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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 14th Jan 2021

News Highlights

Johnson & Johnson vaccine shows promising results in early trials

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine candidate has shown positive results in a combined phase 1-2 trial. Almost all volunteers saw both antibody and T-cell responses generated after either one or two doses. Side effects reported were minimal. A Phase 3 trial will gauge if the vaccine protects against symptoms of Covid-19. Johnson & Johnson is expected to report details of more advanced trials later this month and apply for emergency authorisation from the FDA.

Democracy backsliding worsened by the pandemic

Multiple Asian countries have experienced democratic backsliding in recent years - and the pandemic has worsened the situation. Covid-19, researchers said, 'has deepened the crisis and provided cover for governments to disrupt elections, silence critics and the press, and undermine the accountability needed to protect human rights as well as public health.' Eighty countries worldwide have seen democracy and human rights adversely affected by the pandemic.

In Britain, tests are requested by under half of those with symptoms

Data suggests that fewer than half of the British people who display Covid-19 symptoms request a test. Just 43% request and receive a test according to an ongoing UCL study. Of those surveyed, just over a third said they always requested a test if they showed symptoms, while just under 10% said they did so on some occassions. Then, 57.3% said they never did so.

Economic recovery set back by new lockdowns and rising cases: investment banks say

Despite vaccine rollout, many countries have tightened lockdown restrictions as Covid-19 cases have surged. This has sparked fears of a stalled economic rebound according to investment banks. 'Rising Covid-19 cases suggest a more tepid recovery from here,' said Savita Subramanian, a Bank of America equity strategist.' An additional wave of Covid-19 is among the key risks to be monitored this year,' concurred Vincent Manuel, global CIO at Indosuez Wealth Management.

Lockdown Exit
New COVID-19 lockdowns imperil global economy’s recovery
A major chunk of the global recovery in companies’ earnings – recovery expected in the first quarter of 2021 – is at risk of being pushed back further as coronavirus lockdowns and mobility restrictions in several countries cloud hopes of a swifter economic rebound, investment banks said. China announced lockdowns in four cities and European countries unveiled tighter and longer coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, denting back-to-normal hopes and sparking worries about further economic damage in 2021.
Will poorer nations miss out on COVID-19 vaccine?
The WHO has urged countries to prioritise COVAX, an initiative to secure vaccines for low and middle-income nations. The global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is widening the divide between the world’s rich and poor. The United Nations warns “vaccine nationalism” is on the rise, as Europe, the United States and many wealthier countries buy up millions of potential doses. The World Health Organization urged countries to prioritise COVAX, an initiative to secure vaccines for low and middle-income nations. So how can we ensure protection for everyone? Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom
France’s Six Nations matches at risk without safety ‘guarantees’
The French sports minister has said she requires further government guarantees before France will be permitted to play in England and Ireland during the Six Nations. Roxana Maracineanu confirmed France would be given clearance to play their opening fixture of the championship, against Italy in Rome, on February 6. However she has concerns over Fabien Galthié’s squad travelling to face Ireland in Dublin on February 14 and England at Twickenham on March 13 because of the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in both countries.
Return with confidence: Using tech to create safe offices, post-pandemic
How can technology help companies worldwide return to work safely when lockdown ends? At Siemens, Ruth Gratzke is overseeing a “Return with Confidence” campaign to create safe and healthy indoor office environments. “It addresses everything from elevators where you don’t have to touch the buttons, touchless interactions throughout the building or management of meeting rooms and desks around social distancing,” said Gratzke, who is president of Siemens Smart Infrastructure, U.S., a unit of Siemens AG. “It’s about using creative and new technologies, looking at what’s available in tech and giving people the confidence to return to the office.”
Exit Strategies
U.S. Vaccine Shift Stirs New Unease as 128 Million Join Line
The U.S. government wants states to offer vaccines to millions more Americans as Covid-19 infections continue to soar, in a bid to bolster an immunization campaign that’s off to a rocky start. In recommending that states start immunizing all residents 65 and older, along with all those between 16 and 64 with medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to serious disease, U.S. health officials are clearing a path for about 128 million more Americans to be vaccinated.
Joan Bakewell threatens legal action over delays to second Covid vaccine dose
The journalist and Labour peer Joan Bakewell is threatening the government with legal action over its policy to delay the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid vaccine. Lady Bakewell, 87, said there were grounds to show the decision taken by ministers to widen the gap between doses – from the three weeks recommended by the manufacturer to up to 12 weeks – was unlawful. She has instructed the law firm Leigh Day to start proceedings in response to the new dosing strategy, and names the respondent as the health secretary, Matt Hancock.
