"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 15th Jun 2021
COVID Scotland: Professor Jason Leitch warns first dose of coronavirus vaccine only offers about 30% protection from 'horrid' Delta variant
- Scotland's national clinical director stessed the need to get both vaccinations to offer 'decent' protection and suggested eight to 10 weeks of progress thanks to the vaccine had been 'lost' because of the variant, first identified in India.
- Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland, Professor Leitch said the new strain of COVID-19 has 'changed the game' in terms of the vaccine rollout because of the lack of protection offered to those who have had the first dose alone.
- He said a four week delay for first doses could allow nine million second doses across the UK, but said that the government was 'trying desperately' to not impact the vaccine rollout for younger people.
- Professor Leitch said 'the Delta variant has changed the game in one crucial way. Everything still works - distancing, ventilation, handwashing all still work - but what is new about the Delta variant, and this is horrid, and we've learned it increasingly over the last few weeks, is the second dose is required for decent protection. You get about 30% protection from one dose, you get 80-85% protection from two.'
- 'So therefore, if you're thinking of this as a vaccination campaign timeline, we've lost about eight to 10 weeks on that journey. We've vaccinated about half the country's adults twice, now we need to get that number up.'
- The Scottish government is now aiming to offer second doses eight weeks after the first, he explained, as he urged any eligible Scots waiting for their second doses to consider going to open access vaccine clinics.
- He continued, 'we're desperate to get those vaccines in just as quick as we can, and that will allow us to give advice to the First Minister that says, 'yes, the game has now changed; but the vaccination campaign is changing too so we can begin to relax a little more.'
Professor Jason Leitch warns first dose of coronavirus vaccine only offers about 30% protection from ‘horrid’ Delta variant
Scotland’s national clinical director stressed the need to get both vaccinations to offer “decent” protection and suggested eight to 10 weeks of progress thanks to the vaccine had been “lost” because of the variant, first identified in India. Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Prof Leitch said the new strain of Covid-19 has “changed the game” in terms of the vaccine rollout because of the lack of protection offered by the first dose alone.
India eases COVID rules as new cases dip to two-month low
Many Indian states have eased coronavirus restrictions, including the capital New Delhi, where authorities allowed all shops and shopping centres to open, as the number of new infections dropped to the lowest in more than two months. Experts have cautioned against a full reopening as India has vaccinated only about 5 percent of its estimated 950 million adults with the necessary two doses, leaving millions vulnerable.
PM announces four-week delay to Covid lockdown easing in England
Boris Johnson has halted the final easing of lockdown restrictions in England and ordered a four-week delay to speed up the vaccination programme, but signalled afterwards he would not tolerate any further suspension. The prime minister said 19 July was a “terminus date” and that all restrictions on social contact could be lifted, barring the emergence of a gamechanging new variant. The chief medical officer for England, Prof Chris Whitty, suggested that within four weeks the additional jabs would offer sufficient protection to halt a surge in hospitalisations and said there would come a point where the country would be able to live with the virus in relative normality. But Whitty and Johnson said a speeding up of second vaccine doses for the over-40s combined with a four-week delay could prevent thousands of unnecessary deaths. Although the data will be reviewed after two weeks, No 10 said it was unlikely restrictions would change.
‘A rumour can explode in one day’: Meet the pioneer fighting vaccine mistrust
When anthropologist Heidi Larson secured the seed funding to establish the Vaccine Confidence Project a decade ago, it was a humble set-up housed in a corner of the venerable London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Bloomsbury. Now, in a global pandemic, her expertise as one of the world’s foremost authorities on anti-vaccine sentiment and the rumours, misinformation and emotions that shape our perception of vaccines means that Professor Larson is in serious demand. In the past fortnight she has delivered the John Maddox Lecture at the Hay Festival, collected the prestigious Edinburgh Medal for her work to understand and tackle popular misconceptions of vaccines and joined UK health minister Matt Hancock and WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a Science Museum summit to explore ways to boost confidence in the Covid-19 vaccine.
