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Why are WhatsApp users joining rival platforms? - Al Jazeera English
Changes to privacy terms by WhatsApp has caused an exodus of users to rivals Telegram and Signal.
WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned messaging service that has more than two billion users, has recently announced controversial changes to its privacy terms, prompting a mass exodus of users to rival platforms, particularly Telegram and Signal. Users outside Europe who do not accept the new conditions before February 8 will be cut off from the messaging app. WhatsApp says the changes will help it better integrate with Facebook, but technology experts and privacy advocates have raised concerns about data safety. Here are four things to know about the issue: What is the new WhatsApp privacy like? According to the new terms, WhatsApp reserves the right to share user data, including location and phone number, with its parent company Facebook Inc and other apps owned by the social networking giant Instagram and Messenger. The data sharing was optional until now, but after February 8 it will become mandatory. Tech experts say the move is aimed at monetising WhatsApp. Why it is causing flight of users? Many users are wary of the move as Facebook has a poor track record in handling user data. Some privacy activists called on WhatsApp users on Twitter to switch to apps like Signal and Telegram, questioning the accept our data grab or get out move. Pavel Durov, the Russia-born founder of Telegram, said: People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services. Which are the other rival apps benefiting? More than 100,000 users installed Signal across the app stores of Apple and Google in the last two days, while Telegram picked up nearly 2.2 million downloads, according to data analytics firm Sensor Tower. New installs of WhatsApp fell 11 percent in the first seven days of 2021 compared with the prior week, but that still amounted to an estimated 10.5 million downloads globally, Sensor Tower said. Both Telegram and Signal are encrypted messaging apps, which ensures better privacy. They do not allow outsiders or the platform itself to see the content of the messages. What is WhatsApp doing about it? The company tried to reassure users by saying in a blog post that WhatsApp cannot see their private messages or hear their calls, and neither can Facebook. We dont keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We cant see your shared location and neither can Facebook, it added. Location data along with message contents is encrypted end-to-end, according to WhatsApp. But other metadata such as call records, location, financial information etc may be shared if you are using WhatsApp. Were giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts, WhatsApp said in the post. Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what youre saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook.
Arthritis drug reduces risk of COVID-19 death: UK study - Al Jazeera English
Drugs, which will be added to UK treatment guidelines, offers hope to seriously ill patients admitted to intensive care.
An arthritis drug has been found to reduce the risk of death for people with the most severe cases of COVID-19 by a quarter, if they are given the treatment within 24 hours of entering intensive care, a British study of treatments for the disease has found. The REMAP-CAP clinical trial, led by Imperial College and funded by the UK government, found tocilizumab, which suppresses the immune system and has long been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, could reduce the relative risk of death by 24 percent when given soon after admission to the ICU. It also reduced the length of time patients spent in intensive care by between seven and 10 days the health ministry said in a statement. Most of the data came from when the drug was administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone, which has already been shown to improve patients chances of recovering from severe cases of COVID-19. The findings are awaiting peer review. This is a significant step forward for increasing survival of patients in intensive care with COVID-19, the UKs Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam said in a statement. The data shows that tocilizumab, and likely sarilumab (another drug in the study), speed up and improve the odds of recovery in intensive care, which is crucial for helping to relieve pressure on intensive care and hospitals and saving lives. A mass vaccination programme is under way in the UK, but as the outbreak accelerates there are concerns the health system could be overwhelmed [Jacob King/Pool via AFP] The United Kingdom is battling an escalating coronavirus crisis fuelled by a new variant of the coronavirus that is significantly more transmissible. The authorities have imposed a new lockdown on the country of nearly 67 million people amid rising concern that the health system could be overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients needing hospital treatment even before the benefits of a mass vaccination programme are felt. Some 52,618 cases were confirmed on Thursday and 3,600 people admitted to hospital. The roll out of these treatments could contribute significantly towards reducing pressures on hospitals over the coming weeks and months, the health ministry said, adding that under updated guidance doctors would be encouraged to use tocilizumab in their treatment of COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units potentially saving hundreds of lives.
Netherlands bans UK flights after finding new coronavirus strain - Al Jazeera English
Dutch government bans all passenger flights from UK as a ‘precautionary’ bid to limit spread of mutated virus strain.
