News Round-Up: November 10, 2020

Screen capture of CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez
Screen capture of CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez
CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez (screen capture)

Some news items you might have missed:

Mainstream Media Crush: I can’t believe I’ve never noted how enjoyable CNN’s Boris Sanchez (above) makes watching the news. That is all. #EyeCandy

Pink News: Last week, I reported how openly gay Mayor Dean Trantalis of Fort Lauderdale was verbally accosted at his polling station by a group of Trump supporters calling him homophobic slurs.  Just thought I’d report he sailed to reelection with 58 percent of the vote.

Out Music: Check out the latest music video from out recording artist mxmtoon, “ok on your own,” featuring pop star Carly Rae Jepsen.

The mid-tempo track explores the fallout of a breakup with the realization that sometimes it’s better to be “on your own” when a romance comes to an end. “I need some time to myself so I can comprehend/ I’m not so scared to admit I could use a friend.”

USA Today: Nine legal experts say Trump’s lawsuit challenging election results in Pennsylvania is dead on arrival for a number of reasons: Courts are wary of invalidating legally cast ballots, and voting by mail, used in many states, is both common and constitutional.

Statista: Following Pfizer’s announcement that its vaccine candidate was found to be 90 percent effective against COVID-19 in phase 3 trials, shares of travel industry stocks like hotels and airlines went soaring across the globe. Interestingly, the news also sent some shares tumbling for such “pandemic winners” as Zoom Video Communications, Peloton, and Netflix.

(graphic via Statista)

Gothamist: Governor Phil Murphy is requiring indoor bars and restaurants in New Jersey to close by 10 p.m., one of several restrictions that he announced today to address a spike in COVID-19 cases. “There is more than anecdotal evidence that as the night wears on, probably for reasons that are obvious, people let their hair down,” Murphy said, while also sharing that the state’s positivity rate is at 7.52%.

MSNBC: President-elect Joe Biden threw some 12th level shade Donald Trump’s way when asked about Trump refusing to concede the presidential race. “At the end of the day, you know, it’s all going to come to fruition on January 20.”

Poll: Majority Of Americans Don’t Trust Trump’s Promises Of ‘Safe’ Vaccine By Spring

The first confirmed case of the omicron variant in the U.S. has been discovered in California.

A new ABC News/Ipsos poll shows the majority of Americans have little to no confidence in Donald Trump vouching for the safety or effectiveness of a coronavirus vaccine he claims could be available to everyone by Spring 2021.

From ABC News:

Fewer than 1 in 10 (9%) Americans have a great deal of confidence in Trump to confirm vaccine effectiveness with another 18% reporting only a “good amount” of confidence in the poll conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel.

In contrast, 69% don’t have confidence in the president vouching for a vaccine, including 16% saying “not so much” and 53% saying “none at all.”

On Wednesday, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Senate Appropriations Committee that he did not foresee a coronavirus inoculation becoming “generally available” to Americans for another year. Later that day, Trump described Redfield as “confused” and said he thought Redfield made “a mistake.”

The survey also asked respondents which of the presidential candidates they believe is “more honest and trustworthy.” Biden scored much higher than Trump garnering 58 percent support on the question while Trump lagged 19 points behind the Democrat at 39 percent.

News Round-Up: September 16, 2020

(promotional photo from the acclaimed film ‘Call Me By Your Name’)

Some news items you might have missed:

The Independent: In a new interview, Luca Guadagnino, who directed the Oscar-nominated coming-of-age film Call Me By Your Name, defended casting straight actors Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in gay roles.

Washington Blade: Gay Democratic activist Eric Morrison defeated a six-term incumbent by a decisive margin in Delaware’s Democratic primary on Tuesday for a seat in the state House of Representatives. Morrison is considered the strong favorite to win in the Nov. 3 general election in a heavily Democratic district. If elected, he will emerge as Delaware’s first openly gay man to serve in the Delaware State Legislature.

•  Washington Post: The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted Wednesday that most of the American public will not have access to a vaccine against the novel coronavirus until late spring or summer of next year. Redfield said the vaccine will be provided first to people most vulnerable to covid-19 with Americans who are considered at lower risk offered the shot more gradually.

AARP: The venerable seniors’ organization takes a look at sacrifices Americans made out of patriotism during World War II. But, today, wearing a face mask is ‘tyranny…’

CNN: Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, on the Donald’s biggest concerns about releasing his tax returns: “His biggest fear is, if that tax return was released, there’s a whole slew of accountants and forensic accountants that will rip through it and he will end up with a massive tax bill, penalties, fines, and possibly even tax fraud.”

CDC Tells States To Prepare For Possible Vaccine Before Election Day?

The first confirmed case of the omicron variant in the U.S. has been discovered in California.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have informed public health officials in all 50 states that two different vaccines for the coronavirus could be available as early as late October or early November before the completion of clinical trials.

From the New York Times:

The new C.D.C. guidance is the latest sign of an accelerating race for a vaccine to ease a pandemic that has killed more than 184,000 Americans. The documents were sent out on the same day that President Trump told the nation in his speech to the Republican National Convention that a vaccine might arrive before the end of the year.

