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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 26th Oct 2020

News Highlights

Columbia crosses 1 million Covid-19 cases with surge in infections

Columbia surpassed the figure of 1 million coronavirus cases, becoming the second Latin American country to achieve this unwanted milestone in the last week, after Argentina reported reaching the same number a few days before. The country has recorded about 30,000 deaths due to the virus but Brazil still leads the continent in the total number of infections and deaths.

AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson resume U.S. testing of Covid-19 vaccine after halt

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given permission to AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson to resume their U.S. testing of the Covid-19 vaccine after trials from both companies had been previously suspended due to adverse events. AstraZeneca's trial had been suspended in the U.S. since September and J&J's from the beginning of last week, because one volunteer from both trials had developed serious health issues, but the FDA has now given clearance to both companies to resume testing.

Masks block coronavirus but not completely, Japanese study says

Research conducted at the University of Tokyo seems to suggest that while masks provide some protection against the coronavirus, even the highest quality masks cannot eliminate the threat of contagion entirely. According to the study, use of a normal cotton mask reduced viral load by about 40% but even an N95 mask, used by medical professionals, could only block about 90% of the viral load.

State of emergency declared in Spain as cases surge; two thirds of France under lockdown

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez declared a state of emergency in Spain on Sunday and placed restrictions on citizens, including overnight curfews, and a ban on travel between some regions. Several countries in Europe have imposed similar restrictions on their populace to control a spike in new coronavirus infections. About two-thirds of France's population, close to 46 million people, are currently living with some form of restrictions, including an overnight curfew from 9pm to 6am.

Lockdown Exit
The Trump Administration Shut a Vaccine Safety Office Last Year. What’s the Plan Now?
As the first coronavirus vaccines arrive in the coming year, government researchers will face a monumental challenge: monitoring the health of hundreds of millions of Americans to ensure the vaccines don’t cause harm. Purely by chance, thousands of vaccinated people will have heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses shortly after the injections. Sorting out whether the vaccines had anything to do with their ailments will be a thorny problem, requiring a vast, coordinated effort by state and federal agencies, hospitals, drug makers and insurers to discern patterns in a flood of data. Findings will need to be clearly communicated to a distrustful public swamped with disinformation.
Trudeau announces $214M for Canadian coronavirus vaccine research
The federal government says it’s spending $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that $173 million would go to Quebec-based Medicago, while Vancouver’s Precision NanoSystems would receive $18.2 million for development and testing. “This is about securing potential vaccines for Canadians while supporting good jobs in research,” he told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
UK sees record third quarter retail sales growth in post-lockdown rebound
British retail sales beat expectations in September to cap a record quarter of growth that took total sales volumes further above their pre-pandemic level, but rising COVID cases risk crimping demand going forward. Retail sales volumes expanded by 1.5% in September alone and are 4.7% higher than a year earlier, the largest annual rise since April 2019 and above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists. Strong household demand has been the mainstay of Britain’s recovery from the initial shock of the coronavirus lockdown, when output contracted by 20%, more than in any other major advanced economy.
Colombia surpasses 1 million COVID-19 cases
Colombia has surpassed one million confirmed coronavirus cases, becoming the second country in Latin America to report that number in less than a week. The last 24 hours saw 8,769 new infections, bringing the total to 1,007,711 since the first case was detected on March 6, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday. Deaths rose to 30,000 after authorities added 198 fatalities from the last 10 days.
In the restaurant where I work, Covid has brought out the worst in customers
Waitressing can be a difficult job at the best of times. The hours are long, the work is exhaustingly physical and the customers have a tendency to take out on you whatever frustrations have been building in them all week.
'Generation Covid' hit hard by the pandemic, research reveals
Young people, particularly those from deprived backgrounds, have had their earnings and job prospects hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, adding to fears for the long-term impact on their futures. BBC Panorama found people aged 16-25 were more than twice as likely as older workers to have lost their job, while six in 10 saw their earnings fall, according to new research. It also highlighted the impact of school closures on young people and added to growing evidence that students from poorer backgrounds have fallen behind their more privileged peers. A quarter of pupils - some 2.5 million children - had no schooling or tutoring during lockdown, the survey by the London School of Economics (LSE) suggests. But, the study adds, nearly three quarters of private school pupils had full days of teaching (74%) - almost twice the proportion of state school pupils (38%).
Exit Strategies
Covid-19: Call for 'exit strategy' as South Yorkshire enters tier 3
More than 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire are the latest to move to England's top level of restrictions. Tier three measures came into effect at midnight affecting areas including Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. Sheffield City Region's mayor said the measures were needed but called on the government to "define precisely what the exit criteria is" from tier three. Meanwhile, Wales entered the first full day of a national lockdown amid border patrols to stop non-essential travel. Gloucestershire Constabulary said it will patrol routes into the Forest of Dean area and pull over vehicles suspected of making unnecessary journeys out of Wales.
Peru rejects AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine purchase deal
The Peruvian government said on Thursday that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations. Prime Minister Walter Martos said in a news conference that the government had asked AstraZeneca for data from its vaccine studies, but that the firm had not sent the information.