S.Korea eases COVID-19 restrictions on concerts, sports games
South Korea began easing restrictions on large concerts and sports events on Monday after announcing last week it would loosen a series of coronavirus curbs as the country pushes ahead with its vaccination drive. Up to 4,000 people will be allowed to attend K-Pop concerts and other cultural shows from Monday, up massively from a capacity limit of below 100 people since late last year, according to measures announced by health officials on Friday. Sports stadiums will be able to operate at a 30% to 50% capacity, depending on the districts, up from 10% previously.
America’s broken PPE supply chain must be fixed now
Almost everyone knows by now that the U.S. was ill-prepared to combat Covid-19. But few realize that the structural problems in the supply chain that plagued the government’s response haven’t been fixed. It’s crucial to address these vulnerabilities now. There’s no telling when the inevitable next health crisis will hit. Consider the government’s disastrous distribution of emergency medical supplies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in charge of the Strategic National Stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 respirators, gloves, gowns, and face shields, along with ventilators and certain pharmaceuticals, such as antibiotics and antitoxins.
All eligible adults in Wales now offered first dose of coronavirus vaccine
All eligible adults in Wales have now been offered a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine six weeks ahead of schedule, the Welsh Government has said. It added that vaccination clinics across Wales were accelerating second doses amid growing concerns over the spread of the Delta variant of the virus across the UK. Paying tribute to Wales' many vaccination teams, Health Minister Eluned Morgan said Wales was now leading the world in the rate at which it was vaccinating people. She said: "I'm delighted that today we have reached the milestone of offering all eligible adults their first dose - six weeks ahead of schedule. "This is a remarkable achievement and I want to thank everyone involved for their incredible efforts. However, we are not being complacent - I want to encourage younger adults to take up this offer of the vaccine and we don't want to see anyone left behind."
Get Covid vaccine and chance to win a car as Moscow's death toll grows
The mayor of Moscow is offering people who receive a coronavirus jab the chance to win cars as daily deaths in the Russian capital hit a four-month high and suspicion of vaccines remains widespread. Officials said yesterday that 69 people had died from Covid-19 in Moscow in the preceding 24 hours, the most since early February. The city of 12 million people recorded 7,704 new cases, the highest figure since late last year. Sergei Sobyanin, the mayor, ordered all non-essential workers to remain home next week, with full pay. He also ordered food courts to close. Restaurants, bars and clubs will be barred from serving customers between 11pm and 6am. He has ruled out a lockdown.
D.C. region tries to boost coronavirus vaccine uptake among law enforcement
As the Washington region’s coronavirus vaccination efforts continue, public health officials are homing in on segments of the population slow to get the shot — such as law enforcement officers. While no comprehensive surveying has been done in the region, Virginia officials say less than half of State Police troopers are vaccinated and about 50 percent of corrections officers in the state have been vaccinated. Large police departments have slightly better rates, with 58 percent of officers vaccinated in the District and 65 percent vaccinated in Prince George’s County. Montgomery County’s high countywide vaccination rate is mirrored among its officers, about 71 percent of whom have gotten the shot.
How Taiwan’s struggle for Covid vaccines is inflaming tensions with China
Vaccines are the latest flashpoint inflaming cross-strait tensions between China and Taiwan, as the latter tries to fend off its worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began with a mostly unvaccinated population and the former rails against outside assistance from Taipei’s allies. Global vaccination drives are widely seen as the only way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, but in Taiwan, just 3% of the population has received at least one dose. Now the island is battling hundreds of cases a day and does not have enough vaccines for its 23.5 million people. Affected by global shortages, low initial orders, and accusations of geopolitical interference, it has received only a few million doses, and international allies are stepping up to help. On 4 June, Japan sent a plane carrying 1.24m AstraZeneca doses and days later a delegation of US senators flew to Taipei to announce a donation of 750,000 doses.
