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British Airways slashes flight and holiday prices – Portugal, US, Caribbean & Europe deals

As part of the sale, there are also a number of Avios part payment deals on offer for Executive Club Members to make trips even more affordable.

These include New York World Traveller return flights for £179 plus 29,900 Avios, or Barbados for £215 plus 41,600 Avios.

In Club Europe, customers can pick up return flights to Malaga for £53 plus 27,300 Avios, Faro for £75 plus 27,300 Avios or Nice for £97 plus 38,900 Avios.

BA has introduced a range of safety measures throughout the pandemic to ensure the safety of passengers and crew onboard.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

UK slashes jab order by 10 million – why?

There has been no clear reason as to why, however, Britain’s vaccine rollout has been progressing at speed, and the company also faces issues with its supplies to Europe and reports of rare blood clots.

Trials found it prevented serious illness but was 67 percent effective overall when moderate cases were included.

The Belgian made vaccine is produced by the pharmaceutical company Janssen.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.

“As Janssen is a single-dose vaccine, it will play an important role in the months to come as we redouble our efforts to encourage everyone to get their jabs and potentially begin a booster programme later this year.”

The UK regulator MHRA was initially concerned about the use of the vaccine in the UK after concerns were raised in the US about potential links to highly rare blood clots.

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Novel IL-6 Antibody Slashes CRP up to 92% in High-risk ASCVD

Inhibition of interleukin (IL)-6 with ziltivekimab reduces multiple biomarkers of inflammation and thrombosis in patients at high atherosclerotic risk with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease (CKD) and elevated C-reactive protein, results of the phase 2 RESCUE trial show.

At 12 weeks, median levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were reduced by 77%, 88%, and 92% with 7.5 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg doses of ziltivekimab, respectively, every 4 weeks, compared with a 4% reduction with placebo (P < .0001 for all).

Dose-dependent increases were also seen in the number of patients who achieved both a reduction in hsCRP of at least 50% and an on-treatment hsCRP of less than 2 mg/L (66%, 80%, 93% vs 4%; P < .001 for all).

Paul Ridker

“The magnitude of change with ziltivekimab on hsCRP was nearly twice as large in RESCUE as that previously observed in CANTOS, where canakinumab resulted in 15% to 20% reductions in event rates,” Paul Ridker, MD, MPH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, said.

The results were reported at the American College of Cardiology 2021 Scientific Session (ACC.21) and published simultaneously in the Lancet.

The landmark CANTOS trial showed that targeting the IL-1 to IL-6 to CRP pathway of innate immunity with canakinumab (Ilaris), a monoclonal antibody directed at IL-1β, reduced hsCRP by 35% to 40% and reduced the risk for MI, stroke, and cardiac death independent of low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) lowering.

Clinical benefit was greater in those with robust IL-6 reductions, suggesting that IL-6 itself may be the primary target for atheroprotection, Ridker said. Further support has come from recent Mendelian analyses and murine models showing anti-IL-6 receptor antibodies slow atherosclerotic progression.

RESCUE focused on high-risk patients with CKD and an elevated hsCRP because this is a group with considerable unmet clinical need in which IL-6 correlates with the severity of renal impairment and level of atherosclerotic risk, he explained.

The 264 patients with stage 3 to 5 CKD and a hsCRP of at least 2 mg/L were randomly assigned to subcutaneous placebo or ziltivekimab at 7.5 mg, 15 mg, or 30 mg every 4 weeks for up to 24 weeks.

The median estimated glomerular filtration rate was 38 mL/min per 1.73 m2, median hsCRP was 5.7 mg/L, and median IL-6 level was 5.6 pg/mL. The patients’ median age was 66 years, and two-thirds were taking statins.

In addition to reductions in the primary endpoint of hsCRP, dose-dependent changes with 7.5 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg ziltivekimab, compared with placebo, were seen in:

  • fibrinogen: –25%, –25%, –37% vs –2%
  • haptoglobin: –30%, –40%, –56% vs –3%
  • serum amyloid A: –40%, –50%, –42% vs +2%
  • secretory phospholipase A2: –27%, –41%, –49% vs 0%.

Interestingly, levels of lipoprotein(a) were also lowered (by 16%, 20%, 25% vs 0%). This is “very important because prior IL-6 inhibitors and other IL-6 drugs are known to elevate atherogenic lipids. We did not see that effect with ziltivekimab,” Ridker said. The ApoB:ApoA ratio was unchanged (0%, 0%, –5% vs –2%).

Perhaps equally important for cardiologists is the potential for adverse events with anti-inflammatory drugs, particularly IL-6 therapies, he noted. There was no evidence of grade 2, 3, or 4 sustained neutropenia or thrombocytopenia and no alanine aminotransferase or aspartate aminotransferase levels greater than three times the upper limit of normal.

Serious infections were reported in five patients in the placebo group, 11 in the ziltivekimab 7.5 mg group, five in the 15 mg group, and three in the 30 mg group.

