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Doctor joins COVID-19 vaccine trial to combat mistrust in the Black community



Racialized communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in infections and deaths, but as the vaccine provides hope for many across the world, doctors are working to combat mistrust in the COVID-19 vaccine within the Black and Indigenous communities.

One doctor in the United States took matters into her own hands, by signing up to be a part of a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial and sharing her story online.

Dr. Valerie Fitzhugh is an Associate Professor of Pathology at Rutgers University Medical School. In a thread shared on Twitter, Fitzhugh detailed why she decided to join the trial and what it was like participating in one.

Fitzhugh tells CityNews she initially decided to research participating in a clinical trial because historically, it’s very difficult to get communities of colour to trust in medical establishments and to trust in some of these scientific developments, citing Henrietta Lacks’ story as just one example of this.


In the 1950s, researchers took a sample of cancer cells from Lacks without her permission while she was under anesthesia and found the cells could be grown indefinitely.

The so-called “HeLa” cells became crucial for understanding viruses, cancer treatments, in-vitro fertilization and development of vaccines, including the polio vaccine.

“There is a lot of mistrust, particularly in the Black community in the United States, around experimentation on black and brown bodies which happened, unfortunately, quite a lot in the earlier parts of the 19th century,” Fitzhugh said.

She had also heard that participation by people of colour in COVID-19 vaccine trials was low.

“Everything I had heard and everything I read had noted that the participation by people of colour was a lot lower than what they wanted at that time,” Fitzhugh said.

“The biggest driving force for me was representation by the Black community. I felt like doing my part and adding to that trial. Giving a little bit something of myself for the greater good made it so worth it.”

A study on race and health conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation in the U.S. found that Black adults were less likely than any other groups to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Just 17 per cent of Black adults said they would definitely get the vaccine and 27 per cent said they would definitely not get it.

Fitzhugh said by sharing her story, she hoped to open up an important discussion within the Black community about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Since tweeting on Dec. 12, her story has been retweeted almost 10,000 times.

“I want people to be educated. You have to trust the process and trust the science. If I at least tell my story and tell what I went though, it may give people an idea what to expect, should they get vaccinated,” Fitzhugh said.

Dr. Fitzhugh could not disclose the trial she is participating in, but said she received her first dose in October and second in November. She doesn’t know if she received a placebo or the actual vaccine at this point.

Dr. Fitzhugh says she could be “unblinded” soon and find out whether she has been vaccinated. She’s currently eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine through her work as a physician, but doesn’t want to take the vaccine away from another doctor or hospital worker if it is not necessary.

“I’m tired of seeing people who look like me die of this disease.”

“What I find to be so important now is that we have these discussions, we openly discuss why the hesitancy is there, why the mistrust is there so that we can have educated conversations going forward about people at least considering being vaccinated,” Dr. Fitzhugh said. “I don’t think trying to convincing people to be vaccinate is the appropriate approach. We need to have the conversations, acknowledge the hesitancy and why it’s there.”

Fitzhugh says hearing so many stories and seeing the pain of those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic made it all the more important to become apart of the trial.

“I’m tired of seeing people who look like me die of this disease.”

“I hope people at least consider being vaccinated. I do want people to get the information that’s available. I want people to talk to their physicians…and ask the difficult questions,” she said.

Gerald Evans, the Chair for Infection Diseases at Queen’s University, says there is a clear difference between those who are hesitant to receive a vaccine and so-called “anti-vaxxers.”

“It isn’t anti-vaxxer at all. There is an intrinsic hesitancy when you think to yourself ‘Were there enough people who are like me enrolled in these studies so I can be confident about the data?’ Over history, there has been a significant disadvantage amongst people who were not white in scientific studies,” Evans said.

With most of the data around vaccine hesitancy and mistrust coming from the U.S., Evans said they are making a push to collect similar data in Canada as vaccine rollout plans continue to be formulated.

“I know that there is a big move to make sure we do the same move here in Canada, getting away from just general polling information and really understanding within these communities what is the feeling about taking the vaccine,” Evans said.


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FTX founder Bankman-Fried objects to tighter bail, says prosecutors 'sandbagged' him – Reuters



NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried on Saturday urged a U.S. judge not to ban the indicted FTX cryptocurrency executive from communicating with former colleagues as part of his bail, saying prosecutors “sandbagged” the process to put their client in the “worst possible light.”

