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Thirteen die in collision of truck, crowded SUV near U.S.-Mexico border

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At least 13 people, 10 of them Mexican nationals, were killed on Tuesday when a tractor-trailer slammed into a Ford Expedition crammed with 25 adults and children in the dusty farming community of Holtville near the U.S.-Mexico border, officials said.

Handmade wooden crosses stretched in a line across a patch of dry grass and dirt next to the highway, and a seat covered in what appeared to be blood lay near the SUV, as the desolate highway remained closed Tuesday afternoon.

The white tractor trailer cab with yellow trim was still smashed into the wrecked side of the maroon SUV. The entire driver’s side of the smaller vehicle was caved in, and the passenger side was flung wide open.

“Unfortunately, consular staff have confirmed the death of 10 Mexicans so far,” Roberto Velasco, the foreign ministry’s director for North America, said in a tweet in Spanish.

Mexicans were also among the injured in the crash, he said.

It was not immediately clear how fast the vehicles were going, or whether the SUV had observed a stop sign before heading into the intersection of State Route 115 and Norrish Road just outside of Holtville, about 10 miles (16.1 km) north of the border, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said.

Those killed, who included the driver of the SUV, ranged in age from 15 to 53, and minors as young as 16 were injured, said Omar Watson, chief of the highway patrol’s border division. He said the driver was 22 years old.

Several of the occupants were ejected from the vehicle and died on the pavement; others died inside the SUV, Watson said.

Most of the survivors are Spanish-speaking, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said. Despite the presence of CBP agents and Spanish translators, Watson said it was too early to know whether the SUV’s occupants were migrant workers or others who might have crossed from Mexico in the overcrowded vehicle.

Although it varies by trim and model year, the Ford Expedition typically is designed to hold five to eight people.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers investigate a crash site after a collision between a Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle (SUV) and a tractor-trailer truck near Holtville, California, U.S. in an aerial photograph March 2, 2021.  Photo: Reuters

California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers investigate a crash site after a collision between a Ford Expedition sport utility vehicle (SUV) and a tractor-trailer truck near Holtville, California, U.S. in an aerial photograph March 2, 2021. Photo: Reuters

Watson said the CHP was working with the Mexican Consulate to determine who was in the vehicle and notify families of fatalities.

The CBP spokesperson, who was not authorized to discuss the case publicly, said the agency was not in pursuit of or aware of the vehicle until the Imperial County Sheriff’s Department asked for its help at the crash site.

The agency does not know and is not investigating the immigration status of the people at this time.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, which was earlier said to be hauling gravel but according to the CHP was not, was also hospitalized with moderate injuries, Watson said.

The logo of Havens and Sons Trucking of nearby El Centro was on the side of the truck cab. A person who answered the phone at the company told Reuters it had no comment at this time.

Several of the victims were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center, the director of the hospital’s emergency room, Judy Cruz, said in a news briefing posted on Facebook.

Agriculture drives the economy around Holtville and El Centro. Known as the Imperial Valley, the area is a big producer of fruits, vegetables, grain and cattle despite being desert, thanks to irrigation from the Colorado River and a long growing season.

Hospital officials had previously said that 27 people were in the SUV, and that 15 had died, but Watson said there were 25 passengers and 13 fatalities.

Three victims were flown to other hospitals and seven others were brought to El Centro. One person died at the hospital, Cruz said.

In Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board said it will investigate the crash in concert with the California Highway Patrol. The agency’s investigator-in-charge was expected to arrive on Wednesday, the NTSB said.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210303/thirteen-die-in-collision-of-truck-crowded-suv-near-usmexico-border/59570.html

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COVID-19 patients with sedentary habits more likely to die: study

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Among COVID-19 patients, a lack of exercise is linked to more severe symptoms and a higher risk of death, according to a study covering nearly 50,000 people who were infected with the virus.

People physically inactive for at least two years before the pandemic were more likely to be hospitalised, to require intensive care, and to die, researchers reported Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

As a risk factor for serious COVID-19 disease, physical inactivity was surpassed only by advanced age and a history of organ transplant, the study found.

Indeed, compared to other modifiable risk factors such as smoking, obesity or hypertension, “physical inactivity was the strongest risk factor across all outcomes,” the authors concluded.

The pre-existing conditions most associated with severe COVID-19 infection are advanced age, being male, and having diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular disease.

But up to now, a sedentary lifestyle has not been included.

To see whether a lack of exercise increases the odds of severe infection, hospitalisation, admission into an intensive care unit (ICU), and death, the researchers compared these outcomes in 48,440 adults in the United States infected with COVID-19 between January and October 2020.

The average age of patients was 47, and three out of five were women. On average, their mass-body index was 31, just above the threshold for obesity.

Intensive care

Around half had no underlying illnesses, such as diabetes, chronic lung conditions, heart or kidney disease, or cancer. Nearly 20 percent had one, and more than 30 percent had two or more.

All of the patients had reported their level of regular physical activity at least three times between March 2018 and March 2020 at outpatient clinics.

Some 15 percent described themselves as inactive (0–10 minutes of physical activity per week), nearly 80 percent reported “some activity” (11–149 minutes/week), and seven percent were consistently active in keeping with national health guidelines (150+ minutes/week).

After allowing for differences due to race, age and underlying medical conditions, sedentary COVID-19 patients were more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital as those who were most active.

They were also 73 percent more likely to require intensive care, and 2.5 times more likely to die due to the infection.

