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Covid-19: US agencies call for pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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Johnson & Johnson vaccineIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS

US health authorities are calling for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, after reports of extremely rare blood clotting cases.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said six cases in 6.8 million doses had been reported and it was acting “out of an abundance of caution”.

Johnson & Johnson said it was also delaying vaccine rollout in Europe.

The US move follows similar rare cases in the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has prompted some curbs in its use.

The US has by far the most confirmed cases of Covid-19 – more than 31 million – with more than 562,000 deaths, another world high.

The picture for the virus in the US is complicated, though, with some areas in the north seeing surges in infections, the south less, and with the figures not always reflecting inoculation numbers.

The Johnson & Johnson jab was approved in the US on 27 February and its use has been more limited so far than that of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses.

Nevertheless, the government had hoped for hundreds of thousands of vaccinations of the jab every week as it is single-shot and its storage at common refrigerator temperatures makes it easier to distribute.

What is the recommendation?

In a joint statement, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said they were “reviewing data involving six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine”.

It said the clotting was called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).

The statement said that this type of blood clot needed a different treatment than usual.

The common treatment – an anticoagulant drug called heparin – “may be dangerous”, it said.

Pending a further review, the FDA and CDC recommended “a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution”.

This was to “ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events”.

All six cases were in women aged between 18 and 48, with symptoms six to 13 days after vaccination.

The New York Times quoted officials as saying one woman had died and a second, in Nebraska, was in a critical condition.

The joint statement said that “people who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider”.

The federal government is now likely to pause the use of the vaccine in all federally run vaccination sites, and to expect state sites to do the same.

Johnson & Johnson statement

Johnson & Johnson, a US health care company, issued a statement saying that safety was its “number one priority” and that it shared “all adverse event reports” with the health authorities.

It added: “We are aware that thromboembolic events including those with thrombocytopenia have been reported with Covid-19 vaccines. At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine.”

It also said that it had been reviewing cases with European health authorities.

“We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” it said.

Cautious approach for the incredibly rare

By Rachel Schraer, BBC health reporter

The US health protection agency has identified a very small number of the same rare form of blood clots seen in people given the AstraZeneca jab.

Governments around the world have cautiously begun to link these rare blood clotting incidents to the vaccine because of their unusual presentation – though this link hasn’t been definitively proven.

People suffering them had very low platelet counts – blood cells that normally help repair damage in the body.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works in a very similar way to the AstraZeneca one, so in some ways it’s not surprising they may cause similar side effects. And they appear to be comparably rare.

The numbers we’re talking about are so low that it’s difficult to say confidently what the risk of fatal blood clots is, but for the AstraZeneca jab it has been estimated at one-in-a-million. There have been six cases out of 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson jab.

In contrast, Covid kills one in 1,000 infected in their 40s among those who develop symptoms (and this risk is much higher among older people).

Once you get into the youngest age groups, who are less likely to die from Covid, that risk calculus shifts, particularly when there aren’t too many infections in circulation.

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AstraZeneca vaccinations

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been given safely to tens of millions of people, has also seen some extremely rare blood clotting cases.

The reports led some nations to suspend its use but most have now resumed, although in a number of cases with a recommended minimum age, for example 60 and over in Germany.

In the UK, authorities advised that those under 30 should be offered an alternative.

The delay in rolling out Johnson & Johnson in Europe, along with production and supply problems for AstraZeneca, could mean worsening problems for the European vaccination drive.

BBC.COM

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PHOTOS: Villagers erect massive penis statue to bring forth rain

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Villagers in Yothaka, in Thailand’s Chachoengsao province, ended a period of drought by building a giant erect penis statue.

Farmers in the area had been concerned that there hadn’t been enough rain recently and that water from irrigation canals was too salty and had been damaging crops.

To call forth the rain, a giant penis statue, or “Palad Khik”, was erected on Jun 9.

This week. local village headman, Chamnan Kenthongdaeng, 52, told a press conference that on June 11, just two days after the giant penis was installed it had started raining, with a shower that lasted about half an hour.

