| |

"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 4th Aug 2022

Lockdown Exit
Long COVID comes in three forms: study
New research from scientists from King’s College London supports the idea that there are three different types of long COVID, each with their own symptoms. Researchers studied over 1,000 people suffering from post-COVID syndrome and found that there are three different subtypes of the condition. The first subtype consisted of respiratory symptoms, the second neurologic and third autoimmune.
EU says Novavax COVID shot must carry heart side-effect warning
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is recommending Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine carry a warning of the possibility of two types of heart inflammation, an added burden for a shot that has so far failed to win wide uptake. The heart conditions - myocarditis and pericarditis - should be listed as new side effects in the product information for the vaccine, Nuvaxovid, based on a small number of reported cases, the EMA said on Wednesday.
Japan learns to live with COVID-19 as locals flock to travel spots
Japan’s residents are flocking to tourism hot spots and snapping up normally hard-to-get restaurant reservations even as COVID-19 infections surge to a record, in a sign one of the slowest major economies to fully reopen is adjusting to life with the virus. Domestic travel is booming as people enjoy their first restriction-free summer since 2019 and as still-tight border rules keep away the hordes of foreign visitors that typically crowd popular attractions. Most residents are shaking off concerns about the current wave of virus cases, with travel agencies H.I.S. and JTB reporting no obvious rise in cancellations. Nippon Travel Agency Co. says any spots that become available are quickly booked.
Tokyo is giving out free Covid-19 self-test kits
Article reports that with the current surge in Covid-19 infections across Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is now providing free rapid antigen self-test kits to those with Covid-19 symptoms. This new initiative is exclusive to Tokyoites in their 20s, born between August 2 1992 and August 1 2002.
Biden continues to test positive for COVID, his doctor says
U.S. President Joe Biden continued to test positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and will maintain his isolation procedures, but he is feeling well and does not have a fever, his physician said in a memo released by the White House. "The President continues to feel well, though he is experiencing a bit of a return of a loose cough," his physician Kevin O'Connor said. "He remains fever-free and in good spirits."
Survey: A third of US kids had excessive screen time amid COVID
More than one third of US children used media addictively in fall 2020, a finding tied to family stressors but not a decrease in the number of screen-time rules implemented, finds a survey of US parents published today in Pediatrics. Investigators from Seattle Children's Research Institute surveyed 1,000 US parents who had at least one child aged 6 to 17 years to evaluate how COVID-19 pandemic-related family stressors and the number of screen-time rules affected their children's media use in October and November 2020. The sample included 500 parents each with children in the 6- to 10-year-old group and in the 11- to 17-year-old group. Parents completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) and the Problematic Media Use Scale and were asked about parental employment status, demographic characteristics, and whether their child attended school in person or remotely.
Exit Strategies
Evidence that university and college vaccine mandates reduce community COVID-19 cases
A new study co-authored by Michigan State University economics professor Scott Imberman, Ph.D., and doctoral student Wenjia Cao, found that university vaccine mandates were effective in reducing new COVID-19 cases in communities. Their research, "The Effect of Vaccine Mandates on Disease Spread: Evidence from College COVID-19 Mandates," will be published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, and is the first of its kind to provide direct evidence of the positive impact university and college vaccine mandates have had on community health outcomes. "While there is evidence that vaccines improve health outcomes for individuals, our analysis showed that college- and university-imposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates also benefited the community beyond the campus," Dr. Imberman said.
Covid drug Evusheld could protect the immunocompromised but the UK Government still hasn't procured it
Thousands still live in fear of the virus because their immune system doesn’t respond to vaccines. A drug to protect them, Evusheld, has been approved – but the Government has not procured it, despite patients’ pleas
Poland to offer fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to adults in September
Poland will allow a furth dose of coronavirus vaccine to be received by people aged over 18 in September, the health minister has announced. Since July 22, a second booster dose has been available for people in the 60-70 age group and an additional vaccination for people aged over 12 years with immune deficiency. Before, the fourth dose has been offered to everybody over 80.
SINOVAC COVID-19 Vaccine Approved for Use in Children Above 6 months of Age in Hong Kong
Sinovac Biotech Ltd. a leading provider of biopharmaceutical products in China, announced that based on related clinical trials and studies of vaccination for local children and adolescents, the Health Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China has approved the Company’s COVID-19 vaccine (CoronaVac), intended for children aged 6 months to 3 years. The vaccination schedule for this age group follows the same vaccination schedule of older children.
Germany announces new coronavirus measures for fall, winter
The German government on Wednesday said basic coronavirus requirements would remain in place during the coming fall and winter, when experts expect COVID-19 cases to rise again as people spend more time indoors. Face masks and presenting proof of a negative coronavirus test will be mandatory from October until early April at hospitals, nursing homes and similar institutions with vulnerable people. Passengers on airplanes and making long-distance trips by train and bus also will have to wear masks during that period, as they do now.
