"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 9th Jul 2021
Is COVID coming home? England at risk from Euro 2020 euphoria?
Reuters - Alistair Smout, Iain Axon and Emilio Parodi
- 'Football's coming home,' is the chant of England soccer fans at this year's Euro 2020 tournament, but with it may come COVID-19.
- England face Italy on Sunday in the final at London's Wembley Stadium, which has already hosted two semi-finals over two days this week with crowds of around 60,000 people.
- And while Wednesday's semi-final victory over Denmark was greeted with jubilation, England is facing a new wave of COVID-19 cases, fuelled by a combination of a highly contagious variant and its emergence from a third lockdown.
- Italy has also seen coronavirus cases picking up, and epidemiologists in both countries warn that Euro 2020 might fuel its spread among younger, mainly male adults.
- 'It's that demographic, those football-loving, male, predominantly, individuals of a particular age group that we're now seeing a surge in,'
- Denis Kinane, an immunologist and co-founder of testing company Cignpost Diagnostics told Reuters.
- 'So, just as we unlock socially...we're actually going to have a spike,' Kinane said, adding that the virus could spread to family members.
- Imperial College has found a quadrupling of COVID-19 in England in the last month, with women 30% less likely to test positive due to differences in social mixing which could, at least in part, be driven by Euro 2020.
- 'The most plausible explanation is that men are having more frequent close contacts,' Steven Riley, Professor of Infectious Disease Dynamics at the London university, told Reuters,
- Germany has queried Europe's soccer governing body UEFA's move to allow bigger crowds in stadiums as the tournament has gone on, while the World Health Organization (WHO) has flagged the importance of looking beyond stadiums to pubs and bars where people gather for matches.
- London's Wembley matches are 'pilot events' which allow for larger crowds where fans must test negative for COVID-19 or be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
- Doctors battling record numbers of COVID-19 deaths in St.Petersburg were worried when soccer fans gathered for the quarter-final between Spain and Switzerland.
- Although British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has delayed the full reopening of England's economy of England's economy until July 19, a week after the final, people can still gather in bars and pubs.
- Before the semi-final, Johnson urged fans to support England 'enthusiastically, but in a responsible way.'
- For a nation swept up in footballing fervour after 55 years since England's last major final and 16 months of restrictions, politicians are loathe to dampen the celebrations.
- Jubilant fans were pictured packing bars, streets and even clambering on top of a London bus in the aftermatch of England's extra-time 2-1 victory over Denmark, with fan-zones highlighted by some as a particular risk for transmission.
- 'I think the stadiums are being correctly managed...(but) the fact that we've got the whole nation now celebrating - and rightly so - it's scary,' said Keith Still, visiting professor of Crowd Science at Suffolk University, told Reuters.
- In Italy, Carlo Signorelli, professor of Hygiene and Public Health at San Raffaele University in Milan, said masks could stop the spread of droplets among singing or chanting fans.
- 'We've had them for a long time, so putting them on for one morre evening won't be the end of the world,' he told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper.
JPMorgan finds five emerging economies among most vulnerable to Delta variant
Economies of the Philippines, Peru, Colombia, South Africa and Thailand are among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 Delta variant within emerging markets, mostly due to low vaccination rates, a JPMorgan analysis found on Thursday.
A Worrying Drift Towards Exceptionalism In the Covid Vax For Kids Debate - Absolutely Maybe
I think we are drifting perilously close to exceptionalism in the debate about the Covid-19 vaccine for children and adolescents. The narrowed, individualistic framing of anti-vax movement arguments against mandatory childhood immunization is too often applied in critics’ discussion about Covid vaccination for the under-18s at all. Then, people making the case for vaccination too often respond on the same limited discussion ground. I think it’s tilting this debate in damaging ways right now. We shouldn’t let this become normal.
How Delta variant forced Israel to rethink its Covid strategy
For much of this year Israel has been hailed as a resounding Covid-19 success story. It rolled out one of the world’s fastest vaccination drives, reopened its economy and jettisoned all remaining lockdown restrictions last month. Now rising infection rates, driven by the more infectious Delta variant, have forced the Israeli government to reintroduce restrictions for the first time since January. While hospitalisation rates remain low, Israel has chosen a cautious approach. Israelis again have to wear masks inside and on public transport. Testing sites have been reopened. Multiple other curbs, including stricter quarantine for travellers and greater testing of children, are expected to be introduced. Israel may even bring back the “green pass”, which allowed greater freedom for vaccinated people.
Nowhere to go: Brazil’s COVID ‘refugees’ struggle after eviction
Informal settlements have sprung up across the country amid Brazil’s ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, symbols of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s failure to effectively soften the coronavirus pandemic’s blow.
