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Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Sep 2022

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COVID-19 cases rise in England and Wales for first time in two months

COVID cases in England and Wales have risen for the first time in two months - marking an end to a steady fall since early July. The increase means the total number of infections in the UK has also gone up, but levels are estimated to have fallen in Scotland and Northern Ireland. About 927,900 people in private households across the country are likely to have tested positive for coronavirus in the week ending 14 September, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). That is up 5% from 881,200 for the week before
24th Sep 2022 - Sky News

PM agrees to lift pandemic border measures, source says

The federal government has decided to drop the vaccination requirement for people entering Canada, end random COVID-19 testing at airports and make the use of the ArriveCan app optional by the end of this month, a senior government source told CBC News. Earlier this week, sources told CBC that Ottawa was leaning toward ending the measures but a final decision hadn't been made because it was awaiting the approval of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The current COVID-19 Emergency Order-in-Council relating to border measures was set to expire on Sept. 30. The government had the option of extending the measures. The government is expected to make an official announcement on Monday, the source said.
24th Sep 2022 - CBC News

Fraudsters likely stole $45.6 billion from U.S. COVID unemployment insurance program

Fraudsters likely stole $45.6 billion from the United States' unemployment insurance program during the COVID-19 pandemic by applying tactics like using Social Security numbers of deceased individuals, a federal watchdog said on Thursday.
23rd Sep 2022 - Reuters

Danish queen tests positive for Covid day after Queen Elizabeth II's funeral

Queen Margrethe II has cancelled her appointments for this week after the diagnosis on Tuesday evening. The 82-year-old monarch was one of 2,000 guests who attended Queen Elizabeth II's state funeral on Monday.
22nd Sep 2022 - BBC News

Beijing’s Zero-COVID Policy Draws New Anger After Fatal Bus Crash

Commenters in China’s tightly controlled online communities are raising an angry howl at what they see as the latest outrage stemming from President Xi Jinping’s draconian zero-COVID policy. After at least 27 people died when a bus in southwest China’s Guizhou Province crashed while transporting them to a coronavirus quarantine facility, online comments revealed the magnitude of frustration of ordinary citizens enduring a policy that forces them into lengthy lockdowns and daily testing in the effort to contain COVID.
21st Sep 2022 - Voice of America

What Good Leadership Looks Like Now vs. Pre-Covid

Just as in the first study, among the 20 traits that Korn Ferry tested, “tolerance of ambiguity” had the strongest positive correlation this time with the Drucker Institute’s best-scoring companies. “Trust,” “risk-taking” and adaptability” all remained in the top five, as well. Given how deep-seated traits tend to be, this isn’t surprising. “It’s not that leaders have changed their spots,” says Stephen Lams, the vice president of data and analytics at the Korn Ferry Institute.
19th Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Sep 2022

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Jacinda Ardern's Feted Covid Response Could Yet Be Her Undoing

The pandemic response that swept Jacinda Ardern to a second term as New Zealand’s prime minister may end up costing her a third. Ardern this week scrapped what was left of the rules she deployed to battle Covid-19, bringing an end to two-and-a-half years of tough restrictions that initially served the country well. But their removal hasn’t come soon enough for some voters, who have grown tired of controls on daily life and are deserting Ardern’s Labour Party ahead of the 2023 general election. An economic slowdown also looms next year as the full impact of pandemic measures such as the closed border plays out.
18th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

The Truth About Those Viral Tweets Questioning the Omicron Boosters' Safety

So far, enthusiasm for the Omicron-specific Covid boosters is just so-so. In a University of Michigan poll conducted last month among adults over age 50, just 61 percent of those surveyed said they were “very likely” to get the new booster this fall, and 23 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 said they were “not likely” to get it. There are likely many reasons for this tepid reception, including the fact that many people have recently recovered from Covid and are waiting a few months before getting boosted in order to optimize protection. But there’s another factor, too—one that we’ve seen before. Influential physicians who have opposed Covid protections since the beginning of the pandemic continue to downplay the effectiveness of vaccines.
17th Sep 2022 - Mother Jones

'Untrustworthy and ineffective': Panel blasts governments' covid response

In a 45-page editorial, the Lancet Covid-19 Commission warned that many governments proved “untrustworthy and ineffective” as the pandemic tore across the world, citing examples such as richer nations hoarding vaccine doses and failing to fund global response efforts, and politicians such as former U.S. president Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro playing down the virus’s risks, even as hundreds of thousands of their citizens died of it. “What we saw — rather than a cooperative global strategy — was basically each country on its own,” Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University economist who chaired the commission, told reporters in a briefing convened by the respected medical journal.
15th Sep 2022 - The Washington Post

Members of New York Times, NBC News Digital Unions Defy Return-to-Office Plans

Some union members of the New York Times and NBC News’s digital properties vowed not to come to the office this week and instead work remotely, defying their respective employers’ back-to-the-office plans. Starting this week, the Times and NBC News expect employees to return to the office at least part of the week, both news organizations have told staff in recent memos. The Times union on Sunday said it has more than 1,280 signatures from members pledging to stay home, some of which come from a coordinated effort with the Times’s tech and Wirecutter unions. The three Times unions collectively have around 2,000 members. A Times spokeswoman said the news organization believes a hybrid work environment best suits the New York Times at this moment. She also said a collaborative work environment is a driver of success.
13th Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Sep 2022

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Anger at plans to roll back Covid vaccines to under-11s in England

The decision to reduce the number of children who are offered Covid jabs has prompted outcry from parent groups and academics. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said children who had not turned five by the end of last month would not be offered a vaccination, in line with advice published by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in February 2022. UKHSA said the offer of Covid jabs to healthy five to 11-year-olds was always meant to be temporary. UKHSA’s Green Book, which provides information on the vaccine rollout for public health professionals, states: “This one-off programme applies to those aged 5 to 11 years, including those who turn five years of age before the end of August 2022.
10th Sep 2022 - The Guardian

New York Governor Lifts Mask Mandate for NYC Subways

New York Governor Kathy Hochul lifted the state’s mask requirement for public transit, removing one of the last remaining government mandates of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hochul announced the decision on Wednesday after months of confusion among commuters befuddled by varying national, state and local rules on where face coverings are required. Covid numbers are stable, putting the state “in a good place now,” she said. “We haven’t seen any spikes, and also people are getting back to work, back to school,” Hochul said during a press conference at a health center in New York City, shortly before receiving her omicron-targeted booster that’s being made available this week. “We have to restore some normalcy to our lives.”
8th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

How Pfizer and BioNTech Modified Covid-19 Vaccines for Fall Boosters

Before new versions of the Omicron strain took hold in the U.S., Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE had begun tinkering with their widely used Covid-19 vaccine. In May, researchers tracking how coronavirus strains behave saw the potential for Omicron subvariants to predominate. Just in case, the companies started building blueprints of shots reformulated to target BA.4, BA.5 and other substrains, and laid the groundwork for testing them. The preparations proved prescient, a big reason, along with manufacturing enhancements, that tens of millions of doses of Pfizer-BioNTech boosters modified to target BA.4 and BA.5 are now rolling out. “If we’re going to be ready for the disease and its migration, I don’t have the time to wait,” said Mike McDermott, Pfizer’s chief global supply officer.
5th Sep 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Boris Johnson's Father Halts Xinjiang Trip After Covid Lockdown

Stanley Johnson, the father of the UK’s outgoing prime minister, has left China after being caught in a Covid lockdown that spoiled his plans to shoot a travel film in Xinjiang, where London has accused Beijing of widespread rights abuses. The former Conservative member of the European Parliament, who has pushed for closer ties between the UK and China, was in quarantine in the megacity of Chengdu when it went into lockdown last week. His youngest child, Max, who studied for an MBA at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University and had been due to accompany his father to Xinjiang, told Bloomberg News that Johnson had “left for the UK.”
5th Sep 2022 - Bloomberg

UK has classified $1.3 bln of COVID 'bounce back' loans as suspected fraud -source

The British government is set to release data showing around 1.1 billion pounds of small business loans ($1.27 billion) made under a COVID-19 emergency lending scheme has already been classified as suspected fraud, a source told Reuters.
2nd Sep 2022 - Reuters UK


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Sep 2022

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North Korea repression grows with anti-Covid measures: UN

Human rights violations in North Korea have increased further due to the reclusive country’s “harsh” anti-Covid measures, the UN chief said in a report that warns the situation could be referred to the International Criminal Court. “Information received confirmed that the State had further increased its repression of the rights and freedoms of the people” of North Korea, and that the downturn “occurred in the context of the maintenance and subsequent increase of strict Covid-19 restrictions,” United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres wrote in the assessment released this week.
4th Sep 2022 - Thai PBS World

Viral claims are blaming a surge in excess deaths in Europe on vaccines. But experts say that's not the case

This week, CheckMate investigates whether excess deaths among children have increased by more than 1,000 per cent in Europe, which some have linked to COVID-19 vaccines. We also debunk claims that AstraZeneca's vaccine causes monkeypox, and ask: is there really ‘no one in the world’ making electric utes?
2nd Sep 2022 - ABC News

Covid boosters: surge of dangerous vaccine misinformation emerges online ahead of new jab programme

Anti-vaxxers are ramping up up their campaigns of misinformation as medics prepare to launch the autumn booster jabs against covid. Pregnant women and the overall safety of two of the most common jabs have already been targeted in recent days and experts expect further misinformation to be posted on social media through the autumn. The authors of a paper published this week in the journal Vaccine claim that the risk of serious adverse events following a Pfizer or Moderna jab, compared to those in a placebo group, “points to the need for formal harm-benefit analyses”.
2nd Sep 2022 - iNews


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 2nd Sep 2022

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Covid: Pregnant women targeted with false vaccine claims

Inaccurate messages shared by thousands claimed that pregnant or breastfeeding women were now recommended not to take the vaccine. In fact, the NHS says the vaccine is both safe and strongly recommended for this group.
1st Sep 2022 - BBC News

UK's COVID-19 inquiry starts work – EURACTIV.com

The public inquiry into the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has started its work in a process that will lead to key government ministers, officials and scientific advisors giving evidence in public. The inquiry will begin to take evidence from witnesses, which are likely to include former health minister Matt Hancock and outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, early next year, The latest stage of the inquiry’s investigations, known as Module 2, will focus on decisions and announcements made by the UK government between early January and late March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. The Johnson government earned a mixed report card during the pandemic. After being slow to introduce lockdown measures to curb the spread of the first wave of the virus and struggling with shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment, leading to one of Europe’s highest death tolls, the government then earned praise for the speed of its vaccine rollout programme.
1st Sep 2022 - EURACTIV

Covid inquiry 'must spend significant time examining lockdown impact on children'

The Covid inquiry has failed to confirm whether it will examine the closure of schools when it considers the decisions taken by the Government in the early stages of the pandemic. On Wednesday, the inquiry opened its second phase of investigations, which will explore decisions taken by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, as well as the advice from officials and experts. There will be a particular focus on the first months of 2020 until the first lockdown was imposed in late March. It will later examine decisions taken throughout 2020 until Feb 2022. In a document setting out the provisional scope for module two, the inquiry said it will examine the Government's initial strategies for community testing. It will also look at the decisions behind national lockdowns, local and regional restrictions, circuit breakers, social distancing, working from home and the use of face masks.
1st Sep 2022 - The Daily Telegraph on MSN.com


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Sep 2022

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COVID-19 vaccine opponents slapped with $214,000 in legal costs after failed lawsuit

In dismissing the case in June, Justice Debra Mortimer said it had many flaws. “Their case is a general attack on the government response across Australia to the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of a vaccination program,” she said. “In a likely complex and resource-intensive case such as this, the court must be able to identify the material facts pleaded to support the allegation, or some probative basis in the primary material for the contentions. “Counsel for the applicants did not even attempt to point the court towards one.”
31st Aug 2022 - 7NEWS

Covid-19 inquiry to examine NI Executive's response to pandemic

Article reports that the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has begun examining the Northern Ireland Executive's decision-making in response to the Covid-19 pandemic between early January 2020 and May 2022. It will examine the decision-making of key groups and individuals within the government in Northern Ireland. This will include the first and deputy first ministers and other ministers. Particular attention will be paid to early January 2020 and the start of the first national lockdown in March A preliminary hearing will be held in the autumn.
31st Aug 2022 - BBC News

China's factory activity extends declines as heat, COVID hit output

China's factory activity extended declines in August as new COVID infections, the worst heatwaves in decades and an embattled property sector weighed on production, suggesting the economy will struggle to sustain momentum. The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 49.4 in August from 49.0 in July, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Wednesday. While the PMI slightly beat expectations for 49.2 in a Reuters poll of analysts, it remained below the 50-point mark that separates contraction from growth for the second straight month, suggesting protracted weakness in the sector.
31st Aug 2022 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 31st Aug 2022

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Low vaccine booster rates are now a key factor in COVID-19 deaths – and racial disparities in booster rates persist

Article reports that more than 450 people are dying of COVID-19 in the U.S. each day as of late August 2022. When COVID-19 vaccines first became available, public officials, community organizations and policymakers mobilized to get shots into arms. These efforts included significant investments in making vaccines accessible to Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native populations. These groups experienced exceptionally high COVID-19 death rates early in the pandemic and had low initial vaccine rates. The efforts worked. As of August 2022, vaccination rates for the primary series – or required initial doses of COVID-19 vaccines – for Black and Hispanic people exceeded those of white Americans.
30th Aug 2022 - The Conversation

‘American rebellion’: the lockdown protests that paved the way for the Capitol riots

It started in Michigan. On 15 April 2020, thousands of vehicles convoyed to Lansing and clogged the streets surrounding the state capitol for a protest that had been advertised as “Operation Gridlock”. Drivers leaned on their horns, men with guns got out and walked. Signs warned of revolt. Someone waved an upside-down American flag. Already – nine months before 6 January, seven months before the election, six weeks before a national uprising for police accountability and racial justice – there were a lot of them, and they were angry.
30th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Supreme Court Justice Rejects NYPD Detective on Vaccine Mandate

US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected a bid by a New York police detective to block the city’s requirement that employees be vaccinated against Covid-19. Sotomayor made no comment, denying the emergency request from Anthony Marciano without asking the city to file a brief in response. Sotomayor is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters from New York. New York in February fired more than 1,400 municipal workers for not getting vaccinated. Thousands of other employees have filed for religious or medical accommodations. Marciano said in court papers that the city denied his bid for a religious exemption and that he expects officials to reject his appeal as well.
30th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th Aug 2022

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Top Thai Hospital Bets on Tourists to Counter Covid Revenue Dip

Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Pcl, Thailand’s biggest private hospital operator, expects a rebound in international patient arrivals to make up for an expected decline in revenue from Covid-19 treatment and services. Foreign patients seeking treatment at Bangkok Dusit’s 53 hospitals in the Thai capital and other tourist hotspots have reached about 90% of the pre-pandemic level, Chief Executive Officer Poramaporn Prasarttong-Osoth said. The recovery in fly-in patients are led by those from the Middle East, Australia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. But a slower-than-expected return of European tourists may still weigh on earnings in the second half, especially of hospitals in places such as Phuket, Koh Samui and Pattaya as they serve visitors from the region, she said.
28th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

China’s Industrial Profit Falls on Covid-19 Measures, Bad Weather

China’s industrial profit dropped in the first seven months of the year, reversing a year-on-year increase in the first half of the year, as sporadic Covid-19 outbreaks and bad weather weighed on the world’s second-largest economy. Industrial profit dropped 1.1% from a year earlier in the January-to-July period, offsetting a 1% increase reported in the first half of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics said Saturday. A record heat wave and drought cut into China’s industrial production, and Beijing recently unveiled tens of billions in economic support for power generation and agriculture.
27th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Biden Team Aims for Omicron-Targeted Shots in Arms by Labor Day

The Biden administration plans to begin offering next-generation Covid-19 booster shots as soon as the Labor Day weekend, according to people familiar with the matter, aiming to stave off a fall surge in cases of the disease. Food and Drug Administration regulators are expected to clear the use of Covid-19 vaccines reformulated for omicron variants next week, the people said. They asked not to be identified ahead of an official announcement.
27th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

The Long Tail of Covid-19 Disinformation

“Two shots, three shots, four shots, five — how many shots will you survive?” Every Saturday afternoon, protesters collect outside Parliament House in Melbourne, then stream down through the city center toward the waterfront. In November, when I moved to the city, those protesters were a tsunami of frustration and anger. They closed off streets and disrupted public transportation, the chants of thousands echoing off the glass-and-stone skyscrapers. These days, the protests are more of a trickle — a few hundred people most weeks, railing against scientific consensus, Covid-19 vaccines and restrictions, the media and the government, among other institutions.
27th Aug 2022 - The New York Times

Three-quarters don’t believe COVID cases will rise

More than three-quarters of Australians expect COVID-19 cases to drop or stay stable, suggesting that the country is getting less spooked by the pandemic.Only 7 per cent of Australians expect COVID numbers to increase in the coming months, down from 20 per cent in the same survey in March.
27th Aug 2022 - Sydney Morning Herald

SEC fines top medical group chief over 2 million baht for 'false' vaccine claims

Dr Boon Vanasin, chairman of Thonburi Healthcare Group (THG), was slapped with a 2.34 million baht fine for allegedly releasing a false statement that could affect THG’s share price or investment decisions. SEC fines top medical group chief over 2 million baht for ‘false’ vaccine claims. Apart from hitting him with a fine, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also banned Boon from sitting on boards of listed companies for three and half years. SEC said that from July 12 to August 4, 2021, Boon had released statements through several media outlets saying that THG had purchased the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and that the first lot of 5 million doses were to be delivered within July 2021.
27th Aug 2022 - Nation Thailand

Conservative party hustings: Covid lockdown went too far say Truss and Sunak – video

Liz Truss joined Rishi Sunak, her rival in the Tory leadership contest, in saying the Covid lockdown was too strict when both candidates said school closures during the peak of the pandemic were wrong. At the eleventh of 12 hustings in Norwich, Sunak and Truss talked out policies they would implement on policing and the NHS if they became prime minister
26th Aug 2022 - The Guardian


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Aug 2022

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Novak Djokovic Will Miss U.S. Open Due to Federal Vaccination Policy

Novak Djokovic spent his summer closely monitoring news about restrictions related to the U.S. border. His hope was that the country might relax certain rules about admitting non-citizens unvaccinated against Covid-19 in time for him to play at the U.S. Open. But on Thursday, Djokovic’s time ran out. Three days before play is due to start, he said that he would not be flying to New York. Though the 21-time Grand Slam champion skipping the U.S. Open will change the complexion of the tournament, Djokovic’s withdrawal hardly came as a surprise. Even he had been pessimistic about his chances.
25th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

House panel: Trump sought to pressure FDA on covid vaccines, treatment

Trump officials repeatedly stalled the Food and Drug Administration’s plan to extend safety studies of coronavirus vaccines in fall 2020, as President Donald Trump pressed the agency for a faster timeline so the vaccines could be authorized before Election Day, according to emails, text messages and interviews by a congressional panel probing the pandemic response. White House officials such as trade adviser Peter Navarro and outside allies such as TV host and physician Mehmet Oz also pressed federal officials in 2020 to authorize the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, with Navarro and a deputy working behind the scenes to have a hospital craft a request to the FDA for widespread access to the debunked therapy touted by Trump, the House select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis concluded in a report released Wednesday.
25th Aug 2022 - The Washington Post

Novak Djokovic confirms he will miss US Open due to Covid vaccine status

Novak Djokovic has announced that he will not play at the US Open due to his vaccine status. The world No 6, who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19, said last month that he was hoping “for some good news from USA” with the country requiring non-citizens to be fully vaccinated against coronavirus to enter. However, a recent update on the US Centers for Disease Control website confirmed the rule will remain in effect for the immediate future. On Thursday, the Serb confirmed he will not play in the tournament.
25th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Twitter labeled factual information about covid-19 as misinformation

Over the past week, Twitter has flagged dozens of tweets with factual information about covid-19 as misinformation and in some cases has suspended the accounts of doctors, scientists, and patient advocates in response to their posts warning people about the illness’s dangers. Many of the tweets have since had the misinformation labels removed, and the suspended accounts have been restored. But the episode has shaken many scientific and medical professionals, who say Twitter is a key way they try to publicize the continuing risk of covid to a population that has grown weary of more than two years of shifting claims about the illness. In interviews with The Post, Twitter acknowledged the problem. The company removed the labels and restored the accounts after queries about 10 specific tweets and accounts.
25th Aug 2022 - The Washington Post

Rishi Sunak: Covid Scientists Get Too Much Say on Lockdowns Leaving Us 'Screwed'

Scientists on the Government's Sage advisory committee were given too much influence over decisions on coronavirus lockdowns and not enough consideration was given to the social and economic impact, Rishi Sunak has claimed. The former chancellor said he "wasn't allowed to talk about the trade-off" during the early phases of the pandemic and suggested the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies edited its minutes to hide dissenting opinions. Mr Sunak said "we shouldn't have empowered the scientists in the way we did" and suggested he had been left "furious" during a meeting because colleagues refused to acknowledge the wider impact lockdowns was having.
25th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

UK leadership candidate Sunak attacks COVID lockdown response

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak, one of two candidates vying to be Britain's next premier, criticised the way outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson handled the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it had been a mistake to "empower" scientists and that the downsides of lockdowns were suppressed.
25th Aug 2022 - Reuters UK


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Aug 2022

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U.S. first lady Jill Biden tests positive for rebound case of COVID-19

U.S. first lady Jill Biden has tested positive in a rebound case of COVID-19 but is not experiencing any symptoms, while President Joe Biden continues to test negative for the virus, officials said on Wednesday. Jill Biden tested positive on Wednesday by antigen testing, following a negative test the previous day, and the White House's medical unit has notified close contacts, her deputy communications director said.
24th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Misinformation is a common thread between the COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS pandemics – with deadly consequences

Since health officials confirmed the first COVID-19 cases, misinformation has spread just as quickly as the virus. Social media may have made the amount, variety and speed of misinformation seem unprecedented, but COVID-19 isn’t the first pandemic where false and harmful information has set back public health. Misinformation altered how people trusted their governments and doctors during the 1918 influenza pandemic. It fueled the 19th century smallpox anti-vaccine movements through some of the same arguments as those currently used against the COVID-19 vaccine. What sets the COVID-19 pandemic apart, however, is the sheer magnitude of damaging disinformation put in circulation around the world. Data shows that regions and countries where disinformation thrived experienced more lethal pandemic waves despite vaccine availability.
24th Aug 2022 - The Conversation Indonesia

Djokovic missing U.S. Open over COVID vaccine status would be 'a joke' - McEnroe

Four-times U.S. Open winner John McEnroe said it would be "a joke" if Novak Djokovic is unable to compete at the U.S. tournament starting later this month due to his COVID-19 vaccination status. Djokovic has refused to take the vaccine and appears set to miss out on the year's last Grand Slam due to current U.S. rules that require travellers to show proof of full vaccination to board flights to and enter the United States.
24th Aug 2022 - Reuters


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 24th Aug 2022

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People less willing to comply with Covid-19 rules, or listen to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern according to Government survey

New Zealanders are complying less with Covid-19 rules as people's attention shifts to issues like the cost of living, according to research from the Government's own Covid survey. The survey shows a significant drop off in the willingness of people to trust the Prime Minister as the main source of truth about the pandemic. People remain confident in their ability to identify misinformation, and twice as many people use mainstream media for Covid information as use social media. At least every eight weeks, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet receives a survey of how New Zealanders feel about Covid-19. It looks at how much people are willing to comply with health rules and whether they trust health messaging on the virus, along with broader health messaging.
24th Aug 2022 - New Zealand Herald

WA police officer Ben Falconer loses legal challenge against COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Ben Falconer lost his legal case against WA's vaccine mandate. The judge found the measure was justified in a pandemic. He said the vaccine mandate was supported by experts
23rd Aug 2022 - ABC News

UK Covid inquiry bill already at £85m as government hires top law firms

Bills for the Covid-19 public inquiry have already hit £85m despite hearings not starting until next year, after the government hired top legal and public relations firms. Departments making key decisions during the pandemic have hired leading law firms on multimillion-pound contracts alongside specialist firms tasked with sifting through millions of sensitive documents and emails for disclosure. As current and former ministers prepare to face intense scrutiny of their actions when hearings begin in earnest in summer 2023, the Department of Health and Social Care, which oversaw controversial policies on admissions of potentially infected hospital patients into care homes, has hired Pinsent Masons on a £2.2m legal services contract, and the Cabinet Office has hired the same firm on a £7m “public inquiry response unit co-partnering contract”.
23rd Aug 2022 - The Guardian

US CDC announces major changes after criticism of its responses to covid-19 and monkeypox

The US national public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will make major changes to its structure and systems in the light of a review of its emergency response to the covid-19 pandemic. Announcing the changes on 17 August, Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, admitted that the agency had failed in its responses to covid-19 and monkeypox. She said that the proposed changes would strengthen and speed the CDC’s response to public health threats and improve its communications. “For 75 years CDC and public health have been preparing for covid-19, and in our big moments, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” she said. “As a long time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way.” The CDC has been criticised for releasing a flawed test early in the covid-19 pandemic that delayed accurate reporting of cases; confusing advice about social distancing, masking, and vaccinations; and poor communications. Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, also criticised the CDC’s response to the monkeypox outbreak for being slow and having problems with testing and vaccination
23rd Aug 2022 - The BMJ

Mexico to protest to U.N. over missing COVAX vaccines

Mexico will file a complaint to the United Nations over the failure to deliver vaccines against COVID-19 that the government bought under a program backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday. Mexico was owed $75 million, Lopez Obrador said, for COVID-19 vaccines meant to be supplied under COVAX, which was established by WHO during the pandemic to help distribute vaccines equitably across the world.
23rd Aug 2022 - Reuters

Anti-mandate protesters converge on New Zealand Parliament

About 2,000 protesters upset with the government’s pandemic response converged Tuesday on New Zealand’s Parliament — but there was no repeat of the occupation six months ago in which protesters camped on Parliament grounds for more than three weeks. Many of the protesters said they had no intention of trying to stay. And police ensured a repeat was unlikely by closing streets, erecting barricades and banning protesters from bringing structures onto Parliament’s grounds. The previous protest created significant disruptions in the capital and ended in chaos as retreating protesters set fire to tents and hurled rocks at police. This time there was also a counter-protest, with several hundred people gathering in front of Parliament as the main march entered the grounds. The two sides shouted insults but a line of police officers kept them physically separated.
23rd Aug 2022 - The Associated Press

Part of Billionaire Soon-Shiong's Africa Vaccine Plant For Rent

Part of a Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing plant in South Africa launched by US biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and President Cyril Ramaphosa is available to rent after a plunge in demand for the shots. The facility in Cape Town, announced in January after the continent had struggled to secure vaccines, is meant to produce a billion doses a year by 2025. One of the two buildings in the A-grade facility with modern offices and a warehouse is available for lease as the owners of the campus wait for “their production requirements to scale up,” according to Shane Howe, Broll Property Group’s regional head of industrial broking.
23rd Aug 2022 - Bloomberg


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 23rd Aug 2022

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NGOs call on Covid-19 Inquiry chair to probe global impact of UK vaccine buying

A string of NGOs, including Oxfam, have called on the chair of the Government’s Covid-19 Inquiry to probe the impacts of UK pandemic policy on the global stage. In a letter to chair Baroness Hallett today, the NGOs said: “Given the inquiry’s focus on the impact of the pandemic on inequalities, this should include how this has manifested globally and the UK’s role in exacerbating or mitigating these differences.” Of particular interest is the impact of pre-purchasing high volumes of vaccines on global supply, as well as “the UK’s role in weakening the provisions of the Intellectual Property waiver”, they wrote. Signatories also include Global Justice Now, Save the Children UK, People’s Vaccine Alliance, RESULTS UK, Just Treatment, Health Poverty Action, MSF UK and STOPAIDS. Maaza Seyoum, Global South convenor at the People’s Vaccine Alliance, has called pledges to vaccinate the world from leaders of wealthy countries and pharmaceutical firms a “little more than rhetoric”.
22nd Aug 2022 - City A.M.

Covid-19: People Before Profit MLA slams Health Minister over lateral flow test changes in NI

An MLA has demanded free coronavirus testing be reinstated after most people in Northern Ireland were told they no longer need to use lateral flow tests. People Before Profit’s Gerry Carroll slammed Health Minister Robin Swann for introducing the changes which came into effect on Monday. He described the move, which restricts access to the most vulnerable and frontline healthcare staff, as “short sighted” and warned more people will be put at risk of infection. “Covid-19 is still a threat to the public and the Health Minister can’t simply ignore the problem,” Mr Carroll said.
22nd Aug 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

NGOs call on Covid-19 Inquiry chair to probe global impact of UK vaccine buying

In a letter to chair Baroness Hallett today, the NGOs said: “Given the inquiry’s focus on the impact of the pandemic on inequalities, this should include how this has manifested globally and the UK’s role in exacerbating or mitigating these differences.” Of particular interest is the impact of pre-purchasing high volumes of vaccines on global supply, as well as “the UK’s role in weakening the provisions of the Intellectual Property waiver”, they wrote. Signatories also include Global Justice Now, Save the Children UK, People’s Vaccine Alliance, RESULTS UK, Just Treatment, Health Poverty Action, MSF UK and STOPAIDS. Maaza Seyoum, Global South convenor at the People’s Vaccine Alliance, has called pledges to vaccinate the world from leaders of wealthy countries and pharmaceutical firms a “little more than rhetoric”.
22nd Aug 2022 - City AM on MSN.com

Japan PM Kishida's support tumbles, hit by questions over church and COVID

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government has tumbled, battered by questions about the ruling party's ties to the Unification Church and its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a public opinion poll.
22nd Aug 2022 - Reuters


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More than 20 Chinese universities postpone new semester to stop COVID-19

More than 20 colleges and universities across China have moved to postpone the starting dates of the new semester, in a move that public health experts say is necessary to stop the spread of the COVID-19, as many places across the country are combating sporadic outbreaks. Due to the serious and complex epidemic situation across the nation, some universities and colleges in municipalities and provinces, including Beijing, Northwest China's Shaanxi, East China's Fujian, South China's Hainan, Northeast China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces, have decided to put off the start of the new semester.
21st Aug 2022 - Global Times

Singapore to end most rules on masks indoors as Covid-19 wave eases

Singapore will scrap rules for wearing masks in most indoor settings as the country moves further toward casting off all its pandemic-era curbs. Masks will only be required on public transport and healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes after the easing, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his annual National Day Rally speech on Sunday. Details will be released later, he said. The masking requirement is one of the last few virus curbs in the Southeast Asian city-state after authorities lifted most rules including limits on gatherings, and testing for incoming vaccinated travelers. Outdoor masks were made optional earlier this year as part of a pivot toward a strategy of living with Covid-19.
21st Aug 2022 - The Edge Markets MY

Japan PM Kishida infected with COVID, recuperating - govt

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to cancel a planned trip to Tunisia to attend a key conference on African development, a person close to him said on Sunday. Kishida, who has just returned from a week-long vacation, will work from his residence from Monday and will join the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) online, the source said, asking not to be identified because he is not authorised to talk to the media.
21st Aug 2022 - Reuters

National Day Rally 2022: PM Lee to speak about Covid-19, how Singapore can secure its future

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will speak about Singapore's experience during the Covid-19 pandemic and set out how the country can secure its future at the National Day Rally on Sunday (Aug 21). He said this in a brief trailer posted on Facebook on Friday, which showed the preparations for his speech at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio. "When I first spoke (at ITE College Central) in 2013, I said the venue underscored my commitment to investing in everyone in this country, and emphasised that Singapore was at a turning point. Today, this is truer than ever," he said. PM Lee noted that this is the first year since the onset of Covid-19 when he could do the rally at full-scale. He had delivered his rally speech in a Mediacorp studio in 2021, while the event was called off in 2020.
20th Aug 2022 - The Straits Times

Police call for Bolsonaro to be charged for spreading Covid misinformation

Brazilian federal police have called for President Jair Bolsonaro to be charged with spreading fake information about a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 680,000 of his citizens, including bogus claims of a link between Aids and Covid vaccines. Bolsonaro’s anti-scientific response to a disease he called “a bit of a cold” has been internationally condemned and the subject of a congressional inquiry in which the far-right populist was accused of deliberately delaying vaccine purchases and promoting quack “cures” such as hydroxychloroquine.
19th Aug 2022 - The Guardian


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French fire service official tells of death threats over Covid vaccine stance

A French fire service official says he has received death threats and been harassed after calling for firefighters who have refused the Covid vaccine to remain suspended. France’s interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, condemned the alleged social media threats against Eric Brocardi, who has reported them to police. Cmdr Brocardi, who is spokesperson for France’s national federation of firefighters (FNSPF), came under attack after saying that in his view, full-time and voluntary firefighters suspended for refusing the vaccine should not be allowed to return to the service.
18th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19: The government's gaslighting has left vulnerable patients feeling forgotten

McLellan and Abbasi say that we must “face the fact that the nation’s attempt to ‘live with covid’ is the straw that is breaking the NHS’s back.”1 The government’s unwillingness to confront the current reality of covid is also directly impacting some of the most vulnerable patients.
18th Aug 2022 - The BMJ

Margaret Ferrier Admits 'Recklessly' Exposing Public To Risk Of Covid-19 With Train Travel

The former SNP MP pleaded guilty to breaking Covid rules by travelling between London and Glasgow when she knew she had the virus.
18th Aug 2022 - HuffPost UK

CDC Director Outlines Restructuring Plans After Agency’s Covid-19 Response Fell Short

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be restructured to strengthen its response to public-health threats, the agency’s director said, acknowledging shortcomings in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that she intended to improve the agency’s communication, timeliness and accountability. The CDC has at times amended its guidance on masking, isolation and other mitigation efforts in ways that spurred confusion or lagged behind the trajectory of the pandemic. The agency has faced new criticism recently for its response to the monkeypox outbreak. “In our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations,” Dr. Walensky said. “I want us all to do better, and it starts with CDC leading the way.”
18th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Brazil federal police accuse Bolsonaro of COVID-linked scaremongering

Brazil's federal police on Wednesday accused President Jair Bolsonaro of discouraging mask use during the pandemic and falsely suggesting that people who got vaccinated against COVID-19 ran the risk of contracting AIDS. In a document sent to Brazil's Supreme Court, a police delegate said Bolsonaro's effort to discourage compliance with pandemic-linked health measures amounted to a crime, while his effort to link AIDS with vaccination amounted to a misdemeanor.
18th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Planning for COVID-19 vaccine rollout left too late, Commonwealth failed to adequately engage states, damning review finds

