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Thailand begins coronavirus vaccine trials on monkeys

Tori Holland

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Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on sports events around the world

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand on Saturday began testing a vaccine against the coronavirus on monkeys after positive trials in mice, an official said.

    Thailand’s minister of higher education, science, and research and innovation, Suvit Maesincee, said researchers had moved testing of the vaccine to monkeys and hoped to have a “clearer outcome” of its effectiveness by September.

    “This project is for the human race, not just Thais. The prime minister (Prayuth Chan-ocha) has outlined a policy that we must develop a vaccine and join the world community workforce on this,” Suvit told reporters on Saturday.

Thailand announced on Wednesday that it was developing a vaccine – one of at least 100 potential vaccines in the works worldwide – and hoped to have it into production by next year here

Suvit said that Thailand has started reserving two manufacturers for its vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Since the new virus emerged in China late last year, COVID-19 has spread around the world, infecting more than 5 million people and killing more than 300,000.

    The Thai vaccine uses messenger RNA, which prompts body cells to produce antigens, molecules on the surface of viruses, that spur the immune system into action.

    The Thai vaccine is being developed by the National Vaccine Institute, the Department of Medical Science and Chulalongkorn University’s vaccine research center.

Reporting and writing by Juarawee Kittisilpa. Editing by Kay Johnson and Ros Russell

After being a professional journalist for 5 years and understanding the ups and downs of health care sector all over the world, Tori shifted her focus to the digital world. Today, she works as a contributor for News Brig with a knack for covering general and health news in the best possible format.

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Health/Science/Environment

Thailand reports one new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

Tori Holland

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Thailand reports one new coronavirus cases, no new deaths

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask and dressed in traditional costume visits Wat Chaiwatthanaram after the Thai government eased isolation measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the city of Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand, June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand on Friday reported one new coronavirus infection and no new deaths, taking its total confirmed cases to 3,102, of which 58 have been fatalities.

The new case was a Thai man who had returned from Kuwait and was in quarantine, where most of Thailand’s recent cases have been detected, said Taweesin Wisanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s COVID-19 Administration Centre.

There are 2,971 patients who have recovered.

Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat; Editing by Martin Petty

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Hitachi, Toshiba, Miraca to set up factory for coronavirus antigen tests

Tori Holland

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Hitachi, Toshiba, Miraca to set up factory for coronavirus antigen tests

FILE PHOTO: Hitachi logos are seen on Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power) Oma Nuclear Power Station under construction in Oma town, Aomori prefecture, Japan December 4, 2015. REUTERS/Kentaro Hamada

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese industrial conglomerates Hitachi Ltd and Toshiba Corp will join with Miraca Holdings to increase production of antigen-based coronavirus tests, aiding in the country’s effort to screen more people for the new virus.

The alliance will double production of Miraca subsidiary Fujirebio’s testing kits, which received government approval in May, to 400,000 a week, the three companies said in a joint statement on Friday.

A new plant to make the kits will be established in Hokkaido prefecture, Japan’s northern island, and will start operations by December.

Larger output of antigen tests, designed for rapid detection of the virus, will help Japan do more surveillance of the virus. Japan is far behind many industrialised nations in testing for the virus, which critics say obscures the true scale of infection.

“We believe we can contribute in providing a system that enables prompt testing should second and third waves come,” a Miraca spokeswoman said.

Antigen tests scan for proteins found on or inside a virus, and typically test a sample taken from the nasal cavity using swabs. The tests can detect the virus quickly but produce false negatives at a higher rate than the currently dominant polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

It takes about 10 to 30 minutes to get a result with Fujirebio’s palm-sized antigen test kit, Miraca said, compared with four to six hours for a PCR test. Miraca does not disclose the false negative rate for the kits.

In a rare partnership, Hitachi will provide engineering know-how, while Toshiba will offer facilities. Fujirebio currently produces test kits at a plant in southern Japan.

The coronavirus has infected more than 6.6 million people and killed about 391,000 around the world. Japan has had about 17,000 infections and 910 known deaths to date.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Stephen Coates

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Coronavirus deaths surge in Brazil, Mexico as regional leaders look to reopen

Tori Holland

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Coronavirus deaths surge in Brazil, Mexico as regional leaders look to reopen

RIO DE JANEIRO/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The number of coronavirus deaths in Brazil blew past Italy’s toll on Thursday, while Mexico reported a record number of new cases, as regional leaders in Latin America push to end quarantine measures and kick their economies back into gear.

FILE PHOTO: People stand in front of a shop amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Latin America as a whole has become a new focus of the coronavirus pandemic, with health officials urging governments there not to open their economies too fast and to avoid public crowds.

Brazil posted a record number of daily deaths for third consecutive day on Thursday, with 1,437 deaths over the last 24 hours and 30,925 additional coronavirus cases, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

Total deaths in South America’s largest nation now stand at 34,021, trailing only the United States and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Mexico reported 816 deaths on Thursday, the second consecutive daily record there, while total deaths surpassed 12,000.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the pandemic, criticizing social distancing measures and urging regional government to lift restrictions for the sake of the economy.

On Tuesday, Bolsonaro told Brazilians that death is “everyone’s destiny.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has also urged his countrymen not to over-react, warning of “psychosis” on Thursday, and noting that deaths per capita for its nearly 130 million people was still far lower than in many other countries.

Mexico’s deaths from the virus ranks it seventh among countries worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

With much of Latin America’s population living day to day from earnings in the informal sector, many regional leaders are keen to reopen local economies, amid signs of growing hunger and strains on public finances.

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil’s second largest city, home to nearly 7 million people – allowed more than 10,000 street vendors to go back to work on Thursday

“The other day, some kid told me: I prefer to die of coronavirus than see my family die of hunger,” Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella told journalists.

Later in the day, during a Facebook Live session, Bolsonaro encouraged the federal solicitor general to sue states to force them into reopening their beaches.

In Brazil, health officials say there are indications new hospitalizations are stabilizing, but new deaths and confirmed cases are still growing rapidly. Many epidemiologists warn the reopenings could be premature.

Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Gram Slattery; Editing by Aurora Ellis, Daniel Flynn and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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