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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 14th Jun 2022

Lockdown Exit
Bank of England to drop post-COVID capital buffer rule
The Bank of England said on Monday that it would remove a post-COVID capital buffer adjustment now that risks from the pandemic had subsided. "Removing a temporary capital adjustment that is no longer necessary aims to achieve simplicity and enhances proportionality, thereby facilitating effective competition," the BoE said in a statement. In July 2020, the BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) announced the temporary increase of the buffer for all firms that received a Pillar 2A reduction under its PS15/20 policy to reconcile capital requirements and macroprudential buffers
Thousands of Queenslanders in the dark over COVID-19 hotel quarantine fee waivers
As of this month, Queensland Health has issued 84,463 invoices for hotel quarantine. 21,401 people had applied for a quarantine fee waiver, and so far 4,639 have been approved in part or in full. The remaining 16,762 people are either still having their applications processed or considered — or they've been rejected
Covid-19: Patients without respiratory symptoms no longer have to wear a face mask in GP surgeries
Patients who enter general practices in England no longer have to wear a face mask unless they have respiratory symptoms, NHS England and NHS Improvement says. But the updated guidance also underlines the importance of local risk assessments and says that increased measures can be used when deemed necessary. A letter sent to clinical commissioning groups and trusts set out the changes to infection prevention and control measures following updates from the UK Health Security Agency.1 It said that health and care staff should continue to wear face masks as part of personal protective equipment when working with patients with suspected or confirmed covid-19, including untriaged patients in primary care and emergency departments.
Don’t be complacent, another Covid wave is coming. Here’s how we can manage it
As we move into summer, more than two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the words “new wave” are probably the last thing anyone wants to hear. Yet it is true that recent UK data (as well as data from Florida and other places) indicates that sublineages of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5, are kicking off a new wave of cases. With the pandemic no longer dominating the news in the way it once did, it’s worth taking stock of where we are and what needs to be done. After all, these variations on Omicron are not more severe, but they do have the capacity to reinfect people, even those who have had a previous version of Omicron. This is further evidence that reaching “herd immunity” (where enough people are vaccinated or infected to stop further circulation) against Covid-19 is probably impossible.
Coronavirus: More than 100 TfL workers died from Covid-19
More than 100 Transport for London (TfL) workers are known to have died from Covid-19, new figures show. Of those who died from the virus, 75 worked on London buses, while 23 worked on the Tube network. The majority were people belonging to ethnic minorities and only five were women, TfL said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said TfL had "put in place a range of additional support for families and colleagues where there has been a bereavement". TfL said a permanent memorial would be completed later this year to "help pay tribute to the critical role transport workers played during the global pandemic".
Saudi Arabia ends COVID-19 protective measures - state news agency
Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the lifting of measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state news agency (SPA) reported, citing an official in the interior ministry. The measures lifted include the requirement to wear face masks in closed places, with the exception of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque.
Simmering disputes persist as Covid patent waiver talks come down to the wire
As of this month, Queensland Health has issued 84,463 invoices for hotel quarantine. 21,401 people had applied for a quarantine fee waiver, and so far 4,639 have been approved in part or in full. The remaining 16,762 people are either still having their applications processed or considered — or they've been rejected
Exit Strategies
Canada urged to support COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver
Advocates for vaccine equity are calling on the Canadian government to join the push for a patent waiver to help in the global fight against COVID-19, just as the World Trade Organization opens high-level talks on this and other issues.
‘Covid not over yet, increase vaccinations for schoolkids': Mandaviya to states
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya interacted with health ministers of states and Union territories and urged them to focus on increasing Covid-19 vaccination coverage for schoolchildren, precaution dose for the elderly and strengthening genome sequencing, the health ministry said. “Covid-19 is not over yet. With rising Covid-19 cases in some states, it is important to be alert and not to forget Covid-appropriate behaviour,” Mandaviya told the states at the review meeting. Highlighting increased case positivity in some districts and states and reduced Covid-19 testing, Mandaviya said increased and timely testing will enable early identification of cases and help to curb the spread of the infection among the community. “He urged states/UTs to continue and strengthen the surveillance and focus on genome sequencing for identifying new mutants/variants in the country. He stated that the five-fold strategy of test, track, treat, vaccination and adherence to Covid Appropriate Behavior (CAB) needs to be continued and monitored by States/UTs,” the ministry said in a statement.