A review by the Auditor-General found the Coalition left planning for Australia's COVID vaccine rollout too late. It also found the former Morrison government failed to adequately engage with the states and territories before the rollout began The Department of Health has agreed to the recommendations.
18th Aug 2022 - ABC news


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The Morrison government's COVID-19 vaccine rollout missed key targets, major review finds

An auditor-general's report has criticised the previous coalition government's COVID-19 vaccine rollout for missing key targets. The report said while about 90 per cent of the eligible population were vaccinated by the end of 2021, the rollout was not implemented effectively. None of the five timeline targets set by the government were met, including the rollouts to aged care, the vulnerable and Indigenous people.
17th Aug 2022 - SBS

Morrison government failed to provide priority for at-risk groups in vaccine rollout, report says

The Morrison government botched the early planning of Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout, failing to provide priority for at-risk groups including aged and disability care, and First Nations people, according to a new report. The Australian National Audit Office report, released on Thursday, criticised the previous administration for not beginning to plan the rollout with states and territories until November 2020. It recommended a more comprehensive review and will likely fuel calls for a Covid-19 royal commission. The health minister, Mark Butler, seized on the findings, which he said confirmed “for much of 2021, Australia had one of the slowest vaccine rollouts in the developed world”.
17th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

California appeals court rejects COVID-19 fines for church

A California church that defied safety regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic by holding large religious services won't have to pay about $200,000 in fines, a state appeals court ruled. Calvary Chapel San Jose and its pastors were held in contempt of court and fined in 2020 and 2021 for violating state and county limits on indoor public gatherings. The rules were aimed at preventing the spread through close contract of the virus, which has caused more than 10 million confirmed cases and more than 93,500 deaths since the pandemic began in mid-2020, according to state public health figures.
17th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Senior doctor tells Newmarch House COVID-19 inquest of his 'crisis day' as the nursing home outbreak unfolded

19 residents died during the COVID-19 outbreak at Newmarch House. A three-week inquest into the circumstances surrounding the deaths has concluded, with findings due early next year. Lawyer Emily Clarke says Anglicare should have taken control of the situation as the operator of the home
17th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Planning for COVID-19 vaccine rollout left too late, Commonwealth failed to adequately engage states, damning review finds

A review by the Auditor-General found the Coalition left planning for Australia's COVID vaccine rollout too late. It also found the former Morrison government failed to adequately engage with the states and territories before the rollout began The Department of Health has agreed to the recommendations.
17th Aug 2022 - ABC News


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Albanese confirms there will be a Royal Commission into COVID-19 response

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese “made clear” there will be a Royal Commission into Australia’s COVID-19 response, says Sky News Political Editor Andrew Clennell. “Just not now,” Mr Clennell said.
16th Aug 2022 - Sky News

AFL fines Sydney, St Kilda, Richmond, Brisbane and Collingwood for COVID-19 breaches

An audit by the AFL has revealed five clubs breached COVID protocols through the season. Each club has been hit with a fine, with Sydney's $100,000 penalty the heaviest. The breaches are in regard to discrepancies surrounding RATs
16th Aug 2022 - ABC News

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla Tests Positive for Covid With Mild Symptoms

Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said he tested positive for Covid-19 and is receiving Paxlovid, the treatment made by his company. Bourla said he’s feeling well although experiencing very mild symptoms, according to a statement Monday. He’s received four doses of Covid vaccine, also made by Pfizer in collaboration with BioNTech SE. The CEO is one of many people who have contracted Covid despite receiving full vaccination and boosting. The mutating coronavirus has continually found ways to at least partially evade immunity induced by shots and previous infections, although usually causing milder cases.
16th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Aug 2022

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Australia's PM says former PM Morrison took on secret ministerial roles during COVID

Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has sought legal advice following reports that his predecessor Scott Morrison secretly held key ministerial roles during the COVID-19 pandemic, duplicating some portfolios. Ministers are traditionally sworn in at a ceremony by the governor-general but that did not happen in the case of the additional roles, and Albanese said it was unprecedented that key cabinet members were not aware of the appointments.
15th Aug 2022 - Reuters

China Surveillance in Xinjiang, Tibet Used to Prevent Shanghai-Like Covid Unrest

To combat fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 in outlying areas like Xinjiang and Tibet, Chinese authorities are drawing on a security apparatus previously used to quell dissent against authorities in Beijing. Broad surveillance measures used over the years against Tibetan Buddhists and mainly Muslim Uyghurs, both minority groups in China, are helping enforce lockdown rules among people long at risk of arbitrary detention. That has helped ensure there’s no public displays of anger like those seen earlier this year during the monthslong lockdown in the financial hub of Shanghai. “It’s ironic but very convenient for the CCP that it first constructed Uyghur ethno-national identity as a religious extremist ‘thought virus,’ took draconian steps to eradicate it, and then a real virus came along for which similar techniques were useful,” said James Millward, professor of history at Georgetown University, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.
15th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg


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China Removes Three Tibet Health Officials From Posts Over Covid

China removed three health officials in Tibet from their posts for failing to prevent the spread of the recent Covid outbreak. The sacked officials include the party secretary and director of the municipal health commission of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, as well as the party secretary of the city’s center for disease control and prevention, according to a statement published by the local government Sunday. The dismissals were the result of the officials “failing to implement Covid prevention and control work well,” according to the statement. Tibet last Monday reported four Covid-19 infections, the first sign of the virus in the isolated region since a single case was found at the start of the pandemic in January 2020. On Friday, Lhasa -- currently under partial lockdown -- logged 81 local cases.
14th Aug 2022 - Bloomberg

Creighton students' COVID vaccine mandate appeal dismissed

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal by a handful of Creighton University students who sought to be exempt from the private Catholic school’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate last year, arguing that getting the shots would violate their religious beliefs against abortion. The state’s high court said it didn’t have jurisdiction, citing its 150-year stance that people can’t appeal orders denying or granting temporary injunctions. In this case, a judge last year declined to issue a temporary injunction that would have blocked Creighton University’s requirement that all students get the COVID-19 vaccination.
13th Aug 2022 - The Associated Press

Emergent receives FDA warning letter over quality control issues

Emergent BioSolutions Inc said on Friday it had received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, citing certain deficiencies at the contract drugmaker's manufacturing facility in Baltimore, Maryland.
13th Aug 2022 - Reuters

North Korea lifts mask mandate, distancing rules after declaring COVID victory

North Korea has dropped a face mask mandate and other social distancing rules as leader Kim Jong Un declared victory over COVID-19 this week, state media said on Saturday, three months after its first acknowledgement of the virus outbreak in the isolated country.
13th Aug 2022 - Reuters

A scientist in the public eye has taken her own life. This has to be a wake-up call

Lisa-Maria Kellermayr, an Austrian GP, was a doctor who dedicated her life to her patients and was vocal about the risks of Covid-19 on Twitter and in the media. She had endured months of death threats from Covid conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers. Colleagues expressed frustration with the lack of support she received for dealing with the daily abuse. Last month, Kellermayr took her own life. When the news of Kellermayr’s death was shared among the medical community, the reaction was one of sadness but little surprise. During the pandemic, scientists have suffered huge amounts of abuse and blame while just trying to do their jobs. I suffered far less than many of my colleagues, but still got my share of online attacks during the pandemic.
12th Aug 2022 - The Guardian

Hacker offers to sell data of 48.5 million users of Shanghai's COVID app

A hacker has claimed to have obtained the personal information of 48.5 million users of a COVID health code mobile app run by the city of Shanghai, the second claim of a breach of the Chinese financial hub's data in just over a month. The hacker with the username as "XJP" posted an offer to sell the data for $4,000 on the hacker forum Breach Forums on Wednesday. The hacker provided a sample of the data including the phone numbers, names and Chinese identification numbers and health code status of 47 people.
12th Aug 2022 - Reuters


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Thailand's hotel-based COVID-19 isolation facilities to be phased out from September

Beginning September 1st, all hotel-based COVID-19 isolation services will be phased out and private and state hospitals will get direct access to supplies of antiviral medication, as the country is transitioning into a post-pandemic period. Prof. Dr. Udom Kachinthorn, chairman of the national reform committee on public health said today (Thursday) that both private and state hospitals can claim refunds from the government for the drugs prescribed to COVID -19 patients. He said that, as COVID-19 is to be re-classified as an “infectious disease under watch”, instead of a “dangerous infectious disease” on October 1st, pharmacies should have access to antiviral drugs as well, pending an announcement to be issued by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (TFDA), adding that drug stores can dispense the medications to patients, but they need a doctor’s prescription to prevent misuse.
12th Aug 2022 - Thai PBS World

Flush with wins, finally COVID-free, Biden to hit the road ahead of U.S. midterms

President Joe Biden plans to travel across the United States in the coming weeks to tout a series of legislative wins on climate change, gun control and drug pricing in a bid to boost his party's chances in the looming midterm elections, White House officials said on Thursday. His Democrats face an uphill battle to retain their narrow control of the House of Representatives and Senate in the Nov. 8 elections. Biden, whose public approval rating rose this week to its highest since early June, plans to use the recent victories in Congress to rally support for Democratic candidates, White House officials Kate Bedingfield and Anita Dunn wrote in a memo distributed to allies in the party and shared with reporters.
11th Aug 2022 - Reuters


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Cathay Pacific narrows loss but COVID rules on crew cloud outlook

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said Hong Kong's strict COVID rules for air crew were crimping the airline's ability to exploit rising demand for travel, even as its first-half loss narrowed to HK$5 billion ($636.98 million). The carrier is falling behind traditional rival Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIA) in restoring international capacity as roster preparations are complicated by a quarantine requirement for Hong Kong-based crew of passenger planes to spend three nights in hotels on their return from each trip. The financial hub is also one of a few places in the world, along with mainland China and Taiwan, to still require COVID-19 quarantine for arriving passengers, though such hotel stays are to be cut to three days from seven, officials said this week.
11th Aug 2022 - Yahoo Finance

Pharmacies, GPs at odds over antivirals

A push to allow access to COVID-19 treatments without a prescription could jeopardise patient safety, the general practitioners body warns. There are two oral antivirals available in Australia, and while early treatment is critical to lessen the effects of the virus, access is restricted. All Australians over 70 and those over 50 at risk of severe disease from COVID-19 are eligible to access the treatments, with patients requiring a prescription from a GP or a nurse practitioner.
11th Aug 2022 - The West Australian


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

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Sperm not affected nine months after COVID-19 mRNA vaccination

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines are effective in reducing deaths due to infection with the causative severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Furthermore, widespread vaccination against COVID-19 has successfully reduced infection rates and severe COVID-19 outcomes. SARS-CoV-2 infection has previously been reported to adversely affect male fertility, as demonstrated by a temporary reduction in sperm production. Although current COVID-19 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines have been associated with minimal or no effect on male fertility, concerns regarding their potential reproductive toxicity remain a major cause of vaccine hesitancy.
9th Aug 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Most Parents Are Saying No to Covid-19 Vaccines for Toddlers

Parents are having their say about the Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5, and for most, the answer so far is no. More than a month after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended shots for about 17.4 million children ages 6 months through 4 years, about 4% to 5% of them have received a shot, according to the most recent agency data and population estimates from the American Academy of Pediatrics. By contrast, the vaccination rate for children 5 to 11 years reached about 18% a month after the CDC first recommended shots last November. The rate now stands at about 38%. “The rates of uptake are just not what we would hope,” said Brannon Traxler, director of public health for the Department of Health and Environmental Control in South Carolina, where recent data show about 2% of the state’s babies and toddlers have received at least one dose. “This is a common theme across the country in many places.”
8th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Australia cricketer wins in Commonwealth Games gold medal match after positive Covid test

Tahlia McGrath was allowed to play for Australia in their Commonwealth Games T20 cricket final against India despite testing positive for Covid-19. The all-rounder is the No1 ranked side’s hottest property and Aussie chiefs were desperate that she started the Edgbaston showpiece. Despite experiencing “mild” symptoms, and following consultation with health experts, team and match officials delaying the toss by 10 minutes, the International Cricket Council gave her the green light. Under Games Covid rules, affected players across all disciplines are assessed on a case-by-case basis. McGrath, who contributed 126 runs and eight wickets to Australia’s previous four matches, sat apart from her team-mates in the dressing room wearing a mask.
7th Aug 2022 - The Mirror

Biden Tests Negative for Covid-19 After Rebound Case, White House Doctor Says

President Biden tested negative for Covid-19 Saturday after a rebound case, but will remain in isolation until he has a second negative test, his physician said in a letter. Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a letter made public by the White House that Mr. Biden tested negative on an antigen test and “continues to feel very well.” A White House official said a second test was planned for Sunday morning. Mr. Biden first tested positive for Covid-19 on July 21 and tested negative five days later following treatment with the antiviral drug Paxlovid. But he tested positive again on July 30, in what his doctor described as a rebound case. Following the positive test, Mr. Biden returned to isolation at the White House residence.
7th Aug 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Biden tests negative for COVID, White House physician says

President Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 after testing positive with a breakthrough case for days, the White House physician said on Saturday. The Democratic president, "in an abundance of caution," will remain in isolation until he tests negative on a second test, Dr. Kevin O'Connor said in a memo released by the White House. Biden, 79, emerged from isolation at the White House on July 27 after testing positive for COVID-19 for the first time on July 21. He tested positive again on July 30 in what O'Connor described as a "rebound" case seen in a small percentage of people who take the antiviral drug Paxlovid.
7th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Prada Navigates Tricky COVID Curbs to Hold Beijing Show

Prada on Friday became the first major luxury house to host a show in China this year, navigating strict COVID curbs to send models down a catwalk in a historic Beijing mansion hotel, a move aimed at underscoring its commitment to the market. Livestreamed on multiple online platforms including Weibo, more than 400 celebrities and customers attended the event held by the Italian group in the Prince Jun’s Mansion Hotel, where it showcased its men and women's fall and winter collections. Shows in Chinese cities by global luxury giants, from Prada to LVMH's Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, used to be a familiar sight and continued even in 2020 and 2021 after China curbed the spread of the virus relatively quickly thanks to tough border curbs. But much has changed in 2022 with China's continued insistence on a "dynamic zero COVID" policy that uses harsh measures to cut any virus transmission chain, even as the rest of the world opens up in the face of infectious Omicron variants.
6th Aug 2022 - U.S. News & World Report

Three years in prison for man who threatened US Covid-19 advisor Fauci

A West Virginia man has been sentenced to three years in prison for threatening top US Covid-19 advisor Anthony Fauci and other officials over their handling of the pandemic. Thomas Connally, 57, of Snowshoe, pleaded guilty to making email threats between December 2020 and July 2021, the US attorney's office for Maryland said. One of the emails threatened that Fauci and his family would be "dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire," the attorney's office said in a statement. US District Judge Paula Xinis sentenced Connally on Thursday to 37 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
6th Aug 2022 - News24

Gas company to pay $184000 to worker with cancer fired over COVID risk

A Pennsylvania gas well service company will pay $184,000 to settle claims that it unlawfully fired a longtime employee because his cancer made him more vulnerable to COVID-19, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said on Thursday. The settlement with Gas Field Specialists Inc (GFS) was announced by the EEOC a day after it was filed in Scranton, Pennsylvania federal court, ending a 2021 lawsuit by the agency. The company denied wrongdoing.
5th Aug 2022 - Reuters

Japan PM Kishida to reshuffle cabinet as COVID, Taiwan in focus

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Saturday he will reshuffle his cabinet next week to address mounting issues including Taiwan tensions, COVID-19 and economic stimulus measures to counter inflation. "We need to set off a new formation as soon as possible considering the various issues," he told a news conference in Hiroshima after attending a commemoration for the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing in the city.
5th Aug 2022 - Reuters


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Northern Ireland families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 mount legal bid for central role in UK inquiry into pandemic

Families who lost loved ones to Covid-19 in Northern Ireland are mounting a legal bid to secure a central role at the UK-wide inquiry into the pandemic. The tribunal has been set up to examine the response of government and impact of the public health emergency. Lawyers representing campaign group Northern Ireland Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice confirmed they are applying for core participant status at the hearings. A statement issued by the group said: “It is difficult to conceive of a group who have been more tragically affected by the pandemic. “Our key objectives are to secure answers and accountability for the deaths of our loved ones and to learn lessons to help save lives in the future and the most effective means of achieving this is by participating in the Covid-19 Public Inquiry.
4th Aug 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Calls to rethink 'immoral' removal of Covid-19 sick pay policies

Nurses are among those urging governments across the UK to reinstate special Covid-19 sick pay policies for NHS staff and are appealing for support from the profession and the public via an online petition. The petition, which demands that special Covid-19 sick pay is reintroduced, has received more than 38,000 signatures in just under a month. It was launched by midwife Maria Esslinger-Raven on behalf of health professionals like herself who have long Covid.
4th Aug 2022 - Nursing Times

Austrian doctors speak out after suicide of GP following Covid threats

Austrian medical representatives have called for greater protection for doctors after a GP who faced months of violent threats from anti-vaccination activists and pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. Lisa-Maria Kellermayr was found dead in her practice in the lakeside resort of Seewalchen am Attersee on Friday. Prosecutors told the media they found three suicide notes and were not planning to carry out an autopsy. Her death prompted a wave of vigils and demonstrations. There have also been calls for laws against bullying and psychological warfare to be tightened, including making it easier to prosecute perpetrators in other EU countries, after at least two of the people believed to have targeted Kellermayr with death threats were identified as coming from Germany.
2nd Aug 2022 - The Guardian


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

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Capital records five deaths as Covid cases cross 2000 mark

The capital reported 2,073 fresh cases of Covid-19 Wednesday, with the incidence crossing the 2,000-mark for the first time in 71 days since February 4 when there were 2,272 cases recorded as the omicron variant-driven wave was receding in the capital. The positivity rate — the proportion of samples tested that return positive — stood at 11.64% on Wednesday, according to the daily health bulletin released by the Delhi government. The average positivity rate over the last three days is 11.23%, which is also the highest since the third wave waned in the city.
4th Aug 2022 - The Indian Express

Tennis-Djokovic likely to miss U.S. Open over COVID-19 vaccine status

Djokovic has refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine yet the 21-times Grand Slam winner remains on the entry lists for the ATP 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati that serve as tune-ups for the Aug. 29-Sept. 11 U.S. Open in New York. In the case of the U.S. Open, which does not have a vaccine mandate, organisers previously said that per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are entered into the main draw based on their ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event. U.S. Open organisers also said that while they do not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, they will respect the U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens.
3rd Aug 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com


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Austria mourns suicide of doctor targeted by anti-COVID vaccine campaigners

Austrian leaders appealed for national unity after a doctor who faced death threats from anti-vaccination activists and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. "Let's put an end to this intimidation and fear mongering. Hate and intolerance have no place in our Austria," President Alexander Van der Bellen said, hailing Lisa-Maria Kellermayr as a doctor who stood for healing people, protecting them from disease and taking a cautious approach to the pandemic. "But some people have been enraged by this. And these people scared her, threatened her, first on the internet and then also in person, directly in her practice." The body of the doctor -- who had often given media interviews about fighting the coronavirus pandemic and promoting vaccinations -- was found in her office in Upper Austria on Friday.
2nd Aug 2022 - EU Reporter

Djokovic likely to miss U.S. Open over COVID-19 vaccine status

There is a petition circulating to allow Novak Djokovic to play at the U.S. Open but the Serbian appears likely to miss the entire North American hardcourt swing barring a sudden change in COVID-19 protocols in the United States and Canada. Djokovic has refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine yet the 21-times Grand Slam winner remains on the entry lists for the ATP 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati that serve as tune-ups for the Aug. 29-Sept. 11 U.S. Open in New York.
2nd Aug 2022 - Reuters

Thousands of small firms go bust owing millions in bounce back Covid loans

More than 16,000 businesses which took out a type of government-backed Covid loan have gone bust without paying the money back, the BBC has found. Hundreds of directors, who got loans they were not entitled to, have also been disqualified. The cost to the taxpayer of these insolvencies could be as much as £500m, and is likely to grow as more companies go under. Questions are now being asked about what is being done to recoup the money. The figures, obtained by the BBC under a Freedom of Information request, have been described as "shocking" by a former head of the Serious Fraud Office.
2nd Aug 2022 - BBC News


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Will anti-vaccine activism in the USA reverse global goals?

In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-vaccine activism in the USA accelerated, amplified and formed an alliance with political groups and even extremists. An organized, well-funded and empowered anti-science movement now threatens to spill over and threaten all childhood immunizations in the USA and globally. Many countries now face declining immunization rates as a result of anti-vaccine activism. In the case of the USA, an anti-vaccine movement that began with false assertions linking vaccines to autism accelerated roughly a decade ago in Texas (where I live and work) around a libertarian framework known as health freedom2. At present, many conservative elected leaders in the US House of Representatives actively promote this health freedom anti-vaccine agenda, as do several US senators, sitting governors and federal judges. Far-right extremist groups such as the Proud Boys march at anti-vaccine rallies.
1st Aug 2022 - Nature.com

How Some Parents Changed Their Politics in the Pandemic

They waved signs that read “Defeat the mandates” and “No vaccines.” They chanted “Protect our kids” and “Our kids, our choice.” Almost everyone in the crowd of more than three dozen was a parent. And as they protested on a recent Friday in the Bay Area suburb of Orinda, Calif., they had the same refrain: They were there for their children. Most had never been to a political rally before. But after seeing their children isolated and despondent early in the coronavirus pandemic, they despaired, they said. On Facebook, they found other worried parents who sympathized with them. They shared notes and online articles — many of them misleading — about the reopening of schools and the efficacy of vaccines and masks. Soon, those issues crowded out other concerns.
1st Aug 2022 - The New York Times


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China's factory activity contracts unexpectedly in July as COVID flares up

China's factory activity contracted unexpectedly in July after bouncing back from COVID-19 lockdowns the month before, as fresh virus flare-ups and a darkening global outlook weighed on demand, a survey showed on Sunday. The official manufacturing purchasing managers' Index (PMI) fell to 49.0 in July from 50.2 in June, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, below the 50-point mark that separates contraction from growth and the lowest in three months.
31st Jul 2022 - Reuters

Government's slow COVID-19 response worsened health inequalities, warns BMA

The final instalment of a BMA review that will be submitted to the public inquiry on the pandemic also said that disabled people across the UK were more likely to die of COVID-19 than non-disabled people, and also to experience worse mental health. The BMA said the UK entered the pandemic ‘on the back foot’ because of underfunding of public health and an absence of cross-government accountability exacerbating health inequalities. BMA chair Professor Philip Banfield blamed the tardiness of the government’s response to COVID-19 for worsening health inequalities.
29th Jul 2022 - GP online

Over Half of Brits Receive More in Benefits Than They Pay in Tax During Pandemic

More than half of Britons received more in welfare than they paid in tax last year as the government response to the pandemic drove a big reduction in inequality, according to the Office for National Statistics. A value-added-tax cut, increased spending on welfare and health, and a steep reduction in household consumption meant that 54.2% of individuals took more support from the state than they contributed in the first year of the pandemic to March 2021. The ONS said it was “both the greatest proportion and the largest annual increase” since records began in 1977. In 2020, 47.5% were net recipients. Income support programs, such as furlough, were not a benefit.
29th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Austria mourns suicide of doctor targetted by anti-COVID vaccine campaigners

Austrian leaders appealed for national unity after a doctor who faced death threats from anti-vaccination activists and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. "Let's put an end to this intimidation and fear mongering. Hate and intolerance have no place in our Austria," President Alexander Van der Bellen said, hailing Lisa-Maria Kellermayr as a doctor who stood for healing people, protecting them from disease and taking a cautious approach to the pandemic. ZURICH, July 30 (Reuters) - Austrian leaders appealed for national unity after a doctor who faced death threats from anti-vaccination activists and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. "Let's put an end to this intimidation and fear mongering. Hate and intolerance have no place in our Austria," President Alexander Van der Bellen said, hailing Lisa-Maria Kellermayr as a doctor who stood for healing people, protecting them from disease and taking a cautious approach to the pandemic. "But some people have been enraged by this. And these people scared her, threatened her, first on the internet and then also in person, directly in her practice." The body of the doctor -- who had often given media interviews about fighting the coronavirus pandemic and promoting vaccinations -- was found in her office in Upper Austria on Friday.
29th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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Outrage in Brazil as Jair Bolsonaro avoids five charges related to Covid response

Brazilian senators are calling for an investigation into one of the country’s top prosecutors after she shelved several charges against the president, Jair Bolsonaro, over his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic. A damning congressional inquiry had recommended that Bolsonaro be charged with nine offences, including crimes against humanity and charlatanism, for promoting false treatments such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. The far-right president constantly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, initially calling it “a little flu” and telling Brazilians to man up because “we are all going to die anyway”.
28th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Covid-19: “Impossible” to be confident that government awarded Randox contracts properly, say MPs

The UK government’s failure to follow basic rules in awarding £777m of contracts for covid-19 testing to the diagnostics company Randox Laboratories make it “impossible to have confidence” that the contracts were awarded properly, says the parliamentary watchdog on public spending. In a highly critical report, the Commons Public Account Committee accuses the Department of Health and Social Care of “woefully inadequate record keeping” and failing to meet basic requirements to publicly report ministers’ external meetings or deal with potential conflicts of interest when awarding testing contracts to the company.
28th Jul 2022 - The BMJ


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MPs criticise government award of £777mn Covid contracts to medical group Randox

The UK government’s “woefully inadequate record-keeping” means it is “impossible to have confidence” that £777mn of contracts won by medical diagnostics company Randox as part of the country’s Covid-19 testing programme were awarded properly, according to a new report. The House of Commons public accounts committee on Wednesday accused the Department of Health and Social Care of failing to “show any evidence of taking any care” over potential conflicts of interest, despite officials being aware of contacts between former Conservative minister Owen Paterson, a paid consultant to Randox, and the then health secretary Matt Hancock.
27th Jul 2022 - Financial Times

Scientist at forefront of China's early investigations into Covid-19 steps down

George Gao, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has stepped down after five years at the helm of the health body, ending a tenure that placed him at the fore of early investigations into the first outbreak of Covid-19 in central China and the country's rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines. The leadership change, announced by the agency on Tuesday, comes amid a restructuring that has seen the China CDC moved from its position directly under the monolithic centrally controlled National Health Commission and placed within a new nominally streamlined bureau, borne of pandemic-era calls for reform.
27th Jul 2022 - CNN


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Encouraged by right-wing doctor groups, desperate patients turn to ivermectin for long Covid

Almost two years have passed since Dean Fritzemeier fell ill with Covid in October 2020. As the rest of the world moves on, shrugging off new variants and traveling with a vengeance, he remains trapped in a life weighed down by the virus. Fritzemeier is always tired, but can’t sleep. The 52-year-old once walked 7 miles a day, but now can only get outside if he’s pushed in a wheelchair. Along with millions of others, the Michigan resident has long Covid. He’s sought treatment at a rehab hospital and traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, one of dozens of U.S. hospitals that have created programs to treat the still-mysterious syndrome. Nothing has helped. Out of desperation, he turned to an unproven remedy. Fritzemeier’s wife, Karen, heard about ivermectin from a cousin.
26th Jul 2022 - STAT News


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Newmarch House COVID-19 inquest told residents went without food, oxygen during outbreak

During the outbreak, 37 of Newmarch House's 97 residents contracted COVID. The facility is owned and run by Anglicare Community Services. One witness said his mother’s breathing apparatus was not operating when he went to visit
25th Jul 2022 - ABC News

The Covid vaccine no Aussies wanted

Deemed the “alternative” Covid vaccine, there were high hopes for Novavax in Australia when the more traditional formula got the tick of approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in January. Due to its similar composition to hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, a large amount of interest was shown for Novavax, or Nuvaxovid, by those who were reluctant to take either AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Additionally experts, like TGA boss Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, believed the increased interest would see vaccination rates rise from 95 per cent fully vaccinated to at least 98 per cent. “I would have had several hundred emails from individuals and groups who have said for whatever reason we would like to have [this] particular vaccine … this just gives them further choice,” Professor Skerritt said upon Novavax’s approval in January.
25th Jul 2022 - News.com.au


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Biden's health improving, no close contacts tested positive for COVID

U.S. President Joe Biden's health has improved considerably and his predominant 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, added. "His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature all remain normal," the physician said in a memo released on Sunday. His predominant symptom now is a sore throat .... His voice remains a bit deep."
24th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Does Joe Biden Still Have Covid? President Continues to Improve

President Joe Biden continues to improve with mild symptoms as he isolates with Covid-19 at the White House. White House physician Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memo on Saturday that the president -- who is being treated with Pfizer Inc.’s drug Paxlovid -- is “responding to therapy as expected.” “His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature remain entirely normal,” though Biden now has body aches among his symptoms, O’Connor said in the note. “His lungs remain clear” and he’s “experiencing no shortness of breath at all,” the doctor said.
23rd Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Doctor: Biden likely has highly contagious COVID-19 strain

Joe Biden was likely infected with the BA5 subvariant of Omicron, the current dominant Covid-19 variant in the US, according to his physician, who reported that the US president’s symptoms “continue to improve” after he tested positive on 21 July. The BA5 subvariant of the highly contagious disease accounts for nearly 80 per cent of recent infections in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mr Biden has completed a second full day of the antiviral treatment Paxlovid and will contine the treatment regimen “as planned,” Physician to the President Dr Kevin O’Connor reported on 23 July.
23rd Jul 2022 - The Independent

Biden has sore throat and body aches, but COVID symptoms improving -physician

President Joe Biden's COVID-19 symptoms continue to improve and now include "less troublesome" sore throat, runny nose, loose cough and body aches, his physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, said in a memo on Saturday. Biden's lungs remain clear and his oxygen saturation "continues to be excellent on room air," the doctor said.
23rd Jul 2022 - Reuters

Vigorous but coughing, COVID-postive Biden appears virtually at White House meeting

U.S. President Joe Biden appeared virtually at a White House meeting of economic advisers on Friday to highlight his good health a day after testing positive for COVID-19. Speaking remotely at the meeting to discuss White House efforts to lower gas prices, Biden appeared vigorous and in good spirits but with a noticeably deeper voice, hours after his doctor released a statement saying his symptoms had improved.
23rd Jul 2022 - Reuters

Vigorous but coughing, COVID-postive Biden appears virtually at White House meeting

U.S. President Joe Biden appeared virtually at a White House meeting of economic advisers on Friday to highlight his good health a day after testing positive for COVID-19. Speaking remotely at the meeting to discuss White House efforts to lower gas prices, Biden appeared vigorous and in good spirits but with a noticeably deeper voice, hours after his doctor released a statement saying his symptoms had improved.
22nd Jul 2022 - Reuters


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China investors call it quits as Xi, ‘zero COVID’ sap confidence

Once a regular investor in Chinese tech companies, Lian now views China as an increasingly risky bet as the country’s autocratic turn under Xi Jinping and ongoing “zero COVID” lockdowns cast a cloud over the economy. Overseas investors shed more than $150bn in China-based yuan-denominated assets in the first quarter of this year, the largest decline on record. Chinese bonds alone saw a $61bn sell-off between February and May. Roughly $300bn could exit the country this year, more than double last year’s outflow of $129bn, according to forecasts by the Washington-based Institute of International Finance
21st Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

President Biden Tests Positive for Covid-19

President Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history, tested positive on Thursday for Covid-19, as new variants keep case numbers high after 2½ years of pandemic disruptions. The White House said Thursday the president, 79 years old, has mild symptoms and has begun taking the antiviral drug Paxlovid. He plans to isolate at the White House residence and continue to carry out his duties during that time. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Mr. Biden’s physician, wrote in a letter released by the White House that the president was experiencing a runny nose and fatigue “with an occasional dry cough,” which began Wednesday evening.
21st Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Biden Tests Positive: We’ve Come a Long Way Since Trump’s Covid

Biden’s treatment has been a much more straightforward affair. He’s isolating while continuing to work from the White House and taking Pfizer Inc.’s antiviral pill Paxlovid, a standard treatment for higher-risk patients. His wife said he was doing fine. The different therapies reflect the evolving course of the virus and medical countermeasures against it. Back when Trump got sick there were no vaccines or FDA-authorized pills against the coronavirus. Earlier versions spreading at the time were associated with higher rates of severe complications. “Trump was unvaccinated, and that was in the pre-vaccine era,” says infectious disease specialist Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
21st Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID puts a stop to Froome's encouraging Tour de France

Four-time champion Chris Froome's encouraging Tour de France came to a frustrating halt on Thursday when the Briton pulled out of the race after contracting COVID-19. The Israel Premier Tech rider took third place on stage 12 atop L'Alpe d'Huez, which was his best performance since a career-threatening crash three years ago. "A test has revealed that I have contracted COVID so I am not going to be taking the start today," Froome said in a video on Twitter just as stage 18 was beginning.
21st Jul 2022 - Reuters

Public inquiry into UK Covid-19 response opens

Ministers will have a year to prepare before cross-examination at the UK’s Covid-19 public inquiry, its chair, Heather Hallett, announced, as she opened what is likely be one of the broadest statutory investigations in the country’s history. The first cross-examinations of the government response to the pandemic, including decisions on lockdowns, maintaining public confidence and handling of scientific advice, will begin in summer 2023, three and a half years after the arrival of coronavirus, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the UK. Hearings on the UK’s preparedness will start in late spring 2023, as Lady Hallett said she wanted to move as “speedily as possible so lessons are learned before another pandemic strikes”. Boris Johnson had been repeatedly criticised by campaigners for the bereaved and Labour for delaying the launch of the inquiry. Hallett said it would scrutinise the “performance and effectiveness” of central government decision-making and its messaging – topics likely to expose current and former ministers.
21st Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Californian sentenced for $27M phony COVID aid attempt

A Southern California man who tried to obtain $27 million in unemployment benefits by falsely claiming his business was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic was sentenced Tuesday to more than 11 years in federal prison. Robert Benlevi, 53, of the Encino area of Los Angeles received a 135-month sentence following his March conviction for bank fraud, money laundering and making false statements to a financial institution, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. In 2020, Benlevi submitted 27 applications for forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, prosecutors said.
21st Jul 2022 - Associated Press


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Bring Covid curbs back AGAIN, say top medical journals: Editorial calls for new clampdown on Britons