Victoria's coronavirus lockdown is almost over and confidence is key in our economic recovery
Look, it hasn't been a lot of fun. "Go Hard or Go Home!" Chris Hemsworth's energetic trainer yells from the video on screen as my wife and I exercise after a day of home-schooling. Mate, stop it. We've been doing both. As Victorians have slowly slid out of strict lockdown conditions — an 8:00pm curfew, a maximum of an hour's exercise outside, a restriction on going more than 5 kilometres from home — we're getting back to something closer to normal. Tomorrow will see more restrictions eased.Schools are back. Park picnics let us see friends. The weather is getting better.
Australia's COVID-19 hotspot sees more school cases before easing curbs
Australia’s Victoria state, the country’s COVID-19 hotspot, reported four cases related to infections in schools on Saturday, a day before the expected easing of strict social distancing restrictions. Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s second-most populous state, is emerging from a second wave as a hard lockdown since July has brought daily infections of the new coronavirus down to single digits from an August peak over 700. In the previous 24 hours, the state found seven new cases, officials said, including four related to a cluster linked to two schools in Melbourne’s northern suburbs that prompted authorities to order 800 people to self-isolate.
US COVID-19 deaths could hit 500,000 by February, researchers say
The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States could exceed 500,000 by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks, researchers said on Friday, as the country set a new single-day record for new cases. The latest estimate by the widely cited University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reflects concern that cold winter weather will drive Americans indoors, where the coronavirus spreads more easily, particularly in confined, poorly-ventilated spaces.
Thousands of long-term care facilities have already opted into CVS and Walgreens coronavirus vaccine deal, HHS says
Thousands of long-term care and assisted living facilities have already opted into the Trump administration’s program with CVS Health and Walgreens to administer coronavirus vaccines to seniors, a senior administration official said. Between 9,000 and 10,000 facilities have opted into the program since it was announced last week, Paul Mango, a deputy chief of staff at HHS, told reporters.
Partisan Exits
Police make arrests at anti-lockdown protest in central London
Police have made a series of arrests at an anti-lockdown protest as large crowds gathered in central London. Demonstrators made their way through the city with banners and placards, calling for “freedom” and an end to Covid-19 restrictions. Police were deployed outside Buckingham Palace as crowds of protesters gathered on the steps of the Queen Victoria memorial opposite the gates, before making their way to Trafalgar Square. Demonstrators called for an end to the “tyranny” of new rules amid the pandemic and voiced their opposition to vaccines. At least two people were led away in handcuffs by officers at Trafalgar Square.
Malaysia’s king rejects PM’s push for COVID emergency rule
Malaysia’s King Sultan Abdullah has rejected a request by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for him to declare a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis, saying he did not see the need. The king’s move on Sunday is a significant setback for Muhyiddin, who is facing a leadership challenge from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and infighting within his governing coalition.
To say there's no trade-off between health and the economy during lockdown is a convenient delusion
Something has happened in America’s coronavirus outbreak that is confounding the experts. Social distancing rules are weak, lockdowns have not been imposed, test and trace is no more effective than in the UK, but the epidemic is under control. Covid-19 is an unstable virus. On Thursday, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, said that its natural reproduction number, or R, was “around three”. That is, every person who has the virus will infect three others. Left to its own devices, cases should double every five days. In the UK, R is now “somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5 — about half the natural R, [which] reflects the huge efforts people have made”, he said.
Anti-lockdown protests: Three officers injured as 18 are arrested after clashes with police
Eighteen people have been arrested after protesters clashed with police at an anti-lockdown demonstration in London. Hundreds of campaigners marched to Parliament after bringing Oxford Street to a standstill. The Metropolitan Police said 18 arrests were made after officers took action to disperse crowds when "disruption" was caused on Westminster Bridge. Three officers sustained minor injuries after they clashed with campaigners at the Stop the New Normal protest, said the force.
Covid-19: Arrests at London anti-lockdown protest
Eighteen people have been arrested at a protest in central London over coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Large crowds gathered outside Buckingham Palace, where police were stationed, before moving on to Trafalgar Square. Some protesters carried placards calling for "freedom" and an end to the "tyranny" of Covid-19 restrictions. The Metropolitan Police said the crowds had been dispersed but urged people to continue social distancing.
Why lockdowns alone won't save us from the pandemic
The prospect of locking society down again the way we did in the first wave of COVID-19 — and the collateral damage that comes with it — is daunting. The financial devastation on businesses forced to close and lay off employees, the increase in mental health issues, the halting of elective medical procedures and the continuing risks to essential workers on the front lines all factor in. Keeping society functioning and supporting devastated sectors of the economy while limiting the spread of the coronavirus is key to navigating the pandemic until a safe and effective vaccine is here. But experts acknowledge there is growing resistance to some of the restrictions that highlights a need to manage the public mood as the pandemic rages on.
