"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 9th Jun 2021
Biden Asia chief 'relatively confident' on billion vaccine timing despite India crisis
- President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific policy chief said on Tuesday he was 'relatively confident' a target for the production of a billion vaccine doses for the region by the end of 2022 would be met, despite the COVID-19 crisis in India, where they are due to be made.
- Asked at an event organised by the Center for a New American Security think tank if he expected a delay in the four-nation plan, which was announced at the White House in March with great fanfare, Kurt Campbell said Washington had been in close consultation with India and others involved in the project.
- 'Obviously, this is an extremely difficult period for Indian friends. The United States has tried to stand with Delhi and to bring others, both in the private and public sector, to support them,' he said.
- 'Our discussion with both our partners in the private sector, and also in government, suggest that we are - knock on wood - still on track for 2022.'
- 'I think we're feeling relatively confident as we head in to 2022,' he added, while stressing that across Asia and the world even countries that did well in handling the virus were facing outbreaks due to new strains.
- 'I think we understand, the only way to be effective, to counter this, is through vaccine diplomacy. We're trying to step that up more generally,' he said.
- The so-called Quad grouping of the United States, India, Japan and Australia agreed at a March summit that Indian drugmaker Biological E ltd would produce at least a billion vaccine doses by the end of 2022 that would go to Southeast Asian countries, elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific, and beyond.
- U.S. officials said that under the plan the United States and Japan would help Indian manufacturing of vaccines for U.S. drugmakers Novavax and Johnson & Johnson.
Biden Asia chief 'relatively confident' on billion vaccine timing despite India crisis
President Joe Biden's Indo-Pacific policy chief said on Tuesday he was "relatively confident" a target for the production of a billion vaccine doses for the region by the end of 2022 would be met, despite the COVID-19 crisis in India, where they are due to be made. Asked at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security think tank if he expected a delay in the four-nation plan, which was announced at the White House in March with great fanfare, Kurt Campbell said Washington had been in close consultation with India and others involved in the project.
Japan Will Begin Rolling Out Its Vaccine Passport This Summer
Japan plans to issue Covid-19 vaccination certificates to citizens traveling abroad this summer, Nikkei Asia reported today. The initiative will begin with a paper version of the certificate and roll out later this year with a smartphone solution based on the European Union’s Digital Covid Certificate, which just launched. “Other countries are doing it, so Japan will have to consider it, too,” Taro Kono, the country’s vaccine czar, told the Japanese parliament in late April when announcing the government’s plans for a vaccine verification system. The digital Covid app would make it easier for those vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel internationally by scanning QR codes at airports before boarding flights or when entering the country. Along with vaccine verification, the app will also include results from PCR and antigen tests.
Women falling behind in India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive
Many more men in India have received COVID-19 vaccines than women, government data showed on Tuesday, highlighting gender disparity in the country’s immunisation drive that has also disadvantaged the rural population. India has partly or fully vaccinated about 101 million men, nearly 17% more than women. Men account for 54% of the total number of people inoculated, according to the data. Many federally administered regions, the capital Delhi, and big states such as Uttar Pradesh have seen some of the worst inequities. Only Kerala in the south and Chhattisgarh in central India have vaccinated more women than men.
Indian experts urge faster inoculations ahead of free COVID-19 shots
Indian officials and health experts welcomed a federal government plan to give free COVID-19 shots to all adults as a step in the right direction on Tuesday, but cautioned that vaccinations must be accelerated to prevent new surges in infections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday the federal government would take over the inoculation programme from Indian states and offer free doses to everyone over the age of 18.
Brazil to receive 3 million doses of J&J COVID vaccine - minister
Brazil will receive a first batch of 3 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 in the next few days, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Thursday. Queiroga said export of the vaccines, developed by J&J's Janssen subsidiary, from the United States still requires authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Of course, if the FDA's decision is delayed, these 3 million doses may no longer be useful for us, due to the short time," he said testifying before a Senate commission of inquiry into the Brazilian governments handling of the pandemic.
