Russian fund steps up production of anti-viral drug approved by Moscow for COVID-19

first_imgRDIF said it was now set to produce more than 100,000 courses in July and that a joint venture with pharmaceutical firm ChemRar Group would allow it to increase production threefold to meet growing demand both domestically and internationally.Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said Russia was ready to help other nations fight the virus and that more than 50 countries had expressed their interest in the drug.There is now no vaccine against COVID-19. The inexpensive anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone has been shown to reduce the death rate in severe cases, and the anti-viral drug remdesivir has been shown to speed recovery. Nearly all the world’s supply of remdesivir was bought by the United States.Russia said on Thursday it had recorded 6,760 new cases of novel coronavirus infection in the last 24 hours, in line with figures in recent days. That brought its confirmed total to 661,165 cases, the third highest in the world after Brazil and the United States.After imposing a strict lockdown, the authorities have largely lifted restrictions on movement and business, despite thousands of new cases a day. International flights remain banned, however, and RBC business daily reported that this would be extended until Aug. 1. Topics : Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said on Thursday it will step up the production of the anti-viral drug Avifavir, an anti-influenza medicine which the Russian government has granted preliminary approval for treatment of COVID-19 patients.The Russian health ministry gave its approval for the drug’s use under a special accelerated process in May. Its Russian backers say it has shown a benefit in COVID-19 patients in early research.The first 100,000 treatment courses were delivered last month to 35 Russian regions, as well as to neighboring Belarus, said the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) which has promoted the drug.last_img read more

German pension equalisation changes likely to hinder providers

first_imgAccording to the new draft of the Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, pension providers can demand the external splitting, without the consent of the person entitled to compensation, only “if certain value limits are not exceeded”.The values of “several components” of occupational pensions will have to be summed up with an eye on the limits.“This limits the scope of application of the external division,” Hufer said, noting that it will lead to an increase in internal divisions, administrative efforts and costs for company pension providers.A company pension provider must include the person entitled to compensation in its own pension scheme with the internal division.Klaus Stiefermann, managing director at Aba, the German occupation pension association, agrees: “The changes will make occupational pensions more expensive for companies and pension schemes, adding further burdens, and it is demotivating for the companies.”The draft law tends to grant the interests of persons entitled to compensation “to a very large extent,” he said, adding that its goal is to close “justice gaps at the expense of the providers”. The draft law for the German government to reform the pension equalisation mechanism in case of divorce – Versorgungsausgleich – will likely make pensions providers work harder.“The changes mean more administrative work and thus higher costs for pension providers,” Andreas Hufer, associate director retirement at Willis Towers Watson, told IPE.Employer-funded pension schemes will become more expensive and more complicated, he said, adding that the goal of the government to promote a wider spread of occupational pensions does not match the proposed reform.The Pension Equalisation Act, Versorgungsausgleichsgesetz, was the target of major structural reform in 2009. It foresees an external and internal division of pensions benefits in the event of a divorce to ensure a fair share of pension assets earned during a marriage for the couple. Andreas Hufer, Willis Towers WatsonLimiting the scope of the external divisions can also have an impact on potential positive returns.“Persons entitled to equalisation can receive a higher pension benefit as a result of the external division, compared to an internal division, if choosing the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (DRV), [the administrator of state pension scheme], as the target pension provider,” Hufer said.A person entitled to compensation can lose up to a maximum of 10% of their pension benefit with an external splitting compared to the internal division.But the constitutional court, Bundesverfassungsgericht, ruled that losses caused by the transfer of company pension benefits after a divorce through so-called “external divisions” can be unconstitutional.The reform would also contradict the principles discussed at the time of the structural reform in 2009 relating to reducing the burden for providers, Stiefermann said.“This is not reflected in the increasing complexity, which is also due to the changes proposed in the draft bill,” he said.For Hufer, not only the principle of “burden-neutrality” on pension providers fails with the new bill, but also the costs for compiling information for family courts will double.The new law foresees that the person entitled to equalisation has the option either to accept the value of the equalisation at the time of divorce, receiving a reduced but individual entitlement, independent from the person liable for compensation, or can claim equalisation after divorce.The mechanism of a division based on a capital value in the current law is structurally designed to avoid a further burden on the pension provider, “but a second equalisation mechanism is not”, Hufer added.“A different set of information is required for the two mechanisms. As a result, the pension providers have to do more work to provide information to a family court,” he said.Further changes to Versorgungsausgleichsgesetz have been discussed following the major structural reform in 2009, through a panel of experts in 2017, Stiefermann explained.“Some of the suggestions made there are reflected in the draft. Most of the content in the draft law is thus not surprising, but what was surprising is the timing of the draft: There was no forewarning.” he concluded.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here.last_img read more

