Massive Machines Search for the Smallest Pieces of the Universe

One hundred meters beneath the borders of France and Switzerland, near the city of Geneva, there is a tunnel, 27 kilometers around, called the Large Hadron Collider. That is where scientists are working to answer one of life’s biggest riddles:  What is the universe made of? The physicists working at CERN – officially the European Organization for Nuclear Research – are looking for things like antimatter and dark matter and how the universe works. Penny Dixon reports from Geneva.
Videographer: Daniel Gillet

your ad here

more

WHO Experts Admit COVID-19 Can Spread Through Air

Experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) Tuesday acknowledged there is growing evidence the coronavirus can spread through the air and said they are preparing a brief on the subject.At the U.N. agency’s regular briefing in Geneva, WHO technical committee head Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said the WHO was contacted in April by a group of than 200 scientists who have called for the world body and others to acknowledge that the coronavirus can spread in the air.Kerkhove said her committee is working with the group and are producing a scientific brief to summarize what they know about the nature of air-borne transmission of virus.WHO Under Fire Over COVID-19 Transmission Route Critics say agency moves too slowly to acknowledge airborne transmission, but science not settledThe WHO coordinator of infection prevention and control, Professor Benedetta Allegranzi, noted that while there is emerging evidence about the airborne nature of the virus, it is not definitive.  Both officials said that the evidence does suggest it takes a comprehensive prevention package to stop COVID transmission, including physical distancing and the wearing of masks, particularly inside.WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the pandemic continues to accelerate and said it has not yet reached its peak. He noted that it took 12 weeks for the world to reach 400,000 COVID cases, and this past weekend there were more than 400,000 cases across the globe. 

your ad here

more

Russian Court Fines Coronavirus-Denying Rebel Monk

A Russian court on Tuesday fined a coronavirus-denying monk who has challenged Kremlin lockdown orders for spreading false information about the pandemic.The court in the Ural Mountains region ordered Father Sergiy to pay 90,000 rubles ($1,250). The 65-year-old monk, who has attracted nationwide attention by urging followers to disobey church leadership and ignore church closures during the pandemic, didn’t attend the court hearing.On Friday, a Russian Orthodox Church panel in Yekaterinburg ruled to defrock Father Sergiy for breaking monastic rules. He didn’t show up at the session and dismissed the verdict, urging his backers to come to defend the Sredneuralsk women’s monastery where he has holed up since last month.In Friday’s video posted by his supporters, Father Sergiy denounced President Vladimir Putin as a “traitor to the Motherland” serving a Satanic “world government” and dismissed Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill and other top clerics as “heretics” who must be “thrown out.”Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin wasn’t following developments regarding the rebel monk.  When contagion engulfed Russia, Father Sergiy declared the coronavirus non-existent and denounced government efforts to stem the outbreak as “Satan’s electronic camp.” The monk has described the vaccines being developed against COVID-19 as part of a global plot to control the masses via chips.He urged believers to disobey the closure of churches during the nationwide lockdown. Orthodox churches across Russia were closed on April 13 amid a quick rise in COVID-19 cases and were allowed to reopen in early June as authorities eased restrictions.The church banned the monk from ministry in April, but he has continued preaching and last month took charge of the monastery outside Yekaterinburg that he had founded years ago. Dozens of burly volunteers, including veterans of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, helped enforce his rules, while the prioress and several nuns have left.The police visited the monastery last month a day after Father Sergiy took over, but found no violations of public order. Facing stiff resistance by his supporters, church officials have appeared indecisive, lacking the means to enforce their ruling and evict the rebellious monk by force. 

your ad here

more

Brazil Man May Be Cured of HIV

Doctors in Brazil say an experimental treatment given to a man known as the Sao Paulo Patient may have cured him of HIV.  
 
The man, who was subjected to intensive anti-retroviral drug therapy with the purpose of removing all traces of the AIDS virus from his body, shows no signs of the virus after more than a year since he stopped receiving the treatment.
 
In an interview with The Associated Press, the patient said he was “very moved, because it’s something that millions of people want. It’s a gift of life, a second chance to live.”
 
The only other two known cases of HIV cures have been through bone marrow transplants, which gave patients new immune systems that were better equipped to respond to the virus.  
 
Bone marrow transplants are prohibitively expensive, though, and they come with life-threatening side effects, leading experts to disregard them as a viable option.
 
Although the treatment the Sao Paulo Patient received appears to be a much better alternative, he represents only a single case that requires more research and experimentation.  
 
“These are exciting findings but they’re very preliminary,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an AIDS expert at the University of California, San Francisco. “This has happened to one person, and one person only.”
 
Gandhi noted the four others in the same experiment did not respond similarly to the treatment.
 
If the Sao Paulo Patient’s case can be shown to work on a broader spectrum, it would be a huge breakthrough, as people with HIV currently are forced to stay on a treatment plan for the rest of their lives.  
 
HIV is difficult to treat because it lies dormant for long periods of time, during which it cannot be eliminated by medicines or the body’s normal immune response. Patients must stay on drugs to keep the virus dormant and prevent it from becoming active again. 

your ad here

more

Novavax Awarded $1.6 Billion to Develop US COVID-19 Vaccine

The U.S. government has awarded a $1.6 billion contract to Novavax, Inc. to develop a coronavirus vaccine.The award to the Maryland-based company is the largest to date from the government’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative to fast-track the development of vaccines and other treatments for COVID-19.
 
