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

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Coronavirus is NOT mutating to become more virulent: Scientific review suggests a vaccine is likely to work while debunking the myth the virus was created in a Chinese lab

Study traced the evolutionary origins of the coronavirus back to its origin. Found it is too different to other coronaviruses to have been man-made. The virus has an unusually slow mutation rate and is not changing to become more severe or infectious
18th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Steroid improves survival chances of sickest Covid-19 patients, study involving Cambridge University Hospitals finds

The survival chances for severely ill Covid-19 patients are improved by treating them with the steroid hydrocortisone, research involving Cambridge University Hospitals has shown. Patients had up to a 93 per cent chance of a better outcome if given an intravenous seven-day dose of the drug, results from the REMAP-CAP study suggested.
17th Sep 2020 - Cambridge Independent

US experts stress over safety of AZ's COVID-19 vaccine

US medical experts are reportedly concerned that a neurological side effect picked up in AstraZeneca’s closely-watched COVID-19 vaccine trial could compromise the whole project, as the FDA weighs whether to give the go ahead for US studies to resume. While tests of the vaccine co-developed with Oxford University have resumed in the UK, experts from the US National Institutes of Health have launched an investigation into the incident, which is still being kept under wraps by the UK pharma for patient confidentiality reasons. Side-effects that caused AstraZeneca to pause its coronavirus vaccine trial are unlikely to be caused by the shot according to documents posted online and cited in other press reports – but the FDA is yet to give the go ahead for US testing to restart.
17th Sep 2020 - pharmaphorum

NIH hands out seven digital health contracts to fight COVID-19

The US National Institutes of Health has awarded seven contracts to companies and academic institutions to develop digital health solutions to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the US-government funded NIH, the work could lead to user-friendly tools like smartphone apps, wearable devices, and software that can identify and trace contacts of infected individuals, keep track of verified COVID-19 test results, and monitor the health status of infected and potentially infected individuals. The NIH’s The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), selected the seven projects from nearly 200 ideas. Contracts are being awarded in two phases – initial awards will go to pilot projects to demonstrate feasibility, after which the NIH has an option to provide additional funding for further development.
17th Sep 2020 - pharmaphorum

An 'uncoordinated' immune response may explain why COVID-19 strikes some hard, particularly the elderly

Even a world-class orchestra will produce a cacophony if its strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections don’t play in harmony. Similarly, the sophisticated human immune system can fail to beat back a pathogen if its many players don’t hit the right notes at the right times. A new study now finds that people who suffer the most from COVID-19 have an immune response that’s out of sync. The results help clarify how the disease progresses and could possibly inform how best to use various treatments and how to design the most effective vaccines. “We need to know exactly how the immune response is shaped to this virus,” says Donna Farber, an immunologist at Columbia University who was not involved in the research. “This is probably the most comprehensive analysis of virus-specific immunity in people who either had COVID or are acutely infected.”
17th Sep 2020 - Science Magazine

Tighten UK Covid restrictions or risk a national lockdown, warn scientists

Scientists have warned the government must act fast to contain the spread of coronavirus, including further restrictions on public mixing, though ministers have denied they are considering a full England lockdown. Prof Susan Michie, the director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London and a member of the scientific pandemic influenza group on behavioural science, a government advisory group, said that with cases doubling every eight days in England, urgent action was needed. “If more restrictions aren’t done very soon then I think we risk being back into the situation where a national lockdown may be necessary,” she said. “Business as usual isn’t an option.”
17th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Rich nations grab coronavirus vaccine stocks in global race

Rich nations representing a fraction of the global population have already bought up over half the promised COVID-19 vaccine stocks, a study showed, as U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to begin inoculating Americans within weeks. Big Pharma is racing to produce an effective vaccine to counter a virus that has now killed more than 935,000 people around the world and infected almost 30 million. European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday warned against “vaccine nationalism” that she said could put lives at risk by depriving the most vulnerable in poorer nations of immunity. But a study released by Oxfam showed a group of wealthy countries representing just 13 percent of the world population has already secured the lion’s share of doses. “Access to a life-saving vaccine shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have,” said Robert Silverman of Oxfam America.
17th Sep 2020 - The Japan Times

Why Indonesia Became a Testing Ground for a Chinese Covid-19 Vaccine

On a scorching August day in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, two dozen volunteers arrive at a small community clinic inside a narrow alley to take part in the last stage of one of the world’s fastest-moving trials for a coronavirus vaccine. There, surrounded by cramped homes and kids playing outdoors without masks, they prepare to take an experimental shot developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., which many in Indonesia hope will bring an end to the destruction wreaked by the virus. With about a quarter-million infections, Indonesia’s outbreak is the second-worst in Southeast Asia after the Philippines, its daily case count hitting records every week since the end of August.
17th Sep 2020 - BloombergQuint

All countries need consistent Covid-19 messaging - WHO

The World Health Organization has warned of "alarming rates of transmission" of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned countries against shortening quarantine periods. The WHO's regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said the number of coronavirus cases seen in September "should serve as a wake-up call for all of us." "Although these numbers reflect more comprehensive testing, it also shows alarming rates of transmission across the region," he told an online press conference from the Danish capital Copenhagen. The health body also said it would not change its guidance calling for a 14-day quarantine period for anyone exposed to the novel coronavirus.
17th Sep 2020 - RTE.ie

Pfizer vaccine trial bets on early win against coronavirus, documents show

Pfizer Inc is betting that its coronavirus vaccine candidate will show clear evidence of effectiveness early in its clinical trial, according to the company and internal documents reviewed by Reuters that describe how the trial is being run. Pfizer’s clinical trial protocol outlines for the company, scientists and regulators how the drugmaker could show that its vaccine meets efficacy and safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A company’s protocol is submitted to the FDA for review and is overseen by an independent panel of experts known as a Data and Safety Monitoring Board.
17th Sep 2020 - Reuters

UK faces bottleneck on COVID-19 testing due to lab capacity: minister

Britain faces difficulties in carrying out COVID-19 tests due to shortages of lab capacity, said junior health minister Edward Argar. “Lab capacity is one of the bottlenecks, or one of the challenges in significantly increasing that capacity,” Argar told Sky News on Thursday.
17th Sep 2020 - Reuters


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

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Covid-19 has set global health progress back 25 years, says Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic have halted and reversed global health progress, setting it back 25 years and exposing millions to the risk of deadly disease and poverty, a report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation warned on Tuesday (Sept 15). Because of Covid-19, extreme poverty has increased by 7 per cent, and routine vaccine coverage - a good proxy measure for how health systems are functioning - is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, the report said. "It's a huge setback," Mr Bill Gates, co-chairman of the foundation and a leading philanthropic funder of global health and development, told a media briefing on the report's findings.
16th Sep 2020 - Asia One

In Covid-19 vaccine race, China inoculates thousands before trials are completed

This has raised concerns over the safety of drugs that have not completed standard testing. China is inoculating tens of thousands of its citizens with experimental coronavirus vaccines and attracting international interest in their development, despite expert concerns over the safety of drugs that have not completed standard testing. China launched a vaccine emergency use programme in July, offering three experimental shots developed by a unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and US-listed Sinovac Biotech. A fourth Covid-19 vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.
16th Sep 2020 - Business Line

South Korea to secure coronavirus vaccines for 60% of population: PM Chung

South Korea said on Tuesday it plans to spend $146 million to procure coronavirus vaccines, initially aiming to secure a supply for 30 million people, or 60% of its population, as it battles persistent outbreaks of new cases. The population target is higher than a World Health Organization (WHO) goal for the early purchase of supplies for 20% of the world's most vulnerable people, and at least 40% agreed by European Union nations, Britain and EU partners for their populations. While South Korean authorities would like to inoculate the entire population of 52 million, uncertainty around any vaccine's safety, efficacy and development was limiting investment, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told a cabinet meeting.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Turkey begins Phase III trials of Chinese coronavirus vaccine - minister

Turkey began final Phase III trials of an experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine on Wednesday, the health minister said. “The first administration of the Sinovac vaccine was started with three healthcare workers at Hacettepe University, who volunteered to take part in the trials,” Fahrettin Koca told a news conference. The vaccine will be administered to between 1,200 and 1,300 health workers over 10 days and a second dose will be given 14 days after the first, broadcasters CNN Turk and Haberturk reported earlier. The results of the trial will be sent the World Health Organization (WHO).
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Japan commits $165 mln to WHO's global coronavirus vaccine programme

Japan said on Tuesday it has committed 17.2 billion yen ($165 million) in funds for its participation in the World Health Organization's COVID-19 vaccine programme. The programme, known as COVAX, is aimed at helping buy and fairly distribute vaccination shots against the novel coronavirus around the world. But some countries which have secured their own supplies through bilateral deals, including the United States, have said they will not join. The funds are part of a 1.64 trillion yen reserve intended to bolster the government's response to the virus, a government document showed. Japan has also pursued independent arrangements with global pharmaceutical companies to secure vaccines, with the government pledging to have enough supply for the whole population by the first half of 2021.
16th Sep 2020 - Nasdaq

CDC director says 'masks are more guaranteed to protect you from COVID-19' than a vaccine

'I might say this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against covid than when I take a vaccine' Dr Robert Redfield said before a Senate committee. Wearing a face mask has been shown to cut a person's risks of contracting COVID-19 by up to 65% and coverings reduce the spread of infectious particles. It remains unclear how much protection a coronavirus vaccine will offer. FDA regulators set the minimum efficacy for a shot they would approve at 50%. Some people may not have an immune response to a future vaccine - and there is not yet substantial data on shots because they are not yet in use. It comes as a CDC 'playbook' said federal agencies plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine broadly and for free to Americans by January.
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

ERS Studies Highlight Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

In May, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro famously (or infamously) referred to COVID-19 as the “little flu.” Clearly, the grim figures on deaths attributed to the virus—in his country, and elsewhere—have proved him wrong, but research presented during the European Respiratory Society International Congress on September 7 should also cause him to take note. Together, the 2 studies suggest that COVID-19 patients may suffer long-term lung and heart damage—although, for many, it resolves over time. For the first paper, researchers working in a COVID-19 “hotspot” in Austria recruited their first 86 consecutive patients in May and early June (they now have more than 150 enrolled). The patients returned for evaluation 6, 12 and 24 weeks following their discharge from St. Vinzenz Hospital in Zams and underwent clinical examination, laboratory test, analysis of the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in arterial blood, lung function tests (FEV1 and DLCO), computed tomography (CT) scans, and echocardiograms at each visit.
16th Sep 2020 - Contagionlive.com

Beware of big pharma in rush for Covid-19 vaccine

Once an effective vaccine is discovered, we will need open sharing of the technological process so that as many suppliers as possible can make it, to ensure an adequate supply across the world. This is not a time for monopolies. While governments leave big pharma in the driving seat, there will be vaccine scarcity and the global race to hoard vaccines will deplete global stocks, leaving very little – if any – for the WHO to supply to poorer countries. This is not just morally wrong, it is also counterproductive, because we will only be safe if everyone is safe.
16th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Trial backs Lilly's Olumiant plus remdesivir as combo COVID-19 therapy -

Adding Eli Lilly’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant (baricitinib) and Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir reduces recovery time in COVID-19 patients compared to remdesivir alone, says a new trial. The ACTT-2 trial, funded by the US government and run by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), involved COVID-19 patients who had been hospitalised because of severe symptoms. It showed that the median time to recovery for the combination was roughly a day shorter than with remdesivir alone, which was a modest but statistically significant improvement. Lilly now intends to discuss an emergency use authorisation (EUA) for Olumiant with the FDA and other regulators and says that because the drug is already approved it should be made available “through commercial channels.”
16th Sep 2020 - pharmaphorum

What we actually know about Covid-19

As the world battled the first wave of coronavirus infections, scientists and doctors pulled together in an unprecedented global effort to explore the virus, the illness it causes, and the drugs and vaccines that might bring it under control. But as many countries face a resurgence in cases, what have we found out about Covid-19?
16th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Stress, anxiety and depression levels soar under UK Covid-19 restrictions

Restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus in the UK has driven stress, anxiety and depression far above normal levels and may do again in coming months if widespread lockdowns are re-imposed, researchers say. A major study into the mental health impact of the pandemic found that in the early stages of lockdown 57% of those who took part reported symptoms of anxiety, with 64% recording common signs of depression. While the mental health problems improved as restrictions eased, scientists warn they may worsen again as infections rise and more aggressive nationwide lockdowns are considered over the autumn and winter.
16th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Lockdowns: Should They Continue?

A new article though, seeks to address the lockdown in India, as public health officials from the Indian Public Health Association, the Indian Association of Epidemiologists, and the Indian Association of Social and Preventive Medicine, all joined for a joint statement to push the government to end the lockdowns. Moreover, this group emphasized that these restrictions should be replaced with widespread testing efforts. In their call to action, the joint statement noted that the nationwide lockdown, which began in March, has been disjointed as it was relaxed but still upheld in several cities. Moreover, the country is focusing testing strategies on tracking and testing contacts of 80% of new COVID cases. Recently, this was 76,000 per day. This approach was widely criticized by public health leaders as both impractical, but also limited in its approach. With over 3.76 million cases recorded in India and nearly one million people currently under medical care for the disease, the seriousness of the outbreak in India is painfully obvious.
16th Sep 2020 - Contagionlive.com

Sweden records its lowest number of covid cases since March with just 108 after country did not impose lockdown

Sweden's seven-day average for coronavirus was 108 as of Tuesday. The figure is its lowest since March 13 when it decided not to impose lockdown. France, Spain, the UK and the Czech Republic all have higher case numbers.
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Experts say new treatments and local lockdowns will keep coronavirus under better control

Government experts believe a second wave of coronavirus wouldn't be as bad. They suggest local lockdowns and social distancing would reduce the impact There are also hopes that a vaccine could be ready by as early as next spring
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 cases among people in their 40s and 50s have risen by 90% since end of August

Public Health England data reveals 23.4 cases are now diagnosed for every 100,000 people aged 40 to 49. In comparison, the Covid-19 infection rate for the same age group in England was 12.4 at the end of August. Fears of a second wave are growing as number of daily cases has topped 3,000 for the first time since May Ministers have also been spooked by spiralling outbreaks in Spain and France and rising hospital admissions. Covid-19 Hospital admissions have doubled in England over the past ten days, government figures also show. More than 150 patients required NHS treatment on Sunday, up from a rolling average of 56 the week before
16th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

‘Awareness not lockdown will flatten Covid curve’

During a Corona Awareness Dialogue online programme presided b chief ministers on Tuesday, leading doctors like Dr Naresh Trehan, Dr SK Sarin and Dr Devit Shetty stated that the state must launch short-term and long-term campaigns by taking the communities into confidence. Sarin advocated the need for regulated social policing for the strict compliance of masks whle suggesting Gehlot that society needs to be brought in. Campaigns like No Masks, No Entry should be started across the state. If everyone is involved and its followed for four weeks the case curve will flatten
16th Sep 2020 - Times of India

Blood test finds 60,000 undetected Covid-19 cases in Australia

In Australia, federal government-funded research has revealed far more people have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus than anticipated. Researchers from the Australian National University have now developed a new test which picks up previous Covid-19 infection in a patient's blood. The study indicates eight in 3000 healthy and previously undiagnosed Australians had likely been infected with the virus. "This suggests that instead of 11,000 cases we know about from nasal swab testing, about 70,000 people had been exposed overall," Associate Professor Ian Cockburn said. The researchers claim the test will help authorities get a better grasp of the spread of the illness – and can help demonstrate whether or not herd immunity exists.
16th Sep 2020 - Newstalk ZB

60,000 more people may have had COVID-19 than detected: study

Research by some of the nation's most senior scientists has found that more than 60,000 cases of coronavirus in Australia could have gone undetected, potentially adding to calls to ease restrictions sooner. The federal government-funded study by a team of researchers including Australia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, estimates that by July – before Victoria's peak in cases – 71,400 people may have contracted the virus. At the time, there were only 11,190 officially confirmed cases in Australia.
16th Sep 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

Reaching herd immunity in a viral pandemic

The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought “herd immunity” to the public consciousness, kindling hope the phenomenon can help slow or even end the outbreak. Herd immunity refers to a large portion of a community developing a degree of immunity to a virus, thereby reducing person-to-person spread. As a result, the whole community gains protection, not just those who are immune.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters Africa

The root cause of excess covid infections in the care home sector: 30 years of market driven policies

Any root cause analysis into the excess deaths from covid-19 in the UK’s care homes must consider the decisions taken by policy makers over the past three decades which may have created the optimal conditions for the virus to spread among older people in institutional settings. Those decisions—taken by long departed government ministers—led to the intentional creation of a market in social care, the consequential casualisation of the social care workforce and the treatment of some care home residents as a source of income and revenue for international private financiers. Take for example, the emerging evidence which suggests that the size of a care home maybe a causal factor in the rates of infection from covid and patient deaths. Research from NHS Lothian (published on a pre-print) appears to show a correlation between the size of the home and the spread of the virus; thus in homes containing fewer than 20 residents, the chance of an outbreak was 5%, but in homes with 60 to 80 residents the likelihood increased to between 83% and 100%.
16th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

Coronavirus vaccine 'should be ready for the general public by November', China claims

Chief biosafety expert Guizhen Wu said she was injected with a potential vaccine in April and has had no side effects, though China's approach to inoculation has come under scrutiny. Some of the coronavirus vaccinations being developed by China could be ready for public use by November, a medical chief has claimed. Guizhen Wu, the chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said she was injected in April and has had no side effects. It comes following news China has been inoculating tens of thousands of its citizens with experimental Covid vaccines. This is despite expert concerns over the safety of the drugs that have not completed standard testing. The East Asian communist country, where the virus originated last year, launched a vaccine emergency use programme in July.
16th Sep 2020 - Mirror Online

Pfizer says "no safety signal" in late-stage study of COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2

Pfizer said that subjects in its Phase III study of BNT162b2, a candidate mRNA-based vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, have so far exhibited only mild-to-moderate side effects, with fatigue being the most common. The company, which is developing the vaccine as part of a collaboration with BioNTech, noted that over 12,000 participants have now received a second dose of BNT162b2. "So far there has been no safety signal reported," remarked Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's chief scientific officer. The drugmaker noted that more than 29,000 people have been recruited into the study, which has a target enrolment of 44,000.
16th Sep 2020 - First Word Pharma

WHO Europe background document in preparation to the High-level virtual briefing for ministers of health on “schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic”

Schooling in the time of COVID-19 - Towards a consensus on schooling in the European Region during the COVID-19 pandemic This working paper serves as a reference point for national education and health authorities as they seek to plan and implement effective schooling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Originally prepared to inform the high-level meeting on “Schooling in the time of COVID-19” held on 31 August 2020, it seeks to provide a general framework and upstream considerations for decision-makers.
31st Aug 2020 - WHO


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

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Some volunteers quit J&J COVID-19 trial in Spain after AstraZeneca scare, investigator says

Some volunteers have quit Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial in Spain after news of side effects in a participant in AstraZeneca’s trial, the Spanish programme’s lead investigator told Reuters on Tuesday. The investigator, Alberto Borobia, said there were enough reserve volunteers for the trial to continue as normal, however. “Many have called to ask us some more detail about the risk of the vaccine, whether what happened with that vaccine had anything to do with the one we are studying, these types of questions,” Borobia said. He did not say how many people had dropped out.
16th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Long-term health effects of Covid-19 could cause a ‘cycle of illness,’ scientists warn

The long-term health effects of Covid-19 could cause a "cycle of illness" and strain care systems, researchers have warned. Many coronavirus patients have reported debilitating symptoms months after initially falling ill, with common "long Covid" symptoms including breathlessness, chronic fatigue and brain fog. The reasons behind them are still unknown, scientists said. Dr Rachael Evans, a co-investigator on a UK-wide investigation into the long-term effects of Covid-19 for patients admitted to hospital, said: "At the moment it is just so unknown.
15th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Aurobindo Pharma ties up with BIRAC to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Aurobindo Pharma on Tuesday announced collaboration with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), set up by the Department of Biotechnology for the development of COVID-19 vaccine. BIRAC has facilitated the establishment of 'the r-VSV vaccine' manufacturing platform for the first time in India by supporting Aurobindo Pharma’s COVID-19 vaccine development, the company said in a regulatory filing.
15th Sep 2020 - Moneycontrol.com

Germany grants BioNTech, CureVac $745 million to speed up COVID-19 vaccine work

Germany awarded $745 million (577.79 million pounds) in funding to biotech firms BioNTech and CureVac on Tuesday to speed up work on COVID-19 vaccines and expand German production capacity. In a warning against political pressure to rush the process, Research Minister Anja Karliczek stressed that safety should remain the utmost priority to ensure vaccines will be accepted by the broader population. “Even when the world is waiting for a vaccine - we won’t take risky short-cuts here,” she told a news conference in Berlin. Concerns have grown that safety and efficacy standards might slip in the race to find a vaccine against the virus which has so far infected more than 29 million people and claimed over 926,000 lives globally.
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19's Other Unnecessary Death Toll

“We need to learn to live with it.” That, essentially, is the current response being put forward by the United States government and many state governments, as COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, continues to wreak devastation around the country. At the time of this writing, the U.S. has over six million cases of COVID-19, with over 180,000 deaths. My institution, the University of Michigan, and my state, had a relatively successful response to COVID-19. Our medical center’s incident command center was opened on January 24, within days of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the U.S. Our Regional Infectious Containment Unit (RICU), a unit specially designed for highly transmissible infectious diseases, opened within five days of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the state on March 10. This rapid mobilization saved lives, and allowed even the sickest with COVID-19 a fighting chance. After peaking at close to 250 inpatients (about 25 percent of our total hospital capacity) battling COVID-19 in April, our numbers rapidly declined by the beginning of June. However, these numbers don’t tell the whole story.
15th Sep 2020 - Scientific American

NHS Highland looks to tech to help reduce Covid-19 spread in care homes

NHS Highland is looking to deploy technology in care homes which aims to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. The Scottish health board together with Highland Health Ventures and Wyld Networks are hoping to instal the technology which uses an app on smartphones and geozones, software-based virtual walls surrounding the care home. The software decides whether visitors and staff can or cannot enter the facility based on peoples’ health status and level of risk. Once inside the care home, the technology monitors and alerts social distancing between staff, visitors and residents. Also, heat maps are generated in real-time to visualise areas where social distancing is being inadvertently broken. Changes can then be made to the building layouts, routines and room occupancy numbers. In the case of an outbreak of the virus, those at risk can be informed and scheduled for testing within the NHS.
15th Sep 2020 - Digital Health

Covid-19 ethics: Should we deliberately infect volunteers in the name of science? (part 1)

Would you be willing to have a dose of Sars-CoV-2 sprayed up your nose for medical research? For thousands around the world, the answer is yes. Eager volunteers have already signed up to take part in human challenge trials, where participants would be deliberately infected with the virus in order to better understand the disease, and rapidly develop a treatment or vaccine. But should such studies go ahead with a dangerous and relatively new virus? In the first of two episodes, alongside a panel of experts Ian Sample delves into some of the ethical questions of human challenge trials and asks where the balance of risks and benefits currently lies
15th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus UK: 3,600 died from preventable conditions in lockdown

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan stressed patients should not fear straining the NHS. She said messaging should be clearer, after months of a 'Protect the NHS' slogan. Patients were also reluctant to seek hospital care in case they caught Covid-19 Dr Babu-Narayan said this caused some 3,600 unexpected deaths
15th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Feeling in Germany is that war on virus is being won

Germany's top virologist, Christian Drosten, is back with his popular podcast after his summer holiday - essential listening wherever you are, although it's in the German language. He is causing quite a stir, calling for shorter quarantine periods and saying how wearing a mask can not only save your life, it can also reduce comments about halitosis, which is more commonly known as bad breath. "With bad breath, these are aerosols. If two co-workers meet at a buffet without a mask, the other one notices the bad breath. But they don't notice if they are wearing a mask," Prof Drosten said on the podcast. His good looks and irascible charm have made him a rock star in Germany. Not too many virologists can lay claim to that, although our own Dr Ronan Glynn has a swelling fanbase. Germany has had relatively low Covid-19 infection and death rates - 249,000 confirmed cases and 9,322 fatalities.
15th Sep 2020 - Independent.ie

Analysis of COVID-19 spread from China, Italy and Iran

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over nine hundred thousand lives around the world and infected over 29 million individuals. The SARS-CoV-2 virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019, from where it rapidly spread around the world. SARS-CoV-2 is highly contagious and rapidly spreads from one person to another. In this new study, the researchers looked at exported COVID-19 cases by country and the time taken between entry until case confirmation for the exported cases using publicly available data.
15th Sep 2020 - News-Medical.Net

No data on migrants' deaths during lockdown, says govt

Even as visuals of hundreds of migrant labourers walking towards their hometowns in searing heat continue to haunt collective public memory, the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Monday told the Parliament that it does not have any information on how many of these daily wagers lost their lives during the nationwide lockdown announced on March 25.
15th Sep 2020 - Pune Mirror

COVID-19: Lockdown was effective, didn't have a huge peak in India, says ICMR DG

Applauding the nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19 spread in the country, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Balram Bhargava on Tuesday said, "We distributed the COVID-19 curve in a way that we didn't have many deaths. It was because we had an effective lockdown. We didn't have a huge peak at all," according to news agency ANI. Bhargava further added, "US and European countries had a peak, then they came down and there is a second wave occurring there. We took learning from that."
15th Sep 2020 - Mint

Brazil authorises additional 5,000 volunteers for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa on Tuesday authorised AstraZeneca PLC to test its COVID-19 vaccine on an additional 5,000 volunteers in the country for clinical Phase III trials, the Sao Paulo university coordinating the test said. The increase, in addition to 5,000 volunteers already recruited and being vaccinated, will help provide more solid results on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, the Federal University of Sao Paulo said in a statement. It said volunteers over the age of 18 were being sought in the states of Rio Grande do Norte and Rio Grande do Sul, at opposite ends of Brazil. Anvisa has waived the age limit that was 69 years previously, so older volunteers can be vaccinated.
15th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

First vaccine approval could come at end of 2020: German vaccine regulator

The first approvals for a vaccine against COVID-19 could be granted at the end of 2020 or in early 2021, the head of Germany's vaccine regulator said on Tuesday. Klaus Cichutek, head of the Paul Ehrlich Institute, said regulators would not be less thorough than usual when evaluating applications for approval for COVID-19 vaccines
15th Sep 2020 - Thomson Reuters Foundation


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 15th Sep 2020

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UAE announces emergency approval for use of Covid-19 vaccine still under trial

Emergency use of the vaccine, which is still being tested, was granted after a set criteria and after it had been tested on 31,000 volunteers, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority. The announcement comes amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases in the UAE
15th Sep 2020 - Mint

Vietnam speeds up production of Covid-19 vaccine

The Covid-19 vaccine research and development project in Vietnam has shown positive progress with a fairly high immune response to the vaccine antigens. Vietnam is striving to accelerate the progress of Covid-19 vaccine research, Kinh Te & Do Thi reported. Vietnam’s Prime Minister has asked the Ministry of Health to focus on coordinating with ministries and agencies to disseminate and guide the implementation of measures to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic in the new normal.
15th Sep 2020 - Vietnamnet

Coronavirus: vaccine scandals haunt China’s winter flu shot drive

Yi has never had a flu jab before – even though her company pays for it – but this year she has called several clinics to make an appointment. “I’m always too busy. But this year is different. I must get a jab,” Yi said. The rush is on to get inoculated before a possible winter revival of the coronavirus pandemic, which could overwhelm the health system. China is ramping up production of the shots in anticipation of much higher domestic demand but even if all the doses are used, only a small proportion of people will be vaccinated, with many deterred by cost, lack of access and fresh memories of pharmaceutical scandals.
15th Sep 2020 - South China Morning Post

Researchers gain head start in coronavirus vaccine race

Cell and gene therapies have made impressive progress in recent years but have rarely grabbed the headlines. Now the coronavirus pandemic, and the race to develop vaccines and treatments, have pushed them into the global spotlight. Advocates say that their potential efficacy, and the speed with which testable doses can be developed, may give them the edge over more conventional approaches.
15th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Britain bets on another coronavirus vaccine with £1.3billion investment in Scottish factory

Valneva is creating a vaccine using damaged versions of the coronavirus. Company will manufacture 190million doses in Scotland as part of its deal. The jab is expected to have two doses, meaning UK would need 133million
15th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

China says no need to vaccinate entire population against Covid-19 at this stage, only frontline workers

Not everyone in China will need to get vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the country's top medical official, as Beijing looks to prioritize frontline workers and high-risk populations in a move that underscores rising confidence among policy-makers of their ability to contain the virus. "Since the first wave of Covid-19 appeared in Wuhan, China has already survived the impact of Covid-19 several times," Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said at a vaccine summit in the city of Shenzhen on Saturday, according to state-run news agency China News Service.
15th Sep 2020 - CNN

A COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Only 50% Effective. Is That Good Enough?

As we get closer to a COVID-19 vaccine, it’s exciting to imagine a day when the virus is gone. But a vaccine will not be a magic bullet. In fact, it may be only about 50% effective. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief of the National Institute of Health and Infectious Disease, has tried to set realistic expectations when discussing the importance of a vaccine. “We don’t know yet what the efficacy might be. We don’t know if it will be 50% or 60%,” Fauci said during a Brown University event in August. “I’d like it to be 75% or more,” Fauci said, but he acknowledged that may not be realistic. The Food and Drug Administration has said that once a vaccine is shown to be safe and at least 50% effective, it could be approved for use in the U.S.
14th Sep 2020 - WBEZ

China Begins Human Trial for First COVID-19 Nasal Spray Vaccine

China has approved a nasal spray COVID-19 vaccine candidate for clinical trial in humans that could be more effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus through the respiratory tracts and serve as an alternative to painful injections. The nasal spray vaccine candidate against COVID-19 has been developed by the State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases of the University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) in partnership with the Xiamen University (Fujian, China) and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. (Beijing, China).
14th Sep 2020 - HospiMedica

It’s time to focus on potential long-term organ damage from covid-19

New cases of covid-19 are declining across the country, so it's tempting to wonder whether the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Not by a long shot. Even as cases decline, it is possible we could soon be grappling with the burden of prolonged or permanent organ damage among the millions of people who have survived covid-19. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the long-term effects of this disease, but they could cripple not just these “survivors" but also our health-care system and our economy, too. The latest research suggests that this novel coronavirus does widespread damage to blood vessels far beyond the lungs — and is thus far more dangerous than previously thought.
14th Sep 2020 - Washington Post

Drugmaker says anti-inflamatory medicine may shorten COVID-19 recovery time

A drugmaker announced Monday that its arthritis drug shortens the number of days in the hospital for COVID-19 patients when used in combination with Remdesivir, another drug already used widely to treat the disease.
14th Sep 2020 - The Hill on MSN.com

Oxford University scientists to carry out first major trial of a tailor-made Covid-19 'antibody cocktail' on hospitalised patients to see if it treats the disease

The therapy REGN-COV2 will be trialled on up to 2,000 people in UK hospitals. It was developed using immune system antibodies from real recovered patients. Oxford University's RECOVERY trial to compare the drug to standard care. RECOVERY has already proven life-saving potential of steroid dexamethasone
14th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Not enough Covid vaccine for all until 2024, says biggest producer

The chief executive of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer has warned that not enough Covid-19 vaccines will be available for everyone in the world to be inoculated until the end of 2024 at the earliest. Adar Poonawalla, chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, told the Financial Times that pharmaceutical companies were not increasing production capacity quickly enough to vaccinate the global population in less time. “It’s going to take four to five years until everyone gets the vaccine on this planet,” said Mr Poonawalla, who estimated that if the Covid-19 shot is a two-dose vaccine — such as measles or rotavirus — the world will need 15bn doses.
14th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

AstraZeneca resumes COVID-19 vaccine trials in UK; awaits regulators elsewhere

AstraZeneca has resumed UK clinical trials for its Oxford coronavirus vaccine, having paused all trials last week for a safety review. Other late-stage global trials, however, remain on hold while AstraZeneca waits for regulators in each market.
14th Sep 2020 - BioPharma-Reporter.com

At least 2000 patients to receive new Covid-19 therapy in clinical trial

An antibody treatment that could lessen the impact of Covid-19 is to be trialled on patients in UK hospitals. The Recovery trial, co-ordinated by the University of Oxford, will assess the impact of giving patients REGN-COV2 alongside usual standard care to see if it lessens the severity of Covid-19 and can reduce deaths. In June, the Recovery trial, which includes 176 UK hospital sites, found that a cheap steroid called dexamethasone could save the lives of people with severe Covid infection. In the new phase 3 study, at least 2,000 patients will be randomly allocated to receive REGN-COV2 plus usual care, and the results will be compared with at least 2,000 patients not on the therapy.
14th Sep 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Extreme poverty 'will double by Christmas' in UK because of Covid-19

Britain’s largest food bank network has warned that UK destitution rates will double by Christmas alongside an explosion in demand for charity food parcels, as coronavirus job and income support schemes are wound down. The Trussell Trust predicts that at least 670,000 extra people will become destitute in the last three months of the year – a level of poverty that leaves them unable to meet basic food, shelter or clothing needs – if the government withdraws Covid support for low-income households. Despite unprecedented demand for charity food since lockdown – 100,000 people used food banks for the first time between April and June – the trust said ending furlough in October would trigger a rise in food bank use of at least 61% – equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 300,000 parcels.
14th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Chief scientist 'told off' for lockdown plea

The government's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said he was rebuked for arguing strongly in favour of imposing Covid lockdown restrictions earlier this year, it has emerged. In an email uncovered by a BBC Freedom of Information request, Sir Patrick reveals he was given a "telling off" from other senior officials. Some scientists argue lives could have been saved had a lockdown been introduced earlier. The government insists there was "no delay". In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said government policy had been "guided by the advice of world-renowned scientists".
14th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Sweden’s Covid-19 experiment holds a worldwide warning

Only a fool would draw strong conclusions from sketchy data. The biggest fools this year were those who prematurely declared the spike in Swedish infections from April until June as evidence that the Swedish decision not to lock down their economy was wrong. I recall many armchair epidemiologists hyperventilating about Sweden’s obstinate refusal to follow the rest of the world. Over the summer, Sweden took other steps to control the virus, including local lockdowns, and cases started to rise again in other parts of Europe. Now, Sweden’s new infection statistics look better than much of the EU. But we shouldn’t draw any conclusions yet. It was wrong two months ago to condemn the Swedish strategy based on that data, and it would be equally wrong to draw the opposite conclusion now.
14th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

CNN lauds Taiwan's healthcare system for defeating coronavirus

CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria on Sunday (Sept. 13) praised Taiwan for its extraordinary handling of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) and suggested that its universal healthcare system played in an important role. In a program titled "On GPS: Learning from Taiwan's Covid-19 response," Zakaria pointed out that Taiwan is almost always at the top of any list of countries that have handled the pandemic extremely well, with less than 500 cases and only seven deaths. Zakaria observed that the U.S., in contrast, has had 2,000 times the number of deaths and 1,000 times the number of infections as Taiwan per capita.
14th Sep 2020 - Taiwan News

Cancer tests and procedures halved during lockdown, Medicare data shows

New evidence has shown a sharp drop off in the number of cancer tests and procedures being performed during Australia's first lockdown due to COVID-19. Medicare data from April to May shows that diagnostic services for some of the most common types of cancers fell by up to 50 per cent, according to a report from Cancer Australia. The findings follow months of warnings from health experts that patients should not delay accessing vital health services during the pandemic. According to the report, from March to April the number of colonoscopies – used to diagnose bowel cancers - halved. The number of procedures used to diagnose breast cancer also fell by 37 per cent and treatments for skin cancers were down by 30 per cent, the report showed.
14th Sep 2020 - 9News

Coronavirus vaccine may not be ready for the public until NEXT winter, government scientific adviser warns

Professor Peter Openshaw warned of nine-month lag in 'scaling up' production. Comes as Oxford University re-started trials of its vaccine on Saturday. And China claimed it had identified a vaccine that is safe and effective
14th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

UK signs €1.4bn deal for Valneva coronavirus vaccine

The UK government has inked a €1.4bn (£1.3bn) deal to secure up to 190m doses of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by French biotech firm Valneva. Under the terms of the deal, Valneva will supply the government with 60m doses in the second half of 2021 at a cost of €470m. The UK then has options over 40m doses in 2022 and a further 30m to 90m up to 2025, with total possible revenue of €900m.
14th Sep 2020 - City A.M.

Coronavirus: UK to test inhaled vaccines

UK researchers are to begin trials of inhaled coronavirus vaccines. Delivering doses directly to the lungs might give a better immune response than conventional jabs, they say. The Imperial College London team will use two frontrunners already in development - the Oxford one recently paused in trials and one from Imperial that entered human testing in June. There are nearly 180 candidates being explored globally - but none has yet reached the end goal.
14th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus vaccine could give 'positive results' by Christmas and 'roll out in 9 months'

A coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out in the UK nine months from now - with trials hoping to report 'positive' results before Christmas, a leading scientist has said. Prof Peter Openshaw, who advises the government's SAGE group, said there were reasons for a glimmer of hope after a major trial was restarted following a patient's unexplained illness yesterday. But he and other scientists made clear a vaccine will not be ready in time for any second wave this winter. Prof Openshaw said "before the winter of 2021/22", there may a vaccine that is effective. But he also cautioned that it would not be available that soon in every country in the world.
14th Sep 2020 - Mirror Online

Moderna's Late-Stage Coronavirus Vaccine Study Hits 78% Enrollment

Moderna Inc, which is one of the three companies outside of China to have moved its coronavirus vaccine candidates into late-stage trials, is close to completing targeted enrollment into the study. As of Friday, Moderna said it has enrolled 23,497 participants — or roughly 78% of the targeted number of 30,000 — into the Phase 3 study dubbed COVE, which is evaluating its mRNA-1273 against the novel coronavirus. The company further said about 27% of the participants enrolled in the study are from diverse communities. "Working together with collaborators, the company hopes to achieve a shared goal that the participants in the COVE Study are representative of the communities at highest risk for COVID-19 and of our diverse society," Moderna said.
14th Sep 2020 - Benzinga

Pfizer proposes expanding Covid-19 vaccine trial to include more diversity as race for a vaccine continues

The race for a coronavirus vaccine shows no signs of slowing as more companies move their vaccine candidates through clinical trials, growing closer to determining which will be considered safe and effective. One such candidate is in development by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which announced along with its German partner BioNTech on Saturday they proposed expanding Phase 3 clinical trials to include 44,000 participants and more diverse patient populations, including people as young as 16. That's up from the initial plan of 30,000 participants, a benchmark they plan to meet next week, according to a news release. The proposal, which would need approval by the Food and Drug Administration, would allow the companies to collect more data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine candidate while diversifying the pool of participants.
13th Sep 2020 - CNN

Vaccine Makers Keep Safety Details Quiet, Alarming Scientists

Researchers say drug companies need to be more open about how vaccine trials are run to reassure Americans who are skittish about getting a coronavirus vaccine.
13th Sep 2020 - The New York Times


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 14th Sep 2020

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Belgium still at risk of coronavirus flare-up, ULB epidemiologist warns

Belgian leaders should remain wary as the country is still at risk of facing a resurgence of the new coronavirus similar to that gripping France and Spain, a Belgian epidemiologist warned. An alarming surge of new coronavirus infections could hit Belgium as early as within ten days, Yves Coppieters, an epidemiologist and professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) said in a TV interview on Thursday.
12th Sep 2020 - The Brussels Times

The Brazilian state of Bahia signs deal for Russia's vaccine against Covid-19

The Brazilian state of Bahia has signed an agreement to conduct Phase III clinical trials of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 and plans to buy 50 million doses to market in Brazil, officials have said. The Russian vaccine is being developed by Moscow's Gamaleya Research Institute and marketed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which last month also entered an agreement with the Brazilian state of Paraná to test and produce the vaccine. Russia will sell up to 50 million doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine to Bahia state, RDIF said in a statement.
12th Sep 2020 - Uruguay News

DCGI orders suspension of Serum's India trials of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine - ANI

India's drug regulator has asked Serum Institute of India to suspend recruitment in its clinical trials of AstraZeneca Plc's potential COVID-19 vaccine in the country until further orders, Reuters partner ANI reported on Friday. V.G. Somani, the drugs controller general of India, has also asked for increased safety monitoring of those already vaccinated with the experimental vaccine, ANI reported, citing an order issued by the regulator. The move places further restrictions on the trials, which have already been put on hold by Serum on Thursday after the DCGI had asked the vaccine maker for details on the suspension of trials overseas, in a show-cause notice that was reviewed by Reuters. Friday's order has been issued after Serum responded to the show-cause notice, according to ANI.
12th Sep 2020 - YAHOO!

