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Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 28th Nov 2022

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China's Covid Cases Jump to a Record as Outbreaks Persist

China’s daily Covid infections climbed to a record high, exceeding the previous peak in April, as it battles an outbreak that has grown since the country adopted a more targeted approach to containing the virus. The country reported 29,754 new cases for Wednesday, more than the 28,973 infections recorded in mid-April when the financial hub of Shanghai was in the midst of a grueling two-month lockdown that saw residents struggle to access food and medical services. China’s official figures separately report symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, which can lead to inflated numbers when people are re-classified after developing symptoms.
25th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg

China Covid Cases Hit Record, Topping Shanghai Omicron Outbreak

China’s daily Covid infections climbed to a record high, exceeding the previous peak in April, as it battles an outbreak that has grown since the country adopted a more targeted approach to containing the virus.  The country reported 29,754 new cases for Wednesday, more than the 28,973 infections recorded in mid-April when the financial hub of Shanghai was in the midst of a grueling two-month lockdown that saw residents struggle to access food and medical services. China’s official figures separately report symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, which can lead to inflated numbers when people are re-classified after developing symptoms. The Bloomberg News tally counts all local cases, regardless of symptoms, and removes the double-counting issue.
24th Nov 2022 - Bloomberg


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 21st Nov 2022

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Flu, RSV and Covid-19 Add to Crunch on Pediatric Hospitals

Flu activity continued to rise across the U.S. in the past week, adding to a crunch on emergency departments and pediatric hospitals from an early surge in respiratory viruses. Flu has caused an estimated 4.4 million illnesses, 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths so far this season including seven pediatric deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The highest flu hospitalization rates are among adults ages 65 and older, followed by children under the age of 5, the CDC said. Pediatric hospitals across the U.S. have been under strain for weeks from a rush of patients with RSV and other respiratory viruses. RSV amounts to a cold in most people, but the virus can be dangerous for younger children and older adults, especially those with other health concerns. 
18th Nov 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 14th Nov 2022

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Africa CDC commends China over partnership in vaccine manufacturing

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Friday commended China for partnering with African countries in the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines on the continent. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, the acting director of Africa CDC, said the partnership with countries such as Egypt, Algeria and Morocco has provided the continent with alternative sources of COVID-19 vaccines, particularly at the height of the pandemic in the middle of 2021.
12th Nov 2022 - Xinhua


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 7th Nov 2022

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China to make 'substantial' COVID policy changes soon - ex-govt expert

China will make substantial changes to its "dynamic-zero" COVID-19 policy in coming months, a former Chinese disease control official told a conference hosted by Citi on Friday, according to a recording of the session heard by Reuters. Separately, three sources familiar with the matter said China may soon further shorten quarantine requirements for inbound travellers. Zeng Guang, former chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention who has remained outspoken on China's COVID fight, said the conditions for China opening up were "accumulating", citing new vaccines and progress the country had made in antiviral drug research.
6th Nov 2022 - Reuters

‘Vaccine apathy’ slowing down London’s Covid booster rollout

Vaccine “apathy” is slowing down the rollout of London's Covid-19 booster jab, a top health professor has warned, as figures revealed that the capital continues to lag behind other regions on vaccination. Just over a third (33.2 per cent) of people aged 50 and over had received their autumn booster jab in London as of October 26, by far the lowest proportion in England. In comparison, over half of adults aged over 50 in the South West had received their booster. London was at least ten per cent behind every other region, according to Government statistics. Azeem Majeed, professor of primary care and public health at Imperial College London, warned that patients were displaying signs of “vaccine apathy” and had complained they have “already had enough” Covid-19 jabs.
5th Nov 2022 - Evening Standard


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st Oct 2022

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Italy to end ban on health workers not vaccinated against Covid

Italian doctors and nurses suspended from work because they are not vaccinated against Covid-19 will soon be reinstated, new Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said on Friday. The move is motivated by a worrying shortage of medical personnel together with declining cases of Covid-19. The new government will also cancel fines imposed on all people aged over 50 who had not got vaccinated, he added. "A measure is being finalised that will allow the reintegration into service of health staff subject to suspension proceedings for non-compliance with compulsory vaccination before the expiry date of the suspension," he said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.
29th Oct 2022 - Reuters

Experts Pessimistic on China Exiting Covid Zero Any Time Soon

Three years into the pandemic, China is sticking to its Covid Zero policy despite heavy economic costs, growing unrest and isolation from the rest of the world. Many expected President Xi Jinping to signal a pivot away from what has become a signature policy when he took the podium at the Communist Party’s congress this month. Instead, he defended the zero-tolerance strategy as one that saves lives, but offered no steer on when it’s likely to end. Xi’s absolute control over the party leadership and China has left experts debating what that means for the future of an approach that’s brought misery to millions. The brutal Shanghai lockdown earlier this year, overseen by Li Qiang — a Xi loyalist and China’s likely premier from 2023 — saw businesses upended and the city’s 25 million residents struggle to get even basic necessities.
28th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID disrupted measles vaccinations in Africa and now cases are surging

Fall waited with dozens of mothers and babies in the flooded courtyard of Bundung Hospital. Then a doctor emerged with bad news. The hospital had run out of measles vaccines, and it wasn't clear when they would receive more. After what health experts call the biggest backslide in a generation, 26 large or disruptive measles outbreaks have sprung up worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. A devastating outbreak in Zimbabwe has killed more than 700 children this year, chiefly among religious sects that do not believe in vaccinations. Now African health systems remain especially vulnerable due to a lack of funds and manpower, particularly in countries where conflict and malnutrition make children more vulnerable to deadly infection, according to Reuters interviews with more than a dozen disease experts, doctors and global health officials.
24th Oct 2022 - Reuters


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 24th Oct 2022

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China’s COVID lockdowns spell relief for Europe’s energy security worries

China’s President Xi Jinping has some good news for Europe — his country's draconian zero-COVID policies aren't likely to be dropped. That's a relief for European buyers of liquefied natural gas, as China's economic slowdown has freed up LNG cargos crucial to replacing the Russian gas that used to supply about 40 percent of European demand. “Regardless of what you think about the Chinese zero-COVID policy, simply looking at it only from the perspective of European gas supplies, it would be very helpful if China continued this policy,” said Dennis Hesseling, head of gas at the EU’s energy regulator agency ACER.
23rd Oct 2022 - POLITICO Europe

‘Fractured’ pandemic response failed the most vulnerable, independent report finds

An independent review of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has found ill-conceived policies, politically driven health orders and excessive use of lockdowns failed to protect the old, disregarded the young and abandoned some of the nation’s most disadvantaged communities. The review, led by former top public servant Peter Shergold, urges federal and state governments to learn from mistakes and overhaul planning, to broaden the advice provided to national cabinet and restore trust in how decisions are made.
22nd Oct 2022 - Sydney Morning Herald

Swiss to destroy 9 million expired Moderna COVID-19 jabs

Switzerland will destroy 9 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that have reached their expiry date, with another 5.1 million vaccine jabs set to meet the same fate by February, the government said on Wednesday. The wastage reflects the Swiss strategy of ordering more vaccines than it needed to ensure its population of around 8.7 million would get sufficient supplies even in the event of supply bottlenecks or quality issues.
19th Oct 2022 - Reuters


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 17th Oct 2022

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Long COVID at 12 months persists at 18 months, study shows

Most patients with COVID-19 who have lingering symptoms at 12 months are likely to still have symptoms at 18 months, new data suggest. The findings are drawn from a large study of 33,281 people in Scotland who tested positive for the coronavirus. Most of the results are in line with those from earlier, smaller studies. Among a subset of 197 survivors of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections who completed surveys at 12 months and 18 months, most reported lingering symptoms at both time points, researchers reported in Nature Communications.
14th Oct 2022 - Reuters

World Faces New Threats From Fast-Mutating Omicron Variants

The subvariants known as BQ.1.1, BQ.1, BQ.1.3, BA.2.3.20 and XBB are among the fastest-spreading of the main omicron lineages. Based on UK data, the BQ variants, as well as BA.2.75.2 and BF.7 are the most concerning due to their growth advantage and immune evasiveness, the country’s health security agency said on Oct. 7. BF.7 has also been gaining ground in the US, where it accounted for 4.6% of Covid cases in the week ending Oct. 8, from 3.3% the week before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Atlanta-based agency noted BA4.6 was the most prevalent after BA.5, accounting for 13.6% of cases in the first week of October, from 12.7% the week before. In Bangladesh and Singapore, the XBB strain has been linked to a small surge in cases.
14th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 10th Oct 2022

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Europeans face big mental health issues despite COVID easing - survey

The number of Europeans reporting "bad" or "very bad" mental health soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, even beyond the end of lockdowns, new polling showed on Thursday. European Union agency Eurofound's surveys of 200,000 people found that those reporting "bad" or "very bad" mental health doubled from 6.4% in March 2020 at the onset of the crisis to 12.7% two years later even as restrictions were eased.
7th Oct 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Climb Again in England

Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are rising again in England, with officials warning of climbing case numbers in hospitals and care homes. The number of suspected outbreaks increased 61% last week, while the hospital admission rate climbed 45% to 10.83 per 100,000 population, the UK Health Security Agency said on Thursday. Hospital admission rates were highest in southwest England after soaring 250% since mid-September.
9th Oct 2022 - Bloomberg

No Covid restrictions mean flu is set for a big comeback

It’s strongly advised that people in the UK get the flu vaccine and ensure they are up to date with their COVID vaccine boosters. Scientists aren’t sure how these viruses will dovetail, but evidence suggests that being infected with both viruses simultaneously greatly increases the risk of severe disease and death. About 33 million people in the UK are eligible for a free flu vaccine, including those aged 50 or older, pregnant women, people in residential care, and frontline healthcare workers. There is also a nasal-spray vaccine for children aged two years and older, with many vaccine rollouts delivered in schools.
9th Oct 2022 - Belfast Live

COVID wave looms in Europe as booster campaign makes slow start

A new COVID-19 wave appears to be brewing in Europe as cooler weather arrives, with public health experts warning that vaccine fatigue and confusion over types of available vaccines will likely limit booster uptake.
8th Oct 2022 - Reuters

Seniors died from COVID-19 at a higher rate than any other age group this summer: analysis

More seniors than any other age group died from COVID-19 this past summer amid a disease surge fueled by new subvariants, according to a new analysis published Thursday from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The foundation analyzed COVID-19 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that death rates rose much faster for Americans older than 65, despite widespread vaccine coverage within the group. Between April and July 2022, the number of coronavirus-related deaths among seniors grew at a faster rate for older adults, topping 11,000 in July and August. While deaths totals rose for those under 65 as well, the total was about five to six times smaller for younger Americans.
6th Oct 2022 - The Hill

South West sees Covid-19 surge as hospital admissions rocket to highest in country

There has been a surge in Covid-19 hospital admissions across the South West, latest figures show. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the region has seen a 250 per cent increase in admissions since the middle of September. Recent Government data shows that the South West has a current hospital admission rate for coronavirus of 16.67 per 100,000 people - the highest out of any region in the nation. This regional figure was 4.79 per 100,000 in September. The national average for hospital admissions is 10.83 per 100,000, according to data from the last seven days. This marks a 45 per cent increase from the previous week.
6th Oct 2022 - Bristol Post


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 3rd Oct 2022

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If you think scrapping COVID isolation periods will get us back to work and past the pandemic, think again

COVID is an exceptional disease and was at its deadliest this year, causing more deaths in Australia between June and August 2022 than at any other time. There have been 288 deaths from influenza so far this year compared to more than 12,000 deaths from COVID. The number of deaths from COVID in Australia in the first nine months of 2022 is more than ten times the annual national road toll of just over 1,000 – but we are not rushing to remove seat belts or drink-driving laws so people can have more freedom. Isolation flattens the COVID curve by stopping infectious people from infecting others, and is a key pillar of COVID control.
30th Sep 2022 - The Conversation

Covid testing rules in Northern Ireland to change for healthcare workers and hospital visitors

Covid-19 testing to identify asymptomatic healthcare workers and hospital visitors is set to be paused in Northern Ireland. Relatives of care home residents and hospice patients will no longer be automatically required to take a test as of Monday. However, those who are displaying symptoms will still have to take a test and are not permitted to visit a care setting. The Department of Health said the move is in line with the Test, Trace and Protect Transition plan. The strategy, published in March 2022, committing to keeping arrangements under review and focused on introducing proportionate and targeted rules.
30th Sep 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Millions urged to get flu and Covid jabs amid fears of winter ‘twindemic’ in UK

Tens of millions of people in the UK are being urged to have flu and Covid vaccines as soon as possible amid fears of a winter “twindemic” that poses a serious risk to public health. UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) officials are braced for a resurgence in flu infections capable of causing severe disease in the coming months, and are concerned it will coincide with the major wave of coronavirus that is already building. While Covid restrictions kept influenza at extremely low levels in the past three years, the return to almost pre-pandemic levels of mixing in the UK means the virus is ripe to bounce back this season, when immunity in the population is low.
30th Sep 2022 - The Guardian

Physician Burnout Has Reached Distressing Levels, New Research Finds

Physician Burnout in the United States Has Reached Distressing Levels, New Research Finds
30th Sep 2022 - The New York Times

Covid fourth wave fears as hospital admissions surge 48% in a week

The UK is feared to be in the midst of another Covid wave as hospital admissions have jumped almost double in a week. Latest figures show the number of patients testing positive for coronavirus is up 48%, compared to seven days ago. Fears have already been raised among the medical community the approaching colder weather could boost numbers. Now, a total of 7,024 people with coronavirus were in hospital as of 8am on September 28, according to NHS England. The number is half the 14,000 in mid-July at the peak of the wave of infections caused by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the virus.
29th Sep 2022 - The Mirror


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Sep 2022

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Covid: First rise in infections in UK since July

Covid infection rates have increased in the UK for the first time since the middle of July, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). One in 70 tested positive, with the largest rise in secondary school children in the week to 14 September. Infections increased in England and Wales while rates fell in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The ONS says it will closely monitor the data to see the impact of schools returning over the coming weeks. Infections rose by 5% in the most recent period covered by the survey, although the total number testing positive is still close to its lowest point of the year. Booster jabs are now being offered to the most vulnerable, to help protection over the winter.
23rd Sep 2022 - BBC News

U.S. CDC expects Omicron COVID boosters for kids by mid-October

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects COVID-19 vaccine boosters targeting circulating variants of the virus to be available for children aged 5-11 years by mid-October. The CDC said in a document released on Tuesday that it expects to make a recommendation in early- to mid-October on the use of the new bivalent vaccines in the group, if they are authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
22nd Sep 2022 - Reuters


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 18th Sep 2022

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New bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine doses expected to be available in Singapore by end-Sep: Moderna

Moderna’s new bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine is expected to be available in Singapore by end of this month. “We hope to have hundreds of thousands of doses available in Singapore before the end of the month,” the pharmaceutical firm’s senior vice president of commercial vaccines Patrick Bergstedt told CNA on Wednesday (Sep 14). His comments came after the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced that it granted interim authorisation for Moderna’s Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron jab, the first bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine in the country. Official vaccination recommendations using this booster will be issued by the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination and the Ministry of Health (MOH) in due time, HSA said.
15th Sep 2022 - CNA

Singapore to begin giving Covid-19 vaccines to children under 5

Roll-out expected to be timed for end-October or early November given. Singapore’s ‘relatively low’ caseload, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung says City state also plans to introduce bivalent jabs targeting both the wildtype virus and its circulating variants, Ong adds
18th Sep 2022 - South China Morning Post

Another new COVID variant is spreading – here's what we know about omicron BA.4.6

BA.4.6, a subvariant of the omicron COVID variant which has been quickly gaining traction in the US, is now confirmed to be spreading in the UK. The latest briefing document on COVID variants from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) noted that during the week beginning August 14, BA.4.6 accounted for 3.3% of samples in the UK. It has since grown to make up around 9% of sequenced cases. Similarly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BA.4.6 now accounts for more than 9% of recent cases across the US. The variant has also been identified in several other countries around the world.
14th Sep 2022 - The Conversation Indonesia

Nigeria Strikes Deal with Serum Institute of India

Nigeria will start building a vaccine plant by end of the year after signing a contract manufacturing agreement with the Serum Institute of India for local production of the jabs, the country’s health minister said. The country struck the deal with the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer on Wednesday, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said at a briefing in the capital, Abuja. The plant should be producing routine vaccines -- initially against polio, measles and yellow fever, among others -- by 2028, he added.
14th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

'Understaffed and overworked': Thousands of Minnesota nurses go on strike

Some 15,000 nurses in Minnesota walked off the job on Monday to protest hospital understaffing that their union says has harmed patient care and exhausted health workers as they negotiate a new contract with hospital executives. The strike, slated to last three days and described by the Minnesota Nurses Association as one of the largest in United States history, highlights nationwide health worker shortages that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
12th Sep 2022 - Reuters


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 12th Sep 2022

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COVID rules cast clouds over Hong Kong schools

In Hong Kong, stringent COVID-19 curbs have long made life for school students extremely hard. Now, a new rule requiring higher vaccination levels could upend what progress has been made towards resuming full-day in-person classes. Further delays to normal school life are likely to exacerbate youth mental health problems as well as give more people reason to leave the city, further undermining its status as an Asian financial hub, educators and business leaders warn.
11th Sep 2022 - Reuters

China Restricts Domestic Travel as Covid Outbreaks Grow

Article reports that China is stepping up its Covid defenses as a key Communist Party meeting looms, restricting internal travel further as swathes of the country remain under tight lockdowns. The National Health Commission on Thursday announced a raft of measures that will be in place until the end of next month to fight a virus that shows little sign of slowing. Authorities told citizens to minimize travel during the mid-Autumn festival next week and National Day holidays in October, ordinarily key periods for domestic tourism, and asked local governments to test all residents regularly for Covid regardless of infection levels.
10th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 5th Sep 2022

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Walgreens Now Offering Appointments for Updated COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna Boosters

Walgreens now offers updated COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna boosters to eligible individuals aged 12 years and older following authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scheduling an appointment is preferred and is available via the Walgreens app, 1-800-WALGREENS, or online at Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine starting today for vaccinations. Additional appointments will be added daily as select Walgreens stores begin to receive the updated COVID-19 boosters.
2nd Sep 2022 - The Associated Press


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 2nd Sep 2022

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Serious Covid case numbers declining

Small waves of new Covid-19 cases are being seen locally and globally but the number of severely ill patients and fatalities is not rising, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The number of severely ill patients and fatalities is stable worldwide and has been declining steadily in Thailand, CCSA spokeswoman Sumanee Watcharasin said on Thursday.
2nd Sep 2022 - Bangkok Post

Covid-19 booster vaccination roll-out starts in Wales

The autumn Covid-19 booster roll-out has started in Wales as care home residents and staff become the first in line to get their next jab. The vaccine has been made available to all those eligible from September 1 as the Welsh Government looks to keep Covid rates down for the coming winter. Care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and all those aged over 50, will be called for a vaccination by their health boards. Invitations will be issued in order of vulnerability, with everyone eligible being offered a booster vaccine by the end of the year. The vaccines will be administered in a variety of settings including GP surgeries and vaccination centres
1st Sep 2022 - Wales Online

Macau plans to gradually reopen the city to foreign travelers

Macau is planning to gradually reopen the city to foreign travellers from certain countries who meet its COVID-19 criteria, its government said on Thursday.
1st Sep 2022 - Reuters

Germany to start Omicron-adapted COVID vaccinations next week - minister

Germany can next week start using COVID-19 vaccines which have been adapted for the Omicron variant and got approval for use in the European Union on Thursday, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said. He said approval of the BA.1 vaccine was a quantum leap in the fight against the pandemic as vaccines were now available that work well against all previously known virus variants. "From next week, vaccinations can begin with the new doses. Now is the optimal time to close the gaps in vaccination for the autumn," he said in a statement.
1st Sep 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 booster vaccines offered to healthcare staff and those with health conditions

Healthcare workers and people aged 12 to 49 with long term health conditions have been invited to make an appointment for their second Covid-19 booster jab by the Health Service Executive (HSE). HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said appointments are available from Thursday. “We know that those who have long-term health conditions are at greater risk from serious illness from Covid-19,” he said. “Getting a second booster vaccine now will help protect these people, particularly as we come in to the autumn. We are now also calling healthcare workers for their next Covid-19 booster.
1st Sep 2022 - The Irish Times


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 1st Sep 2022

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S.Korea to end pre-departure COVID test requirement for overseas travellers

South Korea will from Saturday no longer require travellers to the country to test for COVID-19 before departure, although they will still need to take a PCR test within 24 hours of arrival. The latest relaxing of rules comes amid an easing in case numbers with daily COVID infections hovering around 100,000 in recent weeks compared with more than 180,000 in mid-August. "The weekly number of infections have declined for the first time in nine weeks and the virus is showing signs of slowing down," Lee Ki-il, the country's second vice health minister, told reporters.
30th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Covid Vaccines Are Free in the US Now, by Jan 2023 You May Have to Pay

The US government anticipates that it will stop purchasing and providing Covid-19 shots as soon as January due to a lack of funds, leaving Americans to obtain vaccines through insurers or pay for them out-of-pocket. US health officials convened a meeting of more than 100 representatives from drugmakers, state and local health departments, health providers and insurers on Tuesday to discuss the government’s plans to transition sales of Covid vaccines and therapeutics to the commercial market, according to Dawn O’Connell, who heads the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response.
31st Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Autumn Covid-19 booster jabs available in Jersey from September

Islanders in Jersey who are eligible for a Covid-19 booster jab will be able to book another vaccination from tomorrow (Thursday 1 September). The extra dose of the vaccine is intended to protect the most vulnerable islanders during the autumn and winter months. The government's Autumn Booster programme is open to: Care home residents and staff; Health and social workers; All adults over the age of 50; Anyone aged under 50 who is clinically 'at risk', lives in the same home as someone who's immunosuppressed, or is a carer
31st Aug 2022 - ITV News


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 31st Aug 2022

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As Americans ditch Covid measures, pandemic worsens for the vulnerable

In the last few months, Dr Jeannina Smith has seen organ transplant recipients who have been very careful throughout the pandemic venture out for one activity, contract Covid-19 and lose their transplant. ‘Most have thrown their hands up’: has the US forgotten about Covid? “I have been at the bedside of a transplant recipient” who “was very ill and in the hospital, and she got Covid the second time in a healthcare setting”, said Smith, medical director of the infectious disease program at University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics. “She was sobbing because she said, ‘It’s so hard for me to see that people care so little about my life that wearing a mask is too much for them.’”
30th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Japan weighs September rollout for omicron-targeting COVID-19 shots

The Japanese government is considering a September start for new COVID-19 vaccines targeting the omicron variant, earlier than the initially planned mid-October rollout, sources said Tuesday. With the country now facing its seventh wave of COVID-19 infections, the government is hoping to introduce more effective vaccines. The improved vaccines developed by U.S. drugmakers Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. are currently being evaluated by Japanese authorities.
30th Aug 2022 - The Japan Times


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 30th Aug 2022

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Top Thai Hospital Bets on Tourists to Counter Covid Revenue Dip

Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Pcl, Thailand’s biggest private hospital operator, expects a rebound in international patient arrivals to make up for an expected decline in revenue from Covid-19 treatment and services. Foreign patients seeking treatment at Bangkok Dusit’s 53 hospitals in the Thai capital and other tourist hotspots have reached about 90% of the pre-pandemic level, Chief Executive Officer Poramaporn Prasarttong-Osoth said. The recovery in fly-in patients are led by those from the Middle East, Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. But a slower-than-expected return of European tourists may still weigh on earnings in the second half, especially of hospitals in places such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya as they serve visitors from the region, she said.
28th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Cambodia to build factory to produce 104 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from 2024 to 2026

A pharmaceutical company in Cambodia signed a memorandum with Chinese company Sinovac Biotech to build a factory for filling and packaging vaccines in that country. The factory is expected to produce around 104 million COVID-19 doses from 2024 to 2026 and explore the possibility of making other vaccines. China has become a reliable, stable and indispensable provider of COVID-19 vaccine supplies to the developing world, experts and officials from several countries said.
27th Aug 2022 - Khmer Times


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th Aug 2022

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Autumn Covid booster jabs: Who is eligible in Wales and how to book?

The autumn coronavirus booster vaccination programme is starting in Wales, with the first jabs being administered on September 1. The roll-out is designed to give extra protection to those who are at increased risk of serious illness if they contract the disease. The Welsh Government says it will also help protect the NHS over winter 2022-23, by easing pressure on the service.
25th Aug 2022 - ITV News

Twitter labeled factual information about covid-19 as misinformation

Over the past week, Twitter has flagged dozens of tweets with factual information about covid-19 as misinformation and in some cases has suspended the accounts of doctors, scientists, and patient advocates in response to their posts warning people about the illness’s dangers. Many of the tweets have since had the misinformation labels removed, and the suspended accounts have been restored. But the episode has shaken many scientific and medical professionals, who say Twitter is a key way they try to publicize the continuing risk of covid to a population that has grown weary of more than two years of shifting claims about the illness. In interviews with The Post, Twitter acknowledged the problem. The company removed the labels and restored the accounts after queries about 10 specific tweets and accounts.
25th Aug 2022 - The Washington Post


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 25th Aug 2022

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Over 2 Million Americans Aren't Working Due to Long Covid, Says Brookings

Between two million and four million Americans aren’t working due to the long-term effects of Covid-19, according to a new Brookings Institution report released Wednesday. The inability to work translates to roughly $170 billion a year in lost wages, the report estimates. It follows a January Brookings Institution report that estimated long Covid was potentially causing 15% of the country’s labor shortage. The report estimates that roughly 16 million Americans of working age—between 18 and 65—have long Covid, which most groups and doctors define as wide-ranging symptoms that persist for months following an infection and can include shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and neurocognitive issues.
24th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China reopens doors for foreign students as pandemic concerns ease

China is easing its tight restrictions on visas after it largely suspended issuing them to foreign students and others more than two years ago at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The website of the Chinese Embassy in India said the updated procedures would take effect from Wednesday, without making a specific mention of vaccine requirements or proof of a negative test for the virus. China still requires those arriving from abroad be quarantined at a hotel or private home and proof of a negative test is required for entry to many public and commercial spaces.
24th Aug 2022 - The Independent

Leaving no one behind in the fight against COVID-19

Domestic travel in Europe this summer is projected to fully return to 2019 levels, and many countries have been easing COVID-19 restrictions since spring. While this state of “normality” is a huge relief for many, it is a cause for greater concern among the immunocompromised community. COVID-19 continues to circulate, with infections increasing in many European countries — including Germany, France, Italy, Greece and Austria.
24th Aug 2022 - POLITICO Europe

COVAX offers Mexico 10 mln COVID shots for kids after president protests delays

The United Nations-backed COVAX vaccine program has offered Mexico 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 shots for children after the country's president vowed to complain to the U.N. over delays, a senior Mexican official said on Tuesday. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador this week said Mexico was owed $75 million after it received less than half the 52 million vaccine doses it was allocated under the COVAX program, which aims to distribute shots equitably worldwide
24th Aug 2022 - Reuters


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47% Of U.S. Adults Took An At-Home COVID-19 Test In The Past 3 Months, Survey Reveals

Despite the recent ease of COVID-19 restrictions, nearly half of U.S. adults (47%) say they took an at-home COVID-19 test at some point in the past three months after feeling sick, according to new data from the Forbes Health-Ipsos Monthly Health Tracker survey. Additionally, of the 1,120 U.S. adults polled between August 16 and 17, 65% stayed home or away from people they don’t live with if they felt ill, 44% isolated from people inside their household and 27% took a PCR COVID-19 test from a doctor or testing site. (Respondents could choose multiple answers.) If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as a cough, fever or chills, or just want peace of mind when traveling and gathering with others, there are many testing avenues available.
23rd Aug 2022 - Forbes

China says COVID has exacerbated decline in births, marriages

China's National Health Commission said COVID-19 has contributed to the decline in the country's marriage and birth rates that has accelerated in recent years due to the high costs of education and child-rearing. Many women are continuing to delay their plans to marry or have children, it said, adding that rapid economic and social developments have led to "profound changes". Young people relocating to urban areas, more time spent on education and high-pressure working environments have also played their part, it added.
23rd Aug 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19 remains an issue as South Florida students start new school year

Students across South Florida are settling into their second week of school and while this is the most normal start to the school year since the start of the 2019 school year, COVID-19 does remain an issue for students to deal with.
22nd Aug 2022 - CBS News


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Thailand to Allow Foreign Tourists to Extend Stay as Covid Eases

Thailand will permit an extended length of stay for foreign tourists between October and March in a bid to support its economic recovery as pressures from Covid-19 ease. Foreigners from 18 territories coming to Thailand under the visa on arrival category will be allowed to double their length of stay for up to 30 days, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for Thailand’s main Covid task force said on Friday. Those from more than 50 places that currently get 30 days will be able to stay for up to 45 days.
20th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 booster jabs to be rolled out in England from early September

Nurses will be offered a flu vaccination alongside a Covid-19 booster jab this autumn where possible, NHS England has said as it outlined details of the latest stage of the coronavirus vaccination programme. The autumn Covid-19 vaccination booster programme is to start in the week beginning 5 September, with care home residents and housebound people being given the jab by NHS staff. The National Booking Service will also open that week, allowing people aged over 75 and the most clinically vulnerable, to book a vaccination from 12 September. Individuals will be offered the new bivalent Moderna vaccine, which targets the original Covid-19 virus strain and the omicron variant, “where appropriate and subject to sufficient supply”
19th Aug 2022 - Nursing Times


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Quebec COVID-19 booster rates stay low as province launches new vaccination campaign

As Quebec prepares to launch a provincewide COVID-19 vaccination campaign ahead of a potential new fall wave, it's unclear whether it will be enough to prompt a pandemic-weary public to roll up their sleeves for another booster. As of Wednesday, only 56 per cent of Quebecers aged five and older had received a third vaccine dose -- a number that has hardly budged in months. Government officials have said that the low booster uptake is due to the fact that more than a million Quebecers have caught the novel coronavirus and consider themselves adequately protected. Health experts, meanwhile, say pandemic fatigue and government communication have also played a role.
18th Aug 2022 - CTV News Montreal

Time to Stop Using Ineffective Covid-19 Drugs

In this issue of the Journal, Bramante et al.6 report the results of the COVID-OUT randomized, controlled trial of oral metformin, ivermectin, and fluvoxamine for the early treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection in 1323 outpatients. The investigators found no reductions in hypoxemia, emergency department visits, hospitalization, or death associated with any of the three drugs. A strength of the trial is the selection of adults between the ages of 30 and 85 years who were at high risk for severe Covid-19 because of overweight or obesity. However, as a result, the trial may not be readily generalizable to patients at lower risk for severe disease. One secondary analysis, which should be interpreted with caution, suggested that metformin may reduce a composite of emergency department visit, hospitalization, or death in this population with overweight or obesity, a finding that indicates no more than the need for further investigation at this time.
18th Aug 2022 - nejm.org


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Covid vaccine volunteer army set for autumn rollout return as thousands of extra helpers sought

Thousands of extra volunteer vaccination staff will be recruited across the country to assist with the autumn booster rollout. St John Ambulance said it was looking for around 5,000 volunteers to help meet demand and is already training hundreds of people ahead of the booster campaign starting next month. It played a leading role in the delivery of the initial Covid vaccination campaign and is now stepping up its resources as it anticipates a surge in demand over autumn and winter.
17th Aug 2022 - iNews

Quebec will offer 5th dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults as of Aug. 29

With the upcoming school year and the return to work looming for many Quebecers, the province is launching a new COVID-19 vaccination campaign. In his first appearance at a COVID-19 news conference in six months, Premier François Legault said life is almost back to normal thanks to the vaccine. He's urging people who have not had a dose in the past five months or more to get another shot. "More people will be inside, there will be more contagion," Legault said. "So it's a really good time to be launching a massive vaccination campaign."
17th Aug 2022 - CBC.ca

BMA raises 'serious concerns' about GP workload and funding for autumn COVID boosters

The BMA has raised 'serious concerns' about the workload implications of this autumn's COVID-19 booster programme and argued that practices will be underpaid for the work they are doing.
17th Aug 2022 - GP Online


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China's service sector sustains recovery amid COVID-19 resurgence

China's service sector, a key driver of its economic growth, has sustained recovery momentum in July despite a resurgence of sporadic COVID-19 cases and a weak property market. The services production index grew 0.6 percent year on year last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed. In the first seven months, the index dropped by 0.3 percent year on year, narrowing 0.1 percentage points from that of the first six months.
16th Aug 2022 - Xinhua

Health DG: Paxlovid for high-risk Covid-19 patients, not for mild cases or prevention

