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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 19th Jan 2021

News Highlights

Documentary underlines concerns over China's early handling of the pandemic

The handling of the early stages of the pandemic by the Chinese government is under scrutiny once more. A new documentary features interviews with doctors who claim they were told not to speak out and experienced restrictions such as limited internet access and passports being take from them. Some people were even detained, those interviewed allege. An independent panel has criticised the Chinese government's early handling of the virus, saying it could have acted more forcefully in the early stages of the outbreak.

Second does in doubt in the UK?

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab has not guaranteed that everybody in the UK will receive a second dose within twelve weeks, instead saying the government was 'aiming' to achieve this. This comes as Sheila Bird, a former programme leader at the Medical Research Council's biostatistic unit, urged health secretary Matt Hancock to call for a study to investigate the effects of delaying a second dose of the Pfizer.BioNTech vaccine - a move by that the government that some believe is controversial

Just 25 vaccine doses in low-income countries, WHO says

The World Health Organization (WHO) has once more warned of delaying vaccine access for low-income countries. It claims just 25 doses have been administered in low-income countries compared to 39 million in wealthier nations. Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world runs the risk of a 'catastrophic moral failure' if it does not ensure equitable vaccine access.

Anti-lockdown protestors congregate in Amsterdam

Anger reached a boiling point in the Dutch capital Amsterdam. Thousands gathered at an unauthorised protest against tightened lockdown restrictions. Fireworks were thrown and placards held saying 'What do we want? Freedom!'. The Netherlands is among a number of European countries where lockdown measures have been strengthened. Others include Germany, Slovakia and the UK

Lockdown Exit
New York governor asks Pfizer to directly sell COVID-19 vaccine doses
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked Pfizer Inc Chief Executive Albert Bourla on Monday if the state could buy COVID-19 vaccine doses directly from the U.S. drugmaker. Pfizer, however, told Reuters that such a proposal would first require approval by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With hospitalizations and deaths increasing across the country this winter, we are in a footrace with the virus, and we will lose unless we dramatically increase the number of doses getting to New Yorkers”, Cuomo said in a letter to Pfizer’s CEO.
Timeline: Wuhan, one year after coronavirus lockdown
China locked down the central city of Wuhan a year ago at the start of the Lunar New Year, the country’s biggest holiday, as it battled to contain the spread of a novel coronavirus. Following is a timeline of key events since the first cases of the virus were detected in the city of 11 million residents in Hubei province.
Covid: New Zealanders attend largest ever concert since pandemic began
Thousands of New Zealanders flocked to a music concert on Saturday, in stark contrast to the UK which remains under lockdown. Huge crowds gathered to watch the nation’s most famous band, Six60, perform at a sports grounds in Waitangi – the largest outdoor show allowed to go ahead in the country since the pandemic began. People were pictured brushing against each other and coming into close contact without wearing masks. Guitarist Chris Mac even interacted with the crowd, which did not have to abide by social distancing rules. As of January 15, New Zealand had 76 active cases of the virus, raising its overall total to 2,246 infections since the start of the outbreak. Residents are no longer required to social distance due to low rates of transmission and are only encouraged to wear face masks on public transport except for in Auckland, where it is a legal requirement.
Lockdown: Tennis players getting on with life in Australia
With no way out, tennis players in lockdown are figuring out ways to keep themselves fit within the confines of their Melbourne hotel rooms as they prepare for the Australian Open. Victoria state, which has Melbourne as its capital, accounted for 810 of Australia’s 909 deaths from COVID-19, most of those during a deadly second wave three months ago which resulted in curfews and lockdowns for the city. So there's been some debate locally about whether it's right to stage a Grand Slam tournament bringing in people from parts of the world where the coronavirus is still taking a big toll. With that in mind, Australian health and government officials aren't taking any chances.
72 Australian Open tennis players in lockdown; reports of Novak Djokovic ideas for changes
The number of players in hard quarantine swelled to 72 ahead of the Australian Open after a fifth positive coronavirus test was returned from the charter flights bringing players, coaches, officials and media to Melbourne for the season-opening tennis major. That means they won’t be allowed to leave their hotel rooms or practice for 14 days, creating a two-speed preparation period for the tournament. Other players in less rigorous quarantine will be allowed to practice for five hours daily. Australian Open organizers confirmed late Sunday that the latest case involved a passenger on the flight from Doha, Qatar to Melbourne who was not a member of the playing contingent, But all 58 passengers, including the 25 players, now cannot leave their hotel rooms for 14 days.
China's economy expands at faster rate than before coronavirus
China’s gross domestic product expanded 6.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, beating forecasts and making the country one of the few in the world to register positive growth for the year. Year-on-year GDP growth for the final quarter beat expectations, according to official data released on Monday, with the Chinese economy expanding 2.3 per cent over the course of the full year as industrial production continued to drive the country’s recovery. The new data underlined a rapid turnround in the world’s second-largest economy, which declined in early 2020 for the first time in more than four decades after authorities imposed an extensive lockdown to stem the pandemic’s initial outbreak.
