Britain Tests a 4-Day Workweek

A six-month program involving thousands of workers across 70 companies in Britain will be the latest effort to assess the effects of a shorter workweek.

#boston-college, #cambridge-university, #great-britain, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #oxford-university, #productivity, #work-life-balance, #working-hours

As Crime Surges, Roll Back of Tough-on-Crime Policies Faces Resistance

With violent crime rates rising and elections looming, progressive prosecutors are facing resistance to their plans to roll back stricter crime policies of the 1990s.

#adams-eric-l, #bell-wesley-1974, #black-lives-matter-movement, #boudin-chesa, #bragg-alvin, #breed-london, #chicago-ill, #cook-county-ill, #ferguson-mo, #foxx-kim, #gascon-george, #krasner-larry-1961, #los-angeles-calif, #manhattan-nyc, #midterm-elections-2014, #oxford-university, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-reform, #quinnipiac-university, #republican-party, #san-francisco-calif, #st-louis-county-mo

How the Trojan Horse Affair Affected British Pakistanis

A scandal in 2014, known as the Trojan Horse affair, exposed what it’s like living in Britain as a British Pakistani.

#birmingham-england, #bradford-england, #colonization, #cricket-game, #discrimination, #education-k-12, #england, #great-britain, #hate-crimes, #immigration-and-emigration, #income-inequality, #khan-sadiq, #london-england, #malik-zayn, #minorities, #muslims-and-islam, #national-health-service, #oxford-university, #race-and-ethnicity, #reed-brian-journalist, #religion-and-belief

He Taught Ancient Texts at Oxford. Now He Is Accused of Stealing Some.

Hobby Lobby, the craft chain that helped build a collection for the Museum of the Bible, has sued a former Oxford lecturer, asserting he sold it stolen artifacts.

#bible, #collectors-and-collections, #colleges-and-universities, #egypt-exploration-society-nonprofit, #frauds-and-swindling, #hobby-lobby-stores-inc, #libraries-and-librarians, #manuscripts, #museum-of-the-bible, #museums, #obbink-dirk-a, #oxford-england, #oxford-university, #oxyrhynchus-papyri, #robberies-and-thefts, #sackler-library, #suits-and-litigation-civil

This startup just created a fast, accurate COVID test which only needs saliva and links to an app

We’re entering a phase in the COVID-19 pandemic where transmission is going to go through the roof because of the Delta variant. But as vaccinations ramp up around the world, the main cost to society now will not be the health services being overwhelmed, but mass disruption to businesses as staff are forced to self isolate by track and trace systems. Thus, biosecurity in the workplace (or any other setting for that matter) is going to matter a lot.

The paragraph you just read above is in fact a paraphrase of the recent open letter sent by a number of eminent UK scientists to the government about the next phase of the pandemic.

So if it’s the case that workplace biosecurity is going to have to be much more efficient, then faster, better forms of testing are going to be needed. Now, a UK startup thinks it may have cracked the problem.

Bio-security company Vatic has come up with its ‘KnowNow’ test for CoVID-19 which it claims is more accurate than lateral flow tests, is faster, easier (only a swab from your mouth is needed), allows test data sharing, and even produces a ‘Passport’ QR code to enable someone to access services or workplaces.

Vatic has now raised $6.37 million to deliver its at-home tests, starting with the one tailored to COVID-19.

The Seed funding round was led by London-based VCs LocalGlobe and Hoxton Ventures.

Founded in 2019, Vatic has built a saliva-based test that is about generating data in the home. The company says the test takes less than 15 minutes and can identify people who are actually infectious at that moment, rather than get a false positive because the body has fought off the infection. Existing antigen tests can have a false positive rate of 1 in 200.

Vatic test

Vatic test

The company says its test identifies infectious viruses by mimicking the surface of a human cell, effectively redesigning how lateral flow tests are built and “enhancing their accuracy”.

Its KnowNow saliva-only rapid antigen test for COVID-19 is in fact now being used in the UK after receiving CE mark approval in the UK. Ut pairs its saliva test with an app that makes it possible to share at-home test results with health or other platforms instantly. The saliva self-swabbing technique is obviously much easier to do and less uncomfortable than current Lateral Flow Tests which require swabbing the back of the throat and nasal passages. Vatic is also now doing clinical trials in the US to secure Emergency Use Authorisation from the FDA.

