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Fauci says U.S. political divisions contributed to 500,000 dead from COVID-19

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CHICAGO — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said political divisiveness contributed significantly to the “stunning” U.S. COVID-19 death toll, which on Monday surpassed 500,000 lives lost.

The country had recorded more than 28 million COVID-19 cases and 500,054 fatalities as of Monday afternoon, according to a Reuters tally of public health data.

In an interview with Reuters, Fauci on Monday said the pandemic arrived in the United States as the country was riven by political divisions in which wearing a mask became a political statement rather than a public health measure.

“Even under the best of circumstances, this would have been a very serious problem,” Fauci said, noting that despite strong adherence to public health measures, countries such as Germany and the UK struggled with the virus.

“However, that does not explain how a rich and sophisticated country can have the most percentage of deaths and be the hardest-hit country in the world,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top adviser to President Joe Biden.

“That I believe should not have happened.”

While the United States has just about 4% of the global population, it has recorded nearly 20% of all COVID-19 deaths.

“This is the worst thing that’s happened to this country with regard to the health of the nation in over 100 years,” Fauci said, adding that decades from now, people will be talking about “that horrible year of 2020, and maybe 2021.”

For most of 2020, Fauci served on then President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, a job that often put him at odds with the president, who sought to downplay the severity of pandemic despite contracting COVID-19 himself, and refused to issue a national mask mandate.

Trump at times even attacked Fauci’s credibility, undermining his public health messaging.

The nation’s failure cannot all be laid at the feet of Donald Trump, Fauci said.

“But the lack of involvement at the very top of the leadership in trying to do everything that was science-based was clearly detrimental to the effort.”

His personal low point came when several states and cities disregarded the Task Force’s phased recommendations for how to safely reopen the country after spring lockdowns.

He called that disregard by several governors and mayors “incomprehensible to me (when) you could see right in front of your eyes what was happening.”

“When the American spirit is so divided, that really, really made me sad,” he said.

Fauci said the emergence of more contagious variants of the coronavirus, especially ones from South Africa and Brazil that have been shown to reduce the immunity from natural infections and vaccines, have made it challenging to predict when the nation will be able to put the pandemic behind it.

Fauci and Biden have said the United States should return to something approaching pre-pandemic normal life around Christmas. That could change, he cautioned.

The variants also change the equation when it comes to herd immunity, in which a population becomes protected from infection because of high levels of immunity from vaccines or infections.

Asked whether that is still achievable, Fauci said, “I think we can get herd immunity at least against getting sick.”

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210223/fauci-says-us-political-divisions-contributed-to-500000-dead-from-covid19/59414.html

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Boeing cites risks in design of newest Airbus jet

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PARIS — Boeing Co has raised concerns over the design of arch-rival Airbus’ newest narrow-body jet, the A321XLR, saying a novel type of fuel tank could pose fire risks.

The U.S. plane giant’s intervention is not without precedent in a global system that regularly allows manufacturers to chime in whenever safety rules are being interpreted in a way that might affect the rest of the industry.

But it comes at a pivotal moment as Boeing emerges from a two-year safety crisis over its competing 737 MAX, and Airbus faces its own crucial test of the tougher mood expected from regulators worldwide following the MAX’s 20-month grounding.

In a submission to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Boeing said the architecture of a fuel tank intended to increase the A321XLR’s range “presents many potential hazards.”

The debate surrounds the hot-selling A321XLR’s main marketing point – the longest range of any single-aisle jet.

In most jets, fuel is carried in wings and central tanks.

To meet demand for longer routes, Airbus has already added optional extra fuel tanks inside the cargo bay of some A321s.

For the A321XLR, Airbus plans to eke out more space for fuel by moulding one tank directly into the fuselage, meaning its shape would follow the contours of the jet and carry more fuel.

The concept caught the attention of EASA which in January said it would impose special conditions to keep passengers safe.

“An integral fuselage fuel tank exposed to an external fire, if not adequately protected, may not provide enough time for the

passengers to safely evacuate the aircraft,” it said.

In comments to EASA first reported by Flightglobal, Boeing cited risks if a jet veers off a runway or its wheels fail.

“Public consultation is part-and-parcel of an aircraft development programme,” an Airbus spokesman said, adding any issues raised would be tackled together with regulators.

