"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 12th Aug 2021
Delta COVID-19 strain is still troubling 'world's most vaccinated country'
- The surge in COVID-19 cases in Iceland, where nearly all the tiny country's population is vaccinated, holds lessons for countries like Australia, an infectious disease expert says.
- Iceland has one of the highest vaccination rate in the world, with 96% of women and 90% of men aged 16 or older having had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.
- A total of 86% of the country's population has been inoculated. But after Iceland relaxed restrictions in June, cases of the Delta variant are now soaring, local media reports.
- Sanjaya Senanayake, from the Australian National University Medical School in Camberra, told nine.com.au Australian health officials should be monitoring Iceland's developments. 'It is interesting and we should be watching closely and learning from it,' Professor Senanayake said.
- From having only two active COVID-19 cases a month ago, Iceland now has more than 1,590, with about 20 requiring hospital treatment, local media reports.
- Professor Senanayake said the Iceland experience suggested vaccination rates should reach at least 80-85% before restrictions start to be lifted, and even then some restrictions may have to remain.
- 'Less than 80 to 85% vaccination could still pose a dangerous situation,' he said. 'Even after we achieve the 80% vaccination rate we may have to consider keeping measures such as mask wearing and QR codes, at least in the short term.'
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged a 70% vaccination rate as a target for Australia to begin easing restrictions.
- Professor Senanayake concluded 'the recent rise in Icelandic cases seems to be children aged 12-15 who have yet to be vaccinated.'
9News.com.au 11 August, 2021
Delta COVID-19 strain still troubling 'world's most vaccinated country'
The surge in COVID-19 cases in Iceland - where nearly all the tiny country's population is vaccinated - holds lessons for countries like Australia, an infectious disease expert says. Iceland has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 96 per cent of women and 90 per cent of men aged 16 or older having had at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. A total of of 86 per cent of the country's 357,000 population has been inoculated.
UK orders extra Covid vaccines for autumn 2022 booster campaign
Ministers have started ordering vaccines for a booster campaign in autumn 2022, with Pfizer reportedly being asked to supply the UK with a further 35m doses. The government has still not give the final go-ahead for the vaccine booster programme expected this autumn, but it is understood to have placed the order with Pfizer despite the company raising its prices. According to a report in the Times, the government is paying £22 a dose – compared with an earlier price of £18 a dose – because global demand is pushing up prices. The EU has signed a contract with Pfizer to buy 900m doses, with an option to buy the same amount again.
WHO calls for world leaders and pharmaceutical chiefs to end 'disgraceful' global vaccine inequality
WHO's Bruce Aylward said the world should be "disgusted" with the imbalance in available tools to fight the pandemic and appealed to the wealthiest nations to focus on helping all countries vaccinate at least 10% of their populations by September. Only 1.1% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, due to a lack of supplies. "I can't help but think: if we had tried to withhold vaccines from parts of the world, could we have made it any worse than it is today?" Aylward, senior adviser to the WHO director-general and head of the ACT Accelerator initiative, which is aimed at providing pandemic resources to developing countries.
Get vaccinated or face weekly Covid tests, California teachers and staff told
California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly Covid testing, as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday. Newsom announced the new policy at a San Francisco Bay Area school that reopened earlier this week to in-person classes. Many California schools are back in session, with others starting in the coming weeks.
FDA expected to authorize Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for some immunocompromised people within the next 48 hours
The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce within the next 48 hours that it is authorizing Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for some people who are immunocompromised, according to a source familiar with the discussions. This would be a third shot of the current two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. That announcement could slide, the source cautioned, but this is the current timing. "The FDA is closely monitoring data as it becomes available from studies administering an additional dose of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines to immunocompromised individuals," an FDA spokesperson told CNN. "The agency, along with the CDC, is evaluating potential options on this issue, and will share information in the near future."
Merkel to Germans: Get your COVID-19 vaccine, or pay up
Germany will expand COVID-19 testing requirements for non-vaccinated people and end free tests to prod more residents to roll up their sleeves. Starting later this month, negative results will be required for people who haven’t been inoculated or can show they’ve recovered from the disease to eat in restaurants, go to the hairdresser and attend sporting events. The government will no longer pay for antigen tests as of Oct. 11. “Immunization rates have slowed considerably,” and getting vaccinated is a contribution that everyone can make, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday after talks with premiers of the country’s 16 states. “We want to avoid hard measures as much as possible.”
Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine recipients worry they chose the wrong brand
New research offers encouraging evidence about how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine stacks up against its competitors — and the delta variant — according to infectious-disease specialists. However, there are still lingering questions about booster shots. Earlier clinical trials showed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 66 percent effective overall in preventing moderate to severe disease four weeks after the shot, with effectiveness varying depending on location. Its competitors from Pfizer and Moderna, on the other hand, recorded 90 percent-plus effectiveness against the coronavirus. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, has said all three vaccines are effective. Vaccine experts cautioned recipients against comparing vaccines, saying the numbers didn’t tell the full scope of what was measured, but the memory of that lower number still lingers in the minds of Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients
COVID-19: 'Vaccine lottery' in Ohio offering millions in cash prizes ensured 82,000 people got coronavirus jab, says economist
A "vaccine lottery" that offered millions of dollars in cash prizes and free university scholarships ensured 82,000 vaccine-hesitant Ohio residents came forward for their first jab, an economist has claimed. The "Vax-A-Million" scheme awarded five prizes of one million dollars, and five young people a full scholarship to any public college or university in Ohio. PhD student Andrew Barber and assistant professor of economics Jeremy West, both from the University of California, published a working paper that claimed to show "in short, the lottery worked".
Health experts demand global vaccination campaign to end pandemic
More than 175 public health experts, scientists and activists on Tuesday demanded that President Biden take urgent steps to confront the global spread of the coronavirus, warning that without immediate action to inoculate the rest of the world, newer variants are likely to emerge — including ones that may evade vaccines’ protection. “We urge you to act now,” the experts wrote in a joint letter to senior White House officials Tuesday and shared with The Washington Post. “Announcing within the next 30 days an ambitious global vaccine manufacturing program is the only way to control this pandemic, protect the precious gains made to date, and build vaccine infrastructure for the future.”
CDC urges COVID vaccines during pregnancy as delta surges
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all pregnant women Wednesday to get the COVID-19 vaccine as hospitals in hot spots around the U.S. see disturbing numbers of unvaccinated mothers-to-be seriously ill with the virus. Expectant women run a higher risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications from the coronavirus, including perhaps miscarriages and stillbirths. But their vaccination rates are low, with only about 23% having received at least one dose, according to CDC data. “The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said
French vaccination centres vandalised as health pass is introduced
Vandals have attacked more than 20 vaccination centres and other health facilities, daubing some with Nazi-themed slogans, as the French government steps up its COVID-19 vaccination drive. Anger has been fueled by the introduction of a health pass showing proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test which is now mandatory for entering restaurants, trains and other public places.
Fictitious Swiss scientist entangles China media’s COVID coverage
Major state media outlets in China have scrubbed references to a Swiss scientist from their news articles after it was revealed that the expert is a fictitious character whose statements about the COVID-19 pandemic investigation were falsified. The supposed biologist, identified as Wilson Edwards, wrote a post in July on Facebook criticising the United States position on the World Health Organization (WHO) probe in China.
A WHO official on why we need a global tech strategy to fight vaccine misinformation
The creation of effective vaccines has offered a lifeline in one of the worst pandemics in world history. But targeted use of technology to support vaccination and combat the spread of false information will prove crucial to putting it more squarely in the rearview mirror. To drive that point home, Hans Kluge, Europe region director of the WHO, visited the conference of the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in Las Vegas on Tuesday to discuss the pressing need for global strategies to fight misinformation and leverage AI to identify — and swiftly assist — communities with low vaccination rates. “Too many policy decisions are still being made based on assumptions and perceptions,” said Kluge, who established a WHO unit focused on behavioral and cultural insights to understand the drivers of vaccine hesitancy and develop programs to counteract it. “Increased digital literacy, and trustworthy information sources, save lives. This is so important.”
Ukraine extends COVID restrictions until Oct. 1 as cases rise
Ukraine has extended a state of emergency that allows regional authorities to impose COVID-19 restrictions for a further month until Oct. 1 to tackle a surge in infections from the rapidly spreading Delta variant, the prime minister said on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, experts are beginning to register the first negative trends in terms of hospitalisation of those seriously ill, therefore the government is adopting a decree to extend the state of emergency and adaptive lockdown until Oct. 1," premier Denys Shmygal said during a televised weekly cabinet meeting.