AstraZeneca resumes UK trials of COVID-19 vaccine halted by patient illness

AstraZeneca has resumed British clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, one of the most advanced in development, after getting the green light from safety watchdogs, the company said on Saturday.
12th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Pfizer, BioNTech propose expanding COVID-19 vaccine trial to 44,000 volunteers

Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE on Saturday proposed to the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand their Phase 3 pivotal COVID-19 vaccine trial to about 44,000 participants while increasing the diversity of the trial population. The initial target figure for the trial was up to 30,000 participants, which the companies said they expect to reach by next week. The proposed expansion would also allow the companies to enroll people as young as 16 and people with chronic, stable HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B, they added.
12th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Oxford University resumes Covid-19 vaccine trials

The closely watched trial of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine that was halted after a participant fell ill is to resume in the UK. The University of Oxford, which has partnered with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to pilot the study, said that the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had recommended that its trials resume after an independent committee review of safety data triggered a pause last week. In a statement, the university said: “Globally some 18,000 individuals have received study vaccines as part of the trial. In large trials such as this, it is expected that some participants will become unwell and every case must be evaluated to ensure careful assessment of safety.”
12th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Oxford University vaccine trials resume after volunteer's side-effects caused pause

Trials of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will resume after a pause due to a reported side effect in a patient in the UK. AstraZeneca issued a statement on Tuesday night saying the late-stage studies of the vaccine had been paused while the company investigated whether the patient’s reported side effect is connected with the vaccine. On Saturday, Oxford University confirmed that trials would resume across all UK clinical trial sites. It comes after the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told a Downing Street press conference what has happened in the Oxford trial is not unusual.
12th Sep 2020 - ITV

Oxford coronavirus vaccine trials RESUME as they get the all-clear from regulators after volunteer fell ill with fever and chills

AstraZeneca said Tuesday the late-stage studies of the vaccine had been paused This was while it investigated whether patient's side effect was linked to vaccine Oxford University today said trials would resume across all UK clinical trial sites It comes after Sir Patrick Vallance said a pause is not unusual during trial phase
12th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready in time for the second wave, says Oxford’s Sir John Bell

A coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready in time for the second wave, the Government’s leading life sciences adviser has warned. Sir John Bell, 68, who sits on the UK’s vaccine taskforce and is also Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine, has warned that while the majority of vaccines take around eight years to develop, experts have only been working on a Covid-19 one for “just eight months”.
12th Sep 2020 - The Sun

Bharat Biotech’s Covid vaccine generated 'robust immune response' on animals

Hyderabad-based vaccine major Bharat Biotech has announced that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate Covaxin, during its testing on animal rhesus macaques, has develop a “robust immune response” to the highly infectious coronavirus, “preventing infection and disease in the primates upon high amounts of exposure to live SARS-CoV-2 virus."
12th Sep 2020 - Times of India

$4bn to produce coronavirus vaccine in Africa

The Egyptian government has said it is necessary to unite African efforts to confront the coronavirus and limit its health, social and economic effects on the continent’s people. Mohamed Maait, the Egyptian Minister of Finance and chairman of the General Assembly of the African Export-Import Bank, backed the bank’s view on the need for African countries to cooperate in financing a coronavirus vaccine — at an estimated cost of $4 billion in Egypt and South Africa. During his meeting with Benedict Oramah, chairman of the board of directors of the African Export-Import Bank, and his accompanying delegation, the minister affirmed the Egyptian government’s keenness to enhance economic cooperation with African countries. This included African integration as the main pillar for maximizing capabilities and supporting development efforts to meet the aspirations of the African people and revitalize intra-African trade.
12th Sep 2020 - Arab News

Oxford to Resume Trial of AstraZeneca Vaccine

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc have restarted a U.K. trial of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine after it was halted over concerns about a participant who fell ill. The U.K. Medicines Health Regulatory Authority recommended that the study resume after an independent review of the safety data triggered a pause on Sept. 6, Oxford said in a statement. It declined to disclose details about the volunteer’s illness. While temporary halts are common in vaccine trials, the interruption to the closely watched Astra-Oxford study had raised concerns about the viability of one of the fastest-moving experimental shots seeking protection from the pandemic. The race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine has compressed what is normally a decade-long process into a matter of months, with data from final-stage trials expected as soon as next month.
12th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

The underdog coronavirus vaccines the world will need if front runners stumble

As leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies fast-track COVID-19 vaccines through clinical trials, smaller developers face a battle to get their candidates noticed.
12th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Egypt to test coronavirus vaccine

Zayed warned that Egypt remains in the first wave of the outbreak, but can adapt to the virus through successful vaccine trials. The minister said that from Saturday volunteers will be invited for testing CAIRO: Egypt will test two
12th Sep 2020 - Arab News

Oxford’s Sir John Bell: ‘We’re not going to beat the second wave’

At lunchtime on Tuesday, Sir John Bell received a call telling him that the groundbreaking Oxford coronavirus vaccine trial would, regretfully, be paused. Hours later, news of an urgent investigation into an “unexplained illness” in one of the trial volunteers began spreading across the world. It was, as White House adviser Anthony Fauci described it, “unfortunate”- Bell thought it unsurprising and the system was workinhg well
12th Sep 2020 - Telegraph.co.uk

The Covid-19 vaccine gamble: where bets have been placed and why

The UK has ordered a total of 340m doses of potential coronavirus vaccines from six manufacturers. The EU has done a deal said to be worth €2.4bn (£2.2bn) with one developer, while the US has orders with six companies for 800m doses under Operation Warp Speed, with options on a further 1.6bn. Wealthy countries are paying upfront for something that has not yet been proven to work, willing to spend whatever it takes to get their economies running again. And yet they could have backed the wrong horse. It is a lottery on an unprecedented scale. They have rolled the dice and cannot know whether the gamble will pay off. Earlier this week, the frontrunner the UK and EU have ordered, the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, was paused after a volunteer became ill. It may not be vaccine-related, but such things can happen.
12th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

China's coronavirus vaccine shows military's growing role in research

The largest armed force in the world, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is not known for its cutting edge medical research. But since 2015, it has ramped up recruitment of scientists, and investment in the field as part of its strategy to modernize its military. Now, the coronavirus pandemic is showcasing the PLA's growing expertise in medical research, including a major role in developing the coronavirus vaccine that was the first in the world to be approved for restricted use.
12th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Astrazeneca says trials of COVID vaccine resuming

AstraZeneca AZN.L has resumed British clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, one of the most advanced in development, after getting the green light from safety watchdogs, the company said on Saturday.
12th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Pfizer proposes expansion of late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial

Pfizer and BioNTech said their late-stage trial is proceeding as planned and they expect to have enrolled 30,000 participants by next week. The two companies announced Saturday that they have submitted a proposal to the FDA to expand the phase-three trial of its coronavirus vaccine to include up to 44,000 participants. The expansion would help the companies ensure that their trial participants reflect a diverse population, especially with regard to people with underlying health conditions.
12th Sep 2020 - CNBC

CDC confirms asymptomatic children CAN spread COVID-19 to adults

The CDC observed 184 Utah students, teachers and family members over a three-month period. Testing and tracing revealed that 12 of the 110 students become infected with COVID-19. They spread the virus to at least 12 family members outside the facilities, even if they themselves were not showing symptoms. The study has raised alarm bells as schools and daycare centers reopen for fall. At least four teachers in three states died from COVID-19 complications since the start of the school year began less than two months ago. Among them was South Carolina third-grade teacher Demetria Bannister, 28, who died Monday just three days after she was diagnosed with the virus
12th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Face masks could be giving people Covid-19 immunity, researchers suggest

Face masks may be inadvertently giving people Covid-19 immunity and making them get less sick from the virus, academics have suggested in one of the most respected medical journals in the world. The commentary, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, advances the unproven but promising theory that universal face mask wearing might be helping to reduce the severity of the virus and ensuring that a greater proportion of new infections are asymptomatic. If this hypothesis is borne out, the academics argue, then universal mask-wearing could become a form of variolation (inoculation) that would generate immunity and “thereby slow the spread of the virus in the United States and elsewhere” as the world awaits a vaccine. It comes as increasing evidence suggests that the amount of virus someone is exposed to at the start of infection - the “infectious dose” - may determine the severity of their illness. Indeed, a large study published in the Lancet last month found that “viral load at diagnosis” was an “independent predictor of mortality” in hospital patients. Wearing masks could therefore reduce the infectious dose that the wearer is exposed to and, subsequently, the impact of the disease, as masks filter out some virus-containing droplets.
12th Sep 2020 - Yahoo

China coronavirus vaccine: Over 100,000 people receive experimental Covid-19 vaccine

China has taken a shortcut in the global sprint to develop and deliver vaccines for the novel coronavirus. Sinopharm, the state-owned company developing two of China’s leading vaccine candidates, told China National Radio on Monday that it has already vaccinated hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens — even though the company’s phase 3 clinical trials have not yet concluded. Individuals received one of two Sinopharm vaccines in development in an emergency use program launched by the Chinese government in late July, which also authorized a third vaccine, CoronaVac, developed by the privately owned drugmaker Sinovac Biotech. Under Chinese vaccine law, such authorization is allowed within a certain scope and time frame during a health emergency. China’s top vaccine official mentioned front-line medical workers and customs officials when he first announced the program, implying these high-risk groups had been prioritized to receive the still-experimental vaccines.
11th Sep 2020 - Vox.com

Transmission Dynamics of COVID-19 Outbreaks Associated with Child Care Facilities — Salt Lake City, Utah, April–July 2020

Children aged ≥10 years have been shown to transmit SARS-CoV-2 in school settings. Twelve children acquired COVID-19 in child care facilities. Transmission was documented from these children to at least 12 (26%) of 46 nonfacility contacts (confirmed or probable cases). One parent was hospitalized. Transmission was observed from two of three children with confirmed, asymptomatic COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 Infections among young children acquired in child care settings were transmitted to their household members. Testing of contacts of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in child care settings, including children who might not have symptoms, could improve control of transmission from child care attendees to family members.
11th Sep 2020 - CDC.gov

Fauci assures trials will find a safe coronavirus vaccine

Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the trials currently underway to find a coronavirus vaccine assured that only a safe vaccine would be distributed to the public.
11th Sep 2020 - MSNBC

Safety first: how to run a Covid-19 vaccine clinical trial | News | Wellcome

The world is waiting eagerly for Covid-19 vaccines to be developed as quickly as possible. But to make sure they are safe and effective, the clinical trials that test them have to be robust. So how do trials achieve this?
11th Sep 2020 - Wellcome Trust

Close case contact, dining out tied to COVID-19 spread

Studies today led by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) investigators highlight US transmission patterns of COVID-19 and show that close contact with confirmed cases and eating out at restaurants were linked to an increased likelihood of contracting the novel virus, while children in three Utah daycare centers were more likely to spread the virus to household members than among each other.
13th Sep 2020 - CIDRAP

Coronavirus vaccines: main contenders in the global race and when they could be available

The Oxford vaccine - STATUS - Doses are being manufactured to supply the NHS but there are no guarantees they will work. In July an early-stage trial involving about 1,100 healthy volunteers showed that the jab stimulated the kind of “robust immune responses” the researchers had hoped for. No side effects deemed to be dangerous were reported. Trials in Britain, South Africa and Brazil have recruited about 17,000 people. Another trial in the US, which aims to recruit a further 30,000, started injecting volunteers about a week ago and has now been paused.
10th Sep 2020 - The Times

Pfizer may win the COVID vaccine race. But distributing it could be another matter.

Pfizer, the multinational pharmaceutical company, may be the first in the United States to seek regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, but even if its vaccine is authorized, the company may face additional challenges in distributing it. That's because Pfizer's vaccine can't be stored in the refrigeration systems found at the typical doctor's office. Instead, it requires special ultra-low-temperature freezers that can store medicine at approximately 94 degrees below zero. The delivery system is complex, requiring the use of a custom-built "cool box" that can store 1,000 to 5,000 vaccines for up to 10 days at minus 94 degrees.
10th Sep 2020 - ABC News


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

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Serum Institute puts India trials of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on hold

Serum Institute of India has put on hold trials of AstraZeneca's potential Covid-19 vaccine in the country until the British drugmaker confirms it wishes to restart them, the company said on Thursday.
11th Sep 2020 - Reuters

180 COVID-19 vaccines in development, says WHO

Around 180 vaccines to combat COVID-19 are in development worldwide, including 35 in human trials, the WHO chief said on Friday. "No disease in history has seen such rapid development in research. It's a testament to the incredible advances in science and technology the world has made in recent years," Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. "It must be matched by its ambition to ensure as many people as possible have access to them." When journalists asked about differing claims on vaccines' arrival, including an aspiration by US President Donald Trump to have one by October, the WHO's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said people should remember that "clinical trials take time."
11th Sep 2020 - Anadolu Agency

Delayed immune responses may make COVID-19 deadly for elderly people

University of Washington analyzed swabs from 500 people tested for coronavirus for differences in people of different ages and sexes. They found signs that genes that turn on the immune response in elderly people get activated more slowly than those in younger people. Genes that should turn the immune system 'off' to keep inflammation from getting out of control are less active in men
10th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: An efficient and effective test trace regime is not a numbers game

We need a targeted testing strategy, not a blunderbuss, say Maggie Rae and Ellis Friedman. The government’s “moon shot” plan to test millions of people daily for covid-19 risks repeating the mistakes of the early days of test and trace. The ambition to deliver a further substantial increase in testing is welcome, but as the push for 100,000 daily tests exposed, an efficient and effective test trace regime is not a numbers game. Testing is not a medical intervention and on its own does nothing to control the disease. It only has value if the test is reliable and a positive test triggers a quick and effective response, which means immediately tracing the contacts of the infected person, investigating the source of their infection, and effectively preventing further transmission of the virus. Identifying large numbers of asymptomatic carriers has the potential to significantly strengthen our ability to manage the disease, but—as the continuing problems with laboratory capacity demonstrate—we are unlikely to ever have the capacity and public compliance to allow us to repeatedly test millions of asymptomatic people and then report the results and trace contacts efficiently. Even in areas where there are major outbreaks, such as Bolton, randomly offering tests to the public will not work effectively and will waste valuable resources. We need a targeted testing strategy, which is part of a well designed control strategy—not a blunderbuss.
10th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

Oxford Covid-19 vaccine is still possible this year, says AstraZeneca chief

AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine could still be available by the end of the year, or early next year, according to the company’s chief executive, Pascal Soriot, despite clinical trials being paused after a volunteer fell ill. AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which are jointly developing the vaccine and testing it on 50,000 to 60,000 people around the world, halted trials on Wednesday to investigate the “potentially unexpected illness” of one participant. Soriot was unable to say when the trial would resume, but said “I still think we are on track for having a set of data that we would submit before the end of the year” for regulatory approval. They “could still have a vaccine by the end of this year, early next year”, depending on how fast the regulator moves, he added.
10th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

The most dangerous phase of the US Covid-19 crisis may be yet to come

Studies have shown that living through a pandemic negatively affects confidence that vaccines are safe and disinclines the affected to vaccinate their children. This is specifically the case for individuals who are in their “impressionable years” (ages 18-25) at the time of exposure because it is at this age that attitudes about public policy, including health policy, are durably formed. This heightened skepticism about vaccination, observed in a variety of times and places, persists for the balance of the individual’s lifetime. The difference now is that Trump and his appointees, by making reckless and unreliable claims, risk aggravating the problem. Thus, if steps are not taken to reassure the public of the independence and integrity of the scientific process, we will be left only with the alternative of “herd immunity”, which, given Covid-19’s many known and suspected comorbidities, is no alternative at all.
10th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

UK epidemiologist warns of virus uptick, wants lockdown re-imposed

The epidemiologist whose modelling heavily influenced the British government to impose a lockdown in March has warned that fresh restrictions may have to be re-imposed in coming weeks to deal with a rise in new coronavirus cases. Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said he was encouraged that the government is banning social gatherings of more than six people from Monday, noting that one of the mistakes in the early days of the pandemic this year was an overly cautious approach. Still, he told BBC radio that all the analysis suggested there would be an uptick in deaths in the coming weeks, so now is the time to respond. The UK has seen Europe's deadliest virus outbreak, with around 41,600 deaths. Ferguson added that if the transmission rates don't fall markedly so the epidemic starts shrinking again, then we may need to clamp down in other areas.
10th Sep 2020 - Business Standard

Paging Dr. Hamblin: Why Didn’t America’s Shutdowns Work?

I’m an American living in Germany, and I’ve been following how some people in the United States have opposed lockdowns due to fears about “shutting down the economy.” It seems to me that even to those who believe the economy is what matters most, having a complete national lockdown for a few weeks is economically better than what the U.S. is going through now. Should the U.S. have done that? And is it too late?
10th Sep 2020 - The Atlantic

Covid: why Spain is hit worse than the rest of Europe

The problem is that the crisis has been hugely complicated by Spain’s political polarisation and its decentralised model of governance. Pedro Sánchez, prime minister, insists handling the pandemic is now primarily the responsibility of the country’s regions, whose collective health budget is more than 10 times that of his administration. The regions respond that the central government must provide more leadership. The upshot is that while controls were rapidly dropped in June — with plans for a step-by-step phase out being discarded — reintroducing such curbs has been halting and sometimes halfhearted. Some epidemiologists identify this as the central error in the handling of the crisis. Regions were able to scrap lockdown measures without demonstrating they were increasing track or trace staff or preparing more adequately for a new rise in cases.
10th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Boss of biotech company tasked with making coronavirus vaccine slams Dan Andrews' lockdown strategy

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews under fire from CSL chairman Brian McNamee. Melbourne businessman described roadmap out of lockdown as 'map of misery' CSL is one of the companies to manufacture a coronavirus vaccine in Australia. But its boss Dr McNamee has issued a dire warning to not bank on a vaccine
10th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus Australia: Mistake in COVID modelling that informed lockdown

A major error has been uncovered in the COVID-19 modelling used by the Federal Government to inform Australia’s tough lockdown restrictions. Modelling released by Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute earlier this year showed grim predictions of the impact the coronavirus pandemic would have on Australia if no measures were taken to suppress it. But The Daily Telegraph has revealed an error in the modelling meant the number of people that would need ICU beds was dramatically over-estimated, making the potential impacts of the pandemic appear much worse. When the modelling was released, chief medical officer Brendan Murphy branded it a “horrendous scenario”. “A daily demand for new intensive care beds of 35,000 plus,” he said. Professor Murphy warned Australians this ICU capacity was “completely beyond the realm of any country to create”.
10th Sep 2020 - News.com.au

Coronavirus: Why lockdown could be making you vitamin D deficient

With our minds focused on staying safe from COVID-19 and millions forced to stay indoors for weeks on end, there may be other aspects of your health that are suffering without you knowing. Vitamin D deficiency is one of the concerns among doctors with people being unable to get enough time outdoors. "Vitamin D is something that's synthesised inside our bodies and it starts with a process on the skin and often what we're needing is a certain amount of exposure to UV light to start the first step in the chain of producing vitamin D," Melbourne-based GP and spokeswoman from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Dr Lara Roeske told nine.com.au.
10th Sep 2020 - 9News

How error in numbers used to justify shutting down Australia during COVID-19 crisis went unnoticed

Australia's decision to lockdown at start of crisis based on miscalculated figures. Research estimated daily ICU demand of 35,000 beds in uncontrolled outbreak. But data confused ICU admissions with patients needing to be taken to hospital Then Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said at time data was 'horrendous.' Data used to guide government decision to shut down large parts of economy.
10th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: Kiwis turned to cannabis and alcohol to cope during lockdown - study

Nearly half of all Kiwi adults drank alcohol more frequently and heavily during the lockdown and its aftermath than they normally would, a new survey has found. Women led the way, 52 percent of them drinking more often and 48 percent more heavily than usual the 2020 Global Drug Survey found. Nearly 3000 Kiwis took part in the international research, which this year focused on how people's drug use was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns implemented to suppress it. Stuck at home, many people turned to alcohol and other drugs - while others cut back, robbed of opportunities for socialising with friends. "There's been a number of New Zealanders that have increased their consumption during lockdown, and they've maintained that post-lockdown," Nicki Jackson of Alcohol Healthwatch told The AM Show on Thursday.
10th Sep 2020 - Newshub

COVID-19 vaccine doses could arrive in Canada early in 2021: minister

Canada is "aggressively negotiating" with drugmakers on delivery schedules for potential Covid-19 vaccines and shipments would begin early in 2020 under existing deals, Canada's minister of public services and procurement told Reuters on Thursday.
10th Sep 2020 - Reuters

AstraZeneca vaccine trial pause a "wake-up call", ...

AstraZeneca's pause of an experimental vaccine for the coronavirus after the illness of a participant is a "wake-up call" but should not discourage researchers, the World Health Organization's (WHO) chief scientist said on Thursday. "This is a wake-up call to recognise that there are ups and downs in clinical development and that we have to be prepared," Soumya Swaminathan told a virtual briefing from Geneva. "We do not have to be discouraged. These things happen." Governments are desperate for a vaccine to help end the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused more than 900,000 deaths and global economic turmoil, and the WHO had flagged AstraZeneca's, being developed with Oxford University, as the most promising.
10th Sep 2020 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Headaches and delirium: coronavirus can invade brain, study says

Preliminary study suggests virus is able to replicate inside the brain, and its presence starves nearby brain cells of oxygen. Neurological impacts could also have been the result an abnormal immune response known as a cytokine storm
10th Sep 2020 - South China Morning Post


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

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AstraZeneca May Resume COVID-19 Vaccine Trials Next Week:

British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc could resume trials for its experimental coronavirus vaccine next week, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people associated with the trials. The London-listed firm had to pause global trials of its potential vaccine for COVID-19 after an unexplained illness in a participant, which sent its shares lower as the move was seen as dimming prospects for an early rollout.
9th Sep 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

Regeneron expects to report biomarker data for COVID-19 therapy by September end

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said on Wednesday it expects to report biomarker data for its COVID-19 antibody cocktail by the end of this month. The drugmaker last month struck a partnership with Roche to make and supply the Covid-19 antibody cocktail, which is being tested on several hundreds of patients after it prevented and treated the respiratory disease in animals.
9th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Could face masks be a crude 'vaccine' against Covid-19? Scientists claim infections caused by smaller viral loads passing through a covering could build up immunity

Masks, particularly surgical and cloth ones worn by most, are not perfect. They allow small viral particles to slip through filters into people's airways. This may be helping train people's bodies to be able to fight Covid infection
9th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity—even if they're young

Science's COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation. This spring, after days of flulike symptoms and fever, a man arrived at the emergency room at the University of Vermont Medical Center. He was young—in his late 30s—and adored his wife and small children. And he had been healthy, logging endless hours running his own small business, except for one thing: He had severe obesity. Now, he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was increasingly short of breath. He was admitted directly to the intensive care unit (ICU) and was on a ventilator within hours. Two weeks later, he died.
9th Sep 2020 - Science Magazine

Study finds no increased COVID-19 risk for train staff in Germany

Staff in long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn were not subject to an increased risk of infection with COVID-19, according to an ongoing study of around 1,000 employees published by the German state-owned rail operator on Wednesday. Only one Deutsche Bahn employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to first results of the study by Deutsche Bahn and the Charite Research Organization (CRO). The aim of the study is to gain scientifically sound findings on the occurrence of infections on trains. It was important that train staff were "not exposed to an increased risk of falling ill with COVID-19," said Martin Seiler, member of the management board for human resources and legal affairs at Deutsche Bahn.
9th Sep 2020 - Xinhua

Sweden's low positive test rate 'vindicates coronavirus strategy'

Sweden registered its lowest rate of positive coronavirus tests yet even as its testing regime has been expanded to record levels, in what some experts regard as a vindication of its comparatively unintrusive Covid-19 strategy. Over the past week the country carried out more than 120,000 tests, of which only 1.3 per cent identified the disease. At the height of the pandemic the proportion was 19 per cent. ohan Carlson, an epidemiologist and the director of the Swedish public health agency, said that Swedes seemed to be benefiting from widespread immunity because of the decision not to impose a full lockdown during the first wave. “Our strategy was consistent and sustainable,” Professor Carlson said.
9th Sep 2020 - The Times

Why ‘herd immunity’ is a distraction

Sweden’s many successes in curbing coronavirus have been overshadowed by its one spectacular failure: namely protecting the elderly. Goodman’s assessment of Sweden’s approach as “an unorthodox, open-air experiment” is not alone; the headline of a Washington Post article by Professor Gina Gustavsson in May termed it an experiment in “blind patriotism.” According to a more recent report in The Washington Post by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Josh Dawsey, one of Donald Trump’s chief health advisers, Scott Atlas, “is urging the White House to embrace a controversial ‘herd immunity’ strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus.” The article goes on to suggest that Dr Atlas is advocating an embrace of the so-called “Swedish model.”
9th Sep 2020 - Asia Times

Drugmaker Pauses Covid-19 Vaccine Trial for Safety Review

Britain is expected to limit most social gatherings to six people after a spike in cases. A political uproar quashed plans for targeted lockdowns in Israel. People caught maskless in Indonesia were told to lie in a coffin as punishment.
9th Sep 2020 - The New York Times

Coronavirus Australia: Andrews government 'in fear' of the virus, expert says

A health expert has revealed a coronavirus vaccine is far from a given despite worldwide investment. In an explosive interview with the Herald Sun, Brian McNamee, the chair of CSL – the firm tasked with producing vaccines in Australia – said the treatment could face a lengthy delay, if one arrives at all. “If they had asked us we would have told them that drug development is a very complex thing,” Dr McNamee said. “We can’t bank on a vaccine. I think the treatments are improving but we have to learn to live with COVID. We have to manage it.” However, Dr McNamee said the company was “cautiously optimistic”, but warned of “risks”. “…that’s why at CSL we’ve got two vaccines we could manufacture because the likelihood of both working is not high,” he told the publication.
9th Sep 2020 - News.com.au

Brazil trials of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine show promising results, governor says

The governor of Brazil's Sao Paulo state said on wednesday that Phase 3 clinical trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech have shown promising results and it may be available to Brazilians as early as December. Governor Joao Doria added that Phase 2 trials of the potential vaccine had shown an immune response of 98% in the elderly.
9th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

UK science adviser: other vaccine trials also likely to be paused

Other COVID-19 vaccine trials are likely to be paused at some point the British government's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, said, describing a pause in the trial of an AstraZeneca vaccine as "not good" but a sensible step.
9th Sep 2020 - Thomson Reuters Foundation


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

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AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine trials put on hold after suspected 'serious' reaction

Late stage trials for the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University have been put on hold. A 'serious adverse event,' a possible reaction to the shot was reported in the UK. It's not clear what happened to the individual, but an adverse event is considered 'serious' if it requires hospitalization, is life-threatening or deadly. Stat News reported that the individual is expected to recover, but little else is known about their identity. It is not clear if regulators, AstraZeneca or Oxford called for the trial hold. The shot was dubbed the best hope for a vaccine by the WHO and is one of nine in phase three trials - the last tests before approval can be sought
8th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

China expands supply of seasonal flu vaccine; urgent-use COVID-19 vaccinations exceed 100000

China is reportedly expanding the supply of seasonal flu vaccines this year as more people are expected to seek an inoculation in the face of a double threat from the flu and COVID-19. Newly developed COVID-19 vaccination are being administered for urgent use. More than 15 million doses of the seasonal flu vaccine have been approved for market this year, but experts expect 50 million doses, double the number in 2019, will be approved, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday, Approval procedures are also being accelerated, as nearly 7 million doses were approved in the first eight days of September, according to the report. Some Chinese cities like Shanghai, Shijiazhuang and Zhangjiakou in North China's Hebei Province and Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province also reportedly launched this year's vaccination campaign against flu earlier than usual. Zhangjiakou started offering vaccinations as early as August, according to media report. National authorities are preparing for the possibility that more people will want to get vaccinated against the flu this year, Lü Mengtao, operation director of Beijing Zhimed Medical Science, told the Global Times on Tuesday. The immunization rate against the flu is not very high in China, but the COVID-19 epidemic has raised awareness of vaccines, so more people will want to be inoculated this year, said Lü.
8th Sep 2020 - Global Times

Rates of Child Hospitalization Similar Between COVID-19, Flu: Study

While adults face raised odds for hospitalization with COVID-19, a new study shows that the risk for kids infected with SARS-CoV-2 is about equal to that seen with influenza. The researchers found that kids with COVID-19 or the seasonal flu have similar rates of hospitalization, admission to intensive care units (ICUs) and ventilator use. But the average age of children hospitalized differed: The average child hospitalized with COVID-19 was about 10 years of age, while kids hospitalized with flu average just over 4 years of age.
8th Sep 2020 - HealthDay News

LabCorp to launch single home swab test spanning COVID-19, the flu & RSV

LabCorp announced plans to launch a new at-home COVID-19 diagnostic that allows people to also get tested for the flu and respiratory syncytial virus from a single sample. The combined test is currently offered through doctors’ offices, hospitals and other healthcare providers, while the future, home-based version will be made available through LabCorp’s Pixel service, pending the FDA’s review and authorization. “The U.S. is facing the most challenging health crisis in a century and is about to enter flu season, which has the potential to put additional strain on our healthcare system and cost lives,” said Brian Caveney, LabCorp Diagnostics’ president and chief medical officer.
8th Sep 2020 - FierceBiotech

Coronavirus mutation rate faster in Bangladesh than global average: BCSIR

Coronavirus mutation rate in Bangladesh is faster than the global average and virus is changing rapidly, according to a study by Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR). It found the coronavirus mutation rate in the world at 7.23 per cent, while the rate in Bangladesh is 12.6 per cent. This information was given by a research team of the Genomic Research Laboratory of BCSIR. The observation was made at a press conference on Sunday morning. The study result was based on data of 263 cases of genome sequencing. The samples were collected between 7 May and 31 July.
8th Sep 2020 - Prothom Alo English

Facial Masking for Covid-19 — Potential for “Variolation” as We Await a Vaccine

To test our hypothesis that population-wide masking is one of those strategies, we need further studies comparing the rate of asymptomatic infection in areas with and areas without universal masking. To test the variolation hypothesis, we will need more studies comparing the strength and durability of SARS-CoV-2–specific T-cell immunity between people with asymptomatic infection and those with symptomatic infection, as well as a demonstration of the natural slowing of SARS-CoV-2 spread in areas with a high proportion of asymptomatic infections. Ultimately, combating the pandemic will involve driving down both transmission rates and severity of disease. Increasing evidence suggests that population-wide facial masking might benefit both components of the response.
8th Sep 2020 - The New England Journal of Medicine

Hundreds of thousands have been given Covid-19 vaccines without a single infection, Chinese drug firm says

An official from China National Biotec Group says the evidence from an emergency use scheme suggests the products are working. Company is also confident its vaccines can offer protection for up to three years.
8th Sep 2020 - South China Morning Post

Covid-19 in children: the signs and symptoms of coronavirus in kids including high temperature and a rash - and how they differ to adults

Several schools across the UK have reported cases of Covid-19, but symptoms in children may be harder to spot. New research suggests that the virus presents differently in children than in adults - so what signs should you look out for?
8th Sep 2020 - The Scotsman

Study shows COVID-19 vaccine may not be as effective among obese people

Obese people who become infected with COVID-19 are nearly 50% more likely to die from it and any potential vaccine may not be as effective, researchers have said. The newly published study used coronavirus data from around the world and is likely to ramp up the pressure for governments around the world to take urgent action to tackle obesity. The US and UK have some of the highest obesity rates in the world. According to figures by the American government, more than 40% of US citizens are obese and in England, the condition impacts 27% of adults.
8th Sep 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

Covid-19 death rate among African Americans and Latinos rising sharply

The death rate in the US from Covid-19 among African Americans and Latinos is rising sharply, exacerbating the already staggering racial divide in the impact of the pandemic which has particularly devastated communities of color. New figures compiled by the Color of Coronavirus project shared with the Guardian show that both total numbers of deaths and per-capita death rates have increased dramatically in August for black and brown Americans. Though fatalities have also increased for white Americans, the impact on this group has been notably less severe. The latest figures record that in the two weeks from 4 to 18 August the death rate of African Americans shot up from 80 to 88 per 100,000 population – an increase of eight per 100,000. By contrast the white population suffered half that increase, from 36 to 40 per 100,000, an increase of 4 per 100,000.
8th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

What bats can teach us about developing immunity to Covid-19

Viruses love bats. The flying nocturnal mammals make outstanding hosts because — just like people — they live in large, dense groups, their air travel spreads germs between populations and their longevity enables a virus to persist for years in an individual animal. The big difference is that bats’ remarkable immune system tames and tolerates many viruses that cause havoc when they spread to humans, including the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19. “We should look at what bats are doing to control the virus and emulate that in some way,” says Bernard Crespi, professor of evolutionary biology at Simon Fraser University in Canada, one of a growing group of scientists finding clues to the pandemic through bat immunology.
8th Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Why won't my Covid-19 symptoms go away?

Elly, 37, was training for the London Marathon when she says she started to develop Covid-19 symptoms in March and, almost six months later, she believes she's still suffering from them. Similarly Meredith, 22, who is a keen cyclist, first noticed her symptoms in April and doesn't think she has fully recovered. The Royal College of GPs says there needs to be a national network of post-Covid clinics to help those like Elly and Meredith.
8th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Covid-19 in Britain: a summer of mixed messages

Public trust in the government’s ability to handle the coronavirus crisis has been tested by a summer of mixed messages, during which advice on the precautions people should be taking to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as well as forecasts on the outlook for the UK, have often been contradictory.
8th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Why the modelling behind Melbourne's extended stage 4 lockdown is problematic | Joshua Gans

A different, more traditional, model would have suggested a more granulated location-based (eg local authority or postcode group) easing of restrictions, achieving the same result with fewer economic and social costs. There can be no doubt the stage four lockdown, introduced at 6pm on Sunday 2 August, has achieved spectacular results. Usually in an upswing, measures take two or more weeks to have an effect. But in Victoria the decline was dramatic. That doesn’t mean costs don’t matter. The delays inherent in the extension and reopening plan are considerable. It works like this:
8th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19: what happens when flu season hits? (part 1) – podcast

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, flu season is quickly approaching. This raises an important question: what will it mean for Covid-19? Could hospitals be overloaded? Is co-infection likely and could it make symptoms worse? Or, will transmission of Sars-CoV-2 prevent the spread of seasonal influenza? In the first of two parts, Ian Sample addresses the question of flu and Covid-19 by investigating how different respiratory viruses interact. Speaking with Prof Pablo Murcia, Ian explores the interplay when viruses meet – both on a population level, and on the human scale
8th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine study is put on hold

A large, Phase 3 study testing a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford at dozens of sites across the U.S. has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom. A spokesperson for AstraZeneca, a frontrunner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, said in a statement that the company’s “standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data.” It was not immediately clear who placed the hold on the trial, though it is possible it was placed voluntarily by AstraZeneca and not ordered by any regulatory agency. The nature of the adverse reaction and when it happened were also not immediately known, though the participant is expected to recover, according to an individual familiar with the matter.
8th Sep 2020 - STAT News

Half a million US children have been diagnosed with Covid-19

Half a million US children have been diagnosed with Covid-19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association. The groups said 70,630 new child cases were reported from August 20 through September 3. This is a 16% increase in child cases over two weeks, bringing up the total to at least 513,415 cases, the groups said in their weekly report on pediatric coronavirus cases. "These numbers are a chilling reminder of why we need to take this virus seriously," American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Sally Goza said in a news release. "While much remains unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the spread among children reflects what is happening in the broader communities," she added.
8th Sep 2020 - CNN


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 8th Sep 2020

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60,000 may have 'long Covid' for more than three months – UK study

Up to 60,000 people in the UK may have been suffering from “long Covid” for more than three months, unable to get the care they need to recover from prolonged and debilitating symptoms. Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London who runs the app-based Covid symptom study, said around 300,000 people had reported symptoms lasting for more than a month. A minority have been suffering for longer; up to 60,000 people have reported having symptoms for more than three months. Some cases are mild, but others are seriously debilitating, with breathlessness and fatigue. Some people have had to use wheelchairs. Others say attempting to carry out everyday tasks such as shopping or even climbing the stairs can leave them bedridden for days.
8th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Warnings from scientists as UK cases continue to rise

Two members of the UK government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have given stark warnings over the increase in coronavirus cases across the country. Prof John Edmunds said cases were now "increasing exponentially". While England's deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van Tam, said people had "relaxed too much" and must start taking the virus seriously again. Some 2,948 UK cases were recorded on Monday, according to government data. It follows 2,988 new cases being announced on Sunday, which was the highest figure since 22 May. Prof Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told ITV's Robert Peston that the R number - which rates Covid-19's ability to spread - had risen "above one", so the UK was in a "risky period". "We can see the epidemic is taking off again. So I don't think we've hit that sweet spot where we've been able to control the epidemic and allow the economy to return to some sort of normality," he said.
8th Sep 2020 - BBC News

Fatigue and headache most common Covid symptoms in children – study

Fatigue, headache and fever are the most common symptoms of coronavirus in children, with few developing a cough or losing their sense of taste or smell, researchers have found, adding to calls for age-specific symptom checklists. The NHS lists three symptoms as signs of Covid-19 in adults and children: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, and a loss or change in the sense of smell or taste. However, the team behind the Covid symptom study app say new data shows that the disease presents differently in children compared with adults. “We need to start to telling people what are the key symptoms at different ages rather than this blanket obsession with fever, cough and lack of smell,” said Prof Tim Spector, of King’s College London, who led the work.
7th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Let’s get real. No vaccine will work as if by magic, returning us to ‘normal’

Urgency must not be misunderstood; accelerating vaccine development must not mean compromising safety. Transparent, rigorous assessment by independent regulatory bodies without political interference is non-negotiable. Trust is our most important tool in public health and we must do everything we can to avoid putting that in doubt. It cannot be bought on short-term promises. Already, there are worrying signs of diminishing trust in potential Covid-19 vaccines. Polls suggest that in countries with some of the highest global case numbers, such as the United States, there could be low uptake of any Covid-19 vaccine, no matter how effective. This must not become a polarised political issue; public health is too important.
7th Sep 2020 - The Guardian

HK study finds COVID-19 stool tests may be more effective for infants

Stool tests may be more effective than respiratory tests in identifying COVID-19 infections in children and infants since they carry a higher viral load in their stool than adults, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) said. Sttol samples carry the virus even after it has cleared from a patient's respiratory tract and that could lead to better identification of asymptomatic cases, particularly in infants and others who have difficulty providing nasal or throat swabs, CUHK researchers said in a press release
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Test and trace could be overwhelmed if 'dramatic' rise in Covid-19 cases

The nation’s test-and-trace system will be overwhelmed if there is a “dramatic” rise in Covid-19 cases, ministers were warned today after the biggest daily leap since May. Concerns are rising after some people were being asked to travel hundreds of miles to get tested because there were no slots available at their local testing centre.
7th Sep 2020 - Evening Standard

Winter wave of Covid-19 'could overwhelm 87% of NHS hospitals' as they struggle to cope with normal seasonal pressures as well as the pandemic, analysis warns

As many as 115 trusts of 132 surveyed could be over capacity this winter. Figure was found by comparing winter demand and April Covid-19 demand. Four out of five trusts that could be most over-capacity are based in the capital
7th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

China shows off its COVID-19 vaccine candidates that could 'hit the market by the end of this year'

China showcased two potential coronavirus vaccines at a trade fair in Beijing. They are expected to be approved and ready to be produced as early as year-end. Nearly 10 COVID-19 vaccine candidates worldwide have entered phase 3 trials. Russia is the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine
7th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

The first Covid-19 vaccine may not be the magic bullet that returns life to 'normal' | News

The 'first' vaccine, or even the first generation of vaccines, will most likely not be perfect; we need to be pragmatic and transparent on that front. The reality is that with these vaccines, we will be taking small steps to return to a sense of normality. Plenty is attached to the word vaccine. When we hear it, we think of one of the greatest advances in human health, one that eliminates smallpox and saves millions every year from polio and tetanus, from HPV and the flu. However, the first generation of Covid-19 vaccines will probably be only partially effective. They might not be completely effective in all ages or appropriate in all health systems. It is very possible that they might provide immunity only for a limited period, even as short as 12 to 18 months. This might not be what we are used to from a vaccine, but there is no doubt that the first effective vaccines, even imperfect ones, can have a major impact and be a precious commodity.
7th Sep 2020 - Wellcome Trust

China, Russia and Iran 'have deployed spies to steal US vaccine research in an intelligence war targeting biotech companies and university research centers'

Hackers and spies from China, Russia and Iran have targeted American biotech companies and research universities to steal vaccine research, officials say Chinese intelligence hackers tried to steal information from the University of North Carolina and other schools, according to two officials. Russian spies tried to steal data from universities and agencies in the US, Canada and Britian but were detected by a British surveillance agency. Some of the targeted American biotech companies include Gilead Sciences, Novavax and Moderna. So far no corporation or university has announced any data thefts from publicly identified hacking efforts, but some hackers have penetrated network defenses
7th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

India didn't prioritize mental health before Covid-19. Now it's paying the price

"My heartbeats are heavy. It becomes difficult to catch my breath. My hands shake and get sweaty," said Aritri Paul of the terrifying panic attacks that strike more frequently since India went into coronavirus lockdown in March. India's government started easing the most severe restrictions on daily life in June, but the effects of the lockdown on residents' mental health are still emerging, as the country battles one of the most severe Covid-19 outbreaks in the world. India now has over 4.2 million cases of the virus, giving it the second-highest tally of recorded cases globally, only behind the Unites States. "The worst are the headaches and the pain in my eyes," said Paul, who lives in Kolkata, West Bengal. "I have had more panic attacks this year than in my entire life combined."
7th Sep 2020 - CNN

Australia expects to receive AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine in January

Morrison said his government has struck a deal with CSL Ltd to manufacture two vaccines - one developed by rival AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and another developed in CSL's own labs with the University of Queensland. "Australia needs some hope," Morrison told reporters in Canberra. "Today, we take another significant step to protect the health of Australians against the coronavirus pandemic." Health Minister Greg Hunt said scientists leading the development of both vaccines have advised that recent evidence suggests both will offer "multi-year protection". Morrison said CSL is expected to deliver 3.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is currently undergoing late-stage clinical trials in Britain, Brazil and South Africa, in January and February next year. AstraZeneca's candidate, AZD1222, is viewed as a frontrunner in the global race to deliver an effective vaccine to combat the virus.
7th Sep 2020 - Japan Today

Health tech pins hope on Africa's pandemic shift to online care

Across the globe, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in the way medicine is practised as medical care increasingly begins with an online consultation rather than a face-to-face meeting. In this story, the clinic, run by Nigerian health technology firm eHealth Africa, sent a patient a web browser link to hold a video chat with a doctor who diagnosed her son with a mild illness and prescribed medicine to avoid dehydration.
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Australia expects to receive AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine within months

Australia expects to receive its first batches of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in January, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, as the number of new daily infections in the country's virus hotspot fell to a 10-week low
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Fear and dread haunt COVID-19 'long-haulers'

Callard is one of thousands of people worldwide who are reporting a wide range of ongoing symptoms many months after being diagnosed with Covid-19. Some call themselves Covid "long haulers" while others have adopted the term "long Covid" to describe their condition.
7th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19 Can Wreck Your Heart, Even if You Haven't Had Any Symptoms

Beyond its scientific backing, the notion that a COVID-19 patient might wind up with long-term lung scarring or breathing issues has the ring of truth. After all, we hear the stories, right? The virus can leave survivors explaining how they struggled to breathe, or how it can feel, in the words of actress Alyssa Milano, “like an elephant is sitting on my chest.” We’ve also known for a while that some COVID-19 patients’ hearts are taking a beating, too—but over the past few weeks, the evidence has strengthened that cardiac damage can happen even among people who have never displayed symptoms of coronavirus infection. And these frightening findings help explain why college and professional sports leagues are proceeding with special caution as they make decisions about whether or not to play.
7th Sep 2020 - Scientific American


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 7th Sep 2020

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Covid: Australia hopes to roll out almost 85 million vaccine doses

Australia says it will secure almost 85 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine if two promising trials prove successful. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country had struck two deals that would allow free doses to be rolled out in 2021 if they were approved for use. Mr Morrison estimated the cost to be A$1.7bn (£0.9bn; $1.24bn). Australia's 25 million people could begin receiving doses from January but there were "no guarantees", he said. "However the agreement puts Australia at the top of the queue, if our medical experts give the vaccines the green light," the prime minister said. One vaccine is from Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, while the other is a local one from the University of Queensland and CSL
6th Sep 2020 - BBC News

India to Make Covid-19 Vaccine Available to Friendly Neighbors

Indian pharmaceutical companies will be among the largest producers of a coronavirus vaccine once it is available and will ensure supplies to friendly nations in the neighborhood, said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla. India’s relations with Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have never been better “contrary to impressions,” Shringla said Friday at a foreign policy seminar in New Delhi. The South Asian nation, which is engaged in a border confrontation with China since early May, continues to remain open to dialog with Beijing, he said.
5th Sep 2020 - Bloomberg

India will supply coronavirus vaccines to the world — will its people benefit?

As scientists edge closer to creating a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, Indian pharmaceutical companies are front and centre in the race to supply the world with an effective product. But researchers worry that, even with India’s experience as a vaccine manufacturer, its companies will struggle to produce enough doses sufficiently fast to bring its own huge outbreak under control. On top of that, it will be an immense logistical challenge to distribute the doses to people in rural and remote regions. Indian drug companies are major manufacturers of vaccines distributed worldwide, particularly those for low-income countries, supplying more than 60% of vaccines supplied to the developing world. Because of this, they are likely to gain early access to any COVID-19 vaccine that works, says Sahil Deo, co-founder of India’s CPC Analytics in Pune, which is studying vaccine distribution in the country.
5th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Is India missing COVID-19 deaths?

