What we do and don’t know about new Covid mutations

  by Amélie BOTTOLLIER-DEPOIS Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — The emergence in Britain and South Africa of two new variants of Sars-CoV-2, which are potentially far more infectious versions of the virus, has prompted widespread concern. Here is what we know — and what we don’t — about the mutations. – What are they? All viruses mutate when they replicate in order to adapt to their environment. Scientists have tracked multiple mutations of […]

Most Covid-19 patients have at least one lingering symptom 6 months on: study

  by Kelly MACNAMARA Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — More than three quarters of people hospitalized with Covid-19 still suffered from at least one symptom after six months, according to a study published Saturday that scientists said shows the need for further investigation into lingering coronavirus effects. The research, which was published in the Lancet medical journal and involved hundreds of patients in the Chinese city of Wuhan, is among the few to […]

Killer fungus spread rampantly at US hospital Covid ward: study

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Dozens of people being treated for Covid-19 at a Florida hospital last summer became additionally infected with a mysterious, often deadly fungus called Candida auris, a US government study said Friday. The multidrug-resistant yeast was first identified in Japan in 2009 and has been a top priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recent years because of its increasing global spread. C. auris is associated with […]

1 in 100,000 had severe reactions to Pfizer vaccine: US study

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Roughly one in a hundred thousand people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine have had severe allergic reactions, US health officials said Wednesday while stressing that the benefits of immunization greatly outweigh the known risks. The data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which documented 21 cases of anaphylaxis after administration of a reported 1,893,360 shots from December 14 to December 23. “This averages out to […]

Israeli firm in Gaza extracts drinking water from air

by Guillaume Lavallee Agence France-Presse GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) — The densely populated Gaza Strip has long lacked sufficient drinking water, but a new project helps ease the shortage with a solar-powered process to extract potable water straight from the air. Unusually, the project operating in the Islamist-run Palestinian enclave, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007, is the brainchild of a Russian-Israeli billionaire, Michael Mirilashvili. The company he heads, Watergen, has developed […]

WHO validates Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use against COVID-19

WHO criteria for safety and efficacy met   (Eagle News) — The World Health Organization (WHO) has given emergency validation to the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine, the first vaccine against COVID-19 to receive such a validation from WHO since the pandemic. This was after WHO listed the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for emergency use. The Comirnaty vaccine requires storage using an ultra-cold chain and needs to be stored at -60°C to -90°C degrees, makes the deployment […]

AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid vaccine approved for use in UK

  by James PHEBY Agence France Presse LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s low-cost Covid vaccine, raising hopes it will help tackle rising cases and ease pressure on creaking health services. The independent Medicines and Healthcare products and Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the vaccine “met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness”, and a roll-out was set for January […]

China’s Sinopharm says vaccine ‘79% effective’ against Covid-19

  BEIJING, China (AFP) — Phase 3 trials of a Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine found it was 79 percent effective, the Chinese pharma giant said Wednesday, lower than rival jabs developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna but a potential breakthrough in the battle to stem the pandemic in Asia. China has been racing against the West to develop its own Covid-19 vaccines, with five already in large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials. But Wednesday’s announced was the first […]

From the lab to the jab: how BioNTech-Pfizer won the vaccine race

by Hui Min NEO with Yannick PASQUET in Hamburg and Michelle FITZPATRICK and Yann SCHREIBER in Mainz Agence France Presse BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — It was over breakfast on the wintry morning of January 24 that Ozlem Tureci and her husband Ugur Sahin decided, “we need to fire the starting gun on this”. Sahin “had concluded from a publication describing coronavirus cases in Wuhan… that there was a high probability that a pandemic could be […]

Virus strain to cause more deaths in Britain; mutated COVID strain 56% more contagious -study

  PARIS, France (AFP) — A mutated coronavirus strain spreading in Britain is on average 56 percent more contagious than the original version, scientists have warned in a study, urging a fast vaccine rollout to help prevent more deaths. The new variant, which emerged in southeast England in November and is spreading fast, is likely to boost hospitalisations and deaths from Covid next year, according to the study published Wednesday by the Centre for Mathematical […]

Well drilling thrives as Caracas water supply flounders

by Andrea TOSTA Agence France-Presse CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — Alfredo Araya used to dig wells on farms or out in the countryside, but due to a failing water supply he says demand for his services has recently exploded in Venezuela’s capital Caracas. Using a huge drill to perforate the soil, Araya struck the underground aquifer below an apartment bloc in Caracas’ comfortable Los Palos Grandes neighborhood so that residents now have access to water that […]

Virus hunters delve into Gabon forest in search for next threat

by Adrien MAROTTE Agence France-Presse ZADIE CAVES, Gabon (AFP) — The scene looks like something out of a science fiction movie, or maybe some dystopian TV series. Six men in yellow biohazard suits clamber in suffocating heat towards a cave in the heart of the Gabonese jungle. Their quest: to unlock new knowledge on how pathogens like coronavirus leap the species barrier to humans. In the cave is their goal — a colony of bats. […]