Over the past week, both Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, who heads the Food and Drug Administration, have said in interviews with news organizations that a vaccine may be available for certain groups before clinical trials have been completed if the data is overwhelmingly positive.

Public health experts agree that agencies at all levels of government should urgently prepare for what will eventually be a vast, complex effort to vaccinate hundreds of millions of Americans.

But the possibility of a rollout in late October or early November has heightened concerns that the Trump administration is seeking to rush the distribution of a vaccine — or simply to hype that one is possible — before Election Day on Nov. 3.

It normally takes years to develop a new vaccine. Anyone else a bit squeamish about receiving a shot of something that hasn’t been fully vetted?

President Ford rushed a vaccine to the public in 1976 for the swine flu. It didn’t go well. Four-hundred fifty people who received the vaccine developed the paralyzing syndrome Guillain-Barré and of those, more than 30 died.

COVID-19 Vaccine Showing Promising Results In Elderly Patients In Small Trial

CNBC reports a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna is showing strong results with senior patients in testing.

The company tested its vaccine on 10 adults between the ages of 56 and 70 and 10 elderly adults aged 71 and older, Moderna said. Each participant received two 100 microgram doses of the vaccine 28 days apart.

The volunteers produced neutralizing antibodies, which researchers believe are necessary to build immunity to the virus, and T-cells, Moderna said in its results, which have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, the antibodies that were produced were higher than those seen in people who have recovered from Covid-19.

Russia Approves COVID-19 Vaccine Without Phase 3 Trials

(image via Unsplash)

Well, this would make me uncomfortable…

From ABC News:

Russia on Tuesday became the first country to clear a coronavirus vaccine and declare it ready for use, despite international skepticism. President Vladimir Putin said that one of his daughters has already been inoculated.

Putin emphasized that the vaccine underwent the necessary tests and has proven efficient, offering lasting immunity from the coronavirus.

However, scientists at home and abroad have been sounding the alarm that the rush to start using the vaccine before Phase 3 trials — which normally last for months and involve thousands of people — could backfire.

Trump Says Vaccine Could Be Ready By Election Day, Experts Disagree

Donald Trump (screen capture)

Donald Trump said Thursday that he believes a vaccine for COVID-19 could be ready before Election Day.

The medical experts disagree.

From NBC News:

When asked on Geraldo Rivera’s radio show if a vaccine could be ready by Nov. 3, Trump said, “I think in some cases, yes, possible before, but right around that time.”

“We have great companies, great. These are the greatest companies of the world,” Trump said. “And the rest of the world is also doing vaccines, so let’s see how they do. I’m all for them, whoever comes up with them.”

Experts say the development, testing and production of a vaccine for the public is still months away, and it would take a medical miracle for one to be available this year, much less before Election Day.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases official, said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday that vaccine doses could be available in 2021, a more sober timeline than Trump offered.

News Round-Up: June 10, 2020

Paulo Batista (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

InstaHunks: Woofy transgender bodybuilder Paulo Batista (above) is literally pumped to be back in the gym: “One of my first days back to a gym in a while! It felt great to get a real pump and sweat in!”

Buzzfeed News: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling doubled down on her recent anti-transgender comments, releasing an extensive statement about her fears of “current trans activism,” which recycles dangerous anti-trans stereotypes and cliches. #DeeplyDisappointing

People: CNN anchor Anderson Cooper opens up about being a dad to adorable baby Wyatt. “This is a dream come true,” the veteran journalist says of parenthood.

Pride Month TV: The acclaimed documentary, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, celebrates one of the icons of the gay rights movement, and the self-described “street queen” of NY’s gay ghetto in the 1960s. When Johnson’s body was found in the Hudson River in 1992, police called it a suicide and didn’t investigate. David France’s film seeks to uncover the truth of her death while celebrating her legacy. Streaming now on Netflix.

The Hill: The final testing stage for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna is set to begin in July. John Mascola, the director of the vaccine research center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Wall Street Journal the trials will involve about 30,000 people at more than 50 sites, which will mostly be within the U.S.

Washington Post: Last week, the hashtag #LadyGraham exploded on social media in response to allegations made on Twitter by gay adult-film star Sean Harding against Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina. The hashtag purportedly refers to Graham’s nickname among male sex workers. What followed has been a mixed bag of political commentary, wanton speculation and downright trolling.

Politico: The Trump administration is preparing to open the door to oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast — but will wait until after the November election to avoid blowback in a swing state whose waters both parties have long considered sacrosanct, according to four people familiar with the plan.

Out Music: Acclaimed out singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright drops his latest music video, “You Ain’t Big,” from his upcoming album Unfollow the Rules.

“I originally wrote the song “You Ain’t Big” about the strange fact that in the music business worldwide until recently (our estimation has fallen considerably) no matter how well you’ve done anywhere else, if you couldn’t make it in the heartland of the US you weren’t really considered a true star,” shares Wainwright. “Think Little Richard, Elvis, the Beatles, and Julio Iglesias.”

“Its vintage sound harkens back to the classical American country music sound of the 40s and 50s and with the help of opposing images in the video of how different life was for white people compared to black people in the 1950’s, as it has sadly remained,” adds the two-time Juno Award winner. “I think it rings appropriate for this time and professes a certain truth.”

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.