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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 9th May 2022

Lockdown Exit
China Rejects Its Exclusion From WTO Vaccine Waiver Proposal
China objected to a key provision of a World Trade Organization proposal to waive intellectual-property rights for Covid-19 vaccines that Beijing said would discourage shipments of doses to poorer nations. The development may complicate the WTO’s multi-year effort to reach an agreement to help speed production of vaccines in the developing world by permitting certain countries to authorize the use of Covid-19 jabs without the consent of the holders of the patent rights. China’s opposition is problematic because WTO agreements require support from all 164 members, meaning any one government can block the adoption of a vaccine IP waiver for any reason.
War in Europe and China’s Battle With Covid Boost U.S.’s Business Appeal
European businesses are stepping up U.S. investment as executives search for growth and stability amid turbulence caused by the war in Ukraine and tough Covid-19 lockdowns in China. The U.S. economy has emerged strong from the pandemic, while Europe’s recovery prospects have been cast into doubt by the Ukraine war. Plus Beijing's stringent zero-Covid policy and regulatory crackdowns on technology companies and debt problems at large real estate businesses have raised questions about its commitment to economic growth. Exposure to the Chinese market has provided enormous growth and profits for European companies over the past decades. Few European executives are considering a wholesale withdrawal from China, but as its economy creaks, businesses are rethinking their investment strategies.
Omicron’s Trajectory Shows Challenge of Maintaining Immune Defenses
New Omicron subvariants are proliferating even in the face of significant protection from vaccinations and prior infection, as policy makers consider measures including open-ended vaccination drives to keep the evolving virus at bay. Much of the U.S. population already had some level of antibodies to the virus when Omicron hit late last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. That likely shielded many from more-severe disease, but the variant still fueled a record case surge and the second-highest peak in Covid-19 deaths. Immune defenses bolstered by the massive wave appear to be muting the impact of the yet-more-infectious Omicron variants even as cases and hospitalizations increase once again.
Covid in Africa: Why the continent's only vaccine plant is struggling
Some experts blame concerns over the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccines for the slow uptake in many African countries. However others argue that after struggling to get vaccines, Africa experienced a glut of supply which was difficult to use in the required time,
14.9 million excess deaths associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021
New estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic (described as “excess mortality”) between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million). “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.” Excess mortality is calculated as the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years.
Pent-up demand prompts European travel recovery as COVID curbs ease
"There is a lot of pent-up demand. People want to see their families and travel again," said Phil Seymour, president of IBA Group, a UK-based consultancy and aircraft valuation firm. That echoes soaring domestic demand in the United States. "The big overlay is that air travel demand is back and it is back in a massive way," Sean Egan, Chief Executive of the Egan-Jones Ratings Company, told the Airfinance Journal conference. Challenges remain in the form of rising costs and staff shortages causing flights to be cancelled. Some airlines have promised more than they can deliver this summer, delegates warned.
China Premier Warns of 'Grave' Jobs Situation as Lockdowns Bite
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned of a “complicated and grave” employment situation as Beijing and Shanghai tightened curbs on residents in a bid to contain Covid outbreaks in the country’s most important cities. Li instructed all government departments and regions to prioritize measures aimed at helping businesses retain jobs and weather the current difficulties, according to a late Saturday statement, which cited the premier’s comments in a nationwide teleconference on employment. “Stabilizing employment matters to people’s livelihoods, it is also a key support for the economy to operate within a reasonable range,” Li said,
Wisconsin is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and cases
The state is experiencing an uptick in new reported deaths, hospitalizations and cases as new data analysis shows that this is not just a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The pandemic’s toll is no longer falling almost exclusively on those who chose not to or could not get shots, a Washington Post analysis that was published late last month found. During the omicron variant surge, the vaccinated made up 42% of deaths in January and February, compared with 23% of the dead in September, the peak of the delta wave, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Exit Strategies
CT has 12,000 free Paxlovid doses to treat COVID, but few people are taking it. Here’s why
Connecticut has many thousands of doses of free COVID antivirals available. But few patients are being prescribed the drugs. Approved earlier this year under an emergency-use authorization, Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Moderna’s molnupiravir are the first outpatient therapeutics available to fight COVID, according to state Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani. “So far, all the treatments that we've had, and that have evolved over the last two years have been things that you need to be in the hospital to receive,” she said. “This is the first advance that we have, that is an oral medication, that people can go to a pharmacy and can pick it up.”
