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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 10th Nov 2020

News Highlights

Pfizer coronavirus vaccine 'more than 90% effective,' says company

Pfizer, which is developing a new coronavirus vaccine along with German biotechnology compant BioNTech, reported encouraging results and said that early indications show that the vaccine is more than 90% effective. The company said that 38,955 people have received two doses of either the vaccine or a placebo with only 94 confirmed coronavirus cases among them. Health officials around the world rejoiced at the news, with Chris Whitty, the UK's chief medical officer, saying that the news was 'reason for optimism for 2021.'

Festive season and increased smog in India raises fears for Covid-19 patients

Residents of the Indian capital of New Delhi are enduring one of the worst spells of air pollution in years, only months after pollution in New Delhi had almost disappeared after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to control the coronavirus. With festival season around the corner, New Delhi's overall air quality index - AQI - has stayed above 400 for five consecutive days, which is a bad sign for people with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and is also a big risk for people with Covid-19.

Covid-19 could lead to additional psychiatric disorders, study says

A new study from the University of Oxford has indicated that people who have had Covid-19 may be at a higher risk of developing mental health problems including anxiety, depression and insomnia. The researchers, who tracked 62,000 people with the coronavirus for three months after diagnosis, also found that existing psychiatric patients were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19.

No lockdown in Italy could lead to 10,000 Covid-19 deaths, say doctors

Doctors in Italy have warned that unless a nationwide lockdown is imposed again, the country may see more than 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths a month. The government is planning to place new restrictions in the regions of Campagnia, Iguria, Abruzzo and Umbria but is currently resisting calls for a nationwide lockdown. More than 32,616 new infections were reported Sunday, a more than sevenfold increase since 8 October, along with 331 Covid-related fatalities, bringing the total deaths to 41,394, the highest in mainland Europe.

Lockdown Exit
Covid 'raises new psychiatric disorders risk'
One in every 17 people who have had Covid-19 could be diagnosed with anxiety, depression or insomnia for the first time, a study of millions of US patient health records suggests. That is about double the risk from other illnesses, the researchers say. Unexpectedly, they also found existing psychiatric patients were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19. This could be linked to their physical health or drugs prescribed to treat disorders, the researchers speculated. They should be given appropriate care, the Oxford team said. But they stopped short of asking psychiatric patients to shield or think of themselves as extremely vulnerable.
Israelis may be infected with new coronavirus strain from Denmark minks
Three Israelis who returned from Denmark and were confirmed as infected with the novel coronavirus may have been infected with the new strain discovered among minks in the country recently, according to KAN news. The new strain may have decreased sensitivity to antibodies, which could impact future vaccines, although studies are still being conducted to verify this.
Colombia implemented a six-month lockdown to control coronavirus but there was a steep price to pay
With her beaming smile, jovial manner and contagious air of enthusiasm, it's difficult to imagine Gloria Zuluaga ever losing her optimism. Yet in May, as COVID-19 cases began to surge in Colombia, the 52-year-old restaurant owner found herself helpless and fearing the worst. Standing outside a hospital in Bogota under one of the capital's infamous tropical downpours, she pleaded with hospital staff for help. She felt faint, her airways closed up and she choked for breath. "I was sweating, choking and I started shaking like I had epilepsy," Zuluaga recalls. "I felt so vulnerable." As she suspected, the symptoms were diagnosed as having been caused by the novel coronavirus — though not directly.
Coronavirus: Should New Zealand copy Taiwan's leading COVID-19 response?
The Detail is a daily news podcast produced for RNZ by Newsroom and is published on Newshub with permission. Click on this link to subscribe to the podcast. Taiwan is held up as best in class when it comes to controlling coronavirus and calls are getting louder for New Zealand to follow its lead and end the disruptive lockdowns that are so damaging to the economy. Today The Detail's Sharon Brettkelly looks at how this country of nearly 24 million people on an island a third the size of the South Island, tops the world with around 568 cases and just seven deaths compared with New Zealand's 1973-odd cases and 25 deaths. Taiwan-based New Zealander Ron Hanson talks to Sharon Brettkelly about the similarities and differences between the two countries' strategies
World is running out of time on climate, experts warn
World leaders are running out of time to forge a green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, with only a year to go before a crunch UN summit that will decide the future of the global climate, leading experts have warned. Progress on a green recovery, which would reduce emissions while repairing the damage from the pandemic, has been hampered by the need for an emergency rescue of stricken economies around the world and the resurgence of the coronavirus in Europe, the US and some other countries. But with global heating showing no sign of slowing, and the danger signals of climate breakdown increasingly evident – from the Arctic ice to American wildfires – the race is on to build the global economy back better.
