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Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine confirmed to need a third booster dose

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The vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, which is administered in two doses, will require a third dose after nine months, ideally up to twelve months – at the latest – from the second injection. A new dose will be needed to consolidate protection against the coronavirus.

This was explained by Dr. Ugur Sahin, co-founder of BioNTech, during a virtual meeting with accredited foreign correspondents in Germany. The possibility of a third prick had been anticipated weeks ago, but has finally been confirmed.

In addition, a new booster dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine will be needed every year or every eighteen months. “The protection gradually lessens over time,” he said during the meeting. “We have data indicating that at six months protection drops from 95% to 91%. At eight months the antibodies diminish, that’s why the third dose is necessary.”

The new normal will be to get vaccinated against coronavirus every year, just as we do against the flu, as there are indications that the immune response, both induced and natural, gradually declines, making us more vulnerable.

The possibility of a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine – and subsequent boosters – had already been advanced by Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla two weeks ago during an interview.

Pfizer will not be the only ones. Stephane Bancel, CEO and senior partner of Moderna told CNBC that they are already working on having booster doses in the fall of 2021 for their coronavirus vaccine. This would be prepared to offer a higher degree of immunity against new strains of the coronavirus. Especially the South African variant.

One of the good news regarding Pfizer’s mRNA-based coronavirus vaccines is that they will be much easier to modify and upgrade to perform better against new variants of the virus. Unlike viral vector vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Another disadvantage of the latter is that the time between the first and second dose is longer and that it cannot be repeatedly vaccinated, since it could develop immunity against the adenovirus vector, which is as such the vehicle of administration of the dose.

Coup d’état in Burma, repression and risk of civil war

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Burma is not getting back on its feet. The situation in the country since the military coup d’état of February 1 is getting worse as the days go by, and violence is increasing. The population, desperate, continues with daily protests, many of them peaceful, which end in all occasions with repression and assassinations by the army and the military junta in command, led by commander Min Aung Hlaing.

Total control of power is maintained by the army after the imprisonment of the leader Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the key persons in the democratic transition and in control of the government until the coup. The executive elected in the elections of November 2020 did not convince the military, who arrested a large part of them, thus initiating a new stage of dictatorship. However, the Burmese population is reluctant to accept it and it could lead to a situation similar to a civil war.

Burma coup detat 2021 protesters
The situation in the country since the military coup d’état of February 1 is getting worse as the days go by, and violence is increasing

This week, the UN special envoy to Burma (Myanmar), Christine Schraner Burgener, warned of the risk of a civil war and an “imminent bloodbath” in Burma by the coup army and asked the Security Council to consider “significant actions that could reverse the course of events” in this Asian country.

According to the Association for the Assistance of Political Prisoners of Burma, since February 1, 510 people have died and 2,574 have been arrested in a country where respect for human rights is conspicuous by its absence.

The flows of people at the border with Thailand are increasing. This Monday about 2,000 people tried to cross the border to flee the army bombardment of their villages, with the unpleasant surprise that the Thai government has turned them back and refused to give them shelter.

After the escalation of tensions in recent weeks, the army has shown that it is not going to tremble and is ready to implement total repression on its population, and even to go as far as civil war.

How Could IT Downtime Be Impacting Your Business?

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IT downtime is something that happens to most businesses at one time or another, but the impacts on your business can be enormous.

The obvious impacts are on customers trying to use websites and services supported by your IT infrastructure; however, there are other side effects of repeated downtime that you may not have considered.

Repeated downtime could affect your reputation

Winning over customers is something that businesses need to be working hard at all of the time if they want to succeed, and it doesn’t take a lot to send a customer running to one of your competitors.

Customers expect to be able to get the information that they need immediately, and if they go to your website ready to buy, only to find that they can’t, then they will go somewhere else. And not only this, they are likely to share their negative experience of your company with friends, which could mean that you lose customers that you never even knew about.

Imagine this happening every time you have system downtime, and you’ll see how important it is to keep downtime to an absolute minimum.

Lost sales

If you’re running an eCommerce business and you want to know how much revenue you’re losing as a result of downtime over a year, the calculation is relatively simple. Just take your yearly sales, divide that amount by the number of minutes in a year. This figure is the amount of revenue that you lose for every minute that your website is down.

A few years ago, Amazon’s site went down for 40 minutes, and it cost them approximately $5 million in losses. Not many sites are anywhere near as big as Amazon, but it’s a good way of illustrating just how damaging downtime can be.

Lost data

If you aren’t regularly running backups and employing systems to keep your data safe, downtime can have a serious impact because it can mean that you lose important data, including customer information.

