Today is the day that the United States formally withdraws from the Paris Agreement

first_img– Advertisement – The Paris Agreement, like previous climate agreements, was really supposed to start leading to some real changes, beginning with another round of meetings in 2018. Meetings the U.S. skipped. The absence of the United States from these talks has been a major factor in preventing real progress. And still, the whole world has benefited from plunging prices of wind and solar that has made them cheaper than merely maintaining a coal-fired power plant, much less building a new one. In many cases, that’s meant nations have actually exceeded the goals they originally set for the Paris Agreement—without really having to try.Which only shows we’re not trying hard enough. Despite the way that Trump painted the agreement as some kind of burden that would destroy the economy, the truth is that each nation participating in the Paris Agreement sets its own goals, makes its own plan, and reports its own progress. There is nothing in the agreement that forces a country to reach a specific target, or even set a specific target.If there is a criticism to be leveled against the the Paris Agreement, it’s that it’s far too weak to accomplish the self-described goals of holding increases in the global average temperature to below 2 °C while looking for ways to reduce it still further. There is no mechanism in the agreement to constrain, fine, or punish those who violate the terms. It’s essentially a global gesture of goodwill, in which everyone acknowledges the importance of the goal; promises to take some action, however trivial; and agrees to enough transparency to explain the data on how it’s approaching the goal.- Advertisement –center_img But even before Donald Trump, that was too much for many on the far right. The simple fact that the Paris Agreement acknowledges that humans caused climate change is a problem, and that there are steps that can be taken to address that problem, is a step way too far for them, even if it means no one takes action. It’s like admitting that guns kill people. It might not regulate anything, but it gives people a reason why it could be regulated. Naturally, Trump set out to paint the Paris Agreement as a huge international intrusion into the U.S. economy, and also one that, somehow, helped China. Even though China, like every other nation, was just setting its own goals, making its own commitments, and offering up its own data. To do this, he could lean back onto a solid year of lies coughed up by Fox News, right-wing radio, and social media, all of them bolstered by “facts” provided by the helpful people of the fossil fuel industry.So today is the day. We’re out. That’ll show them … something something.- Advertisement –last_img read more


California Prop 22 win improves DoorDash, Instacart IPO prospects

first_imgFood delivery companies DoorDash and Instacart have a clearer path to the public markets after scoring a critical ballot victory in California.With the passage of Proposition 22 this week, the San Francisco-based start-ups will be exempt from a new labor law in California that requires companies to classify certain workers — including delivery drivers — as employees instead of contractors. DoorDash and Instacart, along with ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, were so committed to winning that they made it the most expensive ballot measure in California history.Both delivery companies are considered among the top IPO candidates for 2021. In October, Instacart raised $200 million at a $17.7 billion valuation, up from $7.9 billion at the start of the year. DoorDash raised $400 million at a $16 billion valuation in June.- Advertisement – A shopper prepares fill his cart at a Giant supermarket in Washington, DC, April 6, 2020.Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post via Getty Images) – Advertisement – Of the roughly $190 million that companies spent on Yes on Prop 22, close to $48 million came from DoorDash and over $27 million from Instacart, according to the California Secretary of State’s website.Uber and Lyft, which went public last year, jumped 15% and 11%, respectively, on Wednesday after the favorable outcome.Even with these gains, both companies are trading below their IPO price and have struggled to gain investor confidence because they lose billions of dollars a year. The Covid 19 pandemic has also hurt their core ride-sharing businesses, as demand for consumer travel and work commutes plunged, although Uber’s decline was tempered somewhat by its growing delivery business. – Advertisement –center_img Instacart and DoorDash are in a better position financially because they exclusively deliver food (and, in Instacart’s case, groceries). Demand for delivery services has skyrocketed as the Covid-19 pandemic has kept many people at home for the last eight months.Even so, offering all drivers benefits like paid sick leave and unemployment protection would have been hugely expensive to both companies.‘Huge cloud’“There was a huge cloud over hanging over their head,” said Larry Albukerk, managing partner of EB Exchange Funds, which facilitates trades in private tech companies.Though Albukerk doesn’t transact in their stocks, he said he sees a lot of investor demand for shares of DoorDash and Instacart in the private market and expects that to translate into good public market performance. But he said investors will be more conservative after seeing the poor stock market showings from Uber and Lyft. WeWork was also forced to pull its IPO in September 2019, giving investors another reason to be cautious.“The fact that Lyft and Uber didn’t quite meet expectations means maybe you have to readjust the expectations,” Albukerk said.Instacart didn’t respond to a request for comment. In an emailed statement, DoorDash CEO Tony Xu called passage of the measure a win for customers, drivers and restaurants.“Californians sided with drivers, recognizing the importance of flexible work and the critical need to extend new benefits and protections to drivers like Dashers,” Xu wrote. “We look forward to partnering with workers, policymakers, community groups, and more to make this a reality.”Natalie Hwang, founding managing partner at investment firm Apeira Capital, said the passage of Prop 22 removes a potential existential threat to the companies and allows them to keep their labor costs in check as they prepare to go public. However, she warned that profitability will remain a challenge, making DoorDash and Instacart very risky bets.They also will have to provide some added benefits as part of Prop 22, like minimum earnings guarantee and some health-care coverage.“These are still fairly tough models to operate profitably at scale, and viability is still a question,” Hwang said. “Investors should still look at these stocks with some degree of caution.”WATCH: What California’s Prop 22 could mean for tech companies in other states Uber and Lyft this yearCNBC – Advertisement –last_img read more