Second shots of Covid vaccine could be delayed further in England
Second shots of coronavirus vaccine could be delayed even further amid growing evidence that spacing out the doses improves their effectiveness. The NHS vaccination programme aims to immunise about 14 million people at greatest risk of Covid by mid-February, with second doses to be given up to 12 weeks later. But Public Health England’s head of immunisation, Mary Ramsay, told MPs on Wednesday that if infection data showed vulnerable groups, such as the over-80s, were well protected by their first shot, then second doses could be delayed to get a first jab to younger people as well.
Less than half of people who have developed Covid-19 symptoms have requested a test - and over-60s are the worst at getting checked out
Just 43 per cent of people who develop Covid-19 symptoms are getting a test, according to shock new data. An ongoing UCL study has been tracking the social aspect of the pandemic and how the general public has been behaving and adhering to the ever-changing rules and guidance. It started in mid-March 2020 and regularly quizzes more than 70,000 Britons about their life in lockdown. Data shows a third of people requested a test every time they developed symptoms, one in ten got a test only on some of the occasions when they had symptoms and 57 per cent never requested a test despite having symptoms
COVID-19: Care homes asked to take coronavirus patients straight from hospitals without recent test
Care homes are being asked to take COVID patients straight from hospitals without a recent test under new guidance. In a document seen by Sky News, the NHS is now advising that patients can be moved from a hospital directly to a care home within 90 days of a positive COVID test or the onset of symptoms. Patients will not be required to have a further COVID-19 test in the 48 hours prior to their discharge. But they will have to have completed a 14-day isolation period and have shown no new coronavirus symptoms or had any no new COVID-19 exposure
US requires negative Covid-19 tests from all international travelers
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced it will start requiring all international travelers coming into the US to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter the country. Global testing requirements would be an expansion on a Trump administration policy barring UK travelers without a negative test from entry, which was announced on December 24. The new rule, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, will apply to Americans returning home from abroad, as well as visitors.
Spain aims for all care home residents to get first COVID-19 vaccine dose by weekend
Spain aims for all its nursing home residents to have received a first dose of vaccine against the coronavirus by the end of the week, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting. Since kicking off its vaccination campaign at the end of December and with new infections on the rise, Spain has focused its efforts on inoculating elderly nursing-home residents who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
EasyJet cabin crew to help with UK vaccination programme
British airline easyJet said the National Health Service (NHS) would train hundreds of its cabin crew to administer COVID-19 vaccines under a fast-track scheme designed to help boost the country’s vaccination efforts. The government plans to vaccinate the elderly, the vulnerable and frontline workers - around 15 million people - by mid-February and is opening up centres and recruiting volunteers to help it meet its target. With travel at very low levels due to the lockdown, many of easyJet’s 3,000 cabin crew are not working but are both first aid trained and security cleared, making them attractive candidates to the NHS to help with the programme.
Partisan Exits
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.
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.
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.
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
'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.
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
Continued Lockdown
COVID-19: Compliance with restrictions at highest point since first lockdown, new data reveals
Compliance with coronavirus rules has risen sharply since December and is now at its highest point since the first lockdown, according to a major new survey seen by Sky News. The results cast doubt on the government's claims that rule-breaking is contributing to a rise in COVID-19 deaths, after ministers and senior police officers warned that enforcement would be increased to ensure compliance. But while the restrictions are being followed by most people, the study confirmed "rule-bending" remains as commonplace as throughout the pandemic, with a large minority adding their own "modifications" to the rules, especially when it comes to meeting other people and self-isolation time.
Scotland's Covid lockdown tightened with click and collect and takeaway curbs
Shops in Scotland have been ordered to stop non-essential click-and-collect services and alcohol consumption is to be banned outdoors, in a further tightening of lockdown measures. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, said shops would be allowed to offer click and collect only for essential goods such as clothes, shoes, baby equipment, books and homeware from Saturday 16 January. Takeaway outlets will be banned from allowing customers into the building. “I must stress at the outset that the situation we face in relation to the virus remains very precarious and extremely serious,” she told MSPs. UK government ministers are considering restricting click and collect in England, and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, joined Sturgeon in welcoming John Lewis’s voluntary decision on Tuesday to suspend its collect services.