Violent anti-lockdown protests lead to 16 arrests
Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters have violently clashed with police in Melbourne resulting in the arrest of 16 people and 96 penalty notices. Under current restrictions, protests are not considered illegal, but gatherings of more than ten are. Protesters – many without masks – holding flagpoles and signs attacked mounted police officers and horses as tensions boiled over at the Shrine of Remembrance. After officers formed a ring of steel around the group, protestors reconvened in South Melbourne where they threw flares and struck a police van. Premier Daniel Andrews said the unsafe and unlawful protest was “shameful” because it was conducted at the Shrine of Remembrance.
Anti-lockdown protesters clash with police in Melbourne - officers use pepper spray
Anti-lockdown protests have broken out in Melbourne on Friday afternoon with hundreds attending. Police clashed with protesters and punches reportedly thrown at officers who deployed pepper spray. Melbourne has endured months of strict lockdown as COVID-19 case numbers brought under control
Italy COVID cases hit new record, street protest in Naples over lockdown threat
Italy’s Campania region, based on the southern city of Naples, said on Friday it would impose a lockdown to tame the coronavirus and urged the whole country to follow suit as new infections hit a record high.
Trump says pandemic will end soon after Biden blasts his handling of crisis
President Donald Trump promised supporters in Florida on Friday that the coronavirus pandemic would end soon and accused Democratic rival Joe Biden of overstating the health crisis to scare Americans into voting for him. The pandemic, which has killed more than 224,000 people in the United States and cost millions more their jobs, has become the dominant issue of the campaign, with Trump on the defensive over his administration’s handling of the crisis. Biden earlier in the day said Trump had given up on containing the virus and promised if he wins the Nov. 3 election he will ask Congress to pass a comprehensive COVID-19 bill that he would sign within the first 10 days of taking office.
Continued Lockdown
Virus is pummeling Europe’s eateries — and winter is coming
As the Friday night dinner service began earlier this month at the De Viering restaurant outside Brussels, it seemed the owners’ decision to move the operation into the spacious village church to comply with coronavirus rules was paying off. The reservation book was full and the kitchen was bustling. And then Belgium’s prime minister ordered cafes, bars and restaurants to close for at least a month in the face of surging infections. “It’s another shock, of course, because — yes, all the investments are made,” said chef Heidi Vanhasselt. She and her sommelier husband Christophe Claes had installed a kitchen and new toilets in the Saint Bernardus church in Heikruis, as well as committing to 10 months’ rent and pouring energy into creative solutions.
Scientific Viewpoint
Initial lockdown in France substantially curbed COVID-19, but many remain susceptible to the virus
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic first started in late December 2019 in Wuhan City, China. From there, it has spread across the globe. During the first peak of cases in March, France is one of the hardest-hit countries, with the cases now reaching more than 1 million, with at least 34,000 deaths. The government has imposed an initial lockdown in March, banning large gatherings and closing schools. In August, when restrictions were eased, there was a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases. Now, a new study by researchers at the Santé Publique France conducted seroprevalence estimates in France, one of the countries with high COVID-19 cases in Europe
AstraZeneca, J&J resuming US tests of COVID-19 vaccines
Two drugmakers announced Friday the resumption of U.S. testing of their COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been halted since early September, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine study was paused at the beginning of last week. Each company had a study volunteer develop a serious health issue, requiring a review of safety data. The two coronavirus vaccines are among several candidates in final-stage testing, the last step before seeking regulatory approval. The drugmakers said they got the go-ahead Friday from the Food and Drug Administration to restart tests in the U.S.
AstraZeneca resumes U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial and next week J&J prepares to do same
AstraZeneca Plc has resumed the U.S. trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after approval by regulators, and Johnson & Johnson is preparing to resume its trial on Monday or Tuesday, the companies said on Friday. The news signaled progress against the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 41 million globally, including 8 million Americans and comes 10 days before a U.S. presidential election that may hinge on plans here to fight the pandemic. AstraZeneca, one of the leading vaccine developers, paused its U.S. trial on Sept. 6 after a report of a serious neurological illness, believed to be transverse myelitis, in a participant in the company’s UK trial. J&J paused its large, late-stage trial last week after a study participant became ill.
Brazil's health regulator allows the import of six million doses of a coronavirus vaccine from China
Brazil's health regulator has authorized the import from China of a potential vaccine against the coronavirus, just days after President Jair Bolsonaro insisted he wouldn't allow doses to be shipped from the Asian nation. The health regulator, Anvisa, said in a statement on Friday that Sao Paulo state's Butantan Institute can import 6 million doses of the CoronaVac shot that Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac is developing. The potential vaccine cannot be administered to Brazilians as it isn't yet approved locally, the statement said.
5 takeaways from the FDA's closely watched coronavirus vaccine meeting
The U.S. government's most detailed airing of its plans for approval, production and distribution of coronavirus vaccines came Thursday at a marathon meeting of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee. Independent experts convened by the FDA debated whether the agency has set an appropriate bar for approving experimental shots, and how research should continue following any emergency clearance that might be granted in the coming months. Presentations by officials from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, meanwhile, shed important light on lingering questions about how mass immunization programs will be rolled out. Addressing distribution hurdles and likely vaccine hesitancy among certain groups were a particular focus.
