Greece to send 1,000 refugees to Portugal

Mothers and their children in a center run by the Amurtel NGO in Athens’ Victoria Square. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2019

Greece to send 1,000 refugees to Portugal

  • Over 70,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece following a mass influx from 2015 onwards
  • Conditions are worst on the islands of Lesbos and Samos, where there are over 9,000 people in camps built to handle a third of that number

ATHENS: Greece’s migration ministry on Friday said it had concluded a bilateral agreement with Portugal to gradually relocate 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers.
“A first phase involves the relocation of 100 persons granted and/or seeking international protection who are currently in Greek (camps),” the ministry said in a statement.
Over 70,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece following a mass influx from 2015 onwards. Most were fleeing war-torn Syria and want to go to wealthier EU states such as Germany.
Of these, over 15,000 are housed in badly overcrowded camps on Greek islands where living conditions have been repeatedly criticized by rights groups.
Conditions are worst on the islands of Lesbos and Samos, where there are over 9,000 people in camps built to handle a third of that number.
The Greek government says the problem is partly caused by a huge backlog of refugee asylum applications, and by the refusal of several EU states to take in asylum-seekers.


US company hopeful of UK trials for COVID-19 vaccine

Updated 16 min 24 sec ago

US company hopeful of UK trials for COVID-19 vaccine

  • Codagenix has pioneered fresh approach based on technology first discovered in 1950s
  • Permission could be granted by end of year

LONDON: An experiment has been proposed to take place in the UK that will see volunteers infected with a weakened form of COVID-19 in the hope that it could act as an effective vaccine.

The trial, the brainchild of US biotech company Codagenix, may receive permission to begin before the end of the year.

The theory behind the vaccine using an “attenuated” virus, engineered in a laboratory, stems from how COVID-19 uses pieces of genetic code, called codons, normally used by human cells to identify amino acids in order to build proteins, to trick the cells into helping the virus replicate inside a host.

Human cells cannot always efficiently identify codons, making it harder for the immune system to spot those used by COVID-19. 

Codagenix’s vaccine prototype will act in a similar fashion to the original COVID-19 virus, but will replicate at about a thousandth of the rate, which the company believes will help train the immune system to recognize the real thing when confronted with it, and trigger a broader immune response than through other vaccines. 

“We recode a portion of the virus’s genome so that it’s slowly translated by the human host,” said Codagenix CEO Robert Coleman.

The technique was first used in the 1950s by the scientist Albert Sabin, who used it to eventually develop the oral polio vaccine.

Codagenix believes that its version could end up being more effective, and more cost efficient, than other prototype vaccines currently in advanced trial stages worldwide, including the one being worked on by scientists at Oxford University in partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Codagenix has already held early-stage trials of a flu vaccine using the technique in humans without serious side-effects, and has partnered with the Serum Institute of India, among the world’s largest vaccine manufacturers, to produce it should it prove a success.