Developers of Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday called on British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to try combining its experimental shot with the Russian one to boost efficacy.
"Current full dose AstraZeneca regimen resulted in 62% efficacy. If they go for a new clinical trial, we suggest trying a regimen of combining the AZ shot with the Sputnik V human adenoviral vector shot to boost efficacy," the developers tweeted.
"Combining vaccine may prove important for revaccinations."
AstraZeneca is going to run more trials to assess the efficacy of its vaccine after questions were raised over the results from its late-stage study, the company’s chief executive officer Pascal Soriot said.
Clinical trials of the Oxford vaccine were conducted on 20,000 volunteers from the UK and Brazil. Preliminary results showed that the average vaccine efficacy was 70%.
During the trials, it was found that when two equally large doses of the vaccine were administered with a difference in a month, the level of protection against infection was 62%.
It increased to 90% when the subjects first received a small dose, and then, with a second injection, a bigger dose of the medicine, reports TASS.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 170 projects in the world now to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.
On August 11, Russia was the first in the world to register a Covid-19 vaccine called Sputnik V.
According to the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the efficacy of the vaccine is 95%.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Hetero, one of India’s leading generic pharmaceutical companies, have agreed to produce over 100 million doses per year of Sputnik V, the world’s first registered vaccine against coronavirus, in India.
A press release from Sputnik V said the parties intend to start the production of the vaccine at the beginning of next year.
The Gamaleya Center and RDIF announced on November 24 positive results obtained during the second interim data analysis of the largest double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled Phase III clinical trials in Russia’s history involving 40,000 volunteers.
Interim trial results have once again confirmed the high efficacy of the Sputnik V vaccine, based on a well-studied platform of human adenoviral vectors.
Evaluation of efficacy was carried out among volunteers 28 days after receiving the first dose (7 days after the second dose) of the vaccine or placebo upon reaching the second control point of the trial in compliance with the clinical trial protocol, the press release said.
The analysis demonstrated a 91.4 percent efficacy rate for the Sputnik V vaccine.
The uniqueness of the Russian vaccine lies in the use of two different vectors based on the human adenovirus, which allows for a stronger and longer-term immune response as compared to vaccines using one and the same vector for two doses.
Preliminary data on volunteers on the 42nd day after the first dose (equivalent to 21 days after the second dose), when they have already formed a stable immune response, indicates the efficacy rate of the vaccine is above 95 percent, according to the official website of Sputnik V vaccine.
Currently, Phase III clinical trials are approved and are ongoing in Belarus, the UAE, Venezuela and other countries, as well as Phase II-III in India.
Requests for more than 1.2 billion doses of Sputnik V vaccine came from more than 50 countries. The vaccine supplies for the global market will be produced by RDIF’s international partners in India, Brazil, China, South Korea and other countries, it said.
The safety of vaccines based on human adenoviruses has been confirmed in more than 75 international publications and more than 250 clinical trials conducted during the past two decades, the press release said.
“We are delighted to announce the agreement between RDIF and Hetero that will pave the way to production of the safe and highly effective Sputnik V vaccine on Indian soil,” said
Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
“The vaccine’s interim clinical trial results show 95 percent efficacy on the 42nd day after the first dose. I am confident that Sputnik V should become an integral part of the national vaccine portfolio of every country willing to protect its population from the coronavirus,” Dmitriev said.
He hoped that with the cooperation of Hetero, they will be able to significantly increase production capacity and provide people of India with an efficient solution.
Murali Krishna Reddy, Director of International Marketing at Hetero Labs, said they are pleased to collaborate with RDIF as a manufacturing partner for the most anticipated Sputnik V vaccine for the treatment of Covid-19.
“While we look forward to the clinical trial results in India, we believe that manufacturing the product locally is crucial to enable swift access to patients. This collaboration is another step towards our commitment in the battle against Covid-19 and realizing the objective of ‘Make-in-India’ campaign as envisioned by our Hon’ble Prime Minister of India,” he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged the international community to pay attention to the needs of women and girls suffering from violence and discrimination.
Although much progress has been made in highlighting the pressing issue of violence against women and girls, the UN Chief is pushing the world to go further towards ending what he has characterized as a blight on all societies, reports UN News.
The UN chief issued the call for action during an online event held on Wednesday to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and to launch the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign, headed up by UN Women.
“Millions of women are being pushed further into poverty by the COVID-19 crisis, and all forms of violence against them are rising”, he said. “In this context, the global community must continue to build on the momentum we have created to prioritize the voices, experiences and needs of women and girls.”
Appeal to nations
Back in April, the Secretary-General urged governments to make prevention and redress of violence a key part of their national responses to the pandemic. More than 140 countries have responded.
Mr. Guterres relaunched the appeal on Thursday to show how greater efforts are needed, for example, for funding and ensuring access to essential services, but also to reduce the risk of violence occurring in the first place.
“This includes providing financial and material support to women and households; encouraging positive messaging around gender equality, stereotypes and norms; supporting access to mental health services; and engaging key stakeholders, including women and girls, men and boys, and traditional and faith-based leaders”, he said.
The ‘shadow pandemic’
Prior to COVID-19, violence against women was already one of the most widespread violations of human rights, according to UN Women, which supports countries in achieving gender equality.
It can take many forms: from rape and domestic violence, to sexual harassment and cyber bullying, but also harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage. One in three women worldwide has been affected.
UN Women said there has been an alarming upsurge in incidents during COVID-19, a veritable “shadow pandemic”, with some countries reporting a five-fold rise in calls to helplines in the first weeks of coronavirus outbreak.
Projections further show that for every three months of lockdown, an additional 15 million women are expected to be affected.
