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Covid-19 variants may not evolve to be less dangerous, says Neil Ferguson | Coronavirus



People should not assume that Covid will evolve to become a milder disease, a senior scientist has warned, adding that the threat posed by the Omicron coronavirus variant will not be clear until the end of December.

Prof Neil Ferguson, head of the disease outbreak analysis and modelling group at Imperial College London, told MPs on Wednesday that while evolution would drive Covid to spread more easily the virus might not become less dangerous.

“Most of the transmission has already happened by the time people get hospitalised,” Ferguson told the Commons science and technology committee. “The virus cares about replicating very fast within the respiratory tract and getting out into the environment. If that happens to kill somebody 10 days later the virus really doesn’t care.”

His comments came as minutes from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) revealed that the experts urged UK ministers last week to take “early and robust actions” to limit the transmission of the Omicron variant.

The scientists noted that firm data was not yet available but early analysis of the variant provided “sufficiently worrying signals” for them to recommend “early and robust actions to prevent introduction and onward transmission”.

First detected in South Africa and named Omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO), the B.1.1.529 variant has prompted the government to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport and to dramatically increase the pace of the booster vaccine programme.

Ministers have also introduced more stringent self-isolation policies for those in contact with positive Omicron cases, and placed South Africa and a string of other countries on the travel red list.

The minutes of the Nervtag meeting, published on Wednesday, stressed that it remained unclear how serious the health outcomes of the variant could be but said a large wave of infections could potentially overwhelm the NHS. The group said preparations should be made to update vaccines and antibody treatments.

“Although data on disease severity associated with B.1.1.529 are not yet available, a large wave of infections will be accompanied by a wave of severe cases and the subgroup cannot rule out that this may be sufficient to overwhelm NHS capacity,” the minutes said.

Separately, leaked minutes from a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), to which Nervtag reports, suggested experts had called on the government to introduce pre-departure testing for travellers returning to the UK. The BBC reported that minutes of a meeting held on Monday revealed scientists saying such testing – which Labour has called for – could be valuable.

Ferguson told MPs that while some viruses did become less dangerous over time this was not always the case. Two of the most prominent variants of Covid-19, the Alpha and Delta variants, had each caused more severe disease than their predecessors, he said.

He said: “It’s too early to say whether Omicron is going to be more or less severe than previous variants, but what we have seen so far is, Alpha has been more severe than the previous strain, a little in terms of severe outcomes counterbalanced by the fact that we have treatments, and Delta was more severe again.

“The trend we have seen so far is toward greater severity, not lesser severity, thankfully countered by better treatments … that mean people have a much better chance of surviving severe Covid today than they did at the outset of the pandemic.”

Viruses mutate all the time as they replicate in infected bodies. Most of the mutations have a detrimental or neutral impact on the virus, but some can improve its ability to spread. This might happen if a variant binds better to human cells, or multiplies faster inside cells, or causes people to be infectious for longer.

In a highly immune population such as the UK, a variant can gain the upper hand if its mutations make it harder for the immune system to attack.

Mutations in the Omicron variant are expected to make it both more transmissible and harder for antibodies to recognise. The concerns have sparked an urgent global effort to understand how well vaccines and immunity after infection protect against the variant. The first results are expected in the next week or two, but Ferguson said it would take longer to gain a fuller understanding of the threat posed by Omicron.

When the Alpha and Delta variants emerged it took several weeks for epidemiologists to gather enough data to work out how much more transmissible they were, and the extent of any immune evasion.

Ferguson said it would probably take “three to four weeks” to get an indication of the transmission and real-world vaccine effectiveness. “We have to be patient. It is likely to be towards the end of this month, when we have a clearer picture.”

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Coyote Vs. Acme: Release Date, Cast, And More – /Film



Coyote Vs. Acme: Release Date, Cast, And More  /Film

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The Calumniation Games by Kakegurui Creator Gets Japanese Release Date for PS5, PS4, & Switch



Today Izanagi Games announced the Japanese release date of the escape game/bullet hell shoot ’em up hybrid Yurukill: The Calumniation Games.