The country’s policy on the usage of Covid-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid does not include low-risk, asymptomatic patients, says Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. The medication was also not for prevention of Covid-19, he said. The ministry’s policy on administration of Paxlovid for Covid-19 was in line with the intent to reduce hospitalisation and deaths, he said. "The Malaysian policy on the usage of Paxlovid has not included low risk patients who have no symptoms or usage for prevention of infection. "Paxlovid is an antiviral and thus has to be started early when the illness is still in the mild category. "The usage of Paxlovid is based on risk stratification from real Covid-19 patients’ data, who are determined as at high risk of deterioration.
16th Aug 2022 - The Star Online

Western Trust eases Covid-19 restrictions for Altnagelvin, South West Acute and Omagh Hospital

The Western Trust has eased Covid-19 visiting rules in hospitals in Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh by increasing the number of people allowed to visit their loved ones. The new guidance will now allow for two visitors to visit at the same time, for one hour per day, per patient from four nominated visitors. The Northern Ireland trust said that e xceptions would continue to apply in some areas, but it's hoped that a move to a further ‘gradual easing’ of restrictions would continue during the next review on September 5.
16th Aug 2022 - Belfast Live


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Students throughout Southland return to school without strict COVID-19 protocols in place

Article reports that LAUSD has faced a noted decrease in enrollment this year versus those in the past. Experts say this is because of the cost of living in L.A., prompting families to move elsewhere, as well as opting to make different schooling choices for a variety of reasons both related to and unrelated to coronavirus. In an effort to bring numbers back up, Carvalho and other district employees set out to door knock throughout Los Angeles County to find children who needed to return to education. "We have progressively identified the 'Lost Children of Los Angeles. That's my name for them.
15th Aug 2022 - CBS News

Student exchange programs resume with caution after COVID-19 disruption, but some delays persist

Exchange programs were thrown into turmoil due to COVID-19 and related travel bans. Some programs have recently resumed but hold-ups persist in some regions such as WA. Students in the first cohort of post-COVID exchanges were relieved they did not miss out
15th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Pandemic pushed millions more into poverty in the Philippines, government says

About 2.3 million people in the Philippines were pushed into poverty between 2018 and 2021, largely due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the statistics agency said on Monday. The number of people living in poverty in 2021 rose to a total of almost 20 million or 18.1% of the population from 16.7% in 2018, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, overshooting the government's target of 15.5%-17.5%. Recently inaugurated President Ferdinand Marcos Jr aims to slash the poverty rate to 9% by the end of his single six-year term in 2028 - a target that remains achievable despite soaring inflation, according to Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
15th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Pandemic-Era Free School Meals Expire, Leaving Some Districts Seeking Solutions

Millions of school children are heading back to class this month without free breakfast or lunch for the first time in two years, to the disappointment of many parents and school administrators who are facing rising costs of food and supplies due to inflation. Some federal pandemic-era provisions that allowed schools to serve universal free meals will expire when districts start school for the fall, leaving many districts unprepared to make up the difference and urging parents to apply for a free or reduced-price lunch. While the provisions were always meant to be temporary, the expiration comes as supply-chain disruptions and rising food prices are pushing school-meal prices higher.
14th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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'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


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Africa CDC hopeful Aspen will get COVID vaccine orders

Africa's top public health body said on Thursday it was hopeful South African pharmaceutical firm Aspen Pharmacare would get orders for its own brand COVID-19 vaccine. Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last month that it is in detailed discussions with buyers to generate demand for Aspen's COVID-19 vaccine Aspenovax. Just one fifth of adults in Africa are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but demand has fallen across the continent which already receives donated vaccines from Western countries and has supplies to hand from earlier purchases.
11th Aug 2022 - Reuters


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Pharmacies, GPs at odds over antivirals

A push to allow access to COVID-19 treatments without a prescription could jeopardise patient safety, the general practitioners body warns. There are two oral antivirals available in Australia, and while early treatment is critical to lessen the effects of the virus, access is restricted. All Australians over 70 and those over 50 at risk of severe disease from COVID-19 are eligible to access the treatments, with patients requiring a prescription from a GP or a nurse practitioner.
11th Aug 2022 - The West Australian

Californians are staying infected with the coronavirus for a long time. Here’s why

Health officials recommend that anyone infected with the coronavirus isolate for at least five days. But for many, that timeline is becoming overly optimistic. The isolation period, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened in December from 10 days to five, is more a starting point than a hard-and-fast rule in California. According to the state Department of Public Health, exiting isolation after five days requires a negative result from a rapid test on or after the fifth day following the onset of symptoms or first positive test — a step not included in federal guidelines. But many people don’t start testing negative that early. “If your test turns out to be positive after five days, don’t be upset because the majority of people still test positive until at least Day 7, to Day 10 even,” Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, said during a briefing Thursday. “So that’s the majority. That’s the norm.” The isolation period, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened in December from 10 days to five, is more a starting point than a hard-and-fast rule in California. According to the state Department of Public Health, exiting isolation after five days requires a negative result from a rapid test on or after the fifth day following the onset of symptoms or first positive test — a step not included in federal guidelines.
10th Aug 2022 - LA Times

Pharmacies to get £15 per consultation in pilot to tackle COVID-19 jab fears

Reported COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is “high for some groups in Tower Hamlets” and “significant numbers of residents remain unvaccinated”, the borough’s council revealed in the service specification. As of May 1, just 68% of those eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Tower Hamlets had received a first dose, with 61.7% of that group opting to have a second dose. Just 40.1% of those eligible have had a booster dose. “Evidence clearly indicates that patients value talking directly to a trusted health professional when considering whether or not to have a COVID-19 vaccine,” Tower Hamlets Council acknowledged. “Community pharmacists in Tower Hamlets are well placed to provide that support”.
10th Aug 2022 - Chemist+Druggist

Vaccine and drug development boosted by new CSIRO lab

Australia’s national science agency will open the doors of a new $23.1 million national vaccine and drug laboratory in Melbourne on Thursday, after six years of planning and delays. The CSIRO National Vaccine and Therapeutics Lab, based in the south-eastern Melbourne suburb of Clayton, is designed to help turn vaccine and drug candidates into products that can be manufactured onshore in large quantities for clinical trials and will be available for use by companies and researchers around the country.
11th Aug 2022 - Australian Financial Review

Covid-19 Northern Ireland: Expert 'optimistic' autumn wave can be avoided

A leading immunology expert believes high Omicron infection rates should protect the general population against an autumn wave of Covid — unless a new variant emerges. Professor of Experimental Immunology, Kingston Mills, has also said it would be a mistake to offer vaccine booster doses before an updated, and more effective vaccine, becomes available in Europe over the coming months. During the most recent study week between July 14–July 20, the Department of Health estimated that 113,400 people in Northern Ireland had Covid-19 — around 1 in 16 people. In the week ending July 29, the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reported 22 Covid-related deaths, taking the total to 4,774 since the pandemic began.
10th Aug 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

S.Africa's Aspen to halt COVID vaccine output as J&J orders dry up

South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare will stop making COVID-19 vaccines from the end of this month due to a lack of orders, a senior executive said, further undermining Africa's already meager capacity to produce doses. Aspen currently produces vaccines for Johnson & Johnson. In March, it struck a deal to produce, price, and sell its own-brand version of the shot for African markets.
10th Aug 2022 - Reuters


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Pfizer readies ‘robust’ manufacturing capabilities to deliver 2 COVID-19 variant vaccines

Pfizer is planning to deliver COVID-19 vaccines against two sets of omicron subvariants in the autumn in the belief its “robust manufacturing capabilities” are up to the task.
9th Aug 2022 - BioPharma-Reporter

Health experts urge making fourth COVID vaccine more available

As Mexico’s fifth wave of coronavirus infections continues, two health experts have criticized the federal government for its slow and limited rollout of fourth shots of COVID-19 vaccines. The government has offered second booster shots to seniors, people with existing medical conditions that make them vulnerable to serious illness and health workers, but not all younger adults have had access to a fourth dose. According to The New York Times vaccinations tracker, 72% of Mexicans (adults and children) are vaccinated and 63% are fully vaccinated, but only 44% have had additional shots. Most of the booster shots administered to date have been third doses. Francisco Moreno, an infectious disease specialist and head of COVID-19 care at the ABC Hospital in Mexico City, said that Mexico is behind where it should be in terms of fourth-dose coverage.
8th Aug 2022 - Mexico News Daily


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Chile's Easter Island reopens to tourists after pandemic shutdown

Chile's Easter Island received its first group of tourists on Thursday after closing its borders for more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Easter Island, over 2,000 miles (3,219 km) from the coast of Chile, has over a thousand stone statues -- giant heads that were carved centuries ago by the island's inhabitants -- which have brought it fame and UNESCO World Heritage Site status. "(Easter Island) is the biggest open air museum in the world," said Pedro Edmunds, the mayor of Easter Island, adding that it was time to open the island after it shut its borders 868 days ago.
8th Aug 2022 - Reuters


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Desperately seeking nurses: What can be done to retain them?

The pandemic has taken a toll on nurses. Across nations, nurses are quitting in large numbers. In Singapore, they are resigning in record numbers, causing a severe shortage at the hospitals. The Straits Times looks at why they quit and where some of them have gone to.
6th Aug 2022 - The Straits Times

All Manitoba kids 6 months and older can get COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday

Articlee reports that all kids in Manitoba six months and older will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday morning, the province says in a news release. Previously, only Indigenous kids and those with certain health conditions were eligible to get their shots. Parents and caregivers can start booking appointments for newly eligible kids at 9 a.m. Children need to be at least six months old at the time of their appointment, the release said. Health Canada approved the two-dose Moderna vaccine for kids ages six months to four years old in July. So far, Manitoba has gotten 14,900 doses, the release said. It's shipped more than 3,700 of them to regional vaccine sites and medical clinics and another 2,100 to First Nations medical leadership to distribute in their communities.
5th Aug 2022 - CBC.ca

Hospitalizations, deaths tied to COVID-19 up slightly, latest report says

The latest provincial report on COVID-19 in Manitoba suggests an uptick in some severe outcomes for the second week in a row, including more people landing in hospital due to the coronavirus. The report says 53 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized during the week ending July 30, compared to 45 one week earlier. Slightly fewer people ended up in intensive care units: there were seven ICU admissions, down from eight ICU admissions during the week ending July 23. There were six deaths associated with coronavirus, up from five the week before. So far, 2,067 people have died due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
5th Aug 2022 - CBC.ca


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Lilly Plans to Sell Covid-19 Antibody Directly to Health-Care Providers

Eli Lilly & Co. plans to sell its Covid-19 antibody directly to health providers, states and territories in a bid to keep the drug available even as US government funding and purchases dry up. The US is working with Lilly to allow it to sell the antibody, bebtelovimab, through commercial channels, representatives for the Indianapolis-based drugmaker and the Health and Human Services Department said Wednesday. The government’s supply of the therapy will run out as early as the week of Aug. 22, according to Lilly spokeswoman Dani Barnhizer. Concern about the pandemic has ebbed as vaccines have prevented high numbers of severe cases and deaths that accompanied the outbreak’s early stages. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been frustrated by unwillingness in Congress to provide more funds to continue buying Covid drugs and shots.
4th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19: Unprecedented levels of chronic absence in schools

The impact of the Covid pandemic has resulted in "unprecedented" numbers of children chronically absent from school, the Department of Education (DE) has said. It said the rate of absences was evident from figures it collected during the 2021-22 school year. Chronic absence is classed as missing more than 10% of the year. The children's commissioner in England is concerned some pupils never fully returned to school after lockdowns. An investigation by Dame Rachel de Souza suggested persistent absence from school was at a rate in England almost twice as high as before the pandemic. Previous reports from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) also said that the pandemic and restrictions had "a severe impact" on children and young people. Most pupils in Northern Ireland were taught remotely out of school for months in 2020 and in early 2021.
4th Aug 2022 - BBC News

Economically inactive Britons with long Covid has ‘doubled’ in a year

One in 20 people in the UK who are neither employed nor seeking paid work are suffering from long Covid, with the figure more than doubling in the past year, official data has revealed. The proportion is far higher than for the one in 29 people who are unemployed but seeking work who have long Covid symptoms, or the one in 30 employed people who are sufferers, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
4th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

'Permanent shock' to nursing homes? Facilities fail to replace workers who quit after COVID outbreaks

Before pandemic, 82% of facilities did not meet recommended staffing levels. Pay levels are low and competition from hospitals is steep. Industry says inadequate government funding impacts recruitment and retention
4th Aug 2022 - USA Today

Photo exposes stark difference in China’s Covid-19 lockdown rules

One photo has summed up the mind-boggling difference in Covid rules between two neighboring Chinese districts. The image, shared on social media by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for global health Yanzhong Huang, shows locals on one side of a street lining up for Covid tests, while on the other, diners are enjoying their restaurant meals. Dr Huang said the photo represented a “tale of two districts in Chengdu, (a city in) Sichuan province”. “Residents of Chenghua district (left) line up to be tested on Covid, while residents of Jinniu district (right) wait to get a nice meal,” he wrote. He said the Chenghua district was currently under strict lockdown rules after a concentration of Covid cases in the area.
4th Aug 2022 - New York Post


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COVID deaths: US stuck in 'horrible plateau,' experts say. Here's why.

"COVID is over" might trend within social media circles, but weekly U.S. death tolls tell a different story. The pace of COVID-19 deaths has remained relatively steady since May, despite an uptick in July to about 400 a day, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. “We’re sitting on this horrible plateau,” said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist with Pro Health Care in New York and a clinical instructor of medicine at Columbia University. “It’s been this way for the past couple of months, and we’re getting used to it.”
3rd Aug 2022 - USA TODAY


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Midwives ask officials to justify ongoing Covid vaccine mandate

Health officials are being asked to reconsider the evidence used to ban midwives from working if they are unvaccinated against Covid-19. In a letter to Minister of Health Andrew Little and then-minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins, dated May 11 2022 and obtained under the Official Information Act, College of Midwives chief executive Alison Eddy urged the government "to ensure a robust evidence review is undertaken as soon as possible". She wanted the review to inform decisions about the future of the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers, "given the critical nature of the midwifery workforce shortages". "This review needs to quantify the threat posed by unvaccinated health care workers who have access to daily pre-work RATs (rapid antigen tests) and PPE (personal protective equipment), against the risks posed by a lack of qualified health practitioners available to provide essential maternity care."
2nd Aug 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Health officials predict COVID-19 cases will rise once school starts, as millions of kids remain unvaccinated

Health officials predict COVID-19 cases will rise once school starts, fueling community spread, as millions of kids remain unvaccinated and the BA.5 omicron subvariant remains the dominant strain.
2nd Aug 2022 - YAHOO!News

Covid-19: Two months of 'substantially lower infections' ahead

New Zealand is likely in for “a couple of months” of lower Covid-19 infections now the second Omicron peak has passed, experts say. However, there are plenty of other viruses circulating and people should keep up health measures, such as wearing masks and staying home when sick, they say. A panel of health experts answered reader questions on all things Covid-19 – including what we should expect in the next six months – in a live discussion on Stuff.
2nd Aug 2022 - Stuff.co.nz


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How Covid-19 has changed the world's view on education

Coronavirus was a transformative global event. The Covid-19 pandemic affected the whole world and with it came many significant changes. It disrupted and influenced the education sector drastically and affected all students and educators, not just in regard to academics but also in their broader health and wellbeing. Overall, education has become increasingly more flexible and accessible for those across the world. We know now that every curriculum can be taught online – whilst still allowing students to learn alongside their peers meaning that they don’t feel isolated. After the historic period of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most schools across the globe are back to operating again. But the education industry is still massively in recovery and assessing the damage and lessons learned during the global pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic affected more than 1.5 billion students worldwide, with the most vulnerable learners having the greatest impact.
1st Aug 2022 - Independent Education Today

Covid-19: Ontario hospitals close wards as nursing shortage bites

At least 14 hospitals in Canada’s most populous province are operating without key services this weekend as exhausted and depleted nursing staff struggle to cope with a surge in patients with covid-19. The closures include the intensive care unit at Bowmanville’s hospital and emergency departments at Wingham and Listowel. Hospitals in Alexandria, Brampton, Clinton, and Perth have also shut their emergency departments at times in recent weeks. “This decision was not made lightly,” a spokeswoman for the Bowmanville hospital told CTV News, explaining that intensive care patients would be transferred to Ajax Pickering and Oshawa hospitals. “We recognise the impact of this temporary relocation on patients and their families.” Toronto’s University Health Network revealed this week that the emergency department of Toronto Western Hospital was so understaffed last weekend that nursing students were called in.
1st Aug 2022 - The BMJ

Covid-19: Staff absences in July surged amid ongoing pressure on hospitals

NHS staff absences in England reached the highest peak in July since mid-April, amid continuing high numbers of SARS-CoV-2 infections and unrelenting demand for hospital beds. In a joint editorial published last week the editors of The BMJ and Health Service Journal, Kamran Abbasi and Alastair McLellan, sounded the alarm at the current situation and lamented the government’s inaction in tackling the “covid-driven collapse in services.” They argued, “The constant pressure created by repeated covid waves is already the main reason that the NHS is nowhere near reaching the activity levels needed to begin to recover performance. “The nation’s attempt to ‘live with covid’ is the straw that is breaking the NHS’s back. The government must stop gaslighting the public and be honest about the threat the pandemic still poses to them and the NHS.” Given the current trends, the editors also questioned the government’s assertion that the link between infections and hospital admissions had been broken.
1st Aug 2022 - The BMJ

Covid: Families facing ‘postcode lottery’ of care home ‘lockdown’ restrictions

Families are still facing a “postcode lottery” of Covid restrictions in care homes, with some being forced to wear masks and see their loved ones through perspex screens, despite the official rules having been relaxed. Visits should be unrestricted unless there is a Covid outbreak in a home, when residents are allowed “to have one visitor at a time”, according to guidance from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). However, some homes are still imposing extra restrictions, leaving families at the mercy of individual providers.
1st Aug 2022 - The Independent

COVID in WA: Pressure eased on hospitals as virus admissions fall but AMA warns ‘worst still to come’

WA has reported a dip in COVID hospitalisations and continued its downward trend in active cases providing hope the worst of the winter Omicron wave may have passed. Speaking form Karratha, Premier Mark McGowan announced the number of West Australians in hospital with COVID fell to 418 on Thursday, down from 442 the previous day. There was also a slight fall in ICU patients from 17 to 16. Mr McGowan said both figures were “good news” while 4961 new infections were reported – down from 5422 on Wednesday. Five more West Australians died with COVID in the latest reporting period although the Premier did not detail their ages.
1st Aug 2022 - PerthNow


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Government's slow COVID-19 response worsened health inequalities, warns BMA

The final instalment of a BMA review that will be submitted to the public inquiry on the pandemic also said that disabled people across the UK were more likely to die of COVID-19 than non-disabled people, and also to experience worse mental health. The BMA said the UK entered the pandemic ‘on the back foot’ because of underfunding of public health and an absence of cross-government accountability exacerbating health inequalities. BMA chair Professor Philip Banfield blamed the tardiness of the government’s response to COVID-19 for worsening health inequalities.
29th Jul 2022 - GP online

Covid-19 infections drop for first time in two months

Covid-19 infections in the UK have dropped for the first time in two months, though prevalence of the virus remains high, new figures show. It is the first time total infections have fallen since the week ending May 28 and is the biggest sign so far that the current wave may have peaked. This comes as the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 has also started to fall. Estimates suggest 3.2 million people in private households in the UK have had the virus in the week to 20 July, down 16% from 3.8 million in the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, infections are not on a clear downwards trend in all parts of the country.
29th Jul 2022 - Liverpool Echo

COVID infections fall in New Zealand, worst case scenario likely avoided

New Zealand's government said on Wednesday new COVID-19 cases were trending down and it looked likely the country would avoid a feared worst-case scenario of 20,000 infections daily. In the last seven days there were on average 8,111 new cases daily of COVID, down from a seven-day rolling average of 9,367 new cases in the week prior, according to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday. Currently 808 people were in hospital with COVID, which was also a lower number than earlier, data showed.
29th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Japan urges regions to mount COVID fight as variant spreads

Japan is encouraging regional authorities to take steps to contain a new coronavirus variant that has sent cases to record levels, but there is no plan for sweeping national measures. A seventh wave of COVID-19 pushed the daily tally of new cases in Japan to a record 233,094 on Thursday as the BA.5 variant spreads, putting pressure on medical services and disrupting some company operations. Japan has never imposed national lockdowns on the scale of some other countries and has instead periodically asked people to stay at home as much as possible and limited the opening hours of restaurants and bars.
29th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Japan's factory output zooms as China eases COVID curbs

Japan's factories ramped up output at the fastest pace in more than nine years in June as disruptions due to China's COVID-19 curbs eased, a welcome sign for policymakers hoping the economic outlook will improve. Separate data showed retail sales rose for the fourth straight month in June, supporting the view that rising consumption helped the economy return to growth in the second quarter after contracting in January-March
29th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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CityU researchers invents accurate rapid COVID-19 antibody level test

Vaccines have become the most important weapon in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but antibody levels after vaccination decay quickly over time. Therefore, an accurate and affordable antibody rapid test is urgently needed to adjust the revaccination strategy. A research team led by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) recently invented an accurate rapid-testing device that can quantify and display the antibody level as a length of a visual bar, like a mercury thermometer, in as few as 20 minutes, enabling convenient mass screening or individual monitoring of immune protection against COVID-19.
28th Jul 2022 - EurekAlert!


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Millions of US children remain unvaccinated as BA.5 spreads and new school year looms

Millions of school-age children in the United States are still unvaccinated against Covid-19 as many prepare for a return to school. A new CNN analysis finds that less than half of children and teens are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and only a tenth have been boosted. Many of the nation's largest school systems -- including Los Angeles Unified, City of Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Clark County in Nevada -- start school next month.
27th Jul 2022 - CNN

A global effort to stop COVID-19 in Africa is underway–and it starts with health care workers

The latest wave of infections across the world provides us with yet another reminder the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. For many in developing countries, this will come as no surprise. While three in four people living in high-income countries have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccination rate falls to just one in six in low-income countries. This is particularly true in Africa, where less than a fifth of the continent’s population has been fully vaccinated. Africa’s vaccine rollout is lagging compared to wealthier regions even though there is an overabundance of supply across the globe. We need to recognize COVID-19 vaccine supply is not the only barrier to tackling the pandemic. For many African countries, the bigger issue is having enough trained health workers able to deliver life-saving vaccines into the arms of patients.
27th Jul 2022 - Fortune


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Feds look ahead to next-generation COVID vaccines

The White House tomorrow will host a summit on the future of COVID-19 vaccines, which will be streamed online. One of the main topics is speeding development of a more broadly protective COVID-19 vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) vaccine advisory group recently recommended a bivalent booster shot that includes the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and an Omicron variant, and at the meeting, several members aired concerns that officials will more frequently face the challenge of tweaking the vaccine to keep up with the quickly evolving virus. At the global level, researchers are working on a roadmap for developing a new coronavirus vaccine to broadly protect against the most dangerous ones.
26th Jul 2022 - CIDRAP

Monkeypox Vaccine Maker Bavarian Nordic Considers 24-Hour Emergency Production

Bavarian Nordic A/S, the only company with a vaccine approved for monkeypox, said it’s preparing to run production through the night to meet surging demand after the virus outbreak was declared a global emergency. The flare-up of monkeypox, which has spread to about 16,000 people in more than 70 countries in just a few months, was declared a public-health emergency of international concern by the head of the World Health Organization over the weekend. This is the highest level of alert that aims to marshal more resources globally to curb the outbreak and is the first such ruling since coronavirus started sweeping around the world.
26th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

China’s Zero-Covid Policy Drags on Vaccination Drive

China’s sluggish progress in vaccinating the elderly and vulnerable against Covid-19 is impeding any departure from the cycles of mass testing and lockdowns that are hobbling the world’s second-largest economy. While the government stepped up efforts to raise inoculation rates in recent months, tens of millions of Chinese over 60 remain entirely unvaccinated against Covid-19, and many more have yet to take booster shots needed to protect against the Omicron subvariants now fueling outbreaks. Officials have tried to overcome skepticism and inertia against vaccination, particularly among the elderly, by revealing that top Chinese leaders have taken domestically developed shots and lashing out at what they called irresponsible rumors alleging serious side effects from vaccines.
26th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Record number of COVID-hit Australians in hospital as Omicron surges

The number of Australians admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 hit a record of about 5,450 on Monday, official data showed, as the spread of highly contagious new Omicron sub-variants strains the healthcare system nationwide. The figure has grown since late June, as the BA.4 and BA.5 strains became dominant since they can evade immune protection, whether from vaccination or prior infection, while some experts say the latter can be as infectious as measles.
26th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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Slow uptake of Pfizer's Covid drug hints at end to sales boom

Sales of Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid have leapfrogged a rival pill developed by Merck and now dominate the Covid-19 treatments market, but slower than expected patient uptake could dent sales over the next six months and beyond. Airfinity, a health data analytics group, said recent data showed the whirlwind pace of new supply deals Pfizer signed had begun to slow because of the lacklustre rollout of a treatment billed as a key tool to help quell the pandemic. By the end of 2022 there could be a surplus of up to 70mn courses of Paxlovid on the global market following an increase in Pfizer’s production and weak demand for a treatment that US president Joe Biden is taking to fight his Covid infection.
25th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

Defence force to expand aged care support as COVID-19 wave hits sector

The federal government is expanding Defence force support for Australia's coronavirus-stricken aged care sector. More than 200 extra military medical personnel will be deployed to aged care homes in coming weeks, Defence Minister Richard Marles has announced. The move came after aged care providers and trade unions requested Defence force support for the sector be extended beyond the August 12 end date.
25th Jul 2022 - 9News


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Recoveries greater than new cases as COVID total drops

After enjoying almost 2 months of being COVID free, Cambodia today again recorded new COVID cases. Today’s official daily new COVID case total (diagnosed by PCR test) was 20, bringing the COVID case total to 136,565 cases. Cambodia announced 0 new deaths, bringing the total to 3,056 direct deaths from COVID-19 in Cambodia.
23rd Jul 2022 - Khmer Times

South Australian COVID-19 acute commander appointed as new measures taken to free up hospital beds

A record number of people with COVID-19 are in South Australia's hospitals. New wards for patients with the virus are opening in Adelaide hospitals. Agency and student nurses will be recruited to replace some of the 1,200 infected SA Health staff.
22nd Jul 2022 - ABC News


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Active COVID-19 cases hit 5-month high in West Virginia

Active cases of COVID-19 hit their highest levels in West Virginia in five months Thursday. There were at least 3,221 ongoing cases in the state, the highest since 3,339 on Feb. 24, according to the Department of Health and Human Resources’ COVID-19 dashboard. Active cases statewide had plunged to 263 on April 4 after surpassing 21,000 in January. Confirmed daily cases in West Virginia surpassed 480 on Tuesday and Wednesday after falling below 400 on each of the previous four days.
21st Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Rise in Covid-19 hospital patients in England levels off

The latest rise in the number of hospital patients in England testing positive for Covid-19 looks to have come to a halt, with figures levelling off slightly below the previous peak. A total of 13,375 people with coronavirus were in hospital as of 8am on July 21, down 3% on the previous week. It is the second day in a row the total has shown a week-on-week fall. The rate of increase has been slowing steadily since the start of July, after rising as high as 39%. The figures suggest the impact of the current wave of Covid-19 may be starting to ease – and that patient levels will not reach the sort of levels seen during the surge in infections earlier this year.
21st Jul 2022 - The Independent on MSN.com

Australia battles fresh Omicron outbreak as COVID deaths rise

Australia reported one of its highest daily death tolls from the novel coronavirus on Thursday while hospital admissions hovered near record levels, as authorities struggle to get ahead of highly contagious Omicron variants. The BA.4/5 variants are good at evading immune protection from vaccination or prior infection and have been driving a surge of new infections globally. Australia is reporting the highest daily numbers since the first Omicron wave earlier this year, with 89 deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday and 90 on Wednesday. Just over 55,600 new cases were recorded on Thursday, the highest since May 18. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said state leaders and federal health officials have not recommended making masks mandatory in indoor venues, despite calls by some doctors to do so.
21st Jul 2022 - Yahoo News UK

Tokyo hits pandemic record on rise of new Covid-19 subvariants

The numbers show a resurgence has taken hold in the Japanese capital ahead of the summer holidays, when travel and activity levels typically soar. Rising cases are forcing leaders to reconsider what steps might be needed to contain the outbreak – may add pressure to slow the pace of reopening to tourists
21st Jul 2022 - South China Morning Post

Micronesia last of bigger nations to have COVID-19 outbreak

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.
21st Jul 2022 - Associated Press


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Macau Casinos to Reopen Saturday After Covid-19 Shutdown

Casinos in the gambling hub of Macau will be allowed to reopen Saturday after a nearly two-week shutdown amid a Covid-19 outbreak, according to the government. The citywide lockdown that began July 11 was the first shutdown of casinos in Macau since the early days of the pandemic in 2020. The government said most nonessential industries, companies and venues will be allowed to reopen starting Saturday through July 30. Las Vegas Sands Corp which operates several casinos in Macau, is scheduled to report quarterly earnings Wednesday, the first of the three U.S.-based operators in Macau to update investors since the closures this month. Industry executives have continued to express confidence in a Macau comeback, but analysts have lowered gambling revenue forecasts for the Chinese territory this year, and some predict a full recovery won’t come until 2024.
20th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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A riskier approach to new vaccines will pay off

The UK has been hit by three consecutive waves of Omicron variants, each one appearing in a matter of weeks. If a future variant proves much more dangerous, we will not have much time to brace for impact. So what can be done? The answer: develop better vaccines. The simplest approach is, as with flu, to try to predict where the virus will be four to six months ahead, and to make booster doses accordingly. That looks feasible. After scaling up to meet demand for vaccines in 2021, the world has “unprecedented production capacity”, says Rasmus Bech Hansen, founder of Airfinity, a health analytics company — enough to produce another 8bn doses this year. But better, if we can figure out how to do it, is to make a vaccine that targets all Sars-Cov-2 variants, or a wider family of coronaviruses including Sars or, even more ambitiously, all coronaviruses.
15th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

UK Covid-19 vaccine boosters to be expanded to all over-50s

Uk government said it is offering Covid-19 booster shots to the over 50s this fall in an effort to combat the number of deaths and hospitalisations,
15th Jul 2022 - The Financial Times

Covid-19: High prevalence and lack of hospital beds putting “intense pressure” on ambulances

All 11 ambulance services in England are working under extreme pressure because of rising rates of covid-19 and a lack of available hospital beds, and leaders are now asking the public to take extra precautions in the hot weather to avoid adding to the already overwhelming workload. In a statement issued on 12 July, Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives said that the NHS ambulance sector was “under intense pressure” and was now operating at the highest level of their local resource escalation action plans, which is normally reserved for “major incidents or short term periods of unusual demand.” In their Resource Escalation Action Plan there are four levels used to describe the pressure that ambulance services are under, with level 1 being “steady state” and level 4 “extreme pressure.” Positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 rose 32% at the end of June, with an estimated 2.3 million people infected.2
15th Jul 2022 - The BMJ


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U.S. FDA classifies recall of GE's ventilator batteries as most serious

U.S. health regulators on Tuesday classified the recall of some backup batteries of GE Healthcare's ventilators, which the company had initiated in mid-April, as the most serious type, saying that their use could lead to injuries or death. The CARESCAPE R860 ventilator's backup batteries, including replacement backup batteries, were recalled as they were running out earlier-than-expected, which could cause the device to shut down preventing the patient from receiving breathing support, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Hospital staff absences due to Covid-19 highest for nearly three months

Staff absences at NHS hospitals in England due to Covid-19 have jumped to their highest level for nearly three months, putting further pressure on health teams struggling to clear a record backlog of treatment, new figures show. It comes as the number of patients testing positive for the virus continues to rise across the country, driven by the latest wave of infections. An average of 22,918 hospital staff in England were absent each day in the week to July 6, either because they were sick with Covid-19 or were self-isolating. This is up 30% on the previous week, and is the highest since 23,813 absences in the week to April 20.
14th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Summer COVID spike is less severe - but relentless pressure on emergency departments is taking its toll

The North West has seen a rise of between 50% and 200% in COVID infections in recent weeks. And this comes at a time when the Royal Preston Hospital emergency department is struggling to cope with the sheer number of patients coming through its doors.
14th Jul 2022 - Sky News


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Three million people in England yet to get a Covid jab

Three million people remain unvaccinated against Covid as MPs call for renewed push on vaccine roll out. The Public Accounts Committee warned on Wednesday many of the unvaccinated individuals are “young city-dwellers” with just five cities accounting for a quarter of those not jabbed. MPs warned people remain at risk of death and hospitalisation, calling for the NHS and public health authorities to “redouble” efforts on vaccinations.
13th Jul 2022 - The Independent


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What is the long-term protection against COVID-19?

