Code Pharma, a Dutch pharmaceutical company, is developing a direct antiviral drug against COVID-19. Following the successful completion of a phase I study, the company is now initiating a phase II double-blind controlled study in Spain, Brazil, South Africa, and Israel. Codivir, a short synthetic 16 amino-acid peptide, derived from the HIV-1 integrase, was originally discovered at the Hebrew University in Israel.
Code Pharma discovered that the peptide had a direct antiviral effect against SARS-CoV-2, the novel Coronavirus causing COVID-19. In-vitro studies conducted at the British virology research laboratory Virology Research Services in London then demonstrated a potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and other RNA viruses.
Subsequently, a phase I clinical trial of Codivir in patients with COVID-19 was approved in Brazil by the National Research Ethics Commission (CONEP). The trial was conducted at Casa de Saúde – Vera Cruz Hospital in São Paulo, Brazil, with Dr Florentino Cardoso as the principal investigator. The results of the study showed that Codivir has a high safety profile while significantly suppressing viral replication in most of the fully assessed patients with an antiviral effect noted as early as three days. All patients recovered quickly after the treatment with Codivir and didn’t show any signs of side effects very often associated with COVID-19 infections. Manuscripts describing these results have been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.
Dr Yotam Kolben and Dr Asa Kesler, from the Department of Medicine at Hadassah Medical Center, who are the lead authors on the paper stated: “The preclinical data, and the results of the clinical trial support the safety of Codivir administration in humans and suggest its significant anti-COVID-19 effect. Using a direct anti-viral drug carries the potential for improving the current therapies available for COVID-19”.
These results indicate that the drug can be used to treat COVID-19 patients suffering at different levels of severity. Due to its direct anti-viral effect, Codivir may have a similar beneficial effect on other RNA viruses, such as influenza. Following the successful phase I study, the company is now initiating a phase II double-blind controlled study, to be conducted in Spain, Brazil, South Africa, and Israel, with a larger cohort. In view of the ongoing global pandemic, Code Pharma has submitted emergency approval requests to several countries. To answer the expected demand, the company is preparing for mass production of Codivir in different sites worldwide.
“In the first and second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, most drugs with putative or proven antiviral mechanisms of action have not proven themselves to significantly prolong life expectancy”, Prof Shlomo L. Maayan, Director Infectious Disease division at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, said. “‘Codivir’ has a very good safety profile and a very impressive antiviral effect, both in laboratory conditions and in phase I clinical trial in humans. We eagerly await the results of the double-blind studies using Codivir. It may be a breakthrough in the field of antiviral therapy for COVID-19 patients”.
About Code Pharma
Code Pharma BV is a global pharmaceutical company, headquartered in the Netherlands, with R&D activities centered in Israel. The company aims to develop cost-effective treatments for infectious and oncological diseases by using novel peptides and bring together outstanding professionals with multidisciplinary expertise in peptides, cell cultures, clinical development, and chemistry manufacturing.
With the advent of COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial has become a major concern around the world. There is significant increase in the rates of stress, anxiety and depression globally.
In creating awareness and support on mental health and psychosocial support, the Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP) hosted a virtual regional mental health and Psychosocial Support Forum (MHPSS).
The MHPSS Forum brings together stakeholders from different sectors providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support services particularly to children, youth, families and the workforce, as well as Academia, International Cooperating Partners, Community Implementing Partners and the media.
It aims to facilitate learning, information exchange and advocacy to promote mainstreaming of Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (PSS) into policies, programmes, services and funding priorities for children and youth in Botswana.
The event is a partnership between The Ministry of Local Government & Rural Development, through the Department of Social Protection (DSP), and the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI), with Project Concern International Botswana (PCI) and Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT).
The event is held every two years, and Botswana started hosting the Forum in 2014. The theme for this year is ‘Innovate, Integrate, Thrive,’ which prompts us to find new ways to survive the COVID-19 pandemic which we can mainstream into our daily activities.
The Northern Regional Forum in Mahalapye was held on 17-19 August 2021 while the Southern Regional Forum in Ghanzi, was from 21-23 September 2021. Findings from both regions will be presented at the National Forum to be held in Kasane on 12-14 October 2021. The event is held in collaboration with local authorities in each region.