Most women want lower abortion limit, poll finds (UK)

first_imgMy Christian Daily 25 May 2017Family First Comment: Interesting results from a poll in the UK. “According to the poll, only one per cent of respondents support the abortion limit being raised to birth – something being pushed for by one of Britain’s largest abortion providers, BPAS. Almost nine in ten supported a woman’s “legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision”.An overwhelming majority of women want the abortion limit lowered, and 65 per cent of Britons say using taxpayer money on abortions abroad is wrong, according to a new poll.The findings also revealed that almost 80 per cent of people support a five day ‘consideration period’ before an abortion, as is the case in the Netherlands.Nearly nine in ten people believe sex-selective abortions should be explicitly illegal.Independent counsellingThe poll was commissioned by the Where do they stand? group which encourages people to find out politicians’ views on issues including abortion, assisted suicide and embryo research.In Great Britain, abortions generally can take place up to 24 weeks but disabled children can be aborted up to birth.According to the poll, only one per cent of respondents support the abortion limit being raised to birth – something being pushed for by one of Britain’s largest abortion providers, BPAS.Almost nine in ten supported a woman’s “legal right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision”.Lower abortion limitResults from the poll included:• 70 per cent of women want the current time limit for abortion to be lowered;• 60 per cent of respondents think the abortion limit should be reduced to 20 weeks or below;• 21 per cent believe it should be lowered to 12 weeks;• 65 per cent oppose taxpayer money being spent on abortions overseas;• 84 per cent of women want improved pregnancy support for women in crisis;• 76 per cent of Britons want doctors to verify that women are not being coerced into abortion;• 70 per cent of parents want the introduction of parental consent for girls who are 15 and under;The poll was carried out by ComRes which questioned 2,008 British adults online between 12th and 14th May 2017. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults. up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

