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Archive for June 3rd, 2020

Slay the Spire, the decade’s best deckbuilding game, coming to iOS in June – Ars Technica

June 3rd, 2020

Trump’s former defence secretary issues strong rebuke of president, use of military against protests – CBC.ca

June 3rd, 2020

In an extraordinary rebuke, former U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday denounced President Donald Trump’s heavy-handed use of military force to quell protests near the White House and said his former boss was setting up a “false conflict” between the military and civilian society.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis wrote.

The criticism was all the more remarkable because Mattis has generally kept a low profile since resigning as defence secretary in December 2018 to protest Trump’s Syria policy. He had declined to speak out against Trump, saying he owed the nation public silence while his former boss remained in office.

But he’s speaking out after this past week’s protests in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Trump responded on Twitter Wednesday evening by calling Mattis “the world’s most overrated General.”

Mattis resigned last year over Trump’s Syria policy. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

“I didn’t like his `leadership’ style or much else about him, and many others agree,” Trump tweeted. “Glad he is gone!”

Mattis had a scathing description of Trump’s walk to a historic nearby church Monday to pose with a Bible after law enforcement forcibly cleared Lafayette Square of mostly peaceful protesters.

He said he never dreamed troops “would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens — much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.”

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people —does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us,” Mattis wrote in a statement published by The Atlantic. “We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Mattis called on Americans to unite without Trump. “This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children,” he wrote.

Mattis said of the protesters that Americans should not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. He said they are rightly demanding that the country follow the words of “Equal Justice Under Law” that are on display at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation,” Mattis said.

Mattis took particular issue with the use of force to move back protesters so Trump could visit St. John’s Church the day after it was damaged by fire during protests. Several different groups, including the National Guard and the U.S. Park Police, were involved.

“We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution,” Mattis said.

One day after Trump announced he was pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, where they were partnering with local Syrians to fight the Islamic State, Mattis tried but failed to change Trump’s mind. So, he resigned. Trump soon turned on Mattis, calling him a failure. He said falsely that he had fired Mattis.

“What’s he done for me?” Trump said Jan. 2. “How had he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. I’m not happy with what he’s done in Afghanistan, and I shouldn’t be happy.”

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Coronavirus testing now recommended for some Oregonians without symptoms: Are you on the list? – OregonLive

June 3rd, 2020

The Oregon Health Authority announced Wednesday that it is now recommending coronavirus testing for some people who have no symptoms, but the latest guidance still does not include broad testing at long-term care facilities.

State public health officials reversed their earlier stance that the general testing of people without symptoms “is not useful,” highlighting six categories of Oregonians where testing is now recommended.

That includes people of color who have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in Oregon and nationally. At least one Oregon tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, has seen more than 20 positive COVID-19 cases as of the end of May.

“The broad impacts of the coronavirus have fallen especially hard on Black and African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American, and Latino, Latina, and Latinx people, in the U.S., and here in Oregon,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said in a statement Tuesday. “A centuries-long history of racism and oppression have led to the very health conditions that exacerbate the impacts of COVID-19.”

The six categories are:

  • Close contacts of a person with a confirmed infection or with a person presumed by public health officials to be infected
  • People exposed to coronavirus in a congregate setting, such as a nursing home or prison
  • Migrant or seasonal farm workers, when they arrive in Oregon
  • Oregonians who are black, African American, Latino, Latina, Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander
  • Oregonians with a disability
  • People whose first language is not English

Testing capacity in Oregon is estimated at nearly 38,000 a week, although fewer than half that many people are typically being tested.

Encouraging testing among some people without symptoms could help identify infections earlier and reduce the spread. The virus has disproportionately infected Latinos, who are among those now urged to be tested without symptoms.

The Oregon Health Authority’s guidance still does not encourage widespread testing in long-term care facilities. That’s not as aggressive as federal guidance to test all staff in nursing homes every week. Residents should also get tested weekly in facilities with even one suspected infection until the virus is gone, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

State officials have hinted that a testing plan for long-term care facilities is imminent.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Health Authority disclosed that it has now launched a study of antibody test results. Serology tests do not identify active infections but, if accurate, are supposed to show if someone has developed an antibody to the virus from a previous infection.

The study is supposed to “determine population prevalence of antibodies in Oregon based on sampling across the state,” according to health authority documents.

State health officials told the newsroom last month that the were not analyzing antibody results because the tests were too unreliable.

