| |

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

Lockdown Exit
WH COVID-19 chief: Vaccines will be ‘commercialized’ by 2023
The U.S. will pivot toward the “commercialization” of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests in the coming year instead of a scenario in which the government is the main purchaser, according to the White House virus coordinator.
Millions of COVID-19 vaccines have been wasted: report
More than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been discarded in South Korea, according to a report released by the National Assembly on Thursday. More vaccines, however, are expected to be discarded with their expiration dates approaching. The issue of COVID-19 vaccines going to waste is likely to continue as more are scheduled to arrive in South Korea by the end of this year. According to the National Assembly Budget Office, the country discarded a total of 5.29 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of July 6, about 3.6 percent of the total 145.8 million doses that the country had secured.
Israeli, Australian public health leaders to exchange COVID-19 knowledge
A group of 15 leading Australian public health experts and clinicians will visit Israel in September for a high-level exchange of lessons about the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Israel and Australia had impressive achievements during the COVID-19 pandemic – Israel was a model for rapid distribution and injection of vaccines into the whole population and Australia was the first country outside of China to isolate the virus and had one of the world’s lowest death rates from it.
Will Covid-19 Vaccines Continue To Protect Us From Hospitalization And Death?
Vaccines are integral to our control of Covid-19—if not for preventing infection, at least for preventing severe illness and death. But what if vaccine-induced immunity lost its efficacy against new variants on all accounts? Along with earlier work published by MIT, a recent study from Cardiff University places this thought into the realm of possibility. In their paper, Dolton et al. investigate the origins of a SARS-CoV-2 spike protein mutation and its impacts on T cell immune responses in recovering Covid-19 patients and vaccine
A year on from NZ's longest Covid-19 lockdown - The Bay's News First
One year on from the country's longest Covid-19 lockdown, an epidemiologist says further lockdowns cannot be ruled out, instead preparing to do them better. On August 17, 2021, New Zealand went to alert level 4 because the deadly Delta variant had arrived. Aucklanders had no idea that day that they would still be in lockdown till December, and that after 18 months of trying to keep Covid-19 out, it would be here to stay. The city was asked to hold the line so the country could get vaccinated, something critics said should have happened much earlier. Auckland University epidemiologist Rod Jackson was vocal in urging the country to aim high and vaccinate more than 95 per cent of eligible people. Reflecting back, he says New Zealanders responded well, with most areas hitting that mark or higher by the measurements at the time.
Nuvaxovid gets expanded provisional approval in NZ as COVID-19 booster for adults
US-based Novavax has announced that New Zealand (NZ)'s Medsafe has granted expanded provisional approval for Nuvaxovid (NVX-CoV2373) COVID-19 vaccine for active immunization to prevent COVID-19 as a heterologous and homologous booster dose in adults aged 18 and older. Following the expanded provisional approval decision by Medsafe, New Zealand, people may now choose Nuvaxovid as their first and/or second COVID-19 booster dose(s) after completion of their primary series using any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The request for expanded provisional approval for the booster dose is supported by data from Novavax' Phase 2 trial conducted in Australia, from a separate Phase 2 trial conducted in South Africa, and from the UK-sponsored COV-BOOST trial. As a booster for adults, Nuvaxovid is also provisionally registered in Australia and approved in Japan, and is actively under review in other markets. New Zealand previously granted provisional approval for Nuvaxovid in adults aged 18 and older in February 2022. Novavax' sponsor in Australia and New Zealand is Biocelect Pty. Ltd.
Viewpoint: We Cannot Afford to Surrender to COVID-19 Now
Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) relaxed recommendations which I feel neither control or prevent a rapidly evolving and disabling disease, COVID-19. Many of the relaxations appeared to be timed with the opening of schools, ignoring the high rate of COVID-19 related hospitalizations, national deaths hovering just under 500 per day, and the urgent need for a reformulated vaccine, whose delivery is expected in the fall of this year. The relaxed guidelines no longer recommend those individuals exposed to COVID-19 participate in test-to-stay programs in schools. They no longer restrict the mixing of children in different classrooms, and they eliminated social distancing recommendations. In addition, there is no need to quarantine after exposure to the virus, and there are no longer recommendations for routine screening of individuals without symptoms.