Caribbean looks ahead to stave off fresh water scarcity

first_imgNewsRegional Caribbean looks ahead to stave off fresh water scarcity by: – March 14, 2012 Tweet Sharing is caring! Share Sharecenter_img 14 Views   no discussions Share Potworks Dam is the largest freshwater lake in Antigua, holding about one billion gallons of water. / Credit:Desmond Brown/IPSROSEAU, Dominica, March 14, 2012 (By Desmond Brown) – Two years after a severe drought wreaked havoc with a number of Caribbean countries, some are now adopting new strategies in a bid to prevent a repeat of a situation where countries were rationing water and imposing strict restrictions on residents.“We have embarked on a programme geared towards management of the catchment areas, which includes preventing deforestation, agricultural activities and use of chemicals in protected areas and overall limiting human activities in protected areas,” said Bernard Ettinoffe, general manager of the Dominica Water and Sewage Company (Dowasco).He told IPS, “We have also embarked on educational programmes at the schools and community levels aimed at raising awareness of the need for conservation of water resources and more recently have begun giving consideration to an Integrated Water Resource Management Approach to the management of land and water resources.”Ettinoffe said Dominica, like many other countries, has seen some decline in water levels in rivers and streams, but that the island, also known as the nature isle, still boasts of an abundance of good quality fresh water.“Whereas measures are being taken to preserve the resources for future generations, the risks of no water or even inadequate supplies for decades to come is minimal,” Ettinoffe said.The neighbouring twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda is reporting higher than normal rainfall over the past 12 months.“Our surface water resources are at max capacity,” Ivan Rodrigues, water manager of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), told IPS.But in spite of the higher than normal rainfall, an Antiguan meteorologist has expressed concern that not enough rainwater is being caught.“I have always believed that we need additional surface storage so that we can capture and keep more of the rainfall that we do get,” said Keithley Meade, director of the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological Services.“The rainfall mostly does not even get to the aquifers (water stored in the ground), since the runoff is pretty fast. This is one area where I think we should have improved and still need to do so,” he told IPS.Even with their increased focus on water management, financial constraints will prevent representatives of the tiny islands in the Caribbean from attending a major gathering next week to discuss this vital commodity – the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France from Mar. 12-17.Despite their absence though, Caribbean countries say they will be keeping a close eye on the meeting, which has set the ambitious target of going down in history as the forum that will bring solutions to water, based on openness and exchange.“DOWASCO will certainly be keeping an eye on the meeting and will be looking forward to reviewing the findings and recommendations,” Ettinoffe said, noting particular attention would be paid to the issue of climate change.“Climate change and climate variability is as real to Dominica as to many other countries. We are experiencing more intense rainfall and also occasional drier spells, both of which come with their own challenges which must be managed.“More intense rainfalls result in siltation of streams and rivers and greater need for water treatment and even the need to shut the supply down at times. During drier periods, there is always need for caution and conservation,” he added.Salinisation of fresh groundwater is yet another concern for Caribbean islands.“Both Antigua and Barbuda are small islands. Our well fields are close to the coast, hence the salinisation of this resource (by over exploitation or rising sea levels) is a major concern,” Rodrigues said, noting “our plans include artificial recharge, reducing exploitation in some areas, seeking inland resources, and improving monitoring systems.“We have also installed additional desalination capacity on Antigua and we are in the process of doing the same for Barbuda,” Rodrigues added.But he said the additional desalination capacity will not meet present needs of a country which presently utilises 20 percent surface water and 10 percent groundwater.Programme Director at the St. Lucia-based Caribbean Environmental Health Institute Professor Christopher Cox says sea level rise and salinisation is a concern in other parts of the Caribbean as well.“We know in The Bahamas, in Barbados and in St. Kitts that the coastal aquifers, where you have over-abstraction, it sucks up the salt water component into the fresh water so the fresh water sits on top of the salt water,” he told IPS.“What happens is that as you draw more fresh water it actually pulls in the salt water with it. If you get sea level rises, the saline interface with the fresh water will rise also, or move further inland so that means it’s more likely that your wells will be intruded with salt water.”Cox said the Caribbean is very vulnerable in terms of its fresh water resources, noting that the human influences were to blame.“It’s not only about clearing trees but you reduce water availability when you pollute the water. For example, in the case of Antigua, we’ve heard that there is a lot of land use conflicts and some of the reservoirs are receiving direct contamination from households and other types of activities whether it be agriculture or commercial enterprises.”He also pointed to problems with water availability in rural areas of St. Lucia, Jamaica and Trinidad.Cox said juxtaposing these situations with the climate change issues, where it is being forecast that the Caribbean region, particularly the Eastern Caribbean, could see declines in average annual rainfall by between 30-50 percent, the dry seasons will become more intense and result in problems with water supply.He said Caribbean governments are slowly coming around to the whole concept of Integrated Water Resources Management, with Jamaica being the most advanced in this regard.“Governments are slow to put in place strong polices for protection of water resources. The big problem is that people in the Caribbean think water is free.“But there is a cost to get it to the stage where it does not constitute a health risk. In the Caribbean, water is not given the level of importance it deserves,” he told IPS. Caribbean 360 Newslast_img read more

