Month: November 2020

A Motorcycle Rally in a Pandemic? ‘We Kind of Knew What Was Going to Happen’

first_img– Advertisement – “I don’t understand why he went to Sturgis and didn’t take Covid seriously,” said Jon Esmay, a friend who had not spoken with Mr. Aguirre in a few months. “Mostly I’m just angry that someone who talked to or saw him more often didn’t get him to the ER. I’m angry that I didn’t talk to him more often.”Dustin Van Balen, who considered Mr. Aguirre to be like an adopted brother, said he had been trying to piece together a timeline using Mr. Aguirre’s phone. But he said they might never have answers.“Not knowing is the hardest part,” he said.Mark Walker reported from Sturgis, and Jack Healy from Denver. After the crowds streamed home like some huge exhalation, coronavirus cases tied to the rally began popping up as far away as New Hampshire. Infection numbers climbed in the Dakotas and in the neighboring states of Wyoming and Nebraska, where thousands of residents had returned from Sturgis.In all, cases spread to more than 20 states and at least 300 people — including revelers’ families and co-workers who never set foot in South Dakota, according to state health officials. Twin sisters who had worked at a bike-washing stand in Sturgis tested positive. So did a local paramedic. And a motorcycle mechanic’s family in Rapid City. “I said back in March, do you want me to build a wall around Sturgis or a wall around South Dakota, because that is the only way we could have stopped them,” Mayor Mark Carstensen of Sturgis said.The backlash came quickly. After the rally concluded, city officials were flooded with death threats day and night by phone, email and mail. Some called the rally a declaration of freedom and went home with T-shirts declaring, “Screw Covid I Went to Sturgis.” But others in deeply conservative South Dakota now say it recklessly helped seed a new wave of cases raging out of control in the state.Family members who stayed away are angry at relatives who attended and brought the virus home. Sturgis council members who approved the rally have been bombarded with death threats. And health experts and politicians are still fighting over how many cases Sturgis may have caused across the country. STURGIS, S.D. — Albert Aguirre was amped as he and a buddy skimmed across the South Dakota plains, heading to join 460,000 bikers for a motorcycle rally shaping up to be a Woodstock of unmasked, uninhibited coronavirus defiance.“Sit tight Sturgis,” Mr. Aguirre, 40, posted on Facebook on Aug. 7 as he snapped a photo of the sun sifting through the clouds. “We’re almost there!”- Advertisement – The illnesses cut rifts among friends and families. In the rural panhandle of western Nebraska, Heather Edwards watched with frustration after a cousin who had worked at the rally tested positive and then shrugged off the seriousness because she had a mild case. A woman in Sioux Falls, S.D., seethed after her sister returned home from Sturgis, went to a wedding with a pasta buffet and tested positive the next day.Heidi Morgan, a conservative Republican who lives in the Black Hills, said some friends from Nebraska who attended Sturgis got sick after returning home. They refused to get tested out of a belief that the rally’s opponents wanted to use higher infection numbers as a political weapon.“There’s that feeling of, ‘We’re not going to add to the numbers,’” said Ms. Morgan, who said her family had taken the pandemic seriously, guided by their Baptist faith in putting others’ welfare first. “I’m trying to convince them that’s not true.”‘Not Knowing Is the Hardest Part’Mr. Aguirre was found dead at home on Sept. 10. The officers who moved his body wore gowns and protective gear because of the coronavirus risk, according to Chief Matt Betzen of the Vermillion Police Department. A posthumous test for the virus came back positive, according to the county coroner. In Rapid City, Holly Sortland had feared the virus would find her family, especially her 15-year-old son who has a heart defect. Her husband was a motorcycle mechanic in Sturgis, and though he wore a mask and tried to stay away from the rally crowds, a co-worker had been going maskless to the bars. Five people at his bike shop tested positive.“We kind of knew what was going to happen,” Ms. Sortland said. “I’ve never seen him so sick.”By mid-August, Ms. Sortland said, her husband was running a 101-degree fever and shed about 10 pounds. When she got flowers for her birthday, she realized that she could not smell them — a symptom that she, too, had Covid-19. A positive coronavirus test confirmed it. A contact tracer with the South Dakota Department of Health called the family to ask where her husband worked, but he worried about getting into trouble with his boss given the stigma that swirls around the virus, Ms. Sortland said. When she talked with the tracer, she said, she was not asked about her family contacts or where she had shopped.To date, the Health Department has reported 125 coronavirus cases among state residents who attended the rally. Derrick Haskins, a department spokesman, said the agency only conducts contact tracing on South Dakota residents.The Minnesota Department of Health in September connected 74 cases to the rally — 51 people who attended and 23 others who came into contact with them later. A man in his 60s who attended the rally contracted the virus and died. He is the only rallygoer whose death has been attributed to the coronavirus.“It is very challenging to trace the infections that attendees may have spread after they returned from Sturgis,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of infectious disease epidemiology at the Minnesota Department of Health. “We were able to link several infections at a Minnesota wedding to someone who had gone to Sturgis but we were not able to definitively state there was a direct link. The web just becomes too complicated.” Health officials said a lack of contact tracing and the sheer scale of the event have made it impossible to know how many people were infected directly or indirectly because of Sturgis.