COVID-19 patients in ICUs at a Florida hospital are 'begging' to be vaccinated, nurse says


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A California man in his early 30s who derided vaccines on Twitter and Instagram died of COVID-19

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Stephen Harmon's death was announced by the Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston on Twitter on Thursday.

Houston wrote on Instagram that Harmon was in his early 30s, a graduate of Hillsong College, and a "vital part of our church in California."

"He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him," Houston wrote.

Harmon posted an image of himself in the hospital at the start of July:

Hillsong is a popular church among celebrities including Justin Bieber and Vanessa Hudgens but has faced accusations recently that church leaders made racist remarks and that LGBTQ members were blacklisted.

Before his death, Harmon made jokes about the virus on Twitter, including references to his decision not to get vaccinated.

On June 3, Harmon tweeted: "If you're having email problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got 99 problems but a vax ain't one!"

The tweet was a reference to the Jay-Z song "99 Problems."

Three days later, Harmon made another reference to being unvaccinated.

"Since everything is a social construct these days & folks out here identifying as different races than they're born as (Rachel Dolezal now Nkechi Amare Diallo) I've decided that I, now, identify as a 6'3 D1 collegiate athlete. And, if you prefer, I'll identify as vaccinated, too," Harmon wrote.

Harmon also made a joke about the widespread trust in Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious-disease expert.

"When you can't trust the Bible cause it was written by man, but you trust the CDC/Fauci guidelines cause they were written by man. Makes total sense," Harmon tweeted on May 26.

Harmon posted on Instragram on June 30 from the hospital saying he had contracted the virus. He then gave regular updates on his condition.

On July 8, he posted another anti-vaccine joke and criticized what he termed undue pressure to encourage people to take the shot. He wrote alongside the post: "i'm not against it, i'm just not in a rush to get it… ironically, as I continue to lay here, in South Corona, in my covid ward isolation room fighting off the virus and pneumonia. And no, i will not be getting vaccinated once i am discharged and released."

In the days that followed, Harmon wrote that his condition had improved, then worsened again. His last tweet was posted Wednesday, when Harmon said he was choosing to be intubated.

"I've fought this thing as hard as I can but unfortunately it's reached a point of critical choice & as much as I hate having to do this i'd rather it be willingness than forced emergency procedure," he wrote. "don't know when I'll wake up, please pray."

Israeli company begins clinical trials of an ORAL COVID-19 vaccine 

Daily Mail 22 July, 2021 - 02:31pm

By Mary Kekatos Acting U.S. Health Editor For Dailymail.Com

An Israeli company is set to become the first in the world to begin clinical trials of an oral COVID-19 vaccine.

Oravax Medical, a subsidiary of Jerusalem-based Oramed Pharmaceuticals, has received a green light to begin the study from the Institutional Review Board at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

The team is now waiting for approval from the Health Ministry, which is expected within a few weeks.

Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron told The Jerusalem Post that an oral vaccine would be faster, cheaper and easier to manufacture than vaccines that are injected.

What's more, it could be easily distributed to low-and middle-income countries.

'An oral COVID-19 vaccine would eliminate several barriers to rapid, wide-scale distribution, potentially enabling people to take the vaccine themselves at home,' he said. 

'While ease of administration is critical today to accelerate inoculation rates, an oral vaccine could become even more valuable in the case that a COVID-19 vaccine may be recommended annually like the standard flu shot.' 

Oravax Medical, a subsidiary of Jerusalem-based Oramed Pharmaceuticals, is developing an oral COVID-19 vaccine

The oral vaccine targets three proteins on the virus rather then the single spike protein that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines target and researchers say it is faster, cheaper and easier to manufacture than injectables (file image)

The technology is the same that the company is using to develop insulin capsules for type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients Nadav Kidron told The Jerusalem Post.   

Kidron explained the trials are initially being conducted as a 'proof of concept' rather than testing efficacy. 

Researchers are recruiting 24 unvaccinated volunteers  with half receiving one pill and the other half two pills.

The team will analyze safety and then take participants' blood samples to measure antibody levels.

If results prove successful, the trial will move into Phase III when the capsules will be tested against a placebo.  

'The idea here is that we want to show proof of concept: that it works for people,' Kidron told The Jerusalem Post.

'I pray and hope that we will. Imagine that we could give someone an oral vaccine and they are vaccinated. This would be a revolution for the entire world.' 

The Oravax vaccine targets three proteins on the virus rather then the single spike protein that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines target. 

Kidron says this should help the pill be much more effective against variant, which often have mutations on the spike protein.

'This vaccine should be much more resistant to COVID-19 variants,' he told The Jerusalem Post. 

'Even if the virus gets through one line, there is a second line, and if through the second line, there is a third.' 

The pill can be shipped in refrigeration cooler and even be stored at room temperature, unlike other COVID-19. 

What's more, it would not need to be administered by a health professional, making it easy to distribute in schools, offices  and other businesses.

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