Biocad company to produce Russia’s second coronavirus vaccine

The Biocad company will produce Russia’s second coronavirus vaccine, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov told reporters on Monday.

“Biocad was initially chosen as a partner,” he said, when asked who would produce the second vaccine.

According to the minister, the company was chosen at an early stage, when the vaccine was in the works.

A vaccine developed by the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology Vector is supposed to become Russia’s second coronavirus vaccine.

Chief of the center’s zoonotic infections and influenza department Alexander Ryzhikov said earlier that the first batch of the vaccine might be available in late October or early November.

According to him, Vector expects the vaccine to be registered in October and the third phase of trials to take place afterwards.

On July 24, the center received the Health Ministry’s permission to conduct clinical trials of the vaccine on volunteers. The first volunteer was vaccinated on July 27.

On August 11, Russia became the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine, which was named Sputnik V. The vaccine was developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology and underwent clinical trials in June and July. More than 160 vaccines are currently in the works globally, of which over 30 are being tested on humans.

Header: MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Pictured in this file image dated March 21, 2018, is a laboratory of the Biocad biotechnology company; on March 18, 2020, Biocad announced it had started working on a vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus. File Image/Biocad Press Office/TASS

Source: TASS

Reviving old therapy, Israeli doctors unleash lung radiation against COVID-19

Doctors at Sheba Medical Center outside Tel Aviv are set to give lung radiation to coronavirus patients after the Health Ministry approved a 30-person trial, Israel’s first for the experimental therapy.

The coronavirus pandemic has left doctors worldwide struggling with hard-to-treat lung inflammations the likes of which many haven’t seen before.

Sheba doctors believe that targeted radiation on the lungs may slow inflammation there, and prevent or reduce the effects of the pneumonia that causes many coronavirus deaths. Within days, they will start radiation therapy on the first patients.

“Low-dose radiation is extremely effective in reducing the types of inflammatory cells that invade the lungs of coronavirus patients, prevent them from oxygenating the blood, and cause failure of the systems and possibly death, and I’m hopeful that this will save lives,” Zvi Symon, the director of Sheba’s Radiation Oncology Department and the doctor behind the trial, told The Times of Israel.

“These doses won’t kill the virus itself or change the viral replication rate in the body in any way, but we anticipate they will reduce the severe inflammation in the lung that it induces and it’s this inflammation that causes patients to die from inflammatory failure,” he stressed.

“We have already seen that in animal models low-dose radiation has a broad range of anti-inflammatory effects,” Symon added.

He acknowledged that introducing the therapy for COVID-19 was controversial given fears that despite the low dose it could cause cancer, but said he believes the benefits outweigh the risks.

Symon said that the noninvasive procedure could have major benefits for the most frail coronavirus patients, who don’t fare well with intubation and other invasive procedures.

“I believe this intervention is much more mild than an intensive-care intervention, and could really help elderly people who are seen as too frail for intensive care,” he said. “If we assess early on in the disease that they are deteriorating and give radiation therapy, we have a good chance of saving some lives.”

Several hospitals internationally are experimenting with low-dose radiation therapy, known as LDRT, which currently has a range of uses including preparing cancer patients for the transplant of their own bone marrow, and preventing unwanted bone growth in joints after surgeons operate on fractures.

Doctors from Emory University in Atlanta have already published, on a non-peer reviewed repository, a report on a small 10-patient study of lung radiation for coronavirus patients.

They found that the LDRT patients were discharged after 12 days, compared to 20 days for a control group that didn’t get the therapy, and showed significant improvement after three days rather than 12 for the control group.

The Emory team concluded that its “strong efficacy signals” suggest that potential benefits of LDRT should be further explored, and a team of Spanish researchers has shown similar enthusiasm, writing that the therapy “could modify the immune landscape in the affected lung.”

David Macias, of Hospital Universitario San Roque in Gran Canaria, made the claim writing with two colleagues in the journal Clinical and Translational Radiation Oncology. They argued that as a cost-effective, nontoxic treatment that is available in most hospitals, it could prove valuable.

Symon said that he, and the other radiation enthusiasts, arrived at the idea by listening to doctors who were working decades ago.

“At the beginning of this crisis there were several radiation oncologists who are still alive from 50 to 70 years ago, before the era of randomized phase-three clinical trials and widespread antibiotics, when many people with pneumonia died from respiratory failure,” he said. “There was an effort to treat those people with radiation, and there’s literature on 700 people who received radiation when shortness of breath started to look bad.

“There was a high response rate, but [the treatment] fell out of favor when the death rate from pneumonia was reduced due to antibiotics and anti-microbial therapies,” Symon added.

He acknowledged concerns that it could cause patients to develop cancer in the future, but said the risk was relatively small. He also said that as it will be given to consenting people, normally of very advanced age and facing danger to their lives from the coronavirus, it will be a calculated, reasonable risk.

“Regarding the worry about secondary cancer, you are most likely talking about someone who could die within two weeks or be given another 10 years,” he said.

But the question of risk is causing controversy internationally.

