Tag Archives: findings

Covid 19 coronavirus: Seafarers say an overloaded MIQ system is treating them unfairly | Instant News


Seafarers find they are caught in trouble when they have to reserve space in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility and want a change.

They are subject to a Managed Isolation Allocation System like most people crossing the New Zealand border. Currently booked through June.

But Nathan Schumacher and Geiri Petursson say seafarers’ jobs, where they often have poor internet access, and overloaded systems mean it’s almost “impossible” to book a place.

The pair want an allocation set in managed isolation for seafarers and feel like no one is advocating for them.

“That’s the only way,” said Petursson.

They also pointed out that New Zealand has signed an International Maritime Organization (IMO) protocol, which defines seafarers as essential workers.

However, this is not reflected in Government policy and seafarers are treated like everyone else. Meanwhile airline crew are excluded for the same reason.

Petursson, who was on a ship off the coast of Argentina, said gaining space was “impossible” because the system was not designed for people working in their positions.

Petursson left New Zealand on November 19 last year, and said he would normally work two months before returning home for the same length of time.

Instead, she has struck a deal with her employer to work for about six and a half months because of the pandemic. He works 12 hours per day, seven days a week.

“It’s testing to do that for six months.”

He has a visa to enter Argentina when his work ends, where he has to wait until he finds a place in managed isolation.

Petursson’s wife and child are in New Zealand and he thinks they want to see him in less than seven months.

“We are often on a very, very bad internet connection … we can’t see how we can get the vouchers,” he said.

Petursson said also having an Argentine visa put him in a privileged position, but was concerned about New Zealanders who could land, and was only granted a 24-hour transit visa before being expected to fly home.

He has a colleague who arrived in Myanmar at the weekend, where the coup started last week.

“The situation is quite scary,” he said. “Four days ago… he was still being told [by the Government] the situation does not meet the exclusion criteria of the voucher system.

“I don’t know what has to happen to meet those criteria.”

Schumacher’s situation was different. Offshore geotechnical engineers are still in New Zealand and completely skipping work as Australia recently suspended quarantine-free travel from New Zealand.

“It was a blessing in disguise for me because I would be in the same situation,” said Schumacher.

But if another job comes up soon, he will most likely leave: “Because I have to pay the mortgage.”

Schumacher says he speaks for people abroad. He’s set up an email account for stranded sailors to contact him, and in the past 24 hours some 50 Kiwis working overseas have found out about their struggles to reserve MIQ places.

“It shouldn’t be part of their job that they know that if they are gone for two months, it will actually be six to eight months before they go home.”

Schumacher said New Zealand could also violate the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006, which allows the unhindered return of seafarers to their country of residence.

MBIE, which keeps the isolation under control, and the Maritime Union of New Zealand were contacted for comment.

– Michael Neilson’s additional reporting

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Movie review: From the Vine, a film about finding yourself in Italy | Instant News


Joe Pantoliano starred in From the Vine. Photo / Provided

Joe Pantoliano has been taken to the meadow, literally, in a film about finding yourself in the Italian countryside. Pantoliano, who changed our minds in Christopher Nolan’s Memento, copied us in The Matrix, and ran with the masses in The Sopranos, now making wine in the beautiful Italian city of Acerenza.

Yes, Pantoliano’s career path is distinctive; Quality actors reach retirement age and horned shoes become “twilight films”. Think Diane Keaton, Bill Nighy, and, well, pretty much all of the Marigold Hotel cast. However, there is something interesting about the film “find yourself in retirement” that has caught the eye of its viewers – so much so that it has become a genre in itself and From the Vine has become firmly rooted in its center.

Based on Kenneth C. Cancellara’s book, Finding Marco, this film tells the story of Marco Gentile, a famous executive from Toronto who suddenly moves and moves to Italy to look after his late grandfather’s abandoned vineyard. Driven by the nostalgia for his upbringing and the heartless nature of his job, Marco’s late-life crisis reaches a climax where, among the sunbathing vines, he tries to make up for the environmentally destructive nature of the company he once worked for. revive the old vineyard.

From the Vine is in selected theaters now.  Photo / Provided
From the Vine is in selected theaters now. Photo / Provided

With its local centric plot and testing the moral consequences, I would expect to be treated to some raw Italian neo-realism (I think some film marketing even suggests this). But From the Vine couldn’t be further away from it, instead opting for an easy-to-digest comfortable feeling vibe that accidentally drops like a cheap red hue.

Cunning cinematography flaunts rural Italian landscapes with all the dream travel brochures – maybe not what we need in this non-tourist era, but it’s undeniably beautiful to look at.

Director Sean Cisterna, whose back catalog includes other sweet sentimental films like Kiss and Cry, looks right at home here. And while it never fully explores the theme and contains more of a cliché than cheap wine labels, From the Vine does have its essence in the right place. It also provides the perfect opportunity for Pantoliano (which is easily the best thing about the film) to dip his toes in the pool of an acting retired village. Come on, Joe, the water’s warm.

Reviewer: Toby Woollaston
Director: Sean Cisterna
Cast: Joe Pantoliano, Paula Brancati, Wendy Crewson
Runtime: 97 minutes
Censorship: M, Offensive language
Verdict: Very far from a full bodied drop but still quaffable in an inoffensive manner

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Viral-fighting antibodies persist in New Zealand’s Covid-19 patients | Instant News


Viral-fighting antibodies have been found in Kiwi Covid-19 patients for up to eight months after they were infected – a finding that could bode well for the upcoming vaccine rollout.

The new research, released before peer review, has also proven to be of global importance, given that antibodies persist even when no viruses are circulating in the community.

The study analyzed antibodies in a group of 112 New Zealand patients previously infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, most of whom had mild symptoms.

Antibodies play an important role in the immune system against pathogens such as the coronavirus.

Once a new virus is recognized, antibodies are specially crafted to bind to the “spike protein” and stop it from entering our cells – while signaling other parts of the immune system to destroy foreign invaders.

“Because antibodies are very specific for an invading pathogen or virus, they also provide a way to track and study a person’s history of infection,” said Dr. Nikki Moreland, an immunologist and biomedical scientist at the University of Auckland.

“In other words, by taking a blood sample of someone, and seeing if there are specific antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 in circulation, it’s possible to determine if they have previously had Covid-19.”

This is useful for diagnosis – especially when the swab has no more virus due to infection several weeks or months ago.

“By studying the level and function of circulating antibodies, it is also possible to determine whether a person has the types of antibodies that might provide protection if they encounter certain viruses or pathogens again.”

The new collaborative study, carried out by PhD student Alana Whitcombe and research scientist Dr Reuben McGregor on the Moreland team, investigates not only the quantity of antibodies in previously infected people – but also their quality.

“Specifically, do people have antibodies that bind to viral spike proteins, can these antibodies neutralize the virus, and how long do these antibodies last?” McGregor said.

In the laboratory, the researchers measured levels of circulating antibodies that bind to spike proteins, as well as whether those antibodies neutralized.

“Since we had samples from people who were infected months earlier, we can use this measurement to see how long the antibodies last.”

Antibodies play an important role in the immune system against pathogens such as the coronavirus.  Photo / 123RF
Antibodies play an important role in the immune system against pathogens such as the coronavirus. Photo / 123RF

“The good news is we observed that the majority of people have neutralizing antibodies that bind to the spike protein and they can be detected for up to eight months after infection.”

While overseas research shows this too, the main difference is that this effect has been demonstrated in countries where Covid-19 has been successfully eliminated.

“People in New Zealand are not re-exposed to the virus like they are in countries with high community transmission rates,” Moreland said.

When someone is re-exposed, he explained, their immune system boosts, which can affect levels of circulating antibodies.

That makes similar data from abroad more difficult to interpret, given it’s unclear whether antibodies were there simply as a result of re-exposure.

“In New Zealand we are fortunate not to have that problem to consider when looking at our data,” said Moreland.

“We believe the antibodies we measured came from the initial infection, so seeing these antibodies last up to eight months was really encouraging.”

What does the vaccine launch mean?

Moreland said the study offers some “positive signals”, given the data from vaccine trials showing the agent induces similar – and in some cases higher – levels of neutralizing antibodies for natural infections.

“So the protection from the vaccine is also likely to last for months and maybe even longer,” he said.

“But we are still studying in real-time, every month we see that the antibodies last one month longer.

“Also, there are several different vaccines and it is important to track the antibody response to different vaccines to measure whether there is a difference in the quality and quantity of the antibodies they produce, and how long the neutralizing antibodies to vaccines last.”

Further studies showed that scientists could accurately measure spike antibodies from finger prick blood samples.

“This could drastically improve the feasibility of large-scale studies to track vaccine antibody responses.” Whitcombe said.

The paper, uploaded to medRxiv’s pre-print server, involved doctors and scientists from the University of Otago, New Zealand Blood Service, Te Punaha Matatini, Callaghan Innovations, the Maurice Wilkins Center, Southern Community Laboratory and the City of Auckland, Starship and Kidz First Children’s Hospital .

“This work would not have been possible without a national network of doctors, nurses, researchers and scientists and highlighted the collaborative nature of New Zealand’s science during the pandemic,” said Moreland.

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No word on the findings of the three high profile commissions | Instant News



ISLAMABAD: Nothing has been officially disclosed about the fate of the three commissions set up with excitement to investigate serious indictments or resolve major national issues. At least two forums were given a specific period of time to complete their assignment, and the deadline has long since passed.

In July this year, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government established a three-member investigation commission to investigate allegations against Ajmal Wazir following his dismissal as information adviser to Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. The commission is asked to submit its report within 30 days. At the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Mahmood Khan has dismissed advisors and formed a commission.

Ajmal Wazir is accused of taking commissions and deductions from an advertising agency. By that time, damning audio recordings had emerged prompting action against him. Ajmal Wazir and others, believed to be the owners of the advertising agency, were heard discussing a project, its costs and taxes over the alleged amount of bribes. The adviser expressed displeasure at having to pay general sales tax on his share of the alleged commission.

Ajmal Wazir and others later claimed that the conversation had been edited and put together to give the false impression that they were negotiating a deal.

The KP government has established such a body under the Investigative Court Ordinance, 1969. They are required to determine the authenticity or otherwise of the audio clip through forensic analysis and / or other indirect evidence if any; inspect the procurement under discussion in the audio clip and conduct a thorough review of the awarding process and subsequent procurement execution to determine errors and irregularities, if any, and the person responsible, if any. So far there has been no news regarding the commission’s findings.

In June 2019, a Commission of Inquiry was formed by Prime Minister Imran Khan to investigate the use of loans taken from 2008 to 2018 by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) during their respective terms. Hussain Asghar, who was deputy chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), was appointed head and asked to complete his report within six months.

It is mandated to correct responsibility for illegality or irregularity and refer it to the relevant agency or department for prosecution of those responsible. The Commission is directed to investigate and investigate the award or performance of a contract or agreement or project and whether any debt was taken for a particular project or undertaking and the allocated money was then spent and spent on it or not.

It is tasked with examining whether the terms and conditions of any public contract are tainted or benevolent or artificially inflated to facilitate bribery, and if so, for whose benefit.

It is geared towards seeing if any public office holders or their spouses, children and anyone connected with them are spending any public funds to meet personal or private expenses beyond what has been permitted under laws and regulations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who formed the commission, wanted to know why Pakistan’s total debt and liabilities, which were less than Rs7,000 billion in 2017, had risen to Rs30,000 billion in 2018 when PML-N came to power. He alleges that this enormous debt was added by the PPP and PML-N governments recently to increase the wealth of their top leaders.

In May this year, it was reported that the commission had submitted its report to the prime minister. However, if true, the findings are yet to be published. One report also claims that the forum has found no cases of borrowed funds going into the pockets of any key politician or bureaucrat. All of the receipts showed that the funds went to government accounts. The report stated that the agency had found no cases of fraud and corruption.

During the tenure of the previous two administrations, leading economist Dr Waqar Masood Khan, who in October this year was made special assistant by Prime Minister Imran Khan on revenue, has worked in a top position handling negotiations for this loan.

A third body, the National Financial Commission (NFC), was created in May this year. President Arif Alvi notified the formation of 11 members of the National Finance Commission (NFC) to announce a new award for the sharing of federal resources that can be shared between the Center and the provinces. However, the move caused controversy at the start due to authorization from Financial Advisor Hafeez Shaikh to chair the NFC meeting. The Sindh government registered its protest by writing letters to the prime minister on this and other matters.

