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Two HBCU presidents joined Covid-19 vaccine trials to highlight the importance of Black participation - msnNOW
When the presidents of two historically Black colleges announced they were participating in a Covid-19 vaccine trial, they hoped to encourage other African Americans to do the same to ensure that an eventual vaccine has been tested on -- and is effective for …
(CNN)When the presidents of two historically Black colleges announced they were participating in a Covid-19 vaccine trial, they hoped to encourage other African Americans to do the same to ensure that an eventual vaccine has been tested on -- and is effective for -- people of color. Instead, they've been met with widespread skepticism from people who point to the United States' history of unethical medical experiments on Black people. Presidents Walter Kimbrough of Dillard University and Reynold Verret of Xavier University sent letters to their university communities earlier this month saying they decided to participate in a Phase 3 trial of a vaccine in development by Pfizer. "Overcoming the virus will require the availability of vaccines effective for all peoples in our communities, especially our black and brown neighbors," they wrote. "It is of the utmost importance that a significant number of black and brown subjects participate," they wrote, "so that the effectiveness of these vaccines be understood across the many diverse populations that comprise these United States." Health experts have stressed the importance of a diverse pool of volunteers in Covid-19 vaccine trials, especially because the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. "I just kept seeing all of the articles that indicated we don't have good representation," Kimbrough told CNN. "People are making the case that you don't know if it works for all populations if you don't have a robust sample." But the response has been largely negative, he said, with some people comparing him to a "lab rat." "I think overwhelmingly people are skeptical," he said. He pointed to distrust among some African Americans stemming from the Tuskegee syphilis study. Critics on social media also cited the study, commonly known as the Tuskegee Experiment. Beginning in the 1930s, it involved doctors with the US Public Health Service deliberately leaving Black men untreated for syphilis so they could study the course of the infection. They did this despite the fact that penicillin emerged during the course of the study as a viable and effective treatment. Kimbrough and Verret acknowledged Tuskegee and other "unethical examples of medical research" in their letter -- instances that had undermined "trust in health providers and caretakers" among African Americans. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that while Black Americans face higher risks from Covid-19, they're more hesitant to trust medical experts and sign up for a potential vaccine. In an interview on SiriusXM earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed that skepticism from minority communities needed to be met with transparency. He also cited Tuskegee as a big reason for the distrust. "The track record of how government and medical experimenters have treated the African American community is not something to be proud of," he said. 'I completely understand the fear' Kimbrough and Verret are not alone. When Dawn Baker, a Black news anchor at CNN affiliate WTOC in Savannah, Georgia, said she joined the trial for a Moderna vaccine candidate, skeptics also brought up the Tuskegee experiment. One said Baker had "lost her mind." "I can't fight (the history). I completely understand the fear," Baker told CNN's Poppy Harlowe. But Baker trusted her doctor of more than 30 years who asked her to participate. "To me it was a wonderful opportunity to be a part of the solution," she said. "So I just really feel that what needs to happen is, before we get into these vaccine studies, there needs to be some effort made with the minority community to actually explain and acknowledge there is a problem and what's going on there." Verret agreed that Tuskegee and "many other similar events" needed to be acknowledged. But there are "people like myself around the table," he said, who are asking questions and vetting the trials. Systemic racism exists in the US, he told CNN's Brianna Keilar. "But at the same time, that should not preclude us from making sure that we have access to something that is necessary to save the lives of our people, especially given that African Americans and other people of color are dying and suffering from Covid-19 at disproportionate rates," Verret said. Kimbrough said some backlash has stemmed from claims that their letter was a "mandate," when they only wanted their communities to "just think about it." "But it's hard to tell somebody to think about something you're not willing to do yourself," he said. Kimbrough had his first appointment with researchers on August 25. He had to complete an orientation explaining the trial and each step. He was also given a Covid-19 test using a nasal swab. Then he was given an injection -- but he doesn't know if he received the vaccine candidate or a placebo. Otherwise, once a week an app on Kimbrough's phone asks him to complete a survey, detailing how he feels and whether he as any symptoms. He went back for a second injection this week, and will have to go back periodically. But like Baker, Kimbrough is glad to be doing his part. "I'm just tired of all this," he said of the pandemic. "I'm ready to get back to some sense of normalcy and a vaccine will be part of that."
The latest on the coronavirus pandemic: Live updates - CNN
The coronavirus pandemic has brought countries to a standstill. In many places, as countries reopen, Covid-19 cases are on the rise. Follow here for the latest.