Win a cow, avoid COVID: Philippines tempts vaccine hesitant
Last week, after ignoring her brother’s advice for months, Fannie Taladro Pestaño hurried to a school campus near her home in Las Piñas City, a suburb of the Philippines’ capital Manila, to line up for her first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Her brother, Johnny Rey Taladro, had been urging her to sign up for the immunisation drive.
Germans told to be patient as chemists start Covid vaccine pass scheme
Fully vaccinated Germans have been urged not to storm the country’s pharmacies in the rush to obtain a Covid digital vaccination pass made available in thousands of stores on Monday. The “Digitale Impfpass” or digital vaccination pass, is the official document to be used as part of the the European Union vaccine certificate scheme to facilitate travel across the bloc, which the European parliament agreed last month. The Association of Pharmacists issued an appeal to people to be patient, admitting the system was new and untried.
UK's Johnson delays lockdown easing by a month, citing Delta variant risk
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed his plans to lift COVID-19 lockdown restrictions by a month on Monday, warning that the more infectious Delta variant meant if he did nothing thousands more people might die. Under the final stage of a plan outlined by Johnson in February, he had hoped to lift most social restrictions on June 21, meaning pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and other hospitality venues could fully reopen. That much-anticipated step was pushed back to July 19. The extra time would be used to speed up Britain's vaccination programme - already one of the world's furthest advanced - by shortening the recommended time between doses for those aged over 40 to eight weeks from 12 weeks.
Norway eyes delay to COVID-19 vaccinations
Norway now expects to receive 900,000 fewer Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine doses in the July-September quarter compared to what authorities had earlier anticipated, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Monday. The country of 5.4 million people will at the same time get a higher number of vaccine doses from Moderna but will still see a delay in its vaccination campaign, Hoeie told a news conference. While Norway forecasts future deliveries based on input from vaccine makers, the volume it ultimately receives is subject to uncertainty and is only confirmed close to the time of delivery, according to the Institute of Public Health
Lockdown: Rules on face masks and social distancing extended by Boris Johnson
Rules around face masks and social distancing will be extended beyond next week after the lifting of the remaining coronavirus restrictions was postponed amid concern over the Delta variant. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this evening that the road map easing earmarked for June 21 will be pushed back four weeks to July 19. Limits on numbers for sports events, pubs and cinemas will therefore remain in place, nightclubs will stay shuttered and people will be asked to continue working from home where possible. The mandatory wearing of face masks in public spaces will also endure in a bid to curb infections.
A Top Virologist in China, at Center of a Pandemic Storm, Speaks Out
To a growing chorus of American politicians and scientists, she is the key to whether the world will ever learn if the virus behind the devastating Covid-19 pandemic escaped from a Chinese lab. To the Chinese government and public, she is a hero of the country’s success in curbing the epidemic and a victim of malicious conspiracy theories. Shi Zhengli, a top Chinese virologist, is once again at the center of clashing narratives about her research on coronaviruses at a state lab in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic first emerged. The idea that the virus may have escaped from a lab had long been widely dismissed by scientists as implausible and shunned by others for its connection with former President Donald J. Trump. But fresh scrutiny from the Biden administration and calls for greater candor from prominent scientists have brought the theory back to the fore.
Covid cases fall across US but experts warn of dangers of vaccine hesitancy
New cases of Covid-19 are declining across most of the US, even in some states with vaccine-hesitant populations. But almost all states where cases are rising have lower-than-average vaccination rates and experts warned on Sunday that relief from the coronavirus pandemic could be fleeting in regions where few people get inoculated. Case totals nationally have declined in a fortnight from a seven-day average of nearly 21,000 on 29 May to 14,315 on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. For weeks, states and cities have been ending virus restrictions and mask mandates, even indoors.
Ex-head of Myanmar's COVID-19 vaccination programme arrested
The former head of Myanmar's COVID-19 immunisation programme has been arrested and faces charges of high treason for colluding with opponents of the military authorities, state media reported on Monday. Myanmar's healthcare system and coronavirus prevention measures have collapsed since the army seized power on Feb. 1 and overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose government had successfully stopped two waves of the virus.
