Merck Collaborates with Innovative Biotech to Support Establishment of First Vaccine Production Facility in Nigeria

– Supports West African pandemic readiness program

– Accelerates self-sufficient vaccine development and manufacturing in West Africa

LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that it has signed an agreement with biotechnology company Innovative Biotech (IB) to design the manufacturing process for the first vaccine production facility in Nigeria.

Merck collaborates with Innovative Biotech to design the manufacturing process for the first vaccine production facility in Nigeria. Pictured left to right: Dr. Jose M Galarza, CEO, TechnoVax; Mr. Sohal Shah, Strategic and Financial Adviser, TechnoVax; Dr. Simon Agwale, CEO, Innovative Biotech; Dr. Andrew Bulpin, Head of Process Solutions, Life Science business sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

“We are committed to expanding access to life-saving and life-enhancing therapies to patients across the world and this collaboration is a testament to that commitment,” said Andrew Bulpin, Head of Process Solutions, Life Science business sector at Merck.  “We are proud to provide the technical support and expertise that could help enable the first vaccine facility in Nigeria and localize vaccine development in the West Africa region.”

This collaboration is part of the West African pandemic readiness program, which aims to localize vaccine development in the African nations. The first phase of this integrated partnership focuses on designing the fill and finish facility, incorporating the company’s Mobius® single-use technology, while the second phase will focus on enabling continuous manufacturing.

“By leveraging the company’s facility design expertise, we’ll be able to build the first vaccine production facility in Nigeria and manufacture high-quality and affordable vaccines locally,” said Simon Agwale, CEO of Innovative Biotech.

Innovative Biotech’s licensor, TechnoVax, is developing a virus-like-particle (VLP)-based vaccine to target variants of Covid-19. Provisional results from the preclinical studies of the VLP-based vaccine have shown promise for virus neutralization. Technovax is a 2019 recipient of Life Science’s Advance Biotech Grant for developing a virus-like particle platform that facilitates the development and production of a range of vaccines targeting the prevention of respiratory diseases, hemorrhagic fevers, immunodeficiency and cancers.

The Life Science business sector has been supporting Innovative Biotech’s effort with its BioReliance® testing services, technical transfer support and single-use facility design. This partnership showcases the company’s commitment to supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities in the Middle East and Africa.

About Merck
Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and electronics. Around 58,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2020, Merck generated sales of € 17.5 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Electronics.

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Adagio Therapeutics Reports Reduction in In Vitro Neutralizing Activity of ADG20 Against Omicron SARS-CoV-2 Variant

Previously Reported In Vitro Data Demonstrating that Individual Omicron Mutations Were Not Associated with ADG20 Escape Do Not Translate to Omicron Authentic and Pseudovirus Assays

WALTHAM, Mass., Dec. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Adagio Therapeutics, Inc., (Nasdaq: ADGI) a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of antibody-based solutions for infectious diseases with pandemic potential, today provided an update following external in vitro analyses to evaluate neutralizing activity of ADG20 against the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant. The in vitro data generated through both authentic and pseudovirus testing of the Omicron variant show a greater than 300-fold reduction in neutralizing activity of ADG20 against Omicron. Additional analyses are ongoing, and the company plans to engage with regulatory and government agencies to assess the role ADG20 can play for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, particularly as the industry’s understanding of the epidemiology and impact of Omicron and potential new variants develops.

“Due to the highly conserved and immunorecessive nature of the epitope recognized by ADG20, we anticipated that ADG20 would retain neutralizing activity against Omicron, consistent with activity observed in in vitro models with all other known variants of concern,” said Tillman Gerngross, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Adagio. “While the individual mutations present in the Omicron receptor binding domain were not associated with escape from ADG20 in the context of an original strain of the virus, new data show that the combination of mutations present in the Omicron spike protein led to a reduction in ADG20 neutralization that was not suggested by prior data. The continued prevalence of the Delta variant in the U.S. and other countries, evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants and potential future coronaviruses means a multitude of therapies and approaches are needed. With an expert team committed to advancing antibody solutions that combat this unprecedented pandemic and a strong balance sheet, we’re conducting additional analyses to assess the optimal path forward with ADG20 as both a prophylactic and treatment option for COVID-19.”

