he World Health Organization has warned that a “new way of living” will be needed until a coronavirus vaccine is ready.
Takeshi Kasai, the WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific, has said that lifting lockdown measures too quickly will leave countries vulnerable to new surges of infections.
The body has urged governments to lift social distancing measures gradually, to keep the deadly bug in check.
Speaking at an online press conference, Dr Kasai added that no country is safe from a potentially overwhelming outbreak if Covid-19 is still circulating.
As a result, ordinary people’s lives and health systems will both need to adapt because of the global pandemic.
“At least until a vaccine, or a very effective treatment, is found, this process will need to become our new normal,” he said.
“Individuals and society need to be ready for a new way of living.”
Governments considering lifting lockdown measures should do so carefully and in stages, and continue to monitor infection levels, he continued.
Most experts estimate it will take 12 to 18 months to develop and mass produce a coronavirus vaccine.
However scientists worldwide are racing to develop a jab which can offer protection against the flu-like virus.
The first human trials of a jab which is being developed at the University of Oxford are set to begin next week, and researchers are hopeful that a million doses could be available by September.
Although it is too early to say if it will be safe or effective, Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the research, has previously said she is “80% confident” it will be successful.
The number of daily coronavirus deaths in the UK dropped to its lowest level in two weeks as 463 new fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours.
It is less than half of Britain’s record single-day high of 953 and it brings Britain’s death toll to 16,535 amid fresh signs the curve could be flattening and the UK could be reaching its peak.
Daily totals have dropped two days in a row but the decreases should be met with caution as many deaths won’t be counted until later due to a lag in reporting weekend deaths.
The lag results in a spike in weekday figures.
England reported an additional 429 deaths on Monday, Scotland recorded 12, Wales had another nine and Northern Ireland has announced 13 new fatalities.
BENGALURU (Reuters) – India said on Thursday videoconferencing software Zoom is “not a safe platform”, joining other countries that have expressed concern about the security of an application that has become hugely popular worldwide during the coronavirus lockdown.
U.S.-based Zoom Video Communications Inc has apologized for security flaws and says it is working to fix them. Problems have included “Zoombombing”, when uninvited users gatecrash a video conference.
“Zoom is a not a safe platform,” the Cyber Coordination Centre (CyCord) of India’s ministry of home affairs said in a 16-page advisory.
The government body also provided guidelines on how to avoid unauthorized users from carrying out malicious acts while using the tool.
A Zoom spokesman said the company was in talks with governments around the world and was “focused on providing the information they need to make informed decisions about their policies”.
The company founder and Chief Executive Officer Eric Yuan earlier this month apologized for what he called falling short of “the community’s – and our own – privacy and security expectations.” The company was dedicating resources to identify and fix the issues, he added.
Zoom has enjoyed a surge in usage since the virus outbreak began, as millions of people use it to stay connected while isolating themselves. In March it had about 200 million people using its system every day, up from 10 million last year.
“Before Zoom’s explosive growth, there were a few key cybersecurity precautions that were overlooked,” said Logan Kipp, director at cybersecurity firm SiteLock.
“From the get-go, there should have been stronger encryption methods in place and perhaps additional consideration about third-party data sharing,” he said.
Zoom’s mobile app saw a sharp surge in downloads in India as the country enforced a nationwide lockdown late last month to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Even some Indian government officials have held discussions with industry executives to discuss coronavirus relief measures via Zoom. One media report this week said the Indian government was advising its ministers not to use third-party software for sensitive meetings.
(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru and Devjyot Ghoshal in New Delhi; Editing by Aditya Kalra, Peter Graff and Anil D’Silva)
The experts on TV have tackled a question occupying the minds of many anxious Americans worrying about their jobs: when will things get back to normal? If that means returning to the carefree days of just two months ago before the shutdown, the short answer is: hopefully never.
The coronavirus isn’t going anywhere; it’s just going to mutate, which it may be doing even now. We haven’t been able to eradicate other coronaviruses, like the one responsible for the common cold, nor have we been able to eradicate the seasonal flu, which constantly mutates, requiring new vaccines. It then follows that it’s folly to think about life without the virus, there’s only life with the virus and its future mutations and all the countless other microbes and their mutations.
So we shouldn’t hope for a return to “normalcy.” The old normalcy is what necessitated shutting down the world economy because of some pesky new bug. We don’t want to return to that normalcy, do we? Instead, there’ll be a “new normal” to live with. We had to adapt to a new normal after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and we’re still being inconvenienced at airports by its new protocols. Another fairly recent new normal was that imposed by the AIDS epidemic, when we all learned that unprotected sex with strangers isn’t very bright (who knew?). The question should be: what will our newest new normal be like?
