A 33-year-old nurse got long COVID despite being fully vaccinated. Doctors think we may see more of these rare cases.

nurse covid tired
A tired nurse leaves Mt. Sinai Morningside Hospital in New York City on April 23, 2020.

  • Anna Kern, a 33-year-old nurse, got long COVID several months after being fully vaccinated.
  • Doctors are starting to recognize that these cases are possible, even if they’re extremely rare.
  • Kern said she’s struggling to return to work and dealing with extreme fatigue.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Anna Kern got her second vaccine dose five months ago, but it wasn’t a ticket to normalcy. Kern, a 33-year-old nurse practitioner, tested positive for COVID-19 in April and has been struggling with long COVID ever since.

The post-viral illness is characterized by symptoms that last a minimum of three weeks, but can often drag on for months. Kern said her symptoms have gotten steadily worse. At first, she had chills and felt run-down, so she cut back her work hours – Kern had been doing COVID-19 tests in the Detroit area. Then she started experiencing extreme fatigue after minor activities like a walk or jog.

In May, Kern recorded her heart rate while going about her morning routine – eating breakfast, brushing her teeth, washing the dishes. She was at 130 beats per minute, a rate she’d normally only hit through exercise. Symptoms like racing heart and fatigue are commonly reported among people with long COVID, who are also known as “long-haulers.”

By Memorial Day, Kern could barely move after working a shift.

“I remember waking up and knowing that I needed to drink some water and maybe eat some food, but being so tired that I was trying to figure out if I could actually do that,” she said. “I ended up crawling from my bed to my refrigerator.”

She considered asking for more time off, even though she was working remotely. But around the same time, she learned that her nursing position – her main source of income – had been cut.

Anna Kern
Kern in her scrubs.

With her life upended, Kern turned to a long-haul support group in search of others like her. She found a few people who’d also gotten breakthrough infections – cases of COVID-19 diagnosed at least two weeks after someone is fully vaccinated – and still hadn’t recovered. But not many.

For now, there’s no good data to assess how common long-haul cases are post-vaccination, but the chances of getting any breakthrough infection are rare. A May report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that just 1 in 10,000 vaccinated Americans got sick after their shots. And UK researchers estimated last year that long-haul cases can occur in around 10% of people diagnosed with COVID-19.

So the chances of getting long COVID after being fully vaccinated is “a low probability times a low probability,” Bob Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told Insider.

Still, he said, “I’m at the stage now where I’m quite confident it can happen. I really doubt it’s going to turn out to be one in a million.”

‘You feel lots of guilt – like, what did I do wrong?’

Kern’s job put her at high risk of a coronavirus infection before her vaccine, so she donned full protective equipment during her shifts.

Anna Kern
Kern at a nursing home in Detroit.

“Before I went into my apartment, I would like take off my clothes and put my scrubs in a bag and take bleach water and rubbing alcohol and wipe down everything that I was bringing inside,” Kern said. “I wasn’t even taking a coat in April of last year, even though it was kind of chilly, because I didn’t want to have to deal with it afterwards.”

Then she got her first Pfizer shot in December.

“It felt like relief flooding through my body – like, OK, I’ve survived,” Kern said.

But four months later, an unvaccinated coworker got sick. The woman wasn’t diligent about wearing her mask, according to Kern.

Less than a week later, Kern started feeling fatigued. She thinks the vaccine helped prevent a more severe outcome, but she still wonders whether she slipped up somehow.

“You feel lots of guilt – like, what did I do wrong? How could I have been more cautious?” she said.

Of course, no coronavirus vaccine is 100% effective – and even the shots from Moderna and Pfizer appear to be slightly less effective in the face of new variants.

“The chances of a breakthrough infection are real,” Wachter said.

He added that even people who get relatively mild cases post-vaccine can feel crummy for several months – “and maybe for years, we just don’t know.”

Kern said she’s having a hard time trusting that it’s safe to return to normal activities. She worries she won’t be feeling up for work any time soon.

