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Coronavirus: UK rolls out ‘game changer’ tests; govt mulls more bans; cruise industry haunted by infected passengers…

A round-up of Monday's major news related to the pandemic

IP Group Plc - Coronavirus: UK rolls out ‘game changer’ tests; Westminster mulls over more bans; cruise industry haunted by infected passengers…

The UK has rolled out two new tests to detect COVID-19 and other winter viruses in just 90 minutes to get ready ahead a potential second wave of infections in a few months.

The assays will be made available to NHS hospitals, care homes and labs though they do not require a trained health professional to operate them, meaning they can be rolled out in more non-clinical settings.

They are developed by DnaNudge and Oxford Nanopore.

DnaNudge, a start-up spun off Imperial College London, will deliver 5.8mln kits to NHS hospitals beginning in September.

Private biotech Oxford Nanopore will supply 450,000 of its LamPORE swab assays adult care setting and laboratories from next week, with millions more expected later in the year.

Intellectual property group IP Group (LON:IPO), which owns a near 16% stake in the firm, jumped 12% to 74.37p on Monday.

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC the tests are a “game changer” because they don’t need training to be used.

“Ninety minutes will make a massive difference to our response to coronavirus… at hospitals if somebody’s coming in for surgery and people need to know very quickly if they’ve got coronavirus.”

Westminster mulls over more bans

The government is also mulling over further bans to implement in case of a second wave of infections.

According to The Times, when the initial shielding register of 2mln people was compiled, factors such as type two diabetes and obesity were not fully appreciated.

Authorities are investigating whether NHS information can be used to draw up more accurate information on whom should be encouraged to shield.

Further bans would include local and international travel as well as meeting friends and family outside households, similarly to the current measures implemented in certain areas of northern England.

Trouble in the cruise industry  

The already battered travel industry felt uneasy in the weekend after two cruises were found to be transporting infected passengers and crew members.

In Norway, 40 passengers and crew from the MS Roald Amundsen tested positive but 178 passengers were allowed to leave the ship, operated by Norwegian firm Hurtigruten, with Norwegian authorities rushing to detect them to prevent further spreading.

In Tahiti, a ship operated by Paul Gauguin Cruises told passengers to stay in their cabins as they await to be tested after the crew doctor identified a coronavirus case.

Meanwhile, Carnival PLC (LON:CCL) shed 4% to 792p after having to cancel short cruise trips recently booked through its AIDA brand as formal approval to sail has yet to be received from the Italian government.

The travel giant implemented increased hygiene standards and measures to protect against the coronavirus on its ships but trips across its brands have still been cancelled throughout the year.

EU negotiates vaccine supply agreement

The EU is in advanced discussions with GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) and French giant Sanofi to buy 300mln doses of their COVID-19 vaccine currently under development.

The jabs would be manufactured in European countries including France, Belgium, Germany and Italy.

The pair recently signed agreements with the United States for up to 100mln doses of the vaccine and to supply the UK with 60mln doses. 

Sanofi is leading the clinical development and registration of the COVID-19 vaccine and expects a Phase 1/ 2 study to start in September, followed by a Phase 3 study by the end of 2020.

If data is positive, regulatory approval could be achieved by the first half of 2021.

GSK added 2% to 1,560.5p on Monday at noon.

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