Canada Signs Deals with Novavax, Johnson & Johnson for Coronavirus Vaccines

Canada reached an agreement in principle on Monday with both Novavax and Johnson & Johnson for millions of doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. Canada’s two agreements follow separate deals with Pfizer and Moderna announced weeks ago, and are the latest example of countries rushing to secure access to vaccines. Canada is also in “the final stages of negotiations” to secure AstraZeneca’s potential vaccine and is in talks to secure more doses of the Pfizer vaccine candidate, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said. “What we are trying to do is make sure that when a vaccine is developed, we are at the front of the line,” Anand told reporters. Canada has a population of about 38 million, and the four vaccine agreements signed so far “give Canada at least 88 million doses with options to obtain tens of millions more,” Trudeau said when he announced the deals in Montreal. More doses possibleAll four agreements announced so far have options to purchase more doses if needed, officials said. Trudeau also said the government will invest C$126 million ($96.7 million) over two years to build a biomanufacturing facility at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre in Montreal capable of producing up to 2 million doses of a vaccine per month by next year. Last week, Canada’s National Research Council said it had ended its partnership on a coronavirus vaccine with China’s CanSino Biologics because the company lacked the authority to ship the vaccine. Help for businessesSeparately, Canada extended to the end of October a program to provide loans of up to C$40,000 ($30,666), a quarter of which is forgivable, to small businesses struggling amid the pandemic. It had been due to expire Monday. Novavax said it expects to finalize an advance purchase agreement to supply doses of the vaccine, beginning as early as the second quarter of next year. Novavax has agreed to supply up to 76 million doses of its experimental vaccine, while Johnson & Johnson will supply up to 38 million doses of its vaccine candidate. Both agreements are subject to the vaccines obtaining licenses from Health Canada. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Shares of Novavax were up 1.7% at $109.59 and Johnson & Johnson shares were little changed at $153.72 on Monday afternoon. 

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Scientists See Downsides to Top COVID-19 Vaccines from Russia, China 

High-profile COVID-19 vaccines developed in Russia and China share a potential shortcoming: They are based on a common cold virus that many people have been exposed to, potentially limiting their effectiveness, some experts say. CanSino Biologics’ vaccine, approved for military use in China, is a modified form of adenovirus type 5, or Ad5. The company is in talks to get emergency approval in several countries before completing large-scale trials, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. A vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, approved in Russia earlier this month despite limited testing, is based on Ad5 and a second less common adenovirus. A scientist works inside a laboratory of the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology during the testing of a coronavirus vaccine, in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 6, 2020. (Russian Direct Investment Fund/Handout via Reuters)”The Ad5 concerns me just because a lot of people have immunity,” said Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University. “I’m not sure what their strategy is … maybe it won’t have 70% efficacy. It might have 40% efficacy, and that’s better than nothing, until something else comes along.” Vaccines are seen as essential to ending the pandemic that has claimed over 845,000 lives worldwide. Gamaleya has said its two-virus approach will address Ad5 immunity issues. Both developers have years of experience and approved Ebola vaccines based on Ad5. Neither CanSino nor Gamaleya responded to requests for comment. Researchers have experimented with Ad5-based vaccines against a variety of infections for decades, but none are widely used. They employ harmless viruses as “vectors” to ferry genes from the target virus — in this case the novel coronavirus — into human cells, prompting an immune response to fight the actual virus. But many people already have antibodies against Ad5, which could cause the immune system to attack the vector instead of responding to the coronavirus, making these vaccines less effective. FILE – Screen grab taken from video issued by Britain’s Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK to test a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in England, Apr. 23, 2020.Several researchers have chosen alternative adenoviruses or delivery mechanisms. Oxford University and AstraZeneca based their COVID-19 vaccine on a chimpanzee adenovirus, avoiding the Ad5 issue. Johnson & Johnson’s candidate uses Ad26, a comparatively rare strain. Dr. Zhou Xing, from Canada’s McMaster University, worked with CanSino on its first Ad5-based vaccine, for tuberculosis, in 2011. His team is developing an inhaled Ad5 COVID-19 vaccine, theorizing it could circumvent pre-existing immunity issues. “The Oxford vaccine candidate has quite an advantage” over the injected CanSino vaccine, he said. Xing also worries that high doses of the Ad5 vector in the CanSino vaccine could induce fever, fueling vaccine skepticism. “I think they will get good immunity in people that don’t have antibodies to the vaccine, but a lot of people do,” said Dr. Hildegund Ertl, director of the Wistar Institute Vaccine Center in Philadelphia. In China and the United States, about 40% of people have high levels of antibodies from prior Ad5 exposure. In Africa, it could be has high as 80%, experts said. HIV risk  Some scientists also worry an Ad5-based vaccine could increase chances of contracting HIV. In a 2004 trial of a Merck & Co Ad5-based HIV vaccine, people with pre-existing immunity became more, not less, susceptible to the virus that causes AIDS. FILE – Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 30, 2020.Researchers, including top U.S. infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, in a 2015 paper, said the side effect was likely unique to HIV vaccines. But they cautioned that HIV incidence should be monitored during and after trials of all Ad5-based vaccines in at-risk populations. 
“I would be worried about the use of those vaccines in any country or any population that was at risk of HIV, and I put our country as one of them,” said Dr. Larry Corey, co-leader of the U.S. Coronavirus Vaccine Prevention Network, who was a lead researcher on the Merck trial. Gamaleya’s vaccine will be administered in two doses: The first based on Ad26, similar to J&J’s candidate, and the second on Ad5. Alexander Gintsburg, Gamaleya’s director, has said the two-vector approach addresses the immunity issue. Ertl said it might work well enough in individuals who have been exposed to one of the two adenoviruses. Many experts expressed skepticism about the Russian vaccine after the government declared its intention to give it to high-risk groups in October without data from large pivotal trials. “Demonstrating safety and efficacy of a vaccine is very important,” said Dr. Dan Barouch, a Harvard vaccine researcher who helped design J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine. Often, he noted, large-scale trials “do not give the result that is expected or required.”  

