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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 21st Dec 2020

News Highlights

Global cases surpass the 75 million mark

Cases of Covid-19 surpassed 75 million on Saturday. In the previous month, new cases numbered 18.65 million - the highest number in a thirty day period since the start of the pandemic. Europe is the region with the most cases so far, with 21.6 million. North America, Latin America and Asia follow, recording 17.9 million, 14.5 million and thirteen million cases respectively.

Christmas cancelled for many in the UK

The UK government has backtracked on loosening restrictions for much of the country. Fears over a new strain of the novel coronavirus propmpted the strictest tier of restrictions to be imposed in London and large swathes of southern and eastern England, effectively cancelling Christmas as normal. Wales and Scotland also saw tighter restrictions imposed by their regional governments.

Political leaders publicly take the vaccine to inspire confidence

A number of political leaders woldwide have publicly taken or pledged to take the Covid-19 vaccine to inspire confidence. In the U.S., president-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr Jill Biden will receive the vaccine on Monday. Vice President Mike Pence received it publicly on Friday. Other leaders to have taken the vaccine publicly to instil confidence include Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Continued fears that lower-income countries will miss out on the vaccine - but new deals offer hope

Fears continue to abound in many lower-income countries that they will struggle to obtain a Covid-19 vaccine. Some wealthier countries have acquired a larger suply of doses than their countries need. For many lower-income nations, 'getting a Covid vaccine is still a waiting game.' However, there may be hope with the World Health Organization announcing a slew of deals for nearly two billion doses of promising vaccine candidates to be administered in the first half of 2021.

Lockdown Exit
Postcards from Wuhan: One year on, residents share lockdown memories, hopes for 2021
In China’s Wuhan, the original epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, the city’s residents are returning to normal life, even as they continue to grapple with memories of the early outbreak, which struck fear in the city. It’s been almost seven months since the city recorded a locally transmitted case of the disease due to a strict city-wide lockdown and a mass testing event of almost all the city’s 11 million residents. Today, restaurants, shopping streets and bars are crowded, but locals are still experiencing the lasting impact of the lockdown on mental health and work.
European states ban travel from UK as new Covid strain takes hold
European countries have banned flights and ferries carrying passengers from the UK in a desperate attempt to suppress the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus that has plunged south-east England into a tier 4 lockdown. In the most dramatic development, France announced it was suspending passenger and human-handled freight transport from the UK for 48 hours from 11pm GMT. The Road Haulage Association warned the move would have a “devastating effect” on supply chains already disrupted by Brexit stockpiling and pandemic restrictions. The UK government said it expected “significant disruption in Kent” as a result of the French move and was “urging everybody – including all hauliers” to avoid travelling to ports in the county until further notice.
Congress agrees to a Covid stimulus deal. Here’s who’s likely eligible for a $600 check and when you’ll get it
After months of failed negotiations, lawmakers have finally agreed to a new $900 billion coronavirus relief package. Congressional leaders have not yet released text of the more than $2 trillion legislation — which will include broader government spending measures — but the pandemic recovery bill was set to include direct payments of up to $600 to eligible adults, plus $600 per child dependent. While the adult benefit would be half the size of the first stimulus check, the amount earmarked for qualifying dependents was raised by $100.
Stanford apologizes for coronavirus vaccine plan that left out many front-line doctors
Stanford Health Care apologized Friday for a plan that left nearly all of its young front-line doctors out of the first round of coronavirus vaccinations. The Palo Alto, Calif., medical center promised an immediate fix that would move the physicians into the first wave of inoculations. Stanford’s turnaround followed a raucous demonstration by some of those doctors, who demanded to know why other health-care workers — including pathologists and radiologists who do not attend to covid-19 patients — would be vaccinated before they are.
Scott Morrison's economic humblebrag disproved by New Zealand comeback
Here’s some news I reckon some of you will have missed in a stressful week. New Zealand’s economy grew by 14% between July and September. Yep, 14%. Feel free to select your superlative of choice: stellar, extraordinary, remarkable. No rush, I’ll wait. While you are doing that, let me give you some context. The report card from across the ditch isn’t all brilliant. When assessed year-on-year, New Zealand’s economy shrank by 2.2%. Why? Because the pandemic isn’t over. The world remains mired in the biggest global economic crisis since the Great Depression.
President-Elect Biden Will Get Coronavirus Vaccine Monday
President-elect Joe Biden and first lady-elect Dr. Jill Biden will receive the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Monday, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Friday, noting he is taking the vaccine publicly to show the American people it is safe.
Exit Strategies
Egypt receives second batch of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine
Egypt has received its second shipment totaling 50,000 doses of anti-coronavirus vaccines developed by Chinese company Sinopharm, local magazine Egypt Today reported. The delivery brings the country's total inventory of the jab to 100,000, enough to have 50,000 people vaccinated. Each individual will need two doses of the vaccine, with an interval of 21 days in between. Unnamed sources at Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population told Egypt Today that the country aims to provide 10 million doses of the Chinese vaccine to its people, with the nation expected to receive more doses in Dec.
Moderna vaccine shipments begin as US reels under Covid surge
Asked if the US could soon see “up to 5,000 deaths a day”, Trump administration vaccine adviser Dr Moncef Slaoui told CNN’s State of the Union: “I think, unfortunately, it will get worse, because we still are experiencing the outcome of the Thanksgiving holidays and the gatherings and unfortunately there may be more over the Christmas holidays, there will be a continuing surge.” The Transportation Security Administration duly reported that about 1.07 million people passed through security checkpoints at US airports on Friday and Saturday.
Israeli PM joins world leaders getting COVID-19 vaccine
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was vaccinated against the coronavirus on live television Saturday, becoming the first Israeli and one of the world’s leaders to be inoculated. Israel is set to begin vaccinating its health workers and nursing home residents beginning Sunday. Netanyahu said he wanted to be the country’s first recipient to set a personal example and to encourage Israelis to get the shot. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was vaccinated Friday in a similar attempt to boost public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines. “I believe in this vaccine,” he said before receiving the injection of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. Netanyahu rolled up the right sleeve of his black, short-sleeve shirt and waited for several minutes before receiving the injection. He called it an “exciting moment” that would put Israel on the path to returning to its normal routines.
Rich Americans are trying to cut the line for Covid vaccine, doctors say
Rich Americans in California are offering to buy their way to the front of the coronavirus vaccine line as the state continues to see a surge in infections and deaths, reports have said. Speaking to CNN, a number of concierge doctors in the area say have received a number of requests for early access to the new vaccine in return for premium payments or donations. Dr Jeff Toll, whose boutique internal medicine practice has admitting privileges at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said his high-profile clients have offered large sums in turn for prioritisation. The doctor told outlets that one of his clientele, which includes chief executives and entertainment figures, offered to donate $25,000 to the hospital for early access to the shot.