Rich nations including the United States, Britain and Japan have already bought up more than half the expected supply of coronavirus vaccine, the international anti-poverty nonprofit Oxfam said Wednesday. These countries represent 13% of the worlds population, but have bought up future supplies of 51% of coronavirus vaccines, Oxfam said. The group used data collected by analytics firm Airfinity to analyze published deals between governments and vaccine makers. Oxfam calculated five organizations -- AstraZeneca, Russias Gamaleya, Moderna, Pfizer and Chinas Sinovac -- have the combined production capacity to make 5.9 billion doses. Thats enough to cover nearly 3 billion people -- less than half the worlds population, if everyone needs two doses, as seems likely. Oxfam said in a statement that supply deals have already been agreed for 5.3 billion doses, of which 2.7 billion (51%) have been bought by developed countries and territories including the UK, US, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Switzerland and Israel, as well as the European Union. The remaining 2.6 billion doses have been bought by or promised to developing countries including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. Oxfam noted that AstraZeneca has pledged two-thirds of the doses it produces to developing countries. Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldnt depend on where you live or how much money you have, said Oxfams Robert Silverman. The development and approval of a safe and effective vaccine is crucial, but equally important is making sure the vaccines are available and affordable to everyone. COVID-19 anywhere is COVID-19 everywhere. When will we get enough vaccines? On Monday, Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India (SII), predicted there may not be enough Covid-19 vaccine until 2024. Its going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet, Poonawalla told the Financial Times. Poonawalla estimated that if the Covid-19 shot is a two-dose vaccine, the world would need about 15 billion doses.
Human sperm roll like 'playful otters' as they swim, study finds, contradicting centuries-old beliefs - CNN
For more than 340 years, science believed a man's sperm wiggled its way to its prize, much like a snake slithering side to side through water. Now, a new study says that movement was an optical illusion.
(CNN)More than 340 years ago, a Dutchman named Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invented a powerful new compound microscope and accidentally discovered the existence of bacteria, a groundbreaking achievement that changed the course of medicine. Not long after, he decided to look at his ejaculate -- definitely not an accident -- and discovered tiny, wiggling creatures with tails he dubbed "animalcules." These creatures "moved forward owing to the motion of their tails like that of a snake or an eel swimming in water," van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the secretary of the UK Royal Society in 1678. The tail of a man's sperm, he added "lashes with a snakelike movement." As scientists over the centuries continued to look down from above in their microscopes, there's no doubt of what their eyes saw and recorded on film: Sperm swim by moving their tails from side to side. Why shouldn't we trust our eyes? So that's what science has believed ever since. It turns out our eyes were wrong. Now, using state-of-the-art 3D microscopy and mathematics, a new study says we have actually been the victims of "sperm deception." "Sperm are very cheeky little creatures. Our new research using 3D microscopy shows that we have all been victims of a sperm deception," said study author Hermes Gadelha, head of the Polymaths Laboratory at the University ofBristol's department of engineering mathematics in the UK. "If you want to see the real beating of the tail, you need to move with the sperm and rotate with the sperm. So it's almost like you needed to make a (camera) really tiny and stick it to the head of the sperm," Gadelha said. Gadelha's co-authors, Gabriel Corkidi and Alberto Darszon from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, developed a way to do that. Using state-of-the art tools, including a super-high-speed camera that can record over 55,000 frames a second, the researchers were able to see that the side-to-side movement was actually an optical illusion. In reality, a sperm's tail lashes on only one side. That one-sided stroke should cause the sperm to swim in a perpetual circle, Gadelha said. But no, sperm were smarter than that. "Human sperm figured out if they roll as they swim, much like playful otters corkscrewing through water, their one-sided stroke would average itself out, and they would swim forwards," said Gadelha, who is an expert in the mathematics of fertility. "The rotation of the sperm is something that is very important. It's something that allows the sperm to regain a symmetry and actually be able to go straight," he said. The findings were a true surprise, Gadelha said, so the team spent nearly two years repeating the experiment and cross-checking the math. The results held: just as the Earthturned out not to be flat, sperm don't really swim like snakes or eels. "It could be that the rolling motion hides some subtle aspects about the health of this sperm or how well it can travel quickly," Gadelha said. "These are all very hypothetical questions. What we hope is that more scientist and fertility experts will become interested and ask, 'OK, how does this influence infertility?'" As for what it feels like to reverse over 300 years of scientific assumptions, Gadelha is modest. "Oh gosh, I always have a deep feeling inside that I'm always wrong," he said. "Who knows what we will find next? This is a measurement given by an instrument that has its limitations. We are right at this time, but we could be wrong again as science advances. And hopefully it will be something very exciting that we will learn in the next few years. "
Coronavirus pandemic: Updates from around the world - CNN
The coronavirus pandemic has brought countries to a standstill. In many places, as countries reopen, Covid-19 cases are on the rise. Follow here for the latest.