Experts have questioned shortcomings and lack of clarity in vital registration, testing practices, and classification of COVID-19 deaths. Patralekha Chatterjee reports from New Delhi. India has had 3·6 million cases of COVID-19, the third most in the world after the USA and Brazil, with 65 288 officially confirmed deaths from the disease as of Sept 1, 2020. The Indian Government says that the national recovery rate has reached 77% and the case fatality rate is down to 1·8%, due to “timely and effective clinical management of the patients in critical care” according to an official statement on Aug 30. However, experts who spoke with The Lancet have pointed to several sources of uncertainty in India's COVID-19 mortality data.
5th Sep 2020 - The Lancet

Nine-year-old boy becomes first Australian to be struck by 'rare COVID-related illness'

A nine-year-old boy has been admitted to Monash Hospital with a rare disease. PIMS-TS is a potentially deadly COVID-related illness which effects children The young boy is the first patient in Australia to contract the mysterious illness
5th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Children's inflammatory illness associated with coronavirus emerges in Australia. Here's what we know about it

A rare inflammatory condition found in children and associated with COVID-19 has emerged in Australia, with one case confirmed so far. The illness, known as Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS-TS), was first recorded in areas with large coronavirus outbreaks overseas earlier this year. The condition is mentioned alongside Kawasaki disease, which is also rare and potentially severe, because it has similar symptoms. Experts stress the illness is very rare but the emergence of the condition earlier this year, and the deaths of children overseas, has prompted concerns.
5th Sep 2020 - ABC News

Coronavirus found in South Australia's sewage as the state records first case in 12 days

Wastewater testing has found traces of coronavirus in South Australia's sewage. The state recorded one new case for the first time in 12 days on Saturday. Victorian woman tried to travel through Adelaide Airport to Alice Springs. She tested positive to coronavirus in hotel quarantine late on Friday evening
5th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

COVID-19 - Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA) authorizes Dompé's REPAVID-19, a Phase 2 Clinical Trial for Treatment of Severe Patients

Reparixin inhibits the action of interleukin 8 (IL-8), one of the inflammatory signaling proteins that is thought to be associated with the lung injury seen in patients with SARS-CoV2 infection. Consequently, this action is aimed to be useful in the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia patients. The treatment is based on Reparixin oral tablets 1200 mg TID till 21 days, in case of confirmed improvement after 7 days. REPAVID-19 will enroll 48 for Phase 2, 111 for Phase 3 with severe COVID-19 pneumonia randomized 2:1 in the Phase 2, and the results will inform the study design for the Phase 3. The study involves a minimum of 10 Brazilian centers. Following successful completion of Phase 2, Dompé has prepared a rapid transition into a Phase 3 program, to begin once data from Phase 2 are positively evaluated, and to be extended to multiple US centers.
5th Sep 2020 - PR Newswire

Brazil's COVID-19 total tops 4 million; global vaccine plan gains steam

In global COVID-19 developments, Brazil passed the 4-million-case mark, and World Health Organization (WHO) officials said more developed countries have joined the COVAX initiative, a promising sign for a tool designed to support vaccine development and allocate doses fairly. The global total today climbed to 26,427,137 cases, and 870,948 people have died from their infections, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.
5th Sep 2020 - CIDRAP

Brazil uses less than a third of available coronavirus tests, newspaper says

Seven months after Brazil declared a state of emergency because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the country's Health Ministry has distributed less than a third of the 22.9 million available RT-PCR test kits, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper reported on Friday.
5th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

COVID-19: Singapore to prioritise vaccination of higher-risk groups, those more likely exposed to virus

Once COVID-19 vaccines become available, Singapore's approach will be to protect those at higher risk or people who may be more likely to be exposed to infection, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (Sep 4). He was responding to a question from Member of Parliament Murali Pillai on what the Government's strategy is for vaccinating Singaporeans and residents. MP Ang Wei Neng had also asked what the country's COVID-19 vaccine plans are. In his written reply, Mr Gan said: "Our vaccination approach aims to protect individuals who are more vulnerable or at higher risk from the disease, as well as those who may be more likely exposed to infection, while progressively expanding the coverage of vaccination to our population." Mr Gan noted that the vaccination strategy and schedule would depend on several factors, including the suitability of different vaccines for different groups, as well as the quantity of vaccines available.
5th Sep 2020 - Channel NewsAsia Singapore

Russian Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Yields Promising Early Results

Two early-phase Russian coronavirus vaccine trials have produced promising results, with participants experiencing no serious adverse effects and evidence of an antibody response. Controversy greeted the announcement last month that Russia had approved the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine – before it had completed final “phase 3” clinical trials.
5th Sep 2020 - Huffington Post UK

Pfizer sees COVID-19 vaccine data in thick of U.S. election fight

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer should know in October if a Covid-19 vaccine it is developing works, CEO Albert Bourla said on Thursday, Potentially placing it at the centre of a bitter U.S. presidential politics dispute ahead of the Nov 3 election.
5th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

Explained: What a study from China tells us about airborne transmission in public transport

A new study published in the journal JAMA Network suggests airborne transmission in a bus in China led to one infected individual spreading of COVID-19 to 23 other fellow passengers. Analysing community transmission in China’s Zhejiang province, the study reports that 128 individuals took two buses on January 19, 2020 — 60 in bus 1 and 68 in bus 2 — on a 100 minute round trip to attend a 150-minute worship event. The source patient was a passenger on bus 2 and both the buses had central air conditioners functioning in indoor recirculation mode. Among these 128 individuals, 15 were men, 113 were women with a mean age of 58.6 years. On bus 2, 24 individuals turned out to be positive after the event, while none of the individuals in bus 1 were affected. Seven others who turned positive after the outdoor event had all come close to the index patient.
5th Sep 2020 - The Indian Express

Covid-19: CDC says vaccine is coming before November US election

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told public health departments in all 50 US states and five large cities to get ready to distribute a covid-19 vaccine by 1 November, two days before the US presidential election on 3 November. President Donald Trump said on 27 August during the Republican convention that a vaccine might well be ready by the end of October. On the same day Robert Redfield, head of the CDC, sent the letter alerting public health departments.Health and human services secretary Alex Azar said in a television interview, “It has nothing to do with elections. This has to do with delivering safe, effective vaccines to the American people as quickly as possible and saving people’s lives." Several public health experts, including Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, previously said that it was more likely that a vaccine would be available in 2021. However, Fauci said on 1 September that a vaccine might be available earlier if the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board decides that the ongoing clinical trials show overwhelmingly positive results. On 3 September Moncef Slaoui, the White House’s chief vaccine programme adviser, said it was “extremely unlikely but not impossible” that a vaccine would be available by late October.
5th Sep 2020 - The BMJ

US backs Roche's Covid-19-flu differentiation test

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche said Friday (September 4)it had received the green light in the United States for emergency use of a diagnostic test differentiating between coronavirus and influenza. Amid fears the flu season will place additional burdens on health system, authorities are keen to see tests which can distinguish coronavirus from other seasonal illnesses, notably flu.
5th Sep 2020 - Pharmacy Business

US officials assure COVID vaccine decisions won't be political

After news broke earlier this week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked states to prepare for vaccine distribution as early as the end of October, many skeptics feared the vaccine was being rushed as part of Trump's re-election campaign. "There is a very, very low chance that the trials that are running as we speak could read before the end of October, and therefore there could be—if all other conditions required for an emergency use authorization are met and approved," said Moncef Slaoui, PhD, chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed, in an interview with National Public Radio. "I think it's extremely unlikely but not impossible, and therefore it's the right thing to do to be prepared in case."
5th Sep 2020 - CIDRAP

US university workers fight a return to campus as COVID-19 cases grow

A wave of activism is sweeping US campuses that have reopened after their summer break amid the COVID-19 crisis. Across the country, university workers — including faculty members and staff who teach in classrooms and laboratories, and housekeeping staff who clean dormitories — are pushing back against requirements that they show up on campus alongside undergraduates, thereby, they say, risking their own health. One group has filed a lawsuit against the University of North Carolina (UNC) system, which includes 16 institutions across the state, claiming that the system has not provided a safe workplace for its staff. Others have staged protests — including ‘die-ins’, in which demonstrators have simulated coronavirus deaths — to demand remote classes and more COVID-19 testing. In one case, university faculty members passed a ‘no confidence’ vote to indicate that their chancellor had neglected their concerns and botched the institution’s reopening.
5th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Sanofi France chief: future COVID-19 vaccine seen below 10 euros

A coronavirus vaccine that Sanofi is developing with GlaxoSmithKline is likely to be priced at less than 10 euros per shot if it is approved for use, Sanofi's chief in France said on Saturday. "the price is not totally set...We are assessing production costs for the coming months...We will be below 10 euros," Olivier Bogillot told France Inter radio
5th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK

US Surgeon General, vaccine czar, say covid shot by election 'improbable'

US Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams said it is 'not probable' that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by November 1 - two days before the election. He said CDC guidance telling states to prepare for vaccinations to arrive by the end of October were sent so they are ready 'in case' of an early approval. Vaccine czar Dr Moncef Slaoui told NPR there is a 'very very low chance' of a shot being ready by Halloween and promised to resign if there is 'undue interference'
4th Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

This is the state of COVID-19 vaccine development now

There are 321 confirmed COVID-19 vaccine candidates, 32 of which have already entered clinical trials. Plus, India’s vaccine production paradox
4th Sep 2020 - Nature.com

Glaxo and Sanofi start human trials in the US of coronavirus vaccine

A coronavirus vaccine being developed by a partnership involving one of Britain’s biggest drug companies has begun human trials. Glaxosmithkline and Sanofi, of France, are enrolling 440 healthy adults in the trial at 11 locations in the United States to test the safety, immune response and tolerability of the treatment. The results are expected as soon as early December, which would be the cue for a larger, late-stage trial before the end of the year. If the trials are successful, the companies plan to seek regulatory approval for the vaccine in the first half of next year.
4th Sep 2020 - The Times

COVID-19 Heart Problems: What Is the Pandemic Doing to Us?

The stairs have become my daily Everest. Just six months ago, the steep climb to my fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn was a nuisance only when I was carrying bags of groceries. Now, every time I mount those 53 steps, no matter how slowly, even if I’m empty-handed, my heart rate shoots up to marathon-level. I can actually feel the thud-thud in my throat. Sometimes I have to pause between landings to lie on the floor and stick my feet up in the air to avoid passing out.
4th Sep 2020 - The Atlantic

Brazil's Tecpar to test Russian COVID-19 vaccine on 10,000 people in early 2021

The technology institute fo the Brazilian state of Parana, which has signed an agreement to produce Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, said on Friday it plans to conduct Phase III trials on 10,000 volunteers in Brazil at the start of next year
4th Sep 2020 - Reuters UK


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

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UNICEF says drugmakers can produce unprecedented vaccine quantities for COVID-19

Unprecedented quantities of vaccines could be produced by 28 manufacturers in 10 countries over the next two years to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Thursday, as it announced it would help lead efforts to procure and distribute them. UNICEF’s role is part of a COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan - known as COVAX and co-led by the World Health Organization - that aims to buy and provide equitable access to the shots. So far, 76 wealthy nations committed to joining the COVAX effort.
4th Sep 2020 - Reuters

Dr. Fauci says he has 'confidence and some faith' the coronavirus vaccine approval won't be political

The Food and Drug Administration has been “very explicit” that it is going to make a decision based on data from clinical trials, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. “We can have some confidence and some faith in what the FDA is saying,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.
3rd Sep 2020 - CNBC

Fauci: Daily COVID-19 cases need to drop by at least 30K for safe flu season

The United States must cut the daily number of new COVID-19 cases by at least 30,000 to avoid a disastrous flu season, the nation's top infectious disease expert said Wednesday. "We're right around 40,000 new cases" a day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on "Andrea Mitchell Reports." "That's an unacceptably high baseline. We have got to get it down. I would like to see it 10,000 or less," he added.
3rd Sep 2020 - NBC News

Why COVID-19 vaccines need to prioritize 'superspreaders'

A committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health – has proposed an equitable way to allocate the vaccine. They recommend first responders and health care workers take top priority. Older adults in congregate living situations would also be part of a first vaccination phase, according to the plan. We are faculty at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Southern California who have spent decades studying health economics and epidemiology. One of us is a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Having seen firsthand the real risks of rapid, asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 among younger adults, we disagree with some of the recommendations. Asymptomatic spread is shutting down schools and universities nationwide and threatening surrounding communities. We argue that this pandemic requires a different model for making vaccination choices. After taking care of essential workers, vaccinations should be given to the biggest transmitters of the virus – mostly the young – and only then to the most vulnerable.
3rd Sep 2020 - Fairfield Citizen

Vitamin D deficiency raises COVID-19 infection risk by 77%, study finds

Vitamin D deficiency increases a person's risk for catching COVID-19 by 77% compared to those with sufficient levels of the nutrient, a study published Thursday by JAMA Network Open found.
3rd Sep 2020 - UPI.com

Novavax Gains Following Promising Covid-19 Vaccine Trials

Shares of biotechnology company Novavax (NVAX) - Get Report rose on Thursday after the company revealed that early stage clinical trial results of its Covid-19 vaccine were safe and elicit an immune response. According to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Novavax’s phase 1 clinical trial results showed that its Covid-19 vaccine candidate induced immune responses and was generally safe in people ages 18 to 59. “The rapid publication of Phase 1 results from our trial in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal reflects both the importance of the data and the urgent need for an effective vaccine to slow the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gregory Glenn, Novavax president of research and development, in a statement. Based on the positive results, which were previously announced by the company in early August, Novavax said it plans to continue with broader phase 2 studies this month to see whether the vaccine protects against Covid-19, the company said.
3rd Sep 2020 - TheStreet.com

Air Canada to conduct study on COVID-19 quarantine periods

Air Canada said on Thursday it plans to conduct a study on international travelers arriving at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, to test the effectiveness of various COVID-19 quarantine periods.
3rd Sep 2020 - Reuters

Lack of vitamin D might increase risk for COVID-19, University of Chicago researchers find

A lack of vitamin D may be associated with a higher risk for getting COVID-19, according to newly published research out of the University of Chicago. Researchers looked at 489 patients tested for COVID-19 at University of Chicago Medicine between March 3 and April 10, whose vitamin D levels had been measured within a year of being tested for COVID-19. Patients with untreated vitamin D deficiencies were 77% more likely to test positive for COVID-19 as patients with sufficient levels of the vitamin, according to the research, which was published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open. The findings were reported earlier this year before the study was officially published. “It raises the possibility that if you take vitamin D, you might be less likely to catch COVID,” said Dr. David Meltzer, chief of hospital medicine at University of Chicago Medicine and lead author of the study. “It’s very inexpensive. It could be used very broadly.”
3rd Sep 2020 - Chicago Tribune

Unlikely that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in October, but not impossible, Fauci says

Top U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said on Thursday it is unlikely a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by the end of October, but that it is not impossible. "I think most of the people feel it's going to be November December," Fauci said in a CNN interview when asked about the possibility of an earlier release, adding a clinical trial could prompt drug developers to decide a vaccine works sooner. "It is conceivable that you can have it by October, though I don't think that's likely."
3rd Sep 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus in South Africa: Scientists explore surprise theory for low death rate

"Age is the highest risk factor. Africa's young population protects it," said Tim Bromfield, a regional director of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. But as the pandemic drags on, and the statistical evidence builds up, analysts appear increasingly reluctant to give demographics all the credit for this continent's successes. "Age is not such a big factor," said Professor Karim. Early, and aggressive lockdowns here in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent have clearly played a crucial role. Clear messaging about masks and the provision of oxygen supplies have also been important.
3rd Sep 2020 - BBC News

Covid-19 tracing tool to be built into phones, Apple and Google announce

Future versions of Android and iOS operating systems are set to have a Covid-19 notification system built-in, Apple and Google have announced. The system will replace the need for users to install contact-tracing apps developed by public health bodies. The exposure notification system uses Bluetooth signals to measure time and distance between devices to determine a user’s risk of Covid-19. The system, dubbed exposure notification express, would still require a user to opt-in and does not collect location of identity information. Previously Apple and Google’s API required users to download a contact-tracing app to allow it to track time and distance between device and send push notifications to users who may have been exposed to the virus. Under the new system no app is required, meaning public health authorities would be able to send notifications to those considered at risk of Covid-19 without needing to develop and maintain an app. “As the next step in our work with public health authorities on exposure notifications, we are making it easier and faster for them to use the exposure notifications system without the need for them to build and maintain an app,” a joint statement from Apple and Google read.
3rd Sep 2020 - Digital Health

GSK and Sanofi to start human trials of potential Covid-19 vaccine

GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi are to start testing their protein-based Covid-19 vaccine on humans for the first time, following promising results in earlier studies. GSK, the world’s largest vaccine maker, and the French drugmaker Sanofi joined forces in April to work on an effective treatment to halt the devastating pandemic. The vaccine being developed by London-headquartered GSK and Paris-based Sanofi combines existing technology used by Sanofi to make its flu vaccine, along with an add-on from GSK, known as an adjuvant, which can be mixed with a vaccine to trigger a stronger immune reaction.
3rd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Five days is long enough for a coronavirus quarantine, says Germany’s top virologist

Germany's top virologist thinks the standard two-week coronavirus quarantine period is far too long. Research shows people are no longer infectious after five days, so that should be the limit of the quarantine period, Christian Drosten, the head of virology at Berlin's Charité hospital, said in a Tuesday podcast published by the broadcaster NDR.
3rd Sep 2020 - Fortune

Covid-19: India should abandon lockdown and refocus its testing policy, say public health specialists

Public health specialists in India have called on the government to adopt a more pragmatic approach to testing for covid-19, amid evidence of widespread prevalence of infection. Lockdown in India should be discontinued, said a joint statement from the Indian Public Health Association, the Indian Association of Epidemiologists, and the Indian Association of Social and Preventive Medicine.1 And local restrictions on movement and mingling should be imposed only where there is mild or limited spread of SARS-Cov-2 and only after the effects on the livelihood of target populations have been assessed, they advised. India imposed a nationwide lockdown in March that has been relaxed in phases, but several states and cities continue to impose local lockdowns, including closing all establishments at nights and weekends. The country’s current testing policy aims to track and test all contacts of at least 80% of new covid cases, which last week averaged 76 000 a day. The public health experts want the government to abandon its current approach, which they say is impractical and wasteful because it cannot detect most infections. Instead they recommend “targeted testing,” of people with symptoms and of high risk groups such as healthcare workers, elderly people, and surgical patients.
3rd Sep 2020 - The BMJ

U.S. CDC Tells States to Prep for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution as Soon as Late October

U.S. public health officials and Pfizer Inc said a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for distribution as soon as late October, just ahead of the November election in which the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be a major factor among voters deciding whether President Donald Trump wins a second term. Even though the stakes are high for Republican Trump, who is squaring off against former Vice President Joe Biden on Nov. 3, there is no political pressure on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve a vaccine, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday. "No one is pressuring the FDA to do anything," McEnany told a press briefing.
3rd Sep 2020 - The New York Times

Sanofi and GSK Launch Trial for COVID-19 Protein-Based Vaccine

French drugmaker Sanofi and its British peer GSK have started a clinical trial for a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, as pharmaceutical companies race to develop treatments against the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanofi and GSK said on Thursday that they had started the "Phase 1/2" trial for their adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine, which they hope to make available across the world. This vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi's seasonal influenza vaccines with GSK's established pandemic adjuvant technology.
3rd Sep 2020 - The New York Times


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

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Inexpensive steroids reduce deaths of hospitalized Covid-19 patients, WHO analysis confirms

Use of inexpensive, readily available steroid drugs to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19 reduced the risk of death by one-third, according to an analysis encompassing seven different clinical trials conducted by the World Health Organization and published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The positive steroid findings — the result of a pooled look at data known as a meta-analysis — confirm a similar survival benefit reported in June from a single, large study. Corticosteroids are the first, and so far only, therapy shown to improve the odds of survival for critically ill patients with Covid-19.
2nd Sep 2020 - STAT News

WHO recommends cheap everyday steroids as Covid-19 treatment

The World Health Organization has said anti-inflammatory steroids should be used to treat severely ill coronavirus patients as a landmark study provided a “clear signal” of their effectiveness in reducing mortality. Issuing its first guidance on treating Covid-19, the WHO strongly endorsed the use of two cheap steroids, informed by a report published on Wednesday which confirmed that the drugs significantly reduced the rate of death in patients requiring oxygen support. “We’ve received a clear signal that using steroids with severely ill patients improves their outcomes,” said Anthony Gordon, professor of anaesthesia and critical care at Imperial College London.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Financial Times

EU watchdog assessing Dexamethasone Taw as possible COVID-19 drug

The European health regulator said on Wednesday it was evaluating Taw Pharma’s branded steroidal drug dexamethasone as a potential COVID-19 treatment for hospitalised adult patients after it received an application from the drug developer. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said in a statement its human medicines committee (CHMP) would weigh-in on the application for Dexamethasone Taw within the shortest timeline possible. Europe is already evaluating the decades old dexamethasone for COVID-19 after it garnered international attention when a study, dubbed RECOVERY, showed in June the drug reduced death rates by about a third in severely ill, hospitalised COVID-19 patients. The EMA said results from RECOVERY would be considered in the assessment of Dexamethasone Taw.
2nd Sep 2020 - Reuters

U.S. FDA to bring outside experts to review COVID-19 vaccines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will organize meetings with an independent group of experts to review data of coronavirus vaccine candidates and advise the agency, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said on Wednesday. "The meetings will reinforce the transparency of the process as FDA reviews data from trials now underway," Hahn said in a post on Twitter. The statement comes after U.S. President Donald Trump last month accused members, without evidence, of a so-called “deep state” working within the FDA of complicating efforts to test COVID-19 vaccines in order to delay results until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. The FDA said last week it will hold a meeting of its advisory committee to address the general development of COVID-19 vaccines on Oct. 22, and have additional meetings as applications for coronavirus vaccines are submitted.
2nd Sep 2020 - Reuters

Pregnant Women With COVID-19 'More Likely to Need Intensive Care'

Pregnant women with COVID-19 are less likely to have major symptoms, but more likely to need intensive care treatment, and experience preterm birth.
2nd Sep 2020 - Medscape

NHS to start using the steroid hydrocortisone on Covid-19 patients as it boost survival by up to 93%

Patients given the drug for seven days were compared to those who were not. They had a 93 per cent better recovery odds - measured by either a greater chance or survival or less need for organ support such as ventilation. The findings come from the REMAP-CAP trial involving hospitals globally. NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the NHS will 'now take immediate action to ensure that patients who could benefit from hydrocortisone do so.' Another study published today found three steroids reduce risk of death by 20%
2nd Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Oxford Biomedica Covid-19 vaccine gets cash injection to boost production

Oxford Biomedica’s role as lead manufacturer of a potential Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Astrazeneca has been expanded with an agreement to increase production. The gene and cell therapy group has signed an 18-month supply agreement to produce Astrazeneca’s AZD1222 vaccine on a commercial scale. Under the agreement, which can be extended for a further 18 months into 2022 and 2023, Astrazeneca will pay Oxford Biomedica an initial £15 million as a capacity reservation fee. Oxford Biomedica said that, subject to the stepping up of manufacturing capacity and the continuation of the vaccine programme, it expected to received further revenue of more than £35 million, plus “certain materials costs”, for the manufacture of multiple large-scale batches of AZD1222 until the end of 2021.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Times

Covid-19 triggers epidemic of eczema

Covid-19 has triggered an eczema epidemic among NHS workers - from washing their hands so much, reveals new research. Six-out-of-10 seen for skin problems are suffering irritant contact dermatitis - a form of the itchy, painful condition caused by friction, according to the study. It highlights the impact of PPE (personal protective equipment) and frequent hand hygiene on medical workers.Co-lead author Dr Isha Narang, of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation, said: "Wearing PPE for long periods can cause pressure and irritant effects on the skin and frequent handwashing with soap is drying; sometimes the effects can be bad enough to require time off work. "As PPE and handwashing are essential methods of reducing the spread of Covid-19, it's important to provide healthcare workers with advice and support in managing their skin."
2nd Sep 2020 - Cambridgeshire Live

Two types of steroid found to save lives of some Covid-19 patients

Studies around the world have confirmed that steroids can save lives in the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to new recommendations from the World Heath Organization that doctors should give them to severely ill patients. In June, the Recovery trial run in most NHS hospitals and led by Oxford University found that the lives of one in eight people sick enough from Covid-19 to need a ventilator could be saved by a steroid called dexamethasone. Now, combined results from that trial and six others have confirmed those findings and established that at least one other equally cheap and widely available steroid, hydrocortisone, also saves lives.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

More than half of people struggled to manage their weight during COVID-19 lockdown, suggests UK survey

More than half of adults have found it difficult to manage their weight during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to the results of an online survey involving over 800 UK adults, being presented at The European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO), held online this year (1-4 September).
2nd Sep 2020 - Medical Xpress

‘Russian Roulette’: Inside Putin’s Race to Develop a Covid-19 Vaccine Before the West

In April, as Covid-19 cases surged across Russia, President Vladimir Putin called a meeting of the country’s top scientists and health officials over video link to deliver an urgent directive: Do whatever you need to create a national vaccine as soon as possible. Four weeks later, Alexander Gintsburg, director of the state-run Gamaleya Institute for Epidemiology and Microbiology, told state television that his researchers had developed one. They were so sure it was safe, he said, the researchers had tested it on themselves. Last month, Mr. Putin, with great fanfare, said Russia had approved Gamaleya’s vaccine, making it the first country to sign off on one amid a global race to curb the spread of Covid-19.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Covid-19 news: Steroid drugs save lives in severe coronavirus patients

“The evidence for benefit is strongest for dexamethasone,” Stephen Evans at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said in a statement. These new results, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, add weight to earlier findings from the RECOVERY trial, which found that dexamethasone reduced deaths in critically ill covid-19 patients by a third for patients on ventilators and by a fifth for those receiving oxygen – the first drug shown to do so. “This analysis increases confidence that [dexamethasone] has a really worthwhile role in critically ill patients with covid-19,” Evans said. As a result of the study, the WHO is expected to update its guidance on treatment. In the UK, the drug has been in use for treating severely ill covid-19 patients since June.
2nd Sep 2020 - New Scientist News

CDC tells health officials to expect a coronavirus vaccine by November

Health officials across the US have reportedly been notified that they should expect a coronavirus vaccine available to health workers and high-risk groups by November, amid concerns the accelerated vaccine development process has become politicized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed health officials that “limited Covid-19 vaccine doses may be available by early November 2020”, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, in a letter to governors dated 27 August, Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, said states “in the near future” will receive permit applications from McKesson, a company which has contracted with CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.
2nd Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus US: Vaccine trials could stop early if safe, says Fauci

Dr Anthony Fauci told Kaiser Health News that researchers would have a 'moral obligation' to stop trials early if the data was good enough. The FDA has said a shot should cut rate of symptomatic COVID-19 by at least 50% to get its approval. Three coronavirus vaccines are currently in their final-stage trials in the US. Some experts and Americans are concerned that political pressure, not data, is driving the push to approve vaccines. Currently, the three trials are expected to conclude this winter
2nd Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine could be on the market by end of 2020 - Italy minister

The first shots of British drug maker AstraZeneca’s potential COVID-19 vaccine could be on the market by the end of 2020, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said on Wednesday. “We are talking about a potential vaccine so we need to be extremely prudent, but... if the vaccine is confirmed as safe and able to meet its objective it will be already available by the end of 2020,” Speranza told parliament. Drugmakers are racing to combat the pandemic, which has killed more than 850,000 people and infected over 25 million.
2nd Sep 2020 - Reuters

US refuses to join international effort to develop Covid-19 vaccine

The US government has said that it will not participate in a global initiative to develop, manufacture and equitably distribute a vaccine for Covid-19 because the effort is co-led by the World Health Organization. The Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (Covax) is a plan developed by the WHO, along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and is meant to accelerate the development and testing of a vaccine and work toward distributing it equally. The WHO announced last month that more than 170 countries were in talks to participate in Covax.
1st Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Pregnant women in hospital with Covid-19 may not show symptoms, study finds

Pregnant women in hospital with coronavirus are less likely to show symptoms and may have a greater risk risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit than non-pregnant women of similar age, a study has found. The analysis, which encompassed 77 studies conducted globally and was published in the British Medical Journal, looked at 11,432 pregnant women admitted to hospital and diagnosed as having suspected or confirmed Covid-19. It showed that pregnant women may be at increased risk of needing admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) than non-pregnant women of similar age, as is the case with other respiratory viruses such as the flu. This could be partially attributed to the understanding that a mother’s immune system is often compromised to protect the baby, and that the lungs and the cardiovascular system – the coronavirus’s attacking ground – are already under strain during pregnancy.
1st Sep 2020 - The Guardian

If everyone wears a mask, we can achieve 90% effect of lockdown: Dr D Nageshwar Reddy

Handwashing isn't as effective as wearing a mask, when it comes to curbing the spread of COVID. Fact. Flying in an aeroplane is a surefire way to contract COVID because it is a closed air-conditioned space. Myth. Six months of on-again, off-again lockdowns later, the average Indian still has a whole load of basic questions about the COVID-19 virus — and all he/she has to contend with is a glut of news stories that often offer contradictory viewpoints about what is safe, and what isn't. To best understand the hard (and constantly evolving) scientific knowledge that we have about this virus, The New Indian Express Editor G S Vasu spoke to renowned gastroenterologist and Padma Bhushan awardee Dr D Nageshwar Reddy.
1st Sep 2020 - The New Indian Express

Health agency: COVID-19 hitting health workers hard in Americas

The scale of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas is unprecedented, an official with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said today in a press conference. And nowhere has its impact been bigger than in the healthcare workforce. PAHO Director Carissa Etienne, MBBS, MSc, said that nearly 570,000 healthcare workers in the Americas have fallen ill with COVID-19, and more than 2,500 have died. Overall, there have been almost 13.5 million cases in the Americas and more than 469,000 deaths.
2nd Sep 2020 - CIDRAP


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

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COVID-19 often goes undiagnosed in hospital workers; virus may impair heart functions

A high proportion of COVID-19 infections among U.S. healthcare personnel appear to go undetected, according to a report on Monday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between April and June, among more than 3,000 frontline workers in 12 states, roughly 1 in 20 had antibody evidence of a previous COVID-19 infection, but 69% of those infections had never been diagnosed. Among those with antibodies to the novel coronavirus, about one-third did not recall having symptoms in the preceding months, nearly half did not suspect that they had been infected, and some two-thirds had never had a positive COVID-19 test. Infections among frontline healthcare personnel may be going undetected, the study authors say, because some infections may be only minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic and also because personnel with symptoms may not always have access to testing. COVID-19 antibodies were less common among workers who reported using a face covering for all patient encounters and more common among those who reported a shortage of personal protective equipment. The researchers call for more frequent testing of healthcare personnel and universal use of face coverings in hospitals.
1st Sep 2020 - Reuters

AstraZeneca expands Covid-19 vaccine deal as final trials begin

AstraZeneca has expanded an agreement with Oxford Biomedica to scale up production of its potential Covid-19 vaccine, as the race continues to find an effective prevention for the deadly virus. Under the supply agreement, the Oxford-based cell and gene therapy firm said it would produce tens of millions of doses of AstraZeneca’s potential vaccine, AZD1222, for 18 months, which could be extended by a further 18 months into 2023. It will be made at the firm’s three manufacturing suites at its new centre, Oxbox, in Oxford. Two of the suites will be ready to use in the next two months, earlier than expected. AstraZeneca will pay Oxford Biomedica £50m under the deal.
1st Sep 2020 - The Guardian

Scotland to get dedicated Covid-19 tracing app

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a new "proximity tracing app" to combat the spread of Covid-19. Ms Sturgeon described Protect Scotland as a "significant enhancement" to the existing test and protect system. And she vowed that important assurances about privacy and confidentiality would be given when it launches later this month. She added: "I encourage everyone to download and use the app as soon as it becomes available." The announcement comes as the number of confirmed cases increased by 154, including 66 in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
1st Sep 2020 - BBC News

How to use serum viscosity to understand COVID-19 patient risk

2020 has been a strange year all round. An unknown virus, probably in a bat colony in central China mutated to allow it to infect humans too. Within 3 months of the virus being identified as Corona Virus SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2), 90% of the world had shut down... Steve Walton, follows up on his previous article How COVID-19 kills: a tale of two conditions with an outline around how serum viscosity measurements can be used to identify high risk patients for further investigation.
1st Sep 2020 - Lab News

School reopening and flu season mean surge in Covid-19 patients, says WHO Europe director

Dr Hans Kluge said he 'wouldn't be surprised' if hospital admissions surged. Warned Britain facing 'three phenomena' in colder months, on top of Covid. They include flu season, children mingling at school and excess elderly deaths
1st Sep 2020 - Daily Mail

Derbyshire technology firm develops new scanning system to detect Covid-19 symptoms

A global leader in temperature measurement technology based in Derbyshire has developed a new screening system which can detect a key Covid-19 symptom. Ametek Land, based at Dronfield, near Chesterfield, has used its expertise to develop the Viralert 3, which it says can accurately detect elevated temperatures, a symptom of coronavirus. The technology can be installed in buildings and, according to the firm, it has already attracted interest across a variety of sectors, including healthcare, commercial, education, transportation, manufacturing, and sports. The system provides a solution for scanning visitors at entry points – and is already in use at Sheffield’s Hallamshire Tennis, Squash and Racquetball Club and a medical practice in Dronfield.
1st Sep 2020 - Business Live

EU seeks to improve cross-border co-ordination as Covid-19 spikes

EU member states are exploring how to better co-ordinate the identification of Covid-19 hotspots and the management of cross-border travel as the continent grapples with a surge in infections. European governments are on high alert after a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases in some areas in recent weeks, and are keen to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes early in the pandemic, when multiple capitals pursued their own approach to border closures within the Schengen travel area. A briefing paper for an EU ambassadors’ meeting in Brussels on Wednesday identifies five possible areas for improved cross-border co-ordination, including the development of common quarantine rules, the use of agreed data sources and better mapping practices.
1st Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Europe’s fractured contact tracing linked to post-holiday Covid-19 surge

In early August, seven groups of young people returned home from Croatia, Greece and Malta to the Italian province of Padua, one of Europe’s early battlegrounds against Covid-19, and tested positive for the virus. The new clusters, involving at least 25 positive cases, led to 159 other people also being placed in isolation for having had potential contact with the virus, according to public health documents reviewed by the Financial Times. But the positive cases were only detected by track-and-trace protocols after they had developed symptoms — a lag of weeks in many cases. Faster tracing across borders or testing before travel would have limited the spread, experts say.
1st Sep 2020 - Financial Times

Global COVID-19 total tops 25 million amid WHO warning

In other developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) today said it received support from the European Commission for the COVAX vaccine initiative and shared results of a new survey that showed widespread disruption of healthcare delivery. The global COVID-19 total has risen to 25,330,679 cases, along with 848,030 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.
1st Sep 2020 - CIDRAP

‘Second coronavirus lockdown is accepting we learned nothing from first wave,’ warns expert

The health secretary Matt Hancock has recently warned Brits that the government may need to put extensive lockdown measures back in place if there is a second wave of Covid-19. However, when appearing on This Morning today, Prof Carl Henegan explained how this move would be the government’s way of accepting they learned nothing from the past six months. When chatting to Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, the expert shared his views on the pandemic and how he feels another lockdown is not inevitable.
1st Sep 2020 - Metro

Oxford vaccine professor warns that human activity is increasing the threat of viruses passed from animals

The scientist leading Oxford University’s push for a coronavirus vaccine has warned of an increasing risk of disease outbreaks spreading from animals to people. Professor Sarah Gilbert said human activity is driving the rising threat, adding the risk is unlikely to diminish in the future as globalisation continues. “Greater population density, greater travel, deforestation – all of these things make it more likely that these outbreaks will happen and then something will spread,” she told The Independent. “Because of the way things have been going in the world, it’s more likely we’ll have zoonotic infections causing outbreaks in the future.” A zoonotic infection is a disease caused by a pathogen, such as a bacterium or virus, that has jumped from an animal to a human. Most researchers believe Covid-19 emerged in bats and infected humans via another animal, probably in a market in Wuhan, China. Other deadly diseases such as Ebola, Sars and the West Nile Virus have also originated in animals.
1st Sep 2020 - iNews

Avoid false hope on coronavirus vaccine, discontinue lockdown: Health experts write to PM Modi

Seven months into the coronavirus pandemic in the country, the Joint Task Force of eminent public health experts on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said it must be assumed that an effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus "would not be available in the near future". They also said that any false sense of hope that this panacea is just around the corner must be avoided. In a joint statement, experts of the Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM), and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) said, "Vaccines do not have any role in current ongoing coronavirus pandemic control in India. It must be assumed that an effective vaccine would not be available in near future. We must avoid false sense of hope that this panacea is just around the corner." The group's third joint statement on hope for a coronavirus vaccine against Covid-19 states, "Vaccines with proven efficacy and safety, as and when available, should be administered according to the WHO's 'strategic allocation' approach or a multi-tiered risk-based approach."
1st Sep 2020 - India Today

Australia virus cases drop after lengthy Melbourne lockdown

Australia reported fewer than 100 new coronavirus cases Monday, the lowest number in two months as authorities appeared to bring an outbreak in the country's second-largest city under control. Victoria state, which has been battling a second wave of infections in Melbourne, recorded just 73 cases after peaking above 700 in late July, providing hope for a way out of a strict city-wide lockdown. Melbourne residents are currently enduring a raft of restrictions including an overnight curfew, while all non-essential businesses remain closed until at least September 13.
1st Sep 2020 - Medical Xpress

Coronavirus: Countries exiting lockdown too soon is a 'recipe for disaster', WHO warns

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a stark warning for countries heading out of lockdown too soon. Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus​ has acknowledged people’s longing for normality to return. At a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday, the director-general said WHO fully supported the efforts to reopen economies and societies, but they wanted to see it done safely. “No country can just pretend the pandemic is over,” he said.
1st Sep 2020 - Stuff.co.nz


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 1st Sep 2020

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Canada to buy millions of doses of Novavax and Johnson & Johnson's potential Covid-19 vaccines

Canada reached an agreement in principle on Monday (Aug 31) with both Novavax and Johnson & Johnson for millions of doses of their experimental coronavirus vaccines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. Canada's two agreements follow separate deals with Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc announced weeks ago, and are the latest example of countries rushing to secure access to vaccines. Last week, Canada's National Research Council said it had ended its partnership on a coronavirus vaccine with China's CanSino Biologics because the company lacked the authority to ship the vaccine. Novavax said it expects to finalize an advance purchase agreement to supply doses of the vaccine, beginning as early as the second quarter of next year. Novavax has agreed to supply up to 76 million doses of its experimental vaccine, while Johnson & Johnson will supply up to 38 million doses of its vaccine candidate. Both agreements are subject to the vaccines obtaining licenses from Health Canada, the companies said
31st Aug 2020 - The Straits Times

Emergency authorisation of COVID-19 vaccines needs great care - WHO

The emergency authorisation of COVID-19 vaccines requires a “great deal of seriousness and reflection”, the World Health Organization said on Monday after the United States announced it was considering fast-tracking candidate drugs. Although every country had the right to approve drugs without completing full trials, “it is not something that you do very lightly”, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a news conference. The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said he would be willing to bypass the normal approval process to authorise a COVID-19 vaccine as long as officials were convinced the benefits outweigh the risks.
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters

Opening up without control of COVID-19 is recipe for disaster, says WHO

Countries with significant active spread of coronavirus must prevent amplifying events, as opening up without the virus being under control would be a "recipe for disaster", the World Health Organization said on Monday.
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters on MSN.com

Covid-19 vaccine diplomacy in India’s outreach plan

The Union government is working on at least five distinct ways, ranging from free vaccines to guaranteed supply, in which it can help its immediate neighbours as well as countries in West Asia, Africa and even Latin America, officials familiar with the plan said on condition of anonymity. The idea is to leverage the country’s standing as the world’s vaccine factory to consolidate diplomatic ties. Indian companies are working on two vaccines which are currently in clinical trials. Though the arrangement will be largely for these vaccines, it might also include vaccines manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, which has partnerships with three companies, including AstraZeneca.
31st Aug 2020 - Hindustan Times

Man Hospitalised in the U.S. After Apparent Coronavirus Reinfection

Scientists in Nevada are the latest to report a likely case of reinfection from the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, with genetic evidence backing up their claim. While it remains to be seen whether reinfection will be a common phenomenon, this newest case suggests that a second infection can cause more severe illness than the first, even in young and seemingly healthy people. The report was released as a preprint by The Lancet on Thursday, meaning that it hasn’t undergone the typical peer-review process as of yet. According to the report, the patient is a 25-year-old resident of Reno, Nevada who tested positive for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, in mid-April via a standard RT-PCR test. In late March, the man began feeling symptoms consistent with Covid-19, such as sore throat, cough, headache, nausea and diarrhoea. He isolated and reported feeling better by April 27; he also tested negative for the virus twice over the next month.
31st Aug 2020 - Gizmodo UK

Gottlieb says "full approval" of coronavirus vaccine for general population unlikely before 2021

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday he does not believe there will be "full approval" of a coronavirus vaccine for the general population until early 2021. "We're likely to see a stepwise progression of authorization of this vaccine for certain select populations that are at higher risk of either contracting it or having a bad outcome before we see a full approval for the general population," Gottlieb said on "Face the Nation." "I think, again, full approval for the general population, where people can go to CVS and get a shot — that's really a 2021 event, maybe the first quarter of 2021, probably more likely the first half."
31st Aug 2020 - CBS News

Australian coronavirus antibody therapy aims for trial in early 2021

Australian researchers hope to start human trials of a coronavirus antibody therapy in early 2021, while a large-scale trial of a vaccine could begin by the end of this year, scientists said on Wednesday.
31st Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Indonesia: Chinese vaccine to be tested as COVID-19 cases rise

Advanced trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed in China are under way in Indonesia. More than 2000 Indonesians signed up for the trial of the vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturer Sinovac. This week, some candidates were given a second dose of the trial vaccine - as Jessica Washington reports from Bandung, Indonesia.
30th Aug 2020 - Aljazeera.com

Covid vaccine rush could make pandemic worse, say scientists

The rush to immunise populations against Covid-19 could lead to the rollout of a vaccine that is not very effective and risk worsening the pandemic, leading scientists have said. Politicians and commercial companies are competing to be the first to license a vaccine, but experts say the world would be better served by waiting until comprehensive results showed at least 30-50% effectiveness. Ministers announced on Friday that the UK would take emergency powers to push any vaccine through the regulatory processes with unprecedented speed before the end of the year. Donald Trump wants to be able to announce the US has a vaccine before tthe presidential election on 3 November. A vaccine is vital to stopping the pandemic, but Prof Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University and an adviser to the World Health Organization, said the first vaccine would be bought and used all over the world even if it had low efficacy. Even if it protected only a minority of the population, it would be regarded as the standard by which later vaccines would be measured. That could even lead to inferior vaccines being approved, because they would not have to show that they were any better.
30th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

U.S. Will Revive Global Virus-Hunting Effort Ended Last Year

A worldwide virus-hunting program allowed to expire last year by the Trump administration, just before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, will have a second life — whatever the outcome of the presidential election. Joseph R. Biden Jr. has promised that, if elected, he will restore the program, called Predict, which searched for dangerous new animal viruses in bat caves, camel pens, wet markets and wildlife-smuggling routes around the globe. The expiration of Predict just weeks before the advent of the pandemic prompted wide criticism among scientists, who noted that the coronavirus is exactly the sort of catastrophic animal virus the program was designed to head off.
30th Aug 2020 - The New York Times

Obese, diabetics over 3 times more likely to die of COVID: Study

COVID-19 patients hospitalised with high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes were over three times more likely to die from the viral disease, say researchers. The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, looked at the impact of metabolic syndrome on outcomes for COVID-19 patients. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of at least three of five conditions - hypertension, high blood sugar, obesity, high triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol - that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. "Together, obesity, diabetes, and pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels are all predictive of higher incidents of death in these patients," said the study lead author Joshua Denson from the Tulane University in the US.
30th Aug 2020 - Gulf News

FDA willing to fast track coronavirus vaccine before phase three trials end

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times he’s willing to consider granting emergency authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine before clinical trials have been completed. The comments come about a week after President Trump accused the FDA for intentionally moving slowly to hurt him politically.
30th Aug 2020 - CNBC

Zante flight to Cardiff told to self isolate after COVID cases found

Passengers who were on a flight from Zante on the Greek island of Zakynthos to Cardiff in Wales last week have been told to isolate after it was identified as the source of at least seven confirmed coronavirus cases, Public Health Wales said on Sunday. Greece, which is not on the list of countries under British quarantine rules, is a popular holiday destination and more tourists are expected to have visited this year after several other favourites, such as Spain, were put under restrictions. “Cardiff and Vale Test Trace Protect and Public Health Wales have identified at least seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 from three different parties who were infectious on TUI Flight 6215 from Zante to Cardiff on 25 August,” said Giri Shankar, incident director for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak response at Public Health Wales.
30th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Mutated coronavirus strain found in Indonesia as cases jump

A more infectious mutation of the new coronavirus has been found in Indonesia, the Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology said on Sunday, as the Southeast Asian country's caseload surges. Indonesia reported 2,858 new infections on Sunday, data by the health ministry showed, below the previous day's record 3,308 but above the past month's daily average. Its total number of cases was 172,053, with 7,343 Covid-19 fatalities. The "infectious but milder" D614G mutation of the virus has been found in genome sequencing data from samples collected by the institute, deputy director Herawati Sudoyo told Reuters, adding that more study is required to determine whether that was behind the recent rise in cases.
30th Aug 2020 - Bangkok Post

FDA head says he is willing to fast-track Covid-19 vaccine

The head of the US Food and Drug Administration has said he is willing to bypass the normal approval process to authorise a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible — but has insisted he will not do so to please President Donald Trump. In an interview with the Financial Times, Stephen Hahn said his agency was prepared to authorise a vaccine before Phase Three clinical trials were complete, as long as officials believed the benefits outweighed the risks. But he defended his embattled organisation against accusations that it was rushing the process to boost Mr Trump’s re-election prospects. “It is up to the sponsor [vaccine developer] to apply for authorisation or approval, and we make an adjudication of their application,” Dr Hahn said. “If they do that before the end of Phase Three, we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination.”
30th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Canada confirms Chinese vaccine trial has been scrapped

Canada has scrapped a Covid-19 vaccine development agreement with the Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino citing delays in shipping the drugs. Earlier this week CanSino had denied that the collaboration had been dropped, but the National Research Council, a government-funded body, confirmed that clinical trials of vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV would not go ahead in Canada. In response to queries, the council said: “Due to the delay in the shipment of the CanSino Covid-19 vaccine candidate doses to Canada and as CanSino has now completed phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials elsewhere, this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other Covid-19 priorities.”
29th Aug 2020 - South China Morning Post

How did COVID show up in the bathroom of a long-vacant apartment, and what does it mean?

