity to produce four billion doses a year, the group’s top manufacturing expert said.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI) plans to have two or three manufacturing plants for each vaccine, James Robinson, a longtime biopharma executive leading CEPI’S vast manufacturing push, said in an interview.

“Right now, we know we can do the 2 billion doses that we have as our kind of our minimum target” by the end of 2021, he said.

The group is planning for eight to 10 regional distribution sites “so that we don’t have to make everything centrally and try and ship it around the world,” he said.

Even with no existing approved vaccines, CEPI is already getting manufacturing and supply chains lined up in a quest to ensure coronavirus vaccines are distributed equitably around the globe.

The Oslo-based group is backed by 14 governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Britain’s Wellcome Trust.

CEPI has deployed up to $829 million so far in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine through partnerships with nine developers, with the hope that at least some will be successful.

They are Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc, the University of Queensland with CSL Ltd, CureVac, Moderna Inc with U.S. government backing, Novavax Inc, the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca, Clover Biopharmaceuticals, the University of Hong Kong, and a consortium led by Institut Pasteur and including the University of Pittsburgh and Themis Bioscience, which was recently purchased by Merck & Co.

Robinson said CEPI has taken initial steps toward securing manufacturing capacity with more than 200 biopharma or sterile vaccine production companies.

“Most people don’t believe that 4 billion is possible. I do,” he said.

Robinson, a manufacturing consultant who has worked at some of the world’s biggest vaccine companies including Sanofi and Merck, said his group has done “matchmaking” based on manufacturers’ capabilities and the specific needs of the various vaccines.

Effective vaccines are seen as critical to stopping a pandemic that has infected more than 9.3 million people and killed nearly 480,000 globally with little sign of letting up.

CEPI is taking care to ensure that the work to produce a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 does not sideline other critical vaccines. That has been a particular concern in less developed countries, Robinson said.

Manufacturing capacity has been easier to locate for vaccine candidates that employ traditional technology. But three of the candidates CEPI is backing involve more complex mRNA- or DNA-based technology.

Since there has never been a licensed vaccine using those approaches, no network of contract manufacturers exists to support high-volume production, Robinson said.

“The capacity just isn’t there and it all has to be built from scratch,” he said.

Access to medical glass is another known bottleneck. To overcome it, CEPI has purchased enough glass vials for 2 billion doses and is considering purchasing more.

“We don’t want vials to be the reason we don’t have enough vaccine,” he said.

CEPI is keeping packaging products it chooses uniform, so it can fill vials and finish packaging for any of the vaccines, rather than tailoring them to individual products.

They have done the same with rubber stoppers that seal the vials and aluminum flip caps to cover them.

“Some companies are choosing not to use our network … and they’re also purchasing their own vials,” Robinson said. That will allow more capacity for smaller biotechs and university labs that do not have sophisticated supply chains.

One other massive challenge facing CEPI is the need to work with dozens, if not scores, of regulators globally.

“Each regulatory agency could ask for something different, so our job is a bit more complex,” Robinson said.

A CEPI regulatory working group has been looking into ways to try to standardize requirements to the extent possible, Robinson said. “But then each of the countries that receive the vaccine also need to license it.”

Source: Group finds manufacturing capacity for 4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines | The Japan Times

Dangerous Kawasaki-like condition seen in children with COVID-19 is a NEW disease

Children with coronavirus who develop bizarre and dangerous inflammation similar to Kawasaki syndrome are suffering from an entirely new disease, Imperial College London scientists say.

Britain announces more coronavirus deaths |Daily Mail

Today’s figure is the lowest since March 23, when 74 deaths were recorded before the crisis in the UK spiralled out of control. However, there is always a dip in figures at the weekend.



London arts director, 53, caught Covid-19 while skiing in Austria at New Year

Susannah Ford, 53, had an antibody test which said she had been exposed to the disease. She is convinced she caught it after visiting Obergurgl resort, Austria, for a skiing holiday on January 6.

UK announces hundreds more Covid-19 deaths

Today’s figure is down significantly from the record high of 1,115 recorded on Saturday April 18 during the peak of the crisis and marks a consistent downward trend in fatalities.

Drug firms hike cost of life-saving pills by 800% during pandemic 

Prices paid by NHS chemists for antidepressants and a breast cancer treatment have soared by more than 800 per cent in recent weeks, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Coronavirus: Breathing or talking are main transmission sources

Chinese scientists found Covid-19 patients exhale millions of viral particles per hour, even if they have mild or no symptoms. They say it highlights the need for more people to wear face masks.

Handheld UV light devices that can kill Covid-19 may soon be as common as mobile phones

Scientists are one step closer to making portable UV light gadgets capable of warding off the coronavirus after Penn State University made a ‘breakthrough’.

Fit in my 40s: is cleaning as good as a fitness class? There’s one way to find out | Zoe Williams

If you live in chaos, you can get a decent cardio workout just by tidying, moving things at speed off the floor of one room and into another

A couple of years ago, I was trying to place the entire fitness industry on the arc of feminism, with my friend who’s an aerobics teacher. What does it mean, if we’re all dropping a load of time and money trying to hone our glutes? Is it straight objectification? (Must look better to fit society’s view of female form! Must be best self to maximise market value in a neoliberal frame!) Or is it a story of emancipation and strength? (I don’t need a man – I can push over a car using only my thighs.) She said, “You’re partly looking at an aerobics class full of women who no longer do their own housework. The amount of physical activity is the same in a class, it’s just that nothing gets any cleaner.” So really it was more of a Marxist question than a feminist one, but never mind that now.

What I’ve been ruminating on recently is the question: is the amount of energy you expend cleaning the same as an aerobics class? Well, one: only if you plan it to be. Two: there will be gaps in the workout, but you can fill those with bodyweight bolt-ons. Three: cleaning demands – craves – music, because it otherwise drops to a sedate pace. I’d even suggest making some 20-minute 160BPM playlists. (I’ve got a musicals playlist, and everyone hates it: my mister because he hates musicals, the children because they say every time they hear The Greatest Showman, they know I’m going to be in a really self-righteous mood. This doesn’t deter me, as I am possessed by my own righteousness.) Continue reading…

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