"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 26th May 2021
Social media heavyweights wooed for Pfizer smear campaign
- Social media influencers in France with hundreds of thousands of followers say a mysterious advertising agency offered to pay them if they agreed to smear Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine with negative fake stories.
- French YouTuber Leo Grasset was among those contacted. He said Tuesday that he was offered a potentially lucrative but also hush-hush deal to make bogus claims that Pfizer's vaccine poses a deadly risk and that regulators and mainstream media are covering up the supposed dangers.
- Grasset, who has 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube, says he refused, Other France-based influencers with sizable audiences on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms also said they were contacted with similar offers of payment for posts.
- The person who contacted Grasset identified himself as Anton and said his agency has a 'quite considerable' budget for what he descrbed as an information campaign about COVID-19 and the vaccines offered to the European population, notably AstraZeneca an Pfizer.
- Specifically, Anton was asked to produce a 45-to-60 second video on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube to say 'the mortality rate of the Pfizer vaccine is 3 times greater than the AstraZeneca' and query why the European Union is buying it.
- 'This is a monopoly and is causing harm to public health,' Anton was to claim of the EU purchases. He refused in a follow-up email to divulge who is financing the disinformation campaign saying: 'The client prefers to remain incognito.' Grasset shared the email exchange with The Associated Press.
Social media heavyweights wooed for Pfizer smear campaign
Social media influencers in France with hundreds of thousands of followers say a mysterious advertising agency offered to pay them if they agreed to smear Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine with negative fake stories
U.S. FDA may not review new COVID-19 vaccine EUA requests during pandemic
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it may decline to review and process new emergency use authorization (EUA) requests for COVID-19 vaccines for the rest of the pandemic, if a company has not already begun discussions. So far, vaccines from Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson have been authorized for emergency use in the United States.
America’s largest school systems announce full-time return to in-person learning this fall
The two largest school systems in the United States will fully reopen for in-person learning this fall, officials announced Monday, a major step in the country’s pandemic recovery. The public school districts in New York City and Los Angeles — which together educate more than 1.6 million students — became the latest to announce their planned transitions away from virtual learning, which will also allow parents who have been supervising their children’s online classes to go back to work. New York City will eliminate its remote-learning option and all students and adults will have to wear masks, unless guidance from federal health officials changes. In Los Angeles, school district leaders said they expect most students, teachers and staff to be present every day, but an online option will be available.
Explainer: What is 'black fungus' that is hitting India's COVID-19 patients?
A rapid rise in cases of mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, has added to the challenges faced by India's healthcare system as it deals with a massive second wave of COVID-19 infections. Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that causes blackening or discoloration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood. The disease has a close link to diabetes, and conditions which compromise the immune system. Experts have said that an overuse during the COVID-19 pandemic of certain drugs which suppress the immune system could be causing the surge.
Covid-19: Rich countries are putting “relationships with big pharma” ahead of ending pandemic, says Oxfam
Some rich countries are “continuing to put their relationships with big pharma ahead of ending this pandemic,” Oxfam’s health policy adviser has said in response to commitments made by G20 leaders at the Global Health Summit. Anna Marriott described the action agreed at the end of the summit, which was co-hosted by the European Commission and Italy on 21 May, as the equivalent of throwing a bucket of water on a forest fire. World leaders at the summit reaffirmed their support for the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, launched by the World Health Organization just over a year ago to accelerate the development of tests, treatments, and vaccines and to ensure their equitable distribution. However, a year on—and as the global death toll from the virus surpasses three million—there is still a funding gap of $18.5bn (£13.1bn; €15.1bn) for the accelerator. Covax, the initiative that distributes vaccines to low income countries, also has little stock.
Hong Kong could soon throw away millions of unused vaccine doses
Hong Kong may soon have to throw away millions of coronavirus vaccine doses because they are approaching their expiry date and not enough people have signed up for the jabs, an official has warned. Hong Kong is one of the few places in the world fortunate enough to have secured more than enough doses to inoculate its entire population of 7.5 million people. But swirling distrust of the government as it stamps out dissent – combined with online misinformation and a lack of urgency in the comparatively virus-free city – has led to entrenched vaccine hesitancy and a dismal inoculation drive.
Coronavirus: Vaccine roll-out faces turmoil
After making steady progress in recent weeks, Cyprus’ vaccination roll-out faces turmoil as health officials move to shore up public confidence pending clarification over whether the death of a woman from a thrombotic episode was linked to the AstraZeneca jab. The health ministry has said there is no evidence so far that the vaccine was to blame for the death and reiterated the importance of vaccines to prevent a fourth coronavirus surge. It has taken pride in the fact that Cyprus has managed to administer at least one jab to close to 50 per cent of the population, attributing the much-improved epidemiological situation to the roll-out. However, the woman’s death has prompted concern and confusion, compounded by the fact that different countries in the EU implement different age criteria for the specific vaccine.