Alex Sheppard, co-founder, and CEO of Vatic, explained: “One reason for the recent decline in the uptake of rapid Covid-19 tests is the sampling technique – it’s currently very uncomfortable and difficult for people to use. We need to take the pain out of mass testing if we’re to return to normal to minimize the disruption caused by future COVID-19 outbreaks, whether in offices, schools, or hospitality venues. That’s why we’ve built supportive biosecurity technology that sits  alongside the test, allowing users to generate their own unique QR codes to facilitate safe venue entry.”

How does it work? Well, Vatic says its technology searches for the ‘spike’ on the virus as a measure of infectivity, but also says it is immune to potential mutations of the virus, making it able to test for COVID-19 no matter the variant.

Sheppard said the Vatic test is only the first iteration. It can also detect other infectious viruses by mimicking the surface of a human cell.

Sheppard told me: “We selected the part of the Coronavirus that uses its spike to enter human cells, almost like a hypodermic needle. That’s the bit that essentially interacts on our test, and so, effectively, we’re mimicking a human cell on our test, which is completely unique. It’s got a completely different engine to a normal Lateral Flow Test, because the chemistry that’s powering it is totally different.”

The other aspect of the Vatic test is that it employs an app linked to the saliva swap test. Once the test is done it produces an encrypted QR code.

“It’s not altogether dissimilar to what we see on the NHS tests,” Sheppard told me, “but it’s a completely trust-based system, so you don’t have to compromise your health data. You’re not writing your home address into a government website. Of course, it does synchronize with the government requirements of reporting a notifiable disease, but it’s designed to ensure that you know you’re not giving away too much health data. It’s secure.”

Sheppard and his co-founder Mona Omir met at Oxford University, at the accelerator program Entrepreneur First in September 2019 and have gone on to raised money from both London investors and grant support from the Oxford Foundry / University of Oxford and Innovate UK.

Julia Hawkins, partner at LocalGlobe, commented: “Vatic’s technology is the future of testing. It’s fantastic to hear how many top UK organizations are taking the initiative and putting employee testing at the forefront of their business recovery plan. This new round of investment will be key in ensuring the successful roll-out of KnowNow tests across the UK and internationally and getting economies moving again with minimal interruptions.”

Rob Kniaz, partner at Hoxton Ventures, added: “A saliva-only swab is a true breakthrough in the world of uncomfortable and tricky rapid testing and the speed that the Vatic team have got it to market is very impressive. Excitingly for the business, this test is just the start of their journey – the opportunities to innovate in the at-home testing market are endless.”

#biotechnology, #co-founder, #europe, #fda, #health-services, #hoxton-ventures, #julia-hawkins, #knownow, #london, #medicine, #nhs, #oxford-university, #partner, #rob-kniaz, #tc, #uk, #united-kingdom, #united-states

Nodes & Links raises $11M to — maybe — save billions on the big projects the world needs now

Nodes & Links is a scheduling platform for large-scale infrastructure projects which works out when the nuts and bolts for the bridge (for example) should be delivered, and in what order. Unsurprisingly, complex infrastructure projects often get this wrong. The company has now raised an $11 million Series A funding round led by urban sustainability-focused fund 2150, alongside Zigg Capital and Westerly Winds, with participation from existing investors Entrepreneur First, ADV and Seedcamp.

Launched in 2018, the company’s Aegis platform is used by Balfour Beatty, Costain and BAM Nuttal, and claims to have delivered millions in cost savings on infrastructure projects, because the building materials and assembly ends up being organized in the right order. Given that most major projects run significantly over time and over budget, scheduling correctly can make a huge difference to costs, as well as the impact on the environment.

The company quotes a survey by Oxford University that found that only 8% of infrastructure projects get delivered on time and on budget.

“Complex projects account for over 4% of the world’s GDP, yet only 8% of them complete on budget and on time,” Nodes and Links CEO Greg Lawton said. “This is largely because humans are responsible for all tasks within projects, even the repetitive and complex ones they’re unsuited to, instead of the high-value, creative activities people are uniquely qualified for. By expanding our workforce to include machines, better decisions will be made and better projects delivered. We firmly believe that the work we’re doing is going to have the same impact as automation did in manufacturing and this new investment will help us accelerate its adoption for the common good.”