Koson Samang, the headman of a nearby village, had made a video of the rain as proof.

However, local farmers complained that the brief shower hadn’t been long enough to irrigate their fields.

Chamnan 52, promised that prayers to the phallus will continue.

 

Villagers erect massive penis statue to bring forth rain

He told Pattaya News that erecting a Palad Khik, representing fertility and new growth, was a local tradition going back decades, to the time of his grandparents.

Chamnan said that the giant penis, built in the middle of the road, wouldn’t cause any problems with traffic, because it was built on a cul-de-sac.

 

Villagers erect massive penis statue to bring forth rain

“It will be removed as soon as the seasonal rain comes,” he promised.

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G7 to agree tough measures on burning coal to tackle climate change

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Boris Johnson and David Attenborough talking in front of a projection of EarthIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionDavid Attenborough (right) is to address the summit

World leaders meeting in Cornwall are to adopt strict measures on coal-fired power stations as part of the battle against climate change.

The G7 group will promise to move away from coal plants, unless they have technology to capture carbon emissions.

It comes as Sir David Attenborough warned that humans could be “on the verge of destabilising the entire planet”.

He said G7 leaders faced the most important decisions in human history.

The coal announcement came from the White House, which said it was the first time the leaders of wealthy nations had committed to keeping the projected global temperature rise to 1.5C.

That requires a range of urgent policies, chief among them being phasing out coal burning unless it includes carbon capture technology.

Coal is the world’s dirtiest major fuel and ending its use is seen as a major step by environmentalists, but they also want guarantees rich countries will deliver on previous promises to help poorer nations cope with climate change.

The G7 will end the funding of new coal generation in developing countries and offer up to £2bn ($2.8bn)to stop using the fuel. Climate change has been one of the key themes at the three-day summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with other G7 leaders, 12 JuneIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionThe G7 summit is being held in the resort of Carbis Bay in Cornwall, south-west England

Leaders of the seven major industrialised nations – the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy – are expected to set out plans to reduce emissions from farming, transport, and the making of steel and cement.

They will commit to protecting 30% of global land and marine areas for nature by 2030. They are also expected to pledge to almost halve their emissions by 2030, relative to 2010 levels. The UK has already surpassed that commitment.

 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will hold a news conference on Sunday afternoon, the final day of a summit where he has clashed with EU leaders over the Brexit deal’s requirements for checks on goods from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden relax between sessions of the G7 summit in Cornwall, 12 JuneIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionAfter the summit US President Joe Biden – shown here with President Macron of France – will have tea with the Queen

‘Plain to see’

A video message from Sir David Attenborough was played to world leaders in Cornwall on Sunday as they set out their plans for meeting emissions targets.

Speaking beforehand, Sir David said: “The natural world today is greatly diminished… Our climate is warming fast. That is beyond doubt. Our societies and nations are unequal and that is sadly plain to see.

“But the question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilising the entire planet.”

He said the decisions facing the world’s richest countries were “the most important in human history”.

As well as the measures on coal and ending almost all direct government support for the fossil fuel sector overseas, the G7 is expected to phase out petrol and diesel cars.

BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin said there had been “a crucial lack of detail on two questions so far: the proposed green masterplan to help developing countries get clean technology and the amount of cash richer [countries] will hand to the poorer to tackle the climate crisis”.

China, which according to one report was responsible for 27% of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2019 – the most of any country – is not part of the G7.

What is climate change?

The Earth’s average temperature is about 15C (59F) but has been much higher and lower in the past.

There are natural fluctuations in the climate but scientists say temperatures are now rising faster than at many other times.

This is linked to the greenhouse effect, which describes how the Earth’s atmosphere traps some of the Sun’s energy.

Solar energy radiating back to space from the Earth’s surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases and re-emitted in all directions.

This heats both the lower atmosphere and the surface of the planet. Without this effect, the Earth would be about 30C (86F) colder and hostile to life.