One sector of the economy that must adopt the new protocols of a new normal is aviation, especially international flights. Remember that Ebola, which makes our novel coronavirus look like the sniffles, was introduced into the U.S. via an international flight. “Patient Zero” in the AIDS epidemic was a flight attendant. And let’s not forget Richard Reid, the “Shoe Bomber,” who attempted to blow up an American Airlines jetliner en route from Paris to Miami.
On March 31, National Review ran “Coronavirus: The California Herd” by Victor Davis Hanson, whose must-read article addresses the considerable number of flights into California from China:
California… hosts dozens of daily direct flights from China in general to San Diego, SFO, LAX, and San Jose, and in particular, since 2014, several weekly nonstop flights from Wuhan. Of the nearly 15,000 passengers who were estimated to be arriving every day in the U.S. on flights from China in 2019 and 2020, the majority flew into California…
So given the state’s unprecedented direct air access to China, and given its large expatriate and tourist Chinese communities, especially in its huge denser metropolitan corridors in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, it could be that what thousands of Californians experienced as an unusually “early” and “bad” flu season might have also reflected an early coronavirus epidemic.
Hanson’s article advances the theory that because of the huge daily influx into California of Chinese nationals (all arriving by jet plane) that COVID-19 may have come to America earlier than thought, which allowed the residents of California to develop a herd immunity not seen in the rest of the country. If true, then the experts have misidentified the Patient Zero in this crisis.
On April 13, Hanson responded to critiques of his article, including one that ran at Slate. Hanson’s defense of his article may be even more interesting than the article itself, and it proves an object lesson in the need to do your homework before going after someone like VDH. (I don’t believe VDH provided a link to the Slate piece, so here it is.)
Whether this theory proves true or not, President Trump was right to halt flights from China back in January, and his ban should continue. Whether it’s international flights, like the 2017 travel ban, or foot traffic along the southern border, as in the 2018 caravans from Central America, Trump’s instincts seem pretty prescient. There were considerable cases of disease in the caravans, including tuberculosis, chickenpox, more exotic contagions, and possibly bubonic plague. Because Democrats wanted the caravans to be allowed into the country regardless of the diseases they carried, we’re lucky to have a president who is known germaphobe.
Time was when incoming peoples had to demonstrate their health with a sojourn at Ellis Island. But nowadays it’s easy to hop on a plane and fly all around the globe all the while infecting others. Just as new travel restrictions were imposed because of terrorism, we need to do the same for disease. And not only that, but terrorists can use airlines to deliberately spread disease and start pandemics. (That sobering idea, by the way, was treated in the flick 12 Monkeys.)
Since the genesis of COVID-19 seems to be interspecies infection, i.e. animal to human, the airlines need to end their abominable practice of allowing non-humans on flights, i.e. the so-called emotional support animals, like the “80-pound support pig [that] defecated in the aisle” of an American Airlines jet. It should be noted that pigs are cloven-hoofed creatures and susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which, although rare, can infect humans. Ranchers can be financially wiped out when entire herds must be destroyed due to FMD. Wouldn’t it be pathetic if unsuspecting ranchers introduced FMD to their livestock by tracking through pig feces on commercial jetliners?
For youngsters who may not know, Howard Hughes (1905-1976) back in his day was one of the world’s richest men and the head of TWA, the defunct Trans World Airlines. Hughes was an interesting dude, despite being a major germaphobe with raging OCD. Anyway, in the 2004 biopic The Aviator, actress Ava Gardner is helping Howard get presentable. After she shaves him, Howard looks down with pain and revulsion at his bathroom basin as his shaving foam and whiskers swirl down the drain, and he asks, “Does that look clean to you?” Gardner answers, “Nothing’s clean, Howard. But we do our best, right.”
Ava was right, everything is dirty. And not only that, it’s going to remain dirty. And things may get worse if we think we can return to the same normalcy that gave us this pandemic. It was a normalcy of carelessness, oblivious of the armies of invisible enemies all around us. We need to leave that normalcy behind. And we need to end this shutdown now and get back to work while we still have an economy to come back to.
Let’s see. A Democrat lawmaker wants to prosecute President Trump in the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity” for expressing hope that hydroxychloroquine might be useful in treating coronavirus patients. Journalists condemn anyone referring to the Chinese or Wuhan coronavirus as “xenophobes” and “racists,” while a New York Times headline calls it “Trumpvirus.” And Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff are launching a new congressional witch-hunt committee with subpoena power to investigate Trump for “mishandling” the coronavirus outbreak, reportedly including plans to focus on the “disproportionate” infection rate among blacks, suggesting – what else? – racism!
