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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 29th Mar 2021

Overnight News Roundup

How will people act after getting vaccinated? The complex psychology of safety?

  • People will be struggling with questions about safety having just been vaccinated, wondering whether to change behaviours and interactions, and how to understand just how protected they are and the others people they encounter are - or aren't.
  • In the coming weeks millions of people will confront myriad nuanced and complex individual choices - which gatherings to attend, with whom, and how certain people need to be that we are indeed safe from spreading or receiving the virus. But the problem is, humans are not very good at gauging risks.
  • Vaccines are essential for stopping COVID-19, but they reduce not wholly eliminate the odds of being infected with the virus. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are about 85% effective. Those are high numbers, but no guarantees of safety. For every 20 people who received a Pfizer or Moderna shot, one could still become COVID-19 and become seriously ill.
  • COVID-19 and other viruses mutate, sometimes rapidly. As billions of cells in millions of humans replicate the virus, its genetic material constantly changes, perhaps in ways that potentially circumvent our defences and vaccines.
  • Scientists also aren't sure how long vaccine protection lasts yet, and whether vaccinated individuals can get infected and spread COVID-19, even if they themselves don't get sick.
  • Public health officials have long recognised such complex realities about harm and safety. To address them, they've pursued harm reduction strategies. Neurocognitively people assess risks using fast thinking, or gut feelings. This means we don't see dichotomies of safety in terms of shades of grey but in black and white - which is what is needed here.
  • In the months ahead many people will face complex decisions with no easy answers. Though desires to feel safe against COVID-19 run deep, people need to accept, adapt and alter behavious to far more complex realities, like how comfortable they are that everyone at a dinner party or a bar will be fully vaccinated.
  • Health authorities need to urgently work to enhance public understanding of these issues through appropriate public health messaging campaigns. These messages need to convey the complexities of risk: the fact that being vaccinated is not a 100% guarantee of safety.
  • We need to remain careful. Research suggests that until the vast majority of people get vaccinated AND wear masks and social distance when they should, COVID-19 will remain around us in schools, stores and elsewhere.
How will people act after getting vaccinated? The complex psychology of safety?
How will people act after getting vaccinated? The complex psychology of safety
In early March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people can visit each other or members of a single unvaccinated household indoors without wearing masks or physically distancing themselves. These clarifications, along with the fact that millions of Americans are now getting shots, are welcome news. But how will Americans respond? In the next weeks and months, millions of people will confront myriad nuanced and complex individual choices — which gatherings to attend, with whom, and how certain we need to be that we are indeed safe from spreading or receiving the virus. The problem is that humans aren’t good at gauging risks.
Volatility of vaccine confidence
How can vaccine hesitancy be addressed? Communication about vaccines must be delivered in an empathic manner to avoid stigmatizing those who question inoculation. This requires leveraging established relationships to address concerns of the vaccine hesitant. Examples include the Engaging in Medical Education with Sensitivity initiative during the 2019 measles outbreaks, in which Orthodox Jewish nurses empowered parents in that community to reach their own conclusions about vaccines while listening to their concerns and helping them contextualize information. Also, the University of Maryland's Health Advocates In-Reach and Research network of Black barbershops and salons trains personnel as health educators to encourage customers to pursue healthy behaviors.
COVID-19: Vaccinated people should be able to meet up and go on holidays, says scientist
A scientist has called for vaccinated people to be allowed to meet up with each other and to travel freely, saying there is no scientific reason why this should be forbidden. Professor Tim Spector, who leads the COVID Symptom Tracker app study run by King's College London, said the vaccination programme was successful and now people's mental health needs to be considered. He told the PA news agency: "I think we're actually in a much better place than many people are telling us, and I, for one, I'm not worried too much about what's happening abroad.
Covid-19: Several Vaccine Production Sites Approved in E.U.
Covid-19: Several Vaccine Production Sites Approved in E.U.
The European Union’s stumbling Covid-19 vaccination drive, badly shaken by the recent AstraZeneca safety scare, got a boost Friday from the European Medicines Agency, which approved new AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine production sites. The agency, an arm of the European Union and Europe’s top drug regulator, approved sites in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. It also loosened regulations for how long the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at ultralow temperatures. The moves could speed up the Continent’s lagging vaccine production and distribution, which have been plagued by delays and setbacks.
BioNTech nabs EU approval for former Novartis plant tapped in COVID-19 vaccine production push
On a quest to turn out 2 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty this year, Pfizer and BioNTech just scored a major boost thanks to the European approval of a linchpin manufacturing plant in Germany. BioNTech won a thumbs up from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to start making and supplying partners with vaccine drug product from the Marburg, Germany facility it picked up from Novartis last fall. The regulator this week cleared BioNTech to manufacture messenger RNA—the vaccine's active ingredient—there, making it one of the largest mRNA production sites globally, BioNTech said in a release. Once fully operational, the site is expected to hit annual capacity of up to 1 billion vaccine doses per year, the company said. That's 250 million doses more than BioNTech said the site would be able to turn out last month. The company hopes to produce 250 million doses there in the first half of the year, and the first Marburg-made shots are expected to roll out in the second half of April.
EMA’s CHMP at last backs approving COVID-19 vaccines production plants
EMA’s CHMP at last backs approving COVID-19 vaccines production plants
India tells overseas vaccine buyers it has to prioritise local needs
India tells overseas vaccine buyers it has to prioritise local needs
India, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, said on Friday it would make domestic COVID-19 inoculations a priority as infections surge and had told international buyers of its decision. Reports that India will delay deliveries of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to a global programme to inoculate poorer countries triggered alarm on Thursday, with the head of Africa’s disease control agency describing the continent as “helpless”. India has exported 60.5 million doses, more than the number of inoculations conducted at home, and says there is no outright ban on exports.
India bans Covid-19 vaccine exports to put itself first
India has imposed a de facto ban on vaccine exports as it puts its own needs first. The country is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19, which is worsening rapidly. The Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest maker of vaccines in the world, has been told to halt exports until it can cover what India needs, according to sources in the Indian health ministry and Unicef.
Joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready next year, says top vaccine developer
Joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready next year, says top vaccine developer
Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated ‘proof of principle’ and hope to begin developing the joint vaccine later this year. A joint jab for Covid-19 and flu could be ready for use by the end of next year, according to one of Britain’s leading vaccine developers. Professor Robin Shattock, of Imperial College London, said the combination jab “is in our sights” after successfully combining three existing vaccines into one shot using the RNA technology he is developing. Tests of the three-in-one vaccine shot he created for Ebola, Marburg and Lassa fever produced the “same type of immune response” in mice as if they had been administered separately, he said.
Can one vaccine ward off all coronavirus? Researchers are about to find out
Variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are emerging and becoming dominant around the world. So some vaccines are being updated to allow our immune system to learn how to deal with them. But this process of identifying and characterising variants that can escape our immune system, then tweaking a vaccine to deal with them, can take time. So researchers are designing a universal coronavirus vaccine. This could mean one vaccine to protect against different variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Alternatively, a universal vaccine would target many different coronaviruses, perhaps one waiting in the wings to cause the next pandemic. Here's where the science is up to and the challenges ahead.
Covid-19: Pfizer director says science 'winning the race' against virus
Science is winning the race between coronavirus and the vaccine, Pfizer's UK medical director has said. Dr Berkeley Phillips told BBC News NI it was important people were "allowed to start living again". While the main threat continues to come from new variants, Pfizer is already designing an updated vaccine that will work, he said. Dr Phillips said "incredible progress" had been made in the past year and "we're winning that race". "If you look at what's happening in the UK there are dramatic reductions in the death rate, dramatic reductions in hospitalisations and in the number of cases," he said.
India bans Covid-19 vaccine exports to put itself first
India has imposed a de facto ban on vaccine exports as it puts its own needs first. The country is in the grip of a second wave of Covid-19, which is worsening rapidly. The Serum Institute of India (SII), the largest maker of vaccines in the world, has been told to halt exports until it can cover what India needs, according to sources in the Indian health ministry and Unicef.
The Interview - Top Israeli health official on Covid-19: 'I support giving vaccines to our neighbours'
The Interview - Top Israeli health official on Covid-19: 'I support giving vaccines to our neighbours'
In an interview with FRANCE 24, Israel's head of public health services Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis analysed the successful Covid-19 vaccination campaign by the Israeli government, with 80 percent of the eligible population already vaccinated against Covid-19. "You can get to a point in this pandemic where you open sectors and the disease goes down," she told us. On the vaccination of the Palestinians, Alroy-Preis said the arrangements with the pharma companies state that "we cannot take the vaccines out of Israel" but insisted she supported "giving vaccines to our neighbours."
Coronavirus: UK ‘set to offer 3.7m vaccines to Ireland’ amid EU exports row
The UK is planning to offer 3.7 million Covid-19 vaccines to the Republic of Ireland in a move that could exacerbate its rift with the EU, it has been reported. Foreign secretary Dominic Raab, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis are said to have met privately to discuss the plan, which they see as integral to ensuring lockdown restrictions can be lifted in neighbouring Northern Ireland with the reduced risk of border crossings triggering a third wave of infections, according to The Sunday Times.
Arlene Foster: UK should share surplus Covid-19 vaccines with Ireland
First Minister Arlene Foster has said she believes the UK government will offer Covid-19 vaccine stocks to Ireland once its own vaccination programme is complete. Her comments come as The Sunday Times reports that the UK is planning to offer 3.7 million Covid jabs to Ireland, partly to help lift the lockdown in Northern Ireland. According to the newspaper Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis have had “outline discussions” about the plan.
Should US share its COVID-19 vaccine supply with the world? The White House says it will – but not yet.
Global leaders and residents of other countries voice increasing criticism of the United States and other wealthy nations for buying up most of the world's supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health ...
Hong Kong and Macao suspend BioNTech coronavirus vaccine rollout due to packaging defect
Hong Kong and Macao suspend BioNTech coronavirus vaccine rollout due to packaging defect
Authorities in Hong Kong and Macao have suspended the rollout of BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine citing a packaging defect found in their first batch of doses. Both governments said in statements Wednesday they had received a letter from BioNTech and its Chinese partner, Fosun Pharma, indicating an issue with the seal on individual vials in batch number 210102. According to government figures, as of Tuesday, 150,200 people in Hong Kong had received their first dose of the BioNTech vaccine, which outside of China is partnered with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Macron backs EU vaccine export controls, sees more French restrictions
Macron backs EU vaccine export controls, sees more French restrictions
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday he supported stricter EU export controls on vaccines for drug companies that do not meet their contractual commitments with the European Union. “It’s the end of naivety,” Macron told reporters after a virtual EU summit. “I support export control mechanisms put in place by the European Commission. I support the fact that we must block all exports for as long as some drug companies don’t respect their commitments with Europeans,” he added. Macron said the EU had been late in ramping up vaccine production and inoculations, but was catching up and would become the world’s biggest producer of vaccines this summer.
Coronavirus: France accuses UK of 'blackmail' over vaccine exports
France has accused the UK of "blackmail" over its handling of coronavirus vaccine exports, amid continuing tensions over supply chains. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was asked whether the EU had been "scammed" by sending millions of doses to the UK while its own rollout stuttered. "We need to build a co-operative relationship," he told France Info radio. "But we cannot deal this way." France has called for the EU to implement tougher export controls. Vaccine rollouts have started sluggishly across the bloc, and the EU has blamed pharmaceutical companies - primarily AstraZeneca - for not delivering its promised doses. AstraZeneca has denied that it is failing to honour its contract.
French foreign minister claims Britain will struggle to deliver second coronavirus vaccine doses
Britain will struggle to source second Covid-19 jabs for those who have already had their first dose because of supply shortages, France’s foreign minister has claimed
Cases of COVID-19 rising
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta orders new lockdown to battle COVID-19 infections wave
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday announced a halt to all movement in the capital Nairobi and four other counties on Friday as the COVID-19 outbreak reached its worst ever stage in East Africa’s richest economy.
Covid-19 Cases In The U.S. Are Increasing Again
The state dealing with the most significant outbreak at the moment is Michigan, which recorded more than 6,000 new cases Friday for the first time a single day since December, as its rolling 14-day average has spiked by 25%. The tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut has also experienced double-digit percentage increases in daily case counts. 1,265 new deaths were reported on Friday, but the 7-day average in the U.S. has fallen below 1,000 for the first time since November.
Covid-19: Massive increase in new cases, as deaths continue to rise
The coronavirus infection rate in Belgium continues to rise, while the number of deaths due to the virus is increasing, according to the latest official figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Sunday. Between 18 and 24 March, an average of 4,636 new people tested positive per day, which is a 27% increase compared to the week before. The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is 866,063. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died as a result of the virus. Over the past two weeks, 504.9 infections were confirmed per 100,000 inhabitants, which is a 67% increase compared to the two weeks before.
France sees further rise in coronavirus patients in intensive care
The number of patients with coronavirus in French intensive care units rose on Saturday to a new high for this year, increasing the pressure to impose new restrictions that President Emmanuel Macron says will probably be needed. France had 4,791 ICU patients being treated for COVID-19, up from 4,766 on Friday, health ministry data showed. The numbers are approaching a peak recorded in mid-November during the second wave of the virus, although last spring, when France imposed its first lockdown, saw a peak of more than 7,000. Doctors say intensive care units in the worst-hit regions could become overwhelmed.
Hungary PM says no room to ease lockdown measures as coronavirus infections rise
A record rise in coronavirus infections and deaths keeps Hungary from loosening lockdown measures, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday before his government discussed plans to reopen the economy. Partial reopening may begin after Easter, once a quarter of the population is vaccinated, the government decided, a senior Orban aide said. Hospitals are under “extraordinary” pressure in Hungary, a hot spot as the pandemic hits Central Europe especially hard. Orban, who faces elections in 2022, is balancing the world’s highest daily per-capita coronavirus death rates, according to Johns Hopkins University, with a need to open the economy to avoid a second year of deep recession. “The next 1-2 weeks will be hard,” Orban told state radio.
Philippines’ renewed coronavirus lockdown in Manila likely to sharpen criticism of government’s response to pandemic
The government has been unwilling to acknowledge any shortcomings and has instead sought to blame ‘pandemic fatigue’ and emerging variants of the disease.
Battling vaccine hesitancy
How we can show hesitant Black D.C. residents that coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective
Black Americans are dying at nearly twice the rate of White Americans from the coronavirus. In the nation’s capital, about 75 percent of coronavirus deaths are among Black Americans — despite making up less than half of the population. So, it’s particularly troubling that 44 percent of Black D.C. residents say they won’t get vaccinated. As Black doctors and voices within the health-care community, we have a responsibility to address these views about vaccines. Among Black people who are unsure, the most common two reasons given are worries about side effects and a desire to see how other people respond to the vaccine. These are perfectly reasonable concerns; no one wants to be a guinea pig.
Frustrated EU leaders pass vaccine fight to ambassadors
Suddenly, the EU’s top diplomats — the Committee of Permanent Representatives — look more like the Committee of Pro-Rata Referees. After EU heads of state and government spent hours arguing during a video summit on Thursday about how to divvy up an extra load of 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses, they gave up and asked diplomats to settle the matter. The decision to seek arbitration among the ambassadors came after Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz virtually sabotaged the meeting by insisting that his country receive extra doses, even though European Commission data shows Austria faring relatively well among EU nations in terms of vaccine supplies. There's also the issue that all EU countries, Austria included, had previously agreed to a pro-rata formula that gives each member state an equal chance to purchase their fair share of shots.
Hong Kong exploring ways to incentivise coronavirus vaccine take-up: pandemic adviser
Chinese University’s David Hui Shu-cheong says even more inoculation facilities may be necessary as city makes up for lost time from BioNTech packaging delay Financial Secretary Paul Chan, meanwhile, says economy hangs in balance, calling herd immunity a precondition to jump-starting recovery
Expanding vaccination eligibility
More than 30 states expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility
With national vaccinations ramping up to more than 2.5 million people per day, at least 34 states have made all adults eligible to receive one of three approved COVID-19 vaccines—or plan to by mid-April— as the United States continues to race to vaccinate as many people as possible while variant cases continue to rise. "It's clear, there is a case for optimism; but there is not a case for relaxation," said Jeff Zients, coordinator of the White House's COVID-19 response, today during a White House press briefing. California is the largest state to announce a change in eligibility: On Apr 1 all residents 50 and older will be eligible, and all residents 16 and older will be able to get a vaccine on Apr 15. On Mar 29, Texas will open up its vaccination to all residents.
Foreigners flock to Serbia to get coronavirus vaccine shots
Thousands of vaccine-seekers from countries neighboring Serbia have flocked to Belgrade after Serbian authorities offered free coronavirus jabs to foreigners who showed up over the weekend
Keep Your Covid-19 Vaccination Card Safe — You’re Going To Need It
Keep Your Covid-19 Vaccination Card Safe — You’re Going To Need It
Your most precious travel accessory this summer is going to be a small white piece of paper. Some destinations, cruise lines and major sports venues are already requiring travelers to provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Other businesses, like Krispy Kreme, are offering freebies and other perks to people who can prove they’ve been inoculated. If you are among the 48 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the only proof that you have received your Covid shots is typically your paper vaccination record card with the CDC logo in the upper corner. The vaccination card tells you what Covid-19 vaccine you received, the date you received it, and where you received it — but that information is not being stored in any centralized, easily searchable database.
France and Spain's lockdown vices
France's lockdown vice? Cheese
French households feasted on cheese last year as they turned to home cooking and sought gastronomic comfort during coronavirus lockdowns that shuttered the restaurant trade. The amount of cheese purchased by French shoppers for at-home consumption increased by more than 8% in 2020, compared with just 2% the previous year, according to figures from farming agency FranceAgriMer and market data firm Kantar. That was part of a shift in food consumption in many countries last year as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, with households initially bulk buying staples like pasta and flour, and later settling into home-eating habits with extra purchases of products like butter. In France, mozzarella saw the steepest rise in demand among major cheese categories, with a 21% volume jump, followed by a 12% increase for raclette - a winter favourite eaten melted with potatoes and cured meats.
Spaniards cut back on drink, took more sedatives during pandemic - study
Spaniards cut back on alcohol and almost halved their binge-drinking during the pandemic as the lockdown shuttered bars and nightclubs, a survey by Spain’s Observatory for Drugs and Addiction found on Friday. At the same time, the consumption of unprescribed sedatives increased and internet use jumped, as people spent more of their leisure time browsing, and more youngsters turned to online gambling, the survey showed.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 7th Oct 2021

One Minute Overview

UK readying payment systems to charge for rapid COVID-19 testing -sources - Britain is aiming early next year to be ready to start charging for some previously free COVID-19 tests, two sources close to the health service said, a step one described as driven by the finance ministry's desire to rein in spending. The government and health officials have said that rapid testing, via easy-to-use lateral flow tests, is crucial for tracking the spread of COVID-19, with regular testing of those without symptoms identifying around a quarter of all cases.

Sweden, Denmark pause Moderna COVID jabs for younger age groups - Sweden and Denmark have said they will pause the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for younger age groups after reports of possible rare side effects, such as myocarditis. The Swedish health agency said on Wednesday it would pause using the shot for people born in 1991 and after as data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults that had been vaccinated. Those conditions involve an inflammation of the heart or its lining. “The connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna’s vaccine Spikevax, especially after the second dose,” the health agency said in a statement, adding the risk of being affected was very small. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, said the health agency would continue to “follow the situation closely and act quickly to ensure that vaccinations against COVID-19 are always as safe as possible and at the same time provide effective protection” against the disease.

Hospital system says it will deny transplants to the unvaccinated in 'almost all situations' - A Colorado-based health system says it is denying organ transplants to patients not vaccinated against the coronavirus in “almost all situations,” citing studies that show these patients are much more likely to die if they get covid-19. The policy illustrates the growing costs of being unvaccinated and wades into deeply controversial territory — the use of immunization status to decide who gets limited medical care. The mere idea of prioritizing the vaccinated for rationed health resources has drawn intense backlash, as overwhelmingly unvaccinated covid-19 patients push some hospitals to adopt “crisis standards of care,” in which health systems can prioritize patients for scarce resources based largely on their likelihood of survival.

Canada to require federal workers be vaccinated against COVID - Canada will require federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid administrative leave, the government announced, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau strengthened his government’s efforts to combat the pandemic. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Trudeau also announced that domestic travellers will need to show proof of vaccination to board aeroplanes, trains or cruise ships operating within the country.

Biden to Spend $1 Billion to Boost Supply of Rapid Covid Tests - The White House on Wednesday announced a billion-dollar investment in at-home rapid coronavirus tests that it said would help quadruple their availability by later this year. By December, 200 million rapid tests will be available to Americans each month, with tens of millions more arriving on the market in the coming weeks, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, said at a news conference. Mr. Zients also said the administration would double the number of sites in the federal government’s free pharmacy testing program, to 20,000. The changes reflect the administration’s growing emphasis on at-home testing as a tool for slowing the spread of Covid-19.

Misinformation On Covid, Vaccines 'Resulting In People Dying', WHO Warns - The World Health Organization's Covid-19 chief warned Tuesday 'We're not out of the woods' in the fight against the pandemic, even if many people thought it was nearly over. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for WHO's Covid-19, said last week 3.1 million known new cases were reported to the UN health agency, and 54,000 more deaths -- though the true numbers would be much higher. 'The situation is still incredibly dynamic. And it's dynamic because we don't have control over this virus,' she said during a live presentation on the WHO's social media channels. 'We're not out of the woods. We're very much in the middle of this pandemic. But where in the middle... we're not quite sure yet, because frankly we're not using the tools we have right now to get us closer to the end.' She added: 'What I really struggle with is in some cities we see ICUs (intensive care units) and hospitals full and people dying -- yet on the streets people are acting like it's completely over.

Booster shot improves immune response of chemotherapy patients; post-COVID depression helped by widely used drugs - A new study helps quantify the improved protection against COVID-19 achieved with a third booster dose of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. 'Chemotherapy can weaken the ability of cancer patients to fight off infections and to respond appropriately to vaccines,' said Deepta Bhattacharya of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, coauthor of the study reported in Nature Medicine. Her team studied 53 patients receiving chemotherapy for solid-tumor cancers who received two shots of the vaccine. Almost all of the subjects had an immune response after vaccination. But 'the magnitude of these responses was worse than in people without cancer in almost every metric that we measured,' Bhattacharya said. 'In all likelihood, this leaves cancer patients more susceptible to infection and COVID-19 than healthy vaccinated people.' The researchers were able to bring back 20 of the study participants for a third vaccine dose, to see if immune responses would improve.

Long COVID may affect almost 37% of COVID-19 patients - Individuals with long COVID exhibit lingering symptoms, such as fatigue and brain fog, that persist beyond the typical recovery period of 3–4 weeks after the symptom onset. A recent study assessed the incidence of long COVID symptoms using data extracted from de-identified electronic health records. The study found that more than one in three individuals experienced long COVID symptoms 3–6 months after receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis. The study also reports that women, older adults, and individuals with severe illness during the initial phase of a SARS-CoV-2 infection had an increased likelihood of experiencing long COVID symptoms.

Covid-19 reinfection rate remains low, analysis shows - The rate of Covid-19 reinfections “remains low”, according to new analysis. When people do get infected for a second time, the virus is much less likely to cause serious illness, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Reinfections become more likely as time goes on, the analysis suggested. It also highlighted how some people are more likely to be reinfected than others. Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “The analysis shows that the estimated number of Covid-19 reinfections in the UK remains low.

Italy says mRNA COVID jab effectiveness stable after 7 months, but not for all  - Seven months after the second dose, there is no reduction in the efficacy of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in the general population in Italy, while a slight decline is seen for some specific groups, the National Health Institute (ISS) said on Wednesday. The report led by ISS and the health ministry examined data up to Aug. 29 from more than 29 million people who had received two doses of an mRNA vaccine such as those produced by Pfizer and Moderna. It said that in the general population, effectiveness against infection after seven months remained at 89%, while against hospitalisation and death, this time six months after the second dose, it remained at 96% and 99% respectively.

Fears of COVID surge in Vietnam as workers flee Ho Chi Minh City - Tens of thousands of Vietnamese who once made a living in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s COVID-19 epicentre, are returning to their home provinces in desperation after authorities lifted a strict stay-at-home order last week, raising fears that the highly infectious Delta variant could spread in parts of the country where vaccination rates remain low. The mass exodus, which began on Friday, has left local officials in the Mekong Delta region and the Central Highlands scrambling to track and quarantine the returnees, many of whom had weathered months of lockdown without work or sufficient food in Ho Chi Minh City and its surrounding provinces.

Poland's daily COVID-19 cases up by 70% past in week deputy minister - Poland's daily COVID-19 cases have risen by around 70% in the past week to over 2,000, a government official said on Wednesday, warning the country that a fourth wave of the outbreak is gathering pace. Poland's health service was stretched to its limits in the spring by a third wave of the pandemic that saw daily cases exceed 35,000, but authorities believe vaccinations will help control the number of infections this autumn. 'Today's data is a very fast flashing red light,' Waldemar Kraska, a deputy health minister, told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1, adding that there were 2,085 cases reported on Wednesday.

Lockdown Exit
UK readying payment systems to charge for rapid COVID-19 testing -sources
Britain is aiming early next year to be ready to start charging for some previously free COVID-19 tests, two sources close to the health service said, a step one described as driven by the finance ministry's desire to rein in spending. The government and health officials have said that rapid testing, via easy-to-use lateral flow tests, is crucial for tracking the spread of COVID-19, with regular testing of those without symptoms identifying around a quarter of all cases.
China Is Last Holdout on Covid-Zero Strategy
For much of the pandemic, a group of places in the Asia-Pacific brought infections to zero, becoming virus-free havens in a world ravaged by the pathogen. Now, with the rise of the delta variant and the proliferation of vaccines, only one is still holding fast to that goal of eliminating Covid-19: China. With New Zealand preparing to shift away from the zero-tolerance strategy, China’s isolation is complete, raising the stakes on how long it can stick to a playbook that requires closed borders, abrupt lockdowns, and repeated disruption of social and economic activity. One by one, Covid Zero places like Singapore and Australia have decided that the approach is unsustainable, pivoting instead to vaccination to protect people from serious illness and death while easing off on attempts to control the number of infections.
BofA Gives $200 to Merrill Staff Who Confirm Vaccination Status
Bank of America Corp. is offering $200 awards to Merrill Lynch Wealth Management branch employees who return to the workplace and confirm they’re fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The company will give the award to client associates, administrative support and operations staff “in recognition of the important work they are doing as the business has transitioned back into the office,” a Merrill spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg News. While the new policy stops short of being a mandate like those put in place by United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Microsoft Corp., Bank of America is following other U.S. companies in providing a financial incentive to get the shots. Delta Air Lines Inc. is imposing a $200 monthly surcharge on employees who aren’t vaccinated.
Sweden, Denmark pause Moderna COVID jabs for younger age groups
Sweden and Denmark have said they will pause the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for younger age groups after reports of possible rare side effects, such as myocarditis. The Swedish health agency said on Wednesday it would pause using the shot for people born in 1991 and after as data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults that had been vaccinated. Those conditions involve an inflammation of the heart or its lining. “The connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna’s vaccine Spikevax, especially after the second dose,” the health agency said in a statement, adding the risk of being affected was very small. Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist, said the health agency would continue to “follow the situation closely and act quickly to ensure that vaccinations against COVID-19 are always as safe as possible and at the same time provide effective protection” against the disease.
The stages of pandemic emotion: from horror to hope to rage — and now, an anxious optimism
The first days of summer this year saw Americans jubilant, as Covid-19 cases plummeted across the country. The sentiment morphed to anger as the Delta variant exploded, and as vaccine holdouts prolonged the pain of the pandemic — and then to despair, that even with remarkably protective shots, some communities with low vaccine coverage endured their worst stretches of the crisis. Now, with trend lines heading in the right direction, we’re moving toward a kind of timid optimism. “People are almost holding their breath,” said Columbia University epidemiologist Wafaa El-Sadr. “They’re encouraged, but at the same time, they’re hypervigilant. It’s really a result of prior experiences.” There are reasons to allow, at least partially, for an exhale. The Southern states that witnessed horrific summertime waves have seen them subside, after the Delta variant swept through so many of the people who remained susceptible. Nationally, cases have fallen by a third in recent weeks, and have been dropping for enough time that now deaths are coming down. Hospitalizations have declined to below 75,000 for the first time in weeks. All those metrics got so high, however, that they have quite a ways to plunge to reach the levels of June.
Los Angeles requires proof of vaccination to enter many businesses, one of the nation’s strictest rules.
Los Angeles will require most people to provide proof of full coronavirus vaccination to enter a range of indoor businesses, including restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and salons, in one of the nation’s strictest vaccine rules. The new law, which was approved by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, will allow people with medical conditions that do not allow them to be vaccinated, or who have a sincerely held religious objection, to instead show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the preceding 72 hours. It will take effect on Nov. 4, which city officials have said should give the city and businesses enough time to figure out how the rule should be enforced.
Exit Strategies
Canada to require federal workers be vaccinated against COVID
Canada will require federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid administrative leave, the government announced, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau strengthened his government’s efforts to combat the pandemic. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday morning, Trudeau also announced that domestic travellers will need to show proof of vaccination to board aeroplanes, trains or cruise ships operating within the country.
Biden to Spend $1 Billion to Boost Supply of Rapid Covid Tests
The White House on Wednesday announced a billion-dollar investment in at-home rapid coronavirus tests that it said would help quadruple their availability by later this year. By December, 200 million rapid tests will be available to Americans each month, with tens of millions more arriving on the market in the coming weeks, Jeffrey D. Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 coordinator, said at a news conference. Mr. Zients also said the administration would double the number of sites in the federal government’s free pharmacy testing program, to 20,000. The changes reflect the administration’s growing emphasis on at-home testing as a tool for slowing the spread of Covid-19.
COVID-19 infections dropping throughout the Americas, more vaccine needed, says health agency
The number of new COVID-19 infections has been dropping over the past month throughout the Americas, even though only 37% of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean are fully vaccinated, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said. PAHO also said it has closed vaccine supply agreements with Sinovac and AstraZeneca for the delivery of 8.5 million doses this year, and with China's Sinopharm for next year. Jamaica, Nicaragua and Haiti have yet to reach even 10% vaccination coverage, PAHO said.
Los Angeles poised to enact strict vaccination mandate
Los Angeles leaders approved one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates — a sweeping measure that requires the shots for everyone entering bars, restaurants, nail salons, gyms or even a Lakers game. The City Council voted 11-2 in favor of the ordinance that will require proof of full vaccination starting Nov. 4. The move came after the council postponed a vote last week to deal with concerns ranging from who could be fined for violations to whether employees could end up in fist-fights when they have to serve as vaccine door monitors. Some critics charge that a mandate would amount to segregation of those who cannot or refuse to be vaccinated. Others call it unenforceable.
Hospital system says it will deny transplants to the unvaccinated in 'almost all situations'
A Colorado-based health system says it is denying organ transplants to patients not vaccinated against the coronavirus in “almost all situations,” citing studies that show these patients are much more likely to die if they get covid-19. The policy illustrates the growing costs of being unvaccinated and wades into deeply controversial territory — the use of immunization status to decide who gets limited medical care. The mere idea of prioritizing the vaccinated for rationed health resources has drawn intense backlash, as overwhelmingly unvaccinated covid-19 patients push some hospitals to adopt “crisis standards of care,” in which health systems can prioritize patients for scarce resources based largely on their likelihood of survival.
‘Complex EU’ leads Europe to diverge from US on coronavirus vaccine booster
The world's two leading medicines regulators have reached different decisions on a third dose of the BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine — and it’s partly because of the complexity of the EU, according to the European Medicines Agency. On September 22, the U.S. FDA authorized the use of the vaccine as a third, or booster, dose for all over 65s, and only those over 18 who are at greater risk from infection, such as those with underlying illnesses or frequently exposed to the virus, like health workers. By contrast, the European Medicines Agency said on Monday that the third dose can be given to all healthy people over 18 at least six months after their second dose.
England urged to step up vaccinations to avoid winter Covid surge
The distribution of Covid boosters for the most vulnerable people and second shots of vaccine for teenagers should be accelerated to help prevent a winter surge of coronavirus overburdening the NHS, a senior scientist has said. Prof Neil Ferguson said England’s vaccine strategy had been “cautious” in recent months, with many teenagers having only one jab, and boosters for the most vulnerable people given no sooner than six months after their second dose. Ferguson said it was unclear whether the winter would bring another substantial wave of infections, but with new cases already high, at about 30,000 a day, even a moderate rise could put the NHS under pressure.
The Psychological Benefits of COVID-19 Boosters
Scientists don’t agree on whether approving COVID-19 boosters for certain non-elderly Americans, as the CDC did recently, was the right move. The president, the CDC, and the FDA have issued a series of conflicting statements on the issue. Some experts have indignantly resigned. Others have published frustrated op-eds. President Joe Biden, who got a booster shot this week and called on other eligible Americans to do the same, remains enthusiastic. The split between Biden-administration scientists, such as Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and other scientists over boosters might seem confusing. One possible explanation for it has largely escaped notice: Vaccinated Americans seem to really want boosters, which means that the shots could have benefits that go well beyond extra protection against COVID. Those benefits could be psychological and economic—and, for the president, political.
Kazakhstan to buy 4 mln doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
Kazakhstan has signed a deal to buy about 4 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, healthcare minister Alexei Tsoi said. The Central Asian nation's government has said it will offer the Pfizer shots, at least initially, only to children aged 12 and older, and to pregnant women.
Covid-19: Paul Givan hopes winter contingency plan not needed
First Minister Paul Givan has said he hopes Northern Ireland's government will not have to deploy contingency coronavirus plans to help manage health pressures this winter. The executive will meet on Thursday to look at the remaining Covid-19 rules. Those include social distancing in hospitality venues and mandatory wearing of face coverings. Mr Givan said he hoped there would be the "headspace" to approve more relaxations.
Vaccines are here. School’s open. Some parents still agonize
Online school disrupted kids’ educations and parents’ work. Then the return of in-person school this year brought rising exposures and community tension as parents fought over proper protocols. The politicization of masks, vaccines and shutdowns have worn many parents out. Deciding what’s OK for children to do and what isn’t can feel fraught. Schools are, for many, a constant worry. There’s evidence that masks in schools help reduce virus spread, and a majority of Americans support requiring masks for students and teachers. But that breaks down sharply along partisan lines.
Partisan Exits
Canada to put federal workers who refuse COVID-19 vaccination on unpaid leave
Canada will place unvaccinated federal employees on unpaid leave and require COVID-19 shots for air, train and ship passengers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, as he unveiled one of the world's strictest vaccine mandate policies. Federal employees will be required to declare their full vaccination status through an online portal by Oct. 29. Workers and passengers age 12 and older on trains, planes and marine transport operating domestically - which are federally regulated - must show they have been inoculated by Oct. 30.
New Hampshire lawmaker made the absurd claim that COVID-19 vaccines contain a 'living organism with tentacles'
A New Hampshire lawmaker circulated the groundless and absurd claim that coronavirus vaccines contain a "living organism with tentacles." Rep. Ken Weyler, a Republican appears to support the claim made in a 52-page report he emailed to other lawmakers, prompting calls for his removal as the head of a government committee. State Rep. Mary Jane Wallner, a Democrat, on Monday released a statement describing the document she said was sent to her and other lawmakers.
Covid-19: 'You can't be forced into doing anything' - Dallas, McGinn & Baraclough on vaccine debate
Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough and players Stuart Dallas and Niall McGinn give their opinions on whether footballers should be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Anti-vaxxers tear down Covid testing site in New York
Two anti-vaxx demonstrators attacked a Covid-19 testing site on Monday, during a protest against New York state’s vaccine mandate. A video caught the men in Union Square flipping over a table next to a mobile coronavirus testing van, tearing down the tent erected next to it and tossing a chair, before police intervened to stop them permanently destroying any property. Protesters at the rally shouted “boo” and “shame on you” at the staff member working at the Covid-19 testing site as they went past, followed by chants of “no vaccine mandate”.
Hearings resume on Ohio House anti-vaccine mandate bill
The right of individuals to decline the coronavirus vaccine and the right of businesses to require it as a condition of employment are at the center of debate over proposed House Republican legislation limiting employers’ ability to mandate COVID-19 vaccination. Lawmakers on Wednesday began additional hearings on the bill after a failed effort last week to fast-track a full House vote on the legislation. All major business and health care organizations oppose the legislation that would allow public and private sector employees to seek exemptions from employer-mandated coronavirus vaccines. The hearing is meant to explore “the line between personal freedom and company rights to mandate your vaccination in terms of employment,” said House Commerce and Labor Chairman Dick Stein, a Norwalk Republican.
Texas man sentenced to 15 months in prison for posting Covid-19 hoax on social media
A Texas man was sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for spreading a hoax related to Covid-19 on social media, prosecutors said. Evidence showed Christopher Charles Perez, 40, posted two threatening messages on Facebook in April 2020, falsely claiming he paid someone infected with Covid-19 to "lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio area to scare people away" from the businesses, the US Attorney's Office in the Western District of Texas said in a news release Monday.
Covid-19: Nurseries demanding ‘invasive’ PCR tests on toddlers ‘should be challenged in court’
Children as young as two who develop coughing or a high temperature are having to endure “invasive” PCR tests by nurseries who are going further than Government guidelines state, according to a leading public health expert. Allyson Pollock, clinical professor of public health at Newcastle University, said it is “madness” that children who develop common cold symptoms are not allowed to return to the setting until they have a negative swab test – and that the issue should be challenged in court. Department for Education guidelines state that any child who develops symptoms, however mild, should be sent home where they should follow public health advice. Children aged under 5 years old who are identified as close contacts of someone with Covid will only be advised to take a PCR test if the positive case is in their own household.
Misinformation On Covid, Vaccines "Resulting In People Dying", WHO Warns
The World Health Organization's Covid-19 chief warned Tuesday "We're not out of the woods" in the fight against the pandemic, even if many people thought it was nearly over. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for WHO's Covid-19, said last week 3.1 million known new cases were reported to the UN health agency, and 54,000 more deaths -- though the true numbers would be much higher. "The situation is still incredibly dynamic. And it's dynamic because we don't have control over this virus," she said during a live presentation on the WHO's social media channels. "We're not out of the woods. We're very much in the middle of this pandemic. But where in the middle... we're not quite sure yet, because frankly we're not using the tools we have right now to get us closer to the end." She added: "What I really struggle with is in some cities we see ICUs (intensive care units) and hospitals full and people dying -- yet on the streets people are acting like it's completely over.
Scientific Viewpoint
Booster shot improves immune response of chemotherapy patients; post-COVID depression helped by widely used drugs
A new study helps quantify the improved protection against COVID-19 achieved with a third booster dose of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. "Chemotherapy can weaken the ability of cancer patients to fight off infections and to respond appropriately to vaccines," said Deepta Bhattacharya of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, coauthor of the study reported in Nature Medicine. Her team studied 53 patients receiving chemotherapy for solid-tumor cancers who received two shots of the vaccine. Almost all of the subjects had an immune response after vaccination. But "the magnitude of these responses was worse than in people without cancer in almost every metric that we measured," Bhattacharya said. "In all likelihood, this leaves cancer patients more susceptible to infection and COVID-19 than healthy vaccinated people." The researchers were able to bring back 20 of the study participants for a third vaccine dose, to see if immune responses would improve.
FDA Is Reviewing Data on Mixing and Matching Boosters, Fauci Says
A study of adults who received booster doses of different Covid-19 vaccines than their original shots has been completed, Fauci said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power with David Westin,” and the data have been presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The National Institutes of Health study looked at the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of mixing and matching of the three U.S. authorized vaccines for booster purposes. The vaccine from partners Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE has been cleared as a booster for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and immunocompromised. Next up for the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is consideration of boosters from Moderna Inc. and Johnson & Johnson.
Sweden Halts Moderna's Covid Vaccine for People Aged 30 or Under
Sweden and Denmark decided to halt vaccinations with Moderna Inc.’s Covid-19 shot for younger people because of potential side effects. The Swedish health authority Wednesday cited new data on the increased risk of heart inflammation as a reason for the pause for those aged 30 and under. Denmark will stop giving the shot to those younger than 18. Moderna shares fell as much as 5.3% in New York trading. “We are monitoring the situation closely and are acting rapidly to ensure that Covid-19 vaccinations are constantly as safe as possible, while also providing protection,” said Anders Tegnell, Sweden’s chief epidemiologist.
Italy says mRNA COVID jab effectiveness stable after 7 months, but not for all
Seven months after the second dose, there is no reduction in the efficacy of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines in the general population in Italy, while a slight decline is seen for some specific groups, the National Health Institute (ISS) said on Wednesday. The report led by ISS and the health ministry examined data up to Aug. 29 from more than 29 million people who had received two doses of an mRNA vaccine such as those produced by Pfizer and Moderna. It said that in the general population, effectiveness against infection after seven months remained at 89%, while against hospitalisation and death, this time six months after the second dose, it remained at 96% and 99% respectively.
Sweden pauses use of Moderna COVID vaccine, cites rare side effects
Sweden will pause the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for people born 1991 and later after reports of possible rare side effects, such as myocarditis, the Swedish health agency said on Wednesday. "The Swedish Public Health Agency has decided to suspend the use of Moderna's vaccine Spikevax, for everyone born 1991 and later, for precautionary reasons," it said in a statement. "The cause is signals of an increased risk of side effects such as myocarditis and pericarditis. However, the risk of being affected is very small," it said.
Scancell Doses First Subject in Coronavirus Vaccine Trial
Scancell Holdings PLC said Tuesday that it has dosed its first subject in its clinical trial for its Scov1 and Scov2 vaccine candidates, which aim to protect against all Covid-19 variants of concern. The biopharmaceutical company said that the first patient was dosed in South Africa as part of the program dubbed Covidity, and the candidate was administered using the PharmJet needle-free injection system. The objectives of the first part of the trial are to assess the safety and immunogenicity of Scov1 and Scov2, which target the original virus and variant viruses respectively, in healthy, non-vaccinated subjects.
Merck says deal signed with Singapore on COVID-19 antiviral pill
Merck announced on Wednesday a supply and purchase agreement that will provide Singapore with access to its experimental oral COVID-19 antiviral drug, the latest Asian country to try to snap up supplies. Molnupiravir is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus and would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19. Merck is seeking approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the pill.Singapore's health ministry did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation of the Merck agreement.
Long COVID may affect almost 37% of COVID-19 patients
Individuals with long COVID exhibit lingering symptoms, such as fatigue and brain fog, that persist beyond the typical recovery period of 3–4 weeks after the symptom onset. A recent study assessed the incidence of long COVID symptoms using data extracted from de-identified electronic health records. The study found that more than one in three individuals experienced long COVID symptoms 3–6 months after receiving a COVID-19 diagnosis. The study also reports that women, older adults, and individuals with severe illness during the initial phase of a SARS-CoV-2 infection had an increased likelihood of experiencing long COVID symptoms.
Australia's Ellume recalls some COVID-19 test kits over false positives
Australian diagnostic test maker Ellume has recalled some lots of its COVID-19 home test, saying they may show false-positive results due to a recently identified manufacturing issue. The company said of the 427,000 tests that were affected, it had recalled about 195,000 tests as they were unused. "Ellume has investigated the issue, identified the root cause and implemented additional controls," the company told Reuters on Wednesday.
UAE authorises Sputnik Light COVID-19 vaccine -Russia's RDIF
The United Arab Emirates has authorised the Russia-developed one-shot Sputnik Light as both a standalone COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot, Russia's sovereign fund RDIF said on Wednesday.
Swindon site to produce Covid-19 vaccines, PM says
Doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are to be made in Swindon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. It will be made at the Thermo Fisher Scientific site and production is expected to start in 2022. The firm already makes the vaccine at its facility in Monza, Italy. A statement from Pfizer said that regulatory approval, transfer of technology and on-site development work means production cannot immediately begin. It added: "The support from Thermo Fisher - one of more than 20 contract manufacturers across four continents that are - or will be - helping manufacture the vaccine is an example of our efforts to deliver the vaccine to people around the world as quickly as possible."
Covid-19 reinfection rate remains low, analysis shows
The rate of Covid-19 reinfections “remains low”, according to new analysis. When people do get infected for a second time, the virus is much less likely to cause serious illness, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Reinfections become more likely as time goes on, the analysis suggested. It also highlighted how some people are more likely to be reinfected than others. Kara Steel, senior statistician for the Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “The analysis shows that the estimated number of Covid-19 reinfections in the UK remains low.
Cloth vs N95: Which coronavirus mask should you wear?
Mask wearing has been a hotly debated topic, but most scientists agree that face coverings do help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, though the degree to which they do so depends on the quality of the masks themselves. Because about one in three people who have COVID-19 display no symptoms at all, widespread use of masks remains important. A study which reviewed the evidence on mask wearing found in favour of widespread mask use by infected people as a way to help reduce community transmission, concluding that the available evidence suggests that near-universal adoption of any face covering at all, in combination with complementary public health measures, could successfully reduce the community spread of COVID. Models suggest that public mask wearing is most effective at reducing the spread of the virus when compliance is high.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Hospitalization rates are down across the US, but these 8 states still have fewer than 15% of ICU beds available
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to require patrons at indoor spaces such as restaurants, gyms and movie theaters to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination -- starting November 4. The ordinance will also apply to personal care establishments such as spas and hair salons, as well as city buildings. And while the measure doesn't go into effect until next month, businesses must display advisory notice of the requirement by October 21. Individuals with medical or religious exemptions must provide a form declaring that. People who do not meet those requirements can use the outdoor spaces of a business and will be allowed in the covered spaces to use restrooms or pick up takeout orders.
Poland's daily COVID-19 cases up by 70% past in week -deputy minister
Poland's daily COVID-19 cases have risen by around 70% in the past week to over 2,000, a government official said on Wednesday, warning the country that a fourth wave of the outbreak is gathering pace. Poland's health service was stretched to its limits in the spring by a third wave of the pandemic that saw daily cases exceed 35,000, but authorities believe vaccinations will help control the number of infections this autumn. "Today's data is a very fast flashing red light," Waldemar Kraska, a deputy health minister, told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1, adding that there were 2,085 cases reported on Wednesday.
Russia reports record daily death toll from COVID-19
Russia reported 929 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, the largest single-day death toll it has recorded since the pandemic began. The government coronavirus task force also said it had recorded 25,133 new cases in the last 24 hours, a slight increase from a day earlier.
COVID-19: UK records 33,869 new cases and 166 more coronavirus-related deaths, daily figures show
The UK has recorded 33,869 new COVID-19 cases and a further 166 coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period, according to government data. The figures compare with 35,077 COVID-19 infections and 33 fatalities reported yesterday, and 34,526 cases and 167 deaths recorded this time last week. The number of people in hospital with the disease stands at 6,747, the latest data shows, slightly down from 7,038 seven days earlier, with 769 of those on ventilators.
Fears of COVID surge in Vietnam as workers flee Ho Chi Minh City
Tens of thousands of Vietnamese who once made a living in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s COVID-19 epicentre, are returning to their home provinces in desperation after authorities lifted a strict stay-at-home order last week, raising fears that the highly infectious Delta variant could spread in parts of the country where vaccination rates remain low. The mass exodus, which began on Friday, has left local officials in the Mekong Delta region and the Central Highlands scrambling to track and quarantine the returnees, many of whom had weathered months of lockdown without work or sufficient food in Ho Chi Minh City and its surrounding provinces.
Australia reports easing in new COVID-19 infections as vaccinations rise
New daily COVID-19 cases in Australia's Victoria and New South Wales states, the epicentres of the country's worst virus outbreak, fell on Wednesday as authorities look to start easing tough restrictions amid a rise in vaccination rates. A total of 1,420 new locally acquired cases were reported in Victoria, most of them in the state capital Melbourne, down from a record 1,763 on Tuesday. Eleven new deaths were registered, the state's highest daily number in the current outbreak.
Ukraine daily COVID-19 deaths top 300 for first time since May
The number of daily coronavirus-related deaths in Ukraine topped 300 for the first time since mid-May, health ministry data showed on Tuesday. The ministry reported 317 deaths over the past 24 hours and 9,846 new infections. The number of new COVID-19 cases has been growing for several weeks and the government has tightened lockdown restrictions.
Wyoming COVID-19 death toll tops 1,000
Wyoming's COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 1,000. The deaths of 45 more people in recent weeks brought the state's death toll from the virus to 1,041, according to Wyoming Department of Health figures as of Wednesday.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 30th Apr 2020

