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Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Aug 2022

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Moderna Vaccine to Run Out of Stock in Hungary

Those who want to get a Moderna vaccine against the coronavirus should hurry because the last batches are being used at vaccination centers and GPs, according to the official government coronavirus website, koronavirus.gov.hu. Hungary has received 1.7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine under the EU procurement, of which the last doses are now being used for vaccination.
12th Aug 2022 - Hungary Today

Infectious disease experts warn Omicron wave not the last of Australia's COVID-19 pandemic

Health authorities say Australia may have hit its winter COVID-19 peak earlier than predicted. But they warn the virus has repeatedly mutated and different strains still pose a real risk. On August 10, there were 133 deaths and 27,263 new cases recorded nationwide
12th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Long Covid Symptoms: Big Drop in Stress Hormone Cortisol Shown in Study

Striking decreases in the stress hormone cortisol were the strongest predictor for who develops long Covid in new research that identified several potential drivers of the lingering symptoms afflicting millions of survivors. Levels of cortisol in the blood of those with the so-called post Covid-19 condition were roughly half those found in healthy, uninfected people or individuals who fully recovered from the pandemic disease, researchers at Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York found. No one knows yet what causes the constellation of symptoms, often termed long Covid, that afflict some 10% to 20% of people after the acute phase of infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The US government is spending more than $1 billion to learn why it occurs and to devise strategies to treat and prevent the condition.
11th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

North Korea Claims Victory Over COVID-19 and Blames Seoul for the Outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared victory over COVID-19 and ordered preventive measures eased just three months after acknowledging an outbreak, claiming the country’s widely disputed success would be recognized as a global health miracle.
11th Aug 2022 - Time

Covid-19 and Politics: Pandemic Deepened Countries' Divisions, Survey Says

The Covid-19 pandemic created deeper social divisions compared to the beginning of the outbreak, exposing weaknesses in political systems, according to findings of a survey conducted in 19 upper- and middle-income countries. Overall, 61% of respondents said their countries became more divided during the pandemic, according to the recent Pew Research Center survey. The perception of increased social friction was highest in the US, where 81% of those surveyed held that view, and two-thirds said the country’s pandemic response revealed political frailty.
11th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

North Korea declares victory over COVID, suggests leader Kim had it

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared victory over COVID-19 and his sister indicated that he too caught the virus, while vowing "deadly retaliation" against South Korea, which the North blames for causing the outbreak.
11th Aug 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th Aug 2022

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India to start COVID mix-and-match booster vaccines on Friday

India said on Wednesday that Biological E's COVID-19 vaccine Corbevax can be administered as a booster dose in people who have taken the country's other two main shots, Covaxin and AstraZeneca's Covishield, from Friday. Corbevax will be available to over 18s as precautionary booster six months after a second dose, the health ministry said in an Aug. 8 letter to state authorities and shared with reporters on Wednesday.
10th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 Northern Ireland: Expert 'optimistic' autumn wave can be avoided

A leading immunology expert believes high Omicron infection rates should protect the general population against an autumn wave of Covid — unless a new variant emerges. Professor of Experimental Immunology, Kingston Mills, has also said it would be a mistake to offer vaccine booster doses before an updated, and more effective vaccine, becomes available in Europe over the coming months. During the most recent study week between July 14–July 20, the Department of Health estimated that 113,400 people in Northern Ireland had Covid-19 — around 1 in 16 people. In the week ending July 29, the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reported 22 Covid-related deaths, taking the total to 4,774 since the pandemic began.
10th Aug 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

People vaccinated against Covid share common symptom after testing positive

While it may be widely known that common symptoms of Covid include fatigue, a sore throat, and headaches, there is another widespread symptom being cited among sufferers. According to data gathered by the ZOE Health Study app, diarrhoea is a common symptom of Covid for vaccinated Britons. “It usually lasts for an average of two to three days, but can last up to seven days in adults,” the ZOE team said. The data found this symptom has become less prevalent with each variant, as nearly a third of adults aged over 35 reported having diarrhoea during the Alpha wave, while just one in five said they experienced it during the Omicron and Delta waves. The people who experienced it during the latter two waves had been vaccinated either twice or had also received their booster jab.
10th Aug 2022 - The Independent

Commuting in, DIY out: UK’s new ‘new normal’ after end of Covid controls

Britain’s love for green fingers and blackened thumbs during the first Covid lockdown has since evaporated as people again find a “new normal” after the ending of restrictions, a survey suggests. The amount of time people spent gardening and doing DIY soared in March and April 2020, with people spending 40 minutes a day improving their homes and gardens compared with just 15 minutes in 2014-15. But it plummeted back to 20 minutes a day in March 2022, Office for National Statistics data shows. Lockdown lie-ins are also a thing of the past, with people sleeping 30 minutes less than they did in early 2020, while the amount of time people spend watching television and streaming is down by 34 minutes on average.
10th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

The US is on a Covid plateau, and no one's sure what will happen next

The United States seems to have hit a Covid-19 plateau, with more than 40,000 people hospitalized and more than 400 deaths a day consistently over the past month or so. It's a dramatic improvement from this winter -- there were four times as many hospitalizations and nearly six times as many deaths at the peak of the first Omicron wave -- but still stubbornly high numbers. And there are big question marks around what might happen next, as the coronavirus' evolution remains quite elusive 2½ years into the pandemic. "We've never really cracked that: why these surges go up and down, how long it stays up and how fast it comes down," said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research. "All these things are still somewhat of a mystery." BA.5 remains the dominant subvariant in the US for now, causing most new cases as it has since the last week of June
10th Aug 2022 - CNN

Californians are staying infected with the coronavirus for a long time. Here’s why

Health officials recommend that anyone infected with the coronavirus isolate for at least five days. But for many, that timeline is becoming overly optimistic. The isolation period, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened in December from 10 days to five, is more a starting point than a hard-and-fast rule in California. According to the state Department of Public Health, exiting isolation after five days requires a negative result from a rapid test on or after the fifth day following the onset of symptoms or first positive test — a step not included in federal guidelines. But many people don’t start testing negative that early. “If your test turns out to be positive after five days, don’t be upset because the majority of people still test positive until at least Day 7, to Day 10 even,” Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, said during a briefing Thursday. “So that’s the majority. That’s the norm.” The isolation period, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened in December from 10 days to five, is more a starting point than a hard-and-fast rule in California. According to the state Department of Public Health, exiting isolation after five days requires a negative result from a rapid test on or after the fifth day following the onset of symptoms or first positive test — a step not included in federal guidelines.
10th Aug 2022 - LA Times

WHO: COVID-19 deaths fall overall by 9%, infections stable

The number of coronavirus deaths fell by 9% in the last week while new cases remained relatively stable, according to the latest weekly pandemic report released by the World Health Organization Wednesday. The U.N. health agency said there were more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths in the last week and nearly 7 million new infections. The Western Pacific reported a 30% jump in cases while Africa reported a 46% drop. Cases also fell by more than 20% in the Americas and the Middle East. The number of new deaths rose by 19% in the Middle East, while dropping by more than 70% in Africa, 15% in Europe and 10% in the Americas. The WHO said that the omicron subvariant BA.5 remains dominant globally, accounting for nearly 70% of all virus sequences shared with the world's biggest publicly available virus database. The agency said other omicron subvariants, including BA.4 and BA.2, appear to be decreasing in prevalence as BA.5 takes over.
10th Aug 2022 - Journal Review


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th Aug 2022

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Despite awareness of COVID-19 risks, many Americans say they’re back to ‘normal’

Many Americans know of the potential risks to themselves and their families from infection with Covid-19, but growing numbers say they have returned to living their “normal” pre-pandemic lives, according to July 2022 national survey data from the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC). Increasing numbers say they personally know someone who has died from Covid-19 and personally know someone who has suffered the lingering effects such as neurological problems and fatigue that are commonly known as “long Covid,” according to the APPC survey, which was conducted July 12-18, 2022. Despite awareness of the continuing risks of Covid-19, worries about its health effects have declined, the percentage of Americans who often or always wear masks indoors with people from outside their household has plummeted, and the number saying they have returned to living their “normal, pre-Covid-19 life” has more than doubled over the past six months.
9th Aug 2022 - EurekAlert!

Norwegian Cruise Line removes mandatory Covid vaccine requirement from September

Norwegian Cruise Line has removed its mandatory Covid vaccine requirements for its cruises beginning on September 3, 2022. Norwegian Cruise Line issued a statement on the removal of its mandatory Covid vaccine requirements, that read: “As the world continues to open up, luring travelers to explore their favorite destinations once again more freely, we have updated our health and safety protocols to further align to those of the broader travel, leisure and hospitality industry worldwide.” “The relaxation of global protocols and travel requirements, makes it easier for guests to return to sea with us. As such, for sailings beginning September 3, 2022, all travellers are invited to sail with us once again, regardless of vaccination status.”
9th Aug 2022 - Euro Weekly News

People ‘still travelling less and exercising more than before Covid’

People are still travelling less and exercising more than they did before the pandemic, despite the scrapping of most Covid-19 restrictions earlier this year, new analysis suggests. Working habits appear to have undergone a permanent change – though the amount of time spent sleeping and resting has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The way people use their time has been studied since 2014/15 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with the latest figures capturing behaviour in March 2022, when almost all the UK’s coronavirus rules had been lifted. Adults spent an average of 52 minutes a day in March this year travelling, such as driving or walking, to places, the stats show. This is up from 32 minutes in March 2021, when many Covid-19 restrictions were still in place, but well below the figure of 84 minutes in 2014/15.
9th Aug 2022 - Evening Standard

How We Mourn Covid’s Victims

Piece by piece, the Covid-19 sanctuary was born on a hilltop in the town of Bedworth in central England. The process was meant to be a metaphor for a human life. Like bones fused over time, it grew taller as the memorial’s creators spent months joining intricate pieces of wood into a skeletal structure that finally stood on its own, 65 feet high. Then they burned it all down. There have always been monuments to commemorate the loss of life from calamitous events, such as the thousands of memorials dedicated to world wars, the Sept. 11 attacks, the Holocaust.
9th Aug 2022 - The New York Times

Post pandemic Britons still spend more time working from home - ONS

British workers are spending more time working from home compared with pre-pandemic times despite the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, according to official data released on Tuesday that offered a glimpse of what the 'new normal' looks like. In March 2020 the global coronavirus outbreak triggered a radical redesign of swathes of the world economy, forcing many firms and their workers to give up on the office temporarily and adapt to working from home.
9th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Jack Dorsey Tweets 'End the CCP' After China Covid Report

Twitter Inc. co-founder Jack Dorsey tweeted the words “end the CCP” over the weekend in response to a report about China’s strict Covid-19 measures. Dorsey, who’d been chief executive officer at Twitter until November, tweeted his terse message, ostensibly referring to China’s Communist Party, while quoting a CNN report about the rigorous testing and app-based contact tracing implemented by Beijing. He didn’t elaborate on his reasoning.
9th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Biden Cleared to Resume Public Events After Negative Covid Test

President Joe Biden tested negative for Covid-19 for a second consecutive day, ending more than two weeks spent mostly self-isolating at the White House. The latest antigen test for Biden, 79, came back negative on Sunday morning, presidential physician Kevin O’Connor said in a letter released by the White House. “He will safely return to public engagement and presidential travel,” the doctor said. “I’m feeling great,” Biden told reporters outside the White House. Biden’s diagnosis, including a so-called rebound case after he received Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral drug Paxlovid, has hampered his political schedule ahead of midterm elections in November, though he has done a series of virtual events.
9th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

UK Economy Likely Hit Worst Slump Since Lockdown With GDP Shrinking

The UK economy probably shrank for the first time since the nation was in a coronavirus lockdown at the start of 2021, adding to pressure for action from the contenders vying to take over as prime minister. Gross domestic product for the second quarter probably shrank 0.2%, according to a survey of economists by Bloomberg News ahead of the official figures due to be published this week.
9th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Analysis: More Chinese women delay or give up on having babies after zero-COVID ordeal

Seeing Chinese authorities exercise extraordinary powers during a stringent COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai earlier this year altered Claire Jiang's life plans: she no longer wants to have babies in China. During the April-May lockdown, the hashtag "we are the last generation" briefly went viral on Chinese social media before being censored. The phrase echoed the response of a man who was visited by authorities in hazmat suits threatening to punish his family for three generations for non-compliance with COVID rules.
9th Aug 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Aug 2022

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Why K-12 schools aren’t requiring students to get Covid-19 vaccines

For the third summer in a row, school leaders are facing the question of what — if anything — they’re going to do to stop the spread of Covid-19 when students return to classrooms. One thing is clear: Almost none of them will be requiring vaccines. Just 31 percent of children between 5 and 11 in the US have been fully vaccinated, and 61 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have been. (Only about 3 percent of children under 5 had received a first dose by July 20.) Still, no state in the country is planning to require student vaccinations, a marked turnaround from where things seemed to be headed last winter, when multiple states and school districts suggested vaccine mandates were coming soon.
8th Aug 2022 - Vox.com

What it would mean for Japan to downgrade its COVID classification

Calls are growing once more to consider downgrading Covid-19 to a level of disease classification similar to that of influenza, despite cases surging,
8th Aug 2022 - The Japan Times

Thailand to Lower Covid-19 to Same Disease Category as Influenza

Thailand will downgrade Covid-19 from a “dangerous” communicable disease to one that “needs monitoring” starting from October, as the country’s virus situation has started to stabilize, according to the Ministry of Public Health. The move, which will remove Covid-19 from the same category as plague and smallpox to the same level as influenza and dengue, is to reflect the reality of the situation in Thailand, said Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. The move reflects Thailand’s health-system readiness, availability of treatments and “appropriate self-protection behavior” of people around the country, Anutin said in a statement.
8th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Chile's Easter Island reopens to tourists after pandemic shutdown

Chile's Easter Island received its first group of tourists on Thursday after closing its borders for more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Easter Island, over 2,000 miles (3,219 km) from the coast of Chile, has over a thousand stone statues -- giant heads that were carved centuries ago by the island's inhabitants -- which have brought it fame and UNESCO World Heritage Site status. "(Easter Island) is the biggest open air museum in the world," said Pedro Edmunds, the mayor of Easter Island, adding that it was time to open the island after it shut its borders 868 days ago.
8th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Colleges, Parents Fight in Court Over Tuition Charged During Pandemic Closures

Colleges and universities faced a barrage of lawsuits in the peak pandemic days of 2020 after schools shut down their campuses and moved classes online while charging students their usual tuition rates. Two years later, the Covid-19 tuition wars are building toward a decisive phase. A number of courts have issued rulings that provided a boost to students and parents seeking refunds, including last week in a case against a small private university in California. That decision followed a recent federal appeals court ruling that allowed claims to proceed against Loyola University Chicago. But those rulings stand in tension with other decisions for schools that said students don’t have valid claims. Pending cases from higher-level courts could bring more clarity.
8th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

COVID lockdown turns Chinese tourist hotspot Sanya into nightmare for stranded tourists

When Chinese businesswoman Yang Jing was planning this year's summer holiday in 2021, she chose the tropical southern island of Hainan because of its nigh-perfect COVID track record. The island in the South China Sea recorded just two positive symptomatic COVID-19 cases in the whole of last year. Fast forward to this month, however, and the number of cases has suddenly soared, prompting a lockdown in the city of Sanya and leaving tens of thousands of tourists like Yang stuck on the island
8th Aug 2022 - Reuters

BioNTech reports strong first half, expects demand to grow

BioNTech, which teamed with Pfizer to develop a powerful COVID-19 vaccine, has reported higher revenue and net profit in the first half of the year and expects demand to grow as it releases updated vaccines to target new omicron strains. The German pharmaceutical company said Monday that revenue hit about 9.57 billion euros ($9.76 billion) in the first six months of 2022, up from nearly 7.36 billion euros in the same period a year earlier. But revenue dropped to about 3.2 billion euros in the second quarter from 5.31 billion euros in April through June of last year. BioNTech said the dynamic nature of the pandemic has led to changes in orders and revenue but that it expects a strong end to the year. It said it plans to release revamped vaccines tailored to the latest omicron variants as early as October, which could lead to a fall booster campaign.
8th Aug 2022 - The Associated Press


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 8th Aug 2022

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CDC: 85% of Americans Should Be Wearing a Mask Indoors or Considering It

Nearly 85% of Americans should be wearing a mask while indoors in public spaces or considering the measure, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over 55% of the U.S. lives in counties that are considered a “high” COVID-19 community level by the CDC. Under the agency’s guidance, those people should be wearing a mask while inside. More than 29% of the country lives in counties considered a “medium” level where they should consider the measure based on their risk of severe COVID-19. The percentage is a slight decrease over the previous week, when nearly 88% of the population was in a high or medium community level.
7th Aug 2022 - U.S. News & World Report

With second negative COVID test, Biden exits isolation and gets back on the road

U.S. President Joe Biden tested negative for COVID-19 for a second consecutive day on Sunday and ended his isolation at the White House with a trip to his vacation home in Delaware and a reunion with his wife, first lady Jill Biden. Biden has been holed up at the White House for more than two weeks with COVID, leading to canceled trips and events even as his symptoms stayed mild. The president tested negative on Saturday but waited until a second negative test on Sunday before ending his isolation.
7th Aug 2022 - Reuters

The EU says Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine should carry a warning. But this Australian expert says there's 'no major issue'

TGA figures show about 189,200 doses of Novavax have been administered in Australia to 24 July 2022. The EMA has requested more data from Novavax about its vaccine. An Australian epidemiologist says "a very small number of people" have been affected
7th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Desperately seeking nurses: What can be done to retain them?

The pandemic has taken a toll on nurses. Across nations, nurses are quitting in large numbers. In Singapore, they are resigning in record numbers, causing a severe shortage at the hospitals. The Straits Times looks at why they quit and where some of them have gone to.
6th Aug 2022 - The Straits Times

Covid in Schools: Masks, Shots Helped Protect College Students from Infection

Vaccinated and masked college students had virtually no chance of catching Covid-19 in the classroom last fall, according to a sweeping study of 33,000 Boston University students that bolsters standard prevention measures. The researchers screened the college’s health records to find nine sets of students who developed Covid at about the same time, were in class together without social distancing and had no known contact outside school, suggesting that they might have transmitted it in the classroom. However, genome analysis of coronavirus samples from the groups showed that all of them more likely were infected in other places.
6th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Chinese tourist hot spot Sanya imposes COVID lockdown

The southern Chinese beach holiday city of Sanya imposed a lockdown on Saturday and shut its public transport system to try to stop a COVID-19 outbreak during its peak tourist season. Authorities announced the curbs would start at 6 a.m. (2200 GMT), saying the COVID situation was "very severe" and people's movements were being restricted. It did not say when the measures might be lifted. "We urge the general public and tourists to understand and give their support," authorities said in a statement on the city government's WeChat account.
6th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19: North Korea claims to have recovered from outbreak

North Korea says everyone who fell sick since the country confirmed its first Covid-19 infections has recovered. On Friday state media reported zero fever cases for a seventh straight day. North Korea refers to "fever" rather than "Covid" patients due to a lack of testing equipment. The country announced its first Covid outbreak in May and has reported fever infections and deaths since. But there is widespread doubt over the data, especially the number of deaths. "No new fever cases were reported during the past week and all those receiving treatment have recovered across the country," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday.
5th Aug 2022 - BBC News

Long Covid symptoms experienced by one in eight patients, research suggests

One in eight adults are likely to develop long Covid symptoms after being infected with Covid-19, a new study suggests. New research has compared common symptoms of long Covid, such as chest pain, breathing difficulties, loss of taste and smell, in thousands of people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 during the Alpha wave with those who hadn’t been infected. Professor Judith Rosmalen from the University of Groningen, lead author of the study, said: “There is urgent need for data informing the scale and scope of the long-term symptoms experienced by some patients after Covid illness. “However, most previous research into long Covid has not looked at the frequency of these symptoms in people who haven’t been diagnosed with Covid-19 or looked at individual patients’ symptoms before the diagnosis of Covid-19.”
5th Aug 2022 - The Independent on MSN.com

U.S. Schools Spent Millions of Dollars on Faulty COVID Scanners and Cameras

In August 2020, with COVID-19 outbreaks proliferating and back to school plans shifting, U.S. tech vendors popped up, promising a solution. They were selling thermal imaging cameras and scanners that they said could screen large groups of students for virus-related fevers in real time. The catch: they didn’t work. The Daily Beast has found over 200 school districts nationwide that were persuaded to buy these devices between 2020-21 by a number of companies, spending a combined total of more than $11 million. Internal emails obtained through public record requests show how districts were sold technology by an industry which experts compare to the “wild west,” and how now in many instances, the scanners sit dormant in schools, gathering dust.
5th Aug 2022 - The Daily Beast


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Aug 2022

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China's Covid Zero Strategy Could Last Years Under Xi

It’s 2025 in Beijing, five years since the start of the pandemic, and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Covid Zero policy is still an inescapable part of daily life. Residents must get PCR tested every few days at one of the booths on nearly every street corner. A personalized health code app determines who can move around the capital, and where. Children have to test negative to go to the park. Something as simple as a visit to a coffee shop or supermarket can result in being locked down in your apartment, not even allowed out for food – which the state instead provides. Because a few positive cases prompt officials to restrict movement in all or parts of the city, CEOs assume they must deal with several shutdowns a year.
5th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

China Resort Town Sanya Is Covid Hotspot, Stranding Summer Vacation Tourists

The Chinese beach resort city of Sanya has become the nation’s latest virus hotspot with more than 100 Covid-19 cases recorded Thursday, leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded in one of the country’s most popular summer destinations. The city in the southern province of Hainan -- often called the “Hawaii of China” -- reported 107 new infections since noon Thursday, a sharp jump from the 11 cases found Wednesday, according to CCTV. Authorities partially locked down the city on Thursday, closing indoor venues like karaoke parlors and bars. People in areas categorized as high-risk are banned from leaving their homes or lodgings, while others can only venture out of their compounds once every two days to purchase necessities.
5th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Toronto senior diagnosed with rare disorder after COVID vaccine last summer still waiting for compensation

Fernando Caballero misses the way he used to be: happy-go-lucky, the life of the party and the protector of his family. The 67-year-old was active and enjoyed rollerblading in the summer, ice skating in the winter and dancing all year round. But now, he uses a cane or walker to get around and takes several medications for nerve pain to help manage Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) — a rare neurological disorder he developed after getting the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021. He tracks his rehabilitation progress in part by counting how many small dance steps he can do in a row.
4th Aug 2022 - CBC.ca

Covid-19: Unprecedented levels of chronic absence in schools

The impact of the Covid pandemic has resulted in "unprecedented" numbers of children chronically absent from school, the Department of Education (DE) has said. It said the rate of absences was evident from figures it collected during the 2021-22 school year. Chronic absence is classed as missing more than 10% of the year. The children's commissioner in England is concerned some pupils never fully returned to school after lockdowns. An investigation by Dame Rachel de Souza suggested persistent absence from school was at a rate in England almost twice as high as before the pandemic. Previous reports from the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) also said that the pandemic and restrictions had "a severe impact" on children and young people. Most pupils in Northern Ireland were taught remotely out of school for months in 2020 and in early 2021.
4th Aug 2022 - BBC News

U.S. CDC expected to ease COVID-19 guidelines for schools this week - CNN

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to ease its guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19, including in schools as soon as this week, CNN reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the plan. The updated guidelines are expected to ease quarantine requirements for people exposed to the virus and would no longer recommend maintaining a six-feet distance at schools, according to the report.
4th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Covid has settled into a persistent pattern — and remains damaging. It may not change anytime soon

Our tussle with Covid-19 — after a harrowing introduction and then wave upon wave of infections — seems to have settled into a persistent pattern. It may stay that way for a while. While Covid is not nearly the threat it once was, transmission of the coronavirus remains at sky-high levels. At the same time, the death rate has dropped thanks to vaccinations and improved treatments, and the overwhelming majority of people in the United States have developed some level of protection, from shots, a previous infection, or some combination of the two. In some ways, Covid is increasingly looking like other respiratory infections — mild in many people, but sometimes severe in certain high-risk populations.
4th Aug 2022 - STAT News

Economically inactive Britons with long Covid has ‘doubled’ in a year

One in 20 people in the UK who are neither employed nor seeking paid work are suffering from long Covid, with the figure more than doubling in the past year, official data has revealed. The proportion is far higher than for the one in 29 people who are unemployed but seeking work who have long Covid symptoms, or the one in 30 employed people who are sufferers, data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.
4th Aug 2022 - The Guardian


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

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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.
4th Aug 2022 - The Hill

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.
4th Aug 2022 - Reuters

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.
3rd Aug 2022 - The Japan Times

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.
3rd Aug 2022 - Time Out

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."
3rd Aug 2022 - Reuters

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.
2nd Aug 2022 - CIDRAP


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 3rd Aug 2022

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The Guardian view on long Covid: an unknown enemy

How do you tackle a problem when you don’t know what it is? Covid-19 was an unknown enemy, but was quickly identified. Long Covid, its equally unwelcome offspring, is a lesser threat, but is proving harder to pin down. Doctors are clear that it is widespread – yet are not sure how common it is, or how to respond. This is in part because it is an umbrella term for a wide range of symptoms; the World Health Organization says that up to 200 have been recorded, with shortness of breath, brain fog and fatigue the most common, while others range from loss of smell and tinnitus to stomach aches and depression. It may be that five or six separate syndromes are involved. Most of the symptoms have numerous potential non-Covid causes, making it still harder to isolate which are related to the infection.
2nd Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Hong Kong Will First Roll Out Only Sinovac Shot for Infants

Hong Kong will initially offer only one choice when it expands Covid-19 vaccine access to some of its youngest residents: CoronaVac from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Children six months to three years of age will become eligible for the Sinovac shot from Thursday, health care officials said at a press briefing on Tuesday. While a panel of medical advisers recommended that an immunization from Germany’s BioNTech SE should also be available, the government doesn’t yet have access to the proper dose, said Chuang Shuk-kwan, an official at the Health Department’s Center for Health Protection.
3rd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

If You Test Positive for Covid, Can You Still Cancel Flights, Hotels and Travel?

A recent rise in Covid-19 cases is making travel even tougher this summer. The Omicron subvariant BA.5 has been spreading just as people are taking long-awaited vacations. More than half of American travelers report having taken at least one trip in July, according to the most recent survey from Destination Analysts, a market-research firm. But travel hasn’t been easy. Travelers have faced flight delays, cancellations, long lines and lost luggage. Airlines and hotels laid off staff and have struggled to rehire them, which means there aren’t enough baggage handlers, pilots and housekeepers, among others. For those looking to hit the road or travel by plane, the wise move is to plan ahead. Read up on your airline or hotel’s cancellation policy before a trip, consider travel insurance and have a contingency plan in case you do test positive while traveling.
2nd Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong Experts Back Covid Shots Starting at Six Months of Age

A Hong Kong panel of health advisers said children as young as six months old should be offered Covid-19 vaccines from BioNTech SE and Sinovac Biotech Ltd. in an effort to protect the city’s youngest residents, according to Lau Yu-lung, the chairman of the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Disease. The committee unanimously approved both Sinovac and BioNTech vaccines for children aged six months and above, Lau told reporters on Monday evening. “Both vaccines are safe and induces effective immunity, we all agreed on this,” he said.
2nd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

US locks up 66M retooled COVID shots from Moderna

As U.S. regulators turn their attention to revamped, variant-specific COVID-19 vaccines for the fall, Pfizer and Moderna could have their retooled shots ready shortly after Labor Day, according to multiple reports. But while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) late last week inked deals with both companies to initiate a new booster campaign in a couple of months, it warned in its release that this stock would not be enough for every single U.S. resident. The HHS locked up a deal for 66 million doses of Moderna’s bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster candidate. It also inked an agreement to get 105 million bivalent booster doses from Pfizer and BioNTech. Should the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sign off on the updated prophylactics, HHS says it expects to receive its first deliveries of the retooled Pfizer and Moderna shots in “early fall.”
2nd Aug 2022 - FiercePharma

Apple drops mask requirements for most of its corporate workers - The Verge

Apple Inc is dropping its mask mandate for corporate employees at most locations, the Verge reported on Monday, citing an internal memo. This comes even as COVID-19 infections in the United States have been on the rise with the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the Omicron variant accounting for more than 90% of infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2nd Aug 2022 - Reuters

Health officials predict COVID-19 cases will rise once school starts, as millions of kids remain unvaccinated

Health officials predict COVID-19 cases will rise once school starts, fueling community spread, as millions of kids remain unvaccinated and the BA.5 omicron subvariant remains the dominant strain.
2nd Aug 2022 - YAHOO!News

France Ends All Covid-19 Travel Restrictions And Tests

It was one of the last European countries to do so, but this month France has rescinded all its Covid-19 travel restrictions and testing requirements for any travelers entering the country. Crucially, France has come out of the State of Emergency that President Macron's government instigated at the outset of the pandemic, which means that the country requires less bureaucracy of its visitors. As of 1 August 2022, it is no longer necessary to show proof of having had Covid-19, any vaccinations or the results of any testing. Nor is it a requirement anymore to sign an attestation saying that you are devoid of Covid-19 symptoms (that had been necessary up until last week). For both the vaccinated and unvaccinated, it is not a legal requirement either for visitors to justify why they are traveling.
2nd Aug 2022 - Forbes

Biden feels good as he continues to test positive for COVID - White House

U.S. President Joe Biden feels good and is looking forward to getting back on the road as he continues to test positive for COVID-19 and maintains isolation procedures, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday. "He's feeling fine," Jean-Pierre told reporters at a White House briefing. Biden, 79, had just emerged from isolation on Wednesday after testing positive for COVID for the first time on July 21, when he tested positive again on Saturday in what his physician Kevin O'Connor described as a "rebound" case seen in a small percentage of patients who take the antiviral drug Paxlovid.
2nd Aug 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 2nd Aug 2022

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US Pandemic Revamp Raises Worry of 'More Cooks in the Kitchen'

Covid-19 revealed how federal offices and agencies, as well as state and local public health offices, lack coordination or central control. Elevating ASPR is meant to better align some of those functions. But former health officials from the office and other agencies say that the changes don’t provide clarity on which parts of the federal government will be responsible for certain emergency-response activities. They also caution that the office needs additional resources. Nicole Lurie, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response under President Barack Obama, describes ASPR’s role as “the place where all of emergency response sort of comes together,” reporting directly to the secretary of Health and Human Service
2nd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

D.C. Schools covid vaccine mandate rare among national school systems

D.C. students who are 12 and older must be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend school this upcoming academic year. The youth vaccine mandate in D.C. is among the strictest in the nation, according to health experts, and is being enacted in a city with wide disparities in vaccination rates between its White and Black children. Overall, about 85 percent of students between the ages of 12 and 15 have been vaccinated against the virus, but the rate drops to 60 percent among Black children in this age range.
1st Aug 2022 - The Washington Post

How Covid-19 has changed the world's view on education

Coronavirus was a transformative global event. The Covid-19 pandemic affected the whole world and with it came many significant changes. It disrupted and influenced the education sector drastically and affected all students and educators, not just in regard to academics but also in their broader health and wellbeing. Overall, education has become increasingly more flexible and accessible for those across the world. We know now that every curriculum can be taught online – whilst still allowing students to learn alongside their peers meaning that they don’t feel isolated. After the historic period of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most schools across the globe are back to operating again. But the education industry is still massively in recovery and assessing the damage and lessons learned during the global pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic affected more than 1.5 billion students worldwide, with the most vulnerable learners having the greatest impact.
1st Aug 2022 - Independent Education Today

Macau to reopen following COVID-19 lockdown as casinos report record-low profits

The reopening comes as the casinos report their lowest July revenue on record. Macau has reported about 1,800 infections since mid-June. Strict COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place
1st Aug 2022 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Macau to reopen city as no COVID infections detected for 9 days

Macau will reopen public services and entertainment facilities, and allow dining-in at restaurants from Tuesday, authorities said, as the world's biggest gambling hub seeks a return to normalcy after finding no COVID-19 cases for nine straight days. Beauty salons, fitness centres, and bars too will be allowed to resume operations, the government said in a statement on Monday. The announcement came as authorities also reported on Monday that July monthly casino revenues dropped 95% year on year to 0.4 billion patacas ($49.5 million), the lowest on record.
1st Aug 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand's borders fully open after long pandemic closure

New Zealand will welcome all international travellers from July 31. Jacinda Arden says the final stages included welcoming back those on student visas and letting cruise ships and foreign yachts dock in the country. The country imposed some of the world's strictest border controls when COVID-19 first hit
1st Aug 2022 - ABC News

Confessions of a Covid-19 dodger

Lately, most conversation starters revolve around a single question: "Have you had Covid yet?" Then come the tales of when/how/where, the extent of symptoms, and the solemn raise of hands for the chosen few who have not.
1st Aug 2022 - The Straits Times

Londoners Leaving the City in Droves as Covid Trend Persists

The push to leave London sparked by the coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of slowing down even after millions of workers returned to their city center offices. Almost 8% of the British homes purchased outside of the capital were bought by Londoners in the first half of the year, the same proportion as a year earlier when the post-Covid rush kicked off. That’s up from 6.9% in the first half of 2019, the year before the the pandemic struck, according to data compiled by broker Hamptons. Buyers have flocked to the countryside in search of more green space after being cooped up in their homes during a series of lockdowns in 2020, taking advantage of more flexible working patterns and pent up savings.
1st Aug 2022 - Bloomberg


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Aug 2022

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Covid Booster: US to Buy $1.7 Billion of Moderna Omicron-Specific Vaccine (MRNA)

Moderna Inc. said it secured a $1.74 billion contract to supply the US government with its new omicron-specific vaccine. The deal is for 66 million doses of a new booster that includes the existing shot as well as components targeting omicron subvariants of the Covid-19 virus. The agreement also allows the government to purchase another 234 million doses of the company’s booster shots in the future. “Moderna’s mRNA platform is enabling us to rapidly create mRNA-1273.222, a bivalent vaccine that specifically targets omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, the most prevalent variants of concern in the US today,” Stephane Bancel, the company’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.
31st Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Inside the super-secure Swiss lab trying to stop the next pandemic

The setting is straight from a spy thriller: Crystal waters below, snow-capped Swiss Alps above and in between, a super-secure facility researching the world's deadliest pathogens. Spiez Laboratory, known for its detective work on chemical, biological and nuclear threats since World War Two, was tasked last year by the World Health Organization to be the first in a global network of high-security laboratories that will grow, store and share newly discovered microbes that could unleash the next pandemic.
31st Jul 2022 - Reuters