COVID-19: Delta variant increases hospitalisation risk but vaccine protection remains high, study suggests
The risk of being hospitalised with the Delta (Indian) variant of coronavirus is around double that of the Alpha (Kent) strain, but two vaccine doses still provide strong protection against it, new data suggests. However, the level of protection against the Indian variant of COVID-19 may be lower than with the Kent variant, early research published in The Lancet suggests.
Novavax vaccine is 90 percent effective against COVID-19
On Monday, Novavax released positive results from clinical trials. Its vaccine candidate showed 90.4 percent efficacy against COVID-19 infection, including 100 percent efficacy against moderate and severe disease. By the end of September 2021, the company is slated to produce 100 million doses.
Brazil extends validity of J&J COVID vaccine to 4.5 months
Brazil's health regulator Anvisa has extended the validity of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N)COVID-19 vaccine, prolonging its shelf life from 3 months to 4.5 months, giving the country more time to use a first batch due to arrive this week. The batch of 3 million doses was due to expire on June 27, but now Brazil has followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in extending the expiration dates by a month a half
How did 75 million J&J vaccines get ruined? FDA details the manufacturing woes at Emergent's beleaguered site
At long last, several million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine made at CDMO Emergent BioSolutions' troubled Baltimore production facility have been cleared for use. But many more are now bound for the graveyard, and the feds are going public with the reasons behind the ruined doses. Emergent has been in hot water ever since a manufacturing error at its Baltimore plant forced the CDMO to discard up to 15 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses this spring. Following weeks of inspection, the FDA last week cleared about 10 million doses to ship out to the U.S. and other countries. At the same time, the feds also instructed the companies to toss about 60 million more doses. That's a total of about 75 million discarded doses from the plant, and about 10 million approved for shipment.
Novavax Covid-19 vaccine highly effective in late-stage trial, long-awaited results show
Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine was highly effective in preventing symptomatic infections, hospitalizations, and severe illnesses, long-awaited results from the company’s Phase 3 trial, released Monday, revealed. The vaccine was 90% protective against laboratory-confirmed symptomatic infection. The trial results put this vaccine in the same efficacy ballpark as the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. But where those companies are currently producing and selling hundreds of millions of doses and are in the process of seeking full licensure from the Food and Drug Administration, Novavax still has steps it must take before it can apply for the regulatory authorizations it will need to start rolling out its vaccine.
J&J will export more COVID-19 vaccines to South Africa beyond 300,000 doses already promised - Aspen CEO
Johnson & Johnson will be exporting more ready-to-administer doses to the South African government beyond the 300,000 that was been announced by the local drug regulator on Sunday, CEO of Aspen Pharmacare said on Monday. Aspen is the local manufacturer of J&J's COVID-19 vaccine.
South Africa rejects 2m J&J vaccines due to FDA decision
South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been hit by further delays as it will have to discard at least 2 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines produced in the country. The vaccines were found by the U.S Food and Drug Administration to be unsuitable for use due to possible contamination of their ingredients at a Baltimore plant. South Africa was expecting to use them to inoculate its health care workers and people aged 60 years and older. This is the latest setback to South Africa’s vaccine rollout which has so far given shots to just over 1% of its 60 million people.
Delta variant Covid symptoms ‘include headaches, sore throat and runny nose’
The data, collected as part of the app-based Zoe Covid symptom study, suggests that the Delta variant first detected in India feels like a “bad cold”, according to Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, who is leading the work. “Covid is … acting differently now, it’s more like a bad cold,” he said. “People might think they’ve just got some sort of seasonal cold, and they still go out to parties … we think this is fuelling a lot of the problem. So, what’s really important to realise is that since the start of May, we’ve been looking at the top symptoms in all the app users, and they’re not the same as they were. So, the number one symptom is headache … followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever.”
