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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 18th Jul 2022

Lockdown Exit
Europe Can't Shake Off Covid as Variant Fuels Summer Spike
It was supposed to be a post-Covid-19 summer in Europe. Masks are gone in most places, and vacation season is in full swing as workers rush for the beaches and cities they missed in the two years marked by the pandemic. But instead, the reality confronting people is that the virus never went away. A super-transmissible subvariant of the omicron strain, known as BA.5, is fueling a fresh increase in infections, with cases climbing across the UK and the continent
Macau to extend city lockdown, casino closure until Friday
Macau's government will extend a lockdown of casinos and other businesses until Friday, as authorities grapple to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the world's biggest gambling hub, according a statement on its website. The lockdown in the Chinese special administrative region had been due to end on Monday. Macau imposed the shutdown last Monday, shuttering the city's economic engine - its casinos - and forbidding residents from leaving their apartments, except for essential activities such as grocery shopping.
Covid Fuels Worst Decline in Childhood Vaccinations in 30 Years
Global childhood vaccination rates experienced the largest decline in about three decades amid Covid disruptions, putting growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases. The percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) was set back to its lowest level since 2008, falling to 81% in 2021, according to official data published by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund on Friday. The decline means 25 million children missed out on at least one dose of DTP through routine services in 2021 alone, two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019.
Column: The new economic normal - living with COVID
Central banks are jacking up interest rates to tackle the highest inflation in decades, economic growth is slowing, recession looms, and financial markets are in a deep funk. That's the bleak backdrop against which consumers, workers, and businesses are coming round to the realization that, despite successful global vaccination programs and 'V-shaped' recoveries across economies and markets, COVID-19 has not gone away.
UK to Offer Covid Boosters to Everyone 50 and Over This Autumn
The UK will offer Covid-19 boosters to a wider number of people in the fall as a new wave of infections increases pressure on the health system. Everyone 50 and over will be eligible for a booster shot this autumn under plans to increase protection ahead of winter, the government said on Friday.
Exit Strategies
Where is Ireland now with Covid?
Since the start of the pandemic, Ireland has seen 1.6 million PCR confirmed cases. But the real figure is much higher. There has also been 7,571 Covid-19 deaths according to the official data. The current daily reported figures are about 1,200 PCR positive cases and 2,500 self-administered antigen tests being positive. But because the criteria for PCR testing changed a few months ago and there is a lot of self-administered antigen testing, the true number of daily case numbers is much higher than official data, possibly three or more times higher. We all became used to almost nightly NPHET briefings and a flurry of transmission data. NPHET is no more. Some of the data now available is provided weekly, some daily and in truth gives a limited picture of transmission levels.
Czechs to start offering second COVID booster shots
The Czech Republic will begin offering a second COVID-19 boosters from July 18, recommending the shot for people over 60 and those in risk groups, the Health Ministry said on Friday. Boosters will however be available to anyone over 18 and are voluntary, the ministry said. "I want everyone who is interested to have access to vaccination," Health Minister Vlastimil Valek said.
Australia reinstates COVID quarantine pay amid fresh Omicron wave
Australia will reinstate support payments for casual workers who have to quarantine due to COVID-19, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday, as a fresh wave of Omicron-driven infections sweeps the country.
Shanghai Continues to Lock Down Areas Even as Cases Stabilize
Shanghai’s latest Covid-19 outbreak appears to be stabilizing, with most new cases already in government-mandated quarantine, but authorities are taking no chances, still locking down areas of the city and housing compounds as infections arise. The financial center recorded 45 infections for Thursday, down from 47 on Wednesday. While daily cases have jumped from single digits last week, they are no longer rising precipitously, and all the latest cases were already in isolation.
COVID-19: Autumn booster and flu jab to be extended to over 50s to reduce hospital admissions
A COVID-19 booster will be offered to all over 50s in the autumn as part of plans to increase protection from respiratory illnesses and "keep greater numbers of people out of hospital". Scientific advisers on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended the extra dose is offered ahead of the winter, in guidance published on Friday. Care home residents and staff and front-line health and social care workers are also eligible. The jabs are also being recommended for people aged between five and 49 who are in clinical risk groups, including pregnant women, and household contacts of people with immunosuppression.
UK Covid-19 vaccine boosters to be expanded to all over-50s
Uk government said it is offering Covid-19 booster shots to the over 50s this fall in an effort to combat the number of deaths and hospitalisations,
Australia gov't faces pressure to reinstate COVID quarantine pay amid fresh wave
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called a snap meeting of federal and state leaders next week as he faces pressure to reinstate compensation pay for casual workers forced to isolate due to COVID-19 amid a fresh wave of infections. A renewed surge in cases fuelled by the BA.4/5 Omicron coronavirus variants have put Australia's health system on alert with the total number of people admitted to hospitals from COVID-19 not far away from record levels seen earlier this year.