Compared to patients in the habit of doing occasional physical activity, couch potatoes were 20 percent more likely to be admitted to hospital, 10 percent more likely to require intensive care, and 32 percent more likely to die.

While the link is statistically strong, the study — which is observational, as opposed to a clinical trial — cannot be construed as direct evidence that a lack of exercise directly caused the difference in outcomes.

The findings also depend on self-reporting by patients, with a potential for bias.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210414/covid19-patients-with-sedentary-habits-more-likely-to-die-study/60355.html

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U.S. FDA to scrutinize vaccine design behind COVID-19 shots linked to blood clots

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With two COVID-19 vaccines now under scrutiny for possible links to very rare cases of blood clots in the brain, U.S. government scientists are focusing on whether the specific technology behind the shots may be contributing to the risk.

In Europe, health regulators said last week there was a possible link between the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine and 169 cases of a rare brain blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), accompanied by a low blood platelet count, out of 34 million shots administered in the European Economic Area.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended temporarily halting use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports of six cases of CVST in women under age 50 among some 7 million people who received the shot in the United States.

Both vaccines are based on a new technology using adenoviruses, which cause the common cold, that have been modified to essentially render them harmless. The viruses are employed as vectors to ferry instructions for human cells to make proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus, priming the immune system to make antibodies that fight off the actual virus.

Scientists are working to find the potential mechanism that would explain the blood clots. A leading hypothesis appears to be that the vaccines are triggering a rare immune response that could be related to these viral vectors, FDA officials said at a briefing on Tuesday.

The U.S. agency will analyze data from clinical trials of several vaccines using these viral vectors, including J&J’s Ebola vaccine, to look for clues.

None of the previous vaccines using viral vectors have been administered at close to the scale of the AstraZeneca and J&J COVID-19 shots, which may explain why a potential link to blood clots only materialized during these massive vaccination programs.

The technology has also been used in coronavirus vaccines developed in China and Russia.

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, was reluctant to declare the blood clot issues a “class effect” shared by all adenovirus vector vaccines, but he sees marked similarity in the cases.

“It’s plainly obvious to us already that what we’re seeing with the Janssen (J&J) vaccine looks very similar to what was being seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Marks said. “We can’t make some broad statement yet, but obviously, they are from the same general class of viral vectors.”

At the beginning

In Europe, scientists are exploring a number of hypotheses, including looking more broadly at the way the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself affects blood coagulation.

One team in the Netherlands plans to conduct lab studies that expose specific types of cells and tissues to the vaccines and monitor how they react. They will also explore whether any risks could be limited further by reducing the vaccine dose.

“There are many hypotheses, and some of them may play a role,” said Eric van Gorp, a virologist at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam. “We are at the beginning, and – as it goes in research – it may be that we can find the clue at once, or it may be that it goes step by step.”

Other scientists were struck by the parallel between the J&J and AstraZeneca shots.

Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said the similar blood clotting incidents associated with both “is clearly noteworthy for defining mechanism.” There has been no sign of such problems with the vaccines made by BioNTech SE with Pfizer Inc or Moderna Inc using a different technology.

“It would be interesting to know more about Sputnik V – also a similar adenovirus vaccine,” Altmann said. The Russian vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow uses two different human cold viruses – including the Ad26 virus in the J&J shot.

The issue might also affect the adenovirus vector vaccine from China’s CanSino Biological, experts said.

Examining whether there is some common link to adenoviruses is “a reasonable speculation, and it’s a line of research and investigation. But that doesn’t mean it’s proven,” said John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

Moore, who took part in an informal White House briefing with other scientists on Tuesday, said the FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working closely with health officials in Europe to determine whether the syndromes linked to the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines are the same.

An important clue may lie in the fact that the reported events typically appear around 13 days after the shot, which is the period in which antibodies might be expected to appear.

“This is speculation, but the timing of something happening after about 13 days on average is suggestive of an immune response to a component to the vaccine,” Moore said.

Investigations of this sort could take years. But like the vaccines themselves that were produced in record time, Moore believes there will be so much effort put into the research that it will more likely be resolved within weeks.

“It’s so clearly important,” he said.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210414/us-fda-to-scrutinize-vaccine-design-behind-covid19-shots-linked-to-blood-clots/60353.html

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Seven European countries to halt export finance for fossil fuels

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Seven European countries, including Germany, France and Britain, will commit on Wednesday to stop public export guarantees for fossil fuel projects, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday.

Coal, oil and gas infrastructure have traditionally made up a large share of the portfolios of many countries’ public export finance agencies, which support exports through state-backed financing guarantees and insurance against losses abroad.

Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden are the other four countries to back the initiative.

Britain, France and Sweden have already laid out plans to halt export guarantees for the fossil fuel sector while the other countries in the group have yet to decide how fast they will phase out their support.

“We are totally determined to stop all export guarantees financing fossil fuels while taking into account each country’s industrial specifics and the impact on jobs,” Le Maire said.

Speaking before a meeting on Wednesday where the pledge is to be formalised, Le Maire added that he hoped U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration would join the group, which together accounts for 40% of export finance among OECD countries, following an upcoming review of U.S. export finance.

Le Maire also said the seven countries would commit to supporting climate-friendly projects and transparency in their export finance policies.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20210414/seven-european-countries-to-halt-export-finance-for-fossil-fuels/60351.html

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