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Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th Nov 2020

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Singaporean mother gives birth to baby with COVID-19 antibodies

A Singaporean woman who was pregnant when she was infected with coronavirus in March has reportedly given birth to a baby with antibodies against the disease, offering a new clue as to whether the infection can be transferred from mother to child. The baby, who was was born this month, does not have COVID-19 but has the virus antibodies, the Straits Times newspaper reported on Sunday, citing the mother.
30th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Breakingviews - AstraZeneca’s messaging warrants a review, too

In the current environment, careful communication is critical. As many as 40% of Americans are unwilling to take a Covid-19 vaccine, according to an October Gallup poll. Although drug giants have vowed not to profit from coronavirus jabs during the pandemic, the speed of the vaccine rollouts itself breeds wariness. Things will get even more awkward if AstraZeneca’s new review finds its vaccine is less useful than assumed. Investors will be watching, too. AstraZeneca’s shares have fallen nearly 5% since it revealed its results on Monday. Big Pharma valuations are based on the ability to deliver new blockbuster drugs and developing a track record for delivering on your pledges is an integral part of the mix. AstraZeneca should bear that in mind when it gets the results of its latest review back.
30th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

UK secures two million more doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine

Britain has secured two million doses of Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, to be available in Europe as early as the spring, the government said on Sunday, in addition to the 5 million doses it secured from the U.S. company two weeks ago. The new deal came a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson named Nadhim Zahawi, a junior business minister, to be minister responsible for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines. Britain now has access to enough doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate for around 3.5 million people. Overall, it has access to 357 million doses of vaccines from seven developers, according to government statement.
29th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

CDC panel meets Tuesday to vote on COVID-19 vaccine priority

A panel of U.S. advisers will meet Tuesday to vote on how scarce, initial supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine will be given out once one has been approved. Experts have proposed giving the vaccine to health workers first. High priority also may be given to workers in essential industries, people with certain medical conditions and people age 65 and older. Tuesday's meeting is for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The panel of experts recommends who to vaccinate and when -- advice that the government almost always follows. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna Inc. is expected to also seek emergency use of its vaccine soon.
28th Nov 2020 - The Independent

UK regulator set to approve Covid-19 vaccine next week

The UK is poised to become the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine, with the independent regulator set to grant approval within days. Deliveries of the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer would begin within hours of the authorisation, according to government officials. The first injections could take place from December 7. The UK has ordered 40m doses of the two-shot product, which preliminary data found to be more than 95 per cent effective in preventing disease. Vaccines would normally be authorised by the European Medicines Agency until the end of the Brexit transition on December 31. However the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has the power to temporarily authorise products, in cases of urgent public need.
28th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

GPs step up in 2020 to tackle Covid-19

After the toughest year ever for general practice, Nicola Merrifield reflects on how GPs have stood up to be counted. This year’s battle with Covid-19, has meant GPs have had to be more dedicated and adaptable than ever. They have taken on new ways of remote working and run outdoor or socially distanced clinics, often with smaller teams due to staff self-isolating. There has also been a monumental effort to maintain normal services as far as possible, at a time when GP numbers continue to fall – down by 1.2% on last year, with 334 fewer full-time-equivalent GPs in England, according to the latest official NHS data from September.
28th Nov 2020 - Pulse

SAGE says UK coronavirus cases may double in Christmas lockdown ease

SPI-M-O group warned of massive surges in infections as a result of Christmas This would be because people will mix with those they would not normally see Britons will be able to meet with others from up to three different households
28th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Why Oxford's Covid-19 vaccine could do more for the world than other shots

In the days since Oxford University and AstraZeneca unveiled the results of the partnership's Phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trials, a growing number of questions have emerged. The stated 70% average efficacy was significantly lower than the 94.5% to 95% reported by the other two leading candidates, Moderna and Pfizer. Yet this vaccine could still prove to be more valuable for the world than the other two in the coming months. If the questions over its results are answered and it receives approval, it may lead the way in providing vaccine coverage in poorer countries where it is urgently needed.
28th Nov 2020 - CNN

Covid 19: Redcar rapid testing rolled out amid mass testing talks

Rapid Covid tests will be introduced in an area previously dropped from the mass testing programme. Redcar Council has received 10,000 lateral flow tests, which are able to produce results in under half an hour. A pilot to offer tests to Redcar's 36,000 residents did not go ahead and now the authority is in talks over the cost of reintroducing it. Councillor Steve Kay said the 10,000 rapid tests would help protect the "most vulnerable". All councils in the Tees Valley have been offered the opportunity for residents to take part in mass testing.
28th Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: Mass testing a 'distraction' from vaccine rollout - health leaders

Mass testing plans in England threaten to be a "distraction" from other priorities such as the rollout of a vaccine, health leaders have warned. The PM has said mass community testing, as seen in Liverpool, will be offered to all areas in tier three after lockdown ends. But experts have questioned whether this is possible due to the "enormous" resources it requires. The government said it will work with local authorities to support plans. In a joint statement, the Faculty of Public Health and the Association of Directors of Public Health said improving NHS Test and Trace must remain the top focus for testing.
28th Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid vaccine trials did NOT monitor whether participants took other steps to prevent infection like wearing masks and social distancing

A participant in Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine trials told Business Insider that the firm did not monitor the participants behavior if they didn't feel sick. Moderna also did not specify how to behave or track data on the participants' actions during its trial It was left up to individuals to wear masks or socially distance - behaviors that are estimated to reduce the risk of spreading or catching COVID-19.
27th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Europe coronavirus: Second wave began in Spain before spreading via tourists, study suggests

Europe was hit hard by a coronavirus second wave that saw cases rise faster than on any other continent. Scientists have identified a new viral strain they believe is to blame for much of the wave, which first emerged among fruit pickers in northern Spain before being passed to tourists as borders reopened. Tourists took the new strain home, where it spread like wildfire among local communites as rules were relaxed. Strain now accounts for up to 70 per cent of cases in Switzerland, Ireland, and the UK, and is 'prevalent' in Norway, Latvia, the Netherlands, and France
27th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Suspected North Korean hackers targeted COVID vaccine maker AstraZeneca - sources

Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the systems of British drugmaker AstraZeneca in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, as the company races to deploy its vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. The hackers posed as recruiters on networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp to approach AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers, the sources said. They then sent documents purporting to be job descriptions that were laced with malicious code designed to gain access to a victim’s computer. The hacking attempts targeted a “broad set of people” including staff working on COVID-19 research, said one of the sources, but are not thought to have been successful.
27th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Why Covid-19 patients with diabetes or heart disease are more likely to die

Researchers studied the role of cholesterol in coronavirus infection. Found the presence of high cholesterol is linked to increased infection of cells. Believed the coronavirus binds to cholesterol and hijacks a lift to the cell surface Once here it can then easily attach to ACE2, the receptor which allows the virus into human cells
27th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

More than 1,300 wrongly told they have Covid after Test and Trace lab error

More than 1,300 people were wrongly told they had coronavirus due to a lab error with the government’s Test and Trace service. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said 1,311 people who took a test from 19-23 November across the UK were incorrectly told they received a positive result. It said there was an issue with a batch of testing chemicals which meant their results were void. A DHSC spokesman said: “Swift action is being taken to notify those affected and they are being asked to take another test, and to continue to self-isolate if they have symptoms. This laboratory error was an isolated incident and is being fully investigated to ensure this does not happen again.” The DHSC did not comment on whether the error affected regionalinfection rate figures.
27th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Chief Medical Officer dodges giving AstraZeneca jab his full backing as the company reveals it will run a NEW Oxford vaccine trial because NO ONE who got accidental low dose that had 90% success rate was aged over 55

Chris Whitty refused to back the injection when asked about controversial data Vaccine scrutinised after it was found to be 70 per cent effective on average But it is but 90% effective with low-dose jab followed by standard booster jab This higher result, based on a sub-group of 2,700 people, was met with concern It came when it emerged that no one in the group was reportedly aged over 55
26th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Type O blood linked to lower COVID risk, taking Vitamin D unlikely to help

The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
27th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

WHO warns countries with falling COVID cases to stay alert

Even if countries see a fall in coronavirus cases, they need to stay vigilant, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for COVID-19, said on Friday. “What we don’t want to see is situations where you are moving from lockdown to bringing (the virus) under control to another lockdown,” she told a virtual briefing in Geneva. Nearly 61 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1.4 million have died, according to a Reuters tally. “It is in our power to keep transmission low,” she said. “We have seen dozens of countries show us that it can be brought under control and kept under control.”
27th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Does the AstraZeneca Vaccine Also Stop Covid Transmission?

Vaccines can prevent symptoms, but some can also keep people from spreading infection. That’s critical, and no one knows if the new vaccines do it.
25th Nov 2020 - WIRED


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Nov 2020

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Covaxx inks supply deals worth $2.8B in lead-up to coronavirus vaccine midstage trials

While some of the leading players in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine are racing toward the finish line, a range of smaller challengers is still hoping to carve out a market niche in the coming months. One of those, New York's Covaxx, is rolling out its first swath of supply deals—and touting its shot's logistics advantage. Covaxx has inked a trio of deals with three South American nations to provide up to 140 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine at a price tag of $2.8 billion as the drugmaker prepares to enter phase 2/3 testing later this year. Brazil, Ecuador and Peru have all signed on to receive Covaxx's shot, dubbed UB-612, pending regulatory approval. Covaxx is ramping up production to produce 100 million doses in the first half of 2021 and then make a massive leap to churn out 1 billion doses by the end of the year.
25th Nov 2020 - FiercePharma

Britain asks regulator to assess Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Britain on Friday asked its medicine regulator to assess Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate for temporary supply, a step towards beginning a roll-out before the end of the year. AstraZeneca expects 4 million doses to be available in Britain by the end of next month, and health minister Hancock is targeting the roll-out to begin before Christmas. “We have formally asked the regulator to assess the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, to understand the data and determine whether it meets rigorous safety standards,” Hancock said in a statement. “This letter is an important step towards deploying a vaccine as quickly as safely possible.”
27th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Volunteers discuss side-effects after receiving Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines

Volunteers who received two of the potential coronavirus vaccines in the US have spoken out about the side-effects they experienced following their jabs. This month, Moderna and Pfizer announced their vaccine candidates had been tested to 94.5 per cent and 95 per cent efficacy respectively. Jennifer Haller, who was injected on 16 March with Moderna’s experimental vaccine in Seattle, told WVPI-TV she only experienced mild side-effects as a result. "I had two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart,” she told the broadcaster. “Each time my arm was pretty sore the next day but besides that I personally didn't experience any other side effects." Ms Haller was the first person to receive a shot of Moderna’s candidate at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute as part of the first human trial of a vaccine to prevent the virus.
26th Nov 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

AstraZeneca CEO says co likely to run new global trial on COVID-19 vaccine - Bloomberg News

AstraZeneca is likely to run an additional global trial to assess the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine, its chief executive Pascal Soriot was quoted as saying on Thursday after questions over the results from its late-stage study. Instead of adding the trial arm to an ongoing U.S. process, a new study would be run to evaluate a lower dosage that performed better than a full amount in AstraZeneca's studies, Soriot was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg News report. "Now that we've found what looks like a better efficacy we have to validate this, so we need to do an additional study," Soriot was quoted as saying.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Africa CDC sees COVID-19 vaccinations in 2nd quarter of 2021

Vaccinations against COVID-19 in Africa might not start until the second quarter of next year, the continent's top public health official said Thursday, adding that it will be “extremely dangerous” if more developed parts of the world vaccinate themselves and then restrict travel to people with proof of a vaccination. The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, told reporters that “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available” in the past. And he warned that “it’s clear the second wave (of infections) is here on the continent” of 1.3 billion people. Africa last week surpassed 2 million confirmed coronavirus infections.
26th Nov 2020 - ABC

AstraZeneca will likely re-test its COVID-19 vaccine, CEO says after admitting an error in the first trial that led to skewed results

The UK pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is likely to run a second global trial to assess its COVID-19 vaccine's efficacy, its CEO told Bloomberg News on Thursday. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford announced Monday that preliminary results indicated their two-dose vaccine could be up to 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. But the team later said an error in the trial left some participants with half-doses instead of full doses. Experts said that error cast doubt on the validity of the efficacy rate and warranted further study.
26th Nov 2020 - Business Insider

Could Covid-19 Cause Your Teeth to Fall Out?

Earlier this month, Farah Khemili popped a wintergreen breath mint in her mouth and noticed a strange sensation: a bottom tooth wiggling against her tongue. Ms. Khemili, 43, of Voorheesville, N.Y., had never lost an adult tooth. She touched the tooth to confirm it was loose, initially thinking the problem might be the mint. The next day, the tooth flew out of her mouth and into her hand. There was neither blood nor pain. Ms. Khemili survived a bout with Covid-19 this spring, and has joined an online support group as she has endured a slew of symptoms experienced by many other “long haulers”: brain fog, muscle aches and nerve pain.
26th Nov 2020 - The New York Times

AstraZeneca manufacturing error clouds vaccine study results

AstraZeneca and Oxford University have acknowledged a manufacturing error that is raising questions about preliminary results of their experimental COVID-19 vaccine. A statement describing the error on Wednesday came days after the company and the university described the shots as "highly effective" and made no mention of why some study participants didn't receive as much vaccine in the first of two shots as expected. In a surprise, the group of volunteers that got a lower dose seemed to be much better protected than the volunteers who got two full doses. In the low-dose group, AstraZeneca said, the vaccine appeared to be 90 per cent effective. In the group that got two full doses, the vaccine appeared to be 62 per cent effective. Combined, the drugmakers said the vaccine appeared to be 70 per cent effective.
26th Nov 2020 - National Herald

Covid-19: African Union in talks with China and Russia over vaccine |

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union announced they have been in talks with China and Russia over the possibility of vaccine partnerships to ensure that Africa is not left behind when vaccines become available. This was disclosed by John Nkengasong, Africa CDC Chief, at the Bloomberg Invest Africa online conference.
26th Nov 2020 - Nairametrics

Coronavirus lockdowns contributing to faster deterioration in dementia patients, research finds

Forced into lockdowns to prevent the spread of coronavirus, families of people with dementia have been left heartbroken that being isolated appears to have contributed to the deterioration of their loved ones. For Verity Jausnik, coronavirus restrictions meant she was unable to spend quality time with her elderly mother, Vivien "Viv" Russell. Ms Russell, 72, has lived with early onset dementia for a decade but an accelerated deterioration of her condition during the lockdown of her aged care home has meant she has lost her ability to remember her family, particularly her grandchildren.
26th Nov 2020 - ABC News

Scientists ask to see evidence behind relaxing UK's Christmas Covid rules

Ministers are facing calls to publish scientific advice on the relaxing of Covid-19 rules over Christmas amid warnings that a single infectious guest could infect a third of those at a household gathering. Under rules revealed by the prime minister on Tuesday, up to three households can form a “bubble” for five days over Christmas. It prompted some scientists to speak out, warning that mixing will inevitably lead to an increase in infections come the new year, leading to deaths. Some said the government should have put greater emphasis on the dangers and potential control measures. Now experts have called for the government to release advice given by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Doubts raised over AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine data

Disquiet is growing over the way that Oxford university and AstraZeneca have handled the early readout from trials of their coronavirus vaccine, which much of the developing world may rely on to emerge from the pandemic. The results were hailed a success for showing an average efficacy of 70 per cent — a figure reached by pooling the results from cohorts on two different dosing regimens. One set of participants received two identical doses a month apart, while the other group received a half-dose, and then a full dose. The efficacy for the first, larger group was 62 per cent. In the second subgroup, it was 90 per cent. It has emerged that administration of the half-dose started with a mistake. It was then given to a smaller number of participants than those who received two full doses, making the discovery of its greater effectiveness look like a lucky break.
26th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Untested, untraced: how three-quarters of Covid contacts slip through cracks

Statistics show how ‘world-beating’ tracing scheme fails to follow up on Covid-19 cases at every step. It was in May that Boris Johnson promised the UK would have a “world-beating” test-and-trace operation in place within weeks. “Our test-and-trace system is as good as, or better than, any other system anywhere in the world,” he doubled down in July. But nearly half a year after the system was established, thousands of Covid-19 cases still go undetected each week, leaving severe lockdown restrictions as the only option to prevent hospitals across the country from collapsing. The Guardian has analysed the latest figures on the performance of test and trace to show how people at risk of spreading the virus go missing at every step of the process.
26th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

NHS Test and Trace misses 40% of contacts in a week - just above all-time low

The widely criticised NHS Test and Trace system is still failing to reach two in five coronavirus contacts and remains near a record low, new figures show. Of the 347,575 close contacts of someone who has tested positive in the week to November 18, only 60.3% were reached and told to self-isolate. This is down slightly from 60.7% in the previous week, and is also just above the all-time low of 60.1% for the week to October 14. It is well below the 80% target. Positive Covid-19 cases in England fell 9% in the latest week, the first week-on-week drop since the summer. For cases managed by local health protection teams, 99.0% of contacts were reached and asked to self-isolate in the week to November 18.
26th Nov 2020 - Daily Mirror

Antibody testing likely undercounts the number of people who have had COVID-19: More than 25% of infected health care workers had NO signs of it in their blood work 60 days later

CDC researchers found that 6% of more than 3,000 health care workers they tested had antibodies to coronavirus. Within 60 days, when they were retested 28% of the health care workers had antibody levels so low that they could no longer be detected. Researchers warn this suggests that using antibody testing likely undercounts how many people have had COVID-19 and that plasma has a short shelf life
26th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Analysis: Questions over AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine data risk delaying approval

Days after grabbing headlines with its COVID-19 “vaccine for the world”, AstraZeneca is facing tricky questions about its success rate that some experts say could hinder its chances of getting speedy U.S. and EU regulatory approval. Several scientists have raised doubts about the robustness of results showing the shot was 90% effective in a sub-group of trial participants who, by error initially, received a half dose followed by a full dose. “All we have to go on is a limited data release,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London. “We have to wait for the full data and to see how the regulators view the results,” he said, adding that U.S. and European regulators “might possibly take a different view” from each other.
26th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Feds on COVID-19 mRNA vaccine distribution: Pfizer's dry runs predict a 'very doable process'

What will it take to distribute the first 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, if all goes according to plan and they ship in mid-December? Alex Azar, secretary of health and human services, acknowledged during a press conference Tuesday that the logistics—which include the need for ultra-cold storage—will be far from easy. But Azar and two other top officials running the government’s Operation Warp Speed effort to speed COVID-19 vaccine distribution did their best to boost the public’s confidence. The FDA has scheduled a meeting to review Pfizer’s vaccine on December 10, and if it’s authorized as expected, it could start shipping within 24 hours, Azar said. In addition to speeding the vaccine to healthcare workers, “CVS Health has said they expect to be vaccinating residents of nursing homes, one of the top priority groups, within 48 hours of FDA authorization,” he said.
25th Nov 2020 - FiercePharma

CureVac ties up Wacker to churn out more than 100M doses of mRNA coronavirus vaccine

Riding a wave of interest in mRNA-based vaccines, Germany's CureVac is looking to rapidly drive manufacturing of its own shot candidate. After announcing a plan to bring more partners on board, CureVac has knotted the first of those deals to the tune of 100 million doses. CureVac has tagged German chemical company Wacker to churn out drug substance for its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine with the goal of adding 100 million doses per year to the biotech's stockpile, the partners said this week. Wacker will produce those doses at its Amsterdam facility starting in the first half of 2021, the companies said. The firm plans to "ramp up" its manufacturing capacity to meet that demand and is prepared to expand in the future to add more doses.
25th Nov 2020 - FiercePharma

Less than 10% of Americans had COVID by September, study finds

Large-scale seroprevalence studies conducted over the summer show that, through September, less than 1 in 10 of Americans had evidence of previous coronavirus infection, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine. In the nationwide seroprevalence survey, researchers from the CDC's COVID-19 Response Team tested blood serum samples from people in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico during four periods from July through September, looking for the presence of detectable antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, (the virus that causes COVID-19.
25th Nov 2020 - CIDRAP

What the biopharma industry is doing to build confidence in Covid-19 vaccines

Over the last few weeks, the United States has surpassed 100,000 Covid-19 cases a day and reached the staggering milestone of 10 million cases. This is both sobering and humbling. While there has been encouraging news about progress in the development of Covid-19 vaccines, making sure that Americans have confidence in these vaccines is crucial to helping bend the curve of infections and getting us back to some semblance of normalcy. According to researchers writing in The Lancet, we will need a majority of Americans to have the confidence to get vaccinated for Covid-19 vaccines to be effective in moving the U.S. toward population-level control of viral spread. As Anthony Fauci has noted, “If you have a vaccine that is highly effective and not enough people get vaccinated, you’re not going to realize the full, important effect of having a vaccine.”
25th Nov 2020 - STAT News

Studies find no COVID benefit for preventive hydroxychloroquine or for convalescent plasma

Two studies published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that two once-promising but largely discredited COVID-19 treatments —hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma—didn't prevent infection or lead to clinical improvement. 'No compelling data' - The first study, an open-label trial led by researchers at Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol in Barcelona, Spain, involved randomly assigning clusters of healthy adults with high-risk, close-contact exposure to a COVID-19 patient to either 800 milligrams (mg) of hydroxychloroquine followed by 6 days of 400-mg doses or usual care.
25th Nov 2020 - CIDRAP


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Nov 2020

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I'm a medical writer who just got vaccinated against COVID-19, maybe. You can still join the clinical trial.

Earlier this week, the drug company AstraZeneca announced that its vaccine was highly effective against COVID-19. That’s great news for society. We now have three vaccines against the disease that are getting closer to winning approval. It also was good news for me. I think. Maybe. I hope. At some point in my adult life, I developed an obsession with numbers — especially the kind that might reveal the odds of something happening, such as who will win the presidential election. Or whether the Packers should go for it on fourth and three. Or what my chances are of dying of COVID-19.
25th Nov 2020 - USA Today

New Covid-19 Vaccines Stir Hope for the World’s Poor

With three Western vaccines showing promising effectiveness and a coalition of international health agencies gaining traction, there is cautious optimism in the scramble to secure some doses for the world’s poorest countries. Promising trial results inspire optimism in the developing world, which could yet become a reservoir for the virus for years to come if this issue is not addressed
25th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Blood tests for Covid-19 could be made 'up to 100,000 times more sensitive' by using nanodiamonds

Exclusive: Pregnancy test-like sticks are currently being trialled for Covid-19. But they, like the widely-used HIV equivalent, use gold nanoparticles. A red line is made to indicate a positive result when gold particles stick to virus. But using glowing nanodiamonds instead of gold particles gives a stronger signal and is also much more sensitive
25th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Tier 1 had 'little impact' on Covid-19 transmission, study suggests

Researchers analysed how well the UK Government’s tiers worked in England, before the second national lockdown came into effect. Tier 1 restrictions were largely inadequate and Tier 2 rules were only effective in around half of local authority areas, according to the University of East Anglia study. Tier 3 restrictions seemed to be effective in most areas, the research which has not yet been peer-reviewed found. However, the researchers say the real problem lies with regions not being allocated to the most appropriate tier swiftly enough.
25th Nov 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

A Cluster-Randomized Trial of Hydroxychloroquine for Prevention of Covid-19

The analysis included 2314 healthy contacts of 672 index case patients with Covid-19 who were identified between March 17 and April 28, 2020. A total of 1116 contacts were randomly assigned to receive hydroxychloroquine and 1198 to receive usual care. Results were similar in the hydroxychloroquine and usual-care groups with respect to the incidence of PCR-confirmed, symptomatic Covid-19 (5.7% and 6.2%, respectively; risk ratio, 0.86 [95% confidence interval, 0.52 to 1.42]). In addition, hydroxychloroquine was not associated with a lower incidence of SARS-CoV-2 transmission than usual care (18.7% and 17.8%, respectively). The incidence of adverse events was higher in the hydroxychloroquine group than in the usual-care group (56.1% vs. 5.9%), but no treatment-related serious adverse events were reported.
25th Nov 2020 - nejm.org

After dosing mix-up, latest COVID-19 vaccine success comes with big question mark

Some evidence suggests that slowly escalating the dose of a vaccine more closely mimics a natural viral infection, leading to a more robust immune response. “It’s not really mechanistically pinned down exactly how it works,” Hill says. Because the different dosing schemes likely led to different immune responses, Hill says researchers have a chance to suss out the mechanism by comparing vaccinated participants’ antibody and T cell levels. The 62% efficacy, he says, “is a blessing in disguise.” But Moore says the low-dose prime group resulted in too few cases to be confident in its results. “Was that a real, statistically robust 90%?” he asks.
25th Nov 2020 - Science Magazine

Researchers Say 90% Of Recent Coronavirus Sequences In U.K. Came From Spain

The U.K is on its second lockdown, and scientists say most sequences of new cases are from a coronavirus strain that originated in Spain — which British tourists brought home from summer vacations.
25th Nov 2020 - NPR

Young people's anxiety levels doubled during lockdown: Study

New research adds to a growing body of evidence that young people's anxiety levels doubled during Covid-19 lockdown. The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, revealed that the number of young people with anxiety doubled from 13 per cent to 24 per cent, during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
25th Nov 2020 - The Times of India

Gender-based violence was predictable, and preventable, fallout of lockdown

The National Commission for Women sounded an alarm in early April that domestic violence cases had spiked in just the first week of the Covid-19 lockdown, as had distress calls. This was echoed by the UN Secretary-General who used the term 'shadow pandemic.' Since then, across the world, police, shelters and helplines have confirmed that although the incidence of domestic violence was always higher than we would like to admit, ther was an alarming increase in its frequenct during the panemic.
25th Nov 2020 - The Indian Express

AstraZeneca Faces Difficult Questions About Its Vaccine After Admitting Mistake

Some trial participants only got a partial dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Experts said the company’s spotty disclosures have eroded confidence.
25th Nov 2020 - The New York Times

First round of US lockdowns cost about $6million for each death that was avoided, study finds

Study looked at cost of government-ordered shutdowns from March to May. Found that lockdowns saved 29,000 lives at a total cost of $169 billion. Costs included job losses and declines in companies' market value. Study comes as states impose new restrictions and virus surges
25th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

China stepping up virus testing on imported food packaging

China is stepping up virus inspections on imported food packaging as cooler weather brings new waves of coronavirus infections in several overseas countries, Chinese officials said Wednesday. Packaging is “not exempt” from carrying the virus, deputy director of the National Food Safety Risk Assessment Center Li Ning told reporters. While the coronavirus positivity rate for tests on packages was just 0.48 per 10,000, that proportion is increasing along with the number of tests being conducted, Li said. She said the virus could “to some extent” be passed to humans from packaging, although neither Li or any other official at Wednesday’s news conference mentioned any such confirmed cases.
25th Nov 2020 - The Associated Press

How Iceland hammered COVID with science

Driving along Reykjavik’s windswept roads on a cold March morning, Kári Stefánsson turned up the radio. The World Health Organization had just announced that an estimated 3.4% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 would die — a shockingly high fatality rate, some 30 times larger than that for seasonal influenza. There was a problem with that estimate, however: it was based on reported cases of COVID-19, rather than all cases, including mild and asymptomatic infections. “I couldn’t figure out how they could calculate it out without knowing the spread of the virus,” recalls Stefánsson, who is the founder and chief executive of deCODE genetics, a human-genomics company in Reykjavik. He became convinced that making sense of the epidemic, and protecting the people of Iceland from it, would require a sweeping scientific response.
25th Nov 2020 - Nature.com

World scrambles for vaccine deals as COVID infections near 60 million

Countries around the world agonised over new coronavirus curbs ahead of Christmas and other holidays as global infections approached 60 million on Wednesday and U.S. officials pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving. The holiday weekend is expected to fuel a surge of infections in the United States, which leads the world with soaring COVID-19 infections and the daily toll on Tuesday climbing above 2,000, the highest 24-hour tally since early May. “All the Thanksgiving travel ensures no one will catch us, either,” said Dr. Tatiana Prowell of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “The U.S. ‘each person for himself’ mindset is killing hundreds of thousands of us. Devastating to watch,” Prowell said on Twitter.
25th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Sinopharm applies for approval from China to launch vaccine: state media

Chinese pharmaceutical giant files for regulatory approval, according to Xinhua Finance. China National Biotec Group executive says data review is not complete but Sinopharm chairman says vaccines are protective and safe
25th Nov 2020 - South China Morning Post


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 25th Nov 2020

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How viruses like Covid trick us into spending more time socialising

Can viruses such as the one that causes Covid-19 attack our brains and change our behaviour — thereby prolonging an outbreak? That’s the suggestion from U.S. researchers who say that the coronavirus may be manipulating the behaviour of infected people, sometimes even before they show symptoms, so they become more sociable. In fact, such behaviour-changing effects of viruses — so-called behavioural host manipulation — are not new, and have previously been reported for the flu and rabies viruses, among others.
24th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Wealth of data to help understand Covid-19 spread 'not being utilised'

The UK is trailing behind other countries in making use of data to better understand the spread and economic impact of the coronavirus, a team of researchers have said. Aggregated and anonymised data from mobile networks on how people move around and payment transaction data already gathered by companies are just some of the ways that could help give a more accurate picture of the pandemic at national and local levels, the Data Readiness: Lessons from an Emergency report suggests.
24th Nov 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Russia says its Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine is up to 95% effective

A coronavirus vaccine developed by Russia is up to 95% effective at stopping people developing Covid-19 symptoms, according to its developers. Second interim data from the Sputnik V vaccine appears to provide 91.4% protection 28 days after the first dose and the researchers say the figure is as high as 95% 42 days after the first dose.
24th Nov 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Coronavirus vaccine rollout to start second week of December, CDC director says

CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield said he sees the firsts coronavirus vaccine doses being rolled out the second week of December. HHS officials also announced Tuesday that 6.4 million doses of Pfizer's shot would be released in their first distribution once it gets emergency approval. The FDA's advisory committee will meet to discuss whether to give emergency use authorization to Pfizer's vaccine on December 10. Operation Warp Speed says it is ready to roll a vaccine within 24 hours of its emergency approval. Speaking on Fox's The Daily Briefing, Dr Redfield also said that household gatherings are fueling the latest surge in coronavirus cases. Health and Human Services Secretary also said Tuesday that states will have the 'final say' who should be first priority to get vaccinated.
24th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID vaccine works — but scientists have questions

Early data indicate that the Oxford–AstraZeneca jab is effective, but dose makes a difference. Plus, the scientific dilemma posed by emergency vaccine approvals, and an AI that sums up papers in a sentence.
24th Nov 2020 - Nature.com

Bill Gates: 'Almost all' coronavirus vaccines will work by February

Bill Gates is feeling optimistic about coronavirus vaccine development. The first two vaccine candidates likely to receive FDA authorization, one from Pfizer and the other from Moderna, appear to be 95 percent effective against the virus. But the Microsoft co-founder and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also has high hopes for vaccines that haven't yet made big headlines, including those developed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. "Almost all the vaccines will work and with very high efficacy levels," Gates told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview on Sunday. "I'm optimistic that by February it's very likely that they'll all prove very efficacious and safe."
24th Nov 2020 - CNET

Politics, Science and the Remarkable Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine

The call was tense, the message discouraging. Moncef Slaoui, the head of the Trump administration’s effort to quickly produce a vaccine for the coronavirus, was on the phone at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 to tell the upstart biotech firm Moderna that it had to slow the final stage of testing its vaccine in humans. Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, a French biochemical engineer, recognized the implication. In the race to quell the pandemic, he said, “every day mattered.” Now his company, which had yet to bring a single product to market, faced a delay of up to three weeks. Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical giant that was busy testing a similar vaccine candidate and promising initial results by October, would take the obvious lead.
24th Nov 2020 - The New York Times

Plasma from recovered patients shows little benefit in those hospitalized with COVID-19: study

Using blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors to treat patients with severe pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus showed little benefit, according to data released on Tuesday from a clinical trial in Argentina. The therapy know as convalescent plasma, which delivers antibodies from COVID-19 survivors to infected people, did not significantly improve patients’ health status or reduce their risk of dying from the disease any better than a placebo, the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found. Despite limited evidence of its efficacy, convalescent plasma, which U.S. President Donald Trump touted in August as a “historic breakthrough,” has been frequently given to patients in the United States.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

U.S. officials plan to release 6.4 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses in first distribution

U.S. officials said on Tuesday they plan to release 6.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses nationwide in an initial distribution after the first one is cleared by regulators for emergency use. Officials from the government’s Operation Warp Speed program told reporters that states and other jurisdictions had been informed on Friday of their estimated vaccine allocations in the first shipments so they can begin planning for how to best distribute it to their high-risk populations. The officials had previously said they anticipate 40 million doses will be distributed by year end, a number they reiterated on Tuesday.
24th Nov 2020 - Reuters

COVID vaccination is the government’s ‘national commitment’: Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says providing the coronavirus vaccine is his government’s “national commitment”, and that the safety of all citizens will be assured. “Each State and stakeholder has to work as a team to ensure that this mission is systematic, smooth and a sustained effort,” Modi said during a meeting with state chief ministers on the COVID-19 situation in which he told them national efforts would be in coordination with state governments.
24th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

AstraZeneca shares fall after efficacy findings for Covid-19 vaccine

AstraZeneca shares fell after the drugmaker announced efficacy results for its Covid-19 vaccine that were below those reported by rivals Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The shares ended the day 3.8% lower at £80. Results from the phase 3 trial showed the vaccine developed with the University of Oxford can protect 70.4% of people from becoming ill and, in a surprise result, up to 90% if a lower first dose is used. This is lower than the 95% efficacy reported for vaccines developed by the US drugmaker Pfizer and the German biotech BioNTech, and the US biotech Moderna. Analysts said the AstraZeneca/Oxford results left some unanswered questions.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

AstraZeneca COVID vaccine latest to show high efficacy

In interim late-stage study findings, Oxford University today announced that the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with AstraZeneca is highly effective, bringing the world promising news for the third time this month about a pandemic vaccine candidate. The latest vaccine news comes as COVID-19 levels surge in the United States and Europe, with fears that illness levels could jump again after Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday gatherings.
23rd Nov 2020 - CIDRAP

3rd major COVID-19 vaccine shown to be effective and cheaper

Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world. The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.
23rd Nov 2020 - The Associated Press


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 24th Nov 2020

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New Zealand study details COVID-19 spread on long-haul flight despite tests

A recent case study details COVID-19 transmission on a New Zealand long-haul flight, even with negative pre-departure testing results and social distancing requirements. The 12-page report, released by New Zealand health officials last weekFriday, follows a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to one passenger traveling on an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand in September. Though the traveler tested negative with a PCR test before the flight, researchers concluded that "at least four in-flight transmission events of SARS-CoV-2 likely took place" as the pre-symptomatic yet contagious person infected at least four others. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.
23rd Nov 2020 - USA Today

AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine Up to 90% Effective in Late-Stage Trials

AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford added their vaccine candidate to a growing list of shots showing promising effectiveness against Covid-19—setting in motion disparate regulatory and distribution tracks that executives and researchers hope will result in the start of widespread vaccinations by the end of the year. AstraZeneca and Oxford said their vaccine was as much as 90% effective in preventing the infection without serious side effects in large clinical trials, though they said the vaccine’s efficacy is up to 90% in late stage trials
23rd Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

AstraZeneca: COVID-19 vaccine shown to be 'highly effective'

Drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective, buoying the prospects of a relatively cheap, easy-to-store product that may become the vaccine of choice for the developing world. The results are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine. AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world waits for scientific breakthroughs that will end a pandemic that has pummeled the world economy and led to 1.4 million deaths. But unlike the others, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it potentially easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.
23rd Nov 2020 - ABCNews.go

AstraZeneca says COVID-19 'vaccine for the world' can be 90% effective

AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters

Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective

Oxford-AstraZeneca has announced its COVID-19 vaccine is up to 90% effective US already has a deal to purchase 300 million doses for $1.2 billion. The British drugmaker is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. Unlike its rivals, however, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, which makes it easier to distribute
23rd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Bill Gates: 'almost all' Covid-19 vaccines will work by February 2021

Bill Gates has been a polarising figure during the coronavirus pandemic, but now the billionaire philanthropist has reason to be hopeful. Speaking to CNN, Gates explained how he felt ‘almost all’ of the coronavirus vaccines in development will be ready by February next year. The first two vaccines expected to be granted FDA approval in the US are the ones developed by Pfizer and Moderna. But Gates says the others in development – from the likes of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax – will also be successful. ‘Almost all the vaccines will work and with very high efficacy levels,’ Gates told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
23rd Nov 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Covid-19 pandemic: Merkel 'worried' about vaccines for poor countries

Germany's chancellor has raised concerns about the world's poorest securing access to Covid-19 vaccines. Angela Merkel was speaking at a G20 summit which saw leaders promise a fair distribution of jabs. But Mrs Merkel warned progress was slow, saying she would raise the matter with global vaccine alliance GAVI. "We will now speak with GAVI about when these negotiations will begin because I am somewhat worried that nothing has been done on that yet," she said.
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: Daily coronavirus test plan to cut contacts' 14-day self-isolation

Daily coronavirus tests will be offered to close contacts of people who have tested positive in England, as a way to reduce the current 14-day quarantine. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people will be offered tests every day for a week - and they will not need to isolate unless they test positive. He also said rapid tests will allow every care home resident to have up to two visitors tested twice a week. Labour welcomed increased testing but raised concerns over test-and-trace. The chairman of the Independent Care Group which represents independent care homes, Mike Padgham, said the government was being "rather ambitious".
23rd Nov 2020 - BBC

AstraZeneca says COVID-19 'vaccine for the world' can be 90% effective

AstraZeneca said on Monday its COVID-19 vaccine was 70% effective in pivotal trials and could be up to 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a third new weapon that can be cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Decades of work, and half a dose of fortune, drove Oxford vaccine success

It took Oxford University’s brightest minds decades of work to give them the expertise to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. In the end, it was a momentary error - and a dose of good fortune - that carried them over the line. The Oxford vaccinologists were exhilarated on Monday when drugmaker AstraZeneca, with whom they developed the shot, announced that it could be around 90% effective, citing data from late-stage trials. “It can only happen if extraordinary support is provided,” Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute which developed the shot, told Reuters. “We had pretty well the whole institute in Oxford working on this vaccine.” While skill and hard work drove development, AstraZeneca said it was a minor mistake that made the team realise how they could significantly boost the shot’s success rate, to as much as 90% from around 60%: by administering a half dose, followed by a full dose a month later. The Oxford vaccinologists were exhilarated on Monday when drugmaker AstraZeneca, with whom they developed the shot, announced that it could be around 90% effective, citing data from late-stage trials. “It can only happen if extraordinary support is provided,” Adrian Hill, director of Oxford University’s Jenner Institute which developed the shot, told Reuters. “We had pretty well the whole institute in Oxford working on this vaccine.”
23rd Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Health experts in B.C. divided over merits of severe Australian-style lockdown

Former Vancouverite Graham Barron can really appreciate what freedom feels like. Barron lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two young children. For nearly three months beginning in August, they endured one of the world's most severe lockdowns. "It was really hard," Barron said. "It was difficult to be at home all the time." Overnight curfews were put in place. Residents could only leave home for an hour at a time, and only within five kilometres. Masks had to be worn everywhere.
22nd Nov 2020 - CBC.ca

COVID-19 vaccines: How do the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford coronavirus jab candidates compare?