Dr Reddy's: Covid vaccine-maker suffers cyber-attack
Pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy's, which is developing a Covid-19 vaccine, says it has been hit by a cyber-attack. Sites around the world have been affected, including those in the UK, Brazil, India, Russia and the US. The India-based company said it had isolated all of its data centre services to contain the attack. Last week, Dr Reddy's was given permission to begin its final stage trials of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. The company refused to comment on whether or not its manufacturing facilities had been affected.
Oxford coronavirus vaccine scientists will be rewarded for saving world
The last time Oxford University saved the world from infectious disease, with the development of penicillin, it made barely a penny. This time, with its vaccine, it has worked hard to ensure that it does not repeat the mistake. The university has negotiated a 6 per cent stake in any royalties from its vaccine if it is successful, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal.
Australian production of non-protein Covid-19 vaccine may take an extra year, minister says
It could take up to a year for Australian biotech company CSL to develop the capability to make a Covid-19 vaccine if a non-protein-based version proves safe and effective, the country’s industry minister has said. Karen Andrews said CSL would be able to immediately start making a protein-based vaccine, but “significant work” would be required if it was another type based on mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid. Vaccines traditionally introduce proteins into the body to provoke the immunity system into responding but if an mRNA vaccine of the kind being developed by US company Moderna is approved it would be the first of its type, experts say.
Coronavirus vaccine: Oxford jab provides ‘strong’ immune response, analysis finds
AstraZeneca's Oxford coronavirus vaccine accurately follows its preprogrammed genetic instructions to successfully provoke a strong immune response, an analysis has found. The vaccine “is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness,” said David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, which led the research. AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine alongside Oxford University researchers, is considered a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine against Covid-19. The first data from late-stage large-scale clinical trials being conducted in several countries around the world, including Brazil, the United States and Britain, are expected to be released before the end of the year.
Rush for results could lead to inferior Covid vaccine, say scientists
Scientists have warned that early adoption of a Covid vaccine with only moderate effectiveness could disrupt efforts to test and create improved versions. Immunising against the disease is not going to be a simple business of turning off the virus once the first vaccine appears, they say. In fact, there could be considerable confusion as researchers struggle to pinpoint the best versions for different vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. “The vaccines coming through fastest are the most experimental. It is possible they won’t be all that great and that others – created using more tried-and-tested but slower methods – might be better,” said Professor Adam Finn of Bristol University. “But to prove that point will become very difficult if lots of individuals have already been given the first vaccine. It will need vast numbers of people to demonstrate which is best or if a different vaccine is more suitable for particular groups, like the elderly.”
People are traveling across China in the hopes of getting an experimental Covid-19 vaccine shot
When Anny Ku heard that there were coronavirus vaccines on offer in Yiwu, a city in China's eastern Zhejiang province, she traveled more than 600 miles (965 kilometers) for a chance to get the shot. Ku worked in Chile for more than 20 years as an importer and exporter, but she returned to her home in southern China earlier this year after the coronavirus pandemic worsened and a large number of cases appeared in South America. There had been no official announcement that a vaccine was available in Yiwu -- just a series of articles in local media -- but Ku believed she needed the shot in order to leave China and get back to her job overseas. "If one has (the vaccine), it's much safer to leave the country," she said
India to have covid vaccine by June: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
The buzz around an imminent covid-19 vaccine has raised hopes of a way back to normalcy for the billions affected by the pandemic around the world, said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director of Bengaluru-based Biocon Ltd. Mazumdar-Shaw is hopeful that the vaccine will be in India by June, but added delivering the vaccine to India’s over 1.2 billion population has its own challenges. "I expect that by January, some of the other vaccines could be approved like AstraZeneca’s or one of our own Indian vaccines like the one by Bharat Biotech. If we finish the clinical trials in the next 2-3 months, even those may be approved by January-February. So I would expect that in Q1FY22 we should have vaccines available in India and other parts of the world," said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in an interview to Mint.
Brazil will import Chinese-produced coronavirus vaccine Sinovac for trials
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said last week China lacked the creditability to develop a cure for the coronavirus. Whoops. Now a Sao Paulo research centre, partnered with China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, was granted “exceptional” permission to bring six million doses fo the COVID-19 drug into the country for phase three trials.
As it hits one million coronavirus cases, Colombia prepares for vaccine
In a warehouse near Bogota’s airport, behind a heavy cold storage door, sit boxes upon boxes of lifesaving vaccines for everything from yellow fever to polio, awaiting transport to the furthest reaches of Colombia.The tall shelves, kept at a chill 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), are half-empty - leaving plenty of room for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. Colombia surpassed 1 million infections on Saturday afternoon, becoming the eighth country globally to do so, tallying 1,007,711 confirmed infections and 30,000 deaths. As scientists around the world race to find a coronavirus inoculation, Colombia says it is ready to distribute any vaccine which proves effective.
