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Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Feb 2021

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Oxford University says research not affected after media reports of COVID lab hack

Oxford University said on Thursday it was investigating a digital intrusion after a researcher said he had seen evidence that a laboratory researching COVID-19 had been hacked. The breach took place in mid-February and occurred at the Division of Structural Biology, known as Strubi, which has been carrying out research into COVID-19, according to Alex Holden, founder of Wisconsin-based Hold Security. Forbes first reported the breach. Strubi is distinct from the Jenner Institute, which develops the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with AstraZeneca.
26th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Anti-fraud probe as EU nations are offered 900 million 'ghost' jabs worth €12.7bn

Fraudsters are trying to cash in on mistakes made by the EU's coronavirus vaccination campaign by offering millions of scam jabs to member states. The bloc's anti-fraud agency OLAF said around 900 million vaccines have been pitched to several countries for €12.7bn (£11bn). These offers were said to be made by "alleged intermediaries," prompting OLAF to investigate. Pharmaceutical companies involved in making vaccines against COVID-19 say they sell to governments direct only.
25th Feb 2021 - Sky News

COVID-19: Almost 70,000 COVID lockdown fines handed out, with steep rise since Christmas

Police have handed out nearly 70,000 fines to people for breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules since they came into force, with more than 6,000 issued in a single week, new data shows. Figures published by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) on Thursday show that a total of 68,952 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issues by forces. Of this figure, 63,201 fines were handed out in England and 5,751 in Wales between 27 March last year and 14 February.
25th Feb 2021 - Sky News

The Good, the Bad, and the Embarrassing in America’s COVID-19 Response

The pandemic has been both a bad and an embarrassing time to be an American. Bad in an actuarial sense, because per-capita death rates here have been among the highest in the world. Embarrassing at the level of national identity. In Washington, last year, the President promised that the virus would be gone by Easter, and when it wasn’t he mused that Americans might self-treat with bleach. In Michigan, armed men guarded a barbershop that had defied public-health orders to close. On South Padre Island, in Texas, spring break proceeded as usual—packed and unmasked—even as cases were climbing. The state’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, insisted that there were “more important things than living”; later, he urged Texans to keep the economy open even if it meant more deaths.
25th Feb 2021 - The New Yorker

Far right 'exploiting' anger at lockdowns to radicalise wellness community, police say

Rightwing extremist groups have “exploited” anger at Covid-19 lockdowns to radicalise Australians in wellness and alternative medical circles into adopting white supremacist ideologies, Victoria police have warned a parliamentary inquiry into extremism. The inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism has separately been warned by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that Australians as young as 13 are involved in onshore terrorism, both in Islamist and rightwing extremist circles, and that encrypted online communication channels are preventing authorities from intervening before “lone actors” become radicalised and carry out attacks.
25th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Mark Woolhouse denies Sturgeon's claim Covid-19 was 'reseeded' into Scotland from other parts of UK

An adviser to Nicola Sturgeon has challenged the first minister’s claim that coronavirus was “reseeded” into Scotland from other parts of the UK and claimed her “elimination” strategy was unattainable. The first minister has claimed that coronavirus was “almost eliminated” in Scotland last summer but was brought back into the country from travellers coming in from outside.
25th Feb 2021 - The Times

EU says UK, U.S. have vaccine export bans, EU allows exports of Pfizer, Moderna shots

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday that the EU was allowing exports of COVID-19 vaccines, mostly from BionTech/Pfizer and Moderna, while the United States and Britain had mechanism to block them. Von der Leyen told a news conference that approximately 95% of EU-made vaccines that had been exported since Jan. 30 were manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, and the remainder by Moderna. She said that both were honouring their supply contracts with the EU and therefore there was no limitation on their export, while on AstraZeneca’s exports the EU was keeping “a very close eye” because of the company’s shortfalls in deliveries to the 27-nation bloc.
25th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Vaccinate prisoners en masse, not police or teachers, JCVI tells ministers

Teachers, police and other key workers should not get priority for Covid jabs but prisoners can be vaccinated en masse, the government’s advisory body has concluded. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) handed final recommendations to ministers on Sunday advising that under-50s be vaccinated by age rather than occupation, and that people from ethnic minorities should not get priority, The Times understands. At least 150,000 more people with learning disabilities have been added to the present vaccine priority list, after concerns that too many with severe problems were being missed. Ministers are due to sign off the next phase of the vaccine programme imminently and are expected to follow the committee’s advice. On Monday Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines deployment minister, said: “We will absolutely follow what they recommend.”
25th Feb 2021 - The Times

Israel passes law to name and shame those who decline Covid vaccine

Israel has passed a law allowing the identities of people who have not been vaccinated to be shared with other authorities. The decision on Wednesday raises concerns over privacy for those who may opt against getting the jab. It passed by 30 votes to 13 and gives local governments, the director general of the education ministry and some in the welfare ministry the right to receive the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone who has not had the vaccine. The objective of the measure – which remains valid for three months or until the Covid-19 pandemic is declared over – is ‘to enable these bodies to encourage people to vaccinate by personally addressing them’, according to a statement issued by parliament. Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2021/02/25/israel-passes-law-to-name-and-shame-people-who-havent-had-covid-jab-14143058/?ito=cbshare Twitter: https://twitter.com/MetroUK | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
25th Feb 2021 - Metro.co.uk


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Feb 2021

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Doctors and nurses face endless covid misinformation battle

Nakhasi is one of countless health-care workers who have found themselves combating the coronavirus on two fronts during a global pandemic that is now stretching into its 12th month. Beyond spending their working hours in hospitals and clinics, many doctors and nurses have also voluntarily entrenched themselves in “the information war,” as Nakhasi calls it. It’s a fight Nakhasi and other medical professionals say feels overwhelming. Baseless claims often spread faster than facts, and purveyors of misinformation are quick to retaliate with vitriol and threats. And yet, health-care workers, many of whom are already experiencing burnout and the emotional toll of witnessing covid ravage their patients, haven’t backed down. “It’s never-ending,” Nakhasi said. “There’s not a moment where I don’t feel some level of duty or responsibility” to take action.
24th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

EU President would take the AstraZeneca vaccine Germans are rejecting

The European Union’s chief said she would happily receive AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine as officials rushed to find ways of ensuring doses refused by skittish Germans did not go to waste. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen volunteered for the jab amid growing concerns that unfavourable comments by top European officials including French President Emmanuel Macron had slowed take-up of one of only three vaccines currently approved EU-wide. Earlier this month, Macron said Britain had taken a risk in authorising AstraZeneca so rapidly. A German official study also found evidence that, though effective, the vaccine has more severe side effects than its two main rivals.
24th Feb 2021 - Sydney Morning Herald

India warns states of worsening COVID situation if rules ignored

India has warned that a breach of guidelines on testing and other measures to contain the coronavirus could worsen a recent spurt in infections in many states, particularly after it detected several variants. “Any laxity in implementing stringent measures to curb the spread, especially in view of new strain of virus…could compound the situation,” the health ministry on Wednesday said in a statement that singled out nine states and a federal territory.
24th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Condemnation as coughing Tanzanian minister gives news conference

Days after President John Mafuguli finally admitted Tanzania has a coronavirus problem, after months of apparent denial and increasing warnings of a resurgence in infections, the sight of the country’s finance minister coughing and gasping during a news conference to defend the state of his health has left many in shock. Finance Minister Philip Mpango, who did not reveal what he was suffering from, spoke to about 10 reporters on Tuesday at a hospital in the capital, Dodoma, after rumours that he had died of COVID-19. A recent spate of deaths attributed to “pneumonia” and “respiratory challenges” has struck both government officials and members of the public.
24th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 24th Feb 2021

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U.S. House plans vote on COVID-19 aid bill on Friday

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Friday on legislation to provide $1.9 trillion in new coronavirus relief, Representative Steny Hoyer, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said. “The American people strongly support this bill, and we are moving swiftly to see it enacted into law,” Hoyer said on Twitter on Tuesday.
24th Feb 2021 - Reuters

World Bank threatens to halt funding for Lebanon’s COVID jabs

The World Bank has threatened to suspend financing for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it said were violations by legislators who were vaccinated inside Parliament. The comments by the international lender on Tuesday came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that the national plan that requires people to get vaccinated at predetermined centres could be riddled with violations and favouritism.
24th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Covid-19: Frustration over London's maskless passengers

Mask wearing on public transport looks likely to be with us for some time. But the most recent figures from Transport for London (TfL) show there is still a significant minority that do not wear them. Commuters have also complained to me about maskless rail staff who also ignore social distance regulations. TfL said about 90% of its passengers wear masks. Around 137,000 maskless people have so far been stopped from using London's public transport and told to wear a face covering since it was made mandatory on 15 June, latest figures show.
23rd Feb 2021 - BBC News


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 23rd Feb 2021

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Israel’s coronavirus vaccines wielding political power

Forget about oil and arms. Coronavirus vaccines are emerging as the newest currency of choice in the Middle East. Israel’s reopening of its economy, combined with a murky prisoner swap with Syria and the arrival of a batch of vaccines in the Gaza Strip, have all underscored how those with access to the vaccines have political power in the turbulent region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been at the forefront of this trend, pinning his re-election hopes on the success of his campaign to vaccinate Israel’s adult population. At the same time, he has offered rewards to those who vaccinate and punishments to those who do not. Israel has rolled out the world’s fastest vaccination campaign, administering at least one dose to more than half its 9.3 million people and the required two doses to about one-third in less than two months.
23rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

UK PM sets out road map to ease England’s COVID lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out a four-step plan to ease coronavirus restrictions in England, expressing a hope that life could get back to normal by the end of June. Johnson outlined a “gradual and cautious” approach to lifting curbs in England, starting with the return of pupils to schools from March 8. Non-essential retail and hairdressers will reopen April 12. So will pubs and restaurants, though only outdoors. Indoor venues such as theatres and cinemas, and indoor seating in bars and restaurants, are scheduled to open May 17, when limited crowds will be able to return to sports stadiums. It is also the earliest date Britons may be allowed foreign holidays. The government is aiming for the lifting of all limits on social contact from June 21. The government says the dates could all be postponed if infections rise.
23rd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Bells toll for lives lost as U.S. reaches 500,000 COVID deaths

The United States on Monday crossed the staggering milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths just over a year since the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known victim in Santa Clara County, California. In a proclamation honoring the dead, President Joe Biden ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff on public buildings and grounds until sunset on Friday. “On this solemn occasion, we reflect on their loss and on their loved ones left behind,” Biden said in the proclamation. “We, as a Nation, must remember them so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic.”
23rd Feb 2021 - Reuters

False claims tying coronavirus vaccines to infertility drive doubts among women of childbearing age

As the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine ramps up across the United States, women of childbearing age have emerged as a surprising roadblock to efforts to halt the pandemic by achieving herd immunity. Officials have encountered hesitancy among other groups, including some Black and Hispanic adults and those who believe the pandemic is a hoax. But the reluctance of women in their 20s and 30s — largely around disinformation spread on Facebook, Twitter and other social media — has been more unexpected. With such women making up a large share of the health-care workforce, vaccine uptake at nursing homes and hospitals has been as low as 20 to 50 percent in some places — a far cry from the 70 to 85 percent population target that health officials say may be needed to stop the virus.
22nd Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

COVID-19: Australian Open fans criticised for 'disgusting' booing of vaccine rollout

The behaviour of Australian Open fans who booed the mention of a COVID-19 vaccine rollout after Sunday's men's final has been branded "disgusting". Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka was loudly heckled when she mentioned vaccines in her presentation speech after Novak Djokovic's victory. Michael McCormack, Australia's deputy prime minister said: "Well, that's un-Australian (the booing incident), I'm sorry that is just un-Australian." "This vaccine is going to get our country back to some sort of pre-COVID normality."
22nd Feb 2021 - Sky News

Australian woman refusing a Covid swab in MIQ had already protested against lockdowns

An Australian woman who is refusing to take a Covid-19 swab says she will finally leave MIQ in Wellington today - after 28 days. Lucinda Baulch flew into New Zealand almost a month ago to drop off children she had been fostering to their new home in Aotearoa. "I put my hand up saying I'll take the children on the plane, I'll stay with them during managed isolation." She claims that while she was in Australia, she was told by officials there she wouldn't need to take a Covid-19 swab because she flew in from Australia, but once she arrived she was informed that this was not the case. This isn't the first time Baulch has challenged Covid-19 rules, and back in Australia, she participated in an anti-lockdown protest.
22nd Feb 2021 - New Zealand Herald

Argentina’s president decries ‘unforgivable’ vaccine scandal

The president of Argentina has decried an “unforgivable” COVID-19 vaccine scandal that prompted the resignation of the country’s health minister. Gines Gonzalez Garcia stepped down on Friday after reports surfaced that he had aided people in the South American nation jump the queue to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
22nd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 22nd Feb 2021

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Anti-coronavirus vaccine protests held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth

In Australia, a number of small rallies have been held in capital cities across the country in protest of the coronavirus vaccine. Gatherings were held in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth on Saturday with a few hundred people at each. In Victoria, where the state has just emerged from a snap five-day lockdown, pepper spray was deployed and a number of arrests were reportedly made.
21st Feb 2021 - 9News.com.au

Amsterdam police clear square of anti-lockdown demonstrators

Police in Amsterdam forcibly cleared anti-lockdown demonstrators from the city's Museum Square on Sunday after they ignored instructions to leave amid a ban on public gatherings due to the coronavirus epidemic. The Museum Square has become a regular meeting place for people opposed to social distancing and other lockdown rules. At Sunday's demonstration, some were carrying signs saying "freedom" or held yellow umbrellas, but others appeared simply to have joined the throng of several hundred mostly young people. Police conducted raids on horseback and a handful of protesters were detained.
21st Feb 2021 - MSN.com

Reporters - Covid-19: The Swedish exception?

With the arrival of winter, the threat from Covid-19 increased, requiring a change in strategy: the Swedish government limited public gatherings but allowed shops to remain open. Our reporters have been to Sweden, but also to Finland and Denmark, to meet the Swedes who have left their country out of fear of catching coronavirus. Although Sweden's Covid-19 figures are no worse than the European average, the country has reported 10 times more deaths than its Scandinavian neighbours.
20th Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24

Victorian gym owner charged for running gym during lockdown

A Victorian gym owner who defied the state's five-day "circuit-breaker" lockdown by keeping his premises operating has been charged by police. The 50-year-old St Albans man was arrested on February 16 by police for operating his gym in Campbellfield in lockdown. Officers today confirmed he was charged with failing to comply with Chief Health Officer directions and was granted bail.
19th Feb 2021 - 9News.com.au


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th Feb 2021

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Macron urges US, EU to rapidly divert COVID vaccines to Africa

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday urged fellow European nations and the United States to give up to five percent of their current COVID-19 vaccine supplies to developing countries in Africa, warning poorer nations are paying “astronomical prices” for jabs being made in the West. Macron said the current uneven distribution of doses marked an “unprecedented acceleration of global inequality” and cautioned some countries were being charged two or three times the price paid by the European Union for vaccines such as the one produced by Oxford-AstraZeneca.
19th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Angela Merkel's heir says Germany's lockdown treats public like children

The strongest contender to succeed Angela Merkel appeared to suggest that the German chancellor was “inventing” reasons to keep the country in lockdown after her government tightened conditions for lifting the restrictions. Armin Laschet, the chief minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, recently won the leadership of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, traditionally a springboard for the chancellorship. His barely disguised criticism of Merkel is regarded by some observers as an attempt to build an independent political profile but it also reflects widespread unease at the length of a lockdown now well into its fourth month. Last week Merkel, 66, brokered an agreement to extend the measures until at least March 7. The target seven-day infection rate has also been cut from 50 new cases per 100,000 to 35 per 100,000, as the government tries to stop mutant strains of the virus spreading.
18th Feb 2021 - The Times

Liberal MP Bernie Finn tells anti-lockdown protest Victorian restrictions were 'not about a virus'

Three Victorian Liberal MPs have addressed a group of vaccine conspiracy theorists and anti-lockdown protesters at an online rally, hours before the state's stage 4 restrictions were lifted.
18th Feb 2021 - ABC News

Dutch government races for plan B to uphold nighttime coronavirus curfew

The Dutch government raced on Wednesday to prepare legislation to keep a nighttime curfew in place after a court ordered it to scrap the controversial COVID-19 measure which has become the focus of campaigning a month before a general election. The stakes are high politically as Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the country’s top health officials argue the measure is essential to soften a third wave of infections they say is about to arrive due to variants of the coronavirus. Tuesday’s court ruling found the government’s current justifications lacked sufficient legal basis, sending authorities scrambling to draft a bill and enact it swiftly into law.
18th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID rumours hamper Brazil’s efforts to vaccinate Indigenous

Indigenous nurse Almeida Tananta battled heavy downpours of tropical rains as he rode his motorbike for hours across the red-soiled dirt tracks of Tabatinga, a municipality in Western Amazonas, which borders the Amazon rainforest and Colombia, and has the largest concentration of Indigenous Brazilians in the Amazon. Tananta was en route to apply the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the remote Umariacu villagers, in Alto Rio Solimoes. But when he arrived at the village of wooden-thatched houses skirting the banks of the Amazon river, the nurse’s hopes of vaccinating the 1,037 villagers quickly vanished.
18th Feb 2021 - AlJazeera

'Horrifying' death toll prompts calls to prioritise jabs for disabled people

People with disabilities in England should be given priority for vaccination against Covid-19, according to leading charities, after official data showed that they accounted for 60 per cent of all deaths from the disease last year. Describing the data as “both illuminating and horrifying”, James Taylor, executive director of strategy for Scope, which campaigns for disability equality, said: “What they show is that there is an urgent need for the government to prioritise disabled people now.” This week, health officials announced that they were moving an extra 820,000 people up the vaccination priority list, including some with severe or profound learning disabilities who will be elevated into the sixth of the government’s top nine groups for receiving the jab.
18th Feb 2021 - Financial Times

Erdogan: Turkey to start lifting COVID curbs in March

Turkey will begin a gradual return to normal life on a province-by-province basis from March, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who added that nationwide weekend COVID-19 lockdowns would be lifted in some provinces based on infection rates. Turkey imposed curfews, weekend lockdowns and other curbs in December as cases rose sharply. It plans to reopen schools nationwide on March 1 and its vaccination programme has so far administered shots to nearly 5.7 million people using shots developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
18th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Feb 2021

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Unprotected African health workers die as rich countries buy up COVID-19 vaccines

On 6 January, gastroenterologist Leolin Katsidzira received a troubling message from his colleague James Gita Hakim, a heart specialist and noted HIV/AIDS researcher. Hakim, chair of the department of medicine at the University of Zimbabwe, had fallen sick and had tested positive for COVID-19. He was admitted to a hospital in Harare 10 days later and moved to an intensive care unit (ICU) after his condition deteriorated. He died on 26 January. It is a crushing loss to Zimbabwean medicine, Katsidzira says. “Don’t forget: We have had a huge brain drain. So people like James are people who keep the system going,” he adds. Scientists around the world mourned Hakim as well. He was “a unique research leader, a brilliant clinical scientist and mentor, humble, welcoming and empowering,” wrote Melanie Abas, a collaborator at King’s College London.
17th Feb 2021 - Science Magazine

Glasgow priest Canon Tom White takes legal action against ministers to stop UK divide on lockdown right to worship

A Glasgow priest has launched a legal action to stop a north-south divide on the right to worship during lockdown. Canon Tom White whose St Alphonsus parish is in the heart of the city’s famous Barras has issued a pre-action letter to the Scottish Government demanding it ends the blanket ban on places of worship. A response must be made before Tuesday February 23. Lockdown measures designed to stop the spread of coronavirus have forced places of worship to shut.
17th Feb 2021 - heraldscotland.com

‘Public hanging’ outside church in protest of ‘unnecessary’ lockdown of hospitality trade in Spain’s Costa Blanca

A chef mannequin was hung from a lamp-post in Torrevieja as hospitality workers protested against what they see as an unnecessary lockdown of trade. Almost 200 people turned up at the central plaza yesterday, February 16, to voice their anger as the Valencian goverment continued the enforced closure of bars, cafes and restaurants
17th Feb 2021 - Olive Press

US state gives vaccines to aides for elderly, drawing criticism

Halee Barlow cannot wait for the COVID-19 vaccine. But it is not for her. She is desperate to get her father vaccinated – and soon. Brian Barlow, of Sutton, Massachusetts, about 77 kilometres (48 miles) west of Boston, is terminally ill with liver cancer and immuno-compromised enough to put him at higher risk for serious illness or death from the disease caused by the coronavirus. The stress of the pandemic and the wait for a vaccine are fraying nerves in Barlow’s family. “It makes it feel like we’re working against the clock,” she told Al Jazeera. “The more time we wait, the less time we have to really spend with him.” At 72, Barlow’s father is three years younger than residents now permitted to get the vaccine under the second phase of the state plan. The next leg of the phase – for people 65 years and older, people with two or more medical conditions listed by the state and residents and staff of low-income and affordable senior housing – is scheduled to start on February 18 but it is unclear when he will get an appointment for a jab.
17th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

World first: UK to deliberately infect volunteers with COVID

The United Kingdom is set to become the first country in the world to deliberately expose volunteers to the novel coronavirus in a so-called human challenge study hoped to eventually aid the development of vaccines and treatments. Up to 90 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 30 will be exposed to the virus in a “safe and controlled environment” during the trial, which will begin within a month, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a statement on Wednesday.
17th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 17th Feb 2021

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COVID-19: 'Progress' made on vaccine hesitancy amid 'pandemic of disinformation', NHS chief says

"Meaningful progress" is being made in the campaign to overcome COVID vaccine hesitancy, but it is happening amid a "pandemic of disinformation", the head of the NHS in England has said. The country is fighting a "dual epidemic" and must take on both coronavirus and disinformation with "equal vigour", Sir Simon Stevens said at Monday's Downing Street news conference. He added that progress is being made on uptake among black and south Asian communities, and believes the involvement of local religious leaders will help build momentum.
16th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Spoons boss slams 'absurd' outdoor drinking plan after lockdown

In England, JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin has rubbished the idea of only reopening outdoor areas in pubs as a ‘random’ idea that will leave jobs hanging in the balance. The chain’s founder dismissed the notion that the Covid risk could be reduced by allowing customers to sit in beer gardens while keeping indoor spaces closed to the public. He also branded the suggestion of vaccine passports allowing entry to supermarkets and hospitality venues as ‘extreme’ as he addressed tentative plans to reopen pubs in April. The idea has been shot down by Boris Johnson, who said it is more likely to apply to people travelling abroad.
16th Feb 2021 - Metro.co.uk

German business groups berate government over lockdown extension

The German government is coming under mounting attack from business groups angry at its refusal to ease the country’s coronavirus restrictions, as pressure grows for an exit strategy out of one of Europe’s longest shutdowns. “Businesses are growing increasingly desperate, and angry,” said Guido Zöllick, head of DEHOGA, the German association of hotels and restaurants. “More and more fear for their existence.” He was speaking after a crisis meeting with German economy minister Peter Altmaier where 40 groups representing the hospitality industry, tourism, retail trade and other sectors lambasted the government’s pandemic policies.
16th Feb 2021 - The Financial Times

Madrid: an island in a sea of coronavirus restrictions

Compared to other major European capitals, Madrid is swimming against the tide with regard to its Covid-19 strategy. Although most of Europe’s main cities are imposing heavy restrictions on both mobility and social activities in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Spanish capital is opting for relaxing restrictions despite a 14-day incidence rate of 625 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In fact, while Lisbon, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Athens and Brussels remain in partial lockdown, Madrid plans to put the curfew and closing times in the hospitality sector back an hour. The Swedish capital, Stockholm, which took a controversial early approach to fighting the virus by trusting to individual responsibility, is one of the few big European cities to take a similar line. But experts warn of the risks of relaxing restrictions when transmission remains high.
16th Feb 2021 - El País

Police storm gym operating in Melbourne during lockdown

Dozens of police have stormed a gym in Melbourne's north operating under Victoria's lockdown, with three men arrested. Late this afternoon officers swarmed on the Campbellfield gym, open against the Chief Health Officer's directives during lockdown. "We can't afford to close the gym so we've been trading as per normal during the lockdown," Al Pope, part-owner of the gym told 9News. Mr Pope said about 175 people came through for a casual session today, plus normal members, and no masks were worn.
16th Feb 2021 - 9News.com.au

Dutch coronavirus curfew upheld temporarily after legal setback

Appellate judges ruled on Tuesday that a night-time curfew would remain in place in the Netherlands pending a government appeal of a lower-court ruling that found the measure lacked legal justification. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s coronavirus policy was dealt a major blow earlier in the day when a district court in The Hague said his government had failed to make clear why it was necessary to use emergency powers at this stage of the pandemic. The government requested and was granted an injunction, or emergency order, in which the three-judge appellate panel in The Hague agreed to suspend that ruling and uphold the curfew pending the outcome of the appeal to be heard on Friday.
16th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: Test and Trace 'now working really, really well', says Serco boss

The boss of an outsourcing giant involved in the much-criticised coronavirus Test and Trace programme has admitted it took "some time to settle down" but argued it was "now working really, really well". Speaking to Sky News, Serco chief executive Rupert Soames also rejected comparisons with the widely hailed COVID-19 vaccination rollout, arguing his firm had been "plunged straight into it" last year while there had been time to plan for the administration of jabs. The UK now had "the largest and most successful test and tracing system in Europe", Mr Soames told the Ian King Live programme.
16th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Covid: Dutch crisis as court orders end to Covid curfew

A court in The Hague has told the Dutch government that an overnight curfew to reduce the spread of coronavirus should be lifted, ruling that it breaches the right to free movement. The court said the 21:00 to 04:30 curfew was imposed by an emergency law when there was no "acute emergency". Later, a higher court ruled that the curfew could stay in place pending an appeal on Friday. The curfew, imposed in January, led to rioting in several Dutch cities. Police were patrolling streets near the Dutch parliament on Tuesday evening but no unrest has been reported so far.
16th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Israel blocks shipment of Russian Sputnik V vaccine to Gaza

Israel has stopped 1,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine that are intended for front-line medical workers from entering the besieged Gaza Strip. The Palestinian group Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip on Tuesday blasted Israel’s refusal to allow vaccine doses destined for Gaza health workers through its blockade of the territory as a “violation” of international law.
16th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Lebanon begins vaccinations with sceptics a major hurdle

Lebanon’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out has begun, but there remain concerns the most vulnerable people in the country may be left out of the campaign or excluded altogether. Regardless of nationality or legal status, anyone living in Lebanon is supposed to be covered under its vaccination campaign, including refugees and migrant labourers, who count for about 1.5 million of the estimated six million people living here. “For refugees, one of the problems that we’ve noticed are very low registration — it could be a lack of awareness, or a lack of trust in the process,” said Aya Majzoub, Human Rights Watch’s Lebanon and Bahrain researcher. Of the almost 540,000 people who have registered in Lebanon for the vaccine so far, slightly more than 11,000 are Syrian or Palestinian, the two largest non-Lebanese populations in the country. Migrant labourers, the majority of whom hail from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, appear to be completely ineligible, as per a statement by the country’s Ministry of Labour last week.
16th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Biden extends foreclosure moratorium for struggling US homeowners

United States President Joe Biden extended a federal moratorium on foreclosures and mortgage forbearance policies on Tuesday, giving the more than 10 million homeowners who are behind on payments additional months of assistance as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the US economy. Biden’s announcement extends the moratorium on foreclosures through the end of June after it was due to expire at the end of next month. The policy also extends the mortgage forbearance window until June 30 and provides up to six months of additional mortgage payment relief for the 2.7 million Americans who are already receiving it, the White House said in a statement.
16th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Feb 2021

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Coronavirus in the UK: New BBC Panorama research reveals rise in anti-vaccine propaganda accounts on social media

An investigation for the BBC’s Panorama has revealed an alarming increase in the followers of anti-vaccine accounts on social media – and the impact of the content being shared. Research for the programme, which airs on BBC One on February 15th, analysed anti-vaccine content available on the major social media platforms. It found that anti-vaccine accounts on Instagram increased nearly five-fold in 2020, reaching over four million followers. “Naturally we didn’t have the time maybe to do the sort of preliminary work that we do when we’re introducing vaccines,” said Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England. “I think it's fair to say that we didn’t have time to do all those things as well as we would normally do but we’re very much playing catch up now.” It comes at a time when more people are seeking health information online.
15th Feb 2021 - MSN.com

The superspreaders behind top COVID-19 conspiracy theories

As the coronavirus spread across the globe, so too did speculation about its origins. Perhaps the virus escaped from a lab. Maybe it was engineered as a bioweapon. Legitimate questions about the virus created perfect conditions for conspiracy theories. In the absence of knowledge, guesswork and propaganda flourished. College professors with no evidence or training in virology were touted as experts. Anonymous social media users posed as high-level intelligence officials. And from China to Iran to Russia to the United States, governments amplified claims for their own motives. The Associated Press collaborated with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab on a nine-month investigation to identify the people and organizations behind some of the most viral misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus. Their claims were explosive. Their evidence was weak. These are the superspreaders.
15th Feb 2021 - ABC News

Three arrested at anti-lockdown rally in Melbourne

A group of anti-lockdown protesters have rallied in Melbourne today, with three men arrested. Dozens of people came together at Eaton Mall in Oakleigh to defy the state's stage four lockdown in place until midnight on Wednesday. The largely maskless group clashed with police and became vocal towards them, swearing and shouting.
15th Feb 2021 - 9News.com.au

Victorian builders baffled by decision to stop construction in lockdown

Victorian builders say the state's latest five-day lockdown rules are excessive, especially for regional Victoria where work has ground to a halt just when it was getting back to normal. Victoria's Premier Daniel Andrews says the statewide blanket lockdown is a "circuit breaker" to a growing cluster in Melbourne's north. But for Tanya McNamara, whose construction firm has been rebuilding homes in East Gippsland, all the lockdown has done is disrupt the flow of rebuilding after last summer's bushfires.
15th Feb 2021 - ABC.Net.au

Australian Proud Boys sought combat-trained supporters to 'arrest' police at Covid lockdown protests

The far-right Proud Boys in Australia sought people trained in combat to help confront police during anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne last year. Amid repeated warnings from security agencies in Australia and overseas about the way far-right groups have used the Covid-19 pandemic to recruit, Guardian Australia can reveal that senior members of the neo-fascist Proud Boys group were involved in protests during Melbourne’s second-wave lockdown last year. A series of messages posted to anti-lockdown social media groups in the past year reveal the increasingly blurred line between the loose coalition of conspiracy groups that orchestrated those protests and far right groups such as the Proud Boys.
15th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Wetherspoon's Tim Martin urges govt to reopen pubs, warns of economic mayhem

Wetherspoon founder and Chairman Tim Martin on Monday called on the government to open pubs at the same time as non-essential shops reopen, saying the pub industry was on its knees under the latest lockdown and warned of economic mayhem. Britain’s hospitality sector has been hit hard by the third coronavirus-led lockdown which forced Wetherspoon into a second cash call last month. The British Beer & Pub Association also urged the government last week to give a clear timeline and date for when pubs could reopen. Pubs reopened on July 4 last year after the first lockdown was lifted, followed by a second lockdown later that year.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Germany defends border controls as business demands lockdown exit plan

Germany said on Monday its decision to impose border controls with the Czech Republic and Austria is a temporary measure of last resort and it defended a lockdown extension against business demands for a roadmap to reopening. The new restrictions along the normally open borders were prompted by alarm over outbreaks in the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol region of strains of the coronavirus that spread faster and cause more illness. Germany installed frontier checks on Sunday, drawing protest from Austria and concerns about supply-chain disruptions that could damage the country’s export-oriented manufacturing sector.
15th Feb 2021 - Reuters

"The biggest mistake was failing to control the growth of infection in the autumn." - Professor Neil Ferguson

Imperial College Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson said the biggest mistake made by the government during the pandemic was failing to control the rise in infections in the autumn which led to a devastating second wave in the winter. Mr Ferguson, whose research led to the first UK lockdown, said the UK responded too late back in March but thought the government had 'learned that lesson' by the autumn. He said the failure to act with strict measures in the autumn was understandable but it set the country up for very high case numbers through the winter. He said: "It's unfortunate politicians need to see people in hospitals before they react."
15th Feb 2021 - ITV News

After hitting vaccine milestone, UK eyes way out of lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the path out of lockdown must be sensible to avoid being forced into a reversal of the relaxation of measures. Johnson’s comments on Monday came after the government reached its target to vaccinate 15 million people by the middle of this month, a milestone which has fuelled calls for the stringent restrictions to be loosened. Speaking to people waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine shot, Johnson said the key question was working out to what extent a drop in infections was being caused by the vaccination programme. “That’s the data we’re having to look at and really work out what is going on,” Johnson said. Asked about lifting lockdown, Johnson said: “The crucial thing is to make sure we just do sensible steps that are in proportion to where we are.” “What people don’t want to see is you know just being forced into reverse – we don’t want to do you know a reverse ferret – let’s take it at the right pace,” he said.
15th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 15th Feb 2021

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COVID-19: All restrictions must be lifted by end of April, lockdown-sceptic MPs tell Johnson

A group of lockdown-sceptic MPs has told Boris Johnson that coronavirus restrictions must be fully lifted by the end of April. In a letter to the prime minister, the COVID Recovery Group said there will be "no justification" for restrictions to remain once all over-50s have been offered a jab. The CRG described reopening England's schools on 8 March as a "national priority" that must be achieved, and said pubs and restaurants should be allowed to open in a COVID-secure way by Easter. More than 60 Conservative backbenchers are said to have backed the letter, which demands that Mr Johnson commits to a timetable for exiting lockdown.
14th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Clashes erupt at rally against corruption, COVID-19 curbs in Cyprus

Clashes broke out between police and activists in Cyprus on Saturday during a protest against corruption and lockdown measures imposed over the COVID-19 pandemic, witnesses said. Police used water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to break up the gathering of several hundred people just beyond the medieval walls in Nicosia, the capital of the east Mediterranean island, Reuters witnesses said.
14th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Challenges to Covid-19 Lockdowns Have Been Mostly Losing in Court

When the owners of four Albuquerque trampoline parks sued New Mexico’s governor for pandemic-related shutdowns that almost bankrupted them, they argued it wasn’t fair that they had to close when tanning salons, guided balloon tours and ice-skating rinks stayed open. The argument got nowhere with U.S. District Judge James Browning. “The Court will not recognize a new fundamental right to operate a trampoline facility,” he wrote in a Feb. 8 ruling, upholding the closures. The decision was the latest in a long line of defeats for businesses and individuals challenging lockdown rules and state emergency measures intended to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Together, the roughly 300 civil liberties lawsuits related to Covid-19 represent the most significant test in more than a century of the emergency powers of state governors and the scope of liberty in dire times.
13th Feb 2021 - Wall Street Journal

Nigel Farage's anti-lockdown party: Future force or busted flush?

Love him or loathe him, Nigel Farage has proved himself a political force to be reckoned with. At the helm of first UKIP and then the Brexit Party, he was the arch Eurosceptic. But although the UK has now left the EU both legally and practically, Mr Farage isn't leaving the political fray. Instead, the Brexit Party has been reborn as Reform UK. It is the same legal entity, with similar branding and many of the same key players. But with the new name comes a new focus - criticism of the government's handling of Covid and, in particular, opposition to prolonged lockdown.
13th Feb 2021 - BBC News

It Turns Out Germany’s Anti-Lockdown Rallies Were Superspreader Events

Two anti-lockdown rallies attended by conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and right-wing extremists from across Germany were "superspreader events" that resulted in up to 21,000 additional COVID infections in the lead-up to Christmas. That's the conclusion of a paper by researchers from Humboldt University of Berlin and the ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, which examined the impact of COVID-19 deniers on coronavirus transmission rates.
13th Feb 2021 - VICE

French Mayor Opens Museums, Defying Coronavirus Orders

If you wanted to visit a museum in France this week, you were out of luck. On Monday, all — from the Louvre in Paris, to hundreds of local museums — were shut, as they had been since Oct. 30, when the government ordered them closed in the face of rising coronavirus cases. They remained shut despite a rising clamor from museum directors, who have begged the government to let them open their doors. “For an hour, for a day, for a week or a month, let us reopen,” wrote the leaders of some of the country’s most prominent art institutions in an open letter published in the newspaper Le Monde earlier this month. “Art can contribute to cure the soul, as medicine does,” the letter added.
13th Feb 2021 - The New York Times

Tories Pile Pressure On Boris Johnson Ahead Of Lockdown Review

The pressure on Boris Johnson over next week’s coronavirus lockdown review is mounting, and mainly from his own MPs. That much was clear when an exasperated Charles Walker, vice-chair of the influential 1922 Committee, this week reacted to the suggestion that domestic summer holidays may not be possible by telling the prime minister to “get a grip of his cabinet ministers”.
13th Feb 2021 - Huffington Post UK

Anti-lockdown protest outside Australian Open in Melbourne Park

Anti-lockdown protesters gathered outside the Australian Open in Melbourne Park on Friday night, hours before the state’s “circuit breaker restrictions” kick in. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a five-day lockdown from 11.59pm on Friday until 11.59pm on Wednesday due to a “hyper-infectious” outbreak of COVID-19 cases at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport. Victoria Police were at the scene including a line of officers and some mounted officers as hundreds marched through the CBD.
13th Feb 2021 - NEWS.com.au

Scientist Warns Of New Covid Wave If UK Lockdown Is Lifted Too Quickly

Britain could face a coronavirus wave as big as the current one if lockdown restrictions are lifted too quickly, a scientist advising the UK government has said. Steven Riley, a member of the SPI-M modelling group, said that while the rollout of the vaccination programme had been "incredibly successful" it did not mean controls could simply be dropped. "No vaccine is perfect. We are certainly going to be in the situation where we can allow more infection in the community but there is a limit," he told the BBC Radio Today programme. "I think scientists are genuinely worried. We don't want to show that it is an excellent but not perfect vaccine by having another large wave in the UK. "Nearly 20% of the UK population is 65 years old or older. If you do some simple back of the envelope [calculations] for a vaccine that is very good but not perfect, there is the potential for another really substantial wave. That is not where we want to go in the short term.
13th Feb 2021 - London South East

This COVID-vaccine designer is tackling vaccine hesitancy — in churches and on Twitter

Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), is one of the scientists who in early 2020 helped to develop an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19. Developed in collaboration with biotech firm Moderna of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the vaccine is now being distributed across the United States and elsewhere. And Corbett is taking on another challenge: tempering vaccine hesitancy by talking about COVID-19 science in communities of colour. Corbett is one of many Black scientists and doctors who are doing this outreach, often virtually, in their free time. Researchers say it’s necessary to make scientific knowledge accessible in public forums, to ease health disparities.
13th Feb 2021 - Nature


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Feb 2021

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Biden says US faces ‘national emergency’ amid vaccine shortage

President Joe Biden said that the United States is facing a “national emergency” in the coronavirus pandemic and his administration is working to supply enough COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate 300 million Americans. “We’re in a national emergency,” said Biden, wearing a mask during remarks to scientists at the National Institutes of Health just outside Washington, DC on Thursday. “This will be one of the most difficult operational challenges we have ever undertaken as a nation. It’s going to take time,” Biden said. The US is on pace to exceed Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office, with more than 26 million shots delivered in his first three weeks. The 300 million doses would be delivered by the end of the US summer, Biden said. “We’re now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July,” he announced. Biden said the US coronavirus death toll is likely to reach 500,000 next month. He urged Americans to wear masks as a “patriotic duty” to prevent the spread.
12th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID-19: UK prepared for the wrong pandemic, former health secretary admits

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has admitted the UK had been concentrating all of its pandemic planning only on flu. Speaking on a Sky News' special programme, Covid Crisis: Learning the Lessons, Mr Hunt - Britain's longest ever serving health secretary - was candid. Asked if he felt he should take some responsibility for the off-target NHS planning, he replied: "Yes, I do.
11th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Venezuelan government and opposition begin talks on vaccine financing

Venezuelan government officials and opposition leaders have met to discuss buying coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX program using cash frozen in the United States by economic sanctions, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday. Opposition leader Juan Guaido last week said that Venezuelan funds controlled by the U.S. Treasury Department could be used to pay for vaccines. The cash-strapped government of President Nicolas Maduro has signed up for COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide vaccines globally, but has not made the associated payments. The meeting marks a step forward in what will likely be a long process requiring that U.S. authorities approve the use of the funds, as well as the completion of a vaccination roll-out plan for crisis-stricken Venezuela.
12th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Nigel Farage’s natural supporters won’t buy his lockdown sceptic party

Nigel Farage’s renamed party has a problem, in that it was formed to fight the lockdown, which is likely to be lifting, if not lifted, by the time of its first electoral test, the elections on 6 May. I wrote that on Tuesday, and now a new study suggests the problem for Reform UK is even more serious. Research by my colleagues at King’s College London suggests that Leave voters tend to support the lockdown as much as Remainers do. This seems surprising, because most leading lockdown sceptics are Brexiteers. Among public figures, the Venn diagram of Euroscepticism and lockdown scepticism seems to consist mostly of overlap.
11th Feb 2021 - The Independent

'Safety is very lax': staff tell of being forced into the office during UK's third lockdown

One in five employees are going into the workplace for part or all of their working week despite being able to do their job from home, according to a poll from the Trades Union Congress (TUC). We spoke to people who say their employers have been breaking Covid guidance by asking them to return to offices unnecessarily. None would agree to be named publicly for fear of losing their job. Thomas worked from home throughout the first lockdown but in September he was called back to his office. He was one of several staff who voiced concerns about spreading the virus. “Around September they asked HR to brief us on what would happen when we went back to the office. A lot of people on these calls said they were anxious and that they didn’t want to run the risk of catching anything.”
11th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

