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Sanofi, GSK Commence Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine

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Sanofi and GSK have announced the commencement of Phase 1/2 clinical trial for their adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine candidate that was developed by both firms uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines with GSK’s established pandemic adjuvant technology.

The companies in a statement said that the Phase 1/2 clinical trial is a randomised, double blind and placebo-controlled trial.

It is designed to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate.

They added that a total of 440 healthy adults are being enrolled in the trial across 11 investigational sites in the United States.

The companies anticipate first results in early December 2020, to support the initiation of a Phase 3 trial in December 2020.

“If these data are sufficient for licensure application, we are planning to request regulatory approval in the first half of 2021,” the statement said.

Speaking on the development, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Sanofi Pasteur, Thomas Triomphe, said, “Sanofi and GSK bring proven science and technology to the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the shared objective of delivering a safe and effective vaccine.

“The initiation of our clinical study is an important step and brings us closer to a potential vaccine which could help defeat COVID-19. Our dedicated teams and partner continue to work around the clock as we aim to deliver the first results in early December. Positive data will enable a prompt start of the pivotal phase 3 trial by the end of this year.”

Also speaking, President of GSK Vaccines, Roger Connor, said, “Moving this vaccine candidate into clinical development is an important moment in the progress towards addressing the global pandemic we are all facing.

“This builds on the confidence shown by governments already in the potential of this protein- based adjuvanted vaccine candidate, which utilises established technology from both companies, and can be produced at scale by two of the leading vaccine manufacturers globally.

“We now look forward to the data from the study, and if positive, beginning a Phase 3 trial by the end of the year.”

Sanofi is leading the clinical development and registration of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pre-clinical data showed an acceptable reactogenicity profile and data based on two injections of the adjuvanted recombinant vaccine showed high levels of neutralising antibodies that are comparable to levels in humans who recovered from the COVID-19 infection.

Pre-clinical results will be published later this year. In parallel, Sanofi and GSK are scaling up manufacturing of the antigen and adjuvant with the target of producing up to one billion doses in 2021.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Travel

Singapore Tops Passport Power Rankings, Overtakes European Rivals

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Singapore has reclaimed its position as the holder of the world’s most powerful passport, surpassing European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

According to the Henley Passport Index, Singaporean citizens can now enjoy visa-free access to 195 destinations globally, placing the city-state at the top of the rankings.

The Henley Passport Index, which uses data from the International Air Transport Association, evaluates 199 passports and their access to 227 destinations.

The latest update sees Singapore leapfrogging previous leaders, with the European quartet and Japan now sharing second place.

In third place are Austria, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, and Sweden, whose passport holders have visa-free access to 191 destinations.

This is the first time seven nations have occupied this spot together.

Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, emphasized the significance of passport strength in today’s globalized world.

“The ability to travel visa-free is more than convenience; it’s a powerful economic tool driving growth, fostering international cooperation, and attracting foreign investment.”

While Singapore rises, the United States continues its decline, now ranking eighth, a drop from its former position at the top alongside the UK a decade ago. The UK, meanwhile, has slipped to fourth place.

At the bottom of the list, Afghanistan remains the weakest passport, offering visa-free entry to just 26 destinations.

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Netflix’s Premium Plan Sees 40% Price Hike Amidst Nigerian Inflation

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Netflix

Netflix has increased its subscription prices in Nigeria with the Premium Plan seeing a 40% hike from ₦5,000 to ₦7,000 per month.

According to the updated pricing on Netflix’s website, the Standard Plan, popular for its HD quality and multi-screen options, now costs ₦5,500, up from ₦4,000—a 37.5% rise.

Meanwhile, the Basic Plan increased by 21% to ₦3,500, and the Mobile Plan saw a dramatic 83% jump from ₦1,200 to ₦2,200.

In April, Netflix adjusted its Premium Plan from ₦4,400 to ₦5,000 and its Standard Plan from ₦3,600 to ₦4,000. The Basic Plan remained unchanged at ₦2,900 during that period.

The company stated these changes were part of a broader strategy to enhance revenue and support its expanding content offerings.

This latest hike comes amid soaring inflation in Nigeria, which has significantly impacted the cost of living.

As food and essential goods prices rise, many Nigerians find entertainment subscriptions increasingly unaffordable.

Netflix’s price adjustments are not limited to Nigeria; similar increases have occurred in major markets like the United States, United Kingdom, and France.

In October 2023, both the Basic and Premium plans experienced hikes in these countries as part of Netflix’s global pricing strategy.

The frequent price hikes have sparked concern among Nigerian subscribers who already face economic challenges. Many are reevaluating their subscriptions as home entertainment costs continue to climb.

As Netflix continues to adjust its pricing to sustain growth and content expansion, Nigerian consumers are left weighing the value of their streaming subscriptions against other financial priorities.

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Airline Stocks Tumble as Ryanair Cuts Summer Fare Forecast

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Ryanair’s announcement of a significant cut in summer fare expectations has sent ripples through the airline industry, causing stocks to fall sharply.

The no-frills airline reported a nearly 50% drop in profits for the quarter ending June 30, attributing the decline to lower passenger fares and frugal consumer behavior.

Ryanair’s profit before tax fell to €401 million, a stark contrast to the same period last year. This slump is primarily due to a 15% decrease in average passenger fares, as travelers continue to tighten their budgets amid ongoing economic uncertainties.

Chief Executive Michael O’Leary highlighted the shift in consumer behavior, noting that “fares are now moving materially lower than the prior year and pricing continues to deteriorate.”

The company’s previous forecast of stable fares has been revised, with expectations now set for a “materially lower” fare structure between July and September.

The announcement triggered a sell-off in airline stocks, with Ryanair’s share price plummeting by 17%.

Other airlines, including EasyJet and Wizz Air, also experienced declines, reflecting broader concerns about the industry’s financial health as customer spending contracts.

Experts are questioning whether the entire sector is facing a downturn, especially as consumers delay booking trips and opt for more budget-friendly options.

Despite the profit drop, Ryanair reported a slight increase in passenger numbers, which helped mitigate a more significant fall in overall revenue.

However, the airline emphasized that its summer performance heavily relies on last-minute bookings, particularly in August and September.

The trend of delayed bookings is partly due to the cost-of-living crisis, which continues to influence consumer spending habits.

This trend aligns with observations from other airlines like Jet2, which noted only modest price increases amid late bookings.

Ryanair’s struggles are compounded by external challenges such as air traffic control strikes and a global IT meltdown, which have led to delays and cancellations.

These issues have further dampened consumer confidence, potentially impacting last-minute booking numbers.

Moreover, Ryanair faces operational hurdles with aircraft deliveries. Boeing has warned that some 737 Max planes expected by next spring will be delayed until summer 2025, posing a threat to Ryanair’s capacity during peak travel periods.

The airline industry is grappling with the end of a post-pandemic boom in pricing, as evident from warnings by other carriers like Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.

As economic pressures mount, the sector must navigate a landscape of cautious consumer spending and logistical challenges.

Ryanair’s latest figures underscore the fragile nature of the current travel market, prompting airlines to reassess strategies to attract budget-conscious travelers while maintaining profitability.

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