Eugène-Louis Boudin Beach at Étretat 1890
A full page ad in the Wall Street Journal paid for by the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here’s Biden on the world stage again. He’s not only embarrassing America in his every waking hour, he’s doing it while asleep.
— First Words (@unscriptedmike) August 28, 2021
WATCH: Big rally for freedom happening in Paris.
“No pass! No social credit!” reads one sign.
— Election Wizard (@ElectionWiz) August 28, 2021
So what happened? Well, we vaccinated everyone…
Coronavirus infections in England are now 26 times the levels that were experienced this time last year, according to the Office for National Statistics. Scientists described the figures as “sobering”. They warned that the reopening of schools in England this week was likely to trigger further rises in Covid cases – with more to follow when students return to universities and colleges. A fresh wave of infections could, in turn, lead to new social restrictions being imposed as winter approaches. As a result, pressure is mounting on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to approve the deployment of booster jabs for vulnerable people and the extension of vaccinations to most 12- to 15-year-olds.
The latter move would bring the UK into line with the US and most large European nations and is backed by most ministers. Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at Reading University, said that in the week ending 20 August, the ONS estimated that 756,900 people in England were infected with Covid-19, which equated to one person in 70. “This time last year, the ONS estimated that 28,200 people in England were infected. That is the equivalent of one person in 1,900 being infected with Covid-19. That means that community infections are 26 times more common now than they were a year ago, when the population was unvaccinated and the country was three months into its reopening.”
The fact that deaths and hospital admissions from Covid-19 are a fraction of their levels in August 2020 demonstrates the protective power of the vaccines – more than 60% of the UK population has had two jabs. “The last time infections were at their current level in England was late January,” said Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at the Open University. “There were around 2,300 daily hospital admissions and 1,100 deaths a day then. By contrast, the most recent daily figures for England are about 770 hospital admissions and about 80 deaths.”
“People who never develop symptoms during a “breakthrough” infection carry very low levels of virus..”
Waning immunity and ferocious contagion are known to be fueling the troubling surge in “breakthrough” COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people. But a new UC San Francisco analysis of 1,373 Bay Area cases reveals a third, and more ominous, problem: The coronavirus is learning to outsmart our immune system. Variants with antibody-resistant mutations are playing an ever-larger role in our highly vaccinated region’s pandemic, according to research by prominent virologist Dr. Charles Chiu. His team found that 78% of infections in fully vaccinated people among the study were caused by variants with these mutations, compared to 48% of the cases among unvaccinated people, who remained an easier target for earlier generations of the virus. Overall, the proportion of cases linked to these variants more than doubled between February and June.
The findings add to a growing list of studies that are unraveling why the vaccinated are still so susceptible to infection — and provide a deeper understanding of what we may encounter in the future. Vaccinated people are still much more protected from serious illness, hospitalization and death than unvaccinated people, the study confirmed. “But I worry that as long as the virus is circulating, it will continue to mutate and evolve, which will, in turn, allow it to continue spreading,” he said. The study suggests that new iterations of the virus will likely become even more resistant, over time, “until, eventually, you’re going to see the vaccine not work, or its efficacy will be reduced significantly,” he said. Our vaccines won’t suddenly become useless, he added. So far, it appears to be a gradual process. The resistant variants will slowly dominate over time, he predicted.
The team’s second major finding was more reassuring: People who never develop symptoms during a “breakthrough” infection carry very low levels of virus – a finding that should ease concerns that vaccinated people are unknowingly fueling the pandemic. However, vaccinated people who do have symptoms had the same levels of virus as infected unvaccinated people – so can spread the virus. This confirms a finding first revealed weeks ago by a CDC study in Provincetown, Massachusetts. “You’re essentially as infectious as someone who was unvaccinated,” he said. [..] Vaccination is not to be blamed for the increase in variants with these mutations, Chiu said. Because we naturally produce antibodies in response to exposure and infection, the virus is constantly changing to survive. “The virus is going to evolve to become antibody resistant, whether or not you deploy a vaccine,” he said. “But because we have a vaccine, there’s a way to prevent the virus from spreading and evolving further.”
“Fully vaccinated were more likely than unvaccinated persons to be infected by variants carrying mutations associated with decreased antibody neutralization [..] but not by those associated with increased infectivity..”