“I have been pretty much working nonstop since COVID started,” she said. “This wouldn’t have been the way that I would have elected to take some time for me to breathe, but it is the way that it’s happening.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

German biotech CureVac’s stock plunges 50% after its COVID-19 vaccine candidate failed a clinical trial

Medical syringes in the mini shopping trolley are seen in front of the CureVac logo displayed on a screen.
  • CureVac lost more than half its value after its COVID-19 vaccine jab showed 47% effectiveness.
  • Results were based on clinical trials conducted in Latin America and Europe on about 40,000 volunteers.
  • The company attributed its results to 29 virus strains in the 10 countries where its trials took place.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

CureVac’s shares tumbled by as much as 50% on Thursday after the German pharmaceutical firm said its COVID-19 vaccine candidate failed in a clinical trial.

Interim analysis of data from about 40,000 volunteers showed the biotech’s jab is only 47% effective, falling short of the study’s criteria and the minimum 50% effectiveness threshold required by US regulators.

Data for the late-stage clinical trials that were conducted in Latin America and Europe was released after the US close on Wednesday. The company, backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, attributed its disappointing results to the fact there are at least 29 COVID-19 strains circulating in the 10 countries where its trials took place.

The Gates foundation owns about 1.7% of CureVac, or 3.1 million shares, according to Bloomberg.

CureVac’s US shares are listed on the Nasdaq and plunged after hours from $94.79 at Wednesday’s close to $49.54 at Thursday’s market open.

The 47% efficacy estimate is based on 134 COVID-cases that occurred at least two weeks after the administration of the second dose, the company said in a statement.

“While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognize that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented broad diversity of variants is challenging,” CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said.

CureVac said last year that it was working with Tesla on a vaccine printer, which Elon Musk reportedly called “an important product for the world.” Musk said in a tweet about the biotech in April that it “sounds like they’re a few months away from regulatory approval.” This tweet was later deleted.

The company will continue trials of its two-dose messenger RNA vaccine and expects to publish final analysis within the next few weeks.

Read More: The Fed has left rates steady while signaling 2 potential hikes by the end of 2023. Here is what to do with your stocks, bonds, and digital assets, according to top Wall Street and crypto investors.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The rise, fall, and comeback of Victoria’s Secret, America’s biggest lingerie retailer

victoria's secret
  • Victoria’s Secret is the largest lingerie retailer in the US, and has been for several decades.
  • It achieved explosive success in the late 1990s and 2000s but has been accused of losing relevance in recent years.
  • The company is currently overhauling its brand image, and has abandoned its Angels for activists and entrepreneurs.
  • Here’s the story of the rise, fall, and subsequent comeback of the brand.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Victoria’s Secret was founded in 1977 by American businessman Roy Raymond.

roy raymond
Roy Raymond (left).

Inspired by an uncomfortable trip to a department store to buy underwear for his wife, Raymond set out to create a place where men would feel comfortable shopping for lingerie. He wanted to create a women’s underwear shop that was targeted at men.  

He named the brand after the Victorian era in England, wanting to evoke the refinement of this period in his lingerie.

Victoria Secret vintage catalog 1982

His vision was summed up by Slate’s Naomi Barr in 2013: “Raymond imagined a Victorian boudoir, replete with dark wood, oriental rugs, and silk drapery. He chose the name ‘Victoria’ to evoke the propriety and respectability associated with the Victorian era; outwardly refined, Victoria’s ‘secrets’ were hidden beneath.”

He went on to open a handful of Victoria’s Secret stores and launched its famous catalog. 

By 1982, the company was making more than $4 million in annual sales, but according to reports, it was nearing bankruptcy at the time. It was at this point that Les Wexner swooped in.

Les Wexner
Les Wexner (center).

Wexner, who founded L Brands (formerly Limited Brands) was already making a name for himself in the retail world as he gradually built up an impressive empire.

By June 1982, Limited — which had previously acquired Express and Lane Bryant — was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. One month later, under Wexner’s leadership, the company acquired Victoria’s Secret’s six stores and its catalog for $1 million. 

Wexner turned Raymond’s vision on its head, creating a store that was focused on women rather than men.

Les Wexner

He was closely following the European lingerie market of that time and wanted to bring this aesthetic to the US. So, he set out to create a more affordable version of European upscale brand “La Perla” — lingerie that looked luxurious and expensive but was affordable.  

