Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Nov 2022

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Is Covid-19 an Endemic Disease and What Does It Mean for the World?

Most of the world is done with Covid-19, though it clearly isn’t done with the world. Countries with the notable exception of China in 2022 unwound a bevy of restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus that causes Covid, and even China loosened its stern rules a bit. For the most part, political leaders and their constituents were eager to pivot to accepting Covid as an endemic disease, much like seasonal flu, even though the World Health Organization continued to designate SARS-CoV-2 a public health emergency of international concern.
22nd Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Nov 2022

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COVID-19 vaccine developed in Thailand can be stored in refrigerator for three months

A team of researchers affiliated with several entities in Thailand, working with two colleagues from the U.S. and two from Canada, has developed a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine that can be safely refrigerated for up to three months before use. The team has named it ChulaCov19. In their paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, the group describes the differences between their vaccine and other mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Amid the global pandemic, groups around the world have developed vaccines to protect or lessen symptoms of people from/with COVID-19. And of the 172 vaccines developed to date, 40 are RNA-based. The most well-known vaccines have been developed by Pfizer and Moderna, and both have been shown to be effective in preventing serious symptoms.
20th Nov 2022 - Medical Xpress

Job strain and burnout in Spanish nurses during the COVID-19: resilience as a protective factor in a cross-sectional study

Nurses are frequently exposed to chronic stress in the workplace generating harmful effects such as job strain and burnout. On the contrary, resilience has been shown to be a beneficial variable. The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship between dimensions of the Job Demand Control-Support model, resilience and burnout in nurses, and examine the mediating role of resilience between job strain and burnout.
19th Nov 2022 - Human Resources for Health

Covid Drug Treatments Aren't Keeping Up With Virus Mutations

Covid-19’s constant mutations have proven nearly impossible for drugmakers to keep up with. Omicron’s newest stepchildren threaten to render the last two antibody drugs on the market ineffective: Eli Lilly & Co.’s bebtelovimab, which is used to treat symptoms, and AstraZeneca Plc’s Evusheld, which helps prevent infections.  When Covid first hit, scientists quickly developed antibody drugs to protect people from the virus’s worst effects. It’s a straightforward premise: a targeted antibody can immediately neutralize a threat inside the body, preventing an infection from even starting.
19th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

Masks mandated in NSW hospitals as COVID-19 cases rise in Australia's fourth wave

Masks will once again be mandatory in hospitals across New South Wales as the state goes through an increase in COVID-19 cases. Infections and hospitalisations are rising across the country as Australia's fourth wave continues to approach its peak. In New South Wales, confirmed cases rose from 19,800 last week to 27,869 this week, as of 4pm yesterday – a 52 per cent increase – leading to NSW Health mandating masks in hospitals across the state.
19th Nov 2022 - 9News.com

Hong Kong Eases Covid Restrictions, Only Requires 2 PCR Testing for Arrivals

Hong Kong will cut in half the number of laboratory Covid-19 tests new arrivals must undergo starting next week.  Travelers will be swabbed for testing at the airport, and then must arrange one additional nucleic acid test on their second day in the Asian financial hub, Under Secretary for Health Libby Lee said at a briefing on Thursday with reporters. The other two tests currently required, conducted on days four and six, will no longer be needed, she said.
17th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Nov 2022

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French medics say face masks are needed again, especially on transport

The French Académie de Médecine states that masks would protect against Covid, seasonal flu and bronchiolitis but stopped short of saying they should be ‘mandatory’
12th Nov 2022 - The Connexion

New York is becoming an 'emerging hotspot' for the XBB family of COVID variants that hit Singapore, as BQ closes in on U.S. dominance

A wave of infections involving an extremely immune-evasive COVID strain that started spreading in New York and recently reached California is about to engulf the rest of the U.S., according to a report from federal health officials released Friday. Two variants of the BQ strain are projected to comprise 35% of U.S. infections, according to a COVID forecast from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That puts the variant family just slightly behind BA.5, which still led U.S. cases on Friday, at an estimated 39%.
12th Nov 2022 - Fortune

Covid infections fall across UK for first time in nearly three months

Covid-19 infections have fallen in all four UK countries for the first time in nearly three months, official figures show, while the number of people hospitalised continues to fall. The news provides fresh evidence the latest wave of the virus has peaked, while health experts have praised the autumn booster campaign for helping to prevent high levels of serious illness. “It is hugely encouraging that Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are still in decline across the UK. This goes to show how effective the vaccine programme continues to be and we thank everyone who has come forward for their latest vaccination so far,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, the director of public health programmes at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
12th Nov 2022 - The Guardian

Africa CDC Saving Lives and Livelihoods Initiative Expands Implementation in Southern Africa – Africa CDC

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and Mastercard Foundation today rolled out a large-scale, multi-country COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Southern Africa under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative. The Saving Lives and Livelihood is a $1.5 billion partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the Africa CDC designed to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for nearly 65 million people, enable vaccine delivery and administration to vaccinate millions more, develop a workforce to support continental vaccine manufacturing, and strengthen the Africa CDC. To date, the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative has enabled over 6 million people in Africa to access COVID-19 vaccines, while helping to accelerate vaccine uptake in countries facing the risk of mass vaccine expiration.
12th Nov 2022 - AfricaCDC.org

Three quarters of UK long COVID sufferers working less -survey

More than three quarters of British people who have suffered persistent ill health following a COVID-19 infection have had to cut back or change the work they do, according to a survey on the impact of long COVID published on Wednesday. The survey of 1,002 people, conducted by market research company Censuswide in October for recruitment website Indeed, adds to signs that long COVID continues to be a factor behind widespread labour shortages in Britain.
10th Nov 2022 - Reuters

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Nov 2022

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COVID variants BQ.1/BQ.1.1 make up 35% of U.S. cases

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday estimated that Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 accounted for about 35% of coronavirus cases in the country in the week ending Nov.5 compared with 23.2% in the previous week. The subvariants made up nearly 9% of total cases in the week of Oct. 15 and their proportion has been rising steadily among circulating cases since then. The two variants are descendants of Omicron's BA.5 subvariant and have been spreading rapidly in Europe.
6th Nov 2022 - Reuters

China posts 6-month high COVID count as it sticks with strategy

China on Sunday reported its highest number of new COVID-19 infections in six months, a day after health officials said they were sticking with strict coronavirus curbs, likely disappointing recent investor hopes for an easing. China recorded 4,420 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections on Saturday, the National Health Commission said, the most since May 6 and compared up from 3,659 new local cases a day earlier.
6th Nov 2022 - Reuters

New Covid variants are circulating. What do we know and will the Omicron-specific booster be effective?

Despite driving an increase in cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) says XBB and BQ.1 are not different enough from each other, or from other Omicron lineages, to warrant labelling them new variants of concern. Variants of concern are those that show increased transmissibility, virulence or change in clinical disease, and a decreased effectiveness of public health and social measures. XBB and BQ.1 are subvariants of Omicron, which continues to be a variant of concern. Examining global data available to date, WHO said there is early evidence that there is a higher risk of Covid-19 reinfection from XBB and BQ.1 compared to other circulating Omicron subvariants. However, cases of reinfection appear to be largely occurring in those previously infected with pre-Omicron strains, such as Delta, WHO says.
5th Nov 2022 - The Guardian

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st Oct 2022

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Shanghai orders mass testing in downtown Yangpu even as China's citizens hope for relaxed COVID-19 protocols

The lockdown is an echo of previous measures which led to a two-month lockdown of the entire city of 25 million.
29th Oct 2022 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

COVID-19: New report predicts how many daily cases there will be by February

Global coronavirus cases are projected to rise slowly in the coming months to about 18.7 million per day by February. The current daily average is around 16.7 million, according to the University of Washington report. It is far fewer than last winter when the Omicron variant pushed the estimated peak daily average to about 80 million - and the increase is also not expected to cause a big increase in deaths. The university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecasts average deaths will rise from about 1,660 now to 2,748 on 1 February.
26th Oct 2022 - Sky News

Biden gets latest COVID vaccine, urges Americans to do same

U.S. President Joe Biden rolled up his sleeve and received an updated COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, using the occasion to urge more Americans to get the booster before the upcoming holiday season, especially seniors. "I'm calling on all Americans to get their shot just as soon as they can," Biden said shortly before a doctor gave him the new shot. With some Americans resistant to the vaccines, Biden urged them to put partisan politics aside, noting that more than 1 million people in the United States have died from COVID-19.
25th Oct 2022 - Reuters

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Oct 2022

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Cases of BQ.1, BQ.1.1 COVID variants double in U.S. as Europe warns of rise

U.S. health regulators on Friday estimated that BQ.1 and closely related BQ.1.1 accounted for 16.6% of coronavirus variants in the country, nearly doubling from last week, while Europe expects them to become the dominant variants in a month. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said the variants are likely to drive up cases in the coming weeks to months in the European region. The two variants are descendants of Omicron's BA.5 subvariant, which is the dominant form of the coronavirus in the United States. Regulators in Europe and the U.S. have recently authorized vaccine boosters that target it.
22nd Oct 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 Vaccines Should Be Among Regular Immunizations, CDC Advisers Say

Vaccine experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported adding Covid-19 vaccines to the agency’s lists of recommended regular immunizations. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, voted unanimously on Thursday in support of including Covid-19 shots on the lists of measles, tetanus and other inoculations that adults and children 6 months and older should get in the U.S. Now, it is up to the CDC to sign off.
21st Oct 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Oct 2022

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Novavax says COVID booster dose shows benefit against Omicron variants

Novavax Inc said on Wednesday data from studies in adults and adolescents showed that the booster dose of its COVID vaccine produced robust antibodies against several Omicron variants, including BA.1, BA.2 and BA.5. The data was from two studies - a late-stage study evaluating the booster in adults and adolescents who had received Novavax primary vaccination and another study testing it in those aged 18 to 49 who had received primary series of Novavax vaccine or other authorized or approved vaccines.
12th Oct 2022 - Reuters

FDA authorizes COVID omicron boosters for kids 5 and up

Moderna’s vaccine was authorized for use at least two months after completion of primary or booster vaccination in children down to six years of age, according to a statement Wednesday from the US Food and Drug Administration. The Pfizer shot can be given at least two months after primary or booster vaccination in children as young as five. While updated booster shots have already been authorized for use in children and adults from the age of 12 and up, uptake of the shots has been slow. Primary vaccinations of children have also gone slowly as parents have seen the risk of infection as low. “Since children have gone back to school in person and people are resuming pre-pandemic behaviors and activities, there is the potential for increased risk of exposure to the virus that causes Covid-19,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
13th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg L.P. on MSN.com

Singapore to Ease More Covid Curbs, Step Up Vaccination Program

Singapore will step up its vaccination program as it further eases its Covid-related curbs, lifting restrictions on non-vaccinated individuals in restaurants and other venues. The Ministry of Health said it will fully lift its vaccine-differentiated safe management measures, effective Oct. 10. That means the restrictions will no longer be applied in eateries, nightlife establishments and at large events with more than 500 attendees. Singapore’s steady removal of its Covid curbs has helped solidify its role as a major Asian financial center, capitalizing on Hong Kong’s relative slowness to reopen. In a sign of the relative appeal of the two cities, Singapore’s population rose 3.4% in June from a year earlier, while Hong Kong’s shrank 1.6%.
10th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

BioNTech plants research and production flag in Australia

The company’s latest move? A strategic partnership in the Land Down Under. Friday, the German biotech unveiled a deal with the Australian state of Victoria to prop up a new mRNA research and innovation center to bolster investigation of new meds “from discovery to delivery.” BioNTech will also throw in one of its "BioNTainer" mobile manufacturing facilities in Victoria’s capital of Melbourne for end-to-end clinical production of mRNA products and candidates, the company said in a release. Housed in shipping containers, BioNTainer modular factories are kitted out to produce vaccines from start to finish. Beyond Australia, the company recently advanced plans to kick off a BioNTainer-focused mRNA vaccine manufacturing initiative in Africa.
8th Oct 2022 - FiercePharma

From BQ.1.1 to XBB and beyond: How the splintering of Omicron variants could shape Covid's next phase

The United States is in a (relative) Covid-19 lull, with cases and hospitalizations falling as the wave driven by the BA.5 lineage of the Omicron variant recedes. But as if we needed a portent of an anticipated fall and winter wave, Covid is on the rise in some European countries. What’s different, at least for now, is that there’s not one variant pushing the wave. Rather, scientists are tracking a bevy of new forms of Omicron, which are jockeying with each other as they compete to become the next dominant strain. Scientists are monitoring more than 300 sublineages of Omicron, World Health Organization officials said this week. To get a sense of what’s happening right now with the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, STAT spoke with Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London.
6th Oct 2022 - STAT News

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Oct 2022

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Autumn COVID variants look shockingly similar and powerful for these 2 reasons

Earlier this year, fears of a new “super strain” of Omicron were real—and rising. A researcher in Cyprus identified a COVID-19 variant that had features of both the deadly Delta and the highly transmissible, immune-evasive Omicron variants. “Deltacron,” as the new variant became known, was a bit of a “frankenvirus” that combined the two strains. Deltacron failed to take off, and it soon disappeared. A second Delta-Omicron hybrid later arose then also subsided. But the phenomenon that caused it is likely to come into play this fall. Scientists expect a sizable wave of COVID cases October through January, fueled by multiple Omicron spinoffs that look increasingly alike—both to each other and to older versions of the scourge.
9th Oct 2022 - Fortune

Singapore to ditch rules linked to Covid vaccination status from October 10

The health ministry said its vaccine-differentiated safe management measures will no longer be applied in eateries and nightlife venues. The government will also vaccinate children aged six months to four years and roll out bivalent jabs as boosters for those aged 50 and older
9th Oct 2022 - South China Morning Post

Spike in COVID-19 cases across Europe could mean fast-spreading winter wave

With winter weather just around the corner, the first hints of another wave of COVID-19 have emerged in Europe, according to data released by the World Health Organization this week. Infections across Europe — the majority of them caused by omicron subvariants that dominated the summer months — have been steadily climbing in several nations, including in the United Kingdom, France and Italy. According to WHO data released Wednesday, cases across the European Union spiked to 1.5 million last week, up 8% from the week prior. Hospitalizations are also up across the 27-nation bloc, with Italy reporting a 32% jump in admissions and a 21% increase in intensive care admissions for the week ending on Oct. 4. Britain, meanwhile, reported a 45% increase in hospitalizations when compared with the week prior.
9th Oct 2022 - The Times Leader

Early signs a new U.S. COVID surge could be on its way

As the U.S. heads into a third pandemic winter, the first hints are emerging that another possible surge of COVID-19 infections could be on its way. So far, no national surge has started yet. The number of people getting infected, hospitalized and dying from COVID in the U.S. has been gently declining from a fairly high plateau. But as the weather cools and people start spending more time inside, where the virus spreads more easily, the risks of a resurgence increase. The first hint of what could be in store is what's happening in Europe. Infections have been rising in many European countries, including the U.K., France, and Italy.
7th Oct 2022 - NPR.org

UK ‘blind’ to new immune-evasive Covid variants creating ‘perfect storm’ for devastating wave

The UK is heading into a “devastating” Covid wave this autumn exacerbated by a drop in testing and inadequate surveillance of new immune-evasive subvariants, experts have warned. Covid-19 infections in the UK have risen 14 per cent, according to the latest figures.
2nd Oct 2022 - The Independent

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Oct 2022

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UK ‘blind’ to devastating wave of new Covid variants, experts warn

The UK is “blind” to new Covid variants which could cause a devastating new wave, health experts have warned. Covid infections in the UK have risen by 14 per cent in a week, according to the Office for National Statistics, in a sign that the autumn wave of infections is underway. More than 1.1 million people in the UK tested positive for the virus in the week ending September 20, up from 927,000 in the previous week.
2nd Oct 2022 - Evening Standard

Ending mandatory isolation does not mean Covid is over. But we need to move beyond short-term fixes

Changes in Covid-19 policy settings always invoke mixed reactions, and the national cabinet decision to stop isolation requirements for most people is one of the more substantial announcements since the opening of international borders, and the end to supervised quarantine. Some of us have felt protected by rules, others frustrated by them, while the majority probably sit somewhere in the middle – being reassured that they were there when needed, and relieved when we can ease them safely. This is not about “giving up”, or “letting it rip”, it is about handing over to sustainable measures that will take us forward.
2nd Oct 2022 - The Guardian

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Sep 2022

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Some People Are Finally Getting Their First Dose of a Covid-19 Vaccine

All together, the seven-day average for adults getting first shots each day ranged between roughly 15,000 and 18,000 in late August, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The data can overestimate first-shot recipients, because there are times where the agency can’t link follow-up shots, including boosters, to people who received an initial series. The same effect can lead to an undercount of booster shots, according to the CDC. People who recently got the first jab cited a range of reasons. Some said they were ordered to do so, such as to start a new job or travel for a vacation. Others waited until a vaccine using a more-traditional technology, instead of the newer mRNA versions, became available. Some went ahead after getting sick with Covid-19, or after a family member vouched that the shots worked.
19th Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Sep 2022

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We Are Failing to Use What We've Learned About COVID

Podcast - This is Eric Topol for Medscape. I'm with my co-host Abraham Verghese for a new edition of Medicine and the Machine. We have an extraordinary guest today, Professor Christina Pagel. She is a force — a professor at University College London with an extraordinary background in math, physics, and even interplanetary space. We've never had a guest with such a diverse background. Welcome, Christina.
9th Sep 2022 - Medscape

Step up hunt for origins of Covid-19, Lancet panel urges

An international expert panel on Covid-19 has called for continued investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, saying the pathogen could have either spilled over from nature or an infection of a laboratory worker. In its final report this week, the Lancet Commission on Covid-19 led by Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs said the virus could well have had a natural origin, but the commission could not rule out it could have passed to humans during laboratory research in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus was first detected, or elsewhere. Even if it was a laboratory leak, it could well be a natural virus or a bioengineered virus, the report said, adding investigation and better monitoring of such research was needed.
18th Sep 2022 - South China Morning Post

How did Pfizer vaccine fare against Omicron in NZ?

New Zealand confronted Omicron as one of the most vaccinated populations on the planet – so what difference did that make in blunting the worst impacts? That's what researchers plan to find out in a new study exploring the effectiveness of multiple doses of the Pfizer vaccine against the variant, in what was also one of the world's few "infection-naïve" populations. Study leaders Dr Anna Howe and Dr Matt Hobbs also aim to answer another critical question: what protection the vaccine gave Māori, Pasifika and other high-risk groups. By the time the Omicron outbreak forced the whole of New Zealand into the red traffic light setting on January 23, about 93 per cent of our eligible adult population – that's 3,910,251 people – had already received at least two doses of Pfizer's Comirnaty vaccine
18th Sep 2022 - New Zealand Herald

'Eighth wave of Covid imminent in France' says health ministry

Covid appears to be making a comeback in France, after cases jumped by 55.5% over the past seven days, and 41,850 cases were reported in the last 24 hours. The figures from the Health Ministry and health authority Santé publique France, released on September 13, show a significant rise in infections. The daily average over the past seven days is around 17,000, but rising. The Health Ministry has warned that “an eighth wave” appears to be imminent and Health Minister François Braun has called on people in France to take “responsibility” and think about bringing back their social distancing and hygiene measures where appropriate.
16th Sep 2022 - The Connexion France

Australians might be ‘living with Covid’ but aged care residents are still dying with it. Where is the outrage and grief?

Across Australia, more than 3,000 people living in residential aged care have died with Covid-19 this year. This is three times more than in the first two years of the pandemic when tight lockdowns prevented families from spending precious time together and negatively impacted mental health, cognitive and physical wellbeing. To what end?
16th Sep 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19 Illnesses Are Keeping at Least 500,000 Workers Out of U.S. Labor Force, Study Says

Illness caused by Covid-19 shrank the U.S. labor force by around 500,000 people, a hit that is likely to continue if the virus continues to sicken workers at current rates, according to a new study released Monday. Millions of people left the labor force—the number of people working or looking for work—during the pandemic for various reasons, including retirement, lack of child care and fear of Covid. The total size of the labor force reached 164.7 million people in August, exceeding the February 2020 prepandemic level for the first time. The labor force would have 500,000 more members if not for the people sickened by Covid, according to the study’s authors, economists Gopi Shah Goda of Stanford University and Evan J. Soltas, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
12th Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Sep 2022

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New York Governor Lifts Mask Mandate for NYC Subways

New York Governor Kathy Hochul lifted the state’s mask requirement for public transit, removing one of the last remaining government mandates of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hochul announced the decision on Wednesday after months of confusion among commuters befuddled by varying national, state and local rules on where face coverings are required. Covid numbers are stable, putting the state “in a good place now,” she said. “We haven’t seen any spikes, and also people are getting back to work, back to school,” Hochul said during a press conference at a health center in New York City, shortly before receiving her omicron-targeted booster that’s being made available this week. “We have to restore some normalcy to our lives.”
8th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

Pharmacists warn they do not have sufficient Covid boosters for autumn rollout

Pharmacies in England warned they have insufficient Covid jabs for the autumn booster campaign. Around 1.6 million care home residents, staff and housebound people will start to be given jabs to protect them ahead of winter. An additional four million people including the over-75s will be able to book a fourth jab. But Leyla Hannbeck, of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said some members had receiving just a third of their orders. ‘We’ve known for months that there’s going to be a vaccination process from autumn onwards,’ she told the Sunday Telegraph.
5th Sep 2022 - Daily Mail

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Sep 2022

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Covid: Millions invited for booster jabs from Monday

Millions of people will be invited for their autumn Covid booster jab in England and Scotland next week, with care home residents the first to receive them. Although infections are falling, health bosses are predicting a resurgence of Covid and flu this autumn and winter. They are urging those eligible to protect themselves from serious illness by getting vaccines against both. A recently approved vaccine against the Omicron variant will be used first.
3rd Sep 2022 - BBC News

South Africa Wastewater May Indicate 'Impending' Covid-19 Wave

An increase in Covid-19 virus fragments in wastewater samples “may indicate an impending wave” of infections, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said. Increases in the frequency of samples in the week ended Aug. 23 were found at water treatment plants near the capital, Pretoria, as well as in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, an industrial and residential area that lies between the two cities, the NICD said in a report on Friday. Increased numbers of fragments were also found in the cities of Durban and Bloemfontein, it said.
2nd Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

EU states urged to roll out COVID booster shots to fend off winter infections

EU countries should start offering COVID boosters to their populations now to contain a fresh wave of infections expected this autumn and winter, the bloc's executive said in a document seen by Reuters on Friday ahead of its official release. The Brussels-based European Commission said more than 2,300 people still die of COVID in the bloc every week, while other negative health consequences of the disease include long-COVID symptoms and mental problems.
2nd Sep 2022 - Reuters

Deadline looming, White House sees spike in demand for at-home virus tests

The White House on Thursday said Americans have increased requests for at-home COVID-19 tests as the federal government prepares to stop providing free tests on Friday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that "we're going to do everything we can to get people their tests."
2nd Sep 2022 - Reuters

CDC Panel Backs Moderna, Pfizer Covid Omicron Boosters

Covid booster shots that target the most common new variants of the virus should become available in the US within days, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off on the rollout of updated vaccines Thursday. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky endorsed the use of the new shots after, in two 13-1 votes, outside vaccine and health experts gave their backing to the booster shots from Moderna Inc. and from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
1st Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Sep 2022

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Covid-19 Boosters Targeting Omicron Reviewed by CDC Advisers

Immunization experts advising the federal government recommended newly authorized Covid-19 booster shots, the next step toward making the reformulated doses widely available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13 to 1 in two votes on Thursday that anyone who was already eligible for a booster should now get the reformulated shots, which target both the original virus and Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
1st Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong vaccine pass scheme to include 5-11 age group, official confirms

Details of new policy to be announced next week, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection says. Top minister will reveal a major NGO will join the government’s effort to boost inoculation rate among the elderly,
1st Sep 2022 - South China Morning Post

Canada's Ontario allows masked people with asymptomatic COVID in public

Canada's most populous province, Ontario, said on Wednesday that residents can come out of isolation with a mask as soon as 24 hours after their COVID-19 symptoms dissipate, under a strategy to homogenize guidance for all respiratory illnesses. Asymptomatic COVID-positive residents, as well as those who come in contact with an infected person, can go to work or school but they must wear a face mask for 10 days, the Ontario government said.
1st Sep 2022 - Reuters

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Greater regular physical activity reduces risk of adverse COVID-19 outcomes

Greater regular physical activity reduces the risk of infection, hospitalisation, severe illness and death from COVID-19 in comparison to those who are inactive according to the findings of a systematic review and meta-analysis by a team of Spanish researchers. Some degree of physical activity is better than none but greater regular physical activity is best for optimal health outcomes according to a World Health Organisation guideline from 2020. Physical activity has a beneficial impact on the immune system and also appears to have protective associations against infectious disease mortality. Moreover, it also appears that the converse is true, particular in relation to COVID-19. For example, in a study of over 48,440 adult patients with a COVID-19, those who were physically inactive had a higher risk of hospitalisation, admission to intensive care and death compared to those who were consistently meeting physical activity guidelines.
31st Aug 2022 - Hospital Healthcare Europe

Goldman Sachs to lift vaccination, Covid-19 requirements in most offices next month

Goldman Sachs said Tuesday it will lift all its Covid-19 requirements in most offices beginning Sept. 6, in response to new guidance from federal health officials. According to a memo obtained by CNBC, the bank will no longer require its workers to be vaccinated to enter its offices or to test and wear face coverings, except those in Lima and New York City. Unvaccinated employees in New York City will still need an approved religious or medical exemption to enter the bank’s office spaces, according to the memo.
31st Aug 2022 - CNBC

Cyprus ends mandatory mask wearing as COVID-19 measures eased

Article reports that Cyprus on Wednesday said it would end all restrictions on gatherings and the mandatory use of face masks in most areas after cases of COVID-19 were declining. Effective Wednesday, all restrictions on public or private gatherings would be eased, while wearing face masks would only be compulsory in areas such as hospitals, care homes and on public transport, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said.
31st Aug 2022 - Reuters

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Goldman Sachs to lift COVID protocols - memo

Goldman Sachs Group Inc will lift pandemic-era protocols at its offices effective Sept. 6, according to an internal memo reviewed by Reuters. The Wall Street investment bank had already called its employees back to the office full time in June last year, although it relaxed those requirements during periods when coronavirus cases surged, sources familiar with the matter said. The new guidelines will allow employees to enter the company's Americas offices regardless of vaccination status, except in New York City and Lima.
30th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Coronavirus vaccine: 90% student third-jab rate needed for Hong Kong secondary schools to resume full-day, in-person classes

Article reports that Hong Kong secondary schools will only be allowed to conduct full-day classes on campus if 90 per cent of their students have been triple-vaccinated against Covid-19, with education authorities tightening the existing two-jab requirement. The same threshold also applies to secondary and primary school students from October if they hope to take part in extracurricular and mask-off activities such as music and sports, according to a letter from the Education Bureau to the sector on Tuesday. “We encourage staff and students to get vaccinated as far as possible to protect themselves and others, if they are suitable for vaccination,” it wrote. “[We] also demand that schools actively reach out to those who have yet to get vaccinated to understand their concerns and difficulties, and encourage them to get the jabs.”
30th Aug 2022 - The Star Online

Low vaccine booster rates are now a key factor in COVID-19 deaths – and racial disparities in booster rates persist

Article reports that more than 450 people are dying of COVID-19 in the U.S. each day as of late August 2022. When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, public officials, community organizations and policymakers mobilized to get shots into arms. These efforts included significant investments in making vaccines accessible to Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native populations. These groups experienced exceptionally high COVID-19 death rates early in the pandemic and had low initial vaccine rates. The efforts worked. As of August 2022, vaccination rates for the primary series – or required initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines – for Black and Hispanic people exceeded those of white Americans.
30th Aug 2022 - The Conversation

COVAX to send Mexico 10 mln COVID shots by Sept. 30, says official

The COVAX vaccine program will send 10 million doses of PfizerBioNTech COVID-19 shots for children to Mexico by the end of September, a senior Mexican official announced Tuesday. The confirmed dates for the shots' delivery comes a week after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he would complain to the United Nations about the delayed shipment of vaccines the government had requested
30th Aug 2022 - Reuters Canada

U.S. to suspend free COVID-19 test orders next week

Starting next week, Americans will no longer be able to order free at-home COVID-19 tests from a website set up by the U.S. government due to limited supply arising from a lack of congressional funding. The COVIDTests.gov website, set up during the Omicron variant record surge in cases, helped U.S. households secure COVID-19 tests at no cost. President Joe Biden in January pledged to procure 1 billion free tests for Americans, including 500 million available through the website. However, ordering through the program will be suspended on Sept. 2.
30th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Can You Trust That Covid Test Result? What Five Tests in 24 Hours Taught Me

Testing discrepancies appear to be increasingly common with Omicron and its subvariants, so some common sense comes in handy. If you’re living with people with Covid-19 and feel symptoms develop, you’re likely developing Covid-19. So even if your tests say otherwise, stay home. For rapid antigen tests, serial testing is the name of the game. Test every day or every other day for up to a week if you can. Once you get a positive you can be confident in it, even if it’s a faint line.
29th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

How Quickly Can You Get Infected With Omicron After An Exposure?

Early in the pandemic, an exposure to COVID meant waiting anxiously for many days to see if you were infected. Now, the window is getting smaller and smaller, according to a new review published in the journal JAMA Network Open. Researchers analyzed 141 studies to determine how COVID’s incubation period ― the time from when you get infected to when you start showing symptoms ― has changed since March 2020. The study, which was conducted by scientists in Beijing, found that with every new variant, COVID’s incubation time has decreased significantly. Omicron, which is the current dominant variant in the United States, has the shortest time between infection and symptoms. “The incubation periods of COVID-19 caused by the Alpha, Beta, Delta and Omicron variants were 5.00, 4.50, 4.41, and 3.42 days, respectively,” the study stated.
29th Aug 2022 - Huffington Post

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Hong Kong to Expand Covid Testing Across City as Virus Cases Surge

Hong Kong imposed a select set of measures to try to protect its most vulnerable from a surging Covid-19 outbreak that is putting the city’s health care system under pressure, and forcing the government to take action. The Asian financial hub will expand testing across the city, while holding off on the full-scale closures and tighter mitigation measures it’s used in the past, and which are still frequently deployed in mainland China now. The aim is to balance the health of its people with the city’s economic needs, officials said. Those who test positive for Covid will be sent to isolation facilities with their families if any of them are at high risk and their living conditions don’t provide adequate space, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau said at the daily virus briefing
29th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

MOH to offer COVID-19 booster shot for children aged 5 to 11

Children aged 5 to 11 are now recommended to receive one booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine, from five months after the second dose of their primary vaccination series. Preparations are under way to start inoculating the group in the fourth quarter of the year, “likely when examinations in primary schools are towards the tail end or over”, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a news release on Wednesday (Aug 24) The move comes on the recommendation of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination. MOH said that the booster dose will sustain protection against severe illness and strengthen Singapore's preparation for the next infection wave.
27th Aug 2022 - Channel NewsAsia Singapore

Posted inHealth COVID-19: Ongoing vaccination reason for Nigeria’s impressive decline in deaths ― FG

The federal government has attributed what it referred to as ‘impressive decline in deaths arising from COVID-19 ‘ to the ongoing vaccination in the country. The government, however,enjoined Nigerians against complacency, saying the dreaded virus was still very much in the country, saying it mutates, making it more dangerous and deadly.
26th Aug 2022 - Vanguard Nigeria

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Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccines 73 Percent Protective in Under 5s

The Pfizer modified COVID-19 vaccine for use in children younger than 5 years was 73 percent effective in shielding them from infection during the omicron surge this spring, company data released Tuesday show. The specially formulated doses for America’s youngest children were approved for distribution in June, although the American Academy of Pediatrics says uptake has been low. Just 6 percent of children younger than 5 years had gotten immunized by mid-August, the group said. At the time of approval, the only studies supporting their use in small children were based on levels of antibodies triggered by the shots. The new data show that the Pfizer vaccine does appear to protect young children well against symptomatic COVID-19.
25th Aug 2022 - Physicians Weekly

COVID Has Set Back Childhood Immunizations Worldwide

Thanks to COVID vaccines, more people were immunized in 2021 than in any other year in history. Yet that same year, with tragic irony, more children ended up at risk of highly preventable infectious diseases than before the pandemic began. This is because of what the World Health Organization and UNICEF have described as the largest backslide in childhood vaccinations in three decades. It means that, for the second year in a row after 2019, at a time when the COVID pandemic has focused the world’s attention on the need for vaccination, the number of children missing out on basic vaccines has increased. This is particularly the case in lower-income countries. Given the enormous toll COVID is having on the world’s poorest economies, an overall decline in childhood vaccinations is not unexpected. But we can’t let these numbers slip further.
25th Aug 2022 - Scientific American

Covid-19 testing for people without symptoms to be ‘paused’

Covid-19 testing among NHS and care home staff with no symptoms in England is to be “paused” at the end of August, officials have announced. The Department of Health and Social Care said the decision to stop all “asymptomatic testing” comes as cases of the virus continue to fall. But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said nurses “must continue to have access to free testing and high-quality personal protective equipment”.
25th Aug 2022 - MSN.com

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UK Scraps Covid Tests for Asymptomatic as Cases Continue to Fall

The UK National Health Service said it will pause Covid-19 testing of staff without any outward symptoms as new infections decline and the country seeks to live with the virus. Asymptomatic staff testing, once considered a core component of the NHS’s pandemic infection prevention and control guidance, will be paused in most health-care settings, the UK Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement Wednesday. Routine asymptomatic testing will also be suspended in parts of the prison estate, some places of detention, and certain domestic abuse and homelessness settings, it said.
24th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: Booster vaccine shots for kids aged 5 to 11 in fourth quarter of the year

The Ministry of Health (MOH) added in a media release on Wednesday (24 August) that the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has also extended its authorisation of Moderna's Spikevax vaccine to very young children aged between six months and five years old. "A decision on the recommendation for vaccination of this age group is expected soon. If approved, we will time it together with the booster exercise for children aged 5 to 11, and administer them at the same centres for the convenience of parents," the ministry said in the media release. MOH will be setting up five dedicated vaccination centres across the island to administer booster doses for these children. Details will be announced at a later date.
24th Aug 2022 - Yahoo News Australia on MSN.com

Covid 19: How many lives did NZ's pandemic response save?