China silenced doctors to cover up Covid outbreak, new documentary claims
New evidence uncovered by a TV programme about coronavirus suggests China covered up the outbreak and stopped medics from speaking out. An ITV documentary, called ‘Outbreak: The Virus That Shook The World’ and airing tomorrow, shows a secret interview with some of the Chinese doctors who were silenced. Leaks of Chinese official data show the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Wuhan can be traced back to November 17, 2019. By late December, increasing numbers of people were in hospital with unexplained pneumonia, and medical professionals had discovered a new coronavirus similar to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in samples. The provincial leaders told the hospitals not to tell the truth.’ Despite the risk of being caught, the medics revealed shocking claims of how they were silenced, had their passports removed and their access to the internet was restricted
Covid-19: China's economy grows in fourth quarter, bucking global trend
China's economy grew at the slowest pace in more than four decades last year, official figures show, but remains on course to be the only major economy to have expanded in 2020. The economy grew 2.3% last year, despite Covid-19 shutdowns causing output to slump in early 2020. Strict virus containment measures and emergency relief for businesses helped the economy recover. Growth in the final three months of the year picked up to 6.5%.
S Korea leader urges businesses thriving in pandemic to share profits
South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in has called on companies prospering during the coronavirus pandemic to share their profits with struggling people and businesses, as fears rise over worsening economic inequality. The call from the leader of Asia’s fourth-biggest economy highlights the pressure on many world leaders amid surging stock and property prices coupled with rising unemployment and slow wage growth. “Whether it is called profit sharing, or whatever . . . I think it is the right way to go,” Mr Moon said at a rare press conference on Monday.
Five Countries, Five Experiences of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Adam Oliver, a professor at the London School of Economics, is one of many researchers who have tracked how different countries have responded to the pandemic. Oliver thinks that our usual back-of-the-envelope way of comparing countries, using a snapshot of covid cases and deaths, is of limited value. “We have to think about the non-health implications of pandemic response, too,” he told me. “Those are much more difficult to gauge at the moment. When you lock down businesses and citizens, there are many downstream consequences. There’s an economic impact. There’s social damage. There’s loss of freedom—which, especially in countries already bordering on authoritarianism, could be hard to roll back. If you consider these broader implications, I don’t think we’ll know the best path for years, if ever.” Oliver classifies pandemic responses into three broad, sometimes overlapping categories: the quick approach, the soft approach, and the hard approach.
What India Can Learn From Covid-19 To Build A Healthier Nation
2020 was a terrible year, especially for India. Covid-19 had a devastating impact on people’s health and healthcare, and the economy took a beating. India finished the year with the second highest number of Covid-19 cases (currently over 10.5 million reported cases, with over 152,000 deaths, which is likely to be an under-estimate). With the Covid-19 incidence declining over the past few weeks, and with the launch of an ambitious vaccination campaign, 2021 could, hopefully, be a better year. But only if the country learnt from the experience of Covid-19 and rebuilt the foundations of it’s public health system.
UK facing ‘gonorrhoea outbreak’ when lockdown ends
The UK could face a gonorrhoea outbreak once lockdown comes to an end, as high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) return, medics have claimed. Before the pandemic, Britain was experiencing the worst rates of STDs since the Second World War. In February last year a Station of the Nation report found gonorrhea had risen by 249% and syphilis by 165% over the last decade. Since then, Covid restrictions have prevented people from socialising and meeting up with others from outside their homes. The number of people visiting sexual health clinics dropped by 85% due to lockdown, data revealed. Experts fear this will rise suddenly once restrictions are changed.
Exit Strategies
These Over-90s Are Still Waiting For The Vaccine. Here's Why
On Monday, the British government announced people aged over 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable will begin receiving invitations for coronavirus vaccinations from this week. It came as officials announced more than 4m people in the UK have received the first dose of a vaccine. But HuffPost UK spoke to several people who said their elderly parents, all of whom were over the age of 90, had received no news regarding their vaccine appointments. One said hearing the latest announcement had only made things “even more frustrating” for their Lincolnshire-based mother, who is 94 and diabetic.
Governors express anger as Covid vaccine stockpile vanishes
In the US, several governors expressed exasperation at the Trump administration after being assured that the federal government had enough vaccine stockpiled to speed up or expand state rollouts only to be later told those reserves don't exist. Among them are Wisconsin's Democratic governor, Tony Evers who has been taking heat from the state's Republican-led Legislature over the slow pace of vaccinations. Several other governors including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, were left scrambling to alter plans to expand the rollouts in their states, including to senior citizens.
