A vaccine with the potential to stop HIV infecting cells is set to be launched in Kenya with the clinical human trials starting in July 2019.
According to an announcement made by a group of scientists on Friday, June 14, the recruitment for the promising trial would begin in the next three weeks.
The new vaccine will apply a ‘block approach’ in stopping HIV from attaching itself onto cells, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T-cells which forms part of the immune system.
The clinical trial has been codenamed IAVI W001 trial.664gp140. W001 and will test a vaccine candidate dubbed BG505 SOSIP — a molecule cloned to look exactly as the HIV one.
The director of Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), Omu Anzala, said the trials will be tested on HIV-negative Kenyan volunteers to check for safety and efficacy, Daily Nation reported.
“This is phase one of the first human trial for this vaccine and over the next one-and-a-half years, the trial will seek to answer questions on how safe the vaccine is and how well it can induce the human body to produce antibodies that can neutralise HIV,” said Anzala.
“The candidates (HIV-negative), will get three shots every month for the first three months … and then we will start to keenly follow them up … to see did it work or not,” he explained.
This was after the trial vaccine showed promising results by causing production of antibodies that neutralised a HIV-like virus during animal testing.
Senior research scientist at the International Aids Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) who developed the molecule BG505 SOSIP. 664gp140, said it belongs to a new generation of immunogens molecules.
Elise Landais said that the molecules are capable of causing an immune response in the body called nativelike trimers.
They induce broadly neutralising antibodies with capacity to attack the HIV virus in the body upon detection.
“So BG505 SOSIP. 664gp140 is the molecule that will be put in the test candidates by vaccination,” said Dr Landais.Loading...
“This is the first time we’re trying anything like this. Before the molecule, we were working with HIV products that we discovered recently weren’t very good at achieving the desired results,” she added.
But the scientist claimed they now know the right shape of the molecule that sits on the HIV virus and hence this trial.
Before, the scientist were looking at a certain shape of immune cells that were killing the infected ones.
This time round they are focusing on activating cells that are going to produce antibodies that will actually block the virus even before it infects the cells.
“So instead of coming after the infection has already happened, we are trying to block its pre-infection. All the products we had before couldn’t activate this kind of response because it did not have the right shape,” she said.
Anzala also said this is a new product and that previously, they used products that elicit T-cells, but this particular product is eliciting humoural immunity or B-cells that will give broad and potent neutralising antibodies.
The researchers spoke during a scientific talk at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences’ KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research.
Relevant infrastructure and technology transfer for the trial had been concluded at the site.
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Tanzania’s earnings from agencies cause disquiet among EAC partners
The East African Community needs to address the disproportionate gains that Tanzania gets from hosting most of the trading bloc’s agencies, particularly Dar es Salaam’s 73 per cent earnings from the $31.5 million annual average budget of the organs.
All EAC partner states contribute equally to the bloc’s budget through annual subscriptions.
A new report by the EAC secretariat has revealed that Tanzania earns $23 million from hosting five of the eight EAC organs, much more than Kenya, which earns $4 million, Uganda $3 million, Rwanda $1 million, and Burundi which receives $500,000.
The report, however, notes that Kenya gains the most from trade within the EAC, earning $38 million annually, followed by Uganda ($22 million) and Tanzania ($15 million).
Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan make net losses from trading with the region, according to the draft report titled Equitable Sharing of Benefits and Costs of EAC Integration Process.
“Given the current reality and lessons from the former EAC community, which collapsed mainly as a result of unequal share of benefits, there is a need to share the costs and benefits in a fair and equitable manner for sustainability of the EAC Community which generates far more benefits than the costs,” states the draft report.
It further states that provisions in the EAC Treaty such as equal contribution to the EAC budget “may no longer be sustainable given the huge differences in population size and GDP of partner states”.
The draft report, which is yet to be approved and adopted, proposes a review of the formulae for equitable sharing of costs and benefits.
Tanzania’s benefits from the five organs that it hosts come from local employment, rent income and supplies. The five are the secretariat, the East African Court of Justice, the East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Kiswahili Commission, and the Competition Authority.
Uganda hosts the East African Development Bank, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, the Inter University Council of East Africa, and the Safety Oversight Agency.
Kenya hosts the Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Rwanda the East African Science and Technology Commission and Burundi hosts the EAC Health Research Commission.
The study was commissioned after the EAC Council of Ministers at its 18th meeting held in Arusha on September 4, 2009, observed that to actualise the fundamental and operational principles of the EAC required equitable distribution of benefits accruing to or to be derived from operation of the Community.