A new analysis has shown how New Zealand's pandemic response left it with one of the lowest rates of excess mortality in the world – sparing it the thousands of extra deaths seen even in "elimination" countries like Taiwan and Australia. But the Otago University public health experts who crunched the data say that, with the Zero-Covid era now well behind us, there's much more the Government could be doing to keep Kiwis safer. It comes as the Ministry of Health announced another 17 virus-related deaths today, and 3140 new Covid-19 cases.
24th Aug 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Singapore to drop most indoor mask requirements next week

Singapore will do away with requirements to wear masks indoors starting Aug. 29, as the country sees its COVID-19 situation stabilise further, the health minister said on Wednesday. For the first time in more than two years, people in the Southeast Asian city-state will no longer be required to wear masks indoors except on public transport and in high-risk settings like healthcare facilities. The health ministry also updated rules for non-vaccinated travellers, dropping a 7-day quarantine requirement starting next week.
24th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Parents urged to take children for their Covid jabs before school returns

Along with new shoes, pencil cases and PE kits, parents across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being advised to put the Covid-19 vaccine at the top of their children’s back-to-school to-do list. Schools across the region will start to return after the summer holidays next week, and mums and dads are being urged to make sure their child is protected against coronavirus before heading back to class.
24th Aug 2022 - Yahoo UK & Ireland

Covid-19 Booster Campaign Is Expected to Launch Next Month

The Biden administration has completed plans for a fall Covid-19 booster campaign that would launch in September with 175 million updated vaccine doses provided to states, pharmacies and other vaccination sites. The administration is procuring the doses, which drugmakers are updating to target the newest versions of the virus. The administration has also informed states, pharmacies and other entities they can begin preordering now through the end of August, according to the administration’s fall vaccination planning guide. Vaccines would be shipped immediately following an expected authorization by federal drug regulators, who still must review and sign off on the shots, and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which still must review the data and sign off on administering the shots.
24th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Scientists show close link between clinical cases of COVID-19 and viral loads in wastewater

Scientists show that there is a close association between clinical cases of COVID-19 and viral loads in wastewater, with the viral loads picking up to two days before the cases were detected. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were held during July 21 and September 21, 2021, a time when the incidence and spread of COVID-19 was prevalent. Thus, a rigorous and multi-pronged testing approach was enacted in order to limit the spread of the virus while allowing the Games to proceed. A team lead by Associate Professor Masaaki Kitajima at Hokkaido University has shown the association between SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in wastewater and cases reported at the Olympic and Paralympic Village.
22nd Aug 2022 - News Medical

Masks not needed in most situations as S'pore becomes Covid-19 resilient: Experts

After going through two Covid-19 Omicron waves without its healthcare system being overwhelmed, Singapore is ready to move to the next phase, where indoor mask wearing is no longer mandatory except on public transport and in hospitals, experts said. Singapore handled the Omicron waves successfully without having to reimpose strict measures, noted Associate Professor Alex Cook, vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. "The first Omicron wave, earlier in the year, still had some restrictions in place, and we managed to avoid the healthcare system being overwhelmed. In the second, which is ebbing away now, we managed to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system with almost no restrictions except indoor mask wearing. Thus, we are ready to move to the next phase," he said.
24th Aug 2022 - The Straits Times

Pfizer COVID shots appear 73% effective in children under 5

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was 73% effective in protecting children younger than 5 as omicron spread in the spring, the company announced Tuesday. Vaccinations for babies, toddlers and preschoolers opened in the U.S. in June after months of delay. Only about 6% of youngsters ages 6 months through 4 years had gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-August, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Health authorities authorized tot-sized vaccine doses made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech based on a study showing they were safe and produced high levels of virus-fighting antibodies. But there was only preliminary data on how that translated into effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19.
23rd Aug 2022 - The Hill

Vaccine fatigue is real. These experts say messaging on COVID boosters should be clear

COVID-19 vaccines aimed at both the original strain and Omicron variants are expected in Canada this fall. But messaging on booster doses has been mixed across the country. Some experts like virologist Angela Rasmussen recommend getting the first available booster, while others like Manitoba's Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin say his province will wait to open up fourth doses for all adults until new bivalent vaccines are approved.
23rd Aug 2022 - CBC News

New South Australian COVID-19 modelling shows next wave of cases coming in November

There have been fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 each day in South Australia A new wave is expected in November. The Health Minister says the modelling does not take into account any new variants
23rd Aug 2022 - ABC News

Struggling with brain fog after a COVID-19 infection? You're not alone, experts say

COVID-19 is linked to an increased risk of developing brain fog and dementia after an infection, according to a recent medical study. More than 596 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded globally — including nearly 10 million in Australia — and many of the long-term impacts are yet to be seen. However, the recent study helps shed light on the risk of neurological disorders after an infection. Here's what we know about brain fog and how COVID-19 affects your brain.
23rd Aug 2022 - ABC News

What do we know about covid-19 vaccines in under 5s?

It took a year for covid-19 vaccines to be tested and approved for use in children. As countries now reach out to the youngest age group, David Cox reports on the evidence for their effectiveness and deployment. On 18 June 2022, regulators in the US voted to authorise the rollout of Pfizer and Moderna’s covid-19 vaccines to children under the age of 5, meaning that the jabs will now be available to an estimated 20 million babies and toddlers.1 The decision sees the US join Argentina, Bahrain, Chile, China, Cuba, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela in offering covid-19 vaccines to the youngest age category. Regulators in Europe are predicted to follow in the coming weeks.
23rd Aug 2022 - The BMJ

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Free Covid-19 booster dose campaign picks up pace in Maharashtra: Officials

The ongoing 75-day Amrut Mahotsav campaign across Maharashtra has picked up pace, with the state seeing more than 35 lakh precautionary doses for Covid-19 being administered. In Maharashtra, over 5 crore citizens are due for precautionary doses while 1.7 crore beneficiaries are yet to take the second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. The campaign to administer the free precautionary (booster) dose was launched across the country on July 15 to encourage citizens to get vaccinated and ensure protection against Covid-19. State health authorities said they have been conducting special drives to create awareness about the importance of booster doses and encourage citizens above 18 to get the shot.
23rd Aug 2022 - The Indian Express

Omicron-specific Covid booster shots are just weeks away. Here's who will—and won't—be eligible

Newly updated Covid booster shots designed to target omicron’s BA.5 subvariant should be available within in the next three weeks. That begs an important question: Who’s going to be eligible to get them? The short answer: anyone ages 12 and up who has completed a primary vaccination series, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson tells CNBC Make It. It’s unlikely to matter whether you’ve received any other booster doses or not before, the spokesperson says — but if you’re unvaccinated, you won’t eligible for the updated formula until you complete a primary series with the existing Covid vaccines.
22nd Aug 2022 - CNBC

Brussels warns of Covid vaccination fatigue as it urges fresh drive for jabs

Brussels is warning of a vaccination “plateau” in the EU despite surging Covid-19 cases as it calls for member states to intensify campaigns ahead of the autumn and winter. EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said there was a risk that people were letting their guard down in the summer months and that health ministries need to do more to prepare for wider outbreaks despite understandable “fatigue” in populations about the pandemic.
22nd Aug 2022 - Financial Times

Paraguayans skipping booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Paraguayan health authorities have expressed their concern over a slowdown in vaccination against COVID-19, with very few booster doses applied. According to official data released Saturday, 47% of the population still lacked the first doses since the start of the campaign in March 2021, while 53% were yet to take the third injection, although they have been available since October last year. “We have a record of 1,766,882 people who have completed the six-month period since the second dose of the basic scheme and have not been vaccinated again against COVID-19,” said Héctor Castro, head of the Expanded Program of Immunization, who also pointed out that most people in that condition were aged below 40.
22nd Aug 2022 - MercoPress

UK Covid-19 Infections at Lowest Level for Two Months

Covid-19 infections in the UK have fallen to their lowest level for two months, in fresh evidence the current wave of the virus is receding, figures show. The number of patients in hospital with the virus is also continuing to drop, though health experts warned infections are likely to rise again in the autumn and winter. A new booster jab will be offered to everyone in the UK aged 50 and over from next month, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to increase protection ahead of the future waves of the virus.
22nd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Roche launches COVID-19 test to detect emerging variant of interest

Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol have developed a COVID-19 test for researchers that detects and differentiates the latest sub-variant of interest BA.2.75. The test specifically targets two of the known unique mutations in BA.2.75, which allows clear differentiation against other notable subvariants. Roche is pleased to have developed a test for researchers that provides insights into the epidemiology of BA.2.75, helping to understand its impact on public health,” said Cindy Perettie, head of molecular labs at Roche Diagnostics Solutions.
22nd Aug 2022 - Labiotech.eu

Scientists hope nasal vaccines will help halt Covid transmission

People who receive a Covid booster dose in the UK next month will be among the first in the world to receive Moderna’s dual-variant vaccine, which protects against two strains of the virus. But scientists say there is a misconception that this latest vaccine is an upgrade on what has come before. The evolution of the Covid virus to be more transmissible and better evade immunity is outpacing even innovative mRNA vaccines such as Moderna’s. The current generation of vaccines remain essential to protect us against severe illness and death. But when it comes to controlling infection, we are in a situation equivalent to running at a steady speed on a treadmill that is accelerating. Now leading scientists are calling for a renewed focus on nasal vaccines, delivered through a spray up the nose rather than an injection. They say nasal vaccines have the best chance of being able to halt Covid transmission and bring infections down to a manageable level.
22nd Aug 2022 - The Guardian

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Singapore to end most rules on masks indoors as Covid-19 wave eases

Singapore will scrap rules for wearing masks in most indoor settings as the country moves further toward casting off all its pandemic-era curbs. Masks will only be required on public transport and healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes after the easing, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his annual National Day Rally speech on Sunday. Details will be released later, he said. The masking requirement is one of the last few virus curbs in the Southeast Asian city-state after authorities lifted most rules including limits on gatherings, and testing for incoming vaccinated travelers. Outdoor masks were made optional earlier this year as part of a pivot toward a strategy of living with Covid-19.
21st Aug 2022 - The Edge Markets MY

‘Covid is over’ idea may threaten booster uptake in England, scientists warn

The prevailing idea that “Covid is over” may jeopardise England’s autumn booster programme, scientists have said, warning mixed messages about the threat of the disease could reduce the uptake of jabs. The booster campaign is set to begin on 5 September, with the new dual-variant Covid vaccine from Moderna among those to be administered. However, with England ditching other Covid measures such as mass testing, and using terms such as “post-pandemic recovery”, experts have raised concerns that many of those eligible may not come forward for their vaccination. “I think it’s very likely we will see a lower uptake for the autumn Covid-19 vaccine boosters than for the first two vaccinations,” said Azeem Majeed, a GP in west London and professor of primary care and public health at Imperial College London.
21st Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Is Thailand’s booster program losing race against fast-mutating COVID?

Thanks to constant mutations, the COVID-19 virus is still several steps ahead of vaccine developers. While researchers have managed to develop vaccines that are effective against the original strain of the new coronavirus and major variants like Delta, global mass vaccination efforts have failed to halt the raging pandemic. This is because the virus continues to evolve, spawning new mutations that evade the defences of currently available vaccines. As a result, the global infection rate remains at nearly one million confirmed COVID-19 cases per day, with thousands of deaths. Since the pandemic began, COVID-19 has claimed some 6.45 million lives across the world.
20th Aug 2022 - ThaiPBS World

WHO recommends second COVID-19 booster for highest-risk groups

The World Health Organization’s immunization advisory group Thursday recommended a second COVID-19 vaccine booster for older people, health care workers, and people at high risk of developing severe disease. The advice mirrors that given by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which have called for second boosters to be given to people aged 60 and over, as well as those with medical conditions. The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) is recommending the extra jab in older people; health care workers; pregnant people; those with conditions that cause them to be immune-compromised and both people with comorbidities that put them at higher risk for severe disease.
19th Aug 2022 - POLITICO Europe

Covid-19 testing Northern Ireland: Changes as those with symptoms no longer advised to test

Changes to Covid-19 testing for those with symptoms in Northern Ireland are set to come into force on Monday. It has been announced that most people in the general population with symptoms of coronavirus will no longer be advised to take a lateral flow test from August 22. Free lateral flow tests will no longer be available for this purpose, a move in line with the Test, Trace and Protect Transition plan published in March 2022. It aims to make testing more proportionate and targeted to protect the most vulnerable.
19th Aug 2022 - Belfast Live

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Covid-19 booster vaccine now available to those aged 55 and over

Appointments are now open for people aged 55 and over to book their next Covid-19 booster vaccine through the HSE or their own GP. This second booster vaccine will be available to those who have already received their initial vaccine course and one booster dose. According to the HSE, boosters protect against serious illness and increase Covid immunity. Those aged 55 and over can now make an appointment to receive their next dose. People can book an appointment online for a HSE vaccination clinic or check with participating GPs and pharmacies to receive their dose. People who are more than 16 weeks pregnant are also now invited to book their second booster dose at either a HSE vaccination centre or a GP/pharmacy.
18th Aug 2022 - Limerick Leader

Omicron Covid booster vaccine will be rolled out from 5 September and finish by December

More than 25 million people will get a dose of the new Covid-19 vaccine tailored against the Omicron variant by the start of December under plans announced by the NHS on Thursday. NHS England said the autumn boosters rollout would start from 5 September with care home residents the first group to be offered a jab by vaccinators who will visit their homes. From 12 September, anyone aged 75 or over, as well as health and care workers, can book in for a booster, with other age groups getting their vaccine in the coming weeks.
18th Aug 2022 - iNews

GPs call for 'urgent review' of autumn Covid booster campaign as funding cut back

GPs have called on NHS England and the Government to “urgently review” plans for the autumn Covid booster campaign amid fears they will be left paying for the programme out of their own pockets. The UK Health Security Agency announced it will offer a new Omicron-specific jab, by Moderna, to the over-50s, as part of its latest vaccination programme due to start in September. NHS England had been expected to announce details of the programme on Wednesday but it is believed to have been delayed because of a row between GPs and the Government over how it will be managed. The default contract for delivering vaccines this autumn has been cut from £12.58 per dose to £10.06, while a £10 supplement for them to give jabs in care homes and to other vulnerable groups has also been cut, the British Medical Association has said. Rising staffing and energy costs have also led to surgeries’ operating costs increasing significantly, leaving many wanting to opt-out of delivering more Covid jabs.
18th Aug 2022 - iNews

AU, others woo youths to boost COVID-19 vaccination by 70% in Africa

African Union (AU) has collaborated with Trace TV to engage the creative community in pushing its Bingwa Initiative geared at increasing COVID-19 vaccination across Africa by 70 per cent in 2023. The programme, which is also in partnership with the African Centre for Disease Control (CDC), GIZ and MasterCard, has public figures and social media influencers like The Pamilerin, Jenni Frank, Nigerian singer, Chike and comedian, Pencil, among others engaged to promote COVID-19 vaccination championed by African youths.
18th Aug 2022 - Guardian Nigeria

Viewpoint: We Cannot Afford to Surrender to COVID-19 Now

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed recommendations which I feel neither control or prevent a rapidly evolving and disabling disease, COVID-19. Many of the relaxations appeared to be timed with the opening of schools, ignoring the high rate of COVID-19 related hospitalizations, national deaths hovering just under 500 per day, and the urgent need for a reformulated vaccine, whose delivery is expected in the fall of this year. The relaxed guidelines no longer recommend those individuals exposed to COVID-19 participate in test-to-stay programs in schools. They no longer restrict the mixing of children in different classrooms, and they eliminated social distancing recommendations. In addition, there is no need to quarantine after exposure to the virus, and there are no longer recommendations for routine screening of individuals without symptoms.
17th Aug 2022 - Infection Control Today

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Experts warn Omicron vaccine booster rollout will be slowed by Covid complacency, putting vulnerable at risk

Scientists fear complacency and Covid fatigue will reduce take-up the autumn booster campaign, putting the most vulnerable at greater risk of hospitalisation and death. Those people who are over 50 or clinically vulnerable will be offered a booster jab that has been specifically designed to tackle Omicron after the regulator gave Moderna’s new vaccine the green light on Monday. But there are fears that, with many people having had Covid at least once and surviving, and a high level of pandemic fatigue, the rate of take-up will be markedly lower higher than in previous booster campaigns.
17th Aug 2022 - iNews

Covid jabs will have to be tweaked annually like flu until universal vaccine is discovered

Covid vaccines are likely to become like influenza jabs, that are tweaked every year and offered to vulnerable people every autumn, according to a leading vaccine developer. Professor Robin Shattock of Imperial College London says “there are two approaches to next generation vaccines”; the annual flu jab approach and the Holy Grail of the one-vaccine-fits-all-variants approach. “In the same way that the influenza vaccine is updated every year and given to the vulnerable population, an annual vaccine could be given for Covid as well,” said Professor Shattock, a pioneer of the same RNA vaccine technology that is used by the Moderna and Pfizer jabs.
17th Aug 2022 - iNews

WHO releases interim statement on COVID-19 vaccination for children and adolescents

The World Health Organization (WHO), with the support of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), has released an interim statement on the role of COVID-19 vaccines in children and adolescents in the context of the continuing global disparities in vaccination. In the statement, it is concluded that before considering implementing primary vaccination series in children and adolescents, attaining high coverage of primary series – and booster doses as needed – in highest and high-priority-use groups must be pursued. WHO refers to the global inequity in vaccine rollout, with only 25% of older populations having received a complete primary series of COVID-19 vaccines in lower income countries – the very places where healthcare access is more limited.
17th Aug 2022 - PMLiVE

A complicated fall vaccine campaign: Updated Covid boosters, flu shots, and how to time the jabs

For the health officials who steer vaccination campaigns, it’s going to be a complicated fall. The U.S. plan to roll out updated Covid-19 boosters will not only coincide with the logistical tangle of the regular flu shot drive, but will also face questions about when people should get the new shots to provide themselves with the best protection through our third Covid winter. It’s a balancing act that health officials run into every year with flu. Vaccinating tens of millions of people takes weeks. People also need a few weeks after their shot for their immune systems to be fully primed. And yet, vaccinators don’t want to put shots in arms too early, either.
16th Aug 2022 - STAT News

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What, Exactly, Is 'Paxlovid Mouth,' and How Do You Get Rid of It?

The 56-year-old in Montclair, N.J., was looking for a reprieve from a persistent residual taste—“like your mouth is just clenched around a grapefruit rind”—that came after she took Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral drug to treat Covid-19. Ms. Witten is one of many people who have scouted remedies for what is informally known as Paxlovid mouth, a taste that can linger for as long as you take the drug. Patients who have taken Paxlovid have described it as sun-baked trash-bag liquid, a mouthful of dirty pennies and rotten soymilk. They have tried to erase the taste with salves from cinnamon to milk to pineapple. They are also trading strategies online. A Pfizer spokesperson acknowledged the side effect, called dysgeusia, and pointed to a study that found the symptom occurred 5.6% of the time people took the drug. The study was funded by Pfizer and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The company said most patients’ dysgeusia symptoms were mild.
17th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Public urged to get next-generation Covid vaccine

All over-50s are likely to be offered an updated coronavirus vaccine in a booster campaign due to begin within a month. Yesterday Britain became the first country to approve a jab that directly targets the Omicron strain of the virus, and officials are confident of having tens of millions of doses of next-generation vaccines ready for autumn. Half the population is being urged to have a fourth vaccination to reduce the risk of illness over winter and ease pressure on the NHS.
16th Aug 2022 - The Times

Bharat Biotech says Phase 3 trial over, intranasal vaccine safe

Bharat Biotech has submitted data from Phase 3 clinical trials of BBV154, its intranasal Covid vaccine candidate, to the drug regulator. It has sought approval both as a primary two-dose vaccine, and a heterologous booster shot. A heterologous booster implies that the third or subsequent dose of the vaccine is different from its primary dose. Typically, the primary dose comprises two shots. The Hyderabad-based company claimed that BBV154, which is stable at 2-8 degrees Celsius, is proven to be safe, well-tolerated and immunogenic in the subjects under controlled clinical trials. “Being an intranasal vaccine, BBV154 may produce local antibodies in the upper respiratory tract. These may provide the potential to reduce infection and transmission. Further studies are being planned,” the company noted on Monday.
16th Aug 2022 - Business Standard

Covid-19: Southampton vaccine trial calls for pregnant women

A national Covid-19 vaccine trial is now calling for pregnant women from across the South. The study, taking place at University Hospital Southampton, will start to recruit participants later this month. It will look into the immune response to vaccination at different dose intervals - either four to six weeks or eight to 12 weeks. Participants will need to be between 18 and 44-years-old and 13 to 34 weeks pregnant on the day of vaccination. Women who have had previous vaccinations can still take part as the trial focuses on boosters, the size of the dose and which vaccine works best. The study, led by St George's, University of London, is backed by £7.5 million of government funding.
16th Aug 2022 - BBC News

Quebec kicks off new COVID-19 vaccination campaign, starting with long-term care homes

On Monday, Quebec started offering fifth doses of COVID-19 vaccine to residents of long-term care homes and private seniors' residences. The Health Ministry said it launched the new vaccine campaign for at-risk people because it expects infections to rise in the fall after schools reopen. It said the recommended interval between booster doses is at least five months. Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau has said the government will be intensifying its message around vaccination in the coming weeks, as the health system prepares for another COVID-19 wave. He has also said Quebecers should continue wearing masks in crowded places and at the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.
16th Aug 2022 - CBC.ca

Covid-19: Masks no longer needed in clinical settings in Wales

THE use of masks in clinical settings in Wales is no longer mandatory as of today. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) says the change comes amid a reduction in the rates of Covid-19 infections over recent weeks. It adds however that the position will be reviewed once more should numbers begin to rise again in Wales.
16th Aug 2022 - Rhyl Journal

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Rollout of Covid-19 booster vaccines for over-60s and pregnant women begins

Pregnant women and people over 60 will begin receiving their second booster vaccination against Covid-19 from today. The Health Service Executive has urged those eligible to get the vaccine. Since last week, people who are over 60 and women who are pregnant have been able to book their appointments through the HSE. The injections are being administered at vaccination centres and at participating pharmacies around the country. HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has urged those eligible to take up the offer.
15th Aug 2022 - RTE Online

‘Living with Covid’ should be countered by containing the virus once and for all

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines for the Covid pandemic, heralding “a new strategy [that] pivots from wide approach to a focus on the most vulnerable”. Coincident with the opening of schools across the country, relaxation of some restrictions, such as quarantining and physical distancing, will help keep children in school, a cardinal objective. Sadly, the CDC missed an opportunity to help protect seniors and highly vulnerable Americans.
15th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Scotland's winter Covid vaccine programme kicks off - list of people eligible

Letters inviting people for a Covid-19 winter booster jab will be landing on doorsteps this week. Those aged 65 and over and frontline health and social care staff will be first in line to receive appointment times in the post. The Scottish Government said the move is to protect the most vulnerable from the virus, and to ease the pressure on hospitals ahead of any potential surges in infections over the winter period.
15th Aug 2022 - Daily Record

Saliva-based COVID-19 test approved by Health Canada could reduce discomfort of nasal swab

Early during the pandemic, Neil Saxvy's son Matthew broke his arm and had to go to the hospital. Because of COVID-19, he needed a PCR test, which meant an eye-watering swab high up in his nostrils. The young boy did not enjoy the experience. "Ever since then he's wanted nothing to do with the test," Saxvy said. It's made testing — which occurs pretty regularly for kids in school settings over the course of years-long pandemic — more of a hassle. But on Saturday, the entire Saxvy family, including wife Anita and daughter Leah, did a much less invasive PCR test in Toronto. This one involved spitting into a cup and feeding their saliva into a machine.
15th Aug 2022 - CBC.ca

BCG Vaccine for Tuberculosis Offers Covid-19 Protection, Study Suggests

A widely used tuberculosis vaccine protected people with Type 1 diabetes from Covid-19, according to a Massachusetts General Hospital study published Monday that further illustrates the potential immune-enhancing powers of the shot, called BCG. The vaccine, a weakened version of the tuberculosis bacterium that infects cows, is given more than 100 million times a year around the globe to infants, but it isn’t part of the standard vaccination program in the U.S. Doctors have long suspected it has additional effects beyond tuberculosis prevention. When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, the Mass General team was already studying whether BCG could treat Type 1 diabetes by helping eliminate harmful immune cells that attack the pancreas.
15th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Why is COVID-19 more severe in people older than 50?

The adaptive immune system mounts pathogen-specific humoral and cellular responses to combat infections. Upon identification of a new virus, B- and T-cells will elicit specific responses to the infection. A new PNAS journal study reports that the reduced efficiency of the immune response against the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) could be due to the reduced diversity of both B- and T-cells. This reduction in T-cell diversity was observed only in subjects over 50 years of age who are at an increased risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) morbidity and mortality.
15th Aug 2022 - News-Medical.Net

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Covid reinfections: How likely are you to catch coronavirus again?

More than two years on from the first Covid case in the UK, millions of Britons have caught the virus and some have had it multiple times. Around one in 25 people in England are now testing positive for the virus,
12th Aug 2022 - The Independent

Indoor mask rule stays as Covid-19 cases remain high even though peak of current wave has passed

There are no plans for now to relax Covid-19 rules, including the requirement that people wear a mask indoors, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). In response to queries, MOH on Thursday (Aug 11) said existing safe management measures will continue to stay in place, as the number of cases remain high. This is even as the latest wave of infections has passed its peak. An MOH spokesman said: "Cases are falling but remain high and pose risks. The Ministry of Health will continue to calibrate measures depending on the situation." On Thursday, 7,776 new Covid-19 cases were reported, down from a high of 16,870 on July 13, in cases largely fuelled by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.
12th Aug 2022 - The Straits Times

'Eligibility criteria' required for free Covid-19 Lateral Flow Kits as Manx care to stop PCR tests

The Isle of Man is changing its Covid-19 testing providers and policies. From 31 August Manx Care will no longer deliver PCR testing as part of the Island's approach to "living with the virus". People may still get a PCR test, for example if needed for travel, through private providers on Island. In addition, from 15 August Lateral Flow Tests will no longer be free for all. From Monday people will also no longer be required to perform a Lateral Flow Test before entering a health and social care setting. This includes patients attending day clinics, visitors to Noble's Hospital and visitors to residential or care homes operated by Manx Care.
12th Aug 2022 - ITV News

Long COVID risk up for unvaccinated children; at-home antibody test shows promise

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Unvaccinated children have higher long COVID risk A small study is adding to evidence that children can develop long COVID-19 even if the virus did not make them seriously ill. Researchers in Texas who tracked 1,813 children infected with the virus between October 2020 and May 2022 - during the waves of the Delta and Omicron coronavirus variants - found that 4.5% had symptoms for up to 12 weeks and 3.3% had symptoms for longer than 12 weeks
12th Aug 2022 - Reuters

FDA says 3 negative rapid tests needed for asymptomatic Covid cases

The Food and Drug Administration now recommends that people who have been exposed to the coronavirus should have three negative at-home tests, even if they don’t have symptoms. The FDA made the change Thursday based on evidence that people with an omicron infection — but who are asymptomatic — need multiple negative rapid antigen tests over a number of days to be sure they don’t have Covid. Rapid at-home tests are more likely to give a false negative result in asymptomatic cases. “If repeat testing is not performed after a negative result, an infection may be missed and people may unknowingly spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others, especially if they are not experiencing symptoms,” the FDA tweeted.
12th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

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Universal vaccine needed to tackle future Covid waves, study suggests

A universal Covid jab is “urgently needed,” scientists have warned after a study confirmed prior infection or vaccination offers only limited protection against new variants.
11th Aug 2022 - The Independent

Moderna CEO says Covid vaccines will evolve like 'an iPhone'

Forget taking two to three Covid shots a year. Moderna hopes to roll out a single-dose annual booster to cover the coronavirus, the flu and another common respiratory virus within the next five years. As Covid-19 continues to mutate, Moderna will need to keep updating the vaccines that turned it into a global household name while trying to make it more convenient for consumers, CEO Stéphane Bancel said in an interview with CNN Business Wednesday. He estimated a timeline of "three to five years" for the new combined product, and likened the development of the life-saving jab to that of a smartphone. "You don't get the amazing camera, amazing everything the first time you get an iPhone, but you get a lot of things," he said. "A lot of us buy a new iPhone every September, and you get new apps and you get refreshed apps. And that's exactly the same idea, which is you'll get Covid and flu and RSV [respiratory syncytial virus] in your single dose."
11th Aug 2022 - CNN

Let's talk about Covid-19 boosters

There's been a lot of talk about Covid-19 booster shots in recent weeks. It makes sense -- with colder months just around the corner in the northern hemisphere, public health authorities across the world are getting ready for a potential spike in coronavirus cases. Getting people at risk of severe disease boosted is a big part of the plan. But guidance on who, when and how depends largely on who you ask. Let's start with the basics: All adults should have had their first booster by now. The data shows clearly that an extra shot of an mRNA vaccine increases protection, including against severe disease. "If you are 18 and older and have not yet had any vaccines beyond your primary vaccination, you should get your booster now," said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
11th Aug 2022 - CNN

COVID rebound is surprisingly common — even without Paxlovid

After the game-changing COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid began to be used in late 2021, researchers noticed a perplexing trend. In some people taking the drug, symptoms and detectable virus vanish, only to mysteriously return days later. After months of grasping at straws, scientists are beginning to make some headway in understanding ‘Paxlovid rebound’. Two recent studies suggest that it is surprisingly common for SARS-CoV-2 to return in untreated cases of COVID-191, while hinting that the virus’s comeback is fiercer and more common in people who take Paxlovid
11th Aug 2022 - Nature.com

Mask mandates return in New Delhi as COVID-19 cases rise

The Indian capital reintroduced public mask mandates on Thursday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. The New Delhi government reinstituted a fine of 500 rupees ($6) for anyone caught not wearing a mask or face covering in public. India's Health Ministry said 16,299 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours nationwide, with a positivity rate of 4.58%. Nearly 2,150 infections were reported in New Delhi. On Wednesday, New Delhi reported eight deaths due to the coronavirus, the highest in nearly six months. People in most parts of the country began discarding face masks as infections dropped following two devastating earlier waves of COVID-19. New Delhi’s top elected official, Arvind Kejriwal, said that COVID-19 cases were on the rise but there was no need to panic because most of the new cases were mild.
11th Aug 2022 - The Independent

New Covid vaccines targeted at Omicron may not be ready for autumn boosters

Next-generation Covid vaccines are in doubt for the autumn boosters campaign, as ministers and the NHS wait for regulators to sign off on new jabs targeted at the Omicron variant. Studies suggest that the new versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may reduce transmission of Covid-19 and prove more effective in preventing hospitalisation. But the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is still considering whether to approve jabs, and some insiders fear it may be too slow for the autumn vaccine rollout.
11th Aug 2022 - iNews

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Australian state to hand out free masks to curb COVID-19 transmission

Authorities of the Australian state of Victoria have announced that free masks will be handed out to the community to curb the COVID-19 transmission. More than 3 million free N95 and KN95 masks would be given to the community through state-run testing sites and community health services across the state the next four to six weeks, said the announcement of the Victorian government on Tuesday. Every person that presents for either a free rapid antigen or PCR test will receive one box of 10 N95 masks, along with instructions on how best to wear them to reduce transmission.
11th Aug 2022 - Xinhua

Govt nod to Corbevax as precaution dose for adults vaccinated with Covaxin, Covishield

This means that those who have received Covishield or Covaxin as their first or second dose can take Corbevax as the third booster shot, officials said. According to the protocol until now, the third dose had to be the same vaccine that was used for the first and second doses.
11th Aug 2022 - The Indian Express

Germany likely to impose mask mandate if Covid-19 spreads in winter

Germany is likely to introduce an indoor mask mandate if there is a significant increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 in the upcoming autumn and winter months, health ministers said at a meeting, though they differed over possible exemptions. The federal and state health ministers discussed draft legislation aiming to update regulations for dealing with the pandemic, dpa news agency reported. "It is clear that mandatory masks indoors should be the rule in the event of a tense pandemic situation," said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. Last week, Lauterbach and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann presented new coronavirus measures that would go into effect in the autumn.
10th Aug 2022 - Business Standard

People vaccinated against Covid share common symptom after testing positive

While it may be widely known that common symptoms of Covid include fatigue, a sore throat, and headaches, there is another widespread symptom being cited among sufferers. According to data gathered by the ZOE Health Study app, diarrhoea is a common symptom of Covid for vaccinated Britons. “It usually lasts for an average of two to three days, but can last up to seven days in adults,” the ZOE team said. The data found this symptom has become less prevalent with each variant, as nearly a third of adults aged over 35 reported having diarrhoea during the Alpha wave, while just one in five said they experienced it during the Omicron and Delta waves. The people who experienced it during the latter two waves had been vaccinated either twice or had also received their booster jab.
10th Aug 2022 - The Independent

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COVID in California: Vaccines, masks cut coronavirus transmission by 99.9% in classrooms, study finds

The alarming spread of omicron subvariants has again put a spotlight on how well COVID-19 rapid antigen tests work at this stage in the pandemic. Many ultra-wealthy people who left San Francisco in the early days of the pandemic decamped to ritzy ski towns. Coronavirus case rates and positive tests rates are steadily declining in California and the Bay Area, signaling that the region is finally on the downside of this summer’s record-long COVID-19 surge
9th Aug 2022 - San Francisco Chronicle

Australia retires CovidSafe contact-tracing app that was barely used

Australia’s CovidSafe app is being decommissioned because it is no longer being used for Covid-19 contact tracing. The app cost around $75,000 a month to run and was touted by former prime minister Scott Morrison as an important measure on par with wearing sunscreen. It was barely used in the Delta and Omicron outbreaks despite more than 7 million Australians downloading it to help contact tracers, and since launching in April 2020, just 17 “close contacts” in New South Wales were found directly through the app that were not otherwise identified through manual contact-tracing methods.
10th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Five Thoughts on the State of COVID-19 Vaccination and the Road Ahead

This is a confusing time in the public health emergency. Americans are thinking less about COVID-19 on a daily basis and many are eager to move on. But COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, as evidenced by quick spread of the new variant, and it will continue to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future. Getting more Americans vaccinated against the virus will help to move us out of the pandemic stage. We can do this by sharing the right message and using trusted messengers on multiple platforms. This is the focus of the AHA’s vaccine confidence initiative, supported by $3 million in grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One of us is president of a hospital in North Carolina and has a background in family medicine and rural health. The other is chief marketing and experience officer for a health system in Louisiana. At the AHA Leadership Summit last month we offered our thoughts on the vaccine and the road ahead. Here are five highlights:
9th Aug 2022 - American Hospital Association

Here's How Hong Kong Health Code System for Travelers Will Work

Hong Kong will introduce a tiered health-code system reminiscent of what’s used in mainland China to facilitate a reduction in its deeply unpopular mandatory hotel quarantine. The new rules, which come into effect on Friday, will mean arrivals at Hong Kong’s international airport must spend three days in hotel quarantine -- down from seven. If they don’t test positive for Covid, they will then undergo four days of health monitoring, underpinned by a yellow health code that restricts entry into a raft of high-risk places. Meanwhile, anyone infected with the virus will receive a red code that means they must isolate.
9th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

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Japan to offer omicron COVID shots to people vaccinated at least twice

New COVID-19 vaccines considered effective against the omicron variant will be available to all people who have completed at least two inoculations from as early as mid-October, the government said Monday. The bivalent vaccines, so named for their combination of ingredients deriving from existing COVID-19 shots and from omicron's BA.1 subvariant, have been reported to provide some increase in neutralizing antibodies against the BA.5 subtype currently prevalent across the country. The plan, which has received approval from a health ministry panel, comes at a time when Japan is experiencing a seventh wave of infections fueled by the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant, with its daily cases hitting an all-time high of about 250,000 last Wednesday.
8th Aug 2022 - The Japan Times

Study: COVID campus vaccine mandates saved lives. Are they still in place?