EU signs joint procurement deal with Spain's HIPRA for COVID vaccines
The European Commission said on Tuesday it had signed a joint procurement contract with Spanish pharmaceutical firm HIPRA for the supply of its protein COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available if approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The European Union's executive said in a statement that 14 countries are participating in the agreement, under which they can purchase up to 250 million doses.
Partisan Exits
Capital records five deaths as Covid cases cross 2000 mark
The capital reported 2,073 fresh cases of Covid-19 Wednesday, with the incidence crossing the 2,000-mark for the first time in 71 days since February 4 when there were 2,272 cases recorded as the omicron variant-driven wave was receding in the capital. The positivity rate — the proportion of samples tested that return positive — stood at 11.64% on Wednesday, according to the daily health bulletin released by the Delhi government. The average positivity rate over the last three days is 11.23%, which is also the highest since the third wave waned in the city.
Tennis-Djokovic likely to miss U.S. Open over COVID-19 vaccine status
Djokovic has refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine yet the 21-times Grand Slam winner remains on the entry lists for the ATP 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati that serve as tune-ups for the Aug. 29-Sept. 11 U.S. Open in New York. In the case of the U.S. Open, which does not have a vaccine mandate, organisers previously said that per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are entered into the main draw based on their ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event. U.S. Open organisers also said that while they do not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, they will respect the U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens.
Scientific Viewpoint
Novavax Covid-19 vaccine should carry warning for possible heart side-effects
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is recommending that Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine carry a warning of the possibility of two types of heart inflammation that could be triggered as a side effect. The EMA confirmed that the heart conditions – myocarditis and pericarditis – should be listed as new side effects in the product information for the vaccine, Reuters confirmed on Wednesday, August 3. When discussing the Novavax Covid vaccine the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Doctor Sandra Fryhofer who is the liaison to the Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices said: “We now have a third type of vaccine in the fight against COVID.”
Moderna Profit Falls Amid Charges for Unused Covid-19 Vaccines
Moderna Inc. sales rose 9% in the second quarter, but costs tied to a surplus of Covid-19 vaccine doses contributed to a profit decline. The Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company’s revenue came in at $4.75 billion for the period ended June 30, topping Wall Street analyst expectations, driven almost entirely by sales of Moderna’s messenger RNA-based vaccine, branded as Spikevax. But the pace of Moderna’s year-over-year sales growth slowed significantly in the second quarter. The company’s first-quarter revenue was more than triple the year-earlier period. Moderna first introduced its Covid-19 vaccine in late 2020 and it is the company’s only product. At the same time, Moderna’s profit fell 21% to $2.2 billion because of charges tied to expired vaccine doses and changes to purchase commitments.
EU says Novavax Covid-19 vaccine should carry heart side-effect warning
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is recommending Novavax's Covid-19 vaccine carry a warning of two inflammatory conditions of the heart, based on a small number of reported cases. The conditions - myocarditis and pericarditis - should be listed as new side effects in the product information for the vaccine, Nuvaxovid, the EMA said on Wednesday. The agency has also requested that the US drugmaker provide additional data on the risk of these side effects occurring.
Moderna's COVID vaccine approved for vulnerable young children
The ATAGI experts have recommended children aged between six months and five years, who have a higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID, will be able to receive the Moderna vaccine from September 5.
Pfizer, BioNTech Initiate Phase 2 Study of Enhanced COVID-19 mRNA-Based Vaccine
Pfizer and BioNTech have initiated an active-controlled, observer-blind, phase 2, randomized study to evaluate the immune response, safety, and tolerability of an enhanced COVID-19 mRNA-based vaccine candidate at a 30-µg dose level, Pfizer said in a statement. The enhanced vaccine, BNT162b5, will consist of RNAs encoding enhanced prefusion spike proteins for the SARS-CoV-2 ancestral strain and an Omicron variant. The enhanced spike protein encoded from the mRNAs in the vaccine has been modified with the aim of increasing the breadth and magnitude of the immune response that could better protect against COVID-19. This is the first of multiple vaccine candidates with an enhanced design that the companies plan to evaluate, according to the statement.
Moderna's 2Q earnings beat expectations, but it writes off $500 million in expiring Covid shots
Moderna beat Wall Street’s quarterly earnings and revenue expectations. The Boston biotech company generated $4.7 billion in sales for the quarter, a 9% increase over the same period last year. Moderna posted adjusted earnings of $5.24 per share, an 18% drop from the second quarter of 2021. But the company took a nearly $500 million hit on write-downs for vaccine inventory that has expired or is expected to expire before it can be used.
How much do face masks protect you against COVID-19?
