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The Fast-Spreading New COVID-19 Subvariant XBB Is Part of a ‘New Class’ of Omicron

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Note by TMR Editor: We bring this and other articles making some introductory observations to our readers. We bring these for the information and education our readers can get so they are informed and know how to conduct and protect themselves and their families as well as their communities. What we would like to see more of is how people of this world can protect themselves from the dangerous people whose main interest in our health, is money. It is suspicious that they mostly push without giving the alternative we allude to, the “vaccine”.

Korin Miller 

For the past several months, Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 have dominated COVID-19 cases in the U.S. But now, there’s a class of new COVID subvariants on the rise and one, in particular, is getting plenty of attention. It’s called XBB—or Gryphon—and there’s a chance it could overtake everything else out there.

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XBB is getting a lot of buzz because it spreads fast—and seems to be able to evade immunity that people have built up from having a previous COVID-19 infection or getting the vaccine, says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist, and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Still, Dr. Schaffner says, “it’s early days and we have a lot to learn.”

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/health/medical/the-fast-spreading-new-covid-19-subvariant-xbb-is-part-of-a-new-class-of-omicron/ar-AA133Y9C?ocid=winp1taskbar&cvid=72c19d6ec07540d0a41f2092c9efaaa2&fullscreen=true#image=1

XBB or Gryphon is a new COVID-19 Omicron subvariant that’s soaring in Singapore. Here’s what you need to know about the mutated version of the Omicron variant.© Olga Siletskaya – Getty Images

Here’s what we know about XBB so far, and why doctors are keeping a close eye on it.

What is the XBB COVID variant?

XBB is one of the “new class” of Omicron variants that are spreading fast right now, says Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York. That includes BQ.1.1, BQ.1, BQ.1.3, BA.2.3.20, and XBB, he says.

“XBB is a hybrid version of two strains of the BA.2 form of Omicron,” explains Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. It’s currently “spreading efficiently in Singapore,” he adds.

The variant was first detected in August 2022 in India, and has been detected in more than 17 countries since then, including Australia, Bangladesh, Denmark, India, Japan and the U.S., per Singapore’s Ministry of Health.

XBB is thought to have the best ability to evade antibody protections of these newly emerged COVID variants, according to a pre-print study from researchers in China. That study said that the new strains of Omicron, and XBB in particular, “are the most antibody-evasive strain tested, far exceeding BA.5 and approaching SARS-CoV-1 level.” (SARS-CoV-1, in case you’re not familiar with it, is the strain of coronavirus that causes SARS, a respiratory virus that can cause severe illness.)

Meaning, the vaccine and having previously had COVID-19 are not thought to offer the same level of protection against XBB as they have with previous strains of COVID-19. Antibody drugs like Evusheld and bebtelovimab may also not be very effective against XBB, the pre-print study says.

“These variants are evolving to evade protection,” Dr. Russo says. The bivalent booster is “likely going to be protective against severe disease” with XBB, but will be “imperfect against preventing infection,” Dr. Russo says.

Don’t panic, though. “When it comes to evasion of vaccine protection, it’s important to recognize that vaccine protection is not all or none,” Dr. Adalja says. “Even with immune-evasive variants, vaccine protection against what matters most—severe disease—remains intact.”

XBB variant symptoms

So far, symptoms of XBB seem to be similar to what they’ve been with COVID-19 in general. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those can include:

· Fever or chills

· Cough

· Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

· Fatigue

· Muscle or body aches

· Headache

· New loss of taste or smell

· Sore throat

· Congestion or runny nose

· Nausea or vomiting

· Diarrhea

How contagious is the XBB subvariant?

Like other strains of Omicron, XBB is thought to be very contagious. Singapore’s Ministry of Health notes that the variant now makes up 54% of COVID-19 cases in the country, up from 22% the week before.

Singapore’s Ministry of health says that XBB is “at least as transmissible as currently circulating variants” but adds that “there is no evidence that XBB causes more severe illness.”

