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When there’s a coronavirus vaccine, how will we make sure everybody gets it? That’s the job of state immunization registries.

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A collection of 62 obscure state and local agencies may end up being crucial players in the fight against coronavirus once vaccines become available.

They’re known as immunization registries and they keeptrack of children’s – and increasingly adults’ – immunizations.

Vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease COVID-19 are expected to require two doses, given a month or so apart, and come in several types. That’s a recipe for disaster without a central repository to know who got what vaccine and when.

Imagine this scenario: You get your first coronavirus shot at a local health department clinic. A month later, when it’s time for your follow-up, you go to your doctor or a local pharmacy.

“They’ll need to know which one you got, when you got it and double-check when you’re due for your second dose,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director of immunization education with the Immunization Action Coalition.

Fear factor:Viruses like the one that causes COVID-19 have long been Dr. Anthony Fauci’s ‘worst nightmare’

That’s where existing state immunization registries should come in, public health experts say. Multiple doses and different vaccines aren’t just a logistical nightmare, there are health implications as well.

“There could be unknown reactions and no one’s going to have time to do studies to see if you can mix and match,” said Rebecca Coyle, executive director of the American Immunization Registry Association in Washington, D.C.

Researchers work in a lab at the Yisheng Biopharma company in Shenyang, in Chinas northeast Liaoning province on June 10, 2020. - The company is one of a number in China trying to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Photo by NOEL CELIS / AFP) (Photo by NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images) ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1T723P

Gearing up to vaccinate more than 300 million Americans – twice – in a short period of time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working closely with the registries and state health departments to streamline the somewhat clunky existing system.

Prior to the pandemic, the CDC was engaged in a long-term effort to build a centralized system to let health care providers and state registries quickly and easily share information about immunizations. Dubbed the IZ Gateway, it’s now receiving a lot of attention in public health circles.

Whether such a system will be available in time for the onslaught of coronavirus vaccines isn’t known. The CDC did not respond to multiple emails.

The IZ Gateway is anticipated to play a role with a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, Coyle said, but “there are still some policy and technology issues that need to be resolved before it can truly be leveraged on a national scale.”

Immunization registries started for children, now for adults, too

The registries are part of a robust federal system that orders, manages and distributes vaccines nationwide through the Vaccines for Children program, which pays for vaccines for about half of America’s children.

To track the effort, which began in 1994, each state created a registry to ensure every child gets the immunizations they are eligible for. It has since been expanded to include many adults as well.

There’s a lot to track. Last year the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection logged 5.87 million immunizations, more than half in adults. Only 24% of the state’s medical providers aren’t enrolled in the system, said Doug Schultz, an information officer with the Minnesota Department of Health.

A coronavirus vaccine could require you to get two shots.Here’s why.

In Michigan, every person born since 1993 is in the system, unless they opted out. Today that’s 2.4 million children and 7.9 million adults, said Bob Swanson, director of the division of immunization for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

All states except New Hampshire have their own immunization registries. Some counties and cities also have their own, such as New York City and San Diego. Including U.S. territories such as America Samoa, there are 62 such registries.

Pharmacist Michael Witte holds a tray with a syringe containing a shot that will be used in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of the potential vaccine.

Adding coronavirus vaccines shouldn’t be a heavy lift for most, said Coyle.

There are well over 200,000 health care provider sites already connected to the registries, so reporting vaccinations won’t be out of the routine for them. But it will be new for many facilities such as nursing homes and other locations that haven’t reported immunizations to a registry before, she said.

Snowbirds, beware: What happens when you need vaccine in separate states?

The biggest challenge will be exchanging data across state lines. The registries were set up at the state rather than the federal level due to privacy concerns. To share information with another registry, a data-sharing agreement must be signed.

With 62 registries, that’s 3,782 different agreements to sign and keep up to date. Many don’t.

There’s no agreement, for example, between the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland, despite their close proximity. That means someone might get their first coronavirusshot at their workplace in the district, their second in Virginia where they live, or at their doctor’s office in Maryland and the records would be unavailable.

Mapping coronavirus:Tracking the U.S. outbreak

Usually, the best data sharing is between states near each other. Washington state and Oregon have long had data sharing, given that many people work in Portland, Oregon, but live across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington.

Unfortunately, not everyone moves between two contiguous states. Think snowbirds.

Each winter, tens of thousands of retirees leave northern states and head to second homes in the sunny South. Depending on when vaccines become available, they might get their first shots at home and their second ones in Florida or South Carolina.

If vaccines become available in the fall when they’re on the move, tracking “is going to be critical,” said Coyle.

Immunization registries have history of dealing with crisis, including hurricanes

The registry system has stepped up in times of crisis before.

After Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005, thousands of families moved to Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and other states. To enroll their children in new schools they had to provide immunization records.

“You can’t ask a parent for their child’s vaccine record when they’ve just been flooded out,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers.