“We don’t know if we’ll ever know the full extent,” said Dr. Benjamin C. Aaker, president of the South Dakota State Medical Association. “These people go home and get sick with coronavirus. They don’t have any way of knowing whether they picked it up at the rally or back in California.”Mr. Aguirre’s friends said they would likely never know whether he got sick at Sturgis, at a bar or restaurant in his hometown as college students returned, or somewhere else altogether.But friends said that by early September, Mr. Aguirre — a big guy and fiercely loyal friend who loved cooking and the Wu-Tang Clan — had been sick for more than a week and was struggling to breathe and eat. He called a local clinic but worried he could not afford to go to a hospital because he did not have insurance, according to friends and the chief of the Vermillion Police Department. In response, the city scrubbed its website of all personal contact information and replaced it with a generic phone line. The death threats ramped up another notch after a study suggested the event resulted in an estimated 250,000 coronavirus infections across the country.Mike Bachand, a City Council member, was among those who received death threats for his vote to host the event. The messages continue to come in, he said.Rod Woodruff, owner of the Buffalo Chip, which is outside the city limits of Sturgis and is used as a campground by motorcyclists during the rally, said he could not rationally see how the event could end up being a superspreader event and was skeptical of some of the cases being linked back to the event. Mr. Woodruff said he did not know of anyone who contracted the virus at the campgrounds. Democrats and some conservatives in South Dakota say the rally turned their state into a petri dish. They say Sturgis and other mass gatherings like President Trump’s Fourth of July rally, the state fair and an early-September Mustang car rally in Sturgis helped send the state’s infection rate soaring to one of the highest in the nation. The state is averaging about 1,100 cases a day, compared with fewer than 100 in much of August and September.But other conservatives accuse the news media and Democrats of inflating case counts and exaggerating the rally’s toll to smear its bikers. They said the number of infections was negligible compared with the thousands who attended, and pointed out that many rallygoers spent the week outdoors, camping and zooming through Spearfish Canyon and the Badlands.‘I’ve Never Seen Him So Sick’Back home, quietly, people were getting sick. And health departments in different states were struggling to trace where they had gotten sick or who else they might have infected on long road trips that spanned hundreds of miles. A month later, back home in the college town of Vermillion, S.D., Mr. Aguirre was so sick he could barely take a shower. He had not been tested but told friends that it had to be Covid-19.Infectious-disease experts had warned about the dangers of cramming thousands of revelers into the Black Hills of South Dakota at the height of a pandemic. But it was the 80th anniversary of the annual Sturgis rally, and bikers were coming no matter what. South Dakota’s Republican governor, a vocal opponent of lockdowns, gave her blessing, local leaders set aside their misgivings, and thousands of people from every state in the nation rolled down Sturgis’s Main Street.- Advertisement – In the aftermath, hundreds of people have gotten sick and Sturgis has become a rumbling symbol of America’s bitter divisions over the coronavirus, even now, as cases continue to surge, surpassing more than 121,000 daily infections on Thursday, and the nation’s death toll crosses 235,000. South Dakota’s Health Department has not connected any deaths to the rally, and Mr. Aguirre’s friends said they have been struggling to get answers or information about how and where he got sick, and wondering whether they could have helped. In North Dakota, the Health Department traced 30 cases back to the event, said Nicole Peske, a spokeswoman for the agency. That number, she added, does not include any secondary coronavirus cases that may have resulted if someone contracted the virus from someone who was at the rally.Ms. Peske said the agency was still investigating the cases linked to the event. “Hanging in there?” a friend, Dan Herrera, texted Mr. Aguirre on Sept. 5.“About to get in the shower and see how much energy that uses,” Mr. Aguirre replied.“Good luck.”Three days later, Mr. Herrera texted Mr. Aguirre to check in.This time, there was no answer.‘Do You Want Me to Build a Wall Around Sturgis?’Like every year, banners strung across Main Street proclaimed, “Welcome Harley Riders.” Downtown was blocked off for motorcycle parking. And despite rising case counts and growing criticism, Gov. Kristi Noem told Fox News in August that the state was handling the virus and glad to host the rally. “We hope people come,” she said.But behind the scenes, many in the 7,000-person city of Sturgis were on edge.Three City Council members wanted to call it off, but they changed their votes at the last minute after several large concert venues, including the Buffalo Chip campground and Rushmore Photo and Gifts, sent letters threatening legal action against the city. Sixty percent of residents who answered a city-sponsored survey wanted to postpone the rally, but city officials said they were boxed in. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Why top analysts say buy stocks like Qualcomm & Humana

