LONDON (AFP) - The upper chamber of Britain's Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 20) inflicted a symbolic defeat on the government over Brexit legislation that critics claim trashes the UK's reputation as a defender of the rule of law. The government's internal market Bill is designed to regulate trade among the country's four constituent nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - after Brexit. But it unilaterally rewrites Britain's divorce treaty with the European Union, struck last year, sparking legal action from the 27-nation bloc. The Bill has already passed the more powerful House of Commons but in the House of Lords, peers including Anglican archbishops voted by a majority of 226 to express their "regret" over its treaty-breaching provisions. While the vote did not alter the Bill's language, it sets the stage for detailed scrutiny by the lords in the coming weeks. Many want to strip out those elements, triggering a legislative tussle with the Commons before the Bill can become law. Michael Howard, a former leader of the ruling Conservatives and prominent Brexiteer, was among the dissident peers who voted for the motion against the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
WARSAW/MILAN/VIENNA (REUTERS) - A surge in demand for vaccines to ward off the winter flu has led to shortages in some European cities, raising the risk of a potentially lethal "twindemic" as Covid-19 cases spike. Many governments boosted vaccine orders this year and launched campaigns to encourage citizens to get shots. The aim was to inoculate earlier than usual and cover a bigger portion of the continent's 450 million population to reduce the burden on health services. Top manufacturers such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi , Abbott and Seqirus have boosted supplies to the region by an average of 30 per cent in anticipation of higher demand. But they are operating at full capacity and cannot meet all the late extra demand, Vaccines Europe, which represents the producers, said in a statement on Wednesday (Oct 21). Interviews with at least 10 city and government officials, as well as medical experts, also show systems in major cities such as Warsaw are struggling with the strong early demand, causing delays and temporary shortages. "This year, patients come all the time and ask about vaccines, more than 10 people every day," said Ms Grazyna Lenkowska-Mielniczuk,
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Gilead Sciences Inc has questioned the findings of a World Health Organisation (WHO) study that concluded its Covid-19 drug remdesivir does not help patients who have been admitted to hospital. The American company told Reuters the data appeared inconsistent, the findings were premature and that other studies had validated the drug's benefits. In a blow to one of the few drugs being used to treat people with Covid-19, the WHO said on Thursday (Oct 15) its "Solidarity" trial had concluded that remdesivir appeared to have little or no effect on 28-day mortality or length of hospital stays among patients with the respiratory disease. The antiviral medication was one of the drugs used to treat US President Donald Trump's coronavirus infection, and has been shown in previous studies to have cut time to recovery, though the European Union is investigating it for possible kidney injury. The WHO trial was conducted in 11,266 adult patients in more than 30 countries. The evidence was conclusive, the WHO said. Gilead said other trials of remdesivir, including with 1,062 patients that compared it with a placebo, showed the treatment cut Covid-19 recovery time.