A new study of coronavirus vaccine mandates for students at U.S. colleges and universities suggests the mandates saved about 7,300 lives last fall. "I thought the study that came out (last month) was telling," said Daniel Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities, which represents all 15 public universities in Michigan. "Likely those policies, collectively, saved thousands of lives in this country ... When you put it in those terms, that's significant." A Free Press spot check showed that many Michigan colleges and universities plan to keep their vaccine policies in place for the new school year.
8th Aug 2022 - Detroit Free Press

COVID-19 Vaccines Induce Better Long-Term Immunity than Infection

To answer these questions, Shane Crotty and his group at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology performed a head-to-head comparison of four currently used COVID-19 vaccines that target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein: Pfizer/BioNtech (mRNA), Moderna (mRNA), Janssen/J&J (adenovirus), and Novavax (recombinant protein). In a six-month longitudinal study published in Cell, the researchers examined blood samples from vaccinated and recently infected people for SARS-CoV-2 spike-specific immune responses.
8th Aug 2022 - The Scientist

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CDC: 85% of Americans Should Be Wearing a Mask Indoors or Considering It

Nearly 85% of Americans should be wearing a mask while indoors in public spaces or considering the measure, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 55% of the U.S. lives in counties that are considered a “high” COVID-19 community level by the CDC. Under the agency’s guidance, those people should be wearing a mask while inside. More than 29% of the country lives in counties considered a “medium” level where they should consider the measure based on their risk of severe COVID-19. The percentage is a slight decrease over the previous week, when nearly 88% of the population was in a high or medium community level.
7th Aug 2022 - U.S. News & World Report

New Zealand allowed pharmacists to dispense COVID-19 antivirals and 'everyone realised it was a win'

There are calls for awareness of COVID antivirals and easier access to the treatments in Australia. Pharmacy experts suggest looking to New Zealand where the drugs are available without a prescription. As well as reducing the severity of disease, emerging research suggests the medications can help reduce the risk of long COVID
7th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Covid in Schools: Masks, Shots Helped Protect College Students from Infection

Vaccinated and masked college students had virtually no chance of catching Covid-19 in the classroom last fall, according to a sweeping study of 33,000 Boston University students that bolsters standard prevention measures. The researchers screened the college’s health records to find nine sets of students who developed Covid at about the same time, were in class together without social distancing and had no known contact outside school, suggesting that they might have transmitted it in the classroom. However, genome analysis of coronavirus samples from the groups showed that all of them more likely were infected in other places.
6th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

UK Covid-19 infections fall for second week in a row

Covid-19 infections in the UK have fallen for the second week in a row, in a fresh sign that the current wave of the virus has peaked, new figures show. The number of patients in hospital with the virus is also on a clear downwards trend. A total of 2.6 million people in private households are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to July 25/26, down 19% from 3.2 million in the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Infections have now dropped by more than a million in the space of a fortnight.
5th Aug 2022 - The Independent

U.S. administers over 7300 Novavax vaccine doses - CDC

The United States has administered more than 7,300 doses of Novavax Inc's COVID-19 shot, which health officials hope will convince more people to opt for vaccinations as it is based on a technology that has been in use for decades. Over 330,000 doses of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed in the United States, and more than 2,300 people have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated on Thursday.
5th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Top covid symptom is ‘sore throat’, says latest data

Covid-19 infections in the UK have jumped by around 7 per cent, with the ongoing rise still driven by the newest Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5. Hospital numbers are also continuing to increase, with early signs of a rise in intensive care admissions among older age groups. A total of 3.8 million people in private households are estimated to have had in the week up to 14 July, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures. The previous week there were around 3.3 million cases across the UK. That is the highest estimate for total infections since late April, but is still some way below the record high of 4.9 million seen at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.
5th Aug 2022 - The Independent

Even Mild Covid-19 May Cause Lasting Brain Fog

In previous installments of this series, we looked at new research that suggests even mild SARS-CoV-2 infection can impair cognitive function. The first step in this chain of events happens when the virus sets off an intense inflammatory response that eventually reaches the brain. Once there, inflammation triggers reactivity of microglial cells —the resident immune cells of the central nervous system— which produce yet more inflammation and interfere with the normal functioning of important cells, including oligodendrocytes and neural precursor cells (Figure 1). Schematic of the pathway through which general inflammation causes cognitive dysfunction. But given that all of this happens off the back of inflammation, which we experience during any number of infections or injuries, wouldn’t we expect to see something similar unfold in other viral diseases? As part of their research, Fernández-Castañeda et al. asked themselves this same question. In the search for an answer, they turned to influenza. Like Covid-19, the flu has also been associated with cognitive and neurological issues. And like SARS-CoV-2, influenza is rarely neuroinvasive — even though both viruses can infect the brain directly, as can many other viruses, it seems to happen only infrequently. It could be, then, that influenza causes cognitive issues through a similar mechanism as Covid.
5th Aug 2022 - Forbes

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Most kids in northeastern Ontario have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19

"So certainly we do have some work to do," said Kendra Brunet, the manager of COVID response for the Porcupine Health Unit. "But over the next few weeks we have several child and youth friendly clinics set up, as well as outdoor clinics so that we can get those vaccine rates up for the return to school," she said. Nastassia McNair, the manager of COVID planning for Public Health Sudbury and Districts, says based on the lower uptake for children, she'll be happy if they hit 30 or 40 per cent vaccine coverage for the newly eligible six months to five-years old group.
4th Aug 2022 - CBC.ca

Ventilation key to battling COVID-19, experts say, urging Australia to do more

Tasmanian schools are keeping windows and doors open as much as they can, despite winter weather. Indoor air quality expert Professor Lidia Morawska says consideration of ventilation is patchy across Australia. There are calls for mandated standards for indoor air quality
4th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Second Covid-19 vaccine boosters, explained

Federal officials said that they weren’t yet changing the eligibility guidelines for a fourth dose. Currently, they’re recommended only for people over the age of 50 and people who are immunocompromised. Everyone else will likely have to wait until the fall to get the go-ahead from regulators. Some experts, though, think it might be worth getting a second booster now if you face a high risk of Covid-19 exposure or if your previous dose was ages ago. The rise of BA.5 has spooked many of them, despite evidence the virus causes less severe disease now than at any other point during the pandemic. And despite the surge in cases, death trends have hardly moved, indicating that the previous crop of vaccines is still doing its main job of preventing severe illness for most people.
4th Aug 2022 - Vox.com

Covid has settled into a persistent pattern — and remains damaging. It may not change anytime soon

Our tussle with Covid-19 — after a harrowing introduction and then wave upon wave of infections — seems to have settled into a persistent pattern. It may stay that way for a while. While Covid is not nearly the threat it once was, transmission of the coronavirus remains at sky-high levels. At the same time, the death rate has dropped thanks to vaccinations and improved treatments, and the overwhelming majority of people in the United States have developed some level of protection, from shots, a previous infection, or some combination of the two. In some ways, Covid is increasingly looking like other respiratory infections — mild in many people, but sometimes severe in certain high-risk populations.
4th Aug 2022 - STAT News

People vaccinated against Covid share common symptom after testing positive

“It usually lasts for an average of two to three days, but can last up to seven days in adults,” the ZOE team said. The data found this symptom has become less prevalent with each variant, as nearly a third of adults aged over 35 reported having diarrhoea during the Alpha wave, while just one in five said they experienced it during the Omicron and Delta waves. The people who experienced it during the latter two waves had been vaccinated either twice or had also received their booster jab.
4th Aug 2022 - The Independent

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Long COVID comes in three forms: study

New research from scientists from King’s College London supports the idea that there are three different types of long COVID, each with their own symptoms. Researchers studied over 1,000 people suffering from post-COVID syndrome and found that there are three different subtypes of the condition. The first subtype consisted of respiratory symptoms, the second neurologic and third autoimmune.
4th Aug 2022 - The Hill

Evidence that university and college vaccine mandates reduce community COVID-19 cases

A new study co-authored by Michigan State University economics professor Scott Imberman, Ph.D., and doctoral student Wenjia Cao, found that university vaccine mandates were effective in reducing new COVID-19 cases in communities. Their research, "The Effect of Vaccine Mandates on Disease Spread: Evidence from College COVID-19 Mandates," will be published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, and is the first of its kind to provide direct evidence of the positive impact university and college vaccine mandates have had on community health outcomes. "While there is evidence that vaccines improve health outcomes for individuals, our analysis showed that college- and university-imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates also benefited the community beyond the campus," Dr. Imberman said.
3rd Aug 2022 - Medical Xpress

Poland to offer fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to adults in September

Poland will allow a furth dose of coronavirus vaccine to be received by people aged over 18 in September, the health minister has announced. Since July 22, a second booster dose has been available for people in the 60-70 age group and an additional vaccination for people aged over 12 years with immune deficiency. Before, the fourth dose has been offered to everybody over 80.
3rd Aug 2022 - PAP.pl

Germany announces new coronavirus measures for fall, winter

The German government on Wednesday said basic coronavirus requirements would remain in place during the coming fall and winter, when experts expect COVID-19 cases to rise again as people spend more time indoors. Face masks and presenting proof of a negative coronavirus test will be mandatory from October until early April at hospitals, nursing homes and similar institutions with vulnerable people. Passengers on airplanes and making long-distance trips by train and bus also will have to wear masks during that period, as they do now.
3rd Aug 2022 - ABC News

How much do face masks protect you against COVID-19?

Health authorities no longer force people in Australia to wear face masks except in certain situations, but previous studies show how effective wearing a mask can be in stopping you from getting COVID-19. From around February this year, most states and territories gradually removed requirements for people to wear face masks except in limited circumstances. Current mandates vary slightly across jurisdictions but masks are generally still required while travelling on public transport and planes, and when in hospitals and aged care centres. The requirement for people to wear masks in airport terminals was removed after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) said in June it was no longer appropriate. The decision whether or not to wear a mask in most public indoor spaces such as shopping centres and in offices is now down to individual choice.
3rd Aug 2022 - SBS News

Tokyo is giving out free Covid-19 self-test kits

Article reports that with the current surge in Covid-19 infections across Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is now providing free rapid antigen self-test kits to those with Covid-19 symptoms. This new initiative is exclusive to Tokyoites in their 20s, born between August 2 1992 and August 1 2002.
3rd Aug 2022 - Time Out

The curious case of the Covid-19 rebound

If we've learned anything over the past two and a half years, it's that Covid-19 is one strange disease. The latest case in point: the coronavirus rebound. The condition grabbed international attention last week when US President Joe Biden tested positive for the virus six days after testing negative following his first bout of the illness. The White House said Biden, who is back in isolation, was experiencing a bit of a "loose cough" but did not have a fever and his lungs were "clear." The President tested positive again after being treated with the antiviral Paxlovid. White House officials had previously suggested a rebound case of Covid was unlikely, based on reports of cases around the country, but Biden's doctors continued to monitor his health and test him.
3rd Aug 2022 - CNN

Paxlovid rebound happens, though why and to whom are still a mystery

As an emergency department physician in New York, I often field calls about medical issues from family members, friends, and even friends of friends. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the number of these calls has dramatically increased. The latest slew of these, about Paxlovid and rebound Covid-19 — which President Biden now apparently has — has revealed the confusion surrounding this phenomenon for me, my physician colleagues, and at least one Nobel laureate. I recently got a call from my friend Joachim Frank, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017, about his rebound Covid after doing what he was supposed to do: taking Paxlovid as his doctor had prescribed.
2nd Aug 2022 - STAT News

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Hong Kong Experts Back Covid Shots Starting at Six Months of Age

A Hong Kong panel of health advisers said children as young as six months old should be offered Covid-19 vaccines from BioNTech SE and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. in an effort to protect the city’s youngest residents, according to Lau Yu-lung, the chairman of the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Disease. The committee unanimously approved both Sinovac and BioNTech vaccines for children aged six months and above, Lau told reporters on Monday evening. “Both vaccines are safe and induces effective immunity, we all agreed on this,” he said.
2nd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Analysis | What Experts Know About 'Long Covid' and Who Gets It

Most people who suffer from Covid-19 fully recover. Millions of others find complete healing to be frustratingly elusive, in what’s often referred to as long Covid. Symptoms range from pulmonary, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal or neurological problems to cognitive issues such as so-called brain fog. No single explanation, diagnosis or treatment can be applied to them. Colloquially known as long-haulers, these patients reflect the pandemic’s lasting burden on society and the economy.
2nd Aug 2022 - The Washington Post

People vaccinated against Covid share common symptom after testing positive

While it may be widely known that common symptoms of Covid include fatigue, a sore throat, and headaches, there is another widespread symptom being cited among sufferers. According to data gathered by the ZOE Health Study app, diarrhoea is a common symptom of Covid for vaccinated Britons. Data shows that there was a rise in people reporting this symptom in January 2022, and that some of this was related to the Omicron variant of Covid-19. However, the ZOE team pointed out that there seemed to be a “wave of other non-Covid tummy bugs going around too”. The team said that diarrhoea can be an early symptom of the virus, starting on the first day of infection and getting worse throughout the week.
2nd Aug 2022 - The Independent

B.C. to begin vaccinating kids under five against COVID-19 on Tuesday

When COVID-19 vaccinations open for young children on Tuesday, Tarin Springer and her 18-month-old son Flynn will be among the first in line. “We want him to be protected and help protect the community,” Springer told Global News. “We’ve had really good experiences, all of us being vaccinated, and we’ve been lucky not to get COVID so far. … We just want him to have the best protection possible.”
2nd Aug 2022 - Global News

Testing negative to COVID-19 but still have symptoms? Here's what you need to know

You have the telltale signs of COVID — fever, headache, dry cough and exhaustion — but your rapid antigen test is returning a negative result. You're not alone. So, if you're testing negative on a RAT but still have symptoms, or if you need to record a positive RAT test result — here's a refresh on what to do.
2nd Aug 2022 - ABC News

Covid-19: is omicron less lethal than delta?

Soon after the omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern was first reported to the World Health Organization on 24 November 2021, preliminary observational studies in South Africa suggested this highly transmissible variant was associated with lower hospital admission and mortality rates in people with covid-19 infection.1 However, given omicron’s increased propensity to cause reinfections and vaccine breakthrough,23 it was unclear if this effect was due to previous immunity in the population or an inherent property of the genetically divergent variant. Subsequent analyses further supported a lower risk of severe outcomes in infections with omicron compared with delta, although these data were limited to all cause deaths within 28 days of diagnosis. Additionally, many public health measures previously enacted to curb SARS-CoV-2 transmission were being relaxed in early 2022, potentially resulting in more infections in relatively low risk populations. These limitations complicated efforts to assess the true risk of severe disease and mortality associated with omicron infection.
2nd Aug 2022 - The BMJ

Apple drops mask requirements for most of its corporate workers - The Verge

Apple Inc is dropping its mask mandate for corporate employees at most locations, the Verge reported on Monday, citing an internal memo. This comes even as COVID-19 infections in the United States have been on the rise with the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant accounting for more than 90% of infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2nd Aug 2022 - Reuters

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Covid warning over symptom of new strain that affects sufferers at night

An immunologist has warned the new strain of Covid-19 could be causing different symptoms – including one that emerges during the night. Omicron BA.5 is a highly-contagious subvariant prompting concern as it contributes to a fresh wave of infections across the globe, including the UK. Scientists have been finding differences with previous strains, including the ability to reinfect people within weeks of having Covid. A leading immunologist has now suggested it could be causing a new symptom among patients. “One extra symptom from BA.5 I saw this morning is night sweats,” Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin told an Irish radio station in mid-July.
1st Aug 2022 - The Independent

Habitual mask-wearing is likely helping Japan, Singapore and South Korea bring daily Omicron deaths down, epidemiologists say

As the mask mandate debate rages on in Australia, epidemiologists and medical specialists suggest looking to countries where citizens are perfectly happy to wear them to see how powerful the simple infection-control measure can be. Nearly two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, countries where mask-wearing is a cultural norm are seeing some signs of success as the persistent Omicron sub-variants spread throughout their communities. University of Otago public health professor and epidemiologist Michael Baker said underlying the widespread acceptance of masks in some countries was a sense of personal responsibility to protect others from COVID-19. "I'm looking at the countries that appear, on paper, to be keeping their mortality very low … despite having lots of circulating virus, and it's basically the Asian countries, particularly Japan, South Korea, Singapore," he said.
1st Aug 2022 - ABC News

Israel was a world leader in combatting COVID-19 with vaccines, now they're getting ready for monkeypox

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global emergency. Israel was credited with having the world's fastest COVID-19 vaccine rollout in early 2021 It's now ordering large stockpiles of monkeypox vaccine to prevent the disease's spread.
2nd Aug 2022 - ABC News

D.C. Schools covid vaccine mandate rare among national school systems

D.C. students who are 12 and older must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend school this upcoming academic year. The youth vaccine mandate in D.C. is among the strictest in the nation, according to health experts, and is being enacted in a city with wide disparities in vaccination rates between its White and Black children. Overall, about 85 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 15 have been vaccinated against the virus, but the rate drops to 60 percent among Black children in this age range.
1st Aug 2022 - The Washington Post

Japan debates change to COVID-19 measures amid hospital strain

Japan is considering altering its COVID-19 reporting protocols, including a potential change in the collection of infection numbers, in a bid to lessen the burden on hospitals as they strain under a resurgence of the coronavirus across the country, government sources have said. Medical facilities and public health centers currently cooperate to report the total COVID-19 cases to the government, but the change may limit the reporting of cases to designated establishments, the sources said Saturday. With the prevalent omicron variant having less risk of causing severe illness compared with previous strains, some government officials have questioned the need to report every case.
1st Aug 2022 - The Japan Times

Israel begins vaccinating children under 5 years against Covid-19

A nationwide vaccination campaign against Covid-19 for children aged between six months to five years was launched in Israel. The vaccination will provide children "with an important protection layer against serious illness and post-Covid symptoms," said a statement issued by the Israeli Health Ministry on Sunday evening. The vaccine is especially recommended for children at risk of severe Covid-19 illness due to underlying health conditions that impair the immune system, the Ministry added.
1st Aug 2022 - Business Standard

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Inside the super-secure Swiss lab trying to stop the next pandemic

The setting is straight from a spy thriller: Crystal waters below, snow-capped Swiss Alps above and in between, a super-secure facility researching the world's deadliest pathogens. Spiez Laboratory, known for its detective work on chemical, biological and nuclear threats since World War Two, was tasked last year by the World Health Organization to be the first in a global network of high-security laboratories that will grow, store and share newly discovered microbes that could unleash the next pandemic.
31st Jul 2022 - Reuters

Netherlands to offer more COVID-19 boosters in September

Seeking to head off a fall COVID-19 surge, the government of the Netherlands said Friday that everyone age 12 years and over would be eligible for a vaccine booster shot in a campaign expected to start in September. The Dutch health ministry said in a statement that an advisory panel of experts recommended the new round of vaccinations “to maintain protection against serious illness and death, to ensure access to health care” and to prevent problems caused by issues such as staff shortages. The booster shots will be with updated vaccines if they are proven to offer better protection against new mutations of the coronavirus — and if the vaccines have received approval from the European Medicines Agency.
29th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

How long-term Covid-19 immunity paves the way for universal Covid-19 vaccines

In recent months, scientists have also learned that the immune cells that provide lasting protection — known as memory B cells and T cells — can keep the worst effects of the most recent versions of the virus at bay, even if they were trained to corral older strains of SARS-CoV-2. Vaccine researchers are expanding their focus from antibodies to these memory immune cells as the new discoveries open a path toward universal coronavirus vaccines. Universal vaccines, however, are still a long way off — possibly years — drawing on approaches never used before. “That’s a scientific challenge,” said Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, during the summit.
29th Jul 2022 - Vox.com

If you're high risk, do not wait for updated COVID vaccines, experts say

People at high risk of severe disease who have yet to get a second COVID-19 booster should not wait for next-generation, Omicron-targeted vaccines expected in the fall, five vaccine experts told Reuters. In many countries, including the United States, the BA.5 Omicron subvariant of the virus is surging, but current vaccines continue to offer protection against hospitalization for severe disease and death.
29th Jul 2022 - Reuters

LA Holds Off Reimposing Mask Mandate as Covid Cases Fall

Los Angeles held off reimposing a universal indoor masking mandate as new Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations begin to go down. Local public health officials have been warning for the past two weeks that a mask mandate may be reinstated, after the county surpassed 10 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents and entered a “high” community alert level. However, officials decided to pause a masking order as fresh county-level data indicate the community is likely entering a lower transmission threshold, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters Thursday.
28th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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EMA task force begins review of Veru's sabizabulin for Covid-19

The Emergency Task Force (ETF) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has commenced the review of Veru’s sabizabulin to treat hospitalised Covid-19 patients at increased acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) risk. The review will facilitate the use of the therapy for emergency usage in countries in the EU. Under this process, the ETF will analyse all available data, including findings from a trial in moderate-to-severe Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital with increased ARDS and mortality risk. According to the study findings, treatment with sabizabulin lowered the number of deaths in these subjects versus placebo.
28th Jul 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

COVID-19 vaccine bookings open for young children under age of five in Ontario

Ontario parents can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments for their babies and preschoolers starting today. The province’s booking portal opened for pediatric vaccine appointments for children aged six months to under five years at 8 a.m. Families can also make appointments through health units using their own booking systems as well as some primary care providers and pharmacies.
28th Jul 2022 - The Globe and Mail

4 mn Indonesian medical workers to get 4th dose of Covid-19 vaccine

Four million medical workers will receive a fourth dose of the Covid-19 vaccine amid increasing transmissions triggered by the virus' sub-variants in Indonesia, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said. Sadikin told local media on Wednesday that administering of the third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine started in August 2021 and now it is the time for a new immunity shot, Xinhua news agency reported.
28th Jul 2022 - Business Standard

Covid-19: Everyone over age of 50 in Northern Ireland to be offered booster jab and flu vaccine this autumn

Everyone over the age of 50 in Northern Ireland will be offered a flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster jab this autumn. Health Minister Robin Swann said the measure was precautionary given the likely increase in infection as we enter the winter months. On Wednesday, the minister revealed lateral flow testing for those with Covid-19 symptoms in Northern Ireland is to continue into August, citing the rising level of cases of the virus both in NI and the UK as a whole.
28th Jul 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Vaccinating children aged under 5 years against covid-19

The United States has joined a handful of countries recommending that children aged 6 months to 5 years should receive covid-19 vaccines, but it is uncertain if other countries will follow. What is the evidence behind the US’s recommendation, and how does the case for vaccinating children under 5 years differ from offering covid-19 vaccines to older children? Two vaccines have been authorised for under 5s in the US, based on data supplied by manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna.
28th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

UK scientists take ‘promising’ step towards single Covid and cold vaccine

Scientists have made a “promising” advance towards developing a universal coronavirus vaccine to tackle Covid-19 and the common cold. Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London have discovered that a specific area of the spike protein of Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – is a good target for a pan-coronavirus jab that could offer protection against all the Covid-19 variants and common colds. Developing a vaccine that protects against a number of different coronaviruses is a huge challenge, they said, because this family of viruses have many key differences, frequently mutate and generally induce incomplete protection against reinfection. That is why people can repeatedly catch common colds, and why it is possible to be infected multiple times with different variants of Sars-CoV-2.
28th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

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How Much Rest Do You Really Need When You Get Covid-19?

Many people feel the urge to power through after testing positive for Covid-19. President Biden recently told Americans he was “getting a lot of work done” after testing positive and tweeted a photo of himself signing a bill at his desk. Doctors say it is important to rest, even for people with mild to moderate cases of the virus. Some doctors worry that as we get more inured to the pandemic, some people with symptoms aren’t taking enough down time. Pushing yourself too hard can lengthen your recovery, they say, adding that the healing trajectory for Covid-19 is less predictable than for other respiratory illnesses.
27th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

The Future of COVID Vaccines: will you need constant boosters or is a single "forever" shot possible?

Most Australians over 30 are now eligible for their fourth COVID vaccine booster shot. But will there ever be a "forever" vaccine, that removes the need for boosters? Or a vaccine that stops you contracting COVID in the first place? Royal Melbourne Hospital's Dr Kudza Kanhutu specialises in infectious diseases and has a background in immunology. Hear her discuss what the future of COVID vaccines might look like with Nadia on Mornings
27th Jul 2022 - ABC News

Almost 9% have received second Covid-19 vaccine booster

The average percentage of people who have received a second Covid-19 vaccine booster is almost 9% across the country’s Local Electoral Areas (LEAs), new figures show. Data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals that the average rate for a second booster shot was 8.7%, with individual areas ranging from 2% to 15%. The LEAs with the lowest second booster levels are Blanchardstow, Mulhuddart, Tallaght South and Ongar.
27th Jul 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Queensland COVID-19 surge sparks calls for improved PCR access amid RAT accuracy fears

Mass testing clinics and removing barriers to PCR testing could speed up access to antiviral medication, experts say. They are urging people who still feel sick despite having tested negative using a RAT to get a PCR swab. Pathology Technology Australia says people with false negative results may not be using RATs properly
27th Jul 2022 - ABC News

There's fresh focus on using masks to slow COVID-19. So can you reuse masks? And if so, what's the best way?

As Omicron variants of COVID-19 continue to fuel a rise in cases across Australia, there is renewed focus on masks as a simple way to prevent the spread of the virus. Australia's COVID-19 cases and death rates are now some of the highest in the world per capita, and the numbers are getting worse. It has led National Cabinet to strongly encourage the wearing of masks indoors, when appropriate, and authorities have warned Australia's current COVID-19 wave will likely peak in August. So with masks back in focus again, let's take a look at reusing them.
27th Jul 2022 - ABC News

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Novavax COVID-19 vaccine: When will it be available in the US?

