Archive for June 14th, 2020

Android TV may soon recognize your exact voice – Engadget

June 14th, 2020

Slowing the Coronavirus Is Speeding the Spread of Other Diseases – MSN Money

June 14th, 2020

a young boy sitting on a bed: Three-year-old Allay Ngandema, who contracted measles, ate lunch with his mother, Maboa Alpha, in the measles isolation ward in Boso-Manzi hospital  in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late February.
© Hereward Holland/Reuters Three-year-old Allay Ngandema, who contracted measles, ate lunch with his mother, Maboa Alpha, in the measles isolation ward in Boso-Manzi hospital  in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late February.

As poor countries around the world struggle to beat back the coronavirus, they are unintentionally contributing to fresh explosions of illness and death from other diseases — ones that are readily prevented by vaccines.

a person riding a motorcycle down a dirt road: A Doctors Without Borders motorcycle convoy carrying measles vaccine crossed a log bridge in Mongala Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo in February.
© Hereward Holland/Reuters A Doctors Without Borders motorcycle convoy carrying measles vaccine crossed a log bridge in Mongala Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo in February.

This spring, after the World Health Organization and UNICEF warned that the pandemic could spread swiftly when children gathered for shots, many countries suspended their inoculation programs. Even in countries that tried to keep them going, cargo flights with vaccine supplies were halted by the pandemic and health workers diverted to fight it.

Now, diphtheria is appearing in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Cholera is in South Sudan, Cameroon, Mozambique, Yemen and Bangladesh.

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A mutated strain of poliovirus has been reported in more than 30 countries.

And measles is flaring around the globe, including in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.

Of 29 countries that have currently suspended measles campaigns because of the pandemic, 18 are reporting outbreaks. An additional 13 countries are considering postponement. According to the Measles and Rubella Initiative, 178 million people are at risk of missing measles shots in 2020.

a group of people sitting at a table: Children waited to be registered for the measles vaccine in Mbata-Siala, in western Democratic Republic of Congo, in March.
© Junior Kannah/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images Children waited to be registered for the measles vaccine in Mbata-Siala, in western Democratic Republic of Congo, in March.

The risk now is “an epidemic in a few months’ time that will kill more children than Covid,” said Chibuzo Okonta, the president of Doctors Without Borders in West and Central Africa.

As the pandemic lingers, the W.H.O. and other international public health groups are now urging countries to carefully resume vaccination while contending with the coronavirus.

At stake is the future of a hard-fought, 20-year collaboration that has prevented 35 million deaths in 98 countries from vaccine-preventable diseases, and reduced mortality from them in children by 44 percent, according to a 2019 study by the Vaccine Impact Modeling Consortium, a group of public health scholars.

a man sitting on the ground: Health workers immunizing against measles in Manila last month.
© Aaron Favila/Associated Press Health workers immunizing against measles in Manila last month.

“Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the W.H.O., in a statement. “Disruption to immunization programs from the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.”

a boy wearing a hat: Hawa Hamadou, a health worker at the Gamkalé health center in Niamey, Niger, has seen a drop in visits by mothers, who are afraid to bring their children for immunizations.
© UNICEF Hawa Hamadou, a health worker at the Gamkalé health center in Niamey, Niger, has seen a drop in visits by mothers, who are afraid to bring their children for immunizations.

But the obstacles to restarting are considerable. Vaccine supplies are still hard to come by. Health care workers are increasingly working full time on Covid-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus. And a new wave of vaccine hesitancy is keeping parents from clinics.

Many countries have yet to be hit with the full force of the pandemic itself, which will further weaken their capabilities to handle outbreaks of other diseases.

“We will have countries trying to recover from Covid and then facing measles. It would stretch their health systems further and have serious economic and humanitarian consequences,” said Dr. Robin Nandy, chief of immunization for UNICEF, which supplies vaccines to 100 countries, reaching 45 percent of children under 5.

The breakdown of vaccine delivery also has stark implications for protecting against the coronavirus itself.

At a global summit earlier this month, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a health partnership founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced it had received pledges of $8.8 billion for basic vaccines to children in poor and middle-income countries, and was beginning a drive to deliver Covid-19 vaccines, once they’re available.

But as services collapse under the pandemic, “they are the same ones that will be needed to send out a Covid vaccine,” warned Dr. Katherine O’Brien, the W.H.O.’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, during a recent webinar on immunization challenges.

Battling Measles in Congo

Three health care workers with coolers full of vaccines and a support team of town criers and note-takers recently stepped into a motorized wooden canoe to set off down the wide Tshopo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Although measles was breaking out in all of the country’s 26 provinces, the pandemic had shut down many inoculation programs weeks earlier.