Parents forced to prioritise children over jobs as UK lockdown pressures bite
Parents in the UK face impossible choices between their livelihood and their children’s wellbeing, according to campaigners and business groups who say employers have become less willing to grant furlough requests to help manage the pressures of home schooling. During the first national lockdown last spring, parents were twice as likely to be furloughed as those without children, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics, which also found that many of those still working could only manage by catching up in the early hours and late at night. Polling by the TUC found that one in six mothers — mostly those in low-paid jobs — had no choice but to cut their hours.
To thrive in lockdown, keep looking forward
One of the most challenging aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the stubborn persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It may feel as though the situation is improving at times, but when events force governments to enact new lockdowns, the effect can be disheartening. A recent study, by researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, has explored some strategies for maintaining emotional well-being during lockdown. It suggests that the most effective strategy for managing the emotional burden of lockdown may be to train one’s perspective forward — toward positive aspects of the future.
COVID-19 batters Asia's already-struggling democracies
Over the past 15 years, democracy across Asia has regressed. Although the region still has strong democracies like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, many other leading Asian democracies and countries with democratic potential have slid backwards, turning into near-autocracies or outright authoritarian states. While Thailand had been one of the freest states in Asia in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it has suffered two military coups in the past decade and now is run by a parliamentary government that took power after a seriously flawed election in 2019. Bangladesh had built itself into a shaky but increasingly vibrant democracy by the early 2010s, but in the past decade has deteriorated into a de facto one-party regime, with opposition activists, civil society leaders and journalists jailed and murdered. The Philippines, which had become a solid democracy in the decades following after the Marcos regime, elected President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 and then witnessed mass extrajudicial killings, crackdowns on media outlets and violent targeting of Duterte’s political opponents. And in India, the most populous democracy in the world, recent years have included the Narendra Modi government undermining the independence of the judiciary and cowing independent media.
COVID-19: Police in talks with ministers about tightening 'vague' lockdown exercise rules
Police are in talks with ministers to tighten the "woolly" and "incredibly vague" lockdown regulations around exercise, a senior officer has said. Existing rules are "a real challenge", Owen Weatherill, from the National Police Chiefs' Council, told a committee of MPs on Wednesday. The assistant chief constable, who is leading the policing response to the pandemic in England and Wales, was giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr Weatherill told members police were holding discussions with the Home Office and the Department of Health, in the hope that they could "give greater clarity to the public and also to our officers". He said: "It's really difficult to get the right balance, I don't think there's a perfect answer for anybody, because whichever way you frame it somebody will be disadvantaged. That's the reality of what we're dealing with here. "There was a deliberate effort to try and make it flexible initially so there was a degree of freedom of choice for people, and you could exercise some of the decisions you wanted to within certain ranges, but that clearly is presenting other problems.
Covid 19 coronavirus: Woman walks husband on leash to avoid Canadian lockdown law
A Canadian couple have been fined for breaching local lockdown laws after police caught a husband and wife out for a walk. Unusually, the wife had leashed her husband for the excursion. She reportedly told officers that she was "walking her dog" when she was confronted by police. The incident occurred in the city of Sherbrooke, in Quebec provice.
School key worker ‘lottery’ sees NHS staff miss out on lockdown classroom places as more children attend
One week after schools in England closed, key worker parents and NHS staff are missing out on face-to-face education places for their children, as schools attempt to adhere to broader key worker guidance while managing a problematic increase in attendance. Both teachers and parents told i that they were finding it increasingly difficult to manage demand for children to attend school. While schools in England closed for most pupils on Tuesday 5 January, as with the first lockdown they remain open for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers, as well as for those children without digital devices or quiet spaces in their homes, and the children of EU transition workers.
Europe extends and tightens lockdowns, with fingers crossed for vaccines
Governments across Europe announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns and curbs on Wednesday amid fears of a fast-spreading variant first detected in Britain, with vaccinations not expected to help much until the spring. Vaccines are being rolled out across the continent, but not as quickly as many countries had wished, and the effects are not expected until inoculations are widespread among the population. Italy will extend its COVID-19 state of emergency to the end of April, Health Minister Roberto Speranza said as infections show no sign of abating. Switzerland announced tighter measures to tackle new variants of the COVID-19 virus and extended the closure of restaurants, cultural and sport sites by five weeks to run until the end of February.