NHS workforce ‘on its knees’ – without ‘recuperation’ burnt-out staff will leave, warn leaders

The Government is being urged to have an “honest” conversation with the public. The sustained and constant pressure of the pandemic has left the NHS workforce “on its knees” and burnt-out staff will look to leave unless action is taken, warn senior NHS leaders. In a letter sent to the Prime Minister on Monday by the NHS Confederation, senior leaders from all parts of the NHS have issued several stark warnings alongside calling for a period of “recuperation” before returning to normal operations. With around 4.46 million patients awaiting routine surgery and up to 20% of the UK population needing mental health support, the Government is being urged to be “honest” about what the NHS can realistically deliver in the coming months to years.
11th Feb 2021 - Nursing Notes

Merkel Defends Extension of Germany COVID-19 Lockdown

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday defended her decision to extend the nation’s COVID-19 lockdown, saying the variant strains of the virus pose a threat and she does not want to make the mistakes that led to a second surge last year. Following a meeting Wednesday with Germany’s 16 state governors, Merkel announced they agreed to extend the current COVID-19 lockdown - due to expire Sunday - to March 7. Speaking to the Bundestag - the lower house of the German parliament – Merkel said they did not act fast enough in 2020 to prevent a second surge in infections late in the year, and as health officials now warn about the spread of more virulent variant COVID-19 strains in the country, she said they need to learn from their mistakes.
11th Feb 2021 - Voice of America


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th Feb 2021

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Leeds vaccine refusers speak on why they've decided to not have vital jab

Leeds residents have spoken out on their refusal to take the coronavirus vaccine once offered to them. A recent Leeds health watch survey found that only 77 per cent of people in the city would take the coronavirus vaccine, Leeds City Council has confirmed. In a press briefing held by Leeds City Council on last week to update the public on the city's continuing fight against Covid-19, the council confirmed it has now vaccinated over 100,000 people in Leeds. The Covid-19 vaccine has gone through rigorous testing to ensure it is safe, with extensive studies taking place before they are rolled out for public use. Approval for the vaccines we have are only given if the regulatory body is happy. It's an extremely regulated and safe process.
10th Feb 2021 - Leeds Live

Nearly 1 In 4 Republicans ‘Definitely’ Won’t Get Covid-19 Vaccine, Survey Finds

Some 23% of Republicans said they would “definitely” not get vaccinated, while another 21% said they “probably” won’t get the Covid-19 vaccine when it is made available to them. Four in ten non-college graduates also say they definitely or probably won’t get immunized. Only 7% of Democrats said they would refuse to be vaccinated, with 82% having already been vaccinated or planning to do so.
10th Feb 2021 - Forbes

Covid-19: Care homes 'given only 10% of required PPE', and pubs plead for opening date

Care home staff were not given personal protective equipment (PPE) early in the pandemic because the government prioritised the NHS, MPs have said. The Commons Public Accounts Committee said care homes received only a fraction of the PPE needed. Between March and July 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care provided NHS trusts with 1.9 billion items of PPE, the equivalent to 80% of estimated need. The adult social care sector was given 331 million items - just 10% of its need. At the same time, about 25,000 patients were discharged to care homes from hospitals without being tested for Covid-19. Last month, our political editor Laura Kuenssberg interviewed a care home owner who said Covid "hit the home like a missile" last year.
10th Feb 2021 - BBC News

Facebook and YouTube ban ‘Planet Lockdown’ film filled with coronavirus falsehoods, after it was shared by millions

While thousands of families grieved the loss of loved ones and the United States’ coronavirus death toll surpassed 350,000 in early January and continued to rise, a film parroting false claims about the pandemic began to spread to millions of social media users. The video, called “Planet Lockdown,” racked up more than 20 million views and engagements, according to the social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle, in late December and January. It went largely unnoticed by the social media platforms playing host to the misinformation until the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America published a detailed accounting of the film’s spread on Monday.
10th Feb 2021 - Washington Post

'Exercise in deliberate cruelty' Senior Tory aghast at lockdown restrictions

A senior Conservative MP has accused the Government of “ripping out” the goalposts on the timetable for lifting coronavirus restrictions in England. Sir Charles Walker, the vice chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee, criticised Transport Secretary Grant Shapps for his comments advising against booking holidays. Asked if he thought the goalposts had been moved, he told BBC Radio 4’s The World At One programme: “They have not so much moved as been ripped out and carried off to another playing field. It is just not acceptable behaviour. “This is becoming an extended exercise in almost studied and deliberate cruelty for a nation now that is increasingly anxious and under pressure. “People need to see their children, they need to see their parents, they need to see the people that they love, they need to have something to look forward to.”
10th Feb 2021 - Wales Online

UK autumn Covid lockdown 'too late', Professor Neil Ferguson says

Professor Ferguson, a former Sage adviser, urged ministers to learn lessons He added face masks and social distancing would likely be in place all year Ex-top adviser was sacked after breaking social distancing to see married lover
10th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

German anti-lockdown protests led to more coronavirus cases, study finds

Protests against the German government's coronavirus restrictions led to an increase in infections toward the end of the year, a study published on Tuesday has found. Since the summer, Germany has seen several major demonstrations against coronavirus measures, with participants often not respecting social-distancing and mask-wearing rules. The study, by the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) and the Humboldt University of Berlin, looked at two rallies organized by the so-called Querdenken group in November 2020 — in Berlin, which attracted more than 10,000 people, and in Leipzig, which was attended by some 20,000 people.
10th Feb 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Doctors on strike in Bolivia to force coronavirus lockdown

Health care workers in Bolivia's region worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic began a 48-hour strike on Tuesday to demand a lockdown to battle the rise in infections. Emergency services and hospitals attending Covid-19 patients are not striking but all other specialist medical care has been suspended, said Luis Aguilera, the region's medical college president. "Our leaders have not listened to the request to reduce the Covid-19 epidemiological curve," said Aguilera, who is demanding a region-wide lockdown.
10th Feb 2021 - FRANCE 24


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th Feb 2021

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COVID app triggers overdue debate on privacy in Singapore

For a country that prides itself on being on the cutting edge of high-tech governance, there has been little national discussion in Singapore on the balance between data collection and individual privacy. Now, COVID-19 has forced the conversation, after it was revealed that data from the government’s contact-tracing app, contrary to initial promises, could also be used for criminal investigations. The public backlash prompted the government to not only acknowledge that it had made a mistake but also to introduce new legislation to restrict the use of the data. Under the new amendments to the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, passed in the Singapore Parliament this month, personal data collected by digital pandemic contact-tracing programmes can only be used to contact trace, unless it is required by law enforcement for investigations into “serious offences”. Pritam Singh, the leader of the opposition, has called for an “immediate conversation” on the balance between individual privacy and the use of technology and data collection in Singapore.
10th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Anger grows at Israel’s ultra-Orthodox virus scofflaws, threatening rupture with secular Jews

As Israel endures its third national lockdown, social media has been inflamed by images of black-clad men brazenly crowding schools, weddings and other events, including 20,000 at a recent Jerusalem funeral of a leading rabbi. Secular critics have cast the ultra-Orthodox, fairly or not, as superspreaders supreme, a drag chute on the country’s race to vaccinate its way out of the coronavirus’s grip. The contentious relationship between public health officials and the Haredim goes back to the beginning of the pandemic. Most rabbinical leaders did obey early orders to close schools and synagogues, but only reluctantly, citing the central role of daily religious gatherings in Haredi life. As pandemic fatigue set in, defiance grew.
9th Feb 2021 - The Washington Post

Furious Tories savage Matt Hancock over 'forever lockdown'

Furious Tories savaged Matt Hancock over a 'forever lockdown' today after the Health Secretary warned border restrictions may need to stay until autumn — despite figures showing the UK's epidemic is firmly in retreat. Lockdown-sceptic backbenchers took aim at Mr Hancock when he unveiled the latest squeeze aimed at preventing mutant coronavirus strains getting into the country. Meanwhile, the Department of Health announced 12,364 more coronavirus cases and 1,052 deaths in the past 24 hours as the winter wave continues to be brought under control during lockdown.
9th Feb 2021 - MSN.com

NHS 'nothing special' during pandemic and does not deserve 'adulation' claims free-market think tank

In the UK, the NHS's performance during the coronavirus pandemic has been 'nothing special' and many countries without similar public healthcare have performed better, a think tank claimed today. The Institute for Economic Affairs said 'there is no rational basis for the adulation the NHS is currently receiving' as it attacked 'confirmation bias' on both sides of the political spectrum. In a new report it accused politicians across the board of trying to fit the pandemic into their pre-existing world-view.
9th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail

Wealthy German high-tech hub doubles as anti-vaxxer base

Christoph Hueck illustrates the challenge Germany faces in rolling out a mass vaccination campaign to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. A scientist living in a wealthy, high-tech region, he does not plan to have any of the shots on offer. “I will not get vaccinated,” Hueck, a molecular geneticist who authored a string of immunology papers before changing careers, told Reuters with a smile. Now 59, he trains teachers for the Waldorf schools inspired by esoteric thinker Rudolf Steiner, which began in Stuttgart. He has also addressed several anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protests, although he does not reject vaccines altogether.
9th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Mexico president refuses face mask after Covid-19 recovery

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday said he would not wear a face mask after his recovery from Covid-19, in spite of widespread support from top officials and the public for the measure. In his first news conference since testing positive for Covid-19 on January 24, Lopez Obrador brushed aside repeated questions from reporters about whether he would wear a mask to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. “No, no,” the president said. “Additionally, according to what the doctors say, now I’m not contagious.”
9th Feb 2021 - South China Morning Post

Revealed: UK Covid contact tracers working from abroad

Some contact tracers working on the UK’s test and trace system are thought to have been working from abroad, the Guardian has learned, with one company resorting to tracking its employees’ locations. Intelling, hired through outsourcing firm Serco and employing about 500 staff members, makes its workers turn on “geo-tracking” owing to concerns that some have been doing their job remotely from overseas. The Guardian was shown a presentation sent to workers at the company about working from home, which includes information for tracers about how to use geo-tracking, which ensures staff are working from a UK IP address. According to NHS professionals, the health service’s job portal, clinical contact tracers “must be based in the UK to work”.
9th Feb 2021 - The Guardian

Ghana Parliament shuts down over COVID outbreak among MPs, staff

Ghana’s Parliament has shut down for at least three weeks over a surge in coronavirus cases among lawmakers and staff. At least 17 members of parliament and 151 support staff have been infected with the coronavirus, which had already forced lawmakers to limit their assembly meetings. The speaker of the house, Alban Bagbin, announced on Tuesday that the legislature would be in recess until March 2 to make way for “disinfection and sanitisation of the premises”. “I have, in consultation with leadership, decided that sitting of the House be adjourned for three weeks,” said Bagbin, adding that Parliament’s appointments committee would continue to meet to consider the ministerial nominees of President Nana Akufo-Addo, who was re-elected in December. The West African country has reported 73,003 coronavirus cases, including 482 deaths, since the pandemic began.
9th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Russia, China expanding Middle East sway with COVID-19 vaccines

Russian and Chinese COVID-19 vaccines are being embraced by many countries in the Middle East – not just by those hostile to the United States, but also by its allies. Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait purchased US vaccines, claiming their efficacy rate is higher, and Iraq has ordered vaccines from the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca and the US’s Pfizer. But the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt, and Turkey have signed up for vaccines from Moscow and Beijing as well buying US vaccines, while Iran and the Palestinian Authority are relying on Russian and Chinese jabs only. Iran’s economy has struggled since the US reimposed sanctions on it under former President Donald Trump and the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a diktat against the use of US and UK vaccines. Sputnik V was approved under special emergency-use authorization and Iran began rolling it out on Tuesday.
9th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Feb 2021

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Facebook cracks down on anti-vaccine accounts amid COVID surge

Facebook Inc. said it will take stronger steps to eliminate false information about Covid-19 and vaccines on its social network, a move that could remove major groups, accounts and Instagram pages for repeatedly spreading misinformation. The company is acting on advice from the World Health Organization and other groups to expand its list of false claims that are harmful, according to a blog post on Monday. Facebook will ask administrators of user groups to moderate such misinformation. Facebook-owned Instagram will also make it harder to find accounts that discourage vaccination, and remove them if they continuously violate the rules. The company this week will also include in its Covid-19 information center details from local health departments about when and where people can get vaccinated. If Facebook’s systems come across content that says the coronavirus is man-made or manufactured, that it is safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine, or that the shots are toxic, dangerous or cause autism, that content will be removed.
9th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

How Australia beat COVID-19 while the United States and Britain broke

Australia is a fortress of hope in a world conquered by COVID-19. But, even as vaccines raise the prospect of relief, the siege is growing stronger. And the cracks in our defences are growing. Incompetence. Hesitance. Partisan politics. All are being blamed across the world for overwhelmed health systems, stalled economies and soaring death rates. Australia has dodged these bullets. So far.
8th Feb 2021 - News.com.au

Britain is under lockdown. But one year into the Covid crisis, many are unable to keep to the rules

Breaches of self-isolation rules are rampant across the UK. Up to 20,000 people a day are failing to stay home when instructed to, according to Dido Harding, who is in charge of the country's coronavirus Test and Trace scheme. "These numbers are moving a lot," Harding told a parliamentary committee this week, adding that "circa 20,000 people a day" were currently not isolating. Harding said she was also concerned about people who were experiencing symptoms but had avoided being tested. For the British government, the lack of compliance is a significant worry.
8th Feb 2021 - CNN

Greek PM accused of flaunting lockdown rules

Greece's left-wing opposition leader has accused the country's prime minister of showing contempt for lockdown rules after attending a large outdoor lunch gathering. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on a weekend visit to the Greek island of Ikaria attended an outdoor lunch hosted by a local lawmaker. A video of the event posted on social media showed at least 25 people in attendance, while traditional island music, with drums and bagpipes, could be heard in the background. The government toughened lockdown measures at the weekend, expanding curfew hours to start at 6 pm in greater Athens and Greece''s second-largest city, Thessaloniki, in response to a surge in COVID-19 infections that started in late January.
8th Feb 2021 - Outlook India

COVID-19: NHS staff fall victim to anti-Chinese hate crimes - amid fears violence will rise when lockdown ends

Police chiefs have warned they will "respond robustly" to anti-Chinese hate crimes amid concerns there could be a surge in offences once lockdown ends. The COVID-19 Anti-Racism Group (CARG) has told Sky News it is witnessing worrying levels of hate speech online linked to the pandemic - and it fears this will turn into violence when coronavirus restrictions are eased. One Chinese health worker told the survey: "Patients and people in general say that COVID-19 originated from China and that being of Chinese descent is culpable for the pandemic."
8th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Man charged with incitement over lockdown protest wants case heard in higher court

A 76-year-old man charged with inciting an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne during Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19 has argued his case should be heard in the High Court of Australia. Solihin Millin was arrested on August 28 last year and charged with incitement over a “freedom rally” protest against Victoria’s lockdown restrictions held at the Shrine of Remembrance and Albert Park on September 5. Police raided his home and seized multiple items including two laptops, a computer and two mobile phones.
8th Feb 2021 - The Age


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Swiss march in lakeside tax haven to protest COVID-19 lockdown

Some 500 protesters marched through the Swiss tax haven of Zug on Saturday, wearing white protective suits and chanting dystopian slogans to voice displeasure with rules aimed at limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The demonstration was reminiscent of a rally a week ago in Vienna, where thousands opposed to that country’s even-stricter lockdown faced off against police. Though Switzerland’s restrictions have been less severe than those in Germany, Austria or Italy -- restaurants and non-essential shops are closed but ski areas are open -- there is still a steady buzz of opposition. In Zug, police watched but did not intervene as a group of protesters filed from the train station to the centre of the lakeside city known for shell companies with letter-box addresses and attractive tax rates.
7th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Too soon to end German lockdown, says Bavarian leader Soeder

It is too soon for Germany to lift its lockdown without risking a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Bavarian premier Markus Soeder said on Sunday, ahead of a crunch meeting to review the restrictions aimed at stemming the pandemic. Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states are due to meet virtually on Wednesday to discuss whether to ease the restrictions from Feb. 15, or extend a lockdown that began in mid-December. “I think, basically, the lockdown will have to be extended for the time being,” Soeder told broadcaster ARD.
7th Feb 2021 - Reuters

COVID-19: 'I'll wait for the English vaccine' - How 'nationalism' is affecting the fight against coronavirus

As 2020 drew to close after a tumultuous year, Boris Johnson was in celebratory mood as the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for use in the UK. "It is truly fantastic news - and a triumph for British science," the prime minister tweeted on 30 December. Health Secretary Matt Hancock was also keen to emphasise the UK's role in the newly-approved coronavirus vaccine, hailing it as "a huge British success story".
6th Feb 2021 - Sky News

Fretful Boris Johnson plays it safe on lifting Covid-19 lockdown

Any day now a folder will land on Boris Johnson’s desk. Inside will be longed-for data that will determine the nature of the next six months and very possibly his entire political legacy. Public Health England’s best assessment of the effectiveness of the vaccination programme so far will in effect set the parameters for the nation’s exit from lockdown. The assessment shows the jabs are working as expected in protecting people from infection. It may also show encouraging signs on transmission as well as early real-world data on reduced mortality and hospital admissions. If so the prime minister can plot a spring unlocking and promise a glorious summer.
6th Feb 2021 - The Times

Science Not Politics: How Dr. Rochelle Walensky is Saving the CDC

There’s no doubt that Walensky, 51, has the scientific and intellectual chops for her new job. Besides her now-former position at Mass General, the teaching hospital of Harvard, she is a prolific author of papers on the epidemiology of HIV and, at 43, was among the youngest women ever promoted to full professor at Harvard Medical School. As Julie Gerberding, M.D.—who led the CDC from 2002 to 2009—says, “Her credentials and reputation are impeccable. It’s clear that the Biden administration played an ace in this decision.”
5th Feb 2021 - Vogue

Nadhim Zahawi: Coronavirus vaccine refuseniks face visit from the persuaders

People who have not accepted vaccination offers could get knocks on the door from council staff in an attempt to convince sceptics “home by home”, the vaccines minister has suggested. Nadhim Zahawi said the NHS was already trying to “identify to individual level the people that we need to reach” to ensure that all over-70s had a chance to get a jab by February 15.
5th Feb 2021 - The Times

‘Like going to war’: Life and death on a Covid intensive care ward

On the intensive care ward of Northwick Park Hospital in north London, physiotherapist Mirko Vracar stands among dozens of coronavirus patients, surrounded by a cacophony of beeping alarms and hissing machinery. The patients lie comatose, ventilators breathing for them, while doctors and nurses speak in urgent, hushed tones, their voices muffled behind masks. For Mirko, redeployed to help the overstretched staff, the work is difficult and the stakes could not be higher. Since Christmas he has spent five days a week on these wards, working in a team that “prones” these patients – moving them on to their fronts so their Covid-ravaged lungs can breathe a little easier. They do this as many as 25 times a shift.
5th Feb 2021 - The Independent

AP analysis: Federal executions likely a COVID superspreader

As the Trump administration was nearing the end of an unprecedented string of executions, 70% of death row inmates were sick with COVID-19. Guards were ill. Traveling prisons staff on the execution team had the virus. So did media witnesses, who may have unknowingly infected others when they returned home because they were never told about the spreading cases. Records obtained by The Associated Press show employees at the Indiana prison complex where the 13 executions were carried out over six months had contact with inmates and other people infected with the coronavirus, but were able to refuse testing and declined to participate in contact tracing efforts and were still permitted to return to their work assignments.
5th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Turkey Uighurs fear sellout to China in exchange for vaccine

Abdullah Metseydi, a Uighur in Turkey, was readying for bed last month when he heard commotion, then pounding on the door. “Police! Open the door!” A dozen or more officers poured in, many bearing guns and wearing the camouflage of Turkey’s anti-terror force. They asked if Metseydi had participated in any movements against China and threatened to deport him and his wife. They took him to a deportation facility, where he now sits at the center of a brewing political controversy. Opposition legislators in Turkey are accusing Ankara’s leaders of secretly selling out Uighurs to China in exchange for coronavirus vaccines. Tens of millions of vials of promised Chinese vaccines have not yet been delivered. Meanwhile, in recent months, Turkish police have raided and detained around 50 Uighurs in deportation centers, lawyers say — a sharp uptick from last year.
5th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Burundi says it doesn't need COVID-19 vaccines, at least yet

Burundi has become at least the second African country to say it doesn’t need COVID-19 vaccines, even as doses finally begin to arrive on the continent that’s seeing a deadly resurgence in cases. The health minister of the East African nation, Thaddee Ndikumana, told reporters on Thursday evening that prevention is more important, and “since more than 95% of patients are recovering, we estimate that the vaccines are not yet necessary.” The minister spoke while announcing new measures against the pandemic. The country closed its land and water borders last month. It now has well over 1,600 confirmed coronavirus cases.
5th Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Coronavirus in Tanzania: The country that's rejecting the vaccine

For months Tanzania's government has insisted the country was free from Covid-19 - so there are no plans for vaccination. The BBC's Dickens Olewe has spoken to one family mourning the death of a husband and father suspected of having had the disease. The fear is that amid the denial, there are many more unacknowledged victims of this highly contagious virus. A week after Peter - not his real name - arrived home from work with a dry cough and loss of taste, he was taken to hospital, where he died within hours. He had not been tested for Covid. But then, according to Tanzania's government, which has not published data on the coronavirus for months, the country is "Covid-19-free". There is little testing and no plans for a vaccination programme in the East African country.
5th Feb 2021 - BBC News

London COVID-19 jabs skewed to younger patients amid vaccine hesitancy fears

London has delivered a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to nearly twice the proportion of patients aged 70-74 as the rest of England, but remains well behind other regions on vaccinating over-80s.
5th Feb 2021 - GP Online

One in four Americans say they will NEVER get a COVID-19 vaccine

Monmouth University polled 809 Americans about their attitudes toward the pandemic and the US response. More than half of respondents said they will get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. But nearly a quarter said they would likely never get a shot if they didn't have to. Republicans were 10-times more likely than Democrats to refuse vaccination. Mistrust is among the issues holding up the US vaccine rollout which has seen just 8.2% of the population get one or more doses Both vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer are safe and at least 94% effective
5th Feb 2021 - Daily Mail


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Wisconsin governor clashes with lawmakers over statewide mask mandate to curb coronavirus

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers renewed his statewide mask-wearing mandate on Thursday, defying votes by the Republican-controlled legislature to repeal his earlier order requiring face coverings in public spaces to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The governor issued his latest decree of a public health emergency hours after the state Assembly voted 52-42 to end his previous mask mandate, adopting a resolution the Senate approved a week ago. Seven Republicans in the Assembly joined the body’s entire Democratic caucus on Thursday in opposing the repeal. The showdown followed months of rancor and legal battles between Evers, a Democrat elected in 2018, and the Republican-dominated legislature over a series of restrictions he has imposed on social and business life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
5th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Cuomo hit with lawsuit over Covid-19 vaccinations for inmates

Public defenders filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday, seeking to force him to allow prisoners to get the Covid-19 vaccine. Two men currently locked up at Rikers Island who want to get vaccinated are named as plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, brought on behalf of everyone incarcerated at Rikers and other city jails. Legal advocates have demanded that Cuomo allow access to the shot behind bars, where the coronavirus is raging, but the state so far has not budged on expanding eligibility.
4th Feb 2021 - Politico

Tory lockdown-sceptic chair pushes for all Covid-19 restrictions to be lifted by end of May

The Chair of a Tory lockdown-sceptic group has urged ministers to lift all Covid-19 restrictions by the end of May. Mark Harper, who chairs the Covid Recovery Group (CRG), which is made up of lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs, aid he thought the Government could "get rid of restrictions completely" by the end of May. But it comes amid fears the virus could still go through some communities "like wildfire" - as take-up of vaccinations in some hotspots was as little as 50%. And while Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said last night that the UK was probably past the peak of infections, he said they remain "incredibly high" - and could rise quickly - plunging the NHS "back into trouble extraordinarily fast".
4th Feb 2021 - Daily Mirror

U.S. Senate Democrats push ahead on road to new COVID-19 relief

The U.S. Senate, in the throes of a marathon debate over the shape of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid plan, voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to exclude upper-income Americans from a new round of direct payments to help stimulate the economy. By a vote of 99-1, the Senate approved an amendment recommending that high-income earners not qualify for a new round of government checks that could amount to $1,400 for individuals. Republican Senator Rand Paul was the lone dissenter. Details of the income cap would still have to be worked out in subsequent legislation. “The decent compassionate thing is for us to target the relief to our neighbors who are struggling every day to get by” during the coronavirus pandemic, said Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, author of the proposal.
4th Feb 2021 - Reuters

Philippines Vaccine Scandal

How the consequences of a 2016 dengue vaccination drive caused controversy and led to lasting fears among Filipinos. When the Philippines rolled out a vaccine to protect against the mosquito-borne virus, dengue, in 2016, it marked a world first. But within months, parents claimed their children had died due to the vaccine, and the programme was cancelled.
4th Feb 2021 - Aljazeera.com


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Guaido: Maduro refuses to access US-held funds to buy vaccines

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Wednesday that Venezuelan funds controlled by the United States Treasury Department could be used to pay for coronavirus vaccines but that President Nicolas Maduro’s government is refusing to cooperate. The government has not accepted an implementation plan laid out by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that would enable Venezuela to join the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) programme, and has not fulfilled a prior deal regarding distribution of COVID-19 tests.
4th Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

New U.S. transportation chief optimistic about future of travel despite COVID-19

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday he was “deeply optimistic” about the future of travel despite the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on airlines, airports, transit systems and road use. The pandemic has sent tens of millions of workers home for months, slashed tourism and business travel demand and placed significant burdens on transportation services to deliver packages, vaccines and other critical goods. Much of the nation’s travel sector is again asking Congress for a new round of emergency funding. “We will break new ground in ensuring that our economy recovers and rebuilds, in rising to the climate challenge, and in making sure transportation is an engine for equity in this country,” said Buttigieg, who was sworn in Wednesday, in an email to staff.
4th Feb 2021 - Reuters

UK compromising Covid-19 vaccine safety, says Ursula von der Leyen

Britain failed its “gigantic responsibility” to ensure the proper safety of vaccines and the European Union should be proud of its strategy, Ursula von der Leyen said today.Amid growing criticism of
3rd Feb 2021 - The Times

Covid: 'Not practical' to close UK borders, says Boris Johnson

It is "not practical" to completely close the UK's borders given the amount of medicines and food imported into the country, the prime minister has said. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for tougher restrictions to prevent new coronavirus variants entering the UK. Boris Johnson said the government had already tightened travel restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus. He said it would be going ahead with its plan for quarantine hotels for people arriving from Covid hotspots. It is not yet clear when the scheme - announced a week ago - will start or when there will be further details. Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, Sir Keir said government scientists had recommended "a complete pre-emptive closure of borders".
3rd Feb 2021 - BBC News

COVID-19: Chinese police break up group selling fake vaccines to other countries

More than 80 suspected members of a criminal group that was manufacturing and selling fake COVID-19 vaccines - including to other countries - have been arrested in China. Police in the capital Beijing, as well as in Jiangsu and Shandong provinces, broke up the group which was producing a simple saline solution that was being sold as fake vaccines. According to state media, the group - led by a suspect with the surname Kong - had been active since last September and the false jabs were being sold in China and abroad.
3rd Feb 2021 - Sky News


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Farmers sue state over COVID-19 rules for migrant workers

Two farm groups are suing the state of Washington for failing to revise emergency regulations that seek to protect migrant farmworkers from the COVID-19 virus. The groups filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Yakima County Superior Court. It seeks to invalidate the recently renewed rules as arbitrary, capricious and not feasible. “We’re disappointed we had to take this step, but our farms are on the line and we had no other choice,” said John Stuhlmiller, chief executive officer of the Washington Farm Bureau. The state Department of Health renewed the emergency rules, first adopted last spring, for the third time on Jan. 8. In addition, Gov. Jay Inslee last month rejected the two groups’ request to repeal and revise the rules.
2nd Feb 2021 - Associated Press

Illegal religious schools exploiting ‘loopholes’ to teach full classes during lockdown

Humanists UK said unregistered Charedi Jewish schools were exploiting legal loopholes to teach packed classes during the lockdown. Unregistered illegal religious schools are continuing to operate during lockdown, sparking concerns about the health of pupils and the wider community, I can reveal. Humanists UK said it had received a number of reports from community insiders and local residents that unregistered Orthodox Charedi Jewish schools are continuing to teach full classes at various locations in the Stamford Hill area of Hackney, London
2nd Feb 2021 - iNews

Emergency UK funding failing to reach Covid-hit companies

Small businesses are missing out on millions of pounds of emergency grants promised by the UK government as long ago as November, sparking warnings that many will not survive unless access to this cash is unlocked. Councils have been struggling to distribute the money, including a share of £12bn worth of support first offered last year according to the Local Government Association, due to the volume of paperwork and changes to lockdown regulations. There have been 10 different tranches of funding to sustain small businesses without the cash reserves or covenants of larger companies through local tier restrictions established in October and the one month lockdown for England that ran from November 5. The schemes also cover support for different regional restrictions in December and the current lockdown in England, which is expected to run until at least February 22.
2nd Feb 2021 - Financial Times

Poland: Rebellion against coronavirus lockdowns

“It’s nice to eat out again,” said one diner. “We were very lucky to get a table,” said another. This is how guests described on Facebook their visit to the Goraleczka restaurant in the southern Polish town of Zakopane over the weekend. Restaurant owner Marek Lopata was one of the first restaurant owners in Poland to join the #WeOpenUp (#OtwieraMY) campaign and open his popular ski resort eatery — despite coronavirus restrictions. “Our income has been at zero since the end of October,” he told DW. He said the situation had reached the point where he was forced to think about laying off staff, a move that “would break me mentally.”
2nd Feb 2021 - The Indian Express

Covid lockdown: I am not a 'murderer' for questioning the restrictions and highlighting the damage done to mental health – Michelle Ballantyne MSP

One recent morning, when I switched on my phone, the first message I saw was from a colleague advising that one of their apprentices had taken his own life, he was 21. That is the second time I have woken up to the news of the suicide of a young person since the lockdowns began. By 11am another two suicides of family friends had been communicated. I feel numb with despair for what is happening. Fear without hope is overwhelming and for young people we are seeing a rise in mental health problems that is unprecedented.
2nd Feb 2021 - The Scotsman

Mapping coronavirus anti-lockdown protests around the world

Since the start of 2021, a growing number of countries have seen street demonstrations, some of which have turned violent, against government measures implemented to fight COVID-19. Over the same period, nearly 100 countries have imposed nationwide lockdowns or stay-at-home orders, nearly one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
2nd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Europol warns travellers over fake Covid-19 vaccine certificates

The EU's police agency on Monday warned travellers to watch for organised crime gangs selling fake Covid-negative certificates at airports, sometimes for as much as 300 euros each. The warning from Europol comes after police busted several suspects selling forged certificates declaring people Covid-19 negative at airports in Britain and France, online and through mobile messaging chat groups in Spain and the Netherlands. Many EU countries and others now require proof that passengers are not infected by the disease, which has killed more than 2.2 million people around the world. Many EU countries and others now require proof that passengers are not infected by the disease, which has killed more than 2.2 million people around the world. "As long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic, it is very likely that criminals will seize the opportunity of producing and selling fake Covid-19 test certificates," Europol said
2nd Feb 2021 - France24


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Brazil’s COVID-19 catastrophe: nothing less than criminal

On January 17, weeks after other countries in Latin America and around the world began their mass inoculation campaigns, Brazil finally administered its first COVID-19 jab in the state of Sao Paulo using the CoronaVac vaccine developed by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac. That first jab was one of the 6 million doses imported by the state-funded Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo, which helped develop the vaccine. A few days later on January 23, the federally funded Fiocruz Institute announced that it received two million ready-to-use doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from India and started distributing them across the country. Since then, over one million Brazilians have been vaccinated against the deadly virus.
2nd Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

For France's lockdown rebels, defiance is a dish best served to many

Mask tucked under his chin, France’s lockdown rebel seems a touch overwhelmed by all the attention. Since defying the law and serving lunch to more than 50 diners at his Nice restaurant last week, Christophe Wilson has been inundated with messages on social media from supporters hailing him as a hero. On the downside, however, he had to spend a night in the cells after police found irregularities with the papers of Moussa, the chef from the Ivory Coast who cooked the lockdown-busting déjeuner. As I enter the scene of the crime — the terrace of Poppies restaurant brasserie, now deserted — I find Wilson, 50, behind the bar, serving only takeaways.
1st Feb 2021 - The Times

'We've had enough': In France, Spain and Denmark, anti-lockdown protests continue

Marches to denounce COVID-19 restrictions put in place by various government have been taking place in cities across Europe. An authorized protest in support of culture workers quickly turned into a rave in the centre of Perpignan on Saturday, with about 200 maskless party-goers at the height of the demonstration. The open-air disco, which even had a sound system installed on a podium, was over by the early evening. The group "Men in Black" chanted "Freedom for Denmark. We`ve had enough," as they protested in Aarhus.
1st Feb 2021 - Euronews

Dutch police disperse crowd, arrest 30 in bid to prevent repeat of anti-lockdown riots

Around 30 people were arrested in Amsterdam when police disbursed a protest against coronavirus lockdown measures on Sunday, as authorities sought to prevent a repeat of riots that raged across Dutch cities for three days last week. Police said they had sent home around 600 people who had flouted social distancing rules and ignored a nationwide ban on public gatherings by assembling in Amsterdam’s central Museumplein on Sunday afternoon. There were no reports of violent incidents by late afternoon on Sunday. The addition of a nighttime curfew to an already broad lockdown triggered last week’s violent demonstrations. Shops were looted in several cities and 500 people were arrested.
1st Feb 2021 - Reuters

Oxford-AstraZeneca volunteers kept in dark about dosing error

About 1,500 of the initial volunteers in a late-stage clinical trial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine were given the wrong dose, but were not informed that a mistake had been made after the blunder was discovered, documents obtained by Reuters news agency show. Instead, the dosing mishap was presented to the trial participants in a letter dated June 8 as an opportunity for University of Oxford researchers to learn how well the vaccine works at different doses. The letter was signed by the trial’s chief investigator, Oxford professor Andrew Pollard, and sent to the trial subjects. As Reuters reported on December 24, participants were given about a half-dose due to a measuring mistake by Oxford researchers. The Pollard letter did not acknowledge any error. Nor did it disclose that researchers had reported the issue to British medical regulators, who then told Oxford to add another test group to receive the full dose, in line with the trial’s original plan. There is no suggestion there was any risk to the health of trial participants. Much is riding on the British-developed vaccine, which is being rolled out across the UK and has been touted as a low-cost weapon against the pandemic. The jab has come under scrutiny because of the dosing error in the Oxford trial and a paucity of data about its efficacy in older people who are most vulnerable to the virus.
1st Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English


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More Brazil protests against Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 response

Protesters in Brazil rallied for the second straight weekend in multiple cities to demand the resignation of President Jair Bolsonaro for his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two hundred people protested on Sunday in Brasilia, the capital, holding signs and banners reading, “Bolsonaro Out” and “Impeachment Now”, while a procession of cars honked their horns in support. Other demonstrations were also held in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
1st Feb 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Anti-vaccine protesters temporarily shut down major coronavirus vaccine site

One of the largest vaccination sites in America briefly shut down Saturday afternoon because maskless, anti-vaccine protesters blocked the entrance, officials said. For nearly an hour, thousands of motorists in line to get a coronavirus vaccine shot at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, were stalled as about 50 people demonstrating against immunization efforts caused officials to temporarily close the site's gates, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman David Ortiz told The Washington Post. The protest had no impact on the number of shots given Saturday at the site, which can vaccinate 8,000 people a day, Ortiz said. No arrests were made, according to police. The protesters, members of anti-vaccine and far-right groups, organized online, according to The Los Angeles Times
31st Jan 2021 - The Independent

Hundreds arrested at anti-lockdown demonstration in Brussels

Police arrested more than 300 people demonstrating in central Brussels on Sunday against measures to curb rising infections of the coronavirus, according to local media. Both Bruzz and Le Soir reported the arrests occurred as police broke up demonstrations around Brussels’ central train station and the Mont des Arts area. No charges have been so far reported. Sunday’s crowds were made up of both Dutch- and French-speaking demonstrators, which included Yellow Vest protesters and football supporters, a police spokesman told Bruzz.
31st Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Thousands protest in Vienna as far-right march on COVID measures banned

Thousands of protesters faced off with police in riot gear in Vienna on Sunday at the site of a banned far-right demonstration against coronavirus restrictions. Vienna police banned numerous protests planned for this weekend, including one by the far-right Freedom Party on Sunday, on the grounds that protesters have generally failed to observe rules on social distancing and often not worn face masks. Since Dec. 26, Austria has been in its third national lockdown, with non-essential shops and many other businesses closed and their staff unable to work. The opposition Freedom Party has denounced various restrictions as “corona madness” and its leaders have sent mixed messages on issues such as vaccinations.
31st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Hungarians protest against lockdown measures despite gathering ban

Restaurant workers were among hundreds of people protesting against coronavirus lockdown measures on Sunday in Budapest, and at least 100 restaurants planned to re-open even as the government threatened them with heavy fines. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has said it could only start easing the measures if the number of coronavirus cases falls sharply, or if large numbers of Hungarians are inoculated. Hungary became first in the EU this week to sign a deal for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID vaccine and Chinese Sinopharm’s vaccine. nL1N2K40FS. Current lockdown measures include a night curfew and closing secondary schools, and all restaurants and cafes, except for takeaway meals.
31st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Trump officials actively lobbied to deny states money for vaccine rollout last fall

Top Trump officials actively lobbied Congress to deny state governments any extra funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout last fall — despite frantic warnings from state officials that they didn’t have the money they needed to ramp up a massive vaccination operation. The push, described to STAT by congressional aides in both parties and openly acknowledged by one of the Trump officials, came from multiple high-ranking Trump health officials in repeated meetings with legislators. Without the extra money, states spent last October and November rationing the small pot of federal dollars they had been given. And when vaccines began shipping in December, states seemed woefully underprepared.
31st Jan 2021 - STAT News

COVID-19: Tory MP who said NHS figures were being 'manipulated' refuses to apologise

A Tory MP who told anti-vaccination campaigners to "persist" in protesting lockdown and that NHS capacity figures were being "manipulated" to exaggerate the scale of the pandemic has refused to apologise for his remarks. Sir Desmond Swayne said the comments, made in November to Save Our Rights UK and obtained by Sky News, were "perfectly legitimate at the time" and he accepts that the COVID-19 situation "has changed entirely with the new variant".
30th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Lift lockdown once most vulnerable are vaccinated, urges senior Tory

The leader of the influential group of Tory MPs pressuring prime minister Boris Johnson over the UK’s Covid lockdown said on Friday that all restrictions should be eased once the most vulnerable groups had been vaccinated. Mark Harper, who chairs the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs, told the Financial Times’ Payne’s Politics podcast that politicians rather than scientists should determine the risk to society from the virus after everyone aged 50 and over has received the vaccine. “I think once you vaccinated certainly the top nine groups, and you’ve reduced 99 per cent of those that have died from Covid, and to reduce the level of hospitalisation by 80 per cent, it seems to me at that point, you’d struggle to make an argument for having any restrictions in place at all,” he said.
30th Jan 2021 - The Financial Times

Scores of foreigners breach lockdown rules at Austrian ski resort

Austrian police have found 96 foreigners from across Europe at a ski resort in breach of pandemic-related rules on entering the country and the national lockdown. The mayor of St Anton, one of Austria’s top resorts, said this week that dozens of young tourists from across Europe had recently come to his town and circumvented lockdown rules under which ski lifts are open but hotels are closed to tourists. “Among others Britons, Danes, Swedes, Romanians, Germans, Australians, Irish people and Poles were checked and fined,” the police force of the western province of Tyrol said in a statement on Friday night. The operation was carried out on Friday evening by 15 officers. Those found in breach face fines of up to €2,180(£1,931), the statement said.
30th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Austria finds 96 foreigners in breach of lockdown rules at top ski resort

Austrian police have found 96 foreigners from across Europe at the ski resort of St Anton am Arlberg in breach of pandemic-related rules on entering the country and the national lockdown.
30th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca

Following the renewed request from the European Commission on 27 January 2021, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to publish the redacted contract signed between the two parties on 27 August 2020. The Commission welcomes the company's commitment towards more transparency in its participation in the rollout of the EU Vaccines Strategy. Transparency and accountability are important to help build the trust of European citizens and to make sure that they can rely on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines purchased at the EU level. The Commission hopes to be able to publish all contracts under the Advance Purchase Agreements in the near future.
30th Jan 2021 - EU News

EU vaccine export row: Bloc backtracks on controls for NI

The EU has reversed its decision to temporarily override part of the Brexit deal amid an ongoing row over Covid vaccine supplies in the bloc. The move would have seen checks at the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland to prevent shipments entering the UK. But the European Commission later said it would ensure the Northern Ireland Protocol is "unaffected". Boris Johnson had expressed "grave concerns" about the plan in a phone call with the commission's president. President Ursula von der Leyen later tweeted to say she had held "constructive talks" with the prime minister. She said they had "agreed on the principle that there should not be restrictions on the export of vaccines by companies where they are fulfilling contractual responsibilities".
30th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Explainer: what is article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol?

