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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Sukhoi Su-57, the story behind Russia's 5th Generation fighter's name

Sukhoi Su-57, Russia's 5th Generation single-seat twin-engine supersonic stealth fighter, is the most advanced combat aircraft with the Russian Aerospace Force. The fighter's name Su-57 reveals its manufacturer, 5th Generation status along with some luck attached to it, reported Sputniknews.com.
According to United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the  Russian aerospace and defence corporation of which Sukhoi Company is a part of, the 5th Generation's fighter's name had a simple logic behind it. The Su stands for Sukhoi, 5 reveals that the aircraft belongs to the 5th Generation stealth fighters while Sukhoi Design Bureau considers 7 lucky.
So when it came to the formal name of the aircraft, Su-57 was an easy choice. Russian Aerospace Force started receiving the first fully ready and armed Su-57 in late 2019 after placing an order for 76 jets.
The United States of America-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has codenamed the Su-57 as 'Felon'.
According to Russian defence officials, the Su-57 can take off as well as land on very short runways. The jet is capable of annihilating targets on land, in air and in the sea.
Former Russian Aerospace Force Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Viktor Bondarev had in August 2017 disclosed that the then under-development 5th Generation fighter had been named Su-57. "The decision has been made and the plane has got its name like a child after birth. Su-57 is how we now call it," Russian news channel Zvezda TV had quoted him as saying.
During the development phase, the Su-57 was called Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA (Perspective Aviation Complex of Frontline Aviation). The jet first took to the skies in 2010.
Initially, India was part of the development process of T-50 PAK FA but later pulled out of the programme following concerns over the huge cost and technical parameters of the then proposed combat aircraft.
The Russian jet is in direct contest with the United States of America's 5th Generation combat jets - F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. Keen to land some export orders, Russia unveiled the export version of the fighter called Su-57E during the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2019 near Moscow in August 2019.

Sri Lanka braces for Cyclone Amphan, several areas to receive heavy showers

Sri Lanka's Department of Meterology on Tuesday (May 19) said that the Super Cyclonic storm Amphan over west-central Bay of Bengal and neighborhood, lay centered near Trincomalee at 11.30 p.m. on Monday (May 18). 
According to Sri Lanka's Department of Meterology the cyclone Amphan is expected to move north-northeastwards towards west Bengal coast during the afternoon of May 20 (Wednesday).
"Due to the influence of the system, the prevailing showery condition over the island particularly in the south-western part is likely to continue further. Heavy showers above 100 mm are likely at some places. Wind speed can increase up to (50-60) kmph at times over the island. Cloudy skies can be expected over the island," it said.
According to Sri Lanka's met department, showers or thundershowers will occur at times in Southern, Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and North-western provinces with isolated heavy showers above 100 mm in Nuwara-Eliya, Kandy, Matale, Ratnapura, Kegalle, Galle and Matara districts.
The North and North-central provinces of Sri Lanka are also expected to receive several spells of showers.
The met department has appealed to the general public to take adequate precautions to minimize damages caused by lightning activity during thundershowers.
Meanwhile, Indian Meterological Department said that Super Cyclone Amphan is very likely to move north-northeastwards across the northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal – Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) close to Sundarbans during the May 20 afternoon/evening as an extremely severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 165-175 kmph gusting to 195 kmph.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Spraying disinfectants doesn't eliminate new coronavirus, can be harmful, says WHO

Spraying disinfectant on the streets, as practised in some countries, does not eliminate the new coronavirus and even poses a health risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Saturday.
In a document on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as part of the response to the virus, the WHO says spraying can be ineffective. "Spraying or fumigation of outdoor spaces, such as streets or marketplaces, is... Not recommended to kill the COVID-19 virus or other pathogens because disinfectant is inactivated by dirt and debris," explains the WHO.
"Even in the absence of organic matter, chemical spraying is unlikely to adequately cover all surfaces for the duration of the required contact time needed to inactivate pathogens." The WHO said that streets and pavements are not considered as "reservoirs of infection" of COVID-19, adding that spraying disinfectants, even outside, can be "dangerous for human health".
The document also stresses that spraying individuals with disinfectants is "not recommended under any circumstances".
"This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person's ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact," said the document.
Spraying chlorine or other toxic chemicals on people can cause eye and skin irritation, bronchospasm and gastrointestinal effects, it adds.
The organisation is also warning against the systematic spraying and fumigating of disinfectants on to surfaces in indoor spaces, citing a study that has shown it to be ineffective outside direct spraying areas.
"If disinfectants are to be applied, this should be done with a cloth or wipe that has been soaked in disinfectant," it says.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of the pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide since its appearance in late December in China, can attach itself to surfaces and objects.
However, no precise information is currently available for the period during which the viruses remain infectious on the various surfaces.
Studies have shown that the virus can stay on several types of surfaces for several days. However, these maximum durations are only theoretical because they are recorded under laboratory conditions and should be "interpreted with caution" in the real-world environment.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

