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

News Highlights

Masks protect wearers and those around from Covid-19, says CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said in a new guidance statement that wearing masks protects both the wearers and those around them from coronavirus transmission. This is an update from the previous CDC guidance that suggested the main benefit of wearing masks was to help prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others.

Collins Dictionary declares 'Lockdown' as word of the year

After a year that saw a sharp rise in the usage of the word 'lockdown' during the pandemic, Collins Dictionary has declared it to be the word of the year after lexicographers registered more than 250,000 usages of it during 2020, up from just 4,000 the previous year. Other words in the list include 'furlough,' 'social distancing,' 'key worker' and 'coronavirus.'

Full lockdown in Lebanon as hospitals fill up with Covid-19 patients

Health authorities have ordered a full lockdown for two weeks in Lebanon to allow the strained health sector to boost capacity and fight a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the country. The lockdown will be imposed from Sunday until November 30, with airports and borders open and only essential sectors and food deliveries exempt from the restrictions.

FDA authorises Eli Lilly for Covid-19 antibody treatment

Eli Lilly has become the first drugmaker to get emergency use authorisation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a Covid-19 antibody treatment that the company hopes will help vulnerable people avoid hospitalisation. The treatment, bamlanivimab therapy, is designed to boost patients' immune systems with engineered antibodies and has been authorised for use on patients who have mild-to-moderate symptoms who are at risk of developing serious conditions.

Lockdown Exit
CDC now says masks protect both the wearers and those around them from Covid-19
Wearing a mask can help protect you, not just those around you, from coronavirus transmission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidance Tuesday. The statement was an update to previous guidance suggesting the main benefit of mask wearing was to help prevent infected people from spreading the virus to others. Cloth masks act as "source control" to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide "filtration for personal protection" by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others, the CDC said in its new guidance.
What will happen after lockdown in England?
England is currently in its second lockdown of the year as a second wave of coronavirus continues to grip the country. It came into force last Thursday, with non-essential retail once again forced to close, along with businesses such as hair salons and gyms – while pubs and restaurants can only provide a takeaway and delivery service. The lockdown, which replaced the tier system of restrictions in England, is intended to last for four weeks, ending on December 2 – but what will happen after that? And is there a possibility it could be extended if it fails to impact on the current infection rate?
‘Naked in the face of this crisis’: Spain’s Latin American workers suffer
José, a 40-year-old former graphic designer from Colombia, is on the front line of Europe’s coronavirus-driven economic crisis: as an immigrant in Spain, he is one of the most vulnerable group of people in the EU’s worst-affected major economy. In March he fell ill with Covid-19, like thousands of others in Madrid; in April he was admitted to hospital; in May he lost his job as a doorman. Now, months later, he is still looking for a job. “Initially my boss did not believe I was infected and I had to keep working,” said José, who did not want his full name to be published. “But then my symptoms got worse and I was replaced by someone else. I was on a temporary contract, so that was it for that job.” His is a story that is all too common.
Swaths of European firms risk collapse despite subsidies, ECB warns
One in seven Spanish workers are in businesses at risk of collapse, according to new research by the European Central Bank, excluding those who work for financial companies. This is the highest rate of all large eurozone economies, and comes despite the country’s national furlough scheme. It compares with about 8 per cent of employees in Germany and France and 10 per cent in Italy, also taking into account the use of subsidies to keep people in work, the ECB found. Companies at risk of collapse are defined as having negative working capital and high debt levels.
From schoolboy to tea seller: Covid poverty forces India’s children into work
The pandemic has pushed millions of urban poor into crisis – and left children struggling to help their families survive. Subhan Shaikh used to start the day with a cup of cinnamon-flavoured tea, brought to him by his mother, Sitara, before he got ready for school. But the lockdown in March brought her salary as a school bus attendant to an end, and providing food – never mind tea – for Subhan, 14, and his two younger sisters, became a challenge. Today, life for Subhan revolves around tea, which has become a lifeline for his family. After seeing his mother struggle, Subhan decided to do something and became a tea seller on the streets of Mumbai.
Coronavirus doctor's diary: 'We are first-hand witnesses of this devastation'
The second coronavirus wave has already put many hospitals under great pressure, and it's nurses and physios who bear the brunt of it, writes Dr John Wright of Bradford Royal Infirmary (BRI). Here he introduces four nurses, who describe the strain they are now under. Work. Sleep. Repeat. Our doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and support staff have settled in to a weary routine. The hospital is nearly full. The patients we admit were infected a fortnight beforehand. The patients who are dying were infected a month ago - when the government's scientific advisory group, Sage, was recommending a circuit break. The virus has used this time to great effect. In Yorkshire, one in 37 people tested positive in the last week of October - almost 3% of the population. This is a prevalence figure beyond our comprehension.