It’s important to work with a qualified IT services provider to help you create strategies to minimize downtime and keep your data safe.

Lost productivity

Every time your network goes down, your employees can’t do their jobs, and you lose out as a result. It’s estimated that the average employee loses half an hour of productive work time per week as a result of IT downtime.

And that’s just the actual time that they can’t work. As we all know, if you’ve been interrupted from doing something, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to jump straight in from where you left off as soon as you’re able to!

Impacts on your employees

As well as lost productivity, IT downtime impacts your employees because they are the ones that have to deal with the fallout of customers experiencing poor customer service as a result.

Dealing with angry customers isn’t a lot of fun, and if IT downtime is causing a lot of irate calls into your business which your employees have to deal with, then sooner or later, they are going to have had enough of it and start looking for another job.

Government of Niger raises death toll in latest massacre to 137 (but those black lives DO NOT matter)

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The Government of Niger raised to 137 the death toll in the massacre committed on Sunday in the region of Tahoua (bordering Mali), and also reported a large number of wounded, according to the balance issued Monday night.

The perpetrators of the massacre, which took place simultaneously in three villages in central Niger: Intazayane, Bakorate and Akifakif, where the attackers arrived on motorcycles and fired at point-blank range at their inhabitants, are still unknown. A military contingent managed to reach one of the three places attacked and there they engaged in a firefight with the attackers who were trying to retreat towards Mali.

Although there is no claim so far, all observers agree that the massacre has the “stamp” of other attacks perpetrated by the jihadists, active in this area thanks to their close proximity to their safe havens in neighboring Mali.

Last week, 58 farmers returning from a local market in Banibangou, Ouallam department, in the western region of Tillabéry, were coldly murdered in another similar attack, after intercepting on a road the three vehicles in which the farmers were returning.

The government has decreed a three-day official mourning period beginning this Tuesday.

Sunday’s massacre took place on the same day that the Constitutional Court of Niger proclaimed the victory of Mohamed Bazoum in the presidential elections of last February 21 with 55.66% of votes, ahead of his rival Mahamane Ousmane.

Miami Beach declares state of emergency for out-of-control spring break parties

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Miami Beach was declared in a state of emergency this Saturday due to the large crowds that formed during spring break.

Thousands of partygoers clustered in the streets, without respecting the sanitary measures that recommend keeping two meters distance between people and always wearing masks, caused a curfew to be established from 8 p.m. onwards.

“At night, there is no doubt that it becomes a place that seems to be out of control,” acknowledged Dan Gelber, the mayor. “You see things that you realize shouldn’t happen and that no community should have to put up with.”

City Manager Raul Aquila claimed they were “overwhelmed” at the crowds that resembled a “rock concert.” “You couldn’t see the pavement and you couldn’t see the grass,” he said.

However, the restrictions didn’t stop the party from continuing this Saturday. Miami Beach Police had to go all out Saturday to try to break up the large groups of tourists partying in the street in defiance of the new curfew.

The police intervention resulted in pushing, shoving, running away and several arrests.

The limit for being on the street is 8 p.m., but at that hour, the Art Deco Historic District, one of the most popular and festive areas, quickly filled up with people celebrating Saturday night with alcohol and music.

Officers had to intervene to close the venues that remained open and disperse the crowd.

European leaders close ranks with AstraZeneca vaccine: “Listen to the science, it’s safe”.

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Europe concludes this Friday a convulsive working week in which the news in the capitals of the Old Continent has been marked by a leitmotiv: AstraZeneca, the name of the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company that is now the focus of all eyes. Five frenetic and complicated days that ended, however, with a message of almost unwavering unity: AstraZeneca’s vaccine is safe and will continue to be inoculated to those who want to receive it.

And there are few clearer and more direct ways of reinforcing this position than with a photograph. Like that of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson receiving the first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine with a thumbs-up. Or that of the French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, with his arm rolled up and not looking at the needle while receiving the jab of the same formula as his British neighbor. “I felt absolutely nothing,” they both agreed.

Whether or not a picture is worth a thousand words, the fact is that France and the United Kingdom are not the only ones who have wanted to make their position clear. In Germany, which fears it is facing a new exponential growth in cases of coronavirus, the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has said that she would also take the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that she will wait until it is the turn of her age group.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the newly arrived Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, assured late in the afternoon that, since he does meet the age requirements, he will soon be taking the Anglo-Swedish multinational’s formula. And this is because Italy is one of the countries that has opted to allow those who refuse this vaccine to receive other vaccines.

