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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 23rd Aug 2022

Lockdown Exit
U.S. CDC recommends use of Novavax's COVID shot for adolescents
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday signed off on the use of Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents aged 12 through 17. The recommendation follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's authorization for the vaccine for the age group last week.
Pfizer seeks U.S. authorization for vaccine booster retooled for Omicron
Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech said on Monday they had sought U.S. authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine booster retooled to target the Omicron variant, and would have doses available to ship immediately after regulatory clearance. The request to the Food and Drug Administration was for a so-called bivalent vaccine containing the dominant BA.4/BA.5 variants of the virus along with the original coronavirus strain. It is intended for ages 12 and above.
Fauci, face of U.S. COVID response, to step down from government posts
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official who became the face of America's COVID-19 pandemic response under Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, announced on Monday he is stepping down in December after 54 years of public service. Fauci, whose efforts to fight the pandemic were applauded by many public health experts even as he was vilified by Trump and many Republicans, will leave his posts as chief medical adviser to Biden and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Fauci, 81, has headed NIAID since 1984.
COVID-19 remains an issue as South Florida students start new school year
Students across South Florida are settling into their second week of school and while this is the most normal start to the school year since the start of the 2019 school year, COVID-19 does remain an issue for students to deal with.
Covid-19: Free lateral flow testing ends in Northern Ireland
Free lateral flow tests are no longer available to most people in Northern Ireland. While the scheme ended in the rest of the UK in May, Stormont's Department of Health retained the measure. Health officials announced last week that testing will be more "targeted to protect the most vulnerable".
Japan Considers Downgrading COVID-19 to Less Serious Category
Japan is considering reclassifying COVID-19 to the same category as seasonal influenza to reduce the administrative burden on medical facilities diagnosing and treating people who have been infected.
Kishida working remotely after COVID-19 diagnosis
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will continue work from his official residence after testing positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, senior government officials have confirmed. Kishida, who received his fourth shot of a coronavirus vaccine on Aug. 12, is thought to have become infected while on a weeklong vacation that began Aug. 15. The diagnosis was confirmed by doctors Sunday after the 65-year old began experiencing mild symptoms, including a cough and slight fever, on Saturday. “Given the prime minister’s mild symptoms, we have set up a remote workstation from which he can continue his daily duties as planned,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a news conference Monday morning.
Philippine children back in school as pandemic restrictions ease
Millions of Philippine students returned to classrooms for the first time in more than two years on Monday, after the country lifted most remaining COVID-19 curbs to try and reverse learning losses. Students, all wearing face masks, queued to enter their classrooms and attended flag raising ceremonies in their schoolyards across the Southeast Asian country as the government phases out remote learning.
Exit Strategies
Changi Terminal 5: Pandemic-Proof Airport Closer to Reality in Singapore
Singapore will start work on a fifth terminal at Changi Airport -- regularly voted among the world’s best -- with a revised design that allows it to adjust capacity during a pandemic. The move comes as the city-state works to cement its place as Asia’s primary aviation hub, with rival Hong Kong still imposing Covid quarantines and other border restrictions. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong detailed the plans in his National Day Rally address Sunday. “In the longer term, air travel will keep growing because of the fast expanding middle-class in our region,” Lee said.
Free Covid-19 booster dose campaign picks up pace in Maharashtra: Officials
The ongoing 75-day Amrut Mahotsav campaign across Maharashtra has picked up pace, with the state seeing more than 35 lakh precautionary doses for Covid-19 being administered. In Maharashtra, over 5 crore citizens are due for precautionary doses while 1.7 crore beneficiaries are yet to take the second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine. The campaign to administer the free precautionary (booster) dose was launched across the country on July 15 to encourage citizens to get vaccinated and ensure protection against Covid-19. State health authorities said they have been conducting special drives to create awareness about the importance of booster doses and encourage citizens above 18 to get the shot.
Omicron-specific Covid booster shots are just weeks away. Here's who will—and won't—be eligible
Newly updated Covid booster shots designed to target omicron’s BA.5 subvariant should be available within in the next three weeks. That begs an important question: Who’s going to be eligible to get them? The short answer: anyone ages 12 and up who has completed a primary vaccination series, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson tells CNBC Make It. It’s unlikely to matter whether you’ve received any other booster doses or not before, the spokesperson says — but if you’re unvaccinated, you won’t eligible for the updated formula until you complete a primary series with the existing Covid vaccines.