Chaos at Apple supplier Quanta shows strains of Shanghai COVID lockdown
Quanta Shanghai Manufacturing City would seem like an ideal site to implement China's "closed-loop" management system to prevent the spread of COVID that requires staff to live and work on-site in a secure bubble. Sprawled over land the size of 20 football fields, the campus houses factories, living quarters for 40,000 workers, some living 12 per room, and even a supermarket. But as COVID-19 breeched Quanta's defences, the system broke down into chaos on Thursday.
Shanghai tightens lockdown to hit zero-COVID goal by late May
Shanghai is tightening its already strict COVID-19 lockdown in a fresh push to eliminate infections outside quarantined areas of China's biggest city by late this month, people familiar with the matter said. Curbs will likely vary across the city's 16 districts as some have already hit the target, but the people said movement curbs will generally remain until the end of May due to fears of a rebound, despite recently falling case numbers in the country's worst coronavirus outbreak. Accounts from residents in several districts as well as social media posts showed the government of the city of 25 million accelerating and expanding an effort to transfer the close contacts of positive cases to central quarantines centres.
Beijing kicks off fresh round of COVID tests as Shanghai postpones crucial exams
China's capital Beijing kicked off a fresh round of mass testing for COVID-19 on Saturday and shut more bus routes and metro stations, as it seeks to avert the fate of Shanghai, where millions of residents have been locked down for over a month. The draconian movement curbs on Shanghai, an economic and financial hub, have caused frustration among its 25 million residents and triggered rare protests over issues such as access to food and medical care, loss of income and crowded as well as unsanitary conditions at central quarantine centres.
Universities Have Returned in Person, But Some Disabled Students Don't Want to Go Back
Mya Pol said it takes her about 30 minutes to get from her dorm at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to her communications class. The trip across campus would take most of her peers less than half that time, she said. Ms. Pol, a 21-year-old senior communications major, uses a wheelchair. She said that every day she wonders how different her college experience would have been if she could have attended classes remotely, as she has during most of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Disabled people have been asking for remote access to work and education forever,” Ms. Pol said. “That sprung up pretty quickly with Covid and was fantastic. It created a lot more access for individuals who couldn’t make the class.”
Beijing District Shuts Gyms, Movie Theaters to Halt Covid Spread
A key district in China’s capital has ordered some businesses providing non-essential services such as gyms and movie theaters to close to prevent the spread of Covid infections after President Xi Jinping reaffirmed his stringent Covid Zero policy. Beijing’s eastern Chaoyang district, home to embassies and offices of multinationals including Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., ordered companies “providing services other than those supporting residents’ livelihoods” to be closed until further notice, an official said at a briefing on Friday evening. Businesses ordered closed include karaoke bars, internet cafes, museums and art galleries, said Yang Beibei, deputy director of Chaoyang district.
Coronavirus Forces Cancellations in Jazz Fest's 2nd Weekend
Willie Nelson is cancelling an upcoming performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival and postponing other shows after a positive case of the coronavirus in his band. The 89-year-old musician posted on his band's website on Friday that “due to a positive Covid case in the Willie Nelson Family Band” two upcoming shows scheduled to happen May 6 and May 7 would be postponed and that Nelson's Sunday performance at Jazz Fest would be cancelled. Nelson was slated to close the Gentilly Stage — the same stage where his son Lukas Nelson is performing earlier in the day with his band the Promise of the Real. No replacement for the elder Nelson has yet been announced.
Jon Batiste 'So Disappointed' to Cancel Shows After Positive Covid Test
Jon Batiste said he was "so disappointed" as he cancelled several upcoming shows after testing positive for Covid-19. The Grammy-winning artist said he would be absent from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and have to postpone the premiere of his American Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York - a show he had been working on for years. Batiste said the decision to cancel was to "keep my family, my friends and our loyal fans safe" and reassured them that he would be returning to the stage soon.