Black Americans wary of Covid vaccine effort
Only 42 per cent of black Americans said they would take a Covid-19 vaccine, compared with 61 per cent of white Americans, according to a Pew Research Center opinion poll published earlier this month. That finding was consistent with black people’s lower uptake of the vaccine developed for the last pandemic, the H1N1 flu virus in 2009 — not to mention the annual flu shot.
The U.S. says employers can require workers to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
Employers can require workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine and bar them from the workplace if they refuse, the federal government said in guidelines issued this week. Public health experts see employers as playing an important role in vaccinating enough people to reach herd immunity and get a handle on a pandemic that has killed more than 300,
Covid-19: 'Constructive' North-South meeting on Covid-19
Discussions at Friday's North-South Ministerial Council (NSMC) meeting have been "constructive", Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin has said. Writing after the meeting, Mr Martin said the response to Covid-19 had been "high on the agenda", along with "the implications of Brexit". The meeting between representatives from both sides of the border was held virtually. The first and deputy first ministers took part in the meeting. They were joined by Irish government leaders. The NSMC is the main body for cross-border co-operation between the governments of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Covid: Austrians who pass antigen test to be exempt from lockdown
Austria is to enter a third lockdown from Boxing Day but will stage mass coronavirus tests in mid-January to determine who will be exempt from certain restrictions, the government announced on Friday. Italy is preparing to outline new measures that could lead to a complete lockdown over the Christmas and new year period, while the Spanish government has warned of a possible “third wave” of infections. Austria’s latest lockdown, which comes into effect on 26 December, will include daytime curfews, the closure of non-essential shops, and schools switching to remote learning from 7 to 15 January. Mass antigen tests being offered on the weekend of 16 and 17 January will give people the opportunity to “test themselves free” of restrictions, according to the interior minister, Karl Nehammer.
World looks to spring for pandemic relief as vaccinations start
The developed world could start to emerge from the deadly grip of the pandemic by late spring if the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines are deployed effectively, scientists say. Even so, infection rates are likely to remain high for some time. More than 1.1 million people have been vaccinated in the U.S., U.K., China and Russia, according to Bloomberg data, with the European Union expected to approve its first shot this coming week. As many as three vaccines could be available in the West by year-end, leaving governments and scientists hopeful the pandemic could start to turn a corner in the first half of 2021. “The one big victory we had about this outbreak was the extraordinary performance of getting vaccines available in less than a year,” Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview.
Pfizer says Covid-19 vaccine supply will continue into early 2021 after Jeremy Hunt suggested they will run out within weeks
Pfizer has responded to reports that its Covid-19 vaccine could run out after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt suggested they would run dry by February. The pharmaceutical giant said deliveries were “on track”. In a statement, Pfizer said: "The deliveries are on track and progressing according to our agreed schedule. "We can confirm, in accordance with the schedule, that there will be continued deliveries into the UK in early 2021, with shipments scheduled to arrive before March.” The statement came after Mr Hunt suggested the UK’s stocks were set to run out within weeks with no more supplies likely to arrive before March.
Covid vaccine: More than 130,000 vaccinated in UK in first week
More than 130,000 people have been vaccinated in the first week of the UK's vaccination programme. Minister Nadhim Zahawi, who is in charge of vaccine rollout, tweeted 137,897 people had been given their first doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech jab between 8 and 15 December. He described it as a "really good start" for the programme. The figure only captures the start of the community vaccination programme run by GPs which launched on Monday. About 200 of these local vaccination clinics are expected to be up and running by the end of the week.
Give NHS staff Covid vaccine now or face growing winter crisis, say hospital bosses
Hospital bosses in England want NHS staff to start getting the Covid vaccine urgently because soaring rates of sickness among frontline personnel are threatening to intensify the service’s growing winter crisis. Doctors and nurses are asking their hospitals to vaccinate them, but are being told they will have to wait until early 2021 because the over-80s and care home staff are the top priority. Hospital trust chief executives say staff believe their wait to have the jab is unfair, and that they feel let down and exposed to danger because they are dealing with a sharp increase in the number of Covid patients.
‘I failed’: Operation Warp Speed leader takes responsibility for Covid-19 vaccine distribution confusion
The military leader of Operation Warp Speed, Gen. Gustave Perna, said Saturday that he takes sole responsibility for last week’s confusion over the allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to states, which led more than a dozen governors to complain that they had received far fewer doses than originally promised. “Where I failed — I failed, nobody else failed — was to have a clear understanding of that cadence” of the vaccine distribution process, Perna said, adding: “It was my fault. I gave guidance. I am the one that approved the forecast sheets.” The striking mea culpa — rare among U.S. officials in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic — came during a briefing in which Perna, the chief operating officer of OWS, said repeatedly that he had underestimated the time required to get the vaccine doses approved for distribution to states. The chaos over allotments followed labeling confusion that caused hospital pharmacists at several health systems to throw away one in every six doses of the first vaccines distributed.
Israel starts Covid vaccine drive as Facebook groups taken down
Facebook has taken down content that spread lies in Israel about coronavirus vaccinations, the Israeli justice ministry has said, as the government sought to drum up support for its vaccination programme. On Saturday, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, became the first person to be vaccinated in Israel. Opinion polls show two-thirds of the public want to follow suit. The justice ministry said that, at its request, Facebook took down four groups at the weekend that had disseminated texts, photographs and videos with “deliberately mendacious content designed to mislead about coronavirus vaccines”.
Austria readies extra 1 bln euro aid for lockdown-hit business
Austria expects to pay out an extra nearly 1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) in support for companies hit by a new lockdown that the government imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel said on Saturday. Austria will go into its third lockdown after Christmas and lift it earlier for people who get tested, the government said on Friday. The new lockdown comes 11 days after a second lockdown ended. Bluemel said companies in November and December had made more than 120,000 requests worth 2.2 billion euros in compensation for revenue lost as a result of the clampdown, of which around 1.8 billion euros had already been paid out.
Could Beyoncé do for the coronavirus vaccine what Elvis did for polio?
Beyoncé could help, it's been suggested, as could Tom Hanks or The Rock. Or maybe an athlete instead. Serena Williams, perhaps, or even Michael Jordan? As millions of Americans continue to express reluctance or outright refusal to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the country's political and public-health leaders are pondering a question critical to ending the pandemic: Who can change their minds? When the federal government faced a similar dilemma more than a half-century ago, it had a king at its disposal.
U.S. COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan in focus as Moderna shots leave warehouses
The United States will recommend on Sunday who will be next in line to get inoculated as the distribution of the second approved coronavirus vaccine began with shipments of Moderna Inc's leaving warehouses for healthcare facilities across the country.
