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Dominic Thiem produces sensational comeback to win the US Open final

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dominic thiem produces sensational comeback to win the us open final

A dramatic fifth set tiebreak heralded the end of six year wait for men’s tennis finally to gain a new Grand Slam champion – the Austrian who for two years has looked like the next cab off the rank.

At the fourth time of asking Dominic Thiem has his first Major, won amid nerve-shredding tension before the most minor of crowds at the US Open inside the near deserted Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 27-year-old from the market town of Lichtenworth, virtually hobbling with soreness by the end, triumphed 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 in just under four hours. At times it seemed like the match nobody wanted to win.  

Dominic Thiem finally ended his wait for a Grand Slam title as he claimed the US Open

Dominic Thiem finally ended his wait for a Grand Slam title as he claimed the US Open

A four hour epic was settled in a championship tie-break as Thiem collapsed with sheer joy

A four hour epic was settled in a championship tie-break as Thiem collapsed with sheer joy

Thiem appeared broken physically and emotionally after a match that tipped over four hours

Thiem appeared broken physically and emotionally after a match that tipped over four hours

Alexander Zverev raced into a two-set lead but pressure told and he was beaten in five sets

Alexander Zverev raced into a two-set lead but pressure told and he was beaten in five sets

Thiem finally clinched it 8-6 in the tiebreak on his third match point, having made a horrible mess of two straightforward forehands when he had chances at 6-4 and 6-5 after two double faults from his opponent. 

He was hobbling at times through leg soreness by the end as he faced down his close friend and rival, his nerve just about holding up.

Finally, having nosed ahead for 7-6, Zverev swung a backhand wide into the tramlines and the world No 3 was the champion.

Whether it will prove a stepping stone to usurping the Big Three remains to be seen, but bagging the first big one is crucial, and he has avoided the fate of Andy Murray, who lost his first four Major finals.

The German started far stronger and was unleashing fury from the back of the court early on

The German started far stronger and was unleashing fury from the back of the court early on

But Thiem simply refused to be beaten despite his body appearing to break down throughout

But Thiem simply refused to be beaten despite his body appearing to break down throughout

The first four sets were largely forgettable, with their quality of play failing to dovetail at any point, and their levels crossing over halfway through the third set.

Nearly three hours were on the clock as they went into the decider, which Thiem began with a break that was quickly wiped out as Zverev stemmed his momentum.

Fifth sets are about heart as much as technique or even fitness, and although there was no crowd to feed off the German became notably more animated as he sensed his chance.

Having edged ahead for 4-3 he pounced, gaining a break point on one of Thiem’s many missed forehands and then driving forward to punch a forehand into the corner to move ahead for 5-3.

The two players were both looking for a first Slam title and embraced at the end of the match

The two players were both looking for a first Slam title and embraced at the end of the match

But the pressure proved too much and what had been his banker shots on the night, his backhand and volley, let him down as is nerve crumbled the Austrian broke him straight back to fifteen.

Thiem was now starting to limp a little but the adrenalin was getting him through. He forced a break point at 5-5 and then gratefully received two groundstroke errors from the wobbling Zverev, calling for treatment on his calf as he prepared to serve for his destiny.

He flunked the chance, sending it into the dramatic denouement. 

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Boom crown rat: Magawa the bomb disposal rodent is awarded animal George Cross

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boom crown rat magawa the bomb disposal rodent is awarded animal george cross

A landmine detection rat has been awarded the animal equivalent of a George Cross for his ‘lifesaving bravery’. 

Magawa, a giant African pouched rat, has discovered 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance since he was trained by charity APOPO, which specialises in training animals to detect landmines and tuberculosis.

He is the charity’s most successful Hero Rat, having cleared more than 141,000 square metres of land – the equivalent of 20 football pitches.

Magawa, a giant African pouched rat, has discovered 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance since he was trained by a charity. He is pictured above wearing his miniature gold medal

Magawa, a giant African pouched rat, has discovered 39 landmines and 28 items of unexploded ordnance since he was trained by a charity. He is pictured above wearing his miniature gold medal

Magawa has been formally recognised for his work and been presented with a miniature PDSA Gold Medal, the animal equivalent of the George Cross.

He is the first rat in the charity’s 77-year history to receive such an award.