U.S. Tried a More Aggressive Cyberstrategy, and the Feared Attacks Never Came

first_img– Advertisement – Now, nearly a week after the polls closed, it is clear that all the warnings of a crippling cyberattack on election infrastructure, or an overwhelming influence operation aimed at American voters, did not come to pass. There were no breaches of voting machines and only modest efforts, it appears, to get inside registration systems. Interviews with government officials and other experts suggest a number of reasons for the apparent success. Once the election is officially certified, the military will complete its “after action” reports. The most interesting will most likely be classified. But in interviews with a variety of key players, a few lessons are already emerging. Updated Nov. 9, 2020, 4:46 p.m. ET Mr. Krebs, said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, “made the case to registrars and secretaries of state around the country, including some pretty right-wing ones, that the threat was real.” Another big change in strategy this year was a willingness to expose adversaries publicly. It is something the Obama administration was also reluctant to do in 2016, when it avoided naming China as the country that stole 22 million files on government employees, or Russia as the source of attacks on the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department.This year, William R. Evanina, the official put in charge of election security by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, called out Russia, China and Iran for their efforts to interfere in the elections.Though criticized by Democrats for not being specific enough, and appearing to equate Iran with much more talented cyberadversaries, Mr. Evanina’s releases put both the public and America’s rivals on notice about what was afoot, including warning that Russia was again trying to assist Mr. Trump.Mr. Evanina’s announcements in July and August were followed by an announcement in October by John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, that Russian groups had probed state and local networks and that Iran had tried to influence the election by sending spoofed emails as part of a campaign he said was intended to hurt Mr. Trump.“Naming and shaming the bad actors that are trying to mess with us is a key part of a coherent deterrence strategy,” said Representative Mike Gallagher, the Wisconsin Republican who along with Mr. King led the Cybersecurity Solarium Commission.Mr. Ratcliffe’s announcement was followed by Cyber Command’s secret operations to interfere with the operations of the Russian group and take down, at least temporarily, the Iranian hacking group tied to Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.American officials said that while Iran opposed Mr. Trump’s re-election, its hackers were hardly playing at Russia’s level. The emails and text messages they tried to send to Americans contained so many spelling, syntax and grammatical errors that they seemed unlikely to fool their targets. Even had they not been taken offline, they posed no threat to turn the result of the elections. It is evidence of why Iran, as multiple U.S. officials noted, remains far less of a threat than Russia.Iran’s actions were an attempt to “rattle our cage” and not a real attempt to change outcomes, said Glenn S. Gerstell, a former general counsel of the National Security Agency. Nicole Perlroth contributed reporting. One may be that the United States’ chief adversaries were deterred, convinced that the voting infrastructure was so hardened, Facebook and Twitter were so on alert, and Cyber Command and a small group of American companies were so on the offensive that it was not worth the risk.- Advertisement – Mr. Trump and his allies, it turns out, were the chief purveyors of the kind of election misinformation that the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security and American intelligence officials were warning about. He was also the one actor they could not mention, much less try to neutralize. That was left to the online platforms, mostly Twitter, which placed warnings on many of his posts. From its sprawling new war room inside Fort Meade, not far from Baltimore-Washington International Airport in Maryland, United States Cyber Command dived deep into Russian and Iranian networks in the months before the election, temporarily paralyzing some and knocking ransomware tools offline.Then it stole Iran’s game plan and, without disclosing the intelligence coup behind the theft, made public a part of Tehran’s playbook when the Iranians began to carry it out.- Advertisement – But there is another explanation as well: In the 2020 election the distinction between foreign and domestic interference blurred. From early in the campaign, President Trump did more to undermine confidence in the system’s integrity than America’s rivals could have done themselves.And in the aftermath, Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations, amplified by conservative news media outlets, have only intensified, leaving the Russians and the Iranians with the relatively easy task of bouncing his messages back into the echo chamber of social media.