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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 22nd Sep 2020

News Highlights

Taj Mahal reopens in India despite rise in cases across the country

A Chinese national and a visitor from Delhi were the first to enter the Taj Mahal, finally open to the public after six months, despite authorities reporting close to 87,000 new coronavirus cases across India. Tickets to the monument are only being sold online and less than 300 people bought tickets on the first day, despite daily visitors being capped at 5,000. An average of 20,000 people used to visit the Taj Mahal every day before the pandemic.

Lowest virus count in three months for Australia but restrictions to continue

Australia reported only 16 new coronavirus infections and two new deaths on Monday, the smallest daily rise in infections in almost three months. However, health authorities in the hardest hit state of Victoria, which has been under some form of restriction since the second wave hit in July, said that curbs could not be eased and that much work remains to be done.

Flu season starts in U.S. as pandemic shows no sign of letting up

The U.S. is closing in on the grim milestone of 200,000 Covid-19 deaths and that number is set to rise higher as the annual flu season sets in shortly. The country is losing close to 800 people a day to the virus and reporting an average of 40,000 new infections a day. The numbers are set to rise with the colder weather forcing people indoors and with the virus raging uniformly across the country, rather than just in a few hotspots, as was the case earlier in the year.

Vaccine news: 156 countries agree to 'Covax' vaccine allocation deal

According to a statement from GAVI, the vaccine alliance, a $18 billion initiative to deploy Covid-19 vaccines to most vulnerable populations around the world is moving into the next phase with 156 countries having agreed to a deal. The vaccine allocation plan, known as 'Covax,' is being co-led by the World Health Organization, and it has been set up to both ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine among the world's richest countries and to countries in the developing world. China and the USA have opted out of the deal.

Lockdown Exit
U.S. faces a smoldering COVID-19 pandemic nationwide as flu season starts
As the United States approaches the miserable mark of 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus, the pandemic is no longer focused on one or two epicenters. Instead it is smoldering across all states, raising fears that when colder weather forces more people inside, it could surpass the surge seen in the summer. The United States is losing on average over 800 people a day to the virus - compared with fewer than 15 a day on average in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy and the United Kingdom. Although new cases are down about 50% from the peak in July, the United States is still reporting on average nearly 40,000 new infections a day - the highest number in the developed world.
Coronavirus: cautious Italians return to football stadiums | News
A thousand fans will be allowed into Italian football stadiums for top-flight games this month, marking a cautious return to normality in Europe’s first coronavirus hotspot. The move is significant, given that a Champions League match hosted by Atalanta in Bergamo in February was blamed for helping to trigger northern Italy’s devastating outbreak.
Spain’s Andalucia sees second-deadliest COVID-19 figures since end of lockdown
ANDALUCIA has registered 812 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours and 14 deaths. It is the second-deadliest 24 hours in the post-lockdown period after last Thursday, which counted 25 deaths. According to the Junta, the majority of the deaths have been in Malaga, where nine were counted on Monday, then Cordoba with two and Almeria, Cadiz and Sevilla registering one each
Coronavirus: No crowds as Taj Mahal reopens despite surge in cases across India
India reopened the Taj Mahal after six months on Monday, with the first visitors trickling into the famous monument as authorities reported 86,961 new coronavirus infections across the country, with no signs of a peak yet. The white marble tomb in the city of Agra, built by a 17th-century Mughal emperor for his wife, was opened to the public at sunrise, and a Chinese national and a visitor from Delhi were among the first to enter. Daily visitor numbers have been capped at 5,000, versus an average of 20,000 before the pandemic. Tickets are only being sold online, with fewer than 300 bought on the first day. Visitors will have their temperatures taken and must adhere to advice to keep a safe distance from each other.
Seoul schools resume in-person classes as South Korea coronavirus cases dip
Schools in the South Korean capital Seoul and nearby areas resumed in-person classes for the first time in almost a month on Monday after daily coronavirus cases dropped to the lowest levels since mid-August. Students returned to schools under a hybrid schedule of in-person and online classes to limit the number of people at schools at any given time. Students will attend in-person classes once or twice a week.
Relief as much of New Zealand eases out of coronavirus restrictions
Ardern eases NZ coronavirus lockdown as new mystery case investigatedSydney Morning HeraldNew Zealand lockdown: Jacinda Ardern announces lifting of all restrictions outside AucklandThe IndependentJacinda Ardern announces New Zealand to ease coronavirus restrictions againABC News‘Mystery’ COVID cases have New Zealand contact tracers stumpedThe New DailyView Full coverage on Google News
India's Taj Mahal gets first visitors even as coronavirus infections climb
India reopened its famed monument to love, the Taj Mahal, with the first visitors trickling in on Monday, as authorities reported 86,961 new coronavirus infections, with no signs of a peak yet. A Chinese national and a visitor from Delhi were among the first to step into the white marble tomb built by a 17th-century Mughal emperor for his wife when it opened at sunrise, ending six months of closure. Daily visitor numbers have been capped at 5,000, versus an average of 20,000 before the pandemic. Tickets are only being sold online, with fewer than 300 bought on the first day.
