SAN FRANCISCO —
One of California’s three biggest utilities says it is cutting power to at least 200,000 customers in the northern part of the state.
The move Saturday night comes as a heat wave baking California in triple-digit temperatures continued to strain the electrical system.
The California Independent System Operator (California ISO), which manages the power grid, declared a need for the rolling power outage at 6:30 p.m. The authority previously said it didn’t expect to issue more rolling blackouts Saturday.
California ISO ordered the first rolling outages in nearly 20 years on Friday when it directed utilities around the state to shed their power loads. The state’s three biggest utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric — turned off power to more than 410,000 homes and businesses for about an hour at a time until the emergency declaration ended 3 1/2 hours later.
The move came as temperatures around the state hit triple digits in many areas, and air conditioning use soared.
The power grid is mostly stressed during the late afternoon and early evening because of higher demand and solar energy production falling. The state tried to prepare for the expected rise in electricity use by urging conservation and trying to buy more power. But a high-pressure system building over Western states meant there was less available.
A power outage caused a pump to fail at a wastewater treatment plant in Oakland, resulting in a sewer backup and the release of some 50,000 gallons of raw sewage into a waterway, the East Bay Municipal Utility District said.
The district said the outage began around 5 p.m. Friday, more than an hour before the rolling outages occurred, and sewage began to spill early Saturday. The agency said the sudden outage affected its ability to connect to backup power at the plant and during that time, workers were dealing with flooding while trying to restore power.
The agency warned boaters to stay away from the Oakland Estuary as it investigates the accident.
The state remained gripped by the heat wave Saturday, with several records either tied or broken, according to the National Weather Service.
The last time the state ordered rolling outages was during an energy crisis in 2001. Blackouts occurred several times from January to May, including one that affected more than 1.5 million customers. The cause was a combination of energy shortages and market manipulation by energy wholesalers, infamously including Enron Corp., that drove up prices by withholding supplies.
Counties up and down the state reported scattered outages, although the city of Los Angeles, which has its own power generating system, wasn’t affected.
The heat wave brought brutally high temperatures, increased wildfire danger and fears of coronavirus spread as people flock to beaches and parks for relief. A thunderstorm rolling from the Central Coast to inland Southern California also brought dry lightning that sparked several small blazes, wind and flash flooding in the high desert.
Records were set in Lake Elsinore, where the mercury hit 114; Riverside at 109 and Gilroy at 108, according to the National Weather Service. The high in Borrego Springs, in the desert northeast of San Diego, was 118. Coastal cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles sweltered in 86 and 98 degrees, respectively.
Several cities opened cooling centres, but with limited capacity because of social distancing requirements.
San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management issued simultaneous tweets urging residents to prepare for power outages and to protect themselves from the coronavirus during the heat wave.
“Stay home when possible. If it feels too hot indoors, seek cooler temps outside, keep physical distance, wear a face covering,” the department tweeted.
The scorching temperatures are a concern for firefighters battling blazes that have destroyed several homes and erupted near rural and urban foothill neighbourhoods, driving through tinder-dry brush.
In addition to the possibility of heat stroke and other hot-weather illnesses, health officers were concerned that people will pack beaches, lakes and other recreation areas without following mask and social distancing orders — a major concern in the state that has seen more than 613,000 coronavirus cases.
Israel saw a COVID-19 resurgence after a May heat wave inspired school officials to let children remove their masks, Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“People will want to take off their masks when it’s hot,” Rutherford said. “Don’t do it.”
Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidate begins phase 3 trial – Global News
The study starting Wednesday will be one of the world’s largest coronavirus vaccine studies so far, testing the shot in 60,000 volunteers in the U.S., South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
A handful of other vaccines in the U.S. — including shots made by Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. — and others in other countries are already in final-stage testing. Hopes are high that answers about at least one candidate being tested in the U.S. could come by year’s end, maybe sooner.
U.S. health officials insist the race for a vaccine isn’t cutting corners.
“We want to do everything we can without sacrificing safety or efficacy — we’re not going to do that — to make sure that we end up with vaccines that are going to save lives,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told reporters.
