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"COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis" 15th Sep 2020

News Highlights

Extension of restrictions in New Zealand, but end is in sight

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has extended Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in the country. An extra week of restrictions has come into effect, restricting gatherings and enforcing physical distancing. The end is in sight, however, - restrictions are expected to be lifted on September 21st, pending a review, except for the national capital Auckland.

India, UAE among those considering emergency authorisation of Covid-19 vaccine

The United Arab Emirates has announced a potential Covid-19 vaccine still under trial has been authorised for emergency use. Cases have surged in the country, prompting the move. A similar move is being considered in India, as cases near five million. 'If there is a consensus we may go ahead with it, especially in the case of senior citizens and people in high-risk settings,' said Health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.

UK medical advisor rebuked for comments on a lockdown

Sir Patrick Vallance, a senior medical advisor to the UK Government and one of the leaders of the country's Covid-19 response, faced criticism for his comments regarding a lockdown. Leaked emails suggest that Vallance was given a 'telling-off' for urging social distancing measures as soon as possible, before the national lockdown on March 23rd.

North Korea rejects Covid-19 aid

North Korea, afflicted by Covid-19 and flooding, has rejected any external aid as it battles dual crises. Kim Jong-un has lifted restrictions in the city of Kaesong. However, borders will remain shut. 'The situation requires us not to allow any outside aid for the flood damage but shut the border tighter and carry out strict anti-epidemic work,' he said.

Lockdown Exit
UK's autumn Covid-19 redundancies could exceed 700,000
Close to half a million redundancies are likely to be announced in the autumn, although the number could end up exceeding 700,000, according to a study that lays bare the scale of the Covid-19 jobs crisis facing the UK. These job cuts are on top of 240,000 redundancies officially recorded by the government up until June. That means the total redundancy figure for 2020 could top one million.
Older teachers in Italy fear Covid-19 risks as schools return
Older Italian teachers and those with underlying illnesses fear the reopening of schools in Italy this week could pose a serious threat to their health. Millions of children will return to classrooms across 14 Italian regions on Monday, more than six months after schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. While teachers in other countries have had similar concerns over the risks, Italy stands out for having the oldest teaching workforce in the EU. A report by the OECD published on Tuesday showed that more than half of primary and secondary school teachers are over the age of 50, and 17% are over 60. At the same time, about 13,000 teaching and non-teaching staff will not immediately return to school after testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies as part of a blanket screening carried out last week, leaving many schools understaffed.
Wetherspoons says 66 staff have tested positive for Covid-19
JD Wetherspoon has said 66 employees out of its workforce of more than 41,000 have tested positive for Covid-19 as it maintained that its pubs are safe for drinkers and diners. The firm’s announcement came after concerns were raised last month that the chain was failing to prevent overcrowding in its pubs, which are popular with young people due to their comparatively low prices for alcohol and food. The company said it had 32m customer visits to its 861 pubs open in the 10 weeks since 4 July. During this period, 66 of its 41,564 staff tested positive for coronavirus. It said 811 pubs had reported no positive tests. Most of the reported cases have been mild or asymptomatic and 28 of the 66 employees have returned to work, after self-isolating in accordance with medical guidelines.
Italy's initial virus hotspot back to school after 7 months
The morning bell Monday marked the first entrance to the classroom for the children of Codogno since Feb. 21, when panicked parents were sent to pick up their children after the northern Italian town gained notoriety as the first in the West to record local transmission of the coronavirus. While all of Italy’s 8 million school students endured Italy’s strict 2½-month lockdown, few suffered the trauma of the children of Codogno, whose days were punctuated by the sirens of passing ambulances. “Many lost grandparents,” said Cecilia Cugini, the principal of Codogno’s nursery, elementary and middle schools.
France’s Economic Rebound Is Stronger Than Initially Thought
France’s economic recovery from the coronavirus lockdown is stronger than previously expected, the Bank of France said Monday as it revised up its growth and inflation forecasts for this year and next. The slump in the euro area’s second-largest economy during state-ordered confinement wasn’t as deep as initially reported, and recent activity has been better than business leaders had forecast,
India’s parliament reopens with unprecedented Covid safety measures
An 18-day monsoon session of India's parliament has gotten underway with extraordinary safety measures to protect against the coronavirus, including staggered sittings of both Houses and social distancing between MPs. With 200 of the 785 members of parliament over 65 years of age, and at least seven ministers and two dozen lawmakers recovering from Covid-19 infection, the pandemic has cast a shadow over the session, which takes place at the end of the monsoon season. The session, which usually starts in mid-July, had to be deferred due to the pandemic, which enforced a sweeping federal lockdown from 25 March. When proceedings began on Monday, the sitting was adjourned for an hour to mark the demise of former president Pranab Mukherjee.
More women than men left jobless post-lockdown
The adverse impact of the pandemic-induced lockdowns and restrictions on the livelihood of women is reflected in the responses of 3,221 women workers from the informal sector in a new survey report covering 20 Indian states.