Exit Strategies
Covid-19 booster vaccine now available to those aged 55 and over
Appointments are now open for people aged 55 and over to book their next Covid-19 booster vaccine through the HSE or their own GP. This second booster vaccine will be available to those who have already received their initial vaccine course and one booster dose. According to the HSE, boosters protect against serious illness and increase Covid immunity. Those aged 55 and over can now make an appointment to receive their next dose. People can book an appointment online for a HSE vaccination clinic or check with participating GPs and pharmacies to receive their dose. People who are more than 16 weeks pregnant are also now invited to book their second booster dose at either a HSE vaccination centre or a GP/pharmacy.
Omicron Covid booster vaccine will be rolled out from 5 September and finish by December
More than 25 million people will get a dose of the new Covid-19 vaccine tailored against the Omicron variant by the start of December under plans announced by the NHS on Thursday. NHS England said the autumn boosters rollout would start from 5 September with care home residents the first group to be offered a jab by vaccinators who will visit their homes. From 12 September, anyone aged 75 or over, as well as health and care workers, can book in for a booster, with other age groups getting their vaccine in the coming weeks.
Quebec COVID-19 booster rates stay low as province launches new vaccination campaign
As Quebec prepares to launch a provincewide COVID-19 vaccination campaign ahead of a potential new fall wave, it's unclear whether it will be enough to prompt a pandemic-weary public to roll up their sleeves for another booster. As of Wednesday, only 56 per cent of Quebecers aged five and older had received a third vaccine dose -- a number that has hardly budged in months. Government officials have said that the low booster uptake is due to the fact that more than a million Quebecers have caught the novel coronavirus and consider themselves adequately protected. Health experts, meanwhile, say pandemic fatigue and government communication have also played a role.
HHS says it plans to extend Covid-19 public health emergency
State and local public health officials — having not heard differently this week — are expecting the Biden administration to extend the Covid-19 public health emergency for another 90 days in mid-October. An extension would ensure expanded Medicaid coverage, telehealth services, boosted payments to hospitals and other pandemic measures remain in place beyond the midterm elections even as public health experts and lawmakers debate the merits of a PHE that was first declared in January 2020. “The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency remains in effect and as HHS committed to earlier, we will provide a 60-day notice to states before any possible termination or expiration," an HHS spokesperson told POLITICO. The administration has not notified groups, including the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Federation of American Hospitals and the American Public Health Association, that the PHE would end, a courtesy HHS has said it would issue 60 days before the Covid-19 declaration is terminated
Attitudes toward mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in Germany
It has become obvious that sufficiently high immunity to COVID-19 cannot be achieved in Germany through voluntary vaccination alone. On this background, Thomas Rieger and Carsten Schröder from the German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin, together with Christoph Schmidt-Petri from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, investigated the acceptance of a policy of general mandatory vaccination against COVID-19. The scientists also investigated the questions of which population groups are supportive of such a measure, which ones are opposed, and what their reasons are, respectively.
GPs call for 'urgent review' of autumn Covid booster campaign as funding cut back
GPs have called on NHS England and the Government to “urgently review” plans for the autumn Covid booster campaign amid fears they will be left paying for the programme out of their own pockets. The UK Health Security Agency announced it will offer a new Omicron-specific jab, by Moderna, to the over-50s, as part of its latest vaccination programme due to start in September. NHS England had been expected to announce details of the programme on Wednesday but it is believed to have been delayed because of a row between GPs and the Government over how it will be managed. The default contract for delivering vaccines this autumn has been cut from £12.58 per dose to £10.06, while a £10 supplement for them to give jabs in care homes and to other vulnerable groups has also been cut, the British Medical Association has said. Rising staffing and energy costs have also led to surgeries’ operating costs increasing significantly, leaving many wanting to opt-out of delivering more Covid jabs.
COVID-19 booster campaign to start on 5 September, NHS England says
The National Booking Service will open on 5 September to enable those aged over 75 and health and social care workers to book in for their jab, NHS England said in a letter to practices and health leaders. Those aged over 65, carers, household contacts of immunosuppressed people, pregnant women and those with an underlying condition that puts them at increased risk of COVID will be the next groups able to book appointments. NHS England said details on timings for this will be made in 'due course'.
