A drop in infant immunisation rates during the Covid-19 lockdown has health workers scrambling to catch up. They fear "fake news" about vaccinations during the election campaign could add to the problem. The rate of vaccination among 6 month olds dropped 2.4 per cent to 76.2 per cent in the April to June quarter, which captured most of the level 4 lockdown and gradual lowering of restrictions, compared to the same time last year. The latest Ministry of Health data showed there was also a 4.4 per cent drop in those with the greatest socio-economic deprivation and a 5.6 per cent decline in Maori infants.
It’s been nearly a year since the novel coronavirus began spreading around the world. While we’ve learned a lot about Covid-19 since January – and how to live and work in lockdown – there’s still much we don’t know about how the pandemic will change our societies. That’s why we’ve rolled out Unknown Questions, our series grappling with these seismic changes by asking leaders and experts across the globe for their input. But today, we’ve turned to you, our readers, for your views on the biggest unknowns about the post-pandemic future.
Angela Merkel said Germans had the chance to show Covid-19 “you have chosen the wrong host” as she defended her government’s second “soft” lockdown, to shouts and heckles in parliament. Citing an interview with the German science writer Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, which she said reflected her own attitude towards the pandemic, the chancellor said: “If the virus could think, it would think … ‘I’ve got the perfect host here. These people live all over the planet. They are globally networked and are social creatures, they can’t live without social contacts. They have a hedonistic inclination, they like to party, it couldn’t be any better.’”
Several coronavirus vaccine candidates could soon be approved and German Health Minister Jens Spahn has begun making plans to inoculate millions of people. But the challenges remain immense and the virus will be with us for quite some time to come.
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier told CNBC on Thursday that drugs to treat or prevent Covid-19 aren’t a “silver bullet” solution to the pandemic. People will need to wear masks and practice social distancing measures well into 2021, he predicted. Frazier said “he’s very optimistic that in the near future” there will be positive results coming from late-stage clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics.
Neighbourhoods cordoned off, shops closed after 100 infections confirmed in village on outskirts of city. Local woman says situation not as bad as in July, as people have learned to cope the restrictions
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have signed a statement of intent with Gavi to provide 200 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine available to the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global risk-sharing mechanism aim at securing COVID-19 vaccines for equitable distribution. The doses of Sanofi and GSK’s adjuvanted recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine will be used to support COVAX’s ambition to ensure successful shots reach those in need, once they obtain the appropriate approvals. “To address a global health crisis of this magnitude, it takes unique partnerships. The commitment we are announcing today for the COVAX Facility can help us together stand a better chance of bringing the pandemic under control,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur.
Thousands of Parisians caused massive traffic jams as they tried to flee the French capital for the country. Huge numbers of locals attempted a mass exodus in a bid to avoid the start of the second national lockdown. Many were enjoying their final night of freedom in France ahead of new lockdown restrictions from Friday Draconian measures will see people needing documents to show their reasonable excuse for leaving home. Europe has seen rising infections, with France recording 47,637 new infections in 24 hours and 235 deaths
Pandemics will emerge more often, spread faster, cost more and kill more people than COVID-19 without bold action to halt the habitat destruction that helps viruses hop from wildlife to humans, according to a study published on Thursday. The findings www.ipbes.net/pandemics suggest that moves to protect tropical forests and other rich ecosystems to help slow climate change and save animal, bird and plant species could also prevent pandemics. “It turns out that by doing something about pandemics we are also doing something about climate change and biodiversity, and that’s a good thing,” Peter Daszak, a zoologist who chaired the study by 22 international experts, told Reuters. The group found that about half of an estimated 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in nature might be able to infect people.
America’s biggest cities should brace for a chunk of families moving out because they prefer to work remotely from less crowded and less expensive areas, according to a survey by Upwork released Thursday. The survey showed 14 million to 23 million people plan to pack up, many of them from big U.S. cities. The trend is no surprise since the pandemic made it dangerous to commute on mass transit and work in crowded offices. Still, Upwork chief economist Adam Ozimek said the large number was a surprise.