Meanwhile, millions of children are anxious and depressed because “climate change” is rapidly destroying their world. Epidemic levels of men are absolutely convinced they are women (and vice versa). And a political party obsessed with eliminating America’s borders, emptying prisons and dismantling law enforcement is holding a presidential primary race between a perpetually enraged old communist and a corrupt, excruciatingly senile politician who lies continually.
Beholding all this and so much more, decent normal Americans increasingly describe today’s Democratic Party – and the far-left worldview that has infected it – using terms like “madness,” “derangement” and “delusion.”
Accurate enough – but not quite satisfying, since such expressions provide no clue as to the real reasons, nor the solutions, for what has become America’s genuinely insane political and media culture.
There is, however, a much deeper, more illuminating and ultimately more useful way to look at what we cryptically call “the left.”
Leftism is a religion.
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‘Hell would be heaven for me’
The religion of leftism is seldom seriously explored, although thoughtful commentators do occasionally point out striking parallels:
* Last October on the Todd Starnes show, Pastor Robert Jeffress, head of the 13,000-member First Baptist Dallas Church and part of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, said of today’s Democrats: “Apparently the god they worship is the pagan god of the Old Testament, Moloch, who allowed for child sacrifice.” Other conservatives have pointed out the same thing – that the modern phenomenon of Americans killing their babies, one every 30 seconds, for the sake of having a “better life” is strikingly parallel to the ancient practice of sacrificing newborn children to pagan gods like Moloch in return for supposed blessings and prosperity.
* Some pundits note the cult-like behavior characterizing today’s “woke” identity politics. Tucker Carlson, during his Dec. 4 Fox News broadcast, said, “We’re in danger of becoming a socialist country run by a terrifying alliance of authoritarian Big Tech moguls and wild-eyed identity politics cult members.” Two weeks later, Carlson hit the theme again, saying: “Every society has a state religion, whether it’s acknowledged or not. In our country, our state religion is woke politics.”
* Attorney General William Barr pointed out the haunting religious dimension of leftism during a November speech to the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C.: “In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the state to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursuing a deific end.”
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* Even the great British leader Winston Churchill recognized the left’s perverse, upside-down faith, keenly describing socialism as “the gospel of envy.”
* Dr. Ben Carson, while running for president in 2016, noted that Saul Alinsky, the leftwing activist and originator of “community organizing” who profoundly influenced both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, praised Lucifer on the dedication page of his best-known book “Rules for Radicals.” Wrote Alinsky, “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.”
Lest this literary homage to Lucifer be seen as merely a whimsical one-off poetic flourish, consider that in a 1972 interview with Playboy, Alinsky insisted that given a choice of destinations for the afterlife, he would choose to go to Hell.
“Let’s say that if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell,” Alinsky told the magazine.
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“Hell would be heaven for me,” he said, since it is full of “have-nots.” “They’re my kind of people,” he added.
Lucifer? Hell? Heavy stuff – but then again, Rev. Franklin Graham during a recent interview on the Eric Metaxas radio show did characterize Democrats’ frenzied opposition to President Donald Trump as “almost demonic.”
What is religion?
But wait, some will say. Hold on. Whatever leftism is, good or bad, it is secular and largely nontheistic. So how can it then be “religious”?
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Well, what is religion?
“Religion is a belief in God,” many might suggest. But Buddhism, one of the world’s major religions with over 500 million adherents, holds that there is no creator God.
In fact, religion has no agreed-upon universal definition, nor can scholars even agree on the etymological root of the English word “religion”! Some say it derives from the Latin word religare, meaning “to bind,” which would point to a system of beliefs and practices that bind together a community of adherents. Others cite the Latin word religio, meaning “obligation, the bond between man and the gods.”
For our purposes, let’s just boil down the “religion” criteria to the four big issues put forth by prominent Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias. “There are four fundamental questions of life,” he says: “Origin, meaning, morality and destiny.” Put into question form, they are: “How did I come into being? What brings life meaning? How do I know right from wrong? Where am I headed after I die?”
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The world’s various religions all offer different answers to these big questions, and so does leftism.
For the largely secular left, Darwin answers the question of origin: We evolved from primordial slime – end of story.
What’s the meaning of life? Again, Darwin and the blind forces of evolution provide the left’s answer: There’s no meaning except that which we ourselves dream up, embrace and impose on others.
