Covid-19 Antibodies Last A Minimum Of Nine Months After Infection: Study

Covid-19 Antibodies Last A Minimum Of Nine Months After Infection: Study

LONDON — A new study led by researchers at the Imperial College London and the University of Padua said that antibody levels were considerably high even nine months after the Covid-19 infection, irrespective of patients being symptomatic or asymptomatic.

The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers tested more than 85 percent of the 3,000 residents of Vo’, a commune in Italy, in February/March 2020 for infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and tested them again in May and November 2020 for antibodies against the virus.

The team found that 98.8 percent of people infected in February and March showed detectable levels of antibodies in November, and there was no difference between people who had suffered symptoms of Covid-19 and those that had been symptom-free.

Antibody levels were tracked using three ‘assays’ — tests that detect different types of antibodies that respond to different parts of the virus. The results showed that while all antibody types showed some decline between May and November, the rate of decay was different depending on the assay.

The team also found cases of antibody levels increasing in some people, suggesting potential re-infection with the virus, providing a boost to the immune system.

“We found no evidence that antibody levels between symptomatic and asymptomatic infections differ significantly, suggesting that the strength of the immune response does not depend on the symptoms and the severity of the infection,” said lead author Ilaria Dorigatti.

“However, our study does show that antibody levels vary, sometimes markedly, depending on the test used. This means that caution is needed when comparing estimates of infection levels in a population obtained in different parts of the world with different tests and at different times.”

The team also investigated the infection status of household members to estimate how likely an infected member is to pass on the infection within the household. Their modeling suggests that there was a probability of about 1 in 4 that a person infected with SARS-CoV-2 passes the infection to a family member and that most transmission (79 percent) is caused by 20 percent of infections.

“The May testing demonstrated that 3.5 percent of the Vo’ population had been exposed to the virus, even though not all of these subjects were aware of their exposure given the large fraction of asymptomatic infections,” said Enrico Lavezzo, Professor at the University of Padua.

“However, at the follow-up, which was performed roughly nine months after the outbreak, we found that antibodies were less abundant, so we need to continue to monitor antibody persistence for longer time spans.”

This finding confirms that there are large differences in the number of secondary cases generated by infected people, with a minority of the infections generating numerous infections.

The large differences in how one infected person may infect others in the population suggest that behavioral factors are key for epidemic control. Physical distancing, as well as limiting the number of contacts and mask-wearing, continue to be important to reduce the risk of transmitting the disease, even in highly vaccinated populations.

“Our study also shows that manual contact tracing — the search for positive individuals on the basis of known and declared contacts — would have had a limited impact on the containment of the epidemic, had it not been accompanied by a mass screening,” said Andrea Crisanti, Professor, Department of Life Sciences at the Imperial College.

The team’s dataset also allowed them to tease apart the impact of various control measures. They showed that, in the absence of case isolation and short lockdowns, manual contact tracing alone would not have been enough to suppress the epidemic.

“It is clear that the epidemic is not over, neither in Italy nor abroad. Moving forward, I think that it is of fundamental importance to continue administering first and second vaccine doses as well as to strengthen surveillance, including contact tracing,” said Dorigatti.

“Encouraging caution and limiting the risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 will continue to be essential.”

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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Ex-Miami Dolphins Pro Bowler Draws On Deep Football Experience In First Head-Coach Role 

Ex-Miami Dolphins Pro Bowler Draws On Deep Football Experience In First Head-Coach Role 

Chris Chambers played for several winning coaches during the course of his collegiate pro-football career. Now he’s working to put what he learned to work in his first head-coaching job at the University of Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

His playing days were productive: Following a successful career as a wide receiver at the University of Wisconsin, where he ranks in the top 10 in several statistical categories, the Miami Dolphins selected Chambers in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft. His best season was in 2005 when he led the Dolphins in receptions and was named to the AFC Pro Bowl. He would also play for the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs before wrapping up a 10-year pro career.

Next, he opened a training facility, The Chamber, and coached high school before earning the nod this year from the University of Fort Lauderdale as its first head football coach since the school joined the NCCAA [National Christian College Athletic Association].

Chambers is excited to be able to help students academically, athletically and spiritually at the commuter college. He hopes to implement some teachings of legendary coaching figures throughout his career, and plans to surround himself with an experienced coaching staff.

Zenger caught up with Chambers, who talks about the difficulty of being a first-year coach following COVID, explains the type of athletes he’s looking for, and much more.

Percy Crawford interviewed Chris Chambers for Zenger.

