Immune system 'remembers' coronavirus for at least 6 months: study - CGTN
People may be able to fight off reinfection for at least six months after they recover from COVID-19 thanks to cells that can "remember" the virus, according to research published Monday.
People may be able to fight off reinfection for at least six months after they recover from COVID-19 thanks to cells that can "remember" the virus, according to research published Monday. Researchers in the United States and Switzerland studied dozens of people who had recovered from COVID-19 and found that while their antibodies may fade over time, they maintained levels of specific memory B cells. These cells can remember the pathogen and can, if faced with reinfection, prompt the immune system to reinitiate the production of virus-fighting antibodies. "Memory responses are responsible for protection from reinfection and are essential for effective vaccination," concluded the study published in the journal Nature. "The observation that memory B cell responses do not decay after 6.2 months, but instead continue to evolve, is strongly suggestive that individuals who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 could mount a rapid and effective response to the virus upon re-exposure." The authors assessed 87 people with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis at a little over one month and six months after infection. While they found that virus-neutralizing antibody activity decreased with time, the number of memory B cells remained unchanged. Researchers said their study indicated that the memory B cell response against the coronavirus evolves during the six months after infection in the presence of viral remnant proteins in the body enabling the cells to produce more potent antibodies. How long people can fight off reinfection to the new coronavirus and what immune process is involved are key to predicting the dynamics of the pandemic. Previous research has caused concern by showing that neutralizing antibodies can decline quickly after infection with SARS-CoV-2. But more recent studies have highlighted the role of other parts of the immune system in longer-term immunity. One paper published in the journal Science this month suggested that nearly all major parts of the immune system that can learn to recognize and repel a new pathogen could continue to respond to the virus for at least eight months. This included protein spike specific memory B cells, which the researchers found actually increased in the blood six months after infection. The paper was based on analyses of blood samples from 188 COVID-19 patients.
Brazil approves emergency use of China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines - CGTN
Brazils (National Health Surveillance Agency) has approved the emergency use of coronavirus vaccines developed by Chinese drug maker Sinovac Biotech. The approval comes as the country seeks to bolster its efforts to stop the spread of the virus. Brazil's 8,455,059 COVID-19 infections are the third highest globally, only shadowed by tallies registered by the United States and India. Its 209,296 virus-related fatalities are the second-highest after the US' 396,549, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
World's oceans continue to warm, despite reduced carbon emissions - CGTN
Despite reductions in global carbon emissions due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the world's oceans in 2020 were the warmest in recorded history, according to a new study.
Despite reductions in global carbon emissions due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the world's oceans in 2020 were the warmest in recorded history, according to a new study. Published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences earlier this week, the study was conducted by 20 scientists from 13 institutes in China, the United States and Italy. Compared with 2019, the upper 2,000 meters of the Earth's oceans have absorbed a greater amount of heat, enough to boil 1.3 billion kettles, each containing 1.5 liters of water. The increase in heat within the oceans is responsible for the increasing trend of record-breaking global ocean temperatures, said the study. Cheng Lijing, lead author of the study and researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said ocean heating is a key indicator for quantifying climate change, since more than 90 percent of global heat ends up in the oceans. "However, due to the ocean's delayed response to global warming, the trend of ocean warming will persist for decades at least," said Cheng, explaining that the world's ocean temperatures kept rising last year, despite reports that global carbon emissions fell as people stayed indoors due to COVID-19 restrictions. The study also found that over the past eight decades, the world's oceans have been warmer in each decade than in the previous one. The effects of ocean warming manifest in the form of more typhoons, hurricanes and extreme rainfall. In addition to ocean temperatures, researchers involved in the study calculated the salinity of ocean water. They found that areas of high salinity had increased in salinity, whereas the opposite was true for areas of lower salinity. Researchers also shared data recorded by China's IAP and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the study. Cheng called for more global research efforts on the subject of ocean warming. "Any activities or agreements to address global warming must be coupled with the understanding that the oceans have already absorbed an immense amount of heat and will continue to absorb excess energy in the Earth's system." (Cover image via CFP) (If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])
Mini robot fish swim in schools, just like the real thing - CGTN
Inspired by how schools of fish intuitively synchronize their movements, Harvard scientists have engineered miniature underwater robots capable of forming autonomous swarms.
