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RBS reports an annual profit for the first time in a decade

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Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) posted its first annual profit in a decade Friday, continuing its recovery following the financial crash of 2008.

The bank recorded a net profit of £752 million ($1.05 billion) for 2017, surpassing analyst forecasts for a figure of £592 million. Just a year earlier, the bank had suffered an annual loss of £6.95 billion.

Operating profit came in at £2.239 billion, a notable increase of £6.321 billion compared to 2016. Fourth-quarter operating losses before tax were £583 million, with a net loss of £579 million.

“Our financial strength is much clearer,” RBS CEO Ross McEwan said in a press release Friday, adding that “we still have more to do in cost reduction, however this reflects progress we have made in making the bank more efficient.”

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BioNTech says it plans to develop an mRNA vaccine to prevent malaria

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The headquarters of German immunotherapy company BioNTech stands on April 22, 2020 in Mainz, Germany.

Thomas Lohnes | Getty Images

German drugmaker BioNTech announced Monday it plans to develop an mRNA-based vaccine to prevent malaria, a life-threatening disease that impacts millions of people worldwide each year.

The company, which developed the United States’ first authorized Covid-19 vaccine with U.S. drugmaker Pfizer, said it is aiming to begin clinical trials testing the shot by the end of 2022.

The World Health Organization, European Commission and other organizations have been involved in the early planning phase of the new vaccine, the company said, and have offered their support to identify and set up the necessary infrastructure.

“The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people’s lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal. We are committed to bringing our innovations to those who need them most,” BioNTech CEO Dr. Ugur Sahin said in a press release.

“Together with our partners, we will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based Malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease,” he said.

Malaria is a deadly disease caused by a parasite. There were an estimated 229 million cases of Malaria and at least 409,00 deaths in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. The majority of the cases were in Africa, and children under age 5 are the most vulnerable group affected by the disease.

The development of the new vaccine comes as world continues to deal with the Covid pandemic, which began spreading worldwide in early 2020 and has since killed more than 4.1 million people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Pfizer and BioNTech quickly developed a highly effective mRNA-based vaccine to target the virus. It’s been used in several countries, including the U.S., and is helping drive down the number of infections and deaths.

Messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology has been under development for years, but Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccines are the first time mRNA has been cleared for use in humans. The mRNA-based Covid vaccine works by tricking the body to produce a harmless piece of the virus, triggering an immune response. It’s said to be easier to produce over traditional vaccines, which generally use a dead or weakened virus to produce an immune response.

Due to the success of the mRNA Covid vaccine, other drugmakers are looking to develop new vaccines using the technology.

Pfizer, for example, has said it is developing an mRNA-based flu vaccine. Kathrin Jansen, head of Pfizer’s vaccine research and development, told CNBC in May that the technology could create “more potent” shots.

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Floods in Europe and China disrupt global shipping, supply chains

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The floods in China and Europe are yet “another body blow” for global supply chains, the CEO of a shipping firm told CNBC on Monday. 

“Rarely does a week go past without something new,” says Tim Huxley, CEO of Mandarin Shipping. 

Shipping has already seen massive disruptions this year. As parts of the world rebounded from the pandemic, increased spending led to a shortfall of containers, creating delays and driving up prices.

Then in April, one of the world’s largest container ships became wedged in the Suez Canal, halting traffic for nearly a week. The waterway is one of the busiest in the world, with about 12% of trade passing through it.

In June, an uptick of Covid cases in southern China caused more delays at ports in the region, again jacking up shipping prices.

‘Broken railway links’ caused by floods in Europe

Heavy rainfall and flooding have devastated parts of western Europe. Some of the most severe flooding happened in Germany and Belgium. Parts of Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have been affected as well.

“This is really going to disrupt the supply chain because the railway links have all been broken,” Huxley told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

He said that includes railways coming from the Czech Republic and Slovakia into the German ports of Rotterdam and Hamburg, which have been “seriously disrupted.”

“And so that’s going to delay cargo movements in and out,” he said. “It’s gonna really disrupt the industry.”

Huxley pointed to Thyssenkrupp, noting the German steel making giant could not get raw materials due to the flooding.

“That ultimately will have a knock on effect on industries such as the motor industry, domestic appliances and things like that,” he said.

S&P Global Platts reported, citing a letter to customers, Thyssenkrupp declared force majeure on July 16. A force majeure event occurs when unforeseeable circumstances, such as natural catastrophes, prevent one party from fulfilling its contractual duties, absolving them from penalties.

A source at the firm’s mills told S&P Global Platts that parts of the railway in Hagen are “missing,” adding it’s even more difficult than before to get trucks for delivery. Hagen is a city in Western Germany that is among the worst-hit by the floods.

Flooding in landlocked Henan disrupting supply of wheat, coal

Meanwhile, the disruption caused by the flooding in the Chinese province of Henan is made worse by the fact that the province is landlocked, said Huxley.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

The disruption of railways is, again, going to cause a “big impact,” he said. 

“Obviously, that will have an impact on shipping, that will force shipping rates up,” Huxley said. 

The distribution of wheat and coal has been affected, according to Huxley, who pointed out that Henan is the “bread basket” of China and has produced 38 million tons of wheat this summer. 

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Moderna says it plans to expand trial for kids 5 to 11

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With her husband Stephen by her side Erin Shih hugs her children Avery 6, and Aidan, 11, after they got their second Moderna COVID-19 vaccines at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Friday, June 25, 2021.

Sarah Reingewirtz | MediaNews Group | Getty Images

Moderna plans to expand the size of its clinical trial testing its Covid-19 vaccine in kids ages 5 to 11, the company confirmed to CNBC on Monday.

The U.S. drugmaker is expanding the trial, which began in late March, to increase the likelihood of detecting potential rare side effects, the company said, declining to say how many children it ultimately hopes to enroll. The Food and Drug Administration last month added a warning label to the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to list a rare risk of heart inflammation, which was reported in young people, as a potentially rare side effect.

“It is our intent to expand the trial and we are actively discussing a proposal with the FDA,” the company told CNBC in a written statement. “At this point, we expect to have a package that supports authorization in winter 2021/early 2022, should the FDA choose to use the authorization avenue.”

The New York Times reported earlier Monday that the FDA asked both Moderna and Pfizer to include 3,000 children in the 5- to 11-year-old trials, citing unnamed sources. One source described that as double the original number of study participants envisioned, according to the Times.

In a statement to CNBC, Pfizer said it has not provided any updates to the previously stated timelines or details for its trial.

The update comes as parents in the U.S. patiently wait for their children to be eligible to get vaccinated. In May, the FDA permitted the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15. Moderna’s vaccine is expected to be authorized for children as young as 12 any day now.

Vaccinating children is seen as crucial to ending the pandemic. The nation is unlikely to achieve herd immunity — when enough people in a given community have antibodies against a specific disease — until children can get vaccinated, scientists say.

Federal health officials will need to balance the risk of potentially rare side effects from the shots against the risks of getting Covid.

In June, health officials said there had been more than 1,200 cases of a myocarditis or pericarditis mostly in people age 30 and under who received the shots. Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis is the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart.

There have been just 12.6 heart inflammation cases per million doses for both vaccines combined, officials said at the time. They added the benefits still outweighed the risks.

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