Under Brexit’s Northern Ireland protocol, all products are normally permitted to be exported from the EU to Northern Ireland without checks, as NI remains in the single market for goods and continues to operate under EU custom rules. The protocol was a resolution to the sticky Irish border question and was designed to avoid a return of checkpoints along the politically sensitive frontier and minimise potential disruption of cross-border trade. However, amid a row over vaccine delivery shortfalls, the EU has invoked article 16 of the NI protocol which allows the EU or UK to unilaterally suspend aspects of its operations if either side considers that aspect to be causing “economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.
29th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

EU stands its ground in vaccine row, says AstraZeneca contract 'crystal clear'

The European Union stood its ground in a row with AstraZeneca over COVID-19 vaccine supplies on Friday, pressing the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker to deliver the doses as promised in its contract. The EU, whose member states are far behind Israel, Britain and the United States in rolling out vaccines, is scrambling to get supplies just as the West’s biggest drugmakers slow deliveries to the bloc due to production problems. AstraZeneca said last week it would cut deliveries in the first quarter due to production issues at a Belgian factory. An EU official said that meant the EU would receive 31 million doses in the period, or 60% less than initially agreed. In a bid to break the deadlock, AstraZeneca offered 8 million more doses of its shot to the EU, but the bloc said that was too far short of what was originally promised, an EU official told Reuters.
29th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Canadian airlines to cancel Mexico, Caribbean flights amid vaccine shortfall

Canada’s major airlines have agreed to suspend all flights to Mexico and the Caribbean for three months starting on Sunday as the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout suffered another setback, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. All airline passengers arriving from abroad will also be required to take a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport and wait in a hotel for up to three days at their own expense until the results arrive, Trudeau said. “Now is just not the time to be flying,” the prime minister told reporters. Trudeau also said Moderna Inc’s next delivery would be almost a quarter smaller than expected.
29th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Covid-19 vaccine chaos as EU is forced into U-turn after blocking supplies to the North

The EU has backtracked on a decision to block vaccines being transported into Northern Ireland. The move followed hours of diplomatic chaos after it emerged the EU triggered an article of the Northern Protocol which introduce check on good entering Northern Ireland. This would have allowed EU authorities stop the importation of vaccines manufactured on the continent entering Northern Ireland.
29th Jan 2021 - Independent.ie

UK restricts COVID medicine exports amid AstraZeneca vaccine fight

The U.K. placed a series of export restrictions last year on around 100 medicines that could be used to treat COVID-19 patients despite criticizing others for considering similar limits on vaccines. In response to a question from POLITICO, Prime Minister Boris Johnson chastised the EU at a press conference in Downing Street Tuesday for considering putting restrictions on the export of coronavirus vaccines — calling such curbs "nonsensical." His comments follow increasingly heated rhetoric from the European Commission directed at AstraZeneca over its inability to fulfil orders made by the bloc for its vaccine. The Commission is now considering a plan to mandate that companies inform Brussels ahead of making any shipments of vaccine out of the EU.
27th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Jan 2021

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Man arrested after suspicious package sent to Covid-19 vaccine plant

Police have detained a man after a suspicious package was sent to a coronavirus vaccine production site. All staff had to be evacuated from the Wockhardt site in Wrexham, North Wales, on Wednesday while the package was investigated. The global pharmaceutical and biotechnology company provides fill-and-finish services for the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine – the final stage of putting the vaccine into vials. Production ground to a halt for hours while police and the Army investigated the suspicious package, though it is understood the production schedule was not affected. On Thursday afternoon, Kent Police announced that they had arrested a man on suspicion of sending the package. The 53-year-old, from Chatham, remains in custody.
28th Jan 2021 - Belfast Telegraph

Probe into Italy virus response looks into preparedness plan

Prosecutors from northern Italy traveled to Rome on Thursday to question the health minister and others as part of their broadening investigation into whether to lay any criminal blame for Italy’s horrific coronavirus toll, and whether a lack of preparedness contributed to it. Back in June, Bergamo prosecutors questioned Premier Giuseppe Conte, Health Minister Roberto Speranza and other top officials about the delayed lockdown in two Bergamo towns where infections were reported in the early days of the outbreak. Bergamo went onto become Italy’s COVID-19 epicenter, the first in the West, registering a 571% increase in excess deaths in March compared to the previous five-year average.
28th Jan 2021 - Washington Post

After Government Falls, Italy Must Navigate Pandemic on ‘Cruise Control’

The Italian prime minister resigned on Tuesday and triggered the collapse of the government. This sort of thing happens all the time in Italy. But the return to a familiar state of political instability has never happened in the midst of a pandemic that has seared the country so deeply. After offering a terrible preview to the West of the misery wrought by the coronavirus, Italy is again an unfortunate vanguard. It is testing whether a country, even one well accustomed to governments that perennially dissolve and reform, can manage vaccine rollouts, national curfews, business restrictions and enormous economic bailouts during a full-blown political crisis.
28th Jan 2021 - The New York Times

Lebanese man dies of wounds after lockdown protests

A man died of his wounds Thursday in Lebanon after clashes between security forces and protesters angered by the combined impact of a severe economic crisis and a coronavirus lockdown. Omar Tayba sustained a bullet wound late Wednesday when protests in the northern city of Tripoli turned violent for the third night running, his brother Ahmad told AFP. "My brother was in Tripoli watching the protests when he was hit," he said. "He was transferred to hospital and died this morning.
28th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Protesters in Lebanon clash with police over virus lockdown

Lebanese security forces opened fire in violent clashes Wednesday with dozens of protesters who took to the street in the country’s north for a third consecutive day to denounce deteriorating living conditions amid a strict lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
28th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Coronavirus: Man killed at protest against Lebanon's total lockdown

A man has died after protesters angry with a total coronavirus lockdown and dire economic conditions clashed with riot police in the Lebanese city of Tripoli for a third consecutive night. Omar Tayba, 29, was among 220 people injured during the unrest. His brother said he had been shot. Witnesses and local media reported that police fired live rounds at protesters. The round-the-clock curfew imposed this month to halt a surge in Covid-19 cases has worsened Lebanon's economic crisis. People are forbidden from leaving their homes unless they are essential workers, and they must rely on deliveries from supermarkets for food.
28th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Decrying vaccines, Tanzania leader says 'God will protect' from COVID-19

President John Magufuli said on Wednesday that Tanzania did not need a coronavirus lockdown because God would protect his people and homespun precautions such as steam inhalation were better than dangerous foreign vaccines. Contradicting global scientific consensus and advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), Magufuli’s government has largely eschewed mask-wearing and social distancing in Tanzania. It stopped reporting coronavirus data in mid-2020. “Vaccines are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought vaccines for HIV/AIDS,” Magufuli said during the opening of a new farm in his western home region.
28th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Security forces clash with protesters in locked-down Lebanon

Lebanese security forces clashed for the third night with protesters in Tripoli angry about a coronavirus lockdown, with witnesses and local media reporting that riot police fired live bullets as protesters tried to storm the city’s government building. Security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters who threw stones, hurled Molotov cocktails and lit a car on fire, a witness and police said. Dozens were wounded. The police did not immediately comment on whether live rounds had been fired. Reuters footage showed sparks hitting the ground, apparently from ricocheting bullets, and the sound of gunfire. It marked the third night of violence in a row in one of Lebanon’s poorest cities, where protesters railed against a strict lockdown that they say has left them with no means to survive the country’s economic collapse.
28th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Jan 2021

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Bomb scare sparks evacuation of plant making AZ COVID-19 vaccine

A plant in Wales manufacturing the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was evacuated on the advice of the authorities today after it was sent a suspicious package. Bomb disposal experts were called in to investigate the parcel at the fill and finish facility in Wrexham, operated by Wockhardt UK, which has the capacity to produce around 300 million doses of the vaccine per year. Production has since resumed, according to Wockhardt, which said the “temporary suspension of manufacturing has in no way affected our production schedule.”
27th Jan 2021 - pharmaphorum.com

Bomb squad called to incident near AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine factory

Police and a bomb disposal unit have been called to an incident near coronavirus vaccine factory. The emergency response is in place on Wrexham Industrial Estate and is currently closed off near the Wockhardt factory. The plant is being used to help produce the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, North Wales Live reports. A spokesman for North Wales Police said: "We are currently dealing with an ongoing incident on the Wrexham Industrial Estate. "The roads are currently closed and we would ask the public to avoid the area until further notice."
27th Jan 2021 - Manchester Evening News

89 foreigners arrested at Thai bar flouting COVID-19 rules

Police in Thailand say they have arrested 89 foreigners for violating coronavirus regulations at a party organized by a bar on a popular resort island
27th Jan 2021 - The Independent

YouTube has removed more than half a million videos spreading Covid-19 misinformation

YouTube has removed more than half a million videos spreading misinformation about Covid-19, it has said. Technology platforms from YouTube to Facebook have struggled with keeping public health misinformation in check as the pandemic has spread across the world. False information posted on the site includes information suggesting the virus is not real to discouraging vaccines that can prevent disease. YouTube boss Susan Wojcicki that such videos have been posted in vast numbers the site, even as it looks to stop their spread.
27th Jan 2021 - The Independent on MSN.com

Why Are Illegal Raves Still Taking Place During Lockdown?

Despite stringent lockdown measures being put in place by the government to combat the spread of COVID-19, illegal raves and parties have continued to take place across the U.K. Police issued over £15,000 ($20,500) in fines after breaking up an illegal rave in London after around 300 people were found at an illegal party in Hackney in the northeast of the capital. In the summer, 6,000 revelers attended two illegal raves in Manchester, where a woman was raped and a man died of a suspected drug overdose.
27th Jan 2021 - Newsweek on MSN.com

Germany has 50,000 Covid dead. Tragically, that's a relative success story

Germany, it seems, barely noticed when it hit 50,000 deaths from Covid-19. To be fair, there has been a lot of news lately – had we arrived at this grim milestone earlier, when it didn’t have to compete with Donald Trump’s ignominious exit from the White House, the beginning of Joe Biden’s presidency, and the election of Armin Laschet to the leadership of the Christian Democratic Union, there surely would have been an avalanche of opinion pieces and memorials. Instead, it was buried. And while leaders in the UK have been scrambling and bickering, lest Britain become “a failed state”, as Gordon Brown has warned, German politicians seem more tired than anything else. The election of Laschet seems to indicate that the CDU leadership intends to try to carry Merkel’s legacy – and, with a 72% approval rating for the chancellor, the relative competence with which Germany has handled the pandemic seems to be recognised by the public.
27th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Italy's Prime Minister Quits As COVID-19 Response Splits Coalition Government

Italy's Prime Minister Conte to Resign Amid Struggle Against Covid-19 and RecessionThe Wall Street JournalAfter Government Falls, Italy Must Navigate Pandemic on ‘Cruise Control’The New York TimesItalian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigns, in calculated move amid coronavirus crisisCNNItalian prime minister Giuseppe Conte resigns in tactical bid to form new coalitionThe IndependentView Full coverage on Google News
27th Jan 2021 - NPR

Dozens injured in Covid-19 lockdown protests in Lebanon's Tripoli

Overnight clashes in northern Lebanon between security forces and demonstrators angered by a coronavirus lockdown injured at least 45 people, the Lebanese Red Cross said on Wednesday. At least nine of the injured were treated in hospital following rolling scuffles in the main northern city of Tripoli, the Red Cross said.
27th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Covid-19 death toll: where did the UK make mistakes?

You can, of course, quibble with the numbers. And yes, of course, comparing figures with other countries that use different measures is fraught with difficulties. But it doesn’t matter. When the toll by several measures passes 100,000, the conclusion is unavoidable. Something has gone badly wrong. Our first Covid-19 death was on March 5, a septuagenarian woman in Reading. Over the year that followed her fellow Britons had more than twice the likelihood of joining her compared with a German. Or, if you prefer a comparison to a state without the vast healthcare resources of Europe’s economic powerhouse, we had 4,000 times the chance of dying compared with someone from Vietnam. When we went into the first lockdown, 20,000 deaths was considered a good outcome.
27th Jan 2021 - The Times

Here are five ways the government could have avoided 100,000 Covid deaths

Yesterday Britain passed a grim milestone. A further 1,631 deaths from Covid-19 were recorded, taking the official tally above 100,000, though data from the Office for National Statistics suggests the total number will now be nearer 120,000. In a briefing, Boris Johnson has said his government did everything it could to minimise the loss of life, but these deaths were far from inevitable. While the number of UK deaths has entered the hundreds of thousands, New Zealand has recorded only 25 deaths from Covid-19 so far. Taiwan has recorded seven, Australia 909, Finland 655, Norway 550 and Singapore 29. These countries have largely returned to normal daily life.
27th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Dutch justice minister vows prosecution of lockdown rioters

People arrested during three nights of rioting sparked by the Netherlands' new coronavirus curfew will face swift prosecution, the Dutch justice minister says, as the nation faces its worst civil unrest in years. Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said rioters would be quickly brought before the courts by public prosecutors and will face possible prison terms if convicted.
27th Jan 2021 - Stuff.co.nz

Hospital incursions by Covid deniers putting lives at risk, say health leaders

Lives are being put at risk and the care of patients disrupted by a spate of hospital incursions from Covid-19 deniers whose online activity is channelling hatred against NHS staff, say healthcare and police chiefs. In the latest example of a growing trend, a group of people were ejected by security from a Covid-19 ward last week as one of them filmed staff, claimed that the virus was a hoax and demanded that a seriously ill patient be sent home “He will die if he is taken from from here,” a consultant tells the man on footage, which was later shared on social media. Following contact by the Guardian, Facebook took down footage and other shocking posts in which conspiracy theorists described NHS staff as “ventilator killers”.
27th Jan 2021 - The Guardian


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Jan 2021

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Covid-19: PM 'deeply sorry' as UK deaths exceed 100,000

The UK death toll from coronavirus has passed 100,000, according to government figures. Boris Johnson says he is "deeply sorry for every life that has been lost" The PM says he takes "full responsibility for everything that the government has done." The health secretary Matt Hancock said the figure was "heartbreaking" while Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a "national tragedy"
26th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Covid-19: Was US vaccine rollout a 'dismal failure' under Trump?

President Joe Biden has pledged to boost the rollout of Covid vaccines in the US, and has criticised the speed of the operation under the previous administration. It's been "a dismal failure thus far," the president said after taking office. He's committed to overseeing 100 million vaccine doses administered in his first 100 days, and has since said: "I think we may be able to get that to 1.5 million a day, rather than one million a day." So how slow was the rollout under the Trump administration?
26th Jan 2021 - BBC News

‘This was absolutely avoidable’: How the UK lost 100,000 lives to Covid-19

A catalogue of costly errors, the refusal to heed scientific advice at crucial pinch-points and the absence of any real strategy set the UK on a collision course with tragedy, writes Samuel Lovett
26th Jan 2021 - The Independent

100,000 UK Covid deaths: The moments which led to the 'grim milestone'

Since the first confirmed death of a Covid-19 patient in the UK in March, the country has passed many other "grim milestones". Now that figure has reached 100,000 deaths among patients who died within 28 days of the first positive coronavirus test. Here's how we got here. March 5 - 'Business as usual' as first reported Covid death confirmed. On March 5, the UK reported its first confirmed Covid death after a woman in her 70s died at the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust after testing positive for the virus. No restrictions to limit the spread of the pandemic were in place yet. The prime minister stressed it was "business as usual" for the country and encouraged people to keep washing their hands.
26th Jan 2021 - ITV News

Angela Merkel admits Covid highlighted shortcomings in Germany: ‘The speed of our action leaves a lot to be desired’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel conceded that the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted significant shortcomings in her country as she told the World Economic Forum on Tuesday that it has underlined the need for international cooperation on issues such as vaccines. Germany had a relatively successful first phase of the pandemic, but saw infections shoot up during the winter months and recently passed the threshold of 50,000 deaths, Europe’s fifth-highest toll. A lengthy second lockdown has slowly brought down the number of new cases in recent weeks.
26th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Police turn water cannon on Dutch lockdown protesters during third night of rioting

Police arrested at least 70 people after rioting broke out for a third night around the Netherlands following protests over a new night-time curfew. The scenes over the weekend, which saw rioters attack police and start fires, came after the government implemented new lockdown curbs, including the first curfew in the country since World War Two. The measure - which runs each day from 9pm to 4.30am - was imposed after the National Institute for Health (RIVM) warned of a new wave of infections due to the so-called British variant of Covid-19, despite the numbers of new infections in the Netherlands declining for weeks.
26th Jan 2021 - London Evening Standard

100,000 Covid deaths: Why the UK's death toll is so bad

More than 100,000 people in the UK have died from a virus, that, this time last year, felt like a far-off foreign threat. How did we come to be one of the countries with the worst death tolls? There is no quick answer to that question, and there is sure to be a long and detailed public inquiry once the pandemic is over. But there are plenty of clues that, when pieced together, help build a picture of why the UK has reached this devastating number. Some will point a finger at the government - its decision to lock-down later than much of western Europe, the stuttering start to its test-and-trace network, the lack of protection afforded to care home residents. Others will spotlight deeper rooted problems with British society - its poor state of public health, with high levels of obesity, for example.
26th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Italy’s Prime Minister Conte to Resign Amid Struggle Against Covid-19 and Recession

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is set to resign on Tuesday, his office said, as Europe’s underlying problems of economic stagnation and political fragmentation start to reassert themselves amid the gruelling pandemic. The fall of Italy’s government, in office for just 17 months, is a symptom of the continuing fissures in Italian and European politics. Established and insurgent parties are struggling over Europe’s future, stable majorities are often elusive and leaders are searching for ways to overcome long-term economic underperformance—nowhere more so than in Italy. Rome’s latest political breakdown is likely to cause concern in the capitals of Europe’s stronger economies, such as Germany, which last year agreed to underwrite a massive European Union investment plan for economic recovery from the coronavirus.
26th Jan 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Police break up seven parties in Spain’s Marbella as Covid lockdown flouters continue to break rules

Policia Nacional have busted seven illegal parties in Marbella, including one held in a hotel and two others in nightclubs. Hundreds of lockdown flouters were slapped with fines and warnings over the weekend in Marbella as police cracked down on breaches of coronavirus restrictions.
26th Jan 2021 - Olive Press

Teachers, students march in France for more virus support

Schoolteachers and university students marched together in protests or went on strike Tuesday around France to demand more government support amid the pandemic. “No virus protocol, no school!” read posters carried by schoolteachers, demanding better virus protections at their schools, which have remained open since September because of the government's concern over learning gaps. “Sick of Zoom!” chanted university students frustrated that they've been barred from campuses since October. The common concern at Tuesday's protests in Paris Marseille and other cities around France was economic.
26th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Clashes in Lebanon's Tripoli as anger grows over virus lockdown

Lebanese demonstrators clashed with security forces in the northern city of Tripoli on Monday night, as anger grows over a total lockdown aimed at stemming an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases. The National News Agency (NNA) said security personnel had clashed with demonstrators angered at "the lockdown, fines against those who flout it and the suffocating economic crisis." An AFP photographer saw demonstrators burn tyres and throw rocks, to which security forces responded with teargas and rubber bullets.
26th Jan 2021 - FRANCE 24

Lebanese in impoverished north protest coronavirus lockdown

Dozens of Lebanese protesters, enraged at a nearly month-long lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus, took to the streets of the country’s second largest city on Monday and pelted security forces with stones. The security forces responded with tear gas to break up the protesters, who gathered in central Tripoli despite a strict lockdown in place since mid-January aimed at containing a major surge in infection in the small Mediterranean country. Protesters in Tripoli were complaining that their region, the most impoverished in Lebanon, is unable to cope with the nearly month-long lockdown with little to no government assistance.
26th Jan 2021 - The Indian Express

Wuhan doctor: China authorities stopped me sounding alarm on Covid

A doctor from the Wuhan hospital hit hardest by the Covid-19 epidemic has said he and colleagues suspected the virus was highly transmissible in early January last year, weeks before Chinese authorities admitted it, but were prevented from warning anyone. The doctor’s testimony – in a new BBC documentary on the 54 days between the first known case of coronavirus and the Wuhan lockdown – adds to mounting evidence of Beijing’s early attempts to cover up the virus outbreak, and intimidate healthworkers into staying quiet. Wuhan central hospital is just a few kilometres from the Huanan wet market, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and was quickly overwhelmed by patients after the first cases emerged in December 2019. More than 200 hospital employees reportedly contracted the virus, and several, including whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, died.
26th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Europe's Covid chaos: EU vaccine shortage prompts fury as AstraZeneca says it can't meet £300m vaccine deal demands after weekend of riots over lockdown restrictions

EU health chiefs have demanded pharmaceutical firms give 'early warning' when exporting vaccines to Britain. It means Pfizer - which has a jab-making plant in Belgium - will be forced to tell EU officials about jab exports. Britain has ordered 40million doses of Pfizer jab, which is described as 'workhorse' of the UK vaccine rollout. Vaccine battle took another twist last night when German papers reported EU officials could reject UK jab. The reports say EMA could reject the Oxford vaccine for usage in over-65s due to '8 per cent efficacy rates.' But vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca last night furiously denied claims, reported in Bild and Handelsblatt. It comes after AstraZeneca announced it could only supply 31million of 80million doses to EU by end of March. EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides says drop is 'not acceptable' and announced new scrutiny rules
26th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Boris Johnson’s lockdown slip-up contradicts the official line

The news that the prime minister is looking at easing some restrictions by mid-February came as a surprise to many reporters – and to No 10. The slip by Boris Johnson went against what insiders have been briefing for many weeks: that the easing of restrictions is a long way off and that this time there will be extreme caution. “The one to four [most vulnerable] groups are going to be vaccinated by 15 February. Before then we will be looking at the potential of relaxing some measures,” he said. Aides have underlined to reporters that Johnson’s comments were misinterpreted – “looking at” only means the government will be starting to make decisions, and that nothing will change before the 15 February review point. Less generously, it was a bit of a tongue twist from Johnson.
26th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Dutch police detain more than 150 in third night of anti-lockdown violence

Dutch police detained more than 150 people in a third night of unrest in cities across the Netherlands, where roaming groups of rioters set fires, threw rocks and looted stores in violence triggered by a night curfew aimed at curbing the coronavirus. The nation’s first curfew since World War Two followed a warning by the National Institute for Health (RIVM) over a new wave of infections due to the “British variant” of the virus, and was imposed despite weeks of declines in new infections. Ten police were injured in the port city of Rotterdam, where 60 rioters were detained overnight, Dutch news agency ANP said on Tuesday.
26th Jan 2021 - Irish Examiner

Anger and grief as United Kingdom's COVID-19 death toll nears 100,000

As the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 death toll approaches 100,000, grief-stricken relatives of the dead expressed anger at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the worst public health crisis in a century. When the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China in 2019, slid silently across the United Kingdom in March, Johnson initially said he was confident it could be sent packing in weeks. But 97,939 deaths later, the United Kingdom has the world’s fifth worst official death toll - more than its civilian toll in World War Two and twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign, although the total population was lower then. Behind the numbers there is grief and anger.
26th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Jan 2021

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Lockdown Skeptic AMLO on Duty in Mexico Despite Catching Virus

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is continuing to work after contracting Covid-19, holding a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and attending meetings remotely. The 67-year-old leader said Monday that Putin had agreed to send 24 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine to Mexico. He tweeted a photo of himself sitting at his desk, without a mask. Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, announced his diagnosis in a tweet late Sunday, following a trip that took him to two states amid a surge in infections and deaths in recent days. The nation now has the fourth-highest number of fatalities globally, after the U.S., Brazil and India
25th Jan 2021 - Bloomberg

Covid England: Boris Johnson urged to loosen lockdown as cases fall

Boris Johnson has caused confusion by suggesting some lockdown measures could be lifted in mid-February. In same interview the Prime Minister repeatedly refused to guarantee that schools will reopen before Easter. Comments left No10 scrambling to clarify mid-February is earliest possible point and nothing likely to change. Many headteachers now believe schools will remain closed until April or May with announcement expected. Tories are up in arms with education committee chair Robert Halfon among those voicing serious concerns
25th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Covid: 'Why I'm breaking lockdown rules'

For most of us, last Friday night was spent on the sofa glued to a screen. Because aside from a Zoom quiz, there's not much else to do during lockdown. Right? Not if you're Max. Last Friday he hosted a dinner party for seven others, inviting five people from two other houses. That's despite current lockdown rules that ban almost all mixing of households inside. Meeting up with friends is something he's done throughout the pandemic. At some points, he went to parties with more than 20 other people. "The size of the gatherings I was going to over the span of the last eight months have varied depending on the policies in place," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
25th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Rioters torch Covid testing facility as Dutch police clash with lockdown protesters in Amsterdam

Dutch police used water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesters in Amsterdam demonstrating against a new lockdown curfew that was introduced to curb the spread of coronavirus. It comes after rioting youths set a coronavirus testing facility on fire in Urk, a small fishing village in the Netherlands on Saturday. Police clashed with protesters taking part in the outlawed anti-lockdown demonstration in Amsterdam’s Museum Square on Sunday. Officials said many of the protesters failed to social distance and were not wearing protective face masks.
25th Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Hong Kong needs to address efficacy of Jordan lockdown

Over the weekend, thousands of people in a virus-hit Kowloon neighbourhood had the taste of a full lockdown as compulsory mass Covid-19 testing was carried out. Notwithstanding its relatively short timescale, the move was unprecedented and highly controversial. Officials are adamant that it was a necessary step in light of the latest outbreak, while affected residents and businesses described it is a nuisance and waste of resources. It is important that the government critically reviews its logistics and effectiveness before determining whether the exercise should be extended elsewhere.
25th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

A Wuhan dissident’s lockdown has lasted nearly 400 days and counting

Zhu Tao’s anti-state sentiment has alienated his in-laws and neighbours, he has been detained, subjected to surveillance and censored. As he self-quarantines, bracing for another wave of infections, he wonders how it’s possible that people are carrying on with life as usual.
25th Jan 2021 - South China Morning Post

Year after COVID-19 lockdown, Wuhan dissident remains isolated

A year after its coronavirus lockdown, Wuhan has long since sprung back to life — but Zhu Tao remains bunkered in his 14th-floor apartment, spending his days doomscrolling through news, playing virtual soccer on his PlayStation and feeling that China is teetering on the brink of collapse. He has blown thousands of dollars, his life savings, stockpiling beef jerky and chocolate bars, bottles of water, sacks of rice, masks, alcohol and disinfecting wipes, and a $900 solar panel. Haunting Zhu is the fear that the coronavirus might return — that once again, the government will conceal the truth, and, once again, Wuhan will fall under lockdown.
25th Jan 2021 - Los Angeles Times

Pandemic: Lockdown: Covid deniers should be held to account | HeraldScotland

Neil O’ Brien, Tory MP for Harborough and vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, has suggested, “Covid sceptics have a hell of a lot to answer for”. Mr O’Brien is a rare right-wing voice calling out the Covid and lockdown deniers who have undermined the national pandemic response. Some, Piers Corbyn for example, are so cartoonish and deluded that they are difficult to take seriously. Mr Corbyn confirms Richard Dawkins’ opinion that, “a delusion is something people believe in, despite a total lack of evidence”. Mr Corbyn’s lack of a public platform, furth of Speakers’ Corner, renders him relatively harmless. Others however, with access to more public soapboxes, have greater culpability.
25th Jan 2021 - HeraldScotland

Covid-19: Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis protest over lockdown rules

Hundreds of members of Israel's ultra-Orthodox community have taken to the streets of the country to protest the imposition of lockdown rules to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Protesters scuffled with police in the city of Bnei Brak, while a 41-year-old bus driver was hurt after he was attacked with pepper spray by demonstrators, who proceeded to set his bus on fire, according to Reuters and eyewitnesses who posted video footage on Twitter. One police officer reportedly fired in the air to repel crowds throwing stones after feeling his life was in danger. Police said that smaller confrontations with ultra-Orthodox protesters also broke out in several other towns, including the port city of Ashdod.
25th Jan 2021 - Middle East Eye

'Lockdown fatigue' cited as UK shopper numbers rose 9% last week

The number of shoppers heading out to retail destinations across Britain rose by 9% last week from the previous week, indicating “lockdown fatigue” for people cooped up at home, market researcher Springboard said on Monday. Footfall across all retail destinations was 65% lower than in the same week last year, Springboard said. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered England into a new national lockdown on Jan. 4 to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases that threatens to overwhelm parts of the health system.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Dutch police detain 240 nationwide as anti-lockdown protests turn violent

Images on Dutch television showed bands of youths looting shops, throwing bicycles and setting fires in the southern city of Eindhoven. At least 55 people were arrested in Eindhoven, the city said in a statement. The demonstration in the city’s Museum Square, which violated a ban on public gatherings, came the day after the government introduced a nightly curfew for the first time since World War Two. Police cleared the square after people ignored instructions to leave and detained those who attacked them with stones and fireworks in nearby streets, the mayor’s office said. Parliament voted narrowly last week to approve the curfew, swayed by assertions that a variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain was about to cause a new surge in cases. New infections in the country have generally been declining for a month, and fell again on Sunday, to 4,924 new cases.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Dutch PM condemns lockdown riots as 'criminal violence'

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday condemned riots across the country this weekend in which demonstrators attacked police and set fires to protest against a night-time curfew to slow the spread of the coronavirus, calling them “criminal violence”. The police said hundreds of people had been detained after incidents that began on Saturday evening and lasted until the early hours of Monday, including some in which rioters threw rocks and in one case knives at police and burned down a COVID-19 testing station. “This has nothing to do with protest, this is criminal violence and we will treat it as such,” Rutte told reporters outside his office in The Hague. Schools and non-essential shops in the Netherlands have been shut since mid-December, following the closure of bars and restaurants two months earlier.
25th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Boris Johnson will sign off new border controls within hours

Ministers are expected to make a decision later today on the shape of tougher Covid rules for the UK's borders. Signs that the Government is preparing to announce that all arrivals must quarantine for 10 days in hotels. Growing Cabinet support for blanket rather than targeted curbs to stop coronavirus variants being imported. Travel industry warned unless an end date is set UK could end up isolated for a year as happened in Australia. Boris Johnson said yesterday he is 'definitely looking at' quarantine hotels with senior ministers on board. Government sources believe Britons largely obeying edict not to travel for holidays or 'non-essential' reasons
25th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Polish president backs lockdown despite business frustration

Poland’s president on Monday expressed understanding for the “despair” of people who are opening their businesses in defiance of the anti-COVID-19 lockdown, but said they still must be punished for breaking government-ordered restrictions. In comments published Monday, Andrzej Duda was reacting to the swelling nationwide #OtwieraMY (We Are Opening) movement of thousands of business owners opening their restaurants, hotels, ski lifts, fitness centers and similar businesses to avoid going under as a result of the prolonged social distancing and lockdown, recently extended through January. “I can understand the impatience and often even the despair of people, who see the work of their entire lives falling apart," Duda said in an interview for the conservative weekly “Sieci.”
25th Jan 2021 - The Independent


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Jan 2021

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UK to quarantine visitors from nations with high COVID-19 risk, Daily Mail says

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is preparing to force travelers from countries where there is a high risk of COVID-19 to go into quarantine for 10 days after arriving in Britain, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday. Travelers from Brazil and South Africa, and neighbouring countries, will be met on arrival and escorted to hotels to quarantine, under plans being discussed by UK ministers, the Daily Mail said
24th Jan 2021 - Reuters on MSN.com

Police detain 100 in Amsterdam after protest over lockdown, curfew

Rioters looted stores, set fires and clashed with police in several Dutch cities on Sunday, resulting in more than 240 arrests, police and Dutch media reported. The unrest came on the second day of new, tougher coronavirus restrictions, including a night curfew, which had prompted demonstrations. Police used water cannon, dogs and mounted officers to disperse a protest in central Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon, witnesses said. Nearly 200 people, some of them throwing stones and fireworks, were detained in the city, police said.
24th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Vaccine rationed to north amid national supply issues, reports say

Vaccine supplies sent to the North East and Yorkshire are to be rationed because the region is ahead of others in getting the coronavirus jab out, it has been reported. Deliveries to GP practices in the area – one of seven English NHS regions – will be halved from 200,000 doses to 100,000 next week, according to the Health Service Journal. It comes amid growing controversy that many over 80s in the south have still not been called for their innoculation, while GPs in the North East and Yorkshire are already starting to move onto lower age brackets. It is not clear if supplies will also be slashed to the patch’s hospitals and mass vaccination hubs – such as the Centre for Life in Newcastle – but, given it is GP practices that administer the majority of jabs, the known reduction will come as a major blow.
23rd Jan 2021 - The Independent

Nurses call for higher-grade face masks to protect against new coronavirus strains

Nurse leaders calling for all NHS staff to be given the higher grade of PPE Royal College of Nursing wrote a letter to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) College said was aware that some NHS trusts are using higher grade face masks
23rd Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Some frontline health and social care staff are refusing the vaccine and leaders across the UK are worried

Some frontline health and care staff are refusing to have the coronavirus vaccine and UK leaders are so worried that they are meeting to discuss the problem. First Minister Mark Drakeford said he did not have specific figures for how many in Wales have declined vaccination offered but said he was meeting Whitehall ministers and other First Ministers next week to look at the issue. He urged all staff working in health and social care to have the vaccine saying it would protect them and "more importantly" those they care for. Asked how much of a problem health and care staff turning down the vaccine was at Friday's Welsh Government briefing the First Minister said: "I did discuss this with other First Ministers and the UK Government.
23rd Jan 2021 - Wales Online

Hancock rebuked for suggesting coronavirus vaccine won't combat new strain

Fears coronavirus vaccine may be less likely to work against South African variantDaily RecordNew Covid variant could reduce vaccine efficacy by 50 per cent, Matt Hancock warnsBirmingham LiveCovid vaccine less likely to work on mutant South African coronavirus strainMirror OnlineMatt Hancock warns South African variant 'could cut vaccine efficacy'Evening StandardView Full coverage on Google News
23rd Jan 2021 - The Times

Anti-mask protesters are stopped from entering a Sydney Westfield by a wall of police officers - as packed beaches over Australia Day weekend spark fears of another Covid-19 ...

Anti-mask protesters tried to enter a Sydney Westfield on Saturday but had their efforts blocked by a wall of police officers. The defiant protest came as authorities fear the hot Australia Day long weekend weather may spark another Covid-19 outbreak. Police blocked about two dozen anti-maskers from entering the Parramatta Westfield shopping centre. Officers turned them away as they marched through Centenary Square on Saturday, waving home-made placards and shouting that the coronavirus was a 'scam'. It was the second week in a row that the group, which co-ordinates its protests on social media, has tried to storm the mall.
23rd Jan 2021 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

No cases? No chance. The truth about North Korea and Covid-19

Kim Jong-un acted quickly. On January 22, 2020, North Korea closed its borders with China and Russia to stop a new, mysterious virus from spreading into the country. At the time, what we now know as Covid-19, had killed just nine people and infected 400 others. More than a year later, the hermit kingdom’s border remains sealed tight shut. North Korea’s response to the pandemic has been one of the most extreme and paranoid in the world, experts say. The lockdowns and quarantines it has imposed have been strict, while border restrictions have put a halt to fishing and the smuggling of goods into the country. At the same time the nation’s state media and propaganda apparatus has pumped out messages warning its citizens of the dangers of Covid-19 and praising the country’s “flawless” approach to the pandemic.
23rd Jan 2021 - Wired.co.uk

How does fake news of 5G and COVID-19 spread worldwide?

A recent study finds misinformation on the new coronavirus spreads differently across various countries. However, there was a consistent misunderstanding of 5G technology. Among the search topics examined, the myth around 5G having links to COVID-19 was the one that spread fastest. Dispelling myths and encouraging people to fact-check sources could help build trust with the public.
23rd Jan 2021 - Medical News Today

They claimed the Covid-19 vaccine made them ill. Then they went viral

The Facebook videos were short but unsettling. One, posted on the profile of Indiana resident Shawn Skelton, shows her shuddering on what looks like a hospital bed, an exhausted look on her face. In another, Skelton spends over a minute sticking her tongue out as it writhes oddly. Three other videos – all just a few seconds long – were posted by Louisiana-based Brant Griner, and feature his mother Angelia Gipson Desselle violently trembling and struggling to walk in a dimly-lit hospital room.
23rd Jan 2021 - Wired.co.uk

Covid-19: No plans for universal £500 self-isolation payment, No 10 says

There are no plans to pay everyone in England who tests positive for Covid £500 to self-isolate, No 10 has said. The PM's official spokesman said there was already a £500 payment available for those on low incomes who could not work from home and had to isolate. A universal £500 payment was among suggestions in a leaked Department of Health document. There are fears the current financial support is not working because low paid workers cannot afford to self-isolate. But a senior government source said the idea of extending the £500 payments to everyone who tests positive had been drawn up by officials and had not been considered by the prime minister.
23rd Jan 2021 - BBC News

Stop complaining about slow vaccine roll-out, Merkel urges Germans

Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Thursday to stop complaining about the slow roll-out of a vaccine against COVID-19 and defended a decision to extend a lockdown as necessary to stem a more aggressive variant of the coronavirus. Speaking at a news conference, Merkel said it would be a mistake to ease curbs now given the mutation first identified in England had been found in Germany, Europe’s most populous country and largest economy. “Our efforts face a threat and this threat is clearer now than at the start of the year and this is the mutation of the virus,” said Merkel, adding that the new variant was not yet dominant in Germany.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

UK police break up COVID rule-breaching wedding with 400 guests

British police said on Friday they had broken up a wedding with about 150 guests in violation of COVID-19 lockdown rules, which only allow six people to attend. Weddings are currently supposed to take place only under “exceptional circumstances”. However, officers found a large gathering in Stamford Hill, in north London, with the windows covered to stop people seeing inside. The organiser of the wedding could be fined up to 10,000 pounds ($13,700), and five others were issued 200-pound penalties. The police had initially reported that some 400 people had attended the wedding. An investigation has been launched to identify further offences.
23rd Jan 2021 - Reuters

Boris Johnson: New fast-spreading Covid-19 variant may be more deadly | ITV News

The new fast-spreading variant of Covid-19 may also be more deadly than the original strain of the virus, Boris Johnson has warned. The prime minister told a Downing Street press conference: "In addition to spreading more quickly it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant, the variant that was first identified in London and the South East, may be associated with a higher degree of mortality." He said the NHS is under "intense pressure" due largely to the impact of the new variant, but reassured that both vaccines being used in the UK - Pfizer and AstraZeneca - "remain effective" against both the older strain and the new one.
23rd Jan 2021 - ITV News

Brits 'jumping Covid vaccine queue as NHS appointment links shared on WhatsApp'

Britons are jumping Covid-19 vaccine queues by signing up through NHS appointment links shared on WhatsApp and social media, it is reported. It means ineligible people are being given jabs which should go to the UK's most vulnerable residents and health workers thanks to an IT loophole. The links are part of Swiftqueue's online booking system which is being used by some NHS trusts, an investigation by the Evening Standard found. It said there is evidence that people who are not on a priority list have used the portal to get Covid-19 jabs in east London and parts of the north.
22nd Jan 2021 - Mirror Online

Huge fire breaks out at Indian Covid vaccine maker contracted to produce Oxford jab

A huge fire has broken out at a plant being built in the world’s biggest vaccine maker, but it will not affect production of coronavirus vaccines, a source close to the firm said. The Serum Institute of India (SII), has been contracted to manufacture one billion vaccine doses developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca for India and many other low- and middle-income countries.
22nd Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Vaccines Turn Into Geopolitics in Europe’s Most Volatile Region

The coronavirus exposed lingering divisions in the Balkans, and now Europe’s most volatile region is once again cleaving along geopolitical and ethnic lines over efforts to get people vaccinated. The European Union has pledged to give six prospective members 70 million euros ($85 million) to buy Covid shots, but deliveries are facing delays. That’s empowered Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to leverage his links with China and traditional ally Russia into pledging vaccine donations to North Macedonia and to the ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The 18 million people who live in the western Balkans have been severely hit by coronavirus, with parts of former Yugoslavia recording among the world’s highest per-capita death rates. The fallout is threatening efforts to resolve lingering border disputes and risks pushing the region further away from the EU’s orbit as Russia and China extend their reach. Western Europe was already failing a place that’s synonymous with hardship and war, according to Zijad Becirovic, director of the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies in Ljubljana. The U.S., meanwhile, has gradually loosened political ties with the region since intervening in Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts in the 1990s
22nd Jan 2021 - MSN - Bloomberg

Brazil’s most vulnerable communities face COVID food crisis

Coronavirus is spreading and the death toll is mounting — but what most worries the leaders of Brazil’s isolated and vulnerable communities is how on earth to feed people now that the government has pulled their main emergency aid. Ivone Rocha is cofounder of Semeando Amor (Sowing Love), a non-profit that distributes basic staples to some of the very poorest people in Rio das Pedras, one of Rio de Janeiro’s many favelas. For most of last year, they had received a decent government stipend to survive the pandemic, but that all ended with 2020, unleashing a frenzy of favela requests for food. “People here have no jobs,” Rocha told Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “Now the aid has ended. My God, what will happen?” It was April when Congress first passed a bill that established the monthly $600 real ($112) stipend — a little over half the country’s minimum wage — pledging to tide people over for three months during the pandemic.
22nd Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

UK imams, influencers counter COVID vaccine misinformation

Imams across the United Kingdom are helping a drive to dispel coronavirus misinformation, using Friday sermons and their influential standing within Muslim communities to argue that COVID-19 vaccines are safe. Qari Asim, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) which is leading a campaign to reassure its faithful, is among those publicly advocating that the inoculations are compatible with Islamic practices. “We are confident that the two vaccines that have been used in the UK, Oxford Astra-Zeneca and Pfizer, are permissible from an Islamic perspective,” he told the AFP news agency. “The hesitancy, the anxiety (and) concern is driven by misinformation, conspiracy theories, fake news and rumours.”
21st Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English on MSN.com


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 22nd Jan 2021

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Covid-19 vaccine batch testing speeds up, giving more proof ministers can’t blame all hold-ups on supply chain