Inspired by how schools of fish intuitively synchronize their movements, Harvard scientists have engineered miniature underwater robots capable of forming autonomous swarms. Each robotic fish, known as a "Bluebot," is equipped with cameras and blue LED lights that sense the direction and distance of others inside water tanks. They swim using flapping fins rather than propellers, which improves their efficiency and maneuverability compared to standard underwater drones. "It's definitely useful for future applications, for example, a search mission in the open ocean where you want to find people in distress and rescue them quickly," said Florian Berlinger, the lead author of a paper about the research that appeared in Science Robotics on Wednesday. Other applications could include environmental monitoring or inspecting infrastructure. Existing underwater multi-robot systems rely on individual robots communicating with each other over radio and transmitting their GPS positions. Robotic fish. /CFP The new system moves closer to mimicking the natural behavior of fish, which show complex, coordinated behavior without following a leader. The 3D printed robots are about 10 centimeters (4 inches) long, and their design was partly inspired by blue tang fish that are native to the coral reefs of the Indo-Pacific. The robots use their camera "eyes" to detect other robots in their peripheral vision, then engage in self-organizing behavior, which include flashing their lights simultaneously, arranging themselves in a circle, and gathering around a target. Berlinger described a test in which the robots were spread out across a water tank to seek out a light source. When one of the robots found the light, it sent out a signal to the others to gather around, in a demonstration of a search-and-rescue mission. "Other researchers have reached out to me already to use my Bluebots as fish surrogates for biological studies on fish swimming and schooling," said Berlinger, explaining that the robot collectives can help us learn more about collective intelligence in nature. He hopes to improve the design so that it doesn't require LEDs and can be used outside laboratory settings such as in coral reefs. (Video via AFP. Cover image via CFP) (If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])
China's Chang'e-4 probe enters 26th lunar day - CGTN
The lander and the rover of China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe have resumed work for the 26th lunar day on the far side of the Moon, said the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration on Friday.
The lander and the rover of China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe have resumed work for the 26th lunar day on the far side of the Moon, said the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration on Friday. The lander was awakened at 3:13 a.m. Beijing time on Friday after the Yutu-2 rover woke up at 10:29 a.m. on Thursday. A lunar day equals about 14 days on Earth, and a lunar night is of the same length. The solar-powered probe switches to dormant mode during the lunar night. The two have survived 736 Earth days, setting records for probes working on the far side of the Moon. During this lunar-day period, the rover will move northwest toward the basalt area or the impact craters with high reflectivity. Multiple tasks will be carried out as planned, including taking panoramic photos. The infrared imaging spectrometer, neutral atom detector, and lunar radar onboard the rover will continue to carry out scientific explorations that will later be analyzed. (With input from Xinhua News Agency)
Should I worry about an asteroid hitting Earth? - CGTN
CGTN Europe speaks to Doug Millard at the Science Museum in London to find out whether we should be worried about an asteroid hitting Earth.