SINOVAC COVID-19 Vaccine Is Authorized for Emergency Use in Kids Aged 3-5 In Brazil
Sinovac Biotech Ltd., a leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in China, announced that its COVID-19 vaccine (CoronaVac) has been approved by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (Anvisa) for emergency use in children from 3 to 5 years old on 13 July. These children will receive the same dose that is already applied to minors aged 6 to 17 years and adults and there is no restriction on the application for immunosuppressed children aged 3 to 5 years. This authorization was given under comprehensive evaluations based on analysis results from all available data on the vaccine and its use in children. Analysis relied on information submitted by the Butantan Institute, with research data from Chile, where the vaccine is already used in this age group, research results on Covid-19 vaccination in Brazil, opinions from invited medical societies, real-life evidence, and published scientific literature data.
Partisan Exits
In Prolonged War Against Covid, China’s Economy Is a Victim
Article reports that China’s daily Covid-19 tally hit a seven-week high, with growing outbreaks in key transit hubs in Henan and Guangdong provinces adding to the gloomy prospects for the country’s economy on the same day it posted a sharper-than-expected slowdown in growth. The 419 new locally transmitted infections China reported on Friday were the most since May 24. Almost 40% were from Guangxi province, where cases jumped to 165 from just 25 on Thursday, National Health Commission data show.
China's zero-COVID policy blamed as economy contracts by 2.6% in second quarter
China's zero-COVID policy is being blamed for a return to the red for its economy, with experts warning that recovery will be hampered by the darkening outlook for output globally. The authorities said the world's second-largest economy contracted by 2.6% between April and June compared to the previous three months. It meant that Chinese growth stood at just 0.4% on an annual basis. Both figures were far weaker than economists had expected, with those polled by the Reuters news agency having forecast a quarter on quarter decline of 1.5%.
Continued Lockdown
High-pressure oxygen shows promise in long COVID; earlier Omicron infection may protect against subvariants
The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. High-pressure oxygen treatment may help long COVID. Patients with long COVID may see some improvement after breathing pure oxygen in a high-air-pressure environment, according to data from a small Israeli trial.
Scientific Viewpoint
More (mostly mild) side effects when flu vaccine given with COVID booster
Self-reported data from nearly 1 million Americans show an 8% to 11% higher rate of mostly mild systemic adverse events after simultaneous seasonal flu vaccine and mRNA COVID-19 booster (third) doses than with the COVID-19 booster alone. In the study, published today in JAMA Network Open, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Response Team and Emory University analyzed rates of systemic adverse events among 981,099 Americans aged 12 years and older in the week after either simultaneous flu and COVID-19 booster doses or the booster alone from Sep 22, 2021, to May 1, 2022. Volunteers responded to at least one health survey through the CDC's smartphone-based v-safe monitoring system during the study period.
A riskier approach to new vaccines will pay off
The UK has been hit by three consecutive waves of Omicron variants, each one appearing in a matter of weeks. If a future variant proves much more dangerous, we will not have much time to brace for impact. So what can be done? The answer: develop better vaccines. The simplest approach is, as with flu, to try to predict where the virus will be four to six months ahead, and to make booster doses accordingly. That looks feasible. After scaling up to meet demand for vaccines in 2021, the world has “unprecedented production capacity”, says Rasmus Bech Hansen, founder of Airfinity, a health analytics company — enough to produce another 8bn doses this year. But better, if we can figure out how to do it, is to make a vaccine that targets all Sars-Cov-2 variants, or a wider family of coronaviruses including Sars or, even more ambitiously, all coronaviruses.
COVID-19 has become 'too clever for us' and can 'break past' our protection, WHO official says
WHO special envoy David Nabarro told Sky News on Thursday that the reason for a surge in new COVID-19 cases globally is because the virus "changed yet again, and it's become too clever for us." "This virus is capable of constantly evolving and changing," he told the outlet. "It can break past our immune defenses, and that's why the numbers are going up." Nabarro told Sky that taking precautions against the virus, like ensuring people are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination shots, is still important to keep others safe.