Disputes also erupted over the selection of Javed Jabbar as a non-legal member to represent Balochistan on NFC. The problem was also brought to court. As a result, Javed Jabbar withdrew his candidacy. In July, Balochistan appointed leading economist Kaiser Bengali as its non-official member. Since then, nothing has been heard about NFC; nothing organized and no requests for Commission meetings.

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Hospitals are facing difficulty finding volunteers for clinical trials of the Chinese vaccine | Instant News



Long before the development and availability of the Covid-19 vaccine, resistance had started to emerge in Pakistan where five tertiary care health facilities that were approached to conduct Phase 3 trials of the Chinese vaccine had difficulty recruiting volunteers for trials.

Phase 3 trials for the Chinese vaccine, CanSino Biological, have started at Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad, University of Health Sciences (UHS) and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Research Center and Hospital (SKMCH & RC), Lahore, and Aga Khan Hospital and the Indus Karachi Hospital after Pakistan’s drug regulator last month gave the green light for the country’s first clinical trial for the CanSino candidate, Ad5-nCoV, led by the National Institute of Health (NIH) together with pharmaceutical company AJM – a local representative of CanSino.

“Yes, there are obstacles in convincing people to volunteer for vaccine trials. There is a misconception in people’s minds as if they were made guinea pigs due to conspiracy theories about Covid-19 on social media. But we are continuing towards our target of 10,000 volunteers in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, ”said one of the principal investigators (PIs) from the clinical trial site in Pakistan.

Health officials, who requested anonymity, said that because of the reluctance among people to volunteer for clinical trials, they approached public health facilities in all three cities. He added that they need media support to convince people that this is a good opportunity for Pakistan and its people because this experiment will help in developing a vaccine that will be tested on them rather than people from other parts of the world.

“For the first time, a phase 3 vaccine clinical trial is being conducted in Pakistan, and it will help in learning about the immune response it generates among local people. The success of these trials will open the door to more trials in the country. In other parts of the world, people volunteer for trials like this as a tremendous service to mankind, “said the infectious disease (ID) expert and added that so far CanSino has proven safe and no adverse events have been reported. even in the world.

The other two principal clinical trial investigators – Dr Salma Abbas from Shaukat Khanum Hospital and Dr Faisal Mehmood from Aga Khan Karachi Hospital – also admitted that people are hesitant to volunteer for the clinical trial, but they hope the situation will improve in the coming days when people know about its importance.

“Yes and no, every day we are increasing. It takes time to get the word out to people. You can help spread this word, ”said Dr Faisal Mehmood of AKUH when asked if they had any difficulty recruiting volunteers for clinical trials in Karachi.

Vaccine for Pakistan 20 pc

Pakistan will get CanSino vaccine for 20 percent of its population or at least 200 million doses once approved after successful trials and other formalities, Prof Dr Aamer Ikram, executive director, National Institutes of Health (NIH), said while speaking at an online seminar or webinar about the launch. Covid-19 vaccine trials in Pakistan.

Speaking to participants in the webinar, organized by the Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Society of Pakistan (MMIDSP), Prof. Aamer Ikram said Covid-19 is a challenge for Pakistan, but there is a need to turn this challenge into an opportunity.

He added that they have completed all the formalities for clinical trials and it is now up to people to register themselves so a vaccine can be available at the earliest.

Dr Faisal Mehmood spoke about the facts and myths of vaccines, saying it is not true that people will catch the coronavirus by getting the vaccine. He also dispelled the impression that Pakistanis were being used as guinea pigs for vaccine development.

“We are the lucky country that this trial was carried out in Pakistan. This is a great opportunity for us. It is not true that this vaccine has many side effects, “he said, adding that this vaccine would not be available by the end of the year.

It is also wrong to believe that this vaccine will end the pandemic, he said, adding that the vaccine would likely reduce the severity of the infection.

MMIDSP President Dr Bushra Jamil said vaccines were a great discovery that prevented billions of people from contracting the deadly disease while they had been helping humanity to eliminate diseases like chickenpox and polio from most parts of the world.

He stated that this was the first time in Pakistan clinical trials of a vaccine had been conducted, and volunteering could be part of a study on the safety and efficacy of this important vaccine.

Dr Naseem Salahuddin from the Indus Health Network, Dr Ejaz Khan from Shifa Islamabad International Hospital, Dr Salma Abbas and Dr Shehnoor Azhar also spoke.

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