Sanofi expands US vaccine venture in COVID-19 race

PARIS, France (AFP) — French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said Tuesday that it would invest $425 million to expand its vaccine development venture with US start-up Translate Bio as they aim to find a COVID-19 vaccine by next year. The companies have been working together since 2018, hoping to leverage Translate Bio’s work on new messenger RNA (mRNA) drugs that cause cells to create a specific protein for treating a range of diseases. Their work has […]

A quarter-billion children getting no education: UN

by Mari√ętte Le Roux PARIS, France (AFP) — Nearly 260 million children had no access to schooling in 2018, a United Nations agency said in a report Tuesday that blamed poverty and discrimination for educational inequalities that are being exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak. Children from poorer communities as well as girls, the disabled, immigrants and ethnic minorities were at a distinct educational disadvantage in many countries, the UN’s Paris-based education body UNESCO said. In […]

Earthquake tremors, volcanic activity rock Iceland

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AFP) — More than 3,000 tremors have shaken seismographs on the northern coast of Iceland over the past three days, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) said Monday, as officials also warned of an impending volcanic eruption in the south. Grimsvotn, the most active volcano on the island, appears to be heading for its first eruption since 2011, authorities have warned since mid-June, as high levels of sulphur dioxide indicated the presence of so-called […]

WHO urges rapid dexamethasone production for coronavirus patients

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization called Monday for a rapid increase in production of the steroid dexamethasone, after British clinical trials found it has life-saving potential for critically-ill coronavirus patients. “The next challenge is to increase production and rapidly and equitably distribute dexamethasone worldwide, focusing on where it is needed most,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference in Geneva. ¬© Agence France-Presse

French pupils return for ‘obligatory’ school after virus closure

PARIS, France (AFP) — French schools opened their doors to greet pupils on Monday for what the government says is two weeks of obligatory lessons before the summer break, although many parents may yet defy the decision and keep their children at home. Schools began reopening when the government eased its lockdown rules six weeks ago, but parents were allowed to keep their children at home and a strict health protocol meant that classes could […]

Disneyland Paris says gradual reopening to start July 15

PARIS, France (AFP) — Disneyland Paris said Monday that it would begin a “phased reopening” of the theme park on July 15, with visitor numbers limited via a new online reservation system to ensure social distancing. Visitors aged 11 and older will have to wear face masks, and many shows and events will remain suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, the resort said. A first hotel at the site, which usually has some 15 million […]

Three killed in Britain stabbing rampage

by Adrian DENNIS READING, United Kingdom (AFP) — Three people were killed and three seriously injured when an assailant went on a stabbing rampage in a park filled with people relaxing in the southern English city of Reading on Saturday, police said. The Thames Valley Police said they had launched a murder investigation and were not treating the incident as terror-related after making one arrest at the scene. Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “appalling […]

Spain reopens border with France

LA JONGQUERA, Spain (AFP) — Traffic flowed again across Spain’s border with France on Sunday as the last of the strict Spanish coronavirus restrictions introduced in March were eased. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced earlier this month that Madrid would remove border checks with most other EU states from June 21, when its state of emergency also ended. Spain has been one of the worst affected countries, suffering more than 28,000 deaths, with its economy […]

Virus already in Italy by December, sewers show

  by Ella IDE Agence France Presse ROME, Italy (AFP) — The coronavirus was present in two large Italian cities in December, more than two months before the first case was detected, a national health institute study of waste water has found. That suggests the virus appeared in Italy around the same time it was first reported in China. Researchers discovered genetic traces of Sars-CoV-2 — as the virus is officially known — in samples […]

WHO halts hydroxychloroquine trials on COVID-19 patients

by Robin MILLARD GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization decided Wednesday to halt trials of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, finding it did not reduce the mortality rate. A decades-old malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug, hydroxychloroquine has been at the centre of political and scientific controversy. It has been touted as a possible treatment for the new coronavirus by high profile figures, including US President Donald Trump. The drug […]

Germany’s CureVac starts human trials for COVID-19 vaccine

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany (AFP) — German biotech firm CureVac has won permission to start human trials of a promising coronavirus vaccine, regulators announced Wednesday, as the global race to stop the pandemic gathers pace. The Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), the German body responsible for assessing clinical trials and approving vaccines, called the approval “an important milestone”. In a statement, it said it had given CureVac the green light based on “a careful assessment of […]

EU warns N.Korea against further ‘provocative’ acts

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AFP) — The EU on Tuesday warned North Korea against taking further “provocative and damaging steps” after Pyongyang blew up a liaison office near its border with South Korea. The demolition came after days of increasingly virulent rhetoric from the North condemning the South over activists sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets over the border. “The European Union strongly regrets the recent actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” an EU spokesperson said in a […]