Every so often there are reports that an asteroid is passing close to Earth, with the most recent story claiming one the size of the Eiffel Tower will be zooming past our planet. Dinosaurs also famously became extinct after an asteroid collided with our planet 66 million years ago. But what is the likelihood of it happening again? To answer this question, CGTN Europe spoke to Doug Millard, the space curator at the Science Museum in London. What is an asteroid? According to Millard's description, an asteroid is "essentially a rock ... orbiting the sun a little bit further out than we are." "It may be fairly small, anything from a meter upwards, or it may be very big," he says, adding that the biggest asteroid is "about the size of the UK." These minor planets, which can also be referred to as planetoids, are normally found in the inner solar system. The majority of asteroids at least the ones we know about are located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and the first one to be known to humans, Ceres, was originally considered to be a new planet. The discovery of other similar objects and the equipment of the time then led to the objects appearing like stars but without an orbital disk. Astronomer William Herschel then suggested the term asteroid, which means star or star-shaped in Greek and star or planet in ancient Greek. A NASA photo taken from the Dawn spacecraft of Ceres, a dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. /AP/NASA A NASA photo taken from the Dawn spacecraft of Ceres, a dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. /AP/NASA What is the difference between an asteroid and a comet? "They have different compositions," Millard explains, adding that there are "millions and millions" of both asteroids and comets. Asteroids form closer to the sun, where it is far too hot for ice to remain solid. Due to this, as Millard says, comets are essentially "dirty snowballs" which are "made of ice and dirt" unlike asteroids, which are composed of metals and rocky material. Millard also explains that comets are a lot further out, only paying occasional visits to Earth. When they are near the sun, they also sprout tails composed of vapor from the comet's surface melting. Despite such differences, one similarity between the two is that both were formed during the earliest history of the solar system, which is approximately 4.5 billion years ago. The comet Neowise, which comes close to Earth every 5,000 to 7,000 years, can be seen with the naked eye in the morning sky over a field in Petersdorf, Germany. /Patrick Pleul/DPA/AP The comet Neowise, which comes close to Earth every 5,000 to 7,000 years, can be seen with the naked eye in the morning sky over a field in Petersdorf, Germany. /Patrick Pleul/DPA/AP When did an asteroid last hit Earth? "Earth is very old and during its lifetime, it has been hit by many asteroids," says Millard, adding that the most famous asteroid collision with Earth is of course that which led to the extinction of dinosaurs and nearly all other living beings on Earth at the time. When the asteroid, which was bigger than Mount Everest, hit our planet nearly 66 million years ago, fire rained from the sky and the ground shook far worse than any other modern earthquake. The asteroid impact was so great that it triggered a chain of natural disasters, and as the planetoid landed in water, tsunamis developed, which traveled thousands of miles in multiple directions. The explosive blasts that resulted from this sequence of events would have destroyed everything in their path for hundreds of miles. The famous asteroid collision with Earth is sometimes referred to as 'Dinosaur Doomsday.' /Susan Montoya Bryan/AP The famous asteroid collision with Earth is sometimes referred to as 'Dinosaur Doomsday.' /Susan Montoya Bryan/AP The impact of the collision with Earth also caused volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and worst of all, deadly dust particles to form. These shot into the air and became red hot when falling back down to the Earth's surface. Such dust falling from the sky not only led to forest fires across the globe but the sheer quantity of particles in the atmosphere meant that the Sun was blocked for years, killing plants and animals reliant on it. Unfortunately for dinosaurs, such a sequence of events was hard to avoid, just like the collision. Millard eases fears by saying that if an asteroid were to be on course to hit Earth today, "we would have some warning and we would know what we had to do about it, which would probably involve sending a spacecraft just to nudge it away from hitting Earth," which is commonly referred to as "asteroid impact avoidance." CLICK: CONTESTED WATERS COULD STILL HURT UK/EU RELATIONS How often do asteroids pass our planet? According to