What happens after we die? The left, being largely nontheistic – in fact, Marxism and communism are officially atheistic – does not anticipate paradise in the afterlife, but rather is totally obsessed with creating paradise right now, here on earth. But since their values and morality are so far removed from reality, the “heaven on earth” they create always ends up looking a lot more like hell.
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The cult of victimhood
As far as its moral code, the left is in total rebellion against the Laws of God as laid out in the Holy Bible. This is no exaggeration. The left systematically violates the Ten Commandments all day, every day. Some examples:
* 6TH COMMANDMENT – “Thou shalt not kill”: In today’s America, more than 3,000 innocent babies each day are slain in their mothers’ wombs, thanks to the legalization of abortion which was entirely the work of the left.
* 7TH COMMANDMENT – “Thou shalt not commit adultery”: The ever-metastasizing “sexual revolution” that started in the 1960s, including the Pandora’s Box of tragedies and disasters it unleashed is, once again, entirely the work of the left.
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* 8TH COMMANDMENT – “Thou shalt not steal”: Whether one calls it “socialism,” “wealth redistribution,” “free healthcare,” “free college tuition,” “guaranteed annual income” or something else, it amounts to stealing from one group and giving the spoils to another – in exchange for absolute power over everyone.
* 9TH COMMANDMENT – “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”: The left violates this commandment continually with its nonstop accusing, denigrating, defaming, demonizing, lying about, boycotting and suing conservatives, Christians, prolife activists and others who oppose their suicidal policies.
* 10TH COMMANDMENT – “Thou shalt not covet”: What we euphemistically call “socialism” is entirely dependent on encouraging, promoting and enlarging envy and covetousness among the population. Hating “the rich” is literally the basis of leftwing revolutions. (Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly insisted that “billionaires should not exist.”)
Nevertheless, despite the grossly sinful behaviors justified, encouraged and blessed by the high priests of the religion of leftism, there remains an overwhelming need among the faithful to feel virtuous and, indeed, morally superior to everyone else. How is this accomplished?
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Sincere Christians’ desire for restored innocence, or redemption, from a life of sin and brokenness is fulfilled by being “grafted in to the true vine” of Christ through repentance and faith, made possible by His sacrificial death on the cross – the ultimate manifestation of God’s love for wayward humanity.
But for today’s left, redemption is obtained by being initiated into the cult of victimhood.
That’s right. Being a victim is the closest thing the left has to innocence.
In his article “‘Woke’ is the new ‘saved,’” author John Zmirak, senior editor of The Stream, explores the religious dimension of the almost incomprehensibly bizarre cult of “woke politics”:
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There’s a reason why so many college students don’t care about “free expression,” “open debate” and rational discussion. Not when the views presented offend them. For centuries, we thought of most colleges – apart maybe from seminaries – as places where students would have to encounter such views. The liberal arts, which depend on open debate and dispute, were born in medieval universities.
But thanks to “a new gospel,” writes Zmirak, “nationwide, with some exceptions, students, professors, and administrators have turned their backs on this tradition. The reason?”
There’s a new religion on campus, he says, explaining how “the social justice movement on campus does much of the work that a real religion would do.”
Here, he says, is how this new salvation process works:
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By listening to professors, or following peer pressure, a student discovers that the world is deeply wrong. Permeated by evil. Its evil is inequality. And that evil has an author: straight white males.
Realizing the depth and extent of this all-pervading evil comes as a kind of conversion. One wakes up. Then one is “woke.” That’s SJW-speak for “saved.” Hence the first moment of faith. “I once was lost but now am found. Was blind but now I see.”
In hopes of “joining the righteous,” says Zmirak, students learn to cherish victimhood as the highest virtue in all of life:
“If a student belongs to any other group but straight white males, then she is in luck: She’s certified as a victim,” he writes. “She deserves special treatment from everyone from college deans to government bureaucrats. Even better, she should feel virtuous for wallowing in anger and resentment. No matter if she’s Malia Obama. She can righteously seethe with rage at jobless white coal miners, or homeless white veterans. Her sense of victimhood gives her the ‘blessed assurance’ that she is part of the Elect.
“This creed offers salvation even to the worst of sinners, straight white males. The price is steep: a life of self-denial and penance. But for those who walk this path, rewards await. You can attain justification. Not by your own efforts – but by the righteousness that suffering, innocent victims (non-straights, non-whites, non-males) can impute to you. As an ‘ally’ of the less privileged, you earn the same right to despise the mass of oppressors.”
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“And,” concludes Zmirak, “feminists will date you, for whatever that’s worth.”
