"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 8th Jun 2021
Brazil COVID inquiry staffers urge postponing Copa America
- Staff members of a Brazilian Senate inquiry into the country's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic have called for the upcoming Copa America football tournament to be postponed, citing low vaccination rates and the risks of spreading the virus.
- In a letter to the country's football team on Sunday, the Senate commission staffers said only 10.77% of the population had received first doses of coronavirus vaccines as of Friday across Brazil.
- The Senate commission in late April launched its investigation into far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 472,000 people across the South American nation, according to John Hopkins University data.
- 'Brazil does not offer sanitary security for holding an international tournament of this magnitude. In addition to transmitting a false sense of security and normality, opposite to the reality that Brazilians are living, it would encourage agglomerations of people and set a bad example,' the staffers said in their letter.
- 'We are not against Copa America in Brazil or anywhere else. But we believe the tournament can wait until the country is ready to host it.'
- The staff members are the latest to raise concerns about plans to hold the international tournament in Brazil, as vaccination rates remain low and public health experts have warned about potential new wave of infections.
- Brazil was unexpectedly chosen last week to host the Copa America by the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL, after Colombia was forced to withdraw because of ongoing social unrest while co-host Argentina was ruled out amid soaring coronavirus infection rates.
Brazil COVID inquiry staffers urge postponing Copa America
Staff members of a Brazilian Senate inquiry into the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic have called for the upcoming Copa America football tournament to be postponed, citing low vaccination rates and the risks of spreading the virus. In a letter to the country’s football team on Sunday, the Senate commission staffers said only 10.77 percent of the population had received first doses of coronavirus vaccines as of Friday across Brazil.
Hundreds of former leaders urge G7 to vaccinate poor against Covid-19
One hundred former presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers have urged the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations to pay for global coronavirus vaccinations to help stop the virus mutating and returning as a worldwide threat. The leaders made their appeal ahead of a G7 summit in England which begins on Friday, when US President Joe Biden will meet the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan. It's the first time the G7 leaders have met since the start of the pandemic. The three-day summit will cover a range of issues, with a particular focus on how the group can lead the global recovery from coronavirus. In their letter to the G7, the former world leaders said global cooperation had failed in 2020, but that 2021 could usher in a new era.
WHO's Tedros hopes African COVID vaccine sites to near production by end-2021
World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday he hopes African COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing sites will be identified and some even close to producing by the end of 2021, in the race to deliver more shots to the continent. While Tedros did not provide specifics on which country, Reuters has reported that Senegal could begin producing COVID-19 vaccines next year under an agreement with Belgian biotech group Univercells aimed at boosting Africa's drug-manufacturing ambitions.
WHO: High vaccination rates can help reduce risk of variants
A top World Health Organization official estimated Monday that COVID-19 vaccination coverage of at least 80% is needed to significantly lower the risk that “imported” coronavirus cases like those linked to new variants could spawn a cluster or a wider outbreak. Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, told a news conference that ultimately, “high levels of vaccination coverage are the way out of this pandemic.” Many rich countries have been moving to vaccinate teenagers and children — who have lower risk of more dangerous cases of COVID-19 than the elderly or people with comorbidities — even as those same countries face pressure to share vaccines with poorer ones that lack them. Britain, which has vastly reduced case counts thanks to an aggressive vaccination campaign, has seen a recent uptick in cases attributed largely to the so-called delta variant that originally appeared in India — a former British colony.
To the beach! Spain opens borders to tourists, cruise ships
Spain jump-started its summer tourism season on Monday by welcoming vaccinated visitors from most countries as well as European tourists who can prove they are not infected with coronavirus. It also reopened its ports to cruise ships. The move opened borders for the first tourists from the United States and other countries outside of the European Union since those travelers were banned in March last year, when the pandemic hit global travel. Matthew Eisenberg, a 22-year-old student, excitedly stepped out of Madrid airport, ready to enjoy the Spanish capital along with two more American friends.
Afghanistan faces vaccine delay as it battles COVID surge
Afghanistan is battling a brutal surge in COVID-19 infections as health officials plead for vaccines, only to be told by the World Health Organization that the three million doses the country expected to receive by April will not be delivered until August. “We are in the middle of a crisis,” health ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastagir Nazari said this week, expressing deep frustration at the global vaccine distribution that has left poor countries scrambling to find supplies for their people.