UK Pays Lenders £352 Million So Far to Cover Virus Loan Losses

The UK has paid lenders £352 million ($429 million) to cover losses so far on virus loans to small businesses, a number that’s likely to grow further with £1.6 billion of further claims lodged by the lenders at the end of March. Metro Bank Plc, which lent a total of £1.4 billion under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, has received £122 million as of March 31 after claims for 3,015 loans were processed and payment released, according to a report published Thursday. Barclays Plc received £88 million and Starling Bank £61 million. The £352 million represents about 0.7% of the 1.5 million loans at the end of March. About 3.2% are in the claimed stage, 4% of the loans are in default and 7.4% are in arrears, the data shows.
30th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

How the Covid-19 Pandemic Changed Americans’ Health for the Worse

The ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic’s influence on nearly every aspect of health in America are becoming clear. Covid-19 has killed more than one million people in the U.S., a toll mounting by some 350 people a day. A range of other chronic diseases and acute threats to health also worsened during the pandemic, data show, as people missed screenings, abandoned routines and experienced loss and isolation. “In addition to just the terrible burden of a million Americans dying, there are other repercussions from the pandemic that we need to address,” said Chrissie Juliano, executive director of Big Cities Health Coalition, an organization of city health officials.
30th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

NHS staff with 'disabling conditions' after COVID-19 should be able to claim benefits, say government advisers

By listing health complications from COVID-19 as part of the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme, people affected by the virus would qualify for up to £188.60 in weekly benefits.
29th Jul 2022 - The Pharmaceutical Journal

Japan's factory output zooms as China eases COVID curbs

Japan's factories ramped up output at the fastest pace in more than nine years in June as disruptions due to China's COVID-19 curbs eased, a welcome sign for policymakers hoping the economic outlook will improve. Separate data showed retail sales rose for the fourth straight month in June, supporting the view that rising consumption helped the economy return to growth in the second quarter after contracting in January-March
29th Jul 2022 - Reuters

If you are high risk, do not wait for updated COVID vaccines, experts say

People at high risk of severe disease who have yet to get a second COVID-19 booster should not wait for next-generation, Omicron-targeted vaccines expected in the fall, five vaccine experts told Reuters. In many countries, including the United States, the BA.5 Omicron subvariant of the virus is surging, but current vaccines continue to offer protection against hospitalization for severe disease and death.
29th Jul 2022 - Reuters

AstraZeneca Outlook Raised as Covid Therapies Offset Vaccine Drop

AstraZeneca Plc raised its outlook for 2022 revenue as sales of its Covid-19 therapies offset a decline in its coronavirus vaccine. The UK drugmaker now expects revenues to rise by more than 20% this year, according to a statement Friday that showed its second-quarter earnings beat analysts’ estimates. The positive results, helped by a lower-than-anticipated tax bill, were largely due to Evusheld, AstraZeneca’s Covid antibody therapy for people with compromised immune systems. Sales for the company’s Covid offerings are now expected to remain flat compared to a year ago, erasing a previously estimated drop of 20%. AstraZeneca shares fell more than 3% in early trading before paring back slightly.
29th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

LA Holds Off Reimposing Mask Mandate as Covid Cases Fall

Los Angeles held off reimposing a universal indoor masking mandate as new Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations begin to go down. Local public health officials have been warning for the past two weeks that a mask mandate may be reinstated, after the county surpassed 10 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents and entered a “high” community alert level. However, officials decided to pause a masking order as fresh county-level data indicate the community is likely entering a lower transmission threshold, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters Thursday.
28th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Jul 2022

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When will Covid really be over? Three things that will mark the end of the pandemic

Analysing past epidemics shows us that actual endings are long, drawn-out and contested. Societies must grapple not just with the medical realities of the disease, harms and treatments, but the political and economic fallout from emergency measures, and disputes over who has the authority to declare an end and what should be measured to guide this process. This is why there is so much uncertainty about the current state of Covid-19: different groups have vastly different experiences of the medical, political and social aspects of the epidemic, and different ideas of what an ending may look like.
28th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Russia daily covid cases hit highest since April

Russia reported 11,515 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, authorities said, the highest such figure since April 13. Forty-one people in Russia died of coronavirus over the last day, the country's anti-COVID-19 taskforce said in an update. Russia has recorded 18,565,551 cases of COVID since April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic in the country.
28th Jul 2022 - Reuters

After Biden COVID recovery, admin launches new booster push

President Joe Biden’s administration is launching a renewed push for COVID-19 booster shots for those eligible, pointing to the enhanced protections they offer against severe illness as the highly transmissible BA.5 variant spreads across the country. The initiatives include direct outreach to high-risk groups, especially seniors, encouraging them to get “up to date” on their vaccinations, with phone calls, emails and new public service announcements. All Americans age 5 and over should get a booster five months after their initial primary series, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also says those age 50 and over — or those who are immunocompromised — should get a second booster four months after their first. According to CDC, tens of millions of eligible Americans haven’t received their first booster, and of those over 50 who got their first booster, only about 30% have received their second.
28th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Malaysia's Women Graduates Close Gender Jobless Gap Amid Virus

Malaysia’s female graduates have narrowed the unemployment rate gap with men for a third straight year, yet major differences remain for jobs requiring higher level degrees. The overall jobless rate for 2.476 million women graduates in the Southeast Asian nation declined to 4.3% in 2021, versus 4% for men. That’s a huge improvement from 2018, when female employment was a full percentage point lower than males. Still, much of the shrinkage has been based on lower level diploma jobs, according to data released by the Department of Statistics.
28th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Will Singapore see surge in Covid-19 deaths that New Zealand is facing now?

New Zealand is one of a small number of countries that had done well in curbing Covid-19 infections and deaths over the past two years, with rapid lockdowns and safety measures. But the number of people dying from the coronavirus has surged in recent months - with 168 deaths in the week ending July 25, up from 163 the previous week. Of the 2,093 deaths from Covid-19, more than 2,000 have occurred since March this year.
29th Jul 2022 - The Straits Times

2,390 new Covid cases, 30 more deaths

The country registered 2,390 more Covid-19 in-patients and 29 new fatalities during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Sunday morning, with the number of deaths and severe cases gradually rising over the past week. The new numbers compared with 2,578 new cases and 29 coronavirus-related fatalities reported on Saturday morning. All the new infections reported on Sunday were transmitted inside Thailand.
29th Jul 2022 - ฺBangkok Post

Zoe Tay tests positive for Covid-19, attended two large gatherings recently

Actress Zoe Tay has tested positive for Covid-19, she revealed on Instagram Stories on Wednesday (July 27). Showing herself holding a rapid test with two lines and shaking her head, she also added a sticker with the words "Quarantine Mode On". According to the 54-year-old's Instagram posts, she had in recent days attended two large gatherings. On Sunday, she was at socialite-heiress Kim Lim's birthday extravaganza, a joint celebration for Lim, 31, and her son Kyden, five.
29th Jul 2022 - The Straits Times


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Jul 2022

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Almost 9% have received second Covid-19 vaccine booster

The average percentage of people who have received a second Covid-19 vaccine booster is almost 9% across the country’s Local Electoral Areas (LEAs), new figures show. Data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals that the average rate for a second booster shot was 8.7%, with individual areas ranging from 2% to 15%. The LEAs with the lowest second booster levels are Blanchardstow, Mulhuddart, Tallaght South and Ongar.
27th Jul 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Millions of US children remain unvaccinated as BA.5 spreads and new school year looms

Millions of school-age children in the United States are still unvaccinated against Covid-19 as many prepare for a return to school. A new CNN analysis finds that less than half of children and teens are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and only a tenth have been boosted. Many of the nation's largest school systems -- including Los Angeles Unified, City of Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Clark County in Nevada -- start school next month.
27th Jul 2022 - CNN

Austria ends COVID-19 quarantine for those with no symptoms

People infected with COVID-19 will no longer have to quarantine themselves in Austria if they don't exhibit any symptoms, the country's health minister announced Tuesday.
27th Jul 2022 - Business Standard

Covid-19 Northern Ireland: New symptom spotted as Health Minister extends availability of coronavirus tests

Lateral flow testing for those with Covid-19 symptoms in Northern Ireland is to continue into August, the Health Minister has confirmed. Robin Swann had previously explained the tests would remain available until the end of this month, citing the rising level of cases of the virus both in Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole. It comes as a warning has emerged over a new strain of the virus that could be causing some sufferers to experience night sweats. Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin said the Omicron BA.5 variant - which has contributed to rising cases across the UK and globe – was causing the “strange” symptom.
27th Jul 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Report: NBA will not have vaccination mandate in 2022-23

After some high-profile vaccine-related absences from games last season, the NBA will not have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for players in 2022-23, Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday, citing a memo from the league office it had obtained. The league will "strongly suggest" team personnel stay up-to-date with vaccinations, per the report. Discussions between the league and the NBA Players Association remain ongoing about whether unvaccinated players will be subject to periodic COVID-19 testing during the upcoming season.
27th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Wuhan Locks Down 1 Million Residents in Echo of Pandemic’s Start

A district on the outskirts of Wuhan has been locked down, the first time the Chinese city that saw the world’s first Covid-19 lockdown has imposed such a measure since 2020, underscoring how far the country is from post-pandemic normalcy. More than two years since the city was sealed off to contain what was then a mysterious pneumonia, almost 1 million residents of Wuhan’s Jiangxia district have been told to stay in their homes and not go out unless necessary. All public transport has been stopped and entertainment venues shut for three days after four asymptomatic cases were found in the district on Tuesday.
27th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Jul 2022

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Rise in long Covid sufferers unable to work costs UK £1.5bn a year

Long Covid is costing the UK £1.5bn in lost earnings per year as the number of people off work with the condition rises to almost 2 million, according to new research. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank estimated that 110,000 people are absent from work at any time due to long Covid, with those who were on lower incomes before the pandemic more likely to be sufferers. One in 10 long Covid sufferers who were in employment stop work while they have the condition, the IFS said. The findings will heap further pressure on the government to tackle a problem which is expected to grow further as infections rise again.
27th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Isolation facilities for covid-19: towards a person centred approach

Chuan De Foo and colleagues argue that isolation facilities have the potential to interrupt the transmission of infectious agents, particularly in the earlier stages of infectious disease outbreaks, but they must deliver person centred care. Two years into the covid-19 pandemic, footage from isolation centres in Shanghai showing unrest have raised questions about the safety, utility, and appropriate use of such facilities
26th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

Schools Choose Cheaper Ventilation Options as BA.5 Subvariant Spreads

As the highly contagious Omicron BA.5 subvariant surges across the nation, weeks before schools reopen for fall, most U.S. districts are choosing fast, cheap ventilation solutions despite billions in federal aid, data show. A federal study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found nearly two-thirds of schools aren’t planning to replace or upgrade their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. Instead, about 70% of schools in the CDC survey reported low-cost steps to increase student safety, including relocating activities outdoors, inspecting and validating existing HVAC systems, and opening doors and windows. About a third of schools were installing high-efficiency particulate air-filtration systems in high-risk areas, according to the study released in June. Some schools have cited supply-chain issues, tight deadlines or bureaucratic challenges as reasons for not upgrading.
26th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Calling In Sick or Going on Vacation, Workers Aren't Showing Up This Summer

A rise in Covid-19 absences in recent weeks amid the spread of the BA.5 subvariant, combined with planned time off, has left restaurants, hotel chains, manufacturers and other workplaces struggling to keep operations running this summer. At some companies, bosses say, staffing is harder now than at any previous stage in the pandemic. For the period from June 29 to July 11, 3.9 million Americans said they didn’t work because they were sick with Covid-19 or were caring for someone with it, according to Census Bureau data. In the comparable period last year, 1.8 million people missed work for those reasons. Many workers also are taking vacations that they put off over the previous two years. According to the Labor Department, 4.8 million workers took vacation or personal days during the week of the Census Bureau’s June household survey this year, compared with 3.7 million workers who were taking time off in the comparable period last year.
26th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Joe Biden’s Covid symptoms ‘almost completely resolved’, doctor says

Joe Biden’s Covid-19 symptoms have “almost completely resolved,” according to a new note from the US president’s doctor. Although he still has some nasal congestion and hoarseness, his vital signs remain “absolutely normal,” wrote Dr Kevin O’Connor. The 79-year-old has been taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug that helps reduce the chance of severe illness from Covid-19, and he plans to continue isolating in the White House residence.
26th Jul 2022 - Evening Standard on MSN.com

COVID symptoms almost resolved, Biden says he is feeling great

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday said he was "feeling great," as he recovers from COVID-19, and that he expected to end his isolation and return to normal working conditions by the end of the week. Biden held a virtual event with semiconductor manufacturers and several top administration officials to promote legislation aimed at boosting chip production in the United States. His voice was raspy but he seemed otherwise in good health.
26th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Covid origin studies say evidence points to Wuhan market

Scientists say there is "compelling evidence" that Wuhan's Huanan seafood and wildlife market was at the centre of the Covid-19 outbreak. Two peer-reviewed studies published on Tuesday re-examine information from the initial outbreak in the Chinese city. One of the studies shows that the earliest known cases were clustered around that market. The other uses genetic information to track the timing of the outbreak. It suggests there were two variants introduced into humans in November or early December 2019. Together, the researchers say this evidence paints a picture that Sars-Cov-2 was present in live mammals that were sold at Huanan market in late 2019. They say it was transmitted into people who were working or shopping there in two separate "spillover events", where a human contracted the virus from an animal.
26th Jul 2022 - BBC News

Despite their anger over high drug prices, Americans are giving pharma credit for helping contain Covid-19

Nearly three quarters of Americans give the pharmaceutical industry credit for helping contain Covid-19 — and for a sector that’s been roundly criticized for nearly a decade, that’s a reason to celebrate. A new survey, conducted by the Harris Poll for STAT, asked more than 4,000 people what industries they credit for helping contain the coronavirus, and 71% of those surveyed said that the pharmaceutical industry deserves credit — more than the number who gave credit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, or the White House. The only entities that received a statistically significant amount more credit were hospitals, makers of protective equipment, scientists, doctors, and nurses.
26th Jul 2022 - STAT News


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Jul 2022

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Slow uptake of Pfizer's Covid drug hints at end to sales boom

Sales of Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid have leapfrogged a rival pill developed by Merck and now dominate the Covid-19 treatments market, but slower than expected patient uptake could dent sales over the next six months and beyond. Airfinity, a health data analytics group, said recent data showed the whirlwind pace of new supply deals Pfizer signed had begun to slow because of the lacklustre rollout of a treatment billed as a key tool to help quell the pandemic. By the end of 2022 there could be a surplus of up to 70mn courses of Paxlovid on the global market following an increase in Pfizer’s production and weak demand for a treatment that US president Joe Biden is taking to fight his Covid infection.
25th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

White House to launch effort to develop next generation of Covid vaccines

The Biden administration is preparing a sweeping initiative to develop a next generation of Covid-19 immunizations that would thwart future coronavirus variants and dramatically reduce rates of coronavirus infection or transmission, building on current shots whose impact has been mainly to prevent serious illness and death, the White House told STAT. To kick off the effort, the White House is gathering key federal officials, top scientists, and pharmaceutical executives including representatives of Pfizer and Moderna for a Tuesday “summit” to discuss the new technologies and lay out a road map for developing them.
25th Jul 2022 - STAT News

EU states should act now before winter COVID waves strike, official says

EU member states should start preparing now for a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in autumn and winter, the bloc's health chief said on Monday, saying there had been a "worrying increase" in outbreaks. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides also warned there was no room for complacency, saying the pandemic was not over. "Unfortunately the pandemic has shown a worrying increase in several countries," she told Cyprus state radio.
25th Jul 2022 - Reuters

EU states should act now before winter COVID waves strike, official says

EU member states should start preparing now for a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in autumn and winter, the bloc's health chief said on Monday, saying there had been a "worrying increase" in outbreaks. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides also warned there was no room for complacency, saying the pandemic was not over. "Unfortunately the pandemic has shown a worrying increase in several countries," she told Cyprus state radio.
25th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Defence force to expand aged care support as COVID-19 wave hits sector

The federal government is expanding Defence force support for Australia's coronavirus-stricken aged care sector. More than 200 extra military medical personnel will be deployed to aged care homes in coming weeks, Defence Minister Richard Marles has announced. The move came after aged care providers and trade unions requested Defence force support for the sector be extended beyond the August 12 end date.
25th Jul 2022 - 9News

Xi's Covid Rules and Tech Crackdown Push Gen Z in China to 'Bailan'

The most educated generation in China’s history was supposed to blaze a trail towards a more innovative and technologically advanced economy. Instead, about 15 million young people are estimated to be jobless, and many are lowering their ambitions. A perfect storm of factors has propelled unemployment among 16- to 24-year-old urbanites to a record 19.3%, more than twice the comparable rate in the US. The government’s hardline coronavirus strategy has led to layoffs, while its regulatory crackdown on real estate and education companies has hit the private sector.
25th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Biden's Covid-19 Symptoms Continue to Get Better, White House Says

President Biden’s symptoms are improving after he tested positive for Covid-19 last week, one of his advisers and his doctor said. “He’s doing just fine,” White House Covid-19 coordinator Ashish Jha said Sunday during an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Dr. Jha encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and boosted, and to seek treatment if they contract Covid-19. Mr. Biden is taking Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral drug Paxlovid, which has been approved by federal authorities as a Covid-19 treatment. “This is a president who is double-vaccinated, double-boosted, getting treatments that are widely available to Americans and has at this moment a mild respiratory illness. This is really good news,” Dr. Jha told ABC’s “This Week.”
25th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

H.K. to Cut Hotel Quarantine With Health Code, Report Says

Hong Kong plans to cut hotel quarantine for arrivals with the introduction of a two-color health code system, local media reported on Monday. The government is considering moving to five days of hotel quarantine, after which arrivals will be issued with a so-called yellow health code for two days that would prohibit them from entering high-risk areas where masks can be removed. Another option under consideration is four days of hotel isolation followed by three days of yellow code restrictions, according to Sing Tao, which cited a person it didn’t identify. Hong Kong currently requires seven-day quarantine for arrivals. Separately, the South China Morning Post said authorities could even shorten the hotel quarantine to three days as they put the finishing touches to the China-style health code.
25th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

China's Choice: Covid Zero or Xi's Three Red Lines

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. It’s an expression that warns people not to want things that are inherently incompatible. China would do well to heed this wisdom. In recent years, the government launched quite a few ambitious top policies that would fundamentally alter its economy. At the top of mind was its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the world is living with the virus, China still has no tolerance for outbreaks.
25th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Biden's COVID symptoms have improved considerably, mainly has sore throat -doctor

U.S. President Joe Biden's condition since contracting COVID-19 has improved considerably and his greatest symptom now is a sore throat, his physician said on Sunday. Biden's cough and body aches have diminished since he tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday and he is not experiencing any shortness of breath, the physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, said in a memo released by the White House.
25th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Japan struggles with record-setting seventh wave

Just a few short weeks ago, coronavirus infections in Japan were hovering around the 10,000-cases-a-day level, and there was optimism across the nation that the worst of the health crisis was over and that the summer holidays would be more carefree than the last two years. As it has done in the past, however, the virus has mutated and caused a spike in infections. On Saturday, authorities recorded a record 200,975 new cases. Health experts say the seventh wave to wash over Japan is of the highly transmissible BA.5 omicron subvariant of the virus, with 17 of the nation's 47 prefectures reporting record-high case loads. On Monday, officials confirmed that there have been a total of 11.39 million confirmed cases in Japan, a nation of 125.8 million, and 31,902 fatalities. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called for "maximum caution" among the public, but his government has stated that there are no plans at present to reintroduce the states of emergency that punctuated the first two years of the outbreak in Japan.
25th Jul 2022 - DW (English)


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Covid hits a third of Australia’s aged care homes as 6,000 residents infected

Aged care providers are calling for urgent action to protect residents and staff from a winter Covid-19 wave which is hitting more than one-third of the country’s facilities. The Aged and Community Care Providers Association said 6,000 residents and 3,400 staff were infected in 1,013 facilities as of Thursday. The association’s interim chief executive, Paul Sadler, said 10 to 15% of staff were already isolating or quarantining at home, and the coming weeks will put intense pressure on aged care residents and workers.
24th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Recoveries greater than new cases as COVID total drops

After enjoying almost 2 months of being COVID free, Cambodia today again recorded new COVID cases. Today’s official daily new COVID case total (diagnosed by PCR test) was 20, bringing the COVID case total to 136,565 cases. Cambodia announced 0 new deaths, bringing the total to 3,056 direct deaths from COVID-19 in Cambodia.
23rd Jul 2022 - Khmer Times

China considers further easing Covid quarantine rules

China is considering a further reduction in its quarantine requirements to lessen the economic impact of strict Covid-19 controls. The announcement came on the heels of promises by Premier Li Keqiang this week that China would continue to refine its Covid-19 response with more targeted measures in terms of visa access and testing policies as well as allowing more international flights to China. Wang Liping, an infectious diseases expert with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told a media briefing on Thursday that the centre is constantly looking to improve its epidemic control playbook.
23rd Jul 2022 - South China Morning Post

NZ has mask mandates and isolation, but the Omicron daily death rate is still 'very concerning'

Across the Tasman, New Zealanders who were once asked to lock down over a single case of COVID-19 are now being urged to wear masks as the country records a seven-day rolling average of nearly 10,000 cases a day. Authorities believe there is widespread community infection in every region of New Zealand, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 sub-variant. And for a nation of just 5.1 million people, attention is now turning to New Zealand's daily death rate, which has been among the highest in the world according to one World Health Organization measure.
23rd Jul 2022 - ABC News

Biden's Covid Diagnosis Is a Wake-Up Call for America

The news that President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid should serve as a wake-up call for the rest of us: Almost three years on, the pandemic is still not going very well. Perhaps it’s human nature to put bad news out of mind. Still, one reason so many people have chosen to ignore Covid-19 may be that they are wary, and weary, of public health authorities. If people admit Covid is still a big problem, they are implicitly giving regulators permission to control their lives once again. But people are tired of lockdowns, mandatory testing, canceled school sessions and travel restrictions. And so they are fighting back with the ultimate form of non-violent resistance — forgetting about the issue altogether.
23rd Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

UK Covid Cases Rise to Highest in 3 Months: ONS Data

Covid-19 infections are continuing to rise in England and have reached their highest level for three months, but the trend in the rest of the UK is uncertain, figures show. Hospital numbers also appear to have stopped climbing, though it is too early to say if the latest wave of the virus is starting to peak, experts have cautioned. It comes as a new survey suggests public concern about Covid-19 has dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic began. A total of 3.8 million people in private households in the UK are estimated to have had Covid-19 in the week to July 13/14, up 7% from 3.5 million the previous seven days, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
22nd Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Australia facing nursing shortage as more than two years of COVID takes its toll

Unions say the country is facing a significant nursing shortage and things are only going to get worse. The number of registered nurses in Australia has increased year on year, but the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said there was still a severe shortage. However, the ANMF cannot put a figure on the actual shortfall
21st Jul 2022 - ABC News


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Independent review planned for New York's COVID-19 response

A third-party auditor will review the New York state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including efforts by the administration of the previous governor to downplay the number of deaths of nursing home residents. The state plans to select an auditor, who would have until late 2023 to deliver a final report, under a timeline released Tuesday by the office of current Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat. Initial findings are expected in May. The report will include a planning guide for future emergencies and will explore issues from the transfer of nursing home patients to the reopening of schools and businesses to efforts to purchase needed medical supplies.
21st Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

How Moderna’s Covid Vaccine Boosted Boston’s Real-Estate Market

Things started well when a Pfizer employee agreed on the spot to purchase a 16th-floor condo with views of Boston Harbor for $4.85 million, she said. Two hours later, a Moderna executive honed in on the same unit. When she remarked on the coincidence, Ms. Angelini said, “He just looked at me, completely serious and said, ‘I want the same home, but I need to be one floor higher than Pfizer.’ ” He reserved the option to buy a 17th-floor unit for $4.95 million that day, she said. Ms. Angelini’s buyer is just one in a flurry of Moderna employees who have descended on the Boston-area real-estate market since the company’s blockbuster Covid vaccine helped drive the company to its first profitable year in 2021, more than a decade after its founding in 2010.
21st Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Biden Contracts Covid as Pandemic Shows Its Staying Power

President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, finally contracting the virus whose control and ultimate defeat he had made a centerpiece of his campaign for the White House. Biden’s illness, coming after a five-day trip to the Middle East during which he made few efforts to avoid infection, highlights the endurance of a pandemic that has killed millions of people worldwide and upturned the global economy. Biden, 79, is experiencing mild symptoms and has begun taking Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid treatment for the disease, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said in a memo to staff obtained by Bloomberg. He will isolate at the White House while continuing his duties via phone and Zoom until he tests negative.
21st Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Australia battles fresh Omicron outbreak as COVID deaths rise

Australia reported one of its highest daily death tolls from the novel coronavirus on Thursday while hospital admissions hovered near record levels, as authorities struggle to get ahead of highly contagious Omicron variants. The BA.4/5 variants are good at evading immune protection from vaccination or prior infection and have been driving a surge of new infections globally. Australia is reporting the highest daily numbers since the first Omicron wave earlier this year, with 89 deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday and 90 on Wednesday. Just over 55,600 new cases were recorded on Thursday, the highest since May 18.
21st Jul 2022 - Reuters

Tokyo hits pandemic record on rise of new Covid-19 subvariants

The numbers show a resurgence has taken hold in the Japanese capital ahead of the summer holidays, when travel and activity levels typically soar. Rising cases are forcing leaders to reconsider what steps might be needed to contain the outbreak – may add pressure to slow the pace of reopening to tourists
21st Jul 2022 - South China Morning Post


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Covid. Vacation. Covid.

Public health officials warn that this is no time for complacency. In the United States, BA.5 has become the dominant strain and is driving a significant spike in cases -- more than 120,000 a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though experts say that number may be more like 1 million, given the underreporting of home test results. Europe, meanwhile, has seen a tripling of new Covid-19 infections over the past six weeks, with nearly 3 million reported last week, accounting for almost half of all new cases worldwide. Hospital admissions in Europe over the same period have doubled.
20th Jul 2022 - CNN

China braced for renewed lockdowns as Omicron subvariant spreads

China is at risk of more frequent lockdowns and mass testing as officials struggle to contain the spread of the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant despite the damage pandemic restrictions have already wrought on the world’s second-biggest economy. Forty-one Chinese cities are under full or partial lockdowns or district-based controls, covering 264mn people in regions that account for about 18.7 per cent of the country’s economic activity, according to an analysis released on Monday by Japanese investment bank Nomura.
20th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

Data shows most Hong Kong Covid inpatients are elderly from community

New trend deviates from start of fifth wave when Omicron variant swept across care homes. Officials racing for measures to prevent healthcare system from being overwhelmed
20th Jul 2022 - South China Morning Post

Micronesia last of bigger nations to have COVID-19 outbreak

Article reports that Micronesia has likely become the final nation in the world with a population of more than 100,000 to experience an outbreak of COVID-19. For more than two-and-a-half years, the Pacific archipelago managed to avoid any outbreaks thanks to its geographic isolation and border controls. Those people who flew into the country with the disease didn’t spread it because all new arrivals were required to quarantine. But as has been the case in several other Pacific nations this year, those defenses couldn’t keep out the more transmissible omicron variant forever.
20th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Hospitalisation rates double as COVID cases triple across Europe

The World Health Organization (WHO) says coronavirus cases have tripled across Europe in the past six weeks, accounting for nearly half of all infections globally. Super-infectious relatives of the Omicron variant have been driving the new wave of disease across the continent, with repeated infections potentially leading to long COVID. Although intensive care admissions have remained low, the United Nations’ health agency said on Tuesday hospitalisation rates had doubled. “With rising cases, we’re also seeing a rise in hospitalisations, which are only set to increase further in the autumn and winter months,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s Europe director, said in a statement. “This forecast presents a huge challenge to the health workforce in country after country, already under enormous pressure dealing with unrelenting crises since 2020,” he added.
20th Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Covid-19 Complication Among Children Fades in Latest Wave of Virus

A serious inflammatory complication that strikes some children in the weeks following a Covid-19 infection has almost disappeared. A buildup of immunity and changes to the virus both likely play a part, pediatric infectious-disease doctors and researchers said. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome is afflicting far fewer children as a proportion of known Covid-19 cases than during earlier waves of the pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition, also known as MIS-C, is similar to Kawasaki disease, another rare pediatric inflammatory condition. Early in the pandemic, doctors believed they were seeing Kawasaki disease but soon recognized MIS-C as a distinct condition associated with an earlier Covid-19 infection.
20th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Nurse Burnout Reaches New High as Latest Omicron Variant Surges

Many people may be moving on from Covid, but nurses certainly aren’t — and as the latest variant sweeps the US, the mental stresses on the profession have reached new highs. A survey of 2,500 nurses released Wednesday finds that 64% are looking to leave the health-care profession, a nearly 40% increase from a similar survey a year ago. Three-quarters of those surveyed said they’ve experienced burnout since the pandemic began and half said they had experienced feelings of trauma, extreme stress or PTSD. “Our nurses are the backbone of our health system,” said Dr. Dani Bowie the vice president of clinical strategy and transformation at Trusted Health, a healthcare advocacy group that released the survey. “So, if they're not operating out of their best state, it's very detrimental to the wellbeing of our community and our patients.”
20th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

First case of antibody-avoiding Covid subvariant detected

The first case of Covid-19 attributed to a new antibody-avoiding subvariant, BA.2.75, has been detected in Thailand, but experts do not foresee it causing serious outbreaks, according to the Centre for Medical Genomics. The centre, part of the faculty of medicine at Ramathibodi Hospital, said on Wednesday the subvariant was detected in the southern province of Trang in a sample collected for examination on June 28.
20th Jul 2022 - Bangkok Post

‘None of us has a crystal ball’: Scientists try to keep up with faster coronavirus evolution.