News Highlights

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Lockdown Exit
Coronavirus Northern Territory: Restrictions to be lifted in NT
Outdoor weddings, funerals and even playgrounds will be back in business under a “new normal” strategy being prepared in every state and territory across Australia and one of the safest regions has predicted its plan will provide a template for the nation. “Because being the safest in the nation means being the first in the nation to get back on track. Back to business, back to work, back to enjoying the great Territory lifestyle.” Promising a “new normal” by early June, Mr Gunner said the Territory could offer a model for other parts of the nation.
NT Government eases coronavirus restrictions on weddings, bars, gyms and funerals
From noon Friday, people in the NT will be able to use public swimming pools, waterparks, go fishing with friends and play golf. From midday on May 15, Territorians can head back to the gym, borrow a book from a public library, get their nails done or dine at a restaurant or cafe. On Friday June 5, the Government will lift its two-hour time limit and ease its restrictions on indoor activities, which means people can get a tattoo, visit a nightclub, and play team sports such as basketball and soccer.
Germany faces having to bring BACK strict coronavirus lockdowns as cases surge just days after easing them
Lothar Wieler, president of the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases, also urged caution. “Let's ensure we can continue to defend this success we have achieved together," he told a regular briefing. "We don't want the number of cases to rise again. Let's, insofar as is possible, stay at home, let's stick to the reduced contact."
Slovenia to ease coronavirus restrictions, gradually reopen schools
Slovenia will from Thursday lift a restriction imposed at the end of March that prohibited citizens from travelling outside their local municipalities. Education Minister Simona Kustec told national TV Slovenia later on Wednesday that schools and kindergartens, which have been closed since the middle of March, would gradually start reopening from May 18. The government said earlier that hairdressers and beauty parlours, as well as outdoor bars and restaurants and a number of shops, would be able to open from Monday. Libraries and museums are also expected to open on Monday. Large public events, including large sports gatherings, in Slovenia and the rest of Europe would “most probably” only be possible after a vaccination or medication for the coronavirus is discovered and widely used. He also called on citizens to remain disciplined in the coming weeks to prevent the spread of the virus.
Coronavirus: Health officials urge vigilance as countries ease lockdowns
As governments move forward with plans to ease coronavirus restrictions, health officials around the globe are calling on the public to remain vigilant so that hard-won victories in the battle against the pandemic are not lost.
Slovenia to Ease Coronavirus Restrictions, Gradually Reopen Schools
Slovenia will from Thursday lift a restriction imposed at the end of March that prohibited citizens from travelling outside their local municipalities, Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on Wednesday. Education Minister Simona Kustec told national TV Slovenia later on Wednesday that schools and kindergartens, which have been closed since the middle of March, would gradually start reopening from May 18. She did not give details.
Cyprus unveils road map to easing coronavirus restrictions
Cyprus’ president unveiled a road-map Wednesday for gradually lifting a strict, stay-at-home order over the next month that has until now helped to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But Nicos Anastasiades said that the “danger hasn’t passed,” as health experts note that the virus won’t completely go away any time soon. He warned that “deviations from or acts of ill-discipline” to authorities’ guidelines would lead to a return to lockdown conditions “that nobody wishes.”
Reopening puts Germany's much-praised coronavirus response at risk
But Merkel, like many of the country’s scientists, has pushed back, saying additional weeks of tight restrictions are needed to drive COVID-19 cases lower. “It is the right thing to do to lift some restrictions,” she emphasized. “But the way some states are going forward is rather brisk,” she said. “I would say too brisk.”
Coronavirus restrictions will be eased in Queensland on Friday to allow some recreational activities
Queensland will be the first Australian state to ease strict lockdown conditions as the country's effort to flatten the coronavirus curve begins to get results. State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that Queenslanders will finally be freed to go for a drive, sit at the beach, have a picnic, visit a national park and shop for non-essential items from midnight on Friday after weeks of restrictions. 'Because we have done such a terrific job of flattening the curve, after discussions with the Chief Health Officer, from next Friday we will be able to lift some of the stay-at-home restrictions,' she said on Sunday morning. Just hours later Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan announced his state would follow, allowing gatherings of up to ten people for non-work activities. Mr McGowan said it was a 'cautious relaxation' of restrictions, acknowledging it had been difficult for everyone, but especially the elderly, to not see family and friends during the pandemic.
The big changes coming to your everyday life after Australia's coronavirus restrictions are relaxed
Australian National University microbiologist Peter Collignon last week told Daily Mail Australia pubs and hotels may not return to normal until September - although they could re-open under strict conditions in July. Sign-in and sign-out procedures to maintain contact tracing and a 50 per cent capacity limit at venues are among those measures being discussed by hospitality industry leaders. The implementation of a staggered return to work could also reduce the risk of transmission on buses - accompanied by a ban on standing and preventing passengers from sitting next to each other.
Coronavirus: Cemeteries in NI to reopen
The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed to reopen cemeteries during the coronavirus pandemic. First Minister Arlene Foster said it was about "balancing public health concerns with the basic human need to visit a loved one's grave". It falls to councils to reopen cemeteries and implement measures that will ensure social distancing. Some councils have announced their plans for reopening this weekend:
Coronavirus: NI lockdown could lift at different pace, suggests Arlene Foster
Northern Ireland may emerge from coronavirus restrictions at a different pace than other parts of the UK, First Minister Arlene Foster has said. She said measures will be eased when scientific and public health criteria are met, not timetables or dates. That criteria "will be set down and agreed" by the NI executive as well as UK colleagues, she told Cool FM. This could mean "different parts of the UK move in different time" to other areas.
Scott Morrison announces the first coronavirus restrictions to be relaxed
Several types of elective surgery, dental procedures and IVF will resume next week as Australia begins the road out from coronavirus restrictions. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision to allow 25 per cent of operations to restart marked a step towards normal life. But, in a sign that normality is still far away, beachgoers in Sydney's east were yelled at by lifeguards to 'keep swimming' because they are only allowed to use the beach for exercise and can face $1,000 fines if police catch them milling around.
Coronavirus: Queues at shops as Germany begins to ease coronavirus lockdown
Germany has taken the first steps to lifting its lockdown, by allowing some smaller non-essential shops to reopen. Shops no larger than 800 square metres were allowed to resume business on Monday morning, along with bookshops, car showrooms and bike stores. It follows an agreement reached last week between local and central governments over the coronavirus restrictions. Despite the lifting of some COVID-19 measures, Germany's government has stressed the move is an early step in the process.
Coronavirus: Trump unveils plan to reopen states in phases
Trump issued guidelines for reopening states after lockdown called 'Opening up America Again' based on three phases to gradually ease lockdowns. Phase One avoiding non-essential travel, not gathering in groups, but large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues can open under strict physical distancing protocols. Phase Two would permit resumption of non-essential travel. schools and bars to open with diminished standing room occupancy. Phase 3 permits public interactions with physical distancing and unrestricted staffing of worksites. Vists to care homes and hsopitals can esume and bars can increase standing room capacity - the science would drive the decisions at governor and state level
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus: Islands could be used to ‘pilot’ UK lockdown exit plan
Britain’s lockdown exit plan could be “trialled” on island communities, Michael Gove has said. The Cabinet Office minister told MPs this afternoon that a relaxation of restrictions could be “piloted” on the UK’s outlying islands before being rolled out on the mainland. Mr Gove’s comments came just hours after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to comment on such an idea.
N.J. coronavirus reopening strategy: What about schools, parks, restaurants, retail?
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled six key points that will guide his decision to start reopening the state after a month of near-lockdown restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but for many residents, the announcement likely left more questions than answers. The strategy offered no timeline and Murphy said the stay-at-home order, nonessential business closures and strict social distancing would remain in place until further notice. When pressed for specifics, Murphy said that he expected the restrictions to linger for weeks, not months.
Why small groups will be first 'social bubbles' allowed out of coronavirus lockdown
The government said that the idea was “very alive to the issue of social isolation and the need for mental wellbeing”. Under the social bubble proposal, people would be allowed to combine their household with one or two others, up to a maximum of 10 people. A cautious version of the plan would probably mean that the vulnerable such as the over-70s and those with underlying health conditions would be advised to keep isolating and not merge with other households.
The coronavirus restrictions first in line to be relaxed
In Australia, going shopping with friends and team sport could be allowed again when the National Cabinet reviews coronavirus restrictions on May 11. Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy revealed those activities are 'in the mix' to be permitted once more. He suggested the national guidance that prevents gatherings of more than two people in public could be relaxed to allow friends and families to come together. But Professor Murphy said larger gatherings such concerts and festivals - as well as international travel - were out of the question.
Coronavirus: Why Denmark is taking steps to open up again
Denmark is among the first European countries aiming to put the lockdown into gradual reverse, just as it was one of the first to impose restrictions. "It's important we don't keep Denmark closed for longer than we need to," said Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, as she announced the move. The spread of coronavirus appears to be under control and the government wants to get the economy going again. But Denmark's moves will be slow and cautious. Ms Frederiksen likened them to walking a tightrope.
Coronavirus: Work has begun on plan to ease lockdown restrictions, No 10 says
Planning is underway on how to ease the coronavirus lockdown, Downing Street has announced. The prime minister's spokesman confirmed preparatory work is already happening on how the social distancing measures introduced at the end of March can eventually be eased. Labour has supported an extension of the three-week emergency "stay at home" rules but called on the government to be "transparent" and publish its strategy for returning life as close to normal as possible.
Bill Gates explains how the United States can safely ease coronavirus restrictions
The ability for parts of the United States to safely and effectively begin to lift coronavirus restrictions will depend on the country's capacity to aggressively test for and trace new cases of the virus, Bill Gates told CNN's Fareed Zakaria Sunday. His comments come as several US states prepare to ease social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions this week, despite warnings from health researchers that no state should reopen before May 1. Meanwhile, the total number of reported coronavirus cases in the United States is nearing 1 million, and more than 54,000 Americans have died.
What New York's coronavirus pandemic reopening may look like
With the coronavirus pandemic appearing to have passed its peak in New York, the gradual reopening of the epicenter of the national health crisis is starting to take shape. Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday outlined his most detailed plan for that reopening, starting with what he called lower risk businesses upstate getting back to work as early as mid May. "We have to be smart about this," Cuomo said Tuesday, adding that testing and infection rates and the availability of hospital beds must be at adequate levels. "Again, I know ... people are feeling emotional. Emotions can't drive our reopening process."
California reopening amid coronavirus: No firm timing for plan
California has the beginnings of a framework for slowly reopening, but it’s not exactly a timeline. Gov. Gavin Newsom released a four-part plan that he said could have some businesses running in weeks and some schools reopened by the summer. But the outline, officials acknowledge, still has many uncertainties. It is contingent on improvement in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak and on increased testing to assess how the illness is spreading
How close is the UK to easing coronavirus lockdown?
The UK has not yet met the five tests set out for easing the coronavirus lockdown, according to experts in health and economics, suggesting ministers will have to take a cautious approach to any relaxation in the coming weeks. Across Europe, many other countries have started to gradually ease restrictions, although there has been little in the way of co-ordination. Boris Johnson urged the public to have patience this week as the prime minister insisted he could only start easing the lockdown once the government’s tests were met to ensure a return to normal life persists.
Coronavirus: PM to update UK on 'steps to defeat' coronavirus
Boris Johnson is due to lead the daily coronavirus briefing for the first time since his return to work, after chairing a cabinet meeting. Ahead of the press conference, Mr Johnson urged UK businesses to "keep going" with lockdown measures. No 10 said he will update the UK on the government's "steps to defeat" the disease from 17:00 BST. Meanwhile, Downing Street faces the deadline for its target of 100,000 daily virus tests. Downing Street has said social distancing measures will not be relaxed if this would allow the virus to spread "in an exponential way".
Cyprus unveils road map to easing coronavirus restrictions
Cyprus’ president unveiled a road-map Wednesday for gradually lifting a strict, stay-at-home order over the next month that has until now helped to contain the spread of the coronavirus. But Nicos Anastasiades said that the “danger hasn’t passed,” as health experts note that the virus won’t completely go away any time soon. He warned that “deviations from or acts of ill-discipline” to authorities’ guidelines would lead to a return to lockdown conditions “that nobody wishes.”
Government prepares blueprint for UK’s ‘safe’ return to work
Boris Johnson’s government is set to issue detailed “workplace by workplace” guidance on how Britain can safely go back to work, as the prime minister prepares to announce that coronavirus is being contained. Alok Sharma, business secretary, is aiming to produce by the weekend about 10 papers setting out in “granular detail” how the economy can start to reopen once Mr Johnson orders the easing of the lockdown. He will set out how safe working can take place in environments from factories and construction sites to offices and call centres, answering demands from business for more clarity on an exit strategy.
Lifting the coronavirus lockdown: the route to reopening shops, schools and social bubbles
Among the most critical industries to get going again quickly are manufacturing and construction, which together make up more than 16 per cent of the economy but whose output has fallen by 55 per cent and 70 per cent respectively, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. “Desk-based” businesses will be told to enforce the two-metre rule in desk spacing and told to keep communal spaces closed unless people can socially distance. They must also ensure that there is a reliable supply of hand-washing facilities and sanitising gel. Home working will still be encouraged — but the emphasis from ministers will change. The message will be that if companies can change working practices to enforce social distancing by reducing the workforce on site and staggering working hours they should do so.
With rising coronavirus deaths, L.A. reopening will be slow
The differing situations across the state are causing some local officials to chafe under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s blanket stay-at-home order, while others are pushing to prolong it. Officials in parts of the Central Coast, Central Valley and far Northern California, where the coronavirus appears more under control, want to reopen their economy and have asked Newsom to work with them to phase out their shelter-at-home order. Some have proposed a slow reopening of such places as restaurants and churches, with a continued focus on social distancing and the use of face coverings. The stark differences in the how the coronavirus has affected various parts of California has become a vexing issue as talk turns to easing the restrictions.
Coronavirus: 'Phased' school reopening when lockdown lifts
Schools have been closed for five weeks, apart from for key workers' children and vulnerable pupils. Ms Williams said she did not expect schools to "suddenly open" for all. She said there would be "a phased approach in allowing more pupils to return to school", based on five principles. Ms Williams, who has previously said schools may not open until September, said school provision would "gradually adapt and extend further during the next phase in line with changes to the current restrictions outlined by the first minister last week".
The current coronavirus restrictions in place around the world and how they are being eased
How have countries around the world started to reduce their lockdown restrictions? This is what is happening in Spain, Italy, and more
Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will crack down on coronavirus restrictions
California will reinforce statewide COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement after crowds flocked to beaches in Orange and Ventura Counties over the weekend. 'This virus doesn't take the weekends off,' he said in a briefing Monday. Photos showed crowds flouting social distancing guidelines. Newsom warned that COVID-19 spread in California will continue if stay-at-home orders aren't followed. A handful of states, including Minnesota and Mississippi, have started reopening their economies. Public health experts fear this will spark a second wave of infections
Coronavirus: Belgium unveils plans to lift lockdown
Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced a detailed plan to gradually lift the country's coronavirus restrictions. Under new rules, all shops will be allowed to open their doors again from 11 May, with schools reopening the following week - albeit with a cap on pupil numbers in each class. But Ms Wilmès cautioned that "nothing is set in stone"
Coronavirus: 'Traffic light' system to lift lockdown in Wales
The framework includes questions to consider before decisions are made around relaxing restrictions. They are: Would easing a restriction have a negative effect on containing the virus? Does a particular measure pose a low risk of further infection? How can it be monitored and enforced? Can it be reversed quickly if it creates unintended consequences? Does it have a positive economic benefit? Does it have a positive impact on people's wellbeing? Does it have a positive impact on equality?
Coronavirus: NI lockdown could lift at different pace, suggests Arlene Foster
Northern Ireland may emerge from coronavirus restrictions at a different pace than other parts of the UK, First Minister Arlene Foster has said. She said measures will be eased when scientific and public health criteria are met, not timetables or dates. That criteria "will be set down and agreed" by the NI executive as well as UK colleagues, she told Cool FM. This could mean "different parts of the UK move in different time" to other areas.
Italy to relax lockdown restrictions from early May
Prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced today that Italy’s lockdown rules will be partially lifted in two weeks.“I wish I could say: let’s reopen everything. Immediately. We start tomorrow morning … But such a decision would be irresponsible,” Conte wrote in a Facebook post. “It would make the contagion curve go up in an uncontrolled way and would nullify all the efforts we have made so far. “We must act on the basis of a national (reopening) plan, which however takes into account the territorial peculiarities.”
Partisan Exits
Florida will begin lifting coronavirus stay-at-home orders from MONDAY, governor announces
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a plan Wednesday to lift stay-at-home orders from Monday. Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties will remain under restrictions as they have reported the most coronavirus cases in the state. It comes after the state reported its biggest spike in daily deaths on Tuesday. It joins 16 other states - mostly in the South and Midwest - which have lifted or announced dates to lift coronavirus restrictions following weeks of mandatory lockdowns Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Iowa will slowly start opening their economies this week. Minnesota, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Colorado, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have already partially reopened. Public health authorities have warned that increasing human interactions and economic activity may spark a new surge of infections
Coronavirus: This is what reopening in US looks like
Barber shops, tattoo parlours, beaches and restaurants reopen in Georgia as the governor lifts coronavirus restrictions. BBC Newsnight's David Grossman travelled across the state to see what life looks like as the state emerges from economic hibernation.
US states reopening: Maine is first Northeastern state to ease COVID-19 restrictions
Maine will allow some businesses - including drive-in theaters, barber shops and hair salons, dog groomers and car dealerships - to reopen from Friday. Current restrictions, including no gatherings of more than 10 people and 14 day quarantine for out of state visitors, still apply. Maine joins 15 other states - mostly in the South and Midwest - which have lifted or announced dates to lift coronavirus restrictions following weeks of mandatory lockdowns. Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Montana and Iowa will slowly start opening their economies this week. Minnesota, Mississippi, Michigan, Tennessee, Colorado, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have already partially reopened. Public health authorities have warned that increasing human interactions and economic activity may spark a new surge of infections.
Why Georgia Is Reopening Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
Georgia governor Kemp’s move to reopen was condemned by scientists, high-ranking Republicans from his own state, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; it even drew a public rebuke from President Donald Trump, who had reportedly approved the measures before distancing himself from the governor amid the backlash.
Alabama and Ohio are latest to lift coronavirus restrictions
14 states that are home to more than 95 million people have started reopening their economies or announced their reopening plans. Alabama will reopen from Thursday and will be followed by Ohio on Friday. All Missouri businesses and social events will be allowed to reopen from May 4 and Iowa will open restaurants, malls, fitness centers, libraries and retail stores at 50% capacity from May 1. Stay-at-home orders issued by governors across the US and subsequent decisions to slowly reopen state economies have turned into highly charged political issues Minnesota, Mississippi, Colorado, Montana, Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska and South Carolina will, or have already, restarted their economies following weeks of mandatory lockdowns. Texas partially reopened last week but the governor announced on Monday that state's stay-at-home order would expire April 30.
Global coronavirus restrictions loosening, allowing for some return to normalcy
Germany, which has lost more than 6,000 people to the contagion, took its first steps to ease restrictions last week — and by Tuesday locals were pictured visiting the Berlin Zoo and snapping selfies in front of elephants as the zoo partially reopened. Smaller businesses were also permitted to reopen in the country, but strict social distancing measures remain in place, and there are still bans on large gatherings of people.
Several U.S. states prepare to ease coronavirus restrictions despite experts' worries
By and large the states forging ahead with re-openings this week are concentrated in the South, the Midwest and mountain West, where outbreaks have been far less severe than in the Northeast. Most are led by Republican governors. Tennessee said it will allow restaurants to reopen on Monday. Mississippi’s stay-at-home order expires the same day. Montana, which reported three new cases on Sunday, is allowing businesses to reopen Monday if they limit capacity and practice social distancing, while Minnesota is clearing the way for 80,000 to 100,000 workers in industrial and office jobs to return to work on Monday. In Colorado, Democratic Governor Jared Polis has given the green light for retail curbside pickup to begin on Monday. Hair salons, barbershop and tattoo parlors can open on Friday, with retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters to follow.
More states are easing coronavirus restrictions this week, unnerving experts and some local officials
Several states are reopening from coronavirus shutdowns this week despite the recommendations of health researchers. Colorado, Minnesota and Montana plan to ease social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions. Iowa will allow elective surgeries to resume and farmers markets to reopen starting Monday.
Gov. Dunleavy says Alaska will ease some coronavirus restrictions starting later this week
Gov. Mike Dunleavy accelerated his timeline to open up segments of the economy, announcing Tuesday night that under certain restrictions, barbershops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and tanning salons can open starting Friday, allowing one customer in at a time. “We’re going to give these businesses an opportunity to be open, and really it’s one provider, one client, no waiting room," Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said. Restaurants can open up for dine-in service, but with reservations. They can have up to 25% capacity. Retail stores will be allowed to open for limited shopping, operating at 25% capacity with hand sanitizer at the entrance. Bars, bingo parlors and bowling alleys cannot open yet, state officials said. The changes are not yet posted on state websites or in public documents, though state officials said more information will be released this week.
Continued Lockdown
Coronavirus: Irish restrictions extended until 5 May
The Republic of Ireland is to extend its Covid-19 restrictions for a further three weeks until 5 May. Taoiseach (Irish PM) Leo Varadkar made the announcement on Friday afternoon following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency team. Gardaí (Irish police) have set up more than 1,000 checkpoints in recent days to stop people breaking restrictions. There have been 288 Covid-19 related deaths in the country, while the death toll in Northern Ireland is 92.
UK coronavirus restrictions to roll into 'next year'
Restrictions on everyday life in the UK to slow the spread of COVID-19 are likely to be needed for the “next calendar year”, the country’s top medic said on Wednesday. Britain is in the fifth week of a lockdown that only allows people to leave home for essential work, food shopping, exercise and limited other reasons. Normal life will only return once an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 is available, Chris Whitty said at the government’s daily news conference.
Gov. Baker Defends Decision to Keep Mass. Closed for 2 More Weeks
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday defended his decision to extend the state's stay-at-home advisory and non-essential business closures for an additional two weeks. The governor announced Tuesday that he was extending the shutdown from May 4 until May 18 and established an advisory board to come up with recommendations on how a phased reopening can take place. The decision upset some in the business community who are struggling to survive due to coronavirus restrictions.
What coronavirus restrictions are in place around the world?
Some countries are now easing strict lockdown conditions as the world continues to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. The global death toll stands at more than 200,000, with close to three million people having been infected worldwide. As countries weigh up the risk of a fresh wave of virus cases against the need to kick-start their economies, here is the lockdown status in several nations
Some UK coronavirus lockdown restrictions could last until next year, No10 suggests
Boris Johnson's spokesman did not deny claims we could have to continue social distancing until 2021 - raising the bleak prospect of pubs shuttered beyond Christmas
Scientific Viewpoint
When Can We Lift the Coronavirus Pandemic Restrictions? Not Before Taking These Steps
With much of the country grinding to a halt in a desperate attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, many people are wondering when the U.S. will be able to “reopen.” The American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank, recently released a report co-written by former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb that offers a four-phase “road map to reopening.” Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health—and an expert on pandemic preparedness—provided input for the report and helped to review it.
When coronavirus restrictions will be lifted if Australia tries to eliminate coronavirus
Coronavirus measures could be eased as early as next month, or Australians can wait until June for restrictions to be fully lifted to benefit from economic growth, according to new research. Researchers from eight leading Australian universities prepared Health Minister Greg Hunt with the 'Roadmap to Recovery' report this week, which outlines when life in Australia could return to normal. The government has been presented with two options; 'controlled adaptation' which would mean restrictions are eased sooner, or wait for elimination of the virus and keep measures in place until June and experience greater economic activity. 'Any choice between these two options entails a delicate trade-off between protecting health, supporting the economy and societal well-being,' the report read
Italy Was Once The Epicentre Of The Coronavirus. But A Report Says It’s Far Too Early To Lift Lockdown Restrictions.
Lifting all coronavirus restrictions to pre-lockdown levels would overwhelm Italy's intensive care unit capacity within a month, according to modelling by the group of experts that advises the Italian government. The technical scientific committee (CTS) estimates there would be a peak of more than 150,000 people requiring admission to ICUs by June if daily life returned to how it was pre-crisis, with the total figure surpassing 430,000 by the end of the year. The CTS report, which was published by major Italian media outlets this week, lays out three baseline and 46 detailed scenarios assessing the rate of transmission of the virus in different areas of the economy, places of social contact, and age groups, as well as the impact of factors such as social distancing and the use of face masks.
Covid-19 is ‘just as deadly as Ebola’ for those who end up in hospital – UK expert
Covid-19 is just as deadly as Ebola for people admitted to hospital in the UK, a leading expert has said as his team published a major British study of almost 17,000 patients. The research found almost half of people admitted to hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales with coronavirus have no underlying health conditions, while obese people are almost 40% more likely to die than those who are not.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 8th Oct 2021

One Minute Overview

Long COVID: More than one million people report ongoing coronavirus symptoms, ONS data shows - More than one million people living in the UK are experiencing the after-effects of COVID-19 following infection, according to the Office for National Statistics. It is the largest monthly increase - up from 970,000 in the previous ONS survey - with 1.1 million people in private households reporting having long COVID during the four weeks to 5 September. Long COVID is defined as symptoms which last for more than four weeks after individuals first suspect they are infected, and are not explained by something else.

Pfizer study to vaccinate whole Brazilian town against COVID-19 - Pfizer Inc will study the effectiveness of its vaccine against COVID-19 by inoculating the entire population over the age of 12 in a town in southern Brazil, the company said on Wednesday. The study will be conducted in Toledo, population 143,000, in the west of Parana state, together with Brazil's National Vaccination Program, local health authorities, a hospital and a federal university. Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with German partner BioNTech SE , said the purpose was to study transmission of the coronavirus in a 'real-life scenario' after the population has been vaccinated.

Pfizer, BioNTech ask U.S. regulators to OK COVID-19 vaccine for kids - Pfizer Inc and BioNTech said on Thursday they had asked U.S. regulators to approve emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children aged from five to 11, Pfizer said in a post on Twitter.

Long Covid officially defined for first time - with three top symptoms listed - Long Covid has finally been given its own definition by the World Health Organisation as more than a million in the UK are said to be battling the condition.
The condition has remained one of the most mysterious aspects of the virus as the list of symptoms continued to baffle medics. The WHO has sought to come up with clinical analysis of the symptoms as it formally says Long Covid is a 'post-Covid condition'. Common symptoms officially include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction,

Germany recommends booster shots for over 70s - Germany's vaccination authority, STIKO, recommended COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people older than 70 on Thursday. All residents of care homes, as well as workers who come into direct contact with them, should also be offered a third vaccine dose, the body said. The same was also recommended for medical workers in direct contact with patients. STIKO gave its recommendation on the grounds that vaccine protection 'declines over time, particularly in terms of preventing asymptomatic and mild infections.' Previously booster shots had only be recommended in Germany for people with a weakened immune system.

Heart Damage Plagues Covid Survivors a Year After Infection, Study Shows - Heart damage from Covid-19 extends well beyond the disease’s initial stages, according to a study that found even people who were never sick enough to need hospitalization are in danger of developing heart failure and deadly blood clots a year later. Heart disease and stroke are already the leading causes of death worldwide. The increased likelihood of lethal heart complications in Covid survivors -- who number in the hundreds of millions globally -- will add to its devastation, according to the study, which is under consideration for publication by a Nature journal. “The aftereffects of Covid-19 are substantial,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the clinical epidemiology center at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System in Missouri, who led the research. “Governments and health systems must wake up to the reality that Covid will cast a tall shadow in the form of long Covid, and has devastating consequences. I am concerned that we are not taking this seriously enough.”

WHO Wants Less Talk, More Action From Rich Nations on Doses - The World Health Organization called on countries with high vaccination rates to swap their places in line and prioritize the delivery of Covid-19 shots to lower-income nations. The WHO set out a strategy for countries to follow to reach a goal to inoculate 40% of the population in every nation in the world by the end of the year, and 70% by mid-2022. The health body urged countries with high vaccine coverage to change their vaccine delivery schedules for the coming months to make room for Covax, which will ensure countries in need can receive doses and catch up. Manufacturers should be transparent on total monthly production and schedules for supplies to Covax.

A New Vaccine Strategy for Children: Just One Dose, for Now - Even as parents in the United States wrestle with difficult questions over vaccinating their children against the coronavirus, families in other countries have been offered a novel option: giving children just one dose of the vaccine. Officials in Hong Kong as well as in Britain, Norway and other countries have recommended a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 and older — providing partial protection from the virus, but without the potential harms occasionally observed after two doses. Health officials in those countries are particularly worried about increasing data suggesting that myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, may be more common among adolescents and young adults after vaccination than had been thought.

Sydney to exit COVID-19 lockdown next week after vaccination rate hits 70% - COVID-19 restrictions will be eased further in Sydney from Monday, authorities said, as Australia's largest city looks set to exit a nearly four-month lockdown after hitting its 70% full vaccination target. Fully vaccinated people in New South Wales (NSW) state will be able to leave their homes for any reason including visiting pubs, retail stores, cinemas and gyms, which will reopen under strict social distancing rules. The number of vaccinated visitors allowed to gather in a home will double to 10, while the limit on vaccinated people at weddings and funerals will be raised to 100. Nightclubs can partially reopen to vaccinated people once inoculations reach 80%, earlier than previously planned, and masks will not be mandatory in offices.

Finland joins Sweden and Denmark in limiting Moderna COVID-19 vaccine - Finland on Thursday paused the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for younger males due to reports of a rare cardiovascular side effect, joining Sweden and Denmark in limiting its use. Mika Salminen, director of the Finnish health institute, said Finland would instead give Pfizer's vaccine to men born in 1991 and later. Finland offers shots to people aged 12 and over. 'A Nordic study involving Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark found that men under the age of 30 who received Moderna Spikevax had a slightly higher risk than others of developing myocarditis,' he said.

Spain's COVID-19 rate at 'low risk' level for first time in 15 months  - Spain's coronavirus incidence dropped below 50 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday, reaching the threshold considered 'low risk' by the Health Ministry for the first time in over a year.