When will the XBB subvariant peak?

There are a lot of unknowns about XBB right now. While it’s been detected in the U.S., BA.5 and BA.4.6 continue to be the dominant variants in this country, per CDC data.

Other variants are also started to spread at the same time, Dr. Adalja says, and it’s unclear which will displace BA.4.6 and BA.5 in the U.S., if they will at all. “It’s likely to spread to some degree in the U.S. but unclear if it—or some other related variant such as BQ.1.1—will become dominant,” he says.

Dr. Schaffner says there is “some concern” about XBB and fellow variants on the rise. “Watching what happens over the next several weeks is important,” he says.

This article is accurate as of press time. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly evolves and the scientific community’s understanding of the novel coronavirus develops, some of the information may have changed since it was last updated. While we aim to keep all of our stories up to date, please visit online resources provided by the CDCWHO, and your local public health department to stay informed on the latest news. Always talk to your doctor for professional medical advice.

Posted in COVID-19, Health, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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New Covid variant XBB hits 18 UK cases – all you need to know about the deadly ‘nightmare’ strain

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Chronicle Live

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by Adam May & Aaron Morris – 

The XBB strain may be a factor in the recent spike in cases because it spreads quickly and appears to evade people’s vaccine protection © PA

A new strain of Covid-19 dubbed the ‘nightmare’ variant has reached 18 known cases in the UK – with scientists and experts urging residents to stay up to date with eligible vaccines.

The warning comes after cases of the XBB strain were detected across Great Britain, out of a global total of 1,086,639 samples uploaded from Singapore.

It is thought the mutated variant may be a slight factor in the recent spike of Coronavirus cases, as it spreads at a rapid pace and appears to evade vaccine immunity.

Read more: The rules on going to work or staying home if you test positive for Covid-19

The Mirror reports that while the XBB strain has not been designated as a variant of concern just yet, experts are monitoring the situation closely. It comes as one of two new strains of the global virus which have entered the UK, with the second being the new BQ.1 variant.

There have been more than 700 cases of the latter logged in the UK to date.

Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infection at the UK Health Standards Agency (UKHSA), said: “It is not unexpected to see new variants of SARS-CoV-2 emerge. Neither BQ.1 nor XBB have been designated as variants of concern and UKHSA is monitoring the situation closely, as always.

Related video: XBB strain detected in 17 countries: Is there a need for variant-specific booster vaccines?

XBB strain detected in 17 countries: Is there a need for variant-specific booster vaccines?

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“Vaccination remains our best defence against future Covid-19 waves, so it is still as important as ever that people come take up all the doses for which they are eligible as soon as possible.”

XBB was initially discovered in India back in August, since being located in Bangladesh, Japan, Singapore, and at least 13 other countries – including Denmark and Australia. It has also been detected in Hong Kong.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health said that XBB went from being responsible for some 22 percent of Covid-19 cases to 54 percent in the space of a week. Almost 80 percent of those in Singapore are also fully vaccinated.

While Singapore’s health ministry says that there is no evidence that XBB causes more severe illness, it appears to be resistant to treatments. Ong Ye Kung, said that the country is in turn likely to see 15,000 daily cases on average by mid-November.

Infectious disease expert John Swartzberg previously told the San Francisco Chronicle : “We are seeing a slew of new variants that are using a similar approach to survive — they are finding ways to evade the way we get immunity from vaccines and previous infection with changes on the spike protein.

“XBB is no different from the others.”

XBB is a mutation on Omicron BA.2. 23 cases of XBB have been detected in the USA. Natalie Thornburg, CDC lead respiratory virus immunology specialist said: “XBB is a chimera. I think there have been a couple of sequences identified in the United States.

“But it’s way, way, way, way below that one percent threshold. I mean, it’s really like a handful of sequences.”