Three trials of vaccines that will be available to the UK have all reported they are around 90% effective in late stage trials. The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine announced its phase three results on 23 November. It was the final of the three, with Pfizer/BioNTech the first to announce its results, followed a week later by Moderna, but that vaccine is still in trials.
20th Nov 2020 - Sky News


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 23rd Nov 2020

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In Dr. Fauci's words: Why Americans shouldn't fear a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by the FDA

Public confidence in the vaccine approval process is key to beating the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci emphasized to the USA TODAY Editorial Board.
22nd Nov 2020 - USA Today

Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody treatment given to Trump is given emergency clearance by the FDA

The experimental drug was given to Trump during his stay in Walter Reed FDA said the cocktail should be given to treat mild to moderate COVID cases Regeneron said the drug has the greatest benefit early on in treatment
22nd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Experimental drug given to Trump to treat covid-19 wins FDA clearance

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday granted emergency authorization to the experimental antibody treatment given to President Trump last month when he developed covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The drug, made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is designed to prevent infected people from developing severe illness. Instead of waiting for the body to develop its own protective immune response, the drug imitates the body’s natural defenses. It is the second drug of this type — called a monoclonal antibody — to be cleared for treating covid-19. The FDA authorized Eli Lilly & Co.’s drug on Nov. 9.
22nd Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

A Look At COVID-19 Vaccine Development Progress

The race to develop COVID-19 vaccines is moving swiftly, both nationally and internationally. But challenges remain when it comes to distributing vaccines around the world. This week, the nation passed the milestone of 250,000 deaths from COVID-19 - a quarter of a million lives lost to a pandemic that continues to rage from coast to coast across the country. But even amid the warnings of a dark winter ahead and the CDC strongly recommending that Americans stay home for Thanksgiving next week, there is hope.
22nd Nov 2020 - NPR

Why the race to find Covid-19 vaccines is far from over

While everyone celebrated this month’s news that not one but two experimental vaccines against Covid-19 have proved at least 90% effective at preventing disease in late-stage clinical trials, research into understanding how the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, interacts with the human immune system never paused. There are plenty of questions still to answer about the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines: how well will they protect the elderly, for example, and how long for? Which aspects of the immune response that they elicit are protective and which aren’t? Can even better results be achieved, with vaccines that target different parts of the immune system?
22nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Remdesivir: don't use drug Trump took for Covid-19, WHO says

Remdesivir, one of the drugs Donald Trump took when he developed Covid-19, should not be used in hospitals because there is no evidence it works, the World Health Organization has advised. The US president was an enthusiastic proponent of the drug, to the point where he boasted in July that he had bought up the world’s entire stock for Americans. The WHO’s guidelines committee, however, has said Covid patients may be better off without it. The WHO issued what it calls a “living guideline”, which can be updated as evidence comes in, largely as a result of a Solidarity trial it led in several countries. Solidarity allocated patients randomly to several drugs including remdesivir and found that those who took it were no more likely to survive severe Covid than those who did not.
21st Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Trials For AstraZeneca's Covid-19 Treatment Set To Begin In UK

The UK will be the first country to begin clinical trials of a new coronavirus antibody treatment developed by drugs giant AstraZeneca aimed at people with a weakened immune system who cannot be vaccinated. A participant in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, will be the first in the world to receive the pharmaceutical company’s new “antibody cocktail” as part of the trial to test whether it will prevent Covid-19 for up to year. The clinical trial programme will recruit 5,000 participants, which includes 1,000 people from nine sites in the UK. The aim of the trial is to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a combination of two long-acting monoclonal antibodies – man-made proteins that act like natural human antibodies in the immune system.
21st Nov 2020 - ITV News

Covid-19 carriers 'most infectious earlier on'

People are most likely to pass on coronavirus within the first five days of having symptoms, an extensive study suggests. The research indicates patients had the highest levels of virus early on in their illness and "live" virus, capable of replicating, was found up to nine days after symptoms began. UK scientists say their study emphasises early isolation is critical to stopping spread. The work appears in the Lancet Microbe.
21st Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: Alternative jab trialled and antibodies 'last at least six months'

1. Jab for people who cannot be vaccinated trialled - For those without functioning immune systems, a possible alternative to a vaccine is entering its final stage of trials. It is hoped the jab could provide at least six months' protection for those unable to receive vaccines.
21st Nov 2020 - BBC

GPs will not deliver bulk of Covid-19 vaccines given this year, says Hancock

GPs will not be required to deliver the majority of Covid-19 vaccinations that are administered this year, the health secretary has confirmed. In today’s Downing Street press briefing Matt Hancock said mass vaccination centres would deliver the bulk of the programme next month – and GPs would take a more prominent role in 2021. The health secretary also confirmed the MHRA has been asked to assess the Pfizer vaccine, representing the final step before the vaccination programme can begin. Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said at the briefing that the speed of rollout depended on manufacturing and regulatory constraints. He said: ‘It’s in the hands of the manufacturers and the regulatory agencies around how quickly batches can be released for use if they are authorised.’
21st Nov 2020 - Pulse

Moderna's Covid vaccine offers vindication of its unconventional approach

When Stéphane Bancel took the top job at Moderna 10 years ago, he warned his wife the business had only a 5 per cent chance of success. The Boston-based biotech was trying to invent a new generation of medicines based on an unproved genetic engineering technique and, instead of investing in drugs one by one, was aiming to raise record amounts of money to build a platform that would work to develop the entire class of new products. Thanks to the biggest public health crisis in a generation, it now looks likely that Moderna will win approval for the first product created by this approach three or four years ahead of schedule, after early data published this week showed its Covid-19 vaccine to be almost 95 per cent effective.
21st Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Pfizer applies for emergency vaccine approval as U.S. cases reach new high

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Friday became the first companies to seek emergency authorization for a coronavirus vaccine in the United States, a landmark moment and a signal that a powerful tool to help control the pandemic could begin to be available by late December. Conditions around the country remain dire: The United States reported a record high of more than 196,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday and is likely to cross 12 million cases nationwide on Saturday, six days after surpassing 11 million.
21st Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

Wealthy nations urged to give portion of Covid vaccine as 'humanitarian buffer'

Public health groups are lobbying countries to commit a portion of their Covid-19 vaccine supplies to a “humanitarian buffer” that would be used to inoculate people living in rebel-held territories, those in asylum-seeker camps and others unlikely to receive vaccinations from their governments. The emergency stockpile is intended to act as a safety net to ensure the global effort to end the Covid-19 pandemic is not sabotaged by governments using vaccines as bargaining chip with restive populations, or simply denying it to some marginalised groups. “In Syria there are a lot of internally displaced people who might end up in areas not controlled by the government, or they might be considered to be anti-government or pro-revolution,” said Alain Alsalhani, a vaccine pharmacist who works with Médecins Sans Frontières.
21st Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Pfizer, BioNTech submit emergency authorization request to FDA Friday for COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer and partner BioNTech announced they have submitted a request on Friday to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate. "It is with great pride and joy, and even a little relief, but I can say that our request for emergency use authorization for our COVID-19 vaccine is now in the FDA's hands," Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, said in a video statement Friday afternoon. "This is a historic day, a historic day for science and for all of us. It took just 248 days to get from the day we announced our plans to collaborate with BioNTech to our FDA submission day."
20th Nov 2020 - ABCNews.go.com

People with coronavirus ‘most likely to be highly infectious in first week after showing symptoms’

People infected with coronavirus are most likely to be highly infectious in the first week after symptoms appear, research has found. Genetic material of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, may still be detected in respiratory or stool samples for several weeks after infection. However, no live virus was found in any type of sample collected beyond nine days of symptoms starting, the study found. Researchers said people with the virus are mostly likely to be highly infectious for five days after symptom onset. The review published in The Lancet Microbe suggested people infected with Sars-CoV-2 are most likely to be highly infectious in the first week after symptom onset.
20th Nov 2020 - Evening Standard

Almost a million people have been given an experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine, pharmaceutical giant claims

Almost a million people have been given an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed by Sinopharm as part of an emergency-use program authorized by Beijing, the Chinese pharmaceutical giant's chairman said. No serious adverse effects have been reported from vaccine recipients so far, Sinopharm said Wednesday in an article on social media platform WeChat, citing Chairman Liu Jingzhen. "In emergency use, we now have used it on nearly a million people. We have not received any reports of serious adverse reaction, and only a few have some mild symptoms," Liu said.
20th Nov 2020 - CNN

COVID-19: Pfizer requests emergency authorisation for coronavirus vaccine in US

Pfizer and BioNTech are submitting an emergency authorisation request in the US which could allow its coronavirus vaccine to be used to treat high-risk populations in the country by mid-December. The UK has already ordered enough of the vaccine to treat 20 million people but it has not yet been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
20th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Covid: Jab for people who cannot be vaccinated trialled

A possible alternative to a vaccine, for people without functioning immune systems, is entering its final stage of trials. The injection was developed using antibodies - made by the immune system to fight infection - produced by a single Covid patient in the US. It is hoped it could provide at least six months' protection for patients who cannot receive vaccines. Trials involving 1,000 UK participants begin in Manchester on Saturday. A further 4,000 people are involved in the trial globally, which is being organised by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Participants will be given either an injection containing two different Covid-19 antibodies, which have been specially engineered to last longer in the body - or a placebo.
20th Nov 2020 - BBC

Scientists race to find 'warm' Covid vaccine to solve issue of cold storage

News that one of the potential coronavirus vaccines had at least a 90% efficacy rate was a “victory for science”, said K Srinath Reddy, a cardiologist and president of the Public Health Foundation of India. But it meant little to his country’s 1.3 billion citizens. “For us, the Pfizer vaccine is more of a scientific curiosity than a practical possibility,” Reddy said. The need to store the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at at least -70C(-94F), with its required cold-chain infrastructure, puts it out of the reach of up to two-thirds of the world’s population, including swathes of south Asia, Africa and even rural parts of the US and South America, according to German logistics company DHL.
20th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

EU regulator ‘hopeful’ about coronavirus vaccine approval by year-end

Amid rising cases and second-wave lockdowns, Europe might have a coronavirus vaccine authorized to use before the end of 2020. Speaking during POLITICO’s Health Care Summit Wednesday, the head of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), Emer Cooke, said she’s “hopeful” that the agency will have an opinion about whether to authorize a coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech by the end of the year. Cooke’s comments followed breaking news that the companies found their vaccine to be 95 percent effective after completing a full review of their ongoing large-scale Phase 3 clinical trial.
20th Nov 2020 - POLITICO.eu

Covid-19: A 'step forward' in vaccine roll-out plans and infections levelling off

The UK government has formally asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to assess the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of the frontrunners in the race for a coronavirus cure. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was "another important step forward" and that, if approved, it would be available across the NHS for free across all of the UK. He said the UK has contributed more than any other country towards researching a vaccine, something he said the country should be proud of. It follows Pfizer and BioNTech seeking emergency authorisation for the vaccine in the US.
20th Nov 2020 - BBC

Health staff, care homes and over 80s to get Covid vaccine first

Frontline health workers, care home residents and staff and over 80s will be first to get a coronavirus vaccine in Scotland. Next in line will be over 65s and younger people with underlying health conditions likely to badly affected by the virus. More than one million people in Scotland could be vaccinated by the end of January, the health secretary Jeane Freeman told parliament on Thursday. Everyone aged over 18 – around 4.4m people – will eventually be offered the protection from Covid-19, with rollout possibly starting from the first week of December if a vaccine is approved by then.
20th Nov 2020 - STV News

NHS worker first volunteer in stage-three coronavirus vaccine trial

An NHS worker has become the very first person to be recruited for the final stage of a coronavirus vaccine trial. Claire Cole is the first person in the world to give consent to participate in phase-three of a trial to test the safety and efficacy of a coronavirus vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Cole, head of research delivery at Manchester University, is one of 6,000 volunteers in the UK and 30,000 worldwide who are being recruited for the study, which will take place at 17 National Institute for Health Research sites in the UK, including one in Manchester.
20th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Covid-19 news: NHS drafts plan to vaccinate adults in England by April

A draft of NHS England’s plan for the roll-out of a coronavirus vaccine aims for widespread vaccination of all willing adults in England by early April, if sufficient doses and other crucial supplies are available. Under NHS England’s draft covid-19 vaccine deployment programme, which was outlined in a leaked document dated 13 November seen by HSJ, most doses of the potential vaccine would be administered between early January and mid-March, at a rate of between 4 and 5 million each week.
20th Nov 2020 - New Scientist

Is Inovio Back in the Coronavirus Vaccine Race?

Inovio Pharmaceuticals investors can breathe a little easier this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lifted a partial clinical hold on the planned phase 2 study of the company's investigational coronavirus vaccine. The biotech can now move forward with that part of the trial. Adding to the good news, Inovio said the U.S. Department of Defense will fund the phase 2 and phase 3 trials. Inovio shares, down 34% since the announcement of the partial hold in late September, jumped nearly 15% in one trading session. So does this mean Inovio is back as one of the main players in the coronavirus race? Well, it's clear the hold set the company behind from a timeline perspective. But rapidity isn't everything in this race. Let's take a closer look at where Inovio stands right now.
20th Nov 2020 - Motley Fool

A Global Covid Vaccine Heist

Breakthroughs on vaccines and new treatments are finally offering the world a path to end the Covid-19 pandemic. They’re a tribute to private U.S. corporate innovation, but now developing countries led by India and South Africa are making a damaging bid to waive patent protections for these life-saving advances. The attempt will surface Friday when these countries offer a resolution at the World Trade Organization meeting to waive patent protections for Covid vaccines, therapies and other technologies. They say this is needed to ensure poor countries have equal access, but their effort would harm everyone, including the poor.
20th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

First batch of coronavirus vaccine ready in Australia by New Year's Day

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being produced by biotechnology giant CSL, is on track to be ready by December 28 but will need to be tested in various clinical trials.
20th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

MMR jab could help protect people from coronavirus until a vaccine is ready, study finds

The MMR jab could be used to slow the spread of Covid-19 while Britons are gradually inoculated with vaccines being developed for the virus, a study suggests. Researchers have found that people who had had the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine as a child suffered far less severe symptoms of Covid – in many cases having mild symptoms or not symptoms at all. “The study found a statistically significant inverse relationship between the level of mumps antibodies and Covid-19. This indicates that there is a relationship that warrants further investigation,” said Professor David Hurley, of the University of Georgia. “If it has the ultimate benefit of preventing infection from Covid-19, preventing the spread of Covid-19, reducing the severity of it, or a combination of any or all of those, it is a very high reward low risk ratio intervention. It would be prudent to vaccinate [people of all ages],” he said.
20th Nov 2020 - iNews

Lockdowns could be avoided if 95% of people wore masks, says WHO

Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks, the World Health Organization's top Europe official said at a Thursday news briefing. WHO Europe's Regional Director Hans Kluge stressed that lockdowns should be a "last resort," and urged the public to follow guidance to help to prevent deaths. He said that if 95% of people wore masks, instead of the current 60%, "lockdowns would not be needed" -- although he added that mask use was not a "panacea" and needed to be combined with other measures. "If we all do our share, lockdowns are avoidable," Kluge said.
19th Nov 2020 - CNN

A nasal spray that can protect against Covid-19 is now ‘ready for use in humans

A nasal spray that can provide effective protection against Covid-19 is now ready for use in humans, according to researchers. The spray has been developed by scientists at the University of Birmingham and is formulated using compounds already widely approved by regulatory bodies in the UK, Europe and the US.
19th Nov 2020 - The Scotsman

Oxford vaccine produces strong response in older adults, early data reveals

Hopes have been raised that the UK could produce a successful coronavirus vaccine after data from the University of Oxford showed its jab provokes a strong immune response in older people. The ChAdOx1 nCov-2019 vaccine, developed with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, has been shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and people over 70. Phase two data, published in The Lancet, suggests one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid-19 could build immunity, researchers say.
19th Nov 2020 - The National

Childhood vaccine linked to less severe COVID-19, cigarette smoke raises risk

The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters

One in three elderly Covid-19 patients are delirious, study finds

817 Covid-19 patients over the age of 65 in hospital were in the study Had an average age of 78 and 226 (28 per cent) were diagnosed as delirius 84 (37 per cent) did not have any typical Covid-19 symptoms
19th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 20th Nov 2020

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Oxford COVID-19 trial will look at interim Phase III data after 53 infections: investigator

Oxford University will start an initial analysis of data from its late-stage trial of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with AstraZeneca after 53 infections among its volunteers, the study’s chief investigator said on Thursday. The Oxford Vaccine Group’s director, Andrew Pollard, said in a media briefing there were “lots of cases” of infections in its Phase III trial in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. The first two sets of interim data from vaccine trials from Pfizer and BioNTech last week and Moderna on Monday were released after more than 90 infections among volunteers. Pfizer had planned to publish initial data after about 60 infections, but it exceeded its target after the big jump in infections recently in the United States.
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters

A gym trainer exposed 50 athletes to Covid-19, but no one else got sick because of a ventilation redesign

A Virginia gym owner thought she had a nightmare scenario on her hands when she learned that 50 athletes were potentially exposed to Covid-19 particles by one of the gym's coaches. But not a single member ended up contracting the virus, thanks to the extra safety precautions and ventilation measures she put in place. Velvet Minnick, 44, is the owner and head coach at 460 Fitness in Blacksburg, Virginia. Like many gym owners across the nation, she was forced to shut down the facility in March due to coronavirus. They rented out equipment and held Zoom classes, but it wasn't long before members were burned out. As the state entered Phase 2 of reopening in June, Minnick was allowed to have athletes back inside her facility. She knew one member, however, who could help her get people back while keeping them safe.
19th Nov 2020 - CNN

The known unknowns of T cell immunity to COVID-19

The broad clinical spectrum of COVID-19 indicates widespread intraindividual differences in the host immune defense against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The underlying cause of disease heterogeneity is probably multifactorial. However, a rapid early host response is likely critical to generate control of SARS-CoV-2 viremia before spread to the lower respiratory tract and onset of damaging hyperinflammation. In this regard, the literature is full of examples where functional T cell responses can provide early control of acute viral infections, including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV (1, 2). Although multiple studies have indicated that T cells play a role in the early immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and can generate a functional memory pool, there are still multiple unanswered questions in the field (Box 1). Here, we summarize and speculate on a specific set of questions related to T cell immunity against respiratory viral infections, with a focus on COVID-19 severity, immunity, long-term consequences, and vaccination
19th Nov 2020 - Science

Covid-19 mink variants discovered in humans in seven countries

Seven countries are now reporting mink-related Sars-CoV-2 mutations in humans, according to new scientific analysis. The mutations are identified as Covid-19 mink variants as they have repeatedly been found in mink and now in humans as well. Uncertainty around the implications of the discovery of a Covid-19 mink variant in humans led Denmark, the world’s largest mink fur producer, to launch a nationwide cull earlier this month. The cull was sparked by research from Denmark’s public health body, the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), which showed that a mink variant called C5 was harder for antibodies to neutralise and posed a potential threat to vaccine efficacy.
19th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid: Oxford vaccine shows 'encouraging' immune response in older adults

The Oxford coronavirus vaccine shows a strong immune response in adults in their 60s and 70s, raising hopes that it can protect age groups most at risk from the virus. Researchers say the Lancet phase two findings, based on 560 healthy adult volunteers, are "encouraging". They are also testing whether the vaccine stops people developing Covid-19 in larger, phase three trials. Early results from this crucial stage are expected in the coming weeks. Three vaccines - Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik and Moderna - have already reported good preliminary data from phase three trials, with one suggesting 94% of over-65s could be protected from Covid-19.
19th Nov 2020 - BBC

Anti-COVID-19 nasal spray 'ready for use in humans'

A nasal spray that can provide effective protection against the COVID-19 virus has been developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham, using materials already cleared for use in humans. A team in the University’s Healthcare Technologies Institute formulated the spray using compounds already widely approved by regulatory bodies in the UK, Europe and the US. The materials are already widely used in medical devices, medicines and even food products.
19th Nov 2020 - University of Birmingham

Arthritis drug effective in treating sickest COVID-19 patients | Imperial News

Critically ill COVID-19 patients treated with an arthritis drug are significantly more likely to have improved outcomes, a study has found. The early findings, which are yet to be published, come from the REMAP-CAP trial, led by Imperial College London and the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC) in the UK and Utrecht University in Europe. The trial evaluates the effect of treatments on a combination of survival and length of time patients need support in an intensive care unit (ICU).
19th Nov 2020 - Imperial College London

Lockdowns could be avoided if 95% of people wore masks, says WHO

Lockdowns could be avoided if everyone followed health measures such as wearing masks, the World Health Organization's top Europe official said at a Thursday news briefing. WHO Europe's Regional Director Hans Kluge stressed that lockdowns should be a "last resort," and urged the public to follow guidance to help to prevent deaths. He said that if 95% of people wore masks, instead of the current 60%, "lockdowns would not be needed" -- although he added that mask use was not a "panacea" and needed to be combined with other measures. "If we all do our share, lockdowns are avoidable," Kluge said.
19th Nov 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus vaccines: China's Sinopharm claims it has given vaccine to nearly one million people

Sinopharm's chairman said there were no reports of 'serious adverse reactions' He said doses had been given out through China's emergency-use programme He boasted his firm 'is leading the world in all aspects' of coronavirus vaccines Comes after jabs from Pfizer and Moderna were revealed to be 95% effective Oxford University's jab is also found to be 'safe' in people of all ages by a study
19th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Social connections with COVID-19–affected areas increase compliance with mobility restrictions

We study the role of social connections in compliance of U.S. households with mobility restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data on social connections and mobile phone data for measuring social distancing at the county level. Relative to the average restriction efficacy, a county with one-SD more social connections with China and Italy—the first countries with major COVID-19 outbreaks—has a nearly 50% higher compliance with mobility restrictions. By contrast, social connections of counties with less-educated populations, a higher Trump vote share, and a higher fraction of climate change deniers show decreased compliance with mobility restrictions. Our analysis suggests that social connections are conduits of information about the pandemic and an economically important factor affecting compliance with, and impact of, mobility restrictions.
19th Nov 2020 - Science Advances

SA Covid lockdown: experts doubt state suffering 'particularly sneaky strain'

South Australian premier Steven Marshall has said part of the reason for the state’s sudden and strict six-day lockdown is that the state is facing “particularly sneaky strain” of Covid-19 [SARS-CoV-2]. “[It’s a] highly contagious strain … and if we don’t get on top of that very, very quickly it will get away from us and that will be disastrous for us in South Australia,” he said on Thursday. “We have a particularly difficult strain of the disease, which is showing no symptoms for people who become infected. The other thing that we know is that the incubation period for this particular strain is very short, and it can be down to 24 hours.”
19th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Larry Brilliant Says We’ll Beat Covid—After We Go Through Hell

DICKENSIAN. That’s a term that rolled off epidemiologist Larry Brilliant’s tongue when I spoke to him in one more marathon interview this past weekend. He was not referring to the horrific descriptions of human suffering in the celebrated 19th century novelist’s works—though as we speak, the near-term picture he paints of our pandemic crisis does have images, of bodies stacked in refrigeration vans, that are, well, Dickensian. Instead, he is referencing the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”
19th Nov 2020 - Wired UK

Arthritis drug offers hope for severely ill Covid patients

Scientists have found that a drug used to fight rheumatoid arthritis leads to significantly improved outcomes for severely ill Covid-19 patients, the latest breakthrough in the search for a potential treatment. Tocilizumab, an immunosuppressant drug, was found to be so effective in randomised controlled clinical trials involving 303 patients, that the researchers have been told to stop recruiting people to the “no treatment group”. It is the first immune-modulating drug found to have an effect on outcomes of hospitalised Covid-19 patients, adding to positive results from the cheap and plentiful steroid dexamethasone, and the antiviral drug remdesivir.
19th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Oxford Covid vaccine trial confirms encouraging results for the elderly

The coronavirus vaccine under development by Oxford university and AstraZeneca has elicited a strong immune response and been shown to be safe in older adults, a group at disproportionate risk of developing severe Covid-19. In phase 2 trial results published in The Lancet, researchers said the vaccine had fewer adverse effects in older people than in younger adults, and that it produced a similar immune response in both groups. The Financial Times first reported on the promising data last month. Testing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is at an earlier stage than work on vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, which trials suggest could protect about 95 per cent of people from infection.
19th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

WHO advises against Gilead's remdesivir for all hospitalised COVID-19 patients

Gilead’s drug remdesivir is not recommended for patients hospitalised with COVID-19, regardless of how ill they are, as there is no evidence it improves survival or reduces the need for ventilation, a World Health Organization panel said on Friday.
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Eli Lilly drug gets FDA nod for emergency use with remdesivir to treat COVID-19

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the emergency use of Eli Lilly and Co’s arthritis drug, baricitinib, in combination with Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir, to treat COVID-19 patients. Baricitinib, sold under the brand name of Olumiant, is an FDA-approved oral medication to treat moderately-to-severely active rheumatoid arthritis. The approval was based on a review of the data from a clinical trial of hospitalized COVID-19 patients sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
19th Nov 2020 - Reuters

More people are getting COVID-19 twice, suggesting immunity wanes quickly in some

In late June, Sanne de Jong developed nausea, shortness of breath, sore muscles, and a runny nose. At first, she thought it might be lingering effects from her COVID-19 infection in the spring. De Jong, 22, had tested positive on 17 April and suffered mild symptoms for about 2 weeks. She tested negative on 2 May—just in time to say farewell to her dying grandmother—and returned to work as a nursing intern in a hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. But when her symptoms re-emerged, her doctor suggested she get tested again. “A reinfection this soon would be peculiar, but not impossible,” she told De Jong, who by then had again lost her sense of smell and had abdominal pains and diarrhea.
18th Nov 2020 - Science Magazine


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th Nov 2020

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Cipla launches 'Covi-G' for COVID-19 rapid antibody detection

Cipla Limited today announced that it signed a licensing agreement with a Belgium-based firm, Multi G for the distribution of their COVID-19 Rapid Antibody test kit, across most Emerging markets and Europe. This licencing agreement is part of Cipla's efforts to enhance global access to life- saving treatments and diagnostic infrastructure for patients in need. As part of this agreement, Cipla will be responsible for distribution of the COVID-19 rapid antibody kit that will be manufactured by MultiG. It is marketed under the brand name 'Covi-G',this was among the earliest Antibody kits to declare CE-compliance and is awaiting approval by ICH country regulators. It has been commercialised in 20+ countries already, with sensitivity and specificity exceeding 92%. It tests for both IgM and IgG antibodies, using a single-prick blood test using of the test result indicator visual interpretation. The kit gives results within 10 minutes.
18th Nov 2020 - PR Newswire.com

Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine 95% Effective in Final Results, Company to Seek Approval Within Days

Pfizer Inc. said it will ask health regulators to authorize its experimental Covid-19 vaccine within days, after reporting the shot was 95% effective in its pivotal study and showed signs of being safe. The company’s plans, announced Wednesday, mean the shot is on track to go into distribution by the end of the year, if the regulators permit.
18th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Pfizer ends its COVID-19 vaccine trial with a 95% success rate

Pfizer Inc PFE.N and BioNTech 22UAy.DE could secure emergency U.S. and European authorization for their COVID-19 vaccine next month after final trial results showed it had a 95% success rate and no serious side effects, the drugmakers said on Wednesday. The vaccine’s efficacy was found to be consistent across different ages and ethnicities - a promising sign given the disease has disproportionately hurt the elderly and certain groups including Black people. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could grant emergency-use by the middle of December, BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin told Reuters TV. Conditional approval in the European Union could be secured in the second half of December, he added.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has 95% efficacy and is safe, further analysis shows

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 performs even better than previously thought, with 95% efficacy, equalling the early results from Moderna on Monday, according to an analysis of the final data from their trials, which paves the way for regulators to grant an emergency licence and vaccination campaigns to begin. The news will excite scientists, public health experts and politicians. Pfizer/BioNTech say they also have the necessary safety data that regulatory bodies require, and will submit the vaccine for emergency approval within days to the US Food and Drug Administration and other regulators around the world.
18th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 vaccine: who are countries prioritising for first doses?

Hope that the first effective vaccines against Covid-19 could begin being distributed late this year or early in 2021 has led countries, including the UK, to announce who will be vaccinated first. While the World Health Organization has set out general guidelines for vaccination priority, different countries have set their own criteria. That includes the United States, where the Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccination Program interim playbook, issued at the end of last month, identified minority ethnic groups – who have been shown to be more susceptible as a potential “critical population” – for priority consideration along with care homes, prisons and psychiatric facilities residents and workers, health workers and the over-65s and those with pre-existing conditions.
18th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Chinese vaccine 'successful in mid-stage trials'

A Covid-19 vaccine developed in China has shown success in mid-stage trials, researchers say. There are several vaccines being developed in China, some of which are already being administered. According to the researchers, the Sinovac Biotech vaccine led to a quick immune response during trials with around 700 people. The announcement comes after European and US vaccines reported successful data from large late-stage trials. Three vaccines, developed in the US, Germany and Russia, have all released data suggesting efficiency of more than 90%, after trials with tens of thousands of people.
18th Nov 2020 - BBC

Dolly Parton 'honoured and proud' to help Covid-19 battle

Country star Dolly Parton has said she feels "very honoured and proud" to have given money to research into one of the most promising Covid-19 vaccines. In April she announced she was giving $1m (£750,000) to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. That was one of the trial sites for the Moderna vaccine, which is nearly 95% effective according to early data. Speaking on BBC One's The One Show on Tuesday, Parton said she was "so excited" to hear the news.
18th Nov 2020 - BBC

'Incredible milestone for science.' Pfizer and BioNTech update their promising COVID-19 vaccine result

As opposed to the vague initial report last week that their vaccine had greater than 90% efficacy, Pfizer and BioNTech are providing more specific data now that the study has reached enough COVID-19 cases to end. In all, the trial had 162 confirmed cases of symptomatic COVID-19 in the placebo group versus eight among those who received the two scheduled doses of the vaccine. The efficacy, which was measured 7 days after the second dose of the vaccine, was the same in different races and ethnicities, the companies say—although subgroup analyses always have more uncertainty. Nine of the 10 people who had severe cases of COVID-19 during the trial received the placebo, which indicates that even if the vaccine fails to prevent symptomatic disease, it still offers powerful protection from serious harm. No serious side effects surfaced, the companies report, although 3.7% of the vaccinated reported fatigue after the injections.
18th Nov 2020 - Science Magazine

Chinese COVID-19 vaccine candidate appears safe, induces immune response, preliminary study finds

Results from an early-phase clinical trial of a Chinese vaccine candidate, CoronaVac, revealed that the formulation appears safe and induces an antibody response in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 59 years. According to the findings of the phase 1/2 randomised clinical trial, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, the vaccine candidate could induce an antibody response in participants within 28 days of the first immunisation, by giving two doses 14 days apart. The researchers, including those from the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China, also found the optimum dose to generate the highest antibody responses, while taking account of side effects and production capacity.
18th Nov 2020 - National Herald

One in 10 parents experienced severe burnout in lockdown - Canterbury University study

Parenting can be a demanding and stressful job at any time, but a pandemic can pile additional pressure on parents, new Canterbury University research shows. UC's Dr Cara Swit surveyed parents in New Zealand as part of a global study conducted in 15 countries to assess levels of parental burnout during Covid-19 lockdowns. She found that 10.5 per cent of parents in this country experienced high levels of parental burnout, which is defined as a combination of chronic stress, exhaustion, feeling like their parenting is not as good as it was, loss of pleasure or fulfilment in parenting, and emotional distancing from their children. “Any levels of parental burnout are concerning, so we need to understand the influences behind these figures and what can be done to support parents who are struggling,” Swit said.
18th Nov 2020 - Otago Daily Times

New Zealand had great success in containing Covid-19, but public wellbeing paid a price

People worldwide have been experiencing high levels of distress during the Covid-19 pandemic. A New Zealand survey shows that, despite eliminating the virus, people's mental health took a knock. Researchers are encouraging governments to prioritise mental wellbeing during this time
18th Nov 2020 - Health24

Early trial results show Sinovac vaccine triggers immune response

Sinovac Biotech’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac triggered a quick immune response but the level of antibodies produced was lower than in people who had recovered from the disease, early trial results showed on Wednesday. While the early to mid-stage trials were not designed to assess the efficacy of CoronaVac, researchers said it could provide sufficient protection, based on their experience with other vaccines and data from preclinical studies with macaques.
18th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Smoking causes three times as many cells to be infected with coronavirus, lab study suggests – despite array of research showing that it may cut the risk of getting COVID-19

UCLA researchers created models of human airways from donor stem cells Exposed some to smoke and compared impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection Found those exposed to cigarettes had three times as many cells infected Also discovered the smoke inhibits function of interferons which help the body fight the virus
18th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Danish study finds face masks provide limited protection to wearer

A Danish study released on Wednesday found face masks provide the wearer with only limited protection against COVID-19 infection, but said this should not be used to argue against their widespread use to prevent people infecting others. In the study, which was carried out in April and May when Danish authorities did not recommend wearing face masks, 6,024 adults were divided into two groups, one wearing face masks and one control group.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19: People told to open windows this winter to decrease coronavirus risk

People are being encouraged to open their windows this winter to decrease the risk of catching coronavirus. The Department for Health has released a video showing how virus particles linger in enclosed spaces. It also shows how letting fresh air in can reduce the risk of infection by more than 70%. Coronavirus is spread through the air by droplets and smaller particles known as aerosols when they are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they breathe, speak or cough.
18th Nov 2020 - Sky News

A rapid at-home covid-19 test — for under $50 — just got FDA approval

People who think they were exposed to the coronavirus face a number of logistical obstacles in the United States to get tested: Many tests take days to produce results, require leaving quarantine to visit a medical professional, or — most likely — both. That could change with Lucira Health’s “All-In-One” test kit, which on Tuesday became the first rapid, at-home test authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.
18th Nov 2020 - The Washington Post

Hope for elderly as vaccine shows 94% protection

Experts have welcomed the news that the promising Covid vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer is effective among the elderly. Data from Pfizer and BioNTech’s phase 3 trial show their vaccine is 94% effective in those aged 65 and older. Scientists have welcomed the news that older people will achieve a good level of protection, with those over 65 years deemed to be at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 or death. One expert said that the findings among the elderly “surpass expectations”.
18th Nov 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Pfizer ends COVID-19 vaccine trial with 95% success rate

The results are in for a frontrunner in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. United States pharma giant Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech said on Wednesday that final results from the Phase 3 trial of their COVID-19 vaccine showed it to be 95 percent effective – the highest success rate for any pandemic candidate in late-stage trials so far.
18th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Moderna vaccine results ‘stunningly impressive’: Fauci

The United States’s top infectious disease scientist has hailed early trial results from Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine as “stunningly impressive” and says the findings are an emphatic validation of experimental mRNA technology that some had doubted. In an interview with AFP news agency on Monday, Anthony Fauci said he would have settled for injections that protected 70-75 percent of people from falling sick.
17th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 18th Nov 2020

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Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine induces quick immune response - study

Sinovac Biotech’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac triggered a quick immune response but the level of antibodies produced was lower than in people who had recovered from the disease, preliminary trial results showed on Wednesday.
18th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Over 1 million children have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, report says

A new report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association found that the coronavirus is infecting children now more than at any time during the pandemic. The number of U.S. infants, children and teens diagnosed with COVID-19 has surpassed 1 million, accounting for 11.5% of all cases in states reporting cases by age, according to the data. The total hit nearly 1.04 million kids on Nov. 12, including nearly 112,000 new cases last week. That was the highest weekly total of any previous week in the pandemic, the academy said.
17th Nov 2020 - USA Today

Pfizer launches Covid-19 vaccine delivery trial in four US states

Pfizer has launched a pilot delivery program for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in four US states, as the drugmaker seeks to address distribution challenges posed by its ultra-cold storage requirements. The US drugmaker said it had selected Rhode Island, Texas, New Mexico, and Tennessee for the program because of their differences in overall size, diversity of populations and immunisation infrastructure, as well as the states’ need to reach individuals in varied urban and rural settings.
17th Nov 2020 - The Guardian on MSN.com

Covid: chemicals found in everyday products could hinder vaccine

The successful uptake of any vaccine for Covid-19, a crucial step in returning a sense of normalcy after a year ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, could be hindered by widespread contamination from a range of chemicals used in everyday products. Small amounts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (or PFAS) chemicals are commonly found in the bodies of people in the US, as well as several other countries. These man-made chemicals, used in everything from non-stick pans to waterproof clothes to pizza boxes, have been linked to an elevated risk of liver damage, decreased fertility and even cancer.
17th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

The Infection Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Healthcare Workers Worldwide Poses A Threat To National Health Systems

A study recently published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases from thirty-seven countries found that nearly 300,000 healthcare workers had been infected with Covid-19. In addition to the high number of infections, over 2,500 healthcare workers died from the virus as of August 15th.
17th Nov 2020 - Forbes

California scientists launch study to test whether lockdowns have impacted memory

The University of California Irvine is launching a study to examine if lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have impacted memory. Researchers say the monotony of working from home makes it difficult to distinguish events that occur day-by-day Lockdowns have also increased isolation, which does not allow us to stimulate the brain through social interaction. Not going outside and trying to find our way home or elsewhere prevents the ability to exercise the part of the brain associated with memory and learning
17th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus-related mental illness won't peak until mid next year, mental health expert warns

Without urgent interventions, more young people will die from pandemic-related mental ill health than coronavirus, one of the country's top mental health experts Professor Ian Hickie has warned. Around the country, all the markers of our mental health are worsening. Emergency presentations are up, helplines are running hot and incidents of self harm are increasing, but Professor Hickie, a former Mental Health Commissioner, says it's worse in Victoria. The "shadow pandemic," as he's termed it, won't peak until the second half of next year.
17th Nov 2020 - ABC News

Lockdown has not led to more Queensland suicides, research finds

Queensland’s suicide rate did not change during lockdowns, however the pandemic contributed to a handful of people taking their own lives, research has found. The stress of pandemic lockdowns forced many people to face mental health issues for the first time, or exacerbated existing conditions.
17th Nov 2020 - Brisbane Times

Covid Shots Barrel Toward Finish Line in 300-Day Science Feat

In early January, about the only thing the world’s scientists knew for sure about the novel coronavirus was its genetic profile. Now, some 300 days later, vaccine developers are on the brink of a major victory against a pathogen that’s inflicted untold personal and economic damage. Virus specialists including Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease doctor, predicted in early 2020 that it would take a year to 18 months to develop a vaccine to confront the contagion. Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc.’s collaboration with BioNTech SE are poised to beat that forecast if preliminary positive results from their vaccine trials hold up.
17th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

J&J expects data for U.S. authorization of COVID-19 vaccine by February, says head scientist

Johnson & Johnson's chief scientist said the drugmaker is recruiting over 1,000 people per day for the late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine and expects to have all the data needed to seek U.S. authorization by February or earlier. “By the end of the year or around the end of the year, we should have 60,000 people in the study,” Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said in an interview ahead of this week’s Reuters Total Health conference. “And efficacy endpoint should be there in the first few weeks or months, January or February, of the new year,” he added.
17th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Roche on track to produce Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody cocktail

Roche Holding AG has completed early tests of its ability to produce large quantities of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s COVID-19 antibody treatment, putting it on track to begin manufacturing the drug once it is authorised by regulators, Regeneron’s president said on Tuesday. The experimental therapy was used to treat United States President Donald Trump in October. The companies aim to be able to make two million doses of the antibody cocktail next year, but are awaiting clearance from regulators.
17th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Mouthwash can kill COVID-19 in 30 seconds: Study

Over-the-counter mouthwash can kill coronavirus within 30 seconds of exposure, a study has found. Scientists at Cardiff University discovered mouthwash containing at least 0.07 percent cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) showed “promising signs” of reducing transmission of the virus. Their preliminary report, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, supports a study published last week that found mouthwash containing CPC helps in reducing the viral load of people infected with the coronavirus. It comes ahead of a clinical trial on patients at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff to find out whether mouthwash can reduce coronavirus in a patient’s saliva. The findings are expected to be published in early 2021. Dentyl is the only UK mouthwash brand that is part of the clinical trial led by Professor David Thomas from Cardiff University.
17th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Coronavirus: Phase three trials of India-made vaccine begin

Phase three trials of India’s first vaccine against COVID-19 has started in what is the largest human trials to be conducted with about 26,000 participants, Bharat Biotech announced on Monday. The Hyderabad-based company has been developing the vaccine, Covaxin, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – India’s premier medical research body. The first doses of the vaccine were administered to volunteers at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad on Monday as part of the trial which will be monitored over the next year. Covaxin has shown promising safety and immunogenicity data in trials done during phase one and phase two, the company said. The India trial comes a day after the US biotech firm Moderna Inc said preliminary data from a continuing phase three study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine showed it to be 94.5 percent effective.
17th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 17th Nov 2020

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We can stop COVID-19: Moderna vaccine success gives world more hope

Moderna Inc's experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on interim data from a late-stage trial, the company said on Monday, becoming the second U.S. drugmaker to report results that far exceed expectations.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine boasts a nearly 95% effective rate

Moderna said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine was proving to be highly effective in a major trial, a second dash of hope in the global race for a shot to tame a resurgent coronavirus that is now killing more than 8,000 people a day worldwide. Moderna said its vaccine appeared to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S. Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” and said that having similar results from two different companies was what was most reassuring.
16th Nov 2020 - Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 forced at least 11 US patients to undergo DOUBLE lung transplants with 7 at one hospital

At least 11 double lung transplants have been performed across the country including in Florida, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin. Seven of those 11 operations have been done at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois between June and October. The first-ever patient was Mayra Ramirez, a 28-year-old Chicago native who spent six weeks on a ventilator before receiving a new set of lungs. Other patients have included healthcare professionals such as Kari Wegg, a 48-year-old NICU nurse, from Indiana. Andrew Lawrence, 54, from Texas, contracted the virus in July while treating patients and was the fifth patient to undergo a transplant at Northwestern
16th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

'Truly striking': Covid-19 vaccine candidate 94.5 percent effective, Moderna says

Moderna said Monday that early analysis from its Phase 3 trial shows its Covid-19 vaccine is 94.5 percent effective at preventing the illness, offering hope of a second breakthrough in as many weeks. The news comes a week after pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said early analysis showed its vaccine candidate was more than 90 percent effective.
16th Nov 2020 - NBC News

Moderna's Coronavirus Vaccine Nearly 95% Effective, Analysis Finds : Shots - Health News

A second COVID-19 vaccine now also appears highly effective in preventing illness following exposure to the virus that causes the disease. The biotech company Moderna Inc. said Monday that its experimental vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing disease, according to an analysis of its clinical trial. The news comes a week after Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective. The results for both vaccines come from interim analyses of large clinical studies. In the Moderna study there were 30,000 volunteers. Half got two doses of the vaccine 28 days apart; half got two shots of a placebo on the same schedule.
16th Nov 2020 - NPR

UK plans temporary aid cut to pay for coronavirus crisis - The Times

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering a temporary cut to the aid spending to help the country's Covid-ravaged public finances, The Times reported. Ministers have drawn up plans to reduce the proportion of Britain's gross national income spent on aid from 0.7% to 0.5%, saving billions, the report published in the newspaper said. Finance Minister Rishi Sunak is pushing for the cut to be announced in next week's comprehensive spending review, the report said, adding Johnson insisted that the spending should return to the 0.7% total as soon as 2022. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab opposed the move amid concerns about the impact on Britain's global standing, according to the report.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Coronavirus: New UK vaccine trial starts crucial next stage

A global pharmaceutical company is set to begin clinical trials of its potential vaccine in the UK. Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, part of Johnson & Johnson, will start the next stage of its vaccine testing on Monday with 6,000 volunteers from across the country. Theirs is the third potential jab about to enter clinical trials in the UK, alongside US biotech company Novavax and the University of Oxford’s vaccine with AstraZeneca, whose trials are ongoing. The Janssen vaccine is jointly funded by the government’s vaccine taskforce. The latest trial is designed to test its safety and efficacy.
16th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Covid vaccine: Major new trial starts in UK

A major trial of a vaccine to protect against Covid-19 has launched in the UK - the third such trial in the country. The jab - designed by the Belgian company Janssen - uses a genetically modified common cold virus to train the immune system. It comes a week after preliminary results showed another vaccine offered 90% protection. However, many types of vaccine are likely to be needed to end the pandemic. The success of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has caused global excitement. However, it has not yet been approved for use and we still do not know how well it works in the elderly or how long immunity lasts. The hunt for Covid vaccines continues as a different approach may yet be better, or better in some age groups, and one company will struggle to immunise the planet.
16th Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid: Final-stage vaccine trial begins in the UK

The UK will be the first country to run final-stage trials of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by a company owned by Johnson and Johnson. The phase-three trial of the vaccine from pharmaceutical company Janssen starts on Monday and will be the first of its two-dose study. The jab has already undergone phase one and two trials, and interim analysis of the single-dose study suggests the Covid-19 vaccine candidate induces a robust immune response and is generally well-tolerated. For the two-dose study, researchers are aiming to recruit around 6,000 UK participants – from a total of 30,000 people globally – at 17 sites across the country.
16th Nov 2020 - ITV News

Tempus and Yale Announce Research Collaboration to Accelerate COVID-19 Test Development

Tempus, a leader in artificial intelligence and precision medicine, and the Yale School of Public Health announced a research collaboration to accelerate the development of COVID-19 diagnostic tests in the U.S. This partnership will leverage SalivaDirectTM, a saliva-based laboratory diagnostic test that has been developed by researchers at Yale. Tempus and Yale will further develop SalivaDirectTM to enable home sample collection and to combine COVID-19 and influenza testing of saliva samples. Simple and affordable at-home sample collection is seen as instrumental to providing Americans with more testing options to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Testing for both the novel coronavirus and influenza from the same sample has been described as a key priority to reduce the impact of both diseases during winter months.
16th Nov 2020 - Business Wire

WHO sees limited COVID-19 vaccine doses in early 2021

The World Health Organization’s chief scientist said on Monday she expected there to be “very limited” COVID-19 vaccine doses available in the first half of 2021. Soumya Swaminathan said that she remained optimistic that the body would be able to work with many manufacturers to have a wide selection of vaccines as part of its global distribution scheme.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters

How does Moderna coronavirus vaccine work and which countries are first in line for it?