Commercial stakes

Such technical exchanges rarely capture attention. But a battered aerospace industry is on edge after the MAX crisis, compounded by COVID-19, shook confidence in aviation.

Commercial stakes are also high.

One industry source familiar with the project warned any extended wrangle over certification could delay the A321XLR’s service entry from “late 2023” to 2024 or beyond.

Should that happen, sources say Boeing is expected to encourage airlines to wait a few years longer for a potential all-new model that insiders say would leapfrog the A321XLR.

While insisting they never compete on safety, Airbus and Boeing have a record of goading each other in the past over issues like novel flight computers on the Airbus A320 or European claims that four engines were safer than the 777’s two.

Fuel tanks have provoked particularly sharp disagreement.

In 2001, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration triggered changes to the design of fuel tanks worldwide, five years after a Boeing 747 exploded in mid-air.

Investigators said TWA 800 was brought down by a fuel-tank explosion in the presence of unwanted oxygen, but Airbus officials maintained their own jets were less at risk.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210303/boeing-cites-risks-in-design-of-newest-airbus-jet/59568.html

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South Korea says up to medical personnel to extract extra doses of COVID vaccine from vial

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SEOUL — A decision by South Korean health authorities to allow more doses to be extracted from coronavirus vaccine vials sparked controversy on Tuesday as the country ramped up its vaccinations of healthcare workers and the elderly.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) had allowed healthcare workers to use the remaining doses if they can squeeze more out of each vial with low dead space syringes, which minimize the amount of vaccine left in the syringe after use.

While offering discretion over the use of remaining doses, KDCA made clear the authorities will not make the extraction of the extra doses a new standard or mandatory as it can burden the healthcare workers on site.

Experts were divided about the decision for permitting up to seven doses to be extracted from Pfizer vaccine vials which are made to contain only six using the low dead space syringes, and up to 12 doses from AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which would otherwise inoculate 10 people with normal syringes.

Eom Joong-sik, professor of infectious diseases at Gachon University Gil Medical Center, warned of the risk of contamination during inaccurate extraction of the extra seventh dose.

A worker trying to combine leftovers from two vials to make a full dose could lead to such problems, Eom said in a Facebook post.

The government hasn’t made it mandatory to squeeze extra dose out of a vial and there is a designated person in charge of extraction in large medical centres, which makes it easier for them to draw an extra dose safely, said Ki Mo-ran, professor of cancer control and population health at National Cancer Center.

KDCA said 23,086 people were given first doses of AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots by Monday midnight.

South Korea has reported 344 new cases on Monday, adding to the total tally of 90,372, with 1,606 deaths.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210302/south-korea-says-up-to-medical-personnel-to-extract-extra-doses-of-covid-vaccine-from-vial/59557.html

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Archaeologists uncover ancient ceremonial carriage near Pompeii

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Archaeologists have unearthed a unique ancient-Roman ceremonial carriage from a villa just outside Pompeii, the city buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 AD.

The almost perfectly preserved four-wheeled carriage made of iron, bronze and tin was found near the stables of an ancient villa at Civita Giuliana, around 700 metres (yards) north of the walls of ancient Pompeii.

Massimo Osanna, the outgoing director of the Pompeii archaeological site, said the carriage was the first of its kind discovered in the area, which had so far yielded functional vehicles used for transport and work, but not for ceremonies.

“This is an extraordinary discovery that advances our understanding of the ancient world,” Osanna said, adding that the carriage would have “accompanied festive moments for the community, (such as) parades and processions”.

The culture ministry called it “a unique find, without any precedent in Italy”.

Pompeii, 23 km (14 miles) southeast of Naples, was home to about 13,000 people when it was buried under ash, pumice pebbles and dust as it endured the force of an eruption equivalent to many atomic bombs.

About two-thirds of the 66-hectare (165-acre) ancient town has been uncovered. The ruins were not discovered until the 16th century and organised excavations began in about 1750.

“Pompeii continues to amaze us with its discoveries and it will do so for many years, with 20 hectares still to be dug up,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.

A rare documentation of Greco-Roman life, Pompeii is one of Italy’s most popular attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210302/archaeologists-uncover-ancient-ceremonial-carriage-near-pompeii/59549.html

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