Yeshiva World News

NY State Reports Vaccine Shortages And Cancel Appointments

The push to inoculate Americans against the coronavirus is hitting a roadblock: A number of states are reporting they are running out of vaccine, and tens of thousands of people who managed to get appointments for a first dose are seeing them canceled. The full explanation for the apparent mismatch between supply and demand was unclear, but last week the U.S. Health and Human Services Department suggested that states had unrealistic expectations for how much vaccine was on the way. The shortages are coming as states dramatically ramp up their vaccination drives, at the direction of the federal government, to reach people 65 and older, along with other groups deemed essential or at high risk. More than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. have been blamed on the virus. First-grade teacher Karen Stachowiak spent almost five hours on the New York state hot line and website to land an appointment set for Wednesday, only to have it canceled. The Buffalo-area resident and her parents were among several thousand people with canceled appointments in Erie County because of supply problems. “It’s stressful because I was so close. And my other friends that are teachers, they were able to book appointments for last Saturday,” Stachowiak said. “So many people are getting theirs in and then it’s like, ’Nope, I’ve got to wait.’” About half of the 31 million doses distributed to the states by the federal government have been administered so far, though only about 2 million people have received the two doses needed for maximum protection against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Countries across Europe are also having problems getting enough doses to provide protection against a virus that is now appearing in new, more contagious variants around the globe. Pfizer said last week it would temporarily reduce deliveries of its vaccine to Europe and Canada while it upgrades capacity at its plant in Belgium, which supplies all shots delivered outside the United States. In the U.S., Pfizer has a plant in Michigan. In the U.S., some states have suggested they may run out of vaccine by Thursday and are unclear when new doses will arrive. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the city had to cancel 23,000 appointments for people awaiting their first dose this week because of inadequate supply. The mayor, who has been sounding the alarm about vaccine shortages for days, said the situation was compounded by a delay in this week’s delivery of Moderna vaccine to the city. “So we already were feeling the stress of a shortage of the vaccine,” he said. “Now the situation has been made even worse. We need to think differently in this moment.” City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said the 103,400 Moderna doses that were scheduled for delivery Tuesday — 54,200 first doses and 49,200 second doses — were now expected Wednesday and Thursday. Citing a statewide shortage of vaccine, New York City’s police department suspended first-shot vaccinations for its officers. In Florida, local media reported a similar problem in the Miami area, where the Baptist Health care system canceled appointments that had been scheduled for first doses. “I could have blown the top of my head off with steam,” 76-year-old Charlotte Reeve told The Miami Herald. “I’m also a fairly recent widow. […]

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Petira of Rabbi Yehuda Dukes Z”L, Founder of JNet

Rabbi Yehuda Dukes, a beloved husband and father who inspired thousands around the world with his unshakable faith as he battled COVID 19, passed away on Thursday, 8 Shvat, 5781. He was 39. Rabbi Dukes was the founder and director of the JNet organization, who devoted his life to assisting thousands around the world in learning Torah. After he fell ill 9 months ago, his wife, Sarah Dukes, inspired thousands with her strong faith and belief that her husband would survive. Her updates on her husband’s condition and progress were a source of inspiration to many. Last month, Yudi arrived home from the hospital after 8 months of illness, only to be readmitted the next day due to liver failure due to COVID. He passed away today, leaving his wife Sarah and 6 children. He is also survived by his parents, Aaron and Hinda Dukes and siblings. Baruch Dayan Ha’emes. ARTICLE VIA COL (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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France To Reckon With Algeria Colonial Past, Won’t Apologize