Behind Pfizer's vaccine, an understated husband-and-wife 'dream team'
Positive data on BioNTech and U.S. partner Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine is an unlikely success for the married couple behind the German biotech firm, who have devoted their lives to harnessing the immune system against cancer.Pfizer said on Monday said its experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data from a large study
COVID-19 cases top 10 million in US as Biden sets up task force
President-elect Biden set to announce a 12-member task force to deal with pandemic as US becomes first country to cross 10 million cases. The development on Sunday came as global coronavirus cases exceeded 50 million.
Lockdown in paradise: Antigua’s plea for visitors
Osmilta Prince sits on a rock beneath a palm tree, her homemade mask covering her face. By her feet, is a basket of handmade shell bracelets and calabash bowls. Close by, a laminated sign reads: “Stay Apart 6 feet – or 9½ coconuts”. By this time of day, the 48-year-old single mother will have ordinarily sold enough curios to put food on the table to feed her four sons. But today, the sun-loungers on this usually popular beach are mostly empty. “It’s scary to realise that this could go on for another year,” she says, taking in the quiet beach. “This is my income, and the modest savings I have won’t last. I don’t want to go and beg. Everything I earn now goes on food because there hasn’t been a chance to save since we reopened.”
Exit Strategies
Covid-19 Quarantine Debate Shifts From Hotels to Homes
One of the most in-depth examinations of hotel quarantines since the coronavirus crisis began has concluded that some travellers should be allowed to self-isolate at home. The recommendation, from a government panel in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, could offer lessons to other countries seeking ways to reopen their borders. The panel was set up by state-level authorities to investigate the hotel-quarantine program after a second-wave outbreak in Melbourne was linked to hotels, where the virus spread from travellers to personnel such as security guards. Allowing people to quarantine at home could make travel more palatable for those who can’t afford pricey hotel bills, or don’t want to spend weeks cooped up in a hotel room. It would also ease the workload for health care workers at quarantine hotels and allow more inbound travellers if hotels are full.
We may soon have a COVID-19 vaccine. But will enough people take it?
With COVID-19 vaccine trial results looking positive, governments and pharmaceutical firms face their next daunting challenge: convincing the world to get inoculated. Public resistance to vaccines has been much discussed this year, but the issue became very real on Monday when Pfizer and BioNTech announced their candidate was more than 90% effective in large trials - hoisting an actual shot onto the horizon. Numerous opinion polls carried out before and during the pandemic showed confidence is volatile, and that political polarization and online misinformation threatens uptake. Many people have concerns about the accelerated speed of COVID-19 vaccine development.
Israel asks for U.S. help in getting potential Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Israel said it asked the U.S. government on Monday to help it get access to Pfizer's potential COVID-19 vaccine. Earlier in the day, Pfizer Inc said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the world’s economy and upended daily life. Israel’s finance minister Israel Katz said he had discussed the vaccine during talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. “I asked Mnuchin for help in supplying the vaccine to Israel in parallel with its supply to the United States, as part of an agreement signed between the U.S. administration and the company for the immediate delivery of 600 million doses,” Katz said in a statement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an important day in the fight against the pandemic and said “the end is in site”. “My goal at the moment is to do one thing - to bring vaccines to you citizens of Israel, and we will do so,” he said.
Covid in Scotland: Easing of restrictions 'highly unlikely'
Scotland's Covid-19 restrictions are "highly unlikely" to be eased when they are reviewed on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon has said. Tuesday will mark the first review of local measures under Scotland's new five-level alert system. The first minister said the curbs currently in place had undoubtedly had an impact on the spread of the virus. However, she said it was important for this to translate into a "significant and sustained reduction in cases". Ms Sturgeon said she "would not expect areas to go down a level", and that "careful judgement" would be given to whether any councils had to move up a level.
UK must 'plan a path' to Christmas says Welsh First Minister
According to the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, the UK must plan a path to Christmas amid the coronavirus pandemic and he called on the UK Government – specifically cabinet minister Michael Gove – to make good on the promised meeting of the four nations to discuss a single approach.His comments come as Wales prepares to come out of a 17-day firebreak lockdown on Monday, while England continues in its month-long lockdown which ends at the start of December.“I really hope that meeting materialises," said Mr Drakeford. “The restrictions people have had to live with are incredibly difficult and demanding, and everybody is tried and fatigued of coronavirus.
How will we know when England can come out of lockdown?
The next couple of weeks will be crucial in determining what kind of Christmas we have this year: a lonely, joyless affair in front of our TVs or, at best, a modest celebration, sharing the odd Christmas cracker with one or two close relatives. The arithmetic that will determine the outcome is straightforward, say scientists. If we are to have any prospect of getting out of national lockdown in four weeks, then case numbers of Covid-19 will have to fall – significantly. And it will not be obvious that we are succeeding in reaching that goal until we are in the third or fourth week of our 28-day seclusion.
