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[INVNT GROUP]™ And World Air League® Partner On World-First Cultural, Sports And Entertainment Event, World Sky Race®

Sustainably focused race will be televised, streamed, socialised, experienced live, and is expected to be on the magnitude of the Olympics

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, Oct. 19, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — [INVNT GROUP], THE GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT™ has entered into a strategic partnership with World Air League to launch World Sky Race, a world-first international race of airships for consumers, brands and countries that will fly over a live audience of more than two billion.

Launching in London in September 2023 and culminating in Paris in May 2024, the triennial World Sky Race will see up to 20 airships – which use 75% less fuel than aeroplanes and do not require roads, harbours, railroads or runways – embark on an around-the-world expedition, landing at 17 iconic destination cities along the way.

The race will commence with an opening ceremony in London, followed by fly-overs and stops in Berlin, Rome, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, New Delhi and Mumbai, Burma, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New York, and finally, Paris.

Educational and VIP hospitality events will be held in each of these locations, where revellers will be immersed in race fun and festivities, meet the race teams, and more. In Paris, the final grand stage for centering the world’s attention, the event will culminate with a triumphful celebratory closing ceremony, where the historic winning airship team with the fastest cumulative time will be awarded a $5 million cash prize.

[INVNT GROUP] is working with World Air League to raise awareness and build custom sponsor partnerships for the race. Its four brands – Folk Hero, Meaning, HEVĒ and INVNT are providing a combination of strategy, content, logistics and production support.

Don R Hartsell
, Commissioner 
and Managing Director, World Air League said: “The World Sky Race is a race for the planet. It is a race for humanity. The Race will bring fans from all over the world together to engage in socially connected cultural, sporting and entertainment experiences unlike any other. Moving beyond the global distress of today that has changed and locked down lives everywhere, the World Sky Race will give people around the world a reason to go outside and LOOK-UP!

“We’re thrilled to be working with [INVNT GROUP] to not only ensure this world-first race of airships is amplified and runs smoothly, but that it unites people around the globe and from all walks of life as we come together to watch each leg and the events that follow. The momentous closing celebrations in Paris, the City of Lights, will actually mark a new beginning for the world, a lighted path, a lighter-than-air path to a greener future.”

Scott Cullather, President & CEO at [INVNT GROUP] added: “When Don shared his vision, he had us at “World Sky Race” because it is a completely new and unique concept, one that pushes the boundaries and compels audiences around the world, whether witnessing the race physically or virtually, to stop and watch the action as it unfolds.

“[INVNT GROUP] and World Air League are the perfect partners, because we’re both global, passionate about doing things differently, about doing good work, and about doing work that does good. We look forward to working with Don and the team ongoing to bring this incredibly exciting event to life, from the initial conception phase right through to the closing ceremonies and beyond.”

About World Air League® and The World Sky Race®
The mission and vision of the World Air League is to promote the advancement of lighter-than-air aviation for a sustainable future. The World Air League is creating the World Sky Race as an epic challenge to inspire inventors to invent and adventurers to compete. For strategic impact and purpose, the World Air League in embedding the World Sky Race to be included in the global educational system to provide the world’s next generation with a path to explore with their destination an alternate greener, cleaner future. Do you want to know more? www.worldskyrace.com/

[INVNT GROUP], with offices in New York, London, Sydney, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Stockholm and Singapore, was established in 2020 with a vision to provide consistent, meaningful, well-articulated BrandStory across all platforms. Headed up by President and CEO, Scott Cullather, [INVNT GROUP], THE GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT™ represents a growing portfolio of complementary disciplines designed to help forward-thinking organizations everywhere, impact the audiences that matter, anywhere. The GROUP consists of modern brand strategy firm, Folk Hero; creative-led culture consultancy, Meaning; branded content studio and content marketing agency, HEVĒ, and the global live brand storytelling agency, INVNT™. For more information about [INVNT GROUP] visit: www.invntgroup.com/ 


Brea Carter
+1 (917) 633-6171

Philips announces Q3 2020 results and provides new financial targets for the 2021–2025 period

October 19, 2020

Philips delivers Q3 sales of EUR 5.0 billion, with 10% comparable sales growth; income from continuing operations increases to EUR 341 million, Adjusted EBITA margin improves 300 basis points to 15.4%, and operating cash flow increases to EUR 770 million