Divorced parents are going to court over vaccinating their kids against the coronavirus -  Veronica was in her garden in New England when she got the email ping from her ex-husband in early May. “I started to have a panic attack,” says Veronica, who is not using her last name for privacy reasons. Her ex wanted a court to decide whether their 12-year-old daughter could be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The timing was terrible. “It was the day before I had her appointment scheduled,” she says. Divorced parents who disagree about coronavirus vaccination are taking their fights to court. The tensions have been fueled by inconsistent mask rules, misinformation and reports of more children hospitalized for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Lockdown Exit
Explainer: What researchers say about the long-term effects of COVID-19
The World Health Organization (WHO) this week issued a definition for "long COVID," a term used to describe the persistent health problems that affect some survivors of COVID-19. Scientists are still working to understand the syndrome. Here is what they know so far.
Companies face pressure to act on vaccine mandates even as they wait for clear rules.
Last month, President Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to write rules that would require companies with more than 100 employees to mandate coronavirus vaccinations or weekly testing. But with OSHA still going through a lengthy rule-making process, which could take several more weeks, the White House is urging companies to act now. Several big employers have imposed mandates since Biden’s announcement, including 3M, Procter & Gamble and the airlines American, Alaska and JetBlue. IBM said on Thursday that it will require all of its U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8, regardless of how often they come into the office. It will allow for “limited” medical or religious exceptions.
How a Vaccine Mandate Could Worsen a Shortage of Home Care Aides
In the upstate city of Johnstown, north of Albany, two-thirds of the home health aides at one small agency have notified their director that they intend to quit rather than get vaccinated against the coronavirus, as they are required to do this week under a state mandate. At the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the state’s largest home health care organization, about 400 workers are expected to be unable to work after the mandate takes effect. And in the New York City area, a union leader for home health care workers says he expects thousands of his members will be put on leave. “We need more time,” said Joe Pecora, the vice president of Home Healthcare Workers of America, a union that represents about 32,000 home health care workers in New York City and its suburbs. “It’s unrealistic to get all these people vaccinated by the deadline.”
Pfizer Asks F.D.A. to Authorize Its Covid-19 Vaccine for Children 5 to 11
Pfizer and BioNTech said on Thursday morning that they had asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of their coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a move that could help protect more than 28 million people in the United States. The companies have said they were submitting data supporting the change to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency has promised to move quickly on the request and has tentatively scheduled a meeting on Oct. 26 to consider it. A ruling is expected between Halloween and Thanksgiving. “With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against Covid-19,” Pfizer said on Thursday.
With Masks On or Off, Schools Try to Find the New Normal
Despite some turmoil, the vast majority of students have been in classrooms full-time and mostly uninterrupted this fall. Now, educators debate what’s next. Coronavirus infection rates declined 35 percent nationally through the month of September, as many schools opened their doors.Credit.
Covid Hospital Traffic in Some States Drops to Pre-Delta Levels
The U.S. is far from a full recovery from the latest Covid-19 wave, but some recent hot spots are getting close. In Florida, the seven-day average of new adult hospital admissions with Covid is about 469 a day. That’s just slightly above the level on May 13, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention significantly relaxed its masking guidance for fully vaccinated people -- a change that it reversed when the highly contagious delta variant ripped through the U.S. In at least eight other states and the nation’s capital, the numbers are below or close to May levels. There are other positive signs. The one-week average of new cases nationally has dropped 40% from its Sept. 21 peak, according to CDC data.
IBM Vaccine Mandate: Unvaxxed Employees Will Be Suspended in December
International Business Machines Corp. said all of its U.S.-based employees must be vaccinated by Dec. 8 or be put on unpaid suspension. The Armonk, New York-based company told workers that because it’s a government contractor, it’s required to adhere to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. IBM said the new mandate will apply to all U.S. employees regardless of where they work or how often they go into a company office and will offer “limited” medical or religious exemptions. The decision was prompted by “the continued spread of Covid-19, local clinical conditions around IBM sites, and the reality that vaccines are readily available nationwide,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement.
WHO Wants Less Talk, More Action From Rich Nations on Doses
The World Health Organization called on countries with high vaccination rates to swap their places in line and prioritize the delivery of Covid-19 shots to lower-income nations. The WHO set out a strategy for countries to follow to reach a goal to inoculate 40% of the population in every nation in the world by the end of the year, and 70% by mid-2022. The health body urged countries with high vaccine coverage to change their vaccine delivery schedules for the coming months to make room for Covax, which will ensure countries in need can receive doses and catch up. Manufacturers should be transparent on total monthly production and schedules for supplies to Covax.
Biden to tout vaccine mandates for large companies in Chicago trip
President Joe Biden on Thursday said more U.S. businesses should obligate workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, calling the move vital to ending the pandemic and sustaining the economy. "Today I'm calling on more employers to act," Biden said. "My message is: Require your employees to get vaccinated. With vaccinations, we're going to beat this pandemic finally. Without them, we face endless months of chaos in our hospitals, damage to our economy and anxiety in our schools."
Malaysia’s vaccine roll-out success lifts coronavirus gloom
After 150 days in operation, one of Malaysia’s biggest Covid-19 vaccination centres shut its doors on Sunday, with over 1.2 million doses having been administered there. At its peak, the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur – the country’s first mega Pusat Pemberian Vaksin (PPV or vaccination centre) was seeing some 18,000 doses administered daily. Vaccine tsar and health minister Khairy Jamaluddin wrote on Twitter that the centre was the “biggest workhorse” in the country’s national vaccination programme.
‘Reaching a detente’ with SARS-CoV-2: Helen Branswell on covering Covid-19, misinformation and more
On Wednesday, STAT senior writer Helen Branswell spoke with Seth Mnookin, director of the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing. The AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards sponsored the talk as part of its annual fall lecture series and in honor of Sharon Begley. Branswell spoke about Begley’s legacy, reporting on infectious diseases, and the past and future of the Covid-19 pandemic. Highlights from the conversation have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
A New Vaccine Strategy for Children: Just One Dose, for Now
Even as parents in the United States wrestle with difficult questions over vaccinating their children against the coronavirus, families in other countries have been offered a novel option: giving children just one dose of the vaccine. Officials in Hong Kong as well as in Britain, Norway and other countries have recommended a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children ages 12 and older — providing partial protection from the virus, but without the potential harms occasionally observed after two doses. Health officials in those countries are particularly worried about increasing data suggesting that myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, may be more common among adolescents and young adults after vaccination than had been thought.
Exit Strategies
Italy loosens COVID-19 restrictions on leisure activities
Italy increased the maximum attendance capacity allowed at cultural and sporting venues on Thursday, continuing its progressive easing of COVID-19 curbs for those who can show documents of immunity from the disease.
Spain's COVID-19 rate at 'low risk' level for first time in 15 months
Spain's coronavirus incidence dropped below 50 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday, reaching the threshold considered "low risk" by the Health Ministry for the first time in over a year.
Covid: AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines travel 9,000 miles to British team in Antarctica
The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been delivered to one of the most remote places on Earth, arriving in Antarctica nine months after it was first rolled out. The jab, developed at Oxford University, was flown more than 9,000 miles in order to vaccinate 23 UK scientists working at the British Antarctic Survey Research Station. It's the furthest south any vaccine has ever travelled from the UK - a feat executed by the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, the RAF and contractor Crown Agents.
Scandinavians curb Moderna shots for some younger patients
Scandinavian authorities on Wednesday suspended or discouraged the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in young people because of an increased risk of heart inflammation, a very rare side effect associated with the shot. Sweden suspended the use of Moderna for those recipients under 30, Denmark said those under 18 won’t be offered the Swiss-made vaccine, and Norway urged those under 30 to get the Pfizer vaccine instead. The countries have adequate supplies of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and will be able to continue their vaccination campaigns. In neighboring Finland, authorities are expected to announce their decision Thursday, according to Dr. Hanna Nohynek, chief physician at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, told local broadcaster YLE.
Malaysia buys 150000 courses of Merck's COVID-19 pill
Malaysia has struck a deal with U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co to buy 150,000 courses of its experimental antiviral pill, the health ministry said on Thursday, joining other Asian countries in a rush to secure supplies. Molnupiravir, which would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19 if it gets regulatory approval, could halve the chances of dying or being hospitalised for those most at risk of contracting severe COVID-19, clinical data has shown. The data sparked large demand for the drug in Asia, with South Korea, Singapore and Australia announcing similar deals to buy the Merck pill this week. Taiwan and Thailand are also in talks to buy it.
Canada imposes COVID-19 vaccine mandate on federal workers, transportation
Canada will place unvaccinated federal employees on unpaid leave and require COVID-19 shots for air, train and ship passengers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, as he unveiled one of the world's strictest vaccine mandate policies. Federal employees will be required to declare their full vaccination status through an online portal by Oct. 29. Workers and passengers age 12 and older on trains, planes and marine transport operating domestically - which are federally regulated - must show they have been inoculated by Oct. 30.
Los Angeles will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor establishments
By next month Los Angeles will require residents and visitors to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to eat, drink, or shop in indoor establishments across the city. Under this mandate, eligible patrons will need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, gyms, spas or salons. People attending large, outdoor events will also need to show evidence of either vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend the event. Proof of vaccination includes a vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a photo of both sides of the card, documentation from a health care provider, or a digital record of vaccination issued by California, another state or country.
Covid-19 booster shots have outpaced the US rate of new vaccinations. And the millions still unvaccinated could trigger 'future waves,' expert warns
The country has averaged more than 101,200 new cases a day over the last week -- down 41% from a peak in a Delta-driven wave reached in mid-September, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The number of Covid-19 patients in US hospitals -- 68,760 as of Thursday -- is down 34% from a Delta-wave peak reached in September, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Just over 56% of the total US population is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This wave is receding, but unless we get the nearly 70 million unvaccinated Americans vaccinated, we are at risk for future waves," Dr. Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, told CNN on Wednesday.
Finland joins Sweden and Denmark in limiting Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
Finland on Thursday paused the use of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for younger males due to reports of a rare cardiovascular side effect, joining Sweden and Denmark in limiting its use. Mika Salminen, director of the Finnish health institute, said Finland would instead give Pfizer's vaccine to men born in 1991 and later. Finland offers shots to people aged 12 and over. "A Nordic study involving Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark found that men under the age of 30 who received Moderna Spikevax had a slightly higher risk than others of developing myocarditis," he said.
The WHO has started shipping COVID-19 medical supplies to North Korea
The World Health Organization has started shipping COVID-19 medical supplies into North Korea, a possible sign that the North is easing one of the world's strictest pandemic border closures to receive outside help. WHO said in a weekly monitoring report that it has started the shipment of essential COVID-19 medical supplies through the Chinese port of Dalian for "strategic stockpiling and further dispatch" to North Korea. Edwin Salvador, WHO's representative to North Korea, said in an email to the Associated Press Thursday that some items, including emergency health kits and medicine, have reached the North Korean port of Nampo after North Korean authorities allowed the WHO and other U.N. agencies to send supplies that had been stuck in Dalian.
Can I get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?
Can I get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time? Yes, you can get the shots in the same visit. When COVID-19 vaccines were first rolling out in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended waiting 14 days between the shots and other immunizations as a precaution. But the agency has since revised its guidelines and says the wait is unnecessary. The CDC and other health experts point to past experience showing that vaccines work as they should and any side effects are similar whether the shots are given separately or in the same visit. “We have a history of vaccinating our kids with multiple vaccines,” says flu specialist Richard Webby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Sydney to exit COVID-19 lockdown next week after vaccination rate hits 70%
COVID-19 restrictions will be eased further in Sydney from Monday, authorities said, as Australia's largest city looks set to exit a nearly four-month lockdown after hitting its 70% full vaccination target. Fully vaccinated people in New South Wales (NSW) state will be able to leave their homes for any reason including visiting pubs, retail stores, cinemas and gyms, which will reopen under strict social distancing rules. The number of vaccinated visitors allowed to gather in a home will double to 10, while the limit on vaccinated people at weddings and funerals will be raised to 100. Nightclubs can partially reopen to vaccinated people once inoculations reach 80%, earlier than previously planned, and masks will not be mandatory in offices.
While US summer surge is waning, more mandates in the works
COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are coming down again, hospitalizations are dropping, and new cases per day are about to dip below 100,000 for the first time in two months — all signs that the summer surge is waning. Not wanting to lose momentum, government leaders and employers are looking to strengthen and vaccine requirements. Los Angeles enacted one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates Wednesday, a sweeping measure that would require the shots for everyone entering a bar, restaurant, nail salon, gym or Lakers game. New York City and San Francisco have similar rules. innesota’s governor this week called for vaccine and testing requirements for teachers and long-term care workers. In New York, a statewide vaccination mandate for all hospital and nursing home workers will be expanded Thursday to home care and hospice employees.
Partisan Exits
Amazon sued by warehouse workers over COVID-19 screening pay
Amazon.com Inc has been accused of violating Colorado state law by failing to pay warehouse workers for time spent undergoing COVID-19 screenings before clocking in at work. Jennifer Vincenzetti, who worked at two Amazon warehouses in Colorado Springs, filed a proposed class action in Colorado federal court on Tuesday claiming the company made workers wait in long lines to answer questions and have their temperatures checked. Seattle-based Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Divorced parents are going to court over vaccinating their kids against the coronavirus
Veronica was in her garden in New England when she got the email ping from her ex-husband in early May. “I started to have a panic attack,” says Veronica, who is not using her last name for privacy reasons. Her ex wanted a court to decide whether their 12-year-old daughter could be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The timing was terrible. “It was the day before I had her appointment scheduled,” she says. Divorced parents who disagree about coronavirus vaccination are taking their fights to court. The tensions have been fueled by inconsistent mask rules, misinformation and reports of more children hospitalized for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
WLOX news anchor Meggan Gray loses job after refusing coronavirus vaccine
Meggan Gray signed off her Thursday morning news show with a cryptic announcement. From the desk of WLOX News in Biloxi, Miss., where she had co-anchored “Good Morning Mississippi” for 14 years, she said she “wanted to just take a little moment and let you know that I honestly do not know what the future holds for me as far as my career here.” The next day, she was off the show, and she took to Facebook to explain why: She lost her job after refusing to be vaccinated for the coronavirus as required by her station’s parent company, Gray Television. “In my opinion, a forced decision to decide between a vaccination and the livelihood of an individual is a dangerous precedent,” wrote Gray, 40, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Man sentenced to 15 months in prison for spreading COVID-19 hoax on Facebook
Christopher Charles Perez, 40, made a Facebook post in April 2020 falsely claiming that he paid a COVID patient to lick items at a San Antonio grocer. He also made a post threatening to spread the virus at another area store. Investigators and Perez's confession revealed his posts to be false. He was found guilty of criminal false information and hoaxes related to biological weapons. Perez was sentenced to 15 months in prison, three years of supervised release that requires him to seek mental health treatment, and fined $1,000
Covid-19: NI schools warned about hoax vaccine letters
The Public Health Agency (PHA) has warned post primary schools in Northern Ireland about hoax Covid vaccine consent letters. Some schools have received emails claiming to come from the NHS, which contain a "consent checklist" for vaccination. The email asks them to share the checklist with parents and pupils. But the PHA said "the false email and 'consent form' content contains a number of important inaccuracies". It should "not be forwarded to parents," the PHA said. BBC News NI has been contacted by some principals in Northern Ireland whose schools have received the hoax consent forms. They are presented as a form with information to be sent to parents ahead of pupils being given Covid vaccinations.
Scientific Viewpoint
Pfizer Asks F.D.A. to Authorize Its Covid-19 Vaccine for Children 5 to 11
Pfizer and BioNTech said on Thursday morning that they had asked federal regulators to authorize emergency use of their coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a move that could help protect more than 28 million people in the United States. The companies have said they were submitting data supporting the change to the Food and Drug Administration. The agency has promised to move quickly on the request and has tentatively scheduled a meeting on Oct. 26 to consider it. A ruling is expected between Halloween and Thanksgiving. “With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against Covid-19,” Pfizer said on Thursday.
Covid Protection Wanes Months After Second Shot, Studies Show
Immunity provided by the Covid-19 vaccine from partners Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE weakens significantly within months, with men having less protection than women, according to research that supports the use of booster doses. Protective antibodies decreased continuously during the six months after the administration of the second dose of the vaccine, according to a study of about 5,000 Israeli health workers, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The levels fell first at a sharp pace and later at a more moderate one. Researchers worldwide are trying to identify the critical threshold of antibodies needed to prevent coronavirus infection, severe illness and death, said Gili Regev-Yochay, one of the authors of the study.
Heart Damage Plagues Covid Survivors a Year After Infection, Study Shows
Heart damage from Covid-19 extends well beyond the disease’s initial stages, according to a study that found even people who were never sick enough to need hospitalization are in danger of developing heart failure and deadly blood clots a year later. Heart disease and stroke are already the leading causes of death worldwide. The increased likelihood of lethal heart complications in Covid survivors -- who number in the hundreds of millions globally -- will add to its devastation, according to the study, which is under consideration for publication by a Nature journal. “The aftereffects of Covid-19 are substantial,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the clinical epidemiology center at the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System in Missouri, who led the research. “Governments and health systems must wake up to the reality that Covid will cast a tall shadow in the form of long Covid, and has devastating consequences. I am concerned that we are not taking this seriously enough.”
Germany recommends booster shots for over 70s
Germany's vaccination authority, STIKO, recommended COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for people older than 70 on Thursday. All residents of care homes, as well as workers who come into direct contact with them, should also be offered a third vaccine dose, the body said. The same was also recommended for medical workers in direct contact with patients. STIKO gave its recommendation on the grounds that vaccine protection "declines over time, particularly in terms of preventing asymptomatic and mild infections." Previously booster shots had only be recommended in Germany for people with a weakened immune system.
Pfizer officially asks the FDA to authorize its COVID vaccine for kids aged 5-11
Pfizer and BioNTech are officially asking the Biden administration to authorize the use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Pfizer tweeted on Thursday that the companies had submitted their formal request for Emergency Use Authorization of the vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration. "With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against #COVID19," the pharmaceutical giant said.
Long Covid officially defined for first time - with three top symptoms listed
Long Covid has finally been given its own definition by the World Health Organisation as more than a million in the UK are said to be battling the condition. The condition has remained one of the most mysterious aspects of the virus as the list of symptoms continued to baffle medics. The WHO has sought to come up with clinical analysis of the symptoms as it formally says Long Covid is a "post-Covid condition". Common symptoms officially include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction
Pfizer vaccine for children may be ready by Thanksgiving -White House adviser
Pfizer Inc's new vaccine for children aged five to 11 could be ready as early as November pending approval from federal regulatory health agencies, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said on Thursday. The Food and Drug Administration has scheduled time to review the Pfizer/BionNTech application for emergency use with its advisory panel at the end of October, to be followed by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zients told CNN.
Pfizer, BioNTech ask U.S. regulators to OK COVID-19 vaccine for kids
Pfizer Inc and BioNTech said on Thursday they had asked U.S. regulators to approve emergency use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children aged from five to 11, Pfizer said in a post on Twitter.
Covid vaccination on top of past coronavirus infection 'gives greater protection'
Previous Covid-19 infection gives double jabbed people greater protection, new research suggests. According to the Zoe study, past Covid infection together with being fully vaccinated increases an individual’s protection against the virus to as much as 94%.
Pfizer study to vaccinate whole Brazilian town against COVID-19
Pfizer Inc will study the effectiveness of its vaccine against COVID-19 by inoculating the entire population over the age of 12 in a town in southern Brazil, the company said on Wednesday. The study will be conducted in Toledo, population 143,000, in the west of Parana state, together with Brazil's National Vaccination Program, local health authorities, a hospital and a federal university. Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with German partner BioNTech SE , said the purpose was to study transmission of the coronavirus in a "real-life scenario" after the population has been vaccinated.
Long COVID: More than one million people report ongoing coronavirus symptoms, ONS data shows
More than one million people living in the UK are experiencing the after-effects of COVID-19 following infection, according to the Office for National Statistics. It is the largest monthly increase - up from 970,000 in the previous ONS survey - with 1.1 million people in private households reporting having long COVID during the four weeks to 5 September. Long COVID is defined as symptoms which last for more than four weeks after individuals first suspect they are infected, and are not explained by something else.
Seven people may have brought Covid-19 into NI, experts say
Seven people who were exposed to Covid-19 but had neither symptoms nor were infectious may have brought the virus into Northern Ireland on 1 March 2020. Researchers at Queen's University Belfast suggest it took about 9.6 days for someone exposed to Covid to develop symptoms and become infectious. They said a symptomatic patient could spread the disease for nine days. Experts from the school of mathematics and physics used modelling to reach their conclusions. Dr Gabor Kiss, who led the research, said the number seven was significant because while this seems a small number, the consequences demonstrate "just how infectious Covid-19 is".
Pfizer asks US to allow COVID shots for kids ages 5 to 11
Parents tired of worrying about classroom outbreaks and sick of telling their elementary school-age children no to sleepovers and family gatherings felt a wave of relief Thursday when Pfizer asked the U.S. government to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for youngsters ages 5 to 11. If regulators give the go-ahead, reduced-dose kids’ shots could begin within a matter of weeks. That could bring many families a step closer to being done with remote learning, virus scares and repeated school shutdowns and quarantines.
Merck's molnupiravir will be a blockbuster drug during pandemic. What about endemic COVID-19?
After showing a 50% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death, Merck & Co.’s molnupiravir looks on track to secure an FDA emergency use authorization and become a blockbuster earner during the pandemic. But what kind of longer-term market will the drug face once COVID-19 makes the likely shift from pandemic to endemic? After showing a 50% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death, Merck & Co.’s molnupiravir looks on track to secure an FDA emergency use authorization and become a blockbuster earner during the pandemic. But what kind of longer-term market will the drug face once COVID-19 makes the likely shift from pandemic to endemic?
Flu shots and Moderna's COVID-19 booster can be given during the same doctor's visit, Sanofi study finds
With the arrival of autumn and warnings of a potential “twindemic,” many are prioritizing vaccinations with more urgency this year. Thursday, Sanofi provided timely data that show elderly people can take care of their COVID-19 booster and flu inoculation needs in one stop. Interim results from co-administration of Sanofi’s Fluzone high-dose quadrivalent vaccine and a Moderna COVID-19 booster in the same doctor’s visit show that both provide similar immunogenicity responses—in addition to comparable safety and tolerability profiles—to when they are provided individually.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Egypt on Wednesday
Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population on Wednesday reported 788 new coronavirus cases, 37 deaths, and 788 recoveries. A total of 309,135 cases have been disclosed in Egypt, alongside 17,545 deaths and 261,190 recoveries. The country’s fourth wave of the virus is in full force, with daily case figures ten times higher than what was recorded at the end of July. Moreover, the Health Ministry has stated that official figures likely only represent 10 percent of actual cases.
Covid-19: Four Covid-related deaths and 1,305 new cases
Four more coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland on Thursday. Deaths are measured by recording those who died within 28 days of receiving a positive result in a test for coronavirus. The total number of deaths linked to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the start of the pandemic is 2,579. Another 1,305 cases of the virus were also notified by the Department of Health, down from 1,339 cases on Wednesday. That includes cases confirmed from samples taken in recent days, not necessarily just in the latest 24-hour reporting period. A total of 246,156 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Northern Ireland since the pandemic began.
Russia reports biggest one-day COVID-19 case tally of 2021
Russia reported 27,550 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the biggest one-day tally it has recorded this year, amid a wave of infections that has pushed officials to urge people to get vaccinated. The government coronavirus task force also said that 924 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the last 24 hours, close to a record one-day toll.
More than 120,000 US kids had caregivers die during pandemic
The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests. More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics. “These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Alexandra Blenkinsop of Imperial College London, said in a statement.
Decline in global COVID-19 cases, deaths continues
Continuing a trend that began in August, global COVID-19 cases and deaths declined again last week, with activity decreasing in most regions except Europe, where infection levels stayed the same, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its latest weekly snapshot of the pandemic. Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, said on Twitter that hard work is paying off, and vaccinations are significantly cutting hospitalizations and deaths. She added, however, that vaccine equity is desperately needed, and the world is not out of the woods yet.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 6th May 2020

News Highlights

Countries around Europe continued to gingerly nudge their way out of months of restrictive lockdowns. Italy, France and Spain, three of the hardest hit nations, have all partially eased lockdown restrictions to travel, exercise, shopping, dining and funerals.German museums and shops opened and barbershops seemed to be in demand in Austria too.

Along with the easing of restrictions, there is a cautious optimism and a sense that although there is still a long way to go, the 'new normal' will include a new way of living and working.

While shutting down entire swathes of the economic system was not easy, restarting has many challenges too. Case in point: Italy, where 4.4 million people were given permission to get back to work but only half could be absorbed by employers on that first day.

Lockdown Exit
Coronavirus: Italian workers swap lockdown for lockout | News
Italy’s efforts to breathe life into its crippled economy have been dealt a blow with the discovery that less than half the workers allowed to return to work on Monday actually got there. Of the 4.4 million people permitted to resume their jobs this week as the country’s coronavirus contagion slows, fewer than two million were taken back by employers, Rocco Palombella, the head of Italian union UILM, said. “People didn’t go back because companies cannot start full production when the market has collapsed,” he said.
Coronavirus: Several provinces begin to slowly loosen lockdown restrictions
Some provinces began easing their COVID-19 lockdowns on Monday, but top health officials cautioned many of the changes Canadians have made to their daily lives to slow the spread of the illness are here for the long haul. “It’s not over,” said federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu. “It is a cautious reopening in certain provinces and certain sectors, but … the new normal will have to include new ways of living, new ways of working that will protect us in this unique and difficult time.”
Sweden still hasn't locked down. But normal life is a luxury for only a few
I think there will be more restrictions in the near future, but I have a hard time imagining a complete lockdown. Swedes, who are too accustomed to their freedom, would protest. I don’t believe in a full lockdown; I think social distancing works to slow things down and flatten the curve. But it’s important to keep the economy rolling without risking more lives, and I know it can seem impossible to do both. “There are a few critical times in life when you must make sacrifices, not just for your own sake, but also for those around you, for your fellow human beings, and for our country,” said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, in a national address on March 22.
German museums and shops open as lockdown eased
Cabinet minister Peter Altmaier told us in a Newsnight interview there had been "a decline in infections, for now, at least four weeks in a row". Noting that there is no German word for "serendipity", Professor Robert Kaufman of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology said: "We apparently did not have hotspots, it spread slowly and we were lucky." Applying its large-scale testing capability and tracing of thousands of early cases, Germany contained its infection at a relatively low level. So now restrictions are being relaxed. Religious services resumed on Sunday, many shops were able to reopen on Monday, some museums will follow on Wednesday - as well as cabinet decisions about further easing of the rules.
Milan emerges from lockdown a different city
Italians are very wary and business is slow as some coronavirus-related restrictions are relaxed in Italy
Austria coronavirus under control despite lockdown easing
Austria's health minister said Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic in the country was under control, three weeks after it began to ease a strict lockdown. "The situation is very constant, very stable," Rudolf Anschober said, adding the daily increase in new infections had shrunk to 0.2 percent, down from up to 50 percent in mid-March. Small shops and hardware and gardening stores reopened in mid-April after a month-long lockdown though wearing masks in shops and public transport, and practising social distancing became mandatory. Bigger shops followed suit this weekend, and restrictions that largely forbid people from leaving their homes were lifted. Classes in schools are resuming this month, and restaurants are expected to reopen by mid-May. Anschober said the first phase of lockdown lifting had succeeded "excellently", but reminded people to remain vigilant despite more easing measures.
Spain's path out of Covid lockdown complicated by polarised politics
On Wednesday, Pedro Sánchez will once again ask Spanish MPs to approve an extension of the state of emergency that underpins one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe. If recent days and parliamentary sessions are anything to go by, the prime minister will not be in for an easy ride. At a time when opposition parties elsewhere in Europe are rallying around the flag, the adversaries of Sánchez’s socialist-led coalition are using the virus as a cudgel.
Europe’s reopening road map: How 11 countries are beginning to lift lockdowns
Europe is gingerly trying to get back to business, with restrictions loosening across the continent as the spread of the coronavirus slows. The German Spy Museum in Berlin opened its doors for the first time in weeks, bars in central Rome began offering takeaway services, and shaggy-haired Austrians flocked to barbers’ shops in Vienna. With Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Germany all relaxing some of their restrictions on Monday, Europe is settling down to a new normal as it returns to public life. It’s slower and less dynamic than before, and some restrictions will remain in place for weeks or even months, with face masks—ranging from clinical coverings to brightly colored homemade varieties—a ubiquitous reminder of the changes.
Sweden state epidemiologist 'not convinced' no lockdown was right call
The strategy architect isn't sure it was the right call not to introduce a lockdown. The state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet he was "not convinced at all" and his team was constantly examining how it was going and what else should be done. He also said it was important to "be humble all the time because you may have to change," according to The Independent. Sweden has introduced only a handful of rules and has left places like parks and restaurants open, but its death toll is much higher than neighboring countries'.
How Germany's states are pushing to relax coronavirus lockdown measures
Germany is this week further easing restrictions put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus. Hairdressers and barbers are now allowed to open their doors after weeks of forced closure, and lots of school pupils are getting back to the classroom. Last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed to allow church services again, and to reopen playgrounds. Museums and zoos can also reopen. There have to be strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place for the reopening of all facilities.
Italy coronavirus lockdown restrictions relaxed as millions return to work
More than four million Italians were allowed back to work on Monday, while cafes also reopened in Europe's coronavirus epicentre. It marked the end of the the continent's first and longest, keeping people from their jobs and loved ones. Fabrizia Maselli was allowed to make the short 15-minute walk from home to visit her mother for the first time since the start of March, for an emotional reunion.
‘The biggest shock was fresh air’: Italy begins cautious exit from virus lockdown
“I literally haven’t been out of the house,” said Rina Sondhi, who lives in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. “The biggest shock for me was the fresh air. Today I feel liberated, but with caution – that’s the important thing, we can have the freedom but we must be really careful.” An estimated 4 million people returned to work on Monday as part of what the Italian government called the second phase of the country’s coronavirus emergency, with the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, appealing to the public in a Facebook post on Sunday night to “act responsibly”.
Italy Starts Easing Lockdown, Rebooting Its Stricken Economy
Move to reopen will test whether one of Europe’s largest economies can restart without igniting a new surge in infections
Coronavirus lockdown: Nigerians cautious as restrictions eased in Lagos and Abuja
In Nigeria, some businesses have reopened on the first working day after the easing of a lockdown imposed on key urban areas in a bid to restart Africa's largest economy. But the main doctors' association described the move as "very premature". In the commercial hub, Lagos, traffic jams were absent, indicating that many were remaining indoors. Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari said the measures had imposed "a very heavy economic cost". The lockdown began five weeks ago to contain the spread of coronavirus. As many in the big cities live a hand-to-mouth existence, the restrictions led to fears that it could leave people hungry as it cut off their means to earn money.
Europe is in a new phase of reopening, but it's hardly a return to normal
The Italian government said that to fully reopen stores, bars and restaurants it must slow the reproduction rate of the coronavirus to 0.5, meaning that each infected Italian is infecting less than one other person (an "R0 value" of 1, for instance, means that every infected person is infecting one other person). To reopen theaters, conventions and stadiums, Italy wants the number to be as close as possible to 0. Currently the figure is around 0.6-0.7 nationally. Restaurant, bar and store owners around Italy were last week "handing over their keys" to local mayors in protest over the slow reopening, and Conte apologized on Friday for a delay to financial aid payments to businesses impacted by the pandemic. A joint letter from 13 of the 20 Italian regions last Wednesday asked the government "to guarantee the possibility of reopening activities to all those who respect the measures already provided" by the lockdown decree. "It's clear that health is the first essential objective, but it can't be the only one," the letter added.
Erdogan says Turkey to start easing coronavirus restrictions as of Monday
Turkey will start easing coronavirus containment measures as of Monday, President Tayyip Erdogan said, lifting intercity travel restriction in seven provinces and easing a curfew imposed for senior and youth citizens at the weekend after weeks. Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said senior and youth citizens will be allowed outside for 4 hours for one day a week starting this weekend and that travel restrictions would be lifted for seven cities, excluding Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. He said shopping malls, barber shops and some stores will be allowed to open on May 11 as long as they abide by normalisation rules, adding that universities would return to their academic calendar as of June 15. But, Erdogan warned that the government would impose much harsher measures if the normalisation plan is not followed.
Italy's St. Mark's Square Already Packed Again as Lockdown's Lifted
One of Italy's biggest hot spots -- for tourism, not coronavirus -- is packed again as the country's citizens rush out of nearly 10 weeks of lockdown. St. Mark's Square in Venice was filled Monday as Italy enters its phase 2 ... which allows visiting relatives within the region, taking part in funerals and exercising outside while maintaining social distancing. There's little social distancing going on in the Square ... but, on the other hand, almost everyone is wearing a face mask.
‘My soul is dancing’: Spain comes out to play after Europe's strictest lockdown
On Saturday, Spaniards took to streets and beaches as they were finally allowed out to exercise, after quarantine. On the Costa del Sol, Lola Culsán joined them
Coronavirus: Spain's capital Madrid adjusts to new normal
"I'm so glad to be finally able to walk outside for a bit," she says. "The people I work for are nice and treat me well but 48 days inside is a long time. "I'm grateful I could carry on working as many have lost their jobs."
Italy, France, Spain ease lockdowns after low coronavirus deaths
Italy, France and Spain are all beginning to loosen their stringent, weekslong coronavirus lockdowns. It comes as all three countries on Sunday reported their lowest coronavirus death and new infection rates in weeks. These countries are among the hardest-hit in Europe, with Italy being the world's coronavirus epicenter for much of March. All three countries have imposed strict lockdown measures since mid-March. Now, many aspects of normal life are being eased back in. Restrictions to travel, exercise, shopping, dining, funerals, and working patterns are all being reconsidered or partially lifted.
Spaniards soak up sun after lockdown eased, as daily death toll lowest in 6 weeks
Spain is gradually beginning its de-escalation from the strictest lockdown rules in Europe, with adults allowed outside for solo exercise near their homes for the first time since the confinement began on March 15. Four islands in the Canaries and the Balearics will be the first to transition to so-called "Phase One" on Monday, which will see a further opening up of small businesses and lifting of restrictions on movement.
France, Italy and Spain prepare to ease coronavirus lockdowns
The Guardian (late April) takes a closer look at European opening plans
Exit Strategies
The Guardian view on a lockdown exit strategy: get plans in place
The task, as Mr Speranza says, is to work out a way “to live with the virus” until a vaccine is discovered. Mr Sánchez has indicated that a ban on all non-essential work will be lifted after Easter. Other European countries, including France and Austria, where some shops will reopen next week, have also begun to game-plan the second phase of the crisis. The modus vivendi will, if it is to work, involve continued physical distancing, much greater testing and contact tracing in the community, and a functioning antibody test to establish who has had and recovered from the disease.
Germany set to pass lockdown decisions back to states
Germany could soon see all shops reopen and all students return to school in stages. The mooted changes would curtail Germany's largely nationwide approach to restrictions, restoring an even freer hand to the states.
Hope and Worry Mingle as Countries Relax Coronavirus Lockdowns
At least a dozen countries pulled back on restrictions put in place to combat the virus. But leaders warned that an uptick in infections could shut life down again.
Coronavirus: Bavarian beer gardens to reopen as lockdown measures eased in Germany
Restaurants and hotels are also set to reopen this month in the southeastern state of Bavaria.. In a more immediate lifting of coronavirus lockdown measures, families in Bavaria will be able to visit elderly relatives in care homes again from Wednesday. Mr Soeder is among the first state governors to announce concrete plans to further reopen the economy. Bavaria - which is Germany's second-most populous state and contains the city of Munich - had the highest per capita coronavirus infection rate in the country.
Coronavirus and college: UC Berkeley chancellor expects hybrid plan, no tuition break for fall
UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ expects the school to adopt a “hybrid plan” for the fall semester, with some classes in person and others online. Christ, speaking Tuesday during an online panel discussion with other campus leaders, made her most extensive public comments about Cal’s plans for the fall. She said the school will make a final decision by mid-June and intends to have “a semester in the cloud for students who cannot come to campus.”
Coronavirus: 'Segment and shield' way to lift UK lockdown now
Strengthening protection for people shielding, while easing restrictions for everyone else, is the only immediate way to safely lift the UK's coronavirus lockdown, researchers say. They say people could be sorted into three groups by risk - the most vulnerable, those caring for or living with them and everyone else. It is not pain-free or perfect, they say, but could lift curbs for many yet still protect the NHS and save lives. Their unpublished work uses modelling.
Coronavirus: Possible post-lockdown workplace rules revealed
Reduced hot-desking and alternatives to social distancing where it is not possible are among measures being considered to let workplaces reopen. One of seven draft plans to ease anti-coronavirus restrictions, seen by the BBC, also urges employers to minimise numbers using equipment, stagger shift times and maximise home-working. PM Boris Johnson is to reveal a "roadmap" out of lockdown on Sunday. But the UK must not lift restrictions too soon, he said in a video message.
Plan to lift Wales' coronavirus lockdown revealed - with a warning that 'even more' will be asked of us
Health minister Vaughan Gething said the Welsh Government hoped the 'highly ambitious' plan would be ready at the end of the month.
French Law Firms Prepare for a 'Soft Opening' After COVID-19 Lockdown
Managing partners say that while their offices will be ready to welcome lawyers and staff May 11, most will probably choose to stay home for now.
Europe’s reopening road map: How 11 countries are beginning to lift lockdowns
Europe is gingerly trying to get back to business, with restrictions loosening across the continent as the spread of the coronavirus slows. The German Spy Museum in Berlin opened its doors for the first time in weeks, bars in central Rome began offering takeaway services, and shaggy-haired Austrians flocked to barbers’ shops in Vienna. With Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Germany all relaxing some of their restrictions on Monday, Europe is settling down to a new normal as it returns to public life. It’s slower and less dynamic than before, and some restrictions will remain in place for weeks or even months, with face masks—ranging from clinical coverings to brightly colored homemade varieties—a ubiquitous reminder of the changes.
Portugal starts to emerge from coronavirus lockdown
Portugal will begin to ease its coronavirus lockdown on Monday, with small shops, hair salons and car dealers resuming operations as a state of emergency was lifted after more than six weeks. The wearing of face masks or visors in stores and on public transport is compulsory under the government's plan unveiled last week for the gradual reopening of the country.
Coronavirus UK: Boris Johnson to ease lockdown restrictions in workplaces | Health
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said on Sunday that Britons would need to live with “some degree of constraint” until a vaccination became available. “Ultimately, unless and until we have a vaccine then I suspect that we are going to have to live with some degree of constraint because of the nature of the virus,” he said. “But we obviously want to, wherever possible, and consistent with the measures on public health, restore people’s lives to as close to normal as possible.” Here is a looks at what the nation’s workplaces might look like once restrictions are lifted.
Coronavirus France: Cameras to monitor masks and social distancing
Video surveillance cameras in France will monitor how many people are wearing masks and their compliance with social distancing when the coronavirus lockdown is eased next week. The resort city of Cannes on the Côte d'Azur has trialled the monitoring software, installed at outdoor markets and on buses. It is not clear how many other cities will adopt this digital surveillance. French firm Datakalab says its software does not violate EU data privacy law.
France toll tops 25,000, PM defends post-lockdown plan
Spain began a four-phase plan to reopen the country by the end of June, while the 24-hour death tally from coronavirus stayed under 200 for the second day in a row. Red Cross workers handed out protective masks at Madrid's metro stations today as mask usage in public transport is mandatory. Small businesses like beauty salons and bookstores can start limited services and customers can pick up take-away orders from restaurants. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday that six million masks were due to be distributed in Spain, one of the worst-hit nations by the global pandemic.
Coronavirus: France gets ‘green, yellow and red zones’ to help guide lockdown easing
France has been split into red, orange and green zones to show how the lockdown may be relaxed across the country. The health minister has revealed a map showing the worst-affected areas by coronavirus by measuring the circulation of Covid-19 and the burden on intensive care units in different regions. It will serve as a reference when the country eases confinement measures after 11 May. The government has said "green zones" will be able to lift some restrictions more rapidly than "red zones", which currently includes the whole of the Paris region and northeast France.
Australians told how coronavirus restrictions will be eased ahead of Friday's announcement
Australians have been told how coronavirus restrictions will slowly be lifted. Scott Morrison said easing of rules conditional on uptake of COVID-19 app. Chief medical officer said a slow, staggered move out of lockdown was likely. Community sports could restart first along with partial university reopenings. Each stage of restriction easing would need to be reviewed over multiple weeks. Comes as psychology expert said return to society could be a shock for some. 'You’ve been on your own so much - it might be a little odd,' the expert said
Coronavirus restrictions could become 'new normal' until vaccine found
Some social distancing measures will remain in place until a coronavirus vaccine is developed but ministers will seek to restore people's lives to "as close to normal as possible", a Cabinet minister today told the daily news conference. Michael Gove warned people would have to live with "some degree of constraint" until they can be immunised against the deadly disease - suggesting Britons would have to accept a "new normal".
Coronavirus restrictions on 1.8m 'shielded' people to be reviewed
Blanket restrictions on nearly two million people told to shield due to the coronavirus will be reviewed in a bid to create “more stratified” guidance, according to England’s deputy chief medical officer. At the start of the lockdown, 1.8 million people in England were asked to stay indoors for 12 weeks as they were considered most at risk from Covid-19. Speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, Dr Jenny Harries said officials were “trying to review” the restrictive rules “because we do recognise that asking somebody to stay shielded … for a very long period of time … is quite a difficult thing for them to do.”
Australia edges closer to lifting coronavirus restrictions as app downloads surpass 4million
ABF has given the go-ahead for NZ Warriors to travel to Australia on Sunday. Downloads for the coronavirus tracing app have surpassed four million. Scott Morrison said pubs could reopen sooner if more people download the app. Officials are expecting millions more to download the app by Friday next week. The national cabinet has brought forward the decision to ease restrictions
France and Spain reveal plans to relax lockdown
Shops and schools across France will reopen and free movement will be restored within 60 miles of homes when the lockdown is eased on May 11, the government announced last night.Alongside measures
Coronavirus: French PM to set out road to normality, restrictions ease in Australia
Western Australia and Queensland cautiously loosen social distancing rules, while Beijing bans ‘uncivilised’ behaviour
Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon rejects claims of lockdown lift in May
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has denied claims that lockdown restrictions could be lifted next month. Several Sunday papers have reported that lockdown measures could be relaxed from 11 May, including the re-opening of schools and some retailers. Ms Sturgeon said it was still not possible to say when schools in Scotland would reopen. She said that all decisions must be "solidly based and not premature". Three days ago, Ms Sturgeon announced that Scotland's coronavirus lockdown would continue for "at least another three weeks".
Partisan Exits
Live updates: Vice President Pence says coronavirus task force could be disbanded within a month
Vice President Pence told reporters today that the coronavirus task force created to manage the federal government’s response to the pandemic could be disbanded within a month because “of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.” The number of people who have died in the U.S. from covid-19 passed 70,000 on Tuesday, with nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases, according to state health departments and tracking by The Washington Post.
America's coronavirus reopening debate comes down to how much a human life is worth, New York governor says
Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday said debates on how soon states should ease social distancing restrictions come down to the value of human life -- and that policymakers are avoiding saying so explicitly. Cuomo, whose state by far has the most recorded coronavirus cases, reacted Tuesday to projections that the country's coronavirus death rate will soar because many states are easing restrictions now. "The fundamental question, which we're not articulating, is how much is a human life worth?" Cuomo said at a news conference.
U.S. daily coronavirus death rate will more than double by June 1, draft government report projects
Covid-19 deaths in the United States will rise to more than 3,000 a day by June 1, with new confirmed cases surging to about 200,000 daily, a draft government report projects. The predictions belie the projections made Sunday evening by President Trump, who said the U.S. could eventually suffer as many as 100,000 deaths. At 3,000 deaths per day and rising, the national total would quickly outstrip that number if the new report is correct.
Coronavirus Reopening: Cuomo Outlines May 15 Regional Reopening Criteria
On the topic of reopening, he said it would be “more complicated then the close down,” which he called “a blunt operation.” Reopening is “more nuanced, you have to be more careful,” the governor said. The reopening will be phased and work hand-in-hand with measuring certain metrics. “It’s not going to happen state-wide,” Cuomo said. “And rather than wait for the whole state to be ready, reopen on a regional basis. If upstate has to wait for downstate to be ready, they’re going to be waiting a long time. So, analyze the situation on a regional basis.”
The price of reopening the economy: tens of thousands of American lives
In an interview published in Tuesday's edition of the New York Post, Trump said Americans were ready come out of isolation and get back to normal life. "I think they're starting to feel good now. The country's opening again. We saved millions of lives, I think," Trump said. "You have to be careful, but you have to get back to work," he said. "People want the country open... I guess we have 38 states that are either opening or are very close." A Washington Post and University of Maryland national poll released Tuesday finds Americans widely oppose reopening most businesses. While 56% said they are comfortable going to the grocery store now, 67% said they would be uncomfortable visiting a retail store and 78% said they'd be uncomfortable going to a sit-down restaurant, according to the poll.
Coronavirus model projects 134,000 deaths in US, nearly double its last estimate
Ali Mokdad, a professor of Health Metrics Sciences at IHME, told CNN's John King that there are "several reasons" for the increased projections. "One of them is increased mobility before the relaxation, premature relaxation, of social distancing," he said. "We're adding more presumptive deaths as well, and we're seeing a lot of outbreaks in the Midwest, for example." He said multiple variables impact infections -- like heat, testing capacity and population density -- but "the most important one is mobility." Right now, he said, "we're seeing an increase in mobility that's leading to an increase in mortality, unfortunately, in the United States."
The reopening gamble: Set your timer for three weeks
Set a timer for three weeks. By late May, we should know whether certain US states collected on a major gamble or committed a hideous error by reopening their economies. If a tide of sickness and death overwhelms the early openers, lockdowns may return, making Americans' trudge back toward normal economic life even slower and more painful. But if infections can be kept at manageable levels, these pioneers may begin to piece together a vision of the "new normal" that everyone keeps talking about. The good news is that some of the states beginning to open up — like South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin were never as savagely hit as states like New York, California and Michigan. The bad news is that their turn may be next. Science warns the virus is still out there, waiting for an opening.
Warmer weather and debate over restrictions drive Americans outside while coronavirus cases rise
From California to New York, more Americans are headed outside -- some for recreation and others in protest. But as some states loosen or let go of their stay-at-home orders, researchers predict a higher death toll from coronavirus this summer than previously expected. As of Sunday, more than 1.1 million people in the US have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 67,000 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. States such as California have stood firm on their stay-at-home orders -- and have been met with protests.
Northern Ireland church leaders urge politicians to consider easing coronavirus restrictions
The leaders of Northern Ireland's main Churches have urged politicians to consider easing restrictions on private prayer in church buildings "sooner rather than later". In a joint statement, the leaders of the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church and the Irish Council of Churches, said they accept that now is not the time for "a full return" to collective worship in our Churches. However, they asked for the issue to be reviewed regularly.
Reopening of America: More than half of states will lift coronavirus restrictions by the end of the week
In Nevada, a chanting crowd of protesters marched up to the door of the governor’s residence on Saturday, drawing police who stood with automatic weapons. And a group demanding to “Fully Open California” organized to cause traffic gridlock in Laguna Beach. With confirmed US. deaths topping 65,000, efforts to reopen the country also are sparking outcries about public safety. But officials have battled crowds and some public resistance to mask-wearing and social distancing measures.
States are easing coronavirus restrictions and 'it's going to cost lives,' researcher says
"You're making a big mistake. It's going to cost lives," Dr. Irwin Redlener, a pediatrician and disaster preparedness specialist at Columbia University Medical Center, told CNN on Friday. Redlener and Joseph Fair, a senior fellow in pandemic policy at Texas A&M University, sent a report to all governors on Friday, warning them that no state or city should reduce restrictions until coronavirus infections have been steadily decreasing for 10 days to two weeks, and not until enough tests are available to assess just how many people really are infected. Redlener's warning comes as more than 30 states are easing social distancing restrictions this weekend. The changes ranged from opening state parks to allowing some businesses to restart.
As Coronavirus Restrictions Ease, Many Still Wary
As states around the country begin lifting stay-at-home orders, individuals face their own choice over whether it feels safe to resume activities we all used to take for granted. We asked NPR listeners to tell us how they are making these decisions and nearly 250 people responded. In general, it's clear that even as local officials lift restrictions, many people plan to wait longer before resuming their old routines. "As long as there are new cases, I think it's not really safe," says Naomi Silas, a freelance graphic designer and graduate student in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Coronavirus: Lockdown should ease to help economy, says Philip Hammond
Former chancellor Philip Hammond has urged the government to set out its plan to restart the economy. Ministers have been reluctant to discuss a lockdown exit strategy, arguing that it might undermine the message for people to stay at home. Mr Hammond said the country cannot afford to wait until a vaccine is developed and called on the government to start easing lockdown measures.
Continued Lockdown
Coronavirus: Robin Swann says lockdown debate getting ahead of itself
The debate about easing Northern Ireland's pandemic lockdown restrictions is "getting ahead of itself", the health minister has said. A further 17 Covid-19 related deaths in NI were reported by Robin Swann's department, bringing its total to 404. The executive is holding talks about whether to relax any measures to curb the spread of the virus. "Call it my May Day alert," said Mr Swann, as he urged people to stay at home this bank holiday weekend.
Coronavirus: Cobourg, Port Hope staying the course on closures, restrictions for now
Northumberland County has not seen a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in quite some time now. As of May 5, the area has seen 13 confirmed cases — all of which have been resolved, according to numbers provided by the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit. But that doesn’t mean the Town of Cobourg and the Municipality of Port Hope are jumping at the idea of lifting restrictions and reopening facilities and amenities just yet.
Gov. Tom Wolf talks about coronavirus and reopening more of Pennsylvania
Wolf didn’t offer a timetable for opening another series of counties, including the southcentral part of the state. “There is no schedule,” Wolf said. Last week, Wolf had said some southcentral counties could be among the candidates for reopening, but he didn’t identify those counties. He didn’t offer any new hints in Tuesday’s media call. Wolf said the state hasn’t made a decision to remove the number of cases in nursing homes and prisons when examining counties for reopening. He did say those cases would be considered in making decisions. “The goal is to keep people safe,” Wolf said.
Defying French lockdown lift, Guadeloupe says won't open schools now
Mayors in Guadeloupe, a French overseas department in the Caribbean, have voted against reopening schools next week as stipulated in plans drawn up in Paris for easing the coronavirus lockdown. The region, like France’s other overseas territories scattered around the world, is subject to French laws, but mayors have authority over schools. On Monday, they gathered in an extraordinary “territorial conference” with the archipelago’s departmental and regional presidents to discuss the reopening of schools. Of the 32 mayors, 29 voted against restarting classes when the lockdown starts to be eased in France from May 11, saying students should go back only in September.
Scientific Viewpoint
Countries lifting coronavirus lockdown too early will increase deaths and cause economic meltdown, a top scientist warns
Yaneer Bar-Yam, from EndCoronavirus.org, a group made up of scientists from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), said America was not ready to open up because it was slow off the mark with its lockdown. Tweeting a graphic comparing countries that crushed the infection curve, he said: "Overwhelming data says opening prematurely will increase cases, escalate loss of life and economic harm. "Countries that acted late to impose social distancing and testing are suffering. "Countries that acted early soon will safely restart economies. "Don’t play with fire."
Workers should work 'four days on, 10 days off' to ease coronavirus lockdown
The government should tell businesses to enact a “four days on, 10 days off” policy for workers once the coronavirus lockdown is eased, according to one of the UK’s leading chemical biologists. Chair of chemical biology at Imperial College London Professor Keith Willison, writing for the neoliberal think tank Adam Smith Institute, said this cyclical plan would help avoid a second peak while getting the economy moving again.
Coronavirus lockdown should continue for elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, academics say
“Segmentation and shielding recognises that, although social distancing impacts on the whole of society, the public health burden of Covid-19 is concentrated in a subset of vulnerable people,” said Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. “By targeting protection to those that need it most, the strategy helps to ensure that the health system is not overwhelmed by severe cases, while giving policy makers greater leeway to partially relax social distancing measures for the majority of the population,” he said. The academics have modelled a range of scenarios to illustrate how different restrictions could be applied to different groups. They have sent their findings to the UK and Scottish Governments.
New report models Italy's potential exit strategy from COVID-19 lockdown | Imperial News
It finds that if the country returns to just 20% of mobility levels before the lockdown – mobility being a measure of people going to work, shops, visiting friends and family etc. – then deaths could rise again within just three weeks. The authors warn that some social distancing measures will need to remain in place, along with testing, contact-tracing and isolation of people infected with Covid-19, to keep transmission in check and prevent a resurgence of the outbreak.
Coronavirus: Italy 'could be heading for deadlier second peak' after easing lockdown, scientists warn
Italy could be set for a “second peak” of deaths after easing its lockown measures, researchers tracking the coronavirus outbreak have predicted. According to analysis carried out by Imperial College London, the country could be set for a large increase in deaths within three weeks of partially lifting its social-distancing restrictions. Currently, Italy has the second highest-death rate in Europe, with 29,315 deaths, behind 29,502 in the UK. But researchers from Imperial have forecast a second spike will take place if the country returns to just 20 percent of its pre-lockdown mobility levels – a measure of how much people leave the home.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 11th Oct 2021

One Minute Overview

Anxiety surged during pandemic, particularly among women - study  - The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in anxiety and major depressive disorders across the world, particularly among women and young people, a study published in the Lancet on Friday found. Young people suffered as school closures kept them away from friends, and many women found themselves bearing the brunt of household work and facing an increased risk of domestic violence, the researchers said. The study, led by academics at the University of Queensland, Australia, recorded 76 million additional cases of anxiety disorders and 53 million of major depressive disorder as COVID-19 spread in 2020.

Latvia Declares Three-Month Covid State of Emergency - The Latvian government declared a three-month state of emergency after coronavirus infections hit a record and hospitalizations rose, the country’s public broadcaster reported. The state of emergency will start on Oct. 11, and will mandate vaccinations for public sector workers, restrictions on retail and bars and push more people to work from home. Latvia recorded a record 1,752 new Covid cases on Thursday, with more than 700 in the hospital.

The Pandemic’s Toll on Women’s Careers - For all the change brought on by the pandemic, women in white-collar roles still made strides at nearly every level of U.S. companies last year, a comprehensive new study shows. The proportion of women in the corporate workforce didn’t decline significantly last year, and the number of women holding some senior roles increased, according to data from the 2021 Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org. But the report also found that women are experiencing higher rates of burnout than men, and are questioning whether they want to remain with their companies and on their existing career paths. Lareina Yee, a senior partner at McKinsey who previously served as the firm’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, and Rachel Thomas, Lean In’s co-founder and CEO, spoke separately with the Journal about some of the takeaways from this year’s report. Here are edited excerpts of the conversations.

Italy widens COVID-19 vaccine booster campaign to frail and over 60s - Italy has decided to provide a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to frail people regardless of their age as well as people aged 60 and over, the health ministry said on Friday. The booster dose would be available on condition that at least six months have passed since people completed their primary vaccination cycle, the ministry said in a statement. The European Union's drugs regulator said on Monday people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should have a booster

Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in US vaccines - The number of Americans getting COVID-19 vaccines has steadily increased to a three-month high as seniors and people with medical conditions seek boosters, and government and employer mandates push more workers to take their first doses.

Coronavirus: as Australia plans border reopening, stranded citizens wait with anxiety, trepidation -  But with promises of being able to return home for Christmas 2020 still ringing in their ears, many stranded Australians dare not hope the ordeal is over, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to ease strict controls on overseas citizens returning home within weeks and to cut quarantine for those who have been vaccinated to seven days at home – rather than 14 at a hotel

Bangkok's reopening to be postponed - Bangkok's reopening for inoculated tourists will be delayed by two weeks as most of the city's residents are still waiting for their second jabs, while the tourism ministry has pledged to open the city to bring at least 1 million international tourists this year. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the appropriate timeline for Bangkok should be postponed from Oct 1 to Oct 15 as the capital city is expected to have administered Covid-19 vaccines to 70% of its residents by then. At present, 37% of population is fully vaccinated, while another 33% are in the 8-12 week interval following their first AstraZeneca shot.

Russians flock to Serbia for Western-made COVID-19 vaccines  - When Russian regulators approved the country's own coronavirus vaccine, it was a moment of national pride, and the Pavlov family was among those who rushed to take the injection. But international health authorities have not yet given their blessing to the Sputnik V shot. So when the family from Rostov-on-Don wanted to visit the West, they looked for a vaccine that would allow them to travel freely — a quest that brought them to Serbia, where hundreds of Russian citizens have flocked in recent weeks to receive Western-approved COVID-19 shots.

Nearly 2 million over-50s have yet to first Covid vaccine, despite booster drive kicking off already - As many as 2million people over the age of 50 in England still haven't had a single Covid vaccine, official figures suggest. MailOnline's analysis of NHS vaccination data means about one in 10 of those who were prioritised in the jab rollout still haven't come forward. Up to 127,288 over-80s remain unvaccinated, despite the programme opening to them as the very first age group last December.
Age is the one of the biggest single risk factors for Covid. Yet, the analysis shows there are as many as 249,727 un-jabbed people in their 70s in England.

More organ transplant centers require patients to get Covid-19 vaccine or bumped down waitlist - A Colorado kidney transplant candidate who was bumped to inactive status for failing to get a covid-19 vaccine has become the most public example of an argument roiling the nation's more than 250 organ transplant centers. Across the country, growing numbers of transplant programs have chosen to either bar patients who refuse to take the widely available covid vaccines from receiving transplants, or give them lower priority on crowded organ waitlists. Other programs, however, say they plan no such restrictions — for now.

Indonesian volunteers help to bury COVID victims - The COVID-19 situation in Indonesia has improved, but the pandemic is still claiming victims. And where there are victims, there are funerals. Here's where tireless volunteers have stepped up to provide much-needed help.

7% of Israel’s serious COVID cases had three vaccine shots - Some 7% of Israel’s serious and critical COVID-19 cases were vaccinated with three shots of the coronavirus vaccine, according to data released Friday morning by the Health Ministry. However, the number of new daily cases is declining and the government voted to roll out the Green Class outline in several green cities on Sunday to help keep children out of isolation. “I cannot say that 7% is a lot,” Health Minister Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash told The Jerusalem Post. “The vaccine, even the third shot, does not work at 100%. It is 95% effective.”

Merck drug less effective against moderate COVID -India regulatory source - Merck & Co's experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir has not shown 'significant efficacy' against moderate COVID-19, a source with the Drug Controller General of India said. Aurobindo Pharma Ltd wants to discontinue a late-stage trial of molnupiravir in moderate COVID-19 patients, the regulator's expert committee said on Friday. 'There is no significant efficacy against moderate COVID and the effective efficacy is towards mild cases,' the source said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the discussions.

Covid Hospitalizations Rise in Colorado Even With High Vaccination Rate - Covid-19 hospitalizations are rising again in Colorado even with more than 70% of those eligible in the state vaccinated, health officials said Friday. The recent daily average has been around 900 hospitalizations, one of the highest readings since the pandemic started in March 2020, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Two weeks ago, the average was running around 875. An estimated 40% of intensive care unit patients in Colorado are infected with Covid-19, and ICU capacity is running at roughly 86%, data show. The delta variant and its relatives account for “100%” of known cases in the state, demonstrating delta’s staying power, Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said during an online news briefing.

‘Crisis unfolding’ as Papua New Guinea hospitals hit by worst Covid wave yet - Hospitals in Papua New Guinea are being pushed to the brink and morgues are overflowing, as the country suffers what health authorities say is the worst surge in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. The country’s health care system has long been plagued by shortages of drugs, funding, an ailing infrastructure and a severe lack of health workers. Now, major hospitals around Papua New Guinea have been forced to scale down vital medical services while at least one says it may be forced to close altogether.

COVID-19: Calls for stronger safety measures in schools amid pupil infection surge - Education unions have called for the reintroduction of extra safety measures in schools after official estimates showed around 270,000 secondary pupils had COVID-19 last week. The demand for action came as an expert warned about the level of coronavirus circulating among older children. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that around one in 15 children in school years 7 to 11 in England are estimated to have had COVID-19 in the week to 2 October. This was the highest positivity rate for any age group and up from one in 20 during the previous seven-day period.

Lockdown Exit
As International Travel Returns, Confusion Over Coronavirus Vaccines Reigns
When Turkey was taken off Britain’s red list for travel last month, Sally Morrow, an English expatriate living in the Turkish capital of Ankara, rushed to her computer and booked flights to London, so that she could reunite with her ailing parents after more than six months apart. But soon after her ticket confirmation came through, Ms. Morrow, 47, read that the certificate she received when she was vaccinated in Turkey — with the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine — would not be accepted in Britain. As a result, Ms. Morrow would be required to quarantine for 10 days and take at least three negative coronavirus tests before being permitted to leave isolation there. “I had the Pfizer jab, the Rolls-Royce of vaccines, the exact same one as millions of Brits, yet I’m considered unvaccinated simply because I got my vaccine abroad,” Ms. Morrow said.
COVID-19 Special: Bolsonaro's Pandemic Failure
Brazilian President Bolsonaro called it "a little flu". Now his country has the highest coronavirus death toll after the United States. Infection and death rates are slowly easing but that's little consolation for the bereaved.
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over
The goal for all countries is to make it to the blue section of the chart and stay there. Countries and territories in this section have reported no new cases for four weeks in a row. Currently, that is the case for five out of 188 countries and territories. How has the COVID-19 trend evolved over the past weeks? The situation has deteriorated slightly: 65 countries have reported more cases in the past two weeks compared with the previous 14 days. What is the current COVID-19 trend in my country? Based on the newly reported case numbers — which can reflect local outbreaks as well as the countrywide spread — in the past 28 days, countries and territories classify as follows:
New FDA chief can't come soon enough for beleaguered agency
Straining under a pandemic workload and battered by a string of public controversies, one of the leading agencies in the government’s fight against COVID-19 is finally on the verge of getting a new commissioner. After nearly nine months of searching, President Joe Biden says he’s close to naming his choice to lead the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees vaccines, drugs and tests. Former FDA officials and other experts say the decision cannot come soon enough for the agency’s beleaguered regulators. Thousands of FDA staffers are exhausted after racing for more than a year and a half to review products to battle the coronavirus, and the agency’s reputation for rigorous, science-based regulation has been threatened by contentious disputes over COVID-19 booster shots and an unproven new Alzheimer’s drug.
The Pandemic’s Toll on Women’s Careers
For all the change brought on by the pandemic, women in white-collar roles still made strides at nearly every level of U.S. companies last year, a comprehensive new study shows. The proportion of women in the corporate workforce didn’t decline significantly last year, and the number of women holding some senior roles increased, according to data from the 2021 Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org. But the report also found that women are experiencing higher rates of burnout than men, and are questioning whether they want to remain with their companies and on their existing career paths. Lareina Yee, a senior partner at McKinsey who previously served as the firm’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, and Rachel Thomas, Lean In’s co-founder and CEO, spoke separately with the Journal about some of the takeaways from this year’s report. Here are edited excerpts of the conversations.
Latvia Declares Three-Month Covid State of Emergency
The Latvian government declared a three-month state of emergency after coronavirus infections hit a record and hospitalizations rose, the country’s public broadcaster reported. The state of emergency will start on Oct. 11, and will mandate vaccinations for public sector workers, restrictions on retail and bars and push more people to work from home. Latvia recorded a record 1,752 new Covid cases on Thursday, with more than 700 in the hospital.
U.S. will accept WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines for international visitors
The United States will accept the use by international visitors of COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late on Friday. On Sept. 20, the White House announced the United States in November would lift travel restrictions on air travelers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It did not specify then which vaccines would be accepted. A CDC spokeswoman told Reuters Friday, "Six vaccines that are FDA authorized/approved or listed for emergency use by WHO will meet the criteria for travel to the U.S."
Anxiety surged during pandemic, particularly among women - study
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in anxiety and major depressive disorders across the world, particularly among women and young people, a study published in the Lancet on Friday found. Young people suffered as school closures kept them away from friends, and many women found themselves bearing the brunt of household work and facing an increased risk of domestic violence, the researchers said. The study, led by academics at the University of Queensland, Australia, recorded 76 million additional cases of anxiety disorders and 53 million of major depressive disorder as COVID-19 spread in 2020.
Exit Strategies
Italy widens COVID-19 vaccine booster campaign to frail and over 60s
Italy has decided to provide a booster shot of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to frail people regardless of their age as well as people aged 60 and over, the health ministry said on Friday. The booster dose would be available on condition that at least six months have passed since people completed their primary vaccination cycle, the ministry said in a statement. The European Union's drugs regulator said on Monday people with weakened immune systems should get a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna but left it to member states to decide if the wider population should have a booster
Wasted COVID vaccine doses in Louisiana swell to 224,000
Louisiana’s problem of wasted COVID-19 vaccine shots continues to balloon, with about 224,000 doses thrown out across the state as health providers can’t find enough residents willing to roll up their sleeves. The number of trashed doses has nearly tripled since the end of July, even as Louisiana grappled with a fourth, deadly surge of the coronavirus pandemic during that time that led to increased interest in the vaccines. The latest data provided to The Associated Press by the Louisiana Department of Health showed 223,918 doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been thrown out.
Brazil has lined up 350 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for 2022, Health Minster says
Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Friday the country has already acquired, or is in advanced talks to secure, around 350 million vaccine doses for 2022. Queiroga said that although Sinovac's Coronavac vaccine was not currently part of plans for the national campaign next year, it could be incorporated if it receives full approval from Brazil's health regulator.
Singapore expands quarantine-free travel, eyes COVID-19 'new normal'
Singapore is opening its borders to more countries for quarantine-free travel as the city-state seeks to rebuild its status as an international aviation hub, and prepares to reach a "new normal" to live with COVID-19. From Oct. 19 fully vaccinated people from eight countries, including Britain, France, Spain and the United States, will be able to enter the island without quarantining if they pass their COVID-19 tests, the government said on Saturday. The announcement marks a major step in Singapore's strategy to resume international links.
Russians flock to Serbia for Western-made COVID-19 vaccines
When Russian regulators approved the country's own coronavirus vaccine, it was a moment of national pride, and the Pavlov family was among those who rushed to take the injection. But international health authorities have not yet given their blessing to the Sputnik V shot. So when the family from Rostov-on-Don wanted to visit the West, they looked for a vaccine that would allow them to travel freely — a quest that brought them to Serbia, where hundreds of Russian citizens have flocked in recent weeks to receive Western-approved COVID-19 shots.
Canadian province of Ontario to further ease pandemic restrictions
Ontario is lifting capacity limits on concert venues, theaters and spectator facilities at sports games as of Saturday at midnight, the government of Canada's most populous province said on Friday, while continuing to require proof of vaccination and masks. Limited numbers of outbreaks in those settings have been reported, a statement from the provincial government said. Meeting and event spaces as well as horse racing facilities will be included, although indoor meeting and event spaces must be able to maintain physical distancing between people.
Australia braces for more COVID-19 infections as country moves towards re-opening
Australia was bracing for more COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations, officials said on Saturday, even as it moves toward gradually easing pandemic restrictions with the vast majority of its people getting vaccinated against the virus. Sydney, in a lockdown for more than 100 days, is to ease some key restrictions for the fully vaccinated from Monday. More than 70% of people across New South Wales state, of which Sydney is the capital, have been fully vaccinated. "We know that as we open up, case numbers will increase," said New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet. "But what has been key to keeping people safe is our high vaccination rate."
As Sydney readies to exit lockdown, doctors fret re-opening is moving too fast
Australian doctors warned a too-rapid easing of COVID-19 curbs in Sydney could put pressure on health systems and risk lives, as the city prepares for key restrictions to be relaxed next week after more than 100 days in lockdown. Stay-at-home orders are due to be lifted on Monday after New South Wales state this week hit its 70% target of full vaccination for its adult population, and owners of restaurants and other public venues are now scrambling to arrange supplies and staffing. While an easing of restrictions on travel for Sydneysiders outside of their local government areas had previously been flagged, authorities on Thursday also decided to bump up permitted limits for home gatherings, weddings and funerals - earning the ire of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
India set to reopen for foreign travellers from 15 October
India will reopen to tourism from October 15, the government said, after more than a year of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Foreign nationals will be able to apply for a visa for the first time since March 2020, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposed a strict lockdown in response to the pandemic. “After considering various inputs, the MHA (home ministry) has decided to begin granting fresh Tourist Visas for foreigners coming to India through chartered flights with effect from 15 October, 2021,” the home ministry said in a statement on 7 October. It added that foreigners traveling to India via commercial flights will be able to enter on fresh tourist visas starting November 15, 2021. The home ministry has said all COVID-19 protocols “should be adhered to
NSW hits ‘impressive’ vaccination target as 580 new Covid cases recorded
Almost 90 per cent of eligible NSW residents have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The state is expected to reach the milestone within the next two days. Premier Dominic Perrottet applauded NSW residents coming forward for their jabs. However, he said some Sydney postcodes were languishing at less than 50 per cent double-dose rates. “Vaccination is incredibly important. We know it keeps people safe, particularly those in vulnerable communities,” Mr Perrottet said. “To be in a position as we come close to a 90 per cent first-dose vaccination rate is impressive.”
Pfizer shots offered to Novavax trial volunteers so they can travel
Britain announced that it will offer new vaccinations to thousands of people who volunteered for trials of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine, which hasn’t yet been approved for use in any country. About 15,000 people in Britain got Novavax shots as part of a clinical trial. While Britain recognises them as vaccinated, most countries don’t, meaning they can’t travel. Britain’s health department said on Friday that more than 15,000 participants would be given two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The government says it plans to expand the offer to about 6000 British participants in trials of other vaccines that also haven’t been approved for use. Britain has appealed to other members of the Group of 20 nations to classify clinical trial volunteers as vaccinated, but most haven’t done so.
Bangkok's reopening to be postponed
Bangkok's reopening for inoculated tourists will be delayed by two weeks as most of the city's residents are still waiting for their second jabs, while the tourism ministry has pledged to open the city to bring at least 1 million international tourists this year. Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, the tourism and sports minister, said the appropriate timeline for Bangkok should be postponed from Oct 1 to Oct 15 as the capital city is expected to have administered Covid-19 vaccines to 70% of its residents by then. At present, 37% of population is fully vaccinated, while another 33% are in the 8-12 week interval following their first AstraZeneca shot.
Govt slams 'Pfizer jab is a killer' claim
The government has condemned a claim that the Pfizer mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, being offered to students aged 12-17 as part of the plan to reopen schools in November, will have fatal consequences for all recipients within two years. In a message spread via the Line app by several teenage groups campaigning against the Pfizer vaccination programme for young people, it was claimed the vaccine was a tool for committing genocide against young people as they would eventually die within two years if injected with the vaccine, said Dr Chawetsan Namwat, director of the Emergency Health Hazard and Disease Control Division. This claim is believed to have fuelled fears among the parents of many students who appear reluctant to give their consent to have their children vaccinated, he said.
San Francisco to welcome cruise ships after 19-month hiatus
Cruise ships are returning to San Francisco after a 19-month hiatus brought on by the pandemic in what’s sure to be a boost to the city’s economy, the mayor announced Friday. The Majestic Princess will sail into the port of San Francisco Monday, the first cruise ship to dock in the San Francisco Bay Area since March 2020 when the Grand Princess captured the world’s attention and made the coronavirus real to millions in the United States. The ship was carrying people infected with the coronavirus, and thousands of passengers aboard were quarantined as the ship idled off the California coast. The port of San Francisco, home to the Bay Area’s only passenger cruise terminal, expects to welcome 21 cruise ships through the remainder of the year.
Nearly 2million over-50s have yet to first Covid vaccine, despite booster drive kicking off already
As many as 2million people over the age of 50 in England still haven't had a single Covid vaccine, official figures suggest. MailOnline's analysis of NHS vaccination data means about one in 10 of those who were prioritised in the jab rollout still haven't come forward. Up to 127,288 over-80s remain unvaccinated, despite the programme opening to them as the very first age group last December. Age is the one of the biggest single risk factors for Covid. Yet, the analysis shows there are as many as 249,727 un-jabbed people in their 70s in England.
Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in US vaccines
The number of Americans getting COVID-19 vaccines has steadily increased to a three-month high as seniors and people with medical conditions seek boosters, and government and employer mandates push more workers to take their first doses.
Japan’s new PM promises to do his utmost to end COVID-19 crisis
In his first policy speech, Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to do his utmost to lead the country out of the COVID-19 crisis, while protecting its territory and people in an increasingly tough security environment. Kishida took the top job in the world’s third-largest economy on Monday, replacing Yoshihide Suga, who had seen his support undermined by surging COVID-19 infections. Daily cases have recently fallen and a long state of emergency was lifted this month. “I’m determined to devote body-and-soul to overcome this national crisis with the people, carve out a new era and pass on to the next generation a country whose citizens are rich at heart,” Kishida said in the speech to the lower house of parliament on Friday.
Give Asian youth a voice to decide their post-pandemic future
Like many of her generation, Pauline Mandrilla, a 23-year-old civil engineer from Manila, suddenly found herself jobless when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Mandrilla felt like a statistic, as she joined the ranks of some 22 per cent of unemployed Philippine youth affected by the pandemic’s economic fallout. “During the onset of the pandemic, we were placed in a no-work, no-pay situation,” Mandrilla recalled. “My previous job heavily relied on my being physically present on a construction site, but because of the quarantine restrictions, which halted public transportation in my region, I couldn’t go to work.”
Coronavirus: as Australia plans border reopening, stranded citizens wait with anxiety, trepidation
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged to ease strict controls on overseas citizens returning home within weeks and to cut quarantine for those who have been vaccinated to seven days at home – rather than 14 at a hotel But with promises of being able to return home for Christmas 2020 still ringing in their ears, many stranded Australians dare not hope the ordeal is over,
US will accept WHO-approved Covid-19 vaccines for international visitors
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said six vaccines approved by the FDA or listed by the world health body for emergency use will meet the criteria The US is preparing to lift restrictions on fully vaccinated air travellers from 33 countries including China, India, Brazil and most of Europe in November
Partisan Exits
Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Robin Swann issues fresh plea against 'vaccine lies' as four further deaths recorded
A further four deaths linked to Covid and a further 1,274 positive cases in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has recorded. The department’s figures, published on Saturday, now means the death toll stands at 2,585. To date, 2,548,548 vaccines have been administered here. The statistics come as Health Minister Robin Swann warned that those spreading "misinformation and lies" about Covid vaccines are putting lives at risk. Speaking at the Ulster Unionist Party conference in Belfast, its first gathering since 2018, Mr Swann praised the health service response to the Covid pandemic but also criticised those sceptical about vaccines.
NBA stars speak out against coronavirus vaccine mandate
Brooklyn Nets say Kyrie Irving is ineligible to play in a home preseason game, and people speculate it may be over his COVID vaccination status; Outkick founder Clay Travis provides insight on ‘Fox & Friends Weekend.’
Indonesian volunteers help to bury COVID victims
The COVID-19 situation in Indonesia has improved, but the pandemic is still claiming victims. And where there are victims, there are funerals. Here's where tireless volunteers have stepped up to provide much-needed help.
The callous cretins who kill during a pandemic
Jason Hargrove should be alive. For years, the 50-year-old married father of six children drove a city bus in Detroit, Michigan to make an “honest living.” Every weekday, he went to work to provide for his family. The local union president called Hargrove a “professional” who was dedicated to his job. Driving a bus can be risky. But, I suspect, Hargrove did not think that contracting a lethal virus was among the hazards. That was until late March 2020, when COVID-19 began to infect the United States and much of the world with the swiftness of a jet stream. It prompted Hargrove to record a brief video and post it on his Facebook account. For several minutes, Hargrove vented his anger, frustration and dread about the invisible threat boarding his bus. One news story described his short, urgent soliloquy as “profanity-laced”. So, what? He had every right and reason to use blunt words to call out the dunces who put him in danger – on and off a bus.
Anti-vaccine chiropractors rising force of misinformation
The flashy postcard, covered with images of syringes, beckoned people to attend Vax-Con ’21 to learn “the uncensored truth” about COVID-19 vaccines. Participants traveled from around the country to a Wisconsin Dells resort for a sold-out convention that was, in fact, a sea of misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and the pandemic. The featured speaker was the anti-vaccine activist who appeared in the 2020 movie “Plandemic,” which pushed false COVID-19 stories into the mainstream. One session after another discussed bogus claims about the health dangers of mask wearing and vaccines. The convention was organized by members of a profession that has become a major purveyor of vaccine misinformation during the pandemic: chiropractors.
More organ transplant centers require patients to get Covid-19 vaccine or bumped down waitlist
A Colorado kidney transplant candidate who was bumped to inactive status for failing to get a covid-19 vaccine has become the most public example of an argument roiling the nation's more than 250 organ transplant centers. Across the country, growing numbers of transplant programs have chosen to either bar patients who refuse to take the widely available covid vaccines from receiving transplants, or give them lower priority on crowded organ waitlists. Other programs, however, say they plan no such restrictions — for now.
U.S. Pushes Back Against Military Vaccine Mandate Lawsuit
A Justice Department lawyer pushed back on military personnel claims that kicking them out of the service for refusing to get vaccinated will result in harm that can never be compensated by a court. The service members sued this week to vacate a Pentagon vaccine mandate for all those in the military, arguing they face imminent harm if a court order isn’t issued temporarily blocking the requirement. They say they face dishonorable discharge or even two years in jail. “There is case law out there that says separation from the military is not irreparable harm,” Justice Department lawyer Andrew Carmichael said during a phone hearing Friday. He also said the U.S. should be given time to verify the claims by the anonymous service members.
Snow Leopard Dies at U.S. Zoo After Exhibiting Signs of Covid-19
A snow leopard died after displaying symptoms similar to Covid-19 at a U.S. zoo housing a confirmed case of the virus, officials announced Friday. Baya, age 2 1/2, exhibited signs of a cough followed by “inappetence and lethargy” and died Thursday, according to the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A necropsy is planned. One of the zoo’s Amur tigers tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19 this week, the zoo said. Other big cats have exhibited symptoms.
Scientific Viewpoint
7% of Israel’s serious COVID cases had three vaccine shots
Some 7% of Israel’s serious and critical COVID-19 cases were vaccinated with three shots of the coronavirus vaccine, according to data released Friday morning by the Health Ministry. However, the number of new daily cases is declining and the government voted to roll out the Green Class outline in several green cities on Sunday to help keep children out of isolation. “I cannot say that 7% is a lot,” Health Minister Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash told The Jerusalem Post. “The vaccine, even the third shot, does not work at 100%. It is 95% effective.”
Moderna, Racing for Profits, Keeps Covid Vaccine Out of Reach of Poor
Moderna, whose coronavirus vaccine appears to be the world’s best defense against Covid-19, has been supplying its shots almost exclusively to wealthy nations, keeping poorer countries waiting and earning billions in profit. After developing a breakthrough vaccine with the financial and scientific support of the U.S. government, Moderna has shipped a greater share of its doses to wealthy countries than any other vaccine manufacturer, according to Airfinity, a data firm that tracks vaccine shipments. About one million doses of Moderna’s vaccine have gone to countries that the World Bank classifies as low income. By contrast, 8.4 million Pfizer doses and about 25 million single-shot Johnson & Johnson doses have gone to those countries.
Novel vaccine strategy protects mice from COVID-19 and 4 related coronaviruses
The three marketed COVID-19 shots have validated the effectiveness of two vaccination technologies, mRNA and viral vector delivery. But the vaccines—from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—only protect against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that sparked the pandemic. So a team of researchers in Japan set out to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine in the hopes of preventing future pandemics. Scientists at Osaka University engineered antibodies that prevented SARS-CoV-2 from infecting healthy cells in mice, they reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. They were also effective against SARS-CoV-1, which caused a small outbreak in the early 2000s, and three coronaviruses found in pangolins and bats, they said. The experimental vaccination approach exploits the biology of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which shuttles the virus into human cells by binding to a cell surface receptor called ACE2. The spike protein’s receptor-binding domain has a “head” region that facilitates that binding as well as a “core” region. While the head of each type of coronavirus is distinctive, the core regions are virtually identical.
Pregnant women with symptomatic COVID-19 have an increased risk of emergency deliveries
Pregnant women who contract symptomatic cases of COVID-19 are much more likely to suffer emergency complications or have babies who need intensive care, a new study suggests. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, looked at more than 100 mothers-to-be who were diagnosed with the virus. More than half of pregnant women who developed symptoms had emergency deliveries compared to about four in 10 women without symptoms. Additionally, babies born to symptomatic mothers were more likely to need respiratory support or be admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs).
With more Covid-19 booster shots on the horizon, one expert says mixing and matching doses may be an effective approach
Amid the growing prospect of more Covid-19 booster shots becoming available, an expert has suggested that some people could receive a dose of a different vaccine from the one they initially received. "I hope that when the FDA and CDC review data around Moderna and Johnson & Johnson that they will allow a mix-and-match approach," CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen said Friday. Vaccine advisers for the US Food and Drug Administration will meet October 14 and 15 to discuss applications for booster doses from Moderna and J&J's vaccine arm Janssen. And on October 20 and 21, vaccine experts with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are slated to discuss the same course of action.
Merck drug less effective against moderate COVID -India regulatory source
Merck & Co's experimental antiviral drug molnupiravir has not shown "significant efficacy" against moderate COVID-19, a source with the Drug Controller General of India said. Aurobindo Pharma Ltd wants to discontinue a late-stage trial of molnupiravir in moderate COVID-19 patients, the regulator's expert committee said on Friday. "There is no significant efficacy against moderate COVID and the effective efficacy is towards mild cases," the source said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the discussions.
Iceland Joins Nordic Peers in Halting Moderna Covid Vaccinations
Iceland is joining its Nordic peers in halting inoculations with Moderna Inc.’s Spikevax shot on concern over side effects. The Moderna jab, which has mostly been used in Iceland for second doses, won’t be used until more information over its safety has been collected, the chief epidemiologist said on Friday. Sweden, Denmark and Finland have this week suspended the jabs for younger people because of the risk of heart inflammation as a potential side effect. Norway said men under 30 should consider choosing the Pfizer Inc.’s and BioNTech SE’s rival vaccine, and the other Nordic nations also recommended that as an alternative. Both vaccinations use messenger RNA technology to prompt an immune reaction.
Two Indian drugmakers to end trials of generic Merck pill for moderate COVID-19
Two Indian drugmakers have requested permission to end late-stage trials of their generic versions of Merck & Co's promising experimental oral antiviral drug molnupiravir to treat moderate COVID-19, a week after Merck said its own trial had succeeded for mild-to-moderate patients. Merck earlier this year suspended its own development of molnupiravir as a treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients since many of them have reached a phase of the disease that is too late for an antiviral drug to provide much help.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Covid-19 Australia: NSW records 580 new cases as state hits 90 per cent first jab milestone
New South Wales has recorded 580 new Covid-19 cases overnight. State poised to hit 90 per cent single dose vaccination as soon as Saturday. Dr Kerry Chant revealed source of new variant of Delta strain came from traveller
Brazil passes grim milestone of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths, second only to US
Brazil on Friday surpassed the grim milestone of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths, the second-highest number of fatalities in the world after the United States, according to John Hopkins University data. The South American nation, which holds half the continent's population, has now suffered 600,425 coronavirus deaths. It is only the second country to pass the 600,000 mark, after the US which has registered 712,695 deaths. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been heavily criticized for his handling of the pandemic. The conservative populist leader has repeatedly downplayed the gravity of the outbreak, declared he would not get vaccinated because he had already had Covid-19, and championed the unproven malaria medicine hydroxychloroquine as a treatment.
Russia's daily COVID-19 death toll hits record high 968
Russia reported 968 coronavirus-related deaths on Saturday, its highest single-day death toll since the start of the pandemic. There were 29,362 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours, the government coronavirus task force said.
COVID-19: Calls for stronger safety measures in schools amid pupil infection surge
Education unions have called for the reintroduction of extra safety measures in schools after official estimates showed around 270,000 secondary pupils had COVID-19 last week. The demand for action came as an expert warned about the level of coronavirus circulating among older children. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that around one in 15 children in school years 7 to 11 in England are estimated to have had COVID-19 in the week to 2 October. This was the highest positivity rate for any age group and up from one in 20 during the previous seven-day period.
UK records 133 COVID-19 deaths, 34950 new cases
Britain on Saturday recorded 133 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, a slight increase on a day earlier when 127 people died, government data showed. The figures also showed 34,950 new COVID cases, lower than a day earlier when 36,060 were recorded.
‘Crisis unfolding’ as Papua New Guinea hospitals hit by worst Covid wave yet
Hospitals in Papua New Guinea are being pushed to the brink and morgues are overflowing, as the country suffers what health authorities say is the worst surge in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began. The country’s health care system has long been plagued by shortages of drugs, funding, an ailing infrastructure and a severe lack of health workers. Now, major hospitals around Papua New Guinea have been forced to scale down vital medical services while at least one says it may be forced to close altogether.
India reports over 19,000 cases and 241 deaths
India’s total Covid cases have remained around 20,000 for the past four days. Friday saw 19,503 cases and 241 deaths reported from across the country. The numbers from Assam, Jharkhand, UP and Uttarakhand were yet to come at the time of filing this story and are likely to push today’s tally past the 20,000 mark. The reduction in cases can be primarily attributed to the steady decline in positive cases from Kerala. In the past two weeks, the state’s tally has gone through a rapid decline. Compared to 16,671 cases reported on September 25 the state reported 10,944 cases today. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Mizoram were the only other states to report over a thousand cases. Kerala logged 120 deaths today.
Navajo Nation reports 51 more COVID-19 cases, 1 new deaths
The Navajo Nation on Friday reported 51 more COVID-19 cases and one additional death. It was the third consecutive day that the tribe reported at least one coronavirus-related death after going six days in a row with no additional deaths. The latest numbers pushed the tribe’s totals to 34,350 confirmed COVID-19 cases from the virus since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The known death toll now is 1,454. Navajo officials still are urging people to get vaccinated, wear masks while in public and minimize their travel.
Covid Hospitalizations Rise in Colorado Even With High Vaccination Rate
Covid-19 hospitalizations are rising again in Colorado even with more than 70% of those eligible in the state vaccinated, health officials said Friday. The recent daily average has been around 900 hospitalizations, one of the highest readings since the pandemic started in March 2020, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Two weeks ago, the average was running around 875. An estimated 40% of intensive care unit patients in Colorado are infected with Covid-19, and ICU capacity is running at roughly 86%, data show. The delta variant and its relatives account for “100%” of known cases in the state, demonstrating delta’s staying power, Rachel Herlihy, state epidemiologist, said during an online news briefing.
Singapore reports highest single-day rise in COVID-19 cases
Singapore's health ministry reported 3,703 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic, while it recorded 11 new deaths from the disease. A recent spike in infections after the relaxation of some restrictions has prompted Singapore to pause further reopening. It also tightened curbs from last week that limited social gatherings to two people and made work from home a default. More than 80% of Singapore's population has been vaccinated against the virus.
Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit new record
Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll hit a new record on Friday amid the country’s sluggish vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions. Russia’s state coronavirus task force reported 936 new deaths on Friday, the highest daily number since the start of the pandemic. It was a third straight day when daily COVID-19 deaths topped 900. Russia already has Europe’s highest death toll in the pandemic — more than 214,000 — and the authorities’ conservative way of recording COVID-19 fatalities suggests the actual number could be even higher. On Friday, the government’s task force reported 27,246 new confirmed cases, just slightly less than Thursday’s number of 27,550, which was the highest so far this year.
Brazil tops 600,000 virus deaths amid doubts about delta
Bars in Brazil’s biggest metropolis, Sao Paulo, are full again for Friday happy hours and lawmakers in the capital have nearly done away with video sessions via Zoom. Rio de Janeiro’s beaches are packed and calls for strict social distancing seem but a memory. These developments are part of Brazil’s bid to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, even as its death toll tops 600,000, according to official data on Friday from the health ministry. Relief in both COVID-19 cases and deaths have been particularly welcome given experts’ warnings that the delta variant would produce another wave of destruction in the country with the second-most victims. So far, that hasn’t materialized.
Victoria records 1965 new local cases of coronavirus
Victoria has recorded 1965 new local cases of Covid-19 on Saturday as the state again breaks a national record for the highest number of daily infections. The Department of Health also confirmed five Victorians died from the virus in the past 24 hours. More than 84 per cent of the state’s population is now single-dose vaccinated and 56.6 per cent are fully-dosed. Saturday’s case total is a national high and comes just a day after Victoria broke that record on Friday with 1838 cases. There were 41,177 vaccine doses administered in the past 24 hours and 73,443 Covid-19 test results received. Mildura in northwest Victoria last night entered a snap seven-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Friday.
Pakistan's daily coronavirus case count under 1,000 for first time in three months
Pakistan records cases below the 1,000-mark for the first time since July 6. Another 26 people, meanwhile, lost their lives to the virus in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 28,058. The current positivity rate is 1.99%.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 7th May 2020

News Highlights

Countries around the world are opening up slowly but worries still abound. Greece's economy is heavily dependent on tourism, which looks unlikely to pick up in the near future. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is leaving it to individual states to decide on how they plan to reopen their economies. At the same time, German officials are assuring citizens that they can still consider holidaying abroad over the summer, though details may still need to be finalised. Bundesliga football could soon resume, but with some restrictions, and up to two households will be able to meet and eat together.

The UK is considering lifting the lockdown from Monday, with details set to be outlined over the weekend, but the Prime Minister cautioned against any haste, lest there be a second wave of coronavirus cases.

Interestingly, Australian businesses are rethinking ways of working, dispensing with ideas like the shared office cookie jars and hot desking, and looking to cubicles and partitions from the past, symbolically some might say, as the entire world moves towards 'Post-Covid19' workspaces.

Lockdown Exit
Tracking the lockdown: what is opening up around the world
National and local authorities around the world are beginning to wind down restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, gradually lifting the lockdowns that have stunted economies,
Jersey expected to ease lockdown restrictions even further next week
Jersey’s Chief Minister has said the island will likely move into Level three of lockdown next week. Level three has previously been described as a ‘soft lockdown’ with the stay at home order being lifted. Whilst there will be no limit to time spent out of the house, people will be asked to stay and work from home wherever possible. Currently Jersey remains at Level four, where islanders are limited to four hours outside and can meet with two people that do not live in your household so long as you socially distance.
'This Is Freedom?': Post-Lockdown Italy Not How We Imagined
As lockdown begins to ease, there should be feelings of relief and hope, but the start of Phase 2 in Italy has been tainted by uncertainty and fear. The vague wording of the government’s rules and the continued need for a self-certification form justifying the motive for leaving the house means many Italians are still feeling anxiety about going outside. Those who have been permitted to restart work and reopen businesses have been overwhelmed by stringent safety measures that must be adhered to. Some bookshops, that had been allowed to reopen on April 14, chose to keep the shutters down as sanitizing books and maintaining distancing seemed unfeasible as well as expensive.
How has Italy reacted to a cautious easing of lockdown?
In the economically disadvantaged south of the country, remaining closed for another month will result in the failure of many commercial activities and will aggravate the economic and social emergency that is brewing. Over the next few weeks, the government will have to find solutions that will keep at bay a second, possibly deadlier wave of coronavirus cases as well as avoiding economic collapse.
How are Spanish pubs and bars trading during coronavirus lockdown?
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused significant headaches for countless businesses across the world, in some ways it has brought sectors closer together. With everyone facing the same challenges, now is the time to learn the challenges other operators in other countries have encountered and how they have overcome those hurdles.
What to Expect When Lockdown Lifts, According to People in Norway, Germany and Italy
Now that the UK had passed the peak of the pandemic, speculation as to how the government will ease the lockdown has begun. Boris Johnson was originally set to review lockdown guidelines this Thursday, but the review has now been postponed until Sunday – a likely sign that the government is in no rush to get everything back to normal. Indeed, a report released this week from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) outlines the many considerations for easing a lockdown, including the potential economic, psychological and social costs and benefits.
Greeks' relief as coronavirus lockdown eased but fears over impact on vital tourism industry loom
Greece's fate lies instead in the hands of the millions of tourists from the US, UK and other European countries; tourism accounts for 20% of the Greek economy and one in four jobs, according to the country’s national statisticians. Greeks desperately want tourists to return, but at the same time they are worried that they will bring the virus with them. The two most important countries for Greek tourism, Germany and the UK, are both facing severe Covid-19 challenges. Germany saw a rise in cases after it begun lifting restrictions; the UK is now the worst-hit country in Europe. Such is the seriousness of the situation that Dr Tsiodras has mentioned the UK specifically almost every evening during the last few daily briefings. “It’s a paradox when it comes to pandemics and it is related to the [issue of] timely adoption of measures,” the Harvard educated professor told Greeks while trying to explain why fatalities in the UK have surpassed those of tragically-hit Italy.
Coronavirus: Germany opens up again as Merkel hands over to states
Germany will radically loosen its lockdown measures as chancellor Angela Merkel yields to pressure from the leaders of the country’s 16 states to make their own plans for opening up. The draft agreement for the meeting on Wednesday between the chancellor and the state premiers says that schools and shops can all reopen, but under strict new hygiene guidelines, including the 1.5-meter social distancing rules. States can also decide for themselves when they open restaurants, pubs, clubs and gyms, but big events like festivals are banned until 31 August. Already last week, churches, zoos, museums, and playgrounds were given the green light.
Germany clamping down on golf clubs failing to follow safety rules
As golf courses start to reopen across Europe, the consequences of failing to follow strict guidelines aimed at delivering "safe golf" during the ongoing coronavirus have been highlighted in Germany.
Coronavirus: Germany reopens shops as lockdown is relaxed
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany's goal of slowing the spread of coronavirus has been achieved, so all shops can be reopened as lockdown restrictions are eased. Bundesliga football has been given the green light to resume and schools will gradually reopen in the summer term. Germany's 16 federal states, under an agreement with the government, will take control of timing the reopening. They will operate an "emergency brake" if there is a new surge in infections. General contact rules involving will continue for another month. A limited resumption has already begun, but this easing of restrictions is far broader. Two households will be able to meet and eat together, and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be able to have visits from one specific person.
Coronavirus: Germany reopens museums, galleries and gardens to the public
Germany has begun relaxing the lockdown measures put in place to control the spread of coronavirus, as officials say the infection rate has been declining for “at least four weeks in a row”. Museums, galleries and gardens, as well as many shops, were allowed to reopen this week. Individual states will decide about gradually opening universities, bars, trade fairs, theatres, cinemas, and more under certain hygiene and distancing rules. A draft document prepared by federal chancellery chief Helge Braun, seen by Reuters, also said amateur open-air sports could restart and schools should gradually reopen from 11 May.
Coronavirus: Summer holidays abroad possible, German official says
Germans may be able to have summer holidays abroad, the country's tourism chief said, as European nations look at how to handle the summer break. Federal tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiss told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper that if the outbreak stayed under control, people might be able to take vacations abroad soon. Germany was in talks with other nations about summer holidays, he said. European governments are mulling how to handle the upcoming vacation period. More than 100,000 people are confirmed to have died amid the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.
France’s Covid-19 epidemic continues to decline as end of lockdown approaches
The numbers of patients in hospital and in intensive care continued to decline. Patients in hospital have declined for three weeks, for a total of 24,775, down from a peak at 32,292 on 14 April. The number of patients in intensive care has dropped below half of what it was at the peak of the epidemic, now standing at 3,430, down from 7,148 on 8 April. Confinement measures imposed as of 17 March were to begin easing on 11 May, with officials warning lockdown has to be lifted gradually in order to ward off a second wave of the epidemic.
Coronavirus lockdown plunges French services into record slump - PMI
IHS Markit’s overall PMI index, which includes services and already published data from the manufacturing sector, fell to 11.1 from 28.9 in March, marginally worse than the 11.2 originally reported. The lockdown, in place since mid-March, is due to be lifted from next Monday, but some restrictions will remain in place, leaving little prospect for a quick recovery for most firms. “Any return to long-term growth rates might be gradual, with consumers taking time to overcome hesitancy surrounding public health before they resume their previous spending habits,” IHS Markit economist Eliot Kerr said.
How Slovakia Flattened the Coronavirus Curve With a Model Lockdown
Why isn’t Slovakia overrun by the coronavirus? Experts that I spoke to credit three main factors. The most important was the government’s quick decision to institute a national lockdown effective March 16, 10 days after the country confirmed its first coronavirus case. The lockdown included the closure of all schools, restaurants, bars, and shops except for grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks—as well as a ban on all public events and gatherings. The lockdown measures have only worked because of the second factor: an immediate and universal compliance by the Slovak population.
Britain’s Johnson Says Lockdown Announcement to Come Sunday
Boris Johnson assured members of the House of Commons they would be fully informed and would be given opportunity to question him or members of the government about any decisions. He said it would be “an economic disaster” for Britain if restrictions were lifted in such a way as to trigger “a second spike” in COVID-19 infections. Johnson said the government would work with the government in Scotland, the opposition, unions and business "to make sure we get the un-lockdown plan completely right."
Coronavirus latest: Germany can be bold easing restrictions, Merkel says
Poland will postpone Sunday's presidential election, the country's governing parties announced on Wednesday. A new date for the election will be announced "as soon as possible," ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski and coalition partner leader Jaroslaw Gowin said in a statement. "Having in mind Poles' safety, due to the epidemic, the elections will be held by postal vote," they said.
Covid 19 coronavirus: How Australia's businesses are preparing to leave their lockdown
No more shared cookie jars, fewer meetings, staggered start times and temperature checks before you leave the house – Aussies may be heading back to work, but the office will never be the same. On the plus side, hot-desking will likely be a thing of the past as the world makes the transition to "post-Covid workplaces", where hygiene, safety, social distancing and regular cleaning will take the driver's seat after decades of cost-cutting measures. And millennials who entered the workforce in the "open plan" era may soon be getting their first taste of the cubicle.
U.S. States Roll Back Restrictions as Lockdowns Ease Across Asia
Swathes of the country remained under lockdown, and tensions escalated in some places over the restrictive policies that are designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Public-health officials have cautioned that lifting restrictions too hastily could lead to a surge in new cases. Before states reopen, they say, the number of new cases should fall under a certain threshold and state leaders should have a robust testing capacity in place and develop contact-tracing teams. Guidelines from the Trump administration recommend governors take steps toward reopening after they see a decline in documented cases or positive tests over a two-week period.
Exit Strategies
Contact tracing: An army of 18,000 sleuths and call-handlers could help Britain emerge from coronavirus lockdown
“Where were you on the evening of Friday May 1st?” It is the sort of question one might expect to hear from a hard-boiled detective or a prosecutor in a courtroom drama. It is also the kind of question that Britons will have to get used to answering if daily life is to return to anything resembling normal. Much of the focus of the government’s “test, track and trace” strategy to reopen Britain and prevent a second lockdown has been on testing and on an app being developed by NHSX, the digital-innovation arm of the health service.
The current UK lockdown rules for over-70s explained amid talk they may be kept inside for longer
How people over the age of 70 will have to live once lockdown is lifted has been a big topic of conversation during the coronavirus crisis. Under current Government rules, over-70s have to abide by the same social distancing measures as the rest of the UK population. The majority of people in this age bracket can still go out for exercise, do essential shopping and pick up medicine. However, they have to be more careful than everyone else. Campaigners fear that when lockdown is relaxed, older people might be kept under the rules for longer than younger people for their own safety. That proposal - which has been rumoured but is not in any way confirmed by the Government - has sparked a backlash among doctors' leaders and campaigners, the Mirror reports. Here are the current rules explained, and what might or might not happen in the future.
Coronavirus: Australia is in the feared third quarter of lockdown
Experts say that in this time we’ve been subject to three psychological phases. The first was one of panic and confusion, when we were crying out for a sense of control and easily embraced restrictions. Then came the honeymoon phase when lockdown was almost a novelty. There was no more battling morning traffic, you could stay in your pyjamas all day, some started baking sourdough and others reconnected with nature. Now we’re in the eerie ‘Third Quarter,’ which has been identified in those stuck in space or submarines. Typically, isolated individuals become more irritable, you might feel sad or lonely, start drinking more alcohol and struggle to get to sleep. “There’s a sense of being trapped, there’s not a lot of new stimulation going on,” Clinical Psychologist Kimberley Norris told Sunrise.
UK to begin lifting lockdown from Monday
Lockdown measures in the UK could start to be lifted from Monday, with details set to be outlined at the weekend. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also announced a new target of 200,000 coronavirus tests a day - a target he hopes will be met by the end of May.
Australia's biggest states retain lockdown measures on Mother's Day
Australia’s two most populous states on Thursday refused to allow a one-day reprieve from strict limits on personal movement for Mother’s Day this weekend, even as the country’s rate of new coronavirus cases remains low.
UK draws up three-stage plan for easing coronavirus lockdown
The first phase of relaxation will involve outdoor workplaces and small shops reopening, the second will involve large shopping centres reopening and more people being encouraged to return to work, the report said. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure centres will be among the last businesses to reopen, the Times said. The UK lockdown was announced by Johnson in a televised speech on 23 March with tough restrictions on movement introduced the next day. Three weeks later on 16 April, Dominic Raab – standing in for the coronavirus-stricken Prime Minister – said lockdown would persist for at least another three weeks as the UK was not past the peak of the disease.
When will the UK lockdown end? The four potential exit strategies
During a Downing Street press conference on 16 April, Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson, said that the lockdown measures will remain in place for at least three more weeks, or up until May 7th. He also set out five tests that must be met before the government would consider lifting measures.
Rural parts of UK could come out of lockdown before cities
Rural parts of the UK which have seen far fewer cases of coronavirus could come out of lockdown ahead of the rest of the UK, England’s chief scientific adviser has said. Places like Devon, Cornwall and Somerset as well as other rural locations could see restrictions eased ahead of places such as London and Birmingham. Each nation in the UK will make its own decisions about easing lockdown rules. Sir Patrick Vallance said that while the R number – the number of other people infected by each person with coronavirus – is below one across the country, prevalence of infection will be different depending on region.
End of lockdown: When is it, how will it happen and is the pandemic over?
The Prime Minister has said we are now past the peak of the pandemic, and hinted that lockdown measures could be lifted soon. He said the "dates and times" of each measure being lifted would come when the Government had more data, but the UK is heading towards "phase two" of its coronavirus response, which will involve partially lifting lockdown. Here, we analyse when the lockdown could end and what the "new normal" might look like.
Coronavirus: How might lockdown end and what will be the 'new normal'?
High Street fashion chains and others closed during lockdown are waiting to hear how they might reopen. Changing rooms could be closed and customers encouraged to shop alone, the British Retail Consortium suggests. Next says it will prioritise reopening larger, out-of-town outlets, where social distancing is easier. Some DIY stores, meanwhile, have already reopened - but they are accepting card payments only and have shorter trading hours. And B&Q has banned under-16s. But several retailers will be missing from the High Street altogether, the chairman of key-cutting company Timpson has warned.
Boris Johnson says lockdown easing due to start on Monday
The prime minister said on Wednesday he would set out his strategy for the “second phase” of the UK’s fight against coronavirus in a televised address on Sunday, adding the government would “get going” with some measures to revise the shutdown on Monday. The initial relaxation of the lockdown is expected to be limited, such as allowing unlimited exercise and sunbathing in parks, while allowing some businesses to ramp up operations where social distancing can be observed, such as on construction sites. The first wave of tweaks will cover the toughening up of other measures, such as the wearing of face masks on public transport and tougher checks at border.
Coronavirus: How social 'bubbles' could work when UK lockdown is eased
Britons could be allowed to reunite with loved ones using "bubble" arrangements under proposals to ease the lockdown. Ministers are looking at ways of letting people meet up with friends and family when lockdown restrictions are eventually eased. Under the arrangements, people will be able choose a small number of friends and family to mix with, outdoors for the time being, and will be under strict orders not to mix with anybody else. People could also be allowed to leave their homes more often and for longer periods of time. The proposals are being considered by the government to introduce a "new normal" to the way Britain operates socially.
When will gyms open in the UK? If fitness centres could be among the first to reopen when lockdown is eased
n Italy, the country has entered into phase two of its exit out of lockdown. Italians will now be able to travel within regions in order to visit relatives, provided that they wear masks. However, schools, hairdressers, gyms and a variety of other commercial activities will stay closed. Cafes and restaurants will offer takeaways only. In the Czech Republic, gyms and fitness centres will be open to the public next week, but the showers and dressing rooms will be off limits.
Spain to avert political crisis, extend virus lockdown
To compensate losing the backing of the conservative Popular Party and angering Catalonia’s separatists, Sánchez’s Socialists struck last-minute deals with the center-right Citizens party and Basque regionalists to guarantee the parliamentary endorsement. That gave the government 178 votes in favor to 75 votes against, with 97 abstentions. The state of emergency was set to expire on Saturday. The extension will take it through May 24. The government argued the extension is critical to apply its complex rollback plan for the lockdown, which will vary by province as they prepare for a possible second wave.
Spain’s holiday islands Mallorca, Ibiza and Menorca waiting to move into lockdown de-escalation phase one
The regional minister said it is “essential” to have well-defined controls at ports and airports to allow all the Balearic Islands to move forward through the different stages of the de-escalation. She stressed the island government wants to see checks at travellers’ place of departure and destination, and said Formentera’s experience this week, with checks on arriving ferry passengers’ temperatures, health questionnaires and antibody tests, will make it possible “to see exactly what the situation is.” Gomez expressed confidence her department has planned resources well “to be able to deal with the situation,” both in terms of hospitals and medicalised hotels on all the islands except Formentera. “We can practically duplicate the capacity we have in criteria and hospital beds in approximately a day,” she maintained.
Scotland lockdown exit plan: what Nicola Sturgeon has said about easing restrictions and when it could happen
The First Minister has said that lockdown measures will be lifted "when we judge it is safe to make them, which I am afraid is not right now"
France's Macron throws lockdown lifeline to culture sector
French president Emmanuel Macron promised guaranteed stipends for out-of-work actors and money for filmmakers whose productions have been cancelled, as part of a bailout for an arts industry shut down by the coronavirus.
France’s Covid-19 epidemic continues to decline as end of lockdown approaches
The number of patients in intensive care has dropped below half of what it was at the peak of the epidemic, now standing at 3,430, down from 7,148 on 8 April. Confinement measures imposed as of 17 March were to begin easing on 11 May, with officials warning lockdown has to be lifted gradually in order to ward off a second wave of the epidemic.
When will tennis courts reopen after lockdown, and is it safe to play?
It seems plausible that the prime minister’s upcoming speech on Sunday night could herald a relaxation of restrictions. France is permitting outdoor recreational tennis from next Monday while most other European countries have already moved to this position. Ireland is working towards the reopening of outdoor tennis clubs and public parks from May 18.
Paris Metro Prepares for Lockdown Easing With Police and Cleaners
The Paris public transport system will deploy as many as 2,000 police officers to enforce rules on social distancing and the wearing of masks when France starts to ease lockdown measures on May 11. The operator of metros, buses and commuter trains in the French capital, known as the RATP, has also increased its cleaning budget by at least 70% and is testing methods like anti-viral sprays in buses, according to Chief Executive Officer Catherine Guillouard.
France prepares plan to re-impose lockdown if coronavirus cases spike
France is less than a week away from beginning to lift its strict, nationwide lockdown on May 11th. The government has stressed repeatedly that this easing of restrictions will depend on the development of the epidemic curve, and has not excluded postponing the whole process to a later date if necessary. “If, as we approach May 11th, the number of daily new cases is not what we predicted, we will pay the consequences," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said as he presented the government's plan to lift the lockdown last week.
Here’s How Boris Johnson Is Planning to Lift the U.K.’s Lockdown
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the key to keeping the infection rate down lies in tracking the spread of the virus and isolating people who have it as well as those who have been in contact with them. The U.K. has stepped up testing and wants to recruit 18,000 contact tracers. The mobile phone app that will keep a record of people the owner has been in contact with won’t be ready until mid-May.
Can Australia's coronavirus contact tracing app COVIDSafe lift the country out of lockdown?
To speed up the process of contacting people who may have been exposed to coronavirus, the Federal Government is asking Australians to download its new COVIDSafe app. The more people use the app, the message goes, the faster we can slow the spread of the virus and the sooner we can lift restrictions and return to the pub. "The first job of the COVIDSafe app is to keep you safe," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Coronavirus Australia: Fears of infection as lockdown begins to lift
Two out of five Australians believe it’s likely they will be infected with COVID-19 over the next six months, as the nation struggles with the virus pandemic. In a landmark study, the Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods collected data from 3,155 Australians in January and February and again in April. Two-thirds of Australians reported they felt anxious or worried for the safety of themselves, their family members or friends to the the coronavirus.
Tony Blair think tank outlines 'roadmap' out of coronavirus lockdown for the government | Latest Brexit news and top stories
In its latest coronavirus case study, the Tony Blair Institute outlined recommendations for pulling the country out of hibernation. They include setting out the levels of easing they will use and what they will mean for people and business, and building on the current five tests with “triggers, hard metrics and thresholds” to move between levels. They also urge explaining how expanded containment measures can reduce the risk at each level and tailoring communications to enlist the support of individuals and businesses. The report also suggested the government follow steps taken by New Zealand and Australia where leaders have been able to sketch out a detailed guide to leaving a lockdown. They argued that clear messaging would assist companies to prepare for a new operation environment.
When will UK lockdown end? Date restrictions will be reviewed as UK passes peak of infections
On Sunday (10 May), the Prime Minister will address the nation to outline a “road map” of how current restrictions will be gradually lifted as part of the ‘second phase’ of the coronavirus response.
Partisan Exits
UK could start easing virus lockdown next week - Johnson
A Reuters investigation found policies designed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed pushed a greater burden onto care homes which struggled to get access to tests and protective equipment. Asked by a member of the public during a question session on Sky News whether the government had sacrificed the elderly in residential homes to ensure the health service was not overrun, Mr Hancock said: "No we didn't do this ... we have, from the start, worked very hard to protect people in care homes."
Boris Johnson Hints UK Could Begin Easing Lockdown As Soon As Monday
Boris Johnson has said the government could begin to ease the UK’s coronavirus lockdown from Monday. Speaking during prime minister’s questions in the Commons, the PM said he planned to give a statement on Sunday setting out plans for the next day. He did not specify which measures might be dropped or amended first as ministers were “continuously” receiving data from health and science experts. "We will want, if we possibly can, to get going with some of those measures on Monday,” he said, in a reply to Labour leader Keir Starmer. “I think it would be a good thing [...] if people had an idea of what’s coming the following day. That’s why I think Sunday, the weekend, is the best time to do it.”
Coronavirus: Robin Swann says lockdown debate getting ahead of itself
The debate about easing Northern Ireland's pandemic lockdown restrictions is "getting ahead of itself", the health minister has said. A further 17 Covid-19 related deaths in NI were reported by Robin Swann's department, bringing its total to 404. The executive is holding talks about whether to relax any measures to curb the spread of the virus. "Call it my May Day alert," said Mr Swann, as he urged people to stay at home this bank holiday weekend. Northern Ireland's Executive must review whether to amend the coronavirus regulations by Saturday, but some ministers have already said any changes need to be gradual. Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill wants the Executive to publish its plans for emerging from restrictions on Thursday.
Birx warns against gatherings as US reopens from lockdowns
Dr Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House coronavirus taskforce, has warned against US citizens gathering in public spaces again as the number of COVID-19 infections topped 1.1 million in the country and the death toll rose to more than 67,000 on Sunday. Birx said massing on beaches was not safe unless people kept at least two metres (six feet) apart, and weighed in against allowing such businesses as beauty salons and spas to reopen in the first phase.
Continued Lockdown
Lockdown continues: Australia's biggest state will NOT relax rules
New South Wales will not relax any coronavirus restrictions until next week but Queensland will allow five household members to visit another family in a home from Sunday. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said no restrictions will be relaxed in his state - and told reporters that he will not be visiting his own mother on Mothers' Day. On Friday the national cabinet will set out a three-step framework to ease the rules - but state and territory leaders will be able to choose when they implement the changes. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said rules in Australia's biggest state by population will not be changing until after the weekend.
Coronavirus lockdown batters German services in April - PMI
Phil Smith, principal economist at IHS Markit, said the plunge in services business activity accelerated in April and that the rate of contraction was much worse than seen during the depths of the global financial crisis more than a decade ago. "However, though manufacturing also suffered a record drop in output in April, the PMI surveys confirm that the decline in Germany's economy has been less severe than in France, Italy and Spain, where lockdowns have been more strict," Smith added. Germany took a further step on the long road back to post-coronavirus normality on Monday, with museums and hairdressers reopening under strict conditions, churches opening their doors for worshippers and more car factories resuming work. But more than a month after all but essential social and commercial life was suspended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the country's politicians are at odds over how far and how fast to move. Despite first steps to ease restrictions, there is still a lot of uncertainty among businesses about the timing of further relaxation of measures and the health of demand going forward, Smith noted.
Coronavirus lockdown: India jobless numbers cross 120 million in April
Scenes of desperate migrant workers, particularly daily-wage earners, fleeing cities on foot to return to their villages, filled TV screens and newspapers for most of April. Their informal jobs, which employ 90% of the population, were the first to be hit as construction stopped, and cities suspended public transport. But protracted curfews and the continued closure of businesses - and the uncertainty of when the lockdown will end - hasn’t spared formal, permanent jobs either. Large companies across various sectors - media, aviation, retail, hospitality, automobiles - have announced massive layoffs in recent weeks. And experts predict that many small and medium businesses are likely to shut shop altogether.
The head of Sweden's no-lockdown coronavirus plan said the country's heavy death toll 'came as a surprise'
The head of Sweden's coronavirus response said in a new interview that the country's high death toll had "come as a surprise" and was "really something we worry a lot about." The state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told "The Daily Show" that the Swedish strategy had still been successful in many ways. But he said the no-lockdown strategy was not a conscious decision in favor of more deaths — instead he said the outsize toll was not part of the plan. About half of Sweden's deaths have been in nursing homes, which prohibit visitors. Tegnell said health officials had thought it would be easier to keep the disease away from them.
As Coronavirus Lockdown Eases, Cypriots Still in Limbo
Birinci is one of thousands of Cypriots caught in limbo since the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government and the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north both imposed stringent lockdowns but without consulting each other. "I think what has been lacking since the beginning is cooperation between the two sides," said Hakan Karahasan, another Turkish Cypriot badly affected by the lockdown.
Australia's coronavirus lockdown to cost $4bn a week in reduced economic activity – treasurer
The treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the current restrictions Australian governments have adopted to stop the spread of coronavirus – restrictions likely to taper down from this Friday – are resulting in a reduction in economic activity worth $4bn per week. Frydenberg will use a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday to warn the economic shock associated with Covid-19 will be both profound and prolonged, with Treasury estimating a 10 to 12% fall in gross domestic product during the June quarter alone.
Scientific Viewpoint
WHO warns of new lockdowns if transition not managed carefully
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus listed a series of steps needed before countries lift measures designed to control the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease
6 criteria for relaxing #COVID19 measures recommended by @WHO
6 criteria for relaxing #COVID19 measures recommended by @WHO 1. Strong surveillance system 2. Health system has necessary capacities 3. Minimized outbreak risks 4. Preventive measures in place 5. Importation risks are manageable 6. Communities are educated, engaged & empowered
Doctor Who Treated First COVID-19 Patient in U.S. Worries About Second Wave As Lockdown Is Lifted
The doctor who treated the first COVID-19 patient in the United States has expressed his concern that a second wave of the disease could emerge as lockdown measures are gradually eased. George Díaz, infectious diseases chief at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, told journalists on Monday in a video briefing: "What worries me is that when the economy starts to reopen, we are going to see a second outbreak that is perhaps as big as the first, and the first one was very difficult for us and for the whole world. "And more than anything, I am concerned that I don't know if we are going to have the resources to handle a second outbreak," he said, AFP reported.
Structural Basis for Potent Neutralization of Betacoronaviruses by Single-Domain Camelid Antibodies
VHHs isolated from a llama immunized with prefusion-stabilized coronavirus spikes. Structural characterization of VHHs reveals conserved mechanism of neutralization. SARS-CoV-1 S-directed VHH cross-reacts with SARS-CoV-2 S. Bivalent VHH neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses.
New Lockdown
`If this thing boomerangs': Second wave of infections feared
As Europe and the U.S. loosen their lockdowns against the coronavirus, health experts are expressing growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections that could force governments to clamp back down. “We’re risking a backslide that will be intolerable,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. Elsewhere around the world, German authorities began drawing up plans in case of a resurgence of the virus. Experts in Italy urged intensified efforts to identify new victims and trace their contacts. And France, which hasn’t yet eased its lockdown, has already worked up a “reconfinement plan” in the event of a new wave.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 12th Oct 2021

One Minute Overview

Covid response ‘one of UK’s worst ever public health failures’ - Britain’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with ministers and scientists taking a “fatalistic” approach that exacerbated the death toll, a landmark inquiry has found. “Groupthink”, evidence of British exceptionalism and a deliberately “slow and gradualist” approach meant the UK fared “significantly worse” than other countries, according to the 151-page “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” report led by two former Conservative ministers. The crisis exposed “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”, with public bodies unable to share vital information and scientific advice impaired by a lack of transparency, input from international experts and meaningful challenge. Despite being one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid in January 2020, the UK “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis”. The consequences were profound, the report says. “For a country with a world-class expertise in data analysis, to face the biggest health crisis in 100 years with virtually no data to analyse was an almost unimaginable setback.”

Russian spy ‘stole Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine blueprint and used it to develop Sputnik jab’ - Russian spies stole the blueprint for the Oxford/AstraZenecacoronavirus vaccine and used it to create their own Sputnik V jab, according to reports. UK security services have allegedly told ministers they now have solid proof an agent stole vital information from the pharmaceutical company, including the blueprint, according to The Sun. The late security minister James Brokenshire last year said Britain was “more than 95 per cent sure” Russian state-sponsored hackers had targeted the UK, US and Canada in attacks on drug companies.

COVID-19: Report shows despite UK's vaccine success massive mistakes were made - The UK's independent inquiry into COVID-19 is due to launch in Spring 2022. Until then, this parliamentary report is the best assessment we are likely to get into the government's pandemic response. And putting aside the success of the vaccine and former health secretary Matt Hancock's '100,000 tests target', the cross-party committee's conclusions are damning. The government's initial 'fatalistic' approach was 'a serious early error'. The test, trace and isolate system was 'often chaotic' and 'ultimately failed'. Thousands of care home deaths 'could have been avoided'.

Sydney opens to vaccinated after 100-plus days of lockdown - Sydney hairdressers, gyms, cafés and bars reopened to fully vaccinated customers on Monday for the first time in more than 100 days after Australia’s largest city achieved a vaccination benchmark. Sydney planned to reopen on the Monday after 70% of the New South Wales state population aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated. By Monday, 73.5% of the target population was fully vaccinated and more than 90% have received at least one dose. Some businesses opened at midnight due to demand from people impatient to enjoy their freedom. More pandemic restrictions will be removed at the 80% benchmark, and New South Wales residents will be free to travel overseas for the first time since March last year.

Coronavirus: Moderna has no plans to share its Covid-19 vaccine recipe - Moderna has no plans to share the recipe for its Covid-19 vaccine because executives have concluded that scaling up the company’s own production is the best way to increase the global supply, the company’s chairman said Monday.
In an interview with Associated Press, Noubar Afeyan also reiterated a pledge Moderna made a year ago not to enforce patent infringement on anyone else making a coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic. “We didn’t have to do that,” Afeyan said. “We think that was the responsible thing to do.” He added: “We want that to be helping the world.” The United Nations health agency has pressed US-based Moderna to share its vaccine formula. Afeyan said the company analysed whether it would be better to share the messenger RNA technology and determined that it could expand production and deliver billions of additional doses in 2022.

Coronavirus: Can the flu and dengue case spike impact the third COVID wave? - Over the course of past weeks, the rising cases of flu, viral ailments, dengue have overtaken COVID to be the current prevailing health threats in the country. While COVID-19 remains to be a problem which we'll continue to face, bleak awareness about the flu vaccination, newer, potentially severe variants of the dengue causing DENV virus, reports of serious infections and lax measures have made us fear the ill-effects of twindemic, i.e., if two or more infectious diseases are to strike us together.

New Zealand makes COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers - New Zealand will require teachers and workers in the health and disability sectors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, as she extended restrictions in Auckland, its largest city, for another week.

French study of over 22m people finds vaccines cut severe Covid risk by 90% - Vaccination reduces the risk of dying or being hospitalised with Covid-19 by 90%, a French study of 22.6 million people over the age of 50 has found. The research published on Monday also found that vaccines appear to protect against the worst effects of the most prevalent virus strain, the Delta variant. “This means that those who are vaccinated are nine times less at risk of being hospitalised or dying from Covid-19 than those who have not been vaccinated,” the epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik, who oversaw the research, told Agence France-Presse. The study – the largest of its kind so far – was carried out by Epi-Phare a scientific group set up by France’s health system, its national health insurance fund, l’Assurance Maladie (CNAM), and the country’s ANSM medicines agency.

Merck seeks first U.S. authorization for COVID-19 pill - Merck & Co Inc said on Monday it has applied for U.S. emergency use authorization for its drug to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19, putting it on course to become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease. An authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help change clinical management of COVID-19 as the pill can be taken at home. The treatment, molnupiravir, cut the rate of hospitalization and death by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease, according to data released earlier this month.

COVID-19: Unvaccinated pregnant women make up one fifth of most critically ill coronavirus patients in England - Almost a fifth of the most critically ill COVID patients in England in recent months have been pregnant women, according to NHS England, which is urging expectant mothers to get their jabs. Figures show that between July 1 and September 30, 17% of patients receiving treatment through a lung-bypass machine were unvaccinated pregnant women. Expectant mothers accounted for 32% of all females aged between 16 and 49 in intensive care on ECMO - a medical technique used when a patient's lungs are so badly damaged that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels.

Lockdown Exit
Russian spy ‘stole Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine blueprint and used it to develop Sputnik jab’
Russian spies stole the blueprint for the Oxford/AstraZenecacoronavirus vaccine and used it to create their own Sputnik V jab, according to reports. UK security services have allegedly told ministers they now have solid proof an agent stole vital information from the pharmaceutical company, including the blueprint, according to The Sun. The late security minister James Brokenshire last year said Britain was “more than 95 per cent sure” Russian state-sponsored hackers had targeted the UK, US and Canada in attacks on drug companies.
Covid response ‘one of UK’s worst ever public health failures’
Britain’s early handling of the coronavirus pandemic was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, with ministers and scientists taking a “fatalistic” approach that exacerbated the death toll, a landmark inquiry has found. “Groupthink”, evidence of British exceptionalism and a deliberately “slow and gradualist” approach meant the UK fared “significantly worse” than other countries, according to the 151-page “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” report led by two former Conservative ministers. The crisis exposed “major deficiencies in the machinery of government”, with public bodies unable to share vital information and scientific advice impaired by a lack of transparency, input from international experts and meaningful challenge. Despite being one of the first countries to develop a test for Covid in January 2020, the UK “squandered” its lead and “converted it into one of permanent crisis”. The consequences were profound, the report says. “For a country with a world-class expertise in data analysis, to face the biggest health crisis in 100 years with virtually no data to analyse was an almost unimaginable setback.”
‘Extraordinary omission’: key findings in scathing UK Covid report
The joint report by the Commons health and science committees on lessons to be learned from the UK’s response to Covid spans 150 pages and is divided into six themes. Here are the main findings from each. The findings are damning
COVID-19: Report shows despite UK's vaccine success massive mistakes were made
The UK's independent inquiry into COVID-19 is due to launch in Spring 2022. Until then, this parliamentary report is the best assessment we are likely to get into the government's pandemic response. And putting aside the success of the vaccine and former health secretary Matt Hancock's "100,000 tests target", the cross-party committee's conclusions are damning. The government's initial "fatalistic" approach was "a serious early error". The test, trace and isolate system was "often chaotic" and "ultimately failed". Thousands of care home deaths "could have been avoided".
Coronavirus: Can the flu and dengue case spike impact the third COVID wave?
Over the course of past weeks, the rising cases of flu, viral ailments, dengue have overtaken COVID to be the current prevailing health threats in the country. While COVID-19 remains to be a problem which we'll continue to face, bleak awareness about the flu vaccination, newer, potentially severe variants of the dengue causing DENV virus, reports of serious infections and lax measures have made us fear the ill-effects of twindemic, i.e., if two or more infectious diseases are to strike us together.
Indonesia cuts quarantine to 5 days as borders reopen further
Southeast Asia’s largest economy will allow arrivals from 18 countries and reduce the minimum quarantine period to five days, from eight previously, said Luhut Panjaitan, coordinating minister for maritime and investment affairs who’s overseeing the pandemic response. He didn’t specify which are the 18 countries. The country has gradually eased border restrictions, starting with the resumption of offshore visa applications and followed by the reopening of tourist spot Bali to foreign visitors this week. People’s mobility has started to bounce back as cinemas and gyms are reopened, with daily Covid-19 case and fatality numbers continuing to ease to the lowest since June 2020.
Coronavirus: Moderna has no plans to share its Covid-19 vaccine recipe
Moderna has no plans to share the recipe for its Covid-19 vaccine because executives have concluded that scaling up the company’s own production is the best way to increase the global supply, the company’s chairman said Monday. In an interview with Associated Press, Noubar Afeyan also reiterated a pledge Moderna made a year ago not to enforce patent infringement on anyone else making a coronavirus vaccine during the pandemic. “We didn’t have to do that,” Afeyan said. “We think that was the responsible thing to do.” He added: “We want that to be helping the world.” The United Nations health agency has pressed US-based Moderna to share its vaccine formula. Afeyan said the company analysed whether it would be better to share the messenger RNA technology and determined that it could expand production and deliver billions of additional doses in 2022.
Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine Is World’s Preferred Shot
Countries from Latin America to the Middle East have lined up for the shot, driven by its effectiveness and ample supply, especially compared with Chinese and Russian rivals.
Covid 19: 'Almost no one' in Australia medically exempt from coronavirus vaccinations - health expert
Australia's body for GPs has revealed just how tricky it will be for people to attain a legitimate digital Covid-19 vaccine exemption certificate, set to launch this month. Despite popular belief among vaccine-hesitant circles, they won't be handed out to people with chronic illnesses, auto-immune conditions, blood clotting disorders, allergies, or histories of strokes or heart attacks. In fact, "almost no one" in Australia will be eligible for an exemption, according to Professor Kristine Macartney, director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). The only people the three Covid vaccines available in Australia could be dangerous for are those with allergies to both polyethylene glycol (PEG) – contained in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines – and polysorbate 80, an ingredient of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Macartney told The Age newspaper.
It's too soon to declare victory against Covid-19 ahead of the holidays, but these festivities are safe to resume, experts say
With holidays approaching, health experts said some festivities can start to return to a sense of normalcy -- but they also warned that Covid-19 isn't defeated yet. Experts said Sunday that outdoor trick-or-treating -- particularly for children who are vaccinated -- should be fine this year. "It's a good time to reflect on why it's important to get vaccinated. But go out there and enjoy Halloween as well as the other holidays that will be coming up," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Dana Bash Sunday.
COVID-19: Travel between UK and dozens of destinations now easier after red list cut to just seven countries
Forty-seven nations were taken off the red list at 4am, meaning anyone arriving from places including South Africa, Brazil and Argentina no longer need to quarantine in a hotel. In addition, advice against non-essential travel to a further 42 countries and territories has been lifted too. Now Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said the country will gradually reopen, with quarantine requirements lifted for vaccinated visitors from ten low-risk countries -
Sydney celebrates 'Freedom Day' after lockdown
Sydney's cafes, gyms and restaurants welcomed back fully vaccinated customers on Monday after nearly four months of lockdown, as Australia aims to begin living with the coronavirus and gradually reopen with high rates of inoculation. Gloria Tso reports.
Sydney emerges from pandemic lockdown, beer in hand
The Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE BNTX -1.19% has emerged as the world’s vaccine of choice. From Latin America to the Middle East, dozens of governments are turning to the shot. Australia is now offering the vaccine, after shifting away from competitors. Turkey, the U.K. and Chile are providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to people who took other shots. Demand rose so high in Argentina that the country rewrote a new vaccine-purchasing law so it could reach a deal with Pfizer.
Sydney opens to vaccinated after 100-plus days of lockdown
Sydney hairdressers, gyms, cafés and bars reopened to fully vaccinated customers on Monday for the first time in more than 100 days after Australia’s largest city achieved a vaccination benchmark. Sydney planned to reopen on the Monday after 70% of the New South Wales state population aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated. By Monday, 73.5% of the target population was fully vaccinated and more than 90% have received at least one dose. Some businesses opened at midnight due to demand from people impatient to enjoy their freedom. More pandemic restrictions will be removed at the 80% benchmark, and New South Wales residents will be free to travel overseas for the first time since March last year.
Exit Strategies
Virus czar ‘optimistic’ about COVID-19 decline, but says restrictions to remain
Falling coronavirus infection rates are an encouraging sign that a recent wave is coming to an end, national virus czar Salman Zarka said Monday, but warned against the country dropping its guard too soon. Zarka held a video press briefing in which he reviewed the declining coronavirus infections and plans to ease the quarantine regime for school children who are exposed to virus carriers. He said health officials are “optimistic that we are exiting the fourth wave” but cautioned, “we are not there yet.”
WA considers more mandatory COVID-19 jabs
Western Australia will look to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory in further sectors as as new pop-up clinics open across Perth. No new cases were reported on Monday after it was confirmed over the weekend that an interstate truck driver had been infectious while in WA. Five service stations which the driver attended between September 30 and October 3 have been identified as exposure sites. Ten close contacts and 24 casual contacts are isolating and being tested. Premier Mark McGowan revealed the figures while joining Rio Tinto officials to open a new vaccination hub at Perth Airport. The clinic is open to all fly-in, fly-out resources workers.
Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Mandates Tested in New York Case
Thousands of New York healthcare workers are in limbo as a federal judge considers whether the state’s vaccination mandate must accommodate requests for religious exemptions, in a case that could guide similar policies in other states. As written, New York’s vaccine mandate applies to all people who work in hospitals and nursing homes, and doesn’t allow healthcare employees to opt out with weekly testing. Starting last week, people were forced to choose between getting the shot and keeping their jobs. There were provisions for medical exemptions but not exemptions based on religious beliefs. Thousands of healthcare workers who refused vaccinations lost their jobs around the state when the mandate took effect, prompting hospitals to cancel elective surgeries and close operating rooms and outpatient clinics. Many nursing homes have stopped admitting new patients.
NHS encourages pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccine
The NHS is encouraging pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine as new data shows that nearly 20 per cent of the most critically ill COVID patients are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated. Since July, one in five COVID patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were expectant mums who have not had their first jab. Pregnant women have been treated with a therapy, called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by COVID that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels. England’s top midwife is today reassuring women that the vaccine is safe and effective during pregnancy and is recommended by clinicians and charities. Out of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 on ECMO in intensive care, pregnant women make up almost a third (32 percent) – up from just 6 per cent at the start of the pandemic, March 2020.
New Zealand makes COVID vaccines mandatory for doctors, teachers
New Zealand says it will soon require most of its healthcare workers and teachers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The new vaccine mandate, announced on Monday, compels doctors, pharmacists, community nurses and other healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by December. Teachers and other workers in the education sector must be fully vaccinated by January. “We can’t leave anything to chance so that’s why we are making it mandatory,” said Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s education minister who is also in charge of the country’s COVID-19 response. ”It’s not an easy decision, but we need the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this extra step,” he added.
Malaysia and Singapore ease international travel restrictions in pivot to living with Covid
Singapore and Malaysia have each revealed plans to start reopening their borders as the Southeast Asian neighbors move away from their zero-Covid strategies toward living with the virus. Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Sunday the country would end its domestic and international travel restrictions for fully vaccinated residents from Monday, after reaching its target of full inoculation for 90% of the adult population. It comes one day after Singapore added eight new countries to its vaccinated and quarantine-free travel lanes -- the most significant easing of travel restrictions since borders shut last March.
New Zealand makes COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers
New Zealand will require teachers and workers in the health and disability sectors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, as she extended restrictions in Auckland, its largest city, for another week.
‘Naively ambitious’: How COVAX failed on its promise to vaccinate the world
Around the world this spring, country after country awaited their first Covid-19 vaccine shipments. They’d been promised deliveries by COVAX, the ambitious global collaboration set up to give people in rich and poor nations equitable access to the shots, but now, the vaccines were failing to arrive. In many cases, COVAX officials wouldn’t even answer the phone or respond to emails from top diplomats when asked what was happening. Uruguay was one of those nations. Its United Nations ambassador in Geneva, Álvaro Moerzinger Pagani, said his country bought vaccines from COVAX but was unable to speak to officials at the organization. “Maybe we don’t have the contacts,” he said. Libya’s UN ambassador in Geneva said he was also shut off from those with answers. COVAX “certainly was not fair and it was not equitable,” said the diplomat, Tamim Baiou.
Partisan Exits
WHO advises a third COVID shot for users of Chinese vaccines
The World Health Organisation recommended that people over 60 receive an additional dose of the shots made by Chinese vaccine makers Sinopharm and Sinovac, citing evidence in studies in Latin America that they perform less well over time. Observational data on Sinopharm and Sinovac shots “clearly showed that in older age groups ... the vaccine performs less well after two doses”, said Joachim Hombach on Monday (Tuesday AEDT) secretary of the independent panel of experts who held a five-day closed-door meeting last week.
Crew from Stolt Sakura COVID ship docked off Fremantle discharged from hospital as two remain in ICU
Two more crew members from a COVID-riddled oil and chemical tanker docked off Fremantle have been transferred from hospital to hotel quarantine. The MV Stolt Sakura has 12 positive crew, five of whom remain aboard the ship. Two are in intensive care at Fiona Stanley Hospital, with one in a serious and unstable condition. The other is also serious, however, his condition is stable. Another two seafarers are being treated in the hospital’s respiratory ward and are stable.
Covid vaccine: Why these US workers won't get jabbed
Joe Biden has been urging US employers to issue ultimatums to their staff: get vaccinated, or lose your job. The president says he will soon bring in a mandate that requires all healthcare workers to have had the jab, and has urged states to do the same with teachers. In Concord, New Hampshire, it is striking to see some of those attending a large protest against vaccine mandates wearing hospital scrubs. Leah Cushman is prepared to lose her nursing job rather than get vaccinated. "My beliefs are religious. I believe that my creator endowed me with an immune system that protects me, and if I get sick, that's an act of God.
Jeremy Vine ‘unnerved’ after home targeted by anti-vaccine protesters
The television and radio presenter Jeremy Vine has said he was unnerved after anti-vaccine protesters targeted his home. Vine tweeted that the group tried to serve what it called an “anti-vaxx writ” while he was out, instead giving it to his wife. The BBC and Channel 5 broadcaster said the group was angry at the BBC’s reporting on the issue of coronavirus vaccines, adding: “They were polite, for which I’m grateful, but coming to my home on a Sunday? And I’m a little unnerved by the heavy breathing too.”
Romania remains vaccine sceptical despite surge in COVID-19 cases
In leafy Romanian villages surrounding the capital Bucharest, few people realise one person has died from COVID-19 every six minutes in the country during the first 10 days of October, and vaccine scepticism remains high. These villages have some of the highest COVID-19 infection numbers and lowest vaccination rates in the country, which is being ravaged by the fourth wave of the pandemic, with ambulances queuing outside hospitals filled to the brim. Daily transmission numbers are rising across Central and Eastern European states, and Romania is experiencing record case and death rates as it grapples with the European Union's second-lowest vaccination rate.
Scientific Viewpoint
French study of over 22m people finds vaccines cut severe Covid risk by 90%
Vaccination reduces the risk of dying or being hospitalised with Covid-19 by 90%, a French study of 22.6 million people over the age of 50 has found. The research published on Monday also found that vaccines appear to protect against the worst effects of the most prevalent virus strain, the Delta variant. “This means that those who are vaccinated are nine times less at risk of being hospitalised or dying from Covid-19 than those who have not been vaccinated,” the epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik, who oversaw the research, told Agence France-Presse. The study – the largest of its kind so far – was carried out by Epi-Phare a scientific group set up by France’s health system, its national health insurance fund, l’Assurance Maladie (CNAM), and the country’s ANSM medicines agency.
AstraZeneca antibody cocktail trials show it can halve risk of severe disease, prevent, treat Covid
AstraZeneca's antibody drug cut the risk of severe Covid-19 by at least 50% in a late stage study, the company announced on Monday. The injection, called AZD7442, contains two different antibodies developed from the the blood of people who previously contracted Covid-19. It's the drug first of its kind shown to both prevent and treat Covid-19 in late-stage trials, the company said in a press release. The company has already requested Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval to use AZD7442 to prevent Covid-19, after late-stage trial results in August showed it reduced the risk of Covid-19 with symptoms by 77%.
Monoclonal antibody from AstraZeneca lowers risk for serious COVID-19, company says
An experimental drug developed by AstraZeneca reduces the risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19, company officials announced Monday. The drug, a combination of two monoclonal antibodies called AZD7442, lowers the risk of severe COVID-19 or death by 50% in people who have had symptoms for seven days or less, data from a clinical trial showed. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-created proteins modeled on those produced by the immune system to fight off infections. AZD7442 is delivered via injection and both prevents serious illness and treats its symptoms, the company said..
WHO experts back booster jabs for people with weak immune systems
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday recommended that immunocompromised people be given an additional dose of Covid-19 vaccine, due to their higher risk of breakthrough infections after standard immunisation. The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on immunisation said the additional dose should be offered “as part of an extended primary series since these individuals are less likely to respond adequately to vaccination following a standard primary vaccine series and are at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease”. WHO vaccine director Kate O’Brien, referring to people with lower immunity due to other conditions, told a news briefing: “The recommendation is for a third vaccination, an additional vaccination in the primary series and again that is based on the evidence showing that the immunogenicity and evidence on breakthrough infections is highly disproportionately represented by those people.”
New Clues Emerge About Whether Vaccines Can Help Fight Long Covid
Millions of people suffer from symptoms of long Covid, doctors estimate. Now, early research is offering some clues about whether vaccinations might help. When the vaccines first came out, some people who had suffered from debilitating symptoms for months after their initial Covid-19 infections told their doctors they felt better after getting vaccinated. The response intrigued scientists. Now, emerging research suggests that vaccines may help reduce symptoms in some people. Other recent research indicates that vaccination can reduce the likelihood of developing long-term Covid-19 symptoms in the first place.
Merck Asks F.D.A. for Emergency Approval of Covid Pill
Merck said on Monday that it had submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration to authorize what would be the first antiviral pill to treat Covid. Clearance for the drug, molnupiravir, would be a milestone in the fight against the coronavirus, experts said, because a convenient, relatively inexpensive treatment could reach many more high-risk people sick with Covid than the cumbersome antibody treatments currently being used. The Biden administration is preparing for an authorization that could come within weeks; the pill would likely to be allocated to states, as was the case with the vaccines. States could then distribute the pills how they wish, such as through pharmacies or doctors’ practices, senior administration officials said.
Merck Covid-19 Pill: Emergency Use Authorization Sought for Molnupiravir
Merck & Co. and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP sought emergency use authorization in the U.S. for molnupiravir, moving the pill closer to becoming the first oral antiviral treatment for Covid-19. An application was submitted with the Food and Drug Administration for molnupiravir to treat mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in adults at risk of developing a severe illness that may require hospitalization, the companies said in a statement Monday. Submissions to regulatory authorities worldwide are expected in the coming months after an interim analysis of clinical trial data found it cut the risk of hospitalization for such patients by half.
Merck seeks first U.S. authorization for COVID-19 pill
Merck & Co Inc said on Monday it has applied for U.S. emergency use authorization for its drug to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19, putting it on course to become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease. An authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help change clinical management of COVID-19 as the pill can be taken at home. The treatment, molnupiravir, cut the rate of hospitalization and death by 50% in a trial of mild-to-moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease, according to data released earlier this month.
COVID-19 vaccine trial participants to be offered additional doses
The government has announced the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants in England will be offered additional approved vaccine for international travel to countries which currently only accept vaccination records with approved for deployment COVID-19 jabs. Although the UK recognises those who are in COVID-19 vaccine trials as fully vaccinated for the purpose of certification, most other countries do not currently recognise clinical trial volunteers who have not had a vaccine that is approved for deployment. As such, the government will now offer these volunteers two additional doses of an approved vaccine, allowing them to gain the necessary certification status to travel abroad with more ease.
Brii Biosciences files EUA with US FDA for Covid-19 combination therapy
Brii Biosciences has filled an emergency use authorization (EUA) application with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its combination therapy, BRII-196/BRII-198, to treat Covid-19 patients. BRII-196/BRII-198 is a SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibody combination therapy, which is intended to treat non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients at high risk of clinical progression to severe disease. The EUA submission is based on the positive Phase III results obtained from the ACTIV-2 clinical trial that was announced in August.
INOVIO Gets Approval To Conduct Phase 3 Trial Of COVID-19 DNA Vaccine Candidate,INO-4800 In Colombia
INOVIO said Monday that it has received authorization from Colombia's INVIMA to conduct the phase 3 segment of the company's global Phase 2/3 trial, INNOVATE in Colombia, for INO-4800, its DNA vaccine candidate for COVID-19. The company noted that it is working with partner Advaccine Biopharmaceuticals Suzhou Co., Ltd. on the INNOVATE Phase 3 segment in multiple countries, with a focus on countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Merck seeks first U.S. authorization for COVID-19 tablet
Merck & Co Inc said on Monday it has applied for U.S. emergency use authorization for its drug to treat mild-to-moderate patients of COVID-19, putting it on course to become the first oral antiviral medication for the disease. An authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help change clinical management of COVID-19 as the pill can be taken at home.
Japan's Chugai files to expand use of COVID-19 antibody drug
Japan's Chugai Pharmaceutical Co said on Monday it has applied to regulators to expand the use of an antibody treatment for COVID-19 to also allow for preventative care. Japanese regulators approved an antibody cocktail known as Ronapreve as a treatment for COVID-19 in July. The latest filing seeks to use the drug as both a prophylaxis for COVID-19 and as treatment of asymptomatic cases, Chugai said in a release.
New antibody treatment ‘both prevents and treats Covid-19’
An antibody treatment developed by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has shown its ability to both prevent and treat Covid-19, according to new data. AstraZeneca submitted a request to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week for emergency use authorisation for AZD7442, which is made up of two antibodies, as a preventative treatment. In new data released on Monday morning from its Tackle trial, AstraZeneca showed AZD7442 was effective in preventing severe disease in non-hospitalised patients with mild to moderate coronavirus, when compared with a placebo. Most of the 903 people in the trial were at high risk of progression to severe Covid-19, including those with multiple health conditions.
Doctors claim Brazil hospitals gave dodgy COVID-19 care
Irene Castilho didn’t even have a day to grieve after her husband died of COVID-19. She was sick, too, coughing and struggling to breathe; he was barely gone when she started using his oxygen mask. The same day, on March 22, she was admitted to a hospital in Sao Paulo. The 71-year-old had followed doctors’ instructions to the letter – dutifully taking her doses of hydroxychloroquine. She also took ivermectin and a battery of anti-inflammatories and vitamins in the so-called “COVID kit” that her health care company, Prevent Senior, mailed to her home. Still, her condition had deteriorated. At the hospital, Castilho received dialysis and was intubated. When physicians consulted Castilho’s daughters about giving her flutamide — a drug typically used for prostate cancer – they declined, worried about possible side effects for their mother who recently had liver cancer.
AstraZeneca says drug helps cut risk of severe COVID
Drugmaker AstraZeneca said that its COVID-19 antibodies’ cocktail has helped cut the risk of severe disease or deaths in a late-stage study. The pharma company announced the results on Monday, marking a boost in its effort to develop coronavirus medicines beyond vaccines. The drug, a mix of two antibodies called AZD7442, reduced the risk of severe COVID-19 or death by 50 percent in non-hospitalised patients who have had symptoms for seven days or fewer, meeting the main goal of the study. AstraZeneca’s therapy, delivered via injection, is the first of its kind to show promise as a preventive medicine and as a treatment for COVID-19 following multiple trials. It is designed to protect people who do not have a strong enough immune response to vaccines.
Coronavirus Resurgence
60 Covid deaths, 10,035 new cases
Thailand logged 60 new Covid-19 fatalities and 10,035 new cases during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Monday morning. On Sunday, 10,590 Covid-19 patients were discharged from hospitals after recovering from the coronavirus. The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday afternoon welcomed the dip in the death toll, which has dropped by almost half from Sept 29.
Covid Vaccine and Pregnancy: 1 in 5 England Patients Are Unvaxxed Mothers To Be
Pregnant women who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 account for almost 20% of critically ill coronavirus patients in England’s hospitals, according to the National Health Service. One in five patients receiving treatments through a special lung-bypass machine since July were expectant mothers who have not had their first shots, the NHS said in a statement Monday. Even though women will have concerns about having the vaccine during pregnancy, there exists no link between getting jabbed and an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth or illness, according to Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. “There is robust evidence showing that the vaccine is the most effective way to protect both mother and baby against the possibility of severe illness,” Morris said. Over 81,000 pregnant women in England have so far received their first dose, with 65,000 being fully vaccinated.
1 in 5 critically ill coronavirus patients is pregnant, unvaccinated, England says
Unvaccinated pregnant women account for nearly 20 percent of the most critically ill coronavirus patients requiring lifesaving care in England in recent months, according to the country’s National Health Service. “Since July, one in five covid patients receiving treatment through a special lung-bypass machine were expectant mums who have not had their first jab,” the NHS said in a statement Monday. Out of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 being treated with a therapy called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation — used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged by the virus that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels — pregnant women make up almost a third, up from just 6 percent at the start of the pandemic.
Some children's hospitals see another surge in rare Covid-19 complication MIS-C
Scientists still don't know a lot about a rare and serious Covid-19 complication that impacts children, but what they do know is that when there is a surge of Covid-19 cases in their area, MIS-C cases will typically follow. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday it has seen a 12% increase in reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, since late August. Doctors at a handful of children's hospitals around the country say they are still treating more MIS-C cases than they had been earlier in the year, even though MIS-C is considered rare. "We had a nice long break from those cases over the summer and even into the fall where we could get an occasional MIS-C case here and there, but in the last three or four weeks, there has definitely been an uptick.
Vietnam reports 3,619 new COVID-19 cases, 843,281 in total
Vietnam reported 3,619 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, including 3,617 locally transmitted and two imported, according to the country's Ministry of Health. Most of the community cases were detected in southern localities, including 1,527 in Ho Chi Minh City, 499 in Dong Nai province and 446 in Binh Duong province. The new infections brought the country's total tally to 843,281, with 20,670 deaths, the ministry said. Nationwide, as many as 784,748 COVID-19 patients have so far recovered, up 2,549 from Sunday, while over 54 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, according to the ministry. As of Monday, Vietnam has registered a total of 838,653 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases since the start of the current wave in late April, the ministry said
Queensland records zero local cases of COVID-19, one in hotel quarantine, as state reaches 70pc first-dose mark
Queensland has recorded zero locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with just one case detected in hotel quarantine. It comes after a passenger who flew into Queensland without a valid border pass tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. The area is not in lockdown, but some hospitality businesses are opting to return to takeaway in fear of rising cases. The local government area recorded 18 new cases on Monday, following 31 cases on Sunday, 13 on Saturday and 11 on Friday. The area takes in the regional cities of Drouin and Warragul, and neighbours the Latrobe Valley.
COVID-19 cases rise in west Gippsland, as some cafes return to takeaway only
COVID-19 cases have jumped in Baw Baw in west Gippsland, with 62 cases since Friday. The area is not in lockdown, but some hospitality businesses are opting to return to takeaway in fear of rising cases. The local government area recorded 18 new cases on Monday, following 31 cases on Sunday, 13 on Saturday and 11 on Friday. The area takes in the regional cities of Drouin and Warragul, and neighbours the Latrobe Valley.
The rate of Covid-19 cases is dropping nationally but rising in these 5 states
The big picture for Covid-19 in the US is looking a little brighter as new infections and hospitalizations decline. "That's the good news. And hopefully it's going to continue to go in that trajectory downward," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "But we just have to be careful we don't prematurely declare victory in many respects. We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated that have not yet gotten vaccinated," Fauci said Sunday. "If you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in the cases over a period of time, they can bounce back."
Russia's new COVID-19 infections, deaths near all-time highs
Russia’s daily coronavirus infections and deaths hovered near all-time highs Monday amid sluggish vaccination rates and the Kremlin s reluctance to toughen restrictions. Russia s state coronavirus task force reported 29,409 new confirmed cases — the highest number since the year’s start and just slightly lower than the pandemic record reached in December. After registering the highest daily death toll since the start of the pandemic at 968 over the weekend, it reported 957 new deaths on Monday.
COVID-19: Unvaccinated pregnant women make up one fifth of most critically ill coronavirus patients in England
Almost a fifth of the most critically ill COVID patients in England in recent months have been pregnant women, according to NHS England, which is urging expectant mothers to get their jabs. Figures show that between July 1 and September 30, 17% of patients receiving treatment through a lung-bypass machine were unvaccinated pregnant women. Expectant mothers accounted for 32% of all females aged between 16 and 49 in intensive care on ECMO - a medical technique used when a patient's lungs are so badly damaged that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 8th May 2020

News Highlights

Countries around the world are grapling with a dilemma: either ease lockdown restrictions to restart the economy or continue with lockdowns to control the coronavirus infection rate.

India, which has imposed a strict lockdown for over 40 days, relaxed its rules, and infection rates and morbidities jumped almost immediately. Russia, which had relatively few cases, saw a spike of more than 10,000 cases in a single day, just as it said it was considering relaxing lockdown rules next week. France, the UK, Spain and Germany are all making plans to ease restrictions and resume economic and social activity based on revised rules. However, Spain's two hardest hit cities, Barcelona and Madrid, may keep restrictions in place.

Unfortunately, amid the lockdown in South Africa, more and more people are making calls to support groups for help with issues related to anxiety, panic and stress. Depression and anxiety are terrible companions to have at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.