US spent $1bn on vaccine and is promised 20million doses by the end of year. UK ministers were concerned would take too long to get jab from Switzerland. Was tested on 95 people with Covid - five were given jab, rest given placebo
16th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

UK orders five million doses of Moderna vaccine, eyes spring arrival

Britain has secured 5 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Inc MRNA.O after it reported positive trial results, health minister Matt Hancock said on Monday, with the earliest doses expected for delivery in spring. Interim data from a late-stage trial indicated Moderna’s vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing COVID-19. “We have today secured an initial agreement for 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine,” Hancock said at a news conference. Britain had previously secured supply deals for a total of 350 million vaccine doses from six different suppliers, including Pfizer Inc PFE.N, whose vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective, and 100 million doses of an AstraZeneca/Oxford AZN.L candidate expected to report late-stage results in coming weeks.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID restriction tiers in England may need strengthening, adviser says

The government will have to consider strengthening the three-tier system of restrictions used to control the spread of COVID-19 when the full lockdown in England ends, a medical adviser said on Monday. “We see very little effect from tier one. And I think when we look at what tiers may be there in the future, we will have to think about strengthening them in order to get us through the winter months until the vaccine’s available for everyone,” Susan Hopkins, from Public Health England, told a news conference. “We expect if the lockdown is working, and we’re all doing the best we can to have reduced or no social contact with other people that we will start to see cases decline over the next week.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

South Korea to tighten social distancing, warns of new COVID-19 crisis

South Korea will impose stricter social distancing rules for the greater Seoul area a month after easing them, officials said on Tuesday, warning of an even bigger crisis if anti-COVID-19 efforts fail to dampen a spike in new cases. Starting Tuesday midnight, tighter curbs will ban public gatherings of 100 people or more, limit religious services and audiences at sporting events to 30% capacity, and require high-risk facilities including clubs and karaoke bars to broaden distance among guests. South Korea has been one of the world’s coronavirus mitigation success stories after tackling the first major COVID-19 epidemic outside China with aggressive tracing and testing, but continues to battle persistent rises in infections. The tougher restrictions came as the daily case tally hovered above 200 for a fourth consecutive day, with a series of cluster outbreaks emerging from offices, medical facilities and small gatherings in Seoul and surrounding regions where around half of the country’s 52 million population live.
16th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19 lockdown tier system 'not very well thought out' warns SAGE scientist

The coronavirus lockdown tier system being used in England "was not very well thought out", a government scientific adviser has said. Under current plans, a regional tiered system is set to replace the national lockdown when it ends on 2 December. However, professor John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), has warned a return to the lowest alert level of the regional tier system, Tier 1, when the lockdown ends would be "very unwise".
15th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Arthritis drug 'cuts elderly Covid-19 deaths by two-thirds', say researchers

Daily drug reduces deaths by 71 per cent in those with moderate or severe illness Drug baricitinib, marketed as Olumiant, has only been available for three years Medics hope the arthritis drug could help save most vulnerable to coronavirus
15th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Nov 2020

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BioNTech vaccine scientist says jab could halve Covid transmission

The scientist behind the first potential Covid-19 vaccine to clear interim clinical trials says he is “very confident” the jab will reduce transmission of the disease, perhaps by 50%, resulting in a “dramatic” reduction in cases. The German company BioNTech and the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announced to worldwide acclaim last week that their jointly developed vaccine candidate appeared to be 90% effective in stopping people from falling ill. Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of BioNTech, said he expected that further analysis would show that the jab is also effective in stopping spread of the disease, but probably not by as much as 90%. Certainty around its impact will not come until next year, he added.
15th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

COVID-19: Two new testing 'mega labs' planned for 2021

Two new "mega labs" to turnaround 600,000 coronavirus tests a day are planned for next year, as Boris Johnson tries to draw a line under losing two key advisers. The prime minister will make a "series of critical announcements", Number 10 said, following the sudden departure of aides Dominic Cummings and Lee Cain. And in a bid to shore up support from "red wall" Tory MPs, he will hold a meeting with the so-called Northern Research Group today to "listen to their ideas" and convey his commitment to "levelling up".
15th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Damage to multiple organs recorded in 'long Covid' cases

Young and previously healthy people with ongoing symptoms of Covid-19 are showing signs of damage to multiple organs four months after the initial infection, a study suggests. The findings are a step towards unpicking the physical underpinnings and developing treatments for some of the strange and extensive symptoms experienced by people with “long Covid”, which is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK. Fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain are among the most frequently reported effects. On Sunday, the NHS announced it would launch a network of more than 40 long Covid specialist clinics where doctors, nurses and therapists will assess patients’ physical and psychological symptoms.
15th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Johnson & Johnson, U.S. government expand pact to support next phase of COVID-19 vaccine R&D

Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have expanded an agreement to support the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine candidate research and development, the company said on Saturday. Under the agreement the company will commit approximately $604 million and the HHS Department’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will commit about $454 million to support the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial evaluating Janssen’s investigational COVID-19 vaccine candidate as a single dose in up to 60,000 volunteers worldwide, the company said in a statement
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Recovering Covid-19 patients struggle to return to normal after hospital discharge, study finds

Surviving Covid-19 is hard enough for those who get severely ill from the disease, but returning to normal is a struggle, too, according to new research that found survivors were likely to face health and financial hardships even months later. A team of scientists led by Dr. Vineet Chopra of the University of Michigan Health System looked at 488 Covid-19 patients treated and released from hospitals in Michigan. They surveyed them about two months after their release, between March 16 and July 1.
14th Nov 2020 - CNN

New Zealand Study Reveals The Complex Psychological Toll of Pandemic Lockdowns

2020 has not been a good year for mental health. The emergence of a global pandemic has left many people fearing for their lives, stressing over their finances, panicking over the news, and yearning for their loved ones. While we're still not sure what the mental health toll will be, the World Health Organisation expects levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour to rise.
14th Nov 2020 - ScienceAlert

English COVID infections doubled in October - Imperial College study

English COVID-19 infections rose sharply in October with double the number of cases reported by the end of the month compared to the beginning ahead of the reintroduction of a national lockdown, a large study said on Thursday. The study, led by Imperial College London and known as REACT, showed that over 1 in 80 people were infected after more than 160,000 people were tested between Oct 16 and Nov 2, double that reported in early October. At the end of October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown in England, which came into force on Nov 5, after his science advisors warned that key indicators of the pandemic were going in the wrong direction.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Vaccine is inexact bonus for freight and freezers

Every challenge is also a business opportunity. Rolling out a potential Covid-19 vaccine is no exception. The shots developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which clinical trials have shown to be highly effective at preventing coronavirus, must be transported and stored at temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius or below. The daunting task for authorities eager to quickly deliver billions of doses across the world is a potential boon for those making freezers and handling freight.
14th Nov 2020 - Reuters

How Do I Clean And Maintain A Reusable COVID-19 Mask? : Goats and Soda

Does putting a reusable mask in the oven for 30 minutes at 165 degrees Fahrenheit kill the virus that causes COVID-19 and other pathogens? If not, how do I clean it? The good news: Yes, baking your cloth or synthetic mask would probably kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Several studies have shown that the virus dies when exposed to 158 degrees Fahrenheit for a length of time somewhere between 2 1/2 minutes and an hour. The bad news: It may also singe your mask.
13th Nov 2020 - NPR


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th Nov 2020

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Russia says its COVID-19 vaccine is looking 92% effective, but skeptics wonder

Developers of Sputnik V, Russia’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine, say that early, interim data from a large trial suggest that the shot appears to be 92% effective, but experts have raised questions about the claim. The Russian announcement Wednesday, which did not include detailed information about the trial, came two days after a similar announcement by Pfizer but is based on far fewer coronavirus cases. Some experts say that the data may have been rushed out in an effort to keep up with the worldwide race for a successful vaccine. Russia touted Sputnik V, a two-shot vaccine, as the world’s first to receive a government go-ahead after it was approved in early August without completing advanced testing. The move drew considerable criticism from experts who said data from tens of thousands of people were needed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine before it is widely distributed.
12th Nov 2020 - Los Angeles Times

Another Covid-19 breakthrough as researchers find inhaled multiple sclerosis drug proven to work

Just 13 per cent of patients given SNG001 fell ill enough to need intensive care. That was compared to 22 per cent of Covid patients who received a placebo. SNG001 uses naturally-occurring protein interferon beta which fights viruses
12th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Asian people are more likely to get Covid-19 and die, study claims

Researchers combed through data of 18million people in 50 studies. They found higher risk of infection in Asian and black people compared to white. But only those of Asian ethnicity had higher odds of ICU or death. Although the study is the largest of its kind, it still leaves questions unanswered
12th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Pharma companies must open their books on the funding agreements for covid-19 vaccines

Recently, the Financial Times reported that there is an important limitation to pharmaceutical corporation AstraZeneca’s not-for-profit promises on the production of their covid-19 vaccine. With hundreds of other vaccines under development, supported by an exceptional level of public funding, this is a cause for concern. Pharmaceutical corporations must open their books, make all funding and licensing agreements public, and substantiate any no-profit claims with data. We know that pharma does not tend to share this information willingly, so it is time for governments to take charge, demand transparency, and put their commitments to equitable access of covid-19 vaccines into action. As someone working on innovation and access to healthcare issues for Médecins Sans Frontières, an international medical humanitarian organisation, and a person living with cystic fibrosis who is at high risk of severe covid-19, we can see how groundbreaking a safe, effective, and affordable covid-19 vaccine would be in our joint global journey towards normality.
12th Nov 2020 - The BMJ

Implications of early COVID-19 vaccine data

News this week has largely been dominated by talk about a COVID-19 vaccine and finnCap’s Rude Health Life Sciences Sector Report is one of the first to focus on the implications of the early data surrounding the vaccine. The report acknowledges that the initial results are promising but warns that an over-reaction in the market shouldn’t diminish the need for more treatments and testing in the future. At the beginning of the week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced the first interim analysis from the Phase III study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection in the first interim efficacy analysis.
12th Nov 2020 - Pharmafield

Need for U.S. Virus Lockdowns to Be Determined: Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins University Professor of Nursing Jason Farley discusses the potential need for lockdowns in the United States and the make-up of President-elect Joe Biden’s Covid task force. He speaks with Bloomberg’s Francine Lacqua on "Bloomberg Surveillance." The Bloomberg School of Public Health is supported by Michael R. Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News
12th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Covid:19: Italy has wasted the sacrifices of the first wave, say experts

The lessons of the first and harshest lockdown in Europe have not been heeded as Italy drowns in a second wave, writes Marta Paterlini - In October, Giulia Chiarcossi, 80, called her doctor’s office to arrange her flu vaccination, as she has done every year for the past 15 years, usually getting it done straightaway. “My family doctor told me to call back in November,” she says, a little surprised. There were no flu vaccinations available. Mindful of the dangers of winter and a potential twin epidemic of covid-19 and influenza, the Italian Ministry of Health has for months urged regions to start administering flu vaccinations early and extend free coverage to people over 60. Chiarcossi lives in Brescia in the northern region of Lombardy, one of the epicentres of the first coronavirus wave, which began in February. Italy’s most wealthy and populous region, Lombardy was until May the hardest hit region in the whole of Europe.1
12th Nov 2020 - The BMJ

Boosting Psychological, Social Well-Being Could Play Role In Countering Conspiracy Theories, Misinformation About COVID-19, Opinion Piece Says

To counter conspiracy theories, boost well-being - Aleksandra Cichocka, political psychologist at the University of Kent and affiliate of the Nicolaus Copernicus University....“…[T]hose who believe conspiracy theories are less likely than those who don’t to comply with public health measures. The World Health Organization has called on countries to manage the spread of false information. But how? … [The Routledge Handbook of Conspiracy Theories] concludes that it is easier to spread them than to refute them. Correcting entrenched beliefs is very difficult. So it is better to prevent falsehoods taking root than to try to weed them out. That means looking beyond their content and the platforms and algorithms that fuel their spread. We need to examine what makes people susceptible. … The COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm for vulnerability to conspiracy narratives. Uncertainty and anxiety are high. Lockdown and social distancing bring isolation.
12th Nov 2020 - Kaiser Family Foundation

COVID-19: BioNTech founder behind coronavirus vaccine says first UK patients could get jab next month

The scientist behind the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine has told Sky News people in the UK could be vaccinated against coronavirus by the middle of next month. Speaking in his first interview with a UK broadcaster, Professor Ugur Sahin, co-founder of German firm BioNTech, said the first vaccines could be rolled out to patients nationwide mid-December. But he said it would depend on whether the UK regulator licenses it in time, adding: "The earliest time point for supplying vaccines will not be before the middle of December.
12th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Black people are twice as likely to get Covid-19 but do not face a greater risk of death — yet Asian people DO, study claims

Researchers combed through data of 18million people in 50 studies. They found higher risk of infection in Asian and black people compared to white. But only those of Asian ethnicity had higher odds of ICU or death. Although the study is the largest of its kind, it still leaves questions unanswered
12th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Gates Foundation adds $70 million more funding for COVID vaccines for poor

The Gates Foundation added another $70 million of funding on Thursday to global efforts to develop and distribute vaccines and treatments against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it hoped other international donors would now also pledge more. An extra $50 million will go to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) led by the GAVI vaccine alliance, the foundation said, and another $20 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is co-funding development of several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters

India's Serum says made 40 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine, to make Novavax shot soon

Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, said on Thursday it has made 40 million doses of AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, and would soon begin making Novavax’s rival shot, as they both seek regulatory approval. While there are no COVID-19 vaccines approved yet and trials are still under way to prove they are safe and effective, leading drugmakers have been funded to begin production early to expedite deliveries, as the pandemic has killed more than 1.2 million people worldwide. AstraZeneca said last week that it was holding back deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate while it awaits the data from late-stage clinical trials, which got delayed due to a summer dip in UK coronavirus infections. Serum declined to comment on whether the 40 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were meant for global supply or only for India.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19: Government faces legal action over £75m contract for antibody tests

Legal action has been launched over the UK government’s award of a £75m (€84m; $99m) contract for one million antibody tests to a business consortium, alleging that the deal unlawfully bypassed safeguards protecting taxpayers’ money. Judicial review proceedings issued on 11 November by the Good Law Project, a not-for-profit legal organisation, say that the government was actively involved in setting up the UK Rapid Test Consortium and gave it £10m to buy components to manufacture testing kits. The contract to purchase the AbC-19 Rapid Tests was signed without a public tender and without evaluating the accuracy of the tests, the action says. This, the Good Law Project claim argues, raises serious concerns about the maladministration of public funds. A study1 published in The BMJ this week questions the accuracy of the AbC-19 test and suggests that, if used in real life settings, the test would result in a large number of false positive results. These conclusions contrast with an earlier (not yet peer reviewed) study suggesting that the test gave no false positive results.
12th Nov 2020 - BMJ

Why I volunteered for a COVID-19 vaccine trial

So why did I volunteer to be injected with an experimental vaccine for COVID-19? That’s what some of my friends wanted to know when I told them what I was doing. “Who knows about the long term,” texted a former college roommate. “Seems like a gamble.” It all began in July when the British government announced it was seeking lots of volunteers for large-scale clinical trials of new vaccines. Only a month before, a good friend of mine here had died of COVID-19 after spending weeks on a ventilator. Curious, I completed an online form, figuring I wasn’t committing myself to anything.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Where COVID lurks: Restaurants and gyms are behind infection surge and where you're most likely to catch virus, while malls, convenience stores and pharmacies are all low-risk, cell phone tracking data suggests

A computer model analyzed 10 cities and looked at where people go during the day, how long they stay and the occupancy. It found most COVID-19 occur at 'superspreader' sites, such as coffee shops, full-service restaurants and gyms Keeping department stores, convenience stores, gas stations and pharmacies open contributed relatively few additional infections. Next, they created trade off charts to determine how limited occupancy could reduce infection risk. In Chicago, reopening at 100% occupancy would lead to nearly 3.5 million cases but a 20% occupancy cap would only lead to about 500,000 new infections. In Los Angeles, full capacity would lead to more than three million new cases but limiting occupancy reduce the number of infections by 75%
10th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Nov 2020

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Italy surpasses the one million COVID mark, joins top 10 worst-hit countries -Reuters tally

Italy, one of the European countries hit hardest by COVID-19, surpassed the one-million infections mark on Wednesday, leap-frogging Mexico to become one of the top 10 worst-affected countries globally, according to a Reuters tally. The Italian health ministry said the country had registered 32,961 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking its total tally since the contagion first struck in February to 1.028 million. The Reuters tally showed that top 10 countries accounted for over two-thirds of all the global coronavirus cases. The United States leads the list, which includes four other European countries besides Italy - Russia, France, Spain and Britain. Italy has reported some 42,953 deaths so far, the health ministry said - the second-highest number in Europe after Britain. The country also has the highest fatality rate on the continent, at over 4.18%, the Reuters tally showed. By comparison, the United States has a 2.33% fatality rate.
12th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine needs to be thawed from -94F and has to be used within five days: State officials scramble to carry out 'very complex' plans and overcome logistical ...

State health officials in the US are concerned the 'very complex' race to prepare for effective vaccine distribution could be thwarted by logistical challenges. While distribution is being handled on a federal level, state and local healthcare providers are responsible for storing and administering vaccines once delivered. Officials say they've had just weeks to prepare large-scale efforts after recently learning of specific storage requirements for vaccines. Pfizer's vaccine poses the biggest logistical issues so far given doses must be stored at -94F. Other vaccines currently being developed do not need to be stored as such a low temperature The US government plans to start vaccinating Americans next month if Pfizer has its COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA
12th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Study of nearly 2,000 Marine recruits reveals asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 transmission

A study of nearly 2,000 Marine recruits who went through supervised quarantine before starting basic training revealed several instances of asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, despite the quarantine measures. The findings have important implications for the effectiveness of public health measures to suppress transmission of COVID-19 among young adults, whether in military training, schools, or other aspects of the pandemic. The researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Naval Medical Research Center studied new Marine recruits while they were in a two-week supervised quarantine. The study results, publishing November 11 in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that few infected recruits had symptoms before diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, that transmission occurred despite implementing many best-practice public health measures, and that diagnoses were made only by scheduled tests, not by tests performed in response to symptoms.
12th Nov 2020 - Medical Xpress

Deep-Freeze Hurdle Makes Pfizer’s Vaccine One for the Rich

When Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine rolls off production lines, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. will be waiting to distribute it through a complex and costly system of deep-freeze airport warehouses, refrigerated vehicles and inoculation points across China. After they reach vaccination centers, the shots must be thawed from -70 degrees celsius and injected within five days, if not they go bad. Then the herculean journey from warehouse freezer to rolled-up sleeve must be undertaken all over again -- to deliver the second booster shot a month later. The roadmap sketched out by the company, which has licensed the vaccine for Greater China, offers a glimpse into the enormous and daunting logistical challenges faced by those looking to deliver Pfizer’s experimental vaccine after it showed “extraordinary” early results from final stage trials, raising hopes of a potential end to the nearly year-long pandemic.
12th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Russia says its Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine is 92% effective

Russia's Sputnik V vaccine is 92% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 according to interim trial results, the country's sovereign wealth fund said on Wednesday, as Moscow rushes to keep pace with Western drugmakers in the race for a shot.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters

What you need to know about BioNTech — the European company behind Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine

Pfizer says its coronavirus vaccine — developed in partnership with BioNTech — was more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 infection. The news was hailed as a significant milestone in the race to deliver a vaccine that can help bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic. There are still huge challenges ahead for the development of a vaccine, but as hopes rise worldwide, CNBC takes a look at BioNTech’s history.
11th Nov 2020 - CNBC

Covid-19 face masks with valves don’t work

Wearing a face mask helps stop the spread of coronavirus and keep others safe, unless it has a valve on it. New research has revealed how ineffective these types of masks are. High speed cameras have been used to capture the air flow from an uncovered mouth alongside two different kinds of face mask. As the video above shows, the type of mask with a valve on it still allows a jet of virus-containing air to escape.
11th Nov 2020 - Metro

People with one of eight genes found on seven chromosomes are at a much higher risk of dying from Covid-19, study shows

Scientists have identified eight genes that have a major influence on a person's likelihood of survival if they become infected with the coronavirus. Faulty versions of these genes, known as super-variants, were discovered scattered across seven chromosomes by researchers at Harvard University. Having just one of these faulty genes can slash the chance of survival by at least 20 per cent. Data from the UK Biobank, released in August, allowed researchers to scrutinise the genetics of 1,778 people who contracted Covid-19. Of these, 445 people died, equating to just over a quarter of the study cohort. A computer scanned through the genomes of the infected people and looked for genetic locations which crop up that may be linked to mortality. But having three or more can see survival likelihood plummet to as low as 60 per cent.
11th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

Will Australia really have a Covid-19 vaccine by March?

Hopes were raised around the world this week as news broke about a breakthrough in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. Interim results show the Pfizer vaccine is 90% effective. But how much do we actually know about this trial and who will get it first?
11th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Britons with one of eight genes are at a much higher risk of dying from Covid-19

Individual presence of super-variants slashes likelihood of survival Having three of them sees survival likelihood plummet to as low as 60 per cent Data comes from more than 1,700 cases of Covid-19 from the UK Biobank
11th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

This $1 made-in-Africa Covid-19 test kit could revolutionize testing on the continent

For the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak began, Africa may be poised to reshape rapid testing for the virus on the continent. The Pasteur Institute, a biomedical research center based in Senegal's capital city of Dakar, says it is close to producing an affordable, handheld Covid-19 diagnostic test kit that can give results in a matter of minutes. The institute is running a new venture called DiaTropix, which has been working in partnership with five research organizations since March, including Mologic in the UK, to create the test kit. Amadou Sall, director of the Pasteur Institute and DiaTropix, told CNN that the biomedical center hopes the kit will cost as little as $1 to purchase. "This is a very simple technology, like a pregnancy test that you can use everywhere at the community level, which is important for Africa," he said. According to Mologic, this rapid test kit does not require electricity or need laboratory analysis
11th Nov 2020 - CNN

NI pharma firm Almac's role in Covid-19 vaccine

Almac, the Northern Ireland pharmaceutical firm, is playing a role in the clinical trials of the first effective Covid-19 vaccine. On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech said preliminary results showed it can prevent more than 90% of people from getting the virus. Almac's clinical services division provides clinical trials support to BioNTech. It involves things like distribution, labelling and temperature management. The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries. It has to be kept in ultra-cold storage at below minus 80C - Almac's hardware and software is used to maintain this temperature requirement.
11th Nov 2020 - BBC

Uzbekistan to carry out late-stage trial of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Uzbekistan will carry out a phase III trial of a coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co., the Central Asian nation’s ministry of innovative development told Reuters on Wednesday. The deal makes the Zhifei Longcom vaccine the fifth COVID-19 candidate in China to enter late-stage, large scale human tests overseas. “The third phase of the pilot process will be conducted in Uzbekistan for 5,000 volunteers and the process will continue for a year,” the ministry said, adding that volunteers were aged between 18 and 59 and would undergo eight medical examinations within a year.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Moderna Vaccine Trial Reaches Key Goal to Gauge Shot’s Merit

Now it’s Moderna Inc.’s time to be in the spotlight. The same U.S. explosion of Covid-19 cases that helped Pfizer Inc. get results for its vaccine trial earlier this week is helping speed along Moderna’s trial. Moderna said Wednesday its study has accumulated more than 53 infections, allowing a preliminary analysis of the shot’s effectiveness to begin. The shares jumped. Moderna didn’t predict how long it could take an independent monitoring committee to analyze the data, but said the company could get the data to the committee within days. The company said it is still blinded to the data.
11th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg

Moderna closes in on release of COVID-19 vaccine data

Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it has enough data for a first interim analysis of the late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, which should help determine the vaccine's efficacy.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Europe to pay less than U.S. for Pfizer vaccine under initial deal - source

The European Union has struck a deal to initially pay less for Pfizer's PFE.N COVID-19 vaccine candidate than the United States, an EU official told Reuters as the bloc announced on Wednesday it had secured an agreement for up to 300 million doses. The experimental drug, developed in conjunction with Germany's BioNTech 22UAy.DE, is the frontrunner in a global race to produce a vaccine, with interim data released on Monday showing it was more than 90% effective at protecting people from COVID-19 in a large-scale clinical trial.. Under the EU deal, 27 European countries could buy 200 million doses, and have an option to purchase another 100 million. The bloc will pay less than $19.50 per shot, a senior EU official involved in talks with vaccine makers told Reuters, adding that partly reflected the financial support given by the EU and Germany for the drug’s development.
11th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine Funding Came From Germany Not Operation Warp Speed

It’s said that success has many authors, and the encouraging data from Pfizer Inc.’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine had plenty of people in Washington lining up to take credit. Vice President Mike Pence was among Trump administration officials saying support from the government’s Operation Warp Speed program helped accelerate the development of the vaccine, which was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 infections in an interim analysis.
9th Nov 2020 - Bloomberg


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 11th Nov 2020

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EU to approve Pfizer vaccine contract tomorrow

The European Commission will approve a contract for the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech tomorrow, its President Ursula von der Leyen said. The two companies said their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two doses, and 28 days after the first, according to preliminary findings on the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. "Tomorrow we will authorise a contract for up to 300 million doses of the vaccine developed by German company BioNTech and Pfizer," Ms von der Leyen said in a statement.
10th Nov 2020 - RTE.ie

Planes, dry ice, pharmacies: The vaccine challenges

The United States could be the first country to launch one of the most ambitious vaccine operations in history: distributing and administering up to 600 million doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in just a few months. Massive vaccine campaigns are nothing new - they have been carried out for decades in the fight against measles and flu, for example. But stamping out the coronavirus is a distinctly new challenge due to three factors: the short timeframe for inoculating a huge number of people; the fact that most vaccines will require two doses; and the very low temperature at which some of the vaccines must be stored.
10th Nov 2020 - RTE.ie

One in 5 COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days - study

Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said on Monday, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters

How Eli Lilly Developed Covid-19 Drug in Pandemic’s Long Shadow

When Covid-19 struck, drug companies around the world began racing to find vaccines and treatments. One factor has gummed up their efforts: They have to work in an environment transformed by the very problem they are trying to tackle. At Eli Lilly & Co., the chief of a laboratory, quarantining at home after he contracted Covid-19, had to use a robot equipped with an iPad to patrol his lab. When shipping constraints threatened to delay testing of an experimental drug, Lilly repurposed its corporate jet to get vials to use
10th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Cautious optimism over Covid-19 vaccine trials

The media have been awash with stories about the apparent success of the Pfizer Covid vaccine following the publication of preliminary trial outcomes (Hopes rise for end of pandemic as Pfizer says vaccine is 90% effective, 10 November). I am not surprised that the public has latched on to these, as hope and positivity have been in short supply this past year. I have even had patients contacting me about when the vaccine will be available, stating that it will allow “normal” life to resume. While the public can be forgiven for overoptimism, it is important that the medical profession, the media and the government keep expectations grounded and do not encourage the notion that we now have a panacea that will take us out of the pandemic.
10th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Oxford ups COVID-19 testing capacity with Thermo Fisher deal

The University of Oxford has partnered with U.S.-based Thermo Fisher Scientific to ramp up its capacity to deliver COVID-19 testing data and help collect and quantify immune responses in its vaccine trials, the university said on Tuesday. The collaboration will increase Oxford’s testing capacity to up to 50,000 tests per day with its new rapid testing lab and a device from Thermo Fisher that can detect antibodies developed in a person against the new coronavirus, it added.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Study Shows Endangered Marine Mammals Are At Risk Of Contracting COVID-19

Wastewater is known to carry the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In fact, cities around the world are testing wastewater to gauge the extent of local coronavirus outbreaks. Wastewater is often treated before it enters the ocean to kill microbes, like viruses and bacteria. However, untreated wastewater is occasionally released into waterways when treatment plants reach capacity, such as during a heavy rain event. In these situations, wastewater treatment facilities may release wastewater that has not been fully treated. When over-capacity wastewater treatment plants release untreated effluent during the current pandemic, the virus that causes COVID-19 enters marine habitats.
10th Nov 2020 - Forbes

Gastrointestinal effects of COVID-19 highlighted in new study

In a new study, researchers have synthesized evidence from 36 scientific articles to highlight the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in people with COVID-19. The study, appearing in the journal Abdominal Radiology, also identifies some of the signs abdominal radiologists should look out for when imaging people. Stay informed with live updates on the current COVID-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment.
10th Nov 2020 - Medical News Today

Nearly one in five Covid patients later diagnosed with mental illness – study

Nearly one in five people who have had Covid-19 are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as anxiety, depression or insomnia within three months of testing positive for the virus, according to a study that suggests action is needed to mitigate the mental health toll of the pandemic. The analysis – conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre – also found that people with a pre-existing mental health diagnosis were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19 than those without, even accounting for known risk factors such as age, sex, race, and underlying physical conditions. “This finding was unexpected and needs investigation. In the meantime, having a psychiatric disorder should be added to the list of risk factors for Covid-19,” said Dr Max Taquet, an NIHR academic clinical fellow and one of the authors of the analysis.
10th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

20 Million Doses Of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Headed To Spain In Early 2021

Spain’s health minister has said the country is in line to receive 20 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s new Covid-19 vaccine early next year, which early results indicate could be 90% effective at preventing the disease with no serious safety concerns, a welcome announcement after parts of the country were rocked by violent anti-lockdown protests after the government declared a state of emergency over rising Covid-19 cases.
10th Nov 2020 - Forbes

How a communist physics teacher flattened the COVID-19 curve in southern India

When the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its first statement on the spread of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, on 18 January, few local governments in India paid close attention. But K. K. Shailaja, the diminutive woman running the health ministry in the southern state of Kerala, immediately perked up her ears. Shailaja knew many students from Kerala were studying at Wuhan University; some had asked her for internships the previous year. She also knew firsthand the havoc an outbreak could cause. In 2018, during her first stint as a minister, she faced an outbreak of Nipah virus, another deadly pathogen spread from animals to people. “We knew anything could happen at any time,” she says.
10th Nov 2020 - Science Magazine

COVID-19: Pfizer vaccine within global reach - but what about New Zealand?

A promising vaccine against COVID-19 could be available to New Zealanders as early as the first quarter of 2021, according to the Government. An interim analysis has found a vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and BioNTech to be 90 percent effective in protecting people - without evidence of prior infection - against the SARS-CoV-2 virus,
10th Nov 2020 - Newshub

COVID-19 lockdown had significant toll on New Zealanders' well-being, study reveals

Research has confirmed the nationwide Alert Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown had a significant toll on New Zealanders' well-being, especially for younger people - but the results were not all negative. Researchers from the University of Otago conducted a demographically representative survey of adult New Zealanders between 15 and 18 April, corresponding to days 19 to 22 of the 33-day lockdown. They found almost a third of participants experienced mental distress during the lockdown, but that many people also experienced some form of 'silver linings'. They asked Kiwis about their levels of stress, anxiety and depression, about the state of their family relationships and whether there were any positive outcomes from lockdown. Dr Susanna Every-Palmer, the Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington, says 30 per cent of those surveyed reported moderate to severe psychological distress and 16 per cent had moderate to high levels of anxiety. Almost 40 per cent said their level of well-being was low.
10th Nov 2020 - News-Medical.Net

Significant psychological toll from New Zealand COVID-19 lockdown

Research has confirmed the nationwide Alert Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown had a significant toll on New Zealanders' well-being, especially for younger people - but the results were not all negative. Researchers from the University of Otago conducted a demographically representative survey of adult New Zealanders between 15 and 18 April, corresponding to days 19 to 22 of the 33-day lockdown. They found almost a third of participants experienced mental distress during the lockdown, but that many people also experienced some form of 'silver linings'.
10th Nov 2020 - EurekAlert!

EU to approve Pfizer vaccine contract tomorrow

The European Commission will approve a contract for the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech tomorrow, its President Ursula von der Leyen said. The two companies said their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Protection in patients was achieved seven days after the second of two doses, and 28 days after the first, according to preliminary findings on the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.
10th Nov 2020 - RTE

Brazil's Bolsonaro claims victory as Sinovac COVID-19 trial halted

Brazil’s health regulator suspended a clinical trial of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine due to a severe adverse event, delighting President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly criticized the vaccine’s credibility and said it would not be purchased by his government. Brazil’s health regulator, Anvisa, suspended the trials late on Monday saying the event occurred on Oct. 29. The state government of Sao Paulo, where the trial is being run, said the death of a trial volunteer had been registered as a suicide and was being investigated. A police report of the incident was seen by Reuters.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Brazil suspends trials of China's Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, citing 'serious adverse event'

A "serious adverse event" that led Brazil's health authorities to halt clinical trials of a Chinese-developed Covid-19 vaccine was not related to the vaccine trial itself, the director of Brazil's Butantan biomedical institute said on Tuesday. Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) suspended the trial on Monday after an incident on October 29. A note from Anvisa said the trial had been paused in order to better evaluate the data and assess the risk. But Dimas Covas, the institute's director, told reporters at a news conference in Sao Paulo that the incident was in no way linked to the vaccine trial.
10th Nov 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus: Brazil halts trial of Sinovac vaccine after 'unrelated' death of volunteer

Brazil's health regulator has halted clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine being made by Chinese drug firm Sinovac after a "serious adverse effect". The regulator, Anvisa, did not provide any further details but said the incident took place on 29 October. "With the interruption of the study, no new volunteer can be vaccinated," a statement on its website read.
10th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Eli Lilly receives authorisation for Covid-19 antibody treatment

The US Food and Drug Administration has given Eli Lilly the first emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 antibody treatment, which the drugmaker hopes will help vulnerable people avoid hospitalisation. Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab therapy has been authorised for mild-to-moderate patients who are at risk for developing a more serious condition, such as the elderly or those with chronic illnesses. The treatment, designed to boost patients’ immune systems with artificially engineered antibodies, is the first drug developed for use this early in the disease.
10th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Eli Lilly’s coronavirus antibody treatment will be needed even if there is a vaccine, CEO says

There will be a need for coronavirus antibody therapies even if there is a widely available vaccine, Eli Lilly CEO and Chairman Dave Ricks told CNBC. Lilly’s Covid-19 antibody treatment received emergency use authorization from the FDA on Monday evening. “I am so pleased to hear about Pfizer’s news yesterday, and we hope that makes us obsolete. I don’t think it will,” Ricks said.
10th Nov 2020 - CNBC

Ahead by a nose: Covid sniffing dogs prevent surveillance overreach

A British security agency says it is giving up on high-tech solutions to the pandemic in favor of Covid-19 detecting sniffer dogs — because they are a “softer touch.” Already deployed at Helsinki airport and in airports in the United Arab Emirates, researchers say specially-trained dogs can sniff out a person infected with Covid-19 within seconds — and with almost 100% accuracy. “The results are great,” said Jonathan Ratcliffe, director of the UK security company Guards, during a phone call. Ratcliffe is advocating for the use of dogs in shopping centers and airports. “With the right deployment I think dogs would be really good: they’re a lot less intrusive and negative.”
10th Nov 2020 - Coda

COVID vaccine breakthrough raises hopes, poses logistical headache

Monday’s potential breakthrough in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has left governments scrambling to meet the logistical challenge of distributing hundreds of millions of doses once it becomes available in coming months. Interim trial data showed the experimental vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech was 90% effective, spurring hopes of an end to a pandemic that has cost more than a million lives and crashed the world’s major economies. With the two groups expecting to produce some 50 million doses by the end of the year and 1.3 billion doses next year, assuming regulatory approval, German Health Minister Jens Spahn, said the vaccine was a “light at the end of the tunnel”.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Brazil halts trials of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine

Brazil’s health regulator said on Monday it had suspended clinical trials of an experimental Chinese COVID-19 vaccine after an “adverse incident” involving one of the volunteers, in a surprise to the trial organisers who said that while there had been a death it was not related to the vaccine. The setback for CoronaVac, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech, came on the same day US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said its vaccine candidate had shown 90 percent effectiveness, raising hopes of an end to the pandemic.
10th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 10th Nov 2020

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English study suggests T cells could be sufficient to protect from COVID-19

High levels of so-called “T cells” that respond to the coronavirus could be sufficient to offer protection against infection, an English study said on Tuesday, adding to the evidence of the crucial role they play in immunity to COVID-19. T cells, a type of white blood cell that makes up part of a healthy immune system, are thought to be essential to protect against infection from the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus, and could provide longer term immunity than antibodies. The study on nearly 3,000 people, conducted by Oxford Immunotec and Public Health England (PHE), found that no participants with a high T cell response developed symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection when researchers followed up with them.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters UK

Eli Lilly receives authorisation for Covid-19 antibody treatment

The US Food and Drug Administration has given Eli Lilly the first emergency use authorisation for a Covid-19 antibody treatment, which the drugmaker hopes will help vulnerable people avoid hospitalisation. Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab therapy has been authorised for mild-to-moderate patients, who are at risk for developing a more serious condition, such as the elderly, or those with chronic illnesses. The treatment — designed to boost the immune system of patients with artificially engineered antibodies — is the first drug developed for use this early in the disease. David Ricks, Eli Lilly’s chief executive, said it was a “valuable tool for doctors fighting the now-increasing burden of this global pandemic”.
10th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Why Pfizer’s ultra-cold COVID-19 vaccine will not be at the local pharmacy any time soon

Work to distribute the experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech is gearing up after the companies announced successful interim data earlier on Monday, but it will not be coming to local pharmacies for the general public any time soon.
10th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Scientists reveal the most accurate and up-to-date visualisation of the Covid-19 coronavirus yet

Scientists have released the most up-to-date illustration of the coronavirus ever made, mapping both its external appearance and internal structure. The visualisation was created via a 3D model and combines the latest data on the structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which is causing the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia created the model and hope it can help create treatments for Covid-19. In a video the academics showcase their model which includes the protein spikes on its surface as well as the genetic material wound up inside the viral membrane.
9th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

Covid vaccine: First 'milestone' vaccine offers 90% protection

The first effective coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19, a preliminary analysis shows. The developers - Pfizer and BioNTech - described it as a "great day for science and humanity". Their vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised. The companies plan to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month. No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time.
9th Nov 2020 - BBC

Covid-19 news: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is 'more than 90% effective'

A coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by Pfizer is “more than 90% effective in preventing covid-19”, according to early results, the company announced today. The results have been described as “reason for optimism for 2021” by Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer. Joe Biden, US president-elect, said this was “excellent news”, but warned that “the end of the battle against covid-19 is still months away” as it will take “many more months before there is widespread vaccination.” Pfizer said that an early analysis of the results from the phase III trial found more than 90 per cent fewer symptomatic coronavirus cases among trial participants who received two doses of the vaccine candidate three weeks apart compared to those who received a placebo. So far in the trial, 38,955 people have received two doses of either vaccine or placebo as of 8 November, and there have been 94 confirmed coronavirus cases in total among them. The results have not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, and Pfizer said further analysis will occur once there have been 164 confirmed coronavirus cases among the participants. Pfizer is developing the vaccine in partnership with German biotechnology company BioNTech.
9th Nov 2020 - New Scientist

Italy faces 10,000 Covid deaths in a month with no lockdown – medics

Doctors in Italy have warned there will be an additional 10,000 Covid-19 deaths in a month in the country unless a national lockdown is imposed. The government is moving toward placing further restrictions in four more regions considered high risk: Campania, Liguria, Abruzzo and Umbria. The Italian Order of Doctors, however, has urged tougher action as hospitals struggle to find space for coronavirus patients. Ambulances have been queuing outside emergency units from Turin in the north to Naples in the south. People were treated for Covid-19 in their cars outside Cotugno hospital in Naples, the capital of Campania, over the weekend. One 78-year-old woman waited in an ambulance for 26 hours before being admitted to hospital.
9th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Spell of heavy smog in Indian capital raises fears for COVID patients

Residents of the Indian capital are enduring one of the worst spells of air pollution in years, data released on Monday showed, raising the risks to city residents posed by the novel coronavirus, doctors said. Pollution in New Delhi had almost disappeared earlier this year, when the government imposed a nationwide lockdown to stop the coronavirus. But the curbs have been lifted and the pollution, and the virus, are back with a vengeance. Delhi’s overall air quality index (AQI), which includes the concentration of PM2.5 particles as well as bigger pollutants, has stayed above 400, on a scale of 500, for five consecutive days, government data showed. The tiny PM2.5 particles can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases including lung cancer, and pose a particular risk for people with COVID 19.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Researchers worry over children with COVID-19

Are children a major source of contagion for COVID-19? Ten months into a pandemic that has claimed 1.2 million lives, experts are still divided on the question, even as governments must decide whether to keep classrooms open or shut. During the first wave of infection, scientific consensus formed around the concern that children might be a crucial vector — as they are for the flu — in spreading the novel coronavirus. And then, moving into the summer, the opposite idea took hold: Children, especially young ones, did not infect others that much, several studies suggested. “If you look at the scientific literature, it’s really not very clear,” said Dominique Costagliola, an epidemiologist at the Marie and Pierre Curie Faculty of the Sorbonne University in Paris.
9th Nov 2020 - The Japan Times

How Biden plans to change the US pandemic response

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris say they will move the US Covid-19 pandemic response in a dramatically different direction. "The pandemic is getting significantly more worrisome all across the country," Biden said on Friday. "I want everyone to know on day one, we're going to put our plan to control this virus into action." There were dauntingly high new case numbers last week, and by the time Biden takes office January 20, the influential University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation model projects there will be more than 372,000 Covid-19 deaths -- that's 135,000 more than the current total.
9th Nov 2020 - CNN

Covid 19 coronavirus: Later lockdown could have spelt 200 deaths

Two hundred Kiwis may have died had the Government held off ordering our nationwide lockdown for another three weeks - while nearly 12,000 people may have been infected. That's the stark upshot of newly-published modelling that's underscored how crucial New Zealand's "go hard, go early" response to Covid-19 was in sparing the country a calamity - and putting it on path to elimination. The paper, by researchers at University of Auckland-based Te Punaha Matatini, also suggested a slightly earlier lockdown may have spared several hundred infections - but added that might have been impractical at the time anyway. The modelling took a sweeping look at New Zealand's initial approach to the pandemic, to find that the lockdown proved a much stronger driver in bringing down daily cases than border closures.
9th Nov 2020 - New Zealand Herald

Asymptomatic coronavirus patient shed virus for 70 days: study

A 71-year-old hospital patient with leukemia tested positive for the novel coronavirus in March. She was thought to have remained infectious for at least 70 days, according to the lead author of a recent case study about the woman. The case study indicates that immunosuppressed people who get the coronavirus could remain contagious for longer than previously thought.
9th Nov 2020 - Business Insider

Inside Operation Warp Speed: Coronavirus vaccine rolls off US production lines ahead of FDA approval as Army General in charge of distribution says he fears public won't take it

General Gus Perna was two months from retirement in May when Donald Trump asked him to head up Operation Warp Speed, which aims to get 300 million Americans vaccinated for COVID. It is the largest and most expensive vaccination program ever with $12billion already spent. 60 Minutes showed footage of vials rolling off the line at a facility in Baltimore - but did not say which of several competing coronavirus vaccines were being produced there. Perna would not say how many doses had already been prepared, but said the vaccine could be rolled out immediately if approval granted. The leading candidate, by Pfizer, could be approved as soon as next month
9th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: Pfizer vaccine found to be 90% effective in 'great day for science and humanity'

The coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be 90% effective in preventing people from getting the virus. Phase 3 of Pfizer's trial involved 43,538 participants from six countries. They received two doses of either the immunisation or a placebo, with 90% protected from the virus within 28 days of having their jabs. Only 94 people who took part in the trial developed coronavirus and no serious safety concerns were reported, the US pharmaceutical firm said.
9th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective

The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19, a promising development as the world has waited anxiously for any positive news about a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people. Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts.
9th Nov 2020 - The New York Times

Covid-19 vaccine candidate is 90% effective, says manufacturer

Hopes are soaring that a Covid vaccine is within reach, following news that an interim analysis has shown Pfizer/BioNTech’s candidate was 90% effective in protecting people from transmission of the virus in global trials. The vaccine performed much better than most experts had hoped for, according to the companies’ analysis, and brings into view a potential end to a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered economies and upended daily life worldwide. The data is from an interim analysis and the trial continues into December but the headline results were emphatic. Regulators will be looking to process an emergency licence application at record speed.
9th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

One in five COVID-19 patients develop mental illness within 90 days: study

Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists said on Monday, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients in the study who developed mental health problems, and the researchers also found significantly higher risks of dementia, a brain impairment condition. “People have been worried that COVID-19 survivors will be at greater risk of mental health problems, and our findings ... show this to be likely,” said Paul Harrison, a professor of psychiatry at Britain’s Oxford University.
9th Nov 2020 - Reuters


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Nov 2020

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A ‘Terrifying’ Coronavirus Surge Will Land in Biden’s Lap

Total coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 10 million on Sunday. Experts say the virus is spreading out of control and could grow worse before President-elect Biden takes office.
9th Nov 2020 - The New York Times

The ‘other vaccine’: Why the Imperial jab offers a different kind of hope in the fight against Covid-19

Robin Shattock won’t say it himself - he is a man of modesty, after all - but more people should be paying attention to his vaccine. As the race for a Covid-19 jab intensifies, the team at Imperial College London has somewhat flown under the radar. Headlines have instead been dominated by the fast-moving progress of their counterparts at Oxford and elsewhere. In time, though, it feels this could all change.
8th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Manufacturing of AstraZeneca Oxford University COVID-19 vaccine to start in Australia tomorrow

About 30 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine will start production on Monday Biotech company CSL announced manufacturing would begin in Melbourne The doses pending approval are expected to be released in the first half of 2021
8th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Could a Covid vaccine bring back normality?