No10 has batted away calls to bring back pandemic-era curbs in response to soaring infections. Surveillance models suggest 3.5million people in the UK (one in 20) people were infected in week to July 6. But editors of two health publications accused Government of 'gaslighting' public about threat Covid poses. They say it is time to face the fact that attempt to 'live with Covid' is 'straw that is breaking the NHS's back'. Authors blame 'failure to recognise that the pandemic is far from over' and call for return of virus curbs. Face masks, free Covid tests for all, WFH guidance and restrictions on social gathering should return, they say
20th Jul 2022 - Daily Mail

S.Africa arrests 13 police officers over lockdown violence

South Africa’s police watchdog said Tuesday it arrested 13 officers over the death of a man in custody, the first major breakthrough in several cases of alleged brutality during the Covid lockdown. The man, who has not been named, was held along with three others in April 2020 in a Johannesburg suburb for breaching lockdown rules, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said in a statement. He was then allegedly assaulted by the police officers and members of a private security firm, before being taken to a police station, where he complained about stomach pains, it said. “An ambulance was called in, the paramedics declared the one civilian dead,” the police watchdog said in a statement, adding that a murder investigation was subsequently opened.
20th Jul 2022 - Macau Business

Cyprus president tests positive for COVID-19, mild symptoms

The president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, has tested positive for the coronavirus, a government official said Tuesday. Government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said Anastasiades tested positive during routine testing. Pelekanos said Anastasiades has exhibited mild symptoms and his condition is considered very good. In line with existing protocols, the president cleared his schedule, including commemorations of the 48th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, an event that cleaved the east Mediterranean island nation along ethnic lines. According to Health Ministry figures, Cyprus had a 12.6% coronavirus infection rate between July 8 and July 14. The country reported 7 COVID-19-related deaths during the same period for an overall death toll of 1,086 since the start of the pandemic.
20th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Jan. 6 panel chairman has COVID, prime-time hearing still on

Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee, has tested positive for COVID-19, but the panel will still hold its prime-time hearing on Thursday, according to a spokesman for the panel. Thompson, D-Miss., announced Tuesday that he tested positive for the virus on Monday and is experiencing mild symptoms. Thompson, 74, said he will be isolating for the next several days, but Jan. 6 committee spokesman Tim Mulvey said the committee’s eighth hearing this summer will proceed. He did not say if Thompson will participate virtually. The news of Thompson’s diagnosis comes as the nine-member panel is preparing for the hearing, which is expected to focus on what President Donald Trump was doing in the White House on Jan. 6, 2021 for several hours as his supporters were breaking into the Capitol and interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
20th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press

Authorities in south China city apologise over COVID-19 break-ins

Authorities in southern China have apologised for breaking into the homes of people who had been taken to a quarantine hotel in the latest example of heavy-handed virus-prevention measures that have sparked a rare public backlash. State media said that officers had forced their way into 84 homes in an apartment complex in Guangzhou city’s Liwan district in an effort to find any “close contacts” hiding inside and disinfect the rooms. The front doors were later sealed and new locks installed, according to the Global Times tabloid. The Liwan district government apologised on Monday for such “oversimplified and violent” behaviour, the paper said. An investigation has been launched and “relevant people” will be severely punished, it added. China’s leadership has maintained its “zero-COVID” strategy despite the disruption to the lives of residents who are subjected to regular testing and quarantines, and mounting economic costs.
20th Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Faulty Covid Gear May Cost UK Taxpayer £2.7 Billion, Report Says

The UK has made little progress in settling disputes with suppliers of personal-protective gear that turned out to be of little use in the pandemic, potentially wasting as much as £2.7 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) in taxpayers’ money. The country’s department of health and social care is left with “billions of items that are unusable or not needed,” some of which will just have to be incinerated, according to a parliamentary report released Wednesday. Meantime, these products cost £7 million a month to store. The quality issues, lack of supervision and fraud by some suppliers is coming under scrutiny as lawmakers investigate how Boris Johnson’s government handled the pandemic.
20th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

GOP senator declares ‘pandemic is over’ despite rise in cases across US from dangerous Covid variant BA.5

Tennessee senator Marsha Blackburn has been rebuked online after she claimed Covid-19 was “over” amid a new spike in cases. “What we know is the pandemic is over,” she told Fox News on Tuesday morning. “You can get on a plane, you can go without a mask, people are back to work”. The Republican continued her Fox News appearance by attacking the Biden administration for continuing to oversee the pandemic response at the federal level and added: “This White House wants to declare the pandemic in effect against our US military.” It was unclear what her comments were specifically in response to, although Republicans have long complained about military members being mandated to be vaccinated against Covid.
12th Jul 2022 - The Independent on MSN.com


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In Prolonged War Against Covid, China’s Economy Is a Victim

Article reports that China’s daily Covid-19 tally hit a seven-week high, with growing outbreaks in key transit hubs in Henan and Guangdong provinces adding to the gloomy prospects for the country’s economy on the same day it posted a sharper-than-expected slowdown in growth. The 419 new locally transmitted infections China reported on Friday were the most since May 24. Almost 40% were from Guangxi province, where cases jumped to 165 from just 25 on Thursday, National Health Commission data show.
16th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China's zero-COVID policy blamed as economy contracts by 2.6% in second quarter

China's zero-COVID policy is being blamed for a return to the red for its economy, with experts warning that recovery will be hampered by the darkening outlook for output globally. The authorities said the world's second-largest economy contracted by 2.6% between April and June compared to the previous three months. It meant that Chinese growth stood at just 0.4% on an annual basis. Both figures were far weaker than economists had expected, with those polled by the Reuters news agency having forecast a quarter on quarter decline of 1.5%.
15th Jul 2022 - Sky News


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Ombudswoman says missing EU Pfizer vaccine deal texts are "wake-up call"

The European Union's ombudswoman criticised the European Commission for failing to find and publish text messages between the executive's president, Ursula von der Leyen, and the head of Pfizer negotiating a massive COVID-19 vaccine deal. The Commission said last month that it no longer has the texts that led to the biggest contract ever for COVID vaccines in which the EU committed to buying 900 million Pfizer-BioNTech shots, with an option for another 900 million.
14th Jul 2022 - Reuters.com

4,000 lockdown fines are dropped by Met

About 4,000 Covid fines handed out by the Metropolitan police during the pandemic were abandoned before cases were brought to court. The Met used the emergency laws more than any other force in the past two years, issuing over 16,500 fixed penalty notices to Londoners suspected of attending illegal gatherings, breaking lockdown rules, not wearing a mask or ignoring the need to self-isolate. Scotland Yard said 56 per cent of the fines were paid up front, leaving several thousand people at risk of criminal prosecution.
14th Jul 2022 - Yahoo News UK

For China’s nightlife scene, ‘zero COVID’ an unceasing ordeal

Ai Jing, a concert booker in Beijing, often feels like business never has a chance to pick up from the latest COVID-19 curbs before another round of restrictions brings operations grinding to a halt. Ai, who runs the concert booking agency Haze Sounds, struggles to find musicians these days since a ban on live events in the capital introduced in April forced many of them out of the business.
14th Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Trump's credibility 'unravelled' after claiming bleach could cure COVID, top US doctor says

The leader of the US COVID taskforce has revealed how the government's credibility "unravelled" after President Donald Trump claimed bleach could combat the virus. Dr Deborah Birx, who served as White House coronavirus response coordinator in the Trump administration between 2020 to 2021, told Sky News there was a "failure" in providing "clear and consistent communication" to the American public during the pandemic. Mr Trump made the widely condemned remark after a study was conducted to establish the effect of sunlight compared to disinfectant on playground equipment.
14th Jul 2022 - Sky News


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Three million people in England yet to get a Covid jab

Three million people remain unvaccinated against Covid as MPs call for renewed push on vaccine roll out. The Public Accounts Committee warned on Wednesday many of the unvaccinated individuals are “young city-dwellers” with just five cities accounting for a quarter of those not jabbed. MPs warned people remain at risk of death and hospitalisation, calling for the NHS and public health authorities to “redouble” efforts on vaccinations.
13th Jul 2022 - The Independent


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Long Covid Patients Leave UK to Seek Unproven Cures, Report Says

Thousands of UK patients with long Covid are leaving the country to seek expensive unproven treatments such as “blood washing” abroad, according to a report. Many travel to private clinics in Cyprus, Germany and Switzerland for apheresis -- a blood-filtering procedure -- and anti-clotting therapy, according to the investigation published Tuesday in the BMJ medical journal. One patient reported paying more than 50,000 euros ($50,185) for apheresis, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and an intravenous vitamin drip at a center in Cyprus and returning home with no improvement. Researchers are still puzzled as to the exact cause of long Covid, which can appear with vastly different effects in various groups of patients.
13th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

When it comes to Covid, Australia must confront reality – not choose between extremes

It finally got me: double lines on a Rat, summoning 24 hours of denial and then a week of surrender to the global plague that has stopped the world in its tracks. In my Covid fug I contented myself that I was not 10 years older, or immunocompromised, or a person with a disability, at the same time praying I would not become one of the one in 20 who draw the short straw in long-Covid Lotto. As I gave myself over to the virus, the death toll in Australia jumped over the 10,000 mark, a remarkable increase of almost 8,000 since the start of the year, although a mere drop in the ocean compared with the official global death toll of 6.35 million.
12th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

Long Covid patients urged to only access treatment through regulated clinical trials

Hong Kong’s new health chief said conditional quarantine-free travel could be allowed by November in time for a global bankers’ summit to be held in the city, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday. The city doesn’t need to follow mainland China’s tough Covid-19 policies because it enjoys some degree of freedom under the “one country, two systems” principle, Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau said in an interview with the newspaper.
12th Jul 2022 - ITV News


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Large Chinese Bank Protest Put Down With Violence

Hundreds of bank customers demonstrating over frozen deposits were attacked by men in plainclothes in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou, marking a violent end to one of China’s largest public protests in recent years. Images of the clash, which was widely videotaped, spread quickly enough on Chinese social media to outrun the country’s army of internet censors, sparking a wave of online criticism. Video footage verified by The Wall Street Journal with protesters who were present on Sunday showed large numbers of unidentified men, many of them dressed in white T-shirts, barreling into peaceful crowds demonstrating on the steps of the local branch of China’s central bank. The clash resulted in several injuries, according to the protesters, who said they were themselves beaten by the men in plainclothes.
11th Jul 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Biden Administration to Again Extend the Covid Public-Health Emergency

The US government will once again extend the Covid-19 public health emergency, continuing measures that have given millions of Americans special access to health insurance and telehealth services. The Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly renewed the emergency since it was originally declared in January 2020, with the most recent extension set to expire July 15. The next extension is expected to take effect Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. HHS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
11th Jul 2022 - Bloomberg

Pandemic inquiry must question vaccine priorities | Scotland

In November 2020 the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended priority vaccination against Covid-19 for key staff in education, municipal services, food, transport and the police. France had similar priorities while some US states also put teachers at the front of the queue. Scotland should have adopted a system based on the best international information to limit the pandemic’s toll. The country’s independent Covid inquiry has indicated that vaccine strategies will be investigated. Scotland’s prioritisation appears to have been based on a mixture of scientific evidence, lack of evidence and the possible political ramifications of taking more radical or rapid decisions.
11th Jul 2022 - The Times

Health experts say COVID-19 complacency has restricted freedoms of the immunocompromised and elderly

Australia's COVID hospitalisation rates have spiked back to February highs. Federal Health Minister Mark Butler has shot down any reintroduction of mask mandates. Health experts say Australia's COVID complacency is leading to higher transmission rates
11th Jul 2022 - ABC News

‘They gave her a bed to die in’: family of woman with Down’s Syndrome denied intensive care seek answers from Covid-19 inquiry

It was not until more than a year later, when they received her medical records, that the family made a crushing discovery. These suggested that, despite Susan being in good health and responding well to initial treatments, doctors at Barnet hospital had concluded she wouldn’t pull through. When Susan was first admitted on 27 March 2020, a doctor had written in her treatment plan: “ITU (Intensive therapy unit) review if not improving”, indicating he believed she might benefit from a higher level of care. But as her oxygen levels fell and her condition deteriorated, the 56-year-old was not admitted to the intensive unit. Instead she died in her bed on the ward without access to potentially life-saving treatment others received. In the hospital records, seen by the Observer, the reason Susan was excluded is spelled out: “ITU declined in view of Down’s syndrome and cardiac comorbidities.” A treatment plan stating she was not to be resuscitated also cites her disability.
11th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

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.
11th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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Beijing mandates COVID vaccines to enter some public spaces

The Chinese capital has issued a mandate requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they can enter some public spaces including gyms, museums and libraries, drawing concern from city residents over the sudden policy announcement and its impact on their daily lives. The health app that shows a person's latest PCR test results has been updated to make it easier to also access their vaccination status, according to Li Ang, a spokesperson for Beijing’s municipal health commission. The list of public places requiring vaccination does not include restaurants and offices. The mandate will go into effect on Monday, with exceptions available only to those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.
10th Jul 2022 - Yahoo Finance

Argentina president urges unity as anti-government protests build

Parts of the government, including powerful Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, have called for more spending to alleviate the effect of COVID-19 and of the war in Ukraine, which have lit protests in countries globally such as Sri Lanka.
10th Jul 2022 - Al Jazeera English

How will Boris Johnson's handling of the Covid crisis be remembered?

Boris Johnson had been in power for six months when Covid hit Britain and sparked the greatest peacetime crisis in a century. His departure, with the worst of the pandemic surely behind us, means his tenure will be framed by his handling of the virus. To some he got “the big decisions right”. To others he oversaw one of the UK’s worst ever public health failures. Here we look back at the prime minister’s Covid battle and assess how he fared. Clear communication is crucial in a crisis, but confusion undermined public health messaging from the start. In February 2020, days after the UK confirmed its first cases, the government urged everyone to wash their hands regularly. On 3 March, Sage’s behavioural science experts said ministers should advise people to avoid hugging and shaking hands too. If the PM got the memo, he didn’t act on it.
8th Jul 2022 - The Guardian

The pandemic has eroded Americans' trust in experts and elected leaders alike, a survey finds.

As the coronavirus pandemic entered its third year, the American public had lost much of its trust both in public health experts and in government leaders, and was less worried than before about Covid-19, according to a survey conducted in early May and released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Confidence ratings for public health officials, like those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; for state and local elected officials; and for President Biden fell in a range from 43 percent to 54 percent in the survey — much lower than during the early stages of the pandemic.
8th Jul 2022 - The New York Times

After backlash, Beijing drops COVID vaccination mandate for crowded venues

Beijing's city government has dropped plans to allow only vaccinated people to enter crowded venues such as libraries, cinemas and gyms from Monday, following a strong online backlash to the measure announced earlier this week. The mandatory requirement would have marked a rare move in China, where the central government insists on voluntary vaccination and has quickly overruled other attempts by front-line officials to issue compulsory vaccination directives.
8th Jul 2022 - Reuters

UK Labour's Starmer cleared of wrongdoing after lockdown investigation

British opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer was cleared by police of breaking COVID-19 lockdown laws on Friday, having said he would quit his job if he was fined. A day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he would resign following a series of scandals, including repeated lockdown breaches at his Downing Street office, police said Starmer had not broken the regulations. "I've always said no rules were broken when I was in Durham. The police have completed their investigation and agreed: there is no case to answer," Starmer said on Twitter. "For me, this was always a matter of principle. Honesty and integrity matter.
8th Jul 2022 - Reuters

Court: Health care workers in lawsuit must reveal identities

Nine health care workers who sued Democratic Maine Gov. Janet Mills over the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate have until Money to reveal their identities. The workers have so far remained anonymous, but on Thursday, a federal appeals court in Boston rejected a motion by the workers and gave them until Friday to file an amended complaint with their names, the Portland Press-Herald reported. The plaintiffs were later given an extension until Monday. Attorneys for Liberty Counsel, a law firm representing the health care workers, said in a court filing Friday that the one-day extension is needed to give lawyers time to speak with each plaintiff about whether they want to move forward with the lawsuit. The plaintiffs filed their complaint in federal court last August, before the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers at Maine care facilities went into effect on Oct. 20, 2021.
8th Jul 2022 - The Associated Press


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Medical office settles probe over asking workers for relatives' COVID status

A Florida medical practice has agreed to stop asking its employees to provide their family members' COVID-19 test results to settle an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which says the practice is illegal. The EEOC on Wednesday said Brandon Dermatology in Tampa will also review its COVID-19 policies and provide back pay or restore leave time to affected workers. The commission said that asking for employees' relatives' COVID test results violates the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which prohibits employers from asking employees medical questions about family members.
7th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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Goodbye Shanghai: After 16 years, COVID curbs send American family packing

American Heather Kaye and her family, including cat Mochi, are part of a wave of residents departing Shanghai, leaving behind their homes and memories, driven out by two years of strict COVID-19 curbs, including a crushing two-month lockdown. Heather and husband George arrived in Shanghai from New York in 2006 for a one-year adventure, but 16 years later their two-bedroom apartment in Shanghai’s historic former French Concession is the only home their children have ever known.
7th Jul 2022 - Reuters


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Moshe Feiglin: Those under 30 need to avoid COVID-19 vaccine like fire

Former MK Moshe Feiglin, who is currently running for the Likud primaries, told KAN Radio on Tuesday morning that anyone under 30 years old should avoid the coronavirus vaccine "like fire." "We are horrified by the shtuyot (nonsense) that were said by someone with no understanding or knowledge on the topic," the Health Ministry tweeted in response. "It's unfortunate that a man without any professional backing is handing out suggestions based on knee-jerk instincts or delusions while going directly against existing medical knowledge and international studies on the subject, not to mention the instructions of every international organization."
5th Jul 2022 - The Jerusalem Post


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COVID-19 misinformation bolsters anti-vaccine movement

More parents are questioning the necessity of routine vaccinations for young children. Adults are skipping shots as well, even for vaccines with a long safety record. The trend comes amid a wave of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccines that helped to stem pandemic deaths. Politicization of the COVID-19 shots has bolstered the anti-vaccine movement, contributing to the decline in routine immunizations for measles, polio and other dangerous diseases. "They ask if these are truly necessary, or if we can give them at later times," said Jason Terk, a Texas pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
4th Jul 2022 - Medical Xpress

Matt Hancock’s blase attitude to the rise in Covid cases is alarming

“There are some saying that the pandemic is not yet over,” says Hancock. Indeed, the World Health Organization and most credible scientists agree that it is not over. By suggesting that calls for restrictions are scaremongering, Hancock misses the point. Yes, public health policy shouldn’t need to be alarming, but it should include measures to protect the public and help reduce transmission, such as free Covid testing, better sick pay, better ventilation in schools and workplaces, and the reintroduction of masks in medical settings.
4th Jul 2022 - The Guardian


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MorseLife, Florida nursing home, pays $1.7 million after giving donors early access to covid vaccines

The text message from the chief executive of MorseLife Health System, a luxury nursing home in West Palm Beach, Fla., was unambiguous. “Of course go after the billionaires first,” the CEO wrote to the facility’s fundraisers in December 2020, explaining who should get priority for scarce coronavirus vaccine shots intended for residents and staffers. He advised: “Do not be weak be strong you have the opportunity to take advantage of everyone who needs the shot and figure out what they have and what we can go after …” “I’ll go for the billions,” he promised. Eighteen months later, MorseLife has agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle claims that it defrauded a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program that sought to steer limited vaccine doses to the most vulnerable Americans in late 2020 and early 2021, according to the Justice Department, which released excerpts of the text messages.
1st Jul 2022 - The Washington Post

North Korea claims Covid-19 arrived by balloon from South Korea

North Korea claims that “alien things”, apparently carried by balloon across the border from South Korea, caused an outbreak of Covid-19. According to a report in the state media, the outbreak originated in Ipho-ri in Kumgang county, not far from the South Korean border, when two people encountered unspecified objects that were carrying the infection. “It was known that an 18-year-old soldier surnamed Kim and a five-year-old kindergartener surnamed Wi contacted with alien things in a hill around barracks and residential quarters in Ipho-ri early in April,” the Korean Central News Agency reported. “And they showed the clinic features, to be estimated as early symptom of the epidemic infection, and tested positive for novel coronavirus.”
1st Jul 2022 - The Times

North Korea blames 'alien things' near border with South for COVID outbreak

North Korea claimed on Friday that the country's first COVID-19 outbreak began with patients touching "alien things" near the border with South Korea, apparently shifting blame to the neighbour for the wave of infections in the isolated country. Announcing results of an investigation, the North ordered people to "vigilantly deal with alien things coming by wind and other climate phenomena and balloons in the areas along the demarcation line and borders," the official KCNA news agency said. The agency did not directly mention South Korea, but North Korean defectors and activists have for decades flown balloons from the South across the heavily fortified border, carrying leaflets and humanitarian aid. South Korea's unification ministry, handling inter-Korean affairs, said there was "no possibility" of the virus entering the North through leaflets sent across the border. According to KCNA, an 18-year-old soldier and a five-year-old kindergartner who contacted the unidentified materials "in a hill around barracks and residential quarters" in the eastern county of Kumgang in early April showed symptoms and later tested positive for the coronavirus.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Supreme Court nixes religious challenge to New York vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to hear a challenge to New York's mandate that healthcare sector workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 brought by a group of doctors, nurses and others who objected on religious grounds.
1st Jul 2022 - Reuters


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COVID-19: Piers Corbyn fined for illegal gatherings held during lockdowns

Jeremy Corbyn's brother has been fined for holding illegal gatherings during coronavirus lockdowns. Piers Corbyn has campaigned against vaccines, face masks and COVID restrictions throughout the pandemic. The 75-year-old was found guilty of holding, or helping organise, a gathering of more than 30 people in Trafalgar Square in August 2020. Another illegal gathering that flouted COVID rules happened in the same place in September 2020, and in Westminster a month later.
30th Jun 2022 - Sky News

S.Korea says leaflets sent by defectors unlikely to be cause of COVID in N.Korea

South Korea's unification ministry said on Friday there is "no possibility" of COVID-19 entering North Korea via contaminated balloons sent by activists in the South. North Korea said earlier in the day the country's first outbreak began with patients touching "alien things" near the border with South Korea, apparently shifting blame to its neighbour for the wave of infections that hit the isolated country.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters

N.Korea blames 'alien things' near border with S.Korea for COVID outbreak

South Korea's unification ministry said on Friday there is "no possibility" of COVID-19 entering North Korea via contaminated balloons sent by activists in the South. North Korea said earlier in the day the country's first outbreak began with patients touching "alien things" near the border with South Korea, apparently shifting blame to its neighbour for the wave of infections that hit the isolated country.
30th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Elmo gets coronavirus shot, sparks another Muppet feud with Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shared the clip on Twitter — and blasted the popular PBS/HBO children’s show for allowing Elmo to “aggressively advocate for vaccinating children UNDER 5.” He added: “You cite ZERO scientific evidence for this.” The internet was quickly filled with comments on Cruz vs. Elmo, with one person tweeting: “I’m here for the right-wing meltdown because a puppet got vaccinated.”
29th Jun 2022 - The Washington Post

Covid-19: Paris court rules French govt did not stock enough masks in 2020

A Paris court ruled on Tuesday that the French government failed to sufficiently stock up on surgical masks at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and prevent the virus from spreading. The ruling came as the number of registered infections with coronavirus variants rises sharply. It wasn’t immediately clear if the decision will lead to any specific sanctions for the government. Officials across France are contemplating new measures, including an indoor mask mandate in some cities, to curb the spread of the virus but keep the economy open amid the summer tourism season.
29th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Delayed public inquiry into UK’s Covid-19 response opens

The delayed public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been launched after Boris Johnson accepted calls to widen the terms of reference to consider its unequal impact on minority-ethnic people, on children and on mental health. The inquiry chair, Heather Hallett, and her team of 12 QCs have begun work under the terms of the Inquiries Act, which makes it an offence to destroy or tamper with evidence. She will be joined by two panellists to be appointed by Johnson, although she had argued for presiding alone. The launch of what is expected to be one of the largest public inquiries conducted in the UK comes days after campaigners for the bereaved threatened legal action against the government over the delay to the prime minister’s commitment to set the inquiry up in spring 2022.
29th Jun 2022 - The Guardian


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Taiwanese drinks shop owners jailed for up to 7 months over social media posts calling on others to flout Hong Kong’s Covid-19 curbs

The owners of a Taiwanese drinks shop in Hong Kong have been jailed for up to seven months under a colonial-era sedition law for inciting others to flout public health curbs and refuse Covid-19 vaccines. A magistrate hand-picked by city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to oversee national security proceedings convicted the two women at West Kowloon Court on Tuesday upon their admission to a joint count of doing an act or acts with a seditious intent. Chinese University student Hau Wing-yan, 24, and Lam Yuen-yi, 21, were the administrators of an Instagram account for the now-defunct Ascohesion Cheese Tea shop in Mong Kok when nine posts criticising the government's anti-pandemic measures and vaccines were published on the platform between February 9 and 17 this year.
28th Jun 2022 - South China Morning Post on MSN.com

U.S. appeals court vacates federal vaccine mandate pending additional hearing

A U.S. appeals court panel said on Monday it would convene a full panel to reconsider President Joe Biden's executive order requiring civilian federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and set aside the order pending that hearing. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is based in New Orleans, had reinstated the vaccine order in April by a 2-1 vote after it was blocked by a district court judge in January.
28th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Legal challenge underway over Covid vaccine rollout for children

A judicial review of the Government's vaccine rollout for children aged 5-11 has begun today at the High Court in Wellington. A group of parents - all of whom have name suppression - are seeking a judicial review on the basis that the provisional consent process for the children's vaccine was flawed and illegal. They claim the Government cut corners in its decision to expand the rollout to children and ignored concerns about the adverse side effects of the vaccine.
27th Jun 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Novak Djokovic won’t get Covid vaccine to enter US Open

Novak Djokovic remains adamant he won’t get vaccinated against Covid even if it means he misses the upcoming US Open later this year. The 35-year-old Serb missed the Australian Open after being deported for not having been vaccinated and will not be allowed to compete at the US Open for the same reason.
27th Jun 2022 - The Independent

Censors delete discussion of Beijing’s future COVID control

Digital censors quickly deleted a hashtag “the next five years” Monday as online discussion swirled in response to reported remarks of Beijing’s Communist Party secretary saying that the capital city will normalize pandemic prevention controls over the course of the next five years. Beijing’s Communist Party chief, Cai Qi, made the remarks Monday morning as part of a report on the Party’s management of the city. The citywide party congress is held once every five years, ahead of the national level party congress, which is slated for this fall. At the congresses, members generally review the work of the past five years while also announcing goals for the next five years. “In the next five years, Beijing will resolutely, unremittingly, do a good job in normalizing pandemic prevention controls,” according to a cached version of the remarks in Beijing Daily, the main Communist Party mouthpiece in the capital city.
27th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press


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NZ coach, 2 players have COVID-19 ahead of 1st Ireland test

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster, assistant John Plumtree and two leading players have tested positive for COVID-19, severely disrupting the team’s preparation for Saturday’s first rugby test against Ireland. Foster and Plumtree are isolating at home and midfielders Jack Goodhue and David Havili haven’t joined the team in Auckland where the test will be played in front of a sellout crowd at Eden Park. Goodhue and Havili both had strong chances of being named in the New Zealand lineup for the first test of a three-test series. Assistant coaches Scott McLeod and Brad Mooar will take charge of the team in the lead-up to the match while Crusaders center Braydon Ennor has joined the squad to provide midfield cover.
26th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Team India captain Rohit Sharma tests positive for Covid-19

If KL Rahul’s groin injury that ruled him out of the England Test at Edgbaston from July 1 wasn't enough of a setback, India’s problems at the top of the order have compounded after skipper and fellow opener Rohit Sharma tested positive for Covid-19 in a Rapid Antigen Test on Saturday. He is in isolation at the team hotel in Leicester, a BCCI statement said. While his RT-PCR test result is awaited, his participation in the decider—India lead the series 2-1 after the fifth Test was postponed last year—is touch and go. Sharma batted in the first innings of India’s warm-up game against Leicestershire—it ended in a draw on Sunday—and scored 25, but he didn’t take the field thereafter.
25th Jun 2022 - Hindustan Times


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Grocery chain Publix refuses to offer Covid-19 vaccines to children under five

Federal authorities have finally expanded access to Covid-19 vaccines to children age six months to five years, but the major grocery chain and pharmacy retailer Publix will not offer vaccinations to the nation’s youngest children at its more than 1,200 US stores. The Florida-based chain said it will not administer vaccines to young children “at this time” but has not released a statement explaining its decision. Florida has overseen a complicated vaccine rollout for young children as the Food and Drug Administration and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prepared to expand access to vaccines more than a year after they became widely available for adults. State officials including the state’s surgeon general cast doubt on the efficacy of vaccines and clashed with federal guidelines and guidance from medical experts, among others. Florida was also the only state that did not preorder vaccines for children under 5, which the White House warned could stall deliveries to medical providers in the state for those who did wish to inoculate their children.
23rd Jun 2022 - The Independent


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SA parents with children under care of Department for Child Protection lose bids to prevent them getting COVID-19 vaccine

A man has lost an appeal to the Supreme Court to prevent his daughter being vaccinated by the Department for Child Protection. He also lost a separate application for an injunction against the vaccine being administered earlier this year A mother has also lost a bid to prevent her child in state care being vaccinated
21st Jun 2022 - ABC News

Twitter Accounts Hyped Company Seeking Covid Vaccine Trials

A network of Twitter accounts pushed messages to boost the share price of a biotech company as it sought approval to run a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, according to research provided to Bloomberg News. The tweets promoted stock for Ocugen Inc., which is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, at rates well above market value, according to research by Alethea Group, a startup that tracks disinformation. The company’s share price nearly doubled in a little more than a week. The findings suggest a coordinated social media effort to sway interest in an otherwise little known medical technology company, according to Lisa Kaplan, Alethea Group’s founder and chief executive officer.
21st Jun 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-19: Trainee police officer drew red lines on lateral flow test in bid to stay home from work

A trainee police officer tried to fake having COVID-19 by drawing red lines on a lateral flow test, a tribunal has heard. In a bid to stay home from work, Ahmed Anwari told his training officer last December that he could not come in because of a positive lateral flow test result. But his ruse was uncovered when he was asked to send a photograph of the result as proof and it became "clear that the test had been manually altered with drawn red lines", his disciplinary was told. The Lancashire Constabulary officer was then invited to take a coronavirus test on a Microsoft Teams meeting in which he again falsely claimed the result was positive.
21st Jun 2022 - Sky News

COVID mistakes can't be repeated this winter, says German hotel industry

German hotels are still limping towards recovery after the pandemic, and lawmakers need to prepare now to be ready for the coming winter, said the head of the DEHOGA hospitality body. Despite pent-up demand, the industry is facing a possible third year of losses in 2022, with 57% of businesses reporting lower sales last month compared with pre-crisis May 2019, said DEHOGA president Guido Zoellick at a news conference on Tuesday.
21st Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Boris Johnson breaks promise to deliver 100 million Covid vaccines to poor countries

The government has broken its promise to deliver 100 million surplus Covid vaccines to poor countries, after sharply cutting international aid spending. At a G7 meeting in June last year, Boris Johnson pledged to send the vaccines to developing countries within a year to help close the global vaccine gap and “vaccinate the world”. But a year later the government has delivered barely a third of the number of promised jabs, with just 36.5 million deployed as of the end of May – a deficit of 63.5 million doses. Figures published by the government also show that ministers have effectively charged developing countries for the leftover jabs by deducting them from existing aid, and even added a mark-up on the UK’s original purchase price.
18th Jun 2022 - The Independent

COVID vaccine injury plaintiffs face long odds in U.S. compensation program

“I thought it would be impossible to deny me.” That’s what Cody Flint, who used to work as a crop duster in Mississippi, said he expected when he filed a claim with an obscure government tribunal that provides compensation for COVID-19 vaccine-related injuries. Flint, 34, told me that he submitted hundreds of pages of supporting material, including reports from four doctors who attributed his episodes of vertigo, headaches, and partial loss of hearing and eyesight -- afflictions that have ended his career as a pilot, at least for now -- to a rare side-effect of the Pfizer vaccine.
16th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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'Anti-vaxxer' hurled rocks at Covid vaccine centres after seeing 'evidence on the internet'

A Warrington man hurled stones through windows at two vaccination centres injuring a security guard as part of an "anti-vaxx" campaign. Conspiracy theorist Paul Edwards, 58, struck in December last year at the centres in North Wales, where he was staying with his father after being kicked out of the marital home in Cheshire. Edwards was found guilty of two counts of damaging property at Mold Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday), after the attacks in Llandudno and St Asaph. He told the court he believed his actions were a "last chance" to get his anti-vaccination message across, reports WalesOnline.
16th Jun 2022 - Liverpool Echo

Tasmanian government spent $700k on COVID-19 hotel — only for it to never be used

The hotel was refurbished to be used as a COVID case management facility, but it was deemed unsuitable due to storm damage. Opposition Leader Rebecca White said the state government needed to try to recoup taxpayer money spent Deputy Premier Michael Ferguson said the facility was selected by the Health Department and he was not aware of who owned it
16th Jun 2022 - ABC News

Covid care home restrictions in Scotland caused harm, says report

Severe restrictions imposed on care home residents in Scotland during the Covid pandemic caused "harm and distress" and may have contributed to some deaths, academics have said. A 143-page report has been produced by Edinburgh Napier University. It had been commissioned by the independent inquiry into the country's handling of the pandemic. The report says that the legal basis for confining residents to their rooms and banning visitors was "unclear". And it said care home residents were arguably discriminated against compared to other citizens.
16th Jun 2022 - BBC News


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Fauci tests positive for COVID-19

Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday but is experiencing “mild symptoms,” the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said. “He is fully vaccinated and has been boosted twice,” the agency said. “He is currently experiencing mild symptoms. Dr. Fauci will isolate and continue to work from his home. He has not recently been in close contact with President Biden or other senior government officials.”
15th Jun 2022 - The Hill on MSN.com

Hong Kong police chief defends enforcement of Covid-19 rules

The head of the Hong Kong Police Force has defended officers’ enforcement of Covid-19 rules while attending a district council meeting on Tuesday. After the meeting, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu told the press that the Force would reach “total mobilisation” for the 25 anniversary of the city’s handover to China, and that a new counter-terrorism reporting hotline had already received more than 1,000 calls. Siu attended the North District Council meeting to brief councillors on crime data in the district. He was also asked to explain the relationship between police enforcement actions and control of the disease and the effectiveness of anti-epidemic work in the North District, according to the meeting’s agenda.
15th Jun 2022 - Hong Kong Free Press


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UK pubs giant takes on insurer trio in $1.2 bln COVID trial