Portugal minister says Spain requiring COVID-19 test at border 'a mistake'
Portugal's foreign minister said Spain's decision to require a negative COVID-19 test for people crossing the border must have been an error, Lusa news agency reported on Monday. Portugal had asked Spanish authorities for clarification on "what could only have been a mistake", Portugal's foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva said. "We have asked Spanish authorities for clarification and await it being granted as quickly as possible, because if not we will need to adopt equivalent reciprocal measures," Santos Silva said, adding that "the epidemiological situation in Spain is, at the moment, worse than what we are living in Portugal."
UK minister says Delta variant 40 percent more transmissible
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is estimated to be 40 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant that caused the previous wave of infections in the United Kingdom, Britain’s health minister has said. People who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine should be equally protected against either variant, he added.
As India's surge wanes, families deal with the devastation 9 hours ago
Two months ago Radha Gobindo Pramanik and his wife threw a party to celebrate their daughter’s pregnancy and the upcoming birth of their long-awaited grandchild. They were so happy that they paid little attention to his wife’s cough. It’s an oversight that may forever haunt him. Within days, his wife, his daughter and his unborn grandchild were all dead, among the tens of thousands killed as the coronavirus ravaged India in April and May. “Everyone whom I loved the most has left me,” the 71-year-old said on a recent night as a Hindu priest chanted mantras and performed a ritual for the dead at his home in the northern city of Lucknow. “I am left alone in this world now.” As India emerges from its darkest days of the pandemic, families across the country are grieving all that they’ve lost and are left wondering if more could have been done to avoid this tragedy.
Coronavirus vaccine passports can free public, claims Tony Blair
Ministers need to start rolling out vaccine passports to allow the UK to “sustainably reopen the economy”, Tony Blair said yesterday. The former prime minister said it was “vital” the UK had an alternative “to the blunt tool of lockdowns” to enable people to “live freely and safely” in the face of further outbreaks. Blair said the EU was preparing to welcome those who had been given both jabs, signalling that a two-tier system of rights is going to come into force internationally anyway. Asked on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show whether that would create a “discriminatory” two-tier society, he said it was impossible to avoid. “The word discrimination has a very loaded meaning now but really when it comes to risk-management, it is all about discrimination,” he said
Norway shortens interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses
Norway will shorten the interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses to nine weeks from the current 12 weeks, thus speeding up the inoculation process, the health ministry said on Monday. "We'll have ample supply of vaccines in the time ahead," Health Minister Bent Hoeie said in a statement. Norway uses vaccines made by Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) as well as the Pfizer/BioNTech (PFE.N) partnership, each requiring two injections. "Reducing the dose interval is part of the Institute of Public Health's strategy to ensure that the population is fully vaccinated as quickly as possible," the ministry said
First Slovaks get Sputnik V shots after months of wrangling
Slovakia became the European Union's second country to start inoculating people with the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine on Monday, after months of rows over the shot that has yet to be approved by European regulators. Then-Prime Minister Igor Matovic bought Sputnik V in March, saying it would speed up vaccination efforts. The country of 5.5 million bought 200,000 doses and intended to buy 2 million. The launch of vaccinations was delayed, however, amid a political crisis that erupted because Matovic had done the deal without consulting his coalition partners, who opposed using the vaccine before it had EU approval
Thais debut locally made AstraZeneca but supplies are tight
Health authorities in Thailand began their much-anticipated mass rollout of locally produced AstraZeneca vaccines on Monday, but it appeared that supplies were falling short of demand from patients who had scheduled vaccinations for this week. Hospitals in various parts of the country have been posting notices for several days that some scheduled appointments would be delayed, adding to existing public skepticism about how many doses Siam Bioscience would be able to produce each month. The government has said it will produce 6 million doses in June, then 10 million doses each month from July to November, and 5 million doses in December.
