First phase of human clinical trials shows Oxford Vaccine induces immune response
In the race to create a vaccine for COVID-19, Oxford Univesiry and AstraZeneca have this week announced that the human clinical trials show great promise.
When administered to patients in a controlled environment, the vaccine caused minor side effects in some cases which were reduced by taking paracetamol.
The team’s vaccine shows such promise that the UK government has done a deal to secure 100 million doses of the drug once it is ready.
Whilst the trials hold promise, it is still widely debated as to how far a vaccine could manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew Pollard, the Oxford professor leading the research “We need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against SARS-CoV-2 infection, and for how long any protection lasts.”
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is one of the leading candidates among several others around the world, including an injection being developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, another from state-owned Chinese firm Sinopharm and one from US biotech firm Moderna.
It is thought that an effective vaccine would see an end to lockdowns and travel restrictions across the globe.
Wearing a mask is a display of patriotism, according to Trump
Italy to receive €210 billion stimulus package to help with post coronavirus economic recovery
The European Union have this week unveiled a €750bn stimulus package to help get the hardest hit corners of Europe back on their feet again in a post-coronavirus world. 28% of the funds, which are made up of both grants and a repayable loan, will be shared with Italy, whose economy had been expected to shrink up to 11% this year.
South Sea Bubble Border Security… over the top?
Australia and New Zealand have recorded an extremely low number of COVID-19 cases in the pandemic — in part because they are very isolated islands and in part because they closed their borders early on and they have remained tightly shut.
Now in Australia these borders are being erected internally as cases spike in states like Victoria. Communities have been confined within tower blocks, suburbs and cities, and state borders have been sealed. Those who ignore these draconian rules heavily are fined and threatened with prison.
Australia’s Border security forces have always been tough and need no encouragement to do their job. Check out a recent report here.
Look out for our forthcoming documentary on the history of pandemics, Hope and Fear: How Pandemics Changed the World.
Borders are certainly not new in history. Check out our Globe Guides – Borderlines show about the barriers that separate the world.
Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics
Brazilian COVID-19 deaths top 80,000. President Bolsanaro has voiced concerns surrounding lockdown restrictions and how they are killing the economy. Bolsanaro, having tested positive for the virus himself, has criticised the states and municipalities who are locking down, saying that “Without salaries and jobs, people die,”.
India’s biggest airline, IndiGo, has announced job cuts for up to 10% of its workforce as planes largely continue to remain grounded.
USA coronavirus cases are rapidly approaching 4 million.
Main image: Injection needle with Vaccination text, Marco Verch, Flickr Creative Commons
Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 24, 2020
Japan Launches Worlds Most Powerful Supercomputer To Find Cure
Japan’s new so-called ‘Fugaku’ supercomputer, which has this week been declared the most powerful in the world, is to be used to search for a potential cure for the coronavirus.
The machine is capable of performing 513 quadrillion complicated mathematical operations every second. Fugaku requires 28 megawatts to run – more than two Eurostar trains!
Although it won’t be fully operational until next year, the team leading the project have already used it to run simulations on how cough and sneeze droplets spread through office spaces and public transport.
The White House’s expert on infectious diseases has warned the US is experiencing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr Fauci has highlighted recent spikes in states such as Florida and Texas, which are largely reopening businesses despite reporting thousands of cases per day.
Dr Fauci’s comments come following President Trump’s apparent desire to slow testing in order to slow the reporting of new cases.
Speaking at a campaign rally on Saturday, the President remarked: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases,” the president said. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”
Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics
IMF expects global economic activity to decline by 5% in 2020, owing to the damage caused by large scale economic shut downs and the compromises that must be made by surviving businesses away from efficiency and in favour of heightened workplace safety and hygiene measures.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants in England will be allowed to reopen on 4 July.The government and the industry hope that gyms can reopen in mid-July, subject to health guidance.
A sharp increase in cases in Latin America in the second half of May led the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the Americas were the new centre of the pandemic. But there have also been new spikes in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Main image: Discover Supercomputer 3, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Flickr Creative Commons
According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.
The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.
In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.
Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.
Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers
Tips For Coping During Lockdown
It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!
John Krasinski of The Office has launched aYouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.
The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.
70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions
Schedule video calls with loved ones
Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.
Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.
In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!
If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.
Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!
Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.
Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions
Make a zero-sum budget
Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!
If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.
It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.
Clean out your closet
Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!
Get creative in the kitchen
Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!
We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons
Working from home
Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:
Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
Take a lunch break!
Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.
Furloughed or on leave
Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.
As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.
Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!
Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions
Smoke From Australia’s Fires Will Make Full Circuit Around The Globe
The smoke from the recent bush fires on the east coast of Australia will continue to push across the Pacific and will eventually make at least one full circuit around the globe, according to NASA.
The space agency has used satellites to map the trajectory of the smoke which has so far affected New Zealand and parts of South America.
The smoke has travelled so high into the atmosphere it has moved into the stratosphere, the second atmospheric layer surrounding the earth, which could cause unprecedented and rapid changes in global atmospheric conditions. NASA added that the volume of smoke being released into the atmosphere is also responsible for multiple pyrocumulonimbus events – or fire-generated thunderstorms.
The agency is studying the effects of smoke at this altitude and whether it provides “a net atmospheric cooling or warming”.
In this tragic spell of bush fires, over 2000 homes have been destroyed and 28 people killed. The air quality of those living in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra are experiencing severely diminished air quality which has been deemed ‘hazardous’ on several occasions by Australian officials. The is wide concern over public health.
Some of the harmful gasses released from the fires include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides. There is also great concern for the ultra-fine particles released into the atmosphere — invisible to the naked eye but able to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Officials have warned that face masks alone are not enough protection from these harmful particles, and has urged people to refrain from exercising outdoors.
Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research
7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.
The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.
Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.
The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.
This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.
The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.
Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons
All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans
10 eager members of the public have set off on the first leg of an around the world journey to research and assess the extent of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and to explore creative solutions to clean it up. The team hope to build knowledge to inform scientists, legislators and the public alike on how the problem can be tackled for generations to come.
The all-female and multidisciplinary crew departed from Plymouth, UK – the same port that 18th century explorer Captain Cook set sail from on his round the world journey – and will sail for a planned 11 days to the Azores before their first stop. The Azores are a group of 9 islands, which are volcanic in origin and a famed north-east Atlantic deep-sea coral hotspot.
Each of the 13 legs around the world will see a new set of women set sail for the cause, and in total over 300 women will participate in the project which is expected to take 2 years to complete.
Mission Director Emily Penn’s motivations don’t stop there – eXXpedition also hopes to raise awareness of a lack of female participation in STEM professions, to research female-specific diseases caused by plastic and chemical pollution in greater depth, and to encourage female participation and positive coverage in all-female sailing and the wider sporting community.
The UK registered Community Interest Company have been sailing for these causes since 2014, though this is their first journey of such scale. The team are supported by multiple sponsors from environment companies to firms in the technology and legal sector. Many of the ladies on board are also sponsored personally by smaller community groups and businesses local to their homes.
Each stop along the voyage will not only involve research, but also talks, panel discussions, community clean-ups and send-off parties in hope of bringing together passionate individuals who are all working towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.
You can follow the progress of the boat, S.V. TravelEdge, and all of the fantastic ladies on their regular blog which they are completing at sea, no matter how perilous the conditions!
Rising out of jungle across the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico are the ruins of dozens of Mayan cities. Most of these ruins are at least 1,200 years old, dating back to the glory days of the Maya around 700 AD.
Discovered though largely ignored by Spanish conquistadors during their Aztec conquest in the 16th century, it was 300 years later, in the 19th century, when European explorers ‘discovered’, and subsequently took the time to investigate and learn the ways to unlock the wonders of this fascinating pre Hispanic civilization.
A great Mayan structure
Today the sites of Chichenitza, Tulum, Palenque and Uxmal are internationally famous but scores of other sites remain little known and visited.
One such site, Coba, about two hours drive south of Cancun, and one hour west of Tulum, is home to the largest Mayan pyramid in Mexico, which visitors can still climb.
Coba was an important Mayan city, evidenced by the many raised stone roads linking its buildings which stretch out across a 120 square kilometre site. Here you can see two Mayan ball courts where the Mayans played their ingenious ball game, pelota. Then bicycle or walk along enchanting paths encased by the jungle canopy to visit the imposing Nohoch Mul, at 138 feet the highest Mayan structure in the Yucatan.
Sak Ch’een, lord of Motul de San José c.8th century, dressed as a ball player with a large yoke, painted deerskin hip guards, and elaborate headdress. He is dropping onto his knee to strike the ball, which is probably exaggerated to huge proportions. Photograph by Madman2001
For how long tourists will be allowed to clamber up the steps of this awesome structure remains to be seen as the Mexican authorities step up their efforts to preserve the wonders of this magnificent pre Hispanic civilization.
A world-first in Uruguay… although a controversial world-first. Tabare Vazquez’s victory in the country’s presidential election means the governing coalition’s plan to create the world’s first state-run marijuana marketplace will now move forward. Unique Uruguay … an interesting move indeed; one that will position the region as the most liberal in the worldin terms of accessible marijuana.
Whether you agree with it or not, Uruguay itself is a fascinating destination – find out more here.