Ironically, centuries ago America’s colleges, starting with Harvard University in 1636, were built for the explicit purpose of propagating the Christian faith across America. Today, the same colleges and universities – which author and radio host Dennis Prager refers to as “leftwing seminaries” – are every bit as fervently committed to propagating the religion of leftism.
How immorality gives birth to false religion
Finally, to understand this strange religion at its core, it’s necessary to confront the actual reasons for the far left’s deranged thinking, values and behavior.
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Remember, in the name of creating paradise on earth, leftwing idealists, who as a rule see themselves as much more moral and virtuous than the rest of mankind, were directly responsible for the deaths of well over 100 million men, women and children during the last century, the bloodiest in human history.
To grasp the root spiritual cause of such evil and the ideology promoting it, consider the stark biblical warning offered by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1. Essentially he says that human beings sometimes rebel against God and His Laws so deeply, stubbornly and persistently that eventually God just gets out of the way and “gives them over” to depraved thinking and behavior: “God gave them over to a reprobate mind … being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” You get the idea.
According to the Bible, the end result of man’s total rebellion – just as it was for Lucifer’s before him – is hell.
Unlike animals, humans are spiritual creatures endowed with a God-given recognition of right and wrong called “conscience” (con-science, literally “with knowing”). True religion is in large measure concerned with resolving and eliminating the guilt of sin and reconciling man with God. Hence the animal sacrifices of the ancient Israelites throughout the Old Testament era, culminating in the final sacrifice of “the Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ, after which the system of animal sacrifice mysteriously ended.
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The problem is that even while ignoring or overriding their conscience to get what they want, most people still want to see themselves as righteous and moral. Thus their depraved thinking and acting often evolve a justifying philosophy – an insane alternative reality – that serves as their religion, a “theology” that can explain, essentially, why evil is good and good is evil.
The left’s ‘New Heaven and New Earth’
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ will one day return to Earth and rule the entire world. Islam, which mimics so much of Christianity and Judaism, has its own version of an end-times savior who will rule the world, the Mahdi. It seems that the notion of enlightened global government ruled by God’s chosen prince is somehow in our spiritual DNA.
But for the left, the ultimate goal is globalism – “climate change” and the “Green New Deal” being just the most recent tools intended to help them attain that end. This is the left’s ultimate aspiration: global socialism ruled by them, pathetically mimicking and mocking the genuine heaven on earth God promises to one day establish.
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Global government ruled by anyone other than God’s Son is dangerous, since, as we are reminded daily, with mortal man “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That’s why the U.S. Constitution wisely apportions power among three co-equal branches of the federal government, and requires further that power be shared with the various state governments – all an acknowledgment of the inherent flaws of man, which the left denies.
And that’s why hardcore leftists, some of the most deranged and dangerous people on earth, want to rule the entire world, something only God – or for a short time, Lucifer – can do.
A second potential COVID-19 vaccine has entered Phase 1 clinical human testing after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted an application from Inovio Pharmaceuticals.
“Inovio plans to inject its first volunteer test subject with the INO-4800 DNA vaccine candidate it has developed, following promising results from preclinical studies performed on animals that did indicate increased immune response,” Tech Crunch reported Monday.
“This is a significant step forward in the global fight against COVID-19,” Dr. J. Joseph Kim, INOVIO’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
“Without a new safe and effective vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue to threaten lives and livelihoods. It also demonstrates the power of our DNA medicines platform to rapidly develop and advance a vaccine for COVID-19 into Phase 1 clinical testing. Our dedicated team of staff, partners and funders have been mobilized since the genetic sequence of the virus became available in early January and continues to work around the clock to ensure that we are rapidly advancing INO-4800 through this Phase 1 study towards planned efficacy trials.”
The Phase 1 study of INO-4800 will enroll up to 40 healthy adult volunteers in Philadelphia, PA (at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania) and Kansas City, MO (at the Center for Pharmaceutical Research), where screening of potential participants has already begun. Study supplies of INO-4800 arrived at the sites last week. Each participant will receive two doses of INO-4800 four weeks apart, and the initial immune responses and safety data from the study are expected by late summer. Preclinical data, which have been shared with global regulatory authorities and submitted as part of the IND, have shown promising immune response results across multiple animal models. Additional preclinical trials, including challenge studies, will continue in parallel with the Phase 1 clinical trial.
Tech Crunch said Inovio was able to produce thousands of doses “in part thanks to backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as funding from other nonprofits and organizations.”