Under-30s queueing up in hope of leftover Covid-19 vaccines
Impatient, worried their friends are likely to infect them and not keen on quarantine after holidays this summer, Generation-Z are hunting for leftover vaccines. “The young people are incredible,” said a vaccination centre administrator at the Francis Crick Institute in central London. Some are so keen they not only give their telephone number and name “but also are, like, ‘have my Instagram details and my Facebook details’”. The NHS in England is vaccinating only over-30s, health or social care workers or the clinically vulnerable as standard. However, after a mass centre in Twickenham on Monday offered doses to any adult if they arrived that evening, there have been reports the government is considering offering the jab to all over-18s straight away. Department of Health sources have told The Times this is not being considered.
Cupid’s needle? UK under-30s wooed with dating app vaccine bonus
First came the idea of making Covid vaccinations mandatory to go to the pub, while Israel offered free pizza and beer with a shot. Now UK officials have hit on what they hope is an even more persuasive reason for young people to get their jab: more chance of getting a date. In an eye-catching policy coinciding with the rollout of vaccinations for the under-30s beginning this week, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has teamed up with popular dating apps to encourage take-up of the programme. Users of Tinder, Match, Hinge, Bumble, Badoo, Plenty of Fish, OurTime and Muzmatch will enjoy a series of benefits if they add their vaccination status to their profile, including virtual badges and stickers.
American expats push for access to coronavirus vaccines, raising questions about international equity
The United States is one of the small number of countries where coronavirus vaccinations are widely available. “All over the world people are desperate to get a shot that every American can get at their neighborhood drugstore,” President Biden said on Wednesday. But one group of Americans feels left behind: expatriates. “We pay taxes, we vote, why shouldn’t we have a vaccine?” asked Loran Davidson, an American living in Thailand. So far, the request has been denied. “We have not historically provided private health care for Americans living overseas, so that remains our policy,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last month.
78 percent of unvaccinated Americans unlikely to change their minds: Gallup
More than 3 in 4 Americans who have yet to receive a coronavirus vaccine say it is unlikely they ever will, according to a new poll. Among U.S. adults who do not plan to be vaccinated, 78 percent said in a Gallup poll released Monday they are unlikely to reconsider their plans. Roughly half — 51 percent — indicated they are "not likely at all" to change their mind and get vaccinated. Overall, just 1 in 5 vaccine-reluctant adults said they are open to reconsidering, with 2 percent saying they are "very likely" and 19 percent saying they are "somewhat likely" to ever get inoculated.
WHO says can’t force China to give more info on COVID origins
A top World Health Organization official has said the WHO cannot compel China to divulge more data on the origins of COVID-19, while adding it will propose studies needed to take understanding of where the virus emerged to the “next level”. Asked by a reporter how the WHO will “compel” China to be more open, Mike Ryan, director of the agency’s emergencies programme, said at a news conference that the “WHO doesn’t have the power to compel anyone in this regard.”
“Fauci Gate” and what his emails tell us about Covid-19 and American politics
In February and early March of 2020, anything Covid-19-related was unclear even to health professionals, and a leading line of discourse was that Americans should not wear masks because they weren’t thought to be effective in screening out viral particles shed by others. While that information continues to be believed accurate — except in the case of hospital-grade masks, the N95 and KN95 face mask respirators, which have a much higher efficacy — it was eventually found that encouraging everyone to wear masks helped to prevent the actively infected from spreading the shed viral particles as easily to others. There was also an effort to keep the panic-driven public from buying all available masks and putting health care workers at risk of running out of supplies. In an interview on June 12 with The Street, Fauci said, “the public health community — and many people were saying this — were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.” During a June 3 CNN interview addressing the emails, Fauci reiterated that if he had all the information he had today, his advice from early in the pandemic would be drastically different, and that masks do in fact work. But it doesn’t look like Fauci’s explanation will ease the backlash. After a year and a half of anti-mask protests, it’s being treated as an “I told you so” moment for conservative Americans, and they are making the most of it.
COVID-19 misinformation was mainly spread online by bots in Facebook groups, study finds
Bot accounts used Facebook groups to quickly and massively distribute misinformation, a new study claims. Researchers looked at posts about a Danish study that found inconclusive data as to whether or not wearing a mask reduced transmission of COVID-19. Bot-created posts misinterpreted the findings and claimed masks were harmful to their wearer - a conclusion that never appears in the research. Not all public health experts agree that Facebook and other social media platforms should 'censor' misinformation
Underlying illness, respiratory infection raise risk for severe COVID in kids
Type 1 diabetes, obesity, heart problems - In the first study, published today in JAMA Network Open, researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used the Premier Healthcare Database Special COVID-19 Release, which houses data from 872 hospitals, to study 43,465 patients 18 and younger who visited an emergency department or were hospitalized for severe COVID-19 from March 2020 to January 2021.