AU, others woo youths to boost COVID-19 vaccination by 70% in Africa
African Union (AU) has collaborated with Trace TV to engage the creative community in pushing its Bingwa Initiative geared at increasing COVID-19 vaccination across Africa by 70 per cent in 2023. The programme, which is also in partnership with the African Centre for Disease Control (CDC), GIZ and MasterCard, has public figures and social media influencers like The Pamilerin, Jenni Frank, Nigerian singer, Chike and comedian, Pencil, among others engaged to promote COVID-19 vaccination championed by African youths.
China’s zero-Covid policy is thwarting efforts to stabilise the economy
Beijing is trying to simultaneously pursue a zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19, reduce debt exposure and ease monetary policy to boost growth. These policies contradict each other, though, and draconian, growth-sapping lockdowns stand in the way of rebuilding consumer and investor confidence
Quarantine hotel rush: Hong Kong arrivals hit a high of more than 7,400, but tens of thousands of non-local students set to miss start of school year
Sunday’s figure of 7,428 airport arrivals was a new high in recent months under city’s eased ‘3+4’ travel rule, but this means competition is fierce for quarantine hotels. City records 5,162 new infections on Tuesday, including 272 imported cases and 11 related deaths
Partisan Exits
French fire service official tells of death threats over Covid vaccine stance
A French fire service official says he has received death threats and been harassed after calling for firefighters who have refused the Covid vaccine to remain suspended. France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, condemned the alleged social media threats against Eric Brocardi, who has reported them to police. Cmdr Brocardi, who is spokesperson for France’s national federation of firefighters (FNSPF), came under attack after saying that in his view, full-time and voluntary firefighters suspended for refusing the vaccine should not be allowed to return to the service.
Covid-19: The government's gaslighting has left vulnerable patients feeling forgotten
McLellan and Abbasi say that we must “face the fact that the nation’s attempt to ‘live with covid’ is the straw that is breaking the NHS’s back.”1 The government’s unwillingness to confront the current reality of covid is also directly impacting some of the most vulnerable patients.
Margaret Ferrier Admits 'Recklessly' Exposing Public To Risk Of Covid-19 With Train Travel
The former SNP MP pleaded guilty to breaking Covid rules by travelling between London and Glasgow when she knew she had the virus.
CDC Director Outlines Restructuring Plans After Agency’s Covid-19 Response Fell Short
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be restructured to strengthen its response to public-health threats, the agency’s director said, acknowledging shortcomings in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that she intended to improve the agency’s communication, timeliness and accountability. The CDC has at times amended its guidance on masking, isolation and other mitigation efforts in ways that spurred confusion or lagged behind the trajectory of the pandemic. The agency has faced new criticism recently for its response to the monkeypox outbreak. “In our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Dr. Walensky said. “I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way.”
Brazil federal police accuse Bolsonaro of COVID-linked scaremongering
Brazil's federal police on Wednesday accused President Jair Bolsonaro of discouraging mask use during the pandemic and falsely suggesting that people who got vaccinated against COVID-19 ran the risk of contracting AIDS. In a document sent to Brazil's Supreme Court, a police delegate said Bolsonaro's effort to discourage compliance with pandemic-linked health measures amounted to a crime, while his effort to link AIDS with vaccination amounted to a misdemeanor.
Planning for COVID-19 vaccine rollout left too late, Commonwealth failed to adequately engage states, damning review finds
A review by the Auditor-General found the Coalition left planning for Australia's COVID vaccine rollout too late. It also found the former Morrison government failed to adequately engage with the states and territories before the rollout began The Department of Health has agreed to the recommendations.
