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WHO reports record one-day rise in global coronavirus cases amid European outbreak

By Lisa Shumaker

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization reported a record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Thursday, with the total rising by 338,779 in 24 hours led by a surge of infections in Europe.

Europe reported 96,996 new cases, the highest total for the region ever recorded by the WHO.

Global deaths rose by 5,514 to a total of 1.05 million.

The previous WHO record for new cases was 330,340 on Oct. 2. The agency reported a record 12,393 deaths on April 17.

As a region, Europe is now reporting more cases than India, Brazil or the United States.

India reported 78,524 new cases, followed by Brazil at 41,906 and the United States with 38,904 new infections, according to the WHO, whose data lags the daily reports by each country.

According to a Reuters analysis of more recent country data, COVID-19 infections are rising in 54 countries, including surges in Argentina, Canada and much of Europe. (Graphic:

Infections in the United Kingdom have reached record levels with over 17,000 new cases reported on Thursday.

“We are seeing a definite and sustained increase in cases and admissions to hospital. The trend is clear, and it is very concerning,” said Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director for Public Health England.

France’s new daily COVID-19 infections remained above the record 18,000 threshold for the second day on Thursday with new measures to curb the outbreak expected.

The average number of new infections reported in Belgium has been increasing for seven days straight and Germany reported its biggest daily increase in new cases since April on Thursday.

While India still leads in the globe in most new cases reported per day, new infections are down 20% from its peak.

In the United States, which has the largest total number of cases and deaths in the world, new infections are edging higher along with the most hospitalized COVID-19 patients since early September.

(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago, Editing by Franklin Paul, Richard Chang and David Gregorio)

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Jeffries Says Sanofi Is ‘Most Compelling’ European Pharma Stock

– By Barry Cohen

Here’s a switch: Analysts are predicting sales for a Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) blockbuster drug that exceeds the company’s forecast.

Jefferies analysts wrote Dupixent revenue is likely to peak at $12.5 billion, according to an article in FiercePharma. That’s about 8% higher than Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson has set for the medication.

Dupixent is the first biologic medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adults and children aged six years and up with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis for whom topical treatments have not worked or are not advised.

Atopic is the most common type of eczema, affecting more than 9.6 million children and about 16.5 million adults in the United States, according to the National Eczema Association. It’s a chronic condition that can come and go for years or throughout life and can overlap with other types of eczema. The condition triggers inflammation that damages the skin barrier, leaving it dry and prone to itching and rashes.

As of the second quarter, Dupixent sales have been running at about $1 billion every three months. Jeffries thinks that number could double by 2028 as the patient population for atopic dermatitis expands and the drug makes inroads into treatment for asthma and several additional indications.

Other companies have eczema drugs in testing, but it appears they will present little challenge to Dupixent because of their side effects. One is abrocitinib from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), the other is Rinvoq from AbbVie Inc.(NYSE:ABBV).

Jeffries Says Sanofi Is 'Most Compelling' European Pharma Stock
Jeffries Says Sanofi Is ‘Most Compelling’ European Pharma Stock

In addition to making Dupixent Sanofi’s key growth driver, Hudson, a year into his tenure at the company’s helm, has launched a program to cut about $2.5 billion in costs by 2022. He’s also focusing the company’s research and development so it yields drugs that are “first-in-class” or “best-in-class.” To supplement in-house research, Sanofi has been busy scouting for outside help. It recently closed a $3.7 billion acquisition of Principia Biopharma. According to the terms of the deal, the Paris-based company gets drugs to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis, immunological and inflammatory diseases.

Jeffries analysts acknowledge Sanofi is much more than Dupixent, pointing to the company’s flu vaccines, robust pipeline and cost-cutting initiatives. In a bit of high praise, Jeffries said that from an investment perspective, Sanofi is the “most compelling” among large European pharma companies.

Sanofi is also engaged in the fight against Covid-19. The company recently began a phase 1/2 clinical trial of the vaccine it is developing in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK). The company said it anticipates results will be available in December, and if the shot passes muster, Sanofi could ask for regulatory approval in the first half of 2021.