first_img2011 Gain: $32.87 (60%) 2011 Closing price: $87.61 Last year, investors turned away from HMO stocks such as this, fearing the impact of a new health care overhaul rule involving medical-loss ratios. However, Humana showed it was able to manage the new regulation and in October delivered better-than-expected profits and a better-than-expected forecast for 2012. Stephen Weiss, partner at Short Hills Capital, “At eight times earnings, you’re owning a stock that’s still cheap and very, very defensivPhoto: Humana.com – Advertisement – The FDA has 60 days to review the final submission, and after this, if the application is acceptable for review, a PDUFA goal date will be set. It should be noted that the drug was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) in 2019, reducing the review time from 10 months to 6 months.“We see scope for Provention to meet its prior guidance of a potential U.S. approval of teplizumab for the delay or prevention of T1D in at-risk individuals in mid-2021… Teplizumab is a potential breakthrough asset, with highly significant results in subjects ‘at-risk’ for end-stage T1D,” Amusa commented.Looking at the Phase 2 “at-risk” study, even though it’s smaller in size, the data represents the “first demonstration of therapeutic modulation of disease progression in T1D, strongly supporting Provention’s approach to treating autoimmune disease in the early stages,” in Amusa’s opinion. In addition, the therapy was praised in an editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine.What’s more, Amusa estimates the at-risk population is a blockbuster opportunity just in the U.S. Based on information from the JDRF T1 Fund, there are over 300,000 stage 1-2 T1D patients in the U.S. and 2.3 million worldwide. “300,000 U.S. patients at a $60,000 one-time price for a course of treatment implies a $18 billion total market opportunity. A 60,000 per year transitioning population for each stage implies a $2.4 billion per year recurring total market opportunity,” he explained.Taking the #99 spot on TipRanks’ ranking, Amusa is currently tracking a 31.8% average return per rating.FabrinetFabrinet has just received a thumbs up from Needham’s Alex Henderson, with this five-star analyst putting an $85 price target (29% upside potential) and a buy rating on the stock on November 3.In the most recent quarter, the optical communications device company handily beat Henderson’s revenue and EPS estimates by 4.4% and 7%, respectively, and posted year-over-year growth of 9.4% and 22.9%, respectively. All of this was achieved despite an uncertain backdrop, with pressure on Huawei and Service Provider spending also reflected. Putting it simply, Henderson said, “These are good results.”Henderson argues that investors have been waiting to see Huawei’s impact fall out of its numbers, and now that the “fourth quarter bridge has been crossed, the upside is all that remains.”Cisco is moving a large portion of Systems products to Fabrinet, which could exceed $250 million annually, according to Henderson. However, he points out that the reported numbers only reflect a minor contribution from the Cisco transition, but this should really ramp in CYQ1 2021 and reach full run rate by June, with the first full quarter run rate expected in September.The analyst further mentioned, “We think the scale of this additional business is generally not reflected in the outlook and Street estimates… It should add at least $50-$60 million to Revenues year-over-year. The Street estimates have CYQ3 Revenues at $454 million up $18 million. We think the Fabrinet without Cisco could hit this number. If the rest of FN was flat it would do $486-$496 million. That’s a lot of upside.”TipRanks shows that the #153-rated analyst scores a 57% success rate and a 20.4% average return per rating.LivePersonSince CFO John Collins came on board, business messaging and communications software company LivePerson has placed a significant focus on implementing a data-driven approach across all aspects of the business, giving five-star analyst Ryan MacDonald, of Needham, “increased confidence in the improving trajectory of the business.”Taking an even more bullish stance, on October 30, MacDonald increased the price target from $60 to $65, in addition to reiterating a Buy rating. The new price target puts the upside potential at 5%.Based on the results from its third quarter, MacDonald argues the data-driven approach appears to be working. The company delivered a “Rule of 40 with a combination of 26% revenue growth and 18% free cash flow margin.” This marked LPSN’s first quarter of positive free cash flow since Q4 2018, with it highlighting “the progress the company is making on expense optimization while producing strong top line growth,” in the analyst’s opinion.“LPSN is adamant that the pandemic-driven increases in usage are sustainable and indicative of a structural shift in the market… When combining this with the operational efficiencies that the company is implementing across the organization, we remain confident that LPSN can continue to accelerate growth and expand margins,” MacDonald commented.Some investors expressed concern that new logos have yet to rebound. However, MacDonald believes there is a “strong near-term expansion opportunity in the existing base can support growth acceleration while new reps and channel partners ramp.” As a result, he is a buyer at current levels.Given MacDonald’s 81% success rate and 40.4% average return per rating, he is among TipRanks’ Top 45 best-performing analysts.QualcommOn November 4, Deutsche Bank’s Ross Seymore maintained a buy rating on Qualcomm following a beat and raise quarter for the semiconductor company. Reflecting an additional bullish signal, the five-star analyst boosted the stock price forecast from $127 to $150, implying upside potential of 16%.Shares of Qualcomm surged over 11% in after-hours trading in response to the print. Looking at the details, it reported fiscal Q4 revenue of $6.5 billion, up 33% quarter-over-quarter. The analysts were expecting revenue of $5.9 billion. Non-GAAP EPS of $1.45 beat the Street’s $1.17 call. Although gross margin declined by 60 basis points quarter-over-quarter to 58.7%, it exceeded the 58.1% consensus estimate.When it came to its guidance for the upcoming quarter, Qualcomm didn’t disappoint. Management expects revenue to be in the range of $7.8 billion-$8.6 billion, up 26.1% quarter-over-quarter at the $8.2 billion midpoint. This easily beat the $7.1 billion consensus estimate.According to management, the ramp of 5G networks and handsets drove the strong performance, with Qualcomm’s CEO stating that the results included a “partial quarter impact” from a large handset producer in the U.S.Based on this “strong beat/raise,” Seymore argues Qualcomm is the “premier way” to play the expansion set to take place in the 5G handset space over the next year.As the analyst boasts an 82% success rate and a 28% average return per rating, Seymore is Wall Street’s 24th best-performing analyst.HumanaFollowing Humana‘s strong Q3 performance, Oppenheimer’s Michael Wiederhorn continues to see the health insurance company as a compelling play in the space. Accordingly, the five-star analyst reiterated a buy rating and $460 price target (2% upside potential) on November 3.For Q3, adjusted EPS came in at $3.08, well ahead of the $2.80 consensus estimate. Additionally, utilization bounced back to 95% of historical baseline levels by the end of the quarter, with non-coronavirus utilization expected to remain below normal levels in Q4.Although HUM guided for a Q4 EPS loss of between $2.29-$2.54, this factors in its investments in the Medicare channel, with this area of the business reflecting a significant market opportunity, in Wiederhorn’s opinion. On top of this, given the potentially “more favorable reimbursement environment and the maturation of its high-growth member base,” HUM could drive an improvement in margins.“Given the attractive growth of the company’s Medicare Advantage (MA) business, we believe Humana should return significant returns to shareholders,” Wiederhorn noted.Management also mentioned that the recently issued 2022 proposed rate increase of 2.82% for MA will likely, “benefit the company similarly to the overall market,” adding that 92% of members are in 4+ Star plans.With a 75% success rate and 21% average return per rating, Wiederhorn lands within the Top 30 on TipRanks’ list of best-performing analysts. While it’s now becoming clear Joe Biden will take the White House, investors are betting that Congress will be split, leaving President Trump’s corporate tax policy unchanged.“Up until about last week, the consensus belief was a full blue sweep — now that’s changing you’re seeing a repricing taking place in the market… a more status quo Senate may ease the burden of regulations on the tech sector,” Anna Han, an equity strategist at Wells Fargo Securities, commented.That said, as many factors remain uncertain, finding stocks primed to outperform the broader market isn’t easy.- Advertisement –center_img One approach is to look at the recent stock picks from analysts that consistently get it right. TipRanks analyst forecasting service attempts to identify Wall Street’s best-performing analysts, or the analysts with the highest success rate and average return per rating, tracked on a one-year basis.Here are the best-performing analysts’ five favorite stocks right now:Provention BioOn November 2, biotech company Provention Bio revealed the rolling submission of the BLA for teplizumab, a therapy that could potentially delay or prevent clinical type 1 diabetes (T1D) in at-risk patients, had been completed. For Chardan analyst Gbola Amusa, this development reaffirms his confidence in PRVB, with the company remaining a “Top Pick for 2020.” To this end, he reiterated a Buy rating and $35 price target (169% upside potential) after the news broke.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