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to take further steps to reckon with France’s colonial-era wrongs in Algeria but is not considering an official apology, his office said. A report commissioned by Macron, to be published later Wednesday, submits proposals to improve the complex relationship between the two countries, from opening up war archives to holding commemorations. Macron’s office said there will be “no apologies” but that Macron intends instead to make “symbolic acts” aimed at emphasizing recognition of the harsh colonial reality and helping reconciliation between the two countries. Macron will take part in three commemoration days by next year, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the eight-year war with France that resulted in the North African country gaining independence in 1962 — after 132 years of French rule. France will “pursue and broaden” the opening of its archives on the war as work is under way to allow the release of classified secret documents, Macron’s office added. Amid other actions, Macron wants to honor Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of torture by the French military during the war. He will launch the process aiming at burying her at the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. The first French president to be born after Algerian independence, Macron promised to open a new chapter in France’s relationship with Algeria during his term, including facing the countries’ painful history. In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the death of a dissident in Algeria in 1957, admitting for the first time the military’s systematic use of torture during the war. He commissioned historian Benjamin Stora last year to assess France’s relation with the memory of Algeria’s colonization and the independence war. As a presidential candidate in 2017, Macron called France’s colonization of the North African country a “crime against humanity.” That was welcomed in Algeria but prompted angry reactions in France from the right and the far-right, which Macron might not want to stir up again ahead of 2022 presidential elections. Macron, a centrist elected with votes from the right and the left, has not ruled out the possibility of running for a second term. In his report, Stora noted that the “excesses of a culture of repentance” don’t particularly help with facing the past. “I don’t know if a speech of official apology will be enough to appease wounded memories,” he said. “In my opinion, it is above all important to improve knowledge of what the colonial system was, its daily reality and its ideological goals and how some in Algeria and France have resisted this system of domination.” Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last year that his country was awaiting an official apology for France’s colonial occupation. (AP)

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WATCH: Pelosi Says It’s Not ‘Unifying’ To Forget About Trump Impeachment

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi dismissed critics who say that moving forward with impeachment will undercut the Biden administration’s message of unity. “I don’t think it’s very unifying to say oh, let’s just forget it and move on. That’s not how you unify,” Pelosi said. Pelosi also said it’s the responsibility of Congress to hold Former President Donald Trump accountable for inciting rioters who attacked on the US Capitol. Trump is awaiting his second impeachment trial — Pelosi said she’s discussing the timing with the impeachment managers she named on when the article of impeachment will be sent to the Senate. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

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Frum Family Facing Eviction

We are getting kicked out of our apartment!! Our family will soon be evicted from our apartment because we were not able to pay the rent for over half a year. My husband always worked hard to support us, but when the Coronavirus pandemic arrived, he was no longer able to find work to do and we fell into great financial struggles. The owner sent us threatening letters urging us to pay, but we could not pay. Where would we get the money? Our bank account was empty. CLICK HERE TO DONATE! From the age of 13 I became a yesoma from both of my parents. My husband grew up in a dysfunctional home who do not want a connection with us. We have no relatives who can assist us. We will be forced out of our apartment into the cold street of Yerushalayim with a newborn baby and 5 other children. We live in terrible fear all day long! My brothers and sisters, please soften your heart and donate to our emergency fund so that you can save us from being homeless. With tears and a broken heart, Chaya Liba CLICK HERE TO DONATE!

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“Proud Boy” Organizer Arrested In Florida For Riot At Capitol