Zenger: Congratulations on being named head football coach of the University of Fort Lauderdale. How is everything going?

Chambers: It’s going well, man. I absolutely love the opportunity. I thought it goes well with everything I have done up to this point with my pro career and post-career in sports performance the last 10 years. Just being around the high school kids, the college kids and the pro prospects.

I was already immersed in that scene. Just to be able to take that and become the head coach of a university is big, and I didn’t want to take it for granted. I’ve been coaching high school the last couple of years, so I had gotten that itch to really start coaching, and then this opportunity literally just fell in my lap over a weekend.

Zenger: Obviously, the biggest difference from high school to college is recruiting. What has that process been like?

Percy Crawford interviewed Chris Chambers for Zenger. (Heidi Malone/Zenger)

Chambers: That’s the most challenging part right now. I had to start my recruiting process in May, if you could imagine, to get ready for a 2021 season. There was a lot of interest from freshman from the previous coach, but if he’s not here, he’s not going to be trying to help them guys get here. He would be re-recruiting them to other places. That was an uphill battle in the beginning. I didn’t even count on the people that he recruited before me. I just focused on the people who saw me become the head coach and then inquired about being on our team.

I have really been digging through some past recruits that are interested and some leads I had, then transfer portal, then JUCO [Junior College], and now I’m getting with some influencers in the area; head coaches or prep school coaches sending me lists. Private coaches are sending me stuff, so I’m just gathering as much information as possible, putting it in my database and calling guys.

At first, Percy, I was getting a lead, and I was emailing that player. I was like, “You know what, these kids are not looking at emails like we look at them.” It took me a week to figure that out because I wasn’t getting any response until I started calling people. I was calling the leads, I was texting them, and then the communication picked up, and we got a bit more social as far as the marketing side.

People started seeing this as a real opportunity, so I used that to my advantage. I’m just using a combination of influencers, social media, past relationships with coaches, and now I’m hiring coaches to help me on the recruiting side as well.

Zenger: Times have changed and things are a lot different from when you were being recruited. What other adjustments have you made in your own recruiting process?

Chambers: Because we had COVID-19 last year, we all spent a lot of time on Zoom and finding different ways to communicate, different ways to evaluate people. At the same time, there are not too many of them I have seen in person. We hosted three showcases. The showcases were really to give them an orientation of the school, give them information of admissions and enrollments, talk about scholarship opportunities, and the next day was to see them in person. Get them to run around, put them through combine-type drills and evaluate them. That’s been picking up. The first time I think we had 19, the second time we had 31 and this past weekend we had almost 40. So, the word is definitely getting out, but at the same time, we’re a commuter school.

We’re going to have to rely heavily on local guys who don’t need housing. When the kids come from out of town, we still find housing opportunities for them, but that’s not something that the school takes care of. We only take care of tuition and fees when it comes to scholarships, but when it comes to housing, that’s more on the parents and kids. I’m trying to find a way to at least give them some options in the area so they feel safe, and make sure things work out.

Zenger: Tell me more about how COVID-19 impacted what you are trying to do.

Chambers: Yeah. I dealt with the whole COVID thing as far as what we needed to do last year with limited practices, limited time and stuff like that. So, it does feel like a COVID year for me, even though it’s not anymore for a lot of other programs. They had a chance to do winter, they had a chance to do spring ball, they had a chance to do summer workouts. So everybody is completely ready for the 2021 season, as opposed to last year. I’m dealing with COVID because I didn’t get a spring, I didn’t get a winter, all I got was a little bit of the summer. Not a lot of practice, not a lot of conditioning, not a lot of things you would need to build up for a football season. That’s going to be the challenging part.

The good thing is, I have been working on hiring the right coaches and people. Even though this is an urgent situation, I’ve been very slow and patient with it. I didn’t want to hire just anybody. I needed to hire experienced people who understood the situation as far as growth potential, and people who know how to develop athletes very fast. I’m closing in on some guys right now. I have a few coaches hired already.

That’s another challenge in itself, because if you don’t have relationships with certain people, you just don’t want to be hiring anybody just to be hiring them just because they have a resume. You want to have some sort of relationship and continuity, because if you don’t, it can go the other way real fast. I’ve seen that happen before on the professional level. When the upstairs and the coaching staff weren’t in sync, it trickled down to the players and it just gets ugly from there. That’s where I’m at with that.

Zenger: What made the University of Fort Lauderdale the place for you?