FAA in final stages of Boeing 737 Max review; could approve as early as Nov. 18

first_img– Advertisement – – Advertisement – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is in the final stages of reviewing proposed changes to Boeing‘s 737 Max and expects to complete the process in the “coming days,” the agency’s chief told Reuters on Monday.Three sources briefed on the matter told Reuters the FAA is set to approve the plane’s ungrounding as early as Nov 18. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Reuters in a statement that he expects “this process will be finished in the coming days, once the agency is satisfied that Boeing has addressed” safety issues involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. – Advertisement – Boeing declined to comment.The ungrounding would be a vital step in a still-arduous path to recovery for Boeing, plunged into its worst-ever crisis by the crashes and the worldwide grounding of its best-selling plane in March 2019.“The FAA continues to engage with aviation authorities around the world as they prepare to validate our certification decision,” Dickson said.- Advertisement –center_img A Boeing 737 MAX jet lands near grounded 737 MAX planes following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington on June 29, 2020.Jason Redmond | AFP | Getty Images “As I have said many times before, the agency will take the time that it needs to thoroughly review the remaining work. Even though we are near the finish line, I will lift the grounding order only after our safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”Following the FAA green light, airlines must complete software updates and fresh pilot training, a process that will take at least 30 days, before the planes can return to the skies.Southwest Airlines LUV.N, the world’s largest Max operator, has said it would take several months to comply with the FAA requirements and that it does not plan to schedule flights on the aircraft until the second quarter of 2021.The grounding has cost the U.S. planemaker billions, hobbled its supply chain, and triggered investigations that faulted Boeing and the FAA for a lack of transparency and weak oversight during the jet’s development, among other problems.A Justice Department criminal investigation is ongoing.last_img read more