AstraZeneca and J&J get go-ahead to resume Covid-19 vaccine trials
Major US Covid-19 vaccine trials from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were given the green light to restart on Friday, after the US regulator concluded it was safe to resume testing the experimental candidates. The two drugmakers’ US trials had been paused as the Food and Drug Administration investigated whether serious adverse events could be linked to the vaccines. The trial of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate, developed with Oxford university, had been paused since September 6 after a participant fell sick with neurological symptoms, even as studies in other countries including the UK were restarted.
Vaccine developers call on FDA to offer clarity on COVID-19 trials
Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide clarity over retaining and attracting participants for COVID-19 vaccine trials after a vaccine becomes available to the public. The comments were made in letters sent before an FDA advisory committee met yesterday to discuss issues relating to the development and authorisation of potential COVID-19 vaccines. J&J urged the FDA committee to discuss the potential challenges of continuing trial enrolment in large-scale studies after the vaccines receive approval.
Moderna completes enrolment of phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial
Moderna has completed enrolment of its late-stage phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine study, with 30,000 participants now enrolled in the study. According to the company, 25,654 participants have now received their second vaccination with Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, in the phase 3 COVE study. The biotech company also touted the diversity of its trial population, with participants from minority groups represented in the overall group. In total, 37% of the trial populations consists of participants from minority ethnic groups, representing 11,000 volunteers. In addition, Moderna has included participants with higher risks of contracting COVID-19 or developing severe disease, with 25% of the trial population being over the age of 65 years.
Covid: More coronavirus vaccine trials in Wales 'within weeks'
New trials of coronavirus vaccinations will start in Wales "within weeks". A top scientist who works for the body responsible for organising the pilots said different vaccines will be trialed across parts of Wales "very soon". About 500 volunteers in the Gwent area have already taken part in trials of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The new trials will be for different vaccines, but Health and Care Research Wales would not confirm which products.
Coronavirus vaccine final-stage testing to restart in US
Two drugmakers have announced the resumption of US testing of their Covid-19 vaccine candidates. Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been halted since early September, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine study was paused at the beginning of last week. Each company had a study volunteer develop a serious health issue, requiring a review of safety data.
Oxford coronavirus vaccine 'has only been tested on 500 over-70s'
High hopes for Oxford University's 'ChAdOx' jab but only 1,000 or so of the 10,000 people recruited to UK arm of Oxford's trial are aged 70 or over. Half of them have been given the vaccine and half have had a placebo. Last night, former immunisation 'tsar' Professor David Salisbury said relatively small numbers might not be enough to generate meaningful result
At 75, I've volunteered for a Covid vaccine trial. It could set people free
There’s a 50% chance that this week I was injected with a vaccine designed to protect me from Covid-19. If not, I got the saltwater placebo instead. I won’t know until the study ends in 13 months, which is a shame. It would be nice to walk the streets without looking balefully around me at young people not wearing masks and thinking: I’m 75, this virus kills people my age. It killed my chum Mike Pentelow, who was having a lot of fun in his retirement, writing books with titles such as A Pub Crawl Through History, and Mike was a year younger than me. Perhaps he’s the reason I volunteered to be a guinea pig for one of the companies working on a vaccine.
HHS Release Redacted Moderna COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine Contract : Shots - Health News
Even as the companies enlisted by the government's Operation Warp Speed project to develop COVID-19 vaccines say they're making quick progress, details of their lucrative federal contracts have been slow to emerge. But late Friday the Department of Health and Human Services released its August contract with Moderna. When announcing the deal, HHS said it was worth $1.5 billion and would secure the first 100 million doses of the company's vaccine and the option to buy up to 400 million more. Overall, there is a lack of disclosure around the terms of the federal contracts with companies involved in the crash program to make COVID-19 vaccines. Most of the contracts haven't been released.
Recon: AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine packs a wallop; Merck KGaA, partners link for COVID mAbs
There are serious signs the Food and Drug Administration is getting cold feet over the notion of issuing emergency use authorizations to allow for the widespread early deployment of Covid-19 vaccines. Instead, it appears the agency may be exploring the idea of using expanded access — a more limited program that is typically used for investigational drugs — in the early days of Covid vaccine rollouts. Whereas a few weeks ago the agency’s concern was to protect against the possibility that unproven vaccines would be pushed out prematurely due to pressure from President Trump, now the fear is that early authorization of vaccines could squander a one-time chance to determine how well the various vaccines work and which work best in whom.
How Pfizer Partner BioNTech Became a Leader in Coronavirus Vaccine Race
On a Friday in late January, Ugur Sahin received an email with bad news: A new study of a deadly new coronavirus in China suggested it was more infectious than previously believed. The outbreak, he believed, had the potential to grow into a pandemic. The following Monday, the German scientist and chief executive of biotech firm BioNTech SE summoned his board to announce that the company, which had been developing next-generation cancer treatments, would start work on a Covid-19 vaccine. Human trials would need to start by April, he added, in case Europe and the U.S. had to go into lockdowns.
WHO: Countries on ‘dangerous track’ in COVID-19 pandemic
Too many nations, particularly in the northern hemisphere, seeing an exponential increase in coronavirus cases, with hospitals and intensive care units running close to capacity, WHO chief says.