The Netherlands has banned flights carrying passengers from the United Kingdom after Dutch authorities found the first case of the new, more infectious coronavirus strain that is circulating in England. The Dutch government, in a statement early on Sunday, said the ban will remain in place until January 1. An infectious mutation of the COVID-19 virus is circulating in the United Kingdom. It is said to spread more easily and faster and is more difficult to detect, the health ministry said in a statement. The Dutch public health body, the RIVM, therefore recommends any introduction of this virus strain from the UK be limited as much as possible by limiting and/or controlling passenger movements. The ministry said a case study in the Netherlands at the beginning of December revealed a virus with the variant described in the UK. Experts were looking at how the infection happened and whether there were related cases, it added. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Ruttes cabinets ordered the ban on flights from the UK as a precautionary measure, the ministry said, adding that the Dutch government is reviewing other modes of transport. Over the next few days, together with other EU member states, the government will explore the scope for further limiting the risk of the new strain of the virus being brought over from the UK, it added. The Netherlands is under a five-week lockdown until mid-January with schools and all non-essential shops closed to slow a surge in the virus. The ban on UK flights comes after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced on Saturday that the new strain of coronavirus identified in the country is up to 70 percent more infectious. But Johnson said the new variant is not thought to be more deadly and vaccines should still be effective. The British prime minister also said London and southeast England, which are currently in the highest level of a three-tier system of rules, would now be placed in a new Tier 4 level. The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was in close contact with British officials and would update the public as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant and any implications.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 delivers rock samples from asteroid Ryugu - Aljazeera.com
Scientists retrieve a Japanese space capsule carrying cargo of asteroid dust in Australia’s Woomera desert.
Japans space agency has retrieved a capsule carrying the first rock samples from beneath the surface of an asteroid that scientists say could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet. The spacecraft Hayabusa2 released the small capsule on Saturday and sent it towards Earth to deliver samples from the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometres (180 million miles), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said. The capsule collection work at the landing site was completed, the agency said in a tweet about four hours after the capsule landed. We practiced a lot for today it ended safe. The return of the capsule with the worlds first asteroid subsurface samples comes weeks after NASAs OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made a successful touch-and-go grab of surface samples from asteroid Bennu. China, meanwhile, announced this week its lunar lander collected underground samples and sealed them within the spacecraft for return to Earth, as space-developing nations compete in their missions. 622#2pic.twitter.com/RHiXyzZif1 (@kantei) December 5, 2020 Early on Sunday, the capsule briefly turned into a fireball as it re-entered the atmosphere 120 km (75 miles) above Earth. At about 10 km (6 miles) above ground, a parachute was opened to slow its fall and beacon signals were transmitted to indicate its location. It was great It was a beautiful fireball, and I was so impressed, said JAXAs Hayabusa2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda as he celebrated the successful capsule return and safe landing from a command centre in Sagamihara, near Tokyo. Ive waited for this day for six years. The capsule descended from 220,000 km (136,700 miles) away after it was separated from Hayabusa2 in a challenging operation that required precision control. About two hours after the capsules re-entry, JAXA said its helicopter search team found the capsule in the planned landing area in a remote, sparsely populated area of Woomera, Australia. The retrieval of the pan-shaped capsule, about 40 centimetres (15 inches) in diameter, was completed about two hours later. JAXA officials said they hoped to conduct a preliminary safety inspection at an Australian lab and bring the capsule back to Japan early next week. Samples are on their way for analysis at the Woomera Test Range. @[email protected]@DeptDefence#Hayabusa2https://t.co/eBIukNPTgupic.twitter.com/AK0C7TCArk Australian Space Agency (@AusSpaceAgency) December 6, 2020 The material collected from the asteroid is believed to be unchanged since the time the universe was formed. Larger celestial bodies like Earth went through radical changes including heating and solidifying, changing the composition of the materials on their surface and below. But when it comes to smaller planets or smaller asteroids, these substances were not melted, and therefore it is believed that substances from 4.6 billion years ago are still there, Makoto Yoshikawa, the mission manager, told reporters before the capsule arrived. Scientists are especially keen to discover whether the samples contain organic matter, which could have helped seed life on Earth. We still dont know the origin of life on Earth and through this Hayabusa-2 mission, if we are able to study and understand these organic materials from Ryugu, it could be that these organic materials were the source of life on Earth, Yoshikawa said Half the Hayabusa-2s samples will be shared between JAXA, US space agency NASA and other international organisations and the rest kept for future study as advances are made in analytic technology. This computer graphics image released by JAXA shows the Hayabusa2 spacecraft above the asteroid Ryugu. [File: ISAS/JAXA via AP] For Hayabusa2, it is not the end of the mission it started in 2014. It is now heading to a small asteroid called 1998KY26 on a journey slated to take 10 years one way, for possible research including finding ways to prevent meteorites from hitting Earth. So far, its mission has been fully successful. It touched down twice on Ryugu despite the asteroids extremely rocky surface, and successfully collected data and samples during the one and a half years it spent near Ryugu after arriving there in June 2018. In its first touchdown in February 2019, it collected surface dust samples. In a more challenging mission in July that year, it collected underground samples from the asteroid for the first time in space history after landing in a crater that it created earlier by blasting the asteroids surface. Asteroids, which orbit the sun but are much smaller than planets, are among the oldest objects in the solar system and therefore may help explain how Earth evolved.