Second Covid vaccine doses in doubt amid call for study into single jab
In England, the foreign secretary cast doubt on whether all people would be given a second dose of coronavirus vaccine as leading academics said the government had a duty to run trials into giving it as a single injection. Dominic Raab repeatedly declined to guarantee that all people who had received a first dose would get a second within 12 weeks. He instead said that the government was “aiming for” everyone to get a second jab. Sheila Bird, former programme leader at the Medical Research Council’s biostatistics unit, has written to Matt Hancock, the health secretary, calling for a study to begin immediately to investigate the effect of extending the gap between the first and second doses of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine.
More than 4 million Britons receive first COVID-19 vaccine dose
More than 4 million people have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in Britain, according to official data on Monday which showed there had been a further 37,535 cases reported and 599 deaths within 28 days of a positive test. A total of 4,062,501 people have received their first shot Public Health England said as the government ramps up the vaccination programme.
COVID-19: 24-hour vaccination sites to be piloted in London before end of January
Twenty-four hour vaccination sites will be piloted in London before the end of January, the vaccines minister has said. Speaking to Sky News, Nadhim Zahawi said the NHS will be "targeting forensically who we want to protect" to ensure the most vulnerable people can be vaccinated first. He said that as there is "limited supply" of the vaccine, "it needs to get into the arms of the most vulnerable" such as those who are elderly or clinically extremely vulnerable. Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director for England, told Sky News the 24/7 pilot would be starting "within the next week or two". The current 8am to 8pm vaccination times have been working for the over-80s, and some areas of the UK have managed to give out first jabs to the majority of this age group.
UK coronavirus: Mutations mean lockdowns needed as vaccine rolls out
Dr Christina Pagel said Britain should still be going for 'suppression' of Covid Said she 'can't think of anything worse' than jabs being outdated in 6 months NHS vaccinated nearly a million people across the UK last week in fast roll-out Coronavirus mutations have become serious concern in recent months Approval and roll-out of vaccines means scientists want virus to stay the same
England extends Covid vaccines to over-70s
People aged over 70 will start receiving invitations for their first Covid-19 vaccination from Monday, along with the clinically extremely vulnerable, as the programme enters a new phase. The NHS has concentrated over the past month on giving jabs to its highest priority categories — the over-80s, frontline health staff and care home residents and workers. But with 3.8m vaccinations administered, ministers have given sites approval to offer injections to the next two “cohorts” of over-70s and “clinically extremely vulnerable” people with conditions such as cancer, Down’s syndrome, cystic fibrosis or severe asthma.
Indian companies prepare to buy vaccines for employees
Several Indian companies are considering buying COVID-19 vaccines for their employees, once they become available commercially, just days after the government began a huge vaccination drive. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched what his government has described as the “world’s largest vaccination programme”. It aims to inoculate around 300 million people to curb the pandemic in India, which has reported the second highest number of coronavirus cases after the United States. India vaccinated 148,266 people on Monday, taking the total to 381,305, the health ministry said.
Covid UK: Travellers into the UK face Australia-style 'hotel quarantine'
Travellers into the UK face being forced to quarantine in hotels from 4am Ministers have asked officials to prepare for creation of quarantine hotels Arrivals would be required to self-isolate before being allowed out
Germany plans more tests, sequencing to deal with new coronavirus strains
Top German politicians on Monday called for new measures to slow the spread of new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus, including more health checks for cross-border commuters and intensified gene sequencing of virus samples. In future, health labs will have to sequence 5% of the samples they collect when screening for the coronavirus to check if they match more virulent variants first identified in Britain and South Africa, or if new mutations were emerging in Germany. National and regional leaders are due to meet on Tuesday to decide on new measures. “We still have a big risk ... that is the risk of mutation,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference, calling for a joint European response. An outbreak of a mutated variant of the coronavirus at a clinic in the southern German alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which appeared not to be one of the known variants, fanned the concerns.
Brazil vaccinations start as country faces vaccine ingredient shortfall
Brazil kicked off a nationwide COVID-19 immunization program on Monday by distributing doses of a vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech following an emergency use authorization, although the pace of vaccination will depend on delayed imports. After weeks of setbacks, many Brazilians cheered the first wave of inoculations, from bustling clinics in Sao Paulo to a spectacular shot planned at the foot of the Christ Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro. The Health Ministry gave states the green light to start immunizing at 5 p.m. (2000 GMT). Although some began administering shots before that, the majority of Brazil’s 26 states had yet to receive vaccine shipments as of Monday evening, delaying the start of vaccinations for the elderly and frontline health workers.
Independent pandemic review panel critical of China, WHO delays
An independent panel said on Monday that Chinese officials could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January to curb the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency until Jan. 30. The experts reviewing the global handling of the pandemic, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, called for reforms to the Geneva-based United Nations agency.Their interim report was published hours after the WHO’s top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, said that global deaths from COVID-19 were expected to top 100,000 per week “very soon”. “What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January,” the report said, referring to the initial outbreak of the new disease in the central city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.