‘Cost of lockdown in India wasn’t justified’
Delay in enforcing a strict lockdown and a stimulus equal to 3 per cent of GDP would have helped lessen the economic impact of the pandemic, feels economist Abhijit Banerjee who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019 along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer. He was in conversation with Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express, and author and journalist Shankkar Aiyar on TNIE’s Expressions, a series of live webcasts with people who matter.
Coronavirus: Has pandemic fatigue taken hold in India?
People in India are increasingly lowering their guard during the ongoing festival season, despite the high risk of contracting COVID-19. Many restrictions have been lifted, but the pandemic is far from over. Rudra Nath, 42, a factory foreman in Alwar district of northwestern Rajasthan state, says he feels exasperated having to tell his co-workers to keep their masks on all the time. It has been over a month since the iron fabrication factory resumed production. Since June, the government has been gradually relaxing restrictions on public movement and commerce meant to contain the coronavirus.
As Covid-19 cases drop, South Korea revises physical distancing guidelines
South Korea has eased its level of physical distancing regulations – even though authorities are concerned that the Covid-19 virus could spread more easily during the coming winter season. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the move was made as the average daily number of new cases has remained below 100 over the past week. It has introduced a revised five-tier scheme, which took effect on Saturday, and is based on the average number of daily infections per week. The new system divides the nation into seven zones and allows provincial governments to decide the level of their own physical distancing regulations in line with the number of new infections in their respective regions.
Revealed: Covid recovery plans threaten global climate hopes
The prospect of a global green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is hanging in the balance, as countries pour money into the fossil fuel economy to stave off a devastating recession, an analysis for the Guardian reveals. Meanwhile, promises of a low-carbon boost are failing to materialise. Only a handful of major countries are pumping rescue funds into low-carbon efforts such as renewable power, electric vehicles and energy efficiency. A new Guardian ranking finds the EU is a frontrunner, devoting 30% of its €750bn (£677bn) Next Generation Recovery Fund to green ends. France and Germany have earmarked about €30bn and €50bn respectively of their own additional stimulus for environmental spending.
Wales sees 'early positive signs' as it comes out of firebreak lockdown, first minister says
Wales has seen “early positive signs” in its fight against coronavirus as it comes out of its firebreak lockdown, its first minister has said. In a press conference on Monday, Mark Drakeford said there had already been signs that COVID-19 cases were “beginning to fall”. The country’s short 17-day coronavirus lockdown ended on Monday and was replaced with a new set of national measures. Groups of up to four people can now meet up in cafes, pubs and restaurants, while shops, gyms, hairdressers and places of worship will also reopen.
Locked out: Stranded Australians call foul over COVID-19 cap
Syam Mohan, a 33-year-old geriatrics nurse, took three weeks’ leave in early February to travel with his wife and three-month-old son from Sydney to Kerala in India for a family wedding. By the time their return date approached, coronavirus cases had emerged in Malaysia, where the young family had a stopover as part of their journey home. Fearing that their infant son, Milan, would be at higher risk of infection, Mohan made the difficult decision to leave his wife and son with family in Kerala and fly home alone on February 27. He expected they would be able to join him a few weeks later once the crisis calmed.
Israel tests passengers from Denmark for new mutated coronavirus
Israel said on Monday it would test people arriving from Denmark for a new mutated strain of coronavirus stemming from Danish mink farms, and ask them to self-isolate. The health ministry issued the statement after unconfirmed reports by N12 News and other media that three Israelis returning from Denmark were suspected of having been infected with the new strain. “The likelihood of a patient carrying the mutation arriving in Israel is low ... At the same time we are exercising extra caution,” the ministry said.
UK making good progress on travel testing to cut quarantine - minister
Britain is making good progress with a plan to allow COVID-19 tests to cut a 14-day quarantine period for those returning from abroad, a change which could help fuel a travel recovery once current lockdowns end, the transport minister said. Airport bosses welcomed the update from the minister, Grant Shapps, at an online conference but said more needed to be done. The top priority for them is that the government eliminates the requirement for quarantine through testing for the coronavirus. “We’re making very good progress on a ‘test to release programme’ to launch once we’re out of this lockdown,” Shapps said on Monday. “Once we emerge from the lockdown, we can roll out new systems to help get people flying and travelling again.”