Chambers: I would say the name was the biggest thing. I felt like from being in the business world the last 10 years, I saw it as a great startup business opportunity. It’s something that I can grow. I can put my imprint on and potentially leave a legacy, being one of the first head coaches of the school, and hopefully taking it to NCAA Division I one day. That’s obviously not going to happen overnight, but the fact that I was an influencer in the area already, a celebrity, professional football player, all of those things will help bring out the exposure for the school, which I love doing.

I’ve always been in media, I’m good at handling that, I’ve owned my own training facility for several years, so as far as working with people, hiring people, firing people (laughing), all of those responsibilities that comes with owning a business, I have that in my back pocket already. I’m confident when it comes to some of the things I need to do as a coach, but at the same time, we are a faith-based school, and I absolutely love that. The fact that I can tell a parent that we are going to develop you academically, athletically and spiritually is big, and it resonates a lot with people.

Zenger: Is this a high-pressure job for you?

Chambers: Yes! (laughing). The school wants admissions. We know in every program, every high school and the majority of college programs, the football team is the leader of the program, unless you’re a basketball school. What that means is, we’re the ones that’s going to go out there and hopefully have money games, the money games are going to seep into the athletic department, the athletic department is going to be able to use some of them funds to support other sports and activities.

I see that as a big responsibility, and I enjoy the fact that we get to be the leaders when I come to that. That’s what we have to do, we have to build this up through the football department. We build from the nine sports that we have right now, to 14 sports, to 20 sports, and that’s when you talk about entering other conferences, or having opportunities to do special things in the future.

Zenger: What do you look for in an athlete?

Chambers: Heart is big, but I love smart football players, and I love tough football players. Those are things that you can’t really measure from talent. Obviously, if they have the talent, that’s even better, but tough football players is what I’m looking for. Guys who want to handle responsibilities. I’m going to make sure they know how to communicate. I want to make sure they are very transparent, because I’m going to do the things that I would want a coach to do. I want a coach to be straight up with me, good, bad or ugly. Just tell me what it is. That’s the coach that I want to have.

When I was at the University of Wisconsin, I would run through a wall for [then-head coach] Barry Alvarez. I have to figure out, how do I get these kids to run through a wall for me? That’s going to be the challenge. I will be able to draw from a place like Wisconsin, and the many coaches I had with the Miami Dolphins. I even had coach [Nick] Saban for a year or two. I’m taking all of these different teachings and seeing if I can develop something for myself. At the same time, I will rely on my coaching staff who may have even more experience than me on this level that can be able to help out in that area.

Zenger: I wish you the best of luck and I know you will enjoy success at the University of Fort Lauderdale. Anything before I let you go?

Chambers: I appreciate it. I think it would be good if we circle back at some point mid-season or post-season and do another one and see how things are going and talk about future plans from there.

(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff)

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U.S. Report Says Chinese Hackers Breached 13 U.S. Gas Pipeline Operators From 2011 To 2013

U.S. Report Says Chinese Hackers Breached 13 U.S. Gas Pipeline Operators From 2011 To 2013

WASHINGTON — A report from the United States apex cyber agency said that 13 U.S. gas pipeline operators were breached between 2011 and 2013 by Chinese state-sponsored hackers. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) report was published on July 20. 

“The United States government identified and tracked 23 United States natural gas pipeline operators targeted from 2011 to 2013 in this spearphishing and intrusion campaign,” an advisory said. 

“Thirteen were confirmed compromises, three were near misses, and eight had an unknown depth of intrusion.” 

The security agency said the United States federal government had specifically attributed the attacks to state-sponsored forces backed by the Chinese government. 

“The United States government has attributed this activity to Chinese state-sponsored actors. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation assess that these actors were specifically targeting United States pipeline infrastructure for the purpose of holding United States pipeline infrastructure at risk,” the advisory said.

United States security agencies have assessed that the attacks were ultimately intended to help China develop cyber-attack capabilities against the country’s pipelines to physically damage or disrupt pipeline operations, the advisory said.

This comes a day after the United States and its foreign allies accused China of overseeing widespread attempts to extort money in cyberspace. 

United States security agencies have issued a new advisory about a major threat to the cyberspace assets of the United States and its allies from Chinese state-sponsored cyber activities, including ransomware attacks.

In a coordinated announcement, a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) issued in July said that state-backed cyber hackers aggressively target political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure to steal sensitive data. This includes emerging key technologies, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information.

An unprecedented group of U.S. allies and partners, including the EU, the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, joined hands to expose and criticize the China Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities.