Brussels warns of Covid vaccination fatigue as it urges fresh drive for jabs
Brussels is warning of a vaccination “plateau” in the EU despite surging Covid-19 cases as it calls for member states to intensify campaigns ahead of the autumn and winter. EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said there was a risk that people were letting their guard down in the summer months and that health ministries need to do more to prepare for wider outbreaks despite understandable “fatigue” in populations about the pandemic.
Paraguayans skipping booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Paraguayan health authorities have expressed their concern over a slowdown in vaccination against COVID-19, with very few booster doses applied. According to official data released Saturday, 47% of the population still lacked the first doses since the start of the campaign in March 2021, while 53% were yet to take the third injection, although they have been available since October last year. “We have a record of 1,766,882 people who have completed the six-month period since the second dose of the basic scheme and have not been vaccinated again against COVID-19,” said Héctor Castro, head of the Expanded Program of Immunization, who also pointed out that most people in that condition were aged below 40.
North Korea imports of Chinese masks, gloves surged before declaring COVID victory
North Korea imported more than 1 million facial masks and 15,000 pairs of rubber gloves from China in July, shortly before declaring victory over COVID-19, Chinese trade showed on Saturday. Pyongyang last week declared victory over the coronavirus,
If North Korea has Covid beat, why buy 1 million face masks from China?
North Korea imported more than 1 million facial masks and 15,000 pairs of rubber gloves from China in July, shortly before declaring victory over Covid-19, Chinese trade figures show. Pyongyang last week declared victory over the coronavirus, ending a little-detailed fight against "fever" cases that had risen to 4.77 million in the country of around 26 million people. It has registered no new such cases since July 29. Still, China exported 1.23 million facial masks to North Korea in July, worth $44,307, surging from 17,000 the previous month, according to data released by Chinese customs at the weekend.
Moderna to supply 12 million doses of Omicron-targeted COVID shot to Canada
Moderna Inc will supply 12 million doses of its COVID-19 shot adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to Canada, the company said on Monday. The Canadian government had entered into a supply deal with the company last year for supply of its COVID vaccine for 2022 and 2023, with the contract allowing access to new vaccine adaptations. Moderna and the Canada have agreed to convert six million doses of the company's COVID-19 vaccine, which targets the original virus, to an Omicron-containing bivalent vaccine.
Partisan Exits
NGOs call on Covid-19 Inquiry chair to probe global impact of UK vaccine buying
A string of NGOs, including Oxfam, have called on the chair of the Government’s Covid-19 Inquiry to probe the impacts of UK pandemic policy on the global stage. In a letter to chair Baroness Hallett today, the NGOs said: “Given the inquiry’s focus on the impact of the pandemic on inequalities, this should include how this has manifested globally and the UK’s role in exacerbating or mitigating these differences.” Of particular interest is the impact of pre-purchasing high volumes of vaccines on global supply, as well as “the UK’s role in weakening the provisions of the Intellectual Property waiver”, they wrote. Signatories also include Global Justice Now, Save the Children UK, People’s Vaccine Alliance, RESULTS UK, Just Treatment, Health Poverty Action, MSF UK and STOPAIDS. Maaza Seyoum, Global South convenor at the People’s Vaccine Alliance, has called pledges to vaccinate the world from leaders of wealthy countries and pharmaceutical firms a “little more than rhetoric”.
Covid-19: People Before Profit MLA slams Health Minister over lateral flow test changes in NI
An MLA has demanded free coronavirus testing be reinstated after most people in Northern Ireland were told they no longer need to use lateral flow tests. People Before Profit’s Gerry Carroll slammed Health Minister Robin Swann for introducing the changes which came into effect on Monday. He described the move, which restricts access to the most vulnerable and frontline healthcare staff, as “short sighted” and warned more people will be put at risk of infection. “Covid-19 is still a threat to the public and the Health Minister can’t simply ignore the problem,” Mr Carroll said.
