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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 5th Aug 2022

Lockdown Exit
China's Covid Zero Strategy Could Last Years Under Xi
It’s 2025 in Beijing, five years since the start of the pandemic, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Covid Zero policy is still an inescapable part of daily life. Residents must get PCR tested every few days at one of the booths on nearly every street corner. A personalized health code app determines who can move around the capital, and where. Children have to test negative to go to the park. Something as simple as a visit to a coffee shop or supermarket can result in being locked down in your apartment, not even allowed out for food – which the state instead provides. Because a few positive cases prompt officials to restrict movement in all or parts of the city, CEOs assume they must deal with several shutdowns a year.
China Resort Town Sanya Is Covid Hotspot, Stranding Summer Vacation Tourists
The Chinese beach resort city of Sanya has become the nation’s latest virus hotspot with more than 100 Covid-19 cases recorded Thursday, leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded in one of the country’s most popular summer destinations. The city in the southern province of Hainan -- often called the “Hawaii of China” -- reported 107 new infections since noon Thursday, a sharp jump from the 11 cases found Wednesday, according to CCTV. Authorities partially locked down the city on Thursday, closing indoor venues like karaoke parlors and bars. People in areas categorized as high-risk are banned from leaving their homes or lodgings, while others can only venture out of their compounds once every two days to purchase necessities.
Toronto senior diagnosed with rare disorder after COVID vaccine last summer still waiting for compensation
Fernando Caballero misses the way he used to be: happy-go-lucky, the life of the party and the protector of his family. The 67-year-old was active and enjoyed rollerblading in the summer, ice skating in the winter and dancing all year round. But now, he uses a cane or walker to get around and takes several medications for nerve pain to help manage Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) — a rare neurological disorder he developed after getting the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021. He tracks his rehabilitation progress in part by counting how many small dance steps he can do in a row.
Covid-19: Unprecedented levels of chronic absence in schools
The impact of the Covid pandemic has resulted in "unprecedented" numbers of children chronically absent from school, the Department of Education (DE) has said. It said the rate of absences was evident from figures it collected during the 2021-22 school year. Chronic absence is classed as missing more than 10% of the year. The children's commissioner in England is concerned some pupils never fully returned to school after lockdowns. An investigation by Dame Rachel de Souza suggested persistent absence from school was at a rate in England almost twice as high as before the pandemic. Previous reports from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) also said that the pandemic and restrictions had "a severe impact" on children and young people. Most pupils in Northern Ireland were taught remotely out of school for months in 2020 and in early 2021.
U.S. CDC expected to ease COVID-19 guidelines for schools this week - CNN
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to ease its guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19, including in schools as soon as this week, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the plan. The updated guidelines are expected to ease quarantine requirements for people exposed to the virus and would no longer recommend maintaining a six-feet distance at schools, according to the report.
Covid has settled into a persistent pattern — and remains damaging. It may not change anytime soon
Our tussle with Covid-19 — after a harrowing introduction and then wave upon wave of infections — seems to have settled into a persistent pattern. It may stay that way for a while. While Covid is not nearly the threat it once was, transmission of the coronavirus remains at sky-high levels. At the same time, the death rate has dropped thanks to vaccinations and improved treatments, and the overwhelming majority of people in the United States have developed some level of protection, from shots, a previous infection, or some combination of the two. In some ways, Covid is increasingly looking like other respiratory infections — mild in many people, but sometimes severe in certain high-risk populations.
Economically inactive Britons with long Covid has ‘doubled’ in a year
One in 20 people in the UK who are neither employed nor seeking paid work are suffering from long Covid, with the figure more than doubling in the past year, official data has revealed. The proportion is far higher than for the one in 29 people who are unemployed but seeking work who have long Covid symptoms, or the one in 30 employed people who are sufferers, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
Exit Strategies
Most kids in northeastern Ontario have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19
"So certainly we do have some work to do," said Kendra Brunet, the manager of COVID response for the Porcupine Health Unit. "But over the next few weeks we have several child and youth friendly clinics set up, as well as outdoor clinics so that we can get those vaccine rates up for the return to school," she said. Nastassia McNair, the manager of COVID planning for Public Health Sudbury and Districts, says based on the lower uptake for children, she'll be happy if they hit 30 or 40 per cent vaccine coverage for the newly eligible six months to five-years old group.