Britain's biggest pubs group Stonegate, which is suing Zurich Insurance and two peers for 1 billion pounds ($1.2 billion) over lockdown losses, battled the COVID-19 pandemic "day by day, venue by venue", a London trial heard on Monday. Ben Lynch, a lawyer for Stonegate, said the company's 760 insured pubs, bars and night clubs at the centre of the case had each faced separate challenges, opening and shutting at differing times according to regional rules - and seeing business drop by up to 90% below projections.
14th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Congress examines fraud in pandemic aid for small businesses

The U.S. failed to take basic steps at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to prevent fraud in a federal aid program intended to help small businesses, depleting the funds and making people more vulnerable to identity theft, the chairman of a House panel examining the payouts said Tuesday. Democratic Rep. James Clyburn blamed the Trump administration for the problems in the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration, amid revelations that as much as 20% of the money — tens of billions of dollars — may have been awarded to fraudsters. Clyburn said the Biden administration has implemented measures to identify potential fraud and directed loan officers to address indications of fraud before approving loans, while Congress has invested in fraud prevention and accountability.
14th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press


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US Sen. Wicker of Mississippi again tests positive for COVID

Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi has again tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Monday. His communications director, Phillip Waller, said Wicker took a required test and received a positive result. “He will be expected to miss votes and committee business this week until he is able to return in person to the Senate,” Waller said. Wicker, 70, attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in late May. Wicker was also diagnosed with COVID-19 in August last year and in February this year. He said in February that he is fully vaccinated against the virus.
13th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Philippine officials, governor clash over face mask policy

Philippine officials warned Monday that people can face arrest if they defy a presidential order to wear face masks in public to protect against the coronavirus even in a province where the governor has declared they are optional. Officials asked Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia of central Cebu province to cooperate with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order, but she insisted Monday that her decision to allow people to decide whether to wear masks in public in her province has legal grounds because provincial officials can decide on health issues.
13th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Rolling Stones CANCEL Amsterdam gig after Sir Mick Jagger, 78, tests positive for COVID-19

Sir Mick Jagger , 78, has tested positive for coronavirus , prompting the Rolling Stones to cancel their show in Amsterdam on Monday. The band, which also features guitarist Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood with Steve Jordan on drums, are on their SIXTY tour, which consists of 14 shows in 10 countries across Europe A statement on behalf of the band said: 'The Rolling Stones have been forced to call off tonight's concert in Amsterdam at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, following Mick Jagger testing positive after experiencing symptoms of Covid.' People who have fallen ill with Covid within the last 180 days must demonstrate proof of COVID-19 recovery when entering the Netherlands using the NHS Covid Pass, with the date of issue being more than 11 days ago
13th Jun 2022 - Daily Mail

HHS secretary Becerra tests positive for COVID-19 again

President Joe Biden’s top health official has again tested positive for COVID-19, less than a month after he came down with virus symptoms while on a trip to Germany
13th Jun 2022 - The Independent


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India’s Sonia Gandhi hospitalised with COVID issues

The leader of India’s main opposition party, Sonia Gandhi, has been admitted to hospital in New Delhi with health issues related to COVID-19. Her party tweeted the announcement on Sunday but gave no other details. Gandhi tested positive for COVID-19 on June 2. Italian-born Gandhi, the widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, is the longest-serving president of the Congress Party, which ruled India for decades after its founders led the country to independence from British colonial rule in 1947. Her parliamentarian son Rahul Gandhi also served as the Congress president. Founded in 1885, Congress is India’s oldest political party and dominated the country for decades after independence, led by generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
12th Jun 2022 - Al Jazeera English

New Zealand plans in tatters after Kane Williamson is ruled out with Covid-19

New Zealand saw their hopes of levelling the ongoing series against England suffer a significant setback after Kane Williamson, captain and leading batsman, was ruled out of today’s second Test after contracting Covid-19. Williamson was present at training on Thursday and in an upbeat pre-match press conference extolled the virtues of Test cricket in response to a recent forecast from Greg Barclay, chair of the International Cricket Council, that the format will shrink in future.
10th Jun 2022 - The Guardian

French sports minister tests positive for COVID-19

France's recently appointed sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera has tested positive for COVID-19 and will self-isolate and work remotely for the time being, said the country's sports ministry. Oudea-Castera has had a difficult start to her job, having come under criticism over how France handled last month's Champions League soccer final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, which was marred by crowd disorder.
10th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after the COVID-19 mRNA vaccination in the USA: a cohort study in claims databases

An increased risk of myocarditis or pericarditis was observed after COVID-19 mRNA vaccination and was highest in men aged 18–25 years after a second dose of the vaccine. However, the incidence was rare. These results do not indicate a statistically significant risk difference between mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2, but it should not be ruled out that a difference might exist. Our study results, along with the benefit–risk profile, continue to support vaccination using either of the two mRNA vaccines.
10th Jun 2022 - The Lancet

Covid-19: Unusable PPE worth £4bn will be burned, says spending watchdog

The parliamentary watchdog on public spending has accused the Department of Health and Social Care for England of wasting £4bn of taxpayers’ money on unusable personal protective equipment in the first year of the covid-19 pandemic and of planning to burn much of it to “generate power.” The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee made the claim in its report on the Department of Health and Social Care’s accounts for 2020-21, the first year of the pandemic. The report paints a damning picture of the fallout from the government’s rush to compete with the rest of the world to procure PPE, bypassing the usual due diligence in its race to secure supplies. Of £12bn spent on PPE, £4bn was spent on items that failed to meet NHS standards and have remained unused, the report said.
10th Jun 2022 - The BMJ


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Over 1500 Kiwis were given compromised Covid-19 vaccines, report finds

More than 1500 people were given Covid-19 vaccinations that had not been monitored properly in cold storage and have been told they will need to be inoculated again. A report commissioned by the Southern District Health Board has found that 1601 compromised vaccine doses were given to 1571 people in the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago area from December 1 2021 to January 28. The recipients of the affected vaccines were informed of the problem in March, and the majority have since had a replacement dose.
9th Jun 2022 - Stuff

Black and Asian frontline staff faced racial harassment during Covid-19 pandemic, watchdog finds

Lower-paid health and social care workers, who played a pivotal front-line role during the Covid-19 pandemic, experienced bullying, racism and harassment at work according to their evidence to an inquiry conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Poor data collection by their employers could also be masking the extent of discrimination against them, the watchdog also found. Job insecurity in the health and adult social care sectors caused fear of victimisation among low-paid ethnic minority staff, particularly if they were to raise concerns, according to the inquiry which was launched in November 2020.
9th Jun 2022 - The Independent


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COVID-19 information on Victorian government websites was often inaccessible, study finds

An education level of year 10 or above would have been required to understand much of the material, the study found. About half of the Australian population reads at an education level of year 10 or below. The state government defended its public health messages, which it said had been critical in reaching high levels of vaccination coverage
8th Jun 2022 - ABC News

Boris Johnson's COVID response 'a joke,' irked airline chief says

A leading airline industry official on Tuesday blasted British politicians for criticizing long airport lines and canceled flights once COVID-19 cases eased and in turn assailed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's own response to the pandemic. “You look at the UK, Boris Johnson, he highlights one of the reasons why he should continue to be prime minister as being the way he handled the pandemic. What a joke. They should have done a hell of a lot better,” Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told the Paris Air Forum.
8th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Vietnam’s health minister arrested over COVID test gouging

Vietnam’s health minister and the mayor of the capital Hanoi have been arrested as part of an expanding investigation into massive price gouging of COVID-19 tests, state media reported. Nguyen Thanh Long was dismissed from his ministry post and Chu Ngoc Anh, who previously was the science minister, was fired as Hanoi mayor, Tuoi Tre online news outlet reported Tuesday. They are being investigated for abuse of power, according to the Ministry of Public Security, and have been expelled from the ruling Communist Party. An investigation concluded earlier that mismanagement in the science and health ministries had allowed Viet A Technology Corporation to inflate prices for test kits supplied to hospitals and health centers in Vietnam.
8th Jun 2022 - The Associated Press

Former St. Louis County top official indicted for alleged COVID-19 funding scam

A former top official at the St. Louis County jail, appointed by County Executive Sam Page, has been indicted. Anthony “Tony” Weaver Sr. turned himself in to federal authorities Tuesday. On May 6, 2020, the indictment alleged that he approached a man who owned several small businesses in St. Louis County with a plan to fraudulently apply for grants from the Small Business Relief Program (SBR) in exchange for a share of the proceeds. Weaver was indicted on May 25, 2022 on four felony counts of wire fraud.
8th Jun 2022 - KFVS12


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Reasons behind COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and efficient strategies to address it

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Olivier Sibomana, an enthusiastic and highly committed medical student at University of Rwanda (UR), college of medicine and health sciences, department of general medicine and surgery. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.
7th Jun 2022 - The European Sting

GOP-appointed judges less likely to require masks during COVID - study

Chief federal district judges appointed by Republican presidents were less likely to require masks in court as a response to COVID-19, but more likely to suspend in-person trials, according to a new study by four law professors. The study, made public Thursday, comes from Adam Chilton of the University of Chicago Law School, Christopher Cotropia of the University of Richmond School of Law, Kyle Rozema of the Washington University School of Law and David Schwartz of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters

U.K. should have done better on COVID-19: IATA director general

A top airline industry official on Tuesday said the U.K. should have responded "a hell of a lot better" to COVID-19 and argued aviation should have been more forceful in challenging government-mandated border closures during the pandemic. Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), also defended airlines' handling of a rebound in traffic that is driving long lines at some airports, while blasting the COVID-19 response of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who survived a confidence vote on Monday
7th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Russian man accused of Alexander Litvinenko killing dies of Covid-19

One of the main suspects in the murder of the former Russian spy and Kremlin critic, Alexander Litvinenko, has died of Covid-19. Dmitry Kovtun was one of two men UK authorities say fatally poisoned Mr Litvinenko in London in 2006.
6th Jun 2022 - BBC News

Princess Charlene becomes latest royal to test positive for Covid-19

Princess Charlene has been back to royal duties for some weeks now, making appearances at the Monaco E-Prix, the Sainte Dévote Rugby Tournament and Monte-Carlo Fashion Week. These days, as we all well know, with a busy schedule comes the ever-pressing threat of contracting Covid-19. Now, after returning to a mixture of events which involve interacting with a variety of people, Princess Charlene has become the latest royal to catch the virus. According to the palace, the princess tested positive for Covid-19 this weekend. A statement released by royal officials divulged that Charlene was ‘presenting some symptoms’ and that the princess would 'observe a period of isolation of several days’.
6th Jun 2022 - Tatler

Uruguay president says COVID-19 positive, will not attend U.S.-hosted Americas Summit

Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou said Monday on Twitter that he will not attend the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas and was "cancelling all of his activities for the coming days" after testing positive for COVID-19. Lacalle Pou was scheduled to travel to the United States Tuesday.
6th Jun 2022 - Reuters

Alleged COVID-19 aid fraudsters targeted youths, Japanese police say

Police believe that individuals who were arrested over alleged fraud related to a government COVID-19 relief aid program, including a Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau official, falsified tax return documents and abused their taxation expertise while taking advantage of young people who were not familiar with the tax system.
6th Jun 2022 - The Japan Times

Covid-19: Doctor who sold hydroxychloroquine as “magic bullet” treatment is jailed

A doctor in California who sold hydroxychloroquine online and told an FBI agent that it was a “magic bullet” for covid-19 has been sentenced to 30 days in prison and a year of home confinement. Jennings Ryan Staley of San Diego offered hydroxychloroquine online in “covid-19 treatment kits” that also contained azithromycin, intravenous drips, and anti-anxiety drugs. Staley’s Skinny Beach Med Spa normally offered what it described as “world class beauty innovations at affordable prices,” including Botox, fat transfer, hair removal, and tattoo removal. But in March 2020, as the pandemic began to claim lives in the US, he moved to capitalise on a surge in demand for hydroxychloroquine, just days after President Donald Trump called the drug a “game changer.” The treatment kits he advertised online came with a 30 day “concierge medical experience,” including a promise of access to medical hyperbaric oxygen for an additional fee. Within a week of starting his new service, Staley had an email from an undercover FBI agent posing as a customer. The agent rang Staley and bought six kits for his family, costing $4000.
6th Jun 2022 - The BMJ

Angry UK lawmakers trigger confidence vote in Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a confidence vote on Monday after a growing number of lawmakers in his Conservative Party questioned the British leader's authority over what has been dubbed the "partygate" scandal. Johnson, who scored a sweeping election victory in 2019, has been under increasing pressure after he and staff held alcohol-fuelled parties in his Downing Street office and residence when Britain was under strict lockdowns due to COVID-19.
6th Jun 2022 - Reuters


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Third of us believe Government is exaggerating number of Covid deaths

A third of UK adults believe the Government is exaggerating the number of deaths from coronavirus, according to a study into Covid-19 misperceptions. A “stubborn minority” still question the scientific consensus on vaccine safety and Government reporting of Covid deaths, researchers from King’s College London found. Some 33% said they believe the Government is inflating the number of deaths from coronavirus, with 54% saying this is false. And one in seven say they do not believe most scientists have reached a consensus that vaccines are safe. Almost three-quarters (74%) recognise this as true, almost as high as the proportion of the Irish population that recognised this (75%). Older people were more likely to believe in the scientific consensus on vaccines than the younger population, the research found.
3rd Jun 2022 - Wales Online on MSN.com

Special Olympics Lifts Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate After Facing Fine

Special Olympics Inc. reversed course and dropped its Covid-19 vaccine requirement for staff and athletes attending the coming games in Orlando, Fla., after state officials there threatened the nonprofit with a $27.5 million fine. Florida’s health department said SOI would be fined $5,000 for every individual asked to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of attending, a Special Olympics spokeswoman said. The group had previously required proof. Its USA Games kick off Sunday and run through June 12. Roughly 5,500 people are expected to attend. Florida passed legislation last year banning businesses and agencies from mandating vaccines. Last October, the health department fined Leon County $3.57 million for requiring county staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
3rd Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Shanghai Residents Revel in Outdoor Walks, Haircuts and More of the Mundane

Residents gathered at the gates of some housing compounds in Shanghai late Tuesday to stage a countdown to midnight, when the city’s government lifted anti-Covid-19 restrictions that had kept them holed up inside their apartments—in many cases for more than two months. Shortly after the deadline passed, a convoy of cars emerged from the gates of one complex, sounding their horns and with national flags draped over their hoods, videos circulating on social media showed. Passengers could be seen standing with their heads out of sunroofs. Firecrackers sparkled in the night sky as a festive mood entered the city after weeks of chaos, frustration and mounting despair. From midnight, the Shanghai authorities said most of the city’s 25 million residents were free to leave their apartments and residential compounds to go to work, with all businesses cleared to resume normal operations. Officials are eager to get China’s most economically important city running again.
2nd Jun 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Legal challenges to Queensland's COVID vaccine mandate get underway

The first of several civil cases, brought on by dozens of Queensland frontline workers who are challenging their COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including police officers and paramedics, begins in Brisbane.
31st May 2022 - ABC.Net.au

Former UK minister says PM Johnson should resign over lockdown parties

Conservative lawmaker Jeremy Wright, a former British minister and attorney general, said on Monday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson should resign, joining a growing number of MPs who have withdrawn their support over the "partygate" scandal. A damning official report published last week detailed a series of illegal parties at Johnson's Downing Street office during COVID-19 lockdowns, prompting a new wave of calls for Johnson to step aside.
31st May 2022 - Reuters UK

German police mount raids in COVID-19 aid fraud probe

Police raided homes and offices in northern and western Germany on Tuesday as part of an investigation into a case involving five men accused of fraudulently applying for 26 million ($28 million) worth of pandemic-linked aid. The German government drew up a series of aid packages to help businesses withstand the impact of lockdowns and other restrictions at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The suspects in this investigation are suspected of making at least 363 aid applications under false pretenses “for their own purposes and for companies that commissioned them,” according to a police statement.
31st May 2022 - Associated Press


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FTSE 100 CEOs Salaries Rebound to Pre-Covid Levels in 2021

Top UK bosses are earning as much as they were before the pandemic after pay packages rebounded from a Covid-driven lull. Overall pay for chief executive officers in the FTSE 100 rose to a median average of £3.6 million ($4.6 million) in 2021, according to research by Deloitte LLP. The revival in higher pay packages was spurred by an increase in annual bonuses and stronger incentives for staff.
30th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Tasmanian MP backs petition questioning COVID-19 masks and vaccinations

A Tasmanian government MP has come under fire for making a "concerning" decision to sponsor a petition to State Parliament containing vaccine-related misinformation. Liberal backbencher John Tucker has sponsored a petition to State Parliament that claims vaccine and mask mandates imposed by the government he is a member of "have not stopped the spread or mitigated the risks of contracting COVID-19 in Tasmania". It also argues that, "there is increasing public concern that vaccinations and masking are unsafe," and calls on the Tasmanian government to lift all vaccination mandates and end mask requirements in schools, medical clinics and transport.
30th May 2022 - ABC News

Queensland's frontline workers begin series of legal challenges to COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The first of several civil cases, brought on by dozens of Queensland frontline workers who are challenging their COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including police officers and paramedics, has begun in Brisbane. More than 70 Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) staff who have refused to comply with their employer's directives, are testing the legality of the policies in the Supreme Court, arguing they are unjust or an improper exercise of power. Some of the applicants, made up of three groups, have also claimed that similar directions made by the state's Chief Health Officer last year breached human rights laws, but that matter will be heard at a later date alongside other similar legal challenges.
30th May 2022 - ABC News

Why some Hongkongers are still shunning Covid-19 vaccines

May 31 vaccine pass deadline means only those with three jabs or suitable exemption will be allowed entry to most venues citywide. Firm belief in personal freedoms, fear of side effects remain key hurdles for inoculation drive.
30th May 2022 - South China Morning Post

Covid inquiry into government's handling of pandemic could start in days

The long-awaited statutory inquiry into how Boris Johnson’s Government handled the Covid pandemic is expected to begin next month, i has learnt. While public hearings of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry are not due to start until next year, its chairman, Baroness Hallett, is ready to formally start work as soon as the Prime Minister approves her request to update the terms of reference. Downing Street sources said this response was likely to come in June – meaning the work could begin as early as this week.
30th May 2022 - iNews

Covid-19: Partygate makes a mockery of the sacrifices made and the losses endured

Almost all of us reading about the tawdry details of “partygate” will have specific memories from the past two years to put the revelry at No. 10 Downing Street into sombre context. Sue Gray’s long awaited report, released last week, detailed the drunken parties and people staggering out in the early hours, the vomit and hangovers, the splashed red wine and empties stacked up outside the door, the karaoke machine, the rudeness to the cleaners, the messages that make it abundantly clear (if proof was needed) that the partygoers knew they were breaking laws they themselves had drawn up. Families separated, funerals missed, partners unable to be present at the birth of their child, children unable to be present at the death of their parent, loneliness, social isolation, depression, anxiety—all the inevitable consequences of following rules laid down for the collective good. I have some of these memories myself, but as the co-founder of John’s Campaign—which was set up to campaign on behalf of the rights of people living with dementia—I have also heard the stories and witnessed the pain and trauma of a particular group of people who suffered greatly during the pandemic, whose health was harmed, whose hearts were broken, and in some cases, whose lives ended because of the rules drawn up under the pandemic.
30th May 2022 - The BMJ


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UK ministerial code updated to set out possible sanctions for breaches

British ministers who breach the government's code of conduct will not be expected to resign, an official document published on Friday said with an updated version of the rule book setting out a range of alternative sanctions. Behaviour at the heart of government is under intense scrutiny after a series of scandals - including several illegal parties in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's offices during the COVID-19 lockdown. The policy paper, published alongside the latest version of the Ministerial Code, said it was "disproportionate to expect that any breach, however minor, should lead automatically to resignation or dismissal"
28th May 2022 - Reuters

Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Ashley Bloomfield tests positive for virus

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has tested positive for Covid-19. The Ministry of Health confirmed Bloomfield tested positive while attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. He tested positive on Thursday and is now self-isolating in Geneva. "This will mean a delay in his return to New Zealand. He is experiencing mild symptoms." Bloomfield was attending the Assembly with Health Minister Andrew Little, who left Geneva earlier this week. Both were following all appropriate health precautions, the ministry said. The World Health Assembly is described as the World Health Organisation's decision-making body, where the WHO's work is reviewed and new tasks assigned.
27th May 2022 - New Zealand Herald

Beijing city offers elderly COVID shot-related health insurance to ease hesitancy

China's capital is offering elderly residents state-backed insurance for "medical accidents" linked to COVID-19 shots to ease vaccination hesitancy among those most vulnerable, as Beijing ramps up inoculations during its worst outbreak. Chinese officials have pointed to relatively lower vaccination rates among the elderly as a key weakness in its "dynamic zero-COVID" strategy. The city of 22 million people had fully inoculated 97.7% of its adult residents as of September last year, but only 80.6% of people aged 60 and over had received their first dose by mid-April this year, according to city officials.
27th May 2022 - Reuters


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South Africa COVID vaccine hesitancy due to side-effect fears- survey

Fears over the possible side effects and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines have been the main drivers of hesitancy among thousands of South Africans, a government-backed online survey showed on Thursday.
26th May 2022 - Moneyweb.co.za

Johnson takes responsibility for lockdown parties

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took full responsibility for a series of boozy parties at his Downing Street official residence during lockdowns, when COVID rules placed severe curbs on socializing outside the home. Lucy Fielder has more.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

Unwanted, Teen Pregnancies Rose During Covid Pandemic

All day long, kids stream in and out of the Tiffany-blue front door at Project Elimu, the premier ballet school in Kibera, a vibrant, low-income community in Nairobi, Kenya. But not all of the school’s visitors are dancers. Some, like 18-year-old Esther, are in acute distress, facing abuse at home or struggling with early pregnancy and parenthood. Esther is one data point in a wave of girls who became pregnant during the pandemic. According to the UNFPA, the United Nation’s sexual and reproductive healthy agency, some 1.4 million women and girls became pregnant unintentionally as a result of contraception interruptions in the first year of the pandemic alone.
26th May 2022 - Bloomberg


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Covid Lockdown Costs Shanghai Its China Currency Trading Crown

The fallout of China’s Covid Zero policy is starting to show in Shanghai’s financial markets, with the city losing its top currency trading hub title for the first time. Shanghai handled fewer currency deals than Beijing in April, to rank second among China’s 36 provinces and municipalities, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. The decline points to another consequence of strict lockdowns and may serve as a case study for the possible implications of movement curbs in major Chinese cities, including Beijing, as Covid cases climb. Traders volunteering to stay in the office, sleeping on trading floors, did little keep up currency volumes. Settlement and sales by banks for their clients, dropped 30% from March to $61.8 billion. That’s 15% of the national tally, compared with a steady share of around 20% before the lockdown, as per data going back to 2019.
26th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Hemmed in by COVID curbs, Beijingers seek respite in urban outdoors

On a hot, sunny day, children and adults splashed in the cool run-off of the Yongding River in a park on the western outskirts of Beijing, a city under near-lockdown in China's head-on battle with COVID-19. While gatherings are discouraged and many parks in the sprawling city of 22 million are shut, Beijingers - like others across China with limited travel options - have taken up outdoor pursuits such as camping and picnicking after more than two years of strict and often claustrophobic pandemic curbs.
26th May 2022 - Reuters

UK report blames "senior leadership" over illegal Downing Street COVID parties

A failure of leadership at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street office was to a blame for a culture that led to illegal parties being held during coronavirus lockdowns, a report by a senior civil servant said on Wednesday. The report by senior official Sue Gray was commissioned by Johnson after revelations of alcohol-fuelled parties at Downing Street when social mixing was all but banned under stringent laws his government had made to curb the spread of COVID-19. "Many of these events should not have been allowed to happen," the report said. "The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture."
25th May 2022 - Reuters

UK PM Johnson has been given report into lockdown parties - Cabinet Office

The civil servant leading investigation into coronavirus lockdown-breaking parties at the Boris Johnson's Downing Street office and residence has passed her official report to the UK prime minister, the Cabinet Office said on Wednesday. "We can confirm that Sue Gray has provided her final report to the Prime Minister," a Cabinet Office spokesperson said. Downing Street is due to publish the report later on Wednesday.
25th May 2022 - Reuters

Drunkenness, vomiting and a scuffle at UK government lockdown parties

A scuffle broke out, one attendee was sick and excessive amounts of alcohol were consumed when workers at Downing Street held a party in the middle of Britain's coronavirus crisis as the rest of the country was observing strict lockdown rules. The incidents happened at a leaving party on June 18, 2020, that began in the Cabinet Room and later moved to the nearby Cabinet Secretary's room with the last member of staff leaving at 3:13 a.m. the following morning. The government's former head of ethics, Helen MacNamara, attended for part of the evening and provided a karaoke machine, according to a report into lockdown breaches at government buildings during the pandemic.
25th May 2022 - Reuters

‘They were laughing at us’: Covid families’ fury at revelations in Sue Gray report

In Britain, families bereaved by Covid-19 have said they are “sickened” by the revelations in Sue Gray’s Partygate report, and have accused Boris Johnson and his staff of “laughing at us”. A group of 4,000 families who lost loved ones from Covid-19 have hit out at the prime minister after his government was guilty of “a serious failure” to abide by the “standards expected of the entire British population”
25th May 2022 - The Independent


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Fresh photos of UK PM Johnson drinking reignite 'Partygate' row

New photographs of Prime Minister Boris Johnson drinking at a leaving party at his Downing Street residence have been published, reigniting opposition accusations that he breached his own COVID-19 lockdown rules. The photographs, obtained by ITV News, were taken at a gathering in honour of Downing Street's outgoing director of communications Lee Cain in November 2020, an event previously investigated by police for potential breaches of the law.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

China's Weibo bans Trip.com co-founder who questioned zero-COVID strategy

A leading entrepreneur in China who had questioned the wisdom of the country's zero-COVID strategy was banned from posting on Weibo, with the social media platform accusing Trip.com co-founder James Liang of violating laws. Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, did not specify which laws Liang had broken, and it was unclear when the ban took effect or what had triggered it. But on Tuesday, online users noticed changes to Liang's account, which has 817,000 followers.
24th May 2022 - Reuters

Boris Johnson did not knowingly lie to parliament about lockdown party, transport minister says

A British minister defended Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday over photographs of him drinking at a coronavirus lockdown-breaking gathering at Downing Street, saying he did not knowingly lie to parliament about the event. New photographs of Johnson drinking at a leaving party in Downing Street in November 2020 were published by ITV News on Monday, reigniting opposition accusations that he breached his own COVID-19 lockdown rules and calls for his resignation.
24th May 2022 - Reuters


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U.S. Justice Department to appeal judge's ruling on COVID border migrant rules

The U.S. Justice Department will appeal a federal judge's decision blocking the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions that empower agents at the U.S.-Mexico border to turn back migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum. "The Department of Justice intends to appeal," spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

Boris Johnson met civil servant to discuss timing of 'partygate' report publication, his spokesman says

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met senior civil servant Sue Gray this month to discuss the timings for publication of a report she had overseen into COVID-19 lockdown-breaking parties at Downing Street, his spokesman said on Monday. The government is expected this week to publish a long-awaited report into the events held at Johnson's Downing Street office during coronavirus lockdowns. Police have handed out 126 fines in connection with the parties.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters

UK report into Downing Street lockdown parties "not very far off," Boris Johnson says

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a report by a senior civil servant into COVID-19 lockdown rule breaches in his Downing Street offices was due to be published soon, and rejected criticism the inquiry was not independent. "I'm not going to comment or give any running commentary on her report until we get it, and I think that to be frank, the moment is not very far off," he told reporters on Monday, referring to the report by senior official Sue Gray.
23rd May 2022 - Reuters


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French Open Updates | Play Starts Without COVID Restrictions

Two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza is out of the French Open in the first round for the second year in a row. Muguruza won the title at Roland Garros in 2016 and was seeded 10th this year but was defeated 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on Sunday. Kanepi turns 37 next month and is the oldest player in the women’s draw in Paris. She is ranked 46th and is participating in her 15th French Open. Her best showings were quarterfinal appearances in 2008 and 2012; she has appeared in seven Grand Slam quarterfinals but never won one. The match ended under a drizzle and Muguruza missed a service return on match point, then cracked her racket against the ground.
22nd May 2022 - Bloomberg

Biden, Yoon vow to deter North Korea and offer COVID aid

President Joe Biden and his new South Korean counterpart agreed on Saturday to hold bigger military drills and deploy more U.S. weapons if necessary to deter North Korea, while offering to send COVID-19 vaccines and potentially meet Kim Jong Un. Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol said their countries' decades-old alliance needed to develop not only to face North Korean threats but to keep the Indo-Pacific region "free and open" and protect global supply chains
22nd May 2022 - Reuters

Biden Says North Korea Hasn't Responded to Offer of Covid Help

President Joe Biden said North Korea hasn’t taken the US up on an offer to provide Covid-19 vaccines, despite an outbreak that a White House official described as worrying. “We’ve offered vaccines, not only to North Korea, but to China as well. We are prepared to do that immediately. We have gotten no response,” Biden told reporters following a meeting Saturday in Seoul with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. The US is concerned about the Covid-19 situation in North Korea and is willing to provide Pyongyang with assistance, a White House official told reporters earlier Saturday.
21st May 2022 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus: Shanghai faces exodus of talent as lockdown dashes workers hopes for good jobs and a better life

Shanghai is facing an exodus of talent and labour as thousands of people leave the pandemic-hit city which has been in total lockdown since April 1, knocked by worries that local authorities will backtrack from plans to switch to normal virus control measures in June after achieving a societal zero-Covid goal. At the city's Hongqiao railway station, passengers have to queue up for two hours before they can even access the terminal. Those who plan on leaving need to show train tickets, approval letters from sub-district authorities and negative nucleic reports within 48 hours of their journey, before gaining permission to enter the terminal. A rapid antigen test is also required at the security checkpoints.
21st May 2022 - South China Morning Post on MSN.com

Dan Andrews hands out more than 50,000 fines to Victorians breaching his hated Covid-19 rules - but most still haven't been paid

More than 50,000 fines have been handed to Victorians for breaching COVID-19 restrictions. Some 5721 people were nabbed for not wearing a face covering, a budget estimates inquiry has been told, while 112 people were caught failing to isolate when required.
21st May 2022 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

Nicola Sturgeon tests positive for Covid-19

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has tested positive for Covid-19. Ms Sturgeon tweeted she had been experiencing mild symptoms on Friday evening. She will work from home over the next few days and told followers she would “hopefully” be back out and about later next week. The First Minister met Sinn Fein vice president and first minister designate of Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, at Bute House earlier on Friday.
21st May 2022 - The Independent

Judge: COVID asylum restrictions must continue on border

Pandemic-related restrictions on migrants seeking asylum on the southern border must continue, a judge ruled Friday in an order blocking the Biden administration’s plan to lift them early next week. The ruling was just the latest instance of a court derailing the president’s proposed immigration policies along the U.S. border with Mexico. The Justice Department said the administration will appeal, but the ruling virtually ensures that restrictions will not end as planned on Monday. A delay would be a blow to advocates who say rights to seek asylum are being trampled, and a relief to some Democrats who fear that a widely anticipated increase in illegal crossings would put them on the defensive in an already difficult midterm election year.
21st May 2022 - The Associated Press

COVID restrictions for migrants at U.S. border can not end yet, judge rules

U.S. authorities were blocked by a federal judge on Friday from lifting COVID-19 restrictions that empower agents at the U.S.-Mexico border to turn back migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum. The nationwide injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Louisiana means the restrictions, which were set to end on May 23, will remain in place across the border as the litigation proceeds, unless a higher court overturns the ruling. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it intends to appeal.
20th May 2022 - Reuters


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Covid-19: Government failed to protect doctors during pandemic, BMA inquiry finds

The UK government failed in its duty of care to protect doctors and other healthcare staff from avoidable harm and suffering in its management of the covid-19 pandemic, a major review by the BMA has concluded. Two reports published on 19 May document the experiences of thousands of UK doctors throughout the pandemic, drawing on real time surveys carried out over the past two years, formal testimonies, data, and evidence sessions. The reports will form part of a wider review by the BMA into the government’s handling of the pandemic, with three further instalments to come. The evidence lays bare the devastating impact of the pandemic on doctors and the NHS, with repeated mistakes, errors of judgment, and failures of government policy amounting to a failure of a duty of care to the workforce, the BMA said.
19th May 2022 - The BMJ

UK's Johnson facing no further action over lockdown parties - BBC

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face any further action over rule-breaking parties held in Downing Street during the coronavirus pandemic, the BBC's political editor said on Twitter on Thursday. Johnson, who has previously apologised after receiving a fine, has dismissed calls to step down over gatherings held in his office and residence, an investigation into which has now been concluded by police
19th May 2022 - Reuters UK


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‘One million empty chairs’: The US families torn apart by COVID

The United States has become the first country in the world to surpass one million deaths from COVID-19. The nation hit the tragic mark on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, renewing a deep sense of grief felt by countless families that have lost loved ones during the pandemic.
19th May 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Inside the US communities where many are still unvaccinated

Holmes County in northeastern Ohio is a typical Midwestern community in the United States. Large red barns dot the rolling landscape. Trucks carrying freshly cut lumber boom through village streets. Woods and lakes dominate the landscape between villages named Berlin, Strasburg and Dresden. But in many ways, this is a place far from typical: At a time when approximately 77 percent of the wider United States population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, only about 19 percent of Holmes County residents have – one of the lowest county-level rates in the country. Approximately half of Holmes County’s 50,000 residents are members of the Amish community, a traditional Christian group that largely eschews modern technology and farms land in rural areas mainly in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
19th May 2022 - Al Jazeera English

North Korean leader Kim slams officials' 'immaturity' in response to COVID outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un slammed his country's response to its first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak as immature, accusing government officials of inadequacies and inertia as fever cases swept the country, state media reported on Wednesday. North Korea reported 232,880 more people with fever symptoms, and six more deaths after country revealed the COVID outbreak last week. It did not say how many people had tested positive for COVID-19.
18th May 2022 - Reuters


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Factbox: COVID-hit Chinese cities seek exit from painful lockdown

Plans by COVID-hit Chinese cities to exit or avoid lockdown are more fraught and uncertain than ever as the pursuit of zero cases grows more prolonged, taxing and complex, with the highly infectious Omicron variant demanding quicker and tougher steps. The lockdowns have led the World Health Organization chief to describe China's zero-COVID goal as unsustainable, but China says its approach will protect the lives of its people and economy in the longer run.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

N.Korean leader Kim slams officials' 'immature' response amid COVID outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un slammed his country's response to its first officially confirmed COVID-19 outbreak as "immature," accusing government officials of inadequacies and inertia as fever cases swept the country, state media reported on Wednesday. North Korea reported 232,880 more people with fever symptoms, and six more deaths after the country's first admission of the COVID outbreak last week. It did not say how many people had tested positive for COVID-19.
17th May 2022 - Reuters

China's Covid Exit Hinges on Seniors Who Don't Want Vaccines

As its Covid Zero lockdowns have become harsher and more economically disruptive, China has repeatedly invoked the specter of millions of vulnerable elderly people dying as justification for its strict virus approach. What remains unaddressed is why, with an abundant supply of homegrown vaccines and vast enforcement power, so many of China’s over-60s remain unvaccinated more than a year after shots became available. China is now paying a price for this vulnerability, with its economy struggling under the weight of chaotic lockdowns and increasingly unpredictable measures aimed at snuffing out all cases and shielding the community.
17th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Students protest, discontent grows over China’s COVID policy

Administrators at an elite Beijing university have backed down from plans to further tighten pandemic restrictions on students as part of China’s “zero-COVID” strategy after a weekend protest at the school, according to students Tuesday. Graduate students at Peking University staged the rare, but peaceful protest Sunday over the school’s decision to erect a sheet-metal wall to keep them further sequestered on campus, while allowing faculty to come and go freely. Discontent had already been simmering over regulations prohibiting them from ordering in food or having visitors, and daily COVID-19 testing.
17th May 2022 - Associated Press


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Tokyo COVID curbs declared illegal in "Kill Bill" restaurant case

Japan's "Kill Bill" restaurant operator prevailed in a court case on Monday that declared Tokyo's now defunct COVID-19 infection curbs were illegal. The orders, enacted in the capital during various states of emergency, included shortened operating hours and a ban on alcohol sales, though there was a compensating government subsidy. Businesses that didn't comply were subject to fines. Global-Dining Inc, which runs more than 40 restaurants, defied the restrictions, taking the city government to court over the matter.
16th May 2022 - Reuters


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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tests positive for COVID

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tested positive for COVID-19 with moderate symptoms, her office said in a statement on Saturday. She will not be in parliament for the government's emissions reduction plan on Monday and the budget on Thursday, but "travel arrangements for her trade mission to the United States are unaffected at this stage," the statement said. Ardern had been symptomatic since Friday evening, returning a weak positive at night and a clear positive on Saturday morning on a rapid antigen test, it said.
14th May 2022 - Reuters

Meatpackers convinced Trump to keep plants running during COVID crisis - report

Article reports that top U.S. meatpacking companies drafted the executive order issued by President Donald Trump in 2020 to keep meat plants running and convinced his administration to encourage workers to stay on the job at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released on Thursday by a U.S. House panel. The report by the House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis details the meat industry’s influence on Trump's White House as it tried to keep production rolling even as employees fell ill.
13th May 2022 - Reuters

Massachusetts to pay $56 mln over deadly COVID outbreak at veterans' home

The state of Massachusetts on Thursday agreed to pay $56 million to resolve a lawsuit by families of veterans who contracted COVID-19 during an outbreak at a veterans' care center that killed 84 people early in the pandemic. The proposed settlement would resolve a pending federal class action lawsuit by families of veterans who died as a result of the 2020 outbreak at Holyoke Soldiers' Home, one of the deadliest to have occurred at a U.S. nursing facility.
13th May 2022 - Reuters


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Opinion | Forget the WHO. India owes its people the truth about covid-19.