NGOs call on Covid-19 Inquiry chair to probe global impact of UK vaccine buying
In a letter to chair Baroness Hallett today, the NGOs said: “Given the inquiry’s focus on the impact of the pandemic on inequalities, this should include how this has manifested globally and the UK’s role in exacerbating or mitigating these differences.” Of particular interest is the impact of pre-purchasing high volumes of vaccines on global supply, as well as “the UK’s role in weakening the provisions of the Intellectual Property waiver”, they wrote. Signatories also include Global Justice Now, Save the Children UK, People’s Vaccine Alliance, RESULTS UK, Just Treatment, Health Poverty Action, MSF UK and STOPAIDS. Maaza Seyoum, Global South convenor at the People’s Vaccine Alliance, has called pledges to vaccinate the world from leaders of wealthy countries and pharmaceutical firms a “little more than rhetoric”.
Japan PM Kishida's support tumbles, hit by questions over church and COVID
Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government has tumbled, battered by questions about the ruling party's ties to the Unification Church and its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a public opinion poll.
Scientific Viewpoint
Pfizer, BioNTech Seek FDA Authorization for Updated Covid-19 Vaccine
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have asked U.S. health regulators to clear use of a Covid-19 shot modified to target the newest versions of the Omicron variant. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to clear the shots for use in the coming weeks, in time for a planned fall booster campaign. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot targets the original coronavirus plus the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron, which have become predominant in the U.S. Pfizer and BioNTech said they have begun producing doses of the vaccines, and could begin supplying them to the U.S. government upon FDA clearance for a vaccination campaign that could start as soon as September.
Anthony Fauci to Step Down After More Than 50 Years of Government Service
Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser and the government’s top infectious-disease official, said he would step down in December. His plans to depart come as vaccines and other precautionary measures have helped protect many people from the worst possible outcomes of Covid-19 infection, but the virus’s ever-changing mutations, combined with many people’s fatigue with shots, complicate efforts to move past the pandemic. His departure portends changes at the helm of the country’s pandemic efforts as the Biden administration recalibrates to reflect the public’s changing sentiments, while preparing a campaign for the fall to boost people’s immune defenses against the latest, evasive versions of the virus. “As he leaves his position in the U.S. government, I know the American people and the entire world will continue to benefit from Dr. Fauci’s expertise in whatever he does next. Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work,” Mr. Biden said Monday.
How Small Businesses Tapped Billions in Covid Relief
Policy changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, one of the largest in US history, redirected loans to the neediest communities. An analysis of 2020 and 2021 lending data shows what happened.
Serious health events rare in children after COVID-19 vaccine booster, says CDC study
In the present study, researchers used data from the vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) and v-safe, a voluntary smartphone-based safety surveillance system, to analyze the effect of booster doses of BNT162b2 in US children aged five to 11 years between May 17 and July 31, 2022. The v-safe platform allows parents and guardians of all children under 15 years to report receipt of all doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and all other relevant information. The CDC staff at v-safe call centers encourage parents/guardians seeking medical care after COVID-19 vaccination to complete a VAERS report. VAERS, a passive vaccine safety surveillance system in the US, is co-managed by the CDC and FDA. VAERS documents all adverse events after COVID-19 vaccination reported by health care providers, vaccine manufacturers, and the public.
WHO recommends Valneva’s COVID-19 vaccine for those aged between 18 to 50 years old
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has recommended Valneva's COVID-19 vaccine – VLA2001 for all individuals aged 18 to 50 years old. The vaccine is not recommended for people aged 50 years and avoid, due to limited data on the immunogenicity of the vaccine in this age group. Similarly, there is no data on efficacy or safety for people below the age of 18 years, and vaccination of this age group is therefore not currently recommended. VLA2001 is a purified, inactivated and adjuvanted whole virus SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, employing a similar approach to the flu vaccine.