Exit Strategies
Greece extends negative COVID-19 test rule for Russians until October 5
Greece extended by two weeks until Oct. 5 a rule requiring visitors from Russia to provide a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country, its civil aviation authority said on Monday. The previous rule, which came into effect on Sept. 7, was due to expire at midnight on Monday.
Are German schools prepared for a winter lockdown?
Winter is coming, and with it the possibility of the next wave of corona infections. But Germany's schools ready for another lockdown - a return to stay-at-home learning and online-classes? Deutsche Welle visits one Berlin school to find out.
EXCLUSIVE-EU in early talks with Italy's ReiThera over potential vaccine supply deal -source
Italian biotech ReiThera is in early talks with the European Union about supplying the bloc with its potential COVID-19 vaccine, a source close to the company said, the latest attempt by Brussels to secure shots as the fight against the pandemic intensifies. The discussions come as Brussels seeks to raise more money to shore up supplies of potential inoculations amid concerns demand next year might exceed supply. The talks with ReiThera, which is developing a vaccine together with Germany's Leukocare and Belgium's Univercells, means the European Commission is now speaking with seven vaccine makers including Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N, Moderna MRNA.O, Pfizer PFE.N and CureVac CVAC.O about possible supply deals.
China keeps guard up with travel warning
China is keeping its guard up ahead of the biggest holiday season since it largely brought the coronavirus outbreak under control. China has asked its 1.4 billion residents to avoid unnecessary travel abroad during the week-long national holiday starting on Oct 1, which will be a major test of the country's ability to prevent a renewed outbreak of Covid-19. Large parts of the country went into lockdown during the Lunar New Year holiday, but weak domestic consumption is expected to rebound during the so-called Golden Week, usually the peak season for tourism and entertainment industries.
Ardern eases NZ coronavirus lockdown as new mystery case investigated
New Zealand authorities have announced coronavirus lockdown measures will be wound back, though health authorities are scrambling to investigate the source of three new mystery cases in Auckland. Auckland will move to level two restrictions, which requires physical distancing, face masks on public transport and no more than 100 people at social gatherings, from 11.59pm on Wednesday. The rest of the country will move to level 1 restrictions, which impose no limits on domestic travel or social gatherings, from 11.59pm on Monday night.
New Zealand ends all pandemic restrictions outside main...
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday lifted all coronavirus restrictions across the country, except in second-wave hotspot Auckland, as the number of new infections slowed to a trickle. Some restrictions were also eased in Auckland to allow gatherings of up to 100 people, but the country's biggest city needed more time before all curbs could be lifted, Ardern said. "Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control," she told reporters in Auckland. "This was the centre of the outbreak and that's why that caution is needed here."
New Zealand lockdown: Jacinda Ardern announces lifting of all restrictions outside Auckland
New Zealand ’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has announced the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions except in its largest city, Auckland. Residents in much of the country will be allowed to meet and move freely from Tuesday after no new infections were confirmed over the last 24 hours.
Coronavirus: New Zealand lifts restrictions as cases peter out
Most of New Zealand will be free of coronavirus restrictions from midnight (local time), Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, confirmed today. Auckland will move to a level two lockdown from Thursday, allowing public gatherings of up to 100 people. The move puts New Zealand on target for elimination of the virus rather than suppression. “Analysis completed for the Ministry of Health suggests that by the end of this month there is still a 50-50 chance of having eliminated Covid once again,” the prime minister said.
New Zealand ends all pandemic restrictions outside main city of Auckland
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday lifted all coronavirus restrictions across the country, except in second-wave hotspot Auckland, as the number of new infections slowed to a trickle. Some restrictions were also eased in Auckland to allow gatherings of up to 100 people, but the country’s biggest city needed more time before all curbs could be lifted, Ardern said. “Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control,” she told reporters in Auckland. “This was the centre of the outbreak and that’s why that caution is needed here.”
Partisan Exits
France’s vaccine hesitancy hangs over coronavirus response
As governments are putting their hopes on a vaccine to stop the coronavirus — and restart the economy — one country might face more difficulties than others. France has one of the lowest vaccine confidence rates in the world, according to a Lancet study published earlier this month. French people who are hesitant about vaccines shouldn’t be dismissed as kooky conspiracy theorists who rant about Bill Gates and 5G all day, experts say — at least not all of them. But vaccine skeptics represent a sizable chunk of the French public, big enough to hinder a vaccination campaign when a vaccine against the coronavirus will be on the market.
Coronavirus: Demonstrations in Madrid ahead of Monday's tough new lockdown measures
Protesters have taken to the streets of Madrid to demonstrate against strict new lockdown measures which have come into force. Thousands of men, women and children rallied in the southern districts of the Spanish capital.