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine. Research shows Novavax to be 100% effective in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. Novavax uses a traditional vaccine model used previously for influenza and shingles vaccines. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has secured 3.2 million doses of Novavax for distribution in the U.S., with ordering opening to medical professionals in the coming weeks.
26th Jul 2022 - Medical News Today

EU states should act now for COVID-19 waves in winter-official

EU member states should start preparing now for a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in autumn and winter, the bloc's health chief said on Monday, saying there had been a "worrying increase" in outbreaks. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides also warned there was no room for complacency, saying the pandemic was not over. "Unfortunately the pandemic has shown a worrying increase in several countries," she told Cyprus state radio.
26th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19: Hospital visitors refusing to wear masks, ward outbreaks 'unavoidable'

Hospital visitors who refuse to wear masks or walk around wards visiting different patients are creating difficulties for Northland hospitals trying to manage Covid-19 infections. Dargaville Hospital’s general ward reopened to visitors on Tuesday, a week after rising infection numbers put a halt to visits. Whangārei Hospital’s ward 1, an orthopaedic ward, has not had any visitors since July 14 because of a spike in Covid-19 infections. It will reopen to visitors on Wednesday, as long as there are no further Covid-19 cases.
26th Jul 2022 - Stuff

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The Covid vaccine no Aussies wanted

Deemed the “alternative” Covid vaccine, there were high hopes for Novavax in Australia when the more traditional formula got the tick of approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in January. Due to its similar composition to hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, a large amount of interest was shown for Novavax, or Nuvaxovid, by those who were reluctant to take either AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Additionally experts, like TGA boss Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, believed the increased interest would see vaccination rates rise from 95 per cent fully vaccinated to at least 98 per cent. “I would have had several hundred emails from individuals and groups who have said for whatever reason we would like to have [this] particular vaccine … this just gives them further choice,” Professor Skerritt said upon Novavax’s approval in January.
25th Jul 2022 - News.com.au

Covid in China: Xi Jinping and other leaders given domestic vaccine

President Xi Jinping and other top politicians have been given domestically produced Covid vaccines, China has said. The news was released as part of a campaign to increase vaccination rates, especially of boosters. The deputy head of China's National Health Commission, Zeng Yixin, said it showed the leadership's confidence in the Chinese vaccines. Health information about these figures is not usually shared with the public. Mr Zeng said the country's leaders had "all taken the home-grown Covid-19 vaccination jabs".
25th Jul 2022 - BBC News

Australia's COVID-19 cases and death rates currently among world's highest per capita

Australia ranked third in cases per million people in the past seven days. Experts are pleading with the public to wear masks, get PCR tests if symptomatic and get boosters. Health workers say they are bearing the the strain of the ongoing pandemic
25th Jul 2022 - ABC News

China Covid Cases Drop as Macau, Shanghai Ramp Up Mass Testing

China’s Covid-19 cases fell to the lowest in a week, even as officials in the financial hub of Shanghai and the gaming enclave of Macau ramped up mass testing. China reported 680 cases for Sunday, down from 869 on Saturday and the lowest daily tally since July 17. Still, authorities continue to roll out testing blitzes to catch flareups and stamp out outbreaks. In Macau, all residents must perform daily rapid Covid tests on themselves and report the results to the government for the next week, with mass laboratory tests slated for the coming weekend.
24th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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Mask wearing required in Kentucky's largest school district

Kentucky’s largest school district will require universal masking on school property as Jefferson County moves into the highest level of COVID-19 community spread. The change begins Monday and lasts until Jefferson County comes out of the red, media outlets reported. It comes a little more than two weeks before classes resume in Jefferson County Public Schools. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask on district property or on school buses. District policy automatically requires universal masking whenever the county has a high level of COVID-19 community spread. When community spread in Jefferson County drops, masks in JCPS become optional.
24th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

NZ has mask mandates and isolation, but the Omicron daily death rate is still 'very concerning'

Across the Tasman, New Zealanders who were once asked to lock down over a single case of COVID-19 are now being urged to wear masks as the country records a seven-day rolling average of nearly 10,000 cases a day. Authorities believe there is widespread community infection in every region of New Zealand, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 sub-variant. And for a nation of just 5.1 million people, attention is now turning to New Zealand's daily death rate, which has been among the highest in the world according to one World Health Organization measure.
23rd Jul 2022 - ABC News

WHO Prioritizes Health Care Workers And Older Populations in Latest COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy Update

After missing the target to vaccinate 70% of people in every country against COVID by July 2022, WHO’s new vaccine strategy prioritises 100% coverage for health workers and older people – but admits that every country will have to decide for itself. The World Health Organization has published an update to the Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy that preserves its 70% global vaccination target and 100% vaccination targets for health care workers and older populations, but acknowledges that countries will still need to determine their ‘context-specific targets’ for their own COVID-19 national vaccination programmes.
22nd Jul 2022 - Health Policy Watch

Covid-Hit LA on Track to Reinstate Indoor Mask Mandate Next Week

The Los Angeles health authority cautioned that an indoor masking mandate is on track to be reimposed next week, even for the fully vaccinated, unless Covid-19 cases take a sharp drop. A universal mandate will be put in place across the US’s most-populous county after a “high” level of community-transmission for two straight weeks. If the current trends hold, a new mandate would go into effect on July 29, according to Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.
21st Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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Ontario to open pediatric COVID-19 vaccine bookings starting July 28

Ontario parents will be able to book COVID-19 vaccinations for infants and preschoolers starting next Thursday. Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the lower-dose Moderna shot for children aged six months to under five will give young family members protection against COVID-19. “Getting vaccinated remains the best defence against COVID-19,” she said in a written statement. “I encourage parents with questions to reach out to their health care provider, the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre or the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to make an informed choice for their family.”
21st Jul 2022 - The Globe and Mail

Mask and sanitiser plea as Covid-19 cases rise in Walsall

People living in Walsall in the West Midlands are being urged to to wear masks and use sanitiser due to a rise Covid cases. Latest figures show there were 608 positive cases recorded in the seven days up to 10 July, a 4.6 per cent increase on the previous week. The current rate in the town is 221 per 100,000 population, lower than the national rate of 309.4. People must do all they can to protect themselves, public health bosses said. The total number of cases in the town is 96,296. Nearly 3.5 million people, or one in 18, has the virus - up from 2.7m, or one in 25, the week before. "We continue to see a weekly increase in the number of positive cases in Walsall," Stephen Gunther, Walsall's Director of Public Health said.
21st Jul 2022 - BBC News

Oregon urges return to mask wearing as hospitals feel strain

Oregon health officials are urging people in 21 counties with high COVID-19 cases — including the three Portland-area counties — to return to mask wearing because the hospital system is again under extreme strain. While COVID-19 hospitalizations are lower than past surges, staff shortages, patients who delayed care and elevated COVID-19 infections have substantially reduced hospital systems’ capacity to care for patients, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
21st Jul 2022 - Associated Press

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Bring Covid curbs back AGAIN, say top medical journals: Editorial calls for new clampdown on Britons

No10 has batted away calls to bring back pandemic-era curbs in response to soaring infections. Surveillance models suggest 3.5million people in the UK (one in 20) people were infected in week to July 6. But editors of two health publications accused Government of 'gaslighting' public about threat Covid poses. They say it is time to face the fact that attempt to 'live with Covid' is 'straw that is breaking the NHS's back'. Authors blame 'failure to recognise that the pandemic is far from over' and call for return of virus curbs. Face masks, free Covid tests for all, WFH guidance and restrictions on social gathering should return, they say
20th Jul 2022 - Daily Mail

Micronesia last of bigger nations to have COVID-19 outbreak

Article reports that Micronesia has likely become the final nation in the world with a population of more than 100,000 to experience an outbreak of COVID-19. For more than two-and-a-half years, the Pacific archipelago managed to avoid any outbreaks thanks to its geographic isolation and border controls. Those people who flew into the country with the disease didn’t spread it because all new arrivals were required to quarantine. But as has been the case in several other Pacific nations this year, those defenses couldn’t keep out the more transmissible omicron variant forever.
20th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Weekly tests dropped for unvaccinated state employees

Minnesota state government employees who are unvaccinated for COVID-19 are no longer required to take weekly tests for the virus in order to stay in the workplace. The requirement that went into effect in September 2021 meant thousands of employees took tests each week. Those that didn’t comply were subjected to suspensions or other discipline. A state official said the requirement was rescinded because of the evolving nature of the virus. “Whereas it was common to have broad, uniform precautionary measures earlier in the pandemic, the pandemic is at a point where public health COVID-19 risk assessments and precautions are now more dependent upon the specific circumstances of individuals and communities,” said Patrick Hogan, Department of Minnesota Management and Budget spokesman.
20th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Jul 2022

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COVID-19: Sore throat now the most common coronavirus symptom, data suggests

A sore throat might be the main symptom that suggests someone has developed COVID-19, according to new data. The next most prevalent symptoms are headache and blocked nose, according to the Zoe COVID study. At the start of the pandemic, symptoms such as a fever or loss of smell were considered among the most characteristic signs of the virus. But now they are among the least reported symptoms.
15th Jul 2022 - Sky News

Covid Fuels Worst Decline in Childhood Vaccinations in 30 Years

Global childhood vaccination rates experienced the largest decline in about three decades amid Covid disruptions, putting growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases. The percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) was set back to its lowest level since 2008, falling to 81% in 2021, according to official data published by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund on Friday. The decline means 25 million children missed out on at least one dose of DTP through routine services in 2021 alone, two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019.
16th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus sub-variant 'Centaurus' spreads across India and parts of Europe

An Omicron sub-variant that is spreading rapidly in India and has been detected in several European countries may be better than other coronavirus strains at overcoming immunity provided by prior infection and vaccines. BA.2.75, which has been nicknamed Centaurus, appeared to have mutated in a way that could indicate “major immune escape”, said the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, adding that it showed a “clear growth advantage” over other variants in India. Global health authorities issued a similar warning when the highly mutated Omicron variant emerged late last year.
15th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

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Covid-19: MPs call for greater efforts to reach the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated

MPs have called on NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to redouble efforts to reach the almost three million adults in England who remain unvaccinated against covid-19 as well as those who are only partially vaccinated. The Public Accounts Committee has challenged the government to reduce the overall number of unvaccinated people to 2.5 million and achieve an 80% uptake for first boosters within four months. The committee’s report on the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine programme acknowledged its early success but said low vaccination rates persist in many vulnerable groups including pregnant women and minority ethnic groups
14th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

Masks could return to Los Angeles as COVID surges nationwide

Nick Barragan is used to wearing a mask because his job in the Los Angeles film industry has long required it, so he won't be fazed if the nation's most populous county reinstates rules requiring face coverings because of another spike in coronavirus cases across the country. “I feel fine about it because I’ve worn one pretty much constantly for the last few years. It’s become a habit,” said Barragan, masked up while out running errands Wednesday. Los Angeles County, home to 10 million residents, is facing a return to a broad indoor mask mandate later this month if current trends in hospital admissions continue, county health Director Barbara Ferrer said this week.
15th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Free Covid Booster Dose For All Adults From Friday For The Next 75 Days

In India, all adults will be able to get free booster doses of the coronavirus vaccine at government centres under a special drive over the next 75 days from Friday, officials said on Wednesday. Aimed at improving the third-dose coverage, the drive will be held as part of the government's 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of India's Independence.
14th Jul 2022 - NDTV

Canada's Ontario to offer second COVID booster dose to all adults

Ontario, Canada's most populous province, said on Wednesday that it would offer a second COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to everyone aged 18 and older from Thursday. "As we continue to manage COVID-19 for the long term, we're expanding second booster doses and extending the availability of free rapid antigen tests to give people the tools they need to stay safe and to ensure Ontario stays open," Ontario's Health Minister Sylvia Jones said in a statement.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters Canada

Some Chinese cities order more frequent COVID testing as cases creep higher

Several Chinese cities have doubled down on COVID-19 testing, ordering residents to have their mouths swabbed more often, with some punishing people who skip tests, as authorities try to stop the virus from spreading while the case numbers are still small. In June, several cities had relaxed testing requirements as the outbreaks suffered in spring began to subside, but an uptick in infections this month, fuelled by an Omicron subvariant, have forced a few areas to quickly tighten rules
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Explainer: What is the COVID BA.5 variant and why is it reinfecting so many people?

BA.5, part of the Omicron family, is the latest coronavirus variant to cause widespread waves of infection globally. According to the World Health Organization's most recent report, it was behind 52% of cases sequenced in late June, up from 37% in one week. In the United States, it is estimated to be causing around 65% of infections
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand announces free masks, tests as health system struggles with COVID

The New Zealand government on Thursday announced free masks and rapid antigen tests as it tries to stem the spread of COVID-19 and relieve pressure on the country's health system which is dealing with an influx of COVID and influenza patients. There has been a significant jump in the number of new COVID cases in New Zealand in the past couple of week and authorities are forecasting that this wave of Omicron might be worst than the first
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters.com

How long after exposure you can test positive and early signs to look for

Covid rates are continuing to increase, and more and more people are testing positive across the UK. The Zoe Health Study produced data this week showing that there were over 350,000 daily Covid cases – a new record for the UK. Professor Tim Spector, Zoe scientific co-founder and lead scientist on the Zoe Health Study, said: “Covid is still rampant in the population. “So much so that if you have any cold-like symptoms at the moment it’s nearly twice as likely to be Covid as a cold. “Even if people have had a past infection and are fully vaccinated, people are still catching it.” Here’s everything you need to know about how quickly you will show symptoms.
14th Jul 2022 - iNews

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Free Covid booster doses for 18-59 age group from July 15 at govt centres

People in the 18-59 age group can get free precaution doses of the Covid vaccine at government vaccination centres under a 75-day special drive likely to begin from July 15, the government said on Wednesday. The drive, aimed at boosting the administration of Covid precaution doses, will be held as part of the government's Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India's Independence, it said. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur told reporters the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal to mark the 75th anniversary of India's Independence.
13th Jul 2022 - Business Standard

Covid-19: Free masks and RATs but traffic light setting expected to stay orange

The Government is expected to make it easier to get free masks and rapid antigen tests (RATs), with concerns many cases of Covid-19 are going untested and unreported. Covid-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall is set to announce an update to the Government’s Covid-19 plan and guidelines on Thursday afternoon. Stuff understands Verrall will outline plans for the Government to provide free masks and Covid-19 tests. Verrall had already outlined plans to deliver 50 free masks to every school child in years 4-7.
13th Jul 2022 - Stuff

New format of digital COVID-19 certificate to be available Thursday

Taiwan will start offering on Thursday a new format of its digital COVID-19 vaccination certificate, which can be used in countries including the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday. The new format follows the SMART Health Cards framework launched by the Vaccination Credential Initiative (VCI), which Taiwan joined on May 20, CECC official Pang Yi-ming said at a press briefing. According to the VCI website, SMART Health Cards are issued by the governments of 24 U.S. states and territories, Canada, Japan, and Sydney, Australia, among others.
13th Jul 2022 - Focus Taiwan News Channel

S. Korea expands booster shots as COVID-19 cases creep up

Health officials in South Korea are expanding booster shots to adults 50 and over as COVID-19 cases creep up again across the country. The 40,226 new cases reported Wednesday marked the country’s highest daily jump in more than two months, although hospitalizations and deaths remain stable. Baek Gyeongran, South Korea’s top infectious disease expert, attributed the rising case counts to people’s waning immunities following vaccinations and prior infections and a major removal of social distancing measures since April as the nation wiggled out of an omicron surge. Health workers are also witnessing a “rapid spread” of BA.5, which is seen as the most transmissible variant of omicron yet, Baek said.
13th Jul 2022 - The Independent

WHO says COVID-19 remains a global health emergency

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that COVID-19 remains a global emergency, nearly 2-1/2 years after it was first declared. The Emergency Committee, made up of independent experts, said in a statement that rising cases, ongoing viral evolution and pressure on health services in a number of countries meant that the situation was still an emergency. Cases reported to WHO had risen by 30% in the last fortnight, although increased population immunity, largely from vaccines, had seen a "decoupling" of cases from hospitalisations and deaths, the committee's statement said.
13th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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Hopes of Covid-19 Reprieve Fade as BA.5 Subvariant Takes Over

Covid-19 is circulating widely as the BA.5 Omicron subvariant elevates the risk of reinfections and rising case counts, spoiling chances for a summer reprieve from the pandemic across much of the U.S. Covid-19 levels are high in a fifth of U.S. counties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s metric based on case and hospital data, a share that has been mostly rising since mid-April. BA.5 is estimated to represent nearly two in three recent U.S. cases that are averaging just more than 100,000 a day, CDC data show. The true number of infections may be roughly six times as high, some virus experts said, in part because so many people are using at-home tests that state health departments largely don’t track.
13th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Omicron subvariants threaten COVID-19 resurgence across US

Health officials are once again raising the alarm about the threat of a resurgence of COVID-19 infections across the country, as concerns grow about the new omicron subvariant, BA.5, which is now the dominant viral strain in the U.S. The BA.5 variant, first detected in South Africa earlier this year, is currently estimated to account for more than half -- 53.6% -- of all new COVID-19 cases in the states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. BA.5 appears to have a growth advantage over the original omicron variant, according to the World Health Organization, and scientists are closely monitoring the increase in reported cases observed in many countries across the globe.
12th Jul 2022 - ABC News

White House to prioritize vaccine boosters, testing to combat Omicron subvariant

The White House said on Tuesday it will ensure Americans continue to have easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and testing to contain the fast-spreading Omicron BA.5 subvariant that now makes up a majority of U.S. cases. Health officials say there are indications the subvariant might be better at escaping immunity, including from prior infections. BA.5 is estimated to account for 65% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of last week, said Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
12th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Italy to start administering second COVID booster to over-60s

Italy will soon start its campaign to administer a second COVID-19 booster to everyone aged over 60, the health minister said on Monday, after receiving a green light from European Union health agencies. The European recommendation came on Monday amid a new rise in infections and hospitalisations across Europe and was expected to facilitate national decisions to speed up vaccination campaigns, which have been slowing in recent months. Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the government had already given the go-ahead to Italy's 20 regional administrations to start the second booster campaign, after the approval of national medicine agency AIFA.
12th Jul 2022 - Yahoo Style UK

China tells local governments to drop COVID tests on some goods

China's health authority said on Tuesday that local governments no longer need to test some imported goods for the coronavirus, in a move aimed at reducing the cost of its strict COVID-19 prevention measures. China began testing the packaging of chilled and frozen food imports for the virus in June 2020, after a cluster of infections among workers at a wholesale food market in Beijing. Six months later, Beijing also advised testing on ambient products too, even as scientists said the risk of coronavirus infection through contact with contaminated surfaces was low.
12th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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Italy to start administering second COVID booster to over-60s

Italy will soon start its campaign to administer a second COVID-19 booster to everyone aged over 60, the health minister said on Monday, after receiving a green light from European Union health agencies.
11th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Coronavirus BA.5 and BA.4 variants to blame for surge in infection rates

Two new subvariants of coronavirus are driving a surge in infection rates and hospitalisations across the globe. Health experts identified the strains - known as BA.5 and BA.4 - in Botswana and South Africa in March, and cases have quickly spread across Europe, the United States and Australia. In the wake of the surge in infection rates, health experts are urging people to ensure that they are up to date with their vaccinations and boosters. Everyone over the age of five can have the first two shots, with those aged 16 and over will be eligible for a booster shot. Those aged 75 and over, those who live in care homes, and people aged 12 and over who have a weakened immune system, will be offered a spring booster.
11th Jul 2022 - Wales Online

Moderna's Noubar Afeyan on the race to create a Covid vaccine

Moderna's Noubar Afeyan on the race to create a Covid vaccine with the Financial Times health team
11th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

More than 1bn Covid vaccine jabs wasted in pandemic, data analysis suggests

More than 1bn Covid vaccine jabs wasted in pandemic, data analysis suggests
11th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

COVID-19: New mutant raises concerns in India, beyond

The quickly changing coronavirus has spawned yet another super contagious omicron mutant that’s worrying scientists as it gains ground in India and pops up in numerous other countries, including the United States. Scientists say the variant – called BA.2.75 – may be able to spread rapidly and get around immunity from vaccines and previous infection. It’s unclear whether it could cause more serious disease than other omicron variants, including the globally prominent BA.5. “It’s still really early on for us to draw too many conclusions,” said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “But it does look like, especially in India, the rates of transmission are showing kind of that exponential increase.” Whether it will outcompete BA.5, he said, is yet to be determined.
11th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Health experts say COVID-19 complacency has restricted freedoms of the immunocompromised and elderly

Australia's COVID hospitalisation rates have spiked back to February highs. Federal Health Minister Mark Butler has shot down any reintroduction of mask mandates. Health experts say Australia's COVID complacency is leading to higher transmission rates
11th Jul 2022 - ABC News

Hong Kong to make COVID-19 app more like mainland China to curb infections

Hong Kong will update an app it uses for COVID-19 tracking to bring it more in line with mainland China, by requiring people to register by name and by adopting a traffic light colour code to restrict movement of infected residents and close contacts. Previously, users were not required to register with their personal details, and the app was used to enter venues and display vaccination records. Announcing the changes at a news conference on Monday, Lo Chung-Mau, the city's new health secretary, said that he hoped the app would be updated soon and that it would help to enforce quarantine orders for people required to isolate at home.
11th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai plans more COVID testing amid fresh curbs across China

Multiple Chinese cities are adopting fresh COVID-19 curbs, from business halts to lockdowns, to rein in new infections, with the commercial hub of Shanghai bracing for another mass testing effort after finding a highly-transmissible Omicron subvariant. The tough curbs by local governments follow China's "dynamic zero-COVID" policy of promptly stamping out all outbreaks at a time when much of the world co-exists with the virus.
11th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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‘Stealthy’ new Covid variant can reinfect you every month

Health experts across the globe are signalling alarm as they begin reporting that Omicron BA.5, the coronavirus strain that is currently outpacing other variants in infection and has become the dominant strain in the US and abroad, has the ability to reinfect people within weeks of contracting the virus. Andrew Roberston, the chief health officer in Western Australia, told News.com.au that though previously the wisdom held that most people would retain a certain level of protection against reinfection if they were vaccinated or had retained some level of natural immunity due to a recent contraction of the virus, this hasn’t been the case with the most recent strain. “What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA.2 and then becoming infected after four weeks,” the doctor explained during an interview with the Australian news outlet. “So maybe six to eight weeks they are developing a second infection, and that’s almost certainly BA.4 or BA.5.” The ability for strains BA.4 and BA.5 to reinfect individuals who would in previous waves of Covid-19 had stronger immunity has led some experts to start calling this latest strain the most transmissible yet.
10th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Thinking of mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccine booster shots? There doesn't seem to be much point

As of Monday, an extra 7.4 million Australians will be eligible for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. On Thursday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended everyone over 50 have a fourth dose. And while it didn't go as far as to recommend people aged 30-49 have a fourth dose, ATAGI said they can if they want to. It also reduced the length of time between booster shots from four to three months. Let's unpack what it means for you.
8th Jul 2022 - ABC News

Beijing mandates COVID vaccines to enter some public spaces

The Chinese capital has issued a mandate requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they can enter some public spaces including gyms, museums and libraries, drawing concern from city residents over the sudden policy announcement and its impact on their daily lives. The health app that shows a person's latest PCR test results has been updated to make it easier to also access their vaccination status, according to Li Ang, a spokesperson for Beijing’s municipal health commission. The list of public places requiring vaccination does not include restaurants and offices. The mandate will go into effect on Monday, with exceptions available only to those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.
10th Jul 2022 - Yahoo Finance

New mask mandates all but ruled out around Australia as Covid cases surge

Medical experts have criticised federal and state governments for “inconsistent” messaging around the looming winter virus wave, with new face mask rules all but ruled out nationwide. It comes as trade unions launch a fresh appeal to the prime minister, Anthony Albanese, to reverse the decision to scrap paid leave for Covid-positive people forced to isolate, calling on the Labor government to reinstate the allowance until isolation rules change. “We have a population believing, and governments delivering, that Covid is in the rear-view mirror, that we’re over the worst of it, that it’s time to do away with any of the measures and move on with life,” said infectious disease expert Prof Brendan Crabb, the CEO of the Burnet Institute.
8th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Ontario's COVID-19 test positivity climbs to 13.5% as new details of 7th wave emerge

New details are emerging about the severity of Ontario's newest wave of COVID-19, with the province reporting another 33 deaths related to the virus over the last week, as well as rising numbers of hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Test positivity has also climbed to 13.5, the highest percentage reported since May, it reported Thursday. The province says 712 people are currently in hospital with COVID-19, up from 585 at this time last week. There are 110 patients in intensive care due to the virus, up from 95 last Thursday.
8th Jul 2022 - CBC.ca

WTO faces new battle over COVID tests, drugs

Less than a month after a hard-won deal was reached on a partial waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, a fresh battle may be looming at the World Trade Organization over extending the waiver to treatments and tests. The June deal includes an agreement to debate waiving certain IP rights for tests and drugs, which the pharmaceutical industry says could lead to a broader unraveling of protections for treatments for other diseases.
8th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Millions tested in Shanghai as China grapples COVID resurgence

Millions of people in Shanghai queued for a third day of mass COVID-19 testing on Thursday as authorities in several Chinese cities scrambled to stamp out new outbreaks that have rekindled worries about growth in the world's second-largest economy. Unless local officials succeed in preventing the virus from spreading, they could be compelled to invoke prolonged, major restrictions on residents' movement, under China's "dynamic zero COVID" strategy.
8th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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Brii Bio introduces Covid-19 combination therapy in China

Brii Biosciences and TSB Therapeutics have commercially launched a long-acting neutralising antibody therapy combination, amubarvimab/romlusevimab, for Covid-19 in China. The two non-competing SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal neutralising antibodies, amubarvimab and romlusevimab are obtained from convalesced Covid-19 patients. The company developed these antibodies in partnership with Tsinghua University and the 3rd People’s Hospital of Shenzhen.
7th Jul 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology

Exothera to support process development of Turkish company's COVID-19 vaccine

Turkey based Vaccizone has chosen Belgian CDMO, Exothera, to fast-track process development of its COVID-19 vaccine for European clinical trials.
7th Jul 2022 - BioPharma-Reporter.com

Covid-19: Bristol hospital trust brings back mask wearing

In Bristol, a city hospital trust has re-introduced mask-wearing after a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Southmead Hospital, says the measure applies to staff, patients and visitors in clinical areas. Two Gloucestershire Hospitals have also re-introduced masks for visitors, as have health boards that operate in Somerset and Wiltshire. The latest UK figures show an estimated 2.3 million people have the virus.
7th Jul 2022 - BBC News

Hospital trusts bring face masks back after Covid cases rise

Face masks have been reintroduced at some hospitals in Derbyshire after a spike in Covid patients. Mandatory face masks were dropped in non-clinical areas at the Royal Derby and Chesterfield hospitals last month. However, they have now been brought back by the two trusts that run the hospitals. There are 111 Covid-19 patients at the Royal Derby Hospital - one in intensive care - and 44 patients with Covid at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
7th Jul 2022 - BBC News

Australia expands fourth COVID dose rollout amid fresh Omicron threat

Australia said on Thursday it would expand the rollout of the fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines from next week as it battles a steady rise in hospital admissions fuelled by the highly transmissible new Omicron subvariants, BA.4 and BA.5. The new subvariants have now become the dominant coronavirus strains in several countries, with pandemic experts warning they could lead to more hospitalisations and deaths because they spread more quickly than other coronavirus variants.
7th Jul 2022 - Reuters

New Covid variants threaten China’s mRNA vaccine hopes

China is making progress in efforts to develop a homegrown messenger RNA Covid-19 vaccine, but experts warn that it risks being outpaced by rapid mutations of the Omicron coronavirus variant. Beijing’s refusal to approve foreign jabs, and the limited effectiveness of the more traditional inactivated vaccines available from domestic companies, mean an mRNA vaccine is widely seen as essential to any shift away from President Xi Jinping’s economically costly zero-Covid policy.
7th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

Beijing mandates COVID vaccines to enter some public spaces

The Chinese capital has issued a mandate requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they can enter some public spaces including gyms, museums and libraries, drawing concern from city residents over the sudden policy announcement and its impact on their daily lives. The health app that shows a person’s latest PCR test results has been updated to make it easier to also access their vaccination status, according to Li Ang, a spokesperson for Beijing’s municipal health commission.
7th Jul 2022 - Associated Press

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Study: COVID would have killed 58% more Americans without vaccines

A new study estimates that COVID-19 vaccinations averted 58% of U.S. deaths that could have occurred in a hypothetical scenario in which no inoculations existed. Published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, the modeling study concludes that COVID-19 vaccinations prevented 27 million infections, 1.6 million hospitalizations and 235,000 deaths among U.S. adults from December 2020 to September 2021. However, the study cautions that it relied on “incomplete national data” from multiple health records due to the lack of a national database and the “limitations of current methods” for measuring vaccine effectiveness.
6th Jul 2022 - Washington Times

How to book covid booster vaccine as Scotland records highest infection rate

Scotland is experiencing a high rate of Covid-19 infections as experts warn we are seeing the highest amount since April. On top of this, summer brings with it holidays, social events and mass events, all of which is opportunity for the new sub-variants of Omicron, B.A.4 and B.A.5 to spread. Scotland reported that one in 18 people had the virus last week with 288,200 people infected. Some European countries such as Spain are also preparing for a spike in cases and it haven't relaxed all covid restrictions yet. To be considered fully vaccinated if travelling from the UK to Spain, you must have a booster vaccine if it's been over 270 days since your second dose.
6th Jul 2022 - Glasgow Live

Shanghai, Beijing order new round of mass COVID-19 testing

Residents of parts of Shanghai and Beijing have been ordered to undergo further rounds of COVID-19 testing following the discovery of new cases in the two cities, while tight restrictions remain in place in Hong Kong, Macao and other Chinese cities. Shanghai has only just emerged from a strict lockdown that confined most of its 24 million residents to their homes for weeks and the new requirements have stirred concerns of a return of such harsh measures. The latest outbreak in China's largest city, a key international business center, has been linked to a karaoke parlor that failed to enforce prevention measures among employees and customers, including the tracing of others they came into contact with, according to the city health commission. All such outlets have been ordered to temporarily suspend business, the city's department of culture and tourism said.
6th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Cyprus brings back face masks a month after scrapping them

Cyprus ordered the reintroduction of face masks to combat COVID-19 on Wednesday, just over a month after scrapping the requirement, as infections spiked again. The requirement to wear a face mask in indoor areas comes into effect on Friday, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said. Health experts recommended the step after a spate of infections from people who were not taking the proper precautions, the Cypriot official said after a cabinet meeting.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Beijing city mandates COVID vaccinations, relaxes curbs on domestic travellers

China's capital on Wednesday mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for most people to enter crowded venues such as libraries, cinemas and gyms, the first such move by Beijing which it coupled with a slight easing of domestic travel curbs. From July 11, people wanting to enter certain public would need to be vaccinated unless they have issues that render them unsuitable for shots, a city official told a news briefing. Restaurants and public transportation are exempt from the rule.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters

CDC: Mask-wearing recommended in growing number of counties

People in 24 Oregon counties — including the county around Portland — and 15 counties in Washington state should resume mask-wearing indoors in public and on public transportation, according to recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from the CDC shows the counties are considered high risk for COVID-19 infection, KPTV reported. The Oregon counties include: Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Wasco, Sherman, Hood River, Clackamas, Washington, Multnomah, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker, and Malheur counties. In Washington, the counties at high risk include: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Lewis, Thurston, Pierce, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Walla Walla, Columbia, Asotin, Lincoln, Ferry and Spokane. That’s an increase from six Washington counties at high risk as of June 23.
6th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

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South Australia pushes federal government to reduce restrictions on COVID-19 antivirals

COVID-19 antivirals can only be prescribed to certain groups of people. SA's Health Minister wants doctors to be more free to decide who gets them. A surge in COVID-19 cases is expected throughout Australia this winter
5th Jul 2022 - ABC News

JCVI chief calls for mandatory masks in hospitals amid Covid surge

It would be “sensible” for hospitals to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing, the chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said, as several trusts in England and Wales announced the move. When NHS rules on wearing masks in England were dropped on 10 June, local health bodies were given the power to draft their own policies. Their guidance, however, is no longer legally enforceable. Figures from NHS England show there were about 10,658 patients hospitalised with coronavirus on Monday. Infections have doubled in a fortnight across England – with about 1,000 patients being admitted with the virus each day.
5th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Atagi considers fourth Covid vaccine doses as Omicron subvariants drive surge in cases

Australia’s independent expert advisory group on vaccines is meeting to discuss fourth Covid-19 booster doses, as Omicron subvariants drive a rise in infections, leading some premiers to urge people to wear masks more widely. The BA.4 and BA.5 strains of Omicron are becoming the dominant strains of Covid-19 in Australia, overtaking the BA.2 strain. A preliminary analysis estimates BA.4 and BA.5 to be about 36% more infectious than BA.2. This infectiousness is driving a new wave of disease, however, there is no indication the variants are more severe. While Covid-19 vaccines do protect well against severe disease and death from the variants, they do not appear to be as effective at stopping infection and symptoms when it comes to the BA.4 and BA.5 strains.
5th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Further vaccinations likely in Northern Ireland in autumn

Some groups of people are likely to be offered further Covid-19 vaccinations this autumn, Northern Ireland's chief scientific advisor has said. Prof Ian Young said it would apply to vulnerable people and those aged over 65, while health and social care workers would also be offered it. The most recent population survey estimated that one in 25 people in Northern Ireland had Covid. The current wave is being driven by the ba4 and ba5 variants of the virus. Speaking to BBC News NI's Talkback programme, Prof Young said that past vaccines continued to provide protection against severe illness. "Unfortunately, however, with the new variant, ba4 and ba5, people can become re-infected with those, even when they've been vaccinated," he said.
5th Jul 2022 - BBC News

China's Shanghai announces two new rounds of mass COVID testing

The city of Shanghai on Tuesday announced two new rounds of mass COVID-19 testing of most of its 25 million residents over a three-day period, citing the need to trace infections linked to an outbreak at a karaoke lounge. The city government said on its official WeChat account that all residents in nine of the city's 16 districts would be tested twice from Tuesday to Thursday. People in parts of three other districts would also have to undergo tests.
5th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Ireland sees 'extensive' autumn COVID-19 vaccine campaign -deputy PM

Ireland expects to run an extensive vaccine drive against COVID-19 and flu ahead of a potentially worrying winter surge that could lead to the reimposition of mask wearing in certain settings, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday. Ireland dropped all COVID-19 curbs earlier this year after having one of Europe's toughest lockdown regimes. While infections are on the rise again, Varadkar said the current wave seemed to be peaking and the number of hospitalised patients was expected to start falling in the next two to three weeks.
5th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Macau steps up COVID testing as infections surge

Macau kicked off a new round of COVID-19 testing for its more than 600,000 residents on Monday, as officials in the world's biggest gambling hub raced to limit spiralling infections in the city's worst outbreak since the pandemic began. All residents face three rounds of tests this week, in addition to rapid antigen tests, as Monday's 68 new infections took the tally in the former Portuguese colony to 852 since the middle of June. About 12,000 people are in quarantine.
5th Jul 2022 - Reuters

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Paxlovid remains effective in those vaccinated against COVID-19

Israeli researchers have found that paxlovid use in those at risk of COVID-19 progression remains effective even in fully vaccinated patients. The effectiveness of the anti-viral drug paxlovid in preventing the progression of COVID-19 remains even in those who have been adequately vaccinated against the virus according to the results of a real-world study by Israeli researchers. Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelivir, a protease inhibitor against COVID-19 and ritonavir, which reduces the in vivo metabolism of nirmatrelivir. The published data for the drug (the EPIC-HR trial) suggested that treatment of symptomatic COVID-19 in patients at risk of progression to severe disease, results in an 89% lower risk compared to placebo. Nevertheless, the study was undertaken before omicron became the main circulating variant and therefore the generalisability of the study’s findings are potentially limited.
4th Jul 2022 - Hospital Healthcare Europe