“A lot of the disinformation that voters consume originates from within our own country,” said Jeh C. Johnson, a secretary of homeland security under President Barack Obama. “All foreign adversaries need to do is aid and abet and amplify.”- Advertisement – In an Election Day conversation with journalists, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, the commander of Cyber Command and the director of the National Security Agency, said he was “very confident in the actions that have been taken against adversaries over the last several weeks and several months to ensure they are not going to interfere in our elections.”He said the National Security Agency was also watching for efforts by foreign adversaries to prod extremist groups to violence — a concern that remains.Yet over the subsequent few days, before the election was called in favor of Joseph R. Biden Jr., General Nakasone and other officials avoided questions about whether their commander in chief was feeding the very forces they were working to defeat.In interviews, Democrats and Republicans who have been deeply involved in the effort to harden American defenses and put the United States on offense say it is possible that the country is beginning to figure out what works to deter cyberattacks.They give credit to General Nakasone and Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Krebs spent the past two years persuading states and social media companies to bolster their defenses against attacks. The first is that General Nakasone’s aggressive new posture — which Cyber Command describes with terms like “persistent engagement” and “defend forward” — may be working. The phrases refer to going deep inside the computer networks of adversaries, whether that means the Internet Research Agency, the Russia-based group that mounted the 2016 influence campaigns; the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence agency; or Iran’s increasingly active cybercorps.Once inside, Cyber Command can use its access to hunt for operations that are being planned — or to conduct what amount to pre-emptive strikes.The United States has launched such strikes before, of course, against Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea’s missiles and, during the 2018 elections, the Internet Research Agency, which ran the influence campaign that aided Mr. Trump in 2016. But there was no significant cyberretaliation, at least that became public, ordered by the Obama administration surrounding the 2016 election, even though the administration knew that Russian actors were stealing data and scanning voter registration systems.This time General Nakasone did not wait for much evidence to roll in before acting.He went after Trickbot, a widely used set of tools written by Russian-speaking criminal groups that he believed could be used to lock up registration systems or computer sites of secretaries of state, which count ballots.So did Microsoft, which obtained court orders against Trickbot. Together, the military and private sector actions, which appear to have been largely uncoordinated, disrupted the network of the criminal groups in October, leaving them hampered in any potential attacks against election infrastructure. Officials familiar with the operations say there were also attacks directed at a Russian state-run group called Energetic Bear, or Dragonfly, that has long been inside American electric utilities and has redirected its hacking skills toward state and local governments.Senator Angus King, a Maine independent who helped lead a bipartisan effort to draw lessons from the rising tempo of cyberattacks, said Cyber Command’s more active approach had an effect. “I have felt for years what was lacking in our cyberdefense was a deterrent,” Mr. King said. “And we are getting closer to having that deterrent. I want our adversaries to have to think hard about what they are going to do because they know there is going to be some results that will be a cost to be paid.”General Nakasone would not confirm specific operations. But he said he would take his victories in small doses, by knocking adversaries offline, even temporarily, to make it hard for them to launch an attack. “I look at it more as are we imposing a degree of costs that is making it more difficult for them to do their operations?” he said.So did Mr. Krebs, who worked on shoring up defenses at home.Mostly that meant placing federal government sensors on many computer networks and getting cities and states, which were easy targets four years ago, to toughen up. By the week before the election, Mr. Krebs came to believe that the Russians might want to sit out this election, since everyone was looking for their actions.“I wouldn’t tell you we are going to stop them,” he said a few weeks ago. “But we can make it a lot harder to attack,” a process that some strategists call “deterrence by denial” because the attackers cannot gain enough access to alter events — or in this case votes.last_img read more