ADG20 is an investigational monoclonal antibody (mAb) product candidate designed to provide broad and potent neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2, including variants of concern, for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 with potential duration of protection for up to one year with a single injection. In previously disclosed in vitro studies, ADG20 retained activity against prior variants of concern including Alpha, Beta, Delta and Gamma. In addition, in vitro data demonstrated retained neutralizing activity of ADG20 against a diverse panel of circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants, including the Lambda, Mu and Delta plus variants. The safety and efficacy of ADG20 have not been established, and ADG20 is not authorized or approved for use in any country.

Adagio is currently evaluating ADG20 in global Phase 2/3 clinical trials for both the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Based on the in vitro findings related to Omicron, Adagio plans to pause patient recruitment in its Phase 2/3 COVID-19 treatment trial at clinical sites in South Africa, where Omicron has emerged as the dominant variant. Adagio is evaluating next steps for its ADG20 program.

In vitro analyses were also conducted on ADG10, a second mAb in development, which showed minimal neutralizing activity against the Omicron variant in both authentic and pseudovirus neutralization assays.

About Adagio Therapeutics
Adagio (Nasdaq: ADGI) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of antibody-based solutions for infectious diseases with pandemic potential, including COVID-19 and influenza. The company’s portfolio of antibodies has been optimized using Adimab’s industry-leading antibody engineering capabilities and is designed to provide patients and clinicians with the potential for a powerful combination of potency, breadth, durable protection (via half-life extension), manufacturability and affordability. Adagio’s portfolio of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies includes multiple non-competing, broadly neutralizing antibodies with distinct binding epitopes, led by ADG20. Adagio has secured manufacturing capacity for the production of ADG20 with third-party contract manufacturers to support the completion of clinical trials and initial commercial launch, ensuring the potential for broad accessibility to people around the world. For more information, please visit www.adagiotx.com.

Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “projects,” and “future” or similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning, among other things, the timing, progress and results of our preclinical studies and clinical trials of ADG20, including the timing of future program updates and the initiation, modification and completion of studies or trials and related preparatory work, the period during which the results of the trials will become available and our research and development programs; the additional and ongoing analyses to evaluate the activity of ADG20 against the Omicron variant and the potential of ADG20 to play a role as both a prophylactic and a treatment option for COVID-19; the risk/benefit profile of our product candidates to patients; and the adequacy of our cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business, clinical trials and financial position, unexpected safety or efficacy data observed during preclinical studies or clinical trials, clinical trial site activation or enrollment rates that are lower than expected, changes in expected or existing competition, changes in the regulatory environment, and the uncertainties and timing of the regulatory approval process. Other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements in this press release are described under the heading “Risk Factors” in Adagio’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2021 and in Adagio’s future reports to be filed with the SEC. Such risks may be amplified by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of this date, and Adagio undertakes no duty to update such information except as required under applicable law.

Contacts:
Media Contact: Investor Contact:
Dan Budwick, 1AB Monique Allaire, THRUST Strategic Communications
Dan@1abmedia.com monique@thrustsc.com

Regional Bureau for East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes Region – Update on GRF follow-up in the region: Tracking progress on pledge implementation

This update highlights progress made with regards to the implementation of flagship pledges in the East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) region. These important pledges were made by States, NGOs, private sector partners, and other stakeholders during the 2019 Global Refugee Forum (GRF) and focus on Burundi, Djibouti,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. In addition, key pledges made during different refugee-related events in recent years in the region are included, as well as updates on flagship initiatives, stocktaking events and publications. Many pledges made by donors and partners demonstrate the commitment across the humanitarian-development nexus towards a more equitable burden and responsibility sharing and the political will to find durable solutions.

 

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Rwanda: How training is helping women farmers grow

In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 60 percent of women are employed in agriculture and yet their potential as farmers and entrepreneurs is often limited due to gender inequalities, reduced access to farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizers and little or no access to finance.