England is back in lockdown. It happened not a moment too soon. As of 2 November almost three-quarters of a million new cases have been officially counted since 21 September, when the government’s scientific advisory committee Sage advised lockdown. On that day, Britain had only had about 360,000 cases since Covid arrived. Now the figure is three times that. So many more cases mean it will take longer, and possibly require tougher social restrictions, to get numbers down by imposing lockdown than it would have in September, says James Naismith, head of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford. Naismith calculates that we will have 500 deaths per day in two to three weeks because of the cases that occurred over the past week, compared with an average of 144 in the week ending 2 November. But it could be far worse. If we had done nothing for another two weeks, he says, we’d be looking at 1,000 deaths a day by Christmas – and more, if hospitals fill up and not everyone can get optimal treatment.
8th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Northumberland company chosen for groundbreaking Covid-19 trials

A Northumberland pharmaceutical company has been chosen to take part in ground breaking clinical trials to counter the effect of Covid-19. Morpeth-based Pharma Nord's Bio-Vitamin D3 will be part of the research designed to look at the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the immune system and protecting against the coronavirus. The supplements will be taken by over 5,000 people for a period of six months as they take part in the Queen Mary University of London ‘Coronavit’ study. Scientists hope that the large-scale trial will help to find out if correcting people’s vitamin D deficiencies over winter can reduce the risk and/or severity of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections.
8th Nov 2020 - ChronicleLive

University of Kent expert believes effective coronavirus vaccine won't be rolled out until the middle of next year

Professor of Genetics Darren Griffin says the focus should be shifted on to mass testing and mask wearing instead of rushing through a jab
7th Nov 2020 - Kent Online

COVID-19 in Canada: Dr. Tam 'cautiously optimistic' a vaccine could be available 'in the first quarter of 2021'; Ontario moves region to 'red zone'

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, spoke about the possible roll out of a viable COVID-19 vaccine, stating that she is “cautiously optimistic” that one will be available “in the first quarter of 2021.
7th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Exclusive: India-made COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February - government scientist

An Indian government-backed COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February - months earlier than expected - as last-stage trials begin this month and studies have so far showed it is safe and effective, a senior government scientist told Reuters. Bharat Biotech, a private company that is developing COVAXIN with the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had earlier hoped to launch it only in the second quarter of next year. “The vaccine has shown good efficacy,” senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant, who is also a member of its COVID-19 task-force, said at the research body’s New Delhi headquarters on Thursday. “It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available.”
7th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Common cold antibodies hold clues to COVID-19 behavior; lung scans speed COVID-19 diagnosis in stroke patients

Common cold antibodies yield clues to COVID-19 behavior - Among people who were never infected with the new coronavirus, a few adults - and many children - may have antibodies that can neutralize the virus, researchers reported on Friday in Science. Among 302 such adults, 16 (5.3%) had antibodies, likely generated during infections with "common cold" coronaviruses, that reacted to a specific region of the spike protein on the new virus called the S2 subunit. Among 48 children and adolescents, 21 (43.8%) had these antibodies. In test tube experiments, blood serum from both older and younger uninfected individuals with cross-reactive antibodies could neutralize the new coronavirus. That was not the case with serum from study participants who lacked these antibodies. "Together, these findings may help explain higher COVID-19 susceptibility in older people and provide insight into whether pre-established immunity to seasonal coronaviruses offers protection against SARS-CoV-2," the publishers of the journal said in a statement. The findings also suggest that targeting the S2 subunit on the coronavirus spike protein might be the basis for a drug or vaccine that works on multiple types of coronavirus.
7th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Covid-19: How a 'warm vaccine' could help India tackle coronavirus

India expects to receive and utilise 400-500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines and plans to inoculate some 250 million people between January and July next year. They will be mainly distributed through the country's 42-year-old immunisation programme,
7th Nov 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus vaccine taskforce chief Kate Bingham manages investments for drug firms

The head of the government’s vaccine taskforce has failed to publicly declare that she manages private investments in two companies involved in the race to develop coronavirus drugs. Kate Bingham is a managing partner at SV Health Investors, a venture capital firm. Two months after she was appointed by Boris Johnson, she said it was the “perfect time” to launch a fund that invested in a company researching coronavirus antibody cocktails, The Times can reveal.
7th Nov 2020 - The Times

Wales will be given 'appropriate' share of coronavirus vaccines by UK, says health minister

Wales will be given a "proportionate" share of a future coronavirus vaccine by the UK Government, the Welsh health minister has said. Vaughan Gething also said plans to deploy the treatment to those most in need were already in place if it became available before the end of this year. Mr Gething was responding to concerns expressed by Plaid Cymru's shadow health minister Rhun ap Iorwerth that the Welsh Government's policy was "to leave things largely to the UK Government when it comes to vaccination"
7th Nov 2020 - LeaderLive

Why India need not worry about access to Covid vaccine: Dr Gagandeep Kang explains

The world is eagerly waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine, which is being seen as the only way to tame the spread of the virus. Dr. Gagandeep Kang, a renowned medical scientist, spoke to Hindustan Times’ Aditi Prasad on the issue of vaccine development and explained why India does not need to worry about access to vaccines. She added that India will be on the radar if a bulk of vaccines need to be delivered to the world. Dr. Kang also spoke on what is the most unpredictable thing about the deadly coronavirus.
7th Nov 2020 - Hindustan Times

Biden presidency may mean smoother coronavirus vaccine rollout, fewer cases

President-elect Joe Biden will inherit the world's biggest coronavirus outbreak when he takes office in January. But public-health experts think the process of distributing a vaccine will likely be smoother under Biden's administration than it would have been under Trump's. Experts also expect Biden to institute lockdowns in coronavirus hotspots. These measures, combined with Biden's championing of masks and social distancing, could prompt a decline in cases.
7th Nov 2020 - Business Insider

Chinese COVID vaccine finds few volunteers in Pakistani trial

Pakistan, one of China's closest allies, has been struggling to find volunteers for its part of a multicountry Phase 3 clinical trial of a Chinese vaccine against the new coronavirus. "Hospitals ... have been facing difficulties in recruiting volunteers for the trials because of the flood of misinformation, mainly on social media," a senior official at the National Institute of Health (NIH), a government-run research body, told Nikkei Asia on condition of anonymity. In September, Pakistan approved the final phase of clinical trials for the single-dose vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV, codeveloped by CanSino Biologics, a Tianjin-based Chinese vaccine company, and the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, a Chinese military-backed research arm. In return, China will supply COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan as priority. For the Ad5-nCoV Phase 3 trial, slated to conclude in January 2022, nearly 40,000 volunteers are expected to participate from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Pakistan.
7th Nov 2020 - Nikkei Asian Review

Coronavirus vaccine for Spain expected to be widely available..

The latest news from AstraZeneca, the UK-based company whose coronavirus vaccine is currently in advanced stage of testing, is that the product could be widely distributed by the end of March 2021.
7th Nov 2020 - Murcia Today

Will a small, long-shot U.S. company end up producing the best coronavirus vaccine?

What a difference a year—and a pandemic—make. Today, Novavax is slated to receive up to $2 billion from the U.S. government and a nonprofit organization to develop and manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. The company’s stock closed at $80.71 per share on 30 October, it has hired more than 300 new employees, and this month it plans to launch a pivotal clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine in the United States and Mexico. Made by moth cells harnessed to crank out the virus’ spike protein—which the pathogen uses to invade human cells—Novavax’s vaccine outshone major competitors on key measures in monkey and early human tests.
7th Nov 2020 - Science Magazine

Vaughan Gething: No Wales delay for UK coronavirus vaccine

Health minister Vaughan Gething has downplayed concerns Wales could fall behind in a future coronavirus vaccination programme. The UK government is responsible for arranging vaccines for the whole UK, but it will be up to Wales to decide how a vaccine programme would be rolled out, he said. Plaid MS Rhun ap Iorwerth said there was “growing optimism” a Covid-19 vaccine would be available in the near future, but asked Mr Gething if Wales’ policy was to “leave things largely to the UK government when it comes to vaccination”.
7th Nov 2020 - South Wales Argus

A More Transparent And Trusted Covid Vaccine

I have long expressed concerns regarding the safety, efficacy, manufacturing quality, distribution, and administration of anti-Covid-19 vaccines. Many of these concerns have now been echoed by reporters at STAT, a publication that has become essential reading for all who follow diagnostic, vaccine, and drug development for Covid-19. The article highlights the loss of public trust in our public health institutions, with 62% of Americans worried the FDA will rush to approve vaccines because of political pressure, without adequate regard for safety and effectiveness. But in addition to highlighting the problem, the authors also point toward a solution: a Pew Research Center study which shows that open access to data and independent review inspires more trust in research findings—findings that in the case of a vaccine study need to be trusted for people to be willing to take the vaccine.
7th Nov 2020 - Forbes

Spain’s Prime Minister Claims Coronavirus Vaccine Will be Ready For May 2021

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez confirmed on Thursday in Valencia that the vaccination campaign in Spain against COVID-19 “could be ready” for May 2021. The date given coincides the end of the state of alarm approved by the Central Executive two weeks ago. “The new vaccines could be ready by that time, accompanying the change of season, and that will help us progressively recover that new normal,” said the Chief Executive, who has asked the rest of the political parties to agree on the General State Budgets before the end of the year. “If Spain agrees, Spain wins,” he stressed.
7th Nov 2020 - Euro Weekly News

Coronavirus: Oxford vaccine trial issues warning after participants share swabs with family and friends

A message to participants of the clinical trial, sent today from the Covid research team based at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospitals Trust in London and seen by The Independent, confirmed some positive infections identified by the trial had been tracked to people who were not participating in the study. Oxford University today confirmed the problem but said it was a small number of participants whose results could be easily identified and would not affect the final results. The Oxford University vaccine is one of the leading candidates for mass inoculation against coronavirus to help bring about an end to the pandemic and end the lockdown not just in the UK but around the world.
7th Nov 2020 - The Independent

Odisha fast tracks coronavirus vaccine manufacturing unit

As the race for the COVID-19 vaccine hots up, Odisha is all set to fast track the establishment of an advanced vaccine manufacturing unit with an investment of Rs 300 crore at Andharua on the outskirts of the Capital city. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) will be the anchor developer. The unit will produce 10 types of vaccines including that of COVID-19 and malaria.The progress of the project was reviewed at a high-level meeting through a video conference from the Lokseba Bhavan by Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy.
7th Nov 2020 - The New Indian Express

Coronavirus vaccine campaign will admit that jab may not be 100% safe

A campaign to encourage people to have a Covid-19 vaccination will acknowledge that the jab is not 100 per cent safe under an honesty-first approach designed to win over waverers. Barely half of Britons say that they will definitely be vaccinated against coronavirus, and plans being developed in government aim to acknowledge concerns to ensure the undecided are not swayed by antivax propaganda.
7th Nov 2020 - The Times

Coronavirus vaccine 'could be distributed by GPs on Christmas and Boxing Day'

GPs could distribute a Covid vaccine on Christmas Day and Boxing Day in a bid to protect people in the UK, it has been reported. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to announce plans next week for jabs to be supplied as early as next month. According to The Sun, family doctors could have capacity to offer the jab seven days a week between 8am and 8pm. It is believed major cities will also have a Covid-19 vaccination centre to help speed up the distribution of the jab. GPs could be supported by 3,000 mobile units, with teams visiting care homes and vulnerable people, the newspaper reported.
7th Nov 2020 - Mirror Online

If One Leading Coronavirus Vaccine Works, Thank This Tiny Firm in Rural Austria

A key ingredient in what could be the first U.S.-approved Covid-19 vaccine comes from a family-owned company with 90 employees in the Austrian countryside, underscoring the fragility of the potential treatment’s supply chain. Polymun Scientific Immunbiologische Forschung GmbH is one of a handful of makers of lipid nanoparticles, microscopic vessels used to deliver genetic material into the body.
6th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 vaccine market worth $10bn a year, analysts say

The future Covid-19 vaccine market could be worth more than $10bn a year, generating bumper revenues for pharmaceutical companies that have funded large parts of their research with government money. The calculations by analysts at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse assume that people will need to take a Covid-19 vaccine every year, like a flu jab, and are based on projected costs for the shot, currently hovering at about $20 a dose. “My base case assumption right now is that you will need annual vaccinations,” said Matthew Harrison, an analyst at Morgan Stanley. “[Covid-19] is not going to go away.” Even taking a “conservative approach” in which only those people who get a flu vaccine also take one for Covid-19, the market would be worth $10bn across developed countries, he said.
5th Nov 2020 - The Financial Times

Australia orders more COVID-19 vaccines for total of 135 million doses

The Australian government has agreed to purchase two more COVID-19 vaccines in development, beefing up the country's prospective arsenal against the pandemic to 135 million doses as it aims to complete a mass inoculation programme within months. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday the government will buy 40 million vaccine doses from Novavax, and 10 million from Pfizer and BioNTech. That adds to the 85 million doses Australia has already committed to buy from AstraZeneca and CSL Ltd should trials prove successful, taking the country's total anticipated outlay to A$3.2 billion ($2.3 billion). "We aren't putting all our eggs in one basket," Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
5th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Regeneron looks to target most in-need patients for Covid drug

Regeneron said on Thursday it was working to address questions over how to target the most in-need patients for its antibody treatment for Covid-19, which US president Donald Trump said was a “cure” for the disease. The treatment could be approved for emergency use in the “relatively near future”, Leonard Schleifer, Regeneron’s chief executive, told analysts in a discussion of its latest earnings. The New York-based biotech said it will have 80,000 doses available by the end of the month, and 300,000 by the end of January. But the number of Covid-19 patients who could benefit from the drug, if approved, is soaring, with 100,000 cases reported in the US in a single day on Wednesday for the first time.
5th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Go To Health Workers, Say CDC Advisers

Health care workers will almost certainly get the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. when one is approved, according to Dr. José Romero, head of the committee that develops evidence-based immunization guidelines for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's a decision based on the science of what will quell the pandemic fastest. "It's not just the doctors and nurses that are interacting with patients, but also the support personnel that help," Romero said in an interview Thursday with NPR. "It could include those persons that are delivering food, or maintenance people that could come in contact with them," so they can protect themselves and patients from the virus, and stay healthy to keep the U.S. health care system running. Romero chairs the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, a longstanding CDC advisory group that includes 15 voting members, plus other vaccination experts who weigh in.
5th Nov 2020 - NPR

Coronavirus: 'Small chance' COVID jab will be ready before Christmas, Oxford vaccine boss says

The director of the Oxford vaccine trial has said there is a "small chance" a jab will be ready before Christmas. Vaccine trial chief investigator Andrew Pollard told the Science and Technology Committee he is "optimistic" the University of Oxford trial could present late-stage results, possibly revealing whether it works, before the end of the year. Asked if the vaccine would be ready by Christmas, he said: "There is a small chance of that being possible but I just don't know.
4th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus vaccine no silver bullet, warns QUB virologist

As the Executive prepares to debate the effectiveness of Northern Ireland's Covid restrictions on Thursday, a leading virologist has warned that even a vaccine will not be the instant "silver bullet" that many were hoping for and that changes to our lives will be in place for some time. Others suggested that while lockdown was bringing the R-number down, only changes to behaviour would keep it down. It came as a further 10 deaths from Covid-19 were reported by the Department of Health on Wednesday, bringing the total to 740.
4th Nov 2020 - Belfast Telegraph


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 6th Nov 2020

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Regeneron hopes US will greenlight COVID-19 antibody drug soon

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said United States health regulators were doing a careful analysis of its experimental antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19 and that it was hopeful the drug could be authorised for emergency use in the country soon. The treatment, which was given to US President Donald Trump during his COVID-19 infection, has been under review by the US Food and Drug Administration since last month. “We hope that it will reach a successful conclusion. But we don’t know the timeline,” Regeneron Chief Executive Officer Leonard Schleifer said during a conference call to discuss the company’s earnings. The company has said that clinical trial data shows the drug reduced medical visits in patients with mild to moderate cases. The antibody treatment would be the first drug designed specifically to fight COVID-19 and could become a tool in the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than one million people globally. Based on clinical trials, Regeneron expects emergency use authorisation could be granted for outpatients, a group that it believes would benefit the most from the drug. About 80,000 doses of the treatment could be ready by the end of this month, and 300,000 doses by the end of January, Regeneron said.
6th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

AstraZeneca Expects Covid-19 Vaccine Trial Results This Year

The drugmaker said late-stage trials for the Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with the University of Oxford are on track to produce results “later this year,” with a potential rollout soon after, subject to regulatory approval.
5th Nov 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 antibodies drop by HALF just three months after infection

Study looked at antibody levels in 3,217 healthcare workers who had Covid Reveals maximum antibody levels occur 24 days after initial infection. 85 days later the concentration of antibodies falls to half this number. Antibodies then drop below detestable levels 52 days after this point
5th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: Human rights watchdog investigating impact of COVID-19 on BAME healthcare workers

Britain's human rights watchdog is investigating the impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) healthcare workers. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it will consider the "structural issues which have left people from a range of ethnic minorities at greater risk" from coronavirus across England, Scotland and Wales. It comes after a study commissioned by London mayor Sadiq Khan last month found that black people are at almost twice the risk of dying from COVID-19 as their white counterparts.
5th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Lloyds asks its 1400 branches to help find COVID-19 trial volunteers

Lloydspharmacy is encouraging its teams to help find suitable patients for an Oxford University COVID-19 clinical trial, C+D has learned. Lloydspharmacy teams will be asked to display a poster of the PRINCIPLE COVID-19 trial – run by the University of Oxford – in their pharmacies, and “engage with customers and patients where they can about the project”, a spokesperson told C+D last week (October 29). The multiple will use its network of more than 1,400 pharmacies to raise awareness of the trial – which is evaluating whether the use of two common antibiotics, azithromycin and doxycycline, can help people with COVID-19 symptoms recover at home.
5th Nov 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

Covid-19 vaccine market worth $10bn a year, analysts say

The future Covid-19 vaccine market could be worth more than $10bn a year, generating bumper revenues for pharmaceutical companies that have funded large parts of their research with government money. The calculations by analysts at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse assume that people will need to take a Covid-19 vaccine every year, like a flu jab, and are based on projected costs for the shot, currently hovering at about $20 a dose. “My base case assumption right now is that you will need annual vaccinations,” said Matthew Harrison, an analyst at Morgan Stanley. “[Covid-19] is not going to go away.” Even taking a “conservative approach” in which only those people who get a flu vaccine also take one for Covid-19, the market would be worth $10bn across developed countries, he said.
5th Nov 2020 - Financial Times

Danish Covid-19 mink variant could spark new pandemic, scientists warn

A Danish vaccine specialist has warned that a new wave of coronavirus could be started by the Covid-19 mink variant. “The worst-case scenario is that we would start off a new pandemic in Denmark. There’s a risk that this mutated virus is so different from the others that we’d have to put new things in a vaccine and therefore [the mutation] would slam us all in the whole world back to the start,” said Prof Kåre Mølbak, vaccine expert and director of infectious diseases at Denmark’s State Serum Institute (SSI). He added, however, that the world was in a better place than when the Covid-19 outbreak began.“We know the virus, have measures in place including testing and infection control, and the outbreak will be contained, to the best of our knowledge.”
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

South Korea Approves Single Test to Detect Both COVID-19 and Seasonal Flu

With the onset of winter, and experts round the globe warning of an imminent second wave, South Korean medical authorities decided to approve the use of a single test to detect both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. The latter, a disease recurring in colder months each year, would also be diagnosed through the same samples that will be collected for testing coronavirus, officials in the South East Asian nation said.
5th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Significant psychological toll from COVID-19 lockdown

Research published today has confirmed the nationwide Alert Level 4 COVID-19 lockdown had a significant toll on New Zealanders' well-being, especially for younger people—but the results were not all negative. Researchers from the University of Otago conducted a demographically representative survey of adult New Zealanders between 15 and 18 April, corresponding to days 19 to 22 of the 33-day lockdown.
5th Nov 2020 - Medical Xpress

Nearly a third of New Zealanders felt badly distressed in Covid lockdown

The wellbeing of New Zealanders plummeted during the country’s nationwide lockdown, research has found, with nearly a third experiencing “moderate to severe psychological distress” – especially young people. On 15 March Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, ordered the total closure of the country’s borders and on 26 March the entire population of five million entered a strict lockdown. From an infection point of the view the lockdown worked, but the social toll is continuing to be understood, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, and domestic abuse, as well as widespread sleeping problems.
5th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Uzbekistan to test three COVID-19 vaccines, plans no lockdown

Uzbekistan has no plans to impose another lockdown despite the growth in COVID-19 cases globally, and intends to take part in the final trials of Chinese and Russian vaccines, a senior health official said. Tashkent is in talks with China’s Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical, a unit of Chongqing Zhifei, and Sinopharm about stage III trials, as well as the developers of Russia Sputnik V vaccine, deputy health minister Shakhrukh Sharakhmetov said. The country of 34 million has imposed two nationwide lockdowns this year to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but hopes that extensive preparations for a potential second wave will allow it to avoid imposing severe restrictions again.
5th Nov 2020 - Reuters India

Clots, Strokes And Rashes. Is COVID-19 A Disease Of The Blood Vessels?

Whether it's strange rashes on the toes or blood clots in the brain, the widespread ravages of COVID-19 have increasingly led researchers to focus on how the novel coronavirus sabotages the body's blood vessels. As scientists have come to know the disease better, they have homed in on the vascular system — the body's network of arteries, veins and capillaries, stretching more than 60,000 miles — to understand this wide-ranging disease and to find treatments that can stymie its most pernicious effects. Some of the earliest insights into how COVID-19 can act like a vascular disease came from studying the aftermath of the most serious infections. Those reveal that the virus warps a critical piece of our vascular infrastructure: the single layer of cells lining the inside of every blood vessel, known as the endothelial cells or simply the endothelium. Dr. William Li, a vascular biologist, compares this lining to a freshly resurfaced ice skating rink before a hockey game on which the players and pucks glide smoothly along.
5th Nov 2020 - NPR

AstraZeneca chief says COVID vaccine on track for year end

AstraZeneca Plc’s coronavirus shot could be ready for large-scale vaccinations as early as this year, Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot said, dismissing reports of delays and production snags. The U.K. drugmaker is poised to unveil vaccine test results by year-end even after trials were slightly delayed over the summer as infection rates slowed in the northern hemisphere. A recent resurgence has allowed scientists to gather the clinical data they need, according to Soriot. Astra and the University of Oxford are keeping the vaccine in a frozen bulk state to preserve its shelf life while they await final test results. “At the end of the day, we don’t yet know if the vaccine works,” Soriot said in a Bloomberg Television interview, adding that many questions remain, such as whether it will show results for everyone and for how long. “We would hope that large-scale vaccinations would be possible starting in January next year — possibly even December.”
5th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

India-made COVID-19 vaccine likely by February: Gov’t scientist

An Indian government-backed COVID-19 vaccine could be launched as early as February – months earlier than expected – as last-stage trials begin this month and studies have so far shown it is safe and effective, a senior government scientist has told the Reuters news agency. Bharat Biotech, a private company that is developing COVAXIN alongside the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), had earlier hoped to launch it only in the second quarter of next year. “The vaccine has shown good efficacy,” senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant, who is also a member of its COVID-19 task force, said at the research body’s New Delhi headquarters on Thursday. “It is expected that by the beginning of next year, February or March, something would be available.” Bharat Biotech could not immediately be reached for comment, Reuters said.
5th Nov 2020 - AlJazeera


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 5th Nov 2020

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Scientists Scanning Household Pets for COVID-19

As COVID-19 cases surge in the U.S., one Texas veterinarian has been quietly tracking the spread of the disease — not in people, but in their pets. Since June, Dr. Sarah Hamer and her team at Texas A&M University have tested hundreds of animals from area households where humans contracted COVID-19. They’ve swabbed dogs and cats, sure, but also pet hamsters and guinea pigs, looking for signs of infection. “We’re open to all of it,” said Hamer, a professor of epidemiology, who has found at least 19 cases of infection.
4th Nov 2020 - WebMD

Only a 'small chance' of a Covid-19 vaccine by Xmas: Oxford scientist says

Professor Andrew Pollard poured cold water on hopes of vaccine by Christmas Kate Bingham, the UK's vaccine tsar, also claimed next year was 'more realistic' Earlier today NHS boss said the health service was ready to roll out jab already
4th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

People living with high air pollution are 11% MORE likely to die after catching Covid-19

American researchers compared Covid-19 death rates with PM2.5 pollution Small increase in PM2.5 levels is related to significant increase in mortality rate A small increase in the level of the pollutant caused a 115 spike in death rate
4th Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Robin Shattock says 'we could be living with COVID-19 for years to come' | Imperial News

Imperial’s COVID-19 vaccine lead, Professor Robin Shattock, has told MPs we could be living with the virus for years to come. Professor Shattock, speaking to the Science and Technology Committee, said that a vaccine would make life much better and reduce fatalities but we are still likely to be living with the virus for the next few years. Professor Shattock, from the Department of Infectious Disease, also updated MPs on the progress of Imperial's vaccine. Professor Shattock said: "Right now we don’t know which if any of these vaccines will work, and what success will like, whether that’s success at preventing disease or preventing transmission. "One of the advantages of the technology we are developing is it can be used for repeated boosting immunisations, either to boost existing vaccines or itself.
4th Nov 2020 - Imperial College London

Tiny air pollution rise linked to 11% more Covid-19 deaths – study

A small rise in people’s long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with an 11% increase in deaths from Covid-19, research has found. Another recent study suggests that 15% of all Covid-19 deaths around the world are attributable to dirty air. The available data only allows correlations to be established and further work is needed to confirm the connections, but the researchers said the evidence was now strong enough that levels of dirty air must be considered a key factor in handling coronavirus outbreaks. The new analysis is based on research reported by the Guardian in April, which has now been reviewed by independent scientists and published in a prominent journal. The consideration of additional data and more factors that may also influence Covid-19 death rates refined the rise in deaths from 15% down to 11%. Most scientists think it is very likely that air pollution increases the number and severity of Covid-19 cases. Breathing dirty air over years is already known to cause heart and lung disease, and these illnesses make coronavirus infections worse. Short-term exposure is also known to increase the risk of acute lung infections.
4th Nov 2020 - The Guardian

India's Covid-19 crisis likely under control by early 2021, say experts

India has passed the peak number of Covid-19 infections and, if current trends continue, should see a dramatic decrease in cases by February 2021, according to a panel of experts. The coronavirus epidemic in India may already have peaked and, if the use of masks and physical distancing measures continue to be effective at the current level, the epidemic will most likely have run its course by February next year, a government-appointed committee of scientists has said. These are the findings of a study carried out by a seven-member expert panel on the future course of the pandemic, research commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology. “Without a lockdown, the number of deaths in India would have overwhelmed the system within a very short timeframe, and would have eventually passed 2.6 million,” said M. Vidyasagar of the Indian Institute of Technology, chairman of the committee.
4th Nov 2020 - YAHOO!

Scientists develop “ultrapotent” COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Scientists have developed vaccine candidate for COVID that produces “extremely high levels” of protective antibodies in animal models, an advance that may lead to a novel therapeutic to curb pandemic
4th Nov 2020 - National Herald

COVID-19 tracker: Fosun pivots to BioNTech's 2nd shot for Chinese nod; AstraZeneca on track for 2020 data reveal

AstraZeneca fell short of its target to supply the U.K. with 30 million vaccine doses by September, the country's vaccine taskforce chief, Kate Bingham, said. Meanwhile, Russia's Sputnik V vaccine has reportedly hit manufacturing and quality control challenges. Singapore's Breathonix said its COVID-19 breathalyzer achieved at least 90% accuracy in an ongoing pilot study. Becton Dickinson scored a deal to provide millions of rapid antigen tests to the Netherlands. And the FDA on Tuesday warned that antigen tests could yield false positives if users fail to follow instructions closely. The worldwide case count passed 47.6 million Wednesday afternoon, with more than 1.2 million reported deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 dashboard.
4th Nov 2020 - FiercePharma

Lockdown will be a letdown if we do not overhaul the test and trace system – it is time for a local approach

The Test and Trace system has repeatedly failed to deliver and a further lockdown will be a letdown unless that changes. Figures for the week ending 14 October show only 15 per cent of people getting results within 24 hours, down by half from the previous week; only 59.6 per cent close contacts of Covid-positive people identified; and of them, only 57.6 per cent reached. This contrasts with 94.8 per cent contacts reached of cases handled by local authority public health teams.
4th Nov 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

Denmark plans to cull its mink population after coronavirus mutation spreads to humans

Denmark will cull its mink population of up to 17 million after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans, the prime minister said on Wednesday. Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink which showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of future vaccines, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. “We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well,” Frederiksen told a news conference.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: 'Small chance' COVID jab will be ready before Christmas, Oxford vaccine boss says

The director of the Oxford vaccine trial has said there is a "small chance" a jab will be ready before Christmas. Vaccine trial chief investigator Andrew Pollard told the Science and Technology Committee he is "optimistic" the University of Oxford trial could present late-stage results, possibly revealing whether it works, before the end of the year. Asked if the vaccine would be ready by Christmas, he said: "There is a small chance of that being possible but I just don't know. "Our trials are only one of many that are going on around the world, a number of which may well report before the end of the year."
4th Nov 2020 - Sky News

Delivery timetable of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has slipped, UK official says

The timetable for delivery of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate has slipped and Britain will receive just 4 million doses of the shot this year, the head of the UK’s vaccine procurement programme said on Wednesday. In May, Britain agreed a deal for 100 million doses of the vaccine, developed by Oxford University and licensed to AstraZeneca, with 30 million doses estimated for delivery by September 2020. Oxford’s trial chief said earlier he was optimistic that late-stage trial results of its efficacy could be presented before the end of the year, and that doses of the shot are already being made.
4th Nov 2020 - Reuters


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 4th Nov 2020

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Covid-19: How do you make a vaccine? – podcast

With any future Covid-19 vaccine requiring its manufacturing process to be signed off as part of its regulatory approval for use on the general population, Madeleine Finlay talks to Dr Stephen Morris from the Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub about how vaccines are made at the volume and speed required for a mass vaccination programme
3rd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

German Study Finds Covid-19 Risk Is Low at Indoor Concerts With Safety Precautions

A new study conducted in Germany has found that there’s potentially a low risk of spreading the coronavirus at indoor concerts, so long as significant safety precautions are taken, The New York Times reports. Back in August, a group of researchers at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg conducted a study centered around a show by the German pop singer Tim Bendzko at an arena in Leipzig. About 1,400 people were in attendance — most of them volunteers — and the study ultimately found that the risk of spreading Covid-19 at such an event was “low to very low” if there’s good ventilation, strict hygiene rules, and a limited audience. The researchers who conducted the study boosted their findings, with Dr. Michael Gekle saying, “There is no argument for not having such a concert. The risk of getting infected is very low.” However, before the ailing live music industry gets too excited, the study has not been peer-reviewed, and one critic suggested to the Times that while the findings may be “useful,” it may not be possible to replicate the controls deployed in the study at an actual concert.
3rd Nov 2020 - Rolling Stone

Covid-19: Liverpool to pilot city-wide coronavirus testing

People in Liverpool will be offered regular Covid-19 tests under the first trial of whole city testing in England. Everyone living or working in the city will be offered tests, whether or not they have symptoms, with follow-up tests every two weeks or so. Some will get new tests giving results within an hour which, if successful, could be rolled out to "millions" by Christmas, the government says. Liverpool has one of the highest rates of coronavirus deaths in England. The latest figures show the city recorded 352 cases per 100,000 in the week up to 30 October. The average area in England had 153. On Monday, the UK recorded 18,950 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 136 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
3rd Nov 2020 - BBC

Testing a whole city for Covid-19 – but how will it work?

The Government has announced plans for city-wide testing of the people of Liverpool. But what does it mean and how will it work? – What has the Government announced? Coronavirus tests are to be offered to everyone across Liverpool in a pilot of mass testing in England.
3rd Nov 2020 - Helensburgh Advertiser

Ending England’s lockdown in December is realistic, says medical chief

It is realistic that England’s forthcoming national lockdown can end on Dec. 2, chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Tuesday, as it is designed reduce COVID-19 transmission rates enough to move into less stringent measures. Whitty said that any decision on whether to extend the lockdown, due to come into force on Thursday, would be for government, but he had faith that the public would adhere to the new restrictions.
3rd Nov 2020 - Metro US

‘Critical moment’ as Europe, N Africa see COVID-19 surge: WHO

Governments face another “critical moment for action” as coronavirus cases surge in parts of Europe and North Africa, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in his latest briefing on the pandemic. Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom are among countries in Europe turning, once again, to lockdowns to try and get the disease under control, while the health crisis in the United States is also deepening.
3rd Nov 2020 - AlJazeera

Scientists hail Israel's 'successful' second lockdown

Israel is emerging from a second lockdown that has surprised scientists with its effectiveness in reducing infection rates. As FRANCE 24 correspondent Irris Makler reports, the country re-entered confinement in September when its infection rate was the highest in the world. The rate has since decreased from 9000 per day, to less than 900. Even so, one-third of Israelis still believe a third lockdown is inevitable.
3rd Nov 2020 - FRANCE 24

Could we push coronavirus cases in Australia back down to zero — and stay there?

It's taken almost five months, millions of people going into lockdown, and a significant amount of sacrifice. But on Sunday, for the first time since June, Australia achieved a day with no locally acquired cases of COVID-19. It's an impressive and — as Victorians will tell you — hard-won achievement. But it was also short-lived: Yesterday New South Wales recorded one new COVID-19 case, and multiple alerts were issued for Western Sydney. Still, with new case numbers at their lowest in months, is it possible for Australia to get back down to zero — and stay there? And even put coronavirus elimination within our sights?
3rd Nov 2020 - ABC News

Covid-19: The country's response to community cases hasn't relaxed, the system is just 'more sophisticated'

The official response to new Covid-19 community cases might appear more relaxed than previous outbreaks. But the lack of intensity is simply a reflection of the strides made to improve the public health system, one expert says. Two new community cases – both workers stationed at the Sudima Hotel isolation facility in Christchurch – have not prompted localised lockdowns, as happened in Auckland after the August cluster emerged. “This is another example of the system working well to protect our border,” Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said at Tuesday’s Covid-19 update.
3rd Nov 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Coronavirus: Another lockdown possible if complacency, border 'failures' continue - Sir David Skegg

New Zealand could face another lockdown if COVID-19 complacency and border "failures" continue, a top health professor says. Sir David Skegg, an Otago University Emeritus Professor of epidemiology and public health, believes six border incursions in three months is "serious". He's also called for the immediate release of the Government's testing report - information submitted to the Health Minister weeks ago. It follows the country's latest community case - a health worker at managed isolation facility Sudima Christchurch Airport whose positive case was confirmed on Monday.
3rd Nov 2020 - Newshub

Lockdown will be a letdown if we do not overhaul the test and trace system – it is time for a local approach

The Test and Trace system has repeatedly failed to deliver and a further lockdown will be a letdown unless that changes. Figures for the week ending 14 October show only 15 per cent of people getting results within 24 hours, down by half from the previous week; only 59.6 per cent close contacts of Covid-positive people identified; and of them, only 57.6 per cent reached. This contrasts with 94.8 per cent contacts reached of cases handled by local authority public health teams.
3rd Nov 2020 - The Independent

COVID-19 'nanoparticle' vaccine could trigger strong immune response

Scientists say they have developed an experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate that is far more potent than others currently being investigated. In trials conducted in mice, the team from the University of Washington School of Medicine said its vaccine triggered a 10-times stronger immune response to the infection than seen in COVID-19 survivors. What's more, it also provoked a strong memory cell response, in which the body remembers the invading virus to produce antibodies more quickly if infected. The team says its vaccine does not require freezer storage like those being made by other companies, which makes it easier to produce and ship across the globe.
2nd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Europe is locking down a second time. But what is its long-term plan?

