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Category Archives: Covid-19

Turkish health minister says schools will never close despite high COVID-19 infections – Reuters

Posted: September 29, 2021 at 6:43 am

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Cagla Durak

ANKARA, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Turkey will "never" close schools again despite a recent rise in COVID-19 infections and the government is mulling various methods to continue in-person education, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

After months of online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey reopened schools this month, while removing most restrictions over the summer. It also began asking for a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination from teachers and also for certain public events.

Turkey's daily infections have risen over the last month at a rate higher than most peer countries to just below 30,000 per day, as have average positive tests, according to global data.

Daily deaths, which rose to around 250 this month, have fallen slightly and Turkey's vaccination rate based on population is higher than most peers.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday, Koca said a quarter of coronavirus cases detected since schools reopened were among those aged up to 17. But the priority was to continue in-person classes under all conditions, he said.

"I have said that we will keep schools open this year under any circumstances. It's not about being the last to close, they should never close," state broadcaster TRT Haber quoted Koca as saying.

He said Ankara was also mulling education options including weekend classes and other methods. Turkey will keep shopping malls open.

Some 52% of Turks have received two vaccine shots under a national programme that has administered more than 108 million jabs. More than 63,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Turkey, according to the World Health Organization.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu,Editing by Daren Butler and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Pregnant volunteer firefighter on ventilator fighting COVID-19, gives birth 2 1/2 months early in Syracuse – syracuse.com

Posted: at 6:43 am

Syracuse, N.Y. Newlyweds Lynn and Austin Carpenter had recently moved into an apartment and were expecting their first child when she suddenly became ill.

Lynn, a volunteer firefighter and patient care aide at a group home, was told she had pneumonia when she went to a hospital Sept. 1 and was sent home, her father-in-law Richard Carpenter said.

Two days later, Austin, a full-time EMT and volunteer firefighter in Dryden, noticed his wife wasnt breathing right. Her blood pressure and respirations were dropping, and she was pale and sweating. An ambulance brought her to Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca.

Lynn, 21, tested positive for Covid-19 and was put on a ventilator.

She was airlifted to Crouse Hospital in Syracuse later that evening on Sept. 3. She still had 2 1/2 months until her Nov. 18 due date. But five days later, on Sept. 8, doctors asked her husband for permission to perform an emergency C-section, his parents said.

Lynns body was starting to shut down so it could compensate for her fetus, her in-laws said.

... In order to save both (Lynn and the baby), they had to take the baby, said Austins mother, Cindy Carpenter. They figured it would be better for both of them so they could recuperate separately and she could get the medications she needed that she couldnt get because of being pregnant.

Doctors told Austin it was a matter of life or death, Richard Carpenter said.

They told him he could lose one or both, Cindy Carpenter added. It was very scary.

On Sept. 8, Lynn gave birth to a 3-pound, 12-ounce baby boy who was 12 inches long. It was Austins first day out of quarantine so he was there for the birth, but he couldnt hold his son, Dawsyn Lynn Avery Carpenter.

Immediately after the birth, Dawsyn was brought to the hospitals neonatal intensive care unit and Lynn went to an intensive care unit for Covid patients, her father-in-law said.

Austin, 24, drives each morning from Enfield, about 10 miles west of Ithaca, to the hospital in Syracuse to be by his wifes side and hold his baby boy. He took photos of Dawsyn and showed them to his wife as she lay in a hospital bed, hooked up to the ventilator.

Lynn was heavily sedated the first week she was in the hospital, but then only partially sedated the following two weeks. She used a whiteboard to write messages when she was awake, but couldnt speak.

On Saturday, Lynn came off the ventilator.

On Sunday, she held her baby for the first time.

She had tears of joy, Cindy Carpenter said after seeing a photo that captured the moment.

Lynn can now talk, but only in a whisper. On Monday, she refused pain medications and said she wants to start walking, her father-in-law said.

She wants to get home with her family, he said.

But the family isnt sure when she and the baby can go home yet.

Dawsyn weighs just over 5 pounds now. Hes healthy, but still in an incubator at times, his grandparents said. Its likely Dawsyn wont be able to go home until hes at least 35 weeks gestational age, said Richard Carpenter, who is also an EMT.

Based on what the family has been told, chances are Lynn will remain in the hospital after her baby goes home. While Lynn continues to recover, the Dryden community is rallying around the family.

