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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 11th Aug 2022

Lockdown Exit
India to start COVID mix-and-match booster vaccines on Friday
India said on Wednesday that Biological E's COVID-19 vaccine Corbevax can be administered as a booster dose in people who have taken the country's other two main shots, Covaxin and AstraZeneca's Covishield, from Friday. Corbevax will be available to over 18s as precautionary booster six months after a second dose, the health ministry said in an Aug. 8 letter to state authorities and shared with reporters on Wednesday.
Covid-19 Northern Ireland: Expert 'optimistic' autumn wave can be avoided
A leading immunology expert believes high Omicron infection rates should protect the general population against an autumn wave of Covid — unless a new variant emerges. Professor of Experimental Immunology, Kingston Mills, has also said it would be a mistake to offer vaccine booster doses before an updated, and more effective vaccine, becomes available in Europe over the coming months. During the most recent study week between July 14–July 20, the Department of Health estimated that 113,400 people in Northern Ireland had Covid-19 — around 1 in 16 people. In the week ending July 29, the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reported 22 Covid-related deaths, taking the total to 4,774 since the pandemic began.
People vaccinated against Covid share common symptom after testing positive
While it may be widely known that common symptoms of Covid include fatigue, a sore throat, and headaches, there is another widespread symptom being cited among sufferers. According to data gathered by the ZOE Health Study app, diarrhoea is a common symptom of Covid for vaccinated Britons. “It usually lasts for an average of two to three days, but can last up to seven days in adults,” the ZOE team said. The data found this symptom has become less prevalent with each variant, as nearly a third of adults aged over 35 reported having diarrhoea during the Alpha wave, while just one in five said they experienced it during the Omicron and Delta waves. The people who experienced it during the latter two waves had been vaccinated either twice or had also received their booster jab.
Commuting in, DIY out: UK’s new ‘new normal’ after end of Covid controls
Britain’s love for green fingers and blackened thumbs during the first Covid lockdown has since evaporated as people again find a “new normal” after the ending of restrictions, a survey suggests. The amount of time people spent gardening and doing DIY soared in March and April 2020, with people spending 40 minutes a day improving their homes and gardens compared with just 15 minutes in 2014-15. But it plummeted back to 20 minutes a day in March 2022, Office for National Statistics data shows. Lockdown lie-ins are also a thing of the past, with people sleeping 30 minutes less than they did in early 2020, while the amount of time people spend watching television and streaming is down by 34 minutes on average.
The US is on a Covid plateau, and no one's sure what will happen next
The United States seems to have hit a Covid-19 plateau, with more than 40,000 people hospitalized and more than 400 deaths a day consistently over the past month or so. It's a dramatic improvement from this winter -- there were four times as many hospitalizations and nearly six times as many deaths at the peak of the first Omicron wave -- but still stubbornly high numbers. And there are big question marks around what might happen next, as the coronavirus' evolution remains quite elusive 2½ years into the pandemic. "We've never really cracked that: why these surges go up and down, how long it stays up and how fast it comes down," said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research. "All these things are still somewhat of a mystery." BA.5 remains the dominant subvariant in the US for now, causing most new cases as it has since the last week of June
Californians are staying infected with the coronavirus for a long time. Here’s why
Health officials recommend that anyone infected with the coronavirus isolate for at least five days. But for many, that timeline is becoming overly optimistic. The isolation period, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened in December from 10 days to five, is more a starting point than a hard-and-fast rule in California. According to the state Department of Public Health, exiting isolation after five days requires a negative result from a rapid test on or after the fifth day following the onset of symptoms or first positive test — a step not included in federal guidelines. But many people don’t start testing negative that early. “If your test turns out to be positive after five days, don’t be upset because the majority of people still test positive until at least Day 7, to Day 10 even,” Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, said during a briefing Thursday. “So that’s the majority. That’s the norm.” The isolation period, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened in December from 10 days to five, is more a starting point than a hard-and-fast rule in California. According to the state Department of Public Health, exiting isolation after five days requires a negative result from a rapid test on or after the fifth day following the onset of symptoms or first positive test — a step not included in federal guidelines.