No approved treatments yet for coronavirus COVID-19: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that a number of treatments are under clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19, but none of those were yet approved.
"There are hundreds of clinical trials that are underway, and the reason we need to wait for the results of these studies is because they are evaluating how these medicines, how these drugs work, in terms of either preventing infection, preventing someone from progressing to severe disease, preventing death and how safe they are, do they have any side effects," Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO`s Health Emergencies Program, said on Friday in a press conference in Geneva, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Right now, WHO has launched the `Solidarity Trial` which is a clinical trial focusing on some drugs, some therapeutics, to look at whether or not these are safe and effective for COVID-19. There are more than 2,500 patients enrolled in this multi-site clinical trial," she said.
"And it will take some time before we have full answers to which treatments work, but right now we don`t have any approved treatments for COVID-19." she added.
Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, stressed the importance of proper process to ensure safety.
"And there`s a very well tested process of doing this, so it`s really important that we encourage innovation, we encourage people to be looking for solutions, but then as those solutions potentially become available, we need to put them through the proper process in the interest of safety, in the interest of efficacy and in order to make sure that we first do no harm," he said.

Coronavirus vaccine or no vaccine, US is reopening: Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has assured Americans that the United States, which has badly suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic, will reopen whether a vaccine is developed to combat the deadly virus or not.
Speaking at a White House Rose Garden news conference on Friday, President Trump urged ''Americans to return to their lives as normal.''
“As of this morning, almost every state has taken steps to begin reopening, and the American people are doing an extraordinary job of continuing to take precautions while, at the same time, wanting to start.  And they will be starting to resume their American way of life,’’ Trump said.
“And I just want to make something clear. It’s very important: Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back.  And we’re starting the process.  And in many cases, they don’t have vaccines, and a virus or the flu comes, and you fight through it.  We haven’t seen anything like this in 100-and-some-odd years — 1917,’’ Trump added.
During his press meet, the US President also announced an objective to deliver a coronavirus jab possibly by year-end.
“But you fight through it. And people sometimes, I guess - we don’t know exactly yet, but it looks like they become immune, or at least for a short while, and maybe for life.  But you fight through it.  But what we’d like to do, if we can, is the vaccine.  I think we’re going to be successful in doing it and hopefully by the end of the year,’’ he said.
The US President further said that the US Administration ''will be reigniting the economic engines and take care of the most vulnerable – the senior citizens and some others.’’
''We’re going to be working very, very hard on our senior citizens and our nursing homes and various communities to support those that are struggling in this very difficult time.  Others don’t have the same kind of struggle,’’ Trump told reporters.
While expressing hope that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available by the end of the year, Trump announced to appoint Moncef Slaoui, the former head of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline, and four-star Army general Gustave Perna, to spearhead the effort as researchers around the world scramble to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 people globally.
Trump also formally announced "Operation Warp Speed" to develop the COVID-19 vaccine as his administration mounted an unprecedented effort that involves the country's military to get a vaccine for the deadly disease before the end of the year.
''It is called Operation Warp Speed that means big, and it means fast a massive scientific industrial and logistical endeavour, unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project. You really could say that nobody has seen anything like we are doing, whether it is ventilators or testing nobody has seen anything like we are doing now within our country since the second world war incredible,” he said.
''Its objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again, we would love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year. I think we are going to have some very good results coming out very quickly,’’ Trump said.
He stressed that the United States is not looking at profits from the coronavirus vaccine. ''The last thing anybody is looking for is profit in terms of what we are doing. Every company they want to get it out,’’ Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House.
''In addition, it will continue accelerating the development of diagnostics and breakthrough therapies. The great national project will bring together the best of American industry and innovation, the full resources of the United States government, and the excellence and precision of the United States military; we have a military totally involved,’’ he added.
Trump confirmed that he would appoint Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GSK Vaccines, and four-star army general Gustave Perna, to lead "Operation Warp Speed."
Slaoui, who left GlaxoSmithKline in 2017, will be the chief scientist. Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist, helped create 14 new vaccines in 10 years during his time in the private sector.
Joining Slaoui his Chief Operating Officer will be General Perna, a four-star general who currently oversees 190,000 service members, civilians, and contractors as commander of the US Army Material Command that means logistics, the US President said.
In preparation for this initiative, experts throughout the government have been collaborating to evaluate roughly 100 vaccine candidates from all over the world. "They have identified 14 that they believe are the most promising, and they are working to narrow that list still further," he said.
The President also said the United States will work closely with other countries, even those who aren't allies, to develop a vaccine.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Japanese flu drug favipiravir 'clearly effective' in treating coronavirus, claims China