WHO's Tedros says COVID-19 vaccine inequity creates 'two-track pandemic'
Glaring COVID-19 vaccine inequality has created a "two-track pandemic" with Western countries protected and poorer nations still exposed, World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, renewing pleas for shot donations. "Increasingly, we see a two-track pandemic," Tedros told reporters during a press conference from Geneva. "Six months since the first COVID-19 vaccines were administered, high-income countries have administered almost 44% of the world's doses. Low-income countries have administered just 0.4%. The most frustrating thing about this statistic is that it hasn't changed in months."
Carnival to require first passengers to have COVID-19 vaccines when its cruises restart in July
Carnival Cruise Line will require passengers on its first sailings in July out of Galveston, Texas, to be vaccinated for COVID-19. If the policy remains in effect for Carnival's upcoming sailings out Port Canaveral and other Florida ports, it would put the cruise giant at odds with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The governor opposes the system of requiring so-called "vaccine passports," and has filed legal action against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to the federal agency's requirements for a return to sailing.
New Zealand PM Ardern to take first dose of COVID-19 vaccine next week
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would get her first COVID-19 shot at the end of next week, as the country prepared to receive another 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. "For me, it's been important that I allow those in the most at risk group... to be prioritised," Ardern said in a news conference. "I'm choosing to be vaccinated at this point in order to play my role in demonstrating that I consider it to be absolutely safe and also really critical to keep others safe," she said.
Mastercard Foundation donates $1.3 billion to boost Africa’s coronavirus response
The Mastercard Foundation announced a $1.3 billion donation on Tuesday to boost Africa’s response to the coronavirus, which public health experts hailed as a significant step to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest people. “Ensuring equitable access and delivery of vaccines across Africa is urgent,” Reeta Roy, the foundation’s chief executive, said in a statement. “This initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent.” The funding, which will be distributed over three years in partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to help acquire vaccines for more than 50 million of the continent’s 1.3 billion people, improve its vaccine manufacturing and delivery system, and strengthen public health institutions.
COVID-19: Thousands stuck in queue to book vaccine appointments - and some over-25s told they are 'not eligible'
The NHS website appears to have been hit by a glitch as thousands of 25 to 29-year-olds try to book their vaccine appointments. Many within the new, lowered age range have been told they are "not eligible" for the jab, while others have reported virtual queues of almost 11,000 people. Others have reportedly received a message stating "you are now in a queue, lots of people are trying to book an appointment", without receiving any suggestion of their position or how long they will have to wait.
China to offer COVID-19 vaccine to children as young as 3
China has approved the emergency use of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for those as young as three, the drugmaker confirmed on Tuesday (Jun 8), making it the first country to offer jabs to young children. Since the coronavirus first emerged in central China, Beijing has mostly managed to bring the country's outbreak under control, and has administered more than 777 million vaccine doses after a sluggish start. A spokesperson for Sinovac told AFP its vaccine had been approved for use on children.
Covid vaccines: Unicef asks G7 countries to donate now or risk wasting jabs
Millions of Covid vaccines could be wasted if rich countries send large amounts of leftover doses to poorer nations in one go, Unicef has warned. The charity said there needed to be a steady supply throughout the year because poor countries do not have resources to use them all at once. The UK and others have promised to donate their surplus doses - but they have been asked to give more earlier. Stars including Billie Eilish and David Beckham are backing Unicef's plea. The celebrities have signed a letter to the G7 group of rich countries - including the UK - asking them to donate 20% of their vaccines by August.
Ontario to loosen COVID-19 restrictions starting June 11, ahead of schedule
Ontario will loosen COVID-19 restrictions starting June 11, three days ahead of schedule, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday, as infection rates continue to drift lower after a punishing third wave while vaccinations pick up pace. The province will enter step one of its reopening plan, allowing non-essential retail to operate at 15% capacity, outdoor dining with a maximum of four people per table, and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people to take place. Canada's most populous province entered a lockdown in April as a variant-driven third wave of COVID-19 threatened to overwhelm hospitals
WTO panel considers easing protections on COVID-19 vaccines
Envoys from World Trade Organization member nations are taking up a proposal to ease patents and other intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to help developing countries fight the pandemic, an idea backed by the Biden administration but opposed in other wealthy countries with strong pharmaceutical industries. On the table for a two-day meeting of a WTO panel opening Tuesday is a revised proposal presented by India and South Africa for a temporary IP waiver on coronavirus vaccines. The idea has drawn support from more than 60 countries, which now include the United States and China. Some European Union member states oppose the idea, and the EU on Friday offered an alternative proposal that relies on existing World Trade Organization rules.