Philips provides new financial targets for the 2021–2025 period

Third-quarter highlights
•        Sales amounted to EUR 5.0 billion, with 10% comparable sales growth
•        Comparable order intake increased 3% excluding the partial termination of the ventilator contract with HHS*); reported comparable order intake declined 18%
•        Income from continuing operations increased to EUR 341 million, compared to EUR 211 million in Q3 2019
•        Adjusted EBITA margin increased to 15.4% of sales, compared to 12.4% of sales in Q3 2019
•        Income from operations improved to EUR 476 million, compared to EUR 320 million in Q3 2019
•        EPS from continuing operations (diluted) amounted to EUR 0.37; Adjusted EPS increased to EUR 0.60, compared to EUR 0.46 in Q3 2019
•        Operating cash flow improved to EUR 770 million, compared to EUR 356 million in Q3 2019

Frans van Houten, CEO
“It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and our teams remain fully focused on delivering against our triple duty of care: meeting critical customer needs, safeguarding the health and safety of our employees, and ensuring business continuity.

I am pleased that, under challenging circumstances, we have been able to execute our plans and return to growth and improved profitability for the Group in the third quarter. Driven by the successful conversion of the Connected Care order book for patient monitors and ventilators, and a robust rebound of demand for our Personal Health portfolio, Philips recorded a strong 10% comparable sales growth and delivered an Adjusted EBITA margin improvement of 300 basis points to 15.4%.

The Connected Care businesses delivered a very strong 42% comparable sales growth, and our Personal Health businesses delivered a healthy 6% comparable sales growth. I am encouraged by the performance improvement of our Diagnosis & Treatment businesses to a low-single-digit comparable sales decline from a high-single-digit decline in the previous quarter.

In August, we provided the update that Philips’ April 2020 hospital ventilator contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had been unexpectedly partially terminated. As a result, we recorded a comparable order intake decline for the Group of 18%. Excluding this partial termination, comparable order intake grew 3%, further building on the solid growth in the previous quarters.

The work we are doing to support healthcare providers and medical staff with the provision of both COVID-19 and regular care remains a top priority for all of us at Philips. In close collaboration with our suppliers and partners, we have steeply ramped up the production volumes of products and solutions to help diagnose, treat, monitor and manage COVID-19 patients. We introduced a new Rapid Equipment Deployment Kit for ICU ramp-ups, allowing hospital staff to quickly deploy patient monitoring capabilities when additional critical care capacity is needed. To enhance patient care and improve care provider productivity, Philips entered into 11 long-term strategic partnerships with hospitals in the US, Europe and Asia. We announced a new multi-year partnership with Tampa General Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the US, to replace all of its patient monitors and upgrade key imaging technologies in the catheterization laboratories and interventional radiology rooms. We will also provide this hospital with unique workflow solutions and operational performance management services.

Looking ahead, we continue to see uncertainty and volatility related to the impact of COVID-19 across the world, but our order book remains solid. For the full year 2020, we continue to expect to deliver modest comparable sales growth, with an Adjusted EBITA margin of around the level of last year.”

Business segment performance
The Diagnosis & Treatment businesses recorded a 3% comparable sales decline, compared to a 9% sales decline in Q2 2020. The postponement of installations and gradual recovery of elective procedures resulted in a low-single-digit comparable sales decline in Diagnostic Imaging and Image-Guided Therapy and a double-digit decline in Ultrasound. Comparable order intake showed a 5% decrease, compared to a 20% decrease in Q2 2020. The Adjusted EBITA margin decreased to 9.7%, mainly due to lower volumes and factory coverage, as well as mix changes.

Comparable sales in the Connected Care businesses increased 42%, with double-digit growth in Monitoring & Analytics and Sleep & Respiratory Care. Excluding the partial termination of the ventilator contract with HHS, comparable order intake showed a double-digit increase, with strong growth across all businesses. The Adjusted EBITA margin increased to 27.1%, driven by higher volumes and operating leverage.

The Personal Health businesses delivered a comparable sales increase of 6%, driven by high-single-digit growth in Personal Care and Domestic Appliances. The Adjusted EBITA margin amounted to 14.5%, which includes an adverse currency impact.

