Archive for February 8th, 2020

Scientists race to develop vaccine for new coronavirus – Bangkok Post

February 8th, 2020
Scientists around the world are racing to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus that emerged in China late last year.
Scientists around the world are racing to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus that emerged in China late last year.

SINGAPORE: Scientists from the United States to Australia are using new technology in an ambitious, multi-million-dollar drive to develop a vaccine in record time to tackle China’s coronavirus outbreak.

The new virus has spread rapidly since emerging late last year in China, killing more than 800 people in the mainland and infecting over 37,000. Cases have been reported in two dozen other countries.

Coming up with any vaccine typically takes years, and involves a lengthy process of testing on animals, clinical trials on humans and regulatory approvals.

But several teams of experts are racing to develop one quicker, backed by an international coalition that aims to combat emerging diseases, and Australian scientists hope their’s could be ready in six months.

“It is a high-pressure situation and there is a lot of weight on us,” said senior researcher Keith Chappell, part of the group from Australia’s University of Queensland.

But the scientist added he took “some solace” knowing several teams around the world were engaged in the same mission.

“The hope is that one of these will be successful and can contain this outbreak,” he said.

But even a timeframe of six months looks agonisingly slow with the virus, believed to have emerged from a market selling wild animals, killing close to 100 people every day in mainland China.

Efforts are being led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a body established in 2017 to finance costly biotechnology research in the wake of an Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people.

With a mission to speed up the development of vaccines, CEPI is pouring millions of dollars into four projects around the world and has put out a call for more proposals.

– Attack the virus –

The projects hope to use new technology to develop vaccines that can be tested in the near future.

The body’s CEO, Richard Hatchett, said the aim was to start clinical testing in just 16 weeks.

German biopharmaceutical company CureVac and US-based Moderna Therapeutics are developing vaccines based on “messenger RNA” — instructions that tell the body to produce proteins — while Inovio, another American firm, is using DNA-based technology.

DNA- and RNA-based vaccines use the genetic coding of the virus to trick the body’s cells into producing proteins identical to those on the surface of the pathogen, explained Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of the emerging infectious diseases programme at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.

The immune system learns to recognise the proteins so that it is ready to find and attack the virus when it enters the body.

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The Australian researchers are using “molecular clamp” technology invented by the university’s scientists that allows them to rapidly develop new vaccines based solely on a virus DNA sequence.

French scientists at the Pasteur Institute are modifying the measles vaccine to work against the coronavirus, but do not expect it to be ready for about 20 months.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also started developing vaccines, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

– Risks versus benefits –

Health authorities weigh the risks and benefits in vaccine approvals and if there is a public health emergency, the process could be shortened, said Ooi of the Duke-NUS Medical School.

But he added that “paradoxically, if the situation improves, then actually the pathway for vaccines would be longer”.

“If there’s a lot of these new coronavirus cases around, then you accept some risk, because of the tremendous amount of benefit you can derive, whereas if there are not many cases, the tolerance for risk would be very low.”

While there is no vaccine for the coronavirus, some doctors are trying out a potent brew of anti-retroviral and flu drugs to treat those infected, but the science is inconclusive as to whether they are effective.

Ultimately, scientists may end up in the same situation they were during the 2002-2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) — it died out before a vaccine could be fully developed.

A close cousin of the new coronavirus, SARS spread around the world and killed nearly 800.

But Ong Siew Hwa, the director of Acumen Research Laboratories, a biotech company in Singapore, said efforts to develop a vaccine for the new virus should continue even if the outbreak ends.

“I think a vaccine will definitely be important,” she said. “If it’s not in time for this round, it is important for the next time.”


Afghan official: Multiple U.S. deaths after insider attack – CTV News

February 8th, 2020

KABUL — Multiple U.S. military deaths were reported in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province after an insider attack by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform, an Afghan provincial council member said early Sunday.

U.S. military officials confirmed multiple casualties but did not confirm the number wounded or killed or the nature of the attack that took place Saturday.

Nangarhar Provincial Council member Ajmal Omer told The Associated Press the gunman was killed. It wasn’t immediately clear if the gunman was an insurgent infiltrator or rogue Afghan military personnel. There have been numerous attacks by Afghan national army soldiers on their allied partners over the 18 years of Afghanistan’s protracted war.