Schools try pep-rally tactics to get students vaccinated
A growing number of public schools are using mascots, food trucks and prize giveaways to create a pep-rally atmosphere aimed at encouraging students to get vaccinated against the coronavirus before summer vacation. Districts from California to Michigan are offering free prom tickets and deploying mobile vaccination teams to schools to inoculate students 12 and up so everyone can return to classrooms in the fall. They are also enlisting students who have gotten shots to press their friends to do the same. Officials are concerned that once school lets out, it will be even tougher to get enough teens vaccinated in time to guarantee widespread immunity on campuses.
Spain to receive 94 mln Pfizer vaccine doses from December under EU deal
Spain will receive nearly 94 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech between December 2021 and June 2023 as part of a European Union purchase, the government spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Maria Jesus Montero said the total was equivalent to twice the target population in Spain, where around 8.1 million people have already received a full course of vaccines.
Mexico’s long delay of vaccines for Latin America nears end
Mexico’s top diplomat said Tuesday that shipments of a long-delayed lot of AstraZeneca vaccines will finally be sent to Argentina this weekend. Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said about 800,000 doses will be flown to Argentina. Mexico will get a similar amount, and he expressed hopes that later shipments can be sent to other Latin American countries. The effort to fill and finish the vaccines at a Mexican plant took almost three months longer than originally expected. Ebrard acknowledged Tuesday it had been “a long, complex, hazardous process,” adding “we now finally, at last have this vaccine available.”
White House encourages COVID-19 vaccine incentives
Today Andy Slavitt, the White House senior advisor for COVID-19 response, said during a White House press briefing on the pandemic that he was inspired by Ohio's "Vax-A-Million" lottery, which will award $1 million to a person each week for 5 weeks, with winners drawn at random with proof of vaccination. Slavitt said since the program was announced by Gov. Mike DeWine, the state has seen a 55% increase in 20- to 49-year-olds getting vaccinated, and in several counties rates of vaccination have doubled. "In other words, this program is working," Slavitt said. Maryland, New York, and Oregon have announced similar programs, and Slavitt said the Biden administration, via the American Rescue Plan, is encouraging states to get creative in offering cash incentives, lottery winnings, or other prizes as a way to draw attention to the vaccine.
WHA to hold pandemic treaty talks in November
Country delegates at the World Health Assembly (WHA) today came to a consensus on holding a special session in November to consider an international treaty on pandemic preparedness, with the goal of shoring up political commitment in the battle against infectious disease outbreaks. In other global developments, US officials issued new warnings that recommend against travel to Japan as it grapples with a COVID-19 surge ahead of the Olympics, and India's daily case total dropped to its lowest level in 6 weeks.
More than 77,000 NHS staff in England have caught Covid, shows research
At least 77,000 hospital staff in England caught coronavirus during the pandemic, while there were nearly a quarter of a million absences for Covid-related reasons, Guardian research has revealed. However, the true totals are likely to be much higher, because out of the 142 acute and specialist trusts in England sent freedom of information requests, only 55% (78) provided figures on staff who were infected, while 60% (85) gave data on time off for sick leave related to the virus. The responses, which cover the year following 1 March 2020, offer the first official data on Covid’s impact on frontline workers who risked their own health while caring for the more than 400,000 patients who have ended up seriously ill in hospital.
Covid-19: Are high rates of B.1.617.2 linked to vaccine hesitancy?
Last week England’s health and social care secretary, Matt Hancock, linked high rates of infection and hospital admissions of people with the B.1.617.2 variant of covid-19 first identified in India to vaccine hesitancy. Giving an update to the House of Commons on 17 May Hancock said that most of the 19 people admitted to hospital with the variant in the hotspot area of Bolton, Greater Manchester, were eligible for a covid-19 vaccine but had not had it. Hancock said, “In Bolton, 19 people are now in hospital with coronavirus, the majority of whom are eligible for a vaccine but have not yet had one. That shows that the new variant is not tending to penetrate into older vaccinated groups and underlines again the importance of getting the jab—especially, but not only, among the vulnerable age groups.” He added, “The majority of people in [the Royal Bolton hospital with coronavirus were eligible for the jab but had chosen not yet to have it and have ended up in hospital—some of them in intensive care. Vaccines save lives. They protect you, they protect your loved ones, and they will help us all get out of this pandemic.” Was Hancock right to frame the situation in this way?