Lockdown Exit
COVID-19: how Asia-Pacific is emerging from lockdown
Countries all over the world are announcing their plans to emerge from COVID-19-inflicted lockdown, and the Asia-Pacific region is no different. Even countries like Thailand and Viet Nam, that have not suffered a heavy infection rate or death toll, must now reckon with the economic damage caused by the pandemic, and are eager to cautiously reopen their schools and get people back to work. Here is a roundup of measures announced from countries and economies in the Asia-Pacific area:
What Canada can learn from Hong Kong’s Covid-19 successes
Professor Samuel Yeung-shan Wong says Canada should follow Hong Kong by supporting public mask wearing and testing all arrivals at airports for coronavirus A study by Wong, published in Canada, says Hong Kong’s aggressive contact tracing and quarantine measures also helped restrict the spread of the disease
How to stay safe on public transport under Italy's lockdown phase two
Italy's health ministry has issued new guidance on reducing the risk of infection when using public transport. The Italian government has also stated that masks must be worn when using on all forms of public transport. In addition to this, the Italian health ministry on Wednesday published official advice on staying safe when using public transport – assessed by workplace injury insurance agency INAIL.as being a “medium-high risk" environment for coronavirus infection, the Ansa news agency reports. The risk rises to “high” during peak times in urban areas, the insurers said.
France to test controversial Covid-19 tracking app during lockdown exit
As France awakens from lockdown on 11 May, the government will start testing “under real conditions” a prototype for its much-criticised StopCovid contact tracking phone app, ahead of the product’s intended full roll-out on 2 June. The app works by using Bluetooth to interact with nearby phones and detect when users come into contact with potential coronavirus carriers. It generates an anonymous numerical ID that’s exchanged with other smartphones also running the app. The ID of anyone who tests positive is red-flagged, and a warning is then sent to those who have crossed paths with the infected person. The app does not, however, reveal details about where and when the encounter took place – unlike similar technology in China, geolocation data is not recorded. The use of StopCovid – developed in France by researchers and companies under the supervision of the government – will be purely voluntary, but it needs to be widespread if it’s to play any meaningful role slowing the epidemic.
Coronavirus: Private renters facing ‘tsunami of evictions’ once lockdown ends, charity warns
Shelter says that those relying on benefits must find an estimated £13m a week in total to keep up with their rent payments. The government has suspended evictions for the duration of the crisis, but thousands could be forced out of their homes when the lockdown ends. Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, has warned of a “tsunami of evictions” amid the “serious financial difficulty” that people across the country are now facing. “As renters lose their jobs and see their incomes hit, many will have to rely on the welfare safety net for the first time,” she said. “Our services are already hearing from families in homes they could comfortably afford under normal circumstances, who are now in serious financial difficulty. “We’re facing an onslaught of people suddenly unable to afford their rent, at a time when people need to stay put and cannot safely move to a cheaper home.
Hugs, rugby on agenda as New Zealand continues to ease lockdown
Super Rugby in New Zealand is poised to resume when the country relaxes its COVID-19 lockdown, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday, with bars, retailers and schools also set to open. Ardern is due to announce next Monday whether New Zealand will move to 'Alert Level 2', which allows significantly more freedom than Kiwis have experienced since lockdown began in late March. While she stressed no decision had yet been made, Ardern acknowledged New Zealand's success in containing the virus had put it in a good position to cautiously relax the rules. "Think of ourselves as halfway down Everest," she said. "It's clear that no one wants to hike back up that peak and the descent is known to be even more dangerous."
Coronavirus: Lockdown bites poor as France eases grip
The government will set out on Thursday how it plans to lift restrictions on movement on Monday. But for many the damage from one of Europe's strictest lockdowns has been done. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gave details of the changes on Thursday. The plan is to divide the country into red and green zones, with different rules for different places. "From Monday we will progressively unwind the lockdown that started on 17 March... but the country is cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions, notably in the Paris region, which is very densely populated," the prime minister said.
Exiled Parisians face bittersweet homecoming as France eases Covid-19 lockdown
Two months ago, some 1.2 million people fled the Paris region in a reverse rural flight that prompted howls of protests from countryfolk fearful of the spreading coronavirus. Now, residents of the French capital and its suburbs have been told they can head back the other way as the country prepares to end its lockdown on May 11. Already, the logistics of their return from exile is a headache for the SNCF, France’s national train operator, which is running a limited service and can only fill 50% of seats to comply with social distancing rules. But the government has pledged to let all Parisians return home, provided they carry a justification form required of all travellers who plan to cover a distance of more than 100 kilometres once the lockdown is lifted.
Parts of Asia that relaxed restrictions without a resurgence in coronavirus cases did these three things
South Korea and Hong Kong successfully relaxed pandemic restrictions without having another rise in cases by data sharing, using targeted testing and contact tracing. The varying results of efforts across Asia to contain the virus and reopen society present policy options and perhaps lessons for countries behind on the outbreak’s timeline. Public health specialists who spoke with CNBC said they’re not confident U.S. officials are taking note of what’s working and not working in Asia.
Pew-pew woo-hoo! Hong Kong reopens video arcades shut by coronavirus lockdown
Hong Kong will reopen video game arcades as the city begins to ease its pandemic precautions and attempts to kick its economy into a higher gear. The new guidelines, announced yesterday, will allow bars, gyms, beauty salons, cinemas and "amusement game centres" to resume business on Friday with some restrictions. In arcades, operators will either need barriers between machines, or to leave every second console inoperable. The number of people allowed to gather in groups will be raised from four to eight and schools will resume in three phases starting 27 May. The reopening has been ordered because: "In light of the more stabilised situation in Hong Kong in terms of the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the recent weeks... a window of opportunity exists for us to lift some of the social distancing measures at the moment," a spokesperson for the Food and Health Bureau said.
Less is more: Chinese consumers look for meaning after lockdown
After almost two months of lockdown and being out of work, Chinese consumers are not shopping as much as they used to.
Exit Strategies
Pubs, transport and shops – how the UK’s lockdown measures could be eased
According to some reports, unlimited outdoor exercise will be allowed from Monday, however gyms and playgrounds are expected to remain closed. Public Health England has signalled the “stay home” message could be abandoned and reports suggest people using benches, having picnics or sunbathing will no longer be asked to move on, provided they keep two metres apart. Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested on Wednesday that outdoor “pavement cafes” could be put in place over the summer.
How will lockdown be eased? Boris Johnson expected to relax some UK coronavirus rules - but it's not yet clear which ones
It is widely reported that the Government is going to scrap its key "stay at home" message from next week, and replace it with a new slogan. The main focus for easing the restrictions is likely to be about restarting the economy and allowing some people to return to work without risking their health. According to the Daily Mirror, employees at workplaces that stayed open during the lockdown will be encouraged to return. Some outlets have reported that the Government will advise Britons to wear face masks on public transport and in shops and offices where it is harder to stick to social distancing rules. Despite some reports about shops opening as long as social distancing can take place, The Daily Telegraph says non-essential retailers, including garden centres, will have to hold on a little longer before fully reopening.
Five-part plan to get UK out of lockdown over six months
Britain’s plan for returning to normal will be implemented in five stages over the next six months, it is understood. Boris Johnson is set to lay out his ‘roadmap’ for exiting lockdown on Sunday, with some changes hoped to take effect the next day. While that is sooner than expected, a 50-page blueprint being drafted by officials indicates some restrictions won’t be lifted until at least October, according to The Daily Mirror. The five-stage plan reportedly proposes reopening some garden centres and open-air markets as early as Monday, but keeping bigger indoor venues like pubs, bars and restaurants closed until August.
Don't expect a snapback for the UK economy after lockdown is lifted
One of the lessons of the last recession was that austerity measures were imposed too quickly and recovery was choked off, and the stakes are much higher this time. Whether or not there is a second wave of infections there is certainly the risk of a second wave of acute economic distress starting in the autumn. The psychological impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour meant it was never realistic for the UK to have a V-shaped recession. The aim now is to avoid a great depression.
Coronavirus: NI Executive discusses plan for easing lockdown
Executive ministers met for more than three hours on Thursday, ahead of a call between the PM and leaders of the devolved institutions. They agreed to recommend that people in Northern Ireland should now wear face coverings when they were in enclosed spaces for short periods of time, where social distancing is not possible. The decision was taken in line with scientific advice, Mrs Foster told the Executive's daily press conference. Health Minister Robin Swann later said that while evidence on the overall protection provided by face coverings "is not conclusive, on balance it is sufficient to recommend that members of the public consider using them in particular circumstances". "In practice, these circumstances will largely relate to public transport and retail environments," he added. "Their use will not be mandatory. Crucially, face coverings must not lead to any false sense of security about the level of protection provided."
UK due to extend lockdown ahead of deconfinement measures
Johnson suggested on Wednesday that some restrictions could be relaxed as of 11 May, while repeating that he wanted to avoid a second wave of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic at all costs. “The reality is we’re still at a high point of the virus. We believe we are past the peak, but we have to make sure we do not create a situation we can have a strong second peak very quickly,” echoed Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on BBC Radio 4. “We’re going to make sure we go forward in a way that actually puts people’s health first,” he added. British media reported that citizens will soon be able to exercise unlimitedly outdoors, have picnics or even sunbathe in parks, as long as they keep a safe distance of two metres between people. People are currently only allowed to go out for groceries, medical treatment or exercise.
Britain heading for a limited easing of lockdown next week
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce a very limited easing of Britain’s coronavirus lockdown next week, adopting a cautious approach to try to ensure there is no second peak of infections that could further hurt the economy. “If people don’t follow the rules or if we see that the R-level (the reproductive rate of the virus) goes back up, we will tighten the restrictions again.” The government has been criticised for moving too slowly to tackle the outbreak which has led to more than 30,000 deaths in Britain - the worst official death toll in Europe. But with an increasing number of anecdotal reports that more people are flouting the lockdown in anticipation of Sunday’s announcement and a public holiday on Friday, ministers are under pressure to make any new rules as clear as possible after being criticised for mixed messaging.
When will the UK lockdown rules be reviewed, and what happens in phase two?
The Prime Minister has said we are now past the peak of the pandemic, and hinted that lockdown measures could be lifted soon. He will address the nation on Sunday 10 May at 7pm to outline the Government's plan to lift the lockdown. He said the "dates and times" of each measure being lifted would come when the Government had more data, but the UK is heading towards "phase two" of its coronavirus response, which will involve partially lifting lockdown. Here, we analyse when the lockdown could end and what the "new normal" might look like....
Coronavirus in Germany: Summer holidays on the horizon as Angela Merkel agrees to ease lockdown restrictions
Germans are already planning their summer holidays abroad with the lifting of lockdown restrictions across the nation. Thomas Bareiss, the federal tourism commissioner, told German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel that, if the coronavirus outbreak remained under control in the country, then people may be able to holiday abroad soon.
Spain virus death toll declines as lockdown easing moves ahead
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez argues that his administration needs enhanced powers to coordinate the health service, which is normally under the remit of the 17 regional governments, and to implement economic policies designed to mitigate the impact of the lockdown. Even though Sanchez won the vote, it could be a prelude to another political crisis. The main opposition party, the conservative PP, abstained and threatened to vote against Sanchez if he seeks another extension. The PP had backed Sanchez's previous requests for a longer state of emergency and a negative vote could compromise the political legitimacy of the measure. The government is pursuing a cautious easing of confinement rules to avoid a resurgence in infections. Spain has the second-most extensive outbreak in the world, behind the U.S. and ahead of Italy, the original epicenter of the virus in Europe.
Coronavirus: Germany moves to carefully lift lockdown as infection rates fall
Pressure to relax the rules had been growing as the lockdown achieved the country's goal in slowing the spread of COVID-19. Angela Merkel has laid out a plan for Germany exiting the lockdown as the rate of daily coronavirus infections in the country continues to drop. The German chancellor announced a loosening of the measures after meeting with the country's 16 state governors. She said restaurants and other businesses will be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.
When could hairdressers re-open in the UK after lockdown?
With several more European countries, including Germany, Spain and Portugal, now easing their social distancing measures enough to allow hairdressers to re-open, how are stylists operating amid a new way of work and what can we expect from salons when they finally open their doors again in the UK? Here's what we know about salons that have reopened in other countries while social distancing.
Factbox: From hairdressers to beaches - Spain's plan to phase out lockdown
Spain has a four-phase plan to lift a coronavirus lockdown and return to normal by the end of June. Following are the key points of the plan, which will vary from province to province. Advancing through the stages will depend on factors such as how the rate of infection evolves, the number of intensive care beds available locally and compliance with distancing rules
French PM to unveil final strategy to exit Covid-19 lockdown
On Thursday, people in France will find out what awaits them on Monday 11 May if the 2-month lockdown is lifted. Edouard Philippe, who has promised there will be no easy return to normal, is due to present the first phase of the government's exit plan at 16:00 local time. Many questions hang in the balance, including whether the exit will go ahead as planned on Monday. Philippe had said previously that if the indicators were bad the lockdown would be extended. The indicators guiding his choice include the evolution of the pandemic, the ability of hospitals to deliver critical care and testing capacity.
Prime Minister's five-step plan to ease lockdown - and it could start as early as Monday
Millions of Britons could take the first steps out of lockdown as early as Monday under the Government's plan to return the nation to some kind of normality. The proposals will be set out in a "roadmap" by the Prime Minister on Sunday - and the first could be enacted within hours of his address. The Mirror reports that unlimited exercise will be allowed from Monday, May 11 and staff encouraged to return to work at businesses which have stayed open during the lockdown. But the full plan is likely to take several months to work through and steps could be delayed or changed by a second spike of coronavirus later in the year.
Live: France unveils final plan on easing Covid-19 lockdown
“Next Monday will mark the start of a very gradual process stretching over several weeks at least, which will allow the country to emerge slowly but steadily from the lockdown," Philippe told a news conference, hours after the government put the final touches to its highly-anticipated roadmap. Philippe said the government was looking to “strike the right balance between the indispensable resumption of economic (...) life and the indispensable need” to ensure the safety of the public. He said the exit from lockdown would be “differentiated”, with restrictions to be lifted gradually and varying between regions. "The country is cut in two, with the virus circulating more quickly in some regions," he explained.
France Set to Ease Lockdown to Relieve Coronavirus Pain
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the country was ready for a nationwide plan to relax curbs on public life, though strict controls will remain on public transport in Paris, where infection rates are too high. Looser restrictions on businesses and stores will start coming into effect on Monday in a gradual process designed to avoid a second wave of infections. “We are always looking for a balance between the indispensable return to normal life and the indispensable respect of all measures that will prevent the epidemic from restarting,” Philippe said on Thursday, adding that restrictions could be reimposed if infections rise. “The target of all the French people is that we can live with this virus” until a cure is found.
French PM to present end of lockdown roadmap today
In that previous speech he urged people to be disciplined in the run-up to May 11, so as to ensure there was not a resurgence of Covid-19 and that deconfinement could begin on schedule. If all went as hoped, he said a first deconfinement stage could then begin, lasting until June 2, when it was expected that there would be further changes. Rules for the first stage will to some extent vary depending on whether people live in a geographical department that has been labelled green (good), orange (intermediate) or red (bad), for the number of new cases, the capacity of hospitals to cope, and whether or not the area is well equipped for testing and contact tracing (alerting people who may be at risk due to having had close contact with an infected person).
Lockdown Level 3: These are the 12 biggest changes that will take place
Level 3 will include more significant changes than the ones we saw in the transition to Level 4. Here's how the government see the next phase working.
Barcelona and Madrid may be left in lockdown as Spain lifts curbs
Spain's two hardest-hit cities may keep restrictions in place as the rest of the country emerges from lockdown. Sanchez's plan to lift lockdown restrictions has four stages, in which restrictions are progressively eased, with each region applying to enter the next phase if it meets certain conditions, such as hospital capacity requirements. The first phase would allow for groups of up to 10 people to meet in homes or outdoors, and street cafes to reopen. Religious celebrations can also be observed, as long as places of worship practise social distancing and limit themselves to 30 percent of their previous capacities. Catalonia's regional government on Wednesday said Barcelona and Girona would not be included in the first phase, which starts on Monday, saying there was a moderate to high risk of a new wave of infections. But Madrid - the city which is at the centre of Spain's outbreak, and which is still registering high numbers of new cases - has applied to the national health ministry to begin opening its doors on Monday.
Pakistan to Ease Coronavirus Lockdown Saturday
Pakistan has announced it will gradually ease a nationwide coronavirus-related “partial" lockdown starting Saturday, saying the number of COVID-19 infections remain relatively low and under control. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Pakistan Cabinet approves easing lockdown after May 9
The Pakistan cabinet has approved easing the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the country gradually after May 9th, provided that strict implementation of the coronavirus-related preventative measures suggested by the government ensured. Prime Minister Imran Khan, however, warned that threat from the viral disease was not over and could strike again if the government's stadard operating procedures were not followed
Study to explore the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on children
The country’s largest longitudinal study is about to launch a new research project to discover how the Covid-19 lockdown has affected children in Aotearoa New Zealand. Growing Up in New Zealand is following the lives of more than 6,000 New Zealand children and their families from before birth until adulthood. The University of Auckland study plans to carry out a digital survey with cohort children later this week to gather information about their experiences of “lockdown” at Covid-19 Alert Levels 4 and 3. Study director, Professor Susan Morton, of the University’s School for Population Health in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, says hearing the voices of children is crucial to provide insights into how young people may have been impacted by the pandemic.
As India Loosens Its Strict Lockdown, Coronavirus Deaths Jump Sharply
Part of India’s success in blunting the spread of the coronavirus had been a fierce lockdown that was zealously obeyed. But in the last few days, the government has loosened up the rules, drawing people into the streets. And now the dangerous contagion appears to be spreading more aggressively.
The great Indian lockdown survey: The good, bad and the ugly
Economic Times Online conducted a readers' poll to gauge the mood of the public in a country that has been under a crippling lockdown for over 40 days. Now that the wheels have begun clacking again in factories and plants, we present here the insights gleaned from almost 13,000 of India's best-informed readers of business news.
Germany Paves Way for Broad Economic Restart With Virus Tamed
Merkel and state leaders have agreed on a framework to ease the lockdown in Germany. These moves are to be phased in regionally with an emergency stop built in should there be a repeat of a coronavirus spike in any one region
Germany eases lockdown, with 'emergency brake' on hand if needed
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced steps on Wednesday to ease the coronavirus lockdown in Germany but at the same time launched an "emergency brake" mechanism allowing for renewed restrictions in case infections pick up again. Declaring an end to the first phase of the pandemic in Germany, Merkel said there was still a long way to go in the battle against the virus, which has battered Europe's largest economy. The government will decide on an economic stimulus package in June, Merkel said, adding this was a "very ambitious" time frame. Germany went into lockdown in March to contain coronavirus contagion. Its reproduction rate has been falling for several days, and Merkel said it was now consistently below 1 - meaning a person with the virus infects fewer than one other on average. "We are at a point where our goal of slowing the spread of the virus has been achieved and we have been able to protect our health system..., so it has been possible to discuss and agree on further easing measures," Merkel told reporters.
UK has drawn up three-stage plan for easing coronavirus lockdown: The Times
The United Kingdom has drawn up a three-stage plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown that was first imposed at the end of March, The Times newspaper said. The government must review the lockdown by May 7 but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear that he is worried about triggering a second deadly spike in cases. Johnson is expected to set out a plan for exiting the lockdown on Sunday. The first phase will involve small shops reopening alongside outdoor workplaces and the second will involve large shopping centres reopening, with more people encouraged to go into work, The Times said. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure centres will be among the last to open, the newspaper said.
Welcoming Britain back: tourism businesses set out post-lockdown plans
However, behind the scenes tourism officials and hospitality bosses are busy working out how destinations will start to welcome back visitors this summer. Without knowing exactly what changes will be announced when Boris Johnson produces his roadmap on Sunday, tourist boards across the UK are setting out plans for a phased reopening of attractions and businesses as they endeavour to salvage some of the 2020 season. “We can’t afford to wait until lockdown’s over and find we’ve not got the plans in place,” said Gill Haigh, chief executive of Cumbria Tourism. “The question is how we reset.”
Life after lockdown: France unveils grand culture bailout as Germany re-opens museums 'with poles'
France announced grand plans to save Gallic culture on Wednesday, including a pledge of massive public commissions for creative projects and an extension of its uniquely generous unemployment system for arts and entertainment workers to avoid collapse under coronavirus. Theatres and museums could slowly start preparing to re-open from next week while respecting safety guidelines to avoid a resurgence of infections, said President Emmanuel Macron. The moves came as countries around Europe are grappling with how to support the arts and re-open cultural venues and are coming up with creative ways to respect social distancing, including using ribbons and poles.
Russia sees record spike in coronavirus cases with more than 10,000 in one day
Despite a rise in coronavirus cases of 10,000+ in a single day, Russia has indicated it could gradually lift confinement measures from next week.
Australia to ease COVID-19 curbs in three stages, targets July for full removal
Australia will ease social distancing restrictions implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus in a three-step process, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, with the aim of removing all curbs by July. Australia imposed strict social distancing restrictions in March, which, coupled with the closure of its borders, is credited with drastically slowing the number of new infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Morrison said Australia’s states and territories will decide when to begin implementing each stage.
Partisan Exits
UK newspapers accused of giving 'mixed messages' on lockdown
Downing Street was keen to pour cold water on reports that the lockdown could be lifted from Monday, after newspaper headlines such as Lockdown Freedom Beckons and Happy Monday. Senior government figures privately expressed concern about what one referred to as “over-egged” reports about both the “tone and the pace” of a potential easing. The same source also played down one report that people could be able to sit two metres away from friends outside as soon as Monday. “It will be much more cautious than what is being reported,” they said.
Keir Starmer: UK needs to leave lockdown together
The leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has said that easing of lockdown restrictions needs to take place across the UK as a whole, as he urged "caution" to avoid another spike in cases of coronavirus.
Coronavirus: PM 'must show respect' to UK nations over lockdown
The SNP's Mr Ian Blackford said: "We are still facing an enormous death toll and everything we do should be based on the scientific and medical advice. "What we should be focusing on are the health considerations for the public and the absolute desire to drive down the impact of this virus. "If we allow an earlier removal of restrictions, all we are going to do is run the risk of that second spike and the impact on the health of individuals and the economy will actually be greater. "There has to be discipline and an appreciation from the population of what we are doing and why." Also appearing on the Good Morning Scotland programme, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was "worried" about Scotland potentially taking a different approach to restrictions to the rest of the UK. He said: "Across the United Kingdom, we went into lockdown together and I think it would be far better if any easing or relaxation was done together. "There are real problems if different regions and different nations do it at different times.
Strain emerges between UK government and Scotland over easing lockdown
Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman confirmed the first minister plans to renew all Scotland’s lockdown regulations on Thursday without amending them. They were not aware of any scientific or expert advice which supported Johnson’s proposals, he said. “I think the first minister has said in recent days she’s been very clear that she’s not anticipating any imminent changes to the current measures that are recently in place.” The UK’s nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have collaborated closely on policies and strategies during the pandemic, with Johnson announcing the lockdown plans on 20 and 23 March on behalf of all four governments.
Scotland appeals for "four nation" approach to lockdown as UK plans early exit
Scotland's Health Secretary has appealed for a "four nation" approach to easing the Coronavirus lockdown in the UK amid reports that Boris Johnson will lift some restrictions south of the border this weekend.
Coronavirus: Lockdown tensions between UK and Welsh ministers grow
The results of a review into Wales' coronavirus lockdown will be announced by the Welsh Government on Friday. First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to outline how and when minor adjustments could be made. It comes after Downing Street conceded Wales and the other UK nations may move differently on easing the restrictions. The Welsh Government said more details will be announced in Friday's press conference. Mr Drakeford's approach is expected to be cautious, with a focus on ensuring the R rate of transmission is not allowed to rise.
Germany's Maas condemns anti-lockdown protesters' attack on journalists
For the second time in a week, journalists in Berlin were attacked by members of the public. Illegal anti-lockdown protesters turned on a camera team, in a move decried by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Leaving Lockdown, Entering Recession: Strike in Spain Shows Workers’ Fears
Labor unions in Europe have recently voiced concerns about the safety of employees who have been returning to work. But the strike at Nissan highlights what may be the next major concern of organized labor: protecting jobs in a post-pandemic economy. The coronavirus has brought about a recession that is expected to be the worst ever in the European Union, one that will most likely push companies to close down struggling factories.Automakers in particular are believed to have excess capacity, as demand for new cars has slipped in recent years. About a fifth of carmaking capacity worldwide is not being used.
Spanish PM secures support for lockdown plans
The fragile left-wing coalition government is set to rescue its lockdown plans from “chaos” in a parliamentary vote today after securing the support of a centre-right party. The Socialist-led government of Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, was in danger of losing a vote for a two-week extension of the state of emergency after one of its allies, a Catalan separatist party, decided to vote against it. The Catalan Republican Left party withdrew its support, saying powers should now be returned to the regions. However, the government won the backing of Ciudadanos, a centre-right party, and maintained the support of a Basque regional party to stave off what the Socialists called “chaos”.
Anger grows in French coastal areas over continued Covid-19 beach ban
Local Mayors and MPs have struggled to explain the decision and numerous campaigns including #RendezNousLaMer have sprung up on social media to get the decision overturned. Gwendal Richard, a keen surfer, told French newspaper Ouest-France that the beach ban was “completely unjust”. “All those who love the sea” are welcome to join him on nearby beach in Erquy to express their anger “peacefully” on 11 May, he says. He’s calling on them to line up on the beach while respecting social distancing regulations and wearing facemasks and he plans to stream the event live on Facebook.
Continued Lockdown
Why lockdown rules aren't always the same around Italy
As Italy adjusts to phase two, the staggered reopening has been complicated by the highly decentralised government system which allows the country's 20 regions to layer on their own rules. Veneto and Calabria have thus been serving food and drink at bars and restaurants with outdoor seating since last week. The area around Genoa is thinking of reopening its beaches. Neighbouring Emilia-Romagna is keeping them closed - even to those who live by the sea. And fines for breaking the rules range from a maximum of 3,000 euros in most places to 5,000 in Lombardy. Such regional differences in the rules have been cause for confusion throughout the lockdown.
Breaking A Sweat: Gyms Across Spain Weary About Re-Opening Under New Lockdown Limitations
Since the beginning of the quarantine most social and leisure activities have moved online, for example watching concerts or meeting up with friends has now taken place on the internet. Similarly, working out has been done virtually although since May 2, residents in Spain have had the opportunity to take to the streets to exercise. When it comes to sports installations or gymnasiums, which according to sources are the preferred source of exercise for around 5.5 million people in Spain, they will be allowed to reopen their facilities after Phase 1 of the de-escalation plan begins. For now, Phase 1 will allow these sports establishments to recommence individual sports activities with advanced bookings, no physical contact and closed changing rooms. Further on, in Phase 3, the gyms will be limited to 30 per cent capacity and changing rooms will remain closed.
Spain approves fourth lockdown extension to May 25 as PM secures ‘last minute’ support from opposition parties
The country’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez finally managed to secure enough ‘last minute’ support from the opposition parties to extend the country’s lockdown for a fourth time, despite many threatening to withhold their vote this time round (as reported). The lockdown extension will allow the government to restrict citizen’s movements to contain the coronavirus.
Major Brazilian cities set lockdowns as virus spreads
São Luis became Brazil’s first major city to begin a coronavirus “lockdown” on Tuesday with another, Fortaleza, saying it would follow suit on Friday, as local health services struggle to cope with the pandemic. Tuesday’s lockdown measure covers São Luis and parts of three other municipalities with a total population of around 1.3 million people in the poor northeastern state of Maranhão. It forbids people from going outside except to obtain groceries, medications or cleaning supplies. Maranhão has not felt the brunt of the crisis, in contrast to the populous southeastern states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and the interior state of Amazonas, where hospitals are overwhelmed and authorities have resorted to burying victims in mass graves. But with 4,227 confirmed cases and 249 deaths, Brazil’s poorest state is still dealing with a significant caseload.
Brazil faces 'economic collapse' in 30 days due to lockdown: economy minister
Brazil could face "economic collapse" in a month's time due to stay-at-home measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak, with food shortages and "social disorder," Economy Minister Paulo Guedes warned Thursday. Brazil, Latin America's biggest economy, is also the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the region. But far-right President Jair Bolsonaro -- who appeared alongside Guedes, his free-market economics guru -- opposes stay-at-home measures to slow the virus, saying they are unnecessarily damaging the economy. "Within about 30 days, there may start to be shortages on (store) shelves and production may become disorganized, leading to a system of economic collapse, of social disorder," Guedes said. "This is a serious alert."
Brazil on Lockdown: New Rules for Most Heavily Affected Cities
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, northern and northeastern states have moved ahead and decreed lockdowns in municipalities with the imminent collapse of their health care systems.
South African Business Wants Virus Lockdown Ended Within Weeks
Business For South Africa says up to 4 million jobs at risk - companies may need to consider cutting dividend, Kingston says. They are calling for the lockdown to end within weeks not months to avoid serious economic dislocation
Anxious, stressed South Africans really battling under lockdown, says Sadag
Amid a protracted COVID-19 lockdown, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has been receiving more calls from people feeling anxious, panicked and stressed. A recent Sadag survey suggests that 55% had feelings of anxiety and panic and 46% were under financial stress and pressure. Before the lockdown, the group averaged about 600 calls per day - now it's between 1,200 and 1,400 calls. Sadag's Cassey Chambers said that besides people contacting them because of anxiety, panic and depression, they were also getting calls about stress related to accessing food parcels, food security, shelters, safety, social grants and UIF. She said that calls were coming from employees and business managers.
COVID-19: Moscow Cases 'Likely Three Times Higher' Than Official Toll; Pakistan To Lift Virus Lockdown
The global death toll from the coronavirus has passed 260,000 with more than 3.7 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness. Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.
Day 44 of coronavirus lockdown: Ground report from Indian cities
Here is a look at the latest updates on the outbreak of coronavirus across some of India's most important cities
People can’t help flouting lockdown laws – but why?
The last few weeks have seen endless reports of ‘covidiots’ flouting Government lockdown laws, which clearly state that we’re not allowed to meet up with friends or family from outside our household, and if we leave our homes for exercise or essentials we must keep two metres (6ft) away from others at all times. So far, police in England have issued more than 9,000 fines (CHK) under these new coronavirus laws – yet people are still flouting them. Although these rules are expected to be relaxed from next week, with a limit on exercise lifting and picnics and trips to rural areas to be allowed, police are concerned that this bank holiday weekend will spark another dangerous backlash against social distancing.
'We pray for this bad time to end': the steep cost of lockdown in South Africa
In country where half of population lives in poverty, coronavirus lockdown is causing mounting problems. “We had no chance to prepare, to get food, to get ready, to save some money. It is like I have been bound in chains … I understand it is [the same] for the whole world but we don’t know how or when we will solve [this disease],”
Spain’s Andalucia & Costa del Sol ask Government for changes to lockdown ‘outing’ timetable due to soaring temperatures
The Junta of Andalucia has approached the Central Government to request changes to the existing ‘outing’ timetable, announced last weekend, in order to protect families with young children from the soaring summer temperatures. Currently a parent can take out up to three children for an hour between the hours of 12pm and 7pm, but given the increasing heat the Junta is proposing a few changes to the existing lockdown ‘outing’ timetable.
Spain’s parliament votes to extend lockdown powers
Spain’s parliament has granted a government request to prolong the extraordinary legal order that underpins the country’s lockdown after fierce clashes in parliament and a last-minute deal with an opposition party.
Scientific Viewpoint
Easing French coronavirus lockdown will ‘spark second wave of cases’
France has been warned it faces an inevitable “second wave” of coronavirus as the country prepares to take its first significant steps out of lockdown. President Emmanuel Macron has already announced that schools and nurseries will progressively be reopened from Monday as part of a phased revival of activity. But Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus department at France’s Pasteur Institute, issued a word of caution. “There will be a second wave, but the problem is to which extent. Is it a small wave or a big wave? It’s too early to say,” he said.
COVID-19 surges in Russia, Brazil; WHO warns of huge death toll in Africa
With an ongoing surge of COVID-19 activity, Russia's total is now the world's fifth highest, as cases soared in parts of Brazil, another pandemic hot spot. And in another development, the World Health Organization (WHO) today warned that smoldering uncontained outbreaks in the first pandemic year in Africa could kill as many as 190,000 people.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Japan extends state of emergency amid fears over second wave
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has extended the country’s state emergency until the end of the month, amid warnings that relaxing physical distancing advice too soon could flood already crowded hospitals with coronavirus patients. Abe declared a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures on 7 April, enabling local governors to request that people avoid unnecessary trips outside and that non-essential businesses close. The measures have since been expanded nationwide, but they are far less restrictive than those introduced in the US and parts of Europe, with no fines or other penalties for those who do not comply.
New Lockdown
`If this thing boomerangs': Second wave of infections feared
As Europe and the U.S. loosen their lockdowns against the coronavirus, health experts are expressing growing dread over what they say is an all-but-certain second wave of deaths and infections that could force governments to clamp back down. “We’re risking a backslide that will be intolerable,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity. Elsewhere around the world, German authorities began drawing up plans in case of a resurgence of the virus. Experts in Italy urged intensified efforts to identify new victims and trace their contacts. And France, which hasn’t yet eased its lockdown, has already worked up a “reconfinement plan” in the event of a new wave.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 31st Mar 2021

Overnight News Roundup

World leaders, WHO back treaty to prepare for future pandemics

World leaders call for pandemic treaty
World leaders call for pandemic treaty, but short on details
More than 20 heads of government and global agencies called in a commentary published Tuesday for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations in the wake of COVID-19. But there were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leaders including Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, Premier Mario Draghi of Italy and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda proposed “a renewed collective commitment” to reinforce preparedness and response systems by leveraging the U.N. health agency’s constitution.
Covid-19: World leaders call for international pandemic treaty
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined more than 20 world leaders in calling for a new global settlement to help the world prepare for future pandemics. In a newspaper article the leaders, including the German chancellor and French president, said Covid posed the biggest challenge since World War Two. The pandemic has shown "nobody is safe until everyone is safe", they said. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the UK would need a surplus of vaccines before it could export supplies.
World leaders, WHO back treaty to prepare for future pandemics
As the world battles the biggest health crisis in recent history, leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) have said an international treaty for pandemic preparedness will protect future generations. The idea of such a treaty, aimed at tightening rules on sharing information and ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, as well as medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was first floated late last year by European Council President Charles Michel.
Scientists say ministers should ditch ‘rigid’ Covid rules and teach public how to reduce risk of transmission
Scientists say ministers to ditch ‘rigid’ Covid rules and teach public how to reduce risk of transmission
Ministers should stop telling people to stick to “rigid” coronavirus rules and instead focus more on explaining how they can reduce the risk of catching the disease, a senior Government scientist has said. The Government loosened Covid-19 restrictions today, implementing a new Rule of Six in England, allowing six people or two households to meet outdoors, including in private gardens. Scientists believe the next step in easing the measures could lead to a rise in Covid-19 cases as people will be more likely to bend the rules after three months of a winter lockdown.
Continued lockdown
Covid in Ireland: Further six weeks of lockdown expected
The government is expected to announce today a further six weeks of lockdown with a minor and gradual easing of restrictions over the course of April. The present guidelines were due to be relaxed next Monday, after more than three months of lockdown, but it is expected that any changes to public health measures will be limited. It is understood that the 5km exercise and travel limit will be relaxed to at least 10km from next week, and that two households will be allowed to meet outdoors later in the month.
Vienna Plans to Extend Easter Lockdown Until Following Weekend: Minister
Vienna plans to extend an Easter coronavirus lockdown by five days until the following Sunday, Austria's health minister said on Monday, while two nearby provinces introducing the same restrictions are still undecided on prolonging them. The eastern provinces of Lower Austria, which surrounds Vienna, Burgenland, which borders Hungary, and the capital itself last week announced a lockdown from Thursday, April 1 to Tuesday, April 6, closing non-essential shops and replacing a nighttime curfew with all-day restrictions on movement
Turkey tightens coronavirus measures, brings back weekend lockdowns: Erdogan
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced tighter measures against the coronavirus on Monday, citing the rising number of high-risk cities across the country. Erdogan said a full weekend lockdown was to be in place during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, and restaurants would only serve food for delivery and take-outs. A curfew from 9 pm until 5 am across the country will continue, Erdogan said. Turkey has recorded 32,404 new coronavirus cases in the space of 24 hours, the highest number this year, health ministry data showed on Monday.
Chile imposes lockdowns to fight new Covid wave despite vaccination success
Despite mounting the world’s fastest per-capita Covid-19 vaccination campaign, Chile has been forced to announce strict new lockdowns as it plunges deeper into a severe second wave of cases which is stretching intensive care capacity. Chile trails only Israel and the UAE in vaccine doses per 100 inhabitants worldwide, but new cases have risen quickly amid mixed health messaging, travel over the southern hemisphere summer holidays and the circulation of new variants.
Qatar health official calls for lockdown as COVID cases rise
A Qatari health official has called for a full lockdown in the country to stem the spread of the coronavirus as the country continues to report an increasing number of infections on a daily basis. Ahmed al-Mohammed, acting chairman of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Intensive Care Units, said on Monday that Qatar was witnessing a peak in the number of cases since the first wave, including a reportedly large number of infections among children under the age of 14.
Hospitals in Ecuador's capital overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections, doctors say
Ecuador’s health system is under severe strain from a spike in coronavirus infections, doctors in the country’s capital said on Tuesday, adding that some Quito hospitals are working above capacity to treat COVID-19 patients. Ecuador’s suffered a brutal outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020, primarily in the largest city of Guayaquil. Authorities controlled the situation after several months, but in recent weeks have seen cases jump in cities around the country. “The saturation of the health system is not only in Quito but at the national level,” Dr. Victor Alvarez, president of the doctors association of the state of Pichincha, where Quito is located, told reporters. “Seeing images of patients lying on the ground, or perhaps on a military mattress, receiving oxygen in emergency units, that’s sad.”
GSK to help manufacture 60m doses of Novavax Covid vaccine in UK
Manufacturing Johnson & Johnson vaccine partner Emergent still lacks FDA's manufacturing green light
The U.S. manufacturing partner turning out drug substance for Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is still waiting on an FDA green light, potentially putting a squeeze on J&J's supply pipeline. The FDA is weighing an emergency nod for Emergent BioSolutions, tapped in July 2020 to provide large-scale drug substance manufacturing for J&J's shot, Politico reported, citing two people familiar with the company's emergency use authorization process. The regulator could clear Emergent "very soon," one source said.
GSK to help manufacture 60m doses of Novavax Covid vaccine in UK
British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will be part of the manufacturing process for up to 60m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by US rival Novavax in an agreement set to boost UK production of coronavirus jabs. The vaccine has yet to receive the green light from UK regulators, but is expected to be submitted for approval over the next three months after showing strong efficacy in a recent late-stage trial, including against the more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant circulating in the UK. Under an agreement in principle with Novavax and the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce, GSK will “fill and finish” 60m doses of the vaccine, preparing the vials and packaging the finished doses for distribution, the company said.
Novavax COVID-19 vaccine could be approved by UK in April, Evening Standard says
Britain could approve Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine next month, the chief investigator for the shot's trial told the Evening Standard newspaper. “The regulator will do a very detailed and thorough review and will decide in good time,” said Professor Paul Heath, chief investigator for the Novavax jab trial in the UK. “I would hope it would be in the spring, possibly end of April.”
COVID-19: Up to 60m vaccine doses to be manufactured at Barnard Castle, Boris Johnson says
Up to 60 million doses of COVID vaccine will be manufactured at Barnard Castle in the North East, Boris Johnson has announced. The prime minister revealed that the Novavax jab - which has yet to be approved - will undergo its "fill and finish" stage at a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) facility. Part of the vaccine is already being produced in the North East, at a Fujifilm site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, as it awaits approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
New studies into vaccine effectiveness
Covid jab probably does protect those around you
The Covid-19 vaccine blocks pretty much all cases of serious illness - but the government has been much more cautious about saying whether it stops people carrying the virus and infecting others. Until evidence had built up from lots of people being vaccinated, scientists could not say for sure if the jab would stop transmission - and there was concern those vaccinated might stop taking precautions, potentially leading to a rise in infections. But with some now refusing the vaccine in the belief it will not stop them passing on the virus, is this caution becoming counterproductive? A number of people have contacted the BBC, saying they believe the jab could stop them becoming severely ill only.
T cells induced by COVID-19 infection respond to new virus variants: U.S. study
A critical component of the immune system known as T cells that respond to fight infection from the original version of the novel coronavirus appear to also protect against three of the most concerning new virus variants, according to a U.S. laboratory study released on Tuesday. Several recent studies have shown that certain variants of the novel coronavirus can undermine immune protection from antibodies and vaccines. But antibodies - which block the coronavirus from attaching to human cells - may not tell the whole story, according to the study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). T cells appear to play an important additionally protective role. “Our data, as well as the results from other groups, shows that the T cell response to COVID-19 in individuals infected with the initial viral variants appears to fully recognize the major new variants identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil,” said Andrew Redd of the NIAID and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study.
Covid: Half of UK has antibodies from vaccination or infection
Roughly half of people in the UK now have antibodies against Covid, either through infection or vaccination, tests conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. Most of this will be through vaccination - with 30 million people having received at least one dose. Antibodies are proteins in the blood which recognise specific infections and fight them off. Among the oldest who are most at risk, levels are even higher. But there has been a small decline in detectable antibodies in that group since the peak of infections in January.
No rare blood clots in first 440,000 people vaccinated for coronavirus in Wales
No cases of a blood clotting disorder have been found in the first 440,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19 in Wales. Scientists in Swansea University looked at anonymised patient data between January 1, 2019 and January 31, 2021 to determine whether there had been a rise in cases of venous sinus thromboembolism. The extremely rare condition was found in a small number of patients in Norway and Germany and was one of the reasons why several European countries decided to temporarily halt the use of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. However the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said there has been no confirmation the reports of blood clots were caused by the vaccine.
Scientists warn new COVID mutations in a year as vaccines stall
Scientists warn new COVID mutations in a year as vaccines stall
Leading health experts from around the world warned the slow roll-out of vaccines and unequal distribution could mean the shots become ineffective as new coronavirus mutations appear within the next year. Seventy-seven scientists – from leading academic institutions from around the globe – participated in the survey with about 30 percent suggesting second-generation vaccines will be needed as soon as in nine months, unless vaccines become more widely produced and distributed around the world.
Celebrities urge Black Britons to take COVID vaccine
Celebrities urge Black Britons to take COVID vaccine
A group of celebrities is urging Black Britons to take a COVID-19 vaccine as concerns mount over a lag in uptake rates. Figures published on Monday by the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that more than 90 percent of people over the age of 70 nationwide had received their first dose of vaccine as of March 11.
Sir Lenny Henry has written an open letter urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine
Film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton, author Malorie Blackman and radio DJ Trevor Nelson are among the signatories of an open letter written by Sir Lenny Henry urging black Britons to take the Covid-19 vaccine. In the letter, actor and comedian Sir Lenny acknowledged the "legitimate worries and concerns" that people feel, adding: "We know change needs to happen and that it's hard to trust some institutions and authorities." He said: "But we're asking you to trust the facts about the vaccine from our own professors, doctors, scientists involved in the vaccine's development, GPs, not just in the UK but across the world including the Caribbean and Africa.
Coronavirus: Brazil's Covid death rate TRIPLED among people in their 20s in February
Coronavirus: Brazil's Covid death rate TRIPLED among people in their 20s in February
Study could not definitely link the rising death rate to the new variant emerging. Brazilian hospitals have been overloaded in February and March, possibly adding to risk. Deaths have also approximately doubled in people in their 30s, 40s and 50s Brazil has had one of the worst Covid outbreaks in the world, after the U.S.
Berlin state hospitals stop giving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to women under 55
Berlin state hospitals stop giving AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to women under 55
Berlin has stopped giving people under the age of 60 the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as a “precautionary measure”. It comes after the country's medical regulator announced 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine. Nine of the people died. All but two of the cases involved women aged 20 to 63, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, Germany's medical regulator, said. Several European countries stopped using the Anglo-Swedish firm's vaccine while investigating links with blood clots earlier this month.
Berlin suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for below-60s
The German state of Berlin is again suspending the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for people below 60 over reports of blood clots. Berlin’s top health official, Dilek Kalayci, said on Tuesday that the decision was taken as a precaution before a meeting of representatives from all of Germany’s 16 states after the country’s medical regulator reported 31 cases of rare blood clots in people who had recently received the vaccine. Of them, nine people died.
Covid-19: 'Background fear' fewer young people will take vaccine
Covid-19: 'Background fear' fewer young people will take vaccine
There is a "background fear" uptake of a Covid-19 vaccine will reduce as the roll out moves to younger age groups, a leading GP has said. Various factors such as social media and rumours could influence people, according to the chairman of Northern Ireland's GP committee. However, Dr Alan Stout said there hadn't been a huge amount of vaccine hesitancy so far in Northern Ireland. "The numbers have been massively impressive," he said. Young men tended to be the hardest group to get "for any sort of healthcare intervention", added Dr Stout, with this trend likely to continue when it came to the coronavirus vaccine.
Covid: 'Madness' as hundreds descend on Nottingham park
Police have warned people to stick to coronavirus rules after large crowds were seen brawling and drinking in a city park on the day restrictions eased. Videos shared on social media showed some hugging and others pushing and shoving at Nottingham Arboretum. One local resident described the scenes on Monday as "horrendous". Police said they had now put a dispersal order in place to prevent similar scenes over the next few days. Since Monday morning, two households or groups of up to six people have been allowed to meet outside in England.
Covid: Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab
Covid: Secret filming exposes contamination risk at test results lab
Secret filming at one of the biggest UK Covid testing labs has found evidence of potential contamination, discarded tests and pressure to hit targets. A BBC reporter working as a lab technician, filmed staff cutting corners and processing samples in a way that could cause contamination. This means some people who had taken a test via NHS Test and Trace may have received no result or a wrong result. The lab said it had followed all necessary rules and regulations. Evidence at the lab captured on film shows: Checks to ensure samples could be identified, were rushed, meaning tests were sometimes discarded unnecessarily. Some test samples "glooped" across an area where other samples had been placed, risking contamination. Swabs used by people to take Covid tests were left in their tubes when processed, presenting a further contamination risk. A quality control scientist telling the reporter that the quality of the results progressively got worse throughout the day. The findings have led experts to question the way the lab was operating.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 13th Oct 2021

One Minute Overview

Bangladesh plans to vaccinate 80 mn people against Covid by next January - Bangladesh aims to administer Covid-19 vaccines to nearly half of its population by next January. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the Bangladeshi government is working to vaccinate 80 million people by December and January, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Bangladesh's state-run news agency BSS. The minister said the government is considering vaccinating children aged between 12 and 17 years. Bangladesh has already announced a target of vaccinating 80 per cent of its population by 2022. The South Asian country has so far got nearly 70 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Moderna's search for African vaccine manufacture site set to intensify - chairman - Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa could be potential locations for Moderna's planned vaccine factory in Africa, the U.S. drugmaker's co-founder and chairman said as it steps up its search for a site on the continent. Moderna said last week it would build a plant in Africa to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines a year, including its COVID-19 shot, as pressure grows on pharmaceutical companies to manufacture drugs in lower-income countries.

Covid: UK's early response worst public health failure ever, MPs say - The UK's failure to do more to stop Covid spreading early in the pandemic was one of the country's worst public health failures, a report by MPs says. The government approach - backed by its scientists - was to try to manage the situation and in effect achieve herd immunity by infection, it said. This led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, costing thousands of lives, the MPs found. But their report highlighted successes too, including the vaccination rollout. It described the approach to vaccination - from the research and development through to the rollout of the jabs - as 'one of the most effective initiatives in UK history'.

Covid Spread Was 8% Lower In Democrat-Led States Than GOP Because Of Stricter Restrictions, Study Finds - The peer-reviewed study, led by researchers at Binghamton University, determined a Public Health Protective Policy Index (PPI) that measured the “stringency” of states’ public health policies and analyzed those findings in relation to states’ Covid-19 transmission and the governors’ partisan affiliation. The researchers looked at Covid-19 rates and policies between March and November 2020, as well as when specific states’ Covid-19 cases peaked. Democratic-led states had a PPI that was approximately 10 points higher on average than states with GOP governors, though the study notes some Republican-led states like Maryland, Vermont and Massachusetts had stricter measures that were closer to the Democratic states.

COVID-19: 'A slap in the face' - Families of pandemic victims attack MPs' report and call for judge-led inquiry - Families of COVID-19 victims have attacked an MPs' report into government failings during the pandemic as 'laughable' and a 'slap in the face' - and say a judicial inquiry is needed to get to the truth. The report said decisions on lockdowns and social distancing early in the pandemic were 'one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced' and cost thousands of lives. It said 'groupthink' among officials meant chances to delay the spread of the virus were missed, and it was a 'serious early error' not to lock down sooner.

COVID-19 curbs in Sydney could ease early amid surge in vaccinations - New South Wales could ease more restrictions in Sydney a week earlier than planned on Oct. 18 as Australia's most populous state races towards its 80% double-dose vaccination target, the government said on Wednesday. The southeastern state is expected to hit the mark over the weekend, beating forecasts, and officials previously promised to relax further restrictions on vaccinated residents on the first Monday after reaching that milestone. 'If we hit 80%, we've always said it will be the Monday following,' state Premier Dominic Perrottet told ABC Radio. 'We will have this discussion with our team on Thursday and we will make a decision to be announced on Friday.'

Covid Has Killed Hundreds of Police Officers. Many Still Resist Vaccines - Over the last year and a half, a majority of the roughly 40 police officers who patrol Baker, La., a suburb of Baton Rouge, tested positive for the coronavirus. All of them recovered and went back to work — until Lt. DeMarcus Dunn got sick. Lieutenant Dunn, a 36-year-old shift supervisor who coached youth sports and once chased down someone who fled the police station after being arrested, died from Covid-19 on Aug. 13. His wedding had been scheduled for the next day.

