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Test makers focus monkeypox market amid hike in cases

More than 550 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported by about 30 countries since early May

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Test makers focus monkeypox market amid hike in cases
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Diagnostic companies are racing to develop tests for monkeypox, hoping to tap into a new market as governments ramp up efforts to trace the world's first major outbreak of the viral infection outside of Africa.

The scramble started last month, much like early 2020 when companies rushed to make kits to help diagnose COVID-19, creating a multibillion-dollar boon for test makers.

But demand for monkeypox tests will be a fraction of what it was for COVID, given monkeypox is not as transmissible nor as dangerous as COVID - it typically spreads through close contact and can cause flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin lesions that usually resolve on their own within weeks. read more

And unlike the sudden emergence of COVID, there are vaccines, treatments and tests that can already help curb the spread of monkeypox.

A niche new market could soften - but won't make up for - the anticipated slowing of COVID diagnostic sales as the need to test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus ebbs and concern about monkeypox grows, analysts say.

Roche (ROG.S), for instance, made 1.9 billion Swiss francs ($2.0 billion) in COVID test sales in the first quarter, and Barclays analyst Emily Field estimates the tests will generate 3 billion Swiss francs in total for the company in 2022.

"It would be very difficult for monkeypox revenues to offset this in any meaningful way," she said.

More than 550 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported by about 30 countries since early May. The majority were in Europe and not linked to travel to Africa, where the virus is endemic. Public health authorities suspect some degree of community transmission. No deaths have been reported.

Still, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said it expects infections to rise as surveillance expands and its Europe head warned the spread could accelerate as people gather for parties and festivals over the summer. read more

This outbreak is significant on the monkeypox scale, but there is not yet a need for hundreds of thousands of tests, which was the case when COVID emerged, said Daniel Bausch, senior director, emerging threats and global health security at FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics.

"This isn't going to be the next COVID ... so I don't think the needs are massive. I don't anticipate [test] supply to be an issue."

TESTING, TESTING

Some countries, including Switzerland and the Netherlands which have reported only a handful of cases, say that for now they have sufficient testing capacity for monkeypox. Britain, where nearly 200 cases have been confirmed, is working on expanding capacity.

Although researchers previously had fragmented access to the chemicals and other materials needed to conduct PCR tests for monkeypox, kits being developed by companies such as Roche theoretically allow them to have everything they need in one place to process a sample in a lab.

Kits like Roche's have not been cleared by regulators for use as a medical diagnostic – however, they are available for research purposes only.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen listed Chinese firms, including Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies, say they have added the European Union's CE mark of quality to their kits.

The regime allows test-makers to self-certify that they are complying with EU regulations, and can accordingly be sold in the region. read more

Broadly there are two types of test: PCR and antigen tests are designed to detect whether a person is currently or very recently infected, while antibody tests show whether a person has previously been infected.

The monkeypox virus is part of the orthopoxvirus family that also includes smallpox and cowpox

PCR tests are the gold standard test for the detection of monkeypox, according to the WHO, while the way antigen and antibody tests are designed makes it less likely that a positive result is definitively indicative of monkeypox.

It is unclear whether infected but symptomatic individuals can spread the virus, says the WHO, so it's not known if precautionary testing of suspected cases is needed.

However, since suspected cases are expected to isolate for up to 21 days, rapid antigen tests could be useful, given there are currently no pox virus diseases that have broadly spread across populations, said Carlos Maluquer de Motes, who runs a research group studying poxvirus biology at Surrey University.

Most diagnostic makers are focused on PCR tests for monkeypox. A few others, including Tetracore Inc, are working on rapid antigen tests.

However, caution is warranted.

"Virtually none of the kits, whether listed for research or otherwise, have gone through extensive validation," said Bausch. "It would be interesting to order all the tests that have suddenly come on the market and see what you get."

SOURCE: REUTERS

Business

PIA resumes Lahore-Kuala Lumpur flight operation

"The PIA was already operating two weekly flights from Islamabad to Kuala Lumpur."

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PIA resumes Lahore-Kuala Lumpur flight operation

Islamabad: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Sunday resumed Lahore-Kuala Lumpur flight operation after providing the same facility in Islamabad as the coronavirus restrictions eased.

“After Islamabad, the PIA has now resumed flights from Lahore to Malaysia. The first flight left Lahore for Kuala Lumpur this morning,” PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez Khan said in a news release.

On this occasion, a simple cake-cut ceremony was held at the Lahore Airport and bouquets were presented to the passengers.

The PIA, the spokesman said, was already operating two weekly flights from Islamabad to Kuala Lumpur.

He said the national flag carrier was gradually increasing the number of its domestic and international flights on special instructions of Minister for Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique.

Meanwhile, the Aviation Minister said the PIA was increasing the number of flights to different tourist destinations aimed at facilitating passengers during summer vacations.

“Now, the PIA is providing direct access to tourist destinations at home and abroad from Lahore,” Saad Rafique said.

He said flights from Lahore to Gilgit and Skardu were also being operated and “now flights to Baku and Kuala Lumpur have also been arranged.”

The minister said the purpose of these flights was to provide direct and comfortable travel facilities to the people through their national airlines.

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Pakistan

PM Shehbaz Sharif felicitates COAS on conferment of King Abdulaziz Medal

"it was a great honour for the people and the armed forces of Pakistan"

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PM Shehbaz Sharif felicitates COAS on conferment of King Abdulaziz Medal

Islamabad: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday extended felicitation to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on conferment of ‘King Abdulaziz Medal of Excellence’ in recognition for his contributions to strengthening of defence ties between the brotherly countries of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

On his Twitter handle, the prime minister said that it was a great honour for the people and the armed forces of Pakistan.

The prime minister said that they considered KSA’s security as their own and resolved to further cementing of multifaceted bilateral ties between the two countries.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, has conferred upon Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the King Abdulaziz Medal of Excellence, for making significant contributions in defence cooperation between the two countries.

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a press release on Sunday said that during an official visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the COAS called on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Chief of General Staff (CGS) Saudi Armed Forces General Fayyadh Bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili at Jeddah.

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Int’l Day in support of Victims of Torture being observed today

The day serves as a reminder to people that torture is a crime

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Int’l Day in support of Victims of Torture being observed today

Islamabad: Intentional Day in support of Victims of Torture is being observed today across the globe including Pakistan to remind people that human torture is not only unacceptable but it is also a crime.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is an international observance held annually on 26 June to speak out against the crime of torture and to honour and support the hundreds of thousands victims and survivors across the world.

On June 26, 1987, the convention against torture came into force. It was an important step in the process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging that torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should be universally illegal. In 1997 the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated June 26 each year as the international day in support of victims of torture.

The first International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was held on June 26, 1998. It was a day when the United Nations appealed to all governments and members of civil society to take action to defeat torture and torturers everywhere.

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