All this on a day when the WHO has once again come out to defend this drug for the second time this week, as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) did on Thursday.

“The vaccine is safe and effective,” the agency insisted, and so, for the moment, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Cyprus, which have re-inoculated it this Friday. They also think so in the Netherlands, which will do it again next week; in Portugal, which will do it on Monday and in Spain, which will wait until Wednesday. Denmark, the first country to halt the process, Norway and Sweden have not yet made a decision.

For now, the only defection has come from Finland, which has suspended this vaccine after registering two cases of thrombi in patients who had risk factors associated with these disorders.

In addition, the death of a teacher in Spain from a cerebral hemorrhage after receiving a dose of AstraZeneca has been ruled out this Friday as being related to the vaccination. The preliminary report following the autopsy found no evidence of thrombosis in the body of the deceased.

And from Germany has come good news. A German researcher has postulated a probable cause (and a cure) for why venous sinus thrombosis – albeit very infrequent – has been observed in a dozen German patients. Immunization could generate antibodies in the blood that attack platelets and form clots, which would explain the low platelet levels found in the cases described so far.

Covid-19 has already caused nearly 2.7 million deaths and 122 million positives worldwide

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The coronavirus pandemic has accumulated almost 2.7 million deaths worldwide, after adding more than 10,500 additional fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the count updated by Johns Hopkins University.

The United States remains the country with the highest number of deaths, with nearly 540,000, as well as the highest number of COVID-19 cases, with more than 29.6 million. Worldwide, more than 121.8 million positives have been recorded, 588,000 of them in the last day.

Coronavirus
When the coronavirus turns into a multiorgan disease, it is not only due to an excessive reaction of the immune system that attacks its own tissues, but it is also due to the direct damage that the covid causes in vital organs.

Brazil, with more than 11.7 million cases and 287,000 deaths, is the second country in the world most affected by the pandemic in gross terms, followed by India, with 11.5 million positives and more than 159,000 deaths. Both countries are on an upward trend.

Russia, the United Kingdom and France are above four million cases, while Italy and Spain are between three and four million, with Turkey close to surpassing this barrier. In the range between two and three million are also Germany, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico, which has more than 196,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Poland, Iran, Ukraine, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Peru and the Netherlands are between one and two million, while Canada, Chile, Romania, Israel, Belgium, Portugal, Iraq, Sweden, the Philippines, Pakistan, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Hungary, Serbia, Jordan and Austria exceed half a million.

Likewise, Morocco, Japan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Lebanon have confirmed between 400,000 and 500,000 cases, while Saudi Arabia, Panama, Slovakia, Malaysia, Ecuador and Belarus have detected between 300,000 and 400,000 cases.

In the range between 200,000 and 300,000 cases are Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Nepal, Bolivia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Ireland, Denmark, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kuwait, Moldova, Costa Rica, Lithuania and Slovenia.

Finally, in the group between 100,000 and 200,000 infections are Egypt, Paraguay, Guatemala, Armenia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Qatar, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Libya, Oman, Venezuela, Burma, Bahrain, Albania, Kenya, North Macedonia, Algeria and China.

China, the country where the pandemic originated, has 101,481 infected people and 4,839 fatalities, according to the university’s report.

Left or right: why does it matter which side we choose to sleep on?

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A restful and continuous sleep, without nocturnal awakenings, is essential to be rested during the day and thus maintain our performance and ability to concentrate. In this regard, when it comes to sleeping, each person has his or her preferred position. There are those who choose to sleep on their back or stomach, and also those who prefer to sleep on their side. But which is more beneficial?

A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience reveals that sleeping on the side is the most beneficial for the body and sleeping on the stomach is the most detrimental to health. In fact, there are more vulnerable people who may be more affected by sleeping posture, such as those suffering from insomnia, pregnant women and people with sleep apnea.

In this regard, researchers argue that the best posture for pregnant women is on the left side because it facilitates blood flow and the passage of gastric flows without pressure. Thus, one of the advantages of sleeping on the side is that it relieves tension in the lumbar area and is the best recommendation for a restful sleep.

On the other hand, sleeping on the back is beneficial to avoid heartburn or stomach reflux and the spine will rest relaxed and in a natural position.

So, on the left or right side? Experts argue that sleeping on the left side is more beneficial for aligning the spine by avoiding blood pressure and glymphatic drainage. In addition, it may be the best alternative to facilitate the digestive process.

This position is the healthiest for body alignment and for those who suffer from lower back pain as it is a neutral position. It prevents the weight from falling on this area and decreases the chances of presenting any respiratory difficulty.