The impact of the Covid vaccine on periods, from increased cramps to pattern disturbances
The UK has become the first country to approve a dual vaccine, which will tackle both the Omicron variant and the original Covid-19 virus, for use in the autumn. Described as “a sharpened tool in our armoury as the virus continues to evolve” by Dr June Raine, chief executive of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the jab will be offered to the over-50s, health workers, carers over 16, those at clinical risk from the age of five upwards, and those who live with someone with a low immune system. Currently, there has been no announcement of when or if the dual roll-out will be expanded, but if it were, would everyone take another jab? Although we know immunity wanes over time, after 33 million people have had three vaccinations, and millions already had a likely Covid infection (there have been a recorded total of 19 million positive tests), should we anticipate greater apathy, or even hesitancy for those who experienced short-term side effects and think they can avoid them? The NHS says side effects can include a sore arm, feeling tired, headaches, feeling achy, feeling or being sick. You may also get a high temperature. Although these do not impact everyone, and should not last longer than a week. There have also been reports of changes to women’s menstrual cycles: heavy bleeding, increased cramps and disturbance to patterns.
Scientists hope nasal vaccines will help halt Covid transmission
People who receive a Covid booster dose in the UK next month will be among the first in the world to receive Moderna’s dual-variant vaccine, which protects against two strains of the virus. But scientists say there is a misconception that this latest vaccine is an upgrade on what has come before. The evolution of the Covid virus to be more transmissible and better evade immunity is outpacing even innovative mRNA vaccines such as Moderna’s. The current generation of vaccines remain essential to protect us against severe illness and death. But when it comes to controlling infection, we are in a situation equivalent to running at a steady speed on a treadmill that is accelerating. Now leading scientists are calling for a renewed focus on nasal vaccines, delivered through a spray up the nose rather than an injection. They say nasal vaccines have the best chance of being able to halt Covid transmission and bring infections down to a manageable level.
Amid covid surge, Iran approved coronavirus vaccine despite warnings over test results
As Iranian regulators considered endorsing a locally developed coronavirus vaccine a year ago, a top health official issued a stern warning, saying the test results were insufficient and the vaccine’s approval could undermine efforts to contain the country’s raging epidemic. Deputy Health Minister Farid Najafi wrote to his boss that allowing use of the vaccine by the general public before it met scientific standards “is a serious and historic decision that will determine the future of public confidence in the health system.” But the vaccine had influential backers. It was the highly touted project of a company called Barkat, part of a sprawling corporate empire close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Spear Bio’s NAB-Sure™ Test Kit Aids Analysis of COVID-19 Immune Response
Pharmaceutical drug developers and healthcare researchers need innovative tools to understand COVID-19 immune response and validate vaccines and therapeutics critical to managing the pandemic. The newest development in assay technology, the NAB-Sure™ SARS-CoV-2 Neutralizing Antibody Test Kit from Spear Bio, is one such tool. Developed by former Harvard University scientists based at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the NAB-Sure™ SARS-CoV-2 test kit provides a surrogate virus neutralization assay with much higher sensitivity than standard ELISA test formats and cell-based approaches
Long COVID-19 study identifies novel blood markers as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets
World first study utilizing Somalogic SomaScan® assay# to assess up to 7,000 plasma proteins in Long COVID-19 patients has elucidated novel blood markers as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Provisional patent applications have been filed in the United States (US) to seek protection for these new inventions A potential therapeutic marker known to be modulated by ATL1102 in DMD patients has been identified as suggestive of its therapeutic potential as a treatment for Long COVID-19. Collaboration with global leader in the clinical research of neurological aspects of Long COVID-19 Dr Koralnik to continue with application for grant funding
Pfizer told by FDA to test additional Paxlovid course in patients with COVID-19 rebound
Pfizer has been told by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test the effects of an additional course of Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets) among individuals who experience a rebound in COVID-19 after the first course of treatment. The company must produce the initial results of a randomised controlled trial of a second course of the antiviral by 30 September next year, according to a letter from the regulator. The order follows reports of rebounding COVID-19 symptoms after the first course of treatment, which Pfizer said were rare. The FDA said a protocol for the study is expected to be finalised this month.
FDA: Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine Is Now Authorized For Ages 12 To 17
Teenagers will now have another option when it comes to getting vaccinated against Covid-19. And this new option is good because it is in many ways old. On August 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a letter to Novavax, Inc. This wasn’t a “hi, how you doing’” letter. Instead, this letter indicated that the FDA had agreed to modify the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Novavax Covid-19 adjuvanted vaccine to include those 12 through 17 years of age as well.
