PM Narendra Modi will interact with three teams involved in developing COVID-19
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with three teams involved in developing COVID-19 vaccines via video conferencing on Monday. The Prime Minister’s Office tweeted today that the three teams are from Gennova Biopharma, Biological E and Dr Reddy’s.
“Tomorrow, on 30th November, 2020, PM @narendramodi will interact, via video conferencing, with three teams that are involved in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The teams he will interact with are from Gennova Biopharma, Biological E and Dr Reddy’s,” it said.
Tomorrow, on 30th November 2020, PM @narendramodi will interact, via video conferencing, with three teams that are involved in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The teams he will interact with are from Gennova Biopharma, Biological E and Dr. Reddy’s.
PM Modi on Saturday visited Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Pune to review the development and manufacturing process of coronavirus vaccines at facilities in these cities.
PM Modi visited Serum Institute of India (SII) in Pune on Saturday in the last leg of his three-city visit to check how India’s firms are working on vaccines for coronavirus infection.
He has started his visit with Ahmedabad and then Hyderabad. He began by visiting pharma major Zydus Cadila’s manufacturing facility near Ahmedabad. Then he proceeded to Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad before reaching Pune.
“We discussed vaccine implementation plan with PM Modi during his visit,” SII CEO Adar Poonawalla told reporters in an online briefing on Covishield on Saturday.
“We are amazed with what he (PM Modi) already knew. He was impressed with the new facility that we have built. The new facility can deal with more than one billion doses,” the Serum Institute CEO said.
Earlier this week, Serum Institute of India said it will sell the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to the government for Rs 250 and to pharmacies for Rs 1,000 per dose.
A minimum of 100 million doses will be available by January and hundreds of million could be ready by the end of February, Mr Poonawalla had told NDTV.
He had said they are “hoping to get the vaccine out there as quick as possible.” “It’ll be in the hands of regulators in a couple of weeks,” Mr Poonawalla had said. His company has an agreement with the government to mass-manufacture doses of the Covid vaccine.
The government had given the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) until Wednesday (local time) to lay down their arms or face an assault on Mekelle, the regional capital of 500,000 people.
The United Nations says 200 aid workers are also in the city.
The envoys were due to meet Mr Abiy at 11am on Friday, said Redwan Hussein, spokesman of the government’s State of Emergency Task Force for the Tigray conflict.
The envoys were in Addis Ababa “with a view to helping to mediate between the parties to conflict” in Ethiopia, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the AU chair, said earlier this week.
Mr Abiy, who won last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for ending a two-decade standoff with Eritrea, has said he will not talk with TPLF leaders until they are defeated or give up.
Thousands of people are already believed to have died amid air strikes and ground fighting since the conflict began on 4 November. The United Nations estimates 1.1 million Ethiopians will need aid as a result of the conflict.
Reuters was unable to reach the TPLF for comment on Friday morning, but two diplomats said fighting raged in several areas outside Mekelle.
With phone and internet connections shut off to the region and access to the area tightly controlled, verifying claims by all sides has been impossible.
Tigray people who fled the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, overlook Umm Rakouba refugee camp in Qadarif, eastern Sudan, on 26 November, 2020.
AP via AAP
TPLF ‘digging trenches’
At time of writing, there was no indication that the Ethiopian military had entered the city of Mekelle. The TPLF has previously said it was digging trenches around the city. Reuters was unable to verify those claims.
Finance Minister Ahmed Shide said on Thursday that the government was trying to make people in the city aware of the military operation.
“We have made the people of Mekelle to be aware of the operation by deploying military helicopters and dropping pamphlets in Tigrinya and also in Amharic so that they protect themselves against this,” he told France24.
Ethiopian soldiers rest at the 5th Battalion of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Army in Dansha, Ethiopia, on 25, November, 2020.
AFP via Getty Images
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said such efforts were not akin to protecting civilians from harm.
“Warnings don’t absolve the Ethiopian military of the duty to protect civilians during military operations in urban areas,” Mr Roth tweeted on Thursday.
Urging the TPLF not to deploy its forces among civilian populations in the city of Mekelle, he added: “Violations by one side don’t justify violations by the other.”
Mr Abiy’s office said on Thursday that authorities were opening a humanitarian access route, but the United Nations said it had no information on the route and the region was blocked to aid groups.
Tigrayans, who make up about six per cent of Ethiopia’s 115 million-strong population, dominated the government until Mr Abiy took power two years ago.
Pledging to unite Ethiopians and introduce freedoms after years of state repression, Mr Abiy jailed senior Tigrayan officials, which the region saw as discrimination.
Mr Abiy accuses Tigrayan leaders of starting the conflict by attacking federal troops at a base in Tigray three weeks ago. The TPLF have described the attack as a pre-emptive strike.
Tigrayan forces have large stocks of military hardware and number up to 250,000 men, experts say, while the region has a history of guerrilla resistance.
Even before conflict broke out, as resentment in Tigray against the federal government grew, Tigrayans adopted a slogan from the TPLF: “nobody will kneel down”.