Millard, asteroids pass by Earth relatively rarely and even if they do, it's important to remember the distance and scale of such encounters, with a "near pass" still being "quite a long way away." Asteroids with a 1km diameter are likely to hit Earth every 500,000 years. With its 7km diameter, the Apollo asteroid is the largest known potentially hazardous object, despite its faint magnitude. Such large collisions happen once every 20 million years. Putting fears to rest once again, Millard shares some good news. "There are several organizations around the world that track asteroids and the ones we're particularly interested in are called near-Earth objects (NEOs) ... those are the ones, which perhaps might come a little bit too close to Earth. "By tracking them, we can have some warning and then hopefully do something about it." An image from NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies shows the path of asteroid 2020 SW as it safely passes Earth 22,000 miles above the Equator. /NASA/AP An image from NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies shows the path of asteroid 2020 SW as it safely passes Earth 22,000 miles above the Equator. /NASA/AP Should we worry about an asteroid hitting Earth? Millard says: "There's no point in worrying about these sorts of events. We do have the technologies now to hopefully do something about any asteroid that might be getting a little bit too close to Earth." He emphasizes that, before our imaginations run away with us, we need to remember the time frames involved and the unlikelihood of the event before fearing a repeat of events when dinosaurs walked the planet. "The Earth has been here for billions of years... I think we can rest easy for the time being." Video editor: Paula Harvey
Fashion designer Pierre Cardin buried in Paris - CGTN
French fashion designer Pierre Cardin, who died earlier this week at the age of 98, was laid to rest on Saturday in a private ceremony at Paris's Montmartre Cemetery, his family told AFP. In accordance with his wishes, Cardin was buried in a black coffin with a sword he had designed, the handle intertwined with a thimble, the eye of a needle and a spool of thread while the blade resembled a pair of scissors. Famed for his futuristic designs, Cardin won renown in postwar Europe and turned his name into a money-spinning global brand. He was laid to rest in a vault with his former companion and partner Andre Oliver, who died in 1993. Under a canopy of green canvas, Cardin's favorite color, family and friends gathered before the burial for a blessing and tributes. The couturier, who was born into a low-income family in northern Italy but became a France-based fashion superstar, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Neuilly in the west of Paris. After setting up his own fashion label in 1950, he quickly established a name as an innovator, creating the now legendary bubble dress in 1954. His 1964 "Space Age" collection remains a landmark in fashion history. A memorial service will be held in Paris at the end of January. Related: Designer Pierre Cardin, who popularized high fashion, dies
Live: First meteor shower of 2021 – the Quadrantid meteor shower creates dazzling night sky - CGTN
The first spectacular meteor shower of 2021, the Quadrantid meteor shower, is expected to streak across the sky tonight. Join CGTN and make your wishes on these stars fly by.
The first spectacular meteor shower of 2021, the Quadrantid meteor shower, streaks across the sky tonight, as many as 110 meteors per hour. It is one of the three major meteor showers in the northern hemisphere, together with the Perseid meteor shower in August and the Geminid meteor shower in December. Join CGTN to watch this spectacle and make a wish for the new year on these shooting stars.
Answers for China's first approved COVID-19 vaccine - CGTN
Here are some answers you might want to know about the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine.
China's approval of its first COVID-19 vaccine for public use on December 30 was good news to usher in the New Year. But some questions have been raised both within and outside China, and here are some of the most common ones: 1. Where is the vaccine from? The COVID-19 vaccine was developed by an affiliate of pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm and acquired a conditional market authorization from China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA). It is China's first COVID-19 vaccine approved for general public use. 2. What does conditional authorization mean? A conditional authorization is used when there's no available effective treatment for a life-threatening disease, or when there is incomplete clinical data or registration details. This is not unusual. The HPV vaccine in China was also granted conditional authorization, which has been applied in China for just over two years. Vaccines still need to have certain clinical research results and check many boxes to be given conditional approval for the public use. They are also keenly watched and followed up with clinical trial data and post research before they are fully authorized. 