Britain’s medical regulators have managed to speed up the process of approving individual batches of the Covid-19 vaccine with not a single batch failing the test, i can reveal. Ministers have repeatedly said that supply of jabs is the current “rate-limiting factor” in the vaccine roll-out – meaning that supply is the one issue which dictates the maximum pace at which the NHS can administer doses, rather than staffing or logistics. They specifically pointed to batch approvals as one of the major hold-ups. The National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), part of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is responsible for testing the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines which are provided in batches of up to half a million doses each. This process initially took as long as three weeks per batch but has been streamlined to four days.
21st Jan 2021 - i on MSN.com

Spanish Government Refuses To Authorise Earlier Curfew Or Full Lockdown

The Spanish government once again stood firm on Wednesday in refusing to bow to the pressure being exerted by regional administrations to allow the start of the night-time curfew to be brought forward to 20.00 in an effort to bring coronavirus infection rates down, despite 15 of the 17 Autonomous Communities requesting that this modification be made to the conditions of the current national state of emergency.
21st Jan 2021 - Murcia Today

Wealthy UK flyers opt for private jets to evade Covid and lockdowns

Wealthy flyers in the UK are opting for private jets and charter flights to evade Covid-19 and beat sudden lockdowns, data shows. While the number of commercial flights from the UK has dropped by three-quarters since the start of the pandemic, private flights are down only 42% compared with 2019, according to the aviation consultancy WingX. In August, demand for private jets was back to 93% of normal levels, while scheduled flights were down 65%. Another rebound was seen around Christmas, with private flights operating at around 70% of pre-pandemic levels in December.
21st Jan 2021 - The Guardian

UK's Johnson resists pandemic inquiry as hospitals likened to war zone

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls for an inquiry into his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday as the country’s death toll neared 100,000 and his chief scientist said hospitals were looking like war zones. Johnson has been accused of reacting too slowly to the crisis, failing to supply sufficient protective equipment and bungling the testing system, although the United Kingdom has been swift to roll out a vaccine. The official death toll is 93,290 - Europe’s worst figure and the world’s fifth worst, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico. Deaths rose by another record daily number on Wednesday. There have been calls for a public inquiry from some doctors and bereaved families into the management of the crisis.
21st Jan 2021 - Reuters

Good news for shot-makers: COVID-19 vaccine confidence leaps to 69%, Harris Poll finds

Americans are back on the COVID-19 vaccine bandwagon. Sixty-nine percent now plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine, close to the previous high of 73% in April, according to the latest data from The Harris Poll. At the lowest point in October, vaccine skepticism had far more Americans hesitating: Just 58% said they would get a vaccine. That’s good news for vaccine makers—and at least a little better news for public health officials, who say a minimum 75% of the population will need to be vaccinated to stop COVID-19. That percentage has been moving upwards of late; Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), recently admitted the goal may need to move as high as 90% to truly halt the U.S. outbreak.
21st Jan 2021 - FiercePharma


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Jan 2021

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COVID-19: Boris Johnson accused of 'overruling' Priti Patel's call to shut UK's borders at start of pandemic

Boris Johnson has been accused of "overruling" Home Secretary Priti Patel - after she claimed she argued for the shutting of the UK's borders at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In video footage of her comments to Tory supporters, Ms Patel suggested she privately pushed for tougher border measures during the UK's first national lockdown last year.
20th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Boris Johnson blames 'supply constraints' from AstraZeneca and Pfizer for vaccine slowdown but says target of 14m jabs by mid-February IS still 'on track' - amid fears lockdown will last until Easter even if the goal is met

Mounting concerns about slowdown in vaccine rollout after three consecutive days saw falling numbers. Boris Johnson said 'on track' to hit mid-February target despite 37% dip on Monday compared to Friday. The PM admitted that 'constraints in supply' from Pfizer and AstraZeneca were making the situation harder With possible exception of schools, unlikely to be any relaxation at first formal 'review point' in mid-February. Reports yesterday claimed that Boris Johnson was targeting Good Friday on April 2 as the earliest date. But several sources told the Mail that even this date could look optimistic, warning of restrictions into June Britain recorded most deaths since the pandemic started yesterday, 30 per cent rise on same day last week. It comes amid alarm at the rising death toll in care homes, with fatalities doubling last week to 1,260
20th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Struggling French students protest university closures

French university students protested Wednesday on Paris' Left Bank to demand to be allowed back to class, and to call attention to suicides and financial troubles among students cut off from friends, professors and job opportunities amid the pandemic. Carrying a banner reading "We Will Not Be the Sacrificed Generation," hundreds of students gathered to march on the Education Ministry, seeking government help for those struggling. Other student protests were planned Wednesday elsewhere in France. The government ordered all universities closed in October to stem resurgent virus infections, after a similar closure in the spring set many students back academically and socially.
20th Jan 2021 - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Biden starts term with COVID actions on masks, support for WHO

The 46th US president, Joe Biden, will make several executive orders today pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, including issuing a mask mandate on federal grounds, reports CNN. Biden will also ask Americans to wear a mask when in public for the next 100 days, and to adhere to physical distancing. He has already set forth a goal of distributing 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the next 100 days. "As you've heard the president-elect say, the pandemic will continue to get worse before it gets better," Jeff Zients, the incoming White House COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters according to the Washington Post. "This is clearly a national emergency and we will treat it as such."
20th Jan 2021 - CIDRAP

Biden, in inaugural address, pledges the U.S. ‘can overcome’ Covid-19

President Biden on Wednesday pledged that the United States “can overcome” the Covid-19 pandemic, even as he warned that it is entering “what may be the toughest and deadliest period” of the crisis. The remarks, made during key moments in his inauguration address on the west front of the Capitol, represented a forceful pledge that the country can bring the pandemic to an end. They also marked a stark departure from the approach taken by former President Trump, who spent weeks avoiding the subject of Covid-19 in his public comments, and then referred to the pandemic in past tense Wednesday before he departed Washington, D.C.
20th Jan 2021 - Stat News

EU and BioNTech/Pfizer clash over reduced vaccine deliveries

A decision by Pfizer and BioNTech to reduce the number of vaccine vials they send to European countries has forced health officials to slow vaccination plans, with at least one EU member state threatening legal action as tensions over limited supplies mount. The move by the manufacturers followed a ruling this month from the European Medicines Agency that six doses can be extracted from each BioNTech/Pfizer vial rather than five, after health professionals found there was often extra vaccine left over.
20th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Boris Johnson says UK ready to deploy tweaked vaccines

Boris Johnson on Wednesday declared Britain was ready to quickly deploy tweaked vaccines to combat new variants of coronavirus, as the number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the UK hit a record of 1,820. The prime minister said he was concerned about the risk posed by dangerous variants of the virus — as well as Britain, Brazil and South Africa have reported new strains — as he justified new border restrictions in the UK. Neil O’Brien, a Conservative MP, asked Mr Johnson at prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons about “concerning data from South Africa” that the virus could mutate and thus “dodge the vaccines and reduce their efficacy”.
20th Jan 2021 - Financial Times


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 20th Jan 2021

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Jab complacency ‘could see cases spike’ as PM faces lockdown pressures

Britons should not rely on coronavirus vaccines “coming to our rescue”, health leaders have warned, as it remains “absolutely critical” that lockdown rules continue to be observed. Prof David Halpern, the chair of the Behavioural Insights Team, stressed that vaccinated people are not “good to go” and socialise with others, as he warned that any jab recipients who do mix with families and friends risk sparking another surge in cases. His comments to MPs earlier today come after Matt Hancock revealed he was self-isolating at home after being “pinged” by the NHS Covid-19 app. The Health Secretary urged Britons to follow his lead and stick to the rules.
19th Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Experts unconvinced by Lord Sumption's lockdown ethics

Eleven years before Lord Sumption found himself at the centre of a media storm over his apparent suggestion that the life of a woman with stage 4 cancer was “less valuable”, the former supreme court justice wrote a judgment that seemed to take a very different view. In 2014, addressing the Tony Nicklinson case in a decision which upheld a ban on doctors helping patients to end their lives, he called the sanctity of life a “fundamental moral value”. “A reverence for human life for its own sake is probably the most fundamental of all human social values,” he went on, before quoting another judgment approvingly: “In a case like this we should not try to analyse the rationality of such feelings. What matters is that, in one form or another, they form part of almost everyone’s intuitive values.”
19th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Bells and candlelight to honor 400,000 COVID-19 dead on eve of Trump's White House departure

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday led a national memorial observance on the eve of his inauguration to honor the 400,000 Americans who have perished from COVID-19 during the 11 months since the novel coronavirus claimed its first U.S. life. The sundown commemoration came hours before President Donald Trump was due to depart the White House for the last time and hand over a country wracked by the greatest public health crisis in a century, economic devastation and violent political upheaval. Ceremonies spearheaded by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris from the base of the Lincoln Memorial marked the federal government’s first official nod to the staggering death toll from the pandemic.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters

U.S. exceeds 400,000 coronavirus deaths

The U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 400,000 on Tuesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the country hardest hit by the pandemic struggled to meet the demand for vaccines to stem the spread of infection. States including Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Vermont have shown signs of vaccine supply strain and are asking for more doses of both approved vaccines, one from Pfizer-BioNTech and the other from Moderna. The number of deaths has spiked since Christmas. During the past three weeks, U.S. coronavirus fatalities have totaled 63,793 compared with 52,715 deaths in the three weeks prior to Christmas, an increase of 21%, according to a Reuters analysis.
19th Jan 2021 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th Jan 2021

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Coronavirus in Scotland: CMO Dr Gregor Smith ‘really concerned’ by Covid-19 vaccine misinformation on social media

Scotland’s most senior health chief has revealed that he is “really concerned” by coronavirus vaccine misinformation, as he warned Scots to avoid spurious claims on social media. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, called bogus claims about vaccines “one of the biggest dangers that we face”, and called on the public to seek out trusted sources of information. Speaking at the First Minister’s daily press briefing, Dr Smith said misinformation “makes me really concerned because it preys on people's anxiety and fear. “My plea to everyone is to read trusted sources of information in relation to the vaccination.”
18th Jan 2021 - The Scotsman on MSN.com

Eight fined after Birmingham anti-lockdown protest

Police have fined eight people after an anti-lockdown march in Birmingham city centre on Saturday. About 150 people gathered for the protest in Victoria Square, despite an appeal from West Midlands Police to stay away. The force said it made nine arrests in total, serving all but one with a £200 fixed penalty notice. Officers had asked the demonstrators to move on, said a spokesperson, but "some did not listen". That led to the arrests and subsequent fining of three women aged 21, 41 and 58, and five men aged between 19 and 58.
18th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Spain’s central, regional officials clash over coronavirus curfew times

Spain’s central government will appeal a decision by regional authorities in Castilla y León to impose an 8pm curfew in their territory in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The regional government announced the new starting time on Friday, but central authorities say that the curfew may begin at 10pm at the earliest, based on the terms of the state of alarm approved by parliament in late October and due to expire in May. This legal framework underpins the restrictions used to contain the coronavirus, including limits on freedom of movement.
18th Jan 2021 - EL PAÍS in English

Fireworks thrown at police in Amsterdam lockdown protest

Thousands held an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, before being dispersed by riot police. The protesters gathered on a square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum art galleries, carrying signs reading “Freedom: stop this siege” and chanting “What do we want? Freedom!”. None wore masks, which are not mandatory, and few respected social distancing rules, news agency Reuters reported. Shocking footage in social media shows police charging with batons raised as protesters throw flairs at them.
18th Jan 2021 - London Evening Standard

WHO: just 25 Covid vaccine doses administered in low-income countries

The world is on the edge of a “catastrophic moral failure” in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, with just 25 doses administered across all poor countries compared with 39m in wealthier ones, the head of the World Health Organization has said. It was the sharpest warning so far from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the dangers of vaccine hoarding since inoculations started being administered in 49 mostly high-income countries. Guinea is the sole low-income country to have delivered any shots so far, last week providing doses of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to a mere 25 people, including its president. Tedros told an annual meeting of the WHO’s executive board on Monday that it was wrong to see people at low risk in wealthy countries being vaccinated while most of the world still did not have access to the jabs.
18th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Thousands protest in Amsterdam against Dutch coronavirus lockdown

Several thousand people held an unauthorised protest in Amsterdam on Sunday against a national lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, before being dispersed by riot police. The protesters gathered on a square in front of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum art galleries, carrying signs reading “Freedom: stop this siege” and chanting “What do we want? Freedom!”. None wore masks, which are not mandatory, and few respected social distancing rules. Authorities had declined an application for the protest to be held on Museum Square. The demonstrators refused to leave when police told them to do so, and some threw fireworks.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

I’d love to ignore ‘Covid sceptics’ and their tall tales. But they make a splash and have no shame

If you had opened certain newspapers over the past year, you would have read the following. In spring, you’d have been told the virus was fizzling out. You might have been treated to the views of epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, who claimed: “The epidemic has largely come and is on its way out in this country.” This wasn’t due to the lockdown, she argued, but “the build-up of immunity”, which government advisers were apparently underestimating. By the summer, you would have read that it was all over. In June, Toby Young, editor of the Lockdown Sceptics website predicted: “There will be no ‘second spike’ – not now, and not in the autumn either. The virus has melted into thin air. It’s time to get back to normal.” Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson wrote: “The terrible Coronabeast will be gone from these isles by September.”
17th Jan 2021 - The Guardian


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Jan 2021

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In Tokyo's lockdown, some drink on even after authorities call time

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures this month. He expanded it to 11 prefectures accounting for 55% of the population on Wednesday. Unlike in many other countries with mandatory lockdowns, Japanese authorities legally can only urge people to stay at home and businesses to close. While compliance has been high - most of Shimbashi’s karaoke bars and izakaya taverns were closed on Friday night - more people appear to be ignoring the state of emergency this time than one last year. Authorities have worried about the potential spread of infection at bars and restaurants. In Shimbashi, many drinking spots are cramped and with poor ventilation.
17th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Migrants forced to travel 85 miles for Home Office appointments as coronavirus cases soar

People are being forced to travel as far as 85 miles to attend Home Office appointments during the lockdown, prompting critics to claim the government is prioritising “distrust” of migrants over public health. Ministers are being urged to act after it emerged vulnerable asylum seekers and visa applicants have had to take long journeys on public transport in recent weeks in order to comply with Home Office rules. In March, substantive asylum interviews – during which the Home Office gathers information to determine whether someone should be granted asylum in the UK – were paused in response to the pandemic. Biometric appointments, where UK visa applicants submit their fingerprints as part of the application process, were also suspended during the first lockdown as visa application centres closed.
17th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Thousands Take To Streets To Protest Over Vienna's New Lockdown Laws As Cases Spike Again

On Saturday, January 16, thousands of people marched through Vienna to protest against the restrictions kept in place to battle the novel coronavirus. According to the reports by CNA, the demonstrators chanted "Kurz Must Go" and "Make Influenza Great Again" during marches through the city centre. Also, the demonstrators were not seen wearing any mask. The protests began when Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his government discussed extending the existing lockdown in Austria. The lockdown includes movement restrictions and the closure of all non-essential businesses. However, no official announcement has come as of now. People took to their social media handles and shared image and videos from the protest march. Let’s have a look.
17th Jan 2021 - RepublicWorld

More than 800 chain restaurants, bars and cafes close for good as Covid-19 lockdowns bite sector

More than 800 chain restaurants, bars and coffee shops have closed since the start of the Covid pandemic, research compiled for the Evening Standard has found. Covid has wrought havoc on cashflows of leisure sector operators as they have been repeatedly forced to close or only open under tough restrictions to ensure social distancing. Data compiled for the Evening Standard showed that when administrations and Company Voluntary Arrangements are included, chains with 6231 outlets have been affected. That compares with 593 closed during the two previous years, which included the one-off corporate shakeups at Patisserie Valerie and The Restaurant Group accounting for nearly 150 closures.
17th Jan 2021 - Evening Standard

Call on lockdown was not easy, assessed impact: PM

Recalling India’s fight against Covid-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the decision to go in for a nationwide lockdown in March 2020 was not easy as the government had assessed its impact on the economy and people’s livelihood and worked to devise welfare nets.
17th Jan 2021 - Times of India

People from ethnic minorities far more hesitant to take coronavirus vaccine

Scientific advisers are concerned about the coronavirus vaccine uptake among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, following the release of data from a new study. Research from the UK Household Longitudinal Study – which conducts annual interviews to gain a long-term perspective on British people’s lives – showed 72 per cent of black people said they were unlikely to have the jab. A report from Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) highlighted the persisting problems of structural, and institutional racism, and historic under representation in healthcare research, as driving the reduced levels of trust in the vaccination programme.
17th Jan 2021 - iNews on MSN.com

Aviation industry risks collapse without 'urgent' support following travel curbs

The aviation industry risks collapse without “urgent” government support, industry groups have warned following the latest travel curbs. From Monday all travel corridors to the UK will be scrapped to prevent any further spread of the new strains of coronavirus.
16th Jan 2021 - City A.M.

Biden must find words for a wounded nation in inauguration like no other

Planners have been forced to be inventive after the deadly pandemic and now last week’s Capitol insurrection dictated a pared-down event amid real fears of assassination
16th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Nigeria warns against fake COVID vaccines

Nigerian authorities have warned against fake coronavirus vaccines in the country where 10 million real doses of the shots are expected to arrive in March. “There are reports of fake vaccines in Nigeria,” Director General of Nigeria’s National Agency for Food Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC) Mojisola Adeyeye said on Friday. “NAFDAC is pleading with the public to beware. No COVID vaccines have been approved by NAFDAC. Fake vaccines can cause COVID-like illnesses or other serious diseases that could kill.” Nigeria’s anticipated vaccines add to 100,000 expected doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine although it was not specified which type of jab would be used for the 10 million doses. It was also unclear whether the batch would be financed by the African Union (AU) or as part of COVAX, which links the World Health Organization (WHO) with private partners to work for pooled procurement and equitable distribution.
15th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

COVID vaccine weekly: can the UK vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February?

The pandemic is the UK’s worst ever health crisis and, tragically, its’s been getting worse and worse. A more infectious variant of the coronavirus together with insufficient restrictions in December 2020 have sent COVID-19 cases soaring. The National Health Service is teetering on the brink, with hospitals close to capacity, and daily deaths are now in the thousands, surpassing April 2020’s peak. The UK continues to have one of the worst COVID-19 death rates in the world. However, Britain has a solution in hand, having authorised three COVID-19 vaccines for use. It’s started rolling out two (those developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca) and has delivered the first dose to more than 2.4 million people – well ahead of most other countries
14th Jan 2021 - The Conversation UK


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Italy political crisis erupts over EU Covid spending

The coalition government of centrist Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is in chaos after ex-PM Matteo Renzi withdrew his tiny party from it. Mr Renzi objects to Mr Conte's plans for spending €209bn (£186bn; $254bn) of EU recovery funds - part of a huge EU aid package for the Covid crisis. The political instability adds to Italy's current woes, with the nation mired in its worst recession since World War Two because of the pandemic. More than 80,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Italy - the worst toll in Europe after the UK.
14th Jan 2021 - BBC

Italy’s government falls into chaos, further complicating the covid response

Italy now has a political crisis on top of a resurgent pandemic. A rickety truce in the country’s ruling coalition broke apart Wednesday when former prime minister Matteo Renzi withdrew his small party’s support for the government, plunging the country into political chaos. Italy has long been used to fragile governments. Faced with a coronavirus emergency, the parties in this center-left coalition were willing to overlook their differences. But it is now clear the pandemic has outlasted the political goodwill. Italy is preparing to spend an unprecedented flow of European Union recovery money, and the argument over how to use it helped deepen personal enmity between Renzi and Conte, centrists who are competing for the same voters.
14th Jan 2021 - The Washington Post

About 150 anti-lockdown protestors, some bearing Trump flags, gather at Parliament

About 150 protestors have descended onto Parliament this afternoon, calling for an end to Covid-19 lockdowns in New Zealand. Members of the group held Donald Trump flags, anti-CCP trade agreement banners and also held signs that were against face masks. One of the protest organisers, Billy Te Kahika, addressed the crowd, accusing the Government of tyrannical behaviour. In response to the protest, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said he respected people's right to protest, but added there had been "deliberate misinformation" spread and there were no plans to lock the country down unless there was a "very good health reason to do so, and at the moment there isn't".
14th Jan 2021 - TVNZ

Skiers stopped at Eurostar for trying to escape lockdown with Swiss holiday

A group attempting to travel to Switzerland for a ski holiday were stopped from boarding a Eurostar train at London St Pancras in breach of coronavirus restrictions. Train manager Justin, who did not give his surname, posted on Twitter that French border police deployed at the station had turned the travellers away on Wednesday morning. A photograph shows the group was carrying at least one large bag of winter sports equipment.
14th Jan 2021 - Metro


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Palestinians desperately await COVID-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a coronavirus vaccine jab on December 19, kicking off a national roll-out that has made Israel the world’s COVID-19 vaccination drive leader. But while Israel’s vaccination campaign even includes Jewish settlers living deep inside the illegally occupied West Bank, it will exclude the nearly five million Palestinians living under occupation there or in the blockaded Gaza Strip. They will have to wait for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers parts of the West Bank under interim peace agreements signed in the 1990s, to provide the jabs. The Palestinian health ministry expects the first batches of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in the occupied West Bank and Gaza at the beginning of March, more than two months after Israel began its roll-out.
14th Jan 2021 - Al Jazeera English

Covid-19: Breaking down Asian vaccine myths in Lancashire

A teacher is making online videos with children to tackle myths in South Asian communities about the safety of the Covid-19 vaccine. A study recently found some ethnic minorities were targeted with inaccurate anti-vaccination messages. Neetal Parekh, from Preston, believes the language barrier is one reason why some older people have been scared to have the vaccine. She said many were being misled "simply because they do not know enough". The 36-year-old has created a collection of short videos of young children urging their grandparents to have the vaccine in a variety of South Asian languages such as Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu.
13th Jan 2021 - BBC News

As pandemic worsens, most US states resist restrictions

As the U.S. goes through the most lethal phase of the coronavirus outbreak yet, governors and local officials in hard-hit parts of the country are showing little willingness to impose any new restrictions on businesses to stop the spread. And unlike in 2020, when the debate over lockdowns often split along party lines, both Democratic and Republican leaders are signaling their opposition to forced closings and other measures. Some have expressed fear of compounding the heavy economic damage inflicted by the outbreak. Some see little patience among their constituents for more restrictions 10 months into the crisis. And some seem to be focused more on the rollout of the vaccines that could eventually vanquish the threat.
13th Jan 2021 - The Associated Press

Covid UK: Jonathan Van-Tam dismisses 3m social distancing rule

Deputy chief medical officer said extending gap would make little difference Kent strain cannot travel further through the air than regular variant, he said Masks only needed in 'high risk' indoor areas where Covid more likely to spread
13th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

'Harsh measures': Human Rights Watch raises concern about Victorian lockdown

A leading international human rights group has lashed the Victorian government for subjecting more than 3000 people in public housing towers to a mandatory lockdown and a heavy-handed police response to the state’s second wave of coronavirus cases. Human Rights Watch has said in its annual report that while Australia was a vibrant democracy with robust institutions, police efforts to enforce lockdowns during the pandemic raised concerns over freedom of expression and the misuse of police powers.
13th Jan 2021 - Brisbane Times

Meagre lockdown food parcels for English school children provoke outcry

Shared images of meagre food packages supplied to children by schools during England’s COVID-19 lockdown prompted an outcry on Tuesday and led the government to warn private suppliers to raise their standards. With England in lockdown to try to control a surge in coronavirus cases, the government has asked schools to provide free lunches for eligible children stuck at home. However, images shared online of some of the food parcels were criticized by politicians, celebrities and the public, who questioned whether they contained enough food and nutrition for the number of meals they were supposed to cover. The outcry began when one Twitter user posted a parcel she said was expected to last 10 days of lunches containing: a loaf of bread, two potatoes, two carrots, three apples, a tomato, some dried pasta, bananas, cheese, beans and other small snack
13th Jan 2021 - Reuters


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Google Launches $3 Million Fund To Tackle Covid-19 Vaccine Misinformation

Amid an ongoing effort by Google to counter the deluge of misinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, the tech giant said Tuesday it will devote up to $3 million to back fact-checking initiatives to counter vaccine misinformation, which it says has emerged as a particularly troubling phenomenon as global immunization efforts get underway.
12th Jan 2021 - Forbes

COVID-19: 'Stubborn number' of people still refusing to follow coronavirus rules

A "stubborn number" of people are still refusing to follow the rules despite England entering a third coronavirus lockdown, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council has said. Speaking at a Downing Street news conference, Martin Hewitt said forces across the UK have issued almost 45,000 fines for breaches of COVID-19 rules. Appearing alongside him was Home Secretary Priti Patel, who insisted the current restrictions were "very simple and clear" as well as being "tough enough".
12th Jan 2021 - Sky News

Analysis: Boris's Sunday spin away from No 10 undermines UK Govt's tough lockdown message

Chris Whitty, the UK Government’s chief medical brain, spent hours on the morning media shift urging people to “double down” on complying with the Covid-19 restrictions, Boris Johnson told people to "do the right thing" and stick to the rules.
12th Jan 2021 - heraldscotland.com

French far-right MEP investigated over lockdown party ruckus

The Paris prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation for “nighttime disturbance, public insults and death threats” after a December dinner party at French MEP Jérôme Rivière’s Parisian apartment while the country was under strict lockdown. Rivière, an MEP for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN), invited a handful of guests to his apartment on December 13, according to French online outlet Mediapart, which first reported on the story Monday. Neighbors complained to him about the loud music coming out of his apartment. Videos published by Mediapart show the situation took a worse turn after a police patrol checked out the building. One of Rivière’s guests was caught on camera filming a teenager who was filming him from outside, telling him: “This is for the headhunters. They’re going to cut your hair. They’re going to shave your head.”
12th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Coronavirus: Wetherspoon pub chain to remove lockdown-sceptic posters

The Wetherspoon pub chain says it will remove lockdown-sceptical posters from its venues as coronavirus continues to spread in parts of England. Last month bosses made pages from their company magazine, Wetherspoon News, available to download and put in pub windows. It was part of a campaign by chairman Tim Martin against government restrictions, which he said were “messing up the economy and also the health of the nation”. One of the flyers was pictured still visible in some pub windows this month. It reproduces a news story from 20 November last year, which cast doubt on the dire warnings of government scientists about the threat posed by the second Covid-19 wave.
12th Jan 2021 - The Independent

Boris Johnson blames China's traditional medicine for Covid pandemic

In a speech to world leaders at the One Planet Summit yesterday he attacked people who 'grind up the scales of a pangolin' in a bid to become more 'potent'.
12th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Mexico City restaurants open doors in defiance of COVID-19 ...

Several prominent restaurant chains and smaller eateries on Monday defied Mexico City's extension of a ban on dine-in service, in an act of civil disobedience against rules aimed at controlling a surge in COVID-19 cases. Fish restaurant Fisher's, steak house Sonora Grill and Potzollcalli, which sells a Mexican pork and corn soup, were among the outlets that flouted the ban. Between them, the three chains have dozens of outlets in the city area. Officials initially said a partial lockdown implemented on Dec. 19 would last until Jan. 11, but extended it after surging cases last week pushed hospitals to their limit. Hospitals in the capital are 89% full, the highest peak of the pandemic, according to city data. Nationwide, Mexico has surpassed 1.5 million cases and 130,000 deaths.
11th Jan 2021 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

The tourists who believe travel restrictions don't apply to them

As pandemic quarantines go, this might be the best: sprawling on a hotel balcony overlooking azure Caribbean waters as you bake gently in the sun. But it isn't enough for some. The past month has seen a slew of high-profile cases of tourists getting in trouble for breaking the rules while on a sun-and-sand vacation. In December, Skylar Mack, an American student, was jailed for two months when she flew to the Cayman Islands and, instead of quarantining for two weeks at her hotel as the law obliged her to do, popped out two days later to attend a jet ski competition in which her boyfriend was competing. In January, former British beauty queen and model Zara Holland and her boyfriend Elliott Love quarantined at her four-star hotel in Barbados for the required five days, before taking a second PCR test, as is required for travelers from high risk countries. So far, so good -- except that when Love's second test came back positive, rather than face further quarantine, the couple made a dash to the airport to try and catch a flight home.
11th Jan 2021 - CNN


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Police warn protesters to stay away from illegal anti-lockdown demo in Edinburgh

They said the protest, planned for Holyrood later today, was unlawful under current level 4 restrictions. And they warned that where their officers encounter ‘wilful breaches’ they will act ‘decisively’ to enforce the law. Superintendent David Robertson said: “The Scottish Government’s message is clear- ‘stay at home’. “We understand people want to make their voices heard but they must do so lawfully and safely. “Under the current level 4 restrictions, such gatherings are not permitted.
11th Jan 2021 - Daily Record on MSN.com

Canadians seethe over lockdown-defying politicians

In his Christmas Eve video message, Rod Phillips, finance minister of Canada’s largest province, sat next to a crackling fireplace and commiserated with the people of Ontario that they could not “be in person with as many family and friends as we’d like to”. In reality Mr Phillips was on vacation at a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St Barts. Despite rushing back after his trip was exposed, he resigned on New Year’s Eve. The daily tally of politicians and government officials who have flouted stay-at-home recommendations to travel abroad over the holidays has sparked outrage in a country that places a premium on following rules and has a low tolerance for hypocrisy in public life.
11th Jan 2021 - Financial Times

Germany: Anti-lockdown leader faces questions about cash flow

The leader of Germany's largest anti-lockdown movement, "Querdenken-711," has asked supporters to stop protesting until the spring. Michael Ballweg's announcement comes after the German media reported he shared the profits from Querdenken merchandise and directed donations to the movement into his personal bank account. Ballweg never registered the group as an association, a company, or a foundation and is exempt from issuing invoices for donations. Querdenken 711 gained international media attention after organizing some of Europe's largest anti-lockdown protests, which some experts believe were infiltrated by far-right extremists. Ballweg's slogan for the group is: "Where we go one, we go all," lifted directly from the QAnon conspiracy theory.
11th Jan 2021 - Business Insider

Police use force to disperse churchgoers violating lockdown regulations

Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a group of about 250 people who had gathered for a church service in Sebokeng Zone 7 in the Vaal area on Sunday. Two church leaders aged 47 and 69 were arrested for contravening level 3 lockdown regulations which do not allow for church services to be held. A 62-year-old woman was arrested for a similar contravention and for an additional charge of public violence.
11th Jan 2021 - TimesLIVE

Covid-19 Hit Hardest Where Financial Crisis Led to Health-Care Cuts

Claudio Zanon has seen firsthand how less spending on health care in recent years left Italy exposed when the coronavirus began sweeping through his country early last year. Dr. Zanon, who until the end of December was the medical director at a hospital in Como in Italy’s hard-hit Lombardy region, says when the pandemic arrived he didn’t have enough doctors and nurses. Intensive-care unit beds were scarce and there wasn’t a large network of local clinics to help take the strain. With money tight, technology used in the hospital had also fallen behind. “Italy was unprepared when the first coronavirus wave hit because the health-care system hasn’t received adequate funding in recent years,” said Dr. Zanon, who practiced as a surgeon for three decades. “If investments don’t keep up, you will inevitably see the negative results at a certain point.”
11th Jan 2021 - The Wall Street Journal

Lockdown protests erupt in Europe cities

The coronavirus is wreaking havoc across Europe but in some cities some people are fighting the stay-at-home message. Thousands turned out in central Prague on Sunday to protest against recently extended restrictions designed to contain the coronavirus. Footage of the demonstration in Prague showed many protesters not wearing masks and standing close to one other. A day earlier in Denmark, protesters became violent and lit fireworks as police arrested nine people in the capital Copenhagen and northern city Aarhus. The demonstrators, who call themselves 'Men in Black', gathered at the town hall square in Copenhagen and clashed with police in the wintry conditions. Denmark and Czech Republic are among the nations to extend lockdown measures in the fight against soaring COVID-19 infections and a new, more infectious variant.
11th Jan 2021 - The West Australian

Czechs challenge coronavirus lockdown measures with beer glass protest

Protesters in the Czech Republic have taken an unconventional approach to challenge the nation’s COVID-19 lockdown measures which have seen the closing of hotels, bars and restaurants around the country. Hundreds of demonstrators recently descended on the nation’s capital of Prague, waving empty beer glasses to protest the nation’s strict measures. Protesters then placed lit candles in the empty glasses and positioned them in a kilometre-long chain from the government building to the city’s historic Old Town Square. The glasses were placed roughly two-metres apart.
11th Jan 2021 - Sky News Australia

French resorts ask: will COVID write off whole ski season?

Business owners at France's Chamonix ski resort, their earnings slashed because of the COVID-19 lockdown, are worried they might not be able to welcome back skiers at all before the snows melt and the season ends. French ski resorts were prevented from opening their cable cars and ski lifts at the start of the season, driving away the large portion of their visitors who come for downhill skiing. The French government had discussed the possibility of re-opening the ski lifts of Jan. 7, but last week it said that with virus cases still high, that would be premature. A decision is now due on Jan. 20, leaving little time before the season ends. "If we have to close to the end of season, that's going to cost us several billion euros," said Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars in the region. "The economic impact will be catastrophic."
11th Jan 2021 - The Guardian


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Johnson under fire as UK again faces onslaught of COVID-19

The crisis facing Britain this winter is depressingly familiar: Stay-at-home orders and empty streets. Hospitals overflowing. A daily toll of many hundreds of coronavirus deaths. The U.K. is the epicenter of Europe’s COVID-19 outbreak once more, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is facing questions, and anger, as people demand to know how the country has ended up here — again. Many countries are enduring new waves of the virus, but Britain’s is among the worst, and it comes after a horrendous 2020. More than 3 million people in the U.K. have tested positive for the coronavirus and 81,000 have died — 30,000 in just the last 30 days. The economy has shrunk by 8%, more than 800,000 jobs have been lost and hundreds of thousands more furloughed workers are in limbo.
11th Jan 2021 - The Associated Press

Covid-19: US cases surge but vaccine distribution is slow

Cases of covid-19 have continued to surge in the US as only five million people were vaccinated by the end of 2020, against the 20 million promised by President Donald Trump. President Elect Joe Biden has promised to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days in office, which will begin on 20 January. There is no national plan for distributing vaccines. Each state is allotted doses based on their populations and leaders must then decide how to get the vaccines to its people. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, said in a live streamed interview with the Washington Post on 6 January that it had been “a rocky beginning” but that he hoped to see a million people being vaccinated every day.1 Collins is the boss of Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a frequently quoted expert on covid-19. Collins was asked about suggestions that only the first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine be given or that half doses of the Moderna vaccine be used. He said that the two dose regimen of both vaccines was 94% to 95% effective, which he called a “breath taking” success, and that was what should be used.
9th Jan 2021 - The BMJ

Saudi king receives first dose of a coronavirus vaccine -SPA

Saudi King Salman received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on Friday in the NEOM economic zone, the state news agency SPA said. The agency posted two pictures and a short video that showed a medical staff injecting the king with the vaccine.
9th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Frontline community nurses claim they've been beaten to the Covid vaccine by home-working bosses

Frontline community nurses have claimed home-working bosses are being vaccinated for coronavirus while they continue to wait for their jabs. One East Dunbartonshire nurse said she was furious that superiors in non patient facing roles had “jumped the queue” while she works in fear visiting several patients a day. The whistleblower, who did not want to be named, said staff had raised concern with management over the length of time they were waiting to be vaccinated, only to find out bosses at the Kirkintilloch Health and Care Centre had already been seen.
9th Jan 2021 - Daily Record

Covid: The challenge in speeding up France's vaccination drive

France has said that everyone over 75 will be able to have the coronavirus vaccine from 18 January, as part of a plan to speed up vaccinations. The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, said the government had been right to prioritise the most vulnerable, but admitted that France had lagged behind other countries in rolling out its vaccination programme. The first vaccines were restricted to elderly care home residents, and required a signed consent form and a doctor's consultation before they could be administered. But the government has faced a storm of criticism after it emerged that only 500 people had been vaccinated in the first week of the roll-out, compared to 200,000 in Germany.
9th Jan 2021 - BBC News

Scientists 'not sure' if Covid vaccine will beat South African strain, top Tory says

Despite positive news on the Pfizer jab, Grant Shapps warned the 501Y.V2 variant was the reason for him finally introducing pre-flight tests - and it'll be a 'tragedy' if it gets to the UK.
8th Jan 2021 - Mirror Online

Hospital group presses Trump administration for ongoing federal help with vaccine distribution

Richard Pollack, CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar that the slow initial rollout of the vaccine has cast doubt on the nation’s vaccination goals. Unforeseen issues have emerged in the first weeks of the rollout, he added, calling on Azar to provide more help. “As this rollout rapidly evolves, it is absolutely critical that effective situational, real-time leadership is provided nationally,” he wrote in the letter.
7th Jan 2021 - CNBC


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British health minister defends decision to space COVID-19 vaccine doses

Britain’s move to delay the second doses of COVID-19 vaccines will help save lives as more people will be able to get some initial protection, health minister Matt Hancock said on Thursday, defending a policy shift questioned by some scientists. The abrupt change of tack on Dec. 30 meant people who had been due to receive their second vaccine doses had their appointments cancelled in favour of scheduling more initial shots for others. Some scientists expressed doubts about the decision to alter proven dosing regimes. Hancock said partial protection for more people would do more good than full protection for a select few. “The justification is really clear and straightforward, which is that it saves more lives, and ultimately, that is the public health justification,” Hancock told lawmakers.
8th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Council leader's plea to Hancock as Pfizer jab due to 'run out' soon

Local leaders in Birmingham have said the city has not been supplied with stock of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine with supplies of its Pfizer/BioNTech counterpart also due to “run out” on Friday. In an open letter to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward called for exact data on constituency vaccination numbers to be shared with local officials. The letter, sent on behalf of Birmingham’s ten MPs, including Sutton Coldfield’s Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, sought “urgent clarity and reassurance” regarding the vaccination rollout across the city over the coming weeks and months.
8th Jan 2021 - ITV News

Trust in COVID-19 vaccine grows after months of decline, polls show

Confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine is growing, a USA TODAY analysis of dozens of polls and scientific papers shows. Surveys in recent weeks show close to 60% of respondents saying they’d get the COVID-19 vaccine, up from a low of 1 in 2 Americans polled in September. A Pew Research Center survey of 12,648 Americans in late November showed 60% said they’d get the vaccine if it were available today, up from 51% polled in September. The Kaiser Family Foundation noted a similar increase, with 71% of the 1,676 surveyed indicating they’d accept a COVID-19 vaccine, up from 63% in September. USA TODAY's analysis drew on methods used by Duke University and Florida State University researchers and by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to summarize vaccine polling.
7th Jan 2021 - The Arizona Republic

21 arrested at anti-lockdown protest in London, Met says

Some 21 people have been arrested amid anti-lockdown protests held near parliament Square in central London. Wednesday's demonstrations took place just days after England was placed in a national lockdown due to rising Covid-19 cases. Video and images posted to social media show a large police presence and a number of demonstrators being removed from the scene. Earlier today, the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner, Laurence Taylor, warned those planning to protest to “stay at home”.
7th Jan 2021 - The Independent

People may need coronavirus vaccine 'every six months', Matt Hancock says

People may need coronavirus vaccine 'every six months', Matt Hancock has suggested. The Health Secretary was answering questions from MPs on the Health and Social Care Committee. His comments come on the day GP surgeries in England began administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. Mr Hancock also said he believed this would be the last lockdown that was required because of the vaccine roll-out. "There is absolutely no doubt that vaccines and testing will still be a feature next year," he told MPs.
7th Jan 2021 - Manchester Evening News

Some Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem Palestinians wary of coronavirus vaccine

As Israel leads the world in the rate of coronavirus vaccination, some of its Arab citizens and Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem are regarding the shot with suspicion. In what officials see as a result of misinformation about possible side effects or supposed malicious properties, turnout for vaccines has been low among Arabs, who make up 21% of Israel’s population, and Jerusalem Palestinians. “I will not be vaccinated because I don’t know what is in there. No one explained it to me,” said Marouf Alyino of East Jerusalem. “Everyone is looking at Facebook and social media, where we hear about someone dying (after getting vaccinated).”
7th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Patients refusing Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to 'wait for English jab', doctor claims

People are reportedly delaying getting the potentially life-saving jab as the UK hit the highest number of coronavirus deaths today since the first wave in April
7th Jan 2021 - The Mirror


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 7th Jan 2021

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Leak of November lockdown plan linked to 'surge in new infections'

The leak of plans for a November lockdown in England to the media approximately a week before restrictions came into force has been linked by researchers to a jump in Covid-19 cases caused by people rushing to socialise before the deadline. “There was a surge in new infections starting a couple of days before the lockdown – and running for about a week or so after the lockdown was implemented,” said the study’s lead author, Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia.
6th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Retreat of the UK coronavirus lockdown skeptics

What a difference a month (and a new strain of coronavirus) makes. The last time MPs held a major vote on coronavirus measures, on December 1, it prompted the biggest rebellion of Boris Johnson’s premiership with 55 of his backbenchers voting against new restrictions. When the House of Commons is asked to vote on the new national lockdown on Wednesday, any such backlash among the lockdown-skeptic wing of Johnson’s party is likely to be much smaller, several MPs predicted, with a number of former rebels saying they would now back the government.
6th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu

Covid lockdown England: Met Police arrest rule-breakers in London

From today across England it is illegal to leave home without a 'reasonable excuse' such as essential shopping - Scotland Yard arrests suspects in Parliament Square and seven outside Assange case including Eric Levy, 92 - Boris Johnson will give statement to the Commons today ahead of a vote on his lockdown measures tonight - Police have warned they will be taking a tougher line on enforcing the rules with fines issued more quickly - But some officers say it will be impossible to fine every lockdown-flouter as people lie about why they're out
6th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

