Domain Registration | International Covid-19 wrap: Russian lab wants to test a vaccine, Boris Johnson in ‘good spirits’

  • April 07, 2020

The head of a top Russian research centre has told President Vladimir Putin that his lab was ready to start human trials of experimental coronavirus vaccines in June, AFP reports. 

Rinat Maksyutov, head of the Vektor State Virology and Biotechnology Centre, said his facility proposed first-phase clinical trials of three vaccines from June 29, on 180 volunteers.

Maksyutov was speaking during a video-link meeting between Putin and the heads of top research centres.

“Groups of volunteers have already been formed,” he told Putin, adding that a lot of people wanted to take part in the trials.

“We have already received more than 300 applications.” Maksyutov said scientists at the top-secret lab complex located in Koltsovo outside the Siberian city of Novosibirsk had developed several prototype vaccines.

Tests were currently underway on mice, rabbits and other animals to determine the most promising by 30 April, he said.

Vektor planned pre-clinical studies by 22 June before launching the testing in humans, Maksyutov added.

But the first human trials could begin in May “if the health ministry allows it”.

Russia on Tuesday reported 7 497 coronavirus cases and 58 deaths. 

Africa’s biggest airline loses big during lockdowns

Ethiopian Airlines is already bracing for income loss of half a billion dollars and has axed most of its scheduled passenger flights, but is turning to cargo and charter operations to soften the blow, AFP has reported.

“As we speak, Ethiopian Airlines has lost a revenue of $550 million including April,” the airline’s CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, told a press conference, adding that the company faced “a serious financial, operational and commercial crisis”.

In recent weeks Africa’s biggest carrier has distributed medical equipment across the continent, repatriated US Peace Corps volunteers stranded overseas and evacuated cruise ship employees from the US to their homes in Asia, Tewolde said.

Tewolde said the company would try to take advantage of demand for cargo operations – including for medical supplies – and would even remove seats from passenger jets, though he acknowledged that cargo accounts for only 15 percent of its revenue.

Ethiopian Airlines continues to fly to 19 passenger destinations, down from 110.

Boris Johnson ‘in good spirits’

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still in intensive care but is “in good spirits”, AFP reports. 

“The prime minister has been stable overnight and remains in good spirits,” a spokesperson told reporters.

He said the 55-year-old Conservative leader was receiving “standard oxygen treatment and breathing without any other assistance” and had not required a ventilator.

He was admitted to intensive care on Monday evening and asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to deputise for him “where necessary”, effectively putting him in charge.

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