Scientific Viewpoint
Nuvaxovid gets expanded provisional approval in NZ as COVID-19 booster for adults
US-based Novavax has announced that New Zealand (NZ)'s Medsafe has granted expanded provisional approval for Nuvaxovid (NVX-CoV2373) COVID-19 vaccine for active immunization to prevent COVID-19 as a heterologous and homologous booster dose in adults aged 18 and older. Following the expanded provisional approval decision by Medsafe, New Zealand, people may now choose Nuvaxovid as their first and/or second COVID-19 booster dose(s) after completion of their primary series using any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The request for expanded provisional approval for the booster dose is supported by data from Novavax' Phase 2 trial conducted in Australia, from a separate Phase 2 trial conducted in South Africa, and from the UK-sponsored COV-BOOST trial. As a booster for adults, Nuvaxovid is also provisionally registered in Australia and approved in Japan, and is actively under review in other markets. New Zealand previously granted provisional approval for Nuvaxovid in adults aged 18 and older in February 2022. Novavax' sponsor in Australia and New Zealand is Biocelect Pty. Ltd.
Moderna Names New CFO After Hasty Departure of Predecessor
Moderna Inc. named a new finance chief roughly three months after the Covid-19 vaccine maker’s previous hire for the role departed abruptly due to an internal investigation under way at a prior employer. The Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company on Wednesday said James Mock will start as its chief financial officer, effective Sept. 6, and David Meline, who has been filling in as CFO, will retire on the same day. Mr. Meline, who had served as CFO since 2020 and was called back in May, will remain at the company as a consultant to help with the transition, Moderna said. Mr. Mock has led since 2018 the finances of PerkinElmer Inc., a scientific instruments maker headquartered in Waltham, Mass. Before that, he held various finance roles at General Electric Co. over the course of nearly two decades, including vice president of corporate audit staff and CFO of a GE Aviation division, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Covid's Harmful Effects on the Brain Reverberate Years Later
Covid-19 survivors remain at higher risk of psychotic disorders, dementia and similar conditions for at least two years, according to a large study that highlights the mounting burden of chronic illness left in the pandemic’s wake. While anxiety and depression occur more frequently after Covid than other respiratory infections, the risk typically subsides within two months, researchers at the University of Oxford found. In contrast, cognitive deficits known colloquially as “brain fog,” epilepsy, seizures and other longer-term mental and brain health disorders remained elevated 24 months later, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.
AstraZeneca Hits Another Covid Hurdle in Slow Evusheld Rollout
Well over a year after the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines allowed most people to return to life as usual, Mark Oakley is still hiding away in a summer house in his garden, avoiding contact with even his closest family members. He’s had five vaccine doses, but the protective effect has been suppressed by medication he’s taking to tame a lung disorder. He thinks his predicament could be helped with Evusheld, an AstraZeneca Plc drug that protects vulnerable people from Covid by injecting them with two antibodies, but he can’t get hold of it.
‘Covid patients at greater risk of psychiatric conditions up to two years later’
People with Covid-19 continue to face increased risk of developing neurological and psychiatric conditions like psychosis, dementia and brain fog two years after infection, new research suggests. There is also an increased risk of anxiety and depression in adults, but this subsides within two months of infection and, over two years, is no more likely than after other respiratory infections. The study of some 1.25 million people diagnosed with coronavirus found that children were more likely to be diagnosed with some conditions, like seizures and psychotic disorders. However, the likelihood of most diagnoses after Covid was lower than in adults.
Study links reduced myocardial blood flow and COVID-19
Patients with prior COVID may be twice as likely to have unhealthy endothelial cells that line the inside of the heart and blood vessels, according to newly published research from Houston Methodist. This finding offers a new clue in understanding covid-19's impact on cardiovascular health. In a new study published today in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, Houston Methodist researchers examined the coronary microvasculature health of 393 patients with prior covid-19 infection who had lingering symptoms. This is the first published study linking reduced blood flow in the body and COVID-19. Using a widely available imaging tool, called positron emission tomography (PET), researchers found a 20% decrease in the ability of coronary arteries to dilate, a condition known as microvascular dysfunction.
Time to Stop Using Ineffective Covid-19 Drugs
In this issue of the Journal, Bramante et al.6 report the results of the COVID-OUT randomized, controlled trial of oral metformin, ivermectin, and fluvoxamine for the early treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection in 1323 outpatients. The investigators found no reductions in hypoxemia, emergency department visits, hospitalization, or death associated with any of the three drugs. A strength of the trial is the selection of adults between the ages of 30 and 85 years who were at high risk for severe Covid-19 because of overweight or obesity. However, as a result, the trial may not be readily generalizable to patients at lower risk for severe disease. One secondary analysis, which should be interpreted with caution, suggested that metformin may reduce a composite of emergency department visit, hospitalization, or death in this population with overweight or obesity, a finding that indicates no more than the need for further investigation at this time.
