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U.S. Equity Futures Rise On Vaccine Reports, Trading

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UK is testing whether COVID-19 vaccines might work better in inhalation
Image Credit: AP

U.S. stock index futures rose as reports of coronavirus treatments and business acquisitions bolstered investor sentiment ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting this week.

December contracts on the S&P 500 gained 1.2% at 6:25 a.m. in London after the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc restarted a UK trial of a Covid-19 vaccine, while the Pfizer Inc. CEO Albert Bourla said it was “likely” the United States will roll out treatment to the public before the end of the year. In addition, Gilead Sciences Inc. has agreed to acquire Immunomedics Inc.

Futures on the Nasdaq 100 index soared 1.4% after Nvidia Corp. said it has agreed to buy the chip division of SoftBank Group Corp., Arm Ltd. sharing the application as part of a sale or divestment.

The futures gain on Monday is “because of Gilead, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, ByteDance and Nvidia,” and it’s a “very specific rally,” said Ben Emons, head of global macroeconomic strategy at Medley Global Advisors.

“The 50-day moving average test is critical this week. If not held as support, it portends a correction driven by options that cause tech stocks to release leverage.”

South Korea reports fewest cases in one month

South Korea added 109 cases in 24 hours, up from 121 a day earlier and the lowest number in a month. The number of confirmed cases remained below 200 for a 12th consecutive day.

South Korea is relaxing social distancing rules as cases ease after the outbreak last month. The distance requirements for the Seoul metropolitan area will be lowered to level 2 from level 2.5 for two weeks. Level 2 prohibits indoor gatherings of 50 or more people, affecting everything from weddings to theme parks.

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People line up to buy face masks at a retail store in the southeastern city of Daegu on February 25, 2020. South Korea reported another 60 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus on February 25, the smallest increase for four days in Korean centers for Morning Disease Control and Prevention Updates. The country now has 893 cases. / AFP / Jung Yeon-je
Image Credit: AFP

Pakistani economy shows momentum as cases slow

Pakistan is showing signs of resuming business activity at a faster pace, as concerns over new infections fade in an economy that has contracted for the first time in seven decades. Growing sales of cement-fuel and demand for automotive appliances are testimony to the return of momentum.

This comes even as Pakistan added fewer than 2,900 cases last week, up from nearly 35,000 cases in a week in June, and 96% of the total 300,000 infected have fully recovered.

UK is testing whether COVID-19 vaccines might work better in inhalation

British scientists start small study comparing how two experimental coronavirus vaccines work when inhaled by people instead of injected

LONDON: British scientists are starting a small study comparing how two experimental coronavirus vaccines work when inhaled by people instead of injected.

In a statement released on Monday, researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Oxford said a trial involving 30 people would test vaccines developed by the two institutions when participants inhale the droplets in their mouths, which would directly target their respiratory system.

Larger studies on the Imperial and Oxford vaccines are already underway, but this study aims to see if the vaccines might be more effective if inhaled.

“We have evidence that giving influenza vaccines via a nasal spray can protect people against the flu and help reduce disease transmission,” said Dr. Chris Chiu of Imperial, who is leading the research. He suggested that this could also be the case with COVID-19.

“It is essential that we examine whether direct targeting of the airways can provide an effective response compared to a vaccine injected into the muscle,” Chiu said in a statement.

The study is currently recruiting participants aged 18 to 55 and hopes to start vaccinating people in London in the coming weeks.

Delivery method

Previous studies have shown that vaccines given by inhalation require lower doses than by injection, which could help stretch limited stocks.

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Swine flu nasal spray vaccine in Miami elementary school AFP

“It may well be that a group has the right vaccine but the wrong method of delivery, and only trials like this can tell,” said Robin Shattock, who is leading the development of the Imperial vaccine.

The imperial vaccine uses synthetic strands of genetic code based on the virus. Once injected into muscle, the body’s own cells are told to make copies of a protein spiked on the coronavirus.

This, in turn, is expected to trigger an immune response so that the body can fight off any future COVID-19 infection.

In comparison, the Oxford vaccine uses a harmless virus – a chimpanzee cold virus, designed so that it cannot spread – to transport (vector) the coronavirus spike protein in the body, which should trigger an immune response.

Last week, Oxford temporarily suspended its large-scale vaccination tests after a participant in the UK reported severe neurological symptoms. It was restarted on Sunday.

China authorizes human trials for coronavirus nasal spray vaccine

China has approved the first phase of human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine administered by nasal spray. Inoculation is under development by researchers at Xiamen University, University of Hong Kong and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, according to Bloomberg News.

He is the 10th Chinese candidate to take the crucial stage of human testing. The spray contains strains of the weakened influenza virus with genetic segments of the coronavirus spike protein. Once in the body, it mimics the natural infection of respiratory viruses to stimulate the body’s immune response against the pathogen responsible for COVID-19, reports Science and Technology Daily. The newspaper is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

Iran to start human trials for coronavirus vaccine soon

Iranian medical scientists will soon begin human trials for a coronavirus vaccine after the animal testing stage, the official IRNA news agency reported. “We hope that these activities will bring the desired result in order to provide better preventive services to the population,” Jalil Koohpayehzadeh, dean of the Iranian University of Medical Sciences and member of the Tehran anti-coronavirus committee, told IRNA.

As neither an effective vaccine nor a specific drug has yet been produced against the COVID-19 infection, Koohpayehzadeh urged the population to strictly follow sanitary instructions to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iran reached 402,000 on Monday, including 23,157 dead. The country confirmed its first case of the virus on February 19.

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A policeman chats with a person wearing a face mask to protest against Britain’s planned HS2 high-speed rail link at the entrance to the HS2 site in London Euston, following the outbreak of the disease in coronavirus (COVID-19), London, Great Britain.
Image Credit: Reuters

UK reserves up to 190 million doses of vaccine for Valneva

PARIS: Great Britain has obtained access to up to 190 million doses of a potential vaccine against the Valneva coronavirus for an amount of up to 1.37 billion euros, the Franco-Austrian company announced on Monday vaccines.

It was previously revealed in July that the UK government had reserved 60 million doses of inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine from Valneva under development.

The company said it plans to begin trials of the two-dose vaccine in December and, if successful, make it available in the second half of 2021.

The 60 million doses delivered to Britain in 2021 would cost 470 million euros ($ 557 million).

Britain will then have options on 40 million doses in 2022 and between 30 and 90 million from 2023 to 2025, which would cost 900 million euros. Valneva shares jumped more than 20% in early morning trading in Paris.

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