‘Immunity is waning’: Andrews seeks fourth shot for hospital workers
Premier Daniel Andrews will push the federal government for fourth-dose coronavirus vaccines for all healthcare workers employed in hospitals across the state. There are no plans to mandate a fourth dose. The premier’s aim is to ensure a second booster is available to healthcare workers once immunity wanes from their third dose.
Amid fourth wave scare, Centre warns 'Covid-19 not over yet'; urges States to focus on vaccination
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya urged States/UTs to strengthen the surveillance and focus on genome sequencing for identifying new Covid-19 mutants/variants in the country.
Saudi Arabia eases mask mandate as first Hajj pilgrims arrive
Saudi Arabia has lifted a mask mandate for indoor spaces even as COVID-19 infection numbers steadily climb past 1,000 new cases a day after reaching double-digit lows just two months ago. Monday’s move comes as the kingdom prepares to welcome around 850,000 pilgrims from abroad to participate in the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Mandatory COVID-19 tests every few days becoming the norm for people in China
Many larger Chinese cities have normalised regular COVID-19 testing as part of the country's COVID-zero policy. Tens of thousands of testing booths are being built so that residents always have one within a 15-minute walk. Economists estimate the testing regime could cost $354 billion per year
Beijing tests millions to stem 'developing' COVID cluster at 24-hour bar
Authorities in China's capital Beijing raced on Monday to contain a COVID-19 outbreak traced to a 24-hour bar known for cheap liquor and big crowds, with millions facing mandatory testing and thousands under targeted lockdowns. The outbreak of 228 cases linked to the Heaven Supermarket Bar, which had just reopened as restrictions in Beijing eased last week, highlights how hard it will be for China to make a success of its "zero COVID" policy as much of the rest of the world opts to learn how to live with the virus.
United Airlines cites jump in global travel searches after U.S. ends COVID testing
Saudi Arabia has lifted a mask mandate for indoor spaces even as COVID-19 infection numbers steadily climb past 1,000 new cases a day after reaching double-digit lows just two months ago. Monday’s move comes as the kingdom prepares to welcome around 850,000 pilgrims from abroad to participate in the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The first batch of foreign pilgrims since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic began arriving from Indonesia earlier this month. Masks will still be required at Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, where pilgrims gather for worship, according to the new rules. Organisers of events and festivals can continue to require masks if they wish.
Partisan Exits
US Sen. Wicker of Mississippi again tests positive for COVID
Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi has again tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Monday. His communications director, Phillip Waller, said Wicker took a required test and received a positive result. “He will be expected to miss votes and committee business this week until he is able to return in person to the Senate,” Waller said. Wicker, 70, attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in late May. Wicker was also diagnosed with COVID-19 in August last year and in February this year. He said in February that he is fully vaccinated against the virus.
Philippine officials, governor clash over face mask policy
Philippine officials warned Monday that people can face arrest if they defy a presidential order to wear face masks in public to protect against the coronavirus even in a province where the governor has declared they are optional. Officials asked Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia of central Cebu province to cooperate with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, but she insisted Monday that her decision to allow people to decide whether to wear masks in public in her province has legal grounds because provincial officials can decide on health issues.