And it worked. By the early 1990s, Victoria’s Secret had become the largest lingerie retailer in the US, with 350 stores nationally and sales topping $1 billion.

Victoria's Secret runway show
Victoria’s Secret spring lingerie collection in New York Tuesday, February 6, 1996.

Source: The Telegraph

The brand began to cement its image over the next few years. In 1995, its famous annual fashion show was born.

Ed Razek
Ed Razek.

The show, which was run by Ed Razek (longtime chief marketing officer of L Brands), became an iconic part of the brand’s image. 

Razek and his team were responsible for hand-picking the models to walk the show. Because of this, he became one of the most important people in the modeling world, helping to launch the careers of Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks, and Heidi Klum.

 

In 1999, the show aired for the first time online. Time described it as the “internet-breaking moment” of this era after 1.5 million viewers tried to tune in and crashed the site.

Victoria's Secret
Model Tyra Banks the Victoria’s Secret fashion show Wednesday, Feb. 3, 1999 in New York.

Source: Time

Meanwhile, the brand was also launching some of its best-known and most successful products, including its heavily padded Miracle Bra and Body by Victoria.

Body by Victoria was a “blockbuster success” and more than doubled the sales volume of any other bra that Victoria’s Secret had previously launched, Michael Silverstein wrote in his book, “Trading Up.”

Around this time (1997), the idea of the Victoria’s Secret “Angel” came into play after a commercial featuring Helena Christensen, Karen Mulder, Daniela Peštová, Stephanie Seymour, and Tyra Banks ran to promote its “Angels” underwear collection.

Victoria's Secret old

From then on, the term “Angel” become synonymous with the brand.

Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, its commercials featured heavily made-up and scantily dressed Angels.

Victoria's Secret ad 1997

Razek hired the best photographers and television directors in the world to make commercials for the brand. 

The runway shows became more lavish. In 2000, model Gisele Bündchen walked the runway in what was then the most expensive item of lingerie ever created, a $15 million diamond-and-ruby-encrusted ‘Fantasy Bra.’

Gisele

It’s been tradition for an Angel to wear a “Fantasy Bra” at every runway show since 1996. These change each year.

In 2000, Sharen Jester Turney came on as CEO of Victoria’s Secret Direct, heading up its catalog business.

Sharen Jester Turney

According to reports at the time, Turney wanted to remove the “hooker looks” in the catalog and made the aesthetic more like Vogue than Playboy.

She became CEO of the whole brand in 2006. Under her nine-year tenure, the company thrived; sales increased by 70% to $7.7 billion.

Sharen Jester Turney and VIctoria's Secret models

Source: Business Insider

Turney abruptly stepped down in 2016 and was succeeded by Wexner as interim CEO.

Sharen Turney

Wexner made a series of quick and fast changes: killing the catalog, swimwear, and apparel to focus solely on lingerie, the core part of its business.

He also split the brand into three — Victoria’s Secret Lingerie, Victoria’s Secret Beauty, and Pink — and recruited a CEO for each division.

Jan Singer became CEO of Victoria’s Secret Lingerie in September 2016.

Jan Singer

Between 2015 and 2018, sales began to falter.

Victoria's Secret

Victoria’s Secret was slow to adjust to a shift from padded and push-up bras toward bralettes and sports bras, missing out on a major fashion trend. 

More body-positive underwear brands such as Aerie, ThirdLove, and Lively cropped up, taking making share.

Aerie
Aerie.

Victoria’s Secret was accused of failing to adapt to the times.

Between 2016 and 2018, its market share in the US dropped from 33% to 24%. Some shoppers complained that the quality of its underwear had slipped.

Victoria's Secret

Source: Business Insider

One of its biggest assets, teen-centric brand Pink, also began to struggle. Sales slipped, and it resorted to heavy discounting to woo shoppers.

PINK

“We believe Pink is on the precipice of collapse,” Jefferies analyst Randal Konik wrote in a note to investors in March 2018, commenting on the level of promotions in store.

Some parents complained that Pink was being brought down by Victoria’s Secret’s over-sexualized ads.