Government 'could face backbench resistance' if trying to push through second lockdown
The government could face resistance from its own backbenchers if it tries to force through a second lockdown, a senior Tory has warned. Conservative MP Sir Graham Brady indicated ministers could have a revolt on their hands if they try to introduce new lockdown measures without proper scrutiny in Parliament. Boris Johnson spent the weekend considering whether to introduce a second coronavirus lockdown in England. He is reportedly considering a two-week mini lockdown, according to the BBC.
China’s Attempt to Steer Covid Narrative in TV Drama Backfires
Backlash against a new Chinese television drama about its fight against Covid-19 underscores the challenges facing Beijing as it attempts to steer the narrative about its handling of the pandemic. Eight episodes of the propaganda series “Heroes in Harm’s Way” have aired since Thursday on state broadcaster China Central Television, and were criticized on Chinese social media. That included calls for the 14-episode series to be pulled from the air, with people saying it minimized women’s contributions to containing the virus and failed to reflect the hardship endured by medical workers.
Coronavirus Australia: John Farnham slams anti-lockdown protesters
John Farnham’s long-time manager has lashed the “offensive” use of one of the music legend’s best-known anthems during an anti-lockdown flash mob demonstration on Sunday afternoon. Protests against Victoria’s ongoing coronavirus restrictions were held for the third consecutive weekend on Saturday and Sunday, with organisers vowing “the big one” would be held at a secret location on Sunday at 1pm. The location – which ended up being Chadstone shopping centre in Melbourne’s southeast – was only revealed half an hour beforehand in a bid to dodge police following a string of arrests at Saturday’s rally at Elsternwick Park.
Protesters say localised lockdowns in Madrid discriminate against poor
Protesters in some poorer areas of Madrid that are facing lockdown to stem a soaring COVID-19 infection rate took to the streets on Sunday to call for better health provisions, complaining of discrimination by the authorities. Madrid’s regional government on Friday ordered a lockdown from Monday in some of the poorer areas of the city and its outskirts that are home to about 850,000 people after a surge in coronavirus cases there. The lockdown measures predominantly apply to areas of lower income and with higher immigrant populations. Peaceful protests were held in 12 of the 37 districts affected on Sunday. About 600 people demonstrated in the southern district of Vallecas, which has one of the highest infection rates in the Spanish capital - about six times higher than that of Chamberi, a wealthy area in the north of the city, according to regional government figures.
Police clash with protesters at anti-lockdown demonstration in London
More than a thousand people gathered in central London on Saturday to protest against lockdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, before the event was broken up by police. The protest, which led to 32 arrests, came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering whether to reimpose some lockdown restrictions across England. Demonstrators carried banners saying “Covid is a hoax” and “My body, my choice: No to mandatory masks”, as well as chanting at police: “Choose your side”.
Continued Lockdown
Coronavirus: Australia set for lowest daily infections in months - as it says Europe serves as a warning
Australia appears to be heading for its lowest daily increase in coronavirus cases in three months, as a state leader said infection spikes in Europe served as a warning about the dangers of exiting lockdown too soon. In the country's virus epicentre, Victoria, some of the toughest lockdown restrictions in the world were imposed in the city of Melbourne after a spike in cases last month.
Daniel Andrews is urged to end Victoria's lockdown
Daniel Andrews is being urged to relax lockdown restrictions ahead of schedule after Victoria recorded only 11 new cases of coronavirus on Monday. It's the lowest number of new daily cases since mid-June - but the premier's road map plans to keep Melbourne shut down until at least 26 October. Asked if the timeline would be brought forward, Mr Andrews said he would be 'guided by common sense' but insisted that 'it is too early for us to open up.'
Favourite Aussie summer hot spots about to get even more crowded
Just 13 weeks out from Christmas, Australians are planning family holidays not just domestically, but without leaving their own state borders. And some of Australia's most popular destinations could become even more crowded this summer, as Aussies close out their year from hell with much-needed local breaks.
Why harsh COVID-19 lockdowns are good for the economy
It has been a pile-on for the past few months as Team Australia has splintered right down the political divide. Border closures in Western Australia and Queensland have been called out as unnecessary while the Victorian lockdown has been labelled an overreaction that has angered business leaders and drawn the ire of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The restrictions, we are constantly told, are costing the nation dearly, delaying a return to normal activity and pushing out the timetable for an economic recovery.
Dash for bigger homes pushes up September asking prices, Rightmove says
Surging activity in Britain’s housing market nudged up asking prices for homes in September, as buyers sought larger properties following the coronavirus lockdown, a survey showed on Monday. Property website Rightmove estimated there were almost 40% more sales moving through the pipeline than a year ago, chiming with other surveys that show a post-lockdown surge in the market, helped by a temporary cut in property tax. Rightmove said asking prices rose 0.2% in September, reversing August’s decline. The national average asking price now stands at 319,996 pounds ($415,642), up 5.0% on a year ago.