The lawyers were responding to a Friday night request by federal prosecutors that Bankman-Fried not be allowed to talk with most employees of FTX or his Alameda Research hedge fund without lawyers present, or use the encrypted messaging apps Signal or Slack and potentially delete messages automatically.

Bankman-Fried, 30, has been free on $250 million bond since pleading not guilty to charges of fraud in the looting of billions of dollars from the now-bankrupt FTX.

Prosecutors said their request was in response to Bankman-Fried’s recent effort to contact a potential witness against him, the general counsel of an FTX affiliate, and was needed to prevent witness tampering and other obstruction of justice.

But in a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said prosecutors sprung the “overbroad” bail conditions without revealing that both sides had been discussing bail over the last week.

“Rather than wait for any response from the defense, the government sandbagged the process, filing this letter at 6:00 p.m. on Friday evening,” Bankman-Fried’s lawyers wrote. “The government apparently believes that a one-sided presentation – spun to put our client in the worst possible light – is the best way to get the outcome it seeks.”

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers also said their client’s efforts to contact the general counsel and John Ray, installed as FTX’s chief executive during the bankruptcy, were attempts to offer “assistance” and not to interfere.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan declined to comment.

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers proposed that their client have access to some colleagues, including his therapist, but not be allowed to talk with Caroline Ellison and Zixiao “Gary” Wang, who have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors.

They said a Signal ban isn’t necessary because Bankman-Fried is not using the auto-delete feature, and concern he might is “unfounded.”

The lawyers also asked to remove a bail condition preventing Bankman-Fried from accessing FTX, Alameda or cryptocurrency assets, saying there was “no evidence” he was responsible for earlier alleged unauthorized transactions.

In an order on Saturday, Kaplan gave prosecutors until Monday to address Bankman-Fried’s concerns.

“The court expects all counsel to abstain from pejorative characterizations of the actions and motives of their adversaries,” the judge added.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrea Ricci

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Gold declines in light of the report that revealed inflation continues to decline – Kitco NEWS



As of 6:00 PM EST, the February contract of gold futures has fallen for the second time in the last seven trading days. Currently, gold futures are fixed at $1927.60, a decline of $2.40 or 0.12%. Gold traded to a high of $1935.40, and a low of $1916.50.

The key takeaway from today’s PCE inflation index report was that the core PCA index declined in December by 0.3%. The preferred inflation index used by the Federal Reserve was at 4.7% year-over-year in November and declined to 4.4% year-over-year last month.


Both reports will influence decisions made by the Fed at next week’s FOMC meeting.

They will be critical components used by the Federal Reserve next week and will most likely strengthen the conviction of hawkish Fed officials to maintain their extremely aggressive monetary policy. Currently, the Federal Reserve’s forward guidance is composed of additional rate hikes and maintaining elevated rates for a longer time.

The most likely outcome is that the Fed will raise the rate by ¼% at the next two meetings. The Federal Reserve has stated they continue to work to reach its inflation target of 2%. A vast majority of market participants continue to believe that the Fed will backpedal on its commitment to keep rates elevated through 2023.

I will be speaking at the VRIC 2023 (Sunday, January 29-30) at the Vancouver Convention Center. Both Kitco News and I wish to welcome you if you’re available.

For those who would like more information simply use this link.

Wishing you as always good trading,

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Afraid to check a bag? Canada's missing baggage woes explained – CBC News



Deborah Cleary was exasperated.

When she landed in Montreal on Dec. 19, following a trip to Italy, she discovered her suitcase was missing. More than a month later, Air Canada still hadn’t found her bag. 

“I’ve spent so much time thinking about it, worrying about it, checking online, calling Air Canada,” said Cleary from her home in Plattsburg, N.Y., on Tuesday. “I’m just sort of desperate to get my bag back.”


The post-pandemic return to travel has been turbulent, plagued by mass flight disruptions and missing baggage piling up at airports. That has led to calls for airlines to improve their baggage delivery systems.

“It’s broken, so I think they need to fix that,” said Cleary, who visited the Montreal airport two weeks ago to search for her bag amidst a sea of unclaimed luggage. She didn’t find it.

However, following a CBC News inquiry to Air Canada, Cleary learned on Friday that her suitcase is being shipped to her home. 

“I’m very, very happy,” she said. “I had almost resigned myself, I was never going to see it again.”