The Neptune Hose Co. No. 1 of Dryden, the fire department where both Lynn and Austin volunteer, is hosting a benefit chicken barbecue starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday for the couple and their newborn.

Other first responders and a family member have given Austin gas gift cards to help him get to and from Syracuse. A family friend had food delivered to the couples apartment. Austins parents and Lynns mom, Jennifer Spinner, are helping care for the couples two dogs.

A firefighter friend created a GoFundMe with hopes of raising $100,000 to help pay the couples bills. Anyone who wants to send a donation instead of giving online can also mail it to Lynn and Austin Carpenter, in care of Richard Carpenter, 55 Maple St., Lot 5, Harpursville, NY 13787.

Its a financial nightmare, Richard Carpenter said.

Lynn Carpenter has health insurance, but it wont cover all the medical expenses, he said. She also hasnt been able to work since the end of August when she became ill. She believes she may have caught the coronavirus from a Unity House colleague who previously tested positive, her in-laws said.

Austin Carpenter took time off his job as an EMT with Dryden Ambulance to be in Syracuse with his wife and baby. He told his dad he has about three weeks of savings, but that wont cover all the hospital bills.

Lynn planned to get vaccinated, but had not yet during her pregnancy, her father-in-law said. Austin also is not yet vaccinated, but hospital staff is encouraging him to do so before he brings the baby home so he likely will soon, Richard Carpenter said.

Christine Nash, the couples friend who created the GoFundMe fundraiser, said the money raised will help as their bills are mounting to astronomical highs.

Nash shared Lynns Facebook post from over the weekend:

This has been one hard journey these last few weeks being stuck in the hospital undergoing surgeries, having to have Dawsyn and not being able to see my son until just yesterday and not being able to speak to him or hold him and compared to that the other hardest of them all is learning to walk again. I do wanna thank my husband who has been by my side dealing with me in the hospital every day. The days I wanna quit, the days I cry because nothing ever feels like its going to get better and Im stuck reliving past memories like those will be my last and even the good days. I also wanna thank the family who has come to visit, checked in, and FaceTimed with me. And to everyone on here who has sent messages and prayers and the go fund me page really just everything. Everything that you all are doing to help me and my family in this hard time. Thank you all for coming together for me. Its nice to know I have such a crowd of supporters and it helps me to keep fighting on. So thank you everyone its much appreciated!

Nash said she hopes others will help Lynn, Austin and Dawsyn Carpenter.

If ever a family deserved help from the public, its this one, Nash wrote. These are people that save lives on a daily basis and run into danger without a second thought.

Dryden Volunteer Firefighter Lynn Carpenter is seen helping in the community before she contracted Covid-19. Lynn worked part-time with Dryden schools with after-school activities and worked as a patient care aid at Unity Home based out of Ithaca.

Have a tip or a story idea? Contact Catie OToole: cotoole@syracuse.com | text/call 315-470-2134 | Twitter | Facebook

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Pregnant volunteer firefighter on ventilator fighting COVID-19, gives birth 2 1/2 months early in Syracuse - syracuse.com

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James Webb Space Telescope: An astronomer on the team explains how to send a giant telescope to space and why – The Conversation US

Posted: September 22, 2021 at 3:04 am

The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to head to space on Dec. 18, 2021. With it, astronomers hope to find the first galaxies to form in the universe, will search for Earthlike atmospheres around other planets and accomplish many other scientific goals.

I am an astronomer and the principal investigator for the Near Infrared Camera or NIRCam for short aboard the Webb telescope. I have participated in the development and testing for both my camera and the telescope as a whole.

To see deep into the universe, the telescope has a very large mirror and must be kept extremely cold. But getting a fragile piece of equipment like this to space is no simple task. There have been many challenges my colleagues and I have had to overcome to design, test and soon launch and align the most powerful space telescope ever built.

The Webb telescope has a mirror over 20 feet across, a tennis-court sized sun shade to block solar radiation and four separate camera and sensor systems to collect the data.

It works kind of like a satellite dish. Light from a star or galaxy will enter the mouth of the telescope and bounce off the primary mirror toward the four sensors: NIRCam, which takes images in the near infrared; the Near Infrared Spectrograph, which can split the light from a selection of sources into their constituent colors and measures the strength of each; the Mid-Infrared Instrument, which takes images and measures wavelengths in the middle infrared; and the Near Infrared Imaging Slitless Spectrograph, which splits and measures the light of anything scientists point the satellite at.

