Motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs, addresses nearly 5,000 people at a sold-out event held at the Star Theatre in Buona Vista, Singapore.
Motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs, addresses nearly 5,000 people at a sold-out event held at the Star Theatre in Buona Vista, Singapore.
Authorities have received some reports of adverse events arising from the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, said a Singapore health official.
Camped out in bare offices, President Joe Biden's new White House team has spent its first three days scrambling for things like binder clips and IT support -- oh, and trying to save the country from multiple crises.
Canada said its officials have met online with former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who has been held in China for more than two years in a case related to an executive of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. Canada’s Foreign Ministry said officials led by Ambassador Dominic Barton were given “on-site virtual consular access” to Kovrig on Thursday. Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor have been confined since Dec. 10, 2018, just days after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, who is also the daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant.
The new head of Hong Kong’s Bar Association has called the arrest of 55 opposition figures an attempt to intimidate the city’s democratic movement, and warned against attacks on his colleagues in pro-Beijing media.Just hours after Paul Harris became the group’s new chairman, an editorial in Ta Kung Po on Friday accused the veteran human rights barrister of having a political mission to fulfil, after he called for the national security law to be amended.In a wide-ranging interview with the Post, Harris expressed concern over the sweeping Beijing-imposed law, and said he was keen to rebuild a dialogue with the mainland, as he set out his vision for the association’s future.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Police arrested 55 opposition figures this month for taking part in an unofficial primary race to determine who would run in the Legislative Council elections, and alleged the polls amounted to subversion because one of the founders, former university law scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting had suggested the ultimate aim was to force the government to resign.But Harris disagreed, and said it was “fairly obvious” the arrests were an abuse of the law, adding common sense would suggest those who took part in the polls did not necessarily endorse Tai’s views. Some, he noted, had even spoken out against the plan.“So to arrest them all was, to my mind, deliberate intimidation of the democratic movement,” he said, adding the city should have a better system to handle complaints following the anti-government protests in 2019.But Harris also described himself as a “rule of law man”, and “very much against violent demonstrations”.Immediately after being elected unopposed on Thursday, Harris said he intended to lobby the Hong Kong government to change some of the provisions in the security law. Outgoing Bar Association chairman calls for renewing of contacts with BeijingWhile he did not dispute that every place should have a national security law, Harris said he found some of the provisions incompatible with the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.“I found the national security law profoundly offensive because it said certain people’s actions can’t be challenged in the court of law,” said Harris, referring to the exemption for mainland law enforcement agents from the local court’s scrutiny when they are exercising their duty.“I believe that the essence of the rule of law is that whoever you are, the law is above you,” he said.The law also stripped people in Hong Kong of their rights to a jury trial in serious cases, and allowed them to be sent to the mainland for court proceedings.Harris said he had not had a chance to speak to other Bar Council members, but he would try his best to bring them on board. While the decision ultimately lies with Beijing, he believed the Hong Kong government and pro-Beijing figures could help start a dialogue.The new chairman was part of the Bar’s delegation that visited Beijing in 2008, but its relationship with the mainland has deteriorated rapidly over the past three years.He noted any resumption of ties would be in Beijing’s hands, and noted that his predecessor, Philip Dykes, “tried really hard. He was met with a great wall”.Harris also spoke against attacks on judges, calling those assaults “cowardly and disgusting”, and said those found in some pro-Beijing newspapers – including one which suggested a judge had ruled against the police because he was friendly with the barrister of the other party – were “preposterous”.As attacks from the pro-Beijing side have also begun to mount on lawyers, including the Bar Association, he feared that could be one reason they had turned to him to take up the chairman post.Harris was worried the pressure had deterred some people, who were Hong Kong Chinese, to throw their hats in the ring. Bar Association questions Beijing’s legal power to enact national security lawHailing from the same discipline as Dykes, Harris has defended some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers and activists in the city’s courts.When the Oxford-educated barrister was chairing the human rights committee for the English Bar in the 1990s, Dykes reached out to set up a watchdog in Hong Kong.Since then, he had moved his practice to Hong Kong while working on setting up the advocacy body on the side.In 1995, Harris founded the Human Rights Monitor, a major advocacy organisation.More from South China Morning Post: * Hong Kong national security law: 53 former opposition lawmakers, activists arrested; authorities accuse them of plot to ‘overthrow’ government * Hong Kong national security law: four big questions raised by mass arrests of 53 opposition figures * Mass arrests point to Hong Kong’s quickening transition to a second-tier Chinese cityThis article Arrest of Hong Kong opposition figures a ‘fairly obvious’ abuse of law, says new head of city’s Bar Association first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
The tiny clinking vials supervised by silent PPE-wearing technicians belie the excitement inside the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, a major player in the fight against coronavirus.
