Turning Agro-industrial Waste into Energy in Argentina

Aerial view of the biogas plant located in the industrial park of Zárate, a municipality in eastern Argentina, featuring three large biodigesters. CREDIT: Courtesy of BGA Energía Sustentable

Aerial view of the biogas plant located in the industrial park of Zárate, a municipality in eastern Argentina, featuring three large biodigesters. CREDIT: Courtesy of BGA Energía Sustentable

By Daniel Gutman
ZÁRATE, Argentina , Mar 31 2022 – Three giant concrete cylinders with inflated membrane roofs are a strange sight in the industrial park of Zárate, a world of factories 90 kilometers from Buenos Aires that heavy trucks drive in and out of all day long. They are the heart of a plant that is about to start producing energy from agro-industrial waste, for the first time in Argentina.

“This is the first plant that will generate biogas with waste from the food industry. For example, fats from dairy companies or leftovers from meat processing plants where beef, chicken and pork are processed,” Ezequiel Weibel, one of the partners in the company that designed and executed the project, tells IPS.

“Until now, in this country we were used to biogas production using livestock effluents or crop residues, but not other kinds of organic waste,” adds Weibel, as he walks around the site and points to the sector where dozens of gigantic bags of pig blood meal are stockpiled.

Weibel is a young agricultural engineer who in 2011 created the company BGA Energía Sustentable together with his fellow student Martín Pinos, with the support of IncUBAgro.

IncUBAgro is a program of the School of Agronomy at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), which encourages innovative projects aimed at solving agricultural, environmental and productive problems.

The plant’s three biodigesters have a capacity of 12,000 cubic meters and are set up to receive some 146 wet and 35 dry tons of waste per day from the eastern province of Buenos Aires. In the huge tanks the waste will be stored without oxygen so that the bacteria can do their work.

The organic matter will undergo an accelerated decomposition process, which will convert it into biogas, composed of 60 percent methane and 40 percent carbon dioxide.

The biogas, in turn, will be fed to a generator that will produce electricity and inject it into the national power grid, which will distribute it throughout the country. The plant, which has an installed capacity of 1.5 megawatts (MW), is already completed and is only awaiting the clearing of the final red tape to start operating.

The plant is located at the end of a short dirt road about 10 kilometers from the highway to Buenos Aires, within the Zárate district, on the banks of the Paraná River, on an area of one and a half hectares.

Ezequiel Weibel (l) and Ezequiel Tamburrini stand with two of the three biodigesters in the background in Zárate, 90 kilometers from the capital of Argentina, which will convert waste from the agri-food industry into biogas. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Ezequiel Weibel (l) and Ezequiel Tamburrini stand with two of the three biodigesters in the background in Zárate, 90 kilometers from the capital of Argentina, which will convert waste from the agri-food industry into biogas. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

A better solution for organic waste management

“This is a family business that was founded by my father,” Agustín Patricio, one of the shareholders of Eittor, the company that owns the plant, tells IPS. “We have been treating industrial waste for more than 20 years. The organic waste was mainly used to generate compost, to be used as fertilizer…even though we knew it could be used to produce energy.”

Through international trade fairs, for several years the company had been following solutions for recycling and reusing waste for energy production developed in countries such as Italy and Germany.

“We are increasingly aware of the scarcity of energy and the pollution caused by its generation and use, and we believe that the idea of producing biogas with organic waste is a better solution,” Patricio adds.

The opportunity to carry out the project came when public policies in favor of the energy transition were adopted in Argentina – long dependent on natural gas and oil production – much later than in other countries in the region.

In September 2015 Congress gave an important signal in favor of clean energies by passing a law to promote renewable sources of electricity.

The new law set the goal for 20 percent of Argentina’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025. It also established that renewables would have dispatch priority, so they are the first to be injected into the grid when different sources are available.

As a result, on days of lower demand, the proportion of renewables is higher. According to official figures, the historical peak occurred on Sept. 26, 2021, when 28.84 percent of electricity consumption was covered by renewables.

This electricity generator will be powered by the biogas produced from agro-industrial waste. The Eittor company's plant, located in the municipality of Zárate, will be connected to the Argentine national power grid. Renewable sources provided 13 percent of the electricity consumed in Argentina in 2021. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

This electricity generator will be powered by the biogas produced from agro-industrial waste. The Eittor company’s plant, located in the municipality of Zárate, will be connected to the Argentine national power grid. Renewable sources provided 13 percent of the electricity consumed in Argentina in 2021. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Renovar’s spring

With the momentum from the new law, the government launched – between 2016 and 2018 – the Renovar Program, which held three tenders for the construction of renewable energy projects.

The big incentive for private investors was that the purchase of electricity was guaranteed for a 20-year term at a fixed rate in dollars and a fund was set up to ensure payment, with guarantees from the World Bank, the Argentine Investment and Foreign Trade Bank and other international and national credit agencies.

Thus, renewable energies, which provided an insignificant proportion of Argentina’s electricity until 2015, experienced explosive growth from 2016, to the point that in 2021 they covered 13 percent of total demand, according to official data from the energy ministry.

Today, the country has 187 operational renewable energy projects with a total installed capacity of 5182 MW. Most involve wind power (74 percent), followed by solar power (13 percent), small hydroelectric projects up to 50 MW (seven percent), and bioenergies (six percent), such as the Zárate plant, which was one of the successful bidders in the last of the Renovar Program’s three tenders.

The Argentine electricity system has a total capacity of almost 43,000 MW and continues to be supported mainly by natural gas and oil-fired thermal power plants and large hydroelectric power plants.

However, the brief clean energy spring in Argentina is over: there are currently no new renewable energy projects.

Moreover, 33 projects awarded under the program that had not started due to lack of financing were cancelled this year.

“The Renovar Program was successful from its launch until 2018, when Argentina was hit by a serious financial crisis, foreign credit dried up and the government turned to the International Monetary Fund,” Gerardo Rabinovich, vice president of the Instituto Argentina de Energía General Mosconi, a private research center, tells IPS.

Ezequiel Weibel stands inside one of the biodigesters of the biogas plant that his company, BGA Energía Sustentable, built in Zárate in northeastern Argentina to use agro-industrial waste. The young engineer developed his renewable energy enterprise with the support of the innovative projects incubator of the Faculty of Agronomy at the University of Buenos Aires. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Ezequiel Weibel stands inside one of the biodigesters of the biogas plant that his company, BGA Energía Sustentable, built in Zárate in northeastern Argentina to use agro-industrial waste. The young engineer developed his renewable energy enterprise with the support of the innovative projects incubator of the Faculty of Agronomy at the University of Buenos Aires. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

“This meant that the projects, even some of the ones already awarded, were no longer financially feasible. Foreign investors left and there is no capital market in Argentina to finance these capital-intensive projects,” says Rabinovich.

The expert points out that an additional problem is the saturation of the electric transportation system, which is especially important in a large nation like Argentina, where big urban areas are concentrated in the center of the country.

The Eittor plant is thus unlikely to be replicated for a long time in this Southern Cone country, which is the third largest economy in the region after Brazil and Mexico.

“This is a double solution, because energy is generated at the same time the environmental problem of waste disposal is solved,” Ezequiel Tamburrini, head of the biogas plant, tells IPS.

“I would say that in Argentina there is no collective awareness of the environmental problem of waste generation, and most people do not know that energy can be generated with waste. That is why we have to bring visibility to this type of initiative in the country,” he argues.

New Guinness® World Record – World’s Biggest Bug Hotel

DUROR, Scotland, March 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — On Monday 28th March 2022, conservation company Highland Titles achieved a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORD for the world's biggest bug/insect hotel, which means Highland Titles are "Officially Amazing!"

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/c6d0e716–dbd2–4737–934d–660fac898b70

The 199.9 cubic metre structure is located on the Highland Titles Nature Reserve at Duror in the Scottish Highlands and already houses a variety of species. It breaks the previous world record of 89.37 cubic metres, which was held by the Polish Association of Developers in Warsaw, Poland.

The world record–breaking bug hotel was made using felled sitka spruce from the nature reserve, masonry bricks, bamboo canes, wood chips, forest bark, wildflower seeds, clay pipes and strawberry netting.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/8f7ca5a3–5c5c–4d71–a475–daceb2ca6aff

"This record–breaking initiative is about the environmental message," says Douglas Wilson, CEO of Highland Titles. "We bought this land in 2006 when it was a poorly performing commercial forestry plantation of non–native Sitka Spruce.