— Brad Schmidt; bschmidt@oregonian.com; 503-294-7628; @_brad_schmidt

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Project Cars 3 – Official Announcement Trailer (4K) – IGN

June 3rd, 2020

Fortnite’s next live event and season delayed again – The Verge

June 3rd, 2020

iOS 13.5.5 code provides evidence of future Apple services bundle in development – 9to5Mac

June 3rd, 2020

Hydroxychloroquine fails to prevent coronavirus symptoms, researchers say – Fox News

June 3rd, 2020

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The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine it is not effective in preventing patients from contracting the coronavirus, a new study suggests.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the globe, government and health agencies rushed to find a means of stemming the infection using existing drug treatments. Initial studies, particularly in France and China, suggested that the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with antibiotics could speed up recovery.

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President Donald Trump has been a vocal supporter of the drug, even claiming to have taken it to help prevent infection.

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that, at least, the drug is not effective in preventing a person from contracting the virus once exposed to it.

“This was a large, randomized controlled trial done by very good people. Hydroxychloroquine did not provide a notable advantage,” Dr. William Schaffner, a specialist at Vanderbilt University, said.

TRUMP HAS HAD NO SIDE EFFECTS FROM HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE TREATMENT, DOCTOR SAYS

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota and Canada, used 821 participants who had been exposed to the virus. The participants were health care workers and people who may have been exposed to an infected family member.

None of the participants, ranging from ages 33 to 50, exhibited symptoms and did not exhibit any underlying health problems. Within four days of exposure, researchers randomly provided either hydroxychloroquine or a placebo.

Researchers found “hydroxychloroquine did not prevent illness compatible with COVID-19 or confirmed infection when used as postexposure prophylaxis within four days after exposure.”

COVID-19 DRUG SHOWS 100-FOLD DROP IN VIRAL LOAD IN ANIMAL TESTING, S KOREA COMPANY SAYS

“The take-home message for the general public is that if you’re exposed to someone with COVID-19, hydroxychloroquine is not an effective post-exposure, preventive therapy,” the lead author of the study, Dr. David R. Boulware, from the University of Minnesota, said in an interview with the New York Times.

The greatest concern in using the drug is the laundry list of possible side effects, with particular focus on the possibility of heart failure, mild or severe bronchospasm or suicidal thoughts. The study found that more participants – roughly 40 percent vs 17 percent – were likely to suffer from side effects, but none exhibited the more serious effects.

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The president’s support for the drug led to the Food and Drug Administration fast-tracking research on the drug’s effectiveness.  The study did not address if hydroxychloroquine can prevent infection if taken before exposure, but other studies are addressing that possibility.

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Blood group type may affect susceptibility to COVID-19 respiratory failure – News-Medical.Net

June 3rd, 2020

A group of over 120 researchers from various institutions across Europe has performed the first genome-wide association study to reveal host genetic factors that may contribute to respiratory failure in cases of coronavirus disease 209 (COVID-19).

The authors say the genetic variants they have identified could help guide further research into the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and aid the clinical risk profiling of patients.

A pre-print version of the paper is available on the server medRxiv*, while the article undergoes peer review.

The rapid spread of the pandemic

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China, late last year, it has rapidly become a pandemic health emergency that has now infected more than 6.39 million people worldwide and killed almost 400,000.

In Europe, Italy and Spain have been among the most severely affected countries, with epidemics peaking during the second half of February and more than 60,000 fatal cases being reported by May 28th.

Most people infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the causative agent of COVID-19 – only experience mild or even no symptoms.

Mortality rates are mainly driven by patients who are more susceptible to respiratory failure after becoming ill with pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome. However, for reasons that are not properly understood, this is only the case for less than 10 percent of people who become infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID

Potential factors involved in respiratory failure

The development of severe disease has also been associated with the presence of comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. However, the role these health problems play in determining the severity of disease risk is unclear.

Some observations of endothelitis and vascular complications have suggested that the disease is systemic and mainly involves the vascular endothelium. Still, these insights into the pathology of severe COVID-19 are only hypothetical.

Performing a genome-wide analysis

To investigate, Tom Karlsen (Oslo University Hospital Rikshospitalet, Norway) and colleagues in Spain, Italy, and Germany, recruited 1,980 COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure from five cities in Spain and Italy.

They conducted a genome-wide association analysis with the aim of identifying any host genetic susceptibility factors that contribute to the development of respiratory failure.

“Using a pragmatic approach with simplified inclusion criteria and a complementary team of clinicians at the European Covid-19 epicenters in Italy and Spain and available German and Norwegian scientists, we were able to perform a complete GWAS for Covid-19 respiratory failure in about two months,” say the researchers.

After considering quality control and potential outliers, the final study population included 835 patients and 1,255 controls from Italy and 775 patients and 950 controls from Spain.

A total of 8,582,968 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were analyzed, and a meta-analysis of the Italian and Spanish cohorts was conducted.

What did the study find?

The team detected a cross-replicating association between SNPs on chromosome 3 and chromosome 9 that reached genome-wide significance.