Partisan Exits
'Stop asking why': Shanghai tightens COVID lockdown, Beijing keeps testing
Shanghai authorities were tightening the city-wide COVID lockdown they imposed more than a month ago, prolonging into late May an ordeal that China's capital Beijing was desperate to avoid by turning mass testing into an almost daily routine. The commercial hub of 25 million was making a fresh push to bring case numbers outside the areas that were facing the strictest curbs to zero by the second half of May, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Shaw says B.C. employees can’t have paid leave for COVID-19 shots
A Shaw Communications employee and his union are speaking out against the telecommunications giant, after it refused to give some of its B.C. workers paid leave to get their COVID-19 vaccinations, citing federal regulations. “I was surprised and dismayed,” said the employee, who has been with the company for more than 10 years, and whose identity CBC News has agreed to keep confidential for fear of retaliation.
India reports 3,805 fresh COVID-19 cases, 22 fatalities in last 24 hours
India reported 3,805 new coronavirus infections in a day, pushing the number of active cases of the disease in the country to 20,303 and the overall tally to 4,30,98,743, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday. The data released at 8 am also showed that 22 fatalities — 20 of them from Kerala alone — were reported in a 24-hour period, taking the cumulative death toll to 5,24,024. The active cases now constitute 0.05 per cent of the total infections, the health ministry said, adding that the country's COVID-19 recovery rate is at 98.74 per cent. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.78 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 0.79 per cent, the ministry said.
Moderna Seeks to Dismiss Covid-19 Vaccine Patent Lawsuit
Moderna Inc. is trying to fend off rival companies’ claims that its Covid-19 vaccine infringes their patents, arguing that the companies may only pursue their claims seeking royalties from the federal government. Moderna on Friday filed a motion to dismiss some of the patent-infringement claims in the lawsuit, which was filed in February by two small biotechnology companies, Arbutus Biopharma Corp. and Genevant Sciences GmbH, in federal court in Delaware. It is the latest move in the high-stakes legal battles that are breaking out among companies and the government over patents surrounding Covid-19 vaccines. Arbutus and Genevant claimed in their lawsuit that Moderna’s vaccine has components covered by their patents, and they are seeking royalties from the multibillion-dollar sales of Moderna’s vaccine.
White House Warns of Fall, Winter Surge Without Additional Covid-19 Funding
The Biden administration estimates 100 million Americans may become infected with Covid-19 in the fall and winter without additional funding to help combat the pandemic and buy new vaccines for a fall booster campaign. The infections would result from a virus that is rapidly adapting and waning natural and vaccine immunity, as well as from lack of money for updating vaccines and for stockpiling tests and treatments, a senior administration official said Friday. The cases would amount to a million a day over the course of three to four months, according to a senior administration official, who shared the estimate as part of a White House push to secure $22.5 billion in new funding to combat the pandemic.
Xi Jinping attacks ‘doubters’ as he doubles down on China’s zero-Covid policy
Xi Jinping has confirmed there is no intention to turn away from China’s zero-Covid commitment, in a major speech to the country’s senior officials that also warned against any criticism or doubting of the policy. Addressing the seven-member politburo standing committee, China’s highest decision-making body, specifically about the Shanghai outbreak, the president said China’s response was “scientific and effective”. He told officials to “unswervingly adhere to the general policy of dynamic zero-Covid”. “We have won the battle to defend Wuhan, and we will certainly be able to win the battle to defend Shanghai,” he said, according to a translation by Sinocism’s Bill Bishop.
Piers Corbyn fined over ‘murder’ claim at Covid vaccine clinic
Piers Corbyn has been fined £250 after accusing NHS staff at a London Covid-19 vaccination clinic of murdering people. The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had arrived with a group of anti-vaxxers at Guy’s hospital in central London on 18 January with a “cease and desist” letter that they claimed was to prevent NHS staff from administering the Covid-19 vaccine. Corbyn told Chelsea Butcher, a nursing sister: “We are not leaving, you are murdering people here,” and another member of the group said, “This is a crime scene,” Westminster magistrates court heard. Iestyn Morgan, prosecuting, said Corbyn, 75, and David Burridge, 44, from Hounslow, west London, refused to leave the hospital’s atrium despite requests from NHS staff and police.
Continued Lockdown
Beijing Residents Keep Faith With Government’s Zero-Covid Strategy
BEIJING—For weeks, Beijing has teetered on the edge of a hard, Covid-induced lockdown. For the most part, citizens are unruffled, confident that the restrictions that have paralyzed Shanghai for six weeks are simply unthinkable in the capital. In recent ...