Indonesia Pushes for Covid Boosters With Cases at Two-Month High

Indonesia will ask people to show proof of a third Covid-19 vaccine shot to access crowded areas as the government banks on inoculation to manage an increase in cases. The government seeks to encourage people to get their booster shots, said Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin in a Monday briefing. Previously, limiting entry to shopping malls and public areas to those who are fully vaccinated has helped to quicken inoculation, he added. Southeast Asia’s largest economy extended limits on businesses’ capacity and opening hours through Aug. 1 for islands outside of Java and Bali as coronavirus cases pick up. It hasn’t announced measures for Java and Bali yet. The country has been reporting more than 2,000 new infections each day, the most since early April, as neighbors Singapore and the Philippines also grapple with a resurgence.
4th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

UK scientists warn of urgent need for action on vaccines to head off autumn Covid wave

Health authorities need to act urgently to prepare for an autumn that could see further waves of Covid-19 cases spreading across the UK. That is the clear warning from scientists and doctors after last week’s figures revealed another dramatic jump in cases. More than 2 million people across Britain were found to be infected for the week ending 24 June, a rise of more than 30% on the preceding week. And while most experts said they expected the current wave – driven by the Omicron BA4 and BA5 variants of the virus – to peak in a few weeks, they also warned that it will inevitably be followed by another wave this autumn. “Our current planning assumptions are that we will see at least one wave [of Covid] in the autumn-winter period once we have got through the current wave that we’re in right now,” said Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency.
4th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Chennai makes masks mandatory in public places as Covid-19 cases rise

Chennai has made masks mandatory again in public places after Covid-19 cases rose again in the southern state Tamil Nadu. As per the data provided by the state health department, Tamil Nadu had recorded 2,672 fresh infections on Sunday, while 2,385 cases on Saturday. The death toll, however, stands at zero. On the other hand, in the past 24 hours, the state had seen 1,487 recoveries; the active toll rose to 14,504, official data suggested.
4th Jul 2022 - India Times

Doctors urge Ontario to open 4th doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults

Some doctors are calling on Ontario to allow all adults to get a second booster of a COVID-19 vaccine this summer, something that the province is currently limiting to only a portion of the population. Around 7.4 million Ontarians have received one booster, and nearly 90 per cent of those shots were administered at least five months ago, according to Public Health Ontario data. Studies have shown the COVID-19 boosters begin to lose some effectiveness four months after being administered, leading to growing calls for Ontario to widen eligibility for a second booster, equivalent to a fourth dose of vaccine.
4th Jul 2022 - CBC.ca

New clinic to provide COVID-19 prevention treatment for immunocompromised patients

A COVID-19 prevention clinic will administer an injection to immunocompromised people. The national COVID-19 death toll has passed 10,000. A health expert says Australia needs a pandemic "attitude change"
4th Jul 2022 - ABC News

Macau steps up COVID testing as infections surge

Macau kicked off a new round of COVID-19 testing for its more than 600,000 residents on Monday, as officials in the world's biggest gambling hub raced to limit spiralling infections in the city's worst outbreak since the pandemic began. All residents face three rounds of tests this week, in addition to rapid antigen tests, as Monday's 68 new infections took the tally in the former Portuguese colony to 852 since the middle of June. About 12,000 people are in quarantine.
4th Jul 2022 - Reuters

'Two doses are no longer enough': Canadians required to get COVID shot every nine months

Canadians will be required to get a booster shot every nine months for the foreseeable future, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters. So if you thought you were fully vaccinated, think again. Duclos said that the previous definitions of “fully vaccinated” makes no sense, explaining that it’s more important that shots are “up to date” and whether or not a person has “received a vaccination in the last nine months.” He added, “We will never be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” according to Blacklock’s Reporter. Duclos was asked if he was preparing Canadians for the return of vaccine mandates in the fall, he reportedly replied, “We must continue to fight against COVID.”
4th Jul 2022 - Toronto Sun

With hospitalizations up, France weighs return to masks

Tourism is booming again in France — and so is COVID-19. French officials have “invited” or “recommended” people to go back to using face masks but stopped short of renewing restrictions that would scare visitors away or revive anti-government protests. From Paris commuters to tourists on the French Riviera, many people seem to welcome the government’s light touch, while some worry that required prevention measures may be needed. Virus-related hospitalizations rose quickly in France over the past two weeks, with nearly 1,000 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized per day, according to government data. Infections are also rising across Europe and the United States, but France has an exceptionally high proportion of people in the hospital, according to Our World in Data estimates.
2nd Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

COVID vaccines prevented poor outcomes in people of all sizes

COVID-19 vaccination protected people of all body sizes from hospitalization and death—although vaccinated people with a low or high body mass index (BMI) were at greater risk, according to a study of adults in England published yesterday in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. University of Oxford researchers led the study, which involved 9,171,524 adult primary care patients in England with available body mass index (BMI) data from Dec 8, 2020 (when the COVID-19 vaccine first became available in the United Kingdom), to Nov 17, 2021. Average patient age was 52 years, and average BMI was 26.7 kilograms per meter squared (kg/m2) (overweight).
1st Jul 2022 - CIDRAP

New York City Ends Its Coronavirus Alert System as Cases Rise

New York City health officials have ended its Covid-19 alert system that informed residents about periods of higher transmission of the virus. The change took place this week and visitors to the city’s website are now met with a message that reads: “We are evaluating the city’s COVID Alert system. Before the color-coded alert categorization was dropped, the city was last at a ‘medium risk level’ on Tuesday with New Yorkers being encouraged to continue wearing a mask in public indoor setting
1st Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

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US FDA wants COVID boosters targeting Omicron BA.4, BA.5 subvariants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday recommended COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers change the design of their booster shots beginning this fall to include components tailored to combat the currently dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the coronavirus. If authorized, the changes would mark the first major retooling of COVID vaccines, but also could slow their rollout as the FDA has recommended a design somewhat different from what the companies had already tested and started producing.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

WHO urges Southeast Asia to scale up Covid vaccination rate as case rise

Amid an incessant rise in Covid cases, the World Health Organization called on countries in the South-East Asian region to accelerate COVID-19 vaccination coverage today. While significant progress has been made in the region towards vaccinating populations against COVID-19, several countries missed the global target to fully vaccinate 70 per cent of their total population with all primary doses of the vaccine by June end responsible for various regions witnessing a surge in cases. "We know that the current COVID-19 vaccines provide high levels of protection against severe disease and death for all variants. We must focus on rapidly achieving high vaccination coverage prioritizing health workers, older adults, those with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women. The pandemic is not over yet, we must scale up our efforts to protect communities," said Regional Director, WHO (South-East Asia), Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh in an official statement.
1st Jul 2022 - Business Standard

COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 5–11 years

When considering risks, post-implementation studies have found BNT162b2 to be safe in children aged 5–11 years.17 Importantly, the small but serious risk of vaccine-induced myocarditis appears to be much lower in children aged 5–11 years (reporting rate of 2·2 cases per million doses) than in adolescents or young adults.17 Implementation of a large-scale immunisation programme, however, comes with both financial and opportunity costs—for example, diversion of health-care staff and resources could potentially affect the provision of other crucial health-care services, such as routine childhood immunisation programmes. Clinicians and parents must balance the relatively small risks of severe disease outcomes with the relatively small risks that accompany vaccination in children aged 5–11 years. Although many countries continue to actively recommend COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 5–11 years, some countries, such as Sweden, have advised against vaccinating healthy 5–11 year-olds,18 whereas others, such as Norway, have made the vaccine available should parents wish to vaccinate their children.19 With the US Food and Drug Administration authorisation of use of COVID-19 vaccines in children younger than 5 years,20 the same dilemmas are likely to resurface, although with even more marginal risk–benefit ratios. In particular, considering that the global population has been living through the pandemic for more than 2 years and has been exposed to multiple waves of different SARS-CoV-2 variants, governments, policy makers, and clinicians need to urgently address the added value of vaccination—be it primary or boosters—for protection against severe disease outcomes in children who have already been infected by the virus. Above all, public messaging of the risks and benefits of vaccinating children against COVID-19 needs to be clear to encourage public confidence in vaccines and trust in those advocating for vaccination to prevent other, more serious diseases.
1st Jul 2022 - The Lancet

PHA urges public to come forward for spring booster of Covid-19 vaccine

The Public Health Agency is asking those with a weakened immune system to book in for their Covid-19 vaccines, warning that the virus "is still out there". All individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed are being advised to receive a spring booster dose of the vaccine, typically six months after their last dose. Health officials say the vaccine offers the "best defence against becoming seriously unwell, staying out of hospital and passing on the virus to loved ones and others around you". In an open letter to the public from the PHA, it's been confirmed that the spring booster vaccination programme will shortly be coming to an end.
1st Jul 2022 - Belfast Live

Modified mRNA COVID shots could increase protection as boosters - EMA

Coronavirus vaccines tweaked to include the Omicron variant strain can improve protection when used as a booster, the European Medicines Agency and other global health regulators said on Friday. Following a meeting on Thursday, the EMA said global regulators had agreed on key principles for updating COVID-19 shots to respond to emerging variants. While the existing coronavirus vaccines continue to provide good protection against hospitalisation and death, the group said, vaccine effectiveness has taken a hit as the virus has evolved.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

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COVID-19 boosters recommended for the fall, Canada's vaccine advisory body says

People at high risk of severe disease from COVID-19 infection should be offered a booster shot this fall, regardless of how many boosters they've previously received, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said on Wednesday. That group includes everyone age 65 and older, NACI's updated guidance said. Everyone else — age 12 to 64 — "may be offered" the additional doses in the fall, NACI said. NACI said it will provide recommendations on the type of booster to be given when evidence about multivalent vaccines — which prime the body's defences against multiple variants, including Omicron and its subvariants — becomes available. "Manufacturers are working on new COVID-19 vaccines, including multivalent vaccines and vaccines specifically targeting VOCs [variants of concern], although their exact characteristics and timing of availability in Canada are not yet known," NACI said
30th Jun 2022 - CBC News

Covid-19: Canada outperformed comparable nations in pandemic response, study reports

Canada performed better than the majority of G10 countries in its response to the first two years of the covid-19 pandemic, a study has concluded. A paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that Canadians were better vaccinated than comparable western countries, with fewer infections, fewer covid deaths, and lower mortality from all causes. Researchers from the University of Toronto, some of whom are members of Ontario’s covid-19 science advisory board, linked the country’s lower death rate to the persistence of its social restrictions and the relative lack of antivaccine sentiment. The study compared responses from the 11 countries in the G10, comprising Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. Japan was an extreme outlier, with by far the fewest deaths and infections despite having the oldest population and imposing the mildest restrictions.
30th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

US FDA wants COVID boosters targeting Omicron BA.4, BA.5 subvariants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday recommended COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers change the design of their booster shots beginning this fall to include components tailored to combat the currently dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the coronavirus. If authorized, the changes would mark the first major retooling of COVID vaccines, but also could slow their rollout as the FDA has recommended a design somewhat different from what the companies had already tested and started producing.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

NYC to Offer Pfizer's Covid Drug at Mobile Test-to-Treat Sites

New York City will start offering Pfizer Inc.’s Covid antiviral Paxlovid at “first of its kind” mobile test-to-treat sites across the city, providing immediate treatment for those who test positive for the virus. Initially, mobile sites will be stationed outside of pharmacies in Inwood, South Ozone Park and the East Bronx, and will expand to 30 locations by the end of July, Manhattan’s Borough President Mark Levine said on Twitter Thursday. People who test positive for Covid and qualify for Paxlovid will be able to get a prescription on-the-spot, which they can take to a nearby pharmacy to pick up the drug. By the end of the summer, officials plan to bypass pharmacies entirely, offering Paxlovid directly through the mobile sites.
30th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

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Which COVID-19 Vaccine Should Your Young Kid Get? That Depends, Doctors Say

COVID-19 vaccines for some of the youngest children in the U.S. are now rolling out, and parents are faced with a new question: Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech? Both of the mRNA shots—which are now authorized for kids ages 6 months and up—are effective at preventing severe illness, and they both help prevent symptomatic infections. They offer vital protection in this age group, even for kids who have already recovered from COVID-19. The vaccines “provide protection against a broader variety of variants than [a previous] infection, which generally provides protection mostly against the variant that you had,” says Dr. Alissa Kahn, a pediatric hematologist and oncologist in Paterson, N.J.
29th Jun 2022 - TIME

Doctors treat first UK patient in Covid ‘super donor’ blood trial

Doctors have treated the first UK patient in a reopened clinical trial that will explore whether blood plasma from “super donors” can help fight Covid in those with weakened immune systems. Super donors produce exceptionally high levels of antibodies after infection and vaccination, and there are hopes that transfusions of their blood plasma can wipe out the virus in people whose own immune systems are compromised. While two landmark trials known as Recovery and Remap-Cap found that convalescent plasma from people who recovered from Covid did not benefit other patients, a closer look at the Remap-Cap data showed that plasma with the highest levels of antibodies might help the immunosuppressed. The findings prompted doctors to reopen the plasma arm of the Remap-Cap trial to investigate specifically whether donated plasma with extremely high levels of antibodies can save the lives of people with weakened immune systems and reduce the amount of time they spend in intensive care.
30th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Covid: Face masks brought back at Nottinghamshire hospital sites

Face masks have been reintroduced at some Nottinghamshire hospitals just two weeks after they were dropped. Mask policy had been relaxed in all but high-risk areas of Sherwood Forest Hospitals' three sites as part of a phased return to pre-pandemic policies. But a rise in covid cases among staff and patients at King's Mill, Newark and Mansfield Community hospitals has led to the decision being reversed. Bosses said they would keep face mask and visiting requirements under review.
29th Jun 2022 - BBC News

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EnGeneIC’s second generation COVID-19 vaccine protects against all variants

The world’s first COVID-19 vaccine to offer immunity against all variants is one step closer. Clinical trials have shown the novel vaccine works by stimulating a completely different immune pathway from other vaccines, producing “high affinity” antibodies that neutralise all COVID-19 variants. Australian Biopharma company EnGeneIC is currently conducting trials of its groundbreaking vaccine in Sydney and Melbourne. Thirty-two healthy participants received two doses, three weeks apart. Of those, 27 have passed the 28-day safety assessment with no side effects. Critically, they all have high affinity antibodies capable of neutralising all COVID-19 mutants, including Omicron.
28th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

EU countries prolong COVID-19 certificates amid rising cases

European Union countries approved Tuesday extending the use of COVID-19 certificates by one year until the end of June 2023 as cases of the deadly virus start to grow again ahead of the summer holiday season. Aimed at facilitating travel across the 27-nation bloc during the pandemic, the certificates entered into force in July last year and have been a successful tool to help EU citizens move in the region in coronavirus times without restrictions such as quarantines. EU countries have issued nearly 2 billion certificates. The document attests that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or that they have a recent negative test result or have recovered from the infection. The European Council said the regulation can be lifted earlier. But after most EU countries removed coronavirus restrictions over the past months in light of the improved health situation, a recent increase in infections fueled by new variants is leading governments to rethink their strategies.
28th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Covid-19: Rise in cases prompts 'stay home if unwell' advice

People are asked to stay home if unwell because of suspected rises in Covid-19 cases. Health bosses in Devon and Cornwall say official data suggests between 2.2% and 2.7% of people in the counties have the virus. People are being reminded to protect themselves and others, and remember the virus "is very much still here"
28th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Covid pandemic not over warns Northamptonshire health experts

Health experts have warned the Covid-19 pandemic "isn't over", as a county saw cases rise by 20% in a week and an increase in people going to hospital. In the week to 22 June, Northamptonshire has 886 cases, up from 736 in the previous week. The county's two councils said two new subvariants of Omicron appeared to be more infectious than other variants. Sally Burns, interim director of Public Health for West Northamptonshire, said people should "take precautions". Both North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire councils said there was an increase in hospital admissions from the rise in cases. Northampton General has 16 people in hospital with Covid-19 - an increase from 13 in the previous week, and Kettering General has 21 in hospital - a rise from 17.
28th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Pfizer, Moderna to be ready with BA.1-specific COVID boosters

Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc said on Tuesday they will be ready with COVID-19 vaccines designed to combat the BA.1 Omicron variant that was dominant last winter earlier than those designed to target currently dominant subvariants. Moderna said it would be ready with a "couple of hundred million" of bivalent vaccines designed to combat BA.1 by September, but it would be late October or early November if the vaccine maker needed to design a vaccine to combat the currently dominant BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

How do I know if I've had COVID-19, and what else can antibody blood tests tell us about past infection?

Antibody blood tests can tell you if you've had COVID-19, but there are some caveats. COVID-19 antibodies naturally dwindle over time, so if they turn up in your blood test, their levels can't tell you exactly how long ago you were infected — just that you were infected sometime in the past few months. "We think now [the test] is a useful marker of fairly recent infection, as opposed to whether you've ever been infected," Dr Machalek says.
28th Jun 2022 - ABC News

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Should you get a COVID-19 booster shot now or wait until fall? Two immunologists help weigh the options

While COVID-19 vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, it has become clear that the protection offered by the current vaccines wanes over time. This necessitates the use of booster shots that are safe and effective in enhancing the immune response against the virus and extending protection. But when to get a first or second booster, and which shot to choose, are open questions. Many people find themselves unsure whether to wait on new, updated formulations of the COVID-19 vaccines or to mix and match combinations of the original vaccine strains. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, uses its knob-shaped spike protein to gain entry into cells and to cause infection. Each of the existing and upcoming vaccines relies on emulating the spike protein to trigger the immune response. However, each vaccine type presents the spike protein to the immune system in different ways.
27th Jun 2022 - The Conversation

Children to get free flu vaccines, second Covid-19 booster eligibility expanded

Health Minister Andrew Little said the government was expanding access to the flu vaccine after noticing an increase in pre-schoolers hospitalised with the illness. "We're making free flu shots available to another 800,000 New Zealanders, including children, more of whom are having to go to hospital," Little said. "Free flu shots are already available for everyone over the age of 65 and those at risk of becoming seriously ill or who have underlying conditions. "This season we ordered 40 per cent more vaccines. We've already seen more than one million New Zealanders get a flu shot, but with significant pressure on our health system we're ramping up efforts to get as many people vaccinated as possible."
27th Jun 2022 - RNZ

Kuwait mulls optional fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Kuwait is expected to soon introduce an optional fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine. According to local newspapers, the Ministry of Health is set to make an official statement on the availability of the fourth dose of the vaccine. The fourth dose, in accordance with regulations, will be provided to groups most vulnerable to infection, who are suffering from chronic diseases, elderly. The dose will be for those who wish to be vaccinated. The booster dose is given to avoid complications when infected. It is important to follow precautionary measures and continue to adhere to health instructionsm, the ministry reminded. The government in May announced the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Travellers to the country are no longer needed to take a PCR test or provide proof of vaccination.
27th Jun 2022 - Gulf News

More free COVID-19 rapid tests for kids to be handed out in July

The government will provide more free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests in July for children under the age of 7 years, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday. Starting July 1, families with children born on or after Sept. 2, 2015 will be eligible to collect the free tests at any of the approximately 5,000 designated pharmacies participating in the government's rapid test rationing program. Five free rapid tests will be allocated for each child in the under-7 age category, the CECC said, adding that parents must show the child's health insurance (NHI) card at the pharmacy. In the first round of free test distribution in June, some 780,000 families with children under the age of 7 years received free rapid test kits, accounting for 60 percent of the eligible age group, according to the CECC.
27th Jun 2022 - Focus Taiwan News Channel

Covid-19: Hong Kong extends social distancing rules to July 13, as experts call for border restrictions to be eased

Hong Kong’s current social distancing rules will be extended until July 13, the government has announced. “In view of the latest epidemic trend and given that the effective period of the measures in the coming cycle will span to the next government term, having consulted the Chief Executive-elect’s Office and with its consent, the Government decided to extend the existing social distancing measures for 14 days with effect from June 30,” the government said in a press release on Monday.
27th Jun 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press

Casino hub Macau launches third round of COVID testing as infections rise

Macau launched a third round of mandatory COVID-19 testing for its more than 600,000 residents on Monday, in a push to curb a rise in infections in the world's biggest gambling hub. Authorities in Macau have locked down multiple buildings and put more than 5,000 people in quarantine in the past few days, the city's government said. Health authorities said 38 new COVID cases were recorded on Sunday, taking the total number of infections to 299 in the latest outbreak.
27th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Pakistan orders masks on domestic flights as COVID numbers rise

Pakistan’s aviation regulator has made masks mandatory on domestic flights given a gradual rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, it said a statement. The order comes a day after Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, reported that its COVID-19 positivity ratio, or the rate of positive cases out of all tests conducted, rose to 21% compared with a national rate of 2.8%. "With immediate effect, mask wearing will be mandatory onboard domestic flights,” the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said in the statement late on Sunday.
27th Jun 2022 - Reuters

COVID-19: People in France 'should wear masks again on public transport' as new coronavirus wave hits nation

People in France should wear masks again in crowded areas, particularly if they are on public transport, to help tackle a new COVID-19 wave, according to the country's health minister. The increase in coronavirus cases is being fuelled by new variants, with 17,601 fresh infections over the past 24 hours - the highest Monday figure since 18 April. It comes as the number of people in England's hospitals who have tested positive for COVID jumped by more than a third in a week.
27th Jun 2022 - Sky News

Covid-booster response hope for most vulnerable

More than a million vulnerable people could improve their protection against Covid by taking a short break from medication after a booster jab, a trial suggests. It found stopping the common immune-suppressing drug methotrexate for two weeks doubled spike antibody levels for up to 12 weeks. Some people experienced disease flare-ups but no impact on quality of life. Research is needed to find out if a similar approach works for other drugs. Patients should always consult their doctor or specialist hospital team before pausing their medication, scientists writing in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine said.
27th Jun 2022 - BBC News

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Thais 'willing' to wear masks in public

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed satisfaction over news that most Thais are voluntarily wearing masks for protection against Covid-19 despite the mask mandate being lifted on Thursday. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, government spokesman, on Saturday said the PM expressed concern about the health of the public as coronavirus infection risks remained. The Department of Disease Control (DDC) recommends that people with underlying conditions, the elderly and pregnant women who have yet to get boosters keep wearing masks.
26th Jun 2022 - ฺBangkok Post

Coronavirus work from home warning as spring boosters 'drop off'

Coronavirus has been branded ‘concerning’ again in Manchester amid soaring case numbers ‘across all ages’, according to public health chiefs. The rise comes as there has been a significant ‘dropoff’ of eligible people coming forward to get spring Covid-19 vaccination booster jabs. The health bosses warned that people should work from home and children should stay at home from school if they have symptoms to prevent the spread. Greater Manchester doctors have also sounded alarms that another Covid wave could be hitting the region, saying 'next Covid wave inbound? Staff, patients, colleagues, friends, family, neighbours all succumbing again'.
25th Jun 2022 - Manchester Evening News

Argentines not too keen on taking Covid-19 booster shots

Argentine health authorities have reported that. although the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, fewer people showed up for their boosted dose of vaccine, due to a false low-risk perception which makes coverage not sufficient. While over 82% of the population has taken a full two-shot scheme, additional jabs have been skipped persistently despite the increase in the number of cases during May. Scientists insist these injections are the best way to prevent infection, severe symptoms, and possible death. “The low compliance of the population to get the fourth dose has a lot to do with the messages that have been installed in relation to covid during these last months.
25th Jun 2022 - Uruguay News

Expert on why you need your covid booster jab now to keep safe this winter

England’s leading NHS medic is urging those eligible for a spring booster but yet to come forward to take up the offer as soon as possible as a quarter of a million reminders go out before the end of the month. The largest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history has now invited everyone eligible for a spring booster and more than four in five people have already had their jab. The NHS has invited more than five million people in total to get their spring booster in line with JCVI guidance as part of the world-leading NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme. It is urging anyone yet to come forward for a spring dose to do so as soon as practically possible. More than four million people and around 86% of those aged 75 and over have already had their spring dose. Those who are eligible include older adult care home residents, people aged 75 and over and those who are immunosuppressed.
25th Jun 2022 - Daily Post Wales

UK prepares to include over-50s in autumn Covid booster campaign

The UK government is getting ready to roll out Covid-19 booster jabs to all adults aged over 50, in a broader autumn campaign than its vaccine advisers had previously suggested. Under provisional guidance issued last month, only care home residents, the over-65s, frontline health and social workers and vulnerable younger people would be eligible for the next round of vaccines. But Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary, told the Financial Times that he had asked his team “to be ready for it to be over-50s and above."
25th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

Some Chinese cities relax COVID testing mandates

Several Chinese cities have scrapped or relaxed their COVID-19 testing mandates after China emerged from its worst regional outbreaks, with officials told not to cause too much disruption to people's lives while staying vigilant about the virus.
24th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Covid Resurgence Across UK, Europe Driven by Omicron Subvariants

Covid infection rates are rising again in the UK and across much of Europe, driven by newer versions of the omicron variant, amid concerns that another wave will disrupt businesses and add to pressure on health systems. In England, the estimated number of people testing positive for Covid-19 climbed to almost 1.4 million -- about 1 in 40 people -- in the week ending June 18, according to an Office for National Statistics report published Friday. That compares with around 1 in 50 people in the prior week. In Scotland, the estimate in the latest week increased to around 1 in 20 people.
24th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

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Scientists probe Japan's remarkable COVID success in hunt for new vaccine to protect some of the most vulnerable

Japan's notable coronavirus pandemic resilience has generated scores of possible explanations, from the country's preference for going shoeless indoors, to the purportedly low-aerosol-generating nature of Japan's quiet conversation, to its citizens' beneficial gut bacteria. Even irreligiousness — said to have spared the Japanese from exposure to crowded houses of worship — has been touted as a virtue in the age of COVID-19. Despite having the world's oldest population, with almost one in three residents 65 or older, Japan has had fewer COVID fatalities per capita than almost any other developed nation.
23rd Jun 2022 - CBS News

Omicron-specific COVID vaccines on the horizon, Pfizer chief says

COVID-19 vaccines that specifically target the Omicron and other variants are under development, Pfizer Inc's (PFE.N) chief executive said on Wednesday, adding that the company will be able to quickly adapt shots as the novel coronavirus mutates. While the ultimate approval decisions rest with U.S. regulatos, "we are ready for that," the drugmaker's CEO Albert Bourla told MSNBC in an interview, noting that the Food and Drug Administration is convening a meeting later this month.
23rd Jun 2022 - Reuters.com

Eric Adams Stopped Enforcing Covid Vaccine Mandate for NYC Businesses

Mayor Eric Adams of New York City has not enforced the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for employees at private businesses, and has no plans to begin inspecting businesses or begin fining those that are not in compliance. Newsday first reported on the lack of enforcement of the vaccine mandate for private employers. “We have been focused on prioritizing education instead of enforcement when it comes to the private sector mandate, which is how we’ve been able to get more than 87 percent of all New Yorkers with their first dose to date,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, said in an email. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a vaccine mandate for employees at private businesses in December, the most far-reaching local measure in the United States at the time. The mandate applied to around 184,000 businesses of all sizes with employees who work on-site in New York City.
23rd Jun 2022 - The New York Times

Over-60s urged to coronavirus vaccine top-up as new cases mount

Healthcare minister Ernst Kuipers has called on the general public to stick to the basic coronavirus rules and urged the over-60s who have not yet had a second booster vaccination to come forward. So far, just 40% to 59% of people entitled to a fourth vaccination (herhaalprik) have taken up the offer, depending on where they live. Extra measures to control the spread of the virus are not yet needed, the minister told reporters after a meeting of cabinet ministers which was called to discuss the rising infection rate.
23rd Jun 2022 - DutchNews.nl

Austria scraps COVID vaccine mandate, says it split society

Austria’s health minister announced Thursday that the country is scrapping a dormant coronavirus vaccine mandate, saying the measure risked polarizing society and could even lead to fewer people getting the shot. The government announced plans last year requiring all people aged 18 and over to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the first country in Europe to do so. The law took effect in February but lawmakers suspended the mandate before police were due to enforce it in mid-March. Health Minister Johannes Rauch said the rise of new virus variants had changed citizens’ perception of the effectiveness and necessity of a vaccination, even among those willing to get the shot. This could deter them from voluntarily getting booster shots that will help curb the outbreak in the fall, he said. “The vaccine mandate hinders some people who are generally willing to get the shot from taking the booster, the idea being: I’m not going to be told what to do,” said Rauch.
23rd Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Denmark to offer fourth COVID vaccine dose to people over 50 years

Denmark plans to offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose in the autumn to those who are over 50 years old, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday as she announced a strategy to curb the spread of the disease over the coming months. Although COVID infections are still at low levels, Denmark has seen an increase in the number of cases after the new BA.5 subvariant of Omicron, which seems to spread more quickly than other variants, became dominant in the Nordic country.
23rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

South Africa repeals COVID rules as fifth wave fades

South Africa has repealed COVID-19 rules that made masks mandatory in indoor public spaces, limited the size of gatherings and imposed entry requirements at its borders, the health minister said on Thursday. South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths on the African continent, with over 3.9 million confirmed infections and more than 101,000 deaths. Minister Joe Phaahla said authorities had noted a decline in cases, hospitalisations and reported deaths and concluded that a limited fifth wave was dissipating.
23rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 Vaccines Prevented 20 Million Deaths in One Year: Study

Covid vaccines that were developed in record time saved an estimated 20 million lives in the first year of the rollout, more than half of them in wealthier countries, according to the first study of its kind to quantify the impact. While more than 7 million deaths were likely averted in countries covered by Covax, the World Health Organization-backed distribution program, the research nonetheless highlights the devastation caused by uneven access. About one in five lives lost due to Covid in poorer countries could have been prevented if WHO targets had been reached, data published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal show.
23rd Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

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Manitoba government launches survey on COVID-19 immunization plans for children under 5

Manitoba is seeking input on its plans to vaccinate children under the age of five against COVID-19. Vaccines for children aged six months to four years old could be approved by Health Canada this summer. In anticipation of this, the province has launched a survey asking for feedback on how the rollout should look, particularly from parents with children in this age group, says a news release form the province.
22nd Jun 2022 - MSN.com

Covid-19: Risk of mutated variants among immunocompromised patients, new study shows

Immunocompromised patients tend to develop chronic coronavirus infections, leading to highly mutated variants that bear multiple antibody-resistant mutations, according to a new study carried out by a research team at Tel Aviv University, Israel. The study involved an examination of chronic COVID-19 patients at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (“Ichilov Hospital”) and was published this week in Nature Medicine. The researchers found that a weakened antibody response, particular in the lower airways of these chronic patients, may prevent full recovery from the virus and drive the virus to mutate many times during a lengthy infection. They explained that the virus’ ability to survive and reproduce in the immunosuppressed patient’s body without restriction leads to the evolution of many variants.
22nd Jun 2022 - The Brussels Times

US babies, toddlers get their first COVID-19 shots

Babies and toddlers began getting the COVID-19 vaccine in thighs and arms across the United States on Tuesday, in many cases in front of cameras and a masked cheering audience.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Moderna CEO: COVID variant vaccine to be ready for shipping in August

Moderna's COVID-19 variant vaccine will be ready to ship in August as the company has been making shots ahead of approval, Chief Executive Stephane Bancel told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that the only bottleneck to supply was a regulatory one. "Our goal is as early as August given we're going to file all the data in June, by the end of June... hopefully in the August timeframe, the vaccine is authorised," Bancel said in an interview.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Denmark to offer fourth COVID vaccine dose to people over 50 years

Denmark plans to offer a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose in the autumn to those who are over 50 years old, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday as she announced a strategy to curb the spread of the disease over the coming months. Although COVID infections are still at low levels, Denmark has seen an increase in the number of cases after the new BA.5 subvariant of Omicron, which seems to spread more quickly than other variants, became dominant in the Nordic country.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

France is facing a new COVID-19 wave - French vaccination chief

France is facing a new wave of COVID-19 infections fuelled by new variants of the disease, French vaccination chief Alain Fischer said on Wednesday, as daily new cases reached an almost two-month peak the day before at more than 95,000. Speaking on France 2 television, he said there was no doubt there was once again an upsurge of the pandemic in the country, adding he was personally in favour of reinstating mandatory face mask wearing on public transport.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

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Wrist-worn trackers can detect Covid before symptoms, study finds

Health trackers worn on the wrist could be used to spot Covid-19 days before any symptoms appear, according to researchers. Growing numbers of people worldwide use the devices to monitor changes in skin temperature, heart and breathing rates. Now a new study shows that this data could be combined with artificial intelligence (AI) to diagnose Covid-19 even before the first tell-tale signs of the disease appear. “Wearable sensor technology can enable Covid-19 detection during the presymptomatic period,” the researchers concluded. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Open. The discovery could lead to health trackers being adapted with AI to detect Covid-19 early, simply by spotting basic physiological changes.
22nd Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Indonesia Tightens Screening at Large Events as Covid Cases Rise

Indonesia is tightening guidelines around organizing large-scale events to minimize the spread of Covid-19 virus as new cases increased to a two-month high. Participants should be fully vaccinated in order to attend events involving 1,000 people or more, while unvaccinated children are discouraged from joining, Covid-19 Task Force Spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said in a briefing Tuesday. The new directive takes effect immediately, and a regulation detailing all the measures will be issued shortly. “The rise in infections is unavoidable as people’s mobility increases, regardless of the variants,” Adisasmito said.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

'Should all Koreans receive 4th Covid-19 vaccine shot?'