Ralph Weichselbaum, chair of the Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology at the University of Chicago’s medical school, argued that radiation therapy shouldn’t be used or tested in clinical trials, in an article co-authored with academics from Duke; Stanford; and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

They wrote in the journal Radiotherapy and Oncology that while the seriousness of the pandemic “has motivated colleagues to propose clinical trials of low dose radiotherapy for COVID-19 pneumonia with the best of intentions, we believe that based on the available data, the potential risks of such trials outweigh the potential benefits.”

They argued that radiation therapy could end up causing cancer for patients in the future, and wrote that the evidence is currently “not sufficient for exposing COVID-19 patients to the risks of radiation exposure in a clinical trial.”

But a group of seven medical experts, from Italy, New Zealand and the US, disagreed, writing in a response: “With thorough informed consent, it is a reasonable late risk for older patients balanced against a potential reduction in COVID-19 related morbidity or mortality within weeks.”

Source: Nathan Jeffay – TOI

Sheldon Adelson close to buying US ambassador’s residence in Israel

Billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson, a leading Israel advocate, is in “advanced talks” to purchase the official residence of the U.S. ambassador to the Jewish state — another signal that the embassy move to Jerusalem won’t be easily reversed.

The Israeli business daily Globes first reported the nearly completed record deal of the property in Herzliya, nine miles from Tel Aviv. Senior U.S. officials have known for the past three weeks that the deal with Adelson, a casino magnate and major philanthropist to Jewish causes, was close to being signed, according to the report.

The current U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, lives in an official residence in Jerusalem, nearly 50 miles from the property — a commute of more than an hour without rush-hour traffic.

Globes reported that the Trump administration wants to complete the deal before the November elections “to emphasize that the transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a ‘fait accompli.’” The daily cited a statement from the embassy connecting the sale of the property to the embassy move from Tel Aviv.

The 11,000-square-foot villa likely would be demolished and a new home built on the desirable property, which the United States purchased in 1962. The estate was built in the 1960s.

The asking price is 300 million shekels, or $87 million, which limits the pool of potential buyers.

If the embassy gets its asking price, it would exceed the record real estate purchase set in January when Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich bought an estate in central Israel for $64.5 million.

Source: Arutz Sheva

‘Breslovers who visit Uman now are getting beaten up’

Jews visiting the Ukrainian town of Uman are being attacked by locals, with violence spiraling “out of control”, a senior Breslov rabbi in Israel said Monday.

In an interview with Kol Barama radio Monday morning, Rabbi Shalom Arush, who heads the Hut Shel Hesed organization, said that residents of Uman are now systematically targeting Jewish visitors, viewing them as a threat due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Rabbi Arush

“Things have gotten out of control,” said Rabbi Arush. “Right now Uman is closed off, but those Jews who somehow manage to get there are getting beaten by Ukrainian locals who claim that the Jewish visitors are spreading disease.”

Rabbi Arush dismissed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to try to reach a deal with the Ukrainian government to enable some Jews to visit Uman this Rosh Hashanah.

“I only believe in prayer, not in anyone else. The Prime Minister said next to me that there is a compromise plan, but I don’t rely on them at all, they’ve lied again and again in the past.”

Last week, the Ukrainian government announced that it will bar entry to non-citizens starting from September 1st, with the ban running through September 28th, coinciding with the end of the Rosh Hashanah – Yom Kippur holidays, which begin on September 18th and end on the 28th.

In most years, tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims, mostly Breslov Hasidim from Israel, visit Uman during the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays to pray near the grave of Rabbe Nachman, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.

Source: Arutz Sheva

El Al flight lands in UAE after becoming 1st Israeli plane to cross Saudi Arabia

In a historic milestone, an Israeli passenger plane flew through Saudi Arabian airspace Monday on the first direct non-cargo flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

El Al Flight 971, carrying high-level Israeli and US delegations, flew southeast down almost the entire length of Saudi Arabia to reach its destination in Abu Dhabi. It was the first time an Israeli plane was given permission by the kingdom to use its airspace.

The plane brought senior officials from Washington and Jerusalem to the Emirati capital to lay the groundwork for the so-called Abraham Accord between Israel and the UAE, which was brokered by the US and announced earlier this month.

On board were US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien as well as Israel’s National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat, among others.

By crossing Saudi airspace, the Boeing 737-900 jet, from Israel’s national carrier fleet, was able to shave nearly four hours off the flight time. About 1.5 hours after takeoff from Tel Aviv, the plane buzzed over Riyadh.

From Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to members of his staff on board the flight as it hovered above Riyadh.

In a video message shared to his social media accounts, the prime minister was seen on the phone with members of the Israeli delegation, cheering the “historic day” as he traced his finger over a map of Saudi Arabia and outlined the flight route.

The historic El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi also seemingly strayed from its flight path and entered Oman from the UAE for several minutes before crossing back into the Emirates. The reason for entering Omani airspace was unclear.

Pilot Tal Becker, speaking from the cockpit as the plane readied for takeoff from Tel Aviv, confirmed the route over Saudi Arabia.

“Shalom and welcome on EL AL flight 971 from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi,” Becker told the passengers.

“We are very pleased to host you on this historic inaugural flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi.

“This flight records two significant events in the history of the State of Israel and in the region heralding another step towards regional peace — for the very first time an Israeli-registered aircraft will overfly Saudi Arabia, and, after a nonstop flight from Israel, land in the United Arab Emirates.

