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Facebook to crack down on ads that discourage vaccines

The social media giant, however, stopped short of banning anti-vax content.

The post added that while they already don’t allow ads featuring vaccine hoaxes, “Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it.”

Moreover, the social media giant announced the launch of a new campaign to provide information about flu vaccines to users, and pledged to work with “global health partners on campaigns to increase immunization rates,” Jin and Leathern said.

PHOTO: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.

The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.

Facebook’s policy, however, stops short of banning posts or other types of content on the platform that discourages vaccines. It also does not ban political ads that “advocate for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines — including a COVID-19 vaccine,” Jin and Leathern wrote.

“We’ll continue to require anyone running these ads to get authorized and include a ‘Paid for by’ label so people can see who is behind them,” the blog post stated.

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South Africa’s Biovac in talks to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines

By Wendell Roelf and Alexander Winning

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – A South African company part-owned by the government is in talks with the global COVID-19 vaccine distribution scheme and pharmaceutical companies to produce some of the vaccines the country needs to protect itself against the disease.

The Biovac Institute, a Cape Town-based joint venture between the government and private sector, could produce up to 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines per year, depending on the technology involved, Chief Executive Morena Makhoana told Reuters.

Depending on whether the vaccines require a one- or two-dose regimen, that could be enough for a quarter or half of South Africa’s population.

“We need to look at who is likely to get to the finishing line and who has the technological fit,” Makhoana said, when asked which vaccine candidate Biovac might partner with. “Discussions are happening and we are fairly confident that … we will be able to clinch a deal.”

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the foundation that co-leads the COVAX scheme alongside the World Health Organization and vaccines alliance GAVI, has identified Biovac as a potential drug product manufacturer but has not signed an agreement yet, a CEPI spokesman said.

Drug product manufacturing typically includes steps like vaccine formulation, filling and finishing of vials, labelling and packaging, he said.

The COVAX scheme aims to deliver 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021. CEPI is reserving capacity with vaccine manufacturers worldwide so that goal can be met.

South Africa has submitted a non-binding confirmation of intent to participate in COVAX.

Makhoana said Biovac could not make “live virus” vaccines at this stage, precluding some vaccines being trailed in South Africa in partnership with Oxford University and Johnson & Johnson. He declined to name the companies Biovac was speaking to.

The Department of Science and Innovation, the ministry that manages the government’s stake in Biovac, supports its ambitions because it wants to stimulate local manufacturing and limit the impact of vaccine procurement on the country’s balance of payments, Director-General Phil Mjwara said.

Currently South Africa’s government buys about 95% of the vaccines supplied annually by Biovac, covering diseases such as tuberculosis, cervical cancer and influenza, with the rest sold to countries in the rest of Africa.

In the past Biovac has partnered with companies like Pfizer and Sanofi.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf and Alexander Winning; Editing by Tim Cocks and Elaine Hardcastle)

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World Bank approves $12B to finance virus vaccines, care

The World Bank has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people.

The $12 billion “envelope” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday.

The World Bank said its COVID-19 emergency response programs are already reaching 111 countries.

Citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, it said.


“We are extending and expanding our fast-track approach to address the COVID emergency so that developing countries have fair and equal access to vaccines,” said the bank’s president, David Malpass, said in the statement.

“Access to safe and effective vaccines and strengthened delivery systems is key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery,” he said.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank is investing in vaccine manufacturers through a $4 billion Global Health Platform, the World Bank said.

Researchers are working on developing more than 170 potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Development and deployment of such preventive vaccines is crucial to helping stem outbreaks of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people and sickened more than 38 million, while devastating economies and leaving many millions jobless.

The world’s richest countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through 2021, raising worries that poor and vulnerable communities will not be able to get the shots. Meanwhile, an ambitious international project to deliver coronavirus vaccines to the world’s poorest people, called Covax, is facing potential shortages of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines themselves.

The World Bank said it will draw on expertise and experience from its involvement in many large-scale immunization programs and other public health efforts.

The funding also is meant to help countries access tests and treatments and to support management of supply chains and other logistics for vaccinations in developing countries, the bank said.

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World Bank Approves $12B to Finance Virus Vaccines, Care | Business News

The World Bank has approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests, and treatments, aiming to support the vaccination of up to 1 billion people.

The $12 billion “envelop” is part of a wider World Bank Group package of up to $160 billion to help developing countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the bank said in a statement late Tuesday.

The World Bank said its COVID-19 emergency response programs are already reaching 111 countries.

Citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, it said.

“We are extending and expanding our fast-track approach to address the COVID emergency so that developing countries have fair and equal access to vaccines,” said the bank’s president, David Malpass, said in the statement.