These four companies (including two banks) are starting 2021 well. The post 4 Growth Stocks In Singapore [24 Jan 2021] AEM Holdings (SGX: AWX); Yangzijiang Shipbuilding (SGX: BS6); DBS Group Holdings (SGX: D05); OCBC (SGX: O39) appeared first on DollarsAndSense.sg.
The US government’s top infectious disease expert said on Friday that former president Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic “very likely” cost lives.“I don’t want that job to be a sound bite but … you could see that when you’re starting to go down paths that are not based on any science at all, and we’ve been there before, I don’t want to rehash it, that is not helpful at all,” Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an interview.Fauci, made a senior adviser to President Joe Biden on Covid-19, blamed a lack of coordination between federal and state authorities for allowing infections to spread throughout the country. The US has already registered more than 400,000 coronavirus-related deaths and is on track to exceed half a million by the end of February.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, whom the Senate confirmed on Friday, made pandemic assistance his first priority to address the mounting loss of life.“What we saw a lot of was saying, ‘OK, states, do what you want to do,’ and states were doing things that clearly were not the right direction,” Fauci said.Many US states, he added, “want to have the capability of making their own decisions, but they also need resources, and they need help”.Fauci spoke as US health authorities confront thousands of Covid-19 deaths a day and face the possibility that the numbers will escalate as new, possibly more contagious, variants of the coronavirus that causes the disease emerge in the country.Throughout the pandemic, Trump, who left office on Wednesday, played down its severity and often insisted that the contagion was dying out. He refused to promote mask-wearing, which Biden addressed in his first full day in office with an executive order requiring the wearing of masks in all federal buildings and on public transport. Dr Fauci’s 2021 Covid-19 forecast for AmericaTrump also promoted unproven scientific remedies, including the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.In a bid to speed up vaccination in the US, Biden plans to mobilise the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard to set up as many as 100 sites around the country within the next month to deliver the shots, The Washington Post reported, citing a draft document by the administration.US vaccinations started nearly six weeks ago, but fewer than six doses have been administered for every 100 people as of Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“We must help the federal government move further and faster to eradicate the devastating effects of the coronavirus,” Austin said in his “Day One Message to the Force”.“To that end, we will also do everything we can to vaccinate and care for our workforce and to look for meaningful ways to alleviate the pressure this pandemic has exerted on you and your families.”In another break from Trump, Fauci also said this week that the US would not withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN’s health agency, as the Trump administration had intended.Trump and many of his allies in Congress had accused the WHO of bungling its early response to the outbreak because it was too deferential to China.More from South China Morning Post: * Joe Biden orders masks, travel quarantine in new US war on Covid-19 * Dr Anthony Fauci ‘sure’ coronavirus vaccinations will be mandatory in hospitals and schools * Trump: Americans will develop ‘herd mentality’, coronavirus vaccine weeks away * Joe Biden plans immediate executive actions as Donald Trump era endsThis article Top US medical adviser Fauci says Trump’s coronavirus approach ‘very likely’ cost lives first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Scientists have warned that more research is needed to determine whether the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is likely to be effective in coping with the coronavirus variant detected in Britain after studies offered conflicting results.The spread of the variant – identified as B117 – across the globe has raised concerns that current vaccines, which are based on the original strain identified in Wuhan, may not work on mutations.Besides the B117 variant, another strain known as 501Y.V2 has also been isolated by researchers in South Africa.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.The emergence of these new strains has spurred scientists into looking at their behaviour and assessing whether they would compromise existing vaccines.One study conducted by Cambridge and other British universities examined 28 elderly people who have been given the vaccine.The coronavirus codes its genes with single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA), a relatively unstable molecule prone to mutations. Many RNA viruses, such as influenza and HIV, change their genes at a faster rate than vaccine development.Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, appears to be relatively stable, but there is concern about how long that will last. Chile approves China’s CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine“The virus has continued to evolve to optimise its infectivity/transmissibility and to evade drug and immune control,” said Professor Ravindra Gupta, the lead author of the study from the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases.Gupta and colleagues collected blood samples to see how their antibodies interact with a pseudovirus of the B117.While 28 patients took part, nearly a third of them were not counted in the study, posted on medrxiv.org last Wednesday, because the amount of antibodies generated after vaccination was too low.These antibodies were produced by the immune system about three weeks after the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and they were supposed to neutralise the virus by binding to the spike proteins on the viral envelope.Gupta and his team found a four-fold drop in the potency of the vaccine when challenged by the B117 mutant virus. In the worst case involving a patient in his 70s, neutralisation of the virus required six times as many antibodies compared with the original version.The pseudovirus carried eight typical changes of genes that had been found on the B117 variant, and some of these mutations might have prevented the antibodies binding to the viral spikes, according to the researchers.Meanwhile, BioNTech and Pfizer used a similar pseudovirus to test the antibodies from volunteers in their vaccine trials. About two third of the samples showed decreased neutralisation to the mutant, but the others showed higher efficacy. 15 million people given Covid-19 vaccines in China as Spring Festival nearsIn a paper published in bioRxiv.org at about the same time as the Cambridge study, the drug companies said that in general, these changes could be ignored.It is “likely that Covid-19 caused by the UK virus variant will also be prevented by immunisation” with their vaccine, the companies said in a press release published on Wednesday.Neither study has been peer-reviewed.A researcher studying coronavirus antibodies at Fudan University in Shanghai said that the conflicting results from these two studies were not at all surprising, because both were based on a small number of samples.The Pfizer-BioNTech experiment involved 16 volunteers, a number “way too small to provide any statistically meaningful results,” said the Fudan researcher who requested not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.Professor Benjamin Neuman, a virologist with Texas A&M; University, said the results might not fully capture what happened inside the human body.Besides antibodies, the human immune system also has other weapons such as living cells that could help stop a new infection.The cells that produce antibodies, for instance, could “undergo a constant editing process that can turn an almost effective antibody into an effective antibody,” Neuman said.The conflicting results could be a “best case-worst case scenario”, according to Neuman.“Both of the studies tested a relatively small number of samples, so I would caution against over-interpreting the data … but the vaccines that we are using should still be effective against the new strains,” he added.In the UK and many other countries, the B117 variant is causing outbreaks more severe than the first wave last year.The mutation could be 50 per cent more infectious than earlier strains, and some researchers believe it might have occurred among patients with immune diseases such as Aids, or emerged under the pressure of massive use of antiviral drugs such as Remdesivir or antibody therapeutics.The discovery of 501Y.V2 in South Africa added more concern to the research community’s worries because the strain seemed to have first appeared in communities where herd immunity was thought to have established during the first wave of infection.One calculation by Alastair Grant, a professor of ecology with the University of East Anglia in Norwich, suggested the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has a 95 per cent efficacy rate, would require more than 80 per cent of the population to receive two doses to achieve herd immunity. In comparison, dealing with the older variants of the virus would only require 65 per cent vaccination coverage.Vaccines with lower protection rates, including those developed in Britain and China, might not generate herd immunity at all, according to Grant.BioNTech and Pfizer are confident they can beat the mutation even if it eventually makes their current product useless. Their vaccine uses messenger RNA to induce an immune response, and it can be quickly redesigned to generate new antibodies targeting the mutation. Is China ready for the mRNA coronavirus vaccine revolution?The drug companies believe this new mRNA technology can shorten the development process of a new vaccine from years to a few weeks.But other mutations have also been spotted. In California, for instance, researchers with the Cedars Sinai Medical Centre found that a new variant known as CA20C rather than the UK strain was behind the sudden increase in cases that has pushed the state’s health care system to the brink of collapse in recent months.So far researchers still know very little about the nature of this new variant.The increasing mutations also threaten the reliability of testing, which some countries, including China, have used heavily to suppress outbreaks.More from South China Morning Post: * EU approves Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine * Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine effective against mutation in new coronavirus strains, study finds * UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in world first, says no ‘corners cut’ * Coronavirus: vaccine hopes rise on promising Pfizer-BioNTech trial resultsThis article Coronavirus mutations pose challenge to vaccine makers first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Foreign forces ignored a deadline to pull out of Libya as scheduled Saturday under a UN-backed ceasefire deal, highlighting the fragility of peace efforts after a decade of conflict.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed 48 new cases of COVID-19 infection – all imported – in Singapore as of noon on Sunday (24 January).