Australia heads for lowest virus count in three months
Australia reported on Monday its smallest daily increase in new coronavirus infections in more than three months, but authorities in the nation’s virus hotspot of Victoria said they could not hasten the easing of curbs. The 16 new infections are Australia’s smallest daily jump since June 14, while two additional deaths were reported. “This light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer every day,” Nick Coatsworth, the chief deputy medical officer told reporters in Canberra, the capital.
Scientific Viewpoint
CDC develops new nasal swab to test for coronavirus and flu
Receiving a coronavirus and flu test may soon be a one-stop-shop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed and approved a swab that will test for influenza A, influenza B, and the coronavirus all at the same time. The question now is supply, and whether or not testing sites will be able to use on a large scale. Dr. William Epperson, Tidelands Health director of primary care, says when they usually test for influenza, they swab the nose to get the sample to determine if it’s ‘A’ or ‘B.’ Epperson notes it’s uncomfortable and a bother to do the swab again for a COVID-19, so the CDC came up with the multiplex test to have one sample for everything.
Coronavirus: Medical and science experts outline four ways we can help beat COVID-19
England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance have outlined four ways to beat coronavirus as we head into winter. The pair reiterated some key public health messages amid fears the virus could spiral out of control and result in 49,000 cases a day by mid-October. The four ways include limiting the spread, limiting social contact and following self-isolation guidelines.
What COVID-19 Does to the Heart
Last Monday, when I called the cardiologist Amy Kontorovich in the late morning, she apologized for sounding tired. “I’ve been in my lab infecting heart cells with SARS-CoV-2 since 6 a.m. this morning,” she said. That might seem like an odd experiment for a virus that spreads through the air, and primarily infects the lungs and airways. But SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, can also damage the heart. That much was clear in the early months of the pandemic, when some COVID-19 patients would be hospitalized with respiratory problems and die from heart failure. “Cardiologists have been thinking about this since March,” said Kontorovich, who is based at Mount Sinai. “Data have been trickling in.”
'She was left with no one': how UK mental health deteriorated during Covid
When Lily Gardiner’s sister took her own life at the end of July, Gardiner was left feeling as though her sister’s mental health struggles and death had gone unnoticed during the pandemic. The loss is even harder for Gardiner (not her real name) to bear, given that in February her sister’s life seemed back on track. After she experienced paranoid delusions and was sectioned in 2019, she had been discharged, was on medication and had regular support from mental health services. That disappeared when lockdown set in.
Germany’s top virologist doesn't envisage a second national lockdown
Another Germany-wide coronavirus lockdown is unlikely to happen, according to country’s most prominent virologist. Christian Drosten, the professor who spearheaded coronavirus-test development at Berlin’s Charité Hospital, told the German Press Agency even if the coronavirus situation in Germany worsens, another lockdown like the strict one in spring this year is not inevitable. "You don't always need a Germany-wide or regional lockdown because we already know some things better," said Drosten. However, he believes that some areas of work and personal life could face new restrictions, adding that Germany should not think it will escape a rise in infections like other EU countries.
As more local lockdowns begin, the hard truth is there's no return to 'normal'
As a scientist, I’m often asked what to do and what not to do, and how to cope in this new uncertain world. Here is my advice on how best to enjoy life and get as much normality back while being a responsible citizen. My main advice is to get outside as much as possible when seeing other people. Research has shown that 97% of “super-spreading” events occur indoors, and that outdoor transmission is minimal. If an indoor setting is poorly ventilated, crowded and no one is wearing face coverings, it is best to avoid it. The upshot is that non-essential shops, outdoor hospitality and public transport look relatively safe with the use of face coverings. Now is the time to avoid non-essential travel and to visit nearby parks, and support your local businesses.
UK at critical point in COVID pandemic, top medical adviser says
Britain is at a critical point in the COVID-19 pandemic and faces a very challenging winter, one of the government’s top medical advisers will warn at a public briefing on Monday. Cases in Britain are on the increase in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson has labelled a second wave of the virus, with large areas of the country subject to restrictions on social freedom and London expected to be next in line. “The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic,” England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is expected to say in an address set for 1000 GMT on Monday.
'Landmark moment': 156 countries agree to Covid vaccine allocation deal
A coalition of 156 countries has agreed a “landmark” deal to enable the rapid and equitable global distribution of any new coronavirus vaccines to 3% of participating countries’ populations, to protect vulnerable healthcare systems, frontline health workers and those in social care settings. The Covid-19 vaccine allocation plan – co-led by the World Health Organization and known as Covax – has been set up to ensure that the research, purchase and distribution of any new vaccine is shared equally between the world’s richest countries and those in the developing world. Sixty-four higher income economies have already joined Covax, which includes commitments from 35 economies as well as the European commission, which will procure doses on behalf of the 27 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland, with 38 more expected to join in the coming days.
