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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 23rd Mar 2021

Overnight News Roundup

Vaccine producers urged to find ways to overcome vaccine inequity

  • WHO says vaccine makers should follow AstraZeneca's lead and license technology to other manufacturers to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • AstraZeneca's shot, which new U.S. data showed was safe and effective, despite some countries suspending inoculations over health concerns, is being produced in various locations including South Korea's SKBioScience and the Serum Institute in India.
  • WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus blasted the gap between the number of coronavirus vaccines administered in richer and poorer countries, branding the inequity a global moral outrage.
  • 'Countries that are now vaccinating younger, healthy people at low risk of disease are doing so at the cost of lives of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups in other countries,' Tedros said, adding that rich countries were giving themselves a false sense of security.
  • The U.N. health agency chief said the more transmission of the virus anywhere in the world, the more variants are likely to emerge - and the more of those that spring up, the more likely they are to evade vaccines.
Producers urged to overcome vaccine inequity
Global COVID-19 continues climb amid widening vaccine gaps
As the world's COVID-19 cases spiked for the fifth week in a row, the World Health Organization (WHO) today said the vaccine gap between rich and poor countries continues to widen. At a briefing, the WHO's director said vaccine doses deployed in high-income countries are far outpacing doses administered through COVAX, a situation he said is "becoming more grotesque very day." The agency's stark assessment comes as concerns over vaccine safety and supply roil countries, especially in Europe, and comes on the same day AstraZeneca released promising findings on efficacy and safety from a US trial of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with Oxford University
‘Grotesque’: Producers urged to overcome vaccine inequity
More producers of COVID-19 vaccines should follow AstraZeneca’s lead and license technology to other manufacturers, the World Health Organization chief said on Monday, as he described continuing vaccine inequity as “grotesque”. AstraZeneca’s shot, which new US data showed was safe and effective despite some countries suspending inoculations over health concerns, is being produced in various locations including South Korea’s SKBioScience and the Serum Institute in India.
Brazil CEOs and economists blast Bolsonaro’s COVID response
Brazil CEOs and economists blast Bolsonaro’s COVID response
Hundreds of Brazilian business leaders and economists blasted President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus crisis on Monday and called for a new policy approach as the country enters a critical phase of its COVID-19 outbreak. The letter, published in newspapers and signed by former central bank chiefs and some of Brazil’s richest bankers, underscored a growing revolt by business leaders against the far-right president whom many had backed for his 2018 election.
European trust in the AstraZeneca jab questioned
AstraZeneca says trial data from U.S. study on its COVID-19 vaccine shows it's 79% effective
AstraZeneca says advanced trial data from a U.S. study on the COVID-19 vaccine it developed along with Oxford University shows it is 79% effective in preventing symptomatic illness and 100% effective against severe illness and hospitalization.
European trust in AstraZeneca COVID vaccine plunges, poll shows
Confidence in the safety of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine has taken a big hit in Spain, Germany, France and Italy as reports of rare blood clots have been linked to it and many countries briefly stopped using it, poll data showed. Polling firm YouGov said on Monday it had already found in late February that Europeans were more hesitant about the AstraZeneca vaccine than about those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and that the clot concerns had further damaged public perceptions of the AstraZeneca shot’s safety.
AstraZeneca preps COVID-19 vaccine for FDA filing armed with 79% efficacy stat
With the U.S. vaccinating millions of people per day and racing against new COVID-19 variants, a fourth shot looks to be on its way. In a phase 3 trial in the U.S., Peru and Chile, AstraZeneca’s vaccine—which is authorized in Europe and many other countries but not yet in the U.S.—posted 79% overall efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. The shot also showed 100% protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death. In participants over 65, its efficacy rang in at 80%, even better than the overall figure. The data win is no doubt welcome at AZ, which has been scrambling to fill vaccine orders in Europe and working to tamp down fears of a link between its vaccine and dangerous blood clots in a small number of recipients. The U.S. study could provide some help there—it found no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots among trial participants.
AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine shows better-than-expected efficacy in U.S. trial
AstraZeneca said Monday that the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with the University of Oxford reduced both mild and serious forms of the disease, paving the way for a likely U.S. authorization of the vaccine. Doctors, regulators, and government officials the world over are likely to breathe a sigh of relief at the results, which are better than expected and appear materially higher than those in previous studies. The two-dose vaccine reduced symptomatic disease by 79%, the company said in a press release, and reduced severe Covid-19 and hospitalization by 100%. AstraZeneca said that the vaccine was equally effective in people over 65, where it had 80% efficacy.