Nodes & Links competes with large infrastructure software such as Oracle Primavera, as well as plain old Excel spreadsheets, for obvious reasons.

“The world is accelerating its investment into linear infrastructure, much of it with a focus on sustainability and resilience,” Christian Hernandez, Partner at 2150 said. “Time is the biggest lever available to ensure that trillions of dollars of projects starts delivering benefits to our planet and Nodes & Links has proven that they can help large and complex engineering projects deliver on that.”


#articles, #christian-hernandez, #construction, #europe, #infrastructure, #manufacturing, #nodes-links, #oxford-university, #tc

Why More People Are Getting Two Different Coronavirus Vaccines

Several countries are allowing mix-and-match inoculation, which scientists hope will have benefits, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is among those to get it.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #merkel-angela, #moderna-inc, #novavax-inc, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #vaccination-and-immunization

Oxford University Scholars Refuse to Teach Under Cecil Rhodes Statue

A statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University has drawn criticism for decades. Now some academics said they would refuse to teach at the college where the statue sits.

#colleges-and-universities, #colonization, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #oxford-university, #rhodes-cecil

AstraZeneca Shots Carry Slightly Higher Risk of Bleeding Problem, New Study Says

But the research, involving 2.53 million adults in Scotland, found that the vaccine’s benefits outweighed the small risks.

#astrazeneca-plc, #blood, #blood-clots, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #johnsonjohnson, #nature-medicine-journal, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #research, #scotland, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-healthcare

AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has generated $275 million in sales so far this year.

The company has pledged not to profit from its vaccine during the pandemic. Governments have been paying several dollars per dose.

#astrazeneca-plc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #internal-essential, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization

AstraZeneca Vaccine Faces New Setbacks in U.K. and European Union

Britain said it would give alternative shots to people under 30, while the European regulator said it had found a ‘possible link’ with rare blood clots.

#astrazeneca-plc, #blood-clots, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #european-medicines-agency, #great-britain, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization

AstraZeneca Vaccine Faces Setbacks in U.K. and European Union

Britain said it would give alternative shots to people under 30, while the European regulator said it had found a ‘possible link’ with rare blood clots.

#astrazeneca-plc, #blood-clots, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #european-medicines-agency, #great-britain, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization

Virus Variants Threaten to Draw Out the Pandemic, Scientists Say

Declining infection rates over all masked a rise in more contagious forms of the coronavirus. Vaccines will stop the spread, if Americans postpone celebration just a bit longer.

#astrazeneca-plc, #brazil, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #europe, #florida, #germany, #great-britain, #immune-system, #influenza, #johnsonjohnson, #moderna-inc, #novavax-inc, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-science

Europe’s Vaccine Ethics Call: Do No Harm and Let More Die?

Ethicists are worried about the gamble Germany took to halt AstraZeneca doses over seven cases of blood clots. It will not be the last time hard decisions are made in this pandemic.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #ethics-and-official-misconduct, #europe, #european-union, #germany, #johnsonjohnson, #oxford-university, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization

AstraZeneca Concerns Throw Europe’s Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Into Deeper Disarray

Germany, France, Italy and Spain became the latest countries to suspend use of the vaccine even as a third wave of the pandemic threatens the continent.

#astrazeneca-plc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #europe, #european-union, #oxford-university, #quarantines, #shutdowns-institutional, #vaccination-and-immunization

AstraZeneca Concerns Throw Europe’s Vaccine Rollout Into Deeper Disarray

Germany, France, Italy and Spain became the latest countries to suspend use of the vaccine even as a third wave of the pandemic threatens the continent.

#astrazeneca-plc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #deaths-fatalities, #disease-rates, #europe, #european-union, #oxford-university, #quarantines, #shutdowns-institutional, #vaccination-and-immunization

Can the World Learn From South Africa’s Vaccine Trials?

Vaccine trials are often done in wealthier countries. Scientists say the South Africa experience proves the value of trials in the global south.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #gates-bill-and-melinda-foundation, #novavax-inc, #oxford-university, #south-africa, #third-world-and-developing-countries, #vaccination-and-immunization

The AstraZeneca vaccine is shown to drastically cut transmission of the virus.

