Chinese team develops COVID-19 vaccine candidate through new approach - CGTN
Scientists around the world are working on a vaccine for the new coronavirus, and while we're still some time away from finding a successful antidote, a Chinese team says it might be onto something. Chinese researchers have said they developed a vaccine candidate that can trigger a "strong" immune response against COVID-19 and "potent" neutralizing antibodies. Their discovery, they say, can potentially be applied to future vaccines against pathogens outside the coronavirus family. Scientists tinker with a virus in many ways in their search for a potion that prevents a given antigen from infecting cells. They could use a live but attenuated virus that is strong enough to stimulate an immune reaction but weak enough to cause illness. They could also kill the microorganism while maintaining its integrity so it can be recognized by the immune system. Or, they could administer fragments of the pathogen to trigger an immune response, among other methods. When it comes to COVID-19, things are still up in the air as to which route to take. "It is still unknown which vaccine platform will actually work for SARS-CoV-2, making the development of new vaccine platforms of great importance," the researchers wrote in their paper "A SARS-CoV-2 vaccine induces neutralizing antibody" published on preprint website bioRxiv. So they decided to combine two vaccine development approaches and see what comes out of it. They simulated the SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19, by designing virus-like particles studded with spikes structures that play a significant role in the coronavirus's ability in infecting cells on their surfaces and embedding them with antigen-encoding genetic materials. "In compensation to the traditional vaccine platforms, our study provided a new vaccine platform by simulating coronavirus surface protein and internal nucleic acids, therefore, combining features of inactivated vaccines and mRNA vaccines," the researchers noted. The vaccine, dubbed ShaCoVacc, was injected into male mice, aged 6-8 weeks old. "Interestingly, a single injection of ShaCoVacc in our study induced an immediate and potent immune response against SARS-CoV-2 in contrast to an inactivated vaccine which required at least two or three doses of injections," they found. The scientists however acknowledged they could not inject the vaccinated animals with a live pathogen and so we don't know for a fact how effectively the vaccine can protect individuals and limit their risk of falling ill when faced with the virus later on. Still, by detailing how antibodies attach themselves to different parts of the toxin molecule or epitopes researchers believe their study could be a blueprint that informs future research by offering a new system that can be adapted to develop other vaccines tackling emerging infectious diseases.
Severe coronavirus cases can lead to 'delirium,' researchers find - CGTN
People hospitalized with severe coronavirus infections are likely to experience delirium, confusion or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), research in a leading medical journal suggests.
People hospitalized with severe coronavirus infections are likely to experience delirium, confusion or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), research in a leading medical journal suggests. The report, published in the Lancet, looked at different coronavirus strains including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that started in 2002, Middle-East respiratory syndrome (MERS) from 2012, and early data from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The psychological symptoms are exacerbated by long stays in intensive care units (ICU) and the intrusive experience of being put on a ventilator, researchers wrote. The report examined COVID-19 cases from Italy and the UK, the two European countries with the highest death tolls, as well a smaller number of subjects from China, where cases were first reported. Researchers found evidence of negative psychological effects confusion and delirium in more than 60 percent of COVID-19 cases that required ICU treatment. The report recommended that doctors remain vigilant to further psychological effects in recovering patients, as 33 percent of survivors from the SARS and MERS epidemics experienced PTSD two years after they were seriously ill. READ MORE: Lockdown exacerbates 'mental health issues' The report notes how political and economic conditions can contribute to the psychiatric effects, citing the "wider social impact of the pandemic and the governmental response, including physical distancing measures and quarantine. "Both the infected and non-infected population might be susceptible as a result of certain experiences, such as widespread anxiety, social isolation, stress in healthcare workers and other essential workers and unemployment and financial difficulties." Co-leader of the research, Jonathan Rogers of University College London's psychiatry department, said: "Most people with COVID-19 will not develop any mental health problems, even among those with severe cases requiring hospitalization, but given the huge numbers of people getting sick, the global impact on mental health could be considerable. "Our analysis focuses on potential mental health risks of being hospitalized with a coronavirus infection and how psychiatric conditions could worsen the prognosis or hold people back from returning to their normal lives after recovering." The report examined 72 studies from across the world that were carried out after the 2002 SARS outbreak and 10 years later, following MERS. In total, the review looked at 3,500 patients who were hospitalized with the respective viruses. READ MORE: How are Europe's metros coping as lockdowns ease? The results revealed that almost a third of patients hospitalized with MERS and SARS developed PTSD. In the subjects, rates of depression and anxiety were high, with around 15 percent of patients suffering a year after overcoming the virus. A further 15 percent experienced the symptoms of anxiety or depression without being diagnosed and yet another 15 percent suffered from other psychological effects including insomnia and mood swings. While research into COVID-19 is ongoing and partial, early evidence suggests that similar levels of delirium and confusion could be present, according to the researchers. The report stresses, however, that its findings are based on those with serious cases of the virus. Early data suggest the majority who contract COVID-19 only experience mild symptoms and do not require ICU treatment. Check out The Pandemic Playbook, CGTN Europe's major investigation into the lessons learned from COVID-19
WHO warns COVID-19 'may never go away' - CGTN
The World Health Organization has warned the coronavirus may never be completely cleared from circulation and says governments may have to plan long-term health policies around this.