The crew in the canoe needed to strike a balance between preventing the transmission of a new virus that is just starting to hit Africa hard and stopping an old, known killer. But when the long, narrow canoe pulled in at riverside communities, the crew’s biggest challenge turned out not to be the mechanics of vaccinating children while observing the pandemic’s new safety strictures. Instead, the crew found themselves working hard just to persuade villagers to allow their children to be immunized at all.

Many parents were convinced that the team was lying about the vaccine — that it was not for measles but, secretly, an experimental coronavirus vaccine, for which they would be unwitting guinea pigs.

In April, French-speaking Africa had been outraged by a French television interview in which two researchers said coronavirus vaccines should be tested in Africa — a remark that reignited memories of a long history of such abuses. And in Congo, the virologist in charge of the coronavirus response said that the country had indeed agreed to take part in clinical vaccine trials this summer. Later, he clarified that any vaccine would not be tested in Congo until it had been tested elsewhere. But pernicious rumors had already spread.

The team cajoled parents as best they could. Although vaccinators throughout Tshopo ultimately immunized 16,000 children, 2,000 others eluded them.

This had been the year that Congo, the second-largest country in Africa, was to launch a national immunization program. The urgency could not have been greater. The measles epidemic in the country, which started in 2018, has run on and on: Since this January alone, there have been more than 60,000 cases and 800 deaths. Now, Ebola has again flared, in addition to tuberculosis and cholera, which regularly strike the country.

Vaccines exist for all these diseases, although they are not always available. In late 2018, the country began an immunization initiative in nine provinces. It was a feat of coordination and initiative, and in 2019, the first full year, the percentage of fully immunized children jumped from 42 to 62 percent in Kinshasa, the capital.

This spring, as the program was being readied for its nationwide rollout, the coronavirus struck. Mass vaccination campaigns, which often mean summoning hundreds of children to sit close together in schoolyards and markets, seemed guaranteed to spread coronavirus. Even routine immunization, which typically occurs in clinics, became untenable in many areas.

The country’s health authorities decided to allow vaccinations to continue in areas with measles but no coronavirus cases. But the pandemic froze international flights that would bring medical supplies, and several provinces began running out of vaccines for polio, measles and tuberculosis.

When immunization supplies finally arrived in Kinshasa, they could not be moved around the country. Domestic flights had been suspended. Ground transport was not viable because of shoddy roads. Eventually, a United Nations peacekeeping mission ferried supplies on its planes.

Still, health workers, who had no masks, gloves or sanitizing gel, worried about getting infected; many stopped working. Others were diverted to be trained for Covid.

The cumulative impact has been particularly dire for polio eradication — around 85,000 Congolese children have not received that vaccine.

But the disease that public health officials are most concerned about erupting is measles.

More contagious than Covid

Measles virus spreads easily by aerosol — tiny particles or droplets suspended in the air — and is far more contagious than the coronavirus, according to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If people walk into a room where a person with measles had been two hours ago and no one has been immunized, 100 percent of those people will get infected,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Stanford University.

In poorer countries, the measles mortality rate for children under 5 ranges between 3 and 6 percent; conditions like malnutrition or an overcrowded refugee camp can increase the fatality rate. Children may succumb to complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and severe diarrhea.

In 2018, the most recent year for which data worldwide has been compiled, there were nearly 10 million estimated cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths. And global immunization programs were more robust then.

Before the coronavirus pandemic in Ethiopia, 91 percent of children in the capital, Addis Ababa, received their first measles vaccination during routine visits, while 29 percent in rural regions got them. (To prevent an outbreak of a highly infectious disease like measles, the optimum coverage is 95 percent or higher, with two doses of vaccine.) When the pandemic struck, the country suspended its April measles campaign. But the government continues to report many new cases.

“Outbreak pathogens don’t recognize borders,” said Dr. O’Brien of the W.H.O. “Especially measles: Measles anywhere is measles everywhere.”

Wealthier countries’ immunization rates have also been plunging during the pandemic. Some American states report drops as steep as 70 percent below the same period a year earlier, for measles and other diseases.

Once people start traveling again, the risk of infection will surge. “It keeps me up at night,” said Dr. Stephen L. Cochi, a senior adviser at the global immunization division at the C.D.C. “These vaccine-preventable diseases are just one plane ride away.”

Starting again

After the W.H.O. and its vaccine partners released the results of a survey last month showing that 80 million babies under a year old were at risk of missing routine immunizations, some countries, including Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and Nepal, began trying to restart their programs.

Uganda is now supplying health workers with motorbikes. In Brazil, some pharmacies are offering drive-by immunization services. In the Indian state of Bihar, a 50-year-old health care worker learned to ride a bicycle in three days so she could take vaccines to far-flung families. UNICEF chartered a flight to deliver vaccines to seven African countries.

