BANGKOK: Health experts yesterday called for trials of an HIV vaccine under development in Thailand to be speeded up following recent setbacks in other efforts to end the AIDS epidemic. Initial test results of the RV144 vaccine — jointly developed by US military researchers and the Thai health ministry — in 2009 found a 31 percent protection rate among 16,000 Thai volunteers. Experts are optimistic a modified version of the vaccine will raise the protection rate to around 50 percent — the figure needed to obtain regulatory approval for public release. Experts at the Aids Vaccine Efficacy Consortium in the Thai capital said the vaccine could be available by 2020 if tests are speeded up in Thailand, as well as in South Africa where parallel research is planned.
Bulldozer kills three-year-old
BEIJING: A three-year-old girl was killed by a bulldozer during a land dispute in China, her father said yesterday the latest case highlighting the human cost of the country’s breakneck urbanisation. Hong Xiaorou died under the tracks of the construction vehicle on land next to the family home in Zhangzhou, in the southeastern province of Fujian, said her father Hong Bingsheng. She was killed as the family tried to block construction crews from “forcibly flattening the land” on Wednesday, Hong said, adding that the workers were planning to target their own property at a later stage.
Taipei to build island wharf
TAIPEI: A wharf that is to be built on Taiping Island in the South China Sea will help to greatly enhance Taiwan’s defense capability in that area, when the project is completed in 2016, a ruling party lawmaker said yesterday. Lin Yu-fang, a member of the Legislature’s Foreign and National Defence Committee, said construction of the NT$3.37bn ($112.5m) project will begin in 2014 and an allocation of NT$1bn has been made in the government’s fiscal 2014 budget for it. He estimated that the wharf will be finished by 2016.
Beijing halts oil projects
SHANGHAI: China’s environment ministry has suspended approvals of new projects by the country’s two biggest oil firms for failing to achieve pollution reduction goals, it said yesterday. The ministry said it had temporarily halted approval of new refining projects, and renovation or expansion of existing facilities, for China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. CNPC failed to meet the target for reducing chemical oxygen demand — a measure of the amount of pollution in water.
Cop fined over bribery
KUALA LUMPUR: A police inspector was fined RM2,000 by the High Court for contempt of court for attempting to intimidate and bribe a witness in a drug trafficking case involving an Australian. Dominic Jude Bird, 34, from Perth, had applied for the contempt proceedings, accusing Luther Nurjib of violating a court directive by approaching and harassing Mohd Fahrizal Rosli, a witness in Bird’s trial. Luther entered the court lockup where Fahrizal was being held for another case, and intimidated him. AGENCIES