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Poll Shows 40 Percent of Americans Back Trump Executive Order on TikTok

Forty percent of Americans back President Donald Trump’s threat to ban videosharing app TikTok if it is not sold to a U.S. buyer, according to a Reuters/Ipsos national poll, suggesting that many support the effort to separate the social media upstart from its Chinese parent.The poll published Monday, which surveyed 1,349 adult respondents across the United States, found that 40% backed Trump’s recent executive order forcing China’s ByteDance to sell its TikTok operations in the United States by Sept. 15. Thirty percent of the respondents said they opposed the move, while another 30% said they didn’t know either way.The responses were largely split along party lines, and many of those who agreed with Trump’s order said they do not know much about TikTok. Among Republicans, for example, 69% said they supported the president’s order while only 32% said they were familiar with the app. Twenty-one percent of Democrats also supported Trump’s order and 46% said they were familiar with TikTok.The figures suggest most Americans had only “a fleeting knowledge of the brand,” said Dipanjan Chatterjee, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. Chatterjee said the negative attitudes were likely the result of the public rhetoric around TikTok – and increasing tensions with Beijing.”Clearly there’s been a politicization of TikTok,” he said.TikTok users have captured the teenage zeitgeist with catchy song-and-dance videos in the United States and elsewhere, but its parent company’s ties to Beijing have been the subject of bipartisan concern as relations with China deteriorate.Those worries culminated earlier this month in a do-or-die order from Trump to ByteDance, with the Trump administration saying that TikTok is a potential national security risk due to the vast amount of private data the app is compiling on U.S. consumers. TikTok claims about 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.The Chinese company must now divest TikTok in the United States. Microsoft Corp and Oracle Corp are among U.S. companies fighting to snap up its assets.The Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 38% of respondents said they were either very or somewhat familiar with the app and 25% said they had watched a video on the platform. Thirty-five percent agreed with the statement that they had “heard of it, but that’s about it.”Americans also appeared to be more critical of the Chinese company than they were of American-based technology companies: 47% of respondents said they either held very unfavorable, somewhat unfavorable, or “lean towards unfavorable” attitudes toward TikTok. By contrast, just 11% said they had similarly unfavorable impressions of Seattle-based Amazon – the world’s largest online retailer which is facing allegations of monopolistic behavior from both sides of the U.S. political aisle. 

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НБУ послабив гривню на 9 копійок щодо долара

Національний банк України опівдні 31 серпня встановив довідкове значення курсу 27 гривень 57 копійок за долар, це на 9 копійок більше за офіційний курс на сьогодні.

На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку, за даними Finance.ua, станом на 12:50, котирування сягнули 27 гривень 55,5–58 копійок за долар.

«Поки попит на валюту перевищує пропозицію, що і відбивається на котируваннях», – відзначають експерти сайту «Мінфін». Вони прогнозували, що 31 серпня котирування долара на міжбанку залишаться в межах 27 гривень 40–65 копійок за долар.

 

 

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China’s New Tech Export Controls Could Give Beijing a Say in TikTok Sale

China’s new rules around tech exports mean ByteDance’s sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations could need Beijing’s approval, a Chinese trade expert told state media, a requirement that would complicate the forced and politically charged divestment.ByteDance has been ordered by President Donald Trump to divest short video app TikTok — which is challenging the order — in the United States amid security concerns over the personal data it handles.Microsoft Corp and Oracle Corp are among the suitors for the assets, which also includes TikTok’s Canada, New Zealand and Australia operations.However, China late on Friday revised a list of technologies that are banned or restricted for export for the first time in 12 years and Cui Fan, a professor of international trade at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said the changes would apply to TikTok.”If ByteDance plans to export related technologies, it should go through the licensing procedures,” Cui said in an interview with Xinhua published on Saturday.China’s Ministry of Commerce added 23 items –- including technologies such as personal information push services based on data analysis and artificial intelligence interactive interface technology — to the restricted list.It can take up to 30 days to obtain preliminary approval to export the technology.TikTok’s secret weapon is believed to be its recommendation engine that keeps users glued to their screens. This engine, or algorithm, powers TikTok’s “For You” page, which recommends the next video to watch based on an analysis of your behavior.Cui noted that ByteDance’s development overseas had relied on its domestic technology that provided the core algorithm and said the company may need to transfer software codes or usage rights to the new owner of TikTok from China to overseas.”Therefore, it is recommended that ByteDance seriously studies the adjusted catalog and carefully considers whether it is necessary to suspend” negotiations on a sale, he added.ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.China’s foreign ministry has said that it opposes the executive orders Trump has placed on TikTok and that Beijing will defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese businesses.

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Zuckerberg says Facebook Erred in Not Removing Militia Post

Facebook made a mistake in not removing a militia group’s page earlier this week that called for armed civilians to enter Kenosha, Wisconsin, amid violent protests after police shot Jacob Blake, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.The page for the “Kenosha Guard” violated Facebook’s policies and had been flagged by “a bunch of people,” Zuckerberg said in a video posted Friday on Facebook. The social media giant has in recent weeks adopted new guidelines removing or restricting posts from groups that pose a threat to public safety.Facebook took down the page Wednesday, after an armed civilian allegedly killed two people and wounded a third Tuesday night amid protests in Kenosha that followed the shooting of Blake, who is Black.”It was largely an operational mistake,” Zuckerberg said. “The contractors, the reviewers, who the initial complaints were funneled to, didn’t, basically didn’t pick this up.”Zuckerberg did not apologize for the error and said that so far, Facebook hasn’t found any evidence that Rittenhouse was aware of the Kenosha Guard page or the invitation it posted for armed militia members to go to Kenosha.Facebook is now taking down posts that praise the shooting or shooter, Zuckerberg said. Yet a report Thursday by The Guardian newspaper found examples of support and even fundraising messages still being shared on Facebook and its photo-sharing service, Instagram.Zuckerberg also contrasted the treatment of Blake, who was shot in the back by Kenosha police, and the white 17-year-old now charged in Tuesday’s slayings, Kyle Rittenhouse, who carried an AR-15-style rifle near police without being challenged. Zuckerberg also acknowledged the civil rights demonstration Friday in Washington, D.C.”There’s just a sense that things really aren’t improving at the pace that they should be, and I think that’s really painful, really discouraging,” Zuckerberg said.Zuckerberg also said the company is working on improving its execution, though he did not provide details. He acknowledged that the approaching presidential election would present greater challenges around polarizing content.”There is a real risk and a continued increased risk through the election during this very sensitive and polarized and highly charged time,” he said.

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Зеленський підписав закон про підвищення мінімальної зарплати на 227 гривень

Президент України Володимир Зеленський підписав закон про підвищення мінімальної заробітної плати на 227 гривень з 1 вересня. Про це повідомили в Офісі президента 29 серпня.

 

 

«Документ передбачає збільшення мінімальної заробітної плати та встановлення її з 1 вересня поточного року на рівні 5 тис. грн на місяць», – мовиться у повідомленні.

 

Кабінет міністрів України з 1 вересня підвищив посадові оклади за всіма тарифними розрядами у зв’язку з підвищенням мінімальної заробітної плати в країні до 5 тисяч гривень, або на 227 гривень.

Щоб зберегти розрив між першим тарифним розрядом і мінімальною заробітною платою в 44,5%, Кабмін збільшив ставку за цим розрядом на 123 грн – до 2 225 гривень.

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