Deborah Cleary and Dan Albert of Plattsburgh, NY pose for photo during their vacation to Italy.
Deborah Cleary and Dan Albert of Plattsburgh, N.Y., are still waiting to be reunited with their missing baggage that disappeared on their return flight from Milan to Montreal. (submitted by Deborah Cleary)

Canada’s first round of missing baggage chaos erupted in the summer, largely sparked by staffing shortages as airports and airlines scrambled to ramp up operations. 

There were high hopes the holiday travel season would go more smoothly — until severe winter storms hit much of Canada, causing hundreds of delayed and cancelled flights, plus a backlog of lost luggage.

“In the airline industry, a delay of greater than 15 minutes generally results in missed connections,” said former Air Canada executive Duncan Dee. “Delays equal missing bags.”

Former Air Canada executive, Duncan Dee.
Former Air Canada executive Duncan Dee says airports need more infastrucutre funding to keep operations running smoothly during bad weather. (CBC)

Dee said airlines need to do a better job keeping track of luggage, and the federal government also needs to invest more in airports.

In late December, cold weather caused a baggage belt to freeze at Toronto’s international airport; a fierce snow storm caused widespread flight delays and cancellations at Vancouver’s international airport.

“There’s obviously a need for better infrastructure, better resources for airports … to make them more resilient to these weather events,” said Dee.

What about the airlines?

When asked this week about recent travel chaos, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said airports will get the tools they need, but did not elaborate. 

On the baggage issue, he pointed the finger at airlines. 

“I find it extremely frustrating when I hear stories of people not having their luggage for days on end,” he said during an event in Hamilton. “Airlines should be doing more.”

His comments follow several recent media reports about air passengers’ struggles to find their missing luggage

They include the saga of Nakita Rees and Tom Wilson of Cambridge, Ont., who battled with Air Canada for more than four months to retrieve Wilson’s missing suitcase. 

WATCH |Ontario couple told their luggage was lost — but it wasn’t: 

Air Canada said this couple’s luggage was lost. AirTags showed otherwise

5 days ago

Duration 2:18

A couple says Air Canada donated their luggage to charity just a month after it got lost en route to Toronto’s Pearson Airport. They tracked it to a storage locker.

The bag vanished during their flight home from Greece in September. Because the couple had put an air tag tracker inside the suitcase, they were able to track its journey to a storage facility in nearby Etobicoke, Ont. 

Even though Rees shared with Air Canada the whereabouts of the bag, the airline deemed it lost. 

“The most frustrating thing about it was we had no way of getting it, even though we knew the location and we told the airline so many times,” said Rees. “Because the air tags are newer, I just don’t think airlines know how to even use that information.”

The couple finally got the suitcase back this week — after their story was picked up by the media.

Airlines respond

Other passengers have also complained about similar experiences when tracking their lost luggage with air tags. 

Former Air Canada executive Dee said airlines typically track luggage by scanning their baggage tags and that their systems currently can’t accommodate air tracking technology.

“That’s something where airline processes have not caught up to the technology that’s available,” he said. “No airline in the world has the ability right now to accept information from travellers.”

Alghabra suggested airlines need to change with the times. 

“We hear about how Amazon is able to identify where their items [are at] every moment,” he said. “It’s frustrating that airlines still have not modernized their luggage handling system.”

Air Canada told CBC News it’s constantly exploring new technologies. The airline added that its baggage delivery rate has returned to normal, following the stormy holiday weather. 

Air Canada said that in Rees’ case, the baggage tag had fallen off the suitcase. The airline didn’t say how it eventually located the couple’s bag, but did indicate that they get to keep the $2,300 in compensation they received for lost luggage. 

WestJet said it has launched a strategic review to fine-tune its baggage systems. “[We] are committed to working together with our third-party service partners … to ensure we improve in this area,” said spokesperson Madison Kruger in an email. 

Baggage compensation

Travellers can claim up to approximately $2,350 for luggage that is lost or delayed on an international flight. For delayed baggage on domestic flights, the airlines design their own rules. 

Alghabra’s office told CBC News this week the government is exploring ways to strengthen rights for air passengers, including for delayed and lost baggage.

As for passenger Cleary, she had applied for compensation for a lost bag, but said getting it back is a better outcome. 

“I would much prefer to have my bag back than any money from Air Canada.”

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