Scotland to tighten lockdown rules on retail and takeaway from Saturday
Scotland will tighten its lockdown measures to restrict non-essential retailers from offering “click-and-collect” services and limit how takeaway food and drink can be sold from Saturday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said. A national lockdown was announced for mainland Scotland on Jan. 4, shortly before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced similar measures for England. Sturgeon said that a rapid increase of cases caused by a new variant of the coronavirus appeared to be slowing down, but said it was not an indication that it was safe to ease lockdown, adding that more needed to be done. “Case numbers are still so high, and the new variant is so infectious that we must be as tough, and as effective as we possibly can be to stop it spreading,” Sturgeon said on Wednesday.
Germany will have COVID curbs beyond January - health minister
Germany will not be able to lift all coronavirus lockdown curbs at the beginning of February, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, stressing the need to further reduce contacts to fend off a more virulent variant of the virus. The German cabinet on Wednesday approved stricter controls on people entering the country after a national lockdown was last week tightened and extended to the end of January.
Denmark to extend lockdown measures by three weeks - media reports
Denmark on Wednesday extended hard lockdown measures by at least three weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, in particular a more transmissible variant of the virus that is spreading in the Nordic country. Denmark has so far registered 208 cases of the new variant dubbed cluster B 1.1.7., which was first registered in Britain and has spread across Europe. “It is the growth that is extremely worrying,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a news conference late on Wednesday. “This means that we will see a situation with sharply increasing infection rates later in the winter, if the situation continues as it is now,” he said.
Lockdown starting to have an effect, says UK PM Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday tougher restrictions brought in last week were starting to have an effect on the spread of COVID in some parts of the country, cautioning that it was still early days. “What we are now seeing, and it’s very, very important to stress that these are early days, we are now seeing the beginnings of some signs that that is starting to have an effect in many parts of the country, but by no means everywhere and it is early days,” he told parliament. He also said he did not rule out bringing in even tougher restrictions to try to temper the spread of the coronavirus, which has largely been driven by a new variant.
Scientific Viewpoint
Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine generates immune response, few side effects, in early trials
Early stage trials of Johnson & Johnson's experimental coronavirus vaccine show it generated an immune response in nearly all volunteers, with minimal side-effects, after a single dose. The company expects to report details of more advanced trials later this month and is hoping to apply for authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration soon after. Researchers who tested the vaccine in a combined Phase 1-2 trial -- mostly meant to show safety -- found either one or two doses of the vaccine generated both antibody and T-cell responses against the coronavirus. The trials were not designed to show whether the vaccine protected people against either infection or symptoms of coronavirus -- that's what the ongoing Phase 3 trials are designed to do. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, an international team of researchers who tested the vaccine in around 800 volunteers said the early stage trials showed it was safe and probably should work.
COVID-19 infection gives some immunity for at least five months, UK study finds
People who have had COVID-19 are highly likely to have immunity to it for at least five months but there is evidence that those with antibodies may still be able to carry and spread the virus, a UK study of healthcare workers has found. Preliminary findings by scientists at Public Health England (PHE) showed that reinfections in people who have COVID-19 antibodies from a past infection are rare - with only 44 cases found among 6,614 previously infected people in the study. But experts cautioned that the findings mean people who contracted the disease in the first wave of the pandemic in the early months of 2020 may now be vulnerable to catching it again. They also warned that people with so-called “natural immunity” - acquired through having had the infection - may still be able carry the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their nose and throat, and could unwittingly pass it on.
JPM: How did Pfizer up its COVID-19 vaccine capacity? 'Out of the box manufacturing,' CEO says
Pfizer partner BioNTech upped the pair’s 2021 COVID-19 output projection to 2 billion doses for 2021, up from a previous estimate of up from a previous estimate of 1.3 billion But how will the companies get there?
COVID-19 vaccine dosing schedules should be adhered to, say stakeholders
In a collective flexing of muscles over the controversy of how and when to dose the new COVID-19 vaccines now appearing on global markets, the leading pharma and vaccine lobbying bodies have come out strongly in favor of using the products as indicated by manufacturers and the various medicine regulators that have approved their use, which so far has largely been on a conditional/emergency basis. In a joint statement issue this afternoon, the biopharmaceutical industry said it acknowledges the considerable challenges governments are facing to urgently address the enormous strain the pandemic is placing on healthcare systems, societies and economies. In light of the urgent need to reach as many people as possible with COVID-19 vaccines, there are emerging discussions regarding dosing strategies that may not be supported by the authorized labelling or published clinical data.