Its annual fashion show drew criticism for being outdated, and viewership slipped. In November 2018 Razek sent the internet into a frenzy after he made controversial comments about transgender and plus-size models.

Victoria's Secret

Razek said in an interview with Vogue that he didn’t think the show should feature “transsexuals” because the show is a ‘fantasy.” “It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is,” he said in the interview.

victoria's secret ed razek
Ed Razek speaks to the 2018 Victoria’s Secret runway models backstage during the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at Pier 94 on November 8, 2018 in New York City.

Razek made a formal apology online but some of his critics called for him to step down. 

Read more: People slammed Victoria’s Secret after its marketing chief made controversial comments about transgender models, but he didn’t resign. This could be why, according to former executives.

Less than a week after Razek’s comments went viral, Singer resigned.

Jan Singer

Source: Business Insider

Singer was replaced by John Mehas, who took over the role at the start of 2019.

Victoria's Secret runway show 2018

Mehas had his work cut out for him. Same-store sales at Victoria’s Secret were down 3% in 2018, and was gradually losing market share to new companies. 

Plus, he had angry shareholders to deal with. In March 2019, activist shareholder Barington Capital sent a letter to Wexner, laying out recommendations to improve growth at Victoria’s Secret in order to “unlock substantial value.”

In the letter, Barington’s CEO, James A. Mitarotonda, called out the company’s brand image as being “outdated.”

“Victoria’s Secret’s brand image is starting to appear to many as being outdated and even a bit ‘tone deaf’ by failing to be aligned with women’s evolving attitudes towards beauty, diversity, and inclusion,” he wrote. 

Read more: An activist shareholder is urging Victoria’s Secret parent to update ‘tone-deaf’ brand image to boost sales

Barington called out the lack of diversity in its board of directors as being an issue for the brand. At the time, of the 11 board members, nine were men.

Les Wexner
Wexner and his wife Abigail both sit on the board of directors.

It seems Victoria’s Secret took this criticism to heart. After acknowledging the letter in a statement, it appointed two new female board directors — Sarah E. Nash and Anne Sheehan — and made steps to address the comments about the brand image being outdated. 

It hired a more body-inclusive model.

Barbara Palvin

While she is not a plus-size model, fans praised the company for its decision to take on Hungarian model Barbara Palvin as one of its newest Angels.

Instagrammers celebrated a post starring Palvin for being more body-inclusive, as they perceived her to be curvier than some of the brand’s other models.

“This model actually looks healthy..& I’m loving it!” one Instagram user wrote.

“At last! A real human body,” another said.

It also hired its first openly transgender model.

Valentina Sampaio

Brazilian transgender model Valentina Sampaio, shared a photograph of herself on Instagram in August tagging the Victoria’s Secret Pink brand along with the hashtags: “campaign,” “vspink,” and “diversity.”A day later, she shared a video of herself with the caption “Never stop dreaming.”

Her agent later confirmed that she had signed a contract with Victoria’s Secret.

The same day, Wexner announced that Razek would be resigning in the middle of August in a memo sent out to employees.

leslie wexner ed razek
Les Wexner and Ed Razek pose backstage at the 2016 Fragrance Foundation Awards presented by Hearst Magazines – Show on June 7, 2016 in New York City.

Source: Business Insider

And on November 21, the company confirmed that it had officially canceled its runway fashion show that year.

VS fashion show

During a call with analysts after reporting its third-quarter earnings results, L Brands CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer responded to a question about whether the fashion show would run this holiday season. 

“We will be communicating to customers, but nothing similar in magnitude to the fashion show,” he said. 

Wexner previously told employees in May that Victoria’s Secret was “rethinking” the show. And Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik — who has walked in several of its fashion shows — told The Daily Telegraph in Australia in July 2019 that the annual show was off this year. 

While these were potentially positive changes, the brand found itself caught up in a new challenge in the summer of 2019: its CEO and the company being linked to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Epstein/Wexner
Waxner and Epstein

Epstein managed Wexner’s money for several years, and former company executives told the Wall Street Journal that he tried to meddle in Victoria’s Secret’s business, offering input on which women should be models.