Vallance: Covid vaccine doses may be available for some by end of year
A few doses of an effective Covid vaccine may be available for use before the end of the year, Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific adviser has said – but it is far more likely that any such breakthrough will happen during the first six months of 2021. Vallance, charged with delivering the good news at the end of the dire warnings from himself and Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, said the UK was in a good position, with orders for vaccines from a range of companies. Whichever approach to a vaccine succeeds – there are four main technologies being employed in prototypes around the world – the government will be able to access one that works. But he was not able to say which one it would be or exactly when. “There is good progress being made,” Vallance said. “Many vaccines now have shown they generate an immune response of a type that ought to be protective, and several vaccines are in very late stage clinical testing, aiming to show that they are both effective and safe.
Coronavirus vaccine: why it's important to know what’s in the placebo
Some researchers conducting clinical trials on a COVID-19 vaccine have not revealed to the public what the placebo contains, but they should. This is because the placebo ingredients influence how effective or harmful the active treatment, with which the placebo is compared, appears. Our new guideline published in PLOS Medicine remedies this problem by providing a template for reporting what’s in placebo controls. In some COVID-19 vaccine trials, participants in the control group (the group receiving a placebo) are injected with a saline solution. In other trials, they receive an actual treatment. For example, in the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford, the control group receives a meningitis and septicaemia vaccine as a placebo.
Bill Gates predicts the US will have a COVID-19 vaccine by early 2021
Bill Gates says he believes the FDA will approve a coronavirus vaccine for emergency use authorization by early 2021. Because of the level of collaboration between drugmakers, Gates says between two and four candidates might prove to be safe and effective. He says how many people get vaccinate, and how many people wear masks, will determine how quickly the pandemic ends. Gates adds that the crisis has caused other setbacks including rising routine immunization rates and increasing rates of extreme poverty
GSK to supply up to 300m doses of Covid vaccine
A drugs giant has signed an agreement with the European Commission (EC) for the supply of up to 300 million doses of a Covid vaccine, once the drug is approved. The vaccine candidate is based on technology used by pharmaceutical company Sanofi to produce an influenza vaccine, and adjuvant technology, used by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which has a factory on Harmire Road, in Barnard Castle. This final agreement confirms the announcement made on July 31 by both companies and marks a key milestone in protecting European populations against Covid-19.
We will not have a coronavirus vaccine by November.
“I think there will be a vaccine that will initially be available sometime between November and December,” Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday. There were some caveats—there would be a ”very limited supply,” which would “have to be prioritized” for health care workers and high-risk folks. The public, said Redfield, might get this vaccine sometime next year. But still: a vaccine, available in November.
AstraZeneca Has Lost The Lead In Race For Coronavirus Vaccine, Says SVB Leerink
AstraZeneca plc's prospects at being the first mover in the competition to develop a coronavirus vaccine have dimmed, according to an analyst at SVB Leerink. The AstraZeneca Analyst: Andrew Berens has an Outperform rating on AstraZeneca with a $65 price target. The AstraZeneca Takeaways: The clinical trial hold on AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine candidate AZD1222, which remains in place other than in the U.K., and the relatively higher number of COVID-19 cases needed for an interim analysis suggest the British drug maker may have ceded the lead, Berens said in a Monday note. This means AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate may not be the first to receive emergency use authorization, the analyst said.
World Health Organization unveils plan for distributing coronavirus vaccine, urges cooperation
The World Health Organization on Monday urged more wealthy countries to join its vaccine agreement — and provided details about how a vaccine, when it is developed, will be doled out. More than 150 countries, representing 64 percent of the world’s population, have agreed to participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, which aims to develop and distribute $2 billion in doses of a vaccine by the end of next year. Under the plan, rich and poor countries pool money to provide manufacturers with volume guarantees for a slate of vaccine candidates. The idea is to discourage hoarding and focus on vaccinating high-risk people in every participating country first.
Global Covid Vaccine Plan Moves Ahead, Without China for Now
An $18 billion initiative to deploy future Covid-19 vaccines around the world is moving into the next phase with 156 countries and regions taking part in the program, but China joining the U.S. on the sidelines, at least for now. While China wasn’t on the list, 38 governments are expected to sign up in the coming days, according to a statement Monday from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The group is leading the effort, Covax, along with the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. The U.S. has said it won’t participate.
More than 150 nations join global vaccine plan, but US and China absent
Trump administration has already secured supplies through bilateral deals, prompting accusations of selfish behaviour to the detriment of poor countries Vaccine alliance officials say dialogue continues with Beijing on scheme to deliver 2 billion doses around the world by end of 2021
Philippines expects to approve Covid vaccine Q2 2021
The Philippines’ purchase and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines can only be made starting the second quarter of 2021 as delays hit the review of possible candidates, an official said. This is a “practical and realistic timeline” as vaccines will go through registration then clinical trials for a number of months, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says in a virtual briefing. The nation’s Food and Drug Administration has committed to cut the approval process by almost two weeks, she said. The government is still waiting for Russia’s Sputnik V clinical trial data for review, while the trial for potential Covid treatment Avigan, previously set to start Aug. 17, is also pending approval.