Scientific Viewpoint
The lucky few to never get coronavirus could teach us more about it
When her partner tested positive for the coronavirus two days before Christmas, Michelle Green worried she, too, would become ill. She was two months pregnant with their second child. He was a bartender at the time, and some of his co-workers were infected with the virus. “I told him to get in the guest bedroom and don’t leave,” said Green, a 40-year-old project manager at a retail technology start-up in the District. The couple, who were both vaccinated, and their toddler postponed their Christmas celebration. Somehow, Green never tested positive. Scientists around the world are investigating how a dwindling number of people such as Green have managed to dodge the coronavirus for more than two years, even after the highly transmissible omicron variant drove a record-shattering surge in cases this winter.
Cognitive impairment from long COVID equivalent to aging 20 years, study finds
A new study says that cognitive impairment due to long COVID is the equivalent of aging 20 years or losing 10 IQ points. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London published their findings in the journal eClinicalMedicine last week. They looked at data from 46 individuals who received care at a hospital for COVID-19 between March and July 2020 and compared them to a matched control group. Six months after their stay in hospital, the researchers invited the patients and the control group to undergo a computerized test to measure their memory, attention and reasoning. The researchers found that compared to the control group, those who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 were less accurate and displayed slower response times in the test.
Cognitive Impairment From Severe COVID-19 Equivalent to 20 Years of Aging – Losing 10 IQ Points
Cognitive impairment as a result of severe COVID-19 is similar to that sustained between 50 and 70 years of age and is the equivalent to losing 10 IQ points, say a team of scientists from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. The findings, published recently in the journal eClinicalMedicine, emerge from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) COVID-19 BioResource. The results of the study suggest the effects are still detectable more than six months after the acute illness, and that any recovery is at best gradual.
Surviving the pandemic is only half the battle: ‘Long COVID’ could affect a billion in just a few years
The COVID death rate is a shadow of its former self, and more than two years into the pandemic, Americans seem to be breathing a sigh of relief—thanks to vaccines, their risk of death or hospitalization from the virus is greatly diminished. But there’s more to take into account before ditching your mask, experts say—Long COVID, a new chronic condition defined by an array of symptoms that endure long after the initial COVID infection has cleared. Long COVID may already affect between 7 and 23 million Americans who previously had the virus, or up to 7% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Shanghai's life-saving efforts against the current omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic
In late February, 2022, a wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection rapidly appeared in Shanghai, China. According to the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, as of May 4, 2022, 601 942 cases have been identified, including 547 056 asymptomatic carriers. 503 people have died with or from COVID-19. Phylogenetic features of SARS-CoV-2 viral genomes from 129 patients in this period, and inferring their relationship with those available on the GISAID database, indicated that all of the new viral genomes in Shanghai were clustered into the SARS-CoV-2 BA.2.2 sub-lineage. Of note, BA.2 is a sub-lineage of the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.159). Multiple sub-lineages of BA.2 have been characterised, many of which appear to show distinct regional distribution patterns.
They Got Covid on Purpose To Help Scientists Learn More About It
Jacob Hopkins, 24, tried hard not to get Covid-19 in the months leading up to March 2021, when, if he succeeded, he could be part of a unique experiment in which he was deliberately infected with the virus. Almost a year earlier, he had put his name on a list of volunteers. Months went by until, on Dec. 23, he finally heard back from someone associated with the experiment. He ended up being the very first volunteer given the infection — patient 1. As he described it to me, he took a cab to a hospital in London, wearing a mask so he would be sure not to catch Covid at the last minute. He arrived on a Friday, went through a battery of tests over two days, and on Monday, five health-care workers came in wearing full PPE, “like something out of the movie ‘Contagion,’” pulling in a tank of solution containing SARS-CoV-2.
South Africa Covid-19 Test Positivity Rate Nears Record
South Africa’s daily coronavirus test positivity rate neared a record, rising above 30% on Saturday for the first time in almost five months as two sublineages of the omicron variant spread rapidly ahead of the nation’s winter season. There were 8,524 new Covid-19 cases identified, representing a 31.1% positivity rate of those tested, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a statement on its website. That’s the highest rate since the 32.2% recorded on Dec. 15, when a record 26,976 cases were recorded.