Roche and Atea link up for oral COVID-19 drug; UK to test coronavirus vaccine T cell responses
Swiss pharma giant Roche has partnered with Atea Pharmaceuticals to develop an antiviral oral treatment for COVID-19. The two companies will jointly develop, manufacture and distribute AT-527, Atea’s investigational oral antiviral for the potential treatment of COVID-19. According to Roche, AT-527 blocks the viral RNA polymerase enzyme required for viral replication. It is currently being studied in a phase 2 study for the treatment of patients hospitalised with moderate COVID-19. In the first quarter of 2021, a phase 3 clinical trial is expected to launch testing AT-527 as a potential therapy for COVID-19 patients outside a hospital setting. The drug could also be developed for the post-exposure prophylactic settings, added Roche.
Japan researchers show masks block coronavirus, but not perfectly
Japanese researchers have shown that masks can offer protection from airborne coronavirus particles, but even professional-grade coverings can’t eliminate contagion risk entirely. Scientists at the University of Tokyo built a secure chamber with mannequin heads facing each other. One head, fitted with a nebulizer, simulated coughing and expelled actual coronavirus particles. The other mimicked natural breathing, with a collection chamber for viruses coming through the airway. A cotton mask on the receiver head reduced its viral uptake by up to 40% compared with no mask. An N95 mask, used by medical professionals, blocked up to 90%. However, even when the N95 was fitted to the face with tape, some virus particles still managed to get in. When a mask was attached to the coughing head, cotton and surgical masks blocked more than 50% of the virus transmission.
Coronavirus vaccine may not be available until Spring next year, says top UK scientist
A lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine will not be available until Spring next year, according to the UK Government 's top scientist. Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that while there has been “remarkable” progress made around the world, vaccines will not be in widespread use until some time next year. He said it was too early to speculate about how effective a vaccine might be, but said the aim would be for a vaccine to allow the “release” of measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing. He said: “That’s got to be an aim that we would all wish for and that’s why so many companies around the world are working on vaccines and why there has been such remarkable progress.
Increase medical workforce to tackle covid-19 backlog, doctors' leaders urge
The NHS will not be able to meet the demands of the covid-19 pandemic and a potential second wave without more staff, doctors’ leaders have warned. In a report1 published on 19 October, the BMA, with support from medical royal colleges, said that medical workforce numbers—including consultants—must increase to overcome the backlog of work from the pandemic, reduce NHS waiting lists and waiting times, and restore activity to previous levels. To do this, medical school, foundation training programme, and specialty trainee numbers must be increased, the report said. The report set out a range of short and medium term solutions to tackle consultant shortages and meet the demands of the pandemic. Among the suggested short term measures were making the most effective use of retired doctors who would like to return to work. “During the first peak of the pandemic, 28 000 doctors made themselves available to return to work,” the report said, “but only a small proportion of them were eventually deployed.”
Coronavirus Resurgence
Europe, US Watch COVID Case Totals Grow, Debate New Restrictions
Confirmed coronavirus infections continued to soar Saturday in many parts of the U.S. and Europe. In some cases, so did anger over the restrictions governments put in place to try to stem the tide. Oklahoma, Illinois, New Mexico and Michigan were among states announcing new record highs in daily confirmed cases Saturday, a day after a nationwide daily record of more than 83,000 reported infections, according to Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive, said it's "now more important than ever that people take this seriously." The 3,338 new COVID-19 cases in her state topped the old record by more than 1,300. German authorities reported a record one-day total of new coronavirus cases this weekend while leaders in Spain and Italy debated how to control the resurgent virus amid public pushback to curfews despite a global death toll topping 1.1 million.
Italy sees more than 20,000 new virus cases, many in north
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is quarantining himself after learning that Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman tested positive for the coronavirus. Coffman’s diagnosis on Sunday came over a week after he and the governor appeared with other officials at a press conference. Coffman said he worked from home starting Thursday after not feeling well and his symptoms were gone by Saturday. He says he got a rapid test Sunday in hopes of being cleared to return to his office and schedule but will now quarantine at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises anyone who has been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to quarantine for two weeks. A Polis spokesperson said the governor would quarantine while waiting to hear from contact tracers.
Germany grapples with coronavirus spike months after it was hailed for good practice
A few months can make a world of difference during a pandemic. After being lauded for its response to Covid-19 after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government flattened the curve this spring, Germany is now grappling with more than 10,000 daily coronavirus infections, the most it has seen since the outbreak started, and admissions to hospital intensive care units have doubled in the last two weeks. In response, the country is betting on a different, more local approach to the crisis.
Italy orders bars, restaurants to close early as COVID infections surge
Italy on Sunday ordered bars and restaurants to close by 6 p.m. and shut public gyms, cinemas and swimming pools to try to halt a rapid resurgence in the coronavirus that has pushed daily infection rates to new records. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the measures were aimed at protecting both public health and the economy and should bring the rising curve of the epidemic under control in the next few weeks to allow a “serene” Christmas.