Two Florida men, including a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, were arrested Wednesday for taking part in the siege of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, authorities said. Joseph Biggs, 37, was arrested in central Florida and faces charges of obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, entering a restricted on the groups of the U.S. Capitol and disorderly conduct. According to an arrest affidavit, Biggs was part of a crowd on Jan. 6 that overwhelmed Capitol Police officers who were manning a metal barrier on the steps of the Capitol. The mob entered the building as lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden’s election win. Biggs appeared to be wearing a walkie-talkie during the storming of the Capitol, but he told FBI agents that he had no knowledge about the planning of the destructive riot and didn’t know who organized it, the affidavit said. Ahead of the riot, Biggs told followers of his on the social media app Parler to dress in black to resemble the far-left antifa movement, the affidavit said. Biggs had organized a 2019 rally in Portland, Oregon, in which more than 1,000 far-right protesters and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators faced off. The Proud Boys are a neofascist group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies. During a September presidential debate, Trump had urged them to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator. An online court docket did not indicate whether Biggs has an attorney who could comment. Jesus Rivera, 37, also was arrested Wednesday in Pensacola. He faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building, intent to impede government business, disorderly conduct and demonstrating in the Capitol buildings. Rivera uploaded a video to Facebook showing himself in the U.S. Capitol crypt, authorities said. The five-minute video ends with Rivera starting to climb out a window at the Capitol, according to an arrest affidavit. An online court docket also did not list an attorney for Rivera. The cases are being handled by federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia. More than a half-dozen other Floridians have been charged in relation to the Capitol assault. (AP)

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SEE IT: Three Former Presidents Call For Unity, Wish Biden Luck In Video

In a show of unity and bipartisanship, the three former president who attended Wednesday’s inauguration recorded a video while they were at Arlington National Cemetery earlier in the day. Former President Barack Obama kicked off the discussion, noting his pride in watching his former vice president and the first Black, South Asian American and female vice president being sworn into office. Then the group turned to address the day’s theme of unity. “I think that the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country,” said former President George W. Bush. He also called on Americans to love one another the way they’d like to be loved, while former President Bill Clinton said more directly, that “everybody needs to get off their high horse and reach out to their friend and neighbors to try to make it possible.” The three former presidents ended the video by offering some parting words to Biden. “Mr. President, I’m pulling for your success. Your success is our country’s success,” Bush said, paraphrasing a message his father left for Clinton during their transition. And Obama told his former vice president that they’d all be there for him. “Joe, I’m proud of you. And you and Kamala need to know that you’ve got all of us here rooting for your success, keeping you in our prayers, and we will be available in any ways that we can as citizens to help you guide our country forward,” Obama said. “We wish you godspeed.” (AP)

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Trapped Worker Dies As Rescuers Try To Save 21 In China Mine

A worker trapped in a Chinese gold mine for more than a week has died as rescuers try to clear debris and improve ventilation to save 21 others also stuck deep below ground, state media reported Thursday. Rescuers have been in contact with 11 workers trapped in one chamber and have delivered food, medicine and other supplies to them. State media said one of them had suffered a head injury in the initial explosion and lapsed into a coma before dying. Two other workers in that group were described as in poor health. Another was reportedly alive in a nearby chamber, but the fate of another 10 workers remains unknown. The reports said exhaustion has set in among some of the workers since the Jan. 10 explosion ripped through the mine that was under construction in Qixia, a jurisdiction under Yantai in the eastern province of Shandong. Rescuers were attempting to clear cages, skips and other debris blocking the main shaft while drilling other shafts for communication, ventilation and possibly to lift workers to the surface. Boring has reached depths of around 700 meters (about 2,000 feet), the reports said. Mine managers have been detained for waiting more than 24 hours before reporting the accident, the cause of which has not been announced. Increased supervision has improved safety in China’s mining industry, which used to average 5,000 deaths per year. Yet demand for coal and precious metals continues to prompt corner-cutting, and two accidents in Chongqing last year killed 39 miners. (AP)

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$730M Winning Powerball Ticket Sold In Maryland; Mega Millions Rises To $970 Million