He is the charity's most successful Hero Rat, having cleared more than 141,000 square metres of land - the equivalent of 20 football pitches

He is the charity’s most successful Hero Rat, having cleared more than 141,000 square metres of land – the equivalent of 20 football pitches

Christophe Cox, chief executive of APOPO, told the PA news agency: ‘To receive this medal is really an honour for us. I have been working with APOPO for over 20 years.

‘Especially for our animal trainers who are waking up every day, very early, to train those animals in the morning.

‘But also it is big for the people in Cambodia, and all the people around the world who are suffering from landmines. The PDSA Gold Medal award brings the problem of landmines to global attention.’

He said rats are ‘intelligent’ and will work at repetitive tasks for food rewards better than other animals.

Their size means they are in less danger when they walk through landmine fields.

The rats require a year of training before they are certified.

They work for around half an hour a day, in the early morning.

Once they detect a landmine, they scratch the top, which alerts their human handlers.

The rats are trained to detect a chemical compound within explosives, and because they ignore any scrap metal lying around, they work faster than a metal detectorist.

Magawa, who is now nearing retirement age, can search the area of a tennis court in 30 minutes, something that would take a human with a metal detector up to four days.

PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: ‘The work of Magawa and APOPO is truly unique and outstanding.

‘Cambodia estimates that between four and six million landmines were laid in the country between 1975 and 1998, which have sadly caused over 64,000 casualties.

‘Magawa’s work directly saves and changes the lives of men, women and children who are impacted by these landmines. Every discovery he makes reduces the risk of injury or death for local people.

‘The PDSA Animal Awards programme seeks to raise the status of animals in society and honour the incredible contribution they make to our lives.

‘Magawa’s dedication, skill and bravery are an extraordinary example of this and deserve the highest possible recognition. We are thrilled to award him the PDSA Gold Medal.’

Cambodia has the highest number of mine amputees per capita in the world – more than 40,000 people.

Magawa, who is now nearing retirement age, can search the area of a tennis court in 30 minutes, something that would take a human with a metal detector up to four days

Magawa, who is now nearing retirement age, can search the area of a tennis court in 30 minutes, something that would take a human with a metal detector up to four days

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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ANDREW PIERCE: Patrick Vallance made £5m from company racing to find vaccine

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andrew pierce patrick vallance made 5m from company racing to find vaccine
For it has emerged that Vallance (above) holds shares worth £600,000 in GlaxoSmith-Kline, the drugs giant racing to develop a Covid vaccine. Not so long ago, he sold other shares worth £5million

For it has emerged that Vallance (above) holds shares worth £600,000 in GlaxoSmith-Kline, the drugs giant racing to develop a Covid vaccine. Not so long ago, he sold other shares worth £5million

During a rare interview, Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, was asked to describe himself in three words. He replied: ‘Introverted, curious… and geeky.’

Yesterday, jaws across Britain dropped when they learned quite how accurately he might have added a fourth adjective: rich.

For it has emerged that Vallance holds shares worth £600,000 in GlaxoSmith-Kline, the drugs giant racing to develop a Covid vaccine. Not so long ago, he sold other shares worth £5million.

A senior Tory MP was not alone in arguing that his current shareholding represents a ‘potential conflict of interest’ with Vallance being at the heart of the Downing Street race to find a vaccine against coronavirus.

The MP added: ‘If he is making decisions on vaccines and advising the Government on them then he either needs to divest himself of the shares or make a declaration… Every time he is talking about vaccines or on TV, he should put it on the table.’

Even more surprisingly, it appears that Vallance, chairman of the Government’s expert advisory panel on vaccines, did not think it necessary to inform Boris Johnson or Health Secretary Matt Hancock about his shares. 

Mr Hancock admitted yesterday: ‘The first I knew about it was when I read it in the newspapers.’

If GSK produces a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, it stands to make billions from the discovery – and Vallance’s shares could be expected to rocket, potentially making him yet more millions.

Already, the US government has provided £1.65billion to GSK and its partner Sanofi for vaccine development.

Vallance was president of research and development at GSK, Britain’s biggest drug company, between 2012 and 2018, when he left to become a top mandarin.

‘I think you will find Patrick Vallance is the wealthiest civil servant in the history of Whitehall,’ said one senior source last night.

If GSK produces a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, it stands to make billions from the discovery ¿ and Vallance¿s shares could be expected to rocket, potentially making him yet more millions. A researcher is pictured above in a GlaxoSmithKline lab in 2009.