Iloilo City is ‘ASEAN Clean Tourist City’

first_img“This warms my heart because having aclean city for my beloved Ilonggos and for tourists to feel safe is what I haveworked hard for these past five months in office,” said Treñas. “Truly we arelevelling up and we couldn’t have done this without everyone’s help.” Treñas will receive the award inbehalf of the city on Jan. 16, 2020 from the Association of Southeast AsianNations at the Empire Hotel and Country Club, Bandar Seri Begawan, BruneiDarussalam. The city government recentlyestablished “green guards” to protect city parks, plazas and public areas. ILOILO City – “This warms my heart.”Mayor Jerry Treñas was referring to this city bagging the ASEAN Clean TouristCity Award 2020-2022. center_img It also reactivated its beautificationteam and Task Force Boltahe to fix broken street lights./PN The award is given to cities that haveendeavoured to beautify their public spaces, improved the environment andsanitation, enhanced urban spaces and promoted man-made and naturalattractions, according to Rebecca Villanueva-Labit, director of the Departmentof Tourism’s (DOT) Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation.last_img read more

Whelan defends McManaman

first_imgWigan chairman Dave Whelan has defended forward Callum McManaman after his horror tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara in Sunday’s 2-1 victory. Press Association The 21-year-old, on his first Premier League start, escaped punishment from referee Mark Halsey for the knee-high challenge which resulted in the Magpies defender being carried off on a stretcher, but Whelan believes it was an accident. “The ball was there and McManaman got the ball as clear as a whistle, then followed through and they collided,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live. “The referee was 15 yards from the tackle. I don’t think his view was blocked. He had a clear view. I had a clear view in the stands. He hasn’t gone over the ball. That’s an accident. There is not one ounce of malice in (him).” center_img Whelan added: “He is an enthusiastic young boy. He has got great prospects. He was very upset by it all.” The Latics chairman had his leg broken in the 1960 FA Cup final while playing for Blackburn and the injury cut short his career. “When I broke my leg in the cup final it was exactly the same type of tackle,” he added. “We both went for the ball. It brought back memories. It ruined my career. I am not going to criticise Norman Deeley. “These things happen in football. He came over the ball but he didn’t do it with the aim of breaking my leg.” last_img read more

Di Canio gets tough on players

first_imgSunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has vowed to get tough with any player who ignores his ban on bringing mobile telephones into the dressing room. “For 25 days I accepted this, because my first priority was to work on the field. However, I’ve said that from now if someone comes inside with a mobile phone, even in their bag, I’ll throw it in the North Sea. They’re banned. “I say that because it’s not acceptable. I’ve told the players that I’ve adapted to them and been lenient, but I’ve also told them what is and isn’t possible in a new environment.” Di Canio has overhauled his playing staff this summer after leading Sunderland to safety last season, and now he intends to ensure they take care of what they eat and drink, to guarantee they are at a physical peak. He added: “We need to have lectures about why we can’t have everyday things like mayonnaise, ketchup and Coke. “Even coffee can be a problem. You can have one when you get up, but not an hour before you go out training or playing. We give the players diet sheets to follow. “Obviously, you have to enjoy life. I won’t say anything if one day you like to go and have a cheeseburger. “I ban my daughter from going to places like that, but I know sometimes she goes because she enjoys it and because it’s typical of a student. It is all right, but not as a habit.” And the Italian, whose side begin their Barclays Premier League campaign against Fulham, has also warned his squad they must be wise with their diets to ensure their professionalism is not compromised. He told the Daily Telegraph: “This is a complete revolution. We’ve focused on changing the whole dressing-room environment. Imagine if for years your habit is to use the phone when you’re having a massage on the bed, even one minute before going out to train? center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Scudamore books Carberry for Dude

first_img Scudamore, who was hosting the press and other media at his Ross-on-Wye yard on Wednesday morning, said: “Paul is going to ride and I’m very happy to have him. “Someone with Paul’s skill, experience and craft is not a bad man to have on board.” Carberry, who won the world’s greatest steeplechase in 1999 on Bobbyjo, trained by his father, Tommy, was in the saddle when giving Monbeg Dude a fine waiting ride as Scudamore recorded his biggest training success to date in last season’s Coral Welsh National. Carberry has partnered the nine-year-old on two other occasions, most recently when the combination finished fifth in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster. Press Associationcenter_img Michael Scudamore has secured the services of Paul Carberry for Monbeg Dude in the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday week.last_img read more