"Like much of the Highlands, it was inappropriately planted in the late 1980s with no thought or consideration given to biodiversity. Using these same trees for something that puts nature first symbolises that the world has changed, and we hope our efforts will inspire others. We'd be delighted if someone beat our record in the future!"

Nature Reserve Manager, Stewart Borland, was part of a team of 7 who were involved in its construction which started in September 2021 and was completed in early March 2022. In addition to the environmental message, Mr Borland hopes that it encourages people to visit:

"In 2019, we had more than 10,000 visitors to the nature reserve from all over the world. The pandemic really put a dent in our visitor numbers, so we hope that this – together with the new track which is adored by cyclists – will encourage people to visit now that travel is opening up again. The more visitors we get, the more people can see the work that we're doing."

About Highland Titles

Highland Titles began in 2006 with a mission to conserve Scotland, one square foot at a time. The conservation project – now encompassing 5 nature reserves and over 800 acres of Scottish wilderness – is funded by selling gift–sized souvenir plots of land.

The Highland Titles community of souvenir plot owners are invited to style themselves as the Lords and Ladies of Glencoe. Over 300,000 plots of land have been sold to date.

The Highland Titles Nature Reserve near Glencoe is an official 4* tourist attraction and, according to Trip Advisor, one of the most popular nature reserves in the country.

Resources

For more information on the World's Biggest Bug Hotel, visit here

For more photographs or video content, please email support@highlandtitles.com with your email address, name and phone number

Contact

Douglas Wilson, CEO
douglas@highlandtitles.com


Asante Gold Announces Appointment of Executive Vice President & Country Director

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Asante Gold Corporation (CSE:ASE | FRANKFURT:1A9 | U.S.OTC:ASGOF) ("Asante" or the "Company") is pleased to announce the appointment of Frederick Attakumah as Executive Vice President and Country Director with effect from April 1, 2022.

Mr. Attakumah holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Electrical Engineering from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana) and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Henley Business School (UK). He has thirty years' experience in the mining industry spanning project development, operations management, sustainability, and corporate affairs.

Prior to joining Asante, Mr. Attakumah was the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Asanko Gold Ghana Limited. He has also held several senior executive roles including Managing Director of AngloGold Ashanti (Ghana) Limited and Vice President of Sustainability for AngloGold Ashanti's operations in Ghana.

At the industry level, he held the position of First Vice President of the Ghana Chamber of Mines and concurrently served as a member of the Governing Council of the Private Enterprise Federation of Ghana (PEF). He has also served as President of the Canada Ghana Chamber of Commerce which is focused on building bilateral private sector relationships between Ghana and Canada. Mr. Attakumah has been a strong advocate for the positive role of the mining industry in the socio–economic development of African countries and the criticality of a multi–stakeholder approach in realizing this vision. He has contributed to several local and international panels, including the Mining Indaba, on this topic.

Commenting on the appointment, Dave Anthony, CEO of Asante stated, "We are delighted to welcome Frederick as Executive Vice President and Country Director of Asante. The extraordinary capacity this appointment adds to our team supports our intention to develop a first tier mining company in West Africa. His proven leadership capacity, skill set and ability to engage key stakeholders will be critical to the further development and growth of Asante."

In connection with the appointment of Frederick Attakumah, the Company has granted 1,000,000 incentive stock options to purchase common shares of the Company exercisable at $1.75 per share for a term of five years, such options to vest one–quarter on the date of grant and one quarter in each of six, nine and 12 months subject to the provisions of the Company's Equity Incentive Plan.

About Asante Gold Corporation

Asante is a gold exploration, development, and operating company with a high–quality portfolio of projects in Ghana, Africa's largest and most reliable gold producer. Asante is currently focused on developing to production its Bibiani and Kubi Gold mines located on the prolific Bibiani and Ashanti Gold Belts. Asante has an experienced and skilled team of mine finders, builders and operators, with extensive experience in Ghana.

Asante is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and has announced plans to co–list its shares in Ghana. Asante is also exploring its Keyhole, Fahiakoba and Betenase projects for new discoveries, all adjoining or along strike of major gold mines near the centre of Ghana's Golden Triangle. Additional information is available on the Company's website at www.asantegold.com.

About the Bibiani Gold Mine

Bibiani is a historically significant gold mine situated in the western region of Ghana, with previous gold production close to 5 Moz. It is fully permitted with available mining and processing infrastructure on–site consisting of a 3 million tonne per annum mill and processing plant, and existing surface and mining infrastructure.

The Current Mineral Resource Estimate for Bibiani, as reported in the Technical Report on the Bibiani Gold Mine, Ghana, by Principal Author Ian M Glacken FAusIMM (CP), FAIG, CEng and Qualified Person Dan Bansah MSc, MAusIMM (CP), FWAIMM, MGIG, dated November 7, 2021, and filed on SEDAR, is Measured and Indicated 20.1 million tonnes at 2.71 grams of gold per tonne for 1.81 Moz of gold, plus Inferred 8.41 million tonnes at 2.78 grams of gold per tonne for 0.75 Moz of gold from an open pit mine. The Mineral Resource has been reported above a 0.65 g/t gold cut–off and has been depleted for both historical open pit and underground development as of August 31, 2017. The Bibiani Main Pit mineral resource has been prepared by Competent Persons (Optiro, 2017) using accepted industry practices and have been classified and reported in accordance with the JORC Code (JORC, 2012). There are no material differences between the definitions of Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources under the CIM Definition Standards and the equivalent definitions in the JORC Code. The Satellite pit resource is an update completed in 2018 by Resolute Mining Limited. The Satellite pit resource is also reported above a cut–off grade of 0.65 g/t gold inside a pit shell defined at a gold price of US$1,950. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

For further information please contact:

Dave Anthony, President & CEO: +1 647 382 4215 (Canada) or +233 558 799 3309 (Ghana) or dave@asantegold.com
Malik Easah, Executive Director, malik@asantegold.com
Alec Rowlands, Capital Markets Consultant, alec@asantegold.com
Valentina Gvozdeva, Manager IR, mailto:valentina@asantegold.com
Kirsti Mattson, Media Relations, kirsti.mattson@gmail.com

Cautionary Statement on Forward–Looking Statements

This news release contains forward–looking statements. Forward–looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, prospects, and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward–looking statements, including statements regarding the resources, reserves, exploration results, and development program at Bibiani, including timing of future mine development and the start of production. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from these forward–looking statements include, but are not limited to, variations in the nature, quality and quantity of any mineral deposits that may be located, the Company's inability to obtain any necessary permits, consents or authorizations required for its planned activities, and the Company's inability to raise the necessary capital or to be fully able to implement its business strategies. The reader is referred to the Company's public disclosure record which is available on SEDAR (www.sedar.com). Although the Company believes that the assumptions and factors used in preparing the forward–looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on these statements, which only apply as of the date of this news release, and no assurance can be given that such events will occur in the disclosed time frames or at all. Except as required by securities laws and the policies of the Canadian Securities Exchange, the Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward–looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

LEI Number: 529900F9PV1G9S5YD446. Neither IIROC nor any stock exchange or other securities regulatory authority accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.


Zimbabwe Elections Rekindle Voter Apathy Concerns

People take time to go to the bank, but not to register to vote. Lower voter turnout and registration are a cause for concern in Zimbabwe. Credit: Ignatius Banda/IPS

By Ignatius Banda
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Mar 31 2022 – Activity in the streets of Zimbabwe’s second city is testimony to a thriving informal sector where thousands of people eke out a living selling all sorts of wares.

From vegetables to soft drinks to television sets, mobile phones and anything in-between, all are peddled here, where being self-employed means putting in more hours to ensure food on the table.

It is here where 41-year-old Gilbert Mabutho works as an itinerant vendor, peddling whatever commodity he can sell. Today he is selling boiled maize (corn) because he says, “maize is in season.”

“There are no jobs. This is where my bread comes from,” Mabutho told IPS.

Amid the hustle and bustle, Mabutho is among many who have not taken time off their daily grind to register to vote or check their names in the voter’s roll ahead of the forthcoming primary elections.

Voter registration opened in January and closed on February 28 ahead of the by-elections. Registration will resume after the by-elections from April 10 to 30.

“I haven’t had time to register. I am just too occupied trying to make ends meet,” Mabutho said.

By-elections, considered harbinger of the country’s 2023 elections, were held earlier this month, and analysts are raising concerns about the low response to voter registration and participation.

Yet besides being too busy to make time for voter registration, residents such as unemployed Samson Basvi say they do not see any benefit in voting.