Chief Executive Stanley Erck said the company aims to begin delivering 100 million doses of a vaccine in the fourth quarter of this year, an endeavor he said that “may be completed by January or February of next year.”Report: Britain Nears $625 mln Sanofi/GSK COVID-19 Vaccine DealClinical trials are due to start in September and Sanofi has said it expects to get approval by the first half of next year, sooner than previously anticipatedThe U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the Defense Department said in a joint statement that because the federal government funded the initiative, they “will own the 100 million doses of investigational vaccine expected to result from the demonstration projects.”The award was granted as the number of new infections are surging in the U.S., the world leader in infections and fatalities, prompting a growing number of states and cities to reimpose lockdown measures.The country’s preeminent infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned in an interview Monday the U.S. is still “knee-deep in the first wave of this” pandemic.Novavax’s stock price soared in premarket trading on the news it had received the government funding.WATCH: VOA Interview -Dr. Fauci optimistic about vaccine Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 41 MB480p | 58 MB540p | 60 MB720p | 123 MBOriginal | 259 MB Embed” />Copy Download Audio

your ad here

more

Fossils Reveal Dinosaur Forerunner Smaller Than a Cellphone

Meet Kongonaphon kely, a pocket-sized dinosaur forerunner that was smaller than your cellphone.  The creature, which predated dinosaurs and flying pterosaurs, was just shy of 4 inches (10 centimeters) tall, according to a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Some of these things would have been quite cute animals,” said study lead author Christian Kammerer, a paleontology researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Looking like a small dinosaur that could fit in your hand, Kammerer mused that it “would probably make a great pet.”  Of course, no humans were around when Kongonaphon was roaming the wild, jumping around with its strong hind legs and feeding on bugs with its peg-like teeth, Kammerer said. The name means tiny bug slayer. The fossils, dug up in Madagascar, date from 237 million years ago. Scientists figure the little guy was an adult because of growth rings in its bones, Kammerer said. 

your ad here

more

Progress in AIDS/HIV Fight Uneven, UN Says

The United Nations says global HIV/AIDS targets for 2020 will not be met, and that some progress could be lost, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seriously impacted the HIV/AIDS response.“Our report shows that COVID is threatening to throw us even more off course,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of UNAIDS said Monday at the report’s launch in Geneva. “COVID is a disease that is claiming resources — the labs, the scientists, the health workers — away from HIV work. We want governments to use creative ways to keep the fight going on both. One disease cannot be used to fight another.”COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus.UNAIDS says despite expanding HIV treatment coverage — some 25 million of the 38 million people living with HIV now have access to antiretroviral therapy — progress is stalling. Over the last two years, new infections have plateaued at 1.7 million a year, and deaths have only dropped slightly — from 730,000 in 2018 to 690,000 last year. The U.N. attributes this to HIV prevention and testing services not reaching the most vulnerable groups, including sex workers, intravenous drug users, prisoners and gay men.COVID-19 poses an additional threat to the HIV/AIDS response because it can prevent people from accessing treatment. The U.N. estimates that if HIV patients are cut off from treatment for six months, it could lead to a half-million more deaths in sub-Saharan Africa over the next year, setting the region back to 2008 AIDS mortality levels. Even a 20% disruption could cause an additional 110,000 deaths.HIV/AIDS patients who contract COVID-19 are also at heightened risk of death, as the virus preys on weakened immune systems.The World Health Organization warned Monday that 73 countries are at risk of running out of antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO says 24 countries have reported having either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply chain.FILE – A doctor takes an AIDS/HIV blood test from an athlete during the 18th National Sports Festival in Lagos, Nigeria.Gains and lossesUNAIDS reports progress in eastern and southern Africa, where new HIV infections have dropped by 38% since 2010. But women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa continue to bear the brunt of the disease, accounting for nearly 60% of all new HIV infections in the region in 2019. Each week, some 4,500 teen girls and young women becoming infected. They are disproportionately affected, making up only 10% of the population, but nearly a quarter of new infections.Condom use has also dropped off in parts of central and western Africa, while it has risen in eastern and southern parts of the continent.Eastern Europe and Central Asia is one of only three regions where new infections are growing. Nearly half of all infections are among intravenous drug users. Only 63% of people who know their HIV status are on treatment. UNAIDS says there is an urgent need to scale up HIV prevention services, particularly in Russia.The Middle East and North Africa have also seen new infections rise by 22%, while they are up 21% in Latin America.“New infections are coming down in sub-Saharan Africa, but going up in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, going up in the Middle East and North Africa, and going up in Latin America. That’s disturbing,” Byanyima, the UNAIDS chief said.Progress is also impacted by draconian laws and social stigma. At least 82 countries criminalize some form of HIV transmission, exposure or nondisclosure.  Sex work is criminalized in at least 103 countries, and at least 108 countries criminalize the consumption or possession of drugs for personal use.One of UNAIDS’s main targets was to achieve “90-90-90” by this year. That means 90% of all people living with HIV would know their status; 90% of those diagnosed would be on antiretroviral treatment; and 90% of all people on treatment would have suppressed the virus in their system.Only 14 countries have reached the target, including Eswatini, which has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. The others are Australia, Botswana, Cambodia, Ireland, Namibia, the Netherlands, Rwanda, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.“It can be done,” Byanyima said. “We see rich and poor countries achieving the targets.”Globally, there have been gains in testing and treatment for HIV. By the end of 2019, more than 80% of people living with HIV worldwide knew their status, and more than two-thirds were receiving treatment. Therapies have also advanced, meaning nearly 60% of all people with HIV had suppressed viral loads in 2019.UNAIDS says that increased access to medications has prevented some 12.1 million AIDS-related deaths in the past decade.  While some 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses last year, that is a nearly 40% reduction since 2010.

your ad here

more