The game will release in Japan for PS5, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on April 14, 2022, making the previously-announced spring 2022 release window.

You’ll notice that the PC version is not mentioned, likely implying that it’ll launch alongside the western release, which we know will be handled by NIS America. That being said, NIS has not made an announcement yet, so we’ll have to wait and see.

If you’re not familiar with the game, it’s written by Homura Kawamoto, whom you may know for creating Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler, and by his younger brother, Hikaru Muno.

The character design is by mangaka Hiro Kiyohara, who worked on Valkyria Revolution, while the music is by Yuko Komiyama, known for the Monster Hunter and Mega Man series.

Here’s how the developer describes Yurukill: The Calumniation Games.

Solve Puzzles

Investigate attractions and uncover clues to help solve the puzzles you encounter.

With their sights set on victory, the teams face their attractions in the Yurukill Games. The documents you acquire by solving puzzles are the key to unlocking the secrets behind everything.

Glean hints from helpful conversations there to support the player and ensure even the toughest riddles aren’t an obstacle to enjoying the game.

Maji-kill Time

Lay it all on the line in extreme, life or death cross-examinations!

Executioners can end the life of their Prisoners any time via their Yurukill Passports. With their lives hanging in the balance, Prisoners must face cross-examination at the hands of their Executioners.

Make the correct selections within the time limit and weave through all the obstacles in the conversations!

Yurukill Judgment

Experience the cutting-edge BR (Brain Reality), developed by Yurukill, Inc.

Prisoners and Executioners pilot Yurukill Fighters within the virtual reality generated by the BR. Prisoners must stake their lives on these nail-biting firefights as they seek the truth behind the incidents they stand accused of!

Difficulty can be adjusted for players wishing to focus on the story.

High-Speed Quizzes

Take to the helm of your Yurukill Fighter and delve into the details of your alleged crimes in high-speed quizzes.

Gain lives for use in the BR depending on how many answers you get right.

Shoot ’em Up Stages

As a Prisoner, you’ll be hunted down by a whole host of different foes.

Defeat your assailants, and avoid being gunned down as you try and get through to your Executioner!

Prejudice Synapse

Explore a visual representation of your Executioner’s mind.

Use the evidence you acquire during the adventure sections to destroy the prejudices lurking in their heads, and free them from the notion that you, the Prisoner, are guilty.

Mind Maze

The neuron pathway is a visualization of the route leading to the core of the Executioner’s brain, containing what they perceive as the truth.

Complete the sentences relating to each incident and clear a way through the labyrinth of thoughts.

Boss Battles

Face the Executioners in intense boss battles.

Smash through “Mind Walls” and “Brain Barriers”—the shields that manifest to protect the Executioners’ innermost thoughts—and prove that you’ve been falsely accused!

Run the gauntlet over and over in the Shooting Mode—unlocked as you progress through the main story.

Score Attack Mode

Choose Your Fighter

In Score Attack mode, face your choice of stage in your choice of fighter.

Each Prisoner pilots a different Yurukill Fighter with its own quirks, allowing for a variety of playstyles.

Ranked Score Attack Mode

In this mode players can face a stage of their choice in Stage Score Attack, or play through all unlocked stages consecutively in Complete Score Attack. With freedom over which stage you play and a variety of difficulties to choose from, they’re also perfect for practice.

Aim to beat your own score in the top 100 personal best ranked mode, or compete with players nationwide for the top spot in the online ranked mode.

Choose a play style that suits you and aim for that elusive highscore!

If you want to see more, you can check out plenty of gameplay trailers, more gameplay, the theme song performed by Saori Hayami, and several character trailers featuring Kristina Kobayashi, Allan Poe Akechi, Keiichi Oka, Hanaka Ichirin, Izane Akegarasu, Gentoku Omuro, Kagura Kagutsuchi, Raita Yamada, Futa Yamada, Sengoku Shunju, Rina Azami, and the host of the Yurukill Games, Binko

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