“Ziltivekimab is an IL-6 ligand monoclonal rather than an IL-6 receptor inhibitor and it had been hypothesized that that might improve the specificity and therefore reduce the off-target issues and that seems to be holding up here,” Ridker told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology. “It’s also a fully human monoclonal, so we had no injection-site reactions.”

“This is only a 24-week study and the numbers are relatively small, but the critical thing is we aren’t seeing an increase in liver dysfunction or neutropenia or thrombocytopenia compared to placebo,” he said. “And the lipids are stable. That’s very good news. So all these things point in the right direction that we can now embark on a large-scale outcomes trial.”

Novo Nordisk, which snapped up the drug as part of last year’s $ 725 million acquisition of France’s Corvida Therapeutics, is backing the double-blind cardiovascular outcomes ZEUS trial, which is evaluating ziltivekimab 15 mg in more than 6000 CKD patients with high-risk features similar to those in the pilot study.

Although the CANTOS results with canakinumab created a stir, its annual price tag of roughly $ 77,000 limits use outside its orphan drug designation to treat cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes. Ziltivekimab, however, is being developed by Novo Nordisk specifically for atherosclerosis, Ridker said. “To their credit, they are going after a common disease, so they’re going to have to have it appropriated priced.”

Nephrologist Joel Topf, MD, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Detroit, told theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology that ziltivekimab certainly has biological activity, but outcomes data are necessary to determine whether the “dramatic reductions in IL-6” will translate to better cardiovascular protection.

“I hope so,” he added. “My kidney patients have an unacceptably high CV disease burden and, despite great efforts with cardiac catheterization in ISCHEMIA-CKD, implantable cardiac defibrillators in ICD2, and statins in the 4D trial, we have not been able to move the needle.”

After the formal presentation, discussant Pradeep Natarajan, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, Boston, congratulated Ridker on the results, and said: “I love that ZEUS is focusing on patients with CKD, a group with high biomarkers of inflammation, high cardiovascular disease risk, and often excluded from cardiovascular trials, often for competing risks.”

Natarajan observed that multiple inhibitors of the NLRP inflammasome are currently available or in development for cardiovascular disease, inhibiting the inflammasome itself or targeting IL-1β or IL-6, and asked about the relative strengths of targeting each of the pathways. “A related question: just like we target cholesterol through multiple different pathways, do you think there will be a role for all these different agents for inflammation?”

Ridker replied that there are oral agents that can attack the upstream NLRP3 that are a few years off in terms of moving into the atherosclerotic space, but they could run the risk of downstream adverse effects. IL-1β was shown to work in CANTOS, but it’s predominantly being developed as an oncologic agent because of its huge effects on lung cancer.

“IL-6 is likely to be the fundamental target and probably the target for why IL-1 inhibition in CANTOS worked. And that’s why focusing with this drug on IL-6 itself is what our chosen next step is going to be,” he said. “But Pradeep, you’re absolutely right. At the end of the day, we’re going to learn a lot about inflammation biology through these new trials and it’s a very exciting time for the cardiovascular community.

“My prediction would be that 5 to 10 years from now, we’re going to be giving everybody aggressive lipid lowering and aggressive inflammation lowering. We just have to figure out the right combinations,” he said.

The study was sponsored by Corvidia and Novo Nordisk. Ridker reported receiving research grants from Kowa, Novartis, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and the National Cancer Institute; and serving as a consultant to Corvidia, Novo Nordisk, Inflazome, Novartis, Amgen, Merck, Jansen, Agepha, Flame, and CiviBio. He is also a coinventor on patents that are no longer active related to the use of inflammatory biomarkers in cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

American College of Cardiology 2021 Scientific Session. Presented May 17, 2021.

Lancet. Published online May 17, 2021. Abstract

Follow Patrice Wendling on Twitter: @pwendl. Follow ACC.21 coverage from theheart.org | Medscape Cardiology on Twitter and Facebook.

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This post originally appeared on Medscape Medical News Headlines

Russia slashes dollar & euro from reserves in favor of gold & yuan

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) said in its annual report that in 2020 it reduced the share of the euro, the dollar and the pound in the country’s international reserves in favor of gold, yuan and other currencies.

Thus, the share of the euro in Russia’s forex reserves decreased over the past year by 1.6 percentage points to 29.2% as of January 1. The share of the greenback dropped 3.3 percentage points, to 21.2%. The British pound’s share was also slightly down – by 0.2 percentage points, to 6.3%.

At the same time, Russia’s gold reserves surged to 23.3% from 19.5% a year earlier. The Chinese currency also saw a boost, with yuan holdings growing to 12.8%. The share of other foreign currencies increased by 0.8 percentage points to 7.2%, the regulator said.
Also on rt.com Russia’s foreign exchange reserves continue to rise despite sanctions & pandemic
According to the CBR, the Japanese yen accounted for 3.9% of Russia’s foreign holdings, Canadian dollars for 2.5% and Australian dollars for 0.8%.

In 2020, the value of the central bank’s assets in foreign currencies and gold increased to $ 588 billion.