Would you have your DNA tested to predict how hard COVID-19 would strike? Should you?
For people not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 or still nervous about venturing into crowds, the sales pitch may be alluring: Drool into a tube to provide your DNA and mail it off to see how likely you are to be among the 10% to 15% of people who will end up in the hospital or die from a SARS-CoV-2 infection. That’s the promise of a test an Australian company launched last week in the United States. It combines genetic data with someone’s age, sex, and preexisting medical conditions to predict their risk of becoming extremely ill from COVID-19. The $175 test is based on genetic markers linked to severe COVID-19, along with other risk factors, and the company says it developed its predictions using data on thousands of COVID-19 patients in the United Kingdom. It may be a forerunner of similar risk tests: An academic team has recently detailed a simpler genetic test to help determine how aggressively some people infected with SARS-CoV-2 should be treated.
A different kind of COVID-19 vaccine is coming, and it could be 'even more protective'
A COVID-19 vaccine different from those made by Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer could be available to Americans "as soon as this summer," NPR reported on Sunday. The three vaccines currently authorized for use in the USA
Egypt to start local production of Sinovac vaccine mid-June- minister
Egypt received 500,000 doses of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine on monday, airport sources said, as the health ministry said local production of the Chinese vaccine will start in mid-June. Egypt received raw materials for the production of two million Sinovac doses in May, after signing an agreement to produce the vaccine locally and distribute it in Egypt and other African countries. The first vials are due to be produced on June 15 and up to six weeks will be needed for checks before they are put to use in vaccination centres, Health Minister Hala Zayed told the private MBC Masr TV channel late on Sunday.
India battles deadly child illness that strikes during Coronavirus recovery
First it was black fungus, then white fungus, then yellow — all rare infections which are causing havoc in adult patients recovering from coronavirus. As India grapples with the eruption of strange Covid-related complications, doctors are now alarmed at a sharp escalation in a life-threatening condition in children recovering from the illness. Last year only three patients with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) were reported but in the second wave more children have caught the virus, leading to more cases. The syndrome catches parents unawares two to six weeks after the Covid infection when they are usually relieved at their child’s recovery. More than 2,000 cases have been recorded across the country, mostly affecting children aged between 5 and 15.
With Covid-19, as with HIV, science and partnerships with communities lead the way
Like so many of her generation, Josephine Nabukenya wasn’t aware of her HIV status during her early childhood in Uganda. But when she was 8 years old, she came across a letter written by her mother that revealed the devastating news: Josephine and her mother and father were all living with HIV. Josephine was HIV-positive at birth. Now a 27-year-old youth worker at the Makerere University Johns Hopkins University Research Collaboration in Kampala, Uganda, Josephine is one of the hundreds of thousands of children who belong to a generation born HIV-positive but who are alive today due to the power of antiretroviral medication — and political activism.
J&J vaccine drive stalls out in U.S after safety pause
Safety concerns about Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine along with overall flagging demand for vaccinations have slowed its U.S. rollout to a crawl, leaving close to half of the 21 million doses produced for the United States sitting unused. J&J’s vaccine was supposed to be an important tool for reaching rural areas and vaccine hesitant Americans because it requires only one shot and has less stringent storage requirements than the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer Inc, BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc
EMA highlights guidance not to use heparin for COVID-19 vaccine-linked clots
The European Medicines Agency on Monday pushed guidance for doctors not to use the blood thinner heparin to treat rare blood clots and low blood platelets in people who got AstraZeneca's or Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 shots. Europe's drugs regulator, seeking to ensure proper treatment, highlighted the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis interim guidance. In April, the ISTH concluded "management should be initiated with non-heparin anticoagulation upon suspicion" of vaccine-linked clotting and low platelets.