At least 20 arrested as pro- and anti-Trump protesters clash in Washington

first_imgBy nightfall, local police officers were seen wearing riot gear, and at least one person was stabbed when a fight broke out between two large groups.Officials with the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said the fight was related to the ongoing protests, NBC Washington reported. The victim was listed in critical condition.At least 20 people were arrested throughout the day, and two police officers were injured. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known. It was unclear whether the people arrested were in favor of or against Trump.- Advertisement – WASHINGTON — Tensions flared Saturday night as supporters of President Donald Trump and his unfounded claims of voter fraud clashed with counterprotesters in the streets of the nation’s capital.Thousands of Trump supporters gathered earlier in the day to protest the result of the presidential race, marching in the afternoon from Freedom Plaza to the Supreme Court, where Republican lawmakers and party leaders addressed the largely unmasked crowd.More from NBC News:- Advertisement – – Advertisement – – Advertisement –center_img Members of Antifa and Proud Boys clash in the middle of the street following the “Million MAGA March” on November 14, 2020 in Washington, DC.Samuel Corum | Getty Images News | Getty Images The president appeared to follow the night’s developments, encouraging local police in a tweet to “get going — do your job and don’t hold back!!!”While aides say that Trump is coming around to the reality that he lost to Joe Biden, the president’s public attacks on the validity of the election results and his unwillingness to concede has allowed for conspiracy theories and misinformation to fester, particularly among his most devoted fans.“Something doesn’t feel right. If we lost fair and square, we’d take it. But it needs to be verified,” said Barbara Lipponen, 54, a real estate agent from Norfolk, Virginia, adding it was important to her to show up so Trump knew “he’s not fighting alone.”“It doesn’t add up. If he lost, then we need to say ‘OK, he lost.’ But this is not the process I fought for,” said Charmion Prince, 48, an army veteran from Tennessee. Prince, like many other Trump supporters, said she went to bed on election night thinking the president would be re-elected. She grew skeptical of the results as more ballots were counted in the following days, putting Biden ahead.“I saw the trends. It evaporated out of thin air in Pennsylvania,” said James Dozer, 47, from Alabama. “All of a sudden at four in the morning, boom, Biden’s leading. Democracies are stolen in the dead of night.”Dozer said it would take a “full hand recount” in every state for him to be “convinced” that Biden won.Top government and industry officials said in a statement on Thursday that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history” and that there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.”Still, thousands of protesters gathered in Freedom Plaza Saturday morning, just across the street from the White House and the Trump International Hotel, for the events, which were organized under various names including “Million MAGA March,” “March for Trump” and “Stop the Steal.”Members of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group that Trump declined to denounce during the first presidential debate, endorsed the events. Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, one of the organizers of the deadly Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, also promoted the march, among other far-right figures.last_img read more


