EU drug agency starts evaluating new COVID-19 treatment

EU drug agency starts evaluating new COVID-19 treatment
A sign informs people to cover mouth and nose with an FFP2 mask in front of a Covid-19 pandemic test center near Munich on Thursday amid the ongoing pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 18 November 2021

EU drug agency starts evaluating new COVID-19 treatment

EU drug agency starts evaluating new COVID-19 treatment
  • Xevudy is a so-called monoclonal antibody treatment, a laboratory-made version of virus-blocking antibodies that help fight off infections
  • European Medicines Agency said it has begun evaluating an application for marketing authorization

AMSTERDAM: The European Union’s medicines authority said Thursday that it is evaluating a new drug for treating COVID-19 patients who do not require extra oxygen but are at increased risk of developing severe symptoms of the disease.
Xevudy, developed by US company Vir Biotechnology Inc. and Britain-based GlaxoSmithKline, is a so-called monoclonal antibody treatment — a laboratory-made version of virus-blocking antibodies that help fight off infections.
Antibody treatments remain one of a handful of therapies that can blunt the worst effects of COVID-19, and they are the only option available to people with mild-to-moderate cases who aren’t yet in the hospital.
The European Medicines Agency said it has begun evaluating an application for marketing authorization and could issue an opinion within two months, if the data submitted with the application is sufficiently robust.
The agency’s human medicines committee already reviewed some data on Xevudy during a rolling review. The data came from laboratory and animal studies, and included information on the quality of the drug.
The announcement came a week after the European Medicines Agency recommended the authorization of two other monoclonal antibody treatments — a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab, and the drug regdanvimab. It said both were proven to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in patients vulnerable to serious COVID-19.


Ukraine lawmaker calls on Germany to urgently back Kyiv with arms

Ukraine lawmaker calls on Germany to urgently back Kyiv with arms
Updated 6 sec ago

Ukraine lawmaker calls on Germany to urgently back Kyiv with arms

Ukraine lawmaker calls on Germany to urgently back Kyiv with arms
DAVOS, Switzerland: Western countries such as Germany must overcome reluctance to supply Ukraine with modern weapons as Kyiv risks running out of stocks in the war with Russia, lawmaker Anastasia Radina said.
“We have only one choice, and this is to receive modern NATO style weaponry because we cannot win the war with the Soviet style weaponry that we have,” Radina told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
She said stocks of Soviet-built weapons were limited around the world, and Moscow had much more of these arms than Kyiv.
“What they are doing is waiting for us to run out of weapons or (the) collective West to be less united and more preoccupied ... with their own problems,” Radina said in an interview on Tuesday.
Ukraine needs longer range arms after mainly receiving anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons at the start of the war, Radina said, adding that Kyiv has also asked for ground-based air defense systems to protect Ukrainian cities from attacks.
The German government has been considering supplying a surface-to-air defense system built by Diehl to Ukraine, according to a security source, but a deal has not yet been announced.
Radina said a system like this could help protect not only Kyiv, but also other cities like Kharkiv, Zaporizhya, Mykolaiv and Odesa: “These are cities that need proper air defense systems even more than Kyiv.”
The German government must understand that Ukraine is running out of time, the lawmaker said.
“This .. discussion about tanks is just humiliating. This poses a question with whom Germany really sides,” Radina said in reference to Gepard anti-aircraft tanks that Germany pledged a month ago but Berlin said will be delivered in July.
“It is time Germany proves in action with whom it stands. And proving in action means: Stop supplying Russia with money to basically be able to buy weapons and kill Ukrainian civilians and help Ukraine with proper ammunition.”

UNHCR chief asks world not to forget Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh

UNHCR chief asks world not to forget Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh
Updated 8 min 50 sec ago

UNHCR chief asks world not to forget Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh

UNHCR chief asks world not to forget Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh
  • Bangladesh has hosted over 1.1 million Rohingya refugees since 2017 
  • Gathering support for Rohingya refugees ‘will be a bigger challenge’ than in past, UNHCR chief says

DHAKA: The Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh should not be forgotten as the world’s attention is absorbed by the Ukraine emergency, Filippo Grandi, chief of UN refugee agency the UNHCR, said on Wednesday as he concluded his visit to the South Asian country.

Bangladesh is host to more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees who fled atrocities in neighboring Myanmar. The majority live in congested camps at Cox’s Bazar, while tens and thousands have been moved to Bhasan Char — an island settlement in the Bay of Bengal several hours away from the mainland — since the end of 2020.

Following a five-day visit to Bangladesh, which included visits to refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar and Bhasan Char, Grandi said that gathering support for the Rohingya cause will be “a bigger challenge than in past years.”

“It’s very important that the world knows that this should not be forgotten,” Grandi said at a press conference in Dhaka, adding that there was the risk of “marginalization” due to the attention and resources that were being absorbed elsewhere, especially by the emergency in Ukraine. 

“I am here to remind the international community that there is not just Ukraine and new crises, that Bangladesh has been bearing the responsibility for five years and this support cannot decline."

Grandi, who also met with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during his visit, said he agreed with the premier that the solution to the crisis “can only be in Myanmar,” adding that his office is engaging with relevant authorities to resolve the situation.