Partisan Exits
Coronavirus in Scotland: CMO Dr Gregor Smith ‘really concerned’ by Covid-19 vaccine misinformation on social media
Scotland’s most senior health chief has revealed that he is “really concerned” by coronavirus vaccine misinformation, as he warned Scots to avoid spurious claims on social media. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, called bogus claims about vaccines “one of the biggest dangers that we face”, and called on the public to seek out trusted sources of information. Speaking at the First Minister’s daily press briefing, Dr Smith said misinformation “makes me really concerned because it preys on people's anxiety and fear. “My plea to everyone is to read trusted sources of information in relation to the vaccination.”
Eight fined after Birmingham anti-lockdown protest
Police have fined eight people after an anti-lockdown march in Birmingham city centre on Saturday. About 150 people gathered for the protest in Victoria Square, despite an appeal from West Midlands Police to stay away. The force said it made nine arrests in total, serving all but one with a £200 fixed penalty notice. Officers had asked the demonstrators to move on, said a spokesperson, but "some did not listen". That led to the arrests and subsequent fining of three women aged 21, 41 and 58, and five men aged between 19 and 58.
Spain’s central, regional officials clash over coronavirus curfew times
Spain’s central government will appeal a decision by regional authorities in Castilla y León to impose an 8pm curfew in their territory in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The regional government announced the new starting time on Friday, but central authorities say that the curfew may begin at 10pm at the earliest, based on the terms of the state of alarm approved by parliament in late October and due to expire in May. This legal framework underpins the restrictions used to contain the coronavirus, including limits on freedom of movement.
Fireworks thrown at police in Amsterdam lockdown protest
Thousands held an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, before being dispersed by riot police. The protesters gathered on a square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum art galleries, carrying signs reading “Freedom: stop this siege” and chanting “What do we want? Freedom!”. None wore masks, which are not mandatory, and few respected social distancing rules, news agency Reuters reported. Shocking footage in social media shows police charging with batons raised as protesters throw flairs at them.
WHO: just 25 Covid vaccine doses administered in low-income countries
The world is on the edge of a “catastrophic moral failure” in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, with just 25 doses administered across all poor countries compared with 39m in wealthier ones, the head of the World Health Organization has said. It was the sharpest warning so far from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the dangers of vaccine hoarding since inoculations started being administered in 49 mostly high-income countries. Guinea is the sole low-income country to have delivered any shots so far, last week providing doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to a mere 25 people, including its president. Tedros told an annual meeting of the WHO’s executive board on Monday that it was wrong to see people at low risk in wealthy countries being vaccinated while most of the world still did not have access to the jabs.
Thousands protest in Amsterdam against Dutch coronavirus lockdown
Several thousand people held an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam on Sunday against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, before being dispersed by riot police. The protesters gathered on a square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum art galleries, carrying signs reading “Freedom: stop this siege” and chanting “What do we want? Freedom!”. None wore masks, which are not mandatory, and few respected social distancing rules. Authorities had declined an application for the protest to be held on Museum Square. The demonstrators refused to leave when police told them to do so, and some threw fireworks.
I’d love to ignore ‘Covid sceptics’ and their tall tales. But they make a splash and have no shame
If you had opened certain newspapers over the past year, you would have read the following. In spring, you’d have been told the virus was fizzling out. You might have been treated to the views of epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, who claimed: “The epidemic has largely come and is on its way out in this country.” This wasn’t due to the lockdown, she argued, but “the build-up of immunity”, which government advisers were apparently underestimating. By the summer, you would have read that it was all over. In June, Toby Young, editor of the Lockdown Sceptics website predicted: “There will be no ‘second spike’ – not now, and not in the autumn either. The virus has melted into thin air. It’s time to get back to normal.” Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson wrote: “The terrible Coronabeast will be gone from these isles by September.”
Continued Lockdown
Are too many of us bending the rules of this lockdown?
Lockdown is not driving down Covid-19 fast enough – so are too many of us bending the rules? It may be a case of pushing the boundaries too far at a time when the more infectious UK strain of the virus is such a threat and spreading at speed. But whether it’s drifting back to the workplace or even something as simple as meeting up for a takeaway coffee with a friend in the park, people who have options to stay at home may be finding too many loopholes which will only prolong the current crisis.
Let us play: parents and charities plead for swings and slides to be kept open during lockdown
Play charities are calling for councils to keep playgrounds open during lockdown, as many are closed due to fears that they encourage people to “congregate and socialise”. In a letter from Play England to all local authorities in England, several experts who work with children say that playgrounds should stay open “to reduce the catastrophic impact of Covid and lockdown on children’s physical and mental health and wellbeing”. Stevenage council closed 54 playgrounds last week after a rise in cases in the area, including among children and young people. Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire county council, said: “Nobody wants to do this but the virus is circulating so much we don’t have a choice.”