“The country’s hardships have been going for years now, showing me no reason to vote,” Basvi told IPS.

“If voting truly changed anything, surely the people who are voted into power would improve our lives,” he reasoned, expressing a common sentiment here, where the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) (ZANU-PF) has been in power since 1980.

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the country’s second-largest city has the lowest number of registered voters.

In the 2018 elections, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed disputed victory, about three-quarters of about 5.5 million registered voters cast their vote – which was considered a high turnout.

“It is not clear yet if voter turnout in the by-elections is an indicator of the 2023 polls,” said Piers Pigou, southern Africa analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Analysts note that a lack of trust in electoral processes has led to voter apathy.

“The prime cause for apathy is fears of a possible rigging of elections in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF, a long-standing sentiment among voters,” said Stanley Mabuka, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), a government-appointed body tasked with running the country’s elections, has also been criticized for what is seen as poor voter education and voter registration campaign, with some residents claiming they have not heard about voter verification or registration.

“A lacklustre approach by the ZEC on registration exercise in remote areas might also accelerate voter apathy among first-timers. Already the registration exercise is running late due to delays imposed by the coronavirus pandemic,” Mabuka told IPS.

Zimbabwe has for years witnessed a cycle of disputed election outcomes, with opposition political parties accusing the ruling party of manipulating electoral processes. At the same time, some observer missions raised concerns about the credibility of the 2018 poll results.

“We have not seen the number of people registering rising compared with the number of people qualified to vote even if they meet all the requirements,” said Effie Ncube, a political analyst and independent researcher in Bulawayo.

“You then have people registered to vote but don’t vote because of despondency that elections have not been delivering the kind of lifestyle they desire,” Ncube told IPS.

The ruling party says it is targeting 5 million votes in the 2023 elections, while the Citizens for Change Coalition (CCC), led by Nelson Chamisa, says it is targeting 6 million voters. But with the current pace of voter registration and the inspection of the voter’s roll expected to pour into 2023, there is little to show that either party will garner such numbers.

By-elections were called to fill vacant municipality and legislative seats, but some analysts note that by-elections have generally attracted few voters, a phenomenon seen across the continent.

“There is usually less interest in by-elections, but there is also the issue of young people who have turned voting age who are failing to get registration documents that will allow them to vote,” said Pigou.

“Low voter participation has been a general trend across the region (southern Africa), and this has been particularly the case with younger people,” Pigou told IPS.

More is required to be done if voters are to be convinced of a “possibility of change spearheaded by a democratic opposition,” says Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies who has written extensively about Zimbabwe.

“By and large, by-elections attract a low turnout around the world. In Zimbabwe, however, there are added factors of disillusionment with the fragmentation of the opposition and the sense among voters that ZANU-PF is at this point not able to be dislodged from power,” Chan told IPS.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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Profound Effect of Covid Pandemic on Women and Girls in Asia-Pacific Documented

Joint Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) research documented the impact of the COVID-20 pandemic on women and girls. The research also found promising practices emerged during the pandemic. Credit: UNFPA

By IPS Correspondent
Tokyo, Mar 31 2022 – Women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region were adversely impacted due to COVID-19 pandemic responses – with marginalized women and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) and gender-based violence (GBV) services profoundly affected.

These were the findings of a study by the Asian Population and Development Association (APDA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The research conducted from 2020 to 2021 reviewed SRHR and GBV laws, policies, and implementation practices during the pandemic response in six countries in the Asia-Pacific region, namely Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines.

On the upside, UNFPA and APDA research also identified promising practices that emerged during the pandemic. The report makes extensive recommendations to governments to mitigate the impact of emergencies like the pandemic.

“The failure to classify appropriate sexual and reproductive health rights and gender-based violence services as essential, in line with international human rights law, compounded challenges to accessing such services during the pandemic,” the report states. The Asia-Pacific region’s findings mirrored the global trend which, according to the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, non-COVID-19 related healthcare services had been less available during the pandemic, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

Maternal Health

“Reduced access to ante- and postnatal care and skilled birth attendance during the pandemic has led to increased maternal mortality,” the study found. For example, in July 2021, Nepal reported a considerable increase in maternal deaths, with 258 women dying due to pregnancy or childbirth between March 2020 and June 2021 – 22 of whom had COVID-19. In the year before March 2020, Nepal recorded 51 maternal deaths.

The barriers women met included not being able to access ante- and postnatal care and safe delivery health services. Women feared getting COVID-19 at hospitals or health centers. There was a lack of transport, and financial and human resources were diverted from SRHR services to manage the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Midwives and birth center workers reported an increase in the number of pregnant women considering delivery options outside hospital settings owing to a fear of infection, overcrowding, supply shortages, and visitor restriction,” according to the findings. This resulted in unsafe and unskilled birthing practices, which could lead to maternal and infant deaths.

This trend was especially problematic for women and girls in disadvantaged and hard-to-reach areas.

There were several promising practices.

Bangladesh developed guidelines for essential maternal health services and provided virtual training for healthcare professionals. It also implemented midwifery mentoring to establish and monitor safe maternity services for women.

There was public interest litigation to establish access to maternal health rights for pregnant women in India and Nepal.

Indonesia improved and expanded midwifery care.

The Philippines implemented cash voucher assistance and established obstetric triage tents for pregnant women.

The report suggests that governments regard antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, and postnatal care as essential services.

Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

The report recommends that workers in the SRH and maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent care shouldn’t be re-deployed to other areas. Surveillance systems should alert health ministries of increases in deaths so emergency preventive measures can be put in place and information systems updated to capture declining or missed antenatal and postnatal care appointments. These efforts would prevent maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity.

The research found an “unmet need for family planning and contraception because health facilities are closing or limiting services, and women are refraining from visiting health facilities due to fear of COVID-19 exposure or because of travel restrictions.”

Vital supplies for SRH, including modern contraceptives, were less readily available given the closure of production sites and global and local supply chains disruption.

In Fiji, India, Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines, advocacy prompted governments to develop guidelines on contraceptive availability and continuity of family planning services during the pandemic.

The Philippines also set up virtual family planning and delivered contraceptives.

Nepal created community-based family planning services in remote quarantine centers.

Indonesia developed a model policy to include women and girls with disabilities in the COVID-19 response, and Bangladesh set up mobile phone messaging known as m-health for family planning.

Apart from declaring family planning an essential service, the researchers recommended that governments move services from clinical settings to communities, such as community-based family planning services.

HIV and STI prevention

HIV and other STI prevention also suffered setbacks during the pandemic. Testing and treatment stalled due to travel and transport restrictions, the prohibitive cost of courier services for delivering antiretroviral drugs, and inadequate stock due to global supply chain disruptions.

Gender-Based Violence

“Restrictions in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 not only increase the risks of gender-based violence but also limit the ability of survivors to distance themselves from their abusers and access GBV response services,” the research found.

There were a range of problems, including accessing help if women were locked down with their abusers, while support services struggled to meet demand.

“Judicial, police, and health services, which are the first responders for women, are overwhelmed, have shifted their priorities, or are otherwise unable to help. Civil society groups are affected by lockdowns and the reallocation of resources. Some domestic violence shelters are full; others have had to close or have been repurposed as health centers,” the research found.

Despite the dire consequences of lockdown on gender-based violence, numerous examples of innovative solutions included revising GBV referral pathways.

Fiji created one-stop service centers, and the Philippines made the clinical management of rape an essential service.

Bangladesh created one-stop service centers in their hospitals and multiple free 24-hour psychosocial counseling hotlines.

In Jammu and Kashmir, India, empty hotels and education institutions were designated safe spaces for violence survivors.

The researchers recommend that information on operational multisectoral gender-based violence response services and referral mechanisms is available and adapted to the COVID-19 context.

They also recommend that the clinical management of rape is classified as an essential service.

Trained counselors should also operate multiple free 24-hour psychosocial counseling hotlines.

Finally, the report noted that it was necessary to “ensure that no one is left behind, for example, people with disabilities; indigenous people; ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people; internally displaced people and refugees; people in humanitarian settings; and people facing multiple intersecting forms of discrimination, by ensuring that vulnerable groups have the information they need to respond to GBV and have access to essential life-saving services.”

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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War in Ukraine Morally Unacceptable, Politically Indefensible & Militarily Nonsensical

Refugees entering Poland from Ukraine at the Medyka border crossing point. March 2022. The UN has helped tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees to cross into Poland and other neighbouring countries. Credit: UNHCR/Chris Melzer

By Michelle Bachelet
GENEVA, Mar 31 2022 – For more than one month now, the entire population of Ukraine has been enduring a living nightmare. The lives of millions of people are in upheaval as they are forced to flee their homes or hide in basements and bomb shelters as their cities are pummeled and destroyed.