Ventilation key to battling COVID-19, experts say, urging Australia to do more
Tasmanian schools are keeping windows and doors open as much as they can, despite winter weather. Indoor air quality expert Professor Lidia Morawska says consideration of ventilation is patchy across Australia. There are calls for mandated standards for indoor air quality
Covid-19: 150 vaccine bookings made for children aged below three in first half hour of registration
One hundred and fifty bookings were made for Covid-19 vaccines for children aged between six months old and three years old within half an hour of registration opening, a government official has announced. Thursday was the first day that children as young as six months could receive a Sinovac Covid-19 jab. The government is in talks to obtain the “baby version” of the BioNTech vaccine – one-tenth of the adult dosage – from the pharmaceutical company.
Second Covid-19 vaccine boosters, explained
Federal officials said that they weren’t yet changing the eligibility guidelines for a fourth dose. Currently, they’re recommended only for people over the age of 50 and people who are immunocompromised. Everyone else will likely have to wait until the fall to get the go-ahead from regulators. Some experts, though, think it might be worth getting a second booster now if you face a high risk of Covid-19 exposure or if your previous dose was ages ago. The rise of BA.5 has spooked many of them, despite evidence the virus causes less severe disease now than at any other point during the pandemic. And despite the surge in cases, death trends have hardly moved, indicating that the previous crop of vaccines is still doing its main job of preventing severe illness for most people.
North Korea marks end of first COVID wave, but risks persist
North Korea on Friday said all of its fever patients have recovered, marking the end of its first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, but challenges linger with economic hardships deepening and an unvaccinated population exposed to future resurgences, analysts said.
Covid Study Gives 'Powerful' Clues to Pandemic's Lasting Impact
One in eight people recovering from Covid-19 had lingering symptoms due to the illness at least three months later in a study that provides greater clarity on the ailments triggered by the pandemic disease. Scientists used data from the Netherlands’ largest population-based cohort study to track long Covid problems, such as a loss of smell and chest pain. The proportion of participants who had one or more hallmark symptoms was 21% among those who caught Covid, compared with almost 9% in people who didn’t, leaving about 13% of patients with symptoms that can be attributed to the coronavirus, according to researchers at the University of Groningen.
'Permanent shock' to nursing homes? Facilities fail to replace workers who quit after COVID outbreaks
Before pandemic, 82% of facilities did not meet recommended staffing levels. Pay levels are low and competition from hospitals is steep. Industry says inadequate government funding impacts recruitment and retention
Partisan Exits
Northern Ireland families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 mount legal bid for central role in UK inquiry into pandemic
Families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland are mounting a legal bid to secure a central role at the UK-wide inquiry into the pandemic. The tribunal has been set up to examine the response of government and impact of the public health emergency. Lawyers representing campaign group Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice confirmed they are applying for core participant status at the hearings. A statement issued by the group said: “It is difficult to conceive of a group who have been more tragically affected by the pandemic. “Our key objectives are to secure answers and accountability for the deaths of our loved ones and to learn lessons to help save lives in the future and the most effective means of achieving this is by participating in the Covid-19 Public Inquiry.
Calls to rethink 'immoral' removal of Covid-19 sick pay policies
Nurses are among those urging governments across the UK to reinstate special Covid-19 sick pay policies for NHS staff and are appealing for support from the profession and the public via an online petition. The petition, which demands that special Covid-19 sick pay is reintroduced, has received more than 38,000 signatures in just under a month. It was launched by midwife Maria Esslinger-Raven on behalf of health professionals like herself who have long Covid.
Austrian doctors speak out after suicide of GP following Covid threats
Austrian medical representatives have called for greater protection for doctors after a GP who faced months of violent threats from anti-vaccination activists and pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr was found dead in her practice in the lakeside resort of Seewalchen am Attersee on Friday. Prosecutors told the media they found three suicide notes and were not planning to carry out an autopsy. Her death prompted a wave of vigils and demonstrations. There have also been calls for laws against bullying and psychological warfare to be tightened, including making it easier to prosecute perpetrators in other EU countries, after at least two of the people believed to have targeted Kellermayr with death threats were identified as coming from Germany.
