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June 3, 2020

Corona cases rising in Russia, Eastern Europe: WHO

Top Story

June 3, 2020

Ag AFP

GENEVA/DUBA/LONDON: New cases of COVID-19 reported daily are steadily declining in Western Europe, but not in hotspots in Russia and Eastern Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a briefing: “At the moment in Europe, in Western Europe, we are seeing a steady decline. It’s not speedy but there’s a steady decline in new cases being reported daily, so that means that the number of new cases are still significant but the number is coming down except for Russia and Eastern Europe where we are still seeing the rise.”

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 380,602 people since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from the John Hopkins University.

At least 6,447,040 cases of coronavirus have been registered in 196 countries and territories. Of these, at least 2,950,812 are now considered recovered.

On Tuesday, 83,844 new cases were reported while the deadly virus claimed 3,412 lives.

Russia has reported 423,741 cases, the world’s third highest reported total, including 5,037 deaths.

Harris said that she had no information on whether talks were still taking place with the Trump administration, which announced last Friday that it was leaving the agency over its handling of the pandemic. “I have no information on whether we were formally notified,” she added.

Meanwhile, Russia has developed a promising new treatment for the coronavirus COVID-19 which it could soon trial in partnership with Saudi Arabian health experts.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund which has collaborated with the Kingdom on many investment projects, is set to unveil the new drug, Avifavir, at a virtual press conference in Moscow today (Mon).

RDIF said that the drug, which “has shown high efficacy in treating patients with coronavirus during clinical trials,” had received a registration certificate from the Russian health ministry.

Kirill Dmitriev, the RDIF chief executive, told Arab News: “We are in talks with our Saudi partners about possible supplies of Avifavir to Saudi Arabia. We shared with them the positive results of clinical trials in Russia. Our partners expressed interest in starting a clinical trial of Avifavir in the Kingdom.”

Avifavir, which disrupts the reproduction mechanisms of coronavirus, is the first Russian direct antiviral drug that has proven effective in clinical trials. The drug has been well studied, since it has been used in Japan since 2014 against severe forms of influenza, RDIF said.

Dmitriev added: “Afivavir is not only the first antiviral drug registered against coronavirus in Russia, but it is also perhaps the most promising anti-COVID-19 drug in the world. It was developed and tested in clinical trials in Russia in an unprecedentedly short period of time enabling Afivavir to become the first registered drug based on Favipiravir in the world.”

Avifavir proved to be highly effective during the clinical trials involving I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, Lomonosov Moscow State University and other medical and academic institutions, it added.

The final stage of trials on 330 patients is ongoing with the approval of the Russian ministry of health. It was developed by RDIF in partnership with Chemrar, a Russian pharmaceuticals research and development group. It is believed to be working on a vaccine against the virus which could soon be unveiled, according to Moscow sources.

While, black and Asian people in England are up to 50% more likely to die after becoming infected with COVID-19, an official study said on Tuesday, putting pressure on the government to outline plans to protect the most at-risk communities.

While the report by Public Health England (PHE) reinforced previous studies which indicated ethnic minority groups were more at risk from the virus, it was not accompanied by specific government advice for those people.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that equalities minister Kemi Badenoch would look at the issue further. “We will put action in place as soon as we can. We won’t wait for a report,” Hancock said.

Doctors, politicians and footballers have been among those vocal in expressing concern about the unexplained higher mortalities in ethnic minorities. The report said that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had approximately twice the risk of death of people who were white British.

Those of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani or other Asian ethnicity, as well as those of Caribbean or other Black ethnicity, had between a 10 to 50% higher risk of death than those in the white British group, PHE said.