This design will allow scientists to study how stars form in the Milky Way and the atmospheres of planets outside the Solar System. It may even be possible to figure out the composition of these atmospheres.

Ever since Edwin Hubble proved that distant galaxies are just like the Milky Way, astronomers have asked: How old are the oldest galaxies? How did they first form? And how have they changed over time? The Webb telescope was originally dubbed the First Light Machine because it is designed to answer these very questions.

One of the main goals of the telescope is to study distant galaxies close to the edge of observable universe. It takes billions of years for the light from these galaxies to cross the universe and reach Earth. I estimate that images my colleagues and I will collect with NIRCam could show protogalaxies that formed a mere 300 million years after the Big Bang when they were just 2% of their current age.

Finding the first aggregations of stars that formed after the Big Bang is a daunting task for a simple reason: These protogalaxies are very far away and so appear to be very faint.

Webbs mirror is made of 18 separate segments and can collect more than six times as much light as the Hubble Space Telescope mirror. Distant objects also appear to be very small, so the telescope must be able to focus the light as tightly as possible.

The telescope also has to cope with another complication: Since the universe is expanding, the galaxies that scientists will study with the Webb telescope are moving away from Earth, and the Doppler effect comes into play. Just like the pitch of an ambulances siren shifts down and becomes deeper when it passes and starts moving away from you, the wavelength of light from distant galaxies shifts down from visible light to infrared light.

Webb detects infrared light it is essentially a giant heat telescope. To see faint galaxies in infrared light, the telescope needs to be exceptionally cold or else all it would see would be its own infrared radiation. This is where the heat shield comes in. The shield is made of a thin plastic coated with aluminum. It is five layers thick and measures 46.5 feet (17.2 meters) by 69.5 feet (21.2 meters) and will keep the mirror and sensors at minus 390 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 234 Celsius).

The Webb telescope is an incredible feat of engineering, but how does one get such a thing safely to space and guarantee that it will work?

The James Webb Space Telescope will orbit a million miles from Earth about 4,500 times more distant than the International Space Station and much too far to be serviced by astronauts.

Over the past 12 years, the team has tested the telescope and instruments, shaken them to simulate the rocket launch and tested them again. Everything has been cooled and tested under the extreme operating conditions of orbit. I will never forget when my team was in Houston testing the NIRCam using a chamber designed for the Apollo lunar rover. It was the first time that my camera detected light that had bounced off the telescopes mirror, and we couldnt have been happier even though Hurricane Harvey was fighting us outside.

After testing came the rehearsals. The telescope will be controlled remotely by commands sent over a radio link. But because the telescope will be so far away it takes six seconds for a signal to go one way there is no real-time control. So for the past three years, my team and I have been going to the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and running rehearsal missions on a simulator covering everything from launch to routine science operations. The team even has practiced dealing with potential problems that the test organizers throw at us and cutely call anomalies.

The Webb team will continue to rehearse and practice until the launch date in December, but our work is far from done after Webb is folded and loaded into the rocket.

We need to wait 35 days after launch for the parts to cool before beginning alignment. After the mirror unfolds, NIRCam will snap sequences of high-resolution images of the individual mirror segments. The telescope team will analyze the images and tell motors to adjust the segments in steps measured in billionths of a meter. Once the motors move the mirrors into position, we will confirm that telescope alignment is perfect. This task is so mission critical that there are two identical copies of NIRCam on board if one fails, the other can take over the alignment job.

This alignment and checkout process should take six months. When finished, Webb will begin collecting data. After 20 years of work, astronomers will at last have a telescope able to peer into the farthest, most distant reaches of the universe.

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Looking at the ends of the universe – The Statesman

Posted: at 3:04 am

The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to head to space on 18 December this year. With it, astronomers hope to find the first galaxies to form in the universe, will search for Earth-like atmospheres around other planets and accomplish many other scientific goals. I am an astronomer and the principal investigator for the Near Infrared Camera or Nircam for short aboard the Webb telescope. I have participated in the development and testing for both my camera and the telescope as a whole. To see deep into the universe, the telescope has a very large mirror and must be kept extremely cold. But getting a fragile piece of equipment like this to space is no simple task. There have been many challenges my colleagues and I have had to overcome to design, test and soon launch and align the most powerful space telescope ever built.

