Scientists from Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have Designed a Rechargeable N95 Mask with a Custom Fit
In the early days of the pandemic, amidst all the uncertainty, one thing was for sure: N95 masks – the personal protective respiratory devices that filter out viruses, bacteria, and wildfire smoke – were in short supply. So when materials scientists Jeff Urban and Peter Hosemann heard that a local HMO needed advice on N95 alternatives, they immediately knew what to do: Make a better mask.
Hosemann got on the phone, and discovered that the HMO’s doctors and supply managers wanted to know what makes an effective antiviral mask, and how they could verify whether the masks they found were actually any good.
“It was helpful to learn what their needs were, and how we could fill in and help support their mission,” said Hosemann, who holds titles of faculty scientist in the Materials Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Ernest S. Kuh Chair in Engineering at UC Berkeley.
“Fortuitously, Peter and I had just joined forces because we had each started working on similar ideas at the lab level,” said Urban, who directs the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility in Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry.
Urban and Hosemann were responding to a Berkeley Lab-wide call for research ideas in support of fighting COVID-19, which ultimately led to their receiving support through the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL), a consortium of DOE national laboratories with core capabilities relevant to the threats posed by COVID-19, and funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“We, like many others, saw the shortcomings in the PPE (personal protective equipment) supply chain and even in the functionality of what was available, so we felt this was an important area to focus on,” Urban said.
When it comes to protecting you from COVID-19 or other viral infections, N95 masks are the gold standard. They are commonly made from tightly woven layers of polypropylene that filter out at least 95% of very small particles in the submicron (millionth of a meter) range, including coronavirus particles and particulate matter from wildfire smoke. This mishmash of fibers generates an electrostatic charge that attracts and traps virus particles.
But despite their excellent filtering efficiency, N95 masks have their limits. For example, experts advise against reusing N95 masks, especially after wearing them the whole day. That’s because when we exhale, we expel moisture from our mouth and lungs – and if we’re wearing an N95 mask for long durations, that moisture eventually wears down the electrostatic charge on the virus-trapping fibers, Urban said.
Experts also say that an effective N95 mask should form a tight yet comfortable seal around your face. Otherwise, even small gaps can give virus particles easy access to your respiratory system through your nose and mouth.
Blueprint for a better N95 mask
Urban and Hosemann say that their joint research effort aims to address such problems with long-term filter efficiency by designing and fabricating a reusable silicone N95 mask with a rechargeable, wire-mesh active filter.
The wire mesh bears an electrostatic charge, which helps to trap and neutralize virus particles, Hosemann explained. “This mesh filter can be recharged, and thus the mask itself can be reusable, a key advantage,” he said. “The ultimate vision is to make a mask with a filter battery cartridge that you could plug in and recharge overnight, like a cell phone.”
To manage problems related to fit and PPE shortages, the scientists are developing a 3D-printable, silicone-cast mold for the body of the mask.
A metal wire incorporated into the silicone cast allows the mask to conform to most faces.
And in the event of a PPE shortage, a 3D-printable mold would allow anyone – from the DIY hobbyist to supply clerks at a school or hospital – to make silicone N95 masks on demand and with short lead times, Hosemann said.
“The combination of 3D printing and casting of simple parts is a powerful way to produce unavailable PPE rapidly if the raw material is available,” he added.
The scientists also designed the silicone masks to interface with commercially available N95 filters or the rechargeable mesh filter.
In designing their reusable mask prototype, the scientists also took into account that N95 masks and filters are often worn while performing manual labor. “If you’re doing physical labor, like a lot of frontline workers, having the ability to breathe more fully without compromising your health would be an important feature for an ideal protective mask,” Urban said.
To test the mask prototype’s impenetrability against small, virus-sized particles, the scientists employed fluorescent particle tests in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Evan Variano, a professor of environmental engineering, and Simo Mäkiharju, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering. The fluorescent particles track particle distribution in and around the fabricated masks, Hosemann said.
The scientists will use the same fluorescent nanoparticle technology for future filter-efficiency tests in collaboration with Bruce Cohen of Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry.
The 3D-printable silicone-casting mold and rechargeable N95 filters are still in the early stages of R&D, but Urban and Hosemann say they are making progress quickly. The scientists are in the process of developing an on-site N95 quality-assessment test for medical industry researchers and hospitals through the Molecular Foundry’s user program.
“It was very inspiring to see how national lab researchers can apply their expertise toward understanding pandemic-related problems, conceptualizing solutions, communicating with future Molecular Foundry users, and delivering prototypes, all within seven months,” said Deepti Tanjore, Berkeley Lab lead for the National Lab-Wide Manufacturing NVBL research effort.
The scientists credit the work of undergraduate student researcher Jason Duckering and research engineer Jeff Bickel in UC Berkeley’s Department of Nuclear Engineering. “Jason’s and Jeff’s engineering skills were instrumental to this effort,” Hosemann said.
