Vietnam in ‘decisive’ fight to contain coronavirus

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc says the new coronavirus outbreak could have a more ‘critical impact’ than previous waves of infection. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 03 August 2020

Vietnam in ‘decisive’ fight to contain coronavirus

  • Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts, is battling several new clusters of infection
  • Source of the new outbreak is unclear but it has spread to at least 10 places

HANOI: Vietnam is in the midst of a “decisive” fight against the novel coronavirus, the prime minister said on Monday, with the focus on Danang city where infections have appeared in four factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700 people.
Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the coronavirus appeared in late January, is battling several new clusters of infection linked to Danang after going more than three months without detecting any domestic transmission.
“We have to deploy full force to curb all known epicenters, especially those in Danang,” the official broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc telling government officials.
“Early August will be the decisive time within which to stop the virus from spreading on a large scale.”
The country of 96 million has confirmed at least 621 infections, with six deaths.
Authorities on Monday reported one new case linked to the central city of Danang, a tourism hot spot where Vietnam’s first domestically transmitted case in 100 days was detected on July 24.
The source of the new outbreak is unclear but it has spread to at least 10 places, including the capital, Hanoi, and the business hub of Ho Chi Minh City, infecting 174 people and killing six.
Four cases were found at factories in different industrial parks in Danang, which collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said.
The government said on Saturday it planned to test Danang’s entire population of 1.1 million people, part of “unprecedented measures” to fight the outbreak. The city imposed a lockdown last week, banning movement in and out of the city and closing entertainment venues.
Buon Ma Thuot, a city in Vietnam’s coffee-growing Central Highlands region, was placed under lockdown on Monday, state media reported.
Twenty-three percent of the latest infections are asymptomatic, the government said in a statement, meaning people infected with the virus do not show symptoms of the COVID-19 sickness it causes.
Phuc said the new outbreak could have a more “critical impact” than previous waves of infection.
Authorities said on Sunday the strain of virus detected in Danang was a more contagious one, and that each infected person could infect 5 to 6 people, compared with 1.8-2.2 for infections earlier in the year.
Vietnam has carried out 52,000 tests for the coronavirus in the past seven days, according to a Reuters analysis of official data. Health ministry data does not include rapid tests used for mass screening.


Arthritis drug trialled as potential treatment for COVID-19

Updated 28 September 2020

Arthritis drug trialled as potential treatment for COVID-19

  • Dr. Andy Martin: We are conducting this study to see whether otilimab could potentially ease the effect of COVID- 19 on the lungs
  • Dr. Tim Felton: The primary end point of this study is that participants are alive and free of lung failure after 28 days — so this research is potentially life-saving

LONDON: The experimental arthritis drug, otilimab, is being trialled as a potential treatment for COVID-19.

The first patient, administered with the drug, is currently being cared for at Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

The OSCAR study (Otilimab in Severe COVID-19 Related Disease) is sponsored and funded by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

The study at the MRI is being led by Dr. Andy Martin, an Intensive Care and Anaesthesia Consultant.

Dr. Martin said: “The patients eligible to take part in this study are those experiencing very severe lung difficulties due to COVID-19 infection and are receiving oxygen or ventilator support.

“We are conducting this study to see whether otilimab — which is under investigation as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis — could also potentially ease the effect of coronavirus on the lungs, dampening the impact of the virus on the immune system.

Christopher Corsico, Senior Vice President Development, GSK said: “We are continuing to work hard to find solutions to address the pandemic, including exploring potential treatment options for COVID-19 patients.

“We know that some COVID-19 patients experience an overreaction of their immune system — sometimes referred to as cytokine storm — which can lead to hospitalization or death. We believe that otilimab might be able to help counter or calm this process.

Dr. Tim Felton, Honorary Consultant, Senior Lecturer at The University of Manchester and Clinical Lead for all MFT COVID-19-related research studies, leads OSCAR at Wythenshawe Hospital, which is also part of MFT.

Dr. Felton said: “The primary end point of this study is that participants are alive and free of lung failure after 28 days — so this research is potentially life-saving.

“I’d like to thank our first OSCAR participant — as well as the thousands of others who have taken part in coronavirus studies at MFT to date — as every participant who takes part in our research is contributing to the coordinated effort to enhance understanding of this global pandemic.”