Europe will see a rise in Covid-19 deaths, WHO says
WHO's Europe director Hans Kluge is expecting an autumn rise in daily fatalities. Deaths have so far remained relatively stable despite summer surge in infections. Kluge also warned that delivering vaccine could present a 'logistical nightmare'
Exit Strategies
Coronavirus Victoria: Mystery cases could derail lockdown exit plan
One of Australia’s top health experts has warned there are still too many mystery COVID-19 cases in Victoria, with concerns the number could impact the state’s roadmap out of lockdown. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth told ABC News Breakfast that, while the state was “overwhelmingly” headed in the right direction with falling coronavirus case numbers, those cases without a known source are still a concern. “(Stage 4 restrictions) are clearly having the desired effect, that light at the end of the tunnel’s growing bigger by the day,” he said. “But 20 cases yesterday that have as yet been unlinked. That is still a number that’s too high. “We need of course for everybody with symptoms in Melbourne and indeed Victoria to make sure that they’re getting themselves tested so we can understand those transmission links and the public health unit can shut them down.”
Britain's universities have been abandoned to fight Covid-19 alone
Universities usually welcome everyone to the new academic year with a big smile, amid genuinely upbeat talk of “challenges” and “opportunities”. It’s still like that this year, but the smile has something of a manic rictus to it, and the talk is based on every single finger and toe being crossed by every single vice chancellor. Here’s where universities have got to: almost all of them are offering some form of “blended learning”, flipping between face-to-face classroom and online seminars. Big traditional lectures are out: recorded resources are in.
North Korea lifts lockdown in Kaesong, rejects flood and coronavirus aid
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has lifted a lockdown in a major city near the border with South Korea where thousands have been quarantined for weeks over coronavirus concerns, state media says. During a key ruling party meeting, Mr Kim also insisted the North would keep its borders shut, and rejected any outside help as the country continued to carry out an aggressive anti-virus campaign while also rebuilding thousands of houses, roads and bridges damaged by heavy rain and floods in recent weeks. Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also said Mr Kim replaced Kim Jae-ryong as premier following an evaluation of the Cabinet's economic performance and appointed Kim Tok-hun as his successor.
Lockdown relief in sight for regions, but Melbourne must wait
Pubs and restaurants could reopen for outdoor dining and home visits may be permitted in regional Victoria this week after Premier Daniel Andrews flagged he could announce on Tuesday a significant easing of restrictions in the regions. But the news was less rosy for Melburnians on Monday, with Chief Heath Officer Brett Sutton confirming strict lockdown rules would continue in the metropolitan area until September 28, despite his prediction that the all-important 14-day average for new COVID-19 cases would drop below 50 by the end of this week.
New Zealand to lift coronavirus curbs in most of country on Sept. 21
New Zealand will lift coronavirus restrictions across the country on Sept. 21, except in its biggest city, Auckland, which is the epicentre of a second wave of infections, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. Ardern said Auckland's restrictions would be reviewed next Monday. She also said the government would immediately ease all physical distancing requirements on planes, a boost for Air New Zealand, AIR.NZ which has had to limit passengers on its planes for months. “I know this change will make a real difference to Air New Zealand and those parts of the country seeking increased numbers of visitors,” Ardern said in a news conference in the South Island city of Dunedin, where she is on an election campaign trip.
India considers emergency authorisation of vaccine as COVID-19 cases surge
India said on Sunday it was considering granting an emergency authorisation for a COVID-19 vaccine, particularly for the elderly and people in high-risk workplaces, as the country’s number of reported infections passed 4.75 million. India, which has consistently reported over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths daily this month, has now recorded 78,586 fatalities from the disease. It lags only the United States globally in overall number of infections, but it has been adding more daily cases than the United States since mid-August. “India is considering emergency authorisation of a COVID-19 vaccination,” said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan. “If there is a consensus we may go ahead with it, especially in the case of senior citizens and people working in high-risk settings.”
Singapore grapples with coronavirus in migrant workers' dormitories
Singapore is battling new clusters of coronavirus infections in migrant dormitories that had won the all-clear from authorities, highlighting the difficulty of stamping out the disease, even in a closely monitored population. As the wealthy city-state tumbled into recession, officials facing intense pressure to revive the economy are opting for limited isolation measures rather than the wide clampdowns earlier, but most low-wage workers are still penned in. “There is little choice,” said Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases expert at the city’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital. “We need to be realistic. We need the economy to go on.”
Philippines 30cm distancing rule seen as 'reckless'; deaths hit record
Experts described as dangerous and premature on Monday the Philippines’ decision to cut the social distancing minimum to 30 centimetres (12 inches) on public transport, as the country saw another daily record in newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Reducing gaps between passengers incrementally to a third of the 1 metre minimum could backfire, experts and medical professionals warned, and prolong a first wave of infections that the Philippines has been battling since March. The new rules took effect on Monday, when the country reported 259 new confirmed deaths, a record for the second time in three days. Total fatalities increased to 4,630, while infections have doubled in the past 35 days to 265,888, Southeast Asia’s highest number.