J&J likely to seek EU approval for COVID-19 vaccine in February: lawmaker
Johnson & Johnson could deliver the first doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Europe in April, an EU official told Reuters on Wednesday after a top lawmaker said the U.S. healthcare company was likely to seek EU regulatory approval in February. Clinical data on the vaccine has been assessed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) since Dec. 1 under a rolling review to speed up possible approval. A senior EU official, who is involved in negotiations with vaccine makers and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the J&J shot could be available from April 1 in Europe. Earlier on Wednesday, an EU lawmaker said J&J could seek EU approval for its one-shot vaccine in February.
Johnson & Johnson Expects Covid Vaccine Results Soon but Lags in Production
Johnson & Johnson expects to release critical results from its Covid-19 vaccine trial in as little as two weeks — a potential boon in the effort to protect Americans from the coronavirus — but most likely won’t be able to provide as many doses this spring as it promised the federal government because of unanticipated manufacturing delays. If the vaccine can strongly protect people against Covid-19, as some outside scientists expect, it would offer big advantages over the two vaccines authorized in the United States. Unlike those products, which require two doses, Johnson & Johnson’s could need just one, greatly simplifying logistics for local health departments and clinics struggling to get shots in arms. What’s more, its vaccine can stay stable in a refrigerator for months, whereas the others have to be frozen.
J&J COVID-19 vaccine on track for March rollout, still aims for 1 billion doses this year: executive
Johnson & Johnson is on track to roll out its single-shot coronavirus vaccine in March, and expects to have clear data on how effective it is by the end of this month or early February, the U.S. healthcare company's chief scientific officer said. Dr. Paul Stoffels in an interview on Tuesday also said J&J expects to meet its stated target of delivering 1 billion doses of its vaccine by the end of this year as the company ramps up production. Stoffels said it was premature to say how many doses would be available in March, presuming the company receives emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The New York Times reported earlier on Wednesday that J&J was experiencing manufacturing delays that would reduce the number of doses on hand initially.
Stricter COVID-19 restrictions likely saved THOUSANDS of lives in European countries, study finds
European countries that had stricter mitigation measures against COVID-19 likely saved thousands of lives, a new study finds. Nations such as Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had closed schools and offices, limited gatherings and implemented stay-at-home orders before cases began rapidly spreading across the continent, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Tuesday. Meanwhile countries such as the UK, Belarus and Luxembourg implanted few to no restrictions, allowing infections to spread relatively unchecked. What's more, the CDC found that sterner restrictions in most European countries could have led at least 74,000 fewer deaths - mostly in the UK, France and Spain.
Sinovac: Brazil results show Chinese vaccine 50.4% effective
A coronavirus vaccine developed by China's Sinovac has been found to be 50.4% effective in Brazilian clinical trials, according to the latest results released by researchers. It shows the vaccine is significantly less effective than previous data suggested - barely over the 50% needed for regulatory approval. The Chinese vaccine is one of two that the Brazilian government has lined up. Brazil has been one of the countries worst affected by Covid-19. Sinovac, a Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company, is behind CoronaVac, an inactivated vaccine. It works by using killed viral particles to expose the body's immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.
Are women with asthma at increased risk for severe COVID-19?
Although adults with asthma appear to have a reduced risk of severe COVID-19 compared with younger populations,1 women with asthma might represent a somewhat susceptible subgroup for severe COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation.2 A study by Atkins and colleagues established female sex as an independent risk factor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) hospitalisation among patients with asthma in the UK.2 This study and three additional studies from Paris, France, Illinois, USA, and New York, NY, USA, report that 37–53% of all individuals hospitalised with SARS-CoV-2 were women.3, 4, 5 However, 56–71% of patients with asthma hospitalised for COVID-19 were women in these studies
Coronavirus UK: Lockdown is creating 'unprecedented' mental illness pandemic, experts warn
Mental health charity Mind's daily website views rose from 9,580 to 14,167. Its chief executive Paul Farmer warned there was a 'mental health pandemic.' YoungMinds' parents helpline has received calls about anxiety and depression. Britain was plunged into a third national lockdown by Boris Johnson last week
COVID-19: Study suggests almost half of ICU staff have turned to alcohol or had suicidal thoughts
Almost half of intensive care workers have turned to alcohol or had suicidal thoughts during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study suggests. The research shows that 45% of ICU staff polled met the clinical threshold for at least one of the following: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe anxiety or depression and problem drinking. One in eight (13%) said they had experienced frequent thoughts of "being better off dead" or hurting themselves within the past two weeks. The study, published in the Occupational Medicine journal, surveyed 709 healthcare workers from nine intensive care wards across England in June and July 2020, but has not yet been peer reviewed.