Young galaxies & alien atmospheres

The Webb telescope has a mirror over 20 feet across, a tennis-court sized sunshade to block solar radiation and four separate camera and sensor systems to collect the data.It works kind of like a satellite dish. Light from a star or galaxy will enter the mouth of the telescope and bounce off the primary mirror toward the four sensors Nircam, which takes images in the near infrared; the Near Infrared Spectrograph, which can split the light from a selection of sources into their constituent colours and measures the strength of each; the Mid-Infrared Instrument, which takes images and measures wavelengths in the middle infrared; and the Near Infrared Imaging Slitless Spectrograph, which splits and measures the light of anything scientists point the satellite at.This design will allow scientists to study how stars form in the Milky Way and the atmospheres of planets outside the Solar System. It may even be possible to figure out the composition of those atmospheres.Ever since Edwin Hubble proved that distant galaxies are just like the Milky Way, astronomers have asked: how old are the oldest galaxies? How did they first form? And how have they changed over time? The Webb telescope was originally dubbed the First Light Machine because it is designed to answer those very questions.One of the main goals of the telescope is to study distant galaxies close to the edge of the observable universe. It takes billions of years for light from those galaxies to cross the universe and reach Earth. I estimate that images my colleagues and I will collect with Nircam could show protogalaxies that formed a mere 300 million years after the Big Bang when they were just two per cent of their current age.Finding the first aggregations of stars that formed after the Big Bang is a daunting task for a simple reason: These protogalaxies are very far away and so appear to be very faint.Webbs mirror is made of 18 separate segments and can collect more than six times as much light as the Hubble Space Telescope mirror. Distant objects also appear to be very small, so the telescope must be able to focus the light as tightly as possible.The telescope also has to cope with another complication since the universe is expanding, the galaxies that scientists will study with the Webb telescope are moving away from Earth, and the Doppler effect comes into play. Just like the pitch of an ambulances siren shifts down and becomes deeper when it passes and starts moving away from you, the wavelength of light from distant galaxies shifts down from visible to infrared light.Webb detects infrared light it is essentially a giant heat telescope. To see faint galaxies in infrared light, the telescope needs to be exceptionally cold or else all it would see would be its own infrared radiation. This is where the heat shield comes in. The shield is made of a thin plastic coated with aluminium. It is five layers thick and measures 46.5 feet by 69.5 feet and will keep the mirror and sensors at minus 234o Celsius.The Webb telescope is an incredible feat of engineering, but how does one get such a thing safely to space and guarantee that it will work?

Test & rehearseThe James Webb Space Telescope will orbit a million miles from Earth about 4,500 times more distant than the International Space Station and much too far to be serviced by astronauts.Over the last 12 years, the team has tested the telescope and instruments, shaken them to simulate the rocket launch and tested them again. Everything has been cooled and tested under the extreme operating conditions of orbit.I will never forget when my team was in Houston testing the Nircam using a chamber designed for the Apollo lunar rover. It was the first time that my camera detected light that had bounced off the telescopes mirror, and we couldnt have been happier even though Hurricane Harvey was fighting us outside.After testing came the rehearsals. The telescope will be controlled remotely by commands sent over a radio link. But because the telescope will be so far away it takes six seconds for a signal to go one way there is no real-time control. So, for the past three years, my team and I have been going to the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, United States and running rehearsal missions on a simulator covering everything from launch to routine science operations. The team even has practised dealing with potential problems that the test organisers throw at us and cutely call anomalies.

Some alignment requiredThe Webb team will continue to rehearse and practise until the launch date in December, but our work is far from done after Webb is folded and loaded into the rocket.We need to wait 35 days after launch for the parts to cool before beginning alignment. After the mirror unfolds, Nircam will snap sequences of high-resolution images of the individual mirror segments. The telescope team will analyse the images and tell motors to adjust the segments in steps measured in billionths of a metre. Once the motors move the mirrors into position, we will confirm that telescope alignment is perfect. This task is so mission critical that there are two identical copies of Nircam on board if one fails, the other can take over the alignment job.This alignment and checkout process should take six months. When finished, Webb will begin collecting data. After 20 years of work, astronomers will at last have a telescope able to peer into the farthest, most distant reaches of the universe.