3. What's the advantage this vaccine over existing ones? Sinopharm's vaccine is inactive, which means it doesn't require extreme freezing, making storage and distribution to rural areas and developing countries easier. The current Moderna's and Pfizer-BioNTech's shots are both mRNA vaccines, which need to be kept in minus 20 Celsius and minus 70 Celsius respectively. 4. Is this vaccine safe? Based on the current data available, the vaccine is safe. China gave emergency use approval for Sinopharm's vaccines in July, and as of the end of November 2020, over 450 million vaccine doses had been administered with no severe side effects reported, according to Zeng Yixin, deputy director of the National Health Commission, at a press conference on December 31. Over 60,000 people with 125 nationalities in many countries have taken the shots in Phase-3 clinical trials, according to Wu Yongling, president of China National Biotec Group, affiliated with Sinopharm. 5. What do efficacy and effectiveness mean? The approved inactivated vaccine has shown 79.34-percent efficacy against COVID-19, according to the interim results of the phase-3 clinical trials. It means people injected with the vaccine are 80 percent protected from getting infected, compared with those who are completely vulnerable without the vaccine. Effectiveness, on the other hand, takes into account real-world circumstances like how quickly the virus spreads, distinct immune system responses of individuals, and if people have been previously exposed to the virus. The effectiveness is generally lower than the efficacy. 6. Am I protected by the vaccine for good after inoculation? No, a good sense of protection is still needed. The interim results of the phase-3 clinical trials of the vaccine show a 79.34-percent efficacy, but is not foolproof. Even after being inoculated, people should still continue wearing masks in crowded places, wash hands regularly, and cover a sneeze with an elbow among other things. 7. Why is it free to the public? Who's paying? The National Health Commission announced the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine will be free to the Chinese public at the press briefing on December 31. Specific policies are expected to be carried out in the following months. According to the regulations on vaccines in China, when a vaccine is included in the Expanded Program on Immunization, the government will cover the cost. If it's a non-EPI vaccine, recipients of the vaccine will have to pay. 8. Can everyone get the vaccine shots? The vaccine will prioritize high-risk groups, including cold-chain workers, border inspectors, medics, the elderly, people with pre-existing disease, as well as government employees, community workers and people with plans traveling abroad. The vaccination will be expanded to general population as more specific plans roll out. But the vaccine may not be for everyone. Those who show severe allergic symptoms to the first shot of the vaccine need to avoid the second one.
Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant? - CGTN
Dr. Anthony Fauci, top U.S. infectious disease expert, said data coming from Britain indicates the vaccines still will block the virus. But the U.S. also will do tests to be sure.
Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant? Experts believe so, but they're working to confirm that. A coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom has caused alarm because of the possibility that it might spread more easily. But even if that turns out to be true, experts say the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out will likely still work on the variant. Dr. Anthony Fauci, top U.S. infectious disease expert, said data coming from Britain indicates the vaccines still will block the virus. But the U.S. also will do tests to be sure. Viruses often undergo small changes as they reproduce and move through a population. In fact, the slight modifications are how scientists track the spread of a virus from one place to another. But if a virus mutates significantly enough, one worry is that current vaccines might no longer offer as much protection. And although that's a possibility to watch for over time with the coronavirus, experts say they don't believe it will be the case with the variant in the UK. "My expectation is, this will not be a problem," said Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser for the U.S. government's COVID-19 vaccine push.