AstraZeneca boss says two million weekly doses of vaccine will be delivered to NHS ‘imminently’
Two million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs will “imminently” be delivered to the NHS a week as the vaccine roll-out is dramatically stepped up, a pharmaceutical boss said today. Tom Keith-Roach, president at AstraZeneca UK, said 1.1 million doses of the company’s Covid-19 jab had been released to date. He told the Commons science and technology committee: “We are scaling up very rapidly and this will happen imminently to releasing two million doses a week. “We’re absolutely on track to do that and therefore deliver tens of millions of doses in the first quarter of the year.
German COVID-19 study finds concert halls are safe ‘at half capacity’
A German concert hall commissioned a study which found that – with the correct ventilation system – arts venues are theoretically ‘covid-safe’ at half audience capacity. Concert hall closures have been a heavy blow for musicians in Germany, the UK and in all countries shaken by the coronavirus pandemic. And while there has been government aid, it has rarely been enough to offset lost income from cancelled gigs. In the wake of ongoing closures in its region, in north Germany, the Dortmund Concert Hall decided to commission a study from scientific research organisation, the Fraunhofer Society, to investigate the spatial spread of aerosols and CO2 in a music venue. The study looks specifically at the risk of infection for audience members when attending concert halls and theatres.
Coronavirus Resurgence
CNN reporter breaks down in tears live on air as she ‘grieves’ for families affected by Covid-19
Journalist Sara Sidner could barely speak during Tuesday’s segment where she spoke about the Covid-19 crisis in California. Sara broke down in tears following a news package about how the virus has disproportionately affected Black and Latino families. A clip that was shown on the programme, centered around a family that had to hold a funeral for their mother in a parking lot. ‘This is the 10th hospital that I have been…,’ Sara began as she choked back the tears. ‘I’m sorry,’ she added. ‘I apologise, I’m going to try to get through this.’
Ontario reports 2,961 new COVID-19 cases as province set to give update on vaccine distribution efforts
Ontario’s premier is defending his government’s new stay-at-home order against criticism that the latest measure to fight COVID-19 is not clear. Doug Ford stressed that the measure means people should “use their best judgment” to determine if they need to leave their home as virus rates surge. Under the order that takes effect Thursday, Ontario residents will be required to stay at home except for essential activities such as accessing health care, shopping for groceries, or outdoor exercise. The government has also restricted hours of operation for non-essential retailers currently offering delivery and curbside pick up to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and a five-person cap on outdoor social gatherings.
COVID-19 live updates: Quebec reports 2,071 new cases, 35 deaths as hospitalizations continue to rise
Updated throughout the day on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Questions/comments: ariga@postmedia.com Top updates Quebec reports 2,071 new cases, 35 deaths as hospitalizations rise Quebec is recording more cases,
British tourist is blamed for Covid-19 outbreak in Switzerland that has caused officials to scrap Ski World Cup races
91st Luberhorn classic in Wengen, Switzerland, was cancelled earlier this week Covid outbreak infected 60 at resort - half of the cases blamed on a single Briton World Cup races moved to Kitzbuehel but Austrian officials have since moved the races again - now to Flachau - after British mutant strain discovered in Tyrol
Mental health of NHS staff placed under further strain as Covid hospitalisations continue to rise
Doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients in overstretched hospitals are increasingly suffering from mental health issues, figures show – as health chiefs warn staff will be pushed to their limit over the next few weeks of the pandemic. The number of doctors seeking psychiatric help through the British Medical Association has doubled since the pandemic began, The Independent can reveal, while new research shows that nearly half of all NHS staff in intensive care units (ICUs) are likely to meet the threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression. And in a letter sent to doctors on Tuesday, the UK’s chief medical officers said that the weeks ahead “are likely to be among the most challenging of all our professional lives” and will push staff “to the limits of [their] physical and mental endurance”.
