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Israel's COVID-19 vaccine boosters show signs of taming Delta – CTV News

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Less than a month into a COVID-19 vaccine booster drive, Israel is seeing signs of an impact on the country’s high infection and severe illness rates fueled by the fast-spreading Delta variant, officials and scientists say.

Delta hit Israel in June, just as the country began to reap the benefits of one of the world’s fastest vaccine roll-outs.

With an open economy and most curbs scrapped, Israel went from single-digit daily infections and zero deaths to around 7,500 daily cases last week, 600 people hospitalized in serious condition and more than 150 people dying in that week alone.

On July 30, it began administering a third dose of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine to people over 60, the first country to do so. On Thursday it expanded eligibility to 30-year-olds and up whose second dose was given at least 5 months prior, saying the age may drop further.

In the past 10 days, the pandemic is abating among the first age group, more than a million of whom have received a third vaccine dose, according to Israeli health ministry data and scientists interviewed by Reuters.

The rate of disease spread among vaccinated people age 60 and over – known as the reproduction rate – began falling steadily around Aug. 13 and has dipped below 1, indicating that each infected person is transmitting the virus to fewer than one other person. A reproduction rate of less than 1 means an outbreak is subsiding.

Scientists said booster shots are having an impact on infections, but other factors are likely contributing to the decline as well.

“The numbers are still very high but what has changed is that the very high increase in the rate of infections and severe cases has diminished, as has the pace at which the pandemic is spreading,” said Eran Segal, data scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and an adviser to the government.

“This is likely due to the third booster shots, an uptake in people taking the first dose and the high number of people infected per week, possibly up to 100,000, who now have natural immunity,” Segal said.

BOOSTER VS LOCKDOWN

After reaching one of the highest per-capita infection rates in the world this month, the question now is whether Israel can battle its way out of a fourth outbreak without imposing another lockdown that would damage its economy.

Evidence has emerged showing that while the vaccine is still highly effective in preventing serious illness, its protection diminishes with time. But there is no consensus among scientists and agencies that a third dose is necessary, and the World Health Organization has said more of the world should be vaccinated with a first dose before people receive a third dose.

The United States has announced plans to offer booster doses to all Americans, eight months after their second vaccine dose, citing data showing diminishing protection. Canada, France and Germany have also planned booster campaigns.

About a million of Israel’s 9.3 million population have so far chosen not to vaccinate at all and children under 12 are still not eligible for the shots. On Thursday, health officials said they have identified waning immunity among people under 40, although relatively few have fallen seriously ill.

According to Doron Gazit, a member of the Hebrew University’s COVID-19 expert team which advises government, the rise in cases of severely ill vaccinated people in the 60 and older group has been steadily slowing to a halt in the last 10 days.

“We attribute this to the booster shots and to more cautious behavior recently,” Gazit said.

More than half of those over 60 have received a third jab, according to the Health ministry.

The rate of new severe cases among unvaccinated patients 70 and older is now seven times that of vaccinated patients, and the gap will continue to grow as long as infections rise, according to Gazit. Among those over 50, that gap is four-fold.

“We are optimistic, but very cautious,” Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz told public broadcaster Kan on Sunday. “It gives us more time, slows the spread and we’re moving away from lockdown.”

But even if the boosters are slowing the pandemic’s pace, it is unlikely to fend Delta off entirely.

Dvir Aran, biomedical data scientist at Technion – Israel’s Institute of Technology, said that while cases are retreating, other measures are needed alongside boosters to stop the pandemic. “It will take a long time until enough people get a third dose and until then thousands more people will getting seriously ill.”

Since Delta’s surge, Israel has reimposed indoor mask wearing, limitations on gatherings and ramped up rapid testing.

Its “living with COVID” policy will be tested come September, when schools reopen after summer break and when the Jewish holiday season starts, with families traditionally gathering to celebrate.

Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Dan Grebler.

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Instagram pausing Instagram Kids, eyes changes – Business News – Castanet.net

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Instagram is putting a hold on the development of Instagram kids, geared towards children under 13, so it can address concerns about access and content.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, wrote in a blog post Monday that a delay will give the company time to “work with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate the value and importance of this project for younger teens online today.”

The announcement follows a withering series by the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Facebook was aware that the use of Instagram by some teenage girls led to mental health issues and anxiety.

Yet the development of Instagram for a younger audience was met with broader push back almost immediately.

Facebook announced the development of Instagram for kids in March, saying at the time that it was “exploring a parent-controlled experience.” The push back was almost immediate and in May, a bipartisan group of 44 attorneys general wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon the project, citing the well being of children.

They cited increased cyberbullying, possible vulnerability to online predators, and what they called Facebook’s “checkered record” in protecting children on its platforms. Facebook faced similar criticism in 2017 when it launched the Messenger Kids app, touted as a way for children to chat with family members and friends approved by parents.

While concerns about Instagram for kids is ongoing, Mosseri said that Instagram believes it’s better for children under 13 to have a specific platform for age-appropriate content, and that other companies like TikTok and YouTube have app versions for that age group.

“We firmly believe that it’s better for parents to have the option to give their children access to a version of Instagram that is designed for them — where parents can supervise and control their experience — than relying on an app’s ability to verify the age of kids who are too young to have an ID,” he wrote.

Mosseri said that Instagram for kids is meant for those between the ages of 10 and 12, not younger. It will require parental permission to join, be ad free, and will include age-appropriate content and features. Parents will be able to supervise the time their children spend on the app, oversee who can message them, who can follow them and who they can follow.

While work is being paused on Instagram Kids, the company will be expanding opt-in parental supervision tools to teen accounts of those 13 and older. More details on these tools will be disclosed in the coming months, Mosseri said.

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Rescue efforts underway after 39 miners trapped underground in Sudbury – Globalnews.ca

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Rescue efforts are underway after 39 miners became trapped underground at Vale’s Totten mine in Sudbury, Ont., on Sunday afternoon.

On Monday afternoon, a Vale spokesperson confirmed the rescue crew had reached the miners and is starting the ascent. The company expects everyone to reach the surface by Monday night.

Read more:
Sudbury police search for suspect in hit-and-run homicide investigation

“We have learned that no one is injured, which is our number one concern,” Vale spokesperson Jeffrey Lewis said in an email.

“The miners have had and continue to have access to water, food and medicine.”

The company said the conveyance for transporting employees was taken offline following an incident in the shaft on Sunday afternoon.

It confirmed that employees will exit the mine through a secondary egress ladder system with the support of Vale’s mine rescue team.

When the incident took place, the employees underground immediately went to refuge stations as part of what Vale called its “normal procedures.”

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Updates to B.C.’s tailings code after Mount Polley disaster an improvement: auditor

“We have been in frequent communication with them since the incident,” the company said in a statement. “We are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of these employees.”

On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he’s relieved to hear the miners are uninjured.

“Our thoughts are with the 39 miners trapped underground in Sudbury as rescue teams work to get them safely above ground,” Ford tweeted.

Timmins—James Bay MP Charlie Angus also said he’s praying for the safety of the mining workers.

“Let’s get everyone home,” he said.


Click to play video: 'Maintenance workers trapped in Saskatchewan potash mine rescued, are safe'



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Maintenance workers trapped in Saskatchewan potash mine rescued, are safe


Maintenance workers trapped in Saskatchewan potash mine rescued, are safe – Jul 4, 2019

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Poker Pal of Evergrande Founder Heads for the Exit – Bloomberg Markets and Finance

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