The rapid evolution of the coronavirus into an alphabet soup of subvariants presents a vexing challenge to health officials: They must make far-reaching policy decisions based on little biological certainty of which viral variants will be dominant this fall or winter. The Food and Drug Administration said at the end of June that it would update coronavirus vaccines for a booster campaign in the fall targeting highly contagious Omicron subvariants. But the ground is shifting beneath its feet. In just eight weeks, the subvariant known as BA.5 has gone from a blip in U.S. case counts to the dominant version of the virus in the country, now making up more than three-quarters of new cases. Perhaps the most transmissible subvariant yet, it is pushing up positive tests, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions across the country. There is no evidence that BA.5 causes more severe disease, but the latest metrics certainly bust the myth that the virus will become milder as it evolves.
20th Jul 2022 - The New York Times


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Europe Can't Shake Off Covid as Variant Fuels Summer Spike

It was supposed to be a post-Covid-19 summer in Europe. Masks are gone in most places, and vacation season is in full swing as workers rush for the beaches and cities they missed in the two years marked by the pandemic. But instead, the reality confronting people is that the virus never went away. A super-transmissible subvariant of the omicron strain, known as BA.5, is fueling a fresh increase in infections, with cases climbing across the UK and the continent
16th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Macau to extend city lockdown, casino closure until Friday

Macau's government will extend a lockdown of casinos and other businesses until Friday, as authorities grapple to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the world's biggest gambling hub, according a statement on its website. The lockdown in the Chinese special administrative region had been due to end on Monday. Macau imposed the shutdown last Monday, shuttering the city's economic engine - its casinos - and forbidding residents from leaving their apartments, except for essential activities such as grocery shopping.
16th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Covid Fuels Worst Decline in Childhood Vaccinations in 30 Years

Global childhood vaccination rates experienced the largest decline in about three decades amid Covid disruptions, putting growing number of children at risk from devastating but preventable diseases. The percentage of children who received three doses of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP3) was set back to its lowest level since 2008, falling to 81% in 2021, according to official data published by the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund on Friday. The decline means 25 million children missed out on at least one dose of DTP through routine services in 2021 alone, two million more than in 2020 and six million more than in 2019.
16th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Column: The new economic normal - living with COVID

Central banks are jacking up interest rates to tackle the highest inflation in decades, economic growth is slowing, recession looms, and financial markets are in a deep funk. That's the bleak backdrop against which consumers, workers, and businesses are coming round to the realization that, despite successful global vaccination programs and 'V-shaped' recoveries across economies and markets, COVID-19 has not gone away.
16th Jul 2022 - Reuters

UK to Offer Covid Boosters to Everyone 50 and Over This Autumn

The UK will offer Covid-19 boosters to a wider number of people in the fall as a new wave of infections increases pressure on the health system. Everyone 50 and over will be eligible for a booster shot this autumn under plans to increase protection ahead of winter, the government said on Friday.
15th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


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Spanish response to Covid poverty was too little, too late, report says

The Spanish government’s efforts to tackle the economic turmoil unleashed by the Covid pandemic were “too little, too late and too few”, according to a report that finds thousands of people are still reliant on emergency food aid and facing even greater hardship as prices soar. The Human Rights Watch study, which documents cases of parents skipping meals so their children can eat, says the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated weaknesses in Spain’s social security system. All too often, food banks, community groups and NGOs have had to step in and help people in need – particularly those in informal work who were not eligible for state help. According to the report, which comes as a seventh wave of Covid sweeps across Spain, pandemic poverty has disproportionately affected families with children, older people dependent on state pensions, migrants and asylum seekers, and people working in the hospitality, cleaning, care and construction sectors.
15th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Doctor warns COVID becoming 'too clever' and 'breaking past immune defences'

Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation's special envoy on COVID, urged people to "respect the virus" and warned that precautions still matter, a day after the UK death toll passed 200,000.
15th Jul 2022 - Sky News

IMF says China needs more fiscal, monetary support to fight COVID slowdown

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that China needs to add more fiscal and monetary policy support to combat an economic slowdown brought on by continued COVID-19 lockdowns, but less-restrictive pandemic containment policies also were needed. "We welcome the shift to a more expansionary fiscal policy this year, but even more support would help counter the ongoing growth slowdown," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told a news briefing when asked about the Fund's policy advice for China.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters

AFL lifts COVID-19 vaccine mandate for players and club staff

In Australia, the AFL has removed its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, paving the way for exiled players to return to the top level. Players, coaches and club staff will no longer need two doses of an approved vaccine in order to train and play. The move brings the league into line with government requirements that legislate only specific industries need employees to be fully vaccinated.
14th Jul 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Covid-19: MPs call for greater efforts to reach the unvaccinated and partially vaccinated

MPs have called on NHS England and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to redouble efforts to reach the almost three million adults in England who remain unvaccinated against covid-19 as well as those who are only partially vaccinated. The Public Accounts Committee has challenged the government to reduce the overall number of unvaccinated people to 2.5 million and achieve an 80% uptake for first boosters within four months. The committee’s report on the rollout of the covid-19 vaccine programme acknowledged its early success but said low vaccination rates persist in many vulnerable groups including pregnant women and minority ethnic groups
14th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

Australia athletes barred from other Commonwealth Games venues over COVID risk

Australian athletes will be banned from supporting their team mates at other Commonwealth Games events at Birmingham due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission, team chef de mission Petria Thomas said. They will also have to wear face masks when not in their rooms or exercising at the July 28 - Aug. 8 Games as part of team health protocols.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Japan warns of COVID surge, Tokyo raises alert level

Japan warned on Thursday that a new wave of COVID infections appeared to be spreading rapidly and urged people to take special care ahead of an approaching long weekend and school summer vacations. Tokyo's 16,878 new cases on Wednesday were the highest since February, while the nationwide tally rose above 90,000, in a recent surge of COVID-19 infections to levels unseen since early this year. The Japanese capital marked 16,662 new cases on Thursday.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters.com

Analysis: China makes tweaks, but tough COVID policy still drags on economy,

China has been tweaking its stringent COVID curbs but shows no sign of backing off from its "dynamic zero" policy, and has lagged in vaccination efforts that would enable it to do so, casting a heavy shadow over the world's second-largest economy. The absence of a roadmap out of zero-COVID and expectations that it will persist well into 2023 leaves residents and businesses facing a prolonged period of uncertainty.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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UK Covid Death Toll Passes 200,000 With Omicron Subvariants Sparking New Cases

Britain’s Covid death toll topped 200,000 and could rise further as a new wave of infections driven by highly-contagious omicron subvariants sweeps across Europe. Just over 3% of all deaths last week were linked to Covid-19, pushing the total number of deaths to 200,247 up to July 1, according to the Office for National Statistics. The UK has been hit hard by the pandemic, with one of the highest fatality rates globally and concern rising again as omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 drive a new wave of cases.
14th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

UK Government Seeks to Block Disclosures to the Covid Inquiry

The UK government is trying to block disclosures to the inquiry investigating its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. Officials have asked the government’s top lawyer, Sir James Eadie QC, to assess how much information the administration has to provide to the inquiry about its policy discussions during the pandemic, the people said. Eadie, who is responsible for advising the government on issues of the highest national importance, has advised the Cabinet to limit the scope of information provided to the inquiry and warned ministers they are likely to face vast claims for damages from families of Covid victims.
14th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

U.S. FDA authorizes Novavax COVID vaccine for adults

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of Novavax Inc's COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, clearing the way for a shot whose more traditional technology has raised hopes of wider acceptance among vaccine skeptics. Shares of Novavax rose 1.3% to $70.89 after its two-dose vaccine became the fourth COVID shot to be authorized for use in adults in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still needs to sign off on the use of the vaccine before it can be made available to people.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Fauci says that Americans should not allow BA.5 COVID-19 variant to 'disrupt our lives'

Dr Anthony Fauci says that the BA.5 variant should not disrupt the lives of Americans if they get vaccinated, boosted, and use a mask. He also recommends that Americans once again mask-up in indoor crowded places, but does not see mandates coming soon. The BA.5 variant now makes up 65% of active cases in the U.S., making it the dominant strain only weeks after first appearing on CDC surveillance reports. The new strain is likely responsible for recent upticks in Covid cases in deaths - with daily infections jumping 15% and deaths by 50% over the past week
13th Jul 2022 - Daily Mail

Netherlands detects 'Centaurus' Covid subvariant

The BA.2.75 subvariant, nicknamed 'Centaurus', first emerged in India in May. It has since spread to around 10 countries, including the US, UK and Germany. Now, it 'has also now been identified in the Netherlands,' the Dutch National Institute of Public Health said in a statement on Wednesday. The substrain appears to be outcompeting all other variants in India,. Experts say there is no evidence it causes more serious disease than Omicron
13th Jul 2022 - Daily Mail

NHS awarded George Cross for efforts shown during the COVID-19 pandemic

The NHS has been awarded the George Cross by Her Majesty The Queen in recognition of the dedicated service of healthcare workers that includes their ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ during the COVID-19 pandemic. The George Cross, which is given in recognition of ‘acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger’, has only been bestowed to a collective group of people twice before, most recently in 1999. May Parsons, the nurse who administered the first COVID-19 vaccination in the world, joined NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard to attend the presentation on 12 July – exactly one week after the NHS’s birthday. The pair were joined by Pritchard’s counterparts, Caroline Lamb from NHS Scotland and Judith Paget from NHS Wales, along with Peter May, permanent secretary at the Department of Health and chief executive of Health and Social Care Northern Ireland.
13th Jul 2022 - PMLiVE

Government braces to fund 'substantial' number of Covid-19 vaccine liabilities

The government is bracing to fund a “substantial” number of liabilities relating to negative impacts from Covid-19 jabs, having spent more than £34bn on the vaccine rollout so far. The Department of Health and Social Care told vaccine manufacturers at the start of the programme that it would cover future claims against producers for any adverse effects of their vaccines which “may add to the cost of the programme in the long term”, according to a Public Account Committee report today. As of the beginning of the month, 1,984 vaccine-related damages claims have been received by the NHS Business Services Authority, which describes itself as an arm’s length body of the Department of Health and Social Care, managing over £35bn of NHS spend annually,
13th Jul 2022 - City A.M.

WHO says COVID-19 remains a global health emergency

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that COVID-19 remains a global emergency, nearly 2-1/2 years after it was first declared. The Emergency Committee, made up of independent experts, said in a statement that rising cases, ongoing viral evolution and pressure on health services in a number of countries meant that the situation was still an emergency. Cases reported to WHO had risen by 30% in the last fortnight, although increased population immunity, largely from vaccines, had seen a "decoupling" of cases from hospitalisations and deaths, the committee's statement said.
13th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Astra's Covid Vaccine Saved Over Six Million Lives in First Year

Covid vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc. had the biggest impact in preventing deaths in the first year of the global rollout, saving an estimated 12 million lives. That’s the upshot of a new analysis from Airfinity Ltd., a London-based data firm. The AstraZeneca vaccine developed with the University of Oxford saved 6.3 million lives, Airfinity said Wednesday. The estimate for the Pfizer-BioNTech SE shot was 5.9 million. The companies swiftly scaled up production and delivered doses before other manufacturers, according to the report. The findings build on a study last month estimating that vaccines saved about 20 million lives in the first year of the campaign, more than half of them in wealthier countries.
13th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


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Hopes of Covid-19 Reprieve Fade as BA.5 Subvariant Takes Over

Covid-19 is circulating widely as the BA.5 Omicron subvariant elevates the risk of reinfections and rising case counts, spoiling chances for a summer reprieve from the pandemic across much of the U.S. Covid-19 levels are high in a fifth of U.S. counties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s metric based on case and hospital data, a share that has been mostly rising since mid-April. BA.5 is estimated to represent nearly two in three recent U.S. cases that are averaging just more than 100,000 a day, CDC data show. The true number of infections may be roughly six times as high, some virus experts said, in part because so many people are using at-home tests that state health departments largely don’t track.
13th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

UK Covid cases hit record 351,000 as government accused of ignoring rising infections

Covid cases have hit a new record in the UK with daily symptomatic infections soaring to 351,546, according to the ZOE Covid study app. UK infections are expected to rise even higher, to nearly 400,000 a day, next week before starting to drop down. Cases are starting to plateau in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but are still rising in England.
13th Jul 2022 - iNews

Italy to start administering second COVID booster to over-60s

Italy will soon start its campaign to administer a second COVID-19 booster to everyone aged over 60, the health minister said on Monday, after receiving a green light from European Union health agencies. The European recommendation came on Monday amid a new rise in infections and hospitalisations across Europe and was expected to facilitate national decisions to speed up vaccination campaigns, which have been slowing in recent months. Health Minister Roberto Speranza said the government had already given the go-ahead to Italy's 20 regional administrations to start the second booster campaign, after the approval of national medicine agency AIFA.
12th Jul 2022 - Yahoo Style UK

As New Zealand reopens, exodus worsens labour crunch

New Zealand's easing of its strict border curbs has triggered a rush of new departures among locals seeking fresh opportunities abroad, adding further pressure to the country's already tight employment market. A net 10,674 people left the country over the 12 months to May, according to government data released on Tuesday, extending a drain that ran over the past year and is expected to last until new immigrants arrive in greater numbers in 2023.
12th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19: Ethnic minority staff felt “vulnerable” during pandemic, says senior leader

Healthcare workers from ethnic minority groups have felt “vulnerable” and uncared for during the covid pandemic, with some reporting that managers hid personal protective equipment from them and refused to carry out the required risk assessments, a senior nurse has said. Speaking at the NHS Race and Health Observatory conference at BMA House on 7 July, Felicia Kwaku, chair of the Chief Nursing Officers Black and Minority Ethnic Strategic Advisory Group, shared some findings from her discussions with thousands of ethnic minority staff since April 2020. “This is the stark reality of what some staff went through. Some died in their rooms on their own because of social distancing. Some couldn’t get to the phone because they were so hypoxic, so they died alone,” she said. “If you were a nurse or midwife who was new to the country, you didn’t have a lot of the networks, so it was very isolating.”
12th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

Chris Whitty to be honoured for steering nation through Covid pandemic

Leading medical figure Professor Sir Chris Whitty, consumer expert Martin Lewis and Olympic diver Tom Daley are among those who will be recognised with honours during an investiture ceremony. England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris, who appeared on the daily briefing broadcasts to the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, will be appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath for services to public health. He previously received the Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 2015 for services to tropical medicine in the UK and Africa, after he helped draw up the Government’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, but will receive the higher accolade from the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle on Tuesday after guiding the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic.
12th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Global life expectancy falls after Covid pandemic

Global life expectancy has fallen since the Covid pandemic hit, according to the United Nations. The world average was nearly two years lower in 2021 compared to 2019, its latest world population report found. In some countries, such as Bolivia and Russia, the decline was even more dramatic at more than four years. The first case of Covid was recorded in China in late 2019, before other countries started to detect infections from the start of 2020. Since then, more than 6.7 million people are estimated to have died from the virus, according to a tally by Reuters.
12th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Covid rules as thousands told not to take tests even if they have symptoms

As Covid-19 infections continue to rise across the UK, millions of people are thought to currently be infected with the virus. New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that almost 4% of the English population had tested positive for coronavirus at the end of June, with higher figures (4.93%, 5.36%, and 5.94%) in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, respectively. The number of hospital admissions is also increasing amid new BA.4 and BA.5 covid variants. And there are no longer any restrictions around the virus in the UK, and as we learn to live with covid.
12th Jul 2022 - Liverpool Echo

WHO Chief Warns of Rising Infections, Deaths From New Covid Wave

The World Health Organization urged governments and health care systems to take steps to curb Covid-19 transmission as a fresh wave of infections moves across Europe and the US. Sub-variants of the omicron strain are lifting case numbers and leading to further fatalities, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. Tedros, as the head of the WHO is known, recommended the revival of protocols like mask-wearing to stop the spread. “New waves of the virus demonstrate that Covid-19 is nowhere near over,” Tedros said, adding that he is “concerned about a rising trend of deaths.
12th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


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Omicron Strains Drive New Covid Wave in Europe as Measures Fall Away

A Covid-19 infection wave driven by two hyper-infectious Omicron subvariants is moving rapidly across Europe, leading to an uptick in cases and hospitalizations in countries that have dropped the majority of preventive measures against the virus ahead of the summer months. European governments have discarded many Covid-19 mitigation strategies like mask mandates, mass testing and so-called Covid passports as their focus shifts to economic recovery and the war in Ukraine. A recent survey by McKinsey shows that fewer than 12% of the public in Germany, France, the U.K., Italy and Spain count the pandemic as a primary concern. Scientists don’t expect that the wave of infections will lead to the high death tolls seen before vaccine rollouts. But they are concerned that public and national health systems are ill-prepared for fall and winter waves that some predict could see double the current infection figures.
11th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Macau Shuts All Casinos as City's Worst Outbreak Widens

Macau will shut almost all business premises including casinos for a week from Monday as a Covid-19 outbreak in the gambling hub showed few signs of abating. Essential services such as water and gas utilities as well as businesses including supermarkets, pharmacies and hotels will remain open, according to a government announcement Saturday. The measures, which follow multiple rounds of mass testing, return the enclave to its toughest pandemic restrictions. Macau announced on Sunday that it recorded 93 new cases the day before, bringing the total number of infections in the latest outbreak starting June 18 to 1,467.
11th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

New Coronavirus Mutant Raises Concerns in India And Beyond

The quickly changing coronavirus has spawned yet another super contagious omicron mutant that’s worrying scientists as it gains ground in India and pops up in numerous other countries, including the United States. Scientists say the variant – called BA.2.75 – may be able to spread rapidly and get around immunity from vaccines and previous infection. It’s unclear whether it could cause more serious disease than other omicron variants, including the globally prominent BA.5. “It’s still really early on for us to draw too many conclusions,” said Matthew Binnicker, director of clinical virology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “But it does look like, especially in India, the rates of transmission are showing kind of that exponential increase." Whether it will outcompete BA.5, he said, is yet to be determined.
11th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

New data on Moderna's omicron-containing bivalent booster candidate

US mRNA specialist Moderna announced new clinical data on its bivalent Omicron (BA.1) booster candidate, mRNA-1273.214, lifting the firm’s shares 1.5% to $179.07 by mid-morning. One month after administration in previously vaccinated and boosted participants, a 50μg booster dose of mRNA-1273.214 elicited significantly higher neutralizing antibody responses against the Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5
11th Jul 2022 - The Pharma Letter

Moderna announces its Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster is more effective against the now-dominant BA.5 variant than previous versions of the shot: Daily deaths from the virus ...

Moderna announced that its second formulation of a COVID-19 booster targeted at the Omicron variant is more effective against the BA.5 variant. The new strain is now dominant in the U.S. and its ability to evade protection from previous infection has health officials fearing it could cause another outbreak. Some experts have opposed the launching of new Omicron-specific booster - expected this fall - until more data on the shots is available. Covid deaths in America have creeped upwards to 430 per day over the past week - jumping 13% in seven days
11th Jul 2022 - Daily Mail

The Human Cost of Shanghai’s Covid-19 Lockdown: Helplessness, Isolation, Despair

The Wall Street Journal team spoke to various residents across Shanghai about what the Covid lockdown meant to them. Residents who lived through the city’s battle against the virus share deeply personal accounts.
11th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Workforce: the persistent victim of the covid-19 pandemic

In the past week, 11 000 people were admitted to hospitals in England with covid and the picture in the devolved nations is likely to be similar. High rates of hospital admissions, even if the patients aren’t very unwell, are disruptive for the running of hospitals. Most in the UK continue to use open bays, and this makes wards inefficient and vulnerable to outbreaks. The UK has fewer hospital beds than almost any other European comparator and we can ill afford any loss of hospital capacity. While covid has undoubtedly worsened performance, crowding in emergency departments was a problem before the pandemic. Hospitals are now full, and our “inadvertent natural experiment” has shown that occupancy rates over 92% are invariably associated with full emergency departments and delayed ambulance handovers.
11th Jul 2022 - The BMJ

Practice supervisors' and assessors' experiences in the Covid-19 pandemic

The pandemic placed additional pressures on nursing practice assessors and supervisors. This article explores their experiences of supporting students during this period
11th Jul 2022 - Nursing Times

U.S. orders 3.2 million doses of Novavax COVID vaccine

The U.S. government will get 3.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Novavax Inc once the shot has been authorized by the regulators, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the company said on Monday. The shot will be made available for free in the country after it gets authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendation.
11th Jul 2022 - Reuters

EU backs second COVID booster for over-60s, before variant-adapted vaccines are ready

European Union health agencies on Monday recommended a second COVID-19 booster for everyone over 60, as well as medically vulnerable people, amid a new rise in infections and hospitalisations across Europe. While existing coronavirus vaccines continue to provide good protection against hospitalisation and death, vaccine effectiveness has taken a hit as the virus has evolved. EU health agencies have since April recommended a second booster only for those older than 80 and the most vulnerable
11th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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Wow, what a view! China’s ‘digital nomads’ seek paradise while on the clock

Known as ‘digital nomads’, many were born out of China’s strict pandemic measures – but families and friends are still trying to process this new way of life. China’s remote-working trend is in its early stages, but even local governments and businesses are taking stock and looking to capitalise on development opportunities.
11th Jul 2022 - South China Morning Post

Macau closing all casinos to fight Covid

Macau will shut almost all business premises including casinos for a week from Monday as a Covid-19 outbreak in the gambling hub showed few signs of abating. Essential business operations including supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open, the Macao Daily reported, quoting city officials at a briefing on Saturday. The measure, which follows multiple rounds of mass testing, returns the enclave to its toughest pandemic restrictions. Macau on Saturday announced 71 new cases, bringing the total in the latest outbreak since June 18 to 1,374.
11th Jul 2022 - Bangkok Post

Shanghai identifies new COVID Omicron subvariant

The city of Shanghai has discovered a COVID-19 case involving a new subvariant Omicron BA.5.2.1, an official told a briefing on Sunday, signalling the complications China faces to keep up with new mutations as it pursues its "zero-COVID" policy. The case, found in the financial district of Pudong on July 8, was linked with a case from overseas, said Zhao Dandan, vice-director of the city's health commission.
10th Jul 2022 - Reuters

China's Shanghai asks public to share 'heart-warming' COVID lockdown stories

The government of Shanghai has called on citizens to share "heart-warming" photographs, videos and stories about a punishing two-month lockdown imposed in April by the authorities to curb China's biggest COVID-19 outbreak. The government of China's most populous city has launched the propaganda campaign to "tell epidemic stories, spread volunteer culture and inherit the traditional values of solidarity, friendship and mutual help," local newspaper Wen Hui Bao said on Saturday.
10th Jul 2022 - Reuters

‘Stealthy’ new Covid variant can reinfect you every month

Health experts across the globe are signalling alarm as they begin reporting that Omicron BA.5, the coronavirus strain that is currently outpacing other variants in infection and has become the dominant strain in the US and abroad, has the ability to reinfect people within weeks of contracting the virus. Andrew Roberston, the chief health officer in Western Australia, told News.com.au that though previously the wisdom held that most people would retain a certain level of protection against reinfection if they were vaccinated or had retained some level of natural immunity due to a recent contraction of the virus, this hasn’t been the case with the most recent strain. “What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA.2 and then becoming infected after four weeks,” the doctor explained during an interview with the Australian news outlet. “So maybe six to eight weeks they are developing a second infection, and that’s almost certainly BA.4 or BA.5.” The ability for strains BA.4 and BA.5 to reinfect individuals who would in previous waves of Covid-19 had stronger immunity has led some experts to start calling this latest strain the most transmissible yet.
10th Jul 2022 - The Independent

African Union launches coronavirus vaccine passport

An African Union vaccine e-passport has been introduced and will enable easier travel within and outside Africa. The passport will be in digital format. A QR code will be scanned to show proof that one has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and has a valid vaccine certificate. The passport was launched on Friday at the Africa Integration Day, Boma of Africa virtual event. African heads of state and global health leaders present at the event said the virtual document and the e-health backbone are part of Africa’s new health order. Acting head of Africa CDC, Ahmed Ogwell, says the vaccine passport will soon expand its bracket to include other vaccines such as the Yellow Fever vaccine.
8th Jul 2022 - TODAY

Slow pace for youngest kids getting COVID vaccine doses

Nearly 300,000 children under 5 have received COVID-19 shots in the two weeks since they became available, a slower pace than for older groups. But the White House says that was expected for the eligible U.S. population of about 18 million kids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was to publish initial data on shots for the age group later Thursday, reflecting doses administered since regulators authorized them on June 18. The first vaccinations didn't begin until several days later because the doses had to be shipped to doctors' offices and pharmacies. U.S. officials had long predicted that the pace of vaccinating the youngest kids would be slower than for older groups. They expect most shots to take place at pediatricians’ offices. Many parents may be more comfortable getting the vaccine for their kids at their regular doctors, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told The Associated Press last month. He predicted the pace of vaccination would be far slower than it was for older populations.
8th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Thinking of mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccine booster shots? There doesn't seem to be much point

As of Monday, an extra 7.4 million Australians will be eligible for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. On Thursday, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended everyone over 50 have a fourth dose. And while it didn't go as far as to recommend people aged 30-49 have a fourth dose, ATAGI said they can if they want to. It also reduced the length of time between booster shots from four to three months. Let's unpack what it means for you.
8th Jul 2022 - ABC News

WTO faces new battle over COVID tests, drugs

Less than a month after a hard-won deal was reached on a partial waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, a fresh battle may be looming at the World Trade Organization over extending the waiver to treatments and tests. The June deal includes an agreement to debate waiving certain IP rights for tests and drugs, which the pharmaceutical industry says could lead to a broader unraveling of protections for treatments for other diseases.
8th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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China Covid News: Shanghai Virus Outbreak Persists as Shandong Cases Jump

Shanghai reported more coronavirus cases, with concerns that persistent transmission fueling fears China’s financial hub may ramp up movement restrictions, while cases flared in the eastern province of Shandong. Shanghai announced 45 new local infections for Thursday, with all detected in quarantine. This week, the city rolled out mass testing of 10 districts and parts of two others -- out of the financial hub’s total of 16 -- in order to weed out transmission. Residents across all areas are already required to get tested every weekend until the end of this month following a bruising two-month lockdown.
8th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid-19 vaccines for young kids could have been OK'd sooner

Until mid-June, 1 in 13 persons living in the United States — that’s all children age 5 and younger — weren’t eligible to get Covid-19 vaccines. On June 17, the Food and Drug Administration finally authorized the use of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, based largely on advice from a panel of outside experts. It could have — and should have — made it possible for young children to be vaccinated much sooner.
7th Jul 2022 - STAT News

Study finds growing Covid vaccine acceptance across world

Covid-19 vaccine acceptance across the world increased by about 4 per cent between 2020 and 2021, according to a new study whose findings could help improve the coverage of future immunisation drives. The research, published in Nature Communications, studied Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy globally in June 2021 in over 23,000 individuals across 23 countries. Researchers, including those from City University of New York in the US, found that more than three-quarters of respondents reported vaccine acceptance, up from 71.5 per cent the previous year.
7th Jul 2022 - The Independent

Norwegian Cruise scraps COVID testing for select voyages

Passengers boarding Norwegian Cruise Line ships won't have to take COVID-19 tests from next month unless required by local law, the U.S. cruise operator said on Wednesday as the crucial summer sailing season gathers steam. Cruises setting sail from the United States, Canada or Greece's Piraeus will still require pre-cruise COVID testing, and all of the company's guests aged 12 and above have to be fully vaccinated.
7th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Yorkshire nurse says scrapping special Covid sick pay for NHS staff is 'incomprehensible'

The Government’s decision to cut enhanced Covid-related sick pay and special leave for NHS workers in England has been called “incomprehensible” by a Yorkshire nurse suffering with Long Covid.
7th Jul 2022 - The Yorkshire Post

COVID-19: New wave of Omicron mutations spreading across Europe, EU Medicines Agency warns

A new wave of Covid-19 is sweeping across Europe driven by Omicron mutations, an EU Medicines Agency official has warned. Head of vaccines at the agency, Marco Cavaleri, has said "the increase in transmission among older age groups is starting to translate into severe disease". The increase in the number of people testing positive is being driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 mutations of the Omicron variant. In April, the EMA advised people aged over 80 to get a second vaccine booster. Now, they recommend people aged between 60-79 and medically vulnerable of any age to get the booster.
7th Jul 2022 - Sky News

NHS staff criticise ‘incomprehensible’ scrapping of special Covid leave

Covid-related absences had been fully paid for all NHS workers, regardless of their length of service. However from July 7 staff terms and conditions in coronavirus workforce guidance will be withdrawn, meaning the immediate end to sick pay for new episodes of Covid-19 sickness, according to the Royal College of Nursing, and access to special leave for the purposes of self-isolation will also be withdrawn.
7th Jul 2022 - Peeblesshire News

Beijing Rolls Out China’s First Ever Covid Vaccine Mandate

The city will require live performances, entertainment venues such as movie theaters, museums and gyms, as well as training and tutoring locations, to restrict entry to people who are vaccinated, Li Ang, deputy director at the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday. The requirement will also apply to medical staff, people working in community service operations, home furnishing operators, express delivery providers and conference attendees. They’ll need to have received a booster shot to continue as normal, Li said. There will be exemptions for people who don’t qualify for vaccination.
6th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


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China Covid News: Shanghai Cases Rise, Fueling Lockdown Fears

Shanghai reported the most virus infections since late May, fueling concerns China’s financial hub may look to ramp up restrictions to curb transmission. The city announced 54 local Covid infections for Wednesday, including two that were found outside of quarantine, with the latter raising concerns that the virus could be quietly spreading through communities. Shanghai has already increased its mass testing, with with 10 districts and parts of two others -- out of the financial hub’s total of 16 -- conducting two PCR tests over a three-day period. Elsewhere, Beijing announced four cases. Authorities said Wednesday that they had detected the highly infectious BA.5.2 subvariant in the capital.
7th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

How to book covid booster vaccine as Scotland records highest infection rate

Scotland is experiencing a high rate of Covid-19 infections as experts warn we are seeing the highest amount since April. On top of this, summer brings with it holidays, social events and mass events, all of which is opportunity for the new sub-variants of Omicron, B.A.4 and B.A.5 to spread. Scotland reported that one in 18 people had the virus last week with 288,200 people infected. Some European countries such as Spain are also preparing for a spike in cases and it haven't relaxed all covid restrictions yet. To be considered fully vaccinated if travelling from the UK to Spain, you must have a booster vaccine if it's been over 270 days since your second dose.
6th Jul 2022 - Glasgow Live

Canada Plans To Throw Out 13.6 Million Doses Of Coronavirus Vaccine

Canada is going to throw out about 13.6 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine because it couldn’t find any takers for it either at home or abroad. Canada signed a contract with AstraZeneca in 2020 to get 20 million doses of its vaccine, and 2.3 million Canadians received at least one dose of it, mostly between March and June 2021.
6th Jul 2022 - HuffPost

Australia removes final Covid-19 travel restrictions

Two years, three months and 25 days since the World Health Organisation first declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, Australia is removing its final coronavirus-related travel restrictions. From Wednesday, visitors no longer need to show proof of vaccination when flying Down Under. The last of the Covid-19 restrictions for inbound visitors have been dropped following Australia's removal of other rules put in place during the pandemic, including PCR tests for holidaymakers and mandatory quarantine periods. “As more and more of us travel internationally and we get more confident in managing our risk of Covid, our airports are getting busier,” Clare O’Neil, Minister for Home Affairs, said.
6th Jul 2022 - The National

Covid-19 Vaccine Doses, Once in High Demand, Now Thrown Away

Governments, drugmakers and vaccination sites are discarding tens of millions of unused Covid-19 vaccine doses amid sagging demand, a sharp reversal from the early days of the mass-vaccination campaign, when doses were scarce. Vaccine manufacturer Moderna Inc. recently discarded about 30 million doses of its Covid-19 shot after failing to find takers, while pharmacies and clinics have had to throw out unused doses from multi-dose vials from Moderna and Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE that have a short shelf life once they are opened. Germany’s health officials have disposed of about 3.9 million Covid-19 vaccine doses that were sitting in a federal central warehouse and expired at the end of June.
6th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Beijing city mandates COVID vaccinations, relaxes curbs on domestic travellers

China's capital on Wednesday mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for most people to enter crowded venues such as libraries, cinemas and gyms, the first such move by Beijing which it coupled with a slight easing of domestic travel curbs. From July 11, people wanting to enter certain public would need to be vaccinated unless they have issues that render them unsuitable for shots, a city official told a news briefing. Restaurants and public transportation are exempt from the rule.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters

CDC: Mask-wearing recommended in growing number of counties

People in 24 Oregon counties — including the county around Portland — and 15 counties in Washington state should resume mask-wearing indoors in public and on public transportation, according to recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data from the CDC shows the counties are considered high risk for COVID-19 infection, KPTV reported. The Oregon counties include: Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln, Lane, Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, Wasco, Sherman, Hood River, Clackamas, Washington, Multnomah, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Baker, and Malheur counties. In Washington, the counties at high risk include: Clallam, Grays Harbor, Pacific, Lewis, Thurston, Pierce, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Walla Walla, Columbia, Asotin, Lincoln, Ferry and Spokane. That’s an increase from six Washington counties at high risk as of June 23.
6th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Cyprus brings back indoor mask wearing amid COVID-19 surge

Cyprus is bringing back compulsory mask-wearing in indoor areas for everyone age 12 and over amid a surge of COVID-19 infections. The government said Wednesday the infection spike is in line with a global trend that’s mainly owed to the BA.4 and BA.5 variants of the coronavirus. According to Health Ministry figures, 19,503 people tested positive from a total of 147,623 samples between June 25 to July 5 out of a population of approximately 916,000. The numbers don’t include the approximately 250,000 people in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the ethically divided island nation. The measures take effect on Friday. The government said mask wearing isn’t compulsory at home, for family members inside a vehicle, during meals, athletes, cooks during grilling and for people with ailments and deformities that make it difficult for them to wear a face mask.
6th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

U.S. FDA allows pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer's COVID-19 pill

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday it had authorized state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Pfizer Inc's COVID-19 pill to eligible patients to help improve access to the treatment. The antiviral drug, Paxlovid, has been cleared for use and available for free in the United States since December, but fewer than half of the nearly 4 million courses distributed to pharmacies by the government so far have been administered.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Europe Is at Center of New Wave of Covid Infections, WHO Says

Europe is at the center of a resurgence in Covid-19 infections as more people mix at large-scale events and travel, according to the World Health Organization. “We are seeing a much more intense wave of the disease passing through Europe again,” Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said at a media briefing Wednesday. “And we will see it happen elsewhere -- we are already seeing it in South East Asia and in the eastern Mediterranean region as well.”
6th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Beijing Rolls Out China's First Ever Covid Vaccine Mandate

Beijing residents wanting to enter a raft of public places will need to show proof of vaccination from Monday, the first time China has deployed a vaccine mandate, as the city rushes to quash a new outbreak caused by a more infectious subvariant. The city will require live performances, entertainment venues such as movie theaters, museums and gyms, as well as training and tutoring locations, to restrict entry to people who are vaccinated, Li Ang, deputy director at the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, told reporters at a briefing Wednesday.
6th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


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Shanghai Covid Testing Fuels Concern of Another China Lockdown

Shanghai is once again mass testing for Covid, fueling concerns that China’s financial hub will find itself back in lockdown in pursuit of Covid Zero. Nine districts, as well as some areas in another three districts, will conduct two rounds of Covid mass testing until Thursday in order to “identify and prevent outbreak risks as early as possible,” the city government said in a statement. There are 16 districts in Shanghai. The city reported 24 local Covid cases for Tuesday, all of them inside quarantine, authorities said Wednesday.
6th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Macau locks down landmark Lisboa hotel after COVID cases found

Macau has locked down one of the city's most famous hotels, the Grand Lisboa, after more than a dozen COVID-19 cases were found there on Tuesday, with infections spreading rapidly in the world's biggest gambling hub. At least 16 other buildings across the special Chinese administrative region are also locked down with no one allowed to exit or enter. The authorities have placed more than 13,000 people under quarantine orders as the city battles to contain its biggest outbreak since the pandemic began.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters

COVID and bust: China's private health system hurt by tough coronavirus controls

On March 24, a court in the central Chinese city of Fuyang announced that a $1.5 billion hospital built just four years earlier had filed for bankruptcy because it was unable to pay its debts. For most of the last two years, the Fuyang Minsheng Hospital had been fully involved in mass coronavirus vaccination and testing programmes in the city, training almost 100 staff to perform throat swabs and setting up mobile vaccination facilities to go to schools and workplaces, at the order of city officials.
6th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Egyptian official assures hospitals at the ready for future coronavirus outbreaks

Hospitals are prepared at any time to receive coronavirus cases, Adviser to the President of the Republic for Health Affairs Mohamed Awad Tag Eddin assured Monday, during a telephone interview with presenter Ahmed Moussa, on Sada al-Balad channel. Tag Eddin advised citizens to adhere to wearing masks and using disinfectants at gatherings or in contact with people infected with the coronavirus. He stressed that most of the infections are mild and do not require hospitalization, explaining that 90 million doses of the vaccine have been provided in Egypt. The effectiveness of the vaccine ranges between four and six months, he added, explaining that people most vulnerable to infection with coronavirus must obtain the third dose – available free of charge to everyone.
5th Jul 2022 - Egypt Independent

JCVI chief calls for mandatory masks in hospitals amid Covid surge

It would be “sensible” for hospitals to reintroduce mandatory mask-wearing, the chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said, as several trusts in England and Wales announced the move. When NHS rules on wearing masks in England were dropped on 10 June, local health bodies were given the power to draft their own policies. Their guidance, however, is no longer legally enforceable. Figures from NHS England show there were about 10,658 patients hospitalised with coronavirus on Monday. Infections have doubled in a fortnight across England – with about 1,000 patients being admitted with the virus each day.
5th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

One million set to perform Hajj as COVID-19 restrictions ease

After a two-year absence, international pilgrims will perform the yearly Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia for the first time starting Wednesday, after previously being restricted amid the kingdom’s battle to curb the coronavirus pandemic. Some one million people are expected to be in attendance in the holy city of Mecca in Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) for the start of the five-day ritual – a large jump from last year when only 60,000 pilgrims were permitted. In 2020, during the height of the pandemic’s early waves and before vaccines were available, about 10,000 were selected.
5th Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

US seeks 250000 mentors, tutors to address pandemic learning loss By Reuters

The Biden administration on Tuesday will launch a new effort to recruit 250,000 mentors and tutors to help students who have fallen back in their learning during the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said. The program, which will be led by AmeriCorps and the Department of Education along with other service organizations, will seek to get adults to fill the roles over the next three years. Students on average are two to four months behind in reading and math as a result of the pandemic, a White House official said. The program is intended to help address that deficit. "Research shows that high quality tutors and mentors positively impact student achievement, well-being, and overall success," the White House said in a statement.
5th Jul 2022 - Investing

Many won’t rely on virtual options after COVID: AP-NORC poll

Many Americans don’t expect to rely on the digital services that became commonplace during the pandemic after COVID-19 subsides, according to a new poll, even as many think it’s a good thing if those options remain available in the future. Close to half or more of U.S. adults say they are not likely to attend virtual activities, receive virtual health care, have groceries delivered or use curbside pickup after the coronavirus pandemic is over, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Less than 3 in 10 say they’re very likely to use any of those options at least some of the time. Still, close to half also say it would be a good thing if virtual options for health care, for community events and for activities like fitness classes or religious services continue after the pandemic.
5th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Lockdown Pain Fails to Break Elderly Vaccine Resistance in China

There’s been one consistent silver lining to Covid-19 outbreaks: they trigger a surge in vaccinations that provide protection against severe infections in the future. China’s elderly are an exception. Take Shanghai. After the financial hub emerged from a bruising two-month lockdown and vaccination clinics reopened, the number of fully immunized people aged 60 or above increased just one percentage point to 63% in mid-June, despite hundreds of deaths.
5th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


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Can new Omicron subvariants evade vaccine immunity?