Bodies pile up at crematorium in Germany's virus hot spot
The caskets are stacked three high in the Meissen crematorium’s somber memorial hall, piled up in empty offices and stored in hallways. Many are sealed with plastic wrapping, others are labeled “infection risk,” “urgent” or simply “COVID.” A surge of coronavirus deaths in this corner of eastern Germany has boosted business for crematorium manager Joerg Schaldach and his staff, but nobody is celebrating. “The situation is a little bit tense for us at the moment,” Schaldach said as another undertaker’s van pulled up outside. The crematorium would typically have 70 to 100 caskets on site at this time of year, when the flu season takes its toll on the elderly
Soaring COVID-19 cases in Spain prompt more regions to toughen response
The Spanish regions of Galicia, La Rioja and Cantabria became the latest to tighten coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday amid a spiralling national infection rate that officials have blamed on lax adherence to the rules over Christmas. After a lull in contagion in late November, cases skyrocketed through December and into early January, doubling the incidence of the virus as measured over the past 14 days in just three weeks, to 454 cases per 100,000 people. Unlike European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands, which have extended national lockdowns, the Spanish authorities have repeatedly said a return to confinement is not necessary. Instead it has delegated regional authorities to deploy a mixture of curfews, caps on group meetings and restrictions on business opening hours.
Spanish regions ramp up coronavirus restrictions as third wave takes hold
The feared third wave of the coronavirus after Christmas is getting worse in Spain, and is forcing the country’s regional governments to take action. After relaxing restrictions for the holiday season, which saw a spike in social interaction, and given the rise in daily infections and increased pressure on hospitals, coronavirus measures are once again being revised. On Tuesday, the central Health Ministry reported 25,438 new cases and added 408 fatalities to the official death toll. What’s more, the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants now stands at 454, well about the 250-limit that the ministry considers to be extreme risk. The effect of last week’s Kings’ Day celebrations is yet to be seen in the figures.
Third coronavirus wave gains pace in Spain, with 25,500 new infections and 408 Covid-related fatalities
Spain is being plunged into a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, and the country’s hospitals are beginning to suffer as a result. There are currently more than 17,600 Covid-19 patients being treated, 64% up on the figure before Christmas, and the number of people in intensive care units (ICUs) has risen 39% since December 24. Epidemiologists are warning that the curve of infections will continue to rise, while some experts are calling for a home lockdown in order to stop the transmission of the virus and avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed. The relaxation of restrictions in December and the rise of social interaction over the Christmas period are behind this third wave, which comes hot on the heels of the second one, which was seen in the autumn. The Health Ministry reported 25,438 new infections and added 408 victims to the overall death toll on Tuesday, while the 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants is currently at 454 for the whole of Spain.
France likely to have to take tougher measures due to virus variants
France will likely have to consider more restrictions on people’s movements soon to limit the spread of the UK and South African variants of the coronavirus, Jean-François Defraissy, head of the scientific council advising the government on the epidemic said on Tuesday. “There will probably be — and these are political decisions — a certain number of tougher measures to take,” Defraissy told TF1 television. The government is currently pondering whether to impose a third national lockdown
Tokyo's Covid outbreak adds to doubts over hosting Olympic Games
A dramatic rise in coronavirus cases in Tokyo has reignited speculation about the Olympic Games, which are due to open in the city in just over six months’ time. Japan widened its coronavirus state of emergency to cover more than half the population on Wednesday as surging infections sparked warnings of intense pressure on hospitals. The prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said anti-virus measures introduced in the greater Tokyo region – at the centre of the latest wave of cases – would be expanded to include seven other prefectures. Suga said he would “take every measure” to protect lives, adding that all non-resident foreign nationals would be banned from entering Japan until the emergency measures were lifted. Japan had previously permitted business travellers from 11 Asian countries where case numbers appeared to be under control.
Japan expands state of emergency over coronavirus as infections climb
Japan will expand its state of emergency to seven more prefectures, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday. The country reported 4,527 new cases and 51 deaths Tuesday, bringing the national total to almost 300,000, with a death toll of 4,158. More than 61,500 patients are in hospitals across the country, which have been struggling to deal with a spike in cases brought on in part by freezing winter temperatures. Tokyo, previously among the worst hit areas, reported 970 new cases Tuesday, the first time the Japanese capital's daily tally has dropped below 1,000 in over a week. The total number of confirmed cases in Tokyo now stands at 77,133.
Australian paramedic in UK's 'chaotic' COVID-19 surge says most colleagues have caught the virus
Every morning, Declan Gregg covers himself from head to toe in PPE — mask, goggles, gloves and a full gown — before climbing into an ambulance and heading to the first call of the day. An Australian paramedic based in Crawley, south of London, he knows the first job will inevitably be a coronavirus patient. As will the next job, and the one after that. Hospitals across the United Kingdom are overflowing as case numbers and deaths soar to new records every day, with the mutant, more transmissible strain of the virus spreading rapidly.
