The List 5226 TGB
I hope that your week has been going well.
This Day in Naval History
§ 1928—Pilot Cmdr. Theodore G. Ellyson (Naval Aviator No. 1) and crewmembers Lt. Cmdr. Hugo Schmidt and Lt. Roger S. Ransehousen died when their XOL-7 observation amphibian, BuNo A-7335, crashed into the Chesapeake Bay while en route from NAS Hampton Roads, Virginia, to Annapolis, Maryland.1942—Seaplane tender USS Langley (AV 3), carrying 32 U.S. Army Air Force P-40 aircraft for the defense of Java, is bombed by Japanese naval land attack planes 75 miles south of Tjilatjap, Java. Due to the damage, Langley is shelled and torpedoed by USS Whipple (DD 217).
§ 1942—Seaplane tender USS Langley (AV 3), carrying 32 U.S. Army Air Force P-40 aircraft for the defense of Java, is bombed by Japanese naval land attack planes 75 miles south of Tjilatjap, Java. Due to the damage, Langley is shelled and torpedoed by USS Whipple (DD 217).
§ 1942—The Battle of the Java Sea begins, where the 14-ship Allied forces (American, Dutch, British and Australian) attempt to stop the 28-ship Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies colony of Java. The Japanese, during battles over three days, decimates the Allied forces, sinking at least 11 ships, killing more than 3,370 and taking nearly 1,500 prisoners.
§ 1944—Three U.S. Navy submarines sink three Japanese cargo ships: Grayback (SS 208) sinks Ceylon Maru in the East China Sea; Cod (SS 244) sinks Taisoku Maru west of Halmahera while Trout (SS 202) sinks Aki Maru.
§ 1944—Three U.S. Navy submarines sink three Japanese cargo ships: Grayback (SS 208) sinks Ceylon Maru in the East China Sea; Cod (SS 244) sinks Taisoku Maru west of Halmahera while Trout (SS 202) sinks Aki Maru.
§ 1945—Submarine USS Scabbardfish (SS 397) sinks Japanese guardboat No. 6 Kikau Maru, 100 miles northeast of Keelung, Formosa, while USS Blenny (SS 324) attacks a Japanese convoy off French Indochina and sinks merchant tanker Amato Maru off Cape Padaran.
§ 1945—Land-based patrol aircraft from VPB 112, along with others from three British vessels, HMS Labaun and HMS Loch Fada and HMS Wild Goose, sink German submarine U 327 in the English Channel.
§ 1973—First airborne mine sweep in a live minefield takes place in the Haiphong, Vietnam ship channel by helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Twelve on board USS New Orleans (LPH 11).
§ 2017—The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) is decommissioned after 33 years of service during a ceremony held at Keyport Undersea Museum.
Thanks to CHINFO
• Numerous outlets reported on Defense Secretary Mark Esper's testimony before the House Armed Services Committee over the fiscal year 2021 budget request.
• Coverage continued over the delayed release of the Department of the Navy Integrated Naval Force Structure Assessment and 30-year Shipbuilding Plan.
• Multiple outlets report that the U.S. Navy resumed flight training for Saudi Arabian students following December's attack at NAS Pensacola.
1942 U.S. aircraft carrier Langley is sunk » in the Battle of the Java Sea
This day in World history
Theodosius effectively founds a university in Constantinople.
German Protestants form the League of Schmalkalden to resist the power of the emperor.
The Pacific Island of New Britain is discovered.
Napoleon's Marshal Nicholas Oudinot is pushed back at Barsur-Aube by the Emperor's allied enemies shortly before his abdication.
The first Mardi-Gras celebration is held in New Orleans.
The first Union prisoners arrive at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers attack Hickman, Kentucky, shooting women and children.
The Japanese push Russians back in Manchuria and cross the Sha River.
The forty-sixth star is added to the U.S. flag, signifying Oklahoma's admission to statehood.
The United States rejects a Soviet peace offer as propaganda.
Glacier Bay National Monument is dedicated in Alaska.
The burning down of the Reichstag building in Berlin gives the Nazis the opportunity to suspend personal liberty with increased power.
The Supreme Court outlaws sit-down strikes.
British Commandos raid a German radar station at Bruneval on the French coast.
F-84 Thunderjets raid North Korean base on Yalu River.
South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem is unharmed as two planes bomb the presidential palace in Saigon.
The Soviet Union says that 10,000 troops will remain in Cuba.
Thousands of students protest President Richard Nixon's arrival in Rome.
U.S. Supreme Court rules that a Virginia pool club can't bar residents because of color.
Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
Coalition forces liberate Kuwait after seven months of occupation by the Iraqi army.
New Orleanians take to the streets for Mardi Gras
On this day in 1827, a group of masked and costumed students dance through the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, marking the beginning of the city's famous Mardi Gras celebrations.
The celebration of Carnival–or the weeks between Twelfth Night on January 6 and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian period of Lent–spread from Rome across Europe and later to the Americas. Nowhere in the United States is Carnival celebrated as grandly as in New Orleans, famous for its over-the-top parades and parties for Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), the last day of the Carnival season.
Though early French settlers brought the tradition of Mardi Gras to Louisiana at the end of the 17th century, Spanish governors of the province later banned the celebrations. After Louisiana Territory became part of the United States in 1803, New Orleanians managed to convince the city council to lift the ban on wearing masks and partying in the streets. The city's new Mardi Gras tradition began in 1827 when the group of students, inspired by their experiences studying in Paris, donned masks and jester costumes and staged their own Fat Tuesday festivities.