Amid rollout hiccups, US leaders begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine
With the country facing one of its deadliest months since the beginning of pandemic, US leaders began receiving doses of the first COVID-19 vaccine, while the nationwide rollout of the vaccine hit a few unexpected snags. This morning in Washington, DC, Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, and US Surgeon General Jerome Adams received their first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on live television. "Karen and I were more than happy to step forward, before this week was out, to take this safe and effective coronavirus vaccine that we have secured and produced for the American people," Pence told reporters after receiving the shot.
New COVAX agreements renew vaccine hopes for developing countries
Global health officials have feared that richer nations could snap up much of the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and since the early days of the pandemic, the WHO and its partners, including the GAVI vaccine alliance, have been pushing forward with COVAX, a plan to support the development of new vaccines and secure doses for participating countries. Experts have maintained that beating back the virus in all parts of the world, especially with vaccine, is a key step in ending the pandemic threat, but there are deep worries that a wide funding gap will cause a lengthy delay in the first vaccine deliveries for developing nations. In its announcement, the WHO said COVAX now has agreements in place to access nearly 2 billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates.
Maryland, Virginia To Send Extra COVID-19 Vaccine To D.C., Tripling Its Allotment
D.C.'s mayor urged the federal government to send more medicine to no avail. Now the states are sharing their supply to vaccinate health care workers who work in the capital but live elsewhere.
Austria will let ski lifts open despite lockdown, vice chancellor says
Austria will let ski lifts open despite a lockdown being introduced on Dec. 26, with the government requiring FFP2 face masks to be worn inside them and provinces setting other rules, Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler told a news conference on Friday. Austrian ski lifts are being allowed to reopen on Dec. 24, though restaurants, hotels and bars will remain closed, and the government on Friday announced that the country will go back into lockdown after Christmas.
Partisan Exits
Bolosonaro says Covid vaccine may turn people into crocodiles in bizarre rant
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has again lashed out at coronavirus vaccines, saying that Pfizer’s shot could turn people into crocodiles, among other bizarre claims. During the outlandish rant on Thursday, Mr Bolsonaro suggested that the vaccine could also lead to women growing facial hair and men speaking with effeminate voices.
New national lockdown in Britain not inevitable, says minister
A new national lockdown is not inevitable in Britain to stop the spread of a new variant of coronavirus, health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday, adding that tighter restrictions in London and southeast England should help curb the disease. Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show whether a national lockdown was inevitable, Hancock said: “Not necessarily, one of the reasons we brought in the strict travel movements in tier 4 ... is to try to stop this new variant from spreading.”
Sir Paul McCartney says he’ll get coronavirus vaccine as soon as he’s allowed as it ‘will get us out of this’
Sir Paul McCartney has told how he will have the coronavirus vaccine as soon as he is able to. The former Beatle, 78, said that "the vaccine will get us out of this,” saying that it is “great news” the process is now under way. However, Sir Paul said there are still challenges lying ahead. "I mean it's going to be very difficult for a while yet, because you can't just lock down a whole country unless you're China," he told The Sun.
Covid: The countries worried they won't get the vaccine
Pictures of the first people being vaccinated against Covid-19 haven't filled everyone around the world with joy. In some places - in countries such as Zimbabwe, Mexico and Pakistan - the battle to get hold of the vaccine is likely to be long and tortuous. Watching the vaccine roll out in the UK, Lois Chingandu wasn't excited - she was worried. Like most of us, she's looking forward to getting vaccinated and getting life back to normal. But unlike many people right now, she doesn't see light at the end of the tunnel. It's not clear when her country, Zimbabwe, will get a vaccine. "It's now just an issue of sitting and hoping if we will get it in my lifetime," she says. "I live in fear that I will contract Covid and die because of where I am sitting." It may sound like an exaggeration, but she has seen something very similar happen before.
'You let them put the fear on you': Van Morrison teams with Eric Clapton for anti-lockdown song
Van Morrison has crafted yet another anti-lockdown tune, this time teaming with Eric Clapton. "Stand and Deliver," which dropped Friday, was written by Morrison and performed by Clapton. Proceeds from the blues track will go to Morrison’s Save Live Music campaign benefitting those working in the music industry in the UK and Ireland. “Eric’s recording is fantastic and will clearly resonate with the many who share our frustrations,” Morrison told Variety. “It is heart-breaking to see so many talented musicians lack any meaningful support from the government, but we want to reassure them that we are working hard every day to lobby for the return of live music, and to save our industry.”
Rupert Murdoch Gets Covid-19 Vaccine While Profiting Off Virus Misinformation
ert Murdoch, the News Corp mogul behind The SUn and The Times, as well as Fox News, received the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, even as hosts on his US network stoke fears about it and spread vaccine misinformation. Murdoch, 89, received the coronavirus vaccine on Friday in the UK, where people over 80 years of age are being prioritised for the vaccine. “I would like to thank the keyworkers and the [National Health Service] staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible,” he said in a statement from a representative for News Corp, of which he is chairman. “I strongly encourage people around the world to get the vaccine as it becomes available.” Murdoch may be talking up the vaccine now, but it’s a different story on Fox News in the US, which Murdoch founded and currently oversees as the Fox Corporation chairman. “I would like to thank the keyworkers and the [National Health Service] staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible,” he said in a statement from a representative for News Corp, of which he is chairman. “I strongly encourage people around the world to get the vaccine as it becomes available.”
French Ski Industry Protests Holiday Lockdown And Fears A Lost Season In 2021
The ongoing pandemic has mountain regions, whose economies remain heavily dependent on the flux of tourists, fearing for their financial futures. Although the government has pledged financial support, many worry that stations that have already suffered several difficult years won’t make it through this crisis. So far, the pleas for a relaxation of the lockdown are falling on deaf ears. The French government is walking a dangerous line between reopening the country for holiday travel even as COVID cases are trending back up.
Belgian minister tweets EU's Covid vaccine price list to anger of manufacturers
A Belgian minister has blown the lid off a sensitive and commercial secret – the price that the EU has agreed to pay for the leading Covid vaccines. Belgium’s budget state secretary, Eva De Bleeker, posted the price list on Twitter, with the amounts of each vaccine that her country intends to buy from the EU. The tweet was quickly deleted, but not soon enough to prevent interested parties taking screenshots, which have now made it public knowledge.
Rupert Murdoch receives dose of Covid vaccine in UK
Rupert Murdoch has become the latest public figure to have the coronavirus vaccine, visiting his local GP’s surgery late on Wednesday to receive his first dose. A convoy of Range Rovers delivered the 89-year-old billionaire to a dedicated vaccine centre in Henley, Oxfordshire, where normal hours are understood to have been extended at the last minute. An email was sent out saying: “Just a reminder – we have been advised ‘no media coverage’ due to security issues. Please note that photography and video are strictly forbidden.” A statement issued on behalf of Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp, said he “had the vaccine at his local GP’s surgery after he received a call saying he was eligible”.