Many parts of Western Europe and the United States are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases thought to be driven by new subvariants of Omicron. These rises come alongside the easing of safety measures that were previously put in place to curb the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, testing being scaled back, and COVID booster vaccine take-up at lower-than-expected levels. The latest data shows cases are on the rise in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Greece and Denmark. Portugal, a popular holiday destination for many people each summer, is experiencing the biggest surge. Hospital admissions have risen in several countries including France and England, according to data analysed by the Financial Times.
4th Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

China Imposes Fresh Restrictions as Covid-19 Cases Rise

China is imposing fresh restrictions in some eastern cities as Covid-19 cases have spiked to near their highest levels in more than a month. The country recorded 380 locally transmitted coronavirus cases on Sunday, China’s National Health Commission reported on Monday. Two thirds of Monday’s cases came from the eastern province of Anhui, the commission said. The bulk of those cases stem from a growing cluster in Si County, a busy transit hub of 760,000 residents located in Anhui, according to state-run media, citing local government officials. Coronavirus case counts in China have jumped almost 10-fold in less than a week. On June 29, China had recorded 39 such cases. By Saturday, nationwide locally transmitted cases had jumped to 385, the biggest tally since May 25.
4th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China's New Covid Flareup Threatens Crucial Yangtze Delta Region

China is racing to quash a new virus flareup that risks spilling over into one of its most economically significant regions, raising the specter of disruptions that could roil global supply chains for solar panels, medicines and semiconductor chips. Infections have surged in Si county in the eastern province of Anhui, with officials reporting 287 cases for Sunday and nearly 1,000 since late last week. Authorities locked down Si and a neighboring county late last week to try and stop the virus from spreading to nearby Jiangsu, the second biggest contributor to China’s economic output and a globally important manufacturing hub for the solar sector.
4th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Australia entry rules explained: The latest Covid travel advice as vaccine requirement is dropped for tourists

Strict vaccination rules will be lifted on Wednesday, taking the hassle out of Australian holidays and family reunions. However, flag carrier Qantas is set to keep its vaccine mandate
4th Jul 2022 - iNews

Thailand ends almost all travel restrictions — but one key rule remains

Travellers wondering what it’s like to visit Thailand now may be interested to know the country is “allowing almost everything” again. That’s according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the governmental entity responsible for promoting tourism to the country. Masks are no longer required, and the country’s color-coded system — which placed limits that varied by province on dining activities, gatherings and travel — is also a thing of the past, according to TAT. It’s also far easier to get into Thailand now too.
4th Jul 2022 - CNBC

Hard-hit Kyoto is conflicted as Japan prepares to reopen to foreign tourists after COVID lockdown

Kyoto locals say they want some foreign tourists, but not too many. Japan is restricting the number of foreign tourists allowed in to a small number. The yen is at its weakest in two decades, acting as a boon for tourists
4th Jul 2022 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

For now, wary US treads water with transformed COVID-19

The fast-changing coronavirus has kicked off summer in the U.S. with lots of infections but relatively few deaths compared to its prior incarnations. COVID-19 is still killing hundreds of Americans each day, but is not nearly as dangerous as it was last fall and winter. “It’s going to be a good summer and we deserve this break,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. With more Americans shielded from severe illness through vaccination and infection, COVID-19 has transformed — for now at least — into an unpleasant, inconvenient nuisance for many.
4th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

With hospitalizations up, France weighs return to masks

Tourism is booming again in France — and so is COVID-19. French officials have “invited” or “recommended” people to go back to using face masks but stopped short of renewing restrictions that would scare visitors away or revive anti-government protests. From Paris commuters to tourists on the French Riviera, many people seem to welcome the government’s light touch, while some worry that required prevention measures may be needed. Virus-related hospitalizations rose quickly in France over the past two weeks, with nearly 1,000 patients with COVID-19 hospitalized per day, according to government data. Infections are also rising across Europe and the United States, but France has an exceptionally high proportion of people in the hospital, according to Our World in Data estimates.
2nd Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

UK Covid Cases Surge 32% as Subvariants Trigger Fresh Concerns

Britain’s Covid-19 infections are rising sharply with omicron subvariants sparking new outbreaks across the country and raising concerns that the latest wave could upend health systems and businesses. The number of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated at 2.3 million in the week through June 24, up 32% from the previous week, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics on Friday
1st Jul 2022 - Bloomberg


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China Covid Outbreaks Widen With More Cases Found in Anhui

China’s virus cases continued to climb over the weekend with hundreds of infections detected in Anhui province, where two counties were already in lockdown. Anhui, the center of the latest outbreak, reported 287 cases for Sunday. A lockdown was imposed in Lingbi county in northeastern Anhui from Friday afternoon, while the neighboring Si county conducted its sixth mass testing on Sunday. While China seems to have brought earlier outbreaks in mega cities Shanghai and Beijing under control, its Covid-Zero goal is facing a test again in its eastern provinces. Shanghai’s neighboring Jiangsu province reported 59 cases on Saturday, while the city of Wuxi found 35 infections on Sunday.
4th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Merck Covid-19 Pill Prescribed Frequently in Some Countries Despite Low Efficacy

Paul Griffin, an infectious diseases physician at the University of Queensland who advises both Pfizer and Merck on Covid-19 antivirals, said people in Australia may be unaccepting of even a modest risk associated with Paxlovid because the country had done well on Covid-19 in general. He added that risks can be worked through “if people understand what to look for and how to manage them.” Japan has approved both antiviral drugs for patients who are at high risk of developing severe disease. The Japanese government isn’t giving priority to Paxlovid over Lagevrio. Regulators in Japan also didn’t require people to use contraception due to reproductive risks associated with Lagevrio.
3rd Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Brexit Has the UK Traveling the Wrong Way in Time

The trouble about getting Brexit done, but aborting the revolution in government, is that you risk just turning the clock back to a time today’s politicians only remember from their childhoods, if at all — the time before Britain joined the European Economic Community, under the leadership of Ted Heath in January 1973.
3rd Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

China's Wuxi tightens COVID curbs as new clusters emerge

Cities in eastern China tightened COVID-19 curbs on Sunday as coronavirus clusters emerge, posing a new threat to China's economic recovery under the government's strict zero-COVID policy. Wuxi, a manufacturing hub in the Yangtze Delta on the central coast, halted operations at many public venues located underground, including shops and supermarkets. Dine-in services in restaurants were suspended, and the government advised people to work from home.
3rd Jul 2022 - Reuters

German health minister in move to boost use of COVID treatment Paxlovid

Germany's health minister said on Sunday he will push for more prescriptions of Pfizer's oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid by family doctors to reduce severe cases of the disease. "A system involving family doctors will be prepared to administer this far too rarely-used COVID life saver more routinely," he wrote on Twitter on Sunday, adding that sufficient stockpiles were available.
3rd Jul 2022 - Reuters

Government set to cut enhanced sick pay for NHS staff off work with Covid

The government is to cut special sick pay for NHS staff off work with Covid from next week – even as cases soar – The Independent has learnt. The Department of Health and Social Care is set to announce an end to the enhanced pay arrangements provided during the pandemic, meaning that staff who go off sick with either Covid or long Covid will be subject to normal sick-pay rules. Nursing leaders have hit back, arguing that the move is “neglectful and unfair” for NHS staff, who are disproportionately likely to be affected by Covid.
2nd Jul 2022 - The Independent

Muslim pilgrims flock to Mecca for first post-pandemic haj

Thousands of pilgrims started arriving in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on Friday, among some one million Muslims expected to attend the 2022 haj pilgrimage season after two years of major disruption caused by the COVID pandemic. Wrapped in white robes, with some carrying umbrellas against the burning desert sun, hundreds performed the first ritual of the haj, which involves walking in a circle around the Kaaba, the sacred building at the centre of Mecca's Grand Mosque
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

Russia scraps remaining COVID restrictions

Russia said on Friday it was ending all restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19, including the requirement to wear masks, citing a steady decline in deaths from the virus. However, it did not rule out re-introducing restrictive measures if the situation deteriorates. Consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said it was "suspending previously introduced restrictions, including the mask regime, a ban on public catering at night, and a number of other measures".
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

UK Covid levels rise 30% in a week to estimated 2.3m cases

Covid infection levels in the UK have risen by more than 30% in a week, with an estimated 2.3 million people thought to have had the disease in late June. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) based on swabs collected from randomly selected households show that in the week ending 25 June, 1,829,100 people in the community in England are estimated to have had Covid, equating to about one in 30 and up from 1,360,600 the week before. Increases were also seen in the rest of the UK, with an estimated one in 18 people in Scotland, one in 30 in Wales and one in 25 in Northern Ireland thought to have had Covid in the most recent week. While still shy of the peak infection levels seen earlier this year, when about one in 13 people in England had Covid, the estimated number of infections in the UK is the highest since late April and the highest yet seen for a summer month.
1st Jul 2022 - The Guardian


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Pfizer asks for formal U.S. approval of oral COVID treatment Paxlovid

Pfizer Inc said on Thursday it is seeking full U.S. approval for its oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment Paxlovid, which is currently available under an emergency use authorization (EUA). Pfizer said it submitted a New Drug Application for Paxlovid to the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19 in vaccinated and unvaccinated people at high risk of progression to severe illness.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

Analysis: Easing COVID-19 rules, growth focus aid China bulls' cautious return

The latest easing of coronavirus travel rules combined with other encouraging policy signals have began luring some foreign investors back to Chinese stocks, raising the chances that the market can sustain its bounce after months of heavy selling. As the S&P 500 is about to close its worst first half of any year since 1970 and bonds have taken a thrashing, China's beaten-down equity markets start looking like a shelter from a global storm of runaway inflation, interest rate hikes, and recession fears.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Bhutan to welcome tourists 'who can spend' for first time since COVID

Bhutan will reopen for international tourists from September for the first time since the pandemic began more than two years ago, officials said on Thursday, as the tiny Himalayan kingdom looks to revive its economy. Wedged between China and India, the country with scenic natural beauty and ancient Buddhist culture, took drastic early steps and banned tourism, a major source of income, in March 2020 when the first COVID-19 case was detected there.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

China summer railway travel expected to rebound as COVID curbs ease

As China loosens its months-long COVID-19 curbs, railway travel is expected to see an uptick in passengers just in time for the summer transport season, which starts on July 1. By Aug. 31, the number of passenger trips on China's railway network is expected to reach 520 million, and 10 million on peak days. The national railway is also opening new stations such as the Xiangwan section of the Zhengzhou-Chongqing high-speed railway, the Puzheng section of the Jizheng high-speed railway, the Heruo Railway, and the Beijing Fengtai Station.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Disneyland theme park re-opens after three-month closure

More than a thousand visitors streamed in on Thursday as Walt Disney Co's Shanghai Disney Resort theme park opened after a closure of three months, with face masks and social distancing the order of the day. The park shut on March 21 as cases rose in the Chinese business hub, leading to a two-month-long citywide lockdown that eased on June 1. Just over a week later, the resort began opening some areas, with the theme park the last to re-open.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

China's factory, service sectors shake off 3 months of lockdown pain

China's factory and service sectors snapped three months of activity decline in June, business surveys showed on Thursday, as authorities lifted a strict COVID lockdown in Shanghai, reviving output and consumer spending. The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 50.2 in June from 49.6 in May, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. That slightly missed the forecast for 50.5 in a Reuters poll but rose above the 50-point mark that separates contraction from growth for the first time since February.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

COVID restrictions ease in Shanghai as case numbers drop

Shanghai is moving to allow in-person dining and reopening its Disney Resort theme park as domestically transmitted cases of COVID-19 in China’s largest city remain at zero following a more than two-month lockdown. Chinese officials hail their hardline “zero-COVID” policy for stemming the growth of cases and deaths from the virus, despite the enormous cost to the Chinese economy and international supply chains reliant on China’s manufacturing and shipping abilities that have been thrown askew. China has repeatedly defended the policy and indications are it will maintain “zero-COVID” at least through the spring of 2023, when President Xi Jinping is expected to be installed for a third five-year term as head of the world’s second-largest economy and a rising competitor to the United States in the Indo-Pacific region. In remarks carried by the official Xinhua News Agency, Xi on Wednesday said China’s policies against the virus have “protected people’s lives and health to the greatest extent.”
30th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

US FDA wants COVID boosters targeting Omicron BA.4, BA.5 subvariants

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday recommended COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers change the design of their booster shots beginning this fall to include components tailored to combat the currently dominant Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the coronavirus. If authorized, the changes would mark the first major retooling of COVID vaccines, but also could slow their rollout as the FDA has recommended a design somewhat different from what the companies had already tested and started producing.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Covid Shots Worked Better for Obese Than Underweight in UK Study

People who are underweight or obese are most at risk of severe Covid, but a UK study found that two doses of vaccine still protect both groups well. The researchers, who focused on patients at the two extremes of the body mass index scale, found that the shots worked slightly better for those at the high end of the measure in a study published in medical journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Friday. The scientists used health records of more than 9 million patients from generalist practices in England taking part in the database QResearch. “Our findings provide further evidence that Covid-19 vaccines save lives for people of all sizes,” said Carmen Piernas, the study’s lead author and a lecturer at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.
30th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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Norway Was a Pandemic Success. Then It Spent Two Years Studying Its Failures.

If you could have flown anywhere in the world in 2019 to ride out a hypothetical pandemic, you probably wouldn’t have picked Norway. In fact, when a group of distinguished health experts gathered that year to rank hundreds of countries based on their pandemic readiness, they put Norway in 16th place. They were quickly proven wrong. It turned out that few places outperformed expectations more than Norway. Not long ago, the World Health Organization published mortality stats from the past two years, which showed that nearly every country’s excess death count spiked during the pandemic. Norway’s barely moved. The Norwegians had pulled off the closest thing possible to an optimal response to the most vexing problems that Covid-19 presented. So how did they do it? As it happens, the Norwegians also wanted to know.
30th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China Quarantine Cut Just First Step in Ending Global Isolation

China cut in half the length of time inbound travelers must spend in quarantine, making it easier for citizens to return and foreign companies to tend to business in the world’s second-largest economy after two-and-a-half years of isolation. Experts on topics from economics to health to business welcomed the move, though they said the reduction to 10 days of quarantine, from as long as three weeks previously, was just a first step toward reintegrating with the world. Health leaders in China said it wasn’t a major policy change, but a subtle adjustment as the virus itself continues to mutate.
30th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Video: The Dance School Lifting Up Kenya's Lost Girls of Covid

On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg Digital Originals explores how closed schools and economic hardship created a crisis for young women and girls in Kenya, and how an after-school program in Nairobi’s biggest informal settlement is creating a safe haven for some of them.
30th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Searches for overseas flights surge after China shortens quarantine

Online searches for air tickets on international routes with China surged after Beijing unexpectedly said it would slash COVID-19 quarantine norms, travel platforms said on Wednesday, a sign of pent-up demand after two years of tough curbs.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

China's easing COVID curbs spark travel inquiry surge, and caution

Online searches for Chinese airline tickets on domestic and international routes surged on Wednesday, after Beijing said it would slash COVID-19 quarantine requirements and made changes to a state-mandated mobile app used for local travel. The unexpected moves mark a significant easing of rigid curbs that have severely curtailed travel and battered China's economy, although tough measures remain in place including a scarcity of international flights, and many social media users voiced caution.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Widespread relief for Shanghai's restaurant sector as dine-in resumes

Restaurants and eateries in China's largest city Shanghai begun reopening their doors to diners on Wednesday, bringing widespread relief to an industry that was badly hit by the city's two month COVID-19 lockdown. Large chains such as hot pot brand Haidilao, fine dining establishments and family owned eateries had started scrubbing tableware and getting uniforms laundered since Saturday when authorities announced the curbs were lifting, a month after the city's lockdown eased on June 1.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

COVID can't break South Africa's love affair with shopping malls

With two days to go until opening to the public, workers rush to put the finishing touches on the Kwena Square shopping complex, a shiny $13 million sign that South Africans are defying the global "retail apocalypse". Not even COVID-19 could separate them from their beloved malls. "I love going to the mall with my daughter and my grandkids," said 54-year-old Kowie Erasmus, who's eagerly awaiting Friday's grand opening of Johannesburg's Kwena Square, which broke ground at the height of the pandemic.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Japan May retail sales rise faster than expected as COVID curbs ease

Japanese retail sales rose for a third straight month in May, reinforcing views that strong consumption will lead an economic rebound this quarter, although rising inflation poses a risk to household spending for the rest of 2022. Retail sales rose 3.6% in May from a year earlier, government data showed on Wednesday, slightly higher than the median market forecast for a 3.3% gain. It followed an upwardly revised 3.1% increase in April and marked the third month of advancement since March, when the government lifted all coronavirus restrictions on face-to-face services.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

The Best and Worst Places to Be as World Enters Next Covid Phase

Since November 2020, Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking has tracked the best and worst places to be during the pandemic, using a range of datapoints to capture a monthly snapshot of how the world’s biggest economies were handling this once-in-a-generation health crisis. Twenty editions in, the virus has become something most countries are living with. After nearly two years of fluctuation—during which the top and bottom of the Ranking shifted as the pandemic shape-changed—places have largely settled into their permanent positions, drawing the project to a natural close. June, 2022 will be our last update. In a reflection of how far we’ve come since the coronavirus first emerged in central China, this month’s top ranked are those most effectively putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror, with the fewest scars. They’ve been able to reopen their borders and economies without a substantial spike in deaths.
29th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

China Cuts Covid Quarantine to 10 Days for Travelers and Close Contacts

China reduced quarantine times for inbound travelers by half, the biggest shift yet in a Covid-19 policy that has left the world’s second-largest economy isolated as it continues to try and eliminate the virus. Travelers will now only need to spend seven days in a quarantine facility, and then monitor their health at home for a further three days, according to a revised government protocol released Tuesday by China’s National Health Commission. That’s down from 14 days hotel quarantine in many parts of China currently, and as many as 21 days of isolation in the past. The change, which still leaves China an outlier in a world that has mostly adjusted to living with the virus, comes after Beijing and Shanghai said they had no new locally-transmitted Covid infections on Monday, for the first time since February, following months of bruising curbs.
28th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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Pfizer, Moderna to be ready with BA.1-specific COVID boosters

Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc said on Tuesday they will be ready with COVID-19 vaccines designed to combat the BA.1 Omicron variant that was dominant last winter earlier than those designed to target currently dominant subvariants. Moderna said it would be ready with a "couple of hundred million" of bivalent vaccines designed to combat BA.1 by September, but it would be late October or early November if the vaccine maker needed to design a vaccine to combat the currently dominant BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
29th Jun 2022 - Reuters

What causes long COVID? Canadian researchers think they’ve found a key clue

Olympic gold medallist Alex Kopacz may be used to being out of breath when pushing a bobsled, but last year after he was hospitalized for COVID-19, he experienced a very different kind of breathlessness. He was put on oxygen for two months and experienced a number of other health setbacks in the months following his COVID-19 infection, including blood clots in his lungs and throughout his body. “It was hard to breathe and pretty much it was just going to be a matter of time to see if my body was going to heal from it,” Kopacz said. It took him almost four months before he was back on his feet and breathing normally again. But without even an official diagnosis of so-called long COVID, the then-31-year-old didn’t have answers about what was happening to him.
28th Jun 2022 - Global News

Wimbledon reviews Covid-19 protocols after Berrettini is forced out by virus

Wimbledon’s Covid-19 protocols are under review after Matteo Berrettini was forced to withdraw from Wimbledon on the morning of his first round match after testing positive for Covid-19. Berrettini, the No 8 seed, was one of the biggest contenders for the title having reached the Wimbledon final last year. After being out for nearly three months due to undergoing surgery on his finger, the Italian had returned at the beginning of the grass season and immediately won nine matches in a row, with titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s.
28th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Shanghai's Disneyland theme park to re-open on Thursday

The Walt Disney Co's Shanghai Disney Resort said on Tuesday it would reopen the Disneyland theme park on June 30, a month after the Chinese economic hub lifted a two month-long COVID-19 lockdown. The theme park has been shut since March 21, when the resort closed its doors amid an uptick of cases in Shanghai. The city lifted its lockdown on June 1 and the resort begun opening some areas just over a week later.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters.com

U.S. FDA advisers recommend inclusion of Omicron component for COVID boosters

Advisers to the U.S Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday overwhelmingly recommended the inclusion of an Omicron component for COVID-19 booster vaccines in the fall. The panel of advisers voted 19-2 in favor of the recommendation.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. FDA classifies recall of GE's ventilator batteries as most serious

U.S. health regulators on Tuesday classified the recall of some backup batteries of GE Healthcare's ventilators, which the company had initiated in mid-April, as the most serious type, saying that their use could lead to injuries or death. The CARESCAPE R860 ventilator's backup batteries, including replacement backup batteries, were recalled as they were running out earlier-than-expected, which could cause the device to shut down preventing the patient from receiving breathing support, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters.com

Omicron sub-variants BA.4, BA.5 make up more than 50% of U.S. COVID cases - CDC

The fast-spreading BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron are estimated to make up a combined 52% of the coronavirus cases in the United States as of June 25, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday. The two sublineages accounted for more than a third of U.S. cases for the week of June 18. They were added to the World Health Organization's monitoring list in March and designated as variants of concern by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Novartis to cut up to 8000 jobs globally

Novartis said on Tuesday a previously announced restructuring programme could lead to 8,000 jobs being cut, or about 7.4% of its global workforce, including up to 1,400 in Switzerland. The job cuts, previously projected by Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan to be in the "single digit thousands", are part of a restructuring programme the Swiss pharmaceutical group announced in April, targeting savings of at least $1 billion by 2024.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Pharma largely failed to follow human rights principles with its Covid-19 vaccines and drugs

More than two years after the Covid-19 pandemic emerged, a new scorecard finds that 19 of 26 pharmaceutical companies that marketed vaccines or therapeutics to contain the virus rank poorly when it came to complying with human rights principles. The rankings were compiled by examining actions taken to provide access to products, including commitments and measurable targets; transparency in disclosing R&D and production costs, and profits; the extent to which international cooperation was pursued and patents were enforced; and a willingness to provide fair pricing, equitable distribution, and technology transfers, among other things.
27th Jun 2022 - STAT News


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Covid-19: UK makes first payments to compensate injury or death from vaccines

The first compensation payments in the UK have been made to families who have been bereaved, or to people who have been injured, as a result of a covid-19 vaccine. Vikki Spit from Cumbria is believed to be the first person to receive compensation, after her 48 year old partner, Zion, became ill eight days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Zion, a former rock singer, died at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle in May 2021. A handful of other people have received payments in the past few days under the government’s vaccine damage payment scheme (VDPS), which pays out up to a maximum of £120 000 (€140 000; $150 000). Sarah Moore, a partner at the Hausfeld law firm, which is representing people seeking compensation, told The BMJ it was an important moment. “While the VDPS payments are very modest in amount, and will do very little to alleviate the financial difficulties with which many families are now struggling as a consequence of injury or bereavement, the fact of payment for some will mark a moment of vindication in that it is the clearest statement yet, by the government, that in some rare instances the covid-19 vaccines have caused very significant injury or death.”
27th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Shanghai will gradually resume dining-in at restaurants from June 29

Shanghai will gradually resume dining-in at restaurants from June 29 in low-risk areas and areas without any community-level spread of COVID-19 during the previous week,a Shanghai government official said on Sunday. The Chinese econonic hub lifted a two month city-wide lockdown on June 1, but many establishments have remained unable to offer indoor dining since mid-March. Shanghai reported no new locally transmitted cases - either symptomatic or asymptomatic - for June 24 and June 25.
27th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Beijing to reopen schools, Shanghai declares victory over COVID

Beijing on Saturday said it would allow primary and secondary schools to resume in-person classes and Shanghai's top party boss declared victory over COVID-19 after the city reported zero new local cases for the first time in two months. The two major cities were among several places in China that implemented curbs to stop the spread of the Omicron wave during March to May, with Shanghai imposing a two month-long city-wide lockdown that lifted on June 1.
27th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Bereaved may take legal action against Government over coronavirus inquiry delay

Bereaved families have warned they may take legal action against the Government over delays to starting the coronavirus public inquiry. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group is considering bringing a judicial review over the failure to provide a setting up date for the inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemic. They say this leaves the inquiry in "limbo", more than six months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Baroness Hallett to chair the probe in December 2021.
27th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

No Government Money, No Problem for Moderna and Pfizer

A Food and Drug Administration committee will meet Tuesday to discuss how to move forward with the next generation of vaccines ahead of a booster campaign this fall. Paying for them is another matter. Congress has so far failed to approve additional funding for the shots—bad news for the U.S. population at large, but not bad at all for vaccine makers. They will just charge higher prices in the private market. The White House already is preparing to ration its vaccine supply to the most vulnerable Americans, according to White House coronavirus coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. For Moderna, MRNA the first manufacturer to release data for an updated vaccine based on the Omicron variant of Covid-19, this could herald a new phase of the pandemic. “Either the government will find the money or we will go to the private market,” said Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel in an interview. “There’s no way Moderna won’t be there for the U.S. booster campaign this fall.”
27th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

COVID-19: People in France 'should wear masks again on public transport' as new coronavirus wave hits nation

People in France should wear masks again in crowded areas, particularly if they are on public transport, to help tackle a new COVID-19 wave, according to the country's health minister. The increase in coronavirus cases is being fuelled by new variants, with 17,601 fresh infections over the past 24 hours - the highest Monday figure since 18 April. It comes as the number of people in England's hospitals who have tested positive for COVID jumped by more than a third in a week.
27th Jun 2022 - Sky News

UK Covid cases break 250,000 a day for first time since mid-April after BA.4 and BA.5 surge

Covid-19 cases have passed the 250,000-a-day mark in the UK, rising by 130 per cent in only three weeks. New daily cases are now at the highest level they have been for all but a month of the pandemic so far. That is an increase of 148,350 cases, or 130 per cent, in just over three weeks – putting rates well above any peak seen before 2022, although still some way behind the record of 349,011, on March 31 this year. New infection levels have only ever been above 250,000 a day in the UK between mid-March and mid-April this year. Scientists say the rapid growth of the new Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 is the main driver of the increase. Daily symptomatic cases have more than doubled this month, rising from 114,030 on June 1 to 262,380 on Friday, according to the latest figures on the ZOE Covid Study app.
27th Jun 2022 - iNews

COVID an 'inconvenience' rather than 'life-threatening' for many now, says WHO

COVID is now an "inconvenience" for most people rather than "life-threatening", the World Health Organisation's special envoy on the virus has told Sky News. But concerns remain for those who are older and with health conditions, as well as the unvaccinated, warned Dr David Nabarro. He urged people to be "responsible" and continue to wear masks and social distance "to protect others" - as COVID cases continue to surge. Around 1.7 million people in the UK are estimated to have tested positive for the virus last week, up 23% from 1.4 million the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
27th Jun 2022 - Sky News

Covid-booster response hope for most vulnerable

More than a million vulnerable people could improve their protection against Covid by taking a short break from medication after a booster jab, a trial suggests. It found stopping the common immune-suppressing drug methotrexate for two weeks doubled spike antibody levels for up to 12 weeks. Some people experienced disease flare-ups but no impact on quality of life. Research is needed to find out if a similar approach works for other drugs. Patients should always consult their doctor or specialist hospital team before pausing their medication, scientists writing in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine said.
27th Jun 2022 - BBC News


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An NFT of a Covid-19 Vaccine Heads to Auction

A nonfungible token, or NFT, showcasing the molecular technology of the mRNA vaccine used to fight Covid-19, will be auctioned at Christie’s online next month to raise money for future medical research. The 3-D digital work is designed by the University of Pennsylvania and Drew Weissman, a doctor whose research helped create mRNA vaccines. The one-minute visual work also comes with a storyboard that explains how mRNA vaccines work to fight the Covid-19 virus; copies of original mRNA patent documents owned by the University of Pennsylvania; and an original letter from Weissman, director of Vaccine Research at The Perelman School of Medicine at the university. mRNA, short for messenger ribonucleic acid, is a single-stranded molecule of RNA that corresponds to the genetic sequence of a gene. Unlike traditional vaccines, which use a weakened or inactive germ to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines are designed to teach the body to create a protein that triggers the immune response.
26th Jun 2022 - Barron's

Thais 'willing' to wear masks in public

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has expressed satisfaction over news that most Thais are voluntarily wearing masks for protection against Covid-19 despite the mask mandate being lifted on Thursday. Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, government spokesman, on Saturday said the PM expressed concern about the health of the public as coronavirus infection risks remained. The Department of Disease Control (DDC) recommends that people with underlying conditions, the elderly and pregnant women who have yet to get boosters keep wearing masks.
26th Jun 2022 - ฺBangkok Post

Bereaved May Take Legal Action Against UK Over Covid Inquiry Delay

Bereaved families have warned they may take legal action against the Government over delays to starting the coronavirus public inquiry. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group is considering bringing a judicial review over the failure to provide a setting up date for the inquiry into the Government's handling of the pandemic. They say this leaves the inquiry in "limbo", more than six months after Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Baroness Hallett to chair the probe in December 2021. The PM has previously said the inquiry would start in spring 2022, but its terms of reference have not yet been published, nor a setting-up date specified. The group says the delay could cost lives, as it slows down how quickly lessons can be learned, and is worried key evidence could be tampered with or destroyed.
26th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Hong Kong hospitals experience uptick in Covid-related admissions

Hong Kong hospitals have experienced a slight uptick in coronavirus-related admissions but the number of serious cases is stable, a health official has said, as the daily infection tally remained in the four-digit range for the 12th day. The city on Sunday recorded 1,917 coronavirus cases, comprising 1,799 local and 118 imported infections. The figure marked an increase from Saturday’s total of 1,794. No additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported. Hong Kong’s overall coronavirus tally currently stands at 1,237,623 cases and 9,398 fatalities.
26th Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post

Covid-19: Hospital patients with coronavirus in the East of England is highest for six weeks

Article reports that the number of patients with coronavirus being treated in hospitals in the East of England is at the highest level for nearly six weeks as confirmed cases in the community surge. There were 625 people with Covid-19 in hospital in the region on Thursday, 23 June, which is more than one-third more than the previous week. The number of patients had dropped to below 350 in early June as the Omicron wave subsided. The figures come as health experts warned nearly one in six people aged 75 and over have not received any dose of vaccine in the past six months, putting them more at risk of severe disease. The growing prevalence of the virus is likely to be driven by the spread of the latest Omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5, which are now thought to be the dominant strains in much of the UK. Dr Mary Ramsay of the UK Health Security Agency said: "We continue to see increases in Covid-19 outbreaks within care homes and hospitalisations among those aged 75 years and over.
25th Jun 2022 - ITV News

Examining the Partnership Between Pharmacy and Public Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pharmacy and public health have a long history of collaboration during an emergency. One example involves efforts taken during the H1N1 influenza pandemic, when pharmacy was mobilized to help administer thousands of influenza vaccines across the country as an extension of public health services.1 More recently, the world faced a new pandemic: coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Pharmacies and pharmacists continue to play a vital role during this pandemic in providing education and clinical services to support public health mitigation strategies. Since the first COVID-19 vaccines were authorized for emergency use in the United States, strategies have evolved to provide COVID-19 vaccinations, booster doses, testing, and treatment. In addition, steps have been taken to ensure that people wear high-quality masks, maintain social distancing, and access good ventilation in indoor spaces.2 This article highlights the myriad of ways that pharmacists have reinforced and bolstered public health policies over the last 2 years to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic head-on.
25th Jun 2022 - Pharmacy Times

UK prepares to include over-50s in autumn Covid booster campaign

The UK government is getting ready to roll out Covid-19 booster jabs to all adults aged over 50, in a broader autumn campaign than its vaccine advisers had previously suggested. Under provisional guidance issued last month, only care home residents, the over-65s, frontline health and social workers and vulnerable younger people would be eligible for the next round of vaccines. But Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary, told the Financial Times that he had asked his team “to be ready for it to be over-50s and above."
25th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

Finally, we're (almost) outrunning Covid-19

It’s a joy to run with the masses in the city, but we’re not out of the woods yet. And although we're finally, we're (almost) outrunning Covid-19, in Singapore we still have a way to go yet
25th Jun 2022 - The Straits Times

Latin America's kids slid into education black hole during pandemic

In Bolivia's highland city La Paz, Maribel Sanchez's children spent much of the last two years huddling over a small smartphone screen to attend online classes amid a lengthy lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The two boys, aged 11 and eight, frequently missed lessons when their timetables collided as the family had no computer. Bolivian school children only finally returned to in-person classes in March this year, many still not full time. The story is echoed around the region from Mexico to Brazil. Latin American has one of the worst records of school closures globally, according to a World Bank report, which shows children here faced almost 60 weeks of fully or partially closed schools between March 2020 and March this year. That's behind only South Asia and twice the level of Europe, Central and East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa or the Pacific. In North America there were long partial closures, but just seven weeks of full closures versus 29 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
24th Jun 2022 - Reuters