But many vaccine specialists question whether the Food and Drug Administration will stick to that goal under intense pressure from the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has consistently presented a faster timeline for a new vaccine than experts say is adequate to fully test the candidates.
Meanwhile, testing of still another experimental vaccine, made by AstraZeneca, remains on hold in the U.S. as officials examine a safety question, even though studies have resumed in other countries.
Earlier this week, Vice-President Mike Pence urged state governors to “do your part to build public confidence that it will be a safe and effective vaccine.”
Coronavirus: Trump says his administration expects vaccines for every American by April
And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, added in the call to governors that he is confident in “a tried and true process” that has checks and balances built in, including an independent board evaluating the progress of each vaccine trial, as well as “the integrity of the FDA.”
A recording of the call was provided to The Associated Press.
Senators were scheduled to question FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Fauci and other administration officials later Wednesday about the pandemic response.
Even if the FDA were to allow emergency use of a vaccine by year’s end, supplies would be limited and given first to vulnerable groups such as health workers. Most Americans aren’t likely to receive a vaccine until sometime next year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants states to get ready now to roll out vaccinations, which will present enormous logistical challenges. On Wednesday the CDC was set to announce distribution of $200 million in congressionally approved funds to help begin setting up operations.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the COVID-19 vaccine campaign will build on longstanding co-operation between the federal government and the states on immunizations.
J&J’s vaccine is made with slightly different technology than others in late-stage testing, modeled on an Ebola vaccine the company created. Unlike the other three vaccines that started late-stage testing in the U.S., it requires only one shot, not two. Despite a later start to testing than some of its competitors, Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, told reporters that the study was large enough to yield answers possibly by early next year.
Associated Press writers Lauran Neergaard and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Johnson & Johnson begins giant trial testing one-dose COVID shot – BNN
Johnson & Johnson has begun dosing up to 60,000 volunteers in a study of its COVID-19 vaccine, marking the first big U.S. trial of an inoculation that may work after just one shot.
J&J became the fourth vaccine maker to move its candidate into late-stage human studies in the U.S. If enrollment goes as expected, the trial could yield results as soon as year-end, allowing the company to seek emergency authorization early next year, should it prove effective, according to Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels.
“A single dose could be a very efficient tool to combat the pandemic as it is faster acting,” he said Wednesday in an interview. Animal models and early human studies showed that one shot of its vaccine generated a strong immune response in just 15 days, he said.
The final-stage study will pit the vaccine against a placebo injection, with a goal of showing whether it reduces cases of moderate to severe COVID-19, “the most important part of the disease to prevent,” Stoffels said. J&J is also looking at whether the shot curbs the virus’s spread.
The company’s shares rose as much as 2.3 per cent in New York.
The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company published detailed trial plans on Wednesday. Frontrunners Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc have already done the same in a broader transparency push.
“It is likely that multiple COVID-19 vaccine regimens will be required to meet the global need,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a statement. J&J’s vaccine “may be especially useful in controlling the pandemic if shown to be protective after a single dose.”
The study is nearly two months behind those of Moderna, working with NIAID, and Pfizer, partnered with BioNTech SE, whose final-stage trials started in late July. Pfizer has said it could get efficacy results by the end of October. Those vaccines use two-dose regimens.
J&J’s vaccine could offer an advantage in distribution over those inoculations, which require vaccination sites to ensure recipients return for their second dose. The company also said its vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for three months, far longer than the Pfizer vaccine that requires deep freezing for long-term storage.
“In countries where there is less health-care infrastructure, it can be much better used at a very large scale,” Stoffels told Bloomberg. “Single dose, easy to use in the field are the main characteristics that make it different.”
Years in the Making
The J&J product is made from a cold virus, called an adenovirus, that’s modified to make copies of the coronavirus’s spike protein, which the pathogen uses to enter cells. The altered virus can’t replicate in humans, but it induces an immune response that prepares the body for an actual COVID-19 infection. The vaccine was developed with researchers at Harvard University who have spent years working on the adenovirus vaccine platform, which is also used in J&J’s Ebola vaccine.
The health-care behemoth is running the study in conjunction with NIAID and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority at sites in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and other countries. It will include significant representation among those over the age of 60, as well as minorities at disproportionate risk of becoming infected, including Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaskan Native peoples, according to a statement.