Trump hints that PFIZER's coronavirus vaccine could be the first to be approved in the US with Johnson & Johnson's coming 'a little later'
President Trump said in Moonday Fox interview that Pfizer's vaccine is 'doing really well.' His vaccine czar, Dr Moncef Slaoui said that the most 'susceptible' Americans could get COVID-19 shots by December. Pfizer has said it expects to know whether its vaccine works safely by October, and President Trump is gunning for a shot to be approved before Election Day
Coronavirus: Only one in 10 to be protected from COVID-19 in first year of vaccine use
Just one in 10 of the world's population is likely to be protected against COVID-19 in the first year of a vaccine being made available, experts have told Sky News. Analysis of global manufacturing capacity shows just two billion doses could be made in 2021, even if a vaccine was given the green light by safety regulators at the start of the year. But with seven of the nine prototype vaccines in late-stage clinical trials requiring two doses, that's likely to be enough to immunise only a little over 12% of the 7.8 billion people who need it.
Coronavirus: Care homes 'widely exposed' as COVID-19 'begins to move in'
Care homes are still "widely exposed" to coronavirus as it starts spreading within them again, a trade association boss has said. Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, said many of her members are "extremely concerned" at government guidance on how care homes should prepare for winter amid warnings of a COVID-19 second spike. She told Sky News the challenge they faced at the start of the pandemic "continues".
Coronavirus Resurgence
Covid-19: Public gives mixed reactions to increase in Covid cases
Following warnings from the government's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, the public express concern about a potential further lockdown. In an announcement on Monday he said the UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October without further action. It comes as the PM prepares to chair a Cobra emergency committee meeting on Tuesday morning, then make a statement in the House of Commons.
Covid-19: UK could face 50,000 cases a day by October without action - Vallance
The UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October without further action, the government's chief scientific adviser has warned. Sir Patrick Vallance said that would be expected to lead to about "200-plus deaths per day" a month after that. It comes as the PM prepares to chair a Cobra emergency committee meeting on Tuesday morning, then make a statement in the House of Commons. On Monday, a further 4,368 daily cases were reported in the UK, up from 3,899. A further 11 people have also died within 28 days of a positive test, although these figures tend to be lower over the weekend and on Mondays due to reporting delays. Speaking at Downing Street alongside chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick stressed the figures given were not a prediction, but added: "At the moment we think the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days.
The UK's doubling coronavirus cases mean Boris Johnson can't wake up from his Covid-19 nightmare
The number of coronavirus cases in the UK is doubling roughly every seven days, according to the country's chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance. If that rate continues to grow unabated, "by mid-October you would end up with something like 50,000 per day," which "could lead to 200 deaths a day" by November, Vallance warned at a Monday press briefing. "If we don't act, the virus will take off," Vallance's colleague Chris Whitty, the UK's chief medical officer, told the same briefing in Downing Street. "That is the path we are on and if we do not change course, we will find ourselves in a difficult problem." The advisors' comments have fueled speculation that the government is preparing the ground for a second national lockdown, or other hard measures, in order to get cases back to a sustainable level. "In ... the next six months, I think we have to realize that we have to take this collectively very seriously," Whitty said, adding that the country had turned a corner "in a bad sense."
UK ponders second COVID-19 lockdown as outbreak accelerates
Britain will face an exponentially growing death rate from COVID-19 within weeks unless urgent action is taken to halt a rapidly spreading second wave of the outbreak, the country’s senior medics said on Monday. The United Kingdom already has the biggest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe - and the fifth largest in the world - while it is borrowing record amounts in an attempt to pump emergency money through the damaged economy. But new COVID-19 cases are rising by at least 6,000 per day in Britain, according to week-old data, hospital admissions are doubling every eight days, and the testing system is buckling.
UK in 'last chance saloon' to avoid second lockdown amid warning coronavirus restrictions 'may last up to six months'
The UK is said to be in the "last chance saloon" to avoid new coronavirus lockdown restrictions amid warnings the measures could last up to six months. Boris Johnson is expected to give the UK one final chance to prove it can follow the existing rules and avoid a second lockdown, the Telegraph reports. The Prime Minister is expected to set out new measures in a press conference as early as Tuesday after a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases across the UK.
Tourists in Croatia Help Feed Covid-19 Surge Across Europe
Croatia was a rare European country to bring daily new Covid-19 cases to zero back in May. Now it has become an example of how summer tourism triggered a second wave of infections sweeping much of the continent. The fall from poster boy to hot spot came after the government, motivated by economic concerns, decided to open the coastal nation’s borders early this summer and woo the foreign tourists who have been a pillar of its economy. After becoming infected, the tourists returned home, taking the virus with them. Croatia has now become a case study in how international travel is acting as an accelerant in the pandemic. Like in Croatia, travel to and within other traditional tourist destinations has pushed the number of infections up across Europe, according to health-care officials. In France, domestic vacationers were linked to a surge in cases in the country’s south and along its Atlantic coast. Spain is experiencing record new infections concentrated in Madrid and tourism hot spots after a large influx of domestic and foreign visitors.