I echo the Secretary-General’s words that “continuing the war in Ukraine is morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical.”

The hostilities must stop, without delay. Today, I call on the Russian Federation to heed the clear and strong calls of the General Assembly and of this Council, and immediately act to withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.

In the five weeks since the conflict began, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has recorded at least 1,189 deaths of civilian men, women and children and at least 1,901 injuries. We know the actual figures are likely far higher. In many places of intensive hostilities, such as Mariupol and Volnovakha, it is very challenging to obtain a comprehensive picture.

The persistent use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas is of immense concern. These weapons include missiles, heavy artillery shells and rockets, and airstrikes, causing massive destruction of and damage to civilian objects.

In addition, my Office has received credible allegations that Russian armed forces have used cluster munitions in populated areas at least 24 times. We are also investigating allegations that Ukrainian armed forces have used such weapons.

Homes and administrative buildings, hospitals and schools, water stations and electricity systems have not been spared. To date we have verified 77 incidents in which medical facilities were damaged to various degrees, including 50 hospitals, 7 psycho-neurological facilities and 20 other medical facilities.

Overall, 55 medical establishments were damaged, 10 destroyed, and two were looted. Actual numbers are again likely to be considerably higher, and reports of additional incidents are being corroborated by the Human Rights Monitoring Mission.

Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes. The massive destruction of civilian objects and the high number of civilian casualties strongly indicate that the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution have not been sufficiently adhered to.

Civilians are enduring immeasurable suffering, and the humanitarian crisis is critical. In many areas across the country, people urgently need medical supplies, food, water, shelter and basic household items.

Above all, they need the bombs to cease, and the weapons to fall silent.

In several besieged cities, my Office has noted a significant increase in mortality rates among civilians that can be attributed to disrupted medical care coupled with conflict-related deprivation and stress.

As one woman from Kyiv told my colleagues: “I cannot imagine the situation of people with diabetes, or those undergoing cancer treatment, for whom it is critical to regularly take medications.”

People with disabilities and older people face a particularly appalling humanitarian situation. Long-term care facilities are suffering a lack of food, heating, electricity, water and medication. Many residents who have chronic health conditions rely on others for care and are struggling to access bomb shelters or safe areas.

At least one facility for bedridden patients and other people with disabilities, mostly older people, came under fire while its residents were inside, with dozens of alleged casualties. My colleagues in Ukraine are working to establish the fate and whereabouts of survivors. Moreover, displaced people with disabilities, now staying at poorly equipped temporary facilities, often lack access to health care and rehabilitation services.

Since the beginning of the invasion, Russian armed forces have carried out attacks and military strikes on and near large cities, including Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Sievierodonetsk, Sumy, and Mariupol, and the capital, Kyiv.

In the besieged city of Mariupol, people are living in sheer terror. The situation is worsening by the day, with constant shelling, fighting in the streets and people struggling to survive with the bare minimum of life’s necessities including food, water and medical supplies.

We are looking into allegations that some Mariupol residents have been forcibly evacuated, either to territory controlled by Russian-affiliated armed groups or to the Russian Federation.

Across Ukraine, the rights to life, liberty and security are under attack. Detention of civilians who are vocal about their pro-Ukrainian views in territories under control of Russian forces has become widespread. My Office has also received allegations of killings of two civilians considered to be affiliated with Russian armed forces or supporting pro-Russian views.

There are reports of up to 350 conflict-related detentions by Ukrainian law enforcement officers including four cases where the individuals’ relatives received no information regarding their formal arrest, place of detention or their fate.

Furthermore, I am very concerned by the abundance of videos available through open sources depicting interrogations of prisoners of war that have been taken by both Ukrainian and Russian forces.

We have also received some allegations of conflict-related sexual violence, including rape, and have been working to corroborate them.

Additionally, freedom of expression is under threat. Every day, many journalists are courageously fighting a crucial battle against mounting misinformation and propaganda, often putting their own lives at great risk.

Seven journalists and media workers have been killed since hostilities began, and another 15 have come under armed attack, nine of whom were injured. We have also documented the arbitrary detention and the possible enforced disappearance of 22 journalists and civil society activists who have been vocal against the invasion in Kyiv, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia regions.

I underscore that independent, objective reporting of the facts on the ground is absolutely vital to counter the harmful spread of misinformation and propaganda.

The devastating consequences of this war are being felt far outside Ukraine’s borders. Nearly a quarter of Ukraine’s population have been forced to flee – over 4 million people have fled the country since the attack began, and an estimated 6.5 million are internally displaced.

It is encouraging to see the outpouring of support offered to refugees by Ukraine’s neighbours and other countries around the world. I reiterate that it is essential to extend such welcome to all who have fled, without discrimination.

I also urge destination countries to provide particular protection to women and children, many of whom face risks of human trafficking, including sexual and labour exploitation.

Additionally, a rise in Russophobia has been observed in a number of countries. My Office continues to monitor this closely.

As the war approaches its sixth week, I reiterate my calls for States to respect and uphold international humanitarian and human rights law. I urge humanitarian assistance to be delivered safely and effectively.

All civilians must be protected and those who wish to leave must be provided safe passage in the direction they choose. And prisoners of war must be treated with dignity and full respect for their rights.

The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine will continue its vital monitoring role. Despite the very difficult security context, staff in various parts of the country continue to document civilian casualties, the impact of hostilities and violations of human rights. I take this opportunity to thank all who are working to assist the people of Ukraine.

Every day, my colleagues are listening to the heartbreaking stories of Ukrainians whose lives have been shattered by these brutal attacks. Just last week, they asked a simple question to a displaced man from a town in eastern Ukraine – “where are you from?” His reply: “I am from Izium, a city that no longer exists.”

The terror and agony of the Ukrainian people is palpable and is being felt around the world. They want the war to stop, and to return to peace, safety and human dignity.

It is long past time to heed their call.

IPS UN Bureau

 


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Excerpt:

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
In an address to the 49th session of the Human Rights Council

Vita Inclinata Expands Into the Middle East Market

BROOMFIELD, Colo., WASHINGTON, and DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, March 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Vita Inclinata (Vita), developer and producer of helicopter and crane load stabilization and precision hardware, today announced ALEC Engineering and Contracting (ALEC) piloted the company's Vita Lifting System in Q4, 2021. ALEC selected Vita Inclinata's Lifting System for field trial after a comprehensive evaluation. The Vita system was initially inspected in the UAE by Astron Certification, in accordance with International and UAE lifting standards.

As a leading construction company in the GCC, ALEC owns and operates its own equipment including 33 cranes, 122 pieces of heavy plant equipment, and 8 hoists. The company has successfully delivered over 100 complex projects across diverse sectors including airports, retail spaces, hotels & resorts, high–rise buildings, and themed projects. The company's focus on pioneering digital technologies enables ground–breaking innovation, increased efficiency, and collaboration with building""technology partners such as Vita. The Vita partnership enables ALEC to gather data on lift speed, ease of placement, time savings, and safety/reduced risk capabilities.

"Dubai's construction projects are constantly challenged with extreme heat and wind conditions that often create significant safety hazards and extended timelines," said Caleb Carr, Vita Inclinata CEO. "We are honored ALEC selected our lift system for evaluation and excited to see that our technology performed so well in these high–profile evaluations."

After a brief training and certification program, ALEC took control of the Vita Load Pilot (VLP) and conducted a multi–week field trial on two separate sites in the UAE. Although the smallest of Vita's industrial systems, the VLP was pushed to its functional limits and performed flawlessly""providing remote, precision load control without taglines at heights over 200m, traversing or "walking" around corners, and in high–wind conditions.

"As a multi–disciplinary company, ALEC has built a reputation for solving problems by using innovation to help execute complex projects on time, on budget, and safely," said Imad Itani, Innovation Manager for ALEC. "We were impressed by the Vita Lifting System's rugged, easy–to–use, semi–automated load control technology that will improve operations by improving efficiency, reducing downtime caused by high winds, minimizing risk to load and life on the worksite, as well as driving bottom–line savings."