Omer is a member of the provincial council and from Nangarhar province’s Sherzad district, where he said the incident took place. An Afghan soldier was wounded, Omer said, without saying whether the wounded soldier had been involved in the shootings.

The U.S. military said American and Afghan military personnel were fired on while conducting an operation in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. One official said there had been U.S. casualties, but no numbers were given.

The U.S. official said several U.S. personnel were either injured or killed but did not say who carried out the attack. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

A U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan said in a statement only that both Afghan and U.S. personnel were “engaged by direct firing.” The Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate both operate in eastern Nangarhar.

Last July, two U.S. service members were killed by an Afghan soldier in the southern Kandahar province. The shooter was wounded and arrested. In September, three U.S. military personnel were wounded when an member of the Afghan Civil Order Police fired on a military convoy, also in Kandahar.

The incident came as Washington has sought to find an end to the war in Afghanistan.

Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been meeting with Taliban representatives in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar in recent weeks. He’s seeking an agreement to reduce hostilities to get a peace deal signed that would start negotiations among Afghans on both sides of the conflict.

In his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump referenced the peace talks, saying U.S. soldiers were not meant to serve as “law enforcement agencies” for other nations.

“In Afghanistan, the determination and valour of our war fighters has allowed us to make tremendous progress, and peace talks are now underway, ” he said.

Gannon contributed from Islamabad. Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.

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After Globes victory, Joaquin Phoenix persuades Oscars to go vegan – Page Six

February 8th, 2020

After persuading the Golden Globes to go vegan, Joaquin Phoenix then convinced his powerful Hollywood agency, WME, to give up meat for the Oscars.

The agency threw its starry annual pre-Oscars party in Beverly Hills on Friday and offered stars including Leo DiCaprio, Jason Momoa, Wiz Khalifa and Miley Cyrus an entirely plant-based vegan spread.

Phoenix — who brought along his mom Arlyn Phoenix and fiancé Rooney Mara — was seen merrily dining on vegan meatballs, while other guests were spotted congratulating “The Joker” star on his awards season sweep, and the surprisingly good vegan food.

Phoenix has spearheaded an effort to turn this season’s awards shows vegan, beginning with the Golden Globes. When Phoenix took the Globes podium on Jan. 5, he acknowledged the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for its “very bold move making tonight plant-based. It really sends a powerful message.”

Then, the Critics’ Choice and SAG awards followed suit, followed by WME and the Academy, which ruled that all food served to guests arriving at the Dolby Theater before the Oscars on Sunday will be vegan.

Phoenix has argued that meat farming is a leading cause of climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions, and Hollywood should set an example.

Guests at the WME event, hosted by Endeavor’s CEO Ari Emanual and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell, included Michael B Jordan, Mahershala Ali, Florence Pugh, Jonah Hill, Maria Sharapova, Rami Malek, Gary Clark Jr., Josh Gad, Tyler The Creator, Jake Gyllenhaal, Liam Hemsworth, Chloe Grace Moretz, Vince Vaughn, Usher, Octavia Spencer, Adam Sandler and Janelle Monae.

The agency was also celebrating signing a series of big stars in the last six months including Miley, Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey Jr., Julianne Moore, SZA, Matthew McConaughey and Tom Brady.


In-hospital infection blamed in Wuhan hospital – NHK WORLD

February 8th, 2020

A team of medical professionals at a hospital in Wuhan says that around 40 percent of the patients with the new coronavirus they have treated may have contracted the illness at their hospital.

The team works at a Wuhan University hospital in the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak.

They published their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Friday.

The study says 138 cases were confirmed at the hospital between January 1 and 28. Of those, 41 percent, or 57 people, were medical staff or patients who were initially hospitalized for other reasons.

The study found that one patient in the surgical department may have infected more than 10 members of hospital staff.

It says that while patients had symptoms such as high fever and sense of fatigue, researchers revealed that 10 percent either had atypical symptoms such as diarrhea, or complained of nausea.

It concludes that it was difficult to screen patients with symptoms not previously associated with the virus. The team says that an important feature of the new coronavirus is the rapid human-to-human transmission among people in close contact.