J&J has also agreed to collaborate with the U.K. on a separate phase 3 clinical trial that will test a two-dose regimen of the vaccine in multiple countries, with two months between each dose, according to Stoffels. That booster could be critical to providing long-term protection, he said.
The decision to begin the final-stage trial was based on data from an earlier human study that showed a single shot was safe and stimulated a strong immune response, Stoffels said.
Like other final-stage vaccine trials, J&J’s study is monitored by an independent board of doctors and statisticians who wait for a certain number of coronavirus cases to accumulate before looking at the data.
The trial aims to accumulate 154 cases for a final analysis. If the vaccine turns out to be more than 90% effective, the study could produce results after just 20 cases, Stoffels said. He said that scenario is unlikely, though.
J&J’s trial appears to have stringent criteria for declaring early success that prevent a readout based on very short-term results in patients with relatively moderate symptoms. Based on discussions with U.S. regulators, the data won’t undergo its first analysis until at least half of participants have been vaccinated for two months or more.
The study will also have to accrue at least 5 severe cases for an early readout. And to be considered a success, the absolute number of severe cases needs to be half of that in the placebo group, along with other benchmarks, according to documents posted on J&J’s website.
Still, the study will take less time to complete than it would with two doses. Scientists will start counting cases just 15 days after patients get their inoculations or placebo shots.
Despite accelerated timelines, Operation Warp Speed won’t cut corners in confirming vaccine safety or efficacy, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins said on the Tuesday media call. “That absolutely will not be allowed to happen,” he said.
Stoffels said J&J will continue to clinch new manufacturing partnerships to meet its 1 billion dose production goal for 2021. The company has already kick-started at-risk manufacturing in hopes the shot will prove successful in the clinic.
The 6 Big Takeaways From Tesla’s Battery Day – CleanTechnica
The overall content of the Tesla Battery Day presentation might have been overwhelming for those who do not have a technical background in battery development. The level of abstraction that Elon Musk and Drew Baglino presented relative to Tesla’s battery tech was surprisingly low, even though I’m sure they thought their presentation was just an overview.
|Elon Musk talks batteries (Source: Tesla)|
Given that, it might be a good idea to “pull the lens back” just a bit and discuss the major takeaways:
1. The holy grail of battery tech — a cost of less than $100 per kWh — will be achieved and production-ready in less three years. That means a significant reduction in vehicle cost and the real likelihood that a mass-market, $25,000 Tesla will be available in three years.
2. The technical breakthroughs and improvements presented during the battery day presentation mean that a transition away from fossil fuels for most, if not all, energy needs is no longer a pipe dream. If Tesla can achieve (and it’s likely that it will) a 3 TWh battery production capability within the next decade, the entire face of the energy and power delivery system will be transformed.
3. The new paradigm that Tesla uses for building the “machine that builds the machine” is groundbreaking, representing substantial improvement that will increase production capacity and lower production costs. Tesla used vertical integration, avoids sub-optimization, and makes the entire production process more efficient. This paradigm will bode well for Tesla’s ability to produce cars and trucks in great volume. The capital investment (CapEx) in production facilities will be less costly than originally assumed, making the company more profitable.
4. Tesla is building an increasingly bigger “moat” that will enable it to keep even the most able competitors at bay. Batteries are the pivotal element for long range, high performance and low cost EVs. From what we’ve seen, there’s no other company that’s even close to the battery tech that was previewed during Battery Day.
5. Tesla and Musk care more about the stuff that really matters — the underlying tech infrastructure for building EVs — than they do about the “bling” of new vehicle designs every n years. It’s the tech infrastructure that really matters for long-term success.
6. Tesla is not resting on its laurels. It appears that they’re working to jettison existing methods and approaches to EV design and production, replacing them with new and better ideas.
And finally … it’s hard to imagine any other CEO at a major auto company that can drive technical effort in the manner that Elon Musk has accomplished to date. Much like SpaceX, this rate of progress could accelerate in the coming years. As Musk says, Tesla is a “hardcore engineering” company … and it shows in their relentless pursuit of improvement.
Source: – Alberni Valley News
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