How coincidental deaths of elderly people could fuel disinformation about Covid-19 vaccine
Experts have voiced concerns that bad actors could seize upon an anticipated spate of coincidental deaths among those who get the jab to spread fear and misinformation. Stuart McDonald of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries told the BBC programme How to Vaccinate the World: “The largest priority group is the group aged 80 plus, and the average person within that group is around age 85. Life expectancy is not particularly long at that age.”
Oxford professor warns Covid could mutate and render vaccine useless
An Oxford professor has warned Covid mutations could render a vaccine useless. Richard Moxon - founder of the Oxford Vaccine Group - claimed that a mutation may 'suddenly change the behaviour of the virus', making it either more severe or render a jab useless. But he stressed that fears about the impact of mutations on a vaccine are currently 'unfounded'. Professor Moxon said SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus behind Covid, has gone through many changes since it was first reported. None of which have been proven to affect the efficacy of any jab. The Covid vaccine protects against the disease by teaching the immune system how to fight off the pathogen. It creates antibodies - disease-fighting proteins made and stored to fight off invaders in the future by latching onto their spike proteins. But if they are unable to recognise proteins because they have mutated, it means the body may struggle to attack a virus the second time and lead to a second infection.
Covid vaccine volunteer struck by lightning after Moderna injection
A volunteer who signed up for Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine trial was struck by lightning 28 days after receiving the injection. That 72 year-old volunteer, whose name and gender have been withheld, met with the freak accident after getting an actual shot of Moderna’s vaccine, rather than the placedo, during the second phase of the vaccine’s trials. The bizarre incident was revealed in the US Food and Drug Administration’s written media briefing into the safety of Moderna’s new vaccine. Doctors diagnosed the lightning strike victim with arrhythmia – an irregular heart beat – believed to have been caused by the strike. No further updates have been provided on the volunteer’s condition.
Covid vaccine rollout 'unfair' as 'forgotten' disabled people forced to wait
A man claims he and other disabled people are being forgotten as the coronavirus vaccine continues to be rolled out. People with learning disabilities are believed to be up to 30 times more likely to die if they contract Covid-19 but Richard Wilson, 34, has been told he must wait until the end of the worlds-largest vaccination programme to be immunised. Earlier this year, Mr Wilson, 34, who has Cerebral Palsy, made nearly 40 face masks for residents and staff at his Apple Tree House care home in Beverley using a 3D printer.
Pelosi and McConnell receive Covid vaccine as shots are reserved for senior U.S. officials
Congress, the Supreme Court, and executive branch agencies will receive a small number of doses for essential personnel under federal plans to ensure continuity of government. Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician in Congress, urged lawmakers to sign up for the vaccine. The vaccine likely won’t be available to the general public for months as Pfizer ramps up production.
Russia's Putin says he hasn't had Covid vaccine yet because he's too old
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has called on the public to get the coronavirus vaccine. He said he has yet to receive it himself. Trials are ongoing into the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in the over-60s age group.
Chilean president handed $3,500 fine for mask-less selfie with stranger on beach
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was slapped with a $3,500 fine on Friday after posing for a selfie on the beach with a bystander without wearing a mask as required during the coronavirus pandemic, health authorities said. Chile has strict rules on mask wearing in all public places and violations are punishable with sanctions that include fines and even jail terms. Pinera apologized then turned himself in shortly after the selfie surfaced on social media in early December.
Continued Lockdown
Italy has patient with new COVID strain, nations ban UK flights
Italy has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain, the health ministry announced on Sunday. Italy has found a patient with the new coronavirus strain, that was also found, in Britain, the health ministry announced on Sunday. Several European countries and others, such as Kuwait, have banned flights to and from the United Kingdom, in hopes of blocking the new strain which is sweeping across southern England from establishing a strong foothold on the continent.
COVID-19: New strain 'seeded right across Wales', says health minister
The new strain of coronavirus in parts of England is also behind a rise in cases in Wales, the country's health minister has told Sky News. Vaughan Gething says the new variant was "seeded right across Wales" and "could not be ignored". Level 4 restrictions in Wales - in line with Tier 4 rules in England - came into effect on Sunday, while plans to allow five days of relaxed restrictions allowing up to two families to form a festive bubble have been cut short and will now only apply to Christmas Day.
Scientific Viewpoint
Mutant coronavirus in the United Kingdom sets off alarms but its importance remains unclear
Scientists have never seen the virus acquire more than a dozen mutations seemingly at once. They think it happened during a long infection of a single patient that allowed SARS-CoV-2 to go through an extended period of fast evolution, with multiple variants competing for advantage. One reason to be concerned, Rambaut says, is that among the 17 are eight mutations in the gene that encodes the spike protein on the viral surface, two of which are particularly worrisome. One, called N501Y, has previously been shown to increase how tightly the protein binds to the ACE2 receptor, its entry point into human cells. The other, named 69-70del, leads to the loss of two amino acids in the spike protein and has been found in viruses that eluded the immune response in some immunocompromised patients.
FDA authorizes Moderna coronavirus vaccine for emergency use across the US
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a vaccine developed by Moderna and federal researchers, the second Covid-19 vaccine to receive such approval for emergency use across the US. The vaccine’s emergency authorization brings the second drug to prevent Covid-19 to the American public within a week, and millions of doses are expected to begin immediate distribution to health workers and long-term care residents. Moderna’s vaccine is 94% effective at preventing Covid-19, and is authorized in adults 18 and older. The authorization comes after it was recommended by an FDA advisory panel of independent experts.
Pfizer/Biontech COVID-19 vaccine wins Swiss regulatory approval
Switzerland will start getting doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and partner BioNTech within days after its drugs regulator authorised use of the jabs in what officials called the world’s first approval under a standard procedure. Two months after receiving the application, Swissmedic allowed the vaccine for people aged 16 and older after a rolling review of documents being submitted. That cleared the way for an initial delivery of just over 100,000 doses, which the army will put into deep-freeze storage and send to cantons to start inoculations of vulnerable people, including the elderly and those with medical conditions.
COVID-19: Moderna coronavirus vaccine approved for emergency use in the US
Moderna's coronavirus vaccine has become the second to be approved for emergency use in the US. The country's Food and Drug Administration announced the authorisation a day after the agency's panel of outside experts backed the vaccine. The FDA based its decision on results from a late-stage study of 30,000 volunteers which found that the vaccine was nearly 95% effective at preventing illness from COVID-19. The study also said there were no serious safety concerns resulting from the vaccine's use, although possible side effects include sore arms, fever, fatigue and muscle aches.
