Austerity plans under fire in Britain

Updated 23 April 2015

Austerity plans under fire in Britain

LONDON: With just two weeks before a knife-edge election, Britain’s major political parties Thursday faced stinging criticism from analysts over the lack of detail in their austerity plans.
The governing Conservatives and their junior coalition partner the Liberal Democrats, as well as the opposition Labour party and the Scottish National Party, have failed to provide detailed fiscal plans for the next five years, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said.
“Public finance plans of Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP leave much unanswered,” the respected think-tank concluded in a study after analyzing the parties’ manifestos before the May 7 general election.
“None of these parties has provided anything like full details of their fiscal plans for each year of the coming Parliament, leaving the electorate somewhat in the dark as to both the scale and composition of likely spending cuts and tax increases.”
The withering criticism came as official data showed the coalition government beat its own deficit-cutting target for the 2014/2015 financial year to March. Economists said the data gave a boost to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron — whose election campaign has been based on his handling of the economy.
Public sector net borrowing, the government’s preferred measure of the deficit, fell to £87.3 billion ($131 billion, 122 billion euros) in the year to the end of March, or the equivalent of 4.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), the Office for National Statistics revealed. That beat the official forecast of £90.2 billion and marked an improvement from £98.5 billion in 2013/14.
The deficit — the annual shortfall between government revenues and expenditure — has now dropped by about £60 billion since just before the coalition came to power in 2010.
The government has an overall debt of £1.48 trillion, or £500 billion higher than 2009/10.


Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

Updated 03 August 2020

Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

  • The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago
  • Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience

MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one prepared at the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” industry minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by TASS news agency.
“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said the Gamaleya vaccine had “completed clinical trials” and that documents were being prepared to register it with the state.
Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Murashko said.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya’s vaccine employs the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.
The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience, particularly with advanced technology like viral vector.
Some Russian officials have boasted that the country will be the first to come up with the vaccine, even comparing it to the space race to produce the first satellite in the Soviet era.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.