In NYC’s furthest flung neighborhood, vaccine a tough sell
If there’s one place where people could fear the coronavirus more than a vaccination needle, it’s the Far Rockaway section of Queens: Nearly 460 residents of the seaside neighborhood have died of COVID-19. That’s one out of every 146 people who live there, making for one of New York City’s highest death rates. And yet, no other place in the city has a lower percentage of vaccinated people. As of Monday, only 29% of people living Far Rockaway’s ZIP code, 11691, had received even one vaccine dose, according to data from the New York City Health Department. That compares to a rate of 49% citywide and nationally. The situation in the community of around 67,000 people illustrates the challenges facing health officials in many places as they try to overcome hesitancy fueled by mistrust, misinformation and fear.
UK accused of reintroducing virus restrictions on the sly
The British government faced accusations Tuesday that it was reintroducing local lockdowns on the sly after it published new guidelines for eight areas of England that it says are hot spots for the coronavirus variant first identified in India. Lawmakers and local public health officials expressed shock that they hadn’t been made aware of the changes to the guidelines to travel and social interaction that the Conservative government published online last Friday. They also said the guidelines weren’t mandatory and that the mixed messaging could undermine efforts to keep a lid on the virus by creating unnecessary confusion. In last week’s updated guidance, the government recommended that people within eight localities, including Hounslow in west London, the city of Leicester and the northwest towns of Blackburn and Bolton, shouldn’t meet up indoors or travel outside their areas unless it is for an essential matter, such as going to work.
Des youtubeurs français incités à dénigrer le vaccin contre le Covid-19 de Pfizer-BioNTech
French Health Minister Olivier Veran called a marketing campaign that targeted the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine 'pathetic, irresponsible and dangerous'. French Youtubers had been approached by a communications agency with a view to producing videos spreading false information about the covid vaccines. The agency offered famous French Youtuber 'Dirtybiology' a massive budget to 'pull apart' the Pfizer vaccine for an anonymous client. Two other video content makers received similar offers.
UK's COVID 'Disaster' to Be Laid Bare by PM Johnson's Ex-Chief Adviser
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former chief adviser will on Wednesday cast his former boss as a dithering leader surrounded by fools whose ineptitude led to a "disastrous" response to the most devastating global pandemic in decades. With almost 128,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth worst official COVID toll, and Johnson was slow to appreciate the significance of the threat from the virus in early 2020 as it spread from China towards Britain's shores. Dominic Cummings, the strategist behind the 2016 Brexit campaign and Johnson's landslide election win in 2019, will be quizzed by British lawmakers from 0830 GMT on the lessons that can be learned from the pandemic. Cummings, who left the government late last year, has said the British health ministry was a "smoking ruin", that Western governments failed during the crisis, and that the secretive British state was woefully unprepared for the pandemic.
Vietnam expands lockdown measures as infections hit record
Vietnam widened lockdown measures in its industrialised north on Tuesday to combat its biggest COVID-19 outbreak so far, as authorities reported a daily record in new cases that was more than double the previous high. The health ministry announced 457 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, the biggest jump since the 190 cases seen on May 16, driven by clusters in factory zones in two northern provinces. Bac Ninh, home to production facilities of Samsung Electronics, started a curfew and other travel restrictions from Tuesday, state media reported. That followed the temporary closure of four industrial parks, including three with Foxconn facilities, by authorities in neighbouring Bac Giang province.
In India, Drugs for COVID Are Being Tested, Approved in Ways That Should Worry Us
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, researchers around the world have evaluated scores of drugs and therapeutic techniques for the disease. Even according to the Clinical Trial Registry of India (CTRI), researchers in the country are testing everything from inhaled camphor and ajwain to Viagra. This may be desperation, given the brutality of India’s second COVID-19 outbreak. It is also worthwhile in more ways than one to repurpose existing drugs to treat COVID-19. However, in most cases, a substantial profit motive isn’t too far away. Together with India’s opaque drug regulation apparatus and its propensity to approve substances on little to no evidence – especially during the pandemic itself – these clinical trials warrant a closer look.
Pfizer in talks with India for COVID-19 vaccine supplies
Pfizer is in talks with the Indian government over supplies of its COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. drugmaker said on Tuesday, as New Delhi scrambles to bridge shortfalls, having pledged to fast-track approvals for overseas vaccines. "Pfizer remains committed to continuing our engagement with the government of India towards making the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine available for use in the country," a spokeswoman told Reuters in an e-mailed statement. Last week, Reuters reported Pfizer was in talks with the government to defuse tension over supplies.