The company says it should be able to produce as much as one million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year if the trials are successful. The doses would be ready for “potential emergency use pending authorization,” Tech Crunch reports.
The first potential vaccine began human testing in mid-March. The National Institutes of Health is funding that trial, which is taking place in Seattle at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. That testing began with 45 young, healthy volunteers who have been injected with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc.
Meanwhile, a first set of tests in mice of a potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19 has shown it can spur the animals’ immune systems to produce antibodies against the coronavirus.
The vaccine is delivered via a fingertip-sized, Band-Aid-like patch made of 400 tiny needles that scratch the skin. The researchers who are developing the vaccine say the immune system reacts more readily to irritations of the skin, which means doing so could trigger it to target the coronavirus.
When tested on mice, they developed antibodies to fight the coronavirus within two weeks.
Authorities in Paris have announced they will ban outdoor exercise between the hours of 10am and 7pm as the coronavirus lockdown tightens.
“All physical exercise – running, walking – will be banned in Paris between 10am and 7pm from tomorrow (Wed April 8) as part of ever stricter Coronavirus lockdown, by order Paris Police Prefecture & city council,” tweets Paris-based journalist Peter Allen.
“Aim is to keep crowds down. What about pre-10am & post-7pm crowds?” he asks.
All physical exercise – running, walking – will be banned in Paris between 10am and 7pm from tomorrow (Wed April 8) as part of ever stricter Coronavirus lockdown, by order Paris Police Prefecture & city council…Aim is to keep crowds down. What about pre-10am & post-7pm crowds?
Indeed, respondents questioned whether the new rule would just create a bottleneck of joggers and cyclists in the early and later hours, making social distancing even harder.
Others pointed out that the rules are designed to prevent people congregating in parks to sunbathe, something that has been a big issue in other cities such as London, and will also protect elderly people doing early morning grocery shopping.
Earlier today, France reported 833 new coronavirus deaths over the previous 24 hour period, the highest daily total since the outbreak began.
France, which forces its citizens to carry papers explaining why they are outside, is imposing further lockdown measures despite other European countries like Austria beginning to relax them.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to begin to re-open the economy starting next week, starting with shops and then other industries, including pubs and restaurants which will open by the end of next month.
If you want people to follow social distancing guidelines, you probably shouldn’t make your intervention in the matter seem like something out of a creepy dystopian movie.
This was the mistake made by a group describing itself as the Anti-COVID-19 Volunteer Drone Task Force. It’s not just that the group named itself as if it were a paragovernmental organization in the kind of Ridley Scott-wannabe movie where the global emperor has purplish, powdery skin and questionable facial prosthetics.
Instead, you should check out where they decided to deploy the drone over a Manhattan park on Saturday — and what was blaring out of its speaker.
“This is the Anti-COVID-19 Volunteer Drone Task Force,” the voice out of the speaker tells New Yorkers. “Please maintain a social distance of at least six feet. Again, please maintain social distancing. Please help stop the spread of this virus. Reduce the death toll and save lives. For your own safety and your families’ safety, please maintain social distancing. Thank you for your cooperation. We are all in this together.”
“We are all in this together.” Just read that line to yourself. It doesn’t even rise to the level of Orwellian; it’s not subtle enough. This is straight out of the kind of popcorn muncher where Tom Cruise takes out a futuristic gun, shoots the drone and runs toward his futuristic police car to track down the evil mastermind behind this lockdown.
This is Manhattan, though, so almost no one has a gun (legally) and there’s no mastermind behind this lockdown, just a cruel virus.
Before you fire up the letters (you know who you are), let me be blunt: The people in the park are idiots. Unless this is your shortcut to the pharmacy — and this appears to be the riverwalk near the Williamsburg Bridge, which is a shortcut to absolutely nowhere New Yorkers need to be — crowding the edge of the East River in the tightly packed epicenter of the coronavirus takes a kind of cavalier brainlessness.
However, if this was an earnest attempt at enforcing social distancing, the tin-eared nature of it all was self-defeating.
At least the drone wasn’t from the New York Police Department; when contacted by The Hill, the NYPD confirmed it wasn’t theirs and reminded everyone that drones are actually banned in New York City except for a small number of specific areas.
One of them is not along the banks of the East River, you might not be surprised to know, which is why the Federal Aviation Administration is now investigating the incident. And one would assume that even in the areas drones can fly, there might be some problem if the operator decided to use it like this.Just to be clear, this is what Chinese officials think makes them look good.