Tunisia COVID-19 situation ‘catastrophic’
North African nation recorded 9,823 coronavirus cases and 134 deaths on Tuesday, its worst daily toll from the virus. Tunisia’s health system has “collapsed” under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health ministry said on Thursday, describing the virus’s affect on the country as “catastrophic”. On Tuesday alone, Tunisia recorded 9,823 cases and 134 deaths, its worst daily toll from the virus. Hospitals in the North African country have seen a significant influx of patients over the past two weeks.
Pfizer to seek OK for 3rd vaccine dose; shots still protect
Pfizer is about to seek U.S. authorization for a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, saying Thursday that another shot within 12 months could dramatically boost immunity and maybe help ward off the latest worrisome coronavirus mutant. Research from multiple countries shows the Pfizer shot and other widely used COVID-19 vaccines offer strong protection against the highly contagious delta variant, which is spreading rapidly around the world and now accounts for most new U.S. infections.
Delta COVID variant surges in Asia, casts shadow on Olympics
Indonesia's daily COVID-19 cases jumped to a new record level today, with Thailand and South Korea also reporting record highs. Rising virus activity has also forced Japanese officials to order a state of emergency for the Tokyo area and a spectator ban for Olympic events. Meanwhile, the world's death total from the virus topped 4 million today, with just over one-third of all fatalities from three countries: the United States, Brazil, and India. Global cases topped 185 million, rising to 185,350,264, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.
US COVID-19 cases jump amid increased Delta activity
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said today that America has two current truths to face concerning its ongoing battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. "On one hand, we have seen successes with cases, hospitalizations, and deaths," she said during a White House press briefing. "On the other…we are now starting to see new and concerning trends in cases." In the past week, the 7-day average of new daily cases jumped 11%, and hospitalizations increased 7%, with daily averages settling around 13,900 new cases per day, and 2,000 new hospital admissions per day, Walensky said.
Is COVID coming home? England at risk from Euro 2020 euphoria
England awaits first major soccer final for 55 years. Young, mainly male, adults spread COVID during Euro 2020. Issue extends outside stadiums to bars and pubs Politicians urge prudent celebrations as Italy eyes final
South Korea to raise COVID-19 curbs to highest level in Seoul, says PM
South Korea will raise coronavirus restrictions to the highest level in capital Seoul and some neighbouring regions from Monday, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Friday. The announcement comes after South Korea reported on Thursday its biggest daily rise in new COVID-19 cases, and a top health official warned the numbers may nearly double by the end of July
Japanese medics welcome bar on spectators but warn risks remain
Medical experts in Japan welcomed a decision to hold the Tokyo Olympics without spectators under coronavirus restrictions but cautioned that the ban will not completely eliminate the risk of a rebound in COVID-19 cases. The ban was formalised on Thursday as Japan struggles to stem a new wave of infections with a state of emergency in Tokyo that will end after the July 23-Aug. 8 event. "I, of course, support 'no spectators' but concerns will never disappear as long as we have a big event, like the Games, along with holidays and the vacation season," said Yuki Furuse, a Kyoto University medical professor working with the government's coronavirus experts group.
Covid-19: Scotland to ‘think carefully’ about loosening Coronavirus restrictions
Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland's falling Covid rates are "encouraging" but added ministers will "think carefully" about what to do next. The Government in Edinburgh hopes to move the country down to Level 0 on 19 July but said a final decision won't be made until Tuesday 13 July. At Level 0, people in Scotland no longer need to distance from family and friends in private homes and can meet socially in much larger groups. It also means places like cafes, all shops and all places of entertainment can fully open.
Amid fresh virus surge, Africa sets out to save itself on vaccines procurement
Let down by wealthy countries, Africa is pinning its hopes on its own coronavirus vaccine deals. And for once, the man who is usually delivering dire predictions about Africa's fight against the pandemic actually seems optimistic. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered some good news this week: Africa is expecting the first vaccine doses from the sizable deal secured through the AU's African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) to start arriving in the next two to three weeks. But he’s still cautious, almost as if his optimism may jinx things. The delivery follows the June announcement by the AU and the World Bank of a partnership that would allow AVATT to deliver up to 400 million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Coronavirus vaccine to be made mandatory for disability support workers in Australia
In Australia, disability support workers may soon be forced to get vaccinated against coronavirus if they want to keep their jobs. The compulsory jab policy has been recommended by a panel of health experts and will be debated at a national cabinet meeting on Friday. The proposed mandate follows a similar order imposed on aged care workers, who must receive at least one dose by mid-September to remain employed in the industry.
U.S. to send 500,000 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to Uruguay
The United States will ship 500,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to Uruguay on Thursday, the White House said, amid a wider distribution to Latin American nations this week. The shipments are part of President Joe Biden's commitment to share 80 million vaccines from the U.S. domestic supply with countries around the world. "Today we ship 500,000 doses of Pfizer to Uruguay," White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a Twitter post.