The team, including postdoctorate fellows Chaochao Dun and Jaeyoo Choi, built the mask and particle test throughout the pandemic, beginning in March.
“We’re really excited to bring this new N95 user program for the development of rechargeable masks, 3D-printable mask molds, and quality-assessment particle tests to Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry,” Urban said. “It’s nice to know that what we develop is going to have an immediate impact with real applications that could help so many people.”
The Molecular Foundry is a DOE Office of Science user facility located at Berkeley Lab.
This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory: a consortium of DOE National laboratories with core capabilities relevant to the threats posed by COVID-19, and funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The rechargeable mask and mold may be available for non-exclusive, royalty-free licensing under Berkeley Lab’s COVID-19 licensing guidelines; contact email@example.com for additional details. Please note that the mask and mold need additional research and development, and are not currently publicly available or available for purchase.
Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.
Senior Biden officials now say COVID lab leak theory just as plausible as natural origins explanation
UK Intelligence Services Investigating Wuhan Lab Leak Theory As Most Probable
Scientist Advices ‘Not a Huge Deal’ to Wear Masks Forever
“Senior Biden administration officials overseeing an intelligence review into the origins of the coronavirus now believe the theory that the virus accidentally escaped from a lab in Wuhan is at least as credible as the possibility that it emerged naturally in the wild — a dramatic shift from a year ago, when Democrats publicly downplayed the so-called lab leak theory,” CNN reported.
The report stated that even President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, views the accidental COVID lab leak theory as “as equally plausible to the natural origins theory.”
“Intelligence agencies that were skeptical of the lab leak theory a year ago, like the CIA, also now view it as a credible line of inquiry,” a source told CNN.
This is a stark contrast to a year ago when corporate media lambasted anyone simply broaching the lab leak theory as a “conspiracy theorist” and when big tech social media platforms censored users for questioning the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The early narrative in the COVID-19 pandemic was that novel coronavirus emerged from a wet market in Wuhan, China. As more details emerged, many people, including former President Donald Trump, hypothesized that the coronavirus may have originated from a lab, specifically the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) grilled Dr. Anthony Fauci about the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic was a product of gain-of-function research that may have accidentally leaked coronavirus from the Wuhan lab.Read More
A member of the government’s scientific advisory committee, who is allegedly a paid-up communist, has said that wearing masks and social distancing should continue for the “long term” to suppress the Chinese coronavirus and other diseases.
University College London Professor Susan Michie, who according to the British Telegraph and socialist newspaper the Morning Star is a member of the Communist Party of Britain, sits on the influential Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) which advises ministers on how to respond to the pandemic and said that “people’s behaviour” was key in controlling the pandemic.
Professor Michie told Channel 5 on Thursday, according to The Telegraph: “That is the behaviour of social distancing, of when you’re indoors, making sure there’s good ventilation or if it’s not, wearing face masks, of hands and surface hygiene. We will need to keep this going in the long term and that will be good not only for Covid, but also to reduce others [sic] diseases.”
Asked for how long the measures should continue, Professor Michie, who had reportedly earned in her youth the nickname “Stalin’s nanny”, said: “I think forever to some extent because this isn’t going to be the last pandemic.”
Michie, whose brother was best friends with Labour strategist and Stalin apologist Seumas Milne and was married to a former advisor to Jeremy Corbyn, added that Britons should get used to carrying masks the way they carry mobile phones or keys, claiming: “It’s not going to be a huge big deal, the kind of changes we’re talking about.”Read More
Dozens of Houston Methodist employees protested outside the hospital, some of them wielding signs, which read “Vaxx is Venom,” and “Don’t Lose Sight Of Our Rights,” according to a report by the New York Times.
One nurse who led the protest at the hospital said she will not get the vaccine, because it has not been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Houston Methodist Hospital became the first U.S. hospital system to require coronavirus vaccines for employees when it mandated that all staff members get the jab by June 7.
The hospital warned that employees who don’t get vaccinated by the Monday deadline will be placed on a two-week unpaid suspension, adding that it will “initiate the employee termination process” for staffers who are found to still be unvaccinated by the end of their suspensions.
Last month, 117 Houston Methodist Hospital employees filed a lawsuit against the hospital over the vaccine policy, the report adds. The lawsuit argues that the hospital is “forcing its employees to be human ‘guinea pigs’ as a condition for continued employment.”
Hesitancy about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus is not isolated to employees of Houston Methodist Hospital.
A survey conducted in March by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a little more than half of all frontline health care workers said they received at least their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine — despite the fact that health care workers were among the first groups eligible.
The survey also discovered that among the unvaccinated health care workers — who had not decided if they would get the vaccine or answered that they did not plan to — a large majority of them had concerns about potential side-effects, as well as the newness of the vaccine.
Two-thirds of the respondents said they did not trust the government to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines.Read More
Turning Point USA (TPUSA) announced this week that it is launching a nationwide campaign titled No Forced Vax across its network of more than 2,500 high school and university chapters, to fight back against mandated coronavirus vaccinations on campus. TPUSA added that students should not be forced to live in “a medical apartheid.”
