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Premier League to meet as Covid wrecks havoc with weekend fixture list******
LONDON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Premier League clubs are expected to meet on Monday to discuss whether or not the competition should continue or take a break after a weekend in which six of the 10 scheduled matches have had to be postponed due to outbreaks of Covid-19 at several clubs.。
Saturday's match between Burnley and Aston Villa was the latest to fall victim to the virus and was cancelled just two and a half hours before the scheduled 15:00 hours kick off after further cases of the virus among the visitors' squad.。
"After reviewing all the new information provided by Aston Villa this morning and receiving separate medical advice, the board approved the request as a result of the club not having enough players to field a team. This decision was based on the number of Covid-19 cases, injuries and illness," explained a statement issued by the Premier League.。
Matches between Manchester United and Brighton, Southampton and Brentford, Watford and Crystal Palace, West Ham and Norwich and Everton and Leicester had all previously fallen by the wayside because of outbreaks at various clubs.。
Meanwhile the matches between Newcastle United and Manchester City, Wolves and Chelsea, as well as Tottenham and Liverpool are still scheduled for Sunday, although with Liverpool and Chelsea also reporting cases of Covid-19, there is still time for that to change.。
"The board assesses applications to postpone matches on a case-by-case basis, based on existing rules and Covid-19 postponement guidance issued to all clubs."
"It will assess a number of factors, including the ability of a club to field a team; the status, severity and potential impact of the Covid-19 outbreak at the club; and the ability of the players to safely prepare for and play the match. The board must also consider the wider risks to the opposition and other people the club representatives may come into contact with," said the Premier League, who added that new protocols, which include "more frequent testing, wearing face coverings while indoors, observing social distancing and limiting treatment time," have all introduced.。
In Saturday's surviving game Arsenal piled the pain onto Leeds United with a 4-1 win in Elland Road.。
The game was as good as over at halftime as two goals from Gabriel Martinelli and one from Bukayo Sako put Arsenal 3-0 up and although Raphinha scored a 75th minute penalty for Leeds, Emile Smith Rowe rounded off a good afternoon for Arsenal with five minutes left to play.。
Next weekend is one of the most important of the Premier League, with the traditional Boxing Day games quickly followed by a midweek game and a round of New Year fixtures. Enditem。
Newcastle United manager Bruce leaves club******
LONDON, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has left his position by mutual consent, confirmed the English Premier League club on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, a Saudi-led consortium completed the 305-million-pound (about 420 million U.S. dollars) takeover of the club and Bruce's future has been doomed as the Magpies haven't won any game in the Premier League this season.
During his charge of the team in more than two years, Bruce led the Magpies to 13th and 12th-place finishes in the Premier League.
"Newcastle United would like to place on record its gratitude to Steve for his contribution and wishes him well for the future," read the statement released by the club.
"I am grateful to everyone connected with Newcastle United for the opportunity to manage this unique football club," said Bruce.
"This is a club with incredible support, and I hope the new owners can take it forward to where we all want it to be. I wish everyone the very best of luck for the rest of this season and beyond," added the 60-year-old English.
Newcastle United lost to Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 on Sunday, collecting only three points from eight Premier League matches so far.
The club has appointed assistant coach Graeme Jones to lead the team on an interim basis, starting with Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace.