Neurological and psychotic disorders remain 2 years after infection with COVID-19
Both neurological and psychotic disorders have been found to persist in some patients 2 years after first becoming infected with COVID-19. The risk of some neurological and psychotic disorders remain elevated two years after infection with COVID-19 compared to other respiratory viruses according to the findings of a retrospective analysis by researchers from Oxford and Cambridge universities, UK. Whilst it has become widely recognised that infection with COVID-19 leads to substantial neurological and psychiatric morbidity in the 6 months after infection, it remains uncertain whether these risks decrease over time. Clearly, it is important to fulfil this evidence gap to provide reassurance to patients experiencing such adverse effects and to inform on future health policy service provision. It is also necessary to understand if there are differences in the risk profile among adults and children and finally if these risk profiles differ between COVID-19 variants.
What is the prevalence of bacterial co-infections during COVID-19?
The current work found bacterial pathogens, like Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, among 31.9% of participants, including 32% in COVID-19-positive patients and 31% across COVID-19-negative patients. The scientists discovered no substantial variations in the bacterial infection rates across SARS-CoV-2-positive and negative cohorts. Besides, while the present bacterial co-infection incidence may be greater than those anticipated from many investigations, it was common in the literature for research using nasopharyngeal swabs to find elevated rates of bacteria than those depending on other sources like sputum.
Roche launches COVID-19 test to detect emerging variant of interest
Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol have developed a COVID-19 test for researchers that detects and differentiates the latest sub-variant of interest BA.2.75. The test specifically targets two of the known unique mutations in BA.2.75, which allows clear differentiation against other notable subvariants. Roche is pleased to have developed a test for researchers that provides insights into the epidemiology of BA.2.75, helping to understand its impact on public health,” said Cindy Perettie, head of molecular labs at Roche Diagnostics Solutions.
EMA evaluating Skycovion COVID-19 vaccine
EMA has begun its review of the conditional marketing authorization application from South Korean developer, SK biosciences, for its COVID-19 vaccine, Skycovion, a recombinant protein-based vaccine with adjuvant from GSK.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Marshall Islands Face First COVID-19 Outbreak
Covid-19 infection numbers have recently surged in the Marshall Islands, days after the first detected local spread of the virus. In the capital city of Majuro, total cases have nearly doubled since Friday. Reportedly, approximately 75% of the islands’ rests were returning as positive. Previous stringent COVID-19 restrictions meant that several Pacific islands were able to keep COVID-19 at bay. On Monday, the first local spread was confirmed. The government declared a “state of health disaster”, closing schools and introducing a variety of public health measures.
Covid-19 cases on the decline in Delhi, positivity rate at 7.25%
The highest positivity rate recorded during the current surge of infections was 19.20 per cent when fewer tests were conducted on Independence Day, reported a day later on the health bulletin for August 16.
Pakistan reports 416 new COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths
Pakistan recorded 416 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths from the pandemic on Sunday, its ministry of health said on Monday. The total tally of the infected people increased to 1,566,652 in the country with the fresh cases, according to data released by the ministry. According to the ministry's statistics, a total of 30,555 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan with the three newly reported ones. On Sunday, 16,764 tests were conducted across Pakistan, and the positivity rate stood at 2.48 percent.
COVID-19 tracker: Tokyo reports 15085 new cases
Tokyo confirmed 15,085 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, down by about 8,000 from a week before. The finding comes after the daily caseload in the capital rose week-on-week for the third straight day through Sunday. The seven-day average of new infections in Tokyo came to 24,742.6, compared with 26,379.1 a week before, while the number of COVID patients with severe symptoms under Tokyo’s criteria fell by two from Sunday to 36. Twenty-two deaths linked to the virus were also reported Monday. On Sunday, 226,171 new cases were reported across the country, up by some 47,800 from a week before and standing above 200,000 for the fifth straight day.
UK Covid-19 Infections at Lowest Level for Two Months
Covid-19 infections in the UK have fallen to their lowest level for two months, in fresh evidence the current wave of the virus is receding, figures show. The number of patients in hospital with the virus is also continuing to drop, though health experts warned infections are likely to rise again in the autumn and winter. A new booster jab will be offered to everyone in the UK aged 50 and over from next month, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to increase protection ahead of the future waves of the virus.