WASHINGTON: On Saturday, US drug authorities gave emergency clearance to a Covid-19 antibody therapy and G20 countries pressed for global access to vaccines as the pandemic led to further shutdowns in areas of the globe.
With cases surpassing 12 million in the United States, the largest in the country, amid health officials’ threats to stay home, many Americans were nonetheless going to airports to fly for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
New limits were imposed by several US states, including California, where a curfew took place from 10pm to am.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on the other side of the Atlantic, expects to declare that prohibitions across England will end as scheduled on December 2, his office said.
Yet a return to a three-tiered collection of municipal curbs would accompany the lockout.
G20 nations push for global access to anti-coronavirus vaccines
Britain has suffered from the coronavirus more than any other country in Europe, with more than 54,000 deaths from 1.4 million cases.
Iran declared in the Middle East that it had shut down non-essential companies for up to two weeks in over half its cities and towns and imposed limits on travel.
For those affected, the legalisation of antibody therapy in the United States provides some hope, but a comparatively limited amount of doses would be available in the coming weeks.
When he was diagnosed with the flu, the same therapy was used to cure President Donald Trump.
The green light for drugmaker Regeneron has been shown to decrease Covid-19-related hospitalizations or emergency department visits in patients with underlying disorders after REGEN-COV2, a mixture of two lab-made antibodies, was shown.
According to Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, approving these monoclonal antibody therapies will help outpatients prevent hospitalisation and ease the pressure on our health care system.
The antibody treatment of Regeneron is the second synthetic antibody treatment to be approved by the FDA for emergency use (EUA) after a related therapy developed by Eli Lilly was granted status on Nov 9.
The company said it plans to have doses available by the end of November for 80,000 patients and by the end of January 2021 for nearly 300,000 patients in total.
Under the terms of a US government scheme, these will be available to US patients at no out-of-pocket expense.
But with cases surging across the US and worldwide, that means that access is not going to be universal. In the past two days alone, the US has added more than 360,000 fresh Covid-19 cases.
Good news on vaccination has also been obtained in recent days from US company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
On Friday, the firms demanded their vaccine candidate for emergency clearance, becoming the first to do so in the United States or Europe, with trials finding that it was 95 percent successful.
A vaccine produced by another biotech company, Moderna, which claims its product is still around 95pc successful, is hot on the heels of these firms.
But amid these advances, there are fears that countries across the world may have inadequate access to vaccines, and those concerns have been reinforced by the G20 nations gathering for a virtual summit on Saturday.
“While we are optimistic about the progress made in developing Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostic tools, we must work to create conditions for all people to have affordable and equitable access to these tools,” said Saudi King Salman, the host of the summit.
During this meeting, we have a responsibility to rise to the challenge together and send a clear message of hope and reassurance to our people by implementing policies to resolve this crisis,” he said in opening remarks to world leaders.
The success of the vaccine has spurred optimism in Italy, one of the countries hardest affected by the pandemic.
On Saturday, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said that the nation intended to begin a huge January vaccine drive.
Speranza told a group of pharmacists that the vaccine campaign “will get underway towards the end of January when we hope to have the first doses.”
Like its European counterparts struggling to contend with the catastrophic second wave of the pandemic, Italy has reported about 1.3 million cases and nearly 50,000 deaths since the coronavirus took hold earlier this year.