Sanofi currently trades just below $50, It’s year-to-date range is $37.62 to $55. Its dividend yields nearly 3.4%. According to CNN Money, the 19 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts have a median target of $62.62, with a high estimate of $68.99 and a low estimate of $50.27. They rate Sanofi

Enhancing Patient Care: European Experts Meet on the Margins of GC64 to Strengthen Safety and Quality in Radiation Medicine

The virtual side-event benefitted from the attendance of more than 140 counterparts, experts and stakeholders in the region. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Identifying and Addressing Gaps

“General Safety Requirement Part 3 provides a solid basis for the Member States to develop their national legislation for radiation protection in medicine. However, its successful implementation related to medical exposure—including the exposure of patients, carers, comforters and volunteers in biomedical research — is a significant challenge,” said Dean Zontar, an Inspector-Councillor at the Slovenian Radiation Protection administration.

Zontar also delivered a presentation on behalf of a group of experts who evaluated current adherence to the IAEA’s Safety Standards for radiation protection in medical exposure. Using the IAEA Radiation Safety Information Management System (RASIMS) and other relevant information, he demonstrated how and where progress had been achieved by Member States in Europe and Central Asia receiving TC support, and underscored the challenges which persist.

“Although the Europe region is seen as having good radiation protection and safety regulatory systems, there are still many gaps in both regulatory requirements and in their implementation in practice,” Zontar said. “In many countries there is an apparent lack of understanding of the specifics of regulating medical exposure, and further support to improve understanding is needed,” he added.

To provide this kind of support, the IAEA routinely develops, disseminates and delivers training and expert guidance to countries around the world to support the work of the regulatory bodies, medical radiation facilities  and healthcare staff involved in the diagnostic and therapeutic use of ionizing radiation.

“Cooperation between stakeholders such as regulatory authorities, health authorities and medical professional bodies is essential and should be improved,” said Jenia Vassileva, an IAEA Radiation Protection Specialist who addressed the side-event participants, explaining the Agency’s role in strengthening patient protection regimes. “The TC Europe region will be the first to benefit from comprehensive advisory missions to Member States to support their full adherence to the IAEA safety standards for medical exposure.”

Quality assurance is an important component of IAEA support in the field of medical imaging. Virginia Tsapaki, an IAEA Medical Physicist specializing in diagnostic radiology, underscored this association between quality and imaging in her subsequent presentation.

 “Quality assurance and dosimetry is critical in medical imaging. A mistake, misuse or malfunction of an X-ray machine can affect the diagnosis of the patient,” explained Tsapaki. “X-ray systems must be closely monitored using established quality assurance programmes and the use of machines should be tailored to each individual patient’s needs.”

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15-minute coronavirus test gets the green light for a European rollout

Dr. Vincent Carrao draws blood from a patient for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at Palisades Oral Surgery, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, U.S., June 15, 2020. Picture taken June 15, 2020.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

A test to detect Covid-19 that can be done at the point of care and gives results in 15 minutes has been given the greenlight in Europe, according to its maker Becton Dickinson.

The test should be commercially available in Europe by the end of October, the diagnostics specialist said Wednesday, as it announced its antigen test had been granted a “CE mark” in Europe, meaning it conforms with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the region.

The new test delivers results in 15 minutes on a small, portable instrument, BD said in a statement Wednesday, adding that this is a “critical improvement in turnaround time for Covid-19 diagnostics, because it provides real-time results and enables decision-making while the patient is still onsite.”

“The addition of a truly portable, point-of-care test that can deliver results while the patient waits will be welcomed by health care providers and patients alike to help protect against additional waves of Covid-19,” Roland Goette, president of BD EMEA, remarked. 

In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to the company’s rapid antigen test, that works by looking for proteins that can be found on or inside the Covid-19 virus.

It has been widely reported that while antigen tests can be carried out faster than molecular diagnostic tests which are conducted in laboratories, they are generally less accurate.

Becton Dickinson says that clinical studies performed at more than 20 sites across the U.S. demonstrated that the test is capable of achieving 84% sensitivity (a measure of how well it correctly identifies infections) and 100% specificity (how well it correctly identifies negative tests) but the U.S. FDA recommends that negative test results be confirmed by a molecular method to confirm the result.

BD said it is leveraging its global manufacturing network and scale to produce 8 million Covid-19 antigen tests per month by October and expects to produce 12 million tests per month by March 2021.

It is by no means alone in developing a rapid antigen test for the virus, with Roche announcing earlier in September that its own 15-minute antigen test had received the CE mark and German diagnostic test maker Qiagen also announcing earlier this month that it planned to launch a 15-minute antigen test.

In mid-September it was reported that BD was looking into reports from nursing homes that its rapid Covid-19 testing equipment was producing false positive results in some cases.

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