Sunday’s ‘Meet the Press’ showed one of the many reasons Republicans need to lose Georgia runoffs

first_imgThat tells you what to expect if they hold the Senate on Jan. 5: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will keep upholding the basic values Trump has brought to the table. McConnell will obstruct and blockade and prevent President Biden from getting anything done for the nation. Republicans will hurt the public in order to hurt Democratic election chances going forward, just as they are right this instant hurting the public by not challenging Trump to accept his defeat and begin the transition process. Republicans will do anything to win. But Democrats have to find a way to beat them. Republicans have spent the past four years doing Trump’s bidding, whether because they liked what they got from him enough to overlook what they didn’t like, or because secretly even those of them who sometimes pretend disapproval at his worst abuses are in their heart of hearts on board with every bit of Trump’s Trumpiness.And now, with national security and pandemic response on the line in a presidential transition, they’re still unwilling to challenge him. Be it simple fear, be it agreement with his efforts to overturn the results of the election, be it those two Georgia Senate seats, Republicans are not willing to do the right thing.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

H5N1 virus change may ease jump from birds to humans, WHO says

first_imgJan 12, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – An H5N1 avian influenza virus recovered from a Turkish patient has a mutation that may enable the virus to spread more easily from birds to humans, though the finding’s significance for human health is not yet clear, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.Viruses recovered from the first two Turkish children to die of avian flu have been analyzed in London, the WHO said. A sample from one of the patients has a mutation at “the receptor-binding site,” a reference to hemagglutinin, a protein that enables flu viruses to attach to and enter host cells.”One of the mutations has been seen previously in viruses isolated from a small outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003 (two cases, one of which was fatal) and from the 2005 outbreak in Viet Nam,” the WHO said. “Research has indicated that the Hong Kong 2003 viruses bind preferentially to human cell receptors more so than to avian cell receptors. Researchers at the Mill Hill [London] laboratory anticipate that the Turkish virus will also have this characteristic.”What the finding may mean for human health will depend on clinical and epidemiological data now being gathered in Turkey, the agency said. It added that it has found no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission of the virus in any country so far.In a Washington Post report today, the WHO’s Michael Perdue called the finding “a little concerning because the virus is still trying new things in its evolution.” Perdue is overseeing the WHO’s response to the Turkish outbreak from agency headquarters in Geneva, the story said.The WHO statement did not suggest whether the mutation could be a factor in the rapid increase in reported human cases in Turkey since the first two were revealed Jan 4. The number reached 18 today with the report that three more Turkish children have tested positive for an H5 avian flu virus, a finding that usually points to H5N1. The tests were done in a Turkish lab.The cases include two children, aged 4 and 6, in Sanliurfa province in southern Turkey and in Siirt province in the east, the WHO reported. Both had contact with sick birds. The other patient was a 12-year-old girl who died Jan 7 in eastern Turkey and was the sister of two teenagers who died of avian flu earlier.The WHO so far has officially recognized just four cases in Turkey on the basis of confirmation by outside labs.The analysis by the British lab showed that the viruses from the two Turkish children were very similar to H5N1 viruses recovered from birds in Turkey, the WHO said. The viruses were also closely related to viruses isolated from migratory birds that died at the Qinghai Lake nature reserve in China last spring.The WHO said the studies also indicate that the Turkish viruses are sensitive to both classes of antiviral drugs used against flu: oseltamivir (a neuraminidase inhibitor) and amantadine (an adamantane). H5N1 viruses are usually described as insensitive to adamantanes, though some strains have been susceptible.”WHO and collaborating experts will review the data on amantadine sensitivity. Oseltamivir remains the drug of first choice recommended by WHO,” the agency said.The agency said its pandemic alert level is still in phase 3: “human infections with a new virus subtype are occurring, but the vast majority of these infections are acquired directly from animals.”See also:Jan 12 WHO news releasehttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2006_01_12/en/index.htmllast_img read more

