Biotech Companies Share Upbeat News On Experimental COVID-19 Vaccines

Some prominent biotech companies report upbeat indications regarding possible coronavirus vaccines that have begun human trials around the world.

Biotech firm Moderna, based in Massachusetts, saw its stock jump 20% on news that their experimental vaccine showed considerable efficacy.

From the Washington Post:

The eagerly-awaited data provide a first look at one of the eight vaccines worldwide that have begun human testing. The data have not been published in a scientific journal and are only a preliminary step toward showing the experimental vaccine is safe and effective.

The company’s stock, along with the Dow Jones industrial average, soared on the report that eight participants who received low and medium doses of Moderna’s vaccine had blood levels of virus-fighting antibodies that were similar or greater than those in recovered covid-19 patients. That suggests, but doesn’t prove, that it triggers some level of immunity.

An effort led by the University of Oxford, in partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, plans to have millions of doses of vaccine available by fall. Last week, those researchers disclosed that more than 1,000 patients had already enrolled in the initial trial of its vaccine, which began in late April.

A Chinese company, Sinovac Biotech, recently published a study in the journal Science showing that its vaccine protected rhesus monkeys against infection and is currently being tested in 144 people. Two other safety trials are ongoing in the U.S., led by Pfizer and Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

Vaccine experts have said that these accelerated development timelines are theoretically possible, but extremely optimistic — and depend on everything going right. They stress that it will be crucial to gather convincing data the vaccines are safe and effective before using them broadly — and the new data are promising but preliminary, from the earliest phase one trials that test safety in healthy people.

Florida Man Was Skeptical Of COVID-19 Threat Until He & His Wife Got It

Brian Lee Hitchens (screen capture/WPTV)

A Florida man thought the coronavirus health threat was “a fake crisis” that was “blown out of proportion” and “wasn’t that serious.”

And then he and his wife contracted COVID-19.

“I thought it was maybe the government trying something, and it was kind of like they threw it out there to kinda distract us,” Hitchens told local news station WPTV.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Brian Lee Hitchens shared how the pandemic affected he and his wife’s lives.


Many people still think that the Coronavirus is a fake crisis which at one time I did too and not that I thought it wasn’t a real virus going around but at one time I felt that it was blown out of proportion and it wasn’t that serious.

We kept on watching the news and kept on hearing about the spreading of the Coronavirus and to be honest I didn’t really think nothing of it. I still thought it was being blown out of proportion until about 4 and 1/2 weeks ago when I started to feel sick and once I started to feel sick I stopped working and stayed home.

Yes, I came down with the Coronavirus and a couple days later after I started to not feel good my wife started to not feel good and we stayed at home quarantined and my wife did go to the hospital to get tested and they told her yeah you probably have the coronavirus so go home and quarantine yourself.

Well a few days went by and we both started feeling worse and worse and worse to the point where we barely had any energy left to do anything and all we want to do is sleep. So three weeks ago Sunday we decided not to play around with this anymore and I had just enough energy to drive us to the hospital Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and we both got confirmed that we had the Coronavirus.

They admitted us right away and we both went to ICU. I started feeling better within a few days but my wife got worse to the point where they sedated her and put her on the ventilator. I was never put ventilator and started feeling better feeling stronger never had terrible aches and pains just weak and exhausted.

Even now I am feeling better. A lot better then a few weeks ago. I still have COVID-19 and some pneumonia in my lungs and we’ve been here 3 weeks as of yesterday.

As of today my wife is still sedated and on the ventilator with no signs of improving. There were a couple times were they tried to start weaning her off the ventilator but as soon as they’ve done that her oxygen level dropped and they had to put her back on the ventilator full time.

My wife has been sick before in the past quite a few times and she always fought through to get better but now after 3 weeks I have come to accept that my wife may pass away and the peace I have about it is that I know without a shadow of a doubt that she will be going home to be with the Lord.

But I also do believe in miracles and I’m holding on to the chance that she may get healed. But if not I am thankful for her I know we’ve been married for 8 years.