'No law can order us': Greek Christians defy COVID ban on Epiphany services

Greek Christian churches held Epiphany services on Wednesday, openly defying government coronavirus restrictions that banned public gatherings including religious ceremonies on one of the most important days of the Orthodox calendar. Despite a plea by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for Church authorities to set an example during a crisis that has killed more than 5,000 in Greece, worshippers attended morning services, although limits were placed on the number allowed into churches at one time. “State orders are one thing and faith is another,” said a 38-year-old worshipper who gave her name as Stavroula, after attending morning service at a church in the outskirts of Athens. “No law can order us what to do.”
6th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK


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US pharmacist 'tried to ruin Covid vaccine' because of safety fears, court told

Steven Brandenburg was detained following an investigation into spoiled vials of the Moderna jab, which would have inoculated 500 people. A US pharmacist convinced the world was “crashing down” told police he tried to ruin hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine because he believed the shots would mutate people’s DNA. Court documents from Wisconsin showed pharmacist Steven Brandenburg was detained following an investigation into the 57 spoiled vials of the Moderna vaccine, which officials say contained enough doses to inoculate more than 500 people.
5th Jan 2021 - Wales Online

Covid-19: England lockdown looms as hospital ejects 'Covid deniers'

A group of Covid-19 "deniers" were removed from a hospital by security guards after going there to take pictures of empty corridors to post on social media to back up their claims that there is no crisis, according to its chief executive. Describing the incident at Colchester Hospital, where the intensive care unit is running at maximum capacity because of the virus, Nick Hulme said it "beggars belief" some people were calling the pandemic a hoax. "Of course there are empty corridors at the weekend in outpatients, because that's the right thing to do," he added.
5th Jan 2021 - BBC News

I won’t make the same mistakes again: Milan mayor on his green Covid recovery plan

Milan’s mayor, Beppe Sala, admits he made mistakes. In late February 2020, a week after the first locally transmitted coronavirus case was confirmed in Italy, he shared a promotional video on his Facebook page with the slogan “Milan does not stop”. The clip contained images of people hugging, eating in restaurants, walking in parks and waiting at train stations. It was not Sala’s finest hour.
5th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Italy’s 5Star Movement learns to love coronavirus vaccines

Italy, the first European country to see its hospitals overflow with coronavirus cases, is rolling out vaccines that many hope will mark the beginning of the end of the crushing pandemic. But the country faces an uphill battle to immunize its population — one of the most vaccine-skeptical in Europe — especially given that one of its ruling parties has long expressed such doubts itself. The populist 5Star Movement, which governs with the center-left Democratic Party, voiced vaccine skepticism as far back as 1998, when Beppe Grillo, the movement's founder and its former leader, questioned the use of vaccines in a televised skit in front of a live audience.
5th Jan 2021 - POLITICO.eu


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Jan 2021

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Greece's Orthodox Church defies Epiphany lockdown order

Greece’s Orthodox Church said on Monday it would defy a government lockdown order imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus and open churches to the faithful during the Epiphany celebration on Jan. 6. Greece tightened coronavirus curbs for a week from Sunday and reversed an earlier decision to allow Epiphany services after hospitals struggled to deal with a flood of new cases. The Greek Orthodox Church said it had written to the government urging it to respect the agreement allowing Epiphany services to go ahead.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters

Greek Orthodox church to defy lockdown by opening for Epiphany

The Greek Orthodox church has announced it will defy government lockdown orders aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus and open places of worship to mark Epiphany this Wednesday. After an emergency session of the holy synod, its governing body, senior clerics said they would press ahead as planned and celebrate the baptism of Christ on 6 January. “The synod does not agree with the new government measures regarding the operation of places of worship and insists on what was originally agreed with the state,” the ecclesiastical body said in a statement. “It asks that the aforementioned decision be absolutely respected by the state without further ado taking into consideration … that all the foreseen hygiene measures were upheld by clerics in thousands of churches across Greece.”
4th Jan 2021 - The Guardian

Skiers ignore Covid lockdown rules in Scotland to flock to Cairngorm Mountain

Skiers from Tier 3 and 4 areas of England ignored Covid-19 lockdown rules by travelling to Cairngorm Mountain, blocking access to roads - despite the snow resort being closed under a lockdown on the Scottish mainland. The Highlands snow resort closed following an announcement that mainland Scotland was entering Tier 4 from Boxing Day. Operators at the resort say they had seen visitors arrive from across the UK, including parts of England in Tier 3 and Tier 4, despite a Government ban on all but essential travel. Blocked roads and snowy conditions at the foot of the mountain came ahead of Nicola Sturgeon's announcement today that Scotland will be plunged back into a national coronavirus lockdown.
4th Jan 2021 - Daily Mail

Education unions call for ‘pause’ in school reopenings as councils defy government

Half a dozen unions representing teachers and support staff have called on the government to "pause" its "chaotic" reopening of schools, as councils across the country move to defy ministers. Local authorities in some areas of England say they will unilaterally keep their primary schools shut, ignoring orders from Whitehall on public health grounds. Conservative-controlled Essex is among local authorities to recommend the continued closure of its primary schools, despite government designs that some would reopen as planned on Monday.
4th Jan 2021 - The Independent


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Tony Blair says UK should target five million vaccinations a week to get the country out of lockdown

The UK should be aiming to administer five million Covid-19 vaccinations a week, Tony Blair has said. Mr Blair urged ministers to change “completely” the UK’s strategy in tackling the virus and said the vaccination programme needed to be beefed up “very, very fast” if we are to avoid remaining in a “severe lockdown”. Since the rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab nearly a month ago more than one million people in the UK have received their first dose of the vaccine. The rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine begins on Monday.
4th Jan 2021 - iNews

Schools are safe, say PM Johnson as COVID-19 cases surge

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday tougher lockdown restrictions were probably on the way as COVID-19 cases keep rising, but that schools were safe and children should continue to attend where permitted. COVID-19 cases in Britain are at record levels and the increase in numbers is fuelled by a new and more transmissible variant of the virus. The government has cancelled the planned reopening of schools in and around London but teaching unions want wider closures.
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

Pope criticises people going on holiday to flee COVID lockdowns

Pope Francis condemned on Sunday people who had gone abroad on holiday to escape coronavirus lockdowns, saying they needed to show greater awareness of the suffering of others. Speaking after his weekly noon blessing, Francis said he had read newspaper reports of people catching flights to flee government curbs and seek fun elsewhere. “They didn’t think about those who were staying at home, of the economic problems of many people who have been hit hard by the lockdown, of the sick people. (They thought) only about going on holiday and having fun,” the pope said. “This really saddened me,” he said in a video address
4th Jan 2021 - Reuters UK

World Faces Covid-19 “Vaccine Apartheid”

Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey will have to be satisfied with Pfizer’s gratitude, because (like most countries in the world) they won’t be receiving enough of the vaccine to inoculate their populations, at least not anytime soon. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Germany — along with Canada and the rest of the European Union — have contracted for enough doses of various Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate their populations several times over.
2nd Jan 2021 - The Intercept

Dr. Fauci advises against the British approach of delaying a second dose of vaccine

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNN on Friday that the United States would not follow Britain’s lead in front-loading first vaccine injections, potentially delaying the administration of second doses. Britain announced a plan this week to delay second shots of its two authorized vaccines, developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca, in an attempt to dole out to more people the partial protection conferred by a single dose. “I would not be in favor of that,” Dr. Fauci told CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen, regarding altering dosing schedules for the vaccines authorized for use in the United States, made by Pfizer and Moderna. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing.”
1st Jan 2021 - The New York Times

Romney: Lack of comprehensive vaccine distribution plan is 'inexcusable' | TheHill

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) slammed federal distribution of the coronavirus vaccine on Friday, calling the lack of a comprehensive strategy “inexcusable.” Romney called the unprecedented rapid vaccine development “a tribute to the [National Institutes of Health], the [Food and Drug Administration] and to the professionals in the pharmaceutical industry.” However, he said, “unlike the development of the vaccines, the vaccination process itself is falling behind. It was unrealistic to assume that the health care workers already overburdened with COVID care could take on a massive vaccination program. So too is the claim that CVS and Walgreens will save the day: they don’t have excess personnel available to inoculate millions of Americans.”
1st Jan 2021 - The Hill

Covid-19 in Scotland: All Scots over 50 will receive vaccine by the spring

All Scots over the age of 50 will receive the coronavirus vaccine by the spring, the health secretary has promised. The first doses of the Oxford University-Astrazeneca shot will be administered from Monday. Jeane Freeman said that initially the injections would be given in a supervised setting near hospitals but would then move to GP surgeries and community hubs
31st Dec 2020 - The Times

Some Doctors in Britain Plan to Defy Instructions to Delay Vaccine Booster Shots

Some family doctors in Britain said on Thursday that they would defy the government’s instructions to postpone patients’ appointments for a second dose of coronavirus vaccine, a signal of unease in the medical community over Britain’s new plan to delay second shots as a way of giving more people the partial protection of a single dose. British doctors, who have been instructed to begin rescheduling second-dose appointments that had been set for next week, said they were loath to ask older, vulnerable patients to wait an extra two months for their booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. They said those patients had been counting on having the full protection of two doses, had already arranged for caregivers to help them get to their doctors’ offices, and could ill afford to rely on a new and untested vaccination strategy.
31st Dec 2020 - The New York Times

Sluggish Covid-19 vaccine campaign raises spectre of US dysfunction; states rewriting priorities

US health officials acknowledged that a Covid-19 immunisation campaign is crawling out of the starting gate, raising the prospect that the nation's all-in bet on vaccines could be afflicted by the same dysfunction that hobbled other measures to contain the pandemic. Only about 2.7 million Americans had been vaccinated as of Wednesday evening (Dec 30) in New York, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker. With one day remaining in the year, that represented roughly 13.5 per cent of the US's stated goal of immunising 20 million Americans by the end of 2020 - a number already repeatedly reduced.
30th Dec 2020 - The Straits Times

Some think Moderna VIPS may cut the line to get scarce Covid-19 vaccine

When biotech company Moderna announced Tuesday that it planned to offer its workforce a chance to get vaccinated with its recently authorized Covid-19 vaccine, their decision raised some eyebrows. In addition to employees, the company said it would offer shots to its board members and the “adult household members of our team.” Moderna’s decision calls into question whether there are loopholes that will allow some people to cut the proverbial line to get their shot. “What it appears to be is, privilege and power gaining priority access to the vaccine,” said Dr. William Moss, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Nancy Berlinger, a research scholar at The Hastings Center, a nonprofit think tank, agreed. “It’s a rather problematic example that [the vaccine] is going to go to the VIPs first rather than to rank and file. You can imagine people are watching this pretty closely,” she said.
30th Dec 2020 - KYMA

Questions over Britain's decision to drop two-dose vaccine regimen

Pfizer warned today there is 'no data' to show a single dose of its coronavirus vaccine provides long-term protection, after the UK scrapped its original jab rollout plan. The UK medical regulator is now recommending Covid jabs are given in two doses three months apart, rather than over the intended four-week period, to allow millions more people to be immunised over a shorter time period. But Pfizer said there was 'no data' in its studies to show its vaccine protects against Covid when taken 12 weeks apart. In a thinly-veiled swipe at the UK, the US firm warned that any 'alternative' dosing regimens should be closely monitored by health authorities. 'Data from the phase three study demonstrated that, although partial protection from the vaccine appears to begin as early as 12 days after the first dose, two doses of the vaccine are required to provide the maximum protection against the disease, a vaccine efficacy of 95 per cent,' Pfizer said in a statement. 'There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.'
30th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Israel leads the world in vaccination drive with 7% getting a dose

Israel has already given a dose of the vaccine to 644,000 of its 8.7million people Bahrain is second in the per-capita table, followed by the UK, US and Canada UK today became the first in the world to approve the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot
30th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Operation Warp Speed chief says Covid vaccine distribution 'should be better' as U.S. misses goal

The United States will not inoculate as many people against the coronavirus as it had originally hoped for by the end of this year, Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor of Operation Warp Speed, said. There are now more than 14 million doses of vaccine distributed across the U.S., the operations logistics chief said. That’s far short of the original goal of injecting at least 20 million Americans with their first shots before the end of the year.
30th Dec 2020 - CNBC

Covid vaccine scam: Fake NHS appointment texts are being used by scammers to con people out of money

Elderly people and other vulnerable Brits have been warned to be on the lookout for a cruel coronavirus phone scam that steals their cash. Fraudsters are taking advantage of the NHS Covid-19 vaccine rollout by sending convincing text messages to scam financial information.
29th Dec 2020 - The Sun


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Spain to Create a Register of People Who Refuse Covid-19 Vaccine

European governments are planning to track the number of people getting Covid-19 vaccines to help chart a path out of the crisis. France will have a registry of people who get vaccinated, and Spain will track people who refuse to get inoculated against the disease, which has caused more than 400,000 deaths in Europe. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is considering legislation to ensure unvaccinated people are treated fairly as the economy begins to open up. More than 21,000 people in the country have already received the shot developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
29th Dec 2020 - Bloomberg

China Covid-19: How state media and censorship took on coronavirus

At the start of the year the Chinese government faced two major challenges; an unknown disease which threatened to tear through its population and a wave of voices online telling the world what was happening. By the end of 2020, a glance at Chinese state-controlled media shows that both appear to be under control. The BBC's Kerry Allen and Zhaoyin Feng take a look back at the country's online government censors who worked harder than ever to supress negative information, the citizens that managed to break through the Great Firewall, and how the propaganda machine re-wrote the narrative.
29th Dec 2020 - BBC News

China sentences citizen journalist to four years in prison for Wuhan lockdown reports

A citizen journalist who documented the desperation of residents in Wuhan at the height of China's coronavirus outbreak was sentenced to four years in prison Monday in a case that underlined Beijing's extreme sensitivity to criticism of its pandemic response. In a closed-door trial that lasted less than three hours, authorities in Shanghai handed down the sentence to Zhang Zhan, 37, for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” a charge often used against dissidents.
29th Dec 2020 - Washington Post

How conspiracy theories led a 'fringe scientist' to escape quarantine

Trapped under quarantine and ravaged by allergies in a Perth hotel room, Jenny D'Ubios slid into an internet vortex of conspiracy theories in the week before her Boxing Day escape. The self-described "fringe scientist" shared with her Facebook followers articles about the dangers of 5G, a post by an anti-fluoride group that suggested coronavirus was a hoax, a video about the COVID-19 test (which was blocked by Facebook) and support for Reignite Democracy Australia, an activist group that sprang up in protest against the Melbourne lockdown.
29th Dec 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

Russian riot police arrest renegade priest in raid on convent

Riot police in Russia arrested a renegade priest in the early hours of Tuesday in a raid on a convent he had seized control of and accused him of driving children to suicide, according to his lawyer. Father Sergiy, whose real name is Nikolai Romanov, gained prominence earlier this year after denying the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic, railing against church closures due to the lockdown, and criticising the Russian Orthodox Church. He seized control of the Sredneuralsky women’s monastery near Yekaterinburg in the Urals in June and refused to leave.
29th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Dec 2020

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The perverse political effects of Covid-19

The PRC’s success in largely suppressing the disease stands in marked contrast with the terrible toll that Covid-19 has taken on the west. But politics moves in unexpected ways. Paradoxically, there is a strong case to be made that both the US and the EU may also end up being politically strengthened by Covid-19.
28th Dec 2020 - The Financial Times

EU's Borrell accuses Russia of spreading COVID-19 disinformation to sell its vaccine

The European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday that Russian public media had spread false information on European and American COVID-19 vaccines in countries where it wants to sell its own shot against the coronavirus. “Western vaccine developers are openly mocked on multi-lingual Russian state-controlled media, which has in some cases led to absurd claims that vaccines will turn people into monkeys,” Josep Borrell said in a blog post. “Such narratives are apparently directed at countries where Russia wants to sell its own vaccine, Sputnik V,” Borrell added, noting that these moves threatened public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
28th Dec 2020 - Reuters

In Hungary, politicization of vaccine hangs over immunization efforts

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has spent months boasting that Hungary was working harder than other EU countries to secure vaccines against the coronavirus, even jumping the gun to start vaccinating a day earlier than other member states. That move — disregarding the European Commission's plan for a coordinated bloc-wide rollout of the jab on December 27 — will likely be seen as an attempt to undermine the EU's vaccination strategy. It comes after Orbán complained that European regulators were taking too long to approve the vaccine and claimed that Hungary would be the first country in Europe to use Russian and Chinese shots. But months later, Hungary has no Russian or Chinese vaccine and Orbán's critics say he might have undermined confidence in getting vaccinated at all.
27th Dec 2020 - POLITICO.eu


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 22nd Dec 2020

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Surgeon general on why Donald Trump hasn't had COVID-19 vaccine

Jerome Adams was vaccinated on television on Friday along with Mike Pence. On Sunday Adams explained why the president has not yet been vaccinated. Trump had COVID in the last 90 days and had been treated with antibodies. Adams said that his recent treatment may make it wise medically to wait. Fauci agreed, saying last week that he hopes Trump will 'ultimately' get the jab
21st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Trump encouraged to get Covid vaccine to ‘generate more confidence’ in jab

Admiral Brett Giroir, a top US health official overseeing the coronavirus testing, said he would encourage Donald Trump to get vaccinated against Covid-19 to boost confidence amongst people after a recent poll suggested that half of Republicans are not in favour of getting vaccinated. “I think any leader who is influential over groups of individuals should have the vaccine,” Mr Giroir told ABC’s This Week. “I would encourage the president to get a vaccine for his own health and safety, and also to generate more confidence among the people who follow him so closely," he said. According to a Gallop survey released this month, only 50 per cent of Republicans are willing to get inoculated as against 73 per cent of Democrats.
21st Dec 2020 - The Independent

‘Start with a virus’: Trump suggests Covid-19 was invented to cost him the 2020 election

Continuing his bid to raise doubts over the election results, President Trump on Sunday retweeted a video containing several conspiracy theories around the 2020 race with a bizarre take on the origin of the coronavirus claiming it was engineered to tarnish his image. The video posted by an anonymous account called @a17time which tweets in support of President Trump showcases a string of claims starting from the origin of Covid-19 and leading to the 2020 polling and the election results. The video opens with the title in bold “How to steal an election” and voiceover says: "Start with a virus, import it into America, talk about it nonstop, call some governors, put patients into nursing homes, kill thousands, blame the president, keep blaming, blame some more," the narrator says, while shots of crowded hospitals and cemeteries play in the background.
21st Dec 2020 - The Independent

Boris Johnson facing growing anger from Tory MPs over new Covid rules

Boris Johnson is facing increasing pressure from MPs in his own party who are angry at how the government dramatically cancelled the Christmas plans for millions of people. One senior Conservative MP even accused ministers of avoiding parliamentary scrutiny by delaying the announcement until the Commons had closed for the festive period. Others called for parliament to be recalled to debate the new measures, which could see many living under new tougher tier 4 restrictions for months. Ministers insist they acted swiftly after they were informed of how contagious a new strain of the disease was on Friday.
21st Dec 2020 - The Independent

Anti-lockdown protesters arrested as hundreds gather in central London just hours before tier 4 announcement

Despite Police urging people to not gather in large groups less than a week before Christmas hundreds ofanti-lockdown protestors took stance at Parliament Square
21st Dec 2020 - The Independent

Sky News Australia is increasingly pushing conspiracy theories to a global audience online

As Australians look back on 2020, they will remember the defeat of Donald Trump, who was never popular in their country. But they may also reflect on how parts of Australia’s media, including some ostensibly subject to government regulation, have become effective second fronts in the Trumpist culture wars. A key example is Sky News Australia. For years the channel was little more than an oddity: an artefact of broadcasting regulation, only watched by momentarily distracted channel-hoppers, travellers beset by airport delays, and those involved in the dismal craft of professional politics. Around 2013, while daily programming went on as usual, at night the channel was given over to a pretty sad bunch of hard-right ideologues. One program in particular, Outsiders, became a kind of revolving door for white male reactionaries in the twilight of their relevance, whom Sky would finally put out to pasture after an unforced gaffe.
21st Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Anti-vaxxers Think This Is Their Moment

For almost as long as humanity has had vaccines, it has also had propagandists who try to scare people out of using them. Among the many medical questions contemplated in the journal The Lancet in the late 1890s and early 1900s—“Grey Hair and Emotional States,” “In Praise of Rum and Milk,” “On the Value of Cheese as a Dietetic Resource in Diabetes Mellitus”—are letters debating the efficacy of the smallpox vaccine, the age at which children should get it, the risk of the vaccine relative to the disease, and the extent to which local authorities should enforce compulsory vaccination in case of outbreaks.
21st Dec 2020 - The Atlantic


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Dec 2020

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Bolosonaro says Covid vaccine may turn people into crocodiles in bizarre rant

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has again lashed out at coronavirus vaccines, saying that Pfizer’s shot could turn people into crocodiles, among other bizarre claims. During the outlandish rant on Thursday, Mr Bolsonaro suggested that the vaccine could also lead to women growing facial hair and men speaking with effeminate voices.
20th Dec 2020 - The Independent

New national lockdown in Britain not inevitable, says minister

A new national lockdown is not inevitable in Britain to stop the spread of a new variant of coronavirus, health minister Matt Hancock said on Sunday, adding that tighter restrictions in London and southeast England should help curb the disease. Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show whether a national lockdown was inevitable, Hancock said: “Not necessarily, one of the reasons we brought in the strict travel movements in tier 4 ... is to try to stop this new variant from spreading.”
20th Dec 2020 - Reuters

Sir Paul McCartney says he’ll get coronavirus vaccine as soon as he’s allowed as it ‘will get us out of this’

Sir Paul McCartney has told how he will have the coronavirus vaccine as soon as he is able to. The former Beatle, 78, said that "the vaccine will get us out of this,” saying that it is “great news” the process is now under way. However, Sir Paul said there are still challenges lying ahead. "I mean it's going to be very difficult for a while yet, because you can't just lock down a whole country unless you're China," he told The Sun.
19th Dec 2020 - Evening Standard

Covid: The countries worried they won't get the vaccine

Pictures of the first people being vaccinated against Covid-19 haven't filled everyone around the world with joy. In some places - in countries such as Zimbabwe, Mexico and Pakistan - the battle to get hold of the vaccine is likely to be long and tortuous. Watching the vaccine roll out in the UK, Lois Chingandu wasn't excited - she was worried. Like most of us, she's looking forward to getting vaccinated and getting life back to normal. But unlike many people right now, she doesn't see light at the end of the tunnel. It's not clear when her country, Zimbabwe, will get a vaccine. "It's now just an issue of sitting and hoping if we will get it in my lifetime," she says. "I live in fear that I will contract Covid and die because of where I am sitting." It may sound like an exaggeration, but she has seen something very similar happen before.
19th Dec 2020 - BBC News

'You let them put the fear on you': Van Morrison teams with Eric Clapton for anti-lockdown song

Van Morrison has crafted yet another anti-lockdown tune, this time teaming with Eric Clapton. "Stand and Deliver," which dropped Friday, was written by Morrison and performed by Clapton. Proceeds from the blues track will go to Morrison’s Save Live Music campaign benefitting those working in the music industry in the UK and Ireland. “Eric’s recording is fantastic and will clearly resonate with the many who share our frustrations,” Morrison told Variety. “It is heart-breaking to see so many talented musicians lack any meaningful support from the government, but we want to reassure them that we are working hard every day to lobby for the return of live music, and to save our industry.”
18th Dec 2020 - USA TODAY

Rupert Murdoch Gets Covid-19 Vaccine While Profiting Off Virus Misinformation

ert Murdoch, the News Corp mogul behind The SUn and The Times, as well as Fox News, received the Covid-19 vaccine on Friday, even as hosts on his US network stoke fears about it and spread vaccine misinformation. Murdoch, 89, received the coronavirus vaccine on Friday in the UK, where people over 80 years of age are being prioritised for the vaccine. “I would like to thank the keyworkers and the [National Health Service] staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible,” he said in a statement from a representative for News Corp, of which he is chairman. “I strongly encourage people around the world to get the vaccine as it becomes available.” Murdoch may be talking up the vaccine now, but it’s a different story on Fox News in the US, which Murdoch founded and currently oversees as the Fox Corporation chairman. “I would like to thank the keyworkers and the [National Health Service] staff who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and the amazing scientists who have made this vaccine possible,” he said in a statement from a representative for News Corp, of which he is chairman. “I strongly encourage people around the world to get the vaccine as it becomes available.”
18th Dec 2020 - HuffPost UK

French Ski Industry Protests Holiday Lockdown And Fears A Lost Season In 2021

The ongoing pandemic has mountain regions, whose economies remain heavily dependent on the flux of tourists, fearing for their financial futures. Although the government has pledged financial support, many worry that stations that have already suffered several difficult years won’t make it through this crisis. So far, the pleas for a relaxation of the lockdown are falling on deaf ears. The French government is walking a dangerous line between reopening the country for holiday travel even as COVID cases are trending back up.
18th Dec 2020 - Forbes

Belgian minister tweets EU's Covid vaccine price list to anger of manufacturers

A Belgian minister has blown the lid off a sensitive and commercial secret – the price that the EU has agreed to pay for the leading Covid vaccines. Belgium’s budget state secretary, Eva De Bleeker, posted the price list on Twitter, with the amounts of each vaccine that her country intends to buy from the EU. The tweet was quickly deleted, but not soon enough to prevent interested parties taking screenshots, which have now made it public knowledge.
18th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Rupert Murdoch receives dose of Covid vaccine in UK

Rupert Murdoch has become the latest public figure to have the coronavirus vaccine, visiting his local GP’s surgery late on Wednesday to receive his first dose. A convoy of Range Rovers delivered the 89-year-old billionaire to a dedicated vaccine centre in Henley, Oxfordshire, where normal hours are understood to have been extended at the last minute. An email was sent out saying: “Just a reminder – we have been advised ‘no media coverage’ due to security issues. Please note that photography and video are strictly forbidden.” A statement issued on behalf of Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp, said he “had the vaccine at his local GP’s surgery after he received a call saying he was eligible”.
18th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

How coincidental deaths of elderly people could fuel disinformation about Covid-19 vaccine

Experts have voiced concerns that bad actors could seize upon an anticipated spate of coincidental deaths among those who get the jab to spread fear and misinformation. Stuart McDonald of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries told the BBC programme How to Vaccinate the World: “The largest priority group is the group aged 80 plus, and the average person within that group is around age 85. Life expectancy is not particularly long at that age.”
18th Dec 2020 - iNews

Oxford professor warns Covid could mutate and render vaccine useless

An Oxford professor has warned Covid mutations could render a vaccine useless. Richard Moxon - founder of the Oxford Vaccine Group - claimed that a mutation may 'suddenly change the behaviour of the virus', making it either more severe or render a jab useless. But he stressed that fears about the impact of mutations on a vaccine are currently 'unfounded'. Professor Moxon said SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus behind Covid, has gone through many changes since it was first reported. None of which have been proven to affect the efficacy of any jab. The Covid vaccine protects against the disease by teaching the immune system how to fight off the pathogen. It creates antibodies - disease-fighting proteins made and stored to fight off invaders in the future by latching onto their spike proteins. But if they are unable to recognise proteins because they have mutated, it means the body may struggle to attack a virus the second time and lead to a second infection.
18th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid vaccine volunteer struck by lightning after Moderna injection

A volunteer who signed up for Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine trial was struck by lightning 28 days after receiving the injection. That 72 year-old volunteer, whose name and gender have been withheld, met with the freak accident after getting an actual shot of Moderna’s vaccine, rather than the placedo, during the second phase of the vaccine’s trials. The bizarre incident was revealed in the US Food and Drug Administration’s written media briefing into the safety of Moderna’s new vaccine. Doctors diagnosed the lightning strike victim with arrhythmia – an irregular heart beat – believed to have been caused by the strike. No further updates have been provided on the volunteer’s condition.
18th Dec 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Covid vaccine rollout 'unfair' as 'forgotten' disabled people forced to wait

A man claims he and other disabled people are being forgotten as the coronavirus vaccine continues to be rolled out. People with learning disabilities are believed to be up to 30 times more likely to die if they contract Covid-19 but Richard Wilson, 34, has been told he must wait until the end of the worlds-largest vaccination programme to be immunised. Earlier this year, Mr Wilson, 34, who has Cerebral Palsy, made nearly 40 face masks for residents and staff at his Apple Tree House care home in Beverley using a 3D printer.
18th Dec 2020 - Hull Live

Pelosi and McConnell receive Covid vaccine as shots are reserved for senior U.S. officials

Congress, the Supreme Court, and executive branch agencies will receive a small number of doses for essential personnel under federal plans to ensure continuity of government. Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician in Congress, urged lawmakers to sign up for the vaccine. The vaccine likely won’t be available to the general public for months as Pfizer ramps up production.
18th Dec 2020 - CNBC

Russia's Putin says he hasn't had Covid vaccine yet because he's too old

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has called on the public to get the coronavirus vaccine. He said he has yet to receive it himself. Trials are ongoing into the vaccine’s safety and efficacy in the over-60s age group.
18th Dec 2020 - CNBC

Chilean president handed $3,500 fine for mask-less selfie with stranger on beach

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera was slapped with a $3,500 fine on Friday after posing for a selfie on the beach with a bystander without wearing a mask as required during the coronavirus pandemic, health authorities said. Chile has strict rules on mask wearing in all public places and violations are punishable with sanctions that include fines and even jail terms. Pinera apologized then turned himself in shortly after the selfie surfaced on social media in early December.
18th Dec 2020 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Dec 2020

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Debunked COVID-19 myths survive online, despite facts

From speculation that the coronavirus was created in a lab to hoax cures, an overwhelming amount of false information clung to COVID-19 as it circled the globe in 2020. Public health officials, fact checkers and doctors tried to quash hundreds of rumors in myriad ways. But misinformation around the pandemic has endured as vexingly as the virus itself. And with the U.S., U.K. and Canada rolling out vaccinations this month, many falsehoods are seeing a resurgence online. A look at five stubborn myths around COVID-19 that were shared this year and continue to travel:
17th Dec 2020 - The Independent

How France is confronting its big anti-vaxx problem

As it emerges from its second Covid lockdown, France is preparing to roll out one of the biggest vaccination campaigns in its history. The country has been badly battered by the pandemic, tallying 59,000 Covid deaths and 2.39 million cases so far, and the vaccine would finally offer a way out of the ordeal. Yet, Paris will now have to grapple with another alarming reality: France has become one of the most vaccine-sceptical countries in the world.
17th Dec 2020 - Wired.co.uk

‘Nightmare’ Australia Housing Lockdown Called Breach of Human Rights

An ombudsman’s report condemned a rushed lockdown of nine public housing towers in Melbourne that left thousands of residents without adequate food and medication and access to fresh air.
17th Dec 2020 - New York Times

Melbourne tower lockdown 'breached human rights'

The Victorian Ombudsman said while the decision was warranted, the residents affected were entitled to an apology. State political reporter Bridget Rollason and producer Erwin Rinaldi have the story.
17th Dec 2020 - ABC News

Australian state violated human rights in COVID lockdown-report

An Australian state’s decision to lockdown more than 3,000 people in public housing towers to contain a second COVID-19 outbreak was not based on direct health advice and violated human rights, Victoria’s state Ombudsman said in a report. Australia’s second-most populous state, Victoria, locked down nine public housing towers for several days in July due to a surge in coronavirus cases. Victoria’s acting chief health officer had only 15 minutes to consider and approve the lockdown, including the potential human rights impacts, Ombudsman Deborah Glass said in her report released on Thursday.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters Australia

Palestinians left waiting as Israel is set to deploy vaccine

Israel will begin rolling out a major coronavirus vaccination campaign next week after the prime minister reached out personally to the head of a major drug company. Millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control will have to wait much longer. Worldwide, rich nations are snatching up scarce supplies of new vaccines as poor countries largely rely on a World Health Organization program that has yet to get off the ground. There are few places where the competition is playing out in closer proximity than in Israel and the territories it has occupied for more than half a century.
17th Dec 2020 - Washington Post


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Biden to get COVID-19 vaccine next week, Pence to receive it Friday

President-elect Joe Biden will get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next week, transition officials said on Wednesday, as U.S. authorities try to build public confidence in a measure that promises to stanch the deadly pandemic. Vice President Mike Pence will get the vaccine on Friday, the White House said. Both men will receive the shot publicly in an effort to boost confidence in the safety of the vaccine, which will become widely available to the public next year. “I don’t want to get ahead of the line but I want to make sure that we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden said at an event earlier on Wednesday. Biden, 78, is in a high-risk category for the coronavirus because of his age.
17th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

TikTok update targets Covid vaccine misinformation

TikTok is cracking down on Covid-19 vaccine misinformation through a suite of new changes aimed at protecting vulnerable users from harmful conspiracy theories. The video-sharing app will introduce a new tool to detect content relating to the Covid-19 vaccine as part of a series of updates being released later this month. From that date, any relevant videos will come with a banner message attached, stating: “Learn more about Covid-19 vaccines.” Coronavirus vaccinations developed by Pfizer and BioNTech began to be administered in the UK last week and have since begun in the US and other countries.
16th Dec 2020 - The Independent

‘Maskless’ Santa Claus exposes 50 children to Covid-19 in Georgia

A Georgia couple who appeared last week as Mr and Mrs Santa Claus for an event attended by at least 50 children and posed with them for pictures, tested positive for coronavirus two days after the event, exposing them to risk of infection. Most of the children came in close contact with the couple and some of them even sat on their laps. The pictures from the event also showed the man dressed up as Santa Claus posing without a mask on.
16th Dec 2020 - The Independent

French culture takes centre stage in Covid protest

Hundreds of actors, theatre directors, musicians, film technicians and critics, and many others from the world of French culture gathered in the heart of Paris and other cities on Tuesday to protest against the government's shutdown of culture venues because of Covid-19. Cinemas, theatres, museums and concert halls had been set to reopen, but days in advance Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a change of heart in response to France's stubbornly high infection rate. No reopening will take place now until at least 7 January - a decision Mr Castex said was "particularly painful for us".
16th Dec 2020 - BBC

Ukraine says dozens of police hurt in clashes with lockdown protesters

One police officer was knocked unconscious and 40 others received chemical eye burns from gas on Tuesday in clashes between police and thousands of people protesting a government lockdown to fight the coronavirus, the interior ministry said. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government has announced a tight national lockdown starting in January to fight the spread of COVID-19, in the wake of a recent spike in cases. At a rally of entrepreneurs and representatives of small businesses on Kyiv’s Independence Square, clashes between helmeted riot police and demonstrators erupted after the protesters tried to set up tents.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Amazon asks U.S. to include warehouse, grocery staff in vaccine rollout

Amazon.com Inc on Wednesday asked the U.S. government to prioritize essential workers including its warehouse, grocery store and data center staff for receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a letter seen by Reuters. The request shows how the country’s second-biggest private employer, with 800,000 workers in the United States, considers the vaccine important to keeping its staff safe and its facilities open. The U.S. National Retail Federation made a similar request on the industry’s behalf Wednesday as well.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters

After experts criticized its approach, Facebook overhauls its Covid-19 misinformation policy

Facebook has overhauled its approach to harmful Covid-19 health misinformation, announcing major changes that would send a much stronger message to users who have interacted with harmful falsehoods about the virus. The decision on Tuesday comes after STAT reported in May on expert criticism of the social network’s handling of falsehoods about Covid-19 from the researchers whom Facebook said it had consulted to design the policy. Those experts told STAT that Facebook appeared to have misinterpreted the research and that the social media platform’s approach was unlikely to be effective.
16th Dec 2020 - STAT News

Kansas mayor resigns after threats over backing mask mandate

Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw stepped down over concerns for her safety. She received threats after she advocated mask mandates in a USA Today story. Warshaw said 'people are not acting normally' during the pandemic. Despite resigning, she said she doesn't regret backing the mask mandate
16th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

WhatsApp rumours fear over BAME Covid vaccine take up

People from ethnic minorities in the UK are significantly less likely to take the coronavirus vaccine - with warnings of targeted online scaremongering. A study from the Royal Society for Public Health found 57% of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people said they would take the vaccine. This compared with 79% of white people who would take a Covid vaccine. Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi warned of the impact of conspiracy theories being shared online.
16th Dec 2020 - BBC

Analysis: After the cheers come jeers for Germany's Merkel over COVID-19

Chancellor Angela Merkel banged the podium in frustration as she implored Germans this month to reduce social contacts to curb the spread of COVID-19. At one point in her unusually passionate address to parliament, during which she was heckled, she brought her hands together as if in prayer. At others, she shook her fist. “I want to say this: if we have too much contact over Christmas, and afterwards it turns out that that was the last Christmas with the grandparents, then we will have really messed up and we should not mess up!” she said. Merkel’s rare show of emotion on Dec. 9 was widely seen as a sign of impatience with the difficulties - and now criticism - she faces as she tries to steer Europe’s biggest economy through a second wave of COVID-19.
16th Dec 2020 - Reuters


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COVID-19 vaccine costs could reach £12bn, as drug companies demand immunity from potential legal cases

Up to 267 million doses of COVID vaccines were purchased by the government at a cost of £2.9 billion, according to the public spending watchdog. And the National Audit Office (NAO) estimates the total cost of buying and deploying vaccines - and investing in global access schemes - could reach £11.7bn.
16th Dec 2020 - Sky News

France’s culture sector protests as theatres, museums remain in lockdown

French cultural actors and organisations have protested after the government's decision to leave venues such as theatres, cinemas and museums closed for another three weeks, at least until 7 January, despite lifting the second Covid-19 lockdown on Tuesday. In France, 15 December marks the lifting of the six-week-long second lockdown. But cultural venues have been left out. The decision provoked anger across the sector, with the CGT-spectacle union calling a demonstration at Paris's Place de la Bastille on Tuesday. Demonstrators chanted "open up theatres", "open cinemas" and "lift the lockdown on culture".
15th Dec 2020 - Yahoo News UK

Many African, Asian families marry off daughters amid virus

The man first caught a glimpse of Marie Kamara as she ran with her friends past his house near the village primary school. Soon after, he proposed to the fifth-grader. “I’m going to school now. I don’t want to get married and stay in the house,” she told him. But the pressures of a global pandemic on this remote corner of Sierra Leone were greater than the wishes of a schoolgirl. Nearby mining operations had slowed with the global economy. Business fell off at her stepfather’s tailoring shop, where outfits he had sewn now gathered dust. The family needed money. Her suitor was a small-scale miner in his mid-20s, but his parents could provide rice for Marie’s four younger sisters and access to their watering hole. They could pay cash. Before long, Marie was seated on a floor mat in a new dress as his family presented hers with 500,000 leones ($50) inside a calabash bowl along with the traditional kola nut
15th Dec 2020 - The Associated Press

California orders 5,000 body bags amid "most intense" coronavirus surge

California has ordered 5,000 body bags as the state undergoes its "most intense" COVID-19 surge to date, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. Why it matters: California saw 32,326 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and has reached a 14-day average positivity rate of 10.7%, its highest since the pandemic began. With daily COVID deaths four times higher than they were just a month ago, the state has placed 60 53-foot refrigerated storage units on standby and activated its coroner mutual aid and mass fatality program.
15th Dec 2020 - Axios

2.7 billion people did not get state aid during pandemic: Oxfam

The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures to contain it have hit millions of people hard, with poverty set to increase sharply in almost every country for the first time in decades unless action is taken now, according to a new report by Oxfam. Hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs and income, and 2.7 billion people have not received any public financial support to deal with the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Oxfam said in the report published on Tuesday.
15th Dec 2020 - AlJazeera


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Covid-19: Trump rejects plan for early vaccines at White House

US President Donald Trump says he has reversed a plan for White House officials to receive a coronavirus vaccine in the coming days. Officials said senior members of the Trump administration would be among the first to get the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. But Mr Trump later tweeted that people working at the White House "should receive the vaccine somewhat later... unless specifically necessary". The US will begin its roll out of the vaccine on Monday. The vaccine offers up to 95% protection against Covid-19. The first three million doses are being distributed to dozens of locations in all 50 states across the US. The first shipment of those doses left a facility in Michigan on Sunday, with health workers and the elderly in line to receive the first shots.
14th Dec 2020 - BBC

Donald Trump reverses plan to give White House officials Covid vaccine

The US recorded another 1,389 deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday, pushing the toll closer to 300,000 as hospitalisations continued to hit new heights. There was a ray of hope on Monday morning, however, as the first vaccinations were carried out using the Food and Drug Administration-approved Pfizer vaccine. “I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” said critical case nurse Sandra Lindsay after getting a shot at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York. Watching via video, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said: “This is the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a long tunnel.” From Washington, Donald Trump tweeted: “First Vaccine Administered. Congratulations USA! Congratulations WORLD!”
14th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

‘There will be consequences’: Christmas coronavirus easing a ‘mistake’ as fears of new year death toll grow

Relaxing coronavirus restrictions over Christmas a “mistake” which pull put lives at risk, a leading public health expert has said, as NHS leaders warned Boris Johnson they feared a third wave of infections. Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, added her voice to growing calls among scientists for the UK governments to rethink an easing of Covid-19 rules over the festive period. "From a public health perspective, I have to be perfectly honest, I think this is a mistake,” she said. "I think it's going to have consequences." She spoke out on Saturday as the UK recorded another 519 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
14th Dec 2020 - The Independent

48 hours in September when ministers and scientists split over Covid lockdown

In its latest investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic, Insight asks whether the PM’s decision to prioritise the economy over ‘following the science’ led him to repeat the errors of the spring
14th Dec 2020 - The Times

US officials plan to split $908bn COVID-19 package in two: Report

A $908bn bipartisan COVID-19 relief plan set to be introduced in the United States Congress as early as Monday will be split into two packages in a bid to win approval, a person briefed on the matter told the Reuters news agency. The plan’s highlights were made public on December 1, but the authors now plan to divide them into two proposals that could be voted on separately, the source said.
14th Dec 2020 - AlJazeera


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Fears of new Covid restrictions as councils struggle to fund self-isolation

More than 17 million people are living in areas under tier 2 restrictions that have seen infection rates rise over the last three weeks, new research has revealed amid growing concerns that councils are struggling to help people with the costs of self-isolation. With the government due to review the Covid-19 measures across England this week, an assessment of official data found that more than half of councils in which tier 2 restrictions are in place – or “high alert” areas - have seen infection rates rise since the last week of November. The areas cover some 17.5 million people. The research, carried out by Labour, found that 100 local authorities have seen an increase in cases since 24 November, compared with 87 that have seen a decrease. It has raised concerns that more areas could face the most restrictive tier 3 measures from this week. London is in danger of entering tier 3, with some boroughs suffering from the highest rates of the disease in England.
13th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Up to 40 million Americans could lose their homes if Congress doesn't act: "It's life or death for me"

Ten months into the pandemic, renters owe an estimated $70 billion in back rent — and if the hold is not extended, 30 to 40 million Americans could lose their homes, CBS News' Nancy Cordes reports. The CDC had put a temporary hold on all evictions, to protect public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, more coronavirus relief spending is again bogged down in Congress, and many Americans are already getting warnings that they will be tossed out if lawmakers don't act. In Houston, Texas, more than 17,000 evictions have been initiated since the pandemic began, and 300,000 or more could be coming if the federal moratorium is allowed to expire.
13th Dec 2020 - CBS News

Bolsonaro branded 'homicidally negligent' over Brazil's vaccine planning

Jair Bolsonaro is facing a furious backlash over what critics are calling his “homicidally negligent” failure to prepare a coherent coronavirus vaccination programme as Brazil’s death toll again soars. More than 181,000 Brazilians have died from the disease the president calls “a little flu”, with Latin America’s biggest economy now careering into a painful second wave. But Bolsonaro’s far-right administration has been sluggish to explain plans to vaccinate Brazil’s 212 million citizens, betting nearly all of its chips on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
13th Dec 2020 - The Guardian

FDA chief seeks to reassure Americans about COVID-19 vaccine: "I will absolutely" take it

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn sought to reassure the public on Saturday about the thoroughness of the agency's review of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, and that the benefits of theCOVID-19 vaccine outweigh any risks, after the agency authorized it for emergency use on Friday evening. "Efficiency does not mean any cutting of corners," Hahn said at a press conference. "I will absolutely take this COVID-19 vaccine, pending availability and distribution, because I have complete trust and confidence in the FDA's career staff's evaluation," he said.
12th Dec 2020 - CBS News

India's drug regulator has failed the pandemic stress test

The Covid-19 pandemic has served as a stress test for drug regulators across the world. India’s has failed. Amid the desperate scrambles for therapeutics and vaccines to stem the havoc caused by the pandemic, drug regulators have had to resist tremendous political pressure to approve unproven therapies. Rick Bright, the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the federal agency that helps secure the U.S. from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and emerging infectious disease threats, left his position, alleging in his whistleblower complaint that he faced political pressure to allow the distribution of hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug for treating Covid-19 that had been championed by President Trump.
12th Dec 2020 - STAT

More Brazilians sceptical of COVID-19 vaccine: Poll

Scepticism towards a COVID-19 vaccine has increased in Brazil during the past months, a new poll showed on Saturday, as the country continues to grapple with high infection and death rates linked to the virus. The Datafolha polling institute’s survey found that 22 percent of Brazilians said they would be unwilling to take any COVID-19 vaccine, up from 9 percent in August.
12th Dec 2020 - AlJazeera

Anthony Fauci Reveals His Biggest COVID Vaccine Fear

As the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was out for a walk in the dark. “Sorry if I’m out of breath,” he said. “I’m walking. I promise I’m not having a heart attack.” He’s walking these days, he says, because his schedule has been so tightly packed in recent weeks that by the time he gets home it’s too ill-lit to run. And this day in particular has been extra draining, he says, primarily because of the anticipation that the vaccine would soon be on its way to states across the country.
12th Dec 2020 - Daily Beast

UK: Why do some ethnic minorities fear the coronavirus vaccine?