The EAC secretariat, in an interview on Friday, insisted that the draft report is yet to be finalised and could not therefore publicly discuss its findings.
“This [the earnings by Tanzania] is the percentage of gains from hosting EAC organs and institutions only. It does not include gains from trade where Kenya benefits most,” said Aime Uwase, the EAC principal planning and research officer in a response.
Further studies are ongoing to quantify other benefits from hosting and implementing various protocol provisions under the Customs Union and the Common Market, according to Wilberforce Mariki of the EAC secretariat.
The EAC, initially made up of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, broke up in 1977 after the then-socialist Tanzania complained that capitalist Kenya was benefiting more than the other two partners.
Other issues that caused the collapse included Kenya’s demand for more seats than Uganda and Tanzania in decision-making organs, and disagreements with Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who demanded that Tanzania as a member state of the EAC should not harbour forces fighting to topple his government.
The disparate economic systems of socialism in Tanzania and capitalism in Kenya also contributed to the fall.
Kenya had a more developed manufacturing sector than Tanzania and Uganda, resulting in large income transfers from Dar es Salaam and Kampala.
The report observes that regional integration, by its very nature, creates imbalances in gains if partner states do not take effective measures to maximise the prospective and potential benefits and minimise costs.
The overall objective of the study was to assess whether there is equitable sharing of costs and benefits of the EAC integration so far, and provide a remedial mechanism where possible.
The study suggested that EAC institutions and organs allocate jobs equitably and sustainably as per the Treaty provisions as integration deepens.
The study also suggested that job distribution should be proportional to partner states’ contribution to the EAC budget.
High profile and technical jobs should be competitively awarded, and others should be rotational and allocated on a quota basis.
The study suggests a review of the current system of equal contribution to the EAC budget by partner states, given that they are structurally different in terms of GDP, imports, exports to the region and population.
It suggests that partner states can contribute based on their capacity to pay as represented by GDP. This mode of financing has been successfully used by the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, and the Organization of American States.
Partner states with bigger economies and population are seen to benefit more, or the impact of integration could be higher in bigger economies than smaller ones. But sharing costs based on GDP remains a parameter that relatively satisfies the principle of solidarity, equity, balance and mutual benefit.
The partner states’ contribution to the 2018/19 total budget was $56,245,162 (56 per cent of the total budget) through the respective ministries of EAC Affairs ($50,227,920), the ministries responsible for education ($4,466,210) and ministries responsible for fisheries ($1,551,032).
Development partners will contribute $42,925,613 to the budget, and member universities will give $333,970. The miscellaneous revenue is pegged at $265,971.
The percentage contribution to the budget by EAC partner states has been increasing over time. It increased from 10 per cent in 2011/12 to 56 per cent in 2018/19.
The analysis of contribution per capita shows a big gap, from $0.94 (Burundi) to $0.19 (Tanzania).
As a result of reforms, trade within the EAC has increased. Intra-EAC trade was $1.7 billion in 2005, rising to $3.5 billion in 2013 and falling to $2.4 billion in 2017.
The report says the shrinking of trade among partner states since 2015 may be as a result of national production patterns becoming more similar, and movement of capital investments where products are manufactured locally.
The EAC intra-trade share is below 20 per cent, compared with the EU where it is 61.7 per cent. Among the members of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the share is 50.3 per cent and 24.3 per cent within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The elimination of tariffs on intra-EAC trade led to an average annual loss of Customs duty of $1,689.07 million between 2013 and 2017.
Blows exchanged as man finds wife in bed with businessman ▷ Kenya News
A businessman from Ukambani identified as Kimeu escaped death by a whisker after he was cornered while ‘drinking water from his neighbour’s cistern’.
The husband of the woman he was munching, landed on him in unprecedented, furry filled assault-style.
He said he had for long been hunting for the man that he claimed ‘has made his bae lose interest in him’.
The suspect would arrive at the woman’s house after 10pm while her hubby was away. He works with an NGO within Ukambani.
Throughout this time, there were whispers that the two were having a good time though they tried to keep it secret.
After unsuccessfully trying to ambush the duo, the aggrieved husband sought the services of native doctor Mwikali Kilonzo to help burst them.
Days later, while in the city, he received several calls from neighbours informing him that his wife and the stranger were stuck while doing the unthinkable on their matrimonial bed.
He swiftly set off to his home and it took him four hours to arrive.
“I thought this was just hearsay, I shouldn’t have trusted you in the first place, even after giving you everything you wanted…you have the courage to bring another man in my house?” The NGO man fumed as he descended on them.