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The parties grew more and more popular, and in 1833 a rich plantation owner named Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville raised money to fund an official Mardi Gras celebration. After rowdy revelers began to get violent during the 1850s, a secret society called the Mistick Krewe of Comus staged the first large-scale, well-organized Mardi Gras parade in 1857.
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Over time, hundreds of krewes formed, building elaborate and colorful floats for parades held over the two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. Riders on the floats are usually local citizens who toss "throws" at passersby, including metal coins, stuffed toys or those now-infamous strands of beads. Though many tourists mistakenly believe Bourbon Street and the historic French Quarter are the heart of Mardi Gras festivities, none of the major parades have been allowed to enter the area since 1979 because of its narrow streets.
In February 2006, New Orleans held its Mardi Gras celebrations despite the fact that Hurricane Katrina had devastated much of the city with massive flooding the previous August. Attendance was at only 60-70 percent of the 300,000-400,000 visitors who usually attend Mardi Gras, but the celebration marked an important step in the recovery of the city, which counts on hospitality and tourism as its single largest industry.
The Pandering Debate
Thanks to Shadow
I forced myself to watch… and I am left with this indelible impression; "These people are bat shit crazy"!
How can anyone with a lick of common sense would think any of them would qualify to be President of the United States. Boggles the mind? Of course I have to remind myself, I thought the same thing about Donald Trump… but that's been a pleasant surprise. Here's my humble observations…
For the first half of the debate, I couldn't help but think to myself that the Democratic candidates had reached the conclusion that no white people were gonna vote in South Carolina. The pandering to Blacks was so over the top, that it was nauseating. There was a cascading invocation of Barrack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Dred Scott… on and on. It was so bad I expected Joe Biden to turn and address the panel and say… "I have an announcement for everyone... I contacted Elisabeth Warrens DNA guru, Mr. Bustamante... and submitted my blood for his DNA analysis and I am pleased to announce he found I have 1/250,000th of African blood in me! Therefore… rest assured Brothers and Sisters; now you know who really has your back… ain't nobody gonna put "US" in chains no more… I be down for the struggle"! The groveling and pandering was beyond belief… Blatant! And just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, Tom Steyer, weirdo that he is, goes all in on reparations! I could just see Biden's face and squinty eyes; he was thinking… "Oh shit… why didn't I think of that"?
All in all, it was a debacle… all of them talking over each other… jumping up and down with raised hands like some six year old trying to get the teachers attention. How can anyone take any of them seriously? None are ready for prime time.
Here's my take on the players:
Biden… What a phony, lying bastard! The jerk tried to take credit for every left wing cause over the last 30 years. If you'd listen to him… everything Barrack "O" got accomplished was actually "Slow Joe's" doing. Gun control, abortion, Obama Care is really "Biden Care"… he claims he was tough on every despot in the world… from Putin, to Xi to Castro and Ortega… not to mention the leaders of Iraq and Iran. 'Course he fails to mention while he was at it, his kid and Brothers were raking in millions and billions from China, Ukraine and Iraq. Most of it from U.S. Taxpayers dollars by direction. He is the penultimate "Yankee" version of our Southern "Boss Hog" politicians. Corrupt to the core!
Bloomberg… When I think of Bloomberg… I think of Mike Huckabee's comment about Mitt Romney right after he'd beaten Romney in the Iowa caucuses… When asked by a talking head how he pulled it off against all Romney's money, he responded with… "Well, I think I reminded Iowan's of someone they knew and they could relate to… Romney reminded them of someone who fired them in a previous job". I get the feeling… that the man has no feelings. He is a total fraud! I find it ironic that as soon as he announced he was running, he immediately apologized for his "Stop and Frisk" program he ran… the reason it's ironic is that was probably the one successful program he really had… the murder rate dropped dramatically once the program was in place. Up until he announced, he was proud of that accomplishment… go figure? And then after Warren took him to the woodshed over the 100 plus NDA settlements he negotiated with disaffected employees… his response was to graciously release "three" women from their NDA's… what about the other 100 plus? He's not only a fraud, he's a hypocrite! And a ruthless bastard to boot. He reminds me of John Verdi's tale about his dad's warning (he was a well known Wall Street Lawyer)… "Wall Street steals more money in a day than the Mafia steals in a year"! Bloomberg will remain a threat just because of the money he's willing to waste. Don't know if y'all noticed, but when he was bragging about the hundreds of millions of dollars he'd spent getting Democrats elected to the House in the last election… he started by saying, "I bought those"… and then realized what he was about to say and changed it to "I helped get those people elected, so Nancy Pelosi could take over the House". What the Capo means is… "I bought those seats"! My conclusion is; that this guy is the wild card in this whole minstrel show. I think he will be there at the end… might not win, but he'll be there.