When 29-year-old Shabrez Ali from Bradford was a child, his mother was cautious about vaccines.“For the longest time, my mum didn’t want me to take jabs during primary and secondary school,” Ali, who has South Asian origins, told Al Jazeera by phone.He was not sure why, but guessed, “it may have been due to some potential conspiracies she might have heard in the past”. Since the UK went into its first coronavirus lockdown in March, Ali, who suffers from an autoimmune condition, has barely left the house. He had received a letter from the government urging him to “shield” because the immunosuppressant drugs he takes made him vulnerable.
8th Dec 2020 - AlJazeera


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Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic

Early in the pandemic, Joo Park noticed a worrisome shift at the market he manages near downtown Washington: At least once a day, he’d spot someone slipping a package of meat, a bag of rice or other food into a shirt or under a jacket. Diapers, shampoo and laundry detergent began disappearing in bigger numbers, too. Since then, he said, thefts have more than doubled at Capitol Supermarket — even though he now stations more employees at the entrance, asks shoppers to leave backpacks up front and displays high-theft items like hand sanitizer and baking yeast in more conspicuous areas. Park doesn’t usually call the police, choosing instead to bar offenders from coming back.
10th Dec 2020 - The Washington Post

No, the COVID-19 Vaccine is not made from aborted babies…

You may have seen a story doing the rounds on social media about the new Covid-19 vaccine being made from the cells of aborted babies. Like most rumours on social media, it is just not true. A simple way to check if a story is true is to look it up on Snopes – the fact-checking site
10th Dec 2020 - Slugger O'Toole

Covid: 'How a picture of my foot became anti-vaccine propaganda'

Patricia is suffering from an unexplained skin condition - but a misunderstanding about what might have caused it set off a chain of events that turned her foot into fodder for anti-vaccine activists. The picture showed purple and red sores, swollen and oozing with pus. "Supposedly this is a [vaccine] trial participant," read the message alongside it. "Ready to roll up your sleeve?" Within a day, those same feet had been mentioned thousands of times on Instagram and Facebook. The picture went viral on Twitter as well.
10th Dec 2020 - BBC

Fauci is 'concerned' about possible allergies to Pfizer's covid shot

Dr Anthony Fauci admitted that the allergic reactions to PFizer's shot reported in the UK were 'obviously of some concern' during a Harvard forum Wednesday He wasn't entirely surprised though, and said these types of responses are likely rare. Both people who suffered anaphylactic reactions in the UK had a history of general allergic reactions and carried rescue shots. Dr Fauci says it will likely only be other people with these types of allergies that are at possible risk. But he added the US may want to reconsider holding off on giving the shots to people in VAs, orhaving rescue shots on hand for vaccinations
10th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

DUP councillor says he won't take coronavirus vaccine claiming it 'contains tissue from aborted babies'

A DUP councillor has said he will not take the coronavirus vaccine, claiming it "contains stem cells and tissue from aborted babies". John Carson's comments have been strongly condemned as "dangerous misinformation" and rejected by Stormont's Department of Health. The Mid and East Antrim councillor was asked on Facebook whether he would take the coronavirus vaccine, to which he replied: "Definitely no!!!" When a Facebook user then asked him why some people do not want the jab, he responded: "It contains stem cells and tissue from aborted babies."
10th Dec 2020 - Belfast Live

Scammers targeting elderly with promise of coronavirus vaccine

Scammers are trying to use the Covid-19 vaccine rollout to take elderly people’s money in one part of Wirral. Older residents in the New Ferry area are being targeted by con artists who ring them with an automated voice telling them they have been selected to receive the coronavirus vaccine and to press a number to arrange a booking. On its Facebook page, Wirral Council said elderly people with 0151 645 numbers were being targeted and scammers were calling them from the number 075374 00307. The authority’s post added: “This is a scam. Pressing the number will allow them to charge your phone company and take a sum of money from your account. Please warn elderly vulnerable residents to be on their guard to avoid being scammed.”
10th Dec 2020 - Liverpool Echo

Germany notes 'violent potential' among anti-lockdown protesters

Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, said large turnouts of the "Querdenker" (lateral thinker) movement — seen at recent anti-Corona-lockdown protests — harbored "intensified escalation potential." The Cologne-based office tasked with upholding Germany's post-war constitution told newspapers of the Funke Media Group on Thursday that this had been the case at large protests where far-right groups had urged attendance. Small rallies had also taken place and were largely peaceful, the BfV said, albeit adding that there had been "attacks" on police units and media representatives at large gatherings.
10th Dec 2020 - DW (English)

Reasons why Victoria’s lockdown challenge failed in the High Court

A Victorian hotelier’s bid to overturn the state’s strict lockdown laws failed because there’s no freestanding guarantee to freedom of movement, according to the country’s highest court. Mornington Peninsula hotel owner Julian Gerner wanted the High Court to declare Victoria’s strict lockdown – which lifted in October – invalid. His lawyer Bret Walker SC argued in November the strict lockdown violated Australians’ constitutional right to a “free and confident society”.
10th Dec 2020 - The Australian


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US megachurches rebrand as 'strip clubs' to dodge lockdown

Two California megachurches have continued to defy the state's coronavirus ban on indoor worship services, rebranding themselves as "strip clubs". News outlet DSIRN reported that Awaken Church in San Diego and Godspeak Calvary Chapel had both declared themselves strip clubs after their pastors took off a tie before their congregation. Strip clubs are currently allowed indoor patrons under California law.
9th Dec 2020 - 9News

German intelligence places coronavirus protesters under observation - media

German intelligence agents have placed under observation a group of protesters against coronavirus restrictions, citing the influence of radicals including far-right Nazi admirers. The domestic intelligence service in the southwestern Baden-Wuerttemberg region put the “Querdenken 711” group on a watch-list due to its increasing radicalisation, the state’s interior ministry said on Wednesday. “Querdenken 711” was founded early in the pandemic by IT entrepreneur Michael Ballweg in the affluent city of Stuttgart and helped begin a nationwide movement.
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters

North Korea berates South Korea's top diplomat for doubt over 'zero COVID-19 cases'

North Korea lashed out at South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha for casting doubt over its claim that there were no coronavirus outbreaks there, warning of consequences for her "impudent" comment,
9th Dec 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

North Korea says South will ‘pay dearly’ for questioning its Covid success story

North Korea lashed out at the “reckless” comments of a South Korean minister on Wednesday, after Seoul openly questioned Pyongyang’s claims to have not had a single Covid-19 case. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha risked further damaging the already strained relations between the neighbours for saying it is “hard to believe" the North Korean coronavirus success story.
9th Dec 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

South Korea questions Pyongyang's claims to be virus-free

The sister of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lambasted South Korea’s foreign minister for casting doubt over Pyongyang’s claim that the country has no coronavirus cases. North Korea closed its borders in January to avoid a spread of the virus and has insisted that it has had no cases. Experts have suggested that this is unlikely since the virus first emerged in China and North Korea relies on its neighbour for trade. Kang Kyung-wha, South Korea’s foreign minister, said that it was “hard to believe” that the North had had no cases.
9th Dec 2020 - The Times

He Broke Out of Quarantine for 8 Seconds, and Got a $3,550 Fine

One man left the house after an argument with his wife and walked 280 miles to cool off, breaching Italy’s national curfew. Another man wandered outside his quarantine room in Taiwan for eight seconds and caught the attention of the authorities. Still another drove 19 miles for a butter chicken curry during a strict lockdown and was apprehended by the Australian police. All those actions ended up costing them thousands of dollars in penalties.
9th Dec 2020 - The New York Times

Covid data which forced Boris into second lockdown quietly downgraded

Concerns have been raised about Covid-19 figures used by the Government to trigger a second national lockdown after they were dramatically lowered restrospectively. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has dropped its estimate of the infection rate of coronavirus in England at the end of October by almost half. In its report, which was used to provide key data to back the national restrictions, the ONS estimated that 9.52 people per 10,000 were catching the virus by October 17 – a considerable spike from 4.3 people on October 3.
9th Dec 2020 - Metro


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Covid: Biden vows 100m vaccinations for US in first 100 days

US President-elect Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million Covid vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. He said his first months in office would not end the outbreak and gave few details on rollout strategy but he said he would change the course of Covid-19. Introducing his health team for when he takes office on 20 January, he urged Americans to "mask up for 100 days". On Tuesday, a report paved the way for a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be approved and rolled out for Americans. President Donald Trump meanwhile attended a summit at the White House of his Covid vaccination programme called Operation Warp Speed and hailed the expected approval of vaccines.
9th Dec 2020 - BBC

Critics of hydroxychloriquine to treat Covid-19 are guilty of ‘medical McCarthyism,’ controversial doctor says

“Earlier this year, we faced a new, dangerously infectious virus, and such a health crisis – like any other crisis with an unknown and unproven enemy – cannot rely exclusively on the tried and true,” Ramin Oskoui, vice president of the medica staff at Washington’s Sibley Memorial Hospital, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. “But it was worse than that. Affirmative steps to keep physicians and patients ignorant were taken.” “Medical McCarthyism became the norm,” he added, comparing criticism of medical experts and politicians who pushed malaria drugs like hydroxychloriquine to treat Covid-19 to the push by then-Senator Joseph McCarthy of accusing alleged communist sympathisers of treason. The use of anti-malarials and other drugs to treat Covid-19 has been roundly rejected by the US and Western medical community. Despite the president repeatedly pushing hydroxychloriquine, describing it as something of a Covid wonder drug, his own Food and Drug Administration in July said it was not suited to treat the respiratory disease.
8th Dec 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

Police raid home of Florida Covid-19 tracker creator

Florida police have raided the home of data scientist Rebekah Jones, who built the state's official Covid-19 database. Ms Jones has accused the US Department of Health of manipulating virus data in order to relax pandemic restrictions. She posted a series of videos of the raid on Twitter, in which armed officers seized her phone and laptop. Florida's law enforcement department said it was responding to a hack of the state's emergency health alert system. Ms Jones denies any involvement. Ms Jones was fired from her job at the Department of Health in May after making her accusations, and has since maintained her own database, independently tracking the spread of the virus.
8th Dec 2020 - BBC

Covid: Did Boris Johnson order lockdown based on false data? | ITV News

When shaping policy to protect us from Covid-19, the government relies on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to provide the scientific basis for its actions. The weekly ONS coronavirus survey is supposed to be the information gold standard - and in particular it underpinned Boris Johnson's controversial announcement at the end of October to put England back into national lockdown. No other course of action seemed sensible, given that the ONS survey on October 30 showed the incidence of coronavirus in the community in England had surged from 4.3 per 10,000 people on October 3 to 9.52 on October 17, the latest date for data then available. This was a terrifyingly fast doubling rate.
8th Dec 2020 - ITV News

Amid resistance, California imposes strict stay-at-home orders

Most Californians faced heavy new restrictions on Monday aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, while New York’s governor threatened to ban indoor restaurant dining in New York City as the United States feared infections would continue skyrocketing. Restaurants in Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area and the state’s agricultural San Joaquin Valley shut for all but takeout and delivery. Playgrounds closed, stores reduced capacity and hair salons and barbershops shuttered. The moves affected about three-quarters of the nearly 40 million people in America’s most-populous state. California Governor Gavin Newsom’s order allowed some schools to continue to hold classes. But the Los Angeles Unified School District, the state’s largest, closed campuses that had been partially open to offer in-person services and tutoring, affecting many special-needs students.
8th Dec 2020 - Reuters


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COVID-19: V-Day is a 'key moment in our fight back against this terrible disease'

People in the UK will start being vaccinated today against COVID-19, on what's being dubbed V-Day. Fifty hospitals will administer the jab from early this morning. The vaccine, developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, has been distributed across the whole of the UK.
8th Dec 2020 - Sky News

India: Unidentified disease kills one, hundreds hospitalised

One person has died and more than 400 have been taken to hospital in southern India due to an unidentified infection that caused many to fall unconscious following seizures and nausea, according to a senior health department official. The illness was detected on Saturday evening in Eluru, an ancient city in Andhra Pradesh. Since then, patients have experienced symptoms ranging from nausea and anxiety to loss of consciousness, doctors said. Government and medical authorities in Andhra Pradesh said more than 200 people were discharged at the weekend and that tests had ruled out COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Further serological tests are under way. state famous for its hand-woven products.
7th Dec 2020 - AlJazeera

Pfizer, Moderna decline invitations to White House 'Vaccine Summit'

Both Pfizer and Moderna, the two major drug manufacturers likely to receive emergency authorizations for a Covid-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, have rejected invitations from President Trump to appear at a White House “Vaccine Summit” on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the event’s planning. The Trump administration has openly feuded with Pfizer in recent weeks over its involvement in Operation Warp Speed and the timing of a data release showing its vaccine to be highly effective, but had nonetheless invited CEO Albert Bourla to appear on a panel about the vaccine development process. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel was also invited, but neither he nor another company executive will attend.
7th Dec 2020 - STAT


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COVID-19: Anti-lockdown and vaccine protests held across Australia

Anti-lockdown and vaccine protests have been held across Australia, with hundreds gathering in Sydney to hear from COVID-19 sceptics at a self-described “freedom” rally. The Sydney protest was observed by police but appeared to remain peaceful, with a NSW Police spokesperson confirming to NCA NewsWire there were no arrests. The rallies took place despite more significant easing of restrictions in NSW and Victoria following weeks of extremely low or zero case numbers. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told Sky News on Sunday morning he had complete confidence in the Therapeutic Goods Administration and medical experts, who had kept Australia safer than most countries in the world. He urged against complacency about COVID-19 and said it remained a contagious and deadly virus.
6th Dec 2020 - The Australian

German court upholds ban on coronavirus demonstration

Germany’s highest court upheld on Saturday a ban on a demonstration in the northern city of Bremen planned by opponents of lockdown measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus. Lower courts had already denied permission for the protest, planned for Saturday afternoon, at which 20,000 demonstrators were due to convene in the city centre of Bremen. Last month, German police unleashed water cannon and pepper spray in an effort to scatter thousands of protesters in Berlin angry about coronavirus restrictions.
6th Dec 2020 - Reuters

German police break up banned coronavirus demonstration

German police intervened on Saturday to break up a demonstration by opponents of coronavirus lockdown measures in the northern city of Bremen after the protest was banned by the country’s highest court. Germany’s constitutional court upheld earlier rulings by lower courts that had already denied permission for 20,000 demonstrators to convene in the city centre of Bremen. However, hundreds of people still gathered, some of them opponents of the government’s coronavirus measures and others part of a counter-demonstration.
6th Dec 2020 - Reuters India

Coronavirus: Care homes to receive Pfizer vaccine within two weeks, says regulator

Care homes are set to receive deliveries of coronavirus vaccine within the next fortnight, after the UK’s medicines regulator gave approval for packs received by the NHS to be broken down into smaller batches for distribution. Residents and staff at care homes have been placed top of the priority list for the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, but prime minister Boris Johnson said that logistical difficulties were likely to delay the delivery of the life-saving vaccine. But now the chief executive of the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), June Raine, has said that doses will “definitely” arrive at homes within the next two weeks. The problem arose because the vaccine shots arrive from manufacturers in Belgium in pizza box-style cases each containing 975 vials, which must be kept below -70 degrees celsius before use
5th Dec 2020 - The Independent

Joe Biden: Covid vaccination in US will not be mandatory

President-elect Joe Biden says Americans won't be forced to take a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available in the US. It comes as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the first time urged "universal mask use" indoors, unless when Americans are at their own home. The CDC said the US had "entered a phase of high-level transmission" of the virus. On Friday the US recorded over 2,500 deaths and nearly 225,000 new cases. It has confirmed 14.3 million cases and more than 278,000 deaths.
4th Dec 2020 - BBC

Some Leeds vegans may shun Covid-19 vaccine due to animal testing

The testing of the Covid-19 vaccine on animals has caused controversy among some Leeds vegans. Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust is one of 50 trusts ready to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from next week, with the most vulnerable first in the queue alongside frontline medical and care staff. The mass-vaccination of the public in Leeds is then expected to follow, starting early in the new year.
4th Dec 2020 - Leeds Live

The claim that Brexit helped secure a Covid-19 vaccine is dangerous to public health

That’s the question being asked after Matt Hancock and Jacob Rees-Mogg falsely claimed Britain was only able to expedite the use of the vaccine thanks to Brexit (we are still, in the operation of our laws, institutions and businesses, EU members until the transition period ends on 31 January, and we have temporarily approved the vaccine under measures available to all EU states). It’s a claim that neither Boris Johnson last night, nor Gavin Williamson this morning, were willing to support, with each finding different ways to avoid the question. Nonetheless, it has fuelled concerns about the speed of the process, including among Morning Callers, who sent more emails about this subject than I have ever received on a single topic, so I wanted to use today’s email to explain in more detail why the British government has done this and what the consequences are, while hopefully reassuring readers.
4th Dec 2020 - New Statesman

With vaccines on the way, Mexico sees 'beginning of the end' of pandemic

Mexico is seeing “the beginning of the end” of the coronavirus pandemic with the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which should start arriving in the next few weeks and could continue coming for a year, the foreign ministry said.
4th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Letitia Wright is slammed for posting video that questioned the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine

The British actress was slammed by her Marvel co-star Don Cheadle on Thursday She had posted YouTube clip that questioned the efficacy of the coronavirus jab She posted link to UK Youtuber and self-declared 'prophet' Tomi Arayomi's post Cheadle and hundreds of others called her out online for the 'hot garbage' claim Wright doubled down today, saying she wanted to raise her fears about vaccines
4th Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

UK hopes for millions of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses this year - minister

Britain hopes that millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered by the end of the year but the total will depend on how quickly it can be manufactured, Britain’s business minister Alok Sharma said on Friday. Britain approved Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, jumping ahead of the rest of the world in the race to begin the most crucial mass inoculation programme in history. Last month Britain said it expected 10 million doses of the shot in 2020, but the government has said the pace of roll-out will be dependence on delivery. It has ordered 40 million doses in all, enough to vaccinate 20 million people.
4th Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

CHART: How Much COVID-19 Vaccine Has Each Country Claimed? : Goats and Soda

Health care workers first, along with residents and staff of nursing homes. Those people should receive the COVID-19 vaccine before anyone else, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. That recommendation applies to the U.S. But what about health care workers in other countries? Or the elderly with health conditions? Should a nurse in Peru, who's at high risk of catching the virus, be immunized before a person with low risk in the U.S. receives the vaccine? Niko Lusiani, a senior advisor with the global aid organization Oxfam, thinks that strategy makes sense both scientifically and morally.
3rd Dec 2020 - NPR


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Facebook to remove COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation

Facebook said Thursday it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation. In the coming weeks, the social network will begin taking down any Facebook or Instagram posts with false information about the vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts. The U.S. tech giant is taking action as the first COVID-19 vaccines are set to be rolled out. Britain this week became the first country to give emergency authorization for a vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, and innoculations could start within days. Regulators in the U.S., the European Union and Canada are also vetting vaccines.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Independent

Facebook vows to remove false claims about Covid-19 vaccines

Facebook on Thursday said it would start removing false claims about Covid-19 vaccines, in a tightening of its policies on health-related misinformation. The new restrictions come a day after UK prime minister Boris Johnson vowed to fight the spread of misleading content from “anti-vaxxers”, as the UK prepares to roll out Covid-19 vaccinations from next week. Facebook said in a blog post that it would remove falsities debunked by public health experts, citing as an example claims that Covid-19 jabs contain microchips, a theory often spuriously linked to Bill Gates. Earlier this year, Facebook began removing Covid-19-related misinformation, but only if it could “contribute to imminent physical harm”, while material considered false by fact-checkers was covered with a warning label.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Financial Times

Covid-19 contracts: government refuses to say who benefited from political connections

The government has been accused of “completely unnecessary secrecy” after refusing to say which companies have been awarded multimillion-pound Covid-19 contracts after being processed in a high-priority channel for firms with political connections. A report by the National Audit Office last month stated that a government unit, set up to procure PPE, established the high-priority lane to deal with leads that came “from government officials, ministers’ offices, MPs and members of the House of Lords, senior NHS staff and other health professionals”. The 493 companies given high priority due to these connections secured contracts to supply PPE with 10 times the success rate of nearly 15,000 companies that were not given enhanced attention.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Guardian

Staten Island bar shut down after declaring itself an 'autonomous zone' and defying Covid-19 rules, sheriff's office says

A Staten Island bar was shut down after calling itself an "autonomous zone" and defying Covid-19 restrictions, the New York City Sheriff's Office said. The bar, Mac's Public House, was also not following face covering rules and social distancing guidelines while continuing to allow indoor dining despite being in a designated "orange zone," the sheriff's office said in a statement. An executive order by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allows only outdoor dining of up to four people per table at businesses in areas designated as orange zones. The bar has refused to shut down because the restrictions have impacted business, said Louis Gelormino, a lawyer representing the bar. "They opened two months before Covid and spent $150,000 to open the place," Gelormino said. "About a week ago, they refused to close down the place and abide by those state restrictions."
3rd Dec 2020 - CNN on MSN.com

More than 2,000 people protest outside Staten Island bar after owner was dragged away in handcuffs when he declared it an 'autonomous zone' from lockdown rules and invited ...

Sheriff's deputies shut down a Staten Island bar and arrested the owner on Tuesday night. Danny Presti was led out in handcuffs after repeated warnings to stop serving customers indoors. The bar has been fined thousands of dollars as it continued to serve patrons inside and to operate past the 10pm curfew for restaurant service that Cuomo imposed citywide. Demonstrators gathered on both Tuesday and Wednesday evening to protest. The bar is located in a coronavirus hot spot, and with hospitalizations surging, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered that indoor dining be suspended
3rd Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Boris Johnson vows to combat vaccine 'disinformation'

Boris Johnson has promised action to tackle online "disinformation" about vaccines that could prevent take-up. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for emergency legislation to fine social media firms who failed to clamp down on incorrect information. Mr Johnson agreed online "anti-vaxxers" were a problem and promised a plan to deal with them "very shortly". It came as the UK approved the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for mass vaccinations.
3rd Dec 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: Facebook to take down false vaccine claims

Facebook says it will start removing false claims about Covid-19 vaccines to prevent "imminent physical harm". The company says it is accelerating its plans to ban misleading and false information on its Facebook and Instagram platforms following the announcement of the first vaccine being approved for use in the United Kingdom. Among already-debunked claims that won't be allowed are falsehoods about vaccine ingredients, safety, effectiveness and side-effects. Also banned will be the long-running false conspiracy theory that coronavirus vaccines will contain a microchip to control or monitor patients.
3rd Dec 2020 - BBC

Chefs vs scientists: France's pandemic fight to keep eating out

Chez Francoise is a discreetly located venue near the French parliament whose visitors’ book boasts signatures from former leaders including Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande. Options include a Menu Parlementaire — three courses including wild boar pate with chestnuts, veal and crepes suzette. In late September, as a second wave of COVID-19 infection loomed, government scientific advisers wanted new restrictions on bars, restaurants and cafes. Fearing his business would suffer, Pascal Mousset, who owns Chez Francoise and four other restaurants in the French capital, decided to seek help from an old contact. “For pity’s sake, don’t close Paris,” Mousset texted to Alain Griset, a junior minister at the finance and economy ministry.
3rd Dec 2020 - The Japan Times

Reluctant partners: French companies resisted home-working as virus surged

On the October evening President Emmanuel Macron ordered France back into lockdown, the chief executive of Thales told staff in a memo that anti-COVID measures already in place at the company conformed with the new requirements. At the time, staff were required to wear a face mask at work, stagger arrival and departure times and were permitted to work up to two days per week at home. But in his address, Macron urged everyone to work from home full-time if they could - although the order was not legally binding and the final decision was left to employers. Sensing a reticence at Thales, several unions complained to the labour inspectorate, according to the hard-left CGT union.
3rd Dec 2020 - Reuters UK


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EU criticises 'hasty' UK approval of COVID-19 vaccine

The European Union criticised Britain’s rapid approval of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, saying its own procedure was more thorough, after Britain became the first western country to endorse a COVID-19 shot. The move to grant emergency authorisation to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been seen by many as a political coup for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has led his country out of the EU and faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic. The decision was made under an ultra-fast, emergency approval process, which allowed the British drugs regulator to temporarily authorise the vaccine only 10 days after it began examining data from large-scale trials.
2nd Dec 2020 - Reuters

Putin orders start of Russia’s mass COVID vaccination programme

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the country’s authorities to begin mass voluntary vaccinations against COVID-19 from next week onwards. The move, announced on Wednesday, came after Russia said last month that its domestically produced Sputnik V vaccine was 92 percent effective at protecting people from COVID-19, according to interim results. The country will have produced two million doses of the vaccine within the next few days, Putin said, noting that teachers and medics will be the first to receive shots. “Let’s agree on this – you will not report to me next week, but you will start mass vaccination … let’s get to work already,” he told Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova. The Kremlin earlier gave assurances that Russians were first in line to be vaccinated, with Moscow also discussing supply deals with other countries.
2nd Dec 2020 - AlJazeera


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Bolivia's new government is encouraging people to take toxic bleach as a cure for COVID-19, a victory for a months-long disinformation campaign

Bolivia's new health minister, Edgar Pozo, at a press conference Sunday said consuming toxic bleach chlorine dioxide as a COVID-19 treatment is now permitted. It has no medical value and is potentially deadly if consumed, according to medical authorities including the FDA and WHO. Despite this, a determined campaign by advocates of the substance, also called Miracle Mineral Solution, persuaded many to take it. Business Insider previously reported how lawmakers in Bolivia embraced the substance despite warnings from the nation's own health ministry. But last month the old government lost power, allowing the newly-installed Pozo to effectively overturn that advice.
1st Dec 2020 - Business Insider

Top US politician refuses to bring in lockdown or other Covid rules saying he wants to leave people alone

One of America’s most powerful politicians has refused to enact fresh lockdown measures after saying he wants to leave people alone to make responsible choices. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis – who has the final say on the Sunshine State’s coronavirus rules – said Monday that he will not be enacting any lockdown measures, edicts which require people to wear masks in public, or school closures. DeSantis, one of President Trump’s staunchest allies, told a press conference: ‘No lockdowns, no fines, no school closures.’ He previously lifted all rules, including a 50% capacity limit in bars and restaurants, in September.
1st Dec 2020 - Metro.co.uk

UK leader touts local virus rules but pubs are in distress

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged lawmakers to vote Tuesday for a new set of coronavirus restrictions in England, saying the country must “hold our nerve” until vaccines are approved and distributed. England’s current four-week national lockdown ends at midnight, and the government plans to replace it starting Wednesday with a three-tier regional system based on the severity of the outbreak in different parts of the country.
1st Dec 2020 - The Independent

Coronavirus England: 'Tenuous evidence' behind lockdown, says IEA

Report by the Institute of Economic Affairs claimed outdated studies were used Did not factor in 'Covid-secure' infection control measures hospitality adopted 'Cobbled together a handful of studies to give the veneer of science', report said
1st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

Aviation tycoon worth £200m loses legal fight against coronavirus lockdown rules

Simon Dolan, 51, was pursuing case against Matt Hancock and Gavin Williamson He took case to Court of Appeal after High Court refused full hearing permission Lord Burnett dismissed Mr Dolan's argument that the restrictions were unlawful Mr Dolan stated he plans to seek permission to take case to the Supreme Court
1st Dec 2020 - Daily Mail

COVID-19: Protests and death threats in east German hotspot

Hildburghausen in eastern Germany is a "coronavirus hotspot," where the rate of infection is particularly high — much higher than anywhere else in the state of Thuringia. And no one knows why that is. The town has a population of 63,000 and last week the statistical rate of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants reached 588.6. The district administrator imposed tough anti-corona measures, including shutting down the local schools. And the people of the town are obliged to wear masks wherever they go.
1st Dec 2020 - DW (English)

What Germany's anti-lockdown protests reveal about the country

In a recent Sunday, anti-lockdown protesters passed under my window, which looks out onto one of the main Berlin thoroughfares. They call themselves Querdenker, “lateral thinkers”. To my untrained eye, not many of the demonstrators resembled fascists, although perhaps at least some of the shaved heads were concealed by beanies. There were teenagers, old women doddering along with walkers, and middle-aged men wearing face coverings declaring “fuck masks,” accompanied by bored riot police. They were met by locals and black-clad anti-fascists banging pans and shouting “Nazis out!”. The weekly protests attract a range of ideological tendencies, from sandal-clad hippies to “Reich citizens,” an eccentric right-wing group which denies the legitimacy of the postwar Federal Republic. Others have no truck with such fringe groups but are worried about whether their livelihoods can survive the economic crisis, even though support for businesses and individuals is by European standards relatively generous in Germany. The peculiarity of the Querdenker – which remains a minority movement, with polls showing up to 85 per cent of Germans opposed – is that they present themselves not as infringers of the liberal constitutional order but as its defenders.
1st Dec 2020 - New Statesman

Masked Indian comic superhero fights Covid-19 fear

India's first female comic superhero Priya, a gang-rape survivor who earlier campaigned against rape, acid attack and sex trafficking, is back to fight disinformation around the Covid-19 pandemic. In Priya's Mask, due to be launched on 2 December, the comic crusader joins hands with Jiya, the "Burka Avenger", a popular character from a Pakistani cartoon show, as the two go about trying to tackle the pandemic - and also the "infodemic", a major proliferation in fake news surrounding the coronavirus. With more than 9.4 million infections and 137,000 deaths, India has the second highest caseload globally. A strict nationwide lockdown that was imposed on 21 March delayed the spread for a while, but infections grew rapidly - and continue to do so - since restrictions were relaxed.
1st Dec 2020 - BBC

COVID-19: Boris Johnson says case for tier system is 'compelling' and promises £1,000 payment for 'wet pubs'

Boris Johnson has said there is a "compelling case" for further coronavirus restrictions - as he promised pubs which do not serve food a one-off payment of £1,000 in December. Pubs which only sell drinks, or "wet pubs", will be unable to open if they are in Tier 2 or Tier 3 areas under the new system of restrictions from tomorrow. The prime minister made the announcement after saying the hospitality sector has been hit disproportionately hard in the pandemic.
1st Dec 2020 - Sky News

Laurence Fox’s disregard for lockdown is a slap in the face for NHS workers

When actor Laurence Fox tweeted about inviting a ‘large group over to lunch’ and hugging them all during a pandemic, I was frustrated and disappointed. Not because I don’t like hugs over lunch, but because it’s irresponsible, ignorant, privileged and could dangerously incite others to behave the same way. As a doctor working in intensive care during the pandemic, Fox’s words stung twice. First, for brazenly admitting to breaking lockdown rules but also criticising the NHS as being ‘not fit for purpose’.
1st Dec 2020 - Metro

'We need support' - Portuguese restaurant owners stage lockdown hunger strike

Nine restaurant, bar and nightclub owners began a fifth day of hunger strike on Tuesday outside Portugal’s parliament in protest against coronavirus restrictions. “We need support ... to keep our heads above water,” said Alberto Cabral, who runs a nightclub. The protesters - camping outside parliament and living off water, tea and coffee donated by their supporters - say they will not eat until they are met by the prime minister and economy minister. One more business owner joined their strike on Sunday.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Hungarian politician says he was present at Brussels party that breached lockdown rules

A senior politician from Hungary’s ruling party said he had been present at a house party in Belgium that was broken up by Brussels police last Friday for breaching lockdown rules but denied taking drugs. Jozsef Szajer, a leading light in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling conservative Fidesz party and an ally for more than 30 years, quit as a European deputy on Sunday, citing unspecified moral reasons. In a statement on Tuesday, he apologised for any wrongdoing. “I regret that I broke the lockdown rules, that was irresponsible of me, and I will accept the sanctions that result,” the statement said.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

UK not planning vaccine passports for pubs, theatre, sports events

Senior British minister Michael Gove said that the government was not planning a system of vaccine passports which would prevent those who hadn’t had a COVID-19 jab from going to the pub or attending events. “I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports and I don’t know anyone else in government (who is),” Gove told Sky News on Tuesday. The minister in charge of vaccines, Nadhim Zadhawi, said on Monday that he expected people who refused the COVID-19 vaccine could find that they were refused entry to restaurants, bars, cinemas and sports venues. When asked about that, Gove said he did not think people would need a vaccine passport to go to the pub, the theatre or to sports events.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

UK economy won't reach pre-COVID-19 level for at least two years - Reuters poll

Britain’s economy will contract this quarter and it will take at least two years for GDP to reach pre-COVID-19 levels, according to a Reuters poll which also found London would agree a free-trade deal with the European Union.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

England faces regional COVID-19 restrictions despite lawmaker rebellion

Parliament approved a system of regional COVID-19 restrictions for England on Tuesday despite a rebellion within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own party which underlined growing unhappiness at his handling of the pandemic. More than 40% of people in England will be subject to the toughest tier of restrictions on their daily life from Wednesday, when the government shifts to its new approach after a month of national lockdown, with just 1% in the lowest band. “With the spread of the epidemic varying across the country, there remains a compelling case ... for regional tiers in England,” Johnson told parliament, batting away criticism from unhappy lawmakers. The tiered system has ignited a rebellion in Johnson’s party, with dozens of the 364 elected Conservatives criticizing the plan as draconian, badly implemented or based on insufficient evidence.
1st Dec 2020 - Reuters UK

Trump to meet COVID-19 vaccine makers, gov’t officials next week

The administration of United States President Donald Trump has invited vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors and government officials to a COVID-19 Vaccine Summit next week at the White House, Stat News reported on Tuesday, citing an invitation obtained by the news organisation. It is scheduled for December 8 and will be attended by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and private-sector executives, the report said.
1st Dec 2020 - AlJazeera


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Dec 2020

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Covid: PM calls for 'unity' as he agrees to publish data behind new tiers

Boris Johnson has agreed to publish the health, economic and social data behind England's new tier system later, as he seeks to avert a Commons rebellion. MPs will vote on the measures on Tuesday, and numerous Conservative MPs have demanded to see the evidence government is basing its new system on. Writing to a group of around 70 MPs - who are sceptical of the new rules - Mr Johnson called for "unity and resolve". Labour is expected to support the PM, but is yet to confirm its stance. If Labour does decide to get behind the new tier system, the government should easily win the vote - even if there is a sizeable revolt among Conservative MPs.
30th Nov 2020 - BBC

Gov. Phil Murphy ignores protesters and warns New Jersey state-wide lockdown is 'still on the table'

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy told Fox News Sunday that a state-wide lockdown is still 'on the table.' 'It's on the table in terms of a shutdown,' Murphy told Bret Baier on 'Fox News Sunday'. 'I don't anticipate it and I sure as heck don't want to go that route.' The comments came as anti-lockdown protesters swarmed the street where Murphy lives to voice their opposition to pandemic-related restrictions The Democratic governor was also verbally confronted and filmed while having dinner out with his wife and four kids at a New Jersey restaurant. They called him a 'real d***' and told one of his sons to 'go f*** yourself.' The confrontation where Murphy said nothing came after he urged New Jersey residents to limit their Thanksgiving celebrations to 10 people
30th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Anti-Lockdown Protesters Chant 'Open L.A.' Outside Health Chief's Home Before New Covid Restrictions Begin

Crowds gathered outside the home of the Los Angeles County's public health director on Sunday to protest against the latest round of Covid-19 restrictions taking effect this week. Dr. Barbara Ferrer's Echo Park home was surrounded by dozens of demonstrators, carrying placards, waving flags and chanting: "Open L.A." and "No science. No data. No shutdown". Footage from the scene shows few people in the crowd were wearing face masks as they paced up and down the street. LAPD officers could be seen over looking the scene with a police vehicle parked in what appears to be Ferrer's driveway.
30th Nov 2020 - Newsweek on MSN.com

How anti-vaxxers are threatening the UK's Covid programme

In the imagination of extreme opponents of vaccination — or anti-vaxxers — every human inoculated against coronavirus will be turned into a chimera, injected with nanoparticles that beam out their biometric data and commoditised with bar codes linked to cryptocurrency. In their view, far from liberating us from the recurring nightmare of lockdowns, vaccines in development in Europe and the US are secretly intended to “enslave us to the system”. However far-fetched it may appear, this kind of vision has been proliferating online alongside more prosaic forms of misinformation just as the mass roll out of Covid-19 vaccines comes within sight.
30th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Coronavirus: German anti-lockdown protests shift to Polish border

Objectors of coronavirus curbs have converged on Frankfurt-an-der-Oder on Germany's border with Poland. Meanwhile, at viral hot spot Hildburghausen in Thuringia state, the local county chief is under police protection.
28th Nov 2020 - DW (English)


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th Nov 2020

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Covid: PM agrees to publish data behind England's new tier system

Boris Johnson has agreed to publish the health, economic and social data behind England's new tier system later, as he seeks to avert a Commons rebellion. MPs will vote on the measures on Tuesday, and numerous Conservative MPs have demanded to see the data the government is basing its new system on. Writing to members of the Covid Research Group of MPs - who are sceptical of the new rules - Mr Johnson asked them to show "unity and resolve".
30th Nov 2020 - BBC

UK police arrest 155 in anti-lockdown protests in London

Police in London said on Saturday that they had made 155 arrests as they tried to break up anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests. The police said the arrests had been made for different offences including assaulting a police officer, possession of drugs and breaching coronavirus restrictions. England’s current lockdown ends on Dec. 2. Earlier police lined up in a number of streets in central London’s West End shopping district and confronted crowds of protesters in St James’s Park, near Westminster. The anti-lockdown protesters were joined by groups who oppose a COVID-19 vaccine. One police officer estimated the protesters, who held up signs saying “Defend Freedom, Defend Humanity”, “No more lies, no more masks, no more lockdowns”, numbered between 300 and 400.
29th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus UK: Riot police clash with violent anti-lockdown protesters in central London