Associations between vaccine breakthrough cases and infection by SARS coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants have remained largely unexplored. Here we analyzed SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequences and viral loads from 1,373 persons with COVID-19 from the San Francisco Bay Area from February 1 to June 30, 2021, of which 125 (9.1%) were vaccine breakthrough infections. Fully vaccinated were more likely than unvaccinated persons to be infected by variants carrying mutations associated with decreased antibody neutralization (L452R, L452Q, E484K, and/or F490S) (78% versus 48%, p = 1.96e-08), (L452R and/or N501Y) (85% versus 77%, p = 0.092). Differences in viral loads were non-significant between unvaccinated and fully vaccinated persons overall (p = 0.99) and according to lineage (p = 0.09 – 0.78).
Viral loads were significantly higher in symptomatic as compared to asymptomatic vaccine breakthrough cases (p < 0.0001), and symptomatic vaccine breakthrough infections had similar viral loads to unvaccinated infections (p = 0.64). In 5 cases with available longitudinal samples for serologic analyses, vaccine breakthrough infections were found to be associated with low or undetectable neutralizing antibody levels attributable to immunocompromised state or infection by an antibody-resistant lineage. These findings suggest that vaccine breakthrough cases are preferentially caused by circulating antibody-resistant SARS-CoV-2 variants, and that symptomatic breakthrough infections may potentially transmit COVID-19 as efficiently as unvaccinated infections, regardless of the infecting lineage.
60,000 IU per day.
COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus has created an unprecedented hardship in the recent times1,2. Serious consequences of COVID-19 were attributed to the immune dysregulation leading to the enhanced production of pro inflammatory mediators (cytokine storm). In the absence of a specific vaccine or a treatment, strategies to minimize the effects of COVID-19 have become extremely important. Recent observational studies have reported that the patients with higher levels of serum vitamin D (vit.D) had less severe symptoms and vice versa and have postulated the usefulness of vit.D in prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The beneficial effects of vit.D in COVID-19 were attributed to be mediated through its multiple actions on the immune system.
Vit.D is known to enhance the production of various anti-microbial peptides by the immune cells and vit.D modulates the immune system according to the internal milieu. It reduces the dysregulated production of self-damaging pro-inflammatory cytokines and promotes the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines by immune cells. The dynamic role of vit.D can be of immense value in the context of immune dysfunction observed in COVID-19 patients with cytokine storm and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Though the protective immuno-modulatory effects of vit.D were explored in many autoimmune diseases and respiratory tract infections, there is a dearth of information from the randomised clinical trials in COVID-19.
Pulse D therapy is a targeted approach to increase the serum vit.D level by using high dose (60,000 IUs) oral supplementation of vit.D daily for a specific period of time determined by the individual’s BMI, initial level of vit.D and the formulation19. This study aims to objectively investigate the role of vit.D and the impact of Pulse D therapy in reducing the inflammatory biomarkers of COVID-19.
Anyone seen any vit. D campaigns yet?
Hospitalized COVID-19 patients are far more likely to die or to end up in severe or critical condition if they are vitamin D-deficient, Israeli researchers have found. In a study conducted in a Galilee hospital, 26 percent of vitamin D-deficient coronavirus patients died, while among other patients the figure was at 3%. “This is a very, very significant discrepancy, which represents a big clue that starting the disease with very low vitamin D leads to increased mortality and more severity,” Dr. Amir Bashkin, endocrinologist and part of the research team, told The Times of Israel. For much of the pandemic, many scientists have suggested that the so-called sunshine vitamin may help people fight the disease. The new study represents one of the most compelling pieces of supporting research yet.
“In short, after conducting this study I would say to people that during this pandemic, you certainly want to make sure that you have adequate vitamin D, because if you contract the coronavirus it will help you,” said Dr. Amiel Dror, who led the research. He analyzed data on 1,176 patients admitted to the Galilee Medical Center, 253 of whom had vitamin D levels on record, for a study that has been published online but not yet been peer-reviewed. Half of those with recorded levels were vitamin D-deficient. “We were very interested to see just what a big difference this made, with these patients some 14 times more likely, on average, to end up in severe or critical condition,” said Dror, who, like Bashkin, is a physician at Galilee Medical Center, as well as a researcher at Bar Ilan University.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the association between vitamin D levels and the SARS-CoV-2 infection, and they have produced mixed results. Most of them measured vitamin D levels once patients were already sick, which can complicate interpretation of the results. Israel’s centralized health record-keeping has allowed Bar Ilan researchers to easily access patient vitamin levels that are on record from before infection. This data led to an important study that lauded vitamin D’s prospects for fighting the disease last year, as well as the new study.