Health authorities no longer force people in Australia to wear face masks except in certain situations, but previous studies show how effective wearing a mask can be in stopping you from getting COVID-19. From around February this year, most states and territories gradually removed requirements for people to wear face masks except in limited circumstances. Current mandates vary slightly across jurisdictions but masks are generally still required while travelling on public transport and planes, and when in hospitals and aged care centres. The requirement for people to wear masks in airport terminals was removed after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) said in June it was no longer appropriate. The decision whether or not to wear a mask in most public indoor spaces such as shopping centres and in offices is now down to individual choice.
Moderna Sales Climb on Strong Demand for Covid-19 Vaccine
Moderna Inc. sales rose 9% in the second quarter, but costs tied to a surplus of Covid-19 vaccine doses contributed to a profit decline. The Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company’s revenue came in at $4.75 billion for the period ended June 30, topping Wall Street analyst expectations, driven almost entirely by sales of Moderna’s messenger RNA-based vaccine, branded as Spikevax. But the pace of Moderna’s year-over-year sales growth slowed significantly in the second quarter. The company’s first-quarter revenue was more than triple the year-earlier period. Moderna first introduced its Covid-19 vaccine in late 2020 and it is the company’s only product
Gilead Boosts Sales Forecast on Demand for Covid-19 Drug
Gilead Sciences Inc. raised its sales forecast for the year, mostly due to anticipated demand for the Covid treatment Veklury. The drugmaker said Tuesday that it now sees total product sales between $24.5 billion and $25 billion this year, up from its April forecast of $23.8 billion to $24.3 billion. That includes about $2.5 billion in Veklury sales, compared with a prior forecast of about $2 billion. In the second quarter, sales of Veklury, also known as remdesivir, fell to $445 million from $1.5 billion in the first quarter, reflecting the increased availability of other treatments and a drop in Covid-19 hospitalizations in the US. Analysts had expected Veklury sales of $376.4 million in the second quarter.
Covid-19: Memory problems are more common in people who lose the sense of smell
Persistent loss of smell is a better predictor of lingering cognitive symptoms after covid-19 infection than disease severity. A common symptom of covid-19 is a sudden loss of smell. Previous research has found that smell loss can be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions. Evidence suggests that covid-19 can also lead to long-lasting neurological problems like difficulty concentrating and memory loss. To see if loss of smell due to covid-19 is associated with persistent cognitive symptoms, Gabriela Gonzalez-Alemán at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina in Buenos Aires and her colleagues analysed data from 766 adults aged 60 years or older who had no history of cognitive impairment. Each had taken a PCR test at a covid-19 testing clinic in Argentina, and nearly 90 per cent tested positive.
The curious case of the Covid-19 rebound
If we've learned anything over the past two and a half years, it's that Covid-19 is one strange disease. The latest case in point: the coronavirus rebound. The condition grabbed international attention last week when US President Joe Biden tested positive for the virus six days after testing negative following his first bout of the illness. The White House said Biden, who is back in isolation, was experiencing a bit of a "loose cough" but did not have a fever and his lungs were "clear." The President tested positive again after being treated with the antiviral Paxlovid. White House officials had previously suggested a rebound case of Covid was unlikely, based on reports of cases around the country, but Biden's doctors continued to monitor his health and test him.
Moderna maintains vaccine sales view on lower COVAX orders
Moderna Inc on Wednesday maintained its full-year COVID-19 vaccine sales forecast of $21 billion as canceled orders from low- and middle-income nations through the COVAX program offset gains from new booster dose orders. Moderna shares jumped nearly 17% in morning trading after the company also announced a $3 billion share buyback plan. Moderna has begun producing a redesigned booster shot targeting both the original coronavirus as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
Omicron better at invading young noses than other variants; smell loss may predict memory issues
The Omicron variant may be more efficient at infecting children through the nose than previous versions of the coronavirus, a small study suggests. Earlier in the pandemic, children's noses had been less welcoming to the virus that causes COVID-19 than adults' noses. Studies of the original SARS-CoV-2 and some of its variants found the virus was met with stronger immune responses in the cells lining young noses than in adults' nasal-lining cells, and it was less efficient at making copies of itself in children's noses. But recent test-tube experiments mixing the virus with nasal cells from 23 healthy children and 15 healthy adults found the antiviral defenses in kids' noses "was markedly less pronounced in the case of Omicron," researchers reported on Monday in PLOS Biology.
COVID-19 tracker: EU recommends heart inflammation warning for Novavax shot
Regulators are Europe recommend that Novavax's vaccine be tagged with warnings about the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after a small number of cases were recorded, Reuters reports. The U.S. FDA reached a similar decision back in June, according to the news service. So far, just 250,000 doses of the shot have been administered in Europe. While around 7 million people in the United States who have weaker immune systems are eligible for AstraZeneca's COVID-19 antibody Evusheld, few are actually receiving it, Bloomberg reports. The treatment is intended to help protect people who do not produce a strong response to vaccination. So far, health care providers have ordered just 800,000 courses of the treatment, the news service reports, citing federal data.
Regeneron puts kibosh on 4 antibody studies as Pfizer's Paxlovid dominates the COVID treatment scene
In a sign of the times, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals—whose antibody cocktail REGEN-COV once helped form the vanguard of COVID-19 therapeutics—has axed a clutch of trials weighing the med across a range of patients and clinical stages. The move comes about half a year after the FDA pulled the cocktail from the market after data suggested its efficacy had waned in the face of the surging omicron variant. It’s a fate shared by a number of early-pandemic therapeutics, which have largely fallen by the wayside in the U.S. as the virus swiftly evolves. Now, Regeneron has terminated four clinical trials of REGEN-COV, comprising the monoclonal antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab.
Paxlovid rebound happens, though why and to whom are still a mystery
As an emergency department physician in New York, I often field calls about medical issues from family members, friends, and even friends of friends. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the number of these calls has dramatically increased. The latest slew of these, about Paxlovid and rebound Covid-19 — which President Biden now apparently has — has revealed the confusion surrounding this phenomenon for me, my physician colleagues, and at least one Nobel laureate. I recently got a call from my friend Joachim Frank, who shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017, about his rebound Covid after doing what he was supposed to do: taking Paxlovid as his doctor had prescribed.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Eli Lilly to make COVID-19 antibody drug commercially available from August
Eli Lilly and Co said on Wednesday it plans to make its COVID-19 antibody drug commercially available to U.S. states as well as hospitals and other healthcare providers from August. The drug, bebtelovimab, had received authorization in the United States in February for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 among adults and children. Eli Lilly entered an agreement in June to supply an additional 150,000 doses of the drug to the U.S. government. The U.S. government will exhaust their supply of bebtelovimab as early as the week of August 22 and, without congressional appropriations, does not have the funds to purchase more, Lilly told Reuters.
Covid-19 Omicron outbreak: 6440 new Covid cases, 28 deaths, 704 in hospital
There are 6440 new Covid community cases reported today, with 704 people in hospital. There were 28 virus-related deaths reported in the Ministry of Health's latest daily update. The seven-day rolling average of cases is 6355. Last Wednesday, it was 8111. After today's update, there have been 1589 deaths confirmed to date as attributable to Covid-19 in New Zealand, either as the underlying cause of death or as a contributing factor.
Japan's daily COVID-19 cases hit record high of nearly 250,000
Japan reported 249,830 daily coronavirus cases Wednesday, hitting a record tally as the quickly soaring number renewed concerns over a straining medical system. It was the second day running that the country saw over 200,000 new cases, with the last record reaching 233,000 cases Thursday last week as Japan faces its seventh wave of the pandemic. Tokyo saw 38,940 new cases, while Osaka Prefecture had 24,038 cases. Hyogo Prefecture, which reported 11,201 cases, and Aichi Prefecture, at 17,778, were among 24 areas reporting record infections Wednesday.
Sri Lankan president says COVID-19 cases are rising again
COVID-19 cases and deaths are rising in Sri Lanka, and citizens should receive a fourth vaccine dose to prevent a possible surge of the coronavirus, the president said Tuesday. President Ranil Wickremesinghe said there were only three reported COVID-19 deaths in June. That rose to 35 in July, including 28 who succumbed after July 18. There were 283 confirmed cases in June and 1,616 in July, he said. Wickremesinghe said in a statement that only 22,623 people have received a fourth vaccine dose, compared to 8 million who received a third dose. Sri Lanka has reported a total of 665,847 confirmed cases and 16,559 deaths from the virus.
COVID deaths: US stuck in 'horrible plateau,' experts say. Here's why.
"COVID is over" might trend within social media circles, but weekly U.S. death tolls tell a different story. The pace of COVID-19 deaths has remained relatively steady since May, despite an uptick in July to about 400 a day, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. “We’re sitting on this horrible plateau,” said Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist with Pro Health Care in New York and a clinical instructor of medicine at Columbia University. “It’s been this way for the past couple of months, and we’re getting used to it.”
New Lockdown
Eastern Chinese export hub Yiwu imposes COVID restrictions, locks down some areas
The Chinese city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province has suspended some public gatherings and dining at restaurants, closed multiple entertainment venues and locked down some areas to cope with COVID-19 flare-ups, the city government said on Wednesday. In light of the latest COVID-19 infections, city-wide mass testing will be conducted on Aug. 4, Yiwu's health authorities said late on Wednesday. There were 38 new coronavirus cases in Yiwu since Tuesday, of which nine were symptomatic and 29 were asymptomatic, the city's health authorities said.