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is known to cause many clinical manifestations. The protection conferred by prior infection or vaccination against infection over the long term is poorly understood. A new paper in Immunological Reviews describes the immunologic parameters associated with protection from COVID-19.
12th Jul 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Moderna unveils positive data on new booster candidate

Just a few weeks after the FDA recommended that COVID-19 vaccine manufactures tweak their boosters to zero in on the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, Moderna has unveiled promising new data for its prospect. On Monday, the mRNA specialist said its omicron-containing bivalent booster elicited higher neutralizing antibody responses compared with the current booster. After one month, trial participants who received the bivalent booster had BA.4 and BA.5 neutralizing antibodies that were 1.69 times higher than those who received the original booster, the company said.
11th Jul 2022 - FiercePharma

Long Covid Patients Leave UK to Seek Unproven Cures, Report Says

Thousands of UK patients with long Covid are leaving the country to seek expensive unproven treatments such as “blood washing” abroad, according to a report. Many travel to private clinics in Cyprus, Germany and Switzerland for apheresis -- a blood-filtering procedure -- and anti-clotting therapy, according to the investigation published Tuesday in the BMJ medical journal. One patient reported paying more than 50,000 euros ($50,185) for apheresis, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and an intravenous vitamin drip at a center in Cyprus and returning home with no improvement. Researchers are still puzzled as to the exact cause of long Covid, which can appear with vastly different effects in various groups of patients.
13th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

As New Zealand reopens, exodus worsens labour crunch

New Zealand's easing of its strict border curbs has triggered a rush of new departures among locals seeking fresh opportunities abroad, adding further pressure to the country's already tight employment market. A net 10,674 people left the country over the 12 months to May, according to government data released on Tuesday, extending a drain that ran over the past year and is expected to last until new immigrants arrive in greater numbers in 2023.
12th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Covid cases set to hit new record as experts call for return of free testing and school air filtration systems

Covid cases are about to hit a new record after daily symptomatic infections reached 348,001 – just a few hundred below the previous high in March. Cases have more than tripled in the last six weeks, largely because of the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which are much better at overcoming immunity built up from vaccinations and prior infections. But public and government behaviours are also playing a key role, with many acting as if the pandemic is over when that is far from the case, scientists say. This has enabled cases to soar from 114,030 on 1 June to 348,001 on Saturday 9 July – barely a thousand daily infections below the record 349,011 set on 31 March, according to the ZOE Covid study app.
12th Jul 2022 - i on MSN.com


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Omicron Strains Drive New Covid Wave in Europe as Measures Fall Away

A Covid-19 infection wave driven by two hyper-infectious Omicron subvariants is moving rapidly across Europe, leading to an uptick in cases and hospitalizations in countries that have dropped the majority of preventive measures against the virus ahead of the summer months. European governments have discarded many Covid-19 mitigation strategies like mask mandates, mass testing and so-called Covid passports as their focus shifts to economic recovery and the war in Ukraine. A recent survey by McKinsey shows that fewer than 12% of the public in Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain count the pandemic as a primary concern. Scientists don’t expect that the wave of infections will lead to the high death tolls seen before vaccine rollouts. But they are concerned that public and national health systems are ill-prepared for fall and winter waves that some predict could see double the current infection figures.
11th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Future Covid Variants Can Be Predicted by AI, Startup Claims

As pharmaceutical companies struggle to keep up with the rapidly mutating coronavirus, a startup in Cambridge, Mass., says it can help them by using artificial intelligence to predict future variants. Apriori Bio models the ways a virus might change and predicts how it will behave. The company says it’s harnessing that information to design “variant-proof” vaccines and treatments that can fight current and future strains—and provide an early warning to governments, sort of like a hurricane alert, to guide the public-health response. After honing its technology, called Octavia, for more than two years, the fledgling company is formally launching with $50 million in funding from Flagship Pioneering Inc., the incubator behind Moderna Inc.
11th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Indonesia Requires Covid Test From Travelers Without Booster Vaccine

Indonesia will reimpose a Covid-19 testing requirement for travelers who haven’t received their booster vaccine in order to curb a resurgence in cases. Starting from July 17, domestic travelers who have received their booster shot are not required to take the test prior to departure, the Transport Ministry said in a statement. The rest must prove a negative rapid antigen test result at least 24 hours before departing or a negative PCR test within 3 days before leaving, according to the statement published on the ministry’s website. People are still required to wear a mask in crowded areas, especially in cities where infection rates are higher.
11th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Practice supervisors' and assessors' experiences in the Covid-19 pandemic

The pandemic placed additional pressures on nursing practice assessors and supervisors. This article explores their experiences of supporting students during this period
11th Jul 2022 - Nursing Times


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Australians aged 30 and older are eligible for fourth COVID-19 booster. What do we know about it and when can you get it?

As health authorities attempt to ward off a surge in Omicron cases, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has expanded the eligibility of a fourth COVID-19 vaccine to people over 30.
8th Jul 2022 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

COVID-19: New wave of Omicron mutations spreading across Europe, EU Medicines Agency warns

A new wave of Covid-19 is sweeping across Europe driven by Omicron mutations, an EU Medicines Agency official has warned. Head of vaccines at the agency, Marco Cavaleri, has said "the increase in transmission among older age groups is starting to translate into severe disease". The increase in the number of people testing positive is being driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 mutations of the Omicron variant.
8th Jul 2022 - Sky News

China COVID monitoring app cuts travel history scrutiny

China's national authorities are reducing scrutiny of citizens' travel history for COVID-19 monitoring, requiring that a mandatory mobile app shows the previous seven days of travel, down from 14, an adjustment likely to boost domestic tourism. The app, whose name translates to itinerary card, helped authorities to identify whether people visited areas with COVID infections, and to decide whether they should be tested for the virus or possibly placed in quarantine.
8th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Macau uses two more casino hotels for COVID medical facilities

Macau authorities have added two hotels in popular casino resorts to be used as COVID-19 medical facilities from Friday as they try to increase capacity to handle a surge of infections in the world's biggest gambling hub. The east wing of Grand Lisboa Palace owned by SJM Holdings and the Grand Hyatt hotel owned by Melco Resorts will together provide close to 800 rooms, they said. Sands China's Sheraton hotel and Londoner resort have already been used as quarantine facilities.
8th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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COVID and bust: China's private health system hurt by tough coronavirus controls

On March 24, a court in the central Chinese city of Fuyang announced that a $1.5 billion hospital built just four years earlier had filed for bankruptcy because it was unable to pay its debts. For most of the last two years, the Fuyang Minsheng Hospital had been fully involved in mass coronavirus vaccination and testing programmes in the city, training almost 100 staff to perform throat swabs and setting up mobile vaccination facilities to go to schools and workplaces, at the order of city officials. The diversion of resources into what China calls its 'zero-COVID' approach to contain and eliminate the virus forced the hospital to suspend many services it relied upon for revenue, sealing its financial failure.
7th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Australia's Covid hospital admissions at highest level since summer

Covid hospital admissions have reached their highest level since early February when Australia’s health system faced great pressure at the end of the first Omicron wave. The surge has prompted calls from leading epidemiologists and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) for stronger mask mandates, with concerns there are double the number of infections silently spreading through the community than official figures suggest. The national total of hospital admissions reached 3,781 on Wednesday, up from 3,740 on Tuesday and 3,511 on Monday – the highest numbers have been since 8 February. The nation is recording on average 33,000 cases each day.
7th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

NHS staff criticise ‘incomprehensible’ scrapping of special Covid leave

Covid-related absences had been fully paid for all NHS workers, regardless of their length of service. However from July 7 staff terms and conditions in coronavirus workforce guidance will be withdrawn, meaning the immediate end to sick pay for new episodes of Covid-19 sickness, according to the Royal College of Nursing, and access to special leave for the purposes of self-isolation will also be withdrawn.
7th Jul 2022 - Peeblesshire News


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Covid-19 Vaccine Doses, Once in High Demand, Now Thrown Away

Governments, drugmakers and vaccination sites are discarding tens of millions of unused Covid-19 vaccine doses amid sagging demand, a sharp reversal from the early days of the mass-vaccination campaign, when doses were scarce. Vaccine manufacturer Moderna Inc. recently discarded about 30 million doses of its Covid-19 shot after failing to find takers, while pharmacies and clinics have had to throw out unused doses from multi-dose vials from Moderna and from Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE that have a short shelf life once they are opened.
7th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

After the long wait, US parents seeking under-5s’ vaccine face yet more hurdles

Ashley Comegys, a parent of two young children in Florida, was ecstatic when the Covid vaccines were authorized for children above the age of six months in the US. “We’ve been waiting for this for so long,” she said. “We can finally start to spread our wings again.” But then she learned that Florida had missed two deadlines to preorder vaccines and would not make them available through state and local health departments, delaying the rollout by several weeks and significantly limiting access. “Rage does not adequately describe how I felt that they were basically inhibiting me from being able to make a choice to protect my children,” Comegys said.
6th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Canada Plans To Throw Out 13.6 Million Doses Of Coronavirus Vaccine

Canada is going to throw out about 13.6 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine because it couldn’t find any takers for it either at home or abroad. Canada signed a contract with AstraZeneca in 2020 to get 20 million doses of its vaccine, and 2.3 million Canadians received at least one dose of it, mostly between March and June 2021.
6th Jul 2022 - HuffPost

U.S. FDA allows pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer's COVID-19 pill

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday it had authorized state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 pill to eligible patients to help improve access to the treatment. The antiviral drug, Paxlovid, has been cleared for use and available for free in the United States since December, but fewer than half of the nearly 4 million courses distributed to pharmacies by the government so far have been administered.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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COVID and bust: China's private health system hurt by tough coronavirus controls

On March 24, a court in the central Chinese city of Fuyang announced that a $1.5 billion hospital built just four years earlier had filed for bankruptcy because it was unable to pay its debts. For most of the last two years, the Fuyang Minsheng Hospital had been fully involved in mass coronavirus vaccination and testing programmes in the city, training almost 100 staff to perform throat swabs and setting up mobile vaccination facilities to go to schools and workplaces, at the order of city officials.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19: GPs are asked to opt into next vaccination phase this autumn

General practices that wish to continue giving covid booster vaccinations from September have until 14 July to sign up, NHS England has said. In guidance setting out expectations for the autumn booster campaign it also states that general practices choosing to provide vaccinations must have sufficient workforce capacity to keep delivering other services. The updated enhanced service—now “phase 5” of the vaccination campaign—will start on 1 September and will initially run to 31 March 2023, but it could be extended by as much as six months depending on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. GPs will continue to be paid £10.06 for each vaccine administered and £10 for each housebound patient.
5th Jul 2022 - The BMJ


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China's New Covid Flareup Threatens Crucial Yangtze Delta Region

China is racing to quash a new virus flareup that risks spilling over into one of its most economically significant regions, raising the specter of disruptions that could roil global supply chains for solar panels, medicines and semiconductor chips. Infections have surged in Si county in the eastern province of Anhui, with officials reporting 287 cases for Sunday and nearly 1,000 since late last week. Authorities locked down Si and a neighboring county late last week to try and stop the virus from spreading to nearby Jiangsu, the second biggest contributor to China’s economic output and a globally important manufacturing hub for the solar sector.
4th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Practices have until 14 July to sign up for autumn COVID-19 booster campaign

The ES, which runs from 1 September 2022 until 31 March 2023, indicates that the booster programme will operate in a similar way to previous phases of the vaccination campaign. Practices will be expected to work in a 'PCN grouping' to deliver the vaccinations at scale. GP practices do not have to be a member of a network to sign up to the ES, but they will be expected to collaborate with other practices and networks, the ES says. In a key change from previous phases of the vaccination programme, the ES specifies that practices 'must ensure that they have in place suitable arrangements to prevent the disruption of other services or obligations' under their contract'.
4th Jul 2022 - GP Online


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Covid-19 infections in UK jump by more than half a million in a week

Covid-19 infections in the UK have jumped by more than half a million in a week, with the rise likely to be driven by the latest Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, figures show. Hospital numbers are also continuing to increase, with early signs of a rise in intensive care admissions among older age groups. A total of 2.3 million people in private households are estimated to have had the virus last week, up 32% from a week earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This 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.
1st Jul 2022 - Evening Standard

UK Sees ICU Admissions Rise Among Elderly as Covid Cases Climb

UK hospital admissions linked to Covid are climbing again as omicron subvariants cause new outbreaks across the country. England’s hospital admission rate for the week through June 26 stood at 11.11 per 100,000 people, jumping nearly 40% from 7.98 in the previous week, according to the UK Health Security Agency, with intensive-care cases spreading among older age groups. “We continue to see an increase in Covid-19 data, with a rise in case rates and hospitalizations in those aged 65 years and over, and outbreaks in care homes,” said Mary Ramsay, director of clinical programs at the agency.
30th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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Fair Pharma Scorecard shows industry has a long way to go for COVID-19 products

How has the pharma industry weighed human rights during its marketing of COVID-19 drugs and vaccines? That’s what the Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation (PAF) sought to answer, and the results might not be what the industry wants to hear. For its Fair Pharma Scorecard project, PAF ranked 26 companies involved in selling COVID-19 drugs, vaccine and diagnostics based on their compliance with 19 human rights principles. Not one company complied with all the criteria, and most "still need to take big steps" to make their products accessible and affordable, PAF said. In general, PAF noticed a weariness toward knowledge sharing, iffy transparency levels and differences between various products at the same companies. For example, Pfizer's compliance with the criteria scored at 65% for its oral antiviral Paxlovid and 50% for its vaccine.
30th Jun 2022 - FiercePharma

Parents of young kids feel 'left behind' as they await COVID-19 vaccine

Some Canadian parents say they've been left behind as they wait on Health Canada to authorize vaccines for children under five years old. "It's upsetting to see the whole world moving on and forgetting about all of the littles, basically," said Jaimie-Lyn Oldfield from Kingston, Ont. She said her family has made sacrifices to protect her nearly three-year-old daughter Rosslyn from contracting COVID-19. "We hardly see her grandparents," she said. "Everyone else got vaccinated and it's really disheartening and upsetting when they're like 'OK, we're going to remove all of these masking mandates.'"
30th Jun 2022 - CBC.ca

At the current rate, SA will hit its Covid-19 vaccination target in about September 2028

Covid-19 vaccination levels are dropping fast, putting South Africa's herd immunity target well out of reach. People are reading the end of pandemic restrictions as a signal that vaccination is no longer required, say government monitors. On Wednesday, less than 6,000 people received a first jab. At that rate, it will take until just about September 2028 to reach the 67% coverage target. That is not counting getting people to show up for booster shots – or the continuing slowdown in the vaccination rate.
30th Jun 2022 - Business Insider South Africa


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Eli Lilly to supply additional doses of COVID antibody drug to U.S.

Eli Lilly and Co said on Wednesday it will supply additional doses of its COVID-19 antibody drug to the U.S. government in order to meet demand through late August. As per the modified supply agreement with the government, Lilly will provide an additional 150,000 doses of bebtelovimab for about $275 million. The drug has also shown effectiveness against the Omicron variant. The FDA authorized the drug earlier this year for emergency use in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progression to severe disease, including hospitalization or death.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Ireland puts army on standby to help at Dublin airport amid COVID surge

Ireland agreed on Tuesday to put the army on standby to help with security at Dublin airport should staffing be hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 during the rest of the busy summer travel period. Ireland's main airport is one of many around Europe that has struggled to hire staff fast enough to deal with a sharp rebound in travel, although it has had relatively few issues since more than 1,000 passengers missed their flights in a single day last month
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Kids' vaccines are 'a game changer,' experts say—here's what else needs to happen to end the Covid pandemic

For months, the country has been waiting on a pandemic turning point — and it might be here, in the form of kids under age 5 becoming eligible for Covid vaccines. Just don’t expect it to make Covid disappear overnight, experts say. Covid vaccines for small children are “absolutely a game changer for some families,” Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of population health and disease prevention at the University of California, Irvine, tells CNBC Make It. ”[But] this isn’t the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle, unfortunately.”
29th Jun 2022 - CNBC

Defectors in Seoul send balloons carrying medicine to COVID-19-struck North Korea

A North Korean defector group in Seoul claimed on Tuesday to have launched air balloons carrying medical supplies near the inter-Korean border. The Fighters for Free North Korea, an activist group of North Korean defectors who send anti-propaganda leaflets across the border, said they flew 20 air balloons carrying 50,000 pain relief pills, 30,000 vitamin C and 20,000 N-95 masks. Dispatching unauthorized materials at the border is against the law in South Korea.
29th Jun 2022 - ABC on MSN.com


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Amref and AstraZeneca launch clinics to support Kenyan COVID-19 vaccinations

The mobile clinics will support communities with limited or no access to vaccines and other health services. Amref Health Africa and AstraZeneca – in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Kenya – are launching a fleet of mobile vaccination clinics in an effort to protect last-mile communities from the pandemic. Ten movable clinics will bring COVID-19 vaccines and other health services into hard-to-reach communities across Kenya, increasing vaccine access and general uptake in Kenya. As of June 2022, only 31.4% of the adult population in Kenya were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while Africa’s average vaccination rate is 17.7%, lagging behind other world regions. Each mobile clinic aims to vaccinate 70-100 people every day – reaching up to 1,000 people per day, once all ten mobile clinics are fully operational.
28th Jun 2022 - PharmaTimes

Ireland puts army on standby to help at Dublin airport amid COVID surge

Ireland agreed on Tuesday to put the army on standby to help with security at Dublin airport should staffing be hit by a resurgence of COVID-19 during the rest of the busy summer travel period. Ireland's main airport is one of many around Europe that has struggled to hire staff fast enough to deal with a sharp rebound in travel, although it has had relatively few issues since more than 1,000 passengers missed their flights in a single day last month.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19's sixth wave hits Palestinian Territories

In a press statement sent to The New Arab, the ministry said it reported more than 1,000 new cases infected with the deadly coronavirus in the West Bank in a single day. The Ramallah-based Palestinian Health Ministry announced on Monday that the sixth wave of the coronavirus has hit the region. In a press statement sent to The New Arab, the ministry said it reported more than 1,000 new cases infected with the deadly coronavirus in the West Bank in a single day. Mai al-Kaila, the health minister, expressed her concerns about the current health situation, urging the public to immediately receive booster vaccinations and abide by precautionary and preventive measures. The Palestinian minister warned that its ministry may call on local authorities to impose several strict measures to curb the virus's spread.
27th Jun 2022 - The New Arab

Peru facing fourth wave of COVID-19: government

Peru's government on Sunday declared that a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections had begun to hit the country, which has one of the highest mortality rates from the virus in the world. "We are currently in a fourth wave, as we have seen the increase (of cases)... in different provinces of our country, such as Junin, Arequipa, Cusco and the capital," Health Minister Jorge Lopez told local broadcaster RPP radio. According to official figures, infections increased from 1,800 per week at the beginning of the month to more than 11,000 in the last week.
27th Jun 2022 - Medical Xpress

US Covid-19 vaccine rollout for under-fives must overcome hesitancy

For some American families, it was a much-anticipated and badly needed victory: Covid vaccines for children under five began rolling out in the US last week. “I’ve already been waiting a year and a half since I got my first dose, and that’s been intolerable,” says Dr Roby Bhattacharyya, an infectious diseases doctor at Massachusetts general hospital and parent of a four-year-old who received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday. But others still have questions as America’s problem with vaccine hesitancy has not gone away. Less than one in five families want to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible, while the majority say they want to “wait and see” first. Only 18% of parents plan to have their children under five vaccinated right away, while 38% want to see how the vaccine rollout goes, according to an April survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). Another 11% say they will only get their kids vaccinated if they are required to, while 27% say they definitely won’t do it
27th Jun 2022 - The Guardian


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Shanghai businesses struggle to get back on their feet after Covid-19 lockdown

SHANGHAI - Weeks after emerging from a two-month lockdown, Shanghai's small and medium businesses have a lot of catching up to do. But some are still wary about ordering workers back to the office, fearing that the emergence of a Covid-19 cluster would result in lengthy quarantines and more business disruptions.
27th Jun 2022 - The Straits Times

Hong Kong’s Struggle to Lure Bankers Dims Its Role as a Global Finance Hub

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament was for years a highlight on Asia’s networking calendar for global bankers and their clients. Now, organizers are pushing for a downsized version of the event this fall, reflecting the challenge the city faces to maintain its status as Asia’s leading financial hub. The Hong Kong Rugby Union is still waiting for government approval for its proposed “closed loop” for the 16 teams and support staff, modeled on the system used at the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year that sealed off athletes and other participants from the public, said Robbie McRobbie, its chief executive. With seven days of quarantine for all arrivals, organizers are resigned to holding this year’s tournament while missing the thousands of overseas visitors who in years past thronged the three-day event, which coincided with major business conferences and meetings.
27th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Biden team launches all-out push to vaccinate youngest children

The Biden administration pushed American families to immunize infants and small children for COVID-19 on Thursday, deploying ads intended to tug at heartstrings as it contends with Republicans and parents who are leery or outright opposed to shots for children as young as 6 months. The Department of Health and Human Services released a 30-second ad urging parents to protect children 4 and younger, who became eligible for shots this week, while the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19 has been one of the top five causes of death in children since the start of the pandemic.
23rd Jun 2022 - Washington Times

COVID-19 vaccine scheme for world's poorest pushes for delivery slowdown

Leaders of the global scheme aiming to get COVID-19 vaccines to the world's poorest are pushing manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna to cut or slow deliveries of about half a billion shots so doses are not wasted. COVAX, the World Health Organization-led scheme, wants between 400 and 600 million fewer vaccines doses than initially contracted from six pharmaceutical companies, according to internal documents seen by Reuters.
23rd Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Universal Beijing Resort to reopen on June 25 as COVID cases drop

The Universal Beijing Resort said on Wednesday it will reopen on June 25 after being closed for nearly two months, as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the Chinese capital falls. The resort said on its official WeChat account that after it reopens, all visitors must show a negative PCR test taken within the past 72 hours and wear masks at all times.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Beijing city reports three local COVID cases on Wednesday as of 3 p.m.

Chinese capital Beijing reported three new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as of 3 p.m., all found during community screening, a local health official said. Uncertainty over Beijing city's COVID prevention and control situation has increased with new community cases emerging continuously, Liu Xiaofeng, deputy director at Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told a news briefing. The three infections were found in the city's economic-technological development zone, Liu said.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Parents Struggle to Secure Covid-19 Vaccine Appointments for Young Kids

Anna Carvill had one thing on top of her to-do list this week: get a Covid-19 vaccine appointment for her 2-year-old son. She managed to get an appointment for Thursday at a mobile clinic in downtown Boulder, Colo. Vaccines became available Monday. She is one of millions of parents and caregivers who are seeking to get their children under 5 vaccinated against Covid-19. “We want him to be as protected as he can as soon as possible,” Ms. Carvill said. Federal health authorities on Saturday recommended Moderna Inc.’s two-dose vaccine as well as a three-dose regimen by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE for children as young as 6 months. It was a moment some parents and caregivers had been eagerly awaiting, yet some of them haven’t managed to book appointments for their children, while others are holding off.
22nd Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

COVID-19: Infections rise by nearly half a million in a week

COVID-19 cases have surged by nearly half in a week, official figures show. Last week, an estimated 1,415,600 people had coronavirus in the UK, up 425,800 or 43%. This is the highest estimate for infections since the start of May, but is still well below the record high of 4.9 million at the end of March. Cases rose in all four nations of the UK - and increased across all age groups. In England, around one in 50 people had the virus, according to the coronavirus infection survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
22nd Jun 2022 - Yahoo UK & Ireland

New York City Lowers Covid-19 Risk Level to Medium as Cases Drop

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and health officials lowered the city’s Covid-19 alert level to medium from high Tuesday, citing declining case counts and hospitalization rates. The shift comes a little more than a month after the city moved the Covid-19 alert level to high as a wave of new cases spread throughout the city. “Day after day, New Yorkers are stepping up and doing their part, and because of our collective efforts we are winning the fight against Covid-19,” Adams and City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said in a joint statement.
22nd Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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U.S. COVID vaccines start to roll out for young children

The United States has begun distributing COVID vaccines for children as young as six months around the country, and availability of the shots will improve in the coming days, according to White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. U.S. regulators authorized Moderna Inc's two-dose vaccine for children aged six months to five years and the Pfizer-BioNTech three-shot regimen for children aged six months to four years late last week.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. COVID vaccine rollout for young children will pick up pace

The United States has begun distributing COVID vaccines for children as young as six months around the country, and availability of the shots will improve in the coming days, according to White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. U.S. regulators authorized Moderna Inc's (MRNA.O) two-dose vaccine for children aged six months to five years and the Pfizer (PFE.N)-BioNTech (22UAy.DE) three-shot regimen for children aged six months to four years late last week.
21st Jun 2022 - Reuters

Covid surges across Europe as experts warn not let guard down

Multiple European countries are experiencing a significant surge in new Covid-19 infections, as experts warn that with almost all restrictions lifted and booster take-up often low, cases could soar throughout the summer leading to more deaths. According to the Our World in Data scientific aggregator, the rolling seven-day average of confirmed new cases per million inhabitants is on the rise in countries including Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark. Portugal has experienced the most dramatic wave, with infections per million remaining at a seven-day average of 2,043 on Monday – the second highest new case rate in the world, although down somewhat from an early June high of 2,878.
21st Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Covid hospitalisations in England up 24 per cent from last week

Coronavirus hospitalisations in England have surged by almost 25 per cent in the last week, as cases spread like wildfire once more across the globe. New figures released by the NHS this week highlight 5,726 beds occupied by Covid patients as of 20 June, up from 4,602 on the previous Monday. The spike in cases represents a 24 per cent increase in England, as the virus once more rears its ahead around the world. There was also a major spike in cases following the Platinum Jubilee half term break, and as the weather heats up, and Brits enjoy more socialising.
21st Jun 2022 - City AM


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Europe looks to next wave of COVID with coordinated supply plan

Following the adoption of a critical list of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, European Union member states and pharma companies will communicate to ensure sufficient supply to meet evolving demand.
20th Jun 2022 - BioPharma-Reporter

China Outbreaks Shift to South With Shenzhen, Macau on Alert

China’s Covid-19 outbreak is shifting to its south coast, with a flareup in technology hub Shenzhen triggering mass testing and a lockdown of some neighborhoods, while gambling enclave Macau -- an hour’s drive away -- is racing to stop its first outbreak in eight months. The new cases come as China’s two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, look to be subduing the virus after months of strict curbs and repeated testing. Shanghai reported nine local cases on Tuesday, while Beijing reported five. Nationwide, China posted 34 new infections on Tuesday.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid Cases Surge, but Deaths Stay Near Lows

For two years, the coronavirus killed Americans on a brutal, predictable schedule: A few weeks after infections climbed so did deaths, cutting an unforgiving path across the country. But that pattern appears to have changed. Nearly three months since an ultra-contagious set of new Omicron variants launched a springtime resurgence of cases, people are nonetheless dying from Covid at a rate close to the lowest of the pandemic. The spread of the virus and the number of deaths in its wake, two measures that were once yoked together, have diverged more than ever before, epidemiologists said. Deaths have ticked up slowly in the northeastern United States, where the latest wave began, and are likely to do the same nationally as the surge pushes across the South and West.
20th Jun 2022 - The New York Times

New Omicron wave growing fast: 'We were wrong to think Covid was over and vaccination is not enough'

Covid-19 inflection rates in the UK and hospitalisations across Europe are on the rise. Meanwhile, new omicron sub-variants are growing more prevalent. Therefore, the Government’s panglossian messaging has undermined the public health response to a potential new Covid-19 wave, experts warn today. Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire told City A.M. this morning that “in recent months the government has pushed the idea that we are past Covid-19 and that it isn’t something to be concerned about anymore, especially if we have been vaccinated.
20th Jun 2022 - City A.M.

British Ryanair pilots accept post-COVID pay restoration deal- union

In July 2020 BALPA members voted overwhelmingly to accept temporary pay cuts in order to avoid jobs losses due to COVID-19 groundings. Chief Executive Michael O'Leary in January then said that management had begun discussions with unions across its network about accelerating pay restoration in a deal he said might result in the extension pay agreements by a year or two. Asked how many pilots had accepted deals covering post-COVID pay restoration, a Ryanair spokesperson said over 70% of its pilots are covered by "newly renegotiated agreements". There are pay agreements in place for all pilots, the airline said.
20th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Can We Develop a Covid-19 Vaccine That Lasts?

