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Elon Musk’s SpaceX Raised $850 Million at $74 Billion Valuation

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Elon Musk's SpaceX Raised $850 million at $74 billion valuation

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Raised $850 Million at $74 Billion Valuation

Elon Musk‘s SpaceX completed a $850 million equity funding round last week, according to people familiar with the funding.

According to the sources, SpaceX raised the $850 million at $419.99 per share or just 1 cent below the $420 price that Musk made infamous in 2018 when he announced he had enough funding to take Tesla private at that price.

The new funding round also represents an increase of around 60 percent in the firm’s valuation from its previous round in August, when SpaceX raised almost $2 billion at a $46 billion valuation.

SpaceX raised only a portion of the funding available in the marketplace, with one of the sources familiar with the funding saying, SpaceX received “insane demand” of around $6 billion in bids in three days.

 

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Biotech Firm Launches Lassa Vaccine Trial in West Africa

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Lassa Fever

Biotech Firm Launches Lassa Vaccine Trial in West Africa

A biotechnology company, INOVIO, says the first participant in Lassa vaccine trial has been dosed in a Phase 1B clinical trial for INO-4500, its DNA vaccine candidate for Lassa fever.

The clinical trial is being done in Ghana, the firm says, adding that INOVIO is focused on bringing to market precisely-designed DNA medicines to treat and protect people from infectious diseases and cancer.

The Phase 1B clinical trial (LSV-002), ongoing at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Accra, Ghana, is the first vaccine clinical trial for Lassa Fever to be conducted in West Africa, where the infection is endemic.

The lead clinical Principal Investigator for LSV-002 is Professor Dr. Kwadwo A. Koram, an expert and specialist in tropical medicines and epidemiologist with more than 20 years of research experience, including malaria vaccines.

INO-4500 was also the first vaccine candidate for Lassa fever to enter human trials, PUNCH Healthwise reports.

Already, the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, has tweeted his commendation.

Said Ihekweazu, “Fantastic news. The urgency of now. A vaccine for Lassa fever. We have worked very hard with WHO, CEPI vaccines, ACEGID, BNITM_de and many others to put this on the global health agenda. We will keep pushing.”

According to a press release by the biotechnology company, INOVIO is advancing INO-4500 with full funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership that leverages funding from public, private, philanthropic and civil society organisations to support research projects to develop vaccines against emerging infectious diseases.

INOVIO previously received a $56m grant from CEPI in 2018, under which the company is developing vaccine candidates for Lassa Fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

“INOVIO and CEPI are committed to making a vaccine available as soon as possible for emergency use as a stockpile product post-Phase 2 testing,” the press release stated.

The statement notes that INOVIO’s Phase 1B clinical trial, LSV-002, will enroll approximately 220 adult participants who are 18 – 50 years old, with the primary endpoints of evaluating safety and immunogenicity in an African population.

The dosing regimen involves two vaccinations at zero and 28 days with either 1.0 mg or 2.0 mg dosing levels. In addition to providing valuable insights on the INO-4500 safety and immunogenicity profile, this trial will inform dose selection for subsequent Phase 2 studies in West Africa.

Lassa fever is an animal-borne, acute hemorrhagic viral illness primarily observed in parts of West Africa.

Infection is spread through contact with infected rodents, as well as person-to-person transmission via bodily fluids (primarily in health care settings).

The disease can cause a range of outcomes, including fever, vomiting, and swelling of the face, pain in the chest, back and abdomen, bleeding of various parts of the body including the eyes and nose and death.

Lassa virus infection in West Africa is estimated to affect 100,000 to 300,000 people annually, and is responsible for 10 – 16 percent of hospital admissions in the region. The virus is responsible for approximately 5,000 deaths annually.

Because of difficulties in diagnosing Lassa fever, the lack of standardised surveillance assays, and the remote nature of many of the areas in West Africa where outbreaks typically occur, the numbers of reported cases and deaths are very likely significantly lower than the actual numbers of cases and deaths.