Madrid asks for Spanish army's help in battling coronavirus surge
Madrid’s regional government chief requested the army’s help on Monday in fighting the coronavirus surge in the Spanish capital where local authorities ordered a partial lockdown of some poorer districts, prompting protests. At the height of the first wave of the pandemic in March-April, Spain deployed thousands of troops to help civilian authorities contain the outbreak. A recent spike in infections, peaking at over 10,000 per day, took cumulative cases above 670,000 as of Monday, the highest in Western Europe, while the number of deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory disease in Spain stood at 30,663. “We need help from the army for disinfection...and to strengthen local police and law enforcement,” Isabel Diaz Ayuso told a news briefing after meeting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in an attempt to reduce contagion in Spain’s worst-hit region.
Hospitals in France and Spain are just three weeks from 'saturation'
French hospital cases have risen by 28 per cent in a month while Spain admitted more patients in the last four weeks than in the previous three months combined Hospitals in some areas such as Madrid and Marseille are reaching crisis levels Madrid called in the army as some parts of the city went into lockdown today But both countries have far greater hospital and ICU capacity than in the spring
Covid-19: Why Switzerland doesn't envisage another 'disastrous' lockdown
As some regions of France and Spain impose new coronavirus restrictions, Swiss authorities say that such drastic measures are not planned for the time being. Even though the number of cases has been rising in certain cantons, “at the moment, it is calm in Switzerland, in terms of hospitalisations and deaths", national councilor Jörg Mäder said in an interview. According to Mäder, the country will be able to react better than it did in March, “thanks to new knowledge about the virus”. “Some early measures were excessive because we didn’t know where the virus was transmitted. Hospitals are also better prepared today. So we are not inevitably heading towards a second confinement," he said.
Scotland lockdown: Nicola Sturgeon to introduce 'package' of new restrictions in next 48 hours
Nicola Sturgeon has announced in her daily coronavirus briefing that the Scottish Government is preparing to introduce a 'package' of new lockdown restrictions in the coming days. The First Minister stated that coronavirus “is spreading again in Scotland” and said that “doing nothing is not an option”. She stated that she hopes to announce these measures either tomorrow or Wednesday at a Scottish Parliament address, with final details still being worked out between Holyrood ministers and health experts.
UK Considers Another Lockdown As Cases Projected To Hit 50,000 Per Day
England’s chief medical official warned the country is currently on track to hit 50,000 Covid-19 cases per day by mid-October if the spread of coronavirus continues at its current pace, as countries across Europe reckon with an alarming surge in coronavirus cases and move toward imposing new restrictions to stave off a likely second wave.
More restrictions expected in Europe as coronavirus spreads rapidly and rattles markets
European countries are likely to impose more restrictions on public life in the coming days, analysts said. France reported 10,569 new cases Sunday while the U.K., reported almost 4,000 new cases. Italy saw close to 1,000 new infections and Germany reported 1,345 new cases Sunday, and a further 922 cases Monday.
Is the UK going into a second lockdown?
On Thursday the country’s Covid-19 alert level was increased from level 3 to level 4, meaning transmission of the virus is "high or rising exponentially". Health secretary Matt Hancock said this reflected “the significant shift in the current threat posed by coronavirus and warned the UK ”now faces a tipping point in its response". Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, told a televised Downing Street briefing the epidemic was “doubling roughly every seven days” and that there was "no doubt" numbers were increasing among all age groups. Appearing alongside England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, Sir Patrick warned of a “very serious” threat from Covid-19 over the next six months.
Ministers worried Chris Whitty ‘will resign if his lockdown plan is ignored’
Ministers are reportedly concerned that Chris Witty could quit and speak out if his advice on a second lockdown is ignored. The Government is facing crisis talks over how to control a surge in cases, while minimising the wider effect on the economy. But some ministers have been accused of being ‘in the grip’ of the Chief Medical Officer. One source told the Daily Mail: ‘[Whitty] only has a medical brief so he doesn’t really consider economic factors. He is very well regarded and there is a fear that if the Government defied his instructions or advice, he would make that known.’
Is London going into lockdown again? Why Sadiq Khan has warned of new Covid rules after coronavirus cases increase
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the capital is “catching up” with the coronavirus hotspots in the north of England. Cases are on the rise throughout the country, with daily numbers now at their highest since May. So far the majority of local restrictions have been imposed in the North, with Bolton and Preston among the worst affected areas.
Sterling edges lower amid second national lockdown threat
Sterling touched a one-week low on Monday as headwinds in the banking sector dented investors’ risk appetite, while rising COVID-19 cases prompted Britain to consider a second national lockdown.