Germany to Extend Lockdown Until Mid-February, Mulls Curfew
Germany will likely extend lockdown measures until at least mid-February and may impose a nighttime curfew in coronavirus hot spots. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers are due to decide on the latest strategy to stem the spread of the disease during a video call on Tuesday. The talks, originally planned for Jan. 25, were brought forward after the German leader warned of the risks posed by variants that can spread more quickly. With regional authorities responsible for health policy under Germany’s federal system, the discussions are a critical -- and at times contentious -- part of the country’s fight against the pandemic. State leaders have regularly balked at Merkel’s tougher stance, and resistance could grow as numbers come off peak levels and with officials wary of voter dissatisfaction ahead of state elections in March.
Germany needs to extend and tighten COVID-19 lockdown - Scholz
Germany must extend and tighten its lockdown measures to get down infection numbers in the pandemic more quickly, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Monday. “I consider an extension and precise measures to increase the effectiveness of the (existing) measures necessary,” Scholz said, adding that stricter rules for working from home should be considered to reduce mobility and social contacts. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state premiers are expected to discuss further curbs on Tuesday to slow the spread of new, more infectious variants of the coronavirus.
Where's the spark? How lockdown caused a creativity crisis
Doomed. That was the prevailing mood at Color, a 50-person creative agency, when the pandemic shut its offices in Seattle and Los Angeles. “Among the many business fears that Covid brought on,” says Elie Goral, executive creative director, “the concept of needing to isolate our creative energy was one of the scariest. Creative ideation is that frenetic spark that happens when a group of people are together, face-to-face, beers in hand, pacing back and forth against a messy whiteboard.” A “close-knit culture” had traditionally helped his colleagues to share abstract ideas and feedback. He worried about the impact of remote working “without the ability to casually socialise in the spaces around our offices specifically designed for impromptu conversation”.
All arrivals to UK face hotel quarantine to stop new Covid strains
Ministers have ordered plans to be drawn up for a fresh crackdown at Britain’s borders to stop new variants of the coronavirus undermining the vaccination effort. Officials have been told to prepare for the creation of quarantine hotels for those arriving in Britain and to use GPS and facial-recognition technology to check that people are staying in isolation. Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, warned that it was too early for people to book summer holidays abroad.
Covid-19: British people in lockdown flock to packed-out beaches amid deadly coronavirus outbreak
As the United Kingdom grapples with its third lockdown amid a deadly Covid-19 outbreak, British residents are still heading to the beaches and parks in droves. Thousands of maskless walkers were pictured enjoying a rare glimpse of winter sunshine at England’s Brighton Beach at the weekend. British media also published photos of packed-out parks and lined streets, as residents left their homes to exercise. A lockdown is currently in place across the UK to help curb surging infection numbers, however the rules do allow for people to leave their homes for exercise and long as they stay local.
Slovakia tightens anti-coronavirus lockdown, extends it till Feb 7
The Slovak government tightened lockdown of the country and extended it till Feb. 7, as it launched week-long testing campaign in an attempt to tame the coronavirus epidemic. The lockdown, declared on New Year’s Eve until Jan. 24, includes a ban on visits between families, travel beyond one’s district or public church services. Slovaks are now asked to get tested from Monday until Jan. 26. After that, only people with a negative result will be able to go to their workplace, the rest will have to stay home. “We decided to go for the ideal combination, a lockdown with massive testing,” Prime Minister Igor Matovic said at a televised press conference. A negative test result will be also required for trips to the country or going to the post office. The tighter rules can be lifted earlier than Feb. 7 if the number of hospitalised patients drops below 2,500.
Scientific Viewpoint
Coronavirus: the race between vaccines and new variants
Anna Gross lays out the threat new variants of the disease pose to the UK's vaccination programme. The hopes of the rest of the world could rest upon whether Britain succeeds in its target of 15m vaccinations by mid-February
Scotland factory to produce Valneva Covid vaccine | News
A French-Austrian pharmaceutical company is to start manufacturing millions of doses of what it hopes could be Britain’s fourth vaccine at a plant in Scotland. Valneva hopes that the serum could be in use in Britain by September. The company has agreed to provide Britain with 60 million doses of its vaccine, compared with 100 million doses of the shot from Oxford University and Astrazeneca.
Covid: Brazil approves and rolls out AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines
A nurse has received Brazil's first Covid-19 vaccine dose after regulators gave emergency approval to two jabs. Regulator Anvisa gave the green light to vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac, doses of which will be distributed among all 27 states. Brazil has the world's second-highest death toll from Covid-19 and cases are rising again across the country. President Jair Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for his handling of the pandemic. The far-right leader has played down the pandemic from the beginning, promoted an unproven treatment for the disease and gone against measures including mask-wearing and social distancing.