Continued Lockdown
China’s Hawaii Sanya Partially Locks Down as Covid Outbreak Grows
China partially locked down the beach resort city of Sanya after detecting about two dozen new virus cases this week, stranding thousands of tourists at one of the country’s most popular summer spots. People in areas categorized as high-risk are banned from leaving their homes, while other residents can only venture out of their compounds once every two days to purchase necessities, the municipal government said. The city has shut indoor venues including karaoke parlors and bars, and halted the movement of buses, ships, and yachts. All public venues require a negative Covid test no older than 24 hours for entry.
Scientific Viewpoint
Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine gets approval for use in children in Hong Kong
Sinovac Biotech has reported that its Covid-19 vaccine, CoronaVac, obtained approval from the Health Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China for usage in children of the age six months to three years. The consensus interim recommendations on Covid-19 vaccine use in children aged six months or above in Hong Kong were released by the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases and the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases under the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health. The approval is based on clinical trials and studies of Covid-19 inoculation in children and adolescents in the region.
Studies: 3 or 4 COVID vaccine doses protective against Omicron
In the first study, published yesterday in JAMA Network Open, researchers in Israel studied the effectiveness of a fourth dose of Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine against infection in 29,611 healthcare workers (HCWs) at 11 general hospitals who had received three vaccine doses in August or September 2021. The Omicron surge in Israel began in December 2021. The researchers tested workers for COVID-19 using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) only after symptoms emerged or they were exposed to the virus. Of all participants, 5,331 (18%) received a fourth dose in January 2022, the start of a fourth-dose vaccination campaign for Israeli HCWs, and were not infected in the first week after vaccination. Average participant age was 44 years, and 65% were women. Participants were followed until Jan 31, 2022.
Eli Lilly Revenue Falls as Sales of Covid-19 Treatment Wanes
Eli Lilly posted a 4% decline in second-quarter revenue, as a drop in sales of the company’s Covid-19 antibody treatment and some older drugs offset gains in sales for newer drugs. The pharmaceutical company Thursday reiterated its sales forecast for the year but cut its profit outlook as the stronger U.S. dollar hurts results. Lilly said lower prices and currency translation also contributed to the declining sales, which came in below Wall Street expectations. Lilly is hoping to boost future revenue with sales of newer drugs, including Mounjaro, recently introduced to treat diabetes. Lilly is studying the same drug, also known by its generic name tirzepatide, to treat obesity, and recently reported positive clinical-trial data.
Lilly Plans to Sell Covid-19 Antibody Directly to Health-Care Providers
Eli Lilly & Co. plans to sell its Covid-19 antibody directly to health providers, states and territories in a bid to keep the drug available even as US government funding and purchases dry up. The US is working with Lilly to allow it to sell the antibody, bebtelovimab, through commercial channels, representatives for the Indianapolis-based drugmaker and the Health and Human Services Department said Wednesday. The government’s supply of the therapy will run out as early as the week of Aug. 22, according to Lilly spokeswoman Dani Barnhizer. Concern about the pandemic has ebbed as vaccines have prevented high numbers of severe cases and deaths that accompanied the outbreak’s early stages. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been frustrated by unwillingness in Congress to provide more funds to continue buying Covid drugs and shots.
Long COVID-19 and other chronic respiratory conditions after viral infections may stem from an overactive immune response in the lungs
Viruses that cause respiratory diseases like the flu and COVID-19 can lead to mild to severe symptoms within the first few weeks of infection. These symptoms typically resolve within a few more weeks, sometimes with the help of treatment if severe. However, some people go on to experience persistent symptoms that last several months to years. Why and how respiratory diseases can develop into chronic conditions like long COVID-19 are still unclear.
A first update on mapping the human genetic architecture of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a major public health threat, especially in countries with low vaccination rates. To better understand the biological underpinnings of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity, we formed the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative1. Here we present a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of up to 125,584 cases and over 2.5 million control individuals across 60 studies from 25 countries, adding 11 genome-wide significant loci compared with those previously identified2. Genes at new loci, including SFTPD, MUC5B and ACE2, reveal compelling insights regarding disease susceptibility and severity.
The Origins of Covid-19 Are More Complicated Than Once Thought
To trace the pandemic in the other direction, toward its source, the researchers turned to swab samples collected by Chinese scientists from around the Huanan market just before it was shut down by the authorities in January 2020. Those swabs returned a cluster of positives in the south-western corner of the market—on a glove found on one of the stalls, from a grate under one of the cages. Five of the positive samples came from a single stall—a stall that was known to be selling live animals in late 2019, and the same stall where Holmes had taken his photograph of the raccoon dogs five years earlier. This layering of indirect evidence has helped to settle the question of where Covid jumped into humans, but the question of timing has also been a subject of fierce debate.
Moderna COVID vaccine sales forecast unchanged even as COVAX program cuts orders
Moderna Inc on Wednesday maintained its full-year COVID-19 vaccine sales forecast of $21 billion as canceled orders from low- and middle-income nations through the COVAX program offset gains from new booster dose orders. Moderna shares jumped nearly 17% in morning trading after the company also announced a $3 billion share buyback plan. Moderna has begun producing a redesigned booster shot targeting both the original coronavirus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
Eli Lilly to make COVID-19 antibody drug commercially available from August
Eli Lilly and Co said on Wednesday it plans to make its COVID-19 antibody drug commercially available to U.S. states as well as hospitals and other healthcare providers from August. The drug, bebtelovimab, had received authorization in the United States in February for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 among adults and children. Eli Lilly entered an agreement in June to supply an additional 150,000 doses of the drug to the U.S. government.
South Africa reports first death causally linked to COVID vaccine
South Africa's health regulator reported on Thursday a causal link between the death of an individual and Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) (JNJ.N) COVID-19 vaccine, the first time such a direct link has been made in the country. The person presented with rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome soon after being given J&J's Janssen vaccine, after which the person was put on a ventilator and later died, senior scientists told a news conference.
Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 Antibody Treatment to Be Sold Commercially
Eli Lilly & Co. said it plans to begin commercial sales of its Covid-19 monoclonal antibody treatment to states, hospitals and other healthcare providers this month, as the federal government’s supply of the drug is nearly depleted. The move marks a shift away from the way Lilly’s drug and most other Covid-19 treatments and vaccines have been distributed in the U.S. It will likely be the first test of whether the vaccines and treatments would remain accessible if shifted to a commercial market. Previously, Lilly sold all of its Covid-19 antibody doses for use in the U.S. via contracts with the federal government. The government has made doses available for free to patients and has overseen allocation to states and pharmacies. But the government will exhaust its supply of Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody treatment, bebtelovimab, as early as the week of Aug. 22, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis-based company said in a statement. Without new appropriations from Congress, the government lacks funds to purchase more doses from Lilly, she said.
People vaccinated against Covid share common symptom after testing positive
“It usually lasts for an average of two to three days, but can last up to seven days in adults,” the ZOE team said. The data found this symptom has become less prevalent with each variant, as nearly a third of adults aged over 35 reported having diarrhoea during the Alpha wave, while just one in five said they experienced it during the Omicron and Delta waves. The people who experienced it during the latter two waves had been vaccinated either twice or had also received their booster jab.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Australia's winter COVID wave may have peaked early, health minister says
Australia's COVID-19 winter outbreak fuelled by the new Omicron sub-variants BA.4/5 may have peaked early, Health Minister Mark Butler said on Thursday, as hospitals reported a steady fall in admissions over the past week. Australia is battling one of its worst flare-ups of the coronavirus driven by the fast-moving new Omicron sub-variants, putting severe strain on hospitals and retirement homes. But Health Minister Mark Butler flagged the worst could be over.
Hong Kong reports 5020 new COVID cases on Thursday
Hong Kong reported more than 5,000 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday and three new deaths, as daily infections continue to rise. The Chinese-ruled city, which enforces some of the toughest COVID restrictions in the world, is expected to ease quarantine requirements for travellers in coming days. Its COVID policies are not as strict as in mainland China.
Russia sees largest COVID cases daily increase since April
Russia registered 17,126 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the highest daily increase since April 2, the country's anti-pandemic taskforce said in a statement. The taskforce said 44 people in Russia died of the disease in the previous day.
New COVID case numbers in New Zealand trending lower, signs wave peaked
New Zealand's health ministry sees strong signs that the country's latest COVID-19 wave has peaked, as new cases continue to trend lower. The number of people in hospitals with COVID is also down on late July. "The case rates have continued to trend lower across all regions for the second week running," Andrew Old, head of the New Zealand Public Health Agency, told reporters on Thursday. In the past seven days there were on average 6,142 new cases daily of COVID, down from a seven-day rolling average of 7,776 new cases a week earlier, according to Health Ministry data released on Thursday.
Global COVID cases trend down, with surges in Japan, Korea
After global cases rose through June, COVID activity appears to be declining, with a 9% drop last week compared to the week before, the WHO said. Two regions, however, reported increases, the Western Pacific, where cases rose 20%, and Africa, where illnesses were up 5%. The WHO has urged caution in interpreting trends based on cases, due to declines in testing and surveillance. In the Western Pacific region, the highest jumps were in Japan, which reported a 42% increase, and South Korea, which reported a 25% rise compared to the week before. Japan's cases are averaging more than 200,000 per day, with healthcare systems feeling pressure in some areas, partly due to COVID-19 illnesses in staff, according to the Japan Times. South Korea is reporting more than 100,000 cases a day, the highest since the middle of April, according to the Korea Herald.
Utah's COVID-19 deaths jump, case counts dip, state reports
Another 28 Utahns died of COVID-19 in the past week, a dozen more than were reported a week ago, state health officials announced Thursday. As of Thursday, there have been 4,928 COVID-19 deaths in Utah since the start of the pandemic, according to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. All but six of the deaths reported in the past week were Utahns ages 65 or older. Ten of those who died were 85 or older. Utah’s latest COVID-19 metrics released Thursday showed a 14% decrease in newly documented coronavirus cases since last week. But 70.6% of Utah wastewater sites continue to report high levels of the virus in sewers. Case counts are generally considered underreported because home tests are not recorded.
Photo exposes stark difference in China’s Covid-19 lockdown rules
One photo has summed up the mind-boggling difference in Covid rules between two neighboring Chinese districts. The image, shared on social media by Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for global health Yanzhong Huang, shows locals on one side of a street lining up for Covid tests, while on the other, diners are enjoying their restaurant meals. Dr Huang said the photo represented a “tale of two districts in Chengdu, (a city in) Sichuan province”. “Residents of Chenghua district (left) line up to be tested on Covid, while residents of Jinniu district (right) wait to get a nice meal,” he wrote. He said the Chenghua district was currently under strict lockdown rules after a concentration of Covid cases in the area.
New Lockdown
Eastern Chinese export hub Yiwu imposes COVID restrictions
Article reports that the Chinese city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province has suspended some public gatherings and dining at restaurants, closed multiple entertainment venues and locked down some areas to cope with COVID-19 flare-ups, the city government said on Wednesday. In light of the latest COVID-19 infections, city-wide mass testing will be conducted on Aug. 4, Yiwu's health authorities said late on Wednesday. There were 38 new coronavirus cases in Yiwu since Tuesday, of which nine were symptomatic and 29 were asymptomatic, the city's health authorities said.
Southern Chinese tourism city Sanya imposes lockdown measures, restricts businesses
The southern Chinese city of Sanya, a tourism hotspot, imposed lockdown measures from Thursday in most parts of the city, ordering residents to reduce their trips outside to shop for daily necessities to once every two days and confining some strictly to their homes. Non-essential venues must be suspended, said the city government late on Wednesday, in effort to curb a fresh COVID-19 cluster. Certain narrower areas in the city are allowed to keep their COVID-19 policy at normal level, the government said in a statement.