“The duration of the flight with the shortened route over Saudi Arabia will be three and a half hours, instead of what would have been approximately eight hours as we fly eastbound,” the pilot explained. “At the end of this historic nonstop flight, the wheels of this aircraft, with the flag of the State of Israel on its tail, will touch down on the runway in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. This will be another significant event in our history, just as El Al was there when peace was signed between Jerusalem, Cairo and Amman.

“We are all excited and look forward to more historic flights that will take us to other capital cities in the region, advancing us all to a more prosperous future,” Becker said.

“Wishing us all salaam, peace and shalom,” he concluded, using the Arabic, English, and Hebrew words.

Since 2018, Saudi Arabia has allowed Air India flights to Israel to use its airspace, but not Israeli airlines, which have to take a long detour via the Red Sea.

Citing unnamed sources, Channel 12 said Saudi Arabia had authorized the use of its airspace after receiving a request from Washington and only agreed to do so because a high-level American delegation is aboard the plane. Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal ties, but are believed to cooperate closely covertly.

The flight number, LY971, was a nod to the UAE’s international calling code. A return flight to Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on Tuesday will be numbered LY972, Israel’s international calling code.

El Al painted a peace logo in Arabic, English and Hebrew on flight 971.

The flight was commissioned and paid for by Israel but organized by the US in coordination with the Israeli government.

During the visit to Abu Dhabi, the joint US and Israeli delegation will take part in “working meetings” of Israeli-UAE teams “on a range of issues ahead of the signing of cooperation agreements in the civil and economic spheres,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Upon landing in Abu Dhabi’s presidential terminal, an official reception was set to be held at the airport. UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash will likely greet the arrivals, officials said.

Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations, in a US-brokered deal that required Israel to suspend its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

The UAE is just the third Arab country to agree to establish official relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. Israeli and American officials have expressed hope that other Gulf Arab countries will soon follow suit, with relations based on mutual commercial and security interests, and their shared enmity toward Iran.

Paving the way for the visit, the president of the UAE on Saturday issued a decree abolishing a 48-year-old law that had boycotted Israel, thereby allowing trade and financial agreements between the two nations.

Header: An El Al plane seen on a flight tracking website as it makes the first commercial flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, by crossing Saudi Arabian airspace, on August 31, 2020. (screen capture: FlightRadar24)

Source: TOI

Israeli plane set to land in Abu Dhabi after maiden flight over Saudi Arabia

The historic El Al flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi has seemingly strayed from its flight path and entered Oman from the UAE for several minutes before crossing back into the Emirates.

It is unclear if the plane is making an unscheduled stop, or if perhaps the deviation was for diplomatic reasons to show off warming ties with Muscat.

The El Al flight has turned toward Abu Dhabi (or Dubai?) after appearing to make another pass over Oman.

Ynet reporter and plane watcher Itay Blumenthal writes on Twitter that the plane did not actually cross into Oman’s airspace.

Explosions near UAE airport ahead of US-Israeli delegations’ visit

At least one person is dead and several more injured following a pair of explosions in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the arrival of delegations from Israel and the US.

One explosion was reported near the Abu Dhabi International Airport, where the flight carrying the US and Israeli delegations is set to touch down Monday afternoon.

A second explosion was reported in Dubai, when a gas cylinder exploded.

The Dubai explosion destroyed a restaurant and killed one person.

The Abu Dhabi explosion destroyed two restaurants, identified as a Hardees and a KFC, both of which are located on Rashid bin Saeed Street, known as “airport road” near Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Several other businesses were damaged in the explosion.

Authorities say the Abu Dhabi explosion injured several people, who are in moderate and light condition.

Residents of nearby buildings have been evacuated.

Source: Arutz Sheva

Israeli NSC Chief ‘excited and proud’ to represent Israel in UAE

The Israeli and American delegations to the United Arab Emirates departed Monday this morning for Abu Dhabi for talks ahead of the establishment of the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The Israeli delegation is led by National Security Advisor and head of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat. The American delegation is led by Senior US Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner and US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

“I am excited and proud to head the Israeli delegation to the talks in Abu Dhabi,” said Meir Ben-Shabbat.

“We are leaving today for talks pursuant to the declaration by the three leaders – President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed – on the establishment of peaceful relations. Our goal is to achieve a joint working plan to advance relations in a very broad range of areas: Tourism, aviation, innovation, science, technology, health, economic matters and many others. This morning, the traditional blessing ‘go in peace’ receives special meaning for us. Thank you very much to everyone.”

Header: The flight crew from LY 971

Source: Arutz Sheva

PM: Delegation to UAE to deal with civilian issues; security talks to come later

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied on Sunday that Israeli defense officials had been removed from a delegation set to arrive in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, saying he and Defense Minister Benny Gantz agreed that defense-related talks between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi would be held at a later date.

“It was decided that the Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates, which will leave on Monday, will discuss civilian issues. Additional issues, including security matters, will be discussed later,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

According to the Walla news site, defense officials, including representatives of every security and intelligence agency, were originally supposed to fly Monday but will instead travel to the UAE within the next two weeks for separate talks on security aspects of the normalization agreement between the two countries.

The security delegation is to be headed by director-general of the Defense Ministry Amir Eshel, a former air force commander.