As more of us work from home and use video conferencing to communicate with colleagues, the practice has become almost a rite of passage for 2020. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that 86 percent of people who are working from home are doing so because of COVID-19 measures, so the remote digital culture is still a new one for many people. In China, remote working initially drew a mixed response. Many employees complained about intrusive bosses who had trust issues with employees, while some line managers were suspicious of family members distracting their employees, or them finding it difficult to focus in other ways. However, as time passes, and remote working becomes more of a fact of life in a COVID-19 world, many people are embracing the experience, reporting that it does in fact improve productivity and well-being.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more people are working remotely than ever before. However, working remotely while living through various stages of stay-at-home orders has caused many to reconsider their living arrangements, sometimes leading to an exit from big-city living to a new location in search of more space, better weather or greater access to nature. Some countries have taken notice and decided to capitalize on the opportunity by offering remote work visas to help attract those who can do their job from their laptop. So, if you’ve dreamed of living on a tropical island during the winter, or amid the picturesque landscapes of Europe during the summer, you’re in luck.
Which do you prefer, going into the office part-time, or working from home all week? Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, many organisations have been obliged to implement a new hybrid remote-working model, which might mean working remotely on Mondays and Tuesdays, for instance, and going in to work for the rest of the week.
Months into a global pandemic with no end in sight, many college professors and K-12 teachers have pivoted to online instruction, moving classes on subjects ranging from physics to phys ed into virtual classrooms. But Karen Rayne, a veteran educator in the Austin, Texas, area, worries a subject she specializes in – sex education – will be left behind.
This 91-year-old's love for teaching amid the pandemic is stronger than ever — even if it means he's behind a computer screen. Charles Krohn went viral last month after his daughter, Julia, recorded an adorable video of him embracing remote learning at Houston's University of St. Thomas, where he has been an English professor for over 50 years. When Krohn was having issues with his computer, Julia invited him to her home so he could use her computer. Little did she know, watching her father's passion for teaching would catch the attention of so many people. "The fact that [he's teaching] virtually and still engaging and so smart and so quick ... it was just this beautiful moment that I just had to capture," she told Good Morning America of the sweet moment.
State health officials are expressing frustration about a lack of federal financial support as they face orders to prepare to receive and distribute the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 15, even though one is not likely to be approved until later this year. The officials say they don’t have enough money to pay for the enormous and complicated undertaking. State officials have been planning in earnest in recent weeks to get shots into arms even though no one knows which vaccine will be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, what special storage and handling may be required and how many doses each state will receive.
Last week, a panel of leading scientists appointed by the Indian government delivered a startlingly optimistic message: The world’s second largest COVID-19 epidemic has rounded a corner. India’s daily number of daily new cases has almost halved the past six weeks, and a new mathematical model suggests “we may have reached herd immunity,” some members of the panel wrote in a paper published online by The Indian Journal of Medical Research. Assuming measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing remain in place, the group said the pandemic could be “controlled by early next year.”
Greece will impose regional lockdowns on its second-largest city of Thessaloniki and two other regions from Friday after a spike in cases of COVID-19, the government said. The country has recorded significantly lower numbers of COVID-19 than other countries in Europe but cases have been rising rapidly since early October. Testing has also increased.
As coronavirus cases have shot through the roof, waiting times for tests and results have grown so lengthy that the health authorities have considered sending samples to labs in Abu Dhabi. Contact tracing, divided among 25 competing contractors, has never gotten off the ground. After months of discouraging the use of masks, saying they promote a false sense of security, the government just did an about face, calling for them to be worn in all public spaces. And topping it all off, the royal family, ignoring the government’s advice to travel as little as possible, flew off to their luxurious holiday home in Greece, adding to growing mistrust and resentment at home.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter. World stock markets went into a dive in response to the news that Europe’s biggest economies were imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations. “The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated,” Macron said in a televised address. “Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus.”