A construction firm, its director and an engineer have been found guilty of charges relating to the fatal collapse of an expressway viaduct in 2017.
A decision to turn a chilly underground parking garage into an overnight billet for National Guard troops in Washington to protect President Joe Biden's inauguration has stirred an uproar.
China’s banking and insurance regulator said on Friday that the investigation into fintech giant Ant Group would not undermine the company’s business development and was not a move against private firms, a reference to increased scrutiny of both Ant and its affiliate Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of the South China Morning Post.Liang Tao, vice-president of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), said at a press conference that investigations by financial regulators into internet platform companies were not aimed at any specific company.“These measures will not impact the development of their normal businesses,” Liang said, adding that banks and insurance agencies are encouraged to continue their cooperation with internet platforms, including those ordered to correct their business practices. Liang also credited internet platforms with helping to advance fintech technologies and improve the efficiency and inclusiveness of financial services in China.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. Ant Group’s insurance chief quits amid fintech industry shake-outThe regulator’s assurances came two days after Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, made his first public appearance in nearly three months. The entrepreneur, one of the wealthiest people in China, had not been seen since he gave a controversial speech at a Shanghai financial forum on October 24 that compared China’s traditional banks to pawn shops.Liang’s words of reassurance are another attempt from regulators to alleviate widespread market concerns over the fate of Alibaba’s business empire, ranging from e-commerce to financial services, in the world’s second-largest economy. The company’s share price took a tumble in December after an investigation was launched by the State Administration for Market Regulation. The stock surged 8.5 per cent in Hong Kong after Jack Ma reappeared this week.Last month, People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, ran an editorial that downplayed the political significance of the antitrust investigation. “The strengthening of anti-monopoly supervision will not bring about a ‘winter’ in the industry, but rather a new starting point for better and healthier development,” the article said.More from South China Morning Post: * Ant Group kicks off the overhaul of its fintech operations under the watchful eyes of China’s central bank and financial regulators * Ant Group fintech rival JD Digits restructures amid Beijing’s Big Tech crackdown * Alibaba antitrust probe presents new challenges for China’s regulators 12 years after implementation of anti-monopoly law * China fintech: banking and insurance watchdog CBIRC lays out ways it may punish risky consumer finance companiesThis article China’s top banking regulator says probe into Ant Group will not undermine its development and isn’t targeting private firms first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
When Mike Lindell, better known to TV viewers as the MyPillow Guy, went to the White House last week to try to persuade President Donald Trump to keep pushing bogus theories about the election, he came away disappointed. Unexpectedly, Trump passed him — and his claims about sabotaged voting machines — off on staffers. The president has told him before that he would back his bid for governor of Minnesota, Lindell told The Associated Press.
Pfizer on Friday committed to supply up to 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year to a World Health Organization-backed effort to get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries. The deal is a boost to the global program known as COVAX, as wealthy nations have snapped up most of the millions of coming shots. The commitment, announced at a virtual press conference held by the Geneva-based WHO, is seen as important because Pfizer and its partner BioNTech last month won the first vaccine emergency authorizations from WHO and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In the Upper Bracket, Burmese Ghouls pulled off a huge upset over Bren Esports while RRQ Hoshi defeated Omega Esports in a thriller of a series.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had a stark warning at the agency’s annual board meeting in Geneva this week: the promise of fair access to Covid-19 vaccines was at serious risk.In peril, he said, was the WHO-backed Covax facility – a plan nine months in the making to ensure that those at most risk have access to coronavirus vaccines at the same time, no matter where they live.The programme was being undermined by side deals between wealthier countries and vaccines makers, he said.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.Four days later, Tedros celebrated news that he said would bring Covax “one step closer” to its goal: a pledge from the United States to reverse course and join the programme.The support of the US – historically the biggest donor to global health, but absent from Covax after former president Donald Trump broke with the World Health Organization – is a major vote of confidence in the facility, according to analysts.The move, part of a raft of decisions by US President Joe Biden in his first days in office, comes as vaccine roll-outs are starting worldwide – though Covax has yet to begin delivering its promised doses.