Bernie Sanders… Old Commies never die, they just irritate the hell out of you! They lie, they attack, they do everything except tell the truth about their real intentions. I'm fond of quoting something I'd read some time ago… "In the body of every self described socialist; beats the heart of a would be dictator". If that doesn't described Bernie, I don't know what does? The startling thing to me and folks of my ilk and background… is how the hell has this idiot managed to accumulate the following he has in the Democratic Party? I mean, this guy doesn't intend to make this country stronger… he literally wants to destroy it! And he has about 50% of the Democratic Party groveling at his feet! What the hell has happened to this country in our lifetime? Now the MSM and party elite have realized his nomination would be a disaster… the truth is the reason they know this is because Bernie doesn't lie about who he really is; like the rest of their candidates. The truth is… all of these charlatans agree with Bernie on just about everything he espouses. Open Borders, health care for illegal aliens, the Green New Deal, Climate Change… free health care, raise taxes, gun confiscation, late term abortions, reparations… down the line, lock step. Bernie tales a stand and they raise their hands and say, "Me Too"! How's it go? "A distinction... without a difference". I'm sure they'll get him sooner or later… but that is good news for our side, as much as it would be if he got the nomination. The hardcore will revolt and sit it out for the most part… well, I must caveat that… a lot of them will. I don't see him as a threat either way.
Tom Steyer… What a buffoon… Happy to see a lefty billionaire waste all that money. Steyer reminds me of something I learned long ago… some people are a success in spite of themselves. Made his money in coal and now is the most strident Climate Change advocate of the bunch… I look at that guys eyes and he reminds me of a former squadron mate I once had… Paul Burrows labeled him "Six G"… his eyes bugged out so much it looked like he was pulling 6 G's just walking around the Ready Room! I mean the guy looks and acts demented! No threat… just hope he keeps spending that dirty money he's acquired.
Pete Buttigieg… What a fraud… what hutzpah! A failed small town mayor, with the audacity to run for the President of the United States. He may be gay, but he has balls of brass! Take a real look at this guy. Son of a well known Marxist College Professor. No doubt dad and others in the Party (The one that begins with a 'C')… have been grooming this guy since he was a kid. He's the white Barrack Obama. He's glib, quick on his feet and comes across as harmless. Don't kid yourself… this SOB is as dangerous as any of the lot. He touts his "service"… he went to Afghanistan… but he leaves out what he did to get there and "WHY". All of my brothers and sisters I know who have worn the uniform, did it the old fashion way… we went through boot camp(s)… we were trained day in and day out for months. We were harassed, yelled at, run into the ground… had to run obstacle courses, qualified with rifles and pistols… went on maneuvers and basically put through hell to earn our stripes or bars… and those of us who flew fighters spent another 18 months to get to what was considered "qualified". But not little Pete! He took a different route… he, through political connections, managed to acquire something called a "Direct Commission". Instead of having to endure all that training that 99.99% of all military inductees had to go through… Pete waltzes out of his mayors office one day and is now a lieutenant in the United Staes Navy the next! YGTBSM!!! Yep... no boot camp, no OCS, no obstacle courses, no weapons training, no marching, no finishing school… no nuthin'. Just pure political chicanery! And to add insult to injury, he volunteers for service in Afghanistan! Now why would he do that, you ask? After all he had a decent job as a mayor (and evidently remained a mayor during his six moths of active duty)… wonder if he was double dipping? One check from the Navy and the other from the citizens of South Bend? Of course he also managed to secure a job as a clerk of some kind, sitting in an air conditioned office in the bowls of an Air Force base… totally out of harm's way. You see, he had political connections… no way in hell that boy was ever gonna be in harm's way like those of us who really put it on the line. He was too good for that! He claims to have made over a hundred trips outside the wire driving a van and looking out for IED's… (Or was it IUD's? He probably wouldn't know the difference). But he was there long enough to have some pictures taken of himself in full combat gear… helmet, flak jacket and the ubiquitous M-16… He had that practiced stare of the Hollywood version of the Ultimate Warrior… when the truth is, he is a total fraud. Everything about his service was a prop for his political career… nothing more. Give me a break! He is a con artist… hell, he has no business being a dog catcher, much less a candidate for President. Another "Manchurian candidate". Hope he rots in hell!
Amy Klobuchar… Not gonna deprecate Amy, other than to say she's a tough cookie. I get the feeling she'd be a tough person to work for. She is driven, but has no chance, but is probably better qualified than all the others put together. If she has one short coming is that she just doesn't have the "IT" factor so necessary in modern politics. She has the personality of a stone wall.
Elizebeth Warren… Good ol' Pocahontas… Folks… that woman is just plain, bat shit, crazy! How the hell she ever got elected as anything makes me wonder about the intelligence of her constituents. She is certifiable! Her whole life story is built on a fraud. No chance, no way she will last. Not gonna waste my time trying to describe her. Reminds me of a D.I. we had in OCS when he walked up to a recruit and asked… "Son, where'd you come from"? The scared recruit says, "You mean what state sir"? The D.I. then says, "No maggot, what damn rock did you crawl out from underneath of"! My God, where do we get such people in high office?
Well, That pretty much covers it. I'm cautiously optimistic knowing what the opposition has lined up for us… but I still know that the Left will have some surprises in store for us along the way… more lies, more scandals, more phony conspiracies. And I still think there maybe a " Lady in Waiting" if this thing gets to a brokered convention… which to be honest, would be a good thing. She's still a loser and the most corrupt politician in our lifetime.
That's all folks… Have a nice day!
Thanks to David
Harry & Bess
Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.
The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri. His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.
When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.
After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them.
When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."
Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."
As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.
Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.
Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, "My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference!"
I say dig him up and clone him!
The Atlantic - "You're Likely to Get the Coronavirus" Excellent article ...