Swapping vaccines may be beneficial against Covid-19, German study suggests
Taking the AstraZeneca jab and then having the Pfizer shot ten weeks later could result in stronger immunity than sticking with the same vaccine for both doses, a German study suggests. The experiment is one of the first to indicate that swapping vaccines may be not only safe and effective but potentially beneficial. However, the research is still in its early days and much remains to be learnt about how various combinations work. There has been much speculation that patients who receive two vaccines based on separate underlying technologies might acquire better protection against Covid-19. This is because the vaccines elicit different forms of immune response from the body.
Still unclear whether teenagers need a Covid-19 jab – JCVI member
It is not yet clear whether children aged 12 and over should get the Coivd-19 vaccine, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said. Professor Adam Finn, who is part of the body which advises the Government on vaccines, said that if enough immunity was built up through the adult vaccination programme then vaccinating children may not be justified. But another public health expert argued that the UK should follow the US and Israel and begin to vaccinate children to prevent outbreaks in schools. Professor Devi Sridhar said that youngsters should be vaccinated over the summer to ensure that schools can return to normal in the autumn and prevent further periods of home learning.
Where nursing home staff vaccinations lag, COVID-19 outbreaks may follow, experts warn
When 28 residents in two Rochester, New York, nursing homes tested positive for COVID-19 last month, officials there saw the unexpected outbreak as a stark reminder of the potency of the coronavirus vaccine. While much of the country was lining up for shots, by early May, fewer than 45% of the staff across Rochester Regional Health's skilled nursing facilities was fully vaccinated.
PH approves Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use
The Philippines has approved for emergency use the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China state-owned Sinopharm, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Monday. In a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said they have already authorized the Department of Health (DOH) to accept Sinopharm COVID-19 shots. “So ito po ay tinignan na rin ng ating mga experts at ang ating pong evaluation sa FDA, today, we already granted an emergency use authorization [EUA] to the DOH to accept the donations of Sinopharm,” Domingo said.
MHRA authorises Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds
The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has extended the authorisation of Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15 years old. On Friday, the MHRA announced that it had concluded that the jab is safe and effectiveness in the younger age group,
‘Another wave appearing’ in UK, says former chief scientific adviser Sir David King
The current Covid figures are “evidence of another wave appearing,” the former chief scientific adviser to the Government and chairman of the Independent Sage Group has said. Sir David King told Sky News there had been discussions about “whether or not we're going into a serious third wave and I don't think we can possibly wait any longer”. "This is the evidence of another wave appearing." He pointed to the UK reporting 5,341 new Covid cases on Sunday up by around 2,000 from last week. On Saturday, government data showed that Covid cases were up 70 per cent in a week.
Taiwan to quarantine workers to control COVID spike at tech firm
All foreign workers at a plant of major Taiwanese chip packager King Yuan Electronics in Taiwan's northern city of Miaoli will be quarantined as health workers try to stop an outbreak of COVID-19 there, the government said on Sunday.
Indonesia reinforces hospitals amid worrying COVID-19 surge in some areas
Indonesian authorities have drafted in more doctors and nurses to two areas on the islands of Java and Madura after hospitals there approached full capacity amid a spike in coronavirus cases, the country's health minister said on Monday. Health experts and officials are worried about the risk of a broader spike in virus cases fuelled by variants and a jump in travel last month as many in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country travelled back to hometowns for holidays after Ramadan.
Uganda re-imposes lockdown to beat back COVID-19 case surge
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday re-imposed a strict lockdown that included the closure of schools and the suspension of inter-district travel to help beat back a surge in COVID-19 cases in the East African country. The new measures, which will be effective from Monday morning, include the closure of all educational institutions, some bans on travel, the shutdown of weekly open markets, and the suspension of church services. Most of the new restrictions, Museveni said, would be implemented for 42 days. An assessment of their impact will then help the government decide whether to ease or prolong them, he added.
Vodka, no patents: How cheapest jab was made
We were promised vaccines “cheaper than a bottle of water” last year but, depending on who's buying, a COVID shot now costs anywhere from the price of a small pizza to a meal-for-four. So, the news that India has pre-ordered 30 crore doses of a new vaccine for Rs 1,500 crore is comforting. At Rs a shot, Biological E's Corbevax may not be 'a bottle of water,' but it costs only half as much as a litre of petrol. And while the market price could be higher, TOI reported on Saturday it's unlikely to be more than Rs 250 a shot, making it the cheapest vaccine by a fair margin.