CDC chief says avian flu is biggest threat

first_imgFeb 21, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The nation’s top disease-control official proclaimed in a speech in Washington, DC, today that avian influenza is the single biggest threat the world faces right now, according to wire service reports.Reuters quoted Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as saying, “This is a very ominous situation for the globe” and that it is “the most important threat we are facing right now.”Gerberding sounded the alarm in a speech at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.She implied that the H5N1 avian flu could trigger a human flu pandemic similar to the pandemic of 1918, which killed up to 100 million people worldwide. She also warned that if a pandemic emerged, vaccine for the virus would have to be rationed.”I think we can all recognize a similar pattern probably occurred prior to 1918,” she was quoted as saying. Experts believe the virus that sparked the 1918 pandemic probably originated in birds.The H5N1 virus, besides killing countless birds, has caused at least 55 human illness cases in Thailand and Vietnam, 42 of them fatal, according to World Health Organization figures. The virus has not yet shown an ability to spread quickly from person to person, but the fear is that it will soon acquire that talent by mixing with other flu viruses.Because the virus is circulating widely in Southeast Asian poultry, “There are really wonderful opportunities for this virus to either reassort with human strains of influenza or with other avian species,” Gerberding said.An Associated Press (AP) account quoted her as saying, “We are expecting more human cases over the next few weeks because this is high season for avian influenza in that part of the world. . . . Our assessment is that this is a very high threat.”The government has contracted with Sanofi Aventis to make 2 million doses of a vaccine for the H5N1 virus, but the vaccine has not yet been tested in clinical trials, and no one knows if it would work if a pandemic strain of the virus emerged.Gerberding said the Sanofi contract would give vaccine manufacturers a head start if a pandemic began, but any available vaccine would have to be rationed.The first doses to become available would be used in a “ring vaccination” strategy to try to stop the outbreak at its source, she said.She noted that infected people can spread flu before they have any symptoms, making it nearly impossible to stop an outbreak by quarantining sick people, according to Reuters.Gerberding also said flu vaccine production remains focused on ordinary seasonal flu, and it would be impossible to switch gears quickly to make a pandemic vaccine.last_img read more


WHO optimistic about halting Marburg outbreak

first_imgApr 22, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) voiced confidence today that Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Angola can be arrested but added that health agencies are prepared to keep fighting the disease for months if necessary. The northern province of Uige continues to bear the brunt of the epidemic, having had 253 cases with 233 deaths, the WHO said. The city of Uige has had 197 cases with 183 deaths, while other towns in the province have had 56 cases, 50 of them fatal. See also: The case-fatality rate in this outbreak is more than 90%—worse than the rate for Ebola fever, which ranges from 53% to 88%, depending on the virus strain. In a general assessment of the outbreak, the WHO called it “an extreme test of international capacity to hold emerging diseases at bay.” It made several other points: All the essential containment measures are currently being applied, with the help of more than 60 international workers and support from Angolan authorities and experts, the agency added. The agency judges the risk of international spread of the disease to be low. No foreigners other than some who directly cared for patients have been infected. “There is no evidence that people can spread the disease before the onset of symptoms,” the statement said. “Shortly after symptom onset, patients become rapidly and very visibly ill.” The severe nature of the disease has caused great fear and engendered suspicion of healthcare workers trying to contain it by taking patients away for isolation. However, “WHO staff in Uige have today reported further signs that community attitudes are improving, though hostility towards the mobile teams remains of concern in one area known to have recent cases and deaths,” the statement said. No one knows exactly how or when the outbreak started. In its second statement on the epidemic in 2 days, the agency said, “WHO is optimistic that the outbreak can be controlled if present activities continue with sufficient vigour. . . . WHO and its partners are nonetheless prepared and organized to continue the outbreak response for several additional months, if this is needed.” The international response to the outbreak began a month ago, on Mar 22. Rapid detection of Marburg cases is difficult because the disease is rare and it looks like other potentially fatal infectious diseases common in the region. The WHO also increased its count of deaths in the outbreak to match the numbers reported by news services today: 244 deaths out of 266 cases. In an update late yesterday the agency had reported 239 deaths among 266 cases. The outbreak is the largest ever for the deadly disease. Apr 22 WHO statement read more