About ALEC

ALEC Engineering and Contracting LLC (ALEC), part of the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), is a large construction company with related businesses operating in the GCC with a presence in Africa. ALEC has consistently evolved and grown over the last 20 years to become a trusted partner for the execution of complex and iconic construction projects. The company builds and provides construction solutions to exceed our clients' expectations for quality, safety, functionality, and aesthetics. We have received numerous awards for excellence, quality, safety, reliability, and sustainability and are recognized as a leading contractor in the region. For more information, visit www.alec.ae

About Vita Inclinata

A friend's death during a rescue operation""with a helicopter close but unable to stabilize due to weather and terrain""was the genesis of Vita Inclinata. Founded in 2015 as a way to solve a real problem, Vita today controls chaotic swinging and spin and adds safety and precision for rotor–wing and fixed–wing aircraft and cranes. With the mission of "Bring them home, every time," Vita's technology changes the narrative while saving lives, time, and money across industries, including search and rescue, military, firefighting, public safety, construction, wind energy, and oil and gas. The company is headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado, with offices in Washington, DC, and Huntsville, Alabama. For more information, please visit www.vitatech.co.

For more information, contact:
Betsey Rogers
BridgeView Marketing
603–821–0809
betsey@bridgeviewmarketing.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/94d125ca–41e8–4266–ab2a–7586af06767f


New Seed Bank to Support Agriculture of the Future

A technician dressed to withstand the freezing temperatures holds a tray of seeds in the Seeds of the Future gene bank. The last phase of the process consists of storing the bags of classified seeds in a room with a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius, awaiting shipment to those interested in using them, from the headquarters of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Palmira, in southwestern Colombia. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

A technician dressed to withstand the freezing temperatures holds a tray of seeds in the Seeds of the Future gene bank. The last phase of the process consists of storing the bags of classified seeds in a room with a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius, awaiting shipment to those interested in using them, from the headquarters of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Palmira, in southwestern Colombia. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

By Emilio Godoy
PALMIRA, Colombia , Mar 30 2022 – As he points to a white shelf that holds bean seeds, Austrian biologist Peter Wenzl explains that one of them, obtained in Ecuador, provided a gene for the discovery that major seed protein arcelin offers resistance to the bean weevil.

The finding made it possible to develop varieties tolerant to this common pest and thus avoid substantial losses in one of the crops that feed humanity.

“Our aim is to do research, to understand the development of improved varieties. The seed bank is genetic insurance for the future,” said the biologist, who directs the germplasm bank of the Alliance of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and Biodiversity International.

They are two of the 15 scientific centers of the CGIAR, formerly the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, a consortium of food research organizations promoting food security that is based in Montpellier, France.

The new gene bank, Seeds of the Future, was inaugurated on Mar. 16 with the presence of Colombian President Iván Duque, in an event that also announced a donation of 16 million dollars from the Bezos Earth Fund, created by the founder of U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos.

The facility represents an architectural, environmental and technological leap forward from the previous bank operated by CIAT in the town of Palmira in the southwestern Colombian department of Valle del Cauca.

Founded in 1973, the former seed bank already stored the largest number of cassava (Manihot esculenta), bean and tropical forage seeds on the planet.

Seeds of the Future, the name of the new gene bank, seeks to safeguard global crop diversity and protect the future of food, as well as to study and understand genetic traits to discover more nutritious crops that are resistant to pests and to the effects of the climate crisis.

It also aims to share seeds, information and technology with partners and vulnerable farmers around the world.

The new seed bank, whose construction began in 2018 with an investment of 17 million dollars, has seed modules, a digital laboratory, a seed health laboratory and a laboratory for in vitro testing of cassava.

Of this total, the Alliance contributed 11 million dollars, the Colombian government provided three million dollars and several donors made up the rest. It employs some 60 people, while around 900 work at the center.

In addition, the new facility plans to deep freeze seeds by means of cryopreservation using liquid nitrogen, for long-term storage.

During a tour of the new seed bank by a small group of journalists, including IPS, Wenzl said that with the new facilities there will be more capacity for storage, research and new projects.

The new germplasm bank Seeds of the Future, inaugurated on Mar. 16 in Palmira, in the southwestern Colombian department of Valle del Cauca, has eco-technologies such as rainwater harvesting, a water recycling system and solar panels. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The new germplasm bank Seeds of the Future, inaugurated on Mar. 16 in Palmira, in the southwestern Colombian department of Valle del Cauca, has eco-technologies such as rainwater harvesting, a water recycling system and solar panels. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Faced with the effects of the climate emergency on agriculture, such as higher temperatures, intense droughts and the proliferation of pests, the work of the gene bank shows the importance of adaptation, such as safeguarding the best seeds, and the search for improved varieties.

In fact, in its report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to the climate crisis, released on Feb. 28, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for greater diversity in food production.

The IPCC’s demand arises from the fact that climate risks go beyond drought, since by the end of this century almost a third of the world’s crop fields will be unfit for production unless the world reduces polluting emissions.

Since its creation, the bank has distributed more than 500,000 samples from 141 countries to more than 160 nations.

It has done so on the basis of 37,938 bean varieties (46 species from 112 nations), 23,100 forage varieties (734 variants from 75 countries) and 6,600 cassava varieties (the largest number in the world, with more than 30 species from 28 countries).

The material belongs to the nations of origin, but the samples are freely available.

The gene bank also has wild varieties of five domesticated bean species and germplasm from 40 wild specimens. The cassava collection has 250 genotypes of wild species. More than a third of the tuber’s diversity comes from Colombia and almost a quarter from Brazil.

The operations at the new headquarters will strengthen the work with similar collections, such as the 100 gene banks operating in Mexico, 88 in Peru, 56 in Brazil, 47 in Argentina and 25 in Colombia.

The process of storing seeds with the embryos of future plants in the new facility in Palmira, in southwestern Colombia, begins with the analysis of their characteristics, as practiced by researcher Mercedes Parra at the Seeds of the Future gene bank. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

The process of storing seeds with the embryos of future plants in the new facility in Palmira, in southwestern Colombia, begins with the analysis of their characteristics, as practiced by researcher Mercedes Parra at the Seeds of the Future gene bank. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

Laborious process

When material arrives from a university, scientific center or grower group, researchers examine its characteristics to verify that it meets quality and biosafety requirements. They then inspect its genetic structure, in a first step to reveal properties that can lead to resistance to pests or drought or to better yields.

This information goes to the center’s database and to the digital laboratory equipment, which performs technological feats to collate, sift and correlate the information. The last step consists of vacuum storage in small bags at -18 degrees Celsius, in a process that takes three to four months.

The bank only collects single seeds, to make the effort of safeguarding the germplasm – of which it creates three backup copies – efficient.

It shares each one with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, another CGIAR partner located in central Mexico, epicenter of the so-called green revolution that increased food production in the developing world at the cost of polluting the soil with synthetic fertilizers.

It also sends another to the Global Seed Vault, the Noah’s Ark of future food built in 2008 and located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, and managed by the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center.

CIAT, with 400 hectares of land in the municipality of Palmira, near the city of Cali, Colombia’s third largest city in terms of population and economy, has 22 hectares planted with cassava, two with beans and another 10 with forage plants, to test techniques to improve these crops.

CIAT incorporates cutting-edge technology, such as the autonomous robot "Don Roberto", in a collaboration with Mineral, a sustainable agriculture project of X, the innovation plant of the U.S. transnational Alphabet, parent company of Google. Don Roberto collects data on the status of beans and other seeds critical to global food security. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

CIAT incorporates cutting-edge technology, such as the autonomous robot “Don Roberto”, in a collaboration with Mineral, a sustainable agriculture project of X, the innovation plant of the U.S. transnational Alphabet, parent company of Google. Don Roberto collects data on the status of beans and other seeds critical to global food security. CREDIT: Emilio Godoy/IPS

In addition, the center has four other research sites on farms in the area to study crops and silvopastoral systems.

A seed holds ancestral secrets and is at the same time memory and inheritance, a reminder of what its family was and a potential announcement of what it can be.

The seed bank also contains a paradox, since the basis of its collection dates back to a time when anyone could appropriate a material and take it far from its place of origin.

But with the advent of biodiversity and species protection treaties in the 1990s, this flow, also intended to safeguard that same biological wealth, stopped.

Today, 20 species are the basis of the world’s food supply, due to the concentration and assimilation of previously more diverse diets. Historically, humankind has used 5,000 species, but another 369,000 could serve as food.

“Many of these materials have been lost in agriculture. In Valle del Cauca there are no longer bean or cassava crops, only sugarcane,” said Daniel Debouck, director emeritus of the germplasm bank.