He rained kicks and blows on the young man in rapid succession as the ‘thief’ pleaded for sympathy.
The fight was quelled after the security personnel from the nearby police camp intervened.
The show was in no way different from the several other instances of cheating spouses ending up glued together during adulterous missions.
The two were later separated from agony and the man has since summoned his in-laws to discuss the matter.
Apart from netting cheating partners and bring peace in troubled homes, herbalist Mwikali Kilonzo has unique means to influence promotion at work and can spin court cases.
Additionally, she has powerful medicine that can cushion homes from spiritual and physical attacks. She is able to paralyse thieves and recover stolen items.
Contact her on 0722901790 and find a solution for your problem.
She is available in Mbitini Kitui county, Bungoma Town, Kitale and Kenyatta Market in Nairobi.
Why Kenyan men are travelling long distance to meet this woman | Tuko TV.
Tough rules spell doom for social media campaigns : The Standard
Kenyan politicians might be blocked from using social media platforms like Twitter to campaign in the 2022 General Election.
This comes as social media platforms release new rules of engagement starting next year, targeted at stemming political propaganda, disinformation and personal data privacy violations.
Platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have reviewed their terms of service with their users in a move that could change the face of social media.
SEE ALSO :Why is my phone so addictive?
“Twitter globally prohibits the promotion of political content,” states the social media site in the latest policy update released last month. “We have made this decision based on our belief that political message reach should be earned, not bought.”
Twitter defines political content as messaging that references a candidate, political party, elected or appointed government official, election, referendum, ballot measure, legislation, regulation, directive or judicial outcome.
“Ads that contain references to political content, including appeals for votes, solicitations of financial support, and advocacy for or against any of the above-listed types of political content, are prohibited under this policy,” the policy says.
Ads of any type by candidates, political parties, or elected or appointed government officials are also prohibited in the policy that came into effect on November 22.
Twitter users will now be able to report political content through their timelines with advertisers that violate the policy standing the risk of being “off-boarded”, Twitter’s polite way of ‘kicked out’.
The changes have been prompted by mounting calls by regulators in the West that tech giants have amassed billions in value from collecting and monetising vast data from their users, and should be reined in.
A recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said increasing digitisation from businesses, governments and individuals has created a data economy that is expanding at unprecedented speed.
“Global Internet Protocol (IP) traffic, a proxy for data flows, grew from about 100 gigabytes (GB) per day in 1992 to more than 45,000 GB per second in 2017,” said Unctad in the Digital Economy Report released in September.
“The world is only in the early days of the data-driven economy; by 2022 global IP traffic is projected to reach 150,700 GB per second, fuelled by more and more people coming online for the first time and by the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT).”
At the same time, rising concern about privacy violations and breaches that have exposed users’ personal data to misuse, such as the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, have strengthened calls for tighter regulation.
SEE ALSO :Social media Halloween
Social media platforms on their part have responded by tweaking their user and engagement policies in an attempt at self-regulation.
“The information Google collects, and how that information is used, depends on how you use our services and how you manage your privacy controls,” states the policy.
Last month, Google Vice President for Product Management Scott Spencer said the platform has reviewed political ads in a move to help protect the integrity of election contests.
“Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms,” he said in a policy statement.
“We’re making a few changes to how we handle political ads on our platforms globally,” he said.
“Regardless of the cost or impact to spending on our platforms, we believe these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising and trust in electoral processes worldwide.”
Google’s decision is significant because the firm’s platform includes ads appearing not only on its products such as the search engine and YouTube, but also on countless websites.
Audience targeting with election ads on the platforms will now be limited along several categories including age, gender and general location.
“This will align our approach to election ads with long-established practices in media such as TV, radio and print, and result in election ads being more widely seen and available for public discussion,” says Spencer.
The policy shift is likely to affect Kenya, where politicians have increasingly turned to social media to reach their constituents, often paying individuals with large followers to help push their message.
The Freedom of the Net 2019 report singles out Kenya as one of the countries in Africa where debate on social media has been distorted by paid actors.
“Loosely organised ‘bloggers for hire’ use their collective clout on Twitter and Facebook to shape public opinion and manipulate the online information landscape,” says the report.
“One such group, known as the ‘36 Bloggers’, allegedly works within the Executive Office of the President’s Directorate of Digital Communication. Another group is known as the ‘527 militia’, with 527 ostensibly signifying the amount in Kenya shillings paid to each blogger to tweet certain hashtags.”
The new policy changes have already gone live in the just-concluded British election and in Singapore, where a hotly contested general election is due next year.
It remains to be seen how this will affect political engagement in the coming months.
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