A federal judge has postponed Trump administration's ban order on popular video-sharing app TikTok, just a few hours before the controversial ban was set to take effect.
Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a temporary ban on Sunday evening at the request of TikTok, reports BBC.
The ruling followed an emergency hearing Sunday morning in which lawyers for TikTok argued that the administration's app-store ban would infringe on First Amendment rights and do irreparable harm to the business.
The app had faced being blocked from Apple's App Store and Android's Google Play marketplace from 23:59 Eastern time.
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Existing US-based users would have been able to continue using it. But they would not have been able to re-download it if they deleted it from their phones, nor have been offered software updates.
Earlier this year, President Trump declared that TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, was a threat to national security and that it must either sell its US operations to American companies or be barred from the country, reports AP.
TikTok is still scrambling to firm up a deal tentatively struck a week ago in which it would partner with Oracle, a huge database-software company, and Walmart in an effort to win the blessing of both the Chinese and American governments.
In the meantime, it is fighting to keep the app available in the US.
TikTok said in a statement that it was pleased with the court ruling and continues to work to turn its deal proposal into an actual agreement.
The Commerce Department, which is responsible for the specific orders banning TikTok, said it will comply with the judge's order but intends to vigorously defend the administration's efforts against the app.
Judge Nichols did not explain his reasoning publicly, and instead filed his judicial opinion under seal.
Initially both the US government's brief in the case and the entire Sunday morning hearing were also due to be sealed from the public, although the court later relented.
Dismissing claims surrounding the origins of the novel Coronavirus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has reaffirmed the natural origin of the virus, reports Xinhua.
"The virus has happened naturally, “said WHO chief at a media briefing on COVID-19 on Friday.
“These’re all the publications we know, and if there's anything that will change this, it should come through the proper scientific process. WHO believes in science and evidence and that's why we say science, solutions and solidarity," he said.
Many studies on the origin of the virus have overwhelmingly shown that the virus, or SARS-CoV-2, originated naturally rather than from any institution.
Dr Tedros' statement comes shortly after a Chinese scientist in exile vowed to publish proof backing her allegations saying that the virus is not from nature, adding that it has been created in a Wuhan lab.
The Chinese virologist also claimed that the Chinese government and the WHO knew about the human-to-human transmission much before they made it public alleging that they had a fair idea of how badly it could affect the world if not contained, reports the Republic World.
China’s annual production capacity for coronavirus vaccines will top 1 billion doses by 2021, following an aggressive government support program for construction of new factories, said a Chinese health official, reports AP.
Capacity is expected to reach 610 million doses by the end of this year, Zheng Zhongwei from the National Health Commission said.
“Next year, our annual capacity will reach more than 1 billion doses,” he said at a news conference.
American pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna aim to produce a billion doses each in 2021 as well.
Zheng said distribution of the vaccines would prioritize groups such as medical workers, border personnel and the elderly before they are made available to the general public.
China has promoted the construction of vaccine testing facilities and manufacturing plants, and assigned independent monitors for their assembly. China has 11 vaccine candidates in human trials, with four of them currently in the third and final trials.
One of those is CoronaVac, made by the private company SinoVac, which is already rolling off the factory floor at a bio-secure facility outside Beijing. SinoVac’s chairman, Yin Weidong, said Thursday that the factory was built in months, and more could be constructed if demand is sufficient.
Some nations are pooling vaccine efforts to ensure success against the disease. More than 150 countries are setting up the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX, under the World Health Organization.
Their target is to make 2 billion doses to inoculate 20% of the world’s population.
The director-general of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said earlier this month that “the goal must be to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all the people in some countries."
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the global death toll from Covid-19 could hit two million before an effective vaccine is widely used, reports BBC.
The figure could be even higher without concerted action to curb the pandemic, Dr Mike Ryan, head of the UN agency's emergencies program, told a briefing on Friday.
The number of deaths about nine months since the novel coronavirus was discovered in China is approaching one million. "Unless we do it all, the number you speak about is not only imaginable, but unfortunately and sadly, very likely."
The start of a second surge of coronavirus infections has been seen in many countries in the northern hemisphere as winter approaches.
There has been a resurgence of infections across Europe, prompting warnings of national lockdowns similar to those imposed at the height of the first wave of the pandemic.
"Overall, within that very large region, we are seeing worrying increases of the disease," Dr Ryan said of the marked spike in cases in Europe.
He urged Europeans to ask themselves whether they had done enough to avoid the need for lockdowns - and whether alternatives, such as testing and tracing, quarantines and social distancing, had been implemented.
"Are we prepared to do what it takes to avoid that number?" Dr Ryan asked, calling on governments to do everything to control Covid-19.
Use of metformin, a drug safely used for 60 years to treat type 2 diabetes was linked to the slower cognitive decline and lower dementia rates, according to a new study released on Thursday.
The research, led by Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia studied the cognitive function change of 1037 Australians, aged between 70 to 90 years old during six-year period, reports Xinhua.
The research revealed among all participants who had type 2 diabetes, those taking metformin had a significantly slower cognitive decline and lower dementia risk compared to those not taking metformin.
The study also identified that the rate of decline in cognitive function was the same during the 6-year period between participants with type 2 diabetes taking metformin and those without diabetes.
The first author, Professor Katherine Samaras from Garvan Institute of Medical Research said type 2 diabetes patients have higher chance of developing dementia due to their inability to maintain blood glucose levels within a normal range.
"As they age, people living with type 2 diabetes have a staggering 60 percent risk of developing dementia, a devastating condition that impacts thinking, behaviour, the ability to perform everyday tasks and the ability to maintain independence," Samaras said.
"This has immense personal, family, economic and societal impacts."
Researchers suggested metformin may not only have cognitive benefits for people living with type 2 diabetes but could also help those without diabetes but at risk of cognitive decline.
"To establish a definitive effect, we are now planning a large, randomised controlled trial of metformin in individuals at risk of dementia and assess their cognitive function over three years," Samaras said.
"This may translate to us being able to repurpose this cheap medication with a robust safety profile to assist in preventing against cognitive decline in older people."