‘The greatest’: Thousands of Argentinians say goodbye to Maradona - Al Jazeera English
Fans queue in Buenos Aires to pay last respects to Diego Maradona, a national icon who died on Wednesday.
Buenos Aires, Argentina As Luciano Perez walked with his son Dante towards Argentinas presidential palace, where Diego Maradonas coffin was on display, he took solace in the crowds that had gathered along the Avenida de Mayo. He was glad to see that tens of thousands of people had showed up to honour the football icon he had grown up with and to whom he owed his love of the game. But when he stepped inside the Casa Rosada, and passed the closed coffin, cloaked in the Argentine flag and jerseys worn by El Diego, his emotions darkened. I didnt get to meet him and to see him, now, in a coffin, it was just terrible, said Perez, 36. Maradonas coffin was draped in the national flag and football jerseys [Presidency of Argentina via EPA] Argentina did not expect this. The sudden loss of Maradona feels too hard to process, too raw to put into words for this football-obsessed nation. A genius on the pitch, the player who carried the national squad to soaring heights in the 1986 World Cup, Maradonas name became synonymous with his native soil. Now, the country is overcome by acute grief, punctuated by the kind of singing and dancing that was reserved for his dazzling goals. Fans needed to celebrate El Diego, it was like a balm for the pain. Tens of thousands of people gathered along the Avenida de Mayo [Juan Mabromata/AFP] Some of the heightened emotions spilled over into confrontations with police, as some fans tried to push their way into the presidential palace in the early morning hours. Others sought to push past the line that police had cut off as the end of visitation hours drew near. Maradona died on Wednesday following a heart attack. His body was carried by motorcade to the Casa Rosada after nightfall, as thousands sought the company of fellow mourners at the Buenos Aires Obelisk. Many of them shifted over to La Casa Rosada, to line up for their chance to spend a few seconds near their idol. The presidential palace said hundreds of thousands of people had lined up for dozens of blocks to bid farewell to Maradona in an organised and emotive way. But it said that as visiting hours drew to a close Thursday afternoon, people tried to break through the front to gain access. Visitation was briefly suspended, then fans tried again and managed to get inside. Violent clashes also broke out between fans who didnt get in and police. The family decided to suspend the ceremony after the confrontations, and the body of Maradona was taken to Bella Vista cemetery in Buenos Aires province, where his parents are buried. Local media reported that the coffin would travel to the cemetery by way of the 9 de Julio, the iconic Buenos Aires avenue, so that the throngs that lined it could catch one final glimpse of their idol. All along the highway route, Argentinians came out for one last guttural cry for El Diego. They climbed onto the road, waved Argentine flags, the jerseys of the countrys football clubs, and shook their arms until they couldnt anymore. Then, like a lightning bolt, he was gone. Maradona died on Wednesday following a heart attack, prompting an outpouring of grief across Argentina [Natalie Alcoba/Al Jazeera] Today there is no jersey. Today there is no political party. Thats what Diego was all his life. He unified Argentinians, said Nahuel De Lima, 30, the first person in line at the wake, and who came from Villa Fiorito, the same impoverished Buenos Aires neighbourhood that Maradona grew up in. Close behind him was Dolores Morales, who clutched an old magazine cover from the World Cup-winning era. Sometimes you dont know how to describe things, but hes the greatest, hes a god. And there will be a day for Maradona, remember that, said Morales. Maradona represents Argentinianess, said Martin Rabassano. Did he have contradictions? Sure, like the whole world. He transcended football. Hes a lot more than a ball. So, he has my respect, and his family has my respect. I had to be here. As did Perez, with his son Dante. His love of football and Maradona has stayed with him throughout his life. He was my childhood. My adolescence. The reason why I played football, said Perez, who is from the Buenos Aires suburb of Lanus. He had a magnetism that was different. Hes a dude that came from the bottom, that empathises with the worker, with the person who doesnt work, the rich person, with anyone. He is authentic. Thats the most important thing.
