Things to Note, May 25th

50% chance Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial will yield ‘no result’

Due to a decline in infection rate, the team at Oxford University developing a COVID-19 vaccine believe that the chances of the trial yielding “no result” is now 50%, The Telegraph reported.

The University of Oxford last week announced that the advance human trial of the vaccine will involve up to 10,260 volunteers across the UK.

While explaining when the results of the trial will be available, the university said that to assess whether the vaccine works to protect from COVID-19, the statisticians in the team will compare the number of infections in the control group with the number of infections in the vaccinated group.

For this purpose, it is necessary for a small number of study participants to develop Covid-19.

“How quickly we reach the numbers required will depend on the levels of virus transmission in the community. If transmission remains high, we may get enough data in a couple of months to see if the vaccine works, but if transmission levels drop, this could take up to 6 months,” the university said

China reports 11 new mainland COVID-19 cases vs 3 a day earlier

China reported 11 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the mainland as of end-May 24, up from three a day earlier, the National Health Commission reported.

The commission said in a statement all of the new infections were imported cases involving travellers from overseas. Ten of the new cases were in Inner Mongolia region, with one in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The commission also reported 40 new asymptomatic cases – patients who are infected but do not show symptoms – compared with 36 a day earlier.

The total number of cases to date in the mainland stands at 82,985. The death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.

Covid-19:  Italy proposes 60,000 volunteers for post-virus vigilance

Italian officials have proposed creating a 60,000-strong corps of volunteer “civic assistants” who would remind people of the need to observe measures against coronavirus infection as the country emerges from lockdown.

The force, to be drawn from among pensioners and the unemployed, is the brainchild of Regional Affairs Minister Francesco Boccia and Antonio Decaro, mayor of the southern city of Bari.

The civil protection unit, which manages the various volunteers helping to fight against the COVID-19 epidemic that has caused nearly 33,000 deaths in Italy, would be charged with the recruitment.

They would answer questions and remind the public of social distancing rules, or the need to wear masks, in crowded areas such as beaches, parks and city streets. The volunteers would not be able to fine people.

EU’s top diplomat urges ‘more robust strategy’ toward China

The European Union’s top diplomat has called for the bloc to have a “more robust strategy” toward China amid signs that Asia is replacing the United States as the center of global power.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told a gathering of German ambassadors on Monday that “analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century.”

“This is now happening in front of our eyes,” he said.

Borrell said the pandemic could be seen as a turning point in the power shift from West to East, and that for the EU the “pressure to choose sides is growing.”

He said the 27-nation bloc “should follow our own interests and values and avoid being instrumentalized by one or the other.”

India brings back over 28,000 national from 30 countries

India has brought back over 28,500 nationals stranded in over 30 countries during the first two phases of a massive and complex repatriation process. While MEA is the lead ministry handling the ‘Vande Bharat’ and ‘Samudra Setu’ missions, officials said it involves close coordination with a whole bunch of other ministries.

The breakup of the people returning went something like this — 4921 students, 3969 professionals, 5936 workers, 3254 tourists, 3588 visitors, 610 deportees, 429 who were granted amnesty in different countries, 551 crew as well as 5272 from different categories, altogether 28,532 Indian nationals.

They have come back from 30 different countries — including UAE with the maximum number at 4,243, followed by the UK at 3,186, and the US at 2,678 making the top countries.

In addition, Navy Vessels brought back 1,488 Indians, while other countries’ aircraft, coming to India to pick up their own citizens brought back 910 people.

UK researchers warn of only ’50 percent’ success for COVID vaccine trial

Developing a vaccine for the coronavirus could prove difficult due to the declining number of infections, researchers in Britian have warned.

Reports that Oxford was proceeding to the second stage of human trials for its coronavirus vaccine, which would see the number of participants rise to 10,000 people, were met with optimism. Oxford’s Jenner Institute is working with drug company Astra Zeneca to develop a vaccine.

The government projected that the vaccine, if successful, could deliver 30 million doses by September. However, scientists involved with the study have given interviews with separate London-based newspapers warning that initial projections may prove to be optimistic.

The main issue, they say, is that the virus may be disappearing too fast for the studies to produce “meaningful results.”

“It is a race, yes. But it’s not a race against the other guys. It’s a race against the virus disappearing, and against time,” Professor Hill, 61, told the Telegraph. “But at the moment, there’s a 50 per cent chance that we get no result at all. We’re in the bizarre position of wanting Covid to stay, at least for a little while. But cases are declining.”

U.S. COVID-19 death toll nears 100,000, New York Times calls it “incalculable loss”

The front page of Sunday’s New York Times features the names of 1,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in the United States. Calling it “an incalculable loss,” the newspaper clarified that “the 1,000 people here reflect just 1 percent of toll.”

“They were not simply names on a list. They were us,” the paper said. “Numbers alone cannot possibly measure the impact of the coronavirus in America, whether it is the number of patients treated, jobs interrupted or lives cut short.”

“Toward the end of May in the year 2020, the number of people in the United States who have died from the coronavirus neared 100,000 — almost all of them within a three-month span. An average of more than 1,100 deaths a day,” said the cover story sub-titled “The Human Toll,” which was printed on four full pages including the cover.

“Why has this happened in the United States of 2020? Why has the virus claimed disproportionately large number of black and Latino victims? Why were nursing homes so devastated? These questions of why and how and whom will be asked for decades to come,” said the report.

“For now, all we can do is hold our collective breath, inch toward some approximation of how things were — and try to process a loss of life greater than what the country incurred in several decades of war, from Vietnam to Iraq,” it added.

Over 96,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, the largest toll among all the countries in the world, according to the Center of Systems Science and Engineering of Johns Hopkins University as of Sunday morning.

Women peacekeepers from Brazil and India share UN military gender award

Commander Monteiro de Castro Araujo serves as the military Gender and Protection Advisor in the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). During her tour of duty, she has conducted training on gender and protection, and was instrumental in seeing the number of gender-responsive patrols engaging with local communities increase from 574 to nearly 3,000 per month.

For the Brazilian officer, the award is recognition of a team effort: “It’s very gratifying for me and the Mission to see that our initiatives are bearing fruit”, she said.

Major Gawani – the first Indian peacekeeper to win the award – is a Military Observer, formerly deployed to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), where she mentored over 230 UN Military Observers on conflict-related sexual violence, and ensured the presence of women military observers in each of the Mission’s team sites. She also trained South Sudanese government forces, and helped them to launch their action plan on conflict-related sexual violence.

Expressing happiness at seeing her work recognized, Major Gawani noted that, “whatever our function, position or rank, it is our duty as peacekeepers to integrate an all-genders perspective into our daily work and own it, in our interactions with colleagues as well as with communities”.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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