There has been a jackpot winner in the $730 million Powerball, the first to get the top prize in months. Thanks to math and bad luck, lottery players had another shot at a giant jackpot Wednesday night with a $730 million Powerball prize was on the line. The winning ticket was sold in Maryland, pushing the new jackpot to an estimated $20 million for the next drawing Saturday. The Powerball jackpot was the fifth-largest ever, and it came only a day after nobody won the even-larger Mega Millions prize, which now stands at $970 million. Winning numbers for Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing were: 40-53-60-68-69 and a Powerball of 22. It was the first time both lottery jackpots topped $700 million. The biggest prize was a $1.58 billion Powerball jackpot won by three people in 2016. No one had won either of the jackpots since mid-September, allowing the prizes to grow steadily for months. Such a long stretch without a winner is rare but also reflects the incredibly small odds of winning — one in 292.2 million for Powerball and one in 302.5 million for Mega Millions. Maryland lottery spokeswoman Carole Gentry said Tuesday night’s Mega Millions drawing saw $260 million in sales, resulting in 36% of all possible number combinations being covered. The prizes listed are for winners who choose an annuity option, paid over 30 years. Most winners opt for cash prizes, which for Mega Millions would be $716.3 million and $546 million for Powerball. Those prizes also would be subject to federal taxes, and most states would take a cut as well. Mega Millions and Powerball are both played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico. (AP)

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WATCH: Emotional Pence Reflects On Past 4 Years, Thanks Trump For Opportunity To Serve As VP

Former Vice President Pence wished new President Biden and Vice President Harris well as he returned to Indiana on Wednesday afternoon, while also expressing gratitude for his time as vice president. “It’s been the greatest honor of my life,” Pence said to a small group of supporters, many of whom he said he’d known for years. “It is great to be home back home again. Thank you for coming out,” he added. “To be able to fly home to my hometown means more than I can tell you… Thank you for your support, thank you for your prayers. We felt them every day.” Pence also thanked his staff, his family, and congratulated Biden and Harris. He then thanked former President Trump, with whom he served for four years. “Let me also take a moment to say thank you to President Donald Trump and Melania for all they have done to make America great again,” he said. “We’ll always be grateful for the opportunity they gave us to serve.” (AP)

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United Airlines Posts $1.9 Billion Loss In Pandemic-Laden 4Q

United Airlines said Wednesday that it finished one of the worst years in its history by losing $1.9 billion in the last three months of 2020, and it predicted more of the same in the first quarter of this year. The loss was wider than analysts expected. The number of U.S. airline passengers had been building slowly since May but was hammered again when COVID-19 cases began surging in the fall, causing health experts to beg people to stay home. United lost $7.1 billion in 2020, an amount exceeded only in 2005, when bankruptcy-related costs pushed the company to a $21 billion loss. Including debt and severance payments, the airline burned through $33 million in cash per day. Revenue plunged 69% in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier. United predicted a similar decrease — between 65% and 70% — in the first quarter of 2021, a slightly more pessimistic view than the one expressed by Delta Air Lines last week. Analysts believe that Americans who have been cooped up since March are eager to travel again once it is safer. But the slow pace of vaccinating Americans against COVID-19 and concern about new variants of the virus are hurting airline bookings. Chicago-based United tried to reassure investors that it is laying the groundwork for a gradual recovery once the coronavirus outbreak is contained. United said that it starting to cut $2 billion in annual structural costs from its operations. At the same time, the airline expressed confidence that crucial business travel will eventually bounce back, although not as quickly as leisure travel. The combination will result in higher profit margins in 2023 than United saw in 2019, before the pandemic, the company predicted. “Aggressively managing the challenges of 2020 depended on our innovation and fast-paced decision making,” CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. “But, the truth is that COVID-19 has changed United Airlines forever.” Peter McNally, an analyst for market-research firm Third Bridge, said United’s revenue forecast for the first quarter “is a little disappointing,” and he wants United to say more precisely when it might stop losing money. On the plus side, he noted that United has raised $26 billion from government and private sources and has nearly $20 billion in liquidity left to survive the pandemic. “They are not running out of money,” McNally said. “There’s one thing we’ve learned from this crisis: The market doesn’t stop giving these airlines money.” Excluding some one-time gains, United said its fourth-quarter loss worked out to $7 per share. That was worse than the $6.62 per share loss predicted, on average, by 19 analysts in a FactSet survey. In the same quarter of 2019, United earned $641 million. Revenue tumbled to $3.41 billion, nearly matching the $3.42 billion that was forecast by analysts. Revenue from international flights plunged 83%, compared with a 72% drop in domestic revenue. About 56% of seats were sold on the average flight in the fourth quarter, and that was after United cut thousands of flights because of weak demand. Cargo was a rare bright spot, with revenue up 77% from a year earlier, but cargo makes up a tiny part of United’s overall business. The company scheduled a conference call with analysts on Thursday. Shares of United Airlines Holdings Inc. rose 1% to […]