The discovery of the coronavirus in the bathroom of a vacant apartment in southern China is being taken as evidence that the pathogen spread up through sewage pipes after a toilet was flushed in another unit. The finding is adding to concerns over the virus' ability to spread in tiny airborne particles in enclosed spaces, and not just in the same room, or even on the same floor.
28th Aug 2020 - CBS News

Spain to participate in clinical trials of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine

The Spanish Agency for Medicine and Health Products (AEMPS) has authorized the first clinical trial in Spain of an experimental vaccine against the novel coronavirus. That’s according to Health Minister Salvador Illa, who made the announcement on Friday at a government press conference. The testing will involve a vaccine from Janssen, a company that is owned by the US multinational Johnson & Johnson, with 190 healthy volunteers from Spain. There will be a further 400 participants of the trial in Germany and Belgium. The recruitment of volunteers – who will be aged between 18 and 55, and over 65 – will begin “immediately,” Illa stated, with three Spanish hospitals – La Paz and La Princesa in Madrid, and Marqués de Valdecilla in Santander – taking part.
28th Aug 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Bangladesh's Beximco in coronavirus vaccine pact with India's Serum Institute

One of Bangladesh’s largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, announced on Friday that it will invest with the Serum Institute of India (SII) to ensure Bangladesh gets access to vaccines it is developing for the novel coronavirus. The deal comes after Bangladesh said this month it was ready to hold trials of candidate vaccines developed by India as both countries seek to curb the spread of the virus. “The investment amount will be treated as an advance and once the vaccine receives regulatory approvals, SII will include Bangladesh among the countries who will be the first to receive an agreed quantity of this vaccine from SII on a priority basis,” Beximco said in a statement, citing the heads of both organisations. Beximco will also be the exclusive supplier for Bangladesh for a vaccine developed by the Serum Institute, it said.
28th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Here's how the U.S. could release a COVID-19 vaccine before the election—and why that scares some

Peter Marks, who runs the FDA division that oversees vaccine approval, has vowed that he would resign if the Trump administration pushed through a vaccine that was not clearly safe and effective. And he insists that FDA will consult with the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), which Offit sits on, to publicly discuss data related to any approval request. “Approval should be something that we can make transparent, and to do anything less than that is really a disservice to people,” Marks says. VRBPAC’s next meeting is scheduled for 22 October, 12 days before the presidential and congressional elections. Science spoke with a range of researchers and regulators about how a COVID-19 vaccine approval might be accelerated and the potential consequences.
28th Aug 2020 - Science Magazine

UK to fast-track Covid-19 vaccine approval if sought before end of Brexit transition

UK health officials suggested that, should a vaccine’s developers be ready to seek approval before the end of the year, the MHRA might be able to give a faster verdict than its European counterpart. The health department said: “If a vaccine is discovered before 2021, the proposals will bolster existing powers that allow the MHRA to consider approving its use, before a full product licence is granted, provided it is proven to be safe and effective during robust and extensive clinical trials.” The measures were necessary because during the transition period, a new potential Covid-19 vaccine must be granted a licence by the EMA, it said.
28th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Coronavirus: Vaccine front-runner China already inoculating workers

Earlier this month, the head of a well-known, privately-owned Chinese conglomerate told his staff that a vaccine for Covid-19 was expected to come to market by November. The boss, whose firm has a healthcare division, said that he saw it as a portent of economic recovery; a chance for his firms to sell more, according to a person privy to the comments. Within a few weeks the Chinese government was forced to go public with its apparent progress. The novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 originated in humans in China, before it spread ceaselessly across the world. Now China is using its global footprint in a relentless effort to win the race to develop and deploy an effective vaccine. Last week one of the developmental vaccines was pictured in state-run media; a small branded box was shown, held up by a smiling woman in a lab. Sinopharm said it hopes to have it ready to go on sale by December. It even named a price, equivalent to about $140 (£106).
27th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Inside the Chinese companies vying to produce the world's first coronavirus vaccine

For all its innovative prowess, China has generally lagged other countries in developing vaccines. But that appears to be changing with the race for a coronavirus vaccine, with Chinese companies potentially even at the forefront. As often with China, the question is: who are we dealing with? Who are the main vaccine developers? How far are they in developing a vaccine? What is their approach? What is the connection to the Chinese state? And what is the outlook if China comes up with the vaccine first? Of the 32 vaccines that are in human trials around the world, a larger number are from Chinese companies than might have been expected. The three leading players are Sinovac, CanSino Biologics and Sinopharm.
27th Aug 2020 - The Conversation UK

China's offer of coronavirus tests for all in Hong Kong meets with public distrust

A Chinese government offer to test all Hong Kong residents for the novel coronavirus is meeting scepticism from the city’s medical community and public and is emerging as a politically charged issue ahead of the launch of the plan next week. A 60-person mainland Chinese team will carry out tests and build temporary hospitals in the first direct help from Chinese health officials for the semi-autonomous city in its battle with the epidemic. But it comes at a sensitive time for the former British colony, with anxiety running high about what many of its 7.5 million residents see as Beijing’s efforts to rein in their freedoms, in particular with a national security law imposed in June. Against this background, some democracy activists have suggested that people’s DNA will be collected and abused under the cover of testing. The city government has dismissed that saying no samples would be taken out of the city.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Covid-19 could be with us for next two to four years, expert warns

One of China’s leading experts on Covid-19 has told ITV News that the virus is likely to be with us for at least the next two to four years. In his first foreign television interview Dr Zhang Wenhong, the Director of Infectious Diseases at Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, predicts we will be living with this for some time to come and he believes there is a high chance of a second international outbreak this autumn or winter. His forecasts are based on his knowledge of the virus as one of the first to face it and the current situation in the rest of the world, not in China where this week, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, there were no local infections. Dr Zhang points to the fact that the United States and India are still struggling to contain their first wave of the virus, and other parts of South America and Africa are only just at the beginning of their battle.
26th Aug 2020 - ITV News

China says it found a new virus that’s even more deadly than the coronavirus

Chinese officials claim that the neighboring country of Kazakhstan is dealing with an outbreak of a new virus that’s even deadlier than the novel coronavirus. Kazakhstan officials say there is no new virus, though the country is dealing with a spike in COVID-19 cases. China’s handling of COVID-19 news has been sketchy since the early days of the pandemic, and it’s unclear why the country is making the claims.
26th Aug 2020 - BGR

India's use of less accurate coronavirus tests raise concerns

Health experts are concerned about the Indian government's decision to implement rapid tests - which screen for antigens, or viral proteins - as authorities ramp up coronavirus tests amid surging infections. India crossed the three-million-case milestone on Sunday, 17 days after it crossed the two-million mark. It is the worst-affected country in Asia, and third behind the United States and Brazil globally. In June, the world's second-most populous nation began using cheaper, faster, but less accurate tests to scale up testing - a strategy that the US is now considering.
24th Aug 2020 - Al Jazeera English


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

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Citriodiol spray: could an ingredient found in insect repellent defend against Covid-19?

Inspect repellents that contain an ingredient called ‘Citriodiol’ could be used to help defend against the coronavirus, according to researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. In an eight page paper from the Porton Down based lab, the efficacy of Mosi-guard, a Citriodiol based spray, was tested on plastic and artificial skin. The report states that the Defence Science and Technology Lab (DSTL) “was tasked by the Surgeon General to determine the level of anti-viral activity of Mosi-guard Natural spray against Covid-19 virus, of which Citriodiol is an ingredient”. It’s explained that “two experimental approaches were adopted” - one being the assessment of the anti-viral activity of the product when applied directly to the virus as a liquid drop, the other being the assessment of the product following its application to latex synthetic skin.
27th Aug 2020 - The Scotsman

EU pays 336 million euros for doses of AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine

The European Commission has paid 336 million euros (300.95 million pounds) to secure at least 300 million doses of the potential COVID-1 vaccine being developed by British drug maker AstraZeneca , a spokesman said on Thursday.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Too many corners are being cut in the race to find a Covid-19 antibody test

During the pandemic, Covid-19 tests have provided a rich source of media coverage. Most of us now know a bit about how these tests work, and that they can generate errors that lead to wrong and harmful decisions. Tests have to be used on the right samples at the right time, else more errors can be made, and there are important differences between “have I got it?” viral swab tests, and “have I had it?” antibody blood tests.
27th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: the Commission signs first contract with AstraZeneca

Today, the first contract the European Commission has negotiated on behalf of the EU Member States with a pharmaceutical company entered into force following the formal signature between AstraZeneca and the Commission. The contract will allow the purchase of a vaccine against COVID-19 for all the Member States of the EU as well as the donation to lower and middle income countries or the re-direction to other European countries. Through the contract, all Member States will be able to purchase 300 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with an option for further 100 million doses, to be distributed on a population-based pro-rata basis. The Commission continues discussing similar agreements with other vaccine manufacturers and has concluded successful exploratory talks with Sanofi-GSK on 31 July, Johnson & Johnson on 13 August, CureVac on 18 August and Moderna on 24 August.
27th Aug 2020 - EU News

Trump-backed hydroxychloroquine doesn't treat Covid-19 and raises the risk of death

A review of 29 studies showed hydroxychloroquine does not save lives. Combined with the antibiotic azithromycin, the risk of death increases by 27%. The researchers in France claimed there is 'no need' for more research. But British scientists have previously warned against prematurely discarding it President Trump has said the drug is a 'game changer' without proof it works
27th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19: Five ways to avoid catching the virus indoors

Good ventilation could be the key to avoiding coronavirus as autumn approaches and people spend more time indoors. For months we've been told to wash our hands and maintain social distancing to beat coronavirus. But scientists and engineers say we also need to think about the air we breathe, as children go back to school and more people return to offices. Good ventilation matters in five ways.
27th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Convalescent plasma treatment for covid-19 has been oversold by the US

Convalescent plasma is known to have been used to treat pandemic flu back in 1918. It involves collecting blood plasma – the yellow liquid component of blood stripped of its blood cells – from people who have recovered from a disease. The plasma can contain antibodies generated by the immune system to fight or prevent a future infection, although the antibody levels vary between donors. The treatment does appear to work for some infections, such as diphtheria, but research has been spotty, and there has been a lack of randomised, placebo-controlled trials, says Lise Estcourt at the University of Oxford. More recently, the treatment was found to be ineffective for Ebola. Several studies are under way to test convalescent plasma for covid-19. The largest has been run by the Mayo Clinic in the US – about 71,000 people have received treatment across 2780 hospitals over the past five months as part of a programme that enables access to experimental therapies. Based on the data collected from around 35,000 of these individuals, the researchers behind the project found that people treated with plasma containing higher levels of antibody, and those treated earlier in the course of their illness, appear less likely to die within a seven or 30-day window.
27th Aug 2020 - New Scientist News

California, Florida, New York, Texas will not follow new U.S. COVID-19 testing plan

Several large U.S. states are not heeding new federal health officials’ calls to reduce COVID-19 testing of some exposed to the virus, joining a broad rebuke of the Trump administration by public health leaders.
28th Aug 2020 - Reuters

WHO advance team heads to China to set up probe into coronavirus origin

A two-member advance team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts has left for China to organise an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus behind a pandemic that has killed more than 550,000 people globally, the U.N. agency said on Friday. The virus is believed to have emerged in a wholesale market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year after jumping the species barrier from the animal kingdom to infect humans. The two WHO experts, specialists in animal health and epidemiology, will work with Chinese scientists to determine the scope and itinerary of the investigation, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said, declining to name them. “We know it’s very, very similar to the virus in the bat, but did it go through an intermediate species? This is a question we all need answered,” Harris told a news briefing.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters

EU pays 336 mln euros for doses of AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine

The European Commission has paid 336 million euros ($396 million) to secure at least 300 million doses of the potential COVID-1 vaccine being developed by British drug maker AstraZeneca, a spokesman said on Thursday. Brussels signed the deal on behalf of EU states for the supply of at least 300 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. It has an option for a further 100 million, the spokesman said. “We cannot indicate at this stage the specific pricing per dose. However, a significant part of the overall costs are funded by a contribution from the overall ESI funding for vaccines,” he said, referring to the bloc’s so-called emergency support instrument.
27th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Novacyt launches test to differentiate COVID-19 and flu

Clinical diagnostics company Novacyt, one of many healthcare companies whose shares have surged during the pandemic, launched a test on Thursday to differentiate between COVID-19 and common winter diseases. Novacyt said its “Winterplex” test panel included two gene targets specific to COVID-19, as well as gene targets for influenza A&B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). “We believe Winterplex™ is one of the world’s first approved respiratory test panels that can differentiate between COVID-19 and other common respiratory diseases,” Novacyt CEO Graham Mullis said. Novacyt said the new product was expected to drive major revenue growth, and Novacyt’s Paris-listed shares rose by around 6% in early trading, with the stock price having already surged by around 1,900% since the start of 2020. Novacyt’s new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) respiratory test panel is one of many such ‘PCR’ type products already on the market, aimed at diagnosing the presence of COVID-19. The PCR test is the preferred COVID-19 testing method in many countries. It detects the presence of the disease by amplifying its genetic material to a point where it can be spotted by scientists
27th Aug 2020 - PharmaLive


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

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Russia Starts Trials of Approved COVID-19 Vaccine on 40,000 People

Russia starts a new phase of clinic trials of Russia's approved COVID-19 vaccine called "Sputnik V" that will involve more than 40,000 people in Moscow, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said on Wednesday. The RDIF, which is backing the vaccine, said similar trials would be held in five other countries. The vaccine has been hailed as safe and effective by Russian authorities and scientists following two months of small-scale human trials, the results of which have not been made public yet.
26th Aug 2020 - New York Times

VBI Vaccines selects two COVID-19 vaccine candidates for human trials

VBI Vaccines Inc said on Wednesday it expected to begin human testing of two of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine candidates at the end of the year. The two candidates, VBI-2901 and VBI-2902, were selected after three pre-clinical mouse studies induced neutralizing antibodies after a single dose, the company said. The activity was analyzed using a plaque reduction neutralization test, considered the gold standard for measuring antibodies that can neutralize a virus, the company said. VBI said its manufacturing partner, Therapure Biomanufacturing, will begin making bulk vaccines in September for use through mid-stage trials.
26th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Covid-19 vaccine trials may begin in Southampton this autumn

A coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by scientists in Southampton could begin clinical trials in the city in the autumn. A £1.9 million funding boost from Innovate UK, the Government’s innovation agency, has provided support for a collaboration between Cambridge spin-out company DIOSynVax, the University of Cambridge and the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. The cash will allow the team to take the vaccine candidate to clinical trial. This will take place at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Southampton Clinical Research Facility and could begin as early as autumn this year.
26th Aug 2020 - Daily Echo

Are COVID-19 Vaccines And Therapeutics Advancing Faster Than Expected

The worldwide response, both private and public, to finding a therapeutic and/or vaccine for the global pandemic has brought out the best in the global community. Contrary to historical comparable situations, it appears that this time a vaccine or vaccines may emerge in the very near future… an astronomical pace. Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, infectious disease experts said that developing a vaccine for the virus would take at least 12–18 months. Now, in their continued blitzkrieg against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, several drug companies are keeping pace with their ambitious timelines, and some are moving even faster than they initially predicted. Recent articles have reflected this optimism. One such report said: "The pandemic is pushing drug companies to develop and test their wares at unparalleled speeds. "There is no reason you couldn't speed up drug development if you really focused on it, and that's what the pandemic has brought," say a CEO of a life sciences consulting firm… Never have so many groups been working on vaccines and treatments for the same disease, said an, executive director of a medical research advocacy division of a well-known Institute. "(But) We have to be cautiously optimistic."
26th Aug 2020 - PR Newswire UK

Citriodiol-based spray can help protect against Covid-19, says MoD lab

A naturally derived mosquito repellent that was given to British soldiers in April is effective at providing protection against Covid-19, defence scientists have said. But it is unclear whether the spray would make any practical difference beyond frequent hand-washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers and personal protective equipment in insulating against the virus. The Ministry of Defence released an eight-page paper from the Porton Down-based Defence Science and Technology Lab (DSTL), which tested the efficacy of Mosi-guard, a Citriodiol-based spray, on plastic and artificial skin. Jeremy Quin, a junior defence minister, said the research found that sprays containing Citriodiol “can kill the virus”.
26th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 vaccine makers lobby EU for legal protection

The European pharmaceutical industry’s vaccines lobby has pushed the EU for exemptions that would protect its members from lawsuits if there are problems with any new coronavirus vaccines, according to people with knowledge of the discussions and an internal memo seen by the Financial Times. The pandemic has compressed into months vaccine research and development that can take years. Some potential vaccines are already at the phase-three testing stage — the last step before they come to regulators for approval. At the same time, governments around the world have poured cash into research and development to try to save lives and prevent economically crippling lockdowns.
26th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Non-woven masks better to stop Covid-19, says Japanese supercomputer

Face masks made from non-woven fabric are more effective at blocking the spread of Covid-19 via airborne respiratory droplets than other types that are commonly available, according to modelling in Japan by the world’s fastest supercomputer. Fugaku, which can perform more than 415 quadrillion computations a second, conducted simulations involving three types of mask, and found that non-woven masks were better than those made of cotton and polyester at blocking spray emitted when the wearer coughs, the Nikkei Asian Review said. Non-woven masks refer to the disposable medical masks that are commonly worn in Japan during the flu season, and now during the coronavirus pandemic.
26th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Obesity increases risk of Covid-19 death by 48%, study finds

Obesity increases the risk of dying of Covid-19 by nearly 50% and may make vaccines against the disease less effective, according to a comprehensive study using global data. The findings, which the lead researcher described as “scary”, show that the risks for people with obesity are greater than previously thought. The study – a collaborative effort between the University of North Carolina (UNC), Saudi Health Council and World Bank – will increase pressure on governments to tackle obesity, including in the UK where Boris Johnson has put himself at the head of a drive to reduce the nation’s weight. It emerged ahead of a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research that calls on the government to go further than its recent initiatives, which include restrictions on junk food advertising and supermarket offers.
26th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Two patients in Europe catch COVID-19 for a second time - reports

Two patients in Europe have reportedly been confirmed as having been reinfected with the coronavirus, with scientists admitting it is "not good news". A patient in the Netherlands said to have caught the virus for a second time is an older person with a weakened immune system, according to Dutch national broadcaster NOS. The other person - in Belgium - was said to have experienced mild symptoms after catching the virus again in June, having reportedly first been infected in the second week of March.
26th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus: UK dropped WHO guidance on alcohol-based hand sanitisers before lockdown

Official advice on what hand sanitiser to use against coronavirus was watered down by the government 10 days before lockdown and no longer matches World Health Organisation (WHO) standards. WHO says hand sanitiser should contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective against COVID-19 and has published tests showing it takes 20 to 30 seconds to kill the virus on hands. A Sky News investigation has found hundreds of thousands of bottles of alcohol-free hand sanitiser, which take up to two minutes to kill coronavirus, are being used in schools, homes and businesses.
26th Aug 2020 - Sky News

A model for keeping the pandemic in check in Italy

In April, a team led by Professor Andrea Rinaldo, the head of EPFL's Laboratory of Ecohydrology (ECHO), published a paper that presented a model for the spread of COVID-19 in Italy. Since then, the model has been used to investigate different potential outcomes of the pandemic's progression depending on the measures put in place. The researchers, from the Politecnico di Milano, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, the University of Padua and EPFL, published these latest results today in Nature Communications.
26th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

A Cure For Covid-19 Could Be Right Under Our Noses

Nobody wants to go back to a national coronavirus lockdown. France’s Emmanuel Macron and Spain’s Pedro Sanchez are ruling out blanket stay-at-home restrictions, even as Covid-19 cases surge higher. Their motives are clear: Another round of widespread lockdowns would tank the economy and split society, and would also be an admission of defeat from politicians and public-health officials who — like Sanchez — insist we are “better prepared” to control the epidemic than we were in the dark days of spring. The less draconian strategy of combining preventative measures, while waiting for a vaccine to emerge, is a commendable one. But there are limits here, too. Mask policies are becoming tougher and more complicated, risking confusion and hostility. International travel curbs, which haven’t always proven effective or easy to enforce, are piling up again. And while testing and tracing are vital for improving our ability to catch cases, resource gaps remain. Spain is enlisting the army to help its efforts.
26th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Abbott Cleared for Fast $5 Covid Test That Avoids Lab Delay

A 15-minute Covid test from Abbott Laboratories that will be priced at just $5 has been granted emergency authorization for use in the U.S., a breakthrough that could ease the bottleneck that has crimped much of the nation’s testing capacity. The product, dubbed BinaxNOW, works without relying on laboratory equipment at a time when labs can take as long as two weeks to produce results. It uses a nasal swab and a small reactive card, and it can be administered by a range of health-care workers, including pharmacists, at almost any location.
26th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Women may mount stronger COVID-19 immune response

A new study looking at male and female immune responses to the new coronavirus may shed new light on why men are more likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, researchers said Wednesday. Since early in the pandemic it has been clear that men, particularly older men, are at a far higher risk of dying from the virus than women of a similar age, but scientists have not yet been able to pinpoint exactly why. A new study published in the journal Nature noted that globally men account for about 60 percent of deaths from COVID-19 and looked at whether differences in immune responses could explain why.
26th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

Insect spray chemical can kill coronavirus: UK study

A chemical used in insect repellent can kill the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, according to a preliminary study by Britain's defense laboratory published on Wednesday. Scientists at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) found that Citriodiol, the active ingredient in repellents such as Mosi-guard, had anti-viral properties if mixed with the virus in the liquid phase and on a test surface. "Mixing a virus suspension with Mosi-guard spray or selected constituent components resulted in a reduction in SARS-CoV-2," said the study. At a high concentration, "Mosi-guard gave a significant decrease... resulting in no recoverable virus," it added.
26th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

Australian coronavirus antibody therapy aims for trial in early 2021

Australian researchers hope to start human trials of a coronavirus antibody therapy in early 2021. A large-scale trial of a vaccine could begin by the end of this year. Antibody therapies would be most useful for the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
26th Aug 2020 - CNBC

Cambridge coronavirus vaccine clinical trials could begin in the autumn

A £1.9 million funding boost from Innovate UK, the Government’s innovation agency, has provided support for a collaboration between Cambridge spin-out company DIOSynVax, the University of Cambridge and the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. The research team used banks of genetic sequences of all known coronaviruses, including those from bats, the natural hosts of many relatives of human coronaviruses, to develop their vaccine candidate called DIOS-CoVax2. They have developed libraries of computer-generated antigen structures which can train the immune system to target key regions of the virus and system to make good anti-viral responses. These immune responses include neutralising antibodies, which block virus infection, and T-cells, which remove virus-infected cells.
26th Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

FDA chief apologises for overstating benefits of plasma on Covid-19

The top doctor at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has apologised for overstating the benefits of plasma for treating Covid-19 patients. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn came under fire after his agency on Sunday gave emergency authorisation to use convalescent plasma on Covid patients. Echoing President Donald Trump, Mr Hahn touted the treatment as life-saving. Scientists quickly questioned the data provided by Mr Hahn, who suggested plasma could reduce deaths by 35%. This claim exaggerated preliminary findings from a clinic at the Mayo Clinic. "I personally could have done a better job and should have done a better job at that press conference explaining what the data show regarding convalescent plasma," Mr Hahn told CBS News on Tuesday.
25th Aug 2020 - BBC News


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

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Coronavirus: Two-metre rule is based on 'outdated' science as sneeze droplets can travel 8m, study claims

High-risk environments such as nightclubs and bars should have stricter distancing rules, the British Medical Journal argues. The two-metre rule is based on "outdated" science because there is evidence that coronavirus droplets can travel up to 8m (26ft) when someone sneezes or shouts, researchers have claimed. Social distancing guidelines are "over-simplistic", as small droplets containing COVID-19 can go much further than the government claims, according to the study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). It says that high-risk environments - such as nightclubs or bars - should be subject to social distancing rules of up to 8m, while lower-risk settings could have their rules significantly relaxed.
26th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Universities join forces to develop materials for the fight against COVID-19

Researchers around the world are racing to find treatments to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused more than 16 million human infections globally. COVID-19 is caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. A person becomes infected when the virus makes its way through the mouth or nose into the lungs and from there into the cells that line the inside of our lungs. Exactly how the virus gets past the protective barriers in our lungs is unknown, but scientists have recently discovered that SARS-CoV-2 binds to a type of carbohydrate-based polymer called glycosaminoglycan (GAG). The widely used anticoagulant heparin belongs to this class of natural polymers, and hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who were administered heparin to treat blood clotting disorders also experienced a lower risk of dying from COVID-19.
25th Aug 2020 - EurekAlert!

China's Sinovac enters supply deal with Indonesia for COVID-19 vaccine doses

Sinovac Biotech Ltd said on Tuesday it would help Indonesia’s state-owned drugmaker Bio Farma produce in the country at least 40 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine before March 2021.The U.S.-listed Chinese drugmaker has signed two agreements with Bio Farma for supply, local production and technology licensing of its vaccine candidate CoronaVac and the Indonesian company is conducting the late-stage study of the candidate. Sinovac will continue to supply the bulk vaccine until the end of 2021 after March, it said in a statement. There are no approved vaccine for COVID-19, with drugmakers and research organizations racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine that is seen as crucial to combat the pandemic.
25th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Safety watchdog to probe hospital spread of Covid-19

The spread of coronavirus to patients within hospitals is being investigated by a safety watchdog to try and help the NHS protect patients and prepare for winter. The independent Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has launched a national enquiry after identifying multiple instances of patients contracting Covid-19 within hospitals. Its work comes as new research by King’s College London has found at least an eighth of Covid-19 hospital patients were infected while already in hospital. The study looked at 1,564 Covid-19 patients admitted to 10 hospitals in the UK and in Italy during April.
25th Aug 2020 - The Independent

Thousands of Swedes got false positive COVID-19 result due to test kit fault

There were fears pregnant women were more vulnerable to catching Covid-19 Researchers looked at a total of 1.7million women from the UK, US and Sweden There were no differences between pregnant and non-pregnant women. They had similar rates of symptoms and hospitalisations
25th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Healthy pregnant women are not more vulnerable to Covid-19 and do not fall more seriously ill

There were fears pregnant women were more vulnerable to catching Covid-19. Researchers looked at a total of 1.7million women from the UK, US and Sweden There were no differences between pregnant and non-pregnant women. They had similar rates of symptoms and hospitalisations
25th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

New drool-based tests are replacing the dreaded coronavirus nasal swab

First, a technician pushes a pencil-length swab to the very back of your nasal passages. Then you pay $100 or more, and wait days for an answer. But faster, cheaper, more pleasant ways to test for the novel coronavirus are coming online. This month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for two tests that sample saliva instead of nasal fluid, and more innovations are likely after FDA relaxed rules to allow new tests to be adopted more quickly. One candidate was announced last week: an experimental test, potentially faster and cheaper, that analyzes saliva in a new way.
25th Aug 2020 - Science Magazine

Doctors to trial treatment for Covid-19 patients with diabetes

Diabetes patients face a more-than-double risk of death if they catch Covid-19 High levels of sugar in the blood can make immune system unreliable. Drug used to reduce blood sugar could protect patients from severe illness. Trial will begin on UK patients in hospitals with 'mild to moderate' coronavirus
25th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

In FDA's green light for treating COVID-19 with plasma, critics see thin evidence—and politics

At a highly unusual Sunday night press conference, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed what he described as “a very historic breakthrough” in the fight against COVID-19 that “would save countless lives”: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma to treat people with severe COVID-19. The authorization could allow more hospitalized patients to receive the antibody-rich plasma, which is donated by people who have recovered from the disease. But in the wake of Trump’s announcement, which came a day before the start of the Republican National Convention, researchers struggled to sort the politics from the medical and scientific import of the EUA.
25th Aug 2020 - Science Magazine

Pharma giant AstraZeneca updates on Covid-19 antibody drug trial

AstraZeneca has revealed it has begun a UK-based trial on a potential antibody-based treatment for tackling the Covid-19 virus. The US-funded phase 1 trial, which includes up to 48 healthy participants from the UK aged between 18 and 55, will evaluate the safety and tolerability of the treatment. It is being aimed at people who may not be able to have a vaccination or for high-risk populations where additional protection from the virus may be needed.
25th Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

AstraZeneca starts Covid-19 antibody drug trial in UK

Trials of the Oxford coronavirus vaccine may have gathered enough data to show whether it works and is safe by the end of the year – but it will then need to go through the regulatory process, scientists say. Prof Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said it is “just possible” that there may be enough clinical trial data on Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine to put before the regulators this year. Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has said a vaccine may not be ready until next winter. Pollard suggested they were hoping to go faster. “I think that Chris Whitty is quite rightly being cautious, that it could take as long as that to first of all demonstrate a vaccine works and is safe and then to go through the processes of regulators looking at that very carefully to make sure everything’s been done correctly,” Pollard told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
25th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Metabolic syndrome sufferers' death risk 300% higher

Researchers looked at hospitalized coronavirus patients with metabolic syndrome compared to those without it. The syndrome occurs when someone has three out of the five conditions: high blood sugar, hypertension, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and obesity. Coronavirus patients with metabolic syndrome were 3.4 times more likely to die. They were also five times more likely to be admitted to the ICU or be placed on a ventilator
25th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

India is key for global access to a COVID-19 vaccine – here's why

The great COVID-19 vaccine race is on. Pharmaceutical companies around the world are going head to head, while governments scramble to get priority access to the most promising candidates. But a richest-takes-all approach in the fight against the deadliest pandemic in living memory is bound to be counter productive, especially for the recovery of low and middle income countries. If governments cannot come together to agree a global strategy, then the global south may need to pin its hopes on the manufacturing might of India.
25th Aug 2020 - The Conversation UK

Six of the most promising treatments for Covid-19 so far

Many different drugs and therapies are being trialled and used on patients with Covid-19. There are some positive results, which may be beginning to bring the hospital death toll down, but there is still a long way to go towards something that will cure all comers. These are some of the most promising.
24th Aug 2020 - The Guardian


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

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Exclusive: Fauci says rushing out a vaccine could jeopardize testing of others

The top U.S. infectious diseases expert is warning that distributing a COVID-19 vaccine under special emergency use guidelines before it has been proved safe and effective in large trials is a bad idea that could have a chilling effect on the testing of other vaccines.
25th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Novavax starts enrollment for phase two of COVID-19 vaccine trial

Novavax Inc said on Monday it has begun enrolling volunteers for the second phase of an ongoing clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, with interim data expected in the fourth quarter of 2020. In the new phase, the age range has been expanded, with adults between 60 and 84 years accounting for nearly 50% of the trial’s population. Early-stage data from a small clinical trial of the vaccine has shown it produced high levels of virus-fighting antibodies, and the company aims to begin larger studies to obtain regulatory approvals as early as December. The vaccine candidate is one of nearly 30 being tested in human clinical trials globally and lags candidates from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna that are in late-stage studies.
24th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Australian official dismisses Catholic bishop's objections to Covid-19 vaccine

The deputy chief medical officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, has downplayed concerns from prominent church figures in Australia that some Christians could refuse a Covid-19 vaccine on ethical grounds. Coatsworth’s defence of the University of Oxford vaccine follows a warning from Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher,that Catholics would be presented with an “ethical dilemma” if the vaccine was proved successful as it relies on cell lines from an electively aborted fetus. Fisher called on the government to “pursue similar arrangements for alternate vaccines that do not raise the same ethical concerns” about the formulation of the vaccine. The warning, contained in a letter to prime minister Scott Morrison, was also co-signed by the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, and the Greek Orthodox archbishop of Australia, Makarios Griniezakis. It noted there are 167 Covid-19 vaccines being researched, with several that don’t use fetal cells in their development.
24th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Hong Kong scientists report 1st case of COVID-19 reinfection

- Researchers in Hong Kong said Monday they have confirmed the world's first documented case of a patient becoming reinfected with COVID-19 following recovery. Scientists at the University of Hong Kong said the coronavirus disease was found in a 33-year-old man who'd initially tested positive in April, and was subsequently cleared.
24th Aug 2020 - UPI.com

Covid-19 is becoming less deadly in Europe but we don't know why

Fresh data has made it increasingly clear people are less likely to die if they get covid-19 now compared to earlier in the pandemic, at least in Europe, but the reasons why are still shrouded in unce
24th Aug 2020 - New Scientist

Defeating Covid-19 requires a common global approach

The virus is winning. Global cases of coronavirus continue to climb as the disease spreads into poorer nations with fragile health systems. The lessons from the world’s previous pandemic are sobering. During the H1N1, or swine flu, outbreak in 2009, rich countries bought up virtually all available supplies of vaccine, leaving poorer nations high and dry. This time, the stakes are far higher. New treatments and vaccines could provide humanity with an escape route — but this requires resources to go where they are needed most, since Covid-19 recognises no borders. The disease can only be defeated at a global level. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that medical products are available to rich and poor alike. Wealthy countries racing to secure early access to vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tests and protective equipment for their own populations must wake up to this reality.
24th Aug 2020 - The Financial Times

Coronavirus: Hospital staff prepare for possible second wave

Staff at a north Wales hospital have appealed to patients and visitors to "carry on listening and keeping to the the guidelines" as they prepare for a possible second wave of Covid-19. The latest figures show Betsi Cadwaladr health board has seen a spike in deaths compared to other health boards. But staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor said some people "seem to think the pandemic is over". The health board said it was slowly resuming normal services for patients. It has seen a high number of cases in Wrexham, which had the highest weekly number of coronavirus-related deaths. Interim chief executive Simon Dean said the health board was "well prepared for an increase in cases", having increased bed capacity in hospitals, recruiting staff and established the three Ysbyty Enfys field hospitals.
24th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Majority of care homes nurses felt mistreated during Covid-19 peak

Four-fifths of care home nurses would assess their experience of working during the coronavirus pandemic as "very negative", according to a new snapshot survey. During May and June 2020, the Queen's Nursing Institute polled members of its UK Care Home Nurses Network to find out how they were coping with the crisis.
24th Aug 2020 - Nursing Times

Swedish COVID-19 response chief predicts local outbreaks, no big second wave

Sweden is likely to see local outbreaks but no big second wave of COVID-19 cases in the autumn, such as inundated hospitals a few months ago, the country’s top epidemiologist and architect if its unorthodox pandemic strategy said on Monday. Sweden has been an outlier in Europe’s fight against the novel coronavirus, keeping businesses, restaurants and most schools open throughout the pandemic, while not recommending the use of face masks, which remain a rare sight on city streets. Per capita, Sweden has suffered many times more COVID-19 deaths than its Nordic neighbours, though not quite as many as Europe’s worst-hit countries such as Belgium, Spain and Britain. New cases, hospitalisations and mortality have fallen sharply over the past couple of months. With most Swedes having returned from summer vacations and schools reopening last week for the new semester, there are concerns the country could see a second wave of infections.
24th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Ten countries kept out Covid. But did they win?

The Palau Hotel opened in 1982, before mass tourism but since then, this tiny nation, surrounded by the sky-blue Pacific Ocean, has enjoyed something of a boom. In 2019, 90,000 tourists came to Palau, five times the total population. In 2017, IMF figures showed, tourism made up 40% of the country’s GDP. But that was pre-Covid. Palau's borders have been, in effect, closed since late March. It is one of the only 10 countries in the world with no confirmed cases (counting only countries that are full UN members, and excluding North Korea and Turkmenistan). Yet, without infecting a single person, the virus has ravaged the country. The Palau Hotel has been closed since March, and it’s not alone. The restaurants are empty, the souvenir shops are shut, and the only hotel guests are returning residents in quarantine.
24th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Scientists report 'first confirmed re-infection'

Hong Kong scientists report the first confirmed case of an apparently healthy patient being re-infected with Covid-19, four months after the first infection
24th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Scientists claim first human reinfected with Covid-19

Scientists have reported the world’s first case of a human being reinfected with the coronavirus in a discovery that could have significant implications for the development of vaccines, and hopes of natural immunity against the virus. Researchers at Hong Kong University’s department of microbiology said genetic sequencing of the virus showed that a Hong Kong man was infected twice by different versions of the coronavirus months apart. According to the study, the patient was a 33-year-old man who was in good health. When he was first infected, he suffered a cough, sore throat, fever and headache for three days. He had a test that confirmed Covid-19 and he was hospitalised on 29 March.
24th Aug 2020 - The Independent

In the Brazilian Amazon, a sharp drop in coronavirus sparks questions over collective immunity

The hospital system was coming apart. Coronavirus patients were being turned away. Basic necessities — beds, stretchers, oxygen — had run out. Ambulances had nowhere to take patients. People were dying at home. Gravediggers couldn’t keep up. The human destruction in the Brazilian city of Manaus would be “catastrophic,” physician Geraldo Felipe Barbosa feared. But then, unexpectedly, it started to let up ­— without the interventions seen elsewhere.
24th Aug 2020 - The Washington Post

COVID-19: How the lockdown has affected the health of the poor in South Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked substantial damage on human lives and the economy in South Africa. But the impact of the measures used to combat the pandemic, such as lockdowns, have not been even. The pandemic has likely worsened the income inequalities that characterize the country's economy. We recently conducted a study to estimate how closely health was related to income, in the context of COVID-19 in South Africa. We used data from the National Income Dynamics Study-Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey, a nationally representative survey collected in May/June 2020. The survey collected information on health, income and other relevant factors during the higher levels of the lockdown. We compared these findings to data collected from the same individuals in 2017.
24th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

U.S. Authorizes Plasma Treatment for Virus, but the Big Prize for the White House Is a Vaccine

Trump administration officials met with congressional leaders last month and told them they would probably give emergency approval to a coronavirus vaccine before the end of Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States, perhaps as early as late September, according to two people briefed on the discussion. The move would be highly unusual and would most likely prompt concerns about whether the administration is cutting corners on approvals for political purposes.
24th Aug 2020 - The New York Times

Coronavirus: Teens' anxiety levels dropped during pandemic, study finds

Anxiety levels among young teenagers dropped during the coronavirus pandemic, a study has suggested. Thirteen to 14-year-olds were less anxious during lockdown than they had been last October, according to the University of Bristol survey. Researchers surveyed 1,000 secondary school children in south west England. They said the results were a "big surprise" and it raised questions about the impact of the school environment on teenagers' mental health. The findings come after Prof Chris Whitty, the UK's chief medical adviser, said children were more likely to be harmed by not returning to school than they were if they caught coronavirus. The UK's four chief medical officers have sought to allay parents' concerns ahead of schools reopening in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the coming days. Schools in Scotland have already returned.
24th Aug 2020 - BBC News

An epidemic of depression and anxiety among young adults

Of COVID-19’s many side effects, perhaps the least appreciated are psychological. Those who have had a bad case and survived, like people who’ve been in war or accidents, may suffer post-traumatic stress for years. And even people in the as-yet-healthy majority are hurting. Young adults, in particular, are getting more depressed and anxious as the pandemic uproots whatever budding life plans they had been nursing. It’s long been clear that COVID-19, like any major disaster, is causing an increase in mental health disorders and their accompanying evils. Those range from alcoholism and drug addiction to wife beating and child abuse. In the Americas, the world’s most afflicted region with hot spots from the the United States to Brazil, this psycho-social crisis has become its own epidemic, according to the World Health Organization’s regional branch.
24th Aug 2020 - The Japan Times

Seven new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, all linked to cluster - Bloomfield

There are seven new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, all linked to the latest Auckland cluster, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says. He says two of the cases are linked to a church and two are household contacts. One previously reported case has recovered, so the total number of active cases in New Zealand is 129, he says. There are 2446 close contacts associated with the cluster, he says, of which 2390 had been contacted and were self-isolating. The remaining 56 were being contacted, he said. He says there are 160 people linked to the cluster in a quarantine facility, including 89 who tested positive. Eight people are in hospital, with three people in a critical condition and in intensive care.
24th Aug 2020 - RNZ


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

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Trump administration considering fast-tracking UK COVID-19 vaccine before election - FT

President Donald Trump on Sunday hailed FDA authorization of a coronavirus treatment that uses blood plasma from recovered patients, a day after accusing the agency of impeding the rollout of vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons.
23rd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

UK 'could go into second national lockdown' if coronavirus cases spike like in Spain, senior official warns

The UK could be forced into a second nationwide lockdown if rising coronavirus cases reach levels seen in Spain, it has been reported. After the R number in the UK rose to as high as 1.1 - meaning cases could start to spread rapidly - the Government is considering tougher "nationwide measures," according to a senior official. The R number could be distorted by local outbreaks which mean the situation is worse in places like Oldham than in the country as a whole - but a further national lockdown could be needed to keep the virus under the control.
23rd Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

'14-day quarantine not enough for COVID-19 patients'

An expert virologist in Thailand has said a 14-day quarantine period is not enough to ensure full recovery from COVID-19. He suggested that people need to self-isolate for another 14 days -- meaning almost a month -- to be sure the virus is gone. Professor Yong Poovorawan of Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University said he has studied 212 COVID-19 cases and outlined four points in a Facebook post on Thursday. “I found 6.6% of them showed symptoms four to 12 weeks after they were allowed to return home,” he said. “We found a virus after 36-105 days of symptoms, but very weak so the possibility of spreading the disease to others is very low.” He said the “hatching range” of most COVID-19 cases is two to seven days. “It may be found up to 14 days and it may be less than 21 days,” said Poovorawan, who is a medical professor in pediatric hepatology, viral hepatitis and virology.
23rd Aug 2020 - Anadolu Agency

Trump to announce emergency authorization of convalescent plasma as COVID-19 treatment

In a tweet late Saturday night, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the announcement at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time Sunday involved “a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China virus.” Officials confirmed on Sunday the treatment is convalescent plasma; they spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the issue. The White House declined comment.
23rd Aug 2020 - Seattle Times

Peru, Morocco to test China Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 3 trial

Authorities in Peru and Morocco have approved Phase 3 clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the company said late on Thursday on Chinese social media platform WeChat. Phase 3 trials, which usually involve several thousand participants, allow researchers to gather data on the efficacy of potential vaccines for final regulatory approvals. The experimental vaccine of CNBG, a unit of state-owned pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), has entered a Phase 3 trial in the United Arab Emirates that has already recruited 15,000 volunteers
23rd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

China: Traces of Covid-19 found in imported frozen food

Chinese authorities say the virus was found in imported shipments of frozen food, one of which came from Brazil. According to local Chinese authorities, traces of Covid-19 have been found in shipments of imported frozen food in two Chinese cities, Reuters reports. A shipment of frozen chicken wings, imported from Brazil into the southern city of Shenzen, tested positive for the virus when it was sampled. Reuters reports that Shenzhen authorities identified the chicken as originating from a plant owned by Aurora, Brazil’s third-largest poultry and pork exporter. China has not formally notified Brazilian authorities about the alleged Covid-19 that was found on the frozen wings.
23rd Aug 2020 - Poultry World

Argentina joins Chinese coronavirus vaccine trial, maker says

Argentina joined Peru, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates in approving Phase 3 clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine developed by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), the company said late Friday. As China forges ahead in the global race to develop a vaccine to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and as cases within China dwindle, CNBG needs research participants from other countries for testing. Phase 3 trials, which usually involve several thousand participants, allow researchers to gather data on the efficacy of potential vaccines for final regulatory approvals. CNBG will partner with Argentina’s ELEA in the vaccine trial, the Chinese company said in a statement late Friday.
23rd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

China already using Covid-19 vaccine candidate on key workers, official says

Border officials and health workers among first to get jabs as they are more likely to get infected, government adviser Zheng Zhongwei says. Scheme will later be rolled out to include people working in the transport and service sectors and at wet markets, he says
23rd Aug 2020 - South China Morning Post

China approves human testing for coronavirus vaccine grown in insect cells

China has approved human testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine cultivated within insect cells, local government in the southwestern city of Chengdu said on Saturday. China is in a global race to develop cost-effective vaccines to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. Using insect cells to grow proteins for the coronavirus vaccine - a first in China - could speed up large-scale production, the city government of Chengdu said in a notice on social media WeChat. The vaccine, developed by West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, has received approval from the National Medical Products Administration to enter a clinical trial, the notice said.
23rd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Doctors issue warning over 'rushed' coronavirus vaccine which may have 'dangerous' side-effects

Doctors warn coronavirus vaccine testing is rushed and can't guarantee safety Vaccines normally take up to 15 years to approve, the average is 10 years Pharmaceutical giants race to be the first with a covid vaccine in under 2 years Australians could face being banned from work or travelling for refusing jab Doctors warn the government not to make the 'rushed' vaccine compulsory More than 100 vaccine candidates studied worldwide, at least 10 in clinical trials
23rd Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Children over 12 should wear face masks to combat Covid, says WHO

The World Health Organization says children aged 12 and over should wear masks to help tackle the pandemic. Masks should be worn when 1-metre distancing cannot be guaranteed and there is widespread transmission, it advised. It is the first time the WHO has issued guidance on masks for children and comes less than two weeks before pupils in England return to school. Although a small number of schools – including James Gillespie’s high school in Edinburgh and Eaton Mill primary school in Milton Keynes – have said they will require children to wear masks, the government says that masks are “not recommended” for primary or secondary school children.
23rd Aug 2020 - The Guardian

UK’s top medical officers defend opening schools

Britain’s top medical officers say children are more likely to be harmed by staying away from school than from being exposed to the coronavirus. England’s chief medical officer on Sunday joined his counterparts in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in saying that children are less likely to contract the virus than adults and have “an exceptionally low risk” of dying from the coronavirus. By contrast, they said studies show that not going to school limits children’s ability to succeed in life and may worsen physical and mental health problems. “Very few, if any, children or teenagers will come to long-term harm from the coroavirus due solely to attending school,” they said in a statement. “This has to be set against a certainty of long-term harm to many children and young people from not attending school.”
23rd Aug 2020 - The Standard

Mexico exploring phase 3 trials of Russian coronavirus vaccine

Mexico told Moscow on Wednesday it would like to carry out phase 3 testing of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, as part of the Latin American country’s intensifying efforts to secure early supplies of an effective medicine to control the pandemic. After a meeting with Russia’s ambassador to Mexico, Viktor Koronelli, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Twitter he had expressed interest in carrying out large scale human trials “to have the vaccine as soon as possible in Mexico.” Russia has already produced the first batch of its new vaccine, giving approval before trials that would normally involve thousands of participants. Such phase 3 trials are usually considered essential precursors for a vaccine to secure regulatory approval. The race to produce a vaccine has become a contest for influence and prestige among major powers, while developing economies are trying to ensure a fair distribution of the medicines.
22nd Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: New Zealand looks to use saliva tests as part of Covid-19 fight

A test to diagnose Covid-19 using saliva is being looked at as a potential player in New Zealand’s fight against the pandemic. Aucklander Dr Anne Wyllie, based at the Yale School of Public Health in Connecticut, led research which found saliva samples may be more sensitive to detecting Covid-19 than the invasive “gold standard” nasal swab tests. This week, a saliva test developed by Wyllie’s team – dubbed SalivaDirect – was granted Emergency Use Authorisation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making it immediately available to other labs that want to start using it.
22nd Aug 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Coronavirus vaccine to go on sale in December, claims China

China's coronavirus vaccine will be available to buy in December, the company developing it has said. The state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group Corporation said the vaccine is currently undergoing its third and final trial. Two shots of the vaccine will cost less than 1,000 yuan (about £110) and will be completely effective, company president Liu Jingzhen said.
22nd Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

A Chinese company says its vaccine will be ready by December—but it won’t be cheap

Sinopharm, a state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company, says that its COVID-19 vaccine will reach market by December, but its likely price tag is much higher than any put forward for a coronavirus vaccine so far. “It is expected to cost a few hundred yuan for a shot, and for two shots it should be less than 1000 yuan ($145),” Sinopharm CEO Liu Jingzhen, told a Chinese newspaper this week. Liu said that the cost is “not very high,” but, in fact, it's significantly more expensive than the projected prices of its peers.
22nd Aug 2020 - Fortune

A Covid-19 vaccine from insects: China rolls out tests

China has approved human testing for a potential coronavirus vaccine cultivated within insect cells, local government in the southwestern city of Chengdu said on Saturday. China is in a global race to develop cost-effective vaccines to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. Using insect cells to grow proteins for the coronavirus vaccine - a first in China - could speed up large-scale production, the city government of Chengdu said in a notice on social media WeChat. The vaccine, developed by West China Hospital of Sichuan University in Chengdu, has received approval from the National Medical Products Administration to enter a clinical trial, the notice said. When tested on monkeys, the vaccine was shown to prevent Sars-CoV-2 infections with no obvious side-effects, the notice added.
22nd Aug 2020 - Khaleej Times

Dr Anthony Fauci tells Australia and the world they will defeat COVID-19

Dr Anthony Fauci appears in first Australian interview on 60 Minutes on Sunday He shares a message of hope saying the world will defeat the killer coronavirus 'We're going to get out of this. We're going to end this guaranteed,' Dr Fauci said
22nd Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Covid-19 strain in Qatar is similar to China, India and Philippines

The representative Covid-19 strain in Qatar is very similar to the strains found in Guangdong (China), Philippines and India, according to an analysis by two officials from Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU). Expressing their views in their personal capacity, Dr Mounir Hamdi, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Dr Tanvir Ala, an assistant professor at the college noted that although these countries do not share a geographical border with Qatar, there are many expats from China, Philippines, and India who are residents of Qatar. According to their analysis, “Though Qatar’s initial case was reported from Iran, subsequent cases might have originated from these countries. Our estimated phylogenetic tree places the representative strain of Qatar very close to England, Hong Kong, and Wales as well. Interestingly, strains from other Gulf countries were under the same clade of the phylogenetic tree but proved quite far from the clade of the representative strain of Qatar.”
22nd Aug 2020 - Gulf Times

Pifzer, BioNTech eye October approval for mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer and BioNTech have revealed additional data from a phase 1 study of two of its COVID-19 vaccine candidates, as well as their plans to potentially seek regulatory approval by October this year. At the beginning of July, Pfizer/BioNTech revealed early positive data from their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine programme. Those results demonstrated that one of the candidates, BNT162b1, generated promising dose-dependent immunogenicity. However, the companies somewhat surprised commentators when they announced that another candidate, BNT162b2, had been selected for a large-scale, phase 3 clinical trial. In additional data shared today, Pfizer/BioNTech posted the results from all 332 participants tested with the two mRNA-based candidates, BNT162b1 or BNT162b2, to clarify their decision
21st Aug 2020 - PMLiVE

Thailand Seeks Local Production Rights to Oxford’s Covid Vaccine

Thailand is looking to secure access to a Covid-19 vaccine candidate being developed by University of Oxford through an agreement which would give the Southeast Asian nation the technology rights for local production. “We’re in the process of finalizing our letter of intent to cooperate with the Oxford vaccine research team,” Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Friday. “Once that process is done, I’ll sign it right away.”
21st Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

UK's cheap food could fuel Covid-19 spread, says WHO envoy

Britain’s demand for cheap food could be fuelling the spread of the coronavirus in factories, a leading health expert has warned, as analysis shows nearly 1,500 cases across the UK. Cramped conditions in some factories and in low-paid workers’ homes, spurred by the UK’s desire for cheaply produced food, may have driven infection rates in the sector, according to David Nabarro, a World Health Organization special envoy on Covid-19. In the early stages of the pandemic, the UK avoided the scale of Covid-19 outbreaks seen in meat factories and other food processing plants in countries such as the US. But a Guardian analysis suggests that reported UK outbreaks of the disease are now increasing in frequency, with examples of cases spreading into the wider community.
21st Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Russia's Vektor COVID-19 vaccine to complete clinical trial in September - RIA

The clinical trial of a Russian COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the Siberian Vektor research centre is due to be completed in September, the RIA news agency cited Russia's healthcare watchdog as saying on Friday.
21st Aug 2020 - Yahoo News UK

China giving experimental coronavirus vaccines to high-risk groups since July, says official

China has been giving experimental coronavirus vaccines to groups facing high infection risks since July, a health official told state media. No vaccine has yet passed final, large-scale trials to prove it is safe and effective enough to protect people from contracting the virus that has led to almost 800,000 deaths worldwide. The aim is to boost the immunity of specific groups of people, including medical workers and those who work at food markets and in the transportation and service sectors, Zheng Zhongwei, a National Health Commission official, told state TV in an interview aired late on Saturday. Authorities could consider modestly expanding the emergency use programme to try to prevent possible outbreaks during the autumn and winter, added Zheng, who heads the Chinese government-led team that coordinates state resources for coronavirus vaccine development.
21st Aug 2020 - Reuters

New Zealand’s renewed COVID crisis: Why scientists say the virus is hard to contain

New Zealand -- once the world's COVID recovery darling, applauded internationally for its lockdown and apparent quashing of the pandemic coronavirus -- is now facing a fresh cluster of cases. After the country's recent celebration of 100 days without any documented coronavirus cases, scientists say New Zealand's latest COVID-19 resurgence is shedding new light on how the virus is spread and why it's so hard to contain. While the cause of the outbreak is still being investigated, experts say it's possible the virus has been there all along. "Just because there are no reported cases, that doesn't mean there aren't any," said Dr. Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "There could be asymptomatic cases existing and spreading without any actually being detected."
19th Aug 2020 - ABC News

Blood Plasma Treatment for Covid-19 Now on Hold at F.D.A.