Russia has been steadily diversifying national reserves since Washington began imposing sanctions in 2014, in order to cut its economy’s reliance on the US dollar. In 2019, the share of bullion holdings in Russia’s reserves surpassed US dollar holdings for the first time.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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This post originally appeared on RT Business News

John Lewis slashes prices in new low-cost homeware range

John Lewis has launched thousands of new low-price products in a range called Anyday. The retailer has financially struggled during the pandemic, and so it hopes to attract more customers to its stores and website with the new range.
The company also said earlier this year that it will launch concept stores in some Waitrose stores across the UK.

John Lewis and Partners owns Waitrose and has said that it would roll out mini stores in 50 or more of the supermarket’s shops.

The low-price Anyday range is another of the retailer’s ideas to appeal to more customers, especially younger families.

Items in the range include everything from face cloths to sofas, all spanning eight key areas of the home: bedroom, dining room, living room, kitchen, bathroom, nursery, home office and outdoor.

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The range also features baby care products, including clothing and car seats – the latter priced at just £60.

Other items include a pedal bin, a ribbed mug, a shower radio, a bed frame, a recycled cotton rug, and various lamps, including a tall floor lamp for just £30.

These products are all cheaper than John Lewis’ own brand equivalent items.

John Lewis will launch Anyday pop-up shops in ten of its stores, and the remaining branches will feature smaller designated areas for the range.

Items from the range are now available to buy on John Lewis’ website, or shoppers can wait until Monday, April 12, to purchase some in store.

John Lewis has said that it will expand the range into new categories this autumn, adding a further 1,000 products.

Pippa Wicks, Executive Director of John Lewis & Partners, commented on the range: “It’s actually about saying ‘you can get our quality at even better value for money’.

“We want to encourage people to do more of the whole shop with us.”

Ms Wicks added: “We really are modernising John Lewis from top to bottom and it’s going to take us a couple of years to do that – this is like a big first statement.”

The Executive Director went on to say: “We’re clear now postcode by postcode where the potential lies for where our customers are and how they shop.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time with other department stores and around the world – Mexico, Chile, Spain, Germany, US – and we’ve been talking about what they’re doing, what they’re learning.

“There’s been some helpful insight from those conversations, so we’re not just dreaming it up.”

Due to a rise in online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic, John Lewis faced its biggest crisis in the retailer’s 157-year history last year.

The chain experienced a whopping £517million in losses.

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Credit Suisse ousts top execs, slashes bonuses amid heavy losses from US hedge fund meltdown

Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse said on Tuesday it expects a first-quarter pre-tax loss of around $ 960.4 million after taking a charge of $ 4.7 billion as a result of the US hedge fund Archegos Capital collapse.

“The significant loss in our Prime Services business relating to the failure of a US-based hedge fund is unacceptable,” said Thomas Gottstein, chief executive of Credit Suisse.

Investment banking CEO Brian Chin and the chief risk and compliance officer, Lara Warner, will step down from their roles with immediate effect, according to Credit Suisse.

It also said the executive board will forgo both short-term and long-term bonuses for the 2020 financial year, with Chairman Urs Rohner giving up his “chair fee” of 1.5 million Swiss francs ($ 1.6 million).
Also on rt.com Global banks bracing for losses amid US hedge fund collapse
Credit Suisse will be suspending its share buyback program and reducing its dividend, to be paid through a mix of capital and retained earnings. According to the bank, it won’t resume share purchases “before we have regained our target capital ratios and restored our dividend.”

READ MORE: Credit Suisse faces criminal charges over money-laundering for cocaine cartel

Credit Suisse was one of several lenders that acted as prime broker to the New York-based billionaire Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management. The sudden liquidation of the hedge fund last month ignited a fire sale of more than $ 20 billion in assets that has left some of the world’s biggest investment banks bearing billions of dollars of losses. Credit Suisse was one of the last to try to unload its shares in the company, selling at just over $ 40 per share, compared with the $ 100 they were priced at earlier in March.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Aldi: Supermarket slashes the price of groceries to 19p as Easter price war begins

Aldi is offering customers the chance to pick up super cheap groceries ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend. Shoppers can save a huge amount of money when shopping at the discount retailer this week.
Lidl is also thought to have slashed the price of their groceries too this week.

Retailer Asda isn’t far behind the discounters with their one kilogram of carrots down to just 20p.

The supermarket giant has also slashed the price of other essentials.

During the pandemic, Asda dropped the price of more than 1,000 essential items such as meats, cheeses and cupboard staples.

Customers can currently pick up two giant eggs for just £7 including Cadbury and Nestlé ones.

Large Easter Eggs are currently on a special deal where shoppers can pick up four for just £10 while a selected range of medium eggs are on rollback for just 75p.

These offers are available online as well as in stores.

There are great options for children too, including Asda’s bundle for £10 containing four large eggs from Thorntons, Smarties and Cadbury. 

Aldi also has some great chocolate egg options including its showstopper Specially Selected exquisite blond beehive egg & hidden truffles.

Available in-stores now for £14.99, the Easter Egg boasts chunky honeycomb pieces and bee pollen.

Supermarkets will regularly update their shoppers on coronavirus safety rules that it has in place to protect staff and colleagues.

Customers heading for a food shop ahead of Easter should make note of all the current guidance in place.

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