Now, it’s worth noting there’s no Anti-COVID-19 Volunteer Drone Task Force to be found out there, and none has come forward. That means this could be just a brilliant piece of performance art. If so, um, this would have been semi-brilliant any other time, but this would have been the week to read the room — especially when the room is pretty much all of Manhattan, an obscenely bleak place to be right now.
And there’s another problem, namely when it comes to life imitating art. This isn’t just Beijing considering deploying drones like these.
In the U.K., for instance, authorities have been using drones for coronavirus-related purposes that include shaming people who don’t follow the stay-at-home guidance in place there:
Despite posts yesterday highlighting issues of people still visiting the #PeakDistrict despite government guidance, the message is still not getting through. @DerPolDroneUnit have been out at beauty spots across the county, and this footage was captured at #CurbarEdge last night.
In a creepy coincidence, this video also ends with “We are all in this together.”
“We have not traditionally mounted speakers to our drones, but … if we need to cover a large area to get an announcement out, or if there were a crowd somewhere that we needed to disperse, we could do it without getting police officers involved,” Chula Vista Police Capt. Vern Sallee told the Washington Examiner.
Chula Vista Police issued a correction on the matter in all due haste.
“The department has not changed how it has used drones during this emergency, but staff are considering how drones may improve communication with the public under certain limited circumstances,” the police department said in a Facebook post March 25.
“Specifically, the department is considering one strategy to use drone mounted speakers to communicate and reach vulnerable populations in inaccessible areas of the city, like large urban canyons with homeless encampments,” it said. “Unsheltered persons are particularly vulnerable to the current pandemic and their safety and welfare is important to stopping the spread of the disease. Left without pro-active communication and outreach, COVID-19 could spread in these populations and increase illness throughout our community.”
However, its “correction” was more of a clarification, the kind of thing you put out when a story is mostly true in its particulars but you don’t like the way those particulars have been reported.
“While the quotes in the body of the original story were accurate, some lacked context and the story failed to address all aspects of the police department’s drone response strategy,” the Facebook post read. “Unfortunately, the story has been picked up by several other media outlets and it has been sensationalized and given inaccurate headlines which serve only to cause public misunderstanding of the positive steps our organization is taking to protect Chula Vista.”
The problem is that Chula Vista won’t be alone soon. One drone company CEO said he was “working like crazy” to equip law enforcement with drones.
“What we saw in China, and what we’re probably going to see around the world, is using drones with cameras and loudspeakers to fly around to see if people are gathering where they shouldn’t be, and telling them to go home,” Spencer Gore of U.S.-based drone firm Impossible Aerospace told the Examiner.
“It seems a little Orwellian, but this could save lives.”
I’d like to deconstruct that sentence.
First, “It seems a little Orwellian …” No, it’s Orwellian.
This is the police telling people what they should do, using a small, remotely controlled aircraft that can park itself mere feet above peoples’ heads, the loudspeaker of officialdom barking at them as they’re recorded on camera.
I understand this guy is counting on police drone deployment being a future revenue stream, but you might as well admit what your product is at this point. It’s Big Brother-ish. Maybe mild Big Brother-ish, but there’s more than a patina of Big Brother on any drone designed to bore messages into the heads of passing civilians.
And to the second part: “… but this could save lives.” It could. It could also, as it did here, create fear and contempt for police trying to enforce even the most common-sense laws and regulations.
Yes, these people were stupid, especially in light of the fact New York City is the center of the coronavirus maelstrom. That doesn’t mean they should be targeted by a volunteer drone force (or whatever).
Even if it was a police drone, this footage would be wildly unsettling — not exactly what people need at the moment.
Any jurisdiction that chooses to go down this road richly deserves the opprobrium it will get.
Soccer star Kyle Walker has apologized for his alleged actions during lockdown in England.
According to the Sun, the Manchester City soccer player hosted a party with two escorts during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at the end of March. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)
The alleged party took place one day before he filmed a PSA urging people to stay home and save lives.
The Sun reported that the escorts were invited over for a “three-hour sex session” during the ongoing crisis. Now, the team is not happy, and he’s had to apologize.
According to TMZ, the team released a statement, and said in part, “Footballers are global role models, and our staff and players have been working to support the incredible efforts of the NHS and other key workers in fighting the effects of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, in any way we can. Kyle’s actions in this matter have directly contravened these efforts.”
Walker also issued an apology of his own and said in part, “My actions in this matter are in direct contrast to what I should have been doing regarding the lockdown. And I want to re-iterate the message: Stay home, stay safe.”
If you’re going to break the rules while in coronavirus quarantine, you might as well do it by swinging for the fence.
Reportedly inviting over a pair of escorts for a “three-hour sex session” is the definition of swinging for the fence.
