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World Roundup: Oxford vaccine sparks hopes for COVID-19 cure

Hopes of an effective COVID-19 vaccine being developed in the near future have been raised after two separate studies showed potential positive results, British media reported Thursday.

A University of Oxford trial showed its prototype vaccine generated an immune response against the virus, the reports said.

Blood samples taken from a group of some 1,000 volunteers who were given the vaccine stimulated antibodies and “killer T-cells,” according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Previous research has shown that T-cells can remain in the body for years and help fight viruses.

The potential development comes after US biotech firm Moderna said on Tuesday it would start the final stage of human trials for its vaccine candidate on July 27.

Meanwhile, a third group, BioNTech, a German company in partnership with US pharma giant Pfizer, plans to carry out its own trials on a vaccine involving 30,00 people.

IMF: Sustain economic support

Despite some signs of recovery, the global economy faces continued challenges, including the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, and governments should keep their support programs in place, IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said Thursday.

Activity “has started to gradually strengthen... But we are not out of the woods yet,” Georgieva said in a message to G20 finance ministers ahead of their weekend meeting in Saudi Arabia.

The Washington-based crisis lender late last month downgraded its growth forecasts, and now expects global GDP to fall by 4.9 percent this year due to the deeper contraction during lockdowns than previously anticipated, and only a “tepid recovery is expected for next year.”

The $11 trillion in stimulus provided by the G20 nations helped to prevent a worse outcome, but “these safety nets must be maintained as needed and, in some cases, expanded,” Georgieva urged in a blog post.

India lockdown for 125 million people

One of India’s most impoverished states went into lockdown Thursday, but near-normal traffic on Patna’s streets showed the difficulty of corralling over 125 million people.

The lockdown in the northern state bordering Nepal started as India reported more than 600 deaths in the previous 24 hours, and the Red Cross warned the virus was spreading at “an alarming rate” across south Asia.

With India’s caseload on course to hit one million on Friday or Saturday – and fatalities approaching 25,000 – local authorities across the country are reimposing restrictions that have only recently been lifted

$1.4 billion for workers’ retraining

Australia announced Thursday $1.4 billion to retrain workers impacted by the coronavirus fallout, as unemployment rose to its highest level in more than two decades.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new funding would create more than 300,000 places in training programmes that aimed to funnel graduates and the newly jobless into “growth” sectors.

“It is upsetting for many Australians that the industries and places where they’d been working, they will find it very difficult to find new employment in those sectors. And so we want to ensure they have the opportunity... to find employment in other sectors, potentially, so they can actually move forward with their own lives.” 

The unemployment rate rose from 7.1 percent to 7.4 percent in June, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, bringing the jobless total to almost one million in a country of 25 million. 

Topics: COVID-19 , vaccine , University of Oxford , BioNTech , Kristalina Georgieva
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