Last week, just as the Food and Drug Administration was preparing to issue an emergency authorization for blood plasma as a Covid-19 treatment, a group of top federal health officials including Dr. Francis S. Collins and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci intervened, arguing that emerging data on the treatment was too weak, according to two senior administration officials. The authorization is on hold for now as more data is reviewed, according to H. Clifford Lane, the clinical director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. An emergency approval could still be issued in the near future, he said. Donated by people who have survived the disease, antibody-rich plasma is considered safe. President Trump has hailed it as a “beautiful ingredient” in the veins of people who have survived Covid-19.
19th Aug 2020 - The New York Times

Brazil greenlights human trials for J&J's potential COVID-19 vaccine

Brazil approved on Tuesday human clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson, the fourth candidate to trial in the Latin American country that has become key to the global race for a vaccine. Health regulator Anvisa said it had given the green light to the study which will see 6,000 people in Brazil volunteer to trial the vaccine contender of Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen. With the world's biggest coronavirus outbreak outside the United States, Brazil has become a hub for mass clinical trials of potential vaccines. Brazilian officials have vowed to start producing British and Chinese vaccines within a year, but experts warn it may take at least twice as long.
18th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Sinopharm chief says COVID-19 vaccine will cost less than $145 for 2-dose regimen

The head of China’s state-owned Sinopharm has put forward a general price range for the group’s two inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidates now in late-stage development—and it's quite a bit higher than the amounts other shot makers have quoted so far. “An inactivated vaccine won’t be priced too high,” Sinopharm Chairman Liu Jingzhen told state media Guangming Daily (Chinese). “It’s expected to cost a couple hundred yuan for one shot, and it would be less than 1,000 yuan ($145) for two doses.” It’s not immediately clear what price Liu was referring to—the out-of-pocket cost or list price. And it’s not yet certain whether Beijing will help cover some of the costs for a pandemic vaccine developed by a state-run company.
18th Aug 2020 - FiercePharma


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 21st Aug 2020

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Why Some People Get Terribly Sick from COVID-19

You might have a sniffle and be done. You might run a fever with a cough and unshakable fatigue for five days—or 10. Or you might end up in a hospital, gasping air into congested lungs, an immunological storm raging in your body. And you might not make it through COVID-19 alive. What determines if someone gets desperately ill from the disease that is ripping its way across the planet? You are likely familiar with the broad categories of people who face greater risk: older individuals, men, those who have certain chronic conditions, and—notably in the U.S. and England—people of color. But researchers are looking deeper into these groups to determine the underlying roots, both biological and social, for their vulnerability. Investigators are relating age-related risk to the ways that the immune system changes over the years, for example, and examining male-female differences in immune responses. Some scientists are probing for genetic variations that might raise susceptibility. Others are highlighting the social, environmental and economic factors that elevate risk, including racism.
20th Aug 2020 - Scientific American

Russia's 'Sputnik V' COVID-19 vaccine to be tested on 40,000 people - TASS cites developer

Mass testing of Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine to get domestic regulatory approval will involve more than 40,000 people, the TASS news agency cited the vaccine’s developer as saying on Thursday. The vaccine, called “Sputnik V” in homage to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has been hailed as safe and effective by Russian authorities and scientists following two months of small-scale human trials, the results of which have not been made public yet.
20th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Almost 75% of hospital Covid-19 patients still suffer symptoms three months later, study claims

Almost three quarters of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital still suffer symptoms three months later, a study has claimed. Researchers found that 81 out of 110 patients had breathlessness, fatigue and muscle aches long after their battle with the disease. Many also struggled to carry out daily tasks such as washing, dressing or going back to work because of their 'long Covid', scientists claimed.
20th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Figures unveil impact COVID-19 has had on NHS

The impact of COVID-19 is still taking its toll on Britain’s health system with hospital routine treatment waiting lists backed up, NHS England figures have shown. In June, there was more than 1.85 million people having to wait more than 18 weeks for treatment number, the highest since records began. In addition, the number of people going to accident and emergency units and being referred to cancer specialist have fallen by 30 per cent when compared to the same time period last year. Worryingly, rates for breast cancer referrals have dropped by 43 per cent, with figures down from 14,885 in June 2019 to 8,495 in June 2020. Sara Bainbridge, head of policy and influence at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the figures “worryingly low” and suggest “an alarming backlog of undiagnosed cancer”.
20th Aug 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

Barts clinicians develop programme for long-lasting Covid-19 symptoms

A digital programme to treat the lasting symptoms of Covid-19 has been developed by clinicians from Barts Health in collaboration with UCL researchers and UCL Partners. A team led by Barts Health clinicians and UCL health researchers have developed a rehabilitation tool with app developers Living With that can be delivered completely remotely. The tool combines evidence-based methods from physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians and respiratory physicians to create bespoke treatment plans for each patient. It targets three primary on-going symptoms being reported – fatigue, anxiety and breathing problems. The tool is an additional aid that complements the existing rehab pathway and patients who do not have access to a smart device will continue to receive traditional printed rehab plans and follow-up. Dr Paul Pfeffer, respiratory physician at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Queen Mary University of London, said: “The proportion of people needing further help is really high. We’re finding that half of the patients we discharge from hospital, are still experiencing significant symptoms after three months.
20th Aug 2020 - Digital Health

Coronavirus: Robin Swann set to recommend new Covid-19 measures

The PSNI will focus enforcement action in so-called "hotspot areas" to curb the spread of coronavirus, Robin Swann has said. Stormont's health minister made the announcement as he outlined new restrictions in response to a rise in cases. From next week, indoor gatherings will drop from 10 to six people and outdoor meetings from 30 to 15. Fifty-one new cases were reported on Thursday, with NI's total now at 6,556. No further deaths have been recorded by the department, meaning its death toll remains at 559. Meanwhile, two medics who work in the Respiratory Emergency Department (ED) at Craigavon Area Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19.
20th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Concerns grow over Croatia's safe status as WHO warns Balkans is 'hotspot' | ITV News

There are growing concerns that Croatia is about to be added to the UK's quarantine list, with a government source suggesting to ITV News that the number of coronavirus cases there are rising. Government sources would not confirm or deny whether Croatia would be the next country added to the quarantine list, but when asked, one source said: "The numbers are all in public." Earlier the WHO warned the Balkan region is a "hotspot" for coronavirus. Political Correspondent Paul Brand said anyone planning to book a trip to Croatia should "standby".
20th Aug 2020 - ITV News

Europe can fight coronavirus without lockdowns - WHO

Europe can combat Covid-19 without full lockdowns now that authorities are better prepared and have gained knowledge about how to fight it in recent months, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. "With the basic nationwide and additional targeted measures, we are in a much better position to stamp out these localised virus flare-ups," the head of the WHO's European branch, Hans Kluge, told reporters. "We can manage the virus and keep the economy running and an education system in operation," he added. Europe has seen a steady rise in the number of cases for the past two months, he said. In the first week of August, 40,000 more cases were reported than in the first week of June when cases were at their lowest.
20th Aug 2020 - RTE.ie

Cases Rise in Europe Where Restrictions Eased

Worrying numbers of new coronavirus infections are being reported in Spain, France, Germany, and Italy - European nations that appeared to have brought the pandemic under control with recently eased restrictions. The Spanish Health Ministry said Wednesday that 3,715 new COVID-19 infections were reported over a 24-hour period, the highest number since the country emerged from its lockdown in late June, according to Reuters. Fourteen people died during that period, and 21 died in the 24-hour period before. Authorities are imposing restrictions on nightclubs and public transportation. The health ministry said the country is not seeing a second wave of cases and that the increase may be attributed to increased testing. In France, health officials reported 3,776 cases in the past 24 hours, France 24 reported.
20th Aug 2020 - WebMD

Melbourne University head says restrictions could do more harm than virus

The University of Melbourne's vice-chancellor says Australia's "lockdown mindset" in response to COVID-19 risks doing more damage than the virus itself, particularly to the lives of young people. Professor Duncan Maskell, an expert in infectious diseases and the head of Australia’s wealthiest university, said Australia had to move beyond the lockdown phase of its response or risk experiencing even greater loss of life from poverty and suicide. "At what point do the measures that we take to suppress the infectious disease rate actually start to do more damage than the disease itself?" Professor Maskell said. "I’m very concerned actually that if we carry on in this kind of lockdown mindset for too long, we will seriously damage young people's lives.
20th Aug 2020 - The Age

Coronavirus: Is elimination still the best strategy?

A variety of strategies were put into use around the world to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus– but just how effective they have been is now one of the biggest questions for scientists and politicians. New Zealand was trumpeted around the globe when it passed 100 days without any known spread within its borders, after following the elimination strategy. However, scientists warned further outbreaks were likely, despite lockdown and quarantine measures. As the pandemic continues to spread, and countries grapple with new outbreaks, people are questioning their governments’ responses.
20th Aug 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Turkey in talks with Germany, China, Russia on vaccine trials

Turkey is in talks with Russia, Germany and China about conducting Phase 3 trials for coronavirus vaccines developed in those countries, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday. Germany and China have applied to conduct the Phase 3 trials in Turkey and have presented pre-clinical trial results, while Ankara wants to see pre-clinical results from Russia before the trials, Koca said. Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, he said there were 13 vaccines being developed in Turkey, three of which have gone beyond the animal testing phase.
20th Aug 2020 - Reuters


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

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Coronavirus: Australia orders 25 million doses of Oxford University's potential COVID-19 vaccine

Australia has ordered 25 million doses of Oxford University's potential COVID-19 vaccine, the country's prime minister said. "Under the deal, every single Australian will be able to receive the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for free, should trials prove successful, safe and effective," Scott Morrison said on Wednesday. The vaccine, called AZD1222, is being developed by Britain's University of Oxford and is licensed to British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
19th Aug 2020 - Sky News

FDA approves affordable saliva-based COVID-19 test developed by Yale scientists

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new and affordable saliva-based test for COVID-19 developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health. The new method for processing samples when testing for the novel coronavirus is called SalivaDirect. “The SalivaDirect test for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 is yet another testing innovation game-changer that will reduce the demand for scarce testing resources,” said Assistant Secretary for Health and COVID-19 Testing Coordinator Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D., in a press release. 'I WILL NEVER FORGET': Houston ICU doc describes what it's like on COVID-19 frontlines
19th Aug 2020 - Houston Chronicle

We know too little about Covid-19 'long-haulers.' We need a comprehensive study

“Long-haulers” is no longer just a job description for truckers. This term now refers to the growing number of people who contracted Covid-19 and have continued to have symptoms for more than 100 days – even though tests reveal no virus left in the body. Covid-19 “long-haulers” continue to struggle with debilitating symptoms, often alone, in the shadows of this devastating disease. Having escaped the worst, they nevertheless continue to struggle. It feels like a betrayal. Symptoms reported include headaches, difficulty concentrating and extreme fatigue. In one survey of 1,500 people with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, conducted by a Facebook community of long-haulers, more than half reported debilitating symptoms for more than three months. A recent CDC report found that 35% of respondents who tested positive for Covid-19 and had symptoms didn’t feel like they were back to normal 2–3 weeks after testing. Although Covid-19 is considered most dangerous to the elderly or immunocompromised, the study noted that one in five respondents aged 18-34, without prior chronic medical conditions, said they hadn’t completely recovered. This is particularly concerning since much of the current spread of new cases in the US is in younger people.
19th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Northern Ireland pharma company Fusion Antibodies working on Covid-19 research sees 79% surge in revenues

A Northern Ireland pharma company which has started work on antibody research to treat Covid-19 has revealed a 79% jump in revenues to £3.9m. But Fusion Antibodies plc, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market, ultimately made a loss of £0.7m in the year to the end of March, it announced on Wednesday. However, the loss was down on the previous year’s £1.3m deficit. The listed company, based at Springbank Industrial Estate in Belfast, specialises in pre-clinical antibody discovery, engineering and supply. Company chairman Dr Simon Douglas said the loss was down to its strategy to invest for growth. Staff numbers have grown from 38 to 47.
19th Aug 2020 - Belfast Telegraph

Coronavirus and MIS-C: Inflammatory condition linked to Covid-19

An inflammatory condition that has affected children during the pandemic – resulting in painful rashes and fever – is linked to coronavirus infection, a peer-reviewed study claims. Researchers at King’s College London said multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) – which is different to Kawasaki disease – is connected to previous infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. Symptoms of MIS-C include a rash, fever and abdominal pain and scientists say that while adults are more likely to develop Covid-19 after being infected with SARS-CoV-2, children are more inclined to be struck with MIS-C. The inflammatory condition is a delayed immune response to the infection, researchers believe. More than 68% of children included the study tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.
19th Aug 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Coronavirus smell loss 'different from cold and flu'

The loss of smell that can accompany coronavirus is unique and different from that experienced by someone with a bad cold or flu, say European researchers who have studied the experiences of patients. When Covid-19 patients have smell loss it tends to be sudden and severe. And they usually don't have a blocked, stuffy or runny nose - most people with coronavirus can still breathe freely. Another thing that sets them apart is their "true" loss of taste. It's not that their taste is somewhat impaired because their sense of smell is out of action, say the researchers in the journal Rhinology. Coronavirus patients with loss of taste really cannot tell the difference between bitter or sweet.
19th Aug 2020 - BBC News

World Bank: Covid-19 pushes poorer nations 'from recession to depression'

The head of the World Bank has called for a more ambitious debt relief plan for poor countries after warning that the Covid-19 recession is turning into a depression in the most challenged parts of the globe. In an interview with the Guardian, David Malpass raised the prospect of the first systematic write-off of debts since the 2005 Gleneagles agreement as he said fresh Bank figures due out next month would show an extra 100 million people had been pushed into poverty by the crisis. Poor countries had been worse hit by the economic fallout from Covid-19, Malpass added, and a growing debt crisis meant it was necessary to go beyond the repayment holidays offered by rich countries earlier this year. “This is worse than the financial crisis of 2008 and for Latin America worse than the debt crisis of the 1980s,” the World Bank president said.
19th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 world map: which countries have the most coronavirus cases and deaths?

Since first being recorded late last year in China, the Covid-19 coronavirus has spread around the world, and been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. However, differences in testing mean that the number of cases may be understated for some countries. Obviously, larger countries tend to have higher numbers both of cases and of deaths. But there are many other factors in play, such as the demographic profiles of the countries; countries with ageing populations may be hit harder because the disease is more dangerous to older people.
19th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus vaccine: Australia secures access to Oxford-AstraZeneca trial

Australia says it has secured access to a promising coronavirus vaccine and will be able to offer free doses to its entire population of 25 million people. The vaccine is being developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University. If clinical trials are successful, the deal with AstraZeneca would secure "early access for every Australian", Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. Mr Morrison said it was likely that vaccinations would be mandatory. Australia has recorded 450 coronavirus deaths, most from an outbreak in the state of Victoria. Earlier this month, Victoria declared a state of disaster and imposed strict lockdown measures after a surge in infections. It still has more than 7,000 active cases, but the number of new infections has declined in the past week.
19th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Australia secures deal for potential Covid-19 vaccine, will provide it free to all citizens

Australia has secured a deal with the drugmaker AstraZeneca to supply a potential Covid-19 vaccine to its entire population free of charge, the government announced Tuesday, becoming the latest country to lock in supplies of the drug should trials succeed. British-based AstraZeneca is developing the vaccine in partnership with Oxford University, with advanced trials now underway with thousands of volunteers across multiple countries. Under the deal, the Australian government would manufacture the vaccine and offer free doses to all citizens. "The Oxford vaccine is one of the most advanced and promising in the world, and under this deal we have secured early access for every Australian," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a statement released late Tuesday local time. "If this vaccine proves successful we will manufacture and supply vaccines straight away under our own steam and make it free for 25 million Australians."
19th Aug 2020 - CNN


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

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Wearing a mask helps stop Covid-19 spreading, study confirms

Wearing a face covering lowers the risk of spreading Covid-19 to others through speaking and coughing, new research suggests. Speaking and coughing without face protection exposes people nearby to droplets carrying the virus that could otherwise be stopped by wearing a mask, according to the study. Researchers found someone standing two metres from a coughing person with no mask is exposed to 10,000 times more droplets than someone half a metre from someone coughing and wearing a covering. Lead researcher Dr Ignazio Maria Viola, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, said: ‘We knew face masks of various materials are effective to a different extent in filtering small droplets.
18th Aug 2020 - Metro.co.uk

The Covid-19 Pandemic Is Now Being Driven By These Age Groups

The Covid-19 pandemic is now being driven by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. Speaking at a virtual briefing, WHO’s Western Pacific regional director, Takeshi Kasai, said: “The epidemic is changing. People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread. Many are unaware they are infected.” As more cases rise among people in their 20s to 40s, “this increases the risk of spillovers to the more vulnerable,” said Kasai. This includes elderly relatives and those with underlying health conditions.
18th Aug 2020 - HuffPost UK

Perthshire Covid-19 cases will put scientific case for reopening schools under extra scrutiny

A headteachers group leader says Covid-19 cases in two Perthshire schools must be closely monitored to ensure the scientific justification for reopening schools was correct. Greg Dempster, general secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, said any transmission within schools should lead to reconsideration of the basis for reopening full-time. Two pupils, one at Oakbank Primary School, in Perth, and another at Newhill Primary School, Blairgowrie, have tested positive for coronavirus and are isolating at home with their families. Perth and Kinross Council and NHS Tayside have said there is currently no evidence of Covid-19 transmission within either of the Perthshire schools, which remain open.
18th Aug 2020 - The Courier

COVID-19 linked to increase in type 1 diabetes in children

A new study suggests there could be a link between COVID-19 and the development of type 1 diabetes in children. Thirty children in hospitals across north-west London presented with new-onset type 1 diabetes during the peak of the pandemic, approximately double the number of cases typically seen in this period in previous years, with clusters of cases in two of these hospitals. Twenty-one children were tested for COVID-19 or had antibody tests to see whether they had previously been exposed to the virus. A total of five children with newly diagnosed diabetes had evidence of past or current coronavirus infection.
18th Aug 2020 - Imperial College London

COVID-19 - England's lockdown vs. Sweden's herd immunity

With the declaration that COVID-19 was a pandemic disease, countries all over the world began to appraise possible approaches to mitigate its severity. One is imposing a national lockdown, while another is allowing herd immunity to build. A recent study published on the preprint server medRxiv* in August 2020 shows that lockdown is an effective way to reduce the extent and speed of infections in a country.
18th Aug 2020 - News-Medical.Net

Female-led countries handled coronavirus better, study suggests

Countries led by women had “systematically and significantly better” Covid-19 outcomes, research appears to show, locking down earlier and suffering half as many deaths on average as those led by men. The relative early success of leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen and Finland’s Sanna Marin has so far attracted many headlines but little academic attention. The analysis of 194 countries, published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum, suggests the difference is real and “may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses” adopted by female leaders.
18th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: How many Covid-19 deaths is India missing?

India has registered more than 50,000 Covid-19 deaths, overtaking the UK to become the fourth-worst-affected country for fatalities. But the number of deaths per million people stands at 34 - far lower than what has been reported in Europe or North America. The case fatality rate or CFR, which measures deaths among Covid-19 patients, is just around 2%. Even in badly-hit state like Maharashtra the number of deaths is doubling only in about 40 days. "The death rates have kept low all along, even as cases rose," K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India think tank, told me. Many epidemiologists attribute this relatively low fatality rate to a young population - the elderly are typically more vulnerable. It is not clear whether other factors, such as immunity deriving from previous infections from other coronaviruses, are also responsible. Also, they point to a pattern of low mortality in South Asian countries that share a similar demographic of a younger population: reported Covid-19 deaths per million are 22 in Bangladesh and 28 in Pakistan.
18th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Resurgence of covid-19 in Japan

Japan has seen a resurgence of covid-19, and the effective reproduction number has been above 1 for two months. The daily confirmed cases reached nearly 2000 in early August.1. Since the start of the pandemic the country has focused on controlling clusters of more than five covid-19 cases and preventing environmental transmission in the “3Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings.2 Initially, early detection of clusters and investigation of linkages between clusters helped reduce the spread of infection. But it couldn’t prevent the surge in incidence that began around mid-March. The declaration of a state of emergency in April helped control the pandemic’s trajectory,3 although the measures lacked legal authority and depended on citizens’ self-restraint. The state of emergency was lifted in late May. Failings in the government’s early handling of the crisis have exacerbated the pandemic’s overall effect and resulted in 8.22 covid-19 deaths per million people: the third highest rate in the Western Pacific region after Philippines and Australia.1
18th Aug 2020 - The BMJ

COVID-19 danger may rise in dry weather, 'provocative' study shows

During Sydney's COVID-19 surge in March and April, something curious happened. On days when the air was dry, more people seemed to catch the virus. When the city's air was more humid, fewer people caught it. That's no coincidence, the authors of a new study say. Dry air increases the coronavirus' ability to spread, they argue.
18th Aug 2020 - Sydney Morning Herald

Australia could be 'split in two' if Victoria and New South Wales follow the suppression strategy

Australia could be a country "split in two" if both Victoria and New South Wales commit to suppressing its coronavirus infections during the pandemic, while the rest of the nation thrives on elimination. Tony Blakely, a Professorial Fellow in Epidemiology at the University of Melbourne, told 9news.com.au the country could be divided, considering state leaders have articulated borders would remain closed to both New South Wales and Victoria until community transmission is wiped out completely. The Queensland government has been particularly vocal about its keeping borders tightly closed to the two states until community transmission is eliminated.
18th Aug 2020 - 9News

New hyper-infectious coronavirus strain may be 'a good thing', says disease expert

A strain of the novel coronavirus spreading across large parts of the globe may be ten times more infectious but less deadly, a top disease expert has said. President-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, Paul Tambyah, has said evidence suggests the proliferation of the D614G mutation in some parts of the world has coincided with a drop in death rates. He said this could mean the new strain, increasingly found in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, is less lethal.
18th Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

Sweden's Covid-19 strategist under fire over herd immunity emails

Sweden’s light-touch approach to Covid-19 has come under renewed criticism after emails show the country’s chief epidemiologist appearing to ask whether a higher death rate among older people might be acceptable if it led to faster herd immunity. Speculation about the views of Sweden’s leading public health officials was further fanned after it also emerged that Anders Tegnell, the architect of the country’s no-lockdown strategy, had deleted some of his emails. Tegnell has repeatedly insisted the government’s objective was not to achieve rapid herd immunity but rather to slow the spread of the coronavirus enough for health services to be able to cope. However, email exchanges obtained by Swedish journalists under freedom of information laws show Tegnell discussing herd immunity as an objective in mid-March, days after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
17th Aug 2020 - The Guardian


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

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Masks 'tremendously effective' at curbing Covid-19 spread

Wearing a face mask significantly cuts the risk of spreading Covid-19 through speaking and coughing, research suggests. A new study by scientists at the University of Edinburgh has found face coverings can block out 99.9 per cent of potentially lethal droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or talks. The findings show that a person is exposed to 10,000 times more particles from a person who coughs with their face uncovered while standing two metres away than from someone half a metre away who is wearing a mask.
17th Aug 2020 - The Scotsman

How long does Covid-19 immunity last after infection? It’s bad news

As work on a vaccine continues, many are wondering how long immunity lasts for those who have already contracted the coronavirus. Scientists haven’t been able to provide a definitive answer as the coronavirus hasn’t been around long enough to tell.
17th Aug 2020 - Metro

The great gamble of COVID-19 vaccine development

My prediction is that vaccines indeed will become a reality, as in Russia, but they will be hurried to market only to be partially effective and the uptake and population benefit will remain uncertain given all the issues discussed. In the meantime, many doctors on the front lines and in clinics continue to press regulators for unrestricted use of any and all available medications to treat COVID-19 patients at home. Every day of vaccine development means more hospitalizations and deaths. Caregivers, unlike government officials and biotechnology executives, are terrible gamblers. They are trained to take calculated risks and prescribe drugs they know have a basis to work early with COVID-19. Vaccine stakeholders, including government agencies, should not hold up treatment now in the gamble for a future panacea - even if it comes at "warp speed."
17th Aug 2020 - The Hill on MSN.com

Scientists See Signs of Lasting Immunity to Covid-19, Even After Mild Infections

To the immune system, not all germs are equally memorable. But our body’s cells seem to be seriously studying up on the coronavirus. Scientists who have been monitoring immune responses to the virus are now starting to see encouraging signs of strong, lasting immunity, even in people who developed only mild symptoms of Covid-19, a flurry of new studies suggests. Disease-fighting antibodies, as well as immune cells called B cells and T cells that are capable of recognizing the virus, appear to persist months after infections have resolved — an encouraging echo of the body’s enduring response to other viruses. “Things are really working as they’re supposed to,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona and an author on one of the new studies, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.
17th Aug 2020 - The New York Times

Poor housing linked to high Covid-19 death rate in London borough

Appalling housing conditions and crippling rents in one of the UK’s poorest boroughs helped turn it into a hotspot of Covid-19 deaths, according to a poverty inquiry that examined links between local inequalities and the pandemic. The Brent Poverty Commission, which had been running for two months when Covid-19 struck, said chronic overcrowding and widespread poverty in the north-west London borough had created ideal conditions for the virus to thrive. Latest figures show Brent has the worst death rate of any local authority in England and Wales per 100,000 population, with 490 deaths to the end of July, including 36 deaths alone in one of its most deprived neighbourhoods, Church End. The chair of the commission, Lord Best, said there was a clear link between coronavirus deaths and poverty, inequality and poor housing. “It’s definitely the case that those people who have had Covid-19 and died of it come from the poorest areas, the most deprived estates and parts of the borough. That’s just a fact.”
17th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

COVID-19 recession is having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable

The report What can previous recessions tell us about the Covid-19 downturn? published today (17 August 2020) by LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), shows that these groups are more likely to have lost their jobs, not be working any hours or had their pay cut in the current crisis. And the report authors - Brian Bell, Mihai Codreanu and CEP director Stephen Machin – warn that because the current crisis is generating the largest economic shock to the UK since at least the 1980s there is scope for long-term scars to cut even deeper than in the past. The authors have created a comprehensive measure using information on people with jobs who report working no hours to assess a “realistic” employment rate. They also compare the current pandemic-induced downturn with the three previous recessions - those of the early 1980s, the early 1990s and following the global financial crisis in the 2000s. They find that in all these episodes particular vulnerable groups of people were affected. But this recession has distinctive features with some groups being hit especially hard.
17th Aug 2020 - The London School of Economics and Political Science

India coronavirus deaths hit 50,000

India's official coronavirus death toll soared past 50,000 on Monday as the pandemic rages through smaller cities and rural areas where health care is feeble and stigmatisation rife. Many experts say the real numbers may be far higher due to low testing rates and because deaths are often not properly recorded in the vast and impoverished nation of 1.3 billion people. India last week overtook Britain with the world's fourth-highest number of fatalities, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico, and as of Monday had recorded 50,921 deaths, according to the health ministry.
17th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

Coronavirus: Vietnam’s outbreak sparks interest in Russian vaccine

It was one of the world’s most remarkable pandemic success stories, managing to suppress the virus and avoid a single coronavirus death — despite sharing a long border with China. But after 100 days of seemingly having outwitted COVID-19, Vietnam has hit a major setback with a deadly surge in cases that’s left scientists baffled. And so shaken is Vietnam by its mysterious outbreak, it appears to be considering a bulk order of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine despite worldwide scepticism of its safety and effectiveness.
17th Aug 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Australia's Health Minister Believes A Covid-19 Vaccine Will Be Available In 2021

For months now, the world’s top scientists and laboratories across the world have been focused on one goal: the eradication of coronavirus. While countries across the globe have sought to enforce their own restrictions to flatten the curve, introducing widespread lockdowns and social distancing rules, inevitably the coronavirus remains waiting for us on the other side. And as those of us in Victoria have witnessed firsthand, the easing of restrictions was quick to see the number of coronavirus cases skyrocket. As many health officials have noted, the return to normal won’t happen until a vaccine has been developed and made accessible. With dozens of health organisations and companies all scrambling to find a way to immunise the wider population against Covid-19, Australia’s Health Minister, Greg Hunt, says he’s optimistic a vaccine will be ready by 2021.
17th Aug 2020 - GQ Australia


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

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Malaysia Detects Coronavirus Strain That’s 10 Times More Infectious

Malaysia has detected a strain of the new coronavirus that’s been found to be 10 times more infectious. The mutation called D614G was found in at least three of the 45 cases in a cluster that started from a restaurant owner returning from India and breaching his 14-day home quarantine. The man has since been sentenced to five months in prison and fined. The strain was also found in another cluster involving people returning from the Philippines.
17th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus: Health Secretary to replace Public Health England with specialist pandemic unit, says report

Public Health England (PHE) is set to be scrapped and replaced with a unit that will specifically deal with pandemics, it has been reported. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is set to announce the move later this week, and will merge the NHS Test and Trace scheme with the work done by PHE on the coronavirus response, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The overhaul comes after repeated reports that ministers have been frustrated and unhappy with the way PHE, which was created by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2013, has dealt with the coronavirus crisis.
16th Aug 2020 - Sky News

U.S. was ‘unprepared’ for ‘greatest public health crisis’ in a century, CDC director says

In recently updated guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that people who have recovered from the coronavirus do not need to quarantine or seek testing for three months after they have recuperated. The new recommendation, last updated Aug. 3, cautions that those who were previously infected should still socially distance and wear masks but says they don’t need to quarantine or be tested unless they develop symptoms.
16th Aug 2020 - The Washington Post

Vietnam to buy Russian COVID-19 vaccine

Vietnam has registered to buy a Russian COVID-19 vaccine, state television reported on Friday, as it fights a new outbreak after going several months with no local cases. Russia said on Wednesday it would roll out the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks, rejecting the concerns of experts who said it should not have been approved before completing large-scale trials. “In the meantime, Vietnam will still continue developing the country’s own COVID-19 vaccine,” state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) said, citing the Ministry of Health. Vietnam has signed up for 50 million-150 million doses of the vaccine, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Some will be a “donation” from Russia, Tuoi Tre said, with Vietnam paying for the rest.
16th Aug 2020 - Reuters

COVID-19 lockdown on sexual and reproductive health in Australia

Nearly a third of participants reported difficulties accessing their usual feminine hygiene products during the lockdown in Australia. Participants reported delaying childbearing or deciding to remain childfree due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring continued access to sexual and reproductive health services and products for all who require them during global emergencies is essential.
16th Aug 2020 - News-Medical.Net

Yale's rapid COVID-19 saliva test receives FDA emergency use authorization

A saliva-based laboratory diagnostic test developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health to determine whether someone is infected with the novel coronavirus has been granted an emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The method, called SalivaDirect, is being further validated as a test for asymptomatic individuals through a program that tests players and staff from the National Basketball Association (NBA). SalivaDirect is simpler, less expensive, and less invasive than the traditional method for such testing, known as nasopharyngeal (NP) swabbing. Results so far have found that SalivaDirect is highly sensitive and yields similar outcomes as NP swabbing.
15th Aug 2020 - Yale News

Best COVID-19 vaccine 'may not be the first' | Imperial News

In a week in which Russia approved its 'Sputnik V' coronavirus vaccine, a leading Imperial expert sounds a note of caution on the need for data. In the search for a vaccine against the coronavirus, our focus should be on the best vaccine, not just the first to become available, says Imperial’s Professor Robin Shattock. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week, Professor Shattock, said: “Everybody is very obsessed about the ‘first’ vaccine, but the first may not be the best. What we need is a vaccine that works extremely well and is widely available.”
14th Aug 2020 - Imperial College London

Meningoencephalitis outbreak sparks fear in Andalusia: ‘This is like the plagues of Egypt’

The West Nile virus, which is transmitted via mosquito bites, has led to an outbreak of viral meningoencephalitis in Seville, in Spain’s southern Andalusia region. A total of 19 people have caught the infection, which is a condition that simultaneously resembles meningitis and encephalitis. Of this number, 17 have been admitted into hospital and seven into intensive care. There are no vaccines or drugs to treat the hospitalized patients.
14th Aug 2020 - EL PAÍS in English

Covid-19: Impact of long term symptoms will be profound, warns BMA

A third of doctors have treated patients with long term covid-19 symptoms, including chronic fatigue and anosmia, a survey conducted by the BMA has found. Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee for England, said it was clear that the long term impact of covid-19 on patients and the NHS would be profound. An online survey of doctors conducted by the association between 6 and 12 August received 4279 responses.1 Of the 3729 doctors who answered a question about patients’ symptoms, around a third (1092) said that they had seen or treated patients with symptoms they believed to be a long term effect of the patient having had covid-19. The symptoms reported included chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of sense of smell, and concentration difficulties. “With more patients presenting with conditions as the result of infection, it’s essential that sufficient capacity is in place to support and treat them,” Vautrey said. “With the growing backlog of non-covid-19 treatment, the likelihood of a season flu outbreak, and the possibility of a second wave of infections we need to see a more comprehensive long term plan to enable doctors to care for their patients this winter and beyond.” The survey also asked doctors about their own experiences of covid-19. Of the 4120 who responded to the question, 63% said they did not believe they had contracted the virus, 12% had had a diagnosis of covid-19 confirmed by testing, and 14% believed they had been infected with the virus.
13th Aug 2020 - The BMJ

COVID-19 WRAP | US recruits scientists from South Africa for Covid-19 vaccine trials

US recruits scientists from South Africa and Latin America for Covid-19 vaccine trials, pledges access to supply. The Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine project is recruiting scientists in South Africa and Latin America to help test possible vaccines in US- backed clinical trials, pledging to ease their countries’ access to any successful products, Reuters has learned. Moncef Slaoui, a former pharmaceutical executive who heads Operation Warp Speed, a multi-billion dollar US collaboration between the federal government and drugmakers, made the commitment to international scientists late last month, two people familiar with the matter said.
13th Aug 2020 - Times LIVE


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 14th Aug 2020

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Spain's Canary Islands curb smoking amid COVID-19 worries

The Canary Islands became Spain’s second region to all but ban smoking in the streets on Thursday as part of measures to stop a resurgence of coronavirus infections, and other regions considered a similar ban. Smoking will be banned when people cannot maintain a 2-metre (6.5-foot) distance between each other on the islands, which are popular with tourists. Authorities also imposed new restrictions including the use of masks in public at all times, a limit of 10 people in gatherings and restrictions on nightclub capacity. “The last few days point to an increase in positive cases ... We will increase checks to make sure people follow the rules because otherwise it will be our health and economy paying the price,” regional leader Angel Victor Torres said.
14th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

EXCLUSIVE: What are risks of rushing a COVID-19 vaccine? Former FDA chief scientist talks transparency, safety

ABC7 spoke exclusively with the Food and Drug Administration's former Chief Scientist, Dr. Jesse Goodman, to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of the process. "One thing I always say is expect the unexpected. When you're starting something new in vaccine development. Things occur," said Dr. Goodman, an infectious disease physician and professor at Georgetown University. Goodman led the FDA's response to the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009. "This is a bigger challenge than we had in 2009 because we could build on proven vaccines," Goodman said. "We had pretty high confidence in manufacturing quality and in their safety and performance." To put in perspective, it took eight years for an effective Ebola vaccine. It took six months for a safe H1N1 vaccine -- made possible with decades of prior research on influenza.
13th Aug 2020 - ABC7 San Francisco

Israel develops fast saliva test for COVID-19

Israel's largest hospital says it has developed a coronavirus test which takes less than a second to deliver a result. Patients rinse their mouth with saline wash and spit into a vial. It is then examined by a device which shines light and analyses the reaction of the sample. An algorithm then determines whether the reaction is consistent with COVID-19. The team at the Sheba Medical Centre, near Tel Aviv, said hundreds of patients were tested in an initial clinical trial. And the new technique had a 95 per cent success rate. Eli Schwartz is from the Centre for Geographic Medicine and Tropical Diseases at the center.
13th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Russia's top doctor quits over 'gross violations' of ethics that rushed through Covid-19 'vaccine'

Professor Alexander Chucalin resigned from the health ministry's ethics council It appears Chucalin sought and failed to block its registration on 'safety' grounds He accused two leading medics involved in the drug of flouting medical ethics
13th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Novavax ties up with SK bioscience to boost supply of potential COVID-19 vaccine

Novavax Inc said on Thursday South Korea’s SK bioscience would manufacture a component of the U.S. drug developer’s experimental coronavirus vaccine in a bid to boost its supply. Shares of Maryland-based Novavax rose nearly 7% in morning trade. Novavax has received $2 billion in funding so far for its coronavirus vaccine, including $384 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). As part of that deal, Novavax has committed to supply its vaccine to COVAX, a scheme that aims to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the globe. The deal with SK bioscience would help it increase the supply to meet those commitments, Novavax said.
13th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Philippines to begin Russian Covid-19 vaccine trials in October

The Philippines has said it will launch clinical trials of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine after the country endorsed the contentious jab, as President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to be one of the first injected with it. Mr Duterte’s spokesman said on Thursday that trials would begin in October and, if they were successful, the Sputnik V vaccine would be registered for public use by April 2021. The president would be administered with the vaccine by May 1 at the earliest, said spokesman Harry Roque, confirming the Philippine leader’s vow earlier this week that he would be “the first to be injected on.” “It’s not a metaphorical statement,” said Mr Roque in an online briefing with journalists. “He is willing to undergo it.”
13th Aug 2020 - The Financial Times

Coronavirus: Antibody study gives 'clearest insight yet' into number of people who've had COVID-19 in England

More than three million people in England have already been infected with coronavirus, a new study suggests. A major testing programme, led by Imperial College London, found that just under 6% of England's population - an estimated 3.4 million people - had antibodies to COVID-19 and were likely to have previously had the virus prior to the end of June. This is more than 12 times the number of cases shown by the government's official figures, which state a total of 270,971 people in England had a positive coronavirus test confirmed by a laboratory as of 4pm on Wednesday.
13th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Andrew Lloyd Webber announces he'll take experimental COVID-19 vaccine

Acclaimed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, like many in the entertainment industry, is looking forward to the day when theaters can reopen safely. He has made it known that he will do anything to save live theater. The Tony winner announced Wednesday he's volunteered to help in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Webber, 72, will officially join the vaccine trial helmed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca on Thursday, which has reportedly shown promising results.
13th Aug 2020 - ABC News

COVID-19 is fuelling a resurgence of AIDS, malaria and TB

More than three months of lockdowns have prevented many people from accessing treatments for non-COVID infectious diseases; at the same time, new cases of these illnesses will have gone undetected. Although lockdowns are easing, it will take some time for health care to get back to normal, as authorities continue to prioritize COVID-19. Taken together, this is resulting in a surge of cases. That’s why there needs to be a step change in funding for AIDS, malaria and TB prevention, treatment and research, and greater public awareness of the rising threat posed by infectious diseases. And researchers — particularly epidemiologists — must continue to refine the models that are alerting the world to this approaching catastrophe.
13th Aug 2020 - Nature.com

Coronavirus: Vaping teens and young adults up to seven times more likely to contract COVID-19, study finds

Teenagers and young adults who vape may be up to seven times more likely to catch coronavirus, a study has found. Researchers, who surveyed 4,351 Americans aged 13-24 years in May, found those who had used both e-cigarettes and cigarettes were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Those who had used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days were 4.7 times more likely to experience symptoms of the illness compared with those who never smoked or vaped. Among people tested for coronavirus, those who used just e-cigarettes were five times more likely to test positive for the disease.
13th Aug 2020 - Sky News