Read next:

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Environment, Health, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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The Montserrat Reporter

October 28, 2022

Posted in Advertisements, Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, International, Local, Regional, Vacancies0 Comments

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Rishi Sunak to be UK’s next prime minister

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak warns Tories party faces ‘existential threat’ and rules out early general election after winning (the) race to be PM tells Conservatives there will not be an early election but calls for the party to unite

Rishi Sunak posing with fellow Tories outside CCHQ. Photograph Aaron Chown – PA

This story is currently being updated every 10 minutes or so:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2022/oct/24/uk-politics-live-rishi-sunak-penny-mordaunt-boris-johnson-withdrawal-nominations-deadline-tory-leadership-contest-race#top-of-blog

TMR Editor: Do read in depth. We believe the problems will not easily go away – feel that Boris with all the ‘hypocritical ills is likely still their best bet. They do have two years to sort out the best leader… leader… politically and administratively… requirements; which also apply to, do you know who?

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Features, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

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More evidence Covid WAS engineered in a lab?

Another explosive study dismisses natural origin theory – but experts say it’s just more ‘uninformed nonsense’ –

Comment: Jus wonderin – Is this a case of ‘Follow the Money’?

Researchers studied Covid’s genome and compared it to other coronaviruses

Team detected ‘peculiar patterns’ that are hallmarks of a man-made virus, they say

Dr Alex Washburne said the lab leak theory can’t be ruled out based on results

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The coronavirus was likely made in a lab, according to the latest explosive study to shed light on the possible origins of the pandemic.

Researchers in the US and Germany studied Covid’s genome — the virus’ instruction manual — and compared it to dozens of previously detected coronaviruses.

‘Peculiar patterns’ were visible in the building blocks of the pandemic-causing virus, which they say are hallmark signs that it was manufactured. The team described it as having a ‘synthetic fingerprint’.

Study author Dr. Alex Washburne, a mathematical biologist, said the lab leak theory can’t be ruled out based on the results of his controversial study.

Each test his team performed ‘decreased the odds of SARS-CoV-2 having a natural origin’, he said.

However, Dr Washburne noted his team don’t identify which lab that was the source of the outbreak and insisted that the virus looks more ‘like an accident’ rather than a ‘bioweapon’.

Some experts called the results ‘troubling’ and claimed they offered the ‘strongest piece of evidence’ yet that the virus was man-made. 

But dozens of others, including leaders in the field, have hit out at the findings, sparking a fierce row. One virologist said the research is ‘so deeply flawed that it wouldn’t pass kindergarten molecular biology’. 

Another said the study was ‘very poorly controlled, cherry-picked and making a big deal out of lumps and bumps that are of no significance to the virus’. One described it as ‘tinfoil-hat bonkers’.

The study is the latest addition to the fierce argument around how the virus came to sweep the world in 2020.

Most leading virologists believe the coronavirus jumped to humans from an infected animal, potentially in the ‘ground zero’ wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Others think it leaked from a secretive laboratory in the same city. Whether or not it was deliberate or accidental is an even more contentious part of the ‘lab leak’ theory.

Scientists argue it is vital to find out the origins of the virus so steps can be taken to prevent future pandemics. But many doubt the root source of the pandemic will ever be uncovered, with China accused of trying to conceal investigations.

Researchers in the US and Germany studied Covid's genome ¿ the virus' instruction manual ¿ and compared it to dozens of previously detected coronaviruses. The team detected a 'peculiar patterns' in the building blocks of the pandemic-causing virus, which they say are hallmarks that it was manufactured in a lab. These include a more organised structure than naturally-occurring viruses and mutations that suggest the virus was assembled in a lab. Study author Dr Alex Washburne, a mathematical biologist, said the lab leak theory can't be ruled out based on the results of his controversial study. However, he noted his team don't identify which lab that was the source of the outbreak. Pictured: the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is at the centre of the lab leak theory