Shortly before 11 p.m. yesterday, a waitress passed out paper cups to the customers crowded around the tables outside Luzia, a bar in the lively Kreuzberg district here. “I’m sorry, but you all have to leave,” she said. “God, in 2 minutes it’s going to be lockdown,” a woman at one table said, as guests poured the remainder of their cocktails into the cups. The fun was over: For the second time this year, Luzia had to close on the German government’s orders. All restaurants, bars, gyms, and theaters in Europe’s largest economy will remain shut until at least the end of the month in a new bid to halt the spread of COVID-19. Hotels are no longer allowed to host tourists. Residents have been asked to meet people from only one other household. Florent, the manager at Luzia, took some hope from the fact that Germany was locking down while cases were still lower than in neighboring countries. “Hopefully we’ll reopen in a month,” he said.
2nd Nov 2020 - Science Magazine

Scientists warn of new coronavirus variant spreading across Europe

A coronavirus variant that originated in Spanish farm workers has spread rapidly through much of Europe since the summer, and now accounts for the majority of new Covid-19 cases in several countries — and more than 80 per cent in the UK. An international team of scientists that has been tracking the virus through its genetic mutations has described the extraordinary spread of the variant, called 20A.EU1, in a research paper to be published on Thursday. Their work suggests that people returning from holiday in Spain played a key role in transmitting the virus across Europe, raising questions about whether the second wave that is sweeping the continent could have been reduced by improved screening at airports and other transport hubs
29th Oct 2020 - Financial Times


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 3rd Nov 2020

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Kids Are Participating in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials. Here's What Their Parents Think

Katelyn Evans, 16, has never met Randy Kerr—and there’s no reason she should have. It was 66 years ago that Kerr, then 6, became briefly famous, receiving the first injection of Jonas Salk’s experimental polio vaccine during the massive field trial of hundreds of thousands of children in the spring of 1954. History notes that the vaccine worked, and the children who stepped forward to receive either the actual shot or a placebo were heroically dubbed the Polio Pioneers.
2nd Nov 2020 - Time on MSN.com

Covid immunity lasts as least six months after infection, study says

A group of more than 2,000 people working for PHE volunteered for the study 100 people tested positive, 56 had symptoms, and none were hospitalised. All infected participants had a detectable T cell response six months later. Findings may mean people who have had Covid-19 are less likely to be reinfected
2nd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Regeneron's COVID-19 antibody cocktail therapy hits safety problem -

Regeneron’s coronavirus antibody cocktail therapy against COVID-19, famously used to treat president Donald Trump, has hit a safety issue after independent safety experts recommended it should not be given to high-risk patients in a late-stage clinical trial. It’s the latest blow for antibody therapies against COVID-19 after Eli Lilly last week announced it won’t resume a trial in hospitalised patients, after National Institutes of Health researchers concluded it wouldn’t help. Regeneron said an Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC) from the REGN-COV2 trial said that based on an unspecified safety signal and an “unfavourable risk benefit profile” the committee recommends a modification to the trial protocol. The IDMC recommends further enrolment of patients requiring high-flow oxygen or mechanical ventilation be placed on hold pending collection and analysis of further data from those already on the trial.
2nd Nov 2020 - pharmaphorum

The world could learn a lot from how Africa is handling Covid-19

To date, the continent has recorded 1.7 million infections. The number, as is the case across the world, is likely much higher. One study conducted by researchers at the University of Cape Town collected 2,700 samples during the city’s pandemic peak in late July and early August. A startling 40 per cent of the people tested had Covid-19 antibodies.
2nd Nov 2020 - Wired.co.uk

NHS Covid-19 App error left thousands unaware they need to isolate

A reported error with the NHS Covid-19 App has left potentially thousands of people unaware they may have been exposed to coronavirus. The contact-tracing app was set at the wrong sensitivity level, meaning many users were not sent self-isolation alerts after they came into contact with infected people. The error meant users whose “risk score” should have triggered an alert were not notified, The Sunday Times first reported. The app, launched a month ago on 24 September, has been downloaded more than 19 million times. It was updated last week to improve accuracy and notifications which was “expected to increase the number of people asked to self-isolate by the app”. Since its launch “shockingly low” numbers of people had been sent warnings about potential exposure to the virus, a government official told The Sunday Times.
2nd Nov 2020 - Digital Health

Superdrug: COVID-19 antibody test kit relaunched as MHRA compliant

Superdrug has re-launched its at-home COVID-19 antibody testing service – which was withdrawn earlier this year – saying it is “confident” it complies with MHRA guidance. Patients can order the home sampling test kit via the Superdrug online doctor service at a cost of £69, the multiple said last week. The kit – which includes instructions on how to take a finger-prick blood sample at home – is posted to patients, with the capillary blood sample then sent to Superdrug’s United Kingdom Accreditation Service-accredited partner laboratory for analysis.
2nd Nov 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

In Hunt for Coronavirus Source, W.H.O. Let China Take Charge

As it praised Beijing, the World Health Organization concealed concessions to China and may have sacrificed the best chance to unravel the virus’s origins. Now it’s a favorite Trump attack line.
2nd Nov 2020 - The New York Times

Aberdeen professor says national lockdown for Scotland 'wouldn't be a good idea'

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University also suggested using hotels to set up dedicated facilities where those self-isolating could be monitored. It follows as deputy first minister, John Swinney said it would be “foolish” to rule out following England into a full national lockdown. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced England would be entering a month-long national lockdown from Thursday.
2nd Nov 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

T-cell Covid immunity 'present in adults six months after first infection'

Cellular (T-cell) immunity against the virus that causes Covid-19 is likely to be present within most adults six months after primary infection, with levels considerably higher in patients with symptoms, a study suggests. The data offers another piece of the puzzle that could be key to understanding whether previous Sars-CoV-2 infections – the virus behind Covid-19 – can prevent reinfection, and if so, for how long. The study, led by the UK coronavirus immunology consortium, evaluated 100 non-hospitalised healthcare workers in March and April after antibody responses were detected in them. It is yet to be peer-reviewed. It is the first study to offer data on T-cell levels six months after infection in people with mild or asymptomatic disease that is likely to represent the majority of infections, the authors say.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus D614G mutation found in 99.9% of cases at US hospital

Researchers looked at the coronavirus strain of more than 5,000 Houston cases Found that 99.9 per cent of the strains discovered were the D614G variant. This appeared in Europe in February and rapidly became dominant globally. Other studies have found this strain is more infectious than the original variant
2nd Nov 2020 - Daily Mail

Liverpool to pioneer UK's first attempt at mass Covid testing

Up to half a million people in Liverpool are set to be tested for Covid-19 under the UK government’s first attempt to embark on city-wide mass testing and track down every case of the virus. The Guardian also understands that the self-isolation period for those who test positive for coronavirus, and their contacts, could be cut from the current 14-day period to seven days as early as this week. It comes after ministers, who announced a new England-wide lockdown from Thursday amid soaring cases, face pressure to improve the beleaguered £12bn test-and-test trace system to control outbreaks and limit the lockdown to four weeks. Under the Liverpool mass testing programme, which begins on Friday and will cover everyone living and working in the city, a variety of test types and the logistical help of the army will be deployed in a pilot to see whether mass population screening is feasible across other regions of England, as proposed in Operation Moonshot.
2nd Nov 2020 - The Guardian

Covid: 'We are hanging by a thread' - hospital doctor

If you want to know why England is going into lockdown, Liverpool's intensive care units may help give you the answer. They are struggling to cope. "We are hanging by a thread," says Dr Oliver Zuzan, divisional medical director at the Royal Liverpool Hospital. He is speaking to me in a six-bed intensive care unit, reserved for non-Covid patients. At least here there's no requirement for the staff to spend their shifts in full PPE, with tight-fitting masks that dig into their faces. Here it's just an apron, gloves and surgical mask. The intensive care unit has had to be split into Covid and non-Covid areas. In the side rooms, patients wait for a diagnosis that will determine whether they are cared for in a red zone (Covid) or green zone (non-Covid). "People are right to say that these are pressures that occur every winter, but this time it's just a lot worse. This is winter plus, plus, plus," says Dr Zuzan.
2nd Nov 2020 - BBC

T-cell study adds to debate over duration of COVID-19 immunity

A small but key UK study has found that “cellular immunity” to the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus is present after six months in people who had mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 - suggesting they might have some level of protection for at least that time. Scientists presenting the findings, from 100 non-hospitalised COVID-19 patients in Britain, said they were “reassuring” but did not mean people cannot in rare cases be infected twice with the disease. “While our findings cause us to be cautiously optimistic about the strength and length of immunity generated after SARS-CoV-2 infection, this is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Paul Moss, a professor of haematology at Britain’s Birmingham University who co-led the study.
2nd Nov 2020 - Reuters


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 2nd Nov 2020

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Household spread of Covid-19 is common and quick, a new CDC study finds

The spread of Covid-19 among members in a household after one person is infected is "common" and occurs quickly after illness onset, according to a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The person exposed or suspected of having Covid-19 should be isolated before getting tested and before test results come back to protect others in the home, said the study, published Friday in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
2nd Nov 2020 - CNN

It may be time to reset expectations on when we'll get a Covid-19 vaccine

The ambitious drive to produce Covid-19 vaccine at warp speed seems to be running up against reality. We all probably need to reset our expectations about how quickly we’re going to be able to be vaccinated. Pauses in clinical trials to investigate potential safety issues, a slower-than-expected rate of infections among participants in at least one of the trials, and signals that an expert panel advising the Food and Drug Administration may not be comfortable recommending use of vaccines on very limited safety and efficacy data appear to be adding up to a slippage in the estimates of when vaccine will be ready to be deployed. Asked Wednesday about when he expects the FDA will greenlight use of the first vaccines, Anthony Fauci moved the administration’s stated goalpost.
31st Oct 2020 - STAT News

Johnson & Johnson to test coronavirus vaccine in children

“We plan to go into children as soon as we possibly can, but very carefully in terms of safety,” Jerald Sadoff, senior advisor with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine division, said according to Reuters. Sadoff said the company also has plans to test the vaccine in children younger than 12 if it’s shown to be safe among those 12 to 18. The vaccine is one of four currently in late-stage clinical trials.
31st Oct 2020 - The Hill

Sewage testing shows a country flush with coronavirus cases

When Rosa Inchausti and her colleagues started testing wastewater in Tempe, Arizona, it was 2018 and they were not looking for coronavirus. They were tracking the opioid epidemic. But because they were set up to sample the city sector by sector, they were able to switch gears and begin sampling sewage for evidence of coronavirus. "We were ready for this," Inchausti told CNN. Now the city is regularly sampling sewers to keep an eye on the pandemic. And things are not looking good in parts of Tempe.
31st Oct 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus Vaccine Project's Contract With Moncef Slaoui : Shots

The Department of Health and Human Services has released the contract of pharmaceutical industry veteran Moncef Slaoui, a key adviser to Operation Warp Speed, after questions from the press, members of Congress and advocacy groups. Operation Warp Speed is the Trump administration's multibillion-dollar push to develop and manufacture hundreds of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine. Slaoui has been instrumental in guiding the effort, but the terms of his employment raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
30th Oct 2020 - NPR

UK's MHRA begins rolling review of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has begun a rolling review of Moderna’s mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, will be reviewed on a rolling basis, meaning that the MHRA will begin an independent assessment of the vaccine using information submitted by Moderna. The MHRA will then accept and consider new evidence when it becomes available until the application is sufficient to warrant authorisation of the shot.
30th Oct 2020 - PMLive.com

EU will wait for late-stage data before approving COVID vaccine - Spahn

The European Union will wait for late-stage efficacy and safety data before approving a coronavirus vaccine to ensure there is broad acceptance of any shot, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday. “Most important for acceptance is that we make clear from the beginning that we will wait for clinical trials in Phase III before approval,” Spahn said following a videoconference of EU health ministers.
30th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Advisers To CDC Discuss Potential Coronavirus Vaccines

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met virtually Friday to review what's known about potential coronavirus vaccines. The main issue is who should get a vaccine first.
30th Oct 2020 - NPR

Regeneron's antibody cocktail hit by safety concerns; Novo's Rybelsus emerging from pandemic slump

Regeneron suspended testing its antibody cocktail in patients on high-flow oxygen or ventilation after an independent data monitoring committee flagged safety concerns. Two other cohorts in the trial—which focuses on hospitalized patients—are continuing as planned, and a separate trial in outpatients will also continue. The CDC asked states to come up with vaccine distribution plans by Tuesday as WHO announced it's not convinced the front-runner shots actually work in the elderly. Plus, smartwatches and Fitbits could help spot COVID-19 cases and support public health efforts to slow the disease's spread, a new study found.
30th Oct 2020 - FiercePharma

Study launched to establish the impact of Covid-19 on health of Wales' care workers

A study has been launched to establish the risk of Covid-19 to domiciliary care workers across Wales. The pandemic is thought to have had a significant impact on the health of 20,000 workers offering care to the elderly or people with life-limiting conditions in their homes. The study, led by Cardiff University, will assess the health of public and private care workers, including Covid-19 infection itself, mental health and other illnesses. Earlier this year, carers told ITV News they were under extreme pressure with extra responsibilities due to a lack of district nurses and GPs available to see patients in the community. Health professionals have also issued stark warnings about the potential crisis if carers' mental health needs aren't addressed.
30th Oct 2020 - ITV News

Next crop of COVID-19 vaccine developers take more traditional route

The handful of drugmakers dominating the global coronavirus vaccine race are pushing the boundaries of vaccine technology. The next crop under development feature more conventional, proven designs. The world will need several different vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, given the sheer size of global need, variations in effects on different populations, and possible limits of effectiveness in the first crop. Many leading candidates now in final-stage testing are based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed. They include messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used by Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc with partner BioNTech SE <22UAy.F>, and inactivated cold virus platforms used by Oxford University/AstraZeneca Plc , Johnson & Johnson and CanSino Biologics <6185.HK>, whose vaccine has been approved for military use in China.
29th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Maersk and COVAXX partner to supply global COVID-19 vaccines

The agreement outlines a framework for all transportation and supply chain services that will be needed to deliver COVAXX’s vaccine candidate UB-612 worldwide, once approved by regulatory authorities. COVAXX is currently developing UB-612 through a high precision, synthetic peptide platform that activates both B-cell and T-cell arms. The investigational vaccine has been manufactured to replicate natural biology and preclinical studies have outlined high immunogenicity and levels of neutralising titers against SARS-COV-2. The technology platform has been successful in commercialising blood diagnostics as well as safe and effective vaccines for infectious disease in animal health and has been tested in a number of clinical trials for other indications to date.
28th Oct 2020 - Supply Chain Digital


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 30th Oct 2020

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Pfizer says no COVID-19 vaccine data yet, could be week or more before it reports

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Tuesday it does not yet have data from the late-stage trial of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Germany's BioNTech SE, and provided a timeline that makes its release unlikely ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.Pfizer said there had not yet been enough infections in the 44,000-volunteer trial to trigger an analysis of whether or not the vaccine works. An independent panel will conduct the first analysis when it reaches 32 infections. Chief Executive Albert Bourla said after it has enough data for the analysis, it typically takes 5 to 7 days before the company can publicly release the data, meaning it is likely to happen after the election.
30th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

States say they lack federal funds to distribute coronavirus vaccine as CDC tells them to be ready by Nov. 15

State health officials are expressing frustration about a lack of federal financial support as they face orders to prepare to receive and distribute the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 15, even though one is not likely to be approved until later this year. The officials say they don’t have enough money to pay for the enormous and complicated undertaking. State officials have been planning in earnest in recent weeks to get shots into arms even though no one knows which vaccine will be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, what special storage and handling may be required and how many doses each state will receive.
30th Oct 2020 - The Washington Post

Scientists identify prolific COVID-19 strain which started in Spain and spread across Europe

A coronavirus strain that emerged in Spain in June has spread across Europe and now makes up a large proportion of infections in several countries, researchers said, highlighting the role of travel in the pandemic and the need to track mutations. The variant, which has not been found to be inherently more dangerous, was first identified among farm workers in the eastern Spanish regions of Aragon and Catalonia. Over the last two months, it has accounted for close to 90 per cent of new infections in Spain, according to the research paper, authored by seven researchers with backing by Swiss and Spanish public-sector science institutions. It was posted on a so-called preprint server and is yet to be peer reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.
30th Oct 2020 - Channel NewsAsia Singapore

WHO: Europe now has more than 10 million COVID-19 cases

The World Health Organization’s Europe director said Thursday that the 53-country region has again reached a new weekly record for confirmed cases, with more than 1.5 million confirmed last week and more than 10 million since the start of the pandemic. During a meeting with European health ministers, WHO European regional director Dr. Hans Kluge said, “hospitalizations have risen to levels unseen since the spring” and that deaths have risen by more than 30% in the last week. “Europe is at the epicenter of this pandemic once again,” Kluge said. “At the risk of sounding alarmist, I must express our very real concern.”
29th Oct 2020 - The Washington Post

Protect nature or face deadlier pandemics than COVID-19, scientists warn

Pandemics will emerge more often, spread faster, cost more and kill more people than COVID-19 without bold action to halt the habitat destruction that helps viruses hop from wildlife to humans, according to a study published on Thursday. The findings www.ipbes.net/pandemics suggest that moves to protect tropical forests and other rich ecosystems to help slow climate change and save animal, bird and plant species could also prevent pandemics. “It turns out that by doing something about pandemics we are also doing something about climate change and biodiversity, and that’s a good thing,” Peter Daszak, a zoologist who chaired the study by 22 international experts, told Reuters. The group found that about half of an estimated 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in nature might be able to infect people.
29th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Exclusive: Russia's COVID-19 vaccine trial slows as focus shifts to second dose

Russia has temporarily paused the vaccination of new volunteers in its COVID-19 vaccine trial, staff at eight of 25 trial clinics said, with some citing high demand and a shortage of doses. However, the vaccine’s developer said the uptake of new participants had only slowed. At eight of the 25 Moscow clinics hosting the trial and inoculating volunteers, staff told Reuters the vaccination of new participants was temporarily on hold, and several said they had used up the doses allocated to their clinics, referencing a large influx of volunteers.
29th Oct 2020 - Reuters

New coronavirus symptom found by Covid-19 scientists - and it can develop a month after being infected

A new coronavirus symptom has been discovered by Covid-19 researchers. Typically, the three symptoms carried by experts and health services are a sudden loss of taste or smell, persistent, new cough and high temperature or fever. But over the course of the year, more and more telling signs of coronavirus have emerged - especially among 'Long Covid' sufferers. Analysts who are conducting studies on the signs and symptoms of the deadly bug continue to unearth new findings. And now a new 'Covid toes' symptom has been discovered in research by the International League of Dlogical Societies and the American Academy of Dermatology. They found some patients had chilblain-like inflammation on their feet, sometimes lasting for months at a time.
29th Oct 2020 - Birmingham Post

India's COVID-19 cases have declined rapidly—but herd immunity is still far away, scientists say

Last week, a panel of leading scientists appointed by the Indian government delivered a startlingly optimistic message: The world’s second largest COVID-19 epidemic has rounded a corner. India’s daily number of daily new cases has almost halved the past six weeks, and a new mathematical model suggests “we may have reached herd immunity,” some members of the panel wrote in a paper published online by The Indian Journal of Medical Research. Assuming measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and hand washing remain in place, the group said the pandemic could be “controlled by early next year.”
29th Oct 2020 - Science Magazine

A new coronavirus variant is seen spreading across Europe, research says

A new variant of the coronavirus, identified as 20A.EU1 by researchers from Switzerland and Spain, was first observed in Spain in June. It has been recorded in Spain at frequencies of above 40% since July, the study said. Elsewhere, the new variant of the coronavirus has increased from “very low” values prior to July 15 to 40% to 70% in Switzerland, Ireland, and the U.K. in September. It was also found to be prevalent in Norway, Latvia, the Netherlands, and France.
29th Oct 2020 - CNBC

UK COVID researcher says any lockdown should come sooner not later

Britain should act sooner rather than later if it is going to follow Germany and France and take nationwide steps to slow a second wave of the coronavirus, said Steven Riley, author of an Imperial College study into the spread of the disease. “I think we need decide to if we’re going to end up using those restrictions that have been brought in elsewhere in Europe today and yesterday. And if we’re if we’re going to do that, then we should think about timing. And sooner is better than later for these,” Riley, a professor of infectious disease dynamics, told the BBC. The spread of the coronavirus continues to increase across all parts of England with cases doubling every nine days, according to the new study by Imperial College.
29th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Moderna on track to report late-stage COVID-19 vaccine data next month

Moderna Inc on Thursday said it is on track to report early data from a late-stage trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine next month, offering the clearest timeline yet for when the world will know whether it is effective. The company, one of the front-runners in the global race to produce vaccines to protect against COVID-19, said an independent data monitoring committee is expected to conduct an interim review of its ongoing 30,000-person trial in November. Its shares rose 3%. The company said it is preparing to distribute the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, and expects to be able to produce 20 million doses by the end of the year, and between 500 million and 1 billion in 2021.
29th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Novavax Sells 60 Million Doses of Its Coronavirus Vaccine to the U.K. Government

As part of the agreement, Novavax agreed to create a dedicated supply chain in the U.K. for the production of that country's order. The company will be required to deliver those 60 million doses to the U.K. government before using that supply chain to fulfill orders for any other parties unless the U.K. government gives it permission. Once the initial order is fulfilled, Novavax will be able to take orders from other parties using that portion of its production capacity, but the U.K. government will retain the right to request additional batches to match the third-party sales on a pro-rata basis.
29th Oct 2020 - Motley Fool

Inside the Mexican factory preparing to produce Covid-19 vaccine

CNN's Matt Rivers visits Neolpharma, a Mexican pharmaceutical company that says it plans to eventually produce millions of coronavirus vaccine doses.
29th Oct 2020 - CNN

Israeli COVID vaccine starts human trials: ‘I’m giving my body, but no big deal’

Israel has started producing its new coronavirus vaccine. Will it work? Boaz Kolodner and 80 other Israelis have volunteered their immune systems to find out
29th Oct 2020 - The Times of Israel

Exclusive: Brazil will have a COVID-19 vaccine by June 2021, says regulator

Brazil expects to have a vaccine against COVID-19 approved and ready for use in a national inoculation program by June, the head of the country's health regulator Anvisa, Antonio Barra Torres, said on Thursday. With the world's worst outbreak of coronavirus after the United States and India, Brazil has become a key testing ground and has approved late stage clinical trials for four vaccines that are under development. Torres told Reuters that Anvisa has not decided on the minimum efficacy to require but he said the agency has approved vaccines in the past with less than 50% effectiveness. Health authorities in Europe are debating whether to accept a so-called efficacy rate of less than 50% to be able to deliver a vaccine sooner, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
29th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Sanofi and GSK to provide COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX Facility

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline have signed a statement of intent with Gavi to provide 200 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine available to the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is a global risk-sharing mechanism aim at securing COVID-19 vaccines for equitable distribution. The doses of Sanofi and GSK’s adjuvanted recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine will be used to support COVAX’s ambition to ensure successful shots reach those in need, once they obtain the appropriate approvals. “To address a global health crisis of this magnitude, it takes unique partnerships. The commitment we are announcing today for the COVAX Facility can help us together stand a better chance of bringing the pandemic under control,” said Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur.
29th Oct 2020 - Pharma Times

Moderna says Covid-19 vaccine trial data 'on track' for November

One of the front-runners in the global efforts to acquire a vaccine against Covid-19 said it was on track to report on the preliminary results of its clinical studies in November. Moderna said early-stage data on the clinical trial was expected during the following month and that two months of safety data would be available in the second half of November. The latter was the minimum required to file for emergency use authorisation wit the top US health regulator, the Food and Drug Administration. The US biotechnology outfit also said that it was working with the World Health Organisation on a tiered pricing model for access to its vaccine.
29th Oct 2020 - Hargreaves Lansdown

Verdict on coronavirus vaccine expected by Christmas as UK stocks up on 20 million doses

Britain has already stocked up on 20 million doses from six different candidate vaccines, but senior government officials reportedly claim Downing Street is confident Pfizer-Biontech will win the race
29th Oct 2020 - Mirror Online

Moderna rakes in over $1bn in deposits for potential Covid vaccine

Moderna has received more than $1bn in deposits from governments for its potential Covid-19 vaccine, highlighting how the pandemic has transformed the fortunes of the lossmaking US biotech. Contracts from countries for its vaccine candidate helped Moderna to turn cash flow positive in the third quarter for the first time in its 10-year history. The Boston-based company now expects net cash of between $100m and $300m in the fourth quarter. Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said 2021 would be the “most important inflection year” in the company’s history, proving that its platform technology could deliver other vaccines and treatments.
29th Oct 2020 - Financial Times

Russia 'temporarily' stops COVID-19 vaccine phase III trial, says report

In a set back to Vladimir Putin's mega plan to roll out shots by the end of the year, Russia has temporarily stopped coronavirus vaccine trial due to shortage of doses, news agency Reuters said. "It's related to the fact that there's colossal demand for the vaccine and they are not producing enough to keep up," said the representative of Crocus Medical, the contract research organisation that is helping run the trial in Moscow together with Russia's health ministry, Reuters reported. Staff in eight of the 25 Moscow clinics hosting the trial told Reuters the vaccination of new participants in the Phase III study had been temporarily paused
29th Oct 2020 - Mint

Hope riding high for AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine breakthrough

The value of investments and the income from them, can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest. Few people cannot have heard of AstraZeneca (AZN). It’s the pharmaceuticals company whose name is fast-becoming synonymous with the Coronavirus and is probably destined to either forever be known as the company that created The Vaccine - or for failing to. With the latest talk of a vaccine possibly being made available to healthcare workers possibly at the end of this year and the potential for a nationwide roll out in the second or third quarter of 2021, there is a lot riding on AstraZeneca’s shoulders right now. Assuming it is the AstraZeneca vaccine that’s being talked about.
29th Oct 2020 - Fidelity International

Fauci says first U.S. COVID-19 vaccines could ship late December or early January

If all goes well, the first doses of a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine will likely become available to some high-risk Americans in late December or early January, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, said on Thursday. Based on current projections from vaccine front-runners Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc, Americans will likely know “sometime in December whether or not we have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a live chat on Twitter and Facebook. “The first interim look (at trial results) should be, we hope, within the next few weeks,” he said.
29th Oct 2020 - Reuters

The world’s first coronavirus vaccine is already available in one country – but it might not work at all

The coronavirus is spreading like wildfire across dozens of states in the U.S. And with colder weather already settling in, not to mention the impending arrival of flu season, experts warn that a massive spike in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths may be inevitable. The U.S., however, isn’t the only country currently dealing with a resurgence of coronavirus infections. Several countries across Europe — including France, Poland, Germany, Portugal, and the Netherlands — now find themselves in a similar predicament. Indeed, some countries in Europe — similar to some states in the U.S. — have already started implementing tighter restrictions in an effort to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.
29th Oct 2020 - BGR

Merck CEO says Covid vaccine won't be a 'silver bullet,' predicts mask use for the 'foreseeable future'

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier told CNBC on Thursday that drugs to treat or prevent Covid-19 aren’t a “silver bullet” solution to the pandemic. People will need to wear masks and practice social distancing measures well into 2021, he predicted. Frazier said “he’s very optimistic that in the near future” there will be positive results coming from late-stage clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics.
29th Oct 2020 - CNBC

Instant Salvation?: The Challenges We Face Once a Coronavirus Vaccine Is Found

Several coronavirus vaccine candidates could soon be approved and German Health Minister Jens Spahn has begun making plans to inoculate millions of people. But the challenges remain immense and the virus will be with us for quite some time to come.
29th Oct 2020 - DER SPIEGEL International Edition

The 'very, very bad look' of remdesivir, the first FDA-approved COVID-19 drug

On 8 October, the company inked an agreement to supply the European Union with its drug remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19—a deal potentially worth more than $1 billion. Two weeks later, on 22 October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved remdesivir for use against the pandemic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in the United States—the first drug to receive that status. The EU and U.S. decisions pave the way for Gilead’s drug into two major markets, both with soaring COVID-19 cases. But both decisions baffled scientists who have closely watched the clinical trials of remdesivir unfold over the past 6 months—and who have many questions about remdesivir’s worth. At best, one large, well-designed study found remdesivir modestly reduced the time to recover from COVID-19 in hospitalized patients with severe illness. A few smaller studies found no impact of treatment on the disease whatsoever. Then, on 15 October—in this month’s decidedly unfavorable news for Gilead—the fourth and largest controlled study delivered what some believed was a coup de grâce: The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Solidarity trial showed that remdesivir does not reduce mortality or the time COVID-19 patients take to recover.
28th Oct 2020 - Science Magazine


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 29th Oct 2020

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Daewoong Pharmaceutical's COVID-19 Treatment Candidate Also Highly Effective against Influenza Virus

Daewoong Pharmaceutical, a South Korean pharmaceutical giant announced that its Covid-19 treatment candidate of sustained-release niclosamide (DWRX2003) also showed promising study results for a fight against the upcoming 'Twindemic' involving COVID-19 and seasonal flu. According to Daewoong, niclosamide successfully reduced the IVA-driven mortality rate in an animal efficacy test alongside its previous success in a COVID-19 ferret model. While 40% of the placebo-treated subjects died, both the preventive and therapeutic treatment groups injected with DWRX2003 12 hours before or 7 days after the infection resulted in full survivability. In particular, clinical scores were improved by 75% compared to the control group for the therapeutic treatment group on the second day of administration, indicating that the treatment was effective despite the hosting and worsening of infection over seven days.
28th Oct 2020 - PR Newswire.com

Needle-free injection tech to deliver UK's COVID-19 vaccine

The University of Cambridge has received multi-million-pound funding from the government for a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine. Trial preparations are underway for the vaccine, which will be delivered via an innovative needle-free injection technology developed by US firm PharmaJet. It is hoped that a successful trial will result in the widespread availability of a low-cost vaccine. The vaccine has been developed by DIOSynVax, a spinoff company supported by the University of Cambridge, and uses computer modelling of the virus’ structure to identify the distinct genetic code. The combined artificial intelligence and synthetic biology approach allows for development of a vaccine that is specific to developing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
28th Oct 2020 - BusinessCloud

Around 1.4% of Covid-19 patients will suffer a stroke, scientists warn

Patients who have a stroke tend to be older, but younger than expected. Strokes caused by Covid-19 appeared to be more deadly than typical strokes. High blood pressure and diabetes were risk factors for Covid-19 stroke. The findings come from analysing 100,000 hospitalised patients
28th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Dashboard designed to chart England's Covid-19 response finds major gaps in data

There are crucial gaps in the data available to map England’s response to Covid-19, according to researchers who have developed an interactive, visual tool condensing disparate streams of publicly available information to help the public make sense of the numbers. The one-stop dashboard – developed by an interdisciplinary research team from University College London (UCL) – found substantial shortcomings in the quality, consistency and availability of reliable figures required to manage the pandemic.
28th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid hospital cases in UK ‘could pass spring peak in November’

The number of coronavirus patients in UK hospitals could pass the spring peak by the end of November without further lockdown measures, a leading government scientific adviser has warned. Sir Mark Walport, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said it was “not unrealistic” that there would be 25,000 people in hospital with Covid by the end of next month – higher than the April peak. Walport compared the UK’s situation with France, where he said 16,000 Covid patients were in hospital including 2,500 people in intensive care – roughly half of its capacity – compared with 852 in intensive care in the UK. The picture was similar in Spain, he said, in spite of these countries implementing similar restrictions to the UK.
28th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Professor infects himself twice, refutes herd immunity

Dr Alexander Chepurnov, 69, reinfected himself with Covid-19 as part of a test His second infection was far more serious and required him to be hospitalised He says hopes for herd immunity are futile due to antibodies falling rapidly The Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine professor studies antibodies
28th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: South Africa's COVID lockdown may have created 'herd immunity'

Leading scientists in South Africa believe the country has established a form of collective or herd immunity to COVID-19 after the number of infections unexpectedly plummeted following a major outbreak in June and July. Commenting on a series of studies revealing the existence of high infection rates in the provinces of Western Cape and Gauteng, the country's leading vaccinologist, Professor Shabir Mahdi, told Sky News that he believed the coronavirus had stimulated a level of immunity in approximately 12 to 15 million people.
28th Oct 2020 - Sky News

Dr Anthony Fauci: ‘I’d be in serious trouble’ recommending Australian coronavirus response in US

America‘s top COVID-19 expert Dr Anthony Fauci has praised Victoria’s recovery from its second wave of coronavirus after a gruelling, months-long lockdown. But Dr Fauci also revealed that he wouldn’t dare publicly suggesting similar measures in the US, which has now had more than 9 million coronavirus cases: “If I were to use the words shutdown and lockdown, I’d be in serious trouble … they’d probably throw tomatoes at me,” he said. Speaking in a University of Melbourne panel discussion with Doherty Institute director Sharon Lewin and helmed by the University’s Professor Shitij Kapur, Dr Fauci said Australia had done “quite well” handling the pandemic.
28th Oct 2020 - News.com.au

Sage warns Covid second wave will be worse than first, amid mounting calls for new national lockdown

Sage modelling has shown that the second wave looks to last for much longer than the first, with a sustained death toll throughout the winter, in a stark prediction for the next few months. Internal analysis, first reported on by The Telegraph, projects that deaths will peak at a lower level than during the first wave last spring, but could remain at that level beyond Christmas, and potentially into March. Sir Patrick Vallance and other advisers have reportedly urged the Government to act quickly.
28th Oct 2020 - iNews

English COVID data patchy, researchers say, as new dashboard launched

There are significant problems with the availability and quality of COVID-19 data in England, British researchers said on Wednesday as they launched a dashboard to help make sense of the patchwork of stats. The COVID Response Evaluation Dashboard (COVID RED) presents available statistics from Public Health England (PHE), the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the National Health Service (NHS) and also highlights where more data are needed. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has introduced a three-tier system of local lockdowns for England in a bid to tackle local flare-ups in infections while avoiding a new national lockdown.
28th Oct 2020 - Reuters India

France must accept new national lockdown, says hospital professor

Professor Philippe Juvin, a leading member of Paris’ Georges-Pompidou hospital, told RTL radio on Wednesday that France had to accept a new, national lockdown to tackle a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus. “We must take it up,” said Juvin. French President Emmanuel Macron will give a televised address on Wednesday evening. His government has been exploring a new, national lockdown from midnight on Thursday, BFM TV reported, albeit a slightly more flexible one than the two-month shutdown that began in mid-March.
28th Oct 2020 - Reuters

The concept of “fatigue” in tackling covid-19

The concept of “fatigue” has been used to describe a presumed tendency for people to naturally become “tired” of the rules and guidance they should follow to prevent the spread of covid-19. This fatigue, so the theory goes, eventually makes people less motivated to adhere to these rules over time.1 The idea appears to be gaining currency and has alternatively been referred to as “behavioural fatigue,” “pandemic fatigue,” “emergency fatigue,” “public fatigue,” and “adherence fatigue.” A Google search on the phrase “pandemic fatigue” resulted in around 200 million hits, with articles on the first page with titles such as “10 reasons why pandemic fatigue could threaten global health,” and “Europe experiencing pandemic fatigue.” The question is whether the concept of fatigue accurately captures what is happening. This question is important because it affects policies aimed at maximising adherence. Outside of covid-19, the term fatigue has three main uses. One is a subjective feeling of mental or physical tiredness, which can be caused by mental or physical exertion, sustained activity, lack of sleep, or a health condition. It is a common symptom of covid-19 and of diseases such as cancer.2,3 It is also found in healthy individuals as part of daily living. The exhaustion may or may not be accompanied by reduced motivation to engage in particular tasks.
28th Oct 2020 - The BMJ

A room, a bar and a class: how the coronavirus is spread through the air

After studying this outbreak carefully, scientists were able to calculate the extent to which the risk could have been mitigated if they had taken measures against airborne transmission. For example, if masks had been worn, the risk would have been halved and only around 44% of those present would have been affected as opposed to 87%. If the rehearsal had been held over a shorter period of time in a space with more ventilation, only two singers would have become infected. These super-spreading scenarios increasingly appear to be critical to the development and spread of the pandemic, meaning that having tools to prevent mass transmission at such events is key to controlling it.
28th Oct 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Sweden at 'critical juncture' as Anders Tegnell warns herd immunity is futile

The pandemic is approaching a “critical juncture” in Sweden after the number of daily cases rose by 70 per cent in a week, according to the country’s chief epidemiologist. Anders Tegnell, the public face of the Swedish authorities’ coronavirus response, said it would be futile and immoral for a state to deliberately pursue herd immunity, where a large enough number of the population has been infected so that the disease struggles to spread.
28th Oct 2020 - The Times

Can You Get Covid Twice? What Reinfection Cases Really Mean

The questions of whether people have immunity to SARS-CoV-2 after getting it, and if so for how long, have become more acute now that scientists have found a growing number of individuals who’ve caught the coronavirus twice. One woman even died after the second infection. Researchers are still working out the full implications of the reinfections and the ramifications on efforts to end the deadliest pandemic in a century. 1. How many people have been reinfected? A tracker maintained by the Dutch news agency BNO News had recorded 24 cases globally as of Oct. 16. The first confirmed case, a 33-year-old man from Hong Kong, was reported in August. He’d tested positive in March with mild symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, and had two negative tests a few weeks later. Four and a half months after the first event, he tested positive again, although he had no symptoms. The only known person to have died from a case of reinfection was an 89-year-old Dutch woman, who was also undergoing chemotherapy treatment for a rare white blood cell cancer....
28th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

Covid-19: Russia applies to WHO for emergency use tag for its vaccine

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is one of the developers of the Sputnik V, has submitted applications to the World Health Organization (WHO) for an Emergency Use Listing and prequalification of the coronavirus vaccine. The acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccine by the UN health agency could help allay concerns over its safety and quality.
27th Oct 2020 - Nairametrics

COVID's cognitive costs? Some patients' brains may age 10 years

People recovering from COVID-19 may suffer significant brain function impacts, with the worst cases of the infection linked to mental decline equivalent to the brain ageing by 10 years, researchers warned on Tuesday. A non-peer-reviewed study of more than 84,000 people, led by Adam Hampshire, a doctor at Imperial College London, found that in some severe cases, coronavirus infection is linked to substantial cognitive deficits for months. “Our analyses ... align with the view that there are chronic cognitive consequences of having COVID-19,” the researchers wrote in a report of their findings. “People who had recovered, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits.”
27th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Some Covid Survivors Have Antibodies That Attack the Body, not Virus

New research found ‘autoantibodies’ similar to those in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients. But patients may also benefit from treatments for those autoimmune diseases.
27th Oct 2020 - The New York Times


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 28th Oct 2020

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UK Vaccine Taskforce Chair says early COVID-19 vaccines may be imperfect - The Lancet

UK Vaccine Taskforce Chair Kate Bingham said on Tuesday that the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines “is likely to be imperfect” and that they “might not work for everyone”. “However, we do not know that we will ever have a vaccine at all. It is important to guard against complacency and over-optimism”, Bingham wrote in a piece published in The Lancet medical journal. “The first generation of vaccines is likely to be imperfect, and we should be prepared that they might not prevent infection but rather reduce symptoms, and, even then, might not work for everyone or for long,” she added.
28th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Russia applies for WHO emergency use tag for its COVID-19 vaccine

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has submitted applications to the World Health Organization for an Emergency Use Listing and prequalification of its coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, Russia's sovereign wealth fund said on Tuesday. Russia was the first country to grant regulatory approval for a novel coronavirus vaccine, and did so before large-scale trials were complete, stirring concerns among scientists and doctors about the safety and efficacy of the shot. An Emergency Use Listing (EUL) is meant to make a vaccine available globally faster, while a WHO prequalification is a global quality tag that ensures vaccines are safe and effective.
28th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Production of Covid-19 vaccine could top 16 billion doses, but delivery is still a challenge

Manufacturing limits, a nation’s health care system and intellectual property rights could all affect which countries receive vaccines and how quickly. Of 16 billion doses manufacturers expect to make next year, over 8 billion have already been committed to countries
28th Oct 2020 - South China Morning Post

US experts urge caution on giving Covid vaccine to children

Children should not be given a Covid-19 vaccine until there is more data to ensure it is safe, experts have warned the US regulator, as the first group of American teenagers were dosed with a potential treatment for the disease. Top vaccine scientists on an advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration said the disease develops so differently in children that any approval should not rely on data from adults. Most children get no or only mild symptoms, so the risk-benefit calculations of giving them a vaccine are different from those for adults. Yet a small proportion develop a serious condition called multi-inflammatory syndrome, which can be fatal.
28th Oct 2020 - Financial Times

Oxford Covid vaccine works in all ages, trials suggest

One of the world’s leading Covid-19 experimental vaccines produces an immune response in older adults as well as the young, its developers say, raising hopes of protection for those most vulnerable to the coronavirus that has caused social and economic chaos around the world. Neither Oxford University nor its commercial partner AstraZeneca would release the data from the early trials showing the positive effects, which are being submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. But AstraZeneca confirmed the basic findings about the vaccine it calls AZD1222, which were shared at a closed academic meeting.
28th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid vaccine made by US pharma giant Moderna could be fast-tracked through approval process in UK

Means health officials will review data as it becomes available in real time Normally takes years for vaccines to be green-lit for approval by the MHRA Moderna's jab candidate - called mRNA-1273 - one of the global frontrunners
28th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 herd immunity theory dealt blow by UK research

The proportion of people in Britain with antibodies that protect against Covid-19 declined over the summer, according to research that adds to evidence that natural immunity can wane in a matter of months. The number of people with antibodies fell by a quarter, from 6 per cent of the population in June to 4.4 per cent in September, according to a study of hundreds of thousands of people, one of the largest of its kind to date. The results, from researchers at Imperial College London, are the latest sign that immunity to Covid-19 may be shortlived and cast further doubt on the idea that any population could develop herd immunity naturally. The study suggests that the immune system’s response to the virus is similar to its reaction to influenza and other coronaviruses such as the common cold, which can be contracted annually.
27th Oct 2020 - The Financial Times

COVID-19 risk on planes 'very low' with proper measures, Harvard review says

The risk of COVID-19 transmission onboard a plane is "reduced to very low levels," Harvard researchers concluded. The onboard ventilation systems coupled with measures such as masks, frequent cabin cleaning, and distancing during boarding and deplaning help keep the virus from spreading. "This layered approach reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission onboard aircraft below that of other routine activities during the pandemic, such as grocery shopping or eating out," the report stated. The Aviation Public Health Initiative (APHI), comprised of faculty and scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, published its Phase One report Tuesday, analyzing "gate-to-gate travel" onboard planes. It has not been peer-reviewed.
27th Oct 2020 - ABC

Eight in 10 Covid-19 hospital patients are vitamin D deficient, study

Further proof that vitamin D could protect people from coronavirus emerged today after a study found deficiencies in the sunshine nutrient are four times as common among hospitalised patients. A mountain of research from around the world has painted a clear picture — infected patients who do not have enough vitamin D are more likely to end up in hospital.
27th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Pfizer urges patience in ‘last mile’ of Covid-19 vaccine process

Pfizer’s chief executive has urged patience in the “last mile” of Covid-19 vaccine development, after the timeline for an early look at whether a late-stage trial shows its vaccine works was poised to slip into November. Albert Bourla said on Tuesday that he was still “cautiously optimistic” about the vaccine, which could be the first submitted for US emergency approval. He noted that “stress levels” around the world were rising as the “worst fears” come true, with Covid-19 spreading in Europe, the US and around the globe. But the trial — which has enrolled over 42,000 participants, with 36,000 having received their second dose — has not yet hit the threshold at which it is allowed to do an initial analysis on whether the vaccine works.
27th Oct 2020 - The Financial Times

Simple breath test that 'can diagnose Covid-19 within one minute' without the need for swabs is being developed by UK scientists

A breath test can rapidly distinguish Covid-19 from other respiratory conditions Covid-infected patients have an abundance of certain chemicals in their breath Scientists say their breath tests could replace more invasive methods like PCR
27th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Fauci says early Covid vaccines will prevent symptoms, not block virus

Dr Anthony Fauci cautioned that early COVID-19 vaccines are aimed at preventing symptoms during Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit on Monday 'If the vaccine allows you to prevent initial infection, that would be great,' he said. '[But] the primary endpoint [is] to prevent clinically recognizable disease' At least four vaccine candidates are currently in late-stage clinical trials Fauci has said he is cautiously optimistic that a vaccine will arrive by year end But he warned that early vaccines may only be 50 to 60 percent effective
27th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Breath test 'can diagnose Covid-19 within one minute'

A non-invasive Covid-19 breath test that could deliver results “within one minute” is being developed by UK scientists. The technology, which was originally developed as part of a project known as TOXI-Triage, would use “breath signatures” to “rapidly distinguish Covid-19 from other respiratory conditions”. The researchers said their findings, published in The Lancet’s EclinicalMedicine journal, could dramatically improve the experience of taking a coronavirus test as well as “play a part in restarting the economy”.
27th Oct 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Royal Free joins government-backed 'Human Challenge' study to find Covid-19 treatments and vaccines

The Royal Free NHS Trust has joined a cutting-edge, government-backed project to speed-up the development of treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. The trust is now part of the Human Challenge Programme, which will investigate how transmission of the coronavirus works –by looking at exposing healthy volunteers to small amounts of the virus.
27th Oct 2020 - Hampstead Highgate Express

South Korea begins preliminary review of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine candidate

South Korea's food and drug ministry said on Tuesday it had begun a preliminary review of a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca PLC for potential fast-track approval. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a statement that it had formed a screening team to review the vaccine candidate, with an application for formal approval expected in 90 days under its rapid approval programme for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
27th Oct 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Novavax delays U.S. trial of Covid-19 vaccine candidate to November

Novavax on Tuesday delayed the start of a late-stage U.S. trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine by roughly a month to the end of November, citing delays in scaling up the manufacturing process. Data from an early-to-mid stage or phase 2 trial of the vaccine is now expected on Friday, the company said. Early-stage data had showed the vaccine produced high levels of antibodies against the novel coronavirus.
27th Oct 2020 - CNBC

Novavax Will Launch U.S. Phase 3 Trials Of Coronavirus Vaccine By End Of November

Novavax, one of the biotech firms that received funding from the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed to produce a coronavirus vaccine, announced Tuesday it plans to begin phase 3 clinical trials in the United States and Mexico by the end of November.
27th Oct 2020 - Forbes

Reality bites for Putin's much-hyped Covid-19 vaccine, as concerns over efficacy and safety linger

In August, Russian state media rolled out the red carpet for a bombshell announcement -- President Vladimir Putin, from his residence outside Moscow, unveiled what he said was the world's first registered coronavirus vaccine, meant to bring Russia closer to the end of a devastating pandemic. Putin, who is famously secretive about his family, said one of his daughters had already been inoculated as part of the early-stage trials and felt "well," to bulk up the vaccine's safety claims. Now, as the second wave of Covid-19 hits the country -- with record numbers of new infections and deaths -- the vaccine, named Sputnik V, is far from being widely available to the general public.
27th Oct 2020 - CNN

Black participation in covid-19 vaccine trials is key to Black economic recovery

Vaccine trials need Black people. And the Black economic recovery needs a vaccine. The economic downturn from the novel coronavirus has had a staggering financial impact on Blacks. Job losses from the pandemic have overwhelmingly affected low-wage, minority workers. Black men and women are among those taking the longest time to regain their employment. Black Americans account for about 13 percent of the U.S. population but 24 percent of coronavirus deaths, the Pew Research Center reported in June. But when I ask the Black folks I know if they’re going to take a coronavirus vaccine, most without hesitation say, “No, I will not.”
27th Oct 2020 - The Washington Post

Pfizer says no COVID-19 vaccine data yet, could be week or more before it reports

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc PFE.N said on Tuesday it does not yet have data from the late-stage trial of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with Germany's BioNTech SE 22UAy.F, and provided a timeline that makes its release unlikely ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.Pfizer said there had not yet been enough infections in the 44,000-volunteer trial to trigger an analysis of whether or not the vaccine works. An independent panel will conduct the first analysis when it reaches 32 infections.
27th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Eli Lilly ends one of its COVID-19 antibody drug trials: A timeline

Eli Lilly has ended a trial of its COVID-19 antibody drug, bamlanivimab, that tested the drug's effectiveness in treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients, a month after an interim analysis suggested the drug helped the virus leave patients' systems sooner. The drug was shown to have no effect on recovery times or survival rates for patients hospitalized with advanced COVID-19, but it will continue to be tested for other COVID-19 patients. A timeline of Eli Lilly's development of bamlanivimab:
27th Oct 2020 - Becker's Hospital Review

Oxford Covid vaccine trials offer hope for elderly

A vaccine considered a frontrunner in the race to protect the global population from Covid-19 has produced a robust immune response in elderly people, the group at highest risk from the disease, according to two people familiar with the finding. The discovery that the vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, triggers protective antibodies and T-cells in older age groups has encouraged researchers as they seek evidence that it will spare those in later life from serious illness or death from the virus.
26th Oct 2020 - Financial Times


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 27th Oct 2020

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Coronavirus immunity may only last a few months after an infection, study warns

The proportion of the public testing positive for antibodies fell from six per cent to 4.4 per cent in three months, according to a major study commissioned in England by the Department of Health and Social Care.
27th Oct 2020 - Mirror Online

Heart inflammation in athletes who survive COVID-19 is NOT a major concern, say US doctors

A team of cardiologists say increased rates of myocarditis, inflammation of the heart, particularly among college athletes in the US diagnosed with COVID-19, is not a cause for concern.
26th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail on MSN.com

C+D joins with COVID-19 trial pharmacy lead to find community recruits

C+D and Professor Mahendra Patel are campaigning together to find 1,000 pharmacies to contribute to an Oxford University COVID-19 clinical trial by signposting suitable patients. In September, Professor Patel was appointed as national black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and pharmacy lead for the PRINCIPLE COVID-19 clinical trial, run by Oxford University. The trial is evaluating whether the use of two common antibiotics, azithromycin and doxycycline can help people with COVID-19 symptoms recover at home, thereby reducing the need for hospital admissions. It is open to people who are aged over 50 with certain underlying health conditions, and to anyone over the age of 65.
26th Oct 2020 - Chemist+Druggist

Elderly people given Oxford University's vaccine DO get protection from Covid-19

Suggests group at highest risk of serious illness and death could be protected Study found jab prompted release of antibodies and T-cells in people over 55 Findings not made public yet but Oxford released statement to build excitement
26th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: US pulls plan to give early vaccine to Santa Claus

The US has cancelled plans to offer Santa Claus performers early access to a coronavirus vaccine in exchange for their help in promoting it publicly. Those who perform as Mrs Claus and elves would also have been eligible for the jabs. The festive collaboration was part of a $250m (£192m) government campaign to garner celebrity endorsements of vaccinations once they are approved. But health authorities confirmed the advertising campaign had been scrapped. Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, called the news "extremely disappointing."
26th Oct 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: How the Czech Republic's response went wrong

The Czech Republic was praised for its swift initial response to the coronavirus crisis, but seven months on it's now recording 15,000 new cases a day and has the second highest per capita death rate over seven days in the world. So what went wrong? Letnany Exhibition Grounds on the northern outskirts of Prague is usually where you go to check out the latest caravans or fitted kitchens. But its cavernous halls are now home to a ghostly field hospital, built by the army in just over seven days. On Sunday it was formally handed over to Prague's main infectious diseases hospital. "Our task is to enhance the capacity of civilian hospitals," said Colonel Ladislav Slechta, commander of the Czech Army's Military Medical Agency which built the facility.
26th Oct 2020 - BBC

Johnson & Johnson sees covid-19 vaccine available as soon as January

Johnson & Johnson’s first batches of its Covid-19 vaccine could be available for emergency use as soon as January, Ruxandra Draghia-Akli, the company’s head of public health research and development, said in a presentation at the World Health Summit.
26th Oct 2020 - Mint

Of all the places that have seen off a second coronavirus wave, only Vietnam and Hong Kong have done as well as Victorians

Of the 215 nations and territories that have reported COVID-19 cases, 120 have experienced clear second waves or late first waves that began in July or later. That’s according to the Worldometer global database, which sources data from national ministries of health and the World Health Organisation. Of these 120, only six have definitively emerged from their second wave: Australia, South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore. I am not including New Zealand, as the series of clusters that arose in Auckland in mid-August never evolved into a clear second wave.
26th Oct 2020 - The Conversation AU

Covid 19 coronavirus: World Health Organisation highlights New Zealand's pandemic success

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted the steps New Zealand took to eliminate Covid-19 within its community. In a four-minute video posted on social media, the WHO details how the country went from its first case of coronavirus, on February 28, to the peak of daily new cases at 89, to successfully eliminating the virus within a matter of months. The video singles out New Zealand's plan, including the strict lockdown measures, the isolation of any positive cases and close contacts, as well as the country's contact tracing method. It features footage from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's addresses to the nation, including the level 4 lockdown announcement, as well as interviews with some of the country's top experts, including Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
26th Oct 2020 - New Zealand Herald

Israel to start COVID-19 vaccine human trials on Nov. 1

Israel will begin human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by a research institute overseen by the Defence Ministry on Nov. 1 after receiving regulatory approval, the ministry said on Sunday. The Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) began animal trials for its “BriLife” vaccine in March. The Health Ministry and an oversight committee have now given the green light to take it to the next stage. Eighty volunteers aged between 18 and 55 will be monitored for three weeks to see if virus antibodies develop, the ministry said in a statement. A second phase, expected to begin in December, will involve 960 people over the age of 18.
26th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Celltrion nabs emergency use for rapid COVID-19 test from FDA

Celltrion has nabbed a speedy preapproval for its quick pandemic virus test as it forecasts high demand. This comes three months after asking the FDA for an emergency use authorization, which has been giving COVID-19 tests and drugs the ability to be used in the U.S. but is not a full approval.
26th Oct 2020 - FierceBiotech

Covid 19 coronavirus: The strange ways virus can affect the brain

On March 17 this year, a man was taken to hospital in Israel suffering from a dry cough and a loss of sense of smell. He developed a fever and felt tired but, after three days as an in-patient, was released to quarantine. Then something strange started happening. His handwriting changed. It became smaller, crabbed and unreadable. Not just that, but he struggled to speak clearly or write texts on his phone. His right hand began to tremble. Eventually, symptoms became so bad that he returned to hospital, this time to the department of neurology, dealing in disorders of the brain and nervous system.
26th Oct 2020 - New Zealand Herald

Oxford vaccine prompts immune response in elderly: AstraZeneca

An experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom produces an immune response in both younger and older adults, triggering lower adverse responses among the elderly, British drugmaker says.
26th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 26th Oct 2020

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Initial lockdown in France substantially curbed COVID-19, but many remain susceptible to the virus

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic first started in late December 2019 in Wuhan City, China. From there, it has spread across the globe. During the first peak of cases in March, France is one of the hardest-hit countries, with the cases now reaching more than 1 million, with at least 34,000 deaths. The government has imposed an initial lockdown in March, banning large gatherings and closing schools. In August, when restrictions were eased, there was a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases. Now, a new study by researchers at the Santé Publique France conducted seroprevalence estimates in France, one of the countries with high COVID-19 cases in Europe
25th Oct 2020 - News Medical

AstraZeneca, J&J resuming US tests of COVID-19 vaccines

Two drugmakers announced Friday the resumption of U.S. testing of their COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been halted since early September, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine study was paused at the beginning of last week. Each company had a study volunteer develop a serious health issue, requiring a review of safety data. The two coronavirus vaccines are among several candidates in final-stage testing, the last step before seeking regulatory approval. The drugmakers said they got the go-ahead Friday from the Food and Drug Administration to restart tests in the U.S.
25th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

AstraZeneca resumes U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trial and next week J&J prepares to do same

AstraZeneca Plc has resumed the U.S. trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine after approval by regulators, and Johnson & Johnson is preparing to resume its trial on Monday or Tuesday, the companies said on Friday. The news signaled progress against the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 41 million globally, including 8 million Americans and comes 10 days before a U.S. presidential election that may hinge on plans here to fight the pandemic. AstraZeneca, one of the leading vaccine developers, paused its U.S. trial on Sept. 6 after a report of a serious neurological illness, believed to be transverse myelitis, in a participant in the company’s UK trial. J&J paused its large, late-stage trial last week after a study participant became ill.
25th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Brazil's health regulator allows the import of six million doses of a coronavirus vaccine from China

Brazil's health regulator has authorized the import from China of a potential vaccine against the coronavirus, just days after President Jair Bolsonaro insisted he wouldn't allow doses to be shipped from the Asian nation. The health regulator, Anvisa, said in a statement on Friday that Sao Paulo state's Butantan Institute can import 6 million doses of the CoronaVac shot that Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac is developing. The potential vaccine cannot be administered to Brazilians as it isn't yet approved locally, the statement said.
25th Oct 2020 - MercoPress

5 takeaways from the FDA's closely watched coronavirus vaccine meeting

The U.S. government's most detailed airing of its plans for approval, production and distribution of coronavirus vaccines came Thursday at a marathon meeting of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee. Independent experts convened by the FDA debated whether the agency has set an appropriate bar for approving experimental shots, and how research should continue following any emergency clearance that might be granted in the coming months. Presentations by officials from the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, meanwhile, shed important light on lingering questions about how mass immunization programs will be rolled out. Addressing distribution hurdles and likely vaccine hesitancy among certain groups were a particular focus.
25th Oct 2020 - BioPharma Dive

Dr Reddy's: Covid vaccine-maker suffers cyber-attack

Pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy's, which is developing a Covid-19 vaccine, says it has been hit by a cyber-attack. Sites around the world have been affected, including those in the UK, Brazil, India, Russia and the US. The India-based company said it had isolated all of its data centre services to contain the attack. Last week, Dr Reddy's was given permission to begin its final stage trials of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine. The company refused to comment on whether or not its manufacturing facilities had been affected.
25th Oct 2020 - BBC

Oxford coronavirus vaccine scientists will be rewarded for saving world

The last time Oxford University saved the world from infectious disease, with the development of penicillin, it made barely a penny. This time, with its vaccine, it has worked hard to ensure that it does not repeat the mistake. The university has negotiated a 6 per cent stake in any royalties from its vaccine if it is successful, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal.
25th Oct 2020 - The Times

Australian production of non-protein Covid-19 vaccine may take an extra year, minister says

It could take up to a year for Australian biotech company CSL to develop the capability to make a Covid-19 vaccine if a non-protein-based version proves safe and effective, the country’s industry minister has said. Karen Andrews said CSL would be able to immediately start making a protein-based vaccine, but “significant work” would be required if it was another type based on mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid. Vaccines traditionally introduce proteins into the body to provoke the immunity system into responding but if an mRNA vaccine of the kind being developed by US company Moderna is approved it would be the first of its type, experts say.
25th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus vaccine: Oxford jab provides ‘strong’ immune response, analysis finds

AstraZeneca's Oxford coronavirus vaccine accurately follows its preprogrammed genetic instructions to successfully provoke a strong immune response, an analysis has found. The vaccine “is doing everything we expected and that is only good news in our fight against the illness,” said David Matthews, an expert in virology from Bristol University, which led the research. AstraZeneca, which is developing the vaccine alongside Oxford University researchers, is considered a frontrunner in the race to produce a vaccine against Covid-19. The first data from late-stage large-scale clinical trials being conducted in several countries around the world, including Brazil, the United States and Britain, are expected to be released before the end of the year.
25th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Rush for results could lead to inferior Covid vaccine, say scientists

Scientists have warned that early adoption of a Covid vaccine with only moderate effectiveness could disrupt efforts to test and create improved versions. Immunising against the disease is not going to be a simple business of turning off the virus once the first vaccine appears, they say. In fact, there could be considerable confusion as researchers struggle to pinpoint the best versions for different vulnerable groups, such as the elderly. “The vaccines coming through fastest are the most experimental. It is possible they won’t be all that great and that others – created using more tried-and-tested but slower methods – might be better,” said Professor Adam Finn of Bristol University. “But to prove that point will become very difficult if lots of individuals have already been given the first vaccine. It will need vast numbers of people to demonstrate which is best or if a different vaccine is more suitable for particular groups, like the elderly.”
25th Oct 2020 - The Observer

People are traveling across China in the hopes of getting an experimental Covid-19 vaccine shot

When Anny Ku heard that there were coronavirus vaccines on offer in Yiwu, a city in China's eastern Zhejiang province, she traveled more than 600 miles (965 kilometers) for a chance to get the shot. Ku worked in Chile for more than 20 years as an importer and exporter, but she returned to her home in southern China earlier this year after the coronavirus pandemic worsened and a large number of cases appeared in South America. There had been no official announcement that a vaccine was available in Yiwu -- just a series of articles in local media -- but Ku believed she needed the shot in order to leave China and get back to her job overseas. "If one has (the vaccine), it's much safer to leave the country," she said
24th Oct 2020 - CNN

India to have covid vaccine by June: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

The buzz around an imminent covid-19 vaccine has raised hopes of a way back to normalcy for the billions affected by the pandemic around the world, said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director of Bengaluru-based Biocon Ltd. Mazumdar-Shaw is hopeful that the vaccine will be in India by June, but added delivering the vaccine to India’s over 1.2 billion population has its own challenges. "I expect that by January, some of the other vaccines could be approved like AstraZeneca’s or one of our own Indian vaccines like the one by Bharat Biotech. If we finish the clinical trials in the next 2-3 months, even those may be approved by January-February. So I would expect that in Q1FY22 we should have vaccines available in India and other parts of the world," said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in an interview to Mint.
24th Oct 2020 - Mint

Brazil will import Chinese-produced coronavirus vaccine Sinovac for trials

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said last week China lacked the creditability to develop a cure for the coronavirus. Whoops. Now a Sao Paulo research centre, partnered with China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, was granted “exceptional” permission to bring six million doses fo the COVID-19 drug into the country for phase three trials.
24th Oct 2020 - ForexLive

As it hits one million coronavirus cases, Colombia prepares for vaccine

In a warehouse near Bogota’s airport, behind a heavy cold storage door, sit boxes upon boxes of lifesaving vaccines for everything from yellow fever to polio, awaiting transport to the furthest reaches of Colombia.The tall shelves, kept at a chill 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), are half-empty - leaving plenty of room for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. Colombia surpassed 1 million infections on Saturday afternoon, becoming the eighth country globally to do so, tallying 1,007,711 confirmed infections and 30,000 deaths. As scientists around the world race to find a coronavirus inoculation, Colombia says it is ready to distribute any vaccine which proves effective.
24th Oct 2020 - Reuters

AstraZeneca and J&J get go-ahead to resume Covid-19 vaccine trials

Major US Covid-19 vaccine trials from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were given the green light to restart on Friday, after the US regulator concluded it was safe to resume testing the experimental candidates. The two drugmakers’ US trials had been paused as the Food and Drug Administration investigated whether serious adverse events could be linked to the vaccines. The trial of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate, developed with Oxford university, had been paused since September 6 after a participant fell sick with neurological symptoms, even as studies in other countries including the UK were restarted.
24th Oct 2020 - The Financial Times

Vaccine developers call on FDA to offer clarity on COVID-19 trials

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have asked the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide clarity over retaining and attracting participants for COVID-19 vaccine trials after a vaccine becomes available to the public. The comments were made in letters sent before an FDA advisory committee met yesterday to discuss issues relating to the development and authorisation of potential COVID-19 vaccines. J&J urged the FDA committee to discuss the potential challenges of continuing trial enrolment in large-scale studies after the vaccines receive approval.
24th Oct 2020 - PMLive.com

Moderna completes enrolment of phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial

Moderna has completed enrolment of its late-stage phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine study, with 30,000 participants now enrolled in the study. According to the company, 25,654 participants have now received their second vaccination with Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, in the phase 3 COVE study. The biotech company also touted the diversity of its trial population, with participants from minority groups represented in the overall group. In total, 37% of the trial populations consists of participants from minority ethnic groups, representing 11,000 volunteers. In addition, Moderna has included participants with higher risks of contracting COVID-19 or developing severe disease, with 25% of the trial population being over the age of 65 years.
24th Oct 2020 - PMLive.com

Covid: More coronavirus vaccine trials in Wales 'within weeks'

New trials of coronavirus vaccinations will start in Wales "within weeks". A top scientist who works for the body responsible for organising the pilots said different vaccines will be trialed across parts of Wales "very soon". About 500 volunteers in the Gwent area have already taken part in trials of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. The new trials will be for different vaccines, but Health and Care Research Wales would not confirm which products.
24th Oct 2020 - BBC

Coronavirus vaccine final-stage testing to restart in US

Two drugmakers have announced the resumption of US testing of their Covid-19 vaccine candidates. Testing of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate had been halted since early September, while Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine study was paused at the beginning of last week. Each company had a study volunteer develop a serious health issue, requiring a review of safety data.
24th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Oxford coronavirus vaccine 'has only been tested on 500 over-70s'

High hopes for Oxford University's 'ChAdOx' jab but only 1,000 or so of the 10,000 people recruited to UK arm of Oxford's trial are aged 70 or over. Half of them have been given the vaccine and half have had a placebo. Last night, former immunisation 'tsar' Professor David Salisbury said relatively small numbers might not be enough to generate meaningful result
24th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

At 75, I've volunteered for a Covid vaccine trial. It could set people free

There’s a 50% chance that this week I was injected with a vaccine designed to protect me from Covid-19. If not, I got the saltwater placebo instead. I won’t know until the study ends in 13 months, which is a shame. It would be nice to walk the streets without looking balefully around me at young people not wearing masks and thinking: I’m 75, this virus kills people my age. It killed my chum Mike Pentelow, who was having a lot of fun in his retirement, writing books with titles such as A Pub Crawl Through History, and Mike was a year younger than me. Perhaps he’s the reason I volunteered to be a guinea pig for one of the companies working on a vaccine.
24th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

HHS Release Redacted Moderna COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine Contract : Shots - Health News

Even as the companies enlisted by the government's Operation Warp Speed project to develop COVID-19 vaccines say they're making quick progress, details of their lucrative federal contracts have been slow to emerge. But late Friday the Department of Health and Human Services released its August contract with Moderna. When announcing the deal, HHS said it was worth $1.5 billion and would secure the first 100 million doses of the company's vaccine and the option to buy up to 400 million more. Overall, there is a lack of disclosure around the terms of the federal contracts with companies involved in the crash program to make COVID-19 vaccines. Most of the contracts haven't been released.
24th Oct 2020 - NPR

Recon: AstraZeneca's COVID vaccine packs a wallop; Merck KGaA, partners link for COVID mAbs

There are serious signs the Food and Drug Administration is getting cold feet over the notion of issuing emergency use authorizations to allow for the widespread early deployment of Covid-19 vaccines. Instead, it appears the agency may be exploring the idea of using expanded access — a more limited program that is typically used for investigational drugs — in the early days of Covid vaccine rollouts. Whereas a few weeks ago the agency’s concern was to protect against the possibility that unproven vaccines would be pushed out prematurely due to pressure from President Trump, now the fear is that early authorization of vaccines could squander a one-time chance to determine how well the various vaccines work and which work best in whom.
23rd Oct 2020 - Stat News

How Pfizer Partner BioNTech Became a Leader in Coronavirus Vaccine Race

On a Friday in late January, Ugur Sahin received an email with bad news: A new study of a deadly new coronavirus in China suggested it was more infectious than previously believed. The outbreak, he believed, had the potential to grow into a pandemic. The following Monday, the German scientist and chief executive of biotech firm BioNTech SE summoned his board to announce that the company, which had been developing next-generation cancer treatments, would start work on a Covid-19 vaccine. Human trials would need to start by April, he added, in case Europe and the U.S. had to go into lockdowns.
23rd Oct 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

WHO: Countries on ‘dangerous track’ in COVID-19 pandemic

Too many nations, particularly in the northern hemisphere, seeing an exponential increase in coronavirus cases, with hospitals and intensive care units running close to capacity, WHO chief says.
23rd Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Roche and Atea link up for oral COVID-19 drug; UK to test coronavirus vaccine T cell responses

Swiss pharma giant Roche has partnered with Atea Pharmaceuticals to develop an antiviral oral treatment for COVID-19. The two companies will jointly develop, manufacture and distribute AT-527, Atea’s investigational oral antiviral for the potential treatment of COVID-19. According to Roche, AT-527 blocks the viral RNA polymerase enzyme required for viral replication. It is currently being studied in a phase 2 study for the treatment of patients hospitalised with moderate COVID-19. In the first quarter of 2021, a phase 3 clinical trial is expected to launch testing AT-527 as a potential therapy for COVID-19 patients outside a hospital setting. The drug could also be developed for the post-exposure prophylactic settings, added Roche.
22nd Oct 2020 - PMLive.com

Japan researchers show masks block coronavirus, but not perfectly

Japanese researchers have shown that masks can offer protection from airborne coronavirus particles, but even professional-grade coverings can’t eliminate contagion risk entirely. Scientists at the University of Tokyo built a secure chamber with mannequin heads facing each other. One head, fitted with a nebulizer, simulated coughing and expelled actual coronavirus particles. The other mimicked natural breathing, with a collection chamber for viruses coming through the airway. A cotton mask on the receiver head reduced its viral uptake by up to 40% compared with no mask. An N95 mask, used by medical professionals, blocked up to 90%. However, even when the N95 was fitted to the face with tape, some virus particles still managed to get in. When a mask was attached to the coughing head, cotton and surgical masks blocked more than 50% of the virus transmission.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Japan Times

Coronavirus vaccine may not be available until Spring next year, says top UK scientist

A lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine will not be available until Spring next year, according to the UK Government 's top scientist. Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that while there has been “remarkable” progress made around the world, vaccines will not be in widespread use until some time next year. He said it was too early to speculate about how effective a vaccine might be, but said the aim would be for a vaccine to allow the “release” of measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing. He said: “That’s got to be an aim that we would all wish for and that’s why so many companies around the world are working on vaccines and why there has been such remarkable progress.
22nd Oct 2020 - Daily Record

Increase medical workforce to tackle covid-19 backlog, doctors' leaders urge

The NHS will not be able to meet the demands of the covid-19 pandemic and a potential second wave without more staff, doctors’ leaders have warned. In a report1 published on 19 October, the BMA, with support from medical royal colleges, said that medical workforce numbers—including consultants—must increase to overcome the backlog of work from the pandemic, reduce NHS waiting lists and waiting times, and restore activity to previous levels. To do this, medical school, foundation training programme, and specialty trainee numbers must be increased, the report said. The report set out a range of short and medium term solutions to tackle consultant shortages and meet the demands of the pandemic. Among the suggested short term measures were making the most effective use of retired doctors who would like to return to work. “During the first peak of the pandemic, 28 000 doctors made themselves available to return to work,” the report said, “but only a small proportion of them were eventually deployed.”
19th Oct 2020 - The BMJ


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 23rd Oct 2020

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Sewage can reveal COVID outbreaks, UK project finds

Traces of COVID-19 can be successfully detected in sewage, helping to give health officials an early warning of local outbreaks of the virus, the British government said on Friday. A project, originally launched in June, has now proved that fragments of genetic material from the virus can be detected in waste water, indicating if a local community or institution is experiencing a spike in cases. The government said this would allow health officials to identify large outbreaks especially where there were carriers not displaying any symptoms and to encourage people to get tested or take precautions.
23rd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

'It has been a trauma': nurses on 'shambolic' 111 Covid-19 clinical service

Ten nurses who worked for the NHS 111 Covid-19 Clinical Assessment Service have come forward to blow the whistle on their unit’s organisation, describing it as shambolic, and lacking in adequate training and safeguards. The nurses, who had retired or left the NHS after many years’ experience, were recruited to the CCAS, a new national division of NHS 111, after the health secretary, Matt Hancock, urged doctors and nurses to return and work on the response to the pandemic. The former CCAS nurses came forward to talk about their experiences after it was revealed that an audit had found that 60% of calls to patients, by nurses and allied healthcare professionals (AHPs), had not been safe.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Efficacy of Tocilizumab in Patients Hospitalized with Covid-19

Tocilizumab was not effective for preventing intubation or death in moderately ill hospitalized patients with Covid-19. Some benefit or harm cannot be ruled out, however, because the confidence intervals for efficacy comparisons were wide.
22nd Oct 2020 - nejm.org

The false promise of herd immunity for COVID-19

Epidemiologists have repeatedly smacked down such ideas. “Surrendering to the virus” is not a defensible plan, says Kristian Andersen, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Such an approach would lead to a catastrophic loss of human lives without necessarily speeding up society’s return to normal, he says. “We have never successfully been able to do it before, and it will lead to unacceptable and unnecessary untold human death and suffering.” Despite widespread critique, the idea keeps popping up among politicians and policymakers in numerous countries, including Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. US President Donald Trump spoke positively about it in September, using the malapropism “herd mentality”. And even a few scientists have pushed the agenda. In early October, a libertarian think tank and a small group of scientists released a document called the Great Barrington Declaration. In it, they call for a return to normal life for people at lower risk of severe COVID-19, to allow SARS-CoV-2 to spread to a sufficient level to give herd immunity. People at high risk, such as elderly people, it says, could be protected through measures that are largely unspecified. The writers of the declaration received an audience in the White House, and sparked a counter memorandum from another group of scientists in The Lancet, which called the herd-immunity approach a “dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”3.
22nd Oct 2020 - Nature.com

Huawei phones to get their own version of NHS Covid-19 app

The NHS Covid-19 app has been submitted to Huawei's app store. The move will initially mean that users of Huawei's older handsets will be able to download it from the firm's App Gallery as an alternative to the Google Play store. But it potentially paves the way for the contact-tracing software to come to the Chinese firm's newer handsets too. Huawei indicated that this might happen as soon as November. But others have stressed there are hurdles to overcome. The app - which is designed for use in England and Wales - has already been downloaded more than 18 million times from Apple and Google's own stores. All of Huawei's existing phones are powered by Android.
22nd Oct 2020 - BBC

A Sustainable Alternative to Blanket Lockdowns

As cities around the world—including Auckland, Jakarta, Melbourne and Tel Aviv—have entered seemingly endless cycles of lockdowns and viral resurgences, there is a pressing need to reassess this lockdown strategy given the economic, social and psychological damage it wreaks. Blanket lockdowns may be effective, but they are blunt and brutal tools. As this pandemic wears on, possibly for months or even years to come, we need a sustainable alternative that involves more targeted measures that are evidence-based and data-driven.
22nd Oct 2020 - Scientific American

Lockdown made life worse for two in five children, NHS report says

Two in five children aged 11 to 16 feel the coronavirus lockdown has made their lives worse, an NHS report on mental health suggests. They said their biggest anxieties were about missing school and family and friends contracting Covid-19. Mental disorders have risen in boys and girls since 2017 and now affect 16% of children, a large survey suggests. The children's commissioner for England said the increase was "extremely alarming". Anne Longfield said a properly-funded children's mental health service was needed and every school should have its own NHS-funded counsellor. Mental health charities say the pandemic has put a huge strain on children, parents and carers.
22nd Oct 2020 - BBC

'Call for data on Covid-19 health impacts'

New Zealand has not released any analysis about the negative health impacts of the Covid-19 elimination and lockdown policy. This is highlighted this week, by a study released in the UK this week which indicates that their lockdowns are responsible for thousands of deaths and new illnesses, principally as a result of delayed cancer diagnoses. The only known study of lockdown health impacts in New Zealand was of a Dunedin primary health clinic, where referrals and tests had dropped 100% and 99% respectively. Anecdotal evidence provided to the Covid Plan B group is that referrals and tests may be down across the country by two thirds. Auckland District Health Board is also investigating after four women died during and after pregnancy this year, with three dying since alert level 3 was instituted in late March. Expected numbers of deaths are between 0 and one from previous years. Evidence provided from affected individuals indicate illnesses and health prognosis have worsened due to delayed tests and treatment. Whether these cases represent a wider problem is not known. Dr Simon Thornley, spokesman for Covid Plan B, said the Government’s elimination and lockdown policy was based on hope, because little analysis of the downsides of the policy has been carried out.
22nd Oct 2020 - Voxy

Gilead’s remdesivir first to win US approval to treat COVID-19

The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug Veklury – better known as remdesivir – for the treatment of COVID-19, the company announced Thursday. Veklury is the brand name for remdesivir, which was previously authorised by the FDA for emergency use to treat patients who have been hospitalised with COVID-19. Gilead becomes the first and only company to receive approval for a COVID-19 treatment in the US,
22nd Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Spike in South Korea flu shot deaths fuels vaccine doubts

At least 13 South Koreans have died after receiving flu shots in recent days, according to official and local media reports, fuelling doubts about vaccine safety even as authorities rule out a link and as global efforts to find a vaccine against COVID-19 intensify. Health authorities said on Wednesday there were no plans to suspend the programme to vaccinate approximately 19 million people for free after a preliminary investigation into six deaths found no direct connection with the drug they had received.
22nd Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Remdesivir: US regulators approve first drug to treat Covid-19

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first drug to treat Covid-19: remdesivir, an antiviral medicine given through an IV for patients needing hospitalization. The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc is calling Veklury, cut the time to recovery from 15 days to 10 on average in a large study led by the US National Institutes of Health. It had been authorized for use on an emergency basis since spring, and now has become the first drug to win full US approval for treating Covid-19. Gilead says Veklury is approved for people at least 12 years old and weighing at least 88lb (40kg) who need hospitalization for their coronavirus infection. It works by inhibiting a substance the virus uses to make copies of itself.
22nd Oct 2020 - The Guardian

UK PM Johnson says COVID trace scheme needs improvement after new low

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday England’s test and trace scheme needed improvement after a record low proportion of contacts of positive COVID-19 cases were reached in the latest weekly figures. Just 59.6% of contacts of positive COVID cases were reached between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14, statistics for England’s Test and Trace scheme showed - compared with the 80% target - with turnaround times for people receiving their results also getting slower. “I share people’s frustrations and I understand totally why we do need to see faster turnaround times and we do need to improve it,” Johnson said at a news conference.
22nd Oct 2020 - Reuters UK


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 22nd Oct 2020

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AstraZeneca, J&J could resume COVID vaccine trials this week

Moncef Slaoui, the head of Operation Warp Speed, said he expects the U.S. trials of vaccines made by AstraZeneca Plc and Johnson & Johnson to restart as soon as this week. The two companies developing Covid-19 vaccines backed by Operation Warp Speed temporarily halted their trials because participants fell ill, slowing down the race for a shot to halt the pandemic. J&J paused its trial last week when a participant got sick. AstraZeneca’s trial paused last month after a woman in the U.K. study developed neurological symptoms and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has yet to clear the study to resume in the U.S.
22nd Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Next up in hunt for COVID-19 vaccine: Testing shots in kids

The global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine for kids is only just beginning — a lagging start that has some U.S. pediatricians worried they may not know if any shots work for young children in time for the next school year. Older adults may be most vulnerable to the coronavirus, but ending the pandemic will require vaccinating children, too. Last week, Pfizer Inc. received permission to test its vaccine in U.S. kids as young as 12, one of only a handful of attempts around the world to start exploring if any experimental shots being pushed for adults also can protect children. “I just figured the more people they have to do tests on, the quicker they can put out a vaccine and people can be safe and healthy,” said 16-year-old Katelyn Evans, who became the first teen to get an injection in the Pfizer study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Multiple vaccine candidates are in final-stage studies in tens of thousands of adults, and scientists are hopeful that the next few months will bring evidence that at least some of them are safe and effective enough for widespread use.
21st Oct 2020 - The Independent

Volunteer in Oxford COVID-19 vaccine trial has died, Brazil health authority says

Brazilian health authority Anvisa said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but added that the trial would continue. Oxford confirmed the plan to keep testing, saying in a statement that after careful assessment "there have been no concerns about safety of the clinical trial." AstraZeneca declined to comment immediately. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the trial would have been suspended if the volunteer who died had received the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting the person was part of the control group that was given a meningitis jab.
21st Oct 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

COVID-19 vaccines will be stored in secret locations to prevent theft

Vaccine candidate Pfizer Inc. is among the vaccine makers that will have GPS software on shipments. The company is also planning to carry out fake shipments in dummy trucks in a bid to confuse any potential thieves. The safeguards are being put in place amid concerns that the highly-awaited vaccines could be stolen when being distributed. Health authorities fear criminal rings will try and steal the vaccine when it is being given to prioritized groups and before it is made publicly available. Moderna, another maker, says it has enhanced security as the leading candidates inch closer to having a vaccine
21st Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

World could get a Covid-19 vaccine in the next few months but the virus will exist 'forever'

SAGE member Professor John Edmunds said a vaccine may come this winter But he told MPs it would only manage the virus because it was not going away Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's top scientist, says a vaccine before 2021 is possible Number 10 has already bought 340million doses of various jabs in preparation
21st Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Urgent appeal for plasma donations from Covid-19 survivors

People from Greater Manchester who have had the coronavirus are being urged to register as blood plasma donors to save lives. They can donate their antibody-rich plasma which could help those who are seriously ill with Covid-19 to survive. Around 1,700 donations have been made in Manchester so far, at the donor centre in Norfolk House and Plymouth Grove. People can register as online donors. Around 70 people have received transfusions of plasma at hospitals in Greater Manchester since the treatment began in April. NHS Blood and Transplant is collecting blood plasma for coronavirus treatment - known as convalescent plasma - around the country. The neutralising antibodies in the plasma could stop the virus spreading.
21st Oct 2020 - Manchester Evening News

Sir David Attenborough says Covid-19 is 'threat to environment'

Sir David Attenborough said the Covid-19 pandemic was a threat to the environment as politicians deal with the crisis instead of climate change. The naturalist and broadcaster expressed his fears to environmental activist Greta Thunberg at a virtual wildlife film festival in Bristol. The 94-year-old said Thunberg had given the world hope by energising young people to fight for the environment. The teenager also praised Sir David's new film A Life On Our Planet. Sir David said several international climate conferences had been cancelled because of Covid-19. "I am worried that people will take their eyes off the environmental issue because of the immediate problems they have on Covid-19," he said.
21st Oct 2020 - BBC

Research to understand COVID-19 spread on public transport

A major scientific study has been launched to understand the risks of COVID-19 transmission on buses and trains - and to identify the best measures to control it. Led by the University of Leeds and with support from the Department for Transport and several transport organisations, the investigation will involve taking air and surface samples on parts of the transport network to measure background levels of the coronavirus. The researchers will develop detailed simulations of the way the virus could potentially spread through airflow, from touching contaminated surfaces and from being close to someone infected with the virus.
21st Oct 2020 - University of Leeds

Suicidal thoughts increased among UK population during lockdown, study finds

One in 10 people had experienced suicidal thoughts by the end of the first six weeks of lockdown, according to new research. The study, which looked at three “waves” of lockdown between March 31 and May 11, found the restrictions had a major impact on the UK population’s mental health. It found young people, women, those from more socially disadvantaged backgrounds and individuals with pre-existing mental health problems reported the worst mental health outcomes in the initial phase of the national restrictions. The research, led by the University of Glasgow, found suicidal thoughts increased over the first six weeks of lockdown, with one in 10 people reporting them (9.8%) by the end of this period.
21st Oct 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Coronavirus: UK faces second peak at Christmas, SAGE adviser warns

But they are still a far-cry from the true numbers seen during the peak of the first Covid-19 wave in the spring. Deaths are also rising in line with the growing outbreak, with today's figure a 40% rise on the 137 last week. Professor John Edmunds was questioned by MPs on the Science & Technology Committee this morning. He said Government 'not being as cautious as I would like' and he would not use the same strategy. Warned 'we're looking at very high numbers of deaths' and a 'severe' peak of cases at Christmas. 'Nobody expects' Tier Three lockdowns to get R rate below one, he said, so they will only stabilise outbreaks
21st Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

India is facing a double health threat this winter: pollution and the pandemic

A familiar scene is taking place in northern India. Vast fields burn, flames engulfing bare stalks of already-harvested crops. Billowing smoke travels across state borders. In towns and cities, the air is thick with yellow haze. Stubble burning, the practice of intentionally setting fire to cultivated fields to prepare the land for its next crop, is one of the chief drivers of India's so-called annual pollution season, which begins each winter. It is especially bad in cities like the capital New Delhi, where smog from the burning crop fields, vehicular emissions, power plants, construction sites, and smoke from Diwali firecrackers combine to create a toxic cloud that lingers until spring.
21st Oct 2020 - CNN

What South Africans must do to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections

South Africa's stringent lockdown earlier this year may have saved lives by containing the spread of COVID-19. New COVID-19 infections have been declining and lockdown restrictions relaxed. But this has triggered fears of a new wave of infections.
21st Oct 2020 - Medical Xpress

What South Africans must do to avoid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections

South Africa’s stringent lockdown earlier this year may have saved lives by containing the spread of COVID-19. New COVID-19 infections have been declining and lockdown restrictions relaxed. But this has triggered fears of a new wave of infections. Several countries have experienced a spike in infections following the easing of harsh lockdown measures. These include South Korea, Canada, Spain and the UK. Health systems are once again becoming overwhelmed, and countries have resorted to stringent lockdown measures once again. The new round has been characterised by increases in cases – mostly driven by infections among younger groups – but not necessarily increased deaths.
21st Oct 2020 - The Conversation CA

Covid: Lockdown had 'major impact' on mental health

Lockdown had a major impact on the UK's mental health, including increased rates of suicidal thoughts, according to new research. The study, led by the University of Glasgow, examined the effects of Covid-19 during the height of the pandemic. Certain groups are said to be particularly at risk, including young people and women. The Department of Health in England said it was increasing investment in mental health services.
21st Oct 2020 - BBC

newsGP - Pandemic's mental health impact on young people a 'national crisis'

One in two. That is the number of young people that were unable to carry out their daily activities due to a decline in wellbeing, up from two in five in 2018. That is among the findings from headspace’s 2020 National Youth Mental Health Survey of more than 1000 Australians aged 12–25. Conducted between 25 May and 21 June, when much of the country was in or emerging from enforced lockdown restrictions, the research has confirmed concerns over the pandemic’s impact on the wellbeing and mental health of young Australians. The survey found that psychological distress among young people remains high, with one-third (34%) reporting high or very high levels of distress, particularly among 15–17-year-old young men, at 29% up from 20% in 2018.
21st Oct 2020 - RACGP

Australia Covid-19 quarantine blood-testing blunder prompts calls for hundreds to take HIV test

More than 200 former residents of coronavirus quarantine facilities in Australia are being urged to test for blood-transmitted diseases, including HIV, after authorities admitted they used the same blood-testing devices for multiple guests. It's the latest in a series of Covid-19 setbacks to hit the country and the state of Victoria in particular. Earlier breaches at Victoria quarantine hotels led to a Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne, prompting the country's second biggest city to spend months under a strict lockdown. In a statement Monday, Victorian health agency, Safer Care Victoria, said it was contacting 243 people who had a blood glucose level test before August 20 as there was a risk of cross-contamination and blood-borne viruses, including HIV.
21st Oct 2020 - CNN

UK doctor praises NZ's COVID-19 approach, says it's too late for them

A UK doctor has praised New Zealand's COVID-19 approach on locking down the country early and says he's disappointed with the situation in the UK. With more than 700,000 confirmed cases so far, Dr Asad Khan, Respiratory Physician at Manchester Hospital says it's been a "very very difficult time". "We have quite a number of acute hospitals here and some of them are already full," he told The Project on Wednesday. "We have fewer than the normal number of doctors that we'd have at this time of the year, and that's because a number of them are off with COVID or they are having to self isolate because they have been in contact with COVID."
21st Oct 2020 - Newshub

What NZ can learn from Taiwan about pandemic preparedness

New Zealand’s approach to the Covid-19 pandemic won international acclaim after measures such as border closures, widespread testing and initiating a historic nationwide lockdown helped eliminate the deadly virus from within our midst. But it’s the proactive stance adopted by another island nation some 9000 kilometres away that has been singled out as the “most effective and least disruptive of any country” in the world. Taiwan’s pandemic response is lauded in a study involving Otago University researchers in Wellington published in The Lancet Regional Health: Western Pacific medical journal on Wednesday night.
21st Oct 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Volunteer in Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trial dies in Brazil - but scientists say there are NO safety concerns and trial will continue

A volunteer in the Brazilian arm of AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford's coronavirus vaccine trial has died. He was confirmed to be Dr João Pedro R. Feitosa, a 28-year-old from Rio De Janeiro, who passed away on October 15 from COVID-19 complications. Reports say he was not part of the group that received the experimental jab. Oxford and Brazilian health authority Anvisa say testing will continue and that there are no safety concerns. The news comes as the FDA keeps the US arm of AstraZeneca's trial on hold after a British patient developed a rare spinal complication.
21st Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

CDC updates its guidelines for close Covid-19 contact after prison guard gets infected

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its definition of a close contact with a Covid-19 patient to include multiple, brief exposures, after a Vermont prison worker appears to have been infected that way, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Wednesday. The new definition includes exposures adding up to a total of 15 minutes spent six feet or closer to an infected person. Previously, the CDC defined a close contact as 15 minutes of continuous exposure to an infected individual. The agency changed the definition after a report from Vermont of a corrections officer who became infected after several brief interactions with coronavirus-positive inmates -- none of them lasting 15 minutes, but adding up over time.
21st Oct 2020 - CNN

Brazil COVID-19 vaccine trial continues after volunteer dies

Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died, but said the trial would continue. It was not immediately clear whether the volunteer received the vaccine or the placebo.
21st Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Number of Covid deaths in Britain could have been HALVED by imposing lockdown earlier, report claims

Professor Andrew Harvey said lockdown on March 19 would have halved deaths This suggests between 21,900 and 29,400 deaths could have been avoided His calculations support those of Professor Neil Ferguson in June A lockdown on March 23 is considered a key failure of the Government They had been given predictions of 500,000 deaths nine days before lockdown
20th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Oct 2020

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UK plans to infect healthy volunteers in COVID-19 research trials

Researchers in the United Kingdom are preparing to infect healthy young volunteers with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, becoming the first scientists to use the controversial technique to study the disease and potentially speed up the development of a vaccine that could help end the pandemic. The UK government said on Tuesday that it will invest 33.6 million British pounds ($43.5m) in the Human Challenge Programme in partnership with Imperial College London, laboratory and trial services company hVIVO, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
20th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

What are the treatment options for COVID-19?