"Our collective and accelerated response to the Secretary-General’s call to make prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of national responses to COVID-19 will lead us to a safer, more equal and violence-free world for all women and girls," said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women's Executive Director.
"Together, we must uphold our commitment to: fund women’s rights organizations; respond by strengthening and adapting services to survivors and integrating responses to violence against women into COVID-19 response and recovery plans; prevent violence against women and girls through social mobilization and social protection measures; and collect data to inform policies and programmes."
‘We must do better’
For the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Natalia Kanem, there is only one word for these violations: Enough.
“We must do better,” she said. “It is time to stand up and say enough to violence not just on one day, but 365 days a year. We must prevent violence. And until we end it, we must provide everything women and girls need to survive and recover, from physical and mental health care to legal aid and support for regaining livelihoods.”
Support can also come from ordinary citizens working to raise awareness around violence against women and girls, Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman told the virtual gathering.
As a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, she has travelled the world to meet with survivors and hear their stories, which are sometimes heartbreaking and horrifying.
Everyone has a role
“The women themselves would remind us, and me, that this is a problem with a solution. But the solution can only exist if we provide help,” she said in a video message.
“To play your role in ending violence against women, we need you to learn about the issue, make your friends and your community aware of services and resources, ensure that you know who to call if someone was is in danger, volunteer your time if you can, or if you have the means, donate.”
In the lead-up to the Gender Equality Forum next year, UN Women has launched its 16 Days of Activism global mobilization campaign to demand that the post-pandemic reset leads to a “new normal”, where violence against women and girls is relegated to history.
Governments, civil society, young people, influencers and others will be raising their voices during the campaign, which runs through 10 December.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed is also turning over her Twitter account during this period to feature advocates, activists and everyday citizens working on the issue.
The government of Argentina's on Wednesday declared three days of national mourning for the death of football legend Diego Armando Maradona, said the office of the presidency.
"The President of the Nation will decree three days of national mourning from the day (of his death)," according to the statement.
Maradona died Wednesday due to cardiorespiratory arrest at his home in the Tigre district on the northern outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.
The former star player and coach, most recently of the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata football team, underwent surgery following a stroke in early November.
On October 30, Maradona celebrated his 60th birthday.
Besides, the prosecutor general of the Argentinian town of San Isidro, John Broyad, said on Wednesday that Diego Maradona's body did not show "any sign of violence" and everything indicates that he died of "natural causes."
According to Broyad, Maradona passed away "around 12:00" local time (1500 GMT) Wednesday at his home in the neighborhood of San Andres, on the northern outskirts of the capital Buenos Aires.
In statements to the press, Broyad said that "at 16:00 (local time) the work of the Forensics Police began" on the body of the former footballer.
"No signs of criminality were evident, no signs of violence," said the prosecutor.
In addition, he reported that an autopsy would be carried out at the morgue of San Fernando Hospital, to "reliably determine the causes of death."
Argentina’s stunned soccer fans sought each other out Wednesday to mourn the death of Diego Maradona, gathering by the hundreds in spots linked to the life of the legendary player.
They gathered outside the humble home where he was born and raised in the Villa Fiorito neighborhood. They went to the stadium of Argentinos Juniors, where he started as a professional footballer in 1976. They stood at the historic La Bombonera stadium of his beloved Boca Juniors. More were at the headquarters of Gimnasia La Plata, the team he was coaching.
“I am touched. I can’t understand it, I can’t see the reality. Diego will never die, today is the birth of the Maradona myth,” said Dante López, a physician who went to the Argentinos Juniors stadium, which carries the beloved player’s name.
Fans put candles and flowers along the wall around the field.
“Diego was Argentina in the world. He gave us joy and we will never be able to repay him for so much joy,” said Argentine President Alberto Fernández, who issued a decree for three days of national mourning and offered the presidential palace for the funeral.
Mariano Jeijer sat with his wife and their baby in a small car near the Boca Juniors stadium. He said he didn’t want to be sad at home.
“Diego is a symbol of being Argentinian. He is someone that made us very happy,” Jeijer said.
Jejier said his devotion to Maradona is justified by the two goals he scored against England in Argentina’s 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup. That game was seen by many Argentine fans as pay back for the Falklands war four years earlier in which Britain defeated Argentina.
“The happiest moment was the first goal against the English. I was 12. I screamed as if I was crazy. I don’t even remember the second,” he said.
Nearby, Patricia Sánchez said Maradona “was like a father, and we were his children.” She stood with her son Ángel, who wore a blue and yellow Boca Juniors coat. Maradona played for Boca Juniors in 1981 before he moved to Barcelona, then returned there to retire as a player in 1997.
There were no tears, only celebration in Villa Fiorito, where Maradona learned how to play soccer on muddy fields.
“Olé, olé, Diego, Diego,” the neighbors sang in front of the house on Azamor Street where Maradona lived until Argentinos Juniors bought him a better one. “Diego is the greatest, he is a national pride,” the fans chanted.
Although the property no longer belongs to Maradona’s family, neighbors began painting a mural of their idol on a wall.
Mariela Córdoba said she didn’t finish lunch after learning of his death from a heart attack.
“The hunger was gone and we all came here,” she said. “We came to help with the wall because we are neighbors of Maradona’s life. People here are proud. They can say Maradona lived here.”
At the headquarters of Gimnasia La Plata, where Maradona became coach in September 2019, many fans cried in the stands. He made his last appearance there at a game Oct. 30, which was his 60th birthday.
“We will keep that smile, and the most beautiful crest on your chest,” the club said on Twitter. “We lived an unforgettable story.”
Also read: The world mourns a flawed yet beloved genius