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Israel tests coronavirus vaccine prototype on rodents at defense lab

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Israel has begun testing a COVID-19 vaccine prototype on rodents at its bio-chemical defense laboratory, a source said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), in rural Ness Ziona, to join the fight against the coronavirus pandemic on Feb. 1, prompting an easing of its secrecy as it cooperates with civilian scientists and private firms.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said IIBR director Shmuel Shapira had informed him of “significant progress” in designing a vaccine prototype and that the institute “is now preparing a model for commencing an animal trial”.

A source familiar with IIBR activities told Reuters that trials were already under way on rodents. The source declined to identify the kind of rodent.

The IIBR is widely assumed to have worked on biological and chemical arms projects. Israel neither confirms nor denies this.

In rare public comments, IIBR chief innovation officer Eran Zahavy said last week that the institute had shifted its entire focus to the new coronavirus, with three groups trying to develop a vaccine against the COVID-19 disease it causes, and others researching potential treatments.

“We are trying as much as we can to collaborate and have other ideas of other people,” he said at last week’s English-language online conference hosted by Jerusalem Venture Partners.

“But the facility of the lab is very crowded and very busy and very dangerous so it has to be very slow and very cautious.”

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Israel has reported 4,473 cases of COVID-19 and 17 fatalities. Having tightened restrictions on public movement, Netanyahu is weighing a lockdown of parts of the country.

Both Netanyahu and the chief of Israel’s military, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi, went into self-isolation this week after being exposed to coronavirus carriers. Netanyahu tested negative for the virus on Monday. Test results for Kohavi are pending, the military said.

Zahavy described arranging an animal test-subject as “a very big challenge” because “this disease is not affecting animals”.

“It’s not enough only to detect neutralizing antibodies in the animal. You really want

Israel has begun testing a COVID-19 vaccine prototype on rodents at its bio-chemical defense laboratory, a source said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), in rural Ness Ziona, to join the fight against the coronavirus pandemic on Feb. 1, prompting an easing of its secrecy as it cooperates with civilian scientists and private firms.

In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said IIBR director Shmuel Shapira had informed him of “significant progress” in designing a vaccine prototype and that the institute “is now preparing a model for commencing an animal trial”.

A source familiar with IIBR activities told Reuters that trials were already under way on rodents. The source declined to identify the kind of rodent.

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The IIBR is widely assumed to have worked on biological and chemical arms projects. Israel neither confirms nor denies this.

In rare public comments, IIBR chief innovation officer Eran Zahavy said last week that the institute had shifted its entire focus to the new coronavirus, with three groups trying to develop a vaccine against the COVID-19 disease it causes, and others researching potential treatments.

“We are trying as much as we can to collaborate and have other ideas of other people,” he said at last week’s English-language online conference hosted by Jerusalem Venture Partners.

“But the facility of the lab is very crowded and very busy and very dangerous so it has to be very slow and very cautious.”

Israel has reported 4,473 cases of COVID-19 and 17 fatalities. Having tightened restrictions on public movement, Netanyahu is weighing a lockdown of parts of the country.

Both Netanyahu and the chief of Israel’s military, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi, went into self-isolation this week after being exposed to coronavirus carriers. Netanyahu tested negative for the virus on Monday. Test results for Kohavi are pending, the military said.

Zahavy described arranging an animal test-subject as “a very big challenge” because “this disease is not affecting animals”.

“It’s not enough only to detect neutralizing antibodies in the animal. You really want to see them getting sick and getting better by this vaccine,” he said.

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The IIBR has a “unique animal” for such tests, he said, as well as “a very unique technology to detect animals – even if they are not really sick – to follow them and see their interaction with the disease”. He did not elaborate.

The IIBR is also involved in plasma collection from people who have recovered from infection with the new coronavirus, in the hope that this might help research.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said the IIBR was sampling several COVID-19 testing kits on offer before the country orders them en masse.

to see them getting sick and getting better by this vaccine,” he said.

The IIBR has a “unique animal” for such tests, he said, as well as “a very unique technology to detect animals – even if they are not really sick – to follow them and see their interaction with the disease”. He did not elaborate.

The IIBR is also involved in plasma collection from people who have recovered from infection with the new coronavirus, in the hope that this might help research.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said the IIBR was sampling several COVID-19 testing kits on offer before the country orders them en masse.

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Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change

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Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change
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Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change

He told them they face “the most important period in the history of the planet” as he prepares to get them to thrash out an agreement to save the world.