Another view of the new state-of-the-art building that houses the Seeds of the Future gene bank in Palmira, in southwestern Colombia, at the headquarters of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), where the seeds of the world's agricultural future are stored in times of uncertainty due to the climate crisis. CREDIT: Courtesy of Ciat-Biodiversity International Alliance

Another view of the new state-of-the-art building that houses the Seeds of the Future gene bank in Palmira, in southwestern Colombia, at the headquarters of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), where the seeds of the world’s agricultural future are stored in times of uncertainty due to the climate crisis. CREDIT: Courtesy of Ciat-Biodiversity International Alliance

The data revolution in agriculture

One of CIAT’s innovations consists of the use of massive data and artificial intelligence, i.e. the use of computer codes to process the information.

“We work to avoid duplication of seeds and to interconnect the data to improve varieties. If the data yield important information on genes, they can be used for genome editing (cutting out harmful genes),” seed bank researcher Mónica Carvajal told IPS.

Of the total number of materials, 7,000 already have a complete digital sequence; in the case of beans, only 400. This year, the team is concentrating on the series of the entire collection of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and the tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius), native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico and more resistant to dry climates than the common bean.

“We are interested in finding resistance to heat and drought,” the expert said.

Information from digital sequencing has gained relevance in recent years, due to the advances made by information technology. In fact, CGIAR has a big data platform in place to enhance collaboration between its partners and research.

As part of its strategy to link research and consumption, the Alliance is developing a project to biofortify rice, beans and corn with iron and zinc. Since 2016, they have released more than 40 bean varieties in Central America and Colombia, benefiting some 500,000 people. In Colombia, they have distributed two types of beans, one of rice and one of corn.

The seed bank building holds Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and the Living Building Challenge from the Seattle-based International Living Future Institute.

Among its innovations, it operates with a rainwater harvesting system that meets its water needs, backed by a water recycling scheme; solar panels that provide half of the electricity; and a pergola made of certified wood that prevents heat accumulation.

Adagio Therapeutics Announces ADG20 (adintrevimab) is the First Monoclonal Antibody to Meet Primary Endpoints with Statistical Significance Across Pre- and Post-exposure Prophylaxis and Treatment for COVID-19 and Plans to Seek U.S. Emergency Use Authorization

Risk of symptomatic COVID–19 was reduced by 71% compared to placebo in pre–exposure prophylaxis and 75% compared to placebo in post–exposure prophylaxis

Risk of hospitalization or death in participants with mild to moderate COVID–19 was reduced by 66% compared to placebo in the primary efficacy analysis population and by 77% compared to placebo in participants who received treatment within three days of symptom onset

Full year and fourth quarter 2021 financial results reported; $591 million in cash and investments expected to be sufficient to fund operations into second half of 2024

WALTHAM, Mass., March 30, 2022 (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, reported that the primary endpoints were met with statistical significance for all three indications in the company's ongoing global Phase 2/3 clinical trials evaluating its investigational drug adintrevimab (ADG20) as a pre–and–post–exposure prophylaxis (EVADE) and treatment (STAMP) for COVID–19. EVADE and STAMP were primarily conducted during a time when pre–Omicron SARS–CoV–2 variants were dominant. Following the emergence of the Omicron variant, in a pre–specified exploratory analysis in a subset of the pre–exposure cohort, a clinically meaningful reduction in cases of symptomatic COVID–19 was observed with adintrevimab compared to placebo. Across both trials, a single intramuscular (IM) administration of adintrevimab at the 300mg dose had a similar safety profile to that of placebo. Based on these data, Adagio plans to engage with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to submit an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) application in the second quarter of 2022 for adintrevimab for both the prevention and treatment of COVID–19.

In addition, Adagio provided an update on its ongoing Phase 1 study evaluating adintrevimab at higher doses and on research activities related to adintrevimab re–engineering and the identification of new antibodies to potentially address COVID–19 and other viruses.

"COVID–19 continues to pose significant challenges globally as waning immunity combined with the emergence of resistant variants has led to ongoing waves of disease. We believe that a suite of options "" spanning prophylaxis and treatment "" is needed to effectively address this virus as it continues to evolve, and these data give us confidence in the potential role adintrevimab can play in physicians' arsenals," said David Hering, MBA, interim chief executive officer and chief operating officer of Adagio. "Based on the data from both EVADE and STAMP, including the impacts observed in preliminary analyses from participants enrolled after the emergence of the Omicron variant, our team is initiating discussions with the FDA and preparing an EUA submission for adintrevimab. With more than one million doses of adintrevimab secured for 2022 and a solid financial position expected to take us into the second half of 2024, we are optimistic about the road ahead and the impact adintrevimab could have for the many people around the globe, particularly those at high risk with co–morbidities, who continue to need options."

Michael Ison, M.D., M.S., professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and of Surgery in the Division of Organ Transplantation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, added, "the compelling data generated on adintrevimab in both of Adagio's clinical trials represent an important step toward further addressing the continuation of the COVID–19 pandemic. I am particularly encouraged by the consistent treatment effect observed across all three clinical settings and patient subpopulations, and the favorable safety profile, with just a single dose and convenient IM delivery for all patients. The risk–reduction in the post–exposure prophylaxis setting regardless of serostatus translates to real–world use when clinicians might not know the vaccination or prior infection status of their patients. In the STAMP trial, adintrevimab showed prevention of hospitalization and death in the face of the "highest–risk' variant (Delta) to–date."

EVADE Preliminary Data
EVADE is a global, multi–center, double–blind, placebo–controlled Phase 2/3 clinical trial evaluating adintrevimab at the 300mg IM dose in two independent cohorts for the prevention of COVID–19. The study includes a pre–exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) cohort and a post–exposure prophylaxis (PEP) cohort. The study population is comprised of adults and adolescents at risk of SARS–CoV–2 infection due to reported recent exposure or whose circumstances placed them at increased risk of acquiring SARS–CoV–2 infection and developing symptomatic COVID–19.

In the primary efficacy analysis of the PrEP cohort, adintrevimab was associated with a lower incidence of symptomatic COVID–19 compared with placebo through month three or the emergence of Omicron, whichever was earlier (12/730, 1.6% vs. 40/703, 5.7%, respectively). The standardized risk difference was –4.0% (95% CI ""6.0, –2.1; p <0.0001), demonstrating a 71% relative risk reduction in favor of adintrevimab through three months. There were five (0.7%) COVID–19 related hospitalizations in the placebo group compared to none in the adintrevimab group. In a pre–specified exploratory analysis of the PrEP cohort, which included 402 participants (196 and 206 in the adintrevimab and placebo groups, respectively) following the emergence of Omicron (BA.1), a clinically meaningful reduction in cases of symptomatic COVID–19 was observed with adintrevimab, as compared to placebo. Adintrevimab was associated with a relative risk reduction of 59% and 47% with a median follow–up duration of 56 and 77 days, respectively (nominal p <0.05).

In the primary efficacy analysis in the PEP cohort, adintrevimab met statistical significance and was associated with a lower incidence of symptomatic COVID–19 through day 28 compared with placebo (3/173, 1.7% vs. 12/175, 6.9%, respectively). The standardized risk difference was –4.9% (95% CI: –8.8, –1.0; p=0.0135), demonstrating a 75% relative risk reduction in favor of adintrevimab through 28 days. There were two (1.1%) COVID–19 related hospitalizations in the placebo group compared to none in the adintrevimab group.

In the EVADE cohorts across 1,239 adintrevimab–treated participants with a median range of follow up of 140 days for the PrEP cohort and 126 days for the PEP cohort as of the March 2, 2022, data cut off, the safety profile was similar to that of placebo. The incidence of adverse events (AEs), including serious adverse events (SAEs), was similar between adintrevimab and placebo groups. No study drug related SAEs, including deaths, were reported. The most frequently reported AEs were injection–site reactions, the majority of which were mild or moderate in severity and occurred with similar frequency in both groups.

STAMP Preliminary Data
STAMP is a global, multi–center, double–blind, placebo–controlled Phase 2/3 clinical trial evaluating adintrevimab at the 300mg IM dose in patients with mild to moderate COVID–19 who are at high risk for disease progression. Adintrevimab was associated with a statistically significant lower incidence of COVID–19 related hospitalization or all cause death through day 29 compared with placebo (8/169, 4.7% vs. 23/167, 13.8%), with a standardized risk difference of –8.6% (95% CI: –14.65, –2.57; p=0.0052), demonstrating a 66% relative risk reduction in favor of adintrevimab. There was one death (0.6%) in the adintrevimab group, compared with six deaths (3.6%) in the placebo group through day 29. In patients treated within three days of symptom onset (adintrevimab n=91, placebo n=85), adintrevimab reduced the risk of COVID–19 hospitalization or death from any cause by 77% compared to placebo. STAMP enrolled 63 participants (29 in the adintrevimab group and 34 in the placebo group) with COVID–19 infection with the Omicron SARS–CoV–2 variant. There were two events of COVID–19 related hospitalization and no deaths through day 29 among the patients with the Omicron variant, and both events of hospitalization occurred in the placebo group.