Though most vaccines take years to develop, the Covid shots now in use were created in record time—in a matter of months. For health authorities and a public desperate for tools to deal with the pandemic, their speedy arrival provided a huge lift, preventing hospitalizations and deaths while helping people to escape lockdowns and return to work, school and many other aspects of pre-Covid life. But the Covid vaccines don’t last nearly as long as shots given for other viral illnesses such as polio, mumps and hepatitis, which remain effective for years or decades. Even more worrisome to some scientists and public health officials, the current vaccines don’t fully protect against infections, which hurts their overall effectiveness and gives the virus an opportunity to mutate into more contagious and lethal strains.
18th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

West Australian aged care visitor limits expected to remain for some time, despite COVID-19 restrictions easing

Aged care visitor limits are among the last remaining COVID restrictions. Visitors are capped at two people each day, impacting larger families. A major aged care provider expects the limits will be in place for a while longer
18th Jun 2022 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

COVID-19: Infections rise by nearly half a million in a week

COVID-19 cases have surged by nearly half in a week, official figures show. Last week, an estimated 1,415,600 people had coronavirus in the UK, up 425,800 or 43%. This is the highest estimate for infections since the start of May, but is still well below the record high of 4.9 million at the end of March. Cases rose in all four nations of the UK - and increased across all age groups. In England, around one in 50 people had the virus, according to the coronavirus infection survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
17th Jun 2022 - Sky News


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Trends are shifting, but Covid-19 and its effects are still not equitable

Through the many phases of the Covid-19 pandemic -- nearly a dozen variants, the introduction of vaccines, the dropping of prevention measures and more -- one thing has remained constant: The virus and its effects are not one-size-fits-all. Over the past few months, two unique trends have emerged: For the first time in the pandemic, Covid-19 case rates in the United States are higher among Asian people, and death rates are higher among White people than any other racial or ethnic group. These trends are a marked shift among groups that, data suggests, have tended to fare better overall during the pandemic. But there are critical limitations in federal data that mask persistent inequities, experts say.
16th Jun 2022 - CNN

Covid care home restrictions in Scotland caused harm, says report

Severe restrictions imposed on care home residents in Scotland during the Covid pandemic caused "harm and distress" and may have contributed to some deaths, academics have said. A 143-page report has been produced by Edinburgh Napier University. It had been commissioned by the independent inquiry into the country's handling of the pandemic. The report says that the legal basis for confining residents to their rooms and banning visitors was "unclear". And it said care home residents were arguably discriminated against compared to other citizens.
16th Jun 2022 - BBC News


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Europe's medicines watchdog publishes new report identifying COVID-19 lessons learned

In 2021, the European Commission, Parliament and Council gave the EMA greater tools enabling it to both support innovation and respond to emergencies, in an acknowledgement of the agency’s vital role in tackling the pandemic. The EMA approved five treatments and four new vaccines against COVID-19. It also passed regulation on medical devices—a year later than planned because of the pandemic—and took steps towards developing an information network designed to generate data about health patterns across the continent, called the Data Analysis and Real World Interrogation Network (DARWIN EU).
15th Jun 2022 - Healthcare IT News

UK to Roll Out Drugs From Pfizer, Shionogi to Fight Superbugs

England is rolling out a pair of antibiotics from Pfizer Inc. and Shionogi & Co. as part of a pioneering program aimed at stimulating a broken market and taking on the rising threat of superbugs. Under the deal announced Wednesday by the National Health Service, the drug companies will receive a fixed annual fee for their antibiotics. The payments in the program, the first of its kind, will be as much as £10 million ($12 million) a year for up to 10 years. About 1,700 patients a year with severe bacterial infections will be eligible for the drugs. With germs becoming increasingly resistant to current antibiotics, the NHS said the drugs will provide a lifeline to patients with life-threatening infections like sepsis or hospital or ventilator pneumonia.
15th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

North Korea COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Facing Challenges

As North Korea faces a rising number of COVID-19 cases, simply having vaccines may be insufficient to roll out a countrywide immunization process that experts say needs to be accompanied by adequate cold storage units and trained medical and technical staff that the nation lacks. Pyongyang announced on Tuesday that "more than 32,810 fevered cases" were detected in the country from June 12 to 13, through its state media Korea Central News Agency (KCNA). The total, "since late April," surged past 4.5 million as of June 14, added the KCNA.
15th Jun 2022 - VOA Asia

How long is your COVID vaccine good for? You can soon find out, thanks to a new test that informs patients of their immunity’s ‘magnitude and duration’

Until recently, it’s been nearly impossible to say. Immunity, whether from vaccine or prior infection, is thought to wane after three or four months, but it varies by person. That knowledge is based on what’s known about typical antibody response—but antibodies are only half of the picture. The other half: T-cell response, which hasn’t been examined in patients nearly as often owing to technical challenges. Now that response can be tested affordably and en masse, researchers at Mount Sinai Health System in New York say. Along with researchers at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, they developed a rapid blood test called the dqTACT assay that measures the activation of such cells in response to COVID. The test will allow for mass monitoring of the population’s immunity and effectiveness of vaccines new and old, they said in a study published Tuesday in Nature Biotechnology.
14th Jun 2022 - Fortune


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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine's safety slightly bests Pfizer's

An observational study today in JAMA Internal Medicine reports a slightly better safety profile for the Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine than for the Pfizer/BioNTech version in US veterans, but both vaccines had very good safety profiles. A team led by Harvard University researchers reviewed the electronic health records of 433,672 US Department of Veterans Affairs patients across the country who received their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Jan 4 to Sep 20, 2021, with a second dose scheduled for 21 to 28 days later, depending on the vaccine. Median patient age was 69 years, 93% were men, 20% were Black, and 8% were Hispanic. Median follow-up was 223 days.
14th Jun 2022 - CIDRAP

Moderna to invest 500 mln euros in Spain, PM Sanchez says

Moderna plans to invest around 500 million euros ($520.60 million) in a new laboratory in Spain to boost its production of vaccines, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday. Sanchez wrote on his Twitter account that he had a meeting with Moderna vice president, Dan Staner, and heard about the drugmaker's expansion plans in the country. Spanish pharmaceutical group Rovi agreed early in the year a 10-year extension to its deal with Moderna to manufacture future drugs developed with the mRNA technology used for the U.S. company's coronavirus vaccine.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

The next virus pandemic threat (and what the experts are doing about it)

Two years ago the first human trials of the University of Oxford’s game-changing Covid-19 vaccine were just under way, only five months after the pandemic virus was identified. Bill Gates has hailed this super-rapid progress as “miraculous”. The scientists responsible prefer to put it down to preparation. Back then no one was even sure that a vaccine against Covid-19 could work. Now, having succeeded in creating several of them, the knowledge accrued when developing such drugs is being put to good use on new projects. In America, for instance, scientists in collaboration with BioNTech, the German firm behind the Pfizer coronavirus jab, are trialling a vaccine to treat pancreatic cancer, the deadliest common cancer, using the same mRNA technology as was used in Covid jabs.
14th Jun 2022 - The Times

Two-thirds of hospital patients with Covid-19 there because of the virus, amid heavy demand

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 continues to be about twice as high as what was modelled – roughly two-thirds of whom are in hospital with the virus as the primary cause, officials say. It comes as respiratory viruses are putting a “very significant burden” on not just the country’s hospitals, but also primary care. The rate of reported Covid-19 cases continues to decrease, to 8.3 per 1000 people this week, down from 9.3 the week before. As of Tuesday, 377 people are in hospital with the virus, including seven in intensive care.
14th Jun 2022 - Stuff

UK pubs giant takes on insurer trio in $1.2 bln COVID trial

Britain's biggest pubs group Stonegate, which is suing Zurich Insurance and two peers for 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) over lockdown losses, battled the COVID-19 pandemic "day by day, venue by venue", a London trial heard on Monday. Ben Lynch, a lawyer for Stonegate, said the company's 760 insured pubs, bars and night clubs at the centre of the case had each faced separate challenges, opening and shutting at differing times according to regional rules - and seeing business drop by up to 90% below projections.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Bank of England to drop post-COVID capital buffer rule

The Bank of England said on Monday that it would remove a post-COVID capital buffer adjustment now that risks from the pandemic had subsided. "Removing a temporary capital adjustment that is no longer necessary aims to achieve simplicity and enhances proportionality, thereby facilitating effective competition," the BoE said in a statement. In July 2020, the BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) announced the temporary increase of the buffer for all firms that received a Pillar 2A reduction under its PS15/20 policy to reconcile capital requirements and macroprudential buffers
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

‘Covid not over yet, increase vaccinations for schoolkids': Mandaviya to states

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya interacted with health ministers of states and Union territories and urged them to focus on increasing Covid-19 vaccination coverage for schoolchildren, precaution dose for the elderly and strengthening genome sequencing, the health ministry said. “Covid-19 is not over yet. With rising Covid-19 cases in some states, it is important to be alert and not to forget Covid-appropriate behaviour,” Mandaviya told the states at the review meeting. Highlighting increased case positivity in some districts and states and reduced Covid-19 testing, Mandaviya said increased and timely testing will enable early identification of cases and help to curb the spread of the infection among the community. “He urged states/UTs to continue and strengthen the surveillance and focus on genome sequencing for identifying new mutants/variants in the country. He stated that the five-fold strategy of test, track, treat, vaccination and adherence to Covid Appropriate Behavior (CAB) needs to be continued and monitored by States/UTs,” the ministry said in a statement.
13th Jun 2022 - Hindustan Times

Japan Has Fewest Covid-19 Deaths Per Capita in OECD, New Data Show

Japan has the lowest number of Covid-19 deaths per capita among wealthy nations, according to new data, with health experts citing the country’s mask habit and low obesity rate as possible reasons. As of Sunday, Japan’s cumulative Covid-19 deaths per million population stood at 245, according to Our World in Data, a website that tallies Covid-19 statistics. That is the lowest figure among the 38 member states in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of wealthy nations that includes the U.S. and most of Europe. The Japanese rate compares with 2,469 Covid-19 deaths per million people in Europe and 3,038 per million in the U.S., which has the highest rate in the OECD. While the reasons for the U.S. rate aren’t well-understood, widespread obesity, less mask-wearing, disparities in access to healthcare and a lower vaccination rate than some other OECD countries likely played a role, public-health specialists have said.
13th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Canada to suspend random COVID testing to reduce airport wait times

Canada is suspending random COVID-19 testing at all its airports for the rest of June to ease the long wait times that travelers have encountered in recent weeks, a government statement said on Friday. The random testing will be discontinued from Saturday and will resume "off-site" on July 1, the statement said. Random testing was blamed by some industry officials for lengthening already long wait times at airports. Toronto's Pearson airport has had planes stuck at gates and hours-long security lines because of staffing shortages.
12th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Ontario planning COVID-19 boosters for fall, most mask mandates ending Saturday

After years of daily COVID-19 data reporting from the province, Public Health Ontario (PHO) is moving to a weekly reporting system. In a news release issued late Friday afternoon, the province announced the change comes into effect as of June 11. Ontario will publish the latest COVID-19 data each Thursday, starting on June 16. "PHO will continue to monitor trends and determine if any additional changes to reporting are needed, including to frequency and content, in the coming weeks and months," the statement reads. Data will still be available through the province's Open Data Catalog, it notes, but it will not be on the provincial website.
10th Jun 2022 - CBC.ca


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New vaccine may be option for troops with religious concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine that could soon win federal authorization may offer a boost for the U.S. military: an opportunity to get shots into some of the thousands of service members who have refused other coronavirus vaccines for religious reasons. At least 175 active duty and reserve service members have already received the Novavax vaccine, some even traveling overseas at their own expense to get it. The vaccine meets Defense Department requirements because it has the World Health Organization’s emergency use approval and is used in Europe and other regions. The Food and Drug Administration is considering giving it emergency use authorization in the U.S.
9th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

BioNTech to soon start mRNA vaccine factory construction in Rwanda

COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech said construction of an mRNA vaccine factory to enable African nations to jump-start their own manufacturing network would start on June 23 in Rwanda. The groundbreaking ceremony in the capital city of Kigali is to be attended by Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, further heads of African states, as well as representatives from the European Union and the World Health Organization, the biotech firm said in a statement on Thursday. The German company's modular factory elements, to be assembled in Africa to so-called BioNTainers, would be delivered to the Kigali construction site by the end of 2022, it added. The company, which developed the western world's most widely used COVID-19 shot with U.S. partner Pfizer, earlier this year mapped out a plan to enable African countries to produce its Comirnaty-branded shot under BioNTech's supervision
10th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Black and Asian frontline staff faced racial harassment during Covid-19 pandemic, watchdog finds

Lower-paid health and social care workers, who played a pivotal front-line role during the Covid-19 pandemic, experienced bullying, racism and harassment at work according to their evidence to an inquiry conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Poor data collection by their employers could also be masking the extent of discrimination against them, the watchdog also found. Job insecurity in the health and adult social care sectors caused fear of victimisation among low-paid ethnic minority staff, particularly if they were to raise concerns, according to the inquiry which was launched in November 2020.
9th Jun 2022 - The Independent


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What are the entry requirements for France?

On 31 March 2022, the French government relaxed Covid border restrictions to allow unvaccinated travellers entry to the country for leisure and work purposes. Previously, only vaccinated travellers were permitted entry for leisure and work, while unjabbed travellers could only visit the country if they had a compelling reason. Unvaccinated travellers should provide proof of a negative PCR test, taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in France, or an antigen test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival. They will no longer need to quarantine for seven days on entering the country. Rules for vaccinated travellers were also relaxed. They no longer need to submit a sworn declaration form stating that they show no Covid symptoms. They are only required to present proof of vaccination.
9th Jun 2022 - Evening Standard


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French medics protest hospital crisis, deepened by COVID

Health workers protested Tuesday around France to demand more hiring and better salaries in public hospitals, after years of cost cuts that left medics submerged when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and are now forcing emergency rooms to cut services. Nine unions and collectives organized a day of protest, including a demonstration outside the Health Ministry in Paris and in dozens of other towns and cities, to call the government’s attention to growing concerns about staff shortages. President Emmanuel Macron has promised a rethink of the public hospital system and commissioned an urgent review by July 1. Protesters hope to pressure the government as France heads into two rounds of legislative elections starting Sunday.
8th Jun 2022 - The Independent

Flu cases rise in Canada amid eased COVID-19 restrictions

The easing of public health restrictions that were aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 has lead to a surge in cases of another virus, experts say. Since the start of April, Canada has seen a sharp increase in cases of influenza, something not typically seen in the spring. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) most recent FluWatch report, there were 1,580 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu between May 22 and May 28. This is down from the peak of 2,121 flu cases seen during the week of May 8 to 14, but PHAC warns that the number of flu cases "remains above the epidemic threshold." Last year, the period between May 23 and June 19 saw just one laboratory-confirmed flu case. Prior to the pandemic, a five-week period in May and June 2019 saw 864 laboratory-confirmed cases, an average of 172.8 cases per week.
7th Jun 2022 - CTV News

Washington hospitals again strained by COVID-19 spread

Hospital officials in Washington are warning that facilities are heading toward another COVID-19 case peak amid high spread in the community. Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer on Monday said at the end of last week, almost 600 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals across the state with about 20-25 patients a day on ventilators, The News Tribune reported. That compares with an average of around 230 hospitalized cases in the daily census in April and 1,700 in February during the Omicron wave. In response to the rising hospitalizations, officials on a media briefing call Monday implored people to wear high-quality masks indoors in crowded, public spaces, and to get COVID-19 booster shots on top of vaccinations. "It’s still something you don’t want to get and we want to urge you to do everything you can to protect yourself,” said Cassie Sauer, Washington State Hospital Association CEO. Community spread is also affecting health care workers and straining hospital staffing levels, officials said.
7th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press


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Pfizer to spend $120 mln to boost U.S. COVID pill manufacturing

Pfizer Inc said on Monday it would spend $120 million to expand manufacturing of its COVID-19 antiviral treatment at its Michigan plant, as demand ramps up. Use of the pill, Paxlovid, authorized to treat newly infected, at-risk people to prevent severe illness, has soared recently as infections rise. Biden administration officials have pushed for the wider use of Paxlovid, which the government distributes for free
6th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Beijing reopens restaurants as new COVID-19 cases drop

Diners returned to restaurants in most of Beijing for the first time in more than a month Monday as authorities further eased pandemic-related restrictions after largely eradicating a small COVID-19 outbreak in the capital under China's strict “zero-COVID” approach. Museums, cinemas and gyms were allowed to operate at up to 75% of capacity and delivery drivers could once again bring packages to a customer's door, rather than leave them to be picked up at the entrances to apartment compounds. The return to near-normal applied everywhere in Beijing except for one district and part of another, where the outbreak lingered. Schools, which partially reopened earlier, will fully do so on June 13, followed by kindergartens on June 20. Authorities conducted multiple rounds of mass testing and locked down buildings and complexes when infections were discovered to stamp out an outbreak that infected about 1,800 people over six weeks in a city of 22 million. The number of new cases dropped to six on Sunday. The ruling Communist Party remains wedded to a “zero-COVID” strategy that exacts an economic cost and inconveniences millions of people, even as many other countries adopt a more relaxed approach as vaccination rates rise and treatments become more widely available.
6th Jun 2022 - The Independent


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Beijing to allow indoor dining, further easing COVID curbs

Beijing will further relax COVID-19 curbs by allowing indoor dining, as China's capital steadily returns to normal with inflections falling, state media said on Sunday. Beijing and the commercial hub Shanghai have been returning to normal in recent days after two months of painful lockdowns to crush outbreaks of the Omicron variant. Dine-in service in Beijing will resume on Monday, except for the Fengtai district and some parts of the Changping district, the Beijing Daily said. Restaurants and bars have been restricted to takeaway since early May.
5th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Airlines step up push to get U.S. to drop international COVID-19 testing rule

American Airlines Chief Executive Robert Isom said on Friday at a conference the testing requirements were "nonsensical" and were "depressing" leisure and business travel. Airlines say many Americans are not traveling internationally because of concerns they will test positive and be stranded abroad. International U.S. air travel remains down about 14% from pre-pandemic levels. Isom, who met with politicians in Washington on Thursday to discuss the issue, said 75% of countries American serves do not have testing requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires travelers to test negative within one day before flights to the United States.
4th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Special Olympics Lifts Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate After Facing Fine

Special Olympics Inc. reversed course and dropped its Covid-19 vaccine requirement for staff and athletes attending the coming games in Orlando, Fla., after state officials there threatened the nonprofit with a $27.5 million fine. Florida’s health department said SOI would be fined $5,000 for every individual asked to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of attending, a Special Olympics spokeswoman said. The group had previously required proof. Its USA Games kick off Sunday and run through June 12. Roughly 5,500 people are expected to attend. Florida passed legislation last year banning businesses and agencies from mandating vaccines. Last October, the health department fined Leon County $3.57 million for requiring county staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
3rd Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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After Ontario's COVID-19 school closures, a responsive recovery plan is critical

Three years into the pandemic, it’s clear that Canada’s provinces have been hampered by a lack of a comparative cross-Canada analysis of school closures and the effects on students. What we do know about the disruptive impact of school closures on Ontario and other provinces comes largely from a June 2021 Ontario Science Table study documenting the extent of school closures from province-to-province.
31st May 2022 - The Conversation

As UK Covid cases fall to lowest level for a year, what could the future look like?

After enduring record-breaking levels of Covid in the past six months, Britain has seen cases fall to their lowest for a year. But as the country eases back into a life more normal, will the disease remain in the background – or is another resurgence on its way? Science editor Ian Sample explains how the virus is changing – and why one expert thinks infection rates “are not going to get down to very low numbers again in our lifetimes”.
31st May 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19 weekly deaths lowest since last summer

The number of deaths involving coronavirus registered each week in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level for nine months. A total of 547 deaths registered in the seven days to May 20 mentioned Covid-19 on the death certificate, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is down 24% on the previous week and is the lowest total since early August 2021. It is the third week in a row that deaths have decreased, which suggests the figures are now on a downwards trend. There have been similarly sharp falls in recent months in the number of Covid-19 infections and patients in hospital with the virus. Infections in both England and Wales hit an all-time high at the end of March, but in England they have dropped to levels last seen in November 2021 and in Wales they are back to where they were in September.
31st May 2022 - Wales Online


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FTSE 100 CEOs Salaries Rebound to Pre-Covid Levels in 2021

Top UK bosses are earning as much as they were before the pandemic after pay packages rebounded from a Covid-driven lull. Overall pay for chief executive officers in the FTSE 100 rose to a median average of £3.6 million ($4.6 million) in 2021, according to research by Deloitte LLP. The revival in higher pay packages was spurred by an increase in annual bonuses and stronger incentives for staff.
30th May 2022 - Bloomberg

China donates 10 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses to Myanmar

The Chinese embassy handed them over to Myanmar's Ministry of Health at the Yangon International Airport on Sunday. The China-donated COVID-19 vaccines and syringes arrived in Myanmar in separate batches starting from May 18 to May 29. China has been continuously providing medical supplies to Myanmar in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, and has helped Myanmar in filling and packing COVID-19 vaccines to boost the country's vaccination rate, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Chen Hai said at the handover ceremony.
30th May 2022 - CCTV


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U.S. doctors reconsider Pfizer's Paxlovid for lower-risk COVID patients

Use of Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid spiked this week, but some doctors are reconsidering the pills for lower-risk patients after a U.S. public health agency warned that symptoms can recur after people complete a course of the drug, and that they should then isolate a second time. More quarantine time "is not a crowd-pleaser," Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, an infectious disease specialist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, told Reuters. "For those people who really aren't at risk ... I would recommend that they not take it."
28th May 2022 - Reuters

JBS U.S. units to adopt pandemic response plans after COVID outbreaks

Subsidiaries of meat processor JBS USA LLC have agreed to implement infectious disease preparedness plans at seven U.S. plants, in the wake of a U.S. congressional report finding that the industry largely failed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among workers. The agreement was announced on Friday by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which said the companies will work with teams of outside experts to develop and implement new policies on engineering, ventilation, visitor screening, cleaning, and personal protective equipment.
27th May 2022 - Reuters

Beijing city offers elderly COVID shot-related health insurance to ease hesitancy

China's capital is offering elderly residents state-backed insurance for "medical accidents" linked to COVID-19 shots to ease vaccination hesitancy among those most vulnerable, as Beijing ramps up inoculations during its worst outbreak. Chinese officials have pointed to relatively lower vaccination rates among the elderly as a key weakness in its "dynamic zero-COVID" strategy. The city of 22 million people had fully inoculated 97.7% of its adult residents as of September last year, but only 80.6% of people aged 60 and over had received their first dose by mid-April this year, according to city officials.
27th May 2022 - Reuters


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Japan starts 4th COVID vaccine shots for seniors, at-risk groups

Japan began offering fourth coronavirus vaccine shots Wednesday to older people, and those with underlying medical conditions. People eligible for fourth inoculations are those aged 60 and older as well as individuals between 18 and 59 with chronic health conditions, such as respiratory illnesses or heart conditions, or at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms if infected with the coronavirus, according to the health ministry. The ministry suggests people receive the booster shots at least five months after receiving their third inoculation. The majority of seniors began getting third shots in January, meaning that the fourth round of shots is expected to be in full swing from June onward.
26th May 2022 - Kyodo News Plus

Hospitals are exploring a way to pay for uninsured Covid-19 care

The federal health department shut down a program that paid hospitals and clinics for caring for uninsured Covid-19 patients, but some hospitals are now eyeing a backdoor option to get those costs paid for. Throughout much of the pandemic, the costs of testing, vaccinating, and treating uninsured patients were mostly funneled to a multi-billion-dollar program run by the Health Resources and Services Administration, but that program ran out of money and shut down in April. The program paid out more than $1 billion per month, which means its closure was a big hit for some facilities that serve large numbers of uninsured patients.
26th May 2022 - STAT News


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 26th May 2022

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Covid Lockdown Costs Shanghai Its China Currency Trading Crown

The fallout of China’s Covid Zero policy is starting to show in Shanghai’s financial markets, with the city losing its top currency trading hub title for the first time. Shanghai handled fewer currency deals than Beijing in April, to rank second among China’s 36 provinces and municipalities, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. The decline points to another consequence of strict lockdowns and may serve as a case study for the possible implications of movement curbs in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, as Covid cases climb. Traders volunteering to stay in the office, sleeping on trading floors, did little keep up currency volumes. Settlement and sales by banks for their clients, dropped 30% from March to $61.8 billion. That’s 15% of the national tally, compared with a steady share of around 20% before the lockdown, as per data going back to 2019.
26th May 2022 - Bloomberg

‘They were laughing at us’: Covid families’ fury at revelations in Sue Gray report

In Britain, families bereaved by Covid-19 have said they are “sickened” by the revelations in Sue Gray’s Partygate report, and have accused Boris Johnson and his staff of “laughing at us”. A group of 4,000 families who lost loved ones from Covid-19 have hit out at the prime minister after his government was guilty of “a serious failure” to abide by the “standards expected of the entire British population”
25th May 2022 - The Independent

Platinum Jubilee celebrations could increase Covid infections by 50 per cent in summer spike, scientists warn

Covid infections will jump by up to 50 per cent following the Jubilee celebrations after falling by two-thirds in the past two months, leading scientists have warned. New symptomatic infections have tumbled from a record 349,011 a day on 31 March to an estimated 117,136 cases today – with cases relatively stable over the past fortnight, according to the ZOE Covid study app. But Professor Tim Spector, who runs the ZOE app, believes greater social mixing over the extended bank holiday weekend, alongside waning immunity, will see infections rise sharply from their current level of 1 in 37 people across the UK.
25th May 2022 - iNews


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Covid-19 Vaccine and Drug Sales, Once Booming, Plateau

The gold rush for drugmakers making Covid-19 vaccines and treatments might be over, as demand plateaus, supplies turn ample and the pandemic evolves. Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson are among the companies cutting sales expectations for pandemic products this year as they assess the outlook. Analysts, meantime, are lowering sales estimates for Covid-19 drugs such as Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral Paxlovid, citing softening demand and few new supply deals. The situation marks a new phase in the pandemic, according to analysts, one without the record sales that certain companies such as Pfizer and Moderna Inc. notched just a few months ago.
25th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Retailer Selloff Leaves Covid Slump in the Dust as Rout Widens

The darkest days of the pandemic might be long gone, but for chain stores and other merchants, it’s March 2020 all over again. And it’s getting worse. A selloff in Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. shares has pushed the SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund (ticker XRT) down 44% from its November record high, outpacing the fund’s 41% rout during the pandemic. The $484 million ETF’s 16% slump in May would be the second-worst month since 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Rising costs on everything from transportation to labor are eating into the profit margins of some of America’s best known retailers, stoking concerns over whether companies will be able to pass on the increased expenses to consumers.
25th May 2022 - Bloomberg

New York School Vaccine Mandate Survives as Supreme Court Rejects Appeal

The US Supreme Court turned away a challenge to New York’s requirement that schoolchildren be vaccinated against serious diseases, refusing to question the state’s 2019 repeal of its longstanding exemption for families with religious objections. The justices without comment left in place a state court ruling that said New York wasn’t targeting religion when it eliminated the exemption after the worst measles outbreak in a quarter century. The vaccine requirement applies to children under 18 in both public and private schools.
24th May 2022 - Bloomberg


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Indian vaccine giant Serum plans African plant in global expansion

"It's never been a better time to be a vaccine manufacturer. I'm looking at expanding our manufacturing across the globe," SII Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla said during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "There are some great countries out there: South Africa, Rwanda, you know, to name a few that we're looking at." Poonawalla said he was meeting some African officials in Davos to discuss his plans. Asked about possible investments, he said such projects typically required at least around $300 million.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

COVID: On the road with the 'vaccine convoys' critical to keeping up the fight against coronavirus

It is difficult to know what COVID is doing to the people of Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the death toll has been vastly undercounted in much of the world, but poor data collection in most African countries makes it difficult to assess the true impact on the continent. Evidence on COVID-related deaths in South Africa suggests there are serious grounds for concern. Experts at South Africa’s Medical Research Council believe hundreds of thousands of deaths have been lost in the paperwork. The real death toll is thought to be three times the official number of 101,000.
23rd May 2022 - Sky News

Monkeypox in Europe: Officials Call on Nations to Boost Efforts

As monkeypox cases climb in the UK, European health officials are calling on countries to review the availability of vaccines and step up efforts to identify and report new infections. Countries should check on supplies of smallpox vaccines, antiviral therapies and protective equipment for health workers, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said Monday. The recommendations come as England reported that cases almost tripled to 56 from 20. The cousin of the smallpox virus has previously been mostly confined to regions in Africa, but health authorities are concerned about cases ticking up in Europe and North America. The World Health Organization had said that 92 cases and 28 suspected cases had been identified in 12 countries outside of those African nations where it is endemic as of May 21.
23rd May 2022 - Bloomberg

Smallpox Vaccine Enters Wider Production Amid Monkeypox Outbreak

Danish vaccine maker Bavarian Nordic A/S is making more of a smallpox vaccine typically stockpiled in case of biological warfare, as governments seek doses that also offer protection against monkeypox amid an unusual outbreak around the world. Monkeypox, a viral illness that is only rarely detected outside of Africa, has been reported in recent weeks in at least 17 countries including the U.S., U.K., Spain, Portugal and Australia, according to nonprofit data platform Global.health. In the U.S., a case was confirmed in Massachusetts and at least five more are suspected—one each in Florida, New York and Washington and two in Utah, state officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
23rd May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Apple Looks to Boost Production Outside China

Apple Inc. has told some of its contract manufacturers that it wants to boost production outside China, citing Beijing’s strict anti-Covid policy among other reasons, people involved in the discussions said. India and Vietnam, already sites for a small portion of Apple’s global production, are among the countries getting a closer look from the company as alternatives to China, the people said.
22nd May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Senior, Nursing Homes Rocked By Covid Costs Struggle to Escape Closure

That’s a huge difference from the strongest financially performing nursing homes that saw up to 10% returns before the pandemic, said John Tishler, who specializes in transactions involving distressed and bankrupt health-care facilities at Nashville law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. The pandemic revealed and amplified long-existing shortcomings at the more than 15,000 nursing homes in the US, such as inadequate staffing, poor infection control and regulatory failures, according to an April report from the National Academy of Sciences. As of last month, more than 150,000 nursing home residents and 2,362 workers had died from Covid-19, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
22nd May 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19 alert level in UK reduced - as Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 reclassified as variants of concern

The UK's coronavirus alert level has been reduced - as two rare types of Omicron have been reclassified as variants of concern. The level has moved from four to three after advice from the four nations' chief medical officers and the NHS England medical director. They said that "the current BA.2 driven Omicron wave is subsiding" and "direct COVID-19 healthcare pressures continue to decrease in all nations". Their statement added: "Whilst it is reasonable to expect the number of cases to increase due to BA.4, BA.5 or BA2.12.1, it is unlikely in the immediate future to lead to significant direct COVID pressures." The alert level was last raised on 12 December as Omicron spread rapidly.
21st May 2022 - Sky News

Shanghai economy hit on all sides in April by COVID lockdown

China's commercial hub of Shanghai reported on Friday a broad decline in its economy last month when a city-wide COVID lockdown shut factories and kept residents at home, sparking concerns among foreign firms over their presence in the country. Output of Shanghai's industries, located at the heart of manufacturing in the Yangtze River Delta, shrank 61.5% in April from a year earlier, the local statistics bureau said.
21st May 2022 - Reuters


Maintaining Services - Connecting Communities for COVID19 News - 20th May 2022

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China's zero-COVID policy dashes global hopes for quick economic return to normal

A sharp slowdown in China's economy caused by its strict zero-COVID rules and Beijing's shift away from a traditional reliance on external demand have cast doubts over how much the country will contribute to future global trade and investment. While China staged a remarkably quick recovery from its initial pandemic slump, thanks to bumper exports and factory production, analysts expect the current downturn will be harder to shake off than the one seen in early 2020
19th May 2022 - Reuters

Tea and infomercials: N. Korea fights COVID with few tools

“North Koreans know so many people around the world have died because of COVID-19, so they have fear that some of them could die, too,” said Kang Mi-jin, a North Korean defector, citing her phone calls with contacts in the northern North Korean city of Hyesan. She said people who can afford it are buying traditional medicine to deal with their anxieties. Since admitting what it called its first domestic COVID-19 outbreak one week ago, North Korea has been fighting to handle a soaring health crisis that has intensified public anxiety over a virus it previously claimed to have kept at bay.
20th May 2022 - The Associated Press

China's international schools hit by exodus of teachers dejected by COVID curbs

After teaching for three years at an international school in Shanghai, Michael is preparing to break his contract and leave, worn down by stringent measures against the coronavirus. Following two years of nearly-shut borders, onerous health checks and quarantine norms, a decision at the beginning of April to lock down China’s commercial centre proved the last straw for the 35-year-old. "It has reached a point where the economic benefits of working here don’t make up for the lack of freedom to come and go," the science teacher said, declining to give his full name for reasons of privacy.
20th May 2022 - Reuters

Uzbekistan produces over 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Uzbekistan has produced 6.172 million doses of ZF-UZ-VAC 2001 coronavirus vaccine. Since start of coronavirus pandemic, Uzbekistan received 69.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including: - 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca; - 48.1 million doses of ZF-UZ-VAC 2001; - 1.34 million doses of Sputnik V; - 10.68 million doses of Moderna; - 4.62 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech; - 1.97 million doses of Sinovac; - 343,000 doses of Sputnik Light. More than 53 million doses of coronavirus vaccines were administered in Uzbekistan in total so far. 16.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines remain available.
19th May 2022 - AKIpress

On-campus COVID-19 measures couldn't contain Omicron

A study assessing Cornell University's COVID-19 surveillance and vaccination programs during the Omicron variant surge suggests that vaccination protected against severe infection, but it and other mitigation measures—including mass testing—didn't prevent rapid viral transmission. The study, published today in JAMA Network Open, describes the outcomes of the university's SARS-CoV-2 transmission-prevention programs implemented after the campus reopened for in-person instruction in fall 2021. Steps included mandatory vaccination for students, urging of vaccination for employees, and an on-campus mask requirement. In addition, isolation and contact tracing took place within hours of all COVID-19–positive tests.
19th May 2022 - CIDRAP


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Pandemic science hub will develop drugs for lung infections such as Covid-19

A new pandemic science hub is being created to develop treatments for lung infections such as Covid-19. The hub at the University of Edinburgh will use translational genomics – following clues from the human genome to identify and rapidly test new treatments – along with experimental medicine methods to quickly evaluate and develop drugs for lung inflammation and injury caused by infection. Independent investment partnership Baillie Gifford is supporting the launch with a philanthropic gift of £14.7 million and the university aims to secure £100 million worth of investment in total. As well as accelerating discoveries of treatments for Covid-19 and other human lung diseases, the Baillie Gifford Pandemic Science Hub aims to help prepare for future pandemics.
18th May 2022 - The Independent

Where to Find Paxlovid Once You've Tested Positive for Covid

As Covid-19 again surges across the US, many people are going without time-sensitive therapeutics like Paxlovid because doctors worried about shortages are reluctant to prescribe the drugs. But the situation has changed and supplies are now abundant. Paxlovid, a combination of pills taken for five days, cuts the risk of hospitalization by nearly 90%, according to the manufacturer, Pfizer Inc. But to be effective, it must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms—which include everything from a scratchy throat, runny nose, cough and chills to fever, body aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and loss of taste or smell. The Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency-use authorizations for the drug to treat mild to moderate Covid-19 in people who are at high risk.
19th May 2022 - Bloomberg

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

Covid-19 wastewater surveillance is promising tool, but critical challenges remain

Covid-19 surveillance is at a crossroads in the United States. With at-home tests now outnumbering those done in laboratories, official case counts are more incomplete than ever as the nation -- and world -- faces down increasingly transmissible coronavirus variants. Wastewater surveillance is poised to fill in the gaps and help avoid the threats that an invisible wave of the virus could bring. This surveillance can help identify trends in transmission a week or two earlier than clinical testing, giving public health leaders the chance to focus messaging and resources. It can be used as a tool to sequence the virus and find new variants sooner, too. But eagerness to use this tool is stifled by uncertainty about exactly how to do so, along with a lack of resources and support to learn. Testing sewage for virus particles can provide early warning signs of increased transmission in a community, capturing even those who have asymptomatic infections or aren't being tested.
18th May 2022 - CNN


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China’s Economic Distress Deepens as Lockdowns Drag On

China’s economy descended deeper into a Covid-19-induced doldrums last month, raising questions about whether Beijing’s planned stimulus measures can prevent a prolonged downturn. Consumer spending and factory output tumbled in April, while growth in infrastructure investment—which Beijing has been counting on to prop up growth this year—slowed sharply, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported Monday.
18th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Pfizer, BioNTech COVID vaccine deliveries delayed in Europe

As the EU gears up for a COVID-19 booster campaign this fall, the bloc has delayed vaccine deliveries from Pfizer and BioNTech. The change creates time for officials to secure potential variant-adapted shots that could score authorization in the months to come. Pfizer and BioNTech—which last year pledged to supply Europe with up to 1.8 billion doses of their mRNA vaccine Comirnaty through 2023—are pushing back deliveries scheduled for June through August by three months. The unspecified number of doses is now pegged to arrive in the EU starting in September through the fourth quarter of 2022, Pfizer and BioNTech said Monday. The delivery update shouldn’t crimp Pfizer and BioNTech’s 2022 revenue guidance or full-year delivery commitments to Europe, the companies said.
17th May 2022 - FiercePharma