New Lockdown
Coronavirus restrictions are extended across NI
Covid-19 restrictions are to be extended to all of Northern Ireland from 18:00 BST on Tuesday, the Stormont Executive has announced. There will be no mixing of households indoors with some exceptions, and no more than six people from two households can meet in a garden. The move followed an urgent meeting of the Executive on Monday afternoon. In the last seven days, more than 1,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland. First Minister Arlene Foster said "this is not a return to lockdown", but "doing nothing is not an option". She added: "The restrictions are limited and we are in a better place than at the height of the pandemic."
The threat of a second lockdown shows why the government must not end financial support
The United Kingdom is on the brink of a second serious outbreak of the novel coronavirus, with the country heading towards 50,000 new cases a day by the middle of October if the current trajectory is not halted, the government’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance have warned. Calls to the non-emergency services and steadily increasing hospitalisations point to a second wave of infections, just in time for the autumn and winter: the exact scenario that the government wanted to avoid back in March.
Sturgeon says Scottish lockdown will tighten 'within days' and hints England will follow
Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Scottish Government is poised to bring in toughened lockdown restrictions "within days" and has hinted that the rest of the UK is going to follow suit. Scotland's First Minister said that “doing nothing in the face of this rapid spread is not an option”. It cames as the all four leaders of the UK's devolved nations - Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales - spoke by phone about the spike in cases.
Covid lockdown for Newport, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent
Four more counties in south Wales will go into lockdown from 18:00 BST on Tuesday, meaning more than a quarter of the Welsh population will be under tighter restrictions. Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent and Newport follow Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly county into lockdown. People will not be able to enter or leave those areas except for a limited number of exemptions, such as work. Licensed premises such as pubs and bars will need to shut by 23:00 every night. People will only be able to mix with those not in their own household outdoors - meeting people from their extended households indoors will be banned in the four areas.
This is what a 'circuit breaker' lockdown could look like - and its chances of success
Reports suggest that the government may introduce a "circuit breaker" lockdown as soon as Tuesday in an effort to control the spread of coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted last week that the UK is now seeing a "second wave" of coronavirus coming in, with localised lockdown measures now affecting around 13.5 million people - over one in five of the UK's population.
Partial virus lockdown in Madrid as US deaths near 200,000
A million people in and around the Spanish capital on Monday were under new "stay-at-home" orders to contain another coronavirus surge, as the US death toll neared 200,000. But unlike other nations that are tightening curbs to battle outbreaks, India pressed ahead with its measures to kickstart its battered economy, reopening the Taj Mahal and some schools on Monday -- despite having the second-highest caseload in the world. The restrictions in Madrid will last for two weeks starting Monday, affecting people living mainly in densely populated, low-income neighbourhoods who will be allowed only to travel for essential reasons such as work, medical care or taking children to school.
Resignation and anger greet new Madrid lockdown
Fresh lockdown restrictions came into force Monday in parts of Madrid and surrounding areas, drawing outrage despite a surge in Covid-19 infections. The curbs, which will be in place for two weeks, affect 850,000 people in mainly densely-populated, low-income neighbourhoods. Residents are now only allowed to leave their zone for going to work, school or to seek medical care.
Unlock 4: Fresh Covid-19 restrictions imposed in these cities
Several state and local administrations have reimposed restrictions in the view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases even as the country is in the last leg on Unlock 4, which began from September 1. Here is a complete list of cities/districts which are under restrictions in September. Some restrictions have been freshly imposed while some have been just extended.
PM prepared the nation for lockdown through Janata Curfew: Health Minister
On criticism of the government over a sudden lockdown and mismanagement of the situation, the minister said, “If the lockdown was not used properly and things were not monitored, the dedicated 17,000 covid facilities would not have come up.
Parts of South Wales put under local lockdown after surge in coronavirus cases
Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Blaenau Gwent will be placed under a local lockdown from 6pm on Tuesday following an increase in coronavirus cases, the Welsh Government has announced. Wales' health minister Vaughan Gething said many of the coronavirus cases had been linked to people socialising indoors without physical distancing.
Australia's coronavirus lockdown strategy worked. Could this be a model for the US?
When Daniel Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, declared a lockdown over the coronavirus, some detractors on the right labeled him a "dictator" and said he was trying to build "a gulag." But Andrews -- a Labor Party politician who has run Australia's second-largest state since 2014 -- has remained popular with Victorians throughout the lockdown, local polls show. And this week, his hardline approach was thoroughly vindicated. On Sunday, Victoria recorded just 11 new coronavirus cases, down from over 670 at the height of the most recent outbreak last month. Next week, Melbourne will begin lifting some restrictions if new cases remain below a fortnightly average of 50 per day. A nightly curfew is slated to remain in effect until October 26.
Partial lockdown in Madrid to combat second Covid wave
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has admitted that his government had made a mistake when it eased restrictions aimed at containing Covid-19 over the summer. His comments came as governments across Europe struggle with a second wave of Covid-19 infections following the holiday months in which the number of cases began rising sharply. "Even I got carried away by the coming summer and the general mood. That was a mistake I don't want to make again," the billionaire populist said in a televised speech.