Government ‘won’t rule anything out’ amid reports of two-week delay to 21 June lockdown lifting
In England, George Eustice has insisted the government will not “rule anything out” amid reports there could be a two-week delay to the planned easing of all Covid restrictions on 21 June. The cabinet minister’s remarks came after chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, and the chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, gave a “downbeat” assessment of the current state of the pandemic, including transmission rates and concerns about the new Delta variant, according to The Times. On Monday, the UK recorded over 5,600 cases – well up from the recent low of around 1,350 infections a day at the start of May. During the briefing, the experts were said to have expressed reservations about the current timetable for lifting restrictions.
Over one million EU citizens have Covid-19 certificate
More than one million Europeans have received the new EU Covid-19 health certificate being rolled out to unlock travel within the bloc, the European Commission has said. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders announced the figure to the European Parliament ahead of a vote to enshrine the document in law in time for the continent's all-important summer tourism season. It is expected to be passed by a big majority after agreement between MEPs and the European Union's 27 member states on details, with the vote result known early tomorrow.
Brazilian experts fear third wave of Covid-19 as winter approaches with just 11% of people fully vaccinated and Bolsonaro unwilling to impose lockdowns
A fifth of Brazilians have received one vaccine dose - compared to 60% in UK. Country of 212m has returned to business as usual after devastating peak in April Experts fear the lack of adherence to social distancing will fuel a new surge. Bolsonaro is ploughing ahead with plans to host Copa America next month
Now Moderna seeks approval to give its Covid vaccine to children in Europe: US firm follows footsteps of Pfizer and says its jab is up to 100% effective at blocking symptoms in teenagers
Moderna asks EU agency for permission to give jabs to 12 to 17 year olds. It follows the UK's decision to approve the Pfizer jab for over-12s. But experts have warned against vaccinating children ahead of at-risk groups in poorer countries
Pfizer to start large study to test COVID-19 vaccine in children below 12
Pfizer Inc said on Tuesday it will start a large study to test its COVID-19 vaccine in children below 12 and selected a dosing regime for the trial. The study will enroll up to 4,500 children at more than 90 clinical sites in the United States, Finland, Poland and Spain, the company said. Pfizer's vaccine has been authorized for use in children as young as 12 in Europe, the United States and Canada.
‘Black fungus’ new scare in India as second COVID wave ebbs
As a devastating second wave of COVID-19 ebbs with less than 100,000 new cases reported on Tuesday, India is now battling a new scare: Mucormycosis, commonly referred to as “black fungus”, is a rare fungal disease with a high mortality rate. On Monday, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the country had more than 28,000 cases of the fungal infection.
MCRI's BCG vaccine trial joins global race to better understand COVID-19 variants
An Australian-led study will investigate whether it's possible to predict who remains susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 variants after having COVID-19 or receiving a COVID-19-specific vaccine. The study will explore the immune response to COVID-19-specific vaccines in Brazilian healthcare workers to find biomarkers that indicate whether someone will be protected from - or remains at risk of - contracting COVID-19 if exposed to a variant. The research has received philanthropic funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is a sub-study of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute's (MCRI) study assessing if the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine can help protect against COVID-19.
NHS and social care staff burnout at an emergency level - report
NHS and care staff in England are so burnt out that it has become an "emergency" and risks the future of the health service, MPs have warned. A highly critical report said workers were exhausted and overstretched because of staff shortages. It said the problems existed before the pandemic - although coronavirus has worsened the pressures. Doctors' and nursing unions welcomed the report, saying it highlighted the stress and anxiety facing staff. It has already been well documented that the NHS is short of staff.
Red Cross to provide emergency support to thousands in Myanmar
The Myanmar Red Cross has said it was stepping up emergency support to hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the upheaval resulting from the military coup on February 1. The organisation, part of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), estimates about 236,000 people across Myanmar are facing worsening poverty and in urgent need of food relief and cash assistance, it said on Tuesday.