Partisan Exits
UK vaccines taskforce chair to step down - FT
UK vaccines taskforce chair Kate Bingham is to step down from her post at the end of the year amid criticism that she spent 670,000 pounds ($881,000) on public relations consultants, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Bingham’s use of a private sector company to oversee communications for her task force has caused concern in the government, and on Monday, government officials said she was not expected to continue in the job into 2021, the newspaper reported. The FT said, citing a Sunday Times report, that Bingham had used eight full-time consultants from London PR agency Admiral Associates to oversee her media strategy, and has contracted them until the end of the year. Under Bingham’s vaccine taskforce, Britain has secured supply deals for more than 350 million doses of six different COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
PM Johnson says still too early to rely on COVID-19 vaccine
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was ready to roll out a mass COVID-19 vaccination programme but it was too early to rely on a vaccine as a solution to the coronavirus pandemic. “I must stress that these are very, very early days, and we’ve talked for a long time, right about the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the brow of the hill,” Johnson told a media conference after Pfizer said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective. “I can tell you that tonight that today that toot, that bugle is louder, but it’s still some way off. We absolutely cannot rely on this news, as a solution.”
UK expects to get 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this year
Britain expects to have 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s candidate COVID-19 vaccine available by the end of the year, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said there were several hurdles to go after its positive clinical trial results.
Vaccine hesitancy may undermine fight against COVID-19, UK report says
An 80% uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine may be needed to protect communities from the novel coronavirus, but volatile levels of misinformation and vaccine mistrust could undermine efforts to tackle the pandemic, British scientists said on Tuesday. A report by scientific institutions the British Academy and the Royal Society found that, in part due to circulating misinformation and behavioural factors, around 36% of people in Britain say they are either uncertain or very unlikely to agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19. It said an “open dialogue” is critical to building public support for COVID-19 vaccination, and called for a “frank conversation” to manage public expectations that life will not immediately get back to normal when vaccines arrive.
Covid-19: Four arrested over Manchester anti-lockdown demo
The organiser of an anti-lockdown demonstration attended by 600 people in Manchester has been fined £10,000. The protest in Piccadilly Gardens was condemned by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as "irresponsible" after new Covid rules came into force. Police officers suffered minor injuries at Sunday's event, which included protesters who had travelled from Cumbria, said GMP. The force said the organiser ignored its pleas to call off the event.
Coronavirus UK: Boris Johnson feels 'bounced into second lockdown'
Boris Johnson felt pushed into a second lockdown by misleading data, a Government source has suggested. It comes as some of the figures backing up strict new measures this month have started falling apart in the last week – particularly the 4,000 potential deaths a day warning. The early leak of the lockdown plans may also have escalated the situation, the source claimed. One Cabinet minister told the Daily Mail: ‘I think he is concerned that he may have been bounced into it.
Trump tried to justify rising Covid cases by pointing to Europe. Experts say he's wrong.
For President Donald Trump, 2020 will be defined by his coronavirus response. And in recent weeks, he has sought to deflect the mountains of criticism he has received by pointing to the escalating Covid-19 outbreaks across Europe. "Our numbers are much better than Europe," the president said in September. He said during the final presidential debate last month that "it's all over the world — you see the spikes in Europe and many other places right now."
Protests in Germany over national lockdown
Protests in Germany over national lockdown as thousands call for Merkel to quit Protests have erupted in Germany as thousands took to the streets all around the country on Saturday, November 7 after the country entered into a four-week partial lockdown on Monday. Bars, restaurants, gyms and theatres have all been closed, but schools remain open.
Victoria's lockdown 'went too far, businesses have been crushed'
Melbourne restaurateur Chris Lucas says the Victorian government needs to be sensitive that the decision to lockdown the state went too far, crushed businesses, caused hundreds to lose their jobs and took away the futures of so many people. His comments come regarding the recent develops to Victoria’s reopening, with the 'ring of steel' surrounding the city coming down. Pubs, cafés and restaurants can now serve up to 40 people inside and 70 outside, with increases to 100 patrons indoors, and 200 outside expected from the 23rd of November. “The government needs to be a little bit sensitive about what is going on with regards to these re-opening plans,” Mr Lucas told Sky News host Peta Credlin.
Italy's national unity splinters in face of COVID-19 second wave
Italy won plaudits for its discipline and unity in fighting the Western world’s first coronavirus outbreak in the spring, but that sense of common purpose is unravelling in the face of the second wave. Despite a surge in infections and deaths, Italians who stoically accepted a blanket national lockdown in March are now less willing to respect far less rigid restrictions, egged on by local politicians at odds with the government in Rome.
COVID-19: Biden pleads ‘wear a mask’ ahead of ‘very dark winter’
US President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation after meeting with his transition coronavirus advisory board on Monday, calling for unity and simple steps to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said, “Please, I implore you, wear a mask” during the speech in Wilmington, Delaware. He noted masks could save the lives of older people, children and teachers and added: “It could even save your own life.” Biden became the projected winner of the US presidential election on Saturday, after Pennsylvania was called for the former vice president. Biden is currently projected to have 290 Electoral College votes, more than the 270 required for victory, according to The Associated Press news agency. Trump currently sits at 214, with Alaska and North Carolina still not called but favouring the president. Georgia too close to call and the small margin will trigger an automatic recount.