Analysis: UK PM Johnson's new COVID gamble worries some scientists
Globally watched "experiment" pits shots against Delta variant. Johnson has set out plan for July 19 reopening in England. Modeller says a further delay would buy time Gov't cites economic priorities
Mass infection is not an option: we must do more to protect our young
As the third wave of the pandemic takes hold across England, the UK Government plans to further re-open the nation. Implicit in this decision is the acceptance that infections will surge, but that this does not matter because vaccines have “broken the link between infection and mortality”.1 On July 19, 2021—branded as Freedom Day—almost all restrictions are set to end. We believe this decision is dangerous and premature.
WHO warns of ‘epidemiological stupidity’ of early Covid reopening
As England moves towards an anticipated “big bang” lifting of coronavirus restrictions on 19 July, a senior World Health Organization official has warned countries to lift their Covid-19 restrictions slowly so as “not to lose the gains that [they] have made”. The comments from the UN global health body’s head of emergencies, Mike Ryan, were not aimed directly at Boris Johnson’s much-trumpeted reopening. However, they will be interpreted as grist to the mill of those health experts who have been arguing that England is moving too fast at a time when infections are surging.
Rural India sinks deeper into debt as COVID wipes out work
Interviews with 75 households in a cluster of villages in Uttar Pradesh state show household incomes have slumped nearly 75 percent on average. Heavy debt and low income in the countryside will hold back any economic recovery the government is trying to make and also dent private savings and investment for longer than expected, economists say. “It will have a huge impact and prolong the recovery process. Private consumption and investments both will be hurt. There is merit in finding ways to put money in the hands of the people,” said NR Bhanumurthy, economist and vice chancellor at Bengaluru-based BR Ambedkar School of Economics.
Two weeks into lockdown, Sydney has its worst day for virus cases this year
NSW logs biggest daily rise in cases this year. Officials urge residents to remain home. State police to deploy more officers in city's south west
Cuba says second COVID-19 vaccine Soberana 2 boasts 91.2% efficacy
Cuba said on Thursday its two-shot Soberana 2 vaccine, delivered with a booster called Soberana Plus, had proven 91.2% effective in late stage clinical trials against the coronavirus, following similar news about its Abdala vaccine. The announcement came from state-run biopharmaceutical corporation BioCubaFarma, which oversees the Finlay Institute, the maker of Soberana 2, and the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the producer of Abdala. Last month, Abdala was found to have a 92.28% efficacy
Oxford drugs firm gains $1.5m Gates grant for Covid-19 therapy
Exscientia, an Oxford-based firm that uses artificial intelligence to develop medicines, has won a $1.5m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a Covid-19 treatment that also works for new mutations or other Sars viruses. The company, a spin-off from the University of Dundee, is based at the Oxford Science Park. It counts Japan’s SoftBank, the fund manager BlackRock, and the US drug firm Bristol Myers Squibb among its financial backers. Exscientia aims to develop a drug within 12 months, then recruit volunteers for clinical trials.
Sanofi, GSK get Indian approval for late-stage trial of COVID-19 vaccine
Sanofi SA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc have received an approval from Indian authorities for a late-stage clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the drugmakers said on Thursday. France's Sanofi and Britain's GSK in May kicked off global trials to include more than 35,000 adults to test the shot. They hope to get approvals by the end of 2021 after early-stage results showed the vaccine produces a robust immune response
Covid infection can lead to erectile dysfunction, scientists warn
The inflammation of blood vessels that typically takes place during a Coronavirus infection may limit the blood flow to the penis, leading to erectile disfunction, scientists have said. According to Dr Ryan Berglund, a urologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, warned she has seen a jump in patients with erectile problems only after they had contracted Covid-19. “The blood vessels that can become inflamed could cause an obstructive phenomenon and negatively impact the ability to get erections,” he told several US media outlets. “I would suggests young people to get their vaccinations. If they want to have sex better get the vaccine,” Berglund added.
Sinovac’s Vaccine Found Inferior to Pfizer Shot in Chile Study
Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s vaccine was less potent than Pfizer Inc.’s shot at stopping Covid-19 in Chile where the two shots were used simultaneously, the first real-world analysis comparing a China-made inoculation against an mRNA has found. Researchers found CoronaVac was 66% effective in preventing Covid-19 among fully vaccinated adults, versus 93% for the jab made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE. The inactivated inoculation, given to more than 10 million Chileans, was slightly less effective in preventing hospitalization and deaths than the mRNA vaccine, which was administered to fewer than half a million people, according to the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Roche, Sanofi arthritis drugs score WHO backing for severe COVID-19, but agency echoes calls for lower prices
The World Health Organization has recommended Roche's Actemra and Sanofi/Regeneron's Kevzara, along with corticosteroids, for use in patients with severe COVID-19. The WHO also called on manufacturers of the drugs to cut prices and make them more accessible.