Central London descended into anarchy today as riot police arrested 155 angry anti-lockdown demonstrators as thousands took to the streets and booed officers while chanting 'shame on you'. Dozens of violent anti-lockdown activists clashed with police while thousands more gathered in the capital amid growing discontent with the government's new tier system to be introduced on December 2. Up to 100 Tory backbenchers are threatening to rebel against Boris Johnson's draconian new tier regime next week.
28th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Police arrest dozens of anti-lockdown protesters in London

More than 150 people have been arrested as anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in central London after officers sought to break up the demonstration. The Metropolitan police said 155 arrests were made for offences including breaching coronavirus regulations, assaulting a police officer and possession of drugs. In often chaotic scenes, hundreds of demonstrators, including a man dressed as Santa Claus, descended on the city centre on Saturday afternoon, chanting “freedom” and causing traffic disruption.
28th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

How anti lockdown protests are being organised using encrypted secret messaging service

As Liverpool was placed in Tier three and then the second UK-wide lockdown came into force on November 5, demonstrators opposed to restrictions marched through the city in defiance of the lockdown. Pre-prepared banners and live streaming on social media platforms like YouTube revealed well coordinated operations planned in advance that targeted specific gathering points in the city. But the protests were not just confined to Liverpool as similar organised demonstrations in London, Manchester, Bournemouth and Bristol have taken place. The UK-wide protests are being organised in advance and coordinated through a secure messaging service called Telegram.
28th Nov 2020 - MSN.com

Coronavirus: Piers Corbyn to stand trial over London anti-lockdown protests

Piers Corbyn is to stand trial on charges that he violated the rules of the first coronavirus lockdown by attending two anti-shutdown protests in London in May. The former Labour Party leader’s brother will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday. Mr Corbyn has denied the charges, and says his defence is his right to freedom of expression and protest. He also faces fresh criminal charges that are listed for a case management hearing on Friday afternoon, alongside his impending trial. These charges relate to an anti-lockdown protest held in Leicester Square on 5 November, the first day of England’s second national shutdown, and the date of the annual Million Mask March.
28th Nov 2020 - The Independent

How an anti-lockdown 'truthpaper' bypasses online factcheckers

When the factcheckers tried to find the source of a viral photo that was spreading across Facebook, they were confused. The picture – which had been uploaded by users in the UK, US, Australia and elsewhere in the world - showed a headline that made the false claim that a US government agency had declared Covid-19 did not exist. It appeared to be from a real print newspaper, but no credible outlet would publish such a claim. It turned out the headline was from a new self-published conspiracy theorist “truthpaper” called the Light, edited by a man from Manchester who runs a business selling anti-vaccine T-shirts and 9/11 conspiracy merchandise. The outlet, which has published three issues since it first appeared in September, draws heavily on the gloop of long-running online conspiracies about a new world order, which have attached themselves to the current pandemic. Among other things it encourages people to stop wearing masks and disobey lockdown on the basis that the coronavirus is a hoax.
28th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Here’s why pubs reopened in July – and why it’s different now

The UK’s hospitality industry is not happy with the new Covid-19 plan to be adopted from December 2 in England. On the opposite end of the debate, academics and doctors have expressed reservations about pubs being allowed to reopen at all. Neil Ferguson, an Imperial College epidemiologist and former government adviser, suggested that the decision might lead to a rise in infection levels. The decision to reopen pubs on July 4 was taken after a data-crunching tool built by British artificial intelligence firm Faculty flagged up that “large numbers of pubs” risked going out of business due to the lockdown restrictions, according to Faculty’s chief operating officer Richard Sargeant.
27th Nov 2020 - Wired UK


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Nov 2020

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Here's how to tackle the Covid-19 anti-vaxxers

If we are talking to someone who’s uncertain about the vaccine we should try to be empathetic, actively listen, and focus on the benefits of taking it. And rather than contradicting them, we should suggest places where they can find out additional information. If people feel respected and trusted they are more likely to listen; and if they can find out on their own, then they will have time to process and engage with it without feeling defensive. And there are broader behavioural science tactics that the government can use to improve the uptake of vaccines, including making it seem like the default and showing it to be a social norm. This means using language that inherently assumes everyone will take the vaccines, making people feel they are actively opting out, rather than opting in.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Lockdown tiers will mean hospitality ‘never recovers’

The hospitality industry has responded with fierce criticism of the new tier system, warning that it will wipe out billions of pounds of trading and lead to huge numbers of job losses.The new tier
26th Nov 2020 - The Times

Midwestern Governors Seek More Federal Covid-19 Aid for Businesses

A growing number of governors are calling for another round of coronavirus-relief legislation from Washington, saying they are unable to provide additional funds to small businesses amid budget shortfalls. The issue is gaining urgency as money from federal relief passed earlier this year runs out ahead of a year-end deadline to spend it. States have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid into everything from personal-protective equipment and hazard pay for front-line health-care workers to schools and food banks.
26th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Italy’s doctors face new threat: Conspiracy theories

From “heroes” to “terrorists.” In Italy, the doctors and nurses lauded for their exhausting, dangerous work in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic are facing a new challenge: conspiracy theories accusing them of faking the emergency. In one social media video, two women tell the camera they are in the emergency room at Sacco Hospital in Milan, one of the hardest-hit cities in Italy. They want to prove that the ER is empty, contrary to what is being reported by journalists, who have sounded the alarm about a drastic uptick in cases. The women go inside the building, showing viewers a calm, empty interior. Next, they walk back outside to demonstrate there are no ambulances lined up. Doctors, journalists, and politicians have been lying, they say. “They are terrorists.”
26th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Never mind what antivaxxers say — just watch what they do

Antivax talk is worrying. However, it is only talk. Social media has made this the wordiest era in history. Sharing conspiracy theories online is excitingly subversive, making people feel they have taken the “red pill” and seen the truth. More telling, though, is their behaviour. In real life, when things get serious, almost everyone chooses vaccination. “If Covid-19 vaccines are found to be efficacious and safe and widely available, my guess is that a very large proportion of people will ultimately take them,” says Vish Viswanath of Harvard’s School of Public Health. Even French behaviour is reassuring. Vaccination rates here have been rising: 98.6 per cent of babies born in early 2018 received the “hexavalent” vaccine that protects against six illnesses, including hepatitis B and tetanus. True, it’s compulsory, but parents still have to bring in their kids. Even in the US, where parents can more easily refuse vaccinations, only about 7 per cent or fewer adamantly oppose them, depending on the vaccine, says Viswanath. He adds: “This small group gets a disproportionate share of attention.”
26th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Top US court blocks NY coronavirus limits on houses of worship

As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide, the United States Supreme Court has barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The justices split 5-4 for Wednesday’s vote, with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the majority. It was the conservative’s first publicly discernible vote as a justice. The court’s three liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented.
26th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Wetherspoon boss accuses UK government of 'stealth' lockdown

The boss of JD Wetherspoon has accused the government of introducing a “stealth” lockdown in England through its tough new tier system. Tim Martin, the founder and chair of the pub chain, said almost half of his pubs would be forced to remain shut under new rules that come into force when lockdown ends on 2 December. “The company has campaigned for pubs to revert to the rules agreed between the pub industry, civil servants, local authorities and health officials, which were introduced when pubs reopened in July,” Martin said in a statement emailed to media.
26th Nov 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK


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London Tories split over tiered approach after Covid lockdown

Leading London Tories are split over whether varying lockdown rules should be imposed on different areas of the capital depending on local infection rates. The mayor, Sadiq Khan, claimed there is consensus for tier 2 restrictions being introduced across London next week when the current lockdown is eased. “London’s leaders have worked very closely together on a cross-party basis and are united on this: our city going into tier 2 next week would seem the right and sensible decision,” he tweeted. But this apparent agreement threatens to unravel after lobbying by Tory MPs to allow areas with lower infection rates to have less stringent restrictions. The latest public figures show infection rates per 100,000 in the capital’s 32 boroughs vary from 113 in Camden to 387 in Havering.
25th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Germany Merkel: Car rams into chancellery gate ahead of Covid decision

A car has been driven into the gates of Angela Merkel's Federal Chancellery building in Berlin, German police say. A 54-year-old man was detained but the background to the incident was unclear. The Volkswagen car had messages daubed in white on both sides. One called for an end to "globalisation politics" while another referred to "you damned killers of children and old people". The incident came hours before Mrs Merkel held talks with regional leaders on extending Covid safety measures.
25th Nov 2020 - BBC

Pope Francis takes aim at anti-mask protesters: ‘They are incapable of moving outside of their own little world’

In his new book, “Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future,” to be released Dec. 1, the head of the 1.3 billion–member Roman Catholic Church lambastes those who protest the health measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19: “Some groups protested, refusing to keep their distance, marching against travel restrictions — as if measures that governments must impose for the good of their people constitute some kind of political assault on autonomy or personal freedom,” he writes.
25th Nov 2020 - MarketWatch

Limestone Coast community defends MP Nick McBride over his COVID-19 lockdown comments

Cross-border community members and a regional MP have jumped to defend the Member for MacKillop's comments, after he broke ranks from the Liberal Party on Monday. Nick McBride lashed out at the State Government over its handling of the latest coronavirus outbreak, saying the hard lockdown was an overreaction which "hung businesses out to dry". He said health authorities should not have "taken the word of one person" to impose a lockdown on the entire state.
25th Nov 2020 - ABC News

German restaurant bears out pandemic with furry customers

The owner of a Frankfurt restaurant is staging a protest against the coronavirus lockdown in Germany by filling his tables with a hundred stuffed toy pandas, in a play on the word “pandemic”. German officials are expected on Wednesday to agree to extend until Dec. 20 a “lockdown light” they imposed on Nov. 2 that means bars, restaurants and entertainment venues must stay closed, while shops and schools can remain open. “We wanted to put some life back into our restaurant,” said Guiseppe Fichera, manager of restaurant Pino. “They are Panda-Mic pandas.”
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

‘The fight continues’: Colombia protests persist despite pandemic

Hundreds of people gathered at a street corner in downtown Bogota on Monday to commemorate the anniversary of Dilan Cruz’s death. His mother and sister arranged a circle of flowers on the street where the 18-year-old was shot by police a year earlier during an anti-government protest, with his clothes and a framed portrait placed in the centre. Throughout the vigil, the mostly young crowd chanted: “Dilan didn’t die, Dilan was killed!”
25th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera


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Putin Can’t Take Russia’s ‘Safe’ Covid-19 Vaccine, Kremlin Says

President Vladimir Putin told fellow world leaders last week that both of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccines, including one he championed as the world’s first inoculation against the disease, are safe and effective. That doesn’t mean he’s taken a jab. “We have not yet begun widespread vaccination and the head of state can’t take part in vaccination as a volunteer. It’s impossible,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday, in response to a question on whether Putin had been inoculated. “The president can’t use an uncertified vaccine.” Russia has the world’s fifth-highest number of cases globally, passing 2 million last week.
25th Nov 2020 - bnnbloomberg

Germany warns of Coronavirus vaccine race between rich and poor

Angela Merkel fears a global race between richer and poorer nations to access COVID-19 vaccines. She urged government leaders at an online meeting of the G20 to ensure a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines among impoverished countries. "To halt the pandemic, every country needs to have access to and be able to afford the vaccine. The funds pledged so far are not yet enough to achieve this. I, therefore, appeal to you all of you to support this important initiative," she said. The chancellor made clear she would raise the issue with the global vaccine alliance GAVI. "This short-term assistance is in the interest of us all. And it is also in our interest to improve global pandemic preparedness in the long term. To this end, we need to sustainably strengthen the World Health Organization."
25th Nov 2020 - Vatican News

Coronavirus vaccines face trust gap in Black and Latino communities, study finds

In the US, if offered a coronavirus vaccine free of charge, fewer than half of Black people and 66 percent of Latino people said they would definitely or probably take it, according to a survey-based study that underscores the challenge of getting vaccines to communities hit hard by the pandemic. The survey released Monday is one of the largest and most rigorous to date. Other recent studies have also pointed to vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, but Monday’s survey delved deeper into the reasons, polling respondents on a spectrum of questions to get at the roots of their distrust.
25th Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

Germany Warns of Anti-Semitism Among Lockdown Protests

A German government official warned Tuesday that anti-Semitism is emerging as a common position among people protesting pandemic lockdown measures who otherwise come from widely differing political backgrounds. Felix Klein, who was appointed in 2018 to head the government's efforts to combat anti-Semitism, said that hatred against Jews in Germany has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
24th Nov 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

Number 10 used apocalyptic Covid-19 graphs to 'frighten' public into lockdown, top statistician

Sir David Spiegelhalter suggested the Government tried to 'manipulate' Britons. Cherry-picked 'worst-case scenarios' to 'instill a certain emotional reaction.' No10 lambasted for its apocalyptic graphs and spurious data shown to public
24th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

French shop owners pressure Macron to lighten virus lockdown

People in France may be able to go back to their favorite shops and attend religious services again next week, after a month of partial virus lockdown — but they’ll probably have to wait until next year to savor wine and cheese in a local cafe President Emmanuel Macron is expected to lay out new rules Tuesday in France’s virus strategy, after he imposed nationwide restrictions last month as virus infections, hospitalizations and deaths surged around Europe.
24th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Pizza bar worker 'deeply sorry' over South Australia coronavirus lockdown

A pizza bar worker whose alleged deception sent South Australia into coronavirus lockdown has expressed "extreme remorse" — but the man's lawyer says some of the information provided by authorities has been inaccurate and unfair. Last week, SA health authorities said the Spanish national told contact tracers he had only ordered a pizza from the Woodville Pizza Bar when in fact he had worked there.
24th Nov 2020 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Misinformation and fear could be coronavirus vaccine’s biggest problem

These are just some of the things Londoners said to me when I asked them if they’d take a Covid vaccine. Perhaps they’ve joined the small but vocal minority claiming that the vaccine is a plot to insert surveillance microchips into the population, or maybe, like many thousands more, they simply worry the development of the jab has been rushed. We will probably never know, but while it’s easy to dismiss as ridiculous some of the more extreme anti-vaccine sentiment out there — like anyone repeating the rumour spread by Russian bots that the vaccine will turn us into chimpanzees — the number of “vaccine hesitant” people is growing. Most of them are not cranks, just cautious — and, in a climate of fear and confusion, their trust in what they read in the papers or hear in government briefings is diminishing.
24th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

In race for coronavirus vaccine, Russia turns to disinformation

When two COVID-19 vaccines were announced within a week of each other, everyone cheered that the end to the global pandemic was now in sight. Everyone, that is, except Russia. Since the summer, Moscow has conducted a global disinformation campaign aimed at both undermining vaccines produced in the West and promoting its own rival product, particularly to countries across the developing world, according to interviews with four national and European Union disinformation experts and a review of Kremlin-backed media outlets by POLITICO.
24th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu


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Anti-lockdown protestors burn masks in NYC following demonstrations in California

Anti-lockdown protestors on Sunday burned face masks as they marched through Manhattan following similar demonstrations in California, upstate New York and Minnesota. Skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have prompted state and city officials around the United States to issue new lockdown guidance. As a result demonstrators gathered in Washington Square Park, New York City, on Sunday afternoon for the 'No Lockdown in NYC' event. They carried signs reading 'Stop Covid Tyranny', 'No More Lockdowns' and 'Medical Freedom Now'.
23rd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid: Thirteen arrests at Liverpool anti-lockdown demo

Thirteen people have been arrested after an anti-lockdown protest in Liverpool on Saturday. Police originally held 15 people but said some had been "de-arrested and issued with fixed penalty notices". Hundreds of people have gathered for weekend rallies since the second national lockdown began on 5 November. At Saturday's protest, a 36-year-old man, from Kirkby, was held on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker after an officer was pushed in the chest.
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC

German minister condemns lockdown protesters' Nazi victim comparisons

German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, on Sunday lashed out at anti-mask protesters comparing themselves to Nazi victims, accusing them of trivialising the Holocaust and “making a mockery” of the courage shown by resistance fighters. The harsh words came after a young woman took to the stage at a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Hanover on Saturday saying she felt “just like Sophie Scholl”, the German student executed by the Nazis in 1943 for her role in the resistance.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Liberal MP breaks ranks with SA Government to label coronavirus lockdown an 'overreaction'

A country Liberal MP has lashed out at the South Australian Government over its handling of the latest coronavirus outbreak, saying the hard lockdown was an overreaction which "hung businesses out to dry". Backbencher Nick McBride, whose electoral district MacKillop includes parts of SA's south-east, said health authorities should not have "taken the word of one person" to impose a lockdown on the entire state.
23rd Nov 2020 - ABC News

New Zealand leader Ardern offers virus know-how to Joe Biden

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on dealing with the coronavirus. Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden spoke very favorably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic. “What has been really at the center of our response has been some fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation,” Ardern said. “That’s over and above what we’ve done at our borders.”
23rd Nov 2020 - The Independent

New Zealand offers Biden tips on COVID-19 after successful response

New Zealand's prime minister said she has offered to help President-elect Joe Biden manage his response to the coronavirus pandemic once he is inaugurated. “I offered to him and his team access to New Zealand health officials in order to share their experience on things we’ve learnt on our COVID-19 journey,” Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, according to Reuters. New Zealand has garnered international praise for its response to the pandemic, with fewer than 100 current cases reported in the country as of this week. Ardern implemented strict nationwide lockdown measures twice this year, a decision public health experts credit with being instrumental to slowing the spread of the virus.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Hill

Majority of Croatians sceptical of coronavirus vaccine

A majority of Croatians do not plan on taking a vaccine to immunise against the coronavirus once it becomes available, a recent survey has found. According to the poll, which was conducted by the Valicon market research company and published by Croatian news agency RTL last week, 43 percent of respondents said they would definitely or would probably vaccinate, mostly citing responsibility towards others and that a higher rate of vaccination will limit infections as reasons. But 57 percent said they definitely would not or probably would not vaccinate, citing mistrust of the vaccine until it was proven to be safe, while a large number of respondents also said they feared there could be side effects. Others said they would not vaccinate because they believed they were not at risk, while a quarter of respondents said the virus constantly mutates and that vaccinating would not protect them. The survey gathering opinions from 523 people in Croatia comes as a global scientific race is under way to produce an effective vaccine for the coronavirus.
23rd Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

UK aims to inoculate those most at risk from COVID by Easter - Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he hoped almost all Britons at high risk from COVID would be vaccinated against the disease by Easter. “We should be able to inoculate, I believe on the evidence I’m seeing, the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter,” Johnson told a news conference.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Johnson says there will be no compulsory COVID vaccination

Britain’s government will not force people to have vaccinations against COVID-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. “There will be no compulsory vaccination. That’s not the way we do things in this country,” Johnson told a news conference. “We think it (vaccination) is a good idea, and you know I totally reject the propaganda of the anti-vaxxers, they are wrong,” he said. “Everybody should get a vaccine as soon as it is available.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

England to allow 4,000 fans at elite events in lowest-risk areas

Up to 4,000 spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor elite sports events in the lowest-risk tier one areas of England when a month-long national lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 is lifted on Dec. 2, the British government said on Monday.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

US nurses’ union warns of hospital stresses amid COVID-19 surge

Nurses from the profession’s largest union in the United States have warned of dire stresses on the healthcare system as the country sees a new surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations. In a news conference on Monday, members of the National Nurses United, which represents 170,000 registered nurses across the US, detailed harrowing accounts of hospital understaffing, a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) and an inadequate response from local and federal authorities.
23rd Nov 2020 - AlJazeera


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'People need mountains': Swiss ski resorts buck Alpine lockdowns

Blue skies over the Matterhorn drew skiers and snowboarders to Zermatt on Saturday, as well as police to break up crowds, as Switzerland’s modest coronavirus restrictions allowed near-normal operations while other Alpine resorts keep their lifts shut. France, Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered even the high-altitude lifts that could be running this early in the winter to remain closed for now in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak-season, if and when the infection rate slows. Switzerland, despite being a second-wave coronavirus hotspot with 5,000 infections a day and mounting deaths, is hoping that a middle way of social distancing, limits on gatherings and mask-wearing on lifts can prop up pillars of the economy such as tourism without fuelling the pandemic.
21st Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

South Australia to end lockdown early after pizza parlour blunder

South Australia’s six-day “circuit-breaker” lockdown will be cut short, officials said on Friday, blaming a pizza parlour worker who misled contact tracers about how he contracted the virus. Premier Steven Marshall indicated a tough lockdown for the state’s almost two million people would end late on Saturday, at least two days earlier than planned. Marshall said a man who claimed he was a customer at a pizza parlour hotspot – leading authorities to believe the strain was virulent enough to be transmitted via a takeaway box – in fact worked there. “One of the close contacts linked to the Woodville pizza bar deliberately misled our contact-tracing team,” said Marshall. “Their story didn’t add up. We pursued them. We now know that they lied.”
20th Nov 2020 - Times of Malta

Coronavirus vaccines: Will any countries get left out?

Early results indicate that at least two vaccines are highly effective, several others have reached late-stage trials, and many more are at some stage of development. None of these vaccines have been approved yet, but that hasn't stopped countries purchasing doses in advance. A key research centre in the US - Duke University in North Carolina - is trying to keep tabs on all the deals being done. It estimates that 6.4 billion doses of potential vaccines have already been bought, and another 3.2 billion are either under negotiation or reserved as "optional expansions of existing deals". The process of advance purchasing is well established in the pharmaceutical industry, as it can help to incentivise the development of products and fund trials, according to Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics.
20th Nov 2020 - BBC

Unions call for frontline UK workers to be prioritised for Covid vaccine

Unions have called for key frontline workers to be granted priority access to an approved Covid vaccine after they were omitted from the list of those who should receive it first. The unions, representing more than 1.8 million employees, say that by prioritising only the elderly and health and social care workers, the distribution plan fails to protect other key workers with increased risk of exposure. Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: “It is absolutely correct that social care staff and health workers receive the vaccine at an early stage so they are protected and are not at risk of inadvertently transmitting the virus.
20th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Doing the Touchy Math on Who Should Get a COVID Vaccine First

If the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics, as Galileo once declared, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought that truth home for the world's mathematicians, who have been galvanized by the rapid spread of the coronavirus. So far this year, they have been involved in everything from revealing how contagious the novel coronavirus is, how far we should stand from each other, how long an infected person might shed the virus, how a single strain spread from Europe to New York and then burst across America, and how to ‘'flatten the curve’' to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Modeling also helped persuade the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the virus can be airborne and transmitted by aerosols that stay aloft for hours.
20th Nov 2020 - Scientific American

Coronavirus vaccine may be coming, but many in Texas will have to wait

Officials are preparing for the massive undertaking of distributing a vaccine that may require multiple doses and subzero storage temperatures across a state that covers 270,000 square miles and some 170 rural counties.
20th Nov 2020 - The Texas Tribune


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COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories Still Rampant In Some US Hot Spots

Signs posted at the entrance to the grocery store in northwest Montana told customers to wear a mask. Public health officials in Flathead County urged the same. Coronavirus infection rates here are among the highest in the state. Infection rates in the state are among the highest in the United States. And still, Craig Mann walked out of the grocery store, past the signs and toward his truck, maskless and resolute. The pandemic that everyone's talking about?
19th Nov 2020 - NPR

Northern authorities will 'not hesitate' to block anti-vax Covid-19 conspiracy theorists who could 'cost lives'

Councils across the north-east and Highlands have promised to police their public-facing online channels to avoid myths being spread and “threatening public safety”. The Grampian and Highland health boards have also urged responsible social media use during the pandemic, warning their comments sections will be monitored. Glasgow City Council hit out at the so-called ‘anti-vaxxers’ on Tuesday, promising to block those making “false and dangerous claims” which could “cost lives”. The P&J has sought assurances from northern authorities that similarly robust action would be taken to ensure key public health information can be distilled from the sea of coronavirus fearmongering online.
19th Nov 2020 - Press and Journal

COVID-19: Anti-lockdown militias on streets of Michigan as virus surges across US

On the first day of a new lockdown in Michigan hundreds of people ventured out to one of the only places still open for business - a COVID-19 testing site. People waited for up to four hours to be swabbed. Not all had symptoms, but all shared a weariness at spiralling infections and new lockdown measures in their state. There's a sense that America has been distracted. People, politicians and media alike all focused on a gripping national election. But while the world looked away the virus has surged.
19th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Was the scientific advice for lockdown flawed?

As coronavirus began spreading around the world at the start of 2020, in the UK there were weaknesses in the expert analysis of its likely impact, according to a BBC documentary. "There is going to be a lot of criticism of the scientists - because it's easy to have hindsight. "It's easy to say if only we'd done this a week earlier we'd have saved 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 lives. But if you look at where we were in February, would you really have made these decisions any differently? I don't think you would have." Those are the words of Prof Calum Semple of the University of Liverpool, one of the key scientists advising the government on Covid-19.
19th Nov 2020 - BBC

Brussels warns Hungary on Russian Covid jab

Brussels has warned that Hungary would risk undermining public confidence in coronavirus vaccinations should it bypass the EU medicines regulator and roll out the Russian jab Budapest plans to trial. The European Commission said on Thursday mass Covid-19 inoculation would become “much harder” if citizens began to question a vaccine because it had not been approved as safe and effective. The comments highlight tensions over Budapest’s decision to run clinical trials next month of the Russian Sputnik V drug, which has not yet been assessed by the European Medicines Agency. While the Brussels statement did not mention Hungary or Sputnik V by name, no other EU member state has announced plans for such a radical move outside the bloc-wide vaccination programme overseen by the commission.
19th Nov 2020 - Financial Times


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COVID-19: 'High priority' procurement for firms recommended by MPs and advisers

Companies recommended by MPs, peers and advisers were given priority to win government contracts as it scrambled to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, the public spending watchdog has found. A National Audit Office (NAO) investigation into pandemic procurement concludes that normal standards of transparency were waived as departments awarded 8,600 contracts worth £18bn to tackle COVID-19. Deals worth £10.5bn were granted without competitive tender.
18th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Police fire water cannon at anti-lockdown protesters in Germany

German police have deployed water cannon to disperse a mass anti-lockdown protest outside Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Scores of protestors gathered to oppose the government’s coronavirus restrictions as German MPs debated a bill to provide the legal underpinning for the government to issue social distancing rules, require masks in public and close stores and other venues. In scenes replicated across the continent and the world, those opposed to the measures took to the streets despite popular support for measures to quell the spread of the virus. Officers said the crowd refused to listen to their requests to wear masks and keep their distance from one another in line with regulations.
18th Nov 2020 - The Independent

German police fire water cannons at protesters as thousands gather in Berlin anti-lockdown rally

Thousands gathered at Brandenburg Gate to protest covid restrictions in Germany as case numbers rose. Police used water cannons to break up the huge crowds with some protesters throwing flares. Demonstration came as government debated a bill that would make mask wearing, social distancing and shop closures enforceable by law
18th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Conspiracy Video Goes Viral in Threat to France’s Vaccine Push

A documentary questioning the purpose of coronavirus vaccines has gone viral in France after endorsements from politicians and celebrities, some of whom later withdrew their support. “Hold Up” got more than 4 million views on Google’s YouTube and other platforms over a couple of days last week, helped along on social media by public figures including lawmakers, former First Lady Carla Bruni--Sarkozy and actor Sophie Marceau. Suspicions over the safety and effectiveness of vaccines are widespread in France. In a study released this week by the liberal think tank Fondation Jean-Jaures, 43% of respondents said they would refuse to get a shot -- 7 percentage points more than in the U.S., and twice as many as in the U.K.
18th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg Quint


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Germany eyes ban on anti-lockdown protest at parliament

German officials have cited security concerns in their decision to ban a series of protests planned Wednesday outside the federal parliament by people opposed to coronavirus lockdown measures. The unusual move comes amid fears that extremist groups could try to use a rally initially planned for Wednesday to attack the Bundestag, echoing an unsuccessful attempt to storm the parliament building during a similar demonstration in August. The Interior Ministry said Tuesday it had rejected 12 requests to hold rallies within a specially designated zone around parliament. Unlike elsewhere in Germany, protesters have to seek permission to stage demonstrations within the security perimeter surrounding certain federal buildings.
17th Nov 2020 - ABC

German officials ban anti-lockdown protest near parliament

German officials have cited security concerns in their decision to ban a series of protests planned Wednesday outside the federal parliament by people opposed to coronavirus lockdown measures. The unusual move comes amid fears that extremist groups could try to use a rally initially planned for Wednesday to attack the Bundestag, echoing an unsuccessful attempt to storm the parliament building during a similar demonstration in August. The Interior Ministry said Tuesday it had rejected 12 requests to hold rallies within a specially designated zone around parliament. Unlike elsewhere in Germany, protesters have to seek permission to stage demonstrations within the security perimeter surrounding certain federal buildings.
17th Nov 2020 - The Associated Press

Spanish cops raid Instagram influencers' anti-lockdown party at Marbella villa and evict 40 people

Cops called amid reports youngsters were flouting national covid restrictions Video shows mask-free influencers jumping into pool from roof of Marbella villa Spain's state of emergency limits public and private gatherings to six people
17th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

The government must admit its errors and reset the strategy – it is time to go for ‘Zero Covid’

‘Zero Covid’, which seeks to lock down cases rather than whole countries, has been used across East Asian and Pacific nations and has – to a large degree – succeeded in eliminating the virus
17th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Questions arise over dramatic increase in PPE costs paid by government during pandemic

This programme has seen exclusive evidence of the dramatic increase in the price of PPE being paid by the government when the pandemic crisis first hit in April and May.
17th Nov 2020 - Channel4.com

NIH head: Masks are 'lifesaving medical instrument' not 'invasion of your personal freedom'

The head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is urging the public to abide by safety guidelines and socially distance, saying that while recent results for COVID-19 vaccine candidates are "encouraging," people must take extra precautions for at least "a few more months." The comments from NIH director Francis Collins come as pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna recently announced that their vaccine candidates were shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing the coronavirus. Collins told Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour on Monday that he felt “extremely encouraged” by the results and said “we're pretty optimistic that we're on a good path.”
17th Nov 2020 - The Hill


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 17th Nov 2020

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Covid-19 contracts smell of cronyism – so I'm taking the government to court

There is an England of my mind. And in it those who have made their fortunes offer their time and talents in service of the public good, modelling self-sacrifice and respect for good governance to ensure the nation thrives. But that England is no longer this England. Take the story of Kate Bingham. She is wife to a Treasury minister and cousin by marriage to Boris Johnson’s sister. Despite having – by her own admission – no vaccines experience, she was appointed by the prime minister, as far as we know without competition, to head up the “vaccines taskforce”. With this role came responsibility for investing billions of pounds of public money, a task she performed while remaining managing director of a private equity firm specialising in health investments. While in post she gave, again apparently without competition, a £670,000 contract to a tiny PR firm, whose last accounts show net assets of less than a third of that sum. Its directors include Collingwood Cameron, a longstanding business associate of Humphry Wakefield (better known as Dominic Cummings’ father-in-law).
16th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Trump's coronavirus advisor urges Michigan to 'rise up' against new COVID lockdown but insists he was NOT talking about violence

Dr Scott Atlas criticized the new coronavirus measures in Michigan yesterday The White House advisor told people 'you get what you accept' on social media Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she would not be bullied by the White House
16th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Germany postpones decision on further lockdown measures until next week

German federal and state leaders agreed to postpone until November 25 a decision on further lockdown measures to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday. Merkel said a majority of state leaders did not want to see a tightening of restrictions before next week, but, she added: “I could have imagined imposing further contact restrictions today, but there was no majority for that.”
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Merkel forced to postpone plans to tighten lockdown rules

Angela Merkel has said she does not have backing among state leaders for new restrictions to give Germany’s “soft” lockdown a harder bite, postponing any decision until a further meeting between the chancellor and 16 state premiers next week. The chancellor had been in favour of people limiting social interactions in private to only one set second household, and forgo any kind of party until Christmas Eve, according to a draft proposal cited by several news outlets including Der Spiegel. The plans were also reported to include advising citizens to quarantine at home for up to seven days, even if they display only the symptoms of an ordinary cold, and tightening hygiene requirements at schools, with teachers and students of all year groups asked to wear face masks throughout lessons.
16th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Anti-lockdown demonstrators clash with police in Italy and French Catholics demand right to worship

Protest organised by ultra-right Forza Nuova and the No Mask movement took place in Piazza Venezia, Rome. Demonstration saw protesters face off with riot police as they shouted and tried to barge through barricade. In France, several Catholic protests organised across country demanding the return of religious services
16th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

French Catholics protest for end to lockdown on Mass

With banners reading “Let us Pray” and “We Want Mass,” Catholic protesters held scattered demonstrations around France on Sunday to demand that authorities relax virus lockdown measures to allow religious services. In the western city of Nantes, hundreds gathered in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, some kneeling on the rain-soaked pavement, according to local broadcaster France Bleu. Similar gatherings were reported or planned in the eastern city of Strasbourg, Bordeaux in the southwest, and outside the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Versailles.
16th Nov 2020 - ABC News

Biden says he ‘wouldn’t hesitate’ to get Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines

President-elect Joe Biden said he “wouldn’t hesitate to get the vaccine” during a press conference on Monday while demanding cooperation from President Donald Trump’s White House in coordinating Covid-19 recovery efforts. “I wouldn't hesitate to get the vaccine,” Mr Biden told reporters, saying: “If Fauci, Moderna and Pfizer conclude it's safe and able to be done.” He added: "The only reason people question the vaccine now is because of Donald Trump." The president-elect also said “it’s going to take a while … for the vaccine to get to people” while condemning the “irresponsible” behavior of the Trump administration not to comply with transitional recovery efforts.
16th Nov 2020 - The Independent


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Nov 2020

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Before Joe Biden's inauguration, 70,000 more people could die from COVID-19

Biden's coronavirus advisor, Dr Michael Osterholm, warned on Sunday that the health care system in US could collapse in next few weeks due to COVID surge Osterholm said that he fears people could even start dying in the waiting rooms 'I think it is the healthcare systems breaking that will unfortunately bring us to a sense of reality of what we must do in the short term,' Osterholm said. His remarks come as a new model suggests up to 150K more people could die of COVID-19s before president-elect Biden is inaugurated on January 20, 2021. Model shows skyrocketing infections could add more than 8 million cases
15th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

To shut down or not shut down? Officials implement new coronavirus restrictions as cases skyrocket, but face angry backlash.

With the coronavirus raging out of control and hospitals nearing capacity, state and local leaders are facing once more the gut-wrenching decision of whether to order shutdowns. But many are finding the call much harder to make this time — eight months after cities and states last implemented weeks-long shutdowns — amid angry backlashes, deeply polarized constituents and dire economic consequences.
14th Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

Communal worship ‘criminalised’ under lockdown, church leaders in England say

More than 100 Christian leaders have launched a legal challenge against the ban on communal worship in England under lockdown restrictions. They claim worship has been “criminalised” and the ban has “inflicted a terrible human cost” on congregations for whom collective worship is a core element of their religious life. The restrictions on public worship, they argue, breach article 9 of the European convention on human rights which protects the right to freedom of religion. The claim for judicial review by 122 church leaders from different traditions is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, an arm of the conservative evangelical organisation Christian Concern.
14th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Water cannon fired at Frankfurt anti-lockdown rally

German police fired water cannon during an anti-lockdown rally in Frankfurt on Saturday and eventually broke up the gathering as rules like wearing masks and socially distancing were not observed. About 600 people from the loosely organized Querdenker movement that opposes the government’s measures to halt the rise in coronavirus infections took to the streets in Frankfurt. Police used water cannon to free up the route of the rally, which was blocked several times by about 300 people protesting against the Querdenkers. A police spokesman said the rally was broken up after protesters repeatedly disregarded rules on wearing masks and keeping a distance from each other.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

'Freedom Movement': Why people are still protesting despite the easing of lockdown rules

With a young woman twirling a hula hoop as her floral-clad friend beats on a drum, people could have been mistaken for thinking they were entering a climate change rally in the city on Melbourne Cup day. But if they walked a little further into the crowd, they would have seen men throwing Nazi salutes and people holding signs denying the existence of COVID-19. In the thick of the scrum, a middle-aged woman, wearing a fascinator and dress, bellowed her protest.
13th Nov 2020 - The Age

Germany’s protests against coronavirus restrictions are becoming increasingly radical

Around 9:30 on a quiet Sunday morning late last month, a crudely made explosive device went off with a small bang and a flash in central Berlin near the building of an association of German scientific institutes. A note found nearby demanded the end to coronavirus restrictions. Just a few hours earlier, molotov cocktails had been tossed at the front of the Robert Koch Institute, the German federal agency responsible for controlling the virus. The incidents come against the backdrop of a growing violent undercurrent at large-scale street demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions, including one attended by 20,000 people Saturday in Leipzig. The developments point to an increasingly radicalized movement of virus skeptics in Germany, embraced by the country’s far-right extremist groups and energized by global conspiracy theories, notably those put forth by the U.S.-born QAnon movement.
12th Nov 2020 - The Washington Post


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th Nov 2020

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Coronavirus UK: Now 70 rebel Tory MPs oppose lockdown extension

Covid Recovery Group has formed to oppose a third national lockdown after current one ends in December. The group initially formed with 50 Tory MPs, but is said to have grown to 70, with 25 more considering joining. It comes amid fears Britons could face more confusion when current lockdown comes to an end in December. Government is now looking again at Tier system and treating regions together rather than cities individually. New tougher Tier 4 for some regions that struggle to manage infection rates has been mooted for weeks
12th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Germany’s protests against coronavirus restrictions are becoming increasingly radical

Around 9:30 on a quiet Sunday morning late last month, a crudely made explosive device went off with a small bang and a flash in central Berlin near the building of an association of German scientific institutes. A note found nearby demanded the end to coronavirus restrictions. Just a few hours earlier, molotov cocktails had been tossed at the front of the Robert Koch Institute, the German federal agency responsible for controlling the virus. The incidents come against the backdrop of a growing violent undercurrent at large-scale street demonstrations against coronavirus restrictions, including one attended by 20,000 people Saturday in Leipzig. The developments point to an increasingly radicalized movement of virus skeptics in Germany, embraced by the country’s far-right extremist groups and energized by global conspiracy theories, notably those put forth by the U.S.-born QAnon movement.
12th Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

New survey shows more than half the French flout Covid-19 lockdown rules

The Ifop survey confirmed that the French are taking the second nationwide shutdown far less seriously than the first in March-April. It showed that 60 percent had flouted the rules at least once, either by giving a false reason for going out on their self-signed permission slip or by meeting up with family and friends. The figure was far higher than during the first lockdown when the proportion of rule-breakers stood at under 40 percent during the first six weeks.
12th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Bolsonaro's clash with Sao Paulo governor over the Chinese vaccine tainted with politics

Brazil’s national health regulator allowed clinical trials of a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine to resume on Wednesday, two days after suspending them in what critics called a decision tainted by politics. The regulatory agency, Anvisa, said it had now received more details on the nature of the adverse “incident” that led it to halt final stage trials of the CoronaVac vaccine, and had “sufficient information to allow vaccination to resume.” Public health officials had said the incident that led to the suspension – a volunteer recipient’s death, which police are investigating as a suicide – had no connection with the vaccine.
12th Nov 2020 - MercoPress

Anthony Fauci says working with Trump Administration on the coronavirus pandemic has been 'very stressful'

Dr Fauci, who has headed the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, told 7.30's Leigh Sales working with the Trump administration on the coronavirus pandemic had "obviously been very stressful". "I mean, it's just, to deny that would be to deny reality," he said. "When you have public figures like [former Trump advisor Steve] Bannon calling for your beheading. That's really kind of unusual. "That's not the kind of thing you think about when you're going through medical school to become a physician."
12th Nov 2020 - ABC News


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Nov 2020

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Covid: Tory MPs form group to oppose future lockdowns

Conservative MPs have set up a group to fight any future lockdown in England, arguing it would be "devastating" for the economy and "cost lives". The Covid Recovery Group, which has around 50 MP members, wants the country to "live with" coronavirus after nationwide restrictions end next month. The "cure" prescribed by the government ran "the risk of being worse than the disease", MP Mark Harper said. But the PM has stressed the NHS faces a "medical disaster" without action. A further 20,412 coronavirus cases were reported in the UK on Tuesday, with another 532 deaths within 28 days of a positive test recorded.
11th Nov 2020 - BBC

Spain’s coronavirus deniers: ‘We are normal people, not freaks’

Clutching the tome, he claims that all the knowledge he has gathered over the years has helped him come to the following conclusion on the coronavirus pandemic: “It is a fake pandemic invented by the multinational chemical-pharmaceutical companies. This is because they are not only pharmaceutical companies, but large chemical corporations that also manufacture poisons. [...] These multinationals are dedicated to inventing diseases, to making them chronic and turning public health into a lucrative business.”
11th Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Anti-lockdown MPs add to pressure on Boris Johnson

The Treasury’s top civil servant has agreed to consider releasing part of the advice by officials on the economics of England’s second lockdown, as the government’s preferred measure of deaths across the UK during the coronavirus pandemic rose above 50,000. While Tom Scholar, the Treasury’s permanent secretary, and Clare Lombardelli, its chief economist, denied there was “a separate forecast” of the impact of the second lockdown, as suggested in the minutes of the government’s scientific advice, they agreed on Wednesday to consult on whether the Treasury could release a selection of “ongoing” policy advice to ministers. The commitment came amid testy exchanges at the Treasury committee in the House of Commons in which MPs sought with difficulty to get Treasury officials to outline the thinking on the costs and benefits of the second lockdown.
11th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

Senior Tories Join Rebel Group To Oppose Further National Lockdown

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face sustained pressure from within his own party not to extend the national lockdown next month after senior Tory backbenchers formed a group to resist any such move. Some 32 Conservatives rebelled against the government when the Commons approved the second lockdown for England which lasts until December 2. The prime minister said he expects the nation to return to a tiered local system by then and promised MPs a vote for the replacement to the four-week lockdown. Former chief whip Mark Harper and ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker will lead the "Covid recovery group" to resist any extension of the measure in the Commons vote.
11th Nov 2020 - London South East

Putting pressure on Johnson, UK Conservatives set up COVID group

Conservative lawmakers have set up a new group to fight what they call a cycle of lockdowns to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, yet another sign of discontent in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s governing party. While most Conservatives backed the government last week in supporting a second lockdown in England to try to bring down rising cases of COVID-19, more than 30 of the party’s lawmakers broke ranks, seeing the measures as draconian. The new internal group, called the Covid Recovery Group, is the latest to be formed by Conservative lawmakers, part of wider efforts to apply pressure on a government which many feel is not listening to the party’s concerns.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th Nov 2020

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Dance teacher goes shopping dressed as a 'non-essential' ballerina to protest France's lockdown

Amandine Aguilar, ballet teacher from South West France danced in a store Filmed herself dancing to protest France's lockdown measures affecting the arts Her black tutu read 'I am "non-essential" to call out lack of help to culture sector Wrote on Facebook was 'depressed' after suffering several closures due to covid
10th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Fines issued over Manchester anti-lockdown demo

The organiser of an anti-lockdown demonstration attended by 600 people in Manchester has been fined £10,000. The protest in Piccadilly Gardens was condemned by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as "irresponsible" after new Covid rules came into force. Police officers suffered minor injuries at Sunday's event, which included protesters who had travelled from Cumbria, said GMP. The force said the organiser ignored its pleas to call off the event.
10th Nov 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus: Hundreds protest against 'fake pandemic' in Madrid

Hundreds of anti-vaccine demonstrators took to Madrid's Prado promenade on Saturday hitting out against the "fake pandemic" and the restrictions imposed by the Spanish authorities in an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19. It came after police in Spain last week made dozens of arrests during clashes with protestors for a second consecutive night as demonstrators took to the streets to denounce the new coronavirus restrictions.
10th Nov 2020 - Euronews

Lockdown is breeding resentment. Nigel Farage can see that – does the left?