“I’m not anti-COVID vaccination, and I’m not pro-COVID vaccination — I’m vaccine agnostic. But I am 100% against mandating the COVID vaccination,” said TPUSA founder Charlie Kirk in a statement on Tuesday.Read More
Monkeypox “typically begins with flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes and progresses to a widespread rash on the face and body. Most infections last 2-4 weeks. Monkeypox is in the same family of viruses as smallpox but causes a milder infection,” the CDC reported in a news release.
The CDC noted that infections involving the strain of monkeypox that this individual contracted are deadly in about 1 in 100 people, though rates can be higher in individuals with weakened immune systems.
On July 8-9, the individual flew aboard a flight from Nigeria to Atlanta and then took another flight from Atlanta to Dallas.
The CDC said that the danger of transmission through respiratory droplets aboard those flights is thought to be low due to COVID-19-related mask requirements.
“Travelers on these flights were required to wear masks as well as in the U.S. airports due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it’s believed the risk of spread of monkeypox via respiratory droplets to others on the planes and in the airports is low,” according to the CDC.
Less than two decades ago in 2003 there was a Monkeypox outbreak among humans in the U.S. after the illness “spread from imported African rodents to pet prairie dogs,” the CDC noted.Read More
YouTube has reinstated a video it censored of a school board meeting in Lake Forest, Illinois, which featured several concerned parents speaking out against mask mandates on their children.
“Upon further review, we’re reinstating the Lake Forest School District’s video,” a YouTube spokesperson told Breitbart News. “We have policies in place to allow content that might otherwise violate our policies as long as it includes educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic (EDSA) context.”Read More
Social media giant Facebook has announced that it will now be “reducing the distribution” of individual accounts that share misinformation across its platform, even as the Masters of the Universe and their army of “fact-checkers” struggle with the definition of misinformation on topics such as the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Verge reports that in yet another attempt to crack down on misinformation on the platform, Facebook has announced that it will not only make posts containing misinformation less visible but will actually limit the visibility of individuals users who share them. Making a user less visible to others based on their posts is very similar to shadowbanning.
Facebook has previously employed a number of other methods to crack down on misinformation, including working with “fact checkers” and employing moderators. Now the company plans to bury the accounts of users that share posts that it considers misleading.
“Starting today, we will reduce the distribution of all posts in News Feed from an individual’s Facebook account if they repeatedly share content that has been rated by one of our fact-checking partners,” the company wrote in a press release.
Posts the company believes are misleading are already downranked in Facebook’s News Feed, but now it appears that the company will be taking action against users who share alleged “misinformation.” Of course, this could mean that users that unwittingly share posts containing misinformation could unknowingly have their accounts buried on the platform.Read More
YouTube, the Google-owned video platform, blocked a news clip of a mother in Georgia objecting to mask mandates for children, according to reports from Grabien Media founder Tom Elliott.
Grabien is a popular video clipping service that provides news clips and other material to media outlets. Its founder, Tom Elliott, slammed YouTube for censoring his clip.Read More
Intelligence agencies in the United Kingdom are reportedly working with the United States to investigate the theory that the Chinese coronavirus pandemic leaked from a laboratory.
The former head of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), Sir Richard Dearlove, said that the question of a lab leak has become an “intelligence issue” in which British spies may need to “incentivize” defectors within the communist country to come forward and reveal the truth of the origin of the Wuhan virus.
A senior Whitehall security source told the Daily Telegraph — a newspaper with close ties to the ruling Conservative government — that British intelligence investigators are working alongside their American counterparts to uncover the real origin of the pandemic.
“We are contributing what intelligence we have on Wuhan, as well as offering to help the American to corroborate and analyze any intelligence they have that we can assist with,” said the source.
“What is required to establish the truth behind the coronavirus outbreak is well-sourced intelligence rather than informed analysis, and that is difficult to come by.”
Sir Richard Dearlove, who has been a vocal proponent of the idea that the virus emanated from the Wuhan laboratory, said that many scientists refrained from backing the idea out of fear of appearing to side with former President Donald Trump.
“Nobody wanted to associate themselves with Trump, and now you’ve got Biden they’ve all literally switched sides,” Sir Richard said, adding: “Now, suddenly, the dam has broken.”
“I sent this material to Porton Down a year ago and what infuriates me is that a year ago people refused to listen to us. Over the last year anyone who thought that has been accused of being a conspiracy theorist, and told you don’t know what you’re talking about.”Read More
On Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted that the administration is identifying posts to Facebook that contain “misinformation” about coronavirus vaccines and is in “regular touch” with the Masters of the Universe. Psaki specifically admitted that the administration is flagging “problematic” posts to Facebook.
“We are in regular touch with the social media platforms and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff and also members of our COVID-19 team,” Psaki told reporters, adding “his is a big issue, of misinformation, specifically on the pandemic.”