AstraZeneca says its COVID-19 vaccine needs ‘additional study’ - Al Jazeera English
UK drug company says that while further research is needed, it did not expect it to delay regulatory approval in Europe.
AstraZeneca might have to run an additional global trial to assess the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine, after concerns were raised about the effectiveness of its jab. The British companys chief executive Pascal Soriot was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg News report on Thursday that an additional study would be run to evaluate a lower dosage that performed better than a full amount in AstraZenecas studies. Now that weve found what looks like a better efficacy we have to validate this, so we need to do an additional study, Soriot was quoted as saying. Soriot said it would probably be another international study, but this one could be faster because we know the efficacy is high, so we need a smaller number of patients. The news comes as AstraZeneca, and its partner the University of Oxford, has faced questions about its success rate that some experts said could hinder its chances of getting speedy approval by United States and European Unions regulators. Several scientists have raised doubts about the robustness of results released on Monday showing the experimental vaccine was 90 percent effective in a sub-group of trial participants who, by error initially, received a half-dose followed by a full dose. Soriot said he did not expect the additional trial to delay United Kingdom and European regulatory approvals. Clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may take longer though because the agency is unlikely to approve the vaccine based on studies carried out elsewhere, especially given the questions about the results, he said. Authorisation in some countries is still expected before the end of the year, he added. AstraZeneca research chief Mene Pangalos told Reuters on Monday that researchers had stumbled upon the half-dose regime by accident, saying a sub-group of the trial was given a smaller initial dose by mistake. Earlier he had said that the firm would start discussions with the FDA to change the design of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine trial to add the more-effective dosage regime. While this could constitute a setback for the UK company, Chris Smith, consultant virologist with Cambridge University, said the error could actually turn out in favour of AstraZeneca. What they found was that they had one group of individuals who had a 90 percent-plus response rate to their vaccine, and another group that responded a bit less well, down 60 or 70 percent, Smith told Al Jazeera. Then, by analysing the data, they have found that individuals who got a smaller amount first and then a bigger dose next, actually responded better than people who got two higher doses, he said. If that turns out to be the case, then the 100 million doses of the vaccine that the UK has already purchased from AstraZeneca, instead of treating half of the population, will provide enough coverage to go through the entire population, Smith added. Meanwhile on the same day, the British governments Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance said that the main point about the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 was that it worked, when asked about doubts that have been raised about the vaccine. The headline result is the vaccine works and thats very exciting, Vallance said during a news conference with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Chief Medical Adviser Chris Whitty, answering the same question, said there was always scientific debate about virtually everything. The key thing from our point of view is to leave this in the hands of the regulator They will make an assessment with lots of data that is not currently in the public domain on efficacy and on safety, Whitty said.
US markets retreat from record closings after sobering jobs news - Aljazeera.com
The S&P 500 index and the Dow walked back from record closing highs, pulled lower by cyclicals and small caps.