The quarantine authorities are considering expanding the fourth Covid-19 vaccine shots to all people based on domestic quarantine situations and research results at home and abroad, officials said Tuesday. "If the immunity level falls quickly, a virus resurge can also come quickly. However, we could put off the resurge depending on the immunity level," said Lim Sook-young, a senior official at the Central Disease Control Headquarters (CDCH). "I think the strategy for vaccination is very important." In preparation for strains that may become prevalent in the second half of the year, the government will respond and prepare by focusing on how to implement vaccination, inject therapeutic agents at the right time, and develop strategies to strengthen surveillance for new variants, Lim added. The authorities confirmed a positive antibody rate of 94.9 percent through a survey but expected the immune effect to decline in the fall, making additional vaccination inevitable.
21st Jun 2022 - KBR

U.S. to begin vaccinating young children against covid

Eighteen months after a New York nurse received the first U.S. coronavirus vaccination, immunizations became available Tuesday for about 19 million children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, the last group of Americans to be afforded that protection. Pediatricians, drugstores, hospitals and community vaccination centers began to administer first doses of two vaccines to children: the Pfizer-BioNTech product to children ages 6 months through 4 years; and the Moderna vaccine to children 6 months through 5 years old.
21st Jun 2022 - The Washington Post

Afrigen, Univercells Team Up to Develop African Covid Vaccine

South African biotech company Afrigen Biologics will work with a Belgian partner to develop the first African-owned Covid-19 shot as part of a broader effort to reduce the continent’s reliance on other regions for vaccines. Afrigen and the Univercells Group aim to build on expertise developed through the World Health Organization’s messenger RNA vaccine hub, the companies said in a statement Tuesday. Afrigen, based in Cape Town, said it’s working to facilitate the production of mRNA vaccines at more than 15 manufacturing sites in low- and middle-income nations across the world. Africa, which imports about 99% of all the shots it needs, was left far behind wealthier nations in securing shots during the pandemic with manufacturing concentrated in just a handful of countries. The partners said they’ll seek to develop vaccines that are cheaper to produce and easier to store and distribute in rural and remote locations where few people have been vaccinated.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Ainos COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test Receives Approval for Sale in Taiwan

Ainos, Inc. a diversified medtech company focused on the development of novel point-of-care testing, low-dose interferon therapeutics, and synthetic RNA-driven preventative medicine, today announced that the Company has begun marketing the Ainos SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Self-Test (“COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test Kit” or “the Test”) under an Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) issued by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (“TFDA”) on June 13, 2022 to Taiwan Carbon Nano Technology Corporation (“TCNT”), the manufacturer and product co-developer of the Test in conjunction with Ainos. Ainos is the exclusive master sales and marketing agent for the COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test Kit.
21st Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

UK scientists urge higher uptake of Covid boosters among elderly

Around a fifth of people aged 75 and over in England have yet to have a fourth Covid jab, data suggests, leading to calls for a renewed push for vaccination of the vulnerable amid rising infections and hospitalisations. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in the week ending 11 June an estimated one in 50 people in England had Covid – about 1.13 million people – a rise from 1 in 70 the week before. Upticks have also been seen in the rest of the UK, while hospitalisations are also rising. The resurgence is thought to be down to a rise in Omicron variants including BA.4 and BA.5, although scientists say other factors may also be at play, including a return to pre-pandemic behaviour, and waning immunity.
21st Jun 2022 - The Guardian

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How common is long COVID? Why studies give different answers

Clinical epidemiologist Ziyad Al-Aly has access to a treasure trove that many researchers can only dream of: millions of sets of electronic medical records from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which provides health care for the country’s military veterans. With this data in hand, Al-Aly, who is based at the VA St. Louis Healthcare System in Missouri, and his colleagues have delved into the long-term effects of COVID-19, from cardiovascular illness1 to diabetes2. They have also undertaken the challenge of studying long COVID — a condition in which people experience symptoms months after an acute SARS-CoV-2 infection seems to have resolved — and recently published findings3 that surprised some researchers.
20th Jun 2022 - Nature

Singapore Urges Elderly to Take Boosters as New Covid Wave Looms

Singapore is expecting a fresh wave of Covid-19 cases in the next one to two months, its health minister reiterated, urging thousands of elderly to get their booster shots to avoid the risk of serious illness. About 80,000 people aged 60 years and above had not yet taken their boosters, Ong Ye Kung said in a video posted on Facebook Monday, adding that the third shot drastically reduced the chances of needing intensive care or dying among seniors. “You need to take your boosters. So don’t delay anymore,” Ong said.
20th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Over-75s urged to get Covid booster jab as cases rise

Over-75s and people at high risk have been urged to get a Covid booster vaccine, amid warnings of a new wave of infections in Scotland. The spring booster jab is available until 30 June to everyone in the older age group and people over 12 if they have a weakened immune system. About a third of Scots in the immunosuppressed group have not yet come forward for an additional vaccine.
20th Jun 2022 - BBC News

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German health minister pushes fourth COVID shot ahead of autumn wave

There will not be another attempt to make COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory, said German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, while making the case for more people to get a second booster shot. Anyone who is often in contact with others and wants to protect themselves and others should consider a fourth shot, regardless of age, said Lauterbach. Some 80% of Germany's over-60s have not had their fourth COVID-19 shot, he added.
18th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Over-75s urged to get Covid booster jab as cases rise

Over-75s and people at high risk have been urged to get a Covid booster vaccine, amid warnings of a new wave of infections in Scotland. The spring booster jab is available until 30 June to everyone in the older age group and people over 12 if they have a weakened immune system. About a third of Scots in the immunosuppressed group have not yet come forward for an additional vaccine. Latest data estimates that around one in 30 people in Scotland has Covid. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 176,900 people have the virus - about 3.36% of the population.
19th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Canada seeing rise in COVID-19 subvariants. Could this lead to a summer surge?

Canada is seeing an increase in several fast-spreading COVID-19 variants that have been fuelling new outbreaks in the United States and Europe, Canada’s top doctors said Friday. The BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the virus, which are subvariants of Omicron, have been detected in Canada since May, and the BA.2.12 subvariant has been showing growth in the country since March. On Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, made note of the rise in the number of these cases in the country and said that these subvariants have “demonstrated a growth advantage and additional immune escape” over Omicron and other strains of the virus. “COVID-19 has shown us over the past few years that there may be more surprises ahead,” Tam said during the briefing.
18th Jun 2022 - Global News

How Japan achieved one of the worlds lowest Covid-19 death rates

Article reports that Japan’s Covid-19 death rate is the lowest among the world’s wealthiest nations, with health experts pointing to continued mask wearing, extensive vaccination and an already healthy population as the core factors behind its success. The population has continued to adhere to basic infection control measures, including avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated venues, as other parts of the world grapple with pandemic fatigue. And Japan’s measures have been bolstered by a robust vaccination program and free medical care
18th Jun 2022 - Business Standard

Can China revive its COVID-hit economy?

The Chinese government has announced a 33-point stimulus plan to put the economy back on track. China has been the biggest source of global economic growth for the past 20 years. And it has long defied predictions it would soon hit a wall. But, strict COVID lockdowns, a crackdown on tech companies and a real estate slump are challenging the world’s second-largest economy’s expansion. Many financial institutions predict growth will fall well short of Beijing’s target of about 5.5 percent this year, for the first time in decades. Elsewhere, the United Kingdom plans to scrap parts of the post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union. But, can it do so? And how will businesses be affected?
19th Jun 2022 - Al Jazeera English

The covid waves continue to come

We are just over five months into 2022 and have already seen two record highs of coronavirus infection in England, with population prevalence peaking at 7% in early January (omicron BA.1) and 8% in late March (omicron BA.2).1 After eight weeks of declining prevalence, infections have started to increase again with the rise of yet another set of omicron variants. Instead of just one new variant, we currently have four: BA.2.12.1 (dominant in the US), BA.4 and BA.5 (dominant in South Africa), and BA.5.1 (dominant in Portugal). Together, these four variants became dominant in England in early June,2 and it looks as if BA.5 and BA.5.1 will likely win out to become the overall dominant variants.3 So what does this mean for the shorter and longer term? In the short term, we will see another wave of infections here, likely peaking at the end of June/early July. South Africa’s BA.4/5 wave has now passed, with fewer hospital admissions and deaths than in their BA.1 wave in December.
18th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

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More South Australians now able to test for different viruses at COVID drive-through sites

More vulnerable South Australians will now be able to test for 12 different viruses, such as influenza, alongside their COVID-19 tests. The test can detect a dozen viruses including COVID, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. Flu cases are skyrocketing in SA. The multi-virus tests take about 24 hours to process SA Pathology has doubled its multi-virus testing from 500 to 1,000 a day to support doctors to give early diagnosis and treatment to at-risk patients. Tests are available at drive-through testing clinics and at private pathologies with a GP referral, which can also be obtained via telehealth. Health Minister Chris Picton said multi-virus testing has been available since the start of the pandemic, but spiking flu cases have prompted health authorities to provide more testing.
17th Jun 2022 - ABC News

China top Covid-19 fighter calls for all-in-one data portal like Europe’s EpiPulse

Two-and-a-half years after China's first Covid-19 cases, leading epidemiologist Liang Wannian has proposed the setting up of an EU-like integrated monitoring and early reporting system for a speedy response to future outbreaks. The current data collection process is "complex and fragmented", said Liang, head of China's Covid-19 response team, as he called for the different monitoring systems to be rolled into an all-in-one network. This would cover not only human health data but also animal farm and waste water monitoring inputs, to help identify novel pathogens and provide seamless access to data on a single platform.
16th Jun 2022 - MSN.com

WHO: COVID-19 deaths rise, reversing a 5-week decline

After five weeks of declining coronavirus deaths, the number of fatalities reported globally increased by 4% last week, according to the World Health Organization. In its weekly assessment of the pandemic issued on Thursday, the U.N. health agency said there were 8,700 COVID-19 deaths last week, with a 21% jump in the Americas and a 17% increase in the Western Pacific. WHO said coronavirus cases continued to fall, with about 3.2 million new cases reported last week, extending a decline in COVID-19 infections since the peak in January. Still, there were significant spikes of infection in some regions, with the Middle East and Southeast Asia reporting increases of 58% and 33% respectively.
16th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Shanghai orders mass COVID testing each weekend until end-July

Shanghai will require all of its 16 districts to organise mass COVID testing for residents every weekend until the end of July, a city official said on Wednesday. Zhao Dandan said that said that all districts will organise "community screenings" each weekend. Should a district find any community transmission during the week, it will be required to conduct a full screening during which all residents will be subjected to "closed management" movement restrictions until testing is over, he added.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters

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Vaccine makers claims efficacy against Omicron variant of Covid-19

With Omicron and its sub-variants spreading rapidly across the globe, vaccine makers have started claiming efficacy of their Covid-19 vaccines against this Sars-CoV-2 variant.
15th Jun 2022 - Business Standard

Hong Kong RAT proof nothing to get hungover about

Try as Hong Kong might, the number of daily Covid-19 cases remains stubbornly high. In an effort to reduce them in time for celebrations of the city’s 25th anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, patrons of pubs, bars and clubs are from Thursday required to show proof of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result. It is an understandable move given such places are behind half a dozen recent clusters in entertainment districts involving hundreds of people. Random raids by police of numerous premises have led to dozens of fines and temporary closures for the violation of rules. Authorities have opted for the RAT strategy rather than rolling back a phased reopening of social and economic activity. The last of three stages remains to be implemented, but outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor contends circumstances are not right for that to happen before July 1.
16th Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post

Shanghai to Mass Test Whole City Every Weekend Till End July

Shanghai, which reported just 16 Covid cases for Wednesday, will conduct mass testing drives every weekend until the end of July in the latest display of the lengths authorities are going to in order to adhere to nation’s zero tolerance approach to the virus. A temporary lockdown will also be imposed on residential complexes where a Covid case is detected in the week leading up to the weekend testing, Zhao Dandan, an official with the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission said at a briefing Wednesday. The lockdown will be lifted once everyone in the compound has been tested, he said. In an effort to detect cases early and break transmission chains, the city’s residents will need to take nucleic acid tests at least once a week until the end of July, with workers at supermarkets, barbers, drugstores, shopping malls and restaurants required to undergo daily testing.
16th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Full COVID-19 vaccination still required for Hajj, says ministry

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that full immunization with one of the approved COVID19- vaccines is still required for those planning to perform Hajj this year. The confirmation comes less than 24 hours after the Saudi authorities announced the lifting of various COVID-19 preventative measures, including the requirement to wear face masks in closed places. The ministry reaffirmed that all those intending to perform Hajj this year must have completed their immunization program with one of the COVID-19 vaccines approved by the Public Health Authority. This vaccine requirement is listed on the electronic registration portal for this year’s Hajj, which will accommodate 1 million pilgrims.
15th Jun 2022 - Arab News

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Israel offers third COVID vaccine for children 5 to 11

Only a small percentage of children aged 5 to 11 will actually be eligible to receive the additional dose, as 76 percent of children this age have not been vaccinated at all. In addition, among those who were vaccinated, many have received the second dose in the last three months. Children from 5 to 11 have the lowest vaccination rate among the Israeli population, much more so than children age 12 to 15 – of which 42 percent have yet to be vaccinated. Among teenagers aged 16 to 19, 22 percent are unvaccinated.
14th Jun 2022 - Haaretz

FDA advisers to weigh expanding Covid-19 vaccines to younger children

Several months after older children became eligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19, the United States might be just days away from offering vaccines to those younger than 5. The US Food and Drug Administration's independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is set to meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss amending the emergency use authorization (EUA) of Moderna's and Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccines to include younger ages. Children under 5 -- about 18 million people -- are the only US age group that isn't eligible to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
14th Jun 2022 - CNN

To save global health, we need vaccine patent waivers now

Global health is on its deathbed. For almost two years, a handful of rich countries have resisted a life-saving proposal tabled by India and South Africa that could speed up global COVID-19 vaccination, but the new vaccine patent waiver proposal pushed by the European Union and the head of the World Trade Organization is worse than no deal at all, says Hugo López-Gatell.
14th Jun 2022 - Al Jazeera English

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Covid-19: Patients without respiratory symptoms no longer have to wear a face mask in GP surgeries

Patients who enter general practices in England no longer have to wear a face mask unless they have respiratory symptoms, NHS England and NHS Improvement says. But the updated guidance also underlines the importance of local risk assessments and says that increased measures can be used when deemed necessary. A letter sent to clinical commissioning groups and trusts set out the changes to infection prevention and control measures following updates from the UK Health Security Agency.1 It said that health and care staff should continue to wear face masks as part of personal protective equipment when working with patients with suspected or confirmed covid-19, including untriaged patients in primary care and emergency departments.
13th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Don’t be complacent, another Covid wave is coming. Here’s how we can manage it

As we move into summer, more than two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the words “new wave” are probably the last thing anyone wants to hear. Yet it is true that recent UK data (as well as data from Florida and other places) indicates that sublineages of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5, are kicking off a new wave of cases. With the pandemic no longer dominating the news in the way it once did, it’s worth taking stock of where we are and what needs to be done. After all, these variations on Omicron are not more severe, but they do have the capacity to reinfect people, even those who have had a previous version of Omicron. This is further evidence that reaching “herd immunity” (where enough people are vaccinated or infected to stop further circulation) against Covid-19 is probably impossible.
13th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Philippine officials, governor clash over face mask policy

Philippine officials warned Monday that people can face arrest if they defy a presidential order to wear face masks in public to protect against the coronavirus even in a province where the governor has declared they are optional. Officials asked Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia of central Cebu province to cooperate with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, but she insisted Monday that her decision to allow people to decide whether to wear masks in public in her province has legal grounds because provincial officials can decide on health issues.
13th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

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Covid-19 vaccine in prison: a not-to-be-missed opportunity to promote access to vaccination in adolescents

Covid-19 vaccination campaigns for adolescents have been taking place in many countries for some months. The WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunisation have called for vaccine prioritisation within countries to take into account the needs of those groups that, due to underlying social, ethnic, geographic, or biomedical factors, are at greater risk of getting infected or suffering most severe consequences from covid-19. Since the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is considerably higher in prisons and detention facilities than elsewhere, adolescents who are detained in juvenile institutions should be prioritised for vaccination. Detained adolescents often come from marginalised groups of society with a considerable burden of ill health rooted in poverty and discrimination, and with limited access to healthcare. The benefits of vaccinating adolescents in juvenile institutions include the direct benefits to their health and the indirect benefit of reducing onward transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within the prison community, including among prison staff, and in the community they belong. Furthermore, the implementation of the covid-19 vaccine in juvenile institutions is essential to upholding the principle of equity of care and to guarantee the right to health for those deprived of liberty, leaving no one behind
10th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

US lifts COVID-19 test requirement for international travel

The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights, easing one of the last remaining government mandates meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus .
10th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Capacity limits, COVID-19 tests no longer needed at nightlife establishments from Jun 14

Nightlife establishments with dancing among patrons will no longer be subjected to a capacity limit from Jun 14. Patrons will also no longer need to obtain a negative antigen rapid test (ART) result to enter the venue, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Jun 10), adding that this move will "rationalise the rules" for nightspots with other social settings. However, vaccination-differentiated safe management measures will continue to apply, with operators still required to conduct such checks to ensure that only fully-vaccinated people enter these settings. Enforcement officers may carry out random checks to ensure that operators comply, said MOH.
10th Jun 2022 - CNA

People aged 50 and above may get second COVID-19 booster at vaccination centres with mRNA shots: MOH

People aged 50 to 59 who want to get their second COVID-19 booster shot may do so from Friday (Jun 10) by walking into any vaccination centre offering mRNA vaccines, said the Ministry of Health (MOH). This is an expansion from the 60-79 age group that the ministry previously offered second booster shots to. The expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination has since assessed that people aged 50 to 59 who wish to take their second booster may also do so about five months after their first booster shot. “This is in view of data indicating that the risk of severe COVID-19 increases in the age group of 50 to 59 as well,” said MOH. "This is also around the age when chronic diseases start to set in."
10th Jun 2022 - CNA

Covid infections on the rise in England and Northern Ireland

The UK may be entering its third wave of coronavirus this year, researchers warn, as official figures show infections are on the rise again in England and Northern Ireland. The Office for National Statistics said its latest analysis of swabs from households across Britain revealed a mixed picture with a “small increase” in positive tests in England and Northern Ireland, while the trend in Wales and Scotland remained unclear. The ONS data, which give the most reliable picture of the state of the UK outbreak, suggest that the steady fall in infections over recent months may have gone into reverse as cases are driven up by the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.
10th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

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Trials of new Covid vaccine raise hopes of once-a-year booster

The vaccine is the first “bivalent” formulation to combine protection against Omicron and the original strain of coronavirus, and is the company’s leading candidate for upcoming autumn booster programmes. Dr Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said the new vaccine raised antibody levels to such a degree that one booster a year could be enough, unless a substantially different variant calls for the vaccine to be redesigned again. “The data we show today are really important because we get a really strong antibody response against Omicron,” he said. “For the first time, we could really be looking at the potential for just once-yearly boosting, because we can get people to such a high level that they will take longer to decay.” The new vaccine, called mRNA1273.214, combines 25 micrograms of the original Moderna Covid vaccine with 25 micrograms of vaccine specifically targeted at the Omicron variant. In the phase 2/3 trial, the 50mcg shots were given to 437 people who had already received two primary jabs and a booster of the original Moderna vaccine earlier in the pandemic.
9th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Shanghai faces unexpected round of COVID testing for most residents

A round of mass COVID-19 testing for most residents this weekend - just 10 days after a city-wide lockdown was lifted - unsettling residents and raising concerns about the impact on business. Shanghai officials on Thursday said seven of the city's 16 districts would carry out PCR testing for all residents over the weekend due to the discovery of a few cases in the community, saying they wanted to prevent a renewed outbreak
10th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Orders Millions of COVID-19 Vaccines for Youngest Children

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been ordered for small children in anticipation of possible federal authorization next week, White House officials say. The government allowed pharmacies and states to start placing orders last week, with 5 million doses initially available—half of them shots made by Pfizer and the other half the vaccine produced by Moderna, senior administration officials said. As of this week, about 1.45 million of the 2.5 million available doses of Pfizer have been ordered, and about 850,000 of available Moderna shots have been ordered, officials said. More orders are expected in the coming days.
9th Jun 2022 - Time

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Moderna says updated Covid-19 vaccine booster shows stronger antibody response against Omicron

Moderna said on Wednesday its bivalent Covid-19 vaccine booster that contained a vaccine targeting the Omicron variant showed a stronger immune response against the variant.
8th Jun 2022 - CNN on MSN.com

COVID-19 information on Victorian government websites was often inaccessible, study finds

An education level of year 10 or above would have been required to understand much of the material, the study found. About half of the Australian population reads at an education level of year 10 or below. The state government defended its public health messages, which it said had been critical in reaching high levels of vaccination coverage
8th Jun 2022 - ABC News

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Japan to open to tourists after COVID, with masks, insurance and chaperones required

Foreign tourists visiting Japan will be required to wear masks, take out private medical insurance and be chaperoned throughout their stay, the government said on Tuesday, as it plans a gradual opening from two years of COVID-19 restrictions. Only visitors on package tours will be allowed in during the first phase of reopening, from June 10, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) said, adding that travel agency guides accompanying visitors will have to ensure they wear their masks. "Tour guides should frequently remind tour participants of necessary infection prevention measures, including wearing and removing masks, at each stage of the tour," the JTA said in its guidelines.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Long Covid patients face lottery over treatment

Patients with long Covid are facing a postcode lottery across the UK when it comes to getting care, nurses say. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said treatment varied hugely with some services treating it as a physical condition, but others as psychological. The union also highlighted long waits in parts of England, which has a network of specialist clinics. It warned that patients in Scotland and Wales may be missing out because of a lack of dedicated clinics. But officials there say patients are getting support via core NHS services.
7th Jun 2022 - BBC News

U.S. CDC removes mask recommendation from monkeypox travel notice to avoid confusion

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday it had removed a mask recommendation from its monkeypox travel notice to avoid "confusion" over the disease, which primarily spreads through direct contact. "Late yesterday, CDC removed the mask recommendation from the monkeypox Travel Health Notice because it caused confusion," a CDC spokesperson said on Tuesday. The agency had earlier suggested that travellers wear masks as it can help protect against "many diseases, including monkeypox"
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

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Covid-19: Hong Kong steps up checks on bars and restaurants as cases linked to nightlife area rise

Hong Kong has seen an uptick in Covid-19 infections amid the recent easing of social distancing rules, with clusters linked to a number of bars in Central. In the seven-day period from last Monday to Sunday, authorities confirmed an average of 153 positive nucleic acid tests per day, up from 103.9 the week before.
6th Jun 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press

XpresSpa and Ginkgo Bioworks Are Hunting For New Covid Variants at Airports

As the pandemic engulfed the world in March 2020, no one was thinking much about getting a manicure. So XpresSpa Group Inc., an airport chain that offers mani-pedis and massages to travelers, closed all 50 of its locations. To survive the next two years, it would have to pivot. It turned to the most obvious next market: Covid testing. Through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and synthetic biology firm Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., XpresSpa launched a surveillance operation to hunt for new and emerging Covid variants among international travelers. Over the last eight months, the trio has tested tens of thousands of passengers arriving from more than 15 countries around the globe
6th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 6th Jun 2022

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Pfizer Submits Covid Shot for Kids Under 5 for FDA Authorization

Pfizer Inc. asked U.S. regulators to clear its Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children under age 5, an effort to extend protection against the virus to the country’s youngest. The drugmaker and BioNTech SE finalized their rolling application to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency-use authorization of their vaccine in kids ages 6 months through 4 years old, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday. The vaccine partners began the submission process in February. Pfizer and BioNTech announced in late May that a three-shot regimen was highly effective and prompted a strong immune response in children under age 5, based on early results from a highly anticipated trial that is likely to pave the way for infants and toddlers to get immunized.
1st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

White House: 1st shots for kids under 5 possible by June 21

The Biden administration said Thursday that children under 5 may be able to get their first COVID-19 vaccination doses as soon as June 21, if federal regulators authorize shots for the age group, as expected. White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha outlined the administration’s planning for the last remaining ineligible age group to get shots. He said the Food and Drug Administration’s outside panel of advisers will meet on June 14-15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger kids. Shipments to doctors’ offices and pediatric care facilities would begin soon after FDA authorization, with the first shots possible the following week. Jha said states can begin placing orders for pediatric vaccines on Friday, and said the administration has an initial supply of 10 million doses available. He said it may take a few days for the vaccines to arrive across the country and vaccine appointments to be widespread.
3rd Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

UAE achieves 100% COVID vaccination target -state news agency

The United Arab Emirates has vaccinated all those who must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the oil-rich Gulf Arab state, state news agency WAM reported on Thursday. The UAE "announces that 100% of the targeted categories have been vaccinated," it said.
3rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

China Plans for Years of Covid Zero Strategy With Tests on Every Corner

After a bruising lockdown in Shanghai and severe curbs in Beijing were needed to halt the spread of Covid-19, China is doubling down on mass-testing in a move that’s dashing hopes for a shift away from its costly Covid Zero strategy. A network of tens of thousands of lab testing booths are being set up across the country’s largest and most economically vital cities, with the goal of having residents always just a 15 minute walk away from a swabbing point. The infrastructure will allow cities like Beijing, Shanghai, tech hub Shenzhen and e-commerce heartland Hangzhou to require tests as often as every 48 hours, with negative results needed to get on the subway or even enter a store.
31st May 2022 - Bloomberg

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Jun 2022

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COVID-19 border measures to stay until at least end of June: PHAC

The Public Health Agency of Canada says COVID-19 restrictions at the border will remain in place for at least another month. The agency made the announcement on Twitter, the day after Parliament voted down a Conservative opposition motion to revert to pre-pandemic rules for travel. Several pandemic restrictions are in place at Canadian airports and land borders, including vaccine mandates, random COVID-19 tests and the requirement that international travellers answer pandemic-related questions on the ArriveCan app.
31st May 2022 - Global News

Italy Scraps COVID-19 Entry Rules For Travellers As Cases Drop

Italy said it was dropping the requirement to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test before entering the country. The health ministry announced that the requirement to show a so-called "Green Pass" to enter Italy "will not be extended" when it expires on May 31. Italy was the first European country hit by coronavirus in early 2020 and has had some of the toughest restrictions, including requiring all workers to show a Green Pass.
31st May 2022 - NDTV

Cuba lifts mask mandate as vaccination rate soars and deaths plummet

Cuba on Tuesday lifted a mask mandate in place for two years following a successful vaccination drive that health officials say has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and nearly three weeks without a single death from COVID-19. The island, whose communist government has long sought to stand out by providing a free healthcare system that focuses on preventative treatment such as vaccinations, developed its own COVID vaccines and became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2. rge Luis Banos/Pool via REUTERS HAVANA, May 31 (Reuters) - Cuba on Tuesday lifted a mask mandate in place for two years following a successful vaccination drive that health officials say has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and nearly three weeks without a single death from COVID-19. The island, whose communist government has long sought to stand out by providing a free healthcare system that focuses on preventative treatment such as vaccinations, developed its own COVID vaccines and became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2. Cuba has since vaccinated 94% of its population with at least one dose of its home-grown vaccines, according to a Reuters tally. Health minister José Ángel Portal said the wide-ranging vaccination program had led to a "radical change" in contagion and health risks and prompted the decision to do away with masks in most scenarios.
1st Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Unveils 50-Point Plan to Return to Normalcy

Banks will be asked to renew SME loans; asset managers are asked to set up global or regional investment management centres in Shanghai. Shanghai has unveiled a comprehensive 50-point plan to reopen the city and its economy in stages, with the goal of restoring normalcy to business and daily life following the two-month-long lockdown. Last week, Premier Li Keqiang called for efforts to be made to stabilise the economy and restore investor confidence. New Covid-19 cases in Shanghai have also fallen fell to their lowest levels since mid-March. The 50-point plan to reopen the city covers measures to help enterprises reduce their operating costs, incentives to prevent job losses, and broader reopening measures. Companies will no longer need to be on a “whitelist” to resume production starting from 1 June. Under the existing whitelist system, about 6,000 companies are allowed to resume production provided they adhere to certain pandemic prevention guidelines.
31st May 2022 - Regulation Asia

Push to get more people fully vaccinated against Covid over half term holiday

Health bosses in Leicestershire are urging families to use the half term holiday to go and get jabbed together. The schools in both the city and the county are off his week and alongside the fun days out, people are being urged to make sure they get fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Clinics across the county are still open - although the Platinum Jubilee bank holidays mean Thursday and Friday will see them close again.
31st May 2022 - Leicestershire Live

WA's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination rules set to stay as experts see no reason to change

Throughout the ebb and flow of WA's various COVID restrictions, one rule has remained steady for months now — workplace vaccination requirements. Since late last year, about 60 per cent of WA workers have been required to be vaccinated to continue working and from today, this cohort will need to have had their third booster shot. But with WA achieving world-leading vaccination rates and about a quarter of people having some level of immunity from having recently had the virus, questions have been raised about the utility of those mandates. However, experts and the government say there should be little change, at least in the short term.
31st May 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st May 2022

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Why Africa's first Covid vaccine factory struggles to find customers

The signing of a licensing deal late last year for South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare to bottle and sell the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine across Africa was hailed as a lifeline for a continent that lost out in the rush for jabs early in the pandemic. But six months later, the factory is on the brink of closure because of lack of demand. In South Africa, only 5 per cent of people have received a booster shot and just under a third of the 60mn population are double vaccinated. It is part of a broader trend across Africa that helps to explain why the future of the continent’s biggest vaccine manufacturing plant is in doubt.
30th May 2022 - Financial Times

Taiwan to set up 6 COVID-19 vaccination sites for children aged 5-11

Taiwan's six special municipalities will each set up a large-scale walk-in vaccination site where COVID-19 vaccine shots for children aged 5-11 will be administered starting June 1, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Monday. In order to ensure children acquire immunity against COVID-19 as soon as possible, the CECC has worked together with the municipal governments of Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung to set up walk-in vaccination sites for children. The sites are located at Taipei Liberty Square, New Taipei Banqiao Station, Taoyuan Arena, Taichung National Museum of Natural Science, Tainan Public Library, and Kaohsiung Exhibition Center, according to the CECC.
30th May 2022 - Focus Taiwan News Channel

Nasal COVID-19 vaccines help the body prepare for infection right where it starts—in your nose and throat

Imagine inhaling just a few drops of liquid or mist to get protected from COVID-19. That is the idea behind nasal COVID-19 vaccines, and they have been getting a lot of attention recently as a spray or liquid. These nasal vaccines would be based on the same technology as normal vaccines given by injection. But as Mayuresh Abhyankar, a University of Virginia researcher who studies infectious diseases and works on nasal vaccines, explains, vaccinating someone right where the coronavirus is likely to start its attack comes with many immunological benefits.
30th May 2022 - Medical Xpress

CT chest scans reveal fewer cases of pneumonia in breakthrough COVID-19 infections

CT chest scans in patients with breakthrough COVID-19 infections show lower levels of pneumonia compared to scans of unvaccinated patients. A significantly higher proportion of CT chest scans in fully vaccinated patients who experience a breakthrough infection showed no signs of pneumonia during their stay in hospital, according to a study by Korean researchers. COVID-19 vaccination across the globe has led to a protection against both symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 as well as severe disease, hospitalisation and death. Although a CT chest scan has been described as an indispensable diagnostic tool in COVID-19, no studies have reported on using this imaging modality to examine the features associated with breakthrough infections that are generally less severe.
30th May 2022 - Hospital Healthcare Europe

Paxlovid Becomes Household Name for Covid-19 Patients

Pfizer’s antiviral drug, called Paxlovid, totaled more than 412,000 prescriptions through May 6, compared with about 110,000 prescriptions of molnupiravir, an antiviral from Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, according to drug-data firm Iqvia Holdings Inc. Both pills were cleared for use in high-risk individuals early in the course of their disease in December by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to keep people from becoming hospitalized.
30th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th May 2022

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Covid-19 and mRNA technology are helping Africa fix its vaccine problems

After the disastrous effect of vaccine nationalism on access in Africa, boosting local production is key to preventing a repeat in future pandemics. WHO’s new mRNA vaccine hub is at the forefront, report Emma Bryce and Sandy Ong In June 2021, the World Health Organization selected South African biotech company Afrigen to be part of the “hub” where mRNA technology—which underpins the most effective covid-19 vaccines—would be developed and shared with other lower and middle income countries.1 More than 15 manufacturers (“spokes”) have been named so far, almost half located in Africa.2 For the world’s second largest continent, by size and population, this initiative has come not a moment too soon. Africa uses one quarter of global vaccines but produces just 1%3—a shortage that left it wrong footed as covid-19 swept the globe and rich nations hoarded vaccine supplies.
28th May 2022 - The BMJ