UK Covid Cases Rise Again Driven by BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron Subvariants

Covid infection rates are rising again in the UK and across much of Europe, driven by newer versions of the omicron variant, amid concerns that another wave will disrupt businesses and add to pressure on health systems. In England, the estimated number of people testing positive for Covid-19 climbed to almost 1.4 million -- about 1 in 40 people -- in the week ending June 18, according to an Office for National Statistics report published Friday. That compares with around 1 in 50 people in the prior week. In Scotland, the estimate in the latest week increased to around 1 in 20 people.
24th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid Resurgence Across UK, Europe Driven by Omicron Subvariants

Covid infection rates are rising again in the UK and across much of Europe, driven by newer versions of the omicron variant, amid concerns that another wave will disrupt businesses and add to pressure on health systems. In England, the estimated number of people testing positive for Covid-19 climbed to almost 1.4 million -- about 1 in 40 people -- in the week ending June 18, according to an Office for National Statistics report published Friday. That compares with around 1 in 50 people in the prior week. In Scotland, the estimate in the latest week increased to around 1 in 20 people.
24th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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Video: How the Pandemic Has Accelerated Child Marriage in India

In a bid to combat child marriage, Archana Sahay started a 24-hour helpline based in the central Indian city of Bhopal. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, she was inundated with calls: Some were what she had come to expect from already-vulnerable girls and people concerned with their welfare. Others caught her by surprise. On this episode of “The Pay Check,” Bloomberg explores how another unforeseen consequence of Covid-19 in India has been a significant increase in child marriage—and how one woman is trying to fight it.
24th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Both sides blast WTO's patent waiver for COVID vaccines

Now that the World Trade Organization has relaxed intellectual property restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines, the question is: Will any developing countries take advantage to produce their own shots? With wealthy nations discarding expired vaccines and poor countries turning down donations because of a lack of demand, it’s hard to imagine manufacturers in countries such as India and South Africa being motivated to produce jabs. Nonetheless, South Africa hailed the move, which allows vaccines and their ingredients to be produced without authorization from the patent holder over the next five years. The South African government also admitted however to the daunting task of gearing up for the manufacture of shots. “To scale up the production on the continent, further partnerships will be needed including access to know-how and technologies,” the South Africa government said in a statement.
24th Jun 2022 - FiercePharma

Eric Adams Stopped Enforcing Covid Vaccine Mandate for NYC Businesses

Mayor Eric Adams of New York City has not enforced the city’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for employees at private businesses, and has no plans to begin inspecting businesses or begin fining those that are not in compliance. Newsday first reported on the lack of enforcement of the vaccine mandate for private employers. “We have been focused on prioritizing education instead of enforcement when it comes to the private sector mandate, which is how we’ve been able to get more than 87 percent of all New Yorkers with their first dose to date,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, said in an email. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a vaccine mandate for employees at private businesses in December, the most far-reaching local measure in the United States at the time. The mandate applied to around 184,000 businesses of all sizes with employees who work on-site in New York City.
23rd Jun 2022 - The New York Times

Austria scraps COVID vaccine mandate, says it split society

Austria’s health minister announced Thursday that the country is scrapping a dormant coronavirus vaccine mandate, saying the measure risked polarizing society and could even lead to fewer people getting the shot. The government announced plans last year requiring all people aged 18 and over to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the first country in Europe to do so. The law took effect in February but lawmakers suspended the mandate before police were due to enforce it in mid-March. Health Minister Johannes Rauch said the rise of new virus variants had changed citizens’ perception of the effectiveness and necessity of a vaccination, even among those willing to get the shot. This could deter them from voluntarily getting booster shots that will help curb the outbreak in the fall, he said. “The vaccine mandate hinders some people who are generally willing to get the shot from taking the booster, the idea being: I’m not going to be told what to do,” said Rauch.
23rd Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

South Africa repeals COVID rules on mask-wearing, gatherings, entry

South Africa has repealed COVID-19 restrictions on mask-wearing in indoor public spaces, limits on the size of gatherings and entry requirements at its borders, a notice in the government gazette showed.
23rd Jun 2022 - CNBC Africa

Austria scraps already-suspended COVID vaccine mandate

Austria is scrapping an already-suspended COVID-19 vaccine mandate as it has divided the country and is unlikely to raise one of western Europe's lowest vaccination rates, Health Minister Johannes Rauch said on Thursday.
23rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

COVID-19 vaccine scheme for world's poorest pushes for delivery slowdown

Leaders of the global scheme aiming to get COVID-19 vaccines to the world's poorest are pushing manufacturers including Pfizer and Moderna to cut or slow deliveries of about half a billion shots so doses are not wasted. COVAX, the World Health Organization-led scheme, wants between 400 and 600 million fewer vaccines doses than initially contracted from six pharmaceutical companies, according to internal documents seen by Reuters.
23rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 Vaccines Prevented 20 Million Deaths in One Year: Study

Covid vaccines that were developed in record time saved an estimated 20 million lives in the first year of the rollout, more than half of them in wealthier countries, according to the first study of its kind to quantify the impact. While more than 7 million deaths were likely averted in countries covered by Covax, the World Health Organization-backed distribution program, the research nonetheless highlights the devastation caused by uneven access. About one in five lives lost due to Covid in poorer countries could have been prevented if WHO targets had been reached, data published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal show.
23rd Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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COVID-19: Britons to have first access to vaccines and treatments when new science super-centre opens

Britons will have access to all the latest vaccines and treatments when a new research and manufacturing centre opens in the UK. American pharmaceutical giant Moderna is opening a new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre that will develop vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, including COVID vaccines that can protect against multiple variants. Construction is expected to start as early as this year, with the first mRNA vaccine due to be produced in the UK in 2025.
22nd Jun 2022 - Sky News

From Indonesia to Pacific, women have borne brunt of pandemic challenges: UN

Women have borne the brunt of hardship two years after the pandemic, facing less access to vaccines and food, and taking on more domestic work, a new UN report shows. Experts say that gender policies must be implemented to ensure that women and girls are included in the recovery taking place across Asia and the Pacific
22nd Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post

CDC lowers the Covid-19 travel risk for 2 nations in Europe

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its travel advisory page for Covid-19. Just two new places, both in Africa, joined the crowded "high" risk category.
22nd Jun 2022 - CNN

US babies, toddlers get their first COVID-19 shots

Babies and toddlers began getting the COVID-19 vaccine in thighs and arms across the United States on Tuesday, in many cases in front of cameras and a masked cheering audience.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Universal Beijing Resort to reopen on June 25 as COVID cases drop

The Universal Beijing Resort said on Wednesday it will reopen on June 25 after being closed for nearly two months, as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the Chinese capital falls. The resort said on its official WeChat account that after it reopens, all visitors must show a negative PCR test taken within the past 72 hours and wear masks at all times.
22nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

As Kids Under 5 Start Getting the Covid-19 Vaccine, Parents Struggle to Find Appointments

In the US, federal health authorities on Saturday recommended Moderna’s two-dose vaccine as well as a three-dose regimen by Pfizer and BioNTech for children as young as 6 months. It was a moment some parents and caregivers had been eagerly awaiting, yet some of them haven’t managed to book appointments for their children, while others are holding off.
22nd Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

$1 Billion Pledged to Help Countries Cope With Future Pandemics

Donors including the US and the European Union have pledged $1.1 billion in financing to help countries cope with future pandemics. Indonesia, as this year’s host of the Group of 20 meetings, pushed the world’s biggest economies to create a global health fund that would aid nations struggling with the next global health crises, said Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati in a late Tuesday briefing. The Southeast Asian country is also among the donors, along with Germany, Singapore and the Wellcome Trust, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said after the G-20 meeting of health and finance ministers in Yogyakarta. The goal is to reach $10 billion of financing each year, he added. The fund is set to start operating after an expected June 30 approval from the board of the World Bank, which is hosting the financing mechanism.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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Wrist-worn trackers can detect Covid before symptoms, study finds

Health trackers worn on the wrist could be used to spot Covid-19 days before any symptoms appear, according to researchers. Growing numbers of people worldwide use the devices to monitor changes in skin temperature, heart and breathing rates. Now a new study shows that this data could be combined with artificial intelligence (AI) to diagnose Covid-19 even before the first tell-tale signs of the disease appear. “Wearable sensor technology can enable Covid-19 detection during the presymptomatic period,” the researchers concluded. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Open. The discovery could lead to health trackers being adapted with AI to detect Covid-19 early, simply by spotting basic physiological changes.
22nd Jun 2022 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Brits to have first access to vaccines and treatments when new science super-centre opens

US pharmaceutical firm Moderna is to establish a global clinical trials base in the UK, which it says will endorse the country as a science superpower - and future-proof it against emerging health threats.
22nd Jun 2022 - Sky News

Moderna to Build mRNA Manufacturing and Research Center in UK

Moderna Inc. plans to build a research and manufacturing center in the UK in a partnership with the government aimed at providing the country with messenger RNA vaccines against future health threats. The agreement will ensure National Health Service patients gain access to mRNA vaccines targeting a range of diseases, including potential shots that can protect against multiple Covid variants, the government said in a statement. The UK, which expects the first mRNA vaccine to be produced in 2025, declined to disclose the size of the investment or the location of the center. “The center will be able to scale up production rapidly in the event of a health emergency, significantly boosting the UK’s ability to respond to future pandemics,” according to the statement.
22nd Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Singapore Sees Surge in Covid Cases Linked to New Subvariants

Singapore saw a 23% week-on-week increase in Covid-19 community infections, with the surge in cases mainly driven by newer omicron subvariants. The new variants, known as BA.4 and BA.5, account for about 30% of new Covid-19 cases in the past week with the rise in related cases likely to continue, the country’s Ministry of Health said in a statement Tuesday. Both strains have higher transmissibility though evidence currently shows that the severity of infections linked to these subvariants is similar to that of earlier strains of omicron. The country has not seen a significant increase in the number of severe Covid-19 cases in hospitals and cases in the intensive care units remain low, the ministry said.
22nd Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

IP is no barrier to COVID vaccine access, says industry -

While proponents argue waiving IP on COVID-19 vaccines would better enable low- and middle-income countries to inoculate their populations, the pharma industry has called the proposals “unnecessary and harmful to innovation”. Proposals to waive COVID-19 product patents have been described as “political posturing” and an “answer to a problem that does not exist”. The Quad compromise, a World Health Organization plan which would, if enacted, release members from granting or enforcing COVID-19 vaccine patents, was discussed at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) last week. But the pharmaceutical industry has said the move could “undermine innovation and industry’s ability to partner, invest at risk, and respond quickly to future pandemics”.
21st Jun 2022 - Pharmaphorum

New Covid vaccine which protects against Omicron variant could be in the UK by autumn

Older British people and medical workers may be given a new version of the Covid-19 vaccine this year which is tailor-made to protect against the Omicron variant. Ministers hope that the next generation of jabs made both by Pfizer and Moderna will be ready in time for autumn, when a new round of vaccines will be administered to certain groups. Over-65s, vulnerable people below that age, and frontline health and care workers are due to be invited for another vaccination to top up their immunity levels.
21st Jun 2022 - iNews

Covid surges across Europe as experts warn not let guard down

Multiple European countries are experiencing a significant surge in new Covid-19 infections, as experts warn that with almost all restrictions lifted and booster take-up often low, cases could soar throughout the summer leading to more deaths. According to the Our World in Data scientific aggregator, the rolling seven-day average of confirmed new cases per million inhabitants is on the rise in countries including Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark. Portugal has experienced the most dramatic wave, with infections per million remaining at a seven-day average of 2,043 on Monday – the second highest new case rate in the world, although down somewhat from an early June high of 2,878.
21st Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Biggest Risk Factor For Severe Covid-19 Other Than Age? Autoantibodies

Although only between 1% and 4% of individuals carry autoantibodies that neutralize type I IFNs, they consistently make up around 20% of Covid-19 fatalities across age categories. Other than age, presence of type I interferon autoantibodies is the strongest predictor of severe Covid-19 — more so than sex, common comorbidities, and most genetic variants. Future research should focus on how and why people develop autoantibodies against type I IFNs, and whether or not this is preventable
21st Jun 2022 - Forbes

PhRMA says COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver is a 'political stunt,' while advocate argues it doesn't go far enough

Now that the World Trade Organization has relaxed intellectual property restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines, the question is: Will any developing countries take advantage to produce their own shots? With wealthy nations discarding expired vaccines and poor countries turning down donations because of a lack of demand, it’s hard to imagine manufacturers in countries such as India and South Africa being motivated to produce jabs. Nonetheless, South Africa hailed the move, which allows vaccines and their ingredients to be produced without authorization from the patent holder over the next five years. The South African government also admitted however to the daunting task of gearing up for the manufacture of shots.
21st Jun 2022 - FiercePharma

UK scientists urge higher uptake of Covid boosters among elderly

Around a fifth of people aged 75 and over in England have yet to have a fourth Covid jab, data suggests, leading to calls for a renewed push for vaccination of the vulnerable amid rising infections and hospitalisations. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in the week ending 11 June an estimated one in 50 people in England had Covid – about 1.13 million people – a rise from 1 in 70 the week before. Upticks have also been seen in the rest of the UK, while hospitalisations are also rising. The resurgence is thought to be down to a rise in Omicron variants including BA.4 and BA.5, although scientists say other factors may also be at play, including a return to pre-pandemic behaviour, and waning immunity.
21st Jun 2022 - The Guardian


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Over-75s urged to get Covid booster jab as cases rise

Over-75s and people at high risk have been urged to get a Covid booster vaccine, amid warnings of a new wave of infections in Scotland. The spring booster jab is available until 30 June to everyone in the older age group and people over 12 if they have a weakened immune system. About a third of Scots in the immunosuppressed group have not yet come forward for an additional vaccine. Latest data estimates that around one in 30 people in Scotland has Covid. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 176,900 people have the virus - about 3.36% of the population.
19th Jun 2022 - BBC News

CDC Recommends Covid-19 Vaccines for Young Children

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that children as young as 6 months receive newly authorized Covid-19 shots, the final step to making the vaccines available. The CDC said Saturday that the young children should receive either the two-dose series from Moderna Inc. or the three-dose series made by Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE. As soon as Monday, children under 5 years, who haven’t been able to get vaccinated during the pandemic, could start getting inoculated. “Together, with science leading the charge, we have taken another important step forward in our nation’s fight against Covid-19. We know millions of parents and care givers are eager to get their young children vaccinated, and with today’s decision, they can,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
19th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

WTO Approves Vaccine-Patent Waiver to Help Combat Covid Pandemic

Article reports that the World Trade Organization approved a politically important deal Friday to water down intellectual property restrictions for the manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines after an almost two-year effort involving scores of high-level meetings and much political arm twisting. During the early morning hours in Geneva, WTO ministers approved a package of agreements that included the vaccine patent waiver, which Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala previously said was necessary to end the “morally unacceptable” inequity of access to Covid-19 vaccines. The WTO’s last-minute deal -- secured after an all-night negotiating session in Geneva -- is an important victory for Okonjo-Iweala, the former head of Gavi - the vaccine alliance, who actively stumped for the accord during her first year as the WTO’s top trade official.
19th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

WTO agrees partial patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines

The World Trade Organization has struck deals on a partial patent waiver for Covid-19 vaccines, and made agreements in several other fields of global contention, after a tense six-day ministerial meeting that has renewed some faith in the battered multilateral trading system.
18th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

BioNTech chief calls for speedy ruling on Covid vaccines that target latest strains

Health regulators should decide by the end of the month whether to approve Covid-19 vaccines targeting the most recent virus strains without first requiring clinical data, BioNTech’s chief executive has said, as studies suggest jabs developed earlier in the pandemic are less effective against the latest variants. Uğur Şahin warned that a sub-variant of Omicron that fully escapes vaccines’ protection might emerge as countries prepare to launch autumn booster campaigns. The debate over whether to allow a more rapid switch to an updated vaccine is becoming more “urgent”, he said
18th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

How Japan achieved one of the worlds lowest Covid-19 death rates

Article reports that Japan’s Covid-19 death rate is the lowest among the world’s wealthiest nations, with health experts pointing to continued mask wearing, extensive vaccination and an already healthy population as the core factors behind its success. The population has continued to adhere to basic infection control measures, including avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated venues, as other parts of the world grapple with pandemic fatigue. And Japan’s measures have been bolstered by a robust vaccination program and free medical care
18th Jun 2022 - Business Standard

Covid hospital admissions rise in Europe as sub-variants fuel new wave

European countries are experiencing a surge in Covid-19 hospital admissions driven by sub-variants of the highly infectious Omicron strain, threatening a fresh global wave of the disease as immunity levels wane and pandemic restrictions are lifted. Admissions have risen in several countries including France and England, according to data analysed by the Financial Times. The BA.5 sub-variant of Omicron now accounts for more than 80 per cent of new infections in Portugal. In Germany, where admissions have been rising for over a week, the share of Covid-19 infections ascribed to BA.5 doubled at the end of last month.
18th Jun 2022 - Financial Times

China's Zero-Covid Policy Will Stretch Into 2023, US Envoy Says

China’s stringent “zero Covid” policy of travel restrictions and city-wide lockdowns is likely to stretch into next year, and is actively discouraging American and European investment in China, the US ambassador to the country said. “My honest assumption is that we’ll see the continuation of ‘zero Covid’ probably into the beginning months of 2023 -- that’s what the Chinese government is signaling,” Nicholas Burns, the American envoy in Beijing, said during an online event on Thursday. The harsh lockdown in the commercial center and financial hub of Shanghai -- where many US companies have operations and base executives -- has prompted many American businesspeople to leave the country, Burns said.
18th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

EU drugs watchdog begins review of Moderna's variant COVID vaccine

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) started a rolling review on Friday of a variant-adapted COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna (MRNA.O), as coronavirus cases linked to Omicron sub-variants see an uptick in the region. U.S.-based Moderna's so-called bivalent vaccine targets two strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus behind COVID, the original strain first identified in China, and the Omicron variant. Last week, Moderna said its bivalent vaccine produced a better immune response against Omicron than the original shot.
17th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Swiss COVID-19 vaccine purchase plan fails to pass parliament

The Swiss parliament failed to finance the government's plan to buy COVID-19 vaccines in 2023, forcing the cabinet to try to renegotiate contracts with Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech, for millions of doses. With the two houses of parliament split over the funding request, budget rules required the adoption of the cheaper version of draft legislation, the SDA news agency said in a report posted on parliament's website.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-era health funding extended by Anthony Albanese in first meeting of new national cabinet

$760 million more in COVID-era funding will be given to the states. The extended funding deal was given in recognition that the pandemic was continuing. National Cabinet also agreed to health network reforms to ease pressure on emergency departments.
17th Jun 2022 - ABC News

China Perspective Podcast: China tightens restrictions with 'flash lockdowns' as Covid-19 cases flare-up

An increase in cases makes China tighten up restrictions again, but how sustainable are these "flash lockdowns"? On the international front, despite the strong words directed toward the US during Minister Wei's speech during the Shangri-La Dialogue, his meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the summit could indicate that China does not want their relationship with the US to veer into conflict.
17th Jun 2022 - The Straits Times

Thailand Mulls Longer Hours for Pubs, Bars as Covid Cases Drop

The country’s main Covid-19 task force will consider a proposal on Friday to scrap the mandatory closure, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters on Thursday. Businesses must still adhere to local rules, which may differ among provinces, he said. Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy has shredding travel and economic restrictions to kick-start growth as new infections have dropped. The relaxations comes as tourism-dependent countries scramble and compete to woo travelers amid accelerating inflation and sagging consumption. “It’s time to bring back some normal activities with serious risk of Covid-19 to the public health having receded,” said Anutin. The panel will also discuss declaring more safe areas, or the so-called green zones, where the virus outbreak has subsided in recent weeks, he said.
16th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Pregnant Mothers in Mexico Saw Death Rates Surge During Height of Covid Pandemic

Vallejo is among the 2,240 mothers in Mexico who’ve died because of complications from their pregnancy since the pandemic began. When Covid-19 patients overwhelmed the health-care system, government leaders prioritized their care over that of expectant mothers, turning labor and delivery—and more broadly, women’s health—into an afterthought. Pregnancy-related death rates across the country spiked by more than 60% in the first year of the pandemic, an analysis published in the journal BMC Public Health shows. By the beginning of 2021, 81 women were dying for every 100,000 live births, based on government data, compared with 24 at the same time in 2019.
16th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Beijing Bar-Linked COVID Outbreak Is Easing as Measures Take Effect, Official Says

The city of Beijing on Thursday declared an initial victory in its latest battle with COVID-19 after testing millions of people and quarantining thousands in the past week to stem an outbreak prolonged by a sudden wave of cases linked to a bar. The flare-up at the popular Heaven Supermarket Bar known for its cheap liquor and rowdy nights emerged just days after the Chinese capital started to lift widespread curbs. Restrictions had been in place for around a month in Beijing to tackle a broader outbreak that began in late April is very modest by global standards, with a total of 351 cases found so far, but reflects how challenging it is, with the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, for China to make a success out of its strategy of stamping out each cluster of cases as soon as it materialises. "After eight days of hard fighting and the concerted efforts of Beijing residents in the battle, the swift and decisive measures have shown their effect," Beijing city government spokesperson Xu Hejian said.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters

The Bahamas Removes COVID-19 Testing Requirement for Fully Vaccinated Travellers

In addition to eliminating the mandatory Bahamas Travel Health Visa, the Government of The Bahamas announced today that fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to submit to pre-travel COVID-19 testing to enter the country.
16th Jun 2022 - Business Insider

Trends are shifting, but Covid-19 and its effects are still not equitable

Through the many phases of the Covid-19 pandemic -- nearly a dozen variants, the introduction of vaccines, the dropping of prevention measures and more -- one thing has remained constant: The virus and its effects are not one-size-fits-all. Over the past few months, two unique trends have emerged: For the first time in the pandemic, Covid-19 case rates in the United States are higher among Asian people, and death rates are higher among White people than any other racial or ethnic group. These trends are a marked shift among groups that, data suggests, have tended to fare better overall during the pandemic. But there are critical limitations in federal data that mask persistent inequities, experts say.
16th Jun 2022 - CNN

Dogs trained to sniff out COVID in schools are getting a lot of love for their efforts

Huntah is part of a program developed by scientists at Florida International University in Miami who have trained dogs to detect COVID on surfaces and in people. The researchers started working with the animals in the early months of the pandemic — and have successfully deployed them in Florida, Hawaii and Massachusetts to sniff out the virus. Similar projects are underway in other countries, including Finland and France.
16th Jun 2022 - NPR

India's May trade deficit widens to $24.29 billion - trade ministry

Covid recovery - India's May trade deficit widened to $24.29 billion from $6.53 billion a year ago, a government statement said on Wednesday. May's trade deficit was pushed up by a surge in imports, which rose 62.83% year-on-year to $63.22 billion, while exports rose 20.55% to $38.94 billion, revised trade data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed.
15th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Jun 2022

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Hong Kong RAT proof nothing to get hungover about

Try as Hong Kong might, the number of daily Covid-19 cases remains stubbornly high. In an effort to reduce them in time for celebrations of the city’s 25th anniversary of its return to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, patrons of pubs, bars and clubs are from Thursday required to show proof of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result. It is an understandable move given such places are behind half a dozen recent clusters in entertainment districts involving hundreds of people. Random raids by police of numerous premises have led to dozens of fines and temporary closures for the violation of rules. Authorities have opted for the RAT strategy rather than rolling back a phased reopening of social and economic activity. The last of three stages remains to be implemented, but outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor contends circumstances are not right for that to happen before July 1.
16th Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post

Shanghai to Mass Test Whole City Every Weekend Till End July

Shanghai, which reported just 16 Covid cases for Wednesday, will conduct mass testing drives every weekend until the end of July in the latest display of the lengths authorities are going to in order to adhere to nation’s zero tolerance approach to the virus. A temporary lockdown will also be imposed on residential complexes where a Covid case is detected in the week leading up to the weekend testing, Zhao Dandan, an official with the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission said at a briefing Wednesday. The lockdown will be lifted once everyone in the compound has been tested, he said. In an effort to detect cases early and break transmission chains, the city’s residents will need to take nucleic acid tests at least once a week until the end of July, with workers at supermarkets, barbers, drugstores, shopping malls and restaurants required to undergo daily testing.
16th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Hong Kong Covid Cases Top 1000 as Home Isolation Tweaked Again

Hong Kong reported more than 1,000 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest in two months, with the rise in infections spurring officials to continue to tighten rules around who can isolate at home. There were 971 new local infections, including many among school children, their families and patrons of nightlife venues, Department of Health official Albert Au said at the daily virus briefing. Another 76 infections were detected among travelers who recently entered the city, bringing the total to 1,047 -- the highest since April 14.
16th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

UK to Roll Out Drugs From Pfizer, Shionogi to Fight Superbugs

England is rolling out a pair of antibiotics from Pfizer Inc. and Shionogi & Co. as part of a pioneering program aimed at stimulating a broken market and taking on the rising threat of superbugs. Under the deal announced Wednesday by the National Health Service, the drug companies will receive a fixed annual fee for their antibiotics. The payments in the program, the first of its kind, will be as much as £10 million ($12 million) a year for up to 10 years. About 1,700 patients a year with severe bacterial infections will be eligible for the drugs. With germs becoming increasingly resistant to current antibiotics, the NHS said the drugs will provide a lifeline to patients with life-threatening infections like sepsis or hospital or ventilator pneumonia.
15th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

The inside story of Recovery: how the world’s largest COVID-19 trial transformed treatment – and what it could do for other diseases

Two years ago this week, the Recovery trial transformed the care of COVID patients with its dexamethasone announcement. Within four hours, the steroid was included in NHS treatment recommendations. Almost overnight, treatment of COVID patients around the world changed completely. It has been estimated that dexamethasone may have saved a million lives in the first nine months following the announcement. Recovery, jointly led by Oxford Population Health and the Nuffield Department of Medicine, is a groundbreaking scientific machine which, from the outset, moved at unprecedented speed. Within 15 days, more than 1,000 participants around the UK had joined the trial; five weeks later, that number had risen to 10,000. In the first 100 days alone, the trial produced three groundbreaking results that would completely reshape COVID care.
15th Jun 2022 - The Conversation

Europe's medicines watchdog publishes new report identifying COVID-19 lessons learned

In 2021, the European Commission, Parliament and Council gave the EMA greater tools enabling it to both support innovation and respond to emergencies, in an acknowledgement of the agency’s vital role in tackling the pandemic. The EMA approved five treatments and four new vaccines against COVID-19. It also passed regulation on medical devices—a year later than planned because of the pandemic—and took steps towards developing an information network designed to generate data about health patterns across the continent, called the Data Analysis and Real World Interrogation Network (DARWIN EU).
15th Jun 2022 - Healthcare IT News

Beijing Covid cluster bar loses licence as staff face criminal probe

The authorities in the Chinese capital say the Heaven Supermarket bar in the Sanlitun nightlife district did not enforce controls properly. The Covid cluster, which has been linked with 320 cases, is the latest outbreak linked to bars stretching from Hong Kong to Beijing.
15th Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post

2,153 new Covid cases, 17 more deaths

The country registered 17 more Covid-19 fatalities and 2,153 new cases during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry announced on Thursday morning. This compared with the 18 coronavirus-related fatalities and 2,263 new cases reported on Monday morning.
15th Jun 2022 - Bangkok Post

How months-long COVID infections could seed dangerous new variants

virologist Sissy Sonnleitner tracks nearly every COVID-19 case in Austria’s rugged eastern Tyrol region. So, when one woman there kept testing positive for months on end, Sonnleitner was determined to work out what was going on. Before becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 in late 2020, the woman, who was in her 60s, had been taking immune-suppressing drugs to treat a lymphoma relapse. The COVID-19 infection lingered for more than seven months, causing relatively mild symptoms, including fatigue and a cough. Sonnleitner, who is based at a microbiology facility in Außervillgraten, Austria, and her colleagues collected more than two dozen viral samples from the woman over time and found through genetic sequencing that it had picked up about 22 mutations (see ‘Tracking spike’s evolution’). Roughly half of them would be seen again in the heavily mutated Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-2 that surged around the globe months later1. “When Omicron was found, we had a great moment of surprise,” Sonnleitner says. “We already had those mutations in our variant.”
15th Jun 2022 - Nature

Long Covid Is Showing Up in the Employment Data

Given that you have to be unable to work for at least 12 months to qualify for Social Security disability and going on the program is a momentous step that effectively requires leaving the labor market, the still-new phenomenon that is Long Covid is probably not playing a big role (the Social Security Administration has said that only about 1% of recent claims mention Covid). Still, the turnaround in disability applications is at least not incompatible with a rise in long-term health problems related to the disease — and it turns out there are stronger signs of Long Covid in other employment-related data.
15th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 15th Jun 2022

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Beijing's Virus Cases Remain Elevated in Threat to Covid Zero

Beijing recorded more than 50 Covid cases for the fifth day in a row as authorities crack down on venues linked to the outbreak, including starting a criminal probe into management of a bar at the center of the latest flareup. The capital reported 63 infections for Tuesday, following 74 on Monday. Cases have spiked in recent days, having dropped to single-digits last week. The management of a bar that has been linked to at least 287 cases is under criminal investigation for potentially breaching Covid control and prevention protocols.
15th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

'Inspirational' teachers awarded in Perth for their efforts during Covid-19 pandemic

Teachers who were at the forefront of providing free virtual geography lessons for secondary school pupils stuck at home during the Covid-19 pandemic have been awarded medals by the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society. The Tivy Education Medal has been presented to a group of volunteers and inspirational teachers, for their collective work during the pandemic. When Covid-19 struck, there were very limited learning resources for students during lockdown. RSGS pulled together a small team of teachers and film makers to try and help. The team created 26 virtual Chalk Talks lessons covering the entire National 5 and Higher Geography curriculum, from glaciers to coasts, cities to deserts, and everything in between.
14th Jun 2022 - The Courier

South Africa Covid-19 Hospital Admissions Show Story of Inequality

The confluence between race and inequality in South Africa has been starkly illustrated through hospital admissions over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Black people living in the country were likely to be hospitalized at a younger age, less likely to have access to intensive care units and ventilators and had higher mortality from the disease than White residents, according to a study led by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Indian and mixed race South Africans, locally known as Colored, also fared worse. “Blacks, Indians and Coloreds were more likely to die,” Waasila Jassat, a researcher with the NICD and one of the authors of the study, said in an interview on Tuesday. The study shows “the interplay between race, age, sex and socio-economic status” and how different groups experienced Covid-19, she said.
14th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia ends COVID protective measures

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the lifting of measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state news agency (SPA) reported, citing an official in the interior ministry. The measures lifted include the requirement to wear face masks in closed places, with the exception of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Canada to end COVID vaccine mandate for domestic travel -CBC News

The Canadian government on Tuesday will announce an end to COVID-19 vaccine mandates for domestic travel on planes and trains and outgoing international travel, CBC News reported on Monday, citing unidentified sources familiar with the matter. The government, which has faced criticism over ongoing pandemic restrictions, may bring back the vaccine mandate if a new variant of the virus is discovered, the report added.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Disney Resort to reopen Disneytown, hotel on June 16

Shanghai Disney Resort said on Tuesday it will reopen Disneytown and Shanghai Disneyland hotel on June 16 but the main Disneyland park will remain closed until further notice. Toy Story Hotel, one of its two resort hotels will also remain closed, the resort operator said in a statement. The Shanghai Disney Resort reopened some retail and park areas last week.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer stops enrollment in Paxlovid trial in standard-risk population

Pfizer Inc said it would halt enrollment in a trial for its COVID-19 antiviral drug, Paxlovid, in standard-risk patients after a study revealed the treatment was not effective in reducing symptoms in that group. The drug has emergency use authorization for high-risk groups in which it has been effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths. The new data, however, showed a 51% relative risk reduction in standard-risk groups, which the company said was not statistically significant.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. FDA advisers back authorization of Moderna COVID vaccine for ages 6-17

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday recommended the authorization of Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine for children and teens aged 6 to 17 years of age.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 14th Jun 2022

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Bank of England to drop post-COVID capital buffer rule

The Bank of England said on Monday that it would remove a post-COVID capital buffer adjustment now that risks from the pandemic had subsided. "Removing a temporary capital adjustment that is no longer necessary aims to achieve simplicity and enhances proportionality, thereby facilitating effective competition," the BoE said in a statement. In July 2020, the BoE's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) announced the temporary increase of the buffer for all firms that received a Pillar 2A reduction under its PS15/20 policy to reconcile capital requirements and macroprudential buffers
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Thousands of Queenslanders in the dark over COVID-19 hotel quarantine fee waivers

As of this month, Queensland Health has issued 84,463 invoices for hotel quarantine. 21,401 people had applied for a quarantine fee waiver, and so far 4,639 have been approved in part or in full. The remaining 16,762 people are either still having their applications processed or considered — or they've been rejected
13th Jun 2022 - ABC News

Covid-19: Patients without respiratory symptoms no longer have to wear a face mask in GP surgeries

Patients who enter general practices in England no longer have to wear a face mask unless they have respiratory symptoms, NHS England and NHS Improvement says. But the updated guidance also underlines the importance of local risk assessments and says that increased measures can be used when deemed necessary. A letter sent to clinical commissioning groups and trusts set out the changes to infection prevention and control measures following updates from the UK Health Security Agency.1 It said that health and care staff should continue to wear face masks as part of personal protective equipment when working with patients with suspected or confirmed covid-19, including untriaged patients in primary care and emergency departments.
13th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Don’t be complacent, another Covid wave is coming. Here’s how we can manage it

As we move into summer, more than two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the words “new wave” are probably the last thing anyone wants to hear. Yet it is true that recent UK data (as well as data from Florida and other places) indicates that sublineages of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5, are kicking off a new wave of cases. With the pandemic no longer dominating the news in the way it once did, it’s worth taking stock of where we are and what needs to be done. After all, these variations on Omicron are not more severe, but they do have the capacity to reinfect people, even those who have had a previous version of Omicron. This is further evidence that reaching “herd immunity” (where enough people are vaccinated or infected to stop further circulation) against Covid-19 is probably impossible.
13th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: More than 100 TfL workers died from Covid-19

