S Korea foils North’s attempt to hack vaccine firms


The novel coronavirus has infected more than 61 million people and killed over 1.4 million lives. Here are the updates for November 27:

Colchicine to be investigated as possible Covid-19 treatment

Colchicine, a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug, will be investigated as a possible treatment for the new novel coronavirus in the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) trial, the study website posted.

The RECOVERY trial, which is the world’s largest clinical trial of treatments for patients hospitalised with the virus, will randomly allocate at least 2,500 patients recruited to receive colchicine.

Pakistan reports over 3,000 cases for 3rd straight day

Pakistan has reported over 3,000 new virus cases for the third straight day as the virus keeps spreading across the country, official data showed.

According to the Health Ministry, the country recorded 3,113 new cases during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of infections to 389,311.

Malaysia to receive 12.8 million doses of Pfizer vaccine 

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has said the country had signed a deal for 12.8 million doses of Pfizer’s virus vaccine, the Bernama state news agency reported.

The first delivery of one million doses is expected in the first quarter of 2021, Muhyiddin said, according to Bernama.

Indonesia reports record high infections and deaths

Indonesia has reported a new daily record high of 5,828 new virus infections and 169 deaths, data from its Covid-19 task force showed.

The latest figures brought total case numbers to 522,581 and virus-related deaths to 16,521, both the highest in Southeast Asia.

Thailand to see more visitors, ‘signal’ for reopening 

Thailand expects to receive 1,200 foreign visitors in both November and December, after a slight easing of travel curbs aimed at generating some income until a ban on mass tourism is lifted, its tourism authority chief said.

The country is gradually opening up to a limited numbers of visitors during the coronavirus pandemic to give some support to a tourism-dependent economy that the government expects to shrink by 6 percent this year.

The new arrivals, however, would be a fraction of the number in 2019, a record year.

South Korea foils North’s attempt to hack vaccine makers

South Korea’s intelligence agency has foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, lawmakers said.

Ha Tae-keung, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, said after being briefed by the National Intelligence Service that the agency did not specify how many and which drugmakers were targeted but said there was no damage from the hacking attempts.

The revelation came after Microsoft said early this month that hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments have tried to break into the networks of seven pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.

Russia reports daily record high of 27,543 new cases

Russia has reported a record high of 27,543 new coronavirus infections, including 7,918 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national tally to 2,215,533.

Authorities also reported 496 deaths related to Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 38,558.

Philippines to get 2.6M doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine

The Philippines will get 2.6million shots of a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca under the country’s first supply deal for a coronavirus vaccine, senior officials said.

This supply, to be paid for by the private sector, will inoculate over 1 million Filipinos as the British drug maker’s vaccine requires two doses, said Jose Concepcion, a government business adviser representing the private sector.

Carlito Galvez, a top coronavirus task force official, said authorities were also negotiating with AstraZeneca a possible purchase of a further 1 million doses of the vaccine

Germany’s coronavirus infections pass one million

Germany has seen its total number of virus infections pass one million, the Robert Koch Institute for disease control said.

The institute recorded more than 22,000 new daily cases, pushing the country’s total beyond the one-million mark.

The number of infections increased by 22,806 to 1,006,394.

The reported death toll rose by 426 to 15,586, the tally showed.

Ukraine reports record high for daily coronavirus cases 

Ukraine has registered a record 16,218 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, health minister Maksym Stepanov said, surpassing the previous day’s record of 15,331.

Total infections climbed to 693,407 cases, with 11,909 deaths, he said.

Japan cancels Emperor’s New Year event due to coronavirus

Japan’s Imperial Household Agency has cancelled an annual New Year’s event set for January 2, at which Emperor Naruhito and other imperial family members were to greet well-wishers, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have decided not to hold (the event) from the viewpoint of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus,” the agency said on its website.

Russia agrees to produce virus vaccine Sputnik V in India

Russia’s sovereign wealth fund and Indian pharmaceutical company Hetero have agreed to produce over 100 million doses per year in India of the Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19, according to a statement on the Sputnik V Twitter account.

Hetero and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has been backing the vaccine and marketing it globally, plan to start production of Sputnik V in India at the beginning of 2021, the statement said.

Phase II-III trials are ongoing in India, the statement said.

Drugmaker Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd has said it expects late-stage trials to be completed by as early as March 2021.

Victoria to almost beat virus

From nearly 8,000 active cases in August and more than 800 deaths in the Australian state of Victoria to the elimination of the coronavirus: It’s an achievement that one Melbourne doctor says he thought was unthinkable only three months ago.

Friday marked four weeks without a new case of Covid-19 and 9,828 Victorians were tested in the past 24 hours.

Health authorities say 28 days with no new cases means the virus has been eliminated from the community, given that the time represents two 14-day incubation periods.

South Korean urged to stay indoors as cases surge

South Korea’s daily virus tally is above 500 for a second straight day and the country’s prime minister is urging the public to stay at home this weekend to contain a viral resurgence.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said that people should avoid social gatherings and refrain from going out in public this weekend. South Korea has seen a spike in fresh infections since it eased tough social distancing rules last month.

Authorities reported 569 newly confirmed infections over the past 24 hours, raising the country’s total to 32,887 for the pandemic, with 516 deaths. The 583 new cases reported Thursday was the first time that South Korea’s daily tally had exceeded 500 since March.

Mexico’s virus death toll rises above 104,000

Mexico’s health ministry has reported 8,107 additional cases of the novel coronavirus and 645 more deaths in the country, bringing the official number of infections to 1,078,594 and the death toll to 104,242.

Health officials have said the real number of infections is likely to be significantly higher.

Vaccine deliveries to begin next week in US

US President Donald Trump has said that delivery of the coronavirus vaccine would begin next week and the week after.

Speaking to US troops overseas via video link to mark the Thanksgiving holiday, Trump said the vaccine would initially be send to front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens.

UK asks regulator to study AstraZeneca vaccine

The British government has asked its independent medicines regulator to assess AstraZeneca’s virus vaccine as part of the formal approval process for the drug to be rolled out by the end of the year.

AstraZeneca has completed Phase III clinical trials of its vaccine, the last stage before regulatory approval.

But under British rules, the government must also ask the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to green light the drug.

Russia’s Sputnik V developers call on AstraZeneca to try combining vaccines

Developers of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine have said that AstraZeneca should try combining its experimental shot with the Russian one to boost efficacy.

Russia said its Sputnik V vaccine is 92 percent effective at protecting people from Covid-19, according to interim trial results, while AstraZeneca said its vaccine was 70 percent effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90 percent effective.

“If they go for a new clinical trial, we suggest trying a regimen of combining the AZ shot with the #SputnikV human adenoviral vector shot to boost efficacy,” the developers of the Russian vaccine said on their Twitter account.

“Combining vaccines may prove important for revaccinations.”

Volunteer gets second dose of Turkish vaccine

The second dose of a potential Turkey-made Covid-19 vaccine has been administered to a volunteer.

The vaccine is being developed at the Erciyes University in the central Kayseri province with support from Turkey’s Institutes of Health Administration.

The university said in a statement that Phase-1 trials are ongoing. The first dose was administered to a volunteer on November 5 and the second shot was given to the same volunteer 21 days later.

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