Eight EU nations back naval force to patrol Strait of Hormuz

Oil tankers pass through the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 January 2020

Eight EU nations back naval force to patrol Strait of Hormuz

  • The EU initiative underscores the bloc’s goal of acting separately from the US, which launched its own operation alongside allies last November
  • France, Denmark, Greece and the Netherlands have already confirmed they will contribute to the patrols, which will be based in the United Arab Emirates

PARIS: The French foreign ministry said Monday that eight European Union nations had given their support for a new naval patrol to help avoid potential conflicts in the Strait of Hormuz, the strategically critical entry to the Gulf.
Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal backed the new force, though the ministry did not say how many ships would be involved, or when they would begin operations.
The move comes amid escalating tensions in the region, especially between Iran and the United States, that have sparked attacks on tankers and other conflicts in a crucial zone for oil shipping.
“For months this situation has jeopardized freedom of navigation and the security of both European and foreign ships and crews,” the ministry said in a statement.
The EU initiative also underscores the bloc’s goal of acting separately from the US, which launched its own operation alongside allies last November to protect shipping in Gulf waters.
France and its European allies are hoping to distance themselves from US President Donald Trump in order to save the landmark 2015 deal curtailing Tehran’s nuclear program.
Trump abandoned the accord in 2018 and imposed economic sanctions against Iran, rekindling a smoldering conflict that led to strikes on cargo ships as well as Saudi Arabian oil facilities.
France, Denmark, Greece and the Netherlands have already confirmed they will contribute to the patrols, which will be based in the United Arab Emirates, and “new commitments” are expected in the coming days, the ministry said.


Egypt sets virus vaccine target

Updated 54 min 17 sec ago

Egypt sets virus vaccine target

  • Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days

CAIRO: Assistant Health Minister and Coordinator of the Anti-COVID-19 Scientific Committee Ihab Kamal said that 842 people have volunteered in just one week to take part in Egypt’s coronavirus vaccine trials.

About 332 have been admitted in accordance with the health ministry’s requirements, which include being free from chronic disease.

Kamal said: “The number of volunteers until now is not low. We are working on raising the awareness of the citizens through various media platforms on the importance of the vaccine tests.” He added that the required number of volunteers is 6000.

He said the first two phases of the vaccine tests are complete and the third phase has begun. He added that volunteers are called for 21 days, pointing out that volunteers take a second dose in case they do not suffer any side effects. Kamal said the blood’s antibodies are measured throughout the year as part of the program.

Egyptian Minister of Health Hala Zayed announced on Thursday that she had launched the third and final phase of clinical trials on two vaccines developed by Egypt. She said the results of the two vaccine trials are positive so far.

Sources said that the Ministry of Health and the three centers taking part in the trials have received many applications. However, many of the applicants do not match the prerequisites, and therefore only 335 were accepted for the trials.

Zayed said in a press conference in Cairo that the current phase targets the participation of 6000 Egyptians. She said there are three places allocated for clinical trials.

Volunteers will be closely monitored in order to take a second dose after 21 days. After 45 days of the first dose, antibodies produced by the vaccine are measured to test their efficiency, Zayed said.

She said that national medical committees have been formed from civil and military bodies representing Egypt’s best medical experts.

She added that a committee will oversee conducting the clinical trials and that two vaccines out of seven have reached the third phase of clinical trials.

Zayed said that the first phase of the two vaccines included a test on a small group of 10 to 20 people with the aim of ensuring safety and also determining an appropriate dose. About 200 people took part in the second phase.

The third phase aimed included trials on 45,000 people from around the world, including 6,000 Egyptians.

The Ministry of Health and the company responsible for conducting the clinical trials explained the conditions that volunteers must follow to be eligible for tests.

They include an age bracket from 18 to 60 years old according to health condition. Registration must also be carried out using official documents. Volunteers must reside in Egypt or have valid residency documents during the trial period. Moreover, volunteers must sign an “informed consent” form prior to taking part in the trial.

There are a number of health conditions that prevent volunteers from taking part in the trials, including suffering from the symptoms of fever, dry cough, exhaustion and gonorrhea during the 14 days that precede the tests.