The World Health Organization has warned the Covid-19 virus may never be completely eliminated and instead we should "come to terms" with the infection as we have with HIV. Speaking at the organization's daily briefing in Geneva, the WHO's emergencies director, Mike Ryan, said that even if a vaccine is found, controlling the virus will take a "massive effort." His comments come as governments around the world begin to ease lockdown restrictions. France, Spain and the UK have become the latest European countries to announce a gradual reopening of transport systems, along with some schools and shops, as well as changes to the movements of individuals. The EU has also hinted that the land borders of southern member states may be reopened, with a view to partially saving the summer tourist season. The WHO's director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, however stressed that any easing of conditions risks a second spike in infections later in the year. "The trajectory is in our hands ... we should all contribute to stop this pandemic," he added. More than 100 different vaccines to treat the coronavirus are now in development, with the University of Oxford claiming it may be able to start human trials in September. Others have cautioned that an effective treatment could still be years away. Meanwhile, the global death toll is running at close to 300,000. Ryan has described controlling Covid-19, even with an effective treatment, as a "massive moonshot." Citing the example of previous pandemics, such as that for measles, he added: "We have had some perfectly effective vaccinations on the planet that have not been used effectively for diseases we could eliminate and eradicate, and we haven't done it."
The United States quietly concedes defeat on Huawei's 5G - CGTN
The U.S.' latest moves on Huawei show that it has effectively lost the 5G war against the Chinese telecoms firm.
Editor's note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the U.S. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN. Despite increasingly vocal anti-China rhetoric by American politicians of late, the United States government as reported by Reuters is set to sign off on new rules which allow American technology companies to work with China's Huawei in coordinating on standards for global 5G internet networks. The move comes despite an all-out war against the Shenzhen firm by the United States government for nearly two years which has seen Washington attempt to bludgeon the company with a number of tactics, including domestic blacklistings and sale restrictions, coercing foreign governments against using it and tactics which have included legal charges at home and the pursuit of Meng Wanzhou in Canada. The timing of this move given the circumstances is extremely odd. However, the conceding that Huawei will have a role in the setting of global 5G standards is an indication that the White House is now aware of the realities that are at play. The United States has effectively lost the 5G war against Huawei. Failing to get it blacklisted throughout the world, Washington is now resigned to the fact that the company will now dominate the standards of the next generate internet and therefore, it is now forced to ultimately work with it in doing so, than against it. The outcome marks a major strategic defeat for the United States on this issue. First of all, despite everything we are hearing from the U.S. right now, policy and rhetoric are different. As I have set out previously, many American politics are showcasing anti-China stances in the pursuit of electoral races and this does not always translate into practical policy outcomes. Trump sees opportunity in bashing China right now over the COVID-19 pandemic, however what he says and suggests does not tell us everything he will do in practice and thus it is important to read deep between the lines during this given period. This brings us to Huawei. The Trump administration's campaign against the Chinese firm has been a failure on multiple levels. Starting in 2018, it sought to isolate Huawei globally by placing pressure on allied countries to shun the firm from their 5G networks branding it a security risk. One of the cited reasons for this was a fear from Washington that China could grow to dominate the global standards of the next generation internet technology. Whilst countries more loyal to U.S. strategic goals, such as Australia, followed suit with this, by and large the rest of the world did not, even close allies such as the United Kingdom. As a result, despite repeated aggressive actions from Washington, by the start of 2020 Huawei stood as the world's largest provider of 5G patents and commercial contracts, well on course for over 100 deals with roughly half of those being based in Europe. The company moved fast to diversify its supply chains and reduce its reliance on American parts, with the White House also blacklisting it on the Commerce Department entity list in 2018. This did not hinder its success in 5G, and after Britain rebuffed pressure from Washington and Germany followed suit, it becomes obvious that Washington's campaign had floundered on the premise it was demanding countries cut themselves off from a technology the U.S. itself didn't have. In this case, the newest move is a very quiet and pragmatic