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AstraZeneca Puts COVID-19 Vaccine On Hold

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 09 September 2020

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Nine leading US and European vaccine developers pledged on Tuesday to uphold scientific safety and efficacy standards for their experimental vaccines. Stocksy

Australia recently announced it expected first batches in Jan 2021

Security (Health) // BLUF: Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has announced that it has put its late-stage trial of its COVID-19 vaccine on hold, after a suspected serious adverse reaction in a study participant.

The suspension of the trial for the vaccine, being developed by AstraZeneca and researchers at the University of Oxford, is reportedly impacting not only the company's other vaccine trials, but also those of other vaccine developers.

Australia's Federal Government had recently announced that it was expecting to receive its first batches by January 2021, with an aim to spend $1.7 billion AUD for nearly 85 million doses.

(See Point 2 Below for Further Information)

The Daily Quick-Look for 09 September 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

FYSA = For Your Situational Awareness.

1. UNITED STATES - Security, Political: Trump will announce reduction in U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday

FYSA: President Donald Trump will announce a further drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq on Wednesday, a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday. That announcement will be followed by another one in the coming days on a further reduction in U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the official said. The decision comes as Trump, a Republican, faces blowback from a report that he allegedly made disparaging remarks about U.S. war dead. Trump is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in polls ahead of the Nov. 3 election. His announcement, and the timing of it, may be aimed at convincing voters that he is following through on promises to end what he has described as America’s endless wars. The United States has around 5,200 troops that were deployed in Iraq to fight the Islamic State militant group. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last month that the United States was expected to reduce the number of its troops in Iraq by about a third in the coming months. The United States currently has about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan. Trump said in an interview with Axios released last month that the United States planned to lower that number to about 4,000. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

2. UNITED KINGDOM - Security (Health): AstraZeneca puts COVID-19 vaccine trial on hold

FYSA: AstraZeneca has put a hold on the late-stage trial of its highly-anticipated COVID-19 vaccine candidate after a suspected serious adverse reaction in a study participant, health news website Stat News reported. It quoted an AstraZeneca spokesperson as saying in a statement that the "standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data”. The study is testing a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford researchers at sites including the United States and the United Kingdom, where the adverse event was reported. The nature of the safety issue and when it happened were not immediately known, although the participant is expected to recover, according to Stat News. The report said suspension of the trial was having an impact on other AstraZeneca vaccine trials - as well as on clinical trials being conducted by other vaccine makers. (Financial Review. See link in heading for further reading)

3. BELARUS - Political, Security: Belarus protests: Opposition leader 'tore up passport' to avoid expulsion

FYSA: A detained Belarus opposition leader prevented officials from forcibly expelling her to Ukraine by tearing up her passport and throwing it out of a car window at the border, colleagues who travelled with her have said. On Monday Maria Kolesnikova was forced into a van by masked men in Minsk. She is one of three women who joined forces to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in August's election. Mass protests erupted after the disputed vote. "She was pushed into the back seat (of the car), she yelled that she wasn't going anywhere," Ms Kolesnikova's colleague Anton Rodnenkov told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Tuesday. Mr Rodnenkov said he and another colleague had been kidnapped on Monday, driven between buildings, and interrogated with hoods over their heads and their hands tied. They accepted an offer to leave Belarus with Ms Kolesnikova but when the car reached the border she refused to cross. The two men told journalists they did not know where she was now. (BBC. See link in heading for further reading)

4. NEW ZEALAND - Political: New Zealand's ruling party plans higher tax for top earners if re-elected

FYSA: Jacinda Ardern’s ruling Labour Party said it would raise taxes for top income earners if it is returned to power in the polls next month, as the government looks to pay off debt accumulated due to its COVID-19 pandemic response. Ardern’s Labour Party, comfortably ahead in the election contest according to opinion polls, said it plans a new higher tax rate of 39% for people earning over NZ$180,000 ($118,908), which would only affect 2% of New Zealanders. “Our plan strikes a balance as we recover from COVID-19,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in Wellington. The new policy is forecast to generate annual revenue of NZ$550 million, he said. But it still puts New Zealand at the bottom third of income tax rates within OECD countries, and Robertson said the tax is lower than neighbouring Australia which has a tax rate of 47% for income above A$180,000, including a 2% Medicare levy. The highest tax rate in New Zealand is currently 33% for income over NZ$70,000. Ardern, who leads a centre-left coalition government, is riding a wave of popularity after successfully limiting the spread of COVID-19, and is predicted to win a second term in the Oct. 17 election. But economic challenges loom as the virus restrictions brought the economy to a grinding halt. “No country in the world has ever taxed itself out of recession, but Labour’s first instinct is to raise your taxes,” said opposition National Party spokesman Paul Goldsmith. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)(ABC. See link in heading for further reading)

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