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Experts condemn ‘rumors and misinformation’ about coronavirus




Scientists from nine countries have issued a joint statement “strongly condemning conspiracy theories” surrounding the origin of the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and urging those who cultivate the rumors to consider the harmful consequences of misinformation.

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International experts have expressed serious concern over persistent rumors regarding the origins of the new coronavirus.

On Wednesday of this week, 27 public health specialists hailing from international research institutions in nine countries have issued a joint statement published in The Lancet.

In the statement, they express increasing concern over the spread of unsupported claims that the new coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2 — was created and leaked from a laboratory in Wuhan, China.

“We are public health scientists who have closely followed the emergence of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and are deeply concerned about its impact on global health and well-being,” the scientists write.

The rumors — which have permeated social media and fed tabloids — have spurred specialists’ worries that misinformation could significantly harm progress in tackling SARS-CoV-2.

“The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumors and misinformation around its origins,” warn the authors of the statement in The Lancet.



Although the statement does not mention specific names or institutions, speculations about the alleged origin of the virus have incriminated the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has studied coronaviruses in bats.

However, researchers officially affiliated with that institution have repeatedly denied such claims.

“The Wuhan Institute of Virology has no infections, and the patient zero did not come from us,” Chen Quanjiao, a researcher at the institute, reportedly told media outlets.

But specialists have not been able to quash such rumors, which have been perpetuated even by individuals with highly public profiles, such as politicians.

One recent example is that of United States Senator Tom Cotton, who has publicly accused Chinese authorities of secretiveness around the true origins of the new virus.

The specialists who co-signed the new statement in The Lancet emphasize that such claims are not based in fact and that they threaten what is currently a strong international collaboration between researchers and health officials. They write:

“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

“Scientists from multiple countries have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife,” they add.


“Conspiracy theories do nothing but create fear, rumors, and prejudice that jeopardize our global collaboration in the fight against this virus,” warn the specialists.

One co-author, Peter Daszak, Ph.D., head of the public health research organization EcoHealth Alliance, based in the U.S., emphasized that rumormongering could also encourage social tension and violence.

“We’re in the midst of the social media misinformation age, and these rumors and conspiracy theories have real consequences, including threats of violence that have occurred to our colleagues in China,” Daszak commented toScience Insider.

“We have a choice whether to stand up and support colleagues who are being attacked and threatened daily by conspiracy theorists or to just turn a blind eye. I’m really proud that people from nine countries are able to rapidly come to their defense and show solidarity with people who are, after all, dealing with horrific conditions in an outbreak,” he said.

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As Monkeypox Spreads, Here's Who Should Get A Vaccine—And How – Forbes




Monkeypox vaccines will be offered to anyone in the U.S. who thinks they have been been exposed to the virus and groups most at risk of catching it, including men who have sex with men, measures officials hope will contain the growing outbreak as they work to bolster limited supplies.

Key Facts

The new strategy recommends anyone with a confirmed or suspected exposure to monkeypox get vaccinated, expanding earlier rules limiting the shots to those with known exposures only.

This includes people who have had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with monkeypox, people who know their sexual partner was diagnosed and “men who have sex with men who have recently had multiple sex partners in a venue where there was known to be monkeypox or in an area where monkeypox is spreading,” the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said.

HHS said it will make 56,000 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine immediately available to states from the national stockpile and will provide an additional 240,000 doses in the coming weeks.

Jynneos, produced by Danish biotech Bavarian Nordic, is given in two doses delivered 28 days apart and is the safer of two vaccines used against monkeypox.

Supplies are limited and officials said states with the highest rates of monkeypox and that have more people vulnerable to severe disease will be prioritized, with Hawaii, Massachusetts, Utah, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, California, Colorado and Florida and Washington, D.C., slated to be in the first tier of vaccine recipients, according to a draft of the plans seen by the Washington Post.

States may also request supplies of ACAM2000, an older vaccine developed for smallpox that is also believed to protect against monkeypox and is in much greater supply, though it is associated with serious side effects and its design makes it unsuitable for immunocompromised and pregnant people.