Covid-19’s relentless immiseration of the British working poor was laid bare last week in a report released by the Office of National Statistics. Surveying the impact of the first lockdown, the ONS found that the biggest falls in pay and hours were at the bottom of the earnings scale. Young people and part-time workers were clobbered particularly badly. Two million employees earned less than the statutory minimum wage as a result of being furloughed. The revision, reduction and planned abandonment of furlough payments by Rishi Sunak – until last week’s U-turn – has contributed to an ever-rising toll of redundancies.
10th Nov 2020 - The Guardian


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th Nov 2020

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UK vaccines taskforce chair to step down - FT

UK vaccines taskforce chair Kate Bingham is to step down from her post at the end of the year amid criticism that she spent 670,000 pounds ($881,000) on public relations consultants, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Bingham’s use of a private sector company to oversee communications for her task force has caused concern in the government, and on Monday, government officials said she was not expected to continue in the job into 2021, the newspaper reported. The FT said, citing a Sunday Times report, that Bingham had used eight full-time consultants from London PR agency Admiral Associates to oversee her media strategy, and has contracted them until the end of the year. Under Bingham’s vaccine taskforce, Britain has secured supply deals for more than 350 million doses of six different COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

PM Johnson says still too early to rely on COVID-19 vaccine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was ready to roll out a mass COVID-19 vaccination programme but it was too early to rely on a vaccine as a solution to the coronavirus pandemic. “I must stress that these are very, very early days, and we’ve talked for a long time, right about the distant bugle of the scientific cavalry coming over the brow of the hill,” Johnson told a media conference after Pfizer said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective. “I can tell you that tonight that today that toot, that bugle is louder, but it’s still some way off. We absolutely cannot rely on this news, as a solution.”
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK expects to get 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine this year

Britain expects to have 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s candidate COVID-19 vaccine available by the end of the year, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said there were several hurdles to go after its positive clinical trial results.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Vaccine hesitancy may undermine fight against COVID-19, UK report says

An 80% uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine may be needed to protect communities from the novel coronavirus, but volatile levels of misinformation and vaccine mistrust could undermine efforts to tackle the pandemic, British scientists said on Tuesday. A report by scientific institutions the British Academy and the Royal Society found that, in part due to circulating misinformation and behavioural factors, around 36% of people in Britain say they are either uncertain or very unlikely to agree to be vaccinated against COVID-19. It said an “open dialogue” is critical to building public support for COVID-19 vaccination, and called for a “frank conversation” to manage public expectations that life will not immediately get back to normal when vaccines arrive.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid-19: Four arrested over Manchester anti-lockdown demo

The organiser of an anti-lockdown demonstration attended by 600 people in Manchester has been fined £10,000. The protest in Piccadilly Gardens was condemned by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) as "irresponsible" after new Covid rules came into force. Police officers suffered minor injuries at Sunday's event, which included protesters who had travelled from Cumbria, said GMP. The force said the organiser ignored its pleas to call off the event.
9th Nov 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus UK: Boris Johnson feels 'bounced into second lockdown'

Boris Johnson felt pushed into a second lockdown by misleading data, a Government source has suggested. It comes as some of the figures backing up strict new measures this month have started falling apart in the last week – particularly the 4,000 potential deaths a day warning. The early leak of the lockdown plans may also have escalated the situation, the source claimed. One Cabinet minister told the Daily Mail: ‘I think he is concerned that he may have been bounced into it.
9th Nov 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Trump tried to justify rising Covid cases by pointing to Europe. Experts say he's wrong.

For President Donald Trump, 2020 will be defined by his coronavirus response. And in recent weeks, he has sought to deflect the mountains of criticism he has received by pointing to the escalating Covid-19 outbreaks across Europe. "Our numbers are much better than Europe," the president said in September. He said during the final presidential debate last month that "it's all over the world — you see the spikes in Europe and many other places right now."
9th Nov 2020 - NBC News

Protests in Germany over national lockdown

Protests in Germany over national lockdown as thousands call for Merkel to quit Protests have erupted in Germany as thousands took to the streets all around the country on Saturday, November 7 after the country entered into a four-week partial lockdown on Monday. Bars, restaurants, gyms and theatres have all been closed, but schools remain open.
9th Nov 2020 - Euro Weekly News

Victoria's lockdown 'went too far, businesses have been crushed'

Melbourne restaurateur Chris Lucas says the Victorian government needs to be sensitive that the decision to lockdown the state went too far, crushed businesses, caused hundreds to lose their jobs and took away the futures of so many people. His comments come regarding the recent develops to Victoria’s reopening, with the 'ring of steel' surrounding the city coming down. Pubs, cafés and restaurants can now serve up to 40 people inside and 70 outside, with increases to 100 patrons indoors, and 200 outside expected from the 23rd of November. “The government needs to be a little bit sensitive about what is going on with regards to these re-opening plans,” Mr Lucas told Sky News host Peta Credlin.
9th Nov 2020 - Sky News Australia

Italy's national unity splinters in face of COVID-19 second wave

Italy won plaudits for its discipline and unity in fighting the Western world’s first coronavirus outbreak in the spring, but that sense of common purpose is unravelling in the face of the second wave. Despite a surge in infections and deaths, Italians who stoically accepted a blanket national lockdown in March are now less willing to respect far less rigid restrictions, egged on by local politicians at odds with the government in Rome.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19: Biden pleads ‘wear a mask’ ahead of ‘very dark winter’

US President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation after meeting with his transition coronavirus advisory board on Monday, calling for unity and simple steps to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said, “Please, I implore you, wear a mask” during the speech in Wilmington, Delaware. He noted masks could save the lives of older people, children and teachers and added: “It could even save your own life.” Biden became the projected winner of the US presidential election on Saturday, after Pennsylvania was called for the former vice president. Biden is currently projected to have 290 Electoral College votes, more than the 270 required for victory, according to The Associated Press news agency. Trump currently sits at 214, with Alaska and North Carolina still not called but favouring the president. Georgia too close to call and the small margin will trigger an automatic recount.
9th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Anti-lockdown protesters chant ‘take off your masks’ at 600-strong march

Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Manchester city centre this afternoon amid chants of ‘take of your masks’. Around 600 people congregated in Piccadilly Gardens, not complying to social distancing and few wearing masks. Among them were a group of people who had travelled on a coach from Cumbria. Many of them carried placards, one of which read: ‘Fear is the currency of control.’ One speaker using a loud-hailer told the crowd: ‘Those 300-plus politicians that voted for the lockdown are treasonous.
8th Nov 2020 - Metro


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Nov 2020

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Violence breaks out at anti-mask march on first night of second lockdown

Almost 200 anti-lockdown protesters have been arrested as they marched through London on the first evening of tougher measures. Very few people wore face coverings as they joined the ‘Million Mask March’ – an annual event on November 5 which is anti-establishment and against Government corruption – in Trafalgar Square, London. People began to walk up the Strand just after 6pm, chanting ‘freedom’ and ‘no more lockdown’ and police urged them to go home. Many of them carried signs, one of which read: ‘No more lockdown, no more cover ups, no more masks, no more lies!’
8th Nov 2020 - Metro

British police arrest 104 Londoners for breach of lockdown restrictions

British police said they arrested 104 Londoners on Thursday for breach of coronavirus regulations, adding that they expected more arrests as policing operations continued into the night. People gathered in central London despite new restrictions that have been imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. “Tonight, a crowd of people chose to ignore the new regulations, to behave irresponsibly and meet in a dangerous manner. More than 100 of these people have now been arrested and will have to face the consequences of their actions”, the Metropolitan Police said.
8th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK's coronavirus vaccine taskforce chief faces questions over biotech fund

The head of the government’s vaccine taskforce faces fresh questions after it emerged she hailed the launch of a biotechnology investment fund in her capacity as managing director of a venture capital firm despite having “stepped away” from the role. Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist married to the Conservative minister Jesse Norman, came under scrutiny this week when Labour asked the cabinet secretary to “undertake an urgent and swift investigation” after it was claimed she showed US financiers government documents at a $200-a-head conference. She has garnered further attention after the Times reported that, although Bingham voluntarily declared that SV Health Investors “does not invest in companies related to work on the Covid-19 vaccine”, it has shareholdings in companies named Alchemab and Adimab, which have been involved in the race to develop antibody cocktails.
8th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Vaccine diplomacy and the US-China rivalry in Africa

Earlier this year, the China-United States global rivalry escalated, as both countries deployed their diplomatic arsenals to try to sway the competition for 5G contracts. The US managed to get the United Kingdom to rescind a deal with China’s Huawei to set up the country’s 5G network, which was seen as a major win for Washington. This rivalry extended into Africa, with both superpowers trying to recruit client African states to their side. The US has tried to put pressure on Kenya and South Africa, among other African countries, to reconsider Huawei’s involvement in the set-up of 5G systems. China, for its part, has put its weight behind the tech giant.
8th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Teachers are NOT more likely to get coronavirus than other key workers, official study finds

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal there is 'no difference' in risk Other key workers were those working outside the home for at least a day Trade unions have blasted the Government for keeping schools open
7th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid: London anti-lockdown protest leads to 190 arrests

Police arrested 190 protesters during anti-lockdown demonstrations in central London. Officers dispersed a large protest in Trafalgar Square at about 19:00 GMT on Thursday, with small pockets of protests continuing through the night. One person could face a £10,000 fine over their role in the demonstrations, the Met said. Scotland Yard said protesters had "put the health of London and our officers at risk". The Met said one of the people arrested could be handed a £10,000 fine, which can be given to organisers of large gatherings. The other 189 people are being investigated for breaching new Covid-19 regulations and could be issued with fixed penalty notices, the force added.
7th Nov 2020 - BBC

No10 admits mistake in coronavirus forecasts used to justify England's lockdown

Downing Street has admitted there were mistakes in coronavirus forecasts used by Boris Johnson to justify England's new lockdown. Alarming slides shown at the No10 press conference on Saturday by Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance predicting Covid deaths could hit 1,400 a day by early December have now been revised downwards. The graph, based on forecasts by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, projected a top-end range of more than 1,400 deaths a day by December 8 - well above the first-wave peak of almost 1,000. But on Tuesday, the slide was quietly reissued with the top-end range revised down to just over 1,000 deaths a day. Another slide forecasting hospital admissions would reach nearly 9,000 at the top end has also been changed to just over 6,000 a day.
7th Nov 2020 - Mirror Online


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 6th Nov 2020

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Covid: Regulator criticises data used to justify lockdown

The government has been criticised by the official statistics watchdog for the way it presented data to justify England's second lockdown. The UK Statistics Authority highlighted the use of modelling at Saturday's TV briefing showing the possible death toll from Covid this winter. It said there needed to be more transparency about data and how predictions were being made. The projections were out of date and over-estimated deaths, it has emerged. A forecast made by Public Health England and Cambridge University said the country could soon be seeing more than 4,000 deaths a day.
5th Nov 2020 - BBC

Here's why lockdown is Nigel Farage’s new target

All of this will strike many as pure opportunism. But while Farage is clearly preying on a perceived weak spot for Boris Johnson – who is increasingly having to face down restive backbenchers over the restrictions – it looks like he has been planning a “Reform” party for a long, long time. And to find out why we need to look to Canada. Back in late-1980s Canada, a radical-right outfit called the Reform party waged war on the traditional centre-right party, the Progressive Conservatives. The goal was to derail the socially liberal direction of the Conservatives, and push sweeping tax cuts, tougher law-and-order policies and more direct democracy through referendums, as well as opposing multiculturalism. Sound familiar? The party’s argument was framed around the need for reform of institutions such as Canada’s senate, much like Farage and Tice’s calls for the House of Lords.
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Minister blames public for second English lockdown

The second national lockdown in England has been caused in part by a lack of public compliance, the justice secretary has said, adding that it will be a “huge challenge” to get the public to follow the strict rules this time. Robert Buckland suggested the public had failed to adhere to the previous system, leading to the need for the four-week lockdown starting on Thursday in England. “That’s one of the reasons we are having to take the measures we are today,” the cabinet minister told the BBC. “Sadly, it’s been difficult frankly regarding the compliance of some people with regard to the quarantine restrictions. “I think it would be very ambitious of me to suggest that somehow we will be able to use the enforcement authorities to intervene in every case I think sadly that’s not possible.”
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Anger as Italy's new 'red zones' prepare for lockdown

taly's newly-designated coronavirus "red zones" braced Thursday for a fresh lockdown as anger rose against the government, accused of penalising some regions while being too lax towards others. At the Scala in Milan, gloom reigned after the prestigious opera house was forced to cancel its opening night next month, and non-essential shops served their last customers before a lockdown Friday set to affect over 16 million people.
5th Nov 2020 - The Peninsula

Muddled messaging fuels backlash against lockdown in France

When he announced a new coronavirus lockdown in France, President Emmanuel Macron said the government had learned lessons from the first wave. But a series of unforced errors from his government is making it a tough sell. Some 73 percent of French people say they find communications over the second lockdown incoherent, according to a YouGov poll published Wednesday. Only 29 percent said they trusted the government to handle the second wave. Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced on Tuesday a curfew in Paris that was contradicted within an hour by the prime minister’s office, among other communication blunders.
5th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Nov 2020

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Tory-linked firm involved in testing failure given new £347m Covid contract

The UK government has awarded a new £347m Covid-19 testing contract to Randox, the Tory-linked private healthcare company whose testing kits had to be recalled over the summer because of concerns about contamination. The deal is a six-month extension of an existing contract and was agreed without other companies being invited to bid. It means the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has now approved transfers of nearly half a billion pounds in taxpayer funds to the Northern Ireland-based company since the pandemic began. Disclosed in a filing on a European contracts website, the award has prompted concerns about “cronyism” and calls for an independent inquiry into the £12bn spent so far on attempting to control the pandemic through the test-and-trace system.
4th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

England underestimates the costs of lockdown at its peril

Suppose there is nothing that governments can do to stop the spread of Covid-19. What then? It is not a hypothetical question, as England is discovering. “We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” the prime minister observed in Saturday’s Downing Street press conference. But humility learns from experience, and there was no sign of that in the measures he then went on to announce. In my opinion, the problem with lockdowns is that they are indiscriminate, ineffective in the long term, and carry social and economic costs that outweigh their likely benefits.
4th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Simply breathtaking: There was NO full report on the economic impact of new lockdown

Tory MPs led by Sir Graham Brady demanded release of Treasury's assessment But Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary, admitted that no such document exists Prime Minister has since been accused of not taking a 'balanced' judgment
4th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 4th Nov 2020

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Coronavirus: Michigan plotters attend multiple anti-lockdown protests

On April 30, outside the Michigan Capitol, protesters gathered to demand that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer end the business closures and other measures she had imposed to slow the transmission of the coronavirus. Speaker after speaker denounced the Democratic governor. One Republican congressional candidate told protesters that they were "the tip of the spear" in the fight against tyranny. An aspiring official said that by supporting conservative candidates they could "slap Gretchen Whitmer right across the face." In the crowd that day, according to photos and videos, were Adam Fox and at least five others who are now charged in the plot to kidnap Ms Whitmer or, in related cases, providing material support for a planned terrorist act.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Independent

Birx warns US entering ‘deadly phase’ of Covid, contradicting Trump’s message

White House scientific adviser Dr Deborah Birx warned the United States is entering a new “deadly phase” of the coronavirus pandemic, and urged an “aggressive” approach to containing its spread. Birx gave the warning in a written memo delivered to top administration officials Monday. It is a direct contradiction of one of Donald Trump’s central, and false, closing campaign messages – that the US is “rounding the corner” on the pandemic. “We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic,” Birx wrote in the memo, first reported by the Washington Post. She continued: “Cases are rapidly rising in nearly 30% of all USA counties, the highest number of county hotspots we have seen with this pandemic. Half of the United States is in the red or orange zone for cases despite flat or declining testing.”
3rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Top researchers say Britain's R rate has dropped to 1

King's College London said cases were now 'plateauing' and there was a 'slight fall' in infections across UK. Oxford's Carl Heneghan said told how coronavirus hospital admissions, cases and 'in effect' deaths in retreat. It comes as Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty face questions from MPs over the 4,000 deaths figure. Meanwhile Britain yesterday recorded its lowest number of daily coronavirus infections in fortnight - 18,950
3rd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance defend their '4,000 deaths a day' dossier

Chief scientific and medical officers were hauled before MPs to defend SAGE's doomsday forecast today. Sir Patrick said he 'regrets' frightening people with the 4,000 deaths a day figure used to justify lockdown. Experts also admitted localised, three-tiered lockdown approach starting to take effect but not quick enough
3rd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Spanish experts and authorities remain divided on home lockdown

The Asturias region believes the measure will ease the pressure on hospitals, but epidemiologists and the Health Ministry argue it is better to wait and assess the impact of the current coronavirus restrictions
3rd Nov 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

More than 400 people arrested at anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne

A policewoman was taken to hospital after she was injured when officers shut down a large anti-lockdown rally and arrested more than 400 protesters in Melbourne’s CBD. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Victorian parliament on Tuesday to oppose the state government’s strict Covid-19 lockdowns in Melbourne that were eased last week, holding up signs that read “Tell the Truth”, “Not Happy Dan”, “Masks Don’t Work” and “Corona Hoax 1984”. A Victoria police spokeswoman told Guardian Australia the force “was disappointed to arrest a large number of protestors who again showed disregard for the safety of the broader community and the directions of the chief health officer”.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

UK's Johnson defends lockdown to avoid 'medical and moral disaster'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday defended a second COVID lockdown in England from critics who said it was unnecessary and others who said it was too late, arguing now was the time to prevent a “medical and moral disaster”. After rejecting calls last month for a new national lockdown, Johnson U-turned on Saturday, announcing new restrictions across England would begin at 0001 GMT on Thursday and last until Dec. 2. Britain, which has the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe, is grappling with more than 20,000 new cases a day. Scientists have warned a worst-case scenario of 80,000 dead could be exceeded this winter.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

France ponders new Paris curfew as lockdown rebels frustrate government

France could reimpose a night curfew on Paris and possibly the surrounding region amid government frustration that too many people are ignoring lockdown rules as COVID-19 infections soar. France dramatically slowed the spread of the coronavirus in the spring with one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns. But 10 months into the epidemic and with winter drawing in, many are reluctant to endure another period of confinement. “It’s unbearable for those who respect the rules to see other French people flouting them,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told BFM TV. “We need to take all the steps needed to fight the epidemic.” A final decision on a curfew had not been taken, the office of Prime Minister Jean Castex said. It will be discussed at a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday, a government source said.
3rd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 3rd Nov 2020

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Europe's COVID-19 curbs prompt pushback amid bleak countdown to Christmas

A wave of COVID-19 lockdowns and curbs has stirred resistance across Europe, with the right-wing British politician who helped force an EU referendum harnessing popular anger at a new lockdown by recasting his Brexit Party under a new banner.
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Trump resorts to unfounded claim of Covid lockdown under Biden

In the final hours before election day, one of Donald Trump’s closing messages to Americans is an exaggerated threat: that a Joe Biden presidency will result in a national Covid-19 lockdown. Speaking in Iowa on Sunday, the president said the election was a “choice between a deadly Biden lockdown … or a safe vaccine that ends the pandemic”.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Trump Suggests He May Fire Fauci ‘After the Election’

President Donald Trump suggested to a Florida crowd he may fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after the election, escalating his feud with the nation's leading expert on infectious diseases and providing a window into a potential post-November 3 administration purge. Speaking after midnight following a full day of campaigning, the President was complaining about news media coverage of Covid-19 when the crowd broke out into a "Fire Fauci" chant.
2nd Nov 2020 - CNN

Trump criticizes lockdowns in Europe as Covid-19 cases surge on the continent and in US

President Donald Trump on Sunday harshly criticized strict lockdowns coming to some European countries to combat the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the restrictions are ineffective as cases surge both there and in the US. "Europe imposed draconian lockdowns and cases were surging and deaths were surging but think of it, draconian. Now they have to do it all over again. What the hell are they doing? I think I'll go over and explain it to them," Trump said at a rally in Michigan. "But they're locking down parts of Europe again." The President went on to claim that places with strict lockdowns are where "the people that do the worst" with fighting the pandemic are.
2nd Nov 2020 - CNN

Handful of businesses threaten to defy lockdown in England

Businesses including a beauty salon near Liverpool are vowing to remain open and defy England’s lockdown when it comes into force on Thursday. Companies face a £10,000 fine if they refuse to comply with restrictions ordering the closure of pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, gyms and all non-essential retailers. Regulations setting out the new laws in England are due to be published on Tuesday before being put to a vote by MPs on Wednesday. If passed, as expected, the measures would come into effect at 12.01am on Thursday. While the vast majority of businesses are expected to comply with the rules, a small number have publicly vowed to flout them.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

As Europe's governments lose control of Covid, revolt is in the air

As the second wave of Covid-19 filled hospital wards across Europe last week, and countries inched reluctantly towards varying degrees of partial lockdown, television schedules were cleared to allow leaders to address weary nations. Announcing a 6pm curfew for the country’s restaurants and bars the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, called for national unity. “If we all respect these new rules during the month of November,” he said, “we will succeed in keeping the epidemiological curve under control. That way we will be able to ease the restrictions and move into the Christmas festivities with greater serenity.”
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Violence continues as Spain rejects lockdown restrictions

Spanish police have clashed with protesters across the country for a second consecutive night as demonstrators took to the streets to protest the reimposition of restrictions on movement and activity as a result of soaring Covid infection rates. The biggest disturbances were in the capital Madrid where demonstrators chanted “freedom”, torched rubbish bins and set up makeshift barricades on the city’s main thoroughfare, the Gran Via. Police were attacked with stones and flares as they moved in to clear the gathering. The emergency services reported twelve people including three police officers were lightly injured in the clashes. Police said they made 32 arrests.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Times

Anti-lockdown protesters turn on the police in Spain and Italy

Anger about coronavirus restrictions has turned to violence in Spain and Italy, where demonstrators battled police and looted shops in several cities. In Spain the police clashed with protesters as violence flared in pockets after the reimposition of restrictions on movement and activity as a result of soaring infection rates.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Times

UK PM Johnson rejects criticism of moving too slowly with COVID lockdown

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday rejected criticism he had moved too slowly in introducing more stringent measures against COVID-19 across England, saying the lockdown was being put in place earlier than one in France. “I reject any suggestion that we are somehow slower in taking measures than our European friends and partners,” he said. “In fact we are moving to national measures when the rate both of deaths and infections for instance is lower than they were in France,” he told parliament, where he made the case for a new lockdown by saying the government had to avoid a “medical and moral disaster”.
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters

British business warns of ‘devastating’ lockdown hit

UK companies have warned of hundreds of millions of pounds in lost business over the coming weeks as they scramble to assess the cost of the new lockdown in England. Associated British Foods said its Primark high-street fashion chain would lose £375m in sales after the government ordered all non-essential shops in England to close for at least four weeks from November 5, alongside similar measures elsewhere in Europe. Retailers warned over the weekend that the forced closure would be a “nightmare before Christmas”. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the lockdown “will cause untold damage to the high street in the run-up to Christmas, cost countless jobs and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy”.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

Fresh lockdowns fuel angry protests as Covid-19 cases climb across Europe

Anger and exasperation over new coronavirus curbs grew Sunday as European nations wound back the clocks to the spring with fresh lockdowns and restrictions aimed at halting galloping infections and deaths. Protesters in several Spanish cities clashed with security forces for a second night running Saturday, police said, while England prepared for fresh stay-at-home orders, following in the steps of Austria, France and Ireland. European governments are desperate to stem the worrying spike in infections on the continent which has registered more than 279,000 deaths since the new coronavirus first emerged in China at the end of 2019.
2nd Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24 English

Lockdown vote: Tory rebellion brewing as Sir Graham Brady says he’ll oppose new Covid restrictions

Boris Johnson will attempt to stave off a Conservative rebellion over his national lockdown measures as senior MPs described the measures as a “form of evil”. MPs are set to debate and vote on the latest restrictions on Wednesday and the Government is expecting to face a rebellion from some Conservative MPs opposing the month-long lockdown. Several MPs have already confirmed they plan to vote against the Government and have demanded reassurance from Number 10 that the measures, if passed, will have a fixed end date.
2nd Nov 2020 - iNews

Australian court dismisses challenge to Melbourne lockdown curfew

An Australian court on Monday dismissed a challenge to a curfew that was imposed on the city of Melbourne to help curb the spread of COVID-19, ruling it was neither illegal nor irrational and did not violate the state’s human rights charter. The nightly curfew was initially imposed on Aug 5, running from 8 pm to 5 am, as part of one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns when the state’s daily infections peaked above 700 cases. The lockdown was relaxed last week, allowing shops and restaurants to reopen and lifting restrictions on leaving home.
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Scientists urged government to close secondary schools – but were blocked by ministers

Scientists advising the government urged ministers to close secondary schools for the month-long lockdown in England, i understands. Shutting schools for older children was one of the measures scientists said would help bring R below 1 due to high infection rates among teens, along with closing pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops. But the proposal was blocked because keeping education open throughout the second lockdown is a red line for the Prime Minister.
1st Nov 2020 - iNews

In Italy, Like Everywhere the Virus Goes, It’s the Discontent That’s Contagious

When the coronavirus first hit Italy, overwhelming the country’s hospitals and prompting the West’s first lockdown, Italians inspired the world with their resilience and civic responsibility, staying home and singing on their balconies. Their reward for months of quarantine was a flattened curve, a gulp of normalcy and the satisfaction of usually patronizing allies pointing to Italy as a model. Italy is now a long way away from those balcony days and its summer fling with freedom. Instead, as a second wave of the virus engulfs Europe and triggers new nationwide lockdowns, Italy has become emblematic of a despair, exhaustion and fear that is spreading throughout the Continent.
1st Nov 2020 - The New York Times

UK's Nigel Farage set to relaunch Brexit Party as anti-lockdown party

Nigel Farage, the British politician who helped force a Brexit referendum and successfully campaigned to leave the European Union, will fight Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 lockdown by recasting his small Brexit Party as Reform UK. Cast by his supporters as the godfather of Brexit, Farage said Johnson had terrified the United Kingdom into submission over COVID-19 and squandered vast amounts of taxpayers’ money while holding out hopes of a “miraculous” vaccine. “What we’ve seen in this pandemic I think is a total failure of leadership at almost every level,” Brexit Party leader Farage told Talk Radio from Pennsylvania. “What about the millions of people out there running their own businesses? This second lockdown is the death knell economically for many of those people,” Farage said.
1st Nov 2020 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 2nd Nov 2020

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Brazil's Bolsonaro says fresh COVID lockdown measures are 'crazy'

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a longtime critic of stay-at-home measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, said on Thursday that it was “crazy” for countries to start locking down again to control second waves of the virus. Most Western countries and parts of Latin America have reported their highest single-day surges in the past few weeks. Many governments, with the notable exception of the United States, have started taking stronger measures to bring the spread of the virus under control.
1st Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

France faces lockdown resistance as small shops pay the price

The French government promised on Sunday to protect the nation’s beloved independent shops that fear losing their business to international giants, such as Amazon, as it sought to quell opposition to a new coronavirus lockdown. In common with other European nations suffering from an upsurge in the novel coronavirus, France has entered a second strict lockdown, which includes closing non-essential stores for at least 15 days.
1st Nov 2020 - Reuters

Florida parents sue school board over mandate that requires students to wear masks

A group of parents in Florida is suing the Sarasota County school board for requiring students to wear face masks, which are recommended by federal health officials to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The suit was filed last week in a Sarasota County court by parents Amy Cook, Gustavo Collazo, Nicholas Eastman, and Catherine Gonzales after the school board approved an emergency 90-day mask mandate that extends its policy through to the end of the year. The policy requires students attending in-person class to wear masks, with a few exceptions, for most of the school day, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
31st Oct 2020 - NBC News

Dominic Cummings should face prosecution for breaking lockdown, says former top prosecutor

Nazir Afzal submitted evidence to suggest Dominic Cummings may have lied. The evidence relates to the chief aide's controversial trip in April to Durham. Mr Afzal's dossier is based on new eyewitness claims said to be 'wholly inconsistent' with account that Mr Cummings gave when he admitted travelling
31st Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Victoria's coronavirus lockdown might be finally be over, but we are still deeply divided

It shouldn't be surprising that in the midst of a pandemic we still find ourselves mired in politics. I suppose the stakes are too high for us not to be: The hardship, the loss of life, the preventable deaths, the economic destruction, the psychological toll. But let's be blunt for a moment — Daniel Andrews plays a mean game of chicken. The Victorian Premier, with his health officials, has pursued a virus-reduction strategy that has put him in the political crosshairs for months.
31st Oct 2020 - ABC News

Three in four more worried about impact of lockdown than catching coronavirus, poll finds

Almost three in four people are more concerned about the impact of lockdown. The results come from a poll of 2,000 adults by the Recovery group. Recovery put forward its 'five reasonable demands' as they call for ministers to balance the need to tackle Covid with the impact its policies are having
31st Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Fact check: Will private insurance be required to cover a Covid vaccine if Obamacare is overturned?

On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced rules for insurers to cover the cost of administering a Covid-19 vaccine when one is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Yet on the campaign trail, former Vice President Joe Biden has been warning that if the Affordable Care Act is overturned, as the Trump administration is attempting to do, vaccines would not necessarily be covered by insurance, and that many people will have to pay for them out of pocket. "[O]verturning the ACA could mean that people have to pay to get Covid-19 vaccine once it's available," Biden said Wednesday. "That's right. The law that says insurers are required to cover vaccines for free is the Affordable Care Act."
31st Oct 2020 - CNN

Hungary to get coronavirus vaccine in winter, says Orbán

Hungary will get a first shipment of coronavirus vaccines in December or January, and will be able to "declare victory over the pandemic" by next spring, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said today. Orbán said Hungary was talking to China and Russia and could have access to two or three different vaccines by early next year, Reuters reported. As yet, there is no clinically proven vaccine against the coronavirus. Orbán said in a radio interview that there were enough hospital beds and ventilators to treat coronavirus patients and he believes "the key is to obey the existing rules ... and that masks must be worn.
30th Oct 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Trump’s Surgeon General Battles Rising Covid Vaccine Skepticism

A coronavirus vaccine may be available as soon as the end of the year, but that will “mean nothing if people don’t trust it,” says Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, a job known as the nation’s doctor. Many people don’t, and time is running short to convince them otherwise. Adams, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said he spends his days, nights and weekends racing to boost vaccine confidence. It is a daunting challenge, given that overcoming the pandemic hinges on vaccine use and the administration he works for has at times undermined confidence that a shot will be safe and effective.
30th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

The long shadow of racism in medicine leaves Black Americans wary of a COVID-19 vaccine

As the coronavirus pandemic has progressed, and the need for a vaccine has become more urgent and apparent, the number of Americans who say they would take such a vaccine keeps falling. In particular, Black Americans — who have been among those hit hardest by the pandemic — are resistant to the idea. A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that only 27 percent of Black Americans and 46 percent of white Americans plan to get a coronavirus vaccine if and when one becomes available. The perceived politicization of the vaccine process and unprecedented pace of Operation Warp Speed has led to doubts nationwide. Until very recently, President Trump was predicting that a vaccine could arrive ahead of Election Day, Nov. 3, contradicting members of his own coronavirus task force, who have repeatedly given less optimistic time frames that have turned out to be more realistic.
30th Oct 2020 - Yahoo News UK

Simon Dolan: Coronavirus lockdown restrictions were unlawful, entrepreneur tells judges

A verdict on the legality of past lockdown rules is crucial as the government is pushed to impose further measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, senior judges have been told. Lawyers for Simon Dolan, an entrepreneur and former racing driver, told the Court of Appeal yesterday that another national lockdown “would seem to be the inevitable consequence if the most recent measures to try to reduce the infection rate fail to do so”. Mr Dolan is arguing in a judicial review that the UK’s lockdown rules were among “the most onerous restrictions to personal liberty” in almost four centuries.
30th Oct 2020 - The Times


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th Oct 2020

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US Election 2020: Trump slams lockdowns, Biden accuses him of insulting victims

President Donald Trump has urged states to shun lockdowns as his Democratic rival Joe Biden said the pandemic could not be stopped by "flipping a switch". Continuing a whirlwind schedule of rallies in battleground states, Mr Trump also mocked mask mandates. Mr Biden said Mr Trump's handling of America's worsening coronavirus crisis was an "insult" to its victims. The Democrat has a solid national lead over the Republican president six days before the 3 November election. But Mr Biden's advantage is narrower in the handful of US states that could vote either way and ultimately decide who wins the White House.
29th Oct 2020 - BBC

Pret founder says UK should not lock down to save few thousand people

The founder of Pret a Manger and Itsu has said society will “not recover” if the UK enters a second lockdown “for the sake of a few thousand lives of old and very vulnerable people”. Julian Metcalfe, whose fortune is estimated at £215m, said a lockdown would be “impossible”. He told the Daily Mail: “The young people of this country will be paying for this for the next 20 to 30 years. It's terrible what's happening. “Just because France does this with its socialist government, doesn't mean we have to.”
29th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Merkel heckled by German MPs as she defends second 'soft' Covid lockdown

Angela Merkel said Germans had the chance to show Covid-19 “you have chosen the wrong host” as she defended her government’s second “soft” lockdown, to shouts and heckles in parliament. Citing an interview with the German science writer Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim, which she said reflected her own attitude towards the pandemic, the chancellor said: “If the virus could think, it would think … ‘I’ve got the perfect host here. These people live all over the planet. They are globally networked and are social creatures, they can’t live without social contacts. They have a hedonistic inclination, they like to party, it couldn’t be any better.’”
29th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

As COVID-19 surges, European leaders impose new lockdowns and curfews. Trump does not

European leaders are ratcheting up pandemic restrictions as a second wave of COVID-19 cases batters Italy, Spain and other countries. French President Emmanuel Macron announced a full, nationwide lockdown starting Thursday and lasting until Dec. 1, though he said schools would remain open. In Germany, officials imposed a partial four-week lockdown Wednesday. “We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
29th Oct 2020 - USA TODAY

'Terrifying new response': US host's bizarre take on NZ's Covid strategy

A right-wing television host in the US has spread misinformation about New Zealand's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, sharing an old clip of Jacinda Ardern and claiming the Government is "throwing people into quarantine camps". Laura Ingraham, host of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle, made the claims on her show yesterday, joining a growing number of right-wing pundits overseas who are casting New Zealand's response as a threat to freedom.
29th Oct 2020 - Otago Daily Times

Mexican president slams European coronavirus lockdown measures

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday blasted European countries for adopting strict lockdowns to stem the spread of coronavirus, suggesting they smacked of authoritarianism. Germany and France were on Wednesday preparing to announce restrictions approaching the level of spring’s blanket lockdowns as COVID deaths across Europe surged. National or local authorities have already imposed nighttime curfews in several European countries, including France, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic. Speaking at a regular news conference, Lopez Obrador voiced regret at the measures being taken in Europe and urged governments to show more faith in their populations.
28th Oct 2020 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Oct 2020

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White House lists ending Covid-19 pandemic as an accomplishment despite cases spiking to record levels

The White House included ending the coronavirus pandemic on a list of the Trump administration's science and technology accomplishments, despite nearly half a million Americans tested positive for Covid-19 in just the last week. A White House Office of Science and Technology Policy news release made the claim in announcing a document highlighting the administration's science and technology achievements over the past four years. "Highlights include: ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC," the news release sent to reporters read. "From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease."
28th Oct 2020 - CNN

Covid: Protests take place across Italy over anti-virus measures

Protests took place across Italy on Monday over new restrictions to curb the country's second wave of Covid. Clashes were reported in the northern cities such as Turin, where petrol bombs were thrown at officers. In Milan tear gas was used to disperse protesters, and thousands of people gathered in the centre of Naples. The demonstrations began soon after the national government's order to close restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas came into effect at 18:00 local time. Many regions have also imposed night-time curfews - including Lombardy, where Milan is, and Piedmont, where Turin is. The violence was blamed on extremist agitators and police said 28 people had been arrested in Milan alone.
28th Oct 2020 - BBC

Milan fights against new local coronavirus lockdown

As Italian businesses grapple with the sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions introduced by the central government, the country’s financial capital is fighting to avoid a local lockdown that some people fear will cripple its economy. Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region with a population of 1.3m and a host of high-profile companies, is one of Europe’s coronavirus hotspots. Since the pandemic, commuter and tourist numbers have plummeted — dropping more than 70 per cent this year — leaving retailers, restaurants, bars and hotels with losses nudging €10bn.
28th Oct 2020 - Financial Times

Instead of learning from South Korea’s coronavirus example, Trump is lying about it

Trump has been jealously maligning South Korea for months. He has claimed South Korean President Moon Jae-in called to praise his handling of the pandemic, gloated when its infection numbers went up and lied about how much more testing the United States has conducted. He seems bitter that people often point out that while both countries discovered their first covid-19 cases on the same day, today South Korea (population 52 million) has 25,836 total confirmed cases and 457 total deaths, compared with at least 8.7 million cases and at least 225,000 deaths in the United States. That translates to a proportional mortality rate that is 78 times smaller in South Korea than here. It’s obvious South Korea has done a lot right while we’ve done a lot wrong. But according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, there’s nothing to learn from Seoul — at least according to his totally inaccurate and stereotype-laden misrepresentation of South Korea’s response.
28th Oct 2020 - The Washington Post

Hoping for a lucky break in the pandemic could cost the US economy dearly

The latest coronavirus surge is upon us and it's looking more like a tsunami. With public health at risk and the economy hobbling along, we're going to be facing some painful decisions — again. Should governments shut down bars and restaurants? Should schools send kids home to learn remotely? Will some parts of the country have to, as Dr. Anthony Fauci has suggested, hold off on Thanksgiving? Our track record with these decisions is not great so far. The states hardest hit by the first wave made these decisions too slowly. The ones hit hardest by the second wave repeated the mistake, acting only after they had run out of other options, as local hospitals became overwhelmed and daily deaths set records.
28th Oct 2020 - CNN

In the UK, young, non-white people likelier to lose jobs: Survey

Twice as many young and non-white British workers have lost their jobs after going on furlough compared with the average, largely because they are more likely to work in sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, a study showed. The Resolution Foundation think-tank said 19 percent of workers aged 18-24 and 22 percent of ethnic minority staff had lost their jobs after being furloughed, compared with 9 percent of employees overall.
28th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Trump’s COVID-19 response angers former supporters

For months, Tony Green believed the conspiracy theories. The coronavirus was a hoax masterminded by the “mainstream media” and the Democratic Party to bring down United States President Donald Trump ahead of the presidential election, he thought. But then the 43-year-old from Dallas, Texas, got sick, as did 14 members of his extended family after he hosted a get-together in June. Two of his relatives, aged 52 and 69, later died from COVID-19.
28th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Coronavirus: Flares, grenades and tear gas thrown as Rome's anti-lockdown protests continue

Violence broke out in Rome as anti-lockdown protesters threw flares and flash grenades at police, who fought back with tear gas and water cannons. Supporters of the far-right party Forza Nuova (New Force) were largely among the crowd of a few hundred in Piazza del Popolo, one of Rome's famous landmarks. They were protesting against new COVID-19 restrictions, including a 6pm curfew for bars and restaurants and the closure of public gyms, cinemas and swimming pools.
27th Oct 2020 - Sky News


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Oct 2020

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Russian ambassador informs Greek health ministry about Russian coronavirus vaccine

Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrey Maslov has informed the Greek Health Ministry’s expert committee ab