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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 31st Mar 2021

Overnight News Roundup

World leaders, WHO back treaty to prepare for future pandemics

World leaders call for pandemic treaty
World leaders call for pandemic treaty, but short on details
More than 20 heads of government and global agencies called in a commentary published Tuesday for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations in the wake of COVID-19. But there were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leaders including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, Premier Mario Draghi of Italy and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda proposed “a renewed collective commitment” to reinforce preparedness and response systems by leveraging the U.N. health agency’s constitution.
Covid-19: World leaders call for international pandemic treaty
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined more than 20 world leaders in calling for a new global settlement to help the world prepare for future pandemics. In a newspaper article the leaders, including the German chancellor and French president, said Covid posed the biggest challenge since World War Two. The pandemic has shown "nobody is safe until everyone is safe", they said. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the UK would need a surplus of vaccines before it could export supplies.
World leaders, WHO back treaty to prepare for future pandemics
As the world battles the biggest health crisis in recent history, leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) have said an international treaty for pandemic preparedness will protect future generations. The idea of such a treaty, aimed at tightening rules on sharing information and ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, as well as medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was first floated late last year by European Council President Charles Michel.
Scientists say ministers should ditch ‘rigid’ Covid rules and teach public how to reduce risk of transmission
Scientists say ministers to ditch ‘rigid’ Covid rules and teach public how to reduce risk of transmission
Ministers should stop telling people to stick to “rigid” coronavirus rules and instead focus more on explaining how they can reduce the risk of catching the disease, a senior Government scientist has said. The Government loosened Covid-19 restrictions today, implementing a new Rule of Six in England, allowing six people or two households to meet outdoors, including in private gardens. Scientists believe the next step in easing the measures could lead to a rise in Covid-19 cases as people will be more likely to bend the rules after three months of a winter lockdown.
Continued lockdown
Covid in Ireland: Further six weeks of lockdown expected
The government is expected to announce today a further six weeks of lockdown with a minor and gradual easing of restrictions over the course of April. The present guidelines were due to be relaxed next Monday, after more than three months of lockdown, but it is expected that any changes to public health measures will be limited. It is understood that the 5km exercise and travel limit will be relaxed to at least 10km from next week, and that two households will be allowed to meet outdoors later in the month.
Vienna Plans to Extend Easter Lockdown Until Following Weekend: Minister
Vienna plans to extend an Easter coronavirus lockdown by five days until the following Sunday, Austria's health minister said on Monday, while two nearby provinces introducing the same restrictions are still undecided on prolonging them. The eastern provinces of Lower Austria, which surrounds Vienna, Burgenland, which borders Hungary, and the capital itself last week announced a lockdown from Thursday, April 1 to Tuesday, April 6, closing non-essential shops and replacing a nighttime curfew with all-day restrictions on movement
Turkey tightens coronavirus measures, brings back weekend lockdowns: Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced tighter measures against the coronavirus on Monday, citing the rising number of high-risk cities across the country. Erdogan said a full weekend lockdown was to be in place during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, and restaurants would only serve food for delivery and take-outs. A curfew from 9 pm until 5 am across the country will continue, Erdogan said. Turkey has recorded 32,404 new coronavirus cases in the space of 24 hours, the highest number this year, health ministry data showed on Monday.
Chile imposes lockdowns to fight new Covid wave despite vaccination success
Despite mounting the world’s fastest per-capita Covid-19 vaccination campaign, Chile has been forced to announce strict new lockdowns as it plunges deeper into a severe second wave of cases which is stretching intensive care capacity. Chile trails only Israel and the UAE in vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants worldwide, but new cases have risen quickly amid mixed health messaging, travel over the southern hemisphere summer holidays and the circulation of new variants.
Qatar health official calls for lockdown as COVID cases rise
A Qatari health official has called for a full lockdown in the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the country continues to report an increasing number of infections on a daily basis. Ahmed al-Mohammed, acting chairman of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Intensive Care Units, said on Monday that Qatar was witnessing a peak in the number of cases since the first wave, including a reportedly large number of infections among children under the age of 14.
Hospitals in Ecuador's capital overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections, doctors say
Ecuador’s health system is under severe strain from a spike in coronavirus infections, doctors in the country’s capital said on Tuesday, adding that some Quito hospitals are working above capacity to treat COVID-19 patients. Ecuador’s suffered a brutal outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020, primarily in the largest city of Guayaquil. Authorities controlled the situation after several months, but in recent weeks have seen cases jump in cities around the country. “The saturation of the health system is not only in Quito but at the national level,” Dr. Victor Alvarez, president of the doctors association of the state of Pichincha, where Quito is located, told reporters. “Seeing images of patients lying on the ground, or perhaps on a military mattress, receiving oxygen in emergency units, that’s sad.”