In April 2021, the oxygen supply to the intensive care unit of the hospital where Manju Begum was admitted ran out. Manju, just 30, was among 20 patients who died; this was just one case among scores in hospitals across the country. Amid oxygen shortages, hospitals posted desperate SOS messages, families carried bottle-size oxygen cylinders to their relatives, and Sikh gurudwaras that usually feed the poor for free organized oxygen drives instead. Despite this catastrophe, India’s Parliament was informed this year that there was not a single death from oxygen shortage reported by any state during the pandemic. The unforgivable erasure of these covid-19 deaths has been underscored again by the recent dispute between the World Health Organization and the Indian government over exactly how many people died during the pandemic.
12th May 2022 - The Washington Post

Trump officials and meat industry blocked life-saving Covid controls, investigation finds

Trump officials “collaborated” with the meatpacking industry to downplay the threat of Covid to plant workers and block public health measures which could have saved lives, a damning new investigation has found. Internal documents reviewed by the congressional select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis reveal how industry representatives lobbied government officials to stifle “pesky” health departments from imposing evidence-based safety measures to curtail the virus spreading – and tried to obscure worker deaths from these authorities. At least 59,000 workers at five of the largest meatpacking companies – Tyson Foods, JBS USA Holdings, Smithfield Foods, Cargill and National Beef Packing Company which are the subject of the congressional inquiry – contracted Covid in the first year of the pandemic, of whom at least 269 died.
12th May 2022 - The Guardian

UK police recommend more than 100 fines for Downing Street lockdown breaches

British police said on Thursday they had now made more than 100 referrals for fines as part of their investigation into lockdown rule-breaking at gatherings held in Downing Street during the COVID-19 pandemic. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised for receiving a fine in April for breaking lockdown rules by attending a gathering in his office to celebrate his birthday, but has refused to resign over it.
12th May 2022 - Reuters UK

Report criticizes meat industry, USDA response to pandemic

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meat processing industry worked closely with political appointees in the Trump administration to stave off health restrictions and keep slaughterhouses open even as the virus spread rapidly among workers, according to a congressional report released Thursday. The report by the House’s Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis said meat companies pushed to keep their plants open even though they knew workers were at high risk of catching the coronavirus. The lobbying led to health and labor officials watering down their recommendations for the industry and culminated in an executive order President Donald Trump issued in spring 2020 designating meat plants as critical infrastructure that needed to remain open.
12th May 2022 - Associated Press


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China criticises ‘irresponsible' WHO remarks on zero-Covid approach

China has defended sticking to its strict zero-Covid approach, calling critical remarks from the head of the World Health Organisation “irresponsible”. The response from the Foreign Ministry came after WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he had been discussing with Chinese experts the need for a different approach in light of new knowledge about the virus. “When we talk about the ‘zero-Covid’, we don’t think that it’s sustainable, considering the behaviour of the virus now and what we anticipate in the future,” Mr Tedros said. Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a daily briefing on Wednesday: “We hope that relevant people can view China’s policy of epidemic prevention and control objectively and rationally, get more knowledge about the facts and refrain from making irresponsible remarks.”
11th May 2022 - The Irish News

China calls WHO chief 'irresponsible' for saying zero-COVID strategy 'not sustainable'

China hit back on Wednesday against what it called "irresponsible" comments by the head of the World Health Organization, who described the country's uncompromising and increasingly painful "zero COVID" policy as "not sustainable." The policy has placed hundreds of millions of people across dozens of cities under various degrees of movement restrictions, most dramatically in Shanghai, causing significant economic damage in China and beyond and fuelling wide-spread frustration.
11th May 2022 - Reuters


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South Africa Cuts Back Covid Vaccine Drive Amid Citizen Apathy

South Africa is scaling back its Covid-19 vaccination drive and may have to destroy doses because of a lack of demand from citizens even as the country heads into a fifth wave of infections. Take up has slowed to the point where keeping some sites running is unaffordable, said Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general at the department of health and the person in charge of the program. Covid-19 vaccinations will need to be incorporated into South Africa’s standard medical programs, which means these specific shots will be less accessible, he said.
10th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Cancun, Tulum Struggle as Covid Sparks Mexico Travel Boom

It’s 2 p.m. in the Mexican resort town of Tulum, and the beach club at the Ikal Hotel is heating up for its “ecstatic dance” session. Inside a thatch-roofed pavilion, a sweaty crowd bops to a “folktronica” track spun by a DJ whose next stop is Berlin. Down a set of wide stone steps, fit thirtysomethings smack volleyballs on a beach that smells of seaweed and sunscreen. A “treehouse” room will set you back $800 a night, and a bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne sparkling wine runs $110.
10th May 2022 - Bloomberg

Bill Gates Says He's Tested Positive for Covid-19

Bill Gates tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing mild symptoms. The Microsoft co-founder said he would adhere to the advice of medical experts by self-isolating until he is healthy again.
10th May 2022 - Bloomberg


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Liverpool expert warns about 'darknet' covid vaccines

A Liverpool scientist warned against fake covid vaccines advertised on the darknet. Dr Sulaf Assi, a senior lecturer in pharmacy at Liverpool John Moores University, developed a new portable device to detect counterfeit Covid-19 vaccines in "less than a minute". Last year, the NHS urged the public to be wary of 'vaccine fraud', and news outlets reported on fake versions of major Covid-19 vaccines being sold on the darknet, a section of the internet accessible only through specialised software.
9th May 2022 - Liverpool Echo

UK Labour's Starmer to offer to resign if fined for COVID rule breach - Sky News

British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said on Monday he would resign if police decide he broke COVID-19 rules, putting pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson who has refused to step down after he was fined over a lockdown-busting party. After months of Johnson being criticised for attending parties at his Downing Street residence when Britain was in a strict coronavirus lockdown, attention has turned to a gathering Starmer attended last year in the northeast of England. Footage from April 2021 shows him drinking a bottle of beer with colleagues indoors, when such gatherings were banned if not essential for work.
9th May 2022 - Reuters UK


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'Stop asking why': Shanghai tightens COVID lockdown, Beijing keeps testing

Shanghai authorities were tightening the city-wide COVID lockdown they imposed more than a month ago, prolonging into late May an ordeal that China's capital Beijing was desperate to avoid by turning mass testing into an almost daily routine. The commercial hub of 25 million was making a fresh push to bring case numbers outside the areas that were facing the strictest curbs to zero by the second half of May, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
8th May 2022 - Reuters

Shaw says B.C. employees can’t have paid leave for COVID-19 shots

A Shaw Communications employee and his union are speaking out against the telecommunications giant, after it refused to give some of its B.C. workers paid leave to get their COVID-19 vaccinations, citing federal regulations. “I was surprised and dismayed,” said the employee, who has been with the company for more than 10 years, and whose identity CBC News has agreed to keep confidential for fear of retaliation.
8th May 2022 - Rain City

India reports 3,805 fresh COVID-19 cases, 22 fatalities in last 24 hours

India reported 3,805 new coronavirus infections in a day, pushing the number of active cases of the disease in the country to 20,303 and the overall tally to 4,30,98,743, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday. The data released at 8 am also showed that 22 fatalities — 20 of them from Kerala alone — were reported in a 24-hour period, taking the cumulative death toll to 5,24,024. The active cases now constitute 0.05 per cent of the total infections, the health ministry said, adding that the country's COVID-19 recovery rate is at 98.74 per cent. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.78 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 0.79 per cent, the ministry said.
7th May 2022 - Moneycontrol

Moderna Seeks to Dismiss Covid-19 Vaccine Patent Lawsuit

Moderna Inc. is trying to fend off rival companies’ claims that its Covid-19 vaccine infringes their patents, arguing that the companies may only pursue their claims seeking royalties from the federal government. Moderna on Friday filed a motion to dismiss some of the patent-infringement claims in the lawsuit, which was filed in February by two small biotechnology companies, Arbutus Biopharma Corp. and Genevant Sciences GmbH, in federal court in Delaware. It is the latest move in the high-stakes legal battles that are breaking out among companies and the government over patents surrounding Covid-19 vaccines. Arbutus and Genevant claimed in their lawsuit that Moderna’s vaccine has components covered by their patents, and they are seeking royalties from the multibillion-dollar sales of Moderna’s vaccine.
7th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

White House Warns of Fall, Winter Surge Without Additional Covid-19 Funding

The Biden administration estimates 100 million Americans may become infected with Covid-19 in the fall and winter without additional funding to help combat the pandemic and buy new vaccines for a fall booster campaign. The infections would result from a virus that is rapidly adapting and waning natural and vaccine immunity, as well as from lack of money for updating vaccines and for stockpiling tests and treatments, a senior administration official said Friday. The cases would amount to a million a day over the course of three to four months, according to a senior administration official, who shared the estimate as part of a White House push to secure $22.5 billion in new funding to combat the pandemic.
6th May 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Xi Jinping attacks ‘doubters’ as he doubles down on China’s zero-Covid policy

Xi Jinping has confirmed there is no intention to turn away from China’s zero-Covid commitment, in a major speech to the country’s senior officials that also warned against any criticism or doubting of the policy. Addressing the seven-member politburo standing committee, China’s highest decision-making body, specifically about the Shanghai outbreak, the president said China’s response was “scientific and effective”. He told officials to “unswervingly adhere to the general policy of dynamic zero-Covid”. “We have won the battle to defend Wuhan, and we will certainly be able to win the battle to defend Shanghai,” he said, according to a translation by Sinocism’s Bill Bishop.
6th May 2022 - The Guardian

Piers Corbyn fined over ‘murder’ claim at Covid vaccine clinic

Piers Corbyn has been fined £250 after accusing NHS staff at a London Covid-19 vaccination clinic of murdering people. The brother of the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had arrived with a group of anti-vaxxers at Guy’s hospital in central London on 18 January with a “cease and desist” letter that they claimed was to prevent NHS staff from administering the Covid-19 vaccine. Corbyn told Chelsea Butcher, a nursing sister: “We are not leaving, you are murdering people here,” and another member of the group said, “This is a crime scene,” Westminster magistrates court heard. Iestyn Morgan, prosecuting, said Corbyn, 75, and David Burridge, 44, from Hounslow, west London, refused to leave the hospital’s atrium despite requests from NHS staff and police.
6th May 2022 - The Guardian


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Bill Gates opens up on vaccine conspiracy theories: ‘People yell at me that I’m tracking them.’

Bill Gates says people yell at him in the street over conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC on Thursday, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder said: “You almost have to laugh because it’s so crazy.” One particular conspiracy theory that has gained traction over the past two years makes false claims that Gates wants to use mass vaccination to implant microchips into people so that he can track them digitally. Gates has always denied such accusations, which have circulated widely on social media. But Gates’ denial hasn’t been enough to extinguish the theory. In May 2020, a Yahoo/YouGov poll of 1,640 U.S. adults found that almost one in three people believed the debunked microchipping conspiracy theory to be true.
5th May 2022 - Fortune

Recent COVID-19 court cases show New Zealand's Bill of Rights Act is not as strong as some might wish

At the end of April, the High Court found the border quarantine (MIQ) system did work well to protect public health and many of the resulting restrictions on rights were justifiable. However, the court also found the allocation of space in MIQ through a virtual lobby system amounted to an unjustifiable limit on the right of New Zealand citizens to return because it did not prioritise citizens over non-citizens, and it did not prioritise on individual need or delays experienced. What we see in these cases is the New Zealand constitution in action, operating as a system of checks and balances to protect individuals from arbitrary interference by the state. As an aspect of that, the cases show the operation of the rule of law, which means any power exercised by the government has to be based on legal authority and that everyone is subject to the law, whether they are members of the public or politicians.
5th May 2022 - The Conversation

China to fight comments, actions denying its COVID response policy -state media

China will fight any comments and actions that distort, doubt or deny the country's COVID-19 response policy, state television reported on Thursday, after a meeting of the country's highest decision-making body. Relaxing COVID controls will lead to large-scale infections, state television reported, following the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party's politburo, adding that China will step up research into and its defence against virus mutations, and will avoid one-size-fit-all policies.
5th May 2022 - Reuters


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China censors more economists after critical takes on zero-Covid

More outspoken economists and prominent investors are being silenced on social media in China as Beijing tightens its grip on online speech amid mounting economic pressure and growing controversies surrounding its zero-Covid policy. The public accounts of Hong Hao, who was head of research at Bank of Communications (Bocom) International Holdings were removed from both WeChat and the Twitter-like Weibo service on Saturday. Hong had more than 3 million followers on Weibo. It was unclear which red line the economist had crossed.
4th May 2022 - South China Morning Post

Shanghai residents turn to NFTs to record COVID-19 lockdown, combat censorship

Shanghai residents are turning to the blockchain to preserve memories of the city's month-long COVID-19 lockdown, minting videos, photos and artworks capturing their ordeal as non-fungible tokens to ensure they can be shared and avoid deletion. Unable to leave their homes for weeks at a time, many of the city's 25 million residents have been unleashing their frustrations online, venting about draconian lockdown curbs and difficulties procuring food, and sharing stories of hardship, such as patients unable to get medical treatment.
4th May 2022 - CNA

Blinken Tests Positive for Covid-19, Delays China Policy Speech

Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive for Covid-19 and will work from home in the coming days, prompting him to postpone a key China policy speech that had been scheduled for Thursday. Blinken, who attended the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, is fully vaccinated and boosted and is experiencing only mild symptoms, according to a statement Wednesday from State Department spokesman Ned Price. The top U.S. diplomat “has not seen President Biden in person for several days, and the President is not considered a close contact according to guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” Price said. “He tested negative on Tuesday and again as recently as this morning.
4th May 2022 - Bloomberg


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Christiane Northrup, once a New Age health guru, now spreads covid disinformation

For much of the pandemic, there has been a tidy pattern to Christiane Northrup’s days. A retired celebrity doctor with a New Age fandom, she would take her position at a sunny desk in coastal Maine, snap on a camera, and hold forth on spiritual topics such as chakra alignment and energy fields. With a flowery dress and glittering jewelry, she sometimes serenaded her online audience of half a million or so by plucking an enormous harp. Then Northrup would land on a gloomier theme: covid-19. Northrup would claim that the virus was part of a plot involving Deep State brainwashing and treacherous depopulation schemes. She encouraged fans to check out QAnon, called the Centers for Disease Control a “covid death cult,” and described the vaccines as crimes against humanity.
3rd May 2022 - The Washington Post

Japan to review official COVID-19 response, with report expected from June

In Japan, a panel of experts set up by the central government will begin discussions shortly to review its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a report expected as early as June. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he plans to use the outcome of the review by the the eight-member panel to make improvements on the government’s strategy in the fight against the deadly virus. High on the panel’s agenda will be how authorities and hospitals should cooperate. Health care systems have been strained across the country at times during the pandemic, though Japan is among countries with large numbers of hospitals and hospital beds.
3rd May 2022 - The Japan Times

How to Change Your Mind About COVID-19

Dylan Smith watched in dismay. Was everyone else ignoring reality? That March, New York City hesitated to close its schools during the city’s first COVID wave. Smith was horrified. A major pandemic was arriving, and softening its blow would require closing schools, which he believed was the best way to protect kids. “There were a lot of suggestions that kids would be these super–carrier vectors,” he says, “where they would come home and they would infect Mom and Dad and Grandma and Grandpa, and they would infect teachers at school.” Now, two years later, Smith has changed his mind. He thinks schools should’ve reopened much sooner—by early 2021 at the latest. In other words, Smith admits to rethinking one of his positions on COVID-19, an act that sometimes feels as risky as telling 17th-century Florentines that Earth revolves around the sun. Not everyone will agree with Smith’s reassessment. But maybe we can learn something from his willingness to do it.
3rd May 2022 - The Atlantic

Woman says Amazon.com fired her because she got 'long COVID' - lawsuit

A former Amazon.com Inc employee sued the online retailer on Monday, saying it wrongly fired her and demanded she repay wages after she contracted "long COVID." Brittany Hope, 29, a former brand manager for Amazon's fashion line The Drop in Manhattan, is seeking damages for alleged violations of federal, state and New York City disability laws. The Brooklyn resident said she was hospitalized after being diagnosed with the flu on Feb. 3, 2020, four months after being hired, and a few weeks before the coronavirus started taking hold in the United States
3rd May 2022 - Reuters


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COVID threatens new U.S. Senate delays for Biden's Fed, FTC nominees

An effort by U.S. Senate Democrats to move forward on President Joe Biden's nominees for the Federal Reserve and Federal Trade Commission appeared headed for a second week of delay on Monday, after another Democratic lawmaker tested positive for COVID-19. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado said on Twitter that he tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 on Sunday, adding that he would quarantine at home in Denver for the week. "I'm experiencing minor, cold-like symptoms and plan to work virtually," Bennet said.
2nd May 2022 - Reuters

Sharon Osbourne: Ozzy on the Mend After Covid Diagnosis

Sharon Osbourne has thanked fans for their support after her husband Ozzy was diagnosed with Covid, revealing the rocker is "on the mend". The talk show presenter took to Twitter with the news on Saturday, posting a GIF that carried the text: "Thank You for all the well wishes and support! "Ozzy is much better and on the mend!" Osbourne revealed her husband's diagnosis on Thursday and said she was "very worried" about the Black Sabbath star, 73, who has Parkinson's disease.
1st May 2022 - Bloomberg

Expats flee as Shanghai's COVID lockdown drags

Shanghai's heavy-handed COVID-19 lockdown is driving scores of foreign residents to flee the commercial centre, denting the appeal of mainland China's most cosmopolitan city and prompting others to rethink their futures in the metropolis. While no official statistics are available for departures in recent weeks, pet movers, property agents and law firms say they are seeing a sharp uptick in departure queries, while online chat groups swapping advice on how to leave the city amid lockdown curbs have swelled.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

China, North Korea halt border rail crossing over COVID fears

China has suspended cross-border freight train services with North Korea following consultations after COVID-19 infections in its border city of Dandong, the foreign ministry said on Friday. The suspension came within four months after North Korea eased border lockdowns enforced early in 2020 against the coronavirus, measures global aid groups have blamed for its worsening economic woes and risks to food supplies for millions.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Cut off from home, Chinese diaspora frustrated at zero-COVID policy

Beijing's zero-COVID strategy has had dire consequences for the millions Chinese living abroad, most of whom have been unable to see family and friends at home for two years even as the rest of the world eases travel restrictions. Some cannot afford the sky-high cost of flights and others fear getting stuck in harsh lockdown on arrival. All of them are anxious about the well-being of loved ones back in China.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Swiss commandos lose court fight over COVID-19 jabs

Four members of Switzerland's special forces who were fired for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 have lost their bid for reinstatement, a court said on Friday. "By refusing to be vaccinated for no valid medical reason, the four servicemen deliberately put themselves in a position where they could no longer perform their professional duties," the Federal Administrative Court said in a summary of its ruling, which can be appealed at the supreme court.
30th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Republicans Don't Want Ukraine Aid Tied With Covid Bill

President Joe Biden has broad support in Congress for a massive $33 billion Ukraine aid package, but the proposal risks getting tangled in a long-simmering partisan dispute over immigration and Covid-19 funding. The Senate could vote on the emergency spending package next week, but the House will be on recess. Congress could finish by the week of May 9 and send it to Biden for his signature. But if Democrats insist on attaching long-stalled funding for coronavirus vaccinations and treatment to the package, action could be delayed indefinitely. “That’s not going to happen. That’s an awful way to do business,” Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said about combining the two spending requests.
29th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

New Zealanders who couldn't go home in COVID lockdown win case against government

New Zealanders overseas have won a high court victory over border restrictions that left many of them unable to return home during the coronavirus pandemic. New Zealand's COVID-19 policies allowed the country to escape the worst of the virus, keeping cases and deaths relatively low compared to many other countries. But the New Zealand High Court ruled that the system used to allocate places in border quarantine facilities infringed on the rights of some citizens to return home. For most of the period between 10 April 2020 until 28 February 2022, returning citizens had to get a place in hotel isolation (MIQ - managed isolation and quarantine) before they could board a plane home.
28th Apr 2022 - Sky News

COVID-19: What it was really like in care homes as govt found guilty of breaking law during early stages of pandemic

It was the Easter weekend in April 2020 and a clear blue sky and a warm breeze disguised the fact that the nation was in lockdown. A new disease called COVID-19 was spreading fast. Cameraman Andy and I were about to step into a residential nursing home that was in the grip of this virus. I didn't know it at the time but what I was about to witness what would set the tone for a year-long investigation into how COVID killed thousands of elderly care home residents. That weekend, we witnessed staff struggling to find the right personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves and aprons.
28th Apr 2022 - Sky News

Outpouring of Resentment on Chinese Social Media Is Overwhelming Censors

In the early hours of April 14, the Chinese Communist Party’s social media strategy went off the rails. It began when state media accounts on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, promoted the hashtag “The U.S. is the country with the largest human-rights deficit.” Tens of thousands of Chinese internet users turned the accusation around onto Beijing. They criticized not only China’s Covid response of strict stay-at-home orders and minimal financial support for households but also wider social problems: long working hours, high property prices, violence against women, and censorship itself. “Our doors are locked down. Our pets are killed. Our medical resources are wasted so that people with acute illness can’t be treated,” wrote one poster. “The American government is so horrible, I’m so lucky to be born in China,” read a typically ironic post.
27th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Apr 2022

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Covid Zero Criticism Is New Test for China Censorship

It began when state media accounts on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, promoted the hashtag “The U.S. is the country with the largest human-rights deficit.” Tens of thousands of Chinese internet users turned the accusation around onto Beijing. They criticized not only China’s Covid response of strict stay-at-home orders and minimal financial support for households but also wider social problems: long working hours, high property prices, violence against women, and censorship itself. “Our doors are locked down. Our pets are killed. Our medical resources are wasted so that people with acute illness can’t be treated,” wrote one poster. “The American government is so horrible, I’m so lucky to be born in China,” read a typically ironic post.
28th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Court says UK's nursing home COVID-19 policy was illegal

A British court ruled Wednesday that the government’s decision to discharge hospital patients into nursing homes without testing them for COVID-19, which led to thousands of deaths early in the pandemic, was illegal. Two High Court judges said the policy from March and April 2020 was unlawful because it failed to take into account the infection risk that non-symptomatic carriers of the virus posed to older or vulnerable people. The judges said officials did not consider other options, including keeping such patients separate from other nursing home residents for a time as much as practically possible. “This was not a binary question – a choice between on the one hand doing nothing at all, and on the other hand requiring all newly admitted residents to be quarantined,” the judges said. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by two women whose fathers died when the virus swept through the homes where they lived. Their lawyers said the decisions that allowed COVID-19 to spread among the elderly and vulnerable was “one of the most egregious and devastating policy failures in the modern era.”
27th Apr 2022 - The Independent

COVID-19: Court finds New Zealand's quarantine allocation system infringed on rights

A high court judge rules that the system used to control New Zealand's borders during part of the coronavirus pandemic operated as an unjustified limit on the right of New Zealanders to enter their country.
27th Apr 2022 - Sky News

COVID-19: Government broke the law by failing care home residents who died of coronavirus, High Court rules

The government broke the law by discharging untested hospital patients into care homes during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the High Court has ruled. The case was brought by Dr Cathy Gardner and Fay Harris whose fathers, Michael Gibson and Donald Harris, died after testing positive for coronavirus. In a ruling on Wednesday, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Garnham concluded that policies contained in documents released in March and early April 2020 were unlawful because they failed to take into account the risk to elderly and vulnerable residents from non-symptomatic transmission of the virus.
27th Apr 2022 - Sky News

New Zealand High Court finds quarantine allocation system infringed on rights

New Zealand's once lauded COVID-19 response took a hit on Wednesday, when a High Court judge ruled a system used to allocate places in border quarantine facilities infringed on some citizens' right to return home. Citizens looking to return had to either make emergency requests to the government or secure a spot in state quarantine facilities, called MIQ. Due to demand outstripping hotel rooms, a type of lottery system was introduced. It left tens of thousands of expatriate New Zealanders cut off from families back home. Critics called the system unfair, something that the judgement released Wednesday by High Court Justice Jillian Mallon agreed with. Mallon said restrictions preventing a person from being able to enter their country for three months couldn't be justified and evidence indicates at least some New Zealanders experienced unreasonable delays.
27th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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US Vice President Kamala Harris Tests Positive for Covid, Isn't Biden Contact

Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for Covid-19, making her the highest-ranking Biden administration official to report being infected. Harris received positive results Tuesday on both rapid and PCR tests and “has exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the vice president’s residence,” according to spokeswoman Kirsten Allen. Harris, 57, isn’t considered a close contact of President Joe Biden, her office said. The vice president was traveling in California last week and returned to Washington on Monday, while Biden traveled to Oregon and Washington state before spending the weekend at his Wilmington, Delaware home.
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

A Former Wall Street Banker Led the Fight to Bring Down the U.S. Mask Mandate

Most Americans have never heard of Leslie Manookian, but the former banker is the reason why they no longer have to wear a mask on a plane. Manookian, 58, who worked for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in the 1990s and later Alliance Capital Management, was behind the lawsuit that last week led a federal judge in Tampa, Florida, to strike down the mask mandate for public transportation. The judge said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lacked the authority to impose it. “It is so inspiring to see millions of Americans celebrating, cheering, dancing and singing on airplanes, posting messages about how happy they are to be unmasked, to be liberated,” Manookian said in an interview from her home in the ski resort town of Sandpoint, Idaho. “I think the lawsuit has given people a sense of hope in a very dark time.”
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Anger Erupts at Xi's 'Big White' Army of Lockdown Enforcers

“Being a big supporter of authority and power seems to be deeply rooted in some residents’ mindsets,” said Liu, who has been locked down in his compound since April 1. “There are not many people who question authority, or the very validity of the Covid-Zero policy.” Big White describes the brigades of police, medical workers and volunteers in white hazmat suits who have become ubiquitous throughout the pandemic. China’s state media has used the term since the virus emerged in 2020 in Wuhan to soften their image: The moniker is the same as the local name for Baymax, the gentle inflatable robot in the movie “Big Hero 6.”
26th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Confusion, fear behind reluctance to take Covid booster, says experts

With only 4.64 lakh people taking their third Covid jab since April 10, Indians could be grappling with vaccine fatigue, a reluctance to take a booster shot that experts attribute to a combination of fear, confusion and misinformation.As India's Covid graph inches upwards, not enough people are getting their booster shots. Among the reasons for the apparent lethargy are the fear of adverse effects, the view that Covid is now a mild infection and doubts over whether a precaution dose is indeed useful, said scientists, public health experts and industry insiders. According to virologist Dr T Jacob John, vaccine fatigue has set in, also because the "cacophony of new experts" has been confusing.
26th Apr 2022 - Business Standard


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Nolan 'did not communicate Covid-19 models as well as necessary' to ministers

A public health expert has said he did not communicate the Covid-19 models “as well as was necessary” to Government ministers, weeks before Ireland had the world’s highest incidence of cases. Professor Philip Nolan, who was a key member of the advisory group assisting the Government in the battle against Covid, made the comments at the University of Limerick on Monday. The former head of National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) modelling said that as health experts, “we need to be better at communicating the range of possibilities and uncertainties”.
25th Apr 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

China Covid-19 tsar pushed treatments without revealing business ties

One of China’s top government health officials has repeatedly promoted Covid-19 remedies included in Beijing’s official treatment protocol for the disease without disclosing his links with the manufacturers. Epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan was appointed to head an expert group at the National Health Commission, the body responsible for formulating China’s health policy, at the start of the pandemic and is considered a hero in the country after managing the Sars epidemic in 2003. The NHC publishes an official protocol that advises on Covid treatments and medicines that is regarded as the treatment “bible” by doctors and local governments across China, according to Jin Dong-Yan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong. But Zhong has close ties to the companies behind some of the treatments, which he has promoted in scientific journals and in public talks without mentioning these relationships.
25th Apr 2022 - Financial Times

Lockdown gatherings report is 'excoriating' for UK's Johnson-The Times

An independent report into lockdown gatherings held at Boris Johnson's Downing Street office and residence is "excoriating" for the British prime minister and will make things "incredibly difficult" for him, the Times said. Sue Gray, a senior civil servant, has been tasked with investigating the events and whether they broke lockdown rules set by Johnson. The publication of her report has been put on hold until the police complete their own inquiry.
25th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Shanghai Reports Record Daily Covid Deaths in Current Outbreak

Shanghai reported its highest number of daily Covid-19 deaths in the current outbreak, as China continues to stick to its Covid Zero policy with strict lockdown measures imposed in the city. The city recorded 39 fatalities for Saturday, bringing its total number of virus-related deaths to 87 since late February, according to a report on Sunday by the Shanghai Health Commission. The average age of the people who died was 78.7 and all had underlying diseases, according to the report. Shanghai logged 21,058 new local Covid infections, the vast majority of which were mild or asymptomatic cases, the commission said.
24th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

China should act to ease COVID impact, boost growth over 5%, central bank official says

China should take steps to soften the economic impact of COVID-19 and boost annual economic growth back above 5%, a top central bank official said on Sunday. Wang Yiming, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the People's Bank of China, told an economic forum the effective management of macroeconomic policies was critical in laying the foundation for the country to achieve the national growth target of around 5.5%. Gross domestic product rose 4.8% in the first quarter from the same period last year.
24th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Rio's Carnival parade returns after long pandemic hiatus

Colorful floats and flamboyant dancers are delighting tens of thousands jammed into Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Sambadrome, putting on a delayed Carnival celebration after the pandemic halted the dazzling displays. Rio de Janeiro’s top samba schools began strutting their stuff late Friday, which was the first evening of the two-night spectacle. Ketula Melo, 38, a muse in the Imperatriz Leopoldinense school dressed as the Iemanja deity of Afro-Brazilian religions, was thrilled to be back at the Sambadrome. “These two years were horrible. Now we can be happy again,” Melo said as she was about to enter Friday night wearing a black and white costume made of shells that barely covered her body.
24th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Shanghai Lockdown Bolsters a Fringe Independence Movement

Stewing resentment over a government lockdown in Shanghai is bolstering a fringe idea: independence for China’s most cosmopolitan city. Over much of the past month, as the world has shed Covid-19 restrictions, 25 million Shanghainese have been confined to their homes to crush an outbreak. The paralysis of China’s richest city has astounded its urbane residents, who are normally spoiled for choice with 100,000 restaurants but are now scrounging for food. This painful episode is providing a ragtag group of pro-independence activists born in the city but living in such places as New York and London new urgency to promote their unconventional plan.
24th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Is Covid-19 Emergency Over? For Both Political Parties, It Depends on Issue

Finding the right policies to battle a global pandemic was hard enough. For the White House, unwinding some of those policies is becoming even more complicated. From restrictions along the U.S.-Mexican border to federal mask mandates, the Biden administration is facing legal challenges and political minefields in determining the fate of an array of pandemic-era rules that either were put in place by former President Donald Trump or instituted during the start of Mr. Biden’s presidency. Rolling back some of the policies, such as the so-called Title 42 border rule that allows for migrants to be quickly expelled, or student-loan forgiveness, has touched off intraparty fights, dividing progressives and moderates within the Democratic Party. For Democrats, the administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic could present challenges ahead of the November midterm elections, with many incumbent members of Congress facing vulnerabilities and Mr. Biden’s narrow majorities at risk.
24th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Mask Mandate Is Gone, but Turbulence Remains for Airlines, Fliers