In STAMP, across 192 adintrevimab–treated participants with a median follow up of 73 days in the adintrevimab group as of the February 2, 2022, data cut off, the incidence of AEs, including SAEs, was lower in the adintrevimab group. No study drug related SAEs, including deaths, were reported. The most frequently reported AEs were injection–site reactions, all of which were mild or moderate in severity and occurred with similar frequency in both groups.

"On behalf of the entire Adagio team, I'd like to thank the numerous investigators, clinical teams and, most importantly, the patients, families and caregivers for their participation in our clinical trials. We are encouraged by the data and look forward to submitting an EUA and discussing these results with the FDA and other regulatory authorities. Further, we are continuing our research efforts to improve adintrevimab activity against Omicron and identify antibodies targeting novel domains, which will provide potential additional product candidates to take into clinical development. Collectively, these efforts showcase the ability of our platform and expertise to discover, design and engineer novel antibodies, and execute global clinical trials, to potentially address infectious diseases," said Ellie Hershberger, Pharm.D., chief development officer of Adagio.

Additional Development and Research Updates
Adagio continues to leverage its platform and expertise by conducting numerous efforts to address COVID–19, other coronaviruses, influenza and other infectious diseases, including:

  • Advancing a Phase 1 trial in healthy volunteers to evaluate pharmacokinetics and safety of additional higher doses of adintrevimab to supplement the data generated to date, which has evaluated doses up to 600mg IM. Preliminary safety data through two weeks post–dosing suggest a favorable safety profile at the 1200mg dose administered with IM injection or intravenously (IV).
  • Ongoing efforts to modify adintrevimab to improve binding to the Omicron subvariants (BA.1 and BA.2) in order to enhance neutralization potency while retaining the broad neutralization observed in vitro against other SARS–CoV–2 variants of concern. Re–engineered variants of ADG20 show over 100–fold improvement in binding and up to 40–fold enhanced neutralizing activity against the Omicron BA.1 variant while maintaining activity against all other variants of concern tested to date.
  • Ongoing discovery efforts to assess additional monoclonal antibodies from the company's proprietary library of previously isolated SARS–CoV–2 antibodies for neutralization breadth and potency, which could be developed as a standalone treatment or combination therapy. Novel antibodies isolated from Omicron breakthrough infection donors have displayed in vitro activity against the 2003 SARS virus and all SARS–CoV–2 variants of concern tested to date, including the BA.1 and BA.2 variants.
  • Continuing discovery efforts to identify novel, broadly neutralizing antibodies that target epitopes both within and outside the receptor binding domain of SARS–CoV–2 and pan betacoronavirus neutralizing antibodies.

Full Year and Fourth Quarter 2021 Financial Results

  • Cash Position and Financial Guidance: Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities were $591.4 million as of December 31, 2021. Based on current operating plans, Adagio expects its existing cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities will enable the company to fund its operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements into the second half of 2024.
  • R&D Expenses: Research and development (R&D) expenses, including in–process research and development expenses, were $68.4 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, and $190.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2021.
  • SG&A Expenses: Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses were $14.7 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, and $36.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2021.
  • Net Loss: Net loss was $83.0 million, or $0.77 basic and diluted net loss per share, for the quarter ended December 31, 2021, and $226.8 million, or $5.32 basic and diluted net loss per share, for the year ended December 31, 2021.

About Adintrevimab
Adintrevimab (ADG20), Adagio's lead product candidate, is designed to be a potent, broadly neutralizing antibody for both the prevention and treatment of COVID–19, including disease caused by most variants, as either a single or combination agent. Adintrevimab is being assessed in two separate Phase 2/3 clinical trials: the EVADE trial for the prevention of COVID–19 in both the post–exposure and pre–exposure settings, and the STAMP trial for the treatment of COVID–19. Preliminary data from these trials demonstrated that in the pre–Omicron population, adintrevimab met the primary endpoints across all three indications, demonstrating statistically significant and clinically meaningful efficacy. Across each of the trials, intramuscular (IM) administration of adintrevimab at the 300mg dose had a similar safety profile to that of placebo. Adintrevimab is also being evaluated in a Phase 1 study to evaluate safety and pharmacokinetics at higher doses, and as of an interim data cut, no study drug related adverse events, serious adverse events, injection–site reactions or hypersensitivity reactions were reported across all dose levels evaluated. Adintrevimab is an investigational monoclonal antibody that is not approved for use in any country. The safety and efficacy of adintrevimab have not been established.

About Adagio Therapeutics
Adagio (Nasdaq: ADGI) is a clinical–stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of differentiated products for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. The company is developing its lead product candidate, adintrevimab, for the prevention and treatment of COVID–19, the disease caused by the virus SARS–CoV–2 and its variants. Beyond COVID–19, Adagio is leveraging robust antibody discovery and development capabilities that have enabled expedited advancement of adintrevimab into clinical trials to develop therapeutic or preventative options for other infectious diseases, such as additional coronaviruses and influenza. Adintrevimab is an investigational monoclonal antibody that is not approved for use in any country. The safety and efficacy of adintrevimab have not been established. 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," "could", "expects," "intends," "potential", "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 adintrevimab, the review and analysis of data from our ongoing trials and the timing thereof, the initiation, modification and completion of studies or trials and related preparatory work, and our research and development programs; our plans related to engaging with regulatory authorities, including the timing of any regulatory submissions or applications; our pursuit of other strategies to broaden our portfolio of SARS–CoV–2 mAbs to address other SARS–CoV–2 variants of concern, including the Delta and Omicron variants; our discovery efforts to identify novel broadly neutralizing antibodies that target distinct epitopes both within and outside the receptor binding domain of SARS–CoV–2 and other beta coronaviruses; our expected cash runway; and other statements that are not historical fact. 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 and those of our collaborators, our clinical trials and our financial position, unexpected safety or efficacy data observed during preclinical studies or clinical trials, the predictability of clinical success of adintrevimab based on neutralizing activity in pre–clinical studies, variability of results in models used to predict activity against SARS–CoV–2 variants of concern, 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, including the outcome of our discussions with regulatory authorities concerning our Phase 2/3 clinical trials and the result of any emergency use application submission. 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 Form 10–Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2021 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), and in our other filings with the SEC, 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:
Dan Budwick, 1AB
dan@1abmedia.com

Investor Contact:
Monique Allaire, THRUST Strategic Communications
monique@thrustsc.com


ADAGIO THERAPEUTICS, INC.
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(UNAUDITED)
(In thousands, except share and per share amounts)

December 31,
2021 2020
Assets
Current assets:
Cash and cash equivalents $ 542,224 $ 114,988
Marketable securities 49,194 ""
Prepaid expenses and other current assets 25,293 2,394
Total current assets 616,711 117,382
Property and equipment, net 83 ""
Other non–current assets 3,297 ""
Total assets $ 620,091 $ 117,382
Liabilities, Convertible Preferred Stock and Stockholders' Equity (Deficit)
Current liabilities:
Accounts payable $ 5,783 $ 8,153
Accrued expenses 56,277 4,919
Total current liabilities 62,060 13,072
Early–exercise liability 6 11
Other non–current liabilities 6 ""
Total liabilities 62,072 13,083
Commitments and contingencies
Convertible preferred stock (Series A, B and C), $0.0001 par value; no shares authorized, issued and outstanding at December 31, 2021; 12,647,934 shares authorized, issued and outstanding at December 31, 2020; aggregate liquidation preference of $0 and $169,900 at December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively "" 169,548
Stockholders' equity (deficit):
Preferred stock (undesignated), $0.0001 par value; 10,000,000 shares authorized and no shares issued and outstanding at December 31 2021; no shares authorized, issued and outstanding at December 31, 2020 "" ""
Common stock, $0.0001 par value; 1,000,000,000 shares authorized, 111,251,660 shares issued and 110,782,909 shares outstanding at December 31, 2021; 150,000,000 shares authorized, 28,193,240 shares
issued and 5,593,240 shares outstanding as of December 31, 2020
11 1
Treasury stock, at cost; 468,751 shares and 22,600,000 shares at December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively "" (85 )
Additional paid–in capital 850,125 154
Accumulated other comprehensive loss (8 ) ""
Accumulated deficit (292,109 ) (65,319 )
Total stockholders' equity (deficit) 558,019 (65,249 )
Total liabilities, convertible preferred stock and stockholders' equity (deficit) $ 620,091 $ 117,382