The report said that the decision to separate the talks into two sections — civilian-economic, and security — was made jointly by Israel, the United States and the UAE.

Netanyahu’s office had said last week the talks in Abu Dhabi would focus on a number of ways to promote collaboration in multiple fields, including security.

The prime minister’s statement came against a backdrop of continued coalition infighting as Netanyahu and Gantz’s parties remain deeply at odds on several issues.

The announcement came just ahead of the first commercial flight between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, scheduled for Monday, which will carry American and Israeli delegations to Abu Dhabi after the two countries agreed to normalize relations.

The flight, an Israeli El Al airliner, will carry a US delegation headed by US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, as well as special envoy for international negotiations Avi Berkowitz.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the Israeli delegation aboard the August 31 flight would be led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.

According to Army Radio, a preparatory team from Israel arrived in the UAE on Friday ahead of the formal delegation.

The president of the United Arab Emirates on Saturday issued a decree abolishing a law that had boycotted Israel and allowing trade and financial agreements between the two nations.

The state-run WAM news agency said the move formally ending the boycott came on the orders of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and the Emirates’ leader.

WAM said the new decree allows Israelis and Israeli firms to do business in the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula. It also allows for the purchase and trade of Israeli goods.

“The decree of the new law comes within the UAE’s efforts to expand diplomatic and commercial cooperation with Israel,” WAM said. It lays out “a roadmap toward launching joint cooperation, leading to bilateral relations by stimulating economic growth and promoting technological innovation.”

Some Israeli firms had already signed deals with Emirati counterparts. But the repeal of the law widens the likelihood of other joint ventures, such as in aviation, banking, and finance.

The decree formally eliminates a 1972 law on the books since just after the UAE’s formation. That law mirrored the widely held stance by Arab nations at that time that recognition of Israel would only come after the Palestinians had an independent state of their own.

Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations, in a US-brokered deal that also required Israel to suspend its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

The UAE is just the third Arab country to agree to official relations with Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. Israeli and American officials have expressed hope that other Gulf Arab countries will soon follow suit, with relations based on mutual commercial and security interests, and their shared enmity toward Iran.

Header: A peace logo in Arabic, English and Hebrew is painted on El Al flight 971 on August 30, 2020 ahead of its maiden direct flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi (El Al spokesperson)

Source: TOI

IDF troops accused of firing tear gas into Palestinian hospital

Employees at a Palestinian medical center in Hebron accused the Israeli military of firing a tear gas canister into the hospital Sunday morning, briefly choking some two dozen patients and doctors on noxious fumes, .

The alleged incident at Princess Alia Governmental Hospital came as Israeli troops were dealing with unrest in the divided West Bank city, according to the military.

“Between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m., we were caught off guard by a tear gas canister which suddenly landed in our coronavirus and internal medicine wards,” hospital director Dr. Tariq al-Barbari said in a video statement, adding that the gas quickly spread throughout the hospital.

According to Palestinian Authority official news agency WAFA, about 25 patients and doctors required treatment because of the smoke.

Al-Barbari said that the patients who had choked were in stable condition. But even hours later, the smell of tear gas still clung to the walls and corridors of the hospital in Hebron, al-Barbari said.

The Israel Defense Forces did not deny the reports, saying that they had “no knowledge of what happened inside the hospital.”

A spokesperson for the IDF told The Times of Israel that there was a “public disturbance” close to the hospital and that soldiers had used anti-riot means to disperse the protesters.

“People were choking, choking, all across the hospital, especially in the internal medicine and coronavirus wards,” a hospital employee who declined to be quoted by name told The Times of Israel.

“I don’t know who they were pursuing in the hospital, but how could a patient, a sick person, be someone that you attack in this manner?”the employee said.

The IDF declined to comment on why the soldiers were in the area.

Palestinian media reports indicated that the incident may have been connected to an attempt by Israeli forces to detain a previously released Palestinian security prisoner, Hamdun Taha Abu Sneineh. Israeli soldiers searched his home and his carpentry shop, both close to the hospital.

A week ago, Israeli Border Police allegedly used tear gas inside Al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem, while attempting to disperse a riot outside the hospital. Some of the suspects fled into the hospital, as Israeli security forces deployed throughout the hospital in pursuit.

Around the same time, the emergency room began filling up with gas. Police claimed it was pepper spray fired by one of the suspects.

“All of us started choking from the gas — medical staff, patients in critical condition, everyone in the emergency room,” an al-Makassed hospital official said at the time. “For at least an hour, we weren’t able to do work or do anything while we waited for the effects to wear off.”

A video shot on the scene at al-Makassed hospital clearly showed a canister on the floor in the middle of a haze of gas. According to Israel Police, the canister was a stun grenade rather than a tear gas canister.

Header: Soldiers fire tear gas in Hebron on August 28, 2020. (WAFA)

Source: TOI

‘Intolerable attack on democracy!’ German politicians furious after anti-lockdown protesters try to STORM Reichstag

Many were baffled after footage showed one of the groups of protesters rallying against anti-coronavirus restrictions in the German capital breaking through police cordons with flags and banners and literally trying to take Reichstag by storm. Politicians all across the political spectrum have been left furious at the security lapse, but most of all at the Covid-sceptic protesters.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier slammed the incident as an “intolerable attack on the heart of our democracy” that Germany would “never put up with.”

