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Coronavirus: Oxford University vaccine trial paused after participant falls ill – BBC News

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Final clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, have been put on hold after a participant had an adverse reaction in the UK.

AstraZeneca described it as a “routine” pause in the case of “an unexplained illness”.

The outcome of vaccine trials is being closely watched around the world.

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine is seen as a strong contender among dozens being developed globally.

Hopes have been high that the vaccine might be one of the first to come on the market, following successful phase 1 and 2 testing.

Its move to Phase 3 testing in recent weeks has involved some 30,000 participants in the US as well as in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Phase 3 trials in vaccines often involve thousands of participants and can last several years.

What have the developers said?

All international trial sites have now been put on pause while an independent investigation reviews the safety data before regulators decide whether the trial can restart, the BBC’s Medical Editor Fergus Walsh reports.

“In large trials, illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully”, an Oxford University spokesperson said.

This is the second time the Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial has been put on hold, our correspondent notes. Such events are routine in major trials, and happen any time a volunteer is admitted to hospital when the cause of their illness is not immediately apparent.

It is thought the trials could resume in a matter of days.

Stat News, the health website which first broke the story, said details of the UK participant’s adverse reaction were not immediately known, but quoted a source as saying they were expected to recover.

Where are we in the search for a vaccine?

US President Donald Trump has said he wants a vaccine available in the US before 3 November’s election, but his comments have raised fears that politics may be prioritised over safety in the rush for a vaccine.

On Tuesday, a group of nine Covid-19 vaccine developers sought to reassure the public by announcing a “historic pledge” to uphold scientific and ethical standards in the search for a vaccine.

AstraZeneca is among the nine firms who signed up to the pledge to only apply for regulatory approval after vaccines have gone through three phases of clinical study.

Industry giants Johnson & Johnson, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merk, Moderna, Sanofi and Novavax are the other signatories.

They pledged to “always make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals our top priority”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says nearly 180 vaccine candidates are being tested around the world but none has yet completed clinical trials.

The organisation has said it does not expect a vaccine to meet its efficacy and safety guidelines in order to be approved this year because of the time it takes to test them safely.

Similar sentiments have been shared by Thomas Cueni, director-general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers. The industry body represents the companies that signed the pledge.

Despite this, China and Russia have begun inoculating some key workers with domestically developed vaccines. All of them are still listed by the WHO as being in clinical trials.

Meanwhile, the US national regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has suggested that coronavirus vaccines may be approved before completing a third phase of clinical trials.

Last week it also emerged that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had urged states to consider waiving certain requirements in order to be ready to distribute a potential vaccine by 1 November – two days before the 3 November presidential election.

Although President Trump has hinted that a vaccine might be available before the election, his Democratic rival Joe Biden has expressed scepticism that Mr Trump will listen to scientists and implement a transparent process.

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TSX joins global stock market sell off as coronavirus fears refuse to go away – CBC.ca

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The TSX joined stock markets around the world in a new round of selling off Monday, as surging cases of the coronavirus reignited concerns that the economic impact of the pandemic is still far from over.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index was down by almost 400 points or more than 2.5 per cent nearing midday, as health-care companies, energy companies, mining companies, banks and even tech names were all lower.

Losses began in Asia as soon as trading opened for the week, and they accelerated in Europe on worries about the possibility of tougher restrictions there to stem rising coronavirus counts.

In New York, the broad S&P 500 was down by 84 points or 2.5 per cent, while the Dow Jones fared even worse, down almost 1,000 points or 3.5 per cent.

Bank stocks had sharp losses Monday morning after a report alleged that several of them continue to profit from illicit dealings with criminal networks despite being previously fined for similar actions.

Shares in technology companies have been on fire for the past six months, as pandemic lockdowns have caused booming demand for online services such as Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Facebook.

But tech companies have been selling off of late on fears that they have risen too far, too fast.

“Stock markets around the world are trading lower to start the week amid mounting uncertainty,” said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto. “Growing uncertainty and volatility in world markets has sparked a move of capital.”