For two years, masks were a fraught issue for airlines, comforting some passengers, angering others and making flight attendants into enforcers. Now, the masks are gone—but the friction is set to continue. Airlines are hopeful that easing mask rules will tamp down on in-flight conflicts, after a federal judge in Florida this week struck down the Biden administration’s Covid-19 mask mandate for public transportation. The Justice Department has said it would appeal that decision, but in the meantime, the mandate isn’t being enforced and U.S. carriers have said masks are optional for passengers and staff. It has also left airlines to decide what to do with thousands of passengers who broke mask rules during the pandemic, and earned bans. United Airlines Holdings Inc. President Brett Hart said the Chicago-based airline is getting back in touch with people who were banned from United flights over the course of the pandemic.
23rd Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

NYC Suspends School Staff for Allegedly Using Fake Vaccine IDs

The New York City Department of Education suspended about 70 employees for allegedly using fake vaccination cards, the teachers’ union said. The department placed the employees on unpaid leave with benefits, effective April 25, and the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District and law enforcement agencies are investigating the incident. “Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against Covid-19 – universal adult vaccination,” said Nathaniel Styer, a spokesperson for the DOE. It wasn’t immediately clear how the department discovered the alleged fake cards.
23rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

A Social-Media Scandal Cost Top Chinese Scientist $2 Billion

Wu Yiling is one of China’s highest ranked scientists. With a fortune that neared $6 billion, he was also part of the world’s 500 richest people. That was until last week, when the son of another Chinese billionaire sparked debate online with a post doubting the efficacy of Wu’s drug used to treat Covid-19. The herbal remedy, Lianhua Qingwen, is one of three traditional treatments the central government has recommended and was sent to households in Shanghai and Hong Kong during the latest omicron wave.
23rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Judge who fired employee for not getting vaccinated did not abuse power - ruling

A bankruptcy judge who fired an employee who was denied a religious exemption from a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement did not engage in discrimination or an abuse of power, a federal appeals court judge ruled. Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Chagares in a newly released opinion dismissed a complaint the ex-employee filed with the Judicial Council of the 3rd Circuit in a rare judicial misconduct case over a federal court employee vaccine requirement. The decision is dated Feb. 22 but was only released this week. As is typical with cases filed under the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act, the ruling did not identify the complainant, judge or even court to which it pertains.
23rd Apr 2022 - Reuters

Portugal becomes first EU country to give fast-track entry to Britons since Brexit in move that could spark a 'domino effect'

Is seen as bid to lure Britons away from rival destinations such as Spain and Italy British passports must now be checked manually, increasing waiting times But passport e-gate lanes were set up for Britons at Portugal airports this week
21st Apr 2022 - Daily Mail


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UK lawmakers approve probe into PM Boris Johnson’s ‘Partygate’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a blow to his authority when lawmakers ordered a parliamentary investigation into his past denials that he broke coronavirus restrictions by attending illegal gatherings during the pandemic. Johnson on Thursday faced stinging criticism from his own Conservative party and an influential former ally called on him to quit over what has become known as the “Partygate” scandal, which has caused widespread public anger. The investigation will look into whether Johnson knowingly misled the Parliament of the United Kingdom – ordinarily a resigning offence if proven. But a bullish Johnson – on a two-day trip to India – insisted he was not going anywhere. In India, Johnson vowed he would not quit and intended to fight the next general election – still likely at least two years away. “I understand people’s feelings,” he told Sky News. But he said of stepping aside: “I don’t think that is the right thing to do. What I am determined to do is make sure we continue with our agenda.”
22nd Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English

UK PM Johnson says lawmakers' probe into COVID breaches should come later

British police should be allowed to complete their investigation into potential COVID lockdown breaches in government offices before parliament launches its own investigation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday. "I'm very keen for every possible form of scrutiny and the House of Commons can do, I think, whatever it wants to do, but all I would say is I don't think that that should happen until the investigation is completed," he told reporters during a visit to India.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters

U.S. charges 21 people with COVID-related fraud

U.S. law enforcement officials have charged 21 people across the country with healthcare schemes amid the pandemic as part of the administration's larger effort to thwart people from leveraging COVID-19 for fraud, the Department of Justice said on Wednesday. The latest charges include cases involving filing false Medicare and other billing claims, kickbacks and money laundering, the department said, adding the alleged actions led to more than $149 million in COVID-19-related false billings to federal programs and theft from federally-funded pandemic assistance programs.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters

UK's Johnson may face contempt probe over lockdown parties

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a blow to his authority on Thursday when lawmakers triggered an investigation into whether he had misled parliament and an influential former ally called on him to quit. Johnson has been fighting for political survival for months after he told parliament that his Downing Street office had followed all lockdown rules during the COVID pandemic, only for an internal report to find it had held alcohol-fuelled parties at that time. Police have since fined Johnson. He denies deliberately misleading parliament, which is a resigning matter, and says he did not realise he was breaking the rules. He has apologised for his conduct.
21st Apr 2022 - Reuters


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US supreme court rules against air force officer who refused Covid vaccine

The supreme court has allowed the US Department of Defense to take disciplinary action against an air force lieutenant colonel who refuses to get a Covid-19 vaccine. In a brief, two-sentence ruling on Monday, a majority of the court sided with the Pentagon. Three justices in the conservative majority – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch – dissented. The ruling was merely the court’s latest on challenges to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. In January, the court blocked a Biden administration requirement that employees of large businesses be vaccinated and wear masks on the job.
20th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

The impact of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and resistance on the population of England

The study findings highlight that hesitancy to COVID-19 vaccination can significantly increase the rate of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in England. Importantly, the study predicts that the observed severity of COVID-19 could be reduced significantly if the majority of unvaccinated people, who are resistant to COVID-19 vaccination, agree to receive full vaccination.
20th Apr 2022 - News-Medical.Net

Biden administration will appeal lifting of mask mandate, if CDC agrees

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration said on Tuesday it would appeal a judge's ruling ending a mask mandate on airplanes if public health officials deem it necessary to stem the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to whom the administration was deferring, said that it would continue to study whether the mandates were still needed. The mandates apply to planes, trains and other public transportation and, prior to Monday's ruling, had been due to expire on May 3.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Justice Department appeals transportation mask ruling

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday appealed a judge's ruling ending a mask mandate on public transportation and airplanes, a spokesman said, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the measure was still needed. A U.S. district judge ruled on Monday that the mandates, which apply to planes, trains and other public transportation, were unlawful. The Justice Department said it would appeal the ruling if the CDC determined the 14-month-old mandate was still needed.
20th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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Heads accuse Government of 'ignoring Covid' by ending publication of school coronavirus data

Headteachers have criticised the Government for its “deeply troubling and ill-advised” decision to stop publishing data on the number of school absences in England linked to Covid-19. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said the move appeared to be part of an “ignoring Covid plan” for schools. The Department for Education (DfE) published its fortnightly absence statistics for state schools in England today. Figures for 7 April showed that in schools that had not broken up for Easter, attendance stood at 89.1 per cent, compared to 88.6 per cent on 31 March.
19th Apr 2022 - iNews

UK's Johnson respects outcome of lockdown breach investigation - spokesman

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson respects the outcome of the police investigation that resulted in him being fined for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules, his spokesman said on Tuesday. "He's talked about understanding the strength of feeling about this issue, which is why he has apologised and fully respects the outcome of the police investigation," the spokesman said.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Boris Johnson to apologise to UK parliament over lockdown fine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised to parliament on Tuesday after he was fined by police for breaking lockdown rules, saying he did not know a birthday gathering at the height of the pandemic was in breach of the rules he had set. Opposition lawmakers argue that the prime minister must go, saying he set stringent rules during COVID-19, broke those rules in Downing Street and then repeatedly lied to parliament when he said all guidelines had been met. Johnson told the House of Commons he had not deliberately mislead parliament but said it had never occurred to him that he was in breach of the rules. He acknowledged that the public had a right to expect better.
19th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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U.S. Army chief tests positive for COVID-19- spokesperson

U.S. Army Chief General James McConville tested positive for the coronavirus and was experiencing very mild symptoms, a spokesperson said on Monday. McConville tested positive on Sunday, is fully vaccinated and is working remotely, the spokesperson added.
18th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Small Businesses Object to Rerouting of Covid-19 Aid

Small-business owners are bristling over a congressional proposal that would redirect unspent money from Covid-19 programs to provide $10 billion for the federal government’s pandemic health response, including vaccines and therapeutics. At issue is about $5 billion that Congress allocated for three small-business aid programs but which hasn’t yet been spent. Some lawmakers want to repurpose those existing funds for healthcare, rather than allocate new money, because they are increasingly focused on reining in the federal deficit and spending amid a surge in inflation, which is at a 40-year high. The debate underscores the struggle to fulfill requests made by the Biden administration to address pandemic needs, while also accommodating Republican demands to not spend new money.
18th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Unvaccinated Air Force Reserve Colonel Rejected by Supreme Court

A divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on behalf of an Air Force Reserve officer who was relieved of his command after saying he wouldn’t get vaccinated against Covid-19 for religious reasons. Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Dunn was seeking to avoid being shifted to the Individual Ready Reserve, which would mean he wouldn’t take part in drills or be paid. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have granted his request. Neither they nor the court gave any explanation.
18th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Italy PM Mario Draghi Tests Positive for Covid, To Miss Africa Trip

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will miss a trip to Africa this week after testing positive for Covid-19. He is asymptomatic, according to a government official on Monday. Draghi was scheduled to travel to central and southern Africa this week in pursuit of further natural gas deals to reduce Italy’s dependence on Russian supplies. Italy has already struck agreements for Algerian and Egyptian gas. Italy will be represented in the planned trips to Angola and the Republic of Congo, on April 20 and 21, by Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, according to the official.
18th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

China Urges Xi Support Despite Covid Lockdown Anger in Shanghai

The Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper called on the nation to support President Xi Jinping’s Covid Zero strategy, showing any shift in policy is unlikely even as lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere threaten to hurt the economy. In a front-page commentary Monday, the People’s Daily said Xi’s strategy to snuff out the virus has proven “correct and effective” and China should be “uniting more closely around the party’s leadership with Xi Jinping as the core.” Citizens should follow the strategy “unswervingly and unrelentingly” with “earlier, faster, stricter and more practical” measures, it said.
18th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

China Coronavirus Outbreak: Xi Jinping's Covid Zero Is Failing

Beijing oversold its surveillance-based system of disease control and underestimated the shape-shifting virus. The result is an economic mess — though probably not a political crisis.
18th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

COVID-shaming pits neighbour against neighbour in locked-down Shanghai

The tensions of lockdown have exposed divisions among Shanghai residents, pitting young against old, locals against outsiders, and above all, COVID-negative against COVID-positive people. Shanghai's 25 million people, most of whom live in apartment blocks, have forged new communal bonds during the city's coronavirus outbreak, through barter and group buying and setting up food-sharing stations. But with no end in sight to a lockdown that for some has lasted four weeks, frustrations are also mounting behind the shuttered gates of the city's tower blocks, often playing out within WeChat message groups
18th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Taiwan’s COVID-hit tourism stews as island shuns global reopening

Before the pandemic, Taipei’s Yongkang Street was a top tourist destination, catering to visitors who would snack on spring onion pancakes, bubble tea and mango ice in between browsing gift shops and upscale boutiques. The area was so popular that the iconic Taiwanese restaurant chain Din Tai Fung opened a second location across the street from its flagship store to manage the demand for its dumplings. These days, “for rent” signs and empty shop fronts are a common sight in the neighbourhood. After more than two years of closed borders, times are tough for Taiwanese small businesses that once counted on tourists for much of their income. While Yongkang Street still draws locals on the weekends, they often have different tastes to the foreign tourists barred from the island since March 2020. Shaun Yu, who owns Lai Hao gift shop on a side street off Yongkang, said he had been forced to close two of his three locations – the last one opened at the end of 2019 when his shop was a popular destination for tourists looking for souvenirs.
15th Apr 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Guatemala: As COVID misinformation spreads, vaccine doses expire

On a recent afternoon, the COVID-19 vaccination centre in the heart of the Indigenous Mayan town of Santiago Atitlan was quiet. The health centre had a vaccine supply, but demand was low. The lack of coordination of a Guatemalan government-led campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy has resulted in the expiration of millions of doses across the country this year, critics have said, as more than half of the population remains unvaccinated. According to Juan Manuel Ramirez, an evangelical preacher in Santiago Atitlan, some community members have taken the vaccine, knowing it helps to protect against severe disease. But others have subscribed to conspiracy theories about its potential dangers. “There are other people who also have other types of thoughts, such as that the vaccine comes with a chip,” he told Al Jazeera. “Because of that, there is uncertainty, and therefore they have not been vaccinated. Earlier this month, approximately 1.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the United States expired. In March, the same fate befell nearly three million doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine, worth more than $33m. And by the end of June, more than two million doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will also expire.
14th Apr 2022 - AlJazeera English


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Lockdown Financial Aid in China Leaves Households Behind

China’s government is channeling its Covid-related financial aid toward businesses rather than households, an approach that’s increasingly being challenged as consumers struggle to cope under stringent lockdowns. Officials say the support for firms aims to preserve jobs, but many households required to stay at home for weeks on end are battling to pay rent and other living costs, according to social media posts and charity workers. A total of 45 Chinese cities are now imposing partial or total lockdowns, according to Nomura Holdings Inc., restricting the movement of some 370 million people.
14th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

UK's Johnson did not break COVID laws 'with malice', minister says

A senior British minister said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not set out to break COVID laws with malice and is mortified after he was fined by police for attending a gathering during lockdown, as calls mounted for Johnson to quit. Johnson, his wife Carrie and finance minister Rishi Sunak were fined on Tuesday for breaching laws the government imposed to curb the coronavirus, drawing a wave of condemnation, including from the families of those who died alone during the pandemic. Senior ministers have rallied round Johnson while a number of previous critics in his Conservative Party have said now was not the time for a change in leadership given the war in Ukraine
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Humbled British PM apologises after fine for lockdown birthday bash

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised but defied calls to resign on Tuesday after being fined for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules by attending a gathering in his office to celebrate his birthday. Johnson said people had the right to expect better after he, his wife, and his finance minister Rishi Sunak were fined for breaching laws his government brought in to curb COVID-19. "It didn't occur to me that, as I say, that I was in breach of the rules. I now humbly accept that I was," Johnson said. "I think the best thing I can do now is, having settled the fine, is focus on the job and that's what I'm going to do."
13th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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US pulls non-emergency staff from Shanghai amid COVID surge

Many residents in the city of 26 million have been confined to their homes for up to three weeks as China maintains its “zero-COVID” strategy of handling outbreaks with strict isolation and mass testing. But people living under the restrictions have described an increasingly desperate situation, with families unable to leave their homes or obtain food and daily necessities, while people who test positive for the coronavirus have been forced into mass quarantine centers where conditions at times have been called crowded and unsanitary. Authorities on Tuesday said another 23,342 people in Shanghai tested positive for the virus over the previous day, just 994 of whom displayed symptoms. Total infections have topped more than 200,000 in the latest wave, although no additional deaths have been reported.
12th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Queen Elizabeth says COVID left "one very tired and exhausted"

Britain's Queen Elizabeth said COVID-19 had left "one very tired and exhausted" as she talked to health workers and a former patient about her own experience of "this horrible pandemic". Britain's 95-year-old monarch tested positive for COVID in February and was described as having had mild, cold-like symptoms. She later returned to light duties. The queen, who is patron of the Royal London Hospital, spoke on a video call to National Health Service workers at the hospital who had helped to build and run a 155-bed unit to cope with a surge in patients needing help with their breathing.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Thai politician indicted for royal insult over vaccine speech

A prominent Thai politician faces up to 20 years in prison following his indictment on Monday for insulting the king and violating a cyber law, after he criticised the government for over-reliance on a royal-owned firm to supply COVID-19 vaccines. Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, the 43-year-old leader of the disbanded Future Forward Party, is accused of lese majeste and breaking cyber laws in a January, 2021 Facebook Live stream, during which he said the government had mishandled its vaccine campaign and unfairly favoured Siam Bioscience, a firm owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

MU researchers receive grant to increase confidence about COVID-19 vaccine among nurses

As an assistant teaching professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, Stefanie Birk knows there are nursing students unsure of how to talk with people hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Being a public health nurse herself, Birk has been in similar situations and is passionate about equipping the next generation of nurses with the knowledge and confidence they need to have conversations that ultimately promote public health. To help increase knowledge and confidence about the COVID-19 vaccine among nurses and the communities they serve, Birk and an interdisciplinary team of educators and researchers at the University of Missouri have earned a grant from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) with funding through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "We want to prepare our nursing students as they get ready to graduate and go on to become nurses serving our communities," said Birk, who teaches public health classes to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "By incorporating these lessons into their current curriculum, they will be better prepared going forward to have effective conversations with people who may be feeling hesitant about the COVID-19 vaccine."
12th Apr 2022 - News-Medical.Net

British PM and finance minister to be fined over lockdown parties

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his finance minister Rishi Sunak will be fined for breaking Britain's strict coronavirus lockdown rules, his office said on Tuesday, provoking anger and calls for them both to resign. Police have been investigating 12 gatherings at Johnson's Downing Street office and the Cabinet Office after a damning internal inquiry found his staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties that were not permitted. Johnson said he had attended some of the events, held when social mixing was all but banned by laws his government brought in to curb the spread of COVID-19, but he has always denied knowingly committing any wrongdoing.
12th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Senate votes to extend 4 of Lamont’s remaining COVID orders

Connecticut lawmakers have decided to extend four of Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s remaining pandemic-related executive orders, despite concerns raised by Republicans that it’s time to end the practice and get back to normal governing. The Senate voted 19-13 on Tuesday to prolong orders until June 30 that deal with physical distancing in certain congregate settings; making the patient vaccination database available to medical providers; using temporary nurses aides to help alleviate staffing shortages; and providing more time to send out rental assistance payments to people facing eviction who’ve already applied to the state’s UniteCT program. The emergency bill now awaits approval by the House of Representatives.
12th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press


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U.S. seeks to resume enforcing federal employee vaccine mandate

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday asked a federal appeals court to allow the Biden administration to resume enforcing a federal employee vaccine mandate that had been blocked by a lower-court judge in January. A 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Thursday reinstated President Joe Biden's executive order mandating that federal civilian employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Covid threat being ignored in England for ideological reasons, say NHS leaders

Ministers should reconsider England’s “living with Covid” plans, health leaders have said, while accusing the government of ignoring the ongoing threat for ideological reasons. The NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, has accused No 10 of having “abandoned any interest” in the pandemic, despite a new Omicron surge putting pressure on an already overstretched NHS. “The brutal reality for staff and patients is that this Easter in the NHS is as bad as any winter,” said Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation.
11th Apr 2022 - The Guardian

GP suspended for administering fake Covid-19 jabs allegedly charged between $1000 and $1500 a dose

General practitioner Jipson Quah, who has been suspended for administering fake Covid-19 jabs to some 15 patients, allegedly charged at least three people between $1,000 and $1,500 per dose. He also allowed at least 430 patients to take Covid-19 tests remotely, despite this being against the rules at the time. These offences are very serious and warrant Quah, 33, receiving the maximum suspension of 18 months, said the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) in its grounds of decision on the case, which was published online on Monday (April 11). It added that his actions put the general public at risk, and could have undermined confidence in the medical profession as well as Singapore's Covid-19 testing capabilities.
11th Apr 2022 - The Straits Times

China labels U.S. concerns over COVID regulations 'groundless accusations'

China's foreign ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the United States late on Saturday after it raised concerns over China's coronavirus control measures. The U.S. State Department said on Friday that non-emergency staff at its Shanghai consulate and families of U.S. employees could leave due to a surge in COVID cases and coronavirus restrictions in the city. "We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the groundless accusations against China's pandemic prevention policy from the U.S. in its statement, and have lodged solemn representations," foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement.
11th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Thousands rally in LA to oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Thousands of people including truckers and firefighters from across the country gathered Sunday outside Los Angeles City Hall to protest vaccination mandates designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The crowd gathered at Grand Park to hear speakers and performers, while big-rig trucks from the “People’s Convoy” were parked on nearby streets. Members of the convoy jammed traffic during a Washington, D.C., protest earlier this year. The peaceful crowd gathered to hear speakers and singers and was similar to a rally held at the same spot last year and to others staged around the country. California battled a deadly winter coronavirus surge linked to the omicron variant but began easing masking and vaccination requirements this year as caseloads and hospitalization rates fell, which public health officials largely attributed to widespread vaccination and other safety measures.
10th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press


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School Reopening Mess Drives Frustrated Parents Toward GOP

Democrat Jennifer Loughran spent the pandemic’s early days sewing face masks for neighbors. Last month, as a newly elected school-board member, she voted to lift the district’s mask mandate. That came four months after she voted for the state’s Republican candidate for governor. After a monthslong political identity crisis, Ms. Loughran decided her opposition to her party’s mask mandates, economic restrictions and school-closure policies outweighed her support for positions on climate change, abortion and gay rights, at least for the moment. Watching her daughter fall behind in virtual kindergarten, Ms. Loughran had grown so frustrated not knowing when her children would return to the classroom that she joined a group that attracted right-leaning parents in its school-reopening push. She was unhappy that Gov. Phil Murphy didn’t fight to reopen schools sooner, and she associated his fellow Democrats with mask mandates and restrictions.
10th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

USDA's Vilsack Tests Covid-Positive in Latest Washington Case

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he tested positive for Covid-19, adding to the list of Biden administration officials infected with the virus. Vilsack, 71, experienced mild symptoms on Friday, his office said in a statement. The government of Mexico, where Vilsack met officials on Monday and Tuesday, has been informed out of “an abundance of caution,” though he tested negative upon his departure and return, according to his office. Other positive cases this week include Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive on Thursday, a day after joining President Joe Biden and other lawmakers for a bill signing at the White House.
10th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Fauci Says It's Up to Each Person to Assess Their Covid Risk Now

Americans need to make their own medical risk assessments as Covid-19 cases accelerate in the U.S., President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said, reflecting a less virulent virus and public exhaustion with restrictions. “This is not going to be eradicated and it’s not going to be eliminated,” Anthony Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “And what’s going to happen is that we’re going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take.” Fauci’s comments contrast with more dire warnings he issued during earlier phases of the pandemic since 2020.
10th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

NYC mayor Adams tests positive for COVID, only symptom is 'raspy voice'

New York City Mayor Eric Adams tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday after waking up in the morning with a "raspy voice," his only symptom, a spokesperson said, becoming one of the latest high-profile Gridiron dinner attendees to come down with the virus. Adams, 61, will cancel all his public events for the remainder of the week and will immediately begin taking anti-viral medications, the spokesperson, Fabien Levy, said in a statement. "While he is isolating, he will continue to serve New Yorkers by working remotely," the statement said.
10th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Spain to probe socialite's multi-million euro COVID supply contracts

A Spanish court will investigate whether huge commissions charged by an aristrocratic entrepreneur and his partner on the sale of vital health supplies to Madrid city hall at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic constituted illegal profiteering. Well-known socialite Luis Medina and his partner Alberto Luceno sold $12 million worth of surgical gloves, face masks and rapid testing kits to Madrid, pocketing commissions of between 60% and 70% that they spent on luxury cars, lavish hotel stays and a yacht, the anti-corruption prosecutor's office said on Wednesday. The prosecutor said the pair obtained "an exaggerated and unjustified economic benefit" and accused Medina and Luceno of aggravated fraud, forgery and money laundering.
9th Apr 2022 - Reuters

European Central Bank head says she's positive for COVID-19

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde tweeted Thursday that she tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms but will continue working from home. “I am vaccinated and boosted, and my symptoms are thankfully reasonably mild,” Lagarde, 66, wrote on Twitter. “I will work from home in Frankfurt until I am fully recovered. There is no impact on the ECB’s operations.” The news conference she typically holds following the meeting of the Frankfurt-based bank’s rate-setting council is slated to go ahead next Thursday, with the format to be decided in the coming days. Lagarde's tweet comes as numerous European countries have dropped nearly all their COVID-19 restrictions and are battling a surge of the virus fueled by the highly infectious omicron subvariant BA.2. Another tweet from Lagarde shows her speaking unmasked with European finance ministers at a meeting Monday.
9th Apr 2022 - The Independent

Airlines that dropped mask requirements are now suffering staff shortages due to COVID-19

Overseas airlines are having to cancel hundreds of flights as they grapple with coronavirus-related staffing shortages weeks after they ditched rules requiring passengers and staff to mask up in the air. The disruptions also come as the CEOs of leading U.S. airlines urge the Biden administration to roll back a federal rule requiring that masks be worn in the sky. Masks have not been required on flights operated by budget-friendly, Swiss airline EasyJet since March 27, the airline said in a statement. The move came after the UK removed all travel restrictions earlier in March.
9th Apr 2022 - CBS News

Shanghai jumps into group buying to stay fed during COVID lockdown

When Shanghai first went into full COVID-19 lockdown last week, Ping Mai wasn't expecting she'd become her housing compound's unofficial broker for its meat supply. With her and her neighbours stuck at home and struggling to buy food amid lockdown curbs that have shuttered stores and dramatically reduced the number of couriers, she is among millions that are trying to figure out how to buy fresh supplies on a daily basis. One popular solution has been community group-buying, which sees residents at the same address band together to bulk buy groceries or meals from suppliers or restaurants, placing single orders that could add up to thousands of dollars.
9th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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U.S. House Speaker Pelosi is latest U.S. official to test positive for COVID

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has COVID-19 and is currently asymptomatic, her spokesman said on Thursday, after more than half a dozen other federal officials tested positive in recent days. The Democratic leader tested positive after a negative test result earlier in the week, spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement. "The speaker is fully vaccinated and boosted, and is thankful for the robust protection the vaccine has provided," Hammill said, adding that she will quarantine according to federal health guidelines. President Joe Biden, 79, tested negative on Wednesday night, the White House said.
7th Apr 2022 - Reuters

Japan arrests four of 'QAnon'-style group for Covid-19 vaccine protest: Media

Four members of a group said to be a Japanese version of QAnon, which has frequently protested against Covid-19 vaccinations, were arrested on Thursday (April 7) for intruding on a clinic where vaccinations were taking place, media reports said. Japan is conducting booster shots against the virus that causes Covid-19, with about 44 per cent of the population having received a third dose. About 80 per cent of the general public have had the first two shots. Four members of "YamatoQ," a version of the US QAnon group, were arrested on charges they intruded into a Tokyo clinic, police were quoted by media as saying. The group's website says vaccines are untested and "a number" of people have died after receiving them. It also lists anti-vaccine protests around Japan.
7th Apr 2022 - The Straits Times

Trump's endorsement of Covid-19 vaccines increased uptake in counties with low vaccination rates

Watching an ad in which former President Donald Trump promoted Covid-19 vaccines was linked to increased vaccinations in US counties with low immunization rates, according to a new study. The study was released Monday as a working paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research that has not yet been peer-reviewed. Researchers created a 27-second ad designed to serve as a public service announcement from Trump encouraging people to get vaccinated. Through a randomized control trial, the ad was featured on different YouTube channels across more than 1,000 counties with populations of less than 1 million and in which more than half of the population was still unvaccinated. When compared to counties that did not receive the ads, those that did receive the ads had more than 100 additional vaccinations on average. In total, treatment counties received an estimated 104,036 more vaccines than control counties. The analysis also found that for every 1,000 more ads presented, there were nearly nine additional vaccinations, on average, per county.
7th Apr 2022 - CNN

They got illicit Covid-19 vaccine doses -- and say they'd do it again in a heartbeat

Last July, Andrea Ogg stood outside a pharmacy in Castle Rock, Colorado, fully prepared to lie to get herself a Covid-19 vaccine. Her stomach knotted in anxiety, Ogg was ready to say she was getting her first shot when actually she was getting her third. At the time, government rules didn't allow for third shots, even for immune-compromised people like her who failed to develop antibodies after two doses. "I was very nervous, because I am typically an honest person, but I wasn't going to tell them the truth if they asked me. There was just no way," said Ogg, 55, who was born with a cardiac defect and takes medicine to suppress her immune system so she won't reject the heart transplant she received four years ago.
7th Apr 2022 - CNN

Naturopathic doctor admits selling fake COVID vaccine cards

A naturopathic doctor in Northern California on Wednesday pleaded guilty to selling fake COVID-19 immunization treatments and hundreds of fraudulent vaccination cards that made it seem like customers received Moderna vaccines, federal prosecutors said. Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, plead guilty in federal court in San Francisco to one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. The case was the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards for COVID-19, the department said. Mazi provided fake CDC vaccination cards for COVID-19 to at least 200 people with instructions on how to complete the cards to make them look like they had received a Moderna vaccine, federal prosecutors said.
6th Apr 2022 - The Asssociated Press

Could text messages nudge people toward COVID vaccines? Not here, but it might be bad timing

Text messages to people who are reluctant to get their flu shots—or simply forget—have helped boost uptake in the past, but these “nudges” didn't move the needle when it came to COVID vaccines. That’s the conclusion in a new report from Brown University’s Policy Lab, published in Nature on Wednesday. Researchers found that text message reminders sent out to unvaccinated Rhode Islanders in late spring 2021 didn’t increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The problem was not the texts themselves, however, the report’s authors argue. It was bad timing: By the time unvaccinated people in the Ocean State received the nudges in May 2021, most state residents had been able to get a shot for months.
6th Apr 2022 - FiercePharma


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Viral Recordings Tap Into Anger at Shanghai’s Covid Response

Until Saturday, Dr. Zhu Weiping was a little-known epidemiologist working for Shanghai’s Pudong district. That was when two recordings in which she shared blunt criticism against the city’s Covid-19 policies went viral and she became a beacon for many fed-up residents. Each recorded phone call, between the government scientist and a member of the public, has been shared hundreds of thousands of times on WeChat, spreading the contention that Beijing’s strategy of mass testing, mandatory quarantine and sweeping lockdowns isn’t working against the highly transmissible Omicron variant in the city of 25 million people. Dr. Zhu told one of the callers that Shanghai’s medical resources had been exhausted because of what she said was an overreaction to Omicron.
6th Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

China's widening COVID curbs exact mounting economic toll

China's top European business group warned on Wednesday that its "zero-COVID" strategy was harming the attractiveness of Shanghai as a financial hub, echoing analysts voicing caution over the mounting economic toll of the country's coronavirus curbs. China has for the past month been tackling multiple outbreaks with an elimination strategy that seeks to test, trace and centrally quarantine all positive COVID-19 cases. Nomura estimated on Tuesday that a total of 23 Chinese cities have implemented either full or partial lockdowns, which collectively are home to an estimated 193 million people and contribute to 22% of China's GDP. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said that the strategy was causing growing difficulties transporting goods across provinces and through ports, harming factory output.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

U.S. Fed bars six former bankers over COVID grant fraud

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday said it had barred six former bank executives from Regions Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch from the industry for fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 pandemic relief grants. Under the CARES Act, some small businesses were eligible to receive funds to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. The six individuals obtained funds based on fraudulent representations and used the money for unauthorized personal expenses, the Fed said.
6th Apr 2022 - Reuters.com


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Judge grants class-action status to COVID-sickened prisoners

A federal judge has certified a class-action lawsuit in Oregon over state leaders’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic inside its prisons. A group of adults in custody who contracted COVID-19 first sued the state in April 2020, alleging culpability by Gov. Kate Brown, Corrections Department Director Colette Peters and Health Authority Director Patrick Allen, among other state officials. The lawsuit acknowledges Corrections has taken some measures but argues they have not been enough. “This really is quite a groundbreaking order, and decision, and it could potentially be a model for advocates in other parts of the country where they’re having similar problems,” Corene Kendrick, deputy director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s National Prison Project, told Oregon Public Broadcasting this week.
6th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Biden orders push on long COVID, pandemic’s shadowy mystery

Confronting the pandemic’s lasting shadow, President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered a new national research push on long COVID, while also directing federal agencies to support patients dealing with the mysterious and debilitating condition. Biden assigned the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate an urgent new initiative across federal agencies, building on research already under way at the National Institutes of Health. He also directed federal agencies to support patients and doctors by providing science-based best practices for treating long COVID, maintaining access to insurance coverage, and protecting the rights of workers coping with the uncertainties of the malaise. Of particular concern are effects on mental health.
6th Apr 2022 - The Associated Press

Covid Spending Bill Hits Senate Snag on Amendment Dispute

A hard-fought $10 billion emergency Covid-19 compromise bill hit a last-minute snag in the Senate Tuesday as Republicans demanded a deal to propose amendments. Republicans want to force a vote on the Biden administration’s repeal of Title 42, a pandemic-related restriction on border crossings, a move likely to create headaches in the Democratic caucus. Other Republicans, including Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, said they have amendments they want considered as well. Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the lead Republican negotiator on the pandemic funding, urged his caucus to vote against a procedural motion on the bill, essentially stalling it until the two parties can agree on the parameters for floor debate.
5th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Scotiabank CEO criticizes government bank tax, misses AGM due to COVID

Bank of Nova Scotia Chief Executive Officer Brian Porter criticised the Canadian government's proposed bank tax in prepared remarks to shareholders on Tuesday, calling them a "knee-jerk reaction that sends the wrong message to the global investment community." Porter said the proposed tax on banks' profits would ultimately affect shareholders, including pensioners and retail investors. Canada's third-largest lender emailed Porter's speech to media after a positive COVID-19 test kept him from attending the meeting. Chief Financial Officer Raj Viswanathan read an abridged version during the bank's first in-person shareholders' meeting since the pandemic.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters on MSN.com

Using the False Claims Act to combat COVID-19 fraud

The COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant economic crisis precipitated the largest increase in government spending in American history. Major stimulus legislation such as the CARES Act of 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 created and funded programs that added trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy at lightning speed. While these efforts helped millions of Americans, the unprecedented flood of money also provided ample opportunity for unscrupulous actors. The Small Business Administration's Office of Inspector General estimates that the agency handed out more than $80 billion in potentially fraudulent loans during the pandemic.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters

U.S. Fed bars six former bankers over COVID grant fraud

The U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday said it had barred six former bank executives from Regions Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch from the industry for fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 pandemic relief grants. Under the CARES Act, some small businesses were eligible to receive funds to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. The six individuals obtained funds based on fraudulent representations and used the money for unauthorized personal expenses, the Fed said.
5th Apr 2022 - Reuters


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EasyJet cancels 100 flights due to Covid absences