GSK to help manufacture 60m doses of Novavax Covid vaccine in UK
Manufacturing Johnson & Johnson vaccine partner Emergent still lacks FDA's manufacturing green light
The U.S. manufacturing partner turning out drug substance for Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is still waiting on an FDA green light, potentially putting a squeeze on J&J's supply pipeline. The FDA is weighing an emergency nod for Emergent BioSolutions, tapped in July 2020 to provide large-scale drug substance manufacturing for J&J's shot, Politico reported, citing two people familiar with the company's emergency use authorization process. The regulator could clear Emergent "very soon," one source said.
GSK to help manufacture 60m doses of Novavax Covid vaccine in UK
British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will be part of the manufacturing process for up to 60m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US rival Novavax in an agreement set to boost UK production of coronavirus jabs. The vaccine has yet to receive the green light from UK regulators, but is expected to be submitted for approval over the next three months after showing strong efficacy in a recent late-stage trial, including against the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant circulating in the UK. Under an agreement in principle with Novavax and the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce, GSK will “fill and finish” 60m doses of the vaccine, preparing the vials and packaging the finished doses for distribution, the company said.
Novavax COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by UK in April, Evening Standard says
Britain could approve Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine next month, the chief investigator for the shot's trial told the Evening Standard newspaper. “The regulator will do a very detailed and thorough review and will decide in good time,” said Professor Paul Heath, chief investigator for the Novavax jab trial in the UK. “I would hope it would be in the spring, possibly end of April.”
COVID-19: Up to 60m vaccine doses to be manufactured at Barnard Castle, Boris Johnson says
Up to 60 million doses of COVID vaccine will be manufactured at Barnard Castle in the North East, Boris Johnson has announced. The prime minister revealed that the Novavax jab - which has yet to be approved - will undergo its "fill and finish" stage at a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) facility. Part of the vaccine is already being produced in the North East, at a Fujifilm site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, as it awaits approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
New studies into vaccine effectiveness
Covid jab probably does protect those around you
The Covid-19 vaccine blocks pretty much all cases of serious illness - but the government has been much more cautious about saying whether it stops people carrying the virus and infecting others. Until evidence had built up from lots of people being vaccinated, scientists could not say for sure if the jab would stop transmission - and there was concern those vaccinated might stop taking precautions, potentially leading to a rise in infections. But with some now refusing the vaccine in the belief it will not stop them passing on the virus, is this caution becoming counterproductive? A number of people have contacted the BBC, saying they believe the jab could stop them becoming severely ill only.
T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study
A critical component of the immune system known as T cells that respond to fight infection from the original version of the novel coronavirus appear to also protect against three of the most concerning new virus variants, according to a U.S. laboratory study released on Tuesday. Several recent studies have shown that certain variants of the novel coronavirus can undermine immune protection from antibodies and vaccines. But antibodies - which block the coronavirus from attaching to human cells - may not tell the whole story, according to the study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). T cells appear to play an important additionally protective role. “Our data, as well as the results from other groups, shows that the T cell response to COVID-19 in individuals infected with the initial viral variants appears to fully recognize the major new variants identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil,” said Andrew Redd of the NIAID and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study.
Covid: Half of UK has antibodies from vaccination or infection
Roughly half of people in the UK now have antibodies against Covid, either through infection or vaccination, tests conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. Most of this will be through vaccination - with 30 million people having received at least one dose. Antibodies are proteins in the blood which recognise specific infections and fight them off. Among the oldest who are most at risk, levels are even higher. But there has been a small decline in detectable antibodies in that group since the peak of infections in January.
No rare blood clots in first 440,000 people vaccinated for coronavirus in Wales
No cases of a blood clotting disorder have been found in the first 440,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19 in Wales. Scientists in Swansea University looked at anonymised patient data between January 1, 2019 and January 31, 2021 to determine whether there had been a rise in cases of venous sinus thromboembolism. The extremely rare condition was found in a small number of patients in Norway and Germany and was one of the reasons why several European countries decided to temporarily halt the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. However the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there has been no confirmation the reports of blood clots were caused by the vaccine.