So think about what I wrote and think about if this thing is a fake crisis. This Coronavirus affects people differently. My wife has suffered from different physical ailments which she has overcome before but she sure is struggling and the doctors have said they have had a tough time getting her better.

This thing is nothing to be messed with please listen to the authorities and heed the advice of the experts. We don’t have to fear this, and by heeding the advice doesn’t mean that you fear it – that means you’re showing wisdom during this epidemic time.

Looking back I should have wore a mask in the beginning but I didn’t and perhaps I’m paying the price for it now. But I know that if it was me that gave it to my wife I know that she forgives me and I know that God forgives me.

Whether man forgives me or not that’s out of my control, but as long as I have the assurance that God forgives me and my wife forgives me I am good.

So just think about what I said and if you have to go out, please use wisdom and don’t be foolish like I was so the same thing won’t happen to you like it happened to me and my wife.


In a subsequent post, Hitchins shares that he is continuing to recover. His wife is reportedly stable, but still sedated and on a ventilator.

Here’s his interview from his hosptial bed in Jupiter, Florida, with local station WPTV.

AstraZeneca Aims For 30 Million UK Vaccine Doses By September

Top health officials say the U.S. will begin making booster shots for COVID vaccines available for folks 8 months after they become fully vaccinated

AstraZeneca plans to make as many as 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccine available to the U.K. by September and has committed to delivering 100 million doses this year.

The U.K. would be the first country in the world to get access to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

From Bloomberg News:

The vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford will get 65.5 million pounds ($79 million) of funding, U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said today in a statement.

The inoculation is already being studied in humans and could reach late-stage trials by the middle of the year. Another 18.5 million pounds will go to Imperial College London as trials accelerate.

Drugmakers are scaling up to make a Covid vaccine before the shots are fully tested, so inoculations will be ready as soon as possible. No vaccine exists yet for Covid-19, which has killed more than 312,000 people globally and infected 4.7 million.

The U.K. has the second-deadliest outbreak after the U.S.

NY Barber Tests Positive For Covid After Continuing To Cut Hair

(stock image via Unsplash/Andi Whiskey)

A barber in Kingston, New York, has tested positive for COVID-19 after he continued to cut hair for weeks in violation of the state’s stay-at-home orders.

From NBC News:

In a statement Wednesday, the county health commissioner advised anyone who received a haircut in the past three weeks at a barbershop on Broadway in the city of Kingston, about 20 miles north of Poughkeepsie, to seek testing for the coronavirus. The statement did not identify either the barber or the shop.

Nonessential businesses have been closed since March 22 under an order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that is set to expire Friday, when certain parts of the state that have met public health metrics will be allowed to begin a phased reopening.

Under the order, barbershops, beauty salons, nail salons and other businesses that provide personal care services are not allowed to be open and operated to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

It goes without saying that the state of New York has been the epicenter of the pandemic, the guy knowingly put himself and his customers at risk.

The report didn’t mention if the barber followed any safety guidelines like sanitizing or wearing a mask or limiting the number of clients in his shop at any given time.

Restrictions in Nevada were lifted this past week allowing for haircuts if such guidelines were followed. I saw my guy, Phil, who has his own one-man barbershop and was doing double-duty on sanitizing and only allowed one customer in the shop at a time.

Medical Expert: Coronavirus Could Lead To ‘Darkest Winter In Modern History’

Dr. Rick Bright testifies before Congress

Former immunologist at the Department of Health and Human Services Rick Bright, who until recently was leading the agency tasked with developing a vaccine for coronavirus, testifed before Congress today offering a dire message about the pandemic.

From the New York Times:

Dr. Rick Bright, the whistle-blower who was ousted as head of a federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, warned Congress on Thursday that the Covid-19 outbreak will “get worse and be prolonged” if the United States does not swiftly develop a national testing strategy and devise a plan for distributing a vaccine.

“The window is closing to address this pandemic because we still do not have a standard, centralized, coordinated plan to take this nation through this response,” said Dr. Bright, who was abruptly removed last month from his position as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

He told lawmakers on a House health subcommittee that the country could be facing “the darkest winter in modern history” if the administration did not act swiftly, as Americans become “restless” to leave their homes.