“Access to safe and effective vaccines and strengthened delivery systems is key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery,” he said.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank is investing in vaccine manufacturers through a $4 billion Global Health Platform, the statement said.

Development and deployment of vaccines is crucial to helping stem outbreaks of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1 million people and sickened more than 38 million, while devastating economies and leaving many millions jobless.

The World Bank said it will draw on expertise and experience from its involvement in many large-scale immunization programs and other public health efforts.

The funding is meant to also help countries access tests and treatments and to support management of supply chains and other logistics for vaccinations in developing countries, the bank said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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World Bank approves $12 bln for Covid-19 vaccines

The World Bank said Tuesday that it approved $12 billion for developing countries to finance the purchase and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatment.

The financing “aims to support vaccination of up to a billion people,” the bank said in a statement.

The money is part of an overall World Bank Group (WBG) package of up to $160 billion through June 2021 designed to help developing countries battle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“This financing package helps signal to the research and pharmaceutical industry that citizens in developing countries also need access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines,” the statement read. 

“It will also provide financing and technical support so that developing countries can prepare for deploying vaccines at scale, in coordination with international partners.”

Access to safe and effective vaccines “and strengthened delivery systems is key to alter the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts move toward a resilient recovery,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said in the statement.

The financing “will also support countries to access to Covid-19 tests and treatments, and expand immunization capacity to help health systems deploy the vaccines effectively,” the statement added.

The financing approval was expected as Malpass had announced the project in late September.

While vaccines have yet to appear on the market, Malpass noted in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro that it was necessary to prepare because of the complicated vaccine distribution process.

The Bank’s approach, according to the statement, draws on its “significant expertise in supporting large scale immunization programs for vaccine preventable diseases, as well as public health programs to tackle infectious diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases.”

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Facebook bans ads discouraging vaccines

Facebook on Tuesday announced a ban on ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, in light of the coronavirus pandemic which the social media giant said has “highlighted the importance of preventive health behaviors.”

“While public health experts agree that we won’t have an approved and widely available Covid-19 vaccine for some time, there are steps that people can take to stay healthy and safe,” the company said in a statement.

The platform has already banned disinformation and scams as identified by public health institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

It will continue to allow advertisements either pushing for or against government regulations linked to vaccinations.

And it plans to launch a public information campaign in the United States pushing for people to get vaccinated against seasonal flu.

Coronavirus vaccines are expected to be key to moving beyond the pandemic and several labs are currently working on developing the shots.

The United States has pre-ordered millions of doses of vaccines currently under development by Pfizer and Moderna, but also from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Sanofi, in order to ensure swift delivery from whichever one makes the breakthrough first.

The tech giants have regularly been accused of allowing anti-vaccine movements to flourish.

According to US health authorities, the number of children who make it to age two without any vaccination has reached more than 0.9 percent among kids born in 2011 and 1.3 percent among those born in 2015. 

And the number of applications for vaccine exemptions rose in the year 2017-2018 in the US for the third year in a row. 

Yet a major study of more than 650,0000 Danish children who were followed for more than a decade came to the same conclusion as several previous studies: the vaccine against mumps, measles and rubella (MMR) carries no risk of causing autism in children, contrary to a theory advocated by anti-vaccine activists.

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J&J Investors Are Fixated on Vaccines Like Everyone Else

The news cast a shadow on J&J’s third-quarter earnings Tuesday, which showed an otherwise improving business. A better-than-expected recovery for medical devices, the unit hit hardest by Covid-related care slowdowns, helped it beat Wall Street expectations for quarterly sales and raise full-year guidance. The vaccine news seems to have outweighed that in investor’s minds, though it didn’t entirely overwhelm it, with J&J shares falling 2% in morning trading.

The pause could be brief if the illness proves unrelated to the vaccine, and it may be a few days before there’s more information, according to the company. Whatever the case, the halt may prove concerning because it’s the second potential safety issue involving a similar kind of vaccine. Both J&J and AstraZeneca are developing shots that use a common cold virus engineered to be harmless to deliver material that prompts a protective response. It’s also the second pause among the four vaccines furthest down the road to U.S. approval, so at a minimum, the trial halt increases the chances of a vaccine supply crunch.

J&J’s share drop might be an overreaction; the company does not plan to profit on its vaccine during the pandemic and profits plenty elsewhere. The broader market, though, might have more trouble getting over this second setback.