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States Report Vaccine Shortages And Cancel Appointments

The push to inoculate Americans against the coronavirus is hitting a roadblock: A number of states are reporting they are running out of vaccine, and tens of thousands of people who managed to get appointments for a first dose are seeing them canceled. Karen Stachowiak, a first-grade teacher in the Buffalo area, spent almost five hours on the state hot line and website to land an appointment for Wednesday, only to be told it was canceled. The Erie County Health Department said it scratched vaccinations for over 8,000 people in the past few days because of inadequate supply. “It’s stressful because I was so close. And my other friends that are teachers, they were able to book appointments for last Saturday,” Stachowiak said. “So many people are getting theirs in, and then it’s like, ’Nope, I’ve got to wait.’” The reason for the apparent mismatch between supply and demand in the U.S. was unclear, but last week the Health and Human Services Department suggested that states had unrealistic expectations for how much vaccine was on the way. In any case, new shipments go out every week, and both the government and the drugmakers have said there are large quantities in the pipeline. The shortages are coming as states dramatically ramp up their vaccination drives, at the federal government’s direction, to reach people 65 and older, along with certain others. More than 400,000 deaths in the U.S. have been blamed on the virus. President Joe Biden, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, immediately came under pressure to fix things. He has made it clear that his administration will take a stronger hand in attacking the crisis, and he vowed to administer 100 million shots in his first 100 days. Less than half of the 36 million doses distributed to the states by the federal government have been administered so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health officials have said the gap could reflect recordkeeping delays as well as disarray and other failings at various levels of government in actually getting shots into arms. In a statement, HHS said that jurisdictions actually received about a 5% increase in vaccine allocations this week from what they got in the past couple of weeks. C ountries across Europe are also having problems getting enough doses to provide protection against a virus that is now appearing in new, more contagious variants around the globe. Pfizer said last week it would temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe and Canada while it upgrades capacity at its plant in Belgium, which supplies all shots delivered outside the United States. Pfizer’s primary site for manufacturing vaccine for the U.S. is in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In the U.S., some states have suggested they may run out by Thursday and are unclear when new doses will arrive. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that the city had to cancel 23,000 appointments for people awaiting their first dose this week. The New York Police Department suspended first-shot vaccinations for its officers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he expects the state to exhaust its supply of vaccine within two or three days for people seeking their first dose. “What’s clear now is we’ll be going from week to week, and you will see a constant pattern of basically […]

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From Pain to Promise: An 18 Year Journey of Hope. BINA Virtual Gala this Sunday