A cluster of genes that could be relevant to the development of severe COVID-19 was identified on chromosome 3p21. One of these genes – SLC6A20 – encodes a transporter protein that interacts with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the host cell receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to gain viral entry.

In the lungs, this protein, which is called Sodium/Imino-acid Transporter 1 (SIT1), is mainly expressed in pneumocytes, and the authors think these cells should be investigated for any involvement that SIT1 may have in viral entry.

A lead SNP was also identified on chromosome 9 at the ABO blood group locus, and further analysis showed that A-positive participants were at a 45% increased for respiratory failure, while individuals with blood group O were at a 35% decreased risk for respiratory failure.

The authors say that early clinical reports have suggested the ABO blood group system is involved in determining susceptibility to COVID-19 and has also been implicated in susceptibility to SARS-CoV-1.

Study: The ABO blood group locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associate with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis. Image Credit: Designua

Study: The ABO blood group locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associate with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis. Image Credit: Designua / Shutterstock

“Further exploration” of the findings is “now warranted”

“We herein report the first robust genetic susceptibility loci for the development of respiratory failure in Covid-19. Identified variants may help guide targeted exploration of severe Covid19 pathophysiology,” say Karlsen and team.

“Further exploration of current findings, both as to their utility in clinical risk profiling of Covid-19 patients and mechanistic understanding of the underlying pathophysiology, is now warranted,” they conclude.

*Important Notice

medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.

Journal reference:
  • Karlsen T, et al. The ABO blood group locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associate with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis. medRxiv 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.31.20114991

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Fortnite season 3 delayed again, new release date announced – Polygon

June 3rd, 2020

Trump said he took hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus, but new study shows that doesn’t work – CNN

June 3rd, 2020

(CNN) On the heels of studies showing hydroxychloroquine doesn’t help patients in the hospital with Covid-19, a new study — the first of its kind — shows the drug doesn’t work to prevent infection with the virus, either.

President Trump said he took hydroxychloroquine last month, shortly after he found out that his personal valet had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The University of Minnesota study has been covered in the media over the past few months, and Dr. David Boulware, the author of the new study, says the president’s physician sent him an email on May 9, seeking his opinion about taking the drug preventatively, and asking about the results of the study and the dose the study subjects were taking.

Boulware says he advised Trump’s physician that there was no published research showing hydroxychloroquine worked preventatively and shared that the people in his study who took hydroxychloroquine had higher rates of side effects, mostly gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting.

“I knew they were probably going to ignore what I said because the White House had been talking about hydroxychloroquine for weeks and weeks and weeks,” said Boulware, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota.

The study was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

No difference between hydroxychloroquine and placebo

The University of Minnesota study is a double-blind randomized clinical control trial, considered the gold standard in medicine.

Starting in mid-March, Boulware and his colleagues recruited 821 people in the US and Canada who had been exposed to Covid-19. Some were health care workers and others lived in the same house as someone with the virus. The median age was 40.

About half the study subjects were assigned to take hydroxychloroquine for five days, and the other half were assigned to take a placebo, or a pill that does nothing. Neither the researchers nor the study subjects knew who was taking which drug.

The researchers then monitored the study subjects for two weeks.

In the end, it didn’t matter if they received the drug or not: about 12% of those taking hydroxychloroquine came down with symptoms of Covid-19, compared to about 14% of those taking the placebo, a difference that was not statistically significant.

In both groups, most of the patients did not receive a Covid-19 diagnostic test, since at the time of the study, such tests were in short supply. Instead, four physicians involved with the study reviewed the study subjects’ symptoms to see if they were compatible with a Covid diagnosis.

Among the patients taking hydroxychloroquine, 40% reported a side effect, compared to 17% of those who took the placebo. Nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea were among the most common side effects, and none of the side effects were considered serious, according to the study.

More research on prevention

Boulware said his story underscores the need to study drugs to find out if they work in particular situations.

“Even in the setting of a pandemic, we need research to help inform the best practice for what works in humans,” said Boulware, senior author of the study.

This won’t be the last word on hydroxychloroquine as prevention against Covid-19. Researchers at New York University and the University of Washington and elsewhere are also studying whether hydroxychloroquine might help people who have been exposed to the virus fight off a Covid infection.

The University of Minnesota team is studying whether hydroxychloroquine could work earlier on, to prevent infection in people who have not had an exposure.

“Maybe if they take the drug before they’re exposed, before the infection has had time to set up shop, it could have an effect at preventing disease,” he said.

His team is also looking to see whether the drug might help people with early symptoms of Covid-19 from becoming so sick that they end up in the hospital.

“You don’t know until you do the clinical trial,” he said.

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