Covid-19: 'Lockdown' declared Collins Dictionary word of the year
"Lockdown" has been declared the word of the year for 2020 by Collins Dictionary, after a sharp rise in its usage during the pandemic. It "encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people", Collins said. Lexicographers registered more than 250,000 usages of "lockdown" during 2020, up from just 4,000 last year. Other pandemic-linked terms on the 10-strong list include "furlough", "key worker", "self-isolate" and "social distancing" as well as "coronavirus". According to the dictionary, lockdown is defined as "the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces".
Exit Strategies
Covid-19: Vaccine could be rolled out from December and student testing
A vaccine could be rolled out by the NHS from 1 December if it gets approval, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told MPs. Mr Hancock updated the Commons on the government's vaccination plans after early results released on Monday showed a vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech could prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19. However, Mr Hancock cautioned that there were still no guarantees it would be approved and questions remained over the impact it would have on the transmission of the virus.
There may be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, but 'normality' may not come until end of 2021
A COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be authorized before the end of the year, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to throw away your mask anytime soon. Rolling out a vaccine to everyone who wants one will take months in the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world. And while vaccines are essential tools for fighting a pandemic like COVID-19, they don't fix everything.
PSNC pushes for pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service parity with GPs
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) is pushing for a COVID-19 vaccination service in pharmacy “to have parity” with the one commissioned for GP practices. The details for a community pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination service are still being discussed, with the PSNC, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) having entered “urgent negotiations” about the sector’s role in a vaccination programme, the negotiator announced last week (November 6). Following news of positive interim results released by Pfizer/BioNTech regarding their COVID-19 vaccine, health secretary Matt Hancock said on the BBC Breakfast programme today (November 10), that the “NHS is ready” to deliver a potential COVID-19 vaccine. “The GPs are ready, we’re working with the pharmacists…who’ve got a very important role to play,” he said.
Mass testing alone isn't enough to get England out of lockdown
When Boris Johnson announced his landmark Operation Moonshot programme in early September – an ambitious plan to test millions of people for coronavirus each day – few expected that two months later, the UK would be looking to Slovakia as an example of what might be possible. After all, the Eastern European nation has hardly hit the headlines as a Covid-19 hotspot. It recorded its first case in early March, and during the first wave of the pandemic, infection rates rarely exceeded 100 per day. But with daily cases reaching new heights amidst the second wave, prime minister Igor Matovič announced that Slovakia would use rapid antigen tests to conduct the first large-scale population testing program in Europe, in a bid to avoid a national lockdown.
FEATURE-Trackers to mask detectors: India bets on COVID tech amid privacy fears
From a tracker that can tell where someone sleeps at night to a device detecting whether they have a mask on or not, India's government is betting on hi-tech solutions to fight COVID-19, despite growing privacy concerns.
Unpacking the legal and ethical aspects of South Africa's COVID-19 track and trace app
The most effective way to stop the spread of a virus is to prevent contact with everyone who is infected. Those who are infected can be isolated and treated if necessary. To determine who they are, it’s necessary to actively look for and manage cases. During the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging technologies are being repurposed to help trace whoever has been in contact with an infected person. Some of these technologies, such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), wi-fi and Bluetooth, are not new. GPS has been used to find accident victims at precise geographic locations. Some of the uses of wi-fi are oxygen monitoring devices, smart beds, access to electronic medical records and real-time access to X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging scans.
UK making good progress on travel testing to cut quarantine - minister
Britain is making good progress with a plan to allow COVID-19 tests to cut a 14-day quarantine period for those returning from abroad, a change which could help fuel a travel recovery once current lockdowns end, the transport minister said. Airport bosses welcomed the update from the minister, Grant Shapps, at an online conference but said more needed to be done. The top priority for them is that the government eliminates the requirement for quarantine through testing for the coronavirus. “We’re making very good progress on a ‘test to release programme’ to launch once we’re out of this lockdown,” Shapps said on Monday. “Once we emerge from the lockdown, we can roll out new systems to help get people flying and travelling again.”