More than 100 Transport for London (TfL) workers are known to have died from Covid-19, new figures show. Of those who died from the virus, 75 worked on London buses, while 23 worked on the Tube network. The majority were people belonging to ethnic minorities and only five were women, TfL said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said TfL had "put in place a range of additional support for families and colleagues where there has been a bereavement". TfL said a permanent memorial would be completed later this year to "help pay tribute to the critical role transport workers played during the global pandemic".
13th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Saudi Arabia ends COVID-19 protective measures - state news agency

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday the lifting of measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the state news agency (SPA) reported, citing an official in the interior ministry. The measures lifted include the requirement to wear face masks in closed places, with the exception of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet's Mosque.
13th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Simmering disputes persist as Covid patent waiver talks come down to the wire

As of this month, Queensland Health has issued 84,463 invoices for hotel quarantine. 21,401 people had applied for a quarantine fee waiver, and so far 4,639 have been approved in part or in full. The remaining 16,762 people are either still having their applications processed or considered — or they've been rejected
13th Jun 2022 - STAT News


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th Jun 2022

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Waive Pharma's Vaccine Rights? What That Would Mean: QuickTake

The world’s top trade ministers will soon determine the fate of a World Trade Organization proposal to water down intellectual property protections for makers of Covid-19 vaccines. The accord as proposed is supported by the European Union, though its other original backers are not quite on board with it. It has also met fierce opposition from both public interest groups and the pharmaceutical industry who are urging nations to reject it.
12th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai kicks off new round of mass COVID testing, Beijing cases jump

China's capital Beijing is experiencing an "explosive" COVID-19 outbreak connected to a bar, a government spokesman said on Saturday, as the commercial hub, Shanghai,conducted mass testing to contain a jump in cases tied to a hair salon. The warning followed a new tightening of COVID curbs in Beijing since Thursday, with at least two districts closing some entertainment venues after a flare-up in a neighbourhood full of nightlife, shopping and embassies.
12th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Beijing warns of 'explosive' COVID outbreak, Shanghai conducts mass testing

China's capital Beijing is experiencing an "explosive" COVID-19 outbreak connected to a bar, a government spokesman said on Saturday, as the commercial hub, Shanghai,conducted mass testing to contain a jump in cases tied to a hair salon. The warning followed a new tightening of COVID curbs in Beijing since Thursday, with at least two districts closing some entertainment venues after a flare-up in a neighbourhood full of nightlife, shopping and embassies.
11th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Valneva working on remediation plan for COVID-19 vaccine candidate

French drugmaker Valneva said on Friday it had proposed a remediation plan after receiving the European Commission's notice of intent to terminate the advance purchase agreement for its inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate. "Some member states have confirmed their interest in having an inactivated, adjuvanted whole-virus vaccine solution in their portfolio," the company said in a statement. "However, the preliminary, unofficial volume indications received from the EC (European Commission) would not be sufficient to ensure the sustainability of Valneva's COVID-19 vaccine programme." Valneva had warned on May 16 that its COVID-19 vaccine agreement with the European Commission was likely to be scrapped as Brussels had informed the company of its intent to terminate the advance purchase agreement.
10th Jun 2022 - YAHOO!News

US lifts COVID-19 test requirement for international travel

The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights, easing one of the last remaining government mandates meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus .
10th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Covid-19 infections in UK show early signs of rise

Covid-19 infections in the UK are no longer falling, with some parts of the country showing early signs of a possible increase, figures show. The rise is likely to have been caused by a jump in infections compatible with the original Omicron variant BA.1, along with the newer variants BA.4 and BA.5. It comes as separate figures suggest the recent drop in the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 may also have come to a halt. A total of 989,800 people in private households in the UK are estimated to have had the virus in the week ending June 2, up from 953,900 the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
10th Jun 2022 - The Independent on MSN.com

Shanghai to lock down millions, again, for mass COVID-19 testing

Over the weekend, residents in 14 of Shanghai's 16 districts will be locked down and tested for COVID-19. Supermarkets are already overwhelmed with panic-buyers. Shanghai's existing rules mean residents must test for entry to public transport, offices and shopping centres.
10th Jun 2022 - ABC News

COVID-19 vaccine uptake in children stalls as less than 10% of 5-11s jabbed

Less than one in 10 children aged 5-11 have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, more than two months after NHS England began rolling out jabs for this age group, official data shows.
10th Jun 2022 - GP Online

COVID-19: Infections increase in UK for the first time in two months

Almost 990,000 people have tested positive for the virus in the past week - up from around 954,000 last week, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
10th Jun 2022 - Sky News

Shanghai to lock down millions again for mass COVID testing

China's commercial hub of Shanghai will lock down millions of people for mass COVID-19 testing this weekend - just 10 days after lifting its gruelling two-month lockdown - unsettling residents and raising concerns about the business impact. Racing to stop a wider outbreak after discovering a handful of community cases, including a cluster traced to a popular beauty salon, authorities have ordered PCR testing for all residents in 14 of Shanghai's 16 districts over the weekend.
10th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Covid infections on the rise in England and Northern Ireland

The UK may be entering its third wave of coronavirus this year, researchers warn, as official figures show infections are on the rise again in England and Northern Ireland. The Office for National Statistics said its latest analysis of swabs from households across Britain revealed a mixed picture with a “small increase” in positive tests in England and Northern Ireland, while the trend in Wales and Scotland remained unclear. The ONS data, which give the most reliable picture of the state of the UK outbreak, suggest that the steady fall in infections over recent months may have gone into reverse as cases are driven up by the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants.
10th Jun 2022 - The Guardian


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th Jun 2022

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China Markets Spring Back Into Action as Covid Lockdowns Ease

Financial markets across China are buzzing with activity as easing Covid lockdowns boost trading. Yuan-trading volumes in the onshore market bounced off two-year lows while stock turnover topped the key 1 trillion yuan ($149 billion) mark for two straight sessions this week. That’s after Shanghai officially reopened following a two-month lockdown and Beijing further loosened Covid curbs, spurring bets of an economic rebound and a return of foreign inflows into the country. “It appears that the re-pricing of China macro growth risk due to the lockdowns has run its course,” Ken Cheung, strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. said. A slew of pro-growth measures and the reopening in Shanghai and Beijing have helped stabilize expectations for China’s economy, he said.
10th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

Parts of Shanghai impose new COVID lockdown measures

Shanghai and Beijing went back on fresh COVID-19 alert on Thursday after parts of China's largest economic hub imposed new lockdown restriction and the city announced a round of mass testing for millions of residents. The most populous district in the Chinese capital, meanwhile, announced the shutdown of entertainment venues, while news of the lockdown of Shanghai's Minhang district, home to more than 2 million people, pulled down Chinese stocks.
10th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai faces unexpected round of COVID testing for most residents

A round of mass COVID-19 testing for most residents this weekend - just 10 days after a city-wide lockdown was lifted - unsettling residents and raising concerns about the impact on business. Shanghai officials on Thursday said seven of the city's 16 districts would carry out PCR testing for all residents over the weekend due to the discovery of a few cases in the community, saying they wanted to prevent a renewed outbreak
10th Jun 2022 - Reuters

White House shifts $10 billion in coronavirus aid to buy vaccines and treatments

The Biden administration is shifting dwindling federal coronavirus funds toward securing another round of vaccines and treatments — rationing money and cutting back on other critical public health programs as Congress remains at odds over whether to spend more to battle the pandemic. The U.S. government plans to redirect about $5 billion in existing funds so it can purchase any new, updated versions of the vaccines if they become available, according to an administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the deliberations. The government also intends to repurpose another $5 billion in previously authorized aid so it can secure access to therapeutics, including the pill Paxlovid, the aide said. Without the change in approach, White House officials fear that the United States would not be able to source new vaccines or other treatments, particularly in the face of any potential fall or winter surge, given high global demand. Even so, the Biden administration’s emergency measures may not be enough to secure vaccines for every American should a new, next-generation version reach the market, according to a second White House aide.
9th Jun 2022 - The Washington Post

Officials: Millions of COVID-19 shots ordered for youngest

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been ordered for small children in anticipation of possible federal authorization next week, White House officials say. The government allowed pharmacies and states to start placing orders last week, with 5 million doses initially available — half of them shots made by Pfizer and the other half the vaccine produced by Moderna, senior administration officials said. As of this week, about 1.45 million of the 2.5 million available doses of Pfizer have been ordered, and about 850,000 of available Moderna shots have been ordered, officials said. More orders are expected in the coming days.
9th Jun 2022 - The Independent

Explainer: Can we still avoid Covid-19 and is there any point trying?

With new Covid-19 case numbers down, many may be asking if there's any point keeping up precautions to avoid the virus, particularly those who haven't caught it yet. Is it still possible to protect ourselves from the illness? Surely we're all going to get it at some stage, and the 'milder' Omicron variants make it less of a threat to our health, so what's the big deal? Here's what you need to know. We are now more than two years into a pandemic that turned many people's lives upside-down.
9th Jun 2022 - RNZ

PM Johnson says UK out of sync with OECD due to earlier COVID reopening

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that Britain was out of sync with the other OECD countries' growth cycles because the country emerged out of the pandemic first and had a faster recovery. Asked why the OECD on Wednesday predicted Britain would have the lowest 2023 growth in the G20 apart from Russia, Johnson said: "Because we came out first, because of the steps that we took, we were slightly out of sync with much of the rest of the OECD."
9th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Biden administration 'not too worried' about slow pace of pre-orders of child COVID vaccine

Pre-orders of vaccines for children under age five have been slow, but Biden administration senior officials say they are not alarmed and expect the pace to pick up after federal approvals later this month. The administration expects vaccinations of young children to start as early as June 21 if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approve the vaccines next week, White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said on Thursday.
9th Jun 2022 - Reuters

COVID vaccine rights waiver within reach, WTO chief says ahead of meeting

Ministers from across the globe are convening for a conference at the World Trade Organization in Geneva for the first time in more than four years from June 12-15. It comes at a critical juncture for the body and for global trade. The meeting, delayed twice by COVID-19, is a chance for the 27-year-old body to prove it can respond to what Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has described as a "polycrisis" of economic, health, environmental and security challenges.
9th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Disney Resort to reopen some areas, main park and hotels remain closed

Shanghai Disney Resort said it will reopen some retail and park areas from Friday but the main Disneyland park, Disneytown and its two resort hotels will remain closed until further notice. "Wishing Star Park, the World of Disney Store and Blue Sky Boulevard will resume operations on June 10, 2022," it said in a statement on Thursday. "Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown and the two resort hotels remain closed until further notice as the resort team continues to prepare for the reopening of the entire resort."
9th Jun 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Jun 2022

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Over the top? Denmark to secure 22 million COVID-19 vaccines in 2022

Last year, Denmark spent around 2.4 billion kroner on coronavirus vaccines – a figure that looks set to be surpassed in 2022. The State Serum Institute (SSI) has revealed that it has agreements in place for this year involving 22 million vaccine doses worth some 2.8 billion kroner. And as the Corona Crisis continues to wane in Denmark, some experts question whether so many doses are needed.
8th Jun 2022 - Copenhagen Post

US has a "very serious" problem with Covid-19 vaccine uptake

The United States has a "very serious" problem with Covid-19 vaccination uptake, a top health official has warned. Vaccines are by far the most powerful tool available against the coronavirus, protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying from the virus. Unlike many less developed countries, the US has enough doses to vaccinate everyone as well as the necessary infrastructure to support the rollout. The problem: not everyone wants the shot. "We do have a problem with vaccine uptake that is very serious in the United States and anything we can do to get people more comfortable to be able to accept these potentially life-saving medical products is something that we feel we are compelled to do," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
8th Jun 2022 - CNN

COVID vaccine rights waiver within reach, WTO chief says ahead of meeting

Director-General Ngosi Okonjo-Iweala has called COVID-19 vaccine inequity "unconscionable" and given top priority to a deal to facilitate the flow of vaccines more widely. Even though demand for COVID-19 shots has tapered off, India, South Africa and some 100 other backers are seeking a potential waiver of intellectual property rights for vaccines and treatments. However, WTO members remain divided over a draft deal for vaccines negotiated between the four main parties (India, South Africa, the European Union and the United States) that was forged to break an 18-month deadlock. Protest groups are urging members to reject it and China has lodged an objection.
8th Jun 2022 - Reuters

After lockdown, Shanghai tries to mend fences with foreign firms

Shanghai officials are seeking to revive confidence among multinational companies bruised and frustrated by the city's COVID-19 lockdown by holding multiple meetings with foreign firms and easing a key border requirement for overseas workers. The image of China's most cosmopolitan city and its biggest business hub was badly damaged by the two-month lockdown, with countless expatriates relocating and foreign businesses warning that they are reconsidering investment plans.
8th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Novavax's New Covid-19 Vaccine Might Be Late to the Party

Novavax shares jumped 5.4% Wednesday after the agency’s vaccine expert panel voted to recommend its two-dose vaccine. It is quite the victory for the 35-year-old Maryland biotech, which was running out of cash in late 2019 before the pandemic came to its rescue. But the nod from the expert group comes as the pool of Americans seeking a booster shot continues to nosedive. The seven-day average for booster shots administered daily was about 55,600 this week, down from over a million in early December, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency says only about half of booster-eligible people have gotten one so far—a clear sign of vaccine fatigue.
8th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

The kids who have never known life without Covid-19

At this point, two and a half years into the pandemic, many kids have begun to catch up on experiences they missed. Children under 5, however, still aren’t able to be vaccinated, leaving some families unsure how much return to normalcy is really safe — or possible. At the same time, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers have gone through crucial years of early social and emotional development at a time of trauma and isolation for many Americans.
8th Jun 2022 - Vox on MSN.com

Official warns of COVID wave; PM, health minister hold off new restrictions for now

As cases rise, indoor masking recommended for the public; virus czar says 5th vaccine dose may be needed; transmission rate continues to rise, positive test rate over 20%
8th Jun 2022 - The Times of Israel


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 8th Jun 2022

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BA.4, BA.5 Variants Rise Among U.S. Covid-19 Cases

Omicron Covid-19 variants BA.4 and BA.5 are on the rise in the U.S., adding two more highly contagious versions of the virus to the mix that has fueled a springtime surge in cases. The closely related subvariants represented a combined 13% of U.S. cases for the week ended June 4, according to estimates the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Tuesday. Evidence suggests the variants are yet-more contagious versions of Omicron, public-health experts said, that may be able to evade some of the immune protections people built up from infections triggered by another version of Omicron during the winter. The spread of the subvariants could at least prolong the time it takes to emerge from the current wave fueled by other versions of Omicron, some health experts said. “BA.4 and 5 may end up becoming the dominant Omicron lineages in the coming weeks or months,” said Nathan Grubaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University’s School of Public Health.
8th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

US has thrown out more than 82m Covid vaccine doses

The United States has thrown out 82.1m Covid vaccine doses from December 2020 to the middle of last month, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. That number of wasted vaccines accounts for more than 11 per cent of the doses distributed by the federal government during the pandemic, reports NBC News. Retail pharmacy chains CVS and Walmart were responsible for more than a quarter of the discarded doses in the US during the time period. This is a reflection of the volume of doses each company handled, said the report. The wasted vaccines were caused by a variety of factors, including doses that expired at pharmacies before they could be used, power cuts, broken freezer storage and open vials being thrown out at the end of business days unused. CVS wasted nearly 11.8m doses, or about 13 per cent of the 89.9m it received.
7th Jun 2022 - The Independent

Flu cases rise in Canada amid eased COVID-19 restrictions

The easing of public health restrictions that were aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 has lead to a surge in cases of another virus, experts say. Since the start of April, Canada has seen a sharp increase in cases of influenza, something not typically seen in the spring. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) most recent FluWatch report, there were 1,580 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu between May 22 and May 28. This is down from the peak of 2,121 flu cases seen during the week of May 8 to 14, but PHAC warns that the number of flu cases "remains above the epidemic threshold." Last year, the period between May 23 and June 19 saw just one laboratory-confirmed flu case. Prior to the pandemic, a five-week period in May and June 2019 saw 864 laboratory-confirmed cases, an average of 172.8 cases per week.
7th Jun 2022 - CTV News

Universal Beijing Resort to reopen on June 15 as COVID curbs ease

The Universal Beijing Resort said on Tuesday it will reopen on June 15 after being closed more than a month to comply with China's COVID-19 prevention measures, but it will cap the number of visitors at no more than 75% of capacity. The resort, which includes a retail district, two hotels and the Universal Studios theme park, was shut on May 1. After it reopens, all visitors must show a negative PCR test taken within the past 72 hours and wear masks at all times, in line with city-wide measures. The resort will also test its employees daily and carry out regular disinfection, it added.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Japan to open to tourists after COVID, with masks, insurance and chaperones required

Foreign tourists visiting Japan will be required to wear masks, take out private medical insurance and be chaperoned throughout their stay, the government said on Tuesday, as it plans a gradual opening from two years of COVID-19 restrictions. Only visitors on package tours will be allowed in during the first phase of reopening, from June 10, the Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) said, adding that travel agency guides accompanying visitors will have to ensure they wear their masks. "Tour guides should frequently remind tour participants of necessary infection prevention measures, including wearing and removing masks, at each stage of the tour," the JTA said in its guidelines.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Open called off due to COVID-related organisational complications

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Tuesday this year's U.S. Open has been cancelled due to organisational complications caused by COVID-19. The U.S. Open, a Super 300 tournament on the BWF World Tour, was due to take place from Oct. 4-9. "USA Badminton concluded that it was no longer feasible for them to host their tournament this year due to organisational complications coming out of COVID-19," badminton's governing body said in a statement. This is the third straight edition of the tournament to have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Long Covid patients face lottery over treatment

Patients with long Covid are facing a postcode lottery across the UK when it comes to getting care, nurses say. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said treatment varied hugely with some services treating it as a physical condition, but others as psychological. The union also highlighted long waits in parts of England, which has a network of specialist clinics. It warned that patients in Scotland and Wales may be missing out because of a lack of dedicated clinics. But officials there say patients are getting support via core NHS services.
7th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Care for 2m Britons with long Covid ‘woefully inadequate’, say top nurses

NHS services for the 2 million Britons struggling with long Covid are “woefully inadequate” given how many people are being diagnosed with the condition, nurses’ leaders have warned. There are too few specialist clinics to handle the soaring demand for treatment, with only a tiny number of sufferers receiving any help, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said. The Office for National Statistics estimated last week that the number of people in the UK suffering with continuing symptoms of Covid such as fatigue, muscle pain and breathing problems has doubled in a year from 1 million in May 2021 to 2 million last month.
7th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

Washington hospitals again strained by COVID-19 spread

Hospital officials in Washington are warning that facilities are heading toward another COVID-19 case peak amid high spread in the community. Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer on Monday said at the end of last week, almost 600 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals across the state with about 20-25 patients a day on ventilators, The News Tribune reported. That compares with an average of around 230 hospitalized cases in the daily census in April and 1,700 in February during the Omicron wave. In response to the rising hospitalizations, officials on a media briefing call Monday implored people to wear high-quality masks indoors in crowded, public spaces, and to get COVID-19 booster shots on top of vaccinations.
7th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

COVID amid food insecurity: A perfect storm is brewing in N Korea

On May 12, North Korea reported the country’s first COVID outbreak, a significant public admission after two and a half years of stringent lockdowns and border closures. Since then, the country has seen its infection rates soar with over two million cases of “fever” recorded. North Korea has remained unyielding in its stance towards foreign aid, declining COVAX (the global vaccine sharing scheme) and providing no response to the offer of medicines and vaccines from South Korea. While its leader, Kim Jong Un, has declared that the virus is under control, the true scale of North Korea’s cases remains unclear.
6th Jun 2022 - Al Jazeera English


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Covid-19: Hong Kong steps up checks on bars and restaurants as cases linked to nightlife area rise

Hong Kong has seen an uptick in Covid-19 infections amid the recent easing of social distancing rules, with clusters linked to a number of bars in Central. In the seven-day period from last Monday to Sunday, authorities confirmed an average of 153 positive nucleic acid tests per day, up from 103.9 the week before.
6th Jun 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press

Beijing Cautiously Reopens After Covid-19 Wave

China’s capital took tentative steps toward reopening on Monday as much of Beijing lifted restrictions on dining in restaurants and many workers returned to their offices. But new flare-ups of Covid-19 clusters around the country and fresh lockdowns in parts of Shanghai continued to pose major risks for China’s economy. For more than a month, Beijing health authorities imposed increasingly stringent measures on the city’s businesses and residents’ personal movements in a bid to stamp out the Chinese capital’s worst Covid-19 outbreak since the early days of the pandemic. City officials say those efforts are working as new daily infections have dipped to around a dozen cases or fewer in recent days, following weeks of mass testing of much of the city’s more than 20 million residents. By allowing restaurants, gyms and other businesses to reopen, Beijing authorities are signaling that they believe they have managed to control the latest outbreak without having to resort to the sorts of harsh lockdown measures experienced recently in Shanghai and elsewhere.
6th Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Beijing reopens restaurants as new COVID-19 cases drop

Diners returned to restaurants in most of Beijing for the first time in more than a month Monday as authorities further eased pandemic-related restrictions after largely eradicating a small COVID-19 outbreak in the capital under China's strict “zero-COVID” approach. Museums, cinemas and gyms were allowed to operate at up to 75% of capacity and delivery drivers could once again bring packages to a customer's door, rather than leave them to be picked up at the entrances to apartment compounds. The return to near-normal applied everywhere in Beijing except for one district and part of another, where the outbreak lingered. Schools, which partially reopened earlier, will fully do so on June 13, followed by kindergartens on June 20. Authorities conducted multiple rounds of mass testing and locked down buildings and complexes when infections were discovered to stamp out an outbreak that infected about 1,800 people over six weeks in a city of 22 million. The number of new cases dropped to six on Sunday. The ruling Communist Party remains wedded to a “zero-COVID” strategy that exacts an economic cost and inconveniences millions of people, even as many other countries adopt a more relaxed approach as vaccination rates rise and treatments become more widely available.
6th Jun 2022 - The Independent

Beijing to allow indoor dining, further easing COVID curbs

Beijing will further relax COVID-19 curbs by allowing indoor dining, as China's capital steadily returns to normal with inflections falling, state media said on Sunday. Beijing and the commercial hub Shanghai have been returning to normal in recent days after two months of painful lockdowns to crush outbreaks of the Omicron variant. Dine-in service in Beijing will resume on Monday, except for the Fengtai district and some parts of the Changping district, the Beijing Daily said. Restaurants and bars have been restricted to takeaway since early May. Normal work will resume and traffic bans will be lifted on Monday in most areas of Beijing, the newspaper reported. Employees in some areas have been required to work from home.
6th Jun 2022 - Investing.com

Turkey removes all Covid-related restrictions for Indian travellers

Turkey has relaxed all the conditions for travellers entering the country and is expecting to welcome the highest-ever number of Indian tourists this year, Turkiye Tourism Board said on Monday. Earlier, Indian travellers were required to submit either a vaccination certificate or an RT-PCR test report to visit Turkey, according to a statement. Now, Indian travellers no longer have to show proof of vaccination against coronavirus or proof of recovery from the disease or a negative RT-PCR test result, it added. With both Indigo and Turkish Airlines resuming direct international flights to Turkiye, the country is expecting to welcome the highest-ever number of Indian tourists this year, it said.
6th Jun 2022 - The Financial Express on MSN.com

U.S. aims to ramp up international tourism hit hard by COVID

The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday will unveil a new strategy aimed at boosting international tourism hit hard by COVID-19 and government travel restrictions by streamlining the entry process and promoting more diverse destinations. The "National Travel and Tourism Strategy" sets a goal of 90 million international visitors by 2027 who will spend an estimated $279 billion annually, topping pre-pandemic levels, the department told Reuters.
6th Jun 2022 - Reuters

XpresSpa and Ginkgo Bioworks Are Hunting For New Covid Variants at Airports

As the pandemic engulfed the world in March 2020, no one was thinking much about getting a manicure. So XpresSpa Group Inc., an airport chain that offers mani-pedis and massages to travelers, closed all 50 of its locations. To survive the next two years, it would have to pivot. It turned to the most obvious next market: Covid testing. Through a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and synthetic biology firm Ginkgo Bioworks Inc., XpresSpa launched a surveillance operation to hunt for new and emerging Covid variants among international travelers. Over the last eight months, the trio has tested tens of thousands of passengers arriving from more than 15 countries around the globe
6th Jun 2022 - Bloomberg


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Beijing to allow indoor dining, further easing COVID curbs

Beijing will further relax COVID-19 curbs by allowing indoor dining, as China's capital steadily returns to normal with inflections falling, state media said on Sunday. Beijing and the commercial hub Shanghai have been returning to normal in recent days after two months of painful lockdowns to crush outbreaks of the Omicron variant. Dine-in service in Beijing will resume on Monday, except for the Fengtai district and some parts of the Changping district, the Beijing Daily said. Restaurants and bars have been restricted to takeaway since early May.
5th Jun 2022 - Reuters

After Shanghai lockdown, many struggle to pick up the pieces

As many Shanghai residents rushed onto the streets this week to reunite with friends and pop champagne to celebrate the end of a two month-long lockdown, Li Menghua was busy packing up his hair salon, a casualty of the draconian quest to stamp out COVID-19. Li, 24, set up his salon three years ago after leaving home in Henan province to seek his fortune in China's largest and most prosperous city. "Our business was really good, always busy with customers. But because of the pandemic, a lot of shopfronts have to close," he said.
5th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Moderna delays COVID vaccine deliveries to EU by several months

Moderna Inc said on Thursday it has agreed to push back some COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the European Union by several months to later in 2022 or early next year. Shares of Moderna fell nearly 2% before the bell over the delay, even though the company stuck to its vaccine sales forecast of $21 billion for 2022. Delivery of the doses were originally planned in the second quarter, the European Commission said in a statement.
3rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

S.Korea to lift quarantine requirement for non-vaccinated foreign arrivals

South Korea's prime minister on Friday said the country will lift its quarantine requirement for foreign arrivals without vaccination from June 8 and also start lifting aviation regulations imposed for international flights. However, the government will maintain the requirement of a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result prior to entry and a PCR test within 72 hours after arrival.
3rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

UAE achieves 100% COVID vaccination target -state news agency

The United Arab Emirates has vaccinated all those who must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the oil-rich Gulf Arab state, state news agency WAM reported on Thursday. The UAE "announces that 100% of the targeted categories have been vaccinated," it said.
3rd Jun 2022 - Reuters

When Will This COVID Wave End?

In mid-March, I began to notice a theme within my social circle in New York, where I live: COVID—it finally got me! At that point, I didn’t think much of it. Only a few of my friends seemed to be affected, and case counts were still pretty low, all things considered. By April, images of rapid tests bearing the dreaded double bars were popping up all over my Instagram feed. Because cases had been rising slowly but steadily, I dismissed the trend to the back of my mind. Its presence nagged quietly throughout May, when I attended a party at a crowded hotel and hurled myself into a raging mosh pit. As I emerged, sweating, cases were still creeping upward. Only last week, more than two months later, did cases finally stop rising in New York—but they’ve plateaued more than they’ve fallen back to Earth. If you simply look at the case counts, this surge is not even in the same stratosphere as the peak of Omicron during the winter, but our current numbers are certainly a massive undercount now that rapid tests are everywhere. The same sort of drawn-out wave has unfolded across the Northeast in recent months, and frankly, it’s a little weird: The biggest waves that have struck the region have been tsunamis of infections that come and go, as opposed to the rising tide we’re seeing now. Other parts of the country currently seem poised to follow the Northeast. In the past two weeks, cases have noticeably increased in states such as Arizona, South Carolina, and West Virginia; California’s daily average case count has risen 36 percent. In April, I called the coronavirus’s latest turn an “invisible wave.” Now I’m starting to think of it as the “When will it end?” wave.
3rd Jun 2022 - The Atlantic

WHO says COVID in N.Korea likely 'getting worse, not better'

The World Health Organization has cast doubts on North Korea's claims of progress in the fight against a COVID-19 outbreak, saying it believes the situation is getting worse, not better, amid an absence of independent data. North Korean state media has said the COVID wave has abated, after daily numbers of people with fever topped 390,000 about two weeks ago. Pyongyang has never directly confirmed how many people have tested positive for the virus but experts suspect underreporting in the figures released through government-controlled media, making it difficult to assess the scale of the situation.
2nd Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Celebrates Reopening as Beijing's Zero-Covid Plan Stays in Place

Shanghai residents took selfies outside and toasted with champagne as the city emerged from a Covid-19 lockdown that lasted more than two months. But there are economic challenges ahead as China shows no signs of easing its zero-covid strategy.
1st Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China Plans for Years of Covid Zero Strategy With Tests on Every Corner

After a bruising lockdown in Shanghai and severe curbs in Beijing were needed to halt the spread of Covid-19, China is doubling down on mass-testing in a move that’s dashing hopes for a shift away from its costly Covid Zero strategy. A network of tens of thousands of lab testing booths are being set up across the country’s largest and most economically vital cities, with the goal of having residents always just a 15 minute walk away from a swabbing point. The infrastructure will allow cities like Beijing, Shanghai, tech hub Shenzhen and e-commerce heartland Hangzhou to require tests as often as every 48 hours, with negative results needed to get on the subway or even enter a store.
31st May 2022 - Bloomberg

Japan to resume tourism in June; only packaged tour for now

Japan will open its borders to foreign tourists in June for the first time since imposing tight pandemic travel restrictions about two years ago, but only for package tours for now
26th May 2022 - The Independent


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Cuba lifts mask mandate as vaccination rate soars and deaths plummet

Cuba on Tuesday lifted a mask mandate in place for two years following a successful vaccination drive that health officials say has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and nearly three weeks without a single death from COVID-19. The island, whose communist government has long sought to stand out by providing a free healthcare system that focuses on preventative treatment such as vaccinations, developed its own COVID vaccines and became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2. rge Luis Banos/Pool via REUTERS HAVANA, May 31 (Reuters) - Cuba on Tuesday lifted a mask mandate in place for two years following a successful vaccination drive that health officials say has contributed to a sharp drop in cases and nearly three weeks without a single death from COVID-19. The island, whose communist government has long sought to stand out by providing a free healthcare system that focuses on preventative treatment such as vaccinations, developed its own COVID vaccines and became the first country in the world to begin the mass vaccination of kids as young as age 2. Cuba has since vaccinated 94% of its population with at least one dose of its home-grown vaccines, according to a Reuters tally. Health minister José Ángel Portal said the wide-ranging vaccination program had led to a "radical change" in contagion and health risks and prompted the decision to do away with masks in most scenarios.
1st Jun 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Unveils 50-Point Plan to Return to Normalcy

Banks will be asked to renew SME loans; asset managers are asked to set up global or regional investment management centres in Shanghai. Shanghai has unveiled a comprehensive 50-point plan to reopen the city and its economy in stages, with the goal of restoring normalcy to business and daily life following the two-month-long lockdown. Last week, Premier Li Keqiang called for efforts to be made to stabilise the economy and restore investor confidence. New Covid-19 cases in Shanghai have also fallen fell to their lowest levels since mid-March. The 50-point plan to reopen the city covers measures to help enterprises reduce their operating costs, incentives to prevent job losses, and broader reopening measures. Companies will no longer need to be on a “whitelist” to resume production starting from 1 June. Under the existing whitelist system, about 6,000 companies are allowed to resume production provided they adhere to certain pandemic prevention guidelines.
31st May 2022 - Regulation Asia

After Ontario's COVID-19 school closures, a responsive recovery plan is critical

Three years into the pandemic, it’s clear that Canada’s provinces have been hampered by a lack of a comparative cross-Canada analysis of school closures and the effects on students. What we do know about the disruptive impact of school closures on Ontario and other provinces comes largely from a June 2021 Ontario Science Table study documenting the extent of school closures from province-to-province.
31st May 2022 - The Conversation

As UK Covid cases fall to lowest level for a year, what could the future look like?

After enduring record-breaking levels of Covid in the past six months, Britain has seen cases fall to their lowest for a year. But as the country eases back into a life more normal, will the disease remain in the background – or is another resurgence on its way? Science editor Ian Sample explains how the virus is changing – and why one expert thinks infection rates “are not going to get down to very low numbers again in our lifetimes”.
31st May 2022 - The Guardian

Israel to cancel quarantine for coronavirus patients?

