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The miraculous antibody treatment cocktail that can help Sri Lanka combat COVID-19

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REGN-COV2, an antibody drug cocktail for the treatment of coronavirus patients by pharmaceutical giant Roche, has received Emergency Use Authorization and approval in the US, Europe, Switzerland, India and Japan. This antibody treatment was successfully administered to former US President Donald Trump after he contracted Covid-19 in October last year. The drug cocktail is projected to reduce Covid-19 hospitalizations by 70pct.

REGN-COV2 is a cocktail of two monoclonal antibodies, Casirivimab and Imdevimab, and is used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in high-risk patients. Monoclonal antibodies are two laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as a virus. Antibodies Casirivimab and Imdevimab were specifically designed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, directed to block the virus’s attachment and entry into the human cells.

Due to the distinct engineering of the two neutralising antibodies, the REGN-COV2 remains effective against widest spread variants and reduces the risk of losing its neutralising potency against any new emerging coronavirus variants.

The two-drug cocktail is to be administered for the treatment of mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults and paediatric patients (12 or older) who are at high risk of developing severe disease. High risk patients include those over 60 or those who are immunosuppressed, undergoing cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplant or having multiple illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, chronic lung or kidney disease, diabetes etc. Roche’s phase III global trial using over 4,500 high-risk, non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients, met its primary target, showing that its approved combined dose of 1200 mg (600 mg of each drug) significantly reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 70pct and also shortened the duration of symptoms within one week.

Further results showed that the cocktail reduced risk of symptomatic coronavirus infections by 81% and reduced asymptomatic patients progressing to symptomatic Covid-19 by 31%.

Former US President Donald Trump was given a higher dose of REGN-COV2 in its experimental stages back in October 2020 when he contracted the virus and was reported to have completed the infusion successfully without incident.

The cocktail has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in several countries. USA was the first to grant approval to this drug, in November 2020 where the antibody cocktail was authorised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under an EUA. This was followed by the scientific opinion of the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) in February 2021 that confirmed REGN-COV2 as a treatment option for patients with confirmed Covid-19 who do not require oxygen supplementation and who are at high risk of progressing to severe Covid-19. Switzerland also received the go-ahead by Swissmedic for distribution of the two-drug cocktail in April 2021.

India, the second worst affected country in the world, announced in early May that the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) has provided an EUA for Roche’s antibody cocktail in India and that the drug will be made available through leading hospitals and Covid treatment centres to curb the nations rising and staggering numbers of coronavirus positive cases and deaths.

Japan also confirmed that it has concluded agreements with Roche for the purchase of doses of the antibody cocktail, pending approval by health ministry, as a new effective addition to Japan’s Covid-19 treatment plan.

Experts believe that monoclonal antibodies would prove to be a game changer in the treatment of Covid-19 in the coming days and opines that the antibody cocktail drug is an excellent combination drug to check severe manifestations of the disease and the administration of it would only complement the ongoing vaccination drives in the country.



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Strong earthquake hits south-eastern Turkey near Syria border

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BBC reported that a powerful earthquake has hit Gaziantep in south-eastern Turkey, near the border with Syria.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude tremor struck at 04:17 local time (01:17 GMT) at a depth of 17.9km (11 miles) near the city of Gaziantep.

The quake was felt in the capital Ankara and other Turkish cities, and also across the region.

Reports are coming in that several buildings have collapsed, and a number of people may be trapped.

A BBC Turkish correspondent in Diyarbakir reports that a shopping mall in the city collapsed.

Rushdi Abualouf, a BBC producer in the Gaza Strip, said there was about 45 seconds of shaking in the house he was staying in.

Turkish seismologists estimated the strength of the quake to be 7.4 magnitude.

They said that a second tremor hit the region just minutes later.

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13 A: Political parties miss Ranil’s Feb. 04 deadline for submitting their proposals

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Udaya compares constitutional threat with Indonesian crisis in late ’90s

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The government hasn’t received proposals from political parties regarding President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s decision to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution fully.

President Wickremesinghe, on January 26, requested party leaders to furnish their suggestions, if any, by Feb. 04 as he intended to brief Parliament on Feb. 08 as regards the implementation of land and police powers.

Political parties, represented in Parliament, had not responded to President Wickremesinghe’s request so far, authoritative sources told The Island. Responding to another query, sources said that the President’s Office hadn’t received proposals in support of President Wickremesinghe’s declaration or against it.

Several political parties, including the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) spurned the President’s invitation.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, enacted in Nov. 1987, during Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15th, 2023, President Wickremesinghe warned party leaders on January 26 he would go ahead with plans unless the parliament repealed it. Both declarations were made in the presence of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

Sources noted that though several political parties declared opposition and some issued statements supportive of the President’s move, they haven’t submitted proposals in writing.

President Wickremesinghe prorogued Parliament, on January 27, the day after setting Feb. 04 as the deadline for political parties to submit proposals. The new session of Parliament begins on Feb. 08.Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) General Secretary, Sagara Kariyawasam, MP, told The Island that the decision to fully implement the controversial amendment shouldn’t be taken hastily.

“We are certainly not opposed to the devolution of power. However, we cannot under any circumstances support an agenda that may cause chaos,” National List MP said.

The Attorney-at-Law said so when The Island asked him whether the ruling party submitted its proposals to President Wickremesinghe.The lawmaker said that there was no requirement to do so as he on behalf of the SLPP explained to the January 26 meeting chaired by President Wickremesinghe why 13th Amendment shouldn’t be fully implemented without examining the ground situation.

“Seven past Presidents didn’t do that. Why didn’t they do so? We’ll have to study why they refrained from granting police and land powers in spite of them being part of that Amendment. If the reasons that compelled them not to do so no longer exist, we can consider the proposals,” lawmaker Kariyawasam said.

Declaring SLPP’s commitment to maximum possible devolution, MP Kariyawasam warned of dire consequences if decisions were made on the basis of language and religion.The SLPP that secured 145 seats at the last general election remains the largest party in parliament though over two dozen MPs quit the government group.

MP Kariyawasam emphasized that they couldn’t act recklessly on the issue at hand.Those who quit the SLPP parliamentary group, too, have strongly opposed the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila, MP, compared the developing crisis here with Western project that divided Indonesia in the late 90s.Attorney-at-Law Gammanpila explained how Western countries exploited the economic crisis in Indonesia to compel Jakarta to grant independence to East Timor.

Addressing a public rally at Dehiwela on Feb. 02  in support of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya contesting March 09 Local Government polls, former Power and Energy Minister said that the challenge faced by Sri Lanka owing to the continuing balance of payments and debt crises was very much similar to the circumstances leading to East Timor independence.

The 13th Amendment would split Sri Lanka on ethnic lines, the Colombo District MP warned.The MP recalled how external powers created an environment that compelled Indonesian President Suharto to resign in May 1998 to pave the way for Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri to win the next presidential election. The MP said that Sukarnoputri granted independence to East Timor.

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Gas prices up

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State-owned Litro has increased the price of domestic gas with effect from midnight yesterday.

Chairman of Litro Company Muditha Peiris said the price of a 12.5 kg domestic gas cylinder would be increased by Rs 334, the price of a 5 kg gas cylinder by Rs 135 and the price of a 2.3 kg gas cylinder by Rs 61 .The 12.5 kg cylinder is Rs 4,743.

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