Still closed, Irish pubs show shortcomings of slow lockdown exit
Ireland’s plan to reopen its economy at a slower pace than most was supposed to ensure a more sustainable rebound from the COVID-19 crisis. Tell that to pub owner Paul Moynihan. Eagerly awaiting a promised July 20 reopening of non-food pubs, he spent 10,000 euros ($11,855) on a beer garden at his establishment in the village of Donard hoping some late summer trade would help compensate the sudden March closure. But the government moved the date three times and those pubs are now only due to open their doors on Sept. 21 - even though infection rates are 10 times more than late July.
Partisan Exits
Dozens defy new 'rule of six' at anti-lockdown protest in Nottingham, UK
Dozens defied the government's new 'rule of six' guidelines and attended a "COVID truth tour" protest in Nottingham on September 14.
Anti-lockdown protests have brought together a coalition of freedom advocates from across Melbourne
Up to 250 people went to the rally against lockdown held at Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market on Sunday. Mounted police and heavily armed riot police quickly converged on the area and made dozens of arrests. Police arrested 74 people and handed out 176 fines during the lockdown rally after arresting 14 a day earlier Ugly scenes erupted as police swiftly worked to arrest the protesters, which included mostly young people. Police had earlier goaded protesters during an inflammatory press conference held by top cop Luke Cornelius. Assistant commissioner took another swipe at protesters, declaring he was fed up with their 'selfish antics'
'Only Wuhan' surpasses Melbourne for 'severe and disgraceful' lockdowns
Sky News host Rowan Dean says only Wuhan has had “more severe and disgraceful lockdowns” than Melbourne. “It is shocking what is going on in Victoria,” Mr Dean said. “There is no justification on earth for the curfew. He made the bloody thing up. “May people forget about him and wipe his name from history. What he’s doing to Victoria is a disgrace, a worldwide disgrace.”
Australia lockdown tearing nation apart; ignites talk of secession
A torrid row over Australia's state border closures has pushed the country's prime minister to tears, sparked bitter recriminations among rival regional leaders and even talk of secession. Travel between the nation's independent-minded states and territories has been mostly banned since Covid-19 hit Australia in March. But an unhappy federal government is ratcheting pressure on premiers to open up, sending the argument into overdrive. Campaigning media coverage has highlighted the plight of grieving families separated by the closures and targeted state officials they deem responsible.
Police arrest 74 people at Melbourne coronavirus anti-lockdown protest
Police arrested 74 people on Sunday as anti-lockdown protesters massed in Melbourne for a second day, with some throwing fruit at police after raiding market stalls. About 250 protesters chanting “Freedom” and “Power to the people” were encircled by officers at Queen Victoria Market. Footage of violent scuffles was posted online with officers on horseback riding through groups of protesters inside the market, and heavily armoured riot squads lined up beside rows of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Suspended nurse at the centre of anti-lockdown protests called NHS 'the new Auschwitz'
A leading anti-Covid-19 lockdown campaigner, with a fascination for a dangerous conspiracy theory that places prominent Jews at the centre of a corrupt cabal, has branded the National Health Service “the new Auschwitz.” Kate Shemirani – one of the leading figures in a movement that has united QAnon obsessives with far-left and far-right activists – also repeatedly shared images of Adolf Hitler, the swastika symbol, and made references to the gas chambers in a flurry of online posts. The nurse, currently suspended from practising pending an investigation into her spreading of untruths about the virus, vaccines and the 5G telephone network, deemed that current measures by the government to tackle the pandemic were comparable to the Nazi Holocaust.
Winston Peters says provinces should not be in lockdown
There was no reason for the whole of New Zealand to be in lockdown, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said when visiting Dannevirke on Sunday. Peters was accompanied by New Zealand First member of Parliament Ron Mark. "I know we are living in different times, but I have made my position very clear. I see no reason for this country to be in lockdown. In this part of the world the last case of Covid-19 was in April. This country needs an injection of common sense." Peters said the virus could be contained in Auckland but what should have been done was to bring in the military at New Zealand's borders right at the start.
Scores arrested at protests in Australia's coronavirus hotspot
Police in Australia’s Victoria state arrested 74 people and fined 176 for breaching public health orders as scattered protests against a weeks-long coronavirus lockdown continued for a second straight day across Melbourne. A riot squad marched through fruit and vegetable stalls at the city’s landmark, the Queen Victoria market, before the scuffling with protesters erupted, with some people throwing fruit at the police, television footage showed. Victoria Police said in a statement that there were between 200 and 250 people involved in the protests, but there were no immediately known injuries to the police.