Moderna says its Covid-19 vaccine is safe and appears effective in adolescents
Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine is safe and appears to be effective in adolescents, the company said Tuesday. In a Phase 2/3 trial of 3,732 children ages 12 to 17 in the United States, blood tests showed that the vaccine produced an immune response that was equivalent to earlier findings in adults. The trial wasn't designed to look specifically at efficacy. However, initial observations found that none of the children who received the vaccine got sick with Covid-19 starting 14 days after their second dose. Four of the children who received the placebo tested positive for Covid-19, which Moderna says is "consistent with a vaccine efficacy of 100%."
When Will We Have a Flu/COVID-19 Vaccine Combo?
Novavax was one of the top stocks in the entire stock market in 2020, running up from $4 a share on Jan. 2 all the way to $119 a share by Dec. 31. It had this magnificent run as Wall Street became more and more convinced that the company's COVID-19 vaccine would make a lot of money. And while Novavax's vaccine still hasn't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many investors remain bullish that it will be soon. The stock market, however, is a forward-looking mechanism. So what's in the pipeline? Novavax also has a flu vaccine with great phase 3 data. Investors are expecting that drug to also win FDA approval. But what's tantalizing for long-term shareholders are the company's plans for vaccination over the next decade. In this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on May 14, Corinne Cardina, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief at Fool.com, and Motley Fool writer Taylor Carmichael discuss the prospects for a COVID-19/Flu combo shot.
Pfizer begins testing use of pneumococcal vaccine along with COVID-19 booster shot
Pfizer Inc said on Monday it began testing fully vaccinated adults over 65 in a new study that uses the company's 20-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (20vPnC) candidate with a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot. The aim of the study is to understand if the combination of the vaccines is safe, and the immune response after adding the pneumonia vaccine to the existing COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer said.
Nanoparticle based shot could boost efficacy, accelerate production of seasonal flu vaccines
Seasonal flu vaccines typically work 40-60% of the time, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An experimental recombinant protein nanoparticle vaccine that stimulates a strong immune response is hoping to address that inefficiency.
Op-Ed: The Jury Is Out on COVID Boosters — Scientific evidence, not vaccine makers, must drive vaccine decisions
Vaccine makers have suggested that we will need boosters and the Biden administration is reportedly working to ensure they will be available if necessary. And although it is absolutely right to prepare for the possibility that we may need boosters, in reality, we don't yet know if we'll need them and, if so, when. It appears that COVID-19 vaccines licensed in the U.S. provide excellent protection against mild and severe disease and against hospitalization and death, and the protection offered by both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines reportedly lasts for many months.
Pfizer-funded vaccine research centre launches in Bristol
A centre of excellence for studying vaccine-preventable diseases has been launched in Bristol. The centre is funded by coronavirus vaccine manufacturer Pfizer and is the second of a global network of sites to launch, and the first outside the US. The Pfizer Centre of Excellence for Epidemiology of Vaccine-preventable Diseases, based at the University of Bristol, will undertake research to support the design, development and use of next-generation vaccines. The pharmaceutical company said it had invested an initial £4.6m into the centre to conduct surveillance studies in hospitals and the community to “identify and measure the burden of specific vaccine-preventable infectious diseases affecting adults, including the elderly, as well as children”. The centre will be led by Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the university as well as director of the Bristol Vaccine Centre and lead at Bristol UNCOVER (Bristol Covid Emergency Research Group). UK Government Health Secretary Matt Hancock visited the centre’s research laboratories on Tuesday to meet virologists Dr Andrew Davidson and Dr David Matthews.
Moderna says its Covid-19 shot works in kids as young as 12
Moderna said Tuesday its COVID-19 vaccine strongly protects kids as young as 12, a step that could put the shot on track to become the second option for that age group in the U.S. With global vaccine supplies still tight, much of the world is struggling to vaccinate adults in the quest to end the pandemic. But earlier this month, the U.S. and Canada authorized another vaccine — the shot made by Pfizer and BioNTech — to be used starting at age 12. Moderna aims to be next in line, saying it will submit its teen data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other global regulators early next month
Moderna COVID vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 12-17
The modelna vaccine is 93% effective against COVID-19 in children aged 12 to 17 years after the first dose and 100% effective 2 weeks after the second dose, among vaccinated participants. No cases have been reported. In addition, data from the company’s Phase 2/3 clinical trial released Tuesday showed no significant safety concerns. According to the company, more than 3,700 adolescents participated in the study, two-thirds vaccinated and one-third vaccinated with placebo.
Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine aces trial in teens, teeing up back-to-school FDA approval
Teens across the U.S. started getting COVID-19 vaccines this month after Pfizer’s shot. With new data released Tuesday, Moderna’s shot could soon be available to kids, too. In a phase 3 trial in kids ages 12 to 18, Moderna’s vaccine posted 100% efficacy after two doses. Investigators enrolled 3,700 participants and randomly assigned two-thirds to receive two doses of the Moderna vaccine. The remaining third received two doses of placebo.
One of two Americans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine - CDC
Nearly one out of two Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday, while half the citizens above the age of 18 in the country have been fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency said 164,378,258 people, or 49.5% of the total U.S. population, had received at least one dose, while 131,078,608 people, or 50% of the adult population, in the country are fully vaccinated.
Masks, social restrictions return to Australia's Melbourne after fresh outbreak
Australia’s second largest city Melbourne reinstated COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday as authorities scrambled to find the missing link in a fresh outbreak, prompting New Zealand to pause a “travel bubble” with the state of Victoria. Amid worries the cluster, which has grown to nine cases in two days, could spark a major outbreak, Victoria imposed social restrictions and made face masks mandatory in hotels, restaurants, and other indoor venues from 6 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Tuesday until June 4.
Anger simmers in Malaysia as COVID-19 surge strains healthcare system
Five medical workers in white protective gear battle to resuscitate a coronavirus patient in a quarantine centre on the edge of the Malaysian capital, but eventually fail. The struggle, caught in a minute-long video clip on social media, exemplifies for many Malaysians their government's latest misstep in its efforts to combat the pandemic, as daily infections and deaths hit a record high in the past week. "Our boat is sinking. The captain is out of touch," one Twitter user commented on last weekend's video that used the hashtag #KerajaanGagal, or 'failed government', which has been employed for weeks by Malaysians to voice their anger.
U.S. reports lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in nearly a year
The United States last week reported the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in nearly a year, with new infections dropping 26% from the previous seven days to just under 180,000, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data. Deaths from COVID-19 fell 5% to 3,969 in the week ended May 23, the fewest deaths in a week since March 2020.
Covid-19 hospital admissions 'triple' in Indian variant hotspot
Covid-19 hospitalisations have reportedly tripled in an Indian variant hotspot within the last three weeks. Hospital admissions have TRIPLED in Bolton within 21 days. 43 Covid patients have been hospitalised and are in the town’s NHS trust. On May 10, that figure was 12. Yesterday, business owners in the town blamed families failing to self isolate on returning from India for the rise. Mohammed Khan, owner of a travel agency in the Greater Manchester town, told MailOnline : "It’s very selfish. "People just think about themselves and their own pleasure.
Brazil nears 450000 COVID-19 deaths, says Health Ministry
Brazil's Healthy Ministry on Monday registered 790 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours and 37,498 new cases of coronavirus. The country has confirmed 449,858 deaths from the virus out of more than 16 million confirmed cases since the pandemic began, according to ministry data.
US warns against travel to Japan as country grapples COVID surge
The United States has warned its citizens not to travel to Japan, blaming the growing risk of COVID-19 just two months before the long-delayed Tokyo Olympics are due to open. Japan has avoided the large-scale outbreaks suffered by many other nations, but a fourth wave has led to states of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and eight other regions across the nation of 125 million people.
World’s most vaccinated country still struggles with high Covid case rate
The world's most vaccinated country is still struggling with a huge Covid case rate. More than 93 per cent of the Seychelles population have had their first vaccine dose, and 82 per cent have had both, The Telegraph reported. However, its seven day case rate remains 1,624 per 100,000. For comparison, the UK's seven day case rate is 23.2 as of May 19. This means that the Seychelles remains on the UK’s red list. The island's economy relies heavily on tourism. In 2019, nearly 400,00 people visited the island, four times more than its population of 97,625. Despite the current high case rate, the island had been largely spared the ravages of the pandemic, with just 35 deaths recorded. The current high case rate has been attributed to people letting their guard down over Easter, according to the country's tourism board.
Canada virus hotspot Manitoba flies patients out as infections surge
Canada's latest COVID-19 hotspot of Manitoba said on Tuesday it was planning to fly additional critically ill patients to other provinces as infections multiply, even as Quebec and British Columbia announced plans to ease restrictions. A third wave reached Manitoba later than other provinces, and pushed up its rate of daily cases to 233 people per 100,000 during the past week, the highest in Canada and triple the national average, mainly due to spread in the city of Winnipeg.