Bright was removed from his position because he refused to promote an anti-malaria drug championed by Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19. Numerous studies have shown the drug can have negative effects on patients with the coronavirus.

A New Study Finds Coronavirus In Semen Of Infected Patients

(image via Eddy Billard/Unsplash)

Another reason why it might be a good idea to hit pause on dating apps during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new study by researchers in China found evidence of the coronavirus in the semen of infected men raising concerns that the virus could be sexually transmitted.

The study, by doctors at China’s Shangqiu Municipal Hospital, found six men in a group of 38 patients being treated for severe coronavirus infections tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in their semen.

Of the six, four men were still infected and two were recovering.

The results seem to contradict an earlier study released in April in which no traces of the virus were found in a group of 34 men with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.

The researchers working on the new study say the findings were ‘preliminary’ and based on a small number of patients.

“Further studies are required with respect to the detailed information about virus shedding, survival time and concentration in semen,” the team wrote in their study.

Independent experts, pointing to the small size of the study group, say the new findings are ‘interesting’ but don’t necessarily mean the virus can be transmitted through sex.

Dr. Ryan Berglund, a urologist with the Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, told CBS News the report doesn’t “constitute concrete evidence that COVID-19 can be sexually transmitted.”

“I think that’s premature,” added Berglund. “You have to look at this as a sign that semen, as along with a number of other body fluids, can contain the virus.”

Allan Pacey, a professor of andrology at Britain’s Sheffield University, told Reuters the study didn’t conclusively find whether the virus found was active and capable of causing infection.

“However, we should not be surprised if the virus which causes COVID-19 is found in the semen of some men since this has been shown with many other viruses such as Ebola and Zika,” he said.

It’s worth noting that earlier studies have found traces of the virus in stool as well, which means rimming could put people at risk.

So, when it comes to having sex, keep in mind the guidance from the New York City Health Department when considering having sex.

First, you are your safest sex partner as masturbation will not spread COVID-19.

Second, the next safest partner is someone you live with. Having close contact with only a small circle of people helps prevent spreading the virus.

And remember, kissing can easily pass the virus on to someone else.

(sources: CBS News, Reuters)

Adding Games & Grapes To Your Home Workouts

Celebrity fitness trainer Craig Ramsay

With so many people doing the stay at home thing, we’ve seen a lot of YouTube and Instagram guys offering home workouts to keep us fit both mentally and physically.

But one of the things we’ve noticed is they can get to be a little boring after a while, and we need a new twist on things.

Woofy fitness guru and Bravo star Craig Ramsay is pairing his passion for exercise and online social gaming together to break up the monotony and bring some fun to home fitness.

Well-known as the co-host of Bravo’s “Thintervention” with Jackie Warner, Ramsay was also half of the fan-favorite gay couple on Bravo’s “Newlyweds The First Year.”

SciPlay, one of the world’s leading social gaming companies, reached out to Ramsay to help launch the Fitness & Slots YouTube channel.

A fan of SciPlay games for years, Ramsay has developed exercise programs that match-up with the games. For example, if you get a bonus on the game, you get a bonus exercise as well.

“Exercising is always important, but recent events and restrictions have made our society even more stressed than before, and people all around the world have difficulty maintaining a normal daily routine that includes movement,” says Ramsay. “That stress has a negative effect on us, and physical movement has the power to make us feel de-stressed and calm.”

Ramsay says the combination of exercises and gaming has helped motivate clients to move their bodies, feel physically and mentally great, and positively impact their health and wellness while walking, stretching, performing bodyweight exercises, and more.

The YouTube channel features workouts based on SciPlay’s gaming hits. Viewers will learn all about Ramsay’s fitness philosophy, participate in weekly challenges, and get inspired to ‘gamify’ their workouts.

Ramsay also mixes it up by doing Instagram Live sessions focusing on stretching with a nice pour of wine called “Stretch – A Reason to Wine.”

Check out some of his recent Instagram posts from Palm Springs where he’s currently sheltering in place.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Playing with Jugs 💪🏼 What kind of workouts are you doing at home? #workoutathome 🏡 🏋🏼

A post shared by Craig Ramsay (@craigramsayfit) on

Another Study Shows Hydroxychloroquine Ineffective In Treating COVID-19

A new medical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug often touted by Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19, is not effective in treating patients with the disease.

