Coronavirus vaccines and mutations: New studies deliver good and bad news

The UK and South African coronavirus mutations are spreading rapidly, fueling record surges in the two nations. The two strains are more infectious than other variants and have reached many other countries, with researchers and health officials worrying about their potential impact on vaccines. A new study shows that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can neutralize the B.1.1.7 strain from the UK. Researchers from South Africa found that monoclonal antibodies and plasma transfusions can’t neutralize the mutated spike protein of the B.1.351 variant. This makes reinfection possible and might impact vaccine effectiveness.

Since mid-December, the novel coronavirus strains discovered in the UK (B.1.1.7) and South Africa (B.1.351) have appeared in an increasing number of reports and studies. The two strains feature several mutations each, including genetic changes that impact the key component of the virus that vaccines target: The spike protein. The two mutations are more contagious, and as a result, have fueled the UK and South African COVID-19 surges, with both hitting new case records as the death toll rising as well. The strains were discovered in many other countries, including the US, where the CDC warned that the UK strain could become dominant in the country by March.

Doctors and public health officials worry that mutations might impact COVID-19 immunity, whether acquired after exposure to the virus or after vaccination. This could lead to more infections and reinfections in the coming months if vaccines do not work. New data delivers both good and bad news about the mutations. The current vaccines still work against the UK strain, but the South African variant might be more problematic.

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Coronavirus vaccines and mutations: New studies deliver good and bad news originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 21 Jan 2021 at 21:14:34 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

The ‘Monkey Whisperer’ is probably going to human prison

A Florida man known for his expertise with monkeys is now being charged with illegally selling and trafficking the primates across the United States. Jimmy Wayne Hammonds now faces multiple charges related to what authorities claim was a business to breed and sell monkeys illegally. If convicted of the various charges, Hammonds is looking at several decades in prison.

A man who went by the nickname “Monkey Whisperer” is now facing a list of charges due to his involvement with — you guessed it — monkeys. The man, 57-year-old Jimmy Wayne Hammonds of Parrish, Florida, is in deep monkey poo over what authorities say was an illegal breeding and sale operation.

Hammonds was reportedly busted when he tried to sell a capuchin monkey — one of the classic, adorable “movie monkeys” — to a buyer in California. He allegedly prepared transport for the primate to the buyer, despite the fact that the entire sale (and the buyer’s potential ownership of the monkey) was super illegal. Oops!

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The ‘Monkey Whisperer’ is probably going to human prison originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 21 Jan 2021 at 20:09:57 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Sony Xperia Pro is finally nearing launch almost one year after its unveiling

Remember the Xperia Pro? For almost a year, neither did Sony. But now it looks like the company is finally almost ready to launch this elusive smartphone, that was announced alongside the Xperia 1 II in February of last year. The Xperia 1 II arrived on the market several months later, but there’s still been no trace of the Xperia Pro anywhere. That’s about to change, however, for Sony servers have now started to host firmware files for the Xperia Pro. That’s a sure sign that the actual market availability isn’t far. The Xperia Pro is only expected to be offered in the US, which makes sense…

Do you have any of these coronavirus symptoms? CDC says go to the hospital now

While most COVID-19 symptoms are mild, there are a few emergency symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention. Some of these warning signs, according to the CDC, include trouble breathing, confusion, and an inability to stay awake. To date, the U.S. has seen more than 24.5 million coronavirus cases and upwards of 408,000 associated deaths.

With the U.S. still seeing close to 200,000 new coronavirus infections per day, it’s as important as ever for people to remain cognizant of common COVID-19 symptoms. And because COVID symptoms tend to mirror symptoms typically seen with the flu, it’s equally as crucial for people to get tested for the virus if they’ve been exposed to someone who may have it or if they start noticing symptoms.

While many of the more common COVID symptoms are likely familiar to most everyone by now (i.e. fever, chills, cough, body aches, the sudden loss of taste and smell, fatigue) there are a few emergency COVID warnings signs that warrant immediate medical attention.

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Do you have any of these coronavirus symptoms? CDC says go to the hospital now originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 21 Jan 2021 at 19:04:54 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

This might be the best dog ever

A truly heartwarming story out of northern Turkey reveals the lengths that “Man’s Best Friend” will go to in order to keep a watchful eye on his or her master. A dog named Boncuk refused to leave the hospital entrance where her owner was taken after suffering a serious illness. The dog was taken home multiple times, only to escape and return on foot to the hospital, where she waited days for her human to come back out.