Rolling Stones CANCEL Amsterdam gig after Sir Mick Jagger, 78, tests positive for COVID-19
Sir Mick Jagger , 78, has tested positive for coronavirus , prompting the Rolling Stones to cancel their show in Amsterdam on Monday. The band, which also features guitarist Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood with Steve Jordan on drums, are on their SIXTY tour, which consists of 14 shows in 10 countries across Europe A statement on behalf of the band said: 'The Rolling Stones have been forced to call off tonight's concert in Amsterdam at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, following Mick Jagger testing positive after experiencing symptoms of Covid.' People who have fallen ill with Covid within the last 180 days must demonstrate proof of COVID-19 recovery when entering the Netherlands using the NHS Covid Pass, with the date of issue being more than 11 days ago
HHS secretary Becerra tests positive for COVID-19 again
President Joe Biden’s top health official has again tested positive for COVID-19, less than a month after he came down with virus symptoms while on a trip to Germany
Scientific Viewpoint
EMA’s PRAC finds no link between mRNA Covid-19 vaccines and menstruation
The Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has found no link between messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) Covid-19 vaccines and the absence of menstruation (amenorrhea). The development comes after the committee analysed all the available findings, including cases reported during clinical trials, those reported spontaneously in Eudravigilance and data from the literature. Data also comprise the literature and cases of amenorrhea reported to EudraVigilance following dosing with the Covid-19 vaccines of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, Comirnaty and Spikevax, respectively.
Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine Nuvaxovid™ Provisionally Registered in Australia as a Booster in Individuals Aged 18 and Over
Novavax, Inc., a biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, today announced that the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has granted provisional registration of Nuvaxovid™ (NVX-CoV2373) COVID-19 vaccine as a booster in individuals aged 18 and over. "Today's provisional registration for Nuvaxovid as a booster in Australia is an important step in ensuring broad global access to diversified vaccine options," said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax
Ivermectin Has Little Effect on Recovery Time From Covid, Study Finds
The antiparasite drug ivermectin does not meaningfully reduce the time needed to recover from Covid, according to a large study posted online Sunday. It is the largest of several clinical trials to show that the drug, popular since the early pandemic as an alternative treatment, is not effective against the virus. The new trial, conducted by researchers at Duke University and Vanderbilt University, tested more than 1,500 people with Covid, about half getting the drug and the others a placebo. The study has not yet been published in a scientific journal. “Given these results, there does not appear to be a role for ivermectin outside of a clinical trial setting, especially considering other available options with proven reduction in hospitalizations and death,” Dr. Adrian Hernandez, the executive director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute who led the trial, said in a statement on Sunday night.
Vaccinated people who recovered from Omicron found to be best protected against BA.5
People vaccinated against COVID-19 and who recovered from an Omicron infection are best protected against the BA.5 subvariant that has been spreading, according to new findings by an Israeli hospital. Initial results of research by Sheba Medical Center showed those who were vaccinated and had been sick with Omicron developed the most antibodies against BA.5, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday. The report added that those who were either vaccinated and did not contract Omicron or vice versa had significantly fewer antibodies than people who were both inoculated and previously infected with the coronavirus variant.
Covid is making flu and other common viruses act in unfamiliar ways
At one point last month, children were admitted to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital with a startling range of seven respiratory viruses. They had adenovirus and rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus, influenza and parainfluenza, as well as the coronavirus — which many specialists say is to blame for the unusual surges. “That’s not typical for any time of year and certainly not typical in May and June,” said Thomas Murray, an infection-control expert and associate professor of pediatrics at Yale. Some children admitted to the hospital were co-infected with two viruses and a few with three, he said. More than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, familiar viruses are acting in unfamiliar ways. Respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, typically limits its suffocating assaults to the winter months.
COVID Death Rates Explained, Dismal Booster Stats, and New Vaccines
On this episode of the COVID, Quickly podcast, we clear up some data misconceptions, get to the bottom of the booster uptake issue and talk Novavax.
