In especially confined spaces, like an elevator, air purifiers may actually do more harm than good in the fight against airborne viral transmission.
science or just pure politics?
The democratic island of Taiwan has reiterated a ban on imports of COVID-19 vaccines made in China, as repeated incursions by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) into its air defense zone in recent days stoked simmering regional tensions.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said in a recent statement to Reuters that the island’s 23 million population should be cautious about accepting offers of vaccination while living and working in China, and “cautiously evaluate the safety and necessity” of doing so.
Taiwan, which has never been governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), nor formed part of the People’s Republic of China, has repeatedly warned its citizens of health risks associated with Chinese-made vaccines, and requires anyone vaccinated in China to undergo a stringent 14-day quarantine on arriving home.
The PLA has flown dozens of sorties into the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) since the weekend, in a move that politicians and analysts alike have viewed as a test of U.S. resolve to support Taiwan at the start of the Biden administration.
Unlike previous incursions, recent operations have included bombers and fast-moving fighter jets usually used for offensive purposes, linking it to the reported presence of a U.S. aircraft carrier group in the vicinity,
Beijing followed up the incursions on Tuesday with an announcement of further military drills in the disputed South China Sea, after protesting the presence of the U.S. Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group in the region since Jan. 23.
At the same time, pro-China media in Taiwan suggested that China was keen to start sending its COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan, a sovereign state under the 1911 Republic of China founded by Sun Yat-sen, despite the import ban.
According to the pro-CCP China Times, the vaccines could be sent as “private donations,” while Taiwanese citizens could be pressed into service to promote the vaccines on the island.
Citing a “person involved in Taiwan affairs,” the paper said that Taiwan “must first remove political and legal obstacles,” for discussions to take place.
The MAC said its policy hadn’t changed, and that the decision about which vaccines to procure rested with the island’s epidemic control and command center.
“This is a medical issue for healthcare professionals to decide, and has nothing to do with politics,” it said in a statement.
“The epidemic command center has said there is incomplete data regarding Chinese-made vaccines … and has decided to tighten requirements during the emergency pandemic situation,” it said. “Chinese vaccines cannot be imported under current laws and regulations.”
“[We] will not be purchasing vaccines from mainland China for the time being,” it said.
Alternatives to invasion
Taiwan Thinktank consultant Tung Li-wen said China is making preparations for a potential invasion of Taiwan, and that the CCP has never renounced the use of military force to annex the island.
But at the same time, they are trying “soft power” alternatives like vaccine diplomacy to boost Beijing’s influence on the island, where the majority of Taiwanese have no wish to be ruled by the CCP, but where many people rely on China as a source of business opportunity, Tung said.
“The CCP has accused the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government of setting up barriers to cross-straits relations, by which it means restrictions linked to the pandemic, and some changes made by Taiwan on national security issues [to counter Chinese influence]. They see those things as obstacles,” Tung said.
“They won’t give up their attempts to use vaccines as a way to achieve foreign policy goals,” he said.
Former Kuomintang (KMT) official Chao Chun-shan, who was at a meeting between CCP general secretary Xi Jinping and former Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou, said he thought behind-the-scenes discussions of some kind could well be under way between the two governments.
“Of course there will be [contact], but we won’t know about it,” Chao said. “We haven’t seen any harsh words from either Xi or Tsai so far.”
President Tsai Ing-wen has ruled out government-to-government contact with China unless Taiwan comes to the table with equal status as a sovereign state, a level of recognition unlikely to be accorded by the CCP.
Reported by Hwang Chun-mei for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.
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The Oregon Republican Party earlier this month approved and released a resolution calling the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by pro-Trump supporters a “false flag” operation and condemning Republicans who voted to impeach now-…
You probably read something yesterday, maybe just a headline, about Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine being “six times less effective” against the B.1.351 coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa. This is, to put it plainly, a bullshit take on what is actually excellent news. This is the important bit, via Stat:
Both the Moderna vaccine and the immunization from Pfizer-BioNTech produce such powerful levels of immune protection — generating higher levels of antibodies on average than people who recover from a Covid-19 infection have — that they should be able to withstand some drop in their potency without really losing their ability to guard people from getting sick.
“There is a very slight, modest diminution in the efficacy of a vaccine against it, but there’s enough cushion with the vaccines that we have that we still consider them to be effective,” Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases official, said Monday on the “Today” show.