Dr. Cochi of the C.D.C., which provides technical and program support to more than 40 countries, said that whether such campaigns can be conducted during the pandemic is an open question. “It will be fraught with limitations. We’re talking low-income countries where social distancing is not a reality, not possible,” he said, citing Brazilian favelas and migrant caravans.

He hopes that polio campaigns will resume swiftly, fearing that the pandemic could set back a global, decades-long effort to eradicate the disease.

Dr. Cochi is particularly worried about Pakistan and Afghanistan, where 61 cases of wild poliovirus Type 1 have been reported this year, and about Chad, Ghana, Ethiopia and Pakistan, where cases of Type 2 poliovirus, mutated from the oral vaccine, have appeared.

Thabani Maphosa, a managing director at Gavi, which partners with 73 countries to purchase vaccines, said that at least a half dozen of those countries say they cannot afford their usual share of vaccine costs because of the economic toll of the pandemic.

If the pandemic cleared within three months, Mr. Maphosa said, he believed the international community could catch up with immunizations over the next year and a half.

“But our scenarios are not telling us that will happen,” he added.

Jan Hoffman reported from New York, and Ruth Maclean from Dakar, Senegal.


Windows 10 June 2020 breaks printing even to PDFs – SlashGear

June 14th, 2020

Supposed Apple iPhone 12 molds and renders show different-sized smartphones with stylish iPad Pro design language but big notches –

June 14th, 2020

Pixel 4a launch thrown into chaos, Pixel 5 delayed – SlashGear

June 14th, 2020

Scientists locate the first fast radio burst in the Milky Way – Engadget

June 14th, 2020

Coronavirus: Blood clots targeted in treatment trial – BBC News

June 14th, 2020
Hospital bed

Scientists are to test whether an experimental drug can prevent potentially deadly blood clots associated with Covid-19.

The trial, funded by the British Heart Foundation, will test the theory the clots are caused by a hormone imbalance triggered by coronavirus infection.

It will become one of several drugs currently being trialled to prevent the disease’s worst effects.

A third of hospitalised coronavirus patients develop dangerous blood clots.

The drug, TRV027, works to rebalance hormones involved in blood pressure, water and salt.

Scientists from Imperial College London, involved in the trial, think that when the virus enters the body, it uses an enzyme as a “handle” to enter the cells.

But this disables the enzyme, which plays an important role in balancing the key hormones. When out of balance, the blood can become sticky, leading to clots.

They theorise that TRV027 – which won its creator a Nobel Prize in 2012 – can step in to play this rebalancing role.

Many of the treatments being trialled to treat Covid-19 focus on the body’s inflammatory response.

But the hormonal imbalance is a “quite distinct problem” which may provide clues to the question of why some people get severely ill why others do not, says Dr David Owen, one of the study’s leads.

Blood clotting could also explain why Covid-19 seems to particularly affect people who already have cardiovascular disease despite being a respiratory illness, according to the British Heart Foundation.

Different drugs trialled

Since Covid-19 is such a complex disease which effects many of the body’s systems, this treatment could be used in combination with other drugs says Dr Kat Pollock, a joint lead on the study.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

About 60 patients will be given either the new experimental drug, or a placebo, starting next month.

It has been shown to be safe in patients with acute heart failure, although it was not effective as a treatment for this condition.

TRV027 is just one of several different drugs being trialled to ease the disease’s worst effects or help the body fight it off.

At least 10 different antiviral drugs including HIV treatment lopinavir/ritonavir are being, or have been trialled to see if they can help fight off the disease.

None has yet been shown to be effective on its own, although there is still hope several could be used together to shorten patients’ illnesses.

Remdesivir, a drug that has shown promising effects, works by attacking an enzyme that a virus needs in order to replicate inside body cells.

Meanwhile plasma – the liquid part of blood – taken from people who have recovered from coronavirus might also help, by giving sick people who haven’t recovered the right antibodies to fight it off.

And a number of other treatments are focusing on the body’s dangerous inflammatory response to fighting Covid-19, known as cytokine release syndrome.

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Daughter of country music legend Hank Williams Jr. dies in car crash, authorities say – CBS News

June 14th, 2020

Katherine Williams-Dunning, the daughter of country music legend Hank Williams Jr., died in a car crash Saturday night in Tennessee, authorities told CBS News. She was 27 years old. 

Williams-Dunning was driving a 2007 Chevy Tahoe southbound on a highway while towing a boat in Henry County, Tennessee, the state’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security Communications Director, Wes Moster, told CBS News in an email. Williams-Dunning’s husband, 29-year-old Tyler Dunning, was a passenger in the vehicle.