Pfizer Vaccine Effective in Children Under 5, the F.D.A. Says
The Food and Drug Administration said on Sunday that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine appeared to be effective in preventing Covid illness in children under 5, judging by the level of virus-blocking antibodies the shots induced. The agency’s evaluation was posted online ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of outside vaccine experts, summoned to recommend how the F.D.A. should rule on applications from both Pfizer and Moderna on vaccinating the nation’s youngest children. Some public health experts are expecting the F.D.A. to authorize both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines, offering parents a choice between the two. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must also weigh in with its recommendations after the F.D.A. acts. Roughly 18 million children younger than 5 are the only Americans who are not yet eligible for shots.
Japan Has Fewest Covid-19 Deaths Per Capita in OECD, New Data Show
Japan has the lowest number of Covid-19 deaths per capita among wealthy nations, according to new data, with health experts citing the country’s mask habit and low obesity rate as possible reasons. As of Sunday, Japan’s cumulative Covid-19 deaths per million population stood at 245, according to Our World in Data, a website that tallies Covid-19 statistics. That is the lowest figure among the 38 member states in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of wealthy nations that includes the U.S. and most of Europe. The Japanese rate compares with 2,469 Covid-19 deaths per million people in Europe and 3,038 per million in the U.S., which has the highest rate in the OECD. While the reasons for the U.S. rate aren’t well-understood, widespread obesity, less mask-wearing, disparities in access to healthcare and a lower vaccination rate than some other OECD countries likely played a role, public-health specialists have said.
Sanofi and GSK share positive data for two COVID-19 booster vaccine trials
In the phase 3 VAT02 cohort 2 trial, the Sanofi/GSK vaccine candidate caused – at day 15 post-immunisation – a significant boost in antibody titres above baseline against multiple variants of concern in adults who previously received mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations. Specifically against Omicron, the preliminary data demonstrated 40 times as much of an increase against the BA.1 variant. In addition to this, the Sanofi/GSK booster produced twice the number of neutralising antibodies against Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 when compared to the original parent virus booster. Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president, Sanofi Vaccines, said: “COVID-19 keeps evolving and the combination of emergence of variants and waning immunity is likely to lead to the need for additional booster shots, at least in some populations. The Beta variant expresses similar mutations across multiple variants of concern, including Omicron, making it a strong vaccine candidate to confer broad protection against multiple strains of COVID-19.
Risk of severe COVID-19 in adults with immune-mediated inflammatory diseases and those on immune-modifying therapies
A total of 17,672,065 subjects, of which 1,163,438 subjects (55% females and 45% males, and 71% Whites) had inflammatory disorders, and 16,508,627 subjects (49.8% females and 50.2% males, and 64% of Whites) were included from the general public. Out of 1,163,438 subjects with immunological inflammatory disorders, 1.6% (n=19,119) were administered immunomodulatory therapeutic agents, whereas 15.6% (n=181,694) were administered standard systemic therapies. Compared to the general public, individuals with inflammatory disorders showed a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection-associated mortality after data adjustments for confounding variables (HR 1.2) and mediators (HR = 1.2). In addition, individuals with inflammatory disorders showed a higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection-associated admissions in critical care settings or mortality (confounder-adjusted HR and mediator-adjusted HRs were 1.2 and 1.2, respectively) and hospitalization (confounder-adjusted HR 1.3, and mediator-adjusted HR 1.2).
Pfizer COVID vaccines safe and effective for small children, FDA staff say
U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff reviewers on Sunday said Pfizer-BioNTech's, COVID-19 vaccines were effective and safe for use in children aged 6 months to 4 years. The FDA reviewers said in briefing documents published on Sunday evening that their evaluation did not reveal any new safety concerns related to the use of the vaccine in young children. The FDA analysis of data from Pfizer's trial was published ahead of a June 15 meeting of its outside advisers. Recommendations from the external advisers will determine the FDA's decision on the vaccines.
