Mar 16, 2020 8:14 PM

Huskers spring volleyball match vs No. Colorado-Cancelled

Posted Mar 16, 2020 8:14 PM

Courtesy: NU Athletic Communications

The Nebraska volleyball spring match, scheduled for Saturday, April 25 against Northern Colorado in Grand Island, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 public health threat.

The NCAA and Big Ten Conference previously announced that all spring NCAA Championships have been canceled, and the Big Ten has canceled all conference and non-conference competitions through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year, and participation in all NCAA tournaments and competitions. 

Tickets purchased online on Ticketmaster.com or via phone will be automatically refunded. Tickets purchased in person can be returned to the Heartland Events Center box office for a refund. Print Friendly Version

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Mar 16, 2020 8:14 PM
 Coronavirus vaccine test opens with first doses
CDC image

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. researchers gave the first shots in a first test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday, leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges.

With careful jabs in the arms of four healthy volunteers, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle began an anxiously awaited first-stage study of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in record time after the new virus exploded out of China and fanned out across the globe.

“We’re team coronavirus now,” Kaiser Permanente study leader Dr. Lisa Jackson said on the eve of the experiment. “Everyone wants to do what they can in this emergency.”

The Associated Press observed as the study’s first participant, an operations manager at a small tech company, received the injection in an exam room.

“We all feel so helpless. This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something,” Jennifer Haller, 43, of Seattle said before getting vaccinated. Her two teenagers “think it's cool” that she's taking part in the study.

After the injection, she left the exam room with a big smile: “I'm feeling great."

Three others were next in line for a test that will ultimately give 45 volunteers two doses, a month apart.

Neal Browning, 46, of Bothell, Washington, is a Microsoft network engineer who says his young daughters are proud he volunteered.

“Every parent wants their children to look up to them,” he said. But he’s told them not to brag to their friends. “It’s other people, too. It’s not just Dad out there.”

Monday’s milestone marked just the beginning of a series of studies in people needed to prove whether the shots are safe and could work. Even if the research goes well, a vaccine would not be available for widespread use for 12 to 18 months, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Still, finding a vaccine “is an urgent public health priority,” Fauci said in a statement Monday. The new study “is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”

This vaccine candidate, code-named mRNA-1273, was developed by the NIH and Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected because the shots do not contain the coronavirus itself.

It’s not the only potential vaccine in the pipeline. Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine against COVID-19. Another candidate, made by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, is expected to begin its own safety study next month in the U.S., China and South Korea.

The Seattle experiment got underway days after the World Health Organization declared the new virus outbreak a pandemic because of its rapid global spread, which has infected more than 169,000 people and killed more than 6,500.

COVID-19 has upended the world’s social and economic fabric since China first identified the virus in January, with broad regions shuttering schools and businesses, restricting travel, canceling entertainment and sporting events, and encouraging people to stay away from each other.

Starting what scientists call a first-in-humans study is a momentous occasion for scientists, but Jackson described her team’s mood as “subdued.” They’ve been working around-the-clock readying the research in a part of the U.S. struck early and hard by the virus.

Still, “going from not even knowing that this virus was out there ... to have any vaccine” in testing in about two months is unprecedented, Jackson told the AP.

Some of the study’s carefully chosen healthy volunteers, ages 18 to 55, will get higher dosages than others to test how strong the inoculations should be. Scientists will check for any side effects and draw blood samples to test if the vaccine is revving up the immune system, looking for encouraging clues like the NIH earlier found in vaccinated mice.

“We don’t know whether this vaccine will induce an immune response or whether it will be safe. That’s why we’re doing a trial,” Jackson stressed. “It’s not at the stage where it would be possible or prudent to give it to the general population.”

Most of the vaccine research under way globally targets a protein aptly named “spike” that studs the surface of the new coronavirus and lets it invade human cells. Block that protein and people cannot get infected.

Researchers at the NIH copied the section of the virus’ genetic code that contains the instructions for cells to create the spike protein. Moderna encased that “messenger RNA” into a vaccine.

The idea: The body will become a mini-factory, producing some harmless spike protein. When the immune system spots the foreign protein, it will make antibodies to attack — and be primed to react quickly if the person later encounters the real virus.

That’s a much faster way of producing a vaccine than the traditional approach of growing virus in the lab and preparing shots from either killed or weakened versions of it.

But because vaccines are given to millions of healthy people, it takes time to test them in large enough numbers to spot an uncommon side effect, cautioned Dr. Nelson Michael of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, which is developing a different vaccine candidate.

“The science can go very quickly but, first, do no harm, right?” he told reporters last week.

The Seattle research institute is part of a government network that tests all kinds of vaccines and was chosen for the coronavirus vaccine study before COVID-19 began spreading widely in Washington state.

Kaiser Permanente screened dozens of people, looking for those who have no chronic health problems and are not currently sick. Researchers are not checking whether would-be volunteers already had a mild case of COVID-19 before deciding if they are eligible.

If some did, scientists will be able to tell by the number of antibodies in their pre-vaccination blood test and account for that, Jackson said. Participants will be paid $100 for each clinic visit in the study.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A clinical trial evaluating a vaccine designed to protect against the new coronavirus will begin Monday, according to a government official.

The first participant in the trial will receive the experimental vaccine on Monday, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the trial has not been publicly announced yet. The National Institutes of Health is funding the trial, which is taking place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, the official said.

Public health officials say it will take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.

Testing will begin with 45 young, healthy volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. There’s no chance participants could get infected from the shots, because they don’t contain the virus itself. The goal is purely to check that the vaccines show no worrisome side effects, setting the stage for larger tests.

Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Importantly, they’re pursuing different types of vaccines — shots developed from new technologies that not only are faster to produce than traditional inoculations but might prove more potent. Some researchers even aim for temporary vaccines, such as shots that might guard people’s health a month or two at a time while longer-lasting protection is developed.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 156,000 people and left more than 5,800 dead. The death toll in the United States is more than 50, while infections neared 3,000 across 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The vast majority of people recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three weeks to six weeks to recover.

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