Volunteers in Vietnam come to the rescue as coronavirus lockdown hits the vulnerable
Vietnam’s strict lockdown to curb its fourth wave of Covid-19 infections has left many unable to work, go out to get food, or even get oxygen. Individuals and up to 90 community groups and organisations have stepped in where authorities fell short, but their efforts are not always coordinated.
Leading expert says Covid-19 herd immunity is 'not a possibility'
It will not be possible to reach herd immunity from Covid and booster jabs may not be necessary according to one of the UK's leading experts. This analysis came from Sir Andrew Pollard who is a professor of paediatric infection and immunity and the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group. He also chairs the the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). He told the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus on Tuesday that we would probably never get true herd immunity in the UK with the current vaccines. He said: "The problem with this virus is [it is] not measles. If 95% of people were vaccinated against measles, the virus cannot transmit in the population
EU regulator looking at new possible side-effects of mRNA COVID-19 shots
Three new conditions reported by a small number of people after vaccination with COVID-19 shots from Pfizer and Moderna are being studied to assess if they may be possible side-effects, Europe's drugs regulator said on Wednesday. Erythema multiforme, a form of allergic skin reaction; glomerulonephritis or kidney inflammation; and nephrotic syndrome, a renal disorder characterised by heavy urinary protein losses, are being studied by the safety committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), according to the regulator.
Covid-19: British group SAGE’s report suggests variants may challenge pandemic strategies
A British government advisory group has predicted a future in which Covid-19 will always be around, and recommends that authorities plan ahead for a more deadly variant or one that eludes vaccine protection. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) predicted that future variants could be resistant to vaccines by using a different spike protein to bind to human cells. Many Covid-19 vaccines work by recognising the spike protein, according to a report by the group published on July 26.
Human trials for nasal spray coronavirus vaccine to begin in Thailand
Two nasal spray coronavirus vaccines developed in Thailand are set to begin human trials by the end of 2021. The vaccines based on the adenovirus and influenza are being developed by the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Roughly 6 percent of the country is fully vaccinated.
CDC recommends that pregnant women get COVID-19 vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday that pregnant women should receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Previously, the agency said that pregnant women were “eligible” for the vaccine. The CDC based its update on new research finding that there is no increased risk of miscarriages for pregnant women who receive an mRNA vaccine early in a pregnancy. For women receiving it late in pregnancy, the CDC found no safety concern for women or their unborn children.
COVID cases could have been prevented by better ventilation, says leading aerosol scientist
Schools, shopping centres and restaurants have become the epicentres of Victoria’s dangerous Delta clusters, but a respected aerosol scientist says some of this spread could have been prevented with improved ventilation of classrooms and public venues. As Melbourne’s sixth lockdown looks set to be extended beyond Thursday, Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska said carbon dioxide monitors should join QR codes and masks as standard measures used by business to help stop or reduce the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks.
The Lancaster University Covid vaccine which could be given up your nose
Scientists in Lancashire have taken a big step towards creating a new coronavirus vaccine. Lancaster University professors say they are making headway with a new intranasal Covid vaccine, an alternative option to the jabs currently administered by the NHS. Whatsmore, the preclinical animal trials of the new vaccine have shown a reduction in both the impact of the disease itself and transmission of the virus; meaning that the new drug could reduce the spread of Covid.
In A Small Study, A Booster Vaccine Protects Against COVID-19 Variants
The results of a new study from the United Kingdom’s University of Nottingham suggest that single booster shots of Pfizer’s two-dose Covid-19 vaccine can help ward off infection by at least some of the dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2, which is the Covid-19 virus. In the study, the booster proved especially effective in people who, prior to being vaccinated, had contracted Covid-19 and survived the infection. This may be because natural infection coupled with three doses of vaccine provided a total of four exposures to the virus’ spike protein.
Study showing antibody levels protecting against COVID-19 could speed creation of new vaccines, boosters
Eagerly anticipated new research pinpoints antibodies scientists can test for to see if a COVID-19 vaccine is effective. These "correlates of protection" could speed the development of new vaccines or boosters without requiring the enormous clinical trials used to create the first COVID-19 vaccines. Instead, researchers could vaccinate people with a new vaccine or booster, measure their antibodies over the course of several months, and know if it worked. This is "the Holy Grail" in terms of vaccines, and one that hasn't yet been set for the virus that causes COVID-19, said Peter Gilbert, co-author of the study posted Tuesday to medRxiv, a preprint site where scientific articles can be published prior to being accepted by peer-reviewed journals.