Global health agencies have plan to fight avian flu

first_imgJul 5, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – International health organizations have come up with a plan to control H5N1 avian influenza within a decade and want more than $100 million in donations to fund it, according to reports from a conference in Malaysia.The plan was prepared by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report today.Joseph Domenech, the FAO’s chief veterinary officer, was quoted as telling reporters at the conference in Kuala Lumpur, “It’s an international crisis, it has to be an international vision for awareness, surveillance and early response.”The plan calls for spending $102 million to fight the disease in animals over the next 3 years, the AFP report said. The plan is now being circulated among potential donor countries, which called for more information on disease-control strategies when they were first asked for contributions in February, Domenech said.Domenech said donor countries have pledged less than $30 million so far for containing avian flu over the next 3 years, according to a Reuters report yesterday. He said the European Union has pledged another 50 million euros for the period 2007-11.According to AFP, the plan advocates more research on the H5N1 virus, better surveillance for disease in animals, openness in the way poultry producers and governments report information about the virus, and the appropriate use of vaccination, culling, and diagnostic tests.Under the plan, initial efforts would focus on Southeast Asia, East Asia, and South Asia, but efforts in the rest of Asia and in Africa, Europe, and America would begin in October.Authorities will have to use poultry vaccination programs in some places, Domenech told reporters. “In some countries heavily infected there is no way to get rid of the disease with pure stamping out methods and vaccination must be used,” he said. Experts say vaccinating poultry for avian flu viruses can sometimes backfire by turning birds into asymptomatic carriers of the viruses.In a statement yesterday, the FAO said, “In some countries or part of countries, such as in Viet Nam, where the virus is widely spread, massive vaccination could be the only way to reduce infection in poultry to protect humans.”The FAO said the Malaysia meeting would assess current practices and regulatory measures in the production and marketing of live animals in Asia for their potential effects on human health.The 2-day meeting in Kuala Lumpur was organized by the FAO, OIE, and WHO. In his opening statement at the meeting, Domenech said the avian flu situation remains critical and needs more attention, according to the FAO news release issued yesterday.”Highly pathogenic avian influenza must be considered an endemic disease and must be controlled at source in animals,” Domenech stated.According to an AFP report yesterday, Domenech called on China to be more open about its efforts to control avian flu and urged the country to curb the use of human antiviral drugs in poultry. He called the use of human flu drugs by Chinese farmers “a big concern.”The Washington Post reported recently that Chinese farmers had used the antiviral drug amantadine in poultry for years. The H5N1 virus is resistant to amantadine, and the Post story said experts attributed that resistance to the use of the drug in poultry. Chinese authorities said they did not approve of that practice.AFP quoted Domenech as saying at the meeting, “The situation is still not clear and FAO appeals to the Chinese authorities to provide current information regarding the use of such drugs.”See also:Jul 4 FAO news release read more