Kids get limited COVID protection from world's most popular vaccines
Three new studies offer a first look at how well some of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines protect young children from the coronavirus1–3. The results — including data from toddlers as young as three years old — have prompted mixed responses among researchers about whether the vaccines should be recommended for use in kids. The research examines two ‘inactivated’ vaccines, which rely on whole viruses that have been killed, that were developed by Chinese scientists. The results, from Argentina, Brazil and Chile, show that, in children, the vaccines provide little protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection and modest protection against symptomatic COVID-19. The studies also show that the vaccines are less effective against the now-dominant Omicron variant than the earlier Delta variant. The studies have not yet been peer reviewed.
Healthy young people in UK may never be offered another Covid jab, says expert
Healthy younger people in the UK may never be offered another Covid jab, a leading expert has said, as a new wave of infections is expected to hit the country in the coming weeks. Giving his personal expert opinion, Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and a member of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, suggested there was little point in offering a fourth jab to those yet to pass middle age, at least in the current landscape. “I think it’s questionable whether young, healthy people will ever be offered another Covid vaccine beyond dose three – at least with the vaccines and variants we have now,” Finn said, although he added both could change.
Coronavirus Resurgence
New York Governor Hochul Tested Positive for Covid -19
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced in a tweet Sunday afternoon that she had tested positive for Covid-19. Governor Hochul says she is vaccinated and boosted against the virus, and is feeling asymptomatic. Due to the positive test result, she will isolate and work remotely this week.
New Zealand's Ardern Isolating After Partner Tests Positive
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is isolating after partner Clarke Gayford tested positive for Covid-19. Ardern and daughter Neve are both fine but will quarantine at home for seven days, as required under current government guidelines for close contacts, Ardern said in a Facebook post Sunday in Wellington. Gayford is “definitely crook, but he’s doing okay,” she told Radio New Zealand on Monday. “We’re having the same experience that many New Zealanders have had over the course of the past three months,” she said. “Juggling a few things but doing just fine thanks.”
Turkey reports 1,480 new coronavirus cases, 9 more deaths
Turkey's confirmed cases of the coronavirus increased by 1,480 in the past 24 hours, and 9 more people have died, the Health Ministry announced on May 8. The ministry’s infographic said that some 1,526 patients recovered in the last 24 hours. It also added that 98,758 tests were conducted over the past day. The infographic also showed that Turkey has so far administered over 147.5 million doses since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in January, 2021. More than 57.8 million people have received their first doses, while over 53 million have been fully vaccinated.
Potential Covid surge in fall and winter could lead to 100m infections, officials warn
A Biden administration official warned Friday that there could be 100m Covid-19 infections this fall and winter, potentially spurring a surge in hospitalizations and deaths. The White House is preparing backup plans for providing vaccines to US residents if lawmakers refuse to provide more funds for coronavirus response efforts, the New York Times reported.
Coronavirus: 3,195 new cases, 23 deaths
Greek health authorities announced 3,195 new coronavirus cases, along with 23 deaths, for the 24-hour period ending 9 a.m. Sunday. Cases declined significantly from the 4,698 announced a day earlier, but this may well be due to fewer tests being administered over the weekend. Deaths did rise, from 19 a day ago. There are also 204 patients on ventilators, down from 210 Saturday and 238 last Sunday. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 3,361,779 confirmed coronavirus cases, of which an estimated 125,954, or 3.6%, are reinfections, along with 29,392 fatalities, 217 of them over the past week.
Pakistan reports 46 fresh Coronavirus cases and three more deaths
Pakistan reported a total of 46 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Saturday, the country's ministry of health said on Sunday. This comes amid World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that suggest that the actual number of COVID-19 deaths in Pakistan was eight times the figure reported by the government. The tally of infected people increased to 1,528,736 after adding the new cases, according to the data released by the ministry, as per Xinhua. The overall death toll rose to 30,375 after three more deaths were recorded on Saturday, according to the ministry's statistics.
Coronavirus: UAE records 225 new cases
The UAE recorded 225 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, taking the overall tally of infections to 900,251. Another 253 people overcame the virus as total recoveries climbed to 884,228. The latest cases were confirmed after 195,790 additional PCR tests were conducted over the past 24 hours. No Covid-related deaths have been reported since March 7 and the toll remains at 2,302.