What are the treatment options for COVID-19? There are several, and which one is best depends on how sick someone is. For example, steroids such as dexamethasone can lower the risk of dying for severely ill patients. But they may do the opposite for those who are only mildly ill. In the United States, no treatments are specifically approved for COVID-19 but a few have been authorized for emergency use and several more are being considered. A panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health updates guidelines as new studies come out. Here’s what’s advised for various patients: -- Not hospitalized or hospitalized but not needing extra oxygen: No specific drugs recommended, and a warning against using steroids.
20th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Efficacy, politics influence public trust in COVID-19 vaccine

If an initial COVID-19 vaccine is about as effective as a flu shot, uptake by the American public may fall far short of the 70% level needed to achieve herd immunity, new Cornell research suggests. In surveys of nearly 2,000 American adults, barely half said they would be willing to take a hypothetical vaccine with an efficacy, or effectiveness, of 50% - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's minimum threshold for a COVID-19 vaccine, and comparable to flu vaccines. Vaccine acceptance increased by 10 percentage points, to 61%, if its effectiveness increased to 90%, making efficacy among the most important factors in Americans' willingness to adopt a COVID-19 vaccine, the research found. "Our results suggest that 50% efficacy will lead to significant vaccine hesitancy," said Douglas Kriner, professor of government at Cornell. "We might not get enough people to take it at that level, even though it would be a valuable public health intervention."
20th Oct 2020 - EurekAlert!

Exclusive: AstraZeneca U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Trial May Resume as Soon as This Week - Sources

AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States is expected to resume as early as this week after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completed its review of a serious illness, four sources told Reuters. AstraZeneca's large, late-stage U.S. trial has been on hold since Sept. 6, after a participant in the company's UK trial fell ill with what was suspected to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis. The sources, who were briefed on the matter but asked to remain anonymous, said they have been told the trial could resume later this week. It was unclear how the FDA would characterize the illness, they said.
20th Oct 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

UK plans COVID-19 "challenge" trials that deliberately infect volunteers

Britain will help to fund trials using a manufactured COVID-19 virus to deliberately infect young healthy volunteers with the hope of accelerating the development of vaccines against it.
20th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Patients who had more severe COVID-19 may be the best donors for convalescent plasma therapy: Study links stronger antibody responses to more severe disease, as well as more advanced age and male sex

Sex, age, and severity of disease may be useful in identifying COVID-19 survivors who are likely to have high levels of antibodies that can protect against the disease, according to a new study co-led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The findings suggest that older males who have recovered from COVID-19 after having been hospitalized are strong candidates for donating plasma for treating COVID-19 patients. Doctors have been using infusions of plasma -- the part of blood that contains antibodies -- from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat COVID-19 patients and also as a possible prophylaxis to prevent COVID-19. Doctors have used convalescent plasma to treat patients or immunize persons at high risk of virus exposure during outbreaks of measles, mumps, polio, Ebola, and even the 1918 pandemic flu.
20th Oct 2020 - Science Daily

We May Never Know the Full Story of COVID-19

Because of changes in China and the United States, reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak is more challenging. For a few weeks in January and February, journalists in Wuhan, some of them ordinary citizens, told the world what was happening at great personal risk. Then, in March, Chen Qiushi, one citizen journalist who wrote critical stories of the Chinese government’s initial handling of the outbreak, simply vanished. Chinese journalists and scientists have since been wary of speaking out. And very few Westerners have managed to report from Wuhan. We haven’t definitively learned much more about the origins of the disease since those first reports last year: Who was the index patient? Where does the host species reside? What species was the intermediary, if there was one? In other words, the answers to the journalistic questions who, what, when, and where.
20th Oct 2020 - The Atlantic

COVID-19 shielding measures on hold in England

Shielding measures will not be reintroduced in England although those considered “clinically extremely vulnerable” should take practical steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19. The Department of Health and Social Care said it will write to people who have increased vulnerabilities with tips on how they can keep safe.
20th Oct 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

Could certain COVID-19 vaccines leave people more vulnerable to the AIDS virus?

Certain COVID-19 vaccine candidates could increase susceptibility to HIV, warns a group of researchers who in 2007 learned that an experimental HIV vaccine had raised in some people the risk for infection with the AIDS virus. These concerns have percolated in the background of the race for a vaccine to stem the coronavirus pandemic, but now the researchers have gone public with a “cautionary tale,” in part because trials of those candidates may soon begin in locales that have pronounced HIV epidemics, such as South Africa. Some approved and experimental vaccines have as a backbone a variety of adenoviruses, which can cause the common cold but are often harmless. The ill-fated HIV vaccine trial used an engineered strain known as adenovirus 5 (Ad5) to shuttle into the body the gene for the surface protein of the AIDS virus. In four candidate COVID-19 vaccines now in clinical trials in several countries, including the United States, Ad5 similarly serves as the “vector” to carry in the surface protein gene of SARS-CoV-2, the viral cause of the pandemic; two of these have advanced to large-scale, phase III efficacy studies in Russia and Pakistan.
20th Oct 2020 - Science Magazine

Dr. Fauci reveals whether or not he thinks we need more coronavirus lockdowns

Despite a surge in new coronavirus cases, Dr. Fauci doesn’t believe we need a nationwide lockdown just yet. While the number of coronavirus cases jumped by 30% over the last two weeks, the death rate has remained steady. Fauci said the coronavirus pandemic would have to get much worse for him to recommend a nationwide shutdown.
20th Oct 2020 - BGR

Boris Johnson's three-tier lockdown system is 'the worst of all worlds' because it's inconsistent and makes rules more confusing, SAGE member warns

Professor Stephen Reicher said new system had been 'disastrous' on two fronts It failed at its main goal of making local Covid lockdown rules clearer, he claimed And a lack of transparency about why areas are chosen has frayed public trust
20th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

India could have more than 600 million coronavirus cases by February, says government panel

More than 600 million Indians, over half of the country’s population, are likely to have been infected with coronavirus by February 2021, an expert panel advising the Indian government has predicted. The estimate comes even as prime minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Tuesday, citing the country’s low fatality rate as evidence that “India is doing better than many other developed countries.” India has recorded more than 7.5 million Covid-19 cases and over 115,000 deaths, second in the world only to the US on 8.06 million cases and more than 218,000 deaths. But the latest mathematical model used by the Indian government’s expert panel on coronavirus suggests that in reality about 30 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people have antibodies - implying they have already been infected and recovered.
20th Oct 2020 - The Independent on MSN.com

Coronavirus: 'India must cut pollution to avoid Covid disaster'

India's dreaded pollution season has returned as air quality in the capital Delhi and other northern cities rapidly deteriorated in the last two weeks. This is bad news for India's fight against coronavirus because several studies around the world have linked air pollution to higher Covid-19 case numbers and deaths. A Harvard University study shows that an increase of only one microgram per cubic metre in PM 2.5 - dangerous tiny pollutants in the air - is associated with an 8% increase in the Covid-19 death rate. Another study by scientists at the UK's University of Cambridge also found a link between the severity of Covid-19 infection and long-term exposure to air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and ground-level ozone from car exhaust fumes or burning of fossil fuels.
20th Oct 2020 - BBC

Belgium may need to return to full COVID lockdown: virologist

Belgium will need to postpone all non-essential hospital procedures to deal with a surge in COVID-19 infections, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told lawmakers on Tuesday, days after warning of a COVID “tsunami” hitting the country. The nation of 11 million people had 816 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past week, according to official figures, second only to the Czech Republic in Europe, and has lost 10,443 people to the disease, among the world’s highest per capita fatality rates.
20th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Moderna CEO sees virus vaccine interim data in November: Report

Moderna Inc’s Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel expects interim results from its coronavirus vaccine trial in November and that the United States government could approve the drug for emergency use in December, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported. Speaking at the newspaper’s annual Tech Live conference, Bancel also said on Monday that if sufficient interim results from the study are delayed, government permission to use the vaccine may not come until next year.
20th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

This 14-year-old girl won a $25K prize for a discovery that could lead to a cure for Covid-19

As scientists around the world race to find a treatment for the coronavirus, a young girl among them stands out. Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year-old from Frisco, Texas, has just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge -- and a $25,000 prize -- for a discovery that could provide a potential therapy to Covid-19. Anika's winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. "The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon," Anika told CNN.
20th Oct 2020 - CNN

As FDA sets the stage for the first Covid-19 vaccine EUAs, some big players are asking for a tweak of the guidelines

Setting the stage for an extraordinary one-day meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the FDA has cleared 2 experts of financial conflicts to help beef up the committee. And regulators went on to specify the safety, efficacy and CMC input they’re looking for on EUAs, before they move on to the full BLA approval process. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel recently outlined his new timeline, looking to nail down interim efficacy and safety data by the second half of next month that could allow them to hunt an EUA — provided the data work. And Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has just shifted his stance on their EUA timing to a point just after the looming election, underscoring how the scene has continued to change in light of a heated partisan debate between a president who has repeatedly promised a quick OK and his political opponent, who’s waiting for a thumbs up from experts like NIAID chief Anthony Fauci before offering his own support.
20th Oct 2020 - Endpoints News

Roche CEO Warns Against High Hopes for Speedy Covid Vaccines

Many people’s hopes for a speedy coronavirus vaccine are still too high, Roche Holding AG Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan warned, adding to the chorus of drug industry leaders trying to temper expectations. It is “completely unrealistic” to expect a Covid-19 vaccine to be widely available by the end of this year, and most people probably won’t have access to a shot until the second half of 2021, Schwan said in an interview with Bloomberg TV anchor Francine Lacqua. Companies need time to test the candidates in enough people to be sure they’re safe and then scale up production, he said. Though Roche isn’t working on a coronavirus vaccine, it’s partnering with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on a potential treatment.
20th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 20th Oct 2020

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Doctors probe whether COVID-19 is causing diabetes

It’s already been well-documented that people with diabetes face much higher risks of severe illness or death if they contract COVID-19. In July, U.S. health officials found that nearly 40% of people who have died with COVID-19 had diabetes. Now, cases like Buelna’s suggest the connection between the diseases runs both ways. “COVID could be causing diabetes from scratch,” said Dr. Francesco Rubino, a diabetes researcher and chair of metabolic and bariatric surgery at King’s College London. Rubino is leading an international team that is collecting patient cases globally to unravel one of the biggest mysteries of the pandemic. Initially, he said, more than 300 doctors have applied to share cases for review, a number he expects to grow as infections flare up again.
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Over 60% of Covid-19 patients report fatigue and breathlessness 3 months after onset

From a dry cough to a fever, coronavirus is known to be associated with a range of unpleasant symptoms. Now, a new study has warned that several symptoms can persist for months. Researchers the University of Oxford have found that a large proportion of Covid-19 patients still experience breathlessness, fatigue, anxiety and depression up to 3 months after contracting the virus. In the study, the researchers analysed 58 coronavirus patients with moderate to severe Covid-18, as well as 30 uninfected controls from the community. The participants underwent MRI scans of their brain, lungs, heart, liver and key, as well as lung function tests, and assessments of their quality of live, cognitive and mental health.
19th Oct 2020 - The Mirror on MSN.com

People who have Covid-19 vaccine could still contract virus, warns doctor

A doctor has warned that people who have the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available could still contract the virus. Speaking to Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford on Monday’s This Morning, Dr Sara explained that the vaccine won’t work for everyone – and that we still need to be cautious. ‘In addition to Pfizer, we know that Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer has been reported as saying that he doesn’t think it’s unrealistic that we’ll be able to have the vaccine from the Oxford trial during December time,’ she began.
19th Oct 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Blanket Covid-19 restrictions across Scotland would be easier to communicate, argues public health expert

Professor Linda Bauld said introducing nationwide measures for up two or three weeks would be a “more straightforward” way of dealing with the crisis and having different rules for different areas risked division. Her remarks came after Nicola Sturgeon announced that Scotland would be introducing a “tiered” system of restrictions similar to that in operation south of the border when she unveils a new strategic framework for dealing with the virus later this month. In England, the tiered system has been designed to enable more severe measures to be imposed on the worst affected areas.
19th Oct 2020 - Press and Journal

‘Super antigens’ tied to mysterious COVID-19 syndrome in children

Thanks to months of urgent research, what began as a mysterious spectrum of symptoms has coalesced into a definable illness, with early signs that include fever, rashes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Though MIS-C is rare—with 1,027 confirmed cases in the U.S. so far—it can develop into severe inflammation in a matter of hours, often requires intensive care, and is sometimes fatal. A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed coronavirus fatalities in people under 21 and found that the majority were from MIS-C. “It happens so rapidly, and the kids are so ill, that 70 percent will require admission into an ICU,” says Alvaro Moreira, a physician scientist at the University of Texas in San Antonio who recently published an analysis of results from multiple scientific papers in EClinicalMedicine based on 662 cases of MIS-C.
19th Oct 2020 - National Geographic UK

Study led by Penn professor finds 206000 excess deaths across 21 countries due to COVID-19

An international team of researchers including a Penn professor found that excess deaths occurred at a rate of 18% across 21 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Penn sociology professor Michel Guillot and the team looked at data from 19 European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The team found that 206,000 more people died between mid-February and the end of May in comparison to a baseline simulation as if the pandemic had not occurred, Penn Today reported. The team did not look at the United States because data with enough details has yet to be released. The research accounted for not only deaths due to COVID-19 but also deaths that stemmed from compromised economic, social, and healthcare circumstances during the pandemic, Penn Today reported.
19th Oct 2020 - The Daily Pennsylvanian

Vaccine hopes drive stocks higher on 'Black Monday' anniversary

Global equities treaded water and the dollar slipped on Monday with Wall Street investors staying on the sidelines ahead of company earnings season while record daily coronavirus infections in Europe caused concern.
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Global coronavirus cases surpass the 40 million milestone

Worldwide coronavirus cases crossed 40 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere fuelled a resurgence in the spread of the disease. The Reuters tally is based on official reporting by individual countries. Experts believe the true numbers of both cases and deaths are likely much higher, given deficiencies in testing and potential under-reporting by some countries. The Reuters data shows the pace of the pandemic continues to pick up. It took just 32 days to go from 30 million global cases to 40 million, compared with the 38 days it took to get from 20 to 30 million, the 44 days between 10 and 20 million, and the three months it took to reach 10 million cases from when the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China, in early January.
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Covid vaccine will not be available in UK until spring, says Vallance

A vaccine against coronavirus will not eradicate the disease or be widely available before the spring, the government’s chief scientific adviser has cautioned, following reports that a jab could be available as early as the new year. Giving evidence to the joint Commons and Lords national security strategy committee, Sir Patrick Vallance said that before Covid, it had never taken less than about five years to develop a vaccine from scratch, with an average time of 10 years, but that new vaccine technologies had helped to shrink that timeframe. However, Vallance stressed that, while a number of vaccines had been shown to trigger antibodies, there was still a long way to go before a jab was widely available.
19th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

California says it will independently review coronavirus vaccine

A California panel of experts will independently review the safety of new coronavirus vaccines and initial plans for distribution, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday. The 11-person panel specializing in topics such as epidemiology, biostatistics, and infectious disease will review any vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration before it is distributed to state residents, Newsom told a news conference. “These are top health experts that will independently review any FDA-approved vaccines,” he said. “We will do our own independently reviewed process with our world-class experts that just happen to live here in the state of California.”
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters

France's Ose to enrol up to 400 for 'T-cell' coronavirus vaccine trials

France’s Ose Immunotherapeutics will enrol up to 400 patients for the first two stages of clinical trials of an experimental coronavirus vaccine it hopes will provide an extra weapon in battle against the global pandemic. Chief executive Alexis Peyroles told Reuters Ose hoped to roll out its vaccine in Europe and the United States in 2022, potentially at least a year after the most advanced projects. However, he said the different modus operandi of Ose’s candidate meant it could still play an important role. More than 40 drugmakers and research groups are conducting human trials into vaccines against a virus that has led to more than 1 million deaths and roiled economies.
19th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Indonesia's president says COVID vaccine must be halal

Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned his ministers Monday not to rush the launching of a novel coronavirus vaccine amid public concerns about whether it would be certified halal, or permissible under Islamic law. “We should consider public perception regarding the halal status of potential COVID-19 vaccines,” he said during a meeting. Controversy over whether vaccines adhere to Islamic principles has stymied public health responses before in Indonesia, including in 2018, when the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa or ruling declaring that a measles vaccine was haram, or forbidden under Islam. “Public communication regarding the halal status, price, quality and distribution must be well-prepared,” he added. Widodo said the next critical point is administering the vaccines to the public.
19th Oct 2020 - Anadolu Agency

Placebo doses to be slashed in one of coronavirus vaccine trials in Russia

On Monday, the clinical trials of the inactivated whole-virion coronavirus vaccine developed by the Chumakov Federal Scientific Center for Research and Development of Immune and Biological Products began in the regional center. According to Ishmukhametov, it is common practice that some participants get a placebo in the trials to determine a vaccine’s efficiency. "The trials include 300 people. Usually, if a new medicine is used, then the [vaccine-placebo ratio] is one to one, or 50% each. However, the moment comes in the pandemic when we need to reduce the number of people getting placebo, therefore, [it will be] one to two," he noted.
19th Oct 2020 - TASS

Serum Institute has begun manufacturing intranasal Covid vaccine: Harsh Vardhan

While there are three vaccine candidates against Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) being tested on humans in India, there is no intranasal vaccine candidate under trial currently, said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday. However, he also said that Serum Institute of India was manufacturing an intranasal vaccine candidate. The minister also said that Bharat Biotech has also entered in an agreement with Washington University School of Medicine to conduct trials to produce and market an intranasal vaccine
19th Oct 2020 - Hindustan Times

Spain: Cases surge over weekend, Navarra to lock down

As Spain saw its highest-ever weekend surge of new coronavirus infections on Monday, officials in one northern region announced they will enforce Spain’s first region-wide semi-lockdown. As of Thursday, Navarra will limit all non-essential movement in and out of the entire region, close bars and restaurants, and make all other businesses close their doors to customers by 9 p.m. These are the toughest measures taken by a regional government in Spain to curb the pandemic since its first wave. All other restrictions on movement so far have been limited to particular cities, not regions. With nearly 950 contagions per 100,000 people in the last two weeks, Navarra has Spain’s highest rate of contagion – nearly double that of Madrid. Its capital city Pamplona is especially hard-hit.
19th Oct 2020 - Anadolu Agency

India may see 2.6m COVID-19 cases a month if rules relaxed: Panel

An Indian scientific panel has said the onset of winter and upcoming festivals could lead to a significant rise of up to 2.6 million coronavirus cases a month if the rules in place to check the spread of the disease are relaxed. The government-appointed COVID-19 India National Supermodel Committee on Sunday said the country has crossed the coronavirus peak and forecast that the pandemic could be brought under control by early next year, provided all safety measures are followed.
19th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Coronavirus: 'More than one vaccine' will be available early in 2021, SAGE scientist says

More than one coronavirus vaccine will be available in the next three to six months, a government scientific adviser has told Sky News. Sir Jeremy Farrar, who sits on the SAGE committee, said: "I think in the first quarter of next year we will have vaccines - will have more than one vaccine." It is unlikely the jabs will be administered before Christmas, which Sir Jeremy thinks "will be tough this year" and "not like a normal Christmas for almost everybody".
18th Oct 2020 - Sky News

UK needs three-week lockdown for COVID reset - govt adviser

Britain needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown restrictions immediately to stop cases of COVID-19 spiralling, government scientific adviser Jeremy Farrar said, adding that current regional measures would not be effective. “The current tiered restrictions will not bring the transmission rates down sufficiently or prevent the continued spread of the virus,” he said. “A three-week period of nationally increased restrictions, with the right levels of financial support, will allow us to reset before winter, stop transmission spiralling, protect and prepare health services, give time to get the test-trace-isolate systems fully functional, and save lives,” he said.
18th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 19th Oct 2020

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Coronavirus: UK facing 'tough' Christmas, Sage scientist warns

Christmas is unlikely to be the "usual celebration" of "families coming together", a leading scientist has said. Jeremy Farrar, who sits on the Sage committee that advises the government, warned it would be a "tough" Christmas. The Wellcome Trust director also told Sky News there was "light at the end of the tunnel" as he believed a vaccine would be ready early in 2021. PM Boris Johnson has warned things will be "bumpy to Christmas and beyond". Earlier this week, Prof Farrar told BBC Newscast arguments between Westminster and local leaders were "very dangerous" and also that a circuit-breaker, or a short, limited lockdown, was needed now.
18th Oct 2020 - BBC

Why You Shouldn't Panic About Covid-19 Reinfection Yet

The first confirmed case of Covid-19 reinfection in the United States was announced this week. A 25-year-old Nevada man tested positive for the virus in April, recovered, then fell ill and tested positive again in June. His situation, which was described in a case report in The Lancet this week, has grabbed headlines for many reasons. The man was young and healthy with no underlying conditions. He not only contracted Covid-19 twice, but his subsequent infection was much more serious. He developed breathing problems and had to be hospitalised.
18th Oct 2020 - Huffington Post UK

Researchers hope Covid-19 testing programme developed in Norwich could be used across country

Scientists in Norwich who helped develop a Covid-19 testing programme are hoping to roll it out to other academic institutions. The Norwich Testing Initiative (NTI) was developed on the city's research park, and was a collaboration between the Earlham Institute, University of East Anglia, The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, the John Innes Centre, the Quadram Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory. The project was designed to identify the resources, facilities and expertise needed to run a regular testing programme on people not displaying symptoms. The Office for National Statistics has estimated that as many as 80% of cases are asymptomatic or presymptomatic. it was hoped the NTI would help keep prevent rapid virus spread.
18th Oct 2020 - ITV News

Germany’s ‘bottom-up’ testing keeps Covid-19 at bay

“It is much more expensive to test too little, than to test too much”. That is the mantra Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, has repeated for months as the country mobilised a vast network of private and public laboratories to quadruple its early Covid-19 testing capacity to almost 1.6m tests per week. Such early interventions helped the EU’s most populous state tame the coronavirus pandemic more successfully than most of its neighbours. Germany’s 361,000 infections represent just a fraction of the 4.5m in Europe so far, significantly lower than the 936,000 cases in Spain and the 708,000 cases in the UK, both of which have much smaller populations.
18th Oct 2020 - The Financial Times

Is tracking down every super spreader the REAL key to beating Covid-19? An approach that pinpoints the start of an outbreak may be twice as effective - as evidence shows just ...

As an average, R number masks differences in individuals and how virus behaves Studies suggest about one in five who catch Covid-19 gives it to someone else Scientists say 'super-spreaders' may be behind 80 per cent of all new infections If true, current tactic used by NHS Test and Trace is at best a waste of resources
18th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Scientists worry whether COVID-19 vaccine will make a difference with 51 percent saying won't take

'Operation Warp Speed' aims to deliver 300 million doses of a vaccine to Americans by January 2021. Hundreds of vaccines are in the pre-clinical testing phase, but only four are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials and some of them have run into problems. More than half of Americans in a recent poll say they won't get a shot High-profile personalities such as Elon Musk have also said they will not be taking the vaccine. It has fed the growth of the anti-vaxxer movement with many deciding not to take the jab along political party lines. Scientists worry that if fewer than 70 percent of the population receive the injection, herd immunity will not be reached and its effectiveness will be lost
18th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Most vulnerable 'could get vaccine by Christmas'

A Covid vaccine could be given to some of the most vulnerable people "this side of Christmas", according to the chairwoman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce. But limited supplies would mean the government would have to decide who should get it, and when. Kate Bingham also said a vaccine will not be "a silver bullet" that would allow life to get back to normal overnight. And she warned that it was unlikely to protect everyone from infection. Ms Bingham said she was optimistic that a vaccine would be found that would "protect some people from infection and can reduce the severity of symptoms". But she said it was "very unlikely" to be a single jab and that ongoing revaccination would be needed - probably every few years.
18th Oct 2020 - BBC

Covid-19: NHS trials drones to carry tests and equipment

An NHS drone is being used to carry Covid-19 samples, test kits and protective equipment between hospitals. The trial in Essex aims to establish a network of secure air corridors for drones to navigate via GPS. They will initially fly between Broomfield Hospital, Basildon Hospital and the Pathology First Laboratory in Basildon. The project is being funded through a share of a £1.3m grant from the UK Space Agency.
18th Oct 2020 - BBC

Hundreds queue in Yiwu, China for experimental Covid-19 vaccine

A city in eastern China has started offering a coronavirus vaccine to the general public - although it has not yet completed clinical trials. Hundreds of people have been queuing outside a hospital in Yiwu, where nurses are administering the injections for a fee of around $60 (£45).
18th Oct 2020 - BBC

UK faces tough Christmas during very difficult winter, Sage expert warns

It's now seven months since care homes first shut their doors, denying many residents not only the precious touch of loved ones but also the regular comfort of a song and dance, or a hair cut. Some are now facing the prospect of a winter isolated from their friends and families as a second wave of Covid-19 gives way to fresh restrictions. At the age of 89, Blumah Samuels still loves singing and dancing to the old classics. She used to dance around her care home's lounge, shaking a maraca to Carmen Miranda's I Like You Very Much. Now, Blumah - who has Parkinson's dementia - is simply "existing", says her daughter, Lesley Lightfoot, 61. Back in March, care homes - which house about 400,000 elderly people in the UK - shut their doors as the coronavirus pandemic surged. Their aim was to keep infections down by limiting the number of people who would regularly come into homes.
18th Oct 2020 - HeraldScotland.com

The Spanish Ministry of Health Publishes Todays Coronavirus Figures

Spain’s Ministry of Health has reported 15,186 new cases, 6,591 diagnosed in the last 24 hours and 222 deaths from coronavirus, on the worst recorded day of the crisis this week. In Spain, there are now a total of 936,560 confirmed cases, with 33,775 deaths being reported, according to the latest official data. It is worth remembering though that 26.939.337 people have recovered since the epidemic in Spain began. The president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has written to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and asked that all airports in EU member states with international traffic be governed by a “single regulation ”On the control measures for COVID-19. These “homogeneous protocols” would serve “to prevent the spread of the pandemic across borders,” says Díaz Ayuso.
18th Oct 2020 - Euro Weekly News

COVID-19 in Spain: a predictable storm?

The Spanish health system's four pillars—governance, financing, delivery, and workforce—were already fragile when they were overwhelmed by COVID-19 in March. A decade of austerity that followed the 2008 financial crisis had reduced the health workforce and public health and health system capacities. Health services are understaffed, under-resourced, and under strain. With 5·9 nurses per 1000 inhabitants, Spain has one of the lowest ratios in the EU (where the average is 9·3 per 1000), and too often relies on temporary contracts that can run for just a few days or weeks. Granular data surveillance is key for understanding and responding to an outbreak. For Sergi Trias-Llimós and colleagues, writing in The Lancet Public Health, the data currently published at the country and regional levels are insufficient to understand the dynamics of the epidemic. They call on authorities to provide comprehensive data updates on tests, cases, hospitalisations, intensive care unit admissions, recoveries, and deaths, all disaggregated by age, sex, and geography.
18th Oct 2020 - The Lancet

Are we near to having a vaccine for Covid-19?

In March, Boris Johnson said we would turn the tide in 12 weeks and “send the coronavirus packing” and by May ministers were boasting of having a vaccine by September. Last week the prime minister sounded far less confident, telling MPs that there was still no vaccine for SARS, 18 years after it emerged. A vaccine may not be far away though. Studies - The World Health Organization is tracking 196 vaccine studies. Of these, 42 are undergoing clinical trials on humans, and eight are in phase three: large-scale trials to test their effectiveness. AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have developed a vaccine based on a virus taken from chimpanzees, but the trial stopped for a week after one volunteer fell ill – it is continuing in the UK but not the US. Another, Novavax, is launching a larger phase three trial after a study of 10,000 volunteers in the UK.
18th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

British COVID-19 testing adviser calls for 'circuit-breaker' lockdown

A professor who has advised the British government on its COVID-19 testing programme said on Saturday a short nationwide lockdown was needed due to “eye-watering” levels of infection in parts of England. As a second wave of infections gathers pace, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has favoured local restrictions in areas where cases are surging - hoping to shield the economy by allowing the least-affected regions to remain open. Johnson reiterated on Friday his belief in a localised approach rather than a new, temporary national lockdown, even as half of the United Kingdom’s people live in places subject to enhanced COVID-19 restrictions.. But John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, said the current measures did not go far enough and called for a brief but strict national lockdown - known as a “circuit-breaker”.
18th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus UK: Senior Government advisor Sir John Bell says UK needs national lockdown

Sir John Bell, Oxford University professor of medicine, warned there is an 'eye-watering' number of cases. The senior Government adviser claimed only a national circuit-breaker lockdown would suppress the virus. Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, also indicated that he would support a second national shutdown Britain recorded 15,650 cases yesterday and 136 deaths as 28 million people were plunged into lockdown. London was moved into a Tier 2 lockdown last night, with police battling a protest in Soho last night
17th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

UK ‘sleepwalking’ to mental health crisis as pandemic takes its toll

Britain is sleepwalking into a mental health crisis as the government struggles to deal with the monumental effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Health experts and charities have told the Observer the coming winter will devastate the mental wellbeing of the nation as lockdown uncertainty, fear, isolation and loneliness are exacerbated by the colder and darker months ahead. In England, the Centre for Mental Health has predicted that up to 10 million people – almost a fifth of the population – will need mental health support as a direct consequence of Covid-19, with 1.5 million of those expected to be children and young people under 18. The effect on patients with pre-existing mental health problems and on those from underprivileged backgrounds is even greater, painting a bleak picture for those already suffering.
17th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Only around 1/3 of French respondents would take COVID-19 vaccine, Euronews poll shows

Only little more than a third of French respondents would take a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine, a Euronews-commissioned survey has revealed. France is among the worst-hit countries in Europe from the disease, with more than 33,000 deaths as of October 16. But just 37% of French people questioned would take a low-cost vaccine if it came available in the next year. This compares starkly to several of France's neighbours, where a majority say they would get vaccinated. Respondents in the United Kingdom were keenest, with 63% backing vaccination, followed by Germany (57%) and Italy (55%).
16th Oct 2020 - Euronews

Remdesivir and interferon fall flat in WHO's megastudy of COVID-19 treatments

One of the world’s biggest trials of COVID-19 therapies released its long-awaited interim results yesterday—and they’re a letdown. None of the four treatments in the Solidarity trial, which enrolled more than 11,000 patients in 400 hospitals around the globe, increased survival—not even the much-touted antiviral drug remdesivir. Scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) released the data as a preprint on medRxiv last night, ahead of its planned publication in The New England Journal of Medicine. Yet scientists praised the unprecedented study itself and the fact that it helped bring clarity about four existing, ”repurposed” treatments that each held some promise against COVID-19. “It’s disappointing that none of the four have come out and shown a difference in mortality, but it does show why you need big trials,” says Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust. “We would love to have a drug that works, but it’s better to know if a drug works or not than not to know and continue to use it,” says WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan.
16th Oct 2020 - Science Magazine

Pfizer may seek US green light to use COVID vaccine in late Nov

Pfizer Inc said on Friday it may file for United States authorisation of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with German partner BioNTech in late November, making it unlikely a vaccine will be available before the US election as President Donald Trump has promised. Pfizer said that it may say if the vaccine is effective as soon as this month based on its 40,000-person clinical trial but that it also needs safety data that will not be available until November at the earliest. The Pfizer news, published in a letter from its chief executive on its website, lifted the US stock market and the company’s shares. Shares were up slightly in rival vaccine maker Moderna Inc, which is close to Pfizer in its vaccine development. “So let me be clear, assuming positive data, Pfizer will apply for Emergency Authorization Use in the US soon after the safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November,” Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said.
16th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Covid: Row over regional rules 'damaging to public health', scientist warns

The row over England's three-tier regional Covid restrictions is "very damaging to public health", a scientist advising the government has warned. Talks between Westminster and local leaders over moving Greater Manchester and Lancashire to the toughest tier of rules are due to resume later. Manchester's Labour mayor said northern England had been treated with contempt. But Dr Jeremy Farrar warned making it a north-south or party political issue was "a very dangerous route". The Wellcome Trust director, who also sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told the BBC's Newscast podcast countries that had controlled the virus well so far - including South Korea and New Zealand - had a "national consensus about the way forward".
16th Oct 2020 - BBC


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 16th Oct 2020

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Covid-19: Scientists develop test for that can identify virus in five minutes

Scientists have developed a new rapid test for coronavirus that detects and identifies viruses in less than five minutes. The test, created by researchers from Oxford University’s department of physics, is able to differentiate Sars-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, from negative clinical samples. It is also able to tell it apart from other viruses such as flu and seasonal human coronaviruses, according to the study. Working directly on throat swabs from Covid-19 patients, without the need for genome extraction, purification or amplification of the viruses, the method starts with the rapid labelling of virus particles in the sample with short fluorescent DNA strands.
15th Oct 2020 - ITV News

Fauci says letting Covid-19 spread to achieve herd immunity is 'ridiculous'

Dr Anthony Fauci made the comments on GMA on Thursday when asked about the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration that was published earlier this week. He made the comments on Thursday when asked about the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration that was published earlier this week. The declaration, which was written by experts at Oxford, Harvard and Stanford, calls for the protection of people most at risk of dying from Covid-19. It argues that the rest of the population should be able to return to life as normal. Fauci said the declaration hides that fact that 30% of the population have underlying health conditions that make them more susceptible to Covid-19. It comes as the United States reached its highest number of daily Covid-19 infections in two months with more than 59,000 cases reported on Wednesday. Deaths, however, continue to trend downward nationally with an average of more than 700 Americans dying per day
15th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Early approval of a COVID-19 vaccine could stymie the hunt for better ones

Success in the push to find a COVID-19 vaccine at record-breaking speed could hand the world a new problem. The first vaccine to cross the finish line might be only marginally effective, yet it could become the enemy of the good—or even the great—candidates in the wings by disrupting ongoing studies. In all likelihood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other regulators will issue the first COVID-19 vaccine approval or emergency use authorization (EUA) for one vaccine while many other candidates have clinical trials still underway or in the planning. At that point, ongoing studies of any vaccine—including that first one—could become unethical because half the participants would get a placebo, at a time a vaccine with established efficacy will be available. “It’s a very vexing issue,” says Christine Grady, who heads the bioethics department at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, which organized a “grand rounds” webinar on the challenges last week.
15th Oct 2020 - Science Magazine

Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected more than 35 million people globally, with more than 1 million deaths recorded by WHO as of Oct 12, 2020. As a second wave of COVID-19 affects Europe, and with winter approaching, we need clear communication about the risks posed by COVID-19 and effective strategies to combat them. Here, we share our view of the current evidence-based consensus on COVID-19.
15th Oct 2020 - The Lancet

Lockdown was not effective strategy against Covid-19 in South Africa, new evidence suggests

Given the age demographics in African countries, and the existing data on those the disease affects most (primarily the elderly), Africa’s population would be less susceptible to Covid-19 than its counterparts in Europe and the USA. A hard lockdown was ...
15th Oct 2020 - IOL News

Did Lockdowns Lower Premature Births? A New Study Adds Evidence

Some public health researchers are seeing hints that the coronavirus pandemic might help solve a longstanding puzzle: What causes premature birth? Studies in Ireland and Denmark this summer showed that preterm births decreased in the spring during lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus in those countries. Anecdotally, doctors around the world reported similar drops. They speculated that reduced stress on mothers, cleaner air or better hygiene might have contributed. A large study from the Netherlands, published on Tuesday in The Lancet Public Health, has yielded even stronger evidence of an association between the lockdowns and a smaller number of early births.
15th Oct 2020 - The New York Times

UK doctors and health experts back Covid-19 'circuit breaker'

Hospital doctors and public health experts have backed growing calls for a “circuit breaker” to stem the resurgence of Covid-19 and protect the NHS, as fresh signs of a cabinet split emerged. As up to 95% of intensive care beds were reported to be full in some hospitals in Liverpool – half with coronavirus patients – growing concerns were raised about the NHS becoming overwhelmed. This week Liverpool said it would scale back non-urgent operations. Labour backed the idea of a circuit breaker – a short lockdown severing some social contact – on Tuesday but cabinet ministers are understood to be split over its effectiveness and the desire to protect the economy.
15th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Full lockdowns should be a 'very, very last resort' and can be avoided, WHO's Europe chief says

Europe is introducing more and more restrictive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus and lockdowns are the next possible step. Full-scale lockdowns should be a “very, very last resort.” Any national lockdowns must consider direct risks and “collateral damage” associated with the pandemic, such as the mental health impact and domestic violence.
15th Oct 2020 - CNBC

'Act now on lockdown' - Birmingham scientist calls for urgent restrictions

The Birmingham scientist who has set up the city's first testing lab for coronavirus has joined a clamour for tougher restrictions, saying we are at a critical moment. Prof Alan McNally, director of Birmingham University's world-class microbiology and infection institute, previously called for pubs, restaurants and gyms to shut and travel to be limited as part of lockdown moves to reduce infection spread. He is among the 80-plus international scientists and researchers to sign a letter published in today's The Lancet setting out the evidence for urgent action. The letter implores the Government to do more or risk continuing misery. The signatories condemn a "herd immunity" approach as "a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence".
15th Oct 2020 - Birmingham Post

Coronavirus: New Zealand's 'go hard and go early' COVID-19 response 'unprecedented internationally' - study

On March 14, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand's strategy in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic would be to "go hard and go early". Despite claims from her opponents we didn't, new research has found not only that we did, but we went the hardest and earliest of anyone. "The speed and intensity of the national response to limit the epidemic is unprecedented internationally," a new study published this week in prestigious medical journal The Lancet said. "It is likely this early, intense response, which also enabled relatively rapid easing while maintaining strict border controls, prevented the burden of disease experienced in other high-income countries with slower lockdown implementation."
15th Oct 2020 - Newshub

People with blood type O may have lower risk of Covid-19 infection and severe illness, studies suggest

People with blood type O may be less vulnerable to Covid-19 and have a reduced likelihood of getting severely ill from the virus, according to two new studies. The two independent studies, carried out by researchers in Denmark and Canada and published in the journal Blood Advances, found that individuals with blood types A and AB are most vulnerable to the disease. The research provides further evidence that a person's blood type may play a role in their susceptibility to coronavirus and could shed further light on why the illness proves deadly for some but others only experience mild symptoms, or none at all.
15th Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

University of Oxford scientists develop five-minute coronavirus test

Scientists from the University of Oxford have developed a five-minute coronavirus test. Researchers said the test could be used for mass testing programmes at airports and businesses. The university said it hoped to start product development of the testing device in early 2021 and have an approved device available six months afterwards. The device is able to detect the virus and distinguish it from other viruses with high accuracy, the researchers said in a pre-print study.
15th Oct 2020 - Evening Standard

Ending Covid-19 via herd immunity is 'a dangerous fallacy'

The concept of ending the Covid pandemic through herd immunity is “a dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence”, say 80 researchers in a warning letter published by a leading medical journal. The international signatories of the open letter in the Lancet say the interest in herd immunity comes from “widespread demoralisation and diminishing trust” as a result of restrictions being reimposed in many countries because of surging infections in a second wave. The suggestion that the way out is by protecting the vulnerable and allowing the virus to transmit among those less at risk is flawed, they say. “Uncontrolled transmission in younger people risks significant morbidity and mortality across the whole population. In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm the ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care.”
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Safety and Immunogenicity of Two RNA-Based Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates

The safety and immunogenicity data from this U.S. phase 1 trial of two vaccine candidates in younger and older adults, added to earlier interim safety and immunogenicity data regarding BNT162b1 in younger adults from trials in Germany and the United States, support the selection of BNT162b2 for advancement to a pivotal phase 2–3 safety and efficacy evaluation.
14th Oct 2020 - NEJM.org

Study shows nearly 90% of people are asymptomatic with COVID-19

The ‘silent transmission’ of COVID-19 is of huge concern as researchers have found nearly 90% of people with the condition do not have the symptoms. People who have a persistent cough, high temperature and lose their sense of smell or taste are being told to stay home to protect other people and stop the spread.
14th Oct 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

Coronavirus: UK may have 'missed the boat' for circuit breaker lockdown, govt scientist warns

The UK may have already "missed the boat" for a pre-planned lockdown, forcing the government to introduce emergency restrictions like the ones in March, a leading government scientific advisor has warned. Professor Graham Medley, who sits on the Scientific Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told journalists that a two-week "circuit breaker" lockdown could "buy time" to improve systems such as Test and Trace. But, he said, with coronavirus cases rising exponentially across the country, the UK might have run out of time to act pre-emptively.
14th Oct 2020 - Sky News

COVID-19 lockdowns averted tens of thousands of premature deaths related to air pollution

Lockdowns initiated to curb the spread of the coronavirus in China and Europe at the beginning of the pandemic improved air quality, averting tens of thousands of deaths in regions where air pollution has a significant impact on mortality, a new study shows. According to research published in The Lancet Planetary Health, scientists at the University of Notre Dame found that particulate matter concentrations in China dropped by an unprecedented 29.7 percent, and by 17.1 percent in parts of Europe, during lockdowns that took place between Feb. 1 and March 31 in China and Feb. 21 to May 17 in Europe. Particulate matter (PM2.5)—tiny airborne particles smaller than 1/10,000 of an inch in diameter—comes from various combustion-related sources including industrial emissions, transportation, wildfires and chemical reactions of pollutants in the atmosphere.
14th Oct 2020 - Phys.org

Coronavirus: How China is testing 9,000,000 people in five days

China is currently in the process of testing an entire city of 9 million people for coronavirus in five days. The country, which appears to have largely brought the virus under control, is mass testing in Qingdao after 12 new cases broke out there linked to a hospital treating patients from abroad. Six had symptoms and six did not. As of today more than 4.2 million tests have been carried out in the northern port city, with no new cases of Covid-19 found among the almost 2 million sets of results received so far. China has adopted an impressive mass testing process which has been seen nowhere else in the world.
14th Oct 2020 - Metro.co.uk


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 15th Oct 2020

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Blood test could help predict which Covid-19 patients are at greatest risk of critical illness

A blood test could help to pinpoint which coronavirus patients are most susceptible to falling critically ill, a new study has suggested. Researchers at the University of Southampton found that patients who have high levels of some cytokines, a group of proteins released into the blood in response to an infection, are at an increased risk of serious illness. This is because cytokines can, if they are overproduced, lead to hyper-inflammation, an immune system response that sometimes proves fatal. If scientists conclusively work out which proteins are responsible for hyper-inflammation among coronavirus patients, drugs could be used to block them, according to the study’s researchers.
14th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Kids may not be recommended for COVID-19 vaccination initially, U.S. CDC says

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that COVID-19 vaccines may not be initially recommended for children, when they become available. Children, who rarely have severe COVID-19 symptoms, have not yet been tested for any experimental coronavirus vaccine. The CDC said so far early clinical trials have only included non-pregnant adults, noting the recommended groups could change in the future as clinical trials expand to recruit more people. Pfizer has said it will enroll children, who are capable of passing on the virus to high-risk groups, as young as 12 in its large, late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial, while AstraZeneca has said a sub-group of patients in a large trial will test children between five to 12.
14th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Your Blood Type May Predict Your Risk For Severe COVID-19

There's more evidence that blood type may affect a person's risk for COVID-19 and severe illness from the disease. The findings are reported in a pair of studies published Oct. 14 in the journal Blood Advances. The findings suggest that people with A, B or AB blood may be more likely to be infected with COVID-19 than people with type O blood. Infection rates were similar among people with types A, B and AB blood.
14th Oct 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