Sniffer dogs detect coronavirus as effectively as PCR tests

Airport sniffer dogs are highly adept at detecting the coronavirus, according to the first published results from a trial in Finland. Researchers said that in future pandemics dogs could be used “as the sole testing method when other approaches are not yet available”. A team of dogs at an airport in Helsinki were able to match the results of PCR tests 98 per cent of the time. The team behind the study, published in the online journal BMJ Global Health, said it showed sniffer dogs could “provide a valuable tool to contain the pandemic”.
17th May 2022 - The Times

North Korean planes pick up medical supplies in China, media report

North Korea has sent aircraft to China to pick up medical supplies days after it confirmed its first COVID-19 outbreak, media reported on Tuesday. In some of its first international flights since the coronavirus pandemic began more than two years ago, three Air Koryo planes from North Korea flew to the Chinese city of Shenyang on Monday, and flew back with medical supplies later in the day, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing unidentified sources.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

Beijing's retail, industry upended by COVID restrictions

The economy of China's capital Beijing took a hit in April as authorities wrestled with a new COVID outbreak, telling residents to avoid going out or work from home and halting many businesses. Retail sales in the city of nearly 22 million people, a key gauge of consumption, shrank 16.05% in April from a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on January-April data released by the city's statistics bureau on Tuesday, outpacing the nation's 11.1% contraction.
17th May 2022 - Reuters


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Jersey's digital Covid vaccine certificates to show more doses and last longer

Jersey's digital Covid vaccine certificates have been upgraded. They will now show up to five doses rather than three and last for six months instead of one. The display has also been simplified for travel purposes to only include a single QR code showing the most recent vaccine.
16th May 2022 - ITV News

Tesla delays plan to restore Shanghai output to pre-lockdown levels

Tesla Inc has delayed a plan to restore production at its Shanghai plant to levels before the city's COVID-19 lockdown by at least a week, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. The U.S. electric car maker originally aimed to increase output at its Shanghai plant to 2,600 cars a day from May 16, Reuters reported earlier this month citing another memo. But the latest memo said that it plans to stick to one shift for its Shanghai plant for the current week with a daily output of around 1,200 units. It also said that it would now aim to increase output to 2,600 units per day from May 23.
16th May 2022 - Reuters

Omicron Is Turning Out to Be a Weak Vaccine

With each new variant, that period of protection keeps getting shorter. In the past few weeks, studies out of South Africa, the US, and China have revealed that Omicron subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 are alarmingly good at escaping immunity from a previous Omicron infection. In practical terms, this means that for the large swath of the US population that was first infected with Covid over the winter, the post-infection honeymoon may be over. Those people might wonder how safe it is to travel, attend large gatherings and have dinner with vulnerable friends and relatives. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. “People want it to be, ‘Am I safe or not?,’” says Abraar Karan, an epidemiologist at Stanford University. But risk is a continuum.
16th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Dalian iron ore rebounds on supply woes, easing of China COVID curbs

Chinese iron ore futures rose on Monday, supported by supply concerns and shrinking portside inventories of the steelmaking ingredient, while the easing of some COVID-19 curbs in the world's top steel producer also lifted trader sentiment. The most-traded September iron ore contract on China's Dalian Commodity Exchange ended daytime trade 3.9% higher at 834.50 yuan ($122.80) a tonne, after posting its biggest weekly loss in nearly three months on Friday.
16th May 2022 - Reuters

North Korea Covid Surge Accelerates as Unvaccinated Population Keeps Working

North Korea reported its biggest daily surge in fever cases during a nationwide outbreak of Covid-19 but didn’t respond to a South Korean offer of vaccines even as the North’s leader Kim Jong Un berated officials for failing to contain the disease. At the inter-Korean border, people could be seen walking around villages on the northern side Monday without face masks and working in groups in fields during the rice planting season, showing how unvaccinated North Korea is far from a strict lockdown that some nations have used to stop the spread of Covid.
16th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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The Next Big COVID-Vaccine Gamble

Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, the spring weather’s just barely warming, but regulators in the United States are already wringing their hands over a tricksy fall brew: the contents of the COVID shot that vaccine makers are prepping for autumn, when all eligible Americans may be asked to dose up yet again (if, that is, Congress coughs up the money to actually buy the vaccines). In a recent advisory meeting convened by the FDA, Peter Marks, the director of the agency’s Center of Biologics Evaluation and Research, acknowledged the “very compressed time frame” in which experts will need to finalize the inoculation’s ingredients—probably, he said, by the end of June. Which is, for the record, right around the corner. A big choice is looming. And whatever version of the virus that scientists select for America’s next jab is “probably going to be the wrong one,” says Allie Greaney, who studies the push and pull between viruses and the immune system at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
13th May 2022 - The Atlantic

1000 people could be in hospital with Covid-19 daily during winter peak – Govt

Thousands of people could be hospitalised with respiratory illnesses daily over winter, including more than 1000 at a time with Covid-19 at what could potentially be a “quite high” peak, the Government is warning. On Friday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield outlined modelling around planning for winter. It was expected Aotearoa would see a resurgence of Covid-19, alongside influenza and RSV outbreaks. New data showed while the Southern region was seeing the highest number of cases per 1000 people (particularly in Canterbury and Dunedin) and the seven-day rolling average remains steady overall, case numbers were “creeping up again” in Auckland.
13th May 2022 - Stuff.co.nz

Generic drugmakers to sell Pfizer's Paxlovid for $25 or less in low-income countries

Several generic drugmakers that will produce versions of Pfizer's (PFE.N) COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid have agreed to sell the medicine in low- and middle-income countries for $25 a course or less, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) said on Thursday. CHAI said it could not disclose the names of the manufacturers who have agreed to the price ceiling, because they are still in the early stage of product development and have not received regulatory approval.
13th May 2022 - Reuters


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Number of Covid-19 hospital patients in England lowest since Christmas

The number of people with Covid-19 in hospital in England has fallen to its lowest level since last Christmas, new figures show. A total of 7,034 patients were in hospital as of 8am on May 11, down 21% week-on-week, according to NHS England. This is the lowest figure since December 21 2021, when it stood at 6,902. It was in late December that patient numbers started to rise sharply, driven by the spread of the original Omicron variant of coronavirus. They peaked at 17,120 on January 10 2022, then fell back – only to rise again due to the subsequent wave of infections caused by Omicron BA.2, hitting a slightly lower peak of 16,600 on April 7. Numbers have been dropping for the past month, with all regions of England now showing a steady decline. In south-east England, they have fallen to levels last seen in mid-October 2021. The trend reflects the large drop in the prevalence of the virus in recent weeks, as reported by the Office for National Statistics in its regular infection survey.
12th May 2022 - Wales Online

WHO: COVID-19 falling everywhere, except Americas and Africa

The number of new coronavirus cases reported worldwide has continued to fall except in the Americas and Africa, the World Health Organization said in its latest assessment of the pandemic. The decline comes as Europe marked a COVID-19 death milestone: 2 million on the continent. In its weekly pandemic report released late Tuesday, the U.N. health agency said about 3.5 million new cases and more than 25,000 deaths were reported globally, which respectively represent decreases of 12% and 25%.
12th May 2022 - The Associated Press

South African firm says it may close its COVID vaccine plant

The first factory to produce COVID-19 vaccines in Africa says it has not received enough orders and may stop production within weeks, in what a senior World Health Organization official described Thursday as a “failure” in efforts to achieve vaccine equity. South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare said that it cannot let its large-scale sterile manufacturing facilities sit idle, and will return instead to making anesthetics. At the outset of the COVID pandemic, the company shifted its production and achieved capacity to produce more than 200 million doses annually of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “It was widely hailed as a great achievement for Africa, a game-changer for the continent. But it has not been followed up with orders. We have not received any orders from the big multilateral agencies,” Stavros Nicolaou, senior executive for strategic trade development at Aspen Pharmacare, told The Associated Press Thursday.
12th May 2022 - The Associated Press


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Africa's COVID vaccine production line in jeopardy

A year ago, South Africa celebrated the opening of the continent's first COVID-19 vaccine production line. Now it's at risk of being shut down due to low demand. About 40% of adult South Africans are fully vaccinated. On the whole continent, just 15%. The World Health Organization has set a target of 70% coverage for all countries by June 2022. So far, only Mauritius and Seychelles reached that number in Africa. Most countries will likely miss it.
11th May 2022 - DW (English)

Emergent destroyed up to 400M COVID-19 vaccines, far more than previously known: report

Emergent's manufacturing setbacks forced the company to toss vaccine materials equivalent to nearly 400 million doses, according to a Tuesday report from the House of Representatives' Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. That's much more than the 85 million doses the company and U.S. officials previously disclosed, The Wall Street Journal reports. The report says Emergent had to toss 240 million doses in late 2020 and early 2021—before its COVID vaccine production issues became public knowledge. After Emergent's production pause in April 2021 through July 2021, the company tossed another 90 million doses. Expirations have forced the company to discard another 60 million doses, the report says.
11th May 2022 - FiercePharma

How China's lockdowns are taking a toll on global companies

International brands are revealing the damage to their bottom lines from China's "zero Covid" policy, where tens of millions of people remain in lockdown and almost every major business has been disrupted. In recent weeks, dozens of mainland Chinese cities, including the financial hub of Shanghai, have been locked down as authorities work to stamp out the coronavirus. For industries ranging from Big Tech to consumer goods, that's destroying both supply and demand — and giving executives another major headache. Many companies had just run up millions, or billions, of dollars in losses due to the war in Ukraine, which led to a massive — and costly — corporate exodus from Russia.
11th May 2022 - CNN

Untapped Global Vaccine Stash Raises Risks of New Covid Variants

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. Shots that were once rare are now piling up and even expiring, a problem on the agenda of a second global Covid-19 summit the US is co-hosting on Thursday. President Joe Biden kicked off the first summit eight months ago by announcing the US would donate another 500 million doses to the international vaccination campaign, nearly doubling its total pledge. But now, vaccine makers are idling production or face shutdowns as demand for shots wanes, even with the world still far from a target of inoculating 70% of humanity. Republicans in Congress have so far blocked additional funding for the US and international vaccination campaigns.
11th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Lucid CEO concerned about chip supplies from China due to COVID-19

The chief executive of Lucid Group Inc on Wednesday expressed concern about chip supplies from China due to COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns, adding that the U.S. electric vehicle startup is taking measures to mitigate the impact. "My biggest concern probably is semiconductors from China and the impact of COVID in that part of the world," Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson said at a conference held by the Financial Times.
11th May 2022 - Reuters

Telehealth aims to crack open Paxlovid’s prescription bottleneck

After months of shortages, pharmacies across the United States are being stocked with drugs to treat Covid-19. Now, the bottleneck has shifted to getting a prescription — and patients and public health agencies are looking to telehealth for help. Last week, Massachusetts launched free televisits for state residents who have tested positive for Covid-19, including home delivery of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s oral antiviral, if prescribed. New York City has filled more than 16,000 courses of the drug through its home delivery program, 2,100 of which started with a free telehealth visit with NYC Health + Hospitals. And a growing number of virtual care companies are promoting televisits as a first-line resource for patients who have tested positive, advertising against Google searches for “Paxlovid” and partnering with testing companies that route patients to their providers.
10th May 2022 - STAT News


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Employers requiring job applicants to have a Covid-19 vaccine is declining, study finds

The share of job ads that require candidates to have a Covid-19 vaccine seems to be on the decline. About 6.7% of U.S. job listings cited vaccination as a necessity for applicants as of April 29, according to a new analysis by AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed, a job site. The share has slowly fallen since March 12, when it touched a pandemic-era peak of 7.1%.
10th May 2022 - CNBC

South Africa Cuts Back Covid Vaccine Drive Amid Citizen Apathy

South Africa is scaling back its Covid-19 vaccination drive and may have to destroy doses because of a lack of demand from citizens even as the country heads into a fifth wave of infections. Take up has slowed to the point where keeping some sites running is unaffordable, said Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general at the department of health and the person in charge of the program. Covid-19 vaccinations will need to be incorporated into South Africa’s standard medical programs, which means these specific shots will be less accessible, he said.
10th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Why a Covid Vaccine Mandate for N.Y.C. Schoolchildren Is Unlikely Soon

Teachers at New York City public schools are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Children involved in after-school activities that have a higher risk of spreading the virus — including many sports, as well as chorus and band — must be vaccinated, too. But while New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul have both said they support making Covid vaccination for all public school children mandatory, that does not necessarily mean it is happening soon. Momentum on the issue, both in New York and across the country, has stalled, lawmakers and experts say. In part, this is because the F.D.A. has not yet granted full approval to a Covid-19 vaccine for children under 16. Another problem is the disappointing efficacy of the current Pfizer vaccine against preventing infection in children under 12. (The F.D.A. has granted emergency authorization for children 5 to 16.)
10th May 2022 - The New York Times

Emergent Hid Evidence of Covid Vaccine Problems at Plant, Report Says

Emergent BioSolutions, a longtime government contractor hired to produce hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses, hid evidence of quality control problems from Food and Drug Administration inspectors in February 2021 — six weeks before it alerted federal officials that 15 million doses had been contaminated. The disclosure came in a report released Tuesday by House Democrats, who said that all told, nearly 400 million doses of coronavirus vaccine manufactured by Emergent had to be destroyed “due to poor quality control.” Previous estimates of lost vaccine were far lower; no contaminated doses were ever released to the public. The report, issued jointly by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, is the product of an investigation that began last year, after The New York Times documented months of problems at Emergent’s troubled Bayview plant in Baltimore.
10th May 2022 - The New York Times

High-risk COVID-19 patients can now get two antiviral prescription drugs — but some are still missing out

For Australians at high risk of developing severe COVID-19, getting access to potentially lifesaving treatment recently became easier — but experts say some are still missing out. On May 1, COVID-19 antiviral drug Paxlovid — the most effective oral treatment to date — was listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which means it can now be prescribed by a GP or nurse and dispensed at a community pharmacy. It's the second antiviral drug to be listed on the PBS for people at high risk of severe COVID-19, following the addition of molnupiravir (also known as "Lagevrio") back in March.
10th May 2022 - ABC.Net.au


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Pandemic pushes Spanish workers out of the shadows

For decades, a cash-filled envelope - or "sobre" - was how hundreds of thousands of Spaniards working without legal contracts in tourism, agriculture or construction collected their salaries. COVID-19, however, may finally be putting paid to the "sobre", economic data and workers' experiences suggest - accelerating a six-year-long crackdown in Spain on the shadow economy and providing a welcome boost to the country's public finances.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

Aptiv Shanghai plant suspends some shipments after COVID cases - sources

Aptiv stopped shipping over the weekend some parts from a Shanghai plant that supplies Tesla Inc and General Motors Co after COVID-19 infections were found among its workers, two people familiar with the matter said on Monday. The suspension of shipments from Aptiv could represent a setback to Tesla, which had planned to bring output in Shanghai back to the levels before the city locked down to control a wave of infections and forced a shutdown through much of April.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

China's April exports slow, imports unchanged amid expanding virus curbs

Article reports that China's export growth slowed to single digits, the weakest in almost two years, while imports barely changed in April as tighter and wider COVID-19 curbs halted factory production and crimped domestic demand, adding to wider economic woes. Exports in dollar terms grew 3.9% in April from a year earlier, dropping sharply from the 14.7% growth reported in March although slightly better than analysts' forecast of 3.2%. It was the slowest pace since June 2020. Imports were broadly stable year-on-year, improving slightly from a 0.1% fall in March and a bit better than the 3.0% contraction tipped by the Reuters poll.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 guidance changes announced for universities and colleges

The Welsh Government has formally removed the Infection Control Framework for Higher and Further Education institutions from today. The change will bring higher and further education into line with the wider public health guidance followed by businesses, employers and event organisers. The advice covers control measures that could be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of the most common communicable diseases, including Coronavirus, flu and norovirus.
9th May 2022 - Wales 247

Chaos at Apple supplier shows strains of Shanghai COVID lockdown

Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City would seem like an ideal site to implement China's "closed-loop" management system to prevent the spread of COVID that requires staff to live and work on-site in a secure bubble. Sprawled over land the size of 20 football fields, the campus houses factories, living quarters for 40,000 workers, some living 12 per room, and even a supermarket. But as COVID-19 breeched Quanta's defences, the system broke down into chaos. Videos posted online showed more than a hundred Quanta workers physically overwhelming security guards in hazmat suits and vaulting over factory gates to escape being trapped inside the factory amid rumours that workers on the floor that day tested positive for COVID.
9th May 2022 - Reuters


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Wisconsin is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and cases

The state is experiencing an uptick in new reported deaths, hospitalizations and cases as new data analysis shows that this is not just a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The pandemic’s toll is no longer falling almost exclusively on those who chose not to or could not get shots, a Washington Post analysis that was published late last month found. During the omicron variant surge, the vaccinated made up 42% of deaths in January and February, compared with 23% of the dead in September, the peak of the delta wave, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
8th May 2022 - Yahoo

Pent-up demand prompts European travel recovery as COVID curbs ease

"There is a lot of pent-up demand. People want to see their families and travel again," said Phil Seymour, president of IBA Group, a UK-based consultancy and aircraft valuation firm. That echoes soaring domestic demand in the United States. "The big overlay is that air travel demand is back and it is back in a massive way," Sean Egan, Chief Executive of the Egan-Jones Ratings Company, told the Airfinance Journal conference. Challenges remain in the form of rising costs and staff shortages causing flights to be cancelled. Some airlines have promised more than they can deliver this summer, delegates warned.
8th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid in Africa: Why the continent's only vaccine plant is struggling

Some experts blame concerns over the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccines for the slow uptake in many African countries. However others argue that after struggling to get vaccines, Africa experienced a glut of supply which was difficult to use in the required time,
7th May 2022 - BBC News

Universities Have Returned in Person, But Some Disabled Students Don't Want to Go Back

Mya Pol said it takes her about 30 minutes to get from her dorm at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to her communications class. The trip across campus would take most of her peers less than half that time, she said. Ms. Pol, a 21-year-old senior communications major, uses a wheelchair. She said that every day she wonders how different her college experience would have been if she could have attended classes remotely, as she has during most of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Disabled people have been asking for remote access to work and education forever,” Ms. Pol said. “That sprung up pretty quickly with Covid and was fantastic. It created a lot more access for individuals who couldn’t make the class.”
7th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

War in Europe and China’s Battle With Covid Boost U.S.’s Business Appeal

European businesses are stepping up U.S. investment as executives search for growth and stability amid turbulence caused by the war in Ukraine and tough Covid-19 lockdowns in China. The U.S. economy has emerged strong from the pandemic, while Europe’s recovery prospects have been cast into doubt by the Ukraine war. Plus Beijing's stringent zero-Covid policy and regulatory crackdowns on technology companies and debt problems at large real estate businesses have raised questions about its commitment to economic growth. Exposure to the Chinese market has provided enormous growth and profits for European companies over the past decades. Few European executives are considering a wholesale withdrawal from China, but as its economy creaks, businesses are rethinking their investment strategies.
7th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Travel industry, airlines urge end to COVID testing to enter U.S.

Major U.S. airlines, business and travel groups and other companies urged the White House on Thursday to abandon COVID-19 pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated international passengers traveling to the United States. "Given the slow economic recovery of the business and international travel sectors, and in light of medical advancements and the improved public health metrics in the U.S., we encourage you to immediately remove the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated air travelers," said the letter signed by American Airlines, Carnival Corp, Marriott International, Walt Disney Co's Disney Parks, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Travel Association and others.
5th May 2022 - Reuters

Spain's tourist arrivals jump 8-fold in March, edge toward pre-COVID levels

Spain received 4 million tourists in March, more than eight times as many as in the same month last year, after most pandemic-related restrictions were lifted, data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) showed on Thursday. Foreign tourists spent 5.07 billion euros ($5.37 billion) while on holiday in the country in March, up from a mere 544 million euros a year earlier, the data showed. "Spain closes this first quarter with good data on arrivals and tourist spending, a trend that we hope will intensify in the summer period," Tourist Minister Reyes Maroto said on her Twitter account.
5th May 2022 - Reuters.com

COVID-hit Beijing returns to work after subdued Labour Day break

Beijing residents tentatively returned to work on Thursday after a muted five-day Labour Day holiday devoid of the usual trips across the country or lavish family dinners, as China pledged to fight any criticism of its uncompromising "zero-COVID" policy. The long break is usually one of the most lucrative times of the year for restaurants, hotels and other businesses in China. This year, travellers spent 43% less than in 2021, data showed on Thursday
5th May 2022 - Reuters.com

S.Africa's Aspen to slash COVID vaccine capacity within 6 weeks if no orders - CEO

Aspen Pharmacare will switch about half of its COVID-19 vaccine production capacity onto other products if demand doesn't pick up within six weeks, its CEO warned, as South Africa's president and health officials urged more Africans to take up the shots. Aspen completed a deal in March to package, sell and distribute Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine in what was considered a game-changing moment for an under-vaccinated continent frustrated by sluggish Western handouts.
5th May 2022 - Reuters.com


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China's Big Pledges Set to Test Covid-Weary Markets in Reopening

Article reports that Chinese markets will return to action Thursday after a three-day break, putting to test whether Beijing has done enough to convince investors that strict Covid lockdowns won’t hamper efforts to boost economic growth and pledges to go gentle on Big Tech are genuine. Stocks may come under pressure following losses in Hong Kong shares earlier this week, a reversal of Friday’s rally after Chinese leaders vowed to spur a faltering economy and signaled a softening stance toward private enterprise. Economic pessimism means the yuan will likely continue to struggle and bonds may be supported, although the outcome of a key Federal Reserve meeting Wednesday also will help shape their directions.
4th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Siouxsie Wiles - what we know about BA.4 and BA.5 variants

BA.4 and BA.5 are responsible for a new wave of Covid-19 cases in South Africa. At least one of them has arrived on our shores. So what does the science tell us about these new Omicron variants? While most countries are winding down their testing and sequencing efforts, South Africa has been doing an absolutely stellar job of detecting new Covid-19 virus variants. It was the country that first identified the three original Omicron lineages (BA.1, BA.2, and BA.3) back in November last year. Once other countries started to look, they found Omicron everywhere. BA.1 started the initial global Omicron wave, followed by the more infectious BA.2. In South Africa they only had one large BA.1 wave. Here in New Zealand, BA.1 and BA.2 arrived and seeded into the community very close together, so we had both at the same time – though BA.2 became the dominant lineage. BA.3 never really took off anywhere.
4th May 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Taiwan's Foxconn says no change to production in China's COVID-hit Zhengzhou

Major Taiwanese Apple Inc supplier Foxconn said on Wednesday that it is continuing production in China's Zhengzhou, which announced on Tuesday it would impose new COVID-19-related movement curbs for May 4-10. "Our park has maintained production unchanged," it said in a statement, referring to the industrial area where its facilities are located in the central Chinese city.
4th May 2022 - Reuters


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Beijing 'preparing 1000-bed hospital for new Covid spike'

Beijing is preparing thousands of hospital beds to deal with a spike in Covid-19 cases, according to local reports. A 1,000-bed hospital at Xiaotangshan in the northeastern suburbs, built for the 2003 Sars outbreak, has been refurbished in case it is needed,
4th May 2022 - The Independent

ACT to drop COVID-19 vaccine mandates for healthcare workers, teachers in Canberra

Workers in healthcare and education settings across Canberra will soon no longer be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the ACT Health Minister has announced. Speaking in the ACT Legislative Assembly, Rachel Stephen-Smith flagged the changes would come into place on May 13, and would no longer require healthcare workers or teachers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. She said the move was based on advice provided by Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman. But Ms Stephen-Smith said the mandatory vaccination requirements would still remain in place for workers in aged care and disability settings.
3rd May 2022 - ABC.Net.au


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New York City Raises Covid-19 Alert Level to 'Medium' as Case Numbers Rise

The recent uptick in Covid cases across New York City has prompted increased caution from the city. The city has moved to a “medium” alert level from “low” as new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days has surpassed 200. The latest figure of 209.02 cases per 100,000 is the highest since early February. New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan and Mayor Eric Adams said they’ve seen an increase in hospitalizations from the latest wave. At an unrelated press conference on Monday, they repeated calls for vaccinations, boosters, indoor masking to help the city curb the rise in virus cases.
2nd May 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid Testing Stations to Disappear in Oslo as City Moves On

Norway’s capital is gradually closing its municipal testing stations as it removes a general recommendation for the city’s residents to test for Covid-19. May 9 will be the last day that people can test at the public stations, the Oslo municipality said in a statement on its website. People wishing to get checked before traveling internationally will need to use private providers, it said. Norway ranked first for a second month in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking in April. The Nordic nation is among a growing group that no longer have Covid-related travel curbs in place, and has even scrapped a requirement to self-isolate after a positive result.
2nd May 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID threatens new U.S. Senate delays for Biden's Fed, FTC nominees

An effort by U.S. Senate Democrats to move forward on President Joe Biden's nominees for the Federal Reserve and Federal Trade Commission appeared headed for a second week of delay on Monday, after another Democratic lawmaker tested positive for COVID-19. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado said on Twitter that he tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 on Sunday, adding that he would quarantine at home in Denver for the week. "I'm experiencing minor, cold-like symptoms and plan to work virtually," Bennet said.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

South Africa's Aspen COVID-19 vaccine plant risks closure after no orders, executive says

Africa's first COVID-19 vaccination plant, touted last year as a trailblazer for an under-vaccinated continent frustrated by sluggish Western handouts, risks shutting down after receiving not a single order, a company executive said on Saturday. South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare negotiated a licensing deal in November to package and sell Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine and distribute it across Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) called the deal a "transformative moment" in the drive towards levelling stark inequalities in access to COVID vaccines.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

China Contagion Threatens to Derail the World’s Emerging Markets

A widespread selloff in China is rippling through emerging markets, threatening to snuff out growth and drag down everything from stocks to currencies and bonds. Fresh Covid outbreaks -- and the government’s stringent policy to contain them -- are spooking global investors who fear shutdowns in China will echo across the world by lowering demand and disrupting supply chains. That’s pushing them to sell not just China’s currency, bonds and stocks but the assets of any developing nation which relies heavily on trade with the second-biggest economy. The result is the sharpest slide in emerging markets in two years, not unlike the meltdown in 2015 when China’s woes led to a rout in their bonds and currencies, besides wiping out $2 trillion from equity values. Since then, the country’s influence on the global economy has only grown: It’s now the largest buyer of commodities, meaning its slump may impact exporters of raw materials and their markets more than ever.
2nd May 2022 - Bloomberg

Chinese Omicron-specific mRNA COVID vaccine candidate to be trialed in UAE

China's Suzhou Abogen Biosciences Co said its COVID-19 vaccine candidate using the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology and targeting the Omicron variant has obtained clinical trial approval in the United Arab Emirates. With Friday's announcement, Abogen joins Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna in trialing candidates modified specifically against Omicron, a highly transmissible variant with increased resistance to antibodies elicited by existing shots.
1st May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai factories scramble to reopen as COVID lockdown lingers

Companies reopening factories in locked-down Shanghai are booking hotel rooms to house workers and turning vacant workshops into on-site isolation facilities as authorities urge them to resume work while complying with tough COVID-19 curbs. Hundreds of companies including multinationals Tesla and 3M have reopened factories in the Chinese economic hub under local guidelines requiring them to isolate workers inside a "closed-loop".
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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A fight over coronavirus safety at journalists' gala event

More than 2,000 journalists, celebrities and politicians, including President Biden, are set to descend on the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner this weekend in what is shaping up to be a major test of whether large gatherings can be safely held at this stage of the pandemic. Organizers say they are committed to holding an event that significantly reduces the risk of coronavirus infections, pointing to vaccine and testing requirements that were strengthened after a dinner hosted by Washington’s Gridiron Club this month was linked to at least 85 infections that sickened Cabinet members, reporters and other guests. Yet some White House officials and experts worry that those measures are insufficient and that this weekend’s events may become another high-profile superspreader event, said three administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue. Behind the scenes, one prominent coronavirus expert is scrapping with party organizers hesitant to install devices that disinfect the air using ultraviolet light because of concerns the devices might interfere with the program.
28th Apr 2022 - The Washington Post

Nearly 60,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits sold in 2 hours

Nearly 60,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits were sold in two hours across Taiwan as the government launched its rapid test kit rationing scheme on Thursday. As of 9 a.m. on Thursday, 59,214 test kits had been sold at 2,323 stores and health centers, Director-General of the National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) Lee Po-chang said.
28th Apr 2022 - Focus Taiwan News Channel


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U.S. to widen COVID antiviral pill distribution

Pfizer's COVID-19 pill Paxlovid is packaged in Ascoli. U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is aiming to expand access to COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments like Pfizer Inc's Paxlovid by doubling the number of locations at which they are available, the White House said on Tuesday. Pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program for distributing antiviral treatments will be able to order the free treatments directly from the U.S. government starting this week. Currently, pharmacies depend on states to obtain the pills. The government sends the treatments to select pharmacies, as well as directly to states and community centers. Under the current system, the treatments are available in around 20,000 locations. The administration expects to boost their direct distribution to more than 30,000 locations soon and reach 40,000 sites over the coming weeks, the White House said. "Treatments are really the next phase of this pandemic, where we have to make the treatments, these highly effective treatments, widely available," Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said in an interview on CNN. Demand for Paxlovid has been unexpectedly light due to complicated eligibility requirements, reduced COVID testing, and potential for drug interactions.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Satellite Data Show Extent of China's Crippling Lockdowns

Chinese port activity fell below levels seen during the first coronavirus outbreak in 2020 and construction has plummeted, satellite data show, suggesting official economic figures will likely worsen as Covid lockdowns spread. Satellite images are becoming an important real-time data tool to measure the impact of China’s worst coronavirus outbreak since 2020. Official numbers are released only monthly, and are increasingly coming under scrutiny as Beijing sticks to its ambitious growth target of about 5.5% even though its Covid Zero approach has forced major hubs like Shanghai to shut down. New York-based SpaceKnow, which tracks activity at more than 1,300 factories from space, said manufacturing output remained strong through the lockdowns in March and early April, although inventories are building up. That’s likely a sign of logistical snarls as coronavirus restrictions cause major disruptions and shortages of trucks able to move goods to ports and around the country.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


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China's Covid Crisis Threatens Global Supply Chain Chaos for Summer 2022

China’s stringent rules to curb Covid-19 are about to unleash another wave of summer chaos on supply chains between Asia, the U.S. and Europe. Beijing’s zero-tolerance approach amid an escalating virus outbreak brings the pandemic full circle, more than two years after its emergence in Wuhan upended the global economy. Shipping congestion at Chinese ports, combined with Russia’s war in Ukraine, risks a one-two punch that threatens to derail the recovery, already buffeted by inflation pressures and headwinds to growth. Even if the virus is reined in, the disruptions will ripple globally — and extend through the year — as bunched-up cargo vessels start sailing again.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


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World's Biggest Vaccine Maker Serum Halts Production Over Millions of Unused Doses

Serum Institute of India Ltd., the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and a key supplier of Covid-19 inoculations to developing countries, has stopped making fresh batches of shots after its stockpile grew to 200 million doses amid a global supply glut. “We have got 200 million doses of stock. We had to shut down production in December,” Serum’s chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla said at the India Economic Conclave organized by Times Network on Friday, saying he was worried about wastage if the shots expired. “I have even offered to give free donations to whoever wanted to take it.”
25th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection and related hospitalization

In the present study, the researchers estimated the effectiveness of two and three doses of COVID-19 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 Alpha, Delta, and Omicron variant infection and related hospitalization. The study population comprised Denmark residents aged 12 years or older in a time period where either the Alpha, Delta, or Omicron variants were dominant. The team included only the first SARS-CoV-2 positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test of a participant. They obtained information on all laboratory-confirmed positive reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) results from the Danish microbiology database (MiBa). COVID-19-related hospitalization was defined as a new hospital admission lasting at least 12 hours, occurring within two days prior to or 14 days after the diagnosis with either the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha, Delta, or Omicron variant infection.
25th Apr 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Covid-19 data reporting is becoming less frequent, making trends harder to track

Many states are scaling back on how often they report key Covid-19 statistics, a shift that some experts worry might hinder efforts to mitigate outbreaks and negative effects of the coronavirus. A year ago, all 50 states were reporting new Covid-19 cases on a daily basis. But that has gradually trailed off. This week, Pennsylvania will be the latest state to switch from daily to weekly updates, leaving just six states that will still be reporting new Covid-19 cases every day of the week. About half of states now report just once a week, with Florida down to every two weeks.
25th Apr 2022 - CNN

China Covid Shock Sees Beijing Consider Risky Debt Option Again

China has signaled a willingness to allow local governments to increase off-balance sheet debt again after a crackdown in recent years to bring it under control. The People’s Bank of China said last week that banks should meet the “reasonable funding needs” of local government financing vehicles, or LGFVs, and not “blindly” suspend or withdraw loans from the companies. The measures were one of 23 listed by the central bank to help boost lending and support industries battered by Covid outbreaks and lockdowns. While Beijing still remains committed to debt control, the economy’s slump is forcing policy makers to ease up on some restrictions. To bolster growth, local governments have been instructed to boost investment in infrastructure, but since they face a cash crunch because of a property market slump, many will need financial help from LGFVs.
25th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