The writer is Regents professor of astronomy, University of Arizona, United States. This article first appeared on http://www.theconversation.com

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Can We Call The Inspiration4 Crew Astronauts? – WMFE

Posted: at 3:04 am

The Inspiration4 crew takes a selfie from SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule. Photo: Inspiration4

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The crew of Inspiration4 is safely here on the ground after spending three days in low Earth orbit.

It was the first all-civilian space mission, launching on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center. Inside their Crew Dragon capsule, the crew flew higher than the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope.

But before they launched, the mission was gaining lots of buzz. A Netflix documentary followed the crew during training and people came to Floridas space coast to watch this historic mission launch off this planet.

Well hear from some of those people that came out to cheer Inspriation4 on and ask them what made them turn to the sky and watch these four launch into space.

Then, is the crew astronauts? Its a complex question. Well chat with a spaceflight historian Amy Foster and retired NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman about what it takes to be called an astronaut and if this crew meets the definition.

Looking back at Inspiration 4s launch, and the future of commercial astronauts thats ahead on Are We There Yet, here on WMFE Americas Space Station.

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Former Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes on Nassar hearing: USA Gymnastics is about ‘medals and money’ – The Week Magazine

Posted: September 16, 2021 at 6:35 am

Former Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes spoke to MSNBC Wednesday regarding the Senate hearing on the FBI's botched investigation into abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

"The sport of gymnastics, USAgymnastics has all been about medals and money," said Dawes. She added that her Olympic team's win in 1996 made the organization "extremely wealthy," and inspired many gyms and parents looking for an Olympian or college gymnast of their own.

But be cautious, she warned. "I want to plead to these parents and have them open their eyes and see that there is a great deal of toxicity in these private clubs. It's not solely USA Gymnastics," Dawes said. "It's also the clubs that are within and under USA Gymnastics, it's those private coaches" that are out there "verbally, emotionally, physically, and psychologically abusing these young girls."

Earlier, Dawes also told NBC News of "the very toxic culture" in the sport of gymnastics, and discussed how it related to Nassar's abuse. "What this predator did is he saw the vulnerability in these young athletes, and he preyed on them and he took advantage of them," she said.

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10 Best Clinics for Covid-19 Vaccination in Amman [2021 …

Posted: September 8, 2021 at 10:14 am

When you receive a COVID-19 vaccine, you should still wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth unless you cannot wear one for a disability or health reason. Make sure to stay 6 feet away from others while you are waiting in line to get the vaccine.

Before the medical staff injects the vaccine, you will be asked some questions about your medical history. Tell the staff if you are pregnant, have ever had a severe allergic reaction, or have certain medical conditions. You will then be given an injection of the vaccine into your upper arm. Most COVID-19 vaccines require more than one injection, so you will be asked to return to the facility for another injection between three to four weeks following the first one, depending on the COVID-19 vaccine used. It is important to have both injections of the same vaccine to get the best protection. The first injection should give you adequate protection from the virus. Still, you do need to have two injections of the vaccine to get full and longer-lasting protection. Unless your doctor or a provider tells you not to get a second shot, make sure to get the second shot even if you have side effects from the first one.

There are currently more than 200 candidates of COVID-19 vaccines in development and clinical trials worldwide. Some have produced very positive results in phase III clinical trials. As of December 2020, several vaccines have been authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19 in various countries. These are:

Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has been given emergency use authorization by the FDA (the United States Food and Drug Administration) and the MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency). Data has shown that this vaccine is 95% effective at preventing COVID-19 in people without evidence of the previous infection. This vaccine requires two injections, which are given 21 days apart. It is delivered through shots in the muscle of the upper arm. Pfizer/BioNtech Vaccine is for people age 16 and older.

Moderna Vaccine

Like the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine has also been given emergency use authorization by the FDA and the MHRA. Evidence from clinical trials has shown that this vaccine has an efficiency rate of 94.1%. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 and older. It needs two injections, one month (28 days) apart, and is given through shots in the upper arm muscles.

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to create a protein that can trigger an immune response inside of the body. This immune response produces antibodies, which protect us from getting infected if the virus enters our bodies.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine, or Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine, was approved by the MHRA on 30 December 2020 but has not been submitted application for emergency use authorization in the US. Data from clinical studies have shown that AstraZeneca Vaccine is 70% effective in protecting people from getting infected. It requires two injections, given four weeks apart.

Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna Vaccines, AstraZeneca Vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. It is created from a weekend version of a common cold virus (called adenovirus) that has been modified to look more like the coronavirus. When the AstraZeneca vaccine is injected into our body, it prompts our immune system to begin creating antibodies, which attack SARS-CoV-2 infection.

CoronaVac

Besides these three, another COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved by many countries is the CoronaVac, which was developed by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac. At this point in time, it is hard to say exactly how effective the Sinovac vaccine is. A late-stage trial in Turkey shows that the vaccine was 91.25% effective, a clinical trial in Brazil says that the vaccine was 78% effective, and Indonesia says that the vaccine is 65.3% effective. It is an inactivated whole virus vaccine that works by using killed viral particles to expose our bodys immune system to the virus without risking a serious response. It triggers our bodies to produce an immune response that will protect us against infection.

As of January 2020, Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia have signed an agreement with Sinovac to buy the CoronaVac. Ukraine, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Bolivia, and Chile have also authorized the use of CoronaVac or struck supply deals with Sinovac.

Sputnik V

Several countries, such as Argentina, have also authorized Sputnik V for emergency use. Also known as the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V is developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

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COVID-19 Q&A: Breakthrough cases, booster shots and more – The Texas Tribune

Posted: at 10:14 am

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

With coronavirus hospitalizations in Texas hovering just below the pandemics winter peak, Texans are again grappling with how to deal with the virus in their day-to-day lives.

Last week, the Texas Education Agency announced that at least 45 small school districts shut down in-person classes due to high COVID-19 numbers. On top of that, major metropolitan hospitals are halting elective surgeries as they did during prior surges when hospitals filled up with COVID patients.

Although vaccines have slightly changed the calculus on safety protocols, many of the same factors that drove the winter surge are also driving the current wave of cases.

The Texas Tribune spoke with Dr. James Cutrell, an associate professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center who specializes in COVID-19 treatment, to answer questions about masks, vaccinations and breakthrough cases. Cutrell completed a fellowship in infectious diseases in 2013 at UT Southwestern and now is the director of the adult fellowship program in infectious diseases.

If you get vaccinated, do you still have to wear a mask?

Although the COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide very good protection, particularly against severe disease, hospitalization or death, there remains a risk of milder infection in those who are fully vaccinated.

Moreover, if infected, those who are fully vaccinated are able to transmit that infection to others, although their overall risk of transmission is lower than those who are unvaccinated. In order to reduce both the personal risk of infection and risk of spreading it to others, masking can be one effective strategy to protect yourself and others.

Therefore, the current CDC recommendations are that fully vaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask when in public indoor spaces if they live in an area of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission. The definition of an area of substantial or high COVID-19 transmission is more than 50 cases per 100,000 people or a test positivity rate greater than 8%. This would currently include many areas of the country, including Texas.

How common are breakthrough cases for vaccinated people? Is the state tracking that?

Although early data from the end of April 2021 reported that breakthrough cases were very uncommon (about 0.01% among the first 100 million Americans vaccinated), breakthrough cases have become more common as community cases and transmission with the delta variant have risen across the country.

Precise estimates of the frequency of breakthrough cases are not known because since May 2021 the CDC has primarily been tracking breakthrough cases only in those who are hospitalized or die. There are some states that have continued to track the rates of breakthrough cases, but Texas is only tracking hospitalized or fatal cases due to COVID-19 breakthrough infections.

The CDC is conducting focused studies in 10 states through the Emerging Infections Program to determine better estimates of the overall rate of breakthrough cases during the current delta variant surge, including milder disease and infection.

What are the timelines around expanding eligibility for the vaccine? When can children under 12 get it?

Current clinical trials are ongoing, evaluating the safety and efficacy of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) for children under 12.

We expect that the data in the group of children ages 5-11 will be submitted to the FDA at some point in the early to mid-fall for review. There is less certainty around how long the FDA review process will take.

The CDC is recommending that pregnant women get vaccinated. Is there any research on how the vaccine affects pregnancy?

The CDC recently strengthened their recommendation of the COVID-19 vaccines for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy. This is based on increasing data showing that the vaccines are safe in pregnancy, with no signals of increased risk of miscarriage, preterm birth or other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Additionally, the vaccine has proven effective at reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy.

Finally, there is a growing body of evidence showing that pregnant women who develop COVID-19 have a higher risk of severe disease leading to hospitalization or death and also a higher risk of pregnancy complications due to the infection. For all of these reasons, the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy strongly outweighs potential risks or side effects.