BioNTech, through Fosun deal, pledges 100M coronavirus vaccine doses for China
Pfizer and its German mRNA partner BioNTech have started racking up authorizations for their COVID-19 vaccine, with shots already going into patients' arms in countries like the U.K. and the U.S. Now, BioNTech has struck a deal to supply initial doses in China, where the vaccine is currently in mid-stage testing. BioNTech, through its arrangement with local drugmaker Shanghai Fosun, will supply Mainland China with an initial 100 million doses of its mRNA vaccine, BNT162, in 2021—should the shot pass muster with domestic regulators.
Breastfeeding mothers will not be offered Covid vaccine, say regulators
Women’s rights and breastfeeding organisations are challenging government and NHS guidance that the groups say forces mothers to choose between feeding their infants in the way that they choose and protecting themselves from Covid by being vaccinated. The NHS website advises lactating mothers to wait until they have stopped breastfeeding before having the Covid-19 vaccine. It adds: “There’s no evidence it’s unsafe if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. But more evidence is needed before you can be offered the vaccine.” The UK government website repeats the advice, saying it was “precautionary until additional evidence is available to support the use of this vaccine in pregnancy and breastfeeding”. There have been no trials of Covid vaccines on breastfeeding women.
Experts know more about the coronavirus vaccines than any other in history, surgeon general says
Great news emerged Sunday on the vaccine front, as a second Covid-19 vaccine will soon be available to some Americans. But for much of the US, the pandemic is raging out of control -- and will get worse before everyone can be vaccinated. In just the past week, more than 18,000 people died from Covid-19 in the US. Hospitals are filling up fast. And the US set a record Friday for the most Covid-19 infections reported in one day: 249,709, according to Johns Hopkins University.
CDC CONFIRMS six people have suffered adverse reactions to COVID vaccine
CDC confirms at least six have had adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccine So far, some 272,000 shots of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been given in US In Alaska, three health care workers needed medical attention after getting shot In Chicago suburb, hospital stopped inoculations after four had severe reaction FDA official says allergic reactions could be due to polyethylene glycol (PEG) PEG is a chemical compound present in both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines PEG is also found in laxatives as well as creams, ointments, and solvents In industrial use, PEG is also a binding agent that can be found in antifreeze FDA insists most Americans with allergies should be safe to get the vaccine
Fever, aches from Pfizer, Moderna jabs aren’t dangerous but may be intense for some
This summer, Luke Hutchison, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology–educated computational biologist, volunteered for a trial of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. After he got the second injection, his arm immediately swelled up to the size of a “goose egg,” Hutchison says. He can’t be sure he got the vaccine and not a placebo, but within a few hours, the healthy then-43-year-old was beset by bone and muscle aches and a 38.9°C fever that felt, he says, “unbearable.” “I started shaking. I had cold and hot rushes,” he says. “I was sitting by the phone all night long thinking: ‘Should I call 911?’” Hutchison’s symptoms resolved after 12 hours. But, he says, “Nobody prepared me for the severity of this.”
More people are getting COVID-19 twice, suggesting immunity wanes quickly in some
In late June, Sanne de Jong developed nausea, shortness of breath, sore muscles, and a runny nose. At first, she thought it might be lingering effects from her COVID-19 infection in the spring. De Jong, 22, had tested positive on 17 April and suffered mild symptoms for about 2 weeks. She tested negative on 2 May—just in time to say farewell to her dying grandmother—and returned to work as a nursing intern in a hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. But when her symptoms re-emerged, her doctor suggested she get tested again. “A reinfection this soon would be peculiar, but not impossible,” she told De Jong, who by then had again lost her sense of smell and had abdominal pains and diarrhea.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine becomes second to receive FDA approval
The US medicines regulator has authorised the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine on an emergency basis, making a second jab available and boosting supplies at a critical crunch point as several states complain they cannot secure enough shots. The second emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 vaccine will mean that more than 5.9m Moderna shots will be delivered in the coming week. Moderna said about 20m doses would be delivered to the US government by the end of the year. In the first quarter of next year, the company now expected to have between 100m and 125m doses available, of which 85m-100m will be in the US.
New 'more traditional' coronavirus vaccine by Valneva to be trialled
Bristol is among a select few locations to launch clinical trials for a new coronavirus vaccine candidate. Biotech company Valneva has developed the "more traditional" vaccine in West Lothian, Scotland, and is rolling out a UK trial at four testing sites. The vaccine will initially be tested on 150 participants across Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle and Southampton, with University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust hosting in Bristol. It is said to be the only vaccine candidate so far to use an inactive version of the virus, and if this early phase of testing is successful, it will progress to a much larger trial involving 4,000 people from April 2021. Bristol vaccine expert Adam Finn is chief investigator for the study, and said the first vaccinations will start on Monday (December 21).
COVID vaccine is bonanza for digital supply chain tracking industry
Logistical hurdles are a significant risk for efforts to rapidly distribute COVID-19 vaccines, but they have resulted in booming business for companies such as private California-based Cloudleaf, Germany’s SAP SE and others that sell technology for monitoring shipments from factory freezer to shot in the arm. Cloudleaf, backed by Intel Capital, the venture arm of chipmaker Intel Corp, uses sensors attached to material containers to track the location, temperature, humidity, vibration and acceleration. The sensors send data to the cloud, where an artificial intelligence algorithm can predict if action is needed to prevent a product from becoming exposed to temperatures outside the recommended range, known as excursions.
Oxford Covid-19 vaccine 'will be approved before new year'
The Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is expected to be approved before the new year with vaccination to begin from the second week in January, the Telegraph reports.
Pharma Moderna scores FDA authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine, adding key 2nd shot as nationwide campaign ramps up
When COVID-19 began spreading earlier this year, the prospect of coronavirus vaccines launching before year’s end seemed like the longest of long shots. Now, partly in thanks to the research partnership between the federal government and industry, the U.S. has its second authorized COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA on Friday evening cleared Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, mRNA-1273, for emergency use in people 18 years and older. The authorization allows the company and federal government to immediately distribute the shot nationwide; it comes a week after Pfizer and BioNTech's emergency vaccine nod. It also adds a key second option—and more vaccine supplies—amid the United States' nationwide vaccination push. Moderna has said it should be able to distribute 20 million doses in the U.S. by the end of the year, while Pfizer has pledged 25 million doses.
Pfizer antes up on the feds' vaccine criticism, saying Warp Speed has everything it's asked for—and more
U.S. officials took aim at Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing process at a press conference Wednesday, suggesting the drugmaker had, at last, divulged production hiccups that could scupper efforts to get millions of shots into patients’ arms by year-end. But Pfizer sees things very differently—and it made those thoughts clear in a Thursday statement. “Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed," the drugmaker said. In fact, it said, millions of doses are sitting in warehouses, ready for shipment whenever the government calls for them. And Pfizer board member and ex-FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, M.D., pitched his take Friday morning, speculating the government may have “throttled” Pfizer’s orders to make way for a looming Moderna rollout.