If GSK produces a successful vaccine against the coronavirus, it stands to make billions from the discovery – and Vallance’s shares could be expected to rocket, potentially making him yet more millions. A researcher is pictured above in a GlaxoSmithKline lab in 2009.

Not surprisingly, given his wealth, Vallance has a gourmet palate, favouring langoustine, pigeon with figs and rare cheeses, though he admits he rarely drinks his expensive wine collection. 

If he had his time all over again, he once said he would have liked to train as a chef.

The image of fine dining could not be further from the Vallance who appeared on TV next to the similarly gloomy chief medical officer Chris Whitty in a dispiriting press conference – leading to the duo being dubbed ‘Glum and Glummer’.

In previous appearances flanking the Prime Minister with Whitty, Vallance often seemed dour and defensive. He was regularly asked about the prospects of Britain developing the first viable Covid vaccine.

Joining the Government, he took a huge pay cut. He was on £780,000 at GSK but is now paid around £180,000, although it is clear he could afford the reduced salary.

With his wife Sophia Ann, whom he married in 1988, he bought a large, fire-damaged house in south London two years ago for £1.85million, paying cash.

The new house requires extensive renovation – though happily the couple sold another house in south London last year for £2.95million, which may help to fund the works.

Vallance was born in Essex in 1960 and educated at Truro school in Cornwall, where boarding fees today are almost £30,000 a year. 

He studied medicine at St George’s at the University of London, becoming a senior lecturer in medicines policy and for a while was a doctor seeing patients – but it did not suit him.

‘Every time I didn’t give a patient enough time,’ he said.

‘Every mistake I made resulted from not giving 100 per cent to the patient I was with – and it is dreadful to short-change people when they are at their most vulnerable.’ 

Vallance was president of research and development at GSK, Britain¿s biggest drug company, between 2012 and 2018, when he left to become a top mandarin

Vallance was president of research and development at GSK, Britain’s biggest drug company, between 2012 and 2018, when he left to become a top mandarin

In 2006 he joined GSK as head of drug discovery and four years later became head of medicines, then president of research and development.

He may be ‘geeky’, but he is also passionate about certain causes, including assisted suicide which, interestingly, is not Government policy.

‘Having had both of my parents ask me to help them die, I support doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill people under certain conditions,’ he has said.

Knighted in the New Year honours list in 2019, Vallance eschews party politics but is a huge admirer of Aneurin Bevan, the Welsh Labour MP who was one of the founders of the NHS. ‘I understand the true and lasting importance of Bevan’s remarkable vision.’

Despite the growing brouhaha about his vast shareholding and potential conflict of interest, Boris is keeping this adviser close.

The Government insists he has done nothing wrong.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said that ‘appropriate steps were taken to manage [Vallance’s] interests in line with advice provided at the time… The chief scientific adviser has no input into contractual and commercial decisions on vaccine procurement which are taken by ministers following a robust cross-Government approvals regime’.

Vallance himself has remained tight-lipped about the matter. His self-professed ‘introversion’ may continue to serve him well.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Coronavirus UK: Dr JOHN LEE mourns the tragedies CAUSED by lockdown

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coronavirus uk dr john lee mourns the tragedies caused by lockdown

As every doctor has known since the time of Hippocrates, the primary rule every physician must obey is simple: ‘First, do no harm.’

The best surgeons I encountered during my career as an NHS consultant were those who knew when to stand back and not to operate.

They had the humility to understand when their surgical skills would not save a life, or usefully prolong one for the benefit of the patient.

I despair as I watch this Government, following a flawed scientific narrative, turn the challenge of a nasty coronavirus into a national tragedy and economic disaster.

Shamefully, it is doing so while the medical profession, cowed into bureaucratic obedience, offers endorsement through silence instead of constructive criticism.

A photograph of a boy, one, and his 88-year-old grandmother greeting each other through the glass during the coronavirus pandemic

A photograph of a boy, one, and his 88-year-old grandmother greeting each other through the glass during the coronavirus pandemic

Because the NHS behaved foolishly in the early days of the pandemic, admitting too many people and then forcing hospitals to discharge elderly patients into care homes, we have lost more people than our European neighbours, with some 42,000 deaths.

The Great Plague of 1665-1666 wiped out almost a quarter of London’s population in 18 months.

In living memory, the Hong Kong flu epidemic of 1968 cost some 80,000 lives in Britain, yet there were no demands then for a national or global shutdown.