Thanks to Billy …and Dr. Rich
You're Likely to Get the Coronavirus
Most cases are not life-threatening, which is also what makes the virus a historic challenge to contain.JAMES HAMBLIN
February 24, 2020
XIAO YIJIU / XINHUA / EYEVINE / REDUX
In May 1997, a 3-year-old boy developed what at first seemed like the common cold. When his symptoms—sore throat, fever, and cough—persisted for six days, he was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong. There his cough worsened, and he began gasping for air. Despite intensive care, the boy died.
Puzzled by his rapid deterioration, doctors sent a sample of the boy's sputum to China's Department of Health. But the standard testing protocol couldn't fully identify the virus that had caused the disease. The chief virologist decided to ship some of the sample to colleagues in other countries.
At the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the boy's sputum sat for a month, waiting for its turn in a slow process of antibody-matching analysis. The results eventually confirmed that this was a variant of influenza, the virus that has killed more people than any in history. But this type had never before been seen in humans. It was H5N1, or "avian flu," discovered two decades prior, but known only to infect birds.
By then, it was August. Scientists sent distress signals around the world. The Chinese government swiftly killed 1.5 million chickens (over the protests of chicken farmers). Further cases were closely monitored and isolated. By the end of the year there were 18 known cases in humans. Six people died.
This was seen as a successful global response, and the virus was not seen again for years. In part, containment was possible because the disease was so severe: Those who got it became manifestly, extremely ill. H5N1 has a fatality rate of around 60 percent—if you get it, you're likely to die. Yet since 2003, the virus has killed only 455 people. The much "milder" flu viruses, by contrast, kill fewer than 0.1 percent of people they infect, on average, but are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.
Severe illness caused by viruses such as H5N1 also means that infected people can be identified and isolated, or that they died quickly. They do not walk around feeling just a little under the weather, seeding the virus. The new coronavirus (known technically as SARS-CoV-2) that has been spreading around the world can cause a respiratory illness that can be severe. The disease (known as COVID-19) seems to have a fatality rate of less than 2 percent—exponentially lower than most outbreaks that make global news. The virus has raised alarm not despite that low fatality rate, but because of it.
Coronaviruses are similar to influenza viruses in that they are both single strands of RNA. Four coronaviruses commonly infect humans, causing colds. These are believed to have evolved in humans to maximize their own spread—which means sickening, but not killing, people. By contrast, the two prior novel coronavirus outbreaks—SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome, named for where the first outbreak occurred)—were picked up from animals, as was H5N1. These diseases were highly fatal to humans. If there were mild or asymptomatic cases, they were extremely few. Had there been more of them, the disease would have spread widely. Ultimately, SARS and MERS each killed fewer than 1,000 people.
COVID-19 is already reported to have killed more than twice that number. With its potent mix of characteristics, this virus is unlike most that capture popular attention: It is deadly, but not too deadly. It makes people sick, but not in predictable, uniquely identifiable ways. Last week, 14 Americans tested positive on a cruise ship in Japan despite feeling fine—the new virus may be most dangerous because, it seems, it may sometimes cause no symptoms at all.
The world has responded with unprecedented speed and mobilization of resources. The new virus was identified extremely quickly. Its genome was sequenced by Chinese scientists and shared around the world within weeks. The global scientific community has shared genomic and clinical data at unprecedented rates. Work on a vaccine is well under way. The Chinese government enacted dramatic containment measures, and the World Health Organization declared an emergency of international concern. All of this happened in a fraction of the time it took to even identify H5N1 in 1997. And yet the outbreak continues to spread.
The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch is exacting in his diction, even for an epidemiologist. Twice in our conversation he started to say something, then paused and said, "Actually, let me start again." So it's striking when one of the points he wanted to get exactly right was this: "I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable."
Containment is the first step in responding to any outbreak. In the case of COVID-19, the possibility (however implausible) of preventing a pandemic seemed to play out in a matter of days. Starting in January, China began cordoning off progressively larger areas, radiating outward from Wuhan City and eventually encapsulating some 100 million people. People were barred from leaving home, and lectured by drones if they were caught outside. Nonetheless, the virus has now been found in 24 countries.
Despite the apparent ineffectiveness of such measures—relative to their inordinate social and economic cost, at least—the crackdown continues to escalate. Under political pressure to "stop" the virus, last Thursday the Chinese government announced that officials in the Hubei province would be going door to door, testing people for fevers and looking for signs of illness, then sending all potential cases to quarantine camps. But even with the ideal containment, the virus's spread may have been inevitable. Testing people who are already extremely sick is an imperfect strategy if people can spread the virus without even feeling bad enough to stay home from work.
Lipsitch predicts that, within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. "It's likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic," he said. As with influenza, which is often life-threatening to people with chronic health conditions and of older age, most cases pass without medical care. (Overall, around 14 percent of people with influenza have no symptoms.)
Lipsitch is far from alone in his belief that this virus will continue to spread widely. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that the most likely outcome of this outbreak is a new seasonal disease—a fifth "endemic" coronavirus. With the other four, people are not known to develop long-lasting immunity. If this one follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, "cold and flu season" could become "cold and flu and COVID-19 season."