Can we stretch existing Covid vaccines to inoculate more people?
With the global supply of Covid-19 vaccine still woefully inadequate, vaccine makers are scouring the pharmaceutical landscape for partners to ramp up manufacturing, and civil society groups are pressing politicians to waive intellectual property protections in a bid to spur still more production. But what if there was a simpler way? What if current supplies could be stretched, to vaccinate more people more quickly? What if the world is using more vaccine than it needs to on each person immunized, depriving people in the queue of a chance to be protected? Reducing the size of a vaccine dose is an approach that has been used successfully before and ought to be explored, some scientists argue.
Gene hunters turn up new clues about Covid-19
On March 16, 2020, five days after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, took to Twitter to make an announcement: “We are launching the ‘COVID-19 host genetics initiative,’” he wrote. He asked other scientists to join him and institute director Mark Daly in probing the world’s stores of human DNA to help answer a complicated but pressing question: Why do some unlucky people infected by the coronavirus end up gasping for air in an intensive care unit, while many others catch and spread the disease without having so much as a cough? Ganna wasn’t quite prepared for how many would take him up on the offer. Over the last 15 months, more than 3,300 researchers from 25 countries have poured data from millions of people, including more than 125,000 Covid-19 patients, into the initiative, making it one of the largest gene-hunting missions in history.
Study highlights need for full Covid vaccination to protect against Delta variant
A new study published Thursday in Nature adds new detail about the dominant variant, analyzing how well Delta, in a lab dish, was able to evade monoclonal antibody drugs such as bamlamivimab and natural antibodies made in our bodies after infection or vaccination. Looking at both kinds of antibodies in blood drawn from 162 patients and how they reacted to Delta, researchers from the Institut Pasteur in France found lower protection against the variant than against three other variants also notable for how easily they spread from person to person. “This is an important study for confirming the immune evasiveness property of Delta, which is a feature that adds to its enhanced transmissibility, making it the most formidable version of the virus to date,” Eric Topol, director and founder of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told STAT. “No surprises, but further characterization of the variant, which reinforces why it is so challenging.”
Portugal posts over 3000 new COVID-19 infections
Portugal reported more than 3,000 daily coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours for the first time since February, data showed on Wednesday, as authorities pondered further measures to bring under control a worrying surge in infections. Wednesday's 3,285 new cases, a nearly 40% jump from the same day last week, brought the total number of infections in Portugal, a country of just over 10,000 million, to 896,026 since the pandemic started.
Dutch COVID-19 cases spike, gov't reviews options
The Dutch government on Wednesday said it will consider whether it needs to take fresh action following a swift rise in new COVID-19 cases after the country's pandemic lockdown ended. "I think the sharp rise in infection numbers are a reason to request urgent advice from the outbreak management team", Health Minister Hugo de Jonge told reporters in The Hague.
COVID-19: Weekly coronavirus cases rise by 71% to highest level since early February, latest figures show
Despite the recent surge in new cases, the government has announced its plans for "Freedom Day" on 19 July, when all remaining restrictions will be lifted contingent on a final decision set to be made next Monday.
Australia's slow vaccination, locked borders eclipse early virus success
Last year, when much of the world was in coronavirus lockdown, Australia was successfully hosting international cricket matches and tennis tournaments in front of packed crowds in a show of what post-pandemic life could look like. But in recent weeks, new virus outbreaks, a chaotic vaccine rollout and a tightening of already strict curbs on international travel have rapidly reversed those fortunes. As crowds in London watch Wimbledon and the Euro Cup football finals, Australians confront new disappointments, with the Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix cancelled and holiday plans scuppered. Unlike last year, business and consumer tolerance for the restrictions and uncertainty is quickly evaporating as Australians witness other countries reopen
Delta variant is 'Covid-19 on steroids,' expert says, with cases increasing in nearly half of US states
Twenty-four states have seen an uptick of at least 10% in Covid-19 cases over the past week, Johns Hopkins University data shows, as health experts and the federal government keep pressing for more people to get vaccinated. The rapid spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus has only ratcheted up the pressure. That variant, first identified in India, accounted for 51.7% of all new Covid-19 infections in the country over the two weeks that ended Saturday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated.
Covid: Luxembourg’s Prime Minister in ‘Serious’ Condition With Low Blood-Oxygen Levels
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg, who is suffering from Covid-19 symptoms, was in “serious but stable” condition on Tuesday at a hospital, his press secretary in Luxembourg said. The prime minister had low oxygen levels in his blood, an acute concern for people with Covid-19.
More than half of global COVID-19 deaths in the Americas: PAHO
Despite a decline in overall COVID-19 cases and deaths in the Americas, last week the region accounted for more than half of global deaths from the disease, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). During a regular news briefing on Wednesday, PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said inequity in access to healthcare and vaccines, is largely to blame.