WHO: COVID-19 deaths fall overall by 9%, infections stable
The number of coronavirus deaths fell by 9% in the last week while new cases remained relatively stable, according to the latest weekly pandemic report released by the World Health Organization Wednesday. The U.N. health agency said there were more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths in the last week and nearly 7 million new infections. The Western Pacific reported a 30% jump in cases while Africa reported a 46% drop. Cases also fell by more than 20% in the Americas and the Middle East. The number of new deaths rose by 19% in the Middle East, while dropping by more than 70% in Africa, 15% in Europe and 10% in the Americas. The WHO said that the omicron subvariant BA.5 remains dominant globally, accounting for nearly 70% of all virus sequences shared with the world's biggest publicly available virus database. The agency said other omicron subvariants, including BA.4 and BA.2, appear to be decreasing in prevalence as BA.5 takes over.
Exit Strategies
China facing increasing pressure in COVID-19 prevention, control: health official
With the resurgence of infections in neighboring countries, China's COVID-19 prevention and control efforts are facing increasing pressure, a health official said Wednesday. Nine provincial-level regions in China have each reported more than 100 COVID-19 cases since August, with over 2,000 infections in Hainan, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission (NHC). The latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sanya, a coastal resort city in south China's Hainan Province, is still evolving at a high level, said Mi.
Australian state to hand out free masks to curb COVID-19 transmission
Authorities of the Australian state of Victoria have announced that free masks will be handed out to the community to curb the COVID-19 transmission. More than 3 million free N95 and KN95 masks would be given to the community through state-run testing sites and community health services across the state the next four to six weeks, said the announcement of the Victorian government on Tuesday. Every person that presents for either a free rapid antigen or PCR test will receive one box of 10 N95 masks, along with instructions on how best to wear them to reduce transmission.
Govt nod to Corbevax as precaution dose for adults vaccinated with Covaxin, Covishield
This means that those who have received Covishield or Covaxin as their first or second dose can take Corbevax as the third booster shot, officials said. According to the protocol until now, the third dose had to be the same vaccine that was used for the first and second doses.
Novavax Rout Deepens to 87% From Peak After Covid-Shot Setbacks
The selloff in Novavax Inc. shares deepened on Tuesday, to erase $17 billion in market value from last year’s record high, after the Covid-19 vaccine maker slashed its revenue guidance. Novavax fell 30% on Tuesday, the most since February 2019, after slashing its guidance and missing second-quarter estimates. The stock has fallen roughly 87% from its February 2021 high amid regulatory delays and questions on demand for a vaccine that trailed competitors in reaching the market.
Germany likely to impose mask mandate if Covid-19 spreads in winter
Germany is likely to introduce an indoor mask mandate if there is a significant increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 in the upcoming autumn and winter months, health ministers said at a meeting, though they differed over possible exemptions. The federal and state health ministers discussed draft legislation aiming to update regulations for dealing with the pandemic, dpa news agency reported. "It is clear that mandatory masks indoors should be the rule in the event of a tense pandemic situation," said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. Last week, Lauterbach and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann presented new coronavirus measures that would go into effect in the autumn.
Pharmacies to get £15 per consultation in pilot to tackle COVID-19 jab fears
Reported COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is “high for some groups in Tower Hamlets” and “significant numbers of residents remain unvaccinated”, the borough’s council revealed in the service specification. As of May 1, just 68% of those eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Tower Hamlets had received a first dose, with 61.7% of that group opting to have a second dose. Just 40.1% of those eligible have had a booster dose. “Evidence clearly indicates that patients value talking directly to a trusted health professional when considering whether or not to have a COVID-19 vaccine,” Tower Hamlets Council acknowledged. “Community pharmacists in Tower Hamlets are well placed to provide that support”.
COVID-19 Experts Urge Australians to Wear Masks Even as Latest Omicron Wave Passes
Australian health officials say there are encouraging signs that a wave of COVID-19 omicron variant infections is in decline. However, more than 4,000 Australians are hospitalized with the virus and an unknown number of others are suffering the effects of long COVID. COVID-19 no longer makes the headlines as it once did in Australia. Strict public health measures, including lockdowns, curfews, mask mandates and international border closures that were imposed during the pandemic have come to an end. The country is doing its best to live with the virus.
Coronavirus: Hong Kong firms, schools urged to provide separate eating spaces for ‘amber code’ holders under eased quarantine rules
Health secretary says restaurant staff can discuss arrangements with bosses while education chief notes schools have basic pandemic guidelines to follow. Respiratory medicine expert warns that allowing those with amber codes into crowded venues may increase the chance of a superspreader event.