“This study is important because of the results, because of the fact that it uses data from before admission, and also because we were careful to isolate all factors like age and diabetes,” Dror said. “We saw that vitamin D deficiency is an independent factor that significantly influences the status of the patient.” Dror added that the fact that such a large proportion of patients were vitamin D-deficient in Israel, despite the abundance of sunshine, highlights the value of people around the world monitoring and potentially boosting their levels.
They’re the figures that have ruled our lives for the past 18 months; decided our freedoms; deepened our fears. The Covid dashboard published on the UK Government website has offered the public a window into the state of the UK’s epidemic, displaying daily Covid cases, hospitalisations and deaths, both nationally and regionally, since April 2020. Some people have avoided looking at the figures – published at 4pm every day, including weekends. But a surprising number of us have become secretly addicted to poring over them. Back in January, the dashboard attracted 76 million views in a single day. In more recent months, the dashboard has offered a source of celebration, thanks to the addition of the vaccination tally.
Scientists and politicians alike agree the UK’s Covid dashboard has been a resounding success, allowing the public to draw their own conclusions about the level of threat the virus poses to them. It’s also been a crucial yardstick for how stretched the NHS is, providing exact figures of how many Covid patients are in each hospital around the country. But now, with nearly eight in ten Britons protected against getting seriously ill, thanks to the vaccine, are daily Covid figures still necessary? After all, as Health Secretary Sajid Javid said of the virus earlier this summer: ‘We cannot eliminate it, instead we have to learn to live with it.’ There is growing concern from experts that the endless figures do more harm than good. Some have declared the tally of daily infections ‘completely meaningless’.
‘It shouldn’t really matter how many people are catching the virus – as long as they are protected,’ says Professor Jackie Cassell, public health expert at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Other scientists have warned of the psychological impact of constant reminders of how many people are still catching Covid. ‘There’s a worry, that in the scramble to get out these daily updates, we’re alarming people disproportionately,’ says Professor Robert Dingwall, sociologist at Nottingham Trent University and former Government scientific adviser. ‘People see spikes in the data, and this is often the cause of great anxiety, which might lead them to limit their daily activities unnecessarily.
‘It stops people being able to acclimatise to a post-vaccine world, which is exactly what the jabs were intended to do. And if you look more widely you’ll find the majority of infections are in the younger, festival-going age groups, and didn’t reach the vulnerable or elderly.’ Others argue that the continued obsession over Covid figures overshadows the record-high demands on the NHS.
Journal of Immunology.
CD8+ T cells can potentiate long-lived immunity against COVID-19. We screened longitudinally-sampled convalescent human donors against SARS-CoV-2 tetramers and identified a participant with an immunodominant response against residues 322 to 311 of nucleocapsid (Nuc322–331), a peptide conserved in all variants of concern reported to date. We conducted 38-parameter cytometry by time of flight on tetramer-identified Nuc322–331–specific CD8+ T cells and on CD4+ and CD8+ T cells recognizing the entire nucleocapsid and spike proteins, and took 32 serological measurements. We discovered a coordination of the Nuc322–331–specific CD8+ T response with both the CD4+ T cell and Ab pillars of adaptive immunity.
Over the approximately six month period of convalescence monitored, we observed a slow and progressive decrease in the activation state and polyfunctionality of Nuc322–331–specific CD8+ T cells, accompanied by an increase in their lymph node–homing and homeostatic proliferation potential. These results suggest that following a typical case of mild COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2–specific CD8+ T cells not only persist but continuously differentiate in a coordinated fashion well into convalescence into a state characteristic of long-lived, self-renewing memory.
It reacts to magnets. Welcome to graphene oxide.
A contaminant found in a batch of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccines delivered to Japan is believed to be a metallic particle, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing sources at the health ministry. Japan on Thursday suspended the use of 1.63 million doses shipped to 863 vaccination centres nationwide, more than a week after the domestic distributor, Takeda Pharmaceutical, received reports of contaminants in some vials. NHK, in a report published late on Thursday, cited ministry sources as saying the particle reacted to magnets and was therefore suspected to be a metal. Moderna has described it as “particulate matter” that did not pose a safety or efficacy issue. A health ministry official said the composition of the contaminant has not been confirmed.