Anti-lockdown protesters chant ‘take off your masks’ at 600-strong march
Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Manchester city centre this afternoon amid chants of ‘take of your masks’. Around 600 people congregated in Piccadilly Gardens, not complying to social distancing and few wearing masks. Among them were a group of people who had travelled on a coach from Cumbria. Many of them carried placards, one of which read: ‘Fear is the currency of control.’ One speaker using a loud-hailer told the crowd: ‘Those 300-plus politicians that voted for the lockdown are treasonous.
Continued Lockdown
Covid-19 sniffer dogs that can sniff out virus in a second could soon come to Leeds
Specially-trained dogs that can sniff out coronavirus could soon be spotted in Leeds. The clever canines, which have been trained by the charity Medical Detection Dogs, can detect Covid-19 on people. The adorable Labradors were put through the paces at London Paddington train station in a trial earlier this month, where health secretary Matt Hancock was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall to see them in action. There are suggestions the sniffer dogs could be deployed in busy areas such as train stations and shopping centres to try and find people with Covid-19 and therefore minimise the risk of asymptomatic people mixing with others.
Covid: Wales has lessons for England on surviving lockdown
When Covid struck, no-one quite understood how ruinous its ripples would be. As England begins a new lockdown, Michael Buchanan has been in Wales, which has emerged from a short, sharp shutdown, to see the effect of the economic shock. While thousands of families grieve lives abruptly ended by Covid, others mourn the lives they once led. For Dorne Williams, the pandemic has been calamitous. "It has cost me my relationship, my mental health and my friends, who are too frightened to visit." We're talking on the doorstep of her small terraced house in Pontypool. First came the "nasty" virus, she says.
The real cost of lockdown: Australia faces a mental health crisis
Psychiatrist has warned Australia faces a dangerous new mental health crisis Called for policy-makers to turn society upside down to flatten the new curve The COVID-19 pandemic has left many unemployed and struggling to cope
In Britain, the poppy appeal grapples with COVID-19 lockdown
Britain’s poppy appeal, when tens of millions buy a red paper or metal poppy to remember the war dead and help armed forces families, is facing a battle of its own - collecting money amid the strictest lockdown in peacetime history. Charities across the world are struggling after the novel coronavirus lockdowns closed swathes of the economy, drove millions out of work and shuttered normal life - including many traditional ways of giving. Even the hardy Remembrance Poppy has been threatened. Red poppies sprang up beside the fallen amid the carnage of World War One trench warfare in the fields of Flanders, a contrast that swiftly graced some of the grief-stricken poetry of the so-called Great War.
French economy operating down 12% under new lockdown: central bank
France’s economic activity is 12% lower than normal this month after the country entered a coronavirus lockdown for the second time this year, the central bank said on Monday. The government imposed the new lockdown on Oct. 30 to rein in a surge in new cases although the restrictions were softer than the first time to limit the impact to the euro zone’s second-biggest economy. The Bank of France said economic activity was expected to be reduced by 12% of normal levels as a result, worse than the 4% drop in October but far better than the 31% loss seen in April during one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.
NSPCC warns of lockdown's toll on children's mental health
Rising stress levels have taken a toll on the mental and emotional health of young people since the first coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March, children’s charity the NSPCC has warned. Calls to the charity’s ChildLine service reached nearly 43,000 between March and October, with mental health worries making up more than a third of all its counselling sessions, new figures showed. The NSPCC said its counsellors had heard from children who were feeling isolated, anxious and insecure after being cut off from their usual social support networks. Some children had developed eating disorders such as binge eating and bulimia for the first time, while others with existing eating disorders had reported worse symptoms or had relapsed, the charity found.
Scientific Viewpoint
English study suggests T cells could be sufficient to protect from COVID-19
High levels of so-called “T cells” that respond to the coronavirus could be sufficient to offer protection against infection, an English study said on Tuesday, adding to the evidence of the crucial role they play in immunity to COVID-19. T cells, a type of white blood cell that makes up part of a healthy immune system, are thought to be essential to protect against infection from the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus, and could provide longer term immunity than antibodies. The study on nearly 3,000 people, conducted by Oxford Immunotec and Public Health England (PHE), found that no participants with a high T cell response developed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection when researchers followed up with them.
Eli Lilly receives authorisation for Covid-19 antibody treatment
The US Food and Drug Administration has given Eli Lilly the first emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 antibody treatment, which the drugmaker hopes will help vulnerable people avoid hospitalisation. Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab therapy has been authorised for mild-to-moderate patients, who are at risk for developing a more serious condition, such as the elderly, or those with chronic illnesses. The treatment — designed to boost the immune system of patients with artificially engineered antibodies — is the first drug developed for use this early in the disease. David Ricks, Eli Lilly’s chief executive, said it was a “valuable tool for doctors fighting the now-increasing burden of this global pandemic”.