A brain injury can happen to any person of any age at any time. Brain injuries resulting from car accidents, falls, strokes, aneurysms and other neurological conditions can affect every function…the ripple effects on every member of the family are enormous and life-altering.  BINA Stroke and Brain Injury Assistance is there every day for stroke and brain injury survivors of all ages and their families, providing critical guidance and expertise at each stage of the complex rehabilitation process. Thousands of children, adults and seniors who have nowhere else to turn in the aftermath of a devastating brain injury have benefited from BINA’s lifesaving assistance.  This year presented an unprecedented challenge with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countless patients in need of ventilator weaning facilities and many suffering from neurological deficits as a result of the virus turned to BINA for help. BINA’s staff was heavily involved in a range of referrals and collaborated with other organizations to achieve the best possible outcome for every patient.  In the words of the spouse of a stroke survivor, “Since my husband had his stroke, BINA has been with us every step of the way, guiding us through the complex rehab system and doing everything possible to ease this overwhelming journey.” The parent of a young traumatic brain injury survivor attests, “Most people do not understand brain injury unless someone close to them is affected. It is only thanks to BINA’s unbelievably caring and expert approach that we stand where we are today.”  BINA’s Virtual Gala, chaired by Mr. Avi Schron, will take place this Sunday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. The BINA Founders Award will be presented to Aharon and Chavie Glustein in recognition of the 18-year anniversary since they founded BINA. Dr. Cirelle Rosenblatt of Vancouver, a neuropsychologist with an expertise in concussion and member of BINA’s Medical Advisory Board, will receive the Brain Injury Leadership Award. The Excellence in Rehabilitation Award will be given to Mordechai Shedrowitzky, a highly regarded physical therapist and owner of Rehabilitation Associates of Brooklyn.  There is still time to reserve a “seat” at the virtual event and place your journal ad at www.binausa.org/dinner.  Please contact BINA for more information at 718-645-6400 or dinner@binausa.org.

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Turkish Pilots, Official Face 12 Years Jail For Ghosn Flight

Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday sought the maximum possible 12 years in prison each for a Turkish private airline official and two pilots accused of smuggling the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman out of Japan, Turkey’s state news agency reported. In the third hearing in the trial of seven people over Carlos Ghosn’s dramatic escape in 2019, prosecutors also requested that the court acquits two other pilots of the charge of “illegally smuggling a migrant,” Anadolu Agency said. They recommended instead that the two — who flew him from Istanbul to Beirut — be tried on charges of failing to report a crime. Delivering their final opinion on the case, the prosecutors also demanded that charges against two flight attendants be dropped. The trial was adjourned until Feb. 24, when the court in Istanbul could deliver verdicts. Ghosn, 66, who was arrested over financial misconduct allegations in Tokyo in 2018, skipped bail while awaiting trial there. He was flown by pilots Noyan Pasin and Bahri Kutlu Somek from Osaka to Istanbul on a private plane and then transferred onto another plane for Beirut, where he arrived Dec. 30, 2019. He is believed to have been smuggled inside a large, foam-covered music box. All four pilots and two flight attendants have denied involvement in the plans to help Ghosn flee, insisting that they did not know that he was aboard the flights. During the opening hearing, airline official Okan Kosemen claimed he was made aware that Ghosn was on the plane to Istanbul only after it landed. He admitted helping smuggle Ghosn onto the second, Beirut-bound plane, but claimed he was threatened and feared for his family’s safety. Turkish airline company MNG Jet has admitted that two of its planes were used illegally in Ghosn’s escape, flying him to Istanbul, and then to Beirut. The company said its employee had admitted to falsifying flight records so that Ghosn’s name didn’t appear on them. Ghosn, who has French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades. He is wanted on charges of breach of trust in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He has said that he fled because he could not expect a fair trial in Japan. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan. In addition to his trial in Japan, the businessman is facing a number of legal challenges in France, including tax evasion and alleged money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets while at the helm of the Renault-Nissan alliance. (AP)

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Some COVID-19 Mutations May Dampen Vaccine Effectiveness