Despite women being the largest contributors to the agricultural sector, they are often excluded from decision-making within their households and communities. The potential economic gains from reducing gender gaps in agriculture can translate into significant poverty reduction and improved nutritional benefits for rural women and their families.

In Rwanda, where nearly 70 percent of women are engaged in agriculture, the World Food Programme and partners (including fellow UN agencies FAOIFAD and UN Women) have implemented an initiative that seeks to empower rural women by reducing gender inequalities and poverty, improve food security, and enable women to be leaders, decision-makers, and agents of change.

“I used to be very shy and felt unable to talk in front of people, especially in the presence of men. Now I feel more empowered and confident,” says Marie-Rose, one of 2,000 farmers in 19 cooperatives in Rwanda supported by the rural women’s economic empowerment programme.

Agriculture in Rwanda accounts for a third of GDP and generates nearly half of all export revenues.
So farmers are taught entrepreneurial skills such as public speaking and good governance, and innovative farming skills such as grafting – a horticultural technique which joins two plants in one to make a hybrid – in addition to best harvesting practices, accessing the market and contract negotiation skills.

“My leadership skills gave me the confidence to campaign and win a seat as a member of the National Women’s Council in my district,” adds Marie-Rose. “And my grafting business has also enabled me to buy a cow and pay for my family’s medical insurance.”

Cooperative members also notice nutritional benefits for their communities and increased profits, too.

“We grow tomatoes, beetroots, carrots, cabbages and bell peppers which are sold locally says Anastasie, president of the B’impundunka-Nyagisozi cooperative which was started in 2017.

“This means that local families have access to fresh vegetables and means profits for cooperative members.”

The success of the cooperatives is inspiring others to start their own businesses.

“I saw that the chickens from cooperative members were laying many eggs and this inspired me to buy my own and start a business,” says Anastasia, a mother of six living near the Abahangudushya women’s cooperative.

I now have enough eggs to feed my children and to sell some which has enabled me to pay for my family’s medical insurance.”

WFP works with the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and UN Women to promote gender equality across all its programmes in Rwanda and provides food assistance in a manner that makes equal resources available to women and men. The Rural Women’s Empowerment programme is also implemented in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal and Niger.

 

Source: World Food Programme

Haramaya University Tree-Based Restoration Project at Dengego Mountain is said to be encouraging.

Dengego Mountain, located in Haramaya and Kersa Woredas of East Hararge Zone, is prone to severe vegetation depletion and soil erosion because of various influences.

Haramaya University is working hard on this deforested and degraded mountain by designing a tree-based restoration project in collaboration with the Federal Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission, Forest Transformation Unit and Haramaya and Kersa woredas.

According to Dr. Tesema Toru, a lecturer at the Haramaya University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and the Project coordinator; the project has conducted many activities. Some of these activities done over the last year include treating natural regeneration, protecting the mountain from animal and human contact, and consulting with the local community, conserving soil and water and mulch planting, and planting fruit trees on the farm areas outside of the mountain.

Dr. Tesema also said that now onwards, researches will be conducted on the recovered mountain and a recovery model that will be implemented as a national level after being evaluated that developed by Haramaya University. Even though the project is said to last for one year, it is hoped that the project will stay longer based on its results.  Lastly Dr. Tesema said that there are planned activities that will benefit the local community in the future and the community should work together with the project.

Mr. Alemayehu Eshete, Head of Haramaya Woreda Natural Resources, on his part, said that they are working with Haramaya University to restore the degraded Dengego Mountain. As he informed, the total area under Haramaya Woreda is 30.5 hectares. So far, soil and water conservation works such as constructing terraces, planting of seedlings, and protecting it from animals and humans for its regeneration have been carried out. As a result, the stripped hill is now said to be recovering, covered with greenery, and the seedlings are still growing.

Mr. Alemayehu added that he hopes to continue working with the University for the Success of this project and the long-term benefit of their local community as it is a work that can be a good experience and a role model for the district’s agricultural professionals.