Partisan Exits
Cathay Pacific narrows loss but COVID rules on crew cloud outlook
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said Hong Kong's strict COVID rules for air crew were crimping the airline's ability to exploit rising demand for travel, even as its first-half loss narrowed to HK$5 billion ($636.98 million). The carrier is falling behind traditional rival Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA) in restoring international capacity as roster preparations are complicated by a quarantine requirement for Hong Kong-based crew of passenger planes to spend three nights in hotels on their return from each trip. The financial hub is also one of a few places in the world, along with mainland China and Taiwan, to still require COVID-19 quarantine for arriving passengers, though such hotel stays are to be cut to three days from seven, officials said this week.
Pharmacies, GPs at odds over antivirals
A push to allow access to COVID-19 treatments without a prescription could jeopardise patient safety, the general practitioners body warns. There are two oral antivirals available in Australia, and while early treatment is critical to lessen the effects of the virus, access is restricted. All Australians over 70 and those over 50 at risk of severe disease from COVID-19 are eligible to access the treatments, with patients requiring a prescription from a GP or a nurse practitioner.
Scientific Viewpoint
UK health data collaboration paves the way to study long Covid symptoms
If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that healthcare challenges transcend nations. As research teams across the world rapidly sought ways to collaborate and share information on Covid-19, a spotlight was shone on the importance of data in understanding viruses, diseases and other issues that affect people’s health and wellbeing. This complex, cooperative work allowed our colleagues to develop effective vaccines in record time, giving people the confidence to attend large events such as the Commonwealth Games that took place in Birmingham.
Queensland researchers find overlap in pathology of long COVID and chronic fatigue syndrome
Griffith University researchers say their findings could help to treat those suffering from long COVID. A woman with chronic fatigue syndrome says she suffered a relapse in symptoms after contracting COVID earlier this year. AMA Queensland says the findings should be independently verified and that more funding for such research should be made available
Vaccines are now approved for children aged six months to five years, but what about newborn babies?
COVID-19 vaccines are now approved for children aged from six months up to five years of age, and are already being rolled out to about 70,000 at-risk youngsters. But what about babies even younger than that? Will there be a vaccine for them? And what role does the vaccination of pregnant people play in the process? Children of all ages can get COVID-19 and experience its complications. However, as noted by an infectious diseases physician at Monash and Melbourne universities, Michelle Giles, young infants aren't at risk of the severe disease that has been seen with older Australians.
Vaccine and drug development boosted by new CSIRO lab
Australia’s national science agency will open the doors of a new $23.1 million national vaccine and drug laboratory in Melbourne on Thursday, after six years of planning and delays. The CSIRO National Vaccine and Therapeutics Lab, based in the south-eastern Melbourne suburb of Clayton, is designed to help turn vaccine and drug candidates into products that can be manufactured onshore in large quantities for clinical trials and will be available for use by companies and researchers around the country.
Science Is Still in a Race Against the Coronavirus
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a lesson in speed — the speed at which a novel virus among humans can spread, the speed at which it can rack up fatalities and cripple economies, the speed at which vaccines can be designed and produced, the speed at which misinformation can undermine public health. Amid all that rapidity is a different kind of speed, which drives the rest, like an engine spinning the cars on a nauseating carnival ride: the speed of viral evolution. The coronavirus, like many other viruses of its ilk (RNA viruses with highly changeable genomes), evolves fast. It has adapted quickly to us. Now arises the crucial question of whether humans and human ingenuity can adapt faster. Unless the answer is yes, we face a long, doleful future of continued suffering.
Pfizer readies 'robust' manufacturing capabilities to deliver 2 COVID-19 variant vaccines
Pfizer is planning to deliver COVID-19 vaccines against two sets of omicron subvariants in the autumn in the belief its “robust manufacturing capabilities” are up to the task.
MIT researchers develop an easy-to-use test to predict Covid-19 immunity
Most people in the United States have some degree of immune protection against Covid-19, either from vaccination, infection, or a combination of the two. But, just how much protection does any individual person have? MIT researchers have now developed an easy-to-use test that may be able to answer that question. Their test, which uses the same type of "lateral flow" technology as most rapid antigen tests for Covid-19, measures the level of neutralizing antibodies that target the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a blood sample. Easy access to this kind of test could help people determine what kind of precautions they should take against Covid infection, such as getting an additional booster shot, the researchers say. They have filed for a patent on the technology and are now hoping to partner with a diagnostic company that could manufacture the devices and seek FDA approval.
Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy
Pregnancy is an independent risk factor for severe covid-19. Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and limit its morbidity and mortality. The current recommendations from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and professional organizations are for pregnant, postpartum, and lactating women to receive covid-19 vaccination. Pregnancy specific considerations involve potential effects of vaccination on fetal development, placental transfer of antibodies, and safety of maternal vaccination. Although pregnancy was an exclusion criterion in initial clinical trials of covid-19 vaccines, observational data have been rapidly accumulating and thus far confirm that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the potential risks. This review examines the evidence supporting the effectiveness, immunogenicity, placental transfer, side effects, and perinatal outcomes of maternal covid-19 vaccination. Additionally, it describes factors associated with vaccine hesitancy in pregnancy. Overall, studies monitoring people who have received covid-19 vaccines during pregnancy have not identified any pregnancy specific safety concerns. Additional information on non-mRNA vaccines, vaccination early in pregnancy, and longer term outcomes in infants are needed. To collect this information, vaccination during pregnancy must be prioritized in vaccine research.
Novavax tumbles 30% as waning COVID-19 vaccine demand hits outlook
Shares of U.S. vaccine maker Novavax fell about 30% on Tuesday after it cut its annual revenue forecast by half over falling demand for its COVID-19 shot from low- and middle-income nations. Demand for its vaccine is also waning in the United States, where it was authorized for use among adults last month and was expected to be preferred by the skeptics of messenger RNA-based shots from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc
S.Africa's Aspen to halt COVID vaccine output as J&J orders dry up
South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare will stop making COVID-19 vaccines from the end of this month due to a lack of orders, a senior executive said, further undermining Africa's already meager capacity to produce doses. Aspen currently produces vaccines for Johnson & Johnson. In March, it struck a deal to produce, price, and sell its own-brand version of the shot for African markets.
Long-COVID treatments: why the world is still waiting
Bhasha Mewar has had it with doctors. Over the past two years, Mewar has spent nearly all of her life savings seeing heart and respiratory specialists, haematologists, urologists, dermatologists and more, in a desperate bid to tame her long-COVID symptoms. She has taken a slew of drugs: beta blockers to calm her racing heart, steroid inhalers to ease her laboured breathing and an antimalarial drug prescribed to her for reasons she never fully understood. And when Mewar — a curator at an art museum in Ahmedabad, India, who has been sick since what was probably a bout of COVID-19 in March 2020 — would visit her lung doctor twice a month, he always told her the same thing: you need to exercise. “I can’t even walk to the bathroom,” she would reply.
Covid symptoms sufferers still have four months after catching virus revealed
Covid sufferers are still reporting common symptoms an average of four months after having caught the virus, a new study has found. Two hundred patients enrolled in the Covid-19 Neurological and Molecular Prospective Cohort Study in Georgia, or CONGA, to investigate the longer term impacts of the illness. Fatigue and headache were the two symptoms most participants reported having some four months after first testing positive. Muscle aches, cough, changes in smell and taste, fever, chills and nasal congestion were the next most frequently cited symptoms.
Immunity for common cold coronaviruses may ward off severe covid-19
People with a stronger immune response to the coronaviruses that cause common cold-like symptoms may be better protected against covid-19, raising hopes that a pan-coronavirus vaccine could be achieved. Ricardo da Silva Antunes at La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California and his colleagues analysed blood samples collected from 32 people between 2016 and 2019, before covid-19 emerged. Multiple samples were taken from each person over six months to three years. The team wanted to see how the immune cells in these samples responded to four coronaviruses that cause common cold-like symptoms as well as the original SARS-CoV-2 strain, which emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.
Bat coronaviruses silently infect tens of thousands of people each year, posing pandemic risk, study warns
There may be an average of over 65,000 cases of bat coronaviruses silently infecting people every year in Southeast Asia, according to a new study that could lead to new tools for improving preparedness against future pandemics. The flying mammals are known to host coronaviruses that may be transmitted to people, including SARS-related coronaviruses. Previous studies have suggested that transmission of these viruses to humans may be relatively common in some parts of the world. However, human-bat interactions are also known to vary across regions, influenced by a variety of social, ecological, and economic factors at individual and community scales. The research, published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used a new framework to estimate and map the risk of potential SARS-related coronaviruses spreading from bats to humans in Southeast Asia.
