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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 14th Aug 2020

News Highlights

New cluster of coronavirus cases shock New Zealand

Earlier this week, New Zealand, which had not reported a Covid-19 case in over 3 months, discovered four new infected family members, resulting in the entire city of Auckland being placed under lockdown. Now, the tally has grown to 14 new cases as Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said that authorities are dealing with the situation in an 'urgent but calm' manner.

Covid-19 on the rise again in Europe as countries renew travel restrictions

Several countries in Europe reported spikes in new coronavirus cases, with France reporting over 2,500 cases in 24 hours and Germany recording 1,200 cases, its biggest daily increase in almost three months. Most European coutries are now advising their citizens against going to Spain, with Italy becoming the latest country to introduce mandatory testing measures on incoming travellers from European hotspots.

WHO says coronavirus not spread through food, packaging

The WHO said Thursday that people need not fear the spread of Covid-19 through food or its packaging after two cities in China reported finding traces of the coronavirus on chicken wings and food packaging. WHO authorities reassured people, saying that of the hundreds of thousands of packages tested, only a miniscule number had traces of the virus.

Vaping, smoking, linked to teenagers contracting Covid-19

A study of 4,351 American aged 13-24 has found that teenagers and young adults who had used e-cigarettes and cigarettes were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with the coronavirus. In Spain, health authorities have banned smoking in public places in Galicia and the Canary islands over concerns that it increases the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Lockdown Exit
France's COVID-19 cases at four-month high, health system holding up
France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 infections for the second day in a row on Thursday, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. Despite the rise in cases, which could prompt Britain to remove France from its list of safe travel destinations, the number of people hospitalised due to the disease continued to fall, having dipped below 5,000 for the first time since mid-March on Wednesday. Experts say this is because more young people are being infected, who are less likely to need hospital care. The total official tally of cases now stands at 209,365.
Top U.S. health official says approval of COVID vaccines unlikely before November
Any potential COVID-19 vaccine backed by the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” program is unlikely to receive a green light from regulators any earlier than November or December, given the time needed for a large-scale clinical trial, the National Institutes of Health director said on Thursday. In a call with reporters, Francis Collins said he thinks testing a vaccine in at least 10,000 people could potentially give enough evidence of safety and efficacy to clear it for wider use. U.S. late-stage vaccine trials launched so far aim to recruit up to 30,000 people. “I would not expect to see, on the basis of what we know scientifically, that we would be at the point where the FDA could make such a judgment until considerably later than October 1st,” Collins said, referring to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Maybe November or December would be my best bet.”
Sweden avoided a coronavirus lockdown; now its critics urge more caution to avoid a second wave
Goran K. Hansson, the general-secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Economist Lars Calmfors called for a different strategy to the one of no-lockdown and little restrictions. Sweden had one of the worst coronavirus crises in Europe. “Now a retake is required where effective measures are put in place to protect the population,” Hansson and Calmfors wrote.
20 offices turned into 2,000 individual pods for post-Covid working
Welcome to cube city. Xu Weiping, a Chinese multimillionaire, has a vision for the future of office work in the post-Covid-19 pandemic world: thousands of office pods where each person works in their own self-contained 3m x 3m cube. Xu reckons the coronavirus pandemic will have such a fundamental impact on the way people work that he is converting 20 newly constructed office buildings in east London into 2,000 of the individual cube offices. If the cubes, which feature a kettle, fridge, microwave, videoscreen and fold-down bed as well as a chair and desk, prove popular Xu plans to convert all of his £1.7bn 35-acre regeneration project in east London into more than 10,000 of the individual cubes.
Brazil death toll passes 105,000 – as it happened
Brazil recorded 60,091 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,261 deaths from the disease caused by the virus in a 24-hour period, the Health Ministry said on Thursday (Aug 13). Brazil has registered 3,224,876 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 105,463, according to ministry data. Brazil ranks as the country experiencing the world's worst coronavirus outbreak after the United States.
Bill Gates On Covid Vaccine Timing, Hydroxychloroquine, and That 5G Conspiracy Theory
Bill Gates, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder and billionaire philanthropist, has become, for better and worse, a central character in the story of Covid-19. The good news: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged more than $350 million to fight the disease, including funds for vaccine manufacturing efforts at AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. The bad news: Gates has been vilified by anti-vaxxers and other conspiracy theorists who claim he seeded the virus for his own nefarious purposes. Gates says he’s optimistic about the world’s chances of seeing through the wilder theories and of beating the coronavirus, too. His remarks have been condensed and edited for clarity.
German health minister: 'Certainly' a coronavirus vaccine 'in the next year'
Germany's health minister says there will "certainly" be a coronavirus vaccine "in the next year." Jens Spahn said he was "optimistic" that a vaccine would be developed in the coming months. He did not specify which vaccine he believed would prove safe and effective and added that it was not yet possible to know how long any such treatment would offer immunity against Covid-19 for. More than 100 vaccines around the world are currently in development.
Biden calls for mask mandates nationwide for 3 months, targeting Trump's pandemic response
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday called for immediate mask mandates nationwide for the next three months, keeping the focus on drawing a stark contrast between how he would respond to the pandemic crisis compared to how he says it's been mishandled by President Donald Trump. Trump fired back at an evening news conference, saying, "We want to have a certain freedom, that's what we’re about."
Exit Strategies
CDC warns US faces ‘worst fall’ ever if Americans ignore COVID-19 guidelines
A top CDC official has warned that the US must brace for the “worst fall” ever in the history of public health disasters if Americans don’t follow coronavirus guidelines. “For your country right now and for the war that we’re in against COVID, I’m asking you to do four simple things: wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told WebMD. “I’m not asking some of America to do it. We all gotta do it.” If people fail to follow those tips, next season could be “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had,” he said.
Coronavirus: Spanish region bans smoking over Covid-19 risk
The Spanish region of Galicia has effectively banned smoking in public places over concerns it increases the risk of Covid-19 transmission. It issued a blanket ban on smoking in the street and in public places, such as restaurants and bars, if social distancing is not possible. The north-western region is the first to introduce such a measure, but the Canary Islands has since followed suit. It comes as Spain faces the worst infection rate in western Europe. Daily cases have risen from fewer than 150 in June to more than 1,500 throughout August. It recorded 1,690 new cases in the latest daily count on Wednesday, bringing the country's total to almost 330,000.
UK considers adding France to Covid-19 quarantine list
France on Wednesday reported 2,524 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, a post-lockdown record, as British officials prepared to decide whether to add the country to its quarantine list. But Boris Johnson’s government is not expected to immediately announce on Thursday that British travellers to France must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return, in a welcome development for British holidaymakers. When the UK’s travel regime is reviewed on Thursday, French officials expect Matt Hancock, the health secretary, to say he is closely monitoring the situation in France, but that new travel restrictions would be premature. Malta and the Netherlands, which have higher infection rates than France, are regarded as more likely to be added to Britain’s list. It already includes the popular holiday destinations of Spain and Portugal.
Bengal changes lockdown dates 4th time in a fortnight, sparks criticism
While CPI(M) said the Mamata Banerjee government has made lockdown a “farce”, the Congress said the CM should consult experts before making such changes. The BJP claimed the move has political import, and meant to please a “particular community”.
South Korea installs anti-virus bus shelters with temperature sensors and UV lamps
South Korea has opened a high-tech new front in the battle against coronavirus, fortifying bus shelters in the capital with temperature-checking doors and ultraviolet disinfection lamps. To enter, passengers must stand in front of an automated thermal-imaging camera, and the door will slide open only if their temperature is below 37.5C. A separate camera is installed lower down to test children. Inside the glass-walled booths – which cost about 100m won ($84,000) each – the air-conditioning systems have ultraviolet lamps installed to kill viruses at the same time as cooling the air. Free wifi is also included.
Uzbekistan to start lifting lockdown from Saturday
Uzbekistan will lift its second lockdown starting from Saturday, the government said on Wednesday, promising to restore most services in the central Asian country within days in order to revive the economy. The government reintroduced a lockdown last month after lifting restrictions in June led to a surge in new COVID-19 cases, leaving hospitals struggling to cope. On Saturday, people will be allowed to drive their cars again and hold ceremonies such as weddings for up to 30 guests at their homes. Businesses such as hotels, barbershops and outdoor cafes will also be able to reopen and air and rail traffic will resume, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s office said in a statement.
Kuwait to move to fourth stage of gradual return to normality plan - cabinet
The Kuwaiti cabinet said on Thursday it will start implementing the fourth stage of the gradual go-to-normality plan on Aug. 18 and some activities that were set to open during the fifth stage including gyms, sport clubs, beauty salons and tailors will now be open as a part of the fourth stage. The cabinet also decided to keep the nationwide partial curfew and to resume football activity in the gulf country without the presence of fans. Kuwait decided in May on a five-phase plan to go back to normal life after restrictions the coronavirus outbreak brought to the country.
Finland recommends use of facemasks on public transport
Finland recommended the use of face masks in public for the first time on Thursday as the number of coronavirus cases rises. Prime Minister Sanna Marin said masks should be worn in situations where social distancing is not possible, such as on public transport. People aged 15 or over who will stay for more than 15 minutes in crowded places should wear them, excluding regions where no new cases have been found in two weeks, the public health authority also recommended. Prior to Thursday, Finland had not officially backed the use of masks. Health authorities reported 41 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a daily record since the end of May, bringing the total to 7,683 since the beginning of the pandemic. A total of 333 people have died.
Partisan Exits
Anti Face Mask Protester Delighted Sacked KFC worker reinstated and says “Stop Following Spain”
An anti face mask protester says “don’t follow Spain” as he celebrates the news of a sacked KFC worker being reinstated after refusing to wear a face mask. KFC worker in Bridgend, South Wales, Paul Candlin was dismissed for refusing to wear a face mask whilst at work. Candlin was fired on the spot by KFC bosses as he point blank refused to wear a mask designed to protect customers from Covid-19.
Expats on Spain’s Costa del Sol vent their frustrations saying “we need to move on” from Coronavirus
Expats on Spain’s Costa del Sol are starting to vent their frustration and anger calling for governments to move on and want regulations dropped that are affecting businesses. As the Coronavirus remains at the top of the news on a daily basis, many people now are questioning why countries like Spain and the UK can’t move on. Whilst all countries around the world are still experiencing infections, businesses are still suffering, whilst recessions are at the forefront of minds in many quarters and appear to be adding to citizens frustrations across Europe.
Trump gives the floor to his new anti-lockdown medical adviser Dr. Scott Atlas - who says coronavirus is LESS risky than flu for kids
Trump acknowledged Atlas at a White House event on opening schools. Said Atlas would talk at coronavirus task force meeting later Wednesday. He has advocated for 'herd' immunity. Spoke of the 'harms' of keeping children away from school Argued in April against 'mass isolation' measures. Previously warned against 'hysteria' of school closings
Chinese Citizens Decry Extreme Lockdown Measures in Latest Virus Epicenters
Amid third-wave CCP virus outbreaks in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang and northeastern city of Dalian, authorities enacted strict quarantine rules, with some residents being harshly punished for breaking regulations. Some who spoke to The Epoch Times criticized authorities for their draconian measures.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Lockdown protest stops traffic in Whangārei
Traffic came to a halt in Whangārei this morning as protesters took to the streets to oppose the Government's Covid-19 social restrictions. About 60 people gathered at the Whangārei police station after people from two groups - FACTS NZ and Kotahitanga Movement Aotearoa - held separate marches walking from Forum North to the police station where both groups held a kōrero referencing how the Government's alert level system, among other things, violated their rights.
Brazil state signs deal to make Russian vaccine
The Brazilian state of Parana signed a deal Wednesday to test and produce Russia's new coronavirus vaccine, though officials stressed they would have to be sure of its safety and effectiveness first. The vaccine would have to receive Brazilian regulatory approval and complete Phase 3 clinical trials, or large-scale testing in humans, before being produced in Brazil, said officials from the southern state. Production, if it goes ahead, would likely only start in the second half of 2021, said Jorge Callado, head of the state-run Parana Technology Institute, which signed the deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). "This is a very objective memorandum of understanding on technological exchange. It does not impose obligations, it simply enables us to work together," he told a virtual news conference.
Continued Lockdown
UK's poorest 'skip meals and go hungry' during coronavirus crisis
The coronavirus pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on the nutritional health of the UK’s poorest citizens with as many as one in 10 forced to use food banks, and vast numbers skipping meals and going hungry, according to the government’s food safety watchdog. Food insecurity has shot up even further since lockdown as people’s income reduced, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said, heightening the risk both of malnutrition and obesity as struggling families adopted highly restrictive “basic sustenance” diets that largely cut out healthy foods.
Longer lockdown drove UK to one of deepest recessions in Europe
The UK can now claim the dubious distinction of having suffered one of the highest death tolls from coronavirus in Europe — and also one of the deepest recessions. The second quarter’s 20.4 per cent fall in gross domestic product, shown in official data on Wednesday, was the biggest drop in output in any main European economy over the period. Although a recovery from April’s low point picked up speed in June, output remains 22.1 per cent below its level at the end of 2019. This makes it the sharpest recession in the G7, and second only to Spain among European peers over the first half of the year — a period that captures national lockdowns that began earlier in some countries.
Goa Lockdown News: Police to Crackdown on Night Parties Amid Pandemic as Section 144 Continues to be Imposed
The top cop's comments came days after a house party organised at a villa in the coastal village of Arpora turned into a streetside brawl after youngsters attending the event got embroiled in a brawl with a local gang.
Coronavirus in India: Did men do more housework during lockdown?
Dr Rahul Nagar, a Delhi-based dermatologist, says there's always been "a very clear division of labour" in his home. His wife, also a doctor, did the cooking and was the primary carer for their child. Like most middle-class Indians, they employed a part-time help who did the cleaning and dishes, while Dr Nagar did little bits and pieces. But then came the pandemic - and as Covid-19 cases began to rise, India went into a strict lockdown and their domestic helper was unable to come to work. "Pre-lockdown, for every five hours of work my wife did, I did one hour. But this pandemic has been a bolt from the blue," says Dr Nagar.
Cancer cases surge amid COVID-19 lockdowns
Hundreds of Australians are at great risk of cancer and other serious illnesses because fear of COVID-19 and the current lockdowns has been keeping people from seeking medical help. Chief Medical Officer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre David Speakman said there would likely be “a wave of diagnosis from cancer and a whole lot of other medical conditions that have been missed or not attended to because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Cancer Council Australia reported a 40 per cent drop off in cancer referrals than was usual at this time of year. Mr Speakman told Sky News host Chris Kenny people had been ignoring symptoms and choosing not to see a doctor for fear of contracting the killer virus.
Portugal keeps Lisbon under stricter COVID curbs until end-August
The Portuguese capital and its surrounds will remain under tougher anti-coronavirus restrictions than the rest of the country until at least the end of August, the government said on Thursday. Portugal has reported 53,223 infections and 1,764 deaths from the coronavirus, much lower than many other European countries including neighbouring Spain, where more than 28,500 have died. But although the sunny southern European nation initially won praise for its quick response to the pandemic, a steady count of several hundred new cases per day in and around Lisbon in June and July, after the end of a nationwide lockdown, prompted authorities to re-impose some curbs. Even as the number of infections in Lisbon has fallen again, the government wants to take it slow, especially when some of Europe’s top soccer teams are in the city for a special ‘Final Eight’ UEFA Champions League mini-tournament.
Scientific Viewpoint
Spain's Canary Islands curb smoking amid COVID-19 worries
The Canary Islands became Spain’s second region to all but ban smoking in the streets on Thursday as part of measures to stop a resurgence of coronavirus infections, and other regions considered a similar ban. Smoking will be banned when people cannot maintain a 2-metre (6.5-foot) distance between each other on the islands, which are popular with tourists. Authorities also imposed new restrictions including the use of masks in public at all times, a limit of 10 people in gatherings and restrictions on nightclub capacity. “The last few days point to an increase in positive cases ... We will increase checks to make sure people follow the rules because otherwise it will be our health and economy paying the price,” regional leader Angel Victor Torres said.
EXCLUSIVE: What are risks of rushing a COVID-19 vaccine? Former FDA chief scientist talks transparency, safety
ABC7 spoke exclusively with the Food and Drug Administration's former Chief Scientist, Dr. Jesse Goodman, to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the process. "One thing I always say is expect the unexpected. When you're starting something new in vaccine development. Things occur," said Dr. Goodman, an infectious disease physician and professor at Georgetown University. Goodman led the FDA's response to the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. "This is a bigger challenge than we had in 2009 because we could build on proven vaccines," Goodman said. "We had pretty high confidence in manufacturing quality and in their safety and performance." To put in perspective, it took eight years for an effective Ebola vaccine. It took six months for a safe H1N1 vaccine -- made possible with decades of prior research on influenza.
Israel develops fast saliva test for COVID-19
Israel's largest hospital says it has developed a coronavirus test which takes less than a second to deliver a result. Patients rinse their mouth with saline wash and spit into a vial. It is then examined by a device which shines light and analyses the reaction of the sample. An algorithm then determines whether the reaction is consistent with COVID-19. The team at the Sheba Medical Centre, near Tel Aviv, said hundreds of patients were tested in an initial clinical trial. And the new technique had a 95 per cent success rate. Eli Schwartz is from the Centre for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at the center.
Russia's top doctor quits over 'gross violations' of ethics that rushed through Covid-19 'vaccine'
Professor Alexander Chucalin resigned from the health ministry's ethics council It appears Chucalin sought and failed to block its registration on 'safety' grounds He accused two leading medics involved in the drug of flouting medical ethics
Novavax ties up with SK bioscience to boost supply of potential COVID-19 vaccine
Novavax Inc said on Thursday South Korea’s SK bioscience would manufacture a component of the U.S. drug developer’s experimental coronavirus vaccine in a bid to boost its supply. Shares of Maryland-based Novavax rose nearly 7% in morning trade. Novavax has received $2 billion in funding so far for its coronavirus vaccine, including $384 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). As part of that deal, Novavax has committed to supply its vaccine to COVAX, a scheme that aims to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe. The deal with SK bioscience would help it increase the supply to meet those commitments, Novavax said.
Philippines to begin Russian Covid-19 vaccine trials in October
The Philippines has said it will launch clinical trials of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine after the country endorsed the contentious jab, as President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to be one of the first injected with it. Mr Duterte’s spokesman said on Thursday that trials would begin in October and, if they were successful, the Sputnik V vaccine would be registered for public use by April 2021. The president would be administered with the vaccine by May 1 at the earliest, said spokesman Harry Roque, confirming the Philippine leader’s vow earlier this week that he would be “the first to be injected on.” “It’s not a metaphorical statement,” said Mr Roque in an online briefing with journalists. “He is willing to undergo it.”
Coronavirus: Antibody study gives 'clearest insight yet' into number of people who've had COVID-19 in England
More than three million people in England have already been infected with coronavirus, a new study suggests. A major testing programme, led by Imperial College London, found that just under 6% of England's population - an estimated 3.4 million people - had antibodies to COVID-19 and were likely to have previously had the virus prior to the end of June. This is more than 12 times the number of cases shown by the government's official figures, which state a total of 270,971 people in England had a positive coronavirus test confirmed by a laboratory as of 4pm on Wednesday.
Andrew Lloyd Webber announces he'll take experimental COVID-19 vaccine
Acclaimed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, like many in the entertainment industry, is looking forward to the day when theaters can reopen safely. He has made it known that he will do anything to save live theater. The Tony winner announced Wednesday he's volunteered to help in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Webber, 72, will officially join the vaccine trial helmed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca on Thursday, which has reportedly shown promising results.
COVID-19 is fuelling a resurgence of AIDS, malaria and TB
More than three months of lockdowns have prevented many people from accessing treatments for non-COVID infectious diseases; at the same time, new cases of these illnesses will have gone undetected. Although lockdowns are easing, it will take some time for health care to get back to normal, as authorities continue to prioritize COVID-19. Taken together, this is resulting in a surge of cases. That’s why there needs to be a step change in funding for AIDS, malaria and TB prevention, treatment and research, and greater public awareness of the rising threat posed by infectious diseases. And researchers — particularly epidemiologists — must continue to refine the models that are alerting the world to this approaching catastrophe.
Coronavirus: Vaping teens and young adults up to seven times more likely to contract COVID-19, study finds
Teenagers and young adults who vape may be up to seven times more likely to catch coronavirus, a study has found. Researchers, who surveyed 4,351 Americans aged 13-24 years in May, found those who had used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Those who had used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days were 4.7 times more likely to experience symptoms of the illness compared with those who never smoked or vaped. Among people tested for coronavirus, those who used just e-cigarettes were five times more likely to test positive for the disease.
Coronavirus UK: Covid-19 was 'widespread' across UK in January
The coronavirus outbreak appears to have been ‘widely dispersed’ across the UK earlier than previously thought, one of the scientists leading a study into the prevalence of the virus has claimed. Helen Ward, from Imperial College London, said Covid-19 was ‘spread out’ across the country in January and February – despite officials only catching the first case in late January. Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning, the British physician said: ‘What was interesting (about the study) is that we can tell from people who reported not only having a positive test, but we also asked about their symptoms so we can actually track for most people – the 70% of people who reported symptoms – when they think they were infected.
Covid-19: New trial for England's revamped NHS contact-tracing app
England’s new look NHS contact-tracing app is set to begin public trials today, after months of setbacks. The app will be based on Apple and Google’s decentralised model. NHSX has been working with the tech giants to develop a new version of the app after abandoning its original model in June. Both versions of the app used Bluetooth to track time and distance between smartphone devices, but Apple and Google’s version was hailed as more privacy-centric as it only sends alerts between devices when Covid-19 is detected, rather than large quantities of data being stored on a central database. The trial, beginning on August 13, will again involve the Isle of Wight as well as NHS volunteer respondents in the UK. Then from next week, residents in the London borough of Newham will start trialing the app.
COVID panel expert says local lockdowns may be needed
Agostino Miozzo, the coordinator of the CTS panel of experts advising the government on the coronavirus emergency, on Thursday warned that local lockdowns "may become inevitable if the situation gets out of hand". Italy has seen an increase in COVID-19 contagion in recent weeks, with the number of new cases registered each day going from around 200-300 to 400-500. Miozzo said the danger exists because "there is always a party to dance at, a barbecue to have or a funeral to hold". "400 cases a day are neither many nor few," he added. "It tells us that the virus is here and it is present all over the country. "We still have a manageable situation. But it is a precarious situation and the quantum leap can be very fast and that is the real risk". He also said that Italy's night clubs and discos "must stay closed". "Mass gatherings are devastating, impossible to manage" he said. Miozzo also stressed, on the other hand, that another national lockdown was "decidedly improbable".
Local lockdowns can be successful—here's what we need to make them work
Since then, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases following the lowest recorded estimate in June, as well as spikes in transmission in certain areas. In response, rather than locking down the whole country again, the government has brought in local lockdowns in affected areas.
Russia's fast-track vaccine is a lesson in ethics, human exploitation
Russia recently announced that it has developed an effective vaccine against the COVID-19 virus despite less than two months of testing on humans. A billion doses of the evocatively Cold War-named Sputnik V, Russian officials claim, will be available worldwide by early 2021 at the latest. Given that safe and successful vaccines are often a decade in the making, what did the Russians do to score this victory? Simple, they truncated and skipped the usual trials that preface the release of any new pharmaceutical, and that help ensures its safety.
Russia rejects coronavirus vaccine criticism; UK now in recession
Russia has rebuffed international criticism and skepticism surrounding its coronavirus vaccine, saying that it’s safe and that it works. Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko reportedly said Wednesday that allegations that the vaccine was unsafe were groundless and driven by competition, while Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF, which is backing the vaccine, said U.S. criticism of the vaccine showed bias.
Covid-19 lockdown means 115 million Indian children risk malnutrition
A staggering 115 million children in India are at risk of malnutrition, as the world’s largest school lunch programme has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. When India went under a strict lockdown on 24 March to reduce the spread of the virus, 12-year-old Kavi’s life changed. His mother, a roadside tailor, was no longer able to work and his father doesn’t have a job due to health problems. With schools closed, Kavi began selling fruit and vegetables from a sparsely stocked cart. The cart is now their primary source of income, but isn’t enough for a family of four. “Some days, we just eat rice or chapati with salt,” says Kavi. Before lockdown, Kavi was guaranteed a nutritious meal of rice, lentils and vegetables under India’s state-run school lunch programme. As many as 115 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 were dependent on these school lunches for their daily dietary requirements, which aimed to address India’s chronic malnutrition problem. Of the 1 million deaths of children under 5 in India in 2017, around 700,000 were attributed to malnutrition.
Instead of lockdowns, teach people how to socialize safely
In response to the rising Covid-19 death toll and case counts in the U.S., calls for a national lockdown have been escalating. In an open letter to America’s decision-makers, more than 150 medical professionals urge them to “shut it down now, and start over.” In the letter, they argue that people should “stay home, going out only to get food and medicine or to exercise and get fresh air.” I empathize with the urgency in their plea for people to stay home. I felt helpless watching patient after patient die from Covid-19 while working in a New York hospital in April. In the Northern California Covid-19 clinic I work in, I continue to see patients infected with and harmed by the virus. I, too, am desperate for this pandemic to end.
Using the COVID-19 to influenza ratio to estimate early pandemic spread in Wuhan, China and Seattle, US
In Wuhan, there were an estimated 1386 [95% CrI: 420-3793] symptomatic cases over 30 of COVID-19 between December 30, 2019 and January 12, 2020. In Seattle, we estimate that 2268 [95% CrI: 498, 6069] children under 18 and 4367 [95% CrI: 2776, 6526] adults were symptomatically infected between February 24 and March 9, 2020. We also find that the initial pandemic wave in Wuhan likely originated with a single infected case who developed symptoms sometime between October 26 and December 13, 2019; in Seattle, the seeding likely occurred between December 25, 2019 and January 15, 2020. The spread of COVID-19 in Wuhan and Seattle was far more extensive than initially reported. The virus likely spread for months in Wuhan before the lockdown. Given that COVID-19 appears to be overwhelmingly mild in children, our high estimate for symptomatic pediatric cases in Seattle suggests that there may have been thousands more mild cases at the time.
Covid-19 lockdown extension likely - disease modelling expert
As health officials race to track the the origins of the community outbreak of Covid-19 as the cluster hits 17 cases, disease modeller Shaun Hendy says a lockdown extension is likely. Since four members of the same Auckland family tested positive, a student at Mount Albert Grammar is confirmed to have the coronavirus, as well as three workers from a cool store, a finance company worker and one of their family members. There are also seven family members of already infected people. The Director General of Health says all the new positive cases will be moved to managed quarantine facilities. And all staff working at the borders, including our ports and managed isolation facilities are in the process of being tested. Prior to this latest outbreak, physics professor and disease modeller Shaun Hendy was calling for all those front line workers to be routinely tested once a week. "Everything is still linked to the cold store facility, and that's good news in some ways, because we haven't seen other clusters out there in the community.
EU wraps up talks with Johnson & Johnson to buy potential COVID-19 vaccine
The European Commission said on Thursday it had concluded preliminary talks with U.S. pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson for an advance purchase deal of a potential COVID-19 vaccine the company is developing. The EU executive arm said this could pave the way for the signing of a contract that would allow EU countries to buy the vaccines or donate to developing countries.
People should not fear spread of COVID-19 in food, packaging: WHO
The World Health Organization said on Thursday it saw no evidence of coronavirus being spread by food or packaging and urged people not to be afraid of the virus entering the food chain. Two cities in China said they had found traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen chicken wings from Brazil and on outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp, raising fears that contaminated food shipments might cause a new outbreak. “People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food,” WHO head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan told a briefing in Geneva. “There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe.” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said China had tested hundreds of thousands of packages and “found very, very few, less than 10” proving positive for the virus.
AstraZeneca set to start making 400 million COVID-19 vaccines for Latam early in 2021
Production of 400 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for Latin America could begin early next year, an executive for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) said on Thursday, as the region’s coronavirus death toll stands at nearly 230,000. In partnership with the Mexican and Argentinean governments, AstraZeneca plans to initially produce 150 million doses, and eventually make at least 400 million for distribution throughout the region, said Sylvia Varela, head of AstraZeneca Mexico. Home to some 650 million people, Latin America has registered the world’s highest tallies for coronavirus cases and deaths, with Brazil and Mexico trailing only the United States in record numbers of fatalities. “We’ll be prioritizing the vulnerable populations,” Varela said at the Mexican president’s daily news conference, noting that the pricing, while still not final, was not expected to exceed $4 per dose. That could bring the cost of the first 150 million doses to $600 million.
Seven African countries to start testing for COVID-19 antibodies
Seven African countries will start administering coronavirus antibody tests from next week, a regional body said on Thursday, as part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent. "Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco are the first set of countries that committed to it," said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Addis Ababa. Western governments are using antibody tests to find out how many of their citizens have been infected, in the hope that will help them reopen their economies.
Serum Institute of India Is Ready to Produce a Coronavirus Vaccine
As chief executive officer of the Serum Institute of India, the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world, Adar Poonawalla can produce about 1.5 billion doses a year of almost any inoculation. He has machines that fill 500 glass vials every minute, and gleaming steel bioreactors almost two stories high that can make more than 10 million shots a month. He can claim, credibly, that he helps inoculate 65% of the world’s children, in more than 100 countries, against diseases such as measles and tuberculosis. And deep inside Serum’s lushly landscaped, 50-acre campus, about three hours inland from Mumbai, he’s already brewing the raw materials to make one of the leading experimental vaccines for the novel coronavirus at a scale that could make a serious difference to ending the pandemic.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Covid-19 clusters are inevitable and no cause for undue alarm – Sturgeon
The First Minister said clusters have emerged in Glasgow and Orkney in addition to the one in Aberdeen which led to a local lockdown. A household cluster in Peterhead is also being investigated and has led to the closure of a primary school. Ms Sturgeon told the Scottish Government’s regular coronavirus briefing that provisional figures indicate the upper estimate for the R number – the average number of people infected by each person with Covid-19 – last week could have been as high as 1.3. She added: “When the prevalence across the country is low the R number will be disproportionately affected by outbreaks on the scale of the one in Aberdeen.”
Bolivia’s solution to surging Covid-19 deaths: a mobile crematorium
As surging Covid-19 cases across Latin America leave cemeteries and funeral homes struggling to keep pace, engineers in Bolivia have come up with a solution as pragmatic as it is macabre: a mobile crematorium. The five-metre by two-and-half-metre oven is small enough to fit on to a trailer, and is powered by locally produced liquefied petroleum gas – making it a cheap option for families who cannot afford a funeral service. Three canisters of LPG can cremate a body in 30 to 40 minutes, said the mobile crematory’s inventor, Carlos Ayo, an environmental engineer who says he designed the device to help his country in a time of crisis. “We wanted to help in this pandemic, and one possibility was showing others how to make a crematory oven,” said Ayo in a telephone interview. “Then we asked ourselves wouldn’t it be better if it could be mobile, to move it from one place to another?” Ayo said he had received orders from several local councils in Bolivia, where authorities are struggling to deal with the rising death toll. Crematoriums are only found in the country’s main cities, and even then, many Bolivians cannot afford the fees.