The PM faces an uphill struggle ahead of his summit as India, the US, China and dozens of our own allies are still failing to do enough to tackle climate change – or cough up enough cash to stop it.

Top experts slammed big beasts for dragging their heels in setting tough emissions targets to stop the planet changing beyond all recognition.

Mr Johnson turned his fire on his own pals in the G20, urging them “show the leadership the world needs” and “do our duty by others less fortunate than ourselves” to make his COP26 summit a roaring success.

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He told the Major Economies Forum yesterday they must come together with “rock solid commitments” to “protect our planet and protect humanity for a thousand years to come”.

And rich nations must “get serious about filling the $100billion pot that the developing world needs to do its bit”, he demanded, after it was revealed it was still $20billion short.

Boris Johnson Warns World Leaders They Have 1000 Hours To Tackle Climate Change

Experts at the UN said that the goals set so far this year will not close the emissions gap – meaning the world is likely to miss targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Under countries’ current pledges, global emissions will be 16 per cent higher in 2030 than they were in 2010 – far off the 45 per cent reduction by 2030 that scientists say is needed to stave off disastrous and irreversible climate change.

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Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India and China were among a handful of countries rated “critically insufficient” or “highly insufficient” by a recent climate tracker.

Even the EU, Germany and Norway were rapped as not doing enough to meet the Paris agreement goals.

The PM and President Biden will twist arms at the UN General Assembly summit in New York next week, where climate change is expected to be the number one issue on the agenda for the UK, which is hosting the global summit.

The PM and climate tsar Alok Sharma have been rallying countries to raise cash and submit new plans in the run up to the summit, where 100 world leaders have said they will attend, but efforts have been hampered by big nations dragging their feet.

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Mr Sharma said yesterday the frank reports were a “stark reminder of how urgent our work is ahead of COP26”.

He stressed: “This is a clear wake-up call for all of us – we need to act.” Downing Street said the PM was “disappointed there hasn’t been as much progress recently as there should have been”.

The Prime Minister also set out that the UK will be among the first signatories of the Global Methane Pledge, a US-EU initiative to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to levels during the 2020s.

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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials
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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

Afghanistan’s Taliban-controlled central bank said it had seized nearly $12.4 million in cash and gold from former top government officials on Wednesday, including former vice president Amrullah Saleh.

In a statement, the central bank said the money and gold had been kept in officials’ houses, although it did not yet know for what purpose.

Saleh’s whereabouts are unknown.

He has vowed to resist the Taliban, who stormed to power a month ago, and last week a family member said the Taliban had executed his brother Rohullah Azizi.

In a separate statement, the bank urged Afghans to use the country’s local Afghani currency. It comes amid growing worries that the country’s banks and firms are running short of money, especially dollars, which are widely used.

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Taliban seize $12.4m from former top Afghan officials

In a sign that the Taliban are looking to recoup assets belonging to former government officials, the central bank issued a circular to local banks last week asking them to freeze the accounts of politically exposed individuals linked to the previous government, two commercial bankers said.

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‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

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'Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,' Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss
Okonjo Iweala
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‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

The list of influential figures cut across icons, pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and innovators.

American news magazine, Time, has named Nigeria’s former minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was named alongside world leaders like United States President, Joe Biden, and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in Time’s September 15 publication.

She tweeted moments after the publication that she was ‘honored and privileged’ to have made the cover of the magazine.

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In an appraisal penned by Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, they applauded her role in campaigning for equitable vaccine access across the world.

The Archewell founders noted that the world’s hope to defeat COVID-19 through vaccines rests on the shoulders of leaders like Okonjo-Iweala.

‘Okonjo-Iweala knows how to get things done,’ Prince Harry, Meghan praise WTO boss

“Our conversations with her have been as informative as they are energising.

“This is partly because, despite the challenges, she knows how to get things done—even between those who don’t always agree—and does so with grace and a smile that warms the coldest of rooms,” the Duke and Duchess wrote.

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Okonjo-Iweala made history in March when she officially started her tenure as the WTO DG, the first woman and first African to do so.

“Vaccine inequity is the most important issue to tackle right now in this pandemic because it determines how we’re going to recover globally, and how many lives we save.

“With the variants that are mutating and the number of people dying, it is unacceptable that when you have the technology to save lives, some people don’t have access,” the 67-year-old told Time.

Wednesday’s list also had names of leaders like U.S. vice president, Kamala Harris, Indian president, Narendra Modi, as well as influential figures like Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Dolly Parton, and the Duke and Duchess themselves.

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The list of influential figures cut across icons, pioneers, titans, artists, leaders, and innovators.

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