Coronavirus outbreak: Virus now deadlier than SARS outbreak;200+ Canadians begin two-week quarantine – Global News

February 8th, 2020

More than 200 people under quarantine at the Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ontario, woke up to their first full day in Canada, after being airlifted out of the novel coronavirus outbreak epicentre in China. Mike Le Couteur reports on the Canadians still waiting to leave area, as the outbreak claims more lives than the 2002-03 SARS outbreak.

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Ontario town pitches in to welcome Canadian evacuees from Wuhan – CTV News

February 8th, 2020

TORONTO — Volunteers in the small town of Trenton, Ont., are pitching in to make a group of Canadian evacuees from Wuhan, China, feel welcome as they begin two weeks of quarantine at a military base. 

On Friday, two planes carrying 215 people evacuated from the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak arrived at the Canadian Forces Base Trenton in southern Ontario.

None of those evacuees are currently showing any symptoms of the illness, officials confirmed Saturday.

The people of Trenton say they are proud to be a part of an effort to make a temporary home for the evacuees.

Volunteer Brian Irvine is cooking lunch and dinner for the 35 Red Cross workers. The organization is on site to provide ongoing support, such as wellness checks and referrals.

“They’re putting their life on hold to come here and spend time with quarantined people so they deserve a good meal,” Irvine told CTV News.

A grocery store is also preparing and sending cookie care packages to the children who are in quarantine. Thirty-four minors were onboard the Canadian government-charted flight that landed on Friday.

Baker Elizabeth Upenette said it’s one way to show “love and support” for the evacuees. 

“You’re home, you’re on Canadian soil, you’re safe,” she said.

Back at the base, evacuees are allowed to go outside up to four times a day and are encouraged to stay two metres away from each other.

The individuals in quarantine are subject to daily health checks and must wear medical masks when they are outside their motel rooms. 

Anyone who exhibits symptoms will be transported to a local hospital for further treatment.

For Michael Schellenberg and his family, it’s an opportunity to spend some quality time together.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time with our son and watch a lot of movies,” he said.

Mainland China’s death toll from the novel coronavirus has risen to 811, which surpasses the total number of fatalities worldwide from the SARS outbreak in 2002 to 2003.

Another flight carrying Canadians from Wuhan is scheduled to depart on Monday.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons Might Contain In-Game Purchases – Nintendo Life

February 8th, 2020

Actor Orson Bean, 91, hit and killed by car in LA – Las Vegas Review-Journal

February 8th, 2020

LOS ANGELES — Orson Bean, the witty actor and comedian who enlivened the game show “To Tell the Truth” and played a crotchety merchant on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” was hit and killed by a car in Los Angeles, authorities said. He was 91.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirmed Bean’s Friday night death, saying it was being investigated as a “traffic-related” fatality. The coroner’s office provided the location where Bean was found, which matched reports from police.

A man was crossing the road outside of a crosswalk in the Venice neighborhood when he was clipped by a vehicle and fell, Los Angeles Police Department Officer Drake Madison said. A second driver then struck him in what police say was the fatal collision. Both drivers remained on the scene, neither was impaired and Bean’s death was being treated as an accident, Madison said.

Bean appeared in a number of films — notably, “Anatomy of a Murder” and “Being John Malkovich” — and starred in several top Broadway productions, receiving a Tony nod for the 1962 Comden-Green musical “Subways Are for Sleeping.” But fans remembered him most for his many TV appearances from the 1950s onward.

“Mr. Bean’s face comes wrapped with a sly grin, somewhat like the expression of a child when sneaking his hand into the cookie jar,” The New York Times noted in a review of his 1954 variety show, “The Blue Angel.” It said he showed “a quality of being likable even when his jokes fall flat.”

The early years

Born in Burlington, Vermont, in 1928 as Dallas Frederick Burrows, he never lost the Yankee accent that proved a perfect complement to the dry, laconic storytelling that established him as popular humorist. He had picked the stage name Orson Bean “because it sounded funny.”

His father, George, was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and Bean recalled later that his “house was filled with causes.” But he left home at 16 after his mother died by suicide.

In a 1983 New York Times interview, he recalled his early career in small clubs where the show consisted of “me — master of ceremonies, comedian and magician — maybe a dog act, and a stripper.” It was a piano player in one such club, he said, who suggested replacing Dallas Burrows with some funny name like “Roger Duck” — or Orson Bean.