At this point, it is not even known how many people are infected. As of Sunday, there have been 35 confirmed cases in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization. But Lipsitch's "very, very rough" estimate when we spoke a week ago (banking on "multiple assumptions piled on top of each other," he said) was that 100 or 200 people in the U.S. were infected. That's all it would take to seed the disease widely. The rate of spread would depend on how contagious the disease is in milder cases. On Friday, Chinese scientists reported in the medical journal JAMA an apparent case of asymptomatic spread of the virus, from a patient with a normal chest CT scan. The researchers concluded with stolid understatement that if this finding is not a bizarre abnormality, "the prevention of COVID-19 infection would prove challenging."
Even if Lipsitch's estimates were off by orders of magnitude, they wouldn't likely change the overall prognosis. "Two hundred cases of a flu-like illness during flu season—when you're not testing for it—is very hard to detect," Lipsitch said. "But it would be really good to know sooner rather than later whether that's correct, or whether we've miscalculated something. The only way to do that is by testing."
Originally, doctors in the U.S. were advised not to test people unless they had been to China or had contact with someone who had been diagnosed with the disease. Within the past two weeks, the CDC said it would start screening people in five U.S. cities, in an effort to give some idea of how many cases are actually out there. But tests are still not widely available. As of Friday, the Association of Public Health Laboratories said that only California, Nebraska, and Illinois had the capacity to test people for the virus.
With so little data, prognosis is difficult. But the concern that this virus is beyond containment—that it will be with us indefinitely—is nowhere more apparent than in the global race to find a vaccine, one of the clearest strategies for saving lives in the years to come.
Over the past month, stock prices of a small pharmaceutical company named Inovio more than doubled. In mid-January, it reportedly discovered a vaccine for the new coronavirus. This claim has been repeated in many news reports, even though it is technically inaccurate. Like other drugs, vaccines require a long testing process to see if they indeed protect people from disease, and do so safely. What this company—and others—has done is copy a bit of the virus's RNA that one day could prove to work as a vaccine. It's a promising first step, but to call it a discovery is like announcing a new surgery after sharpening a scalpel.
Though genetic sequencing is now extremely fast, making vaccines is as much art as science. It involves finding a viral sequence that will reliably cause a protective immune-system memory but not trigger an acute inflammatory response that would itself cause symptoms. (While the influenza vaccine cannotcause the flu, CDC warns that it can cause "flu-like symptoms.") Hitting this sweet spot requires testing, first in lab models and animals, and eventually in people. One does not simply ship a billion viral gene fragments around the world to be injected into everyone at the moment of discovery.
Inovio is far from the only small biotech company venturing to create a sequence that strikes that balance. Others include Moderna, CureVac, and Novavax. Academic researchers are also on the case, at Imperial College London and other universities, as are federal scientists in several countries, including at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Anthony Fauci, head of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wrote in JAMA in January that the agency was working at historic speed to find a vaccine. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, researchers moved from obtaining the genomic sequence of the virus and into a phase 1 clinical trial of a vaccine in 20 months. Fauci wrote that his team has since compressed that timeline to just over three months for other viruses, and for the new coronavirus, "they hope to move even faster."
New models have sprung up in recent years, too, that promise to speed up vaccine development. One is the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), which was launched in Norway in 2017 to finance and coordinate the development of new vaccines. Its founders include the governments of Norway and India, the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The group's money is now flowing to Inovio and other small biotech start-ups, encouraging them to get into the risky business of vaccine development. The group's CEO, Richard Hatchett, shares Fauci's basic timeline vision—a COVID-19 vaccine ready for early phases of safety testing in April. If all goes well, by late summer testing could begin to see if the vaccine actually prevents disease.
Overall, if all pieces fell into place, Hatchett guesses it would be 12 to 18 months before an initial product could be deemed safe and effective. That timeline represents "a vast acceleration compared with the history of vaccine development," he told me. But it's also unprecedentedly ambitious. "Even to propose such a timeline at this point must be regarded as hugely aspirational," he added.
Even if that idyllic year-long projection were realized, the novel product would still require manufacturing and distribution. "An important consideration is whether the underlying approach can then be scaled to produce millions or even billions of doses in coming years," Hatchett said. Especially in an ongoing emergency, if borders closed and supply chains broke, distribution and production could prove difficult purely as a matter of logistics.
Fauci's initial optimism seemed to wane, too. Last week he said that the process of vaccine development was proving "very difficult and very frustrating." For all the advances in basic science, the process cannot proceed to an actual vaccine without extensive clinical testing, which requires manufacturing many vaccines and meticulously monitoring outcomes in people. The process could ultimately cost hundreds of millions of dollars—money that the NIH, start-ups, and universities don't have. Nor do they have the production facilities and technology to mass-manufacture and distribute a vaccine.
Production of vaccines has long been contingent on investment from one of the handful of giant global pharmaceutical companies. At the Aspen Institute last week, Fauci lamented that none had yet to "step up" and commit to making the vaccine. "Companies that have the skill to be able to do it are not going to just sit around and have a warm facility, ready to go for when you need it," he said. Even if they did, taking on a new product like this could mean massive losses, especially if the demand faded or if people, for complex reasons, chose not to use the product.
