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WHO recommends highly successful COVID-19 therapy; calls for wide geographical distribution, transparency from originator

May 2, 2022 9:46 p.m.

WHO made a strong recommendation for nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, sold under the name Paxlovid, for mild and moderate COVID-19 patients at highest risk of hospital admission, calling it the best therapeutic choice for high-risk patients to date.

However, availability, lack of price transparency in bilateral deals made by the producer, and the need for prompt and accurate testing before administering it, are turning this life-saving medicine into a major challenge for low- and middle-income countries.

Pfizer’s oral antiviral drug (a combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets) is strongly recommended for patients with non-severe COVID-19 who are at highest risk of developing severe disease and hospitalization, such as unvaccinated, older, or immunosuppressed patients.

This recommendation is based on new data from two randomized controlled trials involving 3078 patients.

The data show that the risk of hospitalization is reduced by 85% following this treatment. In a high-risk group (over 10% risk of hospitalization), that means 84 fewer hospitalizations per 1000 patients.

WHO suggests against its use in patients at lower risk, as the benefits were found to be negligible.

One obstacle for low- and middle-income countries is that the medicine can only be administered while the disease is at its early stages; prompt and accurate testing is therefore essential for a successful outcome with this therapy.

Data collected by FIND show that the average daily testing rate in low-income countries is as low as one-eightieth the rate in high-income countries. Improving access to early testing and diagnosis in primary health care settings will be key for the global rollout of this treatment.

WHO is extremely concerned that — as occurred with COVID-19 vaccines — low- and middle-income countries will again be pushed to the end of the queue when it comes to accessing this treatment.

Lack of transparency on the part of the originator company is making it difficult for public health organizations to obtain an accurate picture of the availability of the medicine, which countries are involved in bilateral deals and what they are paying.

In addition, a licensing agreement made by Pfizer with the Medicines Patent Pool limits the number of countries that can benefit from generic production of the medicine.

The originator product, sold under the name Paxlovid, will be included in the WHO prequalification list  today, but generic products are not yet available from quality-assured sources.

Several generic companies (many of which are covered by the licensing agreement between the Medicines Pool and Pfizer) are in discussion with WHO Prequalification but may take some time to comply with international standards so that they can supply the medicine internationally.

WHO therefore strongly recommends that Pfizer make its pricing and deals more transparent and that it enlarge the geographical scope of its licence with the Medicines Patent Pool so that more generic manufacturers may start to produce the medicine and make it available faster at affordable prices.

Along with the strong recommendation for the use of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir, WHO has also updated its recommendation on remdesivir, another antiviral medicine.

Previously, WHO had suggested against its use in all COVID-19 patients regardless of disease severity, due to the totality of the evidence at that time showing little or no effect on mortality.

Following publication of new data from a clinical trial looking at the outcome of admission to hospital, WHO has updated its recommendation. WHO now suggests the use of remdesivir in mild or moderate COVID-19 patients who are at high risk of hospitalization.

The recommendation for use of remdesivir in patients with severe or critical COVID-19 is currently under review. (From World Health Organization)

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PH slides to top 4 in Kaspersky’s new global ranking of countries most targeted by online threats

February 5, 2024 9:46 p.m.

In 2023, web threats targeting the Philippines were about two percent less (48%) than in 2022 (49.8%), according to the latest Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) report.

With this new data, the country moved two spots down to fourth place worldwide among countries most targeted by malicious files from the internet and phishing websites. It looks like a positive development but Kaspersky is strongly advising against dropping the armor.  

“There are two things that could explain the drop in web threats, albeit slightly. First is that we see the country is slowly making headway in cybersecurity. We classify the Philippines to be in the intermediate group of countries that are identifying cyberattacks and making efforts to implement rules. The second one and this we have to seriously take note, is that cybercriminals are continuously taking other attack routes that might be off the radar. One trend that we consistently have been seeing lately is their preference for targeted attacks instead of the spray and pray method,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. 

“Complacency, however, is still not an option. Cybercriminals continue to develop their tools and techniques. They actually surprise cybersecurity experts all the time. Our mindset should be how to be able to hunt threats before they could cause harm and damage. At this point, I recommend that we should be talking more about threats as we proactively learn to detect and respond to them. This is where threat intelligence comes in handy,” added Yeo.  

Web or online threats are attacks through browsers which are also cybercriminals’ tried and tested way to spread malware. It can easily be done with or without the involvement of the victim. 

