Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Trial results show abandoned University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine would have been ‘among best in world’

Clinical trial results show the aborted University of Queensland COVID-19 vaccine would have been among the best in the world, generating an immune response in 99 per cent of patients it was tested on.

The findings of the phase one safety study, reported today in British medical journal The Lancet, underline the opportunity lost when the development program was abandoned four months ago due to a glitch with the vaccine formula.

Sixty seven of the 68 people who received two doses of the promising immuniser produced a “neutralising immune response” to the virus, the study found.

“It means the vaccine basically worked in everybody … to induce the type of immune response we were looking for,” says one of the lead scientists in the UQ team, Trent Munro. “So that is not only just to make antibodies, but to make antibodies that are effective in killing the virus.”

While the phase one human trial was designed to prove only that the vaccine was safe to give to people, Professor Munro said the result was “fantastic, as good as we could have expected”.

The federal government had ordered 51 million doses of the Australian-made jab before the program was abandoned last December after a sliver of HIV protein used to anchor the “molecular clamp” technology was found to produce false-positive readings to the AIDS virus.

This was purely a matter of “diagnostic interference”, Professor Munro said. There was no possibility of infection or health implications from the false-positive, confirmed by the phase one trial.

“Of course we are disappointed this didn’t go further but … we understand the rationale for that and the complexity around creating diagnostic interference for a disease like HIV-AIDS,” he told The Australian.

“Plus we are seeing all the issues with vaccine hesitancy at the moment, and we wouldn’t have wanted to contribute to that in any way, shape or form.”

The Lancet paper, collectively authored by 28 of the Australian scientists, including Professor Munro, involved in the effort to develop the vaccine and get it to the point of being manufactured by CSL, shows how near it was to becoming a reality. The program collapsed on the cusp of the human testing that began with the phase one study of a pool of 314 volunteers in Brisbane graduating to a phase two-three trial of tens of thousands worldwide.

Participants aged 18-55 were given either a placebo or active doses ranging between five micrograms and 45 micrograms. Those in the treatment group generally tolerated the clamp vaccine well, with the most common side effect being pain or tenderness around the injection site. There were no reports after the first dose but one volunteer reported “moderate fever” following a second shot of the five microgram formulation.

“At day 57, 67 (99 per cent) of 68 participants who received two doses of sclamp vaccine at any concentration produced a neutralising immune response, compared with six (25 per cent) of 24 who received a single 45 microgram dose and none of 22 who received placebo,” the scientists reported.

Asked how the UQ vaccine might have compared to the Pfizer and AstraZeneca versions being rolled out in Australia, Professor Munro said: “The reality is we can’t say because we didn’t get our phase two-three data … but in terms of the immune profile this looks like it could have been an effective vaccine. As much as I would like to say what might have been, we just don’t have that (information).”


Apple will let Parler back on the App Store

Apple has approved Parler's return to the iOS app store following improvements the social media company made to better detect and moderate hate speech and incitement, according to a letter the iPhone maker sent to Congress on Monday.

The decision clears the way for Parler, an app popular with conservatives including some members of the far right, to be downloaded once again on Apple devices.

The letter — addressed to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck and obtained by CNN — explained that since the app was removed from Apple's platform in January for violations of its policies, Parler "has proposed updates to its app and the app's content moderation practices."

On April 14, Apple's app review team told Parler that its proposed changes were sufficient, the letter continued. Now, all Parler needs to do is to flip the switch.

"Apple anticipates that the updated Parler app will become available immediately upon Parler releasing it," Apple's letter said.

Apple declined to comment. Parler didn't immediately respond to request for comment.

Parler, an alternative to Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) that bills itself as a haven for free speech, was removed from major tech platforms in early January following the US Capitol riots of Jan. 6.

Parler was kicked off of Apple and Google's app stores, as well as Amazon Web Services, which had been hosting the company's product.

All three tech giants cited the presence of violent speech on Parler as a reason for removal; Parler later said that other vendors also cut ties with the company, effectively shutting the service down and making it inaccessible on the web. For several weeks, visitors to Parler's website were greeted by a static page instead of a functioning social networking app.

The app came back online on Feb. 15, but not before Parler's CEO was terminated by its board. It took another two months for Apple to give its approval restoring Parler to its app store.

In the meantime, Parler is waging a legal battle against Amazon (AMZN), alleging in part that Big Tech companies colluded to restrict Parler's access to the market. In court filings and elsewhere, Parler has said that it had been developing an artificial intelligence-based content moderation system when the larger platforms' crackdown took place.

The tech companies have rejected Parler's accusations of anti-competitive behavior. In Monday's letter, Apple said its decision to remove Parler from its app store was "an independent decision" and that Apple "did not coordinate or otherwise consult with Google or Amazon with respect to that decision."


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Analysis: Scientific Survey Shows Voters Across the Political Spectrum Are Ideologically Deluded, with Trump voters least so

<i>Voters were twice as likely to believe certain progressive myths than conservative ones</i>

During the late 1800s when the renowned scientist Louis Pasteur was trying to overturn the medical community’s deadly belief that germs are not communicable, he wrote: “The greatest aberration of the mind is to believe a thing to be, because we desire it.” The results of a scientific survey conducted just after the 2020 presidential election show that voters from across the political spectrum have failed to heed that warning.

The survey, commissioned by Just Facts, reveals that the vast bulk of voters have embraced false and harmful dogmas that accord with their political views. This is a typical consequence of confirmation bias, the human tendency to reflexively accept anything that accords with one’s preexisting beliefs and ignore or twist everything that defies them.