FDA authorizes Moderna COVID vaccine for emergency use
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last night issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, bringing a second vaccine to the United States' battle against the pandemic and making it the first country to have two authorized vaccines that come with clear and compelling efficacy data. The formal announcement follows the Dec 17 recommendation of the FDA independent expert panel, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). And it allows shipping to begin for use in people ages 18 and older. Federal officials have said they expect to ship 5.9 million Moderna doses to states next week.
Antibody cocktail treatments show some benefit in 2 COVID studies
Two studies published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine discuss outcomes in COVID-19 patients given monoclonal antibody treatments, one showing that tocilizumab lowered the odds of needing mechanical ventilation and death but did not improve survival, and the other finding that REGN-COV2 lowered viral load—particularly in patients whose immune response hadn't yet been triggered or had a high viral load at baseline. Most benefit in moderate
A side-by-side comparison of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines
In an ideal world, a pandemic vaccine could be delivered in a single shot, so supplies could be stretched to cover a lot of people. It would trigger no side effect more significant than a sore arm. And it would be easy to ship and store. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world — not yet, anyway. For now, the good news is that the United States has two Covid-19 vaccines that have been shown to be highly effective.
Moderna becomes second Covid-19 vaccine to receive FDA approval
The US medicines regulator has authorised the use of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine on an emergency basis, making a second jab available and boosting supplies at a critical crunch point as several states complain they cannot secure enough shots. The second emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 vaccine will mean that more than 5.9m Moderna shots will be delivered in the coming week. Moderna said about 20m doses would be delivered to the US government by the end of the year. In the first quarter of next year, the company now expected to have between 100m and 125m doses available, of which 85m-100m will be in the US.
Fairbanks clinician is third Alaskan with adverse reaction to COVID-19 vaccine
A Fairbanks clinician suffered anaphylactic symptoms after being given the Pfizer Inc coronavirus vaccine, a hospital said on Friday, becoming the third Alaska health care worker to suffer an adverse reaction to the new drug.
Canada regulator expects to complete Moderna COVID-19 vaccine approval in coming weeks
Canadian health regulator said it expects to complete the review on Moderna Inc's coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its emergency use on Friday. "There is still information and data to be provided by Moderna for review," the regulator said in a statement. Health Canada said it cannot provide a definite timeline for the vaccine approval but expects the process to be completed in the coming weeks.
Peter Roderick: Transparency in approving covid-19 vaccines
Transparency is generally regarded as essential for public trust in medicines, and likely to lead to better decision-making. Yet lack of transparency has been a hallmark of the regulation of medicines. Modest improvements have been made over the last decade, but the spotlight is being shone again on how the regulatory system operates as approvals are being given or considered for several covid-19 vaccines. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) held live-streamed public meetings to discuss the issue generally on 22 October 2020, and specifically for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with an FDA analysis, on 10 December ahead of the FDA’s decision. That meeting voted 17/4, and one abstention, in favour of emergency use approval, which was issued the next day. A further meeting is scheduled pre-licensure for the Moderna vaccine on 17 December. As the FDA head, Stephen M. Hahn has said, “The FDA recognizes that transparency and dialogue are critical for the public to have confidence in COVID-19 vaccines”.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Emmanuel Macron’s health condition is stable ‘compared to Friday,’ according to his doctor.
As President Emmanuel Macron of France entered his third day in isolation after being infected with the coronavirus, his doctor said on Saturday that he was in “stable health condition compared to Friday.” “He is still presenting the same symptoms of the Covid-19 illness (fatigue, coughing, aches) which do not prevent him from performing his duties,” Dr. Jean-Christophe Perrochon said in a statement, adding that regular clinical examinations “have proved to be reassuring.”
Christmas comfort over COVID vaccines collides with new curbs
Coronavirus vaccine approvals have brought comfort and joy for many this Christmas but failed to halt new curbs on travel and gatherings as COVID-19 cases rise worldwide and deaths in the United States surpassed 3,000 for a third straight day. Scientists and government leaders have hailed the vaccines as a huge success in attacking the pandemic, but only once they are administered, a process likely to take months, even in the world’s richest countries. More than 73.68 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,655,424 have died, according to a Reuters tally, with the United States leading the way in the number of deaths and infections.
UK discusses action after confirmation new COVID strain spreads more quickly
Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed an effective lockdown on over 16 million people in England and reversed plans to ease curbs over Christmas, saying Britain was dealing with a new coronavirus strain up to 70% more transmissible than the original.
Sydney virus cluster grows, border restrictions isolate city
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has warned residents of greater Sydney to prepare for an increase in restrictions if the outbreak of Covid-19 expands beyond the northern beaches. Meanwhile travellers from NSW to Queensland will needed a border pass declaration from 1am Sunday and Western Australia announced it was reinstating its hard border with NSW. The Sydney to Hobart yacht race was cancelled after Tasmania also introduced border restrictions with Sydney.
Boris Johnson refuses to rule out another lockdown
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is refusing to rule out the possibility of imposing a third national lockdown after Christmas. Since the second lockdown finished there has been a significant rise in coronavirus infections, with almost 29,000 thousand confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and 489 deaths. “The reality is that the rates of infection have increased very much in the last few weeks,” Mr Johnson said. Meanwhile Northern Ireland has followed Wales in imposing a six-week lockdown on Christmas day.
Sweden bumps up COVID-19 measures, but stops short of lockdown as cases soar
Sweden has introduced its toughest measures yet in the face of soaring COVID-19 infections, including a recommendation to wear masks at peak hours on public transport. But the Government stopped short of ordering a general lockdown of society. Unlike many other European countries, Sweden has resisted imposing lockdowns, relying on voluntary measures focused on social distancing and good hygiene. It has left most schools, businesses and restaurants open throughout the pandemic. However, a severe second wave of infections, with record numbers of new cases almost every week for the past two months, has prompted the Government to do more.
WA brings back hard border with NSW
Western Australia is reinstating its hard border with NSW as of midnight tonight in response to the growing COVID-19 cluster on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Premier Mark McGowan said NSW had moved to a "medium risk" state. After midnight tonight, arrivals from NSW without a legitimate exemption could well be turned back at the border or the airport, Mr McGowan said.
Covid Swamps Los Angeles as Residents Spurn Fear and Lockdowns
For weeks, Los Angeles officials have warned residents of a surge in Covid-19 cases tied to the holidays. To make the point, they shut all dining at restaurants and even suggested people wear masks in their own homes when family visits. “Assume everyone you would see is infectious,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said three days before Thanksgiving.