The S&P 500 index closed lower on Wednesday as mounting United States layoffs in the wake of new mandated lockdowns to contain surging COVID-19 infections dampened investors appetite for risk. The index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated from record closing highs, pulled lower by cyclicals and small caps that drove the rally earlier in the week. Pandemic-resilient tech and tech-adjacent market leaders helped keep the Nasdaq afloat. Its a growth day, flipping back the other way away from value, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. Its this ongoing struggle between the virus and the vaccine. Theres a reality setting in that while the vaccine will start being distributed fairly quickly, the virus isnt going away quickly and therefore the timeline for economic improvement is getting pushed out. A wide range of data released in advance of Thursdays Thanksgiving holiday was dominated by a second consecutive week of unexpected jobless claims increases, suggesting that new restrictions to combat spiking coronavirus cases could hobble the struggling labour markets recovery. The economic data is not good, and we know it wont be good for some time given this new wave of the virus, Ghriskey added. The market appeared to be replaying the previous two weeks, which began with rallies driven by promising vaccine news but pivoted back to stay-at-home plays on near-term pandemic realities and the lack of new fiscal stimulus measures. Still, the vaccine developments and removal of uncertainties surrounding the US presidential election have driven Wall Street indexes to record closing highs, and put the S&P 500 on course for its best November ever. Market participants believe US stocks have more room to climb. A recent Reuters news agency poll showed analysts believe the S&P 500 will gain 9 percent between now and the end of 2021. The index has surged about 66 percent since the coronavirus-led crash in March and is up about 12 percent so far this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 173.77 points, or 0.58 percent, to 29,872.47; the S&P 500 lost 5.76 points, or 0.16 percent, to 3,629.65; and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 57.08 points, or 0.47 percent, at 12,094.40. Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, seven ended the session in the red, with energy suffering the largest percentage loss. The economically sensitive banking sector lost ground, with the S&P 500 Banks index shedding 0.7 percent. Tesla Inc, which surpassed $500bn in market capitalization on Tuesday, extended its gain by 3.4 percent even after the electric-car maker recalled about 9,500 vehicles. The company also plans to start manufacturing electric vehicle chargers in China starting next year, according to documents it submitted to Shanghai authorities. Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by a 1.24-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.01-to-1 ratio favoured decliners. The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 120 new highs and eight new lows. Volume on US exchanges was 10.76 billion shares, compared with the 11.17 billion average over the last 20 trading days.
Hong Kong, Singapore travel bubble delayed by COVID-19 surge - Al Jazeera English
Air travel bubble postponed for at least two weeks after Hong Kong reports 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.
A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, originally slated to begin on Sunday, has been postponed amid a spike in infections in the semi-autonomous Chinese city. The air travel bubble, meant to boost tourism for both cities, will be delayed by at least two weeks, Hong Kongs minister of commerce and economic development, Edward Yau, said at a news conference on Saturday. The arrangement is meant to allow travellers between the two cities to enter without quarantine as long as they complete coronavirus tests before and after arriving at their destinations and fly on designated flights. Hong Kong reported 43 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 13 untraceable local infections. For any scheme to be successful, they must fulfil the condition of securing public health and also make sure that both sides would be comfortable and feel safe about the scheme, Yau said. In light of the situation in Hong Kong, I think its the responsible way to put this back for a while, and then sort of relaunch it at a suitable juncture. The plan will be revisited in December, he added. Under the initial agreement, the travel bubble was to be suspended if the number of untraceable local infections in either Singapore or Hong Kong exceeded five on a seven-day moving average. The current average in Hong Kong is nearly four, prompting Yau and Singapores Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung to postpone the inaugural flight. On Friday, Hong Kongs top health official said that the city had probably entered a new wave of cases. Recent clusters have spanned taxi drivers, a dance studio and hotels. Hong Kong has confirmed a total of 5,561 cases, including 108 deaths. Singapore has reported 58,148 cases, but only 28 fatalities. Prior to the postponement, Singapore said on Saturday morning that travellers arriving from Hong Kong via the bubble would be required to take a coronavirus test on arrival. Originally, only people landing in Hong Kong were to be required to be tested. Ong said in a Facebook post that the postponement is a sober reminder that the COVID-19 virus is still with us. I can fully understand the disappointment and frustration of travellers who have planned their trips. But we think it is better to defer from a public health standpoint, he wrote.
Early trial results show Sinovac vaccine triggers immune response - Aljazeera.com
Findings another boost to hope that vaccines can bring an end to accelerating coronavirus pandemic.