World on the brink of 'catastrophic moral failure' due to unfair vaccine rollouts, WHO chief says
The head of the World Health Organization said the equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines is at “serious risk.” WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was on the brink of a “catastrophic moral failure.”
Israel sharing COVID-19 data with Pfizer to help fine-tune vaccine rollout
Israel is giving weekly data updates on its COVID-19 outbreak to vaccine maker Pfizer under a collaboration agreement that may help other countries fine-tune their inoculation campaigns and achieve “herd immunity”, officials said. Israelis began receiving first shots of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Dec. 19 in one of the world’s fastest vaccination rollouts. Israel’s Health Ministry made public most of a 20-page collaboration agreement it signed with Pfizer, which said the aim was “to determine whether herd immunity is achieved after reaching a certain percentage of vaccination coverage in Israel”.
Covid-19: Norway investigates 23 deaths in frail elderly patients after vaccination
Doctors in Norway have been told to conduct more thorough evaluations of very frail elderly patients in line to receive the Pfizer BioNTec vaccine against covid-19, following the deaths of 23 patients shortly after receiving the vaccine. “It may be a coincidence, but we aren’t sure,” Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told The BMJ. “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.” The agency has investigated 13 of the deaths so far and concluded that common adverse reactions of mRNA vaccines, such as fever, nausea, and diarrhoea, may have contributed to fatal outcomes in some of the frail patients. “There is a possibility that these common adverse reactions, that are not dangerous in fitter, younger patients and are not unusual with vaccines, may aggravate underlying disease in the elderly,” Madsen said. “We are not alarmed or worried about this, because these are very rare occurrences and they occurred in very frail patients with very serious disease,” he emphasised. “We are now asking for doctors to continue with the vaccination, but to carry out extra evaluation of very sick people whose underlying condition might be aggravated by it.” This evaluation includes discussing the risks and benefits of vaccination with the patient and their families to decide whether or not vaccination is the best course.
Covid-19 having 'devastating effect' on children
Northern Ireland's mental health champion is among child health experts warning of the "devastating effect" of the coronavirus pandemic on children. Professor Siobhan O'Neill was among more than 50 signatories to a letter calling children's welfare "a national emergency". It was published in the Observer newspaper on Sunday. Professor O'Neill was appointed Northern Ireland's interim mental health champion in June 2020. She is also professor of mental health sciences at Ulster University (UU).
Israel trades Pfizer doses for medical data in vaccine blitz
After sprinting ahead in the race to inoculate its population against the coronavirus, Israel has struck a deal with Pfizer promising to share vast troves of medical data with the international drug giant in exchange for the continued flow of its hard-to-get vaccine. Proponents say the deal could allow Israel to become the first country to vaccinate most of its population, while providing valuable research that could help the rest of the world. But critics say the deal raises major ethical concerns, including possible privacy violations and a deepening of the global divide that enables wealthy countries to stockpile vaccines as poorer populations, including Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, have to wait longer to be inoculated.
Dr. Fauci warns of 'more ominous' strains of COVID-19 from Brazil and South Africa
US top infectious disease expert warns of 'more ominous' COVID-19 mutations Dr. Anthony Fauci said health officials are 'looking at them very carefully' New strains from Brazil and South Africa are considered more contagious But it is not known if the new variants will less impact of COVID-19 vaccine Fauci said US is 'weeks away' from approving two new COVID-19 vaccinations Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca are getting set to roll out new inoculation Fauci also inoculating 100 million Americans in Biden's first 100 days is 'doable'
One-in-eight 'recovered' Covid patients 'DIE within 140 days': Study finds devastating toll on people who were hospitalised - with a THIRD readmitted within weeks
A third of recovered Covid patients are readmitted to hospital within five months Leicester University found one-in-eight of the Covid patients then died The long-term effects of Covid can cause many to develop heart problems
Staying safe in the time of coronavirus: pay attention to ‘the guy you know’
"For the last nine months, my team of anthropologists and I have been asking people across the United States to tell us their experiences of living during a global pandemic. We have seen a dangerous theme emerge: the belief that dangers of the virus come from strangers and that friendship and family ties can cancel contagion. Though logical, these interpretations of biology are wrong — sometimes dead wrong. Stories help people make sense of a world in crisis. They can also lead to potentially harmful behaviors that can interfere with the ability to stay healthy or protect loved ones from Covid-19. When we asked dozens of interviewees across a spectrum of demographics, “What is Covid-19?” they consistently responded with answers like, “It’s a guy we don’t know,” or “It’s dangerous because we know the cold and the flu, but we don’t know this one.”