"The process of recruiting a new head coach is under way and an appointment will be announced in due course," said the club. Enditem
Table tennis worlds kick off in Houston******
HOUSTON, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- The 2021 World Table Tennis Championships kicked off in the U.S. city of Houston on Tuesday, with a youthful Chinese squad amongst the galaxy of stars at the week-long table tennis spectacle.。
The world's top players are going to face each other until Nov. 29 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in the "Bayou City." It marks the first time that the sport's prestigious event has been staged in the Americas.。
In the men's singles, world No. 1 Fan Zhendong is leading China alongside Zhou Qihao, Lin Gaoyuan, Wang Chuqin and Liang Jingkun.。
As one of China's main threats in the event, Japan features teenage sensation Tomokazu Harimoto, Koki Niwa, Yukiya Uda, Masataka Morizono and Shunsuke Togami.。
Germany will hinge on veteran Timo Boll, Patrick Franziska, Benedikt Duda and Ruwen Filus in the European teams' quest.。
Sweden's Mathias Falck, runner-up in the 2019 worlds in Budapest, and Brazil's Hugo Calderano will also be players to watch in Houston.。
Intriguing clashes are anticipated in the women's field as seven of the top 10 players prepare for battle.。
As the world's top two paddlers, the Chinese duo of Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha are deemed as title favorites, while world No. 3 Mima Ito from Japan is expected to mount a serious challenge.。
Meanwhile, China and the United States will join forces with two pairs formed of paddlers from both countries to compete in mixed doubles competition at the worlds on the year marking the 50th anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy.。
Reigning champions Ma Long, Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin will not defend their titles at the event as China has opted to send younger players in preparation for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France.。
The flagship event features 128 players in men's and women's singles and 64 pairs in men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles competing in a revamped and expanded straight knockout format for the first time.。
The World Table Tennis Championships has a storied history, with the first event held in London in 1926. The prestigious event welcomes the best table tennis players worldwide and has a global reach of over 500 million fans across TV and digital platforms. Enditem。
New vaccine against Omicron variant likely needed: research group CEO******
As the world is facing a "tidal wave" of new Omicron cases, manufacturers will likely have to develop a new generation of vaccines and reconfigure their production facilities, Rasmus Bech Hansen, CEO of Airfinity, a London-based global health intelligence and analytics provider, told Xinhua.。
"It's pretty clear that the world can expect a tidal wave of new infections. How much of that translates into hospitalizations and mortality is still unknown. It seems that it's either milder or the existing levels of protection do give some protection. But just the sheer number of infections is highly concerning," said Hansen during an online interview.。
"Many of the large vaccine producers are a little bit split over this. Pfizer has come out and argued that the current vaccines are good enough. Moderna has said we need a new generation of vaccines. Health authorities around the world haven't really come to a conclusion, it's a bit of a wait and see," said Hansen.。
However, Hansen stressed that the need for the development of a new vaccine could trigger fresh production bottlenecks.。
"We basically would have to take all the existing factories and reconfigure those against a new variant. It won't go from zero to 1 billion a month in day one. You'd take 100 days and then scale up the capacity," he said.。
"To put it very bluntly, if we need a new generation of Omicron vaccine, I don't think there's going to be enough vaccines according to our numbers for the world next year," he added.。
Hansen urged the need for more international collaboration and said that China could play a crucial part as a manufacturer of vaccines as well as in COVID-19 treatments.。
"China has played a really important role as a producer of vaccines and has emerged as the world's largest producer. It's fantastic to see the innovation and the vaccine production coming out of China. I think China could play a role in many other areas, in the treatment space, testing, protection of variants, and supporting countries around the world with that," he noted.。
Ramping up production。
Hansen stressed that the continuing challenge for the world is to avoid production and supply disruptions of current vaccination programs.。
"It is remarkable to see the scale of production we've witnessed this year. Currently, the world is producing around a billion vaccines a month. That scaled up from hardly anything at the beginning of the year."
"When we look into 2022, we expect that capacity of 1 billion vaccines monthly to continue and even accelerate a little bit. If we're continuing with the current generation of vaccines, we can reach as much as 23 billion at the end of next year, which basically means that there will be enough vaccines for the world even with booster shots," he said.。
The World Health Organization has warned that the Omicron variant can spread more rapidly than previous variants and could have a major impact on the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.。
"It's still too early days. But if we need a new vaccine, then we're starting all over again. It will take 100 days to reconfigure and then you have to scale up production," Hansen said.。
"Our best-case estimate is then we'll have around half the number of vaccines next year if we need a new generation as all of these production facilities need to be reconfigured," he added.。
The executive urged the COVAX, the global initiative aimed at accelerating the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, to continue to support the fair and equitable access to new vaccines around the world along with international partners.。
Asked about whether production should not rather take place locally to avoid "vaccine nationalism," Hansen said high yielding factories would be more efficient in the manufacturing and distribution process.。
"I think the solution really is to scale up the production capacity. I'm a little bit more skeptical on the initiatives of local vaccine production because when we model that and look at the numbers, it is not going to have a big impact in 2022. It's more like 2023 and 2024. And you know, the pandemic is raging right now," he said.。
Another major problem is the short shelf-life of vaccines, with several countries facing challenges with utilizing all available doses before their expiry date.。
Airfinity has estimated that more than 100 million vaccines are set to expire by the end of the year and would need to be redistributed immediately. Meanwhile, Hansen warned that the roll-out capacity in middle and low-income countries is still lacking.。
"There is a risk that these vaccines get stuck in airports and not get distributed. It's also because the deliveries have been quite uneven. Until we have more regular deliveries from COVAX and others, we are sadly going to see some of these examples of doses going to waste," he warned.。