US trials find AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine safe and effective
The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca was 79 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic illness in a large trial in the United States, Chile and Peru, the company said on Monday, paving the way for it to apply for US approval. The vaccine was 100 per cent effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation and was safe, the drugmaker said on Monday, releasing results of the late-stage human trial study of more than 32,000 volunteers across all age groups. The data will give credence to the British shot after results from earlier, separate late-stage studies raised questions about the robustness of the data.
AstraZeneca's new trial data gives COVID-19 vaccine a boost in U.S
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine performed better than expected in a major late-stage trial, paving the way for its potential emergency authorization in the United States and boosting confidence in the shot after setbacks in Europe. The drugmaker said on Monday that interim data from trials in Chile, Peru and the United States found the vaccine was 79% effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and, crucially, posed no increased risk of blood clots. AstraZeneca intends to request U.S. emergency authorization for the vaccine, which was developed in conjunction with Oxford University, in the coming weeks. More than a dozen European countries, including Germany and France, halted use of the vaccine earlier this month after reports linked it to a rare blood clotting disorder in a very small number of people.
COVID-19: Boris Johnson warns Europe's third wave will hit UK - but is 'reassured' EU doesn't want jabs 'blockade'
Boris Johnson has been "reassured" EU leaders "don't want to see blockades" on the export of COVID vaccines - as he warned a third wave of infections in Europe would likely hit the UK as well. Amid a dispute over a possible block on exports of coronavirus jabs to the UK, the prime minister said he had been "reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don't want to see blockades". He stressed the UK was "on course" to vaccinate the top nine priority groups - including all over-50s - by 15 April, while the government would "bash on" with its roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions over the next three months.
Taiwan kicks off COVID vaccination campaign with AstraZeneca jab
Taiwan’s Premier Su Tseng-chang received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot on Monday, having volunteered to be first in line to underscore government confidence in the vaccine’s safety as the island began its inoculation campaign. “I have just finished getting the injection, there is no pain at the injection site, and there is no soreness of the body,” Su told reporters at National Taiwan University Hospital in central Taipei
New vaccine approvals
Hungary approves new Chinese vaccine, and CoviShield for emergency use
Hungary is the first European Union (EU) country to approve for emergency use China’s CanSino Biologics coronavirus vaccine and CoviShield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca shot, the Hungarian surgeon general said on Monday. New infections are surging in Hungary in a third wave of the pandemic, even as vaccine import and usage rates are among the highest in the EU with the country using Chinese and Russian vaccines as well as Western ones. If both new vaccines are also approved for mass use by the National Health Centre, Hungary will have seven sources to procure vaccines from. It was unclear when and in what quantity Hungary planned to deploy the newly authorised vaccines, or how it planned to buy them.
Mauritius approves Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine - Russian RDIF fund
Mauritius has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use against COVID-19, becoming the 55th country to do so, Russia’s RDIF sovereign wealth fund said on Monday.
Switzerland approves J&J COVID vaccine
Swiss regulators on Monday gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, after already authorising the jabs made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The Swissmedic regulatory authority said in a statement that it had authorised the use of the vaccine, which has the advantages of being a single-shot jab that can be stored with regular refrigeration rather than at ultra-cold temperatures. "Following a careful review of all the submitted documentation, Swissmedic has granted the 'COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen' temporary authorisation," it said.
Lockdown and its consequences
How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting mental health
In the year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic, billions of lives around the world have been upended. Experts have warned of the mental health toll amid an increase in reports of anxiety, depression and distress. “From the very beginning of the pandemic, those of us who worked in the field knew that there … would be a mental health crisis,” Dr Steven Taylor, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia and author of The Psychology of Pandemics, told Al Jazeera.
German tourist industry warns of job losses from tighter pandemic lockdowns
The German tourist industry has warned of layoffs and bankruptices if authorities further tighten lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus including by enforcing quarantine for those returning from holidays abroad. National and regional leaders meeting on Monday evening to decide the next round of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic are mulling requiring quarantine for all returning travellers, not just those who were in high-risk areas.