Covid linked to longer-term elevated risk of brain fog and dementia
Millions of people who have had Covid-19 still face a higher risk of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including brain fog, dementia and psychosis, two years after their illness, compared with those who have had other respiratory infections, according to the single largest study of its kind. They also face an increased risk of anxiety and depression, the research suggests, but this subsides within two months of having Covid-19. Over two years the risk is no more likely than after other respiratory infections. The findings are published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal. Almost 600m Covid-19 cases have been recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic, and there has been growing evidence that people who survive the disease face increased risks of neurological and psychiatric conditions.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Taiwan confirms first domestic cluster of COVID-19 BA.4 subvariant
The first domestic cluster infection of the BA.4 Omicron subvariant of the COVID-19 virus has been confirmed in northern Taiwan, within a single family, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Thursday. The latest BA.4 infection has been found in the wife of a man who was listed Monday as the country's first domestic case of that variant, Lo Yi-chun, deputy head of the CECC's response division, said at a press briefing. Four members of the family -- the couple and their two children -- all tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago, and genome sequencing has confirmed that both parents are infected with the BA.4 variant, Lo said.
Malaysia reports 3516 new COVID-19 infections, 15 new deaths
Malaysia reported 3,516 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Wednesday, bringing the national total to 4,744,929, according to the health ministry. There were three new imported cases, with 3,513 cases being local transmissions, data released on the ministry's website showed. Another 15 deaths were reported, pushing the death toll to 36,117. The ministry reported 2,541 new recoveries, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 4,667,11
2,143 new Covid inpatients, 29 more deaths
The country registered 29 more Covid-19 fatalities and 2,143 new cases admitted to hospitals during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Thursday morning.
Singapore reports 3762 new COVID-19 cases
Singapore reported 3,762 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the country's total tally to 1,805,698. Of the new cases, 382 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 3,380 through antigen rapid tests (ART), according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health. Among the PCR-confirmed cases, 352 were local transmissions and 30 were imported cases. Among the ART-confirmed cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 3,207 local transmissions and 173 imported cases, respectively. A total of 479 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 11 cases in intensive care units.
China's Covid Cases Surge to Three-Month High on Hainan Outbreak
China’s Covid-19 cases surged to a three-month high, driven by a worsening outbreak in the southern island province of Hainan that has become the country’s biggest since Shanghai was locked down in the spring. The rising number of infections in other hot spots is also causing alarm, with hundreds of vehicles stuck on a state highway in Tibet after a neighboring province refused to allow travelers from the region -- which is experiencing its own nascent outbreak -- to enter. Authorities in the coastal city of Xiamen, meanwhile, began testing fishermen and their daily catches for the virus, for fear that it may be spreading through illegal trade and interaction among fishermen.
COVID-19 hospitalizations due to Omicron are vastly underreported: grassroots organization
With provinces releasing less frequent data on COVID-19 three years into the pandemic, a group of volunteer experts has been releasing their own analysis of cases, highlighting a vast underreporting of hospitalizations and deaths in Canada due to the Omicron variant. Recent figures based on this analysis show that expected hospitalizations from Omicron could be 70 per cent higher on average than what has been reported since Dec. 2, 2021, if the rest of the country reported as Quebec did. "If each province reported in a similar fashion as Quebec, which is the gold standard in Canada for complete and timely reporting of severe COVID outcomes, then these numbers would look very different from those that have been reported," Tara Moriarty, an infectious disease expert at the University of Toronto and the co-founder of COVID-19 Resources Canada, told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday.
Most people with Omicron didn't even realise they had COVID-19, study finds
Most people who were infected with the Omicron variant didn't even realise they had COVID-19, according to a new study from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in the US. The lack of public awareness about being infected means that people can't take steps to prevent themselves transmitting the virus further, which is a major stumbling block for addressing new waves of the pandemic. "More than one in every two people who were infected with Omicron didn't know they had it," said Dr Susan Cheng, a corresponding author of the study which is published in JAMA Network Open.