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Pfizer CEO ‘not certain’ their vaccine stops transmission of Covid-19 as company’s jab approved in UK and evaluated in US

Posted by RT on December 4, 2020  |   Comments Off on Pfizer CEO ‘not certain’ their vaccine stops transmission of Covid-19 as company’s jab approved in UK and evaluated in US

The top executive at pharma giant Pfizer said it still isn’t clear if those who receive the company’s vaccine will be able transmit the coronavirus to others, just one day after the UK became the first to approve the inoculation.

While Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he expects the vaccine rollout to be rapid after it gets the greenlight from US health officials, following in the steps of Britain, he noted that it remains to be seen whether recipients of the jab can still carry and pass the virus. 

“Even though I’ve had the protection, am I still able to transmit it to other people?” NBC’s Lester Holt asked in an interview on Thursday night, prompting a startling response from Bourla:

I think this is something that needs to be examined. We are not certain about that right now.

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FILE PHOTO: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
‘Superficial’: Fauci slams UK over hasty Pfizer vaccine approval, says FDA doing it ‘the correct way’

Last month, Pfizer announced that its vaccine – developed alongside German firm BioNTech – had proven to be more than 90 percent effective in giving immunity to trial participants, getting the greenlight from UK health authorities on Wednesday to begin distribution for widespread use.

Pfizer has applied for emergency approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the agency has been more reluctant to pass the immunization, with a top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, saying his UK counterparts “really rushed through that approval” while praising the FDA’s “very careful” authorization process.

While the two pharma firms stand by the effectiveness of their vaccine, an inability to halt transmission from virus carriers could mean the inoculation falls short of the lofty expectations voiced by some officials in the US and UK.

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Britain's Business Secretary Alok Sharma speaks during a virtual news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain November 12, 2020. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS
‘The day UK led humanity’s charge against Covid’: Tory MP Sharma mocked for over-the-top cheer as London approves foreign vaccine

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Israel warns its citizens they may be targeted abroad by Iran following nuclear scientist’s assassination

Posted by RT on December 3, 2020  |   Comments Off on Israel warns its citizens they may be targeted abroad by Iran following nuclear scientist’s assassination

Israel has issued a warning to its citizens abroad about potential terrorist attacks amid threats from Tehran of retaliatory action in response to the killing of a top Iranian nuclear scientist.

Iran was quick to blame Israel last week for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, though it has not taken credit for the action. Fakhrizadeh had been accused of heading Iran’s nuclear program – even being named by PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has long been critical of Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. 

As multiple leaders in Iran have threatened consequences for the scientist’s death, Israelis abroad have been warned of possible potential attacks against them and Israeli facilities. 

The warning, released on Thursday from Israel’s counterterrorism center, lists Turkey, UAE (United Arab Emirates), Bahrain, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the Kurdish region of Iraq as areas where Israelis are at a higher risk of facing potential threats from Iran and its allies. 

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shown in a 2018 press briefing in Tel Aviv identifying Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh as a threat to Israel's security.
US officials anonymously blame Israel for assassinating Iran’s top nuclear scientist – reports

“In light of threats recently coming from Iranian agents and in light of Iranian agents’ past involvement in terror attacks in various countries, there is concern that Iran will try to act in such a way against Israeli targets,” the warning reads. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has accused Israel of being behind the death of Fakhrizadeh, and said retaliation will come “at the proper time.”

“Once again, the evil hands of Global Arrogance and the Zionist mercenaries were stained with the blood of an Iranian son,” he said on Saturday of the death. 

Israeli cabinet minister Tzachi Hanegbi said on the same day that he had “no clue” who is responsible.

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New Year’s Eve parties ruled out by Airbnb in bid to deter Covid-spreading gatherings

Posted by RT on December 3, 2020  |   Comments Off on New Year’s Eve parties ruled out by Airbnb in bid to deter Covid-spreading gatherings

Short-stay rental giant Airbnb has toughened its booking rules ahead of New Year’s Eve in a bid to crack down on people throwing parties in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, as well as to try to limit the spread of Covid-19.

From Thursday, Airbnb users lacking positive reviews will be barred from booking one-night stays in entire-home listings on December 31 in Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, Spain, the UK and US. 

Customers will also need to tick a box when booking to specifically promise that they will not throw a NYE bash, the San Francisco-based firm said in a statement on Thursday.

The company added that it would honor already booked one-night reservations, as previous data shows that those looking to throw parties at Airbnb properties are more likely to book in December.