Though the majority (about 80 percent) of Lassa virus-infected persons are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, the infection can be quite serious to fatal in others. The case-fatality among patients hospitalized for Lassa fever is about 15 – 20 percent and, in some epidemics, case-fatality has reached 50 percent in hospitalized patients.

Up until now, there are no licensed vaccines or treatments specifically for Lassa fever.

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Google Says It Will Start Accepting Political Ads in US

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Google Says It Will Start Accepting Political Ads in US

Google has said it will resume accepting all political advertisements in the United States from Feb. 24.

The search giant disclosed in an email to advertisers on Monday.

Google paused all political advertisements in January when Trump’s mobs invaded U.S. Capitol.

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‘Africa Needs More Spectrum to Accelerate Digital Penetration’

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‘Africa Needs More Spectrum to Accelerate Digital Penetration’

GSM Association (GSMA), the industry organisation that represents the interests of global mobile network operators (MNOs) has called on African governments to release more spectrum licences that will accelerate Africa’s digital agenda in the era of global digital transformation agenda.

The organisation stated this in its report, even as it advised African governments to make cost of spectrum licences more affordable as a first step, should they want to continue to expand coverage and maximise the benefits from broadband connectivity.

Spectrum licence is the exclusive rights given by government to telecoms operators to use certain frequency band for a particular service delivery.

According to the report, “African countries account for a large proportion of the highest spectrum prices globally. When spectrum prices are adjusted by income, Africa accounts for about half of all the high or extremely high spectrum prices worldwide.

“Governments in Africa have assigned approximately half the amount of mobile spectrum compared with the global average. This gap in spectrum assignments has emerged and expanded over the last decade, making it difficult for operators to offer fast mobile broadband speeds. Governments in the region have also on average, licensed 3G and 4G spectrum around three years later than other regions.”

Analysing the report, Head of Africa, GSMA, Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, said licensing more spectrum earlier and at affordable prices could pay dividends for consumers.

He explained that higher amounts of spectrum and lower spectrum prices are strongly linked to higher population coverage, download speeds and adoption.

Countries that have assigned spectrum earlier have also achieved higher coverage levels, he further said.

Giving the statistics of the growth of mobile broadband services in Africa, the report stated that at the end of 2019, 477 million people in sub-Saharan Africa subscribed to mobile services, accounting for 45 per cent of the population.

Also, the rollout of mobile technology has driven a fifth of income per capita growth over the last 20 years. These are impressive numbers. But with some 900 million people in Africa still unconnected, there is more work to be done.

According to Goodluck, “Spectrum licensing decisions, and pricing in particular, play a crucial role in accelerating the adoption of mobile services and providing better networks and services for consumers and businesses.

Our new “Effective Spectrum Pricing in Africa” report is unprecedented in scope and depth, tracking spectrum assignments across nearly 50 African countries for the 2010-2019 period.”

He said the negative impacts of high spectrum prices on connectivity in Africa, were unfortunately clear to see. It is an issue that has to be addressed for the region to take full advantage of the benefits mobile broadband can bring.

Goodluck was of the view that mobile industry simply cannot be seen as cash cows anymore. Government interventions to maximise revenue, result in negative consequences for citizens in cities as well as rural areas.

He stressed the need for African governments to release more spectrum in a timely manner, which he said, would help telecoms operators to expand their network coverage, improve speeds and encourage adoption.

“The aim with our new report is to give governments and regulators the arguments they need in order to implement policies that help improve mobile capacity and expand connectivity,” Goodluck said.

The mobile market in the sub-Saharan region is expected to reach several important milestones over the next five years: half a billion mobile subscribers in 2021, 1 billion mobile connections in 2024, and 50 per cent subscriber penetration by 2025.

As highlighted in our recently released position paper on expanding mobile coverage, the key to reaching these goals are real partnerships between governments and mobile operators, Goodluck said.

He further stressed that together Africans could set the stage for more innovative mobile services and connect more people, wherever they may live, a development, he added, would bring the benefits of mobile connectivity to more millions of Africans.

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