Rising Coronavirus Infections Trigger Renewed Travel Restrictions Across Europe
Italy on Thursday became the latest country to introduce mandatory coronavirus testing on travelers from European countries with rising infections. Most European countries now advise their citizens against going to Spain, or to avoid coronavirus hot spots within the country, in response to a marked increase in infections there. Governments across the continent are again requiring visitors from a growing list of countries to self-quarantine. Seamless travel within the continent is one of the cornerstones of the European Union, and restoring it while preventing a second wave of infections has been a priority for governments. International travel within the continent has gradually resumed after lockdowns were lifted in June, with virus infections at a low point.
Quarantine fears as coronavirus cases surge in France
The government is expected to delay a decision over whether to introduce quarantine measures for people returning from France despite a surge in the number of infections. France has recorded 2,524 new coronavirus cases, the highest number since it went into lockdown and a big increase on the 1,397 announced on Tuesday. Jean Castex, the French prime minister, has said that coronavirus in France is “going the wrong way”.
Young people are driving a second, less-deadly surge of Covid-19 cases in Europe
Europe is giving the world a glimpse at what happens when the coronavirus epidemic is brought under control and the economy reopens: the virus bounces back. Spain, France, Greece and Germany are among the countries that have seen worrying spikes in new Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, a consequence of going back to -- sort of -- normal after months of lockdowns. While the continent's first outbreak in the spring hit the elderly, spreading in care homes and hospitals, these new infection clusters seem to be tied to younger people, who are venturing out into bars, restaurants and other public places. "There is a true resurgence in cases in several countries as a result of physical distancing measures being relaxed," the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement on Monday.
Two months after taming infections with lockdown, Spain faces new Covid-19 surge
Spain’s hospitals are beginning to see another surge in patients, with the health ministry reporting this week that 805 people had been hospitalised over the past seven days as experts search for reasons why Spain is struggling more than its European neighbors. Not two months after battling back the coronavirus, Spain’s hospitals are beginning to see patients struggling to breathe returning to their wards. The coronavirus devastated the country in March and April, with the daily death toll reaching more than 900 fatalities a few months ago. While an enhanced testing effort is revealing that a majority of the infected are asymptomatic and younger – making them less likely to need medical treatment – concern is increasing as hospitals begin to see more patients.
Coronavirus in Europe: Infections surge in France, Germany and Spain
Germany has recorded its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases in more than three months as European countries struggle to curb a surge in infections. More than 1,200 cases were reported in Germany in the past 24 hours. Officials said the rise was due, in part, to people returning from holidays. It came as Germany warned against non-essential trips to parts of Spain. Meanwhile, France had 2,524 new cases in 24 hours, the highest daily rise since its lockdown was lifted in May. The German foreign ministry said it had added a partial travel warning to the Spanish capital Madrid and the Basque region on Tuesday amid rising infections there. Warnings were already in place for the regions of Aragon, Catalonia and Navarra.
Coronavirus: Victoria lockdown fails to stop Australia’s deadliest day so far
Australia was set to record its lowest single-day rise in infections in more than three weeks today, raising hopes that a second wave of cases in the state of Victoria is finally being brought under control. Victoria reported 278 new infections in the past 24 hours, down from 410 a day earlier. New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, also reported 12 new cases, while Queensland announced that it had found no new cases.
New Zealand reports 13 new community virus cases amid outbreak
New Zealand recorded 13 new local cases of the coronavirus on Thursday and said it will transfer anyone infected into quarantine facilities, as the government attempts to stamp out the nation’s first outbreak in more than three months. The cluster of infections in the largest city of Auckland now stands at 17 people and the government will decide tomorrow whether to extend a three-day lockdown there. Health Director-General Ashley Bloomfield told reporters in Wellington that he expects the number of infections to grow, and the mandatory quarantine would help stop the spread of the virus through households. After eradicating community transmission, New Zealand’s 102-day COVID-free run ended this week when four new cases were detected in an Auckland household, from a yet-to-be determined source. Officials are heeding lessons from countries such as Japan and Australia, where a reliance on self-isolation at home has failed to prevent a rapid spread of the infection. Nations such as South Korea have had better success by isolating cases outside of their homes. New Zealand now has 36 active cases, which includes 19 people who tested positive during the 14-day quarantine that’s mandatory for anyone returning to the country from overseas.
New Zealand scrambles to trace cluster, reporting 14 new virus cases
New Zealand was scrambling to trace the source of its first coronavirus outbreak in more than three months, reporting 13 new community infections on Thursday, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had sought to eradicate the virus with a hard lockdown. The resurgence of COVID-19 comes just weeks before a scheduled general election, increasing pressure on Ardern to get the outbreak under control amid growing criticism. Ardern swiftly reimposed tight movement restrictions in Auckland and social distancing measures across the rest of the country after the discovery this week of four infected family members in the city. “Once again we are reminded of how tricky this virus is and how easily it can spread,” she said during a televised news conference on Thursday. “Going hard and early is still the best course of action.”