An official at China's Science and Technology Ministry said on Wednesaday that a Japanese flu drug to treat new strains of influenza has proved 'clearly effective' in treating coronavirus patients.
Japanese media said that Zhang Xinmin has claimed that favipiravir, developed by a subsidiary of Fujifilm, had produced good encouraging outcomes in clinical trials conducted on 340 patients in Wuhan and Shenzhen, reported Guardian.
“It has a high degree of safety and is clearly effective in treatment,” Zhang told reporters.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that patients who were given the medicine in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus nearly four days after testing postive for the virus.
The X-rays of these patients also showed improvements in lung condition in about 91% of the patients, while it was 62% on those without the drug.
The drug which is also known as Avigan is developed by uFujifilm Toyama Chemical. The pharma company has preferred not to comment on this matter.
Guardian reported that Avigan is being used by Japanese doctors in clinical studies on coronavirus patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
A Japanese health ministry source, however, said that the drug was not as effective in people with more severe symptoms. “We’ve given Avigan to 70 to 80 people, but it doesn’t seem to work that well when the virus has already multiplied,” the source told the Mainichi Shimbun.
Notably, favipiravir was used by the Japanese government in 2016 as an emergency aid to counter the Ebola virus outbreak in Guinea.
It is learnt that Favipiravir would need approval from Japanese government for full-scale use on Covid-19 patients and the drug could be approved as early as May. “But if the results of clinical research are delayed, approval could also be delayed.”

COVID-19: California issues 'stay home' order; US death toll hits 200

 California issued a statewide 'stay at home' order on Thursday for its 40 million residents and Washington warned Americans to return home or stay abroad indefinitely, with the number of coronavirus deaths in the country hitting 200.
Governor Gavin Newsom said modeling has shown that 56 percent of California residents were expected to contract COVID-19 over the next eight weeks, requiring nearly 20,000 more hospital beds than the state could currently provide
He said Los Angeles, as the nation`s second-largest city, would likely be "disproportionately impacted" by the pandemic in the coming weeks.
As authorities ramped up measures to keep the virus from spreading, Washington could announce restrictions on travel across the U.S.-Mexico border as soon as Friday, limiting crossings to essential travel, two officials briefed on the matter said. That would follow a similar measure on Wednesday closing the border with Canada.
The fast-spreading respiratory illness has shattered most patterns of American life: shuttering schools and businesses, prompting millions to work from home, forcing many out of jobs and sharply curtailing travel.
The U.S. State Department told citizens that if they travel internationally, "your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe."
With the economy swooning, Senate Republicans unveiled a $1 trillion economic stimulus plan to provide funds directly to businesses and the American public. President Donald Trump has been eagerly calling for that package.
It would be Congress` third emergency coronavirus bill following a $105 billion-plus plan covering free coronavirus testing, paid sick leave and expanded safety-net spending, and an $8.3 billion measure to combat the spread of the highly contagious pathogen and develop vaccines.
The plunging stock market and surging U.S. death toll has caused Trump to sharply change his tone on the disease this week, demanding urgent action after spending weeks downplaying the risks.
Over 13,000 people across the United States have been diagnosed with the illness called COVID-19 and 200 have died, with the largest numbers so far in Washington state and New York. 
Minutes before Newsom announced his statewide order, Los Angeles County officials ordered the closure of all shopping centers and non-essential businesses, and told its 10 million residents to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
"We cannot wait. We have to act now," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "This is not a shelter-in-place order, this is a stay-at-home order."
Two Los Angeles Lakers players have the coronavirus, the NBA franchise said on Thursday, after four players from the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for the disease a day earlier.
The virus has taken the greatest toll in Washington state, which reported eight more deaths on Thursday, bringing the death toll there to 74.
TEST DELAYS
With the United States slow to roll out mass testing for the virus that has infected more than 244,000 people worldwide, officials fear the number of known cases of the respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia lags far behind reality.
New York State tested 8,000 patients overnight. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered three-quarters of state employees to work from home, but has resisted calls for the kind of `stay at home` order that California has now mandated.
"We don`t have the results of the 8,000 tests, but when you do 8,000 tests, the numbers are going to go up exponentially," Cuomo told CNN. There are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, but several options are being tested.
New York City, where many young people last weekend packed local bars and restaurants, has been eerily deserted after nightfall.
"It`s a skater`s dream," said Dyanna Hernandez, 20, who had joined a dozen friends in Manhattan`s Union Square to enjoy the freedom of what she called a "ghost city" after three days stuck at home. "I can`t really be quarantined."
The epidemic, which has killed over 10,000 globally so far, has drawn comparisons with traumatic periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged by the most since 2012 to a 2-1/2-year high last week, as companies in the services sector laid off workers with businesses shutting down due to the pandemic.
Katie Vetere, 32, general manager of One 53, a small restaurant near Princeton, New Jersey, applied for benefits for the first time in her life after the restaurant was forced to shut down when state authorities banned table service.
Vetere expects her benefits to be less than half her regular weekly paycheck. "I go from `I`m sad` to `I`m scared` to `I`m angry,`" she said. "Do I consider my job lost? I don`t know."