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Global banks hit by new corruption allegations. Why authorities are unlikely to act this time – MarketWatch

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Shares of European banks fell sharply on Monday, after the release by BuzzFeed and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists of thousands of documents seemingly showing that some $2,000 billion worth of illicit funds were moved and laundered through the U.S. financial system over two decades.

– The papers show that five global banks — JPMorgan
JPM,
-4.29%
,
 HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank
DBK,
-7.96%
,
and Bank of New York Mellon — kept doing business with “oligarchs, criminals and terrorists” even after being fined by U.S. authorities for earlier failures to clamp down on dirty money. The banks themselves said they could not comment on specific transactions due to bank secrecy laws. Their statements can be found here.

– The reports are based on leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks and other financial firms with the U.S. Department of Treasury.

– Shares in British-Asian giant lender HSBC
HSBA,
-4.98%

 and the U.K.’s Standard Chartered
STAN,
-5.09%

 fell 6% and 5%, respectively, marking 20-year lows in London mid trading. HSBC said in a statement that “all of the information provided (…) is historical.”

The outlook: The report, based mostly on past behavior already fined and sanctioned by U.S. authorities, is unlikely to trigger new punishments by governments or regulators. Especially not in a moment in the deepest of the coronavirus recession, when authorities are trying to convince and subsidize banks so they can keep lending to businesses and households. And even if legal grounds did exist in a few cases for authorities to act, regulators everywhere are likely to decide that punishment by markets is enough for now.

Read: U.K. edges closer to second national lockdown to help contain second coronavirus wave

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HSBC shares plunge to 25-year low on banks report, China fears – Aljazeera.com

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HSBC Holdings Plc slumped below its financial crisis low set more than a decade ago as pressures mount on several fronts including a potential threat to its expansion plans in China.

The London-based bank’s Hong Kong shares on Monday slid below their closing low for March 2009, hitting as low as HK$29.60, as they extended this year’s plunge to about 50%. Echoing a decline in London on Friday, its Hong Kong shares are trading at the lowest since 1995.

Europe’s largest bank is a possible candidate for China’s “unreliable entity list” that aims to punish firms, organizations or individuals that damage national security, the Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reported Saturday. A day later, HSBC was among global banks named in a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on lenders that “kept profiting from powerful and dangerous players” in the past two decades even after the U.S. imposed penalties on the institutions.

“If the company is listed as a unreliable company by China, which looks certain since it’s a Global Times article, the bank will be facing lots of difficulties to do business in China,” Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment Corp., said by phone Monday. “They may have trouble expanding the mainland business, after investing so much there over the past few years.”

The bank has rankled China over its participation in the American investigation of Huawei Technologies Co. Penalties include restrictions on trade, investments and visas on companies, countries, groups or persons that appear on the list.

HSBC declined to comment on the Global Times article. In a statement Monday in response to the ICIJ report it said that “starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions. HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012.”

[Bloomberg]

Standard Chartered Plc, which was also mentioned in the ICIJ report, declined as much as 3.8% in Hong Kong. “We take our responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously and have invested substantially in our compliance programs,” the bank said Monday in a statement.

HSBC now risks being caught in deepening turmoil after a swirl of trouble over the past year amid political unrest and an economic slump in its biggest market, Hong Kong. It also faces difficulties in navigating low interest rates and surging loan losses sparked by the global pandemic.

HSBC Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn, who took over as the bank’s permanent head in March, last month issued a stark warning about tough times ahead while reporting that first-half profit halved and predicting loan losses could swell to $13 billion this year. Quinn said the bank would attempt to hasten a shakeup of its global operations, accelerating a further pivot into Asia as its European operations lose money.

Struggling to boost returns, the lender has come under fire both in the West and in China as it attempts to steer through political tension. HSBC was lambasted in the U.S. and the U.K. over its support for China’s new security legislation on Hong Kong.

A jump in income from its markets business has failed to make up for broader shortcomings, unlike at some Wall Street and European competitors. HSBC stock has fallen more steeply than most big rivals this year, with Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. posting declines of 44% and 29%, respectively.

To make matters worse, HSBC sparked anger in Hong Kong earlier this year, alienating some of its most loyal investors, after scrapping its dividend in response to the pandemic. The bank is the worst performer on the benchmark Hang Seng index so far this year.

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