A glimmer of hope for developing countries as Chinese COVID-19 vaccines enter final trials - CGTN
Five Chinese vaccines have entered the final stage of trials, prompting many countries to approve them for emergency use
Health workers receiving COVID-19 vaccines in Mexico City, Mexico, December 28, 2020. /CFP Health workers receiving COVID-19 vaccines in Mexico City, Mexico, December 28, 2020. /CFP With many countries showing keen interest in approving the Chinese COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, pharmaceutical giants have expedited efforts to start mass production, giving a glimmer of hope to developing countries. Fifteen COVID-19 vaccines developed by Chinese companies are at various trial stages in more than a dozen countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Brazil, Pakistan and Peru. Public health experts are closely monitoring five of these candidate vaccines, which are in the final stage of clinical trials. CGTN Infographic by Du Chenxin CGTN Infographic by Du Chenxin They consist of two inactivated vaccines developed by the China National Pharmaceutical Group, which is affiliated with Sinopharm, one inactivated vaccine by Sinovac Biotech Co., one adenoviral vector vaccine jointly prepared by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and CanSino, and one recombinant protein vaccine by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. Every vaccine goes through four rigorous stages before it's approved for public use, which includes pre-clinical, phase I, phase II and phase III trials. The results from these trials are submitted to health regulators, which has the final say in approving a vaccine. "We feel the urgency to develop COVID-19 vaccines not only for Chinese, but also for people across the world," Zhong Nanshan, China's top respiratory expert, said on December 22, adding that the country's vaccines are now in great demand. Chinese scientists have started developing vaccines using five different technical approaches to deal with the pandemic since early February. The five technologies, which include a commonly seen inactivated vaccine and an emerging approach DNA and RNA vaccine, have their own advantages and disadvantages. CGTN Infographic by Du Chenxin CGTN Infographic by Du Chenxin "We hope Chinese vaccines will be included in COVAX's procurement list as soon as possible after their development, which will contribute to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries," Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the foreign ministry, told a press briefing in November. COVAX is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide with equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. But a vast majority of wealthy nations have secured access to Western-developed vaccines. A large share of the vaccine has already been booked by the EU, U.S and UK, leaving a long waiting time for developing countries. Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine approval by two Arab nations, the UAE and Bahrain, has given much-needed hope for developing countries. While Western vaccines, including Pfizer-BioNTech, use the cutting edge mRNA method to build immunity against the novel coronavirus, Sinopharm and Sinovac have adopted the traditional inactivated virus approach in developing the vaccine. CGTN Infographic by Li Jingjie, Du Chenxin, Li Yueyun CGTN Infographic by Li Jingjie, Du Chenxin, Li Yueyun The inactivated virus method has a massive advantage over the mRNA technique as it doesn't require a robust cold chain to preserve the efficacy of the vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines have to be stored at the arctic temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius during transit in specially designed shipping containers that "if replenished with dry ice, can be used for up to 15 days; otherwise, specialized freezers costing upwards of $10,000 are needed," according to an article published inNature. "Once thawed, the companies say, the vaccines can last for up to five days in the fridge." In contrast, inactivated vaccines can be stored at temperatures ranging from 2-8 degrees Celsius in an ordinary refrigerator. CGTN Infographic by Li Jingjie CGTN Infographic by Li Jingjie For many developing countries, maintaining such ultra-low temperatures for vaccines is a significant challenge because of poor electrification and related infrastructure challenges. Apart from easy handling of inactivated vaccines, Chinese pharmaceutical giants' ability to manufacture vaccines in bulk would help developing countries to inoculate their population rapidly and effectively. Read more: China's COVID-19 vaccines: Looking at the concerns and advantages
Researchers identify over 109,000 impact craters on moon - CGTN
An international team of researchers has identified over 109,000 previously unrecognized impact craters on the moon using machine learning methods.
An international team of researchers has identified over 109,000 previously unrecognized impact craters on the moon using machine learning methods. The study, led by researchers from Jilin University, was published in the journal Nature Communications. Impact craters are the most prominent lunar surface feature and occupy most of the moon's surface. With traditional automatic identification methods, it is generally difficult to find irregular and seriously degraded impact craters that may have formed in the early periods. In order to effectively identify craters and estimate their age, researchers applied a transfer learning method and trained a deep neural network with the data of previously identified craters. By combining the data collected by China's Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 lunar probes, researchers identified 109,956 new impact craters. They also estimated the ages of 18,996 newly detected craters larger than 8 kilometers in diameter. Meanwhile, researchers have established a new lunar impact crater database for the mid- and low-latitude regions of the moon. Yang Chen of Jilin University, who is one of the researchers, said the lunar crater database is of great value to scientific research on the moon. "The adopted strategy can be applied to assist crater studies, generating reliable suggestions for planetary research," Yang said. This research model has been applied to the identification of small impact craters at the Chang'e-5 probe's landing site, Yang added. (Cover: This file photo taken on May 13, 2019 shows a view of the moon. /CFP)