Coronavirus UK: Covid-19 was 'widespread' across UK in January

The coronavirus outbreak appears to have been ‘widely dispersed’ across the UK earlier than previously thought, one of the scientists leading a study into the prevalence of the virus has claimed. Helen Ward, from Imperial College London, said Covid-19 was ‘spread out’ across the country in January and February – despite officials only catching the first case in late January. Speaking on BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning, the British physician said: ‘What was interesting (about the study) is that we can tell from people who reported not only having a positive test, but we also asked about their symptoms so we can actually track for most people – the 70% of people who reported symptoms – when they think they were infected.
13th Aug 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Covid-19: New trial for England's revamped NHS contact-tracing app

England’s new look NHS contact-tracing app is set to begin public trials today, after months of setbacks. The app will be based on Apple and Google’s decentralised model. NHSX has been working with the tech giants to develop a new version of the app after abandoning its original model in June. Both versions of the app used Bluetooth to track time and distance between smartphone devices, but Apple and Google’s version was hailed as more privacy-centric as it only sends alerts between devices when Covid-19 is detected, rather than large quantities of data being stored on a central database. The trial, beginning on August 13, will again involve the Isle of Wight as well as NHS volunteer respondents in the UK. Then from next week, residents in the London borough of Newham will start trialing the app.
13th Aug 2020 - Digital Health

COVID panel expert says local lockdowns may be needed

Agostino Miozzo, the coordinator of the CTS panel of experts advising the government on the coronavirus emergency, on Thursday warned that local lockdowns "may become inevitable if the situation gets out of hand". Italy has seen an increase in COVID-19 contagion in recent weeks, with the number of new cases registered each day going from around 200-300 to 400-500. Miozzo said the danger exists because "there is always a party to dance at, a barbecue to have or a funeral to hold". "400 cases a day are neither many nor few," he added. "It tells us that the virus is here and it is present all over the country. "We still have a manageable situation. But it is a precarious situation and the quantum leap can be very fast and that is the real risk". He also said that Italy's night clubs and discos "must stay closed". "Mass gatherings are devastating, impossible to manage" he said. Miozzo also stressed, on the other hand, that another national lockdown was "decidedly improbable".
13th Aug 2020 - Agenzia ANSA

Local lockdowns can be successful—here's what we need to make them work

Since then, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases following the lowest recorded estimate in June, as well as spikes in transmission in certain areas. In response, rather than locking down the whole country again, the government has brought in local lockdowns in affected areas.
13th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

Russia's fast-track vaccine is a lesson in ethics, human exploitation

Russia recently announced that it has developed an effective vaccine against the COVID-19 virus despite less than two months of testing on humans. A billion doses of the evocatively Cold War-named Sputnik V, Russian officials claim, will be available worldwide by early 2021 at the latest. Given that safe and successful vaccines are often a decade in the making, what did the Russians do to score this victory? Simple, they truncated and skipped the usual trials that preface the release of any new pharmaceutical, and that help ensures its safety.
13th Aug 2020 - The Hill on MSN.com

Russia rejects coronavirus vaccine criticism; UK now in recession

Russia has rebuffed international criticism and skepticism surrounding its coronavirus vaccine, saying that it’s safe and that it works. Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko reportedly said Wednesday that allegations that the vaccine was unsafe were groundless and driven by competition, while Kirill Dmitriev, the chief executive of Russia’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF, which is backing the vaccine, said U.S. criticism of the vaccine showed bias.
13th Aug 2020 - CNBC

Covid-19 lockdown means 115 million Indian children risk malnutrition

A staggering 115 million children in India are at risk of malnutrition, as the world’s largest school lunch programme has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. When India went under a strict lockdown on 24 March to reduce the spread of the virus, 12-year-old Kavi’s life changed. His mother, a roadside tailor, was no longer able to work and his father doesn’t have a job due to health problems. With schools closed, Kavi began selling fruit and vegetables from a sparsely stocked cart. The cart is now their primary source of income, but isn’t enough for a family of four. “Some days, we just eat rice or chapati with salt,” says Kavi. Before lockdown, Kavi was guaranteed a nutritious meal of rice, lentils and vegetables under India’s state-run school lunch programme. As many as 115 million children between the ages of 6 and 14 were dependent on these school lunches for their daily dietary requirements, which aimed to address India’s chronic malnutrition problem. Of the 1 million deaths of children under 5 in India in 2017, around 700,000 were attributed to malnutrition.
13th Aug 2020 - New Scientist News

Instead of lockdowns, teach people how to socialize safely

In response to the rising Covid-19 death toll and case counts in the U.S., calls for a national lockdown have been escalating. In an open letter to America’s decision-makers, more than 150 medical professionals urge them to “shut it down now, and start over.” In the letter, they argue that people should “stay home, going out only to get food and medicine or to exercise and get fresh air.” I empathize with the urgency in their plea for people to stay home. I felt helpless watching patient after patient die from Covid-19 while working in a New York hospital in April. In the Northern California Covid-19 clinic I work in, I continue to see patients infected with and harmed by the virus. I, too, am desperate for this pandemic to end.
13th Aug 2020 - STAT News

Using the COVID-19 to influenza ratio to estimate early pandemic spread in Wuhan, China and Seattle, US

In Wuhan, there were an estimated 1386 [95% CrI: 420-3793] symptomatic cases over 30 of COVID-19 between December 30, 2019 and January 12, 2020. In Seattle, we estimate that 2268 [95% CrI: 498, 6069] children under 18 and 4367 [95% CrI: 2776, 6526] adults were symptomatically infected between February 24 and March 9, 2020. We also find that the initial pandemic wave in Wuhan likely originated with a single infected case who developed symptoms sometime between October 26 and December 13, 2019; in Seattle, the seeding likely occurred between December 25, 2019 and January 15, 2020. The spread of COVID-19 in Wuhan and Seattle was far more extensive than initially reported. The virus likely spread for months in Wuhan before the lockdown. Given that COVID-19 appears to be overwhelmingly mild in children, our high estimate for symptomatic pediatric cases in Seattle suggests that there may have been thousands more mild cases at the time.
13th Aug 2020 - The Lancet

Covid-19 lockdown extension likely - disease modelling expert

As health officials race to track the the origins of the community outbreak of Covid-19 as the cluster hits 17 cases, disease modeller Shaun Hendy says a lockdown extension is likely. Since four members of the same Auckland family tested positive, a student at Mount Albert Grammar is confirmed to have the coronavirus, as well as three workers from a cool store, a finance company worker and one of their family members. There are also seven family members of already infected people. The Director General of Health says all the new positive cases will be moved to managed quarantine facilities. And all staff working at the borders, including our ports and managed isolation facilities are in the process of being tested. Prior to this latest outbreak, physics professor and disease modeller Shaun Hendy was calling for all those front line workers to be routinely tested once a week. "Everything is still linked to the cold store facility, and that's good news in some ways, because we haven't seen other clusters out there in the community.
13th Aug 2020 - RNZ

EU wraps up talks with Johnson & Johnson to buy potential COVID-19 vaccine

The European Commission said on Thursday it had concluded preliminary talks with U.S. pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson for an advance purchase deal of a potential COVID-19 vaccine the company is developing. The EU executive arm said this could pave the way for the signing of a contract that would allow EU countries to buy the vaccines or donate to developing countries.
13th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

People should not fear spread of COVID-19 in food, packaging: WHO

The World Health Organization said on Thursday it saw no evidence of coronavirus being spread by food or packaging and urged people not to be afraid of the virus entering the food chain. Two cities in China said they had found traces of the coronavirus in imported frozen chicken wings from Brazil and on outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp, raising fears that contaminated food shipments might cause a new outbreak. “People should not fear food, or food packaging or processing or delivery of food,” WHO head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan told a briefing in Geneva. “There is no evidence that food or the food chain is participating in transmission of this virus. And people should feel comfortable and safe.” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said China had tested hundreds of thousands of packages and “found very, very few, less than 10” proving positive for the virus.
13th Aug 2020 - Reuters

AstraZeneca set to start making 400 million COVID-19 vaccines for Latam early in 2021

Production of 400 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for Latin America could begin early next year, an executive for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) said on Thursday, as the region’s coronavirus death toll stands at nearly 230,000. In partnership with the Mexican and Argentinean governments, AstraZeneca plans to initially produce 150 million doses, and eventually make at least 400 million for distribution throughout the region, said Sylvia Varela, head of AstraZeneca Mexico. Home to some 650 million people, Latin America has registered the world’s highest tallies for coronavirus cases and deaths, with Brazil and Mexico trailing only the United States in record numbers of fatalities. “We’ll be prioritizing the vulnerable populations,” Varela said at the Mexican president’s daily news conference, noting that the pricing, while still not final, was not expected to exceed $4 per dose. That could bring the cost of the first 150 million doses to $600 million.
13th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Seven African countries to start testing for COVID-19 antibodies

Seven African countries will start administering coronavirus antibody tests from next week, a regional body said on Thursday, as part of efforts to understand the extent of the outbreak on the continent. "Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco are the first set of countries that committed to it," said John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Addis Ababa. Western governments are using antibody tests to find out how many of their citizens have been infected, in the hope that will help them reopen their economies.
13th Aug 2020 - Jakarta Post

Serum Institute of India Is Ready to Produce a Coronavirus Vaccine

As chief executive officer of the Serum Institute of India, the largest manufacturer of vaccines in the world, Adar Poonawalla can produce about 1.5 billion doses a year of almost any inoculation. He has machines that fill 500 glass vials every minute, and gleaming steel bioreactors almost two stories high that can make more than 10 million shots a month. He can claim, credibly, that he helps inoculate 65% of the world’s children, in more than 100 countries, against diseases such as measles and tuberculosis. And deep inside Serum’s lushly landscaped, 50-acre campus, about three hours inland from Mumbai, he’s already brewing the raw materials to make one of the leading experimental vaccines for the novel coronavirus at a scale that could make a serious difference to ending the pandemic.
13th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg


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

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Why we fear the reopening of schools will create a second wave of Covid-19 infections

We also now have a clearer idea of how Covid-19 affects young people. The first major study to address this – ­involving 82 paediatric centres in 25 European countries, and published in the Lancet in late June – found that more than half with proven Covid-19 display standard cold symptoms. Only a quarter have a cough, and at least a third have no fever at all. This study involved only the sickest children, most of whom had been referred to ­hospital. The picture among paediatric cases in the wider community is even more nebulous.
12th Aug 2020 - New Statesman

Vaping linked to risk of COVID-19 in teens, young adults

Vaping may be associated with a five to seven times increased risk of COVID-19 among U.S. teenagers and young adults, a study published on Tuesday suggests. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine analyzed nationally representative survey data collected in May from 4,351 participants aged 13–24 years. The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. “Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” study leader Shivani Mathur Gaiha said in a press statement. Participants were asked if they had ever used vaping devices or combustible cigarettes, whether they had vaped or smoked in the past 30 days, and if they had experienced COVID-19 symptoms, been tested for COVID-19 or been diagnosed with the infectious disease.
12th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Long after a Covid-19 infection, mental and neurological effects smolder

Even people who were never sick enough to go to a hospital, much less lie in an ICU bed with a ventilator, report feeling something as ill-defined as “Covid fog” or as frightening as numbed limbs. They’re unable to carry on with their lives, exhausted by crossing the street, fumbling for words, or laid low by depression, anxiety, or PTSD. As many as 1 in 3 patients recovering from Covid-19 could experience neurological or psychological after-effects of their infections, experts told STAT, reflecting a growing consensus that the disease can have lasting impact on the brain. Beyond the fatigue felt by “long haulers” as they heal post-Covid, these neuropsychological problems range from headache, dizziness, and lingering loss of smell or taste to mood disorders and deeper cognitive impairment. Dating to early reports from China and Europe, clinicians have seen people suffer from depression and anxiety. Muscle weakness and nerve damage sometimes mean they can’t walk.
12th Aug 2020 - STAT

Being overweight increases risk of severe Covid-19 by at least 40%, study finds

Researchers analysed data from more than 300,000 people in England. They found extra weight is linked with 'higher odds' of admission to hospital. Even being only overweight (BMI of 25 to 30) raised the risk by 40%. It came after a report by Public Health England last month warning of the risks
12th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

'Hundreds dead' because of Covid-19 misinformation

At least 800 people died around the world because of coronavirus-related misinformation in the first three months of this year, researchers say. A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene says about 5,800 people were admitted to hospital as a result of false information on social media. Many died from drinking methanol or alcohol-based cleaning products. They wrongly believed the products to be a cure for the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said that the "infodemic" surrounding Covid-19 spread just as quickly as the virus itself, with conspiracy theories, rumours and cultural stigma all contributing to deaths and injuries.
12th Aug 2020 - BBC News

Measure the risk of airborne COVID-19 in your office, classroom, or bus ride

Amid the pandemic, once normal activities are now peppered with questions and concerns. Can kids go back to crowded schools? Is it safe to eat dinner with friends? Should we worry about going for a run? A recent modelling effort may help provide some clues. Led by Jose-Luis Jimenez at the University of Colorado Boulder, the charts below estimate the riskiness of different activities based on one potential route of coronavirus spread: itty-bitty particles known as aerosols. Coughing, singing, talking, or even breathing sends spittle flying in a range of sizes. The closer you are to the spewer, the greater the chance of exposure to large, virus-laden droplets that can be inhaled or land in your eyes. But many scientists have also grown concerned about the potential risks of aerosols—the smallest of these particles—which may float across rooms and cause infections. It’s a worry that's greatest where ventilation is poor and airborne particulates could build. While the World Health Organisation recently acknowledged that aerosol transmission cannot be ruled out for some situations, they emphasised more research is needed to conclusively demonstrate its role in the spread of the virus.
12th Aug 2020 - National Geographic UK

'They've jumped the gun': scientists worry about Russia's Covid-19 vaccine

ADE “is a genuine concern”, Kevin Gilligan, a virologist and senior consultant with Biologics Consulting, told Nature Biotechnology in June. “Because if the gun is jumped and a vaccine is widely distributed that is disease-enhancing, that would be worse than actually not doing any vaccination at all.” This week, following Russia’s announcement that it is pushing ahead with mass production of Sputnik V and mass inoculation , the fears expressed by the likes of Gilligan became a chorus, underlining the concerns among scientists that Russian researchers have jumped the gun.
12th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

US to buy 100m doses of Moderna's potential Covid-19 vaccine for $1.5bn

The US has committed to buy 100m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna, Donald Trump has announced, even while the vaccine remains in an experimental stage. The US president on Tuesday said his administration had agreed to buy 100m doses from the US biotech group, with an option to buy another 400m, for which the company said it would be paid just over $1.5bn. The deal comes after the US struck a similar agreement with Moderna’s rival Pfizer to purchase 100m doses for a price of almost $2bn. Mr Trump said: “We are investing in the development and manufacture of the top six vaccine candidates to ensure rapid delivery. “The military is ready to go, they’re ready to deliver a vaccine to Americans as soon as one is fully approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and we’re very close to that approval.”
12th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Coronavirus infection rate in London similar to Stockholm – despite Sweden's lockdown snub, study suggests

The same proportion of people in London were infected with coronavirus in April as in Stockholm — where authorities opted for a herd immunity strategy, according to a new study. Antibody testing regimes from both the UK and Swedish governments suggested that 17 per cent of the population in both cities had contracted Covid-19 in April, the paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine highlights.
12th Aug 2020 - The Independent

Russian coronavirus vaccine ‘could kill the acceptance of vaccination if it goes wrong’

Germany has warned that Russia’s claim that it has developed the world’s first coronavirus vaccine could prove “dangerous”. Russian president Vladimir Putin said this week that a COVID-19 vaccine developed in the country has been registered for use and one of his daughters has already been inoculated. But German health minister Jens Spahn said he was sceptical about the claims, warning they could ultimately “kill the acceptance” of vaccination as a weapon against the pandemic. Spahn told Deutschlandfunk radio: "It can be dangerous to start vaccinating millions, if not billions, of people too early because it could pretty much kill the acceptance of vaccination if it goes wrong, so I'm very sceptical about what's going on in Russia.
12th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Fauci says he 'seriously doubts' that Russia has developed a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine after Putin approved of the world's first vaccine

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this week that the country approved of the world's first coronavirus vaccine — months before a vaccine is expected to be available globally. Russia's health ministry intends on mass producing the vaccine this coming fall. However, there is a lack of widespread testing to prove the vaccine's safety and effectiveness. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, while the US has a number of vaccines in development, "if we wanted to take the chance of hurting a lot of people or giving them something that doesn't work, we could start doing this, you know, next week if we wanted to." "But that's not the way it works," the infectious disease expert said.
12th Aug 2020 - MSN

Philippines talking to Russian vaccine maker on trials, seeks 'complete dossier'

Philippine scientists were set on Wednesday to meet representatives of the Russian state research facility that developed a coronavirus vaccine, to discuss participation in clinical trials and access to its research data. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded the Russian vaccine and offered to be “injected in public”, to allay public fears about its safety. Russia on Tuesday became the world’s first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, to be named “Sputnik V” in homage to the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first satellite.
12th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Russia vaccine claim faces scepticism as nations renew virus battle

Russia claimed Tuesday it has developed the world's first vaccine offering "sustainable immunity" against the coronavirus, despite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness as fears grow over a second wave of infections across the globe. President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed "Sputnik" after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite. "I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity," Putin said of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with Moscow's defence ministry.
12th Aug 2020 - IBTimes UK

Covid-19 lockdown means 115 million Indian children risk malnutrition

A staggering 115 million children in India are at risk of malnutrition, as the world’s largest school lunch programme has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. When India went under a strict lockdown on 24 March to reduce the spread of the virus, 12-year-old Kavi’s life changed. His mother, a roadside tailor, was no longer able to work and his father doesn’t have a job due to health problems. With schools closed, Kavi began selling fruit and vegetables from a sparsely stocked cart. The cart is now their primary source of income, but isn’t enough for a family of four. “Some days, we just eat rice or chapati with salt,” says Kavi.
12th Aug 2020 - New Scientist

Argentina, Mexico to produce AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

An agreement signed between British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the biotechnology company mAbxience of the INSUD Group includes transfer of technology to initially produce 150 million doses of the vaccine to supply all of Latin America with the exception of Brazil, the Argentine government said. "Latin American production will be handled in Argentina and Mexico and that will allow timely and efficient access for all countries in the region," Fernandez said. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said later on Twitter that the deal had been pushed by Fernandez and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He said output of the vaccine could extend to 250 million doses.
12th Aug 2020 - Yahoo News

Philippines' Duterte has 'huge trust' in Russia vaccine, volunteers for trial

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded Russia’s efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and is willing to personally participate in trials, as he welcomed a supply offer from Moscow that he expects will be free of charge. Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass domestic inoculation even as the final stage of clinical trials continue. Russia has offered to supply or co-manufacture the vaccine in the Philippines, which said it was ready to work with Moscow on trials, supply and production. The Philippines has among Asia’s highest case numbers, which rose by 2,987 to 139,538 on Tuesday. “I will tell President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity,” Duterte said late on Monday.
12th Aug 2020 - Reuters


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

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J&J eyes one billion doses of potential COVID-19 shot in 2021, weighs challenge trials

Johnson & Johnson could produce 1 billion doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine next year if it proves successful and would consider injecting healthy volunteers with the novel coronavirus if there are not enough patients for final trials,
11th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Antibody drugs could be key tools against Covid-19. But will they matter?

From the moment Covid-19 emerged as a threat, one approach to making drugs to treat or prevent the disease seemed to hold the most promise: They’re known as monoclonal antibodies. Now, scientists are on the brink of getting important data that may indicate whether these desperately needed therapies could be safe and effective. Clinical trials involving a pair of antibodies developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals will read out early results in September. A separate effort from Eli Lilly could yield data later in the fall. Despite experts’ eagerness to see the data, however, there remains a debate over just how significant a role any antibody treatment might play in changing the course of the pandemic.
11th Aug 2020 - STAT News

Dr. Fauci fears the 'convergence' of COVID-19 and the flu this fall could be a 'very difficult time'

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Americans of the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic could converge with flu season this year. Fauci said such a situation could prove to be a 'difficult time' for citizens. He added that there should be a 'universal wearing of masks' as schools are reopened across the country. Fauci said photos of packed school hallways with very few people wearing face masks was 'disturbing' Fauci urged Americans to follow public health guidelines to curb the virus' spread
11th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Asthma patients not at higher risk of Covid-19 complications, research suggests

Patients with asthma do not seem to be at risk from complications associated with being hospitalised with Covid-19 disease, in sharp contrast to other viral infections say French researchers. In a group of 768 patients hospitalised from March to April, 37 patients (4.8%) had asthma – a broadly similar proportion to the general population of the same age in France. The patients were generally younger than non-asthmatic patients hospitalised for Covid-19 and far more likely to be female, the researchers reported in the European Respiratory Journal. None of the patients with asthma experienced a severe asthma attack warranting specific treatment on admission to hospital and their asthma therapy was unchanged, supporting previous research that Covid-19 is less likely to exacerbate asthma than other respiratory viral infections, the researchers concluded.
11th Aug 2020 - Pulse

Global Coronavirus Cases Top 20 Million, Doubling in 45 Days

The number of coronavirus cases topped 20 million on Tuesday, more than half of them from the U.S., India and Brazil. Health officials believe the actual number is much higher than that tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, given testing limitations and the fact that as many as 40% of those who are infected have no symptoms. It took six months or so to get to 10 million cases after the virus first appeared in central China late last year. It took just over six weeks for that number to double. An AP analysis of data through Aug. 9 showed the U.S., India and Brazil together accounted for nearly two-thirds of all reported infections since the world hit 15 million coronavirus cases on July 22.
11th Aug 2020 - The New York Times

Putin says Russia has registered world's first COVID-19 vaccine

President Vladimir Putin said Russia cleared the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine for use and hopes to begin mass inoculation soon, even before clinical testing has finished. “The first registration has taken place,” Putin said Tuesday at a televised government meeting, adding that one of his daughters has already been given the vaccine. “I hope that we can soon begin mass production.” The move paves the way for widespread use of the vaccine among Russia’s population, with production starting next month, although it may take until January to complete trials. Medical workers could begin receiving the drug by the end of the month, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said at the meeting. The announcement represents a propaganda coup for the Kremlin amid a global race to develop vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic and accusations that Russian hackers sought to steal international drug research. The disease has killed nearly 750,000 people, infected more than 20 million and crippled national economies. Companies including AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc. are still conducting final-stage trials of their vaccines in studies that are expected to soon yield results.
11th Aug 2020 - bnnbloomberg

Philippines' Duterte has 'huge trust' in Russia vaccine, volunteers for trial

Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass domestic inoculation even as the final stage of clinical trials continue. Russia has offered to supply or co-manufacture the vaccine in the Philippines, which said it was ready to work with Moscow on trials, supply and production. The Philippines has among Asia's highest case numbers, which rose by 2,987 to 139,538 on Tuesday. "I will tell President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity," Duterte said late on Monday. The global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has raised concern that speed and national prestige could compromise safety.
11th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Coronavirus: Philippine president Duterte offers to be ‘injected in public’ with Russian vaccine to dispel safety concerns

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has offered to be “injected in public” with a Russian coronavirus vaccine, as Vladimir Putin announced the jabs had been approved for launch by his health ministry despite international scepticism. Mr Duterte declared he had “huge trust” that the vaccine would be “really good for humanity” despite safety concerns raised by virologists and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Russian ambassador to Manila said last week Vladimir Putin’s government would be willing to supply the vaccine to the Philippines as Covid-19 infections surge in the Southeast Asian nation.
11th Aug 2020 - The Independent

Russia's coronavirus vaccine has 'rather little detail' and an unfit jab could cause 'collateral damage', experts worry

Russia has become the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine after less than two months of human testing. President Vladimir Putin has announced the jab was officially registered with the Russian Health Ministry after it brought about “stable” immunity “quite effectively”. Putin added one of his two daughters received the vaccine and is doing well.Russia’s deputy prime minister Tatyana Golikova has said vaccination will begin among medical staff in August, before being rolled out to the public as part of a mass campaign in early 2021. Some experts, however, are wary about the lack of data demonstrating the jab’s efficacy. One warned the “collateral damage” of introducing a “less than safe and effective” vaccine could exacerbate the world’s “current problems insurmountably”.
11th Aug 2020 - YAHOO!

Coronavirus updates: Russia becomes 1st country to approve COVID-19 vaccine

Over 20 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some national governments are hiding or downplaying the scope of their outbreaks.
11th Aug 2020 - ABC News on MSN.com

Philippines' Duterte has 'huge trust' in Russia vaccine, volunteers for trial

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lauded Russia’s efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine and is willing to personally participate in trials, as he welcomed a supply offer from Moscow that he expects will be free of charge. Russia on Tuesday became the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for mass domestic inoculation even as the final stage of clinical trials continue. Russia has offered to supply or co-manufacture the vaccine in the Philippines, which said it was ready to work with Moscow on trials, supply and production. The Philippines has among Asia’s highest case numbers, which rose by 2,987 to 139,538 on Tuesday. “I will tell President (Vladimir) Putin that I have huge trust in your studies in combating COVID and I believe that the vaccine that you have produced is really good for humanity,” Duterte said late on Monday.
11th Aug 2020 - Reuters UK

Coronavirus: Local Covid-19 tracing 'needs more resources'

Joint working between local and national teams on coronavirus testing and contact tracing should be properly funded, says a public health official. Deputy director of public health for Luton Lucy Hubber said more resources should be allocated to councils to cover the costs of finding people. It comes after the government said it will provide councils with with "ring-fenced teams" of the contact tracers. Initial trials of joint working has improved the success of the system.
10th Aug 2020 - BBC News


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

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Antarctica is the last continent without COVID-19. Scientists want to keep it that way.

The busy summer season in Antarctica begins in October and runs through February, when thousands of scientists from dozens of countries usually pack into the continent’s remote research stations. Forty permanent bases dot the desolate landscape, a number that nearly doubles when summer-only facilities resume operations. This year, however, getting to this icy scientific realm comes with a serious concern: Antarctica is the only continent without a single reported case of COVID-19. Medical care at the research stations is limited, and dorm-like living makes it easy for disease to spread even in the best of years. During a pandemic, reducing the number of scientists on the continent will mitigate the risk of an outbreak, but it also disrupts urgent research.
10th Aug 2020 - National Geographic UK

America's window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 is closing

The good news: The United States has a window of opportunity to beat back Covid-19 before things get much, much worse. The bad news: That window is rapidly closing. And the country seems unwilling or unable to seize the moment. Winter is coming. Winter means cold and flu season, which is all but sure to complicate the task of figuring out who is sick with Covid-19 and who is suffering from a less threatening respiratory tract infection. It also means that cherished outdoor freedoms that link us to pre-Covid life — pop-up restaurant patios, picnics in parks, trips to the beach — will soon be out of reach, at least in northern parts of the country.
10th Aug 2020 - STAT News

Covid-19 poses a new challenge for point-of-care manufacturing

The spread of covid-19 outbreaks has led facilities in medical device manufacturing to rigorously anticipate, plan, and innovate. By Ali Burns, managing director of Siemens Healthineers Sudbury, UK manufacturing facility. In its Sudbury facility, the work Siemens Healthineers does is intrinsically linked to the preservation of life; supply chains and distribution networks are constantly monitored and reinforced for the critical work the company undertakes.
10th Aug 2020 - Health Service Journal

Number of Covid-19 patients needing hospital treatment has plummeted by 96% since April, data shows

The number of people needing hospital treatment for coronavirus infections has plummeted since the peak of the outbreak in the UK. In the seven days leading up to August 5, 375 people were hospitalised with Covid-19 in England, compared to 18,638 between March 28 and April 3. While the number of patients in hospitals would be expected to drop as cases decline and the virus fades out, data suggests fewer people are getting severely ill.
10th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

China's military takes centre stage in Covid-19 vaccine race

While governments around the world are planning to give the first doses of a proven Covid-19 vaccine to healthcare workers who are most exposed to the virus, China is prioritising people on a different frontline: the military. CanSino Biologics, a Chinese vaccine maker that has announced several sets of positive trial results, is already providing a vaccine to People’s Liberation Army soldiers, even though safety testing for commercial sale of the product is not yet complete. The decision has set the country apart in the frantic global race for a vaccine — and highlighted the central part played by the PLA in broader attempts to vanquish Covid-19.
10th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

US health secretary praises Taiwan's Covid-19 response during rare high-level visit

The US health secretary, Alex Azar, has met Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, in the highest-level US visit in more than four decades, as China flew fighter jets into the Taiwan strait. The meeting in Taipei on Monday threatened to escalate worsening tensions between Washington and Beijing. China claims Taiwan is part of its territory and takes issue with any acknowledgement of Taiwan’s status as a sovereign state. Azar, a US cabinet member, is the most senior US official to visit Taiwan since Washington broke off official ties in 1979 to grant diplomatic recognition to Beijing.
10th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

UK heading into full lockdown next month if Boris Johnson doesn't fix 'disastrous' test and trace, says ex-government scientist

Britain could be heading into another full lockdown if Boris Johnson doesn't to sort out the "disastrous" test and trace programme, a former government adviser has said. Sir David King told the Sunday Mirror the the UK is "nowhere near" the safe reopening of schools, adding: “We need a proper test and trace system by September. Otherwise full school opening will put us right back.” Sir David, 80, the former chief scientific advisor to Tony Blair who now heads the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies shadowing the PM's scientific team, called on Mr Johnson to "get it right
10th Aug 2020 - Evening Standard

COVID-19 in the EU Member States

Italy confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 on 31 January, whereupon the government immediately suspended all flights to and from China and declared a national state of emergency. In the early stages of the pandemic, the country saw intense localised clusters in the Northern regions of Lombardy – which had 984 confirmed cases of COVID-19 by 1 March – and Veneto. Lockdown measures were implemented in the North in early March, followed shortly by a comprehensive national quarantine strategy: funerals and cultural events were prohibited; scheduled sporting events were cancelled; and non-essential businesses were closed. As of 3 August, Italy had 246,488 confirmed cases and 35,123 deaths from COVID-19. Legal sanctions were introduced for Italians who breached the lockdown rules – under Italian law, the negligent spread of an epidemic is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 12 years – and in July Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza proposed involuntary trattamento sanitario obbligatorio (mandatory medical treatment) be applied to patients who refuse hospital treatment for COVID-19, saying: “I am evaluating with my legal department the hypothesis of compulsory health treatment in cases where a person must be treated but [refuses] to be. At the same time, my thoughts on how Italians have behaved during this crisis are positive, as without this fundamental harmony we would not have bent the curve.”
10th Aug 2020 - Health Europa

WHO chief says there are 'green shoots of hope' in fight against coronavirus

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was 'never too late' to contain an outbreak He gave the North of England lockdown as an example of 'strong measures' WHO chief hailed New Zealand for reaching 100 days with no domestic spread
10th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Reopening after COVID-19 lockdown and impact on disease

In the absence of any effective vaccine or antiviral preventive or therapeutic drug, the only possible response to an extraordinarily contagious and unknown disease was in the form of multiple non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). China implemented what some describe as a ‘Draconian’ lockdown, with total closure of public transport, and all residents ordered to stay at home. Similar measures restricting travel, quarantining people with suspected or confirmed disease, and tracing contacts, were put in place in other Asia countries, and a month later, in Europe. The latter was also characterized by school and non-essential closures, limits on the number of people who could gather, bans on international travel, and shelter-in-place mandates. The response in the US was quite different in many ways. For one thing, both state and local authorities decided on the measures to be taken. Overall, in most affected areas, stay-at-home orders were passed by March 21, 2020. In the early part of the pandemic, there was a significant reduction in the number of people moving around places like retail, grocery, workplace locations, pharmacies, and parks. Research focused on this time showed that combinations of NPIs had significant success in lowering viral transmission. The greatest impact was observed with an intensive reduction in contacts, such as lockdowns.
10th Aug 2020 - News-Medical.Net

USA the source of most of New Zealand's coronavirus cases

The study also shows that most of the transmission lineages in NZ were from viral strains brought in from North America, which is probably a reflection of the high prevalence of the virus in that continent during the period when these cases occurred. However, the researchers did not find any sign of the virus in NZ before February 26. The study also shows that case detection is most efficient in the second half of the epidemic than in the earlier part, because the detection lag dipped as the age of transmission lineages went down. In other words, fewer cases went undetected as the time from the first inferred transmission event in each cluster to the first detected case dropped.
10th Aug 2020 - News Medical

Lockdown reduces cases of flu, colds and bronchitis in England

Lockdown and physical distancing measures have helped reduce the incidence of flu, colds, bronchitis and a host of viruses other than Covid-19 in England, monitoring suggests. The low incidence of these and other viral infections, including laryngitis and tonsillitis, has helped relieve pressure on the NHS when resources have been dedicated to fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The flipside, however, is that as lockdown eases it is not just cases of Covid-19 that may increase. Prof Martin Marshall, the chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We would expect to see a drop in influenza-like illness during the warmer months but the latest figures from our research and surveillance centre (RSC), which collects data from more than 500 GP practices in England, shows that it’s lower than the five-year average for this time of year.
10th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

How China Controlled the Coronavirus

A few days before my return to classroom teaching at Sichuan University, I was biking across a deserted stretch of campus when I encountered a robot. The blocky machine stood about chest-high, on four wheels, not quite as long as a golf cart. In front was a T-shaped device that appeared to be some kind of sensor. The robot rolled past me, its electric motor humming. I turned around and tailed the thing at a distance of fifteen feet.
10th Aug 2020 - The New Yorker

How Did New Zealand Control COVID-19?

New Zealand, a modern small island nation, has become an emblematic champion of proper prevention and response to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Leading into this weekend, the country of approximately 5 million has just 2 dozen active COVID-19 cases—a full month after having reported absolutely none, on the backbone of strict initial travel policies, science-based government action, and strategies responsive to testing limitations. What else went into New Zealand’s pandemic response—and what could serve as guidance for other countries?
10th Aug 2020 - Contagionlive.com

UK could go back into lockdown next month, former government adviser warns

Ex-government advisor Sir David King warns country may return to lockdown He said a proper test and trace system is needed for school restart in September UK saw another 55 deaths and 758 confirmed coronavirus cases since yesterday
9th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

'We failed': one scientist's despair as Brazil Covid-19 deaths hit 100,000

For months Natalia Pasternak has implored Brazilians to take science and coronavirus seriously, in a marathon of TV appearances, newspaper columns, live streams and podcasts. “I’ve given interviews at 2am,” said the microbiologist and broadcaster who runs a civil society group called the Question of Science Institute. As the epidemic has raged, Pasternak has condemned President Jair Bolsonaro’s chaotic, anti-scientific response; denounced fake news and unproven treatments such as chloroquine and ozone therapy; and urged her country’s 210 million citizens to respect quarantine measures aimed at controlling coronavirus. “Reopening … is a recipe for disaster,” the 43-year-old scientist warned on a recent talkshow, as lockdown efforts withered despite the soaring number of infections and deaths.
9th Aug 2020 - The Guardian


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

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Coronavirus: Face masks reduce severity of symptoms in wearer, scientists find

Earlier this year, researchers in China used hamsters to test the theory, The New York Times reported. They housed coronavirus-infected and healthy animals in adjoining cages, some of which were separated by partitions made of surgical masks. Many of the healthy hamsters behind the partitions were not infected. And those animals that did get the virus became less sick than their “maskless” neighbours. The experts say their findings suggest masks are even more important than previously thought, as they both reduce the virual dose – the amount hitting the face – and the viral load, the amount of infection in the body.
10th Aug 2020 - The Independent

Most Recovered COVID-19 Patients Left With Heart Damage, Study Shows

A new study published Monday in the JAMA Cardiology Journal found that 78 percent of recovered COVID-19 patients had permanent heart damage. The study from the University Hospital Frankfurt examined the cardiovascular MRIs of 100 people who had recovered from the coronavirus. The heart images showed that almost 80 percent of recovered COVID-19 patients had structural changes to their hearts. Sixty percent of patients had ongoing myocardial (heart muscle) inflammation even after recovery. The majority of the patients were not hospitalized and recovered at home, with symptoms ranging from none to moderate.
9th Aug 2020 - Newsweek

German-Chinese coronavirus vaccine trial begins

Clinical trials on humans have begun in China for a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by German pharmaceutical group BioNTech with Chinese company Fosun Pharma, the companies said Wednesday. Seventy-two participants have already received their first dose following approval for the phase 1 trial from Chinese regulatory authorities, Mainz-based BioNTech and Fosun Pharma said in a statement. The vaccine candidate, known as BNT162b1, is one of four based on BioNTech's proprietary mRNA technology.
8th Aug 2020 - The Local Germany

Anakinra for severe forms of COVID-19

There is an urgent need to seek new therapeutic approaches to combat the infective and post-infective stages of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The Article by Thomas Huet and colleagues1 on the clinical use of the interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor antagonist, anakinra, to treat patients with COVID-19 is very interesting. The main hypothesis of the study was based on hyperinflammation caused by an increase in proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1β, IL-6, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF), triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection. The recruited participants in this study did not have any other infection, but what if the patients did have another proinflammatory condition, such as obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, or other autoimmune disease?
8th Aug 2020 - The Lancet

Many COVID-19 patients lost their sense of smell. Will they get it back?

In early March, Peter Quagge began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as chills and a low-grade fever. As he cut pieces of raw chicken to cook for dinner one night, he noticed he couldn’t smell the meat. “Must be really fresh,” he remembers thinking. But the next morning he couldn’t smell the Dial soap in the shower or the bleach he used to clean the house. “It sounds crazy, but I thought the bleach had gone bad,” he says. When Quagge stuck his head into the bottle and took a long whiff, the bleach burned his eyes and nose, but he couldn’t smell a thing. The inability to smell, or anosmia, has emerged as a common symptom of COVID-19. Quagge was diagnosed with COVID-19, though he was not tested, since tests were not widely available at the time. He sought anosmia treatment with multiple specialists and still has not fully recovered his sense of smell.
8th Aug 2020 - National Geographic UK

Japan, AstraZeneca agree on 120 mil. COVID-19 vaccine dose supply

The Japanese government has reached an agreement with British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc to receive a supply of 120 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine being developed with the University of Oxford, health minister Katsunobu Kato said Friday. The vaccine will be supplied to Japan from next year if put into practical use, with 30 million doses to be received by March. The drugmaker, which has been conducting a final-stage clinical trial of its experimental AZD1222 vaccine, has not yet decided whether it is necessary to inoculate a person once or twice. "We want to reach a final contract as quickly as possible, as well as proceed with negotiating with other vaccine developers," Kato told reporters. Japan has already agreed to receive a supply of 120 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine for 60 million people by the end of June next year from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech SE, if they succeed in developing it.
8th Aug 2020 - Kyodo News Plus

New clues on virus reproduction mystery; non-Covid vaccines may help

Scientists already knew that once the virus breaks into a cell, it forms double-membrane sacs, or vesicles, in which it makes copies of its genetic material. But the sacs appeared to be closed and it was previously unclear how the genetic material moved from the sac into the fluid in the cell, where new virus particles assembled themselves.
8th Aug 2020 - ETHealthworld.com

Wrexham Pharma Base Wins Race to Start Manufacturing Covid-19 Vaccines

A grey little factory in North Wales may be about to play a key part in rescuing us from the tedium of social network face mask shaming, as Wrexham's CP Pharmaceuticals is clearing the decks and preparing to take on the job of manufacturing mass doses of any covid-19 vaccine that aces trials and is deemed safe for the population. CP Pharmaceuticals is a subsidiary of Wockhardt, a multinational responsible for making many generic medical products. Most importantly for the UK's vaccine developers, the deal includes the rights to make millions of doses of the University of Oxford's world-leading attempt at a covid-19 vaccine underway in cooperation with AstraZeneca, known as AZD1222.
8th Aug 2020 - Gizmodo UK

Covid-19: lack of diversity threatens to undermine vaccine trials, experts warn

The remarkably fast progress of two leading contenders for an effective coronavirus vaccine has raised hopes the pandemic may be speedily tamed. But some experts have warned the vaccine trials risk being undermined by a lack of diversity among their participants. Last month, the University of Oxford reported a vaccine it is developing with AstraZeneca from a chimpanzee virus elicited a “strong immune response” in people involved in an initial trial. A separate vaccine project, overseen by the US biotech company Moderna, also saw encouraging results from an early small-scale trial. The two research trials, striving to charge ahead of a pack of more than 140 different teams racing to find a vaccine to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, have sparked a rare burst of optimism during the crisis. But the trials are striking not only for their rapid pace but also their overwhelming whiteness.
8th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Anthony Fauci says COVID-19 vaccine may be partially effective

An approved coronavirus vaccine could end up being effective only 50 to 60 percent of the time, meaning public health measures will still be needed to keep the pandemic under control, Dr Anthony Fauci, the top United States infectious diseases expert, said on Friday. "We don't know yet what the efficacy might be. We don't know if it will be 50 percent or 60 percent. I'd like it to be 75 percent or more," Fauci said in a webinar hosted by Brown University. "But the chances of it being 98 percent effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach."
8th Aug 2020 - Al Jazeera English

Rare syndrome linked to COVID-19 found in nearly 600 US ...