Researchers in the US and Germany studied Covid’s genome — the virus’ instruction manual — and compared it to dozens of previously detected coronaviruses. The team detected a ‘peculiar patterns’ in the building blocks of the pandemic-causing virus, which they say are hallmarks that it was manufactured in a lab. These include a more organised structure than naturally-occurring viruses and mutations that suggest the virus was assembled in a lab. Study author Dr Alex Washburne, a mathematical biologist, said the lab leak theory can’t be ruled out based on the results of his controversial study. However, he noted his team don’t identify which lab that was the source of the outbreak. Pictured: the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is at the centre of the lab leak theory

The top graph shows the average length of the longest fragment in a coronavirus genome (shown by grey line in the middle of bars). The coloured dots show the longest fragment length in the genome of Covid (red) and 10 other genetically engineered coronaviruses. The researchers said Covid's longest genome segment length is 'well below' what would be expected if the virus had evolved naturally and 'right within the narrow range of fragment number we find in engineered coronaviruses'. The bottom graph compares the virus fragment length in relation to how many standard deviations ¿ the difference from the average length ¿ the lab-made viruses are from naturally occurring coronaviruses. The researchers said this shows Covid 'appears more likely to have been engineered' than other viruses that are known to be man-made

The top graph shows the average length of the longest fragment in a coronavirus genome (shown by grey line in the middle of bars). The coloured dots show the longest fragment length in the genome of Covid (red) and 10 other genetically engineered coronaviruses. The researchers said Covid’s longest genome segment length is ‘well below’ what would be expected if the virus had evolved naturally and ‘right within the narrow range of fragment number we find in engineered coronaviruses’. The bottom graph compares the virus fragment length in relation to how many standard deviations — the difference from the average length — the lab-made viruses are from naturally occurring coronaviruses. The researchers said this shows Covid ‘appears more likely to have been engineered’ than other viruses that are known to be man-made 

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DID COVID LEAK FROM A WUHAN LAB? THE EVIDENCE FOR AND AGAINST 

Evidence for Wuhan lab-leak theory

An article in the respected Science journal on May 14 2021 kick-started the surge in interest for the lab-leak theory.

Some 18 experts wrote in the journal that ‘we must take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data’.

Later that month, a study by British Professor Angus Dalgleish and Norwegian scientist Dr Birger Sørensen claimed it had ‘prima facie evidence of retro-engineering in China’ for a year.

The study included accusations of ‘deliberate destruction, concealment or contamination of data’ at Chinese labs.

It followed statements from the WHO Director General, US and EU that greater clarity about the origins of this pandemic is necessary and feasible to achieve.

Previously, the theory had been dismissed as conspiracy by most experts, partly because of its association with President Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden in May 2021 ordered a full investigation into the origin of the pandemic virus and demanded scientists work out whether there is truth to the theory.

In December 2021, Harvard scientist Dr. Alina Chan told the UK’s Science and Technology Select Committee that it is ‘reasonable’ to believe that Covid was genetically engineered in China. 

She also said that the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up of the initial outbreak in Wuhan two years ago and attempts to sabotage the World Health Organisation’s inquiry into the origins of the pandemic made the lab-leak theory likely. 

The head of the World Health Organization insisted just a day earlier that the theory that Covid emerged from a Wuhan lab has not been ruled out — as he said China should help solve the mystery out of ‘respect’ for the dead.

The body’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, suggested that Beijing had not cooperated fully as he urged more ‘transparency’ in the continuing investigation.

And a senior Government source claimed in June 2022 that the WHO boss privately believes the pandemic kicked off following a leak from a Chinese lab. 

In September 2022, leading medical journal the Lancet admitted the virus may have been leaked from a lab, including those in the US. 

Evidence against the theory

Most of the scientific community say the virus is most likely of natural origin.

A series of papers point to the virus evolving in animals before being transmitted to humans, in the same way as all other previously discovered coronaviruses.

The first study, published in Scientific Reports, showed some 47,000 wild animals from 38 species were sold across four markets in Wuhan between May 2017 and November 2019.

The authors, including Dr Chris Newman, an evolutionary ecologist at Oxford University, claimed the evidence showed the conditions for animal-to-human transmission were in place in Wuhan.