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Beijing on alert after COVID-19 cases discovered in school

Beijing is on alert after 10 middle school students tested positive for COVID-19, in what city officials said was an initial round of testing. City officials suspended classes in the school for a week following the positive test results on Friday. The Chinese capital also reported four other confirmed cases that day that were counted separately. Mainland China reported 24,326 new community-transmitted infections on Saturday, with the vast majority of them asymptomatic cases in Shanghai, where enforcement of a strict “zero-COVID” strategy has drawn global attention. China has doubled down on the approach even in face of the highly transmissible omicron variant.
24th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

NYC Suspends School Staff for Allegedly Using Fake Vaccine IDs

The New York City Department of Education suspended about 70 employees for allegedly using fake vaccination cards, the teachers’ union said. The department placed the employees on unpaid leave with benefits, effective April 25, and the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District and law enforcement agencies are investigating the incident. “Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against Covid-19 – universal adult vaccination,” said Nathaniel Styer, a spokesperson for the DOE. It wasn’t immediately clear how the department discovered the alleged fake cards.
23rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


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A prolonged China slowdown raises risks for global economy, IMF chief says

A prolonged slowdown in China would have substantial global spillovers, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday, but added that Beijing has room to adjust policy to provide support. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its growth forecast for China this year to 4.4%, well below Beijing's target of around 5.5%, on the risks of widespread COVID-19 lockdowns and supply chain disruptions. In a video speech to the annual Boao Forum for Asia, Georgieva said China's actions to counter its economic slowdown are vital for the global recovery.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters

Aspen In Talks With African Leaders on Low Covid Vaccine Orders

Article reports that Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. is in talks with African leaders about how to raise demand for Covid-19 vaccines after the continent’s biggest drugmaker warned a lack of orders may force it to stop making the shots. Discussions are “underway and I assure you it’s been elevated to the highest level on the continent,” John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC, said at a briefing on Thursday. “I’m sure more details will be provided in coming days, once we have more details from Africa’s political leadership.” Nkengasong last week appealed to African countries to place orders with local manufacturers including Durban, South Africa-based Aspen, which makes doses on behalf of Johnson & Johnson and in March said it agreed to make the shots under its own brand.
21st Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Health bosses take action due to poor uptake of vaccine in young kids

Only 1.39% of children aged five to 11 in Northern Ireland have been vaccinated against Covid-19, health bosses have said. The Public Health Agency (PHA) has created a vaccination toolkit to support uptake as it said safety concerns may be a driving factor for the low uptake in youngsters here. The vaccine has been available to children deemed to be at risk from the virus and those who live with someone who is immunocompromised since December but was opened up to all five to 11 year olds in February.
21st Apr 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

After rejecting COVID rule, Arizona could lose oversight of workplace safety

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Wednesday moved to revoke Arizona's ability to police workplace safety within the state after it refused to adopt a federal rule requiring COVID-19 protections for healthcare workers. OSHA in a proposal published in the Federal Register said Arizona's failure to enforce the emergency COVID-19 rule last year was the latest in a decade-long series of instances where the state shirked its duty to adopt safety standards at least as strict as comparable federal requirements.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters.com


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Brazil meat exporters face hurdles shipping product via COVID-hit Shanghai -lobby group

Brazil's ABPA, a lobby group representing large pork and chicken processors like JBS SA and BRF SA, said on Wednesday its member companies are facing difficulties shipping products through the Port of Shanghai. The statement, sent in response to a question from Reuters about the effects of the COVID lockdown in the Chinese city, said cargoes are being redirected to other ports, such as Yantian. "There are no reports of suspension of sales," the statement said, referring to rumors about potential contract cancellations.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters

Awash in Covid Vaccines, Romania Faces Storage Headache

Romania is struggling to find storage for millions of Covid vaccine doses it hasn’t used, even as more are slated to arrive this year. More than two years into the pandemic, the country remains one of the European Union’s least vaccinated. Now the government is asking the EU for help and trying to sell or donate doses from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. to resolve a storage headache that’s set to worsen while avoiding wasting the shots. About 6.5 million doses delivered in January and February have been sold to Germany and Hungary, but another 39 million are scheduled to arrive this year and next, according to Health Minister Alexandru Rafila. One country was offered 1.1 million doses for free and has “yet to show interest in picking them up.”
20th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Hong Kong launches new platform for recovered Covid-19 patients

From April 19, people who've recovered from Covid-19 can now download a QR code issued by the government via the Covid-19 Electronic Vaccination and Testing Record System and use the electronic record when entering designated premises like restaurants, shopping malls, and supermarkets instead of the vaccine pass. The QR code is valid within six months from the date of recovery. Downloading the recovery record QR code will require recovered Covid-19 patients to provide the number and date of issue of their Hong Kong identity card, discharge date from the hospital, or positive test result for identification. The recovery QR code may also be downloaded using the iAM Smart app and the latest version of the eHealth app. Those who received isolation orders issued by the Department of Health (DH) will instantly get the recovery record QR code. The QR code may be saved in the LeaveHomeSafe mobile application to facilitate scanning when entering a Vaccine Pass premises.
20th Apr 2022 - Time Out

North Wales company to stop producing Covid-19 Vaccine

A pharmaceutical company that has helped in the production of the Covid-19 vaccine will 'right size' business as the wide-scale rollout comes to an end. Wockhardt, based on the Wrexham Industrial Estate, is a global pharmaceutical and biotechnology organisation that had a contract with the UK Government to help produce Covid- 19 vaccines during the mass roll-out. Now, the rollout is coming to an end, and the company will be scaling back the work, leading to job losses. A spokesperson for the company said: “Wockhardt is incredibly proud to have played a vital role in mitigating the global impact of COVID-19.
20th Apr 2022 - North Wales Chronicle

Taiwan firms in China hub make uneven restart from COVID curbs

Taiwan firms making chip and electronic components reported a mixed picture on Wednesday on work resumption in the eastern Chinese city of Kunshan after COVID-19 curbs, with some warning deliveries would be postponed until next month. China has put Shanghai under a tight lockdown since late March and neighbouring Kunshan has also tightened curbs to control the country's biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com

In Shanghai lockdown, Carrefour staff sleeps at store to keep residents supplied

To prepare the 3,000-plus orders of vegetables, meat and essentials her Carrefour supermarket sends out every day to locked-in Shanghai residents, manager Zhang Wei wakes at 5 a.m. after a night in a sleeping bag on her office floor. Zhang and 43 colleagues have been hunkered down inside the store in Shanghai's western Xujing suburb since April 1, isolated from the outside world while working long days to fill online orders from neighbouring housing compounds. Her Carrefour branch is one of more than 1,000 grocery stores open during Shanghai's lockdown, albeit under stringent requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The city government is trying to increase the number of stores open.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

IMF's Georgieva says China should stimulate consumption as lockdowns mount

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday that China should use fiscal space to stimulate consumption as it faces an economic slowdown prompted by renewed COVID-19 lockdowns. Georgieva said that China had ample fiscal and monetary policy space to counteract this, but it would be better to stimulate consumption. "What we see in China is that consumption is falling short, it is not recovering as strongly as necessary," Georgieva told a news conference at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Analysis: Demand for Pfizer's COVID pills lags around the world

Worldwide demand for Pfizer's oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid has been unexpectedly light due to complicated eligibility requirements, reduced testing, and potential for drug interactions, a Reuters review of data and interviews with experts has found. Demand also has been hampered by the perception that Omicron infections are not that severe. Paxlovid was expected to be a major tool in the fight against COVID after it reduced hospitalizations or deaths in high-risk patients by around 90% in a clinical trial.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

J&J pulls COVID vaccine sales forecast due to low demand, supply glut

Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday rescinded its forecast for sales of its COVID-19 vaccine, as hesitancy in low income countries has led to a glut of supply of a shot once hoped to be the inoculation of choice for the developing world. The company had previously predicted as much as $3.5 billion in 2022 sales from the single-dose vaccine, but demand has withered. Still, the company reported strong results for its medical devices business and raised its dividend, driving shares up around 3%.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Taiwan faces tough choices as COVID-19 cases hit record levels

Last Tuesday, Taiwan’s health minister said the island could see 1,000 local COVID-19 cases a day by the end of the month. It hit that level just three days later, and must now choose between living with the virus like New Zealand or sticking with elimination strategies like in Hong Kong. Local cases hit a new record of 1,390 on Monday and have averaged 1,176 over the past five days. The surge rattled many of the island’s 23 million people, which has seen just 854 COVID-19 deaths from local infection over the entire pandemic. “The scale of the pandemic right now is very large,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said at a briefing Friday, adding Taiwan may one day see tens of thousands — or even millions — of cases. “The point is not about the case counts, but about whether we can prevent a disastrous impact.”
19th Apr 2022 - The Japan Times

Cairo's Ramadan street feasts return after coronavirus suspension

Communal meals in which hundreds of people pack around long tables to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan have returned to Egypt's streets after being widely suspended for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions. Egypt has been hit by successive waves of COVID-19 infections and imposed a nighttime curfew that coincided with Ramadan in 2020. Most restrictions have now been lifted.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Small Businesses Object to Rerouting of Covid-19 Aid

Small-business owners are bristling over a congressional proposal that would redirect unspent money from Covid-19 programs to provide $10 billion for the federal government’s pandemic health response, including vaccines and therapeutics. At issue is about $5 billion that Congress allocated for three small-business aid programs but which hasn’t yet been spent. Some lawmakers want to repurpose those existing funds for healthcare, rather than allocate new money, because they are increasingly focused on reining in the federal deficit and spending amid a surge in inflation, which is at a 40-year high. The debate underscores the struggle to fulfill requests made by the Biden administration to address pandemic needs, while also accommodating Republican demands to not spend new money.
18th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Australia's Pandemic-Era Ban on Cruise Ships Comes to an End

Australia’s two-year long ban on cruise ships expires on Sunday, another step toward the rehabilitation of tourism from the damage wrought by the pandemic. The ban on foreign cruise ships -- imposed in March 2020 after a Covid outbreak aboard the Ruby Princess spilled into Sydney once the vessel docked -- cost the Australian economy more than A$10 billion ($7.4 billion), the Cruise Lines International Association estimates. Operators “are preparing for a carefully managed resumption of operations in a sector that previously supported more than 18,000 Australian jobs,” the association said in a statement ahead of the ban’s expiry.
18th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Bangladesh, Nepal celebrate new years after pandemic pause

After a two-year break, thousands of people in Bangladesh and Nepal on Thursday celebrated their respective new years with colorful processions and musical soirees as the coronavirus pandemic eased and life swung back to normal. In Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, people clad in the traditional red attire ushered in the Bengali year 1429. They marched, sang and danced at a prominent arts college on the Dhaka University campus and in historic Ramna Park. Similar processions were organized in other parts of Dhaka and elsewhere in the country, but the celebration was subdued as the Muslim-majority Bangladesh was also observing the fasting month of Ramadan amid scorching heat.
15th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press


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Diversifying supply chains from China 'probably good for everyone' -World Bank chief

Countries around the world are working to diversify their supply chains and reduce their dependence on China, which is "probably good for everyone," World Bank President David Malpass said on Tuesday. Malpass said cross-border trade would remain important to the global economy, and China - already the world's second largest economy and likely to become the largest - had a big role to play as both a consumer and producer of goods. But, speaking at an event in Warsaw, he said China also needed to be part of a value system shared by other countries in the global trading system, and added, "I don't know that that will happen."
14th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Mexico plans vaccinations for more children, presses for COVAX doses

Mexico will vaccinate more children against COVID-19, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday, urging global health authorities to deliver the doses it had ordered for the purpose. Mexico last year began inoculating some at-risk children, and children with disabilities, but has so far held back from rolling out a broader vaccination program for minors. Lopez Obrador said he was awaiting doses under the COVAX program, run by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
14th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine available in the NT, as testing rules ease for those recovering from the virus

In Australia, a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is now available to eligible Territorians, Northern Territory Health Minister Natasha Fyles has announced. The dose is recommended as an extra booster shot for vulnerable people who are at greatest risk of severe illness from the coronavirus.
13th Apr 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Coronavirus: Pupil Covid absence rate falls to lowest level

In Northern Ireland, the number of school pupils absent due to Covid-19 has fallen to its lowest level of the 2021/22 school year. That is according to attendance data provided by schools and published by the Department of Education (DE). In the last full week before most schools broke up for Easter only 1 in every 200 pupils (0.5%) was off sick with Covid-19. However, pupil absences for other reasons are higher than they were pre-pandemic.
13th Apr 2022 - BBC News

How accurate are COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, and when is the best time to use them?

Rapid antigen tests, better known as RATs, have become an important tool in Australia's arsenal against COVID-19. While PCR tests are still available, many of us have turned to rapid tests out of convenience or as part of a requirement to return to work or school. RATs can provide results within minutes, but they also have their limitations: they're less accurate, cost money (unlike PCRs, which are free), and can provide false negative or false positive results.
13th Apr 2022 - ABC.Net.au

More Taiwan firms suspend production in China as COVID spreads

More than 30 Taiwan companies, many making electronics parts, said on Wednesday that government COVID-19 control measures in eastern China had led them to suspend production until at least next week, as disruption from the measures spreads. China has put Shanghai under a tight lockdown since late March and neighbouring Kunshan has also tightened curbs to control the country's biggest COVID-19 outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in late 2019 in the city of Wuhan. Global companies, from mobile phone to chip makers, are highly dependent on China and Southeast Asia for production and have been diversifying their supply chains after the pandemic caused havoc.
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Japan, US to exclude Russian COVID vaccines over Ukraine invasion

Japan and the United States are set to exclude Russian COVID-19 vaccines from a list of items subject to financial assistance when manufactured in developing countries, sources familiar with the plan said Tuesday. The move, which comes as Western nations step up sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, is especially aimed at dissuading India from fulfilling an agreement to produce Russian vaccines under the funding support scheme, the sources said. India has built close relations with Russia, including cooperation in the fields of energy and military technology. Japan and the United States are planning to gain India's understanding and make necessary arrangements ahead of a summit of the Quad nations, also involving Australia, according to the sources. Japan will host the summit, possibly in May.
12th Apr 2022 - Kyodo News Plus

U.S. Supreme Court to stop public access in April as COVID cases rise

The United States Supreme Court said on Monday it will stop allowing the public to attend courtroom sessions in person during the month of April as coronavirus cases rise in the District of Columbia. Despite infections remaining relatively flat nationwide, a number of high-profile political figures in Washington D.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 recently, including members of President Joe Biden's Cabinet and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Canada's Ontario in sixth COVID wave, hospitalizations likely to rise -official

Ontario is in the sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic driven by the highly transmissible BA.2 sub-variant of the Omicron coronavirus and hospitalizations are likely to rise over the coming weeks, the most populous Canadian province's top doctor said on Monday. "In the last few weeks we have seen an increase in the percent positivity and upward trend in wastewater surveillance and a rise in hospitalizations. These trends are likely to continue for the next several weeks," Ontario's chief medical officer Kieran Moore said at a briefing.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

French COVID-19 hospitalisations at a peak since early March

French health authorities said on Monday the number of patients hospitalised for COVID-19 over the past 24 hours jumped by 579 to 24,205, the highest level since March 1, as new cases are picking up again. On a week-on-week basis, daily COVID-19 infections have been rising again in the last three days after declining during the six previous days, prompting Health Minister Olivier Veran to say last week the current pandemic wave was past its peak. Most of the country's COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in early March.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

With aid to spend, schools look for students who need help

Schools across America are racing to make up for time they lost during the pandemic by budgeting billions of dollars for tutoring, summer camps and longer school days and trying to untangle which students need help most urgently after two years of disruptions. Many schools saw large numbers of students fall under the radar when learning went online for the pandemic. Many skipped class, tests and homework. Record numbers of families opted out of annual standardized tests, leaving some districts with little evidence of how students were doing in reading and math. Now districts are trying to address that lack of information by adding new tests, training teachers to spot learning gaps and exploring new ways to identify students who need help. In many districts, the findings are being used to guide the spending of billions of dollars in federal relief that’s meant to address learning loss and can be used in myriad ways.
12th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press


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Heathrow, Gatwick Flight Status: Dozens Canceled Over Staff Shortages

Dozens of UK flights were cancelled on Monday as airlines continue to struggle with staff shortages. British Airways axed at least 64 domestic or European flights to or from Heathrow. Affected UK routes were between the west London airport and Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newcastle. Among the international routes affected were services to and from Berlin, Dublin, Geneva, Paris and Stockholm. British Airways said passengers were given advanced warning of the cancellations.
11th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

China Banks Allow Shanghai Mortgage Delay as Covid Outbreak Worsens

China’s largest banks are allowing residents in Shanghai to delay their mortgage payments as part of the nation’s broader efforts to support the financial hub in its Covid fight. Lenders including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and Bank of Communications Co. are offering Shanghai clients a payment holiday on their mortgage loans for as long as three months. China Construction Bank Corp. allowed clients to delay their payment on both mortgage and consumer loans for up to 28 days while Bank of China Ltd. said any records of overdue payment due to the pandemic will be removed.
11th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Battery Giant CATL Isolates Workers to Avoid Covid Shutdown

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., the world’s biggest maker of electric-vehicle batteries, has implemented a so-called closed loop for workers at its main factory in China in a bid to avoid the kind of Covid-19 shutdowns hurting Tesla Inc. and Volkswagen AG. Workers will be shuttled between their dormitories and the factory in Ningde, where an outbreak of Covid cases has prompted the local government to tighten prevention and control measures, the company, better known as CATL, said in a statement Sunday. “To ensure market supply to the best of our capabilities, we have adopted strict grid management measures for the orderly operation of the Ningde production base,” the company said.
11th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19: Hospital and ambulance services struggle with huge demand and staff illness

Hospitals and ambulance services in England are facing “extreme pressures” and a high volume of staff absences, forcing some to declare critical incidents and others to warn of 12 hour waits for patients in hospital emergency departments. Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital and South Central Ambulance Service both declared critical incidents on 6 April, with the hospital warning, “Our beds are full and our emergency department remains full with patients requiring admission . . . We are only able to treat patients with life threatening conditions and injuries.”1 The ambulance service reported a “large volume of calls being received throughout the day and into the night and increased challenges in releasing some of our ambulances from busy acute hospitals
11th Apr 2022 - The BMJ

GM develops continuity plan amid China's COVID-19 outbreak

General Motors Co said it has developed a global continuity plan with its partners and suppliers to mitigate the uncertainty faced by the auto industry following China's COVID-19 outbreak. The Detroit-based automaker said it was on track to launch more than 20 new and refreshed models in the world's biggest auto market despite the pandemic's impact. The COVID-19 curbs introduced in China to fight the worst outbreak in two years caused auto sales in the country to plunge in March, with automakers like Tesla Inc feeling the pain of limits on production.
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Germany may have to junk 3 million COVID shots by late June

Germany’s health ministry said that the country may have to discard 3 million doses of expired COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June. Ministry spokesman Hanno Kautz told reporters in Berlin that “not many doses” have been destroyed so far, though he couldn’t give an exact figure. But Kautz said that “we have more vaccine available at the moment than is being used and than we can donate.” He added that the U.N.-backed program to distribute shots to poorer countries, COVAX, isn’t currently accepting donations.
11th Apr 2022 - Associated Press

India extends COVID-19 boosters to all adults; some must pay

India began offering booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults on Sunday but limited free shots at government centers to front-line workers and people over age 60. The doses, which India is calling a “precautionary” shot instead of a booster, are available to people nine months after they receive their second jab, the Health Ministry said in a statement Friday. Those outside the two priority categories will need to pay for the shots at privately run facilities, the ministry said.
11th Apr 2022 - Associated Press


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China’s Covid Lockdowns Hit Supplies to Companies Like Apple and Tesla

Manufacturers are struggling to keep some of their China operations going as extended and widening Covid-19 lockdowns choke off supplies and clog up truck routes and ports, heaping more pressure on the stretched global supply chain. Stringent government measures to contain the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, the worst in more than two years, are locking down tens of millions of people, mostly in and around the industrial heartland of Shanghai. The curbs are keeping many workers at home, restricting output at some factories and closing others, including component makers for Apple Inc. and Tesla Inc. Tesla, which suspended work at its factory in Shanghai on March 28, still hasn’t set a date for restarting production, according to people familiar with the matter. The electric-vehicle giant said it is implementing Covid-19 control requirements and setting work arrangements according to government policies.
9th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid Could Be Surging in the U.S. Right Now and We Might Not Even Know It

The rise of Covid cases in some regions of the U.S., just as testing efforts wane, has raised the specter that the next major wave of the virus may be difficult to detect. In fact, the country could be in the midst of a surge right now and we might not even know it. Testing and viral sequencing are critical to responding quickly to new outbreaks of Covid. And yet, as the country tries to move on from the pandemic, demand for lab-based testing has declined and federal funding priorities have shifted. The change has forced some testing centers to shutter while others have hiked up prices in response to the end of government-subsidized testing programs. People are increasingly relying on at-home rapid tests if they decide to test at all. But those results are rarely reported, giving public health officials little insight into how widespread the virus truly is.
10th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID: Vulnerable coronavirus patients getting at-home treatment which improves symptoms 'within hours'

More than 32,000 vulnerable COVID patients in England have been treated with "cutting-edge" antiviral drugs which improve symptoms "within hours", the NHS has said. The health service has procured nearly five million doses of Pfizer's Paxlovid and other antivirals, such as Molnupiravir, via a deal struck by the government. Paxlovid was found in trials to cut coronavirus hospital admissions and deaths by 88% and has been given to more than 6,000 patients already - 1,400 in the last seven days alone. Molnupiravir, which clinical trials suggest reduces the risk of hospital admission or death by 30%, was approved in November 2021 and has been used as an at-home treatment since December.
9th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Saudi Arabia expands Haj to 1 mln pilgrims, easing COVID curbs

Saudi Arabia will let up to 1 million people join the Haj pilgrimage this year, greatly expanding the key event to participants from outside the kingdom after two years of tight COVID restrictions, state media said on Saturday. Pilgrims to Mecca this year must be under age 65 and fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a statement carried by the SPA news agency. Participants from abroad will be allowed this year but must present a recent negative COVID PCR test, and health precautions will be observed, it said.
9th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19 health workers suffer combat-type moral trauma

A Duke University study shows that, amid COVID-19, US healthcare workers (HCWs) had similar rates of potential moral injury (PMI)—a type of trauma-induced wound to the psyche—as military combat veterans. The study, published yesterday in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, surveyed 2,099 HCWs in 2020 and 2021 and 618 military veterans deployed to a combat zone after the Sep 11, 2001, US terrorist attacks about PMIs they may have experienced. PMI is a distressing reaction to exposure to traumatic events that may have psychological, behavioral, social, and spiritual effects.
6th Apr 2022 - CIDRAP

Shanghai Racing to Build Hundreds of Thousands of Isolation Beds

Shanghai is transforming conference centers and conscripting neighboring provinces to create isolation facilities for hundreds of thousands of people, a sign of its commitment to a zero tolerance approach to Covid-19 amid China’s worst outbreak to date. The Chinese financial hub is adding tens of thousands of beds to what are already some of the world’s biggest isolation sites as it sticks to a policy of quarantining all those positive for the virus, regardless of severity, plus everyone they interacted with while infected. Nearly 150,000 people have been identified as close contacts and put into isolation. More than 100,000 others are considered secondary contacts and are being monitored, according to the government. It’s a strategy that grew out of the original outbreak in Wuhan, which China successfully quelled, but is proving more challenging to maintain in the face of ongoing outbreaks and more transmissible variants.
8th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

French hospital system not in danger as current COVID-19 wave reached peak - Veran

The current COVID-19 wave hitting France has now reached its peak, which means the country's hospital system is not in danger, Health Minister Olivier Veran said in an interview with RTL radio on Thursday. "We are still at a high level, with 150,000 new cases per day, but the trend is going down since five days," Veran said.
7th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Cyprus to lift COVID-19 travel conditions from April 18

Cyprus will lift COVID-19 conditions for travel to the island from April 18, authorities said on Thursday, ending two years of rules imposed by the pandemic. The island said it was scrapping a colour-coded assessment of other countries based on epidemiological risk, an inbound flight permission to travel and PCR or rapid lateral flow tests for those who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. People who have not been vaccinated, or not completed their booster shots would still need a PCR test or a lateral flow test, the transport ministry said
7th Apr 2022 - Reuters

NHS under huge strain as A&Es turn away ambulances

Hospitals are under "enormous strain", with growing numbers so busy they are having to divert ambulances to other sites because they are unable to cope. Over the past week, 20 NHS Accident and Emergency departments in England issued diverts, with patients taken elsewhere. Those A&E departments still taking new patients have seen long delays, with more than 25% of ambulances waiting at least 30 minutes to handover patients. Hospital bosses said they were "very concerned" about the situation. All areas of the country are facing huge pressures, but NHS bosses in West Yorkshire and the south central area of England - covering Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire and Berkshire - have reported particularly severe strain.
7th Apr 2022 - BBC News


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Sanctioned Oil Piling Up Off China as Virus Outbreak Worsens

Tankers carrying 22 million barrels of Russian, Iranian and Venezuelan oil are piling up off China, according to Kpler, as the country battles a virus outbreak that’s sapping demand and causing logistics problems. China has been one of the only buyers of sanctioned Iranian and Venezuelan oil over the last few years. The world’s largest crude importer is also still taking Russian supplies that are being largely shunned since the invasion of Ukraine. The trade in the discounted oil is now being disrupted by the country’s worsening virus outbreak, with waiting times to unload ships increasing.
6th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

China's widening COVID curbs exact mounting economic toll

China's top European business group warned on Wednesday that its "zero-COVID" strategy was harming the attractiveness of Shanghai as a financial hub, echoing analysts voicing caution over the mounting economic toll of the country's coronavirus curbs. China has for the past month been tackling multiple outbreaks with an elimination strategy that seeks to test, trace and centrally quarantine all positive COVID-19 cases. Nomura estimated on Tuesday that a total of 23 Chinese cities have implemented either full or partial lockdowns, which collectively are home to an estimated 193 million people and contribute to 22% of China's GDP. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said that the strategy was causing growing difficulties transporting goods across provinces and through ports, harming factory output.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Worries of more school disruptions are rising alongside COVID-19 cases

As the spring weather improves, Montrealer Doug Bentley understands people feeling a pent-up desire to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Still, as a parent with two kids attending elementary school, he remains "ill at ease" about classrooms amid COVID-19. "I don't feel particularly comfortable about the situation in the schools," he said. "There's a lot of denial going on about the sixth wave that has started." With capacity limits, mask mandates and other restrictions lingering in some areas but gone in others, Canadian regions remain in varying stages of easing pandemic mitigation measures. Yet as health experts warn again of rising new COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates in parts of the country, parents and school officials are bracing for what a sixth wave may bring to classrooms.
6th Apr 2022 - CBC.ca


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Biden orders push on long COVID, pandemic’s shadowy mystery

Confronting the pandemic’s lasting shadow, President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered a new national research push on long COVID, while also directing federal agencies to support patients dealing with the mysterious and debilitating condition. Biden assigned the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate an urgent new initiative across federal agencies, building on research already under way at the National Institutes of Health. He also directed federal agencies to support patients and doctors by providing science-based best practices for treating long COVID, maintaining access to insurance coverage, and protecting the rights of workers coping with the uncertainties of the malaise. Of particular concern are effects on mental health.
6th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Prior COVID vaccination induces a more robust antibody response to Omicron

A recent study posted to the medRxiv* preprint server assessed the impact of prior severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccination on the human immune response against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron infection. Various studies have reported lower susceptibility of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant against neutralizing antibodies. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the potential of previous SARS-CoV-2 infections in modifying the human immune response against the novel Omicron variant.
5th Apr 2022 - News-Medical.Net


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China joins race to build a better Covid-19 vaccine with circRNA tech

China has joined the race to build a better Covid-19 vaccine using engineered circular RNA, a form of biotechnology that scientists hope can lead to cheaper and more effective shots. A group of scientists from Peking University, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in Beijing have been testing a circular RNA (circRNA) vaccine candidate targeting the tip of the coronavirus’s spike protein, which the virus uses to dock with the body’s receptors and cause infection. The team have released a preprint paper of the results of laboratory tests and animal trials and the study is being reviewed by scientific journal Cell. Companies and scientists are exploring the vaccine potential in transforming linear RNA into a circular shape.
4th Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post

How to book a Covid vaccine for children with 5 to 11-year-olds now eligible

The Covid-19 vaccine is being extended to children aged between 5 and 11, giving five million more Britons access to the jab. It comes with case numbers across the UK extremely high, due to the spread of the highly infectious BA.2 offshoot of the Omicron variant. The children will be given a dose of Pfizer a third of the size of that given to those aged 12 and over. There will be a follow-up jab 12 weeks later. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation approved the jab for under-12s in February, but the NHS has been prioritising fourth doses for the clinically vulnerable and over-75s.
4th Apr 2022 - iNews

Covid had devastating toll on poor and low-income communities in US

The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on poor and low-income communities across America is laid bare in a new report released on Monday that concludes that while the virus did not discriminate between rich and poor, society and government did. As the US draws close to the terrible landmark of 1 million deaths from coronavirus, the glaringly disproportionate human toll that has been exacted is exposed by the Poor People’s Pandemic Report. Based on a data analysis of more than 3,000 counties across the US, it finds that people in poorer counties have died overall at almost twice the rate of those in richer counties. Looking at the most deadly surges of the virus, the disparity in death rates grows even more pronounced.
4th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Despite the end of free testing, the virus is stronger than ever

You'd be forgiven for thinking the COVID pandemic was on its way out. But today's data show that, from the virus' perspective at least, it's stronger than ever. On the same day free COVID testing comes to an end in England, infection levels have reached the highest ever recorded.
4th Apr 2022 - Sky News


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China's farmers face fertiliser crunch as COVID measures hamper deliveries

China's COVID-19 curbs are disrupting the supply of fertiliser to the country's northeastern bread basket just a month away from spring planting, threatening this year's corn and soybean crops if not resolved soon. Farmers typically have fertiliser prepared in early April before applying to fields later in the month during planting. But China's worst outbreak of COVID since the pandemic began two years ago have triggered strict controls on movement of people and goods, sharply slowing deliveries. Fertiliser producers, dealers, analysts and associations said rules requiring truck drivers to take COVID tests every 24 hours, a need to obtain special passes to deliver goods and factory suspensions due to local COVID cases are all contributing to tight supplies.
1st Apr 2022 - Reuters

Rising Covid infections pile pressure on hospitals

Surging coronavirus infections are putting hospitals across the UK under mounting pressure and undermining efforts to get on top of waiting lists more than two years after the start of the pandemic. Several NHS trusts across England have been forced to declare critical incidents in recent weeks as the number of Covid-19 cases has increased. Ambulance services are reporting widespread delays at hospitals and in reaching those dialling 999.
4th Apr 2022 - The Times

‘One per cent of UK population’ newly infected with Covid-19 every day

Around one in every 100 people in the UK is likely to have been newly infected with Covid-19 per day during the current surge of the virus, figures suggest. Infections are estimated to have climbed as high as 657,300 every day by March 16, according to new modelling published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is the equivalent of roughly 1% of the population. It is also more than double the number of daily infections that were occurring at the end of February. The figures suggest that by mid-March the virus was circulating at levels higher even than those reached during the Omicron-led surge at the start of the year.
2nd Apr 2022 - Evening Standard

Number of COVID patients in US hospitals reaches record low

COVID-19 hospitalization numbers have plunged to their lowest levels since the early days of the pandemic, offering a much needed break to health care workers and patients alike following the omicron surge. The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus has fallen more than 90% in more than two months, and some hospitals are going days without a single COVID-19 patient in the ICU for the first time since early 2020. The freed up beds are expected to help U.S. hospitals retain exhausted staff, treat non-COVID-19 patients more quickly and cut down on inflated costs. More family members can visit loved ones. And doctors hope to see a correction to the slide in pediatric visits, yearly checkups and cancer screenings.
2nd Apr 2022 - The Associated Press


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Rokote Laboratories selects Exothera for GMP manufacturing of its second-generation coronavirus vaccine FINCoVac 2.0.