Italy set to introduce its harshest pandemic restrictions since May
The governments of Italy and Spain, the European countries hardest hit by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, announced sweeping measures on Sunday to combat a surge in the number of new cases. Italy said it would introduce the harshest public health restrictions since the end of its first national lockdown in May as new coronavirus cases hit a fresh daily record. Spain announced a nationwide curfew and triggered emergency powers after the country’s infection rate jumped by almost a third over the past week.
Coronavirus: Spain imposes national night-time curfew to curb infections
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the curfew, between the hours of 23:00 and 06:00, would come into force on Sunday. Under the emergency measures, local authorities can also ban travel between regions, Mr Sánchez said. He said he would ask parliament to extend the new rules, initially in force for 15 days, to six months. Spain was hit hard during the first wave of the pandemic earlier this year and imposed a much more restrictive lockdown - one of the toughest in the world. Like many other European regions, however, it has been hit by a second wave of infections. In Italy, new restrictions were also announced on Sunday. The government said the steady rise in cases there was causing a huge strain on the country's health services.
Europe suffers record case numbers as France's Macron warns crisis may last until summer
European countries are reporting record numbers of Covid-19 cases as the continent prepares for the pandemic to intensify through winter. Those affected include Europe's political class. Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday, according to a tweet from Presidential Minister Blazej Spychalski Saturday. Duda said that he was feeling well, was asymptomatic and would continue working in isolation. "As you can see, I am full of strength. I hope it will stay this way. However, the fact is that I must isolate. Together with my wife, we abide by the rules of isolation in an iron manner," he said in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday.
France passes 1 million coronavirus cases
The number of coronavirus infections in France has passed 1 million, making it the second European country after Spain to reach that figure as Europe battles a resurgence of the pandemic. The French health ministry announced on Friday that the daily tally of new infections was more than 42,000, bringing the country's cumulative total to over 1 million. The government introduced a night-time curfew in Paris and other parts of the country last week in response to the recent spike in cases. President Emmanuel Macron said the impact of the measures will begin to show next week. He said it's too early to say whether France will go into a second full lockdown.
U.S. sees daily record of nearly 80000 new COVID-19 cases
A record of nearly 80,000 new COVID-19 infections over the course of a day were reported in the United States on Friday, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. Between 8:30 p.m. Thursday and the same time Friday, 79,963 infections were recorded, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to nearly 8.5 million in the country. The United States had already approached the bar of 80,000 daily cases in July, largely due to new infections in southern states such as Texas and Florida, where the virus was then spreading out of control. The worst current outbreaks are in the north and Midwest, and some 35 of the 50 states are seeing an increase in case numbers.
Poland President Andrzej Duda tests positive for coronavirus
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus, his spokesman said on Saturday. The spokesman, Blazej Spychalski, said on Twitter that the 48-year-old conservative leader was tested the day before and his result was positive. He said the president feels well and is in isolation. Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths in Poland, a nation that saw only very low numbers in the spring. The spiking infection rates are pushing the country’s strained health system to the breaking point. Doctors say patients are now dying not only from COVID-19, but from other illnesses that overwhelmed hospitals are not able to treat now.
New EU Travel Restrictions, Country By Country, As Covid-19 Rates Soar
As Covid-19 rates soar across the EU, countries are mostly united in deciding they need to restrict travel but they differ in the execution of rules. The outlook is changing on a weekly basis in regards to both getting into EU countries but also in how governments are controlling the movement of people inside. This country by country guide explains who is now allowed into each EU country and what they can do when they get there—some countries are under lockdown.
Spain holds off on curfews, but struggles to contain COVID-19
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez exhorted Spaniards on Friday to further limit social contact to combat Europe’s worst COVID-19 hotspot, but he stopped short of announcing new measures amid political disputes over potential curfews. Quarrelling between the Socialist-led government and mostly conservative regions - and also among regions themselves - has hampered the response to the pandemic for months, exasperating citizens and fostering uncertainty. With total cases soaring this week to over a million, the health minister said the pandemic was out of control and recommended curfews, which several European countries with fewer COVID-19 cases have already implemented in the past days.
Dutch transfer patients to Germany again as COVID infections spike
The Netherlands began transferring COVID-19 patients to Germany again on Friday, as hospitals come under increasing strain from a second wave of infections. The Flevo hospital in the central Dutch town of Almere said it would transfer two of its intensive care patients by helicopter to a hospital in Muenster, around 65 km (40 miles) east of the Dutch-German border. The transfers were the first during the second wave that began in the Netherlands early last month. During the first wave in March and April dozens of Dutch patients were transferred to Germany, where intensive care capacity is larger.
Britain records 23,012 new COVID cases on Saturday, up from Friday
Britain recorded 23,012 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, up from 20,530 on Friday, government data showed. There were 174 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, down from 224 on Friday.
Slovaks begin mass testing in virus hotspots as cases surge
Thousands of Slovaks lined up to be tested for the coronavirus in the country’s worst-affected areas on Friday, taking part in a pilot programme that will eventually go nationwide. The government hopes the antigen tests, along with a partial lockdown, can help control a sharp rise in infections. It also offered an incentive to take part, saying those who test negative will be subject to less stringent rules, meaning they can leave home to go to work, take country walks or visit post offices and banks. Those who do not take a test will face a stricter lockdown regime including a ban on commuting to work.