Why Pfizer’s ultra-cold COVID-19 vaccine will not be at the local pharmacy any time soon
Work to distribute the experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech is gearing up after the companies announced successful interim data earlier on Monday, but it will not be coming to local pharmacies for the general public any time soon.
Scientists reveal the most accurate and up-to-date visualisation of the Covid-19 coronavirus yet
Scientists have released the most up-to-date illustration of the coronavirus ever made, mapping both its external appearance and internal structure. The visualisation was created via a 3D model and combines the latest data on the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is causing the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia created the model and hope it can help create treatments for Covid-19. In a video the academics showcase their model which includes the protein spikes on its surface as well as the genetic material wound up inside the viral membrane.
Covid vaccine: First 'milestone' vaccine offers 90% protection
The first effective coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, a preliminary analysis shows. The developers - Pfizer and BioNTech - described it as a "great day for science and humanity". Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised. The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month. No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time.
Covid-19 news: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is 'more than 90% effective'
A coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by Pfizer is “more than 90% effective in preventing covid-19”, according to early results, the company announced today. The results have been described as “reason for optimism for 2021” by Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer. Joe Biden, US president-elect, said this was “excellent news”, but warned that “the end of the battle against covid-19 is still months away” as it will take “many more months before there is widespread vaccination.” Pfizer said that an early analysis of the results from the phase III trial found more than 90 per cent fewer symptomatic coronavirus cases among trial participants who received two doses of the vaccine candidate three weeks apart compared to those who received a placebo. So far in the trial, 38,955 people have received two doses of either vaccine or placebo as of 8 November, and there have been 94 confirmed coronavirus cases in total among them. The results have not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, and Pfizer said further analysis will occur once there have been 164 confirmed coronavirus cases among the participants. Pfizer is developing the vaccine in partnership with German biotechnology company BioNTech.
Italy faces 10,000 Covid deaths in a month with no lockdown – medics
Doctors in Italy have warned there will be an additional 10,000 Covid-19 deaths in a month in the country unless a national lockdown is imposed. The government is moving toward placing further restrictions in four more regions considered high risk: Campania, Liguria, Abruzzo and Umbria. The Italian Order of Doctors, however, has urged tougher action as hospitals struggle to find space for coronavirus patients. Ambulances have been queuing outside emergency units from Turin in the north to Naples in the south. People were treated for Covid-19 in their cars outside Cotugno hospital in Naples, the capital of Campania, over the weekend. One 78-year-old woman waited in an ambulance for 26 hours before being admitted to hospital.
Spell of heavy smog in Indian capital raises fears for COVID patients
Residents of the Indian capital are enduring one of the worst spells of air pollution in years, data released on Monday showed, raising the risks to city residents posed by the novel coronavirus, doctors said. Pollution in New Delhi had almost disappeared earlier this year, when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to stop the coronavirus. But the curbs have been lifted and the pollution, and the virus, are back with a vengeance. Delhi’s overall air quality index (AQI), which includes the concentration of PM2.5 particles as well as bigger pollutants, has stayed above 400, on a scale of 500, for five consecutive days, government data showed. The tiny PM2.5 particles can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases including lung cancer, and pose a particular risk for people with COVID 19.
Researchers worry over children with COVID-19
Are children a major source of contagion for COVID-19? Ten months into a pandemic that has claimed 1.2 million lives, experts are still divided on the question, even as governments must decide whether to keep classrooms open or shut. During the first wave of infection, scientific consensus formed around the concern that children might be a crucial vector — as they are for the flu — in spreading the novel coronavirus. And then, moving into the summer, the opposite idea took hold: Children, especially young ones, did not infect others that much, several studies suggested. “If you look at the scientific literature, it’s really not very clear,” said Dominique Costagliola, an epidemiologist at the Marie and Pierre Curie Faculty of the Sorbonne University in Paris.
How Biden plans to change the US pandemic response
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris say they will move the US Covid-19 pandemic response in a dramatically different direction. "The pandemic is getting significantly more worrisome all across the country," Biden said on Friday. "I want everyone to know on day one, we're going to put our plan to control this virus into action." There were dauntingly high new case numbers last week, and by the time Biden takes office January 20, the influential University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation model projects there will be more than 372,000 Covid-19 deaths -- that's 135,000 more than the current total.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Later lockdown could have spelt 200 deaths
Two hundred Kiwis may have died had the Government held off ordering our nationwide lockdown for another three weeks - while nearly 12,000 people may have been infected. That's the stark upshot of newly-published modelling that's underscored how crucial New Zealand's "go hard, go early" response to Covid-19 was in sparing the country a calamity - and putting it on path to elimination. The paper, by researchers at University of Auckland-based Te Punaha Matatini, also suggested a slightly earlier lockdown may have spared several hundred infections - but added that might have been impractical at the time anyway. The modelling took a sweeping look at New Zealand's initial approach to the pandemic, to find that the lockdown proved a much stronger driver in bringing down daily cases than border closures.