Nearly 600 children were admitted to U.S. hospitals with a rare inflammatory syndrome associated with the novel coronavirus over four months during the peak of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report on Friday. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) is a rare but severe condition that shares symptoms with toxic shock and Kawasaki disease, including fever, rashes, swollen glands and, in severe cases, heart inflammation. It has been reported in children and adolescent patients about two to four weeks after the onset of COVID-19. With rising COVID-19 cases, there could be an increased occurrence of MIS-C, but this might not be apparent immediately because of the delay in development of symptoms, said the report's authors, including those from the CDC's COVID-19 response team.
8th Aug 2020 - Thomson Reuters Foundation

Dogs could sniff out Covid and speed up testing

In the dogged search for mass testing, maybe dogs are the solution. Scientists are calling for volunteers in northwest England to take part in a trial to identify the smells that are unique to Covid-19 infection and then see if dogs can sniff them out. The hope is their sensitive noses will be able to spot the signs of coronavirus without the need for laboratory testing. Dogs could then offer another means of mass screening at airports and in hot spots. In the past decade researchers have found that dogs are able to spot illness before it is even apparent to the people who are sick. This ability was first noticed by owners who claimed that their dogs had spotted they had cancer.
8th Aug 2020 - The Times

Coronavirus: Chances of COVID vaccine being 98% effective are 'not great', expert warns

An approved coronavirus vaccine may only end up being effective 50% of the time, the top US infectious diseases expert has warned. The chances of a COVID-19 vaccine being almost 100% effective are "not great", Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said on Friday. "We don't know yet what the efficacy might be. We don't know if it will be 50% or 60%. I'd like it to be 75% or more," he told a Brown University webinar.
8th Aug 2020 - Sky News

UK 'heading back into lockdown next month', says government's ex-chief scientist

Britain could be heading for full lockdown again by the end of the month. And the PM must act NOW to prevent it, a former government chief scientific adviser warns today. Sir David King said: “We need a proper test and trace system by September. Otherwise full school opening will put us right back.” Sir David says we are “nowhere near” the safe reopening of schools. He is urging Boris Johnson to “get it right” in August – or face a second wave of coronavirus infections. And he blasted the Government’s track and trace policy as “disastrous”.
8th Aug 2020 - Mirror Online

Coronavirus: Pubs ‘the perfect storm’ for spreading disease, experts warn

Pubs create the “perfect storm” for spreading coronavirus and carry more risk than planes, experts have found. Indoor pub drinkers are potentially subjecting themselves to a build-up of infected droplets caused by poor ventilation and people having continuous conversations, often speaking more loudly to be heard over the din of a noisy bar, the academics warn. Households mixing in pubs and homes has been blamed for a rise in Covid-19 cases in Preston, leading to lockdown restrictions being reimposed there.
8th Aug 2020 - The Independent

Bill Gates Says U.S. Virus Testing Has ‘Mind-Blowing’ Problems

Microsoft Corp. founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said it’s “mind-blowing” that the U.S. government hasn’t improved Covid-19 testing that he described as slow and lacking fair access. “You’re paying billions of dollars in this very inequitable way to get the most worthless test results of any country in the world,” Gates said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday. “No other country has this testing insanity.” “A variety of early missteps by the U.S. and then the political atmosphere meant that we didn’t get our testing going,” he said.
9th Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Pfizer agrees to manufacture Gilead's coronavirus drug remdesivir

Pfizer has agreed to manufacture and supply Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir. The multiyear agreement will support efforts to scale up the supply of the intravenous drug. Pfizer will manufacture the drug at its McPherson, Kansas, facility.
7th Aug 2020 - CNBC

Fatigue plagues thousands suffering post-coronavirus symptoms

In early March, as angst about Covid-19 was growing, Layth Hishmeh remained unconcerned. At 26, having never been seriously unwell, he felt pretty confident this new virus would barely affect him and would even joke about it with colleagues. Then he caught it. After recovering from the initial fortnight of coughing and fever, he collapsed on the street while out shopping. For the next four months he has been ambushed by a baffling array of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, a foggy brain, a raised heartbeat and diarrhoea. “I couldn’t sit up for about one month, and then I couldn’t get myself to the bathroom for another month,” he said. “I’m not doing so well on the mental front at the moment, it’s traumatising” Mr Hishmeh, who lives in Camberley, Surrey, is one of tens of thousands of people worldwide who have reported severe fatigue and other, apparently uncorrelated, symptoms for months after contracting Covid-19.
3rd Aug 2020 - Financial Times


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 7th Aug 2020

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AstraZeneca in first COVID-19 vaccine deal with Chinese company

Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products will produce AstraZeneca Plc’s potential COVID-19 vaccine in mainland China, the British drugmaker said on Thursday, its first deal to supply one of the world’s most populous countries. The deal underscores Astra’s frontrunner position in a global race to deliver an effective vaccine, given that Chinese ventures are leading at least eight of the 26 global vaccine development projects currently testing on humans. Under the agreement Shenzhen Kangtai, one of China’s top vaccine makers, will ensure it has annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the experimental shot AZD1222, which AstraZeneca co-developed with researchers at Oxford University, by the end of this year, AstraZeneca said.
6th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Leeds researchers find Covid-19 patients can suffer with PTSD months after leaving hospital

Leeds researchers have found that some Covid-19 patients suffer with breathlessness, fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for months after they leave hospital. Researchers from the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust assessed 100 people who are recovering from the virus after being treated in hospital and identified several longer-term symptoms. Patients were found to have suffered from fatigue, which was the most common symptom, as well as breathlessness and issues with concentration and memory. The researchers also found that almost half of the Covid-19 survivors who had been in intensive care had some of the symptoms of PTSD. More than two thirds (68.8 percent) of the intensive care patients and just under half (45.6 percent) of the people who were treated in other hospital wards told researchers their overall quality of life had deteriorated.
6th Aug 2020 - Leeds Live

Covid-19 may spread more easily among children than thought, report warns

A report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into an outbreak at a summer camp in Georgia suggests children – even asymptomatic cases – may play an important role in community transmission of Covid-19. The claim contradicts a number of earlier studies where the consensus appeared to be that children rarely transmit the virus between themselves or to other people. This week 260 employees in one of Georgia’s biggest school districts were barred from entering their schools to plan for reopening because they either had the virus or had been in contact with an infected individual.
6th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Mental health study ramped up as Covid-19 struggles take toll on farmers

Robert Gordon University (RGU) and the NHS are working with Scottish farmers to improve mental wellbeing across the industry. The study was launched last year after studies showed that, on average, one farmer commits suicide every week in the UK. Those behind the project now fear farmers are facing additional hardship due to Covid-19 and are calling for them to take part in a survey to determine the best ways of offering help. Regional manager at NFU Scotland, Lorna Paterson, urged people to come forward and participate. She said: “Our farmers’ mental health generally is under severe pressure, and this has been escalated due to Covid-19.
6th Aug 2020 - Press and Journal

COVID-19 and cancer insights revealed in new European study

A large Imperial-led study has revealed valuable insights into the impact and risk factors for cancer patients with COVID-19. The findings, from almost 900 cancer patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the UK, Spain, Italy and Germany, highlight a number of key clinical insights, including: The average mortality rate among cancer patients with SARS-CoV-2 was 33.6% - Patients who were male, older aged and had pre-existing conditions were more likely to have worse outcomes from COVID-19 - Continued chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment had little impact on the severity of COVID-19, or survival rates
6th Aug 2020 - Imperial College

Brazil facing 200,000 virus deaths by October: expert

With Brazil poised to register 100,000 coronavirus deaths, AFP spoke to medical statistician Domingos Alves about what went wrong in the giant South American country and where its outbreak is headed. Alves, coordinator of the Health Intelligence Lab at the University of Sao Paulo's Ribeirao Preto medical school, was scathing in his criticism of President Jair Bolsonaro's government, which he accused of "sacrificing the Brazilian people" in the name of keeping the economy afloat.
6th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

Where the Pandemic Is Only Getting Worse

To focus solely on the U.S., however, would be to miss the even more alarming situation occurring in much of the developing world. Brazil, second only to the U.S. in confirmed cases and deaths, has recorded more than 2 million infections. India, the world’s second-most populous country with the third-highest number of cases, is approaching the same grim milestone. Similar increases are occurring in South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia. Taken collectively, these countries account for more than a third of the world’s confirmed infections. And such figures only reflect the cases we know about.
6th Aug 2020 - The Atlantic

Coronavirus infection rates continued to fall in early stages of lockdown easing, study finds

Coronavirus infection rates continued to drop despite some lockdown restrictions being lifted, a report from the UK's largest testing study has found. The rate of infection throughout the country was halving every eight to nine days during May, according to an initial report released last month by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI. A second report has now revealed the rate of infection continued to fall in late June and early July, with the virus still halving every eight to nine days.
6th Aug 2020 - Sky News

'A matter of when not if': New Zealand begins battle against 'Covid fatigue'

New Zealand has attained the status of one of the world’s safest countries when it comes to the coronavirus; there is no known community transmission in the country and life has largely returned to normal. But with one eye on nations where the virus was once quashed before spiralling out of control again, officials and the government have changed their language in recent days in order to fight a new battle – this time against complacency. “We have to be absolutely on our toes,” Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s top health official, said in a Radio New Zealand interview on Wednesday. “That’s not just the health system … it’s everybody.”
6th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Human Trials of Coronavirus Vaccine Set to Begin in Indonesia

Human trials on a potential coronavirus vaccine are due to start in Indonesia next week as part of a collaboration between state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma and China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd, a senior researcher said. The launch of the vaccine trial comes as Indonesia has struggled to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, with a consistently escalating number of cases. The phase 3 clinical trial is set to begin on Aug. 11 and will involve 1,620 volunteers aged between 18 and 59, Professor Kusnandi Rusmil, head researcher at Bandung’s Padjadjaran University, told reporters. Half of the participants will receive the vaccine over a six-month period, while the rest will receive a placebo, he said, noting 800 volunteers had been signed up so far. "We want to have our vaccines so we can use it for our people," Rusmil told reporters.
6th Aug 2020 - U.S. News & World Report

Coronavirus: Vaccine may be less effective in obese adults

Previous studies have found that vaccines for the fu and hepatitis B are less effective in obese adults than non-obese adults. Some theorize this is because those who are obese have an impaired T-cell response, a type of immune system cell, to immunizations. Researchers fear that a similar event could occur when a coronavirus vaccine finally becomes available. This puts 42.4% of the US adult population, who are obese, at risk of severe infection or complications such as death.
6th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail


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

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A needle-prick is a small price to pay to suppress Covid-19

Few relish a jab in the arm with a needle. If the syringe prevented Covid-19, then many might think it a pain worth suffering — but by no means all. Tens of thousands of anti-lockdown protesters gathered in Berlin over the weekend, some to voice their discontent at the possibility of being coerced by the state into getting vaccinated. The situation is far from unique to Germany. In Italy, where the broader anti-vaccination movement enjoys widespread support, both main anti-establishment parties campaigned last year against compulsory routine vaccinations for children. In the US, a fifth of people say they would never submit to inoculation against coronavirus; another third remain unsure. A recent online survey of UK residents showed a quarter would decline a vaccine if the government made it “available tomorrow”.
5th Aug 2020 - Financial Times

Coronavirus: Ethnic minorities 'over-exposed' to Covid-19

The Runnymede Trust, a race equality think-tank, said Bangladeshi and black African people were most vulnerable. Jobs, households and using public transport are all said to be risk factors. The government said it is working to help ethnic minorities, who have been disproportionately harmed by Covid-19. There is growing evidence that people from those communities are at greater risk from the virus. The Runnymede Trust also warned important public safety messages aimed at reducing transmission were currently not reaching all black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
5th Aug 2020 - BBC News

British BAME groups face 'greater barriers' than white people in avoiding Covid-19

The Runnymede Trust found that people from BAME backgrounds faced greater barriers in shielding from Covid-19, with employment, public transport, and multigenerational and overcrowded households all risk factors. Those from BAME backgrounds are over-represented in Covid-19 diagnosis, severe illness and deaths. A Public Health England report published in June found people from Bangladeshi backgrounds faced the greatest risk of dying from the disease. The findings of the survey of 2,585 adults in Britain, including 750 from BAME backgrounds, suggest that one of the main reasons ethnic minorities are at greater risk of dying from Covid-19 than their white counterparts is that they are more exposed to coronavirus.
5th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Global coronavirus deaths exceed 700000, one person dies every 15 seconds on average

The global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 700,000 on Wednesday, media reported, with the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico leading the rise in fatalities. On average, one person dies every 15 seconds from the disease caused by the virus, according to media. Countries across the world have recently seen single-day records in new cases, signaling a second wave in infections. Spain has been among the first countries that warned the country is facing the start of a second major coronavirus outbreak. The announcement has prompted the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Germany to recommend that their citizens cancel their vacation plans in Spain.
5th Aug 2020 - New Europe

Brazil, hotbed for Covid-19 vaccine testing, may struggle to produce its own

If Brazil's underfunded medical institutions are unable to meet their ambitious goals, it would mark the latest failure by President Jair Bolsonaro's government to control the virus. It would also leave Brazil vulnerable to a frenzied global scramble for vaccine supplies.
5th Aug 2020 - ETHealthworld.com

Cancer diagnoses rates fell by half during US lockdown

The number of cancers diagnosed weekly in the United States fell by almost fifty percent during March and April compared to the recent average, a study said Tuesday, the latest to examine the impacts of COVID-19 lockdowns. Emergency room visits additionally appear to have dropped for heart attacks, strokes and even appendicitis—trends that are being confirmed through ongoing studies.
5th Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

Lockdown HAS affected babies' development and behaviour, research shows

Lockdown has affected the behaviour of babies across the UK, survey suggests. The Babies In Lockdown report found some new parents felt 'abandoned.' Others said babies have become 'clingy', 'violent' and 'upset' in recent months
5th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

English speaking-countries were less likely than French or Italian to comply with lockdown rules, study says

British people, Americans, and other English speakers were measurably less likely to comply with coronavirus lockdown regulations than people in other European countries, a new study has claimed. Academics at Durham University found that 71 per cent of English speakers around the globe followed guidelines. But 89 per cent of French and Italian speakers are said to have complied, according the academics' analysis, based on a survey of over 8,300 respondents from 70 countries.
5th Aug 2020 - The Independent

COVID-19: Other countries are learning from Italy - WHO

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, said Wednesday that other countries are learning from how Italy has tackled the coronavirus. "Grazie mille @robersperanza, #Italy Health Minister, for a very good call and for your strong support to @WHO," Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented as he retweeted a post by Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza. "Your leadership and humility is inspiring to other countries who are learning from and acting on Italy's experience". Italy was the first European country to be badly hit by the pandemic.
5th Aug 2020 - ANSA

English speaking-countries were less likely than French or Italian to comply with lockdown rules, study says

British people, Americans, and other English speakers were measurably less likely to comply with coronavirus lockdown regulations than people in other European countries, a new study has claimed. Academics at Durham University found that 71 per cent of English speakers around the globe followed guidelines. But 89 per cent of French and Italian speakers are said to have complied, according the academics' analysis, based on a survey of over 8,300 respondents from 70 countries.
5th Aug 2020 - The Independent

Lockdown study reports surge in health anxieties

New research into people's coping strategies faced with COVID-19 highlights the mental health toll for those shielding. Coronavirus and the imposition of lockdown this year 'significantly raised' mental health challenges, particularly so for the most vulnerable groups, including those shielding, according to the first study to look at people's coping styles in face of the pandemic.
5th Aug 2020 - Times of India

WHO says North Korea's COVID-19 test results for first suspected case 'inconclusive'

North Korea’s test results for a man suspected of being the country’s first coronavirus case were inconclusive, though authorities have quarantined more than 3,635 primary and secondary contacts, a World Health Organization official told Reuters.
5th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Determining the optimal strategy for reopening schools, the impact of test and trace interventions, and the risk of occurrence of a second COVID-19 epidemic wave in the UK: a modelling study

As lockdown measures to slow the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection begin to ease in the UK, it is important to assess the impact of any changes in policy, including school reopening and broader relaxation of physical distancing measures. We aimed to use an individual-based model to predict the impact of two possible strategies for reopening schools to all students in the UK from September, 2020, in combination with different assumptions about relaxation of physical distancing measures and the scale-up of testing.
4th Aug 2020 - The Lancet

What Africa, approaching a million cases, is doing to fight coronavirus

The World Health Organization has warned the coronavirus pandemic could overwhelm strained public health systems in Africa. On Wednesday, the continent was approaching a million infections and around 21,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally. Here are measures some countries are taking to curb the virus.
5th Aug 2020 - Reuters Africa

Starting UK coronavirus lockdown three days earlier 'would have saved 20,000 lives'

Starting lockdown just three days earlier would have saved 20,000 lives, new research shows. Scientists claim certain countries were unwilling to take the economic cost of shutting businesses and ordering people to stay home earlier. Modelling by the University of Exeter Business School calculated that delaying lockdown by three more days would have cost 32,000 more lives. A delay of 12 days would have seen 200,000 extra deaths linked to Covid-19, they found. They have calculated a “price of a life” in the impact on lost GDP linked to lockdown for every death avoided. The price of life in the UK was among the lowest at around £77,000.
4th Aug 2020 - Mirror Online


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

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Covid-19 survivors should be exempt from having to self-isolate, government scientific advisers say

Sage studied evidence which found it's likely survivors can't be infected again. But admitted it is unclear how long this coronavirus 'immunity' would last for Experts dismissed idea of immunity passports, an idea once floated by ministers
4th Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Radical shift in COVID-19 testing strategy needed to reopen schools and businesses, researchers say

“America faces an impending disaster,” says Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. Testing, he says, needs to focus on “massively increasing availability of fast, inexpensive screening tests to identify asymptomatic Americans who carry the virus. Today, we are conducting too few of these types of tests.” Rebecca Smith, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), agrees. To stop outbreaks from overwhelming communities, she says, “we need fast, frequent testing,” which could mean faster versions of existing RNA tests or new kinds of tests aimed at detecting viral proteins. But researchers say the federal government will need to provide major financial backing for the push.
4th Aug 2020 - Science Magazine

We're thinking about Covid-19 the wrong way. It's not a 'wave' – it's a wildfire

We have no previous experience with a worldwide coronavirus pandemic, so when Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, began spreading, public health experts leaned on our experiences with influenza pandemics to inform their predictions. These pandemics are often described in terms of “waves” and “troughs”. We have now seen enough to replace the ocean analogy with a better one: wildfire.
4th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

NHS clinicians given access to online training for treating Covid-19 patients

NHS doctors and nurses in England are being given access to training in treating Covid-19 patients from some of UK-based technology companies. A consortium called Resilient XR has provided the health service with interactive videos that allow healthcare staff to rotate the content 360 degrees and view it from any angle. The group is a collaboration between industry, academia and government. It is made up of Microsoft, volumetric production studio Dimension, digital technology innovation centre Digital Catapult, content distribution platform VISR VR, mixed-reality development agencies Fracture Reality and Make Real, the University of Leeds’ Centre for Immersive Technologies, and University College London. Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and Health Education England (HEE) are advising and contributing to Resilient XR to ensure the content is accurate, informative and up to date.
4th Aug 2020 - Digital Health

Coronavirus: WHO urges caution over Russian vaccine claims

Russia is planning to go ahead with mass vaccinations in October - something the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns about, APA reports citing BBC. About 140 vaccines across the world are in early development, and around two dozen are now being tested on people in clinical trials, including the Russian vaccine. There are generally three main phases of human testing before a vaccine can be approved for general use. The final stage, phase 3, involves trials among a much larger group of volunteers. Six potential vaccines have reached this third stage. One, developed by the University of Oxford, appears safe and triggers an immune response in humans. Early results from two trials in the US, run by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotech company Moderna, also appear to produce a good immune response in volunteers. However, they are all still under testing and none have received approval. According to a document release by the WHO last week, the Russian jab, which has been developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, remains far behind and is still in phase 1.
4th Aug 2020 - APA.az

Global report: Covid risks 'generational catastrophe' warns UN; Latin America exceeds 5m cases

The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, said the world was at a “defining moment” with the world’s children and young people. He said the decisions governments took during the pandemic over education would have lasting impacts on hundreds of millions and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come. Guterres said that as of mid-July schools were closed in 160 countries, affecting more than 1 billion students, while at least 40 million children had missed out on pre-school. This came on top of more than 250 million children already being out of school before the pandemic and only a quarter of secondary school students in developing countries leaving with basic skills. “We face a generational catastrophe that would undermine decades of progress and exacerbate intrenched inequalities,” he said, warning of “deeply concerning” knock-on effects on child nutrition, child marriage and gender equality. The warnings came as Guterres launched a new campaign titled “Save our future” calling for action on reopening schools once local transmission is under control, and prioritising financing for education.
4th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Fauci says states seeing surge in COVID-19 cases should reconsider some lockdown measures

The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Monday said states with high coronavirus case counts should reconsider imposing lockdown restrictions, emphasizing the need to get cases to a low baseline before the fall flu season. In some states with moderate case counts, experts are seeing “that same insidious increase in percent positive that we had seen and pointed out ... in states like Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota and others”, Fauci said during an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Fauci said last week that he was seeing signs the surge of COVID-19 cases could be peaking in the South and West while other areas were on the cusp of new outbreaks. Those states should consider pausing or rolling back reopening efforts, though they don’t necessarily need to revert to full lockdown, he said.
4th Aug 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Doctors warn Germany already in 'second wave' of pandemic

Germany is already experiencing its second wave of coronavirus infections, according to the head of the Marburger Bund, the doctors trade union. "We are already in a second, flat wave," Marburger Bund chairwoman Susanne Johna told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday. Johna added the second surge in infections is not comparable in intensity to the first coronavirus wave, which hit Germany in March this year. However, she warned that the there is a danger Germany will “gamble away the successes we have achieved so far” as people get tired of the rules and want to get back to normal life. “We all long for normality. But we are in a state that is not normal, ” Johna told the newspaper. “As long as there are no drugs to treat COVID-19, the spread of the virus must be curbed. "
4th Aug 2020 - Yahoo

1.5 Million Italians Had Coronavirus, Lockdown was Critical in Stemming Infection: Antibody Test

The results of nationwide antibody tests conducted on nearly 65,000 Italians indicate that some 1.5 million individuals or 2.5% of the population have had the coronavirus, health officials said on Monday. That figure is six times the number of confirmed cases in Italy's official virus tally. The results - viewed with the country's overall death toll of close to 35,000 -align with the 2.3% estimated mortality rate of the virus. Dr Franco Locatelli, a key scientific government adviser, said the tests were designed to understand the virus' circulation nationwide and not whether Italians with antibodies were safe from the virus.
4th Aug 2020 - Yahoo India News

One scientist's six-point recovery plan to tackle COVID-19 anxiety

Fernando T. Maestre was diagnosed with anxiety during Spain’s coronavirus lockdown. A change in approach to work, life and parenting helped to restore his health.
4th Aug 2020 - Nature.com

Coronavirus: Don’t rush vaccines to market, Russia told

Russia has been warned by the World Health Organisation not to rush its vaccines to market after Moscow announced plans to start swiftly producing Covid-19 jabs. Denis Manturov, the industry minister, claimed that it would produce “several million” doses a month of a vaccine trialled by the Gamaleya institute in Moscow which he said was at an advanced stage. “We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” he said. Christian Lindmeier, a WHO spokesman, said: “There are established practices and there are guidelines out. Any vaccine . . . for this purpose should be, of course, going through all the various trials and tests before being licensed.
4th Aug 2020 - The Times

Second COVID wave 'highly likely' to hit France this year, scientists say

After strict lockdown measures pushed down infection rates ... with cities such as Lille and Nice ordering people to wear masks in busy pedestrian streets. France has reported 3,376 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the last three days and the number ...
4th Aug 2020 - Yahoo! News

Brits were less likely than French or Italians to follow lockdown guidelines

Only 71% of Brits, Americans and other English speakers around the globe followed guidelines set by their governments during the Covid-19 lockdown, according to a new study from Durham University Business School. This was drastically lower than French and Italians – where 89% of respondents followed guidelines. The research was conducted at the end of April 2020, the height of the global pandemic, when many countries were at the strictest stage of their lockdowns. Sascha Kraus, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Durham University Business School, Andrés Davila, Professor at ESCE Paris, and an international team of academics research the topic to understand people’s views towards Covid-19 voluntary compliance behaviours, and who was most likely to follow these. The researchers also found that only 70% of native English speakers were happy to take preventative steps such as wearing a mask indoors, social distancing, avoiding crowds, staying at home and washing their hands frequently.
4th Aug 2020 - PharmiWeb.com

Lockdown study reports surge in health anxieties

New research into people's coping strategies faced with Covid-19 highlights the mental health toll for those shielding. Coronavirus and the imposition of lockdown this year 'significantly raised' mental health challenges, particularly so for the most vulnerable groups, including those shielding, according to the first study to look at people's coping styles in face of the pandemic. The new research has been published in the journal American Psychologist. It draws on survey responses from over 800 people recruited online and via social media who answered questions over a ten-day period when the UK was in full lockdown (from 17 - 26 April 2020).
4th Aug 2020 - ETHealthworld.com

New Zealand moved to its own Stage 4 with less than 100 daily cases. Should Victoria have acted sooner?

The adoption of tough Stage 4 coronavirus restrictions in Melbourne has prompted questions about whether the Victorian government should have acted earlier. Melbourne was put under a Stage 4 lockdown on Sunday after recording 671 new infections. The rest of Victoria is set to re-enter Stage 3 restrictions at 11:59 on Wednesday. Some, such as physician and broadcaster Dr Norman Swan, have compared Melbourne's situation with New Zealand, which went into its own version of a Stage 4 lockdown before daily cases reached 100.
4th Aug 2020 - SBS

'It's not going to be easy': experts on what Australia must do to curb Covid's spread

As of 2 August Australia had been experiencing average rates (smoothed over five days given how fluctuating daily counts are) of 500 to 600 per day in Victoria – although we may have just passed the peak with numbers perhaps beginning to fall in the last few days. But we still have a long way to go. Moreover, there are anywhere between 50 to 100 “mystery” cases a day – those cases that pop up and you can’t work out where they got it from. They are concerning, as it means transmission has gone “underground” in asymptomatic cases, and it reflects out-of-control community infection. Meanwhile, New South Wales and Queensland, teetering on the precipice of community transmission, are flaring up.
4th Aug 2020 - The Guardian

'An endless game of COVID-19 whack-a-mole': a New Zealand expert on why Melbourne's stage 4 lockdown should cover all of Victoria

The restrictions in place for metropolitan Melbourne now are in some ways stricter than those that were in force during New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdown. A curfew is in place and most people have to wear masks when they leave their home – neither of which happened in New Zealand. But the state of Victoria has lost valuable time to bring the outbreak under control. Stage 3 restrictions that came into force on July 8 for everyone living in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire provided too many opportunities for the virus to spread. As a result, there are now around 7,000 active cases, and still several hundred new cases each day. For more than 2,000 cases, contact tracers don’t yet know where people were exposed to the virus.
4th Aug 2020 - The Conversation AU

What We Don’t Know About COVID-19 Can Hurt Us

To successfully avoid ongoing disruption, we need to harness the variability of COVID-19 outbreaks—and the control measures countries have introduced—to make more sense of how the infection starts, spreads and ends. This variability was damaging and unpredictable in the spring, but going into the fall, this same diversity could help us target the weak links in the infection process.
4th Aug 2020 - Time on MSN.com

Convalescent Plasma Reduced Death Rate Among Covid-19 Patients, Study Data Signals

Hospitalized patients who got earlier transfusions of blood plasma rich in antibodies to the coronavirus show a lower mortality rate
4th Aug 2020 - Wall Street Journal


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

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COVID-19 rapid antibody test to be rolled out in August

This milestone means the rapid test, for detection of IgG antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) is now available for distribution for professional use. It will be mass produced and tests will be rolled out from the end of August. The test can be administered by healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists and healthcare workers. Following production of tens of thousands of tests across multiple production scale batches the test has been shown to be 99.40% accurate. Testing was performed at Ulster University and at the laboratories of Abingdon Health. The test will be named the “AbC-19 Rapid Test”. It uses a small drop of blood from a finger-prick, and shows results in 20 minutes, without the need to send a sample to a lab.
3rd Aug 2020 - Med-Tech Innovation

COVID-19 long-term toll signals billions in healthcare costs ahead

Late in March, Laura Gross, 72, was recovering from gall bladder surgery in her Fort Lee, New Jersey, home when she became sick again. Her throat, head and eyes hurt, her muscles and joints ached and she felt like she was in a fog. Her diagnosis was COVID-19. Four months later, these symptoms remain. Gross sees a primary care doctor and specialists including a cardiologist, pulmonologist, endocrinologist, neurologist, and gastroenterologist. “I’ve had a headache since April. I’ve never stopped running a low-grade temperature,” she said. Studies of COVID-19 patients keep uncovering new complications associated with the disease.
3rd Aug 2020 - Reuters

Hyperglycaemia and insulin treatment highlighted as poor outcome indicators for COVID-19

People with diabetes treated with insulin to get their blood glucose under control while in hospital with COVID-19 had particularly high rates of poor outcomes, Chinese research has found. It comes as another study from China has suggested uncontrolled blood sugar levels on admission to hospital for coronavirus is a risk factor for poor COVID-19 outcomes in people without diabetes.
3rd Aug 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

COVID-19: Pharma on the frontline

Pharma stepped up to support the NHS, the country and the World during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pf brings you some examples of pharma on the frontline of COVID-19. On the frontline – medical affairs to ICU doctor George Godfrey, AstraZeneca UK
3rd Aug 2020 - Pharmafield

Dozens of COVID-19 vaccines are in development. Here are the ones to follow.

More than 150 coronavirus vaccines are in development across the world—and hopes are high to bring one to market in record time to ease the global crisis. Several efforts are underway to help make that possible, including the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, which has pledged $10 billion (£7 billion) and aims to develop and deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by January 2021. The World Health Organisation is also coordinating global efforts to develop a vaccine, with an eye toward delivering two billion doses by the end of 2021.
3rd Aug 2020 - National Geographic UK

WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 - 3 August 2020

On Friday, the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 met and reviewed the current pandemic. It was a sobering moment coming six months on from when the Committee advised, and I agreed, that the outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. At the time, 30 January, there were fewer than 100 cases and no deaths outside of China. When the Committee met three months ago, three million cases of COVID-19 had been reported to WHO, and more than 200,000 deaths. Since then, the number of cases has increased more than fivefold to 17.5 million, and the number of deaths has more than tripled, to 680,000. In addition to the direct toll COVID-19 is having, the Committee noted the health impact that disrupted services are having on a range of other diseases.
3rd Aug 2020 - World Health Organization

Coronavirus: New 90-minute tests for Covid-19 and flu 'hugely beneficial'

New 90-minute tests that can detect coronavirus and flu will be rolled out in hospitals and care homes from next week. The "on-the-spot" swab and DNA tests will help distinguish between Covid-19 and other seasonal illnesses, the government said. The health secretary said this would be "hugely beneficial" over the winter. Currently, a third of tests take longer than 24 hours to process. The announcement comes as the government pushed back a July target to regularly test all care home staff and residents - a key move to identify so-called silent spreaders, those who are infected but do not show symptoms. This is unlikely to be achieved until September because the number of testing kits has become more limited.
3rd Aug 2020 - BBC News

COVID-19 has “devastating” effect on women and girls

Natalia Kanem, executive director of the UN Population Fund, is among experts warning about disrupted health services and a surge in gender-based violence. Sophie Cousins reports. As the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates, fears are increasing about the effect of the pandemic on women's and girls' sexual and reproductive health and their access to care. In response to COVID-19, in March, WHO issued interim guidance for maintaining essential services during an outbreak, which included advice to prioritise services related to reproductive health and make efforts to avert maternal and child mortality and morbidity.
3rd Aug 2020 - The Lancet

The Americas Account For 50% Of Top Countries Hardest Hit By Covid-19

Of the top 10 countries that have reported the greatest number of cases, five of them are in the Americas, based on Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 map. Important U.S. states are seeing a spike in the infection curve. Perhaps our over-reliance on case loads rather than hospitalizations makes it worse than it is. But for those in the government taking their cues from positive SARS-CoV-2 test results, even if the patient is not in need of hospitalization, then the spike in California, Texas and Florida is a headwind in every sense of the word — bad for markets, bad for business, bad for schools, bad for society.
3rd Aug 2020 - Forbes

Coronavirus: WHO warns of 'no silver bullet' amid vaccine search

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that while there is hope for a vaccine against Covid-19, one might never be found. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing there was "no silver bullet at the moment - and there might never be". Mr Tedros implored people around the world to comply with measures such as social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing, saying: "Do it all." Globally, more than 18 million Covid-19 infections have been recorded. The death toll stands at 689,000, with both figures given by the US-based Johns Hopkins University.
3rd Aug 2020 - BBC News

Covid test: 'An entire laboratory in this cartridge'

New 90-minute tests that can detect coronavirus and flu will be rolled out in care homes and laboratories from 10 August in the UK. Currently, three-quarters of test results are returned within 24 hours and a quarter can take up to two days. The government says almost half a million of the new rapid swab tests, called LamPORE, will be available in adult care settings and laboratories, with millions more due to be rolled out later in the year. Additionally, thousands of DNA test machines, which can analyse nose swabs, will be rolled out across NHS hospitals from September. The "on-the-spot" swab and DNA tests will help distinguish between Covid-19 and other seasonal illnesses, according to the government. Professor Chris Toumazou, CEO of DnaNudge, showed the BBC how the new test works.
3rd Aug 2020 - BBC News

Testing, Tracking Can Keep Students’ Virus Risk Low, Studies Say

Only 1.2% of people caught the virus after they were in contact with 27 children or teachers who were infectious, according to a study of schools and nurseries in New South Wales, Australia, where track, trace and isolation measures were used. Further analysis of seven sites found the disease was less likely to spread from child to child than from staff to staff, researchers said Monday in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. Concerns over resurgent infections have grown as countries struggle to re-open schools and childcare centers full-time. Federal data show that children account for more of total infections than previously thought in some U.S. states, spurring those such as California to reverse course and continue with online classes. While children account for a very small proportion of Covid deaths, researchers still aren’t sure of their overall role in the pandemic.
3rd Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Coronavirus lockdown caused sharp increase of insomnia in UK

The number of Britons suffering sleep loss caused by worrying rose from one in six to one in four as a direct result of the huge disruption to people’s social and working lives after the restrictions began on 23 March. Social isolation, loss of employment, financial problems, illness, fear of getting infected with coronavirus and the pressures of juggling work and home-schooling all contributed to the trend. Prof Jane Falkingham, from the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Centre for Population Change at Southampton University, which undertook the research, said: “Sleep loss affected more people during the first four weeks of the Covid-19 related lockdown than it did before. We observed a large increase in the number of Britons, both men and women, suffering anxiety-induced sleep problems.
2nd Aug 2020 - The Guardian

Switzerland should tighten coronavirus restrictions again, government advisor says

Switzerland should tighten restrictions to curb the coronavirus again following a recent spike in cases, in order to prevent the need for much harsher lockdown measures in future, the new head of the country’s coronavirus taskforce said. Switzerland has seen the number of new cases of COVID-19 surge to more than 200 a day recently after an average of 35 per day in June. Martin Ackermann, who heads the body that provides scientific advice to the Swiss government, said the country was on the brink of a big increase in infections and had little room to manoeuvre. “We should intervene early to prevent exponential growth,” Ackermann told newspaper SonntagsZeitung. “Otherwise there’s a risk of drastic and expensive restrictions. This must be prevented under all circumstances.”
2nd Aug 2020 - Reuters


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

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Vaccine Confronts Humanity With Next Moral Test

When it comes to Covid-19, “It’s pretty hard to have informed consent when we barely know anything about this yet.” There are fears that the virus can cause lasting damage even in twentysomethings, for example, but little clear evidence. Can volunteers really consent to expose themselves to such poorly understood risks?
2nd Aug 2020 - Bloomberg

Antibody tests fail to detect people who had mild coronavirus symptoms

Tests designed to check whether people have had coronavirus might be missing those who only experienced mild symptoms, a new study has found. Researchers at Oxford University gave an antibody test to more than 900 healthcare workers and found significant numbers came back negative, even among those who were likely to have contracted Covid-19. The findings have thrown fresh doubts over the accuracy of the tests and how they can be used to help the UK avoid another lockdown.
2nd Aug 2020 - Metro.co.uk

Covid-19: Cases to be reviewed over weekend ahead of phase-four reopening

The number of Covid-19 cases will be monitored “very carefully” over the weekend, the Taoiseach has said ahead of a Cabinet decision on Tuesday on moving to phase four of the reopening roadmap. Last night marked 38 additional cases of Covid-19 reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team following a spike of 85 new cases on Thursday. The acting chief medical officer warned “we may be beginning to see more cases which we cannot link to outbreaks or close contacts”. Phase four, due to commence on August 10th, would mean pubs which do not serve food reopen as well as gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors. Mr Martin yesterday said the spike in cases was a concern and the Government will “watch and monitor very carefully” what happens in the coming days. “We have to see if a pattern has emerged or if it was relating to specific clusters that have emerged in recent days,” he said.
1st Aug 2020 - The Irish Times

Italy travel linked to 1 in 4 first virus cases outside China: study

Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used publicly-available data to trace the early spread of COVID-19 to dozens of affected countries in the 11 weeks before the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic. They found that 27 percent of all the first reported cases were people with travel links to Italy, while 22 percent had been to China and 11 percent had travelled from Iran. "Our findings suggest that travel from just a few countries with substantial SARS-CoV-2 transmission may have seeded additional outbreaks around the world before the characterisation of COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020," said the CDC's Fatimah Dawood, who co-led the research. The study, which was published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases this week, found that overall three quarters of the first cases in affected countries were linked to recent travel.
1st Aug 2020 - Medical Xpress

Coronavirus threat rises across U.S.: ‘We just have to assume the monster is everywhere’

The coronavirus is spreading at dangerous levels across much of the United States, and public health experts are demanding a dramatic reset in the national response, one that recognizes that the crisis is intensifying and that current piecemeal strategies aren’t working. This is a new phase of the pandemic, one no longer built around local or regional clusters and hot spots. It comes at an unnerving moment in which the economy suffered its worst collapse since the Great Depression, schools are rapidly canceling plans for in-person instruction and Congress has failed to pass a new emergency relief package. President Trump continues to promote fringe science, the daily death toll keeps climbing and the human cost of the virus in America has just passed 150,000 lives.
1st Aug 2020 - The Washington Post

US gov announces $2.1bn deal with pharma companies to make 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine

French firm Sanofi and British company GlaxoSmithKline will make the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is being developed by both firms working together. They will receive up to $2.1 billion to supply vaccines for 50 million people. The U.S. government has the option to buy another 500 million doses
1st Aug 2020 - Daily Mail

Indian Billionaires Bet Big on Head Start in Coronavirus Vaccine Race

In early May, an extremely well-sealed steel box arrived at the cold room of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker. Inside, packed in dry ice, sat a tiny 1-milliliter vial from Oxford, England, containing the cellular material for one of the world’s most promising coronavirus vaccines. Scientists in white lab coats brought the vial to Building 14, carefully poured the contents into a flask, added a medium of vitamins and sugar and began growing billions of cells. Thus began one of the biggest gambles yet in the quest to find the vaccine that will bring the world’s Covid-19 nightmare to an end.
1st Aug 2020 - The New York Times

COVID infections on the rise in England, survey shows

There has likely been a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive for COVID-19 and in the overall incidence of infections in recent weeks, Britain’s Office for National Statistics said on Friday. The weekly infection survey said an estimated 1 in 1,500 individuals had COVID-19 in the most recent week from July 20-26, compared to 1 in 2,000 the previous week. “Modelling of the rate of new infections over time suggests that there is now some evidence that the incidence of new infections has increased in recent weeks,” the ONS said. The survey, which looks at estimated infections in the community, did not provide enough evidence to say whether COVID-19 infection rates differ by region, the ONS said.
31st Jul 2020 - Reuters UK

US agrees to buy Sanofi-GSK Covid-19 vaccine

The US has agreed to pay Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline up to $2.1bn to accelerate the development of the experimental Covid-19 vaccine the companies are developing and secure an initial 100m doses. The majority of the funding will go to Sanofi since the French pharma group came up with the vaccine candidate, which will be paired with GSK’s adjuvant, an extra ingredient designed to boost its effectiveness. The agreement is part of what President Donald Trump dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”, where the US is aiming to compress the time it takes to bring a vaccine to market from the usual decade to 12 to 18 months. It is also the eighth deal struck through the US’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) and brings the total pledged to over $8.3bn, more than any other country or government to date.
31st Jul 2020 - Financial Times

EU Poised to Secure Sanofi Deal for Coronavirus Vaccine

Sanofi SA and GlaxoSmithKline Plc on Friday said they are in advanced discussions to supply up to 300 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine for the 27-country European Union. Armed with an emergency fund of more than 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion), the European Commission wants to strike deals with up to six drugmakers for their vaccines for their 450 million citizens against the coronavirus that has killed 674,000 people worldwide. The Commission said the aim of the talks with Sanofi was to clinch an advance purchase deal.
31st Jul 2020 - New York Times

Large U.S. COVID-19 vaccine trials will exclude pregnant women for now

The first two COVID-19 vaccines to enter large-scale U.S. trials will not be tested in pregnant women this year, raising questions about how this vulnerable population will be protected from the coronavirus, researchers told Reuters. Moderna (MRNA.O) and Pfizer (PFE.N), which has partnered with Germany’s BioNTech (22UAy.F), this week separately launched clinical trials that use a new and unproven gene-based technology. Both companies are requiring proof of a negative pregnancy test and a commitment to using birth control from women of childbearing age who enroll. Drugmakers say they first need to make sure the vaccines are safe and effective more generally. In addition, U.S. regulators require that drugmakers conduct safety studies in pregnant animals before the vaccines are tested in pregnant women to ensure they don’t harm the fetus or lead to miscarriage.
31st Jul 2020 - Reuters UK

Can you get Covid-19 through your eyes? Possibly. Should we all be wearing goggles? Probably not.

We know that the coronavirus can enter the body through the nose and mouth -- hence the constant recommendations from doctors to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. But what about the eyes? Should we all be wearing goggles or face shields as well? It's certainly possible that a person could get Covid-19 through the eyes, said Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. There is "emerging evidence" that people are catching the virus from droplets floating in the air, the World Health Organization confirmed earlier this month. One of the ways those droplets can enter your body is through the eyes. It's also possible to get infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching the eye, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
31st Jul 2020 - CNN

Northern Ireland launches UK's first COVID-19 tracker app

Northern Ireland on Friday launched the United Kingdom’s first COVID-19 tracing app, and the first one that can also trace users in another country, Ireland, who have been in contact with someone suffering from the disease. The developer NearForm, which hopes the app will become a blueprint eventually synching up all of Europe, launched a similar app in Ireland on July 8, and cases can now be traced across the island’s open border by two separate health services. NearForm’s technical director Colm Harte said the technical approach it used in developing StopCovid NI would work with apps across the rest of the UK and that it could apply across Europe if countries agree how to share and store data.
31st Jul 2020 - Reuters UK

The Three Key Hurdles for a Coronavirus Vaccine to Clear

Vaccines have transformed the world, saving hundreds of millions of lives. They are also by far our best hope to stop the Covid-19 pandemic. Our other choices for stopping the disease are staying apart, which hammers our economy and society, or building “herd immunity” through natural infection, which would mean more than a million deaths in the U.S. and 10 million or more deaths world-wide. But the push for a Covid-19 vaccine faces three key hurdles.
31st Jul 2020 - The Wall Street Journal

Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine performs well in early tests

A single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine elicited “robust” protection against Covid-19 when tested on animals, with clinical human trials now under way in the US and Belgium. The pre-clinical data, published in Nature magazine, show the drugmaker’s dose successfully prevented subsequent infection in non-human primates, spurring so-called “neutralising antibodies”. It also provided complete or near-complete protection against Covid-19 in their lungs. “The findings give us confidence as we progress our vaccine development and upscale manufacturing in parallel,” said Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer.
30th Jul 2020 - Financial Times

Aboard the Diamond Princess, a Case Study in Aerosol Transmission

In a new report, a research team based at Harvard and the Illinois Institute of Technology has tried to tease out the ways in which the virus passed from person to person in the staterooms, corridors and common areas of the Diamond Princess. It found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets that were light enough to float in the air, for several minutes or much longer. The new paper has been posted on a preprint server and submitted to a journal; it has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it was shown by Times reporters to nearly a dozen experts in aerosols and infectious disease. The new findings, if confirmed, would have major implications for making indoor spaces safer and choosing among a panoply of personal protective gear.
30th Jul 2020 - The New York Times

Yes, the Coronavirus Is in the Air

The World Health Organization has now formally recognized that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is airborne and that it can be carried by tiny aerosols. As we cough and sneeze, talk or just breathe, we naturally release droplets (small particles of fluid) and aerosols (smaller particles of fluid) into the air. Yet until earlier this month, the W.H.O. — like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Public Health England — had warned mostly about the transmission of the new coronavirus through direct contact and droplets released at close range. The organization had cautioned against aerosols only in rare circumstances, such as after intubation and other medical procedures involving infected patients in hospitals.
30th Jul 2020 - The New York Times

New push to raise Covid-19 testing capacity in England to 500,000 a day

Plans to raise Covid-19 testing capacity in England to 500,000 people a day have been signalled by the government as infections rise in Europe and ahead of a feared winter surge in cases. More people without symptoms are to be tested; the goal is to reach 150,000 tests a day for people who may be asymptomatic, such as those working in health and social care and other jobs that involve contact with other people. Anyone who has even mild symptoms can be tested and is urged to do so. In the latest week for which data has been published, from 16 to 22 July, 366,397 people were newly tested in hospitals, care homes and the community, and just over 4,000 were positive. But this falls considerably short of the number of new infections in England estimated by modellers, such as the MRC Biostatistics Unit in Cambridge, which published new data on Wednesday showing there were 3,000 a day – a figure similar to that produced by the Office of National Statistics.
30th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

J&J Vaccine Protects Monkeys From Covid With Single Shot

Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine protected macaque monkeys with a single shot in a pre-clinical study, potentially gaining on other vaccines that are further along in testing but require two doses over time. Five of six primates exposed to the pandemic-causing pathogen were immune after a single injection. The exception showed low levels of the virus, according to a study published in the medical journal Nature. Researchers evaluated a total of 52 macaques and seven different vaccine prototypes. The health-care behemoth kick-started human trials on July 22 in Belgium and in the U.S. earlier this week.
30th Jul 2020 - Bloomberg

Scientists discover why coronavirus leads to a loss of smell

Scientists have discovered why coronavirus causes some patients to lose their sense of smell. Temporary loss of smell, or anosmia, is one of the earliest and most commonly reported warning signs of Covid-19. Studies suggest the “devastating” symptom better predicts the disease than other well-known symptoms such as a fever or cough. But the actual cause for loss of smell in Covid-19 patients has been unclear – until now. Researchers at Harvard Medical School in the United States have identified which cell types used for smelling are most vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
29th Jul 2020 - The Independent


Scientific Viewpoint - COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Analysis - 31st Jul 2020

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This Is Where We're At With Treatments For Covid-19 Right Now

With a vaccine not looking likely this side of Christmas, scientists and health experts are scrabbling to find existing drugs that can help fight against the worst effects of Covid-19. The Recovery trial in the UK has already unearthed one game-changing drug, dexamethasone, and has crossed two other treatments off the list after they didn’t show any clinical benefits. The first is hydroxychloroquine, the drug fiercely advocated for by Donald Trump despite studies showing it’s not effective; the other is lopinavir-ritonavir, a drug commonly used to treat HIV.
30th Jul 2020 - Huffington Post UK

EU warns of risk of syringe shortages for possible COVID-19 vaccine

The European Union has warned member states of the risk of shortages of syringes, wipes and protective gear needed for potential mass vaccinations against COVID-19 and urged them to consider joint procurement, according to an EU document. The bloc has also asked EU governments to consider jointly buying more shots against influenza and increase the number of people vaccinated to reduce the risk of simultaneous flu and COVID-19 outbreaks in the autumn. No vaccine against COVID-19 has yet been fully developed or approved, but countries around the world are seeking to secure supplies of potential shots so that, if and when vaccine candidates prove effective, immunisation campaigns can start quickly. Some countries hope that may be as early as this year. Should a shot prove effective, manufacturing and distribution issues could become hurdles.
30th Jul 2020 - Reuters

J&J Covid-19 vaccine performs well in early tests

A single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s experimental coronavirus vaccine elicited “robust” protection against Covid-19 when tested on animals, with clinical human trials now under way in the US and Belgium. The pre-clinical data, published in Nature magazine, show the drugmaker’s dose successfully prevented subsequent infection in non-human primates, spurring so-called “neutralising antibodies”. It also provided complete or near-complete protection against Covid-19 in their lungs. “The findings give us confidence as we progress our vaccine development and upscale manufacturing in parallel,” said Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer.
30th Jul 2020 - The Financial Times

After the surge, the psychological impact of Covid-19 is hitting home

Having dealt with the months-long terror of crammed ICUs, unavailable PPE and the fear of getting infected, the coronavirus crisis is taking its toll on healthcare workers' mental health
30th Jul 2020 - Wired.co.uk

Scotland expected to have Covid-19 tracker app by autumn

Scotland is at an “advanced stage” in developing a coronavirus proximity tracing app to be available by the autumn, the First Minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon revealed she hopes to give more details about the software soon after a question from Gillian Martin MSP on Thursday.
30th Jul 2020 - Aberdeen Evening Express