The worst-case scenario, discovering that adenovirus vaccines carry a higher risk of rare side effects, is unlikely. But the risk needs to be ruled out, and the long U.S. pause for AstraZeneca’s vaccine suggests that regulators are taking safety issues seriously. Further delay is possible for both programs, especially if enrollment is slow upon restart. That may have implications for the recovery. AstraZeneca has signed contracts to provide more doses worldwide than any other drugmaker, and J&J’s supply could be rolled out faster and go further than others since the company is pursuing a single-dose regimen.

The world may have to rely more at first on the other two vaccine front-runners — Moderna Inc. and the partnership between Pfizer Inc., and BioNTech SE. The two groups began final stage trials in late July with vaccines that use the body’s mRNA messaging system to prime the immune system, and they hope to have around 120 million doses between them by the end of the year. That’s enough for 60 million people, because both require two shots. Supplies will ramp next year, but it’s going to take time to vaccinate enough people to control the pandemic even if both are highly effective and hit manufacturing targets. Final-stage trials of the next batch of prominent candidates, from Novavax Inc. and a partnership between Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline PLC, have yet to begin.

J&J executives said the company’s strong device recovery comes from a growth in procedures worldwide, suggesting that the world is finding better ways to keep things like essential non-Covid related medical care going even as outbreaks keep coming. The company’s guidance suggests it expects that trend to continue, and its drug and consumer units also performed well. Other companies and many people

Vaccines for the novel coronavirus: How they are approved, who would get one first and other key things to know

A vaccine could mean a turning point in the fight against a novel coronavirus that has infected at least 7.8 million people in the United States, killed more than 214,000 nationwide and unraveled aspects of most everyone’s lives.

But approving a vaccine quickly is complex. And distributing it to some 330 million Americans, and to other countries, will require a feat of logistics.

Here’s what you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine effort.

What’s the timeline?

It depends on two main factors: how long the vaccines take to develop and get approved, and how quickly they can be manufactured and distributed.

Experts say multiple vaccines are needed to immunize the U.S. population. Clinical trials on several vaccine candidates could soon have produced enough data to assess whether they’re effective.

Moderna and Pfizer are farthest along, with vaccines deep into phase 3 clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people, according to Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of Operation Warp Speed, a federal program working toward immunizing Americans as quickly as possible.

Both are mRNA vaccines, which introduce genetic code for viral antigens that could teach the body’s immune system to respond to the virus. This new platform has yet to produce an approved vaccine of any kind. 

Slaoui, who spoke Oct. 6 at a virtual event co-hosted by the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University, said he expected “efficacy outcomes” — data on whether the vaccines work — within the next seven weeks.

The federal government also is investing in three other platforms besides mRNA, including adenovirus-based vaccines and adjuvanted protein vaccines, which could reach efficacy sometime next year.

Scaling up the manufacture of vaccines is “equally important and, frankly, even more complicated” than clinical development of them, Slaoui said. He discouraged vaccine makers from filing for emergency approval until their vaccines are available to distribute.

The mRNA vaccines already are being stockpiled, pending trial results and regulators’ approval.

Slaoui said he felt comfortable that within two months, one or both mRNA vaccines would reach efficacy and would have enough already stored to vaccinate 30 million Americans by year’s end and 50 million more in January. 

That’s an optimistic timeline.

Dr. Robert Kadlec, Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, said the U.S. can expect vaccine delivery starting in January.

And Dr. Anna Wald, a UW professor of medicine, epidemiology and laboratory medicine, said that even if limited quantities are shipped later this year, she didn’t expect vaccines to impact the pandemic’s course until spring 2021.

“Why don’t we wait and do it right?”
— Dr. Larry Corey

Because the trials are so large, data accumulates quickly, and scientists stand to learn more about how effective the vaccines are the longer they wait to review results, said Dr. Larry Corey, former director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and co-leader of a national network coordinating clinical trials on vaccines.

“We will learn a hell of a lot more” by waiting until December, Corey

People Harmed by Coronavirus Vaccines Will Have Little Recourse

The U.S. government paid out $4.4 billion over more than 30 years covering injuries relating to a host of vaccines—from flu to polio—but payouts for potential injuries from Covid-19 vaccines will be covered by a far less-generous program.

Covid-19 vaccine injuries will be covered under a program known as the “countermeasures injury” compensation fund, which was set up in 2010 to cover harm resulting from vaccines for a flu pandemic, or drugs to treat an anthrax or Ebola outbreak, for example.

This year, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said the countermeasures fund should also cover injuries from Covid-19 vaccines, giving drug companies immunity from potential liability lawsuits.

But the fund isn’t expected to offer much of a remedy to the public, according to lawyers and vaccine experts. Since it began processing claims, the fund has paid out $6 million on 29 claims, averaging $207,000 per person, compared with $585,000 on average per person for an older vaccine injury fund.