The event is structured in this manner: The first day is a Special Session for Children, where children in the region will talk about the challenges they face that affect their mental health, how they cope and what they think can be done to support them.
The second day is the official opening where the lead ministry gives a keynote address, and presentations from service providers in the region. The third and last day is abstract presentations from different speakers on thematic areas under the theme.
The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) will hold a Hybrid GMES and Africa Regional workshop from 27 – 29 September 2021, at Safari Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia.
The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Initiative is a programme formed out of mutual cooperation between Africa and Europe with a focus on Earth Observation (EO) systems.
It was formed to respond to the global need to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security by providing information to policymakers, scientists, private sector and the public. GMES and Africa aims to promote development of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of Earth Observation (EO) based services on an operational basis for sustainable development in Africa.
In its first phase, GMES has funded 13 consortiums in Africa. In Southern African, SASSCAL-led consortia is implementing the Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Service for Transboundary Basins in Southern Africa (WeMAST) Project while CSIR is leading the Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MARCOSouth). SASSCAL Members of the consortium include the University of Botswana, University of Zambia, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of the Western Cape and Midlands State University, South African National Space Agency (SANSA) and the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Zambia.
CSIR led consortium includes ABALOBI, Benguela Current Convention, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Sea Rescue Institute, University of Dar Es Salaam, University of Eduardo Mondlane and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association).
The workshop will also provide an opportunity to promote and encourage mutual exchanges in terms of sharing best practices, knowledge and experiences as well as allow for the exchange of information and knowledge on new and innovative Earth Observation technologies developed under the programmes and their alignment with the region’s sustainable development strategies.
The workshop will also reveal trends in the use of earth observation data to monitor and assess wetland conditions, threats to sustainable utilisation of wetland resources as well as updating stakeholders on how climate change variability and drought is continually affecting Sub-Saharan Africa’s surface water resources.
The workshop’s envisaged outcomes will be to ensure shared knowledge and understanding of the new and innovative Earth Observation technologies, and their application to society. Expected to visit is a broader pool of international delegates from the two continents (Europe and Africa) both physically and virtual.
This includes the member countries policy makers, line ministers from the SADC countries, public and private sector stakeholders, implementers, Basin Commissions, researchers, and any other stakeholders whose activities are related to coastal areas, rivers, and their ecosystems.
Some vendors have been misled Vendors thrive on households goods and fresh produce
Despite the previous false allegations that the Tobacco Control Bill will lead to several 20 000 vendors across the country losing their jobs, several local vendors have expressed that they are ready for the bill and because vendors sell mostly household goods
“This is something that we openly accept and receive as street vendors, the problem is some of our counterparts were misled and made to believe that we will not be allowed to sell cigarettes on our stalls.
Some of us got to understand that the bill states that we have to be licensed to sell cigarettes, we are not supposed to sell them to children under the age of 18 years of age and eliminating the selling of single sticks. We understand that this agenda is meant to develop a healthy nation but not take us down,” said Mbimbi Tau a vendor who operates from Mogoditshane.
The Tobacco Control Bill has been passed in several countries and street vendors are operating properly without any challenges faced. Tau further mentioned that there is no way that the Tobacco Control Bill will affect their business operations, all they have to do as vendors are to get the required documentation and do what the bill requires.
Another vendor Busani Selalame who operates from Gaborone Bonnington North was not shy to express his support towards the Tobacco Control Bill, “the problem is that some people within our sector have been misled and now they think that the bill is meant to take our operations down and completely stop selling cigarettes.
I support the fact that we are not supposed to sell cigarettes to children who are under the age of 18 years of age this has always been wrong, as parents we should be cautious of such and ensure that our children are disassociated with cigarettes,” said Selalame.
The Tobacco Control Bill prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship by the tobacco industry to prevent messages, cues, and other inducements to begin using tobacco, especially among the youth, to reassure users to continue their use, or that otherwise undermine quitting.
Renowned economist Bakang Ntshingane is of the view that since vendors sell household goods and fresh produce they are likely to keep on making profits despite what the Tobacco Control Bill comes with. He further stated that the Tobacco Control Bill will not be of harm on the local economy since the country does not manufacture or produce any tobacco related products.