AstraZeneca resumes COVID vaccine trial, J&J could restart soon
AstraZeneca Plc, the U.K. drugmaker developing a coronavirus vaccine with the University of Oxford, has been cleared by U.S. regulators to restart a trial halted in the country for more than a month on concerns about a volunteer who became ill, according to a person familiar with the decision. The person asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
New Lockdown
Sturgeon unveils five-level Covid lockdown rules for Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled a five-level system for restricting people’s movements and limiting physical contact as part of new measures to combat the spread of Covid-19. The system includes a top level that is tougher than the highest of England’s three tiers, which Sturgeon said would be closer to the lockdown imposed across the UK in late March. It would involve the closure of all non-essential shops, bars, restaurants and leisure venues; strict controls on travelling and using public transport; and potentially a “stay at home” message similar to that coming into force in Wales on Friday evening.
Spain's government to decree COVID-19 state of emergency, tighten controls: local media
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced a new state of emergency on Sunday in an effort to curb soaring coronavirus infections, imposing local nighttime curfews and banning travel between regions in some cases. The measures go into force from Sunday night and will require all regions except the Canary Islands to impose a nighttime curfew and limit the number of people allowed to meet to six. “We are living in an extreme situation ... it is the most serious health crisis in the last century,” he told a news conference following a cabinet meeting. Catalonia was one of the first regions on Sunday to use the new legislation to impose a curfew, which will take effect at 10 p.m. Establishments open to the public will have to close at 9 p.m.
Poland adopts nationwide 'red zone' lockdown
Poland's prime minister said on Friday that "red zone" measures including the partial closure of primary schools and restaurants would be adopted nationwide in the face of a record spike in coronavirus infections
Two-thirds of France in lockdown as coronavirus curfews extended
Around two-thirds of France’s population has been placed under lockdown as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic hits Europe. France’s prime minister, Jean Castex, announced last week that a curfew imposed on Paris and eight other cities would be extended to 38 more departments. It confines 46 million of the country’s 67 million people to their homes from 9pm to 6am. "A second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is now under way in France and Europe. The situation is very serious," Mr Castex said at a news conference.
Anger as Welsh supermarkets block off non-essential items during the firebreak lockdown
First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government will review “how the weekend has gone” after thousands signed a petition calling for the ban on non-essential items being sold in supermarkets to be lifted. Mr Drakeford tweeted: “Thank you for all your efforts over the last 24 hours to stay at home. We know people are fed up. “It’s not easy, but we all have a responsibility to stop the virus spreading.
Italy's Campania region set for COVID lockdown, urges national curbs
Italy’s Campania region, based on the southern city of Naples, said on Friday it was set to impose a lockdown to stamp out a surge in coronavirus and urged the national government to follow suit. Daily infections have risen six-fold across Italy since the start of the month, hitting a record 16,079 on Thursday, raising fears that the pandemic is racing out of control in a country which already has one of the highest death tolls in the world.
Czech PM tells health minister to quit after lockdown violation
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis moved to sack his health minister on Friday for holding a meeting in a restaurant closed under government restrictions as the country combats Europe’s fastest spread of the novel coronavirus. Health Minister Roman Prymula rejected calls to resign, including from Babis and his junior coalition partner, and said the meeting with two other officials took place in a private room and no regulations were broken. The Blesk newspaper published pictures of Prymula leaving a restaurant late at night and entering a car without a face mask, apparent violations of rules that closed restaurants and require wearing masks in most places, including chaffered cars.
'Eating rats': Myanmar's second lockdown drives hunger in city slums
After the first wave of coronavirus hit Myanmar in March, 36-year-old Ma Suu closed her salad stall and pawned her jewelry and gold to buy food to eat. During the second wave, when the government issued a stay-home order in September for Yangon, Ma Suu shut her stall again and sold her clothes, plates and pots. With nothing left to sell, her husband, an out of work construction labourer, has resorted to hunting for food in the open drains by the slum where they live on the outskirts of Myanmar’s largest city. “People are eating rats and snakes,” Ma Suu said through tears. “Without an income, they need to eat like that to feed their children.”
Retailers urge Welsh government not to dictate what people can buy in 'fire-break' lockdown
Retailers in Wales have written urgently to First Minister Mark Drakeford expressing alarm over new regulations that restrict the sale of “non essential” products in essential shops during the country’s two-week COVID-19 lockdown. Wales’ “fire-break” begins on Friday at 1700 GMT and ends on Nov. 9. Everybody but essential workers will have to work from home. All non-essential retail, leisure, hospitality and tourist businesses will have to close. Retailers that can stay open, such as supermarkets, were told on Thursday that the regulations require them to only sell what the Welsh government deems to be “essential” product lines, partly to protect smaller businesses that do have to close being put at an unfair advantage.
Brussels edges towards lockdown as Belgian COVID-19 cases hit record high
City's curfew has also been tightened to 10pm-6am with shops shutting at 8pm. The new changes will come in on Monday Brussel premier Rudi Vervoort said. Working from home will be obligatory and masks will have to be worn in public