Haramaya woreda’s agricultural experts Nibras Ahmed, Mehamed Abdurehman, Abiyot Fanta and others, in their turn, confirmed that the work done by the project so far is encouraging and can be a good lesson and input for their future work.

Explaining that they are still happy to see green plants on the mountain, Hawa Mohammed and Jamal Ame, residents of Biftu Geda Kebele in the area promised that they will take care of this development project, for they are the first beneficiaries.

 

Source: HARAMAYA University

Ethiopia Saddened By Regrettable Situation Unfolding At UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Ethiopia once again is perplexed and saddened by the regrettable situation that is unfolding at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Some in the Human Rights Council, have felt the need to call for a special session with the aim to have some sort of an outcome to achieve what seems to be a politically motivated objective, the ministry said in its statement last night.

“After months of hard work by the joint investigation team which made its findings public last month, and after the commitment expressed by the Government to implement the recommendations set forth in the report, some in the Human Rights Council, who have utter disregard for the efforts made and work done by the Government, have felt the need to call for a special session with the aim to have some sort of an outcome to achieve what seems to be a politically motivated objective.”

This, of course, is not the first time Ethiopia witnessed such unjust and counterproductive attempt by some to exert political pressure, the ministry pointed out.

“At the 47th Session of the Council, despite Ethiopian Government‘s repeated appeal for the Council to allow the joint investigation team to complete its work, these countries went on to adopt a resolution that neither involved the country concerned nor consider the call by others to withdraw the resolution.”

The statement added after the release of the above-mentioned joint investigation report, the Ethiopian government welcomed the findings and established a High-Level Inter-Ministerial Taskforce to implement the recommendations therein.

What is even more disheartening is the fact that, in the midst of these important undertakings, and with utter disregard for the work that has been done prior to the commencement of the joint investigation, some members still choose to advance their political agenda through the work of the Council.

Ethiopia therefore calls on members of the Human Rights Council to categorically reject and vote against the special session and its politically motivated outcome. What should have been a priority for the Council instead was the urgent task of carrying out an investigation into the violations of human rights and atrocities committed by the TPLF terrorist group in the Afar and Amhara Regional States.

It is unfortunate to witness that no such call has come forth from some in the Council. This has to be immediately rectified.

The Government of Ethiopia would like to assure members of the Human Rights Council and the international community of its commitment to continue to engage in a constructive manner and fulfill its obligations under international law to respect, protect and fulfill human rights.

 

Source: Ethiopia News Agency

Ethiopian UN Staffs Raise 55,000 USD to Support Rehabilitation Efforts

An Ethiopian decent United Nations (UN) staffs in various countries have been mobilizing resources to support the rehabilitation efforts and for people displaced due to the invasion of terrorist TPLF.

In a phone interview with ENA, Yonas Aketa, and a UN staff member in South Africa said those staff members have deposited more than 55,000 USD in the Rehabilitation Bank account set up by the Ethiopian government.

Yonas, who is also a coordinator of this ongoing fundraising program at the UN, indicated that the money was raised in less than five days.

As the terrorist TPLF has advanced its encroachment to Amhara and Afar regional states in early June 2021, the invader group has brought about unfolding humanitarian crises and property destructions.

In this regard, Ethiopian Diaspora have been mobilizing resources to support the conflict affected population and the reconstruction efforts in areas liberated from the terrorist group by united forces of Ethiopia.

Similarly, an Ethiopian origins UN staff members have been following the footsteps of the Diaspora to strengthen this rehabilitation and reconstruction activities of the country, Yonas indicated.

According to him, UN workers mostly in South Sudan, Uganda, Central Africa, Mali, Congo, Liberia, Haiti, Fiji and among other countries have been committed to strengthen the rehabilitation endeavors of Ethiopia both in diplomacy and economy.

“Ethiopians working at the United Nations are expressing their determination more than ever in order to reinforce their assistance to develop their country,” he said.

According to the coordinator, most of Ethiopians working under the United Nations are ready to contribute to the development of the country on a monthly basis.

 

Source: Ethiopia News Agency