Professor Salman Zarka, Israel's coronavirus czar, estimates that quarantine for coronavirus-positive individuals will be canceled. Speaking to reporters, Prof. Zarka estimated that in the middle of June, those testing positive for COVID-19 will no longer need to quarantine. Though both the infection coefficient and the percent positive have held relatively steady since mid-April, Prof. Zarka also claimed that the fifth wave of the virus is continuing to slow down
31st May 2022 - Arutz Sheva

Italy Scraps COVID-19 Entry Rules For Travellers As Cases Drop

Italy said it was dropping the requirement to show proof of coronavirus vaccination, recent recovery or a negative test before entering the country. The health ministry announced that the requirement to show a so-called "Green Pass" to enter Italy "will not be extended" when it expires on May 31. Italy was the first European country hit by coronavirus in early 2020 and has had some of the toughest restrictions, including requiring all workers to show a Green Pass.
31st May 2022 - NDTV

Shanghai starts to dismantle fences as Covid lockdown due to end

Shanghai authorities have begun dismantling fences around housing compounds and ripping police tape off public squares and buildings, to the relief of the city’s 25 million residents, before a painful two-month lockdown is lifted at midnight. On Monday evening, some of the people allowed out of their compounds for brief walks took advantage of suspended traffic to congregate for a beer and ice cream on deserted streets, but there was a sense of wariness and anxiety among residents.
31st May 2022 - The Guardian

South Africa Had Fifth Covid Wave Despite 97% Antibody Protection

South Africa experienced a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections despite 97% of the population having antibodies due to previous infections or vaccination, the results of a blood survey show. Examination of 3,395 samples from blood donors earlier this year, at the tail end of the fourth wave of infections, showed that 87% of South Africans had previously been infected with the virus, while just over 97% had either had a previous infection or a vaccination or both. The study was lead by Stellenbosch University’s DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis and the South African National Blood Service.
30th May 2022 - Bloomberg

China's Covid Outbreak Wanes as Curbs Eased to Boost Economy

China reported the fewest new Covid-19 cases in almost three months, with the easing of outbreaks in Beijing and Shanghai emboldening authorities to relax some of the strictest virus controls of the pandemic and move to stimulate the country’s faltering economy. Shanghai will lift lockdown measures for residents in low-risk areas, allowing them to leave and enter their compounds freely starting from Wednesday, according to a statement from the municipal government on Monday. The city will resume taxi and ride hailing services while allowing cars on the road in low-risk areas. Cases in the financial hub fell to 67 for Sunday from 122 on Saturday with bus and subway services to reopen in an orderly manner from June 1.
29th May 2022 - Bloomberg


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Wary of foreign 'bad manners', Japan cautiously eases borders to aid tourism

Japan's easing of a two-year ban on foreign tourists seeks to balance the enormous economic importance of tourism with concerns that travellers would trigger a COVID outbreak, insiders say. Under the decision, Japan will allow in a limited number of foreign tourists on package tours starting June 10. Last week a few "test tours", mainly of overseas travel agents, started to arrive. Relaxing some of the world's strictest pandemic border measures required months of pressure from travel and tourism executives, three insiders told Reuters, describing both the government's fears of public backlash if infections spiked and the industry's concerns of an economic wipeout.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

India to provide scholarships, counselling to those orphaned by COVID-19

India's federal government will provide educational scholarships, mental health counselling and health insurance to children who have been orphaned by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. "For those who have lost a loved one to coronavirus, the change it has brought to their lives is so difficult," Modi said during an online event as he announced government benefits for minor children who have lost both parents to COVID-19.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

N.Korea lifts COVID lockdown amid 'stable' virus situation -media

North Korea has lifted movement restrictions imposed in the capital Pyongyang after its first admission of COVID-19 outbreak weeks ago, media reported, as the isolated country says the virus situation is now under control. The North has been in a heated battle against an unprecedented COVID wave since declaring a state of emergency and imposing a nationwide lockdown this month, fuelling concerns about a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and food shortages.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai declares lockdown end from June 1 after two months

Shanghai on Monday announced an end to its two-month long COVID-19 lockdown, allowing the vast majority of people in China's largest city to leave their homes and drive their cars from Wednesday. The news brought an outpouring of relief, joy and some wariness from exhausted residents. "I'm so emotional that I'm going to cry," said one Weibo user. Most of the city's 25 million residents have been confined to their homes for almost all of the lockdown which began on April 1, with curbs only slightly relaxing in recent weeks to allow some to go out for short periods of time.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

Beijing reports 16 new symptomatic COVID cases for May 30, 2 asymptomatic cases

Article reports that China's capital Beijing reported 16 new domestically transmitted symptomatic coronavirus cases for May 30, up from eight a day earlier, the city government said on Tuesday. Local asymptomatic cases fell to two from four from the previous day, it said.
30th May 2022 - Reuters

CDC Plans to Stop Reporting Suspected Covid Cases to Ease Burden

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to simplify the Covid-19 hospital data it collects as the demands of the pandemic evolve and some assembled information has become outdated or redundant. The agency is likely to stop collecting data from hospitals on suspected Covid cases that haven’t been confirmed by tests, for example, and may also wind down federal reporting from rehabilitation and mental health facilities that aren’t major intake points for virus cases, according to a draft of the plan that was viewed by Bloomberg News.
30th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Paxlovid Becomes Household Name for Covid-19 Patients

Pfizer’s antiviral drug, called Paxlovid, totaled more than 412,000 prescriptions through May 6, compared with about 110,000 prescriptions of molnupiravir, an antiviral from Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, according to drug-data firm Iqvia Holdings Inc. Both pills were cleared for use in high-risk individuals early in the course of their disease in December by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to keep people from becoming hospitalized.
30th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Archbishop of Canterbury tests positive for Covid and will miss jubilee service

The archbishop of Canterbury will miss the service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s reign this week after being diagnosed with pneumonia and testing positive for Covid. Justin Welby had been due to preach at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday. Stephen Cottrell, the archbishop of York, will take his place. Welby, 66, was diagnosed with mild pneumonia last Thursday. On medical advice, he reduced his work schedule to allow for rest and recovery. After developing symptoms over the weekend, he tested positive for Covid on Monday.
30th May 2022 - The Guardian

Launch of Scenario Hub projecting future COVID-19 health impact

A new online modelling hub launched today, the European COVID-19 Scenario Hub, will present modelling projections on how the COVID-19 pandemic may evolve in terms of cases, hospitalisations and deaths. It will serve as a resource for Member States in their pandemic planning and inform decisions aimed at minimising the expected burden caused by COVID-19 under different scenarios. The hub is developed and run by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in co-operation with the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). “The Scenario Hub will help inform public health preparedness and anticipatory action as Europe transitions into new phases of the pandemic” said Andrea Ammon, ECDC Director. “It will also play a key role in supporting ECDC's risk analysis, assessment of public health advice and strategic planning.”
30th May 2022 - European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

N. Korea moves to soften curbs amid doubts over COVID counts

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other top officials discussed revising stringent anti-epidemic restrictions during a meeting Sunday, state media reported, as they maintained a widely disputed claim that the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak is slowing. The discussion at the North’s Politburo meeting suggests it will soon relax a set of draconian curbs imposed after its admission of the omicron outbreak this month out of concern about its food and economic situations. Kim and other Politburo members “made a positive evaluation of the pandemic situation being controlled and improved across the country,” the official Korean Central News Agency said.
29th May 2022 - Reuters


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Testing Positive in Zero-Covid China

Millions of people around the world have had Covid-19 in the last two years. I’m one of a small number of Americans to have had it in zero-Covid China, and with it a taste of a public-health approach that has, over the past two years, locked down large swaths of the world’s most populous nation for weeks and even months at a time. I tested positive 19 hours after arriving in Beijing on Feb. 4 to cover figure skating at the 2022 Olympic Games. Under U.S. protocols I would simply have secluded myself in my hotel room. In China, after five days of resistance, I was marched by two strangers into an elevator whose floor was slick with sanitizer, through a lobby cordoned off with yellow police tape, and into an ambulance that would take me to an isolation facility for open-ended detention.
29th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Beijing Says Outbreak Under Control as City Eases Movement Curbs

China’s capital Beijing will loosen mobility curbs in several districts from Sunday after authorities said its outbreak is under control, while total case numbers in the financial hub of Shanghai continued to decline. Most public transportation services including buses, subways and taxis will resume in three districts including Chaoyang, according to Xu Hejian, a spokesman for the Beijing city government. Shopping centers outside of controlled areas in the city will also be allowed to reopen with capacity limits on the number of people. Chaoyang is home to Beijing’s central business district, most foreign embassies and expatriates.
29th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai edges towards COVID reopening as Beijing plans to ease curbs

The Chinese metropolis of Shanghai inched further towards a gradual reopening from two months of grinding COVID-19 lockdown, while officials in Beijing prepared to ease curbs in parts of the capital,
29th May 2022 - Reuters

U.S. doctors reconsider Pfizer's Paxlovid for lower-risk COVID patients

Use of Pfizer Inc's Covid-19 antiviral Paxlovid spiked this week, but some doctors are reconsidering the pills for lower-risk patients after a U.S. public health agency warned that symptoms can recur after people complete a course of the drug, and that they should then isolate a second time. More quarantine time "is not a crowd-pleaser," Dr. Sandra Kemmerly, an infectious disease specialist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, told Reuters. "For those people who really aren't at risk ... I would recommend that they not take it."
29th May 2022 - Reuters

Swiss to destroy more than 620000 expired Moderna COVID doses

Switzerland will destroy more than 620,000 expired doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, health officials said on Friday, as demand for the shots drops dramatically. "It was consciously accepted that under certain circumstances too much vaccine was procured for Switzerland's needs," a spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Heath said, confirming a report by broadcaster RTS. "The aim is to protect the population in Switzerland at all times with sufficient quantities of the most effective vaccines available."
28th May 2022 - Reuters

Beijing to relax COVID curbs in some areas from Sunday

Beijing will ease curbs in some low-risk areas of the Chinese capital on Sunday to allow a return to normal life, city officials said on Saturday. Fangshan and Shunyi districts can shift from work-from-home to normal mode, the officials told a news conference. Public transportation including busses, taxis and subway will resume service in three districts, and shopping malls will be allowed be reopen in some areas.
28th May 2022 - Reuters

Modelling predicts Western Australia's COVID-19 cases will keep falling as state enters home stretch of Omicron outbreak

Western Australia has officially recorded more than 700,000 COVID-19 cases in the past five months. But modelling by the Telethon Kids Institute and Curtin University suggests the true figure might be closer to 850,000 due to asymptomatic cases and some people who failed to get tested or report their results.
28th May 2022 - ABC News

Cyprus gets rid of required COVID-19 tests for visitors

Travelers to Cyprus will no longer be required to show either a valid COVID-19 vaccination or a recovery certificate and won’t need to produce a negative recent COVID-19 test of June 1, the Cypriot government said Friday. The government also decided to abolish a requirement to wear face masks in all indoor areas in Cyprus as of June 1 with the exception of hospitals, nursing homes and other indoor medical facilities. Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos said the decision to lift COVID-19 screening requirements at airports signals the tourism-reliant island nation is ready to return to normality.
28th May 2022 - The Associated Press

Moderna aims to provide Omicron vaccine in Japan in autumn

A senior Moderna official says the US pharmaceutical company aims to provide a coronavirus vaccine for the Omicron variant as early as this autumn in Japan using the country's new emergency approval system. Paul Burton, chief medical officer at Moderna, had an exclusive interview with NHK in Tokyo on Thursday. He said his company is developing a vaccine that works for the Omicron variant and other strains that have been detected earlier. He said Moderna should have data on the new vaccine "in the next couple of weeks." He said he thinks "it is going to provide strong, long-lasting protection even against Omicron."
27th May 2022 - NHK WORLD

China's industrial profits slump in April as COVID curbs squeeze firms

Profits at China's industrial firms fell at their fastest pace in two years in April as high raw material prices and supply chain chaos caused by COVID-19 curbs squeezed margins and disrupted factory activity. Profits shrank 8.5% from a year earlier, swinging from a 12.2% gain in March, according to Reuters' calculations based on National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data released on Friday. The slump is the biggest since March 2020.
27th May 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19: Wales set to lift final remaining coronavirus restrictions

The final remaining COVID restrictions are expected to be lifted in Wales, the government has said. Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce the update on Friday, with the restrictions to be removed from Monday, 30 May. Wales moved to alert level 0 in January and the majority of measures were removed in March. But there are still some remaining: • Face coverings are legally required in health and care settings (but nowhere else) • Workplaces and premises open to the public must continue to carry out coronavirus work assessments • If you have COVID symptoms you must take a lateral flow test
27th May 2022 - Sky News

Global firms warn of sluggish China demand due to lengthy COVID curbs

Two months into harsh COVID-19 lockdowns that have choked global supply chains, China's economy is staggering back to its feet, but businesses from retailers to chipmakers are warning of slow sales as consumers in the country slam the brakes on spending.
27th May 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Hospitals are exploring a way to pay for uninsured Covid-19 care

The federal health department shut down a program that paid hospitals and clinics for caring for uninsured Covid-19 patients, but some hospitals are now eyeing a backdoor option to get those costs paid for. Throughout much of the pandemic, the costs of testing, vaccinating, and treating uninsured patients were mostly funneled to a multi-billion-dollar program run by the Health Resources and Services Administration, but that program ran out of money and shut down in April. The program paid out more than $1 billion per month, which means its closure was a big hit for some facilities that serve large numbers of uninsured patients.
26th May 2022 - STAT News

Analysis: Britain's shrunken workforce hampers COVID recovery

Britain's economy regained its pre-COVID size late last year, but in one crucial way it has not recovered: there are 400,000 fewer workers than at the start of the pandemic.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

New Study Shows Vaccination Reduces Long Covid Risk, but Modestly

Vaccination reduces your risk of developing long Covid, but not by much on average, new research suggests. A Veterans Affairs study out Wednesday found that vaccinated people with breakthrough Covid-19 infections had a 15% reduction in experiencing persistent or new symptoms and health conditions up to six months after infection compared with those who were unvaccinated and got Covid.
26th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Breakthrough infections may be less contagious; vaccine protection wanes faster in cancer patients

The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review. Breakthrough infections may be less contagious Fully vaccinated individuals who get infected with the coronavirus spread the infection to fewer people and are contagious for less time compared to people who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated, a small study from South Korea suggests. In 173 hospital workers with COVID-19, including 50 who had breakthrough infections, researchers found that the virus had been transmitted to others in the hospital by 7% of the vaccinated group compared with 26% of the unvaccinated, even though the two groups had similar viral loads when diagnosed. In a separate group of 45 people with mild COVID-19 who were being quarantined, the researchers observed shedding of infectious virus particles for four days in the six people who had been fully vaccinated, 8 days in the 11 partially vaccinated people, and 10 days in the 28 unvaccinated people.
26th May 2022 - Reuters


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China’s Top Two Leaders Diverge in Messaging on Covid Impact

When China’s top two leaders sought to reassure foreign executives increasingly frustrated over the country’s stringent Covid-control measures last week, Chinese leadership seemed to be speaking with two voices. On May 18, President Xi Jinping spoke by video about economic challenges the world faces as a result of the pandemic but made little mention of China’s own economic downturn—which has been exacerbated by the costs of China’s stringent measures to combat Covid outbreaks. A day later, in an in-person meeting, Premier Li Keqiang struck a more candid and conciliatory tone, focusing his remarks largely on China’s own issues. Speaking to a group of senior representatives for American, European and Asian multinationals operating in China, Mr. Li said China is “committed to striking a balance” between reviving the economy and containing repeated Covid-19 outbreaks, said people who attended the meeting with Mr. Li, held at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.
26th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Employers more open to part-time working post-Covid-19, report finds

The furlough scheme brought in by the Government during the Covid-19 pandemic did not just save millions of people from unemployment and economic hardship, but may have had a lasting effect on the ways in which their employers allow them to work in the future, according to a new report out today (25 May). Introduced in March 2020, and further modified in July that year to allow for a part-time furlough option, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) enabled organisations to reclaim up to 80% of the wage costs of employees that could not work during the pandemic. Successful in avoiding mass redundancies during a time of crisis, new research from Cranfield School of Management and the CBI has found the scheme may also have ongoing benefits, by increasing employer openness to and knowledge of how to facilitate part-time working.
25th May 2022 - Cranfield University

Pfizer warns of 'constant waves' of Covid as complacency grows

Growing complacency about Covid-19 and politicisation of the pandemic response will cost lives as the world is hit by new waves of the virus in the coming months, Pfizer’s chief executive has warned. Albert Bourla said people were growing “tired” of the measures introduced to slow the spread of the virus, while “politicians want to claim victory”. Compliance with authorities’ requests for people to get booster shots would fall even among those who are already vaccinated, he predicted.
25th May 2022 - Financial Times

French health body backs new COVID vaccine booster campaign for this autumn

France's Haute Autorite de Sante (HAS) health authority recommended preparing for a new vaccination campaign this autumn to give people aged 65 and older, and those with special health risks or conditions, access to a COVID-19 "booster" jab. The French government typically follows the recommendations of the country's health authority body.
25th May 2022 - Reuters

Germany eases COVID-19 entry rules from June 1 -Funke

Germany's Health Ministry will ease COVID-19 entry rules for travellers from June 1, suspending a requirement for vaccination, recovery from the virus or a negative test, Funke media group reported on Wednesday, citing the health minister. "We will suspend the 3G rule on entry until the end of August," Health Minister Karl Lauterbach was quoted as saying. The new regulations still need to pass the Cabinet on Wednesday and will recognise all COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organisation even if not approved by the European Union, Funke reported.
25th May 2022 - Reuters

Pfizer to offer low-cost medicines, vaccines to poor nations

Pfizer said Wednesday that it will provide nearly two dozen products, including its top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, at not-for-profit prices in some of the world’s poorest countries. The drugmaker announced the program at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, and said it was aimed at improving health equity in 45 lower-income countries. Most of the countries are in Africa, but the list also includes Haiti, Syria, Cambodia and North Korea. The products, which are widely available in the U.S. and the European Union, include 23 medicines and vaccines that treat infectious diseases, some cancers and rare and inflammatory conditions
25th May 2022 - The Associated Press

Manhattan return-to-office plans face persistent headwinds over COVID, safety

Efforts by financial firms and others to bring workers back to Manhattan offices more than two years after the start of the coronavirus pandemic face persistent headwinds, consultants said, with commuters still worrying about COVID-19 as well as safety. New York has lagged others major markets in the percentage of employees regularly working in the office, in part because of high usage rates of public transportation and COVID concerns, said David Lewis, chief executive of HR consultant firm OperationsInc, which works with several firms in the financial sector.
24th May 2022 - Reuters


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Covid-19 Vaccine and Drug Sales, Once Booming, Plateau

The gold rush for drugmakers making Covid-19 vaccines and treatments might be over, as demand plateaus, supplies turn ample and the pandemic evolves. Merck & Co. and Johnson & Johnson are among the companies cutting sales expectations for pandemic products this year as they assess the outlook. Analysts, meantime, are lowering sales estimates for Covid-19 drugs such as Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral Paxlovid, citing softening demand and few new supply deals. The situation marks a new phase in the pandemic, according to analysts, one without the record sales that certain companies such as Pfizer and Moderna Inc. notched just a few months ago.
25th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Retailer Selloff Leaves Covid Slump in the Dust as Rout Widens

The darkest days of the pandemic might be long gone, but for chain stores and other merchants, it’s March 2020 all over again. And it’s getting worse. A selloff in Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. shares has pushed the SPDR S&P Retail exchange-traded fund (ticker XRT) down 44% from its November record high, outpacing the fund’s 41% rout during the pandemic. The $484 million ETF’s 16% slump in May would be the second-worst month since 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Rising costs on everything from transportation to labor are eating into the profit margins of some of America’s best known retailers, stoking concerns over whether companies will be able to pass on the increased expenses to consumers.
25th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Beijing ramps up COVID quarantine, Shanghai residents decry uneven rules

Beijing stepped up quarantine efforts to end its month-old COVID outbreak as fresh signs of frustration emerged in Shanghai, where some bemoaned unfair curbs with the city of 25 million preparing to lift a prolonged lockdown in just over a week.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

61% of Americans Underestimate Their Odds of Contracting Long COVID-19

Two years into the pandemic, most people underestimate the prevalence of long COVID-19, according to a new survey from fintech leader Policygenius. More than half of Americans (61%) estimate that long COVID affects up to 20% of COVID-19 cases, when studies show that it actually affects 31% of North Americans who have contracted COVID-19.
24th May 2022 - Business Insider

Sweden: 5th COVID-19 shot to people over 65, pregnant women

Sweden is recommending a fifth COVID-19 vaccine dose for people with an increased risk of becoming seriously ill, including pregnant women and anyone aged 65 and over, authorities said Tuesday, adding that the country must "be prepared for an increased spread during the upcoming autumn and winter season.” “The vaccine is our strongest tool for preventing serious illness and death,” Swedish Social Affairs Minister Lena Hallengren said, adding the pandemic is not over. As of Sept. 1, Sweden recommends that another booster shot is given to people aged 65 and older and people over 18 in the risk groups.
24th May 2022 - ABC News

Why the Gym is Risky for COVID-19, and Tips for Keeping Safe

Now a new experiment has given us a more exact sense of just how many aerosols a single person can spew during an intense workout—and the results aren’t pretty. According to research by scientists in Germany published in PNAS on May 23, people emit about 132 times as many aerosols per minute during high intensity exercise than when they’re at rest, which the researchers warn raises the risk of a person infected with COVID-19 setting off a superspreader event. At rest, people emitted an average of 580 particles each minute, but during maximal exercise—in which researchers gradually increased intensity until the subjects were exhausted—people emitted an average of 76,200 particles a minute.
23rd May 2022 - TIME

Covid can cause ongoing damage to heart, lungs and kidneys, study finds

Damage to the body’s organs including the lungs and kidneys is common in people who were admitted to hospital with Covid, with one in eight found to have heart inflammation, researchers have revealed. As the pandemic evolved, it became clear that some people who had Covid were being left with ongoing symptoms – a condition that has been called long Covid. Previous studies have revealed that fewer than a third of patients who have ongoing Covid symptoms after being hospitalised with the disease feel fully recovered a year later, while some experts have warned long Covid could result in a generation affected by disability.
23rd May 2022 - The Guardian


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Indian vaccine giant Serum plans African plant in global expansion

"It's never been a better time to be a vaccine manufacturer. I'm looking at expanding our manufacturing across the globe," SII Chief Executive Adar Poonawalla said during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "There are some great countries out there: South Africa, Rwanda, you know, to name a few that we're looking at." Poonawalla said he was meeting some African officials in Davos to discuss his plans. Asked about possible investments, he said such projects typically required at least around $300 million.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai reopens some public transport, still on high COVID alert

Shanghai reopened a small part of the world's longest subway system on Sunday after some lines had been closed for almost two months, as the city paves the way for a more complete lifting of its painful COVID-19 lockdown next week. With most residents not allowed to leave their homes and restrictions tightening in parts of China's most populous city, commuters early on Sunday needed strong reasons to travel.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

Tesla plans to ramp up to pre-lockdown output in Shanghai by Tuesday

Tesla Inc plans to restore production at its Shanghai plant to the level at which it had operated before the city's COVID-19 lockdown by Tuesday, a day later than its most recent recovery plan, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters. Tesla will more than double its daily output to 2,600 electric vehicles at its Shanghai plant from Tuesday, according to the memo detailing the plan. That compares to around 1,000 EVs produced on Monday, according to the memo, and would bring Tesla's weekly output to nearly 16,000 units, the memo showed.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

N.Korea says virus situation 'under control'

North Korea said on Tuesday it was witnessing a "stable" downward trend in its first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, reporting less than 200,000 new patients with fever symptoms for a third consecutive day on Tuesday. The COVID wave, declared on May 12, has fuelled concerns over a lack of vaccines, inadequate medical infrastructure and a potential food crisis in the country of 25 million. At least 134,510 people newly showed fever symptoms as of Monday evening, taking the total number of such cases to 2.95 million since late April, the official KCNA news agency reported. The death toll stood at 68.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

BoE's COVID policy not to blame for inflation, Bailey says

Governor Andrew Bailey on Monday pushed back against his critics who blame the Bank of England for allowing inflation to accelerate to a 40-year high, saying the facts do not support this. The British central bank has been accused by lawmakers in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ruling Conservative Party and even by former governor Mervyn King of being too slow to halt a rise in consumer prices that are up 9% compared with a year ago.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

China Covid Lockdowns: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai Rules Still Widespread

Beijing and Tianjin continue to ramp up Covid restrictions as cases climb, while reopening in Shanghai looks to be taking place in fits and starts, with most people still unable to move about freely. The emergence of the highly contagious omicron variant has spurred increasingly stringent pandemic curbs in China since March, in some cases snap lockdowns that carried heavy costs for the local population and economy. The pattern of transmission and restrictions across the country could offer insight into what regions may be vulnerable to disruption in the days ahead. Nationwide, overall cases are trending down. Of China’s top 50 cities by economic size, only Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai currently have widespread restrictions in place.
23rd May 2022 - Bloomberg

Oman ends all COVID protective measures

Oman announced on Sunday the lifting of all measures that had been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in all venues and for all activities, state TV reported, citing a statement from the government committee dealing with the pandemic. There have been 389,943 infections and 4,260 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the sultanate since the pandemic began, according to Reuters data.
22nd May 2022 - Reuters


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Apple Looks to Boost Production Outside China

Apple Inc. has told some of its contract manufacturers that it wants to boost production outside China, citing Beijing’s strict anti-Covid policy among other reasons, people involved in the discussions said. India and Vietnam, already sites for a small portion of Apple’s global production, are among the countries getting a closer look from the company as alternatives to China, the people said.
22nd May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Switzerland buys Pfizer's COVID-19 antiviral Paxlovid

Switzerland signed a contract to buy Pfizer's anti-viral drug Paxlovid to treat Covid-19, it said on Friday. The European country said it had signed a contract to buy 12,000 packages and first treatments for certain at-risk patients would start this month.
21st May 2022 - Reuters

Senior, Nursing Homes Rocked By Covid Costs Struggle to Escape Closure

That’s a huge difference from the strongest financially performing nursing homes that saw up to 10% returns before the pandemic, said John Tishler, who specializes in transactions involving distressed and bankrupt health-care facilities at Nashville law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis. The pandemic revealed and amplified long-existing shortcomings at the more than 15,000 nursing homes in the US, such as inadequate staffing, poor infection control and regulatory failures, according to an April report from the National Academy of Sciences. As of last month, more than 150,000 nursing home residents and 2,362 workers had died from Covid-19, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.
22nd May 2022 - Bloomberg

Beijing ramps up local COVID-19 lockdowns as Shanghai slowly starts to move again

Authorities in Beijing are ramping up COVID-19 restrictions, while some residents of Shanghai said they were able to leave their apartments on brief trips outside on Friday. Much of Chaoyang district in the eastern part of the Chinese capital was under lockdown on Friday, while 100 subway stations and 24 administrative districts in Fangshan district were locked down after 10 positive PCR tests among college students there. The Beijing municipal health commission reported 64 newly discovered local cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, of which 10 were students at the Beijing Institute of Technology's Fangshan campus. While the authorities haven't declared a lockdown, parts of the city are indeed in a locked-down state, a Fangshan resident surnamed Zhang told RFA.
21st May 2022 - Radio Free Asia

COVID-19 alert level in UK reduced - as Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 reclassified as variants of concern

The UK's coronavirus alert level has been reduced - as two rare types of Omicron have been reclassified as variants of concern. The level has moved from four to three after advice from the four nations' chief medical officers and the NHS England medical director. They said that "the current BA.2 driven Omicron wave is subsiding" and "direct COVID-19 healthcare pressures continue to decrease in all nations". Their statement added: "Whilst it is reasonable to expect the number of cases to increase due to BA.4, BA.5 or BA2.12.1, it is unlikely in the immediate future to lead to significant direct COVID pressures." The alert level was last raised on 12 December as Omicron spread rapidly.
21st May 2022 - Sky News

North Korea shuns outside help as COVID catastrophe looms

Like no other country, North Korea could do with help against COVID-19. The country’s population is unvaccinated and susceptible to disease due to chronic malnourishment. Its dilapidated healthcare system lacks supplies of basic drugs and equipment. But even as North Korea faces the prospect of a humanitarian catastrophe amid its first officially confirmed coronavirus outbreak, Pyongyang is steadfastly refusing offers of international assistance. The United States and South Korea have not received a response to offers to help tackle the outbreak, including by sending aid, according to South Korean officials. The World Health Organization, which is “deeply concerned at the risk of further spread”, said the country had not responded to requests for information about the outbreak.
21st May 2022 - Al Jazeera English

North Korea's Low Death Count Questioned Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

North Korea said Friday that nearly 10% of its 26 million people have fallen ill and 65 people have died amid its first COVID-19 outbreak, as outside experts question the validity of its reported fatalities and worry about a possible humanitarian crisis. After admitting the omicron outbreak last week following more than two years of claiming to be coronavirus-free, North Korea has said an unidentified fever has been explosively spreading across the country since late April. Its anti-epidemic center has since released fever tallies each morning via state media, but they don’t include any COVID-19 figures.
20th May 2022 - Bloomberg


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Tea and infomercials: N. Korea fights COVID with few tools

“North Koreans know so many people around the world have died because of COVID-19, so they have fear that some of them could die, too,” said Kang Mi-jin, a North Korean defector, citing her phone calls with contacts in the northern North Korean city of Hyesan. She said people who can afford it are buying traditional medicine to deal with their anxieties. Since admitting what it called its first domestic COVID-19 outbreak one week ago, North Korea has been fighting to handle a soaring health crisis that has intensified public anxiety over a virus it previously claimed to have kept at bay.
20th May 2022 - The Associated Press

Shanghai Finds First Covid Cases Outside Quarantine in Six Days

Shanghai found the first cases of Covid-19 outside of quarantine in six days, raising questions about whether the easing of the city’s lockdown will be impacted. Total infections in Shanghai rose to 858 on Thursday from 719 on Wednesday, with three of the cases found outside of government quarantine. Authorities started to ease the lockdown -- which had confined residents to their homes and curtailed business activity -- earlier this week after the city hit a milestone of three days of zero community transmission. However, many restrictions remain in place and swaths of the city’s population are still largely stuck inside their compounds.
20th May 2022 - Bloomberg

UK vaccine advisers eye autumn COVID boosters for over-65s

Britain's vaccine advisers on Thursday said that an anticipated autumn COVID booster campaign would be aimed at people aged over 65, care home residents, frontline health and social care workers and all adults in a clinical risk group. Britain is offering a spring booster to the over-75s, care home residents and immunosuppressed people, and ministers have spoken openly of plans for a further booster campaign in the autumn.
20th May 2022 - Reuters

White House warns the US can't buy updated Covid-19 vaccines 'for every American who wants one' without more funding

White House Covid-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha warned Wednesday that without more funding from Congress the US will not be able to buy enough Covid-19 vaccines for every American who wants an updated shot later this year. Scientists are working to develop new vaccines that would offer additional protection from infection and severe illness from new variants, including the possibility of a bivalent vaccine, a vaccine that would combine a currently approved vaccine with an Omicron-specific vaccine, for example. The US Food and Drug Administration could make a decision as soon as next month based on data from manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer for distribution in the fall.
19th May 2022 - CNN

Taiwan firms resuming production in China as COVID curbs ease -minister

Roughly half of Taiwanese companies that had previously suspended work in China due to COVID-19 control measures have resumed production as curbs ease, the island's economy minister said on Thursday. Shanghai and neighbouring Kunshan, a hub for Taiwanese electronics makers including Apple supplier Quanta Computer, last month imposed stringent lockdowns to control the country's biggest COVID outbreak.
19th May 2022 - Reuters

COVID vaccine patents not discussed at G7 health ministers meeting

The question of COVID-19 vaccine patents was not discussed at a meeting of the health ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) countries in Berlin, German Health Ministers Karl Lauterbach said on Thursday. "We haven't discussed the release of patents because the question hasn't come up yet, but that can definitely happen," Lauterbach told a joint news conference with German Development Minister Svenja Schulze.
19th May 2022 - Reuters

Germany’s top court OKs vaccine mandate for health workers

Germany’s top court said Thursday it has approved rules requiring health workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Federal Constitutional Court announced that it had rejected complaints against the measure, arguing that the importance of protecting vulnerable people in hospitals and care homes outweighs any infringement of health workers’ rights. The limited mandate came into effect in mid-March. The constitutional court had previously refused to issue an injunction blocking its implementation while it reached a final decision. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach welcomed Thursday’s ruling, saying in a statement that “the state is obliged to protect vulnerable groups.”
19th May 2022 - Associated Press

Shanghai to reopen subways in easing of COVID lockdown

The locked-down Chinese metropolis of Shanghai will reopen four of its 20 subway lines Sunday as it slowly eases pandemic restrictions that have kept most residents in their housing complexes for more than six weeks. The city will also restart 273 bus lines connecting major urban centers, airports, train stations and hospitals as it resumes cross-district public transit, Yu Fulin, director of the Shanghai Transport Commission, said at a daily pandemic briefing Thursday.
19th May 2022 - Associated Press

N. Korea’s low death count questioned amid COVID-19 outbreak

North Korea said Friday that nearly 10% of its 26 million people have fallen ill and 65 people have died amid its first COVID-19 outbreak, as outside experts question the validity of its reported fatalities and worry about a possible humanitarian crisis.
19th May 2022 - The Associated Press

A third of US should be considering masks, officials say

COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States — and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking. Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions. Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Those are areas where people should already be considering wearing masks indoors — but Americans elsewhere should also take notice, officials said.
18th May 2022 - Associated Press


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Doctors let down by Government during Covid-19 pandemic, says BMA

The Government “failed in its duty of care” to doctors during the coronavirus crisis, a union has said. The British Medical Association (BMA) launched a scathing attack on the ministerial response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The union, which has conducted its own review of the Government’s handling of the crisis, highlighted the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early stages of the pandemic. It also pointed to the mental and physical exhaustion felt by most doctors as they cared for hundreds of thousands of patients with Covid – all while working in a “dystopian reality”, the union said.
19th May 2022 - The Independent

North Korea's suspected COVID-19 caseload nears 2 million

North Korea on Thursday reported 262,270 more cases of people with suspected symptoms of COVID-19 as its pandemic caseload neared 2 million — a week after the country acknowledged the outbreak and scrambled to slow the rate of infections despite a lack of health care resources. The country is also trying to prevent its fragile economy from deteriorating, but the outbreak could be worse than officially reported because of scarce resources for virus testing and the possibility that North Korea could be deliberately underreporting deaths to soften the political impact on authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea’s anti-virus headquarters reported a single death in the 24 hours to 6 p.m. Wednesday to bring its death toll to 63, which experts have said is abnormally small compared to the suspected number of infections.
19th May 2022 - The Associated Press

A third of US should be considering masks, officials say

COVID-19 cases are increasing in the United States — and could get even worse over the coming months, federal health officials warned Wednesday in urging areas hardest hit to consider reissuing calls for indoor masking. Increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are putting more of the country under guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that call for masking and other infection precautions. Right now, about a third of the U.S. population lives in areas that are considered at higher risk — mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Those are areas where people should already be considering wearing masks indoors — but Americans elsewhere should also take notice, officials said.
19th May 2022 - The Associated Press

Other People Are Working Through Covid. Do You Have To?

As the disease and corporate sick policies evolve, a number of factors have made it less clear-cut when workers can, or should, take a break to recover. Employers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. have recently cut back the expanded sick leaves they introduced in the early days of the pandemic. The Omicron variant’s often milder symptoms are also prompting many employees with remote-work options to simply power through their illness from home. As cases rise in places with high vaccination rates, many say they feel the same pressure to minimize sick days as they did in prepandemic times. A survey of 3,600 hourly workers by The Shift Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School this spring found that two-thirds of those who reported getting sick with Covid-19 or otherwise worked through their illness. People cited financial responsibilities as the top reason, followed by being afraid they would get in trouble for calling in sick and not being able to get their shifts covered.
19th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Latest Covid-19 Wave Expands to More of U.S.