Behind the gap: The new fund has a tougher threshold for proving a relationship between an injury and the vaccine, experts say. The newer fund has a shorter statute of limitations, no avenue for appeals and doesn’t pay damages for pain or suffering like the older vaccine program does.

“The recourse for the people that get it initially is not going to be great” if they are harmed by any Covid-19 vaccines, said Renée Gentry, director of the Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic at George Washington University Law School. “The countermeasures compensation program is effectively a right to file and lose.”

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are testing whether experimental vaccines safely protect people from Covid-19 in late-stage clinical trials. Initial results could be available in the coming weeks, and if they are positive the U.S. government could authorize emergency use of the shots.

Vaccines generally are safe, but they can cause side effects—called “adverse events” in studies—including shoulder injuries related to injections, allergic reactions, fainting and certain neurological conditions like encephalitis. Some of the side effects are rare, and public-health officials say the benefits of vaccines in preventing diseases like polio, measles and rotavirus outweigh the risks.

Some people receiving experimental Covid-19 vaccines have experienced fatigue, chills and injection-site pain, studies show. Drug companies have said most of the events are mild or moderate, and that the vaccines were generally well tolerated.

Yet some of the symptoms have been pronounced. In a small study of Moderna’s vaccine in healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55, about 40% of people receiving the dose level now being tested in a larger trial experienced fever after the second of the two-injection regimen, and 80% had chills.

Nearly all study subjects had injection-site pain, according to results published online by the New England Journal of Medicine in July.

Ian Hayden received the two-dose Moderna vaccine regimen at a study site in Seattle. After the second shot in May, he experienced fever and chills, which became severe

Carrier and AWS Collaborate to Transform How Food, Medicine, Vaccines, and Other Perishable Goods Are Moved and Monitored Globally

SEATTLE & PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Carrier Global Corporation (NYSE: CARR), a leading global provider of healthy, safe, and sustainable building and cold chain solutions, announced a multi-year agreement to co-develop Carrier’s new Lynx digital platform. This suite of tools will provide Carrier customers around the world with enhanced visibility, increased connectivity, and actionable intelligence across their cold chain operations to improve outcomes for temperature-sensitive cargo, including food, medicine, and vaccines. The collaboration builds on Carrier’s selection of AWS as its preferred cloud services provider in February 2020.

The Lynx platform will combine AWS’s IoT, analytics, and machine learning services with Carrier’s refrigeration and monitoring solutions, extending Carrier’s current digital offerings for managing the temperature-controlled transport and storage of perishables. Customers using the Lynx platform will benefit from end-to-end tracking, real-time alerts, automated processes, and predictive analytics to help them deliver temperature-controlled cargo more efficiently, in turn decreasing the cost of cold chain operations by optimizing resource utilization and reducing cargo loss and spoilage.

Leveraging AWS IoT services to collect, integrate, organize, and analyze data from Carrier’s large installed base of refrigeration equipment and monitoring solutions, along with sources such as traffic and weather reports, the Lynx platform will provide a comprehensive view of cargo location, temperature conditions, and external events that could impact cold chain operations. This information will feed into a data lake built on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) where Carrier can use AWS machine learning services to identify potential issues that could impact cargo, as well as run sophisticated analytics to develop recommendations for improving outcomes. For example, by analyzing historic and real-time performance data from Carrier’s cloud-connected equipment, the Lynx platform could suggest proactive maintenance to maximize a specific piece of equipment’s availability. Looking ahead, Carrier and AWS plan to introduce a capability for the Lynx platform to provide recommendations related to cargo routing and improved fleet utilization, adding greater resilience into the cold chain that will help Carrier’s customers to manage costs, schedules, and resources.

“Carrier is committed to delivering a healthier, safer, and more sustainable cold chain. Through this collaboration with AWS, we are developing a uniquely powerful ecosystem to give our customers greater flexibility, visibility, and intelligence across the cold chain,” said David Appel, President, Carrier Refrigeration. “The Lynx platform will help our customers make faster, data-driven decisions to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of their supply chains. This digital solution will enhance connectivity across the cold chain, decreasing delays for cargo that is critical to global health and well-being, while reducing cargo damage, loss, and unanticipated costs.”

“Carrier and AWS are tackling the complexity and fragmentation of the cold chain to give supply chain customers the transparency, flexibility, and insights they require to reduce risk and deliver food, medicine, and vaccines when and where they’re needed,” said Sarah Cooper, General Manager, IoT Solutions at Amazon Web Services, Inc. “This project, which combines Carrier’s cold