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- Boris Johnson leaves intensive care as UK extends lockdown
“We’re not done yet, we must keep going,” Raab said in a televised briefing in London on Thursday. “Deaths are still rising, and we still haven’t seen the peak of the virus. So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we’ve put in place. We must stick to the plan.”With good weather forecast for much of the long weekend, ministers are anxious to avoid scenes of people gathering in groups in parks, beaches and beauty spots. The government rolled out an advertising campaign on social media and in print urging Britons to stay home, protect the National Health Service and save lives over the Easter break.Raab spoke after the death toll from the virus rose by a further 881 to bring the total to 7,978. Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned he expects the number of deaths to increase for “a few weeks” yet.When the UK imposed sweeping restrictions on movement on March 23, Johnson said the measures would be reviewed in three weeks — a deadline that falls on Monday. The lockdown has brought the economy to a near halt, and triggered a surge in the number of people claiming welfare payments for the first time. Still, the number of deaths from the virus has continued to increase, and government scientists say they don’t have enough data yet to show the restrictions are having enough of an effect to justify being relaxed.‘Weeks’It will be “several more weeks” before scientists will be able to draw conclusions about the rate of decline in cases and therefore recommend any lifting of measures, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London who advises the government, told BBC Radio 4 on Friday. But he also said there’s preliminary evidence the lockdown is working better than expected to reduce the number of transmissions.Johnson, 55, announced he was isolating with coronavirus on March 27, and was admitted to St. Thomas’s hospital in London on April 5 after struggling to shake off the symptoms. He was moved to intensive care the following evening when his condition worsened, and was given oxygen but not put on a ventilator.Raab, who has deputized for Johnson since the premier was transferred to critical care, wouldn’t say how long he expects the restrictions will be extended for. He said the government would analyze the data next week.Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty pointed to one positive sign — the rate of confirmed infections has slowed. Instead of doubling every three days, they are now taking six days or more, he said.Topics : Boris Johnson was released from intensive care Thursday evening after his deputy said it’s too soon for the UK to relax the lockdown imposed 17 days ago in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.The UK premier remains in the hospital “where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery,” from coronavirus, his office said in an emailed statement Thursday evening. “He is in extremely good spirits.”Speaking earlier before the start of a four-day Easter break, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab signaled Britain needs to maintain stringent curbs on the movement of people imposed to stop the spread of the disease.
- Novartis to provide ‘no profit’ COVID-19 drugs to low income countries
Novartis’s Sandoz division will not profit from 15 generic drugs it is making available to developing countries to treat symptoms of COVID-19 for the pandemic’s duration, the Swiss drugmaker said on Thursday.Novartis’s pledge to provide the antibiotics, steroids and diarrhea pills to 79 countries on the World Bank’s list of low- and lower-middle income nations prompted the Doctors Without Borders non-governmental organization (NGO) to call for more transparency on drug pricing and for the industry to follow “no profiteering” initiatives for new COVID-19 medicines.While Novartis has not seen supply chain disruptions for these medicines, Novartis Global Health Chief Operating Officer Lutz Hegemann told Reuters the program aimed to help vulnerable healthcare systems in Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe from becoming overloaded. “We shouldn’t underestimate the stress that COVID puts particularly on fragile health systems,” Hegemann said, adding Novartis hoped to work with health authorities, faith-based organizations and NGOs to eliminate big mark-ups. “We are not targeting classical commercial distribution channels, but very direct channels.”Novartis’s brand-name drugs have had little application in treating the new coronavirus, while its older malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has flopped in some scientific trials against the disease.But Sandoz generics are among medicines commonly used to treat symptoms of those hospitalized.The 15 drugs include several antibiotics, the steroid dexamethasone that has seen some success in treating severe COVID-19 cases, heart failure drug dobutamine, antifungal fluconazole and lung drug salbutamol, among others. Topics : Hegemann did not give the “no profit” cost of the drugs, compared with commercial prices.The medicines have been around for decades and are comparatively cheap to make.”Novartis should publish the actual ‘at cost prices’ for these medicines, as well as any costs of R&D and costs of production for all of their medicines,” a Doctors Without Borders spokesperson said. “Additionally, we hope that corporations like Novartis will follow similar ‘no profiteering’ initiatives for any new COVID-19 products.”