Meanwhile, China denied accusations that actors linked to its government were behind the Microsoft Exchange hack and other “malicious cyber activities.”

Four Chinese nationals were recently charged with global cyber espionage by the United States Department of Justice. 

“The conspiracy’s hacking campaign targeted victims in the United States, Austria, Cambodia, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom,” the statement by the Department of Justice said.  

The Targeted industries included, among others, aviation, defense, education, government, health care, biopharmaceutical, and maritime. 

The stolen trade secrets and confidential business information included sensitive technologies used for submersibles and autonomous vehicles, specialty chemical formulas, commercial aircraft servicing, and proprietary genetic-sequencing technology.

(With Inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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Year’s First Bird Flu Death Reported In Indian Capital Delhi

Year’s First Bird Flu Death Reported In Indian Capital Delhi

NEW DELHI — India reported its first bird flu death in 2021 after a 12-year-old boy undergoing treatment for H5N1 Avian influenza died at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences pediatric department in the capital Delhi on July 20.

The All-India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are a group of autonomous government public medical universities of higher education.

“The 12-year-old boy being treated at the hospital was found to be infected with H5N1 (Avian flu) after diagnosis,” said the officials at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences.

“The boy was suffering from leukemia and pneumonia. He was under treatment and admitted to the intensive care unit of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi.”

“Human-to-human transmission of the H5N1 virus is sporadic, and there is no need to panic,” said Randeep Guleria, chief of the All-India Institutes of Medical Sciences.

“All staff who had exposure to him should monitor themselves for any signs and symptoms of flu and should report if any are present,” said the officials at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences.

H5N1 stands for Highly Pathogenic Asian Avian Influenza (H5N1) Virus. Avian influenza is a strain of the influenza virus that primarily infects birds but can also infect humans.

This type of flu is most often contracted by contact with sick birds. It can also be passed from person to person.

Symptoms begin within two to eight days and can seem like common flu. Cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, and shortness of breath may occur.

The disease can carry high mortality in humans. Some antiviral drugs, if taken within two days of symptoms, may help. Human cases of H5N1 are rare, but if infected, the mortality rate is about 60 percent, as per the World Health Organization.

The H5N1 virus can cause severe flu with a high mortality rate. Bird flu is caused by a type of influenza virus that rarely infects humans.

Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds or H5N1-contaminated environments. The experts believe that the virus does not infect humans easily and spreads from person to person appears to be unusual.

Infected birds shed the avian influenza virus in their saliva, mucous, and feces. Human infections with bird flu viruses can happen when enough virus gets into a person’s eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled.

The virus was first detected in 1996 in geese in China.

However, Asian H5N1 was first detected in humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong and has since been detected in poultry and wild birds in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Ritaban Misra)

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Angry Politicians Make Angry Voters, New Study Finds

Angry Politicians Make Angry Voters, New Study Finds

WASHINGTON — Politicians turning to angry rhetoric seems to work, at least in the short term, new research led by the political scientists from Colorado has revealed.

Published in the journal Political Research Quarterly, the study by Carey Stapleton from the University of Colorado Boulder and Ryan Dawkins at the U.S. Air Force Academy discovered that political furor may be spreading easily.

Ordinary citizens can start to mirror the angry emotions of the politicians they read about in the news. Such “emotional contagion” might even drive some voters who would otherwise tune out of politics to head to the polls.

“Politicians want to get reelected, and anger is a powerful tool that they can use to make that happen,” said Stapleton, who recently earned his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The researchers surveyed roughly 1,400 people online from across the political spectrum, presenting them with a series of mock news stories about a recent political debate.

The researchers discovered that when it comes to politics, anger may lead to more anger.

Subjects who read about an enraged politician from their own party were more likely to report the feeling of being ‘mad’ themselves than people who didn’t.

Those same steaming partisans also reported that they were more likely to get involved in politics, from attending rallies to voting on Election Day.

“Anger is a very strong, short-term emotion that motivates people into action,” said Stapleton.

“But there can be these much more negative implications in the long term. There’s always the potential that anger can turn into rage and violence.”

Anger and politics in the U.S. have long gone hand-in-hand — the nation’s second president, John Adams, once referred to Alexander Hamilton as a “bastard brat of a Scotch peddler.”

But Stapleton and Dawkins’ findings come at a time when American politics has grown especially divisive.

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, “around nine-in-ten Donald Trump and Joseph R. Biden supporters said there would be ‘lasting harm’ to the nation if the other candidate won,” the Pew Research Center reveals.