How could you even be made at the man? We’re going into lockdown until further notice. You have to do what you have to do!
I might have finally found the one soccer player in the world who I actually don’t mind that much. Anybody who gives coronavirus the middle finger by throwing a party with escorts is okay in my book.
Was it smart? No, but most entertaining stuff never is. He apologized, and it’s time to move on. He’s probably also a legend in his locker room, but that’s a conversation for a different time.
Amidst the backdrop of the broadening coronavirus pandemic, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle have confirmed their plans to launch a wide-ranging non-profit organisation named Archewell, reports on Tuesday said.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who formally stepped down as senior members of the British royal family at the end of last month, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper they were establishing the organisation in the United States, where they have now made their home in Malibu.
The charitable organisation will include emotional support groups, a multimedia educational empire and a wellbeing website among other things, although full details are not fully known.
They also revealed the Greek word in the project, Arche – meaning source of action – was the inspiration behind the name of their son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
The couple said they wanted “to do something of meaning, to do something that matters” and to that end the couple filed paperwork for their new venture in the U.S. last month, the Telegraph said.
They have delayed releasing full details about it because of the coronavirus pandemic and will make an announcement “when the time is right”, they told the paper.
Their proposals are for “a vast and ambitious array of projects” under the name Archewell to replace their previous “Sussex Royal” brand, it added.
In response to the Telegraph, the duke and duchess said they were focusing their efforts on the coronavirus pandemic but felt “compelled” to reveal details of the venture.
“Like you, our focus is on supporting efforts to tackle the global Covid-19 pandemic but faced with this information coming to light, we felt compelled to share the story of how this came to be,” the couple said.
“Before SussexRoyal, came the idea of Arche – the Greek word meaning source of action. We connected to this concept for the charitable organisation we hoped to build one day, and it became the inspiration for our son’s name. To do something of meaning, to do something that matters.
“Archewell is a name that combines an ancient word for strength and action, and another that evokes the deep resources we each must draw upon. We look forward to launching Archewell when the time is right.”
The commanding officer who sounded the alarm over confirmed cases of COVID-19 on a US Naval vessel, has been relieved of duty.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced late last week that the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, now docked in Guam, was relieved “at my direction.”
Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, the carrier’s commander, was sacked after he was accused of leaking a letter to the media that went “outside the chain of command” pleading for help after more than 100 sailors on board tested positive for the coronavirus, and nearly 100 others are suspected of contracting the virus.
Modly said, “This decision is not one of retribution.” In his complete statement to the press, Modly said, “I did not come to this decision lightly. I have no doubt in my mind [Captain] Crozier did what he thought was in the best interest [of] the safety and well-being of his crew. Unfortunately, he did the opposite.”
Modly continued, “It unnecessarily raised alarms with the families of our sailors and Marines with no plan to address those concerns. It raised concerns about the operational security and operational capability of that ship that could have emboldened our adversaries to seek advantage and it undermined the chain of command.”
Modly said Crozier was not out of line for raising concerns, but “it was the way in which he did it,” saying that it “created panic on the ship” and “misrepresented the facts,” adding that Americans back home were “panicked.”
Modly said that more than 100 sailors have tested positive and there will be more, but said all the cases are “mild.” The Acting Secretary said Crozier created a panic by suggesting as many as “50 sailors could die.”
“It raised alarm bells unnecessarily,” he told the press. Modly said the commanding officer could have reached out to him directly, but didn’t. He was also not happy the letter was sent out over an email server that is “not secure.”
Modly said he thought the skipper became “overwhelmed” at the situation and acted unprofessionally and violated the “sacred trust” given to all commanding officers in the Navy.
“It demonstrated poor judgement in the middle of a crisis,” Modly said.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier, commissioned in the 1980s.
The ship, with a crew of nearly 5,000, is docked in Guam, and the Navy has said as many as 3,000 sailors had been taken off the ship and quarantined by Friday. More than 100 sailors on the ship have tested positive for the virus, but none are hospitalized at this point.
The ousted commander of the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt may face further disciplinary action, the acting Navy secretary said.
“He’ll get reassigned; he’s not thrown out of the Navy.”
Modly said everyone, including the aircraft carrier commander, deserves a chance at “redemption.”
Crozier’s final punishment will be decided following an investigation into the incident.
“I’m not going to direct them to do anything (other) than to investigate the facts to the best of their ability. I cannot exercise undue command influence over that investigation,” Modly said.
Over the weekend it was announced that Captain Crozier has tested positive for COVID-19.