UK travel curbs undercut Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine drive

ETHIOPIA – The African Union’s health watchdog, Africa CDC, has warned that Britain’s pandemic travel restrictions could make people across the continent more reluctant to get vaccinated. Under the restrictions, Britain only recognises vaccines administered in a few countries. For most of the world, and all of Africa, Britain will not recognise locally-administered vaccines, even if the jabs came from Britain. “If you send us vaccines and you say, ‘we don’t recognise those vaccines’, it sends a very challenging message for us,” said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres…

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Antibody therapy for high-risk Covid-19 patients

USA – The World Health Organization (WHO) has added the Regeneron antibody drug cocktail (casirivimab and imdevimab) to its list of COVID-19 treatments, urging the manufacturer to lower its price and ensure equal access to the lifesaving treatment worldwide. WHO added that Regeneron, the patent holder should also share technology to allow for the manufacturing of biosimilar versions of the monoclonal antibody therapy. The guidelines published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), strongly recommend that patients at high risk of hospitalization or with severe disease should be given a combination…

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Medikabazaar secures US$75 million series C funding

INDIA – Healthtech startup Medikabazaar has announced a 75 million USD investment in a series C round led by PE fund CREAEGIS, the UK’s development finance institution CDC Group, and other existing investors. The round brought together existing investors, including Belgium-based Ackermans & van Haaren (AvH), HealthQuad Advisors, Japan-based Rebright Partners, Continental Europe-based Kois Holdings, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group. UK-based CDC Group is the largest investor in this round which infused Rs 131.3 crore followed by Creaegis Limited, CIF and HealthQuad Fund who invested Rs 106.8 crore, Rs 58.2…

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Ghana gets third public health emergency operations center

GHANA – The Ghana Health Service, in collaboration with the United States’ Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, has commissioned the third Public Health Emergency Operations Center in Ghana. The Center will strengthen the public sector to effectively respond to health emergencies. Speaking at the commissioning of the facility, the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service revealed the facility will serve as a footprint for technical coordination of the health emergencies and response structure. Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said the health center will also serve as a source of event-specific data…

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South Africa gets major investment to treat Covid-19, TB, cancer, HIV

SOUTH AFRICA – United States-based multinational conglomerate NantWorks has entered into an agreement with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) for the transfer of manufacturing technology for Covid-19 and cancer vaccines and next-generation cell-based immunotherapies. This is a major boost to the country’s healthcare system in its efforts to treat infectious diseases such as cancer, HIV, tuberculosis and, more recently, Covid-19. As of 2019, South Africa had 7.5 million people living with HIV, 200,000 new HIV infections and 72,000 AIDS-related…

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World Bank approves financing to improve women and girl’s access to health in Niger

NIGERIA – The Nigerien government will be able to provide its population with better health coverage with financing approved by the World Bank. This will be enabled by a 15-year multiphase program to innovative and comprehensive nutrition and health interventions to improve health system efficiency, equity, and sustainability, as well as boost girls’ and women’s empowerment. Niger’s health system faces immense challenges. Despite progress in recent years, the country has a high under-five mortality rate of 77 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020 and stunting continues to have devastating…

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Resistance to front-line malaria drugs confirmed in Africa

AFRICA – Scientists have confirmed that malaria parasites in Africa have developed resistance to a key family of drugs used to protect against them. “We’ve all been expecting and dreading this for quite some time,” says Leann Tilley, a biochemist at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who researches the molecular basis of antimalarial resistance. Signs of drug resistance have long been present in Africa: for instance, in Rwanda between 2012 and 2015, scientists detected the existence of gene mutations associated with resistance in malaria parasites. A new study, published…

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Novartis pushes further into gene therapy for the eye with deal for Swiss startup

SWITZERLAND – Novartis has bought a second biotech startup developing gene therapies for the eye, Arctos Medical, a small Swiss company spun out of the University of Bern. Arctos, which previously received financial backing from Novartis’ venture fund, specializes in optogenetics, a field of research which uses light to probe the behavior of neurons. Drawing on this science, Arctos is attempting to transform other types of retinal cells into photoreceptor-like cells by delivering a gene that encodes for a light-sensitive protein. Arctos, and now Novartis, envision this technology could be…

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India’s booming domestic pharma market expands 18%

INDIA – India’s domestic pharma market has registered a robust growth of nearly 18 percent. The country was hit by a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and moved swiftly to vaccinate a majority of its population. According to India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), the 18 percent year-on-year revenue growth in India’s pharmaceutical market (IPM) in August was driven by improved sales in the non-covid product portfolio, while sales traction in the covid products remained stable. The COVID-19 influence portfolio contributed 37 percent to IPM for July 2021 moving…

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India reports over 30 thousand new Covid cases as positivity rate reaches lowest point

INDIA – In a sigh of relief, the Union Health Ministry has reported that the active COVID-19 infections have declined by 1,478 in the last 24 hours, bringing the active caseload to 31,923, the lowest in just over six months. With this, the total number of infections registered in the country has hit 33,594,803. The total number of deaths has risen to 446,368, with 282 new fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said in a statement. The active cases account for 0.90 percent of total infections,…

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