“The Rohingya refugees I met reiterated their desire to return home when conditions allow. The world must work to address the root causes of their flight and to translate those dreams into reality,” Grandi said.

Grandi’s visit is expected to help restart discussions on the repatriation of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar after talks stalled further since Myanmar’s military took power in a coup in February 2021. 

Humayun Kabir, Bangladesh’s former ambassador to the US, described the UN official’s visit as “important,” as it allowed Grandi to assess the situation for the Rohingya refugees and what authorities in the South Asian country need to help address the crisis. 

“Through this visit, Grandi was informed about the expectations of Bangladesh’s authorities over the Rohingya crisis. Although the repatriation is yet to begin, this kind of visit and discussion has much significance to resolve the crisis,” Kabir told Arab News. 

To speed up the negotiation process over the fate of the Rohingya, Dhaka University’s international relations Prof. Amena Mohsin said the UN should work more to engage global powers. 

“The UN should unite global powers on this issue so that the repatriation process can be accelerated,” Mohsin told Arab News.


Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine
Updated 25 May 2022

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine

Russia offers fast-track citizenship to residents of occupied Ukraine
  • The decree marks a further step towards "Russification" of the two regions
  • Putin's move extends a scheme available to residents of Donetsk and Luhansk

LONDON: President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday simplifying the process for residents of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.
The decree marks a further step toward “Russification” of the two regions, where Moscow’s war in Ukraine has enabled it to establish a continuous land bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Putin’s move extends a scheme available to residents of areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Moscow has issued around 800,000 passports since 2019.
Russia claimed full control of the Kherson region, north of Crimea, in mid-March, and holds parts of Zaporizhzhia region to the north-east.
In Kherson, the Ukrainian governor has been ousted and the military-civilian administration said earlier this month that it planned to ask Putin to incorporate it into Russia by the end of 2022. Ukraine has pledged to recapture all of its seized territory.


Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll
Updated 25 May 2022

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

Middle East countries regard Japan highly in opinion poll

TOKYO: In a poll on people’s impressions of Japan conducted in several Middle Eastern countries by research firms on behalf of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, 76 percent of the respondents viewed relations with Japan as “very friendly” or “somewhat friendly.”

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan commissioned research agencies to conduct an opinion poll on impressions of Japan in the United States, Australia, India, nine ASEAN countries, four Central Asian countries and seven Middle Eastern countries from December 2021 to February 2022. 

Similarly, a YouGov study conducted by Arab News in 2019 showed that 87 percent of Arabs would love to visit Japan. 30 percent of the Arabs surveyed found Japanese people polite and only one percent thought they were friendly. 

In the Arab News YouGov study that surveyed  3,033 Arabic speakers from 18 Arab countries, it was also found that the Japanese people were described as: hardworking (61 percent), organized (54 percent) and creative (37 percent.)

For the Middle East, the poll was conducted in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey with 1,000 respondents in Egypt and 500 respondents in each of the other six countries. Ages ranged from 18 to 69.

In the Middle East, 80 percent of the respondents answered that Japan has consistently followed the path of a peace-loving nation since the end of the World War II. 

Eighty-one percent of the respondents answered “a very important role” or “somewhat important role” on the extent Japan plays in stabilization and growth of the world economy, while 85 percent of the respondents answered “very beneficial” or “somewhat beneficial” on whether Japan’s economic and technical cooperation is good for the development of the Middle East region.

In terms of Japan’s proactive contribution to the peace and stability of the region and the international community for maintaining global peace and international order, 81 percent of the respondents answered “very valuable” or “valuable.” 

In the Arab News YouGov study, it was also shown that 56 percent of Arabs thought Japan would be an ideal mediator for Middle East peace, and had high expectations for Japanese diplomacy. It was also concluded that 44 percent of Arabs understood the power and decision making structure in Japan. 

In polls for other regions, Japan scored highly in the “friendly” category in the United States (94 percent), India (91 percent) and the ASEAN countries (93 percent), but less so in Australia and Central Asia (both 78 percent).

This story was originally published on Arab news Japan


Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day
Updated 25 May 2022

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

Chairman of Japan-Jordan Association congratulates Jordan’s 76th Independence Day

DUBAI: Chairman of the Japan-Jordan Association SASAKI Mikio congratulated the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on its 76th anniversary of their Independence Day.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Wednesday that the Jordanian government will work on program to develop the public sector during his Independence Day speech.

Mikio commended the king’s “strong leadership and the tireless commitment of the Jordanian authorities and people in these turbulent times with COVID-19.”

The chairman also said Japan witnessed great achievements with the 24 Jordanian athletes that competed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games last summer.

In his congratulatory message, Mikio added that under the leadership of Jordan’s Royal Family, “Jordan has and continues to play an important role in the stability and security of the Middle East and is one of Japan’s most important partners.”

He praised the long history shared between the two nations and said the bilateral relationship was one that can help make economic and cultural ties stronger.

Diplomatic relations between Jordan and Japan were established on July 14, 1954, signifying their 68th anniversary soon. 

This story was originally published on Arab News Japan