A new study by researchers at the University of Oxford underscores the importance of mass inoculation as a path out of the pandemic.

#astrazeneca-plc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #internal-essential, #oxford-university, #research, #vaccination-and-immunization

Vaccine Rollout Gives U.K. a Rare Win in Pandemic

“Vaccination is the one thing we’ve gotten right”: How a country that botched so much of its pandemic response has managed one of the fastest distributions in the world.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #great-britain, #johnson-boris, #national-health-service, #oxford-university, #politics-and-government, #vaccination-and-immunization

E.U. and U.K. Fight Over Covid Vaccines: ‘Solidarity Is Failing’

As vaccine production falls behind schedule, and the European Union lags in inoculating people, Brussels and London are lobbing threats and accusations at each other.

#astrazeneca-plc, #belgium, #biontech-se, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #european-union, #factories-and-manufacturing, #great-britain, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #protectionism-trade, #vaccination-and-immunization

E.U. and U.K. Fight Over Coronavirus Vaccines: ‘Solidarity Is Failing’

As vaccine production falls behind schedule, and the European Union lags in inoculating people, Brussels and London are lobbing threats and accusations at each other.

#astrazeneca-plc, #belgium, #biontech-se, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #europe, #factories-and-manufacturing, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #vaccination-and-immunization

Dogs May Have Come From an Ice Age Meetup of Carnivores in Siberia

Researchers propose that some remote ancestors of Native Americans may have been the first humans to forge the bond with wolves that led to domestication.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #dogs, #durham-university, #larson-greger, #native-americans, #north-america, #oxford-university, #proceedings-of-the-national-academy-of-sciences, #siberia, #southern-methodist-university, #wolves, #your-feed-science

India Approves Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine and 1 Other

The approvals, which include a shot developed by Bharat Biotech, an Indian pharmaceutical company, begin a vast campaign to inoculate the hard-hit nation’s 1.3 billion people.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #epidemics, #factories-and-manufacturing, #india, #oxford-university, #poonawalla-adar-1981, #rumors-and-misinformation, #the-serum-institute, #vaccination-and-immunization

U.K. Authorizes Covid-19 Vaccine From Oxford and AstraZeneca

Health officials hope to soon vaccinate a million people per week as the country’s hospitals are overwhelmed by cases of a new, more contagious coronavirus variant.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #great-britain, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-healthcare

Britain Authorizes Covid-19 Vaccine From Oxford and AstraZeneca

Health officials are hoping to soon vaccinate a million people per week as the country’s hospitals are overwhelmed by cases of a new, more contagious variant of the virus.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-healthcare

Britain Authorizes Covid Vaccine From Oxford and AstraZeneca

Health authorities are hoping to soon vaccinate a million people per week as the country’s hospitals are overwhelmed by cases of a new, more contagious variant of the virus.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-healthcare

The Covid-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Mean Big Pharma Is Your Savior

Heroic work went into the development of the coronavirus vaccines. But that doesn’t mean this industry deserves your affection.

#astrazeneca-plc, #biotechnology-and-bioengineering, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #moderna-inc, #national-institutes-of-health, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #public-private-sector-cooperation, #vaccination-and-immunization

How the US, UK and Canada Will Roll Out the Covid Vaccine

Within days, all three countries could be giving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but they have varying strategies and challenges. The U.S. plan, working through the states, is the least centralized.

#astrazeneca-plc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #european-union, #great-britain, #moderna-inc, #national-health-service, #national-institutes-of-health, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization

AstraZeneca Missteps Undermined U.S. Faith in Coronavirus Vaccine

The Oxford-AstraZeneca effort held great promise to help arrest the pandemic. But a series of miscues caused it to fall behind in the U.S.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #food-and-drug-administration, #hill-adrian-1958, #oxford-university, #soriot-pascal, #vaccination-and-immunization

Moderna claims 94% efficacy for COVID-19 vaccine, will ask FDA for emergency use authorization today

Drugmaker Moderna has completed its initial efficacy analysis of its COVID-19 vaccine from the drug’s Phase 3 clinical study, and determined that it was 94.1% effective in preventing people from contracting COVID-19 across 196 confirmed cases from among 30,000 participants in the study. Moderna also found that it was 100% effective in preventing severe cases (such as those that would require hospitalization) and says it hasn’t found any significant safety concerns during the trial. On the basis of these results, the company will file an application for emergency use authorization (EUA) with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday.