British travellers are facing Easter holiday disruption after airlines cancelled more than 120 flights and Eurotunnel warned of three hour delays. Easyjet and British Airways blamed staff absences from Covid for cancellations, while Eurotunnel said a broken down train caused delays. Some schools have broken up for Easter - the first holiday since the end of the pandemic travel restrictions. That's led to rising demand and frustration for holidaymakers. Flight cancellations were down to a combination of factors which had come together in "a perfect storm", Simon Calder, travel correspondent at The Independent, told the BBC. "We have got very high levels of Covid in the nation and that is affecting the transport industry. But there are also more underlying problems which go back to the start of Covid," he said.
4th Apr 2022 - BBC News

Senate Reaches Deal on Covid Funding That Leaves Out Global Aid

Senate Democrats and Republicans have struck a deal to provide $10 billion for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics after Democrats dropped a last-minute attempt to include global vaccination funds in the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who had been leading negotiations on the package, announced the agreement Monday. It meets GOP demands that any new Covid-19 funds be paid for with unspent funds from earlier pandemic relief packages. The bill would provide far less money than the $22.5 billion that President Joe Biden sought early last month, though lawmakers widely expect another infusion will be needed, especially if a new variant of the disease spreads.
4th Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Covid Vaccines for Kids Are Dividing Divorced Parents

In late 2021, Adele Grote, a divorced mother of two in Minneapolis, took her children to a vaccination clinic at the Mall of America. But when her 13-year-old daughter called her father to let him know they were getting the shot, Ms. Grote knew they would have to leave without it. Just over a quarter of children between ages 5 and 11 in the United States are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database; among older kids, ages 12 to 17, the rate is 59 percent. For parents who have yet to vaccinate their children, the reasons for hesitation vary.
4th Apr 2022 - The New York Times

Vaccine hesitancy: What causes it, what can change it? - study

In the time since the coronavirus vaccine has been made available to the public, there have been many instances of hesitancy, reluctance, and even refusal to be vaccinated. A new study published by the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research has examined this phenomenon and discovered that there are several distinct phases of vaccine hesitancy, all presenting in different ways. The peer-reviewed study entitled “Understanding the phases of vaccine hesitancy during the COVID-19 pandemic” examines the distinct categories under which vaccine-hesitant people fall and the way in which socio-economic background, circumstances, and the changing phases of the pandemic itself have affected the reluctance some show when it comes to the vaccine.
4th Apr 2022 - The Jerusalem Post

More than 8 million people reject offer of Covid-19 booster despite record infections

More than eight million people have turned down the offer of a booster vaccine against Covid-19 despite the UK’s infection rate hitting its highest ever level last week. The Government is under pressure to ramp up its efforts to persuade more people to come forward for a third jab, at the same time as encouraging over-75s to accept a second booster. On Monday NHS England will start vaccinating children aged five to 11 with some centres fitted out with games and pets to make young children feel comfortable.
4th Apr 2022 - iNews

UK PM Johnson has not received a fine for COVID breaches - spokesman

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not received a police fine relating to breaches of COVID regulations, his spokesman said on Monday. Police have begun issuing fines after receiving evidence from an internal government investigation into lockdown parties in Johnson's Downing Street offices. Some events remain under investigation and further fines may be issued.
4th Apr 2022 - Reuters UK


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Man in Germany Gets 90 Covid Shots to Sell Forged Passes

A 60-year-old man allegedly had himself vaccinated against COVID-19 dozens of times in Germany in order to sell forged vaccination cards with real vaccine batch numbers to people not wanting to get vaccinated themselves. The man from the eastern Germany city of Magdeburg, whose name was not released in line with German privacy rules, is said to have received up to 90 shots against COVID-19 at vaccination centers in the eastern state of Saxony for months until criminal police caught him this month, the German news agency dpa reported Sunday. The suspect was not detained but is under investigation for unauthorized issuance of vaccination cards and document forgery, dpa reported.
3rd Apr 2022 - Bloomberg

Shanghai separates COVID-positive children from parents in virus fight

Esther Zhao thought she was doing the right thing when she brought her 2-1/2-year-old daughter to a Shanghai hospital with a fever on March 26. Three days later, Zhao was begging health authorities not to separate them after she and the little girl both tested positive for COVID-19, saying her daughter was too young to be taken away to a quarantine centre for children. Doctors then threatened Zhao that her daughter would be left at the hospital, while she was sent to the centre, if she did not agree to transfer the girl to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center in the city's Jinshan district.
3rd Apr 2022 - Reuters

China’s state media tries to rally support for zero-Covid as discontent grows

Chinese state media has sought to defend Beijing’s zero-Covid strategy – which has become a part of Xi Jinping’s political legacy – using the president’s “persistence is victory” phrase to encourage people to stay the course. Authorities are under pressure over the tough policy as China battles its worst wave of infections since Wuhan in 2020, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, with millions of people in lockdown while much of the rest of the world is reopening. Health officials on Friday said more than 100,000 locally transmitted cases were reported in mainland China in March.
2nd Apr 2022 - South China Morning Post

New York Judge Tosses Mask Requirement for Young Children

New York City’s requirement that young children wear masks in daycare and prekindergarten settings will continue after an appellate judge stayed a lower-court ruling that threw out the so-called toddler mask mandate. Judge Paul Wooten granted the stay after a Friday evening hearing. New York Mayor Eric Adams and city health officials said earlier Friday that they hoped to keep the requirement as the daily number of coronavirus infections in the city increased.
2nd Apr 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 31st Mar 2022

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Adelaide Hills woman faces court accused of paying vulnerable woman to have COVID-19 vaccine for her

Article reports that Chapel Hill woman Susan Louise Clarke, 52, is accused of paying a vulnerable woman a sum of money to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in her name in the Adelaide Hills in early January. Police said Ms Clarke accompanied Tania Marshall to the Mount Barker vaccination clinic and deceived SA Health workers into giving the 57-year-old the vaccine in her name by pretending to be her carer. Police said Ms Clarke needed evidence of the vaccination for her employment.
30th Mar 2022 - ABC News

COVID-19: Billions of pounds of taxpayers' money still at risk as a result of government's handling of PPE contracts, spending watchdog warns

Billions of pounds worth of taxpayers' money is still at risk as the government continues to deal with issues with personal protective equipment (PPE) stocks and contracts, according to the spending watchdog. The National Audit Office (NAO) found the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was being charged millions of pounds to store PPE equipment it has purchased for longer than expected.It also found there were "inconsistencies" between the volume of PPE ordered and what was actually received, and that billions of items were not suitable for frontline use.
30th Mar 2022 - Sky News

Boris should ‘hang his head in shame and quit’ relatives of Covid dead say

Bereaved relatives tearfully called on Boris Johnson to ‘hold his head in shame’ and resign over lockdown-breaking parties in Whitehall. They called for the Prime Minister to stand down as they led a silent procession to Downing Street for coronavirus victims. Hundreds of grief-stricken families gathered at the National Covid Memorial Wall in London on Tuesday to mark its first anniversary and pay tribute to those they lost during the pandemic. Those attending, joined by politicians including Labour MP Afzal Khan and shadow health minister Rosena Allin-Khan, then walked to No 10 to hand in a petition to make the mural permanent.
30th Mar 2022 - Metro on MSN.com

China truckers use fake records, 'clean' drivers to dodge COVID rules

Article reports that Chinese truck drivers hoping to outwit COVID-19 inspectors are faking travel histories to get through checkpoints or avoid quarantine, state media reported, as weary citizens struggle with restrictions more than two years after the pandemic began. While some truckers try to use hi-tech sleight of hand to dodge the restrictions, some desperate travellers are simply trying to hide in their cars to get where they want to go. Authorities across China have tightened COVID curbs this month as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spreads, triggering lockdowns in Shanghai and the whole province of Jilin.
30th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Academic on trial for spreading misinformation on Covid vaccines

A professor of clinical pharmacology and a vocal critic of coronavirus containment measures went on trial in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Tuesday for disseminating misinformation regarding the Covid-19 vaccine. Aristotle University’s Dimitris Kouvelas was put under investigation and indicted last year after making claims online indicating that a prominent government official’s health problems were a result of his being vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2. In these claims, Kouvelas said that former deputy civil protection minister – and one of the top government officials in the fight against the pandemic – Nikos Hardalias should take the National Organization for Medicines (EOF) to task for approving the coronavirus vaccine, which, he indicated, contributed to the heart attack he suffered in August 2021. The academic, who has gained widespread popularity among anti-vaxxers for his outspoken and often vulgar criticism of Covid restrictions and vaccine mandates, was indicted under new legislation aimed at stemming the dissemination of “fake news.”
29th Mar 2022 - Kathimerini English Edition

Virtual reality helps reduce COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy can be affected by several factors such as lack of confidence in health authorities and experts who have developed the vaccine, constraints, complacency, the degree to which the personal costs and benefits of the vaccine are weighted, lack of compliance, lack of collective responsibility, and fake news regarding vaccines. However, informing people about community immunity has occasionally been shown to increase intentions for vaccination. Thus, using novel technologies that can help people understand the benefit of vaccination, as well as the impact of vaccination on other vulnerable individuals, can assist in reducing vaccine hesitancy. A new Scientific Reports study investigates whether intention for vaccination is increased by a gamified immersive virtual reality (VR) experience that shows how community immunity works.
29th Mar 2022 - News-Medical.Net

UK PM has not been notified of any COVID-19 lockdown breach fine, spokesman says

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not been issued with a fine for COVID regulation breaches at this time, his spokesman told reporters, after police said they had recommended an initial 20 fines be issued over gatherings held in Downing Street. Asked whether Johnson had received a fine, or been told he would be fined, the spokesman told reporters: "No. We've said we will update if that were to occur but our position has not changed."
29th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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U.S. Covid Response Showing Cracks as Congress Delays Funds

Personic Health Care has been providing free Covid testing for uninsured families in Philadelphia and northern Virginia throughout the pandemic, thanks in part to federal support. But earlier this month when the White House said that the U.S. doesn’t have the funds to cover those costs, it put Personic, a mid-sized patient-monitoring and telehealth company, in a precarious spot. The company wants to continue offering the free tests, but that’s not sustainable through another surge of infections, said Azmat Husain, its founder and chief medical officer.
28th Mar 2022 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Musk says he has 'supposedly' tested positive for COVID again

Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said on Monday that he had "supposedly" tested positive for COVID-19, with no major symptoms. "I supposedly have it again (sigh), but almost no symptoms," Musk said in a tweet. He questioned the accuracy of COVID-19 tests in November 2020 after claiming that results showed he tested positive twice and then negative twice all on the same day. Musk then said he "most likely" had a moderate case of COVID-19, as he continued to question the accuracy of the tests. He did not mention whether the results were from polymerase chain reaction tests, which are more accurate than rapid tests.
28th Mar 2022 - Reuters

End of free Covid testing could put vulnerable at risk, say UK experts

Come the end of March, the lights will dim on the UK’s Covid epidemic. Despite infection levels rising, cases will plummet, as free lateral flow and PCR tests are stopped for the majority of people in England, with other countries in the UK also set to reduce free testing in the coming weeks and months. But while the government has argued it is time to manage Covid as we do other infectious diseases such as flu, scientists have warned ending community testing could put vulnerable people at risk and undermine efforts to understand the virus.
28th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

For red and blue America, a glaring divide in COVID-19 death rates persists 2 years later

Political polarization in the U.S. was evident and intensifying long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, two years ago. Polling shows that the emergence of the novel coronavirus in 2020 exacerbated the rift, pushing Americans further apart on key pandemic response efforts. Surveys from Pew Research Center, last year, found that in the early months of the pandemic, about 6 in 10 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents believed the virus was a major threat to the health of the U.S. population, compared to only a third of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. That 26-point gap would ultimately grow to approximately 40 points by the fall, researchers found.
28th Mar 2022 - ABC News


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Uninsured Americans now to be charged up to $195 per COVID test by some providers: report | TheHill

Several testing providers will no longer provide COVID-19 tests for free to uninsured Americans, even if they are symptomatic, saying they will begin to charge between $100 and $195 dollars for PCR tests, ABC News reported. Quest Diagnostics, which is one of the country's largest COVID-19 testing providers, told ABC News that patients will now be billed $125 per PCR test if they are not on Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance. Quest has started telling partners and clients that it will no longer be able to reimburse for uninsured claims due to a lack of congressional funding, ABC noted.
27th Mar 2022 - The Hill

Adelaide social worker banned from spreading misinformation about and vaccines

An Adelaide social worker has been permanently banned from providing health education or information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations. South Australia's Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner has issued a prohibition order against Matilda Bawden, of Parafield Gardens, following two emails she sent in her capacity as a social worker last year. In one of them, the unregistered National Disability Insurance Scheme provider said she was suspending services to "service providers, clients, friends and family" who received an inoculation because of the risk of them shedding the virus.
27th Mar 2022 - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Two years ago I said I was taking Covid ‘with a pinch of salt’ – perhaps I was wrong

Scientists must long to travel back two years and revisit their Covid predictions. So too must commentators who relied on them. That March of 2020 was a nightmare month for the great game of prediction. Boris Johnson’s press conference on 3 March was a cautious occasion. He had just received wild reports from Whitehall’s scaremongers declaring that 80% of the nation “could be” about to suffer from a killer disease from which half a million “could die”. His response was to take comfort from his in-house scientists, guided down the path to “herd immunity” by his senior advisers, including Patrick Vallance. Daily briefings and hysteria mounted until 23 March, when Johnson performed the agony of volte-face. His capitulation to extreme lockdown was so abject as to make it hard for anyone who had followed his argument so far to agree with him. Most commentators cynically switched sides and said he should have capitulated sooner.
27th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

Persistent cough 'may be TB rather than Covid' - and cases are on the rise

UK health leaders fear cases of tuberculosis (TB) are slipping under the radar. The potentially dangerous bacterial infection begins as a persistent cough, similar to many people’s experience of Covid-19. Incidents of TB have been falling since 2019 but appear to be on the rise once again, fuelling fears people may be dismissing the symptom as the coronavirus. Now anyone with a cough is being warned not to assume their illness is definitely caused by Covid-19.
27th Mar 2022 - Metro.co.uk

Pandemic strikes new, authoritarian Hong Kong

After evading major COVID-19 spikes for nearly two years, Hong Kong – one of the world’s most densely populated cities – is experiencing a frightening wave, with one of the world’s worst COVID death rates. It is apparent that the city’s pandemic response went terribly wrong, and yet nobody is there anymore to ask the government tough questions. At the beginning of the pandemic, the unelected Hong Kong government was slow to respond. It was Hong Kong people who swung into collective action – a muscle memory of widespread solidarity forged through the 2019 protests as well as the previous experience with SARS. They mounted a dynamic citizen-led pandemic response including widespread masking, even though the authorities discouraged it.
27th Mar 2022 - Al Jazeera English

Hong Kong eateries despair over checking recovered Covid patients’ jabs status

Hong Kong restaurants are tired of the confusion over checking the vaccination status of customers trying to enter their premises, especially those who have recovered from Covid-19. With numerous types of electronic and paper documents available to show individuals’ vaccination status or proof of recovery, misunderstandings between restaurant workers and customers have become a regular occurrence. “It is very messy now. Frontline workers are confused over the different kinds of information and documents they can accept, and sometimes the checking process can get complicated or descend into arguments,” said Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades.
25th Mar 2022 - South China Morning Post


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Government 'fast and loose' over Covid contracts

The Government failed to fully document processes on the way to awarding Covid testing contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds, a report has found. However, the National Audit Office (NAO) said it found no evidence Department of Health contracts had been awarded improperly. And it accepted ministers were acting quickly in exceptional circumstances. But the probe criticised "gaps in the audit trail", with Labour accusing the Government of acting "fast and loose". Former health secretary Matt Hancock said the report "confirms a total clean bill of health on ministers' work". When Covid hit, ministers had to scale up testing capacity, working with the private sector to secure both services and supplies, the NAO said.
25th Mar 2022 - BBC News

A fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose is on the horizon, but Victoria's booster rate remains stubbornly low

Experts have raised concerns about the "disappointing" rate at which Victorians are getting their booster COVID-19 vaccine doses, as the possibility of a fourth dose is considered. More than 93.7 per cent of eligible Victorians have had two doses of the vaccine, but the latest figures from the health department show 64 per cent of people aged 18 and up have now received three vaccine doses. That figure has risen by less than seven percentage points in a month — it stood at 57.1 per cent on February 23.
24th Mar 2022 - ABC News

Vaccine hesitancy is complicating physicians' obligation to respect patient autonomy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Exposure in health care settings has accounted for a large number of infections. Early on in the pandemic, health care workers and their household members accounted for 1 in 6 patients ages 18 to 65 admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. Vaccines reduced that risk considerably, and by August 2021, the risk of infection to health care workers had been cut by two-thirds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 70% of the vaccine-eligible U.S. population is fully vaccinated, not accounting for the booster, although these numbers are changing. When a patient refuses to get the vaccine, a health care worker usually gets involved to counsel that patient. This may take a considerable amount of time, and unfortunately, the results may not always be favorable. Many in the medical community believe that the onus is on the patient to get vaccinated, and if they do not do so, they should be seen as culpable for contracting COVID-19. One such example is the case being made to give lower priority for organ transplants to those willfully unvaccinated.
24th Mar 2022 - The Conversation

Covid-19: Government left “inadequate” paper trail when awarding testing contracts, says watchdog

The UK government failed to keep proper records when awarding almost £780m (€937m; $1.03bn) worth of covid-19 testing contracts to the diagnostics company Randox, the UK’s public spending watchdog has found. Last year the Conservative MP and former minister Owen Paterson resigned from his parliamentary seat after being heavily criticised for lobbying the government on behalf of Randox while acting as a paid consultant to the company. In a report published on 24 March1 the National Audit Office (NAO) acknowledged that the government had had to act quickly to build testing capacity at the start of the pandemic, but it said that the Department of Health and Social Care “did not document key decisions adequately, disclose ministerial meetings with Randox fully or keep full records of ministerial discussions involving Randox.”
24th Mar 2022 - The BMJ


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Judge among 156 New York officials who could lose their jobs within days for refusing to take vaccine

A judge is one of more than 150 New York court employees who face potential firing or other punishments over their refusal to take the coronavirus vaccine. The New York Daily News reports that Justice Jenny Rivera of the state's Court of Appeals is among four judges who are still refusing to take the coronavirus vaccine. Ms Rivera was appointed to the state's highest court by former Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013. The state’s Office of Court Administration can't fire the judges, but they can be referred to the Commission on Judicial Conduct for their refusal to comply with the state's vaccine mandate.
23rd Mar 2022 - The Independent

New York City mayor set to lift vaccine mandate on athletes, performers - report

New York Mayor Eric Adams is set to lift the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for performers and professional athletes as early as this week, Politico reported on Wednesday, a rule that has come under growing criticism by local sports teams. The mandate, imposed by former Mayor Bill de Blasio, is part of a larger order that all private-sector workers in New York City must show proof of vaccination, pro athletes included. Politico reported that Adams was expected to lift those restrictions, among the harshest in the United States, during a news conference on Thursday.
23rd Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Research dispels myth that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility, but misinformation persists

Some sources of misinformation claim that the COVID-19 vaccines cause male sterility. For this to be true, the vaccines would have to damage sperm quality, drastically reduce sperm count or interfere with the mechanisms inherent in male ejaculation. Quality clinical evidence has demonstrated that none of these parameters are affected by the vaccine, so men are not being made sterile. A study in Florida recruited around 45 men and compared their sperm measures before and after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Interestingly, the study found that men who received the vaccine had more sperm, greater semen volume, and sperm more able to move around and fertilize an egg. Pregnancy can be an exciting time but can also provoke worry about the the safety of anything that enters the body, including vaccines. Fortunately, the COVID-19 vaccines are safe during pregnancy.
22nd Mar 2022 - Medical Xpress

'Refuse quarantine!': frustrations mount as China replays COVID controls

Article reports that in footage shared on social media last week, a crowd of people in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang bang against the windows of a clothing market as they shout in frustration at the announcement of yet another round of COVID-19 tests. Though the local government quickly urged people not to "spread rumours" about the incident, the response from netizens was immediate. "Refuse quarantine!" said one. "Many people have awoken to the truth," said another. "It's actually over," said a netizen posting on WeChat under the username "Jasmine Tea". "The common cold is more serious than this… The testing agencies want this to go on. The vaccine companies want to inoculate forever."
22nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

UK Covid case numbers ‘no particular cause for concern’, says Javid

There is “no particular cause for concern” about the UK’s rapidly rising number of Covid cases, Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has said, saying that England was demonstrating to the world a successful model for living with the virus. Despite survey data showing almost 5% of the population in England had Covid earlier this month, and record infection levels among the over-70s, Javid said the “wall of defence” from vaccines was keeping the situation stable. From Monday, 5 million people across England at higher risk from Covid – the over-75s, care home residents and those who are immunocompromised – will be able to book a second booster jab in the coming weeks. Javid confirmed that a wider booster programme, most likely aimed at the over-50s, was expected in the autumn.
21st Mar 2022 - The Guardian


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British police begin interviews over lockdown Downing Street party investigation

Police have begun to interview witnesses as part of their investigation into alleged breaches of lockdown rules at gatherings in British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office and residence, the Metropolitan Police said on Monday. Police are investigating 12 gatherings held at Downing Street after an internal inquiry found Johnson's staff had enjoyed alcohol-fuelled parties, with the British leader attending a few of the events himself.
21st Mar 2022 - Reuters

Baseless coronavirus rumors damaging families, relationships in Japan

Two years have already passed since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Japan, and measures such as multiple state of emergency declarations have been taken intermittently. But misinformation and false rumors about the virus and vaccines have been spreading as if to take advantage of people under stress and anxiety, and have damaged relationships and family ties. One example is a woman in her 30s residing in the Kanto region in east Japan, who married her husband about 10 years ago and now lives with their two children. When infections began to spread in Japan for the first time in the spring of 2020, her partner often washed his hands and always wore a face mask when going out.
21st Mar 2022 - The Mainichi

UK Covid case numbers ‘no particular cause for concern’, says Javid

There is “no particular cause for concern” about the UK’s rapidly rising number of Covid cases, Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has said, saying that England was demonstrating to the world a successful model for living with the virus. Despite survey data showing almost 5% of the population in England had Covid earlier this month, and record infection levels among the over-70s, Javid said the “wall of defence” from vaccines was keeping the situation stable. From Monday, 5 million people across England at higher risk from Covid – the over-75s, care home residents and those who are immunocompromised – will be able to book a second booster jab in the coming weeks.
21st Mar 2022 - The Guardian


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Marjorie Taylor Greene condemns Covid boosters with false polio claim

US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene inadvertently proved herself wrong on the House floor while complaining about Covid-19 vaccine boosters. Ms Greene took to the floor to attack the coronavirus vaccines, in particular the idea that boosters may be necessary for Americans to stay safe from the virus and its variants. "Now I don't know about you guys, but many of us were vaccinated as kids against polio, we had our MMR, and I have never seen the CDC coming out and saying 'oh you've got to get your second polio shot, you've got to get your third, you've got to get your fourth," she said.
20th Mar 2022 - The Independent

JPM, Credit Suisse expect China COVID spike to have minimal impact on GDP

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases across China is likely to have a minimal impact on the country's GDP this year, two brokerages said in their reports, while adding it could hurt demand for some commodities. China reported 2,388 new local cases with confirmed symptoms on March 17, almost double the count a day earlier, as it battles its worst coronavirus outbreak since the virus first emerged in Wuhan in 2020. Credit Suisse said in a report late Thursday it expected a loss of 0.03 to 0.05 percentage point to GDP growth per week of the lockdown, on the current size of the lockdown.
20th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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White House Names Next Covid-19 Response Chief as Jeff Zients Steps Down

Jeff Zients, who has led the White House’s Covid-19 response for more than a year, will be leaving the job in April and be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha as the Biden administration navigates a new strategy for the next phase of the pandemic. The change in leadership underscores that the administration sees its Covid-19 response as less a reaction to the virus and more of a continuing public-health situation. Dr. Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and a well-known public-health leader, has championed many of the measures the administration has used to combat Covid-19. Mr. Zients, an investor and former Obama administration economic adviser, was brought in to lead the White House’s pandemic response in part because of his reputation for fixing or taking on challenging situation
18th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

On Kashmir’s dangerous border, frontline healthworkers fight Covid vaccination battles

If medical teams carrying Covid-19 vaccines were ever to make it to her village high in the Himalayas in Indian-administered Kashmir, Safeera Begum had a plan. She would hide. The 35-year-old was expecting her seventh child when India’s vaccination campaign began early last year. Misinformation and conspiracy theories echoing around the jab had made her fearful. “I never wanted to get vaccinated,” says Begum, who – with no mobile connectivity or internet in her village of Dudran - was cut off from reliable sources of information during the pandemic. “All I had heard was that the vaccine is unsafe for young women and unmarried men,” she says, although there is no evidence linking infertility to the Covid-19 vaccine.
17th Mar 2022 - Evening Standard


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Before meeting Biden, Irish PM Martin tests positive for virus

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday night in Washington, complicating plans to appear alongside U.S. President Joe Biden at St. Patrick's Day events at the White House. Martin had been at an Irish gala event on Wednesday night, held at the National Building Museum in Washington. Biden spoke at the event, but a White House official said the president did not have close contact with Martin while there. Others at Martin's table included U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and singer Carole King.
16th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff Tests Positive for Covid-19

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, has tested positive for Covid-19, Ms. Harris’s spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said in a statement. Ms. Harris tested negative for Covid-19 on Tuesday and will continue to test, Ms. Singh said. The vice president was scheduled to attend an event with President Biden on Tuesday evening, but decided not to participate out of an abundance of caution.
16th Mar 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

COVID-19: Cases up nearly 50% week-on-week - as expert accuses ministers of 'wanting to get rid of data and move on'

A COVID expert has accused ministers of "wanting to get rid of data and move on" - as cases across the UK have spiked by nearly 50% over the last week. In the last seven days, 444,201 coronavirus cases were reported - a 48.1% increase on the previous week. The COVID Infection Survey, carried out by the Office for National Statistics, has also shown an increase in cases across the UK, which Health Secretary Sajid Javid said was "expected" following the easing of restrictions in England in late January.
15th Mar 2022 - Sky News

Trucker mandate protest hits DC, snarling local traffic

Hundreds of truckers and other motorists who have been doing rolling protests on highways encircling Washington made their way into the nation’s capital Monday, snarling already-congested traffic in a demonstration against COVID-19 mandates and other grievances. The DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency issued a traffic advisory shortly before 2 p.m. that suggested motorists delay travel or use alternative transportation “due to ongoing demonstration activity on I-395, I-695, and I-295.” The Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department closed a number of streets and exits off the highways to prevent the protesters from coming into the city. “These rolling road closures are occurring in real-time as they are needed,” the announcement said. The protesters, separated intermittently by the usual congested traffic, waved flags and blew their horns as they drove. When asked why they had come to protest, one unidentified couple with Montana license plates answered “freedom.”
15th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

U.S. Senate votes to overturn transit mask mandate; Biden vows veto

The U.S. Senate voted 57 to 40 on Tuesday to overturn a 13-month-old public health order requiring masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation, drawing a quick veto threat from President Joe Biden. Last week, the White House said it would extend the current COVID-19 mask requirements at airports, train stations, ride share vehicles and other transit modes through April 18 but pledged a new review. The order was set to expire on Friday. The mandate has drawn significant opposition from Republicans who note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week that 98% of Americans live in places where it is safe to ditch indoor masks.
15th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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New Zealand divided over how to handle 20,000 daily Covid cases after years of barely any

For much of the past two years, New Zealand has weathered the pandemic by stopping Covid-19 at its borders, which closed to almost everyone but New Zealand citizens and permanent residents on 19 March 2020. Until recently anyone entering the country went into managed hotel isolation. With a million New Zealanders living overseas, and not enough capacity within the hotel quarantine system to accommodate everyone who wanted or needed a space, our border controls have caused misery for many people. The absence of tourists, backpackers and foreign students has been difficult for many industries. With family in the UK and Australia, I’ve found it tough. But controlling the entry of the virus into the country has been key to our success. It enabled us to embrace a “go hard and early” elimination strategy, stamping out any cases that leaked through the border.
14th Mar 2022 - iNews


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Covid in Kent: Cases rising again across county

Over the space of seven days they have increased 42.9%, with 7,752 new cases recorded. About one in 10 cases are among people who have been reinfected, according to government stats, as health chiefs say there is an "increasing presence" of a sub-variant of Omicron. The biggest rise in infections has occurred in Swale, up 70.7%. There has also been a 60% spike in Dartford and a rise of 55% in Ashford. But weekly case numbers are still much lower than when the Omicron variant peaked in Kent in late December, when 18,330 infections were recorded.
12th Mar 2022 - Kent Online

Prince Harry and Meghan slam UK over 'immoral' approach to vaccines

Prince Harry and Meghan have lambasted the UK and other wealthy countries for not lifting intellectual property rules so more Covid vaccines can be distributed. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex signed an open letter labelling the world’s approach to the pandemic as ‘immoral, entirely self-defeating and also an ethical, economic and epidemiological failure’. The letter, coordinated by the People’s Vaccine, had over 130 influential signatures, including former UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, actor Charlize Theron and former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko. The coalition works to make coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments ‘freely available to everyone, everywhere’.
12th Mar 2022 - Metro.co.uk

Australia nears living with COVID like flu - PM Morrison

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the nation's political leaders want to move to a new phase of living with COVID-19 as though it were the flu, but would consult health experts. A day after meeting with the national cabinet of state and federal leaders, Morrison told reporters on Saturday morning they had discussed moving to "Phase D" of the national pandemic response plan. "Our airports are open again, international arrivals can come, there are waivers now on quarantine for people returning, so we are pretty much in Phase D," he said.
12th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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People Are Getting COVID Shots Despite Hesitation

It is easy to assume that most people who get the COVID-19 vaccine do so without a shred of trepidation, while those who are hesitant about it choose never to get vaccinated. But a recent set of findings blows up this binary and provides insights that could make vaccination campaigns more successful.The studies cut through toxic public discourse about the vaccine and focus on a significant group that is often overlooked by researchers, policy makers and the media: so-called hesitant adopters. Such people get vaccinated and report afterward that they felt some degree of hesitation about doing so. To look into this group, scientists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest (UAMS Northwest) and their colleagues surveyed 1,475 adults at more than 30 COVID-19 vaccination sites in the state as they sat out their 15-minute wait time after receiving the shot.
10th Mar 2022 - Scientific American

Unvaccinated Djokovic says he is out of Indian Wells, Miami

Novak Djokovic said that he will not be able to compete at the hard-court tennis tournaments in Indian Wells, California, or Miami because he is unvaccinated and can’t travel to the United States. The 20-time Grand Slam champion tweeted Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control “confirmed the regulations won’t be changing so I won’t be able to play in the U.S.” Djokovic, who recently dropped to No. 2 in the ATP rankings, has played in only one tournament so far in 2022 because he has not received any shots to protect against COVID-19. He was deported from Australia in January and was not allowed to try to defend his title at Melbourne Park. Rafael Nadal wound up winning the Australian Open for his 21st major trophy, breaking a tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer for the most claimed by a man in the history of tennis.
10th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press


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Florida vaccine plan for children denounced as ‘irresponsible and reckless’

In a pronouncement which stunned experts on Monday, Florida’s controversial surgeon general Dr Joseph Ladapo said the state would be the first to “recommend against” Covid-19 vaccination for “healthy children”. The move followed two recent Covid-19 surges in which pediatric hospitalization was believed to be higher because of low vaccination rates among children. “It’s very generous to call it a recommendation, because recommendations come with supporting evidence and transparency,” said Saad B Omer, director of the Yale Institute of Global Health and professor of medicine in infectious diseases.
9th Mar 2022 - The Guardian

In Somaliland, COVID brings 'cutters' door to door for girls

Safia Ibrahim’s business was in trouble. COVID-19 had taken hold in Somaliland, in the Horn of Africa. The 50-year-old widow with 10 children to support set out door to door on the capital’s outskirts, a razor at hand, taking advantage of the lockdown to seek work with a question: Have your daughters been cut? Her business is female circumcision, learned at the age of 15, performed hundreds of times and now being passed along to her daughters. She congratulates young girls upon completing the procedure: “Pray for me, I’ve made you a woman now.” She believes her work keeps girls pure for marriage. “This is our Somali culture. Our great-grandmothers, grandfathers — all of them used to practice,” she said, even though she now knows there’s no medical or even religious reason for the removal of external genitalia, which can cause excessive bleeding, problems with urination and childbirth, infections and even death. But it remains legal in Somaliland, so Ibrahim will continue until authorities tell her to stop.
9th Mar 2022 - The Associated Press

Novak Djokovic: Unvaccinated tennis star withdraws from two US competitions as COVID rules prevent him from entering America

Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from two prestigious tennis competitions in the US as coronavirus rules prevent him from entering America. The unvaccinated Serbian has pulled out of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the Miami Open after the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) confirmed he needed to be jabbed to enter the country. The 20-time grand slam winner revealed last month he had not received any coronavirus vaccinations, insisting he would forego big tournaments "because the principles of decision-making on my body are more important than any title or anything else".
9th Mar 2022 - Sky News

United Airlines to let unvaccinated workers return

United Airlines Holdings Inc will allow workers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 for religious or medical reasons to return at the end of this month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The move permits staffers with exemptions from the carrier's vaccination requirement for its U.S. employees to return from unpaid leave or from the non-customer-facing roles they were allowed to apply for as an alternative to their regular jobs, the report said. United Airlines declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Reuters.
9th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Trucker convoy laps Washington, DC, beltway to protest Covid-19 measures

A convoy of vehicles lapped the Washington, DC, beltway Sunday morning to demand an end to Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. The protests come at a time when many pandemic-related mandates and restrictions -- imposed by state and local governments rather than lawmakers in Washington -- have already begun being lifted in much of the country. The group planned to drive at least two loops around the beltway before returning to Hagerstown, Maryland, Maureen Steele, an organizer with the "People's Convoy" told CNN. Sunday's protest may mark the beginning of several days of disruptions, according to District of Columbia emergency management officials.
8th Mar 2022 - CNN


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Convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates begins beltway circuit

A large group of truck drivers and their supporters who object to COVID-19 mandates began their mobile protest in the Washington, D.C., area Sunday, embarking on a drive designed to snarl traffic and make their objections known to lawmakers. The “People’s Convoy” follows similar demonstrations by truckers in Canada upset at vaccine requirements to cross the Canadian border. The Washington Post reported that convoy organizer Brian Brase intends for protesters to travel on the beltway every day during the upcoming week until its demands are met.
7th Mar 2022 - The Independent

COVID-19 expert claims he was told to 'correct his views' after criticising 'implausible graph' shown during official briefing

In England, a senior epidemiologist who advised the government during the coronavirus pandemic claims he was told to "correct" his views after he criticised what he thought was an "implausible" graph shown at an official briefing. Professor Mark Woolhouse has also apologised to his daughter, whose generation "has been so badly served by mine", and believes that closing schools was "morally wrong". The Edinburgh University academic is deeply critical of the use of lockdown measures and says "plain common sense" was a "casualty of the crisis".
7th Mar 2022 - Sky News

Russia revives COVID support programme to help firms hit by Ukraine sanctions

Russia is resuming a support programme for critically important firms, hoping to protect companies from the effects of international sanctions by reviving measures first introduced in 2020 to shield them from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
7th Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Trucks, RVs and cars flock to Washington area to protest COVID restrictions

More than a thousand large trucks, recreational vehicles and cars are gathering on the outskirts of Washington as part of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions that threatens to roll on the U.S. capital in the coming days. The so-called "People's Convoy," which originated in California and has drawn participants from around the country, is calling for an end to all pandemic-related restrictions. It was inspired by demonstrations last month that paralyzed Ottawa, Canada's capital city
6th Mar 2022 - Reuters

South Africa may destroy 100,000 COVID-19 jabs by end-March due to slow uptake

About 100,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are at risk of being destroyed by the end of this month due to slow uptake by citizens, South African health authorities said on Friday. South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent, however inoculations have slowed and the country has ample vaccine stocks of about 25 million doses. “There is a risk that just over 100,000 or so doses which will expire by end of March ... may have to be discarded. It will be a sad day if significant volumes of doses can end up being discarded. We hope it will not reach that stage,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla told an online news conference.
5th Mar 2022 - AlArabiya


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The surgeon general calls on Big Tech to turn over Covid-19 misinformation data.