Rokote Laboratories Finland Ltd., a vaccine development company focussing on a second-generation COVID-19 vaccine, and Exothera S.A. will collaborate to bring the intranasal coronavirus vaccine FINCoVac 2.0 to clinical Phase I/II trials. Exothera will finetune the industrialization of the FINCOVAC 2.0 process and manufacture clinical material for Phase I/II trials. FINCoVac 2.0 is designed to address the most critical current coronavirus variants and it is based on adenoviral vector gene transfer technology. The FINCoVac vaccine is designed to program the nasopharyngeal cells to produce an immune response-inducing modified SARS-CoV-2-viral spike protein. FINCoVac 2.0 represents an easy-to-administer booster for those who are already fully vaccinated with other coronavirus vaccines.
31st Mar 2022 - BioSpace

Biden gets second booster shot, pushes for more COVID funding

U.S. President Joe Biden rolled up his sleeve for a second COVID-19 booster shot on Wednesday as his administration rolled out efforts to help Americans live with the coronavirus, including a new website and a renewed push for vaccinations and funding. "If we fail to invest, we leave ourselves vulnerable if another wave hits," Biden said in remarks at the White House to launch COVID.gov, a clearinghouse of information aimed at helping people manage the virus as they seek a return to normalcy.
31st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Global COVID cases ebb amid testing blind-spot worries

The world's COVID-19 cases dropped 14% last week, compared to the week before, with decreases seen across all of the WHO's regions. However, deaths rose 45%, primarily due to changes in how some countries define COVID deaths and retrospective adjustments from others. Overall, about 10 million cases were reported to the WHO last week. The five countries reporting the most cases were South Korea, Germany, Vietnam, France, and Italy. The WHO noted that recent case rises earlier this month occurred despite reduced testing in many countries, which it says is a sign that the virus is still circulating at very high levels. It warned that a decline in testing could lead to less robust data that makes it harder to track the virus and how it is spreading and evolving. The situation could impair how quickly countries can respond with targeted control measures to reduce hospitalizations and deaths. In its weekly report, the WHO said the Omicron variant makes up 99.5% of sequenced samples. Officials added that they're monitoring recombinant viruses, including a BA.1-BA.2 version that was first observed in the United Kingdom and appears to be about 10% more transmissible than the Omicron's BA.2 subvariant.
30th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP


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U.K. Hospitalizations Rise After Covid Cases Edge Back Up

Covid-19 infections in the U.K. have edged back up following the easing of restrictions and rapid spread of a more-transmissible subvariant of omicron. In the U.K. more than 574,000 people have tested positive and about 15,530 hospitalized in the last week. Still, this wave may be close to peaking, according to Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance. While omicron has proven to be more mild in general compared to previous strains, it would be wrong to assume that the coronavirus will continue evolving into a less severe infection, Vallance told the Science and Technology parliamentary committee on Wednesday.
30th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

NYC Covid Cases Are Rising Again, Mostly Among Those 25 to 34

New York City Covid-19 cases are rising again, particularly among people 25 to 34 years old, according to city officials. The surge appears to be concentrated in Manhattan, the most vaccinated borough. In an unusual move, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene posted a warning on Twitter on Wednesday, saying they “strongly recommend” New Yorkers mask-up indoors and get booster shots. The warning came in contrast to the city’s Covid alert system, which identifies the Covid alert level as ‘low risk.’
30th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

Ghana to start producing own Covid-19 vaccines in January 2024

Ghana will start producing its own COVID-19 vaccines in January 2024, President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Wednesday in his State of the Nation Address in parliament. A National Vaccine Institute would be established to lay out a strategy for the West African country to begin the first phase of commercial production for the jabs, he said without providing further details. "A bill will shortly be brought to you, in this House, for your support and approval for the establishment of the National Vaccine Institute," he said. So far Ghana has fully vaccinated around 21.4% of its 30-million-odd inhabitants against coronavirus, according to Reuters data.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters

People with cancer ‘risk being left behind’ under new Covid-19 testing guidance

Some cancer patients are at risk of being “left behind” under new guidance which sets out who is eligible for free Covid-19 tests, a charity has warned. Macmillan Cancer Support said it was welcome that people with symptoms of Covid-19 who are vulnerable to the effects of the disease will still be eligible for free tests. But it urged minister to extend the offer of free testing to include immunocompromised people without symptoms.
30th Mar 2022 - The Independent

Indonesia seeks longer shelf life donations as 19 mln COVID shots expired

Nineteen million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Indonesia's national stockpile have expired this year and 1.5 million more are set to expire next month, as donated shots arrive with a short shelf life, a health official said on Wednesday. Indonesia and many other developing nations are ramping up their vaccination campaign, aided by donations from wealthy countries, but they have been calling for donations with a longer shelf life.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Britain may be wasting nearly 3 billion pounds on COVID gear

Britain may be wasting nearly 3 billion pounds ($3.94 billion) on contracts for COVID-19 gear that have not given value for money, with millions spent each month storing unneeded and sometimes out-of-date kit, a watchdog said on Wednesday. The report by the parliament-supervised National Audit Office (NAO) will fuel opposition claims that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government was wasteful and nepotistic in its allocation of huge contracts during the two-year pandemic.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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West Lothian’s Valneva factory ‘could provide UK with Covid vaccines for years to come’

A state-of-the-art vaccine manufacturing facility in West Lothian could play a key role if the UK needs annual vaccines against coronavirus. The chief executive of Valneva, which is commissioning the site in Livingston, said he still hopes to supply the immunisation despite a UK Government contract for one hundred million doses being terminated last year. Thomas Lingelbach says it is one of only a handful worldwide able to make what are called ‘inactivated whole virus vaccines’. The CEO is now keeping a close eye on developments at the plant and told STV News this could be vital as covid evolves into the post pandemic era.
29th Mar 2022 - STV News

Virtual reality helps reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy can be affected by several factors such as lack of confidence in health authorities and experts who have developed the vaccine, constraints, complacency, the degree to which the personal costs and benefits of the vaccine are weighted, lack of compliance, lack of collective responsibility, and fake news regarding vaccines. However, informing people about community immunity has occasionally been shown to increase intentions for vaccination. Thus, using novel technologies that can help people understand the benefit of vaccination, as well as the impact of vaccination on other vulnerable individuals, can assist in reducing vaccine hesitancy. A new Scientific Reports study investigates whether intention for vaccination is increased by a gamified immersive virtual reality (VR) experience that shows how community immunity works.
29th Mar 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Covid-19 spring booster vaccination to begin in coming days

The Covid-19 spring booster vaccination is to begin in Northern Ireland in the coming days. People aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older people, and those aged 12 years and over with weakened immune systems will be offered a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The Public Health Agency (PHA) said the spring booster should be offered around six months after an individual received their first booster dose. The agency is now urging those eligible to book an appointment
29th Mar 2022 - The Irish News

Specialist nurse appointed for rare Covid-19 condition affecting children

A hospital in London has become one of the first in the UK to appoint a dedicated nurse for a rare inflammatory condition in children linked to Covid-19. Evelina London Children's Hospital has recruited Michael Bell into the role of clinical nurse specialist for paediatric cases
29th Mar 2022 - Nursing Times

Covid-19: Oxygen shortages two years into pandemic highlight pre-covid failures, says WHO

Two years into the covid-19 pandemic, access to oxygen is still a major problem in low and middle income countries, health leaders have warned. The shortages have highlighted the “abject failure” of the global community to develop and build up primary healthcare and universal health coverage over the past 20 years, said Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization’s health emergencies programme executive director. “Covid didn’t cause this, covid uncovered this. Covid laid bare, tore away the bandages from, some very, very old wounds,” Ryan told an Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator briefing. “No one was interested in oxygen,” he said, despite it being vital for the treatment of patients with covid-19 in the early stages of the pandemic. “I went to meeting after meeting and I spoke about oxygen, and nobody was listening because oxygen wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t new. It wasn’t some technological advance that could be delivered to the world. Oxygen was boring, oxygen was old,” Ryan said.
29th Mar 2022 - The BMJ

Capital of China's Jilin province apologises for food shortages due to COVID curbs

The Chinese city of Changchun, capital of the COVID-hit northeastern province of Jilin, on Tuesday apologised to its 8.5 million residents for food shortages related to shutdowns and disruption caused by COVID containment measures. Due to COVID-19, two major wholesale food markets in Changchun have shuttered, leading to a shortfall in food supply, said the city's deputy Communist Party secretary, Liu Renyuan, a problem aggravated by a shortage of workers that has delayed deliveries to homes.
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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End of free Covid testing could put vulnerable at risk, say UK experts

Come the end of March, the lights will dim on the UK’s Covid epidemic. Despite infection levels rising, cases will plummet, as free lateral flow and PCR tests are stopped for the majority of people in England, with other countries in the UK also set to reduce free testing in the coming weeks and months. But while the government has argued it is time to manage Covid as we do other infectious diseases such as flu, scientists have warned ending community testing could put vulnerable people at risk and undermine efforts to understand the virus.
28th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

The ‘zero-Covid’ approach got bad press, but it worked – and it could work again

Many people thought No-Covid was impossible, but the handful of places that embraced it proved them wrong. Now that some of those places are themselves shifting to a reduction or mitigation strategy, countries that opted for mitigation from the beginning are enjoying a “we told you so” moment. But No-Covid’s early champions had to shift in part because other countries let the virus rip. Even if their strategy didn’t remain the optimal one, it bought them time to prepare others. It’s important that we remember that when the next pandemic sidles along.
28th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Scottish Covid-19 patient numbers increase again to another record high

Article reports that the number of coronavirus patients in Scotland’s hospitals has reached another record high – for the sixth time in the past eight days.Scottish Government figures showed that on Sunday there were 2,360 people with recently confirmed Covid-19 in hospital, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The latest peak in hospital numbers comes after a slight fall in the total.
28th Mar 2022 - Evening Standard

Covid-19: 'Huge stress' on health system as number in hospital tops 1600

Article reports that the Minister for Health has said the extra transmissibility of the BA.2 variant means “quite extreme measures” would be needed to contain it. Stephen Donnelly is understood to have told an online meeting of Fianna Fáil members on Monday night that there are likely several hundred thousand cases of Covid every week, with daily numbers several times higher than those being tracked by PCR and antigen tests. Sources indicated that Mr Donnelly told the meeting said that the current transmissibility of the variant meant that extremely restrictive measures would be needed, and said that he is told by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) that extra restrictions of this level are not currently advised.
28th Mar 2022 - The Irish Times

G20 chair Indonesia seeks standardised health requirements for travel

Group of 20 major economies (G20) chair Indonesia has started talks with members on standardising health protocols for travel, its health minister said, stressing the importance of harmonising rules and technology as global travel resumes. An aide to Indonesia's health minister, Setiaji, said countries were getting ready to roll out a global website to scan and verify travellers' vaccination status. All G20 members support the rollout, but China will not participate yet "due to technical reasons," he said without giving further details.
28th Mar 2022 - Reuters

UK study to test Pfizer's COVID pill in hospitalised patients

Pfizer's oral COVID-19 therapy will be evaluated as a potential treatment for patients hospitalised with the illness in a major British trial, scientists said on Monday, as cases rise in some parts of the world. The world's largest randomised study of potential medicines for COVID-19, dubbed the RECOVERY trial, will assess Paxlovid across hospitals in Britain, which has already approved the drug for early-stage treatment. "Paxlovid is a promising oral antiviral drug but we don't know if it can improve survival of patients with severe COVID-19," said Peter Horby, a professor at the University of Oxford and joint chief investigator of the RECOVERY trial.
28th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Australian Medical Association reveals full strain on the nation’s hospital system

Australia’s hospital system is “showing cracks” under the weight of increased demand and underfunding, according to the country’s peak professional body. The Australian Medical Association’s annual public health system report card has revealed just how dire the situation is nationwide, as emergency departments have buckled under the pressure of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than one in three people have waited longer than the clinically-recommended 30 minutes to receive urgent care. AMA president Omar Khorshid said only 63 per cent of patients had been seen within the recommended period in the past year. “One in three people who present to an ED will wait longer than four hours to be either discharged or admitted,” Dr Khorshid said.
27th Mar 2022 - Perth Now

Premier calls for pre-Songkran vaccine drive

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered authorities to speed up inoculation of vulnerable groups ahead of the Songkran festival next month, a spokesman says. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, government spokesman, said Gen Prayut has ordered state agencies to encourage people aged 60 and over, those suffering from underlying illnesses and pregnant women to receive their shots against Covid-19 before the holidays as a precautionary measure. The goal is to offer booster jabs to at least 70% of the elderly who have already been vaccinated at least twice, he said. The Songkran festival marks an important time when families return home and pay respects to the elderly.
27th Mar 2022 - ฺBangkok Post

Persistent cough 'may be TB rather than Covid' - and cases are on the rise

UK health leaders fear cases of tuberculosis (TB) are slipping under the radar. The potentially dangerous bacterial infection begins as a persistent cough, similar to many people’s experience of Covid-19. Incidents of TB have been falling since 2019 but appear to be on the rise once again, fuelling fears people may be dismissing the symptom as the coronavirus. Now anyone with a cough is being warned not to assume their illness is definitely caused by Covid-19.
27th Mar 2022 - Metro.co.uk

Costs of going unvaccinated in America are mounting for workers and companies

Nearly a year after COVID vaccines became freely available in the U.S., one fourth of American adults remain unvaccinated, and a picture of the economic cost of vaccine hesitancy is emerging. It points to financial risk for individuals, companies and publicly funded programs. Vaccine hesitancy likely already accounts for tens of billions of dollars in preventable U.S. hospitalization costs and up to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths, say public health experts. For individuals forgoing vaccination, the risks can include layoffs and ineligibility to collect unemployment, higher insurance premiums, growing out-of-pocket medical costs or loss of academic scholarships.
25th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19: More elderly people being admitted to hospital with coronavirus than at peak of Omicron wave, latest data shows

More elderly people are now being admitted to hospital with COVID than they were at the peak of the Omicron wave, according to the latest official data. The statistics from the UK Health Security Agency will add urgency to the new drive to vaccinate the over-75s with a "spring booster". Figures from the Weekly Flu and COVID Surveillance Report show that the admission rate in England for every 100,000 people over the age of 85 was 178.29 in the week to 20 March, compared with 158.43 at the turn of the year. The rate in people aged between 75 and 84 was 74.34 per 100,000 last week. At the beginning of January, it was 70.3. Although hospitalisation rates in younger patients are also rising, they are still below the level of the original Omicron surge.
25th Mar 2022 - Sky News

A fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose is on the horizon, but Victoria's booster rate remains stubbornly low

Experts have raised concerns about the "disappointing" rate at which Victorians are getting their booster COVID-19 vaccine doses, as the possibility of a fourth dose is considered. More than 93.7 per cent of eligible Victorians have had two doses of the vaccine, but the latest figures from the health department show 64 per cent of people aged 18 and up have now received three vaccine doses. That figure has risen by less than seven percentage points in a month — it stood at 57.1 per cent on February 23.
24th Mar 2022 - ABC News

One million Scots have not had a booster vaccine amid warnings over waning immunity

Figures from Public Health Scotland (PHS) show 983,875 adults have not received a third dose or booster, six months after the programme began. More than 500,000 of these are at least 12 weeks on from their second dose. The Scottish Government admitted fewer appointments had taken place than expected, after PHS reported that 21,000 vaccine doses were thrown away in February after reaching their expiry dates.
24th Mar 2022 - The Scotsman

Rich countries getting new COVID vaccine before poorer ones

The company behind a COVID-19 vaccine touted as a key tool for the developing world has sent tens of millions of doses to wealthy nations but provided none yet to the U.N.-backed effort to supply poorer countries, a sign that inequity persists in the global response to the pandemic. COVAX had planned to make available 250 million doses from Novavax by March, but the U.N. agency in charge of deliveries says the first shipments now likely won't be made until April or May.
24th Mar 2022 - The Independent

Two years on from UK's first Covid lockdown, cases may be rising but deaths remain low

Two years on from the start of the UK’s first Covid lockdown, when cases were rising rapidly and there was no timeline for a vaccine, the threat of the virus has changed significantly in the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson marked the milestone by paying tribute to the “heroic efforts” of the NHS on Wednesday, while giving sympathies to the families of those who died from Covid, and said Britain’s 187,000 coronavirus casualties “will never be out of our hearts and minds”. The UK is now one of the few places globally with nearly zero Covid restrictions in place despite a recent rise in cases driven by the Omicron variant, but Health Secretary Sajid Javid has insisted there is “no particular cause for concern”, with the “wall of defence” from vaccines keeping the situation stable.
24th Mar 2022 - iNews

Covid-19: Free PCR tests to end for most in April

In Northern Ireland, most people will no longer be able to access a free PCR test from 22 April, the health minister has said. Lateral flow tests (LFTs) will continue to be free, but only for people displaying Covid-19 symptoms and this policy continues to be reviewed. Routine contact tracing is also set to be phased out between the middle of April and the end of June. Health Minister Robin Swann said the changes reflected the "new realities of the pandemic".
24th Mar 2022 - BBC News

Australia to roll out fourth COVID vaccine shot ahead of winter

Australia will roll out a fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccines to its most vulnerable population starting next month, authorities said on Friday, as the country looks to limit fresh outbreaks ahead of winter. The decision comes amid a steady rise in cases fuelled by the highly contagious BA.2 sub-variant of the Omicron strain and concerns of co-circulation of COVID-19 and flu viruses during colder months as most social distancing restrictions end. A second booster shot will be offered from April 4 to people who had their previous booster shot at least four months ago and are over 65 years, Indigenous Australians over 50, people with disability or severely immunocompromised, Health Minister Greg Hunt said during a media briefing.
24th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Global COVID-19 cases climb for second week in a row

Last week marked a turnaround in a 5-week decline in cases. In the continued rise this week, cases were up 7% compared to the week before, the WHO said. Cases were up 21% in the Western Pacific region, an area that includes locations experiencing surges, including South Korea, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. The European region's cases remained steady, while levels declined in the Eastern Mediterranean, Africa, South East Asia, and Americas regions. Deaths overall declined 23% compared to the week before, though they were up 5% in the Western Pacific region. The WHO received reports of 12 million cases last week. Countries reporting the most cases were South Korea, Vietnam, Germany, France, and Australia. Also, there were 33,000 deaths across the globe, with Russia nudging ahead of the United States in reporting the most weekly fatalities.
23rd Mar 2022 - CIDRAP


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Hong Kong schools need 90 per cent student jab rate to resume full-day classes

Schools must ensure 90 per cent of their students have received at least two vaccine shots against Covid-19 if they hope to resume whole-day lessons in the classroom next month, Hong Kong’s education minister has announced. Confirming a previous Post report, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung also said that all teachers and school staff must have received at least two vaccine doses before returning to campus, unless they had a valid medical exemption.
23rd Mar 2022 - South China Morning Post

Ministers urged to ensure Covid-19 testing remains free for NHS staff

The NHS Confederation is leading a call for ministers to provide clarity over Covid-19 testing requirements for NHS staff and for access to free tests to remain in place for the workforce, especially for those who are patient-facing. The concerns from organisations representing NHS staff come as Covid-19 rates across the UK continue to spike, with hospital admissions also on the rise.
23rd Mar 2022 - Nursing Times

WHO: COVID-19 cases rise for 2nd straight week, deaths fall

Article reports that the number of new coronavirus cases globally increased by 7% in the last week, driven by rising infections in the Western Pacific, even as reported deaths from COVID-19 fell, the World Health Organization said. There were more than 12 million new weekly cases and just under 33,000 deaths, a 23% decline in mortality, according to the U.N. health agency’s report on the pandemic issued late Tuesday. Confirmed cases of the virus had been falling steadily worldwide since January but rose again last week, due to the more infectious omicron variant and the suspension of COVID-19 protocols in numerous countries in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Health officials have said repeatedly that omicron causes milder disease than previous versions of the coronavirus and that vaccination, including a booster, appears highly protective.
23rd Mar 2022 - The Independent

COVID-19: Soaring virus-related absences in England's state schools could 'seriously damage' exam grades, headteachers say

Levels of COVID-related pupil absences in state schools in England have more than tripled, leading to concerns over how it may impact grades. In total, 201,600 pupils were off for COVID-related reasons on 17 March, up from 45,100 on 3 March, the latest government figures show. The rate of COVID-linked absences rose to 2.5% of students on 17 March, up from 0.7% on 3 March. The rising COVID cases have prompted concerns from headteachers about the potential impact absences will have on grades.
23rd Mar 2022 - Sky News

Covid-19: 'Vaccine tracers' brought in as county Covid rate trebles

A team of "vaccine tracers" have been brought in as the number of Covid infections in a county almost trebled in three weeks. Latest data shows more than 11,045 cases were recorded in Hertfordshire in the seven days to 16 March, representing a rate of 923.7 per 100,000 of the population. It is almost three times the 328.6 case rate recorded on 28 February. The new team aims to boost vaccination levels across the county. Hertfordshire's director of public health Jim McManus warned that the case rate had changed "quite dramatically" in recent weeks, with cases increasing in most age groups, including the more vulnerable over-60s, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
23rd Mar 2022 - BBC News


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France sees biggest jump in COVID cases since early February

France saw the biggest jump in new COVID-19 cases since February, health ministry data showed on Tuesday, with 180,777 new infections over 24 hours, and hospital numbers also rose for the third consecutive day. The new cases brought the cumulative number of registered infections to 24.3 million as the resumption of classes following two weeks of school holidays marked a sharp resurgence of the epidemic. The seven-day moving average of new cases rose further to just under 99,000, where it had been from end-December till mid-February, driven by the contagious Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.
22nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

SA Premier says COVID-19 case numbers to jump in a 'significant way' with elective surgeries already cancelled

South Australian health officials quietly reintroduced a pause on some elective surgeries just one day before last Saturday's election, new Premier Peter Malinauskas has revealed. The ban was introduced but not announced amid a rise in the state's COVID numbers, with Mr Malinauskas warning new government modelling showed cases were set to "escalate in a rather significant way". He said the elective surgery ban impacted all non-urgent overnight elective surgery in public hospitals. "Needless to say, I was rather disappointed and somewhat shocked to learn that an elective surgery ban has now been reinstated in some instances here in South Australia," he said.
22nd Mar 2022 - ABC News

Covid school absences triple in two weeks as 202,000 pupils off sick or isolating in England

The number of pupils missing school in England because of Covid-19 has more than tripled in two weeks. Figures from the Department for Education show that last Thursday, 202,000 state school pupils were not in class because of reasons related to Covid, up from 58,000 pupils on 3 March. Among these students, there were 16,000 pupils with a suspected Covid case and 159,000 with a confirmed case.
22nd Mar 2022 - iNews

Covid-19 update: 'Risky to assume that the pandemic is over' - McKee

Europe faces a revival of a revival of virus risks as cases spread rapidly, accelerated by the emergence of the more-transmissible BA.2 Omicron strain. Germany is now setting fresh records for infection rates almost daily, while Austria has also reached new highs and cases in the Netherlands have doubled since lifting curbs on Feb. 25. “The messaging from politicians is encouraging many people who were taking precautions to mix with others,” says Martin McKee, professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “It does seem very courageous, and indeed risky, to assume that the pandemic is over.”
22nd Mar 2022 - Pharmaceutical Technology


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India considers widening COVID booster effort to all adults, sources say

Article reports that India is considering making all adults eligible for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Monday, as infections grow in some countries and some Indians find it hard to travel abroad without a third dose. Only frontline workers and those older than 60 are currently allowed to take booster doses in India, whether free in government centres or paid for in private hospitals. The government is debating whether to provide boosters to other groups for free, said one of the sources, who both sought anonymity as the government has yet to make a decision.
21st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Spring Covid-19 booster campaign to get underway in a matter of weeks

Northern Ireland's spring Covid booster campaign is set to get underway within a matter of weeks. A further dose of the vaccine is to be made available to over 75s, immunosuppressed over the age of 12 and care home residents. Community pharmacies are due to administer the vaccine to care home residents, trusts will run clinics for immunocompromised patients and GP surgeries will run clinics for all patients over the age of 75. While appointments have not yet opened to the public, they are to coincide with the same timetable across the UK.
21st Mar 2022 - Belfast Telegraph


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Ukraine’s World-Class Drug-Molecule Industry Imperiled by Russia Invasion

Article reports that Russian attacks are endangering Ukraine’s world-leading medicinal chemistry industry, which supplies scientists across the globe with molecular building blocks needed for early drug development. Ukraine’s dominance in medicinal chemistry is little known beyond drug developers, who fine-tune a drug’s molecular design to give it the best chance of hitting the desired biological target in the body. Kyiv-based Enamine Ltd. has become a go-to supplier for drug-discovery scientists at academic laboratories and the largest pharmaceutical companies. “It’s a bit like Amazon for chemistry,” said Ed Griffen, a U.K.-based medicinal chemist working with closely held Enamine on a low-cost Covid-19 antiviral pill.
20th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai's Disney resort shut amid record daily local COVID infections

China's financial hub of Shanghai reported on Monday a record daily surge in local COVID-19 infections as authorities scrambled to test residents and rein in the Omicron variant, while closing its Disney (DIS.N) resort until further notice. Until recent weeks relatively unscathed by coronavirus, Shanghai reported 24 new domestically transmitted COVID cases with confirmed symptoms for Sunday and 734 local asymptomatic infections, official data showed on Monday. It is the fourth consecutive day that Shanghai's local asymptomatic infections have increased.
21st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Covid: Rise in UK infections driven by BA.2 Omicron variant

Covid cases have continued to rise in the UK, with an estimated one in every 20 people infected, figures from the Office for National Statistic suggest. All age groups are affected, including the 75s and over, who are due a spring booster jab to top up protection. Hospital cases are also rising, but vaccines are still helping to stop many severe cases, say experts. An easily spread sub-variant of Omicron, called BA.2, is now causing most cases. Recent easing of restrictions and waning immunity from the vaccines could be factors behind the rise too.
20th Mar 2022 - BBC News

Life During Hong Kong's Worst Covid-19 Outbreak: Full Hospitals, Quiet Streets

Hong Kong has faced a record surge in Covid-19 cases and the world’s highest death rate, prompting authorities to impose strict restrictions. WSJ’s Diana Chan reports on how everyday life has changed in the city, from panic buying to an exodus of residents
20th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid restrictions easing across Europe despite surge in cases

In Germany most pandemic controls will be lifted on Sunday after a heated parliamentary debate on Friday which led to both houses of parliament voting in favour. That was despite cases in Germany reaching a new daily record of almost 300,000 on Friday – a seven-day incidence rate of 1,706 cases per 100,000 residents – and a majority of the population expressing concern that the relaxations were coming too soon. Germany has been recording daily deaths of over 200 for several weeks.
20th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

China's factories opt for isolation bubbles to beat COVID curbs and keep running

To keep factory lines open in the face of COVID curbs Chinese firms are asking workers to eat, sleep and work in bubbles isolated from the wider world, sterilising premises as often as three times a day and testing for COVID daily. Dubbed "closed-loop management", this approach has been part of China's efforts over the past two years to keep local transmission extremely low by global standards. It was used for example at the Winter Olympics in Beijing to seal event personnel off from the public.
20th Mar 2022 - Reuters

EU health body recommends free COVID tests, vaccines for Ukrainian refugees

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Friday that countries should provide free COVID-19 testing for refugees from Ukraine to avoid outbreaks as more than three million people flee their war-stricken homeland. Infectious diseases and conflict often go hand-in-hand, and the risk of infections spreading could be further exacerbated as COVID vaccination rates in Ukraine have been low overall at 35% versus the EU average of 71.7%. Those fleeing the country should be offered a full course of COVID-19 vaccines, and booster doses, if they do not have proof of prior inoculation, with an emphasis on those at greater risk of severe COVID-19, the ECDC said.
20th Mar 2022 - Reuters

WHO says global rise in COVID cases is 'tip of the iceberg'

Figures showing a global rise in COVID-19 cases could herald a much bigger problem as some countries also report a drop in testing rates, the WHO said on Tuesday, warning nations to remain vigilant against the virus. After more than a month of decline, COVID cases started to increase around the world last week, the WHO said, with lockdowns in Asia and China's Jilin province battling to contain an outbreak. A combination of factors was causing the increases, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its BA.2 sublineage, and the lifting of public health and social measures, the WHO said.
19th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Rising Covid cases mean we need to stay vigilant, but vaccines mean we don't need to panic

You’d think, now that there’s a war on, that we’ve had enough of pestilence. One horseman of the apocalypse at a time, please. But, inconsiderately, it appears that Covid-19 cases in the UK are on the rise again. Not anywhere near the levels of the Omicron peak two months ago, when about 200,000 new cases were being detected a day, but we are seeing as many cases as we did during the second wave in January 2021, and numbers are still going up. It’s reasonable to worry about it, and we should definitely keep an eye on it. But we don’t need to panic.
17th Mar 2022 - iNews

Scientists fear U.K. is easing coronavirus testing and monitoring too soon

After dropping nearly all coronavirus restrictions last month, Britain is now ending some of its most widespread testing and monitoring programs, a move some scientists fear will complicate efforts to track the virus and detect worrisome new variants. Officials have largely dismissed those concerns, despite a recent uptick in cases across Europe, insisting that high immunization rates will help dampen future waves of disease. Based on how quickly new variants have arisen, some experts suggest the next one could arrive as early as May. They warn that U.K. authorities should be using the time to prepare, rather than winding down their pandemic defenses. Mark Woolhouse, an epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh, called it “an unfortunate pattern” that has been seen repeatedly throughout the outbreak.
17th Mar 2022 - The New York Times

Generic drugmakers sign on to make cheap version of Pfizer COVID pill

Thirty five generic drugmakers around the world will make cheap versions of Pfizer Inc's highly effective COVID-19 oral antiviral Paxlovid to supply the treatment in 95 poorer countries, the U.N.-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) said on Thursday. Pfizer struck a deal last year with the group to allow generic drugmakers to make the pills for 95 low- and middle-income countries. They have been working since then to select the drugmakers they will license. Paxlovid is expected to be an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 after it reduced hospitalizations in high-risk patients by around 90% in a clinical trial. The results were significantly better than those for Merck & Co's rival antiviral pill molnupiravir in its clinical trial.
17th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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In Kharkiv, critical COVID patients at the mercy of Russian bombardment

In Kharkiv's regional infectious diseases hospital, doctors escort those COVID-19 patients they can down to the bomb shelter in the basement when the air raid sirens sound. But the most seriously ill, needing constant oxygen supply, cannot be moved, even if this means leaving them vulnerable to Russian bombardment. "The ones in critical condition remain in their rooms. If we bring them down here they will simply die," said Pavlo Nartov, the hospital's director. "Most of our patients are on oxygen supply all the time. They can't be cut off from the oxygen."
17th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Covid Scotland: 27000 doses of vaccine wasted in a single month as expiry dates reached

Some 13 per cent of doses given were wasted, compared to an average of just 1.5 per cent from September to January. Just half of those aged 18 to 29 have received a booster jag, while the figure for all adults is 78 per cent, below the Scottish Government benchmark of 80 per cent. In response to a “significant” increase in Covid patients, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has banned all but essential visiting in several wards at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Royal Alexandra Hospital from Thursday. NHS Lanarkshire has already taken this step. The majority of vaccine doses wasted in February – around 21,000 – were due to passing expiry dates, according to a new report from Public Health Scotland (PHS).
16th Mar 2022 - The Scotsman

Germany hits record Covid infection rate since start of pandemic

Germany has recorded its highest rate of Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic, as mask-wearing mandates in shops, restaurants and schools will come to an end in many parts of the country this weekend. The country’s disease control agency on Wednesday reported a record incidence rate of 1,607 new infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days, one of the highest in Europe. Germany’s Robert Koch Institute has recorded a total of 262,593 confirmed new cases and 269 new deaths over the past 24 hours. Experts say the true number of cases could be even higher as testing facilities have reached full capacity and those who test positive with a lateral flow test are no longer required to carry out a PCR test that would show up in the statistics.
16th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

India rolls out COVID vaccine doses for children aged 12-14

India on Wednesday started administering doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to young people aged 12 to 14 as public and private schools re-opened. The government aims to swiftly expand vaccine coverage by also dropping a restriction on booster doses for those older than 60 only if they had a co-morbidity condition. "Today is an important day in India's efforts to vaccinate our citizens," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. The children, estimated by the government to number 50 million, will receive the Corbevax vaccine, made by Biological E, a domestic firm that secured emergency approval for its use in children.
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID curbs bite at Chinese ports, threatening global supply chains

The queues of container ships outside major Chinese ports are lengthening by the day as COVID-19 outbreaks in manufacturing export hubs threaten to unleash a fresh wave of global supply chain shocks, ship owners, logistics firms and analysts say. China is experiencing its biggest spike in COVID-19 infections since an initial outbreak in the central city of Wuhan was contained in early 2020. The spread of the highly-infectious Omicron variant this month has led to movement controls across China, including in key manufacturing hubs of Shenzhen and Dongguan, paralysing factories making goods from flash drives to car parts
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters

WHO: New COVID deaths fell 17% last week, but cases rising

The number of new coronavirus deaths reported worldwide fell by 17% in the last week while COVID-19 infections rose, reversing a decline in cases that first began in January, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.N. health agency’s weekly report on the pandemic issued late Tuesday, WHO said there were more than 11 million new COVID-19 infections last week - about an 8% rise - and 43,000 new deaths. The number of COVID-19 deaths globally has been dropping for the past three weeks. The biggest increase in cases were seen in the Western Pacific and Africa, where infections rose by 29% and 12% respectively. Elsewhere, cases dropped by more than 20% in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Americas. In Europe, cases inched up by about 2%.
16th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press