But they acknowledged there was no proof Sars-CoV-2 was present or originated in any of these animals.

A joint World Health Organization-China investigation also concluded it was ‘very likely’ the virus jumped from bats to humans via an as-yet-unknown intermediary animal.

And a June 2022 report by the WHO sets out that Covid most likely originated in bats before infecting humans.

The scientists, including Dr Washburne from Montana-based research institute Selva Analytics and Professor Antonius VanDongen, a pharmacology expert at Duke University, in North Carolina examined the SARS-CoV-2 genome — the virus’ genetic material.

The team also included Valentin Bruttel, an immunologist who is attached to the gynecology department at the University of Würzburg in Germany. 

While human genomes are made of double-stranded DNA and are 3billion letters long, Covid has a single short RNA strand that is just 30,000 letters long.

Some researchers create viruses in lab experiments to study how they behave and develop drugs and vaccines to treat them, in case of an outbreak.

They do this by making small segments of the viral genome and stitching them together — with the joins known as restriction sites. 

While restriction sites tend to be randomly scattered throughout the genomes of naturally-occurring viruses, scientists building a virus in a lab add more in and tend to spread them out evenly, according to the researchers. 

To determine whether Covid evolved naturally or was manufactured, the team looked at the number and length of stitching points in Covid’s genome to compare it to 70 coronaviruses found in nature, as well as man-made versions.

Their findings, published on the pre-print website bioRxiv, set out that the pattern of Covid’s restriction sites are ‘typical’ of man-made viruses and different from naturally-occurring coronaviruses.

They found that the restriction sites on Covid’s genome were evenly spread rather than randomly spaced out, making it an ‘outlier’.

Meanwhile, the average length of Covid’s genome fragments were the smallest out of the dozens of coronaviruses that the researchers looked at.

Covid also has so-called silent mutations in its restriction sites, which are a hallmark of a manufactured virus, according to the researchers. 

It is ‘is extremely unlikely’ this ‘synthetic fingerprint’ appeared ‘by random evolution’, they wrote.

The experts concluded Covid’s genome is similar to ‘many’ engineered coronavirus genomes and ‘differs from closest relatives’ found in nature.   

They wrote: ‘We report a high likelihood that SARS-CoV-2 may have originated as an infectious clone assembled. 

‘The type of mutations (synonymous or silent mutations) that differentiate the restriction sites in SARS-CoV-2 are characteristic of engineering.

‘And the concentration of these silent mutations in the restriction sites is extremely unlikely to have arisen by random evolution.

‘Both the restriction site fingerprint and the pattern of mutations generating them are extremely unlikely in wild coronaviruses and nearly universal in synthetic viruses. 

‘Our findings strongly suggest a synthetic origin of SARS-CoV2.’

And they called for more research to investigate the origins of the virus, noting that ‘further tests may reject our theory’. 

The team noted they could have drawn on a wider pool of coronaviruses to compare Covid against to better understand similarities and differences. 

Nonetheless, Dr Washburne said the lab leak theory — which certain corners of the scientific community have repeatedly tried to dismiss since the beginnings of the pandemic — can’t be ruled out based on the results of this study.

However, he noted that his team do not identify which lab that was the source of the outbreak. This would also be near impossible. 

And he said the virus ‘looks like an accident’ rather than being a ‘bioweapon’ or gain of function research — modifying organisms to enhance how they work, such as making a virus more deadly or more transmissible. 

But he drew parallels with a recent controversial study at Boston University, which saw scientists create a hybrid Covid strain — combining the original strain and Omicron — that killed 80 percent of mice in a study. 

Dr Washburne said: ‘Making chimeric viruses in vitro [in a lab] carries risks.

‘We encourage transparency from researchers studying CoVs in Wuhan. We strongly encourage global coordination on biosafety.’