Merkel told the Bundestag today that Germany faces a 'difficult winter' ahead Comments come a day after Germany rolled out a series of lockdown measures These included the closure of bars and restaurants and limits on social contacts In the past day, Germany reported 16,744 new confirmed cases of coronavirus In the same time period the Robert Koch Institute said 89 Germans had died
Italy could tighten restrictions on movement including targeted lockdowns as virus cases spiral and European peers take more stringent measures. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte wants to use next week to assess the efficacy of the most recent set of curbs before taking further decisions, government officials said. The country could go into a near-full lockdown as soon as Nov. 9 if infection figures continue spiking, according to daily Il Messaggero. The next wave of curbs could include a new series of “red zones” in the country, ring-fencing some of the most-affected cities and their surrounding areas, one of the officials said. Milan, the country’s financial center, and Naples have been hit hardest.
The Spanish prime minister is pushing for a six-month state of alarm to fight coronavirus, but unlike during the first wave, he wants regional leaders to make the hard choices. The number of new confirmed daily cases in Spain has shot up from around 8,000 at the beginning of September to over 18,000 and health experts warn that the targeted restrictions taken in recent weeks, including shutting down bars and restaurants in parts of the country and limiting gatherings, are having minimal impact. Political tensions are rising too. There was a furious public reaction to pictures of four ministers attending a glamorous awards ceremony in Madrid on Monday just as the country re-entered the state of alarm. Many on social media saw it as evidence of a political class out of touch with ordinary people struggling under strict anti-coronavirus measures, even though the event organizers said they had followed the rules.
One by one, Spain's regions have announced regional border closures in the hope of avoiding a new lockdown like in France, but the move may not be enough. On Sunday, the government unveiled a state of emergency to give regional authorities the tools to impose curfews and to close their borders to anyone moving without just cause. Most of the country's 17 regions, including Madrid, Catalonia and Andalusia, have taken advantage of the measure to impose a so-called perimetral or inter-regional lockdown affecting three-quarters of Spain's 47 million citizens.
The Maharashtra government on Thursday extended the ongoing lockdown by another month as cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continue to rise in the state. It will now remain in effect till November 30, officials said. While nationwide tally is witnessing a drop in daily cases, Maharashtra continues to be the worst-affected state by the Covid-19 in the country with 130,286 active cases. As of Wednesday morning, the death toll in the state stood at 14,86,926.
Japan's cumulative total of confirmed novel coronavirus cases topped 100,000 on Thursday, according to a tally based on official data, amid a recent uptick in the number of new infections coinciding with a resumption of economic activity. The single-day number of new cases across the country reported Thursday was 809, eclipsing the 800 mark for the first time since Aug. 29, as some clusters of infections have been detected since early this month. The total figure includes about 700 cases aboard the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama in February. There have been more than 1,700 deaths in the country attributed to the virus.
China’s largest coronavirus outbreak in months appears to have emerged in a factory in Xinjiang linked to forced labour and the government’s controversial policies towards Uighur residents. More than 180 cases of Covid-19 documented in the past week in Shufu county, in southern Xinjiang, can be traced back to a factory that was built in 2018 as part of government “poverty alleviation” efforts, a campaign that researchers and rights advocates describe as coercive. Under the initiative, Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western region are tracked and given work placements that they have little choice but to take up. An official in nearby Kashgar told Caixin that the plant, Shuchang Garment, was a “satellite factory” for producing clothing, curtains and bedding. Previous state media reports about the factory said it employed about 300 villagers, mostly women, who could earn as much as 90 yuan (about £10) a day.
The U.S. reported 83,718 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, marking the second day in a row that the country topped 80,000 daily infections, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Why it matters: The coronavirus is surging across the U.S. and threatening to overwhelm hospitals, especially in rural areas. The government's top infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci told MSNBC earlier this month the U.S. is "facing a whole lot of trouble" as it heads into the winter, with cold weather likely to contribute to further spread of the virus.
Europe began counting the cost of sweeping restrictions on social life imposed to contain a surge in coronavirus infections while Britain continued to hold out against following Germany and France in ordering a second lockdown. As the pandemic raced ahead across the continent, Europe has moved back to being an epicentre of the global pandemic, facing the prospect of a prolonged economic slump alongside a public health crisis which has so far seen more than 44 million infections and 1.1 million deaths worldwide. “The total number of confirmed cases has moved from 7 to 9 million in just 14 days, and, today, Europe exceeded the 10-million-case milestone,” Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at the World Health Organization (WHO), told an emergency meeting of European health ministers on Thursday.