Studies detail COVID childbirth, breastmilk vaccine antibodies
In line with previous research, two studies published today in JAMA Network Open suggested that pregnant women infected with COVID-19 are more likely to have negative outcomes including death, and that vaccine-produced SARS-CoV-2 antibodies are present in breastmilk. Both implications help support the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's announcement today that all pregnant people, or those thinking of becoming pregnant, should get vaccinated. "The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant [B1617.2] and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, in a CDC press release.
Pfizer, Moderna COVID vaccines face new safety probe in Europe over possible link to skin condition, 2 kidney disorders
Compared to the problems encountered by makers of adenovirus COVID-19 vaccines, it’s been a relative cakewalk for the overwhelmingly successful mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. But on Wednesday, Europe’s drug regulator revealed that it is investigating a possible link between mRNA vaccines and new conditions reported by a few recipients of the shots. The European Medicines Agency is trying to determine if the mRNA shots can trigger an allergic skin reaction called erythema multiforme or two kidney disorders. It has requested additional data from Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna.
Older teenagers seriously ill with Covid-19 ‘led to vaccine rollout extension’
The number of 16 and 17-year-olds becoming “seriously ill” with coronavirus informed the extension of the vaccination rollout to that age group, a member of the committee advising on jabs said. Professor Adam Finn, who sits on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and is a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said there had been “a couple” of 17-year-olds in that area who needed intensive care in hospital in recent weeks. He said while most young people will only have the virus in a mild form, the vaccines will be effective at preventing serious cases.
COVID-19: UK records 23,510 new coronavirus cases and 146 more deaths, daily figures show
The UK has recorded 23,510 new COVID-19 cases and 146 more coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period, according to government data. The figures compare with 25,161 infections and 37 fatalities reported on Monday, while last Tuesday 21,691 cases and 138 deaths were announced. The number deaths reported today is the highest daily total since 175 were recorded on 12 March.
Senegal's ambulance teams struggle amid a wave of COVID-19
The paramedics get the urgent call at 10:30 p.m.: A 25-year-old woman, eight months pregnant and likely suffering from COVID-19, is now having serious trouble breathing. Yahya Niane grabs two small oxygen cylinders and heads to the ambulance with his team. Upon arrival, they find the young woman's worried father waving an envelope in front of her mouth, a desperate effort to send more air her way. Her situation is dire: Niane says Binta Ba needs to undergo a cesarean section right away if they are to save her and the baby. But first they must find a hospital that can take her.
'No doubt' Canada now in 4th wave of COVID-19 as cases spike across much of the country
With COVID-19 cases rising in multiple provinces after a summer lull, more signs point to Canada entering an expected fourth wave of the pandemic — one which could be dramatically different from earlier surges, thanks to rising vaccination rates, but not entirely pain-free. The country's seven-day average for new daily cases is now close to 1,300 — an increase of nearly 60 per cent over the previous week, with cases ticking back up mainly in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. "We're absolutely in the fourth wave," said Dr. Peter Juni, who is the scientific director of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. "There's no doubt about that."
Myanmar reports 3,739 new COVID-19 cases, 218 more deaths
Myanmar reported 3,739 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally in the country to 341,300 on Wednesday, according to a release from the Ministry of Health. A total of 218 more deaths were reported, bringing the death toll to 12,452 as of Wednesday, the release said. According to the ministry's figures, a total of 256,671 patients have been discharged from the hospitals and over 3.29 million samples have been tested for COVID-19 so far. The Chinese embassy in Myanmar on Wednesday donated 30,000 masks for the staff of the Customs Department in Yangon, according to the embassy's release.
Americas and Asia drive rising global COVID-19 cases
With the world well into its third surge, COVID-19 cases rose last week for the seventh week in a row, led by spikes in the Americas and Western Pacific regions, with deaths up sharply in the latter, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its weekly snapshot of the pandemic. In other developments, the WHO announced the next phase of the Solidarity treatment trial, which will evaluate three already existing drugs.
South Korea's daily COVID-19 cases top 2200, hit record
South Korea reported more than 2,200 new daily COVID-19 cases, a record since the pandemic began last January, Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said on Wednesday, as the country grapples with its most severe coronavirus outbreak. Despite having distancing measures in place for over a month, infections have spiked due to the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and a rise in domestic travel over summer, Kwon told a COVID response meeting.