Police right to not stop anti-lockdown protesters - science denial expert
Calls for more punitive action against anti-lockdown protesters, are being dismissed as unnecessary by organisers and some scientists alike. One of the organisers of the lockdown protest in Auckland yesterday, Advance New Zealand co-leader Jami-Lee Ross, said he had no concerns about thousands of people flouting the Covid-19 restrictions. Protesters failed to observe social distancing and very few were wearing masks, sparking fears they could have spread the virus further. Ross said protesters were reminded of the rules.
Continued Lockdown
Stuck on the launchpad: How coronavirus is trapping our young people
Ms Thomas, 19, is not alone. She is among the 320,000 people aged between 15 to 24 whose jobs disappeared between March and May. While in other parts of Australia the recovery is under way, Victoria’s youth employment numbers are bumping along the bottom. According to research by Dr Jenny Chesters from the University of Melbourne’s Youth Research Centre, being out of work at the beginning of their productive lives could have long-term consequences for young people. The damage to self esteem from years of rejection stayed with them.
Coronavirus Australia: Melbournians escape stage four restrictions by moving to countryside
Melburnians are taking extreme measures to escape the city’s stage four lockdown by upping and moving to the countryside, which has recorded far fewer cases of coronavirus. Real estate agents and academics have noticed an uptick in interest in regional centres around Melbourne, particularly concentrated in areas like Castlemaine and Bendigo. The demand for rural properties is so high that sometimes a property is listed in the morning and it’s sold by the afternoon, according to Rob Waller from Waller Realty in Bendigo.
'We need to keep our eyes on that prize': Jacinda Ardern extends New Zealand's coronavirus restrictions
Jacinda Ardern's cabinet has split over a decision to extend COVID-19 restrictions across New Zealand for an additional week. On Monday, the Prime Minister announced New Zealanders would retain the current social distancing and gathering caps until next week at the earliest. New Zealand enjoyed 102 days without community transmission of the virus over winter but Auckland returned to lockdown last month when new cases emerged. With a tail of cases still being identified by health authorities, including one new case on Monday, Ms Ardern's cabinet made a majority decision not to relax its current restrictions this week.
Alert Level 2 Continuation A Slap In The Face To New Zealanders
“Keeping New Zealand at Alert Level 2 shows the Government has failed at its Covid-19 response,” says ACT Leader David Seymour. "The Government says it has done a great job, and we must stay locked down. They cannot have it both ways. Either the Government has failed, or the restrictions can be lifted. “Six months into this epidemic, the only tool the Government has is lockdowns. This approach is not sustainable “New Zealanders are understandably becoming increasingly frustrated at the rules and restrictions they’re facing because the Government didn’t go hard or early enough.
India reports over 94,000 new coronavirus cases, over 1,000 more deaths
India reported 94,372 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, taking total cases past 4.7 million, as infection numbers rose in several states amid a gradual opening up of businesses. The number of deaths rose to 78,586, with 1,114 new deaths, health ministry data showed. While several states showed a rise in infections, including the capital New Delhi and the central Chhattisgarh state, the highest numbers were from the India’s biggest and richest state, Maharashtra, which reported 8,204 fresh cases. Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in a news briefing on Sunday urged residents to wear masks and maintain social distancing, amid growing fatigue over a drawn-out lockdown that has made many lax about taking precautions.
Scientific Viewpoint
UAE announces emergency approval for use of Covid-19 vaccine still under trial
Emergency use of the vaccine, which is still being tested, was granted after a set criteria and after it had been tested on 31,000 volunteers, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority. The announcement comes amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases in the UAE
Vietnam speeds up production of Covid-19 vaccine
The Covid-19 vaccine research and development project in Vietnam has shown positive progress with a fairly high immune response to the vaccine antigens. Vietnam is striving to accelerate the progress of Covid-19 vaccine research, Kinh Te & Do Thi reported. Vietnam’s Prime Minister has asked the Ministry of Health to focus on coordinating with ministries and agencies to disseminate and guide the implementation of measures to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic in the new normal.
Coronavirus: vaccine scandals haunt China’s winter flu shot drive
Yi has never had a flu jab before – even though her company pays for it – but this year she has called several clinics to make an appointment. “I’m always too busy. But this year is different. I must get a jab,” Yi said. The rush is on to get inoculated before a possible winter revival of the coronavirus pandemic, which could overwhelm the health system. China is ramping up production of the shots in anticipation of much higher domestic demand but even if all the doses are used, only a small proportion of people will be vaccinated, with many deterred by cost, lack of access and fresh memories of pharmaceutical scandals.
Researchers gain head start in coronavirus vaccine race
Cell and gene therapies have made impressive progress in recent years but have rarely grabbed the headlines. Now the coronavirus pandemic, and the race to develop vaccines and treatments, have pushed them into the global spotlight. Advocates say that their potential efficacy, and the speed with which testable doses can be developed, may give them the edge over more conventional approaches.