A web attack with victim participation is done through social engineering. The victim is tricked into doing something that jeopardizes their personal security or the security of the organization they work for. The objective is to get the victim to respond by clicking an infected email attachment, a compromised website, or responding to a fake unsubscribe notice, among others.  Last year’s data breaches involving a government agency and an e-wallet company, which were each reportedly traced to phishing, are examples of this type of web threat. 

An attack requiring no victim involvement is through drive-by downloads. By simply visiting a compromised website, their device gets infected automatically (and silently) particularly if they failed to apply a security update to one of their apps. This method is used in most web attacks.

In the recent global ranking, the Philippines came behind Mongolia (51.8%), Moldova (48.9%) and Greece (48.8%). Since 2019, the country has consistently been in the top 10 ranking countries. 

Among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines is trailed by Malaysia with the overall percentage of users attacked by web-borne threats from January to December 2023. 

To stay protected, Kaspersky recommends users the following: 

  • Do not download and install applications from untrusted sources 
  • Do not click on any links from unknown sources or suspicious online advertisements 
  • Create strong and unique passwords, including a mix of lower case and upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation, as well as activating two-factor authentication 
  • Always install updates
  • Ignore messages asking to disable security systems for office or cybersecurity solution 
  • Use a robust cybersecurity solution appropriate to your system type and devices 

For organizations, Kaspersky recommends the following:

  • Always keep software updated on all the devices to prevent attackers from infiltrating network by exploiting vulnerabilities 
  • Use strong passwords to access corporate services. Use multi-factor authentication for access to remote services 
  • Choose a proven endpoint cybersecurity solution for business that is equipped with behaviors-based detection and anomaly control capabilities for effective protection against known and unknown threats 
  • Use dedicated set of effective endpoint protection, threat detection and response products to timely detect and remediate even new and evasive threats 
  • Use the latest threat intelligence information to empower your security experts
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There’s a Nanyang near you for all your Singaporean food cravings

August 4, 2023 6:30 p.m.

Missing Singapore’s famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, Laksa fishball, Cheesy Chicken Chop Noodles and Kopi?

Visit your nearest Nanyang Philippines branch.

Cheesy Chicken Chop Noodles
Kopi
Laksa Prawn
Laksa Fishball
Hainanese Chicken Rice

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Globe powers up TOYCON 2023’s landmark 20th year

June 29, 2023 6:53 p.m.

As Toycon Philippines proudly commemorates its 20th year, the landmark celebration promises to be more electrifying than ever with the formidable support of leading digital lifestyle brand Globe.

For the first time, Globe is the title sponsor of the iconic pop-culture event, bringing a new level of excitement and engagement to the toy collector and creator community.

Globe has always been at the forefront of supporting diverse subcultures and passions, and this partnership is a testament to its commitment. As part of the collaboration, Globe will bring to life the rich world of its cinematic and theatrical partners, further enriching the TOYCON 2023 experience for attendees.

“Globe is thrilled to collaborate with Toycon Philippines, especially on such a milestone year,” said Mike Magpily, VP, Head of Segment Strategy and Subcultures at Globe.

“As the country’s most reliable network and top digital solutions platform with an ecosystem of various services, we’re uniquely positioned to foster the vibrancy of the toy collecting and creating community. This partnership underscores our commitment to nurturing a wide array of passions and interests while ensuring the best connectivity for all participants.”

Cholo Mallillin, Marketing Head at Toycon Philippines, said: “The collaboration with Globe will further elevate the Toycon experience. This partnership will bring more surprises and rewards to our community. We invite everyone to join us as we celebrate 20 years of Toycon in the most exciting way possible.”

TOYCON 2023 will be held at the SMX Convention Center in MOA from July 7 to 9, 2023. Attendees are in for a treat, as they have the chance to meet their beloved childhood characters, explore an expansive marketplace of unique toys and collectibles, and participate in exclusive Globe activities.

One of the highlights of the partnership is a series of exclusive perks for Globe customers. By using Globe Rewards points, customers will have the opportunity to win various ticket tiers ranging from Day Passes to VIP Passes. There will also be exclusive toy freebies for VIP pass holders, and unique Globe-only activities, such as paint-your-own Gudi.

At the event, Globe will also host an interactive booth featuring activities designed to reward and inspire. From earning freebies by donating Rewards points to a good cause, to free arcade plays and meet-ups with popular streamers, Globe customers are in for an exciting weekend of gaming and beyond.

To keep up-to-date with all the exciting promotions and surprises at TOYCON 2023, Globe customers are encouraged to use the GlobeOne app.

To learn more about Globe, visit https://www.globe.com.ph/.

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