India becomes second country to cross 10 million Covid cases amid chronic ‘mask fatigue’ and fears for 2021
India has become only the second country in the world to cross 10 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, with the last million recorded in about one month despite a significant drop in new infections in recent days. Health experts say that while daily infections are considerably down on a peak of almost 100,000 a day, India must be on its guard for a rebound in the new year as fatigue with public-safety measures spreads through the population.
Scotland Yard urges Londoners not to attend Christmas parties tonight
Scotland Yard has issued an open letter urging people not to attend large gatherings over the last weekend before Christmas, amid fears of further anti-lockdown protests in the capital. The force said extra officers will be on London's streets to encourage compliance with strict Tier 3 Covid-19 regulations and to "swiftly clamp down on those wilfully and dangerously ignoring them". An anti-lockdown demonstration is expected in Parliament Square on Saturday, with others planned around the country.
Sweden's second wave offers hard reality check
The U.K.’s misguided flirtation with a hands-off “herd immunity” strategy in March led quickly to a U-turn and tough restrictions. France and Spain promised they’d never repeat the draconian lockdowns they imposed early on — only to break their vow when test-and-trace systems failed to keep pace with summer vacation contagion. Israelis, who after a first lockdown were told to enjoy life and “have a beer,” are now facing a third one. Donald Trump recently claimed he’d ended the pandemic (he hadn’t). Now, it’s Sweden’s turn. After a summer lull, the country famous for its voluntary “trust-based” approach to social distancing is getting battered by a winter wave of the coronavirus. Its 7-day average of daily cases and deaths per capita is currently outpacing the U.K., France and Spain, and isn’t far off the tally in the United States. While Sweden’s total deaths of 7,514 are on a per-capita basis lower than those countries, they far outstrip its neighbors at five times Denmark’s rate, nine times Finland’s and 10 times Norway’s.
Emmanuel Macron blames Covid infection on negligence and bad luck
Emmanuel Macron has blamed his coronavirus infection on a combination of negligence and bad luck and urged his compatriots to stay safe, as critics pointed out slip-ups in his behaviour to prevent infection ranging from a handshake to repeated large-group meals over the past week. In what looked like a self-shot video from the presidential retreat in Versailles where he was isolating with symptoms that included headaches, fatigue and a dry cough, Macron promised to be “totally transparent” about the evolution of his illness. “I am doing well,” he said, speaking softly and dressed casually in a turtleneck top. “Normally, there is no reason for it to evolve in a bad way.”
COVID-19 Is Now A Top Cause Of Death In 5 Latin American Nations : Goats and Soda
COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in five Latin American nations and the second most common cause in six others. The World Health Organization's "Americas Region," which stretches from the Canadian Arctic to Cape Horn in Chile, has been hit harder by the pandemic than any other part of the globe. The region currently accounts for 48% of the 1.65 million COVID-19 deaths reported to WHO so far worldwide. While the United States is a major contributor to that trend with more than 300,000 deaths, Peru's death rate from the disease is actually higher than the U.S. COVID-19 now surpasses coronary heart disease as the No. 1 cause of death in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Panama.
London Put in Emergency Lockdown as U.K. Fights New Strain
More than 16 million Britons are now required to stay at home as a lockdown came into force Sunday in London and southeast England, part of Boris Johnson’s attempt to control a fast-spreading new strain of the coronavirus. The measures ban household mixing in the capital and the southeast, and restrict socializing to just Christmas Day across the rest of England. Residents across the country were told to keep to their local areas. Johnson had originally planned to ease pandemic rules for five days during the holiday, but made an abrupt change of tack after emergency talks on the virus mutation with his top officials. Emerging scientific evidence suggests the new variant -- which currently appears virtually unique to the U.K. -- can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation and is behind a huge surge in infections in recent days.
Global COVID-19 cases surpass 75 million
Global coronavirus infections surpassed the 75 million mark on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally, as several nations around the world begin vaccinating against the virus.
Spanish Health Ministry confirms evolution of pandemic worsening
Spain’s coronavirus incidence rate rose again on Thursday, indicating that there is no longer any doubt that the trend has changed. In 10 regions, the rate is rising and in the remaining nine territories, including the North African exclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla, it has stabilized. In the coming days, the situation may worsen as a result of contagions from last week’s public holidays, which according to Fernando Simón, the director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), have not yet been reflected in the data. Compounding the situation is the expected rise in cases over the Christmas holiday period, when more travel and gatherings are expected to take place.
Toughest COVID-19 measures yet for Sweden as cases soar
Unlike many other European countries, Sweden has resisted imposing lockdowns, relying on voluntary measures focused on social distancing and good hygiene. It has left most schools, businesses and restaurants open throughout the pandemic. However, a severe second wave of infections, with record numbers of new cases almost every week for the past two months, has prompted the government to do more. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said on Friday non-essential public workplaces, such as municipality gyms, pools and libraries, would close until Jan. 24. He also said the government now recommended wearing masks on public transport during peak hours, when it is harder for passengers to keep apart.
South Africa's coronavirus cases cross 900,000: health ministry
South Africa’s total reported coronavirus cases surpassed 900,000 on Friday, just a fortnight after it reported crossing 800,000, signaling a rapid rise in infections in the country battling a second wave. South Africa, hardest hit on the continent, reported its first case in March and saw peak infections in July when daily cases almost touched 14,000. The rise in daily infections, which had eased in the last few months with reports of daily new cases between 1,000 and 2,000 till mid-November, reached 8,725 with 274 deaths, the health ministry said in a statement.
New Lockdown
Thailand reports over 500 new coronavirus cases, Samut Sakhon province to go on lockdown until Jan 3
Thailand reported over 500 cases of coronavirus from the centre of its seafood industry where there are many migrant workers on Saturday (Dec 19), in by far the biggest one-day rise in a country that had previously brought the epidemic largely under control. The new cases were reported in Samut Sakhon province, south-west of Bangkok, where four infections were reported at a shrimp market on Friday - the first a 67-year-old woman. Disease Control Department director-general Opas Karnkawinpong told a news conference that 516 new cases were found after testing that included 1,192 migrant workers.
Tier 4 rules for London as Christmas cancelled by stay at home lockdown
Christmas bubbles have been axed for London and many surrounding areas as they were slammed into Tier 4 as a new fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 was blamed for a surge in cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively cancelled Christmas gatherings for millions of families in London and the wider South East on Saturday as he sought to contain the spread of the mutant virus. The Christmas relaxation for the rest of the country was dramatically scaled back to three households being able to meet on Christmas Day alone rather than for five days in England.
