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US biotech firm Inovio reports encouraging virus vaccine results

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The US biotech firm Inovio reported preliminary but encouraging results Tuesday from tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Administered to 40 volunteers, it triggered an immune system response in 94 percent of those who completed the so-called phase one clinical trial, meaning they received two injections, four weeks apart.

Inovio’s vaccine, called INO-4800, is designed to inject DNA into a person so as to set off a specific immune system response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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The medication is injected under the skin with a needle, then activated with a device that resembles a toothbrush, which delivers an electrical impulse for a fraction of a second, allowing the DNA to penetrate the body’s cells and carry out its mission.

Inovio, which is financed by the US Defense Department and the NGO CEPI, also said it has been included in President Donald Trump’s plan to produce hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine by January as part of Operation Warp Speed.

Inovio’s medication is the only DNA vaccine that is stable at room temperature for more than a year and does not need refrigeration for transport or storage for several years, said Inovio CEO Joseph Kim.

This is a big plus when it comes to vaccinating people in developing countries, where it is harder to maintain the cold chain needed to preserve many products.

A total of 23 COVID-19 vaccine projects have launched clinical trials on humans, says the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and several have moved to phase two or three, which means they are being injected into thousands or even tens of thousands of volunteers.

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A vaccine created by the US biotech firm Moderna and one from Oxford University in collaboration with British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca are among those which are in the most advanced stages of development, as are several Chinese projects. These include one from the company CanSinoBIO, which has received permission to administer the vaccine to Chinese soldiers.


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2020 Election

Montana GOP ticket sidelined after exposure to COVID-positive Trump, Jr. girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle: report

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The Montana Republican Party is facing a crisis after multiple members of the ticket were potentially exposed to COVID-19.

"Montana gubernatorial candidate Rep. Greg Gianforte and his running mate, Kristen Juras, confirmed Saturday they will self-quarantine after Gianforte's wife, Susan, and Juras attended an event last week with Kimberly Guilfoyle, who has since tested positive for COVID-19," KBZK-TV reported Saturday.

Gianforte is currently Montana's lone congressional representative. He is not running for reelection as he's running for governor. In June, the Montana GOP nominated State Auditor Matt Rosendale to replace him.

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WATCH: Florida beachgoer pushes new conspiracy theory of how COVID-19 got to the United States

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On Saturday, a viral video showed Jacksonville, Florida attorney Dan Uhlfelder — famous for touring Florida's beaches in a Grim Reaper costume to protest lax COVID-19 safeguards — confronting a beachgoer.

The other man offered a novel conspiracy theory of how the virus spread to the United States: that former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter were behind the whole thing.

"Biden and Hunter went over to China, and then brought it back," said the man.

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Susan Collins’ July 4th tweet blew up in her face in spectacular fashion

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On Saturday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) tweeted her concern for small businesses in Maine that are suffering because the normal Fourth of July business has been suppressed by the coronavirus pandemic:

The Fourth of July is typically the height of Maine’s busy summer tourism season, but near-empty hotels, inns, B&Bs, and restaurants underscore the devastating effects the pandemic has had on many of our state’s small businesses and jobs.

— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) July 4, 2020

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