North Korea tests rivers, air, garbage as anti-COVID efforts gather steam

North Korean health officials are testing rivers, lakes, the air and household wastewater and garbage for the coronavirus as the country intensifies its fight against its first outbreak, state media said on Friday. The isolated country has been in a heated battle against an unprecedented COVID wave since declaring a state of emergency and imposing a nationwide lockdown this month, fuelling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages.
28th May 2022 - Reuters

Nasal COVID-19 vaccines help the body prepare for infection right where it starts – in your nose and throat

Imagine inhaling just a few drops of liquid or mist to get protected from COVID-19. That is the idea behind nasal COVID-19 vaccines, and they have been getting a lot of attention recently as a spray or liquid. These nasal vaccines would be based on the same technology as normal vaccines given by injection. But as Mayuresh Abhyankar, a University of Virginia researcher who studies infectious diseases and works on nasal vaccines, explains, vaccinating someone right where the coronavirus is likely to start its attack comes with many immunological benefits.
28th May 2022 - The Conversation

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 27th May 2022

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Newcastle's QuantuMDx Group launches rapid COVID-19 and flu test

A life sciences firm has unveiled new technology it says can identify COVID-19, flu and respiratory illnesses in minutes. Newcastle-based QuantuMDx Group says its Q-POC equipment provides “differential diagnosis” and will enable “rapid triage and effective treatment strategies, particularly in at-risk groups of patients”. Bosses say it will help identify co-infection earlier, which will shorten treatment and patient hospital stays, with test results returned in 35 minutes. Jonathan O’Halloran, chief executive [pictured above], said: “The recent COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for rapid, high-quality PCR panels to accurately diagnose infectious diseases, and so I am pleased to announce the launch of this new respiratory panel. “With the coming winter likely to bring parallel pressure from these viruses, on-demand rapid accurate PCR testing has the potential to provide clinicians with an optimum solution for respiratory infection control.
26th May 2022 - North East Times

Covid-19 Deaths Hover Near Lows, but Older Americans at Risk Even With Boosters

Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. are hovering near the lowest levels since the pandemic hit, showing how a population with built-up immune protection is less at risk of severe outcomes even as another wave of infections flows through the country. The nearly 300 deaths reported daily are again more concentrated among older people, underscoring hazards for the more vulnerable while the overall population appears less at risk. Particularly vulnerable people, such as those who are older and immunocompromised, will likely always have some risk of death from a Covid-19 infection, doctors and public-health experts said. Increasing booster rates and access to treatments, in addition to taking certain precautions, can help lower the threat presented by the virus, they said.
27th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Children urged to come forward for Covid booster trial in these ten areas

Children aged between 12 and 15 are being urged to volunteer for a new study exploring different options for a third Covid booster vaccine. The University of Oxford-led Com-COV 3 study aims to recruit 380 volunteers across 10 UK sites, including Oxford's Churchill Hospital. Those taking part will need to have received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, at least three months before joining. Researchers will then deliver a third dose as part of the study.
26th May 2022 - ITV News

How important is the COVID-19 booster shot for 5-to-11-year-olds? 5 questions answered

COVID-19 case numbers are rising again in the U.S. – including among children. In mid-May 2022, the Food and Drug Administration authorized a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine for U.S. children ages 5 to 11, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed by recommending a booster shot for this age group. Naturally, many parents are wondering about the importance and safety of a booster shot for their school-age children. Debbie-Ann Shirley, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Virginia, answers some common questions about COVID-19 and booster shots in kids that she hears in her practice and explains the research behind why booster shots are recommended for children ages 5 to 11.
26th May 2022 - The Conversation

Long COVID affects more older adults; shots don’t prevent it

New U.S. research on long COVID-19 provides fresh evidence that it can happen even after breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, and that older adults face higher risks for the long-term effects. In a study of veterans published Wednesday, about one-third who had breakthrough infections showed signs of long COVID. A separate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that up to a year after an initial coronavirus infection, 1 in 4 adults aged 65 and older had at least one potential long COVID health problem, compared with 1 in 5 younger adults. Long COVID refers to any of more than two dozens symptoms that linger, recur or first appear at least one month after a coronavirus infection. These can affect all parts of the body and may include fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and blood clots.
26th May 2022 - The Associated Press

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th May 2022

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Vaccines bring optimism as COVID cases soar in South America

After a reprieve of months, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are surging in the southern tip of South America. But officials in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay hope high vaccination rates mean this latest wave will not be as deadly as previous ones. At the same time, there is concern that many people are not ready to once again take on the prevention measures that authorities say are needed to ensure cases remain manageable. Cases have been steadily increasing for weeks, largely fueled by the BA.2 version of the omicron variant. In Chile, the number of weekly confirmed cases more than doubled by late May when compared to the beginning of the month. In Argentina, cases rose 146 percent in the same period, while in Uruguay, the increase was almost 200 percent.
25th May 2022 - Yahoo News UK

COVID nasal sprays could offer advantages over traditional vaccines – a virologist explains how they work

As new waves of omicron infections continue to hit around the world, it’s becoming clearer that COVID is here to stay. As such, in the years to come, vaccination – both first courses and booster doses – will likely remain necessary to brace global communities against the worst health outcomes wrought by the virus. But what if the current crop of vaccines could be improved? Recent advances in vaccine technology and delivery systems suggest there could be gains to be made. In particular, scientists are working on vaccines that activate your “mucosal” immune system, which may be better able to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
25th May 2022 - The Conversation

French health body backs new COVID vaccine booster campaign for this autumn

France's Haute Autorite de Sante (HAS) health authority recommended preparing for a new vaccination campaign this autumn to give people aged 65 and older, and those with special health risks or conditions, access to a COVID-19 "booster" jab. The French government typically follows the recommendations of the country's health authority body.
25th May 2022 - Reuters

High-risk people eligible for second Covid booster vaccine under new Australian guidelines

People with medical conditions or disabilities that increase the risk of severe Covid-19 will be eligible for a fourth vaccine dose after updated advice by Australian health authorities. From 30 May about 1.5 million more people aged 16 to 64 will be eligible for the fourth dose, the interim health minister, Katy Gallagher, announced on Wednesday. However, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) has not given the green light for healthy people who do not have a risk factor for severe disease to receive a second booster. This includes healthcare workers and pregnant women who do not have other risk factors.
25th May 2022 - The Guardian

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th May 2022

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Why the Gym is Risky for COVID-19, and Tips for Keeping Safe

Now a new experiment has given us a more exact sense of just how many aerosols a single person can spew during an intense workout—and the results aren’t pretty. According to research by scientists in Germany published in PNAS on May 23, people emit about 132 times as many aerosols per minute during high intensity exercise than when they’re at rest, which the researchers warn raises the risk of a person infected with COVID-19 setting off a superspreader event. At rest, people emitted an average of 580 particles each minute, but during maximal exercise—in which researchers gradually increased intensity until the subjects were exhausted—people emitted an average of 76,200 particles a minute.
23rd May 2022 - TIME

Sweden: 5th COVID-19 shot to people over 65, pregnant women

Sweden is recommending a fifth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with an increased risk of becoming seriously ill, including pregnant women and anyone aged 65 and over, authorities said Tuesday, adding that the country must "be prepared for an increased spread during the upcoming autumn and winter season.” “The vaccine is our strongest tool for preventing serious illness and death,” Swedish Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said, adding the pandemic is not over. As of Sept. 1, Sweden recommends that another booster shot is given to people aged 65 and older and people over 18 in the risk groups.
24th May 2022 - ABC News

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th May 2022

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Three Doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine 80% Effective in Young Children, Company Says

Three doses of the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE Covid-19 vaccine were 80% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 and generated a robust immune response in children ages 6 months to 5 years old, the companies said. The vaccine was also found to be safe and well-tolerated among the children in the study, the companies said Monday. Many of the children had received at least some of their shots during the Omicron wave, suggesting that the three-dose series worked well against the highly contagious variant after the two doses produced mixed results. “We have a big problem called Omicron, and I think we have a good solution,” Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in an interview. The companies reported the findings without much detail via press release based on an early analysis of study results.
24th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

California coronavirus spread significantly worsens, with cases doubling in some areas

The number of coronavirus cases in California significantly worsened last week, hitting a level not seen since the winter’s omicron surge and raising concerns about the possibility of a big jump in infections this summer. Weekly coronavirus cases roughly doubled across wide swaths of California, including Riverside and Santa Barbara counties, as well as the Central Valley and Silicon Valley. They rose by roughly 85% in Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. Statewide, the increase was 63%, bringing the case rate to 231 for every 100,000 residents. A rate of 100 and above is considered a high rate of transmission.
23rd May 2022 - Seattle Times

Two cases of new Covid-19 variant of concern confirmed in Ireland

Two cases of a newly classified Covid-19 variant of concern have been confirmed in Ireland. On May 12 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reclassified two sub-lineages of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, BA.4 and BA.5, from variants of interest to variants of concern. In the chief medical officer’s latest weekly report on Covid-19 to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, he says that two cases of BA.4 have been identified as of the week beginning May 7. Dr Tony Holohan said: “In the context of the international situation in relation to these variants, it should be noted that, as of week 18 2022 (May 7), two cases of BA.4 and no cases of BA.5 have been identified in Ireland.”
23rd May 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Drugmakers propose swift pandemic response benefiting poorer countries

Global drugmakers are lobbying for wealthy nations to fund a supply mechanism that would secure vaccines for low-income countries without delay in case of a new pandemic, but said the proposal was contingent on free cross-border trade. The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) said in a statement on Monday that global pandemic vaccine distribution needs to be put on a new footing because the world’s poorest countries were forced to wait for shots during the current pandemic.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 23rd May 2022

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At least 25m people in UK to be offered Covid booster this autumn

Millions of people in the UK will be offered further Covid booster shots in the autumn under draft guidance published by the government’s vaccine watchdog. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said another round of jabs would help protect the most vulnerable adults and frontline social care and health workers against severe Covid in the winter. Despite “considerable uncertainty” over the likelihood, timing and severity of any future wave of Covid in the country, the committee said the threat from the virus would be greatest in the winter months.
20th May 2022 - The Guardian

North Korea shuns outside help as COVID catastrophe looms

Like no other country, North Korea could do with help against COVID-19. The country’s population is unvaccinated and susceptible to disease due to chronic malnourishment. Its dilapidated healthcare system lacks supplies of basic drugs and equipment. But even as North Korea faces the prospect of a humanitarian catastrophe amid its first officially confirmed coronavirus outbreak, Pyongyang is steadfastly refusing offers of international assistance. The United States and South Korea have not received a response to offers to help tackle the outbreak, including by sending aid, according to South Korean officials. The World Health Organization, which is “deeply concerned at the risk of further spread”, said the country had not responded to requests for information about the outbreak.
21st May 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th May 2022

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Coronavirus vaccine could have saved 319,000 people in U.S., study says

About a third of the 1 million lives lost to COVID-19 could have been saved with vaccines, a new analysis shows. Researchers at the Brown School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Microsoft AI for Health analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The New York Times and came up with not only 319,000 needless deaths but also a state-by-state breakdown of where they could have been prevented. Between January 2021 and April 2022, about every second person who died from COVID-19 since vaccines became available might have lived if they had gotten the shots, the researchers found. Nationwide, about half of the 641,000 people who have died since vaccines became available could have lived if every single eligible adult had gotten jabbed.
19th May 2022 - The Seattle Times

It's happening again: COVID-19 cases are back on the rise. There are 3 main reasons why.

COVID-19 infections continue to rise, driven by new and more infectious omicron subvariants, waning immunity from both vaccines and previous infections and fewer people masking up, health officials said at a White House briefing Wednesday. About a third of Americans now live in an area with medium or high COVID-19 rates, with reported cases up 26% from last week, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control an Prevention. On average, about 3,000 Americans are being hospitalized per day and 275 are dying. Walensky urged people in communities with higher infection and hospitalization rates to protect themselves by masking in indoor public places and to get a booster shot if vaccinated and to get vaccinated if they're not.
19th May 2022 - USA TODAY

China removes some COVID test rules on travellers from U.S.

China has removed some COVID-19 test requirements for people flying in from countries such as the United States and shortened the pre-departure quarantine for some inbound travellers, as it fine-tunes measures to cope with the Omicron variant. From Friday, travellers from the United States will no longer need an RT-PCR test seven days before flying, according to notices from the Chinese embassy and consulates in the United States. Requirements for antibody tests have also been scrapped. Those travellers will still need to do two RT-PCR tests within 48 or 24 hours of their flights - depending on which airport they are flying out of - plus another pre-flight antigen test, the notices said.
19th May 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

A third of US should be considering masks, officials say

COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States — and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking. Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions. Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Those are areas where people should already be considering wearing masks indoors — but Americans elsewhere should also take notice, officials said.
18th May 2022 - Associated Press

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 19th May 2022

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A third of US should be considering masks, officials say

COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States — and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking. Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions. Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Those are areas where people should already be considering wearing masks indoors — but Americans elsewhere should also take notice, officials said.
19th May 2022 - The Associated Press

China is going big on Covid testing, so why not include vaccination too?

In the past two weeks, nucleic acid test booths have sprung up in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, part of China’s plan to make tests routine and require residents to show negative Covid-19 test results when they go to work, school or use public transport. It involves enormous resources. These test booths are open long hours and there are many because the authorities want to ensure every citizen has access within a 15-minute walk. Ma Xiaowei, head of National Health Commission (NHC), wrote in Qiushi journal this week the government planned to set up separate teams to do nucleic acid tests so healthcare workers would not be called on to do the task, but it would take time to form the teams.
18th May 2022 - South China Morning Post

From storage to transport, hurdles to getting COVID vaccine to North Koreans

As North Korea battles its first known COVID outbreak, a lack of storage, chronic power shortages and inadequately trained medical staff pose acute challenges to inoculating its 25 million people - even with outside help, analysts said. North Korea has not responded to offers of aid from South Korea and international vaccine-sharing programmes, but prefers U.S.-made Moderna and Pfizer over China's Sinovac or British-Swedish Astrazeneca shots, according to South Korean officials.
18th May 2022 - Reuters

What to do if you test positive for Covid-19 now

Covid-19 infections are on the rise, with most US states reporting an increase in cases. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highly contagious BA.2.1.21 subvariant of Omicron is now the dominant strain of coronavirus nationwide. Two years into the pandemic, many aren't sure what to do after testing positive for Covid-19. Should they isolate, and if so, for how long? How important is it to see a doctor? What therapies are available, and who is eligible? To help answer these and other questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health" and the mother of two young children.
18th May 2022 - CNN

Hygiene Helpers - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th May 2022

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N.Y.C. urges people to wear masks indoors, but stops short of requiring it.

Citing high community transmission and rising hospitalizations from a fifth wave of coronavirus cases, New York City health officials on Monday strongly recommended that all individuals wear medical-grade masks in offices, grocery stores and other public indoor settings citywide. The new recommendations, issued in a health advisory by the city health commissioner, came as the city approached the orange, or “high” alert level for Covid-19, a benchmark it expects to hit in the coming days. The new advisory also called on those who are at increased risk for severe illness, including unvaccinated children under 5 and people over 65, to avoid nonessential indoor gatherings and crowded settings.
17th May 2022 - The New York Times

China's Covid Exit Hinges on Seniors Who Don't Want Vaccines

As its Covid Zero lockdowns have become harsher and more economically disruptive, China has repeatedly invoked the specter of millions of vulnerable elderly people dying as justification for its strict virus approach. What remains unaddressed is why, with an abundant supply of homegrown vaccines and vast enforcement power, so many of China’s over-60s remain unvaccinated more than a year after shots became available. China is now paying a price for this vulnerability, with its economy struggling under the weight of chaotic lockdowns and increasingly unpredictable measures aimed at snuffing out all cases and shielding the community.
17th May 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19 vaccine study focuses on young and immunosuppressed

The team at Imperial College London will now expand the MELODY study to include immunosuppressed young people who have had an organ transplant, to assess the levels of protection the vaccines offer to immunosuppressed people across age groups. Dr Michelle Willicombe, the study lead at Imperial College London, commented: “Information on how young, immunosuppressed people have responded to vaccination and the protection it affords them from infection is currently lacking, so we are delighted for the additional support so we can include children in MELODY to provide ongoing evidence. “If we can understand more about how this group of people respond to vaccines, then this will inform future vaccination strategies and also identify those young people who are most at risk of catching COVID-19.”
17th May 2022 - PharmaTimes

COVID-19: Dogs can be trained in weeks to detect infection

Dogs can be trained within weeks to detect a COVID-19 infection, with a degree of accuracy comparable to a nose and throat swab test, according to new research. Four dogs were trained to sniff out the virus in spring 2020 as part of a study led by the University of Helsinki in Finland. The animals, previously trained to detect drugs, dangerous goods, or cancer, each sniffed skin samples from 114 people who had tested positive for the virus and from 306 who tested negative. They were able to detect the virus with 92% accuracy, the study found. The dogs also participated in a trial where they sniffed the samples of 303 incoming passengers at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport between September 2020 and April 2021.
17th May 2022 - Sky News

North Korea on brink of Covid-19 catastrophe, say experts

North Korea stands on the brink of a Covid-19 catastrophe unless swift action is taken to provide vaccines and drug treatments, experts have said, as the number of people reported to have fallen ill rose to almost 1.5 million. The isolated country reported another big rise in new cases of what it continues to refer to as “fever” on Tuesday, days after it admitted it had identified Covid-19 infections for the first time since the start of the global pandemic. It recorded 269,510 additional cases and six more deaths, bringing the total number killed to 56 since late last month. About 1.48 million people have become ill with the virus since the first case was reported last Thursday and at least 663,910 people were in quarantine, according to official figures. The outbreak is almost certainly greater than the official tally, given a lack of tests and resources to monitor and treat the sick.
17th May 2022 - The Guardian

Indonesia to drop outdoor mask mandate as COVID infections drop

Indonesia will drop requirements for people to mask up outdoors and for vaccinated travellers to show negative pre-departure tests, officials said on Tuesday, as COVID-19 infections decline in the Southeast Asian country. Masks are no longer required outdoors as "the pandemic is getting more and more controlled", President Joko Widodo said in a statement streamed online. But masks must still be worn indoors and on public transportation, he said
17th May 2022 - Reuters.com

Biden offering additional 8 free COVID-19 tests to public

The government website for people to request free COVID-19 at-home tests from the U.S. government is now accepting a third round of orders. The White House announced Tuesday that U.S. households can request an additional eight free at-home tests to be shipped by the U.S. Postal Service. The announcement comes as coronavirus cases are rising again in some areas of the country.
17th May 2022 - Associated Press

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We need a definitive exit from our Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s the roadmap

As the virus accelerates its evolution, the humans capitulate. For two and a half years, the virus has been outrunning our response, getting progressively more and more transmissible, reaching a level of infectiousness that few pathogens have ever attained. Instead of taking a stance of getting ahead of the virus, and out-smarting it, people have succumbed. In recent months, we experienced a striking jump in transmissibility when the Omicron (BA.1) variant became dominant with at least a three-fold increase in reproductive number beyond Delta. Despite the hope that this might be reaching the upper limit of the virus’s spread ability, we quickly transitioned to a BA.2 wave with at least another jump of about 30% transmissibility, and now we are heading, in the United States, to a dominant subvariant known as BA.2.12.1, which is another 25% more transmissible than BA.2 and already accounting for close to 50% of new cases.
16th May 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19 news: Just 7 per cent of 5 to 11-year-olds in England jabbed

Six weeks into the vaccine roll-out for this age group, fewer than one in 10 children aged 5 to 11 have received their first dose. The 7 per cent figure compares with the 24 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds in England who received a first dose in the six weeks after they became eligible for the vaccine in September 2021. Children rarely become seriously ill with SARS-CoV-2 virus, however, testing positive can disrupt their schooling or put them at risk of long covid. Speaking of 5 to 11 year olds, Russell Viner at University College London told The Guardian: “It’s a vaccination that probably isn’t particularly beneficial for this age group. “However, it has a very, very good safety profile. And given that we remain in a pandemic, there’s an argument that for individual parents, the balance of risks would appear to be towards vaccination.”
16th May 2022 - New Scientist

Detroit Three automakers reinstate mask mandate at some Michigan facilities

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler parent Stellantis are reinstating a requirement that employees wear masks in southeastern Michigan where there are high levels of COVID-19. The Detroit Three automakers said in early March they would allow auto workers to stop wearing masks at workplaces where U.S. health officials said it was safe to do so
16th May 2022 - Reuters

New York City Officials Say People Should Wear Masks Inside Again

New York City officials are recommending residents wear masks in indoor public spaces amid climbing Covid-19 cases in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan issued the advisory Monday, requesting New Yorkers over the age of two years old wear masks in indoor public spaces such as grocery stores and offices.
16th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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China's Covid-Zero Policy Is Producing a Deluge of Waste

China’s lockdowns and restrictions to battle the nation’s biggest Covid outbreak since the early days of the pandemic are causing a massive increase in garbage in its biggest cities. Waste related to Covid prevention, including those from hospitals, fever clinics and isolation facilities, has increased 4.5 times to 1,400 tons a day in Shanghai from 308 tons before the current outbreak began in March. The city of 25 million residents has been in lockdown for five weeks, and daily household waste related to Covid reached 3,300 tons this month, compared with only 73 tons a day in February, according to People’s Daily.
14th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Taiwan to roll out fourth COVID-19 vaccine doses next week: CECC

People aged 65 and above, or those over 60 who are immunocompromised will be able to receive a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine beginning next week at the earliest, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Friday. Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), deputy head of Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control and CECC spokesman, said individuals must wait at least five months after receiving their third dose before getting a fourth. The vaccination schedule for eligible individuals will be announced soon, Chuang said at a press briefing. According to the CECC, the decision to roll out a fourth COVID-19 jab was made during an Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting at the end of April.
13th May 2022 - Focus Taiwan News Channel

England's COVID prevalence falls again - ONS survey

The prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England fell to 1 in 45 people in the week ending May 7, the Office for National Statistics' Infection Survey said, down from an estimated 1 in 35 people who had the infection the previous week.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Mass Covid Testing, Already a Familiar Ritual, Becomes China’s New Normal

China is doubling down on mass testing as a key weapon against Covid-19 even as costs mount and the highly infectious Omicron variant exposes challenges with the strategy. Mass testing has become a part of daily life across the country. Similar to how many people in the West have had to show a vaccine pass to dine out, enter the office or get on a plane, in China, the thing not to leave home without is a negative Covid test. In many cities, a test taken within the past 48 or 72 hours is required for any facet of public life, such as grocery shopping or taking public transportation. The government is setting up thousands of stationary PCR-testing stations across the country as part of an official campaign to institutionalize testing. In some cities, the goal is to have one within a 15-minute walking distance of any resident.
13th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

How air pollution can affect covid-19 risks

Research has shown that being unvaccinated raises a person’s risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus, while being older, overweight or immunocompromised can increase the severity of the disease. Now scientists think there is another risk factor that may increase the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus and the possibility that it will lead to a poor outcome: exposure to air pollution. A growing body of evidence suggests links between breathing polluted air and the chances of being infected by the coronavirus, developing a severe illness or dying of covid-19. While many of these studies focused on long-term exposure to air pollution, experts say there is also building evidence that even short-term exposures may have negative effects.
13th May 2022 - The Washington Post

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Covid-19 deaths in the United States: Reinforcing the notion of ‘two Americas’

The notion of Covid-19 causing two Americas was on many minds in the summer of 2021. The Washington Post and LA Times both wrote about it; Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned it in an interview. One America had high demand for Covid-19 vaccines, the other had widespread vaccine hesitancy and opposition to mask and vaccine mandates. This narrative helped shape the understanding of what happened as well as what the country should be doing now to control the pandemic. But Covid has been dividing the nation since the start of the pandemic. Our recent analysis of Covid-19 deaths by region, published in PLoS One, supports the two Americas idea.
12th May 2022 - STAT News

U.S. will share COVID-19 vaccine technology, Biden tells global summit,

The United States will share technologies used to make COVID-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization and is working to expand rapid testing and antiviral treatments for hard-to-reach populations, President Joe Biden said on Thursday. Speaking at the second global COVID-19 summit, Biden called on Congress to provide additional funds so that the U.S. may contribute more to the global pandemic response. "We are making available health technologies that are owned by the United States government, including stabilized spike protein that is used in many COVID-19 vaccines," Biden said in his opening speech.
12th May 2022 - Reuters

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Covid: EU lifts face mask requirement for air travel as pandemic ebbs

The European Union will no longer require masks to be worn at airports and on planes starting next week amid the easing of coronavirus restrictions across the bloc, authorities said.
12th May 2022 - The Scotsman

Lifting zero-Covid policies in China could risk 1.6m deaths, says study

The lifting of zero-Covid policies in China would see a “tsunami” of infections and almost 1.6 million deaths, a study claims, citing in part China’s low vaccination rate of elderly residents. China’s government remains committed to a zero-Covid policy, employing resource intensive mass testing and case surveillance, and enforcing lockdowns, strict quarantine and isolation. A speech last week by the president, Xi Jinping, reaffirmed the commitment, despite the challenge posed by the Omicron variant which has already overwhelmed other countries’ zero-Covid policies. The peer reviewed study by Shanghai’s Fudan University, published in the Nature journal, said a decision by Chinese authorities to lift such measures could see more than 112 million symptomatic cases of Covid-19, five million hospitalisations, and 1.55 million deaths.
11th May 2022 - The Guardian

Failure to address a global surplus of COVID vaccines raises the risk of new variants emerging, health experts warn

The world finds itself awash in COVID-19 vaccines, but governments can’t get them into arms fast enough, as hesitancy and logistical hurdles threaten to indefinitely extend the pandemic. Advocates for widespread inoculation say participants at the second global COVID-19 summit need to come up with a plan to shift focus from producing vaccines to administering shots. They warn that failure raises the risk of new variants arising, potentially with the ability to evade vaccine immunity and spark yet another wave of infections and deaths.
11th May 2022 - Fortune

Some with positive rapid test results to be counted as COVID-19 cases

The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday released more details on a new policy that will allow certain individuals in Taiwan who receive a positive result from a COVID-19 rapid antigen test to be counted as a confirmed case without having to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Previously, all individuals in Taiwan were only listed as a COVID-19 case after a positive PCR test result. The new policy, which will be launched Thursday, applies only to people who are following the "3+4" isolation protocol for close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19, as well as travelers who are in quarantine after arriving in Taiwan, the CECC said.
11th May 2022 - Focus Taiwan News Channel

WHO: Subvariants fueling COVID rises in more than 50 countries

At a briefing today, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, the WHO's director-general, said the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are driving South Africa's surge, with the BA.2 subvariant dominant across the world and COVID-19 cases rising in more than 50 nations. Relatively high population immunity from vaccination or previous infection are so far keeping hospitalizations and deaths at a lower levels than previous surges. "But this is not guaranteed for places where vaccination coverage is low." He said South African scientists are pushing more vaccination to blunt the impact of the next pandemic wave. Along with saving lives and protecting health systems, immunization has the potential to minimize long COVID, which can be devastating for individuals, communities, and economies, Tedros added.
10th May 2022 - CIDRAP

The ‘five pandemics’ driving 1 million U.S. Covid deaths

Officially, the U.S. will almost certainly reach an awful milestone in the next two weeks: its one millionth recorded Covid-19 death. In reality, this milestone was likely unofficially crossed days or weeks ago, and we’ll never know the exact toll or the identity of the pandemic’s actual millionth victim. Nor are humans well-equipped to fully grasp loss on this scale, let alone the magnitude of a global toll estimated to be as high as 14.9 million. One way to start understanding how a country as advanced as the U.S. lost so many people is to look at the ocean of public health data that was gathered as 1 million individual tragedies rippled through civic life.
10th May 2022 - STAT News

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Canada must focus on global vaccine access to curb COVID-19, expert warns MPs

Canada needs to turn its COVID-19 aid attention to expanding vaccine production everywhere or the virus will continue to run wild, mutate and bring new waves of disease, says a prominent expert. Dr. Madhukar Pai, a Canada Research Chair in epidemiology and global health at McGill University, told the House of Commons foreign affairs committee he doesn’t think rich countries like Canada have learned a thing from the first two years of the pandemic. “The selfishness, greed and myopia of the richest countries in the world that we have seen the naked display of in the last two years, I’m 100 per cent convinced in the next crisis, we will behave the exact same way,” he said Monday.
10th May 2022 - Global News

China risks Omicron 'tsunami' and 1.6mn deaths if it abandons zero-Covid strategy, study shows

The head of the World Health Organization has warned that China’s zero-Covid strategy is unsustainable, as new modelling showed the country risked unleashing a “tsunami” of coronavirus infections and causing 1.6mn deaths if it abandons the policy. “As we all know, the virus is evolving, changing its behaviours, becoming more transmissible. With that changing behaviour, changing your measures will be very important. When we talk about the zero-Covid strategy, we don’t think it’s sustainable,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, said on Tuesday. He said the WHO had discussed the issue with Chinese experts, adding that “considering the behaviour of the virus I think a shift [in China’s strategy] will be very important”.
10th May 2022 - Financial Times

Analysis: Test, test, test? Scientists question costly mass COVID checks

For many people worldwide, having cotton swabs thrust up their nose or down their throat to test for COVID-19 has become a routine and familiar annoyance. But two years into the pandemic, health officials in some countries are questioning the merits of repeated, mass testing when it comes to containing infections, particularly considering the billions it costs. Chief among them is Denmark, which championed one of the world's most prolific COVID testing regimes early on. Lawmakers are now demanding a close study of whether that policy was effective.
10th May 2022 - Reuters

Pandemic gets tougher to track as COVID testing plunges

Testing for COVID-19 has plummeted across the globe, making it much tougher for scientists to track the course of the pandemic and spot new, worrisome viral mutants as they emerge and spread. Experts say testing has dropped by 70 to 90% worldwide from the first to the second quarter of this year — the opposite of what they say should be happening with new omicron variants on the rise in places such as the United States and South Africa. “We’re not testing anywhere near where we might need to,” said Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, who directs the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University. “We need the ability to ramp up testing as we’re seeing the emergence of new waves or surges to track what’s happening” and respond.
10th May 2022 - Associated Press

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Affordable Covid drugs kept out of reach by sluggish WTO

There is still a long way to go before South Africa and other developing countries can manufacture Covid vaccines and treatments quickly and without paying the huge charges demanded by the big US and European drug companies. Last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that the 180-member trade forum had taken a step towards a patent waiver that would allow developing countries to make the drugs they need – including vaccines, tests, and treatments – for as long as five years, without payments to pharma giants such as Pfizer. The EU, India, South Africa and the US, known as the Quad, claimed to have come to an agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (Trips) waiver proposal, with China also expected to vote in favour.
9th May 2022 - The Guardian

How Hong Kong's vaccination missteps led to the world's highest covid-19 death rate

Hong Kong’s strict guidelines on social distancing and its restrictions on travel ensured months of low infection rates for covid-19, until the omicron variant hit the city in February 2022. Before that, Hong Kong had reported 212 deaths related to covid-19; around 9000 people have since died from the virus in the city’s fifth wave of infection. As of late April, more than 70% of deaths were in patients aged 80 or older, 73% of whom were unvaccinated. The hospital system has been overwhelmed, with patients occupying hospital beds in parking lots, bodies kept in hospital corridors and in patient rooms, and morgues overflowing. This is despite vaccines being readily available in the city since February 2021. Hong Kong had procured enough doses of the Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines for its population of seven million, and both vaccines were made available at community vaccination centres and private clinics across the city within weeks of the rollout. Older citizens were given priority access to vaccination.
9th May 2022 - The BMJ

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Beijing kicks off fresh round of COVID tests as Shanghai postpones crucial exams

China's capital Beijing kicked off a fresh round of mass testing for COVID-19 on Saturday and shut more bus routes and metro stations, as it seeks to avert the fate of Shanghai, where millions of residents have been locked down for over a month. The draconian movement curbs on Shanghai, an economic and financial hub, have caused frustration among its 25 million residents and triggered rare protests over issues such as access to food and medical care, loss of income and crowded as well as unsanitary conditions at central quarantine centres.
7th May 2022 - Reuters

Beijing District Shuts Gyms, Movie Theaters to Halt Covid Spread

A key district in China’s capital has ordered some businesses providing non-essential services such as gyms and movie theaters to close to prevent the spread of Covid infections after President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his stringent Covid Zero policy. Beijing’s eastern Chaoyang district, home to embassies and offices of multinationals including Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., ordered companies “providing services other than those supporting residents’ livelihoods” to be closed until further notice, an official said at a briefing on Friday evening. Businesses ordered closed include karaoke bars, internet cafes, museums and art galleries, said Yang Beibei, deputy director of Chaoyang district.
7th May 2022 - Bloomberg

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New York City could bring back Covid mask mandate, vaccine checks if hospitals come under pressure

New York City could bring back mask mandates and proof of vaccination status to go to restaurants, bars and other venues if Covid hospitalizations rise to a concerning level, according to the city’s top health official. The city increased its Covid alert level from low to medium earlier this week as infections surpassed a rate of 200 per 100,000 people, driven by the more contagious omicron BA.2 subvariant. For now, health officials are asking residents to exercise increased caution by voluntarily masking indoors and getting tested before and after gatherings. However, Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said New York might reinstate mandatory masking and vaccine checks if the city raises its Covid alert level to high.
5th May 2022 - CNBC

Western Australia could hit fresh COVID-19 peak as AMA remains nervous over removal of mask mandate

After Western Australia removed almost all of its COVID-19 rules last week, yesterday's new peak of 9,782 daily cases was pretty much expected. And with case numbers tending to be higher on Thursdays, it's possible today's tally will be another record. The Chief Health Officer warned this would likely happen, and it was a consequence of easing restrictions accepted by both Premier Mark McGowan and the Health Minister, Amber-Jade Sanderson. Asked about the rise yesterday, Ms Sanderson reiterated the key statistics are hospitalisations and intensive care admissions, which have remained relatively consistent.
5th May 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Does the World Still Need New Covid-19 Vaccines?