No areas of Scotland are to be placed in the highest level of the country's new five-tier coronavirus restrictions system. The Scottish government had been considering putting both North and South Lanarkshire in level four. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has now confirmed they will both be placed in level three instead, along with the rest of the central belt and Dundee. Much of the rest of the country has been put in level two. But the Highlands, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and Moray, which have far fewer cases of the virus, have been moved down to level one.
As part of the agreement, Novavax agreed to create a dedicated supply chain in the U.K. for the production of that country's order. The company will be required to deliver those 60 million doses to the U.K. government before using that supply chain to fulfill orders for any other parties unless the U.K. government gives it permission. Once the initial order is fulfilled, Novavax will be able to take orders from other parties using that portion of its production capacity, but the U.K. government will retain the right to request additional batches to match the third-party sales on a pro-rata basis.
Brazil expects to have a vaccine against COVID-19 approved and ready for use in a national inoculation program by June, the head of the country's health regulator Anvisa, Antonio Barra Torres, said on Thursday. With the world's worst outbreak of coronavirus after the United States and India, Brazil has become a key testing ground and has approved late stage clinical trials for four vaccines that are under development. Torres told Reuters that Anvisa has not decided on the minimum efficacy to require but he said the agency has approved vaccines in the past with less than 50% effectiveness. Health authorities in Europe are debating whether to accept a so-called efficacy rate of less than 50% to be able to deliver a vaccine sooner, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
The Eat Out to Help Out scheme caused a "significant" rise in new coronavirus infections, a new study suggests. According to the University of Warwick, the sharp increase in COVID-19 infection clusters emerged a week after the scheme began. The government's initiative was designed to boost the economy after the national lockdown, and allowed pubs and restaurants to offer heavily discounted meals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.
The World Health Organization’s Europe director said Thursday that the 53-country region has again reached a new weekly record for confirmed cases, with more than 1.5 million confirmed last week and more than 10 million since the start of the pandemic. During a meeting with European health ministers, WHO European regional director Dr. Hans Kluge said, “hospitalizations have risen to levels unseen since the spring” and that deaths have risen by more than 30% in the last week. “Europe is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again,” Kluge said. “At the risk of sounding alarmist, I must express our very real concern.”
The number of patients in hospital with coronavirus in Wales has grown again - up nearly a quarter on last week. Latest NHS Wales figures show 1,110 Covid-19 patients in hospital beds, which is more than 80% of the level at the pandemic's peak in April. Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board has nearly 100 more patients in its hospitals compared with last week. There have been rises elsewhere, with numbers doubling in Hywel Dda, which had only 33 Covid patients a week ago.
The founder of Pret a Manger and Itsu has said society will “not recover” if the UK enters a second lockdown “for the sake of a few thousand lives of old and very vulnerable people”. Julian Metcalfe, whose fortune is estimated at £215m, said a lockdown would be “impossible”. He told the Daily Mail: “The young people of this country will be paying for this for the next 20 to 30 years. It's terrible what's happening. “Just because France does this with its socialist government, doesn't mean we have to.”
French authors, booksellers and publishers are imploring the French government to allow bookshops to stay open because reading is “essential”, as the country enters a national four-week lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. France’s second lockdown, announced on Wednesday evening by president Emmanuel Macron, begins at midnight on Thursday. Macron said he hoped it would put a “brutal brake” on the infection rate, as France is “submerged by the acceleration of the spread of the virus”. All non-essential businesses, including bars and restaurants, are to close, while individuals will require sworn declarations to leave home.
Stores and businesses across France were filled Thursday by people racing to get supplies -- and maybe a last-minute haircut -- ahead of a new coronavirus lockdown coming into effect at midnight. Essentials like pasta and toilet paper were in high demand, as were printer ink and electronics for working from home, while yoga mats were no longer to be found at many sporting goods stores. "I'm stocking up, since we don't know when this will end," said Catherine Debeaupuis while shopping at an electronics retailer in central Paris.