Mr Joyce also toured Melbourne Airport on Wednesday to scout out potential locations for Qantas’ operations. Qantas has said it is looking to move its Brisbane-based heavy aircraft maintenance facilities, which employ 750 workers, as well as its flight training simulators currently based in Sydney and Melbourne.
“We think that we have a very attractive offer to make and we’ll work through that to try and have as many jobs as we possibly can in our city and state,” Mr Andrews said at the time, adding his proposal would cover both office and engineering jobs.
It is not clear whether Victoria has made a formal proposal to Qantas nor what the scope of any such proposal is. A spokesman for Mr Andrews did not comment further before deadline on Thursday.
Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi said he was proud to be contributing to Victoria’s efforts to lure Qantas south, with his airport estate being more than six times the size of Melbourne’s CBD and already home to commercial offices, hotels and logistics providers.
“We think there’s a really strong proposition that would be incredibly hard to match anywhere else,” Mr Strambi said. “The most recent commitments to airport rail underscore just how highly Victoria values aviation.”
Qantas is also talking to Queensland, South Australia and NSW sate governments about possible incentives packages. The airline has flagged one option could be to consolidate its office, training and engineering facilities at the new Western Sydney Airport, due to open in 2026.
The airline had expected to conclude its property review by the end of this year, but is now likely to announce a decision by April 2021.
Qantas’ decision to review its office footprint was prompted by the need to cut costs in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which has devastated airlines globally and seen the Australian carrier announce around 8000 redundancies, or close to a third of its workforce.
State government incentives to lure employment to the state is not uncommon. Victoria gave retailer David Jones a taxpayer handout to move 820 head office jobs from Sydney to Melbourne in 2016, while a bidding war for Virgin Australia’s head office after it went into administration in April ended with Queensland making a $200 million investment to keep it based in Brisbane.
Pope Francis meets a delegation of five NBA players, including Jonathan Isaac and Sterling Brown and officials from the National Basketball Players Association at the Vatican November 23, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS
November 23, 2020
(Reuters) – Five NBA players met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday to discuss social justice issues following a season where combating racial inequality was a dominant theme.
The players who met the Pope were Anthony Tolliver, Kyle Korver, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac and Marco Belinelli as well as National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) executive director Michele Roberts.
“Today’s meeting was an incredible experience,” Tolliver, who plays power forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, was quoted as saying in an NBPA news release https://nbpa.com/news/nbpa-delegation-meets-with-pope-francis.
“With the Pope’s support and blessing, we are excited to head into this next season reinvigorated to keep pushing for change and bringing our communities together.”
Video of the meeting showed the players presenting the Pope with gifts including an Orlando Magic jersey.
Roberts said the meeting validated the power of the players’ voices.
“That one of the most influential leaders in the world sought to have a conversation with them demonstrates the influence of their platforms,” said Roberts.
“I remain inspired by our players’ continued commitment to serve and support our community.”
The league and its players ramped up their calls for system-wide reforms last season after the death in May of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis in an incident that was captured on video.
The COVID-19 interrupted season resumed inside a bio-secure bubble in Florida with players wearing social justice messages on their jerseys and “Black Lives Matter” printed on the basketball courts.
The new NBA regular season is scheduled to kick off on Dec. 22.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; editing by Ken Ferris)
An urgent call for blood has resulted in a surge in donations, beating records seen during the Bali bombings and bushfires.
A lack of consistent donors in Australia remains a concern
Blood supplies are secure, but if the COVID-19 outbreak persists there could be challenges in securing imports of some plasma-related products
People in remote areas struggle to reach sites where they can donate
National stocks of O+ and A+ blood dropped to just two days’ supply last week, prompting an urgent call from Red Cross Lifeblood for donors.
Lifeblood spokeswoman Jemma Falkenmire said last week’s donation appeal led to a response even greater than during other major crises.
But despite the positive response, Lifeblood is still concerned by a lack of consistent donors.
“For us, the real challenge is that we only have one to 2 per cent of the population regularly donating,” she said.
“There are around half a million people who only give once a year.
“Collectively, if those people gave twice a year it would probably mean that we wouldn’t need to go into appeal.”
Just how secure is Australia’s blood supply?
Even with a lack of regular donors and blood stocks sometimes dropping to just a few days’ supply, International Society of Blood Transfusion president Erica Wood does not see any need for panic.
“We’re very fortunate in Australia; we have a safe and secure blood supply and it’s been successfully maintained during the COVID pandemic through mobilising blood donors in the community,” Professor Wood said.
“Having said that, the blood supply is always vulnerable and some blood products have very short storage time. For example, platelets that help the blood clot can only be stored for a few days and so that’s why we need ongoing collections most days of the year.”
While Australia is self-sufficient for whole blood supplies, Professor Wood points out some plasma products — such as immunoglobulin — do need to be imported from overseas.
“In the past we were self-sufficient in immunoglobulins, which are made from donated plasma, but demand has been increasing over many years and over half of these immunoglobulins are imported,” she said.
“We and others are conducting research into how we could modify this clinical demand for immunoglobulin products, so we hope that all of these efforts will work together.”