What’s next? Dr. Anthony Fauci says he’s optimistic about coronavirus vaccine protection but concerned how long it will last

Louisiana issued an emergency order so any state that wanted to access the system could get it, streamlining the process.

“It worked really well,” Hannan said.

In 2009, when the H1N1 influenza pandemic hit, flu vaccine was distributed by the federal government through state health departments and tracked by the registries. It was still clunky, with some states requiring providers to fax in orders, but it worked remarkably well.

Over the last 11 years, the infrastructure has gotten much more robust. “It’s just a matter of making the connections and coordination,” said Hannan.

State health officials ‘identifying gaps’ ahead of availability of coronavirus vaccine

The scramble is on to get ready for the day coronavirus vaccines become available. Directors of the immunization programs and state health agencies have set up work groups and are having calls every two weeks with the CDC and immunization registry managers, said Hannan.

“States are looking at their immunization information systems, identifying gaps and looking at what they might need to do to improve them and ensure they’re ready,” she said.

COVID-19 does add some new wrinkles. For example, the registries and CDC realized some kind of immunization confirmation will be necessary. 

“Consumers need to be able to print something out to show their employers, it’s going to be an important piece,” Hannan said.

More money is one thing few registries seem to be getting as they prepare for the onslaught.

“Currently, we don’t have any new budget to cover this work,” said Michigan’s Swanson.

Source: http://rssfeeds.usatoday.com/~/627084568/0/usatoday-newstopstories~When-theres-a-coronavirus-vaccine-how-will-we-make-sure-everybody-gets-it-Thats-the-job-of-state-immunization-registries/

Fintech

Accept.inc secures $90M in debt and equity to scale its digital mortgage lending platform

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A lot of startups were built to help people make all-cash offers on homes with the purpose of gaining an edge against other buyers, especially in ultra-competitive markets. 

Accepti.inc is a Denver-based company that is attempting to create a new category in real estate technology. To help scale its digital mortgage lending platform, the company announced today that it has secured $90 million in debt and equity – with $78 million in debt and $12 million in equity. Signal Fire led the equity portion of its financing, which also included participation from existing seed investors Y Combinator and DN Capital.

Accept.inc describes itself as an iLender, or a “technology-enabled lender” that gives people a way to submit all-cash offers on a home upon qualifying for a mortgage.

Using its platform, a buyer gets qualified first and then can start looking for homes that fall at or under the amount he or she is approved for. They can purchase a more expensive home, but any amount above what they are approved for would have to come out of pocket. Historically, most buyers don’t know that they will have to pay out of pocket until they’ve made an offer on a specific home and an appraisal comes under the amount of the price they are paying for a home. In those cases, the buyer has to cough up the difference out of pocket. With Accept.inc., its execs tout, buyers know upfront how much they are approved for and can spend on a new home “so there are no surprises later.”

SignalFire Founding Partner and CTO Ilya Kirnos describes Accept.inc as “the first and only iLender.”

He points out that since it is a lender, Accept.inc doesn’t make its money by charging buyers fees like some others in the all-cash offer space.

“Unlike ‘iBuyers’ or ‘alternative iBuyers,’ Accept.inc fronts the cash to buy a house and then makes money off mortgage origination and title, meaning sellers, homebuyers and their agents pay no additional cost for the service,” he told TechCrunch.

IBuyers instead buy homes from sellers who signed up online, make a profit by often fixing up and selling those homes and then helping people purchase a different home with all cash. They also make money by charging transaction fees. A slew of companies operate in the space including established players such as Opendoor and Zillow and newer players such as Homelight.

Image credit: Accept.inc. Left to right: Co-founders Adam Pollack, Nick Friedman and Ian Perrex.

Since its 2016 inception, Accept.inc says it has helped thousands of buyers, agents and sellers close on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in homes. The company saw ”14x” growth in 2020 and from June 2020 to June 2021, it achieved “10x” growth in terms of the size of its team and number of transactions and revenue, according to CEO and co-founder Adam Pollack. Accept.inc wants to use its new capital to build on that momentum and meet demand.

Pollack and Nick Friedman met while in college and started building Accept.inc with the goal of “turning every offer into a cash offer.” The pair essentially “failed for two years,” half-jokes Pollack.

“We basically became an encyclopedia of 1,000 ways the idea of helping people make all-cash offers wouldn’t work,” he said.

The team went through Y Combinator in the winter of 2019 and that’s when they created the iLender concept. In the iLender model, the company uses its cash to buy a house for buyers. Once the loan with Accept.inc is ready to close, the company sells back the house to the buyer “at no additional cost or fees.”

“Basically what we learned through those two years is that you have to vertically integrate all of your core competencies, and you can’t rely on third parties to own or manage your special sauce for you,” Pollack told TechCrunch. “We also realized that if you’re going to build a cash offer for anyone who could afford a mortgage, you’ve got to make it a full bona fide cash offer that closes in three days as opposed to a better version of what existed. And you have to own that, and take the risk that comes with it and be comfortable with that.”