Hancock: NHS needs to 'double down' on tech advances after Covid-19

Speaking about the future of healthcare at a Royal College of Physicians event, Hancock told the audience better technology was needed for better healthcare. “We want to double down on the huge advances we’ve made in technology within the NHS and social care, because it’s not really about technology, it’s about people,” he said. The health secretary also said in his speech that digital services should be used to keep patients out of hospital when appointments aren’t essential, free up clinicians time, and better connect people with their care. Referencing difficulties in developing new technology, Hancock added they don’t make it “any less valuable”. “To promote collaboration and change we need more transparency, better use of data, more interoperability and the enthusiastic adoption of technological innovation that can improve care,” he said. “This crisis has shown that patients and clinicians alike, not just the young, want to use technology.
30th Jul 2020 - Digital Health

As a Covid-19 survivor, I don't have blind faith in health experts. Here's why

When WHO officials walked back their statement that asymptomatic transmission was “very rare”, Andy Slavitt, a former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, tweeted that WHO officials should “stop expressing certainty when you don’t have it.”. It is equally important that the media and public retain a critical eye when seeking to understand information from WHO officials. Scientists have been criticized before for being bad communicators, but as Slavitt points out, “public health communication isn’t ancillary to public health. It is the central component in battling it.” Unfortunately, a knowledge gap still exists between scientists, public health officials and the public they are supposed to serve.
30th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

Wellbeing levels fell during the pandemic but improved under lockdown, new research shows

From June 2019 to June 2020, YouGov surveyed a nationally representative sample of around 2,000 respondents each week across Great Britain. It asked them to report on 12 mood states: happiness, contentment, inspiration, optimism, energy levels, sadness, apathy, stress, boredom, frustration, loneliness and fear. Data from the survey suggests that the pandemic had a strong negative effect on people’s mood, but that this quickly returned to baseline after the introduction of lockdown. Boredom, loneliness, frustration and apathy increased with the introduction of lockdown, but so did happiness, optimism, contentment and even inspiration. Meanwhile, sadness, fear and stress all fell.
30th Jul 2020 - The Conversation

Cummings trips damaged UK lockdown unity, study suggests

The scandal over Dominic Cummings’ trips to and around Durham during lockdown damaged trust and was a key factor in the breakdown of a sense of national unity amid the coronavirus pandemic, research suggests. Revelations that Cummings and his family travelled to his parents’ farm despite ministers repeatedly imploring the public to stay at home – as exposed by the Guardian and the Daily Mirror in May - also crystallised distrust in politicians over the crisis, according to a report from the thinktank British Future. The findings emerged in a series of surveys, diaries and interviews carried out over the first months of the pandemic as the public got to grips with profound changes to their habits, relationships and lifestyles.
30th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: UK lockdown solidarity 'starting to fray'

The restrictions of lockdown have fostered a new community spirit in Britain, but there are signs feelings of solidarity and togetherness are already beginning to fragment and fray. That is the warning from a campaign called Together, which includes the NHS, charities, media groups and employers among its founders. The organisation helped organise the birthday clap for the health service this month and is launching a national public consultation on how to avoid new community divisions opening up.
30th Jul 2020 - BBC News

Britain's lockdown blitz spirit 'is starting to fray' as togetherness in early stages of pandemic is replaced by anger at those not following rules, says study

Britons were brought together in the first weeks after lockdown both within their communities and nationally. Clap for Carers also played a major role in community spirit with nearly seven in ten people taking part by May. But unity began to dissipate by mid-May amid a perception that young people were not socially distancing. Support for Black Lives Matter was 'tempered by concerns about public health and violence on the protests.'
30th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

Russia plans 'world's first approved' COVID-19 vaccine by Aug. 12

Russia plans to register a vaccine for the novel coronavirus by Aug. 10-12, clearing the way for what its backers say would be the world’s first official approval of an inoculation against the pandemic. The drug, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, may be approved for civilian use within three to seven days of registration by regulators, according to a person familiar with the process, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The Gamaleya vaccine is expected to get conditional registration in August, meaning trials will still need to be conducted on another 1,600 people, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said in a televised meeting of officials with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. Production should begin in September, she said.
30th Jul 2020 - The Japan Times

Mumbai’s slums test lockdown logic

The study is credible, with municipal authorities partnering with the respected Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and others. The randomised sample of nearly 7,000 covers folks from three areas of the city. It’s evidence that crowding speeds transmission and that low-income groups are more vulnerable to infection. Just 16% of people sampled in more affluent parts of the same three areas of Mumbai were found to have the antibodies. Encouragingly, the study suggests an infection mortality rate of between 0.05% and 0.01% based on official death numbers – that’s low and would remain so, relative to many other estimates, even if the numerator is under-reported.
30th Jul 2020 - Reuters

Coronavirus: Under-5s spread infection as easily as older kids

Researchers looked at 145 patients in three groups: children younger than age five, children between ages five and 17 years and adults from ages 18 to 65 Children kindergarten-age or younger had viral loads between 10-fold and 100-fold greater in their upper respiratory tract. This implies that young children can spread the virus just as easily as teenagers. However, they only develop mild illness compared to older children and adults
30th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus: England highest level of excess deaths

The UK saw some of the biggest rises in deaths rates in Europe in the months until the middle of June, official analysis shows. England saw the largest increase in death rates in Europe, with Scotland seeing the third largest increase. The Office for National Statistics says that Spain saw the highest peak in rates of death in Europe. But the UK had the longest period of above-average deaths and so overall saw higher death rates.
30th Jul 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Hydroxychloroquine ineffective says Fauci

US President Donald Trump has again defended the use of hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, contradicting his own public health officials. He said the malaria medication was only rejected as a Covid-19 treatment because he had recommended its use. His remarks come after Twitter banned his eldest son for posting a clip promoting hydroxychloroquine. There is no evidence the drug can fight the virus, and regulators warn it may cause heart problems. On Wednesday Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, told the BBC that hydroxychloroquine was not effective against the virus. "We know that every single good study - and by good study I mean randomised control study in which the data are firm and believable - has shown that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of Covid-19," he said.
29th Jul 2020 - BBC News


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

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Kodak shares rise nearly 1,500% on Covid drug loan deal

Kodak, which is based in Rochester, New York, and the US International Development Finance Corporation, announced on Tuesday that the company had secured a $765m loan to produce drug ingredients under the Defense Production Act. Kodak shares began climbing on Monday. On that day, a Rochester television station published — and then deleted — a report saying an announcement was forthcoming from the company on Tuesday, news anchor Adam Chodak of CBS-affiliate WROC told the Financial Times. The WROC report did not include details on what the two organisations would reveal, beyond a manufacturing agreement related to Covid-19.
30th Jul 2020 - Financial Times

EU readies up to $53 million to boost collection of plasma to fight COVID-19

The European Union has made available up to 45 million euros ($53 million/£40 million) to increase the collection of plasma from COVID-19 survivors for the treatment of people who contract the disease, a spokesman told Reuters. The move confirms the EU's growing confidence in experimental therapies based on so-called convalescent plasma, which is currently used in hospitals for direct transfusions to critically ill patients and is being tested to develop possible medicines against COVID-19. Money is coming from an emergency fund that the European Union has so far used only for highly sensitive issues throughout the pandemic, including the purchase of another COVID-19 treatment and potential vaccines. Grants will be distributed to blood collection centres to help them buy new equipment, such as testing kits and machines that separate plasma from blood, the EU spokesman said.
29th Jul 2020 - YAHOO!

New survey finds large racial divide in concern over ability to pay for COVID-19 treatment

People of color are far more likely to worry about their ability to pay for healthcare if diagnosed with COVID-19 than their White counterparts, according to a new survey from nonprofit West Health and Gallup. By a margin of almost two to one (58% vs. 32%), non-White adults report that they are either "extremely concerned" or "concerned" about the potential cost of care. That concern is three times higher among lower-income versus higher-income households (60% vs. 20%). The data come from the West Health/Gallup U.S. Healthcare Study, an ongoing survey about Americans' experiences with and attitudes about the healthcare system. The latest findings are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,017 U.S. adults interviewed between June 8 and June 30.
29th Jul 2020 - Medical Xpress

Russian COVID-19 vaccine approval imminent, source says

Russia's first potential COVID-19 vaccine will win local regulatory approval in the first half of August and be administered to frontline health workers soon afterwards, a development source close to the matter told Reuters. A state research facility in Moscow - the Gamaleya Institute - completed early human trials of the adenovirus-based vaccine this month and expects to begin large-scale trials in August. The vaccine will win regulatory approval from authorities in Russia while that large-scale trial continues, the source said, highlighting Moscow's determination to be the first country in the world to approve a vaccine. The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out the vaccine has prompted some Western media to question whether Moscow is putting national prestige before solid science and safety. "(Regulatory) approval will be in the first two weeks of August," the development source said. "August 10 is the expected date, but it will definitely be before August 15. All (trial) results so far are highly positive."
29th Jul 2020 - YAHOO!

Intravacc and Celonic to Develop and Produce a Novel COVID-19 Vaccine

Intravacc, a global leader in translational research and development of viral and bacterial vaccines, and Celonic Group, a premium biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), specialized in development and production of Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMP) and mammalian cell lines expressed bio-therapeutics, today announced that they have signed a research agreement to further design, develop and produce a Covid-19 vaccine based on an immunogenic Spike (S) protein of SARS-CoV-2 combined with Intravacc's prorietary Outer Membrane Vesicle (OMV) technology.
29th Jul 2020 - PR Newswire UK

'One big wave' – why the Covid-19 second wave may not exist

The Covid-19 pandemic is currently unfolding in “one big wave” with no evidence that it follows seasonal variations common to influenza and other coronaviruses, such as the common cold, the World Health Organization has warned. Amid continued debates over what constitutes a second wave, a resurgence or seasonal return of the disease, Margaret Harris, a WHO spokesperson, insisted that these discussions are not a helpful way to understand the spread of the disease. “People are still thinking about seasons. What we all need to get our heads around is this is a new virus and this one is behaving differently,” Harris told a virtual briefing in Geneva, urging vigilance in applying measures to slow transmission that appears to be accelerated by mass gatherings
29th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

UK studies exploring Covid-19 links with ethnicity awarded £4m

Specially tailored public health messaging, the impact of structural racism and whether healthcare workers should be redeployed are among research projects that have been given funding to explore the link between Covid-19 and ethnicity. More than £4m has been awarded to six projects that will help researchers explain and mitigate the disproportionate death rates from coronavirus among people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. The grants are from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
29th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

Coronavirus: Trump sticks by unproven hydroxychloroquine

US President Donald Trump has again defended the use of hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus, contradicting his own public health officials. He said the malaria medication was only rejected as a Covid-19 treatment because he had recommended its use. His remarks come after Twitter banned his eldest son for posting a clip promoting hydroxychloroquine. There is no evidence the drug can fight the virus, and regulators warn it may cause heart problems. On Wednesday Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House coronavirus task force, told the BBC that hydroxychloroquine was not effective against the virus
29th Jul 2020 - BBC News

Average BAME Covid-19 patient decades younger than white Britons in study

People of south Asian heritage admitted to hospital with coronavirus are on average 31 years younger than white British Covid-19 patients, according to a study of inpatients in a town with one of England’s highest infection rates. Doctors at the Royal Oldham hospital in Greater Manchester found that black and minority ethnic coronavirus patients were mostly far younger than their white counterparts. The average age of those being treated was 71. The research, which was published this week but has not yet been peer-reviewed, also found that more than two-thirds of the 470 patients with Covid-19 lived in the most deprived parts of Oldham.
29th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

India coronavirus: 'More than half of Mumbai slum-dwellers had Covid-19'

More than half the residents of slums in three areas in India's commercial capital, Mumbai, tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus, a new survey has found. Only 16% of people living outside slums in the same areas were found to be exposed to the infection. The results are from random testing of some 7,000 people in three densely-packed areas in early July. Mumbai has reported more than 110,000 cases and 6,187 deaths as of 28 July. The survey was carried out by the city's municipality, the government think-tank Niti Aayog and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. It found that 57% of the people tested in slum areas of Chembur, Matunga and Dahisar had been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
29th Jul 2020 - BBC News

Virus curbs tightened over fears of a second wave

Spain and Germany were among the countries tightening restrictions on Tuesday in a bid to cool coronavirus hotspots that have sparked fears of a second wave. The World Health Organization warned that the virus did not appear to be affected by seasonality, as the global death toll from the pandemic passed 654,000 Tuesday—nearly a third of the dead in Europe, according to an AFP tally. More than 100,000 deaths have been recorded since July 9 and the global toll has doubled in just over two months.
29th Jul 2020 - Medical Xpress

Case characteristics, resource use, and outcomes of 10 021 patients with COVID-19 admitted to 920 German hospitals: an observational study

In the German health-care system, in which hospital capacities have not been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, mortality has been high for patients receiving mechanical ventilation, particularly for patients aged 80 years or older and those requiring dialysis, and has been considerably lower for patients younger than 60 years.
29th Jul 2020 - The Lancet

Germany: Coronavirus vaccine unlikely to be widely available before mid-2021

German Research Minister Anja Karliczek said on Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine was unlikely to be widely available before the middle of next year. “We must continue to assume that vaccines for the broader population will only be available from the middle of next year at the earliest,” she told a news conference.
29th Jul 2020 - Reuters

Germany 'won't be able to avoid' a new lockdown when second wave hits, virologist warns as outbreaks spread around the country

Germany will not be able to avoid a second lockdown if it is hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases, a leading virologist has warned. Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit said 'drastic measures' would be back on the table if Germany's health system is overwhelmed by virus cases - a nightmare scenario which Germany has so far avoided. Fears of a second wave are mounting in Germany after an increase of 4,127 new cases in the last week, up from 2,385 two weeks ago. Experts are worried because the virus is spreading across the country and is not confined to a handful of local clusters, with the R rate now regularly above 1.0.
29th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

Russia Plans to Register First Covid-19 Vaccine by Aug. 12

Russia plans to register a coronavirus vaccine by Aug. 10-12, clearing the way for what its backers say would be the world’s first official approval of an inoculation against the epidemic. The drug developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute and the Russian Direct Investment Fund may be approved for civilian use within three to seven days of registration by regulators, according to a person familiar with the process, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
29th Jul 2020 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Japan Shows It’s Defying Covid-19 Damage With Falling Death Rate

Japan avoided a surge in overall fatalities during its deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting the government’s testing methods aren’t resulting in a large number of uncounted deaths linked to Covid-19. Mortality across the nation dropped by 3.5% in May from a year earlier, with Japan recording a total of 108,380 deaths from any cause, data released Tuesday by the nation’s Health Ministry show. The month, during which much of the country was under a state of emergency, saw the most confirmed deaths so far from Covid-19. Japan officially recorded 468 coronavirus-related fatalities in May, almost half its total to date of 1,001.
29th Jul 2020 - Bloomberg on MSN.com

Covid-19 news: Young people may be driving spikes in cases, says WHO

Rising coronavirus infections among young people could be driving recent spikes in cases across Europe, said Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s Europe regional director, in a BBC report today. Kluge said he has two daughters and understands that young people “do not want to miss a summer,” but added that they have a responsibility toward themselves, their family members and their communities. The Netherlands is among countries which have reported higher infection rates among younger people, with about a quarter of people who tested positive there last week aged 20 to 29. Earlier this week, officials in Brittany, France ordered curfews on beaches, parks and gardens in an attempt to prevent large gatherings of young people in particular, according to local leaders. Officials in Spain have also imposed similar curfews, with bars and nightclubs in Catalonia required to close by midnight since Friday.
29th Jul 2020 - New Scientist

'Vaccine nationalism' threatens global plan to distribute COVID-19 shots fairly

To avoid such a scenario, the World Health Organization and other international organizations have set up a system to accelerate and equitably distribute vaccines, the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility, which seeks to entice rich countries to sign on by reducing their own risk that they’re betting on the wrong vaccine candidates. But the idea has been put together on the fly, and it’s unclear how many rich countries will join.
28th Jul 2020 - Science Magazine

Coronavirus can infect people 26 FEET away in cold moving air, finds study that recreated an outbreak in a German food factory

Coronavirus is able to travel more than 26 feet (eight metres) in cold environments with moving air, according to a study that recreated an outbreak in a food factory. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research focused on an outbreak of Covid-19 at a slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, Germany, that infected 1,500 workers. They found a single person in the plant appeared to have infected several others within a 26 feet radius, made possible because of the cold conditions and the constantly circulating air inside the plant.
24th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail


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

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Monkey Data Support Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

The mRNA vaccine co-developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) protected both the upper and lower airways of non-human primates against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Rhesus macaques receiving low or high doses of mRNA-1273 vaccine (10 or 100 μg, two injections 4 weeks apart) were then challenged with the virus via both the nose and the lungs a month after the second injection. Seven of eight vaccinated monkeys in both dosing groups had no detectable virus in the lungs two days afterwards, whereas viral RNA was found in lungs of all eight monkeys receiving placebo, according to Barney Graham, MD, PhD, of NIAID, and colleagues.
28th Jul 2020 - MedPage Today

Evaluation of the mRNA-1273 Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 in Nonhuman Primates

The mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate induced antibody levels exceeding those in human convalescent-phase serum, with live-virus reciprocal 50% inhibitory dilution (ID50) geometric mean titers of 501 in the 10-μg dose group and 3481 in the 100-μg dose group. Vaccination induced type 1 helper T-cell (Th1)–biased CD4 T-cell responses and low or undetectable Th2 or CD8 T-cell responses. Viral replication was not detectable in BAL fluid by day 2 after challenge in seven of eight animals in both vaccinated groups. No viral replication was detectable in the nose of any of the eight animals in the 100-μg dose group by day 2 after challenge, and limited inflammation or detectable viral genome or antigen was noted in lungs of animals in either vaccine group.
29th Jul 2020 - The New England Journal of Medicine

Coronavirus: Thousands of COVID-19 survivors could be diagnosed with sepsis, charity warns

People are being warned to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of sepsis after a study found that as many as 20,000 COVID-19 survivors could be diagnosed with the condition within a year. One in five people who receive hospital treatment for the coronavirus are at risk, according to the UK Sepsis Trust. Sepsis is triggered when the body overreacts to an infection, causing the immune system to turn on itself - leading to tissue damage, organ failure and potentially death. If spotted quickly, it can be treated with antibiotics before it turns into septic shock and damages vital organs.
28th Jul 2020 - Sky News

COVID-19 outbreak in hard-hit U.S. states may be peaking, Fauci says

A coronavirus surge in Florida, California and a handful of other hard-hit states could be peaking while other parts of the country may be on the cusp of growing outbreaks, the top U.S. infectious diseases official said on Tuesday. A spike in cases in Florida, along with Texas, Arizona and California this month has overwhelmed hospitals, forced a U-turn on steps to reopen economies and stoked fears that U.S. efforts to control the outbreak are sputtering. “They may be cresting and coming back down,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” program regarding the state of the outbreak in several Sunbelt states.
28th Jul 2020 - Reuters

Midwest Could See Surge In COVID-19 Cases Unless States Are More Careful, Fauci Warns

The Midwest could be the next area to see a big surge in coronavirus cases, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist warned Tuesday. But there's still time to stop the upswing, he said, if states follow the national guidelines on reopening safely. While the Southern United States has been seeing the fastest rise in cases, that now appears to be on the downswing, Fauci told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America. Fauci's concern is that states including Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky are showing signs of impending danger. Based on the number of positive coronavirus tests in those states, they "are starting to have that very early indication" of a surge, he said. "That's a surefire sign that you've got to be really careful."
28th Jul 2020 - NPR

Loss of smell from Covid-19 is not permanent, scientists say

Loss of smell caused by the coronavirus has baffled scientists. Now, it has been discovered that it's not the crucial sensory neurons affected. Instead, the cells the provide structural support are infiltrated by the virus. These can be repaired, offering hope that anosmia is not permanent
28th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

Reopening the Office? Here's How to Stymie Transmission of Covid-19.

Work that requires physical interactions — construction, retail, food service, entertainment, sports, medical care, education, and salons – will require significant changes to the physical environment and individual behaviors. In designing those changes, leaders should aim for a path-breaking strategy: creating behavioral protocols and built environments that break transmission paths. In other words, effective re-opening strategies focus on breaking up connecting paths rather than just reducing number of connections. Two workplaces might have equal numbers of potential connections through which the virus can spread; but if one workplace disrupts more pathways, it will be doing more to stop the spread of the virus.
28th Jul 2020 - Harvard Business Review

Survey suggests aerosol is significant form of COVID-19 transmission

Early results from a survey of 2000 people in the UK and US has suggested that the COVID-19 transmitted through aerosol transmission is materially significant. The survey analysed by a team of data scientists in the UK, Norway and the US is one of the first to examine a wide range of personal and work-related predictors of transmission. Taking both samples together, being tall more than doubled the probability of having a COVID 19 medical diagnosis or positive test for people over 6ft. The data in both countries, argue the researchers, could suggest that aerosol transmission is very likely, with taller individuals at higher risk – something that would not be expected if transmission was exclusively through droplets. And that, they say, something that would not have been observed if downward droplet transmission was the only transmission mechanism.
28th Jul 2020 - The University of Manchester

Clapped out of ICU, dead days later: the secondary impact of Covid-19

On 19 June, three days after he left the ICU, his daughter visited him for the first time since he was admitted to the hospital. She remembered him telling her he was looking forward to coming home. But later that evening, he had a stroke. “It kind of knocked us out. We weren’t expecting it,” Neha said. On 26 June, 10 days after that celebratory clapping, her father died. Rudresh Pathak’s story of slow, hopeful recovery followed by a stroke and rapid deterioration highlights concerns about the extensive and enduring impact of coronavirus in some patients, his daughter said. A study published last month points to associated brain complications, including strokes, that require being admitted to hospital. Of the 125 patients in the study, 77 had a stroke.
28th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

Negligence to blame for coronavirus infection spike in Germany, says health chief

Negligence is to blame for Germany’s steady rise in new coronavirus infections, one of its senior health officials has said. Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the government agency responsible for disease control, said Germans had become careless about social distancing. His warning came as several European countries experienced COVID-19 spikes. Wieler said on Tuesday: “The new developments in Germany make me very worried. The rise has to do with the fact that we have become negligent.”
28th Jul 2020 - YAHOO!

Coronavirus-linked hunger tied to 10000 child deaths each month

The lean season is coming for Burkina Faso’s children. And this time, the long wait for the harvest is bringing a hunger more ferocious than most have ever known. That hunger is already stalking Haboue Solange Boue, an infant who has lost half her former body weight of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms) in the last month. With the markets closed because of coronavirus restrictions, her family sold fewer vegetables. Her mother is too malnourished to nurse her. “My child,” Danssanin Lanizou whispers, choking back tears as she unwraps a blanket to reveal her baby’s protruding ribs. The infant whimpers soundlessly. All around the world, the coronavirus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meager farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with The Associated Press ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.
28th Jul 2020 - The Japan Times

Lockdown led to happiness rebound after wellbeing plunged with onset of pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak caused life satisfaction to fall sharply, but lockdown went a long way to restoring contentment—even reducing the "wellbeing inequality" between well-off professionals and the unemployed, according to a new study. Researchers from Cambridge's Bennett Institute for Public Policy used a year's worth of data taken from weekly YouGov surveys and Google searches to track wellbeing in the British population before and during the pandemic. They say it is one of the first studies to distinguish the effects of the pandemic from those of lockdown on psychological welfare, as it uses week-by-week data, rather than monthly or annual comparisons. The proportion of Britons self-reporting as "happy" halved in just three weeks: from 51% just before the UK's first COVID-19 fatality, to 25% by the time national lockdown began.
28th Jul 2020 - Medical Xpress

Coronavirus: WHO director general says New Zealand's apt Covid-19 response prevented a large-scale outbreak

New Zealand’s Covid-19 response has once again been put on a pedestal by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus​, WHO’s director general, noted New Zealand was one of the countries that followed advice from WHO around physical distancing, hand hygiene, testing, contact tracing and quarantining. “Where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they’re not, cases go up. “Countries and communities that have followed this advice carefully and consistently have done well, either in preventing large-scale outbreaks – like Cambodia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, Vietnam, and islands in the Pacific and Caribbean – or in bringing large outbreaks under control – like Canada, China, Germany and the Republic of Korea,” he said at Monday’s Covid-19 media briefing.
28th Jul 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Pfizer Says Covid Could Endure, Sees Long-Term Need for Shot

Pfizer Inc. is preparing for the novel coronavirus to endure, leading to long-term demand for a seasonal shot to protect against Covid-19. The New York pharmaceutical giant and its German partner BioNTech SE are front-runners in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, employing a technology known as messenger RNA that can quickly advance through clinical studies. The companies dosed their first U.S. patient in a late-stage trial Monday, and they could be ready to seek approval from regulators as early as October. There has been a growing sense that a one-time vaccine regimen may not be enough to ward off Covid-19 forever. It isn’t clear how long coronavirus antibodies can protect people from the disease, and early trials haven’t yet yielded proof that a shot could prevent infection for an extended period of time. Pfizer said it expects that a Covid-19 vaccine could, like the flu shot, be an inoculation that is needed regularly to be effective.
28th Jul 2020 - Bloomberg


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

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Healthcare workers in COVID-19 units are NINE TIMES more likely to get infected

For the first study, researchers compared asymptomatic healthcare workers in coronavirus units to those not working with coronavirus patients. About 5.4% of employees in COVID-19 units had positive test results as did 0.6 percent from non-COVID wings. In a second study, a team looked at the amount of microdroplets expelled by someone who breathes and coughs to assess coronavirus risk. Hospital ventilation systems have about 10 air exchanges per hour, which means the concentration plateaus after around 30 minutes. By comparison, a typical office only has about three air exchanges per hour, so the concentration increases for more than one hour
27th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

Enrollment in Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine trial to complete by end of summer: Fauci

The top U.S. infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci said on Monday enrollment in Moderna Inc’s late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial is expected to be finished by the end of summer this year. Data readouts from the trial, which enrolled the first of 30,000 trial participants on Monday, could occur by November or even earlier, Fauci said in a media call discussing the late-stage study.
27th Jul 2020 - Reuters

Advice for pet owners confirmed or suspected of having Covid-19

BVA has issued the following advice for pet owners confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19: Restrict contact with pets as a precautionary measure - If your pet requires care, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible - Keep cats indoors if possible, and only if they are happy to be indoors. Try to arrange for someone else to exercise dogs, taking care to restrict any contact with the person walking your dog and making sure they practise good hand hygiene. This is to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease through environmental contamination on their fur – there is no evidence that pet animals can pass Covid-19 to humans - If your pet shows clinical signs, please do not take it to the vet but call the practice for advice first and alert them to the household’s status
27th Jul 2020 - ITV News

Covid-19 vaccines may cause mild side effects, experts say

While the world awaits the results of large clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines, experts say the data so far suggest one important possibility: The vaccines may carry a bit of a kick. In vaccine parlance, they appear to be “reactogenic,” meaning they have induced short-term discomfort in a percentage of the people who have received them in clinical trials. This kind of discomfort includes headache, sore arms, fatigue, chills, and fever. As long as the side effects of eventual Covid-19 vaccines are transient and not severe, these would not be sources of alarm — in fact, they may be signals of an immune system lurching into gear. It’s a simple fact that some vaccines are more unpleasant to take than others. Think about the pain of a tetanus shot, for instance.
27th Jul 2020 - STAT News

How Long Are You Contagious With Covid-19 Coronavirus? Here’s A CDC Update

You may be able to lose a guy in 10 days, based on the 2003 rom-com movie How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. That also may be time that it takes for you to “lose” enough of the Covid-19 coronavirus so that you are no longer contagious, based on updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is now saying that if you have mild-to-moderate Covid-19, keep yourself isolated from other people for at least 10 days after you first noticed symptoms. You can discontinue this isolation after the 10-day mark if you haven’t had a fever for at least 24 hours and your other symptoms have improved. Note that not having a fever because you took a fever-reducing medication like Tylenol doesn’t count. That would be cheating. The fever has to have naturally disappeared. Still having a fever after 10 days means that you may need not only more cowbell but also more isolation.
27th Jul 2020 - Forbes

Coronavirus doctor's diary: Will vaccine sceptics make trials a headache?

It will soon be critical for the NHS to start vaccinating people against flu, to prevent hospitals being swamped with flu and Covid-19 patients this winter. Large-scale trials of Covid-19 vaccines, already under way in some places, are likely to start in Bradford in the autumn. It's therefore worrying, says Dr John Wright of the city's Royal Infirmary, that anti-vax conspiracy theories seem to have flourished in this pandemic.
27th Jul 2020 - BBC News

Coronavirus: Covid 'most severe health emergency' WHO has faced

Covid-19 is easily the most severe global health emergency ever declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), its leader has said. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he would reconvene the WHO's emergency committee this week for a review. There have been five other global health emergencies: Ebola (two outbreaks), Zika, polio and swine flu. More than 16m cases of Covid-19 have been reported since January, and more than 650,000 deaths. "When I declared a public health emergency of international concern on 30 January... there were less than 100 cases outside of China, and no deaths," Dr Tedros said. "Covid-19 has changed our world. It has brought people, communities and nations together, and driven them apart.
27th Jul 2020 - BBC News

COVID-19 gender study gets funding boost

LSE researchers looking at the real-time impact of COVID-19 on women’s health, social and economic welfare are part of a global team which has been awarded a $1.6 million USD grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The team will provide rapid guidance and recommendations to policymakers, and others responsible for responding to the pandemic, by identifying how COVID-19 is affecting women and men differently and gaps in preparedness and response. Dr Clare Wenham, from the Department of Health Policy, and Professor Naila Kabeer, from the Department of International Development and Department of Gender Studies, are working on the project with academics from Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Democratic Republic of Congo, Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria and the USA. The initial Gender and COVID-19 Project was focused on China, Hong Kong, the UK and Canada with support from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR).
27th Jul 2020 - The London School of Economics and Political Science

Llama antibodies could help treat COVID-19

Llamas could be the answer to treating severe bouts of COVID-19, researchers have said. A collaborative team from the Rosalind Franklin Institute, Oxford University, Diamond Light Source and Public Health England say antibodies from the animals have shown to neutralise coronavirus in lab tests. Their findings were based on nanobodies which prevent COVID-19 from entering human cells because it binds so tightly to the spike protein of the virus. The nanobodies are engineered from naturally produced antibodies found in llamas, camels and alpacas.
27th Jul 2020 - Diabetes.co.uk

A virtual respiratory clinic to support patients with Covid-19 after discharge

Many patients discharged from hospital with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 need ongoing clinical support. A team of respiratory clinical nurse specialists set up a virtual clinic providing telephone support to these patients
27th Jul 2020 - Nursing Times

Earlier lockdown 'would likely have saved' bus drivers

An earlier lockdown would "likely have saved" the lives of London bus drivers who died with coronavirus, according to a study. University College London (UCL) was asked by Transport for London (TfL) to investigate the high death rate of London bus workers. Thirty-four London bus workers died with Covid-19, including 29 drivers - 3.5 times the rate of other roles. An earlier lockdown "would likely have saved more lives," the report found. Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who led the study, said: "Our review explicitly suggests that lockdown was the main factor that saved bus drivers' lives. "Because London was an early centre of the pandemic, it is likely that the increased risk among London bus drivers is associated with exposure."
27th Jul 2020 - BBC News

Expert calls for stricter mask controls to halt coronavirus spread, as Melbourne and Mitchell Shire near halfway point in lockdown

Workplace transmission remains a major concern as Victorian cases rise. Premier says too early to know if lockdown will be lifted in mid-August. More than 500 cases linked to aged care centres
27th Jul 2020 - ABC News

Lockdown helped restore happiness, research suggests

The wellbeing inequality gap between wealthy professionals and the unemployed even began to narrow during lockdown, according to a study. Happiness fell as the coronavirus pandemic began – but lockdown helped to restore it, research suggests. The wellbeing inequality gap between wealthy professionals and the unemployed even began to narrow during lockdown, according to the study by Cambridge University’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy. Researchers used a year’s worth of data taken from YouGov Weekly Mood Tracker surveys and Google searches to track wellbeing in the British population before and during the pandemic. They say it is one of the first studies to distinguish the effects of the pandemic from those of lockdown on psychological welfare, as it uses week-by-week data, rather than monthly or annual comparisons.
27th Jul 2020 - Shropshire Star

Is Primary Care Locking In The Digital Gains Of Covid-19?

When the country moved to Alert level four in late March, GPs were asked to do a virtual consult with every patient before seeing any in person. This dramatic shift to using telehealth saw some practices conduct almost all of their consultations over the phone or via video during lockdown. By early June, half of practices had returned to seeing the majority of patients in person, but by the end of the month that had risen to 90 percent. The figures are the results of a series of national surveys conducted by Auckland University asking general practices about their experience with Covid-19 and its aftermath, attracting between 150-170 respondents each time. But despite some practices returning to ‘business as usual’ post-lockdown, there are encouraging signs that some of the digital gains will become permanent.
27th Jul 2020 - Scoop.co.nz

NZ Response Criticised By British Epidemiologists

At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, I heard New Zealand regularly lauded in the international press. Our “bold,” “decisive” move into lockdown was the envy of many of my friends and relatives overseas. Today, however, I heard a different take on the New Zealand response… also from overseas. Two UK epidemiologists (one currently working in Italy), were being interviewed on “Unherd” about what the evidence-based response to Covid-19 should look like. Dr Carl Heneghan is a member of the Centre for Evidence based Medicine at Oxford University and Dr Tom Jefferson is an author and editor of the Cochrane Collaboration's acute respiratory infections group. Both have worked as physicians, with Heneghan still working part-time as a GP.
27th Jul 2020 - Scoop.co.nz


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

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German scientists to host series of concerts to test how coronavirus spreads in crowds

Scientists are planning to hold a series of concerts to work out whether it's possible to hold large indoor events without spreading coronavirus. Researchers at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany are recruiting 4,000 volunteers for the "coronavirus experiment" at an indoor stadium in Leipzig with singer Tim Bendzko on August 22. The scientists have warned that "the existence of entire sports and cultural forms is endangered" as a result of banning crowds amid the Covid-19 outbreak. "We are trying to find out if there could be a middle way between the old and the new normal that would allow organisers to fit enough people into a concert venue to not make a loss," the university's head of clinical infectious diseases, Stefan Moritz, who is coordinating the experiment, told The Guardian.
25th Jul 2020 - Evening Standard

US is accused of hampering attempts to find a Coronavirus vaccine with ‘willy-nilly’ testing – as woman in charge of the UK’s hunt for a cure says she is trying so hard ...

Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University is trying to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. She is critical of the US in their 'willy-nilly' attempt to deal with the virus. If successful, the Oxford team will be in the running to win a Nobel Prize
26th Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

Coronavirus is here 'for the foreseeable future', Tony Blair warns

Tony Blair has told Sky News the UK is going to be living with COVID-19, not eliminating it, for the foreseeable future. He has urged Boris Johnson to put measures in place to contain and control the virus to prevent a new surge of cases in the autumn. The former prime minister has also accused the government of inconsistent messages on face masks, which became compulsory in shops in England on Friday.
26th Jul 2020 - Sky News

US ‘failures’ are holding back search for coronavirus drugs

The failure of the US medical system to match this output has meant that other promising treatments that could have been cleared for widespread use have still to be evaluated. In particular, convalescent plasma (blood plasma that is taken from Covid-19 patients and which contains antibodies that could protect others against the disease) has still to be properly tested on a large-scale randomised trial. “Tens of thousands of people have already been given convalescent plasma in the US but these treatments were not randomised,” said Professor Martin Landray, one of the founders of the Recovery programme. “They just give individuals convalescent plasma in the hope it will work. Vast quantities have been given and they still have no idea whether it helps or harms or has no impact,” added Landray, an expert in the setting up of large-scale drug trials.
26th Jul 2020 - The Guardian

Preventing the next pandemic will cost $22.2 billion a year, scientists say

As the world grapples with the toll of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists are warning the funding needed to prevent the next zoonotic disease outbreak is severely lacking — leaving everyone vulnerable. The price tag for protecting and monitoring pristine forests and wildlife trade where diseases emerge is an estimated $22.2 billion to $30.7 billion, according to the report in the journal Science. While hefty, it pales in comparison to the minimum of $8.1 trillion in losses globally resulting from the current pandemic, the report said.
23rd Jul 2020 - NBC News

COVID-19 recovery can take a few weeks even for young adults

Recovering from even mild coronavirus infections can take at least two to three weeks, according to U.S. research published Friday. Lingering symptoms can even affect otherwise healthy young adults. Among those aged 18 to 34 with no chronic illness, 1 in 5 were still experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after two to three weeks, the study found. Cough, fatigue and body aches were among the most common persistent symptoms. Most previous research on long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms has focused on sicker hospitalized adults. Only 7% of patients in the new study needed hospital treatment.
24th Jul 2020 - The Associated Press

Covid-19, Coronavirus and Virus Risks: How Do People Avoid It?

For the most part, SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, spreads by close personal contact via tiny particles emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings -- or even just breathes normally. These can infect another person by falling into an eye, nose or mouth, by being inhaled or getting stuck on a hand and transferred to one of these entry sites. Here’s an explanation of the established route of contagion and other pathways under investigation.
26th Jul 2020 - Bloomberg

UK could eliminate the coronavirus but it might do more harm than good

Becoming a covid-19-free zone sounds like the ultimate goal for any nation. Several countries around the world have come pretty close and, according to a group of independent scientists, the UK could join them. The group says that, as an island nation, the UK could introduce specific measures over the next year and follow in the footsteps of other island success stories, such as Iceland, Taiwan and New Zealand. But closer scrutiny reveals that no country has truly eliminated the coronavirus from its shores and that doing so would mean making such large sacrifices in other areas of public well-being that it might not be worth it. Earlier this month, Independent SAGE – a self-appointed group of scientists that provides advice with the intention of guiding UK government policy on the coronavirus – published a report recommending that the UK aims for zero reported cases, known as elimination, within the next 12 months.
22nd Jul 2020 - New Scientist News

Gates Says Korean Firm Could Make 200 Million Vaccines by June

SK Bioscience, the South Korean pharmaceutical company backed by Bill Gates, may be capable of producing 200 million coronavirus vaccine kits by next June, the Microsoft Corp. co-founder said in a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Gates is seeking to cooperate closely with South Korea, the presidential office in Seoul said Sunday, citing the July 20 letter, without elaborating on what else it said.
26th Jul 2020 - Bloomberg


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

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Covid-19 threatens access to abortions and contraceptives, experts warn

Rates of unplanned pregnancies have fallen around the world, according to new data published by health research organisation the Guttmacher Institute and the UN Human Reproduction Programme (HRP) on Wednesday. Global rates of unintended pregnancies have fallen from 79 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 in 1990 to 64 in 2019, thanks in part to a concerted effort to increase access to contraceptives, but there are concerns that decades of progress in reducing the numbers risk being undone by Covid-19, as lockdown restrictions hamper health services. Zara Ahmed, a senior policy manager at Guttmacher, warned : “Covid-19 could reverse those declines due to challenges with the supply chain, diversion of providers to the response and lack of access to health facilities during lockdown.”
23rd Jul 2020 - The Guardian

Covid-19 cases in Britain are still plateauing, data shows

King's College London 's COVID Symptom Tracker app monitors cases in the UK. Experts said the number of people being infected has hardly changing for weeks. Cases may be increasing in the North, but it's too early to say for definite Data also shows there are an estimated 28,048 people currently symptomatic
23rd Jul 2020 - Daily Mail

Why do asymptomatic COVID-19 cases even happen?

Health officials are concerned about why some people who test positive for the coronavirus never feel sick. Could it be the luck of genetics? The blessings of youth? Or something else?
23rd Jul 2020 - National Geographic UK

Key Immune System Genes Identified to Explain High COVID Deaths and Spread in Northern Italy Versus Fewer Cases and Deaths in the South

“The identification of HLA alleles that are permissive or protective towards coronavirus infection could inform priorities in disease management and future vaccination campaigns in an easy, cost-effective manner,” says Prof. Luciano Mutti, MD, from the Sbarro Institute in Philadelphia, co-first author of the study. “Despite the intrinsic limits of the ecological approaches, such types of studies have the advantage of considering a large number of cases that are readily available through public datasets. Indeed, geographical studies are often the first to identify risk factors for a variety of diseases. Case-control studies will be then necessary to confirm these findings in Covid-19 patient cohorts,” says Giovanni Baglio, coauthor of the study, epidemiologist from the Ministry of Health. “We hope that this will be feasible in a reasonable timeframe because the research setting in Italy still presents many hurdles,” concludes Giordano.
23rd Jul 2020 - Newswise

'We're out of the storm': Health minister says Italy is past the worst of the Covid-19 crisis

Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said Italy is now past the worst of the crisis, but stressed that caution is still needed. "I believe Italy has made it," Speranza said in a speech on Tuesday to the Coldiretti agricultural group's general assembly. "I'm not thinking of the government but of the country as a whole." "We were the first to be hit in the world after China, we didn't have an instruction manual. We had to learn about the virus," he added. Italy was the first European country to be hit by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has now claimed more than 35,000 lives in Italy according to government figures. "We're out of the storm," the minister added, "even if not yet in a safe port." "I think we need to be honest with each other: these have been the most difficult months in the history of the country since the Second World War".
23rd Jul 2020 - The Local Italy

Russia's Coronavirus Cases Approach 800K Amid Lifted Lockdown

Russia confirmed 5,848 new coronavirus infections Thursday, bringing the country’s official number of cases to 795,038. Over the past 24 hours 147 people have died, bringing the total toll to 12,892 — a rate considerably lower than in many other countries hit hard by the pandemic. A total of 8,277 people recovered over the last 24 hours, bringing the overall number of recoveries to 580,330.
23rd Jul 2020 - The Moscow Times

Can Widespread Mask Use Prevent Lockdowns Where The Virus Is Surging? : Shots - Health News

Now prominent scientists are proposing a radical — and hopeful — possibility: Even as coronavirus cases spiral upward across the United States to levels surpassing this spring's surge, these experts argue that if Americans start wearing masks en masse, the U.S. may yet avoid a return to lockdown measures. "Look, we've never tried to use masks as our primary strategy when outbreaks are this bad," says Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. "But I do believe that if we want to avoid a complete lockdown, we've got to at least give it a shot."
23rd Jul 2020 - NPR

Study finds lockdown having biggest impact on three specific patient groups

New research has found that women, young people, and those living with young children have experienced the greatest rise in mental distress.
23rd Jul 2020 - RACGP

Flu deaths drop in Australia as coronavirus restrictions save hundreds of lives

That compares to 430 deaths in the same period for 2019. Ian Barr, deputy director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, said it was "great news" as influenza was very hard to combat. "I think if we could get this sort of effect every year, we'd be very happy," Professor Barr said.
23rd Jul 2020 - ABC News

Victoria lockdown: State’s coronavirus restrictions aren’t harsh enough

Lockdown restrictions in Victoria have now been in place for 14 days. By this point, we should be starting to see the benefits of lockdown reflected in the state’s day-on-day cases. But Victoria has just recorded another 403 coronavirus cases, and yesterday recorded Australia’s highest-ever 24-hour increase with 484 cases. Victoria University coronavirus researchers Vasso Apostolopoulos, Maja Husaric and Maximilian de Courten say there are several reasons the case numbers haven’t tapered off, including lax restrictions, people not taking the pandemic seriously, and the nature of the virus itself.
23rd Jul 2020 - NEWS.com.au

Victoria should have had full lockdown a week ago - Australian Medical Association president

Victoria should have gone into a New Zealand-style lockdown at least a week ago, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Professor Julian Rait says. Public health messages are not getting through to people in the state, and stricter messages need to be adopted before the virus gets out of control, Rait told Checkpoint. He wants masks to be compulsory throughout the state and construction sites and workplaces shut down except for essential workers.
23rd Jul 2020 - Stuff.co.nz

Armed with social media, Zimbabwean youth fight coronavirus 'infodemic'

To stem the spread of the disease, Zimbabwean youth working with development charity Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) have taken to Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and radio to comb through online comments, identify and correct COVID-19 misinformation. The spread of coronavirus misinformation has been a global issue, with the World Health Organization describing it as an “infodemic”. While tech giants WhatsApp and Facebook have teamed up with African governments to tackle fake news through interactive bots, adverts and push notifications, VSO volunteers are leading the battle within their communities.
23rd Jul 2020 - Reuters

First COVID-19, now bugs: US states brace for illness outbreaks

"It's been a rough year," said David Garabedian, her father. "With any brain injury, it's hard to tell. The damage is there. How she works through it is anyone's guess." As the coronavirus pandemic subsides for now in the hard-hit northeast United States, public health officials in the region are warning about another potentially bad summer for EEE and other insect-borne illnesses. EEE saw an unexpected resurgence last summer across 10 states: Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Tennessee. There were 38 human cases and 15 deaths from the virus, with many of the cases in Massachusetts and Michigan, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most years, the country sees just half a dozen cases of the virus in humans, the agency said.
23rd Jul 2020 - Al Jazeera English

A coronavirus vaccine will NOT be available this year, World Health Organization warns in blow to hopes of a jab getting the pandemic under control

Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies programme, said the first use of a Covid-19 vaccine cannot be expected until early 2021.
23rd Jul 2020 - Daily Mail


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

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New antibody mix could form 'very potent' Covid-19 treatment, say scientists