I live with someone who is immunocompromised. They already got their Pfizer booster. Should I get the booster early, too?

Currently the additional third doses (boosters) are only being administered to those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. Those who are close or household contacts of an immunocompromised individual are not yet recommended to receive a booster.

At this point, the most important things for those who are close contacts to an immunocompromised patient are to be sure they are fully vaccinated (with their first two vaccine doses) and to be sure that they are wearing masks and taking other precautions when in public settings to minimize their risk of developing COVID-19 and spreading it to their loved one.

Are the mRNA boosters developed specifically for the delta variant? I've seen reports that Moderna and Pfizer are working on vaccines that target the delta variant.

The current boosters being administered and considered are the original mRNA vaccine, which was targeted for the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. These vaccines still show good efficacy against the delta variant, particularly in preventing more severe disease.

Clinical trials of updated mRNA vaccines, which are designed specifically to target the delta variant, began in August 2021, so in the future there will likely be boosters approved specifically for that variant.

When will the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines get FDA approval?

Moderna completed its submission of data for full FDA approval in late August 2021. The FDA is reviewing under priority review so we expect that this fall it will be approved (for reference, it took 97 days from full submission of the Pfizer vaccine data to full approval). The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to have its data submitted for full approval by the end of 2021.

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COVID-19 Q&A: Breakthrough cases, booster shots and more - The Texas Tribune

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New Studies Find Evidence Of ‘Superhuman’ Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals – NPR

Posted: at 10:14 am

An illustration of antibodies attacking a coronavirus particle. Christoph Burgstedt/Science Photo Library /Getty Images hide caption

An illustration of antibodies attacking a coronavirus particle.

Some scientists have called it "superhuman immunity" or "bulletproof." But immunologist Shane Crotty prefers "hybrid immunity."

"Overall, hybrid immunity to SARS-CoV-2 appears to be impressively potent," Crotty wrote in commentary in Science back in June.

No matter what you call it, this type of immunity offers much-needed good news in what seems like an endless array of bad news regarding COVID-19.

Over the past several months, a series of studies has found that some people mount an extraordinarily powerful immune response against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. Their bodies produce very high levels of antibodies, but they also make antibodies with great flexibility likely capable of fighting off the coronavirus variants circulating in the world but also likely effective against variants that may emerge in the future.

"One could reasonably predict that these people will be quite well protected against most and perhaps all of the SARS-CoV-2 variants that we are likely to see in the foreseeable future," says Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at Rockefeller University who helped lead several of the studies.

In a study published online last month, Bieniasz and his colleagues found antibodies in these individuals that can strongly neutralize the six variants of concern tested, including delta and beta, as well as several other viruses related to SARS-CoV-2, including one in bats, two in pangolins and the one that caused the first coronavirus pandemic, SARS-CoV-1.

"This is being a bit more speculative, but I would also suspect that they would have some degree of protection against the SARS-like viruses that have yet to infect humans," Bieniasz says.

So who is capable of mounting this "superhuman" or "hybrid" immune response?

People who have had a "hybrid" exposure to the virus. Specifically, they were infected with the coronavirus in 2020 and then immunized with mRNA vaccines this year. "Those people have amazing responses to the vaccine," says virologist Theodora Hatziioannou at Rockefeller University, who also helped lead several of the studies. "I think they are in the best position to fight the virus. The antibodies in these people's blood can even neutralize SARS-CoV-1, the first coronavirus, which emerged 20 years ago. That virus is very, very different from SARS-CoV-2."

In fact, these antibodies were even able to deactivate a virus engineered, on purpose, to be highly resistant to neutralization. This virus contained 20 mutations that are known to prevent SARS-CoV-2 antibodies from binding to it. Antibodies from people who were only vaccinated or who only had prior coronavirus infections were essentially useless against this mutant virus. But antibodies in people with the "hybrid immunity" could neutralize it.

These findings show how powerful the mRNA vaccines can be in people with prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2, she says. "There's a lot of research now focused on finding a pan-coronavirus vaccine that would protect against all future variants. Our findings tell you that we already have it.

"But there's a catch, right?" she adds: You first need to be sick with COVID-19. "After natural infections, the antibodies seem to evolve and become not only more potent but also broader. They become more resistant to mutations within the [virus]."