 

Scientists believe we are adding to the natural greenhouse effect, with gases released from industry and agriculture trapping more energy and increasing the temperature.

This is known as climate change or global warming. You can read our simple explainer here.

The G7 leaders are also expected to endorse a plan aimed at reversing the loss of biodiversity – a measure of how many different species live in ecosystems – by the end of the decade.

Mr Johnson is also launching a £500m fund to protect the world’s oceans and marine life.

The “blue planet fund” will help countries including Ghana, Indonesia and Pacific Island states, tackle unsustainable fishing, protect and restore coastal ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs, and reduce marine pollution.

A major UN report from 2019 said that global emissions of carbon dioxide must peak by 2020 to keep the planet from warming by more than 1.5C.

Graphic showing the faces of each leader

BBC.COM

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Macron ‘slapper’ bags 4-month prison sentence

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A 28-year-old Frenchman who described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right “patriot” was sentenced to four months in prison Thursday for slapping President Emmanuel Macron in the face.

Damien Tarel was also banned from ever holding public office in France and from owning weapons for five years over the swipe Tuesday, which caught Macron’s left cheek with an audible thwack as the French leader was greeting a crowd.

During Thursday’s trial, Tarel testified that the attack was impulsive and unplanned, and prompted by anger at France’s “decline.”

He sat straight and showed no emotion as the court in the southeastern city of Valence convicted him on a charge of violence against a person invested with public authority. He was sentenced to four months in prison and handed an additional 14-month suspended sentence. His girlfriend broke down in tears.

Tarel, who shouted a centuries-old royalist war cry as he hit the president, described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right “patriot” and member of the yellow vest economic protest movement that shook Macron’s presidency in 2018 and 2019.

Poised and calm, he firmly defended his action and his views on Macron, without providing details of what policies he wants France to change.

Tarel acknowledged hitting the president with a “rather violent” slap. “When I saw his friendly, lying look, I felt disgust, and I had a violent reaction,” he told the court. “It was an impulsive reaction… I was surprised myself by the violence.”

While he said he and his friends had considered bringing an egg or a cream pie to throw at the president, he said they dropped the idea — and insisted that the slap wasn’t premeditated.

“I think that Emmanuel Macron represents the decline of our country,” he said, without explaining what he meant.

He told investigators that he held right- or ultra-right political convictions without being a member of a party or group, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The slap called attention to an assortment of ultra-right groups bubbling beneath France’s political landscape, which are considered increasingly dangerous despite their small following.

Macron wouldn’t comment Thursday on the trial, but insisted that “nothing justifies violence in a democratic society, ever.”

“It’s not such a big deal to get a slap when you go toward a crowd to say hello to some people who were waiting for a long time,” he said in an interview with broadcaster BFM-TV. “We must not make that stupid and violent act more important than it is.”

At the same time, the president added, “we must not make it banal, because anyone with public authority is entitled to respect.”

Another man arrested in the ruckus that followed the slap, identified by the prosecutor as Arthur C., will be judged at a later date, in 2022, for illegal possession of weapons.

The prosecutor’s office said as well as finding weapons, police who searched the home of Arthur C. also found books on the art of war, a copy of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto “Mein Kampf,” and two flags, one symbolizing Communists and another of the Russian revolution.

Neither Tarel nor Arthur C., also 28, had police records, the prosecutor said.

While crimes in France often take months or years to reach trial, in this case authorities used a special emergency procedure to hold a trial within just two days of the slap. Tarel did not object to the procedure.

Videos showed Macron’s attacker slapping the French leader’s left cheek and his bodyguards pushing the man away during a quick meet-and-greet with members of the public, who were kept back behind traffic barriers in the winemaking town of Tain-l’Hermitage.

The attacker was heard to cry out “Montjoie! Saint Denis!” a centuries-old royalist war cry, before finishing with “A bas la Macronie,” or “Down with Macron.”

 

Source: Adomonline

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