If all goes well, the first doses of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will likely become available to some high-risk Americans in late December or early January, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, said on Thursday. Based on current projections from vaccine front-runners Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc, Americans will likely know “sometime in December whether or not we have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a live chat on Twitter and Facebook. “The first interim look (at trial results) should be, we hope, within the next few weeks,” he said.
More than 10,000 Covid-19 patients are now being treated in UK hospitals — nearly 1,000 of them ventilators — according to latest daily figures from the government. The number has risen in recent days, but has yet to reach the 20,000 seen at the height of the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year. However figures have continued to grow beyond those seen during the first peak in isolated regions. Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust had the highest number of beds occupied by coronavirus patients in England on Tuesday at 450, according to new NHS England data - followed by Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust in Greater Manchester which had 290.
Drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Tuesday it does not yet have data from the late-stage trial of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Germany's BioNTech SE, and provided a timeline that makes its release unlikely ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.Pfizer said there had not yet been enough infections in the 44,000-volunteer trial to trigger an analysis of whether or not the vaccine works. An independent panel will conduct the first analysis when it reaches 32 infections. Chief Executive Albert Bourla said after it has enough data for the analysis, it typically takes 5 to 7 days before the company can publicly release the data, meaning it is likely to happen after the election.
Russia has temporarily paused the vaccination of new volunteers in its COVID-19 vaccine trial, staff at eight of 25 trial clinics said, with some citing high demand and a shortage of doses. However, the vaccine’s developer said the uptake of new participants had only slowed. At eight of the 25 Moscow clinics hosting the trial and inoculating volunteers, staff told Reuters the vaccination of new participants was temporarily on hold, and several said they had used up the doses allocated to their clinics, referencing a large influx of volunteers.
A new variant of the coronavirus, identified as 20A.EU1 by researchers from Switzerland and Spain, was first observed in Spain in June. It has been recorded in Spain at frequencies of above 40% since July, the study said. Elsewhere, the new variant of the coronavirus has increased from “very low” values prior to July 15 to 40% to 70% in Switzerland, Ireland, and the U.K. in September. It was also found to be prevalent in Norway, Latvia, the Netherlands, and France.
Moderna Inc on Thursday said it is on track to report early data from a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine next month, offering the clearest timeline yet for when the world will know whether it is effective. The company, one of the front-runners in the global race to produce vaccines to protect against COVID-19, said an independent data monitoring committee is expected to conduct an interim review of its ongoing 30,000-person trial in November. Its shares rose 3%. The company said it is preparing to distribute the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, and expects to be able to produce 20 million doses by the end of the year, and between 500 million and 1 billion in 2021.
One of the front-runners in the global efforts to acquire a vaccine against Covid-19 said it was on track to report on the preliminary results of its clinical studies in November. Moderna said early-stage data on the clinical trial was expected during the following month and that two months of safety data would be available in the second half of November. The latter was the minimum required to file for emergency use authorisation wit the top US health regulator, the Food and Drug Administration. The US biotechnology outfit also said that it was working with the World Health Organisation on a tiered pricing model for access to its vaccine.
On 8 October, the company inked an agreement to supply the European Union with its drug remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19—a deal potentially worth more than $1 billion. Two weeks later, on 22 October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved remdesivir for use against the pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in the United States—the first drug to receive that status. The EU and U.S. decisions pave the way for Gilead’s drug into two major markets, both with soaring COVID-19 cases. But both decisions baffled scientists who have closely watched the clinical trials of remdesivir unfold over the past 6 months—and who have many questions about remdesivir’s worth. At best, one large, well-designed study found remdesivir modestly reduced the time to recover from COVID-19 in hospitalized patients with severe illness. A few smaller studies found no impact of treatment on the disease whatsoever. Then, on 15 October—in this month’s decidedly unfavorable news for Gilead—the fourth and largest controlled study delivered what some believed was a coup de grâce: The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Solidarity trial showed that remdesivir does not reduce mortality or the time COVID-19 patients take to recover.