Experts welcome Indonesia’s vow to share H5N1 data

first_imgMay 19, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia’s recent announcement that it would immediately begin sharing H5N1 avian influenza genetic sequences with a new public database is being hailed by experts as a promising development, though there is a concern that having actual virus isolates would be better.Indonesia’s decision, announced by Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari, was detailed in a May 15 report from the Associated Press (AP).In early 2007 Indonesia stopped sharing H5N1 virus samples with the World Health Organization (WHO) to protest what it perceived as a lack of access to costly pandemic vaccines that companies in developed countries produce from the shared samples. The government has shared only a few samples with WHO labs since then.Though Indonesia’s embargo has drawn support from some other developing countries and nongovernmental organizations, the country was widely criticized by global health officials and researchers, who have said sample sharing is crucial for tracking the evolution of the virus and developing treatments and vaccines.”We have always promoted the sharing of influenza data, all we ask for is that it be done in a fair, transparent, and equitable manner,” Supari said of Indonesia’s decision to contribute sequence data to the new database, known as the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), according to the AP report.A WHO working group has met several times to resolve the virus-sharing dispute, but has made little progress. The issue is expected to surface at the annual World Health Assembly, which started today in Geneva. However, the working group’s next formal meeting is scheduled for November.Benefits, limitations of sequence dataTwo researchers who work with H5N1 viruses say they are pleased that Indonesia, which leads the world in human H5N1 cases and deaths, will share the genetic sequences from their virus samples. However, their opinions varied on how useful the genetic sequences will be without the actual H5N1 virus isolates, which are used to make seed strains for vaccines.Richard Webby, PhD, a virologist at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., told CIDRAP News that the sequences would allow researchers to track virus evolution.”It is absolutely a step in the right direction, and it allows everyone to see how the Indonesian viruses are evolving genetically,” Webby said. “Unfortunately, however, our ability to accurately predict antigenic and biologic properties from sequence data alone is embarrassingly poor. So, no, it [providing genetic sequence data] is not as good as sharing viruses.”Webby added that the most important aspect scientists can determine from a viral isolate that they can’t learn from a sequence is antigenicity—how well a virus will cross-react with antibodies generated against other strains. “Antigenic relatedness, not genetic relatedness, is key to vaccine strain selection,” he said.Also, sequence data alone can’t predict the transmission and pathogenicity changes that researchers depend on to make risk assessments, Webby said.Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, PhD, a virologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, also welcomed the news about Indonesia sharing its viral sequences and voiced a more optimistic view on their usefulness.”Sequences are very important to understand antigenicity, and even if no viruses are shared, provide the basis to make reagents to experimentally test antigenicity and pathogenicity,” he told CIDRAP News. Garcia-Sastre is also principal investigator for the Center for Research on Influenza Pathogenesis, one of six National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance.GISAID launches data-sharing platformThe idea for the GISAID database was generated by a group of 70 scientists and health officials who signed a letter in the August 31, 2006, issue of Nature proposing the formation of a new consortium to promote greater sharing of H5N1 genetic sequences.Aside from concerns about potential social inequities, virus-sharing has been a flashpoint for other controversies, including intellectual property rights and published credits for virus sources in scientific papers.Supari had earlier signaled Indonesia’s support for the GISAID database when she announced its initial launch in March 2007, according to a Mar 28, 2007, GISAID press release. Her support for the GISAID database followed a technical meeting on the virus-sharing issue that was attended by health ministers of countries that have been hit by the H5N1 virus, GISAID’s statement said.An official with GISAID, who asked not to be named, told CIDRAP News that the database’s platform for sharing H5N1 genetic sequences went live on May 15. The official confirmed that Indonesia has committed to sharing its virus data and is currently uploading its sequences into the GISAID EpiFlu database. China, Russia, and other nations are also in the process of submitting sequences, the GISAID source said.”This global health research community will find that the GISAID platform provides a high standard of data and analysis tools that uniquely promotes responsible sharing of information,” Supari said in the 2007 press release.GISAID said the public can freely access the database, which includes both human and animal H5N1 sequences, after they register and agree to share and credit the use of others’ data, analyze findings jointly, publish results collaboratively, and refrain from pressing intellectual property rights issues that relate to diagnostic, drug, and vaccine developments.When the plan to form GISAID was announced in 2006, one of the global health officials who signed the Nature letter was Dr. Nancy Cox, head of the Influenza Division at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Cox had told CIDRAP News that the GISAID database would be very useful because it would be linked with clinical and epidemiological data.The efforts of Peter Bogner, GISAID director, were instrumental in garnering the support of Supari and other officials, the AP reported. Bogner is a former broadcast executive who became involved in virus-sharing issues after attending a World Economic Forum in Switzerland 2 years ago, the report said.See also:Aug 25, 2006, CIDRAP News story “Scientists launch effort to share avian flu data”GISAID Web sitehttp://www.gisaid.org/WHO World Health Assembly agenda and proceedingslast_img read more