Mr Bruttel told German TV channel n-tv that the results ‘show that this virus is 99.9 percent an artificially created copy of a natural virus’.                                                                              

While China has insisted the virus originated elsewhere, academics, politicians and the media have contemplated the possibility it leaked from a high-level biochemical lab in Wuhan - raising suspicions that Chinese officials simply hid evidence of the early spread

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While China has insisted the virus originated elsewhere, academics, politicians, and the media have contemplated the possibility it leaked from a high-level biochemical lab in Wuhan – raising suspicions that Chinese officials simply hid evidence of the early spread

The question of whether the global outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market or leaked out of the Wuhan lab just eight miles across the Yangtze River has given rise to fierce debate about how to prevent the next pandemic. Studies point to a natural spillover at the Huanan wildlife market. Positive swab samples of floors, cages and counters also track the virus back to stalls in the southwestern corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbour Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)

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View gallery

The question of whether the global outbreak began with a spillover from wildlife sold at the market or leaked out of the Wuhan lab just eight miles across the Yangtze River has given rise to fierce debate about how to prevent the next pandemic. Studies point to a natural spillover at the Huanan wildlife market. Positive swab samples of floors, cages, and counters also track the virus back to stalls in the southwestern corner of the market (bottom left), where animals with the potential to harbour Covid were sold for meat or fur at the time (bottom right)

Experts slam Boston lab where scientists have created a new deadly Omicron strain with an 80% kill rate in mice

Boston University scientists were today condemned for ‘playing with fire’ after it emerged they had created a lethal new Covid strain in a laboratory.

DailyMail.com revealed the team had made a hybrid virus — combining Omicron and the original Wuhan strain — that killed 80 per cent of mice in a study.

The researchers were attempting to discover whether the spike protein on the Omicron variant – responsible for making it the most transmissible of Covid strains to date – is also behind the virus having a particularly mild effect on infected hosts, with most suffering only slight illness.

The resultant chimera was only slightly less deadly than the Wuhan strain, indicating that the spike protein is not behind the attenuation of its effects on hosts.

The team behind its creation announced that as well as ‘inflict[ing] severe disease’ it also ‘robustly escapes vaccine-induced humoral immunity’, indicating that the recombinant virus retained the most dangerous properties of its parents.

The revelation exposes how dangerous virus manipulation research continues to go on even in the US, despite fears similar practices may have started the pandemic.

Professor Shmuel Shapira, a leading scientist in the Israeli Government, said: ‘This should be totally forbidden, it’s playing with fire.’

Gain of function research – when viruses are purposefully manipulated to be more infectious or deadly – is thought to be at the center of Covid’s origin.

Professor Francois Balloux, an infectious disease expert based at University College London, said the findings appear ‘solid, both conceptually and methodologically.

He said: ‘The distribution of restriction sites in SARS-CoV-2 is highly atypical when compared to related viruses in circulation, and far more in line with previous lab-engineered coronaviruses. 

‘This is a troubling finding, which requires scrutiny.

‘These findings are not “final and dispositive”, but they can’t be ignored either. 

‘To me, this is by far the strongest piece of evidence to date against a simple scenario of strict zoonotic origin for SARS-CoV-2.’

However, Professor Kristian Andersen, a virologist at research facility Scripps Research in California, said the study is ‘so deeply flawed that it wouldn’t pass kindergarten molecular biology’.

He said: ‘The study is a clear example of motivated reasoning with a heavy dose of technobabble to make it sound legitimate — but it’s nothing more than poppycock dressed up as science. 

‘In plain language — this is uninformed nonsense and it’s simply not worth engaging with.’

Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at the of Texas A&M University, said the study is ‘very poorly controlled, cherry-picked and making a big deal out of lumps and bumps that are of no significance to the virus’.

He said: ‘It’s about as illuminating an approach as converting the genome to digits, adding up the digits, and comparing that to the “number of the Beast”. 

‘This isn’t really evidence for or against the discredited idea of a lab-origin virus.

‘The study looks for patterns of nucleotides that people have found useful because they can be cleaved by restriction enzymes.