Scientists warn new COVID mutations in a year as vaccines stall
Scientists warn new COVID mutations in a year as vaccines stall
Leading health experts from around the world warned the slow roll-out of vaccines and unequal distribution could mean the shots become ineffective as new coronavirus mutations appear within the next year. Seventy-seven scientists – from leading academic institutions from around the globe – participated in the survey with about 30 percent suggesting second-generation vaccines will be needed as soon as in nine months, unless vaccines become more widely produced and distributed around the world.
Celebrities urge Black Britons to take COVID vaccine
Celebrities urge Black Britons to take COVID vaccine
A group of celebrities is urging Black Britons to take a COVID-19 vaccine as concerns mount over a lag in uptake rates. Figures published on Monday by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that more than 90 percent of people over the age of 70 nationwide had received their first dose of vaccine as of March 11.
Sir Lenny Henry has written an open letter urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine
Film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, author Malorie Blackman and radio DJ Trevor Nelson are among the signatories of an open letter written by Sir Lenny Henry urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine. In the letter, actor and comedian Sir Lenny acknowledged the "legitimate worries and concerns" that people feel, adding: "We know change needs to happen and that it's hard to trust some institutions and authorities." He said: "But we're asking you to trust the facts about the vaccine from our own professors, doctors, scientists involved in the vaccine's development, GPs, not just in the UK but across the world including the Caribbean and Africa.
Coronavirus: Brazil's Covid death rate TRIPLED among people in their 20s in February
Coronavirus: Brazil's Covid death rate TRIPLED among people in their 20s in February
Study could not definitely link the rising death rate to the new variant emerging. Brazilian hospitals have been overloaded in February and March, possibly adding to risk. Deaths have also approximately doubled in people in their 30s, 40s and 50s Brazil has had one of the worst Covid outbreaks in the world, after the U.S.
Berlin state hospitals stop giving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to women under 55
Berlin state hospitals stop giving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to women under 55
Berlin has stopped giving people under the age of 60 the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as a “precautionary measure”. It comes after the country's medical regulator announced 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine. Nine of the people died. All but two of the cases involved women aged 20 to 63, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Germany's medical regulator, said. Several European countries stopped using the Anglo-Swedish firm's vaccine while investigating links with blood clots earlier this month.
Berlin suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for below-60s
The German state of Berlin is again suspending the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for people below 60 over reports of blood clots. Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, said on Tuesday that the decision was taken as a precaution before a meeting of representatives from all of Germany’s 16 states after the country’s medical regulator reported 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine. Of them, nine people died.
Covid-19: 'Background fear' fewer young people will take vaccine
Covid-19: 'Background fear' fewer young people will take vaccine
There is a "background fear" uptake of a Covid-19 vaccine will reduce as the roll out moves to younger age groups, a leading GP has said. Various factors such as social media and rumours could influence people, according to the chairman of Northern Ireland's GP committee. However, Dr Alan Stout said there hadn't been a huge amount of vaccine hesitancy so far in Northern Ireland. "The numbers have been massively impressive," he said. Young men tended to be the hardest group to get "for any sort of healthcare intervention", added Dr Stout, with this trend likely to continue when it came to the coronavirus vaccine.
Covid: 'Madness' as hundreds descend on Nottingham park
Police have warned people to stick to coronavirus rules after large crowds were seen brawling and drinking in a city park on the day restrictions eased. Videos shared on social media showed some hugging and others pushing and shoving at Nottingham Arboretum. One local resident described the scenes on Monday as "horrendous". Police said they had now put a dispersal order in place to prevent similar scenes over the next few days. Since Monday morning, two households or groups of up to six people have been allowed to meet outside in England.
Covid: Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab
Covid: Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab
Secret filming at one of the biggest UK Covid testing labs has found evidence of potential contamination, discarded tests and pressure to hit targets. A BBC reporter working as a lab technician, filmed staff cutting corners and processing samples in a way that could cause contamination. This means some people who had taken a test via NHS Test and Trace may have received no result or a wrong result. The lab said it had followed all necessary rules and regulations. Evidence at the lab captured on film shows: Checks to ensure samples could be identified, were rushed, meaning tests were sometimes discarded unnecessarily. Some test samples "glooped" across an area where other samples had been placed, risking contamination. Swabs used by people to take Covid tests were left in their tubes when processed, presenting a further contamination risk. A quality control scientist telling the reporter that the quality of the results progressively got worse throughout the day. The findings have led experts to question the way the lab was operating.