Key Background

Monkeypox is a well-understood entity that has flared up in parts of Central and Western Africa for decades. For decades, too, monkeypox has mostly been ignored by the global community who, before this year’s outbreak, rarely encountered the disease and these instances were almost always linked to travel. It does not spread easily and is primarily transmitted through close contact with an infected animal or person or contaminated objects like towels, clothes or bedding, though it can also spread via respiratory droplets produced when people breathe, cough, talk or sneeze. Monkeypox typically causes symptoms that include fever and a characteristic rash. The infection is usually relatively mild and will go away on its own within a month or so. It can kill and cause serious illness, however, and infection is particularly risky for children and pregnant people. The virus is a close relative of smallpox, unarguably one of the deadliest diseases to plague humanity and the only human disease to have ever been eradicated. This proximity means treatments and vaccines are available for monkeypox, even if not designed for it.

News Peg

In May, the near-simultaneous emergence of monkeypox in countries where it does not usually spread in Europe and North America alarmed experts and public health authorities. Some of these experts have long warned that the complete cessation of smallpox vaccination would leave the world vulnerable to monkeypox outbreaks and the way cases cropped up suggests it may have been quietly circulating for some time. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there have been 351 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S. as of June 29, with large clusters in California (80), New York (72), Illinois (46) and Florida (35). The official count is likely to be a severe underestimate and could be painting an overly rosy picture of the disease’s spread. Experts warn that inadequate and underwhelming testing for the virus has left the nation ignorant as to the true extent of the outbreak. Globally, the CDC said there have been more than 5,000 cases confirmed across 51 different countries by laboratory testing during the 2022 outbreak. The bulk of these have been recorded in European countries like the U.K. (1,076), Germany (874), Spain (800), France (440), Portugal (391) and the Netherlands (257). A notable cluster has also been documented in Canada (276). Many more cases are suspected, but not confirmed, and official tallies likely underestimate the number of cases, particularly in areas with poor testing infrastructure. This data also does not capture the extent of the much longer monkeypox outbreak that has been ongoing in some African countries, notably Nigeria, from earlier this year and as an endemic disease for decades. Despite seeing more infections over a much longer time period, these countries have not received any monkeypox vaccines.

Big Number

1.6 million. That’s how many doses of the Jynneos vaccine the federal government will make available this year, HHS said, including the nearly 300,000 doses already released or expected in coming weeks. HHS said it expects an additional 750,000 doses will be made available over summer and another 500,000 throughout fall. As of late June, HHS said it had already distributed more than 9,000 doses of vaccine.

What To Watch For

Vaccine supplies and changing eligibility. There is not nearly enough of the Jynneos vaccine available in the federal stockpile for everyone who might want it. There have already been supply issues in areas that launched their own initiatives ahead of the national campaign. In Washington, D.C., and New York City, for example, vaccine supplies reportedly ran out less than a day after they kick started their immunization drives. The issue could intensify if eligibility guidelines expand or the outbreak grows. Officials have acknowledged the limited supply of vaccines and suggested the national strategy may change once supplies are on firmer footing. A stronger vaccine supply chain could mean a shift to vaccinating people before they have been exposed to monkeypox, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a press briefing.


While the Jynneos vaccine may be in short supply, HHS officials told Forbes there is enough smallpox vaccine in federal stockpiles to immunize the entire U.S. population. The precise breakdown is not clear, but a significant portion consists of the ACAM vaccine. There is also a third shot, the Aventis Pasteur Smallpox Vaccine (APSV), which has similar setbacks to ACAM and has not been cleared for use. The nature of the ACAM vaccine poses some unique challenges if Jynneos supplies are insufficient. Aside from the noted risk of potentially serious side effects, the vaccine uses a related virus, vaccinia, to induce a sore or pock in the recipient, usually on the upper arm. On rare occasions, this can spread elsewhere on the body or even to other people and can leave a distinctive scar. The use of live virus limits who it can be given to, notably excluding people with compromised immune systems, those in close contact with such people and pregnant people. As monkeypox cases have been reported disproportionately among men who have sex with men, this poses a potentially significant problem, as rates of people living with HIV are higher in that community. An additional issue arises with how the ACAM shot is used. It relies on an old form of immunization featuring a distinct technique and special bifurcated needle, which most practicing clinicians are unlikely to have much, if any, experience using.