Our mandate remains to develop the best tools to prevent the emergence of new variants of concern and control the health and socioeconomic fallout from new surges. The decision by representatives of the African region to establish a network of six mRNA technology hubs10 is a sign that countries and regions are motivated to build local and regional capacity and expand self-sufficiency not only in planning and participating in key clinical trials but also in designing and manufacturing vaccines to better meet the needs of their populations during pandemic threats. Such technology hubs will need to embrace technologies beyond the mRNA approach.
5th May 2022 - Nejm.org

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U.S. CDC says travelers should still wear masks on airplanes

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday recommended travelers continue to wear masks in airplanes, trains and airports despite a judge's April 18 order declaring the 14-month-old transportation mask mandate unlawful. The CDC said it based its recommendation on current COVID-19 conditions and spread as well as the protective value of masks.
4th May 2022 - Reuters.com

Hong Kong to Open Up as Shanghai, Beijing Stick to China's Covid Zero Plan

Article reports that as Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing stick ever more closely to Covid Zero principles, no matter the economic cost, Hong Kong is methodically moving toward opening up to the rest of the world. On Tuesday, the government brought forward a plan to ease social distancing rules, allowing people to go mask-free when exercising outdoors and doubling the maximum number of diners per table to eight. That came two days after Hong Kong ended a two-year ban on visits by all non-residents and eased some restrictions on inbound flights. The moves reflect a broader push by influential figures in the city to focus on retaining Hong Kong’s appeal as an international financial hub, particularly as President Xi Jinping’s rigid Covid Zero strategy leaves little prospect of opening the land border with the mainland.
4th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Three new Covid Omicron subvariants detected in Australia

Three new Omicron subvariants have reached Australia and health authorities say people who contract the virus should wait three months before getting their next Covid-19 vaccination. Assoc Prof Stuart Turville from the University of New South Wales’ Kirby Institute says Omicron subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 have been detected in the country. Authorities are warning this winter season is likely to see a spike in Covid-19 cases and flu as restrictions which have suppressed the circulation of both viruses are phased out.
4th May 2022 - The Guardian

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CDC restates recommendation for masks on planes, trains

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Tuesday that Americans age two and older wear masks while on planes, trains and buses. It comes after the Department of Justice filed an appeal at the request of the CDC over a Florida judge's decision to strike down the mandate on April 18. The CDC's recommendation does not have to be enforced after many airlines opted to drop the masking and let passengers and employees do as they please. United Airlines said it would not reimpose its masking requirements following the CDC's latest recommendation. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested on Tuesday that the administration may not want to bring back the mask mandate
3rd May 2022 - Daily Mail

NHS to consider closing hundreds of COVID-19 vaccination sites

NHS commissioners will consider closing or 'pausing' hundreds of COVID-19 vaccination sites across England as the pandemic jab programme winds down.
3rd May 2022 - GP online

CDC moves tourism hot spot out of 'high' risk level for Covid-19

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the Covid-19 travel risk for one of the most popular destinations in the Western Hemisphere. Mexico was moved down a level on the CDC's scale from "high" risk to "moderate" risk on May 2, along with four other places around the world. Tourism is an important segment of the nation's economy, and Mexico has had some of the world's loosest border restrictions throughout the pandemic. There are no vaccination or testing requirements to visit.
3rd May 2022 - CNN

Costa Rica to roll out fourth COVID shot for some

Costa Rica will offer a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to the immunocompromised and to those over 50, the country's Health Ministry said. The fourth dose will be optional and can be applied three months after the third shot, said Dr. Roberto Arroba, secretary of the National Commission for Vaccination and Epidemiology at the Ministry of Health. More than 85% of the Central American country's population has received at least one shot, while 79% have had two doses, and 41% have received a third vaccine, according to official data.
3rd May 2022 - Reuters

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Beijing, Shanghai Outbreaks Renew Debate Over China’s Covid-19 Strategy

With Beijing and Shanghai struggling to control Covid-19 outbreaks, China’s pandemic strategy faces a moment of truth. The highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus has shut down Shanghai for more than a month. Its threat to do the same to the country’s capital is fueling debate over whether China needs to shift its zero-tolerance approach. Most of Shanghai’s 25 million residents remain confined to their homes, with little expectation of a quick return to normal life. Daily new infections have fallen in recent days, but public-health experts say any loosening of control measures could prompt a resurgence, overwhelming the healthcare system and exacting an unacceptably high toll on the elderly and unvaccinated.
2nd May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Italy, Greece Relax Covid Restrictions, Open to Tourists

For travellers heading to Europe, summer vacations just got a whole lot easier. Italy and Greece relaxed some COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday before Europe's peak summer tourist season, in a sign that life was increasingly returning to normal. Greece’s civil aviation authority announced that it was lifting all COVID-19 rules for international and domestic flights except for the wearing of face masks during flights and at airports. Previously, air travelers were required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test or a recent recovery from the disease. As of Sunday, visitors to Italy no longer have to fill out the EU passenger locator form, a complicated online ordeal required at airport check-in.
1st May 2022 - Bloomberg

China’s Covid-19 Defenses Have a Missing Piece: Vaccinating the Elderly

In its fervor to fight Covid-19, China has gone all out with a now-familiar protocol of mass testing and lockdowns. It now has to catch up on a missing piece in its defense: Many of the country’s elderly and most vulnerable citizens haven’t gotten vaccinated. While about 88% of Chinese people had received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of mid-March, the ratio among those over 80—those most at risk of severe illness and death from an infection—was just 51%. Fewer than one in five people over 80 had received a booster as of mid-March, according to government data. In Shanghai, that figure is 15%. Among Chinese over 60, 50 million people remain entirely unvaccinated.
30th Apr 2022 - Wall Street Journal

Ecuador lifts indoor and outdoor mask mandates

Ecuador will immediately lift mask mandates for both indoor and outdoor spaces thanks to significant gains made against coronavirus, President Guillermo Lasso said on Thursday. The decision is based on vaccination figures of 87% for those aged 3 and over and COVID-19 test positivity rates of just 5%, he said, as well as an effort to give second booster shots to adults.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong's mandatory COVID testing in schools fuels plastic waste woes

A Hong Kong government rule that all school students and staff take daily COVID-19 tests will add massively to the city's plastic waste problem, environmental activists say, with some 20 million kits a month set to be dumped at bursting landfills. The mandatory rapid antigen tests (RAT), and their plastic accessories are expected to worsen marine and land pollution in the financial hub of 7.4 million people where some beaches and hiking trails are already awash with microplastics.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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S.Korea to lift outdoor mask mandate starting next week

South Korea said on Friday it will lift an outdoor face mask mandate next week in the country's latest step to ease COVID-19 restrictions, despite opposition from the incoming government which labelled the decision "premature". Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said the decision was made as the government could "no longer look away" from the inconveniences experienced by its citizens when the country's virus situation was stabilising.
29th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Italy orders mask wearing for some indoor venues until mid-June

Face masks will remain compulsory in Italy on public transport and in some indoor venues until June 15, the health minister said on Thursday, as one of the country's hardest hit by COVID delayed an end to pandemic restrictions. Masks will still be required to access cinemas, theatres, indoor events and to enter hospitals, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, adding that the government intends to be cautious in lifting the remaining measures. "We have decided to keep in place for a while, at least until June 15, an element of caution that I believe is necessary," Speranza said at an event organised by a medical doctors' union.
28th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Denmark becomes the first country to "pause" its Covid vaccination program

Denmark has become the first country to halt its Covid vaccination program, saying it is doing so because the virus has been brought under control. “Spring has arrived, vaccine coverage in the Danish population is high, and the epidemic has reversed,” Danish Health Authority said in a statement Wednesday announcing the move. Far from scrapping its vaccination program altogether, however, the Danish Health and Medicines Authority said there will probably be a need to vaccinate against Covid-19 again in the fall.
28th Apr 2022 - CNBC

The benefits of large scale covid-19 vaccination

New evidence confirms that fewer people die in better vaccinated communities - The first covid-19 vaccines were administered under emergency use authorisation in December 2020, just one year into the pandemic, a “miracle” of pharmaceutical innovation that has saved an estimated million lives or more in the US alone.12 The authorisation was given on the basis of safety and efficacy in randomised controlled trials, which found that immunisation with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines protected a remarkably high percentage (>90%) of recipients from developing symptomatic infection and, to a lesser extent, from asymptomatic infection too. In other words, when tested against the SARS-CoV-2 variants prevailing in 2020 and early 2021, these novel covid-19 vaccines could stop the great majority of infections from causing illness and help to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. But could vaccination prevent infection and illness on a large scale, outside the controlled environment of clinical trials? A linked study by Suthar and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-069317) adds to the evidence that it can, across the US
28th Apr 2022 - The BMJ

Shanghai's focus shifts to vaccination of elderly as new cases decline

The COVID-hit city of Shanghai is making more resources available to improve vaccination rates among the elderly as daily case numbers decline and it looks for a way out of four weeks of stringent lockdown restrictions. The city, battling China's biggest ever coronavirus outbreak, saw new asymptomatic cases fall to 9,330 on April 27, down 22% from a day earlier and its lowest rate in 24 days, with symptomatic infections also down by almost a fifth.
28th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Turkey ready to lift all COVID-19 measures, Erdogan says

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey is ready to lift all measures against the coronavirus, adding that mask wearing will no longer be obligatory indoors. Speaking after the final meeting of the advisory science council, Erdogan said masks will still be mandated on public transport and in medical institutions until daily new cases drop below 1,000. Turkey had previously lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors and in indoor areas with good ventilation.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Malaysia to lift more COVID curbs, eases mask mandate

Malaysia will ease more COVID-19 curbs from the start of next month, including lifting restrictions on those who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus and scrapping the need to wear masks outdoors, its health minister said. The Southeast Asian nation has seen some of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the region, but infection surges have since subsided amid a ramped up vaccination programme. Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Wednesday people will now be able to enter public premises regardless of their vaccination status, except those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or unvaccinated travellers undergoing quarantine.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters

China's Hangzhou, Home to Alibaba, to Start Mass Covid Testing

The Chinese city of Hangzhou, home to tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., will start mass testing for Covid-19, while cases in Shanghai fell for a fifth day. The testing drive will cover most of Hangzhou’s downtown area, with 10,000 free test sites to be set up, the municipal government said in a statement late Wednesday. It urged residents to get tested every 48 hours. Just a short train ride from Shanghai, the city of around 12 million people is home to a small but notable network of tech companies, including games maker NetEase Inc. and video-surveillance product company Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co.
28th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

England Covid-19 Cases: 70% of Country Has Been Infected

Around seven in 10 people in England are likely to have had coronavirus since the early months of the pandemic, new figures suggest. An estimated 38.5 million people in private households - or 70.7% of the population - have had at least one infection since the end of April 2020. The figures have been compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) using data from its long-running Covid-19 infection survey. The survey began in England on April 27 2020, which means the estimates do not cover most of the initial wave of the virus that began in early March.
28th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

EU estimates up to 80% of population has had COVID

The European Commission said that between 60% and 80% of the EU population was estimated to have been infected with COVID-19, as the bloc enters a post-emergency phase in which mass reporting of cases was no longer necessary. In preparing for this less acute phase, European Union governments should ramp up COVID-19 immunisations of children, the bloc's executive body said, signallingit was considering plans to develop antivirals.
28th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Japan to limit scope of fourth jabs to older people and those at higher risk

In Japan, the health ministry adopted a plan Wednesday to limit eligibility for fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines to those age 60 or over, as well as those who are age 18 or over with underlying conditions. Arrangements for fourth doses, positioned as part of a publicly funded emergency vaccination program, are aimed at preventing people from developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Under the program, those age 60 or older will be obliged to make efforts to receive fourth vaccine shots.
27th Apr 2022 - The Japan Times

Australians urged to get flu shots as Covid deaths rise and winter sets in

Australians have been urged to get their flu vaccinations to help hospitals cope in the months ahead as they deal with a rise in Covid-19 cases, and as some states experience double-digit daily death tolls. At least 42 coronavirus deaths were recorded on Wednesday in Australia, with 10 in New South Wales, 13 in Victoria, 10 in Western Australia and nine in Queensland. There were 4,027 Covid deaths nationally in the first quarter of 2022, data from the Actuaries Institute shows, including 1,668 in January, 1,520 in February and 839 in March. So far in April there have been 770 deaths.
27th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

Hangzhou Starts Mass Covid Tests; Shanghai Cases Drop

The Chinese city of Hangzhou, home to tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., will start mass testing for Covid-19, while cases in Shanghai fell for a fifth day. The testing drive will cover most of Hangzhou’s downtown area, with 10,000 free test sites to be set up, the municipal government said in a statement late Wednesday. It urged residents to get tested every 48 hours. Just a short train ride from Shanghai, the city of around 12 million people is home to a small but notable network of tech companies, including games maker NetEase Inc. and video-surveillance product company Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co.
27th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai seeks ‘societal zero COVID’ with rounds of testing

Shanghai city authorities said Wednesday they will start rounds of COVID-19 testing over the next few days to determine which neighborhoods can safely be allowed a limited amount of freedom of movement, as residents in Beijing watch carefully on word for whether the capital city will lock down. On Wednesday, China reported 14,222 new cases, the vast majority of which were asymptomatic. The country is battling its largest outbreak since the pandemic was first reported in Wuhan in late December 2019. Shanghai’s vice head of its health committee, Zhao Dandan, announced Wednesday that the city would begin another round of testing for city residents over the next few days to determine which districts were lower risk.
27th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

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Relief, revival as Singapore scraps its COVID curbs

Strict limits on workplaces and gatherings were no more on Tuesday, with employees lingering outside workplaces and public transport teeming with commuters eager for normalcy after two years of containment. "Almost full office today, first time in quite a while," said Slava Nikitin, 34, a product manager. "There were queues for elevators this morning, even though we have six elevators." Singapore has been lauded for its speed and success in its vaccine rollout, with 93% of the population inoculated, one of the highest rates in the world, helping to limit COVID fatalities to just 1,331.
26th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Turkey ready to lift all COVID-19 measures, Erdogan says

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey is ready to lift all measures against the coronavirus, adding that mask wearing will no longer be obligatory indoors. Speaking after the final meeting of the advisory science council, Erdogan said masks will still be mandated on public transport and in medical institutions until daily new cases drop below 1,000. Turkey had previously lifted the requirement to wear masks outdoors and in indoor areas with good ventilation.
26th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Albania to end virus restrictions before summer vacations

Albanian authorities have decided to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions before the summer vacation season. The Technical Committee of Experts, the country’s highest executive body during the pandemic, said Tuesday that coronavirus-related measures will end in Albania as of May 1. The decision means masks no longer will be required indoors and nightclubs won’t be subject to an 11 p.m. curfew Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for the virus won’t be needed at border crossings.
26th Apr 2022 - Associated Press

WA announces major overhaul to mask, proof of vaccination COVID-19 rules

West Australians will finally be able to ditch their face masks in most indoor settings, as the state prepares to ease a swathe of public health measures. From 12.01am Friday, people aged 12 and over will only be required to wear masks will in hospitals, aged care, disability care facilities and on public transport, taxis and rideshares. Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson announced proof of vaccination requirements will also be scrapped except at hospitals and residential aged care facilities.
26th Apr 2022 - 7news.com,au

Mexico to enable COVID vaccination of all children aged 12 and above

Mexico will let all children aged over 12 be registered for COVID-19 vaccination from Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said. Lopez-Gatell, the country's coronavirus czar, was speaking at a regular government news conference on Tuesday.
26th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Covid-19: Karnataka to make wearing masks mandatory again

Karnataka Health Department on Monday said that wearing facemasks is mandatory as a preventive step to control the surge of Covid-19 cases.
25th Apr 2022 - India Times

Millions of COVID-19 shots set to go to waste, as vaccine rollout slows

While top U.S. health officials are urging some Americans to get yet another coronavirus booster shot, local health departments across the country are grappling with a growing dilemma -- how to address a declining demand for vaccines, while minimizing the waste of unused millions of doses currently in state stockpiles and at risk of expiring. Since the emergency use authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. last winter, federal data shows that states received a staggering 720 million doses, and more than 570 million of those shots have been administered.
25th Apr 2022 - ABC News

Can you use an expired at-home Covid-19 test?

Rapid antigen Covid-19 tests, better known as home tests, have become more common in households across the country as supplies have increased. These tests are designed to give you results in less than 30 minutes from the comfort of your own home. But if you have several boxes of them stored away, perhaps left over from winter's Omicron surge or from the federal program that sends up to eight free tests to US households, you might wonder whether they're safe and accurate to use beyond the expiration date on the package.
25th Apr 2022 - CNN

Americans back flexible approach on masks, but eager to move on from COVID-Reuters/Ipsos

Most Americans support a flexible approach to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, with cities reimposing mask mandates when cases surge, even as a growing number are eager to get on with their lives, a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Friday found. The results of the two-day poll illustrate the balancing act facing U.S. officials - particularly President Joe Biden's Democrats - as they navigate a health crisis that will not go away. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults - including 83% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans - said cities and states should impose mask mandates for indoor public places if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 in their area, the poll found.
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Beijing's biggest district begins COVID mass testing

Beijing residents snapped up food and other supplies as the city's biggest district began mass COVID-19 testing of all residents on Monday, prompting fears of a Shanghai-style lockdown after dozens of cases in the capital in recent days. Authorities in Chaoyang, home to 3.45 million people, late on Sunday ordered residents and those who work there to be tested three times this week as Beijing warned the virus had "stealthily" spread in the city for about a week before being detected.
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Covid-19 Restrictions in Israel: Indoor Mask Mandate Dropped

Israel has lifted an indoor mask mandate in place for nearly a year as the country’s new cases of coronavirus continue to drop. The end of the masking requirement took effect Saturday night. Masks remain mandatory in hospitals, elderly care facilities and on international flights. Israel has seen new cases of COVID-19 drop since the peak of the latest wave of infections in January. Serious cases of coronavirus have plummeted from a high of over 1,200 during the omicron variant outbreak to around 200. Since the start of the pandemic two years ago, Israel has recorded over 4 million cases of coronavirus and at least 10,658 deaths — over one-fifth of them since January, according to the Health Ministry
24th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

People who live, work in Beijing's Chaoyang will have to take 3 COVID tests in coming week

Beijing's Chaoyang district will require people who live and work in the district to undergo three coronavirus tests this coming week, the city government of Beijing said on Sunday. Chaoyang is the biggest district in Beijing and is home to 3.45 million people. The city government's requirement comes after Beijing reported 22 new coronavirus cases on Saturday.
24th Apr 2022 - Reuters

No Covid tests on arrival for vaccinated travellers from May 1

The Test & Go process for foreign arrivals will be terminated at the end of the month and vaccinated travellers will be only advised to do self-antigen tests for Covid-19 from May 1, to stimulate tourism and the economy, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday. "Tourism is recovering and antigen tests will be more convenient and faster for visitors," Gen Prayut said after chairing a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) at Government House. "Many countries are relaxing travel restrictions significantly and our country depends considerably on tourism to support our economy," the prime minister said.
23rd Apr 2022 - ฺBangkok Post

Mask mandates return to US college campuses as cases rise

The final weeks of the college school year have been disrupted yet again by COVID-19 as universities bring back mask mandates, switch to online classes and scale back large gatherings in response to upticks in coronavirus infections. Colleges in Washington, D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Texas have reimposed a range of virus measures, with Howard University moving to remote learning amid a surge in cases in the nation’s capital. This is the third straight academic year that has been upended by COVID-19, meaning soon-to-be seniors have yet to experience a normal college year.
23rd Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Mask Mandate Is Gone, but Turbulence Remains for Airlines, Fliers

For two years, masks were a fraught issue for airlines, comforting some passengers, angering others and making flight attendants into enforcers. Now, the masks are gone—but the friction is set to continue. Airlines are hopeful that easing mask rules will tamp down on in-flight conflicts, after a federal judge in Florida this week struck down the Biden administration’s Covid-19 mask mandate for public transportation. The Justice Department has said it would appeal that decision, but in the meantime, the mandate isn’t being enforced and U.S. carriers have said masks are optional for passengers and staff. It has also left airlines to decide what to do with thousands of passengers who broke mask rules during the pandemic, and earned bans. United Airlines Holdings Inc. President Brett Hart said the Chicago-based airline is getting back in touch with people who were banned from United flights over the course of the pandemic.
23rd Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Singapore Phases Out the Use of a Controversial Covid Contact Tracing App

Singapore will move away from a key Covid-19 contact tracing app that previously attracted controversy due to government disclosures about its use for criminal investigations, but retain the data under a previously passed law. The health ministry on Friday said most venues will no longer require the public to check in using the TraceTogether program from April 26, a mobile application and device used by authorities for identifying the close contacts and locations visited by infected persons.
23rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Philadelphia Lifts Indoor Mask Mandate

Philadelphia lifted its citywide indoor mask mandate just days after becoming the first major U.S. city to reimpose such a requirement, officials said. Officials lifted the mandate Friday after the city’s Board of Health voted Thursday evening to rescind it, citing improvements in local Covid-19 data. The city also said it is changing how it looks at metrics such as new Covid-19 cases, that triggered the reinstatement of the mask mandate this month. It would no longer use the system of responses that imposed various measures such as mask mandates based on data. Officials said strong recommendations are adequate at this stage of the pandemic for changing people’s behavior.
22nd Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Incoming S.Korean leader's team to review lifting of COVID curbs

South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol is at odds with a decision by the outgoing government to lift nearly all coronavirus curbs this week, vowing to reconsider a plan to exempt all patients from quarantine requirements from May. In a major step this week towards a return to normal life, the government of President Moon Jae-in lifted almost all its social distancing curbs, such as midnight curfew for restaurants and a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

UK patient had COVID-19 for 505 days straight, study shows

A U.K. patient with a severely weakened immune system had COVID-19 for almost a year and a half, scientists reported, underscoring the importance of protecting vulnerable people from the coronavirus. There’s no way to know for sure whether it was the longest-lasting COVID-19 infection because not everyone gets tested, especially on a regular basis like this case. But at 505 days, “it certainly seems to be the longest reported infection,” said Dr. Luke Blagdon Snell, an infectious disease expert at the Guy’s & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Snell’s team plans to present several “persistent” COVID-19 cases at an infectious diseases meeting in Portugal this weekend. Their study investigated which mutations arise — and whether variants evolve — in people with super long infections.
22nd Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Boston urges masks as battle brews over transit rule

Boston urged people to start wearing masks Thursday and the Biden administration weighed its next legal step in what is shaping up to be a high-stakes court fight over the abrupt end of the national mask mandate on airplanes and mass transit. The Boston Public Health Commission noted a rise in hospitalizations, as well as a 65% increase in cases and an even larger spike in COVID-19 levels in local wastewater samples. It also stressed that the guidance was merely a recommendation, not an order. The country is wrestling with how to deal with the next phase of the pandemic and find the right balance in enacting health measures at a time when many Americans are ready to move on after two exhausting years.
21st Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

How to Avoid Getting Covid in a Mostly Mask-Free World

This week’s lifting of mask requirements on airplanes and, in many parts of the country, on public transportation is a major turning point in the U.S. pandemic response. From now on, it seems, avoiding or minimizing Covid-19 infection will be a personal endeavor, not a societal one. This is for some people a welcome shift toward normalcy and for others a cause for anxiety and confusion. Many occupy an awkward middle space between not wanting to throw in the towel and also wanting to break free of some restrictions. About 42% of adults in the U.S. have gone back to some but not all of their pre-pandemic activities, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
21st Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

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Should I still wear a mask on a plane?

The abrupt end of the federal mask mandate for public transportation and an uptick in coronavirus cases across the country have left some Americans wondering: Should I still wear a mask in certain situations or places? The confusion comes after a federal judge struck down the transportation mandate, prompting airlines and transportation agencies to lift their mask rules just as cases are starting to tick up again. Most states and cities that still had indoor mask mandates lifted them weeks ago. President Biden said Tuesday that people should decide for themselves if they want to wear masks or not. Here’s what we know about the science of masking to help you make decisions about if, when and where to cover your face.
20th Apr 2022 - The Washington Post

COVID-19: Social distancing requirement scrapped in hospital and GP waiting rooms in England

Social distancing rules in the NHS have been scrapped, according to new guidance issued by the health service. Patients in England will no longer need to be distanced from one another in GP and hospital waiting rooms. NHS organisations have been told to return to "pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas", but people will still be encouraged to wear face coverings. The new guidance covers "all areas" including emergency departments and other hospital settings, ambulances, patient transport services and GP surgeries.
20th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Delhi makes masks mandatory again after COVID cases rise

New Delhi authorities on Wednesday made the wearing of masks compulsory again after COVID-19 infections rose in the Indian capital in recent days. "In view of the rise in COVID positive cases recently and as advised by the experts, it was decided to enhance testing, focus on vaccination coverage of targeted population and ensure strict enforcement of COVID appropriate behaviour," Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said on Twitter.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Uber, Lyft and Disney end mask mandates as COVID cases fall

Uber and Lyft have scrapped face mask mandates for their riders and drivers in the United States, the ride-hailing companies said on Tuesday, as COVID cases have fallen sharply from their January peak. Walt Disney also said that wearing masks would be optional for fully vaccinated visitors at its indoor and outdoor locations and transport facilities. It recommended guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings at all indoor locations and enclosed transportation
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

U.S. Justice Department appeals transportation mask ruling

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling ending a mask mandate on public transportation and airplanes, a spokesman said, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the measure was still needed. A U.S. district judge ruled on Monday that the mandates, which apply to planes, trains and other public transportation, were unlawful. The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling if the CDC determined the 14-month-old mandate was still needed.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Rise in at-home testing means we could be undercounting Covid-19 cases even more than before

As the number of Covid-19 cases grows in the United States, experts wonder if the country fully understands the current threat from the pandemic. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that only 7% of positive Covid-19 cases in the US are being detected, meaning case rates are actually 14.5 times higher than officially reported. The last time the infection detection rate was this low was at the outset of the pandemic, in March 2020. "It's a dynamic situation, and things are changing fast," said Ali Mokdad, a professor and chief strategy officer of population health at the institute.
19th Apr 2022 - CNN

Italy averted 150000 COVID-19 deaths due to vaccinations

Infections, hospitalisations and deaths associated with COVID-19 could have been much higher without the help of vaccinations in Italy, a recent report published by the National Institute of Health (ISS) has found. The COVID-19 vaccination campaign has avoided about eight million cases, over 500,000 hospitalisations, 55,000 intensive care stays and about 150,000 deaths in Italy, according to the data. The estimate refers to the period between 27 December 2020, when the campaign started, and 31 January 2022. As of 18 April, Italy registered 162,000 COVID-19-related deaths.
19th Apr 2022 - EURACTIV

COVID-19: Face masks no longer needed on public transport in the US after judge voids national mandate

People are no longer required to wear a mask on public transport in the US after a federal judge voided a national mandate, in a decision that has been described as "disappointing" by the White House. The judge, in Tampa, Florida, ruled that the national mask mandate, which covered airlines, airports, mass transit and taxis, was unlawful. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) failed to justify its decision to extend the rule until 3 May and did not follow proper law making.
19th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Moderna says dual variant booster with Beta more effective vs Omicron than current shot

Moderna Inc on Tuesday said a COVID-19 booster designed to target the Beta variant as well as the original coronavirus generated a better immune response against a number of virus variants including Omicron. Moderna said the results were a good sign for the company's plans for future shots targeting two COVID-19 variants. Dr. Jacqueline Miller, a top Moderna scientist, said the company had no immediate plans to file for authorization of the bivalent vaccine including the Beta variant. It will submit the data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in order to lay the groundwork for a future bivalent vaccine candidate that includes the Omicron variant as a target.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Uber scraps mask requirement for riders, drivers as COVID cases fall

Uber has scrapped mandatory face masks for its riders and drivers in the United States, the ride-hailing company said on Tuesday, adding that riders have the option to cancel their trip if they feel uncomfortable with its move. The company introduced mask mandates for its drivers, riders and delivery workers around the world in May 2020 as COVID-19 cases rose.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Canada to keep mask mandate after judge strikes down U.S. rule

Canada's government said on Tuesday it has no plans to stop requiring masks on planes after a Florida judge struck down a U.S. version of the law. "We are taking a layered approach to keeping travelers safe, and masks remain an incredibly useful tool in our arsenal against COVID-19," a spokesperson for Canada's Transport Minister wrote in an email. The spokesperson confirmed masks will be required on Canadian airlines and on flights that depart from or arrive in Canada. The federal government also requires travelers to wear masks and track close contacts for 14 days after arriving in Canada.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

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Mask Mandate Overturned for Planes, Public Transportation by Florida Judge

A federal judge overturned the U.S. government mask mandate on airplanes, trains and other public transportation, dealing a blow to the Biden administration as fights continue nationwide over policies tied to the Covid-19 pandemic. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, Florida, vacated the mask requirement nationwide and directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse the policy put in place in February 2021. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the Health Freedom Defense Fund. Mizelle, an appointee of former president Donald Trump, ruled that the CDC had incorrectly described the mask mandate as a form of “sanitation” to justify its authority in the matter.
18th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

WHO warns coronavirus is far from settling into endemic situation

COVID-19 is far from becoming an endemic disease and could still trigger large outbreaks around the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. WHO Health Emergencies Programme Director Michael Ryan said on Thursday that it was wrong to think that if COVID-19 settles down and becomes endemic, it will mean the end of the problem. “I certainly do not believe we’ve reached anything close to an endemic situation with this virus,” Ryan told a question-and-answer session on the WHO’s social media channels. “That is not an endemic disease yet,” he said.
15th Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Pfizer, Moderna, J&J See Respiratory Virus RSV as Next Vaccine Target

After Covid-19, vaccine makers’ next big target is a respiratory virus that kills up to 500 children a year nationwide and has been among the leading causes of U.S. hospitalizations for decades. The respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, infects nearly everyone at some point, causing mild, cold-like symptoms for most people. But it can lead to serious health problems such as difficulty breathing and pneumonia for infants and older adults. The virus has for decades eluded efforts to develop a vaccine, including a major setback in the 1960s when an experimental shot harmed some children in testing. RSV is one of the last remaining childhood diseases without an approved vaccine.
15th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

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Vaccines have halved Italy's COVID-19 death toll, study shows

Vaccines against COVID-19 have roughly halved the death toll from the disease in Italy, preventing some 150,000 fatalities and 8 million cases last year, the National Health Institute (ISS) estimated on Wednesday. The ISS study, which ran from the start of 2021 until the end of January this year, concluded the inoculation campaign also prevented more than 500,000 hospitalisations and over 55,000 admissions to intensive care. Italy has registered 161,032 deaths linked to COVID-19 since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth highest in the world.
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Transportation Mask Mandate to Be Extended 15 Days

Passengers will be required to wear masks on airplanes and other forms of transportation through May 3 as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks to evaluate whether rising Covid-19 case numbers will lead to more hospitalizations, the CDC said. The Transportation Security Administration’s directive requiring masks was set to expire after April 18 but is being extended another 15 days. The recent rise in newly reported Covid-19 cases in parts of the country, fueled by the Omicron BA.2 variant, has complicated efforts to topple one of the most visible and persistent remnants of pandemic restrictions. The extension will give additional time for the CDC to learn more about BA.2, the latest Covid-19 variant, and make an informed decision, the CDC said. Since early April, there have been increases in the seven-day moving average of cases in the U.S. and the extension will help the CDC assess the potential impact of the uptick on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and healthcare-system capacity, the CDC said.
14th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Study finds a consistent temporal association between mask use and COVID-19 vaccination status

The CRP study was carried out from April 2020 to June 2021 and is a prospective, multi-site cohort syndromic COVID-19 surveillance study of participants from ten healthcare settings in the mid-Atlantic and south-eastern USA. Participants were contacted via email or text and provided with surveys regarding their exposure to COVID-19, any COVID-19-related symptoms, and mask use. “Yes,” “No,” or “No interactions” were used to report the participant’s mask use. The study inclusion criteria consisted of: 18 years or older, enrolled by December 2020, and daily surveys needed to be completed ≥ 5 times a month. In this study, for a participant to be considered vaccinated, they needed to have received at least one dose of vaccine by August 31st, 2021.
13th Apr 2022 - News-Medical.Net