Bean’s quick wit and warm personality made him a favorite panelist for six years on “To Tell the Truth.” The game required the panelists to quiz three contestants to figure out which one was a real notable and which two were impostors. The dramatic outcome inspired a national catchphrase as the host turned to the three and said: “Will the real (notable’s name) please stand up?”

Bean’s style appealed to both Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, and he appeared on “The Tonight Show” more than 200 times.

On the blacklist

But his early career was hobbled for a time when he found himself on the Hollywood blacklist in the early years of the Cold War.

“Basically I was blacklisted because I had a cute communist girlfriend,” he explained in a 2001 interview. “I stopped working on TV for a year.”

The blacklist didn’t stop him in the theater. Bean starred on Broadway as a timid fan magazine writer in George Axelrod’s 1955 Hollywood spoof “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” alongside Jayne Mansfield and Walter Matthau. He also starred on Broadway with Maureen O’Sullivan in “Never Too Late” and with Melina Mercouri in “Illya Darling,” based on her hit film “Never on Sunday.”

Bean took a break from his career for a time in the 1970s when he dropped out and moved to Australia, where he lived a hippie lifestyle. But he returned to the U.S. and — after a period as a self-described “house-husband” — resumed his career.

“I got sick of contemplating my navel and staring up at the sky and telling myself how wonderful it was not to be doing anything,” he explained in a 1983 interview with The New York Times.

Recent shows

In the 1990s, he played the shopkeeper Loren Bray on the long-running drama “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” He remained active on the screen in recent years with guest shots in such shows as “Desperate Housewives,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “Modern Family.”

Meanwhile, his politics turned more conservative. His daughter married leading right-wing commentator, Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart died in 2012 and Steve Bannon, later a top adviser to Donald Trump, took over Breitbart’s eponymous website, for which Bean had penned occasional columns.

Bean wrote a memoir called “Too Much Is Not Enough” and a book about a non-traditional therapy called “Me and the Orgone.”

He had already shown his interest in non-traditional thinking in 1964 when he bought a building in Manhattan and opened up a school based on the philosophy of Summerhill, the progressive British school founded by A.S. Neill.

“I said to myself, we have to start with the children. Why not start a school?” he told The New York Times.

That same year, he co-founded the Sons of the Desert, an organization dedicated to comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, with chapters around the world.

More recently, income from “Dr. Quinn” and other voice and acting work allowed Bean to finance the Pacific Resident Theater Ensemble in Venice, where he appeared with his third wife, actress Alley Mills.

He had a daughter, Michele, from his first marriage to Jacqueline de Sibour, and sons Max and Ezekiel and daughter Susannah from his marriage to Carolyn Maxwell.


New report on 138 coronavirus cases reveals disturbing details – Hot Air

February 8th, 2020

The patients ranged in age from 22 to 92, with a median of 56 years, and were admitted to Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University from Jan. 1 to Jan 28. Many of them — 41 percent — were presumed to have caught the virus in the hospital, including 17 people who had been admitted for other illnesses, and 40 health care workers.

The patient who infected so many health workers had been placed in a surgical ward because of abdominal symptoms, and the coronavirus was not initially suspected. Four other patients in that ward also contracted the disease, presumably from the first patient.

The incident was a chilling reminder of the “super-spreaders” in outbreaks of other coronavirus diseases, SARS and MERS — patients who infected huge numbers of other people, sometimes dozens. The phenomenon is poorly understood and unpredictable, an epidemiologist’s nightmare. Super-spreaders led to considerable transmission of MERS and SARS inside hospitals.


The 2020 Best Picture Nominees Ranked, According To CinemaBlend – CinemaBlend

February 8th, 2020

#4. Little Women

Average Score: 4.3095238/5

Coming out at the very, very end of 2019, not everyone on the CinemaBlend staff had the opportunity to see Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, and as a result it just missed out being on our Top 10 of 2019. That’s changed in the weeks since, though, and the result has been an improved average score that demonstrates it as one of our team’s favorites among the Best Picture nominees. This is a film that is sweet, stunning, and overloaded with charm – brought to life with brilliant performances from the entire ensemble. And no, we don’t know why Greta Gerwig didn’t get a Best Director nomination either.