WHO underscores H1N1 risk to young and healthy

first_imgOct 16, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The susceptibility of some young, healthy people to severe illness with pandemic H1N1 influenza marks a striking difference from the pattern of disease seen in seasonal flu epidemics, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.The factors that increase the risk of severe illness in previously healthy people remain unknown, the WHO said in reporting on the results of a 3-day conference on the features of severe H1N1 cases. The meeting involved about 100 clinicians, virologists, and other experts at the Pan American Health Organization headquarters in Washington, DC.The ability of the virus to make young, healthy people dangerously sick has been noted for months, but the WHO put new emphasis on the phenomenon today. At the same time, the agency said pregnant women, children younger than 2 years, and people with chronic lung disease face the greatest risk of severe illness.In a statement, the WHO said the experts confirmed that the vast majority of patients around the world experience an uncomplicated flu-like illness and recover within a week, even without treatment.Patients hard to treat But concern now focuses on “small subsets of patients who rapidly develop very severe progressive pneumonia,” the agency said. “In these patients, severe pneumonia is often associated with failure of other organs, or marked worsening of underlying asthma or chronic obstructive airway disease.”These patients are hard to treat, which suggests that emergency rooms and intensive care units will bear the heaviest burden during the pandemic, the statement said. That conclusion matched the message from several medical journal reports published in the past week on hospitalized H1N1 cases.Primary viral pneumonia is the most common finding in severe cases and often causes death, the WHO said. However, bacterial infections have been found in about 30% of fatal cases—more common than previously recognized.Data from animal studies also show the virus’s ability to cause severe pneumonia. “This virus really likes the lower respiratory tract,” said the WHO’s Dr.Nikki Shindo at a press teleconference today. “That means this virus is likely to cause viral pneumonia.”Physicians who have managed severe cases “agreed that the clinical picture in severe cases is strikingly different from the disease pattern seen during epidemics of seasonal influenza,” the WHO statement said. “While people with certain underlying medical conditions, including pregnancy, are known to be at increased risk, many severe cases occur in previously healthy young people. In these patients, predisposing factors that increase the risk of severe illness are not presently understood, though research is under way.”In a separate pandemic update today, the WHO noted that about a third of intensive care unit patients with H1N1 in Australia and New Zealand had no predisposing conditions. Likewise, Canadian and Mexican researchers who recently reported on severe cases were “impressed” by the number that occurred in previously healthy people, the agency said.The latest US figures suggest that an even higher proportion of patients hit hardest by the virus were previously healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this week that 45% of about 1,400 adult H1N1 patients who were hospitalized had no preexisting health problems.In severe cases, patients usually begin deteriorating about 3 to 5 days after their first symptoms, the WHO statement said. Many of them then slip into respiratory failure, requiring admission to an ICU and ventilatory support. Some patients don’t respond well to conventional ventilatory support, making treatment even harder.Known at-risk groupsOf groups with conditions that raise the risk of severe illness, conference participants agreed that three lead the list: pregnant women, especially in the third trimester; children under the age of 2 years, and people with chronic lung disease, including asthma, the WHO reported.Disadvantaged populations, such as minority groups and indigenous people, also are disproportionately subject to severe disease, the WHO said. The reasons are not clear, but possibilities include lack of access to care and an increased prevalence of conditions like asthma and diabetes.The statement also noted that obesity—especially morbid obesity—has been present in many of the severe H1N1 cases, but its role remains poorly understood.More support for antiviralsOn the brighter side, the meeting pointed up a growing body of evidence that prompt treatment with the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir is helpful, the WHO said.”We have increased evidence that timely antiviral treatment really helps to decrease the severe disease,” said Shindo at the press conference.Where the virus is circulating, clinicians should base antiviral treatment decisions on epidemiologic and clinical findings and not wait for lab test results, she said. “The message for clinicians is, don’t miss this opportunity for early treatment.”Shindo said the WHO has shipped antivirals from its stockpile to 72 countries so far.See also: Oct 16 WHO report on clinical consultationhttp://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/notes/h1n1_clinical_features_20091016/en/index.htmlOct 16 WHO weekly update on pandemichttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2009_10_16/en/index.htmlAug 28 WHO briefing note on lessons from recent outbreakshttp://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/notes/h1n1_second_wave_20090828/en/index.htmllast_img read more

The implementation of IT infrastructure is key to the success of the tourism business

first_imgAs the development of modern technologies changes the ways of doing business and managing organizations from different fields, so the digital transformation in tourism is becoming increasingly important.Tourist facilities, whether hotels or apartments, are paying increasing attention to digital technology and the opportunities it provides. In line with the development of technology, the requirements of guests are also changing. In the past, the most important thing for them was the location of hotels or apartments, and today the most important item when choosing accommodation is the availability of wireless Internet. According to research *, as many as 47% of guests do not want to choose accommodation without an available Wi-Fi network, and the quality and speed of Internet access are also important to them.Given the current indicators of the importance of technology, active cooperation between the IT and tourism sectors is crucial for successful business. One of the world leaders in LAN and WLAN infrastructure – Aruba Networks, with its innovative IT solutions such as the Aruba ClearPass service, seeks to improve the business of tourist facilities and respond to the complex demands of guests. The goal of the cooperation is, with the best possible tourist offer, to provide additional value to guests through the use of digital technology, which will in later stages achieve the loyalty of guests, and thus revenue growth. Aruba Networks offers you superior and fast Wi-Fi connectivity, network protection and personalized content for each guest.Aruba Networks software solutions have been recognized and implemented by the world’s leading hotel chains as well as a wide range of HORECA associations of entrepreneurs. In this context, the implementation of IT technologies in the tourism sector is becoming key to the success of all forms of tourism business as well as the satisfaction of employees in tourism.Find out more about Aruba solutions on the website of a leading regional IT distributor M San Group.* Research: statista.com, cnbc.com, hospitalitynet.orglast_img read more