The latest Covid-19 case surge is expanding beyond the Northeast, with places from the Midwest to Florida and California under rising pressure. Fueled by highly contagious versions of the Omicron variant, the tide is posing a test of how much new infections matter in a changing pandemic. Though built-up immunity in the population has kept more people out of hospitals, federal health officials on Wednesday urged people in hot spots to take precautions, from booster shots to pre-gathering tests and masks, to limit the virus’ spread. “We’ve got to do what we can to prevent infections,” said Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator. “We’ve got to do what we can to ensure that infections don’t turn into severe illness.”
19th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

N.Korea boosts production of drugs, medical supplies to battle COVID

North Korea is ramping up production of drugs and medical supplies including sterilisers and thermometers as it battles an unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, state media KCNA said on Thursday. The isolated country, which has imposed a nationwide lockdown, is also increasing production of traditional Korean medicines used to reduce fever and pain, KCNA said, calling them "effective in prevention and cure of the malicious disease."
19th May 2022 - Reuters

Germany OKs more COVID-19 vaccine spending for this fall

Germany plans to spend another 830 million euros ($872 million) to buy new coronavirus vaccines that will allow the country to deal with a series of possible variants this fall, the health minister said Wednesday. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said that the government, via the European Union, already has ordered enough of the existing vaccines and of one that has been developed by Germany’s BioNTech to counter the omicron variant. He said the new funding is earmarked for a vaccine being developed by Moderna to tackle both omicron and other variants. “We are betting on a broad portfolio of vaccines; we must be prepared for all eventualities,” Lauterbach said. “We don't know what variants will confront us in the fall.” “One lesson from the pandemic is that we never again want to have too little vaccine,” he added, alluding to the sluggish start early last year of the EU's and Germany's COVID-19 vaccination campaign. “We want to be able to offer all those who need or want it a fourth shot.”
18th May 2022 - The Independent

Covid-19 wastewater surveillance is promising tool, but critical challenges remain

Covid-19 surveillance is at a crossroads in the United States. With at-home tests now outnumbering those done in laboratories, official case counts are more incomplete than ever as the nation -- and world -- faces down increasingly transmissible coronavirus variants. Wastewater surveillance is poised to fill in the gaps and help avoid the threats that an invisible wave of the virus could bring. This surveillance can help identify trends in transmission a week or two earlier than clinical testing, giving public health leaders the chance to focus messaging and resources. It can be used as a tool to sequence the virus and find new variants sooner, too. But eagerness to use this tool is stifled by uncertainty about exactly how to do so, along with a lack of resources and support to learn. Testing sewage for virus particles can provide early warning signs of increased transmission in a community, capturing even those who have asymptomatic infections or aren't being tested.
18th May 2022 - CNN

What to do if you test positive for Covid-19 now

Covid-19 infections are on the rise, with most US states reporting an increase in cases. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highly contagious BA.2.1.21 subvariant of Omicron is now the dominant strain of coronavirus nationwide. Two years into the pandemic, many aren't sure what to do after testing positive for Covid-19. Should they isolate, and if so, for how long? How important is it to see a doctor? What therapies are available, and who is eligible? To help answer these and other questions, I spoke with CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is also author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health" and the mother of two young children.
18th May 2022 - CNN


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th May 2022

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Covid support schemes left ‘open goal’ to fraudsters, says watchdog

The business department’s handling of Covid support schemes left an “open goal” to fraudsters and embezzlers that has added “billions to taxpayer woes”, parliament’s spending watchdog has found. In its review of the annual report of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it recognised that the government offered crucial support to businesses at the height of the pandemic. However, it said efforts to identify fraud and error had come too late, given that by the time they are confirmed the money will have been spent and “trails will have long ago gone cold”. “BEIS says it saw this risk coming but it’s really not clear where government was looking when it set up its initial Covid response,” said the PAC’s chair, the Labour MP Dame Meg Hillier.
18th May 2022 - The Guardian

N.Y.C. urges people to wear masks indoors, but stops short of requiring it.

Citing high community transmission and rising hospitalizations from a fifth wave of coronavirus cases, New York City health officials on Monday strongly recommended that all individuals wear medical-grade masks in offices, grocery stores and other public indoor settings citywide. The new recommendations, issued in a health advisory by the city health commissioner, came as the city approached the orange, or “high” alert level for Covid-19, a benchmark it expects to hit in the coming days. The new advisory also called on those who are at increased risk for severe illness, including unvaccinated children under 5 and people over 65, to avoid nonessential indoor gatherings and crowded settings.
17th May 2022 - The New York Times

US-China Fight May Spoil Global Deal for a Covid Vaccine-Patent Waiver

A brewing trade fight between the US and China may unravel a nearly two-year effort to ease intellectual-property rules for producing Covid-19 vaccines and cast further doubt on the World Trade Organization’s reputation as a negotiating forum. US President Joe Biden’s top trade official in Geneva said any WTO agreement related to Covid-19 vaccines must explicitly exclude China from being able to benefit from the deal.
17th May 2022 - Bloomberg

African leaders urge global vaccine body to buy locally made Covid jabs

African leaders have called on the organisation in charge of procurement for the Covax vaccine sharing scheme to commit to buying at least 30 per cent of all Covid-19 jabs produced on the continent, as the future of Africa’s biggest manufacturing facility hangs in the balance. Covid-19 vaccine production at the Aspen Pharmacare facility in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, ground to a halt in late March because of a drop-off in demand, putting its future in doubt and threatening to undermine African Union plans to increase local jab production.
17th May 2022 - Financial Times

Austria lifts COVID-19 entry requirements – EURACTIV.com

Entering Austria no longer requires proof of vaccination, recovery passes, or testing after all COVID-19-related entry requirements were dropped from Monday. Provided there is no extension or change, these measures, presented by the health ministry Friday evening (13 May), should remain lifted until the end of September. According to the ministry, the current epidemiological situation justified lifting the entry regulations.
17th May 2022 - Euractiv

Japan to allow limited tour groups from May as step to full re-opening

Japan said on Tuesday it would start conducting "test tourism" in the form of limited package tours in May as a way of gathering information prior to a full re-opening of the country to tourism. Though tourism was a major pillar of Japan's economy, tourists have not been permitted to enter since it adopted strict border controls in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
17th May 2022 - Reuters.com

Indonesia to drop outdoor mask mandate as COVID infections drop

Indonesia will drop requirements for people to mask up outdoors and for vaccinated travellers to show negative pre-departure tests, officials said on Tuesday, as COVID-19 infections decline in the Southeast Asian country. Masks are no longer required outdoors as "the pandemic is getting more and more controlled", President Joko Widodo said in a statement streamed online. But masks must still be worn indoors and on public transportation, he said
17th May 2022 - Reuters.com

Omitting long Covid from pandemic messaging is harmful for public health

Public health messaging about Covid-19 has focused almost exclusively on hospitalizations and deaths. The omission of long Covid, which may affect between 8 million and 23 million Americans, deprives the public of the knowledge necessary to understand the risks of various activities, make informed decisions about risk-taking, and understand what is happening to them if they feel sick for an extended period. Local and national public health entities continue to characterize infections not resulting in hospitalization as “mild,” and most media have followed their lead. Authorities have been shaping a narrative in which the primary risks from Covid are acute illness, death, and impacts on health care systems. Yet evidence is rapidly mounting that post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC, or long Covid) can cause symptoms — often debilitating symptoms — that persist for months or even years after infection.
17th May 2022 - STAT News

Beijing's retail, industry upended by COVID restrictions

The economy of China's capital Beijing took a hit in April as authorities wrestled with a new COVID outbreak, telling residents to avoid going out or work from home and halting many businesses. Retail sales in the city of nearly 22 million people, a key gauge of consumption, shrank 16.05% in April from a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on January-April data released by the city's statistics bureau on Tuesday, outpacing the nation's 11.1% contraction.
17th May 2022 - Reuters


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US Surpasses One Million Covid-19 Deaths - WSJ

The Covid-19 mortality count—just over one million and still rising—is reflected in death certificates recorded by the CDC. Of these certificates, at least 90% list Covid-19 as the underlying cause of death, the CDC said. The remainder list the disease as a contributing cause. These records show how deaths have swept through the U.S. since the pandemic began, hitting states and populations unevenly. Early hot spots included places like New York City and New Jersey. The burden later shifted southward, including in states where vaccination rates have lagged behind. Vaccines have shown they reduce the risk of severe illness and death.
17th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China's economy cools sharply in April as lockdowns bite

China's retail and factory activity fell sharply in April as wide COVID-19 lockdowns confined workers and consumers to their homes and severely disrupted supply chains, casting a long shadow over the outlook for the world's second-largest economy. Full or partial lockdowns were imposed in major centres across the country in March and April, including the most populous city Shanghai, hitting production and consumption and heightening risks for those parts of the global economy heavily dependent on China.
16th May 2022 - Reuters

Jersey's digital Covid vaccine certificates to show more doses and last longer

Jersey's digital Covid vaccine certificates have been upgraded. They will now show up to five doses rather than three and last for six months instead of one. The display has also been simplified for travel purposes to only include a single QR code showing the most recent vaccine.
16th May 2022 - ITV News

Covid-19 pushed 55 mn Africans into extreme poverty in 2020: UN Report

The disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into extreme poverty in 2020 and reversed more than two decades of poverty reduction in Africa, said a report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The report with the theme "Fight against poverty and vulnerability in Africa during the Covid-19 pandemic", was issued by the ECA during the 54th session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.
16th May 2022 - Business Standard

Children less active after Covid-19 restrictions eased, study finds

Activity levels among children fell below national guidelines after Covid-19 restrictions eased, a study finds. A university of Bristol study found by the end of 2021, less than a third were meeting the recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity daily. The findings showed children in England aged between 10 and 11 were doing eight minutes less activity than before 2021. Researchers said it "highlights a greater need" to work with families, and schools to get children active.
16th May 2022 - BBC News

We need a definitive exit from our Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s the roadmap

As the virus accelerates its evolution, the humans capitulate. For two and a half years, the virus has been outrunning our response, getting progressively more and more transmissible, reaching a level of infectiousness that few pathogens have ever attained. Instead of taking a stance of getting ahead of the virus, and out-smarting it, people have succumbed. In recent months, we experienced a striking jump in transmissibility when the Omicron (BA.1) variant became dominant with at least a three-fold increase in reproductive number beyond Delta. Despite the hope that this might be reaching the upper limit of the virus’s spread ability, we quickly transitioned to a BA.2 wave with at least another jump of about 30% transmissibility, and now we are heading, in the United States, to a dominant subvariant known as BA.2.12.1, which is another 25% more transmissible than BA.2 and already accounting for close to 50% of new cases.
16th May 2022 - The Guardian

Omicron Is Turning Out to Be a Weak Vaccine

With each new variant, that period of protection keeps getting shorter. In the past few weeks, studies out of South Africa, the US, and China have revealed that Omicron subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 are alarmingly good at escaping immunity from a previous Omicron infection. In practical terms, this means that for the large swath of the US population that was first infected with Covid over the winter, the post-infection honeymoon may be over. Those people might wonder how safe it is to travel, attend large gatherings and have dinner with vulnerable friends and relatives. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. “People want it to be, ‘Am I safe or not?,’” says Abraar Karan, an epidemiologist at Stanford University. But risk is a continuum.
16th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Detroit Three automakers reinstate mask mandate at some Michigan facilities

General Motors, Ford and Chrysler parent Stellantis are reinstating a requirement that employees wear masks in southeastern Michigan where there are high levels of COVID-19. The Detroit Three automakers said in early March they would allow auto workers to stop wearing masks at workplaces where U.S. health officials said it was safe to do so
16th May 2022 - Reuters

US deaths from COVID hit 1 million, less than 2 1/2 years in

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hit 1 million on Monday, a once-unimaginable figure that only hints at the multitudes of loved ones and friends staggered by grief and frustration. The confirmed number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 336 days. It is roughly equal to how many Americans died in the Civil War and World War II combined. It’s as if Boston and Pittsburgh were wiped out. Some of those left behind say they cannot return to normal. They replay their loved ones’ voicemail messages. Or watch old videos to see them dance. When other people say they are done with the virus, they bristle with anger or ache in silence.
16th May 2022 - Associated Press

Official: China’s economy reviving as anti-virus curbs ease

China’s sluggish economy is reviving as anti-virus curbs are eased and businesses in its commercial capital of Shanghai are allowed to reopen, a Cabinet official said Monday, while data showed April factory and consumer activity was even weaker than expected. About half of the 9,000 biggest industrial enterprises in Shanghai are back at work after controls that shut down most of the city starting in late March eased, said Fu Linghui, director of statistics for the National Bureau of Statistics. The ruling Communist Party is trying to reverse a deepening slowdown without giving up “zero-COVID” tactics that also have shut down sections of Beijing and other major cities to isolate every infected person.
16th May 2022 - Associated Press


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South Africa in new surge of COVID from versions of omicron

South Africa is experiencing a surge of new COVID-19 cases driven by two omicron sub-variants, according to health experts. For about three weeks the country has seen increasing numbers of new cases and somewhat higher hospitalizations, but not increases in severe cases and deaths, said Professor Marta Nunes, a researcher at Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Analytics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. “We’re still very early in this increase period, so I don’t want to really call it a wave,” Nunes said. “We are seeing a slight, a small increase in hospitalizations and really very few deaths.”
15th May 2022 - The Associated Press

North Korea reports more deaths, says taking 'swift measures' against COVID outbreak

North Korea said on Sunday a total of 42 people had died as the country began its fourth day under a nationwide lockdown aimed at stopping the impoverished country's first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.
15th May 2022 - Reuters

China's Covid-Zero Policy Is Producing a Deluge of Waste

China’s lockdowns and restrictions to battle the nation’s biggest Covid outbreak since the early days of the pandemic are causing a massive increase in garbage in its biggest cities. Waste related to Covid prevention, including those from hospitals, fever clinics and isolation facilities, has increased 4.5 times to 1,400 tons a day in Shanghai from 308 tons before the current outbreak began in March. The city of 25 million residents has been in lockdown for five weeks, and daily household waste related to Covid reached 3,300 tons this month, compared with only 73 tons a day in February, according to People’s Daily.
14th May 2022 - Bloomberg

North Korea's Kim says COVID 'great turmoil', 21 new deaths reported

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said on Saturday the spread of COVID-19 had thrust his country into "great turmoil" and called for an all-out battle to overcome the outbreak, as 21 daily deaths were reported among people with fever. North Korea this week acknowledged for the first time a COVID outbreak, imposing a nationwide lockdown. But there was no sign of a rigorous testing or treatment campaign in the isolated country's rudimentary healthcare system. "The spread of the malignant epidemic is a great turmoil to fall on our country since the founding," Kim told an emergency meeting of the ruling Workers' Party, according to state news agency KCNA.
14th May 2022 - Reuters

S.Korea's Yoon pledges $300 million to global COVID response initiative

South Korea's new President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged on Thursday to provide an additional $300 million won to a global initiative to fund COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines for poorer countries. Yoon made the announcement in his speech to a second global COVID-19 summit, held virtually, aimed at facilitating efforts to end the pandemic and prepare for future health threats. His funding pledge would bring South Korea's total donations to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups, to $510 million.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Biden marks one million U.S. COVID deaths after losing political battles

President Joe Biden on Thursday commemorated the COVID-19 deaths of 1 million people in the United States, marking what he called "a tragic milestone" and urging Americans to "remain vigilant" during the ongoing pandemic. In a statement, Biden acknowledged the impact of the deaths on families left behind and urged the country not to "grow numb to such sorrow." The United States on Wednesday reached more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to a Reuters tally, crossing a once-unthinkable milestone about two years after the first cases upended everyday life.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

'Not free from COVID': Thousands pray at Portuguese shrine despite fears of new wave

Last year, only 7,500 were allowed inside the sanctuary and people had to stand in circles to maintain social distancing. For many, it was a special moment to see the sanctuary finally opening doors to a big crowd after the vast majority of COVID-19 rules were lifted last month. But, as daily infections rise again, Teresa Maria decided to keep her mask on. "I always try to take precautions," she said as she waited for the farewell procession, one of the highlights of the event, to begin. "We are not free from it because cases are going up."
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Shanghai Lays Out Covid-19 Reopening Plan as China Cancels 2023 Soccer Tournament

Shanghai officials outlined plans for a phased reopening of shopping malls, supermarkets and other businesses, even as many residents in China’s financial hub remained confined to their locked-down homes. Chen Tong, Shanghai’s deputy mayor, said Sunday that the city would begin allowing businesses to open on a limited basis starting Monday as daily Covid-19 infection cases continue to decline nearly two months into a hard lockdown of the city of 25 million people. Mr. Chen characterized the city’s approach to the pandemic as entering a new transition phase, “from emergency response to normalized prevention and control.” On Sunday, Shanghai health authorities reported roughly 1,200 new Covid cases for the previous day, from a high of more than 20,000 last month. Daily infection counts have been below 5,000 for nearly two weeks.
13th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th May 2022

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Biden Calls for Renewed Efforts to Bolster Fight Against Covid-19

Article reports that President Biden is seeking to bolster the U.S. role in the world-wide fight against Covid-19, pledging to share vaccine patents and urging world leaders to redouble their efforts to thwart the virus. “We have to start working to prevent the next variant and the next pandemic now,” Mr. Biden said Thursday at the second virtual Covid-19 Summit, held as the U.S. approaches the milestone of 1 million Covid-19 deaths. “That’s going to require all of us to do more.” Heads of state and organizations convened at the Summit to accelerate efforts to get people vaccinated, enhance access to tests and treatments, and finance and build health security against future pandemics and other health crises. The Summit secured more than $3 billion from countries and philanthropies for Covid-19 relief efforts.
13th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Biden marks 1 million Americans dead from COVID

President Joe Biden on Thursday commemorated the COVID-19 deaths of 1 million people in the United States, marking what he called "a tragic milestone" and urging Americans to "remain vigilant" during the ongoing pandemic. In a statement, Biden acknowledged the impact of the deaths on families left behind and urged the country not to "grow numb to such sorrow." The United States on Wednesday reached more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to a Reuters tally, crossing a once-unthinkable milestone about two years after the first cases upended everyday life.
12th May 2022 - Reuters

Biden urges world to renew COVID fight as US nears 1M deaths

President Joe Biden appealed to world leaders at a COVID-19 summit Thursday to reenergize a lagging international commitment to attacking the virus as he led the U.S. in marking the “tragic milestone” of 1 million deaths in America. He ordered flags lowered to half-staff and warned against complacency around the globe. “This pandemic isn’t over,” Biden declared at the second global pandemic summit. He spoke solemnly of the once-unthinkable U.S. toll: “1 million empty chairs around the family dinner table.” The coronavirus has killed more than 999,000 people in the U.S. and at least 6.2 million people globally since it emerged in late 2019, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
12th May 2022 - Associated Press

Covid-19 deaths in the United States: Reinforcing the notion of ‘two Americas’

The notion of Covid-19 causing two Americas was on many minds in the summer of 2021. The Washington Post and LA Times both wrote about it; Dr. Anthony Fauci mentioned it in an interview. One America had high demand for Covid-19 vaccines, the other had widespread vaccine hesitancy and opposition to mask and vaccine mandates. This narrative helped shape the understanding of what happened as well as what the country should be doing now to control the pandemic. But Covid has been dividing the nation since the start of the pandemic. Our recent analysis of Covid-19 deaths by region, published in PLoS One, supports the two Americas idea.
12th May 2022 - STAT News

U.S. will share COVID-19 vaccine technology, Biden tells global summit,

The United States will share technologies used to make COVID-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization and is working to expand rapid testing and antiviral treatments for hard-to-reach populations, President Joe Biden said on Thursday. Speaking at the second global COVID-19 summit, Biden called on Congress to provide additional funds so that the U.S. may contribute more to the global pandemic response. "We are making available health technologies that are owned by the United States government, including stabilized spike protein that is used in many COVID-19 vaccines," Biden said in his opening speech.
12th May 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th May 2022

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Shanghai Covid Spread Damps Prospect of Easing China Lockdown Curbs

Shanghai continued to find Covid-19 cases in the community Wednesday, damping prospects for an easing of a punishing lockdown that has hampered business activity and confined millions of people to their homes for more than a month. Shanghai reported a total of 1,449 new Covid cases for Wednesday, down slightly from 1,487 on Tuesday. While the daily total has steadily fallen, two cases were found in the community Wednesday, CCTV reported, after none were detected on Tuesday. Shanghai officials have said that three days of zero community transmission is required before they can start to ease restrictions.
12th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Western Australia records more than 17,000 new COVID-19 cases, sparking fears for hospitals

Western Australia has experienced an explosion of COVID-19, recording 17,033 new daily cases — the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. Medical experts are concerned the already stressed health system is in danger of being overrun over the next week, saying it would be "unforgiveable" not to reintroduce restrictions. The state's latest coronavirus figures are higher than any other state or territory at the moment.
12th May 2022 - 9News

Half of Covid-hospitalised still symptomatic two years on, study finds

More than half of people hospitalised with Covid-19 still have at least one symptom two years after they were first infected, according to the longest follow-up study of its kind. While physical and mental health generally improve over time, the analysis suggests that coronavirus patients discharged from hospital still tend to experience poorer health and quality of life than the general population. The research was published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine. “Our findings indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalised Covid-19 survivors, while they may have cleared the initial infection, more than two years is needed to recover fully,” said the lead author, Prof Bin Cao, of the in China.
12th May 2022 - The Guardian

Failure to address a global surplus of COVID vaccines raises the risk of new variants emerging, health experts warn

The world finds itself awash in COVID-19 vaccines, but governments can’t get them into arms fast enough, as hesitancy and logistical hurdles threaten to indefinitely extend the pandemic. Advocates for widespread inoculation say participants at the second global COVID-19 summit need to come up with a plan to shift focus from producing vaccines to administering shots. They warn that failure raises the risk of new variants arising, potentially with the ability to evade vaccine immunity and spark yet another wave of infections and deaths.
11th May 2022 - Fortune

China Censors WHO Chief’s Call to End Covid-19 Strategy Dubbed Unsustainable

China’s censors blocked rare public criticism of its zero-Covid strategy by the World Health Organization from social media Wednesday, as officials in Shanghai insisted there would be no change to policies that have locked tens of millions of people in their homes for weeks. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said China’s inflexible approach to Covid-19 needs to adapt to the evolving nature of the virus.
11th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China CPI Exceeds Forecasts as Covid Lockdowns Roil Supplies

China’s factory and consumer prices rose faster than expected in April as Covid lockdowns battered supply chains and pushed people to stockpile food. The producer price index rose 8% from a year earlier compared to 8.3% in March, official data showed Wednesday, above the median estimate of a 7.8% increase in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Consumer-price growth accelerated to 2.1% from 1.5% in the previous month, faster than a projected 1.8% gain.
11th May 2022 - Bloomberg

China Risks 1.6 Million Deaths in Virus 'Tsunami' If Covid Zero Is Abandoned: Study

China risks a “tsunami” of coronavirus infections resulting in 1.6 million deaths if the government abandons its long-held Covid Zero policy and allows the highly-infectious omicron variant to spread unchecked, according to researchers at Shanghai’s Fudan University. The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, found that the level of immunity induced by China’s March vaccination campaign would be “insufficient” to prevent an omicron wave that would swamp intensive care capacity, given low vaccine rates among the elderly and the virus’s ability to evade immunity from existing shots.
11th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Tourists return to Paris post-pandemic but Asians, Americans stay away

The Paris tourist office is forecasting that foreign visits will increase more than five-fold in May-July compared to the same period last year, mainly thanks to tourists from Spain, Germany, Britain and Italy. That will, however, still be a third less than pre-pandemic levels, partly because U.S. and Asian tourists are not expected to be back in large numbers yet.
11th May 2022 - Reuters

EU lifts mask requirement for air travel as pandemic ebbs

The European Union will no longer require masks to be worn at airports and on planes starting next week amid the easing of coronavirus restrictions across the bloc, authorities said Wednesday. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it hoped the joint decision, made with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, would mark “a big step forward in the normalization of air travel” for passengers and crews. The new guideline “takes account of the latest developments in the pandemic, in particular the levels of vaccination and naturally acquired immunity, and the accompanying lifting of restrictions in a growing number of European countries,” the two agencies said
11th May 2022 - Associated Press

Untapped Global Vaccine Stash Raises Risks of New Covid Variants

The world finds itself awash in Covid-19 vaccines, but governments can’t get them into arms fast enough, as hesitancy and logistical hurdles threaten to indefinitely extend the pandemic. Shots that were once rare are now piling up and even expiring, a problem on the agenda of a second global Covid-19 summit the US is co-hosting on Thursday. President Joe Biden kicked off the first summit eight months ago by announcing the US would donate another 500 million doses to the international vaccination campaign, nearly doubling its total pledge. But now, vaccine makers are idling production or face shutdowns as demand for shots wanes, even with the world still far from a target of inoculating 70% of humanity. Republicans in Congress have so far blocked additional funding for the US and international vaccination campaigns.
11th May 2022 - Bloomberg


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th May 2022

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Shanghai's Covid Lockdown Leaves Thousands Sleeping in Its Streets

Shanghai’s lockdown has kept tens of millions of residents trapped indoors for a month and a half. Thousands of others in China’s wealthiest city have found themselves in the opposite predicament: living in the street. Victims of the same strict Covid-19 rules that are keeping most residents homebound, many of the newly homeless are migrant laborers from rural areas and smaller cities who often live hand-to-mouth while sharing an apartment with other workers. For many, the companies they work for have closed down in the lockdown, including boarding up worker dormitories. Some have chosen to join the tens of thousands who zip around Shanghai on bikes or scooters for food-delivery platforms like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Ele.me and Meituan’s namesake service. But with the income comes the stigma of a higher Covid risk. While the Shanghai government has granted special lockdown exemption for food-delivery workers, residential compounds have their own rules barring them from returning to their apartments for fear they will bring the virus back with them.
11th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

WHO offers rare criticism for China's steadfast and strict COVID-19 measures

The head of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday China's zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy is not sustainable given what is known of the disease, in rare public comments by the United Nations agency on a government's handling of the virus. "We don't think that it is sustainable considering the behaviour of the virus," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing. Speaking after Tedros, WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said the impact of a "zero-COVID" policy on human rights also needs to be taken into consideration alongside the effect on a country's economy. He also noted that China has registered 15,000 deaths since the virus first emerged in the city of Wuhan in late 2019 — a relatively low number compared with 999,475 in the United States and more than 500,000 in India.
11th May 2022 - CBC.ca

Employers requiring job applicants to have a Covid-19 vaccine is declining, study finds

The share of job ads that require candidates to have a Covid-19 vaccine seems to be on the decline. About 6.7% of U.S. job listings cited vaccination as a necessity for applicants as of April 29, according to a new analysis by AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed, a job site. The share has slowly fallen since March 12, when it touched a pandemic-era peak of 7.1%.
10th May 2022 - CNBC

U.S. will limit next-generation Covid vaccines to high-risk people this fall if Congress doesn't approve more funding

The U.S. will have to limit the next generation of Covid vaccines this fall to individuals at the highest risk of getting seriously sick from the virus if Congress fails to approve funding to purchase the new shots, according to a senior Biden administration official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, warned the U.S. faces a substantial surge of Covid infections this fall as immunity from the current vaccines wanes and the omicron variant mutates into more transmissible subvariants. The U.S. needs more money for next-generation vaccines, therapeutics and tests to prevent infections from turning into hospitalizations and deaths, the official said.
10th May 2022 - CNBC

Why a Covid Vaccine Mandate for N.Y.C. Schoolchildren Is Unlikely Soon

Teachers at New York City public schools are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Children involved in after-school activities that have a higher risk of spreading the virus — including many sports, as well as chorus and band — must be vaccinated, too. But while New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul have both said they support making Covid vaccination for all public school children mandatory, that does not necessarily mean it is happening soon. Momentum on the issue, both in New York and across the country, has stalled, lawmakers and experts say. In part, this is because the F.D.A. has not yet granted full approval to a Covid-19 vaccine for children under 16. Another problem is the disappointing efficacy of the current Pfizer vaccine against preventing infection in children under 12. (The F.D.A. has granted emergency authorization for children 5 to 16.)
10th May 2022 - The New York Times

For widows in Africa, COVID-19 stole husbands, homes, future

Across Africa, widowhood has long befallen great numbers of women — particularly in the continent's least developed countries where medical facilities are scarce. Many widows are young, having married men decades older. And in some countries, men frequently have more than one wife, leaving several widows behind when they die. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has created an even larger population of widows on the continent, with African men far more likely to die of the virus than women, and it has exacerbated the issues they face. Women say the pandemic has taken more than their husbands: In their widowhood, it’s cost them their extended families, their homes and their futures.
10th May 2022 - ABC News

Norway discards COVID-19 vaccines as supplies exceed demand

Norwegian health authorities said Tuesday that the country has a surplus of COVID-19 vaccines and has already discarded more than 137,000 doses because there is declining demand in low-income countries. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it plans a further disposal of doses if global demand does not change. In Norway there is high vaccine coverage while globally a demand for donations has fallen.
10th May 2022 - ABC News

Pandemic gets tougher to track as COVID testing plunges

Testing for COVID-19 has plummeted across the globe, making it much tougher for scientists to track the course of the pandemic and spot new, worrisome viral mutants as they emerge and spread. Experts say testing has dropped by 70 to 90% worldwide from the first to the second quarter of this year — the opposite of what they say should be happening with new omicron variants on the rise in places such as the United States and South Africa. “We’re not testing anywhere near where we might need to,” said Dr. Krishna Udayakumar, who directs the Duke Global Health Innovation Center at Duke University. “We need the ability to ramp up testing as we’re seeing the emergence of new waves or surges to track what’s happening” and respond.
10th May 2022 - Associated Press

China Risks 1.6 Million Deaths in Virus 'Tsunami' If Covid Zero Is Abandoned

China risks a “tsunami” of coronavirus infections resulting in 1.6 million deaths if the government abandons its long-held Covid Zero policy and allows the highly-infectious omicron variant to spread unchecked, according to researchers at Shanghai’s Fudan University. The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Nature, found that the level of immunity induced by China’s March vaccination campaign would be “insufficient” to prevent an omicron wave that would swamp intensive care capacity, given low vaccine rates among the elderly and the nation’s reliance on less effective, domestic shots.
10th May 2022 - Bloomberg


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th May 2022

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BioNTech posts tripled Q1 vaccine sales but still flags full-year decline

BioNTech's first-quarter sales and earnings more than tripled thanks to demand for the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with Pfizer, but the German biotech firm is still forecasting a full-year decline in vaccine sales. "As a result of an increased order volume initially placed in late 2021 following the then-emerging Omicron variant, we began the year 2022 with strong revenues and earnings, leaving us well-positioned to achieve the 2022 financial guidance," finance chief Jens Holstein said. BioNTech stood by its 2022 vaccine revenue guidance of 13 to 17 billion euros, down from 19 billion last year, implying a decline during the rest of the year. Quarterly revenues more than tripled from a year earlier to 6.37 billion euros ($6.73 billion), as did net income, to 3.70 billion euros, the company said on Monday.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

COVID vaccine makers shift focus to boosters

COVID-19 vaccine makers are shifting gears and planning for a smaller, more competitive booster shot market after delivering as many doses as fast as they could over the last 18 months. Executives at the biggest COVID vaccine makers including Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc said they believe most people who wanted to get vaccinated against COVID have already done so - more than 5 billion people worldwide. In the coming year, most COVID vaccinations will be booster shots, or first inoculations for children, which are still gaining regulatory approvals around the world, they said.
9th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid: Learning to live with the virus in the UK

The latest survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a continued fall in Covid 19 infections from a recent peak in April in the UK. The arrival of summer means more people will congregate outdoors at lower risk to themselves. But the return of people from holidays to work and study after summer holidays, and the onset of cooler autumnal weather could create conditions for another uptick in infections. More immediately, new strains of the Omicron variant could cause problems. The BA.2 version has proved more transmissible than BA.1.
9th May 2022 - BBC News

Affordable Covid drugs kept out of reach by sluggish WTO

There is still a long way to go before South Africa and other developing countries can manufacture Covid vaccines and treatments quickly and without paying the huge charges demanded by the big US and European drug companies. Last week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that the 180-member trade forum had taken a step towards a patent waiver that would allow developing countries to make the drugs they need – including vaccines, tests, and treatments – for as long as five years, without payments to pharma giants such as Pfizer. The EU, India, South Africa and the US, known as the Quad, claimed to have come to an agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (Trips) waiver proposal, with China also expected to vote in favour.
9th May 2022 - The Guardian

Once a zero-Covid poster child, Taiwan learns to live with the virus

Once a poster child for the success of zero-Covid, Taiwan is now dealing with an “Omicron tsunami”. In response – and in stark contrast to regional neighbours – health authorities have decided zero-Covid is no match for the new variant and have flipped the switch to “living with the virus”. “It is the right decision, and it’s also the decision we had to make,” says Dr Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s former vice-president and professor of epidemiology. Taiwan closed itself off in early 2020, and employed a regime of stringent contact tracing, social restrictions and personal hygiene measures which it kept even as vaccines and antivirals were developed. It defeated an outbreak of the Alpha strain and another of Delta in 2021. But after the highly virulent Omicron began affecting countries in November and December, Chen says he and other scholars advised the government to start shifting towards living with the virus.
9th May 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19 guidance changes announced for universities and colleges

The Welsh Government has formally removed the Infection Control Framework for Higher and Further Education institutions from today. The change will bring higher and further education into line with the wider public health guidance followed by businesses, employers and event organisers. The advice covers control measures that could be implemented to reduce the risk of transmission of the most common communicable diseases, including Coronavirus, flu and norovirus.
9th May 2022 - Wales 247

Laos reopens to tourists and other visitors from abroad

The landlocked Southeast Asian nation of Laos reopened to tourists and other visitors on Monday, more than two years after it imposed tight restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, head of the government’s agency for controlling COVID-19, announced on Saturday the reopening date, the last in a three-phase plan, state news agency KPL reported. She said vaccination certificates or virus tests will still be required for Lao citizens and foreigners entering the country.
9th May 2022 - Associated Press

US lobby fears 'exodus' of foreign staff in China due to COVID measures

American businesses are struggling to persuade overseas staff to join them in China due to the country's strict COVID-19 control measures and ongoing lockdowns, the American Chamber of Commerce in China said on Monday. In a survey of 121 members, 49% said foreign workers are either significantly less likely to - or are refusing to - move to China because of COVID-related policies, with 82% singling out uncertainty over how long quarantine and lockdown times will last as the main reason.
9th May 2022 - Reuters


Lockdown Exit - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th May 2022

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