Hatziioannou and colleagues don't know if everyone who has had COVID-19 and then an mRNA vaccine will have such a remarkable immune response. "We've only studied the phenomena with a few patients because it's extremely laborious and difficult research to do," she says.

But she suspects it's quite common. "With every single one of the patients we studied, we saw the same thing." The study reports data on 14 patients.

Several other studies support her hypothesis and buttress the idea that exposure to both a coronavirus and an mRNA vaccine triggers an exceptionally powerful immune response. In one study, published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine, scientists analyzed antibodies generated by people who had been infected with the original SARS virus SARS-CoV-1 back in 2002 or 2003 and who then received an mRNA vaccine this year.

Remarkably, these people also produced high levels of antibodies and it's worth reiterating this point from a few paragraphs above antibodies that could neutralize a whole range of variants and SARS-like viruses.

Now, of course, there are so many remaining questions. For example, what if you catch COVID-19 after you're vaccinated? Or can a person who hasn't been infected with the coronavirus mount a "superhuman" response if the person receives a third dose of a vaccine as a booster?

Hatziioannou says she can't answer either of those questions yet. "I'm pretty certain that a third shot will help a person's antibodies evolve even further, and perhaps they will acquire some breadth [or flexibility], but whether they will ever manage to get the breadth that you see following natural infection, that's unclear."

Immunologist John Wherry, at the University of Pennsylvania, is a bit more hopeful. "In our research, we already see some of this antibody evolution happening in people who are just vaccinated," he says, "although it probably happens faster in people who have been infected."

In a recent study, published online in late August, Wherry and his colleagues showed that, over time, people who have had only two doses of the vaccine (and no prior infection) start to make more flexible antibodies antibodies that can better recognize many of the variants of concern.

So a third dose of the vaccine would presumably give those antibodies a boost and push the evolution of the antibodies further, Wherry says. So a person will be better equipped to fight off whatever variant the virus puts out there next.

"Based on all these findings, it looks like the immune system is eventually going to have the edge over this virus," says Bieniasz, of Rockefeller University. "And if we're lucky, SARS-CoV-2 will eventually fall into that category of viruses that gives us only a mild cold."

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New Studies Find Evidence Of 'Superhuman' Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals - NPR

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Here are your chances of getting a breakthrough COVID-19 case – WANE

Posted: at 10:14 am

by: Aleksandra Bush, Joe Donlon, Nexstar Media Wire

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows concern is growing among partially and fully vaccinated adults, with 52% worried about catching the virus. Thats up from 32% in late June.

Is that concern warranted?

New data suggests the chance of vaccinated people getting COVID-19 is probably about one in 5,000, or .02%, per day, according to The New York Times. The chance may even be one in 10,000, or .01%.

When you look at the data, its very unlikely, if youre fully vaccinated, that you get a breakthrough infection, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said. Yes, they occur. Yes, theyre getting more common in certain areas where theres high spread, but its not something to worry about to the degree that people are.

Adalja says even if a vaccinated person does get COVID-19, the symptoms will likely be mild.

I think that really shows the power of these vaccines, Adalja said. The best way to put this pandemic behind us is to get our high-risk people vaccinated because we cannot have hospitals continually worrying about capacity problems because the unvaccinated are getting infected and taking up hospital space.

Dr. Daniel LaRoche, a physician at Mount Sinai in New York, agrees.

When you get infected with the COVID virus, then stay home, LaRoche said. Dont infect my colleagues, dont take up the space of a bed from another patient of mine.

LaRoche thinks we need to do a better job of educating the community, create more incentives for people to get vaccinated and assess penalties for those who dont.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden is expected to outline a new six-point COVID-19 plan.

Right now, we know 30% of Republicans are averse to getting the vaccine, political strategist Laura Fink said. We know young people are averse to getting the vaccine. And we know that communities of color dont have access. All of these are challenges that will have to be tackled by this administration and by everyone in this country.

Gov. Larry Hogan, R.-Md., says the White House has a messaging problem on vaccines and boosters. Fink said we need all hands on deck to inform the unvaccinated about the shots benefits.

You need trusted messengers, you need members of their church, you need people that are leading their unions, you need community leaders to all get out there on the frontlines and help, Fink said.

For Adalja, the message is clear.

This virus is going to find you if youre unvaccinated, Adalja.

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Here are your chances of getting a breakthrough COVID-19 case - WANE

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