Seeking an EUA is the next step towards actually beginning to distribute and administer Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, and if granted the authorization, it will be able to provide it to high-risk individuals in settings where it could help prevent more deaths, such as with front-line healthcare workers, ahead of receiving a full and final regulatory approval from the U.S. healthcare monitoring agency. Moderna will also seek conditional approval from the European Medicines Agency, which will enable similar use ing the EU.

Moderna’s vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which provides genetic instructions to a person’s body that prompts them to create their own powerful antibodies to block the receptor sites that allows COVID-19 to infect a patient. It’s a relatively new therapeutic approach for human use, but has the potential to provide potentially even more resistance to COVID-19 than do natural antibodies, and without the risk associated with introducing any actual virus, active or otherwise, to an inoculated individual in order to prompt their immune response.

In mid-November, Moderna announced that its COVID-19 vaccine showed 94.5% efficacy in its preliminary results. This final analysis of that same data hews very close to the original, which is promising news for anyone hoping for an effective solution to be available soon. This data has yet to be peer reviewed, though Moderna says that it will now be submitting data from the Phase 3 study to a scientific publication specifically for that purpose.

Moderna’s vaccine candidate is part of the U.S’s Operation Warp Speed program to expedite the development, production and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, initiated earlier this year as a response to the unprecedented global pandemic. Other vaccines, including one created by Pfizer working with partner BioNTech, as well as an Oxford University/AstraZeneca-developed candidate, are also far along in their Phase 3 testing and readying for emergency approval and use. Pfizer has already applied with the FDA for its own EUA, while the Oxford vaccine likely won’t be taking that step in the U.S. until it completes another round of final testing after discovering an error in the dosage of its first trial – which led to surprising efficacy results.

#astrazeneca, #biontech, #biotech, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #european-union, #health, #healthcare, #medical-research, #medicine, #moderna, #oxford-university, #pfizer, #tc, #united-states, #vaccine

After Admitting Mistake, AstraZeneca Faces Difficult Questions About Its Vaccine

Some trial participants only got a partial dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Experts said the company’s spotty disclosures have eroded confidence.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization

Johnson Basks in a Rare Burst of Good U.K. News

The current lockdown is ending and a successful British vaccine could vanquish the virus by spring. But will that be enough to rebuild his sagging political fortunes?

#astrazeneca-plc, #conservative-party-great-britain, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #great-britain, #johnson-boris, #oxford-university, #shutdowns-institutional, #vaccination-and-immunization

AstraZeneca and Oxford Say Vaccine Is Up to 90 Percent Effective

In an early analysis, the drug maker zeroed in on a promising dosing plan for its vaccine.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization

Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine shows high efficacy, and is cheaper to make and easier to store

Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine, being developed in partnership with drugmaker AstraZeneca, has shown to be 70.4% effective in preliminary results from its Phase 3 clinical trial. That rate actually includes data from two different approaches to dosing, including one where two full strength does were applied, which was 62% effective, and a much more promising dosage trial which used one half-dose and one full strength dose to follow – that one was 90% effective.

Oxford’s results may not have the eye-catching high efficacy headline totals of the recent announcements from Pfizer and Moderna, but they could actually represent some of the most promising yet for a few different reasons. First, if that second dosage strategy holds true across later results and further analysis, it means that the Oxford vaccine can be administered in lower amounts and provide stronger efficacy (there’s no reason to use the full two-dose method if it’s that much less effective).

Second, the Oxford vaccine can be stored and transported at standard refrigerator temperatures – between 35° and 45°F – whereas the other two vaccine candidates require storage at lower temperatures. That helps obviate the need for more specialized equipment during transportation and on-site at clinics and hospitals where it will be administered.

Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine also uses a different approach to either Moderna’s or Pfizer’s, which are both mRNA vaccines. That’s a relatively unproven technology when it comes to human therapeutics, which involves using messenger RNA to provide blueprints to a person’s body to build proteins effective at blocking a virus, without any virus present. The Oxford University candidate is an adenovirus vaccine, which is a much more established technology that’s already been in use for decades, and which involves genetically altering a weekend common cold virus and using that to trigger a person’s own natural immune response.