‘Essentially, this study looks at an irrelevant trait that would not be useful to either the virus or a person trying to assemble the virus using modern technology.’

Dr Neuman added: ‘There is no reason a person assembling a genome would need to assemble the sequence in gene-sized chunks that start or end exactly at gene boundaries. It’s tinfoil-hat bonkers.

‘The methodology is nonsense, as are the conclusions. There are thousands of different Coronavirus genomes now, and this study cherry-picks fewer than forty that make its point.’

Since China originally alerted the world to a mysterious virus circulating in Wuhan in December 2019, debate has been raging over its true source. 

China has repeatedly insisted the virus spilled naturally into humans from bats, with most scientists agreeing Covid most likely had natural origins.  

But some say it’s possible the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), where researchers were conducting controversial research on the world’s most dangerous pathogens.

The WIV has been carrying out gain-of-function work for years before the Covid outbreak.

China insisted early and often that the virus did not leak from the lab, claiming that crossover to humans must have occurred at a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan that sold live animals.

Perhaps driven by animosity for then-US President Donald Trump, who embraced the lab leak theory early on, mainstream media and academics in the West heaped scorn on the possibility, calling it an unhinged conspiracy theory.

Read more:

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The Montserrat Reporter

October 21, 2022

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USAID Launches Programme to Improve Youth Justice Systems in Eastern Caribbean

The following story is taken from The Voice (online) out of St. Lucia. In presenting the story we begin by seeing once again that Montserrat seems only on very rare occasions to benefit from projects such as this one. So, we ask why this situation continues, and should we believe in this case that Montserrat is so much at ease and comfort that we do not need any assistance with regard to a project such as the one in the article?

The question is truly relevant since there is rarely a week that goes by without some such incident in our schools.

The United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC) is pleased to announce a new US$5.3 million grant to the Organization Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission to implement the Opportunities to Advance and Support Youth for Success (OASYS) project in the Eastern Caribbean over the next four years

L-R: Acting Regional Representative USAID/ESC, David Billings, and Dr. Carlene Radix, Head of Human and Social Division, OECS Commission.

The project aims to reduce crime and violence rates among young people across the Eastern Caribbean and will focus on strengthening youth justice systems in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

OASYS will strengthen existing, and invest in new, programmes that provide skills development, psychosocial support, and family interventions for youth in conflict with the law through collaborations with government and non-government partners, civil society organizations, and the private sector. OASYS will also support partner countries to implement and institutionalize a case management system to monitor young offenders from their initial contact with law enforcement through to his/her successful reintegration into society.

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At the project launch in Saint Lucia, Acting USAID/ESC Regional Representative David Billings emphasized, “The United States is committed to working with the OECS, national governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, and most importantly young people and their communities, to provide opportunities for youth to succeed.”

In her remarks at the signing ceremony, Dr. Carlene Radix, Head of the Human and Social Division for the OECS, commented, ”The OECS and USAID Youth Justice Project expands on earlier initiatives which contributed to the transformation of the child justice landscape, and allows for the strengthening of implementation in the spirit of the existing legislation and with the collaboration of the community.”

Posted in Education, News, Vacancies, Youth0 Comments

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Covid: Man shares ‘the backbone’ of protection that kept him Covid-free – It’s ‘easy’

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WITH COVID infections rising throughout the country, many are catching the virus all over again. The current wave is fuelled by Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 that have been linked to reinfection. However, a man swears by an “easy” safety measure that kept him safe through travelling, flying and attending conferences.

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By DIANA BUNTAJOVA – Jul 6, 2022

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As BA.4 and BA.5 appear to be able to reinfect even those who’ve recently had Covid, some hospitals in the UK started making masks mandatory again. And they might be onto something. Eric Kennedy explained that his N95 face covering managed to keep him safe through weeks of travelling and attending conferences.

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Mr Kennedy shared on Twitter: “I know it feels impossible to avoid Covid these days, but I just travelled for four weeks, took 10 flights, gave four in-person presentations, and attended three conferences without catching Covid.”