Philips’ ongoing focus on innovation and partnerships resulted in the following key developments in the quarter:

•        Building on the strong results of its ‘Healthy people, Sustainable planet’ 2016-2020 program, Philips announced a new set of ambitious targets, commitments and detailed action plans across all the Environmental, Social and Governance dimensions, including improving the lives of 2 billion people a year by 2025 and further reduction of its carbon footprint across its entire value chain in line with the 1.5 oC global warming scenario.

•        Philips signed 11 new long-term strategic partnerships across the world, including multi-year agreements with Buon Ma Thuot University Hospital in Vietnam, Mandaya Royal Hospital Puri in Indonesia and Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland in the Netherlands, to provide a comprehensive range of health technology solutions.

•        Broadening its leading portfolio of power toothbrushes, the company launched the Philips One by Sonicare. An entry-level proposition to expand into new consumer segments, Philips One is a battery-operated power toothbrush developed as a step up from manual brushing. Users of this toothbrush can opt into a subscription service for brush head and battery replacements.

•        Philips expanded its industry-leading image-guided therapy devices portfolio through the acquisition of Intact Vascular, adding an industry-first implantable device to treat peripheral artery disease. Moreover, Philips launched QuickClear, an all-in-one thrombectomy system for the removal of blood clots in peripheral vessels, and OmniWire, a solid-core pressure wire – also an industry-first – to guide coronary artery procedures.

•        Philips launched major extensions to its industry-leading Azurion image-guided therapy platform, comprising a new range of configurations – covering more price segments – to innovate procedures in a broad range of therapeutic areas, and further integration between imaging and diagnostic devices.

•        SimonMed Imaging, one of the largest outpatient medical imaging providers in the US, is partnering with Philips to deploy its most advanced 3T MRI technology, including software and services, at their outpatient practices to enhance diagnoses, from brain injuries, liver and cardiac disease to orthopedic injuries. Moreover, the partners are collaborating to further enhance the patient experience and flow.

•        Building on its leadership in therapeutic care, Philips launched its new Tempus ALS remote monitoring and defibrillator solution for emergency medical responders in the US, to help accelerate the delivery of care in emergency settings outside the hospital.

Cost savings
In the third quarter, procurement savings amounted to EUR 62 million. Overhead and other productivity programs delivered savings of EUR 58 million. As a result, Philips is on track to deliver over EUR 400 million productivity savings for 2020 and exceed EUR 1.8 billion productivity savings for the Group for the 2017-2020 period.

Philips provides new financial targets for the 2021–2025 period
At the company’s Capital Markets Day with investors and financial analysts on November 6, 2020, Philips will provide further details of its strategic plan and performance trajectory for the 2021–2025 period.

“We are excited to continue our journey to create further value by improving growth and profitability, while recognizing that we are in very uncertain times, and with the assumption that the world economy will return to growth next year,” said Frans van Houten. “The new targets are underpinned by our strategic imperatives to further improve customer and operational excellence, boost growth in our core businesses through geographical expansion and more customer partnerships, and win with innovative solutions along the health continuum. Our strategy to transform care along the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention to diagnosis and treatment, telehealth and home care – strongly resonates with customers and has been further validated during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Philips’ targets for accelerated growth, higher profitability and improved cash flow for the 2021–2025 period are [1]:

•        An acceleration of the average annual comparable sales growth to 5-6%, with all business segments within this range. For 2021, Philips’ current view is that Group comparable sales will deliver low-single-digit growth, driven by solid growth in Diagnosis & Treatment and Personal Health, partly offset by lower Connected Care sales;

•        An Adjusted EBITA margin improvement of 60-80 basis points on average annually from 2021, reaching the high teens for the Group by 2025 [2];

•        A free cash flow above EUR 2 billion by 2025;

•        Organic Return on Invested Capital (ROIC) of mid-to-high teens by 2025.

*) On August 31, 2020 Philips announced that its April 2020 ventilator supply contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had been partially terminated.

[1) The new targets exclude the Domestic Appliances business. As announced in January 2020, the Domestic Appliances business is being separated from Philips, a process that is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2021.
[2] The Diagnosis & Treatment business segment is expected to reach 15-17% Adjusted EBITA margin by 2025, the Connected Care segment is expected to reach 17-19%, and the Personal Health business segment is expected to reach 19-20%.