Finally, it’s also cheaper – in part because it uses tried and tested technology for which there’s already a robust and mature supply chain, and in part because it’s easier to transport and store.

The Phase 3 trial for the Oxford vaccine included 24,000 participants, and it’s expected to grow to 60,000 by the end of the year. Safety data so far shows no significant risks, and among the 131 confirmed cases in the interim analysis that produced these results, none of those who received either vaccine dosage developed a severe case, or one requiring hospitalization.

This is great news for potential vaccination programs, since it introduces variety of supply chain into an apparently effective vaccine treatment for COVID-19. We’re much better off if we have not only multiple effective vaccines, but multiple different types of effective vaccines, in terms of being able to inoculate widely as quickly as possible.

#astrazeneca, #biotech, #health, #medical-research, #medicine, #messenger, #moderna, #oxford-university, #pfizer, #tc, #unproven-technology, #vaccination, #vaccine, #vaccines

Central Europe Suffers as Coronavirus Surges

The Czech Republic, with the highest transmission rate in Europe, closed schools, bars and restaurants. In some countries in Central Europe, there is a critical shortage of doctors and nurses.

#bucharest-romania, #budapest-hungary, #bulgaria, #central-europe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #czech-republic, #disease-rates, #europe, #european-union, #gazeta-wyborcza, #gdansk-poland, #hospitals, #hungary, #kaczynski-jaroslaw, #orban-viktor, #oxford-university, #pew-research-center, #politics-and-government, #prague-czech-republic, #romania, #shutdowns-institutional

Vaccine Makers Keep Safety Details Quiet, Alarming Scientists

Researchers say drug companies need to be more open about how vaccine trials are run to reassure Americans who are skittish about getting a coronavirus vaccine.

#astrazeneca-plc, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #food-and-drug-administration, #krumholz-harlan-m, #moderna-inc, #offit-paul-a, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #research, #trump-donald-j, #vaccination-and-immunization

“Not uncommon at all”: AstraZeneca pauses COVID-19 vaccine trial

A double-masked health care worker jabs a needle into the arm of a seated woman in a mask.

Enlarge / A volunteer receives an injection of AZD1222 from a medical worker during the country’s first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against COVID-19 at the Baragwanath Hospital on June 28, 2020, in Soweto, South Africa. It is reported that Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine trial began on June 24 in South Africa. (credit: Getty Images | Felix Dlangamandla)

With the coronavirus crisis gripping the globe, all eyes are on every bump and dip on the path to the pandemic’s end. So, of course, news that researchers triggered a common pause to the clinical trials of a leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate made swift and alarming headlines late Tuesday.

The global phase III trials for the vaccine AZD1222 (formerly ChAdOx1)—developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca—were put on a “temporary” and “voluntary” pause for a “standard review process,” AstraZeneca said in a statement Wednesday.

According the company, the pause was triggered by a “potentially unexplained illness” in one of thousands of participants involved in its trials. Per standard protocol, researchers must pause the trial to investigate whether the illness is related to exposure to the experimental vaccine or not.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#adverse-event, #astrazeneca, #clinical-trial, #covid-19, #oxford-university, #pandemic, #sars-cov-2, #science, #vaccine

Diffblue launches a free community edition of its automated Java unit testing tool

Diffblue, a spin-out from Oxford University, uses machine learning to help developers automatically create unit tests for their Java code. Since few developers enjoy writing unit tests to ensure that their code works as expected, increased automation doesn’t just help developers focus on writing the code that actually makes a difference but also lead to code with fewer bugs. Current Diffblue customers include the likes of Goldman Sachs and AWS.

So far, Diffblue only offered its service through a paid — and pricey — subscription. Today, however, the company also launched its free community edition, Diffblue Cover: Community Edition, which doesn’t feature all of the enterprise features in its paid versions, but still offers an IntelliJ plugin and the same AI-generated unit tests as the paid editions.

The company also plans to launch a new lower cost ‘individual’ plan for Diffblue Cover soon, starting at $120 per month. This plan will offer access to support and other advanced features as well.

At its core, Diffblue uses unsupervised learning to build these unit tests. “What we’re doing is unique in the sense that there have been tools before that use what’s called static analysis,” Diffblue CEO Mathew Loge, who joined the company about a year ago, explained. “They look at the program and they basically understand the path through the program and try and work backwards from the path. So if the path gets to this point, what inputs do we need to put into the program in order to get here?” That approach has its limitations, though, which Diffblue’s reinforcement learning method aims to get around.