Pandemic may cause global shortages of some plasma products
Citi head of healthcare and biotech research, John Deakin-Bell, said Australia was somewhat exposed to global supply issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Currently we’re seeing a shortage of plasma donations in the US and they supply a very large part of the end product in the US and Europe and parts of Asia,” Mr Deakin-Bell said.
But with growing hope of a potential COVID-19 vaccine during that period, Mr Deakin-Bell did not think it was too much of a concern.
“I have a global perspective and if I’m ever going to need whole blood I’m happy to be in Australia,” he said.
“So I think relative to most we’ve done a fantastic job compared to most other countries.”
The National Blood Authority — the Government body which oversees the national supply — also insists supplies remain safe and secure, and appeals for blood donations should not be cause for concern about inventory levels.
Remoteness prevents some from donating
One hurdle for some people wanting to donate blood is often simply their location.
When the national blood supply runs low and an urgent appeal goes out for donations, people who are in remote areas, such as Carla Viskovich, cannot do much to help.
She lives in Kalgoorlie, the WA mining town of about 30,000, which does not have a blood donation centre.
Red Cross Lifeblood has 91 donor centres, along with mobile collection vans that visit 800 sites each year, but Kalgoorlie residents have to travel six hours to visit the nearest one.
“I also understand that we are so far away. It’s 600 kilometres to Perth and it is difficult to transport the blood,” Ms Viskovich said.
“It’s just a matter of when we do come to Perth that we do hold out our arm and donate when we can, but it is very disheartening not being able to do it our town.”
The league will hold virtual question and answer sessions with list managers from the 18 clubs on Monday – held in three groups of six – in a bid to clarify details of the revised CBA, with the back-ending issue likely to be raised, according to sources. The new CBA only locks in 2021, although the league and union have committed to working together on a new agreement for 2022 to 2024. The AFL and AFLPA have also agreed to provisions whereby the player payment pool for 2021 could fall or rise depending on whether industry revenue exceeds or falls well short of expectations.
While not universal, club sources have indicated a degree of frustration with recent decisions from the AFL, in particular the manner in which the rule changes for 2021 were rolled out. Clubs felt they had not been consulted enough, if at all, beforehand, although league chief Gillon McLachlan on Friday defended the manner in which the AFL handled the situation.
The league announced three rule changes for the AFL in 2021 – two involving the man on the mark and a reduction in interchange rotations from 90 to 75 – all made in a bid to encourage attacking play.
A host of fringe players around the league remain in limbo ahead of Wednesday’s list lodgment deadline. Delisted free agents can be signed from Thursday, while the national draft will be held on the night of December 9, with the pre-season and rookie drafts to follow the next day.
“I’ll see what’s best for my family,” Crichton told The Sun-Herald. “I have a new manager and when I get home [from Blues camp] I’ll start chatting with them and see what happens.”
When pressed if he could guarantee he would remain at the foot of the mountains once his deal expired at the end of next season, Crichton said: “I’m not sure”.
“I spoke to Ivan, the handshake … I told him I’ll see what’s best for my family and things like that. I didn’t have a manager at the time. Now I’ve got one, so I’ve left it with them to look after.
“I was committed [to Penrith], but I’m seeing what’s best for my family as well.”
Penrith fans will be sweating on Crichton recommitting to the club after his breakout season in the centres outside Viliame Kikau. He was rewarded for his form by being selected in the NSW Origin squad and while he never played against Queensland, was grateful for the experience and chance to rub shoulders with some of the game’s biggest names.
Penrith also have a battle on their hands to retain Matt Burton, who has attracted serious interest from Canterbury, while Isaah Yeo and Jarome Luai are both off contract at the end of next year.
The Panthers believe their current offer for Crichton is perfect for a player entering just the second year of his NRL career. They are loathe to pay their local talent too much too soon for fear the financial reward will put them on an unwanted pedestal.
Crichton did not want the negotiations to drag on and simply said “hopefully really soon” when it came to reaching an outcome.
The Sydney Roosters have been linked to Crichton, and are in need of a centre once Josh Morris moves on at the end of next year.
Crichton said none of the Roosters had tried to sell him the Bondi dream while in Blues camp.
The Mt Druitt local knows rival teams will know how to handle him a lot better next year, and it will be up to him to overcome the second-year syndrome. Latrell Mitchell even referenced the challenges Crichton would face next year when speaking from personal experience on the Bloke In A Bar podcast recently.
Daine Laurie signed with the Wests Tigers this week, but is on a development contract with Penrith next season and will not be granted an early release.
Burton will also be kept at the foot of the mountains next year, even if he signs elsewhere for 2022.
Meanwhile, another Crichton, Angus, has been taken off the market by the Roosters, especially with uncertainty about the future of skipper Boyd Cordner.
Several clubs had expressed interest in Crichton, including the Wests Tigers, but rivals had since been told the gun forward would be going nowhere.
Crichton, one of NSW’s best players during the Origin series, told the Herald during Origin camp how he loved the Roosters and wanted to commit to a new long-term deal.
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.