Asymptomatic coronavirus patient shed virus for 70 days: study
A 71-year-old hospital patient with leukemia tested positive for the novel coronavirus in March. She was thought to have remained infectious for at least 70 days, according to the lead author of a recent case study about the woman. The case study indicates that immunosuppressed people who get the coronavirus could remain contagious for longer than previously thought.
Inside Operation Warp Speed: Coronavirus vaccine rolls off US production lines ahead of FDA approval as Army General in charge of distribution says he fears public won't take it
General Gus Perna was two months from retirement in May when Donald Trump asked him to head up Operation Warp Speed, which aims to get 300 million Americans vaccinated for COVID. It is the largest and most expensive vaccination program ever with $12billion already spent. 60 Minutes showed footage of vials rolling off the line at a facility in Baltimore - but did not say which of several competing coronavirus vaccines were being produced there. Perna would not say how many doses had already been prepared, but said the vaccine could be rolled out immediately if approval granted. The leading candidate, by Pfizer, could be approved as soon as next month
Coronavirus: Pfizer vaccine found to be 90% effective in 'great day for science and humanity'
The coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be 90% effective in preventing people from getting the virus. Phase 3 of Pfizer's trial involved 43,538 participants from six countries. They received two doses of either the immunisation or a placebo, with 90% protected from the virus within 28 days of having their jabs. Only 94 people who took part in the trial developed coronavirus and no serious safety concerns were reported, the US pharmaceutical firm said.
Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective
The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people. Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts.
Covid-19 vaccine candidate is 90% effective, says manufacturer
Hopes are soaring that a Covid vaccine is within reach, following news that an interim analysis has shown Pfizer/BioNTech’s candidate was 90% effective in protecting people from transmission of the virus in global trials. The vaccine performed much better than most experts had hoped for, according to the companies’ analysis, and brings into view a potential end to a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered economies and upended daily life worldwide. The data is from an interim analysis and the trial continues into December but the headline results were emphatic. Regulators will be looking to process an emergency licence application at record speed.
One in five COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days: study
Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said on Monday, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients in the study who developed mental health problems, and the researchers also found significantly higher risks of dementia, a brain impairment condition. “People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings ... show this to be likely,” said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Britain’s Oxford University.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Covid-19: Global coronavirus cases pass 50 million
The total of confirmed coronavirus cases has surged past 50 million following record numbers of new cases in several countries. More than 1.25 million people have now died after contracting the virus, according to Johns Hopkins university. But the numbers are thought to be higher because of insufficient testing in many countries. A second wave of the virus has accounted for a quarter of all cases, Reuters reported. Europe, with more than 12.5 million cases and 305,700 deaths, is again a hotspot after being the first epicentre of the pandemic earlier this year. In the US just under 10 million have tested positive. It has seen more than 125,000 cases per day three days in a row.
From lockdowns to Dr. Fauci: Here's how President-elect Joe Biden plans to fight the coronavirus pandemic
The U.S. can expect increased Covid-19 testing, a national mask mandate and the possibility of nationwide lockdowns once President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20. Biden has also said he plans to repair the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization. The transition team wasted no time, naming its own Covid-19 advisory board on Monday.
Italy’s coronavirus situation is ‘out of control’ and a new national lockdown is needed, country’s health chiefs warn
Health expert Massimo Galli has backed calls for a second national lockdown Italy recorded 32,616 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday and 331 more deaths Health service is under strain with some patients being treated in corridors Government is desperate to avoid an economically-crippling full lockdown
France and Italy report record cases as virus ravages Europe.
As winter approaches, Europe is struggling with a brutal resurgence of the virus, one that, along with the U.S. surge, has helped push the global case count over 50 million, according to a New York Times database. France and Italy have reported record daily case totals in recent days as both countries have moved to lock down some regions. In Italy, where the devastation of the first wave in the spring looms large, 39,809 new coronavirus cases were reported on Saturday, a new daily record. Its daily average has increased by 119 percent over the past two weeks. Deaths in Italy have increased by a staggering 232 percent over the past two weeks, with 425 deaths reported on Saturday.
