Tag: lab

 

Lab under investigation as New Mexico deals with virus surge

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is scheduled Tuesday to provide an update on COVID-19 cases after a string of record-breaking daily case counts prompted more restrictions last week and officials continue to crack down on employers who they say aren’t following the rules.

The state’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has opened an investigation of Sandia National Laboratories after receiving a complaint about alleged violations of the state public health order.

A letter sent Monday by the bureau and obtained by The Associated Press alleges that the national laboratory failed to comply with the health order by not limiting operations to remote work to the greatest extent practicable to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The state claims employees were ordered to cease telework and report to work in-person.

The state is requiring the lab to inform all employees and contractors of the investigation. The lab also has been ordered to complete an internal investigation to identify the root cause of COVID-19 cases that occurred in the last two weeks for each employee and contractor who tested positive.

If the lab doesn’t comply, the state says it’s authorized to post a notice of imminent danger on lab property and assess civil penalties up to $134,904 per violation.


“It is clear that neither federal (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) nor the (U.S. Department of Energy) are effectively holding Sandia National Laboratories accountable for protecting its employees from occupational exposure of COVID-19,” the letter states.

Lab spokeswoman Kristen Meub said Sandia’s top priority is to keep employees safe and healthy and that stringent safety measures have been implemented during the pandemic. She said Sandia is coordinating with the Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration to respond to the state in a timely manner.

“From the start of the pandemic through Oct. 15, the majority of Sandia COVID cases were acquired offsite and outside work hours,” Meub said. “As a result of our protective measures, such as safety protocols onsite, contact tracing has confirmed the vast majority of cases among Sandia employees was caused by community spread transmission away from the worksite.”

More than 100 workers at Sandia locations in New Mexico and California have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. The lab has more than 14,000 workers, with more than 12,000 of those located in New Mexico.

While the majority of employees work from home, Sandia officials say the lab has essential work that must be performed onsite to meet national security responsibilities. For those workers, the lab provides personal protective materials such as masks and sanitizer and daily health checks are done before they’re allowed onsite.

The lab also provides onsite testing with results in less than 24 hours, contact tracing, increased cleaning and disinfecting and other measures per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Lab officials say Sandia’s protocols exceed the state requirements in many cases.

Despite having some of the strictest rules in the U.S., Lujan Grisham’s administration has been struggling

UK lab joins global network to compare coronavirus vaccine candidates

LONDON (Reuters) – A second British laboratory is joining a global lab network to assess data from potential coronavirus vaccines, set up by a major non-profit health emergencies group to establish the effectiveness of different vaccine candidates.

Earlier this month, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) set up the network, allowing scientists and drugmakers to compare vaccines and speed up selection of the most effective shots.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said on Tuesday the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) was joining the scheme, and had received funding from CEPI to develop an international standard for the COVID-19 antibody.

That means the NIBSC will produce a sample of antibody with a defined amount of biological activity that can be used by regulators and vaccine makers to calibrate their tests.

“This is an important initiative providing a service to vaccine developers globally and permits accurate evaluation of candidate vaccines for this pandemic,” Dr Mark Page, who is leading the work at NIBSC, said.

Public Health England is also involved in the CEPI scheme.

Hundreds of potential coronavirus vaccines are in various stages of development around the world, with shots developed in Russia and China already being deployed before full efficacy trials have been done, and front-runners from Pfizer <PFE.N>, Moderna <MRNA.O> and AstraZeneca <AZN.L> likely to have final-stage trial results before year-end.

CEPI itself is co-funding nine of the vaccines in development, including candidates from Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax <NVAX.O> and CureVac.

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Mark Potter)

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One in four Americans believe coronavirus was engineered in Wuhan lab

  • Researchers surveyed people in five countries to assess which coronavirus-related conspiracy theories have taken root.
  • The most popular theory suggests the virus was “bioengineered in a laboratory in Wuhan.” Between 22% and 23% of Americans and Britons viewed that as “reliable.”
  • The study found that people who are older, numerically savvy, and trust scientists are less likely to fall for coronavirus misinformation.
  • Genetic evidence discredits the theory that the coronavirus was man-made.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Lingering uncertainty how the coronavirus pandemic started creates fertile territory for conspiracy theories.

About one in four Americans and Britons think the idea that the virus was engineered in a Wuhan laboratory is a “reliable” claim, according to a recent study, despite abundant scientific evidence to the contrary.

The research, published earlier this week in the journal Royal Society for Open Science, found that an even higher portion of respondents in Ireland and Spain — 26% and 33%, respectively — put stock in that theory, as do nearly 40% of survey participants in Mexico.

“Certain misinformation claims are consistently seen as reliable by substantial sections of the public,” Sander van der Linden, a co-author of the new study and a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge, said in a press release.

What’s more, people who found the lab conspiracy idea reliable were generally more hesitant about getting a coronavirus vaccine.

“We find a clear link between believing coronavirus conspiracies and hesitancy around any future vaccine,” van der Linden added.

People who trust scientists are less likely to fall for misinformation

covid vaccine turkey

Dr. Mustafa Gerek is vaccinated in volunteer in trials of a COVID-19 vaccine from China at Ankara City Hospital in Ankara, Turkey on October 13, 2020.

Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images


The study authors sent an online survey to groups of 700 people in the US, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain, and to more than 1,000 people in the UK. They asked participants to rate how reliable certain statements about COVID-19 were on a scale of 1 to 7, and also asked about participants’ attitudes about a vaccine.

The researchers wanted to assess whether certain beliefs or demographics are correlated with how susceptible a person is to misinformation.

The results showed that respondents with “significantly and consistently” low levels of susceptibility to false information in all five countries also declared they trusted scientists and scored highly on a series of tasks designed to test their understanding of probability. Being older was linked to lower susceptibility to misinformation as well, in every country surveyed except Mexico.

Additionally, those who reported trusting their politicians to effectively tackle the crisis in Mexico, Spain, and the US were more likely to fall for conspiracy theories.

The study also found that respondents in Ireland, the UK, and the US who were exposed to coronavirus information on social media were more susceptible to misinformation.

Van der Linden’s team also found that as participants’ susceptibility increased, their intent to get vaccinated or recommend the vaccine to friends