Vaccines are working – but these charts show why England is delaying reopening
Two-thirds of the population in England are insufficiently protected against the Delta coronavirus variant, exclusive data analysis by the Guardian can reveal. Despite promising signs that the vaccine is working – including record low hospital admissions in relation to the number of cases – this lack of immunity is critical to the government’s decision to further ease restrictions. Boris Johnson has announced a four-week delay to the last stage of lockdown reopening, which would have seen large gatherings at venues such as theatres and nightclubs allowed.
Delta variant doubles risk of hospitalization; Novavax vaccine highly effective in large trial
Novavax Inc on Monday said its COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, including against a variety of concerning variants of the coronavirus in a large, late-stage U.S.-based clinical trial. The study of nearly 30,000 volunteers in the United States and Mexico puts Novavax on track to file for emergency authorization in the United States and elsewhere in the third quarter of 2021, the company said. The protein-based vaccine was more than 93% effective against the more easily transmissible predominant coronavirus variants that have caused concern among scientists and public health officials, Novavax said.
Novavax Offers U.S. a Fourth Strong Covid-19 Vaccine
Novavax announced on Monday the results of a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Mexico, finding that its two-shot inoculation provides potent protection against the coronavirus. In the 29,960-person trial, the vaccine demonstrated an overall efficacy of 90.4 percent, on par with the vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, and higher than the one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. The Novavax vaccine showed an efficacy of 100 percent at preventing moderate or severe disease. Despite these impressive results, the vaccine’s future in the United States is uncertain and it might be needed more in other countries. Novavax says it may not seek emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration until the end of September. And with a plentiful supply of three other authorized vaccines, it’s possible that the agency may tell Novavax to apply instead for a full license — a process that could require several extra months.
Covid-19: Vaccine booster study begins in Cambridge
Clinical trials have begun in Cambridge to see which Covid-19 vaccine works best as a third "booster" jab. Researchers at the Addenbrooke's Hospital site are recruiting about 180 participants for a national trial, which will test seven vaccines. The Cov-Boost study will give people a third dose of a vaccine to see whether it offers better protection against the virus than the standard two injections. Prof Krishna Chatterjee called the study an "exciting opportunity". The government-funded trial, led by the University of Southampton, is taking place at 18 sites across the UK and is said to be the first study in the world to provide vital data on the impact of a third dose on patients' immune responses.
Covid-19: US regulator raises “significant concerns” over safety of rapid lateral flow tests
The US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) has raised concerns about the safety and the marketing of rapid lateral flow covid-19 tests, which are the cornerstone of the UK’s mass testing programme. On 10 June,1 the agency warned the public to stop using the Innova SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid qualitative test for detecting infection and suggested the tests should be destroyed and binned or returned to the manufacturer. The FDA published a class 1 recall of the test after an investigation carried out between March and April uncovered “significant concerns that the performance of the test has not been adequately established, presenting a risk to health.” Class 1 is the most serious kind of recall and indicates that use of the tests may cause serious injury or death. In addition, the FDA said that “labelling distributed with certain configurations of the test includes performance claims that did not accurately reflect the performance estimates observed during clinical studies,” and that the test “has not been authorised, cleared, or approved by the FDA for commercial distribution or use in the US, as required by law.”
Celltrion says trial shows antibody COVID-19 treatment to be safe and effective
South Korean drugmaker Celltrion Inc on Monday announced positive results for its experimental antibody COVID-19 treatment that it said was safe and reduced the treatment period by nearly five days in Phase 3 global clinical trials. The trials, which involved 1,315 participants, have taken place since January in 13 countries, including in South Korea, the United States, Spain and Romania, Celltrion said in a statement. The treatment slowed severe symptoms of COVID-19 in more than 70% of patients, including the high-risk group with underlying conditions. It also cut the recovery period by 4.9 days, the company said.
UK study finds vaccines offer high protection against hospitalisation from Delta variant
COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca offer high protection of more than 90% against hospitalisation from the Delta coronavirus variant, a new analysis by Public Health England showed on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a delay to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in England due to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of concern, first identified in India, which is also associated with a higher risk of hospitalisation among the unvaccinated.