Once the process has run its course, Diffblue provides developers with readable tests. That’s important, Loge stressed, because if a test fails and a developer can’t figure out what happened, it’s virtually impossible for the developer to fix the issue. That’s something the team learning the hard way, as early version so Diffblue used a very aggressive algorithm that provided great test coverage (the key metric for unit tests), but made it very hard for developers to figure out what was happening.

With the community edition, which doesn’t offer the command-line interface (CLI) of Diffblue’s paid editions, developers can write their code in IntelliJ as before and then simply click a button to have Diffblue write the tests for that code.

“The Community Edition is designed to be very accessible. It is literally one click in the IDE and you get your tests. The CLI version is more sophisticated and it covers more cases and solves for teams and large deployments inside of an organization,” Loge explained.

The company plans to add support for other languages, including Python, JavaScript and C# over time, but as Loge noted, Java has long been a mainstay in the business world and the team felt like that would be the best language to start with. As Loge noted, though, the technology

Diffblue has actually been around for a bit. The company raised a $22 million Series A round led by Goldman Sachs and with participation from Oxford Sciences Innovation and the Oxford Technology and Innovations Fund in 2017. You obviously don’t raise that kind of money to focus only on unit tests for Java code. Besides support for more language, unit tests are just the first step in the company’s overall goal of automating more of the programming process with the help of AI.

“We started with testing because it’s an important and urgent problem, especially with the impact that it has on DevOps and the adoption of more rapid software cycles,” Loge said. The next obvious step is to then take a similar approach to automatically fixing bugs — and especially security bugs — in code as well.

“The idea is that there are these steppingstones to machines writing more and more code,” he said. “And also, frankly, it’s a way of getting developers used to that. Because developer acceptance is a crucial part of making this successful.”

#artificial-intelligence, #aws, #ceo, #developer, #devops, #diffblue, #goldman-sachs, #java, #javascript, #machine-learning, #oxford-university, #python, #recent-funding, #software-development, #software-testing, #startups, #tc, #test

What We Know About the C.D.C.’s Covid-19 Vaccine Plans

The agency told public health agencies that two unidentified vaccines might be ready by October or November. We explain how vaccine trials work, when one might be ready, and who may get them first.

#advisory-committee-on-immunization-practices, #astrazeneca-plc, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #medicine-and-health, #moderna-inc, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-science

Coronavirus Crisis Has Made Brazil an Ideal Vaccine Laboratory

Widespread contagion, a deep bench of scientists and a robust vaccine-making infrastructure have made Brazil an important player in the quest to find a vaccine.

#astrazeneca-plc, #brazil, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #oxford-university, #pfizer-inc, #vaccination-and-immunization

The Vaccine Trust Problem

Why developing a coronavirus vaccine may be easier than persuading people to get it.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #oxford-university, #rumors-and-misinformation, #trump-donald-j, #vaccination-and-immunization

State-backed COVID-19 disinfo spreads faster and farther than local news outlets in 4 languages

Questionable stories on COVID-19 from state-backed outlets in Russia, China, Turkey, and Iran are being shared more widely than reporting by major news organizations around the world, according to Oxford analysts. French German, Spanish and English news sites see far less social engagement than these foreign-originated ones in their languages.

The study is part of ongoing monitoring of COVID-19 disinformation campaigns by the Computational Propaganda Project. The group found that major outlets like Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El Pais are being outshared four or five to one in some metrics by content from Russia Today, China Radio International, and other state-backed organizations.

Earlier reports focused on English-language sharing of this type of media, which can be generally described as act-adjacent with a strong emphasis on certain narratives. The repeated finding was that although mainstream news outlets have an overall stronger presence, state-backed and junk news is way ahead in engagement per post or article. In the latest report it is shown that on average, mainstream articles collect about 25 engagements per post, while state-backed items get 125. When multiplied by millions of users and followers, that becomes an enormous discrepancy.

There is more nuance to the data than that, of course, but it gives a general idea of what’s happening: disinformation is being spread widely, whether by bots or organic reach, while ordinary news sources only reach a similar amount of people through more output and wider initial reach. It wasn’t, however, clear whether this was the case outside English-language media.