President Biden’s surgeon general on Thursday formally requested that the major tech platforms submit information about the scale of Covid-19 misinformation on social networks, search engines, crowdsourced platforms, e-commerce platforms and instant messaging systems. A request for information from the surgeon general’s office demanded that tech platforms send data and analysis on the prevalence of Covid-19 misinformation on their sites, starting with common examples of vaccine misinformation documented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The notice asks the companies to submit “exactly how many users saw or may have been exposed to instances of Covid-19 misinformation,” as well as aggregate data on demographics that may have been disproportionately exposed to or affected by the misinformation.
3rd Mar 2022 - The New York Times

U.S. healthcare agencies request data on COVID misinformation

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Office of the Surgeon General will request input on COVID-19 misinformation online as they seek to understand the role it played during the pandemic and its impact on health decisions made by individuals. The agencies will put out a Request For Information (RFI) on Thursday to collect public comments and data within 60 days from stakeholders such as academic institutions, advocacy groups, government entities and community-based organizations.
3rd Mar 2022 - Reuters


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Partisan media exposure could inform COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy may be more attributed to partisan media exposure and an individual's pre-existing attitudes, rather than a lack of information about vaccine effectiveness, according to a Washington State University study. The study, published in Current Psychology, experimentally tested the intertwined relationships among message frames, partisan media use and attitudes on vaccine intention. In general, the findings show that those who consumed lower amounts of conservative media and held positive vaccine attitudes were higher on vaccine intention. Among people who consumed a higher amount of conservative media and held negative vaccine attitudes, the messages that talked about individual benefits of getting the vaccine resonated more.
2nd Mar 2022 - Medical Xpress

COVID-19: New Zealand police move to end three-week vaccine mandate protest

Protesters have fought police with fire extinguishers and pitchforks as officers moved to end an anti-vaccine mandate protest in New Zealand's capital three weeks after it began. The protesters had been outside Wellington's parliament buildings for 23 days when police in riot gear moved in early on Wednesday morning. Protesters used projectiles, shields, fire extinguishers, and pitchforks to fight police, as officers began dismantling protesters' tents and towing away up to 50 vehicles.
2nd Mar 2022 - Sky News

U.S. appeals court blocks Biden's Navy vaccine policy for COVID

A federal appeals court has delivered a new setback to the Biden administration in a COVID-19 dispute, keeping in place a lower court order that blocked the U.S. Navy from considering the vaccination status of 35 special forces personnel in making deployment decisions. The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday night spurned arguments from the U.S. Justice Department that the Navy's deployment decision-making was outside the scope of cases that the courts are allowed to consider and rule on. The appeals panel said the judiciary had the power to weigh the plaintiffs' religious freedom objections, including a "divine instruction not to receive the vaccine."
2nd Mar 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand protesters set fires as police break up camp

Thick black smoke billowed across the grounds of New Zealand’s Parliament and sirens blared on Wednesday as retreating protesters against coronavirus vaccine mandates set fire to tents, mattresses and chairs. It appeared to be a final act of defiance as police broke up the camp that protesters first set up more than three weeks ago. Police retook control of the Parliament grounds although dozens of protesters remained in nearby streets, some hurling objects at officers. Parliament’s once carefully manicured grounds were left scarred, a children’s slide in ruins. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that in planning the operation, police had expected hostility, resistance and violence — but it was another thing entirely to witness it.
2nd Mar 2022 - The Associated Press


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Tackling vaccine hesitancy by targeting 'fence-sitters'

A new study, published in the Journal of Community Health, emphasizes the importance of outreach to people who have mixed feelings about getting vaccinated. The study looked at the attitudes of participants aged 55 years and older about vaccines at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers accessed data from the COVID-19 Coping Study to identify people in the United States who were either receptive, ambivalent, or against getting vaccinated against the disease.
1st Mar 2022 - Medical News Today

Covid-19: Incomplete lists of vulnerable patients left many unprotected, desperate, and afraid

Up-to-date registers of clinically vulnerable patients must be created to ensure that those who are most at risk during covid-19 and any future pandemics are protected and can access the support they need, a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Vulnerable Groups to Pandemics has recommended. The report considered vulnerable people’s experiences during the pandemic and makes 16 recommendations on what the government and the health service can do better to plan and prioritise extremely vulnerable patients during further covid-19 outbreaks and future pandemics. These tackle the format and content of information and guidance; access to medical services such as mental health support to help people deal with anxiety, fear, and isolation; provision of practical support such as food and finance when isolating; and the need for more research into how medical conditions make people more vulnerable to a threat and vaccines less protective.
1st Mar 2022 - The BMJ

More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines served to London’s businesses

More than £600,000 in Covid-19 fines have been dished to London’s businesses by local authorities wielding the emergency powers, an Evening Standard investigation has revealed. Police forces have faced the brunt of the scrutiny over coronavirus powers being used to break up illicit parties and enforce the lockdown rules, while Scotland Yard is currently deciding whether to hand out fines for the Partygate scandal at Downing Street. However little attention has been paid to how local authorities – also permitted to issue fines and bring prosecutions under the Covid laws – have used their powers. Freedom of Information requests reveal councils around the capital have handed out at least £600,000 in fines since the pandemic began, while a further £24,000 in fines have been imposed after full criminal prosecutions brought by six councils – Greenwich, Waltham Forest, Ealing, Haringey, Bexley, and Tower Hamlets.
1st Mar 2022 - Evening Standard


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How Covid vaccine misinformation is still impacting inoculation rates in Lancashire

The Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been subject to months of debate based on numerous health concerns primarily surrounding blood clots. And due to these concerns, some members of Lancashire’s Asian community have been reluctant to have the jab, over worries that it is safe. Certain medical studies and reports note that one of the most common reasons for hesitancy within the British-Asian community are concerns regarding side effects and long-term effects on health.
28th Feb 2022 - Lancs Live

Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Crusade Against Covid Vaccine Anguishes Family

Nearly 60 years after Bobby took his sister along for the excursions into the woods, the son and namesake of Robert F. Kennedy, the New York senator, attorney general and Democratic presidential candidate assassinated on June 5, 1968, has become an unimaginably polarizing figure in this tight-knit political family. Once a top environmental lawyer who led the charge to clean up the Hudson River in New York, the third eldest child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy has emerged as a leading voice in the campaign to discredit coronavirus vaccines and other measures being advanced by the Biden White House to battle a pandemic that was, near the end of February, killing close to 1,900 people a day.
26th Feb 2022 - The New York Times


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Over 3300 fines meted out in S'pore for Covid-19 breaches by people last year

More than 3,300 fines were issued last year to people for breaching Covid-19 rules - an improvement from 2020 when more than 8,600 fines were handed out. The fines, which came up to more than $990,000, were for non-adherence to safe distancing and safe management measures, and non-wearing of masks. Of these, about 1,000 fines were for mask-wearing offences, while most of the remaining penalties were for gathering in groups larger than the permitted size, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) said on Thursday (Feb 24). In 2020, more than 8,600 fines - totalling more than $2.5 million - were issued from April to December, with more than 1,700 fines imposed on those who did not wear masks.
27th Feb 2022 - The Straits Times

Queen Elizabeth II's brush with COVID-19 presents a royal conundrum: is it time to retire 'The Firm'?

For more than 70 years, the Queen has been a steady hand steering the monarchy through wars, political upheaval and civil unrest. Her reign is often summed up in one word: stability. Her strength and constancy are inextricably tied to the monarchy. But with Queen Elizabeth II performing only "light duties" after testing positive to COVID-19, that symbol of fortitude has been put to the test. Since a brief hospital stint in October, the Queen's health has been under greater scrutiny than ever before.
27th Feb 2022 - ABC News


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Most women still shunning Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy, research shows

Most women are still shunning Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy despite an increased chance of stillbirth, premature birth and risks to their own health, analysis shows. Data from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford shows 73% of Asian women, 86% of black women and 65% of white women were unvaccinated at the time of giving birth in October 2021. The charity Wellbeing of Women, which funded the study with the National Institute for Health Research, called for “urgent action” to address “stark racial and social inequalities” among pregnant women. The study found that severe Covid-19 infection in pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester, significantly increased the risk of giving birth early, having an induction or a Caesarean, having a stillborn baby or a baby that needed intensive care.
24th Feb 2022 - Belfast Telegraph

Anti-Covid vaccine mandate protesters chase New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern outside school

A group of shouting protesters have chased the New Zealand prime minister’s van down a driveway as she visited a Christchurch primary school, amid tensions over increasingly volatile anti-vaccine mandate protests. Jacinda Ardern, who was visiting a primary school in Christchurch, was met by a crowd of people shouting “shame on you” and “traitor”. Some held signs saying that the prime minister would be “put on trial” and “held responsible”, and one man brandished a fabricated arrest warrant – references to conspiracy theories that a cohort of world leaders and powerful people are secretly using vaccines to commit a genocide, and would soon be put on trial and hanged for treason. Police officers formed a barrier to allow the prime minister to pass through.
24th Feb 2022 - The Guardian

COVID surges in New Zealand, protesters against mandates chase away Ardern

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was rushed out of a school event in Christchurch on Thursday after protesters opposed to COVID restrictive measures thronged the venue and chased her car, while daily infection numbers hit record levels. New Zealand reported over 6,000 new cases of COVID-19, with 250 hospitalisations, and the government expects the outbreak to peak in mid-March. Having been lauded earlier for her success in keeping the country COVID-free, Ardern has been fiercely criticised recently for the slow unlocking of restrictive measures.
24th Feb 2022 - Reuters

US truckers planning pandemic protest to begin heading to DC

Modelled after recent trucker protests in Canada, truck drivers in the United States are planning on setting off on a massive cross-country drive towards Washington, DC to protest against coronavirus restrictions. Organisers of the “People’s Convoy” say they want to “jumpstart the economy” and reopen the country. Their 11-day trek that is estimated to be 4,000km (2,500 miles) long will approach the Beltway – which encircles the US capital – on March 5 “but will not be going into DC proper”, according to a statement. Separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund – all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. Some are scheduled to arrive in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, though others may arrive afterwards.
23rd Feb 2022 - AlJazeera


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Montenegro Protesters Demand Snap Ballot, Plan to Block Roads

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, demanding early elections as they rallied against President Milo Djukanovic and denounced a plan for a minority government that would bolster his party’s influence. Infighting among fractured political groups brought down Premier Zdravko Krivokapic’s cabinet on Feb. 4, a year after a historic power shift that ended decades-long dominance over the Balkan state by Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists. The president’s party is now supporting efforts to form a minority cabinet. “People have to give their say” in a vote before any new government is formed, said Aleksa Becic, who was ousted as parliament speaker, told the crowd on Wednesday, state broadcaster RTCG reported.
23rd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

National Guard to Bolster Cops as Washington Trucker-Convoy Buzz Builds

The Pentagon is making as many as 700 National Guard troops available to Washington law enforcement to keep traffic flowing if a threatened protest convoy of trucks clogs the already congested Beltway in coming days. Social media users opposed to vaccine mandates have posted frequently about the so-called People’s Convoy, inspired by recent protests in Canada. But there is no official organization sponsoring it, and the viability of an 11 day cross-country convoy is unclear and proposals for it have varied. The most prevalent suggests it would arrive near the nation’s capital March 5.
23rd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

A Pandemic Baby Bump Shines a Spotlight on the Nordic Welfare Model

Finland’s government has been working arduously to stem the country’s rapid population decline. Since the 2019 elections, a cabinet run by a millennial woman has produced eight offspring, with two more on the way. Regular Finns have joined in the baby making: The number of live births jumped 6.7% last year, the most in nearly five decades. Other nations on Europe’s northern rim have experienced their own pandemic baby bumps, making the region of 28 million people an outlier among advanced economies, several of which have seen fertility rates drop to historic lows.
23rd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

Inspired by Canadian truck protests, 'People's Convoy' heads to Washington

A group of American truckers began a cross-country drive from California to Washington on Wednesday to protest coronavirus restrictions, taking a cue from demonstrations that paralyzed Canada's capital city, Ottawa, for weeks. More than two dozen 18-wheeler trucks, along with some 50 pickups and recreational vehicles, left Adelanto, California, about 80 miles (130 km) northeast of Los Angeles. The self-styled 'People's Convoy' is beginning an 11-day trek to the Beltway, a major highway encircling the U.S. capital, to demand an end to COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

U.S. truckers plan pandemic protest, inspired by Canadian counterparts

Taking a cue from demonstrations that paralyzed Canada's capital city, Ottawa, for weeks, U.S. truckers on Wednesday plan to embark on a 2,500-mile (4,000-km) cross-country drive toward Washington to protest coronavirus restrictions. Organizers of the "People's Convoy" say they want to "jumpstart the economy" and reopen the country. Their 11-day trek will approach the Beltway around the U.S. capital on March 5, "but will not be going into D.C. proper," according to a statement. The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had approved 400 National Guard troops from the District of Columbia, who would not carry weapons, to help at traffic posts from Saturday through March 7.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Weary of promises, Bulgarians protest against COVID curbs, inflation

About 1,000 Bulgarian demonstrators gathered in downtown Sofia on Wednesday to protest against curbs imposed to combat COVID-19 and rampant inflation at a rally organised by the opposition ultra-nationalist Revival party. Holding banners reading "I want a normal life," and "COVID is a tyranny, not a pandemic" the demonstrators booed as Prime Minister Kiril Petkov addressed them. Bulgaria, where scepticism about vaccines and entrenched distrust of government institutions has meant fewer than one in three adults are inoculated against the coronavirus, has seen infections drop in recent weeks after they peaked at the end of January, prompting the government to start easing restrictions.
23rd Feb 2022 - Reuters


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New Zealand Targets Protesters Camped Outside Parliament With Lawn Sprinklers, Blaring Barry Manilow

For two weeks, antigovernment protesters camped outside this South Pacific country’s Parliament have held group hugs, planted vegetable gardens and renamed a footpath “No Booster Lane” as authorities tried everything to disperse them without violence. A top official turned on lawn sprinklers, soaking the around 1,000 people protesting issues including vaccine mandates. Music, including Barry Manilow songs, was blasted, and regular loudspeaker announcements urged protesters to end the occupation. When none of that worked, authorities adopted another approach: installing concrete barriers to limit a blockade of vehicles and making some arrests. The confrontation illustrates the dilemma for countries that are facing anger and frustration among some groups at government public-health orders as they adjust to treating Covid-19 as endemic. In Canada, the government decided to invoke emergency powers to end a three-week protest in Ottawa and secure border crossings, where traffic was thwarted at times. Protesters have also staged large rallies recently in Australia’s capital, Canberra, where police have made some arrests.
22nd Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Convoy Leader Denied Bail as Canadian Officials Warn of Unrest

Canadian banks froze about C$7.8 million ($6.1 million) in just over 200 accounts under emergency powers meant to end protests in Ottawa and at key border crossings, a government official said Tuesday. The new tally was revealed in testimony to lawmakers examining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to invoke the country’s Emergencies Act to end a three-week occupation of the nation’s capital. Trudeau and his ministers have said the measures announced last week are meant to cut off funding to protest leaders and to pressure trucking companies to prevent their semis from being used again in blockades. Ottawa’s downtown core was cleared out over the weekend, but dozens of trucks remain gathered at encampments outside the city.
22nd Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to Maine COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away a challenge to Maine's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, rebuffing for the second time a group of plaintiffs who sought a religious exemption. The justices rejected a request made on behalf of unnamed plaintiffs identifying themselves as Maine healthcare workers who objected to the vaccinations on religious grounds. The court in November rejected an emergency request by the same plaintiffs seeking to prevent Maine from enforcing the mandate against them. They are represented by a Christian legal advocacy group.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Protester drives at New Zealand police as cordon tightens

One protester drove a car toward a New Zealand police line, narrowly avoiding officers, while other protesters sprayed officers with a stinging substance, police said Tuesday, as they tightened a cordon around a convoy that has been camped outside Parliament for two weeks. The clashes in the capital of Wellington came a day after police reported that some of the protesters had thrown human feces at them.
22nd Feb 2022 - ABC News

Canada's parliament approves Trudeau's emergency powers

Canada's parliament on Monday backed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's decision to invoke rarely-used emergency powers to end pandemic-related protests that have blocked streets in the capital Ottawa for more than three weeks. The Emergencies Act was approved in parliament by 185 to 151, with the minority Liberal government getting support from left-leaning New Democrats. The special measures, announced by Trudeau a week ago, have been deemed unnecessary and an abuse of power by some opposition politicians.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters

Ugandans would face fines, jail for refusing COVID jab under new law

Uganda plans to impose fines on people who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who fail to pay could be sent to prison under a new public health law which lawmakers are scrutinising, parliament said on Tuesday. Although the East African country started administering COVID-19 jabs nearly a year ago, only about 16 million jabs have been administered in a population of 45 million, with officials blaming widespread reluctance for the low coverage. Parliament's house health committee has begun scrutinising Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2021 which seeks to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory.
22nd Feb 2022 - Reuters


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Canada emergency powers still needed, PM says, citing signs of new blockade

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said his government still needed temporary emergency powers in the wake of a truckers' blockade, citing "real concerns" about threats in the days ahead. Trudeau told a televised news conference there were signs some truckers were regrouping outside the capital Ottawa and might come back to try to restart a three-week occupation that brought downtown Ottawa to a halt. The protesters initially wanted an end to cross-border COVID-19 vaccine mandates for truck drivers, but the occupation turned into a demonstration against Trudeau and the minority Liberal government.
21st Feb 2022 - Reuters

UK's Johnson scraps COVID restrictions in England

British Prime Minister Boris on Monday said he would end all coronavirus restrictions in England including mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 and free testing, drawing scepticism from some scientists and political opponents. Johnson's "living with COVID" plan has sparked alarm that it is premature and will leave the country vulnerable to new viral variants, but the government says it has provided more testing than most other countries, and must now curb the cost. The plan to ditch the remaining legal restrictions is a priority for many of Johnson's Conservative Party lawmakers, whose discontent over his scandal-ridden leadership has threatened his grip on power. Some critics think the plan is also a bid to divert attention from those scandals.
21st Feb 2022 - Reuters UK

Canada looks to end Covid-19 protests with tougher financial measures after another weekend of arrests

Another weekend of protests against Canada's Covid-19 mandates saw around 200 arrests in the nation's capital as authorities moved to end the weekslong demonstration, towing vehicles and going after protesters' pocketbooks with financial penalties. Police said they employed pepper spray and escalated tactics over the weekend to disperse crowds and make arrests with protesters gathered in front of the Parliament building. Some of those arrests included protesters who allegedly had smoke grenades and fireworks, and were wearing body armor, police said. Ontario's Special Investigation Unit is also reviewing an incident where a woman was reportedly seriously injured after an interaction with a police officer on a horse, and a second where an officer discharged a less-than-lethal firearm at protesters.
21st Feb 2022 - CNN


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UK must cut spending on COVID testing, Johnson says

Britain wants to retain the capability to spot new coronavirus variants but it must stop spending so heavily on free testing as cases and fatalities fall, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday. Johnson will set out plans this week for the country to "live with COVID" amid suggestions that free coronavirus testing could be stopped, and some health studies halted. Asked by the BBC how the country would spot the arrival of new variants, Johnson said: "I want to make sure that we have capability to spot stuff and to snap back up as fast as we need to," he said.
20th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Freedom Convoy Leaves Town and Quiet Returns to Ottawa

For the first time in over three weeks, downtown Ottawa on Sunday was largely deserted, with the heavy-duty trucks and thousands of protesters demanding an end to Covid-19 vaccine mandates replaced by police vehicles, officers, and crews trying to clean up after a 23-day demonstration. Officials in the capital and across Canada remained on high alert. While police in Ottawa cleared out Freedom Convoy protesters there, authorities in some of Canada’s biggest cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, dealt Saturday with either the threat of a trucker-led demonstration or protesters that disrupted traffic. “It’s still clear that while police have made significant progress, the job is not yet done,” Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief and Canada’s emergency-preparedness minister, told CTV News on Sunday. “The threat, the risks, the reasons we had to invoke emergency powers, they still exist.”
20th Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Canadian Covid-19 protesters and police face off in Ottawa amid freezing conditions

Police say they have made 47 arrests in Ottawa Saturday as they cleared downtown, a day after a weeks-long protest turned violent. City, provincial and federal law enforcement officers began an unprecedented operation Friday morning to remove demonstrators, their trucks and cars, that have been blockading the streets. On Friday, more than 100 people were arrested and 21 vehicles were towed. Another 38 vehicles have been towed since Friday, police say. Wellington Street in front of Parliament has been cleared. Police say they will continue restoring the streets to normal order over the coming days. Tensions between Canadian authorities and protesters have been simmering for weeks as crowds and idling trucks filled the capital, demanding the elimination of Covid-19 preventative measures including mask and vaccination requirements.
19th Feb 2022 - CNN

Police close in on protesters blockading Canada's capital

Police, some on horseback, pushed into crowds of demonstrators to clear them from the streets of downtown Ottawa on Friday, arresting more than 100 and hauling away vehicles that had been blocking the capital's core for over three weeks in a protest against pandemic restrictions. Fearing escalation or violence, Ottawa police had sought to disperse protesters with fines and threats of arrest, but on Friday hundreds of officers moved in despite frigid temperatures and freshly fallen snow, slowly clearing one part of the city
19th Feb 2022 - Reuters Canada

Canadian Police Begin Freedom Convoy Arrests

Police began arrests of people protesting against Covid-19 mandates on Thursday evening, including two organizers, after promising imminent action to remove a weekslong encampment from the streets of Canada’s capital city. The arrests came after multiple warnings from police to those involved in the blockade—known as the Freedom Convoy and now in its third week—that they would face severe penalties if they didn’t leave the area voluntarily. Two of the protest group’s organizers, Chris Barber and Tamara Lich, were among those arrested on Thursday evening. A lawyer for the group, Keith Wilson, said Mr. Barber was arrested on allegations that included counseling to commit mischief and obstruction of justice. Ms. Lich was charged with counseling mischief, he added. Mr. Barber and Ms. Lich were two of the high-profile public faces of the protest group. They often posted video messages on social media, urging protesters in Ottawa to keep their resolve.
18th Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

Analysis: Pandemic fatigue a challenge for Canada's Trudeau amid protests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's support of vaccine mandates in fighting COVID-19 helped him win re-election five months ago, but now he looks increasingly isolated as restrictions are being lifted around the world. Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Britain and Spain and most of the United States are easing or lifting COVID restrictions, and most of Canada's provincial governments are rolling them back, too. But Trudeau has doubled down on federal vaccine mandates and this week invoked emergency powers to seek an end to weeks of protests against his government's pandemic restrictions
17th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Covid-19 Pill Access at Risk as Pharmacies Push for Bigger Payments

The rollout of new Covid-19 pills has exposed a potentially costly hole in how the government and healthcare companies are managing the pandemic drug response. Pharmacies that dispense the pills are pushing back and some are threatening to halt supplies if they don’t get more funds to cover the gap. The government paid billions of dollars for the pills, Paxlovid from Pfizer Inc. and molnupiravir from Merck & Co. and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP. Yet it left the details of how much pharmacists should be paid for filling prescriptions to health insurers and prescription-processing middlemen known as pharmacy-benefit managers. The commercial firms are paying pharmacies as low as a penny to about $10 for filling each prescription, according to pharmacists and pharmacy-transaction records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
20th Feb 2022 - The Wall Street Journal


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Hundreds of Aussie mining workers set to lose jobs over vaccine mandate

Hundreds of BHP workers across Australia are being forced to quit or lose their jobs after the mining giant won a legal challenge to enforce its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The company expects up to 700 employees, or 3 per cent of its staff, will choose not to be vaccinated, effectively leaving the business, The Australian reports. The rule came into place from January 31 after unions lost a legal challenge fighting the mandate. Under BHP workplace rules, anyone who does not show proof of vaccination will not be permitted on sites and their positions are currently under review. Unvaccinated contractors will also be unable to work with BHP. The mining giant has joined other major Australian companies, such as Bunnings, Qantas and Telstra to implement the measures.
17th Feb 2022 - 9News

The last of Canada's Covid-19 demonstrations may end soon as Ottawa police warn of consequences of staying

A nearly three-week protest in Ottawa over mandated Covid-19 precautions in Canada may be approaching its end as police tell demonstrators to either leave immediately or face legal consequences. "You must leave the area now," the Ottawa Police Service said in a statement to protesters Wednesday. "Anyone blocking streets or assisting others in the blocking (of) streets, are committing a criminal offence and you may be arrested." Many demonstrators have vowed to hold out for as long as necessary, and the federal government has moved to enact emergency powers to freeze financial support of the protests despite opposition in Parliament. Beginning with a group of truckers arriving in Ottawa in late January objecting to a vaccine mandate, the protest has morphed into a general airing of grievances against all Covid-19 safety protocols.
17th Feb 2022 - CNN

Fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates used by Australians to beat mandates and enter venues

Unvaccinated Australians are using fake certificates to gain entry to venues the government banned them from at the beginning of this month. The services were first identified late last year, but they are gaining prominence in online forums among people opposed to vaccine mandates in Australia. The ABC has seen one such website, hosted in Russia, that generates highly convincing fakes. It includes an animation that mimics the green tick and a moving Australian coat of arms, and a clock supposedly counting down the time from login.
17th Feb 2022 - ABC News

Canada police threaten protesters with arrest; government links blockade to extremists

Police in the Canadian capital Ottawa on Wednesday warned truck drivers blockading the downtown core to depart or face arrest in crackdown seeking to end a three-week-old protest over COVID restrictions. Interim Police Chief Steve Bell vowed "to take back the entirety of the downtown core and every occupied space" in "coming days." Federal Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino accused extremist groups of helping organize protests in Ottawa and at U.S. border crossings and repeated suggestions that some actors wanted to overthrow the Liberal government.
17th Feb 2022 - Reuters Canada

Truckers brace for a police crackdown in besieged Ottawa

Hundreds of truckers clogging the streets of Canada’s capital stood their ground and defiantly blasted their horns Thursday as police poured in, threatening to break up the nearly three-week protest against the country’s COVID-19 restrictions. Busloads of police officers arrived near Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, and workers put up extra fences around government buildings. “The action is imminent,” said interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell. “We absolutely are committed to end this unlawful demonstration.” Police continued negotiating with the protesters and trying to to persuade them to go home, Bell said. “We want this demonstration to end peacefully,” he said, but added: “If they do not peacefully leave, we have plans.”
17th Feb 2022 - Bipartisan Report


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Air Force officer can avoid coronavirus vaccination for now, federal judge rules

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Air Force to let an officer stay unvaccinated against the coronavirus temporarily, without penalties, making her the first in the branch to receive a court injunction that excuses her from a military-wide vaccine mandate. Although the military has granted hundreds of medical exemptions to service members, it has been much stricter about religious exemptions, which the officer had unsuccessfully requested. Last month, a federal court sided with 35 Navy sailors who had sued the Biden administration to grant them religious exemptions, and the Marines granted the military’s first such exemptions.
16th Feb 2022 - The Washington Post

Canadian government wants to quickly clear COVID protest blockades in Ottawa

Police in the Canadian capital Ottawa on Wednesday started warning truck drivers blockading the downtown core that they should depart or face arrest, part of a promised crackdown to end a three-week-old protest over COVID restrictions. "You must leave the area now. Anyone blocking streets ... (is) committing a criminal offense and you may be arrested," read leaflets handed out by police to truckers. "You must immediately cease further unlawful activity." Police also started ticketing some of the hundreds of vehicles blocking the downtown core.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

New Zealand COVID vaccine protesters defy police ultimatum to leave parliament

An anti-vaccine mandate protest outside New Zealand's parliament swelled in numbers on Wednesday, with hundreds of people ignoring a warning from police that their vehicles would be towed away if they did not leave voluntarily. Inspired by truckers' demonstrations in Canada, protesters have blocked several roads around Wellington's 'Beehive' parliament for nine days with trucks, vans and motorcycles, and camped out on the lawns in front of the distinctive building. "There has been an influx of protesters at Parliament today, including children. However, the crowd had been orderly," Assistant Police Commissioner Richard Chambers told reporters, estimating there were about 450 vehicles blocking the site.
16th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Djokovic 'wrong' to refuse vaccine, top sport doctor says

A top orthopaedic surgeon who helped re-open sporting and cultural events as lockdown restrictions lifted said he disagreed with Novak Djokovic’s decision not to get vaccinated. Professor James Calder, who worked with Public Health England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to enable sports to return after lockdown, said it must have been “a really tough decision” for the athlete but said it was “wrong”. The medic made the remarks after collecting an OBE at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.
16th Feb 2022 - MSN UK


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Feb 2022

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Djokovic prepared to miss Grand Slams if COVID jab made mandatory

Novak Djokovic is prepared to miss the French Open and Wimbledon rather than have a COVID-19 vaccination but denies being an anti-vaxxer, the world number one said in his first interview since his failed attempt to play at the Australian Open. After an 11-day rollercoaster involving two visa cancellations, two court challenges and five nights in two stints at an immigration detention hotel, the unvaccinated Djokovic was deported.
15th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Israelis mount their own COVID 'Freedom Convoy'

Hundreds of vehicles drove along the main highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday and converged on parliament to protest against COVID-19 curbs in a convoy inspired by demonstrations in Canada. Other protesters stood on overpasses and at junctions as the so-called "Freedom Convoy" passed by, withbanners and Israeli and Canadian flags flying from the vehicles. "Freedom doesn't look like this," read one sign, showing a picture of a girl in a mask. Outside parliament, protesters sounded horns and beat drums, and called for pandemic restrictions to be lifted.
15th Feb 2022 - Reuters

More data on Canadian 'Freedom Convoy' donors leaked -website

The leak website Distributed Denial of Secrets on Tuesday said it has posted more donor files from the fundraising platform GiveSendGo relating to the Canadian movement of people opposed to pandemic health measures, including COVID-19 vaccine mandates. On Sunday, the DDoS website, which is devoted to disseminating leaked data, said it was releasing donor information relating to the "Freedom Convoy 2022" campaign, which raised more than $2 million in donations. It includes funds raised from several Canadian business owners. Tuesday's leak contains donor information about a similar “Adopt-a-Trucker” campaign, which says it is operating “in partnership with the Freedom Convoy." The Adopt-a-Trucker effort appeared to raise less money and involved fewer donors.
15th Feb 2022 - Reuters

Unvaccinated medical workers turn to religious exemptions

In the US, religious exemptions are increasingly becoming a workaround for unvaccinated hospital and nursing home workers who want to keep their jobs in the face of federal mandates that are going into effect nationwide this week. In some institutions, religious exemptions are being invoked by staff and approved by managers in large numbers. It’s a tricky issue for hospital administrators, who are struggling to maintain adequate staff levels and are often reticent to question the legitimacy of the requests.
14th Feb 2022 - Associated Press


Partisan Exits - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 15th Feb 2022

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New York City Fires 1430 Unvaccinated Workers Following Deadline

More than 1,400 public-sector workers in New York City were fired over their refusal to get vaccinated before the city’s mandated Feb. 11 deadline, most of whom were Department of Education employees. The terminations make up less than 1% of the city’s 370,000-member workforce. About half of the 3,000 employees originally at risk for being fired decided to get vaccinated before the deadline, according to a City Hall spokesperson. New York City mayor Eric Adams characterized the employees’ termination as quitting, saying that they’re choosing to leave their jobs by not following the rules.
15th Feb 2022 - Bloomberg

New Zealand's PM signals harsher stance on vaccine protest

New Zealand’s prime minister on Monday said protesters who oppose coronavirus mandates were using “intimidation and harassment,” as authorities appeared to take a harsher stance toward the convoy of demonstrators that has disrupted the capital of Wellington for nearly a week. Police initially let the protesters set up tents and camp on the grounds of New Zealand’s Parliament before arresting 122 people on Thursday and then backing off again. The size of the protest dropped to a few hundred last week but increased again to around 3,000 over the weekend. Speaking with reporters, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern signaled the thinning patience of authorities. “I very clearly have a view on the protesters and the way that they’ve conducted their protest because it has moved beyond sharing a view to intimidation and harassment of the people around central Wellington,” she said. “That cannot be tolerated.” Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard tried to make the protesters uncomfortable last week by turning on lawn sprinklers and blasting out decades-old Barry Manilow songs and the 1990s hit “Macarena” on a repeat loop.
14th Feb 2022 - The Associated Press

French anti-vaxxers buying fake Covid passes online

Anti-vaxxers in France are buying fake vaccine passes online to get around the country’s Covid restrictions, which are often promoted on mainstream social media platforms, research has revealed. Many buying the forgeries, which can be used across the European Union (EU), are being redirected f