T20 series win against Sri Lanka would boost  confidence – Simmons

first_imgKANDY, Sri Lanka (CMC) – A victory for West Indies in the T20I series against Sri Lanka starting today will be just what the team need to go into their next assignment with much-needed confidence, says head coach Phil Simmons.The Caribbean side will be going up against the South Asian side here at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, just days after being whitewashed in the three-match ODI series.Speaking ahead of the two-match T20 series, Simmons said victory in today’s and Friday’s games will be a boost for the squad.“I think it will help us to gain confidence as a nation. West Indies cricket has always thrived on winning and if we win the series it takes us into the next series in a confident mode, so that’s the way we have to look at it – take it series by series,” he said yesterday.“Preparation has been good. We had training up to yesterday and everyone looked sharp and ready to go.”West Indies will be strengthened in the series with the inclusion of all-rounders Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo as well as Shimron Hetmyer in the 14-man squad.Russell was recalled after having not played for the side since being ruled out of the 50-over World Cup in June 2019.Hetmyer had been left out of the ODI squad after failing a fitness test.“He’s fit,” Simmons said of the left-handed batsman. “He passed the test and he has been here looking good and batting well. It’s good to have him join back the squad, so we look forward to what he produces tomorrow.”Oshane Thomas, who recently survived a car accident, is also on the team which is led by Kieron Pollard.Today’s game will be significant for the Windies skipper, as it will be his 500th T20.Simmons described that as “an amazing feat for someone who has had two knee reconstructions and other injuries”.“For him to still come back from those and get to 500 is enormous and something that he needs to be proud of,” the coach said.Pollard has accumulated 9 966 runs in the format so far and another 35 will make him the second player to score 10 000 T20 runs, after Chris Gayle who has made 13 296.West Indies and Sri Lanka have faced off only once in a bilateral series in the T20I format – a two-match series in 2015 in Sri Lanka which ended in a 1-1 draw. And West Indies have not won any of the five T20I series they’ve played since the start of last year.They lost all four series played in 2019 and drew the recent T20I series at home against Ireland 1-1, and only won three of the 15 matches they played across those five series.Looking ahead to the ICC World Cup which will begin in Australia in October, Simmons said the West Indies’ encounter with Sri Lanka this week will be a part of the two-time champions’ preparations for the big event.Although acknowledging that Windies would not be considered favourites going into the tournament, given their number 10 position in the ICC rankings, he said preparation is key.“I think we need to start our preparation from now and we need to build up how we want to play in the World Cup and start putting together a squad for the World Cup from now.“We still have about 12 or 13 games before the World Cup so I think that’s enough time for us to put together the right squad and with the experience we have in T20 cricket, it won’t be as hard as the ODI series,” Simmons said.West Indies Squad for two-match T20I series v Sri Lanka: Kieron Pollard (c), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams.last_img read more

Let Mel Kiper do scouts’ dirty work

first_imgThe NFL Draft represents one of the most compelling paradoxes in sports.It is widely acknowledged that for any professional football team to succeed, finding pieces both big and small fresh from the collegiate ranks is the No. 1 way to keep your record titled toward the left-hand column. Just look at the Washington Redskins, a poster-child for “winning” free agency every year and then losing when the games actually count. If you need further proof, just look at the Lions’ failed drafts under Matt Millen. Just trust me, you really, really, really need to score players through the draft.It is also widely acknowledged, however, that the NFL Draft is a crapshoot.And this isn’t just a clich? either. Based on my unscientific calculations from a three-year sample from the first rounds of the 2003, 2004 and 2005 drafts, 23 of these first rounders would qualify as stars, 38 would count as role players and 35 can be tagged as straight-up busts. Some may quibble with certain players on either lists, but the exact number is not important.What matters is that this is a crazy discrepancy for what is supposed to be the easiest round in the draft.Thirty-six percent of all players chosen in the very expensive first round end up being completely worthless, and wasting these picks often set franchises back years (See: Charles Rogers and Mike Williams). Only 23 percent live up to the billing as players to build around. The other 41 percent end up somewhere in the middle.Now this is the point where I am supposed to make fun of scouts. And I do have one joke.JaMarcus Russell.But taken more seriously, this doesn’t seem to be the difference between good scouts for some teams and bad scouts for the Browns and Lions. No one team has dominated the draft year after year. Nobody has figured out a way to scout quarterbacks, the most important position in any sport. Although the results appear extremely mediocre, it is hard to blame the whole profession for sucking.And herein lies the paradox. The NFL Draft remains the best way to build a winning team. The NFL Draft also remains completely unpredictable.So what to do about this enigma? Some general managers probably invest more resources in scouting, figuring the more information the better. Others probably try scouring past drafts to look for subtle trends indicating future success for their soon-to-be rookies. Others probably just drink a lot more.What is certain in all of these attempts though, is NFL general managers are looking for an edge, any kind of edge that will set them apart from the other 31 teams.So let me offer up a humble suggestion.Fire the entire collegiate scouting department. Clean house. Give them a nice severance package to prove you aren’t heartless, but let them know their services are no longer needed.Why would a smart GM do this?Because he has someone else just as productive as all of the scouts in the organization, only he can be employed for $6.95 a month.He is of course, ESPN draft Guru Mel Kiper Jr.Now, this isn’t an endorsement of Kiper’s scouting abilities. He is just as mediocre as any NFL scout out there.But that is they key. He provides the exact same services. He is no better, no worse.Looking at the same first round as before from 2003-2005, Kiper falls in line almost identically with NFL franchises. Of the 96 first round picks, Kiper had 88 percent of the rookies ranked in the top 30 players on his “Big Board.” Of the 12 percent he differed, Kiper suggested E.J. Henderson, Jason Witten, Eric Steinbach and Darnell Dockett would be smart first-round picks. NFL franchises disagreed. All five have proven to be pretty good professional football players.So why pay a scouting department millions of dollars a year when Kiper provides the exact same pedestrian results? Even if you don’t like Kiper, there is young sidekick Todd McShay to help you out. Or Don Banks. Or Peter King.Because it appears pretty obvious at this point scouting is little more than a guessing game. Look at a player’s college stats. Look at his combine results. Look at what Kiper/McShay are saying about him and that is all you probably need to know.More importantly, with the money and time normally allotted to scouting freed up, NFL teams could employ these resources in a more effective manner — the edge every general manger is looking for.Now I don’t know exactly where this newfound check worth several million dollars should go. Perhaps to more intensive coaching. Focus more on developing players already in your system than on players who might fit it. Hire a specific “rookies” coach to help ease them in to the pro game. Maybe the money should be given to a couple football geeks from MIT. Tell them to develop a gimmicky offense specifically tailored to your team’s personnel. The Wildcat gave the Dolphins a tremendous boost, so why can’t some computer nerds figure out a similar jolt of energy for your team?Of course, this idea will remain just that — an idea. For the same reason coaches often punt on fourth-and-1 despite mountains of mathematical evidence suggesting going for it is usually the better strategy. General managers and coaches are much more concerned about not looking like idiots than trying anything it takes to win. They want to succeed, just in a conventional, criticism-free way.Football scouting remains a mystery. Why fight it? Let Kiper do your work for you, and put the extra money and time to figuring out a way to improve your team next season while others are wasting time debating whether it matters if Jimmy Clausen is a cocky jackass.Michael is a senior majoring in journalism. Think he is crazy? Let him know at read more