What’s more, the Assistant Professor of Emergency Management shared that “you can too”.

If you’re looking for a way to protect yourself from the current rising cases, Mr Kennedy recommended an N95 mask.

An N95 mask describes a special type of face covering, also known as a respirator.

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Covid: Man shares N95 mask is ‘the backbone' of protection against the virus.
Covid: Man shares N95 mask is ‘the backbone’ of protection against the virus. (Image: GETTY)

This type is believed to offer the highest level of protection.

Mr Kennedy penned: “Because Covid is airborne, two rules formed the backbone of my protection:(1) Wear a well-fit N95, (2) Don’t not wear a well-fit N95.

“#1 is relatively easy. #2 can be hard.

“A high-quality mask is your best defence against not just [again] Covid, but also other airborne infections.”

Furthermore, research looking into coronavirus and masks does support this technique that managed to keep Kennedy Covid free.

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Evidence has shown that masks are able to filter out respiratory droplets and particles, protecting the wearer and others.

This is meaningful as Covid is an airborne virus that spreads through droplets and particles released into the air when coughing, sneezing or speaking.

However, the research also stresses that not all masks offer the same level of protection.

Experts recommend certified masks, such as FFP2 or N95 masks as they are able to filter out between 94 to 98 percent of aerosols, including airborne viruses like coronavirus.

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Mr Kennedy also explained that it’s not just the highly-effective mask that’s important but also the way you wear it.

He said: “Every time I put it on, I spend a minute bending the nose piece to make sure it doesn’t leave any gaps around my nose/eyes.

“I shave my face daily to ensure it gets a good seal. And, I run my fingers around the edge of the mask to make sure it’s pulled snug to my face.”

As masks are no longer required by the law, he has to decide when he needs it.

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He shared what helps him decide. Mr Kennedy said: “The easiest thing for me to do is think of Covid like cigarette smoke.

“I ask myself, ‘If someone was smoking/had smoked here, might I smell it?’ If the answer is yes, I put on my mask.

“Alone outside? Probably wouldn’t smell a cigarette. But, a crowded patio? Absolutely.”

So throughout the travelling, conferences and even presentations, he was wearing his mask.

He explained that the rule#2 ‘Don’t not wear a well-fit N95’ is harder and more tempting to break but breaking it means the virus can strike.

“Covid is highly transmissible, but it’s not magic,” he added.

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  1. View the profile of "Pished.Artist"Pished.ArtistJULY 7, 2022I have never had covid, your point is ?REPLY 0SHAREFLAG
    • GUGuyWJULY 7, 2022The maximum safe level of CO2 according to the H&S is 6,000ppm and a tight fitting N95 mask will produce a CO2 level of over 13,000ppm which will cause harm. Dizziness, nausea, and the reduced immune response, increased heat in the facial cavity and greater chance of respiratory infection.REPLY 0SHAREFLAG
      • THThornInTheSideJULY 7, 2022The N95 mask must be perfectly fitted to be effective, as any leaks whatsoever around the edges render it useless. And a perfectly fitted N95 mask is not at all a comfortable wear as it leaves marks on the skin, restricts air flow causing you to re-breathe your own exhaled breath, and produces stress on the lungs and respiratory system. Many people wearing N95 masks properly complain of headaches as a result.Lastly, the N95 can not be worn for long periods of time as the body must be given rest from it – medical personnel who have to wear such masks can only wear them for short periods of time.I doubt this fellow wore a properly fitted N95 mask given his description of how he used it.REPLY 0SHAREFLAG
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          • THThornInTheSideJULY 7, 2022Reply to DeadmanwalkingThat really works!REPLY 1SHAREFLAG
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        • BBbbcphobiaJULY 6, 2022People who are quadrupled jabbed and wear masks catch covid and die. So you have to be seriously gullible to believe either the jab or the mask are any use.REPLY 4SHAREFLAG

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