Making vaccines is so difficult, cost intensive, and high risk that in the 1980s, when drug companies began to incur legal costs over alleged harms caused by vaccines, many opted to simply quit making them. To incentivize the pharmaceutical industry to keep producing these vital products, the U.S. government offered to indemnify anyone claiming to have been harmed by a vaccine. The arrangement continues to this day. Even still, drug companies have generally found it more profitable to invest in the daily-use drugs for chronic conditions. And coronaviruses could present a particular challenge in that at their core they are, like influenza viruses, a single strand of RNA. This viral class is likely to mutate, and vaccines may need to be in constant development, as with the flu.
"If we're putting all our hopes in a vaccine as being the answer, we're in trouble," Jason Schwartz, an assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health who studies vaccine policy, told me. The best-case scenario, as Schwartz sees it, is the one in which this vaccine development happens far too late to make a difference for the current outbreak. The real problem is that preparedness for this outbreak should have been happening for the past decade, ever since SARS. "Had we not set the SARS-vaccine-research program aside, we would have had a lot more of this foundational work that we could apply to this new, closely related virus, " he said. But, as with Ebola, government funding and pharmaceutical-industry development evaporated once the sense of emergency lifted. "Some very early research ended up sitting on a shelf because that outbreak ended before a vaccine needed to be aggressively developed."
On Saturday, Politico reported that the White House is preparing to ask Congress for $1 billion in emergency funding for a coronavirus response. This request, if it materialized, would come in the same month in which President Donald Trump released a new budget proposal that would cut key elements of pandemic preparedness—funding for the CDC, the NIH, and foreign aid.
These long-term government investments matter because creating vaccines, antiviral medications, and other vital tools requires decades of serious investment, even when demand is low. Market-based economies often struggle to develop a product for which there is no immediate demand and to distribute products to the places they're needed. CEPI has been touted as a promising model to incentivize vaccine development before an emergency begins, but the group also has skeptics. Last year, Doctors Without Borders wrote a scathing open letter, saying the model didn't ensure equitable distribution or affordability. CEPI subsequently updated its policies to forefront equitable access, and Manuel Martin, a medical innovation and access adviser with Doctors Without Borders, told me last week that he's now cautiously optimistic. "CEPI is absolutely promising, and we really hope that it will be successful in producing a novel vaccine," he said. But he and his colleagues are "waiting to see how CEPI's commitments play out in practice."
These considerations matter not simply as humanitarian benevolence, but also as effective policy. Getting vaccines and other resources to the places where they will be most helpful is essential to stop disease from spreading widely. During the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, for example, Mexico was hit hard. In Australia, which was not, the government prevented exports by its pharmaceutical industry until it filled the Australian government's order for vaccines. The more the world enters lockdown and self-preservation mode, the more difficult it could be to soberly assess risk and effectively distribute tools, from vaccines and respirator masks to food and hand soap.
Italy, Iran, and South Korea are now among the countries reporting quickly growing numbers of detected COVID-19 infections. Many countries have responded with containment attempts, despite the dubious efficacy and inherent harms of China's historically unprecedented crackdown. Certain containment measures will be appropriate, but widely banning travel, closing down cities, and hoarding resources are not realistic solutions for an outbreak that lasts years. All of these measures come with risks of their own. Ultimately some pandemic responses will require opening borders, not closing them. At some point the expectation that any area will escape effects of COVID-19 must be abandoned: The disease must be seen as everyone's problem.
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News from around the world from Military Periscope for 27 February
USA—Navy's Nuclear Reactor Builder To Take Hit If Only 1 Virginia-Class Sub Funded In 2021 USNI News | 02/27/2020 The head of the only manufacturer of nuclear reactors for naval warships in the U.S. has warned that plans to buy only one Virginia-class attack submarine in fiscal 2021 will hurt the firm, reports USNI News. On Tuesday, Rex Geveden, the chief executive of BWX Technologies, said that the company's financials could begin taking a hit as early as calendar year 2021 and reach a peak two to three years later. The financial consequences could begin emerging in the fourth quarter of calendar 2020, but that is only in the unlikely scenario that a budget is passed before October, Geveden said. Plans to continue building two Virginias in future years and the upcoming start of production on the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines mean that BWX would have to continue investing to expand capacity even if orders dropped temporarily. The Navy's plan to purchase a single Virginia-class sub next year has not been finalized. A second boat is at the top of its unfunded priorities list. Congress has also voiced opposition to reducing the construction rate.
Canada—Ottawa Extends Deadline For Initial Bids For Fighter Program Ottawa Citizen | 02/27/2020 The Canadian government has delayed the deadline to submit bids for its fighter replacement competition following a request from industry, reports the Ottawa Citizen. On Tuesday, the government announced that the deadline had been postponed from March 30 to June 30. Industry sought the additional three months to address security questions, reported Reuters. Only three competitors are expected to bid for the program: Lockheed Martin with the F-35 Lightning; Boeing with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; and Saab with the JAS-39 Gripen E. Ottawa expects to select a winner in 2022, with the first fighter to be delivered in 2025.