Germany's extended lockdown to delay recovery till early summer - economists
A looming extension of COVID-19 lockdown measures in Germany will delay a much hoped-for recovery in Europe’s largest economy from spring until early summer, economists said on Monday. Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers are expected on Monday to extend restrictions on shopping and travelling until April 18 in a bid to contain a third wave of COVID-19 cases, according to a draft proposal seen by Reuters at the weekend. “The upswing that was actually expected for spring is now more likely to set in from early summer,” Deutsche Bank chief economist Stefan Schneider said.
A year on from lockdown, India reports worst day for COVID-19 in months
India reported its most COVID-19 cases and deaths in months on Monday, on the first anniversary of the start of a chaotic nationwide lockdown that left many people jobless and shrank the economy.
Vaccine delivery hiccup
White House promises more J&J COVID-19 shots after launch stalls, declines to specify weekly shipment
Johnson & Johnson should come close to hitting its target of delivering 20 million doses of its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine in March after its shipments stalled in recent weeks, a top White House official said on Monday, while declining to say how many will go out this week. The company shipped four million shots in early March but its rollout has since stalled as facilities involved in the manufacturing await clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine was authorized by U.S. regulators in February, making it the third to be cleared for use in the United States and the first that requires just one injection for immunization.
COVID long-haulers speak about living with brain fog, rancid smells and crushing fatigue
In February, the NIH announced a four-year, $1.15 billion dollar initiative to study what causes long COVID, but even before the initiative was put forth, clinics were springing up around the country to research and treat the growing number of long-haul patients. Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have also drawn connections between long COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, which is characterized by symptoms like fatigue and brain fog and can be triggered by infectious diseases like mononucleosis, Lyme disease and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Dr. Sara Martin is working to get one such initiative off the ground. The Adult Post-Acute COVID clinic at Vanderbilt University, which launched this week, brings together specialists from internal medicine, infectious disease, pulmonology, cardiology, ophthalmology, psychology, physical medicine, ear, nose and throat, speech pathology and neurology.
We need to start thinking more critically — and speaking more cautiously — about long Covid
What media stories about long Covid and the people who call themselves long-haulers describe is frightening. Ed Yong, a writer for The Atlantic, has been particularly influential in sculpting this narrative. In “Long-Haulers Are Redefining Covid-19,” he describes a mysterious syndrome that strikes even those with mild Covid-19, people who never required hospitalization, oxygen, or ventilators, but who never seem to recover. Such reports are concerning, but I also worry that the narrative about a new chronic disease caused by a mild infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is getting ahead of the evidence.
COVID-19: Hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo may be associated with coronavirus, research suggests
Hearing loss and other auditory problems may be strongly linked to coronavirus, new research suggests. Scientists estimate 7.6% of people infected with COVID-19 experience hearing loss, while 14.8% suffer tinnitus. They also found the prevalence of vertigo was 7.2%. The researchers, from The University of Manchester and Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, compiled data from 24 studies that identified an association between coronavirus and auditory and vestibular problems. The vestibular system includes parts of the inner ear and brain that process the information involved with controlling balance and eye movements.
Global COVID-19 continues climb amid widening vaccine gaps
Global COVID-19 continues climb amid widening vaccine gaps
As the world's COVID-19 cases spiked for the fifth week in a row, the World Health Organization (WHO) today said the vaccine gap between rich and poor countries continues to widen. At a briefing, the WHO's director said vaccine doses deployed in high-income countries are far outpacing doses administered through COVAX, a situation he said is "becoming more grotesque very day." The agency's stark assessment comes as concerns over vaccine safety and supply roil countries, especially in Europe, and comes on the same day AstraZeneca released promising findings on efficacy and safety from a US trial of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with Oxford University
WHO: Global coronavirus deaths rise for 1st time in 6 weeks
A top World Health Organization expert on the coronavirus pandemic said Monday the weekly global count of deaths from COVID-19 is rising again, a "worrying sign" after about six weeks of declines. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 at the U.N. health agency, said the growth followed a fifth straight week of confirmed cases increasing worldwide. She said the number of reported cases went up up in four of the WHO's six regions, though there were significant variations within each region. "In the last week, cases have increased by 8% percent," Van Kerkhove told reporters. "In Europe, that is 12%—and that's driven by several countries." The increase is due in part to the spread of a variant that first emerged in Britain and is now circulating in many other places, including eastern Europe, she said.