FDA delays decision on BeiGene's cancer drug on China COVID curbs
China-based drug developer BeiGene said on Thursday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has delayed a decision on its cancer drug as COVID-19 curbs in the country prevented the regulator from conducting inspections. The FDA was expected to decide on the drug, tislelizumab, by July 12 but has now delayed its move until the inspections are complete, the company said. The delay makes BeiGene the latest China-based company for which the FDA has cited pandemic travel restrictions as an issue following similar problems with Hutchmed Ltd , as well as U.S.-based Coherus BioSciences Inc (CHRS.O) and its Chinese partner Shanghai Junshi Biosciences Co Ltd
Pfizer, Biontech seek Japan regulatory approval of COVID shot for young children
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE have sought approval from Japan's health ministry for use of their COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged six months to four years, the companies said in a statement on Thursday. The filing follows approval last month by U.S. regulators for Moderna Inc's two-dose vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech three-shot regimen for children in the same age group.
Canada clears Moderna's COVID vaccine for children under 5
Canada on Thursday authorized Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for babies as young as 6 months old, making it the country's first vaccine against coronavirus for children under 5, Health Canada said. Canada had been offering Moderna's Spikevax vaccine to children above 5 since March, and the latest authorization means some 1.7 million more children are now eligible for inoculation against COVID, according to Health Canada.
EU adds severe allergies as side effect of Novavax COVID vaccine
The European Medicines Agency on Thursday identified severe allergic reactions as potential side effects of Novavax Inc's (NVAX.O) COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was authorized by U.S. regulators on Wednesday, and its product label in the United States warns against administering the shot to people with a history of allergic reactions to any components of the shot. Shares of Novavax fell 20.3% to $55.72 in morning trading, along with the broader market and other COVID-19 vaccine makers. Novavax shares are usually volatile.
From AstraZeneca to Novavax: Serum Institute wins FDA nod to supply new COVID shot to US from India
With an FDA authorization for Novavax’s Nuvaxovid, Serum Institute of India (SII) has scored the go-ahead to finally supply a COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. Wednesday’s emergency use authorization for Novavax’s recombinant protein-based vaccine means SII is able to supply the shot, also known as Covovax, to the U.S. from India. SII has been producing AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria, but that adenovirus-vectored vaccine isn’t available in the U.S. The Novavax green light now makes SII the first Indian drugmaker to produce a COVID shot for the U.S. market.
UK weekly COVID-19 infections rise, booster jab programme announced
An estimated 3.5 million people in Britain had COVID-19 in the latest week of available data, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday, up nearly 30% on the 2.7 million recorded in the previous week. Separately, the government announced that a new COVID booster jab programme would begin later this year. "The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to increase across the UK," the ONS said. "These increases were likely caused by increases in infections compatible with Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5."
FDA green-lights Novavax vaccine as COVID-19 levels rise
The FDA's approval allows distribution of the vaccine to begin, but before health providers can administer it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must recommend it. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is scheduled to discuss the topic on Jul 19. In its announcement, the FDA said the vaccine is approved for use as a two-dose primary series in adults (ages 18 and older). The vaccine is made on a more traditional platform, which officials hope will sway more people to become immunized. The vaccine contains the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein produced in insect calls and contains the Matrix-M adjuvant as an immune booster. The FDA's announcement yesterday came more than a month after its vaccine advisory board recommended EUA approval. Earlier this week, the Biden administration announced the purchase of 3.2 million Novavax doses.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Japan daily COVID infections exceed 110000 to hit record -Jiji
Japan's daily COVID-19 infections hit a record of more than 110,000, Jiji news agency reported on Saturday. Faced with a seventh COVID wave, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday urged the public to exercise maximum vigilance.
China reports 547 new COVID cases on July 15 vs 533 a day earlier
Mainland China reported 547 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, of which 129 were symptomatic and 418 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Saturday. That compares with 533 new cases a day earlier - 113 symptomatic and 420 asymptomatic infections, which China counts separately. China's capital, Beijing, reported another day of no new infections. The financial hub of Shanghai reported 28 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases for Friday, down from 42 a day earlier, with symptomatic cases at five, compared with six the previous day, the local government said on Saturday. All the infections were in quarantined areas.
Japan Covid Cases Hit Record Ahead of Summer Holidays, NHK Says
Japan found a record 110,600 new Covid cases on Saturday, surpassing the previous high set in February, just as the country prepares for the summer holidays, public broadcaster NHK said. Deaths and severe illness have remained at relatively low levels so far in the current wave. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a July 14 news conference that he wasn’t planning any return to restrictions on people’s movements, nor thinking of strengthening border controls at that point.
UK Covid infections rise by almost 30% in a week
Covid infection levels in the UK have risen by almost 30% in a week, with an estimated 3.5 million people thought to have had the disease in the first week of July, as a leading epidemiologist called for a return of free lateral flow tests. Figures from the Office for National Statistics based on swabs collected from randomly selected households show that 2,873,600 people in the community in England are estimated to have had Covid in the week ending 6 July – about one in 19 people. The week before, the figure was 2,154,000 people – or about one in 25. Increases were also seen in other parts of the UK with an estimated one in 16 people in Scotland and one in 17 in both Wales and Northern Ireland thought to have had Covid in the most recent week.
