China says US has ordered it to close Houston consulate in what it calls a provocation that violates

China says US has ordered it to close Houston consulate in what it calls a provocation that violates

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Associated Press

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

BEIJING (AP) – China says US has ordered it to close Houston consulate in what it calls a provocation that violates international law.

NIH identify genomic features differentiating novel coronavirus from other animal-derived viruses

NIH identify genomic features differentiating novel coronavirus from other animal-derived viruses

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This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus … more >

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By Shen Wu Tan

The Washington Times

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Researchers have pinpointed genomic characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease, from other coronaviruses that cause less severe diseases, according to a statement Thursday by the National Institutes of Health.

By comparing the genome of SARS-CoV-2 virus to other coronaviruses, the researchers identified protein features that are unique to SARS-CoV-2 and two other coronaviruses strains with high fatality rates, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

“This research could be a crucial step in helping scientists develop approaches to predict, by genome analysis alone, the severity of future coronavirus disease outbreaks and detect animal coronaviruses that have the potential to infect humans,” says an NIH press release.

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The genomic features include insertions of certain stretches of amino acids into two virus proteins called the nucleocapsid and the spike. They are found in all three of these higher fatality coronaviruses and their closest relatives that infect animals such as bats and correspond to the virus’ ability to jump from animals to humans. The protein features are not found in four other human coronaviruses that cause non-fatal disease.

Finding the insertions in the spike protein, which could help recognize coronavirus receptors on human cells and when they penetrate into these cells, in animal coronavirus isolates could help predict the transmission to humans and the severity of disease, the NIH statement says.

“This innovative research is critical to improve researchers’ understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and aid in the response to COVID-19,” said Patricia Flatley Brennan, NIH’s National Library of Medicine director. “Predictions made through this analysis can inform possible targets for diagnostics and interventions.”

COVID-19 has infected more than 7 million people and killed more than 410,000 globally as of Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.

Health experts estimate that COVID-19 has a fatality rate of about 3%. Officials say SARS has a case-fatality rate of about 15% while MERS has an estimated mortality rate of 35%.

Potential vaccine shown to protect monkeys from coronavirus

Potential vaccine shown to protect monkeys from coronavirus

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In this Wednesday, April 8, 2020 photo provided by the Center for Pharmaceutical Research, a pharmacy technologist using a biosafety level 2 hood prepares a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine candidate for testing in Kansas City, Mo. This early safety study, called … more >

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By Shen Wu Tan

The Washington Times

Friday, May 15, 2020

A potential vaccine has proven to protect monkeys from pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the National Institutes of Health and University of Oxford.

The results have not been peer-reviewed, but a phase one trial began April 23 in healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom.

The pharmaceutical industry and health officials around the world are racing to find a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. President Trump said Friday that he enlisting the government, manufacturers and the military to secure a vaccine before the end of the year in his campaign, called “Operation Warp Speed.”

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The vaccine was developed at the University of Oxford Jenner Institute. Oxford has partnered with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca for the further development, large-scale manufacturing and possible distribution of the vaccine.

In the study, six rhesus macaques were injected with a single dose of the vaccine called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 28 days before being infected with SARS-CoV-2 and compared to three control animals that did not receive the vaccine. The vaccinated animals showed no signs of virus replication in the lungs, significantly lower levels of respiratory disease and no lung damage compared to the control animals, NIH said Friday.

The researchers posted their data to the preprint server bioRxiv. The data can be found here.

The vaccine uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee adenovirus to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 protein to induce a protective immune response. ChAdOx1 has been used to develop investigational vaccines against several pathogens, including the coronavirus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

The scientists adjusted the platform to SARS-CoV-2 when the first cases of COVID-19 appeared. The vaccine rapidly induced immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 in mice and rhesus macaques. The research team then tested the vaccine’s effectiveness on the macaques at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana.

Ex-Cleveland Clinic employee charged with hiding China ties to collect taxpayer-funded grants

Feds charge researcher with hiding China ties to collect taxpayer-funded grants

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The Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington is photographed early in the morning on May 14, 2013. (Associated Press) **FILE** more >

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By Jeff Mordock

The Washington Times

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Federal prosecutors Thursday charged a former Cleveland Clinic employee with fraud, saying he lied about his ties to a Chinese university while collecting more than $3.6 million in taxpayer-funded grants.

The charges against Qing Wang come as the Justice Department continues to crack down on Chinese efforts to pilfer American research and technology.

Dr. Wang is charged with false claims and wire fraud.

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Dr. Wang, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen who specializes in genetics and cardiovascular research, has worked at the distinguished Cleveland Clinic since 1997.

Prosecutors said Dr. Wang accepted grants from the National Institutes of Health while concealing that he was the dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology at Huazhong University of Science and Technology.

Dr. Wang also received funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China for the same research the NIH was funding, prosecutors said.

The alleged misstatements led NIH to approve and fund grants Dr. Wang would not otherwise have been eligible to receive, according to the criminal complaint.

“Dr. Wang deliberately failed to disclose his Chinese grants and foreign positions and even engaged in a pervasive pattern of fraud to avoid criminal culpability,” said Eric Smith, head of the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Prosecutors also allege that Dr. Wang was a participant in China’s Thousand Talents Plan, a controversial program that recruits overseas researchers to boost the country’s science and technology.

The Trump administration has long accused the Thousand Talents Plan of being a veiled effort to pilfer U.S. technology.

Dr. Wang’s participation in the Thousand Talents program resulted in China providing $3 million in research support to enhance his facilities at the Chinese university, prosecutors said. He also received free travel and lodging, including a three-bedroom apartment on campus for his personal use, because of his involvement in the Thousand Talents program, prosecutors said.

The Cleveland Clinic said that it had fired Dr. Wang after it was revealed he allegedly hid his ties to China.

Cleveland Clinic has cooperated fully with the NIH and with federal law enforcement as they conducted their own investigations into these same subjects and will continue to do so,” it said in a statement.