One hurt in Norway mosque shooting, suspect arrested

Police and emergency services attend the scene after a shooting inside the al-Noor Islamic center mosque in Baerum outside Oslo, Norway, Saturday Aug. 10, 2019. (AP)
Updated 11 August 2019

One hurt in Norway mosque shooting, suspect arrested

  • Norwegian police said they were aware that Saturday’s suspect had been active online prior to the shooting

OSLO: A gunman armed with multiple weapons opened fire in a mosque near Oslo on Saturday, injuring one person before being overpowered by an elderly worshipper and arrested, Norwegian police and witnesses said.
Hours after the attack, the body of a young woman related to the suspect was found in a home in the suburb of Baerum where the shooting took place earlier in the day, police said Saturday evening.
Investigators are treating her death as suspicious and have opened a murder probe.
The head of the mosque described the assailant as a young white man dressed in black and said he was wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest.
He said only three people had been inside the Al-Noor Islamic center at the time of the attack.
Police were alerted to the shooting shortly after 4 p.m. (1400 GMT).
Officers first reported that a victim had been shot, but later clarified one person had sustained “minor injuries” and that it was unclear if they were gunshot wounds.
Police said the suspect appeared to have acted on his own.
“It is a Norwegian young man, with a Norwegian background. He lives in the vicinity,” Oslo police spokesman Rune Skjold had told a press conference earlier Saturday.
Skjold added that the suspect had been known to police before the incident but could not be described as someone with a “criminal background.”
Norway was the scene of one of the worst-ever attacks by a right-wing extremist in July 2011, when 77 people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik.

“One of our members has been shot by a white man with a helmet and uniform,” Irfan Mushtaq, head of the mosque, told local media.
Mushtaq said that the man had carried multiple weapons, but that he had been subdued by a member of the mosque.
Mushtaq himself had arrived at the scene shortly after being alerted about the gunman, and had gone to the back of the building while waiting for police to arrive.
“Then I see that there are cartridges scattered and blood on the carpets, and I see one of our members is sitting on the perpetrator, covered in blood,” Mushtaq told Norwegian newspaper VG.
He said the man who apparently overpowered the shooter was 75 years old and had been reading the Qur'an after a prayer session.
According to Mushtaq, the mosque had not received any threats ahead of the shooting.
The attack took place on the eve of the Muslim celebration of Eid Al-Adha, marking the end of the Muslim pilgrimage Hajj.
Police said Saturday they would be sending out more officers so that those celebrating would “be as safe as possible.”

There has been a recent spate of white nationalist attacks in the West, including in the United States and in New Zealand where 51 Muslim worshippers were killed in March in shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.
The Al-Noor Islamic center in Norway shares its name with the worst affected mosque in the New Zealand attacks.
Local Norwegian paper Budstikka said it had contacted the mosque in March after the Christchurch massacre and that officials there had said security would be tightened.
The suspect in the Christchurch killings wrote a hate-filled manifesto in which he said he was influenced by far-right ideologues including the Norwegian mass murderer Breivik.
Breivik detonated a massive bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and then opened fire on a gathering of the Labour Party’s youth wing on the island of Utoya, killing another 69 people, most of them teenagers.
Norwegian police said they were aware that Saturday’s suspect had been active online prior to the shooting.
Broadcaster TV2 reported they had learned the identity of the man and located a post to an online forum from someone using the same name, posted only hours before the attack.
The post seemingly praising the New Zealand attacker and ended with the words “Valhall awaits.”


UK, US COVID-19 vaccines show signs of immunity in patients

Updated 15 July 2020

UK, US COVID-19 vaccines show signs of immunity in patients

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci: ‘No matter how you slice this, this is good news’

LONDON: Two of the world’s most promising studies to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 have said subjects in their trials have shown early signs of immunity. 

The trials, run by teams at Oxford University in the UK and pharmaceutical company Moderna in the US, have both received significant government funding in their bids to develop their vaccines before the end of the year.

The Oxford vaccine, being manufactured by AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, England, has already had millions of doses mass-produced in the event of the trials proving a success. The team behind it says it is “80 percent confident” of it being available by September. 

It works by injecting altered COVID-19 genetic material, attached to a similar but benign virus called an adenovirus, which causes common colds, into the body, in a process known as recombinant viral vector vaccination. 

The aim is to facilitate an immune system response by mimicking COVID-19 itself, and training antibodies to attack the spike proteins on the virus’s exterior that it uses to attach itself to human cells.

When faced with COVID-19, in theory the immune system should then act in the same fashion.

The Oxford vaccine is currently in its second, expanded trial stage, featuring 8,000 people in the UK and up to 6,000 people in Brazil and South Africa.

Though no official results have been formally published, subjects exposed to the vaccine in its early phase were found to have developed antibodies and a certain type of white blood cell, called T-cells, which help fight infection

“An important point to keep in mind is that there are two dimensions to the immune response: Antibodies and T-cells,” a source at Oxford told ITV News in the UK.

“Everybody is focused on antibodies, but there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the T-cells response is important in the defense against coronavirus.”

Prof. Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford team leader, earlier this month said the vaccine could provide protection for several years at a time.

She told UK MPs on the House of Commons’ science and technology select committee: “Vaccines have a different way of engaging with the immune system, and we follow people in our studies using the same type of technology to make the vaccines for several years, and we still see strong immune responses.”

She added: “It’s something we have to test and follow over time — we can’t know until we actually have the data, but we’re optimistic based on earlier studies that we’ll see a good duration of immunity, for several years at least, and probably better than naturally acquired immunity.”

Moderna, meanwhile, reported that all 45 volunteers in its early phase had developed immune responses after receiving its vaccine, though with more than half its subjects experiencing mild or moderate side effects including headaches, fatigue and muscle pain.

Its vaccine, called mRNA-1273, uses ribonucleic acid to program human cells to make proteins similar to the spike proteins of COVID-19 cells, training the body’s immune system to identify and attack them.

Its initial studies found that higher doses of mRNA-1273 in the human system corresponded with higher levels of immunity in subjects, by injecting people with doses of 25, 100 or 250 micrograms of the vaccine in two instalments over 28 days.

Moderna will begin a second trial of 30,000 people later this month. The US government has so far pledged nearly half a billion dollars in funding for the Moderna vaccine.

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said: “No matter how you slice this, this is good news.”

Vaccines, though, are not the only potential route in the quest to find a solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trials have already begun for an antibody treatment, manufactured by AstraZeneca, that would see patients given a three-minute infusion of COVID-19 antibodies that could provide protection for up to six months.

This would be a potential solution if the vaccine proves less effective in some people (especially the elderly), for those who suffer adverse reactions, or for people taking immunosuppressant drugs or undergoing chemotherapy.

Sir Mene Pangalos, head AstraZeneca’s research into respiratory diseases, said: “There’s a population who are elderly that (may not) get a particularly good immune response to the vaccine.

“In those instances you might want to prophylactically treat those patients with an antibody to give them additional protection.”