There’s a BA.5 Covid wave in the US – should you be worried? Everything you need to know
Over the past two weeks, cases have increased in 38 US states, and hospitalizations have increased in 43 states. Some of the greatest case increases are among states with the lowest vaccination rates, including Louisiana, Wyoming and Arkansas – despite widespread infection in previous waves, pointing to the greater protection offered by vaccines. According to official case numbers, the US has been in a plateau for several weeks, but the total case count – in addition to being vastly under-reported – cloaked the concurrent fall of BA.2 subvariants and the rapid rise of BA.5. The ascension of the new, more immune-evasive variant shows no signs of slowing. The US is now seeing the likely beginning of a surge, with more than 120,000 new cases confirmed each day and hospitalizations rising by 12% last week from the week before.
Coronavirus sub-variant 'Centaurus' spreads across India and parts of Europe
An Omicron sub-variant that is spreading rapidly in India and has been detected in several European countries may be better than other coronavirus strains at overcoming immunity provided by prior infection and vaccines. BA.2.75, which has been nicknamed Centaurus, appeared to have mutated in a way that could indicate “major immune escape”, said the World Health Organization’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, adding that it showed a “clear growth advantage” over other variants in India. Global health authorities issued a similar warning when the highly mutated Omicron variant emerged late last year.
More than 15,000 Covid-19 cases and seven deaths in last week
Seven coronavirus deaths and 15,386 new infections were recorded between July 8 and 14, the health ministry said on Friday. According to the report, the new cases were detected from 122,335 rapid and PCR tests, with a positivity rate of 12.58 per cent. The deaths concerned an 87-year-old man who died on July 9, a man, aged 76, and a woman, aged 87, who both died on July 10 and a man, aged 76, who died on 11 July. An 87-year-old man, a 76-year-old woman and an 87-year-old woman also died from the virus on July 12. This brings the total number of Covid-19 fatalities to 1,086.
Covid-19: High prevalence and lack of hospital beds putting “intense pressure” on ambulances
All 11 ambulance services in England are working under extreme pressure because of rising rates of covid-19 and a lack of available hospital beds, and leaders are now asking the public to take extra precautions in the hot weather to avoid adding to the already overwhelming workload. In a statement issued on 12 July, Martin Flaherty, managing director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives said that the NHS ambulance sector was “under intense pressure” and was now operating at the highest level of their local resource escalation action plans, which is normally reserved for “major incidents or short term periods of unusual demand.” In their Resource Escalation Action Plan there are four levels used to describe the pressure that ambulance services are under, with level 1 being “steady state” and level 4 “extreme pressure.” Positive tests for SARS-CoV-2 rose 32% at the end of June, with an estimated 2.3 million people infected.2
UK weekly COVID-19 infections rise nearly 30% to 3.5 million - ONS
An estimated 3.5 million people in Britain had COVID-19 in the latest week of available data, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Friday, up nearly 30% on the 2.7 million recorded in the previous week. Separately, the government announced that a new COVID booster jab programme would begin later this year. "The percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) continued to increase across the UK," the ONS said. "These increases were likely caused by increases in infections compatible with Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5." An estimated 1 in 19 people in England were testing positive in the week to July 6, the ONS said, up from around 1 in 25 the previous week.
Most of U.S. Population Now in Areas With High Covid-19 Levels as BA.5 Subvariant Spreads
More than half the U.S. population lives in counties where Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are high enough that people should wear masks in indoor public settings, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The CDC’s latest assessment represents a significant jump from the week before, reflecting the added pressure that the easily spread Omicron BA.5 subvariant is putting on the U.S. since it became the dominant Covid-19 strain. Over a third of U.S. counties now fall into the CDC’s “high” category, up from one in five counties a week earlier. Los Angeles County—the largest in the country, with more than 10 million people—recently joined the list. And if it stays there for two weeks, officials say they will reinstate an indoor masking requirement on July 29.
New Lockdown
Macau Extends City-Wide Lockdown Amid Struggle to Contain Covid
Macau will extend a city-wide shutdown as the gaming hub struggles to contain its worst ever Covid-19 outbreak, prolonging the plight of casinos which are burning through millions of dollars every day and earning no revenue. All non-essential businesses are required to remain close through July 22, authorities said in a statement Saturday, extending measures that began July 11 and were initially due to last a week. The government will allocate another 10 billion patacas ($1.24 billion) to fund alleviation programs for those affected by the outbreak, it said in a separate statement. Macau reported 31 infections for Saturday, suggesting the lockdown wasn’t enough to stop local transmission.