From CNBC:

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, looked at 1,376 consecutive patients who showed up at the emergency room with symptoms of coronavirus.

Nearly 60%, or 811 of the patients, received the drug within 48 hours and were found, on average, to be more severely ill than those who didn’t receive the drug, the researchers said. They said the study’s findings didn’t find any potential benefit or harm from the drug, adding a rigorous, randomized clinical trial is needed.

The new findings come two weeks after the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers against chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 outside a hospital or formal clinical trial setting.

Researchers in multiple studies looking at the drug have noted serious heart rhythm issues in those treated with the medication.

Two weeks ago a study conducted at Veterans Administration hospitals found patients on the drug fared worse than those who received just standard care.

And, a study in Brazil ended abruptly after COVID-19 patients being given chloroquine, a medication used to create hydroxychloroquine, developed unusual heart rhythms, which led to death in some patients.

As I recently reported, Gilead Sciences’ experimental drug remdesivir seems to be the front-runner in terms of a drug that may actually help COVID-19 patients.

Tips For Better Mental Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

As May is Mental Health Awareness Month AND we continue to face the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it becomes more and more apparent that our well-being is closely tied to our mental health.

For men, whose natural instinct is to take action, these times present unique challenges as most of us follow stay-at-home guidelines.

With our regular routines interrupted and normal channels for processing stress – like heading to the gym or going out with friends – unavailable to us, thoughts and feelings can turn into anxiety and angst.

In a new article for Healthline.com, Dan Doty, co-founder of EVRYMAN, offers some practical steps on how to help men’s mental health while coping with the stresses of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

EVRYMAN is an online community that focuses on helping men act more productively on their emotions instead of burying or redirecting them thereby helping to build a more fulfilling life.

Dan shares these four tips:

• Feel Your Feelings – Taking proactive action for your mental health not only gets you the support you need, but it also helps break down the cultural stigma that can be a barrier to other men getting help.

• Reach out to Connect – A call with your parents, a video chat with your co-workers, or a text message to a sibling can be invaluable right now. In order to make the best of these moments of connection, you can make them count by being more vulnerable and transparent.

• Go Inside (yourself) – You don’t have to become a great meditator or world-class yogi to benefit from the amazing meditation apps that are out there. Don’t overthink it – try an exercise of setting a timer and writing for 10 minutes without stopping. Let go and write anything and everything that wants to come out.

• Take Action – It might feel very tricky to take action right now, but a helpful strategy is to slow down and find small, manageable ways to move forward and orient ourselves to simple, practical actions. What may seem small and mundane at first glance can bring an air of progress and forward momentum.

Click over to Healthline to read Dan’s full article.

Note: EVRYMAN is currently offering free support to men all over the world via community calls and daily drop-in groups as a way for men from all walks of life to band together in support.

Someone Threw A ‘Corona Party’ & Shared It On Instagram

(screen captures)

I’m just sharing, folks.

Twitter user Phillip Henry posted these videos on his account a few hours ago that seems to be from an Instagram account with the handle ‘IanFrostok.’

They appear to be a lengthy series of videos shared on his InstaStory (since deleted or expired) that Henry says were “full-on house parties on a Monday night in NYC.”

I don’t know if that’s true but I can tell you the Instagram account has disappeared.

Some in the Twitterverse are curious about the shindig (coronavirus don’t you know) and identifying attendees has proven easy enough it seems since they were tagging each other with their Insta-handles.

If – cause it could be wrong – but if it’s the same person, it seems an IanFrostok was profiled by DNA Magazine six days ago on how he’s “coping” with the lockdown.

I guess now we know.

Needless to say, the idea that a group of people partying this close together in a NYC apartment is NOT what the doctor ordered.

According to the New York City Health Department, to date there have been 171,723 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city; 43,383 hospitalized, 13,724 confirmed deaths and another 5,383 probable deaths.

Twitter had some shade to throw, though.