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Fauci urges caution on China and Russia virus vaccines

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Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease official, raised concerns Friday regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines under development by China and Russia.

Several Chinese companies are at the forefront of the global vaccine race, while Russia has said it hopes to be the first in the world to produce a vaccine for the public, with a target date of September.

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But the medicines will likely face heightened scrutiny given that the regulatory systems in both countries are far more opaque than they are in the West.

Fauci, who was asked during a Congressional hearing whether the US could make use of Chinese or Russian vaccines if they arrived first, indicated that was unlikely.

“I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone,” he said.

He added: “Claims of having a vaccine ready to distribute before you do testing, I think, is problematic, at best.

“We are going very quickly. I do not believe that there will be vaccines, so far ahead of us, that we will have to depend on other countries to get us vaccines.”

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Last month, Chinese media announced a coronavirus vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics was being used to immunize the Chinese military — making it the first approved for people, albeit in a limited population.

Many scientists however raised ethical concerns because the vaccine has not yet begun its final stages of testing.

– ‘Sputnik moment’? –

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Two other Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm, have launched final phase three trials in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, respectively.

China, where the virus originated, has largely brought its outbreak under control and has therefore had to turn to other countries to test its vaccines.

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The trials in Brazil and the UAE will be watched particularly closely, given China’s history of vaccine and other health scandals.

In 2018, more than 200,000 children were administered a defective vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (DPT) that caused paralysis in a few cases.

Russia, which was once a global vaccine leader during Soviet times, aims to bring two to market by September and October, respectively.

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The first is being developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya institute and the defense ministry, and the second by the Vektor state laboratory near the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

Russia has released no scientific data proving the vaccines’ safety or efficacy.

Nevertheless, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund which is financing the Gamaleya trials, told CNN: “It’s a Sputnik moment.”

Sputnik was the world’s first satellite launched by Russia in 1957.

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Three Western coronavirus vaccines are in final phase three trials.

One is produced by US biotech firm Moderna and the National Institutes for Health; one by the University of Oxford and Britain’s AstraZeneca; and the last by Germany’s BioNTech with US pharmaceutical Pfizer.

China and Russia both stand accused of attempting to steal Western coronavirus research — charges they deny.


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2020 Election

‘Ball is now in the court of senate Republicans’: GOP urged to immediately pass Democrats’ $2.2 trillion COVID relief bill

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Progressive advocacy groups and labor leaders are urging Senate Republicans and the Trump White House to stop stonewalling and immediately approve a Covid-19 relief package unveiled late Monday by House Democrats that would renew the expired $600-per-week federal unemployment supplement, send another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans, and provide aid to faltering state and local governments.

The $2.2 trillion legislation, announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just weeks ahead of the November election, represents a compromise version of the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act that the Democrat-controlled House approved more than four months ago. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the House-passed version as an "unserious liberal wish list" and has refused to allow a vote on the measure despite still-deteriorating economic conditions and surging coronavirus cases nationwide.

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COVID-19

Trump’s failure on COVID-19 testing and tracking data has led to deaths of 1,700 healthcare workers, nurses union report shows

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The largest nurses' union in the U.S. revealed Monday that the federal government's failure to track and report data on Covid-19 deaths has led to the deaths of at least 1,700 healthcare workers while leaving medical facilities with little incentive "to avoid becoming zones of infection."

In its report, "Sins of Omission: How Government Failures to Track Covid-19 Data Have Led to More Than 1,700 Healthcare Worker Deaths and Jeopardize Public Health," National Nurses United lists the names of at least 213 registered nurses who have died of complications from Covid-19.

"Unfortunately, instead of tracking and reporting #Covid19 data, federal and state governments have ignored, hidden, and manipulated Covid-19 data." — Jean Ross, RN, NNU President #ProtectNurses

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COVID-19

US Democrats come down to $2.2 trillion in new Covid proposal

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US Democrats unveiled a $2.2 trillion relief bill Monday to help millions of Americans gutted by the coronavirus pandemic, trimming more than $1 trillion off their earlier version hoping to reach agreement with Republicans after months of stagnation.

In a deeply polarized Congress, the chances of reaching an agreement ahead of the November 3 election have sharply diminished in the past several weeks.

But the top Democrat in Washington, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, were poised for a fresh round of negotiations.

The pair spoke briefly by telephone Monday evening "after House Democrats introduced an updated version of the Heroes Act," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hamill said on Twitter. "The two agreed to speak again tomorrow morning."

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