US House of Representatives takes first step towards regularisation of millions of immigrants

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The US House of Representatives, controlled by President Joe Biden’s Democrats, on Thursday approved two immigration reform bills to regularise nearly 4 million undocumented immigrants, mostly young people known as “dreamers” and farm workers.

The attempt at regularisation coincides with a sharp increase in the arrival of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and migrant families at the southern border, which has served as a pretext for much of the Republican opposition to reject the bills.

Migration
According to estimates by its promoters, more than 2 million young people who were brought to the US when they were minors by their parents and who are known as dreamers

The first initiative, focused on the “dreamers”, was approved with 228 votes in favour (all Democrats and nine Republicans) and 197 against.

According to estimates by its promoters, more than 2 million young people who were brought to the US when they were minors by their parents and who are known as dreamers could benefit from this reform that establishes a path to naturalisation.

Former Democratic president Barack Obama (2009-2017) first approved temporary regularisation for these young people in 2012, but the Republicans took it to court and since then it has been subject to a long legal battle.

In addition to Dreamers, the bill also provides a pathway to citizenship for TPS (Temporary Protected Status), a programme that benefits some 400,000 people, mostly Central Americans and Haitians affected by natural disasters or civil conflict.

The second bill put to the vote, which focused on agricultural workers, received 247 votes in favour, including 30 Republicans, and 174 against, one of them a Democrat.

This second initiative could be used to regularise the status of around 1 million farm workers and their families.

The Democrats’ number two in the lower house, Steny Hoyer, affirmed that “these two bills are not the solution, but they are the solution to part of the problem”.

These two measures are part of the major immigration reform that the White House is pushing through Congress, which aims to regularise 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The Democrats have opted to present the reform in parts as a strategy to receive more support from the opposition.

However, the situation at the border, where nearly 14,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed from Mexico remain in US government custody, has dominated much of the debate.

“With what’s happening on the border today, it’s probably the worst time the Democrats could offer to do this,” said House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who travelled to the border area this week.

In addition, the two documents that received the green light on Thursday are very similar versions of bills that the House already approved in 2019 but did not pass the Senate, then under Republican control.

Democrats now dominate the Senate, but their short majority requires at least 10 Republicans to pass significant reforms, an unlikely scenario at the moment.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters that “there is no path to anything right now”.

The immigration measures would thus be doomed to join the pile of bills that Democrats have passed in the House since President Joe Biden took office two months ago but that Republicans are blocking in the Senate.

Among the other bills on the backlog are electoral reform, gun control measures, labour legislation and initiatives against discrimination against the LGTBI community.

Drinks with added sugars seriously harm your health

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Consuming sugary drinks is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies, not just because of the calorie intake. Researchers at the University of Zurich found that moderate consumption of sugars is linked to increased fat production in the liver.

The scientists conducted a study on people who consumed drinks sweetened with fructose, glucose and sucrose. A total of 94 healthy men underwent the test, which found that 80 grams of sugar a day stimulates the production of lipids in the liver.

According to the researchers, the study was limited to one gender, as there is evidence of divergent metabolic effects of fructose in male and female subjects. The men had to be lean in order to exclude those with a possible increased liver fat content.

Subjects consumed three times a day sugary drinks containing fructose, glucose or sucrose to accompany their regular meals. After seven weeks, blood glucose, weight, height, body mass index, waist size and body fat percentage were measured. Similarly, fat and synthesis measurements were taken to track changes.

Until now, studies have only focused on consumption of very high amounts of sugar. The analysis found that even moderate amounts of sugars cause a change in metabolism. Of the three types of sugars, it is fructose that has a negative effect.

This study shows that daily consumption of beverages containing moderate amounts (comparable to those provided by soft drinks or commercial fruit juices) of fructose or sucrose, but not glucose, increases hepatic GA synthesis in healthy men in a basal state.

Fructose is a carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables and honey. According to researchers at the University of Zurich and the University Hospital, fat production in the liver was twice as high in the group of people who drank fructose-containing beverages. The production continued for up to twelve hours after the last consumption.

Excess fat production in the liver leads to conditions such as type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.

The WHO currently recommends only 25 grams of sugar per day, which may vary slightly from person to person. The problem is that most drinks go as far as tripling the recommended dose in a single cup. One Starbucks coffee, for example, represents the amount required by our bodies for three days.

In addition to hot drinks and smoothies, energy or fizzy drinks also exceed the mark. While a can of Coca-Cola can include 35 grams of sugar, energy drinks double that amount. Juices remain at the limit, although a 220 ml glass covers the maximum recommended by the WHO.