Click here to view the release online

For further information, please contact:
Ben Zwirs
Philips Global Press Office
Tel: +31 6 1521 3446
Email: ben.zwirs@philips.com

Martijn van der Starre
Philips Global Press Office
Tel.: +31 6 2847 4617
E-mail: martijn.van.der.starre@philips.com

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people’s health and well-being, and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum – from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips generated 2019 sales of EUR 19.5 billion and employs approximately 81,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at www.philips.com/newscenter.

Forward-looking statements and other important information

Forward-looking statements
This document and the related oral presentation, including responses to questions following the presentation, contain certain forward-looking statements with respect to the financial condition, results of operations and business of Philips and certain of the plans and objectives of Philips with respect to these items. Examples of forward-looking statements include: statements made about the strategy; estimates of sales growth; future Adjusted EBITA; future restructuring, acquisition-related and other costs; future developments in Philips’ organic business; and the completion of acquisitions and divestments. By their nature, these statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to future events and circumstances and there are many factors that could cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements.

These factors include but are not limited to: changes in industry or market circumstances; economic and political developments; market and supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak; Philips’ increasing focus on health technology; the realization of Philips’ growth ambitions and results in growth geographies; successful completion of divestments such as the divestment of our Domestic Appliances businesses; lack of control over certain joint ventures; integration of acquisitions; securing and maintaining Philips’ intellectual property rights and unauthorized use of third-party intellectual property rights; compliance with quality standards, product safety laws and good manufacturing practices; exposure to IT security breaches, IT disruptions, system changes or failures; supply chain management; ability to create new products and solutions; attracting and retaining personnel; financial impacts from Brexit; compliance with regulatory regimes, including data privacy requirements; governmental investigations and legal proceedings with regard to possible anticompetitive market practices and other matters; business conduct rules and regulations; treasury risks and other financial risks; tax risks; costs of defined-benefit pension plans and other post-retirement plans; reliability of internal controls, financial reporting and management process. As a result, Philips’ actual future results may differ materially from the plans, goals and expectations set forth in such forward-looking statements. For a discussion of factors that could cause future results to differ from such forward-looking statements, see also the Risk management chapter included in the Annual Report 2019.

Third-party market share data
Statements regarding market share, including those regarding Philips’ competitive position, contained in this document are based on outside sources such as research institutes, industry and dealer panels in combination with management estimates. Where information is not yet available to Philips, those statements may also be based on estimates and projections prepared by outside sources or management. Rankings are based on sales unless otherwise stated.

Use of non-IFRS information
In presenting and discussing the Philips Group’s financial position, operating results and cash flows, management uses certain non-IFRS financial measures. These non-IFRS financial measures should not be viewed in isolation as alternatives to the equivalent IFRS measure and should be used in conjunction with the most directly comparable IFRS measures. Non-IFRS financial measures do not have standardized meaning under IFRS and therefore may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers. A reconciliation of these non-IFRS measures to the most directly comparable IFRS measures is contained in this document. Further information on non-IFRS measures can be found in the Annual Report 2019.

Use of fair value information
In presenting the Philips Group’s financial position, fair values are used for the measurement of various items in accordance with the applicable accounting standards. These fair values are based on market prices, where available, and are obtained from sources that are deemed to be reliable. Readers are cautioned that these values are subject to changes over time and are only valid at the balance sheet date. When quoted prices or observable market data are not readily available, fair values are estimated using appropriate valuation models and unobservable inputs. Such fair value estimates require management to make significant assumptions with respect to future developments, which are inherently uncertain and may therefore deviate from actual developments. Critical assumptions used are disclosed in the Annual Report 2019. In certain cases independent valuations are obtained to support management’s determination of fair values.

All amounts are in millions of euros unless otherwise stated. Due to rounding, amounts may not add up precisely to totals provided. All reported data is unaudited. Financial reporting is in accordance with the significant accounting policies as stated in the Annual Report 2019. Certain comparative-period amounts have been reclassified to conform to the current-year presentation.

Effective Q1 2020, Philips has simplified its order intake policy by aligning horizons for all modalities to 18 months to revenue, compared to previously used delivery horizons of 6 months for Ultrasound, 12 months for Connected Care and 15 months for Diagnosis & Treatment. At the same time, Philips has aligned order intake for software contracts to the same 18 months to revenue horizon, meaning that only the next 18 months conversion to revenue under the contract is recognized, compared to the full contract values recognized previously. This change eliminates major variances in order intake growth and better reflects expected revenue in the short term from order intake booked in the reporting period. Prior-year comparable order intake amounts have been restated accordingly. This realignment has not resulted in any material additional order intake recognition.