Airbnb’s rules were updated in August to include a worldwide ban on parties and gatherings of 16 or more people due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with those who flout the guidelines potentially liable for legal action. 

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FILE PHOTO. Airbnb logo is seen in front of diplayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Airbnb announces GLOBAL PARTY BAN, threatens lawsuits for social distancing violators

It took similar action for Halloween this year, banning all one-night reservations in entire-home listings in the US and Canada in a bid to stamp out parties. The company said the move went “successfully.”

As part of the NYE measures, Airbnb will also prevent guests who don’t have a history of positive reviews booking close to their own homes.

The company said it would also be operating a “virtual command center” on NYE, with “trained safety agents” on call throughout the night, should any issues” arise. 

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News24.com | Data dampens European stocks, helps Wall Street

Posted by Fin24 Markets on December 3, 2020  |   Comments Off on News24.com | Data dampens European stocks, helps Wall Street
Europe's equity markets slipped Thursday on survey data indicating the region's economy continued to be battered by coronavirus fallout, while positive jobs data helped Wall Street open higher.

Germany to slaughter 29,000 chickens after bird flu outbreak on poultry farm

Posted by RT on December 3, 2020  |   Comments Off on Germany to slaughter 29,000 chickens after bird flu outbreak on poultry farm

Regional authorities in Germany announced that around 29,000 chickens will be slaughtered in the country’s eastern area of Mecklenburgische Seenplatte after an outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu.

In recent weeks, multiple countries across Europe have reported outbreaks of avian flu to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), with incidents in poultry in Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden and the UK, as well as in wild birds in Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands. 

While the most recent incident only covers nearly 30,000 chickens, a 10-kilometer observation area is being set up around the German case to cover almost 500 nearby farms – which contain nearly 644,000 poultry between them – to prevent any potential further cases.

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FILE PHOTO
English farm to cull 10,500 turkeys as concern grows over wave of bird flu from Europe

In response to the recent outbreaks, the EU Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has warned countries that close cooperation between animal, public, environmental and occupational health authorities will be required to avoid further escalation of the situation on the continent.

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FILE PHOTO © REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
Belgium culls 151,000 chickens after Europe's latest bird flu outbreak on farm near French border

The EFSA has recommended similar measures to the UK’s Avian Influenza Prevention Zone, including continued surveillance of wild birds and their flocks to minimize infectious contact with farmed fowl. The UK government will additionally require poultry keepers to take a range of biosecurity precautions, including keeping free-range flocks indoors until the threat is deemed to have passed.

Although the risk to humans is considered low – as transmission from birds to people is rare and human-to-human transmission has not been observed – if contracted, it can cause severe illness.

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Beijing blasts US govt over visa restrictions for China Communist Party members

Posted by RT on December 3, 2020  |   Comments Off on Beijing blasts US govt over visa restrictions for China Communist Party members

Beijing slammed “extremist anti-China forces” in the US government on Thursday as Washington revealed new restrictions on travel to the US by Chinese Communist Party members and their families.

The Trump administration issued the new rules, aimed at protecting the US from the party’s “malign influence,” on Thursday. Under the measures, the maximum validity of B1/B2 visitor visas for party members and their immediate family is being reduced from 10 years to just one month, the State Department said in a statement.

Just like other Chinese citizens, Communist Party members – of whom there are around 92 million – could obtain US visitor visas valid for a decade, but Washington changed the rules on Wednesday, the New York Times reported earlier, citing a State Department spokesman.

The new rules take immediate effect and allow only a single entry for those affected by the change, the report said, adding that the restrictions would not affect other kinds of visas.

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© Pixabay.com
Biden says he will keep Trump’s tariffs on China for a while

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Thursday she wasn’t aware of the report about the new visa rules, but noted that it had been revealed previously that Washington may impose such restrictions.

“The world sees very clearly that this is an escalation of political suppression against China by some extremist anti-China forces in the US out of strong ideological bias and deep-seated Cold-War mentality,” Hua said.

Commenting on a US Justice Department statement that more than 1,000 Chinese researchers have left the US amid a crackdown on alleged technology theft, Hua said some politicians in Washington “see hatred, division, and confrontation” around them.

Beijing firmly rejects US actions that include “arbitrary harassment, persecution, and oppression against experts and scholars in the US,” she added.

The US had earlier slapped travel bans and financial sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials who it says were restricting political rights in the city and on officials connected to the alleged state crackdown on Uighurs and other Muslim groups in Xinjiang. China has denied the accusations.

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