The benefits of their model, the pair say, is that buyers get to be cash buyers, sellers can close in as little as 32 hours, and agents “get a guaranteed commission check.” 

“Our mission is that everyone should have an equal chance at homeownership,” Friedman said. “We not only want to level the playing field, we want to create a new standard.”

Buyers using Accept.inc win 6-7 times more frequently, the company claims. With its new capital, It also plans to double its team of 90 and enter new markets outside of its home base of Denver.

SignalFire Partner Chris Scoggins believes that Accept.inc is different from other lenders in that its focus is on “winning the home, not just servicing the loan, with a business model that’s 10x more capital-efficient than other players in the market.

The team is driven…to level the playing field for homebuyers who today lose out against all-cash offers from home-flippers and wealthy individuals,” he added. “We see an enormous opportunity for Accept.inc to become the backbone of the future of mortgage lending.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/accept-inc-secures-90m-in-debt-equity/

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Apple’s AirPods Max fall to a new all-time low of $489 at Amazon

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All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

With good looks, quality construction and great natural sound, Apple’s AirPods Max headphones tick all the right boxes, but they’re mighty expensive at $550. However, you can now pick up a pair from Amazon at $490, the lowest price we’ve seen yet. That’s still not inexpensive by any means, but it’s a substantial savings on high-end headphones that only came out seven months ago. 

Buy Apple AirPods Max (pink) at Amazon – $490 Buy Apple AirPods Max (sky blue) at Amazon – $489 Buy Apple AirPods Max (space gray) at Amazon – $489

With an Engadget review score of 84, the AirPods Max earned a spot in our list of the best headphones you can buy. They look and feel great thanks to the aluminum and metal design, breathable mesh fabric and large earcups. A rotating crown and dedicated button let you switch between ANC and and regular modes, and it’s easy to switch seamlessly between iPhones, Macs and iPads. They offer hands-free capability with Siri, and you can go for up to 20 hours between charges with both ANC and spatial sound enabled.  

AirPods Max offer a more natural sound experience than other headphones, with bass that’s not overcooked. Active noise cancellation quality is right up there, though not quite on par with Sony’s WH-1000XM4 ANC headphones. And they support Apple’s Dolby Atmos-powered spatial audio on iPhones, iPads and Macs right now, and will come to Apple TV this fall. The main drawback is that they won’t stream Apple’s new lossless audio. 

Still, they deliver in nearly every other area and are especially useful for folks with Apple devices. $60 is a substantial discount for an Apple product this new, so if you’re interested, it would be best to act soon. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/apple-airpods-max-good-deal-amazon-124026253.html?src=rss_b2c

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Ventureburn

SA agritech releases AI-enabled OmnioFarm to modernise African poultry farming

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The founders of South African cryptocurrency investment platform Africrypt have disappeared along with $3.6 billion (R51.4 billion) worth of Bitcoin, according to a report….

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Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/sa-agritech-releases-ai-enabled-omniofarm-to-modernise-african-poultry-farming/

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Fintech

Visa to acquire open banking platform Tink for more than $2 billion

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Visa has announced plans to acquire Tink for €1.8 billion, or $2.15 billion at today’s exchange rate. Tink has been a leading fintech startup in Europe focused on open banking application programming interface (API).

Today’s move comes a few months after Visa abandoned its acquisition of Plaid, another popular open banking startup. Originally, Visa planned to spend $5.3 billion to acquire the American startup. But the company had to call off the acquisition after running into a regulatory wall.

Tink offers a single API so that customers can connect to bank accounts from their own apps and services. For instance, you can leverage Tink’s API to access account statements, initiate payments, fetch banking information and refresh this data regularly.

While banks and financial institutions now all have to offer open banking interfaces due to EU’s Payment Services Directive PSD2, there’s no single standard. Tink integrates with 3,400 banks and financial institutions.

App developers can use the same API call to interact with bank accounts across various financial institutions. As you may have guessed, it greatly simplifies the adoption of open banking features.

300 banks and fintech startups use Tink’s API to access third-party bank information — clients include PayPal, BNP Paribas, American Express and Lydia. Overall, Tink covers 250 million bank customers across Europe.

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Tink operations should continue as usual after the acquisition. Visa plans to retain the brand and management team.

According to Crunchbase data, Tink has raised over $300 million from Dawn Capital, Eurazeo, HMI Capital, Insight Partners, PayPal Ventures, Creades, Heartcore Capital and others.

“For the past ten years we have worked relentlessly to build Tink into a leading open banking platform in Europe, and we are incredibly proud of what the whole team at Tink has created together,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement. “We have built something incredible and at the same time we have only scratched the surface.”

“Joining Visa, we will be able to move faster and reach further than ever before. Visa is the perfect partner for the next stage of Tink’s journey, and we are incredibly excited about what this will bring to our employees, customers and for the future of financial services.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/visa-to-acquire-open-banking-platform-tink-for-more-than-2-billion/

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