Interior minister Horst Seehofer branded the participants of the storming attempt “anarchists and extremists,”saying they were misusing their right for the freedom of expression in pursuit of their own goals. Finance Minister Olaf Stolz called on the authorities to “do everything” to prevent anything similar from happening anywhere close to the parliament again.

Secretary General of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party, Paul Ziemiak, suggested that the incident was a good enough reason to review the security concept for all governmental facilities.

The CDU head, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, called the assault a “Nazi propaganda” action, while Alexander Dobrindt, an MP and a member of the CSU – Merkel’s Bavarian allies – rushed to declare the whole affair a deliberate and carefully orchestrated attack organized by “systemic enemies of democracy.”

Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht has demanded the state use its full power against the ‘attackers’: “We must defend ourselves, with the utmost consistency, against these enemies of our democracy,” she said.

What particularly got under the German politicians’s skin was the fact that many of the protesters were brandishing the flags of the German Empire that are popular among the so-called ‘Reich citizens’ – a fringe far-right movement that does not recognize the legitimacy of the modern German state.

However, the “far-right extremists” were certainly not the only group who took part in the improvised assault: people waving modern German flags as well as those of the US and Russia, and even some rainbow and anti-fascist flags could be seen in the crowd as well.

Berlin saw more than 38,000 people hit the streets to voice their discontent over the anti-coronavirus restrictions on Saturday. Large crowds gathered near the Berlin Victory Column in the central Tiergarten Park and near the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

Most of the rallies were peaceful, yet some ended up with scuffles between the demonstrators and the police. Particularly violent clashes broke out near the Russian embassy, where the police scuffled with a 3,000-strong crowd of angry people, which also included the notorious right wing nationalists.

The embassy itself had nothing to do with the incident, although some videos showed a crowd near the embassy chanting “Putin! Putin!” It turns out, appeals to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and the US President, Donald Trump, were made by those protesters believing the two leaders could somehow influence the German government, particularly the policies they criticize.

Some protesters even unfurled large banners reading “Mr. Trump, don’t forget the German patriots!” and “Mr. President, make Germany great again.”

Seven police officers were injured in the clashes and some 200 people were arrested near the embassy alone, according to the head of Berlin’s Interior Ministry, Andreas Geisel. A total of 300 people were detained throughout the day.

Source: RT

OffG at Trafalgar Square

OffG’s Samuel May, aka Admin2, was in London for the Unite for Freedom protest, and shares his experiences and impressions.
It is estimated that approximately 10,000 gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest on 29 August. This may be an underestimate. I perched atop a portacabin to gain the footage of the turnout you see here, and later joined the march to Downing Street.

The most notable thing was the huge diversity of those attending. So many different ethnicities. So much varying dress sense, hinting at so many varied backgrounds.

Middle-aged, middle-class women who looked like they’d never attended a rally in their lives. Festival-wear-clad individuals with long hair, who looked like they probably had. Burly, vocal, tattooed gentlemen and professional-looking types. People old and young, although I would say young people were underrepresented at this demonstration.

The atmosphere was peaceful and welcoming. The sense of relief at being amongst a crowd of similarly-minded people, of feeling some safety in numbers for a brief and rare time, was visible on the faces of all those around.

The tone of the crowd, frequently chanting ‘Shame on you’ at police and establishment figures, was passionate and angry, but not at all violent. There was no hint of violence throughout the protest, reflected in the very low number of police arrests. I think it was two, including a gentleman in his 70s.

(Footage of the crowd at the Unite for Freedom protest in London on August 29th.)

The emphasis was that ‘we are the 99%’, and that ‘authority’ is only imbued with the power we, the people, choose to imbue it with.

Police presence in Trafalgar Square was minimal overall. The number of officers were gradually stepped up at the start, however many of these officers were withdrawn quite suddenly a bit later and didn’t return. Perhaps a decision not to intervene was reached.

Unfortunately police helicopters hovering overhead drowned out some of what was said by the speakers, from my position set some way back from the stage. However the speakers were all passionate and brave.

David Icke had real focus and the crowds responded well to him. His message was that the covid agenda is a distraction to take away our basic human rights, used by powerful people, and we need to stop this from happening. ‘You are being lied to’ he emphasised. He didn’t stray far off this topic and steered clear of more ‘out there’ theories. He’s been extremely strong on this issue from the start. He spoke passionately and well.

Kate Shemirani acted as a sort of MC, linking together the different speakers, and had plenty of valuable things to say.

Unfortunately I missed Dolores Cahill speaking and Vernon Coleman’s prerecorded address, but I managed to watch them later here and here. Both extremely powerful in their own contrasting ways.

Dr Kevin Corbett, former nurse, also spoke excellently, and raised some amazing points. Doctor Adil sounded like he was making a lot of sense, although he spoke quietly and much of what he said was drowned out by the helicopter rotors.

Chico really got the energy up with some splendid lyrical writing. Senator Dr Scott Jensen, via audio uplink, spoke strongly for a time, but a technical hitch seemed to cut his bit short quite quickly.


Do I have any reservations? Yes, a few.

I work in theatre (well worked, until lockdown closed them all). If this was a theatre show I’d probably describe the actors as brilliant, but criticise the Director for lack of discipline in keeping the narrative spare and true.

