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Pharma chiefs expect coronavirus vaccine in 12-18 months

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The pharmaceutical industry expects it will take 12 to 18 months to roll out a coronavirus vaccine, executives said Thursday, as they jointly pledged to make it available worldwide based on need.

Bureaucracy could be slashed to speed up the process — but the time needed for safety testing could not be compromised, industry chiefs and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations told a virtual press conference hosted in Geneva.

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“We’re confident technology will arrest this disease,” said IFPMA president David Ricks, the chairman of Eli Lilly and Company.

The global death toll has risen to over 9,000 with more than 217,000 confirmed infections, according to an AFP tally based on official sources.

“When you think about how many people we will want to vaccinate — once we have a vaccine — around the world, we’re talking billions, and that’s a huge challenge,” said David Loew, the executive vice president of Sanofi Pasteur.

“We need to ensure the safety. It’s going to take 12 to 18 months until you have a registered vaccine on the market.”

Rajeev Venkayya, president of the Global Vaccines Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, said that timeline was “very aggressive but we think it might be feasible”.

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Dozens of clinical trials for vaccines and treatments are under way around the world after the virus’s genome was shared by China, where COVID-19 first broke out in December.

But industry chiefs said they could not lower the testing standards to get a preventative vaccine on the market more quickly.

“You’re injecting this into healthy people, so you don’t want to have suddenly people getting sick because you are short-cutting,” said Loew.

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“It could also have deleterious effects on other vaccines, if people lose trust in vaccination,” he added.

“The regulatory authorities are cutting red tape, and that’s the way we can accelerate getting to the market quicker.”

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Venkayya added that some, if not most of the testing programmes being run, would fail to produce a viable vaccine.

However, the value of running multiple trials simultaneously was that “some will succeed and get across the finish line”, he said.

– Equal access –

Venkayya said the industry would “prioritise access and equity in the distribution” of any effective vaccine.

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Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at Johnson and Johnson, said the industry would make sure that any vaccine, wherever it is produced, “will be available” to everyone “who needs it” across the globe.

“That’s a promise for what we are doing jointly as an industry,” he stressed.

Stoffels said the problem in reaching solutions was that the virus had new characteristics compared to outbreaks such as SARS.

“This virus is extremely transmittable — and that’s what is so new. So it’s a new virus which needs new tools, and that’s where we have to start from scratch on the research.”

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Meanwhile Ricks said money was not the issue for pharmaceutical giants in finding solutions.

“This is not a capital resource problem right now, more of a human resource problem,” he said.

Ricks said nobody in the industry was talking about how to take the credit and make money out of vaccines and treatments, while public-private partnerships could help share any financial risks.

IFPMA director-general Thomas Cueni said the industry was putting on an unprecedented united front to conquer the virus.

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“We won’t rest until we find the solution,” he said.


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WATCH: John Oliver exposes Trump’s lies about vote-by-mail — and the Fox News ‘cult’ claiming the election is already ‘rigged’

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"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's main story Sunday refuted President Donald Trump's latest crusade against vote-by-mail. Trump announced on Twitter that the more people who vote in an election, the more Republicans tend to lose. So, he wants fewer people to have access to the ballot in November, even if people are too scared to go out during the coronavirus crisis.

Oliver called out Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R-MO), who outright told people not to vote if they were too afraid to vote in the local elections next week.

"Well, hold on there," Oliver interjected. "Voting is a right. It has to be easy to understand and accessible to anyone."

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John Oliver rips Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for urging ‘order’ from people of color — but never demanding it of police

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John Oliver opened his Sunday show, shredding Fox News host Tucker Carlson for uring "order" among protesters, but refusing to urge "order" to police and "wannabe police" who can't stop killing people.

It's a lot, Oliver explained. "How these protests are a response to a legacy of police misconduct, both in Minneapolis and the nation at large and how that misconduct is, itself, built on a legacy of white supremacy that prioritizes the comfort of white Americans over the safety of people of color."

While some of it is complicated, Oliver conceded, most of it is "all too clear."

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Cars set on fire blocks from White House as DC protests turn violent

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The Washington, D.C. protests turned violent as the city approached the 11 p.m. curfew the mayor instituted Sunday afternoon.

The policy of D.C. police is that when they are attacked, they advance forward. So, when fireworks were fired, the line of officers began pushing the protesters back further from the White House. Behind the line of police officers also stand a line of National Guard troops that President Donald Trump has demanded stand watch in the city.

Lights that normally shine on the White House have also been turned off, reporters revealed.

https://twitter.com/markknoller/status/1267291138655956992

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