Sanofi says next-gen COVID booster shot has potential against main variants
French drugmaker Sanofi said on Monday an upgraded version of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate it is developing with GSK showed potential in two trials to protect against the virus's main variants of concern, including the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 strains, when used as a booster shot. While the two companies' first experimental COVID shot is undergoing review by the European Medicines Agency, Sanofi and GSK have continued work on a vaccine that is molded on the now-supplanted Beta variant, hoping still that it will confer broad protection against future viral mutations.
Valneva shares plunge as European COVID vaccine deal flounders
Valneva shed around a quarter of its market value on Monday after the French drugmaker warned that the future of its COVID-19 vaccine was in jeopardy. Valneva has been trying to salvage a deal with the European Commission (EC) which has indicated it would terminate an advance purchase agreement for up to 60 million doses. "We do understand that the European Commission is faced with this challenge of having too many vaccine doses on stock," Valneva CEO Thomas Lingelbach told Reuters.
Understanding long Covid will take the lived experiences of long haulers
I went from training for the Big Sur 21-miler to barely being able to climb a flight of stairs in just six months. The cause? Covid-19 or, more specifically, long Covid. As a researcher, I want to know how this happened and, more importantly, how to fix it. I’m not alone. The “fix it” question is on the minds of as many as 23 million Americans and 100 million people worldwide who have experienced long Covid, which has emerged as a new chronic illness. In August 2021, two members of my household tested positive for Covid. Being fully vaccinated, I didn’t test myself but, between the exposure and developing a number of Covid symptoms, saw the writing on the wall.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Coronavirus: no need for Hong Kong to tighten Covid curbs despite rebound in cases, medical experts say
Schools report 275 new infections as leading health official warns daily number of coronavirus cases in city could go up to four digits. Until new variant emerges that can overwhelm local hospitals with severe cases, rules do not need to be tightened, PolyU associate professor says
Coronavirus: UAE reports 1,319 Covid-19 cases, 1,076 recoveries, no deaths
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Monday reported 1,319 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, along with 1,076 recoveries and no deaths. Total active cases stand at 16,152. The new cases were detected through 180,075 additional tests. The total number of cases in UAE as on June 13 are 917,815, while total recoveries stand at 900,358. The death toll now stands at 2,305.
North Korea reports 40060 more people with fever symptoms amid COVID outbreak
North Korea on Sunday reported 40,060 new people showing fever symptoms and one death amid the isolated nation's first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, state media KCNA said.
Beijing halts offline sports events from June 13 due to COVID outbreak
Beijing will suspend all offline sports events starting from June 13 citing high transmission risks of a recent COVID-19 outbreak linked to a bar in the city, Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sports said in a statement on Monday. As of June 12, some 166 cases have been linked so far to the outbreak at the Chaoyang Heaven Supermarket Bar, which emerged last week.
Beijing tests millions, isolates thousands over COVID cluster at 24-hour bar
Authorities in China's capital Beijing on Monday raced to contain a COVID-19 outbreak traced to a raucous 24-hour bar known for cheap liquor and big crowds, with millions facing mandatory testing and thousands under targeted lockdowns. The outbreak of nearly 200 cases linked to the city centre Heaven Supermarket Bar, which had just reopened as curbs in Beijing eased last week, highlights how hard it will be for China to make a success of its "zero COVID" policy as much of the rest of the world opts to learn how to live with the virus.
Hugh Jackman Tests Positive for COVID the Day After His Tony Awards Performance
One day after performing “The Music Man” at the 2022 Tony Awards ceremony, nominee Hugh Jackman has announced that he has tested positive for COVID. “I wanted you guys to hear it from me first that unfortunately this morning I have frustratingly been tested positive for COVID again,” Jackman says in a video posted on his Twitter account. “My incredible stand-by, Max Clayton, is gonna go on for me.”
New Lockdown
Beijing nightclub COVID-19 outbreak forces schools online as restrictions return to Shanghai
More than 100 cases have been linked to a nightclub in Beijing's Gongti nightlife area. Schools in the Chaoyang district were put back online, except for students taking placement exams. Mass testing and restrictions on movement have returned to Shanghai