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Greetz
L4N4N9_4K1R4 - /Rayzky_ - ./meicookies - exa_gans77 - VenoRyan - MR.HAGAN_404CR4ZY - PohonSagu - ./s3nt1n3L - DemonArmy - FarisGanss - KosameAmegai - CompuByte - B3bek_Gans - Mr.Froggy - K4TSUY4-GH05T - Malaikat Hati - He4l3rz - PsychoH4x0r - Mr.Grim - ChokkaXploiter - Jamet1337 - MungielL - Nzxsx7 - ./G1L4N6_ST86 - kuroaMEpiKAcyu - X-5L0W - UnknownSec - Temp3 - Gh0stP4rty - TegalXploiter
COVID-19: New vaccines ‘ready in 100 days’ if Omicron variant is resistant to current jabs, Pfizer says | UK News – Prime News Now
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COVID-19: New vaccines ‘ready in 100 days’ if Omicron variant is resistant to current jabs, Pfizer says | UK News

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Vaccine manufacturers have expressed confidence that they will be able to rapidly adapt their jabs if the Omicron variant spreads.

The new strain – previously known as B.1.1.529 – features some “concerning” mutations, and early evidence suggests it brings an increased risk of reinfection.

There are also fears that the variant could be more resistant to the vaccines that have now been rolled out to billions of people around the world.

Omicron's spike protein with new mutations seen in red, blue, gold and black. Pic: Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow
Image:
Omicron’s spike protein with new mutations seen in red, blue, gold and black. Pic: Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow

If this is the case, Pfizer and BioNTech expects “to be able to develop and produce a tailor-made vaccine against that variant in approximately 100 days, subject to regulatory approval”.

Moderna said it has advanced a “comprehensive strategy to anticipate new variants of concern” since early 2021 – including three levels of response if the immunity offered by its jabs wanes.

Novavax added it has already started creating a COVID-19 vaccine based on the known genetic sequence of B.1.1.529 “and will have it ready to begin testing and manufacturing within the next few weeks”.

Yesterday, the World Health Organisation designated B.1.1.529 as a “variant of concern”, meaning it has now officially been given the name Omicron, a letter from the Greek alphabet.

The strain was first detected in South Africa, and a number of countries – including the UK, Australia and the US – are now temporarily restricting travel to a number of European countries.

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Although no infections linked to the Omicron variant have been detected in the UK or the US so far, there has been a case in Belgium involving an unvaccinated person who had travelled abroad.

Salim Abdool Karim, one of South Africa’s top epidemiologists, told Sky News he “would expect it to be in the UK” by now.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned that there is a “possibility it might have a different impact on individuals” who get coronavirus.

However, he stressed the UK remains in a “strong position” due to the high vaccination take-up – adding that Omicron’s presence means getting a booster jab is even more important now.

British scientists first became aware of the new strain on 23 November after samples were uploaded on to a COVID variant tracking website from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana. A total of 59 samples have been uploaded so far.

Amid the concerns, flights to the UK from South Africa and five other southern African countries – Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe – have been suspended until 4am on Sunday.

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‘Huge international concern’ over variant

These nations have now been added to the red list, and from Sunday, British nationals returning from these destinations will be required to quarantine in government-approved hotels for 10 days.

Mr Javid confirmed the government is still following Plan A for managing COVID-19 this autumn and winter but warned “if we need to go further, we will”.

England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said his “greatest worry” is whether the public would accept fresh restrictions if they were required.

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Up to 350 people trapped on roof as fire breaks out at Hong Kong’s World Trade Centre, police say | World News

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Up to 350 people are trapped on the roof of Hong Kong’s World Trade Centre after a major fire broke out in the skyscraper, police have said.

The fire started to rip through the 38-story building, which houses both offices and a mall, in the bustling commercial and shopping district of Causeway Bay early on Wednesday afternoon.

A firefighter rescues people trapped in a fire that broke out at the World Trade Centre in Hong Kong, China, December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Lam Yik
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A firefighter rescues people trapped in a fire that broke out at the World Trade Centre in Hong Kong

Rescue workers evacuate people from the site after a fire broke out at the World Trade centre in Hong Kong, China, December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Lam Yik
Image:
Rescue workers evacuate people from the site

At least one person has been injured and taken to hospital.

Police also said 150 people are currently awaiting rescue.

Other people were said to be trapped in restaurants in the mall, according to the local South China Morning Post newspaper.

The blaze was also upgraded to a level three incident on a scale of one to five.

Hong Kong’s government said firefighters were battling the fire with two water jets and had deployed breathing apparatus.

A firefighter rescues a victim trapped in a fire that broke out at the World Trade centre in Hong Kong, China, December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Lam Yik
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A firefighter rescues a victim trapped in the fire

Firefighters operate an extendable ladder to rescue people trapped in a fire that broke out at the World Trade Centre in Hong Kong, China, December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Lam Yik
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Firefighters operate an extendable ladder to rescue people trapped in the fire

Firefighters also used an extendable ladder to rescue several people who were trapped on the lower floors of the building.

The emergency services cordoned off the area outside the building.

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COVID-19: US coronavirus deaths top 800,000, with more than 25% coming after vaccines became available | US News

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COVID-19 deaths in the United States have topped 800,000, with more than 25% of fatalities coming after vaccines became available earlier this year.

The number of deaths hit what President Joe Biden called a “tragic milestone” on Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 200,000 COVID-19 fatalities have occurred since April, by which time all adults were able to get the vaccine.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is joined by bipartisan House and Senate members to hold a moment of silence for 800,000 American lives lost to COVID-19 on the step of the Capitol. Pic: AP
Image:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is joined by bipartisan House and Senate members to hold a moment of silence for 800,000 American lives lost to COVID-19 on the steps of the Capitol. Pic: AP

The overall death toll is roughly equal to the population of Atlanta and St Louis combined – or Minneapolis and Cleveland put together.