“We’ve increased disinformation research and tracking within the Surgeon General’s Office. We are flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”
Psaki’s comments followed demands from Surgeon General Vivek Murthy for social media companies to clamp down on alleged misinformation about the pandemic and coronavirus vaccines.
“Health misinformation has led people to resist wearing masks in high-risk settings. It’s led them to turn down proven treatments and to choose not to get vaccinated. This has led to avoidable illnesses and deaths,” warned Murthy.
Facebook, along with other major tech companies, has cracked down on a wide swathe of constitutionally protected speech about the coronavirus and vaccines. In March of this year, it censored a Wall Street Journal op-ed from a Johns Hopkins surgeon who argued that the United States would likely achieve herd immunity against the virus by April.
The social network also bans so-called misinformation about coronavirus vaccines, despite the fact that Mark Zuckerberg himself has expressed concerns about the unknown long-term side effects of vaccines that can modify DNA and RNA. Zuckerberg’s comments came to light in a leaked video published by undercover journalists at Project Veritas in February.
In an implicit recognition that the facts around the coronavirus are not settled, Facebook earlier this year reversed its position on discussion of the theory that coronavirus is a man-made virus that potentially leaked from a lab.
The open admission that the White House coordinates censorship with Facebook will likely be welcomed by lawyers for Donald Trump, whose recently-announced lawsuit against the tech giants in part rests on claims that social media companies colluded with government bureaucrats and politicians to suppress his speech on their platforms.
Another lawsuit, brought by Harmeet Dhillon’s Liberty Center on behalf of pro-Trump activist Rogan O’Handley, also makes the public-private collusion argument, presenting evidence that Twitter colluded with the government of California to suppress political speech.Read More
Facebook got it wrong. They’ve got it wrong on many other occasions and will get it wrong on many future occasions, of course, but this time is different — they’ve admitted they got it wrong.
The company recently backtracked on a longstanding policy of coronavirus-related censorship, saying it would no longer remove claims that the virus is man-made or lab manufactured.
As Breitbart News’s Simon Kent reported, this occurred on the same day that President Biden ordered intelligence agencies to increase efforts to discover the cause of the virus:
The policy change came on the same day President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to “redouble their efforts” to investigate the origin of the virus, despite ending a State Department investigation under former President Donald Trump seeking the same goal, as Breitbart News reported.
Facebook released a memo detailing its new stance, pointing to “ongoing investigations” as reason for its change of heart while adding the proviso other restrictions remain.
Conservative media has also been investigating the “lab leak hypothesis,” the theory that the Wuhan coronavirus originated in a lab, and most likely spread as a result of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology since the beginnings of the pandemic in 2020. The Trump administration investigated the possibility that the virus originated in a Chinese bioweapons lab, via a State Department investigation.
Yet the mainstream media, in collusion with the tech giants, did everything it could to close off this line of inquiry. In January 2020, at the very start of the outbreak, Twitter blacklisted an entire news organization, ZeroHedge, for investigating links between the Wuhan Institute and the virus (the ban, which Twitter initially said was permanent, was later reversed).
Only now, after approval from the Biden administration, is Big Tech backtracking.
But what about all the people who were censored? What about all the people who were banned? Is Facebook going to apologize to them? Is it going to reinstate the banned accounts?
Probably not, because one of the new rules of Silicon Valley appears to be: you aren’t allowed to be right before the media and Democrats are. You have to wait for them to catch up — and only then can you discuss the likely truth without the risk of censorship.Read More
Author Naomi Wolf, until recently known primarily for her left-wing feminist views, has been banned from Twitter for “vaccine misinformation.”
Wolf has been alienating fellow progressives in recent months by questioning lockdowns and mandatory vaccinations. According to reports on Twitter, Wolf says the platform banned for quoting from a Republican state senator’s press release announcing a ban on vaccine passports in Oregon.Read More
Twitter locked the account of the National File, a national populist news website, for reporting on a tweet from Tami Burages, a woman who says her 13-year old nephew died three days after receiving a second dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. Twitter later said the account had been locked in error and reinstated it.
According to a Twitter spokesman, the platform took enforcement action on the National File’s account in error. That action has been reversed and the account has been reinstated.
The National File’s report was about Twitter user Tami Burages, who said her teenage nephew had died shortly after receiving a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Our family is devastated,” said Burages “I struggled with putting this out on twitter. I am pro-vaccine. We vaccinated my own 14-year-old son as soon as it was available. I know it is *mostly safe*. But Jacob is dead now.”
Our family is devastated.
I struggled with putting this out on twitter. I am pro-vaccine. We vaccinated my own 14-year-old son as soon as it was available.
I know it is *mostly safe*.
But Jacob is dead now.
— Tami Burages (@tburages) June 20, 2021
“I do believe that the vaccine is saving millions of lives,” continued Burages subsequent tweets. “But should any innocent child be a sacrificial lamb in this endeavor? There are moral, ethical and health questions that need to be answered. If Jacob had not received the 2nd shot, we believe he would be alive today.”
I do believe that the vaccine is saving millions of lives. But should any innocent child be a sacrificial lamb in this endeavor? There are moral, ethical and health questions that need to be answered.
If Jacob had not received the 2nd shot, we believe he would be alive today.
— Tami Burages (@tburages) June 20, 2021
Saying parents should be “warned of the risk,” Burages called on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to investigate.
Tom Pappert, editor-in-chief of the National File, condemned Twitter for censoring his website’s reporting.
“Twitter’s censorship here is as repugnant as it is ridiculous,” said Pappert. “National File does not publish medical misinformation. We published a report containing direct quotes from a woman who – using Twitter – expressed concern about the death of her 13-year-old nephew, Jacob Clynick, which occurred after he received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.”Read More
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and several other Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday to codify a Trump-era virus control protocol that allows U.S. border authorities to remove migrants quickly in the interest of public health.
Invoked by the Trump administration in March 2020 and kept in place by President Joe Biden, the measure, known as Title 42, aims to stem the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.Read More
Vaccinated visitors to Disney World and Disneyland will no longer have to wear masks starting Tuesday in most areas of the theme parks.
The Orlando park will still require face coverings in some places, including on Disney transportation methods such as buses, monorails, and the Skyliner, a gondola lift system. Guests who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to wear masks in all indoor locations.
“We’re not quite ready to bring back everything yet, but we are optimistic and look forward to the day when Disney pals and princesses are able to hug once again,” the company said.
DESANTIS SIGNS PROPERTY INSURANCE BILL, SAYS FLORIDA LAWMAKERS ‘MUST DO MORE’ TO LOWER COSTS
Disney World will also relax some of its protocols on social distancing, expanding capacity in places such as shops, restaurants, attraction boarding, transportation, and theaters, the company said in a release.
Some experiences and entertainment options may remain unavailable or with limited capacity for the time being, though the company did not specify which attractions. The park will continue maintaining its “high standards” for cleanliness and will keep hand sanitizer stations in place for guests.Read More
Comedian and former Daily Show host Jon Stewart was one of the first guests back on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday night, and he made his views fully known on what he believes to be the origins of the novel coronavirus: the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
After some preliminary “welcome back to real life” comments and questions, Stewart expressed fully his understanding that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan. He mocked the concept of animal transmission, joking that pangolins and turtles making out was not the source of the virus that erupted into a global pandemic.
“Uhh, a pangolin kissed a turtle? …Or maybe a bat flew into the cloaca of a turkey and then it sneezed into my chili and now we all have coronavirus?” Stewart joked.
Novavax Inc on Monday reported late-stage data from its U.S.-based clinical trial showing its vaccine is more than 90% effective against COVID-19 across a variety of variants of the virus.
The study of nearly 30,000 volunteers in the United States and Mexico puts Novavax on track to file for emergency authorization in the United States and elsewhere in the third quarter of 2021, the company said.
Novavax’s protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate was more than 93% effective against the predominant variants of COVID-19 that have been of concern among scientists and public health officials, Novavax said.
Protein-based vaccines are a conventional approach that use purified pieces of the virus to spur an immune response and vaccines again whooping cough and shingles employ this approach.
During the trial, the B.1.1.7 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom became the most common variant in the United States, it said.
Novavax also detected variants of COVID-19 first found in Brazil, South Africa and India among its trial participants, Novavax’s head of research and development, Dr. Gregory Glenn, told Reuters.
The vaccine was 91% effective among volunteers at high risk of severe infection and 100% effective in preventing moderate and severe cases of COVID-19. It was roughly 70% effective against COVID-19 variants that Novavax was unable to identify, Glenn said.Read More
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is holding an “emergency meeting” this week, June 18, to discuss cases of heart inflammation disorders among young people after receiving a vaccine for the Chinese coronavirus.
A CDC presentation via the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) detailed the preliminary findings in a slideshow presentation on vaccine safety updates for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although it notes the findings and conclusions “do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
One of the topics covered was the emergence of myocarditis and pericarditis following mRNA vaccinations, reporting 475 cases in patients younger than 30.
However, according to the presentation, 226 of the 475 case reports actually “meet CDC working case definition; follow-up and review are in progress for remaining reports.”
“[Two hundred eighty five] of 475 case reports had known disposition at the time of report review,” the report reads, noting that 270 patients have been discharged, and 15 are still hospitalized, with three remaining in the intensive care unit.
“It’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison because, again, these are preliminary reports,” Dr. Tom Shimabukuro, a CDC vaccine safety official, said. “Not all these will turn out to be true myocarditis or pericarditis reports.”Read More
The United States has now lost over 600,000 mothers, fathers, children, siblings and friends to COVID-19, a painful reminder that death, sickness and grief continue even as the country begins to return to something resembling pre-pandemic normal.
A bride forced by the pandemic to have a Zoom wedding is planning a lavish in-person anniversary celebration this summer, but all of the guests must attest they are vaccinated.
A Houston artist, still deep in grief, is working on a collage of images of people who died in her community. Others crowd theaters and bars, saying it is time to move on.
“There will be no tears – not even happy tears,” said Ali Whitman, who will celebrate her first wedding anniversary in August by donning her gown and partying with 240 vaccinated friends and family members in New Hampshire.
COVID-19 nearly killed her mother. She spent her wedding day last year with 13 people in person while an aunt conducted the ceremony via Zoom.
“I would be remiss not to address how awful and how terrible the past year has been, but also the gratitude that I can be in a singular place with all the people in my life who mean so much to me,” said Whitman, 30.
The United States passed 600,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, about 15% of the world’s total coronavirus fatalities of around 4 million, a Reuters tally shows.
The rate of severe illness and death has dropped dramatically as more Americans have become vaccinated, creating something of a psychological whiplash that plagues the millions whose lives have been touched by the disease. Many are eager to emerge from more than a year of sickness and lockdown, yet they still suffer – from grief, lingering symptoms, economic trauma or the isolation of lockdown.Read More
A report on the origins of COVID-19 by a U.S. government national laboratory concluded that the hypothesis of a virus leak from a Chinese lab in Wuhan is plausible and deserves further investigation, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday, citing people familiar with the classified document.
The study was prepared in May 2020 by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and was referred to by the State Department when it conducted an inquiry into the pandemic’s origins during the final months of the Trump administration, the WSJ report said.
Lawrence Livermore’s assessment drew on a genomic analysis of the COVID-19 virus, the Journal said. Lawrence Livermore declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report.
President Joe Biden said last month he had ordered aides to find answers to the origin of the virus. read more
U.S. intelligence agencies are considering two likely scenarios – that the virus resulted from a laboratory accident or that it emerged from human contact with an infected animal – but they have not come to a conclusion, Biden said.
A still-classified U.S. intelligence report circulated during former President Donald Trump’s administration alleged that three researchers at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became so ill in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, U.S. government sources have said.
U.S. officials have accused China of not being transparent about the virus’ origins, a charge Beijing has denied.
Separately, Mike Ryan, a top World Health Organization official said on Monday the WHO cannot compel China to divulge more data on COVID-19’s origins, while adding it will propose studies needed to take understanding of where the virus emerged to the “next level”Read More
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that Dr. Anthony Fauci was aware of and briefed world leaders on the potential virus leak from a Wuhan, China lab a year ago.
Gottlieb told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that a senior official in former President Donald Trump’s administration had informed him there was suspicion that the strain “looked unusual,” which prompted Fauci to address the possibility that it had leaked from a research laboratory in Wuhan.
Gottlieb added that Fauci briefed leaders about the possibility:
“Well, I was told at that time, back in the spring, that Dr. Fauci had gone over to a meeting of world health leaders in Europe and actually briefed them on the information that they were looking at, that this could have been a potential lab leak, that this strain looked unusual,” Gottlieb replied. “I think early on, when they looked at the strain, they had suspicions. And it takes time to do that analysis, and that dispelled some of those suspicions.”
Fauci has been under fire after thousands of his emails were made public by a Freedom of Information Act request, with some emails revealing that Fauci was briefed about the lab leak theory early on in the pandemic. Despite his knowledge of the possibility, Fauci continued to deny the leak theory’s scientific validity in public appearances.
“If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Fauci said in May of last year.
But Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Rand Paul, a consistent critic of Fauci’s, have insisted the doctor should step down and accused him of misleading the public.
“It’s time to fire Fauci! Emails that have been released now under Freedom of Information Act show two very important things: 1. FAUCI has been lying 2. I’ve been right all along,” Paul said after Fauci’s emails were released. “Stand with me today while we keep showing the way.”Read More
People who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus no longer need to wear masks while indoors or outdoors or physical distance in either large or small gatherings, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced during a White House COVID-19 briefing Thursday.
Fully vaccinated individuals are still advised to wear masks while in crowded indoor settings such as while on public transportation and in hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
“We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” Walensky said. “Based on the continuing downward trajectory of cases, the scientific data on the performance of our vaccines and our understanding of how the virus spreads, that moment has come for those who are fully vaccinated.”Read More
Anew report reveals that several workers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology became ill and may have even been hospitalized about a month before COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan.
The State Department acknowledged in January 2021 the “United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019.” It found that they’d experienced symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 “and common seasonal illness.”
While classified as a “common seasonal illness,” other sources indicate that the infections may have actually been quite serious:
But on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal, citing a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report, went further and said these workers required hospital care. The report said it was not entirely unusual for people in China to visit hospitals instead of primary care physicians, but the report could lend weight to the theory that the coronavirus leaked from a laboratory.
The story comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has at times dismissed the “lab leak theory,” made waves when he acknowledged he was “not convinced” that the virus was spread naturally.
“I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.,” Fauci said.
But Fauci wasn’t always willing to entertain the idea of the virus originating in a lab. “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated. … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species,” Fauci said in May 2020.
China has continued to deny that the pandemic causing virus originated from a lab, even going so far as to promote conspiracy theories that the virus was brought into China by overseas frozen seafood shipments.Read More
Apart from the 4th of July, nothing makes me feel as patriotic as the idea of people being lured into getting vaccinated against a disease they have like a one-in-5,000 chance of dying from by a one-in-four-million chance of winning a jackpot.
Truly we are a nation of Homer Simpsons.
Whatever works, though. Whatever works.
State health officials said Monday that more than 25,400 Covid-19 vaccine shots were administered Friday, two days after the program was announced, making it the highest vaccination day in three weeks.
Maybe more telling were the people who got vaccinated. Vaccinations for residents ages 30 to 74 spiked by 6 percent after weeks of steady decline.
“Not only have we achieved our goal of increasing public awareness and interest, but we have slowed what was a consistent decline, and in certain age groups we’re seeing an increase again,” state Health Director Stephanie McCloud said. “This is doing exactly what we intended it to do.”
I wrote about the Ohio vaccine lottery last week after it was announced but the official webpage is now available. If you’re a Buckeye and you’re vaccinated, note that you need to sign up. The state won’t automatically register you via your vaccination records. A question, meanwhile: How confident should we be that it’s the lottery, not some other vagary of the vax effort, that led to Ohio’s recent uptick?Read More
Back in early 2020, the Washington Post’s alleged fact checker Glenn Kessler declared the Wuhan lab leak theory bunk on numerous occasions. The entirety of the media (and Dr. Fauci) rejected the lab leak hypothesis right off the bat, seemingly on the sole basis that President Donald Trump had floated it.
“Renewed questions about the virus’s origin brought a rush of alternative theories. Some claimed the virus was a bioweapon. Others suggested it had been altered for a scientific experiment or was simply a viral sample that escaped from a lab. Let’s be clear: No scientist we spoke to thinks the new coronavirus was designed as a bioweapon” Kessler wrote last spring.
When mocked by Sen. Ted Cruz for “abandoning all presentences of journalism to produce CCP propaganda,” Kessler fired back that “We deal in facts, and viewers can judge for themselves.”Read More
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will pardon anyone in the Sunshine State charged for not wearing masks or socially distancing — breaking the news live on air to a gym-owning couple who were facing jail time for defying coronavirus safety recommendations.
The Republican governor made the unexpected announcement on Fox News Wednesday as he decried county officials penalizing people.
“It’s a total overreach,” he told Laura Ingraham. “These things with health should be advisory, they should not be punitive,” he insisted.
He broke the news of his pardon directly to Mike and Jillian Carnevale, who faced up to 120 days in jail for repeatedly allowing people to forgo masks at their gym in Plantation in Broward County.Read More
As the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic continues into its second year, few aspects of it have become as politically charged as the theories swirling around the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
That lab has been a focus of suspicion since the earliest days of the COVID-19 crisis, primarily because it’s a high-level coronavirus research lab that sits just a few miles from where the Chinese government said the first known outbreak of the disease occurred in an outdoor wet market.
The seemingly improbable coincidence has led to suspicions that a risky coronavirus experiment may have been the source of an accidental leak of the virus from the lab into, first, Wuhan itself, then the wider world.Read More
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered all government entities in the state, including school districts, to lift mask mandates by week’s end, though existing guidelines for face-coverings in schools may remain in effect through June 4.
Abbott’s executive order puts Texas at odds with the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending that students in schools across the United States wear masks for the 2020-2021 academic year because not all will be inoculated against the coronavirus.
Abbott said Texas was making strides against the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccinations, antibody therapeutics and voluntary health-safety practices “utilized by Texans in our communities,” leaving government mask requirements no longer necessary.Read More
“The problem and the issue is that we don’t have any way of knowing who is vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated,” Fauci said during an appearance on Good Morning America.
“I think that’s where the confusion arises because there are some establishments who are saying, ‘Well, I’m going to have people coming into my establishment or my store or what have you. Some are going to be vaccinated, some are not. I’m not going to know the difference,’” he continued.
“Some might be infected and might actually have a risk of infecting someone else,” he added. “And under those circumstances, it’s perfectly reasonable and understandable for the owner of that establishment to say, ‘You know, we’re going to keep the mask mandate up.’Read More
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spurred nationwide confusion when it announced last week that it was overhauling guidance on mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you are fully vaccinated, you can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic,” the CDC said in its updated guidance. “Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
CDC Director Rachel Walensky said: “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physically distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”
So, uh, everything is back to normal, everyone can go maskless if vaccinated? Not by a long shot. Not only do all the state and local laws apply (don’t forget tribal regulations), but every business and office building and sports venue can have its own rules, too.
Former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams says the CDC blew the rollout.Read More
As an advocate of masking throughout much of the pandemic — especially indoors, and especially pre-vaccine — I was nevertheless struck by the fanaticism of certain fellow maskers, for whom wearing at least one face covering seemed more like a religious ritual than a common sense courtesy. Bizarrely, as the pandemic has begun coming to an end in the United States thanks to three safe and effective vaccines, many these people have dug in their heels, as if they are so committed to “science” that they don’t want normalcy to return. It’s hard to diagnose exactly what is motivating this outspoken subgroup; some of it may be a manifestation of various neuroses. Some of it may be an addiction to being obedient to powers that be (so long as the powers that be are telling them things that align with their self-created dogma). Some of it may be clinging to a sense of superiority over others, along with the accompanying scolding and hectoring. And for those who’ve felt empowered in some way over the past 14 months, some of it may be a desire to maintain that power.
Regardless, it’s been hard to miss the dead-enders. They’re the ones who’ve fought virtually every sensible and data-based effort to loosen restrictions, even well after the science clearly justified changes. They’ve raged at people who wanted to safely reopen schools, shouted at passers-by for not masking up outdoors, and flooded into social media comment sections to declare ‘blood on the hands’ of anyone who’s dared to violate the tenets of their faith, no matter how justified the ‘violation.’ Today, they’re the folks quaking in fear over, or angrily denouncing, the CDC’s belated decision to treat vaccinated people like…they’re vaccinated. The emergence of this cohort (seemingly disproportionately represented among white coastal progressives) became so unavoidable that even some center-left media covered the phenomenon, perhaps most prominently in a recent piece in The Atlantic entitled, “The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown:”Read More
In an interview with Good Morning America Tuesday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted to having continued to wear a mask indoors for appearance’s sake, not based on the science surrounding the protection of the vaccine.
Responding to questions on how the new mask mandates have changes his own personal mask wearing tendencies, Fauci responded, “I’m obviously careful because I’m a physician and a healthcare provider. I am now much more comfortable in people seeing me indoors without a mask.
“Before the CDC made the recommendation change,” Fauci admitted, “I didn’t want to look like I was giving mixed signals. But being a fully vaccinated person, the chances of my getting infected in an indoor setting is extremely low, and that’s the reason why in indoor settings now, I feel comfortable about not wearing a mask because I’m fully vaccinated,” Fauci continued, speaking to the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.Read More
Over the weekend, Texas reported reaching the milestone of zero deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since March 2020. Arizona, Minnesota, and Massachusetts also recently reported COVID death-free days for the first time in months.
State of play: Other states also posted positive COVID metrics at the top of the week while COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. fell to their lowest in nearly 14 months, Reuters reported.
Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free
Maryland reported its lowest new daily COVID-19 cases since the end of March 2020, the Baltimore Sun reported. Virginia also posted its lowest rate of new cases since the beginning of the pandemic, the Virginian-Pilot wrote.
Of course, expect this to spark more political debates about how individual states have handled mask mandates and reopening. As Newsweek pointed out, in March, Biden called Texas’ leaders reopening plan “neanderthal thinking.”
And it’s important to remember, plenty of states are still battling to get their case counts down. Alabama, Colorado and Michigan have the most cases per capita in the nation.Read More
The United States Senate on Monday joined a large swath of the nation in taking off their masks inside the senate chamber thanks to last week’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks.
“I think it’s just kind of the CDC guidance,” said Sen. John Thune , R-S.D., told The Hill Monday.
According to the report, most members in the upper chamber, including leadership on both sides of the aisle, shed their masks as they returned for a procedural vote.
The CDC announced last week that anyone who has been “completely” vaccinated from COVID-19 can now stop wearing masks and socially distancing from other fully vaccinated people indoors.
The report said that most Republicans did not wear masks in the senate, but Democrats were “more evenly split” in donning the protective face coverings.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., quipped that he was “free at last” while leaving the chamber mask less.
Meanwhile in the lower chamber, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., seems in no rush to end that body’s mask mandate.
Last Thursday, Pelosi said her chamber would keep its mandate despite the new CDC guidelines, Business Insider reported.
When a reporter asked the speaker about the new guidance and ending the mandate, Pelosi said definitively “no.”Read More
More than 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines will likely be available in India between August to December this year, a top government advisor said on Thursday.
Those doses would include 750 million of AstraZeneca’s, vaccine, produced in India by the Serum Institute of India, as well as 550 million doses of Covaxin, made by Bharat Biotech, government advisor V K Paul told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.Read More
Michigan’s Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer may soon be forced to turn over documents relating to her administration’s COVID-19 nursing home policy. On Thursday, the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee voted to subpoena nursing home records from the state’s health department, the Detroit News reported, in an effort to get a clearer picture of how Whitmer’s policies impacted the COVID-19 death rate in Michigan adult and long-term care facilities.
“Oversight Chairman Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, said he had requested documents from the Department of Health and Human Services on March 2, but two months later, officials hadn’t released any records to him,” the Detroit News noted. “McBroom said he’s looking for communications among state health department employees about policies for nursing homes and other long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.”Read More