Dogs are absolutely incredible animals. They were among the first species to be domesticated, and they were the first domesticated animals to become what we would consider today to be “pets” on a large scale. We began allowing them into our homes rather than forcing them to live outside, as we did with goats, sheep, and other animals that were domesticated early on, and we’ve formed a strong bond with our canine companions in the thousands of years since.

Today, dogs like Boncuk, a truly dedicated pup in northern Turkey, make their ancestors proud by showing their devotion in truly astonishing ways. In the case of Boncuk, she spent days outside of a local hospital while her owner was being treated for an illness, and she wouldn’t let anyone stand in her way.

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This might be the best dog ever originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 21 Jan 2021 at 18:37:54 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

HBO’s next ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel might be ‘Tales of Dunk and Egg’

A new Game of Thrones prequel series based on George R.R. Martin’s Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas is reportedly in early development at HBO. There are three novellas in the Tales of Dunk and Egg series, released between 1998 and 2010, all of which were eventually collected into A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. There aren’t any writers or actors attached to the Game of Thrones spinoff yet.

According to a recent report from Variety, a TV series based on George R.R. Martin’s Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas are in the early stages of development at HBO. Set in the same world as A Song of Ice and Fire (the book series from which Game of Thrones was adapted), the novellas follow the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall (“Dunk”) and Aegon V Targaryen (“Egg”) 90 years before the events that took place in the HBO show.

Variety’s sources say that no writers or actors are attached to the project yet, but Tales of Dunk and Egg will be a high priority for the premium network as it attempts to recapture the magic of Game of Thrones.

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HBO’s next ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel might be ‘Tales of Dunk and Egg’ originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 21 Jan 2021 at 18:10:35 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Dr. Fauci says this is the only way to end the coronavirus pandemic

In a new coronavirus update White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci shared, he reiterated two things that have to happen in order for the coronavirus pandemic to end.
Dr. Fauci’s two solutions to the pandemic are no big secret — widespread vaccination and universal adherence to public health measures like face masks are the only things that he says will end the pandemic. Also Thursday, Dr. Fauci delivered a message to the World Health Organization emphasizing the US desire to remain a WHO partner under President Biden.

The day after President Biden was inaugurated and his new White House press secretary Jen Psaki promised that the administration would bring back “truth and transparency” in its briefings with the press, Biden himself shared a coronavirus update that put that promise into action. Whereas the Trump administration, for example, had disassembled, de-emphasized bad news, and tried to focus only on positive things before largely ignoring COVID news altogether, Biden told reporters on Thursday that the US is likely to pass another grim milestone in February — more than 500,000 lives lost as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Continuing his remarks with reporters on Thursday, Biden excoriated the COVID vaccine rollout that began under the Trump administration as “a dismal failure so far” and warned that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” Continued Biden: “Our plan is to restore public trust. We will make sure that … scientists and public health experts will speak directly to you. That’s why you’re going to be hearing a lot from Dr. Fauci again, not the President — from the real, genuine experts and scientists.” So, speaking from that, how about the latest from Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor?

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Dr. Fauci says this is the only way to end the coronavirus pandemic originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 21 Jan 2021 at 17:43:43 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Apple’s $549 AirPods Max already have a serious bug you should know about

Apple launched the AirPods Max just over a month ago, but some users are already reporting serious battery drain issues when they aren’t using the headphones. Some early adopters of the AirPods Max claim that their headphones have dropped from fully charged to nearly dead overnight, even while in the Smart Case. Apple has yet to address the issue and it’s unclear how widespread it might be.

Apple’s brand new AirPods Max were praised by critics upon release for their impressive build and sound quality, but the $549 headphones also have a rather serious flaw. As spotted by Dutch blog AppleTips (via 9to5Mac), some early adopters of the AirPods Max have reported significant battery drain issues with the headphones, with users claiming that the battery is dropping from 100% to 1% or even completely dead overnight.

One of the interesting quirks of the AirPods Max is that despite being full-sized, over-ear headphones, they don’t have a physical power button or switch. When you’re done using them, Apple expects you to place them in the Smart Case that ships alongside the headphones, at which point they “go into a low power mode immediately to preserve battery charge.” Unfortunately, that isn’t making a difference for some early adopters.

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Apple’s $549 AirPods Max already have a serious bug you should know about originally appeared on BGR.com on Thu, 21 Jan 2021 at 17:16:51 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.