That anger boiled over with deadly results when a mob of supporters of then-President Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6.

Stapleton, who is not related to the Colorado political family, wanted to find out just how contagious those kinds of emotions could be. He will start a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Notre Dame in the fall.

“Most political science research to date has focused on what we do when we feel an emotion like anger, rather than how our emotions affect other people,” Stapleton said.

To find out how the emotions of politicians might rub off on their supporters, he and Dawkins ran an experiment. The duo wrote a series of news stories about a debate on immigration policy between two candidates for an open Congressional seat in Minnesota.

Unbeknownst to the study’s subjects, neither the candidates nor their debate was real.

In some cases, the faux politicians used language that tipped into outrage (although it might still look tame in the current political landscape).

“When I look at our borders, I’m enraged by what I see,” as an example.

In other cases, the soap boxers stuck to more neutral language. The team’s results are among the first to show what many Americans have long known—that political anger can be a powerful force.

“We report being angrier after seeing our fellow partisans being angry,” Stapleton said. “When the other side is angry, it doesn’t seem to affect us much at all.”

If Democrats read about a fellow Democrat getting mad, for example, they often reported feeling angry themselves.

However, in contrast, blue voters who encountered neutral information or saw an angry quote from a Republican didn’t experience the same swings in emotion.

The study also brought a twist: The people who were the most susceptible to those shifts weren’t the die-hard partisans on either side of the aisle. They were more moderate voters.

“The really far left and right are already so amped up,” Stapleton said. “But these weakly-aligned partisans who are notoriously less likely to participate in elections were more susceptible to changing their emotions.”

For Stapleton, the results carry an important lesson for ordinary voters. While watching the news, people should pay attention to how politicians may try to appeal to or even manipulate emotions to get what they want.

But, he further said, anger is only part of the picture. In a previous study, he and his colleagues discovered that optimistic people are much more likely to be politically active than pessimists.

“Anger is one way we can get people to vote and get engaged in politics, but it’s not the only way,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.”

The U.S. uses an electoral college system, where each state has a specified number of electors (proportional to population) who vote for their preferred candidate.

Since 1824, most states have adopted a winner-take-all approach to presidential elections, where electors cast all ballots for the state-wide winner of the popular vote. The total number of electoral votes grew as the U.S. expanded over time, and since 1964 there have been a total of 538 electoral votes on offer.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Ritaban Misra)

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Adobe Introduces Apple M1 Support For Premiere Pro

Adobe Introduces Apple M1 Support For Premiere Pro

WASHINGTON — American software firm Adobe’s Premiere Pro has been rolled out to consumers using an Apple M1 Mac. The support for Apple’s new chips has been initiated after its beta launch in December.

Adobe said there are speed increases throughout the app, from a 50 percent faster launch to 77 percent faster “editing,” whatever that giant term encompasses, as per a media report.

Apple released its first computers with M1 chips in November. Though they’re able to run apps that were built for machines with Intel processors, programs had to be updated to take full advantage of the M1’s speed improvements.

“Since Premiere Pro is built on a large codebase with support for a wide range of media and workflows, we will implement native support for Apple M1 in phases, and some parts have not been ported yet,” said Francis Crossman, Adobe’s Senior Product Manager at the launch in December.

“This phased approach allows us to validate performance and functionality for specific parts of the application before we add new components. And it also allows you to start seeing the benefits now.”

“The first public Beta includes all the core editing functions and workflows like color, graphics, and audio, as well as features like Productions and MultiCam. We prioritized support for the most widely used codecs, like H.264, HEVC, and ProRes,” said Crossman. 

The Lightroom for M1 launched in December, Photoshop for M1 launched in March, and Lightroom Classic, Illustrator, and InDesign for M1 launched in June. Adobe Character Animator and Media Encoder are getting M1 support as well. 

Premiere Pro is getting some other feature updates in its July release. The biggest is a speech-to-text feature, previously in beta, that’s able to automatically generate a video transcript. 

There’s also a new captions’ customization feature that lets users adjust how that text might display on their video, as per a media report. 

“The new Apple M1 platform offers improved performance and greater energy efficiency. Transitioning the Creative Cloud applications to the new platform will allow users to take advantage of the new technology.” Adobe said in a blog in December.

Apple’s latest iMac comes with a completely new design and an M1 processor. It’s a step-up over the old 21.5-inch model in every way except for how many ports are on the back. If users are looking for an all-in-one for home use, the new 24-inch iMac is hard to beat.

(With Inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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