“In recent weeks I have heard from several member states who have questioned whether Covax will get the vaccines it needs, and whether high-income countries will keep the promises they have made,” Tedros said on Monday. Covax expects to deliver its first doses next month. Coronavirus: is China ready for the mRNA vaccine revolution?Health analysts said the US decision to add its name to the list of 190 economies in the plan would not ensure Covax would overcome the daunting problems of distributing 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses fairly to participating countries this year.But it does give “an injection of credibility and energy into Covax at a time when it desperately needs it”, according to Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health programme at the Council on Foreign Relations in the US.Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, said the US move would be seen as a vote of confidence in the plan, as some countries without access were anxiously watching vaccinations begin elsewhere and waiting for their first doses via Covax.“By coming aboard without any hesitation from the first day of their new administration, the US sent a clear and positive message that Covax was the right way to help solve all these challenges,” Flahault said. 15 million people given Covid-19 vaccines in China as Spring Festival nearsThe US, with the most coronavirus deaths and cases in the world, is among the countries that have started vaccinations. The government has locked in hundreds of millions of doses for Americans through heavy early investment in vaccine development and advance purchase agreements.Such agreements were one of the factors jeopardising Covax, Tedros said in his address on Monday. The deals between countries and vaccine makers were driving up prices, with the companies prioritising approvals in richer countries, he said.But the US move to join Covax – and approval for US$4 billion Covid-19 funding for Covax administrator Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance last month – makes it a benefactor. Britain, Canada, Germany, Saudi Arabi, and Japan are among other strong backers of the programme, which intends to finance vaccines for the poorest 92 countries through donations, while the rest will buy doses through the facility.“In the biggest global health crisis arguably in the last century, the US really has been absent from global efforts to control the pandemic and distribute the interventions that could make the biggest difference for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” Bollyky said. “This is a signal that the US will rejoin that fight.”The US role in Covax is not clear but the Biden administration also said on Thursday that the US, once it had a sufficient supply domestically, would create a framework to donate its surplus doses overseas including through Covax.Announcing the US commitment earlier that day, Biden’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci also said that the US would not withdraw from WHO, the UN’s health agency, as the Trump administration had intended.Trump had accused the WHO of bungling its early response to the outbreak because it was overly deferential to China.Biden has acknowledged that the WHO needs change but that this would be better achieved by the US remaining a member.US Vice-President Kamala Harris also spoke to Tedros that day about Washington’s plans within the organisation.The administration’s decision to join Covax comes as vaccine makers from China and Russia have been quick to supply doses of their own vaccines to developing countries, while their governments include vaccines on diplomatic agendas.Russia has not joined Covax. China signed on in October, though there has been no announcement of any financial support beyond the payment to secure the roughly 15 million doses it is expected to receive through the facility.Adam Kamradt-Scott, an associate professor specialising in global health security at the University of Sydney in Australia, said the US would reap a diplomatic benefit from its role in Covax as Biden seeks to restore American leadership.“It’s a very clear sign that the Biden administration is committed to working with international partners and stakeholders to defeat the coronavirus,” he said, adding that this would also signal US commitment to countries in need of vaccine aid.But Naor Bar-Zeev, deputy director at the International Vaccine Access Centre at Johns Hopkins University in the US, said the administration would also need to stay focused at home as it grapples with distributing vaccines amid its health crisis.“The US needs to get its house in order and support its population,” Bar-Zeev said. Still, when it came to supporting vaccine access overseas, “the US is strong enough to do both”.More from South China Morning Post: * Coronavirus: WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tells rich countries to stop cutting the coronavirus vaccines queue * India starts exporting coronavirus vaccines, as its own inoculation drive fails to meet targets * Coronavirus in China: new film praises Wuhan ahead of lockdown anniversary * Coronavirus: Chinese travellers chafe at tough rural Lunar New Year restrictionsThis article US sign-up for Covax a ‘shot in the arm’ for WHO vaccine scheme first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.
Imams across Britain are helping a drive to dispel coronavirus disinformation, using Friday sermons and their influential standing within Muslim communities to argue that Covid-19 vaccines are safe.
Russia and the United States drew closer Friday to extending a nuclear pact ahead of the fast approaching expiry date of the last arms control accord between the former Cold War rivals.
Thousands of people in Brazil protested on Saturday against President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, on the anniversary of the Chinese city of Wuhan beginning its 76-day lockdown.