Russia approves second COVID-19 vaccine after preliminary trials

Russia has granted regulatory approval to a second COVID-19 vaccine, according to its register of authorised medicines. A delighted President Vladimir Putin announced the news at a government meeting on Wednesday. The jab was developed by the Vector Institute in Siberia and completed early-stage human trials last month. However, results have not been published yet and a large-scale trial, known as Phase III, has not yet begun. "We need to increase production of the first and second vaccine," Putin said in comments broadcast on state TV. "We are continuing to cooperate with our foreign partners and will promote our vaccine abroad." The peptide-based vaccine, named EpiVacCorona, is the second to be licensed for use in Russia. There has been a placebo-controlled trial on 100 volunteers between 18 and 60 in Novosibirsk.
14th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Eli Lilly says other COVID-19 antibody drug trials ongoing after study halted for safety concern

Eli Lilly & Co LLY.N on Wednesday said other trials of its experimental coronavirus antibody therapy remain on track after a government-run study testing the treatment in hospitalized COVID-19 patients was paused due to safety concerns. Lilly said on Tuesday that an independent safety monitoring board requested a pause in the trial, called ACTIV-3, due to a potential safety issue. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is collaborating with Lilly on the trial, said the advisory board paused the trial after seeing a “difference in clinical status” between patients on Lilly’s drug on those who received a placebo, without providing further detail.
14th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Richard Quest: After recovering from Covid-19, I thought I was safe. Now my antibodies are waning

I recovered from Covid-19 back in April. I was fortunate: My symptoms, while nasty, were minor compared to others. I had the hacking dry cough and I was fatigued to the point where I would spend many hours on the sofa. But I never had breathing difficulties, nor required hospital treatment. Whenever the question of catching it again has come up since, I airily and hubristically said, "Oh, I've had it, and have antibodies to prove it." At least I did until Friday, when my third antibody test came back negative. I was in shock. Even though it's not clear antibodies do actually offer immunity, I had treated my previous AB positive tests as a shield I could wave, crying, "Been there. Done that. I'm OK." Rightly or wrongly. Now my precious protection had vanished.
14th Oct 2020 - CNN

Coronavirus: YouTube bans misleading Covid-19 vaccine videos

YouTube has pledged to delete misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines as part of a fresh effort to tackle Covid-19 misinformation. It said any videos that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities, such as the NHS or World Health Organization, will be removed. It follows an announcement by Facebook that it would ban ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated. However, that restriction will not apply to unpaid posts or comments. YouTube had already banned "medically unsubstantiated" claims relating to coronavirus on its platform. But it is now explicitly expanding the policy to include content relating to vaccines.
14th Oct 2020 - BBC

"Herd immunity is another word for mass murder," expert says

William Haseltine, Chair and President of ACCESS Health International, said he is " extremely concerned that the President is being advised by people who speak of herd immunity." Haseltine went on to say that if the virus is allowed to spread, as the Trump Administration is allegedly advocating, “we are looking at two to six million Americans dead – not just this year but every year.” “This is an unmitigated disaster for our country – to have people at the highest levels of our government countermanding our best public health officials,” Haseltine said. “We know this epidemic can be put under control. Other countries have done it. We are doing the opposite.”
14th Oct 2020 - CNN

Italian research shows low transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within schools

A team of scientists from Italy has recently conducted a study to investigate the incidence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among students attending Italian schools after reopening after COVID-19 lockdown. The findings reveal that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is low among younger students. The study is published on the medRxiv* preprint server.
14th Oct 2020 - News-Medical.Net

WHO Warning About Covid-19 Coronavirus Lockdowns Is Taken Out Of Context

As you can see, Nabarro said, “We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.” Note the word “primary” here. He did not say, “do not advocate lockdowns as a means of control of this virus.” Nabarro continued by saying, “The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.” Note the words “rather not do it” as opposed to “should not do it” or “will not do it.” Nabarro went on to describe how “lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer.” He added, “Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.” So basically, Nabarro was pointing out the potentially serious negative consequences of lockdowns. That, of course, makes sense. So, where exactly was the “reversal” of the WHO’s position? Did Nabarro actually “admit” something new? Not really. Again, pay attention to the words “primary” and “rather not do it.” Nabarro really never said that lockdowns should not be used at all and that everything should be opened now and kept open forever.
14th Oct 2020 - Forbes

A 'circuit breaker' in England will work only if test and trace is urgently reformed

In July, it all looked possible. England’s 12-week lockdown had reduced the number of positive cases. We could have continued to crush the R value, and built the infrastructure capable of snuffing out local outbreaks. But instead the government chose privatised call centres over community contact tracers. Our testing system, divorced from primary care, was too slow to identify cases. Those who did test positive were often uncertain about what should happen next. And in the absence of financial support, many households did not comply with isolation.
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus 'excess deaths': why England and Wales have been hardest hit in Europe – new study

To get through the COVID-19 pandemic, we need good information. One hugely important statistic is how many people have died from the disease in various countries. But it’s notoriously difficult to compare deaths in this way – each nation reports and counts deaths due to COVID-19 differently. A more promising approach is to measure “excess deaths”. The idea is pretty simple. You estimate how many deaths, from any cause, there would have been if there had been no pandemic. Then you count how many deaths there actually were. The difference between those numbers is the excess deaths. This is exactly what a major new study, published in Nature Medicine, has done for 21 countries.
14th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Spain, England and Wales top the list for coronavirus deaths in new study

A new study from Imperial College London looking at both the direct and indirect deaths caused by the pandemic puts England and Wales at the top of the ranks for per capita mortality, along with Spain. The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Nature Medicine, studied the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 21 industrialized countries, mainly in central and western Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand.
14th Oct 2020 - POLITICO

COVID-19 in New Zealand and the impact of the national response: a descriptive epidemiological study

1503 cases were detected over the study period, including 95 (6·3%) hospital admissions and 22 (1·5%) COVID-19 deaths. The estimated case infection rate per million people per day peaked at 8·5 (95% CI 7·6–9·4) during the 10-day period of rapid response escalation, declining to 3·2 (2·8–3·7) in the start of lockdown and progressively thereafter. 1034 (69%) cases were imported or import related, tending to be younger adults, of European ethnicity, and of higher socioeconomic status. 702 (47%) cases were linked to 34 outbreaks. Severe outcomes were associated with locally acquired infection (crude odds ratio [OR] 2·32 [95% CI 1·40–3·82] compared with imported), older age (adjusted OR ranging from 2·72 [1·40–5·30] for 50–64 year olds to 8·25 [2·59–26·31] for people aged ≥80 years compared with 20–34 year olds), aged residential care residency (adjusted OR 3·86 [1·59–9·35]), and Pacific peoples (adjusted OR 2·76 [1·14–6·68]) and Asian (2·15 [1·10–4·20]) ethnicities relative to European or other. Times from illness onset to notification and isolation progressively decreased and testing increased over the study period, with few disparities and increasing coverage of females, Māori, Pacific peoples, and lower socioeconomic groups.
14th Oct 2020 - The Lancet

Countries turn to rapid antigen tests to contain second wave of COVID-19

Countries struggling to contain a second wave of COVID-19 are turning to faster, cheaper, but less accurate tests to avoid delays and shortages that have hampered efforts to quickly diagnose and trace those infected.Germany, where infections jumped by 4,122 on Tuesday to a total of 329,453 cases, has gotten nine million so-called antigen tests a month that can give a result in minutes and cost around $ 7.75 each. This would, in theory, cover more than 10% of the population. The United States and Canada also buy millions of tests, as does Italy, whose recent tender for five million tests attracted bids from 35 companies. Switzerland, where new cases of COVID-19 are at record levels, is considering adding the tests to its national screening strategy. The German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) now recommends antigen testing to supplement existing molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which have become the standard for the assessment of active infections, but which have also suffered from shortages because the pandemic has overwhelmed laboratories and exceeded the production capacity of manufacturers.
14th Oct 2020 - France24


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 14th Oct 2020

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Poor numerical literacy linked to greater susceptibility to Covid-19 fake news

People with poor numerical literacy are more likely to believe Covid-19 misinformation, according to a survey conducted in five countries. Researchers at Cambridge University said the findings suggested improving people’s analytical skills could help turn the tide against an epidemic of “fake news” surrounding the health crisis. Five national surveys – reflecting national quotas for age and gender – were conducted this year to evaluate susceptibility to coronavirus-related misinformation and its influence on key health-related behaviours. The study found the most consistent predictor of decreased susceptibility to misinformation about Covid-19 was numerical literacy – the ability to digest and apply quantitative information broadly.
14th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Pfizer to start testing its Covid-19 vaccine in children as young as 12

Drugmaker Pfizer has plans to start testing its experimental coronavirus vaccine in children as young as 12, and parents have already expressed interest in enrolling their kids, the researcher leading the trial told CNN Tuesday. It will be the first coronavirus vaccine trial to include children in the United States. A team at Cincinnati Children's Hospital will begin vaccinating teenagers aged 16 and 17 this week, and will move to enroll 12-to 15-year-olds later, said Dr. Robert Frenck, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the hospital. The company confirmed on its website it has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to enroll children as young as 12 in its trial.
14th Oct 2020 - CNN

Harvard study finds patients with severe COVID-19 infections have protection up to four months

People who survive severe cases of the novel coronavirus may have immunity that is longer-lasting, a new study suggests. Researchers found antibodies levels remained high in patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 for up to four months. What's more, these antibodies were linked to other neutralizing antibodies that kill the virus on contact and stop it from reinfecting.
13th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

France launches flu vaccine campaign amid COVID-19 crisis

France launched a flu vaccine campaign Tuesday in an effort to avoid facing another epidemic peak as the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the country. French health authorities have issued official recommendations to prevent potential shortages of flu vaccine, which they fear might happen amid increased demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
13th Oct 2020 - The Independent

Doctors will trial whether vitamin D can protect people from Covid-19

Doctors will finally trial whether vitamin D can actually protect people from Covid-19 amid mounting evidence the 3p-a-day supplement could be a life-saver. Researchers from Queen Mary University of London will recruit 5,000 volunteers to take the vitamin for six months if they do not already take high doses. Experts will then assess whether participants are at less risk of catching the virus and developing a severe bout of the disease over the winter months.
13th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

J&J's late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial halted after 'unexplained illness' -

Johnson & Johnson has paused further dosing in its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial following an “unexplained illness” in a study participant. The company said it had voluntarily put the phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial on hold after the incident, the details of which are being kept under wraps. J&J is not saying whether the patient was given a placebo or the experimental vaccine, which is being developed by the company’s Janssen pharma unit.
13th Oct 2020 - pharmaphorum

Covid-19: training dogs to sniff out the virus

What does a disease smell like? Humans might not have the answer, but if they could talk, dogs might be able to tell us. Able to sniff out a range of cancers and even malaria, canines’ extraordinary noses are now being put to the test on Covid-19. Nicola Davis hears from Prof Dominique Grandjean about exactly how you train dogs to smell a virus, and how this detection technique could be used in managing the spread of Covid-19
13th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19: Are we still listening to the science?

Cases of Covid-19 are increasing across England and the number of people in hospital is now higher than before the full lockdown. It is at this critical moment that the gulf between the official scientific advice and the political decisions made by government has been laid bare. Documents released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) reveal a call to action three weeks ago. Prof Calum Semple, who was at the Sage meeting on 21 September, said the three-tier system had come too late and he believes that a short national lockdown could be needed within weeks. Sage is also damning of the government's supposedly world-beating test-and-trace system.
13th Oct 2020 - BBC

UK Covid-19: Boris Johnson Clashes With Own Scientific Advisers

Boris Johnson clashed with his own government’s scientific advisers who wanted tougher action against the resurgent coronavirus outbreak in the U.K. in September. The British prime minister announced Monday that bars and pubs will be closed in the worst-hit parts of England to control the pandemic as he tried to restore clarity and credibility to his much-criticized strategy. He said he hoped to avoid another full national lockdown and that his plan would work if people followed the advice. Prime Minister Holds Virtual Briefing As UK Imposes New Covid-19 Rules. But England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned the new measures won’t be enough, and newly released papers showed the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) recommended national or regional restrictions to slow the spread of the virus last month.
13th Oct 2020 - Bloomberg

SAGE scientists recommended a UK lockdown 3 weeks ago - and that universities should not return

The UK government rejected the urgent warnings of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), it has been revealed. According to documents released on 12 October, the group called for a raft of measures three weeks ago to prevent “a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences."
13th Oct 2020 - The Scotsman

Covid: Sage scientists called for short lockdown weeks ago

The government's scientific advisers called for a short lockdown in England to halt the spread of Covid-19 last month, newly released documents show. The experts said an immediate "circuit breaker" was the best way to control cases, at a meeting on 21 September. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick insisted the government had taken "robust action" that "balanced" the impact on the economy. But Labour has described the documents as "alarming". It comes as the Liverpool region prepares to enter a "very high" Covid alert level from Wednesday, the highest of a new three-tier system for coronavirus restrictions in England.
13th Oct 2020 - BBC

UK moves closer to infect healthy people with Covid-19 to aid vaccine efforts

Such studies may help speed development of vaccines and give scientists new insights into a disease that has spread to more than 37 million people globally, but would expose participants to a threat for which there’s no cure.
13th Oct 2020 - The Indian Express

The West is being left behind as it squanders Covid-19 lessons from Asia-Pacific

While the Asia-Pacific region treads water until a coronavirus vaccine is found, the West’s biggest economies are drowning as a second wave firmly establishes itself in Europe. Europe is now reporting more daily infections than the United States, Brazil, or India — the countries that have been driving the global case count for months — as public apathy grows towards coronavirus guidelines. Several countries are seeing infection rates spiral again after a summer lull that saw measures to contain the virus and travel restrictions relaxed. In the United Kingdom, for example, questions are being asked about whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to lift the country’s lockdown in June was premature. Northern England’s current high rates of Covid-19 are down to the fact that infections “never dropped as far in the summer as they did in the south,” Jonathan Van-Tam, Britain’s deputy chief medical officer, told a press conference on Monday.
13th Oct 2020 - ABC17News.com

Covid-19: Leading doctors argue against local lockdowns

The UK government’s own scientific advisers and other leading experts argued against a policy of increased restrictions in local areas to control the covid-19 pandemic, instead calling for a national short period of lockdown or “circuit breaker,” documents show. The newly released documents reveal that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies recommended on 21 September that such an immediate circuit breaker was the best way to control cases. Rumours about SAGE’s advice had been circulating for some weeks, but the minutes were officially released only after the prime minister announced a new three tier system for England, with Liverpool facing the most stringent restrictions.
13th Oct 2020 - The BMJ

China's COVID lockdown significantly cut air-pollution-related hospitalizations

The stringent lockdown imposed by the Chinese government to slow the spread of COVID-19 early this year significantly eased the strain on hospitals there. Admissions due to non-COVID respiratory illnesses decreased by nearly 5,000, a new study by an international team of scientists shows. "The number of decreased hospitalizations due to air pollution was about the same size or slightly larger than the number of people who went to a hospital for COVID during the same period," said Drew Shindell, Nicholas Distinguished Professor of Earth Science at Duke University.
13th Oct 2020 - Phys.org

Covid-19: Leading public health expert 'irate' over WHO lockdown advice

A leading Covid-19 expert is “irate” after a World Health Organisation (WHO) official asked world leaders to stop using lockdowns as a primary method of controlling the pandemic. WHO's special envoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro​, told British magazine The Spectator that lockdowns should only be used to buy authorities time to set up systems that allow society to live with the virus. But his comments are “inappropriate” and don’t apply to New Zealand and other Pacific countries where lockdowns have worked, according to epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker, who advises the New Zealand Government on Covid-19. “David Nabarro is one of their most senior advisors and is quite fond of pronouncing some things,” he said.
13th Oct 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Eli Lilly pauses COVID-19 antibody trial due to safety concern

US drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co said on Tuesday that the government-sponsored clinical trial of its COVID-19 antibody treatment has been paused because of a safety concern. “Out of an abundance of caution, the ACTIV-3 independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) has recommended a pause in enrollment,” Lilly spokeswoman Molly McCully said in an emailed statement. “Lilly is supportive of the decision by the independent DSMB to cautiously ensure the safety of the patients participating in this study.”
13th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

China considers giving students experimental COVID-19 vaccine

One of China’s leading vaccine developers is working on a plan to inoculate students going overseas with Covid-19 shots that are yet to get regulatory approval, according to people familiar with the matter, as the country pushes scientific boundaries in the race for a viable immunization. China National Biotec Group Co., or CNBG, a subsidiary of state-owned Sinopharm Group Co., is in talks with the Chinese government about giving students headed abroad to study its experimental vaccines, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they’re not authorized to speak publicly. Various government agencies are still working on the plan and no final decision has been made, the people said.
13th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

Dutch woman dies after catching Covid-19 twice, the first reported reinfection death

An elderly Dutch woman has become the first known person to die from catching Covid-19 twice, according to experts, raising serious questions about how long immunity and antibodies can last. The woman, 89, suffered from a rare type of bone marrow cancer called Waldenström's macroglobulinemia. Her immune system was compromised due to the cell-depleting therapy she received, the researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands wrote in a paper accepted for publication in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. However, the researchers said her natural immune response could still have been "sufficient" to fight-off Covid-19, as the type of treatment she received for cancer "does not necessarily result in life threatening disease."
13th Oct 2020 - CNN

Another Vaccine Trial Halt | In the Pipeline

The first advice is “Don’t panic”. You will have heard that last night J&J announced that their coronavirus vaccine dosing has been paused while they investigate an adverse event in the trial. And while you never like to hear that, considering the size of their effort, this sort of thing is likely to happen even if the vaccine turns out to have no real safety issues. Just this morning, the company’s CEO told analysts on a conference call that they don’t even know yet if the affected patient is in the treatment group or the controls: that’s how early this is. Now, there are definitely ways that this could go that would be concerning, but we’re not there yet.
13th Oct 2020 - Science Magazine

Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine study paused due to unexplained illness in participant

The study of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine has been paused due to an unexplained illness in a study participant. A document sent to outside researchers running the 60,000-patient clinical trial states that a “pausing rule” has been met, that the online system used to enroll patients in the study has been closed, and that the data and safety monitoring board — an independent committee that watches over the safety of patients in the clinical trial — would be convened. The document was obtained by STAT. Contacted by STAT, J&J confirmed the study pause, saying it was due to “an unexplained illness in a study participant.” The company declined to provide further details.
12th Oct 2020 - Stat News

Covid may cause sudden, permanent hearing loss – UK study

Covid-19 may cause sudden and permanent hearing loss, experts have found, adding that such problems need early detection and urgent treatment. The coronavirus has been found to affect the body in myriad ways, from a loss of taste and smell to organ damage. Now doctors have reported fresh evidence that Covid could also affect hearing. Writing in the journal BMJ Case Reports, experts at University College London report the case of a 45-year-old man with asthma who was admitted to intensive care with Covid, ventilated, and given drugs including the antiviral remdesivir and intravenous steroids. A week after leaving intensive care he developed a ringing sound – tinnitus – and then hearing loss in his left ear.
13th Oct 2020 - The Guardian


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 13th Oct 2020

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Johnson & Johnson pauses Covid-19 vaccine trial after 'unexplained illness'

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson said Monday it has paused the advanced clinical trial of its experimental coronavirus vaccine because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers. "Following our guidelines, the participant's illness is being reviewed and evaluated by the ENSEMBLE independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as well as our internal clinical and safety physicians," the company said in a statement. ENSEMBLE is the name of the study. "Adverse events -- illnesses, accidents, etc. -- even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies."
13th Oct 2020 - CNN

Nevada man, 25, contracted coronavirus twice in 48 days and was SICKER during his second bout

An unnamed 25-year-old man from Washoe County, Nevada, tested positive for the coronavirus on April 18 after developing mild symptoms. He recovered during isolation and received two negative test results in May. On May 28, he started feeling the same symptoms and went to a primary care doctor, who recommended he go the hospital. He tested positive again at the hospital, 48 days after his initial test, and needed oxygen support. Genetic testing showed that the strains of virus from each bout were different, indicating a true reinfection. The Nevada man is the fifth person worldwide to be reinfected and other cases have been reported in Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ecuador
12th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: COVID-19 survivors may have protective antibodies for up to four months, study suggests

People who recover from COVID-19 may have protective antibodies for up to four months, according to a new study. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital aimed to determine how long immunity lasts in coronavirus survivors, and whether those infected with COVID-19 will develop lasting protection from the virus. The study, published in Science Immunology, also focused on the body's immune response to COVID-19 and the team's findings suggested antibodies can be an accurate tool for tracking the spread of the infection in the community.
12th Oct 2020 - Sky News

E-Therapeutics boasts 'encouraging results' for Covid-19 treatment

Work to find new drugs that can be used to treat coronavirus has yielded good results, according to a Tyneside drug discovery company. Earlier this year Newcastle's e-Therapeutics turned its computer modelling technology towards the Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of finding drugs that could help treat the virus. The company specialises in discovering new drugs in silico (using computers) and in the past has used its technology to find compounds that can protect human cells from influenza. It now believes its technology could help the fight against coronavirus. Speaking in the company's interim results, CEO Ali Mortazavi said: "Our project to find compounds for the treatment of Covid-19 using our proprietary NDD (Network-drive Drug Discovery) platform has generated encouraging results. "We await the final read outs in SARS-COV2 assays from WuXi AppTec to decide next steps.
12th Oct 2020 - Business Live

Kids struggle with Covid-19 and its months of aftermath

Veronica Richmond is just 15, but she's skipped three grades and is about to graduate from high school in Boise, Idaho. But the self-described photographer, biologist, poet, graphic designer and debater now has a new identity she never wanted. She is a Covid-19 long hauler, along with her sister Audrey and mother Jamie. One of her friends came home in March after spending two years in Wuhan, China. That may have been the source of the virus that would cut across the whole Richmond family and leave them with six months — and counting — of fatigue, pain and uncertainty in its wake.
12th Oct 2020 - CNN

Most people try to avoid Covid-19. But thousands are signing up to be deliberately exposed

As most of us obsess with avoiding Covid-19 at all costs, a rapidly growing group of people around the world say they are prepared to deliberately take on the virus. Tens of thousands of people have signed up to a campaign by a group called 1 Day Sooner to take an experimental vaccine candidate and then face coronavirus in a controlled setting. Among them is Estefania Hidalgo, 32, a photography student in Bristol, England, who works at a gas station to pay the bills.
12th Oct 2020 - CNN

BCG: Can a vaccine from 1921 save lives from Covid-19?

Scientists in the UK have begun testing the BCG vaccine, developed in 1921, to see if it can save lives from Covid. The vaccine was designed to stop tuberculosis, but there is some evidence it can protect against other infections as well. Around 1,000 people will take part in the trial at the University of Exeter. But while millions of people in the UK will have had the BCG jab as a child, it is thought they would need to be vaccinated again to benefit. Vaccines are designed to train the immune system in a highly targeted way that leaves lasting protection against one particular infection.
12th Oct 2020 - BBC

Spotlight on COVID-19 antibody therapies after Trump's recovery -

The spotlight remains on the potential of antibody therapies as a possible way out of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, with the US government investing millions in a hopeful from AstraZeneca and president Donald Trump recovering from coronavirus after receiving a rival therapy from Regeneron. Thanks to a drug cocktail including Regeneron’s antibody therapy, Trump says he is back on his feet after becoming infected with the virus around the end of last month. Trump has hailed the Regeneron therapy as a cure for the virus, but the company’s CEO Leonard Schleifer was quick to point out that the scientific evidence is not there to support the claim.
12th Oct 2020 - pharmaphorum

Failures at Austrian ski resort ‘helped speed up spread' of Covid-19 in Europe

An independent commission has found that Austrian national and local authorities made “momentous miscalculations” by first hesitating and then rushing to evacuate an Alpine ski resort that has been described as the “ground zero” of the coronavirus first wave in Europe. Ischgl, a town of 1,600 inhabitants in the Tirolean Paznaun valley and one of Europe’s premium skiing destinations, has been in the spotlight since the middle of March, after thousands of tourists, including at least 180 Britons, caught the virus there during the spring holidays and carried it back to their home countries.
12th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 forecasting app for colleges launched

A new app that forecasts the spread of Covid-19 in colleges has been launched. Developed by the University of Exeter in collaboration with colleges, the free online tool is said to analyse individual college data according to various inputs such as class-based bubbles, larger year group bubbles and attendance on different days. It also allows the user to input community infection rates as well as information about how they are running their college to forecast how many people may need to self-isolate and other steps they can take to minimise disruption.
12th Oct 2020 - FE Week

Soon Covid-19 will be treatable, but it shouldn't just be the rich who benefit

We all want a cure for Covid-19, but it won’t come in a single drug. Neither can we expect to escape this global crisis if treatments, tests or vaccines are not made available to those most vulnerable worldwide. There’s a long way yet to go. Robust research has shown that hydroxychloroquine, the drug once heavily promoted by Donald Trump, doesn’t work as a treatment. We wait in hope for the first vaccines but must be realistic: they may only provide partial protection, important as that will be. Now, as the US president pins his hopes on Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, it must be made clear: life can only return to normal with a range of clinically proven, effective treatments, tests and vaccines; the resilient health systems to deliver them; and the trust of the public.
12th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Germany's BioNTech signs deal with New Zealand for 1.5 million vaccine doses

New Zealand is the latest country to pre-order bulk doses of the COVID-19 vaccine currently under development by Germany-based BioNTech (BNTX) and its partner Pfizer (PFE). The German biotech company, one of the frontrunners in the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus, has signed an agreement to supply New Zealand with 1.5 million doses of its vaccine, which should be available in the first quarter of 2021.
12th Oct 2020 - Yahoo Finance UK

Major regional discrepancies in Covid-19 response, report finds

EU regions were unevenly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report published on Monday (12 October) by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR). The most economically hard-hit regions were those under strict lockdown measures for the longest - not necessarily those with the highest death-rates or most cases detected, it finds.
12th Oct 2020 - EUobserver

World Health Organisation has 'reversed its position on lockdowns'

Sky News host Paul Murray says the World Health Organisation has reversed its position on lockdowns, which follows their reversal on masks, and their reversal on how deadly COVID was going to be. “The World Health Organisation is often used by people as the ultimate body to justify some of the worst lockdowns and behaviours of this whole thing,” he said. “I want to introduce you to a person from the World Health Organisation who says, guess what, lockdowns are a bad idea. “This is a reversal of the position of the World Health Organisation. Which of course followed their reversal on mask, their reversal on how deadly this thing was going to be - their endless reversals.”
12th Oct 2020 - Sky News Australia

WHO doctor says lockdowns should not be main coronavirus defence

Recent commentary from the World Health Organization's (WHO) special envoy on COVID-19 has sparked questions about the legitimacy of lockdowns to stop the spread of coronavirus. "We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus." This statement from Dr David Nabarro has also prompted questions about whether the WHO has backflipped on its advice, months after the pandemic was declared. So, when should lockdowns be considered, what is the WHO's advice on them and how does this affect Australia?
12th Oct 2020 - ABC News

New Zealand Signs Deal To Secure 1.5 Mn Doses Of Pfizer, BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

The New Zealand government has reportedly signed a deal with Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech to secure 1.5 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccine. Research, Science & Innovation Minister Megan Woods said in a statement that the government is in talks with other drug companies as well to ensure sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for the whole population. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, BNT162b2, is one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the race to get regulatory approval in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The UK government had announced on July 20 that it has signed a binding agreement with BioNTech/Pfizer to secure 30 million doses of vaccine. The vaccine candidate is based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology and supported by Pfizer’s global vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities. The vaccine candidate is being evaluated in a global Phase 3 study which is currently underway at more than 120 clinical sites worldwide. The trial has enrolled around 37,000 participants with more than 28,000 volunteers have received their second vaccination.
12th Oct 2020 - RepublicWorld

New Zealand signs deal with Pfizer, BioNTech for COVID-19 vaccine

The New Zealand government signed a deal on Monday to buy 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Germany's BioNTech, with delivery potentially as early as the first quarter of 2021. The government did not disclose financial terms of the deal, its first vaccine purchase, which will provide enough doses to vaccinate 750,000 people. Officials said talks were continuing with other drug companies to secure more vaccine supplies for the country of 5 million people and further announcements were expected next month. "The additional agreements will ensure that once the portfolio is completed, we will have sufficient COVID-19 vaccines for the whole population," Research Minister Megan Woods said in a statement.
12th Oct 2020 - Yahoo! News

Covid 19 coronavirus: World Health Organisation backflips on virus stance by condemning lockdowns

A World Health Organisation doctor has backflipped on the organisation's original Covid-19 stance, calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies as a "primary control method". Dr David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop "using lockdowns as your primary control method" of the coronavirus. He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.
12th Oct 2020 - New Zealand Herald

Covid-19: 'Near extinction' of influenza in NZ due to lockdown - epidemiologist

Mask wearing and social distancing for Covid-19 has all but cut influenza cases in New Zealand this year, with only six flu isolates detected in this country from April to August. Public health physician and epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker offered RNZ National’s Sunday Morning programme his analysis on the flu season numbers and why masks continue to be so important. He said there has been "near extinction of influenza in New Zealand following our very effective Covid-19 response", as numbers vanished from the two standard systems for surveillance - resulting in a 99.8 percent reduction in flu cases.
12th Oct 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

COVID-19: WHO official's lockdown criticism probably doesn't apply to New Zealand - Dr Siouxsie Wiles

A senior World Health Organization (WHO) official has condemned the use of lockdowns to restrict the spread of COVID-19 - but prominent Kiwi experts say the comments may not be directly applicable to New Zealand. Dr David Nabarro, the WHO's special envoy for coronavirus, is appealing to world leaders to stop applying lockdowns as their primary control method and to instead "develop better systems". He told British magazine The Spectator that lockdowns have a major consequence that is not being widely considered - they are "making poor people an awful lot poorer".
12th Oct 2020 - Newshub

Novel coronavirus can last 28 days on glass, currency, Australian study finds

The virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on banknotes, glass and stainless steel for up to 28 days, much longer than the flu virus, Australian researchers said on Monday, highlighting the need for frequent cleaning and handwashing. Findings from the study by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, appear to show that in a very controlled environment the virus remained infectious for longer than other studies have found. CSIRO researchers found that at 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), the SARS-CoV-2 virus remained infectious for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as plastic banknotes and the glass found on mobile phone screens. The study was published in Virology Journal.
12th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: Sage asked for swathe of urgent lockdown measures three weeks ago, new documents show

The government’s scientific advisers recommended a two-week ‘circuit break’ lockdown three weeks ago in a bid to curtail the spread of Covid -19, official documents show. Sage told ministers a swathe of interventions would be required to reverse the exponential rise in cases. The minutes from the 21 September meeting of the group were quietly published just hours after Boris Johnson announced new restrictions, including a a new three tier system for local ockdowns, that appeared to fall short of what Sage suggested. Even Mr Johnson’s own chief medical officer warned the new measures to be introduced in the most severe cases will not work on their own.
12th Oct 2020 - The Independent


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 12th Oct 2020

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Britain is at a coronavirus tipping point, says deputy chief medical officer

Britain is at a “tipping point” in the coronavirus crisis and the country must act now to stop history repeating itself, the deputy chief medical officer for England said on Sunday, urging people to follow the rules. With the number of cases rapidly rising particularly in the north of England, ministers are readying a new set of rules to try to tackle the crisis that will include handing more power to local leaders to track the virus’ spread.
11th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

UK study tests if BCG vaccine protects against COVID

The widely used BCG tuberculosis vaccine will be tested on frontline care workers in Britain for its effectiveness against COVID-19, researchers running the UK arm of a global trial said. Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, used to protect against tuberculosis, induces a broad innate immune-system response and has been shown to protect against infection or severe illness with other respiratory pathogens. “BCG has been shown to boost immunity in a generalised way, which may offer some protection against COVID-19,” Professor John Campbell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said.
11th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus can survive for a MONTH on surfaces including banknotes and mobile phone screens

CSIRO, Australia's science agency, found that Covid can survive up to 28 days. Research found that the virus survived better in colder temperatures. Results could improve risk mitigation procedures to prevent the disease spread
11th Oct 2020 - Daily Mail

Scientists investigate possible coronavirus mutation in Chile

Scientists in Chile are investigating a possible mutation of the coronavirus in southern Patagonia, a far-flung region near the tip of South America that has seen an unusually contagious second wave of infections in recent weeks. Questions have arisen as the remote region of Magallanes, which accounts for only one percent of the country’s population, reported nearly 20 percent of Chile’s total cases so far, suggesting a potential mutation of the novel virus.
11th Oct 2020 - AlJazeera

WHO says want to avoid 'punishing' coronavirus lockdowns

The World Health Organization's top emergencies expert said on Friday that authorities should try to avoid punishing lockdowns, as many countries see a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 infections Read more at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/78579160.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
10th Oct 2020 - The Times of India

Explained: When will we have a Covid-19 vaccine, and why does October hold the key?

When will an antidote against Covid-19 finally become widely available? The answer to this question may eventually be found this month as a handful of coronavirus vaccine candidates near the end of late stage clinical trials. At least two vaccine frontrunners — Pfizer and Moderna Inc — are set to release late-stage and Phase 2 results this month. While experts have said vaccines were likely to reach the general public in the March-April 2021, drugmakers have been more ambitious with their calculations, with some firms like Moderna Inc eyeing the emergency-use authorisation route to launch their shots by year end. In fact, Pfizer may also file for US FDA approval of its vaccine this month itself, Bloomberg reported.
10th Oct 2020 - The Indian Express

'Brain fog': the people struggling to think clearly months after Covid

For Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar, Covid-19 brought an onslaught of symptoms from chest pains to an 11-day migraine, three positive test results, and a period in hospital. Seven months later, the rollercoaster is far from over: the 36-year-old from Byron Bay, Australia is still experiencing symptoms – including difficulties with thinking that are often described as “brain fog”.
10th Oct 2020 - The Guardian

Public Health Experts Urge Caution on China's COVID-19 Vaccines

China said on Friday that it had joined a global COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan backed by the World Health Organization, becoming the biggest economy to date to pledge support to distribute the shots fairly. Meanwhile, the country is holding separate talks with the WHO to have its COVID-19 vaccines assessed, a step toward making them available for international use. Public health experts welcome the Chinese move, yet caution potential safety concerns. They are calling on China to publish all its clinical trial data to ensure transparency and gain public trust, saying rushing out a vaccine without adequate efficacy and safety testing is a recipe for disaster.
10th Oct 2020 - chosun.com

Brazil eagerly awaits China-developed COVID-19 vaccine as infections reach 5 million

A total of 9,000 volunteers in Brazil have participated in trials of China-developed COVID-19 vaccines as the country reports more than 5 million COVID-19 cases as of October 7, following the US and India. The trials involve a vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech LTD, which started in July in Brazil and are scheduled to be completed by October 15. According to Brazil media reports in early October, a primary report on the trials has been submitted to the Brazil national health authority. João Doria, governor of the Sao Paulo state, where part of the trials have taken place, had previously said that vaccinations on volunteers would involve 9,000 people and be completed on October 15, and the vaccine, if approved, would hopefully be available to the public on December 15.
10th Oct 2020 - Global Times

China is doubling down in the global push for a coronavirus vaccine

The global push to develop a coronavirus vaccine is gathering pace, but much to the likely frustration of US President Donald Trump, caution exercised by American drug makers and regulators has put China out in front ... for now. Moderna, a leading coronavirus vaccine maker, said this month it will not be ready to apply for emergency use authorization until at least November 25. Meanwhile, the US-based trial sites of another frontrunner, AstraZeneca, have placed testing on hold after a participant in Britain developed a serious illness last month, further undermining Trump's hopes that a vaccine would be ready in time for Election Day on November 3.
10th Oct 2020 - CNN

China Joins WHO Initiative to Distribute COVID Vaccine to Developing Countries

China said Friday it is joining a World Health Organization international initiative to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to the developing world. China, Russia and the U.S. had said they were not joining the alliance to help two-thirds of world’s population receive the vaccines by 2022. China’s reversal makes it the largest country to participate in what is known as the COVAX deal. “We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support Covax,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
9th Oct 2020 - Voice of America

What China’s decision to join the WHO’s vaccine scheme means

Beijing signing up for the Covax distribution scheme stands in sharp contrast to Washington’s refusal to join. Scheme is intended to ensure poorer countries do not miss out. Foreign ministry says Beijing is committed to the equitable distribution of vaccines
9th Oct 2020 - South China Morning Post

Risk of ADE with new Covid-19 vaccine candidate low, Chinese researchers say

Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) is a side-effect of inoculation that can make a virus more harmful. Team from Institute of Medical Biology say they cannot conclude their product will not cause ADE, but ‘likelihood as a result of inoculation with this vaccine is small’
9th Oct 2020 - South China Morning Post

China joins WHO-backed vaccine programme COVAX rejected by Trump

China has joined a global scheme for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), it said on Friday, giving a major boost to an initiative shunned by U.S. President Donald Trump. Beijing’s latest bid to join the global fight against the coronavirus follows criticism over its handling of the pandemic, which has contributed to a growing unfavourable view of China in advanced nations, a recent survey showed. “We are taking this concrete step to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially to developing countries, and hope more capable countries will also join and support COVAX,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.
9th Oct 2020 - Reuters UK

Better air during China’s mass lockdowns may have reduced hospital visits

Lower levels of harmful PM2.5 particles could have resulted in an estimated 5,000 fewer hospital admissions from late January to February, study finds. Researchers also estimate there were 60,000 fewer respiratory illnesses like asthma attacks in the period
9th Oct 2020 - South China Morning Post

China to purchase COVAX vaccines for 1% of population, says foreign ministry

China will purchase COVID-19 vaccines for 1% of its population, or 15 million people, via a global scheme backed by the World Health Organization, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday. Beijing’s move to join the COVAX programme means China “will be procuring vaccines through the facility for a proportion of their own population, just as with other countries”, a spokesman for GAVI, which co-leads the scheme, said earlier. The first batch of vaccine available under the plan will be in short supply, so there would be less for other countries if China had secured doses for a large number of its 1.4 billion people, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a news briefing
9th Oct 2020 - Reuters India

Health Canada to start real-time review of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

Health Canada will start a real-time review of Germany's BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc's experimental COVID-19 vaccine, the companies said on Friday. The companies said they would submit safety and efficacy data from the trial of their COVID-19 vaccine to Canada's health ministry under a rolling submission as and when it becomes available. A rolling review allows researchers to submit findings in real time, without waiting for studies to conclude. Canadian health minister Patty Hajdu last month signed an order allowing companies developing COVID-19 vaccines to submit information as it becomes available.
9th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

U.S., AstraZeneca strike deal for COVID-19 antibody treatment touted by Trump

The U.S. government has awarded $486 million (£372.7 million) to AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L to develop and secure supplies of up to 100,000 doses of COVID-19 antibody treatment, a similar class of drug that was used in treating President Donald Trump. The agreement, under the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, is for developing a monoclonal antibody cocktail that can prevent COVID-19, especially in high-risk population like those over 80 years old, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said. The treatment has come under the spotlight after Trump was treated with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' REGN.O antibody drug last week. The president has also released a video on Twitter touting its benefits.
9th Oct 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus vaccine in India: Covaxin, Sputnik-V makers asked to submit revised proposals for human trials

Pharmaceutical firms Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), Bharat Biotech, and Biological E (Bio E) have been directed by an expert committee set up under India’s top drug regulatory to revise proposals pertaining to conduct human trials of their Covid-19 candidates. The DRL sought approval to hold late-stage clinical trials of the Russian candidate Sputnik V. Bharat Biotech was seeking a nod for late-stage human trials for its inactivated Coronavirus vaccine candidate Covaxin. Bio E tendered an application for early-stage trials for its vaccine candidate being developed with Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine
9th Oct 2020 - The Financial Express

Lilly's rheumatoid arthritis drug cuts COVID-19 deaths in trial, data shows

Eli Lilly and Co said on Thursday fewer deaths were reported among COVID-19 patients taking a combination of its rheumatoid arthritis drug and Gilead Sciences Inc's remdesivir in a clinical trial, compared to only remdesivir. Lilly said the effect was most pronounced in patients on oxygen therapy, according to data from a U.S. government-backed trial, which however, was not designed to measure the effectiveness of baricitinib in preventing death.
9th Oct 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Coronavirus in Africa: Five reasons why Covid-19 has been less deadly than elsewhere

Many African countries have been praised for waging an effective campaign to combat the spread of coronavirus despite their reputation for having fragile state heath systems. The continent, which has a population of more than one billion, has had about 1.5 million cases, according to data compiled by the John Hopkins University. These figures are far lower than those in Europe, Asia or the Americas, with reported cases continuing to decline. Africa has recorded about 37,000 deaths, compared with roughly 580,000 in the Americas, 230,000 in Europe, and 205,000 in Asia.
9th Oct 2020 - BBC

Covid-19 Vaccine: Brazil Guarantees 140 Million Doses in First Semester 2021

The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday, October 8th, the purchase of 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine and another 40 million doses from the COVAX Facility of the W.H.O.
9th Oct 2020 - The Rio Times

Cheaper, faster: India’s Feluda Covid-19 test gets approval

An accurate and low cost paper-based strip test for Covid-19 has been approved for commercial launch by the Drugs Controller General of India. Indian scientists have come up with a new testing method called Feluda, a test which is similar to taking samples through a PCR swab test but is more reliable and simpler to use. It will cost 500 Indian rupees – about 6 euros. Kits are expected to reach the market shortly. The test was named after a famous fictional Bengali detective, though its full name is: Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) Feluda test.
9th Oct 2020 - YAHOO!

Vaccine suppliers given indemnity for 'inevitable' side effects

The Morrison government has given the suppliers of two COVID-19 vaccines indemnity against liability for rare side effects that experts say are "inevitable" when a vaccine is rolled out. But the government will not set up a statutory compensation scheme, which the president of the Australian Medical Association, Omar Khorshid, said meant Australians who suffered "extremely rare" side effects from the vaccines would face a tough battle to seek compensation.
8th Oct 2020 - The Sydney Morning Herald

Another potential Chinese COVID-19 vaccine appears safe

In a race to produce medicine to treat deadly COVID-19, one more vaccine being developed by Chinese scientists has shown “safe” results in the first phase of trials. The project funded by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences has done “in-depth investigation of the safety and immunogenicity” of an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) vaccine. A paper published Tuesday by the Chinese scientists on medRxiv, a well-regarded server that quickly publishes preprints of medical research while they are undergoing peer review, said the phase I trails were conducted on 191 healthy participants aged between 18 and 59. “The safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine were evaluated within 28 days,” the paper said adding that the participants were administered three doses each.
7th Oct 2020 - Anadolu Agency

China's experimental COVID-19 vaccine appears safe - study

A Chinese experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by the Institute of Medical Biology under the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences was shown to be safe in an early stage clinical trial, researchers said. In a Phase 1 trial of 191 healthy participants aged between 18 and 59, vaccination with the group’s experimental shot showed no severe adverse reactions, its researchers said on Tuesday in a paper posted on medRxiv preprint server ahead of peer review.
7th Oct 2020 - Reuters


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 9th Oct 2020

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