Sinovac Biotechs experimental COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac triggered a quick immune response but the level of antibodies produced was lower than in people who had recovered from the disease, early trial results showed on Wednesday. While the early to mid-stage trials were not designed to assess the efficacy of CoronaVac, researchers said it could provide sufficient protection, based on their experience with other vaccines and data from preclinical studies with macaques. The study follows encouraging announcements this month from US drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna, as well as Russias Sputnik V, that their experimental vaccines were more than 90 percent effective based on interim data from large, late-stage trials. CoronaVac and four other experimental vaccines developed in China are currently undergoing late-stage trials to determine their effectiveness in preventing COVID-19. The Sinovac findings, published in a peer-reviewed paper in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, came from results in Phase I and Phase II clinical trials in China involving more than 700 participants. Our findings show that CoronaVac is capable of inducing a quick antibody response within four weeks of immunisation by giving two doses of the vaccine at a 14-day interval, said Zhu Fengcai of the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Nanjing and one of the authors of the paper. CoronaVac is one of three experimental COVID-19 vaccines China has been using to inoculate hundreds of thousands of people under its emergency use programme [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters] We believe that this makes the vaccine suitable for emergency use during the pandemic, Zhu said in a statement published alongside the paper. Among the Phase II trials limitations, the researchers noted that only healthy adults were involved and that the study did not include individuals from groups known to be more susceptible to COVID-19 including people of 60 years of age or more, or with other underlying diseases. It also did not assess T-cell responses, which they said would form part of the Phase III trials in Brazil. Phase III trials are also under way in Indonesia and Brazil, which has reported the most coronavirus cases in the world after the United States and India. Findings from those large, late-stage studies would be crucial to determine if the immune response generated by CoronaVac was sufficient to protect people from the coronavirus infection, the scientists said. Naor Bar-Zeev from Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in the study, said the results must be interpreted with caution until Phase III results are published. But even then, after Phase III trial completion and after licensure, we should prudently remain cautious, he said. CoronaVac is one of three experimental COVID-19 vaccines China has been using to inoculate hundreds of thousands of people under its emergency use programme. The two other vaccines in Chinas emergency programme, both developed by institutes linked to Sinopharm, and another vaccine from CanSino Biologics, were also shown to be safe and triggered immune responses in early and mid-stage trials, according to peer-reviewed papers. Gang Zeng, a Sinovac researcher involved in the CoronaVac study, said the vaccine could be an attractive option because it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures of between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius (36°- 46°F) and may remain stable for up to three years. (It) would offer some advantages for distribution to regions where access to refrigeration is challenging, Gang said. Sinovac is running late stage, large-scale trials of its experimental vaccines in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey [File: Diego Vara/Reuters] By contrast, vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna use a new technology called synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) to activate the immune system against the virus and require far colder storage. Pfizers vaccine must be stored and transported at -70C though it can be kept in a normal fridge for up to five days, or up to 15 days in a thermal shipping box. Modernas candidate is expected to be stable at normal fridge temperatures for 30 days but for storage of up to six months it needs to be kept at -20C. CoronaVac is also being considered by Brazil and Indonesia for inoculations in the coming months. Indonesia has sought emergency authorisation to start a mass vaccination campaign by the end of the year and vaccines produced by Sinovac and Chinas Sinopharm are slated to be used in the early stages of the campaign. Brazils Sao Paulo is set to begin importing the first of 46 million doses of Chinas Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19 this week and plans to roll out CoronaVac as early as January.
One in five COVID-19 survivors develop mental illness: Study - Al Jazeera English
Research finds 20 percent of those infected with COVID-19 diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.
Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said, after a large study found 20 percent of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among the studys recovered COVID-19 patients who developed mental health problems, and the researchers also found significantly higher risks of dementia, a brain impairment condition. People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings show this to be likely, said Paul Harrison, author of the study and professor of psychiatry at the United Kingdoms University of Oxford. Doctors and scientists around the world urgently need to investigate the causes and identify new treatments for mental illness after COVID-19, Harrison said. The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal on Monday, analysed electronic health records of 69 million people in the United States, including more than 62,000 who had cases of COVID-19. In the three months following testing positive for COVID-19, one in five survivors were recorded as having a first-time diagnosis of anxiety, depression or insomnia. This was about twice as likely as for other groups of patients in the same period, the researchers said. The study also found that people with a pre-existing mental illness were 65 percent more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those without one. Two main factors could explain why people tend to develop anxiety and depressive symptoms, according to the studys author. The virus might be directly affecting the brain in some ways, maybe through the immune system, which leads to the mental health problem, Harrison told Al Jazeera. But more importantly, the experience of having had COVID-19 and understanding all the things that might have happened to you with all the fears and concerns that the virus led people to have, may also be a reason. [Health] services need to be ready to provide care, especially since our results are likely to be underestimates [of the number of psychiatric patients], he added. Mental health specialists not directly involved with the study said its findings add to growing evidence that COVID-19 can affect the brain and mind, increasing the risk of a range of psychiatric illnesses. Simon Wessely, regius professor of psychiatry at Kings College London, said the finding that those with mental health disorders are also at higher risk of getting COVID-19 echoed similar findings from previous infectious disease outbreaks. COVID-19 affects the central nervous system, and so might directly increase subsequent disorders. But this research confirms that is not the whole story, and that this risk is increased by previous ill health, he said.