It is also roughly equivalent to how many Americans die each year from heart disease or stroke.

The US also has the highest reported toll of any country, accounting for approximately 4% of the world’s population but about 15% of the 5.3 million known deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The true number of deaths in the US and around the world is believed to significantly higher because of cases that were overlooked or concealed.

A closely watched forecasting model from the University of Washington projects a total of more than 880,000 reported deaths in the US by March.

Steve Grove, a chaplain at Hennepin County Medical Center, prays in a COVID-19 patient in Minneapolis. Pic: AP
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Steve Grove, a chaplain at Hennepin County Medical Center, prays with a COVID-19 patient in Minneapolis. Pic: AP

Mr Biden on Tuesday reiterated calls for unvaccinated Americans to get jabs for themselves and their children and urged the vaccinated to get booster shots.

He said: “I urge all Americans: do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you, and to honour the memory of all those we have lost.

“Now is the time.”

Maya Goode, a COVID-19 technician, left, talks with Sami Perez, 12, after he received a COVID-19 test outside Asthenis Pharmacy in Providence, Rhode Island. Pic: AP
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Maya Goode, a COVID-19 technician, left, talks with Sami Perez, 12, after he received a COVID-19 test outside Asthenis Pharmacy in Providence, Rhode Island. Pic: AP

Health experts also lamented the number of deaths, saying many were especially heartbreaking because they were preventable by way of the vaccine, which became available around a year ago and was thrown open to all adults by mid-April.

Around 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated – or just over 60% of the population, which is well short of what scientists say is needed to keep the virus in check.

“Almost all the people dying are now dying preventable deaths,” said Dr Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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US President Joe Biden said the new variant, Omicron, was a cause for concern, but not a cause for panic, adding that America has more tools to fight it today than ever before.

“And that’s because they’re not immunised. And you know that, God, it’s a terrible tragedy.”

When the vaccine was first rolled out, the country’s death toll stood at about 300,000. It hit 600,000 in mid-June and 700,000 on 1 October.

The US crossed the latest threshold with cases and hospitalisations on the rise again in a spike driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, which arrived in the first half of 2021 and now accounts for practically all infections.

Now the Omicron variant is gaining a foothold in the country.

Dr Beyrer recalled that in March or April 2020, one of the worst-case scenarios projected upwards of 240,000 American deaths.

“And I saw that number, and I thought that is incredible – 240,000 American deaths?” he said. “We’re now past three times that number.”

“I think it’s fair to say that we’re still not out of the woods.”

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The Christians release Christmas single Naz Don’t Cry to support imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe | UK News

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An unusual contender for the Christmas No 1 is released today.

Thirty years ago the pop group The Christians released a song to support British hostage John McCarthy kidnapped for five years in Lebanon.

Today they rereleased a refashioned version of the song Man Don’t Cry to send a message of hope and support to British Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe currently being held against her will in Iran.

waghorn nazanin
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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (right) is being against her will in Iran

Singer Gary Christian says the plight of Nazanin and her husband Richard’s hunger strike outside the Foreign Office inspired the band to make the move.

He said: “When you see something like this you feel so impotent, you can’t do anything, you’re sitting there kind of in tears watching this and you think what can we do.”

The Christians invited Richard Ratcliffe and the couple’s daughter Gabriella to Liverpool to record the song retitled Naz Don’t Cry.

He’s urging people to buy it in solidarity with Nazanin and family. All proceeds go to charity.

“I hope people just, even if they don’t like the song, they don’t like me, the Christians or anything, forget that just download,” he says. “We want to raise money, we want to get Nazanin back, back home.”

The song is accompanied by a moving video featuring some of the more emotional moments of the five-year effort to get Nazanin home.

waghorn nazanin. Pic: The Christians
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Gary Christian is urging people to download the single. Pic: The Christians

Former hostage John McCarthy told Sky News he welcomed the song being used again and said the video is a powerful watch.

“Looking at the video, it’s taken me back to seeing things after I came back,” he says.

“And you know it’s slow-moving seeing Richard out in Westminster Square on his hunger strike … it’s very powerful, you know. After a couple of viewings one is in tears.”

Nazanin is being held in Tehran against her will and faces being returned to jail on more trumped-up charges.

waghorn nazanin
Image:
Richard Ratcliffe’s hunger strike is featured in the video. Pic: The Christians

She was able to join the recording by video call to hear what’s being done in her name.

Her husband Richard told Sky News he hopes it helps raise her spirits.

“It’s a lovely song,” he says. “It’s a nice uplifting song. It’s a song that says don’t be sad, we’re still thinking of you, we’re still battling for you, your husband’s still going, there will be a tomorrow.”

waghorn nazanin
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Richard Ratcliffe said he hopes the song will raise Nazanin’s spirits

The star of the video is Gabriella, Richard and Nazanin’s daughter, who appears to play the guitar and dreams as well as playing to the cameras.

Mr Ratcliffe said: “Coming up to Christmas she was asking yesterday when’s she coming back, and also why does it have to be my Mummy – and there are no easy answers to that.”

This will be Nazanin’s sixth Christmas apart from her family. Efforts to secure her release are not making progress.

John McCarthy
Image:
John McCarthy said he was moved by the song

Richard has now done two hunger strikes to highlight her plight.

Her family hope music might make a difference where diplomacy has so far failed.

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