Seqirus Co-Authors First Study to Assess Simultaneous Administration of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine and COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate
Seqirus, a global leader in influenza prevention and a division of CSL Limited (ASX: CSL), today announced that the company co-authored the first study to demonstrate the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy profile of a COVID-19 vaccine when co-administered with a seasonal influenza vaccine.1 The data is now available on medRxiv ahead of peer-review publication. The study was conducted by Novavax, Inc. as part of a Phase 3 clinical trial of NVX-CoV2373, its recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine candidate, in the United Kingdom.1 The co-administration sub-study enrolled 431 volunteers, all of whom received either an adjuvanted, trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine (aTIV) or a cell-based, quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine (QIVc) provided by Seqirus.1 Approximately half of the volunteers also received NVX-CoV2373 while the remainder received the placebo. The study results suggest that efficacy of both the influenza vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine candidate appeared to be preserved.1 No additional safety concerns were found with co-administration and adverse events were similar to the incidence and severity for each vaccine when administered separately.
Covid hospital cases 'would match first peak' if June 21 Freedom Day went ahead
England faced a wave of Covid hospital cases as high as the first peak if Boris Johnson went ahead with the June 21 'Freedom Day', government advisors believe. The Prime Minister was forced to delay the easing of lockdown until July 19 after the Delta variant, said to be between 40% and 80% more transmissible than the Kent strain, had spread rapidly. Now, new modelling by the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) - a SAGE subgroup - has revealed just how risky scrapping all social distancing could have been. Among the experts' worst case scenarios was that hospitalisations would reach around the peak of the first wave, when there were more than 3,000 new UK patients per day, compared to under 200 a day now.
Chile faces setback to reopening as coronavirus cases soar
Chilean health authorities said on Monday they would extend a COVID-19 emergency through September to allow the government to impose restrictions, a setback in a country that has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. The announcement comes as cases have soared in Chile to some of their highest levels since the pandemic began, despite 61% of citizens receiving at least one vaccine dose and 48% being fully vaccinated
Coronavirus infections dropping where people are vaccinated, rising where they are not, Post analysis finds
States with higher vaccination rates now have markedly fewer coronavirus cases, as infections are dropping in places where most residents have been immunized and are rising in many places people have not, a Washington Post analysis has found. States with lower vaccination also have significantly higher hospitalization rates, The Post found. Poorly vaccinated communities have not been reporting catastrophic conditions. Instead, they are usually seeing new infections holding steady or increasing without overwhelming local hospitals. As recently as 10 days ago, vaccination rates did not predict a difference in coronavirus cases, but immunization rates have diverged, and case counts in the highly vaccinated states are dropping quickly.
As US COVID-19 death toll nears 600,000, racial gaps persist
Jerry Ramos spent his final days in a California hospital, hooked to an oxygen machine with blood clots in his lungs from COVID-19, his 3-year-old daughter in his thoughts. “I have to be here to watch my princess grow up,” the Mexican American restaurant worker wrote on Facebook. “My heart feels broken into pieces.” Ramos didn’t live to see it. He died Feb. 15 at age 32, becoming not just one of the nearly 600,000 Americans who have now perished in the coronavirus outbreak but another example of the outbreak’s strikingly uneven and ever-shifting toll on the nation’s racial and ethnic groups.
Full hospitals in Afghanistan close doors to new patients as COVID-19 surges
The two main hospitals treating people with COVID-19 in Afghanistan have had to close their doors to new patients because of a lack of beds, a senior health official and doctors said on Monday. Afghanistan is grappling with a third wave of the pandemic, with a record number of infections and deaths being reported amid a surge in violence as U.S.-led international forces withdraw and Taliban insurgents go on the offensive. "Both Afghan Japan and Ali Jinnah hospitals had to close their doors because they had no more beds or resources," the health official said on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak publicly about the matter.