Report suggests refocusing US pandemic vaccine efforts

first_imgSep 22, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) suggests in a new report that an increased focus on the development of vaccine adjuvants could save the US government money while improving the nation’s preparedness for an influenza pandemic.Noting that the government has been spending large amounts to increase egg-based flu vaccine production capacity and develop cell-based production capacity, the CBO says it might be wise to shift some funds into the development of adjuvants (chemicals that reduce the amount of vaccine needed to generate an immune response).”The arithmetic of pandemic vaccination changes dramatically . . . if adjuvanted vaccines are developed and approved,” says the report. If adjuvants fulfill their promise, it adds, the egg-based and cell-based production facilities now available or under construction would be enough to meet HHS’s goal of vaccinating every US resident within 6 months of the start of a pandemic.The CBO published its findings on Sep 15. The 52-page report gauges progress the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made since 2005, when it outlined two main vaccine goals in its pandemic plan: to increase production capacity by 2011 to vaccinate the entire US population within 6 months of a pandemic onset and to stockpile enough vaccine to inoculate 20 million people shortly after a pandemic begins.The report, requested by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was written by Julie Somers and Philip Webre of the CBO’s microeconomic studies division. The authors consulted government, industry, and academic experts, including David Fedson, MD, a retired professor of medicine from the University of Virginia and former researcher with Aventis Pasteur who is an internationally known vaccine expert.Though the CBO offers a range of options for HHS officials to consider, it does make recommendations in the report. The CBO’s task is to provide Congress with nonpartisan background information, estimates, and projections for economic and budget decisions.Adjuvants change the dynamicAdditional spending will be needed to pursue federal pandemic vaccine goals, and HHS isn’t likely to meet its goal of being able to immunize 300 million people by 2011 in the event of a pandemic, the authors write.However, the CBO says the development of adjuvants could change the course of the government’s pandemic vaccine policy. Clinical trials suggest that adjuvants could be used to stretch supplies of antigen. The current pandemic (H5N1) vaccine in the national stockpile provides “poor-to-moderate” protection with two 90-microgram (mcg) doses, but adjuvanted vaccine candidates have been shown to provide acceptable protection with two 3.8- to 7.5-mcg doses of antigen. Also, the CBO says that policymakers have more information now about pandemic vaccines than they did in 2005 when plans were released.”Adjuvants developed since 2005 could substantially reduce the amount of antigen needed per dose, raising the question about whether HHS’s current policy is the most cost-effective approach to meeting its vaccine production goals,” CBO Director Peter R. Orszag wrote in a Sep 15 blog post that accompanied the report.”An extrapolation of the results from clinical trials leads to the preliminary conclusion that, by 2011, domestic egg-based manufacturing could produce enough antigen within six months of the onset of a pandemic to immunize 225 million people with adjuvanted vaccines at 15 micrograms per dose,” the report says. But if adjuvants are not used, the projected capacity would be enough to immunize only about 38 million people, it adds.The CBO says the existing pandemic stockpile is about 26 million doses, but 15 million doses have expired, leaving about 11 million, or enough to vaccinate about 5.6 million people.The CBO predicts that if adjuvants fulfill their promise, HHS officials could consider setting new goals for boosting domestic production capacity. For example, the report estimates that it would cost between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion to build production facilities to make adjuvanted cell-based vaccines, but places the building cost for making nonadjuvanted cell-based vaccines at between $7.6 billion and $11.4 billion.HHS policy focuses on cell-based vaccine production because it offers a potentially more reliable production method that does not depend on chicken eggs and can be more quickly ramped up to meet production needs in a pandemic setting.The report says that having too much cell-based production capacity during nonpandemic years could create another cost. “To keep the factories ready to operate, continuing federal support—in the form of purchases for the stockpile or direct payments—would probably be necessary,” it states. However, if capacity is reduced, the resulting reliance on a small number of manufacturers, especially those that rely on poultry flocks, raises the risk of supply disruption during a pandemic.Counting all stockpiling costsMost of the government’s work on the pandemic vaccine has involved acquiring vaccine in the first place, but the CBO says the cost to replace expired vaccine and adjuvant could be significant, with an annual price tag ranging from $350 million to $1.1 billion. Assuming a 3-year shelf life for an adjuvant, the CBO puts the annual cost of maintaining the supply of both adjuvant and antigen at $350 million. However, without the use of adjuvants, the yearly cost for replacing necessarily greater quantities of expired antigen would rise to $1.1 billion.Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit public health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, told CIDRAP News that the discussion of the continuing costs of the vaccine stockpile is one of the most interesting points of the CBO’s report. The annual cost of maintaining the stockpile hasn’t been factored into federal budget projections, he said.”That’s a large amount of money, and it’s large in the public health world. We obviously need to address this issue as well,” Levi said.Replacement and shelf-life issues regarding antiviral stockpiles are fairly straightforward, but maintaining vaccine stocks is much more complex, he said, adding, “The up side is the vaccine supply may need to be replenished to adjust for mutations.”More for next-generation vaccines?The HHS pandemic plan contains few incentives for firms to develop next-generation vaccines, such as those that use recombinant DNA techniques, the CBO reports. However, if the use of adjuvants allowed HHS to cut back on the amount of antigen in the stockpile and on building production capacity, this could free up more resources to support the development of next-generation vaccines.Use of a safe and effective adjuvant could also stretch the vaccine supply to immunize well above HHS’s initial goal of 20 million people at the start of a pandemic.The reports draws a contrast between the US policy of direct support for vaccine manufacturers and Europe’s model for building pandemic vaccine supply and capacity through advance supply agreements, under which governments make advance payments to guarantee a supply of vaccine in the event of a pandemic.Although the US approach of subsidizing the development of production capacity could result in a greater supply of vaccine, it does not guarantee there would be enough: “Manufacturers could exhaust their supplies when filling their European agreements before they have a chance to sell any to the United States,” the report says. On the other hand, with advance supply agreements, there is a risk that manufacturers won’t have the capacity to fulfill them.See also:Sep 15 CBO report on US pandemic vaccine policySep 15 CBO director blog post2007 CIDRAP News series “The pandemic vaccine puzzle, Part 4: The promise and problems of adjuvants”last_img read more