Boris Johnson needs an Australian-style Covid plan
In a typical year, Australia makes as many ripples in British public life as you would expect from a rich, war-free country of 25m people at the other end of the world, which is to say not many. As a transplanted antipodean in London, this year has not felt typical. It began with news from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that it did not matter if Britain failed to get the EU trade deal it wanted by the end of the year because it could always have what he called an arrangement “like Australia’s”. This idea of an Australian-style trade deal took off like a dingo strapped to a Saturn V rocket. There were only four days in the entire month of October when the term did not appear somewhere in the British media, news databases show. That is even more astonishing considering Australia does not actually have a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU. And it was just the start of it.
Boris Johnson needs an Australian-style Covid plan
In a typical year, Australia makes as many ripples in British public life as you would expect from a rich, war-free country of 25m people at the other end of the world, which is to say not many. As a transplanted antipodean in London, this year has not felt typical. It began with news from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that it did not matter if Britain failed to get the EU trade deal it wanted by the end of the year because it could always have what he called an arrangement “like Australia’s”. This idea of an Australian-style trade deal took off like a dingo strapped to a Saturn V rocket. There were only four days in the entire month of October when the term did not appear somewhere in the British media, news databases show. That is even more astonishing considering Australia does not actually have a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU. And it was just the start of it.
New Lockdown
Andalusia confines its municipalities and suspends all non-essential business activity from 6pm
The 8.4 million inhabitants of Spain’s Andalusia region will be confined to their municipalities from Tuesday, November 10 until November 23, as the regional government toughens its coronavirus restrictions. The hospitality sector and all non-essential activity will have to close at 6pm, apart from in the province of Granada, where the high rates of infection – currently at 1,194 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days – have prompted the authorities to implement a total shutdown. The nighttime curfew will be brought forward to 10pm and will last until 7am. Growing pressure on the region’s hospitals due to coronavirus cases has prompted the Andalusian government to take this action, which also includes obligatory online classes for university students. The plan was announced on Sunday by the regional premier, Juan Manuel Romero of the conservative Popular Party (PP), who explained that over this week a plan will be approved that will help to compensate the losses from the hostelry and retail sector, but did not go into detail about the assistance.
Coronavirus: Hungary and Portugal in partial lockdown
Hungary and Portugal are introducing new coronavirus restrictions to stem the second wave of infection now affecting most of Europe. Hungary's partial lockdown will include starting the current night curfew earlier, so it runs from 20:00 to 05:00 local time (19:00 to 04:00 GMT). Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the month-long curbs would include limits on public gatherings and closure of schools, restaurants and universities. Portugal has imposed a night curfew. Its state of emergency has started and is set to last at least two weeks. The curfew covers 70% of the population, including Lisbon and Porto. On weekdays it runs from 23:00 to 05:00 local time, but at weekends it will run from 13:00 to 05:00. Hungary's state of emergency is expected to get parliamentary approval on Tuesday, as Mr Orban's supporters have a majority.
New COVID Lockdown Triggers Fight Over Fate Of France's Bookstores
While small business owners across France are feeling the pinch of the nation’s second COVID lockdown, the economic plight of bookstores has taken center stage in the roaring debate about how to fight the pandemic. Late last month, President Emmanuel Macron announced the nation would go into confinement again as COVID rates raced out of control. But he also signaled that this second lockdown would be different based on lessons learned from the two-month shutdown in the Spring. For instance, schools that closed earlier this year have remained largely open.
France to 'limit impact' of new lockdown with schools, public services open
The Banque de France predicts economic activity in November will decline by 12 percent under the country's second Covid-19 lockdown. That compares to a 31 percent decline during the first confinement in April, with the decision to maintain public services and keep schools open playing "a key role" in limiting the economic impact. The new figures were published on Monday in Banque de France's economic forecast under the new lockdown measures.
Hungary announces lockdown measures to curb coronavirus infections -PM Orban
Hungary will close secondary schools, universities and restaurants and will impose an extended night-time curfew as of midnight on Tuesday to curb a fast rise in coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on Monday on his Facebook page. Orban said sports events will be held behind closed doors, and all gatherings will be banned. He said the new lockdown measures were needed because “if coronavirus infections rise at the current pace... Hungarian hospitals will not be able to cope with the burden.”
Ukraine considers lockdown at weekends - President Zelenskiy
Ukraine may introduce a lockdown at weekends in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus and such a move would not have a serious negative impact on the economy, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday. “A temporary lockdown at weekends, for about a few weeks, can help us to avoid a harder lockdown,” presidential press service quoted Zelenskiy as saying.
UK shopper numbers plummet as new English lockdown bites
Total shopper numbers, or footfall, across British retail destinations fell 15.4% in the week to Nov. 7 versus the previous week, reflecting the start of England’s new national lockdown, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. With COVID-19 infections rising at an alarming rate the British government imposed a second national lockdown for England, starting last Thursday and running until Dec. 2.