United Kingdom—2,000 Troops Headed To Norway For Cold Response Drill U.K. Ministry Of Defense | 02/27/2020 The U.K. is sending more than 2,000 personnel to a Norwegian-led Arctic exercise, reports the U.K. Ministry of Defense. Preparations for the exercise in Norway are scheduled to begin on Feb. 27. The main element, a high-intensity combat scenario, is set to run from March 12 to March 18. The amphibious vessels Albion and Lyme Bay, the frigate Sutherland and the hydrographic vessel Echo have been deployed to the exercise. The Sutherland will conduct anti-submarine warfare, gunnery and boarding training during the drills. About 1,000 Royal Marines are taking part as part of a decade-long training program agreed to with their Norwegian counterparts, the ministry said. Elements of the Joint Helicopter Command group are also participating, including Commando Helicopter Force Merlin Mk 4 and Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters and army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. Around 14,000 personnel are expected to take part in the drills, including contingents from Norway, the U.S., Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
Netherlands—Torpedo Upgrades Sought For Subs U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency | 02/27/2020 The Netherlands is seeking to upgrade more of its Mk 48 torpedoes, reports the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The proposed US$85 million deal covers 16 Mk 48 Mod 7 Advanced Technology (AT) torpedo conversion kits, related equipment and support services. The kits would be used to convert the Dutch navy's existing Mk 48 Mod 4 torpedoes to the Mk 48 Mod 7 AT standard for use on its Walrus-class submarines.
Russia—Hypersonic Missile Under Development For Su-57 Diplomat | 02/27/2020 Russia says it has developed a hypersonic air-to-ground missile for internal carriage on the stealthy Su-57 fighter, reports the Diplomat (Tokyo). A prototype of the missile has already been built, said defense industry sources cited by Russia's Tass news agency. The new missile has yet to be tested with an Su-57. Industry sources said in December 2018 that the new fighter might be armed with a hypersonic weapon similar to the Kh-47M2 Khinzal air-launched ballistic missile, which is being integrated with MiG-31 fighter jets. There has also been speculation that the Su-57 will carry a new hypersonic air-to-air missile, a variant of the RVV-BD. The Su-57, the first stealthy aircraft to be operated by the Russian air force, is expected to enter service later this year.
Russia—Tsirkon Hypersonic Missile Test-Fired From Frigate Tass | 02/27/2020 The Russian military test-launched a hypersonic weapon from a warship for the first time last month, reports the Tass news agency (Moscow). In January, the frigate Admiral Gorshkov fired a Tsirkon hypersonic missile from the Barents Sea against a simulated ground target in the Ural mountain region, defense sources told the news agency on Thursday. The missile traveled more than 310 miles (500 km) during the test, the sources said. Additional Tsirkon trials aboard the Admiral Gorshkov are planned for this year. Once completed, the testing will move to nuclear-powered submarines. The Tsirkon reportedly has a top speed of Mach 9 and a range of more than 620 miles (1,000 km). In November, Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko indicated that the missiles were expected to be fielded on the destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov and the Irkutsk nuclear-powered sub.
Japan—Military Looks To Add Anti-Carrier Payload To Hypersonic Weapons Mainichi Shimbun | 02/27/2020 The Japanese Defense Ministry is considering upgrading a hypersonic weapon in development to accommodate an anti-aircraft carrier payload, reports the Mainichi Shimbun (Tokyo). The ministry wants to provide its hyper velocity gliding projectiles (HVGP) with an expanded capability to target warships as part of efforts to enhance the defense of Japan's southwest islands, which have seen an increase in Chinese maritime activity. An alternative payload could be fitted to the missile to enable it to penetrate the deck of an aircraft carrier, said unnamed sources. Concerns have been raised that such a weapon could violate Japan's defense-focused policies. Accordingly, the ministry is considering limiting its range to 310 miles (500 km) or less. The HVGP was first revealed in October 2018. The first phase calls for deploying an initial capability with the Ground Self-Defense Forces in fiscal 2026. A second stage would produce an improved variant with claw-shaped payloads, enhanced speed and range and more complex trajectories, with the goal of fielding it as soon as fiscal 2028. The move is a response to China's expanded maritime activities in waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan, and other parts of the country.
South Korea—Spring Drills With U.S. Postponed Due To Coronavirus Yonhap | 02/27/2020 The U.S. and South Korean militaries have decided to postpone annual springtime joint exercises due to the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul). A joint computer-based command-post exercise planned for March has been delayed indefinitely after South Korea raised its alert rating to "severe," the highest level, the Combined Forces Command (CFC) said on Thursday. The postponement came after South Korea reported 505 new cases in a single day, bringing the total to at least 1,766, including 21 in the military, reported Reuters. The outbreak has been centered around the southern city of Daegu. South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeog Doo said that the suspension of the training would not affect the joint readiness posture.
India—34 Killed In New Delhi Violence The Hindu | 02/27/2020 At least 34 people have been killed in inter-religious violence in New Delhi this week, reports the Hindu (Chennai). On Thursday, a large-scale security deployment reduced confrontation in and around the capital for the first time in five days, reported Reuters. Fighting began on Sunday among protesters favoring and opposing a new citizenship law. The demonstrations initially focused on the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) but quickly devolved into sectarian attacks, largely by supporters of the Hindu nationalist movement. Critics claim the CAA, which fast-tracks citizenship for non-Muslims in neighboring countries, discriminates against Muslims and is part of a wider effort to reduce the percentage of the Indian population that is Muslim. A judge hearing a case related to the violence on Wednesday criticized the police and government for inaction in the face of the violence, reported BBC News. An order for his transfer followed shortly thereafter. Officials said the transfer was routine and unrelated to his criticism.