Screening the healthy population for covid-19 is of unknown value, but is being introduced nationwide
Subsequently it was reported that the UK government had abandoned plans for Operation Moonshot. Yet, on Tuesday 3 November it was reported that Moonshot Phase 1 has actually begun in Liverpool. According to the City Council’s website “everyone who lives or works in the city” is eligible for regular and repeat testing from 6 November by attending one of 14 army-run test centres over the course of two weeks. [3] The website says this is the beginning of national roll out and “will help to demonstrate that massive asymptomatic testing can identify far more cases and break the transmission of coronavirus.” The army is conducting testing for 11 to 18 year olds in schools, and a letter to parents from one school head advised “if you wish to exclude your child from this test please do so to me in writing by first thing on Monday morning.” Screening for under-11s is not mentioned. Official communication to residents has been through news announcements, appealing to public duty and claiming that the test detects “infectiousness.” Little or no information is provided about the nature and limitations of the test(s) being performed and Public Health England are keeping the results of their studies of the accuracy of the test confidential. No information has been given to participants to explain whether the project is actually research, or how personal data will be held and used. An assumption is made that everyone has a smart phone.
Covid-19: NHS England should manage test and trace system, says Independent SAGE
The Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Independent SAGE) has renewed its call for urgent reform of the government’s covid-19 test and trace system,1 urging that it be replaced by a system overseen by the NHS to avoid future lockdowns. Independent SAGE showed that 1 217 214 contacts have been reached by England’s NHS Test and Trace service since May at an approximate cost of £10 000 (€11 000; $13 000) per head so far, based on the government’s commitment to spend £12bn on a tracking system. Contact tracing in the national service is provided by the private companies Serco and Sitel. Latest figures show that the number of contacts traced has remained stagnant at around 60%. However, Kit Yates of the University of Bath concluded after analysing government data that only 14% of those who provided contacts have been reached and advised to quarantine. “We know that not everyone is isolating, because it’s not practical for people and they’re not being supported effectively,” he said, projecting that only 5-10% of those told to isolate are doing so.
UK to roll out twice-weekly testing for health service staff
Britain will start rolling out twice-a-week COVID-19 tests to all National Health Service (NHS) staff from Tuesday, health minister Matt Hancock said, in order to protect patients and health workers. “(Rapid) tests allow us, from today, to begin rolling out twice-weekly testing for all NHS staff, which will help keep people safe when they go into hospital, and help keep my wonderful colleagues in the NHS safe too,” Hancock told parliament.
GPs in England will scale back care to deliver Covid vaccines
GP services will be cut back well into 2021 so family doctors can immunise millions of people against coronavirus at new seven-day-a-week clinics, NHS England has said. Health leaders warned that surgeries will not be able to offer their full range of care for patients from next month as doctors and nurses will be immersed in administering jabs at more than 1,200 mass vaccination centres across England, potentially including sports halls, conference centres and open air venues. It came as Britain reported 532 new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since May. Some 20,412 people tested positive for Covid-19, down slightly from the previous day.
Partisan Exits
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
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.
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.
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.
Continued Lockdown
French Teachers Strike Over Covid-19 Risks
French teachers' unions called a nationwide strike on Tuesday, protesting over inadequate protection against Covid-19, as the Italian government introduced tough new rules across much of the country following the continued rapid spread of the virus there. Teachers in France say it is impossible for schools to enforce social distancing among pupils even after sanitation rules were tightened earlier this month. Classes are too big, and schools lack staff and equipment such as individual tables, they say. “We are raising the alarm because we don’t want schools to become clusters,” elementary school teacher and union leader Guislaine David said. She said she wants schools to remain open.
Nicola Sturgeon lockdown update RECAP as Glasgow and Central Belt remain in coronavirus level three
Glasgow and the surrounding areas of the Central Belt will continue to fall under level three of the Scottish Government’s five-tier system. Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that there will be no easing of restrictions for the next week, stating: “While we are seeing a levelling off, we have not yet seen a sustained fall in cases. A plateauing rate of infection is not a stable condition. “It would clearly not be prudent to ease restrictions this week.” She added that no local authority will move to level four this week, but that “there are some giving us cause for concern and we will be monitoring them closely in the coming weeks”.
Lockdown children forget how to use knife and fork
The pandemic has seen most children in England slipping back with their learning - and some have gone significantly back with their social skills, says Ofsted. A report from the education watchdog warns some young children have forgotten how to use a knife and fork or have regressed back to nappies. Older children have lost their "stamina" for reading, say inspectors. The Department for Education says it shows the need to keep schools open.
Wales lockdown: German tourists fined for breaching rules
A family on holiday in Wales was sent back to Germany by police carrying out lockdown patrols. Officers stopped the family in Llanrhidian on Gower on 8 November - the last day of Wales' firebreak lockdown restrictions. South Wales Police said that the family were issued with a fine for breaching Covid-19 regulations and advised to travel home.
What it's like to be on vacation in a country on lockdown
On the evening of October 31, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the return of an England-wide lockdown, designed to stem an alarming second wave of coronavirus. American traveler Elizabeth Prairie, recently landed in the UK for a four-week trip, watched the national address from her Airbnb in London's Notting Hill neighborhood. She'd arrived in the UK capital almost two weeks prior and was about to come out of her 14-day compulsory quarantine. Prairie had planned a four-week vacation in London, accounting for quarantining while also allowing time to explore, work remotely and enjoy her break. When she boarded her British Airways flight from JFK airport, Prairie knew England had instituted a 10 p.m. closing time on all bars and restaurants, and London was entering stricter "Tier 2" restrictions that limited access to them.
Spotlight on domestic abuse: How lockdown created a 'perfect storm'
Domestic violence and abuse is at a 15-year high in Northern Ireland, with more than 32,000 incidents reported to the PSNI from June 2019 to July 2020. Restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid-19 have forced people to spend much more time at home and created the "perfect storm" for abusers.
Lockdown sparks addiction surge in Australia – 3AW
Over one million Australians have an addiction, with fears that number has soared during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Professor at Monash University and Executive clinical director at Turning Point Rehabilitation Centre, Professor Dan Lubman, told Dee Dee Dunleavy Australia needed to pay more attention to addictions. “We’ve seen significant changes in behavior in the last year due to coronavirus,” he said. “A lot of people have reported an increase of drinking, a shift to gambling, an increase of uncertainty and stress. “Addiction is a health disorder that is treatable, it’s a solution to former underlying problems normally associated with trauma, mental health and isolation. “People use it as a way to cope.”
Scientific Viewpoint
EU to approve Pfizer vaccine contract tomorrow
The European Commission will approve a contract for the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech tomorrow, its President Ursula von der Leyen said. The two companies said their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two doses, and 28 days after the first, according to preliminary findings on the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. "Tomorrow we will authorise a contract for up to 300 million doses of the vaccine developed by German company BioNTech and Pfizer," Ms von der Leyen said in a statement.
Planes, dry ice, pharmacies: The vaccine challenges
The United States could be the first country to launch one of the most ambitious vaccine operations in history: distributing and administering up to 600 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in just a few months. Massive vaccine campaigns are nothing new - they have been carried out for decades in the fight against measles and flu, for example. But stamping out the coronavirus is a distinctly new challenge due to three factors: the short timeframe for inoculating a huge number of people; the fact that most vaccines will require two doses; and the very low temperature at which some of the vaccines must be stored.
One in 5 COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days - study
Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said on Monday, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.
How Eli Lilly Developed Covid-19 Drug in Pandemic’s Long Shadow
When Covid-19 struck, drug companies around the world began racing to find vaccines and treatments. One factor has gummed up their efforts: They have to work in an environment transformed by the very problem they are trying to tackle. At Eli Lilly & Co., the chief of a laboratory, quarantining at home after he contracted Covid-19, had to use a robot equipped with an iPad to patrol his lab. When shipping constraints threatened to delay testing of an experimental drug, Lilly repurposed its corporate jet to get vials to use
Cautious optimism over Covid-19 vaccine trials
The media have been awash with stories about the apparent success of the Pfizer Covid vaccine following the publication of preliminary trial outcomes (Hopes rise for end of pandemic as Pfizer says vaccine is 90% effective, 10 November). I am not surprised that the public has latched on to these, as hope and positivity have been in short supply this past year. I have even had patients contacting me about when the vaccine will be available, stating that it will allow “normal” life to resume. While the public can be forgiven for overoptimism, it is important that the medical profession, the media and the government keep expectations grounded and do not encourage the notion that we now have a panacea that will take us out of the pandemic.
Oxford ups COVID-19 testing capacity with Thermo Fisher deal
The University of Oxford has partnered with U.S.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific to ramp up its capacity to deliver COVID-19 testing data and help collect and quantify immune responses in its vaccine trials, the university said on Tuesday. The collaboration will increase Oxford’s testing capacity to up to 50,000 tests per day with its new rapid testing lab and a device from Thermo Fisher that can detect antibodies developed in a person against the new coronavirus, it added.
Study Shows Endangered Marine Mammals Are At Risk Of Contracting COVID-19
Wastewater is known to carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In fact, cities around the world are testing wastewater to gauge the extent of local coronavirus outbreaks. Wastewater is often treated before it enters the ocean to kill microbes, like viruses and bacteria. However, untreated wastewater is occasionally released into waterways when treatment plants reach capacity, such as during a heavy rain event. In these situations, wastewater treatment facilities may release wastewater that has not been fully treated. When over-capacity wastewater treatment plants release untreated effluent during the current pandemic, the virus that causes COVID-19 enters marine habitats.
Gastrointestinal effects of COVID-19 highlighted in new study
In a new study, researchers have synthesized evidence from 36 scientific articles to highlight the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in people with COVID-19. The study, appearing in the journal Abdominal Radiology, also identifies some of the signs abdominal radiologists should look out for when imaging people. Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
Nearly one in five Covid patients later diagnosed with mental illness – study
Nearly one in five people who have had Covid-19 are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression or insomnia within three months of testing positive for the virus, according to a study that suggests action is needed to mitigate the mental health toll of the pandemic. The analysis – conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre – also found that people with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 than those without, even accounting for known risk factors such as age, sex, race, and underlying physical conditions. “This finding was unexpected and needs investigation. In the meantime, having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for Covid-19,” said Dr Max Taquet, an NIHR academic clinical fellow and one of the authors of the analysis.
20 Million Doses Of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Headed To Spain In Early 2021
Spain’s health minister has said the country is in line to receive 20 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s new Covid-19 vaccine early next year, which early results indicate could be 90% effective at preventing the disease with no serious safety concerns, a welcome announcement after parts of the country were rocked by violent anti-lockdown protests after the government declared a state of emergency over rising Covid-19 cases.
How a communist physics teacher flattened the COVID-19 curve in southern India
When the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its first statement on the spread of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, on 18 January, few local governments in India paid close attention. But K. K. Shailaja, the diminutive woman running the health ministry in the southern state of Kerala, immediately perked up her ears. Shailaja knew many students from Kerala were studying at Wuhan University; some had asked her for internships the previous year. She also knew firsthand the havoc an outbreak could cause. In 2018, during her first stint as a minister, she faced an outbreak of Nipah virus, another deadly pathogen spread from animals to people. “We knew anything could happen at any time,” she says.
COVID-19: Pfizer vaccine within global reach - but what about New Zealand?
A promising vaccine against COVID-19 could be available to New Zealanders as early as the first quarter of 2021, according to the Government. An interim analysis has found a vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech to be 90 percent effective in protecting people - without evidence of prior infection - against the SARS-CoV-2 virus,
COVID-19 lockdown had significant toll on New Zealanders' well-being, study reveals
Research has confirmed the nationwide Alert Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown had a significant toll on New Zealanders' well-being, especially for younger people - but the results were not all negative. Researchers from the University of Otago conducted a demographically representative survey of adult New Zealanders between 15 and 18 April, corresponding to days 19 to 22 of the 33-day lockdown. They found almost a third of participants experienced mental distress during the lockdown, but that many people also experienced some form of 'silver linings'. They asked Kiwis about their levels of stress, anxiety and depression, about the state of their family relationships and whether there were any positive outcomes from lockdown. Dr Susanna Every-Palmer, the Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington, says 30 per cent of those surveyed reported moderate to severe psychological distress and 16 per cent had moderate to high levels of anxiety. Almost 40 per cent said their level of well-being was low.
Significant psychological toll from New Zealand COVID-19 lockdown
Research has confirmed the nationwide Alert Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown had a significant toll on New Zealanders' well-being, especially for younger people - but the results were not all negative. Researchers from the University of Otago conducted a demographically representative survey of adult New Zealanders between 15 and 18 April, corresponding to days 19 to 22 of the 33-day lockdown. They found almost a third of participants experienced mental distress during the lockdown, but that many people also experienced some form of 'silver linings'.
EU to approve Pfizer vaccine contract tomorrow
The European Commission will approve a contract for the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech tomorrow, its President Ursula von der Leyen said. The two companies said their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two doses, and 28 days after the first, according to preliminary findings on the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.
Brazil's Bolsonaro claims victory as Sinovac COVID-19 trial halted
Brazil’s health regulator suspended a clinical trial of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine due to a severe adverse event, delighting President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly criticized the vaccine’s credibility and said it would not be purchased by his government. Brazil’s health regulator, Anvisa, suspended the trials late on Monday saying the event occurred on Oct. 29. The state government of Sao Paulo, where the trial is being run, said the death of a trial volunteer had been registered as a suicide and was being investigated. A police report of the incident was seen by Reuters.
Brazil suspends trials of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, citing 'serious adverse event'
A "serious adverse event" that led Brazil's health authorities to halt clinical trials of a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine was not related to the vaccine trial itself, the director of Brazil's Butantan biomedical institute said on Tuesday. Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) suspended the trial on Monday after an incident on October 29. A note from Anvisa said the trial had been paused in order to better evaluate the data and assess the risk. But Dimas Covas, the institute's director, told reporters at a news conference in Sao Paulo that the incident was in no way linked to the vaccine trial.
Coronavirus: Brazil halts trial of Sinovac vaccine after 'unrelated' death of volunteer
Brazil's health regulator has halted clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine being made by Chinese drug firm Sinovac after a "serious adverse effect". The regulator, Anvisa, did not provide any further details but said the incident took place on 29 October. "With the interruption of the study, no new volunteer can be vaccinated," a statement on its website read.
Eli Lilly receives authorisation for Covid-19 antibody treatment
The US Food and Drug Administration has given Eli Lilly the first emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 antibody treatment, which the drugmaker hopes will help vulnerable people avoid hospitalisation. Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab therapy has been authorised for mild-to-moderate patients who are at risk for developing a more serious condition, such as the elderly or those with chronic illnesses. The treatment, designed to boost patients’ immune systems with artificially engineered antibodies, is the first drug developed for use this early in the disease.
Eli Lilly’s coronavirus antibody treatment will be needed even if there is a vaccine, CEO says
There will be a need for coronavirus antibody therapies even if there is a widely available vaccine, Eli Lilly CEO and Chairman Dave Ricks told CNBC. Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody treatment received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Monday evening. “I am so pleased to hear about Pfizer’s news yesterday, and we hope that makes us obsolete. I don’t think it will,” Ricks said.
Ahead by a nose: Covid sniffing dogs prevent surveillance overreach
A British security agency says it is giving up on high-tech solutions to the pandemic in favor of Covid-19 detecting sniffer dogs — because they are a “softer touch.” Already deployed at Helsinki airport and in airports in the United Arab Emirates, researchers say specially-trained dogs can sniff out a person infected with Covid-19 within seconds — and with almost 100% accuracy. “The results are great,” said Jonathan Ratcliffe, director of the UK security company Guards, during a phone call. Ratcliffe is advocating for the use of dogs in shopping centers and airports. “With the right deployment I think dogs would be really good: they’re a lot less intrusive and negative.”
COVID vaccine breakthrough raises hopes, poses logistical headache
Monday’s potential breakthrough in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has left governments scrambling to meet the logistical challenge of distributing hundreds of millions of doses once it becomes available in coming months. Interim trial data showed the experimental vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech was 90% effective, spurring hopes of an end to a pandemic that has cost more than a million lives and crashed the world’s major economies. With the two groups expecting to produce some 50 million doses by the end of the year and 1.3 billion doses next year, assuming regulatory approval, German Health Minister Jens Spahn, said the vaccine was a “light at the end of the tunnel”.
Brazil halts trials of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine
Brazil’s health regulator said on Monday it had suspended clinical trials of an experimental Chinese COVID-19 vaccine after an “adverse incident” involving one of the volunteers, in a surprise to the trial organisers who said that while there had been a death it was not related to the vaccine. The setback for CoronaVac, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech, came on the same day US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said its vaccine candidate had shown 90 percent effectiveness, raising hopes of an end to the pandemic.
Coronavirus Resurgence
U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations surge to record of just over 59,000 patients: Reuters tally
There were just over 59,000 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the United States on Monday, the country’s highest number ever of in-patients being treated for the disease, with new infections at record levels for the sixth consecutive day. The harsh statistics tallied by Reuters cemented the United States' position as the nation worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic, even as drugmaker Pfizer Inc provided some hope with successful late-stage tests of its vaccine. President-elect Joe Biden hailed Pfizer’s progress, but urged Americans to wear masks as he noted a vaccine may not be widely available for many months. The number of Americans with COVID-19 currently hospitalized has surged around 73% over the past 30 days to at least 59,008 - a record level that surpasses the previous high of 58,370 on July 22. Daily new infections, meanwhile, exceeded 100,000 for the sixth consecutive day.
Expert predicts US could soon hit 200,000 daily coronavirus cases as the country tops 10 million infections
More people are currently hospitalized in the United States with Covid-19 than ever before, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Tuesday, 61,964 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the tracking project. The nation has never before topped 60,000 current hospitalizations. The United States currently averages roughly 1,661 new hospitalizations per day, CTP data shows.
Coronavirus: Russia resists lockdown and pins hopes on vaccine
The ticket booths at Krylatskoye ice palace are shuttered, but the rink is full: not of speed skaters and hockey players, but rows of coronavirus patients. It's one of five facilities in Moscow transformed into giant temporary hospitals that are now swinging into action as the number of new Covid cases reaches daily record highs. The Kremlin describes the rate of infection as "worrying" - close to 21,000 new cases were announced across Russia on Tuesday - and it admits that healthcare facilities in some regions are "overloaded".
In Italy’s Second Coronavirus Wave, Milan Staggers as Hospitals Fill Up
Italy’s business capital has become the center of a second wave of the coronavirus, putting at risk the country’s economic recovery and reviving the specter of a health-care crisis Italians thought they had overcome this spring. With infections, hospitalizations and deaths linked to Covid-19 rising exponentially, hospitals in Milan are running out of beds even after having converted wards and suspended nonurgent procedures. Ambulances have been forced to wait for hours to drop off patients at hospitals where Covid-19...
Beaches, mountains, COVID data: Spain's lesser-known regions shine amid pandemic
The popularity of once under-the-radar regions like Asturias on Spain's northwestern coast has boomed as Spaniards factor in their handling of the pandemic alongside newfound priorities including sparse population and abundant natural spaces.
As virus spikes, Europe runs low on ICU beds, hospital staff
In Italy lines of ambulances park outside hospitals awaiting beds, and in France the government coronavirus tracking app prominently displays the intensive care capacity taken up by COVID-19 patients: 92.5 per cent and rising. In the ICU in Barcelona, there is no end in sight for the doctors and nurses who endured this once already. Intensive care is the last line of defence for severely ill coronavirus patients and Europe is running out — of beds and the doctors and nurses to staff them.
Spain reports first weekend fall in coronavirus cases, but sets new record for fatalities
The number of new weekend coronavirus cases reported in Spain has fallen for the first time in more than a month. According to the Health Ministry’s report, released Monday night, 52,386 new infections were detected since Friday – a figure that covers the weekend, given that no data is released on Saturdays and Sundays. The last time a fall was recorded over this period was October 5. The number of Covid-19 related deaths, however, broke a new record. Since Friday, 512 fatalities have been added to the official toll, the largest weekend figure of Spain’s second wave.
Hungary's COVID-19 deaths near record on eve of partial lockdown
Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government a special 90-day mandate to rule by decree in an effort to curb a spiking coronavirus pandemic, and they approved new restrictions amounting to a partial lockdown. Hungary’s government reported 103 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, making it the third hardest hit country in Europe in terms of deaths per 100,000 people over the past 14 days, behind the Czech Republic and Belgium, European Union data showed. Orban, signalling a shift away from his policy of avoiding tough restrictions in order to protect the economy, announced a limited lockdown from 12:01 a.m. (2301 GMT) on Wednesday to avoid hospitals being overwhelmed.
Sick patients ‘in limbo’ as operations suspended and mental health problems soar - GPs voice fears over the winter ahead
Family doctors have voiced worries about a growing mental health crisis, battles to get patients into hospital and how exactly the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out will work, as entire surgeries find themselves self-isolating
Covid: NHS staff helped through crisis by 'wobble room'
In small room in the Royal Derby Hospital, there's a table bearing a laminated sign. "You are not alone," it says. It continues: "Kindness will get you through. Embrace the challenge. Look after each other. You are stronger than you think." This is the "wobble room", set aside not for patients but for front-line staff to get them away - briefly - from the intense pressure and strain experienced in the first wave of Covid-19. "We made a wobble room because that's what we needed," Kelly-Ann Gurney, an intensive-care nurse, told the BBC.
Nepal to offer free COVID-19 tests and treatment as cases surge
Nepal will provide free COVID-19 tests and treatment for everyone, an aide to the prime minister said on Tuesday, as the total number of infections was set to cross the 200,000 mark. The move follows a Supreme Court order for free treatment last week after the Communist government asked citizens who could afford to pay to do so, limiting free testing and care to only those who couldn’t.
Why is Spain taking longer to respond to the coronavirus pandemic than its European neighbors?
El Pais speaks to experts about why Spanish authorities continue to drag their feet when it comes to introducing measures that have already been applied in several nations with much lower incidence rates
New Lockdown
Waiting in the wings: how a second lockdown halted theatre's comeback
Two of this autumn’s most anticipated UK theatre shows opened last Wednesday – and promptly closed that night. A revival of the classic musical Rent at Manchester’s Hope Mill and a sequel to the hit play Death of England at the National Theatre in London were scuppered by the introduction of a second lockdown in England on 5 November. Their sold-out runs ended after a handful of previews and a press night. This month was supposed to find England’s theatres welcoming back audiences, albeit at reduced capacity, and plotting a path through the turmoil wrought by coronavirus. Perhaps they would even learn of the long awaited date for stage five of culture secretary Oliver Dowden’s roadmap to fully reopen venues. Instead, productions around the country have been cancelled, postponed or streamed for an online audience instead.
Lockdown 2 leaves music venues in search of an encore
On the genteel Royal Tunbridge Wells Common, a converted toilet has for almost three decades housed The Forum, the Kent town’s premier independent music venue. With a capacity of 250, acts from Oasis to Mumford & Sons have packed out this sweaty little building, epitomising what is most loved about live music. In these dreary lockdown days, we yearn for such evenings. The Forum shut on March 17, in accordance with the UK’s first lockdown, and has since subsisted on donations and sales of merchandise. With help from the government’s £1.6bn cultural recovery fund, the venue was ready to host socially-distanced gigs this month, albeit with a mere 55 patrons. Then came last week’s lockdown mark two, meaning more closures and cancellations.
UK redundancies hit record before second Covid lockdown
The government’s furlough scheme and a recovering economy failed to prevent record redundancies in the period before tougher lockdown restrictions were imposed, according to the latest official data. Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that young people have been the hardest hit by mounting job losses, with an unemployment rate three times the national average. The ONS said a record 314,000 people lost their job in the three months to September – a period in which the Treasury’s wage subsidy scheme became less generous.
How are people in Berlin handling 'lockdown light?'
German authorities have tightened restrictions on public life for a second time to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Bars and hotels are shut, and restaurants are open for takeout only. How are people in Berlin handling the situation?
Italy’s Regional Lockdown Leaves Border Bar In Limbo
Plumb on the border between two Italian regions, legend has it this bar’s entrance is in Lombardy, now a red zone that can’t be entered from bordering regions, while the car park is in the “yellow” area of Emilia-Romagna, with the loosest COVID restrictions. Italy’s latest three-level coronavirus lockdown has plunged the bar and the surrounding village of Stellata di Bondeno into a regulatory nightmare restricting residents’ access to basic services and visiting relatives.
UK consumer spending wilts even as new lockdowns spur stockpiling
Consumer spending, a rare bright spot for Britain’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic, faded in October although the re-introduction of lockdowns prompted a renewed stockpiling spree, surveys showed on Tuesday. Payment card provider Barclaycard said overall consumer spending slipped 0.1% in annual terms in October as people cut back on non-essential spending while stocking up on groceries. Another survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) similarly showed spending was skewed towards food sales.
German investor moral drops on concerns over second coronavirus lockdown
German investor sentiment dropped more than expected in November as a second wave of coronavirus infections and a partial lockdown to contain the disease increased uncertainty over the outlook for Europe’s largest economy. The ZEW economic research institute said on Tuesday that its survey of investors’ economic sentiment fell to 39.0 points from 56.1 points the previous month, undershooting a reading of 41.7 in a Reuters poll. “Financial experts are concerned about the economic impact of the second wave of COVID-19 and what this will entail,” ZEW President Achim Wambach said in a statement, adding that the data pointed to an economic slowdown in the fourth quarter.
Lebanon orders full lockdown to combat COVID-19, boost hospital beds
Lebanon ordered a full lockdown for around two weeks to stem a rise in COVID-19 infections and allow a badly strained health sector to bolster capacity as the country buckled under a financial meltdown. The Supreme Defence Council said in a statement on Tuesday the lockdown starting Saturday would be in place until Nov. 30, with vital sectors and food delivery exempt. The airport and borders will remain open. “We have reached a very dangerous stage as public and private hospitals can no longer admit critical cases because all beds are occupied,” Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said, warning the shutdown may be extended if people do not comply.
UK job losses underline scale of COVID-19 challenge - Sunak
British finance minister Rishi Sunak said figures showing a record increase in redundancies and a rise in the unemployment rate to 4.8% “underline the scale of the challenge we’re facing”. “I want to reassure anyone that is worried about the coming winter months that we will continue to support those affected,” he said in a statement after the data was published on Tuesday. Sunak last week extended until the end of March the government’s costly wage subsidy scheme.