US to pay Pfizer $1.95 bn to produce millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer Inc. and German biotech firm BioNTech SE will get $1.95 billion from the US government to produce and deliver 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 22 July 2020

US to pay Pfizer $1.95 bn to produce millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine

  • Pfizer and BioNTech are among a handful of companies that are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19
  • Their vaccine candidate has shown promise in early-stage small studies in humans

BENGALURU: Pfizer Inc. and German biotech firm BioNTech SE will get $1.95 billion from the US government to produce and deliver 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The agreement allows the US government to acquire an additional 500 million doses, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense said.
Pfizer will deliver the doses if the product receives Emergency Use Authorization or licensure from the US Food and Drug Administration, after completing demonstration of safety and efficacy in a large Phase 3 clinical trial.
A vaccine is seen as crucial to tackle the pandemic and governments across the globe have signed deals with drugmakers to secure dosages of their vaccine candidates.
Pfizer and BioNTech are among a handful of companies that are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus. Their vaccine candidate has shown promise in early-stage small studies in humans.
Pfizer’s shares rose 4%, while BioNTech’s US-listed shares were up about 6% before the bell.


UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

Updated 5 min 8 sec ago

UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

  • Cases involving Islamist extremism increase for first time in four years
  • Program aims to spot people who could go on to commit terrorist acts

LONDON: The number of people referred to the UK government’s counter extremism program has jumped amid concerns over increased radicalization among young people.
Cases involving Islamist extremism increased by 6 percent from 1,404 to 1,487. The numbers, which represent individuals of concern referred to the Prevent scheme between April 2019 and March 2020, mark the first year-on-year increase for Islamist cases since 2016.
While far-right cases remained steady compared to the previous year at 1,388, overall the number of people referred to the program rose 10 percent.
The rise in Islamist cases comes after a recent surge of attacks across Europe. Last month a school teacher was beheaded by an extremist after he had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a freedom of speech discussion. Days later, three people were killed in a terrorist attack at a church in Nice.
In the UK, three people were killed in a knife attack on London Bridge almost a year ago.
The UK’s Prevent program is part of its wider counter-terrorism strategy and aims to safeguard people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
The most serious cases are referred to a panel known as “Channel,” which then decides what further action to take. Of the 697 cases that reached the panel, most were related to the far-right (302), while 210 were linked to Islamist extremism. 
More than half of all referrals were aged under 20.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said the Prevent strategy was an essential strand to the UK’s counter-terror strategy.
“It is about supporting vulnerable individuals, steering them away from terrorism, and protecting our communities,” he told the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday.
Last week the head of counter-terror policing in the UK, Neil Basu, said that while Islamist terrorists remained the greatest threat to Britain, the far right is growing faster.
He said COVID-19 had created a “perfect storm” with young and vulnerable people spending more time alone and online.