The SUV crossed the dividing median of the highway and “began a rollover sequence.” The car then crossed the northbound lanes before coming to a stop on the shoulder of the road. 

Dunning was flown by air to an emergency room. His current condition was not provided by authorities. Williams-Dunning was listed as fatally injured in the preliminary case information provided.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing, authorities said. 

The pair were married in October 2015, Entertainment Tonight reports. They had two children together, son Beau, 5, and daughter Audrey, 2.

Katherine owned the small clothing brand Weston Jane, according to her Instagram bio. The company is centered around the mission of, “moms supporting moms and women supporting women,” according to its Shopify site.

Katherine’s older sister, singer Holly Audrey Williams, commented on the crash Sunday morning in an Instagram post. “I have no words,” wrote Holly, alongside a photo of her father and sister with other family members. “On Friday morning I talked the family into taking this picture and had no idea it would be our last together with my precious little sister Katie.”

She explained the family went to her great aunt’s funeral on Thursday, and now, “are faced with another one.”

“ALL we need is prayers. My daddy. My little brother. Katie’s husband,” she continued. “My niece and nephew. Her Mama. The Dunning family. All of us. So. Many. Prayers. Jesus is close. Thank you all.”

In the post, Holly said Tyler was “awake and responding,” but that they “don’t know injury extent yet.”


Samsung’s latest special edition phone is a BTS-branded Galaxy S20 Plus – Circuit Breaker

June 14th, 2020

Indigenous man fatally shot by RCMP was ‘welcomed guest,’ says N.B. pastor –

June 14th, 2020

A New Brunswick pastor says an Indigenous man shot and killed by the RCMP Friday night was a “welcomed guest” at his house the same evening.

“Rodney Levi was a welcomed guest at our home and he attended our residence where he shared a meal with my family and I on Friday evening,” Rev. Brodie MacLeod said in a statement Sunday.

“I am sharing this information only to address the inaccurate information that is circulating in the community and on social media.”

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MacLeod said 48-year-old Levi “attended Boom Road Church and was loved by our congregation.”

“This is an ongoing police investigation. We are cooperating fully and will have no further comment at this time.

“We have reached out to Chief Bill Ward to offer our sincere condolences along with any way to be of assistance to the community.”

In a Facebook post, Chief Ward of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation said the statement “means so much” to Levi’s family.

“This means so much to the family of Rodney and our community,” he wrote. “It is heartbreaking to read this but I am glad it is out there. Let’s end these negative narratives from misinformed individuals.”

READ MORE: Indigenous man fatally shot by RCMP was troubled but not violent, says chief

New Brunswick RCMP was not available for comment Sunday.

The RCMP said in a June 13 statement that it received a call Friday about an “unwanted person” at a home on Boom Road, near Metepenagiag First Nation. The RCMP claims that officers were met with a man carrying knives once they arrived on scene, and that several attempts to subdue him with a stun gun failed.

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3:31‘Disturbing’ police violence against Indigenous people will be investigated: Trudeau

‘Disturbing’ police violence against Indigenous people will be investigated: Trudeau

That’s when an RCMP officer shot Levi, who was taken to hospital. He was declared dead later that night. Friends identified him to Global News as a member of the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation.

On Saturday, Ward said Levi was attending a barbecue, where he had planned to seek guidance from a church minister.

Ward described Levi as a troubled man who was seeking help with his mental health, but the chief insisted he was not violent.

“He had his demons but he was always very friendly,” he said Saturday. “He never tried to harm anybody. … He wasn’t some monster that they’re going to try to paint him to be.”

READ MORE: Former N.B. ombudsman says police not equipped to deal with mental health issues

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Earlier on Sunday, Ward issued a statement on Facebook, saying he was responding to a request from Levi’s family. He asked the community to refrain from speaking to media.

“I, as well, will respect this request at this time,” Ward said in a brief post.

Ward took part in a live, hour-long Facebook session on Saturday and has said investigators from Quebec’s independent police watchdog agency are working with family members to determine if charges should be laid against the RCMP.

READ MORE: The RCMP was created to control Indigenous people. Can that relationship be reset?

The Quebec agency is investigating because no such unit exists in New Brunswick.

“Please respect this investigation,” Ward said in his post. “The family will reach out to the media when they are ready.”

Levi’s death is the second time a police officer has fatally shot an Indigenous person in New Brunswick in less than a month.

On June 4, Chantel Moore, 26 — originally from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in B.C. — was shot by an officer with the Edmundston Police Department.

There have been calls for a broader inquiry to examine systemic racism in the province’s policing and criminal justice systems. New Brunswick’s minister of Aboriginal affairs, Jake Stewart, has said he supports the call, saying the province has a problem with systemic racism.

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— With files by The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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