Covid-19: Ethnic minority deaths were ‘unacceptably high’ during pandemic, MPs say - A damning report from MPs has slammed the “unacceptably high” death rates among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. The study, from the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said serious errors and delays, including on testing, care homes and the timing of the first lockdown, have cost lives during the virus outbreak. The pandemic exacerbated existing social, economic and health inequalities among ethnic minority communities, the MPs said.

Brazil's Bolsonaro says he is 'bored' by questions on COVID-19 deaths - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that he did not want to be 'bored' with questions about the milestone of 600,000 COVID-19 deaths that Latin America's biggest country passed a few days ago. Bolsonaro's poll numbers have fallen due to his handling of the pandemic, rising inflation and a weak economy. Brazil has the world's second highest COVID-19 death toll after the United States, and Bolsonaro has long sought to minimize the impact of the virus, touting unproven cures and railing against lockdowns.

Covid study linking vaccines to rare side effect of myocarditis was wrong, researchers admit - A research study that linked a very rare side effect to the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines has been withdrawn by researchers after they made a major mathematical error. The Canadian study attracted headlines after it suggested there was a 1 in 1,000 risk of people developing myocarditis or inflammation of the heart after receiving the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. But the paper’s conclusions were wrong, and the calculation flawed. The numbers used by the researchers, from the Ottawa Heart Institute, underestimated the amount of vaccines delivered in Ottawa over a two-month period with the result being 25 times smaller than the true figure. They had initially based their estimate on a total of 32,379 vaccines doses and 32 cases of myocarditis, when in reality more than 854,000 doses had been given between June 1 to July 31. The study’s findings have been used by anti-vaccination websites and social media accounts in Britain, the United States and Canada.

Merck aims to double supply of Covid-19 antiviral pill on rising demand - Merck plans to double manufacturing capacity for its antiviral pill to treat Covid-19 next year as governments scramble to procure a treatment that a late-stage trial showed cuts hospital admission and death rates in half. The mounting demand for Merck’s drug, the first oral treatment shown to prevent severe disease in vulnerable people with coronavirus, is a sign that it could trigger the same kind of worldwide rush faced by makers of early Covid-19 vaccines. Merck, which this week asked US regulators to authorise use of the drug called molnupiravir, told the Financial Times it had secured deals with Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and South Korea to supply doses in the past week and is in talks with several other governments.

Moderna Argues to FDA for Half-Dose of Vaccine as Booster - In documents released Tuesday morning, Moderna argued that the Food and Drug Administration should authorize a half-dose of its coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot for recipients at least six months after the second dose, citing evidence that the vaccine’s potency against infection wanes over time. The agency noted in its own analysis that, overall, available data show Moderna and the other vaccines “still afford protection against severe Covid-19 disease and death in the United States.” Moderna cited the rate of breakthrough infections, “real world evidence of reduced effectiveness against the Delta variant,” and falling levels of neutralizing antibodies from its vaccine six to eight months after a second dose. The company said its clinical trial studies showed that a third injection boosted antibody levels — one measure of the immune system’s response — higher than what they had been before the second dose.

COVID-19: 'Surges of illness' for 'months and perhaps even years to come', WHO expert warns - 'Surges of illness' caused by COVID-19 are going to continue for 'months and perhaps even years to come', the World Health Organization's (WHO) special envoy for the disease has warned. Speaking to Kay Burley, Dr David Nabarro said 'the pandemic is very much with us all over the world right now', and those who have not been vaccinated will be particularly affected by spikes in illness. With government data showing the UK is recording more than 30,000 COVID-19 cases a day, Dr Nabarro warned that the 'virus has not gone away' and is 'continuing to mutate'. 'It's capable probably of causing all sorts of future problems', he said. He appeared on Sky News following the release of a highly critical report by MPs that found thousands of lives have been lost due to delays and mistakes by both government ministers and scientific advisers.

Lockdown Exit
Australians Planning to Get Covid Vaccine More Optimistic: Westpac
Australian consumers who intend to get vaccinated are far more optimistic than those who don’t intend to have a jab, Westpac Banking Corp.’s October household sentiment survey showed. Respondents who are not vaccinated but intend to be recorded an index reading of 122 points, while those who aren’t vaccinated and don’t intend to be posted a reading of 84.8, Westpac’s monthly survey showed Wednesday. The overall consumer sentiment index slid 1.5% from last month to 104.6. “The confidence level of those not intending to get vaccinated has also fallen quite sharply in the last month,” said Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac. “Encouragingly, the size of this group has fallen as well, accounting for only 6% of respondents in the October survey compared to 9% in September and just under 20% at the start of the year.”
Covid: UK's early response worst public health failure ever, MPs say
The UK's failure to do more to stop Covid spreading early in the pandemic was one of the country's worst public health failures, a report by MPs says. The government approach - backed by its scientists - was to try to manage the situation and in effect achieve herd immunity by infection, it said. This led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, costing thousands of lives, the MPs found. But their report highlighted successes too, including the vaccination rollout. It described the approach to vaccination - from the research and development through to the rollout of the jabs - as "one of the most effective initiatives in UK history".
EU may consider deal on Merck's COVID pill after approval procedure begins -source
The European Union may consider signing a supply deal with U.S. drugmaker Merck for its experimental COVID-19 pill, but only after the company starts the process of seeking approval for the drug in the bloc, a senior EU official said on Tuesday. The oral antiviral treatment molnupiravir has been developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
Moderna's search for African site set to intensify - chairman
Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa could be potential locations for Moderna's planned vaccine factory in Africa, the U.S. drugmaker's co-founder and chairman said as it steps up its search for a site on the continent. Moderna said last week it would build a plant in Africa to produce up to 500 million doses of vaccines a year, including its COVID-19 shot, as pressure grows on pharmaceutical companies to manufacture drugs in lower-income countries.
Covid Spread Was 8% Lower In Democrat-Led States Than GOP Because Of Stricter Restrictions, Study Finds
The peer-reviewed study, led by researchers at Binghamton University, determined a Public Health Protective Policy Index (PPI) that measured the “stringency” of states’ public health policies and analyzed those findings in relation to states’ Covid-19 transmission and the governors’ partisan affiliation. The researchers looked at Covid-19 rates and policies between March and November 2020, as well as when specific states’ Covid-19 cases peaked. Democratic-led states had a PPI that was approximately 10 points higher on average than states with GOP governors, though the study notes some Republican-led states like Maryland, Vermont and Massachusetts had stricter measures that were closer to the Democratic states.
Thailand to reopen for some vaccinated tourists from November
Thailand plans to fully re-open to vaccinated tourists from countries deemed low risk from 1 November, the country’s leader said, citing the urgent need to save the kingdom’s ailing economy. Before the pandemic, Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and robust nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20% of its national income. But Covid-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years.
COVID-19: Thailand reopens to vaccinated UK travellers, as visiting dozens of destinations now easier after red list cut to just seven countries
Thailand will end quarantine for fully vaccinated UK travellers, as British COVID advice has been relaxed making it easier to visit almost 90 countries. Forty-seven nations were taken off the red list at 4am, meaning anyone arriving from places including South Africa, Brazil and Argentina no longer need to quarantine in a hotel.
Covid and Age
Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University who frequently writes about parenting, published an article in The Atlantic in March that made a lot of people angry. The headline was, “Your Unvaccinated Kid Is Like a Vaccinated Grandma.” The article argued that Covid-19 tended to be so mild in children that vaccinated parents could feel comfortable going out in the world with their unvaccinated children.
COVID-19 curbs in Sydney could ease early amid surge in vaccinations
New South Wales could ease more restrictions in Sydney a week earlier than planned on Oct. 18 as Australia's most populous state races towards its 80% double-dose vaccination target, the government said on Wednesday. The southeastern state is expected to hit the mark over the weekend, beating forecasts, and officials previously promised to relax further restrictions on vaccinated residents on the first Monday after reaching that milestone. "If we hit 80%, we've always said it will be the Monday following," state Premier Dominic Perrottet told ABC Radio. "We will have this discussion with our team on Thursday and we will make a decision to be announced on Friday."
COVID-19: 'A slap in the face' - Families of pandemic victims attack MPs' report and call for judge-led inquiry
Families of COVID-19 victims have attacked an MPs' report into government failings during the pandemic as "laughable" and a "slap in the face" - and say a judicial inquiry is needed to get to the truth. The report said decisions on lockdowns and social distancing early in the pandemic were "one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced" and cost thousands of lives. It said "groupthink" among officials meant chances to delay the spread of the virus were missed, and it was a "serious early error" not to lock down sooner.
Exit Strategies
COVID-19 pandemic not in 'rear view mirror' for hospitality sector, pubs boss warns PM
COVID-19 is not in the "rear view mirror" for Britain's hospitality sector and it still has symptoms that are "very real", a leading pubs boss has told Sky News. Clive Chesser, chief executive of Punch Pubs, spoke about the challenges facing the sector at a discussion on the UK's recovery with leaders from across the economy at Sky's Big Ideas Live event. Mr Chesser said the "celebratory" tone of the prime minister's speech to the Conservative Party conference last week did not match the reality facing hospitality businesses.
S.Korea to donate 1.1 mln doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam, 470,000 doses to Thailand
South Korea will donate 1.1 mln doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam and 470,000 doses to Thailand, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said on Tuesday. The donations come as South Korea has administered nearly 80% of its 52 million population with at least one dose of a vaccine, KDCA said
WA's health sector vaccine mandate puts pressure on overstretched bush hospitals
Almost two weeks after Western Australia's health sector vaccine mandate took effect, just a small number of staff losses is increasing pressure on struggling hospital wards and fanning tension between burnt-out workers. Health authorities have confirmed frontline staff have been removed from rosters for refusing to have at least one dose since the rules came into force at the start of the month. The nurses union, which supports the mandate, has accused health bureaucrats of not preparing for the inevitable loss of staff at a time when hospitals in WA's remote north are already being pushed to the brink due to a nurse shortage.
Bangladesh plans to vaccinate 80 mn people against Covid by next January
Bangladesh aims to administer Covid-19 vaccines to nearly half of its population by next January. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the Bangladeshi government is working to vaccinate 80 million people by December and January, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the Bangladesh's state-run news agency BSS. The minister said the government is considering vaccinating children aged between 12 and 17 years. Bangladesh has already announced a target of vaccinating 80 per cent of its population by 2022. The South Asian country has so far got nearly 70 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans COVID-19 vaccine mandates by private businesses
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to prohibit any entity, including private business, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers and called on state lawmakers to pass a similar ban into law. The move comes as the Biden administration is set to issue rules requiring employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or test weekly for the coronavirus. Several major companies, including Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have said they would abide by the federal mandate.
Covid-19 Australia: Chief Minister Andrew Barr confirms ACT will lift its lockdown this week
The ACT is set to end its harsh lockdown restrictions by the end of the week, Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed. The territory's leader announced Canberra will officially emerge from lockdown at 11.59pm on Thursday as the state increases its vaccination coverage. 'Case numbers are expected to increase as restrictions are eased, but being fully vaccinated provides you with protection,' he said.
Japan working on starting COVID-19 booster shots by year-end
The Japanese government is working on starting COVID-19 booster shots by year-end, deputy chief cabinet secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said at a news conference on Tuesday. Isozaki added that details such as who would get booster shots first and how they would be administered are currently under discussion by experts. "We would like to ensure that the roll-out of the booster shots is done seamlessly, based on the advice of experts," he said.
COVID-19: Parents of secondary school and college students urged to ensure their children test regularly and get vaccinated
The education secretary and health secretary have written to parents of secondary school and college students, urging them to ensure their children are testing regularly and also encouraging them to get vaccinated against coronavirus. The letter from Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid comes after official estimates showed that around 270,000 secondary pupils had COVID-19 in the week to 2 October.
New Zealand seeks to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations amid persistent cases
New Zealand expects to administer a record 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in a single day during a mass immunisation drive on Oct. 16, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, as she seeks to accelerate inoculations before easing curbs in Auckland. Ardern on Tuesday urged the country's population over 12 years of age "to roll up sleeves for New Zealand and help make us (one of) the most vaccinated and therefore protected countries in the world". Some 2.44 million, or 58% of the population over 12, have been fully vaccinated so far.
Covid-19 vaccine mandates work, Dr. Anthony Fauci says
The nation's top infectious disease expert says vaccine mandates work and they'll help get more people vaccinated against Covid-19. About a quarter of the eligible US population remains unvaccinated against coronavirus and the rate of people getting booster shots is now outpacing the rate of people getting their first doses. Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Monday that the federal government is trying to persuade people to get vaccinated on their own, but some may need to be required. "We've obviously been trying very hard," Fauci said. "We try to get trusted messengers out there and try and get this away from being an ideological or political statement, get back into the realm of pure public health, and try to convince people."
Get vaccinated if you want to play Australian Open, minister tells players
Tennis players planning to compete in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park should get vaccinated for COVID-19 to give themselves the best chance of playing the Grand Slam, an Australian government official has said. Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, has introduced a vaccine mandate for all professional athletes but authorities have yet to clarify whether athletes from overseas or other Australian states must also vaccinate.
Back to school: How are pupils being kept Covid-safe?
Face coverings are no longer compulsory in schools in England or Wales, although they are recommended in crowded spaces like school buses. However head teachers and health officials can ask staff and pupils to wear masks on school premises in response to local circumstances. Schools in Trafford, Cambridgeshire and West Yorkshire have already reintroduced face coverings. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi confirmed that mask-wearing in all English schools could be made compulsory again under the government's winter contingency "Plan B".
Partisan Exits
Texas Governor Bans Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates for Employees
Texas businesses and other private entities are now banned from requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for employees, Gov. Greg Abbott said in an executive order issued Monday. Mr. Abbott, a Republican, said he was adding the issue to the agenda for the current special session of the Texas Legislature and would rescind his order if lawmakers passed a similar ban into law. “The Covid-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Mr. Abbott said in a news release Monday. Until now, elected officials in Texas have banned governmental entities from requiring vaccines and have banned places of public accommodation from requiring vaccines of their customers, but have allowed private businesses to determine whether to require vaccinations of their staff.
Covid Has Killed Hundreds of Police Officers. Many Still Resist Vaccines.
Over the last year and a half, a majority of the roughly 40 police officers who patrol Baker, La., a suburb of Baton Rouge, tested positive for the coronavirus. All of them recovered and went back to work — until Lt. DeMarcus Dunn got sick. Lieutenant Dunn, a 36-year-old shift supervisor who coached youth sports and once chased down someone who fled the police station after being arrested, died from Covid-19 on Aug. 13. His wedding had been scheduled for the next day.
Brazil's Bolsonaro says he is 'bored' by questions on COVID-19 deaths
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that he did not want to be "bored" with questions about the milestone of 600,000 COVID-19 deaths that Latin America's biggest country passed a few days ago. Bolsonaro's poll numbers have fallen due to his handling of the pandemic, rising inflation and a weak economy. Brazil has the world's second highest COVID-19 death toll after the United States, and Bolsonaro has long sought to minimize the impact of the virus, touting unproven cures and railing against lockdowns.
Schools are new battleground in war of disinformation over Covid-19 vaccines
The rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations to schoolchildren in the United Kingdom has opened up a new front in the disinformation war: anti-vax campaigners are now taking their protests to the school gates. Groups opposed to vaccination have sought to stoke the fears of parents and children by falsely claiming that the vaccines are untested and dangerous. Last week, a small group of protesters demonstrated outside St. Thomas More Catholic School in the town of Blaydon, near Newcastle in northeastern England, as children entered the school gates.
COVID-19: Reaction to highly critical COVID report, as Cummings brands prime minister and Labour leader 'jokes'
The prime minister's former adviser, Dominic Cummings, has branded both Boris Johnson and the Labour leader as "jokes" in the wake of the highly critical report into the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His remarks were made following the publication of the MPs' report which said thousands of lives were lost due to delays and mistakes by both ministers and their scientific advisers as coronavirus began to spread. The report published by the health and social care committee and the science and technology committee, titled Coronavirus: Lessons learned to date, covers a variety of successes and failings across 150 pages.
Demand for Holyrood inquiry on Covid-19 handling after damning MP report
The call comes after the publication of a report by Westminster MPs labelled the UK Government’s early response to the pandemic “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”. The report, from the cross-party joint committee of the health and social care and science and technology committees, concluded that there was an element of “groupthink” around the UK Government’s approach to herd immunity.
Covid-19: Ethnic minority deaths were ‘unacceptably high’ during pandemic, MPs say
A damning report from MPs has slammed the “unacceptably high” death rates among people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities that occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. The study, from the cross-party Science and Technology Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee, said serious errors and delays, including on testing, care homes and the timing of the first lockdown, have cost lives during the virus outbreak. The pandemic exacerbated existing social, economic and health inequalities among ethnic minority communities, the MPs said.
COVID-19: Minister refuses to apologise for government's pandemic handling as report says errors 'cost thousands of lives'
A minister has refused to apologise 11 times for the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, after a highly-critical report by MPs said thousands of lives were lost due to delays and mistakes by both ministers and their scientific advisers. "We followed, throughout, the scientific advice. We got the vaccine deployed extremely quickly, we protected our NHS from the surge of cases," Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay told Sky News' Kay Burley when she asked if the government would apologise.
Naive and arrogant: the UK’s response to Covid-19 cost countless lives
The joint report issued today is a stark and largely damning appraisal of the UK’s Covid response. The report asks why, despite being ranked alongside the US as best prepared for a future pandemic, the UK was among those countries worst affected by Covid during 2020. While it avoids directly apportioning blame, this document will doubtless inform the long-awaited public inquiry. Dr Michael Ryan from the World Health Organisation wisely said at the very start of the pandemic: “Be fast, have no regrets […] the greatest error is not to move.” This evokes the “precautionary principle” – ie assume the worst case scenario and hope to be proven wrong. Indeed, where the UK has succeeded, this principle is in evidence. Funding for vaccine research in 2016 led directly to the rapid development of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine, while the Vaccines Task Force successfully secured the national supply, which was ably distributed by the army and public volunteers.
British government waited too long to implement COVID-19 lockdown, parliamentary report concludes
The British government waited too long to impose a lockdown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, missing a chance to contain the disease and leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths, a parliamentary report has concluded. The deadly delay resulted from ministers' failure to question the recommendations of scientific advisers, resulting in a dangerous level of "groupthink" that caused them to dismiss the more aggressive strategies adopted in East and South-East Asia, the joint report from the House of Commons science and health committees concluded on Tuesday.
Report says UK’s slow virus lockdown cost 1000s of lives
Britain’s failure to impose a lockdown in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic cost thousands of unnecessary deaths and ranks among the country’s worst public health blunders, lawmakers concluded Tuesday in the nation’s first comprehensive report on the pandemic. The deadly delay derived from the failure of British government ministers to question the recommendations of scientific advisers, resulting in a dangerous level of “groupthink” that caused them to dismiss the more aggressive strategies adopted in East and Southeast Asia to limit infections, the report said.
UK's 'policy approach of fatalism' early in pandemic was major error, lawmakers say
The delay to England's first coronavirus lockdown was a serious error based on groupthink that went unchallenged, lawmakers said in a report published on Tuesday, adding that failures in testing positive cases and tracing their contacts exacerbated the crisis. Parliament's health and science committees have jointly published a 150-page report on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic after hours of testimony from more than 50 witnesses, include government policy, health and science advisers.
Scientific Viewpoint
FDA Staff Don’t Take Position on Moderna Covid-19 Booster
Food and Drug Administration staffers didn’t take a firm stance on Moderna Inc.’s application for a booster dose, indicating there may not be sufficient data to support the extra dose. FDA staff, after reviewing a drugmaker’s application, often weigh whether it should be given a go-ahead. But they also didn’t take a position on Pfizer Inc.’s booster request, later granted. FDA staff reviews are part of the normal process before the agency makes a decision whether to clear a product. In documents made public Tuesday, FDA staff simply restated Moderna’s request and analyzed Moderna’s study data. The extra dose of Moderna’s vaccine appeared to be safe and work well, but the staff said its benefit would depend on how much the protection from the primary series has waned.
Moderna Argues to FDA for Half-Dose of Vaccine as Booster
In documents released Tuesday morning, Moderna argued that the Food and Drug Administration should authorize a half-dose of its coronavirus vaccine as a booster shot for recipients at least six months after the second dose, citing evidence that the vaccine’s potency against infection wanes over time. The agency noted in its own analysis that, overall, available data show Moderna and the other vaccines “still afford protection against severe Covid-19 disease and death in the United States.” Moderna cited the rate of breakthrough infections, “real world evidence of reduced effectiveness against the Delta variant,” and falling levels of neutralizing antibodies from its vaccine six to eight months after a second dose. The company said its clinical trial studies showed that a third injection boosted antibody levels — one measure of the immune system’s response — higher than what they had been before the second dose.
Rapid Covid Tests Can Beat Pandemic: Harvard's Michael Mina
The 37-year-old epidemiologist, immunologist, and physician says it didn’t have to be this way: Workplaces, schools, event spaces, and more that have been desolate for better than a year could have stayed open—and safely—with a technology that’s been here all along. Mina has been an early and tireless champion of inexpensive, do-it-yourself SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests that can return a positive or negative result in about 15 minutes, arguing for their wider deployment in op-ed articles, on Twitter, and in conversations with health authorities.
CureVac drops COVID-19 vaccine, pins hope on next-generation shots
CureVac NV said on Tuesday it will give up on its first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate and instead focus on collaborating with GSK to develop improved mRNA vaccine technology. The German biotechnology company's shares were off about 8% after earlier plunging as much as 13%, hitting their lowest since going public in August last year. CureVac said it would abandon its application for approval from the European Medicines Agency for its first COVID-19 vaccine candidate, CVnCoV, after late-stage trials delivered disappointing results in June with 47% efficacy.
Moderna, J&J push for COVID-19 vaccine boosters ahead of FDA meeting
Scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that Moderna Inc had not met all of the agency's criteria to support use of booster doses of its COVID-19 vaccine, possibly because the efficacy of the shot's first two doses has remained strong. FDA staff said in documents that data for Moderna's vaccine showed that a booster does increase protective antibodies, but the difference in antibody levels before and after the shot was not wide enough, particularly in those whose levels had remained high.
Covid study linking vaccines to rare side effect of myocarditis was wrong, researchers admit
A research study that linked a very rare side effect to the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines has been withdrawn by researchers after they made a major mathematical error. The Canadian study attracted headlines after it suggested there was a 1 in 1,000 risk of people developing myocarditis or inflammation of the heart after receiving the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. But the paper’s conclusions were wrong, and the calculation flawed. The numbers used by the researchers, from the Ottawa Heart Institute, underestimated the amount of vaccines delivered in Ottawa over a two-month period with the result being 25 times smaller than the true figure. They had initially based their estimate on a total of 32,379 vaccines doses and 32 cases of myocarditis, when in reality more than 854,000 doses had been given between June 1 to July 31. The study’s findings have been used by anti-vaccination websites and social media accounts in Britain, the United States and Canada.
AZ’s long-acting antibody combo shows benefit in COVID-19 trial
AstraZeneca has announced positive results from a Phase III trial evaluating its long-acting antibody (LAAB) combination AZD7442 in non-hospitalised patients with mild-to-moderate symptomatic COVID-19. In the Phase III TACKLE trial, a total of 90% of participants enrolled were from populations with a high-risk of progressing to severe COVID-19, including individuals with co-morbidities. The late-stage trial hit its primary endpoint, with AZD7442 600 mg given by intramuscular injections (IM) reducing the risk of developing severe COVID-19 or death from any cause by 50% compared to placebo in outpatients who had been symptomatic for seven days or less.
AstraZeneca's long-acting antibody combination treats and prevents COVID-19
Positive high-level results from the TACKLE Phase III COVID-19 treatment trial have shown that AstraZeneca’s AZD7442, a long-acting antibody (LAAB) combination, achieved a statistically significant reduction in severe COVID-19 or death compared to placebo in non-hospitalised patients with mild-to-moderate symptomatic COVID-19. On 5 October 2021, the company announced that it had submitted a request to the US Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorisation for AZD7442 for prophylaxis of COVID-19. A total of 90% of participants enrolled were from populations at high risk of progression to severe COVID-19, including those with co-morbidities.
Merck aims to double supply of Covid-19 antiviral pill on rising demand
Merck plans to double manufacturing capacity for its antiviral pill to treat Covid-19 next year as governments scramble to procure a treatment that a late-stage trial showed cuts hospital admission and death rates in half. The mounting demand for Merck’s drug, the first oral treatment shown to prevent severe disease in vulnerable people with coronavirus, is a sign that it could trigger the same kind of worldwide rush faced by makers of early Covid-19 vaccines. Merck, which this week asked US regulators to authorise use of the drug called molnupiravir, told the Financial Times it had secured deals with Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and South Korea to supply doses in the past week and is in talks with several other governments.
A primer on what we know about mixing and matching Covid vaccines
Later this week an expert committee that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hear about the results of a clinical trial that could influence how Covid vaccines are used in this country at some point in the future. The trial, conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a so-called mix-and-match trial, testing the Covid vaccines authorized in the U.S. in combinations with each other. The goal of the trial was to see whether using a different vaccine as a booster shot improves protection. So does getting a dose of Pfizer vaccine after getting a single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine trigger production of more antibodies than a second dose of the J&J would? Are the messenger RNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna virtually interchangeable, or does switching even there produce a broader set of immune responses?
COVID infects all ages in family equally, but immunity plays a role
Two new studies explore the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission among household members, one finding that children and adults are at similar risk and one showing that COVID-19–naïve family members' risk was 45% to 97% lower, depending on the number of members immune through infection or full vaccination.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Sydney COVID-19 cases ease further as focus shifts to reviving economy
Sydney's COVID-19 cases fell to the lowest in two months on Tuesday as authorities rolled out support measures for businesses, shifting their focus to rejuvenating the economy after the city exited a nearly four-month lockdown a day earlier. Pubs, cafes and retail stores reopened in New South Wales (NSW), home to Sydney, on Monday after vaccination levels in the state's adult population crossed 70%. New daily infections in the state fell to 360 on Tuesday, the majority in Sydney, marking a steady downward trend.
COVID-19: 'Surges of illness' for 'months and perhaps even years to come', WHO expert warns
"Surges of illness" caused by COVID-19 are going to continue for "months and perhaps even years to come", the World Health Organization's (WHO) special envoy for the disease has warned. Speaking to Kay Burley, Dr David Nabarro said "the pandemic is very much with us all over the world right now", and those who have not been vaccinated will be particularly affected by spikes in illness. With government data showing the UK is recording more than 30,000 COVID-19 cases a day, Dr Nabarro warned that the "virus has not gone away" and is "continuing to mutate". "It's capable probably of causing all sorts of future problems", he said. He appeared on Sky News following the release of a highly critical report by MPs that found thousands of lives have been lost due to delays and mistakes by both government ministers and scientific advisers.
California coronavirus death count tops 70,000 as cases fall
California’s coronavirus death toll reached another once-unfathomable milestone — 70,000 people — on Monday as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states. Last year at this time, cases in the state started ticking up and by January California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic and was the nation’s epicenter for the virus. Daily deaths approached 700. The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low 100s. Data collected by Johns Hopkins University showed the state with 70,132 deaths by midday Monday. It’s the most in the nation, surpassing Texas by about 3,000 and Florida by 13,000, although California’s per capita fatality rate of 177 per 100,000 people is well below the overall U.S. rate of 214.

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 11th May 2020

News Highlights

Governments around the world are opting to accept the risks of easing pandemic-fighting restrictions in order to restart economies that have ground to a near halt. A huge number of people have been left without income or a saftey net, especially in countries in South Asia, where daily wage earners form a significant chunk of the workforce.

However, some countries that eased lockdown restrictions have seen an almost immediate spike in cases. Germany eased lockdown restrictions just days ago, and coronavirus cases jumped, with the reproduction rate for the virus - the estimated number of people a confirmed patient infects - now stands above 1. In South Korea, officials are searching for thousands of people who may have been infected in a cluster of cases linked to nightclubs and bars in the densely populated capital city of Seoul. In China, fresh cases were reported in the cities of Shulan and Wuhan, the city where the virus began at the end of last year. And Pakistan, which has just begun easing restrictions, saw a jump of 1,637 cases and 24 fatalities.

Italy, the first European nation to enter lockdown, is opening up slowly, but things are far from normal. Social distancing regulations allow bars and restaurants to only offer takeaway. Cafes are experiencing far less demand than usual for pastries and coffee, because patrons have to consume their items on the street, and not at the counter as they are used to. This is the 'new normal' that businesses and customers around the world will have to get used to.

Lockdown Exit
Italy, the first country in Europe to enter lockdown, starts to emerge
Magda vergari, co-owner of the Bar La Lastra in the hills above Florence, used to sell 80 to 100 pastries a day. “Now, I’m ordering 20,” she says gloomily. Despite an easing of Italy’s strict covid-19 lockdown on May 4th, her sales of coffee are also running at a quarter of the normal level. The problem is that customers are not allowed to enjoy their breakfast cappuccino and brioche at the counter. The new rules preserve social distancing, and only allow bars and restaurants to offer takeaways. Ms Vergari’s regulars must consume their purchases in the street outside
South Australia takes first steps toward opening up
The resumption of local sport and travel within South Australia are two of the state's top priorities. "We've got one shot to get this right, so there will be a sensible, logical easing of restrictions," Premier Steven Marshall said. But as the state opens up, it could still close down further to outsiders, with Police Commissioner Grant Stevens looking at toughening border restrictions even further.
No, Sweden isn't a miracle coronavirus model
We do know that Sweden’s COVID-19 journey hasn’t been exceptional. Like other countries, it has experienced a surge in deaths in care homes, where about one in three virus deaths are estimated to have taken place. Visiting relatives and staff are expected to "self-regulate” but, according to reports, they don’t always do so. The Swedes have also had a lack of systematic testing and equipment shortages. Things might have been even worse without the Swedes’ demographic and cultural defenses. This is a population that does social distancing already in many ways. More than half of the country lives in single-person households, working from home is common and access to fast broadband is everywhere. But Swedes are becoming increasingly unconcerned about keeping their distance as time goes on, as images of packed restaurants indicate. Public health officials have warned about their behavior. In Stockholm they’ve threatened to shut bars and restaurants.
Pakistan lifts lockdown amid jump in virus cases
The latest development comes two days after the prime minister Imran Khan said he was ending the lockdown in phases because his government was unable to financially help those millions of people who rely on their daily earnings to survive and feed their families. Khan says he tried to financially help the country’s poor amid the pandemic, but he was unable to support all those who lost their jobs due to the lockdown. So far, Khan has bowed to pressure from the country’s powerful clerical establishment by allowing mosques to remain open, even as the number of new cases has recently increased.
China’s export rose and imports plunged amid lockdown restrictions to curb the coronavirus
Even though China is curbing the virus spread, demand seems to be a major concern for the country, according to economists. Though there has been some rise in the demand, the low-income group have been the worst hit by the lockdown restrictions on movement. Services expenditure will be lower compared to last year as people would be reluctant to go to malls, to dine or to move along with family.
World gambles with looser lockdowns, risks coronavirus resurgence
With the new coronavirus exacting an economic toll unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s - wiping out millions of jobs and raising the spectre of unrest and hunger - governments around the world are trying to chart a way out of prolonged lockdowns and beginning to phase out restrictions. But without a vaccine or widespread testing to identify and isolate cases, health experts warn some leaders are taking a "gamble" that could result in a new surge of infections and deaths. "We are in uncharted territory," said Dr Annelise Wilder-Smith, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "Governments are having to strike a balance between this virus and the negative impacts of lockdowns on societies, including economic downturns, societal strife and mental health concerns. It's a large experiment."
Despite COVID-19 lockdown wiping off US$420bn from China's retail market, rebounding sentiment will boost H2 spend, say analysts
China started to ease the lockdown from 18 March 2020 and completely lifted it on 8 April 2020 in Wuhan city, the epicenter of the outbreak. Shopping malls, restaurants and retail stores in the country rushed to reopen to recover from the losses during lockdown. According to the Ministry of China, approximately 80% of restaurants and over 90% of commercial facilities had resumed operations across the country by 3 April. However, despite easing the restrictions, many consumers remain confined to homes due to the fear of infection, affecting businesses that are fully operational again but now do not have the required traffic to trade profitably. Customer traffic at a Walmart store in Shanghai had registered less than half of usual levels on 28 March, 10 days post lockdown, while electronics retailer Suning.com also received half of the usual customer volume at some of its physical stores. H&M recorded a sales decline of 23% for the week commencing 26 March 2020 against the same week in 2019 despite 99% of its stores being open.
The Latest: Pakistan lifts lockdown amid jump in virus cases
Pakistan has begun lifting the weeks-long lockdown that was enforced to curb the spread of the coronavirus, as authorities reported another big jump of 1,637 cases which rose to 27,474 with 24 new fatalities. Army soldiers who manned roadside checkpoints along with police since late March when the lockdown was enforced, were seen leaving for their barracks in the capital, Islamabad and elsewhere in the country on Saturday. The latest development comes two days after the prime minister Imran Khan said he was ending the lockdown in phases because his government was unable to financially help those millions of people who rely on their daily earnings to survive and feed their families.
The two countries that show life beyond lockdown isn't what people think it will be
Life as we know it in much of the world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus. But two countries have been widely held up as examples of how to handle a pandemic: South Korea and Germany. Their approaches were markedly different -- but each is now in the enviable position of being able to ease restrictions imposed to quash the spread of coronavirus with some confidence that infections won't immediately spike again. So how are they preparing to return to "normal" life? In one word: Cautiously. And those watching enviously from other countries may notice that much remains far from normal.
New coronavirus cases in China and South Korea as world lockdowns ease
China and South Korea both reported more coronavirus infections Friday after reopening economies damaged by devastating outbreaks. Governments around the world are opting to accept the risks of easing pandemic-fighting restrictions, that left huge numbers of people without income or safety nets. In the US, some governors are disregarding or creatively interpreting White House guidelines in easing their states’ lockdowns and letting businesses reopen.
France to start 'very gradual' easing of lockdown from May 11
France would start to ease restrictions on movement from next Monday through "a very gradual process" which would stretch over several weeks at least to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed on Thursday. "Following the data of the past few days, the gradual lifting of the confinement can be started on May 11. This is a new step in the fight against the epidemic," Philippe announced. "We must be very vigilant because an eventual resurgence of the virus will be very difficult for our country. That's why we opted for a progressive process," he stressed.
Lifting lockdown: what Britain can learn from the rest of the world
As Boris Johnson considers easing the lockdown, he will look at neighbouring countries to help inform his decision. To limit the spread of coronavirus, governments have mostly followed the same script: as deaths increase, restrictions on people are strengthened. However, the speed of implementation has varied widely between countries. New data helps to visualise how Britain stopped short of taking the same steps as its European neighbours. Collated by the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, the data records how quickly different countries reacted to the pandemic. Each is rated according to a “stringency index” on which stronger measures and more decisive action earn higher scores.
Coronavirus: Australia sets out three-point plan to lift lockdown by July
The country's Prime Minister Scott Morrison says states and territories have agreed a roadmap to remove most of the curbs.Using an Australian word for a duvet, Mr Morrison said: "You can stay under the doona forever. You'll never face any danger. "But we've got to get out from under the doona at some time." He said the states will set their own pace in easing coronavirus restrictions. Each step will likely be separated by a four-week transition.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Why New Zealand had to go into lockdown
The story and document explanation of why New Zealand acted swiftly and moved the country into lockdown to combat the coronavirus
France vows to 'test massively' as it relaxes lockdown
Olivier Veran said France will be able carry out 700,000 PCR tests a week for the virus from Monday when it begins the fraught process of relaxing its almost eight-week lockdown. The minister said the authorities—which have been heavily criticised for the lack of mass testing—now have enough capacity to cover the needs of the whole population.
Coronavirus Italy: Beaches open as lockdown eased
Italy began relaxing its coronavirus lockdown this week, after 50 days under one of Europe's strictest regimes. 4million people returned to work as public spaces were reopened and markets allowed to start trading. Social distancing continued after PM said freedom is dependent on people keeping each-other safe. Further easing will come on May 18 when Masses will restart, as governors push for shops to open sooner
Spain's Reopening Is Stricter Than America's Coronavirus Lockdown
Here in Spain, even easing measures leaves them stricter than in most of the United States.
Germany eases lockdown, with 'emergency brake' on hand if needed
Declaring an end to the first phase of the pandemic in Germany, Merkel said there was still a long way to go in the battle against the virus, which has battered Europe’s largest economy. The government will decide on an economic stimulus package in June, Merkel said, adding this was a “very ambitious” time frame.
How Singapore's second wave is exposing economic inequalities
Pandemics have a way of exposing softness in any national underbelly. “Epidemic diseases are not random events which afflict societies capriciously,” as Yale’s Frank Snowden writes in Epidemics and Society (2019), a book on the history of such diseases. “Every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities.” In Singapore’s case it took a few months for Covid-19 to hone in on the country’s migrant workers. Now those daily WhatsApp messages pointedly break down infections into subcategories, to make it clear that only a small proportion of cases are actually Singapore citizens. The vast majority of the rest fall within a group described as “work permit holders (residing in dormitories)”.
Anger as Italy slowly emerges from long Covid-19 lockdown
Last week, after Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, outlined plans to slowly ease the country’s quarantine, millions of people were overcome with feelings of anger and disappointment as their hopes were dashed by what many described as a “false reopening”. Italians will now be able to travel within regions to visit relatives, provided they wear masks, but schools, hairdressers, gyms and many other commercial activities will stay closed; cafes and restaurants will offer takeaways only; and all travel between regions will be banned except for work, health or emergency situations. Restrictions on funerals have been relaxed, with a maximum of 15 mourners allowed to attend, but masses and weddings will have to wait.
With Coronavirus Lockdown Lifted, Chinese Splurge on Big Luxury Brands
Overall spending by Chinese shoppers was down for the quarter, Mr. Guiony said. That is because Chinese shoppers do most of their luxury spending on trips abroad to European capitals, big U.S. cities and elsewhere. With international travel locked down, it is unclear when Chinese will have the chance, or the desire, to splurge again overseas.
Exit Strategies
UK coronavirus app could be 'ditched for different model' after trials
The UK could either “adapt” its coronavirus contact-tracing app or ditch it and “move to a different model”, after piloting it in the Isle of Wight and learning lessons from other countries. About 40,000 people in the Isle of Wight have been trialling the app, designed by an arm of the NHS, which alerts users if they have been near to a suspected case of coronavirus. However, there has been intense speculation the UK could have to change its app to a “decentralised” model favoured by Apple and Google, which stores data about movements on a user’s phone rather than centrally in an anonymised form with the government. Amid reports of teething problems with the app, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, suggested changes could be on the way.
Boris Johnson's lockdown release leaves UK divided
Boris Johnson urged the country to take its first tentative steps out of lockdown this week in an address to the nation that was immediately condemned as being divisive, confusing and vague. In a speech from Downing Street, Johnson said if the circumstances were right, schools in England and some shops might be able to open next month, and the government was “actively encouraging” people to return to work if they cannot do so from home. But he stressed that this was “not the time simply to end the lockdown” and that he intended to take a cautious approach guided by the science, otherwise a second deadly wave of the “devilish” virus would take hold.
Brits to be asked to 'wear masks to work' as part of PM's master plan to ease lockdown
Boris Johnson is likely to ask Brits to wear face masks at work, on public transport and while shopping when he reveals his blueprint for how the coronavirus lockdown will be eased on Sunday
Lockdown exit plan for May 17: Govt may ready a negative list of prohibited activities
India may draw up a negative list of activities that are prohibited in order to help ease the country out of the lockdown. The strategy is aimed at opening up a bigger share of the economy and preventing the kind of confusion that’s allowed district administrations to be more restrictive than intended. The government permitted the resumption of many activities in two stages, on April 20 and May 4, but lack of clarity over the guidelines has meant the impact of this relaxation has been much less on the ground than it should have been.