A year on from lockdown, India reports worst day for COVID-19 in months
India reported its most COVID-19 cases and deaths in months on Monday, on the first anniversary of the start of a chaotic nationwide lockdown that left many people jobless and shrank the economy.
Second COVID surge grips India on ‘people’s curfew’ anniversary
India has reported 46,951 new coronavirus cases, its worst single-day rise since early November, and 212 new COVID-19 deaths, the most since early January. On Monday, total deaths in the country stood at 159,967 and infections at 11.65 million, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil. The grim figures came on the first anniversary of what Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a “Janta curfew” (people’s curfew), marking the start of a chaotic nationwide lockdown last year that left many people jobless and shrank the economy.
Doctors in Hungary urge volunteers to join overwhelmed COVID-19 wards
An appeal went out on Monday for volunteers to join hospital staff treating coronavirus patients in northwestern Hungary, as doctors said COVID-19 wards were overwhelmed, with the pressure only set to mount during the next few weeks. New infections are surging in Hungary, hard-hit by the third wave of the pandemic, despite vaccination rates at the top of European Union nations, as a proportion of population. Hungary was the first nation in the bloc to buy and use Chinese or Russian vaccines, as it said shipments from Western suppliers lagged.
Ireland faces another surge of Covid-19, expert warns
Ireland is in danger of facing another wave of Covid-19 cases, a senior health official has warned. The HSE’s lead for infection control, Professor Martin Cormican, described case numbers as “stuck” and possibly rising. Sunday saw 769 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed by the Department of Health, the highest daily increase in cases reported since Friday February 26. There were also two more deaths of people with Covid-19.
COVID cases up slightly as spring break threatens progress
"We just do not want have a rapid uptick in cases; we are behind the 8 ball when that happens," said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, today during a White House briefing, as she urged Americans to remain vigilant against COVID-19 and avoid unnecessary travel in the coming weeks. The message came after a weekend of spring break revelry resulted in officials in Miami Beach declaring a state of emergency in response to a surge of maskless visitors, NPR reports.
Nursing homes and housebound people
Some housebound people in UK are yet to be given Covid vaccine
Some of the country’s most clinically vulnerable people have yet to receive the coronavirus vaccination, Guardian analysis shows. Ministers had said all clinically extremely vulnerable adults would be offered a vaccination by 15 February, but more than a month later some people who are housebound because of health problems have yet to be offered a jab they can actually access. People whose disability or age means that they are unable to get to one of the mass vaccine centres around the country were meant to be visited by a “mobile health worker” at home, similar to that offered to care home residents. However, while government figures suggest that nearly nine in 10 people who are clinically extremely vulnerable have received a first dose, a number who are housebound are missing out, with some being expected to travel miles to a vaccine centre.
Hugs, at last: Nursing homes easing rules on visitors
An 88-year-old woman in Ohio broke down in tears as her son hugged her for the first time in a year. Nursing home residents and staff in California sang “Over the Rainbow” as they resumed group activities and allowed visitors back in. A 5-year-old dove into the lap of her 94-year-old great-great-aunt for a long embrace in Rhode Island. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other kinds of elderly residences battered by COVID-19 are easing restrictions and opening their doors for the first time since the start of the pandemic, leading to joyous reunions around the country after a painful year of isolation, Zoom calls and greetings through windows.
Third wave to spread to UK too
Coronavirus: Third wave will 'wash up on our shores', warns Johnson
Boris Johnson has warned the effects of a third wave of coronavirus will "wash up on our shores" from Europe. The PM said the UK should be "under no illusion" we will "feel effects" of growing cases on the continent. One of his ministers, Lord Bethell, also warned the UK might put "all our European neighbours" on the red list of countries, where arrivals are either banned or put in quarantine hotels. The comments come amid a row over Covid-19 vaccine supplies in the EU.
Irish officials concerned at rise in COVID cases among children
Covid-19: Officials concerned at rise in cases among children
Extra testing and other public health measures may be introduced to tackle high Covid-19 case numbers in some counties, according to the National Public Health Emergency Team. Nphet is considering an “enhanced response” to deal with areas with high disease incidence, assistant chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn told a briefing on Monday. Officials expressed concern about a rise in cases among younger children but said only a minority of these related to transmission in schools. Although about 50-60 cases a day are being reported among children of primary school going age, only about 10 per cent of these are associated with school outbreaks, according to Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Nphet epidemiological modelling advisory group.