Further Reading

LGBTQ Pride events offer a make-or-break moment for monkeypox (NBC News)

What To Know About How Monkeypox Spreads—And Whether You Should Wear A Mask (Forbes)

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A person caught Covid from a cat, first confirmed case says Scientific American – Boing Boing



It took two years, but researchers are now convinced that cats — although highly unlikely — can transmit SARS-CoV-2 to humans after a vet in Thailand caught the virus from a sneezy pet tabby who tested positive with the virus. This is the “first solid evidence” of a cat-to-human transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, according to American Scientific.

The feline finding, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases on 6 June, came about by accident, says co-author Sarunyou Chusri, an infectious-disease researcher and physician at Prince of Songkla University in Hat Yai, southern Thailand. In August, a father and son who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were transferred to an isolation ward at the university’s hospital. Their ten-year-old cat was also swabbed and tested positive. While being swabbed, the cat sneezed in the face of a veterinary surgeon, who was wearing a mask and gloves but no eye protection.

Three days later, the vet developed a fever, sniffles and a cough, and later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, but none of her close contacts developed COVID-19, suggesting that she had been infected by the cat. Genetic analysis also confirmed that the vet was infected with the same variant as the cat and its owners, and the viral genomic sequences were identical.

But researchers say cat-to-human transmission is “probably rare,” according to Scientific American, as “infected cats don’t shed much virus, and shed for only a few days,” according to University of Hong Kong virologist Leo Poon. Other animals known to have passed the virus on to humans in very rare circumstances include mink, pet hamsters, and white-tailed deer. Of course humans are the main, nearly exclusive spreaders of Covid-19.

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'It saves lives': Medical study says established heart drug good for strokes, too – Terrace Standard – Terrace Standard



Andre Lavoie knew almost immediately that he was suffering a stroke.

The 60-year-old from Calgary was helping his wife put away groceries in 2015 when he dropped a can onto the floor.

“I bent to pick it up with my left arm and … nothing. I could not pick it up,” Lavoie said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“I said ‘Oh My God. I’m having a stroke.’ Luckily it did not affect my judgment and I went to my wife and said ‘call 911.’”

Lavoie said he is one of the lucky ones. His blood clot cleared on its own by the time the ambulance arrived, but months of headaches and a feeling of unease followed.

He agreed to be part of a focus group at the Foothills Medical Centre conducted by the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. It was part of a large study about the use of an established heart medication in stroke patients.

Research published Wednesday in the British medical journal The Lancet shows that Tenecteplase, commonly used as a clot-buster for heart attacks, is also an effective treatment for acute ischemic stroke — when blood flow through a brain artery is blocked by a clot.

The two-year study, which included Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto, included 1,600 patients at hospitals throughout Canada. It was the largest stroke clinical trial ever run in the country.

Dr. Bijoy Menon, a University of Calgary professor and a neurologist at Foothills hospital, was the co-principal investigator of the study. He said the common treatment has been a drug called Alteplase, which is effective but more difficult to administer.

He said it takes up to an hour and requires an infusion pump that needs to be monitored.

That’s not the case with the heart drug, which is simply injected and begins working almost immediately, said Menon.

“The big advantage would actually be the speed at which this could be delegated. This could be delegated really easy and fast for folks in rural hospitals, in ambulances, folks even in big hospitals … everything gets done really fast so that’s the big advantage of this new drug.

“The time you make up could really improve outcomes.”

Menon said the findings could revolutionize stroke treatment and could also offer a less expensive option in mid- and lower-income countries.

“Tenecteplase is known to be an effective clot-dissolving drug. It is very easy to administer, which makes it a game-changer when seconds count to save brain cells,” Menon said.

“When you are treating your patients faster, they tend to do better and it saves lives.”

Lavoie said when he shared his input in the focus group, he said using the heart drug in stroke patients was a good idea.

“When they said this is one injection and they can do it earlier than the other one I said ‘Jeez don’t do a study. Just do it,’” he said with a chuckle.

“If I get another stroke I know what to ask for.”

Menon said the drug is already proven to be safe and, with the results of the study, he expects it could be months rather than years before it starts to be used on a regular basis.

Carol Kenney, the clinical trials nurse coordinator, said the new drug would free nurses up to provide additional treatment for the patients once it is administered.

“We say time is brains so the quicker we treat patients the better it is.”

—Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

RELATED: VIDEO: Exoskeleton enables B.C. stroke survivor to walk nearly 2 km a day

RELATED: Stroke month aims to close gaps in medical treatment

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