Per share and weighted average share calculations have been adjusted retrospectively for all periods presented to reflect the issuance of shares for the share dividend in respect of 2019.

Market Abuse Regulation
This press release contains inside information within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the EU Market Abuse Regulation.


Teledyne DALSA’s unrivaled CMOS X-ray detectors highlighted at CMEF 2020

Attendees will have an opportunity to preview new software for tomosynthesis reconstruction and other technology developments specially tailored for economical and high performance imaging

Teledyne DALSA’s Xineos family of interventional CMOS detectors

CMOS medical X-ray detectors deliver high speed, low dose imaging at high resolutions

WATERLOO, Ontario, Oct. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Teledyne DALSA, a Teledyne Technologies [NYSE: TDY]  company and global leader in digital X-ray image sensing technology, is pleased to announce its presence at the CMEF 2020 Technical Exhibition, October 19-22, Shanghai, PR of China, in booth #4.1C27.

Teledyne DALSA’s full portfolio of groundbreaking CMOS imaging technology delivers superior resolution in real-time, with switchable saturation dose, high dynamic range, and calibration stability and unsurpassed low dose signal-to-noise performance. The innovative Xineos CMOS X-ray detectors deliver superior quality and performance, and provide the best digital imaging solutions for mobile C-arm surgical systems, diagnostic 2D and 3D mammography, CBCT and other demanding X-ray imaging applications.

Teledyne DALSA will showcase its proprietary software for generic tomosynthesis reconstruction, which supports various imaging geometries and scanning approaches. The new software technology enables X-ray tomosynthesis imaging modalities that speed the integration of X-ray detectors and deliver new opportunities for system-level innovation.

In addition, Teledyne DALSA provides its customers and technology partners with outstanding support. Attendees are encouraged to visit the Teledyne DALSA stand to discuss the very newest advancements in medical imaging.

Visit Hall 4, booth 4.1C27 @ China Medical Equipment Fair in Shanghai
Monday October 19-22

About Teledyne DALSA’s Life Sciences Products and Services
Teledyne DALSA is a part of the Teledyne Imaging group, and provides state-of-the-art image sensing, capture and processing solutions to medical, dental and scientific equipment manufacturers. Building on more than 30 years of proven capability and innovation, our team of imaging specialists delivers leading-edge product design. Our manufacturing processes are tailored to comply with the stringent quality, reliability and traceability requirements of the medical and scientific X-ray community. For more information, visit http://teledynedalsa.com/imaging/markets/medical/

All trademarks are registered by their respective companies.
Teledyne DALSA reserves the right to make changes at any time without notice.

Media Contact:
Winnie Xu
Teledyne Professional Imaging Sensors

Sales Contact: sales.sensors@teledynedalsa.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/eac27658-9a38-499c-a0da-423d424407a8

No Coronavirus Vaccine Before US Election, Pharmaceutical Giant Says

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s predictions that a coronavirus vaccine would be ready before Election Day, Nov. 3, will not be met.

On Friday, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced it would not seek emergency authorization to release its coronavirus vaccine until late November.

Two other vaccine frontrunners are on hold. A fourth is unlikely to have results until the end of the year.

Trump has said repeatedly that a vaccine would be available to many before the election as part of the administration’s highly touted Operation Warp Speed, created to accelerate the development of a vaccine. Top scientists in and out of government have long said that timeline is unrealistic.

Conceding the point earlier this month, Trump blamed politics, without explanation.

“I think we should have it before the election,” Trump said in a video on Twitter shortly after his release from the hospital following COVID-19 treatment. “But frankly, the politics gets involved, and that’s OK, they wanna play their games. It’s gonna be right after the election.”

Safety first

In a statement Friday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said that the company may know by the end of October whether its vaccine works. But it will not reach its safety milestone until late November.

“Safety is, and will remain, our number one priority,” Bourla wrote.

Pfizer’s vaccine is one of several taking a novel approach to immunization. Rather than injecting patients with a dead or weakened virus or a piece of the germ, the vaccine contains genetic instructions for a part of the coronavirus. The patient’s body takes up the instructions, known as mRNA, and produces the virus fragment. The immune system responds to the fragment, priming the body to fight off the real virus.