Britain bets on another coronavirus vaccine with £1.3billion investment in Scottish factory
Valneva is creating a vaccine using damaged versions of the coronavirus. Company will manufacture 190million doses in Scotland as part of its deal. The jab is expected to have two doses, meaning UK would need 133million
China says no need to vaccinate entire population against Covid-19 at this stage, only frontline workers
Not everyone in China will need to get vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the country's top medical official, as Beijing looks to prioritize frontline workers and high-risk populations in a move that underscores rising confidence among policy-makers of their ability to contain the virus. "Since the first wave of Covid-19 appeared in Wuhan, China has already survived the impact of Covid-19 several times," Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said at a vaccine summit in the city of Shenzhen on Saturday, according to state-run news agency China News Service.
A COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Only 50% Effective. Is That Good Enough?
As we get closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s exciting to imagine a day when the virus is gone. But a vaccine will not be a magic bullet. In fact, it may be only about 50% effective. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Health and Infectious Disease, has tried to set realistic expectations when discussing the importance of a vaccine. “We don’t know yet what the efficacy might be. We don’t know if it will be 50% or 60%,” Fauci said during a Brown University event in August. “I’d like it to be 75% or more,” Fauci said, but he acknowledged that may not be realistic. The Food and Drug Administration has said that once a vaccine is shown to be safe and at least 50% effective, it could be approved for use in the U.S.
China Begins Human Trial for First COVID-19 Nasal Spray Vaccine
China has approved a nasal spray COVID-19 vaccine candidate for clinical trial in humans that could be more effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus through the respiratory tracts and serve as an alternative to painful injections. The nasal spray vaccine candidate against COVID-19 has been developed by the State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases of the University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) in partnership with the Xiamen University (Fujian, China) and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. (Beijing, China).
It’s time to focus on potential long-term organ damage from covid-19
New cases of covid-19 are declining across the country, so it's tempting to wonder whether the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Not by a long shot. Even as cases decline, it is possible we could soon be grappling with the burden of prolonged or permanent organ damage among the millions of people who have survived covid-19. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the long-term effects of this disease, but they could cripple not just these “survivors" but also our health-care system and our economy, too. The latest research suggests that this novel coronavirus does widespread damage to blood vessels far beyond the lungs — and is thus far more dangerous than previously thought.
Drugmaker says anti-inflamatory medicine may shorten COVID-19 recovery time
A drugmaker announced Monday that its arthritis drug shortens the number of days in the hospital for COVID-19 patients when used in combination with Remdesivir, another drug already used widely to treat the disease.
Oxford University scientists to carry out first major trial of a tailor-made Covid-19 'antibody cocktail' on hospitalised patients to see if it treats the disease
The therapy REGN-COV2 will be trialled on up to 2,000 people in UK hospitals. It was developed using immune system antibodies from real recovered patients. Oxford University's RECOVERY trial to compare the drug to standard care. RECOVERY has already proven life-saving potential of steroid dexamethasone
Not enough Covid vaccine for all until 2024, says biggest producer
The chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has warned that not enough Covid-19 vaccines will be available for everyone in the world to be inoculated until the end of 2024 at the earliest. Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, told the Financial Times that pharmaceutical companies were not increasing production capacity quickly enough to vaccinate the global population in less time. “It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” said Mr Poonawalla, who estimated that if the Covid-19 shot is a two-dose vaccine — such as measles or rotavirus — the world will need 15bn doses.
AstraZeneca resumes COVID-19 vaccine trials in UK; awaits regulators elsewhere
AstraZeneca has resumed UK clinical trials for its Oxford coronavirus vaccine, having paused all trials last week for a safety review. Other late-stage global trials, however, remain on hold while AstraZeneca waits for regulators in each market.
At least 2000 patients to receive new Covid-19 therapy in clinical trial
An antibody treatment that could lessen the impact of Covid-19 is to be trialled on patients in UK hospitals. The Recovery trial, co-ordinated by the University of Oxford, will assess the impact of giving patients REGN-COV2 alongside usual standard care to see if it lessens the severity of Covid-19 and can reduce deaths. In June, the Recovery trial, which includes 176 UK hospital sites, found that a cheap steroid called dexamethasone could save the lives of people with severe Covid infection. In the new phase 3 study, at least 2,000 patients will be randomly allocated to receive REGN-COV2 plus usual care, and the results will be compared with at least 2,000 patients not on the therapy.
Extreme poverty 'will double by Christmas' in UK because of Covid-19
Britain’s largest food bank network has warned that UK destitution rates will double by Christmas alongside an explosion in demand for charity food parcels, as coronavirus job and income support schemes are wound down. The Trussell Trust predicts that at least 670,000 extra people will become destitute in the last three months of the year – a level of poverty that leaves them unable to meet basic food, shelter or clothing needs – if the government withdraws Covid support for low-income households. Despite unprecedented demand for charity food since lockdown – 100,000 people used food banks for the first time between April and June – the trust said ending furlough in October would trigger a rise in food bank use of at least 61% – equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 300,000 parcels.
Chief scientist 'told off' for lockdown plea
The government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said he was rebuked for arguing strongly in favour of imposing Covid lockdown restrictions earlier this year, it has emerged. In an email uncovered by a BBC Freedom of Information request, Sir Patrick reveals he was given a "telling off" from other senior officials. Some scientists argue lives could have been saved had a lockdown been introduced earlier. The government insists there was "no delay". In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said government policy had been "guided by the advice of world-renowned scientists".
Sweden’s Covid-19 experiment holds a worldwide warning
Only a fool would draw strong conclusions from sketchy data. The biggest fools this year were those who prematurely declared the spike in Swedish infections from April until June as evidence that the Swedish decision not to lock down their economy was wrong. I recall many armchair epidemiologists hyperventilating about Sweden’s obstinate refusal to follow the rest of the world. Over the summer, Sweden took other steps to control the virus, including local lockdowns, and cases started to rise again in other parts of Europe. Now, Sweden’s new infection statistics look better than much of the EU. But we shouldn’t draw any conclusions yet. It was wrong two months ago to condemn the Swedish strategy based on that data, and it would be equally wrong to draw the opposite conclusion now.
CNN lauds Taiwan's healthcare system for defeating coronavirus
CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria on Sunday (Sept. 13) praised Taiwan for its extraordinary handling of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) and suggested that its universal healthcare system played in an important role. In a program titled "On GPS: Learning from Taiwan's Covid-19 response," Zakaria pointed out that Taiwan is almost always at the top of any list of countries that have handled the pandemic extremely well, with less than 500 cases and only seven deaths. Zakaria observed that the U.S., in contrast, has had 2,000 times the number of deaths and 1,000 times the number of infections as Taiwan per capita.
Cancer tests and procedures halved during lockdown, Medicare data shows
New evidence has shown a sharp drop off in the number of cancer tests and procedures being performed during Australia's first lockdown due to COVID-19. Medicare data from April to May shows that diagnostic services for some of the most common types of cancers fell by up to 50 per cent, according to a report from Cancer Australia. The findings follow months of warnings from health experts that patients should not delay accessing vital health services during the pandemic. According to the report, from March to April the number of colonoscopies – used to diagnose bowel cancers - halved. The number of procedures used to diagnose breast cancer also fell by 37 per cent and treatments for skin cancers were down by 30 per cent, the report showed.
Coronavirus vaccine may not be ready for the public until NEXT winter, government scientific adviser warns
Professor Peter Openshaw warned of nine-month lag in 'scaling up' production. Comes as Oxford University re-started trials of its vaccine on Saturday. And China claimed it had identified a vaccine that is safe and effective
UK signs €1.4bn deal for Valneva coronavirus vaccine
The UK government has inked a €1.4bn (£1.3bn) deal to secure up to 190m doses of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by French biotech firm Valneva. Under the terms of the deal, Valneva will supply the government with 60m doses in the second half of 2021 at a cost of €470m. The UK then has options over 40m doses in 2022 and a further 30m to 90m up to 2025, with total possible revenue of €900m.
Coronavirus: UK to test inhaled vaccines
UK researchers are to begin trials of inhaled coronavirus vaccines. Delivering doses directly to the lungs might give a better immune response than conventional jabs, they say. The Imperial College London team will use two frontrunners already in development - the Oxford one recently paused in trials and one from Imperial that entered human testing in June. There are nearly 180 candidates being explored globally - but none has yet reached the end goal.
Coronavirus vaccine could give 'positive results' by Christmas and 'roll out in 9 months'
A coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out in the UK nine months from now - with trials hoping to report 'positive' results before Christmas, a leading scientist has said. Prof Peter Openshaw, who advises the government's SAGE group, said there were reasons for a glimmer of hope after a major trial was restarted following a patient's unexplained illness yesterday. But he and other scientists made clear a vaccine will not be ready in time for any second wave this winter. Prof Openshaw said "before the winter of 2021/22", there may a vaccine that is effective. But he also cautioned that it would not be available that soon in every country in the world.
Moderna's Late-Stage Coronavirus Vaccine Study Hits 78% Enrollment
Moderna Inc, which is one of the three companies outside of China to have moved its coronavirus vaccine candidates into late-stage trials, is close to completing targeted enrollment into the study. As of Friday, Moderna said it has enrolled 23,497 participants — or roughly 78% of the targeted number of 30,000 — into the Phase 3 study dubbed COVE, which is evaluating its mRNA-1273 against the novel coronavirus. The company further said about 27% of the participants enrolled in the study are from diverse communities. "Working together with collaborators, the company hopes to achieve a shared goal that the participants in the COVE Study are representative of the communities at highest risk for COVID-19 and of our diverse society," Moderna said.
Pfizer proposes expanding Covid-19 vaccine trial to include more diversity as race for a vaccine continues
The race for a coronavirus vaccine shows no signs of slowing as more companies move their vaccine candidates through clinical trials, growing closer to determining which will be considered safe and effective. One such candidate is in development by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which announced along with its German partner BioNTech on Saturday they proposed expanding Phase 3 clinical trials to include 44,000 participants and more diverse patient populations, including people as young as 16. That's up from the initial plan of 30,000 participants, a benchmark they plan to meet next week, according to a news release. The proposal, which would need approval by the Food and Drug Administration, would allow the companies to collect more data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine candidate while diversifying the pool of participants.
Vaccine Makers Keep Safety Details Quiet, Alarming Scientists
Researchers say drug companies need to be more open about how vaccine trials are run to reassure Americans who are skittish about getting a coronavirus vaccine.
Coronavirus Resurgence
Coronavirus: Marseille's Covid-19 hospital beds 'close to saturation'
The use of hospital beds by Covid-19 patients in the French city of Marseille is "close to saturation" amid a sharp spike in infections. Surgeries are being reduced to cope with an incidence rate that has risen to 312 per 100,000 since September. New limits on gatherings are being introduced around Marseille and in the south-western city of Bordeaux. The two cities are the main new hotspots in a country that on Saturday recorded a big surge in cases. The 10,561 new infections over 24 hours represented the biggest rise since large-scale testing began.
Coronavirus: Another 2,621 COVID-19 cases confirmed in UK as 'rule of six' kicks in
Another 2,621 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the UK in the latest daily government figures, taking the total to 371,125. The number of deaths increased by nine, bringing the overall count to 41,637. Monday's cases figure compares with 3,330 confirmed on Sunday - which marked the first time since May that cases had been above 3,000 on three consecutive days. The latest number - reported by Public Health England - is still far less than during the peak of the pandemic, when it's estimated to have been well into the tens of thousands each day.
Seven councils in North East write to government asking for greater lockdown restrictions
Council leaders in the North East are writing to the Government calling for greater lockdown restrictions to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, says Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes. Six parts of the North East are on the Government's official watchlist due to a rise in Covid cases. Speaking to ITV News Tyne Tees on the day the "rule of six" became law, Nick Forbes says representatives from Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland made the "unanimous" decision to request measures, that are currently in place in other parts of England, brought to the region.
UK 'must act fast to stop Covid-19 cases growing exponentially' with country facing 'hard lockdown'
The UK needs to act fast to stop coronavirus cases growing out of control, with a delay of even a few days potentially “dangerous”, an academic who advises the Government has said. Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine, Imperial College London, said a “trickle” of cases can turn into a “cascade”, adding that if people do not abide by the “rule of six” now then the country faces going back into “hard lockdown”. His comments come as concerns grow over an increase in Covid-19 cases in care homes, prompting the Government to send an alert to care providers to highlight the rising rates and to call for action.
Coronavirus: UK faces second hard national lockdown if we don't follow COVID-19 rules, adviser warns
The UK faces another national lockdown "in short order" unless people abide by new COVID-19 restrictions, a government adviser has told Sky News. Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, told Sophy Ridge On Sunday the public "must act fast" to stop the spread of coronavirus. He said: "I think everyone is in agreement that we really need to act very quickly now in order to prevent this from growing exponentially and that's the main point, is that we must act fast because it is so much harder to get this sort of thing under control if you delay even a few days.
Welsh minister warns of possible national lockdown as Covid cases rise
A new national lockdown could be imposed in Wales within weeks unless people follow the updated rules on social gatherings, the country’s health minister has said. Vaughan Gething also revealed that the Labour-controlled government was investigating a range of measures for Wales including imposing curfews to try to control the spread of the virus. He said the same pattern seen in early February as Covid-19 spread across the UK was being observed again. The health minister pointed out that seven weeks later, in the third week of March, Wales, along with the rest of the UK, was in lockdown. Gething told a press conference in Cardiff that there were hotspots of Covid-19 across four areas of south Wales and if people did not change their behaviour there could be a second national lockdown within seven weeks or even sooner.
‘We’ve learned how we need to act’: Spain braces for second wave of Covid
An hour or so before lunch on Thursday, Ángela Falcón stepped out of the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and on to the hot and busy streets of Parla. “I’m scared and I very seldom come out but when I do, I stop by the church to pray,” said the 71-year-old. Like many in Parla, a satellite city of 130,000 people a half hour’s drive southwest of Madrid, Falcón is taking no chances with the coronavirus and its second wave.
France's Bordeaux imposes stricter measures to curb coronavirus spread
Marseille and Bordeaux, two of France’s biggest cities, faced stricter rules on Monday for beach gatherings, visiting the elderly in care homes and attendance at outdoor public events as part of efforts to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. In the past few weeks, France has seen one of the sharpest accelerations in the number of new cases in western Europe. Daily confirmed cases hit record levels last week. “We will reach the point where cases are doubling every eight days,” Philippe de Mester, president of the regional health authority covering the southern city of Marseille, told a news conference. At the peak of the first wave in the spring, new cases doubled every 3.5 days. Even so, doctors say intensive care wards in Marseille are close to full capacity.
Covid cases in France top 10,000-a-day for the first time but Prime Minister rules out new lockdown
France reported 10,561 new infections on Saturday - it's highest daily figure. Spain announced a whopping 12,183 cases on Friday bringing total to 566,300 Prime Minister Jean Castex is determined not to return to 'generalised lockdown' Country recently announced it will pay parents to stay home if schools lockdown
Covid-19: French regions to announce new restrictions
Authorities in Bordeaux and Marseille have announced strict new measures to limit public gatherings in an effort to rein in a rapid surge in Covid-19 cases that risks overwhelming the two French cities’ hospitals. “The virus has accelerated despite the obligation to wear a mask introduced earlier this summer,” Christophe Mirmand, the government’s top official in greater Marseille area, said on Monday. “We need to take action to ensure health services can cope.” Admissions to the city’s intensive care units were following an “exponential curve” and had doubled in the past week, the head of the city’s hospital service said. Even with extra beds added over the weekend, the system was “close to saturation point”.
SW China city vows border crackdown after imported COVID-19 cases from Myanmar
Authorities in the city of Ruili, which borders Myanmar in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, Monday called on border places in the city to enter wartime status requiring them to enhance border management and crack down on illegal border crossings after the city reported two imported COVID-19 cases on Sunday. Eight border prefectures and 25 border counties in the province should enter wartime status immediately, enhancing anti-epidemic measures and border management to prevent imported cases, local officials said at a video conference Monday, local media reported. The authorities also said they would launch citywide coronavirus testing to reduce risk of an outbreak. The city government will spare no effort in strengthening border controls, with a 24-hour closed-cycle management that will be applied to all counties and communities near the border, to ensure there are no illegal crossings from neighboring countries, the People's Daily reported Monday, citing another video conference by the Ruili government on Sunday.
New Lockdown
Police urge people in England to respect Covid ‘rule of six’
Police chiefs have urged the public in England to take personal responsibility and observe the new “rule of six” regulations following a weekend rife with illegal gatherings. Overall crime dropped dramatically during the coronavirus lockdown, when police were handed powers to enforce regulations designed to limit the spread of the disease. But Martin Hewitt, the chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said demand for the police was now close to that before the outbreak of the pandemic and urged the public to do their part by limiting gatherings indoors and outdoors to six people. Hewitt said: “Preventing the spread of coronavirus is a shared effort, and police are playing our part alongside government, businesses, hospitality owners, local authorities and others.
Hunting in England exempt from 'rule of six' Covid-19 restrictions
Grouse shooting and hunting with guns in England are among outdoor activities exempted from the government’s “rule of six” coronavirus regulations. Confirmation that the latest health protection regulations permit groups of up to 30 to take part in any “sports gathering” was published only minutes before coming into force. According to one report, an internal government row over whether bloodsports should be exempted was alleged to have delayed their release.
Do children count in the ‘rule of six’? How kids fit into the new lockdown restrictions around social gatherings, explained
The new “rule of six” restrictions for social gatherings have now come into effect in England. It is now illegal to meet more than six people either indoors or outdoors, with police able to fine those who do not comply. But there has been some confusion as to whether children count, and also how the rule applies to larger families.
Israel to reimpose virus lockdown as WHO reports record cases
Israel said it will reimpose a national lockdown to battle a coronavirus surge, as the number of daily infections around the world reached a record high. The Israel lockdown will last three weeks starting Friday, keeping people to within 500 metres (yards) of their homes. It is the first developed economy to take such drastic steps to contain a second wave of infections. "I know these measures will exact a heavy price from all of us," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Which other countries have had a second lockdown as Israel imposes fresh restrictions?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late last night that Israel is going into a second national lockdown following soaring infection and death rates from coronavirus. The lockdown will last for three weeks and will come into effect at 2pm on Friday September 18 – coinciding with the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashana. During the three-week period, all restaurants, shops and recreational facilities will be closed. Schools will also close and the public will not be allowed more than 500 metres from their homes.
Israelis brace for new coronavirus lockdown
Israelis reacted with anger and dismay Monday at an imminent nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing one of the world's highest novel coronavirus infection rates. "It's unfair!" lamented Eti Avishai, a 64-year-old seamstress, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a three-week lockdown will start on Friday. "They didn't stop the big gatherings in synagogues, the weddings and the other events, and now I can't be with my children and grandchildren during the holidays?" she added. The shutdown will be implemented hours before the start of the Jewish New Year and the High Holidays, which also include the Day of Atonement and Sukkot.
Business braces for impact as Jakarta heads into second lockdown
The markings of a rollercoaster year are plastered over Sutiwet’s small Jakarta restaurant – plastic barriers on the counters, stickers on the glass urging customers to wear masks, and a gallon of water out front for people to wash their hands. But just as life in the Indonesian capital was starting to return to normal, the city’s 10 million residents are heading into partial lockdown for the second time. Jakarta’s tightened social restrictions, effective from Monday for two weeks, mean businesses, malls and houses of worship can only operate at limited capacity, while dining in at restaurants and cafes is not allowed.