New Zealand's deputy PM reveals the source of country's shock coronavirus outbreak - a 'breach inside our quarantine system'
New Zealand's deputy prime minister has theory about coronavirus outbreak. He believes the virus was a 'breach inside our quarantine system.' Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office said no connection has been made yet
Coronavirus: New Zealand outbreak jumps again with 14 new cases
New Zealand has reported 14 new cases of Covid-19, two days after the country's first four domestic cases in more than three months. All but one of the new cases were found in Auckland, one day after New Zealand's largest city was placed under a three-day lockdown. The 13 Auckland cases are all linked to the four family members who were the country's first domestic cases in 102 days, the Ministry of Health said. Health officials are working to determine how the four family members were infected. Particular attention has been paid to the workplace of one member employed by international cold-storage and transportation firm Americold, which operates two facilities in Auckland where officials suspect the virus may have spread from imported freight.
Coronavirus: Rapid 'cluster busting' to find Covid-19 outbreak source could nip other clusters in the bud
Tracing cases “upstream” might be the key to limiting the Covid-19 lockdown and containing other outbreaks before they spread, one expert says. An additional 13 cases have been linked to Auckland’s “index case” identified on Tuesday. The outbreak has been officially classified as a cluster, and mass testing is underway across Auckland and the country to contain further spread. However, cluster busting might be easier than trying to find new cases and clusters through mass testing, which usually relies on contacts developing symptoms and proactively seeking tests. Professor Shaun Hendy, the director of Te Pūnaha Matatini, told Stuff cluster busting is an effective approach that’s arguably more important than downstream tracing – or finding other cases in the cluster.
New Zealand coronavirus: 14 new Covid-19 cases reported
New Zealand has reported 14 new Covid-19 cases a day after its biggest city, Auckland, went back into lockdown. The detection of four new infected family members earlier this week shocked a country that had recorded no locally transmitted cases for more than three months. Of the new cases, 13 have been linked back to this family, while one is an overseas arrival who was in quarantine. A three-day lockdown was imposed in Auckland on Wednesday. "We can see the seriousness of the situation we are in," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a news conference. "It’s being dealt with in an urgent but calm and methodical way."
Coronavirus, nine cases at the Reggio Calabria hospital. Community spread.
The nine new cases were detected in the hours following the daily public health bulletin to the Calabria Region and its subsequent publication through official channels. "Faced with this increase, which also involves affected health workers among others - the press release continues - it was decided to ramp up and intensify the Covid-19 safety measures the hospital has already adopted".
Philippines reports 4,002 more coronavirus infections, 23 deaths
The Philippines’ health ministry on Thursday reported 4,002 more novel coronavirus infections and 23 additional deaths in the country. In a bulletin, the ministry said total number of confirmed cases in the Philippines had risen to 147,526, the highest in Southeast Asia, while confirmed deaths had reached 2,426. The Philippines plans to launch clinical trials for a Russian coronavirus vaccine in October after Russia became the first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, drawing safety concerns over the frantic pace of its development.
New Lockdown
Homeless New Zealanders deported from Australia stranded in new lockdown
Several New Zealand nationals recently deported from Australia have ended up homeless after completing their 14 days in managed isolation, the Auckland City Mission says. Colloquially known as 501s, the group was deported after serving sentences across the Tasman and were housed in an "enhanced security" isolation facility in Auckland. But when their quarantine came to an end, some of them didn't have anywhere to go. Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said several 501s had turned up at the Mission in recent weeks. They are among a number of people who have arrived in the city with nowhere to stay and whom the Mission is trying to find homes for during Auckland's alert level 3 coronavirus lockdown. Farrelly said many people had also been housed during the previous lockdown but some had left their accommodation since then.
Hear from mayor after New Zealand city of 1.5M orders lockdown
CNN's Richard Quest spoke with Andy Foster, the mayor of New Zealand's capital Wellington, about the country's response to the coronavirus as New Zealand reported 14 new coronavirus cases and imposed a lockdown in the city of Auckland.
Can New Zealand learn anything from Australia's lockdown?
Over the last couple of weeks, many Kiwis have looked across the Tasman at Victoria with the thought of "that would never happen to us". But as we begin our second wave, should we be taking advice from the situation in Australia? Epidemiologist at Melbourne University Tony Blakely told Mike Hosking the compulsory wearing of masks in Victoria has worked. "Studies have shown up to a 85% reduction by wearing masks. "The numbers have started to some down fast since wearing masks, there's very strong evidence they work. They really are a no brainier."
England’s big northern lockdown leaves residents bewildered
The sight of dozens of customers at the village pub, just a couple of miles outside the spa town of Ilkley, perfectly illustrated the UK government’s attempts to curb coronavirus, while keeping the economy open. This area of West Yorkshire is part of a large zone across northern England, where almost two weeks ago 4.5m people were told lockdown rules were being imposed to contain localised outbreaks of the virus. The rules state that separate households can be fined £100 for mixing in each other’s homes and gardens. The combination of this ban on home entertaining and a government subsidy across England on meals out — designed to give the struggling hospitality sector a boost in August — has enticed crowds into temporary marquees in the car park of the Swan. Amy Sayers, the Swan’s landlady, praised the government’s efforts to balance measures to contain the virus with the need to keep the economy functioning. But some of her customers were not convinced. “It makes no sense,” said Fiona Mann, a local businesswoman having a drink with a friend. “I can come to the pub and meet someone but I can’t have them in my garden.”