French firm 'days away' from producing fourth Covid vaccine in UK
A French-Austrian drug company is gearing up to start work in Britain next week on a new Covid-19 vaccine, it has been claimed. The UK is set to receive 60 million doses of drugmaker Valneva’s candidate – making it the country’s second largest coronavirus vaccine supply after Britain’s own Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. In September, Valneva confirmed its partnership with the UK Government, which invests in the firm’s major manufacturing facility in Livingston, Scotland, to support the scale up and development of the jab. Valneva is now said to be ‘days away’ from starting manufacturing efforts in the UK of its two-dose jab, called VLA2001, according to the company’s boss.
Patients dying waiting for ambulances as crews 'overwhelmed' by Covid, study reveals
Paramedics have reached "breaking point" as patients are dying before they can respond to 999 calls due to overwhelming numbers of Covid cases in hospital, a study suggests. Three out of four emergency service workers are struggling to cope and have asked for improved PPE, with many turning up for shifts terrified, according to the GMB union. GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said the "system is collapsing" in straits far worse than the first lockdown last March. The troubling study comes after the head of the NHS revealed today that hospitals across England are taking on a new Covid patient every 30 seconds. NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said he could not "sugar-coat" the scale of the crisis on wards and in intensive care.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Coronavirus China: COVID-19 'super-spreader' is linked to 102 infections in Jilin
A travelling salesman in China has been linked to 102 COVID-19 infections after giving public lectures while carrying the virus without showing symptoms. The man, who has been dubbed a 'super-spreader', had held the talks at health salons popular with elderly citizens before the cluster infections erupted in the north-eastern province of Jilin, state media reported. China reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases for the sixth consecutive day on Monday. Rising infections in the northeast are fuelling concern of another wave when hundreds of millions of people travel for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Covid-19: Critical care wards full in hospitals across England
Ten hospital trusts across England consistently reported having no spare adult critical care beds in the most recent figures. It comes as hospital waiting times, coronavirus admissions and patients requiring intensive care are rising. England's 140 acute trusts had 5,503 adult critical care beds on 10 January, with 4,632 in use. NHS bosses have warned hospitals could "hit the limit" of their capacity this week. "I think, this next week, we will be at the limit of what we probably have the physical space and the people to safely do," Danny Mortimer, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said.
Ten areas in England with biggest Covid rise as 36 places record jump despite lockdown
Covid infection rates are still rising in 36 areas in England despite lockdown - but which areas are the worst? Figures from Public Health England reveal that Knowsley in Merseyside is the country's worst hotspot, with 1,228.3 cases per 100,000 people. It is followed by Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Slough, which have rates above 1,000. But the encouraging data from Public Health England reveals the worst-affected areas are seeing a fall in new infections, two weeks into the latest national lockdown. Of the 315 local areas in England, 36 (11 per cent) have seen a rise in case rates while 279 (89 per cent) have seen a fall.
UK Records the highest-ever number of Covid-19 cases
Over the last month, the number of daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK soared, with reports of over 68,000 confirmed cases on 8 January 2021, the highest reported since the start of the pandemic. The new record comes at a time when the nation is on lockdown and has been administering highly effective vaccines for a month, showing that the Covid-19 trend can be slow to turn despite interventions. According to GlobalData’s Covid-19 dashboard, confirmed cases in the UK started to rise considerably (Figure 1) after a noticeable decline between the middle of November 2020 and the start of December 2020. Over 1.3 million positive cases were reported between 10 December 2020, and 10 January 2021, an average of over 40,000 new cases daily. This may be a result of the UK relaxing lockdown rules on 2 December 2020, as well as the compounding effect of the influenza season.
As bodies pile up, Germany's eastern COVID hot spots struggle for answers
For some in Meissen the caskets piling up in the eastern German city’s sole crematorium are a tragic reminder of what happens when the coronavirus is not taken seriously. For others it is simply nature’s way. Meissen, along with other places across old East Germany that are generally poorer, older and more supportive of a far-right opposed to lockdown, are the worst hit by the pandemic in the country, complicating Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to bring it under control. “It’s heartbreaking,” said manager Joerg Schaldach, whose furnaces cremated 1,400 bodies last month, double the figure from December last year. More than half had died of COVID-19 and Schaldach expects some 1,700 cremations in total this month.
COVID deaths cross 4000 as ministers set to debate extending lockdown
Israel on Monday crossed a grim milestone, as Health Ministry confirmed the death toll from the coronavirus stood at 4,005. Israel has recorded 551,689 coronavirus cases since the pandemic erupted in March 2020. There are currently 1,130 patients in serious condition, while 467,790 Israelis have recovered from the disease. Some 2,116,257 Israelis have vaccinanted against COVID-19 over the past month, and 309,065 have already received the second dose. Coinciding with the launch of the vaccination campaign has been a surge in coronavirus cases, with some 9,000 daily new infections diagnosed in recent days. The cabinet is set to decide on Wednesday whether to extend the lockdown – Israel's third – by at least another week. The Health Ministry is pushing to extend it until the end of January, but Blue and White and the ultra-Orthodox parties vehemently oppose the move.