Government policy has mutated from ‘protect the NHS’ to the very different aim of driving down cases in all age groups until an effective vaccine emerges in the spring, along with flowers and butterflies.

Britain's Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, both wearing face coverings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leave from 11 Downing Street in central London on September 21

Britain’s Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty (left) and Britain’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, both wearing face coverings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leave from 11 Downing Street in central London on September 21

But the Government has taken action to destroy businesses without any proper cost/benefit analysis of their draconian measures.

Some people may find it too gruesome to ponder, but the Government and private companies routinely place a value on a human life.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) puts a figure of between £20,000 and £30,000 on what is known as a quality-adjusted life year, or QALY.

Any time an expensive new cancer, or cystic fibrosis, or heart disease drug is considered for use, it must first satisfy NICE’s rigorous, coldly-objective modelling of whether it is effective and offers value for money. In other words, is the cure worth the cost of the treatment?

If Boris Johnson were applying this same logic to his anti-Covid measures, data would be published to assess the projected savings in lives against the huge economic costs of pushing parts of the economy into hibernation and the huge loss in QALYs caused by the action taken.

The Government has failed to provide this analysis, either because they haven’t bothered to commission it, or because the results are just too embarrassing. The truth is that in their hearts, ministers probably already know that the cure is worse than the disease.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Northamptonshire Police Headquarters in Northampton on Thursday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Northamptonshire Police Headquarters in Northampton on Thursday

I am of course not suggesting that the elderly should be left to their fate because they only have a few years to live. But surely they must exercise their own judgment about what makes life worth living and whether to shield themselves from a virus that can be lethal to them but is very light on the young.

Contrary to what Mr Johnson seemed to be suggesting during his television address this week, we are not all equally at risk of Covid. Indeed, the virus discriminates viciously against the ill, the elderly and the obese. But I have never understood the bizarre moral equation that tries to justify shutting down swathes of NHS capacity and stops treating people who are ill today in order to protect people who might fall ill tomorrow from Covid.

It is the medicine of the madhouse, and I’m afraid that it has been the hallmark of the Government’s handling of this pandemic almost from the beginning. It will take many years for the NHS to make good on the non-Covid ill-health legacy caused by the actions taken.

Covid-19 has proved to be a disaster for this country but, increasingly, it is becoming a scandal. How can the Twin Horsemen of the ‘Coronapocalypse’, Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty, go in front of cameras to introduce measures condemning thousands of British businesses to oblivion without taking a single question from journalists to justify their actions?

Chris Whitty’s background is in public health, a wide discipline, yet the only thing he has talked about in public for seven months is one disease.

What about the wider context of the nation’s public health, the spike in suicides, the depressions exacerbated by solitude, the missed appointments.

Commuters disembark a London Underground train. Chris Whitty¿s background is in public health, a wide discipline, yet the only thing he has talked about in public for seven months is one disease

Commuters disembark a London Underground train. Chris Whitty’s background is in public health, a wide discipline, yet the only thing he has talked about in public for seven months is one disease

Our hospitals are operating at a fraction of their capacities. Oncologists warn of an extra 30,000 deaths from cancers currently going undiagnosed.

Stroke and heart attack victims are going untreated, diabetics are not being properly monitored, all to slow the advance of a virus that is currently killing fewer than 40 of the 1,600 people who die every day in the UK.

The worst thing about Mr Johnson’s latest pronouncement was his refusal to accept that ‘the science’ is by no means settled. He is following a cabal of committee men and women in the grip of groupthink.

I challenge the Prime Minister to organise a televised public debate so that those scientists and doctors who have no faith in his strategy can challenge his in-house ‘experts’. Diversity is how we approach truth.

We need to know who is advising whom, and what is the expected cost of shutting down the economy against the lives that hypothetically might be saved by the measures introduced this week.

At the moment the dissident voices are silenced, and all but squeezed off the BBC. This is a perversion of the way science progresses, through debate and dispute and the free exchange of evidence. Most urgently of all, his experts must explain what happens in the spring if, as I expect, the vaccine does not miraculously bring salvation.

Then the Prime Minister will have to accept that the cure he has adopted really is worse than the disease. Even more shockingly, he will learn the hard way that Pandora’s Box is open and the only ‘cure’ for this virus is to learn to live with it.

  • Dr Lee is a former professor of pathology at Hull York Medical School and a recently retired NHS consultant. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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