ADAGIO THERAPEUTICS, INC.
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS AND COMPREHENSIVE LOSS
(UNAUDITED)
(In thousands, except share and per share amounts)

Year Ended
December 31, 2021
Period from
June 3, 2020
(Inception) to
December 31, 2020
Operating expenses:
Research and development(1) $ 182,891 $ 21,992
Acquired in–process research and development(2) 7,500 40,125
Selling, general and administrative 36,517 3,210
Total operating expenses 226,908 65,327
Loss from operations (226,908 ) (65,327 )
Other income (expense):
Other income (expense), net 118 8
Total other income (expense), net 118 8
Net loss (226,790 ) (65,319 )
Other comprehensive income (loss):
Unrealized loss on available–for–sale securities, net of tax (8 ) ""
Comprehensive loss $ (226,798 ) $ (65,319 )
Net loss per share attributable to common stockholders, basic and diluted $ (5.32 ) $ (18.10 )
Weighted–average common shares outstanding, basic and diluted 42,621,265 3,608,491

(1) Includes related–party amounts of $4,150 for the year ended December 31, 2021 and $595 for the period from June 3, 2020 (inception) to December 31, 2020.
(2) Includes related–party amounts of $7,500 for the year ended December 31, 2021 and $39,915 for the period from June 3, 2020 (inception) to December 31, 2020.


Women, Children Fleeing Ukraine Vulnerable to Human Trafficking

A girl looks for toys among the gifts left for refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine. With women and children forming the overwhelming majority of people fleeing the country, rights groups are concerned about trafficking and sexual violence. Credit: Ed Holt/IPS

By Ed Holt
BRATISLAVA, Mar 30 2022 – States must do more to protect women and children fleeing war in Ukraine, rights groups have urged, amid growing concerns they are falling prey to trafficking and sexual violence.

Since the Russian invasion on February 24, an estimated 3.5 million people have fled the country, while another 6.5 million have been internally displaced.

Local and international humanitarian organisations have warned these people – overwhelmingly women and children –  are vulnerable to trafficking and gender-based violence within and outside the country as they make often long, dangerous journeys in a desperate bid to reach safety.

“Wherever people have to flee their homes, there will be vulnerabilities [for those fleeing]. The risks are rampant in any situation like that. We are deeply concerned about reports of trafficking and sexual violence,” Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson at UNHCR, told IPS.

Ukraine’s refugee crisis –  described by the UN as the world’s fastest-growing since WWII – has seen millions of people flee to neighbouring states Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Moldova.

While there has been a massive humanitarian response in those countries and across Europe and in other states, much of the help refugees have been given has been organised ad-hoc by aid groups and individual volunteers.

Organisations and volunteers working with refugees at border crossings and transit points have warned a lack of official organisation has left those arriving at serious risk of exploitation.

Nico Delvino, a researcher at Amnesty International who has been monitoring the situation at Polish border crossings with Ukraine, told IPS: “The system [for receiving refugees] exposes them to risks, not just trafficking and sexual violence, but other predatory behaviour.

“The outpouring of solidarity from volunteers has been heart-warming, but it has not been matched by the state’s organisation. There is little or no coordination, there is a lack of management at the borders. Anyone can show up and put a vest on and say they are a volunteer. There are no checks on volunteers. It is a chaotic and dangerous situation.”

There have already been anecdotal reports of trafficking and sexual violence against refugees.

Volunteers and aid groups who spoke to IPS said they had heard of women who had been raped, attacked, solicited by men, or approached in what appeared to be attempts by criminals to traffic them.

Interpol has now deployed officers to help investigate alleged trafficking in Moldova, where 376,000 refugees have fled since the start of the war, while local police forces are reportedly investigating alleged incidents in other countries.

Meanwhile, the specific profile of the refugee crisis may have exacerbated the vulnerability of those fleeing, say aid organisations.

The overwhelming majority of those trying to leave Ukraine are women and children – the UNHCR told IPS they make up as many as 90% of those fleeing the war – as a Ukrainian government order has banned men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country.

“What is different about this crisis of displaced people is that when you have women with children and old people, they have multiple responsibilities, and responsibilities have always been used by traffickers as a means of control – threats to family are made. But now, these can be made directly. That these women have multiple responsibilities makes them more vulnerable,” Eliza Galos, Migrant Protection and Assistance Programme Co-ordinator at International Organisation for Migration in Ukraine, told IPS.

Children are at particular risk, with a number of the latter often making journeys unaccompanied.

UNICEF has said in a statement  that the war in Ukraine has displaced More than half of Ukraine’s children displaced after one month of war (unicef.org) 4.3 million children, with 1.8 million of those having crossed into neighbouring countries as refugees.

Missing Children Europe, an umbrella group for 24 child-protection organisations across Europe, has warned that many unaccompanied minors are disappearing at the borders.

“There are so many children […] that we lost track of,” Aagje Ieven, secretary-general of Missing Children Europe, told international media: “This is a huge problem, not just because it means they easily go missing, and are difficult to find, but also because it makes trafficking so easy.”

However, it is not just the people leaving Ukraine who are in danger of being exploited.

There are an estimated 6.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs) within Ukraine, and humanitarian groups say many among them are also at risk of falling into the hands of trafficking gangs or being subjected to sexual violence.

“Like refugees, IDPs are also facing threats. The threats to women are sexual violence and exploitation. For IDP children, for various reasons – for example, men having to stay in Ukraine and mothers being abroad working – we see many of them ending up travelling alone. We are worried about the risk of trafficking of these unaccompanied children,” Galos said.

Past experience suggests trafficking gangs are taking advantage of the dire situation in Ukraine, with many women and children forced to suddenly leave their homes with their family networks broken and their financial security often under threat.

A 2018 report by the Council of Europe highlighted the increased vulnerability to human trafficking of millions of IDPs who were forced to flee their homes following the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the armed conflict in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Meanwhile, IOM estimates  that 46,000 Ukrainians suffered from human trafficking during 2019-2021 alone.

“Human trafficking cases [in Ukraine] are difficult to identify, not least because there is a state of war at the moment, but it is reasonable to assume that it is going on – it happened before after the Crimea annexation and conflict in Luhansk and Donetsk – and it can eventually be detected,” said Galos.

Aid groups say authorities in countries receiving Ukrainian refugees must put in place proper systems to register and follow up on those arriving and ensure they do not become victims of criminal gangs or others looking to exploit their vulnerable situation.

International humanitarian groups, such as UNHCR, UNICEF, and others, are working with local authorities in countries receiving refugees to set up systems to, among others, vet volunteers at border crossings and transit centres.

Meanwhile, in some places, NGOs are handing out information leaflets to refugees, warning them to be careful of accepting offers of accommodation or transport from strangers, while hotlines have been set up for people to report any suspicions they have of potential criminal activity or danger.

In a statement, Helga Gayer, President of GRETA, the Council of Europe’s expert group on trafficking, said: “People fleeing war are physically and psychologically weakened, unfamiliar with their new surroundings and highly vulnerable to falling prey to criminals. Structures receiving refugees must ensure that they are informed of their rights, in a language they can understand, and provided with psychological and material support. The authorities must take steps to prevent fraudulent offers of transportation, accommodation, and work, and strengthen safety protocols for unaccompanied children, linking them to national child protection systems.”

However, at some border crossings and transit centres, there seems to still be no way for refugees to check on the veracity of any offers they may receive.

“One refugee we spoke to told us she was looking for transport and was aware that she needed to be careful and check that anyone she took a ride from was trustworthy, but she didn’t know how she could check that. We don’t know what she did in the end because there is no way of following up on people. There is no registration of who is coming or leaving the centres, nor who they are leaving with,” said Delvino.

Notwithstanding any efforts by authorities to strengthen protection against exploitation, the situation for the women and children involved in the crisis, and the risks they face, is not expected to improve anytime soon.

“Women and girls face greater risk in conflict displacement situations. Refugee numbers are going up, and until there is an end to what is going on in Ukraine, we will continue to see people on the move, and we can expect to see displacement continue,” said Mantoo.

IPS UN Bureau Report

 


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