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Doctors should not fear liability for recommending Covid-19 vaccine

Medical practitioners in Hong Kong have been reluctant to recommend Covid-19 vaccines to patients with chronic health conditions for fear of the risk of adverse events. Significant numbers of doctors have also been hesitant about openly discussing or recommending vaccination even for those with no relevant health issues. These are the conclusions from a study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong that received little attention when published last November. The findings, which should have raised alarm bells, offer an explanation for the city’s stubbornly low vaccination rate among the elderly.
15th Mar 2022 - South China Morning Post

GP vaccine sites offering 'value for money' to continue Covid jabs until September

GP-led Covid vaccination sites will be able to continue delivering jabs until September if they have ‘sufficient capacity’, NHS England has said. But some may be asked to suspend the service if they are not delivering ‘value for money’, it added. The enhanced service was due to expire at the end of this month, but NHS England had indicated it was expected to be extended until September – as long as delivery did not impact on ‘core’ GP services.
15th Mar 2022 - Pulse

Scientists call for immediate rollout of Covid jab for UK primary school children

Scientists are calling for the immediate rollout of Covid vaccines to primary-aged children in the UK, as new data suggests that even a single dose of the Pfizer jab helps to prevent older children against infection, and shortens the duration and severity of symptoms if they do get infected. According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, 2- to 11-year-olds have the highest rate of infections of any UK age group, with 4.2% testing positive during the week ending 5 March. Secondary-aged children (up to Year 11) have the lowest rate of infections, with 2.4% testing positive.
15th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Mexico to uphold existing agreements for Russian COVID vaccine

Mexico will uphold its existing agreements with Russia for its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, as well as those made with other countries, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday. Speaking at a regular news conference, Lopez Obrador said he expected Mexico to have sufficient vaccines going forward, and reiterated that Mexico would not participate in sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.
15th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Covid-19 Outbreak Shuts Down Some China Factories, Including Apple Supplier

A surge in Covid-19 cases led Chinese manufacturing hubs Shenzhen and Changchun to lock down in recent days, halting production at many electronics and auto factories in the latest threat to the world’s battered supply chain. A number of manufacturers including Foxconn, Technology Group, a major assembler of Apple Inc.’s AAPL, iPhones, said they were halting operations in Shenzhen in compliance with the local government’s policy. The government placed the city into lockdown for at least a week and said everyone in the city would have to undergo three rounds of testing after 86 new cases of domestic Covid-19 infections were detected Sunday.
15th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

U.S. seeks to expand Trump-era COVID data collection under CDC

The Biden administration wants to expand a federal COVID-19 tracking system created during the pandemic to provide a more detailed view of how respiratory and other infectious diseases are affecting patients and hospital resources, according to a draft of proposed rules reviewed by Reuters. The plan would build upon a hospital data collection system designed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Trump administration. Management of the program was transferred last month to HHS's lead public health agency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
14th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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French COVID-19 infections again up 25% week-on-week, trend upward again

New COVID-19 infections in France rose by more than 25% on Friday compared to a week ago after rising more than 24% on Thursday, as a downward trend that had started late January reversed. The health ministry registered 72,399 new infections on Friday, while the seven-day moving average of new infections also rose, for the fourth day in a row, by nearly 16% to more than 60,000. New hospitalisations with COVID-19 - which tend to lag new cases by about two weeks - continued falling, by 7% to just over 21,000.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Covid cases and hospital admissions rising in England, data suggests

One in 25 people in England had Covid last week, figures show, causing a rise in the rates of hospital admissions. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, based on swabs from randomly selected households, reveal an estimated 2,073,900 people in the community in England had Covid in the week ending 5 March, equating to 3.8% of the population or about one in 25 people. The week before, the figure was about one in 30. In Scotland, the latest ONS figures suggest about one in 18 had Covid in the most recent week – continuing a rise in prevalence – while in Northern Ireland and Wales it was one in 13 and one in 30 respectively, suggesting infection levels are increasing in all countries in the UK.
11th Mar 2022 - The Guardian


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Australia leaders to meet amid Omicron sub-variant concerns, flood damage

Australia's national cabinet will meet on Friday against a backdrop of concerns about the spread of the new sub-variant of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus, while eastern states battle to clear tonnes of debris after devastating floods.
11th Mar 2022 - Reuters

UK Covid cases rising among those aged 55 and over

Covid cases appear to be rising in older people as increased socialising, waning immunity and a more transmissible version of the Omicron variant threaten to fuel a resurgence of the virus. Tests on nearly 100,000 swabs from homes across England reveal that, while infections have fallen overall since the January peak, one in 35 people tested positive between 8 February and 1 March, with cases either level or rising in those aged 55 and over. Scientists on Imperial College’s React-1 study said the R value – the average number of people an infected person passes the virus to – remained below 1 for those aged 54 and under, meaning cases were in decline. But for those aged 55 and over, R stood at 1.04. The suspected uptick has raised concerns as older people are more prone to severe Covid and have had more time for their immunity to wane, as many had their booster vaccines several months ago.
10th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

People Are Getting COVID Shots Despite Hesitation

It is easy to assume that most people who get the COVID-19 vaccine do so without a shred of trepidation, while those who are hesitant about it choose never to get vaccinated. But a recent set of findings blows up this binary and provides insights that could make vaccination campaigns more successful.The studies cut through toxic public discourse about the vaccine and focus on a significant group that is often overlooked by researchers, policy makers and the media: so-called hesitant adopters. Such people get vaccinated and report afterward that they felt some degree of hesitation about doing so. To look into this group, scientists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest (UAMS Northwest) and their colleagues surveyed 1,475 adults at more than 30 COVID-19 vaccination sites in the state as they sat out their 15-minute wait time after receiving the shot.
10th Mar 2022 - Scientific American

Health Workers Plan for Years of Covid-19 Vaccine Outreach to Black People

Community health workers are redoubling their efforts to sustain Covid-19 vaccine coverage among Black people, saying that gaps remain between willingness to get the shots and the ability of some people to find them conveniently. Early in the U.S. vaccination drive, some Black people said they doubted the safety of the shots or couldn’t get to inoculation sites easily, and their coverage rate lagged that of the general population. Outreach and public-information campaigns helped close the gap by September, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found in a survey of 1,519 adults that month that the share of Black adults who said they had gotten an initial vaccination matched the rate for white adults.
10th Mar 2022 - Wall Street Journal

United Airlines to let unvaccinated workers return - WSJ

United Airlines will allow workers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 for religious or medical reasons to return at the end of this month, the Wall Street Journal reported. The move permits staffers with exemptions from the carrier's vaccination requirement for its U.S. employees to return from unpaid leave or from the non-customer-facing roles they were allowed to apply for as an alternative to their regular jobs, the report said.
10th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Ukraine Covid Pill Development Project Disrupted by Russian Invasion

The night before Russia invaded Ukraine, chemist Tetiana Matviyuk worked late into the night at her Kyiv office. By 10:30 p.m., she had wrapped up after a Zoom meeting with a global team of scientists working on a new, experimental Covid-19 treatment. The day before, she had shipped crucial compounds to colleagues in the U.K. Her team was closing in on the project’s finish line and their moment of Champagne celebration. But instead of euphoria, Matviyuk was filled with dread. She called her husband on her drive home. “I said, ‘I’m feeling that something bad can happen,’” says Matviyuk, 35, principal scientist in medicinal chemistry and computer drug design at contract research group Enamine Ltd. “He was just laughing at me, that I’m crazy and too nervous, and keep calm, everything will be fine.”
10th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg


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U.S. leaning toward ending COVID-era expulsions of migrants at Mexico border - sources

President Joe Biden's administration is leaning toward ending a COVID-era order that has blocked more than a million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter, a major policy shift that would restore the U.S. asylum system but could provoke backlash from Republicans. A third official said the policy was being actively debated and a decision could come within weeks, though the outcome was not yet clear. All three requested anonymity to provide details on internal conversations. The discussions, which have not been previously reported, were prompted by recent U.S. court decisions that complicate the implementation of the so-called "Title 42" border order coupled with major moves by U.S. public health officials to loosen pandemic restrictions across the United States, the officials said
10th Mar 2022 - Reuters

First Covid-19 case arrives in Aiutaki

The case is an Aitutaki resident, and the person is isolating at home. Household contacts are currently being identified and are asked to quarantine. Like Rarotonga, the population on Aitutaki is highly vaccinated and Prime Minister Mark Brown said they are prepared for this. Over the weekend 24 new cases were confirmed, bringing the total number to 130. R-A-T tests will be used to diagnose new cases in the Cook islands as is occurring in New Zealand. No additional PCR test will be required except for clinical reasons.
9th Mar 2022 - RNZ

Shanghai steps up defences against wave of asymptomatic COVID cases

The Chinese financial hub of Shanghai is moving quickly to halt the spread of COVID-19 amid a rising wave of local symptomless cases, testing tens of thousands of people, delaying dozens of concerts and exhibitions and shutting some public venues. Shanghai reported 62 domestically transmitted asymptomatic infections for Tuesday, the seventh consecutive day of increases in such cases, official data showed on Wednesday. That was the highest daily count for the city since China started in late March 2020 to classify symptomless infections separately from confirmed cases.
9th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Covid disappointments spur Africa’s homegrown vaccine makers

African countries had hoped the Covax vaccine-sharing scheme would guarantee them timely access to jabs, but a lack of regional vaccine production and a bidding war with richer, western nations meant much of the continent has been last in line for doses. According to the FT’s vaccine tracker, 73 per cent of EU residents have been fully vaccinated against Covid, compared with 13 per cent in Africa. Health authorities and scientific institutions in Africa have now set themselves a different target. By 2040 they want 60 per cent of all vaccines given on the continent to be manufactured in Africa, up from 1 per cent now.
8th Mar 2022 - Financial Times

Covid-19 cases creating burden on hospitals - minister

The number of people with Covid-19 in hospitals around the country has risen by over 30% in the last week. There were 803 Covid patients in hospital as of 8am this morning, with 51 of those in ICU. That figure is an increase of 187 compared to last Tuesday. However, it is down five on the same time yesterday, which is the first daily reduction in 10 days. The 808 people with the coronavirus in hospital on Monday, represented the highest level in six weeks, since 824 on 25 January.
8th Mar 2022 - RTE.ie

Unvaccinated Elderly Send Hong Kong’s Covid-19 Death Rate to World’s Highest

Almost a year ago, Rio Ling decided to hold off on vaccinating his 86-year-old father against the coronavirus because he was more worried about possible side effects than the virus itself, given that Hong Kong had kept cases low under its “Zero-Covid” policy. By the time he gave the go-ahead in January, after the Omicron variant had broken through the city’s defenses, it was too late. A few hours after finally receiving the inoculation in late February, Mr. Ling’s dad, who has high blood pressure and dementia, tested positive for Covid-19. Half a million people over 70 weren’t vaccinated when Omicron began surging through the city. Like other places, Hong Kong gave its elderly priority to get their shots, but persistent fears about vaccine safety, fueled by local media reports about deaths following vaccinations, and Hong Kong’s low case count led many to delay.
8th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Experts map out 'new normal' as US enters third pandemic year

As America enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and approaches the 2-year anniversary of business and school shutdowns put in place when little was known about the novel coronavirus, a group of public health experts have published a new roadmap laying out how the country can enter the "new normal" stage of the pandemic and manage the virus without eliminating it. The roadmap recommends against future school closings, suggests the United States will need to manufacture 1 billion at-home COVID-19 tests per month, and says the nation can lift pandemic restrictions when it is tallying 165 or fewer deaths per day from the virus.
7th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP


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Hard for China to Exit Covid Zero With Unprepared Hospitals

When Covid-19 flared in the northern Chinese border region of Ejin late last year, it revealed a key impediment to the country charting an exit from its zero-tolerance pandemic strategy. The healthcare system is so unprepared that any major shift away from Covid Zero -- which in China has meant frequent mass testing, swift quarantines, lockdowns and sealed international borders -- risks a public health crisis. In Ejin, home to about 30,000 in the Chinese province that borders Mongolia, several dozen infections in mid-October quickly overwhelmed the two local hospitals. Authorities had to transfer more than 140 patients by train to the provincial capital of Hohhot, over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) away, according to local media.
8th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg

Omicron infections contagious for at least 6 days; Takeda drug shows promise as COVID treatment

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. Omicron infections are contagious for at least 6 days Patients infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 remain contagious for just as long as patients infected with earlier variants, according to a small study. Researchers took blood samples from 56 newly-diagnosed patients, including 37 with Delta infections and 19 with Omicron infections. All were mildly ill, such as with flu-like symptoms, but none were hospitalized. Regardless of which variant or whether or not they had been vaccinated or boosted, study participants "shed live virus for, on average, about 6 days after symptoms (began), and... about one in four people shed live virus for over 8 days," said Dr. Amy Barczak of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who coauthored a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.
8th Mar 2022 - Reuters

COVID-19 vaccine rollout worsened existing health inequalities, study finds

The wide inequalities in COVID-19 vaccine uptake between people from ethnic minority groups and White British people are far greater than for the pre-pandemic flu jab, a study by University of Manchester health researchers has found. The findings, published in PLOS Medicine, overturns the prevailing view that ethnic inequalities in COVID-19 vaccine uptake simply follow previous trends in people's willingness to take up vaccination. Instead, the researchers suggest, the COVID-19 vaccination program has created additional and different inequalities beyond pre-existing inequalities in vaccine uptake.
7th Mar 2022 - Medical Xpress

COVID-only Minnesota hospitals had lower death rates

A Minnesota health system that established two COVID-19 patient-only hospitals early in the pandemic had lower rates of coronavirus-related death than hospitals with mixed patient cohorts, according to a study published yesterday in JAMA Network Open. University of Minnesota at Minneapolis researchers studied the outcomes of 5,504 adult COVID-19 patients treated at M Health Fairview from Mar 1, 2020, to Jun 30, 2021, from 11 hospitals, including 2 reserved for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Median patient age in the entire cohort was 62.5 years, and 51.9% were women. Of the 5,504 patients, 2,077 (37.7%) were treated at one of the two dedicated hospitals in St. Paul, and 3,427 (62.3%) were cared for at the other hospitals.
4th Mar 2022 - CIDRAP


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Hong Kong retail chains ration staples to curb COVID panic buying

Two of Hong Kong's largest consumer retail chains started rationing some food and drug items on Friday to curb panic buying that has plagued the city over the past week amid fears of a citywide lockdown as COVID-19 cases soar. Health authorities reported 52,523 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 136 deaths. This compares with about 100 infections at the start of February and a clean three-month streak of zero cases before the end of December.
6th Mar 2022 - Reuters

Ministry of Health urges caution over dropping Covid-19 case numbers

In New Zealand, there were 15,161 new community cases today, more than 3500 fewer than yesterday's total of 18,833. On Friday, it was 22,527. It is the third day running that case numbers have fallen. Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa project leader Dion O'Neale said the shift to Rapid Antigen Tests and focus on personal reponsibility in reporting cases could be throwing numbers off. Urging caution, the ministry said: "The variation in reporting numbers each day means that the rolling average of cases gives a more reliable indicator of testing trends. The seven-day rolling average of cases is today 17,272, up from 16,687 yesterday".
6th Mar 2022 - RNZ

Hong Kong Mortuaries Bring in Mobile Fridges as Deaths Surge

Hong Kong’s mortuaries are so overwhelmed they’re deploying mobile refrigeration units to store bodies, as scenes reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic play out amid the city’s worst Covid-19 wave yet. Photos taken at the Fu Shan Public Mortuary show four refrigerated units in a car park. Nearby, bags of ice are stacked next to an empty coffin. Hong Kong’s resources are straining under the pressure of a record outbreak that’s pushed its death rate to one of the highest in the world. Fatalities have been concentrated in the under-vaccinated elderly, and the spread of the virus to more than 750 care facilities – including those that are home to disabled residents – has sparked concerns of worse to come.
5th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg


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Brazil Is Now Producing Its Own Covid-19 Vaccine Doses

On Valentine’s Day, scientists in Brazil produced a special gift: the first Covid-19 vaccine doses produced fully within the country. These used active pharmaceutical ingredients from Brazil, drew on a technology-transfer agreement with AstraZeneca, and were produced in a new vaccine production facility run by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and the Immunobiological Technology Institute (Instituto de Tecnologia em Imunobiológicos, or Bio-Manguinhos). The new lab expects to produce 120 million Covid-19 doses by the middle of 2022. This would allow for one dose each for over half of Brazil’s population
3rd Mar 2022 - Forbes

Additional doses of covid-19 vaccine recommended for immunocompromised patients

Additional doses of covid-19 vaccine are recommended for immunocompromised patients, especially for organ transplant recipients who are least able to make antibodies to fight off coronavirus, say experts in The BMJ today. The findings reinforce the importance of additional doses of covid-19 vaccine to protect people with a weakened immune system. It is already known that after vaccination, people with a weakened immune system (immunocompromised) are less able to make antibodies to fight off viruses, such as influenza, than people with a healthy immune system (immunocompetent). But less is known about the response to covid-19 vaccines, particularly mRNA vaccines.
3rd Mar 2022 - News-Medical.Net

COVID-19: How ventilation, filtration, humidity prevent transmission

Researchers from the University of Oregon measured the amount of virus particles that 11 students with COVID-19 released during certain activities. The research team found higher ventilation, filtration, and humidity levels decreased the amount of virus particles in the air. Scientists believe their findings can assist building operators with creating safer indoor environments.
3rd Mar 2022 - Medical News Today

Regeneron must face patent lawsuit over COVID-19 treatment

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc on Wednesday failed to persuade a federal judge in New York to throw out a lawsuit over its alleged misuse of a patented protein to test its breakthrough COVID-19 treatment. U.S. District Judge Philip Halpern said during an oral argument that he could not grant Regeneron's request at an early stage of the case to find it immune from Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals Inc's infringement claims.
3rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

WHO sees little impact on COVID-19 vaccine supplies to Africa from Ukraine war

The World Health Organization does not expect any immediate impact on vaccine supply to Africa from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, senior officials on the continent said on Thursday. Russia's Sputnik vaccines are part of an effort by wealthier countries to plug the COVID-19 vaccine gap in Africa, but so far they remain a minimal component of imports to the continent. Russia's invasion entered its second week on Thursday and there are concerns that the focus on the war could interrupt vaccine shipments to Africa.
3rd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Why formally ending the pandemic is going to be a huge headache for the entire health care system

President Biden made it clear this week he wants to transition toward a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic — one where people are “moving forward safely, back to more normal routines,” as he said this week.
3rd Mar 2022 - STAT News


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Americans can order another round of free at-home Covid-19 tests next week

Americans can order additional free at-home Covid-19 tests supplied by the US government starting next week. "If you already ordered free tests, tonight, I'm announcing you can order another group of tests. Go to Covidtest.gov starting next week and you can get more tests," President Joe Biden said during his Tuesday State of the Union address. In January, the government launched its effort to provide free rapid antigen tests to any household that requested them through that website or by calling 800-232-0233. There was a limit of four tests per residential address.
2nd Mar 2022 - CNN

COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases and deaths start to plateau as provinces lift measures

The decline of COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations across Canada has led many provinces to aggressively lift public health restrictions — yet data shows those declines have begun to plateau. Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba ended several measures on Tuesday, including vaccination requirements for businesses and capacity limits. Other provinces, including Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, eased restrictions a day earlier, with Saskatchewan ending them entirely on Monday.
2nd Mar 2022 - Global News

India's output, exports of Russia's Sputnik vaccine at risk due to Ukraine crisis

India's production and exports of Russia's Sputnik COVID-19 vaccines are expected to slow further following U.S. sanctions on Russia's sovereign wealth fund that promotes the shot globally, three Indian pharmaceutical industry sources told Reuters. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) had billed India as one of Sputnik's biggest production hubs and markets, though local sales have stagnated at 1.2 million doses out of 1.8 billion doses of various vaccines administered in the country.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Hong Kong government urges residents spooked by citywide lockdown not to panic

Hong Kong's government said any decision to impose a COVID-19 lockdown would take into account the global financial hub's status and ensure basic needs such as food and urged anxious residents who raided supermarkets this week not to panic. The government said it was still planning and "refining" details for a compulsory mass COVID testing scheme and would announce details once they had been confirmed. The government statement, released late on Tuesday, comes amid widespread confusion and chaos with many residents fatigued and frustrated by the mixed messaging and almost daily tweaking of coronavirus rules.
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

Merck's Covid Antiviral Gets WHO Backing for High-Risk Patients

Merck & Co.’s Covid-19 antiviral pill was endorsed by a World Health Organization panel for patients in the early stages of disease who face high risk of hospitalization. The WHO panel of international experts, which looked at data from six randomized clinical trials involving more than 4,000 patients, found a moderate certainty that Merck’s molnupiravir reduces the risk of hospital admission and recovery time. The effect on mortality wasn’t so clear. The decision was published Thursday in the BMJ medical journal. Merck’s pill is used in the U.S. and U.K. to treat Covid patients at high risk of severe illness, but its mechanism of action and lesser efficacy have prompted a shift toward Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid and other drugs. U.S. National Institutes of Health guidelines specify that molnupiravir should be used only when other medications for outpatients can’t be given.
2nd Mar 2022 - Bloomberg


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Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Protected Kids During Omicron, CDC Study Finds

The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE was highly effective at reducing the risk of severe disease in children 17 years and younger during the Omicron surge but didn’t work as well at preventing infection, according to a new government study. The two-dose vaccine reduced the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization in children 5 to 11 years by 74% and by 92% or higher in children 12 to 17, according to the study published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, the vaccine was 51% effective at reducing the risk of infection among 5- to 11-year-olds, while Omicron was predominant, and between 34% and 45% effective in children 12 to 17 years, depending on the age, for the first five months after the second dose, according to the study. The vaccine was 90.7% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in the pivotal study that led to authorization. That study was conducted before Omicron emerged.
1st Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

1 million Sputnik coronavirus vaccines expire in Guatemala

Health authorities in Guatemala say over a million doses of the Russian Sputnik coronavirus vaccine have expired, because nobody wanted to take the shot. Francisco Coma, the country’s health minister, said Monday that there was a “rejection” among the population toward the vaccine, even though a lot of Guatemalans remain unvaccinated.
1st Mar 2022 - ABC News

Hong Kong mortuaries hit capacity as Covid-19 deaths climb

Facilities for storing dead bodies at hospitals and public mortuaries in Hong Kong are at maximum capacity due to a record number of Covid-19 fatalities, the Hospital Authority said on Monday, as officials battle to control a surge in cases. The global financial hub reported a daily record high of 34,466 new coronavirus infections and 87 deaths on Monday, health authorities said. Separately, the city’s Education Secretary said international schools could maintain their original term dates, after widespread confusion over summer school holidays.
1st Mar 2022 - CNBC

Fears of medical shortages and disease in Ukraine after Russian invasion

Ukraine is running low on critical medical supplies and has had to halt urgent efforts to curb a polio outbreak since Russia invaded the country last week, public health experts say. Medical needs are already acute, with the World Health Organization warning on Sunday that oxygen supplies were running out. read more On Tuesday, WHO told a briefing that some facilities already had no oxygen left. Fears of a wider public health crisis are growing as people flee their homes, health services are interrupted and supplies fail to reach Ukraine, which has also been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic
1st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Indonesia extends AstraZeneca vaccine shelf life as 6 mln doses near expiry

Indonesia has extended the shelf life of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine to nine months, as nearly six million doses it received in donations approached their expiration dates, a health ministry spokesperson told Reuters. The decision underscores the challenges many developing countries face in their slow inoculation campaigns, as vaccines donated by wealthy countries arrive with a relatively short shelf life of just a few months or weeks
1st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Study: 90% of young ECMO-eligible COVID patients at a US hospital died amid rationing

Nearly 90% of adult COVID-19 patients who were eligible for—but didn't receive—extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) during the height of the pandemic died in the hospital owing to a lack of resources, even though they were young and had few underlying health issues, according to a natural experiment published late last week in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
28th Feb 2022 - CIDRAP


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S. Korea drops proof of vaccine, test to aid virus response

South Korea will no longer require people to show proof of vaccination or negative tests to enter any indoor space starting Tuesday, removing a key preventive measure during a fast-developing omicron surge that’s elevating hospitalizations and deaths. The Health Ministry’s announcement on Monday came as the country set another one-day record in COVID-19 deaths with 114, breaking the previous high of 112 set on Saturday. More than 710 COVID-19 patients were in critical or serious conditions, up from 200-300 in mid-February, while nearly half of the country’s intensive care units designated for COVID-19 were occupied. Park Hyang, a senior health ministry official, said rescinding the “anti-epidemic pass” would free more health workers to help monitor nearly 800,000 virus patients with mild or moderate symptoms who have been asked to isolate at home to save hospital space.
1st Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

Nearly third more Covid deaths among England’s poorest since turn of the year

At least 30 per cent more coronavirus deaths have occurred in the most deprived areas of England since the turn of the year, data shows, reinforcing concern that the poorest communities will carry the greatest burden of disease under the government’s plans for “living with Covid”. Of the 7,053 deaths registered in the six weeks after 1 January, 1,589 (22.5 per cent) were from the most deprived 20 per cent of the country, compared to 1,188 (16.8 per cent) in the least deprived 20 per cent. Ministers have been warned that these disparities will only widen as the government scales back free testing and mandated isolation, and removes sick payments for those ill with Covid.
1st Mar 2022 - The Independent

USAID boosts Jamaica's push to get COVID-19 vaccines to private health facilities

In Jamaica, eight private entities in the health sector have signed grants totalling US$600,000 with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue the roll-out of the health ministry's outsourcing of COVID-19 vaccines. The ministry is trying to administer 75,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines through private entities. So far, approximately 17,000 doses have been given outside of the public health system, state minister for health Juliet Cuthbert Flynn noted during a signing ceremony
28th Feb 2022 - The Jamaica Observer

Vaccination very essential, will help combat 4th Covid wave, UNICEF advisor says

Though the chances of severity in children infected with Covid-19 is very low, vaccination is very essential and it would help combat the fourth wave, said Dr Mrudula Phadke, senior advisor to Government of Maharashtra and UNICEF on Child Health. Speaking about Multiple Inflammatory Syndrome of Children, a syndrome that affects almost every organ, she said “Only 1 in 10,000 children may experience severe disease on being infected with Covid-19. But there is a condition called MIS-C, where almost every organ is affected. Hence our children should be vaccinated,” she insisted.
28th Feb 2022 - Deccan Herald

Covid-19 pills will ‘allow UK to fully reopen economy’ as pandemic impacts weigh

Landmark Covid-19 pills will “allow the UK to fully reopen its economy”, according to analysts, as the impacts of the pandemic continue to weigh on the economy. Companies including famed vaccine maker Pfizer, which has won regulatory approval for its Paxlovid pill, and Merck, have revolutionized the global immunisation process with antiviral pills. “The acceleration of the roll out of new accessible medications against Covid-19 is expected to have a meaningful impact in terms of our ability to move beyond the pandemic and will help us to learn to live with the disease in the background,” Manx Financial Group CEO Douglas Grant told Business Matters. “Easy-to-take medication will be a catalyst for the return to business as usual and help remove these damaging blockages, unleashing a sector that is desperate to grow.” Grant added that it is “particularly good news for the UK’s SMEs” who have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic, and its longer-lasting impacts of rising costs of goods, utilities and labour, as inflation teeters on a 30-year high.
28th Feb 2022 - Business Matters

Agong encourages people to take Covid-19 booster shots

The process of transitioning Malaysia from the Covid-19 pandemic stage into endemicity must be made carefully although the country is increasingly ready to make such a transition. Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah cited several indicators which show that the country is ready to transition into the endemic phase. Among the indicators include the Nikkei Asia Covid-19 Recovery Index which ranked Malaysia at 13th spot out of 122 countries around the world. Al-Sultan Abdullah also noted that the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP) has helped to inoculate 98 per cent of the adult population in the country.
28th Feb 2022 - New Straits Times

Covid-19: Is the government dismantling pandemic systems too hastily?

A last minute row over funding for free covid testing between the Treasury and the Department of Health and Social Care for England nearly derailed the government’s “living with covid” strategy launch last week.1 But the Cabinet eventually signed off drastic cuts to the estimated £15.7bn (€18.7bn; $21bn) testing budget as a key plank of the prime minister’s plan to scrap all remaining covid regulations in England. Duncan Robertson, a policy and strategy analytics academic at Loughborough University, told The BMJ that the latest row over ending restrictions showed that the “false equivalence of the virus versus the economy” was still rearing its head almost two years into the pandemic, even though it is known that “once people are infected, they can’t go to work, and the economy suffers.” It remains to be seen whether the right balance has now been struck and whether the short term gains to the exchequer from letting the public shoulder more responsibility for fighting SARS-CoV-2 are going to pay off, with long term benefits to health and society as a whole.
28th Feb 2022 - The BMJ


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Arizona health agency reduces frequency of pandemic updates

Arizona’s public health agency on Saturday provided its last planned daily update of the state’s coronavirus dashboard of pandemic data such as additional COVID-19 cases, new deaths and hospitalization levels. The state Department of Health Services announced Feb. 18 that it would switch to weekly dashboard updates starting next Wednesday because the outbreak is slowing and to be consistent with other infectious disease that are reported. “It also will provide a clearer view of COVID-19 trends by smoothing the variability in daily reporting by labs and other sources,” the department’s announcement said.
27th Feb 2022 - Associated Press

How covid-19 has exposed the weaknesses in rural healthcare

Rural regions made vulnerable by limited healthcare infrastructure, lower rates of vaccination, and opposition to government policies are the new frontlines in the pandemic. Yet support systems have not adjusted to the growing rural needs for health education, testing, vaccination, and treatment. Michael Forster Rothbart, Kata Karáth, and Lungelo Ndhlovu report from the US, Ecuador, and Zimbabwe
25th Feb 2022 - The BMJ


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Africa CDC Urges Vaccine Donors to Stagger Deliveries of Shots

The African Union’s public health agency urged Covid-19 vaccine donors to help ensure that the distribution of shots is aligned with take-up so that all of them are used. “We have not asked them to pause the donations, but to coordinate with us so that the new donations arrive in a way so that countries can use them,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a webinar Thursday. “This is very different from saying don’t donate at all.”
24th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Novavax starts shipping COVID vaccine to EU states

Novavax Inc said on Wednesday it had started shipping doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to European Union member states, with France, Austria and Germany expected to be the first to receive the shots in the coming days. Shipments of Nuvaxovid to additional EU member states from the company's Netherlands distribution center are expected to quickly follow, adding to the stockpile of the region as it struggles with a surge in infections due to the Omicron variant.
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters


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WHO plans second hub for training countries to make COVID vaccines

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday it has set up a hub in South Korea to train low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines and therapies, and is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine project to a further five nations. The new training hub comes after the U.N. agency set up a technology transfer hub in Cape Town, South Africa, last year to give companies from poor and middle-income countries the know-how to produce COVID-19 vaccines based on mRNA technology. The new hub outside Seoul will provide workforce training to all countries wishing to produce products such as vaccines, insulin, monoclonal antibodies, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press briefing.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Moderna, Thermo Fisher partner to manufacture COVID vaccine, other drugs

Moderna Inc has entered into a long-term agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific for the manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine and other experimental medicines based on mRNA technology, the companies said on Wednesday. Thermo Fisher had already partnered with Moderna last year to help scale up production of its COVID vaccine, branded as Spikevax. As a part of the 15-year expanded deal, Thermo Fisher would provide dedicated manufacturing capacity in the United States for fill/finish services as well as labeling and packaging services for Spikevax and other mRNA drugs in Moderna's pipeline.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Deutsche Telekom to build global COVID vaccine verification app for WHO

The World Health Organization has signed a contract with Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Systems to build a software solution for global electronic verification of coronavirus vaccination certificates, the telecoms company said. The QR code-based software solution will be used for other vaccinations as well, such as polio or yellow fever, T-Systems said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that the WHO would support its 194 member states in building national and regional verification technology. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. "Health is a strategic growth area for T-Systems," said T-Systems Chief Executive Officer Adel Al-Saleh.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

EU countries agree to admit travellers vaccinated with WHO-approved shots

European Union countries agreed on Tuesday to open their borders to travellers from outside the bloc who have had shots against COVID-19 authorised by the World Health Organization, easing restrictions on those who received Indian and Chinese vaccines. The EU has so far authorised vaccines produced by Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca (when produced in Europe), Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. In addition to these shots, the WHO has also approved the vaccines produced by Chinese makers Sinopharm and Sinovac and by Indian company Bharat Biotech
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Covid cost-cutting will put blinkers on our best Covid research

After a bruising two years i