Scientists are reporting troubling signs that some recent mutations of the virus that causes COVID-19 may modestly curb the effectiveness of two current vaccines, although they stress that the shots still protect against the disease. Researchers expressed concern Wednesday about the preliminary findings, in large part because they suggest that future mutations could undermine vaccines. The research tested coronaviruses from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, and was led by Rockefeller University in New York with scientists from the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere. A different, more limited study out Wednesday gave encouraging news about one vaccine’s protection against some of the mutations. One way vaccines work is to prompt the immune system to make antibodies that block the virus from infecting cells. The Rockefeller researchers got blood samples from 20 people who had received either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and tested their antibodies against various virus mutations in the lab. With some, the antibodies didn’t work as well against the virus — activity was one-to-threefold less, depending on the mutation, said the study leader, Rockefeller’s Dr. Michel Nussenzweig. “It’s a small difference but it is definitely a difference,” he said. The antibody response is “not as good” at blocking the virus. Earlier research established that the two vaccines are about 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 illness. The latest findings were posted late Tuesday on an online website for researchers and have not yet been published in a journal or reviewed by other scientists. Nussenzweig is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also supports science coverage at The Associated Press. The university has applied for a patent related to his work. The coronavirus has been growing more genetically diverse, and scientists say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself. Recent variants, or versions of the virus that emerged in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil seem to spread more easily and scientists say that will lead to more cases, deaths and hospitalizations. The new variants do not seem to cause more serious disease but their ability to eventually undercut vaccines is a concern. E. John Wherry, an immunology expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said the Rockefeller scientists are “among the very best in the world” at this work and their results are concerning. “We don’t want people thinking that the current vaccine is already outdated. That’s absolutely not true,” he said. “There’s still immunity here … a good level of protection,” but the mutations “do in fact reduce how well our immune response is recognizing the virus.” The news comes at “a really important time in the pandemic,” said Dr. Buddy Creech, a vaccine specialist at Vanderbilt University, “We’ve got an arms race between the vaccines and the virus. The slower we roll out vaccine around the world, the more opportunities we give this virus to escape” and develop mutations, he said. Dr. Matthew Woodruff, an immunology researcher at Emory University, agreed. “This is going to be kind of a slow walk of evolution. We’re going to have to have tools that slowly develop with it,” such as treatments that offer combinations of antibodies rather than one, he said. Dr. Drew Weissman, a University of […]

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“Time Ran Out Before Indonesia, Mauritania Reached Deal With Israel,” Trump Officials Say

The Trump administration was close to finalizing deals with Indonesia and Mauritania to be the next Muslim states to normalize ties with Israel but ran out of time before Trump’s term was over, two US officials told The Times of Israel this week. An agreement with Mauritania could have been reached in a matter of weeks, US officials believe. The Northwest African country was selected as a possible candidate for normalizing ties with Israel by Trump’s peace team due to its ties with Israel in the past. In 1999, it became the third member of the Arab League to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, later cutting ties during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, was the next most likely candidate to normalize ties with Israel but reaching a deal would have required another month or two. A senior US official also said that the Trump team was also in “intermediate” talks with Oman and more preliminary talks with Saudi Arabia but admitted that those deals required considerably more time. “I hope the Biden administration takes advantage of this because these are good for everyone,” the official said. “Peace is not a Republican ideal or a Democratic ideal.” “If the US wants to continue to motivate the Abraham Accords, three to four more countries should be the low bar for its success. Being unable to deliver that would be a significant disappointment.” “There’s no doubt that when the US wants to lead toward peace and normalization, more countries will follow,” he concluded. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Iran’s Telecom Minister Appears Before Prosecutor, Released

Iran’s judiciary released the country’s telecom minister on bail Wednesday after he was summoned for prosecution by Iran’s general prosecutor, state TV reported. The state media outlet quoted Jamal Hadian, a spokesman for the telecommunications ministry, as saying Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi appeared before a prosecutor Wednesday, was released and had already returned to his office. The office of the general prosecutor had summoned Jahromi for prosecution over his refusal to block Instagram and other foreign social media messaging systems, according to earlier reports. It was unclear how much bail money Jahromi posted or when he might have to appear again. The move was seen as part of the push and pull between hard-liners and President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate administration ahead of June presidential elections. Jahromi, Iran’s information and communications technology minister, is a possible contender in the election. He worked for the Intelligence Ministry before taking his current position. The Iranian government has long blocked access to many websites and social media platforms, from YouTube and Facebook to Twitter and Telegram. But many Iranians, mostly youth, access them through VPNs and proxies. Instagram and WhatsApp remined unblocked. The prosecutor’s office for Tehran province said later Wednesday that charges were pending against Jahromi but declined to give details saying an investigation was ongoing. The statement added that in the past two years, there have been no new court orders to filter or block social networks. Many hard-liners view the country as fighting a cultural “soft war” against Westernization. (AP)

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Vaccination Nation: Almost 2.5 Million Israelis Received 1st Dose, Almost 700K Received Both Doses

As of Thursday morning, 2,365,000 Israelis have received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and 692,000 received both doses and are fully vaccinated. A record number of over 200,000 people a day were vaccinated in the past two days, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Thursday. About 80% of Israelis over age 60 have been inoculated with at least the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Professor Galia Rahav, director of the Infectious Diseases Unit at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, told Channel 13 News on Wednesday that Israel does not need to restrict its vaccination campaign to targeted groups anymore as there enough vaccines in the country to inoculate the entire adult population. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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Most Mehudar Yissachar-Zevulun Deal

  YERUSHALAYIM • BNEI BRAK • BEIT SHEMESH • BEITAR • LONDON SHAS YIDEN HAS CHANGED THE WAY THE TORAH WORLDVIEWS MASTERING SHAS & KNOWING IT B’AL PEH THE UNIQUE SHAS YIDEN SYSTEM SHOWS RESULTS 160 DAYS MORE LEARNING per year than the average kollel! Learning 7 DAYS/WEEK incl. erev Shabbos & Shabbos, erev Yom Tov & Yom Tov Each avreich completes a A MINIMUM OF 13,555 DAF a year 40 DAF A DAY + RASHI + TOSFOS = 8 daf + 4 chazoras on each Detailed MONTHLY TESTS & farhers on 225 DAF HALF-YEAR TEST & farher on 1350 DAF ANNUAL SHAS TEST & farher on 2711 DAF PUBLIC FARHERS by Gedolei Hatorah (2-3 times a year) The Halacha – The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh De’ah #246 addresses the efficacy of a Yissachar-Zevulun Pact and states: It is considered as if the one supporting the learning learned all the Torah himself. Thus, those who support the Talmidei Chachomim at Shas Yiden, merit a portion in the annual 570,000 daf of Talmud Bavli that they study – a portion both in this world and the next! Click Here For Sponsorship Opportunities    Kolel Shas Yiden is a non-profit 501c3 organization. Tax ID# 27-3228076

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WATCH: HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Approves: Pregnant Women To Get Vaccinated

Israel’s Health Ministry recommended on Tuesday that pregnant women be vaccinated following a rash of cases of pregnant women becoming critically ill after contracting the virus, a phenomenon that health officials believe is linked to the British virus variant. The British variant is rapidly spreading through Israel, particularly in the Chareidi sector. There are currently ten pregnant women – all Chareidi – who are critically ill after contracting the coronavirus. It has been confirmed that at least three of the women, and very possibly more, were carrying the British variant after Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the head of the Health Ministry’s Public Health Division, ordered hospitals to send the ill women’s samples to the Health Ministry’s Central Virology Laboratory for genetic sequencing testing. The Rav of Bnei Brak, HaRav Shevach Tzvi Rosenblatt, asked HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky on Wednesday whether pregnant women should get vaccinated and HaRav Chaim responded that they should and gave a bracha that no harm should result from it. “There is no evidence of harm resulting from vaccination during the entire course of pregnancy,” the Health Ministry stated. “There is a higher incidence of severe illness in pregnant women who contract the coronavirus and become ill than in a similar age population.” In addition to the apparent virulent effect of the British variant on pregnant women, it has also led to an increase of virus cases in young children and teenagers. Furthermore, according to health officials, when a household member becomes infected with the British variant, all members of the household become infected within 48 hours, unlike the original virus, when not all household members necessarily contracted the virus after one member became infected. (YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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