While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 17

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Boosters for all key to US reaching Covid-19 endemic level: Fauci

Top US infectious disease official Dr Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday it is possible for Covid-19 to be reduced to an endemic illness from the current health emergency next year if the country ramps up vaccination rates.

Booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccines are vital for reaching that point, Fauci said in an interview during the Reuters Total Health conference, which runs virtually from Nov 15-18.

Experts believe Covid-19 cannot be eliminated and will likely become endemic, meaning it will always be present in the population to some degree, such as the flu or chickenpox.

"To me, if you want to get to endemic, you have got to get the level of infection so low that it does not have an impact on society, on your life, on your economy," Fauci said. "People will still get infected. People might still get hospitalised, but the level would be so low that we don't think about it all the time and it doesn't influence what we do."


Italy, France to sign Rome treaty aimed at changing EU power balance

Italian and French leaders Mario Draghi and Emmanuel Macron will sign a deal next week to try to tilt the balance of power in Europe after the departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a government source said.

The details of the accord remain undisclosed, but another Italian official said it will boost cooperation between the countries in areas spanning the economy, trade, tourism and culture.

Under Draghi, ties between the two countries are fully restored and he and Macron are increasingly keen to act in tandem to shape European policy after years of bitter quarrels between the two countries.


Journalist Danny Fenster back in US after release from Myanmar jail

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An American journalist jailed for six months by Myanmar's military rulers returned to the United States on Tuesday, saying it felt "incredible" to be reunited with his family.

Danny Fenster hugged his parents after landing at New York's JFK airport at around 8am (9pm Singapore time) with former diplomat and Cabinet secretary Bill Richardson, who secured his release from prison on Monday.

Fenster, 37, told reporters he would briefly celebrate his release with relatives before turning his attention to other journalists and "prisoners of conscience" jailed in Myanmar.


86-year-old crowned 'Miss Holocaust Survivor' in Israeli pageant

An 86-year-old great-grandmother was crowned "Miss Holocaust Survivor" on Tuesday in an annual Israeli beauty pageant designed to honour women who endured the horrors of the Nazi genocide.

Ten contestants - ranging in age from 79 to 90 - trod the catwalk at a museum in the city of Jerusalem, their hair styled and make-up applied and dressed to the nines with sashes adorning their gowns.

Organisers of the contest, which was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, say it bestows glamour and respect on a dwindling number of Jewish women whose youth was stolen during World War II but who went on to build new lives in Israel.


Harry Potter cast to reunite for 20th anniversary TV special

Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are reuniting with other cast members from the blockbuster film franchise for a special 20th anniversary TV retrospective, movie studio Warner Bros said on Tuesday.

Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), director Chris Columbus and other stars of the eight movies will join them, for "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts" on the movie set in London where the first film was made.

The special will be broadcast on Jan 1 on streaming platform HBO Max.


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