In a statement, Takeda said it asked Moderna to investigate the issue and that it would work with the health ministry to replace the affected vaccine supply. News of the contaminant could provide a fresh setback for Japan’s inoculation drive as it struggles to persuade many – particularly young people — to get vaccinated. On Friday, eight more prefectures entered a state of emergency meaning about 80 per cent of Japan’s population is under coronavirus restrictions. The government reported nearly 25,000 new infections and severe cases at a record 2,000 for Thursday. The ministry has said the suspension of the Moderna batches was a precaution but it prompted several Japanese companies to cancel worker vaccinations and the European drugs regulator to launch an investigation.
Airline ANA Holdings Inc said it had secured more Moderna supplies and would resume inoculations on Saturday after a two-day suspension of the shots. Spanish pharma company Rovi, which bottles Moderna vaccines for markets other than the United States, said the contamination could be due to a manufacturing issue on a production line. A spokesperson said the company could not say anything more while it was investigating. Moderna put the lot in question and two adjacent ones on hold. Another health ministry official said it would take “some time” to confirm how many shots from the contaminated batch had been administered in Japan. Kyodo News reported that at least 176,000 shots have been used based on its own tally of figures reported by municipalities.
Conservative commentator and vaccine doubter Alex Berenson has reportedly been permanently suspended from Twitter for violating the social media platform’s COVID-19 misinformation rules. Berenson’s account was banned Saturday after “repeated violations” of the rules, a Twitter spokesperson told NBC News in a statement. Berenson, a one-time New York Times reporter, addressed the suspension in a Saturday night post to his Substack page, blaming his removal from Twitter on a recent post where he was critical of the coronavirus vaccine. “It doesn’t stop infection. Or transmission. Don’t think of it as a vaccine,” the tweet read.
“Think of it — at best — as a therapeutic with a limited window of efficacy and terrible side effect profile that must be dosed IN ADVANCE OF ILLNESS.” Berenson, in his Substack post, defended the tweet in question as “entirely accurate.” In a statement to The Post, the Yale-educated writer and novelist blasted Twitter’s decision. “We have reached a dangerous moment. Social media companies that have audiences which dwarf any other are now actively censoring reporters at the behest of governments,” he said. “I will continue to fight to get out the truth and am considering all legal options.”
In the wire.
Across the hall from his twin daughters’ sun-splashed bedroom, where Mickey Mouse and a menagerie of stuffed animals stand watch from bunk beds, Alex Plitsas typed furiously on his iPhone, relaying encrypted messages to a terrified Afghan family outside the airport at Kabul. The Afghan father had been beaten the previous day by the Taliban, his pregnant wife whipped across the back. Plitsas sent a signal to them to flash to American personnel who would admit them to the airport gate. To the Americans at the airport gate, he relayed a photo of the family, a hollow-eyed selfie. They were just four meters from the gate, an exit from Afghanistan.
Improbably, they had been guided there by Plitsas, an Army veteran and suburban dad standing in stocking feet in a home office in a tidy neighborhood on the other side of the world. He is one of the many players in a crowd-sourcing exercise that, at least for Plitsas, would reach a crescendo Thursday night. An interpreter he helped already had flown to safety. The pregnant woman was under the care of American medics. And a more difficult case, coordinating the rescue of four unaccompanied minors whose plight had been the subject of a CNN story, had found a happy ending. At 11:07 p.m., a text message arrived with a picture of four children and three words: “In the wire.”
The wire was the fence separating the American-controlled portion of Hamid Karzai International Airport from the chaos and carnage of Kabul. On a day when suicide bombers killed 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians outside the airport gate, four kids were saved. There were others, their stories certain to unfold over time. All were beneficiaries of a network of military veterans and others with contacts in Afghanistan. They used social media, off-the-shelf encryption communication apps and satellite maps in what’s been dubbed the “Digital Dunkirk,” a nod to the civilian flotilla that evacuated trapped British troops after the fall of France. As midnight approached, the end of a frenetic 36 hours, Plitsas struggled to explain what he felt. It had been a day of frustration, false starts, grievous losses and scattered gains. Finally, he said, “I could throw up right now.”
Killed by US
"Most victims of #KabulAirportBlast were not killed by the blast but by bullets fired at them by the Americans."
— Sangar | سنګر پیکار (@paykhar) August 28, 2021
Eric Clapton – This Has Gotta Stop
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