While most polls measure public opinion, this annual scientific survey measures voters’ perceptions of issues that can have major impacts on their lives. This year’s survey used an entirely new set of questions that addressed the topics of Covid-19, income, poverty, racial disparities, global warming, drug overdoses, life expectancy, pollution, and the national debt.

Some illuminating examples of the misconceptions held by voters with differing political preferences include the following:

76% of Trump voters think that the average income of middle-income households fell during the Obama administration. In reality, their inflation-adjusted average income rose by $5,300 during this period.

88% of Biden voters think that police are more likely to use lethal force when arresting black people than white people. In reality, police are 42% less likely to use lethal force when arresting blacks than whites.

The survey also found that a considerable portion of Trump voters have adopted some progressive fallacies spread by the media. For instance, 38% of Trump voters (and 86% of Biden voters) think that the number of strong-to-violent tornadoes in the U.S. has generally increased since the 1950s. In reality, they have slightly decreased. 

That disconnect between fact and perception accords with numerous reports that link tornadoes and other extreme weather events to global warming, even though such events have occurred at a roughly level pace for as far back in time as reliable data extends. This suggests that progressive powerhouses like media titans, big tech corporations, and educational institutions have enough reach and influence to mislead large numbers of people who are ideologically opposed to falsehoods they propagate.

The survey was comprised of 21 questions posed to U.S. residents who regularly vote. It was conducted just after the 2020 presidential election by Triton Polling & Research, an academic research firm that applied scientific survey methods to optimize accuracy.

Results for All Voters

For each question, voters were offered a selection of two or more answers, one of which was true. Voters also had the opportunity to say they were unsure.

On average, voters gave the correct answer 38% of the time, gave an incorrect answer 51% of the time, and said they were unsure 10% of the time.

A majority of voters gave the correct answer to only 4 of the 21 questions.

Results by Ideology of Falsehood

Among questions in which the wrong answers accorded with partisan agendas, an average of 57% of answers were liberally misinformed, while 28% were conservatively misinformed. In other words, voters were twice as likely to believe certain progressive myths than conservative ones. 

For all 10 of the questions in which the electorate was most deluded, the wrong answers they gave concurred with progressive narratives propagated by the media. Moreover, the false answers they gave were often far removed from reality, not just slightly mistaken. For example, 66% of voters thought that doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour would raise the average income of families in poverty by 25% or more. The real figure is about 1%.

Results by Politics, Age, and Gender

The survey also recorded voters’ ages, genders, and who they voted for in the presidential election. This allows the survey to pinpoint the segments of society that are most and least informed about specific issues. The sample size of third-party voters were too small to produce meaningful data.

The results show deep partisan and demographic divides, with different groups being more or less knowledgeable depending upon the questions.

On average, the rates at which voters gave false answers varied from 61% for Biden voters to 42% for Trump voters. From worst to best, the false answer rates for the various groups are as follows:

61% for Biden voters
56% for 18- to 34-year olds
53% for females
51% for 35- to 64-year olds
51% for 65+ year olds
49% for males
42% for Trump voters


In clinical and real world trials, China’s Sinovac underperforms

The vaccine has already been exported to 19 countries

THE LATEST results for China’s CoronaVac vaccine, developed by Sinovac Biotech, a Beijing-based pharmaceutical company, were disappointing for the aspiring scientific and technological powerhouse. Phase-three trials, which were conducted on health-care workers in Brazil, yielded an efficacy rate of just 50.7% (with a 95% confidence interval of 35.7% to 62.2%), just barely above the 50% threshold set by the World Health Organisation for covid-19 vaccines. The results of a real-world trial released a week earlier were even worse: the vaccine was estimated to be just 49.6% effective (11.3% to 71.4%) against symptomatic covid-19 cases; when asymptomatic infections were included, this figure dropped to a dismal 35.1%.

The Chinese authorities’ reaction did little to boost confidence. After news broke of the discouraging results, Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted at a conference on April 10th that current vaccines “don't have very high rates of protection”, and suggested that vaccines could be mixed to improve efficacy. Mr Gao later backtracked from the comments, claiming that it was “a complete misunderstanding”.


Obnoxious racist targets royal funeral

Jeremy Vine has been blasted for turning Prince Philip's funeral into a 'race issue' by pointing out that all the guests are white.

The Channel 5 TV host, 55, asked a guest on his show whether she thought it was a 'problem' that all 30 attendees would be white at the Windsor Castle service which will be held on Saturday afternoon.

Footage of the exchange has been shared widely on social media, with some people accusing Vine of 'race baiting'.

It follows more than 100,000 complaints being made to the BBC about its amount of coverage on the Duke's death, with another 433 complaints after Andrew Marr compared him to an 'Indian bride', for which he has since apologised.

In the clip, Vine says: 'We are going to see a group of 30 people who are going to be at this very restricted funeral, and I'm imagining it will be 30 people who are white.

'I'm just trying to think whether there's anybody of colour in there and I don't think so. Do you think that's a problem?'

Social media users reacted to the interview, with one saying: 'I am genuinely staggered at this statement from Jeremy Vine. It's pure race baiting.'

Another wrote: 'Jeremy Vine is cancelled'.

A third added: 'What a ghastly thing to say'.

And a fourth posted: 'It's not a problem but let's ask the question anyway so that we can try to turn it into one. How is this not simply race baiting?'


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://snorphty.blogspot.com (TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com/ (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS

http://awesternheart.blogspot.com.au/ (THE PSYCHOLOGIST)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)