Afghanistan—7 Taliban Militants Die In Roadside Blast Khaama Press | 02/27/2020 At least seven Taliban fighters have been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan's northern Balkh province, reports the Khaama Press (Afghanistan). On Wednesday, a Taliban vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the village of Yolboldi in the Dawlatabad district, said the 209th Shaheen Corps, which is responsible for Afghan military forces in the region. All seven Taliban fighters in the vehicle were killed, said the corps. There were no reported casualties among security forces or civilians. It was unclear who laid the device. The Taliban did not immediately comment on the incident. The explosion came during a reduction in violence agreement and ahead of an anticipated accord between the U.S. and the Taliban to reduce the American presence in the country. Officials told the Pajhwok news agency (Afghanistan) that the agreement has reduced overall violence in the country by about 94 percent.
Iran—Military Hosts Bilateral Talks With Azerbaijan Mehr News Agency | 02/27/2020 Senior Azerbaijani military officials have been visiting Iran for talks on bilateral cooperation, reports the Mehr news agency (Tehran). Wednesday's meeting was led by Brig. Gen. Ghadir Nezami, the head of international and international affairs for the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, and Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Defense Muhamedow Fuad. The agenda covered various areas of joint cooperation, including the exchange of military delegations and officials in various fields of education; joint exercises; scientific and research collaboration; military medicine; sports and cultural cooperation; and other areas of mutual interest. Expert meetings between the Azerbaijani delegation and senior Iranian military officials were scheduled to follow. The delegation's visit is expected to conclude with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. During a follow-on meeting, Iranian navy chief Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi said his country was prepared to conduct joint maritime exercises with the Azerbaijani navy at various levels. This was the second meeting of the joint commission. During the visit, both sides agreed to hold a third meeting in Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, next year.
Saudi Arabia—Convicted Spy Sentenced To Death Al Jazeera | 02/27/2020 A Saudi Arabian court has issued sentences for eight Saudi nationals convicted of treason and spying for Iran, reports Al Jazeera (Qatar). On Monday, one was sentenced to death for "betraying his country and offering intelligence to Iran," reported Al-Ekhbariya television. The spy allegedly provided secret national security documents to Iranian intelligence, including information on the layout of two foreign embassies in Tehran. The remaining seven were sentenced to a combined 58 years in jail for having "associated and cooperated with people working in the embassy of Iran."
Israel—Jet Downs Drone Over Med Arutz Sheva | 02/27/2020 The Israeli military says it has shot down an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) that took off from the Gaza Strip, reports Arutz Sheva (Israel). On Thursday, a drone took off from Gaza and, unusually, flew west over the Mediterranean, away from Israeli and Palestinian territory. An Israeli F-15 fighter responded, downing the UAV as it flew at an altitude 1,700 feet (520 m), about 5-8 miles (8-13 km) off the coast, reported the Times of Israel. The incident followed a flare-up in violence earlier this week. On Sunday and Monday, 50 rockets were launched from Gaza into southern Israel.
Syria—Rebels Recapture Strategic Town Of Saraqeb Syrian Observatory for Human Rights | 02/27/2020 Turkish-backed rebels in Syria say they have regained control of a strategic town in the northwestern Idlib province, reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (U.K.). Rebels have pushed out government forces from the city of Saraqeb, a spokesman for the National Liberation Front said on Thursday, as cited by Reuters. Other rebel sources confirmed the advance. Russian officials said that regime forces had repelled a rebel offensive, reported the Tass news agency. Saraqeb sits on the intersection of two major highways that link Aleppo with Damascus and the north of the country with the Mediterranean. Earlier this month, the Turkish-backed forces lost a series of towns in and around the northwestern Idlib province to regime forces. Rebels said that they had retaken the town of Nairab on Tuesday. On Wednesday, two Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike in Idlib, bringing the number of Turkish fatalities to 18. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to reverse regime gains and restore boundaries established under a September 2018 de-escalation accord with Russia.
Tunisia—AT-6 Light Attack Aircraft Sought From U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency | 02/27/2020 The U.S. State Dept. has approved the sale of four AT-6C Wolverine light attack aircraft and associated equipment to Tunisia, reports the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The proposed US$325.8 million sale also includes 468 Mk 81 250-lb (112-kg) general-purpose bombs; 48 Mk 82 500-lb (226-lb) bombs; 18 BDU-50 inert Mk 82 training bombs; 3,290 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guided rockets; two spare PT6A-680 engines; six L3-Wescam MX-15 multispectral targeting sensors; six .50-caliber machine guns and other associated equipment. The potential deal would also include technical and logistics support as well as training. The aircraft would increase the Tunisian military's capacity to counter terrorist and other violent extremist organization threats, the agency said. The announcement does not mean a deal has been concluded. Congress has 30 days to review the proposed sale.
Burundi—24 Killed In Fighting Near Bujumbura Al Jazeera | 02/27/2020 Two dozen alleged militants and members of the security forces have been killed in fighting in the hills west of the city of Bujumbura, the economic capital of Burundi, reports Al Jazeera (Qatar). On Sunday, police killed 22 "evil-doers," in the fighting, said a police spokesman on Tuesday. The teacher who led the group was among the dead, he said. The clash was the culmination of a week-long police operation in the Isale and Nyabiraba districts of the Bujumbura-Rural province. Local sources alleged that at least 12 individuals were executed after surrendering to police and the Imbonerakure governing party youth group. The group was working to cause violence to "take advantage of the upcoming electoral period," the spokesman said. Presidential elections are scheduled for May 20. Two police officers were also killed in the fighting.