Ukraine sees lowest daily coronavirus tally since late September
Ukraine reported 3,034 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its lowest daily tally since the end of September, health minister Maksym Stepanov said. The number of deaths decreased to 67 from 116 the day earlier, he said on Facebook. A strict lockdown would end as scheduled on Jan. 25, the ministry said last week. Ukraine closed schools, restaurants and gyms on Jan. 8. The number of new coronavirus cases dropped in early January to less than 10,000 a day from record levels in mid-December. Ukraine has registered more than 1.16 million coronavirus cases with 20,869 deaths.
Stocks sink as coronavirus fears outweigh recovery hopes
Global stock markets wavered on Monday as soaring COVID-19 cases offset investor hopes of a quick economic recovery, even after data showing that the Chinese economy rebounded faster-than-expected in the fourth quarter of 2020. European stocks as measured by the STOXX 600 index struggled for direction, last trading 0.1% higher as of 1446 GMT, after failed merger talks between French retailer Carrefour and Alimentation Couche-Tard pulled the gauge lower at the open. The continent’s 50 biggest stocks were down 0.2% [.EU] In Asia, Chinese blue chips gained 1.1% after the economy was reported to have grown 6.5% in the fourth quarter, on a year earlier, topping forecasts of 6.1%. Industrial production for December also beat estimates, although retail sales missed expectations.
China reports more than 100 new COVID cases as New Year holiday exodus looms
China reported more than 100 new COVID-19 cases for the sixth consecutive day, with rising infections in the northeast fuelling concern of another wave when hundreds of millions of people travel for the Lunar New Year holiday. Tough new controls in the city of Gongzhuling in Jilin province, which has a population of about 1 million people, brings the total number of people under lockdown to more than 29 million. According to the Global Times newspaper, at least 11 regions in the provinces of Hebei, Heilongjiang and Jilin have imposed lockdowns and introduced extensive testing programmes. The National Health Commission reported 109 new COVID-19 cases for Sunday, unchanged from the day earlier. Of the 93 local infections, 54 were in Hebei, which surrounds Beijing.
Portugal's health system on brink of collapse as COVID-19 cases surge
Portugal’s public health system is on the verge of collapsing as hospitals in the areas worst-affected by a worrying surge in coronavirus cases are quickly running out of intensive care beds to treat COVID-19 patients. “Our health system is under a situation of extreme pressure,” Health Minister Marta Temido told reporters on Sunday afternoon after a visit to a struggling hospital. “There is a limit and we are very close to it.”
New Lockdown
Almost All Of Italy Goes Into Lockdown
Italy is heading into a tough period of restrictions on Sunday, January 17, as coronavirus cases in the country continue to skyrocket. There is currently an average of 500 deaths per day in Italy, with 16,310 new Covid infections registered on Saturday according to the Ministry of Health. The death toll in the country stands at 81,800. As of Sunday, twelve Italian regions will be in the ‘orange zone’, meaning that all bars and restaurants will be closed and people won’t be allowed to leave the municipality. Lombardy, Sicily and Alto Adige are in the ‘red zone’ and will be plunged into total confinement for three weeks
Coronavirus pandemic in Italy: Three regions return to near-lockdown restrictions
Italy has registered 81,325 Covid-19 deaths since the virus came to light last February, the second-highest toll in Europe and the sixth-highest in the world. Earlier on Friday the government issued a new decree extending curbs to keep lid on infections after the health ministry warned that the epidemic was getting worse. Restrictions will be tightened to the maximum "red-zone" level in three of Italy's 20 regions, including northern Lombardy around Milan.
Virus resurgence expands lockdown in China
Amid a rise in locally transmitted coronavirus infections in China, at least 11 regions in three provinces have been put under lockdown to stem the spread of the virus as of Monday, according to local reports. According to a statement by China’s National Health Commission (NHC), 109 infections were reported on Sunday which included 93 indigenous cases -- 54 in the Hebei province, 30 in Jilin, seven in Heilongjiang, and two in Beijing. China, where the first cases of the virus were reported in December 2019, is witnessing a resurgence of the virus since early this month, mostly in Hebei. The country has reported 88,336 coronavirus cases, including 4,635 deaths, so far
Malaysia to roll out additional $3.7 billion stimulus measures - PM
Malaysia will introduce 15 billion ringgit ($3.71 billion) worth of additional stimulus measures to support its pandemic-hit economy and fight COVID-19, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday. Last week, Malaysia declared a state of emergency and imposed a nationwide travel ban and lockdowns in the capital and five states to help curb the spread of the outbreak, which has been worsening in recent days in the Southeast Asian country.