Surveillance for coronavirus is hit and miss in the US and needs to be coordinated so every state is reporting the same data, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota. The countrys approach to surveillance thus far has been lacking in consistent methods and strategy, which has hamstrung response efforts, the report from the universitys Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) says. The lack of reliable and comparable national data on Covid-19 makes it difficult to develop, assess, and evaluate public health policies across the country. Much of this is the result of a patchwork of variable policies for testing and surveillance in different jurisdictions, despite recommendations from the CDC for standardized reporting, it adds. For example, not all states report probable cases in addition to confirmed cases and deaths, and some states combine results of positive molecular tests with positive antibody tests, while others do not. Plus, there is no consistent monitoring of who has antibodies against coronavirus, which would help efforts to tell how many people have already been infected. It would be very useful to also distinguish tests performed in people who have symptoms versus people who do not have symptoms, the report adds. The CIDRAP report finds a lack of uniform and consistent data makes testing information less useful than it should be. Testing is a key feature of an effective surveillance system, but the lack of consistent, widespread access to testing within and between states complicates the meaningful interpretation of data at the state and national levels, it says. State-level data do not always include critical elements, such as the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, nor additional important demographic information such as age, gender, race/ethnicity and location. The report recommends a national standardized approach to coronavirus surveillance. With the fall influenza season approaching, federal, state, local and territorial health officials need to begin now to determine strategies for coordinating surveillance for both COVID-19 and influenza, it says.
Internet cut off in Ethiopia amid outcry over death of singer-activist - CNN
Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa.
(CNN)Internet access was cut across Ethiopia on Tuesday amid national protests over the shooting death of singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa. Hachalu, a prominent figure in the Oromo ethnic group, was shot Monday night at the Gelan Condominiums area of the capital Addis Ababa, according to state broadcaster EBC citing the Addis Ababa police commissioner, Getu Argaw. On Tuesday, images of protesters in the capital and in Oromia region circulated on social media and the US Embassy in Ethiopia released a security alert saying the embassy was "monitoring reports of protests and unrest, including gunfire, throughout Addis Ababa." Demonstrators also protested the singer's death in front of the US embassy, the alert said, describing the situation as "volatile at this time." Netblocks, an internet-monitoring NGO, reported that internet "has been cut across most of Ethiopia from just after 9am local time on Tuesday." Ethiopia's government has previously been accused of shutting down internet and telecommunications services during elections and periods of unrest. Ethio Telecom, the country's only telecoms provider, is a government-owned monopoly. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tweeted condolences to Hachalu's family and friends on Tuesday, adding that an investigation is underway but urged his citizens to keep the peace. The Addis Ababa police commissioner said some suspects in the shooting have been arrested, EBC reports. Hachalu fought for visibility for the Oromo ethnic group, and his songs brought Ethiopia's youth together during years of protests that led to political reforms in the country in 2018, said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. Jackson said authorities must conduct a "prompt, thorough, impartial, independent and effective" probe into the singer's killing and restore internet connection immediately to allow the musician's fans mourn his death. "The authorities should immediately lift the countrywide blanket internet shutdown and allow people to access information and to freely mourn the musician," Jackson said. CNN's Bukola Adebayo contributed to this report.
Mutation could make coronavirus more infectious, study suggests - CNN
Researchers in Florida say they believe they have shown that the new coronavirus has mutated in a way that makes it more easily infect human cells.
In pictures: A Ramadan unlike any other - CNN
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan has begun, and the holiday is set to look much different than it has in years past.
A man attends prayers at the Jame Mosque in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Saturday, April 25. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan has begun, and the holiday is set to look much different than it has in years past. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many Islamic holy sites remain empty, including Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Worshippers are being advised to pray at home. Other mosques are trying to practice social distancing.
Loss of sense of smell may be among the symptoms of coronavirus - CNN
Doctors have reported anecdotally that losing the ability to smell may be among the coronavirus's symptoms -- but how widespread that is, and how long it might last, is unclear.
I'm making a thread for those who have lost their sense of smell and taste due to #COVID19 with all the things I've found helpful. It's an unnerving, miserable symptom and I know I've spent the last two weeks frantically googling it. Hope this is useful to you. Please add to it — Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) April 6, 2020