Some of Epstein’s victims came forward saying that he used his connection to Victoria’s Secret to coerce them into sexual acts.

L Brands’ board of directors announced that it had hired an outside law firm to review its relationship with Epstein. In September, Wexner addressed his ties to Epstein at L Brands’ investor meeting.

“At some point in your life we are all betrayed by friends,” Wexner said. “Being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved, is something that I’m embarrassed I was even close to. But that is in the past.”

Read more: Former employees reveal what the billionaire head of Victoria’s Secret is like as a boss as he faces backlash over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein

In February 2020, the company announced that Wexner would be stepping down as chairman and CEO of L Brands but would stay on as chairman emeritus and sit on the board of directors. At the same time, it announced that it was selling a 55% stake in Victoria’s Secret to private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

Les Wexner painting

In a statement to the press announcing the news, Wexner said that Sycamore has “deep experience in the retail industry and a superior track record of success,” and that it “will bring a fresh perspective and greater focus to the business.”

 

In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic swept across the US and Victoria’s Secret was forced to shutter its stores.

Victoria's Secret

At the end of April 2020, Sycamore filed a lawsuit to back out of the deal, alleging that Victoria’s Secret’s actions taken during the pandemic to close stores, cut back on new inventory, and not pay rent for the month of April were in violation of the agreement that the two parties had made in February.

L Brands immediately issued a statement saying that a termination of the agreement is “invalid,” and that it would “vigorously defend” the lawsuit and “pursue all legal remedies to enforce its contractual rights.”

On May 4, 2020, L Brands announced that the deal with Sycamore had officially fallen apart.

Victoria's Secret

L Brands said that it had come to a “mutual agreement” with Sycamore to “terminate” the deal.

The company also said that it had reshuffled its management team and would focus on “implementing significant cost reduction actions and performance improvements at Victoria’s Secret.”

This included permanently closing as many as 250 Victoria’s Secret and Pink stores in the US and Canada in 2020.

 

 

In the second half of 2020, the brand started to recover, boosted by more sales online.

Victoria's Secret

Jefferies analysts described Victoria’s Secret’s progress as “admirable,” after it reported strong fourth-quarter results in early 2021. 

Bloomberg later reported that L Brands had resumed discussions to sell the brand once more and was seeking a much higher valuation, in the region of $3 billion.

But in May, L Brands put an end to speculation and said that it was no longer looking for a buyer and would split the company in two and spin-off Victoria’s Secret to become a standalone company.

 

 

 

Since then, it has been working hard to execute a turnaround under new leadership.

Victoria's Secret

Read more: Victoria’s Secret is experiencing a major comeback after years of declining sales — and Wall Street is salivating

It has also taken steps to overhaul the brand image. Most recently, swapping its Angels for a new group of activists and entrepreneurial women to be the face of the brand.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Read the original article on Business Insider

CureVac’s COVID-19 shot just failed in a large trial, a major setback for the Gates-backed biotech

Employee Philipp Hoffmann, of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research workflow on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany, March 12, 2020. Picture taken on March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert
An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac.

  • CureVac’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine failed in a pivotal clinical study, the biotech said Wednesday.
  • It’s the first late-stage study to flop, with CureVac’s vaccine showing 47% effectiveness.
  • The German biotech saw its stock price drop by more than 50% in post-market trading.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the German biotech CureVac failed in a critical late-stage study, the company said Wednesday.

It’s the first failure of a major vaccine candidate in a final-stage trial. CureVac said an interim analysis showed the shot was 47% effective, falling short of the study’s goals and the minimum bar for what US regulators find approvable.

The development is a setback to the world’s immunization efforts, as European officials had previously reached deals to acquire up to 405 million doses of the shot.

Despite the disappointing result, CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said the company plans to go “full speed for the final readout.” The trial is still ongoing and the final vaccine efficacy figure may vary as more COVID-19 cases are tallied.

“We are still planning for filing for approval,” Haas told The New York Times’ Carl Zimmer.

CureVac, which is backed by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, saw its stock price plummet following Wednesday’s announcement. Shares were down more than 50% in post-market trading. The foundation owns about 3.1 million shares of CureVac, or 1.7% of the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

An independent biostatistics expert said it will be nearly impossible for CureVac’s study to still produce success. The 47% estimate of efficacy is based on 134 COVID-19 cases among study participants. “It’s not going to change dramatically,” Natalie Dean, a University of Florida biostatistician, told The Times.

CureVac blames variants, even as other vaccines hold up against different strains

In a statement, CureVac leaders said that the abundance of virus variants played a role in the result. Only one of the 134 analyzed cases resulted from the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the company said.

“While we were hoping for a stronger interim outcome, we recognize that demonstrating high efficacy in this unprecedented broad diversity of variants is challenging,” CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas said in a statement.

The disappointing result is surprising given some of the similarities CureVac’s experimental vaccine candidate had with other, highly effective immunizations. CureVac’s shot is a messenger RNA vaccine, a new technology platform that’s also used by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

Those shots proved to be more than 90% effective in late-stage trials last year. They also appear to protect people against some major virus variants.

Other vaccines have also shown success against variants. Novavax, for instance, announced earlier this week its two-dose shot was 90% effective in a late-stage study. What’s more, Novavax’s vaccine was about 93% effective in preventing illnesses caused by variants of concern or variants of interest, the company said.

A quiet existence, until the pandemic

Since its founding in 2000, CureVac had a largely quiet existence until the pandemic. As one of the first companies trying to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, CureVac’s CEO was invited to the White House in March 2020. Shortly after, reports circulated that the US had offered a “large sum” for access to its vaccine program. CureVac disputed the reports. The company also cycled through three CEOs in the span of a week.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also drawn attention to CureVac with his tweets. A Tesla subsidiary is working with CureVac in building a “prototype of an automated manufacturing unit,” Insider reported in July.

In its Wednesday press release, CureVac focused attention on its second-generation coronavirus vaccine. Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline has partnered with CureVac on that research, paying the company roughly $235 million upfront and investing an additional $180 million in multiple deals over the past year.

CureVac said it hopes this next-generation program could start human testing by the end of September, with the goal of launching in 2022.

Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce contributed reporting.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Royal Caribbean postpones cruise after 8 crew members on board test positive for COVID-19

The Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of The Seas arrives at Port Everglades on June 10, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

  • 8 crew members aboard Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The ship’s inaugural sail was delayed from July 3 to July 31 because of the COVID-19 cases.
  • Royal Caribbean’s CEO said all 1,400 crew members will be fully vaccinated by June 18.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Royal Caribbean International is delaying its first passenger cruise on the Odyssey of the Seas cruise ship after eight members of the crew tested positive for COVID-19, the agency’s CEO said in a statement on Facebook.

The ship was supposed to set sail on July 3, but will now set sail on July 31.

“The eight crew members, six of whom are asymptomatic and two with mild symptoms, were quarantined and are being closely monitored by our medical team,” Royal Caribbean International CEO Michael Bayley said. “To protect the remaining crew and prevent any further cases, we will have all crew quarantined for 14 days and continue with our routine testing.”

Baley said that all 1,400 crew members aboard the Odyssey were vaccinated by June 4, and are expected to be considered fully vaccinated by June 18.

The announcement of the ship’s delayed sail comes days after two passengers aboard a 95% vaccinated cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19.

The cases were on the Celebrity Millennium, which is operated by the Royal Caribbean Group.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Oman reports new cases of black fungus in COVID-19 patients following ‘epidemic’ of the infection in India

Omani healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Oman's capital Muscat on June 8, 2021.
Omani healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Oman’s capital Muscat on June 8, 2021.

  • Mucorymycosis has been seen in patients with particularly severe cases of COVID-19.
  • The fungal infection has a high mortality rate, requiring the removal of infected tissue.
  • Doctors in Oman have encountered at least three COVID-19 patients with “black fungus,” the AP said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Doctors in Oman, a small nation on the Arabian Peninsula, have encountered at least three COVID-19 patients with “black fungus,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The fungal infection, known as mucorymycosis, can be fatal. The news comes as Oman faces a surge in coronavirus cases brought about, in part, by the fact that more than 90% of its population has not yet been vaccinated, according to the AP report.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with severe cases of COVID-19 “are particularly vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections.” The use of “high-dose corticosteroids and tocilizumab,” a monoclonal antibody, can also predispose patients to infection from fungal spores.

Signs of infection include black lesions on the nose or inside the mouth, according to the CDC.

The problem of black fungus has been particularly acute in India, where several states have declared it an epidemic amid the spread of a coronavirus variant officially known as B.1.617, but more recently renamed Delta, that appears to be more contagious than the original. As Insider has reported, black fungus has a 50% mortality rate “and requires all infected tissues to be removed for patients to have a fighting chance.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A ‘supertaster’ gene that makes people more sensitive to bitter flavors may also help protect against COVID-19

tongue
  • The T2R38 gene makes people more sensitive to bitter tastes and also enhances immune function.
  • It has been linked to stronger immunity against infections. Research suggests that includes COVID-19.
  • “Supertasters” with two copies of the gene may be less likely to get COVID-19 and develop severe illness.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Despite performing countless procedures that increased his risk of exposure to the coronavirus, Dr. Henry P. Barham has not gotten sick yet.

The ear, nose, and throat doctor, who works at Baton Rouge General in Louisiana, was grateful for his luck but baffled as to how he stayed healthy. He and his colleagues all wore protective gear at work, but some of them still got COVID-19, he told the Washington Post.

The answer, according to his research, may lie close to his area of expertise: the nose.

Barham is studying T2R38, the so-called “supertaster” gene which makes people more sensitive to the bitter notes in broccoli, spinach, and coffee.

Those who inherit the gene from both of their parents also have stronger immunity to respiratory and sinus infections – and according to Barham’s latest research, they may be better protected against COVID-19.

The supertaster gene enhances innate immune function

The T2R38 gene arms the body with superior natural defenses against intruders like the coronavirus.

Those who have two copies of the gene typically have extra hairlike filaments, called cilia, in the airway to sweep bugs away. They also produce more mucous membranes to keep invaders out and create nitric oxide to kill the pathogens that get into the body.

All of these layers of immunity help the body fight off infections, so Barham wondered if those who inherit the gene – himself included – might have an innate advantage over COVID-19.

His hunch was supported when his friend got a serious case of COVID-19, but the man’s wife remained healthy. Bahram gave them both a taste test where they rated the bitterness of paper strips from 1 to 10, revealing that his friend was a “nontaster” and his wife was a supertaster.

A person’s supertaster status can predict the severity of COVID-19

Barham went on to test his hypothesis, first in a group of 100 people who previously had COVID-19 and then in nearly 2,000 people who had been exposed but not fallen ill.

He used the same taste test he gave to his friends to classify people as supertasters, tasters, and nontasters. In the second study, a subgroup also submitted spit samples for genetic testing.

The larger study, published in JAMA Network Open last month, revealed that nontasters were more likely to get COVID-19, stay sick for longer, and require hospitalization. Nontasters who got COVID were sick for an average of 23.5 days, compared to 5 days for supertasters.

None of the supertasters who got sick in the study required hospitalization. Overall, the researchers were able to predict how ill a person would get based on their taster status with 94% accuracy.

However, supertasters can get sick too, and the classification system Barham used was inexact. Giving patients a taste test is not a surefire way to determine if the have the T2R38 gene, so more research needs to be done with genetic testing to support the findings.

Still, Barham’s research is a step towards unraveling the mysteries of COVID-19, public health expert Amesh Adalja told the Washington Post, and it could someday be used to help hospital workers make tough decisions about treating patients.

“Immune profiling could be a way to help them make those decisions, but it’s going to take some time to change how people approach this,” Adalja told the Post.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene apologizes for comparing mask mandates to the Holocaust, insisting she’s ‘very much a normal person’

marjorie taylor greene
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., holds a news conference to apologize for her recent remarks equating mask mandates with the Holocaust in Washington on Monday, June 14, 2021.