Let’s hear that again: “Both the Moderna vaccine and the immunization from Pfizer-BioNTech produce such powerful levels of immune protection…” These vaccines are so good, so potent, that even this sixfold drop in one measure of the vaccines’ ability to neutralize this one SARS-CoV-2 variant isn’t even enough to significantly reduce their overall protective power.1 That’s the important news here, that’s the very good news, that’s what you should be taking away from this. We have miraculously developed a near-perfect medicine for a plague that has significantly disrupted all human life on Earth and we’re flipping out over some technical details that the experts assure us don’t mean much in terms of overall effectiveness?! No thank you. Not today.
In a Twitter thread, Zeynep Tufekci is tearing her hair out because of the media’s misunderstanding and sensationalization of the “sixfold drop”.
I know people are tired but needless anxiety isn’t helping us. Let’s focus on getting through these months — better masks if indoors with others, more strict attention to our precautions — and the real problem: making more of these amazing vaccines quickly & getting them out there!
I get it, we want to understand but not how it works. Stop worrying about Nab titers. That does NOT mean the vaccine is six times less effective. People whose job it is to worry about it are on it & we just got confirmation: it works against the variants.
Plea to media: this isn’t a good headline. It makes people think the vaccine is six times less effective against the new variants (FALSE!) when the news today is *excellent*: The vaccine continues to work well against the new variants. That’s the headline.
For a much more technical take on the efficacy of the vaccines against variants, see virologist Florian Krammer’s long thread. His conclusion:
mRNA vaccines induce very high neutralizing antibodies after the second shot (consistently in the upper 25-30% of what we see with convalescent sera). If that activity is reduced by 10-fold, it is still decent neutralizing activity that will very likely protect. Furthermore, we know that the mRNA vaccines are already protective after the first shot when neutralizing antibody titers are low or undetectable in most individuals.
There is a concern here and it’s that B.1.351 or B.1.1.7 might mutate into variants that are significantly resistant against the vaccines’ good effects. Krammer again:
First, we need to do what every good scientist is praying for a year now: We need to cut down on virus circulation. The more the virus replicates, the more infections there are the higher are the chances for new variants to arise. Also, we need to try and contain B.1.351 and B.1.1.248/P.1 as much as possible.
That’s why, aside from preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths in the next several months, getting these vaccines into people’s arms is so important: the less the virus spreads, the less opportunity it will have to mutate into something even more dangerous. The US vaccination effort is slowly ramping up — we’re at an average of 1.3 million doses per day right now and the trend is heading in the right direction. We can get this done!
So what can you do about this right now? 1. Stop worrying about the variants until the experts let us know we have something to worry about. 2. If you are eligible for the vaccine, get it! 3. Spread the word about vaccine availability in your area. Yesterday Vermont opened signups for vaccination appointments for all Vermonters 75 and older, and I texted/emailed everyone I could think of who was over 75 or who had parents/relatives/friends who are over 75 to urge them to sign up or spread the word. 4. Continue to wear a mask (a better one if possible), wash your hands, social distance, stay home when possible, don’t spend time indoors w/ strangers, etc. Thanks to these remarkable vaccines, real relief is in sight — let’s keep on track and see this thing through.
Obviously, this could change! But the situation right now w/r/t variants is very good.↩
1970 – The Simon & Garfunkel releases the album ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ Source: 26th Day of January, Music – Fatcowco
Hola peeps, my amazing friends, how are you all!! Hope all are enjoying your days at home with own people!! Now a days i am not able to be active and post daily on wp… Yeah too occupied with office and other stuffs😐😐 today got some time for myself hehehe… No office, weekend right😃😃 So all of a sudden i time travelled in my mind to my childhood days, like how i used to pass my days, time with friends and parents, sister… What all games i used to play and what all types of games i had…and i remembered a fantastic game which my mom bought for me and my elder sissoo called BAGATELLE, mmm i am not sure if you guys are aware of this game🤔 if yes then you know how interesting this game is!!!
Bagatelle is a game of small pin balls made of iron…
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“We signed the budget that provides resources to vaccinate against COVID-19 the entire population over the age of 18 without medical contraindications (3.7 million people),” President Alvarado shared on social media. “I thank Congress for its agile work for approval. Vaccinating is protecting and promoting economic recovery.” Source: Costa Rica to vaccinate entire adult population against Covid-19 –