Pfizer is collaborating with German biotech firm BioNTech, which came up with the genetic instructions being tested in the vaccine. Nearly 40,000 patients are taking part in the clinical trial so far.

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider an emergency use authorization, the company needs to monitor at least half the patients for two months after their last dose to watch for side effects.

“We estimate we will reach this milestone in the third week of November,” Bourla wrote.

Another vaccine frontrunner that uses mRNA technology, from biotech company Moderna, also expects results in late November.

On hold

Meanwhile, two other vaccine trials have paused because of potential safety problems.

AstraZeneca said it put its trial on hold temporarily after at least one participant came down with an “unexplained illness.”

Media reports have described the illness as transverse myelitis, a form of spinal inflammation that can cause pain, weakness and paralysis in the limbs, as well as bladder and bowel problems. But the company has not confirmed the diagnosis.

Pauses to check possible safety issues are not uncommon in vaccine trials, experts say, and there are several factors besides the vaccine that may have caused the current illness. The trial has resumed in the United Kingdom, Brazil, India and South Africa. It remains on hold in the United States, however.

Another vaccine using a similar approach, from pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, also has hit a safety snag, though its problems, too, may be unrelated to the vaccine.

The company reported an “unexplained illness” in one of its trial participants last week.

“We’re also learning more about this participant’s illness, and it’s important to have all the facts before we share additional information,” the company said in a statement.

Having received billions of dollars of government money, drug companies are taking the unprecedented step of scaling up vaccine manufacturing before results are in.

There won’t be enough for everyone right away, however. Government agencies are drawing up plans for who should get vaccinated first. Health care workers, first responders and more vulnerable populations including the elderly are likely to be first in line.

It may be the middle of next year before most Americans are vaccinated, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Robert Redfield told Congress last month.

Source: Voice Of America

World Marks Another Milestone in COVID-19 Pandemic??

The world has now surpassed 40 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, 40,050,902 people have been infected with the disease as of early Monday morning, and more than 1.1 million have died.

The most recent cases include Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian negotiator and secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, who was rushed to a Jerusalem hospital Sunday, where he has been placed on a ventilator.

The 65-year-old Erekat, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month, underwent a lung transplant in the United States in 2017, which compromised his immune system and made him especially vulnerable to the virus.

A spokesperson at Hadassah Medical Center said Monday that Erekat “had a quiet night” but his condition eventually deteriorated and is “now defined as critical.”

Another prominent person infected with COVID-19 IS South African health minister Zweli Mkhize. Mkhize issued a statement Sunday that he and his wife tested positive for the virus the day before after experiencing mild symptoms. Mkhize’s news comes days after South Africa officially surpassed 700,000 infections.

According to the Associated Press, Iran has confirmed 337 new coronavirus deaths, breaking the country’s single-day death toll record of 279, set just on Sunday.

As scientists around the world race to develop therapies and an eventual vaccine against the novel coronavirus, U.S.-based biotechnology firm Vaxart, one of the many companies working on the vaccine, is under federal investigation for allegedly exaggerating its involvement in the Trump administration’s multi-billion vaccine development program.

The company claimed in a press release in June that its experimental oral vaccine had been selected by Operation Warp Speed, which sent its shares skyrocketing from $3 to $17 a share. A hedge fund that partly controlled the company sold all of its shares in Vaxart, reaping $200 million profit.

But the government later revealed that Vaxart had not received any funding from Operation Warp Speed, and that its vaccine was only involved in preliminary studies on animals. The company is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Justice Department, and is also facing numerous lawsuits from shareholders.

The U.S. continues to lead the world in COVID cases, with 8.1 million infections, and nearly 220,000 deaths.

While cities in Italy, France and Britain are imposing new restrictions to blunt a second wave of COVID-19, the southern Australian city of Melbourne is slowly coming out of three months of strict lockdown orders.

As of midnight Sunday local time, the city’s 5 million residents will be able to spend as much time away from home as they wish for exercising or school, and the distance they can travel away from home has been increased from five to 25 kilometers. Outdoor gatherings have an increased limit from five people to 10 from two households, while facilities such as skate parks, golf courses and tennis courts will reopen.

The relaxed rules come as the capital city of Victoria state reported just two new coronavirus cases on Sunday and no deaths. Authorities had reported more than 700 new daily infections at the peak of the resurgence in July.

Source: Voice Of America