I think keeping a narrow focus on the issue is important at the moment and unfortunately some of the speakers raised points that were irrelevant or self-contradictory or just pure speculation.

I heard declarations from Piers Corbyn and others that the virus wasn’t real or is virtually harmless juxtaposed with claims it’s actually caused by 5G and is part of a bid to kill us all. Well, which is it? Because it can’t be both.

Kate Shemirani also diverted at some length into how flu vaccines actually alter us genetically (turning us into ‘trans-humans’), the dangers of fluoride, as well as stating that the biggest killer of black people in America is abortion under the Planned Parenthood initiative.

Institutional paedophilia and Qanon-related theories were mentioned by Chico and other speakers.

One speaker also publicly shamed an individual for wearing a mask during the rally – which is of course exactly the type of intolerance we are opposing. The point is, surely, people must be free to choose – and if that means they want to wear a mask then they should be free to do so without being pilloried.

OffG has tended to avoid giving too much space to claims that Covid19 is caused by or linked to 5g. For much the same reasons I myself don’t conflate the two. I haven’t seen any substantial evidence to link the two issues, medically or otherwise.

I may be wrong, and I am open to correction, but since I don’t feel the covid statistics require an exotic explanation, and since it’s the ‘pandemic’ and subsequent measures that are the most immediate threat (as opposed to wider health/surveillance implications), I don’t believe 5g has a useful place in any anti-covid campaign, at this time. Likewise, Qanon stuff is not directly relevant.

Why blur the picture? Public perception of 5g skepticism is largely one of ridicule, so why risk discrediting a movement by bolting on this 5g side-issue? Why lend credence to the mainstream claim that SARSCOV2 is unique and dangerous and requires some exotic explanation, when all the evidence suggests it isn’t either of these things?

What I mean is, maybe Piers Corbyn et al would be better off organising a 5G demonstration, and leaving it out of this issue.

For the first time there is a real chance to reach many more people, to inform them that the facts about covid are being distorted, to encourage people to question and inform themselves.

In order to pay respect to the many whistleblowers who have put their careers in danger – and encourage the doubtless many more waiting in the wings – surely we have a duty to fight one battle at a time and keep it simple?

Why not stick to the basic fact that SARSCOV2 is demonstrated to be a largely harmless coronavirus, and encourage people to join us as opposed to seed divisiveness from the word go and risk alienating the very people we dearly wish to reach?


These are my reservations, but they shouldn’t take anything away from the positive message this day of protest sends to all of us. Despite the avalanche of propaganda urging conformity, many, many people turned up – in London, Berlin and elsewhere – to express their refusal to be coerced and cowed into silence.

The strongest speakers stuck to a very clear message, a call to arms for people to question, question, question and oppose draconian social policy.

This was a terrific thing. And we should all take a positive message from it. Huge credit is due to the speakers, the organisers and all those who helped spread the word.

Original: Sam May – OFF GUARDIAN

How worried should we be about the coronavirus resurgence in Europe? Three experts comment

Coronavirus is back in large numbers across Europe. Since governments began to lift lockdowns at the start of the European summer, positive cases of COVID-19 have been steadily increasing in countries that previously had the spread of the disease under control, including Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

In recent days, France has recorded its highest daily tally of the new cases since the height of the pandemic in April, while Spain faces the continent’s most significant resurgence in infections.

In the UK, certain areas have been placed into local lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus, as schools begin to reopen across its four countries, though the government says rates remain flat outside the locked down hotspots.

Most epidemiologists are reluctant to call this rise in cases a “second wave”, arguing that it is too early to say what is happening.

It appears that at least some of the rise is concentrated among younger people and asymptomatic cases, and we don’t yet know why death rates are not climbing at the same rates as positive diagnoses.

Countries are not yet seeing hospitals or healthcare facilities overwhelmed, as they were at the start of the pandemic.

So how worried should Europeans be about this resurgence in infections? The Conversation asked experts in Spain, France and the UK what these numbers mean, and how health authorities should respond.


Dominique Costagliola, Epidemiologist and Biostatistician, Inserm

In France, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 253,587 positive cases have been confirmed at the time of writing, causing the deaths of 30,544 people. At the end of February, the situation became epidemic, leading the government to decree general lockdown on March 17. This sweeping measure broke the chains of transmission, limiting the virus’s flow and “reset” the epidemic.

With the summer, positive cases have increased again: since mid-July, we have observed an increase in daily confirmed positive cases – 5,429 new cases were detected between August 25 and 26.

It doesn’t make much sense to compare these numbers with the numbers from March, because the situation is very different when it comes to testing. At the time, only patients with severe symptoms were screened, which is no longer the case. In spring, the number of actual cases was therefore much higher than those recorded. Especially since recent work showed that in May, only one in ten symptomatic cases was detected in France, due to a screening program that was too limited and too slow.

Though the situation has improved today, it is still difficult to know how much the epidemic is being underestimated. But one thing is certain: the number of cases is increasing more than the number of tests.

In France, since July 20, anyone aged 11 and over must wear a general public mask in closed public places, including in schools. The main problem is that this obligation mainly concerns places open to the public. Wearing a mask should be compulsory in all enclosed spaces, whatever they are, as long as they cannot be ventilated.