Study: Pfizer COVID vaccine efficacy wanes 27 days after dose 2 in teens
Article reports that a new study finds waning Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine protection against symptomatic infection in Brazilian and Scottish teens starting 27 days after the second dose amid the Delta and Omicron variant waves, but protection against severe illness was still strong at 98 days in Brazil. The study, published yesterday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, analyzed nationwide data from 503,776 COVID-19 tests of 2,948,538 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years from Sep 2, 2021, to Apr 19, 2022, in Brazil, and 127,168 tests of 404,673 adolescents from Aug 6, 2021, to Apr 19, 2022, in Scotland. Protection against severe illness, defined as hospitalization or death within 28 days, was estimated only in Brazil owing to the small number of such cases in Scotland.
Covid-19: What we know about the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants
The number of covid patients admitted to hospital rose steadily from around 550 a day at the end of May to more than 2200 in the second week of July. However, this has since begun to drop, to around 1700 in late July. Daily deaths with covid-19 recorded on the death certificate also rose from the beginning of June, from around 30 to a high of 134 in mid-July. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on 22 July that cases, deaths, and hospital admissions were all rising, fuelled by BA.5, which accounted for an estimated 78% of cases. The seven day daily average of new hospital admissions was 6180 (13-19 July), a 4.7% increase from the previous week (5902).5 It has since started to drop. In China, reports suggest that the country is bracing for yet more lockdowns as the omicron subvariants continue to spread
Coronavirus Resurgence
At 852, Covid cases in Mumbai spike by 79% in 24 hours
Mumbai on Wednesday reported 852 Covid-19 cases, the highest daily rise after July 1, and a single fatality, taking the tally to 11,29,285 and the toll to 19,661, the city civic body said. On July 1, the Metropolis reported 978 cases and two fatalities, before the daily number of cases started dipping gradually. Barring the first two days of this month, Mumbai has been reporting more than 400 coronavirus infections every day. The spike in the number of cases in the past 24 hours is nearly 79 per cent or 376 more compared to 476 infections reported on Tuesday.
Covid-19: Delhi sees 2,146 new cases, 8 fatalities
The national capital saw 1,372 infections and six deaths on Sunday as the case positivity rate rose to 17.85 per cent, the highest since January 21, it said. On Tuesday, Delhi had reported 2,495 new coronavirus cases with a positivity rate of 15.41 per cent and seven fatalities.
China reports 1094 new COVID cases for Aug 9 vs 939 day earlier
Mainland China reported 1,094 new coronavirus cases for Aug. 9, of which 444 were symptomatic and 650 were asymptomatic, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday. That compared with 939 new cases a day earlier, made up of 399 symptomatic and 540 asymptomatic infections. China counts the symptomatic and asymptomatic cases separately. There were no new deaths, keeping the nation's fatalities at 5,226. As of Aug. 9, mainland China had confirmed 232,109 cases with symptoms.
More Transmissible Omicron Sub-Variant Detected In Delhi
A new sub-variant of the coronavirus strain Omicron has been detected in samples sent for genome sequencing in Delhi's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, a top medical officer of the hospital said. The Omicron sub-variant BA 2.75 has been detected in many samples, LNJP Hospital Medical Director Dr Suresh Kumar told NDTV. The sub-variant has been found amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and positivity rate, or cases per 100 tests, in the national capital. The number of people getting admitted to the hospital is also rising, the Medical Director said. This Omicron variant is spreading faster and likely escaping immunity from previous infection and vaccination, Dr Kumar said. "Omicron's sub-variant BA 2.75 has been found in the report. It has more transmission rate. This has emerged in the study report of 90 samples sent for genome sequencing. This new sub-variant also attacks people already having antibodies and also those who have taken vaccines," Dr Kumar said, news agency PTI reported.
New Lockdown
China battles Covid outbreaks in tourism hubs of Tibet and Hainan
China is racing to stamp out Covid-19 outbreaks in the tourist hubs of Tibet and Hainan, with the authorities launching more rounds of mass testing and closing venues to contain the highly transmissible Omicron variant as Beijing presses ahead with its Covid zero strategy. Mainland China reported 828 new domestically transmitted cases across more than a dozen provinces and regions for 8 August, with more than half of them in Hainan, a highly popular tourist destination, official data showed on Tuesday. Tibet, which until now had reported only one symptomatic case since the pandemic started more than two years ago, has also reported cases.