Swiss boost coronavirus restrictions, shy away from full lockdown
Switzerland on Wednesday tightened measures to tackle new variants of the COVID-19 virus spreading across the country while stopping short of the full lockdown neighbouring countries have adopted to choke off the pandemic. The wealthy Alpine country also eased rules for pandemic-hit businesses to apply for state aid, which will force the government to ask parliament to top up the latest 2.5 billion Swiss franc ($2.82 billion) pot of money for hardship cases. Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns over fears about a fast-spreading variant first detected in Britain, with vaccinations not expected to help much for another two to three months.
UK's Second Wave Covid Deaths Surpass First Wave Total
More people have now died during the second wave of coronavirus in the UK than the first, the latest government figures reveal. From the beginning of the pandemic up to September 1, when three people died of Covid – the lowest number since the pandemic began – 41,565 people died within 28 days of a positive test. Since then, at least 43,196 more people have died, Wednesday’s figures show. Meanwhile, analysis by the PA news agency of separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate – together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days – suggest there have now been 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus in the UK
Italian medics may be permitted to ration life-saving care under new pandemic plan
The Italian health ministry has been criticised after a draft of the country’s new pandemic plan revealed medics would be permitted to choose which patients receive life-saving care. This is the first time Italy has updated its pandemic plan since 2006. The absence of an adequate plan is thought to have contributed to Italy’s coronavirus death toll of more than 79,000. The draft copy of the pandemic plan for 2021-23, seen by the Guardian, stipulates that while health workers are obliged to provide the best and most appropriate care to patients, there are circumstances that may make it necessary to prioritise who to try to save.
New Lockdown
Facing New Outbreaks, China Places Over 22 Million on Lockdown
When a handful of new coronavirus cases materialized this month in a province surrounding Beijing — apparently spread at a village wedding party — the Chinese authorities bolted into action. They locked down two cities with more than 17 million people, Shijiazhuang and Xingtai. They ordered a crash testing regime of nearly every resident there, which was completed in a matter of days. They shut down transportation and canceled weddings, funerals and, most significantly, a provincial Communist Party conference. By this week the lockdowns expanded to include another city on the edge of Beijing, Langfang, as well as a county in Heilongjiang, a northeastern province. Districts in Beijing itself, the Chinese capital, also shut down.
Province In China On Lockdown After Biggest Coronavirus Spike In Months
Eleven million people are under lockdown in Hebei province after a new cluster of coronavirus infections. Since Jan. 2, Hebei has reported more than 600 new positive cases, 544 of which were from the capital city of Shijiazhuang. To identify all potential patients, health officials have completed one round of mass testing of all the city's residents, and a second one is being carried out this week. The province also postponed its annual legislative meeting because of the flare-up. Liaoning province, which has had a small number of new virus cases this month, also postponed its meeting. Hebei provincial authorities have doubled-down on travel restrictions and quarantine measures, hoping to contain the virus ahead of the Lunar New Year next month. Anyone leaving Hebei province must show a negative COVID test done no more than three days prior.
Tunisia to lock down for four days from Thursday
Tunisia will impose a four-day national lockdown from Thursday along with lesser measures lasting until Jan. 24 to combat a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, Health Minister Fouzi Mehdi said on Tuesday. “The situation is very critical and the vaccination will not come before February,” Mehdi said. Other measures will include rotating staffing in state jobs to reduce people in offices and transport, school closures, longer curfew hours and the removal of all chairs from cafes.
As China COVID-19 cases rise, millions more placed under lockdown
China posted its biggest daily jump in COVID cases in more than five months on Wednesday, stepping up containment measures that have seen four cities put under lockdown, as the world’s second biggest economy scrambles to head off a new wave of infections. Most of the new cases were reported near the capital Beijing, but a province in far northeast China also saw a rise in infections, official data showed, amid a resurgence that has seen more than 28 million people placed under home quarantine. While the Chinese city of Wuhan was the initial epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, which first emerged there in late 2019, China had in recent months largely kept COVID-19 at bay.
Chinese province of 37million declares 'emergency' to combat coronavirus as the nation's new COVID-19 epicentre launches a second round of mass-testing amid fresh outbreak
Heilongjiang in northeast China announced to enter an 'emergency state' today The province banned its 37m residents from leaving unless absolutely necessary Shijiazhuang in Hebei ordered 11m people to undergo city-wide testing again The province emerged as China's new epicentre in the latest COVID-19 outbreak China recorded 107 new native cases today, the highest daily tally since last July