It should also be taken into account that the virus is spread by aerosol, in addition to large water droplets. The measurements will therefore differ depending on whether premises are air-conditioned or not, and if so, whether this is by recirculating air or by external air intake. Outside, the risk is probably lower, but preventive measures can still help to limit the spread of the virus, in particular by minimising how much we are touching our masks – for example, putting one on to enter a store, then removing it – which can also be a source of potential contamination.

One thing is certain: herd immunity, which would slow the circulation of the virus, will be very difficult to achieve. In a population where the virus circulates equally, it takes 60 to 70% of people to be infected and develop neutralising antibodies to reach herd immunity. Certainly, if the circulation is less homogeneous, as in the case of the coronavirus, which seems to circulate at “low noise” until a super-spreader event occurs, this rate may be lower.

It would be dangerous to let the virus circulate in certain groups, such as young people, in the hope of achieving herd immunity more quickly. Populations are not separated from one another: if the epidemic spreads in one group, others will be gradually affected, whether we like it or not.

This can be seen in what happened in Florida. For two to three weeks we saw the diagnosed cases increase, but mainly among young people. Hospitalisations and intensive care patients did not initially increase – these indicators do not start to move until three to six weeks later. If France also waits to take action, it will be too late, and we risk losing control of the epidemic.

While waiting for a real treatment or a vaccine, the only way to avoid a runaway epidemic is therefore to manage the circulation of the virus at an acceptable level, using widespread, rapid screening and monitoring of contacts, as well as respect for social distancing measures. This balance is not easy to maintain, but it is our only option for the months to come.


Ignacio López-Goñi, Professor of Microbiology, University of Navarra

In the worst moments of the pandemic – between the end of March and the beginning of April – more than 900 deaths per day were registered from COVID-19 in Spain.

Strict confinement measures reduced the number of cases (defined as a positive result in a PCR test) to a minimum of a few hundred daily in mid-June. However, in recent weeks, Spain has reported a significant increase in the number of daily cases.

Assessing the situation is complex if we consider the difficulty of monitoring the data. For starters, there is no consensus on COVID-19 case definition between countries. In addition, there are incomprehensible data discrepancies between Spain’s autonomous communities and the federal ministry. It is thus proving very difficult to find updated data on the number of hospitalised cases and deaths, which are the most important figures we need to interpret the situation.

It is not possible to compare the situation in April with that of today. Back then, Spain performed few PCRs, which were intended only to confirm the diagnosis in symptomatic, hospitalised and severe cases. For this reason, only the tip of the iceberg was detected. Now, however, detection protocols have been tightened and all close contacts of each new positive case are subjected to testing, regardless of whether or not they develop symptoms. Since thousands of PCRs are being done, we can now detect the submerged part of the iceberg.

The detection of isolated outbreaks from asymptomatic cases at this time does not seem alarming. In fact, it is something that could be expected considering that we have been confined for three months and that only a small percentage of the Spanish population came into contact with the virus during that time. But although the situation is not alarming, the trend can be described as very worrying, given the fact that new outbreaks are detected every week.

On one hand, it is reassuring to think that, at the moment, the virus appears to be relatively stable and is not accumulating mutations that affect its virulence – more deadly second waves in some influenza pandemics were associated with genetic changes in the virus.

But what is disturbing is that we are facing a new virus for which, in principle, the population does not present immunity. That could favour the appearance of a new wave. What we cannot rule out is that some of the outbreaks that are detected now end up getting out of control and causing bigger problems. Hence, the importance of strengthening control.

On the part of individuals, this is about preventing contagion at all costs with masks, social distancing and good hygiene, in addition to trying to avoid crowded, indoor spaces where many people are close together for a long time.

As for the health authorities, they have no choice but to take the lead. The virus does not care if we call this an outbreak, a flare-up or a second wave. The virus does not recognise our internal or external borders. We need coordination, tracking, quarantine and isolation, and the strengthening of our primary care system. And we must by all means necessary avoid the virus reaching our hospitals again.

Regardless of whether there is a second wave, adding SARS-CoV-2 to the list of viruses and bacteria that cause respiratory infections during the winter could be a very serious problem. Since no vaccine will be available this winter, we must prepare for the worst.


Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in Mathematical Modelling, UCL; Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at The Queen’s College, Oxford University

In the UK, 327,798 people had tested positive for coronavirus and there had been 41,449 deaths associated with COVID-19 as of August 26. It has been reported that England has had the longest period of excess mortality of any country during the pandemic. While the disease struck earlier in continental Europe, it has hit the UK very hard ever since it arrived. Still, the UK is not currently seeing a rise in cases to the extent of France and Spain.

As a result of the lockdown and reduced number of the physical contacts which drive infections, the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths started to decline after peaking in April, reducing the R number, which indicates how many people someone with the disease will go on to infect, to below one. As a consequence, phased release of lockdown measures started with partial reopening of society from June. However, daily confirmed numbers started to creep up again in July. Current estimates suggest that it is uncertain that the national R is actually below one, the threshold for keeping the epidemic in check, with regional and local variations.

With these recently reported rises in the daily number of cases and localised outbreaks, further easing of the lockdown measures in England was postponed on July 31. Instead, the government made the use of face coverings mandatory in more public places.