US COVID cases drop another 30% as Africa surge continues
With the introduction of three effective COVID-19 vaccines, daily COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to rapidly decline across the country, and new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that vaccines have been particularly beneficial for older Americans. During a White House briefing today, the last briefing run by COVID-19 pandemic response coordinator Andy Slavitt, who announced he was stepping down from his position today, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said for the second week in a row, daily case averages dropped by 30%, with a 7-day average of 13,277 cases
Coronavirus: The 'unknown' Covid-19 deaths in rural India
The second wave of Covid-19 ravaged India as hospitals and then crematoriums ran out of space. Families struggled to find beds, oxygen or even medicines to save their loved ones. While cities were first hit, the second wave soon reached rural parts of the country. Hundreds died due to poor or no access to good healthcare. Most of them were not even able to get a Covid test done. Now experts believe that the number of deaths in rural India is much higher than official statistics.
Australia's Melbourne eyes way out of COVID-19 lockdown as cases ease
Australia’s Victoria state authorities said plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions in state capital, Melbourne, this week remained “on track” as new locally acquired coronavirus cases declined on Tuesday. Victoria, Australia's second-most-populous state, was plunged into a one-week lockdown on May 27 to contain a virus outbreak, forcing its 7 million residents to remain home except for essential business. The lockdown was extended in Melbourne until June 10, while some restrictions were relaxed in other regions in the state.
Are we on the brink of a third wave of COVID?
Here in the UK, we are waiting patiently for the government to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on June 21, as it has promised to do. UK businesses are urging the government to stick to its promise. The thought of ongoing restrictions is difficult for all of us – every doctor knows the harms that lockdowns bring to their patients. People are clearly feeling increasingly angry about the prospect of a lingering lockdown; there have been large protests against lockdowns in many countries, with fringe groups continuing to claim the virus itself does not exist. When healthcare professionals see these protests and false claims, though, it rubs salt into very recent wounds. We have been working tirelessly and risking our own lives caring for our patients with the virus. Each protest feels like a slap in the face for all the work we have done so far.
Ghosts in the machine: Malicious bots spread COVID untruths
Malicious bots, or automated software that simulates human activity on social media platforms, are the primary drivers of COVID-19 misinformation, spreading myths and seeding public health distrust exponentially faster than human users could, suggests a study published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Led by University of California at San Diego (UCSD) researchers, a team analyzed a sample of roughly 300,000 posts on heavily bot-influenced public Facebook groups to measure how quickly the posts' links were shared. When multiple accounts share links within seconds of each other, it is a sign of bot accounts controlled by a computer program that coordinates their operations. The researchers found that the most heavily bot-influenced Facebook groups shared identical links within, on average, 4.28 seconds, versus 4.35 hours for the least-influenced groups. Heavily influenced groups were considered those that hosted identical links at least five times, with at least half of them posted within 10 seconds.
Coronavirus: When will the UK be fully vaccinated against Covid?
This Tuesday marks exactly six months since 91-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan of Coventry became the first patient in the world to receive a Covid-19 jab outside of a clinical trial when she was given the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the cathedral city’s University Hospital on 8 December 2020. Since then, more than 40 million British adults have had a jab, with health secretary Matt Hancock telling his fellow MPs in Parliament on Monday that the approved Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen vaccines are “working” and serving to “bring us hope”, even as new strains of the original coronavirus, particularly the Delta variant, raise questions about the wisdom of ending the last social restrictions imposed on the public on 21 June.
Thailand begins mass Covid-19 vaccine rollout using shots made by royal-owned company
Thailand began its mass Covid vaccination program Monday, following criticism of delays and concerns over health authorities relying on AstraZeneca shots produced by a company owned by the country's king. The Southeast Asian nation is battling a third coronavirus wave with the highest number of daily cases and deaths reported since the start of the pandemic, raising public concerns of adequate access to vaccines. On Tuesday, Thailand reported 2,662 new Covid-19 cases and 28 deaths, according to its Covid-19 task force (CCSA). Thailand plans to administer 6 million shots in June using the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines