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UK to begin trial of COVID-19 vaccine on patients from Thursday

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Matt Hancock, United Kingdom health secretary, says from Thursday, there will be clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on patients.

The vaccine, called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is being developed by scientists at the University of Oxford.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference, Hancock said the government was “throwing everything” at the vaccine drive.

He announced a provision of £20 million had been made for the Oxford team to help fund the clinical trials.

Hancock said an additional £22.5 million in funding will be made available for researchers at Imperial College, London.

He said the government will “back them to the hilt and give them every resource they need to get them the best possible chance of success as soon as possible”.

“In the long run the best way to defeat coronavirus is through a vaccine. This is a new disease, this is uncertain science, but I’m certain that we will throw everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine,” he said.

“The UK is at the forefront of the global effort. We’ve put more money than any other country into the global search for a vaccine. And for all the efforts around the world, two of the leading vaccine developments are taking place here at home, at Oxford and Imperial.

“Both of these promising projects are making rapid progress and I’ve told the scientists leading them that we’ll do everything we can to support them.

“And today making available 20 million pounds to the oxford team to fund their clinical trials. The team has accelerated its process working, with the regulator of the MHRA ((Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency), who have been absolutely brilliant.

“As a result, I can announce that the vaccine from the oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday.

“In normal time, reaching this stage takes years and I am very proud of the work taken so far.

“At the same time, we will invest in manufacturing capability so that if either of these vaccines safely works then we can make it available for the British people as soon as humanly possible.”

He, however, added that nothing about “this process is certain”.

“The upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it,” he said

He said on the most recent figure, 535,342 tests have now been carried out in the UK, adding that of this figure, 129,044 people have tested positive.

He said the number of patients with COVID-19 symptoms is now down to 17681, adding that 17,366 people have died in hospitals.

Sarah Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at Oxford, had earlier said the inoculation being developed by her team could be ready for use as early as September.

There is still no known vaccine for COVID-19.

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ASUU chapters at loggerheads after FG offer to end 8-month strike.

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The controversy generated by the ongoing strike between the federal government and the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is yet to abate despite the pleas from Nigerians.

The Nation reports that some branches of ASUU were divided over whether to accept the federal government’s offer and call off their eight-month-old strike. Legit.ng gathered that the union would harmonise the positions of zones and branches at a meeting in Abuja on Friday, November 27. The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, addressing the leadership of ASUU in Abuja over the strike. The report said while some branches insisted that the government must meet all the demands before the strike is called off, the union may put the decision to a vote. It was learnt that the Ahmadu Bello University branch agreed with the government on the N40 billion Earned Academic Allowance (EAA).

The branch, however, called for payment of the allowance before the strike will be called off. The newspaper noted that the lecturers at the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Delta state, said negotiations with the federal government must be concluded before the strike is called off. The chairman of ASUU at the university, Ezekiel Agbalagba, said the congress on Wednesday, November 25, accepted the EAA, but rejected the N25 billion for the revitalisation of the varsities.

He said:

“We are willing to suspend the strike, but some of those contending issues should be thrashed and thrashed once.”
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the authority of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) directed all non-teaching staff of the institution to resume work on Friday, November 27, with cutlasses, hoes, brooms, and buckets to clear overgrown grass, sweep offices as well as keep the environment clean.

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