concession that Huawei has won the 5G race and the United States has failed to stop it from becoming a major player in the next generation of internet networks. Therefore, Washington is, like it or not, forced to recognize that if it wishes to have a stake in setting standards, it must work with the company rather than riding on the false hope it can shut it out. The U.S. had also proposed nonsense alternatives that they buy one of Huawei's competitors such as Nokia or that they invest in technology of their own, a move which is of course time-consuming. In the end, none of these options were feasible and thus the writing was on the wall: Their strategy had failed. Therefore, despite unrelenting American pressure, Huawei has sustained its position as the world's leading provider of 5G technology and even in the midst of the most vehemently anti-China rhetoric ever seen in the United States, Washington is forced to accept that begrudgingly. Policy and rhetoric are not always the same, and the White House has very much come around to the fact it has lost this round. (If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at [email protected])
UK govt faces mounting criticism over protective clothing shortages - CGTN
Britain needs to do more to get personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers on the front line, housing minister Robert Jenrick said on Saturday amid mounting criticism about shortages in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. "We've got to do more to get the PPE that people need to the front line," Jenrick said, adding that a consignment was due to arrive from Turkey on Sunday containing equipment, including 400,000 protective gowns. "We are trying to do everything we can to get the equipment we need," he said during the televised briefing on Saturday. The comment came after the government issued new guidance to hospitals, advising medical workers to reuse gowns or wear different PPE kits if stocks in England run low on Friday. "This guidance is a further admission of the dire situation that some doctors and healthcare workers continue to find themselves in because of government failings," said Rob Harwood, chairman of the consultants committee at the British Medical Association. "If it's being proposed that staff reuse equipment, this must be demonstrably driven by science and the best evidence rather than availability." A Department of Health spokesman said the guidance was to ensure that staff knew what to do to minimize risk if shortages did occur, and that the rules remained in line with international standards. Unison, the UK's largest trade union, said it had told its members they could lawfully refuse to work to avoid risk of injury, describing the situation over PPE as a "national scandal." The Royal College of Nursing said it had written "in the strongest terms" to express its concerns over the rules change. NHS Providers, a body which represents hospitals and other parts of Britain's publicly funded National Health Service, said supply levels of gowns were critical. "It is now clear that some trusts will run out of fully fluid repellent gowns this weekend," deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said. Britain is at or near the peak of a health crisis in which more than 15,000 people have died the fifth highest national death toll of a pandemic linked to at least 150,000 deaths worldwide. Data published on Saturday showed 15,464 people have died in British hospitals after testing positive for coronavirus an increase of 888 in the 24 hours. (With input from agencies)
Is it safe to do outdoor activities with others during COVID-19 pandemic? - CGTN
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has led people to stay at home and keep social distance to avoid more infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has suggested that people do activities "outdoord or in open, well-ventilated spaces." However, is it 100 percent safe to do outdoor activities during the COVID-19 outbreakWhat is the safe distance for outdoor exercises? "When you are moving running, cycling, walking you are actually creating an area behind you that is often called a slipstream, or a wake," the new study Coordinator Bert Blocken said in an interview with local media. Recently, researchers at KU Leuven (Belgium) and at the Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands) created simulations showing that the slipstreams between two people jogging behind one another were likely to see the second person come into contact with the first's droplets as they traveled through the slipstream, even at a walking speed of four kilometers per hour. The study suggests that people should avoid being directly behind another person, either by running side by side or by running in a staggered formation could reduce the risk of getting infected, according to the Brussels Times on Friday. Based on the study, it is advised that the walking distance for people moving in the same direction in one line should be at least fourfive meters for running; in slow biking it should be 10 meters; and for hard biking at least 20 meters. Blocken said the study was in the process of being approved, but the team of four behind it chose to share its findings before its approval, as it could be useful in the current COVID-19 pandemic.