An invitation to express interest in the implementation of the Sports Croatia project has been announced

first_imgThe 39th session of the CNTB Tourist Council was held at the Ministry of Tourism  Council members announced an invitation to express interest in the implementation of the Sportska Hrvatska project, by which the CNTB plans to establish cooperation with organizers of top sports events in Croatia and top Croatian athletes in order to further promote them in emitting markets. The proposal of the Decision on additional marketing and PR cooperation with the Croatian Tennis Association at the Davis Cup sporting event in Zadar between the Croatian and US tennis teams, which will be held in Zadar from 14 to 16 September 2018, was also presented. Due to the nature of the event itself, which represents the last semifinals of the Davis Cup that is played in Croatia and the last that is played according to the old rules, this event wants to be further promoted through various types of marketing activities, the Ministry of Tourism points out. The project “Sports Croatia” implies special forms of marketing and PR cooperation within top sports projects and events that will positively affect the positioning of Croatia as an attractive year-round tourist destination, as well as strengthening the national tourist brand. The first call for expressions of interest for the implementation of the project “Sports Croatia” was published from 1 to 12 February 2018, and the decision of the Tourist Board approved cooperation on internationally recognized projects and events, including the Tour of Croatia, ATP Croatia Open Umag, Pannonian Challenge, Downhill UCI MTB World Cup, WTA Croatia Bol Open, KHL Medveščak, etc.A new public call for expressions of interest for the implementation of the Sportska Hrvatska project has not yet been published, however HERE you can see the old call, to see roughly what the conditions are. By the way, according to the last public call, the maximum possible contribution of the CNTB was HRK 2.000.000 per individual project / partner.LINK NEWS:FIND OUT HOW SPORTS TOURISM IS DEVELOPING IN MEĐIMURJE, AND IT IS NOT ABOUT FOOTBALLSYNERGY IN SPORTS AND TOURISM: COOPERATION BETWEEN HNK RIJEKA AND UNILINElast_img read more

A package of tourism laws was on the agenda of today’s session of the Parliament

first_imgA package of tourist laws was also on the agenda of today’s session of the Parliament.The most important among them is certainly the proposal Of the Law on Tourist Boards and the Promotion of Croatian Tourism, which needs to be revised not only to implement the measures set out in the Tourism Development Strategy for the period until 2020, but also to increase its overall efficiency, especially at regional and local level, all to ensure preconditions for systematic implementation of destination management.The most important changes in the proposal of the mentioned law concern the establishment of the system of tourist boards according to the model of destination management organizations, in the sense that the tourist system is reorganized through merging and rationalization within the system with the application of the principle of financial self-sufficiency. For several units of local or regional self-government through the allocation of financial resources. Also, the tasks of tourist boards are redefined while respecting the principle of self-sufficiency, in such a way that the tasks of the local tourist board are defined exclusively as operational. , while the tasks of the regional tourist community are focused on operational activities, but with certain strategic elements through four basic groups of tasks: strategic planning and development, tourism system management, information and research, and marketing. The tasks of the CNTB, as a national tourism organization, are primarily focused on marketing and promoting tourism at the national level. Among the important changes contained in the draft law is the amendment limiting the share of members in the assembly to local tourist boards to 30% (instead of 40% so far), all in order to prevent individual entities from having the upper hand in decision-making.Proposal Law on membership fees in tourist boards contains novelties that will simplify the membership fee calculation process, and due to administrative relief and reduction of business costs create a better business environment. In particular, tourist classes are abolished, and consequently membership fee rates will not be determined depending on the tourist class. for the calculation of the membership fee from the current 28 to 5, the obligation to pay the membership fee is deleted for a part of the taxpayer, while the scope of payment of the same is reduced for a part of the taxpayer. Banks are also obliged to pay membership fees. Legal and natural persons operating in assisted areas (groups I-IV) will pay a membership fee reduced by 20%. It is also proposed a different distribution of tourist membership fees in such a way that regional tourist boards instead of the current 10% of the mentioned source of income will receive 15%, while the CNTB will receive 25% instead of the previous 20%. It is anticipated that these measures will relieve the economy of around HRK 11 million annually.Basic changes in the proposal Of the Tourist Tax Act relate to the decentralization of decision-making on the amount of tourist tax. Specifically, the amount of the tourist tax would no longer be determined by the Government of the Republic of Croatia, but by the county assemblies, ie the City Assembly of the City of Zagreb, while the Minister of Tourism would regulate only the minimum and maximum amount of the tourist tax. Among the most important innovations are those concerning the different distribution of tourist tax funds, so that regional tourist boards would receive 10% instead of the current 15%, while the CNTB would receive 25% of the total amount of the tax instead of the current 20%.You can see the whole presentation and discussion below in the attachment.In the meantime, there is no need to worry about it. ”last_img read more