  • Greene apologized for her previous comparisons of COVID-19 safety measures to the Holocaust.
  • She opened a news conference on Monday evening by saying: “I’m very much a normal person.”
  • Greene came under fire for comparing the House mask mandate to the horrors suffered by Jews in Nazi Germany.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene on Monday evening publicly apologized for her previous comparisons of COVID-19 mask requirements and vaccination efforts to the horrors suffered by Jews in Nazi Germany.

The Georgia Republican, known for her controversial statements, took a markedly different tone during a solo news conference, starting off by saying: “I always want to remind everyone – I’m very much a normal person.”

“One of the best lessons that my father always taught me was, when you make a mistake, you should own it. And I have made a mistake and it’s really bothered me for a couple of weeks now, and so I definitely want to own it,” she said.

Greene told reporters that she visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, earlier in the day and wanted to make it clear that “there is no comparison to the Holocaust.”

“There are words that I have said, remarks that I’ve made, that I know are offensive. And for that I want to apologize,” she said.

Greene’s apology comes as House Democrats move to censure her after she likened mask mandates and vaccine rules to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.

Greene attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi for keeping the House mask mandate in place although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifted mask-wearing guidelines indoors for fully vaccinated individuals. Pelosi said that she was following guidance from the Capitol attending physician as vaccination rates in Congress, especially among Republicans, was unknown.

During an interview on a conservative podcast on May 20, Greene said: “You know, we can look back in a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”

She also tweeted at the time that “vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.”

The “gold star” reference, which historians more commonly refer to as a yellow star, was an identifier that Nazi Germany forced Jews to wear.

Several House Democrats swiftly condemned Greene’s language, followed by House Republican leadership. GOP leader Kevin McCarthy called her statements “wrong” and “appalling.”

Greene did not express any regret over her comments at the time, and instead doubled down on them in a series of tweets in which she described Democrats as “reminiscent of the great tyrants of history.”

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Amazon burns through workers so quickly that executives are worried they’ll run out of people to employ, according to new report

Amazon fulfillment center
Inside an Amazon warehouse.

Amazon has been hiring hundreds of thousands of workers for roles in its warehouses, which it calls “fulfillment centers,” but those employees have been quitting almost as fast as they can be hired, according to a huge new report from The New York Times.

Of the over 350,000 new workers it hired between July and October 2020, the report said, many only stayed with the company “just days or weeks.”

Hourly employees had a turnover rate of approximately 150% every year, data reviewed by the Times demonstrated, reportedly leading some Amazon executives to worry about running out of hirable employees in the US.

Amazon went on an extended hiring spree throughout 2020 as it attempted to keep up with a massive spike in demand during coronavirus lockdowns. As Americans increasingly turned to Amazon for everything from toiletries to groceries, the company repeatedly touted major hiring pushes.

By May 2021, Amazon was even offering $1,000 signing bonuses to new employees – partially a symptom of hiring issues employers are facing in a variety of industries, but potentially also a result of Amazon’s remarkably high turnover rate.

One former Amazon manager who oversaw human resources efforts focused on warehouse workers compared the situation with worker churn at Amazon warehouses to the ongoing use of fossil fuels. “We keep using them, even though we know we’re slowly cooking ourselves,” he told the Times.

Amazon representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

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Graph shows how US COVID-19 spikes track strongly with the places where people are refusing vaccinations

coronavirus vaccine eu
A coronavirus vaccine.

  • COVID-19 cases are falling where most people are vaccinated, and vice versa, The Washington Post found.
  • Vaccination rates are lower in southern US states.
  • 43.7% of the US population is now fully vaccinated.
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Coronavirus cases in the US are rising in areas that have lower vaccination rates, a Washington Post analysis found.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Post produced a quadrant graph that shows the number of COVID-19 cases dropping where most people have been vaccinated, and increasing in many areas where they haven’t been:

Some 43.7% of the US population has been fully vaccinated – meaning they have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot, or both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine – and 52.5% has received at least one dose, the CDC said.

Vaccination rates are lower in southern states, the data shows.

Experts told The Post that they are concerned about what will happen in these areas as people mingle. All US states have loosened or removed their lockdown restrictions over the past few weeks.

The Post’s analysis comes as the US edges near recording 600,000 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

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