It certainly seems to be, according to data collected over three weeks from a variety of news sources. Mainstream media had a larger overall reach but state-backed media often produced far higher engagement per article. This is perhaps explained by the fact that the state-backed organizations tended to pursue and push controversies and divisive narratives. As the study puts it:

  • Russian outlets working in French and German consistently emphasized weak democratic institutions and civil disorder in Europe, but offered different kinds of conspiracy theories about the pandemic;
  • Chinese and Turkish outlets working in Spanish promoted their own countries’ global leadership in combating the pandemic, while Russian and Iranian outlets generated polarizing content targeted at Latin America and Spanish-speaking social media users in the United States.

That sort of clickbait spreads like wildfire on social media, of course, and few of those who thoughtlessly hit that share button will have the inclination to check whether the source is a government-backed news agency plainly attempting to sow discord.

On the other hand, it seems as if some consider turnabout fair play. For example: a Chinese state-backed news countering the flourishing U.S. conspiracy theory that the virus is a Chinese bioweapon with a counter-theory that it is a U.S. bioweapon released in and blamed on China.

“Many of these state-backed outlets blend reputable, fact-based reporting about the coronavirus with misleading or false information, which can lead to greater uncertainty among public audiences trying to make sense of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Oxford’s Katarian Rebello in a news release.

The countries and state-backed outlets mentioned also have a major presence in Arabic language markets and the researchers are working on a follow-up study inclusive of those.

#coronavirus, #covid-19, #oxford, #oxford-university, #pandemic, #science, #social

Breakthrough Drug for Covid-19 May Be Risky for Mild Cases

That study about dexamethasone has arrived with a big asterisk: While it appears to help severely ill patients, it harms others.

#clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dexamethasone-drug, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #immune-system, #oxford-university, #steroids, #your-feed-science

U.K. Grapples With Its Role in Atlantic Slave Trade

Two prominent firms, Lloyd’s of London and Greene King, have acknowledged their ties to the slave trade and pledged to make amends.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #bristol-england, #caribbean-area, #churchill-winston-leonard-spencer, #colston-edward-1636-1721, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #greene-king-plc, #johnson-boris, #liverpool-england, #lloyds-of-london, #oxford-university, #reparations, #slavery-historical

Dexamethasone Reduces Coronavirus Deaths, Scientists Say

A steroid, dexamethasone, is the first drug shown to help save severely ill coronavirus patients, according to scientists in Britain.

#clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dexamethasone-drug, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #oxford-university

‘Get Rid of Them’: A Statue Falls as Britain Confronts Its Racist History

When demonstrators dumped the monument to a slave trader into Bristol Harbor, they galvanized a debate that echoes conversations happening in the American South about statues of Confederate generals.

#bristol-england, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #johnson-boris, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #oxford-university, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #rhodes-cecil, #slavery-historical

U.K. Lab to Sidestep Drug Industry to Sell Potential Virus Vaccine

Imperial College aims to develop a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to manufacture and is forming a partnership to sell it in low-income countries and Britain.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #great-britain, #imperial-college-london, #morningside-ventures-inc, #oxford-university, #vaccination-and-immunization

Trump Narrows Search for Coronavirus Vaccine to Five Firms

The White House is eager to project progress, but the public-private partnership it has created still faces scientific hurdles, internal tensions and questions from Congress.

#astrazeneca-plc, #azar-alex-m-ii, #clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #health-and-human-services-department, #johnsonjohnson, #marks-peter, #merckcompany-inc, #moderna-inc, #oxford-university, #perna-gustave-f, #pfizer-inc, #public-private-sector-cooperation, #slaoui-moncef-m, #trump-donald-j, #vaccination-and-immunization

The Coronavirus Vaccine May Have a Shortcut: Infecting Volunteers

Should we take it?

#clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #debatable, #ethics-personal, #oxford-university, #respiratory-diseases, #smallpox, #viruses

In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead

As scientists at the Jenner Institute prepare for mass clinical trials, new tests show their vaccine to be effective in monkeys.

#clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #epidemics, #great-britain, #jenner-institute, #laboratories-and-scientific-equipment, #oxford-university, #tests-medical, #vaccination-and-immunization