Wales to go into lockdown from midnight as new rules announced for Christmas
Wales will go into lockdown from midnight as new level four restrictions start and new rules are announced for Christmas. First Minister Mark Drakeford met with representatives from the four UK nations and held an emergency meeting with his cabinet on Saturday afternoon about a new strain of coronavirus that is believed to be behind a surge in infections across the UK. Non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres and hospitality will close at the end of trading on Saturday and stay-at-home restrictions will be in place from midnight. Christmas rules are also changing. The two-household bubble now only applies on Christmas Day rather than a five-day period between December 23 and 27. Mr Drakeford said: "Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister this afternoon setting out the pattern of transmission in London and the South East of England, which has been linked to this new variant of coronavirus.
Britain tightens lockdowns over virus mutation with ‘significantly faster’ transmission rates
Faced with a newly emerging coronavirus mutation with "significantly faster" transmission rates, Britain on Saturday announced tightened pandemic restrictions that returned London and parts of the country to virtual lockdown and reversed earlier promises for relaxed rules over the holidays. The new mutation, or variant, was first detected in southeast England in September and is quickly becoming the dominant strain in London and other regions in Britain. Experts said it does not appear more deadly or resistant to vaccines. At a news conference from 10 Downing Street, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new variant “may be up to 70 percent more transmissible” than previous versions of the virus here.
Germany’s Shuttered Retailers Turn to Online Rival for Help
For most high-street retailers, the hard lockdowns across Europe mean they’re missing out on the lucrative holiday shopping period. That’s unless they team up with the enemy. Kaufhaus Ganz, a department store near Frankfurt that sells clothing, toys and stationaries, is doing just that. Even as it has been losing customers to online rivals, the business this year turned to Zalando SE to sell wares on the Internet giant’s websites. The move helps keep revenue flowing now that its physical shop had to close, said Managing Director Tatjana Steinbrenner.
Virus surge causes Christmas lockdown in Germany | World
My five-year-old German nephew, Finn Gustav, was devastated last week to hear the news of a Christmas lockdown. There will be no markets to sample marzipan sweets and stollen. No merry-go-rounds or Ferris wheels. He lives in the central city of Weimar, home of the country’s enlightenment, but even the ice-skating rink set up every year in the main square around the bronze statues of Goethe and Schiller will be missing. “Alles wegen dem doofen corona” – “all because of that stupid coronavirus,” he says...
U.K. Faces Fresh Lockdown to Curb New Covid-19 Strain
The U.K. imposed a fresh lockdown across London and surrounding areas of England to combat a new strain of Covid-19 that appears to be significantly more contagious than earlier variants of the pathogen. Scientists say the new variant might be as much as 70% more transmissible than more established strains, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a news conference Saturday. Though it spreads more easily from person to person, there is no evidence it is any more deadly or resistant to vaccines, he said. The new lockdown means many families won’t be allowed to gather for Christmas. Mr. Johnson, who only days ago noted it would be “inhuman” to put curbs on Christmas celebration, said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned.”
Coronavirus: Festive lockdown as bodies pile up in Italy
Italy will crack down on festive gatherings as bodies of coronavirus victims are stashed in churches and hospital car parks in the hard-hit northern region of Veneto. Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister, announced new rules last night ordering Italians to stay at home and closing all restaurants and non-essential shops on December 24-27, from New Year’s Eve to January 3 and on January 5-6.
Greater Sydney lockdown fears as Gladys Berejiklian warns coronavirus cases to worsen
The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has warned residents of greater Sydney to prepare for an increase in restrictions if the outbreak of Covid-19 expands beyond the northern beaches. Meanwhile travellers from NSW to Queensland will needed a border pass declaration from 1am Sunday and Western Australia announced it was reinstating its hard border with NSW. The Sydney to Hobart yacht race was cancelled after Tasmania also introduced border restrictions with Sydney.
Sydney imposes lockdown on beach suburbs as COVID cluster grows
A quarter million people in Sydney’s northern beach suburbs were ordered on Saturday into a strict lockdown until Christmas Eve to help contain a coronavirus cluster with authorities fearing it may spread across Australia’s most populous city.
Italy government orders Christmas, New Year lockdown to prevent COVID surge
Italy will be placed under nationwide lockdown for much of the Christmas and New Year holiday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Friday, as the government looks to prevent a fresh surge in coronavirus cases. The announcement ended days of indecision and wrangling within the coalition, which was split between those wanting a complete shutdown and those pressing for more limited action to help struggling businesses and to allow some family reunions. Under the new rules, non-essential shops will be shuttered between Dec. 24-27, Dec. 31- Jan. 3 and Jan. 5-6. On those days, Italians will only be allowed to travel for work, health or emergency reasons.
Switzerland adopts 'lockdown light', urges people to stay home
Switzerland headed for a second lockdown on Friday as the government ordered restaurants and sports and recreation centres closed for a month from Tuesday and urged people to stay home. Backing away from its “middle path” approach that had aimed to avoid business-crippling consequences, the government conceded immediate, strong action was vital to curb stubbornly high coronavirus infection rates that had prompted calls from scientists and medical professionals for tighter measures.
Italy to go into Covid lockdown over festive period
Italy will go into a nationwide lockdown during the Christmas and new year period as the government tries to impede a rise in coronavirus infections that could be triggered by the festivities. The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said it had not been an easy decision but the measures were necessary. The whole country will be under “red-zone” lockdown on between Christmas Eve, and 27 December and then again between 31 December and 3 January and 5-6 January, when Italy celebrates the feast of the epiphany.
Wales to enter national lockdown from midnight, with rules relaxed on Christmas Day only
Wales will enter a national lockdown from midnight on Saturday, with festive bubbles cancelled for all but Christmas Day. Mark Drakeford, the first minister, announced the “stay at home” rules after hosting an emergency cabinet meeting amid concerns over a new strain of coronavirus, which he said is present “throughout Wales”. He detailed how the pattern of transmission in London and the southeast of England, which has been linked to the new variant, is “remarkably consistent with the rapid acceleration of transmission in Wales” and the high case rates seen in recent weeks.
U.K. Imposes Harsher Lockdown on London, Citing New Version of Virus
The variant is up to 70 percent more transmissible than earlier versions, officials said. People in southeast England, including London, were told to stay at home.
New strain of Covid-19: Boris Johnson backtracks on relaxing Christmas rules
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a series of stricter coronavirus restrictions, tightening rules around household mixing that were due to be relaxed over Christmas in England, while leaders in Scotland and Wales also introduced more stringent measures. The UK has among the highest Covid death rates in Europe, with more than 67,000 fatalities, and over 2 million cases.
Nearly all of California under stay at home order as FDA authorizes second vaccine
Nearly all of California is under regional stay-at-home orders triggered by alarmingly low capacity in intensive care units. Statewide, a sliver of those critical beds were available: 2.1 percent. The news came as a second coronavirus vaccine received emergency authorization Friday, an unprecedented scientific feat that gives the United States two powerful tools to fight a pandemic that emerged almost exactly a year ago.