More arrivals and overnight stays of foreign and less domestic tourists

first_imgIn February 2018, 219 thousand tourists came to commercial accommodation facilities, who realized 485 thousand overnight stays, which is 4,6% more arrivals and 3,2% more tourist nights than in February 2017, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). ).Thus, in February, domestic tourists realized 2,8% fewer arrivals and 3,2% fewer overnight stays in February 2018 compared to February 2017, while foreign tourists came 9,6% more and achieved 7,2% more overnight stays than in the same period last year.Tourists from Slovenia and Austria spent the most nights  The highest number of overnight stays of foreign tourists in February 2018 was realized by tourists from Slovenia, 61 thousand, which is 19,7% of the total overnight stays of foreign tourists, and tourists from Austria, 33 thousand, which is 10,6% of the total realized overnight stays of foreign tourists. This is followed by overnight stays of tourists from Italy (7,6%), Germany (6,6%), Bosnia and Herzegovina (5,5%) and the Republic of Korea (5,4%).Compared to February 2017, all foreign tourists with the largest share in the structure of overnight stays increased in overnight stays, except for tourists from Italy, which decreased by 2,7% and tourists from the Republic of Korea, which decreased by 15,8%.Istria County is the leader in the number of realized overnight stays The highest number of tourist nights in February 2018 was realized by the County of Istria, 107 thousand overnight stays, which is 22% of the total number of overnight stays in Croatia.Compared to February 2017, in Istria County there were 8% more arrivals and 12% more tourist nights. Tourists from Slovenia realized the most overnight stays, 37 thousand. This is followed by overnight stays of tourists from Croatia (23 thousand) and overnight stays of tourists from Austria (20 thousand).Tourists mostly spent the night in hotels In February 2018, the highest number of tourist nights was realized in hotels, 328 thousand, which is 67,6% of the total number of overnight stays. Compared to February 2017, hotels increased the number of tourist arrivals by 5,4% and the number of overnight stays by 2,9%.In the group Hotels and similar accommodation available the most rooms and permanent bedIn February 2018, tourists had at their disposal 49 thousand rooms, apartments and camping places with a total of 111 thousand permanent beds. In the group Hotels and similar accommodation tourists had at their disposal a total of 25 thousand rooms and suites (which is 51,6% of the total number of available rooms and suites) with a total of 49 thousand permanent beds (which is 43,9% of the total number of available permanent bed).The average occupancy of rooms was 30,6%, and permanent beds 26,5%.  Tourists in the age group of 35 to 44 achieved the most nightsTourists in the age group of 35 to 44 realized the most overnight stays in February 2018, 96 thousand overnight stays, which is 19,8% of the total number of overnight stays. They are followed by tourists in the age group of 25 to 34 years with 91 thousand overnight stays, which is 18,7% of the total overnight stays.</p>
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In the first six months, however, the growth of overnight stays and arrivals

first_imgAlthough statistics show growth, in tourist destinations a good majority still complain that there are fewer guests, as well as a significant decline in tourist spending. Not only small hoteliers are complaining, big hoteliers are also complaining, so it is not just a bad impression, nor smaller destinations. But the statistics are exact, and what happens on the ground is a matter for quality analysis. “We have the first passing time after the first six months, and what we predicted we achieved. With small imbalances in May due to bad weather, everything is going according to plan. Booking is in line with expectations, everything is according to plan, both in Istria and in other parts of the Adriatic ” Cappelli said, adding that it was extremely important that German and British tourists were not in the red in the first half of this year, as had been predicted for some time. Thus, in the first six months, there were 6,5 million arrivals and 26 million overnight stays, which is about one hundred thousand more arrivals and 600.000 more overnight stays than at the same time last year, said yesterday the Minister of Tourism, Gary Cappelli, reports Vecernji list. center_img Bad weather, the awakening of competitors, weaker booking, however, at least according to the official data of eVisitor, did not slow down tourist growth. As announced on the eve of the tourist year, two to three percent growth is expected this year.last_img read more