Rising case numbers could mean three different things. First, it is possible that this is a second wave of COVID-19. Second, it could mean that the disease is spreading in clusters as localised outbreaks.

Or, third, the rising numbers may show that relaxing lockdown restrictions has ended the suppression of what the WHO has called one big COVID-19 wave that will oscillate over time.

It’s currently too early to say which of these scenarios the UK is facing.

A second wave in the UK would imply a large surge in the epidemic metrics, such as the number of new infections, hospitalisations or deaths associated with coronavirus. It is worth keeping in mind that additional waves have characterised all of the last four pandemics – the 1918 Spanish flu, the 1957-8 Asian flu, the 1967-8 Hong Kong flu and the 2009 swine flu – so this is very much a possibility.

Notably, although we have seen a rise in the number of new cases in the UK, the number of deaths and hospitalisations associated with COVID-19 has not increased. This may be because the recent increase in the number of new cases is partly being seen in younger people, which is different to the onset of the epidemic when the biggest COVID-19 burden was in elderly people, who are at greatest risk of hospitalisation and of dying from the disease. The UK has also increased its testing capacity since the onset of the epidemic, which is bound to bring up the number of confirmed cases.

These questions are made more urgent by the fact that schools have reopened in Scotland, and will reopen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on September 1. This is the first real step towards a wider reopening of society, which will allow parents to go back to work and for wider mixing among the community.

My recent modelling work suggests that we can avoid a second wave associated with reopening schools, alongside reopening society, if enough people with symptomatic infection can be tested and their contacts traced and effectively isolated. An effective test-trace-isolate strategy could also work if, instead of facing a large second wave, we are faced with smaller local outbreaks come September.

Whatever the rising number of cases means, the ability to test more people as soon as symptoms appear, effectively trace their contracts, and isolate those who have been diagnosed or show symptoms is imperative for future control of COVID-19 in the UK while we await an effective vaccine.

Header: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Original: Dominique Costagliola, Ignacio López-Goñi, Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths –  The Conversation

Thousands of people protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa

Several thousand people have taken to the streets to protest against coronavirus-related restriction near the parliamentary complex in downtown Ottawa.

The protesters demand the Canadian authorities to cancel all coronavirus-related restrictions, arguing that they not only limit the people’s freedom, but also hurt the national economy.

“Restrictions in Canada have been in effect since early March: the borders are closed, millions have lost their jobs and are dependent on state allowances; many small businesses have closed and will never be open again, because their employees simply won’t go back to work: some are simply fine with the allowances [about CA$2,000 per month], while others are intimidated by the media,” one protester told a TASS reporter.

According to her, several thousand people take part in the protest.

“We began gathering at the Parliament at 14:00 [Ottawa time], and the rally will end on 18:00. People come and go, but there are still a lot of us, there are thousands of people,” the protester added.

So far, the protest has gone peacefully. The protesters try no unlawful actions.

Demonstrators in downtown Ottawa were joined by supporters from outside the city, including a convoy of protesters travelling from Quebec. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

A regime of harsh quarantine restrictions was in effect in Canada this spring; since May, the restrictions have been gradually withdrawn. Currently, public places in the country are open, but visitors are obliged to wear masks and observe social distancing. Canadian borders will remain closed at least until September 30.

The first COVID-19 case in Canada was registered on January 15. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 127,000 people have contracted the disease, 113,500 of them have recovered, while 9,100 people died.

Header: A demonstrator holds her sign during a protest against measures to stop transmission of COVID-19 on Parliament hill in Ottawa, Sat., Aug. 29, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Source: TASS

Israeli cabinet votes to extend state of emergency to November

The Israeli Cabinet voted Sunday via a conference call to extend the declaration of a state of emergency due to the coronavirus.

In light of the upcoming expiry on 6 September of the current of a state of emergency, declared earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister’s Office said, “and given the fact that there is still a tangible risk that the virus could spread extensively and harm public health, which require continued actions pursuant to the authority set forth in law, it was decided to ask the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee to approve extending the validity of the declaration of a state of emergency due to the coronavirus by 60 days, from 7 September to 6 November 2020,” the PMO statement read in part.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Knesset passed a series of laws empowering the government to impose temporary regulations during the state of emergency, without prior Knesset approval.

The Knesset still has the power to review the emergency regulations and either approve or nullify them.

Source: Arutz Sheva

New study: Israel to reach herd immunity in 2 weeks

A new study conducted by Prof. Mark Last of Ben-Gurion University states that in the next two weeks the State of Israel will reach a state of ‘herd immunity’ against the coronavirus.

‘Herd immunity’ is a scenario in which the percentage of a population which has already contracted and recovered from a viral disease is so high that the rate of new infections drops as more and more people become immune to the disease, eventually reaching near-zero.

Prof. Last’s findings support the steps taken by Coronavirus Czar Prof. Roni Gamzu, who announced a series of possible measures to reduce the spread of the virus in Israel.

According to Prof. Last: “The State